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Last Build Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 10:03:32 GMT


Nothin' to see hereannie - heartbeat

Mon, 16 Nov 2009 10:03:32 GMT

Closing up shop on LJ for public updates. Head on over yonder for the latest n' greatest:

SFO --> ZRHA Setting Sun - Walking Toward a Setting Sun | Powered by

Mon, 09 Nov 2009 08:20:50 GMT

It's officially official, I'm moving to Zurich by end of the year!I've mentioned the possibility that I might move to my closest friends, but I didn't get final word until a few days ago, so I thought I'd say something publicly about it now...Some background:-- Living in Europe has been a dream of mine for years. I've visited the UK and Italy, but that's about it (airports in other countries don't count). There's so much else there I want to experience and from what I hear, Zurich is an excellent hub for traveling around the region.-- My new project that's getting me over there is the reason I wanted to work at Google in the first place... tackling the issue of information overload head-on. I'm just as excited about this new project as I am about the move.-- This is something that's been in the works for months... Google is supportive of facilitating these kinds of transfers, but a lot of things have to come together to make them happen. I have many colleagues and friends to thank for helping me out with this opportunity and to them, I am eternally grateful.-- I'll be there for at least a year and I'm not sure what I'll do after that. I'm pretty thrilled about this aspect of the adventure. -- I should be relocated sometime towards the end of December. I'll probably do some kind of combo going away/bday party with my bay area peeps before I leave so stay tuned on Facebook for info on that.Other notables:-- I'll continue to work on my previous project, Sidewiki, at least for the foreseeable future as it's something I'm still very close to and want to see succeed.-- I'm going to miss my friends a lot, but I'm hoping you'll all come visit me! Zurich is easily accessed by train or cheap flights from within the EU, so if you find yourself visiting Europe in 2010, put ZRH on your list!-- I'm incredibly excited to be near Berlin and Paris... two places I've never visited, but have heard so many good things about. My good buddy Jeff is in Berlin and Nathan is in Paris, so it will be fantastic to see them more often.-- I'll be making the switch after many years of working on client software to working mainly on web and mobile based projects. I'm going to use this opportunity to get back into coding and doing more interactive prototypes.-- Google's Zurich office is supposed to be super sweet and I'm looking forward to having a smaller company feel for awhile.-- Skiing and snowboarding are two things I have very little experience with... I'm crossing my fingers that they'll have some bunny hills out there to practice on.-- I plan to take German lessons and want to make sure I branch out from just socializing with my coworkers. I've heard it can be tough as an outsider to make friends in Zurich, but I'm hoping I can find some fellow music lovers as a way to bridge the gap.-- I purged a fair amount of my stuff when I moved to SF, but not near as much as I would've liked. I'm going to use this next move as a way to finally slim it all down to just the bare essentials. I've got the international Kindle now so I won't need to take as many books with me and I'm digitizing all of my cds onto a mirrored drive. The only bulky thing that remains is my vinyl collection... I won't have enough time to digitize my records before I leave, so I'll probably just keep them in storage unless someone in the bay area wants to babysit them while I'm gone. I'm hoping to go the projector route finally too as a way to have a more mobile entertainment center.I take my first trip to Zurich this Friday with a few days in the UK at the end, during which I'm hoping to catch Ryuichi Sakamoto perform his piano pieces in Burmingham (!!!!!!!!).This new move is probably a good chance to retire my public LJ as well which I haven't been updating that often thanks to Twitter and Facebook. I'll continue to use it for friends-only posts (still baffled that no one else has come up with a better replacement for this), but I think it's time I wrote more often on something I can fully control like WordPress. I'll put a note here o[...]

Where I find out about new musicsDrexciya - You Don't Know | Powered by

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 07:48:51 GMT

I've been asked a few times by friends and co-workers where I discover new music. There's not one magical resource... it's a mixture of things, the main source being other music obsessed friends. Social networking sites have particularly made it easier than ever to get the word out about the proverbial "good shit" with minimal effort. In the interest of spreading the love out a little further (and actually having a good answer the next time someone asks), here's a list of my favorite places to discover new music online...I'll admit, this post was just an elaborate excuse to us this amazing photo by t4tO_1. Basic Sounds: http://basic_sounds.blogspot.comGenres: techno/idm/ambient/dubstepCanada's number 1 export if you ask me... no one even comes close to getting the word out about up n' coming artists and new releases in the world of non-cheesy electronic dance music. You won't find any Tiesto's or PVD's here... but you may just find your album of the year or maybe your new favorite visual artist.2. Aquarius Records: & http://www.aquariusrecords.orgGenres: eclectic/ambient/drone/indieAquarius is my favorite record store on the planet. The staff take their job seriously when it comes to finding the coolest under-represented music from all over the world and exposing them to their loyal patrons. I can't even count how many great records I've gotten from here that I've never seen talked about anywhere else. What makes them so unique? They...-- hand pick 1-3 records each week which helps narrow down the overwhelming amount of new stuff they get in-- write up great reviews for the main new releases and tape them on the cds to read in the store or from the website at home-- provide sound clips for all the main releases so you can preview before you buy-- have the super-nerdiest-music-nerd staff that can make excellent recommendationsI could go on and on about Aquarius, they're amazing.3. The Quiet Sounds: AmbientI can't say enough about asphalteden's ambient podcast. Brian has impeccable taste in music and deep knowledge about this genre which comes through in his mixes. You haven't fallen asleep until you've done so with one of these playing in the background!4. Spreading Neurotoxins: http://spreadingneurotoxins.blogspot.comGenres: Indie rock/electronic/ambient/metal/shoegazeThis is sort of like the rock version of Basic Sounds. An occasional electronic release makes it on here too, but the focus is definitely on the rock side. Fantastic.5. connexion: the selector: http://www.theselector.orgGenres: Shoegazer/indie rock/eclectic mixesGreat group of contributors to this blog where you can find individual tracks and awesome mixes. 6. Pitchfork's "Best new albums" page: Indie rock/electronicNot much to add here since Pitchfork is pretty common knowledge, but this particular URL is nice as a way to keep up with only the highest rated reviews. I disagree with a lot of Pitchfork's ratings (basically 99% of bands they love that have whiny sounding singers), but for the most part, they still know what's up.7. I Found this Song in the Road: http://songsfromtheroad.blogspot.comLove Will Tear Us Apart: http://disorderyan.blogspot.comThe Passion of Indie Music: http://indiepassion.blogspot.comGenres: Indie rockI'll count these three together since they're quite similar, but definitely worth checking out if you like this genre.8. Richfourfour: Dance mixes/90s hip-houseI've posted about Rich's essential new jack swing mixes before, but all of his mixes are worth mentioning again. When he's not spending the majority of his time blogging about reality tv and making hilarious animated gifs, he puts together seriously fun party mixes that are great for working out to as well.9. Essential house: House, duh!It'd be impossible to download and listen to every single song poste[...]

stuff I do not see the appeal ofiTAL tEK - Still Shores | Powered by

Mon, 17 Aug 2009 20:28:06 GMT

snej had a good idea for a post. There are "heavier" things that I don't get like religion or torture, but here's my version of some trivial stuff in random order:01. the majority of rock bands on Pitchfork. Particularly male-fronted jangle rock stuff like The Decemberists02. Harry Potter03. musicals04. bland house and techno. I love these genres, but can't stand when I hear the generic sounding stuff.05. yelling at other cars that exhibit bad behavior or at the TV06. getting worked up over stupid silly stuff in general (e.g. Tour de France dudes on the Golden Gate Bridge that look super pissed waiting behind tourists)07. fake breasts08. MySpace for anyone over 1809. perpetually full inboxes (you're doing it wrong)10. in a similar vein... having a desktop full of icons11. Spending fortunes on mansions, sports cars, gold plated cell phones, etc12. 99% of reality TV and shows like American Idol13. video games that have no end (MMORPGS). This doesn't apply to arcade or puzzle games.14. video games that don't give you any help if you're stuck and repeating the same thing over and over again (Grand Theft Auto). And no, I don't want to have to use a damn strategy guide.15. Tweeting any variant of "good night"16. posting "RIP" anyone famous to a social network (without explaining why that person was important to you)17. posting any news headline that can easily be found on or any other major news site18. cheap beer19. leaving your bicycle unattended (or poorly locked up) for even a split second in a major city20. wedge shoes21. dressing your little kids (or pets) in outfits that make them look like tiny adults (the most egregious offender)22. obsessive documentation of vacations23. standing right next to the speaker at loud concerts (with no hearing protection)Stuff from snej's list that I like, but he doesn't: 1. Asparagus (this is my favorite vegetable!) 2. Autotune, yea, even the subtlest usage thereof (I think it can be used well in certain instances) 3. Cassette tapes (I don't use them anymore, but they did have their utility ... I particularly liked the ability to pick up right where you left off :) 6. Daft Punk (we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one) 17. New Order, post-1982 ("Republic" was the first album of theirs I purchased, so I have a special connection to it. Agreed though that their earlier stuff was more innovative and unique) 23. Shrimp [with or without the tails on] (wow, I've had so many delicious shrimp dishes, not sure where to start on this one) 27. Vinyl records [unless you are a skilled DJ] (I still like having my vinyl around. For certain types of music, it just gives me warm fuzzies to listen on vinyl vs mp3. It's also fun to play and look through other people's records)Stuff I can see the appeal of, but just haven't made it a priority to check out yet:1. Mad Men2. Battlestar Galactica3. Mighty Boosh4. District 95. Skydiving6. Hang gliding7. Lasik[...]

A love letter to runningHannu - Uusi aamu | Powered by

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 06:29:43 GMT

This is a post I've been meaning to write for some time... it's essentially a long way of repeating the old adage, "don't know what you've got, till it's gone." In this case, that thing is running.RecapIf you've read this sporadically updated blog over the years, you may remember I was getting into running about 2-3 years ago and was using LJ to document my training for the Vancouver Marathon.Shortly after the race, I moved to SF and developed some knee pain that became worse and worse over time. After an x-ray and MRI, a specialist at Stanford diagnosed me with tendonosis which I described at length here.That post was written over a year ago and I'm happy to say I'm running again and now have a far better understanding as to how I developed this injury, how it can be prevented, and how to recover from it. Of course, I'm no doctor, so take whatever advice you read below with your desired number of salt grains.How did I get tendonosis?1. Running long distances with poor formWhile I was aware of different forms of running, I never gave it much thought when I was training. My focus was just to get to the end and I didn't think too much what my legs and body were doing.This led me to:-- plant my feet down much harder than needed-- run with poor posture-- run through joint painRegarding this last point... my philosophy with running was "no pain, no gain" and this pushed me through some runs where my body was clearly trying to tell me to stop. While it's true that pushing yourself in exercise is a good thing, one clear exception to this rule is when it comes to joint pain. Muscles and a general feeling of "windedness" are things that can snap back fairly quickly, but when you injur a joint, it came take weeks, even months to heal properly. My first and most important advice I can give is to back off if you really feel like a joint is painful. 2. HillsI didn't really notice any joint pain when I lived in Seattle, but for some reason, it came on all of sudden in SF. One of the culprits here is hills. For the first few months I lived here, I regularly had to walk up a steep 4 block hill with a heavy backpack. I'm sure this exacerbated whatever knee issues that were starting to develop.3. Sitting for long periods of time in a confined positionFor 10+ hours a week, I commute on a shuttle where my knee is forced into a 90 degree angle so as not to play footsies with my neighbor. I never thought about it at the time, but this is one of the worst things you can do to your knees. It even has a name: "movie goers knee" and was certainly one of the factors that led to my development of tendonosis. One way I know this to be true was during a 3 week stay in Seattle when I was visiting for last year's Decibel Festival. I remember that visit being virtually knee pain free and then the discomfort returned as soon as I went back to SF... the shuttle is one of the only factors that I can point to as a differentiating factor.How did I recover?Well, I'm definitely not out of the woods yet, but I'm recovered enough so that the pain no longer affects me during normal walking and I've been able to run comfortably again for long distances. Here are some of the things I did to get to this point:1. RestI took a long long break from running. Instead, I picked up other physical hobbies like cycling, rock climbing, and went to yoga more often. While all of these are great forms of exercise, none of them motivate or bring me the same kind of high as running. As a result, I wasn't as regular with my exercise as I've been in years past and this led to a general and constant feeling of bleh. Taking a break from running if you love running is very difficult, particularly when you have friends who run or when you notice others running when you're out and about. There are feelings of inferiority, jealousy, and angst. It's not fun, but it's absolutely necessary to ease off of running when things get as bad with your knees as they had[...]

"The Creative Habit" & answering "Why?"Ametsub - Lichen with Piano | Powered by

Thu, 14 May 2009 19:44:00 GMT

You know that annoying little kid that endlessly asks the question "why?" in succession... partially for curiosity and partially just to test the limits of a parent to see when they will give up from boredom, frustration, or exhaustion? There were a few times growing up when I pulled that on my dad and somewhere that little kid still exists. (I think I had an epic run for "Why is the sky blue?" where he finally caved in after 15-20 rounds)There are truisms in life that sound completely cliche, but can never be repeated enough. Be kind to others, read books, travel, eat well, etc... these are all common themes that show up again and again, but without a strong answer to "why?" the full import of their meaning never seems to take hold. It's just another factoid, devoid of any real meaning or application to my life. Sometimes though you get an excellent answer to why in the form of life experience or from reading a book. Here are some examples of books that resonated for me in this way:-- Why is it important to be organized? Getting Things Done-- Why are exercise and getting enough sleep good things to do? Brain Rules-- What makes the scientific method so amazing? Demon Haunted World-- Why do people who pursue their passions seem so attractive? The Way of the Superior Man-- Why is watching too much TV bad for you? Amusing Ourselves to DeathHere's another question.... "Why are focus, hard work, and dedication to a craft important?" Everyone can answer this at a high level, but until I heard a convincing argument as to why these things are necessary, it never really sunk in. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp is the explanation I didn't even know I was looking for and it has completely inspired me.If you have any kind of creative outlet, whether it be for work or as a hobby, I implore you to read this book. Aside from being inspirational, it's also practical with specific activities and examples to get you out of a rut and to focus in on what's most important to you. Even though her background is in dance and choreography, her words apply to any creative discipline you can think of.I've been asking myself "what do I want to do next with my life?" a lot recently and this book has given me the clarity I was looking for. Thank you Twyla for sharing your gift and letting us look behind the curtain at your creative process. I will go back and watch Amadeus* now with fresh eyes and can't wait to watch a dance performance with all your perspectives and passions for dance in my caption: "This is an impromptu dance created and directed by Twyla Tharp. Joining her is a complete amateur Andy Plesser, a 55-year old with no formal dance background but considerable enthusiasm. This was part of a taping session of several interviews about dance, video, creativity and the Internet done for Beet.TV, a videoblog about the online video revolution and its implications for business and society. The interviews can be found here"*Twyla did all the choreography. I haven't watched this since I was a little kid... curious to see how it will hold up against my memory and the vividness of Blu-Ray.(and props to Merlin Mann for giving it such a hearty endorsement)[...]

stream of consciousness on Dave ChappelleBig Daddy Kane - Ain't No Half Steppin'

Fri, 24 Apr 2009 22:06:41 GMT

-- I saw Chappelle perform last night and he was absolutely amazing... a verbal Mozart of our time.-- The show started around 11:30 pm and was over by 3:30 am... and that's considered a short set for his late night shows in SF. He comes here often to try out new material and also it felt to just hang out with the audience-- the venue was the Punchline in the Financial district, my first time there, a super intimate venue, about the size of two large living rooms. There was no line or anything to get in, each person had to show ID and sign their tickets upon collection at will call... thus eliminating scalper scum.-- I tried getting another ticket to take someone with me, but by the time I went to purchase, it was too late and could only get one out of the system... it was fine though, was nice to just focus 100% on the show and get into it-- There was no opener, he just walked right up on stage after entering through a side door and jumped into it with the audience-- This was unlike any other stand up I've seen in that it's a totally collaborative affair... he said at the beginning, "Just got finished doing a show, but don't worry, you're the late show, so yours will be longer and I have other stuff to say... each show is like a snowflake :)" -- There was a talkative Filipino woman in the audience and they had a good bit of banter to start things off as Dave's wife is also from the Philippines. She was very loud and had a lot to say, which led Dave to declare her "the most gangsta Asian woman I have ever met" (it also helped that she was wearing a Biggie t-shirt)-- In general, the audience was incredibly diverse, I'm pretty sure every major ethnicity group had a representative in the audience. I love this kind of atmosphere.-- I forgot to mention there was a DJ off to the side of the stage on the same level as the audience who was playing some 80s hip-hop classics before the show... turns out, it was Fuse, 2pac's old DJ.-- Before the show, I predicted Dave would talk about Obama, gay marriage, terrorism, Somali Pirates, and of course, he touched on all of these. He'd also take any random topic from the audience and riff off that at will-- During one bit, he talked about how extensively he's traveled the world and asked if anyone had a foreign background... I shouted out "Iran" and Dave and I had a funny back n' forth about the insanity of President Ahmadinejad. He asked me a few times to help him pronounce the name which was pretty fun and put me on the spot... I don't think he got any better at saying the name though. -- When I shouted Iran, there was an attractive woman sitting behind me that said under her breath, "He's not even Persian" which was weird. I turned around to get a look at her after Dave moved on to another country, and sure enough, she was Persian and didn't believe that I was. After speaking a sentence of Farsi to her, she seemed to look shocked... her thuggish looking boyfriend is apparently some club owner that Dave frequents when he's in town and he seemed weary of me making too much of a connection with his Persian trophy. Now back to the show...-- I won't go into all of the jokes since there was 4 hours worth, but one particular highlight toward the end was him just talking about music for an hour, while DJ Fuse would play him songs at random. It was really hard to tell how much of this part of the show was staged, but it sure did feel spontaneous. Fuse would play a mixture of hip-hop classics, with some weird songs mixed in ("Smells like Teen Spirit"... which he said was the first song that got black people to understand white music, the Benny Hill theme, Journey, Michael Jackson, etc...)-- One thing is clear with Dave, he has a deep connection with music. Any time a hip-hop song came on like Rakim, old Jay Z, Big Daddy Kane, etc he would get this look of intense focus and would recite every rhyme word for word. It's cle[...]

2nd closest to the heart (mix)

Thu, 05 Mar 2009 00:29:45 GMT

Being sick at home on a rainy day has its advantages.


-- Zip of individual tracks
-- One giant mp3 file

vol 1 is over here.

T6 is out da do'Night Control - Enunciated | Powered by

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 06:11:24 GMT

Yippie! We released the latest version of IE Toolbar yesterday which has been a pretty big undertaking and something I've worked on since I started at G00g. There are lots of small tweaks and invisible things in this release like improvements to the search box and launching in 40 languages, but there are two new big features that are worth mentioning. The first is the new tab page which you might've noticed if you tried Chrome, but this one has the added benefit of letting you you remove thumbnails for sites that you'd rather not see all the time (which was a big piece of feedback we got from Chrome users).


The 2nd and more exciting feature is a brand new search utility called the "QSB" (aka Quick Search Box) which lets you quickly execute a search at any time (whether you're in your browser or not) and it also provides access to the applications on your machine without having to mess with the Start menu or scouring through icons on your desktop. You can bring up the box either by clicking on the Google logo on your task bar or by pressing Cntrl+ spacebar.

If you use a mac, you can grab this as a standalone app from here.


For the small handful of you reading this who are still using IE :) give this new toolbar a try and send me your feedback!

Firefox users can get the new tab page feature via this version, but there won't be a QSB to play with sadly.

Lastly, G00g is now officially on Twitter if you're into that sort of thing.

what's good

Thu, 19 Feb 2009 04:57:31 GMT

-- I've been rock climbing pretty consistently since I came back from Asia and it's been interesting to see the challenge move from "OMFG, my forearms are destroyed" to "OMFG, I have no idea where to put my hands." I know I'm a walking stereotype by indulging in this particular hobby, but I can totally see why nerds enjoy it. The problem solving aspect is definitely appealing and the whole leveling system is perfect for a generation of people who grew up trying to level-up in RPGs and took great pleasure in finding the warp shortcuts in Super Mario.

-- The new Eno produced U2 album leaked apparently... I haven't checked it out yet, but the first track sounds promising. Nothing will beat Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and The Passengers as far as I'm concerned.

-- Been eating out way too much which is easy to do since the bay area is completely obsessed with food. It's a weird thing and I'm trying to catch myself from becoming just like all the other foodie zombies. Sure, eating great food is nice, but unlike music or other forms of art, you can't share it with others for free, so fixating on it too much is a rather masterbatory exercise. Just because one likes good food does not in and of itself make them interesting... unless they can bring an interesting angle to it like Anthony Bourdain or my friend Mariam.

-- I know very little about the producer, The Alchemist, but this XLR8R interview with him is great. I especially like what he says during the credits (paraphrasing)... if you're an artist and you see something that doesn't yet exist in the world, you're selfish if you don't do something to make it real so that others can enjoy it too.

-- Some friends and I are planning to sign up for a motorcycle class in March. I'm not running out the door to buy a motorcycle or anything, but I have a sizable number of friends lately that ride and it would be cool to have the skill at least to try it out.

-- The Until the End of the World soundtrack has held up well over time. I don't know much of Lou Reed's backcatalog, but I've always dug this song off the soundtrack...

UX FAQLindstrøm - Where You Go I Go Too | Powered by

Tue, 17 Feb 2009 00:31:43 GMT

In the last few weeks, I've been asked questions about the field of user experience design by both friends and a few strangers. Instead of writing my responses out over n' over, I figured a blog post might come in handy. Below is my own personal take on the basics of UX in FAQ form:1. What is "user experience" (aka "UX")?In a broad sense, this field examines both improving existing products and the creation of new ones that solve some sort of human problem or fulfill a desire. More often than not, this mainly involves the design of web sites, web applications, and client software (programs that run on a computing device vs the web).This narrow definition reflects the field as its practiced in techy areas like Seattle and Silicon Valley, but on a greater scale, "UX" means a whole lot more.If you really boil it down, anyone who prepares anything for someone else to consume is a UX designer... so by this definition, we are all UX designers. Telling someone a story: that's UX... DJs stringing together songs in a pleasurable way: that's UX... the sushi chef who prepares an omakase style diner: definitely UX.... filmmaking = UX. No matter what the particular example, these all share the common thread of understanding an audience and satisfying some kind of desire (to be informed, entertained, etc).2. Where do "user experience designers" work?Going by the definition above, someone with this printed on their business card can follow any of the following routes:A. working for a big corporation like Apple, Google, IBM, Oracle, Amazon, etcB. working for a startup or small company like TwitterC. working as a freelancer that goes from project to project with various clients (like my friend Sally)D. working for a design firm that also has multiple clients (Adaptive Path & ZAAZ are popular ones)A person in this role will spend their time thinking about how to make a given experience easier to understand and generally more appealing, hopefully even pleasurable!3. How do I know if UX is something I'd want to do for a living? (aka, "you might be a UX designer if...")A good litmus test is to look at how you live your daily life. Are you constantly looking for ways to improve the environment around you? Are you the type that gets enjoyment from optimizing your closet? Do you look for ways to make your daily routines more efficient? When you run into the inevitable bad user experience, do you only complain about it or do solutions to improve the frustration come to you naturally? The answer to these questions should give you a sense for whether UX is something you'd enjoy and be good at.4. How does UX differ from graphic design?One of the most common misconceptions about the field is that it's the same thing as graphic design. I understand the confusion as the two are very related. To put it as plainly as possible... one could have really crappy graphic desgn skills yet still be a great UX designer. Having art skills is certainly helpful, but it's not a requirement. Some of the best UX work is illustrated by stick figure diagrams and white board drawings covered in post-it notes. In fact, focusing too much on the visual details can often hinder a UX designer depending on the needs of the project (more on this later in the post). While graphic design is certainly a part of good UX, it's a subset which resides along side things like information architecture and usability.5. So I get it, UX does not equal making pretty graphics... what skills are needed then?-- Domain knowledge (behind the scenes)Many people in the tech UX world have degrees in computer science, even though they may not write a single line of code. Why is this useful? On several levels, but most importantly, without a fair bit of knowledge about the constraints of the thing being designed f[...]

25 things (facebook meme)Ryuichi Sakamoto - Railroad Man - Piano Version | Powered by

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 08:44:16 GMT

1. Even though I may come off as social, my favorite people are those I can be quiet around... just listening to music, reading, staring out the window on a car ride, etc. It takes awhile to get to that kind of comfort level with someone, but I really like it once I hit that point with a person.2. Staying up until ungodly hours of the night playing records for (or with) a friend is one of my most favorite things in life.3. Even though I like listening and exposing people to new music, I won't be satisfied creatively until I'm able to create songs of my own.4. My biggest pet peeve is feeling like I've had my time wasted. I try to keep mindful of my own behavior in this regard when interacting with others.5. Things I wish I had learned as a kid: how to write Farsi, rock climbing, surfing. They seem much harder to learn as an adult.6. I look fondly back on my time growing up in Houston and going to public school. Aside from my parent's influence on me, I feel like a big part of who I am comes from growing up in the south and wouldn't trade it for anywhere else in the world.7. My favorite instruments to hear in songs: piano, xylophone, saxophone, santour, Spanish guitar. If I hear a song with one of these elements, I will probably like it.8. I have a bit of an accessory fetish when it comes to women... cute glasses and cool sneakers. If a girl can rock these, it'll definitely grab my attention.9. I wish I could magically take every fundamentalist religious person and have them live in the culture they hate for awhile... just long enough for them to see how wrong their preconceptions were.10. I want to live in Iran for at least a year at some point in my life. If the political climate changes there towards more freedom in the future, I could see myself wanting to stay even longer.11. I think kids are amazing. Sure, there are some that are downright evil... but happy, well-behaved kids are so much fun to be around... so full of energy, curiosity, positivity, and creativity.12. On the same token, kids growing up in really sheltered suburbs where the internet is their main outlet for entertainment and socializing scare the hell out of me in terms of what our society will become with them at the helm.13. While I love SF, the perpetually nice weather here has been horrible in terms of my working on creative projects. I can clearly see why towns like Detroit and Sheffield became these burgeoning scenes for music... a certain amount of discomfort, frustration, and boredom is key for making something new.14. If I could have one super power, it would be the ability to go up to anyone in the world and talk to them without it being weird or awkward. 15. Another huge source of joy for me is connecting people who don't know each other and finding the thing in common that they share. This should explain #14.16. Whenever I get stressed out or think I have a big problem ahead, I say to myself, "remember Pluto." That helps to quickly remember how infinitesimally small the "problem" is in the big scheme of things.17. I take pride in being a really quiet sleeper. Having been around snorers before, it seems like some sort of great natural gift to be able to sleep without making a sound.18. My first name is short for "Ariobarzan," a famous Persian hero and my last name should actually be "Mazandarani," but my great grandfather changed his last name to the one I have now for some unknown reason. I'm contemplating changing it back at some point.19. If you want to see me at my happiest, see me when I'm traveling to a new place. Learning the quirks of the city, finding the good places to eat, chatting with locals, and soaking up as much culture as possible... I love it. I always leave these experiences feeling like a new person and with a renewe[...]


Sun, 01 Feb 2009 20:27:04 GMT

Man, I miss having Bill around. Hope you got that Hendrix harp concert after all.

info overload, a responseJugoe - Devil Woman | Powered by

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 08:08:41 GMT

A student in the program I came out of at UW sent me a well thought out paper on the topic of information overload. Here's an excerpt from my response to him:
The topic of information overload isn't easy to explore. The problem is different from person to person and varies wildly by culture. I've been thinking about it for years and "a struggle" is the best way I can describe it.

I think it boils down to the age old battle between the Buddhist idea of letting go of desire vs the very Western idea of continual progress (and striving to be the "best"). The internet provides us with the ability to become knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects in a way that would take much longer to achieve via traditional print media. But as Postman points out, the Faustian bargain here is that we rarely go deep into any one subject... we're a mile wide and an inch deep as the expression goes.

I think it's still up in the air to see what this will do to society as time moves on. What does a society comprised of super generalists and a handful of specialists look like?

In my job, I'm constantly thinking about the right balance between putting people in the path of more useful information vs the cost of having more noise to deal with. Twitter is a great example of this dichotomy. I find some really nifty things via Twitter and it's a great tool to keep up with my friends (especially those who I don't see in person often), but there's a hefty tax to pay for this benefit in terms of time and the mental energy it takes to sift through all the tweets I don't care about.

Another factor in all of this is how our tastes change as we get older. A stream of information I may have found interesting in the past may no longer be useful to me anymore, so there's this constant interplay of taking in new streams and unfollowing old ones.

The thing to learn in all of this is just because you can expose yourself to something, it doesn't mean you should. If memory serves, there's a science experiment where they give a mouse unlimited access to tasty food. The mouse can't help himself and eats to the point where it eventually dies. There are documented cases of this in the massive multiplayer game world where gamers die from playing the game for 3-4 days straight without a break. Obviously this addictive drive still exists in humans, to varying degrees of course, but it's there. We get the same kind of dopamine squirt in the brain when we learn something new or from processing a ton of information like taking an inbox of 200 emails down to zero... I've heard people describe such information processing as a "rush." The question I ask myself is "am I a happier, better person from all of this digital interaction?" The jury is still out on that one :)
taken from here.

Rick Steves' Iran

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 21:25:41 GMT

New documentary on Iran debuting this week on PBS...

(image) (image)

Looks pretty good from the preview.

Local broadcast times here. (It's on at 10 pm tonight in the bay area).

"To All My Valued Employees"

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 19:24:03 GMT

Just received this letter as an email forward from a family member.

Can someone who actually knows something about economics provide a rebuttal? It makes sweeping generalizations about the intentions of business owners and the author's policy descriptions seem sketchy.

Some thoughts after reading "Amusing Ourselves to Death"Anders Ilar - playing with the winds | Powered by

Tue, 13 Jan 2009 09:06:22 GMT

One thing I didn't do nearly enough of last year was read. I'm going to work on improving this in '09 and started along that path with this excellent book, circa 1985 by Neil Postman. I was introduced to Postman in grad school by way of his infamous speech, "Informing Oursleves to Death" which is one of the rare texts I find myself going back and reading every few months or so... the same goes for Graham's "What You Can't Say." Before I say anything more about the book, I wanted to first explain how I read the book.As a long time iTunes hater, it took me a while to warm up to it after I got an iPhone. Now having used it, I'm well aware of its shortcomings (libraries that span multiple computers & disks) and it's strengths (powerful database features around ratings). Since I now rate all the music I listen to, I'm able to create really enjoyable playists of just my favorite songs.By rating every single track, this forces me to be a much more engaged and analytical listener. As a music lover with a voracious appetite, disk space comes at a premium, so if a track doesn't cut the mustard, it's deleted. Here's how I use the iTunes 5 star scale for rating songs:5 = a song I can truly call a "favorite"... has super high replay value and will hopefully stand the test of time.4 = a pretty good song that I find enjoyable, but it's not moving any mountains for me3 = the wishy-washiest of ratings... I try to reserve it only for tracks that hold an album together like Board of Canada interstitials.2 = I'm learning stronly towards deleting it. I'll let these accumulate over time and will go back and listen to them occasionally... very rarely do they ever survive the 2nd pass.1 = means delete this at some point, it sucks big time.After using the ratings for awhile, I started thinking about applying this model to all areas of life... clothes, food, people... keep the good stuff and cherish it, toss out the stuff that doesn't matter.With regards to reading, before, I'd read books without making a mark in them ("books are cherished sacred objects" I thought), but then I remembered that I retain my reading a lot better when I write in the book like when I was studying for exams and writing papers. My technique back then was simple, just underline noteworthy passages and draw a quick star symbol next to things I thought were of particular importance.The problem with this method was that I'd put too many stars and underlines everywhere, which gave equal weight to too many parts of the text. When I go back to revisit the text, I might as well read the entire thing over again to really figure out the parts I liked most.I tried applying the iTunes model directly to "Amusing" and quickly discovered it tedious to draw out 5 stars as I was reading. After a bit more thought, I realized I could scale the rating system down to a 3 star method... 1 for good ideas, 2 for great ideas, and 3 for the kinds of ideas I'd want to commit to memory. If an entire page struck me as significant, I'd circle the page number and continue to underline particularly good phrases.So now having used this system all the way through a book, here's a summary of a few 2-3 star sections:-- Even though the book was written in 1985, it feels just as relevant now, if not more so thanks to the Internet.-- On daily TV news: "inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action"-- average American watches 4.5 hours of tv a day-- by age 65, they'll have spent 12 years in front of a TV (I'm sure with the internet, we can extend the years and amend this to include monitors and portable [...]

A reminder from Dale CarnegieBassmouse - The Condition Within | Powered by

Tue, 13 Jan 2009 05:32:54 GMT

“You can tell people they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words—and if you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride, and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds. You may then hurl at them all the logic of a Plato or an Immanuel Kant, but you will not alter their opinions, for you have hurt their feelings.”


Two fictitious male characters I like a lotLomax - ATM Presents Lomax Mix | Powered by

Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:29:51 GMT


and more recently, Omar:

my social universe

Fri, 09 Jan 2009 21:52:50 GMT

my social universe, originally uploaded by ario_j.

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2008 recapblame - logical progression vol 2.

Fri, 02 Jan 2009 09:37:07 GMT

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?Visited Hawaii/Japan/China, taught 2 design workshops, successfully cooked some good dishes on my own, brought Dr. Medina to Google, picked up some new UI design skillz, got deeper into yoga and rock climbing.2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?I actually failed miserably. It was to work on music. Oh well, let's carry it over to 2009! Also, be BOLDER in all aspects of life. Oh and one more: read more books.3. Did anyone close to you give birth?Wow, you guys were popping 'em out left and right this year. Big ups to Hez, Optic, Jaclyn, and Bob's babes!4. Did anyone close to you die?Nope, whew.5. What countries did you visit?Already answered this, so I'll change it to "Where would you like to visit in '09?" In order:Somewhere in South America, Spain, UK (dubstep vacation to the max), Turkey, Iran.6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?-- more bay area excursions-- more creative outlets-- more FOCUS7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?Every day that I was in Asia. I'll explain later.8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?Getting over to Asia.9. What was your biggest failure?See #2.10. Did you suffer illness or injury?My knee didn't worsen or improve, but I at least know exactly what makes it feel worse (keeping it bent for long periods of time) and what makes it better (yoga).11. What was the best thing you bought?iPhone was pretty great... many, many, many wonderful records from Aquarius and in Asia.12. Whose behavior merited celebration?All of you for getting Obama in there. Donte for continuing to have my back (real talk) and making like 5 trips up to SF. My folks, handful of great coworkers, Chi-City, and all my other friends wherever you are!13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?McCain for picking Pailn, seriously, WTF. All enemies of human rights around the world.14. Where did most of your money go?MUSIC, as usual.15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?The election was pretty damn amazing (election night in particular). My trip to Asia. Seeing Benga & Skream kill it.16. What song will always remind you of 2008?John Maus - "My Whole Worlds Coming Apart"17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?Hmm, I think about the same, although I'm more filled with optimism about the coming year than last year.ii. thinner or fatter?Same, I swear, since high school, no matter what I do, I'm within a +/- 4 pound range.iii. richer or poorer?No complaints, although, I should really learn more about investing.18. What do you wish you'd done more of?Nothing.19. What do you wish you'd done less of?Hesitating.20. How will you spend Christmas?Spent it with my folks in Houston as usual... t'was nice.22. Did you fall in love in 2008?With songs and places, yes.23. How many one night stands?Too many to count, as a matter of fact, it's night time outside and I'm standing right now!24. What was your favorite TV program?Planet Earth on Blu-Ray and the Daily Show. It used to be Heroes, but it's total ass now. Looking forward to watching Dead Set and The Wire.25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?No one is coming to mind.26. What was the best book you read?"Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. Been meaning to post about it for awhile now... perhaps someday. Read it.27. What was your greatest musical discovery?John Maus. Everything I picked up in [...]

ario's favorite albums of 2008Marginalman Aka DJ Tuttle - Arto Tuncboyaciyan & ARA Dinkjian / Balbul | Powered by

Sat, 27 Dec 2008 16:37:53 GMT

I find it sad when people say "music just isn't the same any more." While it may be true that the songs they have in mind are no longer in vogue, I sense it's more a problem of unearthing the good stuff from the crap. On that note, here's what moved me the most in '08...01. caspa & rusko - fabriclive.37Even in the absence of a new Burial record, dubstep continues to hold my interest and I'm glad to see no signs of the "movement" slowing down. Nothing captured the best of the current dubstep scene for me quite like this mix. It's always weird to consider a mix in a list of albums, but there's enough of their own material here that I think it counts (not to mention that the mixing is nearly flawless, which creates their own unique versions of the songs). Admittedly, I find the middle section of the 29 tracks here a little weak, but damn, the beginning and end hit so hard. Apparently they only had one take to record this (before the sound engineer had to take off), which may be contributing to the sense of tension that holds throughout. The last song, Conquest's "Forever" could very well play on forever as far as I'm concerned.02. benga - diary of an afro warriorAnother dubstep entry in the top 10 (had a hard time not making it #1). Like any form of electronic music, it's difficult to take a set of disparate tracks and turn them into an actual cohesive album, but that's exactly what we have here. This dude's production is amazing and I can't wait to see what he does next. (Also, along with Skream, he provided one of my show highlights for '08). Big ups to mikebee for introducing me to both this and the Caspa/Rusko mix at his fine bastion of music knowledge.03. m83 - saturdays = youthNot a big surprise here... I'm a huge fan of theirs, and while I think their last few releases never really equaled the brilliance of "Dead Cities," they reinvented their sound and became awesome to me again. Not to mention that this was my favorite show of 2008.04. john maus - love is realWhile technically a 2007 release, I don't think it really hit anyone's radar until January of this year (thx Aquarius!). By far the most bizarre and original music I've heard in a long time... this guy has some sort of inner demon that he's trying to exorcise with synthesizers and tortured (albeit catchy) lyrics. On sheer number of repeat listens, this would be #1, but I wound up playing it out and had to put it on ice for a few months. If you're a fan of non-sequiturs and 80s synth-pop, you owe it to yourself to check this out.05. cut copy - in ghost coloursAlong with M83, this is my other trendy pick of the year. "Lights and Music" and "Hearts on Fire" are pop perfection, particularly when that saxophone part kicks in on the latter. Two other things I like about them: they have really great interstitial tracks and they kick total ass live. I'd like to see them expand their sound more in the future.06. bohren & der club of gore - doloresA recent discovery courtesy of Aquarius, this is the sad-bastard-music album to end all sad-bastard-music albums. describes them as "funeral jazz" which is about as perfect a description as I've ever seen for a musical genre. The pace of their songs make Low feel like happy hardcore and the somberness is unlike anything I've heard. If Ian Curtis had access to "Dolores," it might've taken the place of Iggy Pop's "The Idiot" in his last hours.07. nine inch nails - ghosts i-ivTrent, I know you're a narcissist, so heed the Google Alert that[...]

My first image on Flickr (meme)

Sat, 13 Dec 2008 12:12:57 GMT

I remember really enjoying their set... industrial and techno peeps, all getting down on the same dancefloor. Pretty great when that happens. Richard Devine is another guy who can pull that off.

last hours in Tokyoperfume - polyrhthym

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 07:46:03 GMT

Wow, I had an amazing time here. Waiting for my flight to board for Beijing now and just reflecting a bit. I took so many photos and videos, it hurts my head to think about editing all of them when I get back, but it'll be worth it. Might be a good excuse to learn a video editing program for the mac. I know FinalCut is the gold standard... but I wonder if there's a free alternative that's also good for basic editing.

Some random highlights: walking around Shibuya & Shinjuku, Kichijoji area (Gibili Museum & Inokashira Park... Tokyo's "Greenlake"), onsens at Hakone, kushiyaki, Kiddy Land & MOMA store in Harajuku, riding around on the trains, the way they repeat the name of each train stop twice in this cute little voice, the J-Pop band Perfume, people watching, crazy ramen noodle places, 5 person bars that play Philip Glass & Aphex Twin, Food Show (their insanely high-end supermarket), record shopping (see below), Meiji Shrine, cookie crust cream puffs at Beard Papa, trips for snacks at 7-11, best & freshest sushi at Tsukiji market, Mori Museum and skydeck.

I definitely want to come back here (and hopefully with friends next time). Things I will miss: the incredible attention to detail, design, efficiency, the food, the embracing of technology, and my friends & coworkers here. Things I will not miss: the incredible emphasis on materialism, embracing some of the worst elements of American culture, money, status, reminders of the high suicide rates when you see the barriers on the tracks in the subway, and the awful state of women's place in society.

Another thing I'm not looking forward to is seeing my credit card bill. Tokyo is the best city I've ever been to for record shopping. They love to collect things in general, the more obscure, the better... which means they have an endless supply of rare and cool records... and boy did they do a great job of taunting me with them. I have lots of great stuff that I'll be digesting over the next few weeks and will hopefully turn the best stuff into a mix of some sort.

Traveling is so good for the soul... there is not just one "right" way to do things and it's useful to be reminded of this regularly.

Feeling incredibly grateful and looking forward to a totally different experience in Beijing. Over n' out.