Steve Reich is Calling: A Minimalist Ringtone for the iPhone

What if minimalist composer Steve Reich got his hands on the iPhone's familiar Marimba ringtone? That's what the website Steve Reich is Calling imagines. Here's how Jason Kottke describes the basic concept:

[Reich's] 1967 piece Piano Phase featured a pair of pianists repetitively performing the same piece at two slightly different tempos, forming a continually evolving musical round. Seth Kranzler took this idea and made a Reich-like piece with two iPhones ringing at slightly different tempos.

From what I can tell, there's not actually an official way to download the ringtone and make it your own--though it does appear that there are, indeed, ways to convert Youtube videos into ringtones. (Note: we haven't tested these methods, so proceed cautiously.)

For anyone interested in taking a deeper dive--a much deeper dive--into Reich's musical world, please see this post in our archive: Hear Steve Reich’s Minimalist Compositions in a 28-Hour Playlist: A Journey Through His Influential Recordings.

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via Kottke

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Stanford University Launches Free Course on Developing Apps with iOS 10

Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, Stanford University eventually releases a course telling you how to develop apps in that environment. iOS 10 came out last fall, and now the iOS 10 app development course is getting rolled out this quarter. It's free online, of course, on iTunes.

You can now find "Developing iOS Apps with Swift" housed in our collection of Free Computer Science Courses, which currently features 117 courses in total, including some basic Harvard courses that will teach you how to code in 12 weeks.

As always, courses from other disciplines can be found on our larger list, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Watch an Epic, 4-Hour Video Essay on the Making & Mythology of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

If you’re like me, every little bit of information doled out for the upcoming third season of Twin Peaks is like a series of clues found along a dark path through the Ghostwood National Forest. We’ve seen brief views of some major characters. We’ve heard Angelo Badalamenti confirm he’s back to score the series. We picked up and speed read the Mark Frost-written Secret History. We know that it will be 18 hours of pure David Lynch and Mark Frost, and that whatever it may do, it won’t go all wonky and not-so-good like the terrible trough in the middle of Season Two. And now we have a date for the premiere: May 21.

So it’s not time to brew coffee, or put a cherry pie in the oven, just yet. Instead, it’s time to bone up on the series itself and ask ourselves, is Twin Peaks a failed series that needs to be rectified? Or if Lynch and Frost had never agreed to revisit their iconic work, would we still have a cohesive work?


Video essayist Joel Bocko says yes, and has made what is probably the definitive and most thorough analysis of the series out there on the web.

I first stumbled across Journey Through Twin Peaks one night, and thinking that it was only one short video essay I started watching. My mistake: episode one was only the first in a 28-chapter series that totaled over four hours, arranged in four parts. And, yes, I sat and watched the whole damn thing.

Bocko is good, real good. This is not uncritical fan worship. This is a man, like many of us, who fell in love with the transcendent heights of the show and suffered through its miserable lows, but, through that misery, figured out what made the show such a game-changer.

One important thing Bocko does is give Mark Frost his due. Usually hidden behind the art and the mythos of Lynch, Frost brought much to the show, from the detective procedural framework to themes of the occult and Theosophy. Bocko shows how Lynch came out of the Twin Peaks experience with a completely different and much more complex idea of character. Before Peaks, Lynch’s work saw good and evil existing not just on opposite sides of the spectrum, but as different characters. (Think of Blue Velvet.) In the films he makes afterwards, doppelgangers, fugue states, and self-negation, along with the spiritual confusion that come with it, are central to Lynch’s work.

But that’s just one of the many insights waiting for you in this rewarding analytical work, which also takes in Fire Walk With Me and Mulholland Dr. through to Inland Empire. Suffice it to say, it’s full of spoilers, so proceed with caution.

On the other hand, if you don’t have time before the premiere, you can always watch the first season in under a minute here.

via Welcome to Twin Peaks

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Maya Angelou Reads Her Poem, “The Human Family,” in New iPhone Ad Released for the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony

It’s always demoralizing when a favorite song---Iggy Pop’s "Lust for Life" or the Rolling Stones’ "Brown Sugar" come to mind---is co-opted to sell soda or Caribbean cruises.

Poetry, however? I’m not ungrateful to have some smuggled into my day by a commercial carrier whose agenda is somehow less suspect. Would that we lived in a world where the poetry of Ted Hughes or Emily Dickinson might be seen as having the power to sell viewers on a particular brand of pizza or automobile.

It almost seems we do, given the response to "The Human Family,” a new Apple spot showcasing the iPhone’s camera capabilities with a slideshow of portraits submitted by users the world round. The images---already captivating---are made more so by the unmistakeable voice of the late Maya Angelou, whose poem, "The Human Family,” supplies both title and inspiration.

It’s very stirring, as befits an ad debuting during the Olympics' opening ceremony. (I weep that the Super Bowl failed to make the Dr. Angelou commercial parodies of yore a reality.)

The one-minute spot shaves a bit off the poem, but perhaps it is okay to leave a bit behind as a reward for viewers moved to look it up on their own.

The complete text is here. Below, find a non-Apple-sponsored video that matches the same narration to a slideshow featuring the author at various stages of life. The reading will be added to our collection, 900 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

via Adweek

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her latest script, Fawnbook, is available in a digital edition from Indie Theater Now.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

U2’s Album Songs of Innocence Released for Free on iTunes Today

free u2 album on itunes

Apple had lots of big announcements today -- a new watch, a new iPhone, and payment system. But wait, there's more! On its big day, Apple also announced that anyone with an iTunes account can download for free Songs of Innocence, U2's first album in 5 years. The album will remain free on iTunes until October 13, 2014, after which time it will be released on CD and maybe vinyl. You can access the album in several ways.

1.) On your iOS device, go to the Music app and select the Albums tab. Select Songs of Innocence. Tap a track to listen or tap the iCloud icon to download.

2.) On your Mac or PC, open iTunes, then select the Albums tab. Select Songs of Innocence. Select a track to listen or click the iCloud icon to download.

3.) On any of your devices, go to Featured Stations and select Songs of Innocence to listen. Starting September 10.

If you have any issues finding the free download, you might want to look through some of the troubleshooting suggestions found on this page.

Developing iOS 7 Apps for iPhone and iPad: A Free Online Course by Stanford

ios7

FYI: Apple officially released iOS7,  the latest operating system for the iPhone and iPad, on September 18. Almost simultaneously, Stanford began offering a course teaching students how to design apps in the new environment. Although the course is still in progress, the initial video lectures are now available online, you guessed it, on iTunesU.

This course, along with other top-flight coding courses, appears in the Computer Science section of our big collection of 775 Free Online Courses, where you'll also find courses on PhilosophyHistoryPhysics and other topics.

Looking for tutorials on building apps in Android? Find them here.

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Steve Jobs on the Rise of the Personal Computer: A Rare 1990 Interview

In early 1990 Steve Jobs granted a very rare interview to the makers of a PBS NOVA miniseries called The Machine that Changed the World.

The producers of the series had a tough time getting Jobs to talk with them. They had already interviewed Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and most of the other founding fathers of the personal computing revolution, but the reclusive Jobs brushed off all requests. "As we started the series," writes Nancy Linde at the NOVA Web site, "we were warned time and time again. 'You 'll never get Steve Jobs on camera.'"  After multiple requests, Jobs finally replied with a terse "No, thank you." Linde continues:

But we had an ace up our sleeve by the name of Robert Noyce. A legend in the computer world as the co-inventor of the microchip and co-founder of Intel, Bob Noyce was a strong supporter of The Machine That Changed the World and served on our advisory board. Like most in Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs revered Bob Noyce, and a one-paragraph letter from Noyce changed Jobs' "no" into a "yes," giving our series one of a limited number of interviews Steve Jobs gave in his short lifetime.

At the time of the interview, Jobs was 35 years old and about midway through his 11-year exile from Apple. He was working with NeXT, the computer company he founded after being pushed out of Apple in 1985. In keeping with the theme of the miniseries, the interview deals mostly with the big picture. Jobs talks about the role of the computer in human life, and about the emergence and evolution of personal computing. He tells the story of how he and his early friend Wozniak (referred to in the interview as "Woz") turned a hobby into a business and developed the Apple I and Apple II computers. He very briefly touches on the first two drivers of the personal computing revolution -- spreadsheets and desktop publishing -- before talking at length about the revolution that was yet to come: networked computing. The World Wide Web had barely been created in 1990, and Jobs is fairly prescient in his predictions of how the linking of computers would change the world.

The interview is presented above in raw form. You can read a transcript of the conversation at the WGBH Web site.

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