Featured Album Fridays / DeVotchKa – How It Ends (2004)

Welcome to the newest segment on JonLim.ca – Featured Album Fridays! I’ve decided to take every Friday and utilize it for something useful – sharing music that you may not have heard before.

This week – DeVotchKa’s How It Ends album. I selected it because I heard How It Ends from the Last Day commercial for Gears of War 2 and decided to check out their other music. Here’s a description of DeVotchKa straight from Wikipedia:

DeVotchKa is a four piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble that fuses Romani, Greek, Slavic, Bolero, Mariachi (and many more styles) music with American punk and folk roots. They take their name from Anthony Burgess’ Nadsat word for “young girl,” which is itself derived from the Russian word (девочка) of the same meaning. Based in Denver, Colorado, the quartet is made up of Nick Urata, who sings and plays theremin, guitar, bouzouki, piano, and trumpet; Tom Hagerman, who plays violin, accordion, and piano; Jeanie Schroder, who sings and plays sousaphone and double bass; and Shawn King, who plays percussion and trumpet.

The How It Ends album was released in 2004, and for those interested, you can purchase it here. Or you can just stream it below!

Enjoy! Be sure to comment if you like the album!

The Last Day

Below is the extended version of the Gears of War 2 television commercial – The Last Day. I believe it’s the same team who did Mad World from Gears of War 1.

This is rather old, but it has to given its fair dues.

Beautiful. Enough said.

Ignorance is bliss?

While surfing Digg for some news, I ran accross this story about an Ex-MPAA and IFPA Anti-Piracy Enforcer who was shot dead and is being investigated for the possibility of it being an assassination. This is a terrible story, and yet here are a few comments from the article:

Comment 11:

well at least my korean axx is safe :)
lmfao
may he be chewed to bits by millipedes! :P
F***’EM!

Comment 17:

This horrible, pathetic excuse for a human being was actively working to stop me downloading (stealing) copyrighted content. He deserves to die!!

It’s great that he died! I hope he took a long, long time to croak and he was in extreme amounts of pain. If only members of his family were there to see him take the bullet and get spattered in his blood! I hope they also die horrible, slow and painful deaths. Especially his crazy wife and horrid sons and daughters!

This weezil deserves to die for stopping me stealing stuff! good riddance, I hope you rot in hell for eternity. Good riddance you slimy prick!

Nice to hear some good news occasionally.

Comment 18:

unfortunate accident cough, but…. you anti-copyright people are pushing your limits with the people. Trying to turn the internet into a police state who do you people think you are?

Now, I’m not sure where some of these people get off making these sort of comments about someone who was going after commercial pirates, aka the people who produce fakes for profit. That’s not you, person who is downloading for personal use!

People sure can be thoughtless and heartless these days.

ViddYou – Streaming HD Videos for Free!

Recently, I’ve discovered that Vimeo has transitioned into a subscription-based revenue model, or as they call it – Vimeo Plus. I had briefly considered supporting the site that had been so good to me for so long, until I found out they only allow accounts from the US to upgrade. Fantastic, time to migrate to a new service!

Meet: ViddYou

Viddyou is a free and premium personal video service focused on offering the best quality in video, privacy control, and overall ease of use.

There are a few restrictions: HD conversion isn’t fantastic, 250MB limit per upload, and a max of 5 minutes recording time. For a free account, that’s not bad, and it’s only $34.95 per year if I wish to remove those limits.

Here’s a sample – and a free plug for LIVE Conference 2008:

Like it? Try it out! Let me know your experiences!

EDIT: Found a great new feature – under ‘Community’, you can start your own community to post specific videos to. We’ve separated some sensitive videos this way and it seems to be working quite well! Awesome feature!

Why not improve the existing infrastructure?

Reading articles like this is rather disheartening. Telecom companies (In North America) are focusing their efforts on rapidly expanding services and capabilities of mobile devices.

Can you really blame them?

No, but I can say this: stop ignoring the development of the existing infrastructure. Broadband access and speeds in particular have been rather stagnant for as long as I remember, the point being hammered home by this picture – depicting the speed of broadband all over the world, sorted by country:

(From: Digg.com)

Why is it that countries which have the best cell phones manage to have the best services for those cell phones and the best broadband internet speeds as well? Why is Japan and South Korea planning to roll out 4G networks that promise true mobile broadband, and we can’t even get 3G right?

Step up your game, North American telecoms, for you are being left behind.

Mobile Data – An Arm and a Leg?

I’m a customer of Rogers Wireless and I have always been deprived of a mobile data plan, and there’s a good reason for it! I found this article while Googling for data plans in Canada. Sure, it was written in April 9th, 2007, so things have had to change since then right?

Well, here’s what Rogers is currently offering in terms of data plans, with a breakdown of cost per megabyte:

$15     2MB        $7.50/MB
$25     500MB    $0.05/MB
$30     1GB        $0.03/MB
$60     3GB        $0.02/MB

Seems pretty reasonable right? Well, 6.9 million iPhones were sold in Q42008 globally, and the iPhone is a rather data-intensive device. It’s advertised to play streaming videos with ease, play games, and keep you connected.

But streaming videos can be one of the greatest consumers of bandwidth – just ask YouTube. So I decided to test it out – just how much data would YouTube consume? To do this test, I measured the amount of data used in one minute (1:00) of a YouTube video. Here are the raw results:

Start       End        Difference
418.40    424.00    5.60
428.00    433.80    5.80
440.20    446.20    6.00
447.10    453.20    6.10
454.20    460.20    6.00
461.40    469.60    8.20
469.60    479.10    9.50
480.70    484.50    3.80
485.50    491.50    6.00
493.30    499.30    6.00

The most left hand column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer (Apple Macbook), which started at 418.40, so I merely recorded the difference. The middle column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer after a minute of a YouTube video playing. The last column is the difference of the first two columns, giving you the amount of data used up within one minute.

I eliminated the two outliers and came up with an average of 6.21MB/min. Sounds like a big number, eh? Well, here’s what that means for you:

  • On a 500MB/month data plan ($25) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 80 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. Even sooner if you use your data elsewhere. ($0.31/min)
  • On a 1GB/month data plan ($30) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 160 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.19/min)
  • On a 3GB/month data plan ($60) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 483 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.12/min)

Doesn’t this seem expensive for you? We’re in an age where data should be at our fingertips, without restrictions, 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek. Yet here in Canada, Rogers has the ability to place bandwidth caps on the Internet, remove features that compete with their services from mobile phones, and create very expensive data plans.

Are we going to continue paying an arm and a leg in order to receive a mediocre service? Digg this.

Ignore my insight, eh?

Last year, as a final project for my marketing class, we were supposed to come up with a product and create a full marketing plan for it.

One of the ideas that I had come up with was a roll-up LCD screen, to be attached or linked with a mobile device (Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone) and used in tandem with a roll up keyboard to increase productivity without a laptop while on the road. I have it written down right here, on a piece of paper I scribbled a bunch of ideas on. Don’t believe me?

"Roll up LCD screen"

Practically all of my ideas were ignored or brushed off as foolish and unrealistic. Well, it isn’t as unrealistic as one might think. Why? Because of this. Sony has created a flexible LCD screen that also uses less energy than a traditional LCD screen. It can be rolled up and still be in perfect condition.

Score one for the dreamers!

Will Google Android fade into mediocrity?

Earlier today, it was announced that Google Android would be going completely open source. A move that will hopefully shake the very foundation of mobile phones world wide… maybe?

Taking a look at Google’s track record, they’ve created top notch products which make life on the web much easier. Unfortunately, none of these fantastic products ever gained enough market share to become the household name that Google achieved with their search engine. Let’s take a look at some of their products which made a huge splash but fizzled off into mediocrity:

Gmail

Gmail first burst onto the scene on April 1, 2004 as an invitation-only online e-mail service which competed with the likes of Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. Users raved about Gmail’s speed, ease of use, and large storage space. Gmail opened up to the public on February 7, 2007 and continues to increase the storage space offered to users, currently up to 7254MB as of this writing.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar opened up to the public on April 13, 2006 as a web-based calendar and contact manager. It’s everything that a calendar should be: lightweight, flexible, easy to use, and accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. It synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook, which personally allows me to have my calendar on my Samsung Jack (Using Windows Mobile 6.1), my desktop PC with Windows XP, and Google Calendar.

Google Talk

Google Talk was released on August 24, 2005 as a Windows and web-based instant messaging application. Like the above two applications, it is lightweight, easy to use, and accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.

What do all three of these Google products have in common? They’ve never left “beta” status. What does this mean? Google can essentially make enormous changes or large errors without being at fault. Will Google Android become another “perpetual beta product”?

I sure hope not.

But Google is doing something completely different with Google Android, which may create an entirely different animal. Here’s the short list of approaches that Google is using that may lead to success with Android:

  1. Fully Open Source – Releasing the source code of Android allows everyone to see what makes it tick. This can result in fully customized versions of Android being released by users (a la Linux), and security issues and bugs to be solved by Google developers and community alike.
  2. Third Party Developers – Apple made a great move by selectively allowing third parties to develop applications for the App Store, Google made an even better move by allowing any third party to develop applications for its own App Store.

Will Google Android fade into mediocrity, or will this be the first product since it’s ubiquitous search engine to become a mainstream product?

Only time will tell.

Mobile Devices – Smaller is better?

Introducing the iKIT – a new product by IMOVIO that is being called a ‘sub-subnotebook’ which makes subnotebooks look enormous in comparison. This little device is 95mm x 65mm x 15.5mm, which is tiny even compared to my Samsung Jack’s 110m x 57mm x 15mm frame, especially considering it has a clamshell design.

Which brings me to the main point: is smaller really better? I’ve never been one to claim that size does matter, but as devices and electronics shrink, are you – the user – in for a better experience?

Take for example, my Samsung Jack. It’s a rather small device that is very thin and has a full QWERTY keyboard which is fantastic for sending SMS messages. Unfortunately, my thumbs are rather stubby, which results in sending more typos than I care to admit.

Another example is the iPhone, which did away with the tactile keyboard entirely and utilizes an on-screen keyboard input which I have not had the best of experiences with. I have to use my pinky – the thinnest finger I have – to enter any sort of word properly.

And now we have the iKIT, which appears to have much bigger keys than my Samsung Jack, and a tactile keyboard which won’t give me the same problems as the iPhone, seemingly solving my problems with such devices.

But you have to wonder – is this the direction the mobile device market is headed? Does the consumer experience increase as the size of the device decreases? Are those of us with stubby fingers forever cursed to send typos?

Let me know, I’d love to know.

Finally, legal online streaming – Thank you CTV!

For months and months, I have heard about those wonderful services in the United States that allow you to watch television shows online for free – legally. Sites such as Fancast, FOX on Demand, and Hulu, that restrict their viewers to the United States, leaving those of us residing in Canada in the dark.

Well it is time to rejoice fellow Canucks! We finally have a service that streams television shows online – legally – and for Canadians! I present you: The CTV Video Player.

I recently discovered it while searching for a site that would play the most recent episode of Fringe. Sure, they interrupt the show to play commercials, but they are fairly negligible as they are usually less than 10-15 seconds each. The only problem is that if you’re playing them in full screen, it will take away the full screen mode to play the advertisement, forcing you to go into full screen again.

But who am I to complain? CTV gets online ad revenue, a greater online presence, and I get a way to watch shows I love!

Here is the complete list of shows the CTV Video Player hosts:

1. Canadian Idol 2008
2. Comedy Now!
3. Corner Gas
4. Degrassi: TNG
5. Desperate Housewives
6. ER
7. etalk
8. Flashpoint
9. Fringe
10. Gossip Girl
11. Greek
12. Instant Star
13. Grey’s Anatomy
14. Live The Drama
15. Mad Men
16. Private Practice
17. Robson Arms
18. So You Think You Can Dance Canada
19. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
20. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
21. Two and a Half Men
22. Canada’s Walk of Fame
23. Whistler
24. TMZ

Pretty nifty, eh? Check them out here.