Posted on May 17th, 2015
Filed under: General Noise,Reviews — Karl Olson @ 12:00 AM
For a computer scientist and a nerdcore rapper, I’m not terribly big on device upgrades. You’d think I’d always chase new gadgets, but I’m still using the same desktop computer I’ve been using since 2009 (barring a processor upgrade before the socket was discontinued and Black Friday SSD and RAM upgrades.) Had I not run into various problems with my previous phones, I’d probably still be using the Galaxy Nexus I was given at Google I/O 2012. It did everything I needed more or less until the screen cracked. From there I’ve been on a Lumia 521 and a Moto G, both of which were less than stellar with battery life, and both of became erratic after firmware updates (dialer crashes in the middle of calls on the Lumia, force closes due to bad memory management in Android 4.4.4 on the Moto.) Still, I would’ve kept them if they didn’t get weird on me.
My ideal solution: buy a phone with a huge battery built in, and while I’m at it make it a dual sim one since I’m currently bouncing between the US and Canada. Hopefully the firmware never goes sideways, but if it does, the phone should be so inexpensive so that I don’t have to worry about the cost of replacement. Previously, this would’ve been a tall, if not impossible, order. However, as it turns out, a phone was released this spring that fit that bill brilliantly: the BLU Studio Energy D810U, which goes for a mere $150.
This is the point where I expect you to be like “the what phone?” and really that’s quite justified. BLU is a young company out of Florida that more or less puts their badge on designs from various Chinese OEMs, then sells them unlocked directly via retailers like Fry’s and Amazon. However, BLU has been clever about carefully selecting and wisely tweaking the more interesting models from those OEMs, and the Studio Energy is no exception. With it’s outstanding 5000mAh battery, this phone can swing a couple days of reasonable use like it’s nothing, and even with brightness turned up fully and processor intensive work like writing and rendering multiple songs in Caustic 3 and streaming anime off Crunchyroll, I’ve never put it on the charger lower than about 40 percent. That means it’s gone from 8am to 1am (or later) with a workload that’s completely inconsiderate towards battery longevity. It’s not going to play the very latest 3D Android games, but it’s otherwise entirely functional, and most importantly, it’s functional all day long – no range anxiety, ever.
Sure, it’s not without compromises. Hardware wise, the massive battery life means it’s not svelte (though it’s thinner than you’d expect,) and that battery isn’t swappable. It’s only capable of HSDPA speeds, and it’s bands are so limited you need a different model to get those top speeds depending on your carrier. Further still, it only has a MediaTek MT6582 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, half of which is soaked up by Android, though a MicroSD card slot alleviates storage concerns. Still, it’s not buttery smooth all the time, and that’s technically a trade off (though, it’s not like the Moto G it replaced never stuttered.) Those looking for top specs beyond battery will be let down. Software wise, it’s lightly skinned, but if you’re coming from stock Android, you might find yourself running to get everything as close as back to stock ASAP.
However, I think for most smartphone users, battery matters way more than any other consideration, whether they realize that or not. Besides, given it’s current competition in this price point, it easily holds it’s own on performance, camera and storage. I would take this over the current Moto E, Moto G or low-end Lumias any day of the week, and they’re really only phones that compete with this currently. More importantly, it’s worked great in real world usage as my sole phone for the past couple months. It does the jobs it should do, and it’s even changed my use behavior with my phone. Since I don’t worry about the battery life, I’ve already written a few EPs in Caustic 3 while commuting on the train using the Studio Energy (by the way, this means the DAC is alright too.) I wouldn’t do that on any other phone without having a charger at work if not an external battery pack. Even pounding the battery with GPS and high brightness are no longer worrisome scenarios. I haven’t taken the car charger out my car yet, but the only time I bother to throw it on is if I’m making a day long drive, and really, I don’t have to, I just feel like I should.
One day, this phone will come without its tradeoffs, but that goes for the flagships too, and until the day I can have no tradeoffs, I’m going with the phone that can still provide directions after a long flight or late concert. The fact that it costs a fourth of what a top flagship does is just a victory lap.
Comments Off on My Blu Life: Two Months In
Posted on April 4th, 2015
Filed under: General Noise,Music News — Karl Olson @ 10:11 PM
So, it’s not a super responsive dream site, but it’s clean and lean and will be improved farther on those notes while hopefully adding functionality. Gone are the old style style links in favor of a leaner, more modern look.
Meanwhile, I’ve been on Vaporwave-ish kick, and the results have been available to my subscribers on bandcamp for the past month. However, I’ve also started transitioning them to YouTube and non-exclusivity, so if you want to re-live a sleep misspent afternoon in a dead mall, below it your soundtrack:
Comments Off on This Is My Aesthetic
Posted on February 23rd, 2015
Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 2:45 PM
In other news, I will be redesigning this site after about a decade of keeping it pretty similar. I’m not sure what all I’ll keep and cut. I’m terrible about minding this blog, so I might just throw it into archive mode, or at least defocus it in favor of the social media sites I (begrudgingly yet regularly) update. I might also better integrate the various online listening and purchase options for my albums into an actual, single structure as part of this, but that’s maybe a phase two of any redesign. On a basic level though, I want something with a more modern, more-standards complaint design. I might even set it up to handle mobile without a plug-in, but only if my implementation is better than the plug in.
Still, the redesign is a key to-do since I’m not going to be doing physical releases again any time soon. I’m going to pivot towards focusing on online releases via the new subscription option on bandcamp, and I’m taking on more paid production work for other artists. (If you’re interested that, get at me via one of the options on the contact page.) As such, I want to have a page that’s actually worth visiting since my online presence will probably be my only presence for the foreseeable future.
Anyways, cop that new album, and tell me what you think of it.
Comments Off on Romance Language 3, Upcoming Redesign & Other News
Posted on May 25th, 2014
Filed under: Code — Karl Olson @ 6:50 PM
So a while back a rather interesting chart was posted online noting the unique words used in the first 35,000 words of many major MCs. Of course, being an MC, musician and computer scientist, I was immediately intrigued yet let down. Obviously, you can’t really put up the exact same source lyrics since that would be infringement (sadly), but it would’ve been awesome if some source code was available and at least a listing of the sources used.
So, I just built my own solution that would be a lot more transparent, and that could eventually act as a framework for something more collaborative.
On one hand, it’s a really basic word count. However, it has a lot of nice, little tweaks that let the user (probably an insecure rapper like myself,) carefully manipulate the behavior of any automatic reformatting and correction of their text. To further demonstrate the transparency of how it works, it show not only the unique counts, but it also shows a raw JSON count of the object (that will probably be wired into some graphing functionality in future,) and the processed version of the input so that you can see exactly what any replacement has done. Beyond that, there is a also field for inputting excluded words if you want to see what happens to the unique word count if you exclude certain common words as well.
On that note, here are unique word counts for the following artists first 35000 words (or as many words as they’ve released to date if they don’t have 35000+ words on their own official, non-best of albums):
Aesop Rock: 8411/35000 (sourced from lyricswiki**)
mc chris: 6467/35000 (sourced from A-Z Lyrics**)
MC Frontalot*: 5163/21708 (sourced from his own website**)
Whoremoans*: 3682/19779 (forwarded directly to me from a transcription, no edits made by me.)
Ultraklystron: 6492/35000 (from my own archives**)
*=under the 35000 count.
**=manually corrected for variations in spelling, transcription errors and reduced repetition of choruses when feasible.
I want to note these numbers are obtained after removing non-essential punctuation, making it all lowercase and removing apostrophes via the Lyricist page. Additionally, as noted, I also corrected for transcription errors and inconsistent spelling and also removed obvious repetition like choruses/hooks since there is no consistency in the notation of that kind of thing. Also omitted when possible/reasonable were any lyrics from featured MCs on those artist’s releases. In the case of annotations that didn’t clearly breakdown which MCs said what, the entire song was cut from the count.
Lessons Learned so far:
-There is so much variation in the count due to the very issues I’m trying to correct for above that at best, you can probably say that if two rappers are within a 500 words of each other, they’re probably comparable when it comes to vocabulary, even after running corrections/clean up over all of their lyrics. This is reinforced by the fact that MCs will trade spaces depending on the removal of apostrophes or not.
-Most MCs hit a logarithmic ceiling as they go on with time. Aesop doesn’t appear to though. In fact, even if a fan put serious time into working through and getting a very accurate transcription of his first 35000 words fully corrected for any of the possible duplicates sneaking by, he’d still probably be smashing it.
-I have a lot of artists I want to gradually add this to list (MC Lars, Megaran and YTCracker to name 3 off the top of my head,) but finding a good, preferably single source for their lyrics is going to critical to the accuracy of the analysis.
-Making this an un-moderated, open source list will probably be a fiasco. To make this work, it almost needs to be integrated into Rap Genius or something similar. I kind of hope this spurs the major lyrics site into integrating this kind of analysis as a way of engaging people with the words of their favorite musicians and MCs at a lexicographical level.
Comments Off on Lyricalist Alpha & Nerdcore MCs Verbal Perspicasity
Posted on March 31st, 2014
Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 11:58 PM
This isn’t April Fools’ Day nonsense. Or if it is, all you have to do is press play above or here and spoil it in the comments. Anyways, pay what you want. I assume that’ll be 0 though.