I Love Living in the Future

We are living in the future, and it is awesome!

Sometimes I have to just stop and be amazed at the things we can do these days – things that would have seemed like futuristic science fiction when I was a kid (or even when I was in college).

For example, just this weekend I was doing some cleaning around the house (cleaning up the bunnies area) and I wanted to have some relaxing, chillout music on while I worked.

For me, the easiest way to accomplish this was to boot up my netbook, hook it into my livingroom stereo (via the same cable I use to hook up my iPod), and just play some streaming music from Shoutcast (the Digitally Imported Chillout Dreams stream, to be exact).

So that is exactly what I did.

netbook + wifi + streaming radio + home stereo = awesome

Simple, easy, and straightforward – and it doesn’t take a whole bunch of complicated steps to get going, nor does it take very long (just long enough for my netbook to boot up – which is pretty fast – and to load the radio stream).

It is just amazing to me that this little computer can sit there, pulling music literally from thin air. And of course, the fact that streaming Internet radio gives me an almost unlimited library of music to pull from doesn’t hurt, either.

Now, while this was pretty darned cool, it did make me think of something that was… not so cool.

I have a Windows Media Center Extender right there, just to the right of the Wii in the picture. And the whole point of the Media Center Extender is to do exactly this sort of thing. So why wasn’t I using it?

Well, the short answer is because it’s too slow, too hard, and it doesn’t work with the streaming radio stations I like. The Media Center Extender takes a long time to boot up (longer than my netbook), the interface is slow and clunky, the remote control is awful, trying to enter text is an exercise in frustration, and getting streaming radio to work on it is… well let’s just say “not easy” and leave it at that. You need to add special add-ins to the Media Center PC (not the Extender), which of course must be downloaded, installed, set up in advance, etc. In the end, it’s just not worth the effort.

(In it’s defense, I don’t think the Media Center Extender was ever meant to work with streaming radio from the Internet – it was meant to stream music from a local Media Center PC instead… but really, if it can do that, it should be able to do both. But I digress…)

Anyway, despite the failings of the Windows Media Center Extender, listening to streaming music in my home while I clean is pretty darned neat.

The future is pretty awesome. I love living in the future!

The Beauty of (Remixed) Game Music

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of game music on my computer (rather than streaming it from places such as Radio GOSU). I still find myself amazed at the quality of music that I find there – just really, really good stuff, made with (obvious) passion, and a lot of technical skill.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of game music on my computer (rather than streaming it from places such as Radio GOSU). Most of the music I have comes from that wonderful site, OC Remix.

I still find myself amazed at the quality of music that I find there – just really, really good stuff, made with (obvious) passion, and a lot of technical skill. Quite often I’ll stop work for a little while during the day when a really good song comes on and just turn it up nice & loud – I often get goosebumps or chills when the really good bits come on.

No matter how I might be feeling – tired, worn out, depressed, or just un-motivated – good music always cheers me right up.

Driving with Game Music

Suffice to say, I enjoy game music. I also enjoy making mix CDs for driving, and when I say “driving” I usually mean “driving fast.”

One of my most recent mashups was particularly good, so I figured I’d share the components here so everyone can enjoy.

  1. Metroid Cranial Syphon [Kay-raid] OC ReMix
  2. Ducktales Harden the Duck Up! OC ReMix
  3. Chrono Trigger Time Management OC ReMix
  4. Chrono Trigger Jethro and Vash at the Fair OC ReMix
  5. Chrono Trigger Forever Until Tomorrow OC ReMix
  6. Chrono Trigger Far Away Memories OC ReMix
  7. Final Fantasy 7 CidSendsaDreamtotheUnderseaPalace OC ReMix
  8. Shenmue Dreaming While I Wake OC ReMix
  9. Minibosses – Kraid-Metroid
  10. The Black Mages – Dancing Mad (Final Fantasy VI)
  11. Minibosses – Castlevania
  12. Duck Tales Duck Blur OC ReMix

You may notice a slight bias in the game music I listen to, but trust me, it’s for a reason. This is good stuff here, people.

Enjoy.

The World at Large (Kino’s Journey)

Sometimes I just get into these weird moods… sort of nostalgic, sort of melancholy… and when I do, I often watch this video or just listen to the song that goes with it.

It’s what’s known as an AMV – an “Anime Music Video,” a fan-made music video for a song made up of clips from Anime (sometimes one series, sometimes multiple series with a common theme). The song is by Modest Mouse and it’s called The World at Large, and the anime it draws from is called Kino’s Journey. This one was made by a person who goes by the name of Kwasek from a group called More Than Toast.

It’s a very well done video, and there’s something about it – about the music and the theme of Kino’s Journey, paired together, that always hits me in my “sentimental center.” It is a very moving piece of work.

Give it a watch, I think you’ll like it (and turn up your sound – the music is absolutely fantastic).

If you want to download the full video (rather than watch it on YouTube) you can get it from AnimeMusicVideos.org.

Music to Code By

I read a post over at Coding Horror today about “Music to (Not) Code By,” and it got me thinking about the music I code by – which, let me just say, is not anything like the music mentioned in Jeff’s article!

There’s always been a sort of unspoken rule with me that the best music to write code by is some sort of techno-electronica type music – preferrably without lyrics. I wrote one of my earliest commercial programs almost entirely to the sounds of Digitally Imported’sChillout – Ambient PsySHOUTcast station.

Lately I’ve changed over to game music, thanks to the fine folks at Radio GOSU (The Gamers of Oklahoma State University). Of course, some people will argue there is little distinction between “game music” and “chillout techno.” But that’s neither here nor there.

The fact is, there’s just something… “right” about having that sort of music on in the background while pooring over thousands of lines of code, or while designing a totally new User Interface for your program. It’s not quite white noise, and it’s generally up-beat enough to keep you “in the groove.” And staying “in the groove” is, of course, very important for programmers – and any other sort of knowledge worker, in fact.

Maybe it’s the upbeat nature of the music, or the tempo, but I just find it much easier to program when listening to that kind of music.

So I guess the question now is… what sort of music do YOU listen to while you work?