April 2006 Archives

Pandora

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As the myth goes, opening Pandora’s box was kind of a bad thing. Opening Pandora’s site, on the other hand…a damn good thing.

I frequent so many tech/trend sites (digg, LifeHacker, Slashdot, Engadget, etc.) so I was rather surprised that Pandora had slipped under my radar. Fortunately, I work closely with college students, and not much that is techy, trendy, or flat-out cool slips under their radar.

Pandora is a killer Flash app that is an offshoot of the Music Genome Project, a brilliant database that categorizes the fundamental qualities of a vast number of songs—”everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony.

You type in a song or artist that you like, it queues up a list of songs with similar qualities and streams them to your computer in their entirety. You can further nudge the app into offering up better suggestions. Everyone I have seen use this thing (myself included) is amazed at what a great job Pandora does at suggesting songs that appeal to an individual’s tastes—even my own eclectic tastes.

Many of the suggested songs were by artists I had never heard of before. You can just leave this thing playing for hours in the background. You can have up to one hundred suggestion lists (“stations”) at a time.

One immediate drawback is that my expanded exposure to artists I like will result in many more impulsive “Buy Album” clicks at the iTunes Music Store.

(BTW, Pandora asks for registration info after about an hour of hassle-free listening. Their privacy policy seemed reassuring enough, though, for me to sign up straight away.)

Down, but not out

If anyone had tried to visit this site in the past week, they may have thought that I had finally given up my feeble attempts to keep this blog regularly updated.

Nope, I haven’t decided to shutter notMike quite yet. My domain registrar had moved my domain from one server to another and did not carry over my DNS settings.

All of my free time has been eaten up by the contract work that I am doing for a non-profit, so I didn’t even notice. Damn 24-hour days anyway. Beep. Boop. Beep. Boop. Beep. Boop.

Life/Work balance

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I really haven’t been doing so well with the life/work balance thing lately. Obviously, this can’t continue because I am not only burning out, but I have been neglecting my fitness, and my normal cynicism sometimes borders on bitterness.

In the past year, I have taken on additional responsibility (at work and as an independent contractor)—partly because I have a hard time saying no to people, partly because throwing myself into my work distracted me from the fact that I really didn’t have much of a life outside the university.

That last part is one of those downward spiral, self-fulfilling kind of situations.

In fact, my work life versus my “life life” is about as balanced as a scale with Andre “the Giant” Roussimoff on one side and Kate Moss on the other (two-dimensional Kate Moss from that one episode of Family Guy, that is).

I tell myself that if I can just get through the next month’s worth of projects, I can get back to taking care of myself. Then the next month comes, bringing more projects. Then the next month…

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