The All-The-Songs Edition Thursday, July 14, 2016

Inside The Playlist Factory, by Reggie Ugwu, BuzzFeed

For a while we thought we could choose our own music. Remember that? In the wake of the last century we seized the right to take our pick from all of the songs in the world (All of the songs in the world!) and told anyone who didn’t like it exactly where they could go. And when it turned out that was too many songs after all (how many lifetimes are needed for a complete survey of Memphis soul? Or Brazilian funk?), a new category of music services appeared to ease our burden. But these services were flawed, said someone about to make a lot of money, and could only recommend music based on what we were already listening to. Did they even really know what we wanted? Do we not contain multitudes? And so now we have people like Chery.

Neuroscientists Still Don’t Know Why Music Sounds Good, by Chelsea Leu, Wired

But even with all these differences, neuroscientists have noticed there’s something pretty much everyone agrees on, musically: Some chords sound good—they’re consonant—and other notes grate when they’re played at the same time. Unraveling why that is could explain something basic about how humans perceive the world. Maybe people are just wired that way. Or maybe, as a paper argues today in Nature, it’s a product of human culture.

Apple's Plan To Own The Entire Music Industry, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

Apple's ambition in music continues to be misunderstood. Most of the focus remains on the battle between Apple Music and Spotify for paid music streaming subscribers. However, the much more interesting development relates to Apple's desire to grab music mind share. Apple is aiming to leverage its strong balance sheet to control the music narrative, and in the process, remove all of the oxygen from the music streaming industry.

Summer Travels

Pokémon Go: How To Use It As A Tour Guide, by Justin Sablich, New York Times

I didn’t know my Pikachu from my Pokédex before firing up the app for the first time, but it didn’t take long to see that hunting Pokémon could be an interesting way to tour a city. Here are a few tips on how and where to play the game as a traveler.

Lost At The Louvre? There’s An App For That, by Doreen Carvajal, New York Times

This month the Louvre introduced a geo-locator application for multimedia devices that can instantly calculate a path through the museum from da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” to Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa.”

Wanderlust By Design: Organizing Your Summer Travel, by Kit Eaton, New York Times

Summer gives many people the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and into new adventures. With plenty of apps designed to help plan vacations, smartphones can now act as a sort of personal tour guide.

Facebooking For Everyone

Behind Facebook's Efforts To Make Its Site Accessible To All, by Nicole Lee, Engadget

It all started five years ago when Jeff Wieland, who worked on the company's user research team at the time, discovered that there were people with disabilities who were having a rather terrible experience with Facebook. For example, he found out that screen readers -- software employed by blind users to know what's happening on a page -- would interpret a button on a site as simply, well, "button." It would have no information on what the button does. "This is a really simple example," he said. "For an engineer, adding a label to a button is one line of code. But it changes everything."

The problem, he said, was that developers were not designing the web experience with screen readers in mind. It seems like a "No, duh" explanation, but as Wieland told me, accessibility is not a subject that's often taught in computer science classes. "It's not part of the core curriculum. You have people graduating from great programs, but who have no exposure to accessibility. It's a real tragedy." Indeed, he said that almost all incoming engineers have no prior exposure to the subject.

Beyond Photoshopping

What If Cameras Stopped Telling The Truth?, by Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic

But just because a company can restrict customers’ rights in exchange for a service doesn’t mean it should. When I asked Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, about the idea behind Apple’s patent, she said it reminded her of the way social media companies like Facebook and Twitter set boundaries for their users.

“They as private entities have the right to set the terms of service and the rules of use for their websites and platforms,” Rowland said. “But as more and more of our methods of communication are controlled by private companies, there is a potential loss of civil rights and civil liberties when people lack a constitutional check on the access that the companies provide.”


Best Evernote Alternatives For Mac, by Lory Gil, iMore

If you are looking for an alternative to Evernote, OneNote is your best option thanks to the wide variety of features, cross-platform compatibility, and cloud syncing.

Prisma (For iPhone), by Michael Muchmore, PC Magazine

Using artificial intelligence technology, the app goes beyond merely filtering by letting your photos mimic the work of modernist masters like Van Gogh and Picasso.


For The Record, by Jennifer Aniston, Huffington Post

If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.

Bottom of the Page

Well, I was trying out the various podcast players this past week again — because, well, there are always some little things in each of the podcast players that annoys me. So, I'm always on the lookout.

Some players are not suitable for the way I listen to podcasts, such as, for example, pausing the downloads of new episodes just because I didn't listen to the podcast for a while. Others have little things that surprise (not in a good way) me, such as having the sorting option only applicable to half of the episodes in a playlist. And then, there are bugs. I discovered last week that the podcast player I am using 'lost' the first few minutes of an episode -- I can't go back and listen from the start no matter how hard I tried.

In times like this is when I wish I am living in rms' world, where I can simply take the source code and adapt it for my own taste.


Thanks for reading.