Fitness Tech Phenomenon 2012 – Nike+ and the rest: My Experiences

Greetings all,

I hope this blogpost finds you well. For many of you following me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve seen my various status updates and tweets about my health and fitness training, especially in the areas of running and weight workouts. You also know, being the techie that I am, the ability to use technology to track my performance metrics against goals, is of great interest to me, and frankly makes exercising that much more fun. You also probably know that I am a fan of the Nike+ fitness tracking system. Well, this post is not about waving the Nike+ banner, but more about my experiences and knowledge gained about the whole fitness tracking phenomenon and how I see it with respect to exercising/training the old fashioned way – basically paper and pen at best!

I’ll start by conveying my experience with the Nike+ system, my likes about it, and convey a little about the dislikes of others about it (in comparison to the competition). I discovered Nike+, not via one of the many YouTube videos or a TV commercial, but by reading an article in Wired Magazine entitled “Living By Numbers”. While the article featured the work of Apple and Nike in developing the Nike+ system, it was also comprised of other articles and examples of websites and apps regarding performance metrics tracking. You can read the article here.

I’ve pretty much worked out -prettttttttttty- regularly since late HS, through college, etc (though I won’t state how many times I fell off the horse and got back on – thank goodness for muscle memory). Finding out about idea of using tech to track my performance was immediately golden to me and obviously, as said above, appealed to my tech side. What I liked (and still do) about the sports and fitness giant we know as Nike, is their entire approach – marketing, advertising, etc to sports and fitness. The appeal to THIS consumer and fan is great. Another company that does the same for me is Apple (as I type away on this sleek black Macbook).

So, Nike has developed this whole system called Nike Plus, or more overall Nike Active. The whole premise (if you didn’t read the article above) is the combination of an iPod nano or iPhone, coupled with a sensor that goes in specialized Nike running shoes, and a sensor receiver that goes into your iPod (which is how it was originally designed). It was first geared towards tracking your run stats. Since then, the iPod nano 6G (v1.2 software update) and iPhone 4/4S with iOS 5.0 do away with the need for the iPod sensor receiver that comes with the Nike+ Sports Kit. Here’s a video (not the newest, but my favorite) about the basics of Nike+

Since 2006, various Nike+ products have come into existence – the sports band, the Nike+ GPS watch. Here’s a comparison chart

For me, the best product is the iPod nano. I’m not at a point where I want to track my routes, nor do I need the instantaneity of posting to the Nike+ site via GPS. I also own an iPhone 4 that I make reference to later in this post.

Nike has upped the bar and added yet another fitness tracking item: The Nike Fuel Band

A really interesting, yet pricey, fitness tracking device that is designed to motivate you to stay active. I like everything about it (sans the price), except it isn’t waterproof and if you like working out to music, you’re out of luck. It’s slated to hit the US market on Feb 22nd. Here’s a good article on it.

Nike+ is great to me, however there are some definite naysayers and disatisfied users of the system. If you are on FB and search on the keywords “Nike Plus”, you’ll find their page. 98% of the comments currently there (they revamped the page over the last two years) center around the following areas”

  • Inability to connect to the website
  • Run data not posting to the site via iTunes or GPS
  • Run data not crossposting to Facebook
  • It appears to me that a good deal of the problem points to the fact that it’s a Flash based site, when many, if not all of the other ones are not. Frankly I like the site, and in the almost two years of running and using it, I’ve never suffered the myriad of problems these people are griping about. Nike did admit, and posted a formal letter, to the issues the site was having. I think that was admirable of them. Not having experienced the issues others have, it’s hard for me to share a sympathetic ear, but I hope that the site issues become minimal.

    One of the major capabilities in fitness tracking tech is the use of GPS, especially in running. As widely known, you can track your routes and via GPS upload them to your favorite fitness track website via the accompanying smartphone app. Garmin, of course, is in the game and many fitness sites, along with Nike, like Map My Fitness, GainFitness, Dailyburn, Dailymile, and so on. As you can see from iPhone screenshot, I’ve downloaded a number of fitness tracking apps that, aside from Nike+, have tried yet. Since I workout with weights as well, I’m looking for one that will allow me to success track performance there as well. There are eight so far that need investigation. Assessing each will be a project in itself. Currently, in addition to the Nike+ sites, I am using the online site, Dailymile. It was recommended by a friend of mine who’s done a thorough assessment of the site and what I’ve seen so far, I like. It not only allows me to track my runs, but other types of fitness workouts as well. It crossposts to Twitter nicely, allows for the upload of pics and video, has the ability to import my run data from Nike+. From what I understand, it has great capability for analytics as well. Many of these sites allow for import of data from Nike+ and other sites as well.

    Many of the sites mirror the same capabilities so, as said above, the best thing to do is compare and maybe use multiple sites, if necessary, to meet the needs you have for tracking your metrics. This leads me to an obvious aspect of performance tracking – accuracy. Just how accurate is all of this? To quote a friend. “If it’s tracking faulty stats it’s futile”. True indeed. One can, depending on what they want to get out of tracking performance, get VERY hung up on how accurate one device is against another in an apples-to-apples comparison. Then there are those like a weightlifter, whose comment I saw in a forum that was attached to an article about this aspect. He basically said he didn’t care much about tight accuracy because he’s just a weightlifter, but wanted to have SOMETHING to gauge his run performance, something simple he could use as a tool to track improvements. The article by Daily Burn CEO Andy Smith is entitled “DailyBurn CEO: Fitness-Tracking Devices Aren’t Gimmicks, but They’re Close”. The article can be read here. Personally, I think one, especially someone who is highly data driven, can get too caught in the phenomena, losing sight to why they started the fitness journey to begin with.

    In summary, I look forward to continuing in the leverage of fitness tech to allow me the added enjoyment of keeping fit. I’m settled and happy with the physical tools (iPod nano and Nike Sports Kit) that I have…I can see a bluetooth transmitter for the nano and an accompanying lightweight set of bluetooth headphones, but other than that, I’m good. As for the apps and websites, research and trial awaits. I’m looking forward to that as well, but in the mean time…it’s all about breaking that 10 min mile and training for my first 5K this year. Hopefully I can find an interesting app to aid in my bodybuilding, or should I say weight workouts. Time will tell. In closing, for all the excitement there is in gaining and maintaining good fitness, I try to keep this thought first and foremost.

    Here are a number of popular online fitness tracking sites:

  • DailyBurn
  • DailyMile
  • Gain Fitness
  • Map My Fitness
  • Thanks for reading….

    peace…
    Fresh!

    DDO (Digital Day Off) #2

    Greetings readers…

    12:17am. Happy Monday, for those in the EST zone. For those who read my post below, I decided I was due for another digital day off. One reason I took it is that I’ve been recalling how it was growing up in the days pre-Internet: What was occupying my time, what my focus was, what good (and bad habits) I had, etc. While I can’t speak for any of my readers (or anyone else for that matter), doing this (albeit being annually so far), kinda makes me step backwards and look at not only my reliance on the info highway, but what I spend time doing on it. The good thing is I always get some fresh perspective and illumination. Now that the DDO is done, the benefit should now come in the manifesting of realizations had today…we shall see (I do mean “we”, with respect to those whom regularly interact with me on a regular basis and frequency).

    So, what did I do with my DDO? I was one of the musicians who ministered with our church adult choir for two services today, so I was out of the house at 6:30 am. When all was done, I got home about 3pm. My wife sings on the adult choir and the kids saved a seat for me so I can sit with them during the first service. They all left afterwards, so I saw them when I got home.

    By 4, I decided to take a nap…which extended into about 3.5 hours… and yes it was good (needless to say, I am not tired now…ughh)! Afterwards I had an hour long telecon with my biz partner about the future of our production company, AfterSix Productions, and our LONG AWAITED OVER DUE CD. After that, prepped clothing and lunch for work, bugged everyone here and there…then my son and I got some overdue racing done:

    We had a lot of fun, wife stopped by the speedway and watched for a little while. 🙂

    Pretty relaxing latter half of the day. Now it’s checking email, FB, Twitter, getting the to-do list ready for the work day…all while sipping on some ice cold Sobe in studio, listening to Beat Blender on somafm.com:

    In summary, this DDO reminded me that my habitual necessity (so I think) to have to be on the net on a daily basis…is not as necessary as I think…My desire is to make it at least a weekly thing.

    Hope you have a great day….

    ::: oceans of rhythm :::

    Fresh!

    Sampling and Music Composition- A “Fresh” Perspective. Pt. 3: Presently Speaking


    Native Instruments’ Maschine

    Crew,
    Hello. Here I am, back with the final installment of this blog post. Took the day off (Happy Birthday to me), sitting in Starbucks, finishing up this blog post. Listening to Foreign Exchange’s “Authenticity” (superb new release by Nic, Phonte, Zo, Yah, etc). Nice day so far.

    I’ve had time to do some more reading, see some more tweets, have some more conversations, all related to this topic. That being said, I’ll be highlighting three of those diatribes later on this post.

    On the information highway, Twitter is my primary stop for all things. Readers of this blog and followers of me on Twitter have heard me sing the praises of how I use Twitter to get all info I am interested pushed to me, based on the IDs that I follow. It keeps me abreast of, and learning about, the things that make me smarter, without having to hop on Google search (pull info) all the time (though that’s a regular activity too)

    In any event, outside of the topic matter in the first two posts, Part 1, and Part 2, Twitter has brought directly to my attention how many sample construction kit/sample vendors there are out there. Yeah, I read a few music production magazines, but the info-push from Twitter places them in front of me on a daily basis. This, in itself, (for the most part) really shows the popularity in using samples in music composition today…anywhere from the computer novice and “beat maker” to the most accomplished trained musicians and writers of film scores. Speaking of which, here’s a good article on the use of such from another follower on Twitter, Soundsandgear. His article is here.

    That being said, I decided to leverage the power of my Twitter connections and present a survey to two of my followers to get some feedback from them on the very topic of this series. Since sampling does have it’s roots in hip-hop, I’ll present first some footage of a video interview done by Propellerheads (Reason, Record, Recycle, etc) of the legendary Hank Shocklee, sonic architect, producer, artist, behind the hip-hop legends, Public Enemy. The first minute of his commentary confirms how sampling has continued to live:

    Good video. Now, I’ll let one of my followers, MsTrisBeats, a producer and studio engineer out of Baltimore, answer a series of questions I presented to her, regarding the topic of this series;

    Fresh: What got you interested in sampling?

    MB: I was in a rap group and our producer DJ Profaze was, and is a sample king. He introduced me to it before I touched a sampler. Over the years as a rapper, producers came and went. I knew I had ideas. I purchased an Ensoniq Eps. I started going crazy with crate digging. Profaze taught me how to extend the time on the Eps. When I first started producing hip hop, I had no idea that 90% was sample based. I’d recognize some songs, but my favorite producer at the time, RZA, was great at chopping samples beyond obvious recognition. Later, I learned more about sampling from another producer Scottie B, Baltimore Club Music pioneer. He raved about the new Ensoniq sample workstation, the infamous Asr10. Once I found out RZA also used it, I purchased one and it was on..

    Fresh: What got u interested in using sampling as a primary means of composing your music? (If you don’t consider it a primary means, explain to what extent you use it).

    MB: It was primary in the beginning, because I could only play by ear. No real chord progressions or any thing. Just playing what sounded good, as far as composing was concerned. Hip Hop was all about sampling at the time. I remember artist saying ” I don’t like whack keyboard beats”. They were meaning beats without samples. Every producer I loved was sampling as well. It wasn’t that I was only interested in sampling, sampling was how hip hop I loved was made.

    Fresh: What are your thoughts on the history of sampling. How has it’s evolution played a part in music composition to date?

    MB: Sampling gave birth to rap music. Although it has evolved into using more composed tracks, the history is there from the Bronx. DJ’s played and looped a sample of old soul music, the emcee rhymed over it.

    Before that, the first synthesizers were being created with samples. Music would not sound the way it does today without samplers. Samplers allowed musicians to extend the limits of sound, and sound manipulation.

    On an extreme extent, samplers have cut the cost of music. If you’ve seen “Whats Love Got To Do With It”, there’s a scene with a huge orchestra. Talk about money to pay all the players and engineers for one song?..wow. Samples have allowed musicians with little budget, to create the feel of full orchestras with one module.

    Fresh: What are your favorite tools and current methodologies for sampling in your composition?

    MB: I’m sort of a gear junkie..lol. I love learning all types of hardware and software. My favorites have been , the Asr10, Fl Studio’s slicer and slicex. I use the mpc2500 as well. Today I honestly found the best sampler for my set up in Native Instruments Maschine. It mixes both hardware and software for endless possibilities. It’s a concept which brings the ease of Fl studio to the hands on of the Mpc… brilliant!

    There are many many styles of Sampling. Chopping a sample into many parts and replaying the chops is my favorite style. It gives a song a certain feel which no one can create playing straight melodies. This style has a swing most popular in boom bap hip hop.

    When I use samples, I chop/slice samples with an editor into as small as 1bar loops. I assign each slice to a keys or pad. The sample is now like an instrument. I play it with keys or pads of the sampler.

    Fresh: How do u see sampled based music (loops and samples only) as a means for composing music today with regards to the ease and popularity of such music in popular genres that use it.

    MB: I’ve been learning more music theory, which allows me to compose my own samples. There are so many laws against sampling, that a lot of industry artist don’t want to deal with. It can be very expensive for sample clearance. The copyright owner may not even allow use.

    It’s only right morally and legally to pay if using music that another artist made. The mainstream artist that still use beats with samples, can usually afford clearance. It’s gotten so expensive that many want to take it out of the producers budget.

    I don’t think there is an ease of use anymore, unless you don’t plan to release the sample based song on a major level.

    Fresh: Do you think a composer that has no formal knowledge of music, but learned knowledge of computers, digital audio workstation software and the use of samples and loops only, is considered a musician?

    MB: A musician makes music, instrumentalist play instruments. Some people do both. Some are masters and some are not. I would not consider some one who arranges straight loops as a master of the craft, but the fact remains they are musicians if they make music.

    It’s more about how they use the samples, computers, and software that would make the general public consider one a musician . Some people are born with musicianship as a natural gift.

    It’s 2010, we have kicked off a new millennium. Music has taken a digital turn. Anyone who uses a sound module like the Motif, Triton, or Fantom are actually using “computer, software, samples, and loops”. When the composer sits down and plays a orchestra type chord on the motif, there is no chamber, no oboes, or trumpets. Yes that’s all samples played together to make a chord. Because he/she did not blow the reeds or horn, does not mean he or she isn’t a musician.

    I know people with no formal training who sample a chord, place it across a software piano roll, and make entire songs drawing in each and every note or step. All samples, all digital, and they make the most amazing music.

    You have composers/instrumentalist with formal knowledge of music theory, and those who sample with no formal knowledge both winning Grammys. I think the instrumentalist with formal knowledge are the only ones who wouldn’t classify computer musicians as musicians today in the 21st century.

    *****

    That was an interesting take on the topic. Below is another set of viewpoints, this time by another follower, Lady The Producer, a producer, songwriter, arranger, trained pianist, and studio engineer.

    Fresh: What got u interested in using sampling as a primary means of composing your music? (If you don’t consider it a primary means, explain to what extent you use it).

    LP: It’s not so much my primary means of sampling because I do a lot of work without sampling, however, I enjoy sampling because I enjoy music. I am a trained pianist, and have dabbled with other instruments too. I’ve always collected old music and I love the idea of being creative in conjoining pieces of another creative piece into something extra special.

    Fresh: What got you interested in sampling?

    LP: Listening to music all my life, and the passion to play and program sound is a drug to me.

    Fresh: What are your thoughts on the history of sampling. How has it’s evolution played a part in music composition to date?

    LP: When I heard a sampled joint for the first time, it was an amazing discovery to my ears! To take a creative piece of music and recreate something even more special is a collaborative effort in my opinion. I call it recycled music. I call it appreciating the value of what the original artists and producers brought to the song. I also think at times, it’s a win-win for both parties involved. Often times old songs are forgotten and revamped into major hits because they were chopped into a new song. As long as the paperwork is right at the end of the day, and all parties are happy, what can be more beautiful?! I’m grateful for the history of sampling, and regarding the evolution…Kanye is one of the big names that made it a commercial art. Personally, as one of my goals, I’d love to get a production deal topped with a hefty sampling budget…talk about the ultimate exploration of music!

    Fresh: What are your favorite tools and current methodologies for sampling in your composition?

    LP: I’m a sista from the hardware era, so I like to touch knobs, push buttons, and scroll through screens while programming my music. I like being made to hear the music and not just see it in a wave form. It’s a certain discipline for me. My preferred tools for sampling is the Roland Fantom X6, Ensoniq ASR 10 and the Beat Kangz Beat Thang Virtual. I’ve also used software titles Ableton Live, and Reason. As for my methods of sampling, I’m different from a lot of cats in the process. It’s not just about snatching a bit of a song and dropping a drum loop over it, and done in 5 minutes. I process every detail of the chop, and I’m very particular about my chops and placement. I don’t use drum based loops to build upon the track. I actually process and play my drums around my chops. I also may play over my chops… the list goes on (can’t give away all my lil’ secrets!)

    Fresh: How do u see sampled based music (loops and samples only) as a means for composing music today with regards to the ease and popularity of such music in popular genres that use it.

    LP: There are some really great companies out there with tons of sounds, plus as we all know, any piece of hardware or software production tool you buy comes loaded with sound samples. I like manipulating those sounds. I don’t use drum-based loops, I create my own. I think with composing music today or anytime, the art of it lies within the creator or producer. I find that many aspiring producers today are seeking the easiest way to produce a track, and it shows in the end result.

    Fresh: Do you think a composer that has no formal knowledge of music, but learned knowledge of computers, digital audio workstation software and the use of samples and loops only, is considered a musician?

    LP: Formal knowledge alone doesn’t make you a musician… you must have a talent first. Also, understanding the depth of the creation process, obtaining your own tricks of the trade, studying and perfecting your craft and being able to ‘play’ and understand music is what makes you a musician in my opinion. You can know your software in and out, even your DAW, but you have to know your music and be able to communicate it. You know immediately when you’ve come across a musician by their sound, and it’s definitely not through a couple loops. To be a musician is an acquired behavior!

    *****

    Very good insight by Lady Producher. It was my intent, in 2010, as a musician who has been writing and composing music from my teenage years, to look at the evolution of sampling in how music is composed today, especially in the urban contemporary and dance music scenes.

    Lastly, for your listening pleasure, is a podcast I did with Todd Kelley, aka The Big La, for a series I wanted to start back in 2007 called Fusion. This podcast, done back in 2007, is an interview I did featuring the history of Todd Kelley, the producer/writer/arranger/podcaster/hip-hop and soul lover, who has leveraged technology in producing his music as well. This is 50 minute interview so be ready for a long one.

    With that, I’ll conclude this series. I hope you’ve found it interesting. It’s given me food for thought…not anything new, but just a wider outlook from other creators words, not just actual articles. I’m much like Lady Producher, still love my hardware (buttons, knobs, LCDs and LEDs – the whole tactile thing in creating and producing music), which (to me) goes hand-in-hand (no pun intended) with my 30+ years as a guitarist, bassist and *somewhat* keyboardist – haha! I love the ability to be able to use samples at the level I choose in my compositions, but find it more difficulty to solely rely on loops and construction kits for a finished product. Be it personal or not, these days, in any way you tend to look at it, it’s the final product that speaks.

    For more on my followers, check out their sites:
    Lady Producher – StudioNoize
    MsTris Beats – MsTris Music
    Todd Kelley
    Sounds and Gear

    Thanks for the read…

    peace,
    Fresh!

    Sampling and Music Composition – A “Fresh” Perspective. Pt 2 – Sampling/Interpolation/Legalities


    Photo Credit: Akai MPC 2500 w/black pads by: ficusrock

    Greetings crew…

    Hope all is well with you. I’ve finally gotten around to Pt 2 of this series. In Part 1, I gave a brief history of sampling and, specifically, the tools used in the early days; and the explosion of sampling in the 80’s and 90’s that was fueled by the music of James Brown. Since then, not only has sampling evolved greatly with the advent of sampling technology, both in hardware and software tools, but it’s also taken on the form of a different kind of sampling – taking a song’s basic arrangement and feel (usually the hook) and creating a new song from it. One example that immediately come to mind in the last decade is Kirk Franklin’ s radio version (remix) of “Stomp”. When this release first hit the airwaves, it was quite noticeable to the listening public that the song’s groove was reminiscent of a very popular song by Funkadelic, namely “One Nation Under A Groove”. The interpolation comes into play as the tempo of “One Nation Under A Groove” (the verse section) was slowed down and the bass track was extracted for the main groove for “Stomp”. Whosampled.com shows a side by side comparison of the two. In this particular case, Kirk took the obtained permission and provided reference and credit to Funkadelic in the liner notes of his release. Before, during, and since then, there have been many instances were permission was not granted, resulting in copyright infringement lawsuits. While I’d venture to guess hip-hop holds the record for the highest count of sampling lawsuits, especially with the landmark case involving Biz Markie’s “I Need A Haircut” sampling of Gilbert Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally”, Kid AdRock of The Beastie Boys claims they hold the first sample lawsuit.

    The laws of copyright infringement in cases like those above span far and wide and, to many, are still open to interpretation. I came across an interesting article (I’m sure there are many more out there) written by an artist on Twitter named Sean Grey. His article Thinking Out Loud: How to Legally Sample Songs For Free, provides some interesting questions for consideration, as well as feedback from other readers. While it’s not my intention to delve into the legalities of sampling in this post, it’s an area with depth that continues to be revisited time and time again. One of many good resources on this subject is here. Disc Makers also recently posted a good article entitled Sampling Safely – A Primer to Avoiding Lawsuits.

    As the late 80’s progressed into the 90’s, Sean “Puff Daddy (bka Diddy)” Combs took arranging and composing based on sampling a step further and actually obtained permission to use the actual masters (not samples or interpolations) of songs to compose songs for releases under his artists Junior Mafia, Biggee Smalls, Little, Kim, Lil Cease, Faith Evans, etc. Popular hip hop songs were produced that used actual hooks from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”, Herb Alpert’s “Rise”, The Police’s “Every Step You Take”, even Jeff Lorber’s classic fusion track “Rain Song”. You may be able to associated each song above with the hit Diddy produced.

    This type of new song arranging and composing hit it very big, and still continues to do so, with the likes of Kirk Franklin using the hook to Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard” for his 2005 hit “Looking For You”.

    The topic matter in this particular post is nothing new. The question I have is, as of late, is there any merit to what I call “gross sampling” (using the actual song itself, (in the case of what Diddy and Kirk have done)? I would submit that there is some skill level, maybe some would say an art, to composing new (and I use the term loosely) songs. What, if any, are your thoughts? As an artist, songwriter, composer, and producer, I have my own but will reserve them until I finish this series.

    In Part 3, I’ll give my perspective on sampling, sample packs, the tons of vendors that make them, the use of them in music composition, and related issues.

    ::: oceans of rhythm :::

    Fresh!

    Location Awareness – GPS can be cool but…..

    Technology…the continuing boon of mankind, especially in the advent of wired AND wireless communication. I use four primary wireless communication devices: A Mac G5 Dual processor desktop and/or Mac G4 desktop, a laptop (Toshiba Satellite and Powerbook G4) with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, my Blackberry Curve smartphone, and an iPod Touch 2G. The creation of the Air Force’s Global Positioning System, or GPS has allowed anyone on the earth to determine exactly where they are on the earth. Since then, many vendors have manufactured GPS-enabled devices to harness this technology. Fast forward to today with the many uses of wireless devices and software applications developed for and embedded into cellphones, pdas, etc and you have the capability to now share with the world a very accurate representation of where you are in a very small envelope of time. Many of you reading this use this “apps” on a regular basis: Brightkite, Ubertwitter, Loopt, and tons of others allow not just people on your social networks, but the entire world, know where you are, depending on how you have your communication prefereneces configured for the location awareness app(s) you use. Many, if not all, of these apps allow you to send maps of where you are located based upon associated latitude and longitude coordinates given by the GPS system. You can send photos with your camera enabled device also associating your location. Frankly, I think it’s a fascinating aspect of communications technology that definitely bares its pros.

    Last year I read a VERY good article in Wired Magazine about an iPhone user who decided to conduct a little experiment using the location awareness capability of his iPhone. The experiment was very interesting and for anyone interested in the social aspect of location awareness, I suggest it as recommended reading…the article is here.

    As freely as it is used, I believe there should also be some thought in how freely one does use it. I’ve heard of many occasions where people tweeted, or otherwise posted there location over some timeframe which yield unfortunate results. One example was a business man who tweeted he was going on a business trip for a week and the location for the trip, only to return home and find his house…..robbed. Coincidence, maybe…but making your location easily aware to the public, along with the ancillary information u provided with it, should at least garner some thought as to what the consequences could be.

    On a related note, I recently read a blog post by someone who I consider a super tech girl. (lol) and fellow Twitter user about how the EXIF data that digital cameras transmit (via wirelessly or not) can include the location and time of where that picture was taken (called “geotagging”) depending on if the hosting site of the pic strips out that data. One negative aspect of this is if the pic contained the outside of your house, or even the inside of it, complete with your VERY expensive belongings….you know where I am going with this. I also came across a great article on Lifehacker about how location awareness can change your life.

    I love technology and embrace it, but the best uses of technology occur with the greatest exercise of common sense! Just some food for thought..stay hungry.

    Thanks for the read….

    peace,
    F!

    Feenin’ for my satellite radio…ugh

    satellite1

    It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, so….hello! LOL.

    For the last week or so, I’ve been in a rental car while my regular ride is in the body shop. While I miss my regular auto and all the amenities therein, I really miss my satellite radio.

    Mannnn….with the variety of programming provided by satellite radio, I really have found out how much I miss it when I start listening to…………urban contemporary radio. I’m really not hatin’ and yes I am post 40 years old but….where… is the talent in today’s urban contemporary R&B??? Somebody? The keyword, I believe, in this phrase is “contemporary”, which in itself (by default) describes the state of today’s R&B…most of it anyway.

    Technology has made it such that anyone with some modest computer skills or (hardware and/or software) can compose music (if you want to call it that, in some instances)…or “beats” (ugh). Ok, a good deal of you reading this know I am a musician. I play three instruments, guitar, bass, and keyboards, in that order. Beats…..are what I know to be the drums and percussions in a song. Me, I like to make “beats” as part of my songs. Am I clownin’ the phrase “beats” (a term that has become all encompassing in computer and electronic music production systems), yeah…I am. I’m clowning it only because making popular music today, especially in the urban circles, has been really watered down and devoid of any true musical knowledge of theory and arranging. Gone (in urban music) is “the band”…the only known remnant of such today would be….The Roots. In no other genre (save genres of electronic dance music which never had bands anyway, except in the early days with the likes Devo, Kraftwerk, etc) of music is “the band” really dead, especially rock and country music. I think that fact draws a direct correlation to the lack of *musical* talent in popular urban contemporary music.

    Is there anything *wrong* with where urban contemporary music has evolved to? No, I don’t think so. I do think that the music has evolved, but incompletely…the “talent” was left behind for the most part. I believe hip-hop has had the greatest evolution of any genre that I have listened to (especially being a listener BEFORE it went commercial radio). The evolution of those in charge of A&R has a great deal to do with where the music is as well. For years the marketing of R&B as long been about what the street says is hot…flash and show vs talent. Long gone are the long multiyear contracts for artists for various reasons, but with that leaves the great anticipation of your favorite artist coming out with a release of jams every year (I know some of u remember this….(wink)).

    The music industry has evolved, as a whole, not necessarily for the best (in my own mind). I don’t think listeners in their 20’s would necessarily agree but, just as I was, it’s what you’re are continually force fed (as is said) or exposed to commercially that you determine as normal, and even good.

    I’m sure my parents and yours would probably expound on the state of music I grew up on as teenager/young adult, in the same way I am in this post. I think the difference here versus then would be the inclusion of actual musical talent in what I was growing up listening to, versus what is prevalent now. There was a surge of “neo soul” that was big, seems like we just came off the “throwback” era of current artists bringing back that true soul sound (I actually like Raphael Saadiq’s “100 Yard Dash), etc…but they don’t appear to be fueled by the record industry with respect to what is “hot” and selling.

    In defense of urban contemporary music, I would never say it takes no talent to create what is in heavy rotation. It does take talent to leverage the technology of recording to manifest the end product, it’s the theory, love and joy of learning to compose on a musical instrument that is lacking. I, too, am an electronic musician as well and love some of the genres that are strictly electronic (hence my features of such on my weekly podcast). I think the advent of technology will continue to make such a desire to learn an instrument diminish as times go by…IF…such a desire is not kept alive through various means (people and programs, etc).

    As for satellite radio and especially internet radio, they both give a welcomed alternative to commercial radio. Couple that with the state of music distribution via the internet, the entire recording industry IS evolving. I miss my XM, not just because I dont have to deal with commercials every 10 mins either. I hope to have my ride back next week.

    What are your thoughts?

    peace…
    F!

    Fusion: Where Music, Technology, and Artist Creativity Intersect

    Coming soon.....

    Hello readers and listeners.

    I trust all is well today. This post is a follow-up to the previous post about the subject of an upcoming podcast I hope to resurrect entitled Fusion. The concept of this podcast came to me via an off the cuff discussion I had a few years ago with a fellow podcaster/recording artist/graphic designer. Both of us, being musicians in our own right, began discussing our backgrounds and influences in making music, which invariably talking about how technology (past and present) played a role taking the music from inner to outer.

    I began to see the different paths he had taken and compared them to mine. I also began to see, along our separate journeys, how there were things we couldn;t *readily accomplish* (but did) that we could easily accomplish now. The conclusion of the discussion led me to develop the concept for this podcast – one that would share the insights of an (generally musical, but not limited to) artist by which they leverage technology to get their art out there – including their journey along the way, their influences etc.

    The format of the podcast is to use an audio interview, very casual but basically formatted, and to just have some fun with it (which is the most important part). Being a techy, I have to include the usual aspects of what kind of hardware/software was/is being used, suggestions/recommendations, tips, etc…but fuse the overall flow with some laid back fun.

    As said, although the general focus is about music (recording, arranging, creating, production, podcasting), every once and awhile, I’d like to include the same concept with regards to web design, photography, etc. All aspects of using social media, Web 2.0 and the like are definitely topics of discussion as well.

    That being said, I’d like to invite all interested in leaving me your Skype ID, Yahoo IM, iChat ID, Grand Central number or even cell or landline number so the audio interview can be recorded to my laptop. Primarily, I’d prefer to do it via net chat, but will consider landline/cell phone interviews down the line (gotta keep it as inexpensive as I can – heh!). If you are interested, feel free to leave your info in the comments section or e-mail me

    Thanks (for your time and interest) in advance…

    peace!
    F!