Seeing the Back Door Slam at Mercury Lounge


I went to see the Back Door Slam last night at Mercury Lounge with Bruce and some friends. I had never heard of them, but the promise of a new band and a strictly defined 8:30 - 9:15 show time was enough to get me there. The Back Door Slam is a band comprised of 3 kids around 20 years in age from England who think they were born 70 years ago. They play Jazz on electric instraments, they sing with the voice, of a 60 year old black soul singer, and they cover songs from the 1930's, with their own electric rock sound infused. And the sound is phenominal. I'm embedding a video up top because you won't believe who they are when you hear the sound, but to get some samples check out Last.FM, find one or two songs at Hype Machine, watch more videos from Google Video, and buy the album from Amazon when you're convinced.

By the way - the blue boxes you see after the Last.FM and Amazon links are AdaptiveBlue SmartLinks - Adaptive Blue is a semantic web application that brings together a whole picture of the web around single elements on a page, in this case links it identifies to content from one of its trusted sources.

Tim Duncan Cares More About the Team Than Money (Unlike the rest of the NBA)

http://cache.eb.com/eb/image?id=91294&rendTypeId=4 Tim Duncan is reportedly going to accept a $20 million per year contract extension that will keep him on the Spurs until 2012. This is significantly under the max contract he could receive, reportedly up to $10 million less. It's nice to hear an all-star player say that he cares more about finishing his career with his team, and that he wants them to have the flexibility to sign other players in the future. It's nice to hear someone give a little for the betterment of the team, and to show that it's not all about the dollars - not that $20 million per year is anything to scoff at.

Blogged with Flock

Twitter and RSS Beat CNN to the Punch Alerting Me About the California Earthquake

At 11:05 PM EST an earthquake of 5.6 magnitude hit Northern California; as of yet there is no major damage or injury to report.

By 11:17 PM EST there were reports that Twitter was lighting up with first hand documentary about the earthquake.

By 11:24 PM EST I received my first alert via a blog posting noting how much activity was on Twitter about the earthquake.

At 11:53 PM EST CNN published their first mention of the earthquake - 48 minutes after the event, at least 36 minutes after the Twitter community was heavily documenting, and 29 minutes after Google Reader had the chance to index blog articles that had already been written.

Social journal journalism, first hand / mass / personal documentary, leveraging incredibly strong social media tools, is continually showing its strength, its significance, and why it needs to be adopted sooner than later into the mainstream media, as well as through public consumption.


Websites Becoming Like Movie Releases

Tumblr v3

I'm waiting for a new version of Tumblr on November 1st (see above graphic).

I'm waiting for an announcement from Google about a new open social platform on November 5th.

I'm waiting for an announcement from Facebook on a new ad platform on November 6th.

Everyone's making announcements about their announcements to come.

Oh and October 29th Hulu will be (privately) opened. Hulu is Fox and NBC's YouTube competitor. It's really a different beast all together, since there is no user generated content. Instead, it's a syndicated platform to bring their collective content to the web in a major way. Soon you'll be able to choose episodes from shows, watch them in high quality streaming online, and connect to them across a number of platforms. You can't download, you can't archive, but it will be a start of a valuable online television offering from the major broadcast networks. Here is the list of shows that will be available in the beginning.

Hulu embeded video of Heroes episode 5 courtesy of DownloadSquad

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


Scrubs is back tonight (10/25) at 9:30 !!


The best show in TV starts up again tonight.  Scrubs season debute tonight at 9:30 PM on NBC.  I'm also really liking this year: Flight of the Conchords, Weeds, Heroes, and How I Met Your Mother.  (In each case I linked to the top search result, so I guess Showtime doesn't have good SEO in comparison to the other stations)


Ramblings in the middle of the night

I woke up in the middle of the night so I guess I'll ramble

1. I'm doing this because WIRED's cheat on sleep said I shouldn't lay back down until I'm really tired.

2. I went to sleep after midnight, it's 3:45 a.m., and there are 22 new blog posts in my RSS reader - bloggers never sleep it seems.

3. How cheap does the Zune have to get before I buy it for no real reason - $80 for a 30GB refurbished brown Zune now and I'm still balking.

4. The new SanDisk Sansa TakeTV Video Player is a 4gb $100 memory stick that plays DIVX files in HD on your TV with no file conversion. Interesting, and interesting that they chose to put it under their "Sansa" line, which previously covered my mp3 player.

5. My friends and I did a live-auction fantasy baseball draft last night - it turns fantasy basketball into poker and game theory. Somewhat unrelated, Bruce has a pretty hilarious account of the draft.

6. This sure is a different election - TechCrunch is doing interviews with political candidates, Obama and Edwards are twittering (badly), and Myspace & YouTube are airing the debates.

7. The Red Sox are the ALCS champions but the Rockies never lose so it doesn't matter - until the Rockies face Josh Beckett, who also doesn't lose (in the playoffs). I'm pulling for the Rockies I think, but not positive because I'm still bitter about them beating the Phillies so badly.

8. Seeing the chart of the dollar - euro conversion is scary, and doesn't give me confidence in finding an affordable vacation in Europe any time soon.

9. It's past 4 a.m. and Yahoo! Sports didn't update the fantasy football points from yesterday - it's 5 a.m. for baseball and 3 a.m. for basketball - when do football points turn over?

10. The successor to my phone came out - it has windows mobile, a dedicated front keypad, and wifi - I am very jealous, but it is way too expensive.

11. This has killed a half hour, and if I can fall asleep now I'll get 2 full sleep cycles, which is supposedly the right length of time to sleep, so hopefully this helped.


Radiohead "Pay What You Want" Doesn't Stop Pirating


Supposedly in the first week, 1.2 million albums were downloaded from Radiohead's official website in the first week,  at varying "pay what you want" prices (I've heard the average was $5 - $8, but this is all on non-confirmed secondary site surveys).  At the same time, 500,000 people downloaded the album from bittorrent.  So even though it was basically nothing to download the album, people often defaulted to the method they were used to getting the music from.  Was this to get higher quality files, to avoid the hassle of site registration, or just because why change habit when what you do works - until there's a compelling reason to do so?  (And legality isn't a good enough reason for most people.)

Either way it's worth noting that the band only sold six times the number of albums they sold last year - only 300,000.  So the buzz alone from the "pay what you want" exercise paid off in multiples.

Flock is the Facebook / Flickr / Twitter / YouTube / Blogger Social Media Web Browser

Flock, the long-time in development social web browser that I wrote about 16 months ago, finally released version 1.0 of their web browser, a very different product from their beginning. Flock is meant to create a browing experience that is integrated into your social media existence - it merges you with flickr, youtube, facebook, twitter, blogger and more. The screenshot above is what Flock can look like with everything opened - your default homepage, sidebar, and top-bar.
The left bar handles your contacts in your social networks - you can sort by recent updates, or tab to a specific network. In this view you can see recent changes or postings by all of your contacts, as well as all available options for each of your contacts depending on the social network. You can also send links, pictures, and more directly to a particular friend by simply dragging an object from the main browser over to particular person in the sidebar. The top bar handles media streams - the most interesting pictures on flickr, your friends recent photos on facebook, etc. Then the main "home" tab offers you a quick view of your most recently used favorites, news updates via the built in RSS reader, and your friends recently updated media on Flickr, youtube, etc.
Additional features that are interesting - direct upload to flickr, a built in RSS reader, and a blogging tool (which this post is being written in). And the whole browser is built on Mozilla code, so most firefox extensions will be available for Flock.
I doubt many people will rush to download Flock, but I'm sure the heavy Facebook users would love it if they tried to use it. And as with all things social on the web, the more social tools that people use, the more valuable this browser will be.

Blogged with Flock


The Google Social Network (Now and Future)

Today Google opened features on Google Maps that allow users to create a social profile highlighting reviews they've written, maps they've created, and a stream of updates to both. Additionally, the page includes the sidebar that was launched with Google Shared Stuff, a universal bookmarking/sharing service similar to Digg / Del.icio.us that Google unraveled last week. Currently Google Shared Stuff is a confusing product because it overlaps with Google Reader's social features, as well as Google Bookmarks, but since you can email articles, save them, publish them, and even bookmark them to other social networks (Digg for example), it's a powerful social tool. In the mean time, within one week Google has unveiled the beginning of a social network that is part Yelp, part Digg, and potentially much more diverse and powerful. Pretty soon I expect to have all of the items I share from Google products available in one place - when I add a location to my map, when I share a Google Reader item, when I upload a Picasa photo, and more. If this is integrated with Google's recently purchased Twitter Competitor Jaiku, then I will switch to Jaiku. If this all creates a universal sidebar that I can add to Blogger, then my blog will be my ultimate social publishing tool (it is slowly becoming that now, but with a great deal of work and adding of numerous widgets). And if this is all combined with Orkut, Google's popular everywhere-but-the-U.S. social network, then this the a potentially all encompassing social platform. And I'm sure all this will happen relatively soon, since the last week has pointed them in that direction, and they aren't waiting around for me to give them half-fledged ideas on this blog.

A quick shout-out - I'm writing this while sitting at Gregory's Coffee shop on Park Ave, and while I am resisting the urge to drink coffee, it smells amazing. I'll have to remember to come back!


Outside.in Local Blogging

Since several of the last few posts I've been interested in writing have been about New York City activities, I wanted to find a way to bring together the local events that I've highlighted. Given that most of these events are found on the web I wanted to give back to contribute myself to the local New York City blogging community, highlight photos that I've taken around the city, etc. Outside.In is a local blogging community that aggregates posts around a map and specific geo-targeted locations. By adding a map link or a zip-code tag, you can have your posts automatically imported into the Outside.in community. I haven't fully explored the Outside.in website, but already I can see on my map the recent posts I've tagged, as well as lists of posts that have been about the same location.

Cardinals Stadium and Arch - My Most Popular Flickr Photo

st. louis cardinals stadium and arch

A picture I took of the Arch overlooking the new St. Louis Cardinals baseball stadium has become popular on Flickr - 7 people have tagged it as a favorite in the last 3 months, and over 700 people have viewed it. The photo was taken with my Canon SD700 IS, using color isolation to highlight the reds in the stadium, an homage to the Cardinal.

Other color isolation photos I've taken can be found here.


Used Book Cafe

I wanted to mention this before I forget.  The Pandora meet-up was held at a really cool place that I'd never heard of - the Housing Works Used Book Cafe.  The Used Book Cafe is a completely volunteer book store that sells only donated books.  The end point is "100% of profits go to Housing Works, which is a non-profit organization that provides housing, health care, job training, advocacy, and more to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS."  If you're looking for a way to help out the a good cause beyond just cutting a check, you can donate books or donate time directly at the book store.  It's also great place to hold an event, as the Pandora meet-up proved, with a coffee shop, open area, and a good sound system.

[where: 10012] map it


Gmail storage is increasing, now what about Picasaweb?


Gmail Storage is increasing more rapidly starting today:

"Gmail just revised their storage estimates for the next 1449 years. Googlified
dug around in the code and discovered that you’ll be getting a tiny
increase to 2912MB on Friday, 4.2GB by October 23, 6GB by January 4
2008, 42GB by 2038 and 2.70266701 × 1072 TB by 3456. Google has since
since confirmed by on the Gmail blog that the counter’s speed has been increased." [via Mashable]

Now what about Picasaweb?  Man I wish Google had bought Flickr and integrated it with Picasa.  Picasa has better geo-tagging, desktop integration, and video, but Flickr has better social features a better web design, and unlimited storage for $25 a year.  And we need all of this in one place.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Pandora and the Music Genome Project


Yesterday Ari and I attended a talk by Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora and the Music Genome Project (the talk was held at Housingworks Bookstore Cafe, which I'll cover in another post). 

To step back for those not familiar with either, the Music Genome Project is an attempt to break down music into hundreds of attributes, a musical taxonomy, in order to have a complex database of what specific elements within a strong attract a listener.  Once a characterization of a listener's genome interests is developed, more accurate predictions about what a user likes to listen to can be made.  Pandora is a streaming radio interface built on top of the Music Genome Project that lets you 'kick off' a radio station with a song of your choice and then as you rate positive or negative, the radio player tailors around the very specific characteristics that they notice you prefer over time.  Most people that have used Pandora at all find that it is usually exceptionally accurate at achieving its goal.

Tim gave us the entire history of how Pandora came to be, starting with his failed career as a musician, and the years he was completely bankrupt during the dot-com bust.  He developed the idea for the Music Genome Project when he was working as a film composer, trying to pick out soundtrack songs while a director gave him the attributes of a song he felt needed to fit into a scene.  Some additional interesting facts came out about Pandora during the talk:

  • Currently there are 500,000 songs in the Music Genome Project, growing by 15,000 each week at this point
  • 50 trained professional musicians spend up to a half hour per song breaking each song down into 400 classifications
  • Pandora is the single largest referrer to Amazon and iTunes for music sales
  • At peak during the day up to 1.5% of all global internet bandwith is being used by Pandora

He also told us about the recent issue with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act coming to an end and the proposed fee increase on radio streams that was expected to crush internet radio.  When this happen, Pandora asked their users to write their senators and request action be taken against this.  During the first week, 400 thousand fans called or faxed their congressman, and overall 1 million calls or faxes (out of 1.4 million total) hit congressman overall.  Because of this a hold was put on the bill and new negotiations are currently taking place.  This is apparently one of the quickest and most effective grass routes political movements ever (which is a larger discussion).

Overall the talk, which was more an active Q & A by the audience, was fantastic, and I definitely recommend you attending next time he comes to town if you are interested at all in music or internet startups.

[where: 10012] map it


k b skobac mobile (from mofuse)

luck you now my website is available as a mobile WAP site!

you can bookmark http://m.mofuse.com/kskobac on any mobile phone and read the k b skobac blog in any mobile WAP browser. This is brought to you by a really cool and simple service called Mofuse.

(I'm fairly certain this will never get used but I figured why not)

David Belle and Parkour in New York City

This weekend the New Yorker brought David Belle, the creator of Parkour, to New York City for a class, interview, and demonstration.  If you haven't heard of Parkour before, you've probably seen it in the opening sequence of the last James Bond movie.   The jumps he performs, the balance and mastery of movement seem to almost defy gravity.  David Belle created it as an art form which he describes as akin to yoga and meditation - far from the extreme sport it appears to be in the highlight reels and movies.  Since James Bond it's picked up popularity in the United States, but he's been doing it for 20 years.  The demonstration was mostly New York City kids that took his class the day before, but even elementary moves are impressive.  Then David Belle took a flying leap across some pillars about 3 stories above the ground (the videos don't do the danger of this justice, but if you've been outside the Jacob Javitz Center you will be able to appreciate it).  These aren't enough

Check out more parkour videos here

[where: 10001]


Apple Should Expand on Music On-The-Go After the Starbucks iTunes Partnership

I didn't think I'd care, but after standing in line for 10 minutes this morning at Starbucks this morning and hearing a few songs that I'd love to listen to later but probably won't remember to download when I get home, I was jealous of the people who have iPhones or iTouch iPods and could download and enjoy the music on the fly. Still, it's so specific - only 1 million people with iPhones, and how many of them will use it at Starbucks? There really needs to be an open standard that stores can implement to allow their actively playing music to notify mp3 players of what song is playing and give the offer to purchase it. More than Starbucks I hear songs I like all of the time in clothing stores (GAP, American Eagle, etc), and often its impossible to even find out what the song is. The more places this music discovery and purchase feature is offered the more valuable and attractive as a sale point it will be. Also, if this was an open standard for all wi-fi enabled players, maybe we'd see wi-fi become a standard feature in product build moving forward.


Radiohead's Innovative Method of Selling Music


By now this is old news but just in case - Radiohead announced this week that they'll be selling their new album in an innovative way - by letting their fans set their own price.  Radiohead eschewed the record labels and  is offering fans the opportunity to  buy DRM free mp3's directly from their site, at whatever price they choose.  If someone wants the mp3's for free, that's fine as well.  The value of this of course is that there's no incentive to pirate music, that fans who care to support the band will be able to pay directly to the band whatever they value the music as, and the music is high quality, with no restrictions.  For the hardcore fans, Radiohead is selling a box set for $80 that includes extra tracks, a book, and a vinyl copy.
Radiohead has always done things their own way - they aren't offered in subscription services (although with this model, now why not?) for example.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, but its great to see a new business model, a new music selling model, and a forward thinking, innovative band.  Now in the comments tell me who's paying what?  Personally I would pay the amount for a CD that the artist makes when they go through a label, so if their cut is $6 out of the $12 CD cost, that seems like a fair cost.


A Tour of the Flatiron District

On Sunday morning we went on a walking tour of the Flatiron District provided for free by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.  Before hand I would not have believed that I would be interested in spending 2 hours walking around just a few blocks, but it ended up being a great experience.  The tour guide kept our attention as she poured out the smallest details about nearly every building around Madison Square Park, several of which she worked in for many years.  Until this weekend it never occurred to me to consider why Madison Square Gardens is not near the park, but now I know that MSG is actually the third incarnation of the building, the first two of witch were on the park edges.  I also had no idea that Madison Square Park was once the major park in Manhattan, more than several times its current size before two major downsizes.  It's amazing how much there is to learn about the city we walk through every day, how much history and story - and I hope to do more soon.

If you want to see some shots from the tour directly on a map as we walked it, check out my whole Flickr album, and zoom in close on the map.

[where: 10010]

The Phillies Make The Playoffs!!


For the first time in 14 years (1993 when they went to the World Series behind Dykstra and Daulton) the Phillies are back in the playoffs - congratulations to an amazingly resilient and determined team.  Utley, Rollins, and Howard put up MVP caliber numbers.  Cole Hamels was a star in his first full season as a pitcher.  Burrell had a come-back second half.  The entire team is filled with players that inspire love for the game, dedication, and the will to win.  Jason Stark's ESPN article wraps it up beautifully.


And the pitcher to anchor us on the last game of the season, Jamie Moyer - 44 years old, the oldest starting pitcher in the Majors - also the only starting pitcher on the Phillies to play all season.  More importantly, he grew up a Phillies fan, he cut school on the day they had the World Series championship parade, and he's the only one on the Phillies today even old enough to remember them back in 1980.

This has been an amazing month of baseball and I can't wait for it to continue!