Random music

I’ve known for a while that I’m not terribly good at varying the music I listen to. Even within my own music collection I tend to have a few favourite albums of the moment, and while those favourites vary I rarely listen to anything else. Except when I have the radio on, and then it is your usual popular stuff, some good, some pap. I still pick up new things from friends occasionally but I never really go out of my way to vary what I’m listening to. I started to change that a little over the last few weeks.

First I tried sticking most of my music collection into a playlist, putting it on shuffle and just listening through it. I didn’t get very far, maybe a couple of hundred tracks in. While it was pretty good to hear lots of stuff that I hadnt listened to in absolutely ages it wasn’t so great that it just kept jumping from genre to genre. I quite like listening to an entire set of songs in one style. Maybe I could figure out how to make it just randomly play entire albums or something.

Second I experimented with iTunes’ new “genius” feature. I actually used this because I needed a good playlist for going to the gym. It takes a certain kind of music and the theory was that by choosing one good track, iTunes would make me a playlist with similar stuff. It was pretty bad. I’m not sure how it matches up tracks but it certainly isn’t by music style. Who would put together Foo Fighters and Newton Faulkner?

Finally I have been trying Pandora. This is a pretty cool service all in all. I have no idea how they fund it just seemingly with ads, but you give it an artist and it just streams you music to listen to that is similar. It does a good job of matching up the music styles. The only place where I felt it fell down was the lack of variety. Maybe I was just unlucky but it seemed to just flip flop between about 4 artists for each channel I created, all of them fairly mainstream artists too, nothing particularly new, I owned most of the songs it was choosing to play for me.

Pandora is certainly pretty good for making me listen to new stuff but I wonder what else there is out there that I might be missing. Unfortunately I’m too lazy to go hunting so I hope someone can tell me…

Status quo ante

Looks like I can finally say that my body clock is fully switched back to UK time. I can be sure of this because I spent 2 hours trying to get to sleep last night. That hasn’t happened since I flew out to Toronto over 3 weeks ago. I had rather hoped that after my trip had resolved all the issues I was stressed about that I might be able to get myself back into some sort of sensible sleep pattern, but apparently not.

What is also back to normal is the wonderful Welsh weather. As I speak the drizzle is hammering against my window, as it has been for most of the last week. There are many things about this city I wll miss, but many I really won’t. I guess I still have to survive the winter though.

Sky Anytime, programmes you can’t watch whenever you don’t want to watch them

At my old house I used to have cable TV. Provided first by NTL who then got bought out by Virgin Media. In many ways they weren’t so good, however where Virgin excelled was in providing an excellent on-demand service. With the right TV package you could get instant access to the last 7 days highlights (or for some definition of) and entire series of popular programmes.

Sky can’t quite match the kind of choice Virgin can give, they just don’t have the ability to stream data on demand to an individual home. Instead they have come up with a kind of a halfway house solution. So long as you have their PVR (Sky+) you can switch on the Anytime service. You sacrifice a bunch of space on the PVR but overnight it downloads and stores programming, leaving you with a choice of maybe 10 programmes or movies to watch whenever you like.

The first downside to this is pretty obvious. All the thing is doing is just recording programmes you might want to watch while you sleep. Well I can set the PVR to record programmes I definately do want to watch while I sleep manually. But I guess maybe this will record things I wouldn’t have normally and convince me to watch something I wouldn’t normally, who knows.

Now for the next problem. Each downloaded programme comes from a tv channel, obviously. The programmes it downloads seem to just be a set list for the period, from all of the channels Sky offers. Now some of the channels Sky offers I do not subscribe to. Yet it still downloads programming from these channels. So does that mean I can get a sneak look at something from the films channel I dont normally have? No, what it means is that and entire movie that I’m not allowed to watch is taking up space on my PVR.

So basically, for the small sacrifice of losing space on my PVR I get to choose from programmes that 75% of the time I probably don’t want to watch, 20% of the time can’t watch and probably 5% of the time I have set to record myself anyway.

*all probabilities totally made up.

Back home

Finally back home after my two weeks in North America. Both Toronto and Mountain View included fun and disappointment. Traveling to these places is generally awesome but somehow I always manage to generate some form of drama for myself, and really living out of hotels and restaurants gets old pretty fast. I’m not much of a cook but I am looking forward to sitting down with a homemade meal this evening, well maybe tomorrow with the jetlag.

Right now I’m feeling even worse than normal for jetlag. I’m following my normal routine, I went to sleep at 6pm yesterday and got up at 2am today. Normally this sees me about right and I can slowly shift myself by a few hours a day till I get onto UK time somewhere around Wednesday. Right now though I am feeling shattered. I have a suspicion that even if I don’t fall asleep during the Grand Prix I’ll end up passing out shortly afterwards. This probably means I will be even more cranky than normal this week, sorry about that.

I guess it’s not much of a secret that I am planning on moving to either Toronto or Mountain View, but even after visiting both I am having real trouble figuring out which. Both have great people there and seem to be in good areas. I like Toronto because even though it is a city it does not feel very cramped and getting around seems easy. I like Mountain View because it isn’t a city at all, yet San Francisco is right there if I need one.

More personal

I guess I’ve always disliked the idea of putting my personal thoughts onto my blog. I figure that no-one really cares much about what I’m thinking.

Despite this I’m going to start to post some more personal stuff here. I’ve come to realise that I am frequently bored and just looking for something to say. I usually just fire off a random email to one of my close friends, mostly not really saying anything just general rambling. I think I’ll make their lives easier by just posting here instead, then if they want to get back to me they can, or not without me being too bothered by it.

You can use the personal category link below to see just the personal stuff and get a feed for it.