vulture bytes

Vulture Bytes: Crowdsource Your Party Mix and Play Literary Roulette

This week: 3-D audio, a playlist for all, an e-book in no particular order, microphones for your iPhone, and Star Wars geekery.

Knowing Vulture Bytes is incorruptible, the PR industrial complex doesn’t bother us that often. But the team behind Jambox, the portable speaker that sounds far better than it should, is an exception. Somebody over there sent a sample unit Vulture Bytes’ way, and it was quite good, and that was before they added their 3-D sound gimmick, something the company claims makes everything sound better, like “hearing your favorite music and audio content for the first time” (an event not that special, since most of our attachment to music is built as we listen to it over and over again). If the 3-D isn’t enough for you, then maybe the Jamchain is, a (different) gimmick that lets you hang the Jambox over your neck like you’re some quadratic Flava Flav.PRICE: Free, both of them. The 3-D sound is a regular firmware upgrade, and the Jamchain can be had through a special deal. Check Jambox’s site for instructions.
Just last week Vulture Bytes was saying we needed an app that let a bunch of people crowdsource a playlist when they were all at the same party. Apparently the gadget gods were listening. This week Gizmodo wrote about a new feature from deluxe-speaker-maker Bowers & Wilkins that turns B&W’s iPod dock into a local Download the Zeppelin Air app and use its SharePlay feature to let anyone on your network stream music to the same speakers. Yet another thing to cross off society’s to-do list.PRICE: The app is free. The dock … not so much. That’s $600.
Publishing may be dying, but at least it’s experimenting in its death throes. Visual Editions, a London-based publisher, has built a niche creating books that are more than just words on a page. They become treasured objects, artifacts that somebody 100 years from now would find and treat as a symbol of a medium in its last moment of resonance. Earlier this month, Visual Editions released Composition No. 1, a book that’s been written so its pages can be read in any order. And now the digital edition is being released as an app for the iPad. It’s book-by-roulette. Start the app and the pages will begin spinning at random. Place your finger down and it’ll stop so you can read one page; lift your finger again and you’re back to the roulette. Like most of the books on your bookshelf, that makes it more enjoyable to own than to actually read.PRICE: $7 for the app
So you’re becoming a Scorsese of the iPhone, recording everything in sight. But no matter how deft your pans and zooms are, there’s still something amateur about your production: the sound. That tinny iPhone microphone isn’t nearly good enough for you to truly document the human experience. What you need is the ar-4i, a sound kit for the iPhone that puts two mini-shotgun mikes on top of the phone so you can capture the grunts, squishes, and other assorted onomatopoeia of everyday life. For true auteurs only.PRICE: $150
You may think this has no place in Vulture Bytes, but what is ice if not a gadget to make your water cooler? The instruction manual on this one says to pour water into the silicone tray, put it in the freezer, and then detach and put in whatever you brought home from Mos Eisley. One tall drink of water inside another.PRICE: $10
Vulture Bytes: Crowdsource Your Party Mix and Play Literary Roulette