Growing up in Toronto was actually quite fun, especially when it came to music — every night of every weekend another big act was in town, and as a high school student with a solid part-time job and bulletproof fake I.D. I saw a lot of great shows. Even now when I visit one of the first things I do is grab a NOW magazine and look at the concert listings.
Thanks to HearWhere — a new website developed by Whistler’s own Pete Field — those listings are easier than ever to browse.
HearWhere is essentially a live music search engine that determines where you’re located geographically and then scans MySpace pages to generate a list of bands playing within driving distance. Clicking on a show will generate a map showing how to get the concert venue, samples of songs posted on MySpace, links to purchase their albums from Amazon.com, blog reviews of albums and concerts, and if applicable a link to the ticket vendor.
The beta test website is all about what’s playing when and where, but Field plans to add a band search feature where you can find out where your favourites are playing next — as someone who has driven as far as Portland to see bands, it’s a welcome addition.
Other concert listing databases than MySpace may also be added, but in his experience Field has found that most bands have pages and update the information frequently.
You can also customize your searches, searching by city, range, genre, and dates. That’s not as crucial for a smaller town like Whistler, but cities like Montreal and Toronto can generate thousands of search results.
Field calls the site a weekend project.
“The idea came from a few different things,” he said. “First of all I already had all the MySpace data for connecting artists for another project, and looking at it I saw that you could use that to go looking for concerts. Also, the Pemberton Festival’s main page had a LastFM player on there, and I could never get it to work because it didn’t have all the artists or music. From there it was a weekend project to put together a site that connects artists to the shows their playing, that you can search and use to play music.”
The test version is up now at www.hearwhere.com, and the next version should be up in a few weeks once it’s been tested. Field is also adding the ability to browse HearWhere by web-enabled cell phones. Which leads us to…
Android… still no iPhone killer
People who paid good money, and will continue to pay good money the next three years for their Apple iPhones can rest easy — the first phone built with Google Android is not going to take over the title as the coolest gadget for a little while yet.
That may seem like an unfair assessment as Google Android — essentially a software platform and graphic interface for cell phones — and the first T-Mobile G1 phone built for this platform are superior in a lot of ways. It has all the features of iPhone, like a touch screen interface, wireless, 3G cellular capability, GPS capability, a propriety music player, built-in accelerators that respond to tilt motions, and support for a dizzying number of applications available at the Google Android store for free or nominal fees.
Some of the features include a sliding screen that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard, built-in Google Maps support (including Street View), and Android itself — an open platform that can offer so much more than the iPhone Apps store. It also has a three megapixel camera compared to the iPhone’s two megapixel camera, but neither will work as a camcorder at this stage.
Other phones by Samsung and LG, leaders in technology these days, will probably offer even more.
But while Google Android probably is superior to the iPhone, it does have issues. The screen is slightly smaller, it doesn’t have the equivalent of iTunes or the iTunes store, or synchronized email or calendar features, or the simplicity that makes Apple the winner in this round of computing.
It’s complicated — Google Android is software by Google, the G1 is hardware by HTC. You just can’t buy a Google Android the same way you can buy an iPhone.
Also, iPhone is expensive but it’s one-size-fits-all — wait until there are five Google Android phones on the market, and dozens of choices for phone and data plans to choose from. Google Android doesn’t cost anything, but you’ll have to buy a phone and a plan separately, and right now that costs about the same as the iPhone.
And while Google will probably have more applications to choose from, Apple is somewhat picky about what third-party products they’ll allow into their store. Everything connected to the phone meets a certain standard, or is supposed to — MobileMe was a bit of a disaster, but apparently it’s been fixed.
Website of the Week
I used to be good at strategy games at one point in my life, but this latest find has me stumped. It’s called Light-Bot, and while the instructions are in German it’s pretty easy to figure out how it works. Solving the puzzles, essentially dragging and dropping command lines, gets to be very difficult after you solve the first few. Visit www.gameroo.nl/games/light-bot.