Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review Day

Learning the vi and Vim Editors:
vi is one of the basic text editors on the Linux operating system. I've used it for over a decade now, but learned it hodge-podge from quick tutorials and little tricks taught by other users, so I figured my productivity might improve if I actually sat down and learned it in an organized fashion. This book is clear, concise, and contains examples that are easy to play-along-at-home with. There are a few unnecessary chapters at the end, involving extensions to vi that I'll probably never use, but overall it's a decent reference text.

Final Grade: B+

Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor:
Regina Spektor came up during one of my recent Pandora listenings. My usual mode of operation is to buy the CD containing the song I like and then seeing if there's anything else good to stumble upon. In this case, I found that she teeters along the "wacky, indie" line a little too much to enjoy. There are a few tracks I like (#1, #4, #6 in the samples below), another that sounds like a skit from a crazy drama student's recital (#8), and others that sound too much like the soundtrack from Juno (#9, for example). The good thing is that the entire CD is highly musical -- it's not just a bad singer singing bad music. You can listen to online samples here.

Final Grade: B-

It's Not Me, It's You by Lily Allen:
Lily Allen's second CD is about as good as the first -- fun forgettable music in a variety of styles. She noticeably overuses major sevenths, and her songs with a social message (like "The UK has a substance abuse problem" opener) fall flat, but otherwise this is a harmless CD. You can listen to online samples here -- I enjoyed #2, #7 and #8.

Final Grade: B-

Psych?d?lices by Aliz?e:
I really enjoyed listening to this French pop star six years ago, but the honeymoon is definitely over. This isn't a particularly good CD, and one might even say that it wouldn't have been good in 2003 either. Her music hasn't changed or improved, so it feels like a recap of her old CDs, with less interesting arrangements and too much background rapping (French rappers are unintentionally amusing though). Despite this musical atrocity, Aliz?e is still welcome to costar in my movie with Rachel McAdams.

Final Grade: D

Fat family wants more benefits
Robot to hit catwalk
China's last eunuch spills secrets

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