Friday, April 17, 2009

And all that was left was Hope

The last few days at work we’ve been “testing” our website, visually inspecting and testing the functionality of all of the new and recently updated content. We do this approximately 4 times a year, and it’s rather (okay, very) monotonous. I used to dread it. It seemed like punishment, and I longed to be done from the moment I started. But these last few years my perspective has changed.

I now look at it as time off from the daily grind. Testing takes priority over most other responsibilities, so you get to leave your current projects and daily tasks behind. You just hit “Page down” over and over and over, and although you have to pay some attention to what you’re seeing on the website, your mind is also free to wander.

Consequently, I'm able to listen to music while performing this task, which is a rarity for me, because even after 12 years on the job, I still have to work in a quite office to comprehend the various wonders of the central nervous system.

This testing cycle has been especially enjoyable because I recently discovered Pandora (yeah, I don’t have an iphone, so perhaps I'm a bit late to the party). I love this site! To me it’s like listening to a cross between my favorite iPod tunes and new gems only some radio professional would have the time and breadth of knowledge to know about.

Have you tried it yet?

I have to say, I’m impressed. You create your own radio station(s). I currently have only 1, but you're able to create as many as you want. One for each mood if you feel like it. Hell, you could have a whole broken heart station if the spirit moved you, which it just might if you were broken hearted.

I started my radio station by entering just three musical artists I like, Pandora then began playing my personalized radio station. Music from artists I had selected played, yes, but also other music similar in various musical qualities to my original selections. So far the selections have been amazing. You do help/particpate in the process as you're able to give each song that plays a thumbs up or thumbs down, fine tuning your musical tastes for the website.

You can also hit the forward button at any point to move to the next selection if it's just not what you want to hear at that particular moment. It’s brilliant. And a terrific way to discover new music. Take today, for instance, today I discovered Xavier Rudd (check track 2), an Australian one-man band who plays Weissenborn lap steel guitars (like Ben Harper), but in addition is surrounded by various other instruments, "typically, he has three didgeridoos placed in front of him on a stand, a guitar on his lap, a stompbox by his habitually bare feet, and an assortment of drums, banjos, harmonicas, bells, and bass guitar near at hand, or near at foot as the case may be.”

I want to go see this guy perform.

I also discovered Dispatch (try the sample), a New England jam band who got together in the mid 1990s while attending Middlebury College.

Seeing as I've never been to Australia and have never jammed in New England (I leave that to Ellie), I don't know if I'd otherwise come across these guys.

There a cadre of mucis analysts working on the Music Genome Project, which Pandora is based on, and it feels as though they're working just for you. And with the site claiming that a typical music analyst working on the project has a 4-year degree in music theroy, composition or performance, it seems you're in good hands.

In Greek mythology Pandora was the first woman on earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, to create her and he did, using water and earth. The gods endowed her with many talents; Aphrodite gave her beauty, Apollo music, Hermes persuasion, and so forth. Hence her name: Pandora, "all-gifted", or some argue "all giving." Well this Pandora is definitely a giver, and Apollo's gift shines through.


Pandora fan in PA said...

I wasn't sure how Rod found Pandora but I also was so amazed/impressed! You may be late to the game but it's never too late to jump in :-D
Thanks for the musician tips...

Me, You, or Ellie said...

My sister Jane swears by Pandora, as does her hub-sand Doug. I have yet to fully dive in, mostly because our laptop speakers suck -- we need some external ones, or we need to plug our laptop into our stereo, or something.

There *is* a huge New-England-based musical universe out there. Lots of Boston-based guys (see Girls Guns & Glory), and lots and lots of New London-based guys too. Must be somehow related to those endless winters......

Nice one, Beth!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Yes, Jane is a Pandora fan and we played with it one night during their recent visit. Be warned, when children are within earshot, their ratings are going to totally screw up your playlist.


Aunt Becky said...

I thought that I was the last person to discover Pandora. But yeah, it ROCKS.