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Tweet of the Month @rohinivibha
Pointer to a good article about product management.

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Lou Reed leaves $30m fortune | Music | theguardian.com
Lou was pretty good at getting paid, it turns out.

Share extensions in iOS 8: Explained | iMore
The how of getting your app onto the iOS 8 "Share" menu.

How to Avoid Lowering Your Prices | SiriusDecisions
Sound strategies for avoiding pricing messes in the field. I’ll add another vote for offering a longer contract rather than lowering price. The big secret here is that it’s very hard to change the price at which a subscription is established, so don’t lock in a low rate to win a customer; give free months of service instead.

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Sasha Frere-Jones: The working life of Brian Eno.
Nice midlength article on Eno and his work.

1895 Map of the University of Virginia Grounds

1895 map of the University of Virginia from the YMCA Student Handbook

1895 map of the University of Virginia from the YMCA Student Handbook

It’s not every day that you get to see a picture of the world just before it changed. But that’s what I found in my latest eBay finding, a copy of the Y.M.C.A. Student’s Hand Book to the University of Virginia, 1895–’96. Inside the book, after the title page and opposite the calendar of the year (more on that in a second), is a fold-out map of the University as it existed at the beginning of the 1895 school year.

It’s literally a peek backwards in time. The infirmary (now Varsity Hall) is on the map where it was built and stood until its move in 2005 to make way for the expansion of Rouss Hall for the McIntire School of Commerce (and Rouss, Cocke, and Cabell are not on the map at all). The original Dawson’s Row buildings dot the map in an arc leading away from Monroe Hill. The lost Jefferson Anatomical Building, here labeled “Biological Laboratory,” stands on the map alongside a pair of more modern buildings for Anatomy and Chemistry, both now lost to time. Memorial Gym is still the skating pond. Carr’s Hill is a set of wooden dwellings, with no sign of the president’s home that Stanford White built — of course, this was before the University had a president. Madison Bowl, and the original Madison House building, are just the “YMCA Campus.”

And of course, the Rotunda only has one set of east-west wings, and it has a big Annex.

It’s all poised on the brink of a monumental event: the destruction of the Rotunda Annex and the burning out of Jefferson’s Rotunda on October 27, 1895. In a day the University was turned upside down. Two years later the Rotunda would be rebuilt in a grand style, three academic buildings would close off Mr. Jefferson’s Lawn, and the unprecedented fundraising challenge would prove the last straw for the old faculty government model. Within ten years the University’s first president would take office. It’s a fascinating look back into a lost world.

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roio » Blog Archive » NICK DRAKE – A DAY GONE BY
Track 226

Eight Terminal Utilities Every OS X Command Line User Should Know
A few interesting goodies here.

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Scoop: A Glimpse Into the NYTimes CMS
Makes me want to work at the Times.

2014 UVA Reunion, Part III: The people

Diane, Lara, Julianne, Don, Erika, and myself

Diane, Lara, Julianne, Don, Erika, and myself

The best part of any reunion is the people, and I’ve learned an important lesson this time: get here early. I was never rushed, had enough time to spend with everyone, and lowered my blood pressure probably 20 or so points.

The shenanigans of our group of friends shall mostly be lost to the mists of time (or behind private walls on Facebook), but a few things stand out:

After Saturday’s banquet, I had reached my quota of extroversion, and my claustrophobia kicked in. So I took my leave of my friends and walked up East Lawn, then cut across to West. As I passed Pavilion V, I was hailed by strangers sitting outside one of the Lawn Rooms, who pointed out my absence of beverage and rectified same; we exchanged pleasantries and University personal histories. Walking back down East Lawn again, I was stopped by alumni of the class of 1974, sitting outside another Lawn room drinking bourbon and smoking cigars. They pointed to my orange and blue bow tie and said, “Now that’s how it’s supposed to be done!”

Photos from the Grounds are on Flickr.

2014 UVA Reunions, Part II: The Rotunda

Rotunda Capital

Rotunda Capital

I got a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Rotunda on Saturday. The Rotunda, Jefferson’s library and the centerpiece of his Academical Village, just got done with a roof replacement and now enters the second, more extensive phase of its renovations as they redo the mechanical systems and get ready to return it to a building more integrated with student life. The guide said that they were inspired by the way students took to the McGregor Room in Alderman when it was turned into study space after Special Collections moved into its new dedicated building, and hope to recreate that effect in the oval room across from the Board of Visitors meeting room on the second floor. I can’t think of anything better.

The tour itself was fascinating. We stood in the lower oval rooms on the ground floor and learned what they’ve reconstructed about the larger role of the chemistry labs in the earliest days of the university, when the Rotunda was not just library but also science classroom. We marveled at the graffiti left by builders in the portland cement  lining the cistern buried in the east courtyard, long hidden under a fountain. And we got to ascend both tiers of balcony above the Dome Room floor, which have long been off limits to regular tours.

The last part was the most special. Behind an opened panel on the north wall was a small chamber housing the machinery for the north clock. There was a 1970s era unfinished wood structure around the clock mechanism. And the wood structure was covered by signatures of probationary classes of the University Guide Service. The Guides’ secret hideaway had long been a legend, and seeing it in broad daylight was surprising at first. But as I wrote to a friend, I felt that the Guides found a way to become part of the historic fabric of the building in an intimately familiar and ultimately respectful way, just like the builders who left their names in the cement of the cistern. Seeing the signatures meant that my friends had found a way to become a deep part of the history of the University.

Check the Flickr photoset for more.

2014 UVa Reunions, part 1: The Library

Alderman Library reference room.

Alderman Library reference room.

My 20th reunion has been a great time to connect with friends, gawk at the architecture (again), and disappear into the library. —Wait, what?

I got into Charlottesville on Thursday for reunions weekend, and headed straight to the library. I was on the trail of the mysterious Glee Club concert program. I found the mention of William Wood Glass‘s correspondence with Ada Bantz Beardsworth in January of this year, and one sentence in the finding aid was electrifying: “He also included programs for the University of Virginia Glee Club.” 

In the end, the discovery was simple. I went to Special Collections, requested the box of correspondence, opened it, and there it was: a program for the February 12, 1894 Glee Club concert. Featuring E.A. Craighill, author of the Good Old Song,  and the same concert program that the Club took on that 1893–1894 tour, the program formed the second earliest record we have of an actual Glee Club performance. It also had a human dimension: Glass wrote a letter to Ada on the front and back, describing the concert and its aftermath. He notes, “We had a fine time, but not as large a house as we anticipated. I made a great mash on one of Miss Baldwin’s girls.”

I’m getting the program scanned properly. It should be part of our permanent record of Club’s history.

I returned to Alderman on Friday to dig through other holdings. I finally laid eyes on the January 1871 copy of the Virginia University Magazine, which fixes our earliest date for the Glee Club, and made my way through much of the collection of Corks and Curls. I’ll post about some of those findings another time.

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Designers Explain Why Apple’s New OS X Typeface Is a Strange Choice
And now we have the odd phenomenon of designers dumping on Helvetica.

New mix: been so lonesome, just ’bout flew away

Percolating this one for a while, as usual. Genesis has been the end of a long hard winter, some outstanding old gospel 78s that washed up on Bandcamp, and a few songs (“Headspins,” “Genius of Love”) that seized my playlist and wouldn’t let go.

  1. In Your Eyes (Special Mix)Peter Gabriel
  2. I Won’t Be LongBeck (I Won’t Be Long)
  3. City With No ChildrenArcade Fire (The Suburbs)
  4. ManNeko Case (The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Deluxe Edition))
  5. HeadspinsSplashh (Comfort)
  6. Little By LittleRadiohead (The King of Limbs)
  7. WeightlessBrian Eno (Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks)
  8. Root DownBeastie Boys (Ill Communication)
  9. White GirlSoul Coughing (Irresistible Bliss)
  10. Can You Get to ThatFunkadelic (Maggot Brain)
  11. Borrowed TimeAlexander O’Neal (Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound)
  12. Bittersweet MeR.E.M. (New Adventures In Hi-Fi)
  13. Genius Of LoveTom Tom Club (Tom Tom Club)
  14. PatienceThe Men (Campfire Songs)
  15. What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?Dixie Hummingbirds (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
  16. Stones In My PasswayRobert Johnson (The Complete Recordings)
  17. RoyalsLorde (The Love Club EP)
  18. Deeper Into MoviesYo La Tengo (I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One)
  19. Too Much of Nothing (take 2)Bob Dylan (A Tree With Roots)
  20. That Was My VeilJune Tabor & Oysterband (Ragged Kingdom)
  21. Wash.Bon Iver (Bon Iver)
  22. Avalanche (Slow)Zola Jesus, JG Thirlwell & Mivos Quartet (Versions)
  23. Green, Green Rocky RoadDave Van Ronk (Inside Llewyn Davis: Original Soundtrack Recording)
  24. Water WheelSteve Gunn (Time Off)
  25. CeremonyNew Order (International: The Best of New Order)
  26. One DayAngelic Gospel Singers with the Dixie Humming Birds (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
  27. Winter’s Come And GoneGillian Welch (Hell Among The Yearlings)

Virginia Glee Club History: Wanted

As I go through the process of researching the history of the Virginia Glee Club, occasionally I run across sources that are hard to get to from my home in Massachusetts but that would lend enormous value to our search. I’m posting the current list of sources in the hope that someone can help me find a copy of the source so I can fill in the blanks in our understanding of the past.

Why are some sources hard to find? There are usually a couple of reasons–either the item hasn’t been digitized (but thanks to references in other sources we know that it exists), or the item has been digitized but Google, in its infinite wisdom, isn’t making a full copy of the source available.

The current list:

  1. Corks and Curls volume 1 (1888). According to the snippet view search, Page 92 contains a description and information about that year’s Glee Club, about which we have very little information.
  2. Corks and Curls volume 2 (1889). Again, tantalizing glimpses indicate that pages 10, 96, and 97 reference the Glee Club. This is especially tantalizing because our only prior evidence about the group says that it did not organize in 1888-1889.
  3. Corks and Curls volume 3 (1890). Page 106ff appears to supplement what little we know about the group in 1889-1890.
  4. Additional papers of Ada Bantz Beardsworth, Box folder 23:2. This is a funny one, but apparently the subject had a former boyfriend in the Virginia Glee Club (William Wood Glass), who sang in the Glee Club in the 1895-1896 season. And they corresponded, and he sent her concert programs! We only have one concert program of the Club prior to 1900 so this item, in the UVA Library Special Collections, would be quite a find.
  5. Programs from the 1980s and the 2000s. For whatever reason, we have more knowledge about concerts in the 1940s through the 1970s than we do about the 1980s, 2000s, and even 2010s (thanks to a few generous alums we have the 1990s mostly covered). Anyone holding a cache of concert programs from these eras?

So if there are any sleuths out there with access to the UVA Library or other repositories of rare Virginiana, who can help me out with a scanner, I’d be eternally grateful.

Virginia Glee Club history: the University Band and the Arcadians

Virginia Glee Club recording with the University Band, 1947 (courtesy UVA Visual History archives)

I’ve devoted some of my Virginia Glee Club historical research time to non-Glee Club topics in an effort to better understand the life of the average Club guy across the decades of the group’s existence. In the process, I’ve learned some interesting things about Club itself.

First, other musical groups, namely the University Band. If you think the Club has had a checkered history, what with multiple potential founding dates and occasional fallow years, then check out the band! Though instrumental music has an earlier start date than organized glee clubs, with the first reference to student instrumental groups coming in 1832, there were not only many starts and stops but also outright faculty opposition. In a foreshadowing of this year’s performance space flap, students were forbidden in the late 1830s from practicing instruments except between the hours of 2 and 3 in the afternoon, or from four to eight o’clock at night—and never on Sunday. So formal bands died out, to be replaced by the Calathumps — not a good tradeoff for order at the University. New organized bands sprouted in the early 20th century but seemed always to die away, so you had a founding of a band in 1908–09, another in 1910–11, another in the 1920s, another in 1934, a dwindling to almost nothing in the early 1960s, and then a resurgence with significant donor money in 2004. The last refounding of the Band, with the clear goal of the extinguishing of the Pep Band, doesn’t reflect well on student self governance, but at least it got a band that had instruments and practice space.

Second, the Arcadians. I’ve written about them before, but it’s interesting to study this group in a little more detail. The University had had a small dramatic group, the VVV Club, in the early 1900s, but the Arcadians were something else—seriously organized, putting on big shows, and apparently sucking in all the musical talent. In 1904 the University only had 662 students, not reaching over 1000 until 1915–16, and the pool of available students wasn’t big enough to support both a Glee Club and a dramatic group that performed musicals. So, after five musicals, the Arcadians were bankrupt and no student groups remained to put on entertainments. Enter the Glee Club of 1910–11. And, given that there were only a few additional fallow years from this season forward, we can really thank the poor financial management skills of the Arcadians with giving the Glee Club the opportunity to get back on its feet for good.

New mix: something other than regret

Starting to have the energy again to think about posting here, which is nice. I’ve been down the grindstone for a very very long time, and now, faced with some unexpected downtime, I’m going to use the opportunity to catch up on a  few things.

Starting with this. I completed something other than regret, my 33rd mix in the modern era, on the 10th of November, and it’s all over the map, but with some pretty strong thematic material running through as well. I especially love the way that Laura Marling excavates on the three tracks from Once I Was an Eagle, which is my favorite album of 2013; the woozy, witchy, R&B-driven silliness of “Nommo (The Magick Song)” (“All praises due to the Black man,” indeed); the light touch of Antony’s “Crackagen”, and the way that John Fahey’s riff on Clarence Ashley’s “The Coo Coo Bird” fits so seamlessly with gospel. I’ve definitely got something other than regret.

  1. Song-SongBrad Mehldau Trio (The Art Of The Trio Volume 3)
  2. Nommo- The Magick SongGary Bartz And NTU Troop (I’ve Known Rivers And Other Bodies)
  3. Is That EnoughYo La Tengo (Fade)
  4. Blue LightMazzy Star (So Tonight That I Might See)
  5. Life & SoulThe Sundays (Blind)
  6. Take The Night OffLaura Marling (Once I Was An Eagle)
  7. I Was An EagleLaura Marling (Once I Was An Eagle)
  8. CrackagenAntony and the Johnsons (Another World)
  9. Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking NowLavender Diamond (Incorruptible Heart)
  10. Variations On The CoocooJohn Fahey (The Dance Of Death & Other Plantation Favorites)
  11. Where Shall I Go?Sister Marie Knight (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
  12. Don’t Give UpPeter Gabriel (So (Remastered 2012))
  13. IncinerateSonic Youth (Rather Ripped)
  14. Tiny Cities Made Of AshesSun Kil Moon (Tiny Cities)
  15. We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The MorningGram Parsons (G.P. / Grievous Angel)
  16. BreatheLaura Marling (Once I Was An Eagle)
  17. Turn Your ColorThe Men (Campfire Songs)
  18. I’ll Fly AwaySouthern Sons (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)

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The Beer Game
One of my favorite parts of my Sloan experience.