Archive for 2009-01

Bicycle Efficiency

02009-01-29 @ 20:01

The Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 30, 1999
When it comes to efficient use of energy, it’s tough to beat a bike. That’s what Johns Hopkins engineers learned when they aimed an infrared camera at a computer-controlled bicycle drive train in a campus lab. The camera detected heat generated by friction as the chain moved through the sprockets under varying conditions. This heat represented wasted energy, and by measuring it, the engineers were able to identify sources of inefficiency.

In the best test, the chain drive posted an energy efficiency score of 98.6 percent, meaning that less than 2 percent of the power used to turn the front sprocket was lost while being transmitted to the rear one. Even the worst test turned in a respectable 81 percent efficiency score.

Link to the whole piece.
Thanks for the link SM.

Birthday Give-Away

02009-01-29 @ 11:01

Clicking on the above photo will take you to the free track in our ListeningLounge. Only available from today until next Wednesday and only available here.

PS: The free track is no longer available.


On yer bike

02009-01-28 @ 22:01

On yer bike: Why there’s never been a better time to saddle up – Healthy Living, Health & Wellbeing – The Independent
With just a chain and a couple of cogs linking a rider’s legs to the wheels, hardly any effort goes to waste. The energy efficiency of a bicycle has been estimated to be the equivalent of the average car doing 1,600 miles on a gallon of petrol.
(Via Copenhagenize)

Read the whole article – full of great reasons to ride.

Are worms vital to human health?

02009-01-28 @ 10:01

BBC NEWS | Health | Are worms vital to human health?
Could the humble worm hold the key to wiping out allergies and a whole lot of disorders of the immune system?

The People at the heart of the Meltdown

02009-01-28 @ 10:01

The People at the heart of the Meltdown
*That’s a nice list, but I think the British are flattering themselves here. Britain’s not a global economic heart any more, so its financial practitioners are more in the aorta, the liver or maybe even the kidneys of the Meltdown.
(Via Beyond the Beyond)


02009-01-27 @ 21:01

I want to celebrate my birthday by giving away music. The piece I shall offer in our ListeningLounge – only from January 29th through February 4th – is a piece that came on the wings of… something. We had stopped recording and Jon was doing something in the control room. I started playing guitar and Rahim began to sing , well, here is a link to my Diary entry from the day after it happened.

I think this piece is an appropriate gift, because it was also a gift to us, in a way. Improvisations like this are the reason why I wanted to become a musician in the first place, to hunt for similar moments of spontaneous combustion.

Jon later added the beautiful bass intro.

Visit the LL on Thursday morning and feel free to tell your friends.

Related entry.

Journalism (and Radio and the Music Biz)

02009-01-27 @ 20:01

Discussion Piece: Why We Need a National Endowment for Journalism
So what’s the problem? Industry insiders blame the Internet for all of newspapers’ woes. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Here’s my basic take on what really happened: As control of papers and other news sources were consolidated and corporatized over the last decade, decision making was wrested away from editors and publishers who actually know and care about journalism, and into the hands of businessmen and boards of directors who brought the wisdom of the business world to newspapers… and promptly ran them into the ground.
(Via Worldchanging)

That’s exactly what happened to radio and the music biz. Record companies used to be owned and run by people who loved music, but once these companies became very successful they were bought by large corporations. Musicians and producers (e.g. Arif Mardin at Atlantic) gave way to the suits – business graduates, attorneys and CEOs. Owners gave way to presidents and CEOs who catered to stockholders and for whom it was most important to get the biggest four-year pay-off.

Suddenly, making a cool recording which then became an album and sold a ton of copies turned into maximizing profits and controlling the market.

Once radio stations became giant corporate entities, the accountants took over. After your company spent 115 million dollars on buying a radio station, you had to make sure the debt could be serviced… You couldn’t possibly trust the music director’s taste. You had to be sure. So you ordered research to help the music selection process. You found a company who sent employees to the mall with a stack of forms and a few CDs of music. They would ask people in the mall to listen to 20-30 seconds of any given song and to rate it on a scale… Meanwhile the Program Director jumped out of the window, maybe because he saw that radio had nothing to do with music anymore.

Something awful happened when record companies, radio stations and then newspapers became too corporate. I am all for making a profit, but should one start one’s day focused on profit? Shouldn’t we create music, broadcast music and print news because that’s what gets us excited and worked up?

I find there is a void, a gaping hole that cannot be replaced. A void where good DJs once played a meaningful set of music, combining songs I knew with strange and unfamiliar tunes – instead of merely reading the names of songs and artists, put together in advance by a computer program, from a screen. A void where people in the music business helped artists in their struggle for expression and where journalists were free to pursue news-items that might not be popular…

Maybe the void will get filled again, once these giant corporations go up in smoke.

Xiph.Org: QuickTime Component

02009-01-27 @ 14:01

Xiph.Org: QuickTime Components :: Downloads
OGG for Quicktime. Encode and playback OGG Vorbis with Quicktime and playback in iTunes.

Also see this:

Mozilla has given the Wikimedia Foundation a $100,000 grant intended to fund development of the Ogg container format and the Theora and Vorbis media codecs. These open media codecs are thought to be unencumbered by software patents, which means that they can be freely implemented and used without having to pay royalties or licensing fees to patent holders. This differentiates Ogg Theora from many other formats that are widely used today.

The Ogg development improvements will be coordinated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

I like OGG Vorbis, but iPods have by far the biggest share of the market and until Apple starts providing Vorbis playback on iPods (and I’m guessing Fraunhofer Institute, who hold the patents for mp3 compression, has something to do with Apple NOT offering Vorbis playback) there is no point in offering Vorbis files.

B for Barcelona

02009-01-27 @ 09:01

Very interesting and funny. My favorite moment: he shows a Bryan Ferry spread he designed using the dingbat font “because the interview was really really boring”

Ten Years Ago

02009-01-26 @ 09:01

Year of the Ox

02009-01-26 @ 08:01

Happy new year.
Chinese Year of the Ox


Aeolus Airship

02009-01-24 @ 09:01

Aeolus Airship: Human-Powered Blimp: TreeHugger
Setting the bar pretty high for airship design is this one from Christopher Ottersbach: Called the Aeolus Airship (named after Aeolus, the Greek wind god) it is designed to be aerodynamic than conventional airship designs, and stay aloft for up to two weeks on a supply of helium and, furthermore, is pedal-powered by the crew of 2-4 people.

Beautiful. Like something out of a Japanese Anime. More on Inhabitat.

Yellow on Blue

02009-01-23 @ 16:01


02009-01-23 @ 11:01

Simply Haiku: An E-Journal – Interview with David Barnhill
RW: Haikai, Hokku, and Haiku. These terms can be confusing. Please explain. Is there a difference between the terms?

DB: Haikai means something like “comic” or “vulgar,” something that does not fit the strict confines of courtly culture. Renga (linked verse) had been a courtly verse, but some wanted to break the mold and expand the range of renga, and so haikai no renga was developed. Basho’s genius was his combination of that free-spiritedness with aesthetic and religious depth. Sometimes he used the term haikai as a broader term for literary art, even art in general, if it had this more complex haikai spirit. So we can think of him as a haikai (not haiku) poet. Hokku, on the other hand, is the opening stanza of a renga sequence. It was so important that it eventually began to take on a life of its own, with poets writing just the hokku without the linked sequence. Basho wrote hokku (not haiku) poems. The great modern poet Shiki wanted to sever hokku from its function in a linked verse, and he emphasized the aesthetic of a “sketch” of a moment of nature. To indicate this change, he used a new term, haiku, for what had been called hokku. So haiku is a modern term Basho did not use. But the term haiku is ingrained in our culture, even when thinking of Basho. The result is indeed confusion. If we want to be historically correct, we should speak of Basho’s hokku. But haiku is the only single term we could use for what Basho wrote and what contemporary poets in Japan and around the world write. I use hokku when I’m in an academic context, haiku when I’m not. We certainly don’t want to get too hung up on terminology.

Basho’s Trail
Basho’s World
Friday in Phoenix
Monday, January 21st
To Translate is to Betray

Morning Light

02009-01-23 @ 10:01

My photos from Tibet and Morning Light (Kham, October 2006) from the album The Scent of Light. Over 1,800 images at 6 frames per second.


02009-01-23 @ 09:01

CETMA cargo
Nice American-made cargo bike.

Guitar Hero – Play like a Legend!

02009-01-23 @ 09:01

Clicked on an add in Ma.gnolia and discovered this:

Play Like A Legend… Become a Guitar Hero in Record Time…

Then I discovered this, and this and this. What fun!

Top Kitchen Toy? The Cellphone

02009-01-23 @ 08:01

Top Kitchen Toy? The Cellphone –
Mr. Cosentino said that he sees multifunction devices like the iPhone as the real technological revolution for chefs.

“You’re never going to get a chef to sit at a desk or a computer screen all day,” he said. “But I can take this to the farmers’ market, I can take it to Italy, use it as a camera, look up the history of dishes so I can brief my servers, and make voice notes while I’m cooking,” he said. “And then do I use it to play the Macarena in the kitchen and drive everyone crazy? Yes, I do.”


02009-01-21 @ 14:01

To experience or to record?

02009-01-21 @ 14:01

This Modern Age: The Youth Ball Welcomes Obama with a Sea of Digital Cameras
This is definitely something I’ve noticed a lot of lately: people are more interested in taking photos of something they’re witnessing than actually, you know, witnessing it. These people are all looking at LCD screens instead of the new Presidential couple standing in front of them. Sure, they’ll be able to post the photo to their Facebook accounts, but they’ll (obviously) be able to find 100 identical or better photos of the same thing on Flickr when they get home. Is it more important to take a unique photo to prove you were there or to exist in that moment fully as to remember it better?

And most importantly, this:

And in the end, what will help you remember an experience better: taking a not-great picture that’s 80% crowd, or giving that experience 100% of your attention? You can always find photos online later, but you’ll never be able to go back to that moment again and, well, pay attention to it.
(Via Gizmodo)

Isn’t that again to have, that is, filming, photographing, blogging the moment – to be experienced later, vs to be… experiencing the moment firsthand…

And then there is this concert, where cameras and phones are actively encouraged:

Featuring Benjamin Britten’s magnificent Second Cello Suite alongside music by Milton Mermikides, Max Richter, John Metcalfe, Joby Talbot, James Macmillan and Sally Beamish, it should be a most exciting evening. With a unique interaction interface, the audience are encouraged to SMS, twitter and email their opinions in and they will dynamically redraw on the walls with sourced artwork and an understanding of relevance! Bring your cameras, phones, BlackBerrys and iPhones – but please remember to keep them switched on. Your ticket is your “creative license” to do what you like: photograph it, record it, blog it.. so long as it’s done in a fair and considerate manner!

fair and considerate manner… what the hell is that? I can tell you I would never attend a concert like that one. Clickety-clack, flash, flash, whir-whir… no thanks.

PS: Twenty years from now, will recording be ubiquitous and will we be used to talking to a screen instead of faces? Will recording devices be hidden from view, built into glasses, hats or jackets? Or will recording be unnecessary because everything is recorded by HD webcams and satellites anyway?


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