Tag Archives: Pandora

Lest I stumble

My apologies for being late with the blog today. I got lost.

After hearing how much I’d been enjoying the Pandora app on my iPhone, my son suggested something else he thought I’d like: StumbleUpon.com.

For those who have not yet stumbled on it, this service takes subscribers to Web sites, blogs and videos based on what it knows about them. Like Pandora, what StumbleUpon knows about you is based on a little info you provide up front as well as the thumbs up or thumbs down rating you give each site. And, like Pandora, it’s free.

StumbleUpon is described as a discovery engine that uses collaborative filtering and smart recommendation technology. Okay, then.

When I signed up, I provided only some general information about my topics of interest but chose not to fill out a customized profile, detailing everything from my height (5’4”) and Myers Briggs personality type (ENFJ) to my astrological sign (Sagittarius) and political leaning (anarchist; just kidding but that was an option).

I decided I’d first put in only the general information and see where it took me.

The first place the service stumbled upon was a Flickr video of a kitten riding on a turtle.

After that, it directed me to:

  • A site called “belly bites” and specifically to a post on “29 healthiest foods on the planet” (Note to self: tell the system I don’t like titles appearing in lower case letters)
  • Naturopathyworks.com, and an article on food cravings, including a chart that tells you, “If you crave this…” then “What you really need is…” and “Healthy foods that have it”
  • A Flickr recipe for Warm Toasted Marshmallow S’more Bars
  • Another Flickr recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re green and look disgusting. Thumbs down.
  • An article in The Globe and Mail:  “Thinness—and female unhappiness—is big business”
  • A Wikipedia entry on the “Neuroscience of Free Will”
  • Quotes from Albert Einstein
  • 15 Palindromes
  • True Stories Told in One Sentence. Thumbs up; I shall return to this one.

Finally, while I discern what all these hits say about me, I will leave you with the last one. I had trouble figuring out where it came from. It simply told a story:

“Girls are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. The boys don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they’re amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.”

If StumbleUpon makes me six hours late for posting my daily blog, some self discipline will be in order. Maybe Wikipedia has something on the Neuroscience of Will Power.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Food, Health, Technology and Social Media

Pandora’s gift box

According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. By some accounts, Pandora is “she who sends up gifts.”

We all know about Pandora’s box which, after some reading, I learned was actually a jar. No matter; it’s ancient mythology. But I’ve discovered a modern-day Pandora who also sends up some mighty nice gifts.

You may already know her. As a slow-to-moderate adopter of modern technology, it took me a while to get around to putting Pandora on my iPhone, but what a gift she has been. How she works just boggles my mind.

For those who aren’t familiar, Pandora Radio is an Internet music service associated with something called the Music Genome Project. Now I don’t know a lot about music and even less about genetics.

All I know is that Pandora knows what music I like or dislike and why. And it’s free.

This first got my attention when a friend described Pandora as her soul mate, which I interpreted as someone who knew her better and at a deeper, perhaps more cosmic, level than anyone. I was intrigued.

Pandora gets to know me by playing a song and asking me for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Each of my thumb votes increases Pandora’s understanding of me and my musical tastes, but at a level even I may not know.

Naturally, this understanding is based on mathematical algorithms. It’s all mathematical algorithms these days.

I like to think that, like the Human Genome, the Music Genome has a human element; thus, its genetic approach. As soon as I give a song a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, Pandora considers more than 400 different musical attributes to select the next song. These 400 attributes are combined into some 2,000 traits, including rhythm syncopation, key tonality, vocal harmonies and instrumental proficiency.

I’ve barely unwrapped Pandora’s box, having had her for only 48 hours. She hasn’t yet achieved soul mate status after such a short time, but I have faith we’ll bond. She and her Acoustic Blues selections got me through a particularly grueling time Sunday evening. This is promising.

I had hoped my husband would share my enthusiasm. Last night, as I was reading more about the application online, he walked by my office. I shouted, “Hey, did you know we can stream Pandora through the Blu-ray?” 

He just looked at me as if I had asked, “ξέρατε ότι μπορούμε να ρεύσουμε Pandora μέσω της blu-ακτίνας μας?”

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Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Technology and Social Media