[bct] Re: web page development

  • From: "Maria" <malyn87@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2005 17:22:59 -0500

Hi Jake and everyone else,
  I am replying to your message because I have been in the position of
desperately needing a job.  Also, the following article may interest others
on the list.  I went to the site mentioned below, and it specifically states
that they are looking for qualified folks to work for them.  So, I thought
of you and the rest of our group.  Read on.

Start of article:


If you love music as much as I do, then you are in for a real treat. You
might even start dancing around your home or office, grabbing dogs, cats,
family, friends, and co-workers to dance along with you once you hear about

What's "Pandora"? I will let Tonya Engst of TidBits
introduce you to it. While Tanya's comments are
directed to Mac users, Pandora is available to everyone in the United States
who have a broadband connection to the Net (which I hope includes most of

--- David Sunfellow

P.S. When Pandora becomes available internationally, I'll send out another
post so our overseas readers can take it for a spin.


By Tonya Engst
TidBITS #807/05-Dec-05


The holiday season is upon us, and if you are the resident geek in your
home, that probably means messing around with smart playlists in iTunes
to wrangle your holiday music into likely
compilations - quiet music, lively music, silly music, and so on. If you
tend to have long, uninterrupted chunks of time for setting up and
maintaining an iTunes metadata system where you keep all those fields in the
info window properly filled out, you'll probably enjoy playing music elf.
However, if the reality of your life is that you'll end up spending several
hours messing around with the Genre field while your uncle mutters about
"more trouble than it's worth," your teenage cousin complains that all your
music is boring, and your child tromps around noisily like a reindeer, you
may want to dump your plans to organize music you own and instead bring in
the experts.

The experts come in the form of a new Internet service called Pandora, based
on the former Music Genome Project, which has analyzed over 15,000 songs to
determine the characteristics that make them similar or different. Pandora
brings the guidance of an expert music librarian to the morass that music
listening has become, effortlessly streaming just the right music, Internet-
radio style, to your computer with a minimum of effort from you. As with a
normal radio station, you listen once and can optionally flag songs with a
thumbs-up so you can easily remember what you liked, but you can't keep the
tunes or listen again, though commands are provided to purchase the song
from the iTunes Music Store or its CD from Amazon. Pandora is free in
ad-sponsored mode, or a $36-per-year subscription fee eliminates the ads;
it's available only to people in the U.S. due to licensing issues.


**Opening the Box** -- Here's how it works: you come up with one (or a few)
artists or songs that you like, such as, say, Ray Charles, and you use it to
create a "station." Pandora immediately begins playing a playlist that
includes songs by Ray Charles and tunes that you will probably enjoy if you
like Ray Charles, such as "Rollin' Stone" by The Marigolds. The elegant
Flash-based interface shows the song title, artist's name, and album art. As
the song plays, besides listening to it, you can click its image to act on
it in a variety of ways: You can find out why the song is playing - you
might learn that it has "classic soul qualities, mild rhythmic syncopation,
and acoustic rhythm piano." You can give the song a thumbs up so Pandora
knows to tweak the station with more songs like that one or add it to a
Favorites list for future reference. If you dislike a song, you can give a
it a thumbs down; if you do this, Pandora moves on to the next song and
incorporates your feedback into future selections. You can also pause the
track or jump to the next one.

Although Pandora's Flash-based interface runs in Web browsers (only in
Safari and Firefox in Mac OS X 10.3 or later for Mac users), you can
minimize it so it's nearly indistinguishable from any other brushed-metal
application. Safari wasn't able to handle Pandora on our elderly blueberry
iBook, but we were able to play Pandora through our AirPort
Express-connected stereo using Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil utility. Pandora also
requires a broadband connection.


The folks at Pandora understand the desire to share music - you can send a
custom link to your radio station to others via email (the link to my Ray
Charles station is below), or you can listen to the 20 most popular stations
that other Pandora users are enjoying - I've been enjoying "International
Pop Overthrow Radio."


I do realize that not everyone reading TidBITS is interested in Christmas
music, but if you are, you can now further tweak Pandora by starting a
station with the name of a holiday song or artist. I struck out in my
efforts to follow the directions in the FAQ for combining the "holiday" key
word with an artist's name - Pandora didn't know that Ray Charles or Henry
Mancini have released wonderful Christmas albums - but it worked like a
charm when I started a station based on "Jingle Bells." I was asked which of
seven artists I liked the most - The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Ella
Fitzgerald, Brenda Lee, and so on, and the station kicked off with
"Christmas Island," a fun number involving coconut trees, which I'd never
heard. So perhaps I had opened Pandora's box, after all, and suddenly iTunes
didn't seem as much fun anymore. Instead of the usual fussing around to find
the music in my library, it took only about 10 seconds to be treated to
exactly the sort of music I wanted to hear. And since it's Christmas music,
I don't even particularly want to own most of it; I enjoy it only for a few
weeks of the year.

**High and Low Notes** -- If your iTunes library is anything like mine, it
holds about 5,000 items which would require many hours of focused effort -
effort which I must coordinate with Adam - to categorize effectively so I
could generate smart playlists for any likely eventuality, and every time I
buy more music, we would have to spend more time on the metadata. In
Pandora, I can create up to 100 stations, which feed from a growing library
that currently contains over 300,000 songs from over 10,000 artists.
Although I find owning and organizing music an appealing idea, it doesn't
seem to be in harmony with my current stage in life, where time is at a

Although I like Pandora a lot, it's not perfect. It currently lacks
classical music and is working on bringing in Latin music, and I'm not
enough of a musical expert to know if it is missing other important genres.
I would love to see it allow users to request songs by cultures or by all
sorts of possible holidays, and to request radio streams by mood or era,
such as inspiring, loud, or 1980s. And, using Pandora makes me think about
how limited the Gracenote Media Recognition Service (previously known as the
CDDB) is for importing a common set of useful metadata into iTunes and how
wonderful it would be if Apple could bring Pandora's smarts into iTunes.


For now, though, I'm happy to listen to Pandora while my enormous pile of
uncategorized iTunes music sits around, waiting for a day when someone comes
up with a way to categorize it automatically or I wake up with a burning
desire to mess around with metadata. In the meantime, though, I know a
particular six-year-old who is waiting for his mother to play reindeer with

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jake Joehl" <jajoehl@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2005 1:33 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: web page development

> Hi Lynnette. I for one would really like to get a feel for how web pages
> developed. After all, adaptive tech is and has been one of my strong
> and this is probably my chosen field of work. I do believe I'd be quite
> at it too. I know this list isn't meant necessarily for job leads and the
> like, but I need some and desperately. I don't want to get into a rant
> my VR experience, but basically what has happened is that they have
> me without even any type of closure whatsoever. They did not even attempt
> look for any programs that would be good for me. I think the Access
> Technology Institute might be one option. I suppose to some this may sound
> somewhat familiar. But anyway, I will start with looking at the web page
> mentioned on here a few messages earlier and see if I can break any
> That is what's so great about the information superhighway.
> Jake
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Lynnette" <lynnette_tatum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Thursday, 08 December, 2005 12:09 PM
> Subject: [bct] Re: web page development
> >I think most developers who are blind would agree with you, Dan.  The one
> > totally blind person I know who's using it is only doing so to edit
> > (in a minimum way) on her job.
> > Lynnette
> >
> > ----- Original Message ----- 
> > From: "The Scarlet Wombat" <coconut@xxxxxxx>
> > To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2005 12:53 PM
> > Subject: [bct] Re: web page development
> >
> >
> >> I dislike Front Page, finding that it produces really messy html code
> >> that
> >> is difficult to edit, and you will always need to edit it at one time
> >> other.  Dreamweaver is nice and reasonably accessible if you can afford
> > it.
> >>
> >> However, for a simple web page, learning to hand code html is not a
> >> stretch and you have total control over the final product.
> >>
> >> Dan
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
> >
> >

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