Monday, April 19, 2010

INTERVIEW: Hamin Mousavi of Radiour talks Crowdsourcing Radio

Radiour came across my inbox a couple weeks ago where I quickly learned that it is based on the collaboration model which I've blogged about before (check out my interview's with Nekkid Radio and Error.FM). Always a fan of the crowd sourced model, my curiosity remains piqued.

Its name is a play on "Our Radio" and if you tune in, you will hear everything from techno to old men yodeling. In the short time I've been listening, I've heard everything from hard dance techno, to death metal, to folk covers, to negativland-esque mashups. It's a bit more hit-or-miss than Error or Nekkid, but occasionally the station finds that elusive groove of being surprising and familiar all at the same time. It's a great station to broaden your horizons, without being overly challenging.

But there's more to Radiour than its stream. It allows you to log in with Facebook and Twitter, and aims to be a place where new artists can get their music heard. I hope to find out more from Hamin Mousavi who has graciously agreed to this TUN3R interview.

Q1 Neil: Thanks so much Hamin for taking part in this interview! How long has Radiour been around for? How was the idea of the station conceived, and what's your role?

A1 Hamin: Radiour started in the summer of 2008 and has been in a closed beta until February 3:rd, 2010. So we're quite new, haha. The idea for Radiour was conceived by Karl Baron, the programmer. I just convinced him to do something with it!

I myself do anything that isn't programming; from bug-testing to icon design, support to translation.

Q2 Neil: Does Radiour have a geographic home base? Where do it's DJs hail from?

A2 Hamin: The awesome thing about Radiour is that it is made for everyone, everywhere. Our DJs are the people who add songs to the playlist, so we're probably the most democratic radio station on the planet. Most of our users are from europe and america, but we also have some asian users, mostly from japan.

Q3: Do you see Radiour primarily as radio station for people like myself to listen to. Or rather as a different kind of social hub on the net?

A3 Hamin: I'd like to think of Radiour as a place for everyone that are looking for something new and different to listen to. It is more than a radio, but it doesn't have to be if you don't want it to. You can just listen to the stream like with any radio station while others might like to vote and comment on the tracks played. Some even upload their own music, create mixtapes and spread them on twitter and facebook.

You can also as a user change pretty much anything, from the album art to the tags on the different tracks. It's a lot of fun to see what other people like and follow. We've noticed for example that listeners look at what others are adding and then search for similar tracks to add to the playlist. Small themes like these are constantly born just by having our users roam free.

Q4: You have mentioned that Radiour is a great place for new artists to spread their music. What does an artist need to do to get their music heard on your station? Can you give any examples of new artists on Radiour?

A4 Hamin: All you have to do is register yourself, upload your music and then add the songs to the playlist. It should take under 5 minutes, especially if you log in with a twitter or facebook account! You are then connected with your Radiour account to the social networks you already use and can easily keep your fans updated about new tracks.

Johan Sveide and Dj Downlow are a couple of pretty sweet artists, but check out the music search for more. Browse by genre and find something that suits your taste.

Q5 Neil: Hamin, how do you see Internet radio evolving over the coming years? Do you see things consolidating around a few big companies like Apple and CBS, or do you think the independent DJ has a future?

A5 Hamin: The big actors on the market with the big money will probably have the big artists. But there are musicians out there that produce music as a hobby or just don't want to be part of the system. And they certainly have a future, especially now when marketing yourself online is so easy!

We at Radiour are focusing a lot on these kind of artists that want to get the word out about their music. We've for example been working together with an indie music association in sweden to make sure that the functions of Radiour fit their needs.

Q6 Neil: What are your own musical tastes? What do you normally spin on Radiour?

A6 Hamin: I really like death metal with the gothenburg sound but also glitch and japanese electropop. Speaking of japan, I love the recent boom of indie artists that uses voice synthesizers for their main vocals. I usually add what I like so you'll hear a lot of metal/electropop if you listen in when I'm around.

Q7 Neil: If Radiour had its own theme song, what would it be?

A7 Hamin: 20 seconds of something that begins as chaos but ends up as a pleasant melody. That's how I envision our listeners experience on Radiour anyway!

Q8 Neil: What's planned for Radiour's future?

A8 Hamin: Other than working on the webpage? Well, we're right now trying to get Radiour into your phones so you'll be able to listen to the station on the go but still have all of the functionality of the web-version. There is still a lot left to do so I can't really say more than.

We'll keep you updated so check out our facebook or twitter page if you have more questions and want to ask us stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Things about the iPad you may not realize

Just yesterday I had the chance to play with the new iPad device. I must thank Peter (the big brain behind TUN3R and Milk Crater) who drove down to Buffalo to get one on Saturday.

So does the iPad live up to the hype? Well, there's no point in answering that question. Everyone who has an iPhone or iPod Touch probably has a preconceived notion of what it's like. Anyone who doesn't have an iPhone or iPod Touch either is unaware of how great it is, or is a contrarian. Plus, everyone who's curious already understands the major capabilities of the iPad and what it can generally do. So, instead of running down that boring stuff, I'll point out the little things that I wasn't expecting:

First off, the weight and dimensions of the iPad were pretty much in line with what I assumed it would look and feel like. It very much is a giant iPhone, but there are some minor departures. For example, the home button at the bottom has a crisper feel to it than on the iPhone. Very subtle, but definitely noticeable. It's a reminder that Apple really takes "meatspace" seriously.

The device also feels more natural oriented in landscape than in portrait, which is opposite to how I prefer to use my iPhone. What's neat is that you can switch between landscape and portrait while on the desktop. Compare this to the iPhone which forces the desktop to always be in portrait mode. Another neat feature is that you can lock your current orientation, which is something I wish I could do on the iPhone.

I'm impressed with the sound quality. It's not a big speaker, but for such a small device it's got surprisingly good fidelity even at high volume. Once I get my own iPad, I'll definitely be using it to listen to Internet Radio (through TUN3R of course) in the kitchen while cleaning up after dinner, or over breakfast in the morning.

The keyboard continues to be a weak spot for Apple. While it is fairly large (and a huge improvement over the iPhone keyboard), I felt I couldn't touch type with it and eventually found hunting-and-pecking to be more natural. Furthermore, because the device has a rounded backside, it doesn't sit flat on a table, making it somewhat awkward as a typewriter. It's perfectly fine for plugging search queries into Google, but until I can touch type, I can't see myself doing much writing on it. Although I could see it as being useful for working with spreadsheets (if Microsoft ever decides to release Excel. OpenOffice: This is your chance!).

The iBook application is one of the biggies. Everyone says that Kindle is the killer app, and that people will use that instead of iBook. Well, I just hope the Kindle App is as good as iBook, cause iBook is very very cool. I had no problems reading off the backlit screen, and enjoyed seeing the colour illustrations in Winnie the Pooh. My dad has a Kindle, and I'll say that the Kindle is a bit smaller and lighter, and might be better for novels. But as a general purpose reading device, it's hard to see how you could make something better than the iPad/iBook (except by making it lighter and thinner). I especially like how you can play with the pages themselves. Once again, it's a wink and a nod to the pleasures of meatspace. Sure it'll never be as good as real pulp, but for fidgety guy like me it's not bad.

As you may already know, the iPad can run pretty much every iPhone App. That said, in my experience, these types of emulators are usually inferior to running the app on their intended platform. Not so with the iPad. The Apps are zippier and look better than on the iPhone. Seriously. I was most impressed with the mode that blows the App up to the full size of the iPad. Yes, it doesn't look as good as a native iPad App, but it does look surprisingly crisp.

As a specific example, we loaded up Milk Crater, and lo and behold it actually runs much better than on the iPhone 3GS. Keep in mind that Milk Crater is pegged to the CPU, so on the iPad you can really fly through your music collection like nobody's business. I know I'm biased, but Milk Crater freakin' rocks on this thing!

As soon as I get the chance (and an extra $500) - I'm treating myself to one of these puppies.