Monday, October 28, 2013

A couple of Roden things

Things are quiet here at the moment - though not workwise.

So a couple of Roden related things.

My podcast listening has broadened since hearing Marco Arment on his new podcast app & I know listen to the accidental tech podcast, the new disruptors, the talk show. Anyway, the new disruptors got me to 99% invisible an interesting design based show, and I found this in their archive - a program on bubble houses. Now most of you should know Steve Roden lives in a bubble house (the last in the US, which I didn't know) and this program is about them & he's on it. The show page has some great photos. (and to remind you, airform was the construction method).

And then, on airform archives is a link to this kickstarter project to releaunch a label (dragon's eye). Steve has put up some great stuff for big donor's but also has a cd in the release schedule (a year away - but so what!). 6 days to go, the limit has been met, so you will get your cds.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pocket Cast

One of the first apps I bought for my iPhone 3 was pocket weather (aka pkt weather and now weather Australia). I found the onboard app inaccurate and limited in detail. Pocket uses Bureau of Meteorology data which is the best available. The app also includes a wealth of detail - 7 day forecasts (obviously), radar, 2 day temperature forecast graphs with actual(predicted) & feels like  lines, rain time and amount, tides... As the Bureau's data has improved so has the app - it now has quite fine localization. It is one of my most used apps. 

Move forward & I hear Marco who created Instapaper (another long time very used app) is writing a podcast app. I have used iTunes & the podcast app most of the time (there was a period I used another app but it fell by the wayside). I was generally happy but some things with in interface always annoyed me (the placement of the store button for instance). Anyway I thought I'd see what the competition was. 

A few searches narrowed the field to the main players. One was getting a lot of praise for it iOS 7 implementation. Pocket Cast by Shift Jelly- it took me a little while to see the connection and a combination of the reviews, my experience with their weather & the fact they are Australian decided me on giving them a go. 

And I am very pleased 

Yes - it is a very nice implementation of the design aesthetic. Clean & effective, overall easy to pick up & work with. There are 2 main screens. 

Podcast view- all your subscriptions in an icon grid. 3x4 on a 4s. You can move the tiles around if you want to re-order them. A + 'button' takes you to the search area - with featured, search, networks, category, chart options.
Back at the grid tapping on an icon brings up the program information -  a list of unplayed and played files, indicating if they have been downloaded  their length, and if they haven't, the file size. Tapping on a program brings up a window about it with content details and actions (download, delete, mark as played/unplayed, star, queue, add to playlist (which are way to create) etc).  
Podcast view - note now playing
Episode view
episode info
Menu screen - this is where It gets very useful. Top line takes you to the subscribed screen, if you want to select an episode by Podcast. But Pocket Cast's filters are its strength. As you can see I have theme filters, but also one for all downloads and unplayed. Filters, as the screen shot shows, can include played, unplayed, downloaded etc. As I don't want to keep played podcasts (for memory management) my downloaded and unplayed lists should be the same. If you wanted you could have a filter that included all unplayed podcasts - but it would be unwieldy. 
Menu screen
PC uses notifications well to indicate when new episodes of subscribed podcasts are available. And my filter new/undownloaded Is set so that I also have a list available - and I can go there to download or mark as played (you can't delete an undownloaded episode, so the list of unplayed will show all available ones which annoyed me at first but I am getting used to it (rather than the past players where previous episodes were hidden by default or could be deleted from the list)  
filter options

Play - as the screen shots show, there is a floating playback control, and the circle around the play/pause button indicates time passing. Touch this and you get the full screen player - with all the visuals and controls you could want. << and >> skip a predetermined time set from the setup menu. Information, playlist controls are up the top right. Rather than having space dedicated to a volume slider, that is accessed by the speaker menu: and most of us probably use earphone volume controls, the buttons or some external control anyway. 

Speed of replay has a slider also, and can do increments up to 3x. 
Play screen

Sync - You can set up an account to co-ordinate your subscriptions and playing position. It is syncing and saving where all non-Apple apps seem to suffer for me. All the podcasts on the list are 'mine', there are others that I give Carol a copy of. Now we have an expensive internet contract - rural wireless broadband & I would rather not download them twice. With the Apple app & iTunes sync the files are available to copy. I think this is a fairly specific requirement so won't hold it against them - there probably aren't any that do it. 

This is a universal app, so no need to pay for a separate app, and is also available in an android version

In conclusion - a very nice podcast app, does everything most people could want very nicely. You can suffer a free app or pay a little bit & get something good. 

The website is here; buy from your favourite Apple or Android shops!
(Drafted on write for iPhone)

TIMR ?: Nothing to something

solipsism to the MAX

Yep - new carpets

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nels Cline & Elliot Sharp: Open The Door

Public Eyesore again - Open The Door is PE121 (link to public eyesore in the side bar).

The name Elliot Sharp was familiar, though not Cline. Anyway, two guitarists. This release had a long gestation. Four tracks come from sessions in 1999 while the fifth track (Pietraviva) is live from 2007.

I put on this album with some trepidation, uncertain about the 2 guitar approach. But it is a lovely album. The Cline and Sharp have approached their interplay with a combination of musical artistry, serious skill, joyful interaction and a sense of play and adventure. 

Yes at times it is atonal or dense or oblique at times, but the two instrumnets complement each other brilliantly, one providing a base while the other may be searching the acoustic space. And both guitars are acoustic, adding to the atmosphere. There are elements of Spanish, blues, modernism and bluegrass emerging through the pieces; the lead and rhythm change; there is space and then density.

Obviously, if you don't like or want to try acoustic loose guitar, avoid this album. But if you are interested in an exploration which thrills, entrances and entertains give this a go.