Sunday, June 28, 2009

There might be a reason that singles are chosen as singles.

Tim Mason once asked me an interesting question along these lines (I am paraphrasing because I don't recall the exact question):
Do singles tend to be people's favorite songs off an album because they're the best songs, or because they're popular (since they are the singles)?

While we pondered this, one approach we took was to consider the experience of discovering a new band. When this happens, I tend to latch on to a song or two that become immediate favorites. These are the songs that I look forward to, and perhaps repeat, while listening to the album. These usually end up being my favorites even after I have become fully familiar with the album (though that is not always the case). We wondered how often these favorite songs, end up having been released as singles (unbeknown to us). A hidden assumption here is that we didn't discover the band as a result of hearing the single, as this would increase the chances of a correlation.

I guess the point of this post is to point out a recent correlation. I have been downright obsessed with the song "My Girls" by Animal Collective (whom I recently discovered) for the last couple of months. It turns out that it is the first single off their most recent album, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Reviews of the album (their 8th) suggest that it is their most accessible to date. I would agree after going back and listening to a few of the earlier ones. I still wouldn't have expected to hear them on the radio since their sound is definitely not mainstream (though I never listen to radio). I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this song on the radio last weekend while visiting in KC. Since then I looked up some info on the band and found out, in addition to the singles, that the album has done fairly well on the U.S. charts (peaking at #13). I will say, though, that the second single, "Summertime Clothes", from the album is not my other favorite - that distinction goes to "Brother Sport".

So is there any real conclusion from this? I guess not. Perhaps I should commission a study to see how often this actually occurs in my music experience...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Your web browser can soon be your web server.

At least that's the goal of Opera Unite ( I can definitely see the web headed in that direction, though I doubt (unfortunately) that Opera will be leading the charge...I'm sure Microsoft, Google, or some other bigger name company will steal this idea. My question: will such browser/servers provide enough functionality for me to ditch my paid hosting service?

The Amtrak experience.

This weekend I rode on Amtrak for the first time for a trip to Kansas City to visit Justin and Ashley. I have to say that I was quite satisfied with the experience. The round-trip ticket from StL to KC cost $52, about $10 more than I would expect to pay for gas. The trip was also longer (5 hours and 40 minutes vs. ~4 hours), but I didn't have to drive (w00t). The accomodations on the train were pretty good - there's lots of space between the seats, and a 120-volt outlet is provided for every seat. The ride was also surprisingly quiet - the loudest part was when they would blow the horn. I would definitely consider using Amtrak more in the future, but the only major cities with direct service from the Lou are KC and Chicago.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yet another web browser - but this one is kinda interesting...

Flock - The Social Web Browser

Why it's interesting:
It integrates many aspects of your social web presence into the browser.  For example, there are widgets built into the browser to manage a myriad of your accounts, including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GMail, Yahoo! Mail, Blogger, etc.  In fact, I'm using the blog post feature of the browser to create this very post.

Other points of note:
It is based on Firefox, and has a somewhat similar feel...sorta.

Will it become my new default web browser?  Highly doubtful.  But it's still pretty neat.  Perhaps the new order of preference will be:
Internet Explorer
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Compton Hill Water Tower

After 2 years, I finally made it up to the Compton Hill Water Tower, which is only a few blocks away from my house. The tower is open on the first Saturday of the month during the spring, summer, and fall, and admission costs $5. While it's nothing terribly impressive, it was probably worth the 5 bucks to go up once. Here are a couple of shots from my excursion:

My first official Wikipedia edit.

I've made a couple of minor anonymous edits before, but I just made my first edit (actually, 2) with my Wikipedia account. I was reading a story on CNET about Jeff Moss (a.k.a. Dark Tangent) being named to the Homeland Security Advisory Council, and decided to look up his Wikipedia page. I noticed that the page did not have too much information on it, and lacked this recent piece of news. I dutifuly added this to the page with a reference to the source article. Go me! You can see my contributions here: