My ode to Steve Jobs

24th August, 2011

While Steve Jobs certainly isn’t dead, it still feels like he’s left us. I first heard the news that he resigned via text message from my friend Zach earlier this evening. Forever I’ll remember getting the news while on the L train heading to a cookout with my new coworkers, somehow while still underground.

I owe a lot of my career to him & to Apple. My first program was written in Dr. K’s algebra class on an Apple IIe at Pace Academy. My first “mobile application” was a restaurant database compiled together via Notes on an iPod classic at Cox Newspapers. And my first *real* mobile apps were Wired Product Reviews & Epicurious on the iPhone at Condé Nast. When I graduated from high school in 2000, or even when I graduated college in 2004, I never would have guessed that I’d be writing mobile software, let alone in an Apple operating system.

Before the iPhone App Store came along in 2008, I was more or less content writing web apps in Java & PHP. At that point in time, I was busy writing Facebook apps at Condé Nast. Who knew that my inclination to write a prototype for an Epicurious iPhone app would lead not only to be featured in an Apple commercial, but also to be mentioned by Steve himself in the iOS 4.0 press conference, shortly after the iPad was released.

But enough about me.

I recently watched Steve’s keynote address in 1997 at the first WWDC after he returned to Apple. In it, you can clearly see the visionary who we look up to so. He seems to have laid out the strategy for Apple for the succeeding ~15 years up through this year. He has led Apple from the brink of extinction & the butt of many a technology joke, to reinvent the computer in the form of the iMac, reinvent the MP3 player in the form of the iPod, reinvent the telephone & the smart phone in the form of the iPhone, and wholly invent a new category of device in the form of the iPad, let alone lead the world in digital music sales with iTunes.

Apart from all of this, we’ve seen Apple create an environment out of thin air where software developers can easily distribute software to consumers & actually make money directly from them! Having cut my teeth on software mostly in the 21st century, I just assumed that all software would be delivered for free on the web, and you’d hope that somehow someone at some point would pay for it, most likely an advertiser. Apple created an amazing distribution network called the App Store, developers created a jaw-dropping array of useful, gorgeous applications for the iPhone, and consumers worldwide were found willing to pay a few dollars to try it out. In doing so, along with the breadth of the network, developers are able to make a living directly from their users.

For all of this & more, I salute you, Steve Jobs. You have been an amazing & visionary CEO of Apple these past 15 years or so, and the technology world will surely miss you.

I will miss you.

Best of luck, Tim. You have big shoes to fill!

What i’ve been up to

11th September, 2010

I realized recently that I haven’t really blogged about much work related here. So I figured I’d wrap up the last couple years, then maybe keep this updated a bit more in the future.

A couple years ago, give or take, I was working on Facebook apps at Condé Nast. I got interested in what was then referred to as “iPhone OS” development [now iOS development], so I started working on a very simple prototype of epicurious that tapped into the recipe search capabilities of the website epicurious.com. It was ugly, but functional. More importantly, it proved that writing iPhone apps wasn’t rocket science.


Wired Product Reviews

The first real iPhone app I built was Wired Product Reviews. It was released in time for the holiday season 2008. Essentially it provided access to the curated product reviews on Wired.com. Here’s a short demo:


Epicurious


A short time later, I developed the iPhone version of “Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List” that you know & love. We were honored to have it featured in an Apple commercial under “apps for dining in” [now that i read that last phrase, it can sound a little funny out of context]:

Some more praise for Epicurious can be found here.


Concierge


In the summer of 2009, I developed the Concierge.com Postcard app, which allowed you to apply a variety of frames to your photos & share them with your friends.


GQ Magazine


Shortly thereafter, I was joined by a couple other developers to build our first foray into digital magazines: The GQ Men of the Year iPhone app, aka the December 2009 issue of GQ Magazine. We delivered this issue & the following January+February issues as 3 separate apps. In February, we launched a version that included the ability to buy issues within the app. I’m proud to say we’re on our 10th issue!


iPad


After the iPad was announced at the end of January 2010, 7 of us hunkered down and developed iPad versions of both GQ Magazine & Epicurious. We were proud to be a part of the launch of the iPad – Epicurious was featured prominently in launch PR, e.g.:

On top of that, we were flattered to be pointed out by Steve Jobs himself at the iPhone 4 keynote announcement:

On a personal note, being not only included but mentioned by name in Jacqui Cheng‘s “Top 6 iPad apps the Ars staff is dying to check out” made me rather giddy.


Glamour + Vanity Fair


Since then, we’ve launched two other magazines on the iOS platform: Vanity Fair and Glamour. I particularly loved their respective promotional videos.

Vanity Fair’s features editor-in-chief Graydon Carter & actor Kelsey Grammer

Glamour

This Glamour video features the always lovely Kristin Chenoweth


Style.com


While I didn’t do much for the Style.com iPad app, it was developed by some very nice coworkers of mine, and it shouldn’t be overlooked :)


Until next time

That brings us about up to speed! Enjoy & stay tuned for more.

Big Boi + The Roots on Jimmy Fallon

18th July, 2010

On July 12, Big Boi performed “Shutterbug” off his new album Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty with the legendary Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. enjoy!


[apologies for the ads!]

Buy Sir Lucious Left Foot on iTunes

Tunde covering Neil Young

24th April, 2010

Tunde Adebimpe, best known as the lead of TV on the Radio, starred as the groom in the film Rachel Getting Married. Here’s his cover of Neil Young’s Unknown Legend that he sang during the ceremony:
Tunde Adebimpe – Unknown Legend

I know it’s been a while since this movie came out, but i just wanted to share! Enjoy!

Musings on Music, top 50 albums of the decade

26th November, 2009

In thinking on the top 50 albums of the decade, I tried to distill down what I’ve listened to over the last ten years into the best of the best. Game changers, genre busters, glorious illustrations of brilliance, subtle tomes of awesome, albums that made you laugh, albums that made you cry, artists that noone had ever heard of 11 years ago, artists that reinvented themselves in the ensuing years, new collaborations, new forms of music.

The decade has seen the internet completely change the landscape of the arena of music. At the end of the 90′s, napster was an unheard of phenomenon. By the early 2000′s, Lars Uhlrich had single-handedly demolished the first worthwhile music-sharing network. But that didn’t stop us. Throughout the decade, the internet mutated & evolved from illegal filesharing networks like kazaa/limewire, to music blogs and internet radio stations who curate & promote great music, while heavily encouraging listeners to support artists in whatever way they can [WOXY, Cable & Tweed, Gorilla vs Bear, Kiss Atlanta]. Apple has created out of thin air a legal way to easily buy music [iTunes], as well as forever altering the way we consume it [iPods]. Radiohead & Paste Magazine & Girl Talk experimented with “pay what you want”, and while Paste has had its own financial woes [much like the rest of the publishing industry], Radiohead & Girl Talk have been considered unmitigated successes.

At the beginning of the decade, I was just a kid that liked music & explored interests through napster, etc. By 2003, I was the general manager of my college radio station [Wake Radio]. Somewhere in the middle of the decade, I started this blog & found it as a new avenue to spread what I like listening to to my friends & closest strangers [along with other musings on life]. With twitter, the possibilities exploded as sharing news & information have become increasingly more ‘viral’. Towards the end of the decade, we witnessed the birth of Muxtape, and while we knew the blessing couldn’t last, we had a way to share digital, streaming mixtapes of our own creation with the world. Even before its untimely death, some folks decided to launch an opensource model [rather than hosted] with a new, similar project called Opentape. This inspired me to launch a new site called Pneumes Radio with a couple friends of mine contributing semi-frequent mixtapes based on a shared theme.

What I haven’t mentioned so far are the bitter failures of the music industry this decade. The RIAA launched thousands of lawsuits against its customers, thus embittering a generation of music lovers. The radio industry launched digital FM, creating the hope of diversity & quality in radio, but ending mostly in the same old crap we get on analog radio. [Notable exception- my college radio station, once internet-only, finally found its place on the FM airways through a digital channel on the campus's NPR station.] Record stores across the country have shuttered their doors. And, lest we forget, dancing is still illegal without a license in the city of New York.

Actually compiling this list was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a while. The ‘smart playlist’ by year feature in iTunes was a great start, but actually distilling that down to what you see here was no small feat. Added to that was the problem of not having all my albums properly tagged with a year. I have left out amazing albums by wonderful artists who, for one reason or another, didn’t make it.

I didn’t dare attempt the logistical or quasi-legal option of adding songs for each one of these, but I have linked them all to iTunes, where you can preview & purchase the albums [plus, you support the blog! We get 5% of each purchase].

Without further adieu, I humbly present what i consider the best 50 albums of the decade, in order by year [within each year, no particular order].

2000
The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
OutKast – Stankonia
Radiohead – Kid A
Nickel Creek – Nickel Creek

2001
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it in People
Circulatory System – Circulatory System

2002
The Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Rosebud – Vespers
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Sigur Ros – ()

2003
OutKast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
The Postal Service – Give Up
The Rapture – Echoes
Rufus Wainwright – Want One
The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

2004
Adem – Homesongs
Arcade Fire – Funeral
CocoRosie – La Maison de Mon Reve
Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days
Kings of Convenience – Riot on an Empty Street
Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose
TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Sondre Lerche – Two Way Monologue

2005
Dr. Dog – Easy Beat
Iron & Wine + Calexico – In the Reins
Jamie Lidell – Multiply
Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise!

2006
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
Cansei De Ser Sexy – Cansei De Ser Sexy
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Dona Got a Ramblin Mind
Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
Hot Chip – The Warning
Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds
The Rapture – Pieces of the People We Love
Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope
Snowden – Anti-Anti

2007
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Beirut – Flying Club Cup
Feist – The Reminder
LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
MIA – Kala
The National – Boxer
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

2008
Janelle Monae – Metropolis
Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III

2009
Passion Pit – Manners
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Bands I recently came to dig, but are far too new to fit into the scope of the decade:
Rain Machine
Chiddy Bang
Bad Rabbits

Notable Soundtracks:
Almost Famous [2000]
O Brother, Where Art Thou? [2000]
Kill Bill Vol. 1 [2003]
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [2004]
Garden State [2004]
Juno [2007]

Notable singles:
The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army” [2003]
Mates of State – “Goods” [2004]
Yuki – “Joy” [2005]
Clap your hands say yeah – “Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” [2005]
Junior Boys – “In the Morning” [2006]
Sigur Ros – “Gobbledigook” [2008]
Bag Raiders – “Shooting Stars” [2008]
Beirut – “My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille” [2009]

Notable covers:
Johnny Cash – “Hurt”, originally by Nine Inch Nails [2002]
Outkast – “My Favorite Things”, originally by Rodgers & Hammerstein [2003]
José González – “Heartbeats”, originally by The Knife [2005]
Feist – “Sea Lion Woman”, traditional [2007]
Franz Ferdinand – “All My Friends”, originally by LCD Soundsystem [2007]
She & Him – “You Really Got a Hold On Me”, originally by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles [2008]
Janelle Monae – “Smile”, originally by Charlie Chaplin [2008]
Run Toto Run – “Sleepyhead”, originally by Passion Pit [2009]

Luminaries who didn’t explicitly find their way onto the list anywhere, but who still deserve a mention:
Diplo
Girl Talk
Danger Mouse

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank the following for regularly introducing me to awesome music over the course of the last ten years:
Trey Tims
Grant Bollmer [Wake Radio]
Cable & Tweed
Preston Craig [DSC+KissAtlanta]
JP Stephens
WOXY
Paste Magazine
Tiffany Needham
Jacob Morris
WRAS-88.5FM Atlanta
Most likely everyone who’s reading this.

Finally, a plea to the linguists of the world. Can we come up with new, separate terms for a DJ who simply plays a song for others, and a DJ who takes songs & sounds to create a new song all together? Thanks.

I invite you to check out Pneumes Radio, where we’re also launching a new “best of the decade” theme today. Check it out at:
radio.pneumes.com

Buy the ‘best of’ mixtape on itunes

Happy Thanksgiving all! Thanks for reading.

love,
tolar

Hot new acts: Chiddy Bang, Bad Rabbits

15th November, 2009

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Chiddy Bang & Bad Rabbits open up for Slick Rick & Goodie Mob last night. Chiddy Bang is a rapper out of Philly who can freakin kill the shit out of a Passion Pit track. Bad Rabbits lives somewhere between Prince & , yet can still back up Slick Rick. Their debut’s out December 1, but the free EP’s available below.


Chiddy Bang


website | myspace | twitter
Chiddy Bang – “Truth” [Passion Pit remix]

Chiddy Bang – The Opposite of Adults (KIDS)

Swelly Express [mixtape, includes both songs above, plus a remix of Sufjan Steven's "All Things Go"]
more tracks


Bad Rabbits


website | myspace | twitter
Bad Rabbits – Can’t Back Down

Stick Up Kids EP [free!]

Goodie Mob + The Roots play “Soul Food” on Jimmy Fallon

13th November, 2009



Can’t wait to see ‘em tonight in nyc!

Thanks to @bobdebird for the heads-up.

Goodie Mob – “Soul Food”, featuring The Roots

Purchase Goodie Mob’s seminal classic Soul Food on iTunes, or buy the cd at Amazon

A little bookmarklet for your twitter

31st October, 2009

I was delighted when whofollowswhom.com came around, but I was a bit dismayed that there wasn’t a quck, easy way to get from a user’s twitter page to immediately finding out who our mutual followers are, etc. Since then, @janislanka has added the ability to directly link to his page, and thus is born the javascript bookmarklet. Simply put, drag the below link to your toolbar. If you’re logged in & you’re viewing someone else’s twitter page, hit the bookmark & you’re taken to whofollowswhom.com! Voila!

whofollowswhom

I’ve only tested this on osx/firefox, so if it doesn’t work for you, let me know! thanks

[Thanks to betterexplained.com for the bookmarklet tutorial]

music monday: rain machine, big boi, scott walker, school of seven bells, lcd soundsystem, janelle monae, michael bellar

19th October, 2009

Here are a selection of tracks I’ve recently been listening to. hope you enjoy!

Rain Machine – Leave the Lights On
listen | buy rain machine
New project from Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio.

Big Boi – Shine Blockas
listen
new track from Outkast’s Big Boi. need i say more? love love love this one!
[courtesy of straightfromthea.com]

Scott Walker – It’s Raining Today
listen | buy scott 3
60′s child pop star gone reclusive indie mad man. just saw the documentary “30th century man” on netflix/instant.

LCD Soundsystem – Bye Bye Bayou
listen | buy sound of silver
Delicious, long awaited new track from James Murphy + crew.
[courtesy of weallwantsomeone.org]

Janelle Monae – Come Alive
listen | buy metropolis
Bangin new track from Janelle. i heart her more & more every day! this one got my booty shakin
[courtesy of wondaland]

Michael Bellar – Fred Jones, Pt. 2 [cover of Ben Folds]
listen | buy turned up turned on
Funky yet intimate jazz cover of Ben Folds’ song from sometime band member of Jay Clifford projects Jump, Little Children & Rosebud.

Andrew Bird – Weather Systems
listen | buy weather systems
An early track from Andrew Bird

School of Seven Bells – Connjur
Jordan of Snowden wants you to listen to this ‘decompressed’ version of ‘Connjur’
buy alpinisms

New Stuff from Dave Eggers, RJD2, & Del tha Funky Homosapien

18th August, 2009

I don’t really have much to say, but I wanted to share these findings…

Free new RJD2 mp3 from Amazon MP3: download “Find You Out”

Free (not so new) Del tha Funky Homosapien album: Funk Man

New Dave Eggers excerpt: Max at Sea