Tag Archives: music

The Pre-Cognition of a New Cell Phone Search

CES happened last week and one of the big announcements was Palm’s return from the ashes in the Pre. The announcement of their new smartphone pulled together new developments at Palm, including a linux based OS and advances in user interface design. I naturally drooled at the pics. After glossing over in gadget heaven, I remembered that my cell phone contract is up later this month. It’s high time I shop around and see what’s out there in terms of cell phones and plans. Here’s a quick list of what I’m looking for (and really what people should think about when getting a new phone):

  • Does the storage expand?  Can I slide in a card to expand whatever available amount of storage is on the phone?  Most phones come with a decent amount of storage but chances are I want to swap out stuff when the time comes.
  • Is there a touch screen interface?  This is the next step in user interfaces and it seems to be making its headway through cell phone use.  Is there a touch screen on the phone and how crisp or responsive is the interface when I make gestures?
  • How locked down is the phone?  The current Motorola I have needs a special USB connection to charge, use as headphones, and access the computer. BUT, you must go through my carrier’s software to access it.  A phone with a little more open access to its components is high on my list.
  • Will I be able to play music on it?  This goes together with the locked down phone and storage questions.  Some phones/carriers allow you to just plug your device into a computer and drop music files on it to play.  This is a must have.
  • What kind of applications are available for the phone?  Either Windows Mobile, The iTunes App Store, or Palm’s new App Catalog to add software that is non existent on current devices would benefit me greatly.
  • Following up on the previous point, what kind of services can I connect to from the phone?  My current carrier jacks around with SMS text messaging and therefore inhibits usage on some Web 2.0 services I use frequently.  BrightKite is a good example of an online web service that is cut off or not as usefuly because the carrier getting in the way.
  • Is GPS on the phone?  It’s not big, but working with BrightKite and Google Maps would make this feature seem ideal.
  • What will the data plan cost and what can I do with it?  My monthly bill is pretty high for what I can do.  If I can get more data and or text messaging for my buck, I’d go with that company.  I’m looking at you Sprint Unlimited Plan.

Some of the other topics in smartphone usage aren’t that big to me.  Bluetooth and headset capability is nice but wearing a plug in my ear all the time is my cup of tea.  The battery in my Motorola died on my twice and the third battery for this phone works best, mainly because I bought it from a third party and not the carrier.  I know now what to do when the battery runs out again.  Buttons or keypads aren’t that big to me, even when looking at the Pre, because I’ll be entering text on the phone regardless and can pick up any method to do so fairly quickly.

I think I covered all the bases on the smartphone requirements.  If I missed anything, let me know.  I still need to find out if my carrier has some kind of month to month plan after my contract is up.  If not, I may get a phone real quick.  I hope not, because I really want to hold out for a Palm Pre.  I could go iPhone, but I’m doing all in my power to stay away from it.   It’s still an Apple so it will still be super locked in.  If I get one of those two or some other phone, I’ll let you know.  Maybe by typing up the post from the new smartphone.

I’m as Free as a Songbird 1.0 Now

After a Thanksgiving hiatus, I’m back and while you are a recovering from the holidays and from my tacky headline, I want to talk about the Songbird 1.0 release.  A lot of other media outlets have covered this release so far, but I wanted to give my take on the media player.  I first found out about Songbird 1.0 since it was announced way back in 2005.  Since then, with each new point release, I’ve downloaded and played with its features.  It’s great to see the evolution of what it was to where it is today.  But some of the issues I’ve had with seem to persist.

The Songbird bird project kicked off in response to the closed sourced media players dominating the choices serious music fans could make.  In the spirit of Firefox, they developed (using Mozilla’s rendering engine) a media player that also browses the web much like Firefox.  What that introduced were new channels of music discovery and collaboration.  It was a good idea to start with and we’re now starting to see a solid base with which other services can build from Songbird.

This took forever on my 300,000+ catalog
This took forever on my 300,000+ catalog

Songbird still has some work left, however.  It seems the goal for the project is to get to the heavy music enthusiasts first and let it float on down to casual music fans.  Importing large libraries and working with them should be a top priority.  For each point release, it seems with my library, which tops 3 digits in gigabytes, Songbird struggles during the initial import and thereafter.  Yes it’s a lot of media to work with but if they want to top my current use of Winamp, they need to resolve that real soon.

The other issues I’ve experienced are somewhat trivial but nagging nonetheless.  They dropped PPC support for the Mac after the 0.7 release, which hinders me because of the Macs I still have running around at home.  Songbird has issues switching between the main view and the mini player view.  Lastly, podcast support is absent in the 1.0 release.  The only, seriously the ONLY, reason I use iTunes is for the podcast support.  If Songbird can champion that, I’ll abandon iTunes.

Not Only is Skreemr Integrated, But I Can Download Direct at the Bottom
Not Only is Skreemr Integrated, But I Can Download Direct at the Bottom

There are some great things about Songbird that make it a contender in the media player market.  The one that most appeals to me is how it displays all media on the bottom of a web page you are browsing.  Say you are hitting up your favorite music blog.  Usually there’s media floating around on the page and you have to scroll around to find it.  This feature collects all of the media at the bottom and allows you to work directly with the files.

Songbird also has some developmental and extensibility features that put it head and shoulders above the rest.  Around the 0.5 release they split out development of Songbird into four factions: Themes, Extensions, Web Development, and Core Development.  This provided a clear path for all different types of coders to contribute to the project.  The most exciting one to me is the Web Development portion because of the API they provide.  You can use the API to setup your own ‘store’ to sell music as opposed to the store that iTunes locks you into.  The other development factions mirrors that of the Firefox community and I think we all know how well that put Firefox ahead in terms of browser potential.

It’s great to see Songbird hit 1.0 and I look forward to finally getting in there and digging around in the code.  Somebody needs to improve super large library performance.  I’ve downloaded the source and compiled it, also setting up the dev kit for extensions, but that’s been in the days of TRAC as it now looks like to they switched to Deki Community Edition form Mindtouch.  Hello, Songbird, it’s time we meet again, now that your finally out of your shell.

Turn the ZOOZBeat Around

The guys over at TechCrunch today brought the attention to an announcement that ZOOZBeat is availible for the Nokia N95.  I’ve seen some other music software float around the net for mobile phones.  It’s always nice to see some people who share the same love for music and technology bring out new ways to create music on these tiny devices.  Ever since college, there always seemed to be at least one obscure company that would produce a sequencer or synthesizer for a device that wasn’t originally intended to be musical.

I specifically remember an instance back in college where a programmer buddy of mine one day was touting a drum sequencer program for a Texas Instrument graphing calculator, from what I remember.  For some reason, with the people I hang out with, the integration of music and technology has always been there.  Checking out the videos from the link about, it seems like the ZOOZ folks share that same fascination.  Good luck to those guys.

Where will the boundaries stop?  There is a quiet buzz about the age of convergence, but it seems like devices are still split apart.  Granted the iPhone is pushing that boundry, but smart phones with Windows Mobile have been around for awhile.  You see netbooks this year as a new iteration of devices, so I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that some company, big or small, build a custom hardware/software rig geared toward music creation on netbooks.  Really they are tiny XP/Linux machines anyway.

Maybe that would be a direction some other company can take to produce affordable, pro-sumer type equipment.  I’m looking at you Creative.  Much of the music nowadays is remixable, bedroom type production.  Perhaps a netbook with an iPhone interacting with it on top of a wireless remotted Nintendo DSi all controlling the massive rigs you see at Nine Inch Nails concerts is the wave of the future.  I certainly hope so.

Hello World, Where Have We Been?

Hello World!  Welcome to the relaunch of my personal site.  I guess with every relaunch, one starts anew so let me go over what I’m bringing from the last site.  My old about page talked about my history, my hopes, and my dreams but now almost 3 years later, I’ve felt that it hasn’t been truly realized.  During my sojourns, I’ve come across many changes.  Some of which have helped immensly and some of which set me back.  So I decided to drop everything and start fresh.

The focus of the old site was to be a project hub geared toward my interests in sound, programming, and artificial intelligence.  There really wasn’t anything else I had in mind for the site.  I rolled my own simple blog app but failed to add content on a consistent basis.  Many of the projects ended up just being ideas.  The logos were hand drawn and the site design was all my own.  I really built it from the the ground up.  For some reason, I just stopped working on it and became satisfied with the idea of thinking about working the site.

Bouncing around those 3 topics produced maybe a sprinkle of actual work.  I whipped up some Java classes to play some Pink Floyd MIDI songs, I dabbled in some Flash, and really didn’t research anything in the AI field.  All I really had was project ideas.  Some time ago, I realized this and implemented the Gettting Things Done (GTD) method of task management.  The book is great and I recommend it to anyone who is overwhelmed.  But as I have learned again, the most important part is to actually get things done.  One can spend hours upon hours reading and implementing productivity and still not be productive.

I sometimes fall in love with idea of having something, whether it be a great guitar lick, knowledge in a language, or even a certain body type I wish to fit.  A samll part of that is who I surround myself with, but for the most part it’s habits and behaviors I’ve had with me growing up.  Scan through the years and all you see is fragment ideas that fail to reach a whole.  The GTD method and many of the productivity blogs around the web warn against that dangerous habit.  It just is sometimes hard to admit when you fall into it yourself.  Then, about 2 years ago, something changed.

A series of events took place to lead me to change how I view my life.  Most of my childhood and adult life, I have always been overweight.  Like orca-fat.  Well, that one thing happened.  I believe, especially today, that there is that one thing that leads a person to make a major change.  What’s mine?  I’m not gonna tell.  But what I will tell is that it started a two year process of losing about 70 pounds of weight.  I had one big goal and accomplished that by making small goals.  Set backs happened, lull times came and went, but I was persistent.  It was tough, but I lost the weight.  And I learned so much from it.  This is how I’m appraoching this blog.

What better way to approach a relaunch then to start with the simplest of programs?  Hello World!  The phrase first showed up back in 1972, but with each new langauge, with each new system, with each new software it is the first phrase one would see or use.  Hello World is an announcement to the world that whatever domain has arrived.  Before, I hand coded my own site.  Now, I rolled the latest WordPress to focus on the real projects at hand.  Guess what the first default post for a WordPress install is?  With that, I am now saying:  HELLO WORLD!

It’s a new beginning here at hoketronics.net and it will seed in its simplest form with this post.  As time passes, I will germinate this project in the hopes of growing it into a solid, mature plant in the grand garden of knowledge.  Before, I locked my interests down to certain topics and neglected its growth.  Now everything is in the open.  The template for the WordPress theme is from thematic.  It’s simple and straightforward.  Much with the growth of the site, the growth of the template will be its reflection.  But that’s only the beginning.

The direction of the site will lead me wherever my mind takes me.  I have a great passion for technology, music, and anything creative.  This site will exhibit that and for the first time, nothing will be held back.  I still am interested in many of the topics from my old about page, but now I’m no longer afraid to expose any lack of knowledge in those areas.  After all, I’m starting all over.  I’ve hit my one thing.  HELLO WORLD!