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Last.fm Trains Robot Ears

In their post on advanced robotics, Last.fm explains how their using “robot ears” to identify music and make recommendations based on that. You can get in on the action by classifying the music yourself using their Robot Ears app and then comparing to what their algorithms came up with. I like the idea because I think (I hope?) I tend to be more interested in the style of music and want to hear more from artists who sound similar rather than just taking socially implied similarities between artists. Though sometimes I do like to put on “Bush” in Pandora and relive the 90’s alternative scene, I think most times I’m actually looking for a new artist that sounds similar to the ones I like, and it will be interesting to see if actual sonic analysis yields better results.

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Jay-Z is on fire, and so is Lala.com

So, I just got The Blueprint 3. It’s $4.99 on Lala.com, but only $3.99 on Amazon. I got it from Lala to support the little guy. I decided it was worth $5 after only the first 7 songs – two of which I’d already got the “web version” of on Lala. It’s that good.

But, after buying the MP3s, I discovered that there’s a Beta section in Lala, which – among other things – lets you scrobble tracks to Last.fm.

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I may never buy another MP3 again! Considering I can open a tab in Firefox, play songs on Lala.com using less RAM than iTunes (with much faster reaction time from the app), AND have them scrobbled to Last.fm… the only advantage that MP3s have is that I can put them on my iPhone… but I don’t really listen to music on my iPhone; I usually listen to audiobooks in the car or when I’m walking or whatever (and the audiobooks come from the Chicago Public Library via Overdrive download or imported Audio CD). Also, I could back up my 15 GB of music on my desktop computer (using Hamachi) and then have an extra 15 GB on my laptop hard drive (which I’m hoping would improve the read/write performance of my computer). And since it’s synced via the Lala Music Mover, I know that those backed up songs are going to be available on Lala.

So, that’s the interesting part of the tech stuff. I’m about to do one of those track-by-track album reviews right now (possibly my first ever, but certainly a copycheated idea; gotta keep up my copycheating cred to hold the belt).

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Further Proof that People Don’t Understand The Internet

Even though the Update to this post on TechCrunch about Last.fm and the RIAA says that Last.fm hasn’t handed over any user data to the RIAA, um, guess what? There’s at least 3 different websites (and those are just the ones I know of) (that are pretty easy to find with a simple Google search) that will allow the RIAA to put in your Last.fm username and find all your other social profiles. Do you have your real, full name in Twitter? Is your Twitter username the same as your Last.fm username? Are you listening to unreleased tracks that you illegally downloaded (like, say, the new U2 album)? Busted.

See, I’d rather have everyone in the world know that I have listened to Hillary Duff (*awful BTW*), Mandy Moore, and Leona Lewis than to have the RIAA be able to easily figure out that I’m listening to music that I obviously should not have access to.

To their credit, TechCrunch does say:

Incidents like this highlight how the social Web can sometimes bite back if you are not careful. It also raises the issue of who owns all of this data about you and what they can do with it. Unfortunately, it’s come down to this: you really shouldn’t share any data on the Web you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing in a court of law.

Yeah, it’s sticky when it comes to things like photos you upload to Facebook. But, when you are uploading/scrobbling your music listening to Last.fm, I don’t think it’s sticky at all. To me, that is all public domain data. I know that anyone and their mother can look at my listening history. But it’s clear that some people don’t really think about that. Again, as TechCrunch puts it:

most probably never even considered it a possibility that individually identifiable information about their listening habits (legal, illegal, or otherwise) could be handed over to an organization known for taking consumers to court for file-sharing. What makes this even more egregious is that it appears to be absent any legal precedent (such as a pending lawsuit) for which Last.fm could at least hide behind as an excuse.

Really, though, the RIAA could probably hire a code monkey to create a script to pull all the usernames from Last.fm who have pre-release U2 songs scrobbled, then either pull their name from Last.fm (if available) or search for other publicly available profiles to find your full name, and the do a quick Zabasearch to find your home address and/or phone number.

Now, of course, I think the RIAA needs to take a chill pill with the whole lawsuit thing in the first place, but the point of this post (if you didn’t guess from the title) is that people don’t realize that something like Last.fm can make their illegal activity available for everyone in the world to see. The same concept is easily applied to people in networks on Facebook. You know how many people that I’m not friends with in the Chicago network have hundreds of pictures of themselves which I can see posted on Facebook? I don’t either, but it’s a lot. Granted, most of them aren’t doing illegal things, but I’m sure there are some pictures that they wouldn’t necessarily want a complete stranger who just happens to live (or say they live) in the same city to see. There’s a reason that bank robbers don’t usually just walk in and wave at the security cameras while pulling off their heist. Does that mean we all need to learn to think like bank robbers when using the internet? No, but you might want to think like that when you’re doing something you know is illegal.

Bonus Link: If you’re going to kill your wife and try to make it look like a mugging, don’t search for things like “Medical trauma gunshot chest”, “Immigrating to Brazil”, “acute blood loss”. At least, not on your home computer.

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Finely tuned ear muscles

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Now, while I can assure you that not everything Timbaland touches turns to gold, I can assure you that I have been Jocking (yes, capital J – it’s currently #9 in the past 6 months according to last.fm/nwadycki) Apologize since this album came out in – as you can see above – March 2007. It’s just hitting the radio now. That does give you an idea of just how good the album it, though. It’s not without holes, but it’s one album that is definitely worth paying for (which, of course, is what I most certainly did), as opposed to a lot of other albums this year that I’m glad I was able to “preview” before buying.

On another Timbaland note, that Ayo Technology song would actually be pretty good if it didn’t have 50 Cent on it. It’s not necessarily a knock on 50, cause he’s made one or two good songs. That song just doesn’t suit him as well as it fits with New Justin. (Please note the clever use of suit and fit there)

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