blog.asurroca.com my personal blog

July 25, 2008

BRB giving my persona info to scammers

Filed under: humor — Tags: , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:18 pm

BRB jokes during the course of an IM conversation are entertaining. Example from moments ago:

[23:03] asurroca: […] I gave you a secret code valid for a prize of a free iPod Touch, Nintendo Wii, or Xbox 360, if you just enter the code, answer whether or not Bush should be fired, and enter your birthdate, credit card info, and social security number

[23:03] asurroca: so you pretty much missed out bigtime

[23:03] Kate: fuck.

[23:03] asurroca: yup, sorry

[23:04] asurroca: I went ahead and entered the info myself

[23:04] asurroca: so I’m going to get some sweet new gear for FREE!

[23:04] asurroca: brb checking bank acct

[23:06] asurroca: holy SHIT! My credit cards are maxed out and my bank accts are drained! How could this have happened?!?!?!??!

July 22, 2008

Albums Best Heard Together: Drums Not Dead and Deceit

Filed under: music,reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 10:45 am

Liars has become a darling of the indie world, especially after their 2006 record, Drums Not Dead—look no further than Pitchfork Media’s glowing review for confirmation. Their drum-based, drone-filled sound doesn’t make for an easy listen, and sounds nothing like the hacks that fill the indie landscape lately. Drums Not Dead is almost perfect, but it’s also been done before.

Album art for This Heat-Deceit (1981)Album cover for Liars-Drums Not Dead (2006)

See, while you’ve probably already heard of Liars (the band opened for Radiohead during their 2008 North American tour), it’s much less likely that you’ve ever heard of This Heat. And Liars’ entire sound is essentially the application of a fresh coat of paint on a 1981 masterpiece by the name of Deceit.

Rather than accuse Liars of ripping off the forgotten 70s-era post-punk band This Heat, I choose to believe that Liars is paying homage to This Heat unless I find out otherwise. If you’ve heard Deceit, you’ll find Drums Not Dead definitely comes from the same place. Both records open with un-threatening, almost peaceful tracks, then pull the rug out and launch into tracks filled with menacing drum lines, screaming, and a caustic, off-balance feel that continues through the remainder of each.

That’s not to say that either record is a chore to listen to. On Deceit: “Cenotaph”, with its Joy Division-esque sound, would have made a fine single in 1981 (less so today; maybe on satellite radio), “Makeshift Swahili” is the most punk-like track on the record, and “A New Kind of Water” morphs from a beautiful, droning anthem into a proper rock song. And on Drums Not Dead, “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack” is likely to be a signature Liars song for a while—when I saw them open for Radiohead in West Palm Beach, it was their set opener. “Drums Gets a Glimpse” is a slower, pretty track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Broken Social Scene record.

It’s interesting that where I heard a little of This Heat’s contemporaries such as Can and Joy Division (and on one track, perhaps Dead Can Dance) in their record, I heard a little of Liars’ own contemporaries such as (in addition to Broken Social Scene) The Microphones, and Radiohead. The only track I’m not sure about is Drums Not Dead‘s closer, “To Hold You, Drum”, which comes off embarrassingly like a carbon copy of Deceit‘s sound. While the rest of the record stays far enough away from This Heat’s sound for Liars to come off as merely on the same wavelength as This Heat, this track implies that the band merely listened to Deceit on repeat while they were dreaming up ideas for new tracks.

As I’ve said, I choose to believe otherwise. Give both a listen. But be warned: Deceit has been out of print for a while, so it’s basically impossible to find at retail stores and difficult to find at download sites.

July 11, 2008

Must-have app: Dashwire

Dashwire logoIf you have a Windows Mobile phone and an unlimited data plan, you have to get Dashwire like, yesterday. If you’re using anything else and/or don’t have an unlimited data plan, then I’m sorry.

Dashwire, recently out of private beta, lives as an app on your WinMo 5 or 6 phone (Symbian and BlackBerry support on the way) and dutifully sends out almost everything to the other half of this equation, a web app that lets you manage your phone from your computer. The data gets synced over the air automatically, so you know that nearly everything on your phone is also available on the web.

Backup to the Dashwire Cloud

Dashwire will pick up and sync your photos, your text messages, your contacts, your ringtones, even your call history and voicemail (via Callwave). And it syncs almost frighteningly fast: I had the web app open, and received a phone call; by the time I hung up perhaps a minute later, the call was already displayed in my call history on the Dashwire web app.

Dashwire screenshot

Web2.0 for your Phone

Dashwire doesn’t stop there, even though as an online backup for your phone alone, it would already kick ass. No, Dashwire gives you the whole web2.0 social networking aspect, like any good web app would. When you set your status on your phone through the Dashwire app, it sends the status update to your Facebook and Twitter status (and I’m sure more services are in the pipeline). Your phone gets its own little profile page, with a stream of all the photos and video you’ve shot posted up as a tumblelog. And you can view your text messages like an instant messaging conversation, a la iChat/iPhone. You can also send text messages or Skype any of your contacts from the Dashwire web app, as well as share anything with your contacts.

Verdict: Awesome Squared

So far, I’m in love. Dashwire has that feeling of something that does everything just right. The last time I was so smitten with a service was Google’s GrandCentral, which I still use constantly. Hell, it’s replaced my phone number. Did I forget to mention that Dashwire, like GrandCentral is completely free? It basically does 90% of Apple’s MobileMe service, except it costs nothing. Read: Killer app.

One final note: Apparently, Microsoft is already on the list of investors. And the start-up behind Dashwire just happens to be in Seattle. With Danger (the folks behind the Sidekick) in their company, I immediately thought that adding Dashwire to the Sidekick would be nothing short of perfect. If Dashwire can get their “cloud” to sync back to Outlook over the air, then, I’ll be in mobile heaven.

July 2, 2008

A Little Linear Love in Album Covers

Filed under: artwork,music,thoughts — Tags: , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 7:41 pm

When I saw the cover for the new Death Cab for Cutie album, I thought to myself, “hey, I’ve seen this before.”

Cover for Death Cab for Cutie album, \

Les Savy Fav, The Microphones, and Lamb all had similar album covers for their respective albums around the turn of the century.

The Microphones, in 2000
I would say the Death Cab for Cutie album cover bears the closest resemblance to this one, made from a few apparently hand-cut photographs.

Cover for The Microphones album, \

Les Savy Fav, in 2001
The artwork consists of several photos that were chopped up and then spliced into one, creating a colorful, line-filled collage. It’s especially apparent on the album’s backside, where all the band’s members show up in the same space.

Cover for Les Savy Fav album, \Rear side of Les Savy Fav album, \

Lamb, in 2001
Rather than cutting out the band’s members linearly, the artwork here uses squares, but does about the same thing as the Les Savy Fav cover. The album’s 2003 US release was much less interesting, showing only the band’s lamb “logo” on a blue background. Boring, and two years late. Thanks, amazon.co.uk.

Cover for UK edition of Lamb album, \

July 1, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

Filed under: humor — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 1:37 am

Yes, I know Garfield Minus Garfield, or G-G, isn’t new, and I may lose internets cred by posting an old meme. Whatever. At any rate, I’ve always felt sorry for Jon Arbuckle. When you get past the humor in Garfield, what you’re left with is depressing. As evidenced by G-G:

G-G cartoon

G-G cartoon

G-G cartoon

Sadly, I’m finding that I can relate to Jon more and more each day.

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