Export Rdio playlists to Spotify

It's been a hectic week for Rdio fans. Even though the shutdown is imminent, there's no official way to get your favourites or playlists off the service. Obviously, you're not taking the songs, but the information. I get that there's no legal reason for us to have that information, but that's largely the part of Rdio that feels like it belongs to me. I chose those favourites. I made those playlists. That's work I did. 

Thankfully, a few third-party developers have stepped up and made some decent solutions. My favourite so far is Playlist Exchange, which is about as simple as it could get (no excel file downloads required!). Sign into Rdio, then sign into Spotify, and chose playlists one-by-one to move over. Even if you're not a Spotify user, I'd recommend moving your information there, if only because Spotify will still exist after 2015. 




Amazon launches a screenplay writing app

Cloud-only but with an offline mode, only available in Chrome. So far, neat but confusing. Where it becomes somewhat clear is what you do after your screenplay is done: with one click, it submits to Amazon Studios for consideration. 

My only question is, how poorly formatted were the scripts being sent to Amazon that they needed to build an app?  



Pugilism and Gawker

Seth Godin:

The fighter fights when she has to, when she's cornered, when someone or something she truly believes in is threatened. It's urgent and it's personal.

The pugilist, on the other hand, skirmishes for fun. The pugilist has a hobby, and the hobby is being oppositional.

I've been a reader of Gawker media for many years. I often don't like what I read, and much of it can be unnecessarily confrontational for the sake of, as Godin says here, "the hobby [of] being oppositional." It can be tiring. It can be stupid. And it can be useless. 

But every now and then, they nail it, and I'm reminded about the importance of having a pugilist around. Hamilton Nolan writes:

Some will say it is rude to point out that many of our leaders are, in fact, stupid hicks. I say it is ruder to block a war refugee from coming to your unattractive state due to the fact that you, personally, are dumb.

Language is more powerful when boiled down to simple, pure statements. America isn't "inundated with right-wing delusions," or anything so proper. There's too many dumb hicks. Simple. Direct. Inspired. 

Don’t they know that the biggest terrorist force in the history of America has in fact been dumbass hicks? There were 4,000 documented lynchings in this country between the end of Reconstruction and 1950. Who carried them out? Dumbass hicks. The Ku Klux Klan, which has been around for 150 years, is the single most persistent violent terrorist group in America. Its members? Exclusively dumbass hicks (100%). The US Civil War, which killed 620,000 was launched by—you guessed it—dumb hicks.

Read the whole thing. It's Gawker at its pugilistic best. 



Darth Vader, political candidate in Ukraine

From Vice, of course:

My sources in Ukraine agree with the latter notion. "The Internet Party was set up to discredit the electoral process," said political analyst Olexandr Paliy, adding that he believed the party—which, by his estimate, spent millions of dollars on advertising and Star Wars paraphernalia—was set up by oligarchs in an attempt to make the government look weak. "It's entirely too expensive to just be a joke," Paliey said.

There are worse ways to point out that an election process has become totally corrupted. Who do you believe? The undoubtedly corrupt public officials, or Darth freakin' Vader? 

We promised money for votes, and people signed up. We had a list—when people voted for Darth Vader, they took a picture of the ballot with their phone, sent it our way, and we paid them. We bought about 18,000 votes in Odessa, but the final number of popular votes was around 7,000. We wanted to see if the election office would be honest, but they lied. We have 18,000 votes, confirmed. The government is to blame; the government doesn't allow us to get our earned votes.

I mean, this is all fun and games. There's no way he could win, right? It's not like there's already an Emperor Palpatine on the Odessa City Council or anything

The PR campaign for Star Wars: The Force Awakens saw an unexpected and unintended boost this week after a candidate known as Emperor Palpatine won a seat during a Ukraine city council election.

Okay. Well, at least the Emperor isn't funding Darth Vader's campaign:

In all seriousness, we got money from Emperor Palpatine, who won a seat on Odessa's city council. We hope that, with his help, more and more will see things our way. Soon enough, the whole city council will join the dark side.

Oh my god. 




Goodbye, Rdio

The announcement on Rdio's blog:

We couldn’t be more proud of the entire Rdio team and the product we have built. We’re honored to have connected so many listeners around the world with the music they love. We thank you for your continued support over the years and look forward to bringing you even better music experiences in the future as part of the Pandora team.

Eriq Gardner, for The Hollywood Reporter, on how bad it got:

By late 2014, Rdio had hired Moelis & Company, an investment bank, in an attempt to raise new equity capital, but ultimately realized it wouldn't be possible. Rdio also reports looking for a buyer or merger partner, and ultimately decided that Pandora was making the best offer —  $75 million for tech assets, but one that was contingent on a Chapter 11 filing, an auction process where overbids might result and eventually court approval.

Christina Warren, for Mashable, on why nobody should be surprised:

Rdio's ending shouldn't be a surprise to anyone watching the company. The company has shed executives en masse in the last year. The attempts at reinvention have largely failed. And the competition is no longer just Spotify, but Apple and Google.

It's a shame that Rdio is going to die. It was a genuinely good service.


Casey Newton, for The Verge, on why people loved Rdio:

Ultimately, it is not a game Rdio was ever built to win. The people who made it focused to a fault on making something beautiful, something that celebrated the music they love. Sigurdsson “wanted to build a music service that was social at its core but was also beautiful,” Becherer says “There was a real focus on that.” Mary van Ogtrop, a copywriter for Rdio, says there will be no replacing the service’s attention to detail. “Rdio taught me to slow down, let it marinate, and make my final decision the right one,” she says.

Miner jokes the design was aimed at “snobby album purists.” Among its subscribers were a small legion of user interface and user experience designers — one reason you see little touches of Rdio everywhere you look. It’s there in the blurred album art that you now see in the background of other streaming music services. It’s there in the translucent panes and gradients that Apple introduced with iOS 7. It’s there in the redesigned app for Pandora, the company that ultimately acquired it. 

Nathan Ingraham, for Engadget, on the greatest thing about Rdio:

I never really cared what music was trending among people I've never met. Instead, Rdio was smart enough to show me what was trending among the people that I cared about. At the end of the day, its apps simply were much nicer to look at and much easier to understand. Even now that I know basically all the streaming services inside and out, I'm struck just by how minimalist Rdio is -- the simple apps still manage to contain a bevy of features in a logical way.

Robinson Meyer, for The Atlantic, on losing a great space:

Rdio was a Spotify competitor, but unlike that service, it felt like it was built for people who liked digital music as digital music. Its metadata was often high quality. Like iTunes of yore, it organized its songs as much by album as by artist or genre. You could even sort and search songs by record label, something no other streaming service has implemented well. (Maybe that's why record labels seemed to enjoy it: For years, some unknown toiler at Smithsonian Folkways put out short, seasonal playlists that sampled from that company’s encyclopedic collection.)

At its best, Rdio had perhaps the kindest community in online music. People left comments on albums, and, lo and behold, the writing was good and interesting. Strangers constructed playlists that pulled from artists and albums you’d never heard of, but without the performative high/low-ness that afflicts so much online music talk.

Sorry guys. This one's actually on me



The Sawyer Curse strikes again

My whole life, I've been cursed with either buying the wrong tech product or buying the right one and seeing it whither and die in the market. Sometimes the curse hits because of just truly baffling decision-making. Sometimes I go for what I think the best product is, and the curse decides it needs to die. The curse doesn't care. 

1990: My dad buys a TurboGrafx 16, a very cool but extremely unpopular gaming machine, more or less creating the curse. It was hooked up to my dad's TV until about 2003. 

1995: Because I didn't read video game news at all, I ask for a Super Nintendo for Christmas. It gets discontinued months later. 

1999: I sell my Sony Playstation to buy a Sega Dreamcast. Much like the TurboGrafx, The Dreamcast was a very cool machine that about 9 people bought. It more or less killed Sega as people know it.

2001: I buy a Sony MiniDisc player. It flops against the iPod, and it signals the end of Sony as a portable hardware powerhouse.

2006: I buy my first Mac, an iBook. The Macbook comes out within a few months.

2008: I buy a black Macbook two months before the aluminum Macbook debuts.

2009: I get my first of three Sony Readers. The PRS-300 outlives the next two, since it is made of some ungodly combination of indestructible metals. Sony would get mauled in the ereader market and bow out officially in 2014. 

2009: I buy my first smartphone, a Palm Pre. Palm sells for scraps about a year later. 

2009: I think the 3rd-gen iPod Shuffle, the one without any buttons at all, is amazing. I still do. Apple replaces it with the previous models' design, the only time the company's ever done a pure about-face. It's biggest problem was the reason I lost it: It was so small it literally just disappeared one day. 

2009: To replace the iPod Shuffle, I buy a Zune HD. It was a massive failure and the last non-iPod player to actually try to do anything interesting. I used it almost every day until this summer. 

2010: I buy my first of four Windows Phones. My Lumia 1020 is still my daily camera and phone, but I use a 2015 iPod Touch for media and apps.

2012: I sell off my Mac Mini and iPad and buy a Windows 8 laptop. I don't regret this and it worked out fine for me, but Windows 8 was a huge flop. 

2013: I buy a Wii U, Nintendo's least successful home console to date. It survives purely on Nintendo games. Nintendo is in the midst of figuring out how to make some money off the iPhone?

2011-15: I start using Rdio. I fall in love with the service and use it for hours every single day. Over the years, I try other services like Spotify, Xbox Music, and others, and I keep coming back. It's just better than everything else. Rdio is filing for bankruptcy and shutting down within a few weeks.



The Madden Curse strikes again

Encyclopedia Gamia

The Madden Curse, also known as the Madden Cover Jinx, is a conjecture involving the video game series Madden NFL, stating that the season a player appears on the cover, that player will be cursed with either an injury or poor performance.

EA Sports, November 13

EA Sports has unveiled Ronda Rousey as the global cover athlete for...UFC 2.

ESPN, November 14

Former world boxing champion Holly Holm (10-0) scored the biggest upset in the sport's history Sunday, knocking out Rousey (12-1) with a left head kick in the second round to claim the bantamweight championship fight at UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium.

If you click on the first link, you'll see a list of athletes who have fallen under this curse. Most of them have a bad injury, or an unimpressive season. But none of them lost in grandiose fashion 24 hours after the EA announcement. 




Everybody's cheating

In response to the major allegations of doping Olympic athletes, the former editor of Russian Esquire (what a magazine that's got to be), had this to add: 

“We are in a kind of competition, not to say a war with the West,” said Mr. Babitsky, explaining the general reaction, not endorsing it. “Everybody knows that everybody cheats, and if we were caught red-handed, it just means that they cheat better than we do.”

I don't think cheating is good, but I do think cheating is interesting (though my reaction to hearing about cheating is often exactly like this). It's one of the reasons I think pro wrestling is interesting: it's the only fiction where cheating happens approximately every five minutes. 



You know that app is fake, right?

I heard about the "Tinder but for fighting" app from three people who all prefaced their tale with an "apparently." I've got a new rule. Whenever anyone starts a sentence with "apparently," in real life or in an article, I'm going to assume they don't know anything. You might as well say, "I've done zero research on this, but..."

Anyways, apparently it was a marketing ploy all along:

Yesterday much of the online media was duped into writing about Rumblr, an app that described itself as the place “for recreational fighters to find, meet and fight other brawl enthusiasts nearby.” There was even a mock-up of the app and a promise that it was “coming soon” to the Apple Store.

It was all a hoax. 

Someone should make an app like this just to catfish men's rights activists with promises of fights as if they were pieces of candy to James Woods, then when they're underneath the trap box, pull the string. Send them to that "top men" facility and then we can all move on.



You should all be using your own cup at Starbucks anyway

John Brownlee:

“Critics can say that Christmas is about Christ, but let’s face facts. For a huge portion of Americans, Christmas is an an excuse to slather everything in their lives with the tawdry, glittering gimcrack they not-so-secretly want to buy year round. No wonder they’re pissed. In a very real way, Starbucks just cockblocked their rampaging holiday ids.”

Everyone on every side of this argument is smug. Oh, look at how offended I am that a corporation who has no business caring about my religion decided to ignore my religion. Oh look at me, being totally fine with a faceless brand's decision to make a stance against gaudy Christmas designs. Oh, look at me, linking to a story on my blog nobody reads. LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAA, everybody. 



Joel Hodgson wants to bring back MST3K

This Kickstarter is pretty much the most "relevant to my interests" thing that's ever appeared on the internet. If you know me at all, you know how into not just this show I am, but the entire philosophy behind it. Everything is up for riffing. Nothing is precious. Nothing is better than making fun of the world with your friends.

And I don't think there's a small audience here. MST3K touches a very rare nerve in people that almost nothing else has. It makes me really happy how quickly that ticker is rising.



Seth Rollins' first interview since the injury

Seth Rollins, speaking about fan reception since getting hurt:

Well, you know, for someone who is as universally despised as I am, I was pretty overwhelmed with the amount of love that I received from all of the fans in the WWE Universe. All of the well-wishes and, just in general, all the concern that everyone had for me as a person and as a performer. So yeah, it’s very interesting to see how quickly people’s minds can change when it comes to something like that — it says a lot about the human condition.

It's almost as if the fans know he's performing a role, and want him to know that they appreciate him in it, as well as how much of a hole he's left. It's almost as if we love our villains as much as our heroes, because it's all one troupe. It's almost as if we get it



Good Writing Doesn't Scale

Carles Buzz:

“Niche blogging doesn’t work anymore. Neither does reporting or longform. A strong point of view and eloquent pieces aren’t scalable. The bots and longtail internet users who drive pageviews these days don’t care about expertise, passion, or even perfectly assembled words. Your unique point of view won’t be discovered and you won’t be paid above market content farm wages.”

I've never worked at a content farm site, though I've had a few offers and actually tried a few times. It always ended up the same way. I'd send in my first piece, and they'd reject it. They would say it contained too much personal perspective. I never understood this. I wasn't writing for the New York Times, I was writing for a blog that contacted me based on my writing, which, I can assure you, was full of "personality."

Personal writing is what made Grantland good-looking by the way. Not that anyone with power in this situation cares.



Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat

Dave Sheinin and Will Hobson on Russian athletes participating in systemic, state-sanctioned doping:

“The report found a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russia’s track and field program and “documented cases where athletes who did not want to participate in ‘the program’ were informed they would not be considered as part of the federation’s national team for competition.”

I grew up on pro wrestling alongside real sports, so whenever I heard about athletes cheating, I just thought "well, yeah, of course." I didn't think it was actually like a bad thing with cultural consequences. 

But fuck, how awful would it be to be all ready to be a star in the Olympics, ready to compete for your nation's glory, and someone from your government says, "screw ethics. Stick this in your butt." 



Our country's grandma is cooler than your country's grandma

Ian Austen:

 “Prompted by one of her manic periods, Mrs. Trudeau decided to live part of the time in New York and develop a career in photography. Following what became an infamous trip to Toronto to party with the Rolling Stones, she left Canada to study with Richard Avedon.”

Everyone I know absolutely adores her. I don't know why, but I never did my national due diligence and looked up a proper profile, but this one is as good as any. In my mind, she was always "cool" and "maybe too cool for Canada," and both are correct.



Sheamus vs The Void

I'm not sure what's stranger: the fact that there's a Twitter account called @wwevacant, which operates a personified entity with an earnest confidence that comes from being technically the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, or that Sheamus—an actual person that exists and holds a technical number-one contendership—has openly challenged it.

Pro wrestling, everybody.




SEFCITRE just didn't have the same ring


Dan Duray, unpacking the eponymous organization from the new Bond flick : 

“The concept is vaguely logical, but even as an acronym, SPECTRE only barely makes sense—the letters stand for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. The SP comes from "SPecial," but then we drop the I from "counter-intelligence" for some reason, and not to nitpick, but Revenge isn't something an organization usually concerns itself with.”

That just reminds me of Homer becoming a Big Brother for revenge



Experimentation in pro wrestling platforms

Three exciting pieces of wrestling news today, all three from With Leather (literally the only wrestling website that hasn't been the absolute goddamned worst this month), all three containing a new spin on the pro wrestling formula. 

Fox is developing a soap opera, former promoter Jerry Jarrett might make a Tough Enough-style reality show, and Bill Simmons is producing a profile documentary on Andre the Giant.

First, the profile. This isn't a new take so much as a new audience. HBO has, up until this news, had no interest in wrestling. But perhaps they've just been missing the right pitch. Simmons may be pro wrestling's best third-party advocate right now. As for André as the subject matter, they have massive shoes to fill (pun quota, fulfilled). Box Brown's graphic novel on André is a beloved artifact. But I'm glad it's happening. WWE is already adapting their tired documentary style since ESPN's 30 for 30 on nXt aired (Breaking Ground is all but a rip off, but a welcome one). Hopefully that influence continues.

Jerry Jarrett might have a good influence in talent competition shows, but WWE has already done this twice with the last two seasons of Tough Enough, and it stank. But what if Jerry actually went full Dancing With The Stars with it and actually showed rookies learning how to craft a match, get a crowd interested, build tension and drama, and be entirely safe and careful while doing it? What if it was actually a show about people learning the craft? Wrestling matches are about emotional catharsis without the real violence of sports or war. Tough Enough was a show about watching rookies try moonsaults.

Finally, the most interesting one: a Fox-produced soap. This is something I'll be paying very close attention to. For years, I've been hoping someone would make a show about wrestling that wasn't a wrestling show. I want a 30 Rock set in the backstage of a WWE show. I want a slow AMC drama about the NWA in the 50s and 60s. I want a tearjerker about Velvet Sky and her kid. A soap opera is a high drama format that has never truly utilized a high drama subject (unless there's a soap about the Circus or figure skating I don't know about, and if those exist please tell me immediately). It could be wonderful, or wonderfully bad, which is exactly the same thing.



Gender bias in book reviews

Margaret Atwood: 

"She writes like a man.” This is usually used by a male reviewer who is impressed in some way by a female writer he is reviewing; it is meant as a compliment."

There's lots of chewy insights here, but I think this quote captures the situation best. "What?" The man balks. "This is me being nice! This is nice me!"