Monday, January 28, 2008

Kimya Dawson - Midtown Dickens - Paleface - Angelo Spencer

Bull City HQ was the location for a night of mostly upbeat, very loose, and occasionally dare I say endearing, music. This bill was almost upstaged by its location. Located on a somewhat delapidated block of North Mangum street the Bull City HQ is an unusual venue at best. Obviously a center for a free bike program a makeshift art gallery and now a music space this quirky space is nestled between storefront churches (one of which is named "The True Way Church of God in Christ Jesus"). So it was here with a packed house that this group of mostly acoustic outsiders performed.

First up was Midtown Dickens, and with the crowd as thick as it was (did I mention I have no pictures of the bands?) it was hard to see the performers but the performance was intimate and easily heard. It had the aura of being at someones house and they suddenly decided to put on an impromptu show of some kind. Playing guitars, banjos, drums, trumpets and singing their throats sore I found the raggedy string band charm of this group to be very musical and light hearted.

Next up was Paleface, a duo that noted they were old friends and touring mates of Kimya Dawson. Their sound was not unlike an unplugged flat-duo-jets at times. Starting off softer and ending on a somewhat harsher set of songs, the performance was accomplished and emphatic.

Angelo Spencer was the penultimate performance and left alot to be desired. While the crowd enjoyed his thrashing electric noodlings Angelo managed to forget his lyrics, stop his songs and beg for mercy. He was ultimately a crowd pleaser but this left me strolling outside to take pictures until he was done.

Kimya Dawson is some kind of miracle. The perfect embodiment of the indie zeitgeist of the 2000's with her unkempt hair and her sweet and offbeat intelligent lyricism all paired with that crackly charming croon of hers. She rattled off more words in a single song than a dictionary and most of them were insightful and funny. Her material had a somewhat narrative sense to it - if you are a zen buddhist. Throwing away more good metaphors than Bob Dylan she was also very entertaining in-between songs.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

E-Reader Comparison

Ok, so being someone who reads alot and somewhat of an early adopter... I've been reading ebooks for almost 4 years. My first E-reader has been the Rocket ebook reader 1100. This has been my 2 lb. trusty companion for reading all kinds of content from the internet and ebooks and my purchased (and often converted ebooks) in .REB format. (The proprietary format for this reader.) This reader has had many commercial incarnations (gemstar etc...) but it's almost the same in every one. Cosmetic improvements here and there but on the whole the same unit.

The REB1100

Pros: Backlit for reading at night. On screen tapping for functions (limiting the number of buttons). Adjustable type size. Hyperlinking in documents. Can make content from standard HTML. Search function for documents. Built in dictionary for looking up words by tapping them on the screen.

Cons: Backlighting strategy makes it unusable in daylight situations. Glare from reader glass is an additional problem. This thing is kinda heavy (2 lbs!). Lasts about 20 hours before needing a charge. Boot up time can be long if there are lots of books installed(3 minutes). Bare-bones management software that does not generate content. (Content generated from 3rd party tools)

What I bought recently was the Sony PRS 500 reader. The even newer PRS 505 is the slightly more elegant cousin to this one. The Sony Reader is an elegant all metal E-Reader mostly meant for just that. It's lightweight form-factor and easy to read type make for an excellent reading experience. Finding and formatting content for this reader has proven to be a challenge albeit not insurmountable.

The PRS 500

Pros: Very lightweight (1/2 a pound). Adjustable text sizes. Instant boot up times. Multi-featured main page which stores books sorted by Date, Author, and Name. All bookmarks are stored in a central bookmark section of the main page as well as being stored in the respective individual books. Plays Mp3s. Displays Photographs. LRS book format compresses data efficiently. Sharp text readability. E-Ink technology gives clarity to text and requres no power to view a page (only to change it). E-Ink technology and no-glare glass makes the PRS 500 clearly readable in full sunlight. Rarely needs charging.

Cons: No search function. No internal dictionary function. Bare-bones management software that does not generate content. (Content generated from 3rd party tools)
No backlight for reading with the lights out or in shady corners.

I can say this is still an upgrade inspite of the missing features from my old REB1100. The readability and weight reduction alone make the PRS 500 superior. The Sony Reader also came with a really nice folio cover. Its about the size and thickness of a DVD case with the cover attached to the reader.