Aug 272014
 

Just to get this out of the way, “Things Are Looking Up” by Jason Mraz is my Song of the Day. You can hear it on YouTube.

Today it is not about music though, today I’d like to speak about books. For a pretty long time (can’t look it up right now, because my mails are in the cloud and I have flaky Internet connection here on the train), at least two years, likely more, I have read almost nothing but e-books. I’ve “bought” most of them from Amazon and I read them on my Kindle (currently my second, a second generation Kindle Paperwhite 3G), the Kindle apps on my Nexus 7 tablet and my Galaxy S2 mobile running Cyanogen Mod, and recently, when it is a book about programming, I even use the Amazon Cloud Reader on my laptop’s browser. The latter makes sense when I use a book as a tutorial while programming.

I read more than I’ve ever read before. To keep track, I “share” each finished book with myself via email. That’s a function of the Kindle apps. It basically posts a message that I’ve finished the book on some social media system or, like I use it, sends the message as email. When I receive it, I tag it and can easily find it in GMail. Should GMail ever go away, I have always the local backups, saved to a RAID system. It’s a primitive and not very sophisticated way to keep track of what I’ve read, but in case of books, the sheer numbers are much smaller than with music and songs.

I first sent such an email on May 10 this year, and in the meantime I have 14 mails in my “A book read” folder. 14 books is not bad for a third of a year and I am sure that this is more than I ever read on paper.

It’s easy to see why. Regardless of where I am, I have always at least one device with me, and although one would think that reading on a phone is inconvenient, in fact it is not. Networking and automatic synchronization make switching devices seamless and convenient, dictionaries and the option to look facts up in an offline Wikipedia and geography in an offline maps application open up a depth that I’ve never enjoyed before.

Recently I was swimming. I read a book where a certain verse from the Gospel after Matthew was mentioned. My reading device was the Kindle Paperwhite 3G. It gives me access to Amazon’s shop via 3G networks and in complete absence of WiFi. It just works and it does so in most countries that I’m likely to ever travel to.

What did I do? Of course I went to the shop and bought a cheap copy of the Bible, looked up the verse, switched a few times between book and Bible, and now I have another source for reference available whenever I need it. It’s so cool :)

OK, meanwhile I’ve looked up when I bought my first Kindle. That was at the end of April 2011. Wow!

I have 114 books in my Kindle collection. Not all of them I’ve read, but the ratio is better than with printed books. All in all I’d call that a big success.

Aug 262014
 

Ok, it’s only one shade, a sunshade, but “Seven Shades” by The Babyshambles is still my Song of the Day. Hear it on YouTube.

By the way, do you remember my plan to create an application that would take my data from Last.fm and put it into my own database? My plan to make an Open Source application that would solve the problem of how to keep one’s own music “collection” without physical records or at least digital downloads?

It all came to nothing, I encountered some difficulties and inconsistencies in what Last.fm stores and how it is made available, spent lots of time learning a new technology that I finally decided to not use, and thus much time passed. It made me wiser, but it did not solve my problem.

And a problem it is. When I decided to tackle it, it was only an extrapolation, an expected problem, but now after more than half a year I do see how I’m beginning to lose the feeling for a “collection”, how I begin to forget what I once found to like greatly, in other words I see me consuming music in a much more linear fashion instead. I like something, I hear it for a few days, and then in all that mass of music I find something else, and in the end I may even forget about what I once called a “favorite” or “loved” on Last.fm.

Babyshambles are such a band. I have heard one or two albums once or twice, I liked them, but then I simply went on and forgot about them. It’s easy to see how it will be in a year or five.

This may not even be a real problem at all. Maybe it is just a different way to hear music, that is just as well as how I heard it before. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. I don’t know and I can’t tell. Time will tell, and just to avoid future regrets, I guess it would be nice to have some kind of database as a safety net :)

Aug 252014
 

Modern architecture is mostly utilitarian, but frequently in big foyers you see artistically arranged lighting. Here it is one clever mobile made of lots of big but fairly normal cylindrical lamps, in different colors, hung at different heights. And it works :)

The Song of the Day is Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game”, interpreted by Zee Avi. Hear it on YouTube.

Aug 232014
 

You may remember my decision to never again buy paper and plastic, i.e. printed books and music CDs. Even remember that I’ve decided to stop buying music downloads and do streaming via Spotify instead?

Well, it’s a success. Reading e-books has made me a much more active reader and hearing music on Spotify constantly lets me discover great music made by artists I’ve never before heard of. Wanna hear an example? “The Train” by 17 Hippies, a group that has been in business for a long time but never caught my attention. It is a great song and a good example for the quality of their other music. Hear it on YouTube.

Aug 222014
 

Long lenses make for small frames cut out of reality, and the longer the lens, the more choices I have from a certain point of view. In this case the image is about a certain balance between a smaller but denser right side and a bigger, more open left side. There is something in this image that just goes well with my inner rhythm.

The Song of the Day is “It’s The Rhythm In Me” by Meschiya Lake and The Little Big Horns. See them live on YouTube.

Aug 212014
 

Today I have a window of a Turkish shop here in Vienna. Once a week I pass by, but actually I am always in a hurry and never have been inside. Really, could they be any more inviting?

The Song of the Day is “Fruit Nut” from the incredibly good XTC album “Apple Venus Volume 1″. Hear it on YouTube.

Aug 202014
 

There is one more thing that makes photography so pleasant. It is a medium for a kind of conversation with another self. I have always been interested in art, and not only in consuming art, but also in producing it, and at the same time I am a passionate computer programmer. In a certain way this is even the same kind of interest in creating things, but there are also differences.

Programming computers is not only about creating, it is also very much about analysis, about taking things apart and trying to understand how they work or, more often than not, why they don’t.

Photography, on the other side, is for me a mode of immersion. It is the exact opposite of analysis. It is plain seeing, unfiltered by a pre-processing mind. It is letting go and seeing what happens.

The Song of the Day is “Just Like A Mirror” by Dr. John. Hear it on YouTube.

Aug 192014
 

It’s hard to tell why I take an image of a certain thing and it would even be impossible to answer the question of what I want to “express” with my imagery.

I take images of things that catch my attention, but there is not one single reason why things do so. Sometimes it is a matter of very subjective beauty, sometimes it is a certain kind of tension in an arrangement of things, sometimes it is balance, sometimes it is all of that, and more often I just don’t know.

I actively try to see with heightened sensibility, and I do, but when I do, I don’t apply any prescriptions, don’t apply rules. I let my own photography surprise myself, and that’s part of the pleasure, that’s part of why I still do it, that’s part of why photography is so recreational, that’s part of why it never tires me.

One last time is “Deep Night” by Frank Sinatra my Song of the Day. If you haven’t heard it yet, now would be a good time to do so on YouTube.

Aug 182014
 

Do you like walking in the night? I do, and I also enjoy being alone. With hardly any traffic and armed with a long lens you can take images from places where you couldn’t stand safely during daytime, and even if you could, there would always be people messing up your composition. Ok, I admit, I am misanthropic :)

The Song of the Day is for the second time “Deep Night” by Frank Sinatra. Hear it on YouTube if you haven’t done so yesterday, or else wait for tomorrow, because there’ll be a third post in this mini-series.