Recent Posts in technology
February 9, 2015
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...
January 8, 2015
by Bill Pearis
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 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...
September 9, 2014
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...
August 28, 2014
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...
April 17, 2014
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
April 9, 2014
Bill Nye hanging with Barack Obama and Neil deGrasse Tyson
With his quirky/funny '90s-era afternoon PBS show, Bill Nye "the Science Guy" taught a lot of us about the world around us and beyond. He's been back in the news lately, debating creationist Ken Ham back in February, hanging with Cosmos/Star Talk host Neil deGrasse Tyson and President Obama, and currently shopping around a demo reel of a new TV show pitch. It would be great to have him back on television.
In the meantime, Bill Nye will be in NYC this summer for three lectures at Iriving Plaza on July 18, 19 & 20. Bill says in a short teaser video, "I'll be talking about you and me. Humankind. I'll be talking about evolution. And energy, and the cosmos and places within it, and our place in space." Bill says also it will be funny. Tickets are on sale Friday (4/11) at 10 AM with a Live Nation and Music Geeks presale (password is "music geeks") beginning Thursday (4/10) at 10 AM.
Check out that teaser video, the debate with Ham, and a few clips from his '90s show below...
March 12, 2014
Neil Young talking Pono @ SXSW (via @allisonleighwalter)
Neil Young talked about his new Pono high-resolution music system yesterday (3/11) at SXSW and cleared up a few things. It uses FLAC files but the sample rate is 192 kHz. (CDs uses 44.1 kHz). (The Toblerone-shaped Pono player will play other formats too.) Said Young:
When all the artists and engineers, all the arrangers and musicians that played on giant tracks by people like Phil Spector, with 12 tambourines and two pianos -- those people were still in the studios in Los Angeles, playing. But all of [that] started to die -- it was the most amazing thing, this vibrant creative culture started to go away. And it was because of the MP3 and the cheapening of the quality to the point where it was practically unrecognizable.Then things got real awkward. Billboard reports that after Young's speech, Pono CEO John Hamm (not Jon Hamm) opened the floor to questions:
...the last question from the audience shifted the tone of the entire presentation. A young man asked: "What's your cut?" Referring, of course, to Apple's now-famous 30% cut of sales on the iTunes Store.Perhaps his cut will be addressed by the time the Pono goes on presale this Saturday (3/15) via via Kickstarter. Watch a demo video below.
Hamm, after a flustered moment, responded: "It surprises most people that everyone who buys music from the record labels pays exactly the same amount." To which several audience members shouted, "What?!"
"That's a delicate question, isn't it?" Young asked. After which Hamm turned to the moderator, slightly flushed at this point, and said, "We can end it." "You can answer the question if you like," Snider said. Hamm shook his head slightly before Snider closed the discussion.
Pono Kickstarter video below...
March 10, 2014
No 'Zune' jokes, please
Neil Young has been working on his own digital music format and player for a while and has just announced details. Originally called "PureTone," the company is now called Pono and promises "the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who wish to experience music the way the artists intended, with emotion, detail and power intact."
What that entails is a new lossless music format and also its own portable high-resolution digital-music player (pictured above) that holds 128 gigs of music, which comes out to "about 100-500 high-resolution digital-music albums, depending on the resolution and length of the original recording." You can use memory cards for additional music. There's also an iTunes-like Pono interface.
While the lossless Pono format may only appeal to audiophile types, the player might hold some interest for others. One of the biggest criticisms lobbed at the iPod was it's not-very-good internal amplifier and digital-to-analog converter. So if you've always wanted a better-sounding player... this could be it. There are some questions, such as "Will this also play my MP3s?," "Will I have to repurchase albums I already own in other formats," "Can I rip my CDs into the Pono format," "Is there cloud storage?," "Can I play Words With Friends on it?" and "If this all goes belly-up do I get my money back?" Those remain unanswered but you can pre-order your Pono player starting March 15 via Kickstarter.
Some of those questions might be addressed by Neil Young himself who will talk about Pono on Tuesday (3/11) at SXSW.
June 7, 2013
could this be the new Brooklyn wing of Amazon?
Williamsburg is now fully established as a choice place to live and play and even to work. Vallywag reports:
According to a source, Amazon may have settled on a location for the mammoth office space the company began seeking in February: the Williamsburg waterfront.Rumors that Amazon's new Brooklyn address could be the old Domino Sugar factory are mostly refuted in the same article. Also mentioned in there is this tidbit about something we've been wondering about the status of: the NYC branch of beloved UK indie store Rough Trade Records that was supposed to open last year. Says their source:
Back in February, both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that Amazon was seeking up between 250,000 and 500,000 sq. ft. of office space in New York City, greatly expanding its presence here beyond its Midtown outpost. Williamsburg was thrown around as a possibility, along with One World Trade and Brookfield Place.
This past November, Amazon announced it was leasing a 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse at 35 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg to serve as a photo studio to shoot images of products/"mecca" for "creative talent." But the source told Valleywag that the waterfront deal is "bigger and hush hush." - [Valleywag]
Rough Trade is in the middle of a 30,000 retail renovation on N9 and NO ONE knows about it because they did the deal with a warehouse owner and are doing a complete renovation on their dime."In the middle"?