Thought Repository


You know what a cool look for this page could be? All, IBM from the 80's. Text mode, white on blue, or something like that. Doogie Howser style. He might not have been the first person to keep a journal on computer, but I think it was probably pretty ahead of its time. I was very young when I saw that, but it sort of feels like that right now, after a long day and all. I really like the feel of typing. It is really comforting. I don't have to think about it, I think about what I'm writting but my hands are moving a mile a minute and the words just show up on the screen. I guess it is like riding a bike or driving a car or anything else we do that is learned, but sometimes that just amazes me. I know how I learned to touch-type. I learned how to do it from a little program on my dad's machine. Pretty simple, nothing as fancy as stuff these days, no graphics or anything. You start out slow, there's not much motivation to keep using the program, it is boring, and it was still slower in everyday use than my current technique of two index finger typing. I had to look, but I knew where all the letters were pretty well, so I could go pretty fast. If you take away the lights, then I can't see the keys. At the time, I did a lot of my programming in QuickBasic for DOS. The editor was just a black background with grey text, not enough light to see the keys by (unlike most Windows with black on white). I would stay up coding late into the night. I'd turn off my lights so my parents wouldn't know I was awake. I couldn't see so I had no choice but to touch type. It was slow but I could find all the letters and eventually I got it. Man, I'm such a nerd.

These feet were made for walking...

I took a walk today, sort of by accident. I was talking to Jim in the stairwell. I hadn't done much today up to that point, and I wasn't wearing shoes yet. A couple people were going to go for a walk and they were waiting for Jim. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go along, because I had some things here I wanted to do. I decided to walk a little ways to finish what I was saying and then turn back. I didn't think a block on the sidewalks without shoes would be a problem. Well, we got across campus, and I was going to turn back but we headed into the park, and a grassy hill is great to be barefoot. After that we started off on an unpaved dirt road through the part. I should have turned back but it was far and it looked like nice scenery for a walk. When we finally came out (and I was very happy to be back on paved road), we ended up in Squirrel Hill. We went a pizza place, I snuck to the table before anyone noticed my feet, and had dinner (someone else went up to get it). Then we went to Rita's Ices, since you don't have to go inside. The girl there noticed and aparently she thought it was pretty cool. "That's awesome" is what I think she said. When she asked if this was together or seperate, I replied, "together, he's paying. I didn't bring a wallet either." For that I got a high five. She wanted me to stick around for her amusement. I felt bad because I wanted to entertain her, or at least talk to her. That's exactly the type of situation I should take advantage of but I'm very shy about my lack of footwear, especially when someone makes a big deal of it. I even feel uncomfortable the first day I wear sandals to class in the spring. Maybe I'll have to go back with shoes and be more sociable. It was quite an experience. After that we walked home, because I didn't have my ID for the bus. Someone had remarked that prehistoric man had to be able to catch game for food while barefoot. My feet definately aren't that tough. Somewhere in the evolution of computer programmers we've seem to have lost that ability. Evolution, some progress, I'd say.


I just started using a new program called RhapsodyI may have never written in my journal about it yet, but I'm a big supporter of paying for music. I download MP3's like everyone else, but I feel bad about it. I've said that if I could pay for each MP3 I download, and would be allowed to get single songs, not just whole albums, I'd do it. Other think, why pay when I can steal it for free. I believe that the law is the law, and I even believe there is a reason for it. Any justification is just that, someone trying to make themselves feel better. You aren't busting into the record store and boosting their wares, but people work pretty hard at ways to tell themselves it isn't like that.
Anyway, I found this program that is better than things I've seen before to allow me to come close to what I want. I'm in a seven day trial, an excellent idea, but after that is up, it's a $9.95/month subscription service. For that you get unlimited access to listen to all the music they have the rights to let you. They don't have nearly everything you'd want but they have a lot and are adding more as they can. The deal is that you can't download it, only listen to with their program. It streams over the internet although some caches locally. For an additional $0.79/track you can burn your own CD, which you could then rip, I suppose, if you really wanted to download MP3's and pay per song.
The way it works is a browing interface that let's you search for artists, albums, or songs. When you find what you want you can add it to a playlist or to your library. Your library is the place you can save access to songs (by title, album, or artist), playlists, and radio stations that you like. Sort of like a favorites list.
At first I wasn't too impressed, since it wasn't what I thought I was looking for. I had to use their program (Windows only) not whatever player I'd want, I had to be on the internet, and I couldn't even have it to listen to when I travel like on an mp3 player in a car or plane. But I played with it a little and now I'm hooked. There are some really greate advantages.
  • Instant access. When I want to listen to a song, I have it right away. I don't have to run some program, search, find it, download, wait for one to get down and see if it is any good. I just find it and click play.
  • No commitment. There's a cost to the effort to find and download mp3's. There's the effort of finding what you are looking for amisted an unorganized listing of all different files, some properly labeled, different quality settings, sources, etc. There's the time to download it and the hard drive space to store it. With Rhapsody, if I like one song, there's no extra effor to listen to the whole CD. Maybe I'll find some more songs that I like. That always bothered me before. I never wanted to buy a whole CD for a single song, because I don't like or want any of the other stuff yet. Yet with MP3's I'll never hear any of it, so my music horizon isn't broadened.
  • Organization. Their catalogue is well organized. Both browsing and the stuff you've saved to your library is sorted by artist, album, and track. All of it is labeled correctly, unlike with mp3's. It is easy to find things and see what else might be on the same album. Even when there is material they don't have the rights to, it is included and greyed out so you at least know why you can't find what you are looking for.
  • Information and related material. There is information about the artists and the albums that can be useful or interesting. They keep lists of the most popular songs by each artist, most popular artists, albums, and tracks. Also, for each artist they show you related artists such as their influences and contemporaries. This really helps you find other things you might like, and playing it is so easy it is for once worth the effort to find out. (As opposed to mp3's where you have to download more, or CD where you have to know someone who has it or pay for stuff).
  • "Radio" stations. They call it radio but it isn't. Besides lack of commercial or DJ's, the music broadcast is specific to you, so while you can't see or adjust the playlist, jump backwards, pause, rewind or fast forward, it does let you skip to the next track. Not only can you listen to their premade stations, but if you type in up to 10 artists, it will make a new "station" just for you that includes those artists that you like plus others it thinks are similar. This is great way to find new music you like, as well as to build a playlist with hours of a type of music you like, without having to go to a lot of work.
Maybe one the reasons I like it so much is because it already worked for me. I discovered punk music. I never really like it before, or maybe just never listened. Someone mentioned Good Charlotte. I'd heard about them, but didn't really know anything about it. Rhapsody made it easy for me to quickly hear them to see what it was all about. If it hadn't been so easy I probably wouldn't have done it, since I didn't expect to like it, but I did. That led be to similar stuff, and now I have a whole punk playlist. I think the thing about punk is that it is all so similar, that unlike other genres where I like some stuff, hate others, even the stuff that isn't my favorite, is all ok, becauses it's all pretty alike.
All in all I'm happy with Rhapsody and I think I'll keep it. Hopefully I'll be able to give my input on it's developement. Here's some things I think would be good. First of all, I want a Linux version. I think they should let you cache some amount of stuff locally for some period of time, like maybe a week. This way you could listen to some, if not your whole library, on a trip without being connected to the internet. The time period would be long enough to use it, but not so long that you'd really get to keep anything if you cancelled your subscription. You'd still need Rhapsody to play it, so it would be as protected as streaming it. Another thing they need is more community. I have to be logged in to use it and I have to run this huge application to listen to my music, so give me something to do. When I'm done browsing music I want chat rooms to talk to people about it. I'd like to be able to leave and read comments along with albums, artists, etc. I want to share playlists and personal radio stations with people. They should have a lyrics search if they could do that. You should be able to narrow down a search by searching within the results on another field. A quick jump search of your playlist like Winamp has. The radio feature seems unneccessarily limited, you should be able to pause, rewind, or jump back tracks. Updates when new music becomes available. I'm excited though, I just might be getting in on the future at the ground floor. Bottom-line, at least go Try it out