Monthly Archives: August 2011

Why I Switched from Rdio to Spotify


Remember when I reviewed the United States coming of streaming music service Spotify? Well, it looks like I was dead wrong. I complained about the price point, the usability of the software, and the way it presented gapless albums. Well, now I’m switching my streaming music solution from a cocktail of Music Beta by Google and Rdio  to Spotify. Here’s why.

1. Aesthetics

I’m not gonna lie. I may be an  Android user at heart, but I still care about shallow appearance and user interface. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at these apps.

Here’s what Rdio looks like on Android:

Rdio for Android

And here’s what Spotify looks like on Android:

Spotify on Android

Spotify just plain looks better. Since neither has a tablet app, this becomes doubly important on Honeycomb Tablets. Since I just bought an Acer Iconia Tab a500, this is a huge issue for me. The Spotify app just fits the design language for Honeycomb better.

2. Streaming Quality and Fidelity

Since I started using primarily Rdio, I have noticed how poor the streaming quality really is. The tracks sound like they’re coming out of a tin can, even at High Quality. Furthermore, streaming is rarely available or practical. Even on my home Wi-Fi (802.11N connected to a DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem with Comcast’s Blast Internet Package- up to 50 mbps), it can take 10-15 min to buffer enough of a song that it will stream. Then each subsequent track takes up to 5 minutes to buffer as I progress through the album! Since one of my major complaints about Spotify was the interstitial advertisements that interrupted album playback, I decided I couldn’t stand what amounts to a five minute advertisement for silence.

Worse yet, when I set it to high quality, I also lose the ability to stream at all. In any Wi-Fi, choosing to stream a song does nothing. This is unacceptable. Since my interstitial ads disappear with the paid version of Spotify, it was looking more and more logical.

3. Social

One of the most attractive elements of any streaming music service is the Social aspect. However, as with any social network, they are only as good as the friends on the service. For me, the number of friends I have on Rdio is zero. Since Spotify connects to Facebook, every single friend there is a potential friend on Spotify. I already have three, and expect this number to keep growing as the free version of Spotify opens up to everybody (it currently has a limited sign-up).

Spotify’s social experience is also significantly better than Rdio’s. Rdio has a social model similar to Twitter or Last.fm. What you listen to, add to your music library, and synchronize to your phone appears in a timeline that others can subscribe to. Initially, this sounds great. It means you’re able to follow big infulencers on the music scene and get an idea of what they think without them following you. However, this is a very skin deep way of having a relationship, and not suitable for something as personal as music. Spotify takes more of a Facebook-like approach. Your Facebook friends appear in a sidebar on the right of your screen. You can see what they’re listening to, listen to it yourself, and send them song recommendations, which arrive in their Spotify Inbox. This inbox is treated like a playlist that can then be played on the computer or phone. It’s a very elegant system and seems to work fantastically well.

For $10 a month, my streaming music service has to be good. Hopefully Spotify will fit that bill better than Rdio. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

Advertisements

Daybreakers


Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe star in Daybreakers.

Daybreakers is the rarest of Hollywood Action-Horror crossovers: it succeeds in both genres and has a concept that allows it to pursue complex moral questions and modern-day issues without ever getting preachy or lame. The script had flaws, but- and I very rarely say this- the rest of the film was good enough to overlook the script issues.

Vampire films are a dime a dozen these days. Two Twilight Saga films come out every year; rip offs of those, and even things like HBO’s True Blood crowd the marketplace for vampire-related fiction. In order to stand out, a vampire film has to be really different, with a special “hook” to grab you and interesting characters to make you stay. Daybreakers does this incredibly well. Here’s the hook: In the year 2019, most of the population has been transformed into immortal vampires. However, they require human blood to live. (Their own blood disfigures them and causes brain damage.) For the last ten years, human blood as a resource has been dwindling, causing a need to find a blood substitute.

The beauty of Daybreakers lies in its not-so-subtlety and beautiful use of blood and gore. It’s a great big-budget b-movie.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes Review


This is a review prior to my project. It is provided here for archival purposes only.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes was, for a time, one of the most highly anticipated horror film releases of the year 2006. As it made a limited festival run at the big names (primarily Tribeca), it gained a small, eager following. After Tribeca, MGM acquired the film and planned for its release. However, as we know, MGM shortly after hit money troubles and the planned re-shoot of several major scenes was cancelled, making the film a lame duck in MGM’s catalog and causing an indefinite release delay. After four years, of sitting around, the original screener cut was given a limited theatrical release then shelved again. A DVD has been promised, but not delivered. I lost patience. My review here is, thus, not based on any official DVD, but a screener copy that I downloaded off of BitTorrent.

The plot of The Poughkeepsie Tapes centers around the idea of a serial killer who spent more than fifteen years active in the Poughkeepsie and Putnam counties in New York. After years of hunting, the FBI has finally caught a break when an IP-address trace on some of the killer’s internet activity provides them with a street address. The arrive at the home, bash in the door with SWAT Team members, and discover the house to be empty except for three things: cadavers in the backyard, a barely breathing past victim, and thousands of home-recorded VHS tapes depicting his crimes. These tapes become the basis of the film. Unlike most found footage films, however, The Poughkeepsie Tapescontinues to frame these tapes with narration and interviews from the various parties involved. This is, at heart, a deeply disturbing horror mockumentary.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes was directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil, Quarantine 2: Terminal). He shows surprising agility and aptitude with storytelling and scare-delivery. There were no cheap “jump out of your seat” moments in this film. Instead, it relies on steady, building tension throughout the film. The collaborative script written by him and his brother, Drew Dowdle, creates the necessary atmosphere and only feel stilted once during the film. The quality of film wasn’t good, but in a mockumentary / found footage film, this was excusable.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a unique, riveting film about a truly terrifying idea. If you can stomach it, check it out.

I give it a 4/5.

Film Review: The Poughkeepsie Tapes – 2006


The Poughkeepsie Tapes was, for a time, one of the most highly anticipated horror film releases of the year 2006. As it made a limited festival run at the big names (primarily Tribeca), it gained a small, eager following. After Tribeca, MGM acquired the film and planned for its release. However, as we know, MGM shortly after hit money troubles and the planned re-shoot of several major scenes was cancelled, making the film a lame duck in MGM’s catalog and causing an indefinite release delay. After four years, of sitting around, the original screener cut was given a limited theatrical release then shelved again. A DVD has been promised, but not delivered. I lost patience. My review here is, thus, not based on any official DVD, but a screener copy that I downloaded off of BitTorrent.

The plot of The Poughkeepsie Tapes centers around the idea of a serial killer who spent more than fifteen years active in the Poughkeepsie and Putnam counties in New York. After years of hunting, the FBI has finally caught a break when an IP-address trace on some of the killer’s internet activity provides them with a street address. The arrive at the home, bash in the door with SWAT Team members, and discover the house to be empty except for three things: cadavers in the backyard, a barely breathing past victim, and thousands of home-recorded VHS tapes depicting his crimes. These tapes become the basis of the film. Unlike most found footage films, however, The Poughkeepsie Tapes continues to frame these tapes with narration and interviews from the various parties involved. This is, at heart, a deeply disturbing horror mockumentary.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes was directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil, Quarantine 2: Terminal). He shows surprising agility and aptitude with storytelling and scare-delivery. There were no cheap “jump out of your seat” moments in this film. Instead, it relies on steady, building tension throughout the film. The collaborative script written by him and his brother, Drew Dowdle, creates the necessary atmosphere and only feel stilted once during the film. The quality of film wasn’t good, but in a mockumentary / found footage film, this was excusable.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a unique, riveting film about a truly terrifying idea. If you can stomach it, check it out. I give it a 3.5/4.