Thursday Jul 26, 2007

The program for ACM Recommender Systems 2007 has now been posted.  On the program are 16 longs papers, 14 short papers and 6 student doctoral submissions.  There are some really interesting looking papers:

  • Problems with people gaming your recommender? Try: Making Recommender Systems Provably Manipulation-Resistant Through Influence Limits 
  • Trouble with clustering users? Try: Supporting Social Recommendations with Activity-Balanced Clustering
  • Cold start problems? Try: Improving New User Recommendations with Rule-based Induction on Cold User Data

There are some Music-oriented papers as well:

  •  Towards Ensemble Learning for Hybrid Music Recommendation
  • Hybrid Social-Acoustic Recommendation System for Popular Music

 The keynote is being presented by Krishna Bharat of Google, the creator of Google news.


Monday Jul 23, 2007

Sometimes I am a bit slow on the uptake. I just now noticed that there's a message embedded in the ISMIR 2007 logo.


Am I the last one to notice that? 

ISMIR 2007  starts two months from today!  So time to get your travel approvals, registration, babysitters, talks, mirex submissions,  tutorials  and posters ready!   And to help us coordinate once we get there,  there is now a group on Facebook for ISMIR 2007.   You can join it here:  ismir2007

Last month I had a series of blog posts about the offices of music 2.0, where I featured photos of the various companies in the music 2.0 space.  This month I'm featuring photos of the various music information retrieval labs that are the brains behind music 2.0

We start off with LabROSA - The Laboratory for the Recognition and Organization of Speech and Audio, which is at Columbia University and run by Dan Ellis.  Dan and his group are behind a number fundamental MIR papers including one of my favorites: Toward evaluation techniques for music similarity.  LabROSA also supplies some excellent datasets including the famous uspop2002.  I've met a few of the LabRosa members at various conferences and seminars - I've always been impressed by the quality of the researchers at LabRosa.

LabRosa and Columbia University is in the  heart of NYC - the  location of the University and its architecture make it a very unique place:

In the heart of the lab, we find Dan Ellis, showing off a little audio player - I'm sure he's trying to figure out how to get the earth mover's distance algorithm to run in a millisecond on that device.


Here's a wide shot of the lab - everyone is hard at work. But one wonders why the special need for Lysol? The lab has a bit of a dungeonesque quality to it, no windows in view, industrial railings, fluorescent lighting.

Here are some happy researchers - mac laptops, windows workstations, headphones, research posters ...

Here's Graham at work on his mac laptop. Poor Graham looks like he's sitting in the doorway.

And the storage end of the lab:


And here's the happy team:


Friday Jul 20, 2007

I've added support for Music.Of.Interest to the 'Now Playing at Radio Paradise' google gadget.  Now, when you click on the artist name it will add it to your MusicOfInterest list of artists to check out.  This will really help me keep track of new artists that I want to check out when I do my monthly eMusic shopping.  I just love how you can stitch together fun apps just by combining a few web services and a little code.  Thanks to Craig at m.o.i for adding the posting web service.

Check it out here:


Update: It looks like from my browser the Google cache is still serving up the older (non-m.o.i) version.
Now Playing at Radio Paradise
Gadgets powered by Google

Wednesday Jul 18, 2007

On my commute to work this morning I listened to this week's Google Developer podcast. It was all about Google Gadgets (those little widgets that you can add to your google home page) - it piqued my interest so I decided I would give it a go and try to write a one.  I wrote a simple gadget that keeps track of what is currently playing at Radio Paradise.


Now Playing at Radio Paradise
Gadgets powered by Google

The gadget grabs the  Now Playing XML feed from, extracts  the current artist, song and amazon ID, and constructs the content, and keeps it fresh when the song changes.   The whole widget, including all of the XML description is less than a 100 lines of code.  It is easy and fun to make these, and Google does a great job at making it easy to write, deploy and publish the apps. Well done, Google.

Oh, and feel free to try it out. 

 See "Now Playing at Radio Paradise" on your Google homepage »

Monday Jul 16, 2007

Nine years ago, I read the first Harry Potter book to my kids. At the time Chris was 9, Cari was 8 and Liz was 7. Jennie at 3 was too young for HP.  Since then, every year or two has been marked by a new release of the series.  When a new book would arrive, we spend at least an hour every night enjoying the world of Harry and his friends.  We were HP beginners back then - I would pronounce 'Hermione' as her-me-ow-ny, and Voldemort had a silent 't' (it looked French to me),   I would do the voices, we'd linger over the drawings and we'd stop and explain the plot points when things got a bit complicated.  When book 5 (order of the phoenix) was on the horizon, Jennie was 8 and ready for the series, so we restarted at at volume 1 and read them all again (this time with correct pronunciations all the way through).

The kids certainly could have read the books on their own (and they did re-read them many, many times), but the first reading through was always a family affair.  It had become a tradition. Even when Chris was a junior in high school he would look forward to the family reading of The Half Blood Prince.   Halfway through the series I did a mental calculation and realized that the last book in the series would likely be released after Chris was in college.  How would that work? Would he call home every night so his dad could read  to him? That seemed very unlikely.

 And now the final book is upon us.  Chris and Carolyn are working their summer jobs away from home, Liz and Jennie are spending time at camp - Chris leaves for his freshman year in a month.   It seems like the last Harry Potter book is arriving just a little too late for us to finish the series as a family. So come Saturday morning I'll head out to the local bookseller and purchase at least 3 copies of the book - one each for Chris and Cari, and the read-aloud copy for Liz and Jennie.  Sigh...

Friday Jul 13, 2007

Internet radio had already had the last meal, had made its peace with the maker and was enjoying the final cigarette, when the call from the Governor came with a stay of execution.  It's not over yet, but Internet Radio won't get the AX on Sunday as originally planned.  Bill G of Radio Paradise sums it up:

Looks like the pressure is off (see Friday's edition of Kurt Hanson's RAIN newsletter for all of the details, or this Wired blog post) — at least for now — and we're sick to death of writing, reading, and talking about the damn royalties.

We'll probably have a thing or two to say by Monday — or we may have had our fill of the subject for another five years. Suffice it to say that, like we've been promising, we will definitely be around on Monday, and for many, many Mondays to come. Thanks a lot for your support on this! You're all awesome. That is all.

One of the really nice things about MusicBrainz (everyone's favorite music metadatabase) is that you can download the entire database and run a local copy.  Of course for casual access, it is easy enough to use the MusicBrainz web services, but for the hardcore among us, having a local copy of the database is the cat's meow. 

Now MusicBrainz is a pretty hardcore Linux shop, so I was a bit worried that getting the MusicBrainz database running on Solaris would be a nightmare of sorting out twisted package dependencies and incompatibilites, especially since I've never configured Postgres (the MusicBrainz DB) on Solaris before. I was expecting a long frustrating morning with lots of calls to Steve for help. But  I gave it a try and discovered that it was really quite easy.  I just followed the instructions for configuring Postgres for Solaris here: How to Configure and Run PostgreSQL on Solaris 10, and then followed the instructions for installing the MusicBrainz database here: How to Import the MusicBrainz Database.

It all just worked. I didn't have to install software or patches.  There were no dependency issues, no perl modules, no crying, no calls to Steve.  I just downloaded the MusicBrainz dumps, grabbed the SQL code from the MB subversion repository and followed the install steps.  Now I have  super-music-metadata-power.

Wednesday Jul 11, 2007

Ezmo is a startup that is creating a music player that lets you share music with your friends.  Ezmo's offices are in Oslo Norway. 

Here's the headquarters - note the disco ball,  Abbey Road artwork, project timeline, natural light and funky curtains (reminds me a bit of Spotify's old space).


Here's the developer space - a shared space, most people working on laptops,  headphones, the Adobe Flex manual.

Bug/features tracking is light weight ... all you need is a whiteboard and some colored markers.  (I'm surprised that this is in English).

And of course, every Music 2.0 startup needs their Guitar Hero space:

It looks like Ezmo is a cool place to work.

Tuesday Jul 10, 2007

Interesting essay by Google's  Peter Norvig about the efficacy of prayer in helping medical patients: Evaluating Extraordinary Claims: Mind Over Matter? Or Mind Over Mind?

Jason points to telekenisis - an application that allows you to watch/listen to media on your iPhone that is stored on your computer.  One interesting bit about this is that the telekinesis developer working on streaming audio and video is Brian Whitman.  Brian is one of the principals at the (forever?) stealth Music 2.0 company called The Echo Nest. Brian also has a stellar reputation in the Music Information Retrieval having co-authored several fundamental MIR papers such as A large-scale evaluation of acoustic and subjective music similarity measures, and The Quest for Ground Truth in Musical Artist Similarity. I'm certainly curious to see if the Echo Nest will be rolling out a music app/service that runs on the iPhone. 

They certainly have the chops for it. Here's a quick clip showing some work they've done with the PSP:

And here's Telikinesis running WOW on an iPhone

Friday Jul 06, 2007

Mix some punk, some twee and some pop.  Patti Schmidt, singer and bassist for Pest 5000 sums it up:
"There's power in girlishness and power in cuteness if you control it," she explains. "Most of my songs, they're sort of this recess fight where you win every time."

Have a listen:


AOL Music is a music portal that provides online radio, charts, videos etc.  AOL also produces Winamp, one of the most widely used music players.  Jason was kind enough to send me to pointers to photos at the AOL offices.

AOL is a big company with some pretty funky quarters.  Here's the main lobby.  It's very nice.

The corridors of AOL power - AOL likes long halls ... this one goes on forever ...


Now for some offices ... it's cubicle land - but with some natural light, funky ceilings and 'power cubes'

Notice the low partition between cubes here ...

Another cube farm in the heart of AOL music...  


If you are lucky enough to have a closed office - it will look something like this:

Like we have at Sun, AOL has some informal space (we rarely use ours at Sun)

An AOL conference room (I would have thought they would just use AIM)

Wednesday Jul 04, 2007

Here's a really neat video about that shows off the workspace and many of the team (especially highlighting the international aspect of the team).  It looks to be a great space - lots of opportunities for interaction - lots of young, energetic people - all engaged in one project. (Via the blog).

 (Trouble with the embedded video - try viewing it here)

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