Friday, July 8, 2011

Listening to the cloud

First of all, sorry about my week-long hiatus.  I've been so busy at work, working odd hours, and doing stuff around the house and I've just simply been too tired to do anything.  In my short spurts of down time, I decided to dip my toe into cloud computing.  I've had a Dropbox account for a while now to keep some files available to my computer and my phone, but I wanted something that could do just a bit more.  The most obvious place to start was my music collection.  Compared to some people I know, mine is paltry, just shy of 1000 songs and about 3GB in size.  I do keep some music on my android phone, but by no means do I have all of it on there.  I've tried 3 different services, mSpot, Amazon mp3/Amazon Cloud Player, and Google Music.

First of all, Google Music is in beta and currently only available in the US by invitation.  You can request an invitation on the site and I got mine within 2 days.  As of right now there is NO storage limit, so those of you with thousands of songs can rejoice.  Unfortunately, the PC app and android app could definitely use some polishing and is lacking some functions the other two offer (such as a lock screen widget on the phone).  I'm sure this is because it's in beta right now though.  No word yet though on when this will become available to everyone and how much it will cost (if it will cost anything at all)

Secondly, mSpot is fairly simple and easy to use.  Signing up for free gives you 5GB of space.  One complaint is that compared to Google's and Amazon's services, the PC application was VERY slow to upload.  The sound quality also seems to be degraded on my phone and noticeably sounds worse than the original file.

Right now, I prefer Amazon.  They also offer 5GB for free which is plenty for my smallish music collection.  The android app is very functional and offers decent control. The sound quality is also much better than mSpot.

I must say, it's pretty cool to have my entire music collection anywhere I go without it taking up space on my phone's memory card, and for those of us who are still lucky enough to have grandfathered unlimited data plans, we can listen anywhere to our heart's content even if wifi isn't available

Friday, July 1, 2011

"He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life" -Homer Simpson

Today I managed to pick myself up a copy of Weird Al Yankovic's new album "Alpocalypse".  It's his first album since "Straight Outta Lynwood" 5 years ago.  It's a typical Weird Al affair... a polka, a few original songs in the style of other artists, and of course his signature parodies.  In this album he rips off Bruno Mars, T.I., Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and even Lady Gaga.

The Lady Gaga story is an interesting one.  Even though according to the law he doesn't have to ask the original artist for permission to do a parody, Al likes to do so anyway before he even starts work on one.  He asked Gaga's manager and he declined unless he saw the lyrics.  Al wrote the lyrics for "Perform This Way" (parody of "Born This Way") and sent them to her manager.  A few weeks passed and the manager said he wanted to hear the full song.  Al scrambled to get it recorded and pushed the release of this album back to do so.  Her manager still didn't like it and Al put the song up online and wanted the proceeds to go to charity, because he didn't want the song to go to waste

After it had been online for a less than a day, Gaga and her staff saw it (apparently her manager never showed her the lyrics or the finished song), loved it, and immediately gave Al permission to put it on his album.  I'm glad it worked out for him too because the song is very well done and catchy.  "Polka Face" is still my favorite though so far, probably because I saw it live last summer.

Luckily for Weird Al, there will never be a shortage of popular songs to parody