links for 2009-06-30

  • (tags: train sound noise)
  • If you want to get an idea of just how fast technology moves, a brilliant piece from the BBC should help light the way. The setup is simple enough: 13-year-old Scott Campbell is given a Walkman and told by his dad that it was "the iPod of his day" — and that's when the fun begins. Having never used or even seen the device, the young man proceeds to experience the kind of equilibrium-destroying confusion which we can only imagine the elderly first felt when using attempting to set a VCR timer (you do remember what VCRs are, right?). We've collected a few the choicest bits from the teen's observations, but we highly suggest you read the full article… you won't be sorry. Our favorite picks (direct quotes):

    * When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.
    * It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that

  • I’m developing some tools on another website—partially to help me keep track of information in a more effective manner—and I started messing around with Google Trends.

    I was punching in various queries, just to have a fiddle around.

    Then the phone rang. Becky answered it.

    I typed in ringing phone. Then ringing bell. Then ringing ears. I have no idea what I was looking for, but look at this chart for ringing ears:

    Is that weird?

    Most of these charts look like a noise floor, with occasional news driven spikes. I looked at tinnitus, the clinical term for “ringing in the ears” and when I combined the chart from that with the one above, there’s a general correlation, as one would expect. (CSV datasets from all of these queries may be downloaded if you want to perform actual correlation calculations instead of just eyeballing it with the boneheaded charts Google is using.)

    Next, I tried one with obvious seasonal correlates: gardening. That chart looks exactly as one would e

links for 2009-06-29

  • # The noise, noise, noise, noise. New York has nothing on China’s decibels. It is so loud here (the car horns, bus horns, motorbike horns, the yelling, the screeching brakes, the fireworks, the people screaming into their cell phones, the megaphones hawking deals outside of stores, the construction) that I will probably never have a problem with the noise in New York.
  • (tags: kitchen howto)
  • For those who love Indian food, but don't know how to go about making some, this is more of a starting guide. The effort is to make a comprehensive list of various items that the Indian kitchen cannot do without. However, there will always be other material required which may not be on this list. Locate a good Indian grocery store, in and around your area. You can either Google for it, or just ask your Indian friend, he/she will surely know of one. Then start stocking up!!!!

links for 2009-06-28

  • It was a weekday morning like any other only I was a bit grumpy. I was riding (standing) on the subway on my way to work and listening to my IPod which was in my right jacket pocket. The train stopped at 14th street and a lot of people got out. I felt someone bump into me, which is not unusual when people are getting off the train and then a tug on my earphones. It seems a lady had bumped into me and when she did had somehow pulled the cord to the IPod and the IPod itself out of my pocket. Before I knew what was happening the IPod had pulled free of the cord, fallen and disappeared down between the subway car and the platform. The lady briefly looked back at me, drowsily mumbled ‘Sorry’ and didn’t hesitate for a moment to continuing droning her way to work. I didn’t know exactly how to feel. I was mostly in shock and as there was absolutely nothing I could do to even fish for the IPod, I continued on until we stopped at 33rd street - the final destination of the PATH train I take to wo
    (tags: ipod subway mta nyc)
  • During that trip to London and the many dozens of trips I have made since, I have noted how polite a British person can be, even in the most savage of situations. Consider the following:

    * If someone is standing in line — or as they put it in England, in the queue - that person would never try to get ahead of anyone else. Butting in is tantamount to an unwritten misdemeanor on the other side of the Pond. Everyone waits his or her turn no matter how long that person has to stand there.

    * Looking at someone with whom you are speaking should be different from staring. It is polite to gaze at another person during conversation, but looking too long is considered repugnant by a proper British subject.

    * Forget eavesdropping. Even if the pastime is possible (unusual since most British people speak in hushed tones in public), listening in on other people's private conversations is considered terribly gauche in England.

  • So while I’m teaching he’s watching the tracks and when he sees the special train’s approach, he jumps out of his seat, points and screams and yells excitedly the model number and other esoteric knowledge about the train. The other students laugh but good natured. I know I’m supposed to get the class back on topic: English, but I want to see and learn about the train as well so I’m listening right long with everyone else (though comprehending decidedly much less than everyone else.) Tecchan (Train Freaks) are not rare here. Like those Otaku that hang out in Akihabara, they (we) exist in numbers. Everybody knows at least one, and probably has one in their family.
  • When the MTA first approved a deal for cell phone service in September of 2007, it said six Manhattan stations would be wired within two years. But now with that deadline just a few months away, not only are none of those stations wired, installation work has not even begun. That's because the MTA never gave the contractor the official go-ahead, or Notice To Proceed.
  • Like everyone else living in New York City, I had an iPod. You need an iPod if you are going to live in New York City. Subways, sirens, honking horns from cabs—drown them out with your own portable music collection. Unlike most living in New York though, I had a car—actually, a BMW. Most days my 325i sedan would sit silently in the parking garage on 1st Avenue. Every other weekend however, I got to spend some alone time with my E46 when I would drive back to Boston to see friends and family. The eight-plus hours in the car were often maddening as I’d drive in and out the radio reception zones. I was once so annoyed that I printed out a list of all radio stations in Connecticut so I could find something decent to listen to while stuck in the middle of nowhere on the Merritt Parkway.
  • When I was taking the subway to work, I was really horrified to hear groups of Arab and Muslim boys and girls, day after day, calling each other the “n” word. I see many prosperous Arab businesses in Brooklyn and am not sure where these feelings of oppression are coming from. Park Slope, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, are filled with Arab businesses. Several of my doctors are Arab American and their practices seem to be thriving. So why the discontent?
  • By Ray Rivera
    Loud ipods on the subway.Ángel Franco/The New York Times

    My wife and I were on a crowded 1 train last year when a young red-haired woman turned to the woman seated next to her, who was playing her iPod way too loud.
    Complaint Box

    Send your screeds, tirades and rants — no more than 500 words, please — to:

    “Hey, mind if I listen?” the redhead said, and without waiting for a response, plucked the woman’s left earbud, placed it in her own ear, and began bobbing her head to the music. The iPod owner looked mortified. The car grew silent save for the blare. I looked at my wife, who had heard me rant about this so many times, she knew exactly what I was thinking: At last, someone was taking a stand.

    Of all the daily discourtesies we endure as city dwellers, none to me is more irksome than headphone leak. You know, that treble-drenched drone emanating from iPods halfway down the subway car. What puzzles me is why people do not complain more of

links for 2009-06-26

links for 2009-06-25

  • Frequently Asked Questions about SoundTransit:

    1) What is SoundTransit?
    2) What is Phonography?
    3) How do I book a SoundTransit?
    4) How do I find specific sounds on SoundTransit?
    5) How do I submit sounds to SoundTransit?
    6) What is the background of SoundTransit?
    7) Who made SoundTransit?

    1) What is SoundTransit?

    SoundTransit is a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording and phonography. On this site, you can plan a sonic journey through various locations recorded around the world, or you can search the database for specific sounds by different artists from certain places. If you are a phonographer, you can also contribute your recordings for others to enjoy. The Creative Commons Attribution license encourages the sharing and reuse of all sounds on this website.

    2) What is Phonography?

    Phonography is the art of recording sounds from the environment around us, with an emphasis on the unintentional sounds which often go unnoticed in our daily lives. An internati

  • Mechanical steady noise in a corridor at a tube station in Barcelona (binaural rec, recorded w/ soundman okm ii + hi-md sony mz-rh10)
  • People are also more rude today, said P.M. Forni, a Johns Hopkins University professor and author of two books on civility. Established forms of deference and respect, including giving up seats, have declined. That’s especially true in anonymous environments, such as the subway, he said. “In generations gone by, we had a strong incentive to behave in public in ways to conform to social norms,” he said. “If we didn’t, there was shame.”
    (tags: subway ethics)
  • It is still odd to me to hear piped-in Beethoven violin and piano sonatas in the Port Authority. I find myself looking for speakers so that I can actually listen, but then I feel weird. And then I bother myself thinking about who might be playing. Live musicians in the T stations in Cambridge make everything more straightforward, though Michael and I seemed to be the only people listening to the young woman with a guitar and a speaker that had additional tracks of her voice singing "Country Roads," while we were waiting for the Red Line to take us back to Harvard Square after eating fantastic (vegan, on my part) Cambodian lunch with T. and her husband, Mr. T.
  • While audiobooks are a wonderful format for listening to a work, they are not an example of reading. It's like saying that listening to a musical piece on your i-pod is equivalent to playing an instrument. It's just not.
  • Play Me I’m Yours is an interactive art installation by artist Luke Jerram. I have always found it odd that the “classical” music world wants to supposedly reach out to the general public, yet their attempts are usually confined to school groups or “special” outreach concerts. You are either in those locations deemed worthy by the institutions or you are out of luck, kid. Check out this photo someone posted to the Play Me I’m Yours website. That’s exactly the way I like to think about music, especially “classical” music: it’s just another part of life, like walking on the sidewalk, or eating lunch.
  • When Sony introduced the Walkman 30 years ago, on July 1, 1979, it was, in a sense, already obsolete: Both Sony and Philips were already well on their way to developing the compact discs that would make trying to surgically repair the distended guts of your favorite REO Speedwagon cassette with a paper clip mere fodder for misplaced nostalgia. Plus, a tape recorder that didn't record? How was that progress, except for the companies selling tape recorders that did record and record labels selling pre-recorded cassettes?

    As NYU management professor William H. Starbuck recounted in the International Journal of Technology Management in 1996, even many Sony executives were dubious about the device's commercial potential. It cost more to produce than its target market-teenagers—was likely to spend. While Sony chairman Akio Morito championed the Walkman and ordered an initial run of 60,000 units, managers in the tape recording division, fearing the company would lose money on every sale, sec

    (tags: walkman)
  • (tags: subway ethics)

links for 2009-06-24

  • Spoken clearly, the sounds “dah” and “bah” are easy to distinguish. Yet if you play a film clip in which the soundtrack says “dah” while the image on the screen shows a mouth saying “bah,” people will swear they heard “bah.”
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    Serge Bloch

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    If you ask people to count the number of times that a light flashes, and you flash the light seven times together with a sequence of eight beeping tones, people will say the light flashed eight times.

    When confronted with conflicting pieces of information, the brain decides which sense to trust. In the first scenario, those clearly percussing lips could never be articulating a “d,” and so vision claimed the upper hand. But on matters that demand a temporal analysis, and making sense of similar sounds in a sequence, the brain reflexively counts on hea

links for 2009-06-23

links for 2009-06-22

links for 2009-06-19

links for 2009-06-13