Python code sets any song a-swingin’

Don’t Stop Believin’ (Swing Version) by plamere

This has to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Well, heard, really. Most of the time when you think of audio manipulation, it’s means marring the sound in some awful way. The pitch changes or the sound just goes all to hell. That’s what makes this process so special. It can swing a song, any song. You should recognize the example above.

The code comes courtesy of Music Machinery. Be sure to check out the other examples they’ve got.


iPad numbers herald the death of netbooks

iPad vs. netbooks.You had to see the death of the netbook. The little laptops are unbearably cramped, with crappy keyboards, tiny touchpads, and screen resolutions that could make even your grandparents beg for more. Netbooks were the lame intermediary while tablets waited for their messiah, and now that they have one, the tablets are taking over.

According to a study by Retrevo, some 70 percent of netbook buyers were courted by the iPad and 30 percent made the final commitment. Though those other 40 percent still stuck with their netbooks, I’d imagine the decision was largely financial. It’s hard to beat $200 for a semi-functional computer to kick around. It’s hard to put a price on not looking pretentious, too.

That 30 percent isn’t exactly the blowout you might expect, but it is a signpost pointed at the heart of the netbook industry. Manufacturers like Dell would do well to pay attention. The great thing about netbooks was portability and nothing else. If you can get the portability with more interesting device, that netbook is going to start to look pretty crappy and you might want to look into a more powerful Lenovo notebook computer, or just go for the iPad if ultimate portability is what you’re looking for.


The Color Kindle is a long way off

Jeff Bezos with the Kindle.With the launch of the iPad, a lot of people (myself included) thought the Kindle was dead. I still don’t believe in purpose-built devices, but I can see the value of the device in the interim, that is, before tablets overtake the reader. But Amazon wants to stay competitive. Bezos is still building out the Kindle team if we are to believe recent job postings.

Most people believe the postings are for the development of the Color Kindle, but Amazon’s CEO tells a different story. According to Jeff Bezos, Amazon is “still some ways out” from delivering a color version of the device.

This isn’t news so much as it is an update. We heard last year that color e-ink displays were years off, but it’ still sobering news for the Kindle devotees.


J. Allard leaves Microsoft, the world will hardly notice

J. Allard and Bill Gates.This is the big story today. J. Allard, father of the Xbox, will be retiring from his position at Microsoft. I say “retiring” because there has been so much speculation about why he was leaving and whether he got fired and what he’s going to be starting and on and on and on. He’s just retiring – taking a leave to go explore the things he didn’t have time to explore when he was working a billion hours a week at Microsoft.

To me, though, this isn’t really news. Allard was involved in some great projects – projects that made Microsoft a ton of money – but none of it has really been incredible. In many cases, the Microsoft products Allard has worked on have succeeded not because of incredible innovation but because it was the only game (or one of very few games) in town.

Consider the original Xbox. We knew about it for years leading up to the launch, and the best thing about it wasn’t the controller or the processor or the original Live experience (which was terrible, by the way). The best thing about Xbox 1.0 was a game called Halo. To me, the Xbox was the natural evolution of consoles, and Live was just the maturation of the console form to keep up with multiplayer standards PC players had enjoyed for decades prior.

The Xbox 360 followed the same path as the original – the natural evolution of console gaming. The Live system is better, but still not great by any means, and I know very few people who use their 360 in the ways the commercials would have you believe every geek has his home connected. There are some neat features, like Netflix streaming for one, but there isn’t anything that is truly innovative about the 360. It didn’t change the way I see the entertainment world any more significantly than, say, an iPod video did when it was announced. It performed virtually the same function as the device before it, just a bit better.

My point in all of this is that the last decade or so of devices coming out of Microsoft have been pretty mundane. Anticipated. Expected. I haven’t seen much in the last decade that has made me say, “wow,” in that breathy, holy-shit-you-just-blew-my-mind kind of way. Allard was at the helm for some good stuff, but it was just that – good. Nothing great. Nothing spectacular. His decision to retire will have about as much impact on the gadgets we see as will his decision to pursue “adventure sports.” All the best to you, J., but I can’t say I’m going to miss you.


Is Wi-Fi the answer to AT&T’s network problems

Times Sqaure.AT&T has a revolutionary and imaginative solution to its network congestion problems in places like NYC: Wi-Fi. Okay, so it’s neither revolutionary or imaginative, but it could actually work.

AT&T plans to rollout free Wi-Fi across Times Square as a test bed for traffic offloading. The idea is that all those crazy people stomping around one of the most active city hubs will use the Wi-Fi network to upload pictures and Facebook posts and shoot off emails to mom and dad about their visit to the Big Apple, instead of relying on AT&T 3G. The result would be thousands of gigs of data traversing a much wider pipeline, giving you the chance to, I dunno, make a reliable phone call for a change.

The only thing is, the network has to actually work. I can see this thing getting a solid rollout and then bombing, which will undoubtedly result in a big data push as angry users send their rants to Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress accounts, all back on the old 3G pipeline. Done right, though, this could be a huge boost to congested network performance. Remind me again, why did it take until 2010 for this become a reality?

Photo from: Declan McCullagh