At a coffee shop (still Thunderbird), and they’re playing Morrissey. I can hear it through my earplugs. Shoot me now.
i listen to my music w/ shure headphones – essentially ear buds w/ built-in ear plugs. that means that it blocks out pretty much all noise that isn’t coming from my ipod. that also means that i end up turning the volume down much lower than where people would normally keep their volume levels set at. waaaaay lower. like the absolute lowest possible volume setting before the ipod goes to mute. and that’s not low enough. while it’s great that apple has incorporated a volume limit so that people can stop themselves from blasting out their ear drums, it would be a nice feature if you could lower the ‘low’ volume threshold on the ipod/iphone (or any device for that matter) so that you can listen to your music as low as you want to go..
i decided recently to start running again, as it will help tone more of my entire body than just riding my bike does. gotta get rid of that flabby belly, you know. being a tech geek, i decided to buy the ipod + nike attachment since it’s only $30. i wasn’t going to buy a pair of $100 sneakers just to make this thing work, so i started checking out some of the many DIY (do-it-yourself) solutions found online. i would have been perfectly happy doing that, had i not come across the nike outlet store at the round rock outlet mall while snapping pics for a theory paper. i needed new sneakers if i was to start running anyway, since my current pair is 3 yrs old and the shocks are likely worn out. i found the cheapest nike ipod compatible sneakers for $50 – one of the lance armstrong 10/2 sneakers.
so yesterday i read the instruction manual, transferred some of LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Lemon Jelly, Shins, and Radiohead to Cindy’s ipod nano (i couldn’t run to country, sorry), slipped the accelerometer component inside the new nike shoe, and attached the wireless component to the ipod nano. everything worked like a charm. scrolled through the menu to nike + ipod, told it to start a basic workout (open ended, instead of a timed or distance based workout) and got running.
this was my first run in years, so despite the fact that i warmed up and stretched, my legs still felt really tight. i ran around the neighborhood and around the UT Intramural Fields. it was so much nicer to run on grass instead of concrete. i started remembering some of my techniques / mindsets from when i ran cross-country back in high school. the only problem was that this time i was listening to music. i honestly am not too sure about listening to music while i run – which is obviously a big component of the this nike + ipod kit. i think part of my enjoyment of running (or how i used to enjoy it) was setting the pace to a song in my head, repeating that beat/refrain, and slowing it down or speeding it up based on my gait. when listening to music, the music sets the pace. that can be good, i suppose, at keeping your speed higher rather than lower, but the music would have to keep the same beat. the nike + ipod can be set to not play music and just track your running, so the whole point could be moot – it will still allow you to play your powersong, though, which is essentially a preset song of your choosing that’s meant to give you that extra mental boost when you’re running your last straightaway (or whatever).
an equally great component of this nike + ipod thing, aside from tracking your pace, distance and calories burned for the entirety of your workout, is the online community. the first time you sync back to itunes after using nike + ipod, it asks you to register w/ the nike + ipod website. once you do that, all of your stats are sent to and maintained at this website. you can draw and track your running routes through the embedded google maps interface. you can browse workout song collections (of course you can buy them on itunes as workout imixes). you can browse all of your runs – and it even gives you a line graph of each runs progress charting speed v. distance. you can browse other people’s stats, and view who has run the most or the fastest or whatever else by week, month, or ever. you can look for a partner to compete w/ anywhere in the world. you can set personal goals – my first goal is to run a 7:35 mile at least 5 times in a month. i’m that out of shape – granted i slowed to a walk for a minute or so mid-run, but my average mile on this 2 mile run was over 11 min.
there are loads of other features, and it’ll probably take me a little bit of time to fully appreciate how this works and to acclimate myself to the workout. the nike + ipod is a great attachment at the very least for tracking your progress – better than a cheap accelerometer and an excel spreadsheet b/c of the tools found w/in the online community.
hot damn – EMI announced w/ Steve Jobs that the entire EMI catalog will be available for DRM-free download at $1.29/song – a $0.30 markup over the traditional DRM-laden $0.99/song. you can also upgrade from DRM-laden to non-DRM for an additional $0.30. all songs will be available in DRM’ed versions as well. this comes just months after Jobs called for the demise of DRM – which Bill Gates also did, but nobody really pays attention to his take since Microsoft’s music products are inconsequential; we know Jobs was pushing behind the scenes, Gates probably not so much.
i’ve been waiting 4 years to go to SXSW – something always came up so that i wasn’t in austin during spring break. but this year was going to be different – this year i was gonna go no matter what! well, combine the fact that i need to complete a bunch of schoolwork, go to some important appointments, drive up to Dallas for a weekend, and pay the price of my firstborn child for a pass, i decided to pass on SXSW this year. next year, for sure!
so i was psyched to see on austinist this morning an absolutely ridiculous lineup at the Mohawk on Mar. 14 from 11a – 6p, and it’s completely free! why austinist has to pair up w/ gothamist for this, i don’t know – last time i checked SXSW and the Mohawk are both completely within the city boundaries of austin, but whatever. i can’t claim to know a bunch of the artists featured, but it’s being headlined by Architecture in Helsinki (or their page on last.fm), which i know and love. unfortunately, i have a doctor appt. from 10:15a-11:30a that day, so if they start the show, then i’ll probably miss them. regardless, i will definitely be at the Mohawk that day, so come join me if you have some time and want to catch some good music – FREE!
i’ve been a part of the last.fm community for 2.5 yrs already, but only recently installed the last.fm software. w/ the exception of a minor bug, it rocks. what the software does is stream music to your computer, based on the type of music you listen to. it creates your profile by installing a plugin to your media player of choice (it has plugins for loads of players) and silently tracks what you listen to. it sounds a little big-brother-ish, but it’s only your music, and its really pretty cool to see your musical profile. you may think you fit a certain musical profile, but when you see the hard stats, it’s hard to deny that you like listening to ABBA.
since my profile extends back 2 years and roughly 12,000 tracks, it has put together a fairly good profile on my tastes. i installed the streaming software (separate from the itunes plugin that tracks my listening habits when i listen to my own music), logged into my profile as it asked me to, and started listening to music. so far today, i’ve discovered music by Stars of the Lid and Chico Buarque, one being ambient and the other Brazilian pop. it’s even streaming Fennesz to me right now, something that i listen to a lot when working and would consider relatively obscure (the music is very layered, fairly complex, and not easy to listen to for a lot of people). when you listen to the streaming audio, you can stop or play the music (but not pause it – licensing issues), love it or ban it (all or nothing, no 5 star system here), and you can also tag it. apparently tagging and the social aspect is last.fm’s real strong suit, but i haven’t tagged anything yet. that’s a bit too much involvment for me – if it can track and suggest music, that’s enough for me. i don’t care to have music streamed to me based on my and the global community’s tags. that’s probably fine for kids in school, or some real die-hards.
being able to see my musical profile is really cool. i’ve had a chart on the right side of my blog for years that shows my weekly listening stats. clicking that chart would take you to my profile page where you can see all sorts of my listening stats, from most played artists, most played songs, albums, etc. you can sort and arrange stats in many ways, and always click further on for stats on the artist – how often the artist played, the most popular song by that artist in the last.fm community, groups that talk about that artist or music type, etc. it’s music information overload. you can also, of course, click on to buy the artist’s album, which i’m sure is where they do or hope to make more money.
last.fm has quite a large community, having been one of, if not, the first music tracking community. there are many others communities, and techcrunch has a good post on a lot of them. the only other one that i belong to is ilike, b/c it has nice user interface that attaches to itunes directly and the ability to ‘like’ artists is intuitive and visually pleasing. it also suggests new music based on what you are listening to, but it does so right w/in itunes so that you don’t need to navigate to a website.
the bug that i mentioned at the beginning is the fact that right now, i can’t see any of the artist info in my last.fm software. i hear the music, but it says that it is constantly fetching artist and station info. the only way i have of knowing what i’m listening to is either already knowing the music or navigating to my profile page and seeing what i just listened to (it updates your profile that quickly). i’m sure this is just a glitch, since this isn’t new software. so if you enjoy finding new and obscure music (you can actually set the obscurity level of the new music they stream to you) or don’t always have your music library w/ you (i.e. i’m working in windows on my macbook and don’t have access to my itunes library or are at work) , give last.fm a try.
i still think that ultimately the Zune will do OK, meaning it won’t be a complete failure – it surely won’t make a dent in iPod, that’s for sure. MS invested a lot, and supposedly the player interface is pretty nice. it’s def still behind the iPod curve, of course, in terms of product design and ergonomics, size, weight.
i think Zune’s major problem is its advertising. not only is it just geeks who know about Zune in the first place, MS’s ad campaign is super confusing – ‘welcome to the social’? what’s that? who in the world would know what they’re talking about if they hadn’t read up on the Zune for months? the ads just show a bunch of people being social – it doesn’t really touch on the fact that they’re promoting a portable music player. this ad is trying to appeal to hip, tech savvy early adopters – people that generally don’t subscribe to MS’s products. it’s hard to believe, and i keep saying this to my friends that listen to me when we talk about it, that after all of the schooling that Apple’s done on everyone regarding marketing and designing their products, things like this can still happen.
oh, and apparently Zune is currently incompatible w/ Vista, as seen through these posts. now that’s just beyond hilarious.
- Zune installation problems, w/ pics: http://www.flx-tech.net/2006/11/zune_on_early_sale_at_bestbuy_1.html
- Zune sales starting way down: http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/11/15/lack-of-internal-talks-at-microsoft-google/
- Zune incompatible w/ Vista: http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=104