Weekly Head Voices #15: Auto-tune my cloud.

In this 15th edition of my weekly head voices, I move yet more of my life into the cloud, discover (years after everyone else) the delightful auto-tune internet meme and finally go all backyard-psychological whilst staring into the distance, obviously defocused, and waxing on about the purpose of this weblog.

Before continuing, you might like to watch this clip explaining why you shall build a turtle fence (I’ll get back to the clip after my dropbox story):

Last week I completed, you guessed it, 21 GTD tasks spread over 10 projects. Once again, one more task than last week. The question is thus not if, but when I’m going to have to disappoint you. :)  Worth mentioning on the miscellany front is that I’ve started playing around with processing, a fantastic little system for programming visual effects and interaction, in preparation for a new first year course. My goal is to get the students irrevocably addicted to the coolness that is media processing! I’ll keep you up to date…

In a previous post, I was quite enthusiastic about Dropbox and its possibilities for collaboration. As some of you might now, I really like this whole living-in-the-cloud idea: I use GMail, Google Calendar and Google Documents quite extensively and I’m even paying for extra storage with the big G.  So, during the past week, I decided to bite the bullet some more and to move 12G more of my data right into the cloud, courtesy of a 50G Dropbox Pro account.  Up to now, I had a ridiculously complex synchronisation system keeping various subsets of my data up to date between a netbook, a laptop and three different servers. At the core of this system was unison, a brilliant multi-way open source synchronisation tool. In spite of this system mostly working, its complexity and the starkly contrasting It-Just-Works nature of Dropbox convinced me to give the simple solution a shot.

So far I can only report that I remain impressed: At one stage I manually copied a complete dropbox (12Gigs) from one already synced machine to a fresh target machine and started the Dropbox software on the target. It politely asked:

There is already a folder in your home folder called Dropbox. Do you want to merge all the existing files in that folder into your dropbox?

After clicking on the “HELL YEAH!” button (that’s how it felt, ok), the software went on indexing for a minute or two and then correctly claimed that everything was nicely synced up. Very much understated robustness, kudos to the developers. I’m going to test-drive this whole business for one month, and then let you know whether it’s going to be  a permanent fixture in my cloud-home.

Still wondering why you should build a turtle fence? Well, you can blame the Auto-Tune internet meme. Very shortly, auto-tune is an audio effect that corrects one voice to be perfectly in tune with backing music. In other words, a vocalist who can’t sing is in fact no problem at all, computer will fix! Initially it was used quite sparingly and its application was even sometimes kept a secret, until artists such as Cher and especially T-Pain turned it into an art form, in fact exaggerating the effect until it gave a decidedly unsubtle robotic voice effect. The effect has become so famous that it now gets to call itself an internet meme and is often parodied.  The turtle clip above is just one of a whole series (auto-tune the news, see them all!). In the clip below, internet scientists *ahem*, including the well-known Professor Weird Al Yankovic, take an in-depth look at this phenomenon:

Finally, back to the purpose of this weblog… Good blogs all seem to have some central theme, such as photography, environmental issues, science or pokemon. I seem to recall that I’d also seen this in more than one “how to become an A-list blogger” guides.  I don’t find it hard to believe that this is very important.  However, this blog has never had a central theme, it’s always been me blabbing about the various things that I find blab-worthy.  I’ve never been able to come up with something better, and it was definitely not for lack of trying.  The Weekly Head Voices, by focusing my blabbing into slightly more coherent episodes, have finally helped me to come to a conclusion.  Besides acting as a creative outlet, sitting down every week and carefully externalising a specific subset of my experiences with the express purpose of having it read by a small number of people, is an important ritual during which I am forced to distance myself from the events of the week, and to self-reflect.  By formally concluding the previous period in this way, one has the mental room to manoeuvre in preparation for the next. If you by any chance find any of it entertaining, or at least you just can’t look away, it’s a win-win situation!

In other words: Theme-schmeme! The voices in my head will continue to be the many and various topics of this weblog, thank you very much. :)

Have a great week kids!