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Thursday, 30 August 2018

Play Music, or Spotify?

There is a thing I like so much in Google Play Music, and it's the simple beauty of its minimalistic interface. Really much more appealing, to my eyes, in respect (just do say) to the look of Spotify. Nothing to say, Google is still the best, when dealing with style.

Notwithstanding, I find that Play Music do suffer of several limitation, in comparison with a service like Spotify. I'm not talking about the dimension of its musical archive (all these service do have huge archives nowadays), but of some annoying limitation that you can experience when you use it on a daily basis.

Play Music live in your browser, as almost all for Google...


First of all, you cannot sort your collection in any way. In other words, there is no way to alter the default order, in which all your album area listed alphabetically. Spotify (and I guess, many others) give you the freedom to order your collection in a number of different ways: for example, I find very useful to inspect my collection ordering it by the most recents additions, since  it's a simply way to understand what happened recently to your albums, and to recall you something about your more recent tastes.


On Play Music, whenever you add an album, it disappears instantly inside your (huge) collection, so you have to search it patiently among a lot of albums. That's annoying, for sure. Oh, and I have told you something about searching, by the way? Why on Google it's not possible to delimitate a given search inside your collection? Sometimes, you do not have time to browse the whole musical achievements of the humankind, you simply want to recover that specific album from your collection.

Spotify interface. Why only black?

Turns out, doing it on Play Music it's not as simple as you may guess. Yes, on Spotify you can make a search inside your library, neglecting all the rest of the (musical) word. Exactly as you should do with your (ancient, outdated) collection of CDs, or (more recently) with your collection of mp3 files.

That's why the beauty of the interface, all considered, it's not enough for the adoption of one service over the other. That's why, exactly. 

So I'm using Spotify right now. But I can't help but looking to the page of Play Music, from time to time. How simply beautiful it may appear!

Beauty is not all, in this word.




Sunday, 19 August 2018

Oh you beautiful thing

There is a certain beauty on listening the music in Spotify, for sure. One thing, is that you can discover new music, anytime. Music that you did not programmed to listen to, that you did not even expect it exists... There is far more music around, that you can hope to listen to, in all of your life! 

Here it comes Spotify (or an equivalent streaming service). And here it comes the difference between the old way to listen to music (insterting a CD into the player) and the new way (connecting to a streaming service). The last method allow you to be exposed to the unexpected. 

Yes, the unexpected. Since you are downloading a flux of information from an external service, potentially unlimited, and not playing a compact disk, a support with a well defined amount of information, hardcoded on the disk, once for all.

Coming back to my little story: when the streaming of an album of Nick Kershaw was finished (an album that I already knew very well), the system began automatically to select "similar songs" to the ones contained in the album, just before I became aware it was actually finished and that I had to think about what to listen to, now. 

So Spotify played me this song. 





I was surprised. More than surprised. What a beautiful song! And as you can expect, this led me to explore the whole album. An exploration that revealed a lot of other very interesting songs, which I would had never listened, if not casually exposed to this song.

Not all what is modern is bad, after all. Thanks to Spotify, and thanks to Nik for this gorgeous album. Now, what can I expect, next time? From what I will be surprised? Only time will tell... 

Note. This post is also a test, should I return to post on Blogspot? Well, only readers will tell... ;-) 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Open source, and open science

As scientist, the least thing I expected, when yesterday I listened to the very interesting Linus Torvalds speech at TED, was a discussion on the way science and its results are diffused. I was pleased to hear Linus mentioning arXiv, the famous science archive of paper.
ArXiv_web.svg.pngArXiv is entirely opened, you can browse and download articles without any restriction (you don’t even have to login). It’s updated daily and it’s articulated in various disciplines. As a whole, it’s a very pragmatic way to show the benefit of free idea circulation within science.
At the moment writing, arXiv contains 1,178,149 articles. Not bad.
I do admit I did not expect Linus was aware of its existence, being into a rather different ecosystem.


Well, now I understand that there are deep links between the open source paradigm and a certain way to think about science and about the spreading of its methodologies and its results.
Something which has a deep connection with a very simple word, open. A simple word that it can disclose a whole world.

Something Linus addressed very well, in just a few words.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Jennifer, where are you?

You know, sometimes it’s so hard to choose just one song, one that you truly adore over all the others, since everybody has plenty of wonderful songs inside, that are ready to be loaded in memory when the situation do require it…
Songs are, sometimes, such incredible concentrations of beauty, all packed in a easy-to-deal-with form, that it’s difficult for me to think of a more easy way to reconnect with beauty, different from reloading a song on my mind.

Here I want to come back to an old songs by Eurythmics, JenniferIt’s a song that – after all these years (it dates back to 1983) – still fascinates me for the interplay of the voice of Annie Lennox (so sweet!) and the rich and complex electronic tapestry – almost hypnotical in a certain way.
Oh, and it features a precious sense of wonder, in its lyrics. Truly a gorgeous piece.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Pens and Pencils, tales from a distant age…

Ages. I do not use pens and pencils from ages. And it’s quite clear from what happens when I am stil forced to use them: I simply write something which cannot be understood!
That’s the fact. I’m worrying that I am simply loosing the ability to write by hand. Yes, I can try to write, but the result is discouraging: I usually produce something that nobody can read. Include myself, of course. Definitively, the modern age brings new abilities and skills, but sometimes it also looses something. Being not able to write by hand is not a good thing.
We are loosing the ability of doing it by hand...  

Nowadays, the occasions to adopt pens and pencils – for me – are really rare. Consider the simple action of taking notes. I use my iPad with Evernote (or something similar), and it works wonderfully. I can take notes and easily move them to my iMac, for further elaborations.
From some years, I maintain a digital diary with the (wonderful) Day One app. Recently, I’ve also started to experiment with Journal, to satisfy my (periodically awaking) Android side.
I cannot even remember the last time I wrote something substantive with a pen, apart from some unfortunate occasions where I had to take notes and I was without one of my tablets (iPad 2 or Nexus 7).
I agree that physical agendas can be truly beautiful. They have something attractive which definitively can’t be reproduced by any electronic device, no matter the software that you can load onboard. They speak about ancient ages, where you could touch the paper, evaluating its consistency, appreciate its color. Feel the subtle noise of turning page. This is something we are loosing, something that it’s going to disappear.
The most annoying thing of a written manuscript, it’s that it can’t easily be processed. This is the first reason, for me, for following the digital ruote.  That’s the most important reason why I do believe that it’s impossible to return to a pre-keyboard era.
And yes, I’m losing the ability to write with a pen.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Are you (still) reading on paper?

I was just a little surprised when I red the title of this article on Washington PostWhy digital native prefer reading in print… Well, I am not a “digital native” in any way (my age will prevent me to think that), so you may understand that I’m rather used to printed papers. As a matter of fact, I remember ages in which printed papers was the only way, since there was absolutely no alternatives.
With all of that, I admit that I got used to digital books quite fast. For me, their advantages are by far more intriguing in respect to their shortcomings. So that now I’m a bit annoyed when I do not find the electronic version of a text I want to read.
Is reading in print really better?

Not that I do not understand the reasons explained in the article. Online distraction, for example, is a serious issue. Reading on a computer screen, or reading on a tablet it’s the same: just to put it down simply, you can do too much things. That’s fine, when you play games. That’s not so fine, when you want to concentrate on a difficult book. In the meddle of a difficult page you’re working on, you suddendly remember that you did not check your Facebook status in the last ten minutes! Well, let me see if any notification is waiting, after all it may be important. Oh, in passing, any new email? And what about Twitter replies?
That’s hardly deniable. It’s part of our world, nowadays.
That’s why I do not like reading from a computer of from a tablet.
Anyway, I feel that there is another option, which is not clearly covered in the article. Yes, the article generally talk about “reading from a screen” as simply opposed to “reading from paper”. Actually, there is a third choice: the ebooks devices (Kindle and similar stuff). When coming to serious reading (or studying) an ebook reader has several advantages.
The bigger advantage is that a Kindle cannot show your Facebook timeline. Yes, it can post portions of text you are reading (on Facebook and/or Twitter) but that’s all. It even cannot allow you to check emails, too (until you try to use the experimental browser inside, definitively not a easy route).
That’s very good when you want to seriously concentrate. I definitively need a device that cannot deal about my presence on social network, at least at a certain point of my day. I need something that does not show how many notification I’m missing on Facebook (oh, speaking of it, let me check now…)
A Kindle is a very good alternative to paper, in my opinion. Other considerations can be done: for example, it’s easy to highlight some part of text without any worries, since it’s now a “digital operation” fully reversible. Also, it allows you to carry around hundreds of books, without much effort.
Anyway, there will always be place for printed books (art publications, etc…). But it’s not too difficult to speculate that one day, reading on print could became the exception, not the rule.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Home, soil, rain (it’s cold outside)

Baby it’s cold outside. This words comes into my mind while I’m thinking about the caption of the photo I’ve just taken. I’m walking in the park and the first evidence is that it’s deep winter, all around me.

Things are now what they seems. 
I think about the fact that in some secret places, under the soil, spring is patiently preparing, waiting for the right time to come. There is some secret movements I cannot detect, there are some secret worlds waiting for them to show. 
At the right time. 
Everything comes at the right time. I can’t hurry anything: it’s useless. I just have to wait. Even love can’t be hurried (as the Supremes declared since the glorious sixties…)


This is worth for me to be thought, again and again.
Yes, because my spontaneous  attitude is to hurry, to try to force things to happen: those things I desire, those things I want. Those things I decide I’m in need of. It’s funny, but whenever I do accept this simple law – namely, that I have to wait – in this very moment I can experience a state of tranquillity, I begin entering in a wonderful realm of calm. 
I can relax only if I realise that things keeps happening in my life, even if sometimes I feel as I walked in a deep winter scenario. Even in those moment in which I feel like someone running under heavy rain, striving to be at home.
Changes are preparing, opportunities will spring.  At the right time.
Things do happen: and the more you let it flow, the more they happen. 
So the lesson is simple (which does not means easy, you know): just relax, get rid of this crazy attempt to control everything, and let the world act for you.