Bookmarks for February 4th through February 11th

These are my links for February 4th through February 11th:

  • Schneier on Security: Interview with a Nigerian Internet Scammer – "We had something called the recovery approach. A few months after the original scam, we would approach the victim again, this time pretending to be from the FBI, or the Nigerian Authorities. The email would tell the victim that we had caught a scammer and had found all of the details of the original scam, and that the money could be recovered. Of course there would be fees involved as well. Victims would often pay up again to try and get their money back."
  • xkcd – Frequency of Strip Versions of Various Games – n = Google hits for "strip <game name>" / Google hits for "<game name>"
  • PeteSearch: How to split up the US – Visualization of social network clusters in the US. "information by location, with connections drawn between places that share friends. For example, a lot of people in LA have friends in San Francisco, so there's a line between them.

    Looking at the network of US cities, it's been remarkable to see how groups of them form clusters, with strong connections locally but few contacts outside the cluster. For example Columbus, OH and Charleston WV are nearby as the crow flies, but share few connections, with Columbus clearly part of the North, and Charleston tied to the South."

  • Redis: Lightweight key/value Store That Goes the Extra Mile | Linux Magazine – Sort of like memcache. "Calling redis a key/value store doesn’t quite due it justice. It’s better thought of as a “data structures” server that supports several native data types and operations on them. That’s pretty much how creator Salvatore Sanfilippo (known as antirez) describes it in the documentation. Let’s dig in and see how it works."
  • Op-Ed Contributor – Microsoft’s Creative Destruction – NYTimes.com – Unlike other companies, Microsoft never developed a true system for innovation. Some of my former colleagues argue that it actually developed a system to thwart innovation. Despite having one of the largest and best corporate laboratories in the world, and the luxury of not one but three chief technology officers, the company routinely manages to frustrate the efforts of its visionary thinkers.

Bookmarks for January 30th through February 4th

These are my links for January 30th through February 4th:

  • Op-Ed Contributor – Microsoft’s Creative Destruction – NYTimes.com – Unlike other companies, Microsoft never developed a true system for innovation. Some of my former colleagues argue that it actually developed a system to thwart innovation. Despite having one of the largest and best corporate laboratories in the world, and the luxury of not one but three chief technology officers, the company routinely manages to frustrate the efforts of its visionary thinkers.
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s Resume Explains Why He’s The Renaissance Man For the Job – Davinci – Gizmodo – At one time in history, even da Vinci himself had to pen a resume to explain why he was a qualified applicant. Here's a translation of his letter to the Duke of Milan, delineating his many talents and abilities. "Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below..The document, written when da Vinci was 30, is actually more of a cover letter than a resume; he leaves out many of his artistic achievements and instead focuses on what he can provide for the Duke in technologies of war.
  • jsMath: jsMath Home Page – The jsMath package provides a method of including mathematics in HTML pages that works across multiple browsers under Windows, Macintosh OS X, Linux and other flavors of unix. It overcomes a number of the shortcomings of the traditional method of using images to represent mathematics: jsMath uses native fonts, so they resize when you change the size of the text in your browser, they print at the full resolution of your printer, and you don't have to wait for dozens of images to be downloaded in order to see the mathematics in a web page. There are also advantages for web-page authors, as there is no need to preprocess your web pages to generate any images, and the mathematics is entered in TeX form, so it is easy to create and maintain your web pages. Although it works best with the TeX fonts installed, jsMath will fall back on a collection of image-based fonts (which can still be scaled or printed at high resolution) or unicode fonts when the TeX fonts are not available.
  • Josh on the Web » Blog Archive » Abusing the Cache: Tracking Users without Cookies – To track a user I make use of three URLs: the container, which can be any website; a shim file, which contains a unique code; and a tracking page, which stores (and in this case displays) requests. The trick lies in making the browser cache the shim file indefinitely. When the file is requested for the first – and only – time a unique identifier is embedded in the page. The shim embeds the tracking page, passing it the unique ID every time it is loaded. See the source code.

    One neat thing about this method is that JavaScript is not strictly required. It is only used to pass the message and referrer to the tracker. It would probably be possible to replace the iframes with CSS and images to gain JS-free HTTP referrer logging but would lose the ability to store messages so easily.

  • Panopticlick – Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 342,943 tested so far.

    Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 18.39 bits of identifying information.

    The measurements we used to obtain this result are listed below. You can read more about the methodology here, and about some defenses against fingerprinting here

Bookmarks for January 17th through January 20th

These are my links for January 17th through January 20th:

  • PG&E Electrical System Outage Map – This map shows the current outages in our 70,000-square-mile service area. To see more details about an outage, including the cause and estimated time of restoration, click on the color-coded icon associated with that outage.
  • Twitter.com vs The Twitter Ecosystem – Fred Wilson comments on some data from John Borthwick indicating Twitter ecosystem use = 3-5x Twitter.com directly.

    "John's chart estimates that Twitter.com is about 20mm uvs a month in the US (comScore has it at 60mm uvs worldwide) and the Twitter ecosystem at about 60mm uvs in the US.

    That says that across all web services, not just AVC, the Twitter ecosystem is about 3x Twitter.com. And on this blog, whose audience is certainly power users, that ratio is 5x."

  • Chris Walshaw :: Research :: Partition Archive – Welcome to the University of Greenwich Graph Partitioning Archive. The archive consists of the best partitions found to date for a range of graphs and its aim is to provide a benchmark, against which partitioning algorithms can be tested, and a resource for experimentation.

    The partition archive has been in operation since the year 2000 and includes results from most of the major graph partitioning software packages. Researchers developing experimental partitioning algorithms regularly submit new partitions for possible inclusion.

    Most of the test graphs arise from typical partitioning applications, although the archive also includes results computed for a graph-colouring test suite [Wal04] contained in a separate annex.

    The archive was originally set up as part of a research project into very high quality partitions and authors wishing to refer to the partitioning archive should cite the paper [SWC04].

  • Twitter’s Crawl « The Product Guy – "A list of incidents that affected the Page Load Time of the Twitter product, distinguishing between total downtime, and partial downtime and information inaccessibility, based upon the public posts on Twitters blog.

    http://status.twitter.com/archive

    I did my best to not double count any problems, but it was difficult since many of the problems occur so frequently, and it is often difficult to distinguish, from these status blog posts alone, between a persisting problem being experienced or fixed, from that of a new emergence of a similar or same problem. Furthermore, I also excluded the impact on Page Load Time arising from scheduled maintenance/downtime – periods of time over which the user expectation would be most aligned with the product’s promise of Page Load Time. "

  • Soundboard.com – Soundboard.com is the web's largest catalog of free sounds and soundboards – in over 20 categories, for mobile or PC. 252,858 free sounds on 17,171 soundboards from movies to sports, sound effects, television, celebrities, history and travel. Or build, customize, embed and manage your own

Bookmarks for December 31st through January 17th

These are my links for December 31st through January 17th:

  • Khan Academy – The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.

    We have 1000+ videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance which have been recorded by Salman Khan.

  • StarCraft AI Competition | Expressive Intelligence Studio – AI bot warfare competition using a hacked API to run StarCraft, will be held at AIIDE2010 in October 2010.
    The competition will use StarCraft Brood War 1.16.1. Bots for StarCraft can be developed using the Broodwar API, which provides hooks into StarCraft and enables the development of custom AI for StarCraft. A C++ interface enables developers to query the current state of the game and issue orders to units. An introduction to the Broodwar API is available here. Instructions for building a bot that communicates with a remote process are available here. There is also a Forum. We encourage submission of bots that make use of advanced AI techniques. Some ideas are:
    * Planning
    * Data Mining
    * Machine Learning
    * Case-Based Reasoning
  • Measuring Measures: Learning About Statistical Learning – A "quick start guide" for statistical and machine learning systems, good collection of references.
  • Berkowitz et al : The use of formal methods to map, analyze and interpret hawala and terrorist-related alternative remittance systems (2006) – Berkowitz, Steven D., Woodward, Lloyd H., & Woodward, Caitlin. (2006). Use of formal methods to map, analyze and interpret hawala and terrorist-related alternative remittance systems. Originally intended for publication in updating the 1988 volume, eds., Wellman and Berkowitz, Social Structures: A Network Approach (Cambridge University Press). Steve died in November, 2003. See Barry Wellman’s “Steve Berkowitz: A Network Pioneer has passed away,” in Connections 25(2), 2003. It has not been possible to add the updating of references or of the quality of graphics that might have been possible if Berkowitz were alive. An early version of the article appeared in the Proceedings of the Session on Combating Terrorist Networks: Current Research in Social Network Analysis for the New War Fighting Environment. 8th International Command and Control Research and Technology Symposium. National Defense University, Washington, D.C June 17-19, 2003
  • SSH Tunneling through web filters | s-anand.net – Step by step tutorial on using Putty and an EC2 instance to set up a private web proxy on demand.
  • PyDroid GUI automation toolkit – GitHub – What is Pydroid?

    Pydroid is a simple toolkit for automating and scripting repetitive tasks, especially those involving a GUI, with Python. It includes functions for controlling the mouse and keyboard, finding colors and bitmaps on-screen, as well as displaying cross-platform alerts.
    Why use Pydroid?

    * Testing a GUI application for bugs and edge cases
    o You might think your app is stable, but what happens if you press that button 5000 times?
    * Automating games
    o Writing a script to beat that crappy flash game can be so much more gratifying than spending hours playing it yourself.
    * Freaking out friends and family
    o Well maybe this isn't really a practical use, but…

  • Time Series Data Library – More data sets – "This is a collection of about 800 time series drawn from many different fields.Agriculture Chemistry Crime Demography Ecology Finance Health Hydrology Industry Labour Market Macro-Economics Meteorology Micro-Economics Miscellaneous Physics Production Sales Simulated series Sport Transport & Tourism Tree-rings Utilities"
  • How informative is Twitter? » SemanticHacker Blog – "We undertook a small study to characterize the different types of messages that can be found on Twitter. We downloaded a sample of tweets over a two-week period using the Twitter streaming API. This resulted in a corpus of 8.9 million messages (”tweets”) posted by 2.6 million unique users. About 2.7 million of these tweets, or 31%, were replies to a tweet posted by another user, while half a million (6%) were retweets. Almost 2 million (22%) of the messages contained a URL."
  • Gremlin – a Turing-complete, graph-based programming language – GitHub – Gremlin is a Turing-complete, graph-based programming language developed in Java 1.6+ for key/value-pair multi-relational graphs known as property graphs. Gremlin makes extensive use of the XPath 1.0 language to support complex graph traversals. This language has applications in the areas of graph query, analysis, and manipulation. Connectors exist for the following data management systems:

    * TinkerGraph in-memory graph
    * Neo4j graph database
    * Sesame 2.0 compliant RDF stores
    * MongoDB document database

    The documentation for Gremlin can be found at this location. Finally, please visit TinkerPop for other software products.

  • The C Programming Language: 4.10 – by Kernighan & Ritchie & Lovecraft – void Rlyeh
    (int mene[], int wgah, int nagl) {
    int Ia, fhtagn;
    if (wgah>=nagl) return;
    swap (mene,wgah,(wgah+nagl)/2);
    fhtagn = wgah;
    for (Ia=wgah+1; Ia<=nagl; Ia++)
    if (mene[Ia]<mene[wgah])
    swap (mene,++fhtagn,Ia);
    swap (mene,wgah,fhtagn);
    Rlyeh (mene,wgah,fhtagn-1);
    Rlyeh (mene,fhtagn+1,nagl);

    } // PH'NGLUI MGLW'NAFH CTHULHU!

  • How to convert email addresses into name, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation – This is so Meta – "Save your email list as a CSV file (just comma separate those email addresses). Upload this file to your facebook account as if you wanted to add them as friends. Voila, facebook will give you all the profiles of all those users (in my test, about 80% of my email lists have facebook profiles). Now, click through each profile, and because of the new default facebook settings, which makes all information public, about 95% of the user info is available for you to harvest."
  • Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL): Tools Repository – A collection of previously internal-only security tools from Microsoft, including anti-xss, fuzz test, fxcop, threat modeling, binscope, now available for free download.
  • Analytics X Prize – Home – Forecast the murder rate in Philadelphia – The Analytics X Prize is an ongoing contest to apply analytics, modeling, and statistics to solve the social problems that affect our cities. It combines the fields of statistics, mathematics, and social science to understand the root causes of dysfunction in our neighborhoods. Understanding these relationships and discovering the most highly correlated variables allows us to deploy our limited resources more effectively and target the variables that will have the greatest positive impact on improvement.
  • PeteSearch: How to find user information from an email address – FindByEmail code released as open-source. You pass it an email address, and it queries 11 different public APIs to discover what information those services have on the user with that email address.
  • Measuring Measures: Beyond PageRank: Learning with Content and Networks – Conclusion: learning based on content and network data is the current state of the art There is a great paper and talk about personalization in Google News they use content for this purpose, and then user click streams to provide personalization, i.e. recommend specific articles within each topical cluster. The issue is content filtering is typically (as we say in research) "way harder." Suppose you have a social graph, a bunch of documents, and you know that some users in the social graph like some documents, and you want to recommend other documents that you think they will like. Using approaches based on Networks, you might consider clustering users based on co-visitaion (they have co-liked some of the documents). This scales great, and it internationalizes great. If you start extracting features from the documents themselves, then what you build for English may not work as well for the Chinese market. In addition, there is far more data in the text than there is in the social graph
  • mikemaccana’s python-docx at master – GitHub – MIT-licensed Python library to read/write Microsoft Word docx format files. "The docx module reads and writes Microsoft Office Word 2007 docx files. These are referred to as 'WordML', 'Office Open XML' and 'Open XML' by Microsoft. They can be opened in Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Mac Office 2008, OpenOffice.org 2.2, and Apple iWork 08. The module was created when I was looking for a Python support for MS Word .doc files, but could only find various hacks involving COM automation, calling .net or Java, or automating OpenOffice or MS Office."

Bookmarks for May 12th from 10:52 to 21:56

These are my links for May 12th from 10:52 to 21:56:

Bookmarks for May 8th through May 12th

These are my links for May 8th through May 12th:

Bookmarks for April 30th from 05:57 to 07:10

These are my links for April 30th from 05:57 to 07:10:

Bookmarks for March 6th through March 8th

These are my links for March 6th through March 8th:

Bookmarks for March 4th through March 6th

These are my links for March 4th through March 6th:

  • Welcome to VIPERdb – Scripps – VIPERdb is a database for icosahedral virus capsid structures . The emphasis of the resource is on providing data from structural and computational analyses on these systems, as well as high quality renderings for visual exploration.
  • Virus images at VIPERdb – If you have ever wanted to make beautiful images of viruses, in colors of your choice, then go to VIPERdb, the virus particle explorer.
  • Reverse HTTP – IETF draft-lentczner-rhttp-00.txt – Formal description of the reverse HTTP proposal for initiating connections through firewalls then reversing server and client roles.
  • Reverse HTTP – Second Life Wiki – Experimental protocol which takes advantage of the HTTP/1.1 Upgrade: header to turn one HTTP socket around. When a client makes a request to a server with the Upgrade: PTTH/0.9 header, the server may respond with an Upgrade: PTTH/1.0 header, after which point the server starts using the socket as a client, and the client starts using the socket as a server.
  • WTFs/m – The only valid measurement of code quality, WTFs/min

Bookmarks for February 26th through February 27th

These are my links for February 26th through February 27th:

Bookmarks for February 21st from 13:59 to 21:55

These are my links for February 21st from 13:59 to 21:55:

Random Palo Alto stuff – wheelchair bandit, chickens, Comcast

It’s the time of spring when all the flowering trees bloom. There are a lot of cherry and wisteria trees in our neighborhood, it looks nice and as the petals start falling in a few weeks off later it will look like every home held a wedding recently. Good weather for being out and about. Speaking of which…

The Wachovia Bank (formerly World Savings) branch over at the Stanford Shopping Center was robbed last Thursday. This is already a little unusual, but what caught my attention was that they were robbed by an elderly man in an electric wheelchair. And he got away! He apparently stopped by The Sharper Image and asked for a shopping bag on his way over to the bank.

Mike’s comment about Comcast and chickens wandering in Keith’s yard reminded me about my former neighbors. When we first moved into our current home, we soon discovered that the neighbors bordering our back yard owned several chickens. During the summer when we left the windows open overnight, we would hear their rooster crowing first thing in the morning. Their chickens never made it into our yard, although their cats came through regularly. They were an interesting couple, living kind of like they were homesteaders on a mountain farm, with a rickety greenhouse, garden, and a yard full of debris, on an oversized lot in the middle of Old Palo Alto. They sold a few years ago, at the moment there’s a brand new house going up, the chickens are long gone but we have had random construction work going on for a while.

We also have Comcast here.  I still use PacBell (now AT&T) DSL for the office network, but the house network uses the cable modem service. The download speeds are higher, but it does go offline sometimes, making me reluctant to run my office on Comcast’s internet service. This is a great fit for the rest of our family which mostly surfs the web, watching online video, web pages, or chatting. The DSL service is relatively clunky (I have one of the first lines rolled out in Palo Alto) and slow, but the continuous uptime is similar to my Linux servers in the back of the closet, running for years with uninterrupted service.

Looking at this heatmap, Palo Alto and Stanford are apparently a little blue oasis of solvency in the map of real estate foreclosures, surrounded by a sea of red.

 hotpads-siliconvalley-2008-sm 

Superman, Hulk, or Green Lantern?

This quiz has been circulating during the holidays. I did this three separate times without trying to think over the responses, and got three different results. I’m apparently on the cusp of Superman, the Hulk, and the Green Lantern, depending on the time of day.

You are Superman

Superman
70%
Green Lantern
60%
Hulk
60%
Robin
60%
Spider-Man
55%
Supergirl
50%
Batman
40%
Iron Man
40%
The Flash
30%
Wonder Woman
20%
Catwoman
15%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

You are Hulk

Hulk
70%
Green Lantern
70%
Robin
70%
Spider-Man
65%
Iron Man
60%
Superman
55%
Supergirl
50%
The Flash
40%
Batman
35%
Catwoman
25%
Wonder Woman
20%
You are a wanderer with
amazing strength.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
70%
Superman
65%
Spider-Man
65%
Robin
55%
Hulk
55%
Supergirl
50%
Iron Man
50%
The Flash
45%
Batman
35%
Wonder Woman
20%
Catwoman
15%
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Ms. Dewey – Stylish search, with whips, guns, and dating tips


It’s been a while since I’ve come across something I haven’t seen before online. Ms. Dewey fits the bill. It is a Flash-based application combining video clips of actress Janina Gavankar with Windows Live search.

As a search application, it’s fat, slow, and the query results aren’t great. However, as John Batelle observes, “clearly, search ain’t the point.” This is search with an flirty attitude, where the speed and quality of the results aren’t at the top of the priority list.

As short-attention-span theater goes, it’s quite entertaining.

If you can’t think of anything to search for, Ms. Dewey will fidget for a while and eventually reach out and tap on the screen. “Helloooo…type something here…”

It’s far more interesting to try some queries and check out the responses. I spent over half an hour typing in keywords to see what would come up, starting with some of the suggestions from Digg and Channel9. The application provides a semi-random set of video responses based on the search keywords, so you won’t always get the same reaction each time.

The whip and riding crop don’t always appear when you’d think, the lab coat seems to be keyed to science and math (try “partial differential equation”), and I’m not sure what brings on the automatic weapons.

“Ms. Dewey” also has a MySpace page with more video clips. The way the application is constructed, they can probably keep updating and adding responses as long as they want to.

I briefly tried using Ms. Dewey in place of Google, as a working search engine, but it takes too long to respond to a series of queries (have to wait for the video to play) and the search results aren’t great (Live is continuing to improve, though). At the moment this is a fun conceptual experiment.

I wonder if we’ll see a new category of search emphasizing style (entertainment, attitude, sex) over substance (relevance, speed, scope). Today’s version might already work for the occasional search user, but imagine Ms. Dewey with faster, non-blocking search results, a better search UI, and Google’s results. It all vaguely reminds me of a William Gibson novel.

Three years in 3 minutes – a self portrait movie


This popped up on YouTube this afternoon – filmmaker Ahree Lee shot an image of her face every day for three years starting in November 2001, then concatenated them into a fascinating short movie called “Me”. The project is set to music by Nathan Melsted, which give it a hypnotic, X-file-ish feeling.

A slightly longer and sharper version is posted at AtomFilms. There’s also a short related project built on lots of different faces, called “Everyone”.

Movie night in Palo Alto

Movie night in Palo Alto
These guys have been shooting scenes for their movie at the house down the street for the past couple of days. I can see the lights from my home office on the second floor, and this evening we walked over to take a look.

Dan Engelhardt started making movies on his iMac as a seventh-grader in Menlo Park. Brad Leong put on a student film festival — which included his own work — when he was a junior at Palo Alto High.

This summer, these two precocious 20-year-olds are home from college to make their first full-length feature film, a coming-of-age movie they hope will be the next “American Graffiti.” It’s set in — where else? — Palo Alto.

A few days earlier they were around the corner over at a house on Bryant. Those scenes apparently involved hanging lots of toilet paper on the trees in the yard. They’ve gotten grants from Panavision, Kodak, and Apple, so they’re better equipped than the average videoblogging operation.

Update 08-16-2006 20:09 PDT: They have a web site for the movie now, complete with blog. Here’s one of their photos of setting up at the house down the street earlier in the day the photo up top was taken.

The Matrix, with Muppets


Featuring Kermit, Miss Piggy, and friends. YouTube, via 500 Hats

Randomly exploring the long tail of search results

I sometimes click on a random “deep” search result page to see if anything interesting turns up, because of the limitations of popularity and PageRank for some queries.

Paul Kedrosky points at a recent paper from CMU which suggests randomly mixing in some low ranking pages may improve search results over time.

Unfortunately, the correlation between popularity and quality
is very weak for newly-created pages that have few
visits and/or in-links. Worse, the process by which new,
high-quality pages accumulate popularity is actually inhibited
by search engines. Since search engines dole out
a limited number of clicks per unit time among a large
number of pages, always listing highly popular pages at
the top, and because users usually focus their attention on
the top few results, newly-created but high-quality
pages are “shut out.”

We propose a simple and elegant solution to
this problem: the introduction of a controlled
amount of randomness into search result ranking
methods. Doing so offers new pages a chance
to prove their worth, although clearly using too
much randomness will degrade result quality and
annul any benefits achieved. Hence there is a
tradeoff between exploration to estimate the quality
of new pages and exploitation of pages already
known to be of high quality. We study this tradeoff
both analytically and via simulation, in the context
of an economic objective function based on
aggregate result quality amortized over time. We
show that a modest amount of randomness leads
to improved search results.

Link:
Shuffling a Stacked Deck: The Case for Partially
Randomized Ranking of Search Engine Results
,

A Digital Pantheon with D&D character alignments

This randomly turned up while I was looking into something else and will make absolutely no sense to you unless you have played Dungeons and Dragons at some point in your life.

Digital Pantheon

Lawful Good: Steve Jobs (Apple / Pixar)

Neutral Good: Larry Page/Sergey Brin (Google)

Chaotic Good: Linus Torvalds (Linux)

Lawful Neutral: Bill Gates (Microsoft)

True Netural: Peter Norton (Norton Utilities / Antivirus)

Chaotic Neutral: Shawn Fanning (Napster)

Lawful Evil: Nobuyuki Idei (Sony)

Neutral Evil: Steve Case (AOL)

Chaotic Evil: Ruslan Ibragimov (Spammer / SoBig virus)

Original post at LiveJournal, with comments.

See also: Wikipedia entry on character alignment in role playing games.

Consumables and the decline of recording studios

Today’s Wall Street Journal (January 24, 2006) has a short profile of Paul Motian, an outstanding jazz drummer who was part of the Bill Evans Trio in the early 1960s. (If you haven’t heard of Bill Evans and have any interest in jazz piano, I highly recommend checking out their recordings).

What caught my attention, however, was this comment from Paul Motian on the decline of the recording studio business:

“A lot of recording studios are closing because people don’t use tape anymore, and that’s where the recording studios make their money. Everyone comes in with their hard drive, puts it on their computers.”

I still have a bunch of 1-inch 16-track master tapes somewhere out in the garage and remember spending a relative fortune on studio time and services, back in the 80s, probably the waning days of multitracking and overdubbing by hand on a mixing board. The Cars were wildly successful at the time and had opened a state-of-the-art studio at Synchro Sound, which was starting to use digital recording systems, but which far exceeded our band’s budget.

There’s still no substitute for good microphones, but these days digital mastering to hard disk is a big win over tape.

I’d never thought about the recording tape as being a critical profit driver for a recording studio, but in retrospect it makes some sense. When the only copy of your work is on a little strip of magnetic film shuttling back and forth on open reels, who’s going to buy cheap tape?

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