Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 Grammys Review

Being a music fan, of course I have to watch the Grammys. Being someone who is really into music, usually I am disappointed with the Grammy awards. This year was no exception.

The overall production seemed cheap. For example the graphic design for the commercial breaks seemed more fitting for the Kids Choice Awards.

There were so many performances and not enough televised awards given out. I know they want to entertain people, but this is an awards show, not a concert.

Of course there are many talented unknown artists each year that don't get recognized. It really is a business of who you know. Unless you are with a major label and have connections, you have no chance of being nominated.

I managed an independent label a while back and looked into submitting some of my artists to the Grammys. I remember you had to join an association and pay a yearly fee just to be able to submit an artist for consideration.

This year there were a lot of upsets. I was not impressed by the nominees for record of the year.

I can't believe Arcade Fire won album of the year. I have tried to get into this band but I have never even heard one song by them that I liked. They performed 2 songs and they just sounded like noise with a constant drum beat. Really, do they need 2 drummers for simple beats like that? Did they even have any songs on the radio? Katy Perry should have one for album of the year. She had several huge hit singles from her album

Like everyone I was surprised by the best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding. Never heard of her. I would think Beiber would get this since he is everywhere but I guess the voting committee wouldn't have it. Again I was not impressed with this list of nominees in the 1st place.

Oh yeah, and a message to Eminem: Cheer up! Your a multi-millionaire, best selling rap artist of all time. You can stop scowling now.

For next year, I would like to see more awards given out on tv. Also make it live.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Music Recommendations: Feb 2011

First recommendation is a singer named Meghan Tonjes who is gaining popularity from her covers and original songs on Youtube. I just discovered her this morning and was blown away by her voice, enough to already post this up as a recommendation. Expect to hear her on mainstream radio in the near future. Here is one of her original songs called "This Year":

Next up is an older song from a group that just popped into my mind recently. Remember the Avalanches? They are known for using lots of samples to make their songs. This song "Since I Left You" one was one of their hits. I watched the video this morning and really enjoyed it. Check it out:

Last up is a song by Ryan Seiler being covered by Luke Conard. The song is called "July". It's a nice acoustic song with a good chorus. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why Isn't Rugby More Popular in the USA?

I just watched a rugby tournament on one of the NBC network channels. Rugby is not on tv very often, but when it is, I usually watch it. I don't know much about the sport, but it is entertaining. Rugby is basically a combination of American football, soccer, and a little bit of wrestling. These guys are more physical than football players and they don't even wear any pads!

With the Superbowl happening today it got me thinking. The Superbowl is one of the most watched events. When you compare football and rugby, rugby seems to be a lot more entertaining. Comparatively, football is much slower. There is a lot more action in rugby. I think if Americans were more exposed to this sport and they learned the rules, this sport would pick up in popularity.

Update 4-8-15 Rugby still does not get much coverage in the US at least not on the major networks, but a while back, they did have a special with the New Zealand All Blacks coming to the US for an exhibition game against the USA team. 

Of course the All Blacks one by a lot because they are one of the best teams in the world, but it was still fun to watch.  Hopefully this sport gains some more popularity and we get to see more coverage soon!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Income Tax System is a Mess

So I recently filed my income taxes online like I do every year. It's a bit early, but I had all the documents and some free time so I did it.

The thing is, the system is so complex and ridiculous. Using an online form is not difficult because you just plug in your numbers, but what is ridiculous is all the deductions and exceptions that are involved. There is so much room for error and estimation. Heck, you can't even put in exact numbers to the cent; they make you round it to the nearest dollar.

Here is a question. Why don't employers submit their employee's earnings? This would be direct and most logical. Instead they send a form to the employee and then they have to report their own earnings. I'm not objecting to the effort it takes to report your earnings, I just don't see why they are leaving it up to the employee. It's like adding an extra step that is unnecessary.

I understand that if you are self employed, you would have to report your own earnings, but if you work for a company, they should report it for you.

Well you ask, what about all the other stuff you have to include like deductions? Here's the thing, there shouldn't be deductions. Income tax should be solely a percent taken from the amount you earn in a year. Simple as that. Take how ever much you earn and pay the established percentage in the form of tax.

Like I said before, it is ridiculous how many options and exceptions there are that will alter how much you have to pay on taxes. It's so inexact. Some people are going to end up paying more than they should because they don't know which deductions they can take, and others who know a lot about it are probably going to end up paying less than they should. And there is no way the IRS can monitor all these hundreds of options and elements that make up the tax forms because there are so many. Yes they can do thorough checks with audits, but if they can't do thorough checks on every submission, well then it is just not good enough. That is why the system has to change.

The income tax system needs to get a lot more streamlined and simple. Get rid of all the hundreds of deductions. Get rid of all these odd exceptions and alterations. Set the percent that must be paid and then take that percent from however much the individual has earned. Why does it have to be more complicated than that?

Youtube Keeps Getting Worse

With every new release, it seems like Youtube keeps getting worse. I liked it the best about 2 years ago. Why do companies that have a good product that is working fine insist on rearranging it and making it different? One of my favorite quotes that applies here is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". This is so true because when you try to "fix it" you end up breaking it.

So with Youtube's new format, the subscriptions are all stretched out on the home page. You used to be able to see all your new videos up at the top, but now you have to scroll down to see which ones are new and mixed in with the ones you have already watched.

Also, it seems you can't customize the home page like before. Where are the top videos of the day? You have to click on the "Browse" link to see these. You can't get them on your home page. Then for some reason, they don't even show you how many views the top videos have.

And what is with all the bugs? You know like how when new popular videos come out it says they only have like 301 views. And how some subscriptions mysteriously don't end up you your feed so you miss them.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like there is any competition for Youtube anytime soon. I hope Youtube can get better without making huge changes that people don't like. Youtube is big but so was Myspace and you saw what happened with a popular site that had a bad layout and features.

All the ads and commercials aren't helping either. Really they think people are going to click on a text add while they are watching a video? The only clicks those get are accidental clicks. Get your act together Youtube.

Update 2-9-11:
Just another big annoyance to add to the list. Youtube now requires you to link your account to a Google account. So if you don't have one you have to make one. Many people like myself have a Gmail account which you can use, but this just causes problems unless you want to use one account for everything. So basically now I can't stay logged into Youtube because then it logs me into a Google account which I don't use for email. Then I go to Gmail and I have to sign out of my Youtube account. Very annoying!

Update 10-19-12:
Youtube continues to make their site worse with more changes no one asked for. The new layout is harder to read with everything bright white.

Now they are trying to mix all this other stuff like video suggestions into our subscriptions feed. I already have enough to go through with just new videos, stop trying to get me to watch a bunch of other stuff Youtube.

The flag button doesn't even describe what it does so any new user will have to flag a video just to figure out what the button does.

It will take some time to get used to the changes. I wish Youtube would give users the option of whether or not to update the layout. I bet if they gave the option to switch to a new layout or stay with a familiar layout, most users would keep the old format every time.

Stop changing things Youtube.

Update 12-4-12
So now the comment box is only 1 line tall so of you write anything over 1 line you can't even see the previous line.  One of the biggest negatives about Youtube is all the stupid pointless comments.  It's almost like they are now encouraging these types of comments and discouraging people who are able to write more than 1 sentence.  We seriously need a better alternative because Youtube is just not going in the right direction.

Update 11-8-13
In the latest huge mistake Youtube is not pretty much requiring that everyone link their account to Google+.  If you decline, they just ask you again next time you are on.  If you even want to be able to post comments on videos, you have to sign up for the Google+ account.  There has been a big uproar about this because no one wants to do this.  It's just another one of the ongoing changes that no one asked for and no one wants.

Update 1-8-14
Recently the folks over at Youtube decided to would be a good idea to remove the channel name from the videos on the subscriptions feed.  So now when you are going through your subscription videos you can't even tell who they are by.  The only way to tell now is by a little icon on the left.  If you are lucky, you will be able to tell who the video is by from the picture, if not you will have to hover over it so it brings up the information that says who the video is actually by.  Another undesirable unwanted change from Youtube.  Are we starting to see a pattern here?

Update 6-17-14
Finally they got rid of the pop up that makes you choose which account you want to use when you log in.  Unfortunately there are more unwanted changes.  They recently made the default video size much larger than before.  It's ok to offer different options but there does not seem to be an way to change it back to the normal size.  Also the video recommendations do not work very well.  For one, they show videos for the channels you are already subscribed to. Two, there does not seem to be a way to get rid of them.  I keep clicking the option to not show them any more but the same recommendations keep coming back. 

Update 7-7-14
So now when I log in, I have 2 different accounts under the same name, one that is blank, and one that has all my subscriptions and everything. For some reason it is defaulting to the blank account and there does not seem to be any easy way to get it to default to the correct account.  I did not make any changes so this is something Youtube did to make it worse as usual.