Recently in technology Category

Fiesta Bowl screencaps

I’m sick of seeing shitty Fiesta Bowl screencaps of Cowbell Girl and otherwise. Get the good ones at That is all.

this is why twitter is awesome

So MSNBC runs this stupid fake live shot from “North Pole, Alaska” and a package about elves and technology. This, of course, while Congress debates how best to give our tax dollars to the insurance industry, et cetera. Worse yet, the whole thing was a rerun from earlier on the Today show:

So I fire off this quick missive to the anchor behind the desk at the time:

And this response comes during the next commercial break:

twitter is awesome.

YouTube gave me the b& hammer


So you might recall a little project of mine known as “Classic Hits by Microsoft Songsmith.”

It is no more. YouTube deleted my account. Interestingly, they did not do it because of the Classic Hits By Microsoft Songsmith. They did it because Major League Baseball forced them to. Why?

In April of last year, I uploaded a short clip of Aki Iwamura hitting a game-winning home run against the Red Sox. It sat there, quietly labeled “Aki” for more than a year, until “MLB Advanced Media” found it and brought the YouTube banhammer down upon my head.

So that’s why none of my YouTube videos are working. Maybe eventually I’ll have the time to re-upload them and change all the URLs. Maybe.


Two of my friends are at concerts at the moment. One is a Green Day show, the other is Bruce Springsteen. They’re both live-twittering them, which is making me wish they were each at the opposite concert. Pissy tweets are far more amusing.

One million is a lot

So I made this little video and titled it Classic Hits by Microsoft Songsmith: “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

That was three months ago, to the day (when incorporating February’s short month).

And today it went past 1,000,000 views.



LA Weekly wrote about us this week:

YouTube user azz100c has become the most prolific Songsmith remixer, with a channel full of consistently entertaining clips.

Thanks, LA Weekly!

Brainy stuff

David Post wrote a very extensive article about my Microsoft Songsmith work and copywrite implications on Volokh yesterday.

urban legends

So that whole “freeze a dead hard drive to bring it back to life” trick? It works. Or at least it works until the drive warms up, which in my experience, is after about two minutes.

The wonderful Target Drive Mode built into Apple’s computers for the last ten years or so means that I have been doing the following every 12 hours:

Take dead Macbook hard drive out of freezer Put drive into my Macbook Turn Macbook on, connected to Grapefruit Gal’s Macbook COPY EVERYTHING AS FAST AS YOU CAN Loathe the inevitable clicking sound Clicking sound arrives Turn my Macbook off, pull hard drive, place back into freezer

Well, this sounds familiar

Last night’s Academy Awards telecast tried some new things. Most importantly (to us) they swapped out longtime musical director Bill Conti for the accomplished Michael Giacchino, who has scored things like Lost.

His plan? To take traditional musical themes, extract the melodies, and then put the rest into a completely different genre. Sound familiar?

Even better: Giacchino doesn’t know how to conduct — he writes his music by humming into a computer.

Ladies and gentlemen, Microsoft Songsmith was at work before your eyes last night. And you didn’t even know it.

“Nightswimming” by R.E.M. is one of my favorite songs — period. Here’s what it would sound like if instead of Mike Mills’ piano playing and John Paul Jones’ orchestra, Michael Stipe had simply sang into Microsoft Songsmith.

Today’s Classic Hit by Microsoft Songsmith is an actual Classic Hit! Here’s Elvis Presley, The King himself, face to face with The King Of Cheese, Microsoft Songsmith. Enjoy!

Fix your RSS feed, Obama

The White House has a blog. And I think this is pretty cool, given that the previous administration’s level of technology familiarity began and ended with a Big Buck Hunter arcade unit.

But they seem to be using a software platform that is not sending out RSS 2.0-compliant XML. Instead of creating a new entry designate, it’s appearing to use the same GUID for each entry. Which means that when NetNewsWire receives an update to the RSS feed, it uses its “changes” function to apply the new news item to the old one. Which results in some rather hilarious typography. See this screenshot.

So the past is partially blind, and they’re busy using what used to be my money. Sounds about right!

The British podcast Sonic State covered Songsmith yesterday. It features such wonderful words as “gobsmacked.”

Also, one of the guests drinks in the same pub as Noel Gallagher, and said he was going to download my Classic Hit by Microsoft Songsmith: “Wonderwall” by Oasis and play it for him, though he admitted it might get him… I forget the word, but it was some cheeky British term for getting your ass kicked.

They also describe my Classic Hit by Microsoft Songsmith: “White Wedding” by Billy Idol as “Brilliant” — but Linus Torvalds already said that.

Listen to the Sonic State podcast here.

Today Microsoft Songsmith takes on one of the classic hits of 1980: “We Got The Beat” by Go-Go’s. Did you know that Belinda Carlisle contributed very little actual writing to the Go-Go’s songs? Of course you did: the real artistic genius in that group was Jane Wiedlin.

Anyway, here’s some steel drums, bongos, and wood blocks.

Today Microsoft Songsmith takes on “Shock The Monkey” by Peter Gabriel. This is one that WNYC’S Soundcheck episode delved into pretty deeply. They liked it, saying it forces you to really listen to the song in a new way, and perceive some of the emotional value lost from the 27 years of commidification at the hands of pop culture.

Okay, those are my words. Here’s the video.

Take two of Microsoft Songsmith frontin’ and maxin’ with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Post coming later with a publicity update. WNYC in New York City covered us yesterday for about 20 minutes. It was freakin’ awesome.

I don’t know if No Doubt’s “Hella Good” is a Classic Hit. I do know that Songsmith turned it into something from Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time (the Lost Forest theme, I think) as performed in an auto repair shop… in Osaka.

Another day, another Songsmith. I kind of like the groove Microsoft Songsmith put together for this track. I wonder what Pet Sounds would sound like if Brian Wilson had been given today’s technology.

Probably not like this.

Another new Classic Hit by Microsoft Songsmith. Michael Jackson told me to show him how FUNKY STRONG is my fight. So Songsmith gives you STRONG FUNK.

Download the mp3

I apologize. I am so far behind on posting these here.

It’s no secret that polka is one of my favorite musical genres. So here’s Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” as sent through Microsoft Songsmith. I think it does an amazing job. As a polka.

Download the mp3 here

You asked for it, you got it. There will be a series of these, but here’s the first one: Rick Astley, Microsoft Songsmith, and metal. BITCHIN’!

Download the mp3

You’ve probably been calling them THE Eagles this whole time. Microsoft Songsmith renders Hotel California a club for alternative lifestyles. Enjoy.

I’m always finding out about these things way too late. NPR ran a feature on the Classic Hits by Microsoft Songsmith series this afternoon during Day To Day (segment E if you’re that curious)… all your favorite hits were featured.

Thanks to Alex Cohen for, uh, recognizing my brilliance. You can listen to the segment on NPR’s handy Flash player.


We’re back with one of my favorite creations: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, which Microsoft Songsmith managed to turn into a Bob Seger song. Seriously, this would fit perfectly on Stranger In Town.

Download the mp3

We went over 1,000,000 channel views today, roughly 925,000 of which came in the past seven days. That’s better than your average cable drama, so I’m happy. Here’s celebratin’ with one of my favorite songs, ever. Weezer, “Buddy Hollly,” and Microsoft Songsmith come together to make gloriously creepy babies.

Download the mp3

Some have called it “Hillbilly Idol.” Others, “Shotgun White Wedding.”

I call it hilarious. Microsoft Songsmith does wonderful things with Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.”

Download the mp3

This features a 909 and I then realized that The Postal Service uses 909s in a lot of their songs.

So, basically, this is what it would sound like if The Postal Service covered “Tom Sawyer” by Rush. Or if Geddy Lee had sung into Microsoft Songsmith. Either way.

Download the mp3

Trying to catch up with the YouTube action… here’s what happened when I sent the vocals to “Creep” through Microsoft Songsmith. It makes the Radiohead song even… more effectively creepy.

Download the mp3

Daft Punk vs. Adam Freeland - AER OBAMA

This is the most amazing video I’ve ever seen. How it escaped me for a full week is a mystery.

Daft Punk vs. Adam Freeland - “Aer OBAMA” from Gold Greendot on Vimeo.

Microsoft Songsmith takes on another classic Marvin Gaye hit from 1968 today, with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” in the style of.. wow, I have no idea. It’s just noise.

Download the mp3

People like us, they really like us

People who have talked about my work with Microsoft Songsmith lately:

The London Guardian:

But it turns out that YouTube’s azz100c is having fun with the program. Songsmith is a bit like karaoke meets Jive Bunny, the sort of record that can clear whole neighbourhoods of anyone with the least bit of musical taste. Basically, you “sing” any old rubbish and Songsmith provides an appropriate backing track. But it turns out that the program, launched at CES, does have a use. You can produce naff backing tracks for pop classics and run them behind the original video, to humorous effect. Roxanne, by The Police, is a typical example (above).


Who knew “Just What I Needed” was such a sad song? I mean, it’s a sad/angry song. But not this sad.

Spreeblick (in German):

The wonderful Autopopmaschine Song Smith. YouTube users azz100c has extracted vocals known pop songs and song Smith can do the rest. The results are terribly beautiful, terrible plastic songs that are super safe in the next Microsoft Commercial make. Because they are so good fit for the company. Until now there is Oasis’ “Wonderwall” in the UmtzUmtzKirmestechno version, “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye as Schunkelpop, “Long Train Runnin ‘” by The Doobie Bros in test-tube radio, The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper “in the solo entertainers blues version, and very bizarre: The Police” Roxane “in the solo entertainer-merengue remix.


The slowdown before the verses start again = best.

Yes But No But Yes:

I’ve been following the emergence of a wonderful genre - Songsmith redoing classic tracks. If you haven’t heard about it, Microsoft’s new Songsmith software takes any vocal track you create and automatically generates a backing track. While it’s meant for kids to put music to their singing, enterprising individuals have been isolating vocal tracks from classic rock songs, feeding them into the software, and capturing the output. It’s a very twisted type of artificial intelligence. Forget Terminators, this is the way Skynet will take over the Earth.

There’s more to come, kiddos. I think this is the closest Entertainment Weakly will ever come to appearing in Entertainment Weekly.

Microsoft Songsmith was brutal to the Beatles this time around, making “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” even more of an assault on the senses than it was back in 1967.

Download the mp3 here

Microsoft Songsmith gets romantic today with its interpretation of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars.

Download the mp3

Microsoft Songsmith continues to astound, impress, annoy, and inflict ear pain. Upon being fed Sting’s vocals from “Roxanne,” Songsmith spat out a weird amalgam of Latin/Reggae. Strangely, the YouTubers seem to like it.

Download the mp3

One of my rules for importing vocal tracks into Microsoft Songsmith is that I use whatever the default music style is when the program first starts.

And that is how you end up with a techno version of Oasis’ 1995 hit “Wonderwall.”

Download the mp3

“Long Train Runnin’” is my favorite Doobie Bros. song, and one of my favorite songs of all time. This is, undoubtedly, because it is played relentlessly by the Ohio University Marching 110, the Most Exciting Band In The Land.

This is the vocal track (technically, the lead vocal + background vocal) from the 1973 recording of Long Train fed into Microsoft Songsmith. Songsmith does less well with this material than it did yesterday’s.

Download the mp3

So Microsoft released an application called Songsmith. You might know it from the goofy commercials where the little girl sings some goofy song she wrote into the computer, and magically Microsoft spits out a complete song. It’s actually kind of a neat concept, but I was curious to see how well it worked.

So I took the vocal track from Marvin Gaye’s 1971 recording “What’s Going On” and fed it into Microsoft Songsmith. This is the result. To be honest, I’m actually a bit impressed.

There will be more of these to come.

Download the mp3 here

Woody Paige Chalkboard Generator

I wanted to learn PHP, so I created the Woody Paige Chalkboard Generator. Feel free to play with it. It's in early beta stage, expect adjustable sizes, fonts, etc soon.


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Sometime over the weekend, this blog had its 100,000th visitor. So whomever you were, thank you, and thank you all. If my logs are any sign, my 100,000th visitor came here after googling one of the following:

"ron oester"
"creation museum slideshow"
"starter jackets"
"celtics cheerleaders"


"ross mckeon"
"gta back to future 2015 police car location"
"furnace on china november"
"james dungy death homosexual"
"the soilders that looked after the napaleon on saint helena during the war is there name list"
"drunk girls pooping on the street"
"throwing distance catcher to 2nd base math" -- glad to be of help
"mission statement for ballreich's potato chips"

and if it was you who googled one of these, no thanks to you at all

"my parents are aliens"
"ass napkin ed"
"guys on guys porn sports"
"gothic girl holding hands with guy"
"corruption of lol"
"ohio hooter girls in pantyhose"

Stranger things have happened

Fark Headlines were a category on last night's Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions episode. I DVRed it, shot the HD feed to my MacBook, and uploaded it to YouTube.

Now I'm winning "Honors" for "most watched" and "most favorited."

Honors. For a video. That I recorded off TV.

My, how far Fark has come from the days we screwed around in people's backyards and basements doing vaguely illegal things.

Welcome home, Discovery

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Space Shuttle Discovery is home after a 15-day mission considered one of the most challenging and heroic in NASA's history.

It's exciting to read the observations of individuals who were able to experience Commander Pam Melroy's ship return to Earth, either visually or sonically and sometimes not even knowing why.

That's the mystery, and that's what makes the space program so amazing. Contemplate for a while the magic of an essentially unpowered vessel being piloted from orbit across North America and landing perfectly in Florida.

We've become somewhat desensitized to the magic of space flight, even in the shadow of Challenger and Columbia. STS-120 completed some pretty amazing things: a stunning repair spacewalk, the installation of a new ISS module, and the return to Earth of a man who lived half a year in space.

No, we don't have permanent living modules on the moon. No, we haven't been to Mars. Yet to consider what we do with what we have, in the course of human history on this planet, it's pretty badass. And I'm still caught up in the mystery.

Meme progression

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Aeonite and I were in serious conversations once about writing a book on memes. I think it's fascinating, but in many ways, what's more fascinating than the meme creations is how they promulgate themselves through the internets.

For example, take our friend the Miss Teen USA South Carolina (or whatever permutation of her name is proper). This dumb slag (her name is Lauren Upton, not that anybody will ever remember that) said some stupid things on television on August 24th, which is five days ago.

That was Friday night. On Saturday, Postgame Heroes posts the YouTube link. It blows up from there, appearing on Fark and Deadspin and other sites over the weekend. On Sunday night I start getting the "have you seen this???" emails. The radio morning show guys ran with it Monday afternoon, and then the sports talk radio guys (who are kind of slow) got to it Tuesday morning, and then Tuesday night I started getting the links on Facebook and Myspace (have you seen this???)

And now the older people I know are emailing the link to me today. It's now Wednesday, five days after the event. Have I seen this???? Yes, only about a million times now. But the way these things weave themselves around is fascinating to me. If there was something so purely made of fail like Miss Teen USA South Carolina and I didn't know about it for a week, I'd probably kill myself.

Lulz is a corruption of LOL


Today might be the greatest day in the history of the internets, even better than Chocolate Rain or TayRolling, because last night Fox 11 in Los Angeles spent five minutes investigating Anonymous.

(Click through to the post if you read via RSS/Bloglines, YouTube video embedded.)

Oh, that which could be said about the Internet menace that is Anonymous. This certainly has been quite a week for Anonymous, what with Chocolate Rain being on the front page of YouTube and the whole Fox News nonsense. In fact, it's been an interesting week for the continuing war between Fox and anonymous.

Just keep in mind two things:

Lulz is a corruption of LOL, and

Hassles and frustration

We've been trying for several days now to migrate to the new server. Most of this is nerdage, but the problems result from the following:

1. The newest version of Debian (and Ubuntu) ship with Apache 2.2, which is not out-of-the-box compatible with FastCGI, which is pretty much a requirement for Movable Type (and Rails, which the rest of EW is going to be running). You can recompile Apache to make it work, but the fixes posted on the web all fail when I try them.

2. The next option is using Lighty, but I can't get it to work with FastCGI either. It just keeps failing and the web fixes don't seem to make it work either.

3. I tried using NginX with a Mongrel cluster, and that didn't work either.

My roommate's boyfriend is a server admin, but he only uses Windows (ha) so he's no help. I'm pretty frustrated as I've sunk many hours into this and can't get anything working. Linux is such an enormous pain in the ass it's amazing anyone even uses it; then again, EW has been running on Debian Drake for two years now and it's been pretty much flawless. We'll keep cracking, and maybe grab an image of Ubuntu Edgy or something that uses Apache 2.0.

Chris Benoit, Wikipedia, and sleuthing

Wow, it only took 90 minutes for this entire post to become irrelevant.

Read the confession from the coincidental death-predictor here.

Note the IP works out to... Stamford. Good job, Joe, you got another confession!

That night I found out that what I posted, ended up actually happening, a 1 in 10,000 chance of happening, or so I thought. I was beyond wrong for posting wrongful information, and I am sorry to everyone for this. I just want everyone to know it was stupid of me, and I will never do anything like this again. I just posted something that was at that time a piece of wrong unsourced information that is typical on wikipedia, as it is done all the time.

Tough luck, buster... or should I say, "Marc."

The media is once again letting you down in covering the Chris Benoit story.

I'm going to drop my usual narrative writing methods to lay out the facts of the past 24 hours or so for you.

1. Wikipedia administrators noticed an anomaly in the Chris Benoit article. Specifically, an anonymous user made the following edit (text from Wikinews):

On a paragraph about an earlier fight: "However, Chris Benoit was replaced… due to personal issues,…", the anonymous editor added " stemming from the death of his wife Nancy." The edit was reversed just under one hour later with the comment: "Need a reliable source. Saying that his wife died is a pretty big statement, you need to back it up with something."

This edit was made twelve hours before police found out about the deaths.

On Wednesday night, Wikinews starts investigating the story.

2. Fox News picks up the story from Wikinews and puts it on their own website as an "Exclusive." They report it on Fox News Channel as a "Fox News Exclusive" and subsequent articles on the discovery have cited Fox News. This is incorrect. Wikinews broke the story and deserves all citation hereforth.

3. The IP of the user who made the edit sources back to a Cablevision cable modem in Stamford, CT -- where the headquarters of the WWE is located.

4. A user at that IP has made a number of edits on Wikipedia, nearly all of them to wrestling-related articles and nearly all of them vandalism.

5. The one "constructive" edit was to the article on Chavo Guerrero, Jr., in which the user reverted a previous vandalism edit.

6. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. has been cited as one of the last people to receive communication from Benoit before he killed himself. The message was cryptic, essentially explaining how to get into the house to discover the bodies.

7. Chavo Guerrero's first call upon finding the dead body of his uncle Eddie Guerrero was to Chris Benoit.

8. One of the non-wrestling-related edits made by the anonymous user was to the page of Naugatuck, CT -- a city roughly an hour from Stamford.

9. The edit replaced the name of the Naugatuck Mayor and Deputy-Mayor with the names Marc Dagz and Visar Tasimi.

10. Marc Dagz and Visar Tasimi are students at the University of Connecticut and are on each others' friends lists on Facebook. Visar has a Myspace too.

11. It stands to reason, thus, that:

a) Someone with previous knowledge of Nancy Benoit's death is a friend of (or is) Dagz or Tasimi and edited the Chris Benoit Wikipedia entry.

b) Someone fitting that qualification chose to vandalize the Benoit entry at the very moment he was likely killing himself/his child.

I find the coincidences too great. I've already emailed Marc and Visar, and hopefully one or both will get back to me. Certainly the police can trace the IP back to the user who made the edit, and that news will come out within a few days. This is where we are with the investigation.

Jimbo Wales dropped into #wikinews on Freenode this afternoon to discuss his appearance on Greta Van Susteren's show later in the evening, then came back on afterward. He's a pretty cool guy, and even edited the entry for Drew Curtis' new Fark book after I mentioned he should read it. He also lives down the road, so he has that going for him. Oh, and being a multi-millionaire and all.

Yahoo! Mail is the new Hotmail

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It amazes me when I read articles like this that show a significant number of people are still using Microsoft's Hotmail. I realize that in the late 90's everyone and their mom had a Hotmail account, but we all abandoned them around 2001 or so when the laughably bad spam filter meant using Hotmail was a time-consuming enterprise as you fought through the spam that had made its way through the sieve-like filter.

It's around that time we all switched to Yahoo! Mail, and a few years later, to the even better Gmail. Yet a lot of us still have Yahoo! Mail accounts, and a lot of our Internet faculties are still attached to them; message board registrations, PayPal accounts, et cetera. Yet Yahoo! Mail is slowly turning into Hotmail. In fact, I take that back. Yahoo! is ALREADY HOTMAIL. Check out my current Yahoo! inbox:

Not a lot of real mail in there. In fact, THERE IS NO REAL MAIL IN THERE. That's my Inbox, folks -- not my Bulk mail. That's all spam that made it around Yahoo!'s filter. Mind you, I can't really recall having spam leak through the Gmail filter on more than one or two occasions. Now, Yahoo! is ALL SPAM. I think I've just given up on trying to deal with it, and I guess I'll have to start the slow process of changing my email accounts -- though that's not always possible for things like PayPal, or at least it's a pain in the ass.

Yahoo! can fancy up their interface, but if the emails themselves are useless, what's the point?


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