WCHL Village Pride Award

I was just honored by our local AM radio station WCHL 1360 with the Village Pride Award. A pretty cool thing to receive. Here is the mp3 of their mini peice about me. Thanks to WCHL, Ruby, and Ron Stutts
WCHL Village Pride Award – Brian Russell

A little context: WCHL is our hyper local news and Tar Heel sports station. If you live in Chapel Hill and Carrboro for any length of time you’ll start listening. Especially to Woody Durham, “Voice of the Tar Heels“, during Tar Heel basketball season.

Spoken Wikipedia Articles

I was just reading a Wikipedia entry about Thomas Pynchon. Scrolling to the bottom to look at some sources I noticed a link to some audio. (YES teachers wikipedia is cited.) Of course its in the open source audio format OGG. I had to find an app to open it. Fortunately I have the VLC media player installed on my Mac and it handled it easily. You can also listen to the OGG audio with a java applet in your browser. I think QuickTime may do it too. Soooo… while I was listening to the audio I realized it was a recording of the text of the Thomas Pynchon article I had just been reading. Wow! Audio recordings of spoken Wikipedia Articles.

Turns out anyone can record and submit them. There is a process for this outlined on the Wikipdedia:WikiProject Spoken Wikipedia page. Plus links to articles already recorded and ones people have requested be recorded.

I hope I find time to record some of these soon. I’ve recorded long writings before and let me tell you… it ain’t easy. People who record books for tape professionally have talent and skill! What a wonderful resource this is for the blind and people who learn well by listening.

Nocturnal Barred Owl Music

Strix Varia
A few nights last week we slept with our windows open. Sometime after midnight but before dawn a LOUD chorus of birds starts making a serious racket. The sound that woke me up first was “hoo, hoo, too-HOO; hoo, hoo, too-HOO, ooo”. Last year at our old house I remember hearing something similar. (I didn’t see the birds but I guess it might have looked like the animal in the picture above.)

What made this spooky night time show by some Barred Owls (aka Hoot Owls) different was the sheer number of calls. I swear there must have been at least three or four of them. Just when one set of Hoo Hoos would start another would chime in. Like a round of row row your boat. It is spring here in North Carolina so maybe those where matting calls.

Once I woke up enough not to think I was dreaming I thoroughly enjoyed their music. Before I had only heard one or two calls at a time. This was a full on symphony performance! Over and Over again. Each time with a short gap in between the calls. I waited annciously for each new set of Hoo hoos. We are so luck to have all the trees near us that birds love. Cardinals, Red Headed Woodpeckers, morning doves, finches, etc.

Gota set up some recording gear in the future and make it easy to start when asleep. 🙂 Until then this webpage titled Barred Owl Vocalizations has a ton of great recordings. I think I must have heard some Simultaneous Calling.

Barred Owl – Strix varia

Will DRM disapear?

This is my favorite part of Steve Jobs letter Thoughts on Music:

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

Yet when you read this part you can’t help but wonder what this letter has todo with law suites in Europe.

Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries. Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.

At the end of the day if Apple can champion the END of DRM the people formally known as consumers will throw their dollars at them. People don’t want DRM. Their is no fiscal future in it and Apple knows it.

(Is this Apple’s version of astroturf?)


A description of this wonderful music by YouTube user sasayakanaru:

This electronic musical instrument is called “Matryomin“. This was developed by Japanese musician [Masami Takeuchi] ,made by the base of “Theremin” and Russian dall “Matryoshka“.The interval and the volume are controlled by holding up the hand in the antenna in the dall, and changing the distance of the antenna and the hand.

Big hat tip to Billy Sugarfix for sharing this with us on his blog.

Leon_Theremin_Playing_Theremin Leon Theremin playing his invention the Theremin