Tsunami=fail, social media=win!

Ok, so I woke up this morning expecting it to be a normal day, but once I had had my breakfast and remembered who and where I was I did what I always do third thing in the morning, I checked facebook.

Upon checking facebook I was immediately bombarded by warnings that a 1 metre high tidal wave, started by an earthquake in Samoa was making it’s way to Dunedin and would hit at midday. I did some more digging on Twitter and google (I would have looked up the NZ herald if the stupid twats hadn’t made totali remove it from the app store! ) and found several people in my social circle keeping a wether (ha) eye on the online newsmedia, and some who had been evacuated from their houses (who, by the way were doing a much better job than the TV news)

http://twitter.com/#search?q=nztsunami

By about 10:30 I decided to go grab myself a vantage point because hey, if there was a tidal wave that had even the slightest possibility of breaching the seawall I wanted to be there when it happened! Owing to my giving up on the concept of radio back in 2004 I do not have a connected antenna in my car, so I was just relying on the phone for information. I staked out an empty space on Cliffs Rd, waiting for the world to end and checking my phone every half hour in between playing solitaire. On the third time I checked, I found out the inevitible, that Civil Defence had picked up the wave of the New Zealand coast…and it was a whopping 40cm high, and consequently the warning/alert had been cancelled.

So the tsunami of my dreams (and one of my friends dreams also, apparently) was a massive letdown, but it offered me a microcosm of how social media can be used to a) inform people about what’s going on through the combined efforts of the crowd and b) generate a load of hype, making a tsunami out of a spring tide, as it were. I really like the idea of everyone being involved in informing the world in some way, and at the same time I think it’s paramount to exercise discernment in what you read/see/hear, and not just take everythign at face value, but in this case the whole exercise was really quite fun. Now to sit back and wait until the real one comes…

iPhone applications, page one (hopefully I got it right this time)

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Simple enough, two-or-three sentence descriptions of the iPhone/iPod touch apps I use and why I like them. I have nine pages, so I’ll spread this out over a few entries.

Safari + Mail
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Both came with the phone. Safari is the only standalone internet browser I’ve seen for the hpone, and I’m pretty sure Apple wouldn’t allow anotehr one (though firefox for iPhone would be some feat!) Mail is simple, but it does the job for me. Pick up email from my work, and my gmail address, lets me send messages 🙂

Facebook

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The most popular free app on the store. Shows how crazy about facebook everyone is. I’ll write an entry about social netwroking sometime which will include some more detail about this app. If you don’t think it’s that good, you probably don’t have version 3.0. It’s a huge improvement!

Messages

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does what it says on the tin. some countries (New Zealand included) make heavy use of text messages, and we’ve been able to MMS for years 😛 😛 😛 😛

PicPosterous

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Goes with this blog to enable picture posting without using email. Creates a good album template for photos on the blog. That’s about all it does at this stage, though it’s be nice to see some more functionality in newer versions

Tweetie

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Twitter. You love it or you hate it. I’m not a twitterholic, but I can definitely see it’s potential. This application does all the stuff I want it to do (adding photos to tweets, manages multiple accounts, read and reply to direct messages, look at trends) and it’s pretty no-nonsense as far as the interface goes.

Squeezer

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It’s probably worth mentioning that I have a row of applications dedicated to social networking (except that facebook isn’t on it). Squezer is simply a URL shortener for the iPhone. You can use bit.ly, to.ly, is.gd, or RFly.me to shorten your address (which you paste in from wherever) then tweet it or send it to facebook straight from the application. Simple, but effective 😀

Mobile Music Messenger

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Since they don’t sell last.fm in the New Zealand App store (note to Apple. Localization WILL HURT YOU EVENTUALLY!), I’ve gone and found something better. Basically it’s what Squeezer does, but for the music you’re listening to. You can tweet it or send it straight to facebook within the app, and it includes a link to more info about the song. If you see my status say I’m listening to somehting from TWiT, cnet, or NPR this is probably where it came from

Maps

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Built in application. I’m so glad I have a phone that does this now, after google maps on my old Nokia 5700 I dodn’t think I’d ever get to again. It was so handy for on-the-fly directions (yes, I am aware of the ‘do not use while driving’ warning, that’s why I pull over when I use it)

YouVersion Bible

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I like this app above the others on the store for three reasons. One, it may be on a screen, but it’s very easy to read. Two, you can download several different translations in case you get into one of those theological debates. And three, you can search for any word or phrase in the bible and it’ll take you to it (depends on how good your memory is though.) Also includes a chapters of the day function 🙂

Fliq Notes

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I know Leo Laporte recommends EverNote, but I’m deeply let in using both this, and the next app I’m going to talk about. You can file notes by name, date, or category (I choose category) and it’s really easy to create and manage them. There is the added bonus of being able to syncnotes with a PC running matching software, but I have yet to need that.

Done

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To-do lists you can file in the same ways as Fliq notes. You can take a screenshot of your list to use as your wallpaper, but I prefer my If Found wallpaper. Has a badge to tell you how many things you’ve got to do.

Clock

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People complain about the iPhone’s built-in clock, but I like it. Has as many world clocks as you can make (Taylor from FIG kids made 10), as many alarm clocks as you can make (I’ve made 8), a stopwatch, and a countdown timer you can either use with an alarm to time how long your food needs to stay in the oven. or as a sleep timer if you like to leave your music on when you’re going to sleep.

Calculator
It’s the same as the Calculator in Dashboard on the iMac. Nothing more to say…except if you turn the phone on it’s side it turns into a scientific one.

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Fun

Calendar

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Again, everyone complains about this, but I’m one of those people who is willing to hack around the limitations of the built-in calendar. I just make a second event with a list of all the other things I have on that rings at 7 a.m. There kids, that’s how ya do it.

and since not too many people seem to know how to do this, I got the screenshots by pressing the stop button and the sleep button at the same time. Your iThing will flash like someone’s thrown a flashbang, then everything will be normal again

bye.

Lusine’s new album ‘A Certain Distance’ apart from his previous work (see what I did there? :P)

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Right, so it’s been out for *checks claendar* 17 days now, and I’ve only now just put the iPod in the dock and started playing through A Certain Distance, Jeff McIlwain’s latest release under the psuedonym Lusine.

I fell in love with Jeff’s music quite by accident. On sunny day in December two years ago I was in the local Real Groovy store before it shut down *sniff* and they were playing this over the store sound system:

I bought the ‘Podgelism‘ album on the spot and thrashed it in my headphones and my newly acquired car for the next three months. This summer during my fiance’s leave of absence I dug a little (read: a lot) deeper into the McIlwain back catalog, listening through almost all the albums and EPs I simply loves the sounds this guy makes and the way he manipulates them, as well as the intimate, yet expansive atmosphere he pours into his tunes. YouTube doesn’t have a great many examples, but here’s a couple:

Ask You (thanks to ghostlyintl)

Still Frame (thanks to ghostlyintl)

Abaft (thanks to TheSuperInframan)

These and countless otehr songs set the stage for listening to the latest release A Certain Distance

The album opens with Operation Costs which you could say is Classic Lusine. Starting with a lush, wide pad and setting it off with the crispest of crisp upper percussion and the charactersitic rich, deep bassline that makes my iPod dock sound at least twice it’s size. A new slant that’s been taken on this album is towards more vocal use. Serial Hodgepodge, Lusine’s previous album and the remix album Podgelism that followed it both scratched the surface of vocals in a Lusine song with tracks like The Stop and Flat For You, but the tracks on A Certain Distance, inclusing the opener dig much deeper incorportaing full melodies instead of just snippets of vocal

The next track is the first Single off the album, Two Dots, which has already gained airplay on Indiefeed’s electronica podcast. My first impressiom when listening to this track, which I heard about a month prior to the release of the album was that Jeff had hired Minuit’s Ruth Carr to sing the melody, which, while not being fleshed out lyrically, still continues to explore the realms of the lyrically driven song. The vocals are actually performed by  Vilja Larjosto, who I had not heard of until I heard this song. My fiance and I both enjoy this song a lot

Two Dots

Track three, Tin Hat is an instrumental, once again featuring that intimate expanse, and so does Thick Of It, which reintroduces the vocal concept, as well as a synth sound I distinctly remember hearing on Everything Under The Sun

Twilight, the fifth track on the album, and nothing to do with the movie (thanks goodness!) and sees Vilja harmonizing herself on vocals. A nice track, that I can see being put on high rotation in my car alongside Royksopp’s Miss It So Much.

Out of the infinite silence a crisper-than-crisp snare introduces the smooth, but brutal Baffle. On a bigger sound system I (and the rest of my apartment) would feel it through the floor. There’s a bit of guitar work in here. Not quite B308 material, this is much more listenable to the common ear. Although most people’s ears might miss the high (like >6kHz) pitched percussion that takes over as this track progresses, it adds to the intricate detail of the song like silk thread.

The theme of percussive detail continues into what I could have sworn was a rewrite of Make It Easy. It’s actually called Every Disguise, and it’s not too dissimilar to the former, but feels like it’s music for listening to much later in the day, perhaps over a glass of coke waiting for dinner.

The next two tracks are easily my favourites on the album. Double Vision and Gravity play to the breadth of the Lusine ICL sound that I loved in tracks like On The Line and Rush Hour and the depth of the Lusine sound (there is a difference) in tracks like Flat and Auto Pilot. Double Vision is much more piano driven with a more club (or bar) friendly tempo, while Gravity is slower, more intimate, and employs that well-loved vocal snippet technique seen on Serial Hodgepodge. Great great songs!

Crowded room, the tenth track on the album, reminded me of the Cosmophonic album First Flight at first, but then started to adhere to a convention that I thought was only confined to compilations from the likes of Gatecrasher and Godskitchen, the convention of putting the song with the most energy second last on the album. It’s a good one to get down nad have a little boogie to, but you won’t see me doing that, because I’m too self-concious to dance.

I feel a bit sad when I get to the final track, Cirrus. I guess it’s just because of all the albums I’ve been waiting for this year, even above the highly anticipated releases from Mistabishi, Bop and Royksopp, A Certain Distance was the one I was most anxious to hear ( Royksopp’s Junior was a big deal, but I’m waiting for their companion album Senior to come out so I’ll look at the package as a whole). Cirrus is a nice, laid back one to go out on, and doesn’t really give a big sense of finality, which is good, because now I’m keeping my ear to the ground for the remix album 😉