I recently had the pleasure of attending the Do Lab’s quintessential audio-visual-experience, Lightning In A Bottle. And having just come from Coachella’s desert wasteland, I have to say it was quite refreshing. Situated in a cooler environment (Temecula is technically cooler than Indio, look it up) and on a gorgeous lake, LIB already has a few things going for it. And without the draw of major-label acts like Coachella, the general admission noise-floor is considerably lower, and more manageable.
The actual venue size is not only smaller and easier to navigate, but security is mild, and the general mood is pleasant and carefree. Attendance capped out at around 13,000 (approximately), making it a fraction of the size. Complaints, while there, were few. Upon arrival to the ticket-booth at a local community college, the lines were unfathomably long due to an internet error that prevented staff from scanning tickets at a reasonable rate.
Highlights included seeing Purity Ring, Tycho, and Nicholas Jaar from literally the front row – as the crowds are sparse and it is easy to simply walk up to the gate with ease, even in the middle of a set.
At Coachella, you’ll be trapped top-side while pissing into empty beer cans for 3 hours.
Yeah, there was a full-blown water-park.
While Lightning In A Bottle goes through growing pains, and the zeitgeist of the music festival shifts its tastes from gigantic, stressful festivals to smaller, more manageable realms; they can be rest assured I will be a repeat customer to see where the movement leads.
As a music producer and all-around computer dude, I spent a ton of money on cables that usually fall apart much sooner than they should. Being able to make AV cables is an important skill that will save you a ton of money over time. After working at Guitar Center and seeing the profit margin of Monster Cables, I decided to try it out myself. Video and audio cables are very easy to construct with the proper materials and basic soldering skills. Some of the advantages that come from making custom AV cables is the ability to make application-specific precise lengths and the choice of materials that are designed to help maximize signal transfer. Once these cables are finished, a system can have an optimized signal at a much lower cost than utilizing store-bought AV cabling.
Step One: Stripping the Cable
Always start by putting the cable in your left hand and the stripper cutter in the right. It is very important to remember that every kind of stripper is different. A person should point the stripper cutter’s outside away from their cable in order to leave about 1/4 inch of extra cable hanging off the end. They should only remove the extra wire later.
They should remove the insulation in order to expose the braided shielding and center pin. After that, they can slide the collar into the cable. They should not forget this procedure or they might have to start from the beginning once again.
Step Two: Trimming the Wire
After removing the insulation, they should start trimming the center wire to length. This will vary from one stripper to the next, but the usual correct length is about 19 mm from the tip of the conductor’s center to the outside insulation. This is where having the right stripper is very handy. However, a person can still make an excellent cable if they are using a less-than-ideal stripper.
Step Three: Crimping the Cable
Once the center has been trimmed to its desired length, a person should now place the center pin and crimp it very tight. It is always recommended to tug it a little bit in order to make sure that it is secure. After making sure that the center pin is straight, they should go ahead and slide the connector’s body on. They will feel a quick snap when the center pin locks securely.
After this has been achieved, they should fold the braiding back into the connector and slide the wire’s collar up into it. They should also remember to do this without flaring all the way back into the wire’s braiding. This will ensure that they are able to open it a little bit for the connector to slide in. It will make sure that they have a good connection down the road. After that, all people have to do is label the cable with either colored electrical tape or shrink tubing.
Making an Audio Cable
Start by removing the cable’s outer insulation with a standard box cutter or a good quality stripper. They should then cut the cable’s black wire flush of the outer insulation. It is also best to get it completely out of the way.
After cutting the red wire to the desired length and leaving a little allowance, a person should then strip off about 18 inches of the red wire’s tip and twist it very tight. People should cover the exposed copper with solder to make it much easier to move to the center pin.
They should then fill the tip of the wire with solder and slip the red wire into the AV cable center pin. It should be held securely until it cools down. A person should then twist the grounding cable very tight and push it into the connector’s stem through its holes. They should wrap it around to make sure that it is held securely in place.
An individual should then flip the connector over with the stem facing outside up and solder the grounding wire to it. They should trim off the extra ground wire and crimp the collar down on the insulation’s outer part with a pair of pliers. The connector’s body should be screwed on to finish the cable.
Who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going?
It’s a complex, three part question that we may never be able to fully answer. We do, however, get closer every day. We build things. We revise them, and build them better. We make art to express ourselves, and wage war to defend ourselves. The world today is growing radically different than the world of the ancients – and even the world of our American pioneers. If one were to look at the charts and graphs scientists have developed to demonstrate our ever increasing technological prowess, they may find themselves startled and afraid. The charts are climbing through the roof, shifting towards an exponential trend of growth. Some argue that the Darwinian mode of genetic evolution is being replaced by a new form of evolution dubbed Memetic Evolution. Memes are human habits -art, music, literature, and all other facets of our culture. And our memes, it seems, are copying themselves at an alarming rate.
The time it takes to communicate a thought from one human being to another is shrinking exponentially. The activities of writing letters and sending telegrams have been replaced by the newer, faster methods of email and text messaging. What took a matter of weeks if not months a hundred years ago now takes a matter of minutes if not seconds. If one were to extrapolate that trend of growth into the future, surely in the next hundred years it seems that we may become able to communicate instantaneously, even telepathically.
Yet, in this human frenzy of growth and exploration, we have to occasionally stop and smell the roses. How did we get here in the first place? Why were humans blessed with the gift of knowledge, and the poor chimpanzee left to poke around in the dirt?
Our ancestors first began making music and art some 40,000 years ago. Was this a result of some divine entity imparting its wisdom into our souls? Probably not. Most researchers have come to agree that such a change took place over thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years worth of genetic mutations. Was it the fact that our brains grew to be much larger than our predecessors? That was also not the case. Neanderthals had a similar sized brain as the Cro Magnon man, yet displayed very little culture. The Cro Magnon man performed many rituals when one of their loved ones died. They places thousands of beads into the grave, and spent a large amount of time preparing the ceremony. Neanderthals, on the other hand, simply chucked the dead body into a pit. It seems that they had much less regard and understanding of life in this regard. They did not exhibit any signs of art, music, or any culture for that matter compared to the Cro Magnon man.
So then, what was it that set us apart? Why did we ascend to a higher state of existence compared to our animal neighbors? Perhaps it was not the actual size of our brains, but the wiring that gave us knowledge. Hunting was probably the primary reason we invented tools and communication. We designed, built, and redesigned stone tools until they gave us effective results. Then, we used methods of communication to impart this knowledge to our descendants. Then, while hunting, we developed signals and signs to aid in the kill. Thus, we began to devise hunting plans, and tactics. We began to work together. This would have eventually become language as we know it, when our first vocalizations could be heard echoing throughout the ancient landscape. A verbal language would have greatly sped up the communication process. That would have in turn allowed for more efficient hunting and gathering practices, as more knowledge would have been conveyed in a shorter amount of time. This would have resulted in more free time, which would have allowed hobbies like bead making and art to become commonplace.
Thus, the birth of culture. Bead making could have led to a value system, where beads were traded for goods and services. As time went on, our ancestors may have found gold and silver, and traded those. Money is born. The more money an individual had, the more power was associated with that person. Now we start getting into wars to gain more power, more control over land and hunting areas. People start to make more and more art and music so that they can forget about the wars, and the pain of lost loved ones. They may have found that while they were making music or art that time seemed to slow down, and they were able to connect with some hidden force that felt eternal, and more real than reality itself. For in those fleeting moments of creativity, they were becoming eternal by creating something that would live on long after they were gone. These ancestors of ours could connect with one another in ways the physical world could not have allowed them to in the past. Unbeknownst to them, they were building the framework of what would someday become society itself – a network of thought and culture.
Fast forward to now.
Today, this network is more present than ever, and growing rapidly. Even though biologically we may be the same as we were some 50,000 years ago, our minds have expanded out into the universe, and deep into our own souls.
Memes convey seemingly infinite meaning, as the groups that weld them impart more and more ‘inside jokes’ into their digital fabric. For now, memes are mostly internet jokes that other people build upon. Memes are also merging with each other, giving birth to new memes. It only takes a quick glance at a site like https://www.reddit.com to understand how fast this evolutionary system is advancing.
One could suppose that soon, memes will eclipse entire industries, especially marketing. I am sure corporate memes, run as ads on social media sites, are not far off. We could also assume then the use of memes by entertainment celebrities and politicians, even entire ideologies.
As a race, we have become aware of our own limitations – time, space, and ourselves. And as we tirelessly work to break through these boundaries, we may not realize how similar the act of building a space shuttle is to building a stone axe. They are both tools we use to advance ourselves, and now more than ever, it feels as though we are on the verge of another mental big bang. Just as our ancestors broke through the barrier separating action from speech, we may be on the verge of breaking through the barrier that separated our bodies from our souls. For someday soon, we may truly get the chance to meet our true selves and shake our own hands. Someday soon, we may decide not to be human, or anything, at all.
“To See As Artists See” Showcases America’s Modern Art Masters
The Tampa Museum of Art is pleased to present “To See As Artists See: American Art From The Phillips Collection”, which displays 107 important American paintings from The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. For this exhibition, curators selected works from the 1850s through 1960s that showcase the full breadth of its American art collection.
Geniuses of American painting in the exhibition include Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Rockwell Kent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Grandma Moses, Jacob Lawrence, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, and Mark Rothko. Each of these artists were visionaries in their own right, and deserve an entire museum unto themselves. This is a unique chance to see a comprehensive retrospective of America’s Modern Art movement spanning 1850’s.
The modern theme of “To See As Artists See” feels appropriately situated inside Stanley Saitowitz’s new and modern design for the Tampa Museum of Art – which critics have named an “electronic jewelbox sitting on a glass pedestal.” It would make sense Tampa’s most recognizable building on the outside now features equally recognizable paintings on the inside. But some would argue that the building alone is worth the trip, with its exotic use of 14,000 color-changing LED’s wrapping the outside walls. The building was named winner of the American Architecture Award by Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, and it is no surprise. One of the most striking features of the Tampa Museum of Art is that it sits on the edge of the Hillsborough River, across from many viewpoints where its design and glow can be enjoyed reflecting off the water’s surface. One of these vantage points is Plant Park, where you might enjoy a picnic dinner on a lazy evening.
Come see for yourself, and come inside to check out “To See as Artists See: American Art From The Phillips Collection” Exhibition through April 28th.
Sherry Turkle was recently interviewed by NPR on the podcast “Do We Need Humans?” with other fellow TED speakers. What struck me as fascinating about this podcast is that she touches on a subject all of us are aware of but rarely talk about: Technology and relationships. More importantly, the social effects of technology. How is technology making us feel connected to each other, and is this a good thing?
Sherry begins by explaining something she saw one day that changed everything she believed. She was watching an elderly patient at a hospital interacting with a robot. It looked like a baby harp seal, and it had big, cute eyelashes. It responded to her language, and cheered her up. It comforted her. The older woman had lost a child, which could explain her longing for something to hold again. It made her feel understood. Sherry couldn’t believe how well she was responding to this robot, and realized the possibilities of this robot’s application.
“I felt profoundly depressed. This was a tremendous emotional turning point in my research,” says Sherry. She is now very worried about where this is all headed, and during her TED talk “Connected, but Alone?” she described it best:
“I felt myself at the cold, dark center of a perfect storm, in which we expect more from a technology relationship than we expect from each other. I believe it is because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. We are lonely, but afraid of intimacy. We are designing social networks that help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control. But we aren’t comfortable, and we aren’t in control. We are cheering on this emotional connection to a machine, but why are we outsourcing what defines us as people?”
When Sherry gave her TED talk the year before, however, it was like a public confessional – because the year before, she told us how amazing robots will become.
So what changed her mind?
“I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people about their plugged in lives. These little devices are so psychologically powerful, they not only change what we do, they change what we are. Some of the things we do with our devices are things we would have found odd only a few years ago. People text during company board room meetings. People have talked about the important skill of eye contact while you are texting. We even text at funerals. We remove ourselves from our grief and our revery, and go into our phones. Why does this matter? Because I think we are setting ourselves up for trouble, not only in how we relate to each other, but how we relate with ourselves. People want to be everywhere at the same time. The thing that matters most to people is control of where they put their attention.”
But what if someone is so lonely, they must resort to a device to help them feel better? Certainly there are people who would otherwise be completely isolated from the outside world without technology. Sherry understands that there are inherent benefits to these technologies, but in the future, why would we want to do that to ourselves? Why would we intentionally construct false relationships?
When we construct robots, we are changing ourselves. We must realize the needs we are serving and become aware of what these needs are. Sherry wants to hear a more articulated conversation about these human needs. “I always hear TED talks that talk about this and always end with people saying ‘we will become more human’ if we let these robots advance. I’m not so sure. Why do we want that old woman talking to a robot? She deserves to have people around, and we need to hear the stories of her life to learn from her.”
“Technology is making the bid to redefine human connection. How we care for each other and ourselves. How we determine our values and our direction. We have every opportunity ahead of us, and we have everything we need to start – each other. We have the greatest chance of success if we recognize our vulnerability; that we listen when technology says it will take something complicated and make it simpler. Our fantasies are costing us, and we need to find ways that technology can lead us back to our own lives and bodies. Lets talk about how we can use digital technology, the technology of our dreams, to make this life a life we can love.”
We must find a balance between our technologic and the personal worlds as the lines increasingly blur. Social media profiles still leave much to the imagination, yet can provide more instantaneous information about a person than an average 5 minutes of small talk. Google Glass — which allows one to share videos, text, make calls and browse the web through the user’s eye — is an emerging technology that may prove beneficial in establishing the physical and internet-based demarcations … by completely eliminating those boundaries and turning an individual into a breathing, living embodiment of the internet. You could say we are becoming the internet. Or the internet is becoming us. Whichever you choose, there is a new age of interaction upon us, and we most certainly will have our share of growing pains. Perhaps some new device like Google Glass will help people learn to truly see through each other’s eyes…But most likely, you’ll just use it to watch the Lakers game during your next dinner date.
Do you think there are more pros or cons to social media? SHARE BELOW
Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse postings and online sharing with authentic communication. We are drawn to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. But Turkle suggests that digital technology is still in its infancy and there is ample time for us to reshape how we build it and use it. She is a professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.
Passion Pit is a perfect example of how giving away self-produced and released music can lead to big things. Lead Vocalist Michael Angelakos took songs he wrote for his girlfriend, burned them to CD, started passing them out around campus and next thing you know? Sold out tours, major labels, and glowing Pitchfork reviews. But what can you do as a beginning musician to follow in their footsteps?
Step 1: Have good music
It may sound ridiculously obvious, but this is sometimes a major factor musicians overlook in the marketing process. Why spend money on a tour van or radio promotion if no one will even show your music to their Facebook friends first? You could literally spend $50,000 on marketing and have it go to waste if your music isn’t up to the top quality standards in terms of production, songwriting and mixing/mastering.
If you are just starting out, and don’t have the ability to hire a producer or engineer at a professional studio, there are plenty of programs that will allow you to, after alot of trial and error, get close to professional quality sound. I use Logic Pro, some Pro Tools, and Ableton Live for production. A full on tutorial of how to produce music with these programs is another article entirely.
If I have never heard of your band before, I am probably not going to buy your music. Especially if there isn’t even a free iTunes preview available. This is because there are plenty of bands that I already like giving away music for free, and in the age of Mediafire and Hype Machine, I can download any album I want in about 4 seconds. So if a potential fan shows up to your website, has to turn off your FLASH AUTOPLAY WEBSITE (caps because seriously everyone hates these sites), and then gets propositioned to enter their credit card information, odds are they aren’t going down to the car to get their wallet. And that is a catastrophic failure on your part. Give your music away for free, at least initially. Get people excited and interested in your sound and what you are doing. Think about the old adage “Fake it till you make it”, and how that relates to music – you will make significantly more money down the road using long-tail economics – so stop thinking linearly and start thinking exponentially. Consider this:
Chris Anderson wrote a very profound book called The Long Tail: Why The Future Of Business Is Selling Less Of More that explains how the internet changed the way we do business on a global scale. A good example is what happened to SEARS, the department store. It all started back before most farmers could afford an automobile, let alone the fuel to drive into town every day. Sears had the novel idea of passing out catalogs to each farmhouse, that not only sold things, but sold EVERYTHING. Wristwatches, thread, lightbulbs, kerosene lanterns, you name it, you could order it right out of the catalog. This is because Sears invested in the initial infrastructure of large warehouses and trucks to ship things from all over the world to Good Lord, Iowa. This was great initially, and gave the masses things from far away lands they only dreamed about.
Yet as time wore on, the farmers started showing up to Church with the same wristwatch from the same catalog. Consumers demanded product differentiation. They now wanted specialized, niche markets. Competitors and new nation-spanning highways gave people the freedom of choice and customization, which in turn led to Sears’ downfall, and subsequently it is now market share leader in washing machines. So, what does this have to do with music?
Back when there were only a few channels for wristwatch distribution, the same held true for music. There were only a few channels on the local radio, and only a certain number of CD’s could fit on the shelves in the record store. The major labels owned the only distribution infrastructure that could physically get your music to the major metropolitan areas, and if you didn’t fit their style or genre, you were condemned to play coffee shops and Bar Mitzvahs for the rest of your career.
Along comes the Internet. Whoa, wasn’t there a record store here last week? The new paradigm of music distribution allows for infinitely reducible niche markets in music. Nowadays, the New Age Polka enthusiast can not only find their favorite artist’s music, but automatically and instantaneously receive recommendations of other New Age Polka artists they may like as well. As an old friend used to say, “there’s a seat for every ass in the house”. If you make good music, you will find fans, regardless of how obscure it may be.
Get 1,000 true fans
I went to a music conference in 2011 that was basically a big waste of time, but I did come away with one new idea of what being a musician will be like in the coming years. Consider this article, written in 2000, about the then current state of the music industry.
In that year, Eminem, Britney Spears, and N Sync all helped paint a picture of a music industry that was still expanding – a record-breaking 312 million CD’s were sold – that’s an 8 % increase. The warning signs were there – as most of the article debates whether or not Napster will have a long-term effect on major labels. But statements like “People do like CD’s. They continue to buy about 900 million CD’s every year in this country. I don’t think people are going to change their behavior dramatically,” offer a glimpse into the prevalent shortsightedness that was going around at the time.
What happened next was a result of that year. Based on 2000’s growth projections, the industry kept expanding while the actual sales started to dip. Labels started losing alot of money fast, and could no longer give out big advances. Thus, the days of the mega-stars like Britney Spears are now over.
Yet there is still a booming music industry out there, with billions of dollars in annual global revenue. So how will it be distributed in the coming years? We will start to see the expansion of the musical middle class. No, you probably won’t make $10 Million dollars per album like they did in the year 2000, but your chances of making an honorable $40,000 per year are very high if you can attract at least 1,000 fans that will spend $40 on your brand per year. Think about it – that’s basically a T Shirt, a ticket sale, and a ringtone. The best way to attract fans is to be real with them, and to be honest. The idea of being a reclusive, mysterious musician that hides in the studio for weeks doesn’t really mesh well with the age of blogging and Youtube. Talk to people online. Share stories and information. Comment on people’s pictures. Post videos of your new song idea and ask for input. Over 50% of the entire internet’s traffic runs through YouTube. That is a HUGE resource.
Make customized merch that only your most loyal fans can access, and even think about VIP concerts and events. It may sound strange, but sometimes it feels like the internet has only increased the distance between people in real life – be someone people can always rely on as a digital friend, and I promise, they will always support your musical endeavors.
Watch Beau Lotto’s talk above on optical illusions and how information can differ depending on perception.
Written by Ben Thomas
The year was 1943, and the Pentagon had a problem. They’d poured millions of dollars into a new voice encryption system — dubbed the “X System” — but no one was certain how secure it was. So the top brass called in Claude Shannon to analyze their code and — if all went well — to prove that it was mathematically unbreakable.
Shannon was a new breed of mathematician: A specialist in what’s known today as information theory. To Shannon and his fellow theorists, information was something separate from the letters, numbers and facts it represented. Instead, it was something more abstract; more mathematical: in a word, it wasnon-redundancy.
As Beau Lotto explains in his presentation, we’re hallucinating reality all the time — but we only take notice when our hallucinations fail to make accurate predictions.— Ben Thomas
Take, for example, the sequence of letters spelling out “Let’s crack the codes.” It’s got a high level of redundancy — not all its letters are essential for getting its message across. As long as you’ve got some practice reading English, you can look at a shorter, less-redundant sequence like “Lt’s crck th cdes” and fill in the missing sounds. Along the same lines, Hebrew and Arabic speakers can read the vowel-free written forms of their languages just fine. Our brains are surprisingly talented at picking up patterns, filling in blanks, and ignoring redundant data — only when we’re uncertain about how to fill in a blank does information become… well, informative.
Shannon’s non-redundancy idea isn’t just handy for cracking codes, though — today, it’s responsible for most of what you see on the Internet. JPEG image compression, for instance, throws out most of an image’s data, and we rarely notice anything’s missing – our brains’ visual system smooths out the rough spots. Same goes for MP3 compression, and for the Flash video encoding used on YouTube. Ever since Shannon’s day, information theorists have been refining their techniques, drilling closer and closer to the bare minimum of information required to convince us we’re not missing anything. (You might say those ancient Hebrew and Arabic scribes were a few thousand years ahead of their time.)
Data compression isn’t just digital, either — in fact, it’s hardwired into our brains, from the neurons up. As Beau Lotto shows us in his TEDTalk above, every color we perceive is dependent on its context: What other colors surround it? Is it in light or in shadow? How’s the light tinted? And what’s true for light holds true for sound, too — as I explain in this article, your brain gets so pumped up about rhythm that it actually hallucinates missing beats. Oh, and if you’re in the mood for something extra weird today, check out Oliver Sacks’ TEDTalk on Charles Bonnet syndrome — a brain disorder that makes people hallucinate vivid scenes from tiny stray nerve signals.
In light of all this, it’s hard to escape the inventor Ray Kurzweil’sconclusion: “We don’t actually see things [at all]; we hallucinate them in detail from low-resolution cues.” As Beau Lotto explains in his presentation, we’re hallucinating reality all the time — but we only take notice when our hallucinations fail to make accurate predictions; when we think we’re certain of something that’s actually not so certain, and our brains have to hunt down new information in order to make better predictions.
Claude Shannon once said, “Information is the resolution of uncertainty.” The more certain we are in our hallucinations, the less information we think we need — and the less open to new information we become. Beau Lotto finishes his talk on a similar note. “Only through uncertainty,” he says, “is there potential for understanding.”
Luckily for the Allies in World War II, Shannon had just the right kind of understanding for the job. After proving the Pentagon’s X System mathematically uncrackable, he helped lay the groundwork for the next generation of military codes. His most enduring legacy, though, isn’t the codes he created, but the idea behind them: Only in uncertainty do we realize information’s value.
While I was visiting Tokyo last month, we strolled through the Harajuku district and
stumbled upon Hot Toys’ brand new, flagship store, Toy Sapien.
I have never geeked out harder in my entire life.
First of all, life-sized R2-D2, C-3PO and a Terminator T800 greet you at the door. Once I collected myself enough to continue inside, I browsed through shelf after shelf of high-quality models and figurines. Some of these were not only rare, I had no idea they were even in production:
• 1989 Batman, Joker, Batmobile • Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit • Batman Begins Batman • Predator • Captain America • Iron Man and Iron Monger
Having just seen Prometheus, I was pretty thrilled by this Space Jockey, which has a level of detail that is quite hard to find.
The Dark Knight section was also impressive, featuring a 1:16 scale model of the Tumbler, Bane, Joker, and Scarecrow.
Also of note, there were dozens of life-sized helmets from Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens, Terminator, a fully-stocked LEGO collection, and plush versions of most action figures.
Seriously, if I had the Yen to blow, I would have picked up that Space Jockey, DeLorean Time Machine, and Dewback faster than you can say “Get away from her, you Bitch.”