Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Pop culture roundup for Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012

  • Love this year in review video, shot right here in L.A., collecting short bits of video daily and putting them together to tell one person's story over the course of a year. (via The Daily What)
  • Google has a new Los Angeles headquarters featuring things like virtual reality Google Maps rooms and a building-tall pair of binoculars. (via Boing Boing)
  • Adam Sandler was discovered in an L.A. comedy club by Dennis Miller; read this profile on Sandler focused on his time on "Saturday Night Live" (while you try to forget "Jack & Jill"). (via Splitsider)
  • Comic book artist Ben Templesmith drawing a comic book page at San Francisco's Noise Pop music festival (an hour and a half video, but if you don't have time, fun to skip around in to see bits of the process). (via Robot 6)
  • President Obama asking for Betty White's birth certificate (really!). (via the Daily What)
  • And, because it makes me happy, Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation dancing drunkenly, forever. (via Splitsider)

Read More...

Playing with Google Music Beta

The hot new thing online recently has been cloud music players. For those not in the know, this essentially means being able to listen to music you own over the Internet.

Amazon was first out the gate with their cloud player, followed by Google, with Apple reportedly soon to come.

While in beta, Google Music is invitation only. You can apply for your own Google Music Beta invitation here.

I just got my invite to Google Music Beta today, so here are a few initial thoughts:

  • Unlike Amazon, Google is offering a nice selection of popular songs for free to get people into the service.
  • One thing that allows Google to do that is that you can't download songs once they're uploaded. However, it's playable on Android phones and tablets, and you can also select songs on your device to play back later when you're offline. It also automatically caches recently played songs.
  • It took a little futzing, but you can listen to music from Google Music Beta on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Much like Apple's iTunes, you can create automated mixes based on one song from your collection, as well as creating traditional playlists.
  • It's got a higher cap for free storage than Amazon, topping out at 20,000 songs. However, Amazon provides storage for any music bought through Amazon's MP3 store for free.
  • It's also got a built in rating system to let it know which songs you like and which you don't. Unlike iTunes' 5 star system, it's a bit simpler: thumbs up or thumbs down.
  • It's been a little buggier for me than Amazon's cloud player so far, with more frequent buffering issues.
  • However, while very similar to Amazon's cloud player, I found the Google interface a bit easier to use.

Read More...

Google hires Happy Tree Friends to explain copyright to YouTube uploaders

Google's tightening their copyright policies for YouTube uploads. If you upload copyrighted material to YouTube, you'll have to watch a video called "YouTube Copyright School" and then pass a test on copyright to continue using the site.

That video features the Happy Tree Friends, Internet cartoon celebrities. The cartoon is known for the contrast between the cute animals and the graphic cartoon violence, but they've cleaned up their act for the big league of YouTube Copyright School.

After watching that video, YouTube users get two more chances before, on the third strike, being banned for life. According to Politico, this is the company's response to lawmakers and the entertainment industry complaining that Google hasn't cracked down on copyright infringement.

Given the giant amount of copyrighted material on YouTube put up there by people without the right to do so, it's an interesting approach as everyone tries to figure out the nature of copyright in the Internet age. There seems to be a tacit acceptance of a lot of this material being up by some artists and companies, so it will be interesting to see if this has much impact.

Read More...