The love of knowledge is a kind of madness.
― C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

My Top 10 Albums of 2013

I listen to music almost all day long. I almost can’t work unless I have headphones in. And this year the combo of Pandora plus Amazon MP3 turned out to be a pretty epic combo for discovering and purchasing music. I ended up purchasing close to 60 albums this year. (Why I still feel the need to purchase music is beyond me, but I do.) 

I had a really hard time coming up with a top 10 list for the year because while While I bought close to 60 albums this year, most of it was back catalogue stuff of bands that I discovered thanks to Pandora recommendations or repurchasing some albums digitally that got lost through the different years of format transitions. 

But of the 2013 releases, in no particular order, here’s my top 10 list:

1 - Phoenix, Bankrupt Next to M83, Phoenix is my favorite French band. Of course I think these are the only two french bands I like. 

2 - Cumulus, I Never Meant It To Be Like This A brilliant little Seattle band that’s just getting started. They have a very refreshing sound, you should check them out. 

3 - AFI, Burials A late 2013 release I almost missed this one if it hadn’t been for my daughter. The beginning and end of the album feels a lot like their last few albums but the middle of the album, particularly Heart Stops and Rewind, is especially fun. 

4 - Atoms For Peace, Amok A Thome York side project that shouldn’t be missed. 

5 - White Lies, BIG TV Good British rock, not pop. Solid album. 

6 - Sleigh Bells, Bitter Rivals A guilty pleasure of mine. I’m just a sucker for 2 person guy/girl bands from NY (see also Matt and Kim and Phantogram). 

7 - Bloc Party, The Nextwave Sessions I love this band and when I heard they had unexpectedly released a 5 song EP, I got really excited until I heard that they had also announced they were going on indefinite hiatus. I hope this album wasn’t just breakup sex. Either way it’s really good. 

8 - Steve Jablonsky, Ender’s Game This year was a big year for me getting into soundtracks. I’d always liked writing to Hans Zimmer soundtracks but I specifically remember sitting in the theater watching Ender’s Game and thinking how great the bass line in some of the scenes were and then buying the album as soon as I got home. It doesn’t disappoint. 

9 - Hans Zimmer, The Lone Ranger For a while now I’ve felt like movie soundtracks are the new classical music. And if that’s the case, Zimmer is like the Mozart of movie soundtracks. A very commercialized Mozart but still. Zimmer puts out about 4-6 soundtracks a year and usually one 2 of them are really good, but even among those this one is really good. Probably my favorite of his yet. Man of Steel which he also did, was good, but this was better IMO.  

10 - Michael Giacchino, Star Trek Into Darkness Giacchino usually does big popcorn movies like Transformers, but this was another movie I remember thinking how good the soundtrack was. Not as complex as the previous 2 I mentioned but makes for really good writing music. 

What did I miss? What were some of your top albums?

What a great day. I stayed home with my family, worked out in the morning, fixed my 1969 VW Bug, 3D printed with my kids using a 3D printing pen, grilled hamburgers, wrote 5 blog posts, worked on the final-final edit of my short story and now I’m going to get in bed and read my book. It doesn’t really get any better than this. 

The kids are playing with the 3Doodler 3D printing pen we got for Christmas.

Fascinating Drone Survival Guide

This is a Drone Survival Guide containing “the silhouettes of the most common drone species used today and in the near future,” with each drawn to scale.

Print out and keep handy. 

Fascinating Drone Survival Guide

This is a Drone Survival Guide containing “the silhouettes of the most common drone species used today and in the near future,” with each drawn to scale.

Print out and keep handy. 

He’d heard stories of ruin and blight, but that didn’t prepare Oliver Kearney for what he saw: Prostitutes roaming the streets at 8 a.m., rubble-strewn parking lots overrun with weeds, buildings taken over by bright pink graffiti, the message scrawled on blackboards in deserted schools: “I will not write in vacant buildings.” He took 2,000 photographs his first day. “No other American city has seen decline on this scale,” Kearney said. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime thing you’re going to see.” And he saw it all on a tour.

Detroit’s abandoned buildings draw tourists instead of developers

Dystopian Disneyland. 

Arc: The Future Always Wins | Book Punk

In my view, the best cyberpunk/speculative fiction is based on real trends and real science. The best cyberpunk scares and excites you not because of it’s audacity in the way HP Lovercaft was audacious, but because it is harder to imagine what you’re reading not becoming a reality.
This is why Arc a quarterly publication was so fantastic. Arc is brought to you by the publishers of New Scientist magazine, it brings together the writing of some of todays best speculative fiction writers with some of the best essays in speculative science.

Arc: The Future Always Wins | Book Punk

In my view, the best cyberpunk/speculative fiction is based on real trends and real science. The best cyberpunk scares and excites you not because of it’s audacity in the way HP Lovercaft was audacious, but because it is harder to imagine what you’re reading not becoming a reality.

This is why Arc a quarterly publication was so fantastic. Arc is brought to you by the publishers of New Scientist magazine, it brings together the writing of some of todays best speculative fiction writers with some of the best essays in speculative science.

A Bizarre Petting Zoo Where Robots Replace Animals

Like actual living organisms, Minimaform’s Slinky-like creations react to human touch and interaction. Each animal exhibits a range of emotions that swing from playful to angry to bored to confused based on visitors’ actions. Brush up against one of the robots and it might curl up flirtatiously. Ignore the pet, and it might perform for your attention or give you the cold shoulder.

Truth is stranger than fiction. 

A Bizarre Petting Zoo Where Robots Replace Animals

Like actual living organisms, Minimaform’s Slinky-like creations react to human touch and interaction. Each animal exhibits a range of emotions that swing from playful to angry to bored to confused based on visitors’ actions. Brush up against one of the robots and it might curl up flirtatiously. Ignore the pet, and it might perform for your attention or give you the cold shoulder.

Truth is stranger than fiction. 

Five Quantified Fitness Resolutions For The New Year

In about a week, you’re going to swear up and down to take better care of yourself. But without a realistic menu of activities in mind, you’ll quickly get bored or lose hope. FastCo.Labs decided to look over some of the available tools to draw up Quantified Self fitness resolutions for 2014.

Will you be using wearables to help your New Year’s resolutions?

Five Quantified Fitness Resolutions For The New Year

In about a week, you’re going to swear up and down to take better care of yourself. But without a realistic menu of activities in mind, you’ll quickly get bored or lose hope. FastCo.Labs decided to look over some of the available tools to draw up Quantified Self fitness resolutions for 2014.

Will you be using wearables to help your New Year’s resolutions?


Are You Part of the 3%? [Wearable Survey Results]
Only 3% of US internet users own a wearable device according to Harris Interactive’s December 11, 2013 “Harris Poll”. This isn’t surprising as the majority of wearable users are expected to be early adopters and tech enthusiasts. Wearable technology is still in its infancy albeit the space seems to be growing fast. 
But is mass adoption right around the corner? Not according to this survey. The majority of respondents aren’t sure what to think of this new technology. 36% of respondents are on the fence about how they feel about purchasing wearable devices and 19% were a flat at no. 

Price, utility and privacy concerns topped the barriers that need to be tackled before we see Mom, Sis and neighbor Bill walking around with wearables. 17% would consider the purchase of a wearable device when the price drops. 46% felt there are no real benefits to using a wearable device. And 28% of respondents felt that wearables would make it too easy for others to access their personal information. 
Of those that do see value in wearable tech, keeping themselves informed, connected and more productive topped the perceived benefits.
This survey wrapped up prior to the Holiday break. It’ll be interesting to see the response post-gift and holiday shopping. From a quick review of Twitter yesterday, it looked as though the Pebble smartwatch and Fitbit Force were the most popular gifts to make it under a number of trees this year.  

I find it most interesting that men and women are evenly split, that’s not the case with most tech adoption. Also that 36% of users don’t know what will get them to adopt wearables. 

Are You Part of the 3%? [Wearable Survey Results]

Only 3% of US internet users own a wearable device according to Harris Interactive’s December 11, 2013 “Harris Poll”. This isn’t surprising as the majority of wearable users are expected to be early adopters and tech enthusiasts. Wearable technology is still in its infancy albeit the space seems to be growing fast. 

But is mass adoption right around the corner? Not according to this survey. The majority of respondents aren’t sure what to think of this new technology. 36% of respondents are on the fence about how they feel about purchasing wearable devices and 19% were a flat at no. 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Price, utility and privacy concerns topped the barriers that need to be tackled before we see Mom, Sis and neighbor Bill walking around with wearables. 17% would consider the purchase of a wearable device when the price drops. 46% felt there are no real benefits to using a wearable device. And 28% of respondents felt that wearables would make it too easy for others to access their personal information. 

Of those that do see value in wearable tech, keeping themselves informed, connected and more productive topped the perceived benefits.

This survey wrapped up prior to the Holiday break. It’ll be interesting to see the response post-gift and holiday shopping. From a quick review of Twitter yesterday, it looked as though the Pebble smartwatch and Fitbit Force were the most popular gifts to make it under a number of trees this year.  

I find it most interesting that men and women are evenly split, that’s not the case with most tech adoption. Also that 36% of users don’t know what will get them to adopt wearables. 

(via designersofthings)

showboxpresents:

Showbox Presents:  Happy Holiday Song Countdown!

(We lead you up to Christmas day with a countdown of some Holiday Classics!)

Run-D.M.C. - Christmas in Hollis

A 1987 Christmas Classic! The track samples Clarence Carter’s 1968 holiday song “Back Door Santa”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Joy to the World”. Not to mention the greatest music video ever made! 

Love this song.

Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor because he is the geekiest Doctor. And on Wednesday his brilliant run as the Doctor will be over. 

In my family I am grossly outnumbered here. Actually I’m pretty sure in all the World and definitely on the Internet, I’m outnumbered. David Tennant is most everyone’s favorite (by everyone I mean all the new Doctor Who fans), and for good reason. He’s better looking than Matt Smith (according to my wife and daughter), Tennant has some of the best delivered lines in the whole series (but to be fair I think the writing was slightly better during the Tennant years). But to his credit, David Tennant can deliver a line better than most (and if you have any doubt about that you need to see him as Hamlet).  And Tennant is the Doctor most of the new fans first knew. 

But to me, Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, is more human, he’s more vulnerable. Maybe because he’s the youngest Doctor, he’s the most childlike. In his bow-tie and fez, he’s like a little kid playing dress-up, except when he’s not. Then he’s very serious and intense. 

I think it also helps that they paired him with strong female companions. Rose Tyler always felt like a love sick teenager. Amy Pond was confident and independent. 

His Christmas episodes are some of my favorite Doctor Who episodes of all time. The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe being one of the best. Although, I’ll admit that the Weeping Angels, David Tennant “Doctor Light” episode is probably my absolute favorite, followed by the Christopher Eccelston’s, Empty Child episodes (Are you my mummy?). 

I’m really going to miss Matt Smith. I’m excited about Peter Capaldi, and I’m sure that I’ll love him as much as all the others but I’ll still miss Matt. 

Photo credit: BowTies are Flying Away

petewootton:

longreads:

Longreads Best of 2013: Here Are All 49 of Our No. 1 Story Picks From This Year

Lots of good stuff in here…

More end of year goodness.
betalist:

UserPress is a wiki plugin for WordPress offering sophisticated functionality wrapped in a simple, intuitive interface. What’s more, UserPress offers social networking functionality built specifically for BuddyPress. And best of all, UserPress can easily take advantage of the thousands of plugins already built for WordPress. UserPress is going to share the way you think about collaborative media.
Sign up here

I have literally been waiting for over 5 years for a good WordPress wiki plugin. Yes there have been some available, but they’re prone to security hacks and difficult to maintain and use. Hopefully this one is better.

betalist:

UserPress is a wiki plugin for WordPress offering sophisticated functionality wrapped in a simple, intuitive interface. What’s more, UserPress offers social networking functionality built specifically for BuddyPress. And best of all, UserPress can easily take advantage of the thousands of plugins already built for WordPress. UserPress is going to share the way you think about collaborative media.

Sign up here

I have literally been waiting for over 5 years for a good WordPress wiki plugin. Yes there have been some available, but they’re prone to security hacks and difficult to maintain and use. Hopefully this one is better.

ibmblr:

In the classroom of the future, the classroom will learn, teachers will learn and yes, students will learn. School lunches may or may not be more nutritious. See your life in 5 years…

IBM has always done a really good job pioneering future thinking.

So Santa Claus is totally a Time Lord and his sleigh is a Tardis, right?