Recent Posts in technology

July 2, 2015

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One of life's little pleasures may soon be a thing of the past. Sealed Air Corp, the New Jersey company who invented Bubble Wrap and have been making it since 1960, just unveiled the new version of their product...that doesn't pop. As the Wall St. Journal reports, the product, called iBubble Wrap, comes flat and is inflated by the shipper with a custom-made pump. Somewhat like what Amazon currently uses, it inflates in columns, not poppable clusters.

Sealed Air Corp says they'll continue to make the old kind, but it currently not very pop-ular, only making up 03% of the company's sales.

If you've ever wondered how Bubble Wrap is made, you can watch a video (and a video of DZ's single of the same name), below...

Continue reading "Bubble Wrap makers releasing boring new upoppable product"

July 1, 2015

Will Socolov at Brooklyn Vinyl Works
Brooklyn Vinyl Works

Brooklyn Vinyl Works is a new record pressing plant that's run by Will Socolov, who founded Sleeping Bag Records with Arthur Russell and, more recently, ran pressing plant EKS Manufacturing. They've got a building but launched a Kickstarter to raise funds to refurbish record presses for the plant. Says Socolov:

When a part breaks on a record press, you can't run down to the Vinyl Machinery Superstore. Instead, you need the skill and knowledge to fabricate it yourself. The folks at Brooklyn Vinyl Works have years and years of expertise in the art of making records and are adept in the art of repairing and maintaining these old machines.

All funds raised from our campaign will first go towards obtaining and upgrading a number of our factory's most vital components: a new boiler, a shrinkwrap machine, grinders and hydraulics equipment. After that infrastructure is complete, additional funds raised will go towards purchasing more presses. These presses are expensive and difficult to find, but with your support, we can obtain and restore them to their original glory.

Their Kickstarter is a little over a quarter of the way towards its $100,000 goal with 11 days to go. There are a wide variety of contributor rewards, including totes and t-shirts, special color runs of DIIV, Mac DeMarco and Widowspeak records, tours of the facility, and having things pressed on vinyl. With demand for vinyl at a 20-year high, there is certainly need for new pressing plants. We wish them the best of luck.

by Bill Pearis

Apple Music launch

Apple Music, the new streaming-radio-social-etc platform from the iTunes/iPod/iPad/Macbook folks, launched Tuesday (6/30) on IOS devices, and today (7/1) it was included with the brand new version of iTunes. It seems to want to take on Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Sirius/XM and everything else in one fell swoop. It features personalized "radio stations" based on an artist you like, or your music library, and they offer curated playlists from artists (like St. Vincent) and influencers (like Pitchfork) -- though finding them on Apple Music is not so easy, currently. You can listen to Thom Yorke's solo records on Apple Music (it's not on Spotify) and AC/DC who just agreed to put their music on various streaming platforms yesterday. Dr. Dre's The Chronic is exclusively streaming on Apple Music too. You can check out Apple Music with their three-month free trial.

More interesting, to me at least, is Beats 1 Radio, a live radio station (well, at least 12 hours a day currently) broadcasting from NYC, LA and London and featuring shows by Zane Lowe (who left BBC 1 for Apple), Hot 97 personality Ebro Darden and Rinse FM's Julie Adenuga. There are also shows hosted by St. Vincent and QOTSA's Josh Homme. It feels very freeform -- at one point today Zane Lowe followed a cut from noisy UK indie band Spring King with A$AP Rocky's "Everyday" -- but very pro radio sounding (sound effects, talking all over the songs) at the same time. The station is spearheaded by Trent Reznor (who worked for Beats before Apple acquired it) and he talked to Rolling Stone about his involvement:

I think having access to all the music in the world is great, but it then starts to place a burden on what the experience is like navigating through, now that you have access to everything," Reznor explains. "I think that naturally places the burden on having an experience be great. I want that feeling of walking into an independent record shop, if there are still any that exist, like Amoeba [Records], and being delighted by the choices and the way music is presented to you with love and care. It's exciting. And you leave with stuff you wouldn't have dreamed you wanted and you're excited to listen and share it and experience it.
Beats 1 can be listened to without subscribing to Apple Music, by the way, and you can make requests.

As for the social aspects of Apple Music, there is a "Connect" feature that allows musicians to upload songs, videos and photos that aren't already within Apple Music's system. For example, when I clicked on "connect," I was shown that Sonic Youth have offered up a live version of "Shaking Hell" (cool) and that Belle & Sebastian had uploaded a photo (shrug).

Is any of this enough for you to try it out or cancel your Spotify account? Apple Music doesn't work on Sonos systems yet but the wireless speaker manufacturers are promising compatibility by the end of the year.

June 22, 2015

Apple Music

Apple Music, the computer giant's new streaming service, is set to launch on June 30, beginning with a three-month free trail. That savings was originally being passed on to the artists/labels who would not get paid royalties for that 90-day period. This had folks up in arms -- from the Beggars Group to the Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe -- but when Taylor Swift announced over the weekend that she wouldn't be putting 1989 on Apple music, saying she found it to be "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company" Apple finally changed their tune. Apple exec Eddy Cue tweeted late last night that "#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer's free trial period...We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple."

Some are arguing that Taylor Swift's letter and Apple Music's turnaround are all part of a well-timed PR campaign.

February 9, 2015

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Joseph Grado, founder of Brooklyn's high fidelity Grado Labs, died on Saturday at age 90. Grado, who was a master watchmaker, started the company in 1953 in the space that once housed the family fruit store in Sunset Park. Grado Labs began by making phono cartridges, and when Joseph's nephew John took over the company in 1990 the focus shifted to their great headphones. (They still make cartridges, though.) The Grado family offered up these words on their website:

The Grado family holds Uncle Joe in the highest regard, and without him, not only would we still be working in a fruit store, but we would have never started making headphones.
Joseph Grado, you made music sound better. Rest in peace.

Watch a video tour of Grado's Brooklyn labs, plus a 2003 Girlmore Girls clip where Dave Rygalski (Adam Brody) talks Grados, below...

Continue reading "Brooklyn headphone-maker Joseph Grado (Grado Labs), RIP"

January 8, 2015

by Bill Pearis

leisure suit larry
Omar Sharif

The Internet Archive already had the potential for being a time suck black hole, saving copies of websites long gone, not to mention its giant library of books, magazines, movies, music and more. They've also got an Arcade which already includes thousands of old arcade, Atari 2600 and other home systems, PC games and loads more, all of which are playable either using an emulator or through your browser (which doesn't always work so well, be warned).

But for those who remember 5" floppy discs, the Archive Arcade's gravitational pull on your productivity has just gotten stronger as they've added a couple thousand MS-DOS computer games from the '80s and early '90s that were originally for Commodore 64, Apple II and other systems. That includes such favorites as the original Castle Wolfenstein, Leisure Suit Larry (which inspired Todd Terje), Oregon Trail, Lode Runner, Bruce Lee, Maniac Mansion, as well as many you probably didn't know existed, like Alf: The First Adventure and, um, 1991's Omar Sharif on Bridge where the Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago star teaches you the classic card game (and unfortunately not about the actor being on a bridge catching bungee jumpers) .

Have fun, and appologies to your boss.

November 17, 2014

Uber

Uber and Spotify just announced a hip app partnership that starts going into effect in 10 major cities this Friday (11/21). As a demo video illusrates, Spotify premium users will be be able to choose the music they want to play in their Uber taxi ride in advance. "When your ride arrives, your tunes will be playing on the speakers. You can also change what's playing during your journey right through the Spotify and Uber mobile apps. It's all there - your own music and playlists and well as specially curated Uber playlists."

The ten "global launch cities" are London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney and Toronto. To generate some buzz, "Spotify and Uber are giving fans a chance to connect with some of their favorite artists" in those cities. Exact details haven't been announced yet, but "participating artists include: Andrew W.K., The Sam Willows, Ximena Sariñana, Ansiktet, Professor Green, Diplo, Matt and Kim, Ricki Lee, Kevin Drew and Jake Owen. These special events for Uber and Spotify users - including artist ride-alongs and exclusive live sessions in five of the 10 cities - will take place on Friday, November 21. Stay tuned for additional details."

This actually could be cool, especially for those 2012-like moments when you really just need to hear "Call Me Maybe," but for the sake of your driver, please choose your playlists responsibly, and never, ever call an Uber.... while the streets have been shut down by police in riot gear...

Continue reading "annoy your Uber driver with your own Spotify playlist"

September 9, 2014

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After today's Apple keynote in Cupertino, CA where they announced the new iPhone 6, Apple Watch and the new U2 album, the online store was immediately updated. One long-running Apple product is no longer there: the clickwheel iPod Classic, which has been discontinued, reports Engadget.

The iPod debuted on October 23, 2001 with a then-enormous 5-gig hard drive. By 2007, its storage grew to up to 160 gigs, and also saw the release of the smaller Nano and the super-tiny Shuffle.  By that time, the iPhone had been released and people started to realize maybe they didn't need a separate device for their music. The shuffle remains available, but the iPods that Apple sells now are basically iPhones without cell service.

iPod Classic, rest well in clickwheel heaven. Check out the very first iPod commercial, and some of the 'Silhouette" series, below...

Continue reading "iPod Classic, RIP (2001 - 2014)"

August 28, 2014

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After dabbling in film and coffee, James Murphy has finally gotten back to making music. Sort of. Murphy has teamed up with some big brains at IBM to generate music based on game data from 2014 US Open matches which is happening as we speak out in Forest Hills, Queens. (Did they pick him for his fondness for wearing white?) The project, called The US Open Sessions, uses every point, ace and foot fault to create bleeps and bloops coming out of your speakers. (It's very bleepy and bloopy.) Some 400 hours of it will be generated by the end of things on September 8. It's being generated live, so if you're watching on TV and want a soundtrack to it, here you go. The matches' music is archived as well. For more on this,  a short video of how this all came about can be watched in this post.

In related news, we weren't able to get James to sit on our City Gardens Q&A panel at AMC Loews Village 7 tonight (8/28), but we do hope he comes to watch the documentary about the club he once worked at as a bouncer.

US Open Sessions video below...

Continue reading "James Murphy making music based on data from US Open tennis matches"

April 17, 2014

Star Talk Live

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Eugene Mirman have been doing a live version of space-oriented radio show "Star Talk" for some time, though Tyson is a lot better known these days, thanks to the reboot of science series Cosmos. But Neil and Eugene are still talking stars (live!) and will do so at Beacon Theatre on June 5 with special guests: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa and more! Tickets for this show are currently on fan presale (password is "cosmic") and go on sale to the general public Friday (4/18) at 11 AM.

In other live science show news, Bill Nye the Science Guy will be at Irving Plaza for three nights in July

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