NYC's Best Soup Dumplings

Dale Talde’s Rice & Gold in Chinatown serves New York City’s best soup dumplings.

You may remember Talde as a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef (Season 4: Chicago). He runs a handful of restaurant in the New York City area, including Rice & Gold in Chinatown.

What makes Rice & Gold’s soup dumplings stand out is that they are filled with pho. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with complex aromatic flavors. Rice & Gold dumpling broth was bright and fresh. It added an unparalleled depth to the dumplings’ taste.

Other NYC dumplings worth considering: Joe's Shanghai and Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao. For a no frills, no nonsense, and an unexpected frozen-to-go option there’s White Bear. Looking for a classy soup dumpling? Evidently Shanghai Cuisine 33 serves a black truffle broth. And then there are the trendy offerings like Drunken Dumpling’s jumbo dumplings.

Pro tip: when it comes to Drunken Dumplings you may want to stick with the standard sized items. The soup to filling to skin ratio is a little off on the jumbo ones and you can wind up with nothing left but an awkward amount of dough.

Podcast recommendationS

Every month or so the topic of which podcasts to listen to comes up, and it’ll just be easier if I can direct people to this post rather than having to re-type this every time. All of the following podcasts are available for free on iTunes. Recommendations (in mostly alphabetical order):

99% Invisible is a show about design made by Radiotopia. I found it on one of those best 100 podcasts you should be listening to right now type of lists. The first episode I listened to was about the basketball shot clock. Now if you don’t know anything about me, you may not know that I don’t really care one way or another about sports (lolsports as the saying goes). However, I was pulled in to the story quickly. It was interesting, and engaging, and made me think about the sport in a new light. That’s pretty much all I needed. If you can get me to care about the basketball shot clock, I’m definitely on board for everything from the episode about Vexillologists (people who study flags), and the Octothorpe (#Octothorpe you’ll get it). Roman Mars is an independent radio producer who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on Kickstarter to be able to provide his team with full time work and benefits. He created Radiotopia which produces a tons of shows. I haven't listened to most of them, but I expect them all to be high quality. They're pretty niche topics, so you may have to grab a bunch and just give them a shot.

It’s a true crime story about Providence, Rhode Island. It features some really colorful characters (and voices). Within the first minute of the first episode, it made me go “wait, what? I gotta hear this.” Just know that they use recreated sounds. Somebody might say “so I cocked my shotgun,” and then you’ll hear a gun being cocked, or “the door squeaked,” and then you’ll hear a squeaky door. It’s mostly fine, although at times I did find it distracting. You just have to surrender to the notion that that’s the kind of universe they built to tell this story. Personally, I felt like some of the episodes were stretched a little too long and could’ve been tightened up, but I realize that they have to tell the story in a way that factors in an audience that’s doing the dishes or only mostly paying attention to what’s playing through their speakers.

I’m breaking alphabetical order and grouping these two together, because Radiolab and This American Life are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to story telling and audio production. This American Life ranges from fiction story (which I pretty much skip over) to in depth reporting. These episodes blew me away: Trends with Benefits, Harper High School part 1 and part 2, and Tarred and Feathered. There really is an array of stories, most of which are non-fiction. Radiolab... I’m not even going to try and describe. Here is how they bill themselves: “Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” Episodes you can start with: Detective Stories, Speedy Beet, Sleep, 60 Words, Nukes, Neither Confirm Nor Deny, Bliss, In the Valley of the Shadow of Doubt (which I’m pretty sure they updated in their Truth Warriors episode, but I wouldn’t necessarily start there). Clearly, I could go on. Radiolab episodes resonate with me.

As you probably guessed from the title, it’s a Radiolab spinoff (created by Jad Abumrad). It’s a show about the Supreme Court. Did you know that the current reading of the second amendment starts with the Black Panthers? Curious about the history of the Supreme Court and how it ruled in the past on issues including freedom of speech, jury selection, and Gerrymandering? This is the podcast for you.

In the first season, a reporter gets an email from someone who says a friend of hers was wrongly convicted of killing his girlfriend. Then the reporter investigates. The first season is absolutely phenomenal. Cannot recommend it enough. The story is compelling, and is told in a great way. It makes the minutia of in depth reporting riveting. That’s no small feat. Really, check out the first season. The second season... Well... It’s about Bowe Bergdahl. The reporting is still very good -- although she didn’t get to interview Bergdahl herself and the material from Bergdahl comes from a less than optimal-y recorded speaker phone -- and I made it all the way through the season, but it certainly did not hold my interest. That’s probably because that the case was widely reported on by national outlets, and while Sarah Koenig digs deep into Bergdahl and what happens to him when he was in captivity, it doesn’t change the basic premise already in print, and that she lays out in the first episode. In short, its main problem is that it lacks the built-in “did-he / didn’t-he” tension of the first season.

A reporter gets a tip about somebody bragging to have committed a murder in Alabama. He investigates (yes, much like Serial this is a This American Life spin-off). As the story unfolds, the reporter finds himself navigating amongst the colorful cast of characters that inhabit Shit-Town. One of the things that I liked about it, is that along the way the reporter is faced with ethical dilemmas and the audience gets to eavesdrop on how he wrestles with those.

 

Worth checking out:

Created by people who used to work for Radiolab and This American Life, the show bills itself as being “about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” I liked the first and second seasons. They both had some highlight episodes like How to Become Batman, Flip the Script, and The Secret Emotional Life of Clothes. For the third season they did a “concept album.” I forget exactly what they said they wanted it to be about. For the most part I remember that they opened every episode with a little vignette to introduce a topic with more or less success, and then the vignette would either disappear entirely or awkwardly be referenced 45 minutes later “and that’s exactly what we were talking about with this person we told you about that has not been relevant at all until just this sentence... awesome, no?” And it was getting preachy. I don’t think I’ll be stick around for Season 4.

If you’re into Hip Hop, you’re going to like this podcast. Chris Lighty represented acts like A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Uncle Murda and 50 Cent. The cameos from people like Warren G., Russell Simmons, and Fat Joe alone are worth taking the time to download this one.

Planet Money

It’s a podcast about the economy. I know, it sounds really dry and awful, but they usually pick a story that doesn’t necessarily appear related to economics, and then explain it through that lens. They had a series where they followed the manufacture of a T-shirt from raw cotton to delivered product, and another where they bought something like $10,000 worth of oil and followed it from well to refinery. They publish two episodes a week. One is new, the other is a re-run.

It’s similar to This American Life in that they tell compelling stories. They bill themselves as “storytelling with a beat.” The stories are shorter, so there are more per episodes. I stopped listening because on weeks when they didn’t have new episodes to share, they recycled the same five episodes that have their strongest stories. After hearing the same story for the 4th time, and not realizing it until about halfway through I came to the conclusion that it was pretty much emotional tourism. I usually had strong reaction when I listened to their stories, but intellectually they didn’t stick with me (case in point, I quickly rattled off 8 Radiolab episode recommendations that I knew by name or was able to find within seconds based on the themes of the episode, there are only two or three Snap episodes that come to mind, and I wouldn’t really know how to search for them). It’s not like the podcast would come up in conversations, whereas I somewhat frequently say things like “oh, this reminds me of a story I heard on Radiolab or This American Life.” Oh, and once you start listening to Serial, you are going to want to get all your friends to listen to it to, because you’re going to want to talk about it.

Phish fans only. This is Tom Marshall’s podcast. I started listening to it because Relix (or Jambase, or Jambands) mentioned that he had Trey on talking about how they build set lists. He also touches on song lyrics, and how they came about, which is always interesting. He interviews people that go from really close to Phish to the periphery of the scene. Musicians like Holly Bowling, and Jake Huffman have been on. The show is not without its problems, but as far as style and presentation Marshall seems to be making better decisions as he goes. So that’s good. My main problem with it is that Marshall sometimes forget to explain things to the audience. I mean, I get it. It’s a podcast for Phish fans, so you can assume a fair amount of knowledge, but sometimes the conversation goes on, and I’m left there like... I have no idea what these two are talking about.

  • You Must Remember Manson

These episodes about Charles Mason were originally created as part of You Must Remember This, and they were re-released as a stand alone podcast after Manson’s death. Vox calls it One of the best examinations of Charles Manson (which is how I found out about this podcast in the first place). It’s important to know that this series was created as part of another entity so that you don’t go in there with erroneous expectations. YMRT is a podcast about the “secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century,” so the Manson story is told through that lens, which means you end up with long sidebars about the career and love life of Doris Day for what seems like no good reason. I’m only about halfway through as of this writing. I do have some criticisms. It’s presented in a pretty sterile way. It appears very well researched, but unlike Serial the audience is not included in the reporting so we don’t know where the information comes from. The podcast also doesn’t use a lot of sound. I mean, there’s music in the background, but for the most part it’s just the host lecturing, and then they occasionally throw in a short soundbite from a voice actor as Charles Manson.

 

Stopped listening to:

Backstory with the American History Guys: It's a history podcast. I listened to it a bunch, and it's informative, but production-wise it's just not as good as others. They explain current events through the lens of the past.

The Brian Lehrer Show: I started listening to stay up to date on local politics and current events (from NYC up to tri-state area). Along the way I came to realize the Brian Lehrer is a great interviewer and could get me interested in topics I really wouldn’t have considered. It’s a two hour show five days a week, so there’s no lack of content. I stopped listening sometime around the 2016 election when it became all Trump all the time.

Decode DC: it's a podcast by a former NPR Congressional Correspondent. She really knows her stuff. She quit her job and started the podcast because she got tired of how Congress is covered in the media, so she digs in deeper. I stopped listening around the time that the show was picked up by a new distributor and they re-released every episodes on a one episode per week basis.

The Drum: it's people reading fiction stories. I don't even like when This American Life inserts fiction stories, and those are usually pretty good.

Hidden Brain: It sounded interesting, but... I stopped listening to it pretty quickly. It describes itself as “Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.” If that sounds pretentious, that’s because it kind of is. The set ups take too long, and the story telling is clunky, and I frankly don't care for the cutesy musical wrap-up.

Marketplace from APM: I listened to it to stay current on business and economic news. Then I started working nights when there’s not so many business interviews to conduct.

The Moth: it's real people telling a real story about themselves in front of an audience. They have moth tapings throughout the country. At every event a winner is declared and that person goes on to tell that story or another at a higher lever of the competition until they get to the grand slam (or whatever they're called) and then you only have really solid story tellers left. If you go to a taping near you, most of the stories may suck. The Moth Radio Hour is curated, so it's only the best stories.

The Nerdist: Chris Hardwick (host of Talking Dead) publishes three podcasts a week. It's him and two of his friends interviewing people (Tom Hanks, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dave Grohl, Mel Brooks) and then once a week it's just him and his two friends talking (funny) shit for an hour.

The New Yorker: just came out with a weekly podcast. I liked the content but I thought the host sucked. They also had a lot of ad inserts.

On Being: Did. Not. Like. This. At. All.

TED Radio Hour: It's interesting in that TED Talks cover a wide range of topics, but it's a guy interviewing the TED talker about their TED Talks and then playing clips from it. TED Talks are like 20 minutes long... This stretches it to an hour. Now I can't remember if they only do one talk per episode or three... In any case... Seems to me like you could just play the damn TED talks...

Science Friday: It's a weekly show on NPR. They cover interesting topics, but at the end of the day it's pretty dry because it's a talk show about science. Unlike Radiolab or Invisibilia that pull you into the story, it's just people having a conversation about a scientific topic, so it's not as engaging.

StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson: It's an interesting podcast about science and space. They also have a lot of ads. It's usually NdT a comic, and a scientist talking about random science stuff and then they insert clips from interviews NdT has done with prominent people (Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton) and then NdT's guests talk about what that person said. Format's a little wonky, but it's pretty fun.

Surprisingly Awesome: I first heard about it when part of an episode they were working on ran on another Gimlet Media show that was recommended to me by a friend of mine. As part of.. I think it was StartUp they discussed audio editing and story building, and as part of it they ran audio from pitch meetings they were having for an episode of Surprisingly Awesome. And it was an interesting episode, so I started listening to it, but a few episodes in I started feeling like they were trying too hard.

WTF! hosted by Marc Maron: It’s pretty much one of the pioneers when it comes to interview podcasts. I never gave it too much a chance. To give you an idea of how popular it is, he's had Obama on (when Obama was a sitting president).

Story of the Day 03/21/2014

This one's got a little bit of everything. Ancient technology, aliens (well, at least one Extra-Terrestrial anyways), and a rumored treasure buried deep in the New Mexico desert that would make even Terry Pratchett's Dwarfs do a double take. The rumor is so widespread it even made the pages of Snopes.com.

As the legend goes, Atari buried five million unsold copies of the video game E.T. in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

If you've never heard of the game, it's probably because it's widely reported as the worst game of all times. A quick Google search returned it as the winner of the dubious honor from PC World's The 10 Worst Games of All Time in 2006. TheTopTens® has it second only to Superman 64.

Well, today, the Associated Press reports that Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive are "seeking to excavate" the old Alamogordo landfill "despite [New Mexico] environmental regulators' concerns."

So, two companies are going to go dig through some trash all the way out in New Mexico -- at  cost to themselves and possibly the local environment -- just because there's a chance they may find more copies of the video game than anybody could possibly be interested in.

Boggles the mind.

Story of the Day 03/19/2014

From deep in the heart of Texas.

Remember Johnny Quinn? The US Olympic bobsledder who found himself locked in his hotel bathroom in Sochi and had to bust down the door to get out? 

Besides creating a trendy hashtag (#quinning), the tweet also inspired a Texas police department to invite Quinn to learn the proper way to bust down a door. The invitation was first reported February 12th by news outlets like NBC's Today and KXAS (their local affiliate in Dallas Fort Worth), and other outlets.

Well, Wednesday, the Olympian actually learned the proper way to break on through to the other side, and much more. You can see the full video report from CBS 11, the CBS affiliate in Dallas Fort Worth.  

The Denton Police Department also posted photos of the training on their Facebook page in an album entitled: Johnny Quinn SWAT Training.

Story of the Day 03/10/2014

This one comes from WWL Radio in New Orleans.

Louisiana has apparently such an overpopulation of feral hogs that it's become a problem. How big a problem? Well, big enough that the "state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana."

If that sentence conjures up images of Stanley Kubrick's 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, rest assured, it won't be quite that awesome. Bo Boehringer, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the hogs won't be sniped from afar with mounted machine guns.

The tech is very close range, with shotguns - no high-powered rifles.

Just for kicks... Here's the classic scene that popped in my mind when I first heard about this story. Oh, and if more of an Apocalypse Now type of person, don't worry. I'm sure there'll be plenty of opportunities for a hunter to yell they love the smell of feral hog carcasses in the morning.

New Year's Resolution: Pro Tips

   The view of the sun is partially obscured by Earth as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Mar. 11, 2013, at 2:20 a.m. EDT. Credit: NASA/SDO

The view of the sun is partially obscured by Earth as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Mar. 11, 2013, at 2:20 a.m. EDT. Credit: NASA/SDO

Happy (albeit belated) new year.  Along with celebrations, rejoicing, and forgetting of old acquaintance comes renewed resolution – which is all too often met by a committee of haters. In the last week I've lost count of the number of stories I've seen or heard dooming your new year's resolution.

Keep in mind, a new year's resolution is nothing more than a goal in disguise. The only difference is that a resolution bears added societal pressure because it's a widespread ritual. So, here's my number one tip to keep your new year's resolution. Just don't tell people about it. Better to set your mind on something and do it for yourself. It's like quitting smoking in that regards.

If you tell all your friends you're quitting smoking, you're unlikely to get support from your smoking friends (if they don't outright try to sabotage you), and you'll catch endless flak from  both smokers and non-smokers the first time they see you light up. A barrage of disparagement doesn't help. It doesn't allow for any moments of weakness.

Life happens and sometimes it'll make sticking to your resolution downright difficult. A resolution doesn't have to die if you fail to follow it for one day. There's no reason it can't be picked up again the next day. You're much more likely to pick the goal back up if you've decided to do it for yourself and haven't been made out to feel like a total dill-hole by everybody you know. 

Now, you still have to keep yourself honest. It's all too easy to rationalize the above into never getting anything done. A good way of doing that is to keep track of how you're doing day in and day out by keep a log or a journal.

It also helps if you narrow the focus of your resolution. "Working out" is a very broad concept. It's easier to follow something more specific like deciding to run a certain distance / amount of time. Or, picking certain exercises or body parts you want to focus on. The goal should also be attainable. If you haven't gotten off the couch in the last decade, you'd only be setting yourself up for failure if you set your eyes on running a marathon. 

"Going to the gym" is not a much better resolution. As with "working out" it's too generic. "Going to the gym" also entails actually going to the gym. That includes paying out a bunch of money for a membership, and then commuting to and from the place before or after work. It's hours of time and effort that need to be dedicated to the goal. There's nothing stopping you from doing push-ups and sit-ups in the comforts of your own home, and YouTube is chock-full of exercise videos you can stream for absolutely free.

And if you haven't gotten started on your resolution yet? Don't worry, it's not too late. January 1st is only a date on the Gregorian calendar. You can literally be above it and sync up your resolution to cosmic events. Today just happens to be perihelion.  

By the way, if you like space, astronomy, or Neil Tyson you should probably check out his weekly podcast: StarTalk Radio.

Quinn Sullivan: a video profile

Quinn Sullivan is a guitar prodigy.

Born in New Bedford, Mass. in 1999, Quinn Sullivan showed an interest in music (and specifically The Beatles) very early. It wasn't long after his first guitar lesson that he made his first TV appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In 2007, when he was only 8 years old, Blues legend Buddy Guy invited him on stage (as Guy is often known to do), but when he did, Guy had no idea what he was about to witness.

Since that encounter, Sullivan has become Buddy Guy's Protégé, and has been touring with him whenever it didn't conflict too much with his class schedule.

Quinn Sullivan released his debut album: Cyclone, in February 2011. I met Quinn Sullivan in his native New Bedford home for an interview that March.

Since the interview, Sullivan has become an official Fender artist and continues touring with Buddy Guy. He's gone on to meet and play with even more guitar greats, that includes a billing on Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which earned him a feature in Rolling Stones Magazine.

In June 2013, he released his second album: Getting There

With every passing year Quinn Sullivan's playing is only getting better, and it's exciting to think of how much farther he can go.

The McLovins: a video profile

The McLovins started as a three piece band in 2008. They describe themselves as specializing "in the creation of dynamic and improvised sound, influenced by the members' disparate and eclectic musical influences." In the tradition of improvisational bands like the Grateful Dead, The McLovins allow the recording and sharing of their live performances. Most of their shows can be found on the Internet Archive.

The Connecticut based trio quickly gained notoriety after posting a video of themselves covering Phish's "You Enjoy Myself" on YouTube. In 2009 they performed at their first music festival, Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Conn.

By 2011, they had created a loyal fan base in the North East by appearing at festivals like StrangeCreek, Gathering of the Vibes, and Nateva. The buzz around them grew to such an extent that they begin collaborating with Phish lyricist Tom Marshal, and Spin Doctors guitarist Anthony Krizan.

In March 2011, I interviewed the band before their show at The Main Pub in Manchester, Conn.

As seen on Jambands.com and FARK.com.

Since the interview, The McLovins went through a line up change. Guitarist Jeff Howard left the band, and was replaced by Justin Berger and Atticus Kelly.

Jeff Howard's last show was December 30th, 2011 at Pearl Street in Northampton, Mass. It was a great way for Howard to say good bye. If you listen to the show, you'll find that the audio's a little raw because the acoustics of the place weren't super conducive to recording, but the music still stands out. Jeff Howard went all out, playing what seemed like every song he had ever thought about teasing, much to the delight of the members of the crowd who picked up on those. Unfortunately, the band played so long they were denied an encore by the venue's staff. Fans never got to find out what the band had in mind as a farewell Jeff song.

With their new line up The McLovins continue to explore new directions and extend the reach of their fan base. They even appeared on ESPN. In 2012, they were SportsNation's house band for four weeks.

This year, the AURA Music and Arts Festival in Live Oak, Florida, ran a fan contest to find a band for the festival's opening slot. The McLovins beat out the competition, and then ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds so they could attend.

In July they performed at Gathering of the Vibes for the fifth consecutive year. Their set included very special guests like Grant's Tomb's Horn Section and The Funky Meters' bassist George Porter Jr.

Their willingness to take risks on stage -- which is evident when you look at some of the covers they tackle -- will no doubt continue to make them an exciting band to watch in years to come.

Below is the recently released official music video for "8 Dogs" a  track off of their upcoming fourth album: Beautiful Lights.

Streaming your music remotely: Google Music vs iTunes Match

Whether you've run out of space on your iPod, want to access all of your music from your smart phone (or tablet), or want to create an online backup of your music library, this post is for you.

I first started looking into this when I maxed out my 120GB iPod, and was trying to see if there was a way I could access my iTunes library directly from my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Spoiler alert, there isn't. However, there are options to work around that.

Personally I went with Google Music. I think it's not only the most flexible, but it also happens to be free.

iTunes Match

  • $25 a year
  • 25,000 songs
  • iOS app and iTunes access only
  • Unrestricted downloads from iTunes. No downloads from the web
  • iTunes Radio

Google Music

  • Free (or $9.99 per month for All Access)
  • 20,000 songs
  • Android app + web access
  • Unrestricted downloads from Google Manager + limited downloads from web
  • Google Radio (All Access only)

Now for a review that's good and thorough (like Maude's doctor)... 

Google Play Music

Google Music allows you to upload your music to Google's servers and then access it remotely from your smart phone (or tablet) or any computer with internet access.

The service is free (although you can opt into a premium service for $9.99 a month, but more on this later), and you can upload up to 20,000 of your songs.

Once your music is uploaded you'll be able to access it from any computer with web access, and you'll be able to sync it to up to 10 Android devices through Google's "Play Music" app.

This is where the flexibility comes in. You can use Google Music on iOS devices as well through your device's browser by going to: play.google.com/music you'll just have to login using your Google account. So, if you have both iOS and Android devices Google Music offers a great advantage over iTunes Match, since it can be accessed from both platforms for free.

The upload time will depend on how many files you want to upload, and how big each file is. However, be prepared for it to take a while. If Google has a copy of a song or an album in you've selected to upload, it'll automatically add it to your Google Music library, bypassing the upload process for that song or album. In my case, to upload 15,000 files (most of which were not in Google's data base since I listen to a lot of live music) it took over a week.

Google Music does cap the file size to 300MB limit per file, but I have a hard time imagining the average user having any files anywhere near that size.

One of the largest music files I have is 100.8MB, and that's for a 44-minute version of the Allman Brothers Band playing Mountain Jam (Live at the Ludlow Garage 1970) encoded at 320kbps. Even the 40-minute 32-second version of Phish's You Enjoy Myself (Live Phish Vol. 14, Halloween 1995) encoded at 187 kbps only clocks in at 57.3MB, and Phish's infamous 36-minute 48-second so-called "Tahoe Tweezer" (2013-07-31 Harveys Lake Tahoe, Stateline, NV) encoded at 248kbps only takes up 65.9MB.

Once your music is uploaded you'll be able to stream your music, create and share playlists, and download copies of your music. Google Music allows you to download files from the web, or through the Music Manager software. From the web you'll only be allowed to download each file twice. However, there are no download limits if you use the Music Manager. There are also no restrictions on the files once they're downloaded. They can be played from any computer or device without needing to login with your Google account.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a premium service called All Access. This is a paid service which costs $9.99 a month, but comes with Google's Radio option. This is essentially equivalent to Pandora, Spotify, or iTunes' Radio, although it may not have as extensive a repertoire as iTunes Radio. Again, this service is optional and a paid subscription is not necessary to upload your music. Note that the music you stream, or purchase from Google Play does not count towards the 20,000 song limit. All Access also allows users to delete their entire music library in a couple of clicks (regular users have to delete each album individually).

When you first sign up for Google Music you'll be offered a free month of All Access. Go ahead and check it out (I believe All Access users also enjoy faster upload speeds than regular users, although my experience is anecdotal), but if you're not planning on continuing to use the service afterwards, keep an eye out for when your free trial expires. There will be no warnings, no reminders. The day after the trial ends, your credit card will be charged $9.99.

Here are some of the things I don't like about Google Music.

  • A credit card is required to sign up even if you're not planning on ever using All Access.
  • AIFF files are not currently supported.

I reported this issue to Google and their customer representative said they are always trying to add more formats. It may be possibility down the line, but I had to create mp3 versions of my AIFF files from iTunes before I could upload them to Google Music.

  • The organization isn't great.

There are separate tabs for Artists, Albums, Songs, and Genres, and those are organized alphabetically (although for some reason 1 is followed by 11 rather than 2, so if you want to organize a series you'll have to rename them 01, 02, etc..), but there is no options equivalent to iTunes' “Album by Artist” or “Album by Year.” There is also no way to alphabetize the list of albums when navigate through the Artist menu.

Also, Google Music doesn't recognize compilations, so it'll create a new artist tab even if you only have one song by an artist that's part of a compilation. While it does a good job grabbing album cover art from the files' meta data, Google Music has a hard time processing picture art for bands it's not familiar with. Those are either left grey, or are filled in with erroneous images (on mobile they're filled with album cover art pulled from your music library which I find more appropriate).

 This is the default artist art for bands Google Music doesn't have in its database. 

This is the default artist art for bands Google Music doesn't have in its database. 

 This is an example of both Google Music creating an artist tab for a single song from a compilation, and of erroneous cover art (it's displaying album art from the Allman Brothers Band's Eat A Peach).

This is an example of both Google Music creating an artist tab for a single song from a compilation, and of erroneous cover art (it's displaying album art from the Allman Brothers Band's Eat A Peach).


iTunes Match

iTunes Match also allows you to stream your music after uploading to the cloud (in this case to Apple's servers), but there is a restriction on how many devices can access your iTunes Match library. The cap is set to 10 devices (and that includes the computer you use to sign up for iTunes Match in the first place).

It costs $25 a year to sign up for iTunes Match, but you can upload up to 25,000 songs (that's 5,000 more than Google Music). Songs purchased from the iTunes Store do not count towards the 25,000 song limit.

Once your music is uploaded, you'll be able to stream your music, create playlists, and download copies of your music, BUT you'll only be able to access your music from iOS mobile devices or computers with iTunes, and you'll need to be logged in to iTunes with your Apple ID.

This means that there is no way of accessing your music from an Android device, and it would make it difficult to access it from someone else's computer. You'd have to authorize their computer to use your Apple ID, and that would count towards the 10 devices cap. Google Music also has a cap set at 10 devices, but since it also offers unlimited web access that means you can stream music from your library at a party by logging in to Google Music's web player (just remember to log out when you're done). The only actions that count towards Google Music's 10 devices cap is authorizing a device to access your library from an Android app.

The file size limit on iTunes Match is 200MB. While that's significantly lower than Google Music, I still think it's a lot more than any average user would ever need for a single song.

One thing I was happily surprised to discover when I was researching iTunes Match is that songs you download from iTunes Match are not locked by Digital Rights Management (DRM). As it turns out, songs purchased from the iTunes store are also no longer locked by DRM. This has apparently been the case since late 2009. Prior to then, if you purchased a song from iTunes you would only be able to play it back using iTunes and you needed to be logged in to iTunes using the Apple ID you used to purchase the song in first place. The fact that these songs are no longer locked by DRM means that they can be played back through other software like Winamp, VLC media player, iTunes (without needing to be logged in with any specific Apple ID), or any other software you may prefer to use.

iTunes Match has its own issues. Some users report that they own explicit versions of certain songs, but that iTunes Match added clean versions to their cloud-based library. I've also seen reports of iTunes Match uploaded the wrong version of a song (for instance a remix instead of the original). There does not appear to be any solutions for these problems at this time.


I should add an honorable mention for Subsonic.

Subsonic

 Subsonic is an app that allows you to access your computer's music files remotely. Because there are no files to upload to a server it is faster to set up than Google Music or iTunes Match. Simply install the app on your device, and the widget on your computer. From the web based control panel of the widget, you'll be given a URL for the server (in this case your computer). Enter that URL in the mobile app, and you should be able to start streaming your music. I have not encountered any playback issues regardless of file formats.

Subsonic does have several drawbacks.

  • Your computer must be turned on for your files to be accessible.

This may not be an issue if you're the only person who uses the computer, but if it's a shared computer this can lead to headaches. Even if all the user profiles have the Subsonic widget set to launch upon login, Subsonic will not work if no users are logged in. Another problem I found is that if not enough time elapses between when a user logs out, and the following user logs in, Subsonic will not work. I diagnosed this as being an IP / routing issue, but I found no solutions to this problem. Through trial and error, I found that 30 seconds to a full minute was necessary in between a user login out and the following user logging in for Subsonic to work.

  • The Android version is free to download, but after a free month of service users are required to sign up for the premium service: $1 a month, or $12 for a year's subscription (Subsonic used to be a free service, and users who signed up for it then are grandfathered in, and do not have to subscribe).

  • The iOS version is $4.99 (they also offer a Lite version for $1.99) I do not know whether iOS subscriber have to pay a monthly fee after they purchase the app.

  • While Subsonic does a good job of gathering the meta data from the files (including cover art), the tracks are displayed by which folders they are in on your computer. For instance, if you have a double disc album like The Beatles' White Album and you organize the files for Disc 1 and Disc 2 in separate folders, to access a track you'll have to click on The Bealtes, then White Album, then on Disc 1 or Disc 2, and then on the track you're looking for. This is regardless of how the meta data is written on the file, or how the files might display in iTunes.

  • The mobile player interface is a little confusing. "Play Last" is how they chose to name the button to add a song to the queue.

  • The web-based control panel displays perfectly in Google Chrome, but has display issues in Mozilla Firefox. 

Setting up an e-mail forward for Lotus Notes webmail

Log in to your Lotus Notes e-mail account through their web interface. For this example, we'll use a Queens College's e-mail address (@qc.cuny.edu).

Then click on "Tools" (located in the menu on the left).

Then Click on "Rules."

Then click on "New Rule" (located in the header).

The following form will show up.

Enter the rule name where it prompts you to do so ("forward" seems like an appropriate one).

SPECIFY CONDITIONS:

  • The first drop down menu should say "sender".  Click on it, and select "To."
  • The second drop down menu should say "contains." Leave that one as is.
  • The third field is blank. In it, enter your Lotus Notes e-mail address (in this case, the one ending in @qc.cuny.edu).

SPECIFY ACTIONS:

  • The first drop down menu should say "move to folder." Click on it, and select "send copy to."
  • The second field is blank. In it, enter the e-mail address you want the e-mails you receive in your Lotus Notes account (in this case the @qc.cuny.edu address) to be forwarded to.

Click on "Save & Close" (located in the header).

Then, enjoy the convenience of not having to log in to Lotus Notes to check your e-mails.

If you use gmail you can also set up your e-mail options to enable you to send e-mails so that the recipient sees it as if they had been sent from your Lotus Notes accounts (or @qc.cuny.edu address) even though you sent it from your gmail account.