Month: January 2006

City of Daughters tracklist & album art

"City of Daughters" (rear)Last summer I spent a lot of time listening to Destroyer’s City of Daughters. I only had it on vinyl and it lived exclusively on my turntable for the better part of two or three months. I would listen to it on repeat for hours, drinking beer at my tiny kitchen table, soaking in the humidity of a Saturday afternoon in Little Italy.

I refused to listen to it in any other format, because the record had become so personal to me, I needed that tactility of flipping over the record and the intimacy of only listening to it alone in my apartment.

Finally I moved to Cambridge last December, marking the end of that strange, lonely period of my life, and decided I could move on, that the quality of the album demanded that I have it available on my iPod if I needed it on the subway. I was listening to it digitally for the first time, and I was startled when I heard “The Space Race” immediately after “No Cease Fires!” I had been trained through countless listens to know that “The Space Race” begins side B of the album, with that abrupt opening. I thought for sure my iPod was just fucking up again, but when I came home I realized “The Space Race” was actually tagged as track 3.

I wondered how this could have happened, so I looked up tracklists online. As it turns out, both MusicBrainz’ entry and even Merge Records’ own Destroyer catalog list “The Space Race” as track 3. Which means there are two possibilities: either the Merge site was used as a reference for poorly-tagged mp3s, or the CD release actually sports a different track order. My money’s on the former, so re-tag your files and hear it the way it was supposed to be heard.

  1. Comments on the World as Will
  2. No Cease Fires! (Crimes Against the State of Our Love, Baby)
  3. Dark Purposes
  4. Emax I
  5. I Want This Cyclops
  6. Loves of a Gnostic
  7. Emax II
  8. State of the Union
  9. School, and the Girls Who Go There
  10. The Space Race
  11. Melanie and Jennifer and Melanie
  12. War on Jazz II or How I Learned to Love the War on Jazz
  13. Emax III
  14. You Were So Cruel
  15. Signs
  16. Rereading the Marble Faun
  17. Son of the Earth

And here‘s a hi-res picture of the cover art, a slightly out-of-focus one, but, as far as I can tell, the only decent one available online.

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last.fm friends ticker

infoRSS

last.fm is great, and it gets better every single day. Part of its appeal is voyeurism. I love being able to see what my friends are listening to, but that usually requires going to the “What are my friends listening to?” page, which is still too much effort; I’m not that curious. But still, if somebody I know starts listening to something, I’d like to be alerted with a totally passive system.

There are, of course, RSS feeds for all kinds of things from last.fm. But there is no feed consisting of all your friends’ recent tracks, which is surprising because it’s such an intuitive idea. So implementing the ones that are available is ostensibly possible, but nevertheless tricky. I mean, logging into Bloglines or Google’s new reader still requires an active request for this information. And while there are some web services that will merge multiple feeds into a single one for you, I don’t like relying on a third party like that, one that may go down any day and that might insert advertisements into my feed.

It seems to me that there should be a very, very small program that sits in your system tray, checking multiple feeds regularly, then popping up a native Windows balloon with a link to the “article” every time there’s an update. This would be ideal for watching your last.fm friends. There are programs that do this, but they’re all full applications that only have this as an auxiliary feature. I can’t afford the memory.

So, finally, I found infoRSS. It’s a Firefox extension that adds a little ticker to the statusbar. Initially I wasn’t hopeful, as its default presentation is ugly and therefore indicative of poor programming:

infoRSS

The writer of this extension isn’t a native speaker of English, and there’s very little help available anyway. I spent a long time studying its many confusing features, confident that it could be made to do what I want. The result (shown at the top of this post) isn’t perfect, but is better than I had expected or hoped. There’s a nice little Audioscrobbler logo on the left; each entry is marked with the user’s avatar, which is far more efficient than if their name were displayed; and the listening status of everyone is constantly on display for me. Here’s how to do this:

Continue reading “last.fm friends ticker”

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Free Curricula

Since graduating from college almost three years ago (Christ), I’ve really missed the convenience and fun of organized education. There are a million things I wish I knew more about, but that I don’t know where to start looking to learn: anthropology, sociology, literature, art history, psychology, more philosophy, more linguistics, math, physics… I’d love to go to college forever, collecting degrees in everything.

I’ve wondered for a long time whether there were any online curricula available to follow. Sure, some courses on some universities’ websites had publicly available syllabi, but not many. And those that do aren’t very thorough. I figured there must be tons of people like me who have banded together to create something better than this, like an online book club but with more focus.

I found out today that MIT is doing exactly this. They’ve come up with OpenCourseWare, which presents, in an amazingly organized fashion, all the material you need (or references to it) for a large number of classes. I don’t know where to start. Fortunately, now that I live so close to MIT, I’m sure I can get almost all of the necessary reading material at the library down the street, and, if all goes well, get started with one of these classes.

Also of interest is Wikiversity, which aims to offer a broad, free, online education via Wikibooks‘ open-content textbooks. Proposals are still being made, and the logistics of it are only roughly sketched at this point, but there seems to be a lot of excitement about the possibilities behind this framework.

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