You can only hear this album if you hack it

Band takes unique approach to debuting music

Hey guys! I just came out with a new album, but you can’t hear it unless you’re able to hack the wall it’s hidden behind.

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Yes, that seems to be the marketing approach behind promoting the new album from Netcat, a Seattle-based electronic band. You see, the group’s latest drop, entitled “Cycles Per Instruction”, was released on Github, but only to those who are able to “hack” its contents; that is, in order to hear their newest songs, listeners need to have a working knowledge of the Linux operating system.

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Why the focus on computer software? Well, the band actually uses a fairly technical setup for their music, including 8 to 10 laptops, an instrumented WiFi network, statistical language models, speech synthesis software, and a synth-based on computer vision algorithms. To make sure the level of complication associated with their music carried over to the release of their latest album, the band decided to use a loadable kernel module for the Linux operating system. The alternative was a custom hardware schematic, but their love of software point them back to something less physical.

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All of this is no surprise when you consider the gents that make up the band: Brand Lucia is a research with a PhD in computer science, David Balatero is a computer programmer, and Andrew Olmstead is an engineer . . . in the aerospace industry. They all agree that in making the music harder to access, their listeners would appreciate what they’re listening to a bit more.

After a few days, though, the band did also make the album available on Bandcamp, hack-free. You can access it there, but for those looking for a bit of a challenge, you can install the kernel module from Github here.

Best apps for listening to online radio

There are a ton of online radio stations out there – here’s the best of the rest

Do a quick google search of the keyword term “online radio” and in about a half second’s time, you’ll get 836,000,000 results.

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The reason there’s so much out there is because of the proliferation of web-capable gadgetry in recent years that allow listeners to stream music wherever they are. Whether it’s a talk show or podcast, live stream of a sporting event or a station devoted to a specific musical genre, there’s an online radio station that suits your need.

The following are a handful of what we consider the best of the rest, and what makes them different from all the others.

They’re listed in no particular order.

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Too much? Program keeps tweeting after person dies

Experimental program tweets on behalf of the dead

Dead Twitter bird

Created by London-based digital agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine, LivesOn is an experimental program that is ridiculously morbid in its point and purpose — it continues to tweet on behalf of a Twitter user even after the person has passed away.

No, Machine doesn’t employee a staff of “ghost writers” (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Instead, they incorporate an artificial intelligence-based program that learns from a user’s Twitter feed to pick up on tone, likes, and whatnot, so that the account can continue tweeting and re-tweeting as the Twitter user would, well, if they were still alive.

It’s all summed up rather succinctly in the service’s tagline:

“When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting. Welcome to your social afterlife.”

Liveson tagline

^Just in case you thought we were making that up.^

The program is still in development, but the group plans on beginning tests in March to see how the AI ghost Twitter user does. The dark tone that a program like this strikes is not lost on Machine creative partner Dave Bedwood, who says, “It offends some, and delights others. Imagine if people started to see it as a legitimate but small way to live on. Cryogenics costs a fortune; this is free and I’d bet it will work better than a frozen head.”

Better than a frozen head — can’t really argue that now can we?

Nine-year-old has computer confiscated, father forced to pay fine because girl illegally downloaded music online

Many up in arms about severity of punishment instituted by Finnish police

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In case you’re not up to date on your Finnish news stories, here’s a head-scratcher for you: accused of illicit file-sharing earlier in the year, a man received a letter from anti-piracy group CIAPC that said they tracked his account to the illegal sharing of a music album by local artist Chisu.

Finnish musician Chisu

To stop there being a case made of this issue, he was told to pay 600 euros and sign a non-disclosure document. The man refused to pay, and that’s when shit got real.

CIAPC showed up at the man’s door and upon discovering it was not he but rather his nine year-old daughter who was responsible for the illegal activity, confiscated her Winnie the Pooh laptop.

Winnie the Pooh laptop

According to the father, the whole situation was very Mafia-like, with CIAPC demanding the money be paid, before deciding to instead take the girl’s laptop instead.

News of this situation got out and naturally, there was plenty of outrage. Even the musician whose music was illegally downloaded, Chisu, got involved, saying it was ridiculous that CIAPC had taken things this far.

Despite the outcry, CIAPC held on to the laptop and continued to negotiate with the father about paying a fine for the illegal activity. It wasn’t until this past week that things were finally fixed, with the father agreeing to pay a cash settlement of 300 euros, or half CIAPC’s original demand. In return, CIAPC withdrew their request for a pre-trial investigation, and the file against the girl was closed.

Still missing, though — the girl’s laptop, which the CIAPC say they will return to the girl soon, though no date has been confirmed.

The lesson here: if you illegally download music to listen to on your amazingly loud, totally portable speaker, don’t download files from Finland because the CIAPC take their job wayyy too seriously :-/