Spotify comes to the US

Shawn Blanc‘s initial impressions on Spotify, and the differences between this (new to the US) streaming music service and other competitors like Rdio.  All positive, it seems.

My Thoughts

Personally, I’m giving the premium plan a go for a month ($9.99/mo for unlimited music streaming to both desktop and mobile, with offline saving of songs). So far, I’m thrilled.  Think of it like the iTunes store without the purchasing option, and instead of hearing 90 second previews of songs you get the whole thing.  Granted, Spotify’s streaming library isn’t quite up to snuff with iTunes’s, but I’m definitely satisfied so far.

The part I’m most excited about is the social aspect of the service — sharing new music is something that I’ve always done with friends, but it seems to be becoming harder and harder to do so as our music libraries are getting split between devices.  Spotify’s features like collaborative playlists and public music profiles will (hopefully) help me both share music with friends and find out what they’re listening to. And, no need to find out their usernames — Spotify uses Facebook Connect to give you access to your ‘friends’.  Sharing music with them is as simple as dragging and dropping a song onto their name, sending the music to their Inbox of tunes.  I dig it.

Light Field Cameras by Lytro

Via Lytro:

How does a light field camera capture the light rays?

Recording light fields requires an innovative, entirely new kind of sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.

The premise is simple: instead of capturing red, green and blue color values and compositing them into a static image like traditional CCD or CMOS image sensors, this new sensor records other and more useful properties of the light hitting it that allow for a more accurate reconstruction of the scene after processing.  I’m not just talking about better white balance or being able to retrieve information “lost” in the highlights or shadows — you can actually refocus the image while post-processing it.  Amazing

Although I’m not a huge fan of the way they’re trying to market it, the science behind the idea is sound and could revolutionize not just photography but digital imaging in general.  Whereas CCD and CMOS sensors are effectively trying to replicate the way that images are stored onto film, these new Light Field Sensors are innately digital and show a huge leap forward in terms of the thought process behind digital imaging.

In particular, I’m excited about the applications to the medical imaging field — what happens when we replace the typical CCDs with these Light Field Sensors?  We’ll be able to capture the entire scene as it is, not as it’s seen through the ‘eyes’ of a sensor.  I, for one, am excited.

Get nerdy and read the founder’s dissertatation here.

Windows 8 on Arm

Via ArsTechnica:

ARM Windows won’t include an x86 emulator, and as such will not be able to run existing Windows programs. It is, however, the same operating system with the same APIs, meaning that it should be possible to recompile existing software and device drivers for ARM Windows with few difficulties. The same applications should, therefore, become available on both platforms, as should access to the same hardware.

So, as soon as they’re (nearly) done transitioning their user base from 32-bit -> 64-bit OS, drivers and apps, Microsoft is going to force another bifurcation, but for what benefit? The advantages of running on ARM will likely be negated by background Windows processes.

Or, maybe they’re banking on ARM Windows 8 taking a sufficient amount of time to come to market that they’ll be able to get “all day” battery life on their tablets.  Meanwhile, your iPad will last all week under full use.

Update 5:41pm: Apple has avoided issues like this in their architecture switches (most recently, PPC -> x86) by allowing for Universal Binary applications, containing the code for both architectures all in one App bundle.  For the sake of their users, Microsoft should implement this.  Or perhaps they’re expecting everyone to buy Office 2012 ARM edition for their tablets and a separate x86 edition for their laptops and desktops.