Monday, January 29, 2007

muzikDEN - Episode 4

In the fourth episode of muzikDEN: Brian Bourne shows us the "stringiest" instrument in the West - the Chapman Stick; we give you some tips on Surround Sound Music Listening; Terry Pulliam and Mark Dolmont provide us with the first in a series of drum recording segments; we talk to the Gordon Lapp about what Music Industry Associations can do for you; and guest host Chris Campbell tells us about eMusic! muzikDEN.com - a commandN Inc. Production

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1/29/2007 08:04:00 PM  

Friday, January 26, 2007

MacOnMacs: Canadian iPhone to use Rogers Wireless

I thought I'd post this because I was asked about it in a recent comments thread:

Well, it's looking pretty likely that Rogers Wireless will be the carrier for the iPhone in Canada. There's been a slew of different reports on this (MacNN and many others) and I think yesterday's CrunchGear post probably cements it, quoting an official Rogers rep as saying:

“Rogers is actively working with Apple to launch the iPhone in Canada as soon as possible and will be the exclusive provider of the iPhone in Canada.”

This makes sense because Rogers is the main GSM network provider here, but a quick peruse through the comments threads of various articles (like John Wiseman's blog and the MacNN story referred to above) certainly shows a lot of displeasure at the prospect (including some insane price calculations for service that I can only hope are far off base). I've only used Telus in Canada, so I can't really offer any firsthand opinions, aside from agreeing that telecommunications competition in Canada is not what it should be.
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1/26/2007 08:59:00 AM  

Thursday, January 25, 2007

MacOnMacs: Judge your "experts" wisely

I just finished reading the Wharton Prof. (Widely) Misses Point of Apple Name-Change on Wired's Cult of Mac blog. The title of the article is a little misleading in that the name change argument is just one of three major points brought up by the writer about how wrong-headed people can be when evaluating technology products. The three points Wired disputes are:
  • Design is just about being cool (relative to the iPhone);
  • People will be disappointed by the video quality of the Apple TV (talking about how 480p upconverted to 720p is somehow lacking compared with most people's viewing habits); and
  • the titular Apple dropping "Computer" is a sign of surrender (drawing some terribly false conclusions about why Apple Computer Inc. has become Apple Inc.).
I think the Wired writer makes some very compelling points and really demonstrates that people need to take some of these "expert opinions" with a serious grain of salt (see: every iPod-killer article ever written).

I'm not being an Apple fanboy here, this kind of uninsightful reporting is done all over the place, but I think this shows the value in knowing whose content you're reading and, even if you find them reliable, backing this up with a little exploration of your own. In any case, just wanted to draw your attention to this PLUS Wired's Cult of Mac blog is great reading for all you Mac-heads out there, so you should check it out.
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1/25/2007 08:41:00 AM  

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

earCandy: Weird Al Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynwood (2006) 4/5

I have to admit that I'm a longtime Weird Al fan - I've even seen him in concert in Montreal, where I managed to jump on stage and steal his spatula, which I still have and regard as a highly sacred artifact. I also have to admit that it's his early catalog that really got me feelin' him and, frankly, a few of the more recent albums have been a little thin. That said, Al is back with a vengeance with Straight Outta Lynwood!

The first single, White & Nerdy (a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty), is not only a brilliant parody touching on a lot of things that people that read and write blogs probably know a little too much about ;-) (check out those lyrics here), but it also shows that Weird Al actually has some serious chops - I mean, he can actually rap, seriously, it's at once awe inspiring and deeply troubling.

As a Canadian, I thoroughly enjoy Canadian Idiot (a parody of Green Day's "American Idiot") - for some reason this sort of thing seems to amuse us :-) (lyrics here). Usher's Confessions is lampooned in Confessions Part III - I laugh just thinking about the line "Like remember when I told you I knew Paulie Shore (Paulie Shore) - That's a lie, I don't know what I said that for" (and lyrics). Pancreas is distinctly Beach Boys sounding, although I don't think it's a direct parody, and Polkarama! continues a long history of polka mashups of a popular tunes (50 Cent's "Candy Shop" being a standout).

Unfortunately, a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" (called "You're Pitiful") kept the album from being released on schedule and was not included on the album at the request of Atlantic Records (although Blunt himself was okay with it). However, you can listen to it online at Al-oholics Anonymous, even if it's just to hear the line "never had a date that you couldn't inflate". :-)

In any case, it's a very funny album, especially if you're familiar with the songs being parodied. One can only hope that this is the start of another upswing in Al's career, and that would make a lot of us very happy - so go buy it already!
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1/23/2007 10:13:00 PM  

Sunday, January 14, 2007

eyeCandy: Rome - HBO (2005, 2007) 5/5

I just finished watching the second season premiere of HBO's Rome and I simply cannot imagine a series more cater-made for my particular interests. There is political intrigue of a level rarely found on television (or movies, for that matter), there is a setting so beautifully foreign yet strangely familiar, there is an intricately woven story that follows a web of relationships amongst a fantastic ensemble case, and, to top it all off, this is the stuff that history is made of, literally.

Without giving anything away, Rome follows (as quoted from Wikipedia) "the violent transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire; a change driven by the class struggle between Patrician and Plebeian, the decay of political institutions, and the actions of ambitious men. While showing the lives of the rich, powerful, and historically significant, the show's perspective is centered around the lives, fortunes, families, and acquaintances of two Roman soldiers: Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, two soldiers mentioned in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico."

Rome is an incredibly sophisticated production, and the complex storyline requires (and more than amply rewards) the attentive viewer. Having absolutely fallen in love with the series over its first season, I was pleased to find (after some casual research) that, although the story itself takes some liberties with the historical specifics (all the while following the broad strokes of what actually happened), the sets, costumes, and depiction of life in the "capital of the world" circa 50 BC is, as far as I have read, remarkably accurate. On top of the fascinating story, Rome is an onslaught of visual splendor supplemented by a wonderful soundtrack and all the trappings that have made HBO the source of so many great productions over the years.

I really don't want to provide much in the way of storyline details, as I think anyone who is interested would be best served by simply renting the first season and then scrambling to watch the second season as soon as possible (I couldn't imagine leaping into season two without at least having read about what has happened in the first season). So if history intrigues you and you love movies then you could simply ask for nothing better than HBO's Rome.

PS: This still doesn't mean I can forgive HBO for cutting off Carnivale immediately after its second season cliffhanger. Please, somebody wrap up that story for me. I'll read it in book form if necessary, but stringing me along and then pulling the rug out from under me at such an integral plot point is just not right (and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this).
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1/14/2007 10:04:00 PM  

Thursday, January 11, 2007

webFed: Culture Clash - the Crocodile Hunter vs. Ross the Intern

This is almost uncomfortable to watch off the top, but it's pretty funny and as it gets going you get to see what a good guy Steve Irwin was (crazy, for sure, but nice too :-) ).
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1/11/2007 12:15:00 PM  

Monday, January 08, 2007

webFed: Hinterland's Drug Spiders

There are times when I find cool stuff on the web that just doesn't fit into any of my previously defined categories here on my blog. Further to this, welcome to my first webFed post - home for all those strange things I find online that just don't fit anywhere else.



PS: I totally owe finding out about this to my friend and ex-commandN-er, Mike Lazazzera, who has also posted it on his blog, Life...Love...Tech - thanks Mike!
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1/08/2007 11:00:00 AM  

Sunday, January 07, 2007

eyeCandy: Blood Diamond (2006) 5/5

NOTE: It's been a while since I've posted (work, travel, and a broken hand all being major factors) but I'm happy to come back with a review of this fantastic movie and will be posting each week in 2007 - so thanks for your patience and a Happy New Year to you all!

Blood Diamond is the best movie I've seen in a long time. It's not often that I leave the theatre without a single item in mind that I would have liked to be handled differently, but I am at a loss as to anything to change here. Director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Glory) has crafted a magnificent film, full of poignancy and emotional power while being both balanced and restrained - a difficult achievement to say the least.

In the midst of the brutal civil war in 1990's Sierra Leone, Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a South African diamond smuggler, crosses paths with Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a simple African man who, after losing his family to the rebels, has buried an enormous diamond found while working in their slave mining camps. When Archer learns of this, he promises Soloman that he will help him find his lost family in exchange for returning with him to the camp to locate the priceless jewel - Archer's ticket out of the miserable existence he has endured in the dark continent.

The acting in the movie is superlative. DiCaprio, one of the great actors of our day, once again shows his amazing versatility as well as his prowess for choosing exceptional films of which to be a part. Hounsou, who I first remember from Amistad, is similarly exceptional and both actors are utterly believable in their roles. The film moves from beautiful landscapes to chaotic urban battles to understated but highly emotional personal scenes, creating a fascinating tapestry that is all the more moving because of the reality of the situation it portrays.

Without being preachy, Blood Diamond shows us a part of our collective past that cannot help but promote a deep consideration of the great wrongs (and some of the rights) of the world we live in. From the struggles of a family to the machinations of global enterprise, from the cruelty and ruin of a savage war to the beauty and dignity of human kindness and love. The film is simply without flaw.
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1/07/2007 07:27:00 PM