View of the outside world from inside a fishbowl

January 29, 2010

Music 2.0

Filed under: music,rants — coolantz @ 3:34 pm

How do you listen to Music ?

I mean, gone are the days where you’d proudly buy a shiny new CD, and listen it over and again, till you would have it playing in your imagination, and consequently get bored, and repeat the process for another shiny new CD.

Some people say, that they prefer listening to the Radio, because of it’s unpredictable nature. With the collection you compile, and play, you’d know what to expect, often when to expect it too, so yes, that also does get boring after a while.

But the fact is, that these people are not too hung up about the unpredictable nature of the radio. They like certain shows, that play similar kind of music, though not the same. This keeps the “element of surprise” intact. If I’d give them a really random sample, chances are, they will detest it.

So, what I’d like to know is how to discover new music, with gradually drifting across genres and artists, so that the progression seems natural, yet, the collection is vast enough to not give an impression of being repetitive.

I used to listen to last.fm, even made a mythtv plugin to tune into genres, and similar artists type stations, but last.fm has made the service restricted to non-paying users, and we cannot use any player to stream their content. It would be good, if I(and a group of friends), decide to catalog my entire music collection, and then use some hi-fi algorithm to dish out the proper songs.

I’m pretty sure there’s already such a service up and running, or some solution to set up the kind of service on my local machine.  Just need to find out what it is. Amarok already has a fancy logic in moodbar. I think it garners it’s statistics from sites like last.fm, and others.

I used to believe that if I write some CD’s/mp3 in my music player, I would never get bored if I could play them in shuffle mode. But I think I need a mechanism to add new finds in there, update listening orders to something that is not as naïve as shuffle, and remove songs from the list which I don’t listen to as often. And it should also sync to all my music playing devices. And it should not overwhelm me with the number of tracks it has to offer. What I need for starters is this:

A total of 50 tracks:

  • with 10 new songs
  • and 10 recommended songs,
  • and 10 favorites,
  • and 10 similar artists,
  • and 10 similar genre

Phew. This should be enough for me to last an average day. Any idea, on how can it be done?

Social music is the need of hour.

January 25, 2010

Ways of an amateur versus professional approach.

Filed under: Have a nice Day,philosophy — coolantz @ 10:26 pm

Professional

engaged in a profession or engaging in as a profession or means of livelihood.

Amateur

someone who pursues a study or sport as a pastime.

If you were to bet on the outcome, with the two opposing candidates of the aforementioned classes of ability, whom would you root for? Now, let’s say, if the outcome of the activity is not clearly in definition such as covering a race track in xx seconds, but is let’s say … a painting or something equally abstract.

I find myself distinctly leaning towards the amateur.

The professional would certainly qualify as an example of a good master of the field. By the definition itself, they would probably slice and dice the sub activities and the little nuances at  a level which would be very conscious.  They might carry with them the know how and subtleties of the field, and they probably indulge in the field, because they have the techniques which make them unparalleled in quality and efficiency.

On the other hand, the ways of amateur, would present him/her seem like a zealous student. Someone who is passionate and devoted. They would probably derive their pleasures and kicks from indulging in the field. Some of their actions and techniques might come across as ungainly, and overly exuberant, but it’s probably also due to the joy they get by indulging in that activity.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is … although, the work done by professional is bound to be more clean and sharp, it would also be repetitive,  well-defined, and clearly a part of process clinically improved. An amateur’s might be unorthodox, to the point where it might be a point of crowning glory, or the moment where the plot is lost. Certainly, most enticing. Well, as far as I am concerned.

January 21, 2010

What could be the prologue?

Filed under: Uncategorized — coolantz @ 7:12 pm

At times, life just throws the most unexpected situations at you, and you wonder … “why me” ?

Picture this :

I’m standing in my office cubicle, holding a rather larger than usual knife (yep, you’ve heard that one right). My boss, who was initially coming towards me scampers in the opposite direction screaming “I didn’t mean it that way … someone help. What do you think happened with me today ?

January 17, 2010

Nightmare in the morning.

Filed under: humor,rants — coolantz @ 1:22 am

Morning is a time, I really feel great. However there’s a stress factor, that has crept up in a way which could be best described as stealthy. Well, to tell the entire truth it’s mix of factors, but it’s shaken me enough to take notice and possibly try to solve the problem.

The reason is this : I hate going to office.

Now, before any conclusions are drawn, and I get a label, let me clarify. The place I have to head to, after getting up from a peaceful night’s sleep, is so detached from peace as fish are from air. To be more precise, it’s a painting of chaos, with a myriad of colors, that are predominantly dull gray, and dirty brown. The drive up till there, is often filled with incidents, accidents, and spats amongst drivers due to road rage and bad mood of people in general.

Although, a distance of only 7 kms separates my workplace from my house, the drive on an average 30 minutes long. And not the best 30 mins of my life, in fact something I dread.

I work in a company whose office is in Udyog Vihar, Electronic City. At times I do wonder what is the reason for such a mismatched name. There is nothing electronic about the city. There are no roads(if you don’t consider old, tattered mud and stone lined pathways) , no sense of driving among people, traffic policemen, who seem more apt at managing a herd of cattle, rather than automotive traffic.

Also, there is this string of huge factories, with Maruti Udyog as a central crown jewel, that contribute in there special ways, to have another dimension to the chaos. The fleet of trucks that emerge from the premises of these factories are humongous, and for a unseasoned driver, the encounter can be pretty daunting.

I have to pass a round about near my house, which is full of people, at that point of time, so I get bogged there. Soon, I reach an intersection, where it takes me a minimum of 25% of my travel time to get across. many people, spontaneously decide to switch lanes there, cutting the flow of following traffic, and at times leading to a deadlock. According to me, a U-turn at that intersection is probably the cause of much of the evil. Anyways, 100 meters up ahead, another intersection. Here the mood of majority of the people is to take U-turn, and that cuts off the following traffic.

After I get past that, and drive for a couple of kilometers, into the vicinity of Maruti Udyog, it’s the huge trailers, and trucks that decide to play boogie.  If any one of those trucks decide to take a U-turn, they cut off the swarm of other smaller vehicles following them. At times, they are deadlocked by the swarm of smaller vehicles on the opposite side of the road. So the swarm of cars behind these trucks grow into a honking mob of drivers yelling out profanities and trying to hustle their way past each other.

If I am lucky (many a times I have to re route my approach to come from an equally jammed street, but in circumstances,  seems an easier deal), I reach to the final turning to my office. I get into a narrow street with cars parked at both sides me doing a slow and cautious driving as if I’m asked to strictly follow my nose. Very disturbing.

Finally, my office parking lot. It’s a mess. The stupid managers cannot seem to come up with a solution. I have thought over it myself, and I have something, which could be handy. But not the management at my office. They do not anything of that. Anyways, after squeezing my car into a tiniest of slots, I go ahead to walk to my office building. That is the time I start breathing easy.

And I have just described the best of weather/seasons here. Add to it a rainy day, and consider the place to be nightmarish, as in the skill levels of quake 3.

January 13, 2010

Time to retire an old boy.

Filed under: GNU/linux,moody blues,music,philosophy — coolantz @ 4:02 pm

11’th January, 2010.

It was a dark day. I had never imagined for a slightest of moment, that I’d be attached so much to a “non-living entity”, the way I did. Well, for all practical purposes, a computer is just a electronic instrument, to repetitively do the most boring of things, while you(it’s master), would either be getting entertained, solving your professional problems, or communicating with your friends.

My PC, an old warhorse, skipped a beat, went down, and has never come back. But when I think about it, it does seem more than just a device. I even had a name for it, “tiger”.

The times and means by which I got to acquire tiger, are also seemingly not ordinary.

It was a non functional PC I had bought from a college classmate, he was looking to get rid of it, and sold it to me at like throwaway price.He was happy, so was I. When I came home from college, dad was looking to close office, and so naturally keen on scavenging whatever I could lay my hands on. There I saw 2 of the most beautiful looking CPU cabinets. They were minimalistic (unlike the ornate box, I had purchased).

So I took one of those boxes, and removed it’s low form celeron processor, and threw in RAM, and a P4, and additional hard disk from the one I had bought in college, and up came the rig : called tiger. It was satisfying from the very beginning. Customized with switches, locks at many levels. I took pride in having that PC.

But seriously, I was not aware of how many roles it was going to play in my life. The first OS I had installed on to it, was Fedora 8. Wasn’t too satisfied, and wanting to know the guts of my PC, I put gentoo on it. That lasted for a good 2 years, and one of the many artifacts of me doing this, that installation span to many places. I learnt a lot about linux by tinkering things on gentoo. Now, in fact, I cloned the root partition, tweaked some settings, and presto .. I had a USB Hard Disk, which I could connect on any PC, and have it like my Portable machine. Sort of like a laptop for the poor.

People say that PCs do not age gracefully, and the signs of age do not look nice on them (yea, there’s a better version in the market, from the day you pick one up). But this kid was like like old wine. The older it got, the better it became.

Those were the days, I made some LIRC hardware for tiger, added a creative audigy, with 5.1 speakers, tried to install mythtv onto it, put freaky levels of automation for things, added a TV capture card. When I got a laptop, for my other typical computer related tasks, tiger lost it’s keyboard, mouse, and was only operable with a remote control. Along the way, it also got a 22 inch LCD screen, and soon, a 32 inch screen. It was not just a media center that people used to go gaga over, It also did the following things, and in great style, I tell you:

  1. It used to automatically download new torrents via RSS feeds.
  2. Host my music collection, serve it via DAAP, for apple products, and via uPnP for Microsoft based devices at home.
  3. Host my Projects, and code, and what not.
  4. Store and share videos and photos.
  5. Record shows from TV, and provide  me the watch and pause functionality on TV.
  6. Play FM radio for me.
  7. Stream music from the net. That’s also how i discovered last.fm

to tiger:

“you may have passed on, but your legacy and soul will continue to flourish, and scale newer heights, you rest in peace”

January 11, 2010

Shortage of time … busting a myth.

Filed under: Have a nice Day,moody blues — coolantz @ 5:38 pm

I have come across yet another peculiarity in people’s behavior. 🙂

If/When someone says he/she does not have the time to do something (say, for example, learning to pursue a hobby they emphatically claim to be bonkers over), it’s probably because they’re not too keen.

Please do not take the aforementioned statement literally. It’s by no means to suggest, that people lie :

  • If they say they need so much time to accomplish a certain task, in a stipulated time . Pretty much arguable.
  • A one of case, when they say, something like “today’s meet up is not possible. I’m really pressed for time”.

I guess (or hope, rather) you get the idea.

Now, consider someone, who says he/she cannot start to play Guitar. Or for that matter, start to play tennis. Then you can interpret the statement differently. They are probably  not too hung on the idea.

Or consider this, if a “friend” says, on repeated occasions, that they would love to catch up, but never make it, get it straight up … “he/she finds you boring”. Take a hike. It’s probably best for both of you.

January 9, 2010

Auto Expo 2010

Filed under: humor — coolantz @ 11:34 pm

This is an event that showcases what’s fresh, and what to expect in the world of automobiles. The kind of crowd it draws is mind numbing, to say the least. I’ve been to Auto Expos in the past, and this year was no different.

I have no concrete statistics, or haven’t done the kind of research some people do, and come out with numbers such as “200,000 people in the first hour” … or so on.But the number of people were large enough, to create an illusion of “sea of people”, at metro station exit. The flow pretty much broke it down :). Lines of people at the entry gate, lining up to the next gate of the huge periphery of Periphery of Pragati maidan. Heck, the mobile phone network being weighed down, because of the sheer number of people in a finite area. I’m sure you get the kind of number I’m referring to.

I wonder though. who these people are? Attending such a specialized form of art display. I mean there were uncles, aunties, dolled up females and little kids at the place, for whom, cars are simply a means of getting from a point A to point B.  If it comes in that shade of red, it’ll be better. And of course, this is a big car, that’s a small car. That’s about it.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to know anything better about cars either. My like/dislike for a car stems up to pretty much these points: looks, looks of the dashboard, looks of the lights, leg room for passengers.

I mean, I don’t get the other (more important figures) such as hp, torque, and RPM stuff. that’s like Greek talk to me. I’ve have earnestly tried to follow it’s explanation from some of my more informed friends, but it fails to register.

So, I got myself asking … “Why am I here?”.

Well, the atmosphere of the place did not help much either. It was a typical, bright sunny weekend, with new families, taking the well deserved break from the seemingly endless streak of fog filled past week. The media had created such a frenzy about the place, that many people just had to go. It was so much the “in thing”. The time was ripe. and I was caught unaware. I thought we’d be going during business hours, but as it turns out, on weekends, there are no business hours.

So I was there with a couple of enthusiastic friends (who I guess, do understand hp,RPM, and displacement talk), and right from the entry, the place seemed to be a bit daunting to my liking. There were so many people. Many of them, not even looking at cars, but running after their little ones (who are blessed with ability to create heaven as and when they please) .

I think, I a pretty much desensitized about cars. I do not have a loyal brand following.I particularly dislike the kind of showcasing auto expo has. What they have at the fairs, is also pretty much the mundane routine. Run off the mill.

  • There would be a contemporary, car that is visible on road every day. That kind of sets the tone, and sort of connects the brand image for people.
  • Then there would be some cars, which are not yet in production. This forms the “what to expect” segment. This part of a brand, I really like.
  • Then there is a “Concept Car”. It is usually to say, that this model is too expensive or technically complex to produce, that it sales will not justify the cost to make it. I hate concept cars. I do not even venture near them. Usually, they are also barricaded with so many layers of people, that it seems too much of an effort for a distant glimpse.
  • People standing in front of cars, and getting themselves clicked. I predict many of such pics surface up as facebook profile pics in this month.
  • At a place not too far from the “concept car”, there would be a elevated platform, where the best looking of men and women would hold up to the common cars as though they were the “concept cars”.At other times they would break from this routine, and start to jiggle to some catchy tunes. But, no one ever touches the “concept car”. That piece of shiny metal, must rule in solitude. An equal or a greater number of people clicking them
  • And finally there would be some people dressed in suits, going yada yada with some enthusiastic visitor, or a good looking person of the opposite sex.

Moreover cars are cars. I like most of them. There is hardly a vehicle, which I say I hate. And if there is, it almost never makes it to these fairs. Also, to me, all the cars of all the brands look the same. They offer same variants : a hatchback, a sedan, and a SUV. All are pretty much like able. You see Honda, Skoda, Audi, BMW …. I see only looks. Well, so what was it? I kept asking myself. What was I doing there.

So,  I did a disappearing act. :). I left, went over to a nearby Market, at a eating place I really love, and had a feast for lunch. Yea, I pretty much bunked Auto Expo.

I did not even plan this before going there. It just happened, and it was fun.

If you came here expecting photos ….. tough luck!

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