there are 10 posts from February 2005

February 18, 2005

automated mashups

Tired:  making mashups with Acid.  Wired: mashups built through machine learning.

It’s only a matter of time until someone builds a system to build mashups automatically.  First, a bot will crawl the web for popular music.  Those samples will be fed into algorithms that compare beats per second, chord progressions, sonic profile and emotional tone, in order to score potential mashup matches.  Each mashup candidate will then be fed through psychographically profiled sales data of its component songs to determine the optimal marketing impact of the mashup.  Mashup “assignments” will then be fed to a distributed set of automated mashup makers, each programmatically tuned with different mashup style rulesets.  Once the mashup is completed, it will be fed to an automated mashup distributor, which is responsible for seeding the file in various corners of the net, and tracking download and distribution activity.  That data will then be used by to determine further marketing spend and potential “mass media” distribution strategies.

In the future, music won’t be made.  It will be grown.

February 17, 2005

more on msn desktop search

A couple of months back I posted a shoot-from-the-hip review of MSN’s Desktop Search beta.  I’m here to recant.  Eat my words.  Take it all back.  Because I now love the thing.

The main complaint I had with the product in December was its UI – too many butterflies, too few customization options, a results screen that could use a bit of smart information design.  And while in its default configuration the app’s interface is a bit, well, blue, if you explore the app’s functionality a bit (and take the time to tweak), it’s well worth it…

  • First, turn off the toolbars in IE and Outlook.  You won’t need them, unless you really want to be searching as well as your desktop.  I’m assuming you already have a popup blocker, or at least have installed SP2.
  • Second, make sure the deskbar / taskbar toolbar is turned on.  If you’re not a butterfly fan, apply the registry hack that kills it, leaving you with a nice, plain white box.
  • Third, configure a keyboard shortcut.  Mine’s F9.  Anywhere I am in Windows, I hit F9, and focus goes to the search box.
  • And finally, make sure that you’ve configured the app to list results as you type – to get the quick results window that pops up from the taskbar and filters in real time.

With those simple steps, you’ll end up with lightning fast access to your email and local docs.  After a couple of months of solid use, I’ve found that I rarely use the full search results window.  The popup “list results as you type” window typically is all I need to find the message / document / contact I’m looking for.  (Yep, just like Spotlight. But available today.)  Take the time to read the help file – you’ll learn you can use Lookout’s search syntax, and do quick queries like “from:mena website launch” to find messages from Mena about a website launch.

To really take advantage of the product, learn how to set shortcuts using “@”.  (Just type @ into the deskbar, and the app will provide a pointer to some bare-bones but useful documentation.)  I’d be worried if I were a LaunchBar clone; Microsoft’s managed to shoehorn 80% of the functionality of the popular keyboard-based app launchers out there into the desktop search product.  Typing “@gmail,” into the deskbar assigns a shortcut; next time I want to visit Gmail, all I need to do is hit F9, type gmail, and my default browser opens up and navigates there.  You can launch URLs, apps, folders or documents that way – which means no more navigating through the hellish hierarchy of the Windows start menu or cluttering the desktop with shortcuts to frequently used docs or directories.

Anyway – a long-overdue eating of crow.  There are things I’d love to see – a superfast preview window that highlighted keywords in context, for example – but I trust they’ll get there.  And in case you’re wondering what Redmond’s success in this category means for companies further south, I’ve learned that such exercises are best left to the reader…or at least Battelle.

February 15, 2005

geek plates

Spotted this morning in North Berkeley, a late model Volvo sedan with the license plate DRM CEKR.  Which rivals the previously spotted-in-Berkeley SNDMAIL (Eric Allman, perhaps?), and the spotted-in-San-Mateo DRWXRWX (where I’m assuming the lack of permissions for others is implied).

February 13, 2005

pretty threads.

Via Matt Webb, a screenshot of for OS X, which features a diagram of conversation threading that IBM’s been showing for a while in their concepts of next-gen messaging clients.  Slick.

February 12, 2005

umbrellas and fire

Thirteen years ago, on a Sunday morning in October, Trina and I piled into her car and took a drive down I-5 from San Francisco to the Grapevine to walk amongst Christo’s umbrellas.  They were unabashedly beautiful – bright yellow splahses of color in the brown California hills.  While it’s great to see all the pics of the Central Park gates, there’s nothing like seeing a Christo piece in person.

But the umbrellas were no match for what we saw on the way home.  After five hours down and five hours back, we were driving along 580 towards the Bay Bridge when we both saw it at the same time – a massive, red glow from the hills to the east.  “My God,” she said.  “Oakland’s on fire.”

February 12, 2005

dancing and popping

Jason Kottke interviews one of the dancers in the Golf GTI commercial that caused my jaw to drop violently.

I didn’t have to change my dancing stylistically at all. They wanted me to dance the way that I dance. In fact they had us watch the original Singing in the Rain scene so many times that I started unconsciously moving a bit like Gene Kelly. The director at one point even told me that I was moving too much like Gene and I needed to move more like me.

Worth reading.

February 10, 2005

robot investment

Jason rightly debunks the conspiracy theories behind the Amazon investment in the Robot Co-op.

Perhaps Salon doesn’t realize that the people posting their hopes and dreams to 43 Things are effectively whispering them to the whole world because – if you’ll forgive me channeling Dooce here – ALL OF THAT INFORMATION IS PUBLICALLY AVAILABLE ON THEIR WEB SITE. Thousands of hopes and dreams, free for the taking.

(Oh, and congrats to Erik and team!  Here’s to building great stuff.)

February 10, 2005

lessig on west wing

I’ve been leading a fairly Boing Boing free existence for a while, so I missed the fact that Larry Lessig was on last night’s West Wing…playing himself, played by   Christopher Lloyd.  (TiVo to the rescue!)  Someone (Haughey?) should get on the stick and build a “Where in the World is Larry Lessig” (or, more appropriately, “actor representations of Larry Lessig”) board game so that fans around the world can have their own fun figuring out what media vehicle will feature the blogosphere’s favorite lawyer next…  (Updated 2/11/05)

February 10, 2005

attention management

The Times (via on the problems of attention management while at the hyper-connected PC.   New term for me (and something I could probably stand to gain from):  attentional user interfaces.

February 08, 2005

i keep saying 'whoa.'

Google Maps – making driving directions actually fun

(Just wait until they enable an overlay of satellite imagery from Keyhole with one click.  Then someone will write a bookmarklet-y thing to transition from a zoomed-in Google map to an Amazon street-level photoset.  And then we’ll never have to leave the house – we’ll just buy huge monitors and pretend we can fly around the country like Chris Reeves did in Superman.)