Saturday, July 31, 2004

Car Thieves, iPods and God.

iPod helps police nab alleged car thief

By Jo Best
Special to CNET & That's Right

Organized car theft and iPods don't mix, if the case of Oludayo Adeagbo is anything to go by.

Adeagbo was allegedly the head of a car crime gang known as the "iPod Crew," which had been using identity theft tactics to get finance agreements that allowed them to drive off with posh cars--Jaguars, BMWs and the like.

Police estimate that other members of the gang, who have yet to be caught, made off with 70 cars worth more than $1.8 million (1 million pounds) during their 10-month spree.

The gang attracted the attention of a local police officer by parking all the cars outside of a housing project. When the police raided one of the men's houses there, they discovered a range of documents stored on an iPod, including forged letters claiming the cars were paid for.

Adeagbo has since found God, saying he is "happy" and is "trading crime for Christianity." He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison at Southwark Crown Court.

Jo Best of reported from London.

That's Right. Where else can you find an article about Car Thieves, iPods and God.

Friday, July 30, 2004

25 Years Ago This Month ( The Pre iPod Years)

"Sony Walkman's keep us walkin'
De la Soul can help you breathe"
-De la Soul from the song Tread Water from their 1989 classic debut lp "3 Feet High and Rising"

This a cool little article by Greg Quill

"It is virtually an extension of the skin. It is fitted, moulded, like so much else in modern consumer culture, to the body itself ... It is designed for movement — for mobility, for people who are always out and about, for travelling light. It is part of the required equipment of the modern `nomad.'"

It was such a small and seemingly innocuous thing, a little silver box with a headphone jack that allowed you to listen to music pre-recorded on audio cassettes as you moved from one place to another, walking the dog, commuting in buses and trains, sitting in a café reading, jogging in the park ...

It was at first an offence to no one. Unlike its predecessor, the cumbersome, megawatt ghetto blaster — a rampaging bully that imposed its loud presence on whole neighbourhoods — the Sony Walkman, introduced in North America 25 years ago this month, was a private thing, an individual indulgence, a secret door through which you could enter your own personal soundscape at will.

You could inhabit that insulated place oblivious of the distractions of the world around you, while the world around you was oblivious of your unobserved departure.

It can't have been the intention of its maker to change the world, to bring civilization to the brink of a techno-driven catastrophe, as some observers think. Its origins are certainly benign.

Though the giant electronics company recently settled a multi-million-dollar lawsuit with a 59-year-old German inventor named Andreas Pavel — his "Stereobelt" personal listening unit was patented in Italy in 1977 — Sony chairman Akio Morita is credited with championing research on the device initiated by company co-founder Masaru Ibuka and engineer Kozo Ohsone, after taking note of how willing young people were to lug around heavy boom boxes in the cause of music portability.

Morita even insisted that the Walkman — first marketed in Japan, where personal space is cherished — be fitted with no speakers and two headphone output jacks. The idea was to encourage the close sharing of music without inconveniencing the community at large.

Curiously, the legions of users — 200 million of the $200 (U.S.) units were sold within two years, and almost as many, CD and digital players included, since then — preferred to be isolated, and the two-jack model lasted just over a year. And there's the rub.

In many ways, the Walkman and its spawn — portable CD players, Apple iPods and other digital music players, even the multi-use cellphone — really have changed the world, and not necessarily for the better.

"Personalized consumption and the relentless individualization of technology over the past 25 years can easily be traced back to the Walkman," says Dr. Graeme Turner, a professor of cultural studies at the University of Queensland in Australia.

"The Walkman significantly provided a separate cultural space for its users, no matter where they went. And they could decorate that personal space the way young people decorate their bedrooms ... It was not like the TV, stereo sound system, or radio. It was personal and mobile."

The Walkman, says Turner, was deliberately marketed to youngsters, perfect targets.

"It allowed them to escape from the world, but in a really obvious way. For the first time they could listen to their personalized music selections on homemade tapes wherever they went. They could reinforce their self-image by focusing only on the music that contained the codes and messages they needed or wanted. They could move conspicuously to rhythms no once else could hear ... and if they really wanted to be noticed, they could turn up the volume so that others could hear ...

"It was a tiny noise compared to ghetto blasters, but it was still considered anti-social behaviour in its time," Turner continues. "I remember reading signs on the London Underground in the 1980s that threatened fines for sound leakage from personal listening devices."

The technology-driven personalization of taste — manifested in these post-Walkman days in portable CD players, digital music downloading and playback devices, mobile wireless Internet communicators, the ubiquitous PDA (personal digital assistant), mobile telephones and text messaging — represents both a repudiation of former modes of social transaction that were necessarily communal, such as music shared in live performance settings, and a fragmentation of social activity.

As well as the privatization of identity, Turner adds, who says the Walkman has had "enormous cultural, sociological and psychological consequences.

"We may think we're connected to the universe, we may well be in control of our personal space as a result of these technologies, we may think we're networking, but it's in a one-on-one system. It's a fetishization of connectedness, an illusion."

Now comes news of Sony's launch of a smaller, lighter and less expensive competitor to Apple's revolutionary iPod digital music file player.

This new personal listening device, with the not-so-imaginative moniker NW-HD1, is about the size of a credit card, 1.3 cm thick, weighs 4 oz. and can apparently store a lot more music than the current market favourite — 13,000 songs on a 20-gigabyte hard drive with a 30-hour rechargeable battery capacity compared to the 20G iPod model's 5,000 songs and 10-hour battery life.

The new machine, released 25 years to the day after the arrival of the Walkman, uses software unique to Sony. Songs in other formats such as the popular MP3 cannot be played on it. As with other digital music players, users must transfer music from their own CD collections or downloaded from Sony over the Internet through a home computer, making it even easier for music fans to bypass conventional retail procedures and to create personalized collections of music that bear no resemblance to record industry product.

The Walkman is the watermelon seed on which the music empire slipped and fell, according to Jennifer Brayton, assistant professor of sociology at Ryerson, a specialist in technology and media studies, and a DJ for 20 years.

"If you didn't want to listen to pre-made tapes manufactured by record companies, you could suddenly make your own and take them wherever you travelled, and put the music to all kinds of uses, as an accompaniment to walking, exercising, commuting, sailing a boat.

"It gave young urban people a new kind of geographical freedom, a world without parental supervision, an environment they could make to their own liking."

But the self-creation of personal musical landscapes is anathema to the recording industry, a threat to its revenue, and the industry fought back by lobbying successfully for levies on blank tape and blank CDs, Brayton says, but ultimately to no avail.

"The Walkman and its digital offspring have changed the way music is made and marketed now by millions of individual artists working as independent businesspeople. They brought an end to music as a monolithic industry."

Brayton also points to the status value of Walkmans — models by Sony and rivals are now collectibles — and subsequent music playback technology.

"These machines aren't inexpensive, and they divide the haves from the have-nots. Having the very latest model — the smallest model, now that miniaturization is a social fetish — is a status symbol."

And the machines invite an odd sort of social overture, she adds. "You see kids asking each other what they're listening to on their headphones, implying a sense of sharing but without the actual experience. Music used to be a communal experience. The technology initiated by the Walkman hasn't increased social connections. Quite the opposite."

Marshall McLuhan observed 50 years ago that the more technology humans use, the more isolated they become, notes Bhesham Sharma, a musicologist at University of Western Ontario and author of Music And Culture In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction.

"And the Walkman embodies that notion: It is a remarkably alienating device whose key effect was to change music from a communal event to a personal experience. Because music resides in the cognitive faculties of the individual, it provides the means to construct a customized soundscape that can inspire the listener, trigger all kinds of sensations at will in an environment that shuts out the world. In fact, the world is at odds with the user."

Because the Walkman — the name is now a generic term for all personal listening devices — facilitates the enhancement of the user's emotional life, it acts, Sharma says, as a kind of "musical perfume that keeps out the noises of the real world.

"With the aid of a Walkman, laborious exercise such as jogging or gym work becomes something else, a different kind of experience."

The Walkman may also have changed popular music itself over the years, Sharma believes. All music has a shelf life, and its appeal, though profound at first, dissipates with the intense scrutiny and overexposure that personal listening devices allow.

"Overexposure contributes to a dissociation between music and emotional responses to the music. As a consequence, clichés of style start to be eliminated in the production of music, but what disappears first are the emotional and aesthetic elements, not the rhythmic and atonal qualities. In the production of certain types of music, rhythm takes precedence over aesthetic considerations."

And because music is ultimately designed for mass consumption, record companies produce more and more of what they perceive the market wants, regardless of quality.

"The associations music carries make it virtually communal, even in an in insular world," Sharma adds. "And the music (hip hop and rap) that has been dominating popular culture in the last decade has taken on the image and connotations of a subculture, music that appears connected to a larger whole, but is nonetheless isolated."

Additional articles by Greg Quill can be found at

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Village Gorilla Head

Finally! The new Tommy Stinson solo album, Village Gorilla Head is officially out. Tommy was the bass player for the Replacements way back when, touring with the band started at age 14.

Clearly the world is weary of waiting for ‘Chinese Democracy’, the long overdue and almost mythical ‘Guns N’ Roses’ album. Clearly the public aren’t the only ones growing impatient as the band’s current bass player has gone off and recorded his own solo album called ‘Village Gorilla Head’. In fact ‘solo’ is a particularly apt word here as Stinson takes on all manner of musical duties, supplying the majority of his own backing vocals, bass, six-string guitar, keyboards and even drums on one track! The big question is of course does Axl but in a guest appearance? The answer is of course ‘No’ there’d be more chance of Elvis turning up to lend a hand, however Dizzy Read and Richard Fortus do turn up and help plug musical gaps here and there.

The sound of ‘Couldn’t Wait’ hints that the album was recorded in Frank Black’s studio, but most of the other tracks are more linear and traditional fare. All the songs here are incredibly catchy and sharp; and there are no weak songs on the album. ‘OK’ is a particularly strong track, it has an innocence provided by the chorus of child like voices that perfectly compliments Stinson’s vocals.

The album is full of contrasting tracks; ‘Hey You’ is a raw gritty ballad, whilst ‘Motivation’ is a full throttle belter of a rock track. Elsewhere there’s a slightly bluesier feel on ‘Bite Your Tongue’ whilst ‘Light of Day’ feels as though it belongs on the soundtrack of a modern day western. ‘

The shame is that at least half of these songs would be perfect if delivered by ‘Axl Rose’ and clearly the Guns N’ Roses front man has a very talented band mate, who on the evidence of ‘Village Gorilla Head’, could clearly help make his band a force to be reckoned with once more. So a word of note to Mr Rose, please listen to your band mates album, it should at the very least inspire you, and if not then ask him if you can re-record some of these tracks, add a little of your trade mark vocal excesses and you should have a world class album that will restore you to your former glories.

That's Right, we know that ain't gonna happen - Rock on Tommy!

Thanks to Greg Thomas at Rock-City UK


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Tuesday, July 27, 2004



Tihs was snet to me form my sewety, Crhis Skyes. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Tollatly amzanig huh? Tahts rghit!

Three Hour Lunch

That's right. Now you can take the guess work out of your web page design. This utility lets you see approximately what your Web pages look like in Explorer or Netscape on Windows and Mac. By default, it loads a grid calibrated in pixels, but you can type-in any URL you like.

Take Me There Now!

So go for it - take that 3 hour lunch and if anyone questions your whereabouts, simply explain that you were out testing and trouble shooting your latest web masterpiece on multiple browsers.

Monday, July 26, 2004

iRobot Concept Drawings

Wow! Amazing vision. If the movie is as sweet as these boards, we're all in for an anmazing ride!

Click Here!

That's Right,

My Top 10 Fun Facts form Harpers Index for 2004 (So far, anyway.)

No.10: Chance that a British infantry recruit's reading and writing skills are no better than the average 11-year-old's : 1 in 2

No.09: Minimum price a Russian company charges to provide an alibi for an adulterer's absence : $34

No.08: Minimum number of Italian men accused of paying for a "sexual anxieties" diagnosis to avoid military service last winter : 150 [Sophie Arie, Guardian (London)]

No.07: Days of below-freezing weather last winter in Hell, Michigan : 86 [National Climatic Data Center (Asheville, N.C.)]

No.06: Number of cast members of the movie Predator who have run for governor : 3

No.05: Hours it took two surgeons to separate conjoined turtles in Arizona last February : 4 [University Animal Hospital (Tempe, Ariz.)]

No.04: Number of snowballs a New York City man sold on the street one day last December : 10 (He made $9.50)[New York Daily News (N.Y.C.)]

No.03: Number of monkeys fed a nine-course meal at last year's Chinese Banquet for Monkeys in Lopburi, Thailand : 3,000 [Tourism Authority of Thailand (Bangkok)]

No.02:Price of a dozen action figures of one's self, prototype included : $889.45

No.01: Rank of Texas among states in which the largest percentage of citizens lack health insurance : 1 That's Right. We're #1. [U.S. Census Bureau (Washington)]

But really, That's just sadly Wrong.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

____________ . Intentionally left blank

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Six years ago, in 1998, Bruce Mau unveiled a 43-point program that took the design world by storm. I "discovered" it in early 2000. Back then I remember thinking, wow - forget about design, this is really sound motivation for simply getting out of bed everyday. Well, now it's 2004.5 and it's still amazingly fresh. Here is an incomplete selection from his incomplete manifesto.

Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you: You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth are the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good, you'll never have real growth.

Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view, and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense to do so. Let anyone lead.

Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames, and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

Don't be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

____________ . Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas that you haven't had yet and for the ideas of others.

Stay up late. Strange things happen when you have gone too far, have been up too long, have worked too hard, and are separated from the rest of the world.

Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don't like it, do it again.

Stand on someone's shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

Don't clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can't see tonight.

Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

Creativity is not device-dependent. Forget technology. Think with your mind.

Organization = liberty. Real innovation in design, or in any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a "shining artifact of the past."

Don't borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry's advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It's not exactly rocket science, but it's surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline -- and how many people have failed to do so.

Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet -- or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer-graphic-simulated environment.

Make mistakes faster. This isn't my idea -- I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: Make up something else (but not words).

Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

Take advantage of coffee breaks, cab rides, and greenrooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces -- what Dr. Seuss called "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science-and-art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference -- parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals -- but with no actual conference. Apparently, it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I've become aware of this, I use laughter as a barometer to measure how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

Power to the people. Play only happens when people feel that they have control over their lives. We can't be free agents if we're not free.

That's Right.

Friday, July 23, 2004

That's Right

Good news. That's right. Now, instead of me bombarding you with things, words and pictures that I, Henry Michael Karshis, personally find relevant, poignant, interesting, funny, or blatantly obscene regarding this amazing place we call home, (Earth Circa 2004),

I'll simply post everything here at: That's Right, that's right:That's Right.

So the good news is - no more junk mail from me. From hence forth, and only on occasion, will you be hearing from me via email about all things nonessential. That is, of course unless we're related, working on a project together or, as the kids say, "Tight".


That's Right,