M is for MIDI

Even if you never saw it live, the image of Apple's famous 1984 Superbowl ad is probably easier to bring to mind than Apple execs could ever have hoped for, 30 years ago: rows upon rows of bleak, soulless automata listening to a harrowing speech by some Big Brother-esque dictator on a giant screen. In runs the only bastion of human hope – a blonde woman in a white tank top and red shorts that are short even by today's standards – and launches a sledgehammer into the talking screen.

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L is for Latency

I often find myself running late. I try my best, but at times it seems like there's nothing I can do; sometimes I think it's genetic. I know I'm not the only person in the world whose timing can improve, and believe it or not, I don't only share this with people, but also with digital recording systems.

How, you wonder, can digital recording systems have timing issues?

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Le Campus de Stratford Takes a Worldwide Bronze!

The amazing Campus de Stratford (that is, University of Waterloo Stratford Campus) was just ranked third of the top ten universities around the world developing le campus du futur (it sounds so much more sleek en français).

Incredibly, this list wasn't composed by someone in Waterloo, or even Kitchener for that matter. It's written by someone whose website suffix is .fr

That's .fr-eakin cool, if you ask me. Click the link below for the article. This can be a good excuse to go talk to the kid at McDonald's who scoops your French Fries into the red envelop with that strange scooper they use – you can ask him to translate the article. I'm sure he'll know how. If that fails, there's always Google Translate.

http://www.letudiant.fr/educpros/actualite/dix-campus-qui-inventent-l-universite-du-futur.html

K is for KBPS

Walking down the aisles of your local supermarket, you may be amazed how difficult it is to find pure grapefruit juice. Oh, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of grapefruit-inspired liquids: cocktails, blends, elixirs, and other forms of snake oil that the taste chemists at Ocean Spray concoct to keep folks happy, well-hydrated, and protected from the bitter reality that accompanies citric acid.

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J is for Jack

I remember a family trip to Florida, having just bought a new Jerky Boys CD and suffering through the car ride home because I had my Discman but forgot my headphones. This was a time before white earbuds could be found with reasonable probability just by opening a glove compartment or checking one's pocket. At some point during this car ride I remember turning up the Discman's volume to its maximum and holding the empty headphone jack to my ear, straining to hear my beloved prank phone calls squeaking through.

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CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music

One of the coolest music videos ever.

Seen a bunch of these experiments in nifty videos that get passed around online, but this guy puts it all together into a wickedly slick production. Probably need to go back and pay attention to the music now, since I was so transfixed on the amazing things sound can do.

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The Hood of Parent, Vol. 2: Nursery Water

There are certain stores in the world you step into and get this feeling: if this place were swept away in a flood, the world really wouldn’t suffer. Grocery stores, beer stores, pharmacies, and the admirable Lee Valley Tools do not fall into this category; Babies”R”Us does.

Yet if you’ve ever done so much as humour the heretical thought that ‘maybe I have all I need’ it will quickly be shattered and replaced with a line of thinking more in tune with our society’s values, the moment you set foot in a Babies”R”Us. Of course, that is assuming you have a child and you’re of the mind that child-rearing is primarily a job not of care, love, or nurturing, but of minimizing the psychological trauma you inflict on the growing creature. 

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So Music's Not So Bad For A Person...

Never much of a fan of this drive to reduce music to a bunch of mechanical neural activity, but this video does make me feel that music may not be the Devil's work after all...

(plus, if you're a music teacher this is the ultimate promotional video you should be showing prospective [parents of] students)


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I is for Interface

You might think Google had figured out how to cure chickenpox or turn coal into gold because of the miracle stories you hear about their Translate app. It may not be that important of a development, but it is pretty nifty. On my recent trip to China, I really got to experience how useful the app was. With the exception of a few translation oddities, I was able to communicate effectively enough to purchase iPad covers of questionable branding origin, request meat-free food, and not only get ripped off by buying an apparent 1 terabyte USB stick, but actually get my money back when I realized I'd been duped. The app enables communication between two people who share only a small amount culturally, and nearly nothing linguistically.

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H is for Headphones (A Guide for the Perplexed Buyer)

You may not like Dr. Dre's music, but you have to thank him for one thing: putting headphones back on the map. Or at least, slapping his name on a product on which people will pay far more for the letter "b" than they would on Wheel of Fortune.

In the last few years, headphone sales have exploded, with Dre's famous Beats headphones leading the charge and soaring past $1 billion in sales. The celebrity endorsements and prominent placement in Apple stores surely don't hurt, but if you step back and consider how radically the headphone market has changed over the past few years amongst non-audiophiles, it's pretty astonishing.

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G is for Glitch

It's broken - don't fix it.

This is the unspoken motto in the world of glitch music. To anyone who has used a computer, the word 'glitch' shouldn't be terribly foreign: glitches are errors. Things that are broken, not the way they're supposed to be, like potholes in a road or cracks in a window. Usually we work to avoid these broken-nesses but some cr/azy folks among us actually use these as the palette they paint with.

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F is for Frequency

Aboard this planet, it takes 365.25 days to complete a lap around the sun. Saturn takes 10,755 days to do the same. On Mercury, the trip only takes 88 days. In 1619 the German astronomer Johannes Kepler published The Harmony of the World, in which he famously observed the orbits of each planet in our solar system and transformed them into musical terms.

When it comes to planetary orbits, we really are taking these facts on faith. Maybe Kepler understood this, and so he strove with his solar symphony to transform the planets' frequencies into a medium where we experience frequency directly, every day of our lives. That is, sound.

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B is for Bit Depth

Cassiopeia. Ursa Major. Orion's Belt. The Big Dipper.

These constellations light our skies at night, have got sailors home safely, and have been the subject of many a great tale. But when we look north on a summer's night and see seven pinpricks of light that make a giant spoon (I never could quite figure out why it was called a dipper...), there's a flair of imagination at work to fill in the blanks.

Being less literate in the language of the sky, average folks might be able to identify only one or two constellations. It seems like a wonder that hundreds of years ago our ancestors could look at the sky and see a drama unfolding with queens and spoons and dragons. Oh my. 

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E is for Equalizer

Volume knobs are hardly a mystery to us music-listening folk, though with our music players becoming more and more digital, the presence of a real knob is coming to be a rare thing. Still, even young children have a firm grasp over making something louder or quieter, and when we do this, if we think about what we're doing we're either strange, or into sound (which might be two words for the same thing). 

If you've ever explored that strange space in the [extremely limited] menu of your car stereo, you know that you can control your audio settings. It might go by a simple name like Tone Control or something fancy like ESST (Extreme Sonic Sculpting Technology). Whatever those branding wizards decided to name it, you're dealing with an equalizer, or an EQ for short.

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What is Big Data?

2.76 million people ride the TTC daily. 38% of customers abandoned online shopping carts when delivery estimates exceeded 7 days. Facebook posts that include 'should', 'would', and 'who' get the most comments; posts that include 'why' and 'how' get the least comments. 3.2 million vinyl records were sold in 2012. Every two days we create as much data as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003.

We are living in a sea of data. Whether we're swimming or drowning is a matter of opinion.

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