Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Help Me Pick a New Work Bag

I started a new full-time gig on Monday that I am very excited about. To celebrate, I am treating myself to a new work bag from my favorite handbag maker, Kate Spade. While all of my everyday bags accommodate my personal, sleek, 13-inch laptop, I'll now have to tote around my ugly work ThinkPad with the huge battery attachment that just barely doesn't fit in anything.

Which bag should I get?

| 1. Vanston Maryclare | 2. Cooper Square Katarina in black/creme | 3. Cooper Square Katarina in doe | 4. Vanston Stripe Maryclare |

I was originally planning to get a bag before my first day but I walked into my local Kate Spade store and figured it didn't hurt to ask if any sales or promotions were coming up soon. It turns out that from August 12th through September 4th, they're offering 20% off any single, full-priced handbag. Enter the promo code FALLBAG11 if you're ordering online, or ask for a coupon in the store.

| Photo Credit: 1–4. See links provided. |

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Cool Kids Are Talking About Spotify

Living on the West Coast, and specifically the Bay Area, comes with certain obligations. One big one is that you're expected to stay up-to-date with all of the techie trends—otherwise you'll risk looking totally ignorant at the next bottomless mimosas brunch. Getting your Google+ invite already seems like ages ago because now my News Feeds seem to be abuzz about Spotify.

I didn't know much about Spotify before trying it out, other than it was a music-streaming service and people were really happy about it. So, like any Bay Area sheep, I signed up to find out what it was all about. To me, the website was pretty unclear after a couple glances in regards to exactly how Spotify was special. They did have this odd graphic that seemed to suggest that music could be consumed like food, but I was too lazy to watch the promo video and decided it was easier to just sign up, start using it, and see what was what. At first impression, Spotify sets itself apart from something like Pandora in that it allows you to customize playlists. There's also a cool social element of being able to send your friends songs or collaborate on playlists. To me, the quality of the streaming is better than some of the media players I've experienced on artist websites or via Bandcamp. I did a quick search upon installation to see if some of my favorite "obscure" artists were available and surprisingly they were. So far it was pretty awesome, and I could clearly see why everyone was getting on the bandwagon.

As I started crafting playlists however, I discovered there were little bits of things that bugged me. For certain albums that were listed as available, I discovered that really only one song from the album was available for streaming (and unsurprisingly as I dug deeper, some of the music I love was not available). Then when I started listening to my playlist, I learned that after every few songs, a series of random audio advertisements were going to be blasted into my ears promoting either the Spotify paid service or artists I didn't care about. No more disruptive than if you were listening to the radio but much more disruptive than if you were listening to an individual album on Bandcamp. (I get that they need to monetize, but there is also plenty of visual advertising space that would not completely disrupt my music-listening experience.) However, if you're used to listening to mainstream music on the radio anyway, then Spotify is a vast improvement for you.

I'll probably still use Spotify pretty often while I am working since the selection is still decent and I like listening to more than one artist in one sitting sometimes, but it's not like Spotify is the best application in the world.

And in case you are wondering exactly what this obscure music is that I've been obsessing over that isn't necessarily all on Spotify, I am an embarrassingly devoted fan to British YouTube musicians. Check out this amazing chap hop song about tea by Professor Elemental here. Or dig deeper into my embarrassing tastes in music here.

| Art Credit: Me. |