The demise of Keyboard Magazine, after 42 years

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Keyboard Magazine will cease to exist as a publication, after having been continuously published since 1975. And this isn’t just another “print is dead” footnote. Keyboard was the publication that defined commercial writing about electronic musical instruments. And whatever the logic behind the decision, the demise of Keyboard says something about the state of both publishing and electronic music production – and its absence will be felt.

Keyboard will be rolled into Electronic Musician, with only the EM name surviving. Gino Robair will continue as editor-in-chief of EM.

This is truly the end of an era – an era Keyboard itself began.

Originally, electronic musical instruments were the domain of electronics publications for hobbyists and similar enthusiast magazines. That’s how Bob Moog’s Theremin design came to appear in 1954 in something dubbed Radio and Television News. Keyboard wasn’t the first dedicated publication to cover the field of electronic musical instruments. The first publication of some significance was Electronic Music Review, a somewhat informal and wonky quarterly begun in the late 60s right in the R.A. Moog plant itself. That publication hosted articles by the likes of Stockhausen and Berio alongside Carlos and Moog – a reminder of how experimental early synthesizer use tended to be.

It’s almost hard to remember in the Internet-saturated age just how different the world in which the synthesizer came into being was. Academia had access to the cutting edge; hobbyist publications covered simple circuits. But there was nowhere for bleeding edge technology to come together with popular musical practice; nowhere where musicians and tech might easily overlap.

This is how Electronic Music Review announced its intentions back in 1967. (Source.)

This is how Electronic Music Review announced its intentions back in 1967. (Source.)

So just as it mattered that Moog eventually shipped the Minimoog with a keyboard, it was ground-breaking that Keyboard was, from the start, a commercial endeavor with widespread appeal. This was the first publication to go into real circulation, the first with glossy ads.

Minimoog, as seen in the September '79 issue. Just the Moog ad archive alone is something to see - and it's basically all from Keyboard/Contemporary Keyboard.

Minimoog, as seen in the September ’79 issue. Just the Moog ad archive alone is something to see – and it’s basically all from Keyboard/Contemporary Keyboard.

Oh yeah – the ads. Advertising isn’t something people outside of publishing tend to talk about, except when they’re annoyed. But do an image search online for vintage synths, and spot how many of the advertisements you’ll find are from Keyboard. Some of these are, quite frankly, beautiful. There are futuristic images of luscious keyboards floating in space; full-page and double-page spreads.

Keyboard was defined by advertising. It covered the expanded full-time staff, and made a platform where rock stars wanted to be featured. It filled the pages between articles with lust-inducing electronics shots. As much as people talk ad blockers and complain about editorial independence, how many of you reading this spent time pouring over every page of Keyboard – every editorial word, every ad, alike? This is the lifeblood that allowed Keyboard to rise above a simple manufacturer-made hobbyist publication with a few hundred readers, like the wondrous but obscure Electronic Music Review. And it was the lifeblood that virtually everyone who ever worked on the publication imagined would someday run out – and mean the end of the publication.

(What you now know as Electronic Musician had a similarly humble origin story to EMR – as Polyphony, published by PAiA Electronics. That’s why Keyboard, not EM, gets the credit in synthesizer history for originating the mainstream publication as a genre.)

I mention ads because I think only those who have worked in publishing know just how much this is an industry that’s about keeping the lights on and the business rolling. It’s a struggle. It’s doubly so in print, because print requires the outlay of capital to print the publication. And advertising payments in print don’t happen immediately, either – meaning the whole business endeavor begins with a significant cash flow challenge.

In print, you can add to that challenge corporate consolidation – both the distribution apparatus that gets publications into people’s hands (as at the newsstand at your airport), and the companies that publish the magazines.

I trust Gino Robair of all people to continue the heritage of Keyboard in EM. At the same time, it’s worth reflecting on the loss of a publication with a particular angle. That angle was right in the name – what was first awkwardly titled in 1975 Contemporary Keyboard.

keyboardcover

Keyboard was a magazine for keyboardists. The publication always had some challenges in popular tastes in that regard – the keyboard as an instrument tends to come in and out of bands. But in losing Keyboard, you risk losing everything that went with it – including those articles about keyboard technique and excerpts of sheet music.

And I think that’s significant in and of itself. The economics of music gear publishing tend to pull us away from technique generally, and from musical instrumental technique in particular. If we aren’t careful, the gear may push the artist right off the cover; “how to sound like…” takes place of how to play.

Keyboard was most awkward because of this mission, perhaps, but also most meaningful. Wendy Carlos could talk composition; Herbie Hancock could talk about playing. I wrote an obituary once for Andrew Hill.

The future of the keyboard, of course, is now as uncertain as that of Keyboard. And I know some people have eloquent arguments for why synthesizers shouldn’t necessarily be chained to keyboards as input devices – or, by extension, to musical genres that prefer those keyboards. But if you forget about the keys and think about the human hands that touch them, Keyboard at its best was about what those hands were doing, too.

There’s actually too much of Keyboard over these decades for this to be a proper obituary. For that, I’d turn to colleagues who spent a lot more time than I did at the publication.

What I will say is that CDM, and my career, likely wouldn’t exist without Keyboard. In addition to Chris Breen at Macworld, Ernie Rideout at Keyboard gave me my start and got me hooked on writing in this field. Stephen Fortner continued to be a great partner to work with on some tremendous stories, including the cover story that marked the Minimoog’s 40th anniversary. I got to know Jim Aikin, a veteran of Keyboard back to the 70s, who was the toughest and most important editor I ever had. Somehow, Jim put up with me through the 600-page Real World Digital Audio and saved it. (Now, bizarrely, people are reading it in its Polish translation – so Jim, you’ve helped with that, too, unwittingly.) And Francis Preve, who has been a particular inspiration to me and early on honed in on the modern state of electronic production for the publication, I met thanks to the magazine, too.

That’s my own history. Synthesizer history is also tied up in this publication, one in which Kate Bush was a cover, Wendy Carlos was a voice, and Bob Moog had a byline.

These fragile projects bring people together, in ways that are nearly impossible to predict or even describe. And yes, often someone out there is reading, and that leads people places too.

So, now things are changing. And to think that positive change is easy and inevitable, or indeed that change is ultimately positive, is incredibly naive.

Whether it’s Gino at EM, or any of our colleagues, or me, all of us in music technology face some real challenges and rapid changes. Audiences, technology, and the business of publishing are all changing at tremendous speed, and all present major uncertainties looking forward.

We have to navigate those waters in order to keep telling stories about music.

And I think it’s very important that we not lose what Keyboard has represented. We need connections to musical practice and technique. We need, I believe, keyboard players. And we should even think about the power of those ads over the years, because commercial publications are, for all their flaws, what enable writers to follow their passion and readers to hear their words.

Through that weird alchemy of revenue and editorial, we have to find some way to make sure we can share stories of how humans and technology come together to make music.

Keyboard may be gone. But I hope what it accomplished can continue in new places.

Any Keyboard writers and editors wanting to help make a history, I’d love to chat. The good thing about the Internet is, content can exist separately from time – and some things can seem to live, if only in illusory fashion, forever.

A side note / plug — one slice of history I got to edit is Keyboard Magazine presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music. In it, you’ll see that Keyboard could prove its independence from advertisers – there’s an extended discussion of the early bugs in the MPC. And you’ll watch as music evolves alongside the magazine. But that’s only one tiny microcosm.

The post The demise of Keyboard Magazine, after 42 years appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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Build a Silent, Texting Doorbell With an Amazon Dash Button

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If you have dogs that tend to get riled up at the sound of a doorbell, or you’re on the phone a lot and work from a home, a chiming doorbell isn’t always ideal. Over at Initial State, they rigged up a silent doorbell that sends you a text message when someone pushes it.

The doorbell itself is an Amazon Dash button, while the software that powers it runs on a Raspberry Pi (it can run on any computer, as long as it’s always on). The idea here is as simple as it sounds: someone presses the button on the Dash, you get a text message. It’s super easy to set up, and perfect for anyone who wants a doorbell but doesn’t want the chime. You’ll find everything you need over on GitHub.

Amazon Dash Button Silent Door Bell | GitHub

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Self-driving cars could spark a cycling revolution

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cyclist dubai bike biker cycling

The
future’s bright, cyclists say.

Charlie
Crowhurst/Getty Images for Challenge
Triathlon


LONDON — David Wynter knows the risks cyclists face on the roads
as well as anyone.

The first time he was hit by a vehicle was in May 2014 in East
London, by a van making a U-turn without checking its mirrors.
“Took me five weeks to fully recover,” he said.

The second time was a little over a year later. Wynter, who is
CEO of London data management startup Yambina, collided with a
woman turning right into his lane. “Sprained my left wrist,
needed a brace on it, a few cuts and deep bruises including my
cheek where my cycling glasses cut into it.”

Most people who cycle regularly in cities have a story (or two)
like this — or at least know someone who does.

The increased popularity of cycling, heightened driver awareness,
and bike lane initiatives are helping to improve hazardous
conditions. However, it doesn’t get around the fact that many
urban areas are just hopelessly designed for cyclists and drivers
to share the road.

But some cyclists, technologists, and automobile manufacturers
are starting to eagerly look at a surprising solution:
Self-driving cars.

Some cyclists think a golden age is right around the corner

Self-driving cars, long a dream, are finally becoming a reality.
Everyone from Google to Audi, from Uber to Volkswagen, are
heavily investing in and developing the technology. The goal is
to create totally autonomous vehicles, capable of driving in
real-world conditions without any human input.

Right now, 94% of all car accidents in the US are due to human
error, according
to Google
. Roads are dangerous, and doubly so for cyclists,
who don’t have metal casing to protect them.

But self-driving tech — in theory — has significant advantages
over any human driver. It won’t tire. It won’t get bored. It
won’t be tempted to break the rules of the road. It will be able
to look in every direction simultaneously. And crucially, it will
have super-human reaction speeds.

Together, it all adds up to potential massive improvement in
safety — the kind that historically hadn’t been possible without
major urban redevelopment.
By some estimates
, self-driving cars could save 300,000 lives
a decade in the United States alone.


google self driving car mountain view cyclist biker

A
cyclist passes an early Google self-driving car in
2012

Justin Sullivan/Getty
Images


Dr. Miklós Kiss, head of predevelopment piloted systems at Audi,
thinks self-driving cars could be a boon to cyclists. It will
“make it easier for cyclists because the behavior of automated
cars will be more predictable than now,” he told Business
Insider.

Many cyclists are equally enthusiastic. “If self-driving cars are
proven safer for cyclists and pedestrians, cyclists would lay out
the red carpet and welcome the revolution with both arms,”
Andreas Kambanis, founder of biking site LondonCyclist.co.uk,
told Business Insider.


cyclists biking velodrome laura trott

Here
we go, here we go, here we go.

Alex
Livesey/Getty Images


“Just under 50% of cyclist deaths on London’s roads are caused by
HGVs, so if the technology extended there, we’d immediately
eliminate a huge danger.”

He added: “Beyond the safety aspect, self driving cars may also
be more of a pleasure to drive around, as you wouldn’t expect it
to do something erratic or to drive aggressively. This may in
turn mean more cyclists on the road as the roads will now feel
safer.”

Eli Allalouf, a director at Alyo International, used to bike
everywhere, he said. “But after my second bicycle were stolen and
too many injuries cycling on the road I have given up … I would
love to have the ability to ride my bicycle every day to work but
the risk is too high as I am a family man with kids and wife …
After a certain period of the fully automated cars I think there
will be a huge spike in cycling.”

Accounting for cyclists isn’t easy, say self-driving car
companies

However, engineers working on the technology say that learning to
deal with cyclists is throwing up unique challenges. They’re
small, fast in urban environments, and nimble — but also
relatively slow on open roads, and immensely vulnerable.

“Cyclists are more dynamic than cars. The biggest challenge is to
predict their future behavior and driving route. Cyclists can be
found on the road and on sidewalks too. Compared to cars they are
not limited to only one road space. Sometimes cyclists do not
obey traffic rules completely (red light-violators, etc.),”
Audi’s Dr. Miklós Kiss said.

“Cyclists need their own behavior prediction model as they behave
differently to car drivers and pedestrians.”

Karl Iagnemma, CEO of autonomous tech startup Nutonomy, has
encountered similar problems. “All autonomous vehicles under
development today are being designed to detect and avoid
cyclists. This requires that the sensing systems be specifically
‘trained’ to detect cyclists, and that the navigation systems be
instructed how to maneuver in the presence of cyclists.”


Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn takes a particularly dim view,
telling CNBC in January 2016 that
“one of the biggest
problems [for self-driving cars] is people with bicycles.”


google self driving car cyclist biker hand signal

Google’s
software can detect cyclists’ hand signals and use them to figure
out what the cyclist is planning to do next.

Google

“They don’t respect any rules usually,” he claimed. “The car is
confused by them, because from time-to-time they behave like
pedestrians and from time-to-time they behave like cars.”

Google, one of the most high-profile developers of the tech,
isn’t trash-talking cyclists — but recognises the difficulties
they can pose.
In its June 2016 progress report, Google’s self-driving car
team
 explained how its vehicles treat cyclists
differently (and “conservatively”) to other road users.

“For example, when our sensors detect a parallel-parked car with
an open door near a cyclist, our car is programmed to slow down
or nudge over to give the rider enough space to move towards the
center of the lane and avoid the door,” the Google team wrote.

“We also aim to give cyclists ample buffer room when we pass, and
our cars won’t squeeze by when cyclists take the center of the
lane, even if there’s technically enough space. Whether the road
is too narrow or they’re making a turn, we respect this
indication that cyclists want to claim their lane.”

And because cyclists don’t have indicator lights, the technology
has to predict cyclists’ intentions another way: By reading their
hand gestures using its in-built cameras.


uber self-driving autonomous car vehicle biker cyclist biking

An
Uber driverless Ford Fusion drives down Smallman Street on
September, 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania.

Jeff Swensen/Getty
Images


Uber’s self-driving car trials in December 2016 clearly
illustrated the dangers the tech can pose to cyclists if not
properly implemented. Its vehicles were performing a “right hook”
turn that put cyclists at serious risk —
with the San Francisco Bike Coalition calling it
“one of the
primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike
resulting in serious injury or fatality.”

Uber opted to keep its vehicles in circulation,
to the alarm of cycling advocates
, and had human drivers make
the turn manually instead. Thankfully there were no reported
injuries, and the trial was subsequently ended
after the California DMV revoked the registrations of the
vehicles
because they didn’t have a license for the tests.

Self-driving cars aren’t a reason to stop supporting cyclists


cycling bicycle die-in protest london bike

Cyclists
stage a “die-in” protest in London to raise awareness of road
safety.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty
Images


These technological challenges — while tricky — are all
theoretically surmountable. Companies like Renault-Nissan say
they want autonomous vehicles
in commercial production by 2020
.

With
over 50,000 cyclists
injured in road accidents in America in
2014 (and
another 21,000 in the UK
), that date can’t come quickly
enough.

“There will a point where the number of accidents involving cars
and cyclists will improve,” David Wynter said. “Only then will
the public feel it is safer to commute in the cities.”

However, Andreas Kambanis, from LondonCyclist.co.uk, cautions
that self-driving vehicles will not be a panacea for everything
currently wrong with cycling in cities — and must not be used as
an excuse to slack on supporting cyclists in other ways.. “There
is one big caveat to all of this. London’s roads are already
heavily congested and polluted, more cars isn’t going to solve
this problem, so the city must continue to invest in
infrastructure that considers cyclists.”

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RIP: Here are the only 4 shows Netflix has ever canceled

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marco polo

Netflix has loudly rejected the "pilot" system of TV, instead ordering full seasons of shows before any of them air.

And since it began releasing original shows in 2013, Netflix has stuck by a remarkably high percentage of them for subsequent seasons. But even Netflix knows sometimes you have to cut your losses.

So far, Netflix has canceled four shows, not including "Bloodline," which will "conclude" after season three.

The worst of the bunch for Netflix was probably "Marco Polo," which The Hollywood Reporter estimated lost Netflix a whopping $200 million. And not all of them were panned by critics; remember, what Netflix cares about most is how a show can drive new subscribers and keep old ones. 

Here are the four shows Netflix has killed, along with their critic and audience ratings from Metacritic:

‘Longmire’: Canceled after 6 seasons (3 on Netflix)

Netflix description: "This contemporary crime thriller focuses on a Wyoming sheriff who’s rebuilding his life and career following the death of his wife."

Critic rating: 77/100

Audience rating: 9.1/100

‘Lilyhammer’: Canceled after 3 seasons

Netflix description: "They killed his dog. They made him run. Now he’s living a new life in a strange land … like a boss."

Critic rating: 68/100

Audience rating: 7.6/10

‘Hemlock Grove’: Canceled after 3 seasons

Netflix description: "A quaint town links a mangled corpse to a dark outsider with a carnivorous secret. But monsters come in many forms."

Critic rating: 37/100

Audience rating: 6.7/10

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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This mystifying metal is liquid like mercury but safe to touch with bare hands

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You definitely shouldn’t mess around with mercury, but if you want a safe, similar, tactile experience, a metal called Gallium is widely available online. It’s melting point is about 85 degrees, so with just a little heat, you can turn it from a solid, crystal-like state into a fun, reflective pile of goo. Here’s a look at a few of it’s properties and how it’s used in the real world. 

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Polaroid just reinvented its iconic camera

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Polaroid just reinvented its iconic camera

Image: lili sams/mashable

LAS VEGAS — The classic Polaroid camera just got revamped for the modern day. 

While Polaroid has previously launched instant print cameras mixed with digital such as with the Polaroid Snap, its newest project, Polaroid Pop, mashes digital and analog in a way that actually makes sense.

The digital camera features a 3.97-inch touchscreen LCD for framing shots and menu navigation. Boasting a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor, the pictures will definitely be clearer than the classic camera’s, but some things will look the same.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Polaroid is ditching its mini film for the Pop and bringing back the nostalgic 3×4” picture format most people associate with the brand. The classic border logo will fit around the picture, so aside from quality, it will look like a classic polaroid. However, the Pop uses ZINK Zero Ink paper, which is water- and tear-resistant and has a sticker back. 

The Pop is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled and can also act as a printer. So if you’ve got an Instagram on your phone that you’d like to print out, simply send it using the Polaroid Print app available for iOS and Android.

The camera has some onboard editing features, and you can edit your photos with the app, add stickers, effects and filters, and fine tune the makeup of the image, then print them out. The camera is also selfie friendly, because it’s 2017 and it features a self-timer. Additionally, the camera can record 1080p video, but we’re pretty sure you won’t be able to print that out. 

There isn’t a set price, but Polaroid is aiming for the $200 range, and plans to release it in late 2017, just in time for the holidays.

BONUS: Camera and photo printer in one: Polaroid Snap Camera hands-on review

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This Tutorial Teaches You to Blow Dry Your Long Hair for a Professionally Styled Look

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You know how your hair always looks absolutely fabulous after you step out of a salon, but as soon as you get home any chance of replicating it feels hopeless? Me, too. So here’s a way to blow dry your long, wet hair and look like you just had it professionally done.

You need a round brush along with your blow dryer to style your hair as it dries, some hair clips, and products to protect your hair from the heat, if you want. Use a towel to dry your hair and untangle it as best as you can. You don’t want the round brush getting caught. Another mistake I’ve been making all this time was not separating my hair into smaller, manageable sections for my round brush. Then my brush ends up grabbing way too much hair, making the blow drying less effective.

This seems like a ton of work at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s not so bad. Check the full video for more tips.

How to: Easy Blowout/Blowdry Routine | Alex Gaboury

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Volkwagen is adding Amazon Alexa to its cars

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Ford isn’t the only auto company adding Amazon’s Alexa to its cars — Volkswagen plans to do the same. From the quick demo I had on the CES show floor, it seems like a pretty smart pairing. VW’s Alexa-enabled cars will basically have full access to everything the Echo can do, but the company built its own skill to enable a handful of car-centric features.

For starters, you can ask Alexa to give you the status of your car. This one is more useful when you’re not actually in it, but if you’re at home you can hear about whether your car is locked or unlocked, how much fuel is left, whether it’s charing or not (if it’s an EV), and what its approximate range is. You can then ask Alexa to lock or unlock the car or even beep the horn if you need to help someone find it.

You can also ask Alexa to buy supplies for your car. Since owners have to sync their VW Car-Net accounts with Amazon to get Alexa working, that means Alexa will know exactly what kind of oil or windshield wipers work with your specific vehicle.

Naturally, Alexa can help with directions as well. If you’re at home, you can ask for a route and Alexa will tell you how long it’ll take. It then asks if you want to send that route to your car. If you say yes, it’ll be waiting for you in your navigation system all set to go. Of course, you can ask for directions in the car as well, but if you’re planning your trip before leaving home you might as well remove a step from the process once you’re behind the wheel. While you’re at it, if you’re listening to media at home, you can ask Alexa to pause it and resume it once you’re back in the car.

The last feature is one of the most useful, at least to someone like me who forgets everything. VW added location-based reminders, so you can ask your car to remind you to pick up dinner when you leave work or grab the mail when you arrive home. A VW spokesperson says that its solution is better than using location-based reminders in Android or iOS because your phone doesn’t ping the GPS often enough to reliably remind you when you’re leaving or arriving somewhere. That may be true, but I’ve never noticed my phone taking the "10 to 20 minutes" the VW spokesperson claimed it routinely takes for a smartphone to activate a location based reminder. Either way, it’s a useful addition to VW’s software.

In Amazon’s Alexa app, you’ll see everything that you’ve asked your car, just like you can see everything you ask the Echo speaker. That’s also where you’ll go to complete any shopping orders you try and place, and you can find your reminders there as well. I got a quick in-car demo of Alexa, and it’s worth noting that nothing you ask Alexa shows up on the car’s infotainment system. That makes sense, as there shouldn’t be anything there to distract you from the task of driving. But even if you’re not actually driving, your phone will remain the place to go if you want to see what’s in your cart or what reminders you set up.

VW says that there’s no timeframe yet for when Alexa will come to its cars, unfortunately, as it’s still under development. But the good news is that any VW with its Car-Net software will get Alexa eventually. The service has been around since 2013, so that’s a pretty good range of cars. Hopefully it’ll launch sooner than later — Ford says its going to begin its Alexa rollout later this month.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Source: VW

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