Zaba Grace, Marla Sokoloff and Debra Arlyn (CD Baby is cool!)

Got this unexpected email from CDBaby.com suggesting Zaba Grace and Marla Sokolof. A long while ago I bought a bunch of CDs from them. They offer a lot of indie artists. Anyways, they got a couple cool new features, one is streaming previews and the other is unDRM'd MP3s. So I can check the songs out and get them immediately w/o copy protection! Sugoi! Nice.

I'm also going to start blogging the new music I discover starting…uh…now…

means I like it a lot

  • Zaba Grace, My Own Skin – Edgy pop. A little like Nina Gordon. Rock guitar rhythms.
  • Marla Sokoloff, Grateful – Rock (teen?) pop. Avril-esq. but a little softer.
  • Debra Arlyn, Complicated Mess and Thinking Out Loud – Colbie Callait-esq.

and catching up (by scanning what's on my N800 :-) I'll try to stick with lesser know artists…

Pop-Punk:

  • All Time Low

    – High energy rock with good melodies. Fallout Boy.

  • Boys Like Girls

    – High energy rock with good melodies.

  • Forever the Sickest Kids – High energy rock with good melodies
  • Hawk Nelson – High energy Christian rock. (Yup, that's what I said.) Just discovered these guys.
  • McFly – Melodic high-energy rock. They were the band in Linsay Lohan's movie Just My Luck.
  • Metro Station – Catchy tunes
  • Motion City Soundtrack, Even if it Kills Me – High energy rock with good melodies
  • Plain White T's – I hate their name for some unknown reason. Guess it sounds like a rap group to me.
  • The Click Five

    – “Jenny” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

  • The Pink Spiders, Teenage Graffitti – High energy rock
  • We The Kings

    – Awesome album.

Pop:

  • Alexz Johnson – Songs from the TV show Instant Star. Pop rock fluff, but I like it.
  • Annie, Anniemal – Quirky pop
  • Chantal Kreviazuk, “This Year”

    – I love this song. From the Serendipity soundtrack CD, but I can't remember hearing it in the actual movie.

  • Clea -Dance pop
  • Emma Roberts -Teen pop
  • Joanna – Teen pop
  • Kaci – Teen pop
  • Karmina – Pop duo
  • Kate Nash – Quirky pop
  • Kate Ryan
  • Katelyn Tarver – Teen pop
  • Katie Armiger
  • Kristy Frank – Teen pop
  • Kyler, A Flower Grows in Stone – Strong voice
  • L.A.X. Gurlz, “Forget You” – Catchy pop dance song. Not sure they ever released a full album
  • Lene Marlin, Playing My Game – Reminds me of Donna Lewis
  • Leona Lewis, Best Kept Secret –  R&B
  • M2M, Shades of Purple

    – One of my all-time favorite teen pop albums

  • Marie Digby, Unfold – Michelle Branch-esq
  • Marie Serneholt – From the group A-Teens
  • Mikaila – Teen pop
  • Milky, “Be My World” and “Just the Way You Are”

    – Dance. The only two songs I could ever track down. Ordered an album from Poland months ago, but it must be coming by foot.

  • Peter Bjorn and John, “Young Folks” – You've prolly heard this on some movie or TV show, but, like me, have no idea who it is…
  • Rachel Stevens – Teen pop. Member of the S Club band
  • Shaye, The Bridge – A Canadian pop group, consisting of singer-songwriters Kim Stockwood, Damhnait Doyle and previously Tara MacLean.
  • Sofia Loell, Right Up Your Face
  • Sowelu, Sweet Bridge

    – This is a Japanese CD. Awesome pop stuff. Could have been hits in the states with any airplay…

  • Tammin, Whatever Will Be – Australian pop singer
  • The Pipettes, We Are The Pipettes – Hard to describe them. If Banarama was from the 60's maybe. B52's perhaps.
  • The Ting Tings

    – Already BIG in England. I predict they will eventually be big here in US. Minimal instrumentation. Lots of drums…the drums…the drums.

Country (guilty pleasure :-):

  • Julianne Hough – uh…ok she's hot…
  • Meredith Edwards, Reach

Grrl Rock:

  • Aly & AJ, Into the Rush – Girl group rock. Hilary Duff-ish
  • Automatic Loveletter

    – Only an EP for now, but this is great! Edgy rock and the singer kicks a$$

  • Bree Sharp, More B.S. – Love this girl's voice
  • Cheyenne Kimball – Strong album. Reminds me of Michelle Branch
  • Cori Yarckin, Ringing in my Head

    -Cori just plain rocks.

  • Diana Anaid – Good indie rock
  • Diana Gone Wrong

    – Awesome punk rock. Singer formed another group called the Lionhearts but no CD yet I think

  • Fireflight – Kinda Evanescence-ish. Kick a$$ girl singer
  • Flyleaf – Evanescence-ish. Hard core punk rock
  • Katy Perry

    – Solid album. “I kissed a girl” is getting some airplay now…finally.

  • Kerli, Love is Dead – Kinda reminds me of Sarah McLachlan or Dido maybe
  • Kim-lian, Balance

    – This album just rocks. Too bad she decided to get serious. Her follow-up wasn't so hot

  • Lisa Miskovsky, “Driving One of Your Cars” – Had a hard time finding this one. Great tune.
  • Marion Raven, Set Me Free – One of the M's from M2M. Harder edged than the duo stuff.
  • Meg & Dia, Something Real – Some catchy tunes here
  • Megan McCauley, Better Than Blood – Powerpop punk
  • Nina Gordon, Tonight and the Rest of my Life

    – Formerly with Veruca Salt. Awesome album

  • Paramore, Riot!

    – Solid album. 

  • Sara Nunes, How to Rule the World in 12 EZ Lessons

    – Kick ass rock and roll with good melodies. Funny song titles and lyrics, like “Dumb ” and “Britney's Still a Virgin”

  • The Donnas – Straight a$$ hard core rock and roll. Kiss-esq
  • The Veronicas, The Secret of Life

    – Love this band 4Ever. Pop-rock at its best.

  • Trish Murphy

    – Got turned onto Trish when I lived in San Antonio. Country rock maybe, but more rock than country.

Well, good thing I've only got a 16GB card in my N800 or I'd still be going. Don't worry, I won't go into my hard drive…

Giving up on Gmail for calendar and contacts

I've come to realize that Gmail just isn't robust enough to be a
dependable repository for calendar and contacts, at least for me. My
realization of this comes after my project to divide up my work and
personal contacts and calendar. I have always kept one calendar and one
set of contacts, and it's always been on my work computer. With privacy
the way it is now, I figured it was time to split the two.

My troubles began even before this project. What I wanted was to
have my work Outlook calendar AND contacts sync to Gmail as well as my
phone. Well, the phone part is easy since the Nokia PC Suite does just
that and works well. Google has a calendar sync app, but not anything
for contacts. Moreover, I really didn't want to install any syncing app
on my work PC anyways. 

The solution that I decided on was to sync work to N95 and then sync
N95 to Gmail using GooSync. I popped for the lifetime plan for about
$80US since you have to do that to sync contacts.Well, there were
always issues and I often had to do a “slow sync” which is basically
like starting over. Contacts was the most problematic and often the
Gmail entry would not update for changes. I think a lot of the problems
are due to the fact that Gmail doesn't support identical contact
fields. The most glaring example of this is that the street, city and
zip are all one field the Gmail, but separate elsewhere. (Incidentally,
I did try Google Calendar sync and found it terrible. Some events would
sync and some wouldn't.)

Actually having my data in three places (work Outlook, N95 and
Gmail) and expecting everything to be in sync is prolly asking too
much. Apparently.

OK, so back to my bifurcation project.

I decided that Outlook running on my home PC was going to be my
primary repository. The Bible. I would sync it with my N95 so I'd have
a portable copy. Gmail was out of the process due to its unreliability
and it would just add an unneeded additional headache.

My N95 had full versions of contacts and calendar, so I sync that
with home Outlook. Contacts seem to lose some info, so I deleted all
contacts on home Outlook and imported a delimited text file of all
Outlook contacts from work. Then deleted all of the non-work contacts
from my work Outlook. I also deleted all non-work events and
appointments from my work Outlook.

At this point, I've got work with only work calendar and contacts.
Home has all contacts and calendar. Now, I set my work PC Suite sync to
a one-way (Outlook to phone) for calendar only. So if I add something
to my work calendar, it will show up on my phone. When I sync my phone
with home Outlook, the events will show up there.

I guess I could do a similar thing with contacts, but I've decided
that I'll limit changes to doing them on my phone or at home on
Outlook.

 

 

Gmail “conversations” drive me nuts!

Gmail's conversations and labels features drives me crazy and I'm sure a lot of folks don't truly understand what is going on. Basically, if you email your friend, they reply, you reply, etc. etc., Gmail handles ALL of the emails as one thing called a “conversation” which can be multiple related emails. You can see this in the Sent Mail folder. If you replied to an email, you will see only one entry in Sent Mail and it will have all of the emails in the conversation.

So what's the big deal? Well, if you delete, say, the last reply you receive, all of the individual emails that make up the conversation are are deleted! This includes the initial email that you sent. Is that what you would expect to happen? Me neither.

Now if you wanted to save the initially sent email, what you have to do is expand that portion of the last email and choose Delete this message from the pop-up menu in the upper-right corner, next to where it says Reply. This actually deletes this individual email as well as any of the emails that follow this one in the conversation.

If you want to save the entire conversation in the Sent Mail folder(?), you have to just archive it, but apply no label. Sent Mail and Trash seem to be the sole exceptions to the Gmail labeling scheme. It's as if they had labels for Sent Mail or Trash, but they never appear as labels. Your only clue is that they appear in those folders.

If you want to maintain a record of everything you send, NEVER delete a conversation. Always archive those. I suppose a more workable practice is to only delete (solo) original emails you receive. If anything is part of a conversation, archive, well unless you don't want any record of any part of it.

Buzz Out Loud podcast working now on my N95

Ever since CNet changed the BOL feed, my Nokia N95's podcast app would not handled it correctly. The episodes were in the wrong order and worst of all the newest one would not automatically download. I was manually having to remember to download it every day.

I traced the problem to bad whitespace characters in the pubDate and the lenght of the podcast was set to -1. All I basically did was write an ASP page that grabs the feed and, using RegExs, removed the whitespace and added a dummy length value. The page then spits out the filtered RSS data.

I posted my issue in the CNet forums but no one else apparently uses the N95 podcast app or doesn't use it to autodownload. I don't know why. It's so cool! I basically always have my latest podcasts right on my phone.

If anyone's interested, here's the code for the ASP page:

<%
    url = “http://feeds.feedburner.com/cnet/buzzoutloud?format=xml”
    set xmlhttp = Server.CreateObject(“Msxml2.ServerXMLHTTP”)
    if err.number 0 then set xmlhttp = Server.CreateObject(“Microsoft.XMLHTTP”)
    xmlhttp.open “GET”, url, false
    xmlhttp.setRequestHeader “Pragma”,”no-cache”
    xmlhttp.setRequestHeader “Cache-Control”,”no-cache”
    xmlhttp.Send
    if xmlhttp.status 200 then
         Response.write “

Problem getting feed


         Response.write “HTTP Error: ” & xmlhttp.status & ” – ” & xmlhttp.statusText
    end if
    set objXML = Server.CreateObject(“Microsoft.XMLDOM”)
    Set objRegExp = New Regexp
    strOutput = xmlhttp.responseText
    objRegExp.IgnoreCase = True
    objRegExp.Global = True
    objRegExp.Pattern = “length=” & chr(34) & “-1” & chr(34)
    strOutput = objRegExp.Replace(strOutput, “length=” & chr(34) & “18000000” & chr(34))
    objRegExp.Pattern = “\s*”
    strOutput = objRegExp.Replace(strOutput, “”)
    objRegExp.Pattern = “s*”
    strOutput = objRegExp.Replace(strOutput, “”)
    Set objRegExp = Nothing
    Response.write strOutput
%>

Panasonic DVDLS855 portable DVD player kicks major butt!

Picked up this baby at CostCo for $170. Came with a nice case and even a headrest bracket so it can be mounted on the back of a front seat for people in the back. What is REALLY exciting about this unit is that it supports DIVX. I burned a bunch of DIVX (actually XVid) AVIs to a DVD-R and they played perfectly!

The screen is decent, although the viewing angle could be better. Specs are below.

PORTABLE: .
Television Signal System NTSC
Built-in LCD Monitor 8.5″ QVGA
Playback Time with Included Rechargeable Battery Pack�1 Approximately 6 hours
Screen/LCD Selector Normal/Full
Rechargeable Battery Yes
LCD Mode Yes
Built-in Stereo Speakers Yes (2 ch)
Picture Control on LCD Bright, Color
COMPATIBILITY: .
DVD Playback DVD-Video, DivX
Multi-Format Playback (Playable Disc Type) DVD, DVD-RAM, DVD-R/-RW, DVD-R(DL), +R/+R(DL)/+RW, CD, CD-R/RW
DVD-RAM Video Playback Capability DVD-VR, MP32, JPEG, MPEG4, DivX
DVD-R/-RW Playback Capability DVD-Video, DVD-VR, MP33, JPEG, MPEG4, DivX
DVD-R (DL) Playback DVD-Video, DVD-VR
+R/ +R (DL)/ +RW Playback Video
CD, CD-R/RW Playback4 CD-DA, Video CD, SVCD�5, HighMAT (Level 2), WMA, MP36, JPEG, MPEG4, DivX
VIDEO: .
Video D/A Converter 108MHz/12-bit
Cinema Mode Yes
Picture Adjustment Yes
MPEG Digital Noise Reduction Yes
AUDIO: .
Audio D/A Converter 96kHz/24-bit
Built-in Dolby Digital Surround Sound Decoder Yes (2 channel)
Built-in DTS Surround Sound Decoder Yes (2 channel)
H.Bass Yes
Advanced Surround (V.S.S.) Yes
Headphone Surround (V.S.S.) Yes
Dialogue Enhancer Yes
CONVENIENCE: .
Hi Speed Smooth Scan Yes (x200)
Included Accessories
  • Custom Case
  • Headrest Bracket
Variable Playback Speed Control Yes (x0.6 – x1.4)
Playback Mode Setting Repeat
INPUT/OUTPUT: .
Headphone Out Yes (dual headphone jacks)
AV Input Yes
OTHER: .
Video S/N 60 dB
Power Source AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz
Power Consumption 22W

Pandora.com works on N800

Updated my Nokia N800 to the so-called Diablo firmware. Much snappier now and the browser is now Mozilla based instead of Opera. I've been waiting for some breakthrough that would allow me to listen to Pandora.com on the N800 and decided to try. Well, it's a little sluggish–Pandora is a very “heavy” Flash app apparently–but the darn thing works! Amazing!

I wish they had a lite web version. One suggestion I have to to reboot your device so the maximum amount of free ram is available. I guess the problem now is, as someone pointed out in another blog is that the N800 auto-shuts off after X minutes.

Bottom line: It's not really useable, but interesting.

FYI Slacker.com does not load at all.