Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mysteries of Egypt

Last Sunday we made our first visit to the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The museum had a special Ancient Egypt day with kid activities, and a rare public display of "Nellie", Seattle's only Egyptian mummy. Our eight-year-old is really into Ancient Egypt, so we couldn't pass up this opportunity.

The mummy, about 2000 years old, is a woman who lived during the Ptolemaic period of Ancient Egypt. The wooden coffin is about 1000 years older than the mummy itself. The mummy had been roughly treated during the 1900s, but the museum has been working to stabilize and restore it for quite a while. The bright colors on paintings on the coffin were clearly visible.

We had a great time. We were also blown away by the other exhibits in the museum, including the exhibits on Native American and Asian peoples in Washington state history. We will definitely visit again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Revenge of the belt clip

One of the most frustrating things about owning an iPod has been trying to find a way to carry it around and use it.

I like to keep my iPod Video on my belt, but after going through three belt clips in the past year, I have reached the conclusion that iPod-specific accessories just plain suck. There are no well-made, durable see-through cases that keep an iPod safe and secure on your hip and also allow you to access it and select music.

The latest disappointment is the Incase leather sleeve. The metal clip itself is strong and well-made, but the leather that the clip attaches to is weak and poorly made. After three months, the leather backing ripped open, making the case useless.

Meanwhile the Nite Ize belt case I use for my cell phone has lasted for years. Unfortunately it uses a magnet to close the case which could damage the iPod hard drive.

Update: I found this Nite Ize sport case at the REI in Issaquah and am hopeful that it will last. It is by the same company that makes my cell phone case, is a little larger, and has velcro instead of a magnet. If it lasts a year it will have been well worth it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sounds from space

Scientists using France's COROT space telescope have used a technique called "stellar seismology" to convert oscillations in starlight into "sound". The technique has produced sound for three stars similar to our own sun. Details including sound clips here.

Some of the sounds remind me of sound tracks from 1950s science fiction films. Our own sun sounds a bit like a wine glass harmonica.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Music Notes

Last Sunday my wife LeAnne and I performed the music in a small equinox service at our church. We performed several songs for guitar, Native American Flute, and ocarina.

Yesterday I set up an account on CD Baby which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite music sites. Music downloads come down as Zip files which include DRM-free MP3s, album art, etc. I downloaded three CDs including one from an artist I hadn't heard of before, Alan Miceli, an acoustic guitarist and composer from Canada. I love the way he plays guitar: relaxing, pure, inspirational. The next day I got a thank you email from Alan directly. Very cool.

It occurs to me that as MP3 players make listening to music an increasingly private experience, many of the social pressures to listen to popular music are becoming less important. If the popularity of an artist becomes less relevant, tools that help you find artists you might like to listen are becoming more important. The future is moving towards all the music in the world being available to all the listeners in the world. Listeners also want to be able to connect to the artists they listen to. Let businesses compete to provide the best music search tools, but the days of big corporate music collections being available only through narrow channels are numbered.