How Music Affects Your Productivity

I had already come to many of the same conclusions after working in a busy, open office for years but this article sums up a lot about how useful listening to music can be regarding productivity.

I bought the Denon AH-D600 headphones a year or so back and they remain one of the best investments I’ve made as not only does music sound great (particularly base-driven content), but they double-up as an effective headset when I need to Skype colleagues to discuss work-related tasks.

Via Simon Cobb.

Chromecast – a household hit

Ok; I was skeptical about the Google Chromecast. When it was released in the states I didn’t immediately bite (despite it being cheap enough to import). I’m mainly an iOS user (and fan) and so I wasn’t sure I’d get enough use out of a wifi HDMI dongle that presumably might see most support on Android.

But I was kinda wrong.

The device doesn’t really do anything I couldn’t already achieve through other means, be it wired connections or whatever. But there’s a certain cool factor to being able to control what’s on your television with your smart device and my kids have seemingly bought into it big time. I found it hard to wrestle my iPhone away from my youngest today once she got used to loading up various childrens content from BBC iPlayer and when she did give me my phone back it was to swap for the Google Nexus 7 that offered the same functionality of controlling her content from the sofa.

My eldest also found it very cool and it prompted her to download a few apps to her Moto G to take proper advantage of the device.

As for me? I tried casting some sports from Google Chrome via the BT Sport website last night (after installing the Google Cast extension) but found the sound cut out from the transmission. Maybe it’s a Microsoft Silverlight issue as I found various Adobe Flash content streamed just fine (BBC News, YouTube, etc). I read that when casting from the Chrome browser to use the lower bitrate 720p setting but I found the highest 720p setting worked just fine; there was no difference between the slightly jerky frame rate I was viewing on the television (but obviously the picture quality looked a little better).

Overall, I think the device is worth buying and I really hope developers adopt it wholeheartedly. I’m very tempted to go do some tinkering with it myself… 🙂

A Few Notes of Elton John in Mega Man 2’s Soundtrack

Mega Man 2 was/is one of my favorite games of all time. The gameplay, graphics, music…oh, the music! So it turns out that a lot of the music might’ve been possibly inspired from elsewhere allegedly. Doesn’t matter to me one bit however; the game’s still near absolute perfect.

Worth checking out the comments on the Kotaku post for further examples…

Macs, GarageBand ’09 and Casio keyboards

We’ve an underused Casio LK-93TV at home and the announcement of GarageBand ’09 (as part of iLife ’09) got me pretty interested as there seems to be music tutorial features in the package. Connecting the Casio keyboard to GarageBand ’08 didn’t seem to work however, which then prompted me to do a search and I found out Casio don’t make Mac drivers for their keyboards (supposedly).

I then found a link to a MIDI driver here which enabled GarageBand ’08 to recognised the USB-connected Casio and now everything’s working fine. Thanks a lot to ferland francois for taking the trouble of coding a solution!

Beatmaker for the iPhone

iPhone apps continue to evolve. I recently stumbled upon Beatmaker, a music creation tool on sale through the Apple store. It’s a bit more expensive than the other apps (around £12 I think) and doesn’t have midi support yet, but the demos I’ve seen so far have been extremely impressive.

Considering there’s a solid business model in place for developers with the app store, I can’t wait to see what others develop in the coming weeks and months. The iPhone really is a portable computer; not just a smartphone, and I think that’ll become increasingly evident as time goes on.