Mac

Bits about software development, and about some other forms of art too...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Jag är från Barcelona

Well, I am not really. But from now on, I mean from the moment the swedish band called "I'm from Barcelona" was born, this has become the "Civis romanus sum" of all party goers. And boy, do they know how to party ! They heated up Paris yesterday, and here is the only song we (the audience) could have a bit of a rest on :

Take easy lyrics, easy melodies, a lot of energy, a bunch of balloons, large amounts of confetti, a bit of water for the outside and a lot of beer for the inside. Shake it a lot. I mean a helluva lot ! And there you have a recipe for a long lasting joy ! A must have experience if they happen to come to your area.

Heja Tre Kronor ! Visca el Barça ! (Och tack till Henke).

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Rat-ification

I really had a good laugh at the movies the other day when they showed a teaser for Ratatouille, the next Disney/Pixar movie.

Art de vivre, humour : just (part of) what I love about Paris.

What ? Mmmh. OK, maybe not humour... But still :

It's so easy to find good food in Paris !

And then I smelled a rat : what kind of publicity is this ? Do they try to suggest that there are rodents in our kitchens ? So let me get this straight : we do NOT have rats in our restaurants.

What we have instead are cute little mice. We of course have bigger ones too, but they are actually located outside Paris. And if you are looking for the big thing, then check a big city out. Give the capital of the world a try :

Rats : observations on the history and habitat of the city's most unwanted inhabitantsThis was the only place in the world this could take place. I am not talking about the rats, but about the fuss around them : breaking news, live reports, international coverage... Just (part of) what I love about New York City.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Malia is back !

And so is André Manoukian. He composed her first album five years ago, which is really a must have : a wonderful blend of jazz and soul served by a amazing voice. I had the chance to see her in concert in Paris at the time, and was blown away (it seems I was not the only one).

Young BonesBut then her second opus, barely two years later, was a failure, both artistically and commercially. The voice was still there, but the magic had gone. According to her official website (I am to blame for the translation) :

« Au moment de l’enregistrer, nous étions encore dans l’énergie rock des concerts et moi et André avions envie de la même chose sur ce disque. » se souvient l’intéressée. « Je crois avoir joué " petit bras " » reconnaît André pour sa part. « Nous aurions dû partir en Louisiane et enregistrer avec des musiciens du cru pour donner une vraie touche bluesy. Au lieu de quoi j’ai voulu faire un compromis, et on s’est planté. »

« When the time came to record it, we were still feeling the rock energy of the concerts and I and André wanted it on the album. » she remembers. « I think I saw it too small » admits André. « We should have left for Louisiana and record with local musicians to get a real bluesy touch. Instead of what I have compromised, and we failed. »

That must not be an easy admission for an artist. But they say they have learned from their mistakes.

Now the pair is back, and you can have a taste of their next album, "Young Bones", on MySpace. And God, is this promising ! It is to be released on the 16th april, and I can't wait listen to it. And maybe I will be lucky enough to hear her sing live again. Maybe a cover of "Moon River" ?

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

HowTo : Scrobble from your Creative device on Windows XP

I started to scrobble yesterday. There are some interesting feelings attached to it ;-)

Allright. For those who are as ignorant as I was two days ago, let Last.fm explain :

Scrobbling a song means that when you listen to it, the name of the song is sent to Last.fm and added to your music profile.

So I thought I would really enjoy scrobbling. The bad news is : my MP3 player is a Creative. And as far as I am concerned, there is a general rule about Creative devices : the hardware is usually quite alright, the firmware is somewhat average and the software environment (OS integration, standard media players integration) is poor at the best. And who needs yet another custom media player like the Creative Media Source, with its poor user interface and its only remarkable feature, being that it natively supports Creative devices ?

I don't. But then, I really wanted to be able to listen to FM radio on my MP3 player, so an iPod was not an option (or that is what I thought at the time). So here I am today, stuck with my unscrobbable Creative device. Only Winamp today is able to read my songs directly from the device thanks to a plugin. But thanks to Jurel, I was able to cook up a recipe that will allow the most willing of you to achive your dreams.

Ok, so here are the required piece of software :

  1. You need a Winamp.
  2. If your device is a playsforsure (my Zen Micro Photo is), you should be alright with the default plugins. If not, try the plugin attached to this post. The thing is : make sure to be able to access your portable device from Winamp.
  3. Now you need iTunes.
  4. Then install the Last.fm software with (at least) the bundled iTunes plugin.

That is all (!). Now you can start scrobbling :

  1. Start the Last.fm software, and enable scrobbling.
  2. Start Winamp, and create a playlist for the songs you want to listen to. Save this playlist as a file (*.m3u) somewhere on your hard drive.
  3. Open the playlist file with iTunes (do NOT close Winamp !). There you can listen to your files : iTunes will read them through the Winamp plugin, and the scrobbler will detect the songs played by iTunes ! There are a few annoying things to note though. First of all, it seems that iTunes loses the natural order of the playlist, and some of the information on the tracks are lost (like the artist name) until you play them once. And the playlist files do not seem to handle Unicode characters very well (I happen to listen to some non-english music...).

And no, I do not speak spanish ;-)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

(Belief in) God exists !

It seems that the trend in modern science is no longer to try to prove whether God exists or not, but to try to explain why belief in God exists. At least this last quest should lead us somewhere...

I have had the chance to come across this rather long and instructive article about this debate (also available here). Not only did I learn a new word (though "spandrel" might be quite difficult to use in an every day conversation, I must admit...), but it gave me matter for a lot of thoughts on the subject that had been initiated by my recent reading of "The Selfish Gene" (Richard Dawkins), which I strongly recommend by the way.

So, to have it brief, evolutionists have taken this matter with high interest, and now

the debate over why belief evolved is between byproduct theorists and adaptationists.

Nothing like a good controversy to spice up things ! I am enjoining you to read the rest of it, as I could not easily summarize the subject. And if you think that science is not compatible with belief, especially on the matters of God, you might be surprised :

At first blush, Barrett's faith might seem confusing. How does his view of God as a byproduct of our mental architecture coexist with his Christianity? Why doesn't the byproduct theory turn him into a skeptic?

"Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people," Barrett wrote in his e-mail message. "Why wouldn't God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?" Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them, he wrote. "Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me - should I then stop believing that she does?"

I just love this last sentence. It reminds me of the proclaimed life long quest of Hubert Reeves

While meditating on the glory of a sunset over the ocean it came to him that its astonishing beauty could be explained in “excellent mathematical representation of light’s behaviour.” (...) The equations themselves were “superb, mathematically elegant, and functional,“ but Reeves feared that his ability to reduce the play of light and colour to a result “perfectly predictable and calculable” from the right set of numbers might forever limit his instinctive response to the natural world. From that time onwards he set out “to reclaim the right to enjoy in peace the sight of pink waves”

And as for me, if you ever wondered, I am more versed into Fictionology, the only religion that cannot possibly starve my need for poetry ;-)

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