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The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas

seagateMmmmmm, new hardware… Alright so I just got a brand new Seagate FreeAgent Go from Newegg.com on sale for 105.99 with free shipping! (Thanks Brock for helping fix the credit card issues, and getting it to me overnight!) I gotta say, off the bat, it’s pretty slick. First of all, (the top at least) its made of metal, unlike the Western Digital Passports which are all plastic and bend in when touched. The activity/on lighting in the back of the drive is a nice touch (all those dots on the bottom of the drive glow and “breath” (like a sleeping macbook), not overwhelmingly bright, with white LED). It’s SILENT, SMALL, very thin and stylish looking. Let’s see how it performs, I just formatted the 500GB to 25GB of FAT32 for transporting files from a PC and 475GB for my Aperture (110GB) and iTunes Library (119GB), along with some other stuff.
FUN!


cool animation. watch in HQ.

Best new “supergroup” from 2008.

The Mighty Underdogs is a hip hop “supergroup” formed by rappers Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and Lateef the Truth Speaker of Latyrx, and producer Headnodic of the Crown City Rockers.

- wikiP

Reading Trails LogoI found a new book recommendation site, Reading Trails, via Mashable based on… Social Web concepts (obviously, it was on Mashable).

I don’t think that my WordPress hosted blog is going to let me paste my widget code, so here’s the link to my first trail.

A list of all the best places online to get cool and unique clothing.

WP 2.7 Coltrane’s one design flaw. The absence of autosaving in the QuickPress feature. :(

The short answer: ABSOF$#KINGLUTELY.

Although I never played World of Warcraft, I had friends and coworkers who did- so knowing that-

take: WoW, The Sims, Sim City, Sim Copter, StarCraft, Age of Empires, Master of Orion, A little Command and Conquer and a little bit of the Fallout series and you get- SPORE, quite possibly one of the most addicting and entertaining games I’ve ever played.

KRS-001

Now, I haven’t really invested time into a video game since, Red Alert 2 (Which came out almost exactly 8 years ago, for those at home counting). Gathered I was pretty involved with Team Fortress 2 a few hours a week last year, it wasn’t anything to be worried about- I’d play for an hour or so, then put it down for a week. I stopped playing it all together without much hesitation.

Today, I played SPORE for nearly 5 hours straight without even fully realizing it. I went from the Tribal stage straight to space in one sitting. I allied tribes, killed my enemies, conquered a planet and expanded my galactic empire in one sitting. Too much? Yes. Worth it? Totally.

However, it is now 1am and I have accomplished little to nothing since I got home around 6:30pm.

Why is it awesome?

The Sodomizer

When you take it at the bare bones- SPORE is really just an elegant mash up of a MMORPG, RTS (real time strategy) and life simulation. You have attributes and can have allies and wars and interact with online players- but what makes it shine is the detail and complexity of the characters. There are virtually endless possibilities when creating and painting/skinning a character. Your choices directly and dynamically effect your gameplay. The options are astounding. You created every creature, every building, vehicle, space ship. It’s insane! The freedom within the creator is incredible too. Mash elements, stack elements, resize, control the appearance, angle, etc. It’s unbelievable.

The only thing is that I wish it told you that whatever you look like before the Tribal stage is how you are stuck looking for the rest of the game.

My Creature

The game play is great too! Now, I’m not sure if I have yet to actually interface with real online players- I know I’ve abducted some, but as far as allying goes- I’m not sure. Anyway- you should get it and you should play it. You can check out my player page here. Also, my user name is Dex110 and my planet name is Leroy. So join up. This game rocks.

The quick answer: Pretty decent actually.

An Overview

Get past the shameless excuse to push the iTunes music store on you, asking you to download related music you’ll probably like and tracks you may be missing from a particular album or artists discography- the actual playlist creator is pretty decent. I imagine it uses the category/genre, artist, featured artists, producer, label information combined with related purchase history of customers and ratings of that song. UPDATE: I found an entry by Ryan Faas who seems to have more detailed information about how the Genius feature works- basically inline with what I previously thought. One interesting thing I found is that it seems to evaluate each track individually. I found this with the Steel Pulse playlist (viewable at that bottom of page), all the tracks looked legit except you got Mims in there… But, if you listen to the track, that specific track actually is a remix that features Reggae style artists Cham and Junior Reid.

Here’s an example of the first one I tried. Built off the Postal Service – Nothing Better

And here’s one for Portugal. The Man – Gold Fronts – not too bad either…

And One for Saves the Day – Jesse And My Whetstone

So How Smart is a “Genius”?

Now, it’s not perfect, as repeating artists in a playlist is typically a no-no. Especially repeating artists twice in a row. Unfortunately I could not find an option to keep it from repeating artists, however you can use the “refresh” button to regenerate a playlist until one you are happy with is created. All the ones I’ve posted here are the initial playlist generated for each track, I did not press refresh.

Also, in terms of goal, it is definitely a success, although you may do things slightly differently when manually trying to create that “perfect playlist”, part of the stated purpose of Genius Playlists is to

help you discover songs in your library you never knew you had — and rediscover forgotten favorites.

Source: Apple.com

Being a music horder/packrat/scavenger I have a relatively massive library with many tracks I’ve never even listened too yet, it definitely has assisted me in that aspect so far. It also helps me discover specific tracks from artist they did in a style not typical to their own (just a raw example, Mims). It’s great for artists like Broken Social Scene who have a huge variety of styles.

You can also regenerate a playlist anytime along the line- so for example say you started with everything based off of RATM – Bulls On Parade and it gets to Incubus – Wish You Were Here, and you think, hey, that’s a decent mood change, just make sure Incubus is highlighted and click the little atom/genius button again and it will recreate a playlist based on Incubus – WYWH. Pretty cool. You can also do that with any track within the playlist without it actually playing, just select it- but note, pressing the genius button will switch to the selected track (and create a new playlist).

So What’s the catch?

Now remember, for the actual playlists (not the suggestions) you actually have to have the music in YOUR library (I was unable to get it to pull in music from any shared libraries I was connected to). So the accuracy, variety and general decency of your generated playlist will probably be related someone directly to your music library size.

Another catch, to generate a playlist off a song- that song needs to be available in the iTunes store- so tough luck for all you fans of The Beatles and AC/DC. I also imagine that for a song to be indexed by Genius and thus included in a generated playlist it needs to be available in the iTunes music store as well.

When saving the playlists it creates, they remain dynamic- this is good and bad. Good, meaning you can still refresh it and use the dynamic genius options- Bad because, unfortunately, once you refresh it, you cannot revert back to the one you originally saved/generated.

Do you have a good playlist Genius generated? Post it in the comments! Or, have a track you want to see a playlist generated for, let me know, I’ll do my best to get it up.

The IQ Tests

Here are some more playlists I generated for additional examples/reference. I tried to show a variety of music genres.
NOTE: I believe the queries I ran to be pretty fair representations as it was pulling the songs from a library of 21,011 tracks, over 105 Gigs of music.

PS- on the topic of new iTunes 8 features, I’d just like to say, that although an improvement, the “New” iTunes visualizer, is not that visually impressive. I’ll still take Leopard’s Jelly any day.
UPDATE: I partially take that back. Although Jelly, appears “smoother”- it seems I was using the wrong music to truly see the new improved responsives and upgrades. I put on the new visualize to some chiptune (Stu – chiprape) and it was actually pretty sweet. Really cool.

Alright so I’ve been playing around with a lot of cool stuff lately and I just wanted to fill you in on some cool programs you should all definitely check out. Some apps you may know, some, not. Some items in this post have to do with GTD (Getting Things Done). I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it from the hipster PDA to the best note taking tools, and my copy of GTD by David Allen FINALLY came from Amazon after I had to reorder it, so I’m reading that too. Needless to say, I’ve been a little gung-ho about this whole GTD thing. Anyways, all of these programs here could be called utilities and thus be said help you get things done in some sense- so check it out:

New to me Today

Jott

Evernote

jott logoOk, first off, Jott is pretty sweet to start. It’s basically a free call in memo service, but it goes a step further. Not only can you call a free 800 number (technically 866) and leave a voicemail for you to listen to later, it transcribes the message and sends it to your inbox, or your friends inbox, or a group of inboxes. And with the help of an OmniFocus mail actions script edited by Dr. Drang, you can go straight from Jott to OF. (See the bottom of this post for the file). It’s got enough to it, that, if you so choose, you can use it as a action management too all by itself.

Now just image all those late night drunk dials to your buddies voicemail. What if instead you Jott’d them. Not only would you have a sweet message to listen to later (the audio from all memos is also archived for you to listen to, incase the transcription is wrong or jumbled) but you could also be slightly amused by what a computer thinks you are trying to say when your too sloshed to talk straight. As an added bonus, if it’s brilliant enough, you can choose to share the memo (audio/transcription) as a public link from Jott! Marvelous!

UPDATE: Unfortunately/Fortunately, Jott is out of beta now- so although the basic phone jotting is still supported for free, to get the notes transcribed and sent to your email now only comes as part of a paid membership.

evernote logoSo, I haven’t extensively tested evernote yet, but just by watching the video, I’m hooked. I’m most curious however about the OCR technology present in the software, that evidently can index text from images for search purposes, even handwriting. Like I said, I haven’t given it a full hands on go yet, but I’m sure to soon and I’ll let you know- for now though, take a look at the Youtube vid of it in action.

I’m also really digging the OS integration with comp to web synchronization. Especially the phone camera to evernote capture. I’m a big fan of none phone app phone functions, like updating twitter from your phone, Twitpic, Jott and Text to Omnifocus by texting to [email]+omnifocus@[isp.com].

Stuff I’ve been using

DropBox

Mint.com

DropBox LogoNow Dropbox is really cool. I found out about it from, I think Mashable, a long time ago when they promoted DB as the next big thing. All the link took me to was getdropbox.com with a simple movie and a beta sign up. I signed up for the beta, but forgot to bookmark the page, then for some reason could never remember what it was called and always ended up on box.net, which I knew was not it. Then I felt stupid every time I tried to tell people about it but couldn’t…(It would always go… “oh yea this online thing with windows and mac client thats like iDisk and media fire but better, some kids from MIT… yada yada…no, I forget what its called… :(“) Until about 2.5-3 weeks ago when I got a glorious letter to my inbox. It was an invite to the beta of DropBox. I recognized the name immediately and had a little Eureka moment. Needless to say, DropBox is pretty dope.

  • Two gigs of space
  • seemless integration with os x, including right click options and task bar icons- Dropbox shows up and behaves exactly like a regular folder system on my comp
  • Great web side application and menus
  • Version tracking and folder invites, plus a public folder with sharing links (no more need for mediafire, yousendit, zshare or the dreaded SendSpace, ew.) [However, Mediafire will still be my top choice for the quick and dirty stuff when I'm on a borrowed computer and don't want to bother logging into DropBox for some reason....which probably won't happen]
  • Image management/editing, which, I have not tested first hand but looks sweet in the video
  • Version management/backup which is like built in, automatic Apple “Time Machine”
  • Smart updating which only changes the delta of the file, not overwrite the entire file- very quick and saves bandwidth
  • Virtual shared folders for that act like network shared folders when two people have dropbox

Just watch the video for the full taste. But I do suggest you sign up for the beta and try it out. It’s sweet.

@DropBox, just watch your back with that “just works” stuff. You might earn yourself an email from Mr. Jobs legal staff.

Imagine replacing your iDisk, Mediafire, Flashdrive and Shared folder with one application/web solution. Get things done quicker with less mess. Word.

Mintlogo- After signing up for the beta then chickening out and not doing anything with it because I was really skeptical with entering every last digit of all my account numbers, financial passwords and etc into a brand new beta web app. So I waited it out a few months for some giant news break about an internet startup found committing identity theft and financial fraud on a mass scale. This never happened, in fact, some blogs started raving about Mint, so I finally sat down and got “Minty” by setting up my accounts. I gotta say, it’s pretty sweet. It’s helped me visualize and better track my spending. It also saves me a ton of time by allowing me to see all my info at once instead of opening 4 tabs, each with my different bank statement open and logged in on. Additionally, I’m in love because it allows you to send custom alerts and statements to your email. Now, this seems pretty standard, but since Bank Of America has always and STILL lacks the most elementary alert of sending me a daily balance of my credit card statement (it will do your checking account, but cannot do your credit card), the fact that I could now do this (and more) with a free web app makes me smile. I don’t hve to waste time in a browser logging into BoA.com with the multiple password, security checks, instead I just look in my inbox. The way it makes money, I’m assuming, is through the “Ways to Save” tab, where it analyzes your spending habits and financial situation and recommends things you can change to save money. Like switching to a CitiBank Credit Card with 10.49% APR and a better points reward system instead of my BoA card with the 30.9% APR (I never carry a balance, so I don’t care). It’s definitely a nifty and useful tool. Certainly worth checking out. As a bonus, it’s pretty and nicely designed. Check out the demo video.

Just out of Beta

Recently out of beta (at least there no more mention of beta on the site) is CurdBee. I’ve been playing around with Curdbee but haven’t really gotten a chance to use it because I’m already pretty good with my Excel/OmniFocus method, but it could use improvement, so when I get a chance to actually use it, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if you’re in need of a cool FREE online invoicing system- take a peek!

Well that’s all for now. I’ll continue to keep updating as more becomes available, new features arrive and new sweet betas surface. Until next time

The file I promised…

Looking for the compiled version of Dr. Drang’s script- look no further, I removed all those pesky line number and compiled it for you here- get it from my DropBox public link: http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/68778/jottactions.scpt

Unless noted otherwise, all media and content copyright 2014 Adam Dexter. All rights reserved.