Just recently discovered an interesting compilation called "Christmas Remixed" and "Christmas Remixed 2". There are some pretty sweet remixes of your usual holiday tracks, but here are a few songs I thought were particularly well done:
Bing Crosby - Happy Holiday (Beef Wellington Remix)
Bing Crosby - White Christmas (Kaskade Remix)
Duke Ellington - Jingle Bells (Robbie Hardkiss Remix)
I had been eyeing up the SleepTracker watch, and was pleasantly surprised to receive it as a present for my birthday from my girlfriend a few months back. The concept is genius: Why wake up in the middle of deep sleep, when you can be awakened intelligently at the right time?
Sleep happens in multiple stages: Drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, and dream (or REM) sleep. This cycle repeats multiple times in a night, and usually lasts 70 to 90 minutes. You can read more about sleep stages at helpguide.org.
Ever feel like you woke up at "just the right time"? After each cycle, you are returned to an "almost awake" state. When you wake up at this point in time, you feel much less drowsy, and much more refreshed than when you wake up during deep sleep.
That's the point of the watch: to monitor when you move (when you are almost awake), and wake you up at the right time in a given window. Ideally, you feel refreshed every morning, ready to jump out of bed.
How well does it work? Surprisingly well. After several weeks of use, I was almost always woken up during my set window. Waking up in an "almost awake" state is much more enjoyable than being rudely woken up by an alarm, and you do feel like you're woken up at the optimal moment.
What does it not do? It won't magically make you less tired. Just waking up at the right moment doesn't turn 5 hours of sleep into 8. You can shake off that "sleepy" feeling much, much faster, but you'll still need just as much sleep as before. It may be tempting to set the window to the maximum 90 minutes so that you're always woken up at an "almost awake" moment, but I found that sometimes the extra 90 minutes of sleep was worth it, even if I wasn't woken up at the perfect time.
As an added bonus, the SleepTracker Pro connects via USB to a computer to let you download your sleep data in text, csv or xml format, which can be almost (or more!) interesting than its intended purpose. With a bit of digging around on their forums, you can even find a perl script that works (easily) under Linux and (with a bit of effort) under OS X.
I've uploaded a couple weeks worth of my sleep data:
Here's the perl script (sleeptracker.pl) as well as a helper script I wrote (trackmysleep.pl):
From the team that brought you Rock Band and Guitar Hero, a new startup that's a bit hard to describe. It's a little bit game, a little bit social, a little bit music discovery, and a lot of fun.
These guys are doing so much right, I don't even know where to begin. I was attracted to their game by a Facebook ad that said "Like Ladytron? We don't have it yet, but we do have a ton of indie electronic music." My kind of website, I thought to myself.
The idea is like Guitar Hero with the arrows on your keyboard. Naturally, a lot of fun right off the bat.
Add to that a very social experience. You choose to "dance" for people (either flirty, flashy, or funny), and leave a comment for them, sort of like an IM conversation. Comments are auto-generated, so even if you don't really want to say anything in particular, it's still quite funny to have this pseudo-chat.
Since they are advertising on Facebook and to a presumably younger crowd, they're attracting a real mix of male and female audience. I saw a mostly college-aged crowd while I was there.
The beauty of it, is that in order to talk to someone, you need to "dance" with/for them. All in all, it feels very flirty, and is much more like doing an activity with someone, as opposed to creepily talking to a random person.
Looks like their product is living up to their stated vision: "Are emoticons and pixellated panties the stuff that true friendships are made of? The activities and experiences that we share are what bind us together. When spending time together online is as fun as a night of clubbing or as intense as a great jam session, then social networks will truly be social."
I was a couple days late to the scoop: Venturebeat covered it on the 8th (Damn! If only I'd clicked on that Facebook ad sooner. Congrats guy, though, on some seriously cool sleuthing). Since Venturebeat's already let the cat out of the bag, I don't feel too bad pointing to the alpha url: http://alpha.loudcrowd.com/
Here's a video intro from Vimeo:
Just read this post on TechCrunch talking about Amazon TextBuyIt. There's 2 things interesting to me about this:
1) Is this product a result of the TextPayMe acquisition?
2) This has some very interesting implications. Amazon can now be located in any storefront, and if it becomes easy enough, it could detract from the value of traditional brick and mortar stores. I could be at Best Buy trying out an MP3 player, decide that I like it (the benefit of physical interaction), text Amazon, and buy it, all from within the Best Buy store. Best Buy paid the cost of the physical interaction (employee, store, inventory costs), but Amazon was able to score the sale.
And the obvious first upgrade: Snap a picture of the ISBN/UPC code with a camera phone and send it via picture message to Amazon.
It's always interesting to see new technology for sound. There's a huge opportunity for someone to create software that's better able to understand music the way a DJ might (BPM, key, etc) and automatically create a mix by beatmatching and cycling through the circle of fifths, for example.
thisismyjam.com tries to do that. It's a demo product built on The Echo Nest APIs. It's cool to see something like this on the web, but from my testing, it's about as good as existing software out there that's desktop-based or built into hardware like the Pioneer CMX-3000.
There's no reason why a computer can't eventually do the same thing a human DJ can. In the meantime, here's a quick mix I created with thisismyjam.