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How Good Is That Playlist?

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Playing Music's Long Tail

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Music Tempo and Genre as Playlist Factors

It's rare that a day passes in our house without music being played somewhere. But because we're now working on the launch of Syntonetic's Moodagent playlisting application for iPhone and iPod Touch, I've been spending even more time than usual listening to my own music, thinking about playlists, and what makes a good one.

In my previous post I wrote about the digital music dilemma: when you've accumulated so much digital music that you can't remember all the tracks in your library, how do you decide what to play? Picking tracks at random can sometimes be interesting, but it doesn't work when you want to hear a particular kind of music.

In this post I look at music tempo and music genre as two possible characteristics that might be useful in creating a playlist that is less random.

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All I Have to Do Is ... Play Music

Illustration: Everly Brothers

Music has always been important in my life. But lately, because we're working on Syntonetic's Moodagent launch (see the previous post), I'm spending a lot of time thinking about the relationship between music and mood.

The notion that music influences our mood is nothing new. But today's Music Psychologists are tackling the subject more systematically than the poets of old. In Seven Ways Music Influences Mood, Psyblog reviews a 2007 study of adolescents in Finland about the different ways they used music to control and improve their mood.

All the same, scientists finding connections between music and the quality of life does not affect me directly. How can I put that knowledge to use in the way I select and play my own music?

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Mood Agent for your Music

Illustration: MoodAgent

Did you know...

that Americans spend more money on music than on sex or prescription drugs?

And the average American hears more than five hours of music per day -- according to author Daniel Levitin.

So obviously music is important to us!

This is why we at UpRight Marketing are excited to be embarking on a new project for a music playlisting application soon to be launched in the U.S. The first step is to conduct a beta program with a limited number of music enthusiasts.

Beta Program -- We invite you to participate!

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Finding Truth: We Have the Tools

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers or elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live to it."

--The Buddha, in the Kalama Sutta

Like many fellow citizens, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to follow a rational and substantial conversation about our nation's healthcare future. Instead of thoughtful arguments, we hear accusations. Instead of taking responsibility, we take sides. It's hard to stay centered on what's real and what we truly stand for.

I don't have a silver bullet -- only two items to share that may make a difference for you too.

Number One: Before relying on any talk news station, video, politician, relative or friend, search your own heart and mind in silence. Get away from your usual setting if possible. Don't think about what others have told you or what you are afraid will happen. Focus only on the facts that you know directly, your own experience of what happened -- not an interpretation of history or a prediction of a future.

Decide what you stand for, what you care about right now, that applies in any situation -- not just healthcare. Then remember and rely on your own truth and logic when investigating issues and speaking about them with others.

Number Two: A friend and colleague shared a heartfelt personal story with me this weekend that is her truth. The depth of her message moved me to share it with you...

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The Myth of Work-Life Balance

What’s More Important – Me or Your Job?

If you’re are a startup founder or an early employee, there may come a time in your relationship that your significant other/spouse will ask you the “what’s more important?” question. It will come after you come home at 2 am in the morning after missing a dinner/movie date you promised to make. Or you’ll hear it after announcing one morning that weekend trip isn’t going to happen because you have a deadline at work. Or if you have kids, it will get asked when you’ve missed another one of their plays, soccer games or school events because you were too busy finishing that project or on yet another business trip. At some point your significant other/spouse’s question will be, “What’s more important, me and your family or your job?”

--Steve Blank, Lies Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves

Reading Steve's blog post, I'm experiencing a flashback to my past.

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Are We Making Progress?

My career appears to be a series of random lateral moves that reflect my heart more than my head. I knew without a doubt that I would have a lifelong relationship with computers in the late ‘80’s, after successfully implementing one of the first small office systems, a Wang 2200, as an intern at a Boston law firm. But instead of installing and using the applications, I wanted to write the code that made the systems work. So the lateral moves began.

Illustration: Who, Why, What

In my formative years as lead database architect at a large Boston bank, application packages like Oracle or SAP weren't invented yet. Instead I worked directly with the finance executives to understand the business, the transaction processes, and the data, while custom-designing and deploying applications for them. The work was thrilling to me. (Well, except for the 2 AM calls from IT Ops when an overnight batch program abended.)

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Will the Past Predict the Future?

"History teaches us the mistakes we are going to make" -Author Unknown

Reflections on Computer History

This time of year I think about history. The Computer History Museum marks the 20th anniversary of its Fellow Awards and my fourth as Program Chair. On October 16, 2007, four computing technology pioneers, Morris Chang, John Hennessy, David Patterson, and Charles Thacker will be inducted as Fellows. There they will share their insights and stories, which will be recorded as part of the Museum’s artifacts.

Others are thinking about history because this month also marks 50 years since the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, the company regarded as the start-up that spawned the Silicon Valley chip industry. Venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme, who joined Fairchild as a product marketing engineer in 1963, remembers it as “the Google of the era.” This past weekend, the Museum hosted panels and a reunion gala, where others who were there or wanted to be, shared their stories.

Dean Takahashi, reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, went Behind the Scenes at the Museum and highlights in his words the “forgotten tales from the frenetic history of the electronics industry”.

Compared to most historical subjects warranting a museum, 20 or 50 years of computers hardly seems enough to qualify. But capturing first hand the early stories of computing technology, while many of its original pioneers are here to help tell them, is one reason it is so fascinating to me.

Another reason I work with the Museum is pure love - an ongoing unadulterated love affair. Let me explain. . .

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Let’s Stop Beatin’ ‘Round the Bush

Illustration: Dilbert Cartoon

DILBERT: © Scott Adams
Dist. by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

Did you happen to catch the Dilbert series from September 13-18, 2007?

If you did, and you have the responsibility for bringing together products and services with customers, how did those five comic strips make you feel? The first of the series is reproduced below -- what is your reaction now?

My initial reaction was to laugh, then groan. Scott Adams always evokes a chuckle because of his scary but realistic view of corporate life. It also reminded me of Seth Godin's entertaining 2005 blog and book, All Marketers Are Liars.

In the same breath, I voice a deep groan. Why? Because yet again, the marketing function is positioned as fraud or creative public deception. That is -- lying.

At times I’ve asked myself, “Why would anyone willingly choose to be associated with a profession that has become synonymous with deception?” I hear particularly horrifying stories and think, “I don’t do that” or “I would never do that!”

But do I? Am I actually making a difference? Instead of complaining about the unfairness of labeling all marketing as fraud -- or resigning myself to believe that all’s fair when it comes to making money and winning in a competitive marketplace -- I wonder...

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