google

GOOGLE MAPS UPDATE TAKES YOU EVERYWHERE AND MORE
September 20, 2016 9:51 am

Google is everywhere. Google is the titan of the internet that can basically do anything, between Gmail, Drive, Chrome and Chromebooks, most of the world depends on it for day to day life. As this king of the interwebs, updates happen all the time, often with fun, great additions.

Google Maps is my favorite map app and I use it all the time. As soon as Google Maps came out years ago, I started using it leaving Mapquest in the dust. I use it all the time, going to various places everyday and I don’t know how I would get around without this app. But my issues were having to figure out the fastest route to all the places at home on my computer and I could never do it on the fly while out and about. So get ready everyone, Google Maps has brought multiple locations to shift around and plan out on the road.

The app itself and the update is as simple and as wonderful as always, but the new addition of multiple locations is practically perfect. Adding in the second and third places is just as easy as entering the first locations. For now you can add at least nine extra locations while organizing them any way that you need, having a grand total of ten locations not including your point of origin. That’s pretty impressive especially because of the perfectly smooth and fluid running of the app with all these other things it has to worry about. Moving around the addresses and switching and searching different places around is very easy and even searching for restaurants or gas stations nearby and adding them into your complex trip is also just as easy.

It is a great update and I’m very happy this finally made it too the app. I’ve been waiting a long time and now it makes my life way easier. Check it out and start planning some road trips!

THE PHILANTHROPIC POETRY OF NAS
June 30, 2016 1:26 pm

Who’s World is This? (The World is Yours The World is Yours) It’s Mine It’s Mine It’s Mine, Who’s World is This?

This year, the world clearly belongs to Nas. Everyone else is just living in it.

Nasir Jones–better known by his stage name Nas–is consistently ranked among the top rappers of all time. He’s been spitting bricks about social justice for minorities and growing up in the Queensbridge housing projects since he dropped his 1994 Illmatic, an essential hip-hop classic. Since then seven of his records have been certified platinum–he is an undisputed master, an urban poet laureate.

Even Harvard University can’t deny his profound impact on culture.

In 2013, Nas forged a partnership with the Ivy League School, thus establishing the Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship with the broad intention of funding scholars and artists who demonstrate exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with Hip Hop. Now I know what your thinking–Harvard?! But hip-hop is less than 50 years old, has introduced sampling to the general collective conscious, and has been a key factor in not only enabling people of all backgrounds to think critically about society, but also acting as a tool for minorities to offer a strong sense of community and an expression of life through the eyes of the silenced. The Hip Hop Archive & Research Institute and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute will utilize the fellowship to bring in hip hop talent, fund projects, and allow the next generation of underprivileged poets to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement. It doesn’t stop there. In addition to helping pave the way for the next generation of hip-hop talent, Nas also wants to shake up the white and male-dominated tech sphere.

Nas isn’t alone in his assertion that Silicon Vally doesn’t have a diverse enough workplace–especially when you factor in that California is also one of the most diverse states in the country. Even Google admitted they needed to work on diversity when they released this report a few years ago. Then in 2014, the Internet services giant, along with Nas and software mainstay Microsoft, began collaboratively funding an initiative by The General Assembly (GA). The New York-based vocational program specializes in providing scholarships to underrepresented African Americans, Latinos and women that want to persuit a career in software engineering and web design. Pretty cool stuff Nas.

If you’re still unimpressed, Nas isn’t done giving back quite yet either. Nas will be hosting a free music festival for you New Yorkers this summer! In collaboration with his own Mass Appeal Magazine, Live At The BBQ will feature Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Shadow, Danny Brown, and Machine Gun Kelly.

SPOTLIGHT ON: MUSICOVERY
October 28, 2015 8:55 am

In an internet radio world dominated by big players like Pandora, Sirius XM, Apple Music, Google Play and Spotify, the little guys have a lot to prove just to keep up.

Musicovery is an app that integrates mood-based listening with online radio. It does so in the Songza vein; however, in a much more simplified fashion. While Songza boasts twenty different moods, Musicovery selects the big four: “Energetic,” “Calm,” “Dark,” and “Positive.” The four moods are set up like a grid with the “Energetic” and “Calm” on the North and South poles and “Dark” and “Positive” on the West and East poles. The user selects an area on the grid and the service plays a song based on both where the selected area falls on the mood spectrum and additional genre preferences the user can select.

Sometimes less is more. Other times, less is just less.

While Musicovery’s inclusion of only four moods certainly lightens the workload of the listener, it does not provide the ultimate experience that a more complex service like Songza provides. The few mood choices make the listening experience haphazard and difficult to listen to if you are a listener who has specific taste. Additionally, Musicovery’s lack of activity-based customization reduces the overall efficacy of the platform. If a user isn’t feeling in a particular mood but is doing a particular activity, the user cannot utilize the platform. Finally, the abundant technological setbacks, like not having an app with iPhone compatibility and bugs on the desktop site, make the user experience a frustrating one.

Amidst the more negative analysis, there is a silver lining to Musicovery. I have never seen a more diverse and global approach to the online radio listening experience. Musicovery is a go-to for a listener with a wide range of musical interests spanning every genre and every country of origin. For a World Music lover like me, this app is a great destination for a more globally focused listening experience.

At the end of the day, Musicovery’s globally focused listening experience cannot compensate for its lack of mobile accessibility, glitches on the site, scarce mood options and lack of activity-based listening. While I would love to root for the little guy, I find myself sticking with the big guns like Songza (acquired by Google and integrated into Google Play) and Spotify… at least for now.

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EX MACHINA: MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY, INVERTED
June 7, 2015 3:48 pm

WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

“Isn’t it strange, to create something that hates you?”  -Ava

Going into Ex Machina, I expected a soundtrack reminiscent of The Matrix: something gritty and electronic, with beeps and boops and screeching computer noise. What I got was far closer to Her than The Matrix, with melodic textures emphasizing a decidedly human view of technology and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Cold, reverberant soundscapes dominate the film, especially scenes involving the humans Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) and Nathan (Oscar Isaac). However, once the artificially intelligent Ava (Alicia Vikander) enters the picture, the soundtrack reflects a distinctly organic quality. The first guitar is introduced just as Caleb sees Ava from afar. Cellos erupt when we first meet Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), Nathan’s servant and AI prototype. Scenes of nature, however, are peppered with pulsating synths and digital noise. This inversion of humanity and technology permeates the film and gives it its distinctive, otherworldly quality. 

Take, for example, the many sessions Caleb enjoys with Ava, under Nathan’s watchful eyes. A pulsating, heartbeat-esque bass synth enhances each of these intimate moments, helping to underline Ava’s inherent humanity, one of the central themes of the film. Her robotic body belies her very human personality, and the music furthers this contradiction. As Caleb (and the audience) try to decipher and define Ava’s unique reality, our preconceptions are consistently undermined by the instrumentation and mood of the soundtrack.

Ex-Machina the movie

There is one scene in which human characters interact with “human” music, but the effect is notably uncomfortable; Caleb and Kyoko have a bizarre interaction in which Kyoko tries to initiate sex with Caleb, only to have Nathan interrupt. To Caleb’s increasing discomfort, Nathan and Kyoko begin a loosely coordinated dance, complete with loud, overwhelmingly out-of-place disco music. The apparent humanity of the music would be the only outlier of the human/AI inversion-dynamic of the film, were it not for the audience’s natural empathy toward Caleb, and our corresponding feeling of discomfort. 

The intersection of Ava’s artificial intelligence and her humanity lies in her sexuality, which begins as a seemingly innocent byproduct of AI and develops into an invaluable tool at her disposal. At first, these scenes are notably absent of music; Caleb and Nathan discuss the purpose of sex and attraction in a moment of quiet relief. When Caleb and Ava do eventually kiss (during a poorly explained dreamlike fantasy), guitars suddenly burst through quiet ambient synths. As Ava learns how to control her sexuality, the corresponding analog sounds turn more and more digital, so at the final climax when Ava covers herself in synthetic skin and completes her attempt at becoming human, the audience is finally blasted with the computerized, bit-crushed noise that I had expected to hear throughout the film. The effect is powerful, and the inverted relationship between human identity and computerized music reaches its conclusion. 

Ex-Machina the movie

While the technology behind artificial intelligence is central to the film, the more salient point is the process behind Ava’s seamless interaction with humanity. Nathan is the founder and CEO of “Bluebook,” an obvious allegory to Google, and as such he holds an enormous wealth of information at his fingertips. In order to give Ava as much information to work from as possible, Nathan reveals that he has hacked into all the world’s search engine data—yes this is illegal, he says, but the phone companies can’t call him out without revealing that they, too, are illegally monitoring citizens’ private conversations. Apparently this film takes place in an alternate, Edward Snowden-less universe, but the point remains that megadata is very powerful, and a company’s ability to harness this power dictates its ability to grow and develop its technology. Nathan explains that while owning a search engine provides access to what people think, the real treasure is determining how people think, and that with the right analysis of humanity’s megadata we can recreate the human brain, and thus create artificial intelligence.

Whether this is a good idea remains to be seen.

Ex-Machina the movie