Archive for September 15th, 2006

Earphones, earbuds, both suck

I am one of these people who can’t wear earphones, they fall off the ear extremely easily. They just don’t fit in my ear. It is a mystery to me how people can use those and go jogging without falling off their ears all the time. I know I am not the only one with this problem, I have read about many others too.

So I decided to buy some good earbuds from Panasonic instead. Earbuds are more secure in my ear than earphones, but they are uncomfortable in terms of pushing sound forcibly inside the ear and they fall off too quite easily (just not as easily). Moreover, the specific Panasonic model does not have sound isolation so when the actual earbud cable happens to move against another surface, or even when you move your head around and the cable touches your hair, you hear that “gritch gritch” sound inside your ears. Yuck!

Then, there is the other kind: over-the-ear headphones (I got these from Sony and many others too of that style). The problem with these is that they make the upper part of your ear hurt after about 15-20 minutes because that’s the part of your head that supports the weight of the headphones.

And then there are the over-the-head headphones, which is the classic style. In terms of comfortability they are the best and they are big enough so they can offer better sound quality for less money. Problem with these is that they are too big to go to places with them. Plus, you would look like a dork from the ’80s if you go out with them. Anyways, I am seriously getting this model if worse comes to worst.

Result: We need to buy a house and use our big speakers and our HiFi system to listen to music. We have some huge speakers here that we have never used on their full potential just because we live in an appartment. Sometimes I do wish we were living in Greece, preferably in the mountains…

One more post on Madonna

I have been a fan of Madonna since I was 12 years old, around the time of “Like a Virgin” which was the first song that made her known in Greece in early 1985. I remember watching her on the ERT-1 “Mousikorama” TV show for the first time on a Friday night and I was still talking about it all day at school on Monday…

Back then Madonna was getting lots of sh*t, way more than what she gets now. Many conservatives (e.g. my father for starters) despised her and were saying that she’s just a shooting star and that soon no one would remember her name because she is not a real artist. Madonna back then was attacked by the media regarding her artistic abilities the same way (truly untalented) boy bands are attacked today. Madonna has made it through though even after truly questionable business choices like her “SEX” book in 1992. She has proved to be the real queen of pop and re-invent herself to “fit” in each music era.

Especially her recent albums, after her spiritual re-awaking through Kabbalah and the birth of her first child, are extremely artistic and some of the songs are pure gold. Personally, I divide Madonna’s career in three phases:
1977-1985: The “old” Madonna, up to the “Like a Virgin” tour. The dance-pop icon that teenage girls loved.
1986-1997: “True Blue” up to “Evita”: the arrogant but always professional Madonna lives to shock.
1998-now: “Evita/Ray of Light” up to now: new religion, two kids & a good marriage, more mature.

Today I stumbled upon a great video of hers on youtube from a live TV show in 2003. She plays the guitar & sings and looks nothing the Madonna most people know of. Even if she is not the greatest singer in the world, she is way better than some pop-idols that can’t even read english, let alone music notes. Madonna can play the piano, drums and guitar — all mediocre, but good-enough to get her through on what she needs to do. Have a look at the video, it’s really amazing.

And one last thing, regarding Madonna’s most unappreciated song, “Sky Fits Heaven“. Amazing song and melody, too bad it was never released as a single so relatively few people know about it. Click on the link above to listen a 30 second sample of it on iTunes. That song was recorded around the time that Madonna had to endure vocal training (it was part of her contract for the Evita movie) and so her singing abilities on that whole “Ray of Light” album is a notch above than any other of her albums. Even on her subsequent albums she can’t sing as high, because as you know, vocal chords are muscles and if you don’t do vocal training all the time, you lose the ability. She still trains her other muscles though… ;-)

“…Isn’t everyone just
Traveling down their own road
Watching the signs as they go
I think I’ll follow my heart
It’s a very good place to start…”

If something happens to her before her time (e.g. Soyuz blows up on her way to the Space Station in 2009 ;-) ) and her record label decides to release a new single, tribute to her, I am sure “Sky Fits Heaven” would be the perfect song for that job, not because it is “very listenable” but also because the lyrics are very representative of her life. Not that I want anything bad to happen to her, mind you, I hope she has a long and happy life. I am just thinking too much of Elvis and Freddy Mercury here, in terms of legendary figures in the world music scene that unfortunately died too early…

Blogsome and Google

For months now I have been trying to get Nathan’s blog higher on Google’s ranks, but it keeps being at the bottom of the list (14th page out of 17). I have tried the best practices regarding ranking but now I see that my own blog has been dragged down in the ranks too, even if it originally was ranking high (and even if now I have many more hits than in the past). Searching for my name is very popular on Google ranks and my old Slashdot blog was ranking high, but now, no cake. I assure you I have taken the right steps code-wise and link-wise, but Google keeps snobbing our blogs. Same goes for Thom’s blog too. Google will offer search results on third party pages that link to our blogs, or even link our old blogs, or even link our MOBILE blogs (which are hosted outside of Blogsome) that they don’t get not even 10 hits per day, but the actual link to our current blogs is much lower in the rank.

There is only one explanation for this: Google has moved all Blogsome subdomains down the drain for some reason. I don’t know if this is on purpose in order to promote their Blogspot or if it’s just a bug on their ranking algorithm. I have filed a bug report on the problem months ago (through a friend of mine Google engineer, as there is no public bugzilla), but nothing has been fixed… It starts to get annoying because Google is supposed to be accurate. Robots.txt on Blogsome seems to be correct anyway.

Apple iTunes 7 Draws Complaints

Problems posted on Apple discussion forums include sound distortion, songs skipping, 3-second delays in playing tunes, and lost tracks. The company hasn’t yet responded to or commented on these issues.”

Well, let me add some of my own:
1. VGA video in previews drops frames. Quicktime is able to playback the same videos just fine, but inside iTunes the preview functionality now is terrible. I don’t remember it being that bad before inside iTunes.
2. Occasionally, a 30 second video preview would just stop playing back in a random spot (the page refreshes all by itself going back to the non-previewed state even if the video hasn’t finished playing back).
3. Some videos don’t have previews, even if there is a “preview” button (e.g. the two live Madonna video clips)
4. If you go to R&B/Sould/Beyonce/MusicVideos/A-Video and then you click the “music videos” tab, it gets you back to the front page of the store instead of the requested page. This happens for ALL artists.
5. On my “Movies” library it shows a bunch of Quicktime files that don’t exist on my hard drive anymore. How do you clean these up all at once? I never used iTunes to put these files there in the first place, iTunes decided to add them in its library all by itself, but now it won’t refresh itself.
6. Apparently, the new version uses a lot more RAM. And requires even more CPU power. It almost brings my 3 GHz P4 to its knees, depending on the function.
7. EACH time I click the “close” button on the iTunes main window, iTunes crashes. This was not happening with the older version.