Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Sun & the other stars, an astronomical playlist

Nothing more than a playlist on Spotify, admittedly. No more than a funny game, if you want. A collaborative playlist, to be honest. In passing, it's a great thing, the simple possibility to collaborate, to work together on a given list of songs. It opens many intriguing prospectives. I do remember, one of the reason why I made the switch from Google Music to Spotify (not the only one, admittedly), was that in Google Music there was no possibility to cultivate a collaborative playlist. Too bad, for an excellent service, after all. 

Collaborative playlist, to me, it's a great way to take advantage of Internet to build up something more social that a simple list made by a given person, no matter how musical knowledge he may have accumulated into years (since music it's always broader than your inner boundaries). 

No collaborative playlist was possible in the age of vinyl...

When I was a child, when I grew up as a boy, nothing like this simply existed. I could not switch on the computer (if ever), to see what my friend are listening now, to investigate their selected playlists. Frankly speaking, the bare possibility to relate computer to music did appear rather lately, in my not-so-short history. Not to talk of the rest! 

Now, coming back to present, and from an operative point of view: if you are on Spotify also, and you want to take part in this game, you simply can add your favorite songs on the list, for everybody to listen to (and hopefully, enjoy them).

Rules are quite simple, for the selection of songs to include:
  • it must be a song that you like ;-)
  • if it is an instrumental piece, it must have the word Sun or star in the title (to be accurate, any mention of an actual star name is fully allowed)
  • if it is a classical song (with some text inside) the keywords can also be present only in the lyrics. No condition on title is then required.
It goes without saying, that every song that does not fit in the previous rules, can be eventually deleted from the playlist: you understand, while it's nothing more than a musical game, we must preserve it's peculiarity, after all.




As a matter of fact, it's all very simple, as you may see. Anyway I am becoming addicted to this series of songs that, in a way or in another, do refer to the sky and to its bright inhabitants. First thing you realise, listening a few songs from "Sun & the other star, is how great has been the amount of musical effort that has already been spent in themes also loosely related with stars. 

That's all, for now. If you want to take part in this silly little game, connect to the playlist and start adding your favorite "astronomical" songs. Do it now: the universe is just waiting, to hear this "celestial" music ;-) 

Monday, 19 November 2018

Science and poetry, nearest that ever

It's more that obvious, that in the imaginary of the people, disciplines as science and poetry may seems as distant as possible. More than distant, they in fact seems - in a superficial way of looking - as belonging to different universes. 

How can I trust in poetry to understand the real word, one may ask. 

And it may seem a fully reasonable motivation. Scienze is for the knowledge of the "objective" word, after all. Art is for the rest, for what it's connected to the "human part" of anything. 

At a second glance, it turn out that things are not so simple. One may ask, first of all, if there is a objective word, out there. I mean, a word fully independent of me as observer, a word I can investigate as completely detached from me. It's not so assured, in particular after that quantum mechanics has given us the picture of a universe much more interconnected and complicated that we believed once. 



We live a wonderful moment, after all. We live in a world where we can understand again that it exists different way of knowledge (a full spectrum of that, actually), and they are all necessary to be fully present in this word, as human being. Conversely, to restrict only to science make us partial, so that we cannot fully appreciate the gift that - basically - the universe around us do represent.

"Poetry and science are not opposed: they were not opposed at the beginnings of wonder" says the italian poet Davide Rondoni.

As Hawking once said“Physicists and poets may differ in discipline, but both seek to communicate the beauty of the world around us.”

Beauty doesn't allow us to be investigated only quantitatively. In fact, beauty deserves much more. In the present age, science and poetry can regain a wonderful proximity. They can became, in fact, nearest that ever.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Play Music, or Spotify?

There is a thing I like so much in Google Play Music, and it's the simple beauty of its minimalistic interface. Really much more appealing, to my eyes, in respect (just do say) to the look of Spotify. Nothing to say, Google is still the best, when dealing with style.

Notwithstanding, I find that Play Music do suffer of several limitation, in comparison with a service like Spotify. I'm not talking about the dimension of its musical archive (all these service do have huge archives nowadays), but of some annoying limitation that you can experience when you use it on a daily basis.

Play Music live in your browser, as almost all for Google...


First of all, you cannot sort your collection in any way. In other words, there is no way to alter the default order, in which all your album area listed alphabetically. Spotify (and I guess, many others) give you the freedom to order your collection in a number of different ways: for example, I find very useful to inspect my collection ordering it by the most recents additions, since  it's a simply way to understand what happened recently to your albums, and to recall you something about your more recent tastes.


On Play Music, whenever you add an album, it disappears instantly inside your (huge) collection, so you have to search it patiently among a lot of albums. That's annoying, for sure. Oh, and I have told you something about searching, by the way? Why on Google it's not possible to delimitate a given search inside your collection? Sometimes, you do not have time to browse the whole musical achievements of the humankind, you simply want to recover that specific album from your collection.

Spotify interface. Why only black?

Turns out, doing it on Play Music it's not as simple as you may guess. Yes, on Spotify you can make a search inside your library, neglecting all the rest of the (musical) word. Exactly as you should do with your (ancient, outdated) collection of CDs, or (more recently) with your collection of mp3 files.

That's why the beauty of the interface, all considered, it's not enough for the adoption of one service over the other. That's why, exactly. 

So I'm using Spotify right now. But I can't help but looking to the page of Play Music, from time to time. How simply beautiful it may appear!

Beauty is not all, in this word.




Sunday, 19 August 2018

Oh you beautiful thing

There is a certain beauty on listening the music in Spotify, for sure. One thing, is that you can discover new music, anytime. Music that you did not programmed to listen to, that you did not even expect it exists... There is far more music around, that you can hope to listen to, in all of your life! 

Here it comes Spotify (or an equivalent streaming service). And here it comes the difference between the old way to listen to music (insterting a CD into the player) and the new way (connecting to a streaming service). The last method allow you to be exposed to the unexpected. 

Yes, the unexpected. Since you are downloading a flux of information from an external service, potentially unlimited, and not playing a compact disk, a support with a well defined amount of information, hardcoded on the disk, once for all.

Coming back to my little story: when the streaming of an album of Nick Kershaw was finished (an album that I already knew very well), the system began automatically to select "similar songs" to the ones contained in the album, just before I became aware it was actually finished and that I had to think about what to listen to, now. 

So Spotify played me this song. 





I was surprised. More than surprised. What a beautiful song! And as you can expect, this led me to explore the whole album. An exploration that revealed a lot of other very interesting songs, which I would had never listened, if not casually exposed to this song.

Not all what is modern is bad, after all. Thanks to Spotify, and thanks to Nik for this gorgeous album. Now, what can I expect, next time? From what I will be surprised? Only time will tell... 

Note. This post is also a test, should I return to post on Blogspot? Well, only readers will tell... ;-) 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Open source, and open science

As scientist, the least thing I expected, when yesterday I listened to the very interesting Linus Torvalds speech at TED, was a discussion on the way science and its results are diffused. I was pleased to hear Linus mentioning arXiv, the famous science archive of paper.
ArXiv_web.svg.pngArXiv is entirely opened, you can browse and download articles without any restriction (you don’t even have to login). It’s updated daily and it’s articulated in various disciplines. As a whole, it’s a very pragmatic way to show the benefit of free idea circulation within science.
At the moment writing, arXiv contains 1,178,149 articles. Not bad.
I do admit I did not expect Linus was aware of its existence, being into a rather different ecosystem.


Well, now I understand that there are deep links between the open source paradigm and a certain way to think about science and about the spreading of its methodologies and its results.
Something which has a deep connection with a very simple word, open. A simple word that it can disclose a whole world.

Something Linus addressed very well, in just a few words.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Jennifer, where are you?

You know, sometimes it’s so hard to choose just one song, one that you truly adore over all the others, since everybody has plenty of wonderful songs inside, that are ready to be loaded in memory when the situation do require it…
Songs are, sometimes, such incredible concentrations of beauty, all packed in a easy-to-deal-with form, that it’s difficult for me to think of a more easy way to reconnect with beauty, different from reloading a song on my mind.

Here I want to come back to an old songs by Eurythmics, JenniferIt’s a song that – after all these years (it dates back to 1983) – still fascinates me for the interplay of the voice of Annie Lennox (so sweet!) and the rich and complex electronic tapestry – almost hypnotical in a certain way.
Oh, and it features a precious sense of wonder, in its lyrics. Truly a gorgeous piece.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Pens and Pencils, tales from a distant age…

Ages. I do not use pens and pencils from ages. And it’s quite clear from what happens when I am stil forced to use them: I simply write something which cannot be understood!
That’s the fact. I’m worrying that I am simply loosing the ability to write by hand. Yes, I can try to write, but the result is discouraging: I usually produce something that nobody can read. Include myself, of course. Definitively, the modern age brings new abilities and skills, but sometimes it also looses something. Being not able to write by hand is not a good thing.
We are loosing the ability of doing it by hand...  

Nowadays, the occasions to adopt pens and pencils – for me – are really rare. Consider the simple action of taking notes. I use my iPad with Evernote (or something similar), and it works wonderfully. I can take notes and easily move them to my iMac, for further elaborations.
From some years, I maintain a digital diary with the (wonderful) Day One app. Recently, I’ve also started to experiment with Journal, to satisfy my (periodically awaking) Android side.
I cannot even remember the last time I wrote something substantive with a pen, apart from some unfortunate occasions where I had to take notes and I was without one of my tablets (iPad 2 or Nexus 7).
I agree that physical agendas can be truly beautiful. They have something attractive which definitively can’t be reproduced by any electronic device, no matter the software that you can load onboard. They speak about ancient ages, where you could touch the paper, evaluating its consistency, appreciate its color. Feel the subtle noise of turning page. This is something we are loosing, something that it’s going to disappear.
The most annoying thing of a written manuscript, it’s that it can’t easily be processed. This is the first reason, for me, for following the digital ruote.  That’s the most important reason why I do believe that it’s impossible to return to a pre-keyboard era.
And yes, I’m losing the ability to write with a pen.