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The Top Five Music Albums Ever Made

Listening to music is just about my favorite thing in the world to do. Some days I just listen to music for the entire day. So, I have heard quite a few albums in my lifetime. To narrow them down to the top five is difficult, but I feel that these are the best of the best. I highly recommend these albums. I will tell you why.

1. Beck - Sea Change. This is my favorite album ever recorded. There are a lot of sounds on this album, but it is still done in a very subtle way. It's an old fashioned album done by someone that can't help but use new fashioned technology. The fusion is superbly done. It really is a masterpiece. Sure, it's a little sleepy. It's also a little too simple. Still, it's the best album ever recorded.

2. Remy Zero - Villa Elaine. Remy Zero is America's best alternative rock band. They rose up in the late nineties and tried to hang on during the early 2000s. They didn't succeed. They eventually broke up without ever really making it. They left behind a few albums. This one is they gem. It's their second album, and it is perfect. They nailed the alternative rock genre. This is America's shot at the alt-rock scene.

3. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells. Two people have never made so much sound. It's amazing to think that all of this sound is being generated by just two people. When you hear them live, you realize that they are really making all of this music. White Blood Cells is their best work. Their other albums might be more concise, but this one displays their energy and charm better than the others. It's a little long to get through, but any shorter would have ruined it.

4. Dido - Life for Rent. Dido might not be the most emotive singer on the planet. She makes up for that in her subtleties. Life for Rent is a spot on album. The melodies are sharp. Her voice doesn't change much, but when it does it matters. The songs tell stories, and they are stories that you can come back to. There is a lot of personality in this album. It's one of the most character driven albums ever made. That character is Dido.

5. Fun - Aim & Ignite. This is most fun experience I have ever had listening to music. That is what they were going for. They were trying to make an album that would always be fun to listen to. That's what this is. It might not be the deepest affair you will have in the world of music. I don't always want that out of the tunes I listen to. Sometimes I just want to have fun.

These five albums have changed my life for the better. I should give honorable mention to the Grand Archives and Jack's Mannequin. They both made albums that I adore, but just couldn't fit in my top five list.

The Dead Live, Gratefully

On February 22nd, "I saw Dead people." 5000 of them at the Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware. I was one of them. And I was thrilled to be there. It was a Furthur concert, the Bob Weir/Phil Lesh band. Doesn't get much more Dead than that. OK, no Hart or Kreutzman, but no biggee. And the band's lead guitarist is Jerry reincarnated.

The show was great. I've seen the Grateful Dead, Other Ones, Garcia Band, Kingfish, Rat Dog, Furthur, et al maybe 40-50 times. On the Dead Head scale that makes me a novice, but still puts me into the lower tier of serious fan. They make me feel good. Always did. Always will.

For you Dead Heads the set list was first rate:

Set 1: Here Comes Sunshine, I Need a Miracle, Estimated Prophet Candyman, Maggie's Farm Alabama Getaway, Black Peter Cosmic Charlie

Set 2: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), Jack Straw, Cold Rain And Snow, Peaceful Valley, Sugaree Revolution, Terrapin Station, Throwing Stones

E: Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Ripple

Alabama Getaway in the first set and Ripple as the encore were the show highlights.

But the Dead are far from just brilliant musicians. The Dead are, have been, and will continue to be brilliant marketers. They have understood "social media" long before PCs, blogs and twitter. The have always believed in building a community, sharing, the influence of others, and the power of belonging to something bigger than oneself. If want to appreciate and understand the brilliance of Dead marketing I encourage you to read Joshua Green's: Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead in the March 2010 Atlantic

It's an incredibly insightful, well written article. I learned a ton.

I leave every Dead concert smiling, but yearning for the songs they didn't play that evening. I will never be fully satisfied and therefore never have enough. This August it'll be 15 years since Jerry's passing, the same week as Mickey Mantle's death-a really bad week for my boyhood idols. Though Jerry's been gone almost 15 years, the music of the Dead lives. Nothing better than that.

How to Make Your Own Techno Music

Techno music came from from Detroit, Michigan in the USA in the late 1980s. It is a type of electronic dance tune frequently played in night clubs, discos and bars. The very first archived utilization of the term techno to coin this genre was in the year 1988 and through the years, a multitude of types have been produced. A great deal of techno tunes have also been launched all over the world since its early days in Detroit. Additionally, due to its vast acceptance and appreciation, along with the many technological developments available to folks nowadays, it comes to no surprise that it is currently quite simple to discover ways to make your own techno music as well. This information will do just that.

Anything that makes sounds, or has a sound for that matter, could be changed and made to sound techno. Collect numerous sounds as you like so that you may have better alternatives when you begin generating your music. Then you must get the right computer software for the job. There are plenty of free programs which can be acquired online, download and try the ones that you think could live up to your wants and try them out. The one which gives you the most control and ease in using is the one you ought to stay with. You'll need a recording device to help you pick more sounds from other exterior sources.

If you have all all these ready, it's simple to make your own techno music. To start, you have to bear in mind how basic techno songs are arranged. Like the majority of songs, a typical techno composition starts with an intro, then goes to a chorus, followed by the climax, then another chorus, and finally finishes with an outro. The intro is frequently the calmest and least difficult section of the song because it includes the least noises, this is often where listeners first hear the basic percussion beat, that's audible throughout the song, also. Then comes the chorus, the part of the song that is generally the catchiest. Thus, the chorus also need to be the part where the rhythm and other sounds, like the bass, come in. After the chorus, your song should reach a climatic part and here you can layer even more sounds such as saxophones, various guitars as well as personal computer made sounds, this is after all techno and techno is a genre of electronic digital music. Following this, the chorus generally comes after once again and you can either use a fading chorus for your outro or add an additional verse to conclude the entire song.

However way you wind up making your techno music, it's very good to remember that you need to enjoy yourself doing so. After all, if you don't take pleasure in what you make, how else do you suppose others would respond to it, right? It's also wise to take into account that when you make your own techno, you will not always get it right, but there is often room for improvement. Just keep practicing and you will surely get good very quickly.

The Vibrant Live Entertainment Scene of Washington, DC

So you're taking a trip to Washington, D.C. and you have everything planned out. You're going to visit the National Archives, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian Institute, the FBI, and you have tours booked at the White House and the Capitol. Now, what are your plans for entertainment while in the nation's capital?

Entertainment? That's right. Even though D.C. might be best known as the setting of political wrangling between the President and Congress, the city actually has a vibrant live entertainment scene. That is, entertainment other than what you might see from the Senate Gallery.

At some point all the heated debate about the latest legislation to hit the floor will become either boring or rage-inducing, and you will want to find something else that will better catch your attention, allow you to cool your heels, or both. So if you're going to Washington soon and are in the market for a good play, musical, or concert during your visit, keep on reading for information about some of the places in D.C. where you can catch a show.

Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Address: 2700 F Street, NW Nearest Metro Station: Orange and Blue lines: Foggy Bottom/George Washington University About: The Kennedy Center is Washington's flagship performing arts center. The Center hosts dance, theater, concert, and opera events. The Millennium Stage hosts free daily shows at 6pm, showcasing acts from all across the nation.

DAR Constitution Hall Address: 311 Eighteenth Street, NW Nearest Metro Station: Orange and Blue lines: Farragut West; Red line, Farragut North About: The DAR Constitution Hall was built in 1929 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Well before the Kennedy Center was even a thought, the hall was the premier venue for live entertainment in D.C. It hosts concert artists and comedians.

Verizon Center Address: 601 F Street, NW Nearest Metro Station: Red, Yellow, and Green lines: Gallery Place-Chinatown About: The Verizon Center is the largest of the commercial entertainment venues in Washington, hosting concerts and sporting events. It was opened in 1997 as the MCI Center and is the home of the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics.

Nightclub 9:30 Address: 815 V Street, NW Nearest Metro Station: Green and Yellow lines: U Street/African American War Memorial About: Often known simply as the "9:30 Club," Nightclub 9:30 is a concert venue. Since opening in 1980, Nightclub 9:30 has attracted rock, grunge, and metal bands. It moved from its original location at 930 F Street, NW in 1996.

Arena Stage Address: 1101 Sixth Street, NW Nearest Metro Station: Green and Yellow lines: U Street/Cardozo About: Arena Stage is a non-profit theater featuring plays and musicals. It was founded in 1950 with a mission to stage productions with themes that appeal to American audiences. Arena Stage typically hosts between ten and twelve productions a season.

All of the venues listed above host shows that are family-friendly, so they are great choices for family vacationers looking to enjoy see a show together during their stay. So when you plan your trip to Washington, schedule in some time to get a taste of the city's options for live entertainment.

Setting Up a Live Broadcast on the Internet

Broadcasting live content over the Internet isn't as difficult as people would think. In fact, it's extremely easy. All you need is an audio or video source, a way of getting the audio or video to the PC, a free software program supplied by Microsoft, and enough upload bandwidth to cover the broadcasting of the content.

In this tutorial, I'll attempt to teach you what you need to know so you can broadcast your content over the Internet. I'll primarily show you audio only, but you'll see how easy it is to do video as you progress through this tutorial.

As this is a text only tutorial, you will want to download the free software from Microsoft, and go through the configuration while you read this tutorial. Don't panic though. It's really easy to do. Don't let the length of this tutorial scare you away. The rewards of having your live broadcast up and running should keep you motivated to stick with it.

The only slightly complicated part of this tutorial is to do with your firewall. Due to the number of firewalls out there, I'll be very generic in my approach to telling you what you need to do. I'll explain this in further detail later in the tutorial.

Let's Start

First things first. You need to set up your audio source. In this example I'm using a radio scanner to broadcast Live Police from a radio scanner.

I basically have the radio scanner plugged into my PC's sound card with a cable roughly 2 metres (7 Feet) in length with a 3.5mm mono plug on each end. Of course the length of cable is up to you. Note: if you are broadcasting music, you'll want to use a cable that has stereo plugs instead of mono plugs. You'll also want to ensure your plugs on the cable match the audio device, Some devices may use a 2.5mm plug instead of 3.5mm. If you are broadcasting voice only, mono plugs are better as it ensures sound comes out of both speakers for the listener.

Plug the cable in so that one end plugs into the headphone socket of your audio device, and the other end plugs into the Microphone socket of your sound card on your PC.

Now go to the Microsoft website and download the Windows Media Encoder 9 software. It's free. It's approximately 9.5MB. The link to the software is located at the bottom of this article.

Once you've installed the software, go ahead and start it. You'll be presented with the setup wizard. Highlight the option named Broadcast a Live Event and click OK.

You'll now be in the window where you can choose your audio source and/or video source. If you were setting up video, you would leave both items ticked, however in this example, we're just going to do audio so go ahead and untick the video option. Under the audio option use the drop down box and choose your sound card from the list. Then click the configure button.

In the audio properties window the only thing you really need to change is the option called Pin Line. In the Drop down box, choose Microphone. Of course you can also use Line In, but you need to ensure you've plugged the cable into the Line In of your sound card.

So far it's pretty easy right? Believe it or not, there's not a great deal more to do.

Let's continue shall we

Just click OK and then Next.

If you've followed the tutorial so far, you should be in a window where you can choose a broadcast method. Click on the radio box next to Pull from the encoder and click on the Next button.

In the field labeled Http Port, pick a common port like 8080. You'll thank me later. Many firewalls on routers have rules already set up for port 8080 and it makes it a lot easier to configure. It also allows maximum availability to the masses due to it being a common proxy port number. Go ahead and click Next.

Next we need to configure the encoding options. Go to the drop down box and choose Multiple Bit Rates audio (CBR). In the Bit rate section, choose 19kb/s. Note: Ensure you untick all the other bit rates. The only bit rate you want ticked is 19kb/s. This bit rate should be a good compromise between quality and bandwidth consumption for streaming voice quality. If you want to stream something like music, you may want to choose a higher bit rate. MP3 audio tends to be around 128kb/s but remember the higher bit rate you use, the more upload bandwidth will be required.

For an idea of bandwidth usage, you can have roughly 40 concurrent listeners on a 1mb/s upload bandwidth using 19kb/s. This will leave you with about 250kb/s for doing other things on the internet. The more concurrent listeners you have, the more powerful CPU you'll require, but from experience, you don't need a high powered CPU. The Live Police scanner at my website has a maximum of 40 concurrent listeners on a 1.7GHz CPU with 1 gig of memory and runs beautifully. And yes, I have reached 40 concurrent users at once.

Let's continue

Click the Next button, and then click it again so we skip the Archive section.

Here we'll type in some text about the audio. When people listen to the stream using their Windows Media Player, it will scroll this information to the listener.

Once you've typed in the Display Information click the Finish button instead of the Next button. You'll get a pop up dialog box that tells you about IP blocking. Just ignore this for now and click OK.

That wasn't that hard was it. Believe it or not, we're done. Well, almost.

Windows Media Encoder only allows a maximum of 5 concurrent listeners by default, so if you want to have more than 5 you can make a small windows registry change on your PC which will allow up to 50 connections.

Warning: Changing the registry can be hazardous to your operating system if you change or delete the wrong thing. If you aren't confident doing this yourself, get someone that knows what they're doing to help you out. I can't be held responsible if you mess it up, and can't boot back into your operating system. Now, having said that, it's a very easy to make the change so you shouldn't have a problem. Follow the instructions at the end of this document, only if you want to allow more than 5 concurrent listeners. If you're happy with 5 listeners, then we're almost done.

If you've followed the tutorial up until now, you will have an audio source with a cable going from the headphone socket to the Microphone socket of your sound card in your PC. You will have your Windows Media Encoder totally configured and be raring to go. Just ensure you save the configuration on the Windows Media Encoder so you can load it at any time.

One more minor speed bump to get over and you'll be broadcasting to the world. This is the part that can be a little complicated though. I'll attempt to give you the basics you'll need to get your live broadcast up and running. We'll break this down into two parts. Configuring your firewall, and working out your IP address so you can give it out to your listeners.

Configuring your firewall

If you are using a software firewall such as Zone Alarm, it's dead simple to configure. Basically, you just run the Windows Media Encoder and click the Start Encoding button. When you do this your firewall should prompt you asking if you will allow the connections. Just choose YES to all the questions. It needs access to the Internet, as well as needs to run as a server.

If you have a hardware firewall such as one that is built into your ADSL modem/router, then it gets a little more complicated. What you need to do is go into the configuration of the modem/router, and find the section labeled Firewall. In that section you'll be able to configure firewall rules to either Allow and Deny connections. The section may be called something similar to packet filter. Consult your manual to find out exactly where you need to make the changes.

Once you've located the correct section, you'll need to configure it so that the source ports range from 0 to 65535. The destination port range should be 8080 to 8080 if you followed my tutorial. Ensure Inbound and Outbound traffic is also allowed.

Note, some modem/routers might already have port 8080 configured. If your modem/router does already have this configured, then ignore the above because it sounds like you're already configured to allow the necessary connections.

How to connect to the broadcast

The URL to give to people is mms://:8080 where is whatever your public IP address happens to be. You need to ensure it's the address your ISP gives you, since people from the Internet will be connecting to it. If you aren't sure what your IP address is, you can get your IP address by visiting a site on the internet such as As soon as the site loads, your IP address will be at the top of the page in huge print. Simply replace with the actual IP address and your done.

Ensure you don't use the brackets in the URL though. It should look like mms:// except use your IP address.

That's it. I hope your head didn't explode

The only thing left to do now is adjust your audio source levels so that the audio meter stays mainly in the green. You can experiment by connecting to the stream yourself, and by putting the mms URL above into your browser's address bar and pressing enter. Your Windows Media Player should open and try and connect to the broadcast.

Note: If you aren't able to connect to the broadcast, only play with the firewall settings, and not the encoder. Ensure you have the START ENCODING button pressed on the encoder to ensure its running. If all has gone well, you should be listening to your broadcast over the Internet. Give that URL out to your visitors.

To increase the maximum number of direct connections

1. In Registry Editor, use the tree view to navigate to the following subkey:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSoftwareMicrosoftWindows Media ToolsEncoderMaxClientConnections

2. Edit the subkey so that it reflects the maximum number of direct connections you want to allow. The maximum possible number is 50.

Caution Incorrectly editing the registry can severely damage your system. Before making changes to the registry, you should back up any valued data on the computer.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.