Chance favors the connected mind

So.  What you think?


Trick question:  it’s not what you think!

For procrastinating: – Somehow, some developers figured out a way to build a pretty dang realistic array of music gear IN A WEB BROWSER.  And now you can play with it and be a musician too.

BEWARE:  Twice i’ve opened this page up, and twice i’ve emerged later to discover i had been listening to terrible homemade electronic music for a very long time.

Very addictive.  And very impressive.

HyperDock Brings Windows 7 Goodness to Mac

windows 7 barHyperDock for Mac – Brings Windows 7 Goodness to OS X

Fusing the best of both wonderful OSes, HyperDock brings that oh-so-helpful popup window that appears when you hover your mouse over the Windows 7 taskbar to the Dock in OS X. This is super-helpful for bringing to the foreground the specific window you need right now.

Plus, it’s free-er than the alternative.

Music without strings

ASCAP SucksTaste is the most subjective sense, taste in foods, taste in other humans, etc.  Never truer than when talking about musical tastes.  But there is one thing about music that is universally understood and agreed upon:  and that is that ASCAP sucks.

Seriously, they are like a heavily funded flock of vultures who prey on small businesses and business-owners.  OK, so maybe that scrappy local coffee shop on the corner didn’t know that they weren’t technically allowed to play  the radio in the shop (did you know that?), but did you really have to send one of you operatives to the cafe, and follow that up with letters threatening legal action (and damages on the order of 100s of 1000s of $$ PER SONG).

Yes, the radio is technically not OK (even though that EM radiation is INSIDE YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW), neither is Pandora etc., nor are your CDs or iPod libraries.  So whats a business-owner to do?  You don’t want your customers to sit in silence, they might start noticing things like how dirty the floors are, or that its a beautiful day outside, or worse!

It’s actually a very common concern, and for the internet-savvy out there, there are lots of options available for accessing completely royalty/copyright-free music.  Here are some of the best:

  • Jamendo – MP3s made available by artists for download, free, without restriction.
  • FreePlay Music – Free music, sorted by style + feel
  • copyrightfriendly – Library of copy-friendly media (music, art, etc.)
  • ccMixter –  A Creative Commons remix community
  • Musopen – Radio streaming royalty-free classical music, includes sheet music too!

People whos talent I am jealous of: Stefanie Posavec

Consider this the first in my one-part series on human beings who have a gift and talent the makes my blood seethe with envy. This prestigious burden gets placed today onto Stefanie Posavec. Stefanie is a 28-year old Denver native who has managed to snag the recent cover design gig for internet wunderkinds OK GO (you’ve probably already seen their first vid [4 guys, 4 treadmills, 4/4 power-pop], you really ought to watch the new one as well).  I had actually stumbled across her work before but was unawares that she was involved in the generally accurate, smart, fun, brilliant Left Vs. Right infographic.

Her “Writing Without Words” project applies statistical analysis and graphic representation to great literary works, in an effort to generate visually discernible graphics that might represent an authors tone, thematic elements, or cadence.  The results of her visualizations are intricate, and beautiful.  And rich with information.

In Literary Organism, Stefanie has mapped out themes from Kerouac’s “On the Road”:

Here, Part One divides into chapters, chapters divide into paragraphs, paragraphs divide into sentences, and sentences divide into words. Everything is colour-coded according to key themes in On the Road.

She applies her gift to the world of publishing, where i gather she is employed, in (En)tangled Word Bank Stefanie has applied her style/prowess to the task of categorizing revisions between editions of Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

Many thank yous to InformationIsBeautiful for turning me on to this gifted graphic artist.

Jolicloud: just what my netbook had been waiting for

jolicloud launcher

Jolicloud Launcher

If you are a netbook user and you have been looking for the perfect OS to put on your netbook, might i suggest: Jolicloud.

What are my criteria for a great netbook OS?  Basically 3 things:

  1. Maximized screen real estate
  2. Runs FAST on mobile processor
  3. Extensive drivers to support hardware

OK, So Jolicloud doesn’t score perfectly, because for whatever reason, Windows 7 is still running faster, and the trackpad still needs some tweaking to get it to work, but for a netbook OS, Jolicloud get 2 thumbs up from me and here’s why:

  • The UI is totally optimized for small screens, even moreso that Ubuntu Netbook Remix.
  • The app installation process is the easiest i’ve ever seen.
  • Many of the “apps” are simply webapps with their own site-specific browsers, so you can switch “apps” to Gmail, which is a window-less, border-less, menu-less browser window JUST for Gmail (or Gdocs, or Pandora, or etc…)
  • Jolicloud is the first OS i’ve seen to really embrace the netbook idea, because, yeah, it’s a netbook, so no, it really won’t be much use to you when you aren’t on the net.
  • Ease of installation:  No flash drives, no bootable flags, if you are running windows, just download, execute, and …… wait.  It was the easiest OS install i ever did, except i really didn’t do anything at all.  It was great!

My setup:  Up until last week i have been running Windows 7, and Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook remix in a dual-boot setup on my Asus eee PC 1005HA w/ 2Gb RAM.  I’m now a triple-booter 🙂


9 Essential Resources for Portland Artists

look but don't artBasically, Portland is overrun with artists and creative types, which is great, because it really deepens the culture of our city!  Not so great for the creatives however, who fight to find a niche, notoriety, or simply a wall to hang their work on.  It’s competitive in the art world, no matter where you live.  Portland artists need not despair however, there are MANY arts foundations, grants, and resources available, just look at all our firsts and lasts (Last Thursday, First Thursday, First Friday, etc.).  In addition to street fairs we have cafés, WOW! do we have cafés!  O!  And bars!  Most of which have walls.  Most of those walls would look better with your art hanging off it.

Given the arts-loving environment in Portland, you’d think it’d be easy for an artist to showcase her work, or actually make a living doing what she does best, but that’s not typically the case. Many local artists make income through online sales, and attempt to show their work in other states and countries for maximum exposure. While Portland is indeed an incredible place for the arts in many respects, it’s still a challenge for an artist to show, perform or even gain traction when just starting out.

Portland StockThis is a great article on portland-area resources for artists and up-and-comers. Special props are for Portland Stock which gets mentioned in the article because they are WONDerful, and truly putting the economic engine behind art into the hands of the People! Using democracy! And it’s working! Which i Love.

In addition to Portland Stock, read about Portland City Art, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and several important resources for staying plugged into “the scene”.   From the article:

So check out the full article, and GO SEE SOME ART!

9 Essential Resources for Portland Artists via Neighborhood Notes

The Food Environment Atlas tells you if you are in a food desert, or an oasis

Perhaps in the last year you’ve heard mention of the term “food desert” to describe an area with a dearth of grocery and fresh food options.  There are plenty of towns in the US that don’t have a grocery store, and folks drive 20—30 minutes to the next town to get food.  And even then their options for eating healthy, or eating on a budget, or gov’t assistance such as SNAP / EBT are limited.

The Food Environment Atlas aims to collect statistics on food availability, assistance programs, production, as well as socio-economic factors, and present that information in a searchable map, organized by county.

While the user interface isn’t exactly “effortless” i am mostly just excited to have access to this kind of data.  This stuff, besides being real interesting to look at, can be super helpful in identifying communities in need of more or better food options. Portland, OR is in fact a food oasis, so it’s sobering for me to see some of these statistics for the surrounding area, outside of our little green seed.  Even in counties adjacent to ours.

Check out your area, how does it match up?  I’ll bet you learn something.  Share your learnings in the comments, i’m curious.

This one via Mark G. thnx, Mark!

Government Inspired

Don’t know what to say except, wow!

I’ve just been picking apart Utah’s state website for like, a while. It’s kind of amazing…. If you’ve never been you should at least take a look, i could spend a long time there learning all sorts of stuff about a place i don’t even live in.  The user experience, attention to detail, and the richness of the content is stunning, and I didn’t get past the font page.

Actually i found it through this interesting slideshow on government website design, and it really got me thinking about the power of technology in democracy. Like, education is one of the foundations of a successful government, and i don’t just mean the “no child left behind” kind of education, but the informed populace kind of education. How many social services go unused or abused because those who can use them don’t know about them? How much more effective would our activism be if we all really understood democratic process in the US?

Using technology to present empowering information to millions of users, now that’s powerful change.

Garfield Minus Garfield Tops It's Own Metaphysical Despair

Garfield minus garfield is saaaaaaad

As one who grew up reading everything Jon Davis penned, and then proceeded (later in life) to read much of the likes of Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, i have a supreme appreciation of the “webcomic” Garfield Minus Garfield. G-G is real easy to sum up: Take an old Garfield comic strip, remove any appearance of any character besides the inimitable Jon Arbuckle, and watch as existential hilarity ensues!

The concept is so simple (and plagiaristic). Yet, something happens when we isolates Jon’s desperate life from its normally comedic surroundings… The blank panels, where acerbic quipping once was, serves to create a sense of timing in the strips that underscore the absurdity, and despair of Jon’s already lonely life.

I am just continually amazed at how MANY old Garfield strips can be repurposed into soul-crushing portraits of human suffering.

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