I have been listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History. It’s been quite entertaining, but I sometimes do feel that he is a little less than honest with some of his opinions. I know there are people who have strong opinions about Gladwell, but I’m not really one of them. I have read some of his stuff, and find myself sometimes in agreement with his hypothesis, but not always. I think not blindly accepting what he talks about is prudent: but the same is true of everyone.

In episode Hallelujah, the discussion starts with a foray into Elvis Costello, but at some point then pivots and talks about the Leonard Cohen song, covered by almost everyone, but most famously Jeff Buckley. Gladwell’s point is that some songs (or works of art, or other works of genius) are “fully formed”, but others take iteration, and in some cases, a bunch of it.

Specifically, he states that the song Hallelujah had this really long, really unlikely string of events that all needed to happen in order for the song to become recognised as the magical entity that it is. I’m not denying that, but he does miss the point that there are probably many more chains of events that could have resulted in songs just as good as this; maybe even better.

We only know about Hallelujah because in our universe, there was a completed chain of events that lead to the song being released by Buckley, and then his unfortunate demise. I also wonder if perhaps the song may still have become as famous as it did even if he had not drowned: my iTunes library tells me another song of his was in the Triple J Hottest 100 the year before he died.

I’m not doubting at all that Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello or Jeff Buckley were all musical geniuses: but this selection bias hides the fact that there could be many more musical geniuses out there that wrote songs that did fade into obvlivion.

I’m still glad we got Hallelujah, though.


Finally, Microsoft put out something worth downloading, and it won’t install on my VMWare machine:


New Apple Kit

So, Apple has released a couple of new bits and pieces. I’m not going to mention the Apple iPhone, as it is unlikely to be available where I live, and the other two are a bit more interesting for me. The first one I noticed was the Apple TV. This is an AU$449 device that hooks up to (only widescreen) televisions, and allows you to watch video, view pictures and listen to audio that is stored on your Mac or PC. Which is exactly what I currently use XboxMediaCentre for. However, from a couple of things I’ve read on the Apple website, I won’t be getting one soon. I think it acts like an iPod, and requires syncing. This because that ‘s’ word is mentioned, and because it also talks about ‘up to 8750 songs,’ and since it has a 40GB hard drive, that sounds about how many tracks you could store on it. I don’t store any media on the Xbox - it’s all stored on a seperate media server. Why waste space by having duplicates of large files? It gets even worse if you look at Movies and TV programs. It may stream movies, I do recall seeing that somewhere. Plus, I may have to re-encode some video files, as AppleTV might not play everything, like VLC and XBMC do. The other feature that I think is missing is recording from TV. This makes it a deal-breaker for me. That’s the only functionality I don’t have with XBMC, and is the reason I’m going to consider getting a Mac Mini to replace it. If Apple don’t come up with something better. Admittedly, it looks much nicer than an Xbox, but it won’t play all of my Xbox games, either. Resolution-wise, the Apple TV might be a step ahead of the Xbox. I’m not sure what resolution XBMC can output, it may be 1080i, I’m not sure. (Note: after research, you can output this res with even a standard Xbox, but you need to get a special hi-res cable). • The other product Apple released is somewhat interesting. Airport Extreme. Basically, it’s an 802.11a/b/g/n wireless router. It has a couple of other key features, however. It also has a USB port, but it’s not a device-side port. Instead, it allows Hard Disk drives, Printers and the like to be plugged in. This would mean that the one device could replace (and upgrade!) my router, and my NSLU2 file server. The bonus is that it can easily handle multiple hard drives, unlike the NSLU2, which I’m probably going to have to install a different OS onto to get this functionality. At AU$259, (IIRC: $229 educational), it appears pricey, but replaces a NAS device, Print Server, and a wireless router. And beefs up the speed to 802.11n, which is 10x faster than my current router. Disadvantages of this over my current setup? I currently use my NSLU2 as a torrent client, and this functionality is unlikely to be built into the Airport Extreme! • What’s next? I’m hoping to see what happens when some real users get their hands on these devices. I’d suggest they might be running a cut-down OSX, or perhaps Linux/BSD or something, in which case they should be eminently hackable. For instance, it might be possible to use the AppleTV hardware, plug in an EyeTV, and bingo, PVR. Much cheaper than a Mac Mini, but with all of the desired functionality. And, turn off Syncing of iTunes library, and instead just look for files on a Server, and stream audio as well as video. As for Airport Extreme, it’s likely that this is a less powerful beast, but might provide better performance than my old NSLU2, which chugs along a bit when trying to grab more than one torrent at a time. (Don’t mention that you should queue torrents, this is for low-rate torrents, and the software I use doesn’t queue).


Brandon: As if there weren’t already enough reasons to laugh at Nickelback I started downloading this, just for fun. And then listened to it when there was about 750k downloaded. I could not believe just how similar these two songs are. The drums play the same beat. The guitar riffs are pretty similar too. And then the heavy part starts. And it’s at exactly the same time. Does Nickelback have a formula for creating their songs? I have to finish downloading this, it’s just too good. (And I wonder if the person who originally mashed them up is a fan…?)

Love Generation [Club Mix] • Bob SinclairChillout Sessions 8 ★★

Copy Controlled CDs?

I have a CD, Talkie-Walkie, by Air, that has a sticker on it labelled:

Copy Controlled: See reverse for details.

On the back is a largish label, which says (amongst other things, including system requirements):

On some equipment, for example car CD players playback problems may be encountered.

(This is also repeated in several languages). This is an EMI CD, and with some trepidation, I put it into my iMac, to rip to my iTunes library. It gave me no problems at all. Ripped perfectly. Pretty effective copy control system, EMI.

Anti-CD/DRM Pledge

‘I will pledge to never purchase a CD contaning any form of Digital Rights Management (DRM),’ - PledgeBank

Deadline to sign up by: 6th February 2006 3,745 people have signed up (3245 over target)

How actors remember their lines

Boing Boing: How actors remember their lines This is quite an interesting one:

According to the researchers, the secret of actors’ memories is, well, acting. An actor acquires lines readily by focusing not on the words of the script, but on those words’ meaning – the moment-to-moment motivations of the character saying them – as well as on the physical and emotional dimensions of their performance.

I think this is important because I know when memorising song words, I do exactly the same thing. How do I know this? I often sing the wrong words, that have the same or a similar meaning. For instance, well I can’t think of anything right now, but I do it all of the time.

Take On Me: Literal Version


Did you ever notice that The Gossip • Standing In The Way Of Control is a ripoff of Loverboy * Turn Me Loose?

Now, these links were obtained from the iTunes Australian Store, by right-clicking on them. But they don’t work for me when I try to use them to get back to those tracks…odd.

That's New: Google Music

Hmm. That is new. Google Music.

Google Music.png

I’m guessing it will now be better to use Google Music to check for artwork and so on than Amazon.com.