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Machine Learning and MP3s

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the the-right-song-for-the-right-time dept.

Music 228

dan moore writes "Students at Caltech and Harvard have developed a system that analyzes playlists and learns people's listening patterns. It then channels its knowledge into generating streams of music that the people themselves would like to listen to. Intuitive, accurate, and finally someone has done it. Check out the website to get one of the available plugins. Another interesting approach to digital music."

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Well then ... (0)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772432)

... this should put a new light on the whole 'software synthesis' issue, eh?

Heh heh. Sometimes I kill myself...


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772498)

and kill yourself, permanently.

No source, no XMMS plugin... (0, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772433)

Am I supposed to install Winamp under wine to run this?

Re:No source, no XMMS plugin... (1)

PerlGuru (115222) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772459)

Yes, methinks I would have been very much happier if thier page would have been more informative then just "comming soon" for the XMMS plugin.

Thiere media player using the technology looks interesting too. I like thier names too :-)

Re:No source, no XMMS plugin... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772565)

It's "than", dammit.

Learn to speak the language, already.

Re:No source, no XMMS plugin... (1)

Surak (18578) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772491)

Cut 'em some lack! At least they didn't write just a Windows Media Player plugin and they've *thought* about an XMMS plugin.

Of course I'd be much happier with a native Noatun plugin ('cause XMMS is a memory pig), but whatever. :)

Re:No source, no XMMS plugin... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772509)

hey, yo mama users more memory when she bootstraps your papa.

Re:No source, no XMMS plugin... (1)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772682)

Of course I'd be much happier with a native Noatun plugin ('cause XMMS is a memory pig), but whatever. :)

<flame type="obligatory">
Now, is that comparison counting the 150MB of KDE libs that have to be loaded just to start Noatun, or not?

Finally (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772434)

Show tunes, nothing but show tunes

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772478)

I don't know who that Anonymous Coward guy is, but I'm definitely placing him under homosuspiscion

Re:Finally (2, Interesting)

AssFace (118098) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772725)

that would be funny to have a website like this saying that your plugin would help them find music that they really like.
and then no matter what they listen to, it just always recommends Kenny Loggins songs.

If I had more free time and didn't already have a backlog of projects that I want to work on, I'd totally do that.

howard stern, eat your heart out! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772435)

One summer's day in the mid-1860's, a young French boy named Joseph Pujol
had a frightening experience at the seashore. Swimming out alone, he held
his breath and dove underwater. Suddenly an icy cold feeling penetrated his
gut. Frightened, he ran ashore, but then received a second shock when he
noticed seawater streaming from his anus. The experience so disturbed the
lad that his mother took him to a doctor to allay his fears. The doctor

The boy didn't know it at the time, but this unsettling rectal experience
at the beach not only indicated no illness, but it also foretold of a gift
that would later make him the toast of Paris and one of the most popular
and successful performers of his generation.

Joseph Pujol was born in Marseilles on June 1, 1857 to Francois Pujol and
Rose Demaury, a respected stonemason/sculptor and his wife, both of whom
had emigrated from Catalan. Young Joseph went to school until the age of
13, whereupon he apprenticed himself to a baker. Several years later, he
served in the French army.

While in the army, he mentioned his childhood sea-bathing experience to his
buddies. They immediately wanted to know if he could do it again, so on a
day's leave soon afterward he went out to the shore to swim and experiment.
He successfully reenacted the hydraulics of his childhood experience there
and even discovered that by contracting his abdomen muscles, he could
intentionally take up as much water as he liked and eject it in a powerful
stream. Demonstrating this ability back at the barracks later provided the
soldiers with no end of amusement, and soon Pujol started to practice with
air instead of water, giving him the ability to produce a variety of
sounds. This new development provided even more enjoyment for his buddies.
It was then and there, in the army, that Pujol invented a nickname for
himself that would later become a stage name synonymous throughout Europe
with helpless, hysterical laughter: "Le Petomane" (translation: "The

After his stint in the army, Pujol returned to Marseille and to a bakeshop
his father set him up in, on a street that, today, proudly bears the name
"rue Pujol." At the age of 26 he married Elizabeth Henriette Oliver, the
20-year-old daughter of a local butcher. Pujol enjoyed performing, so in
the evenings he entertained at local music halls by singing, doing comedy
routines, and even playing his trombone backstage between numbers. He
continued amusing his friends privately with his "other" wind instrument,
but only at their suggestion and urging did he decide to turn this parlor
trick into a full-fledged act for public audiences.

Pujol worked up a Le Petomane routine, and with some friends he rented a
space in Marseille to perform it in. They promoted the show heavily
themselves through posters and handouts, but word-of-mouth soon took over
and they packed the house every night. Fin de siecle European audiences,
deeply repressed but newly prosperous and trying to be modern"-- the same
people Freud observed (Freud was one year older than Pujol)-- must have
found a man on stage building an entire act out of mock farting and other
forms of anal play considerably more shockingly funny than we would today.
Pujol's was a good act by any era's standards, but back then his scatology
hit a raw nerve, and hit it hard, at an especially vulnerable time. Like
Alfred Jarry, whose epoch-makingly scatological Ubu Roi actually post-dates
Pujol's Paris debut by several years, Pujol was a French Revolutionary of
the modern theater. Jarry gets the credit today because he was a "serious
playwright" and not a lowbrow cabaret performer, but Pujol clearly laid
some of the groundwork.

Word-of-mouth spread reports of the quality and uniqueness of Pujol's new
show, and soon people from all over Marseille were coming to see it.

After the hometown success, Pujol's friends urged him to take the act to
Paris. Pujol hoped to, but cautiously decided to play several other
provincial cities first to refine the act and test the breadth of its
appeal before taking it to the capital. He performed in Toulon, Bordeaux,
and Clermont-Ferrand with great success, and in 1892 was finally ready to
try his act at Paris's Moulin Rouge. It was then that Pujol reputedly
uttered a line oft-repeated in cabaret lore; looking up at the windmill
sails of the landmark Moulin Rouge ("Red Mill") building, he exclaimed,
"The sails of the Moulin Rouge-- what a marvelous fan for my act!"

In getting booked at the Moulin Rouge, Pujol wasted no time. He walked in
and demanded to see the director with such confidence that the secretary
showed him in immediately. He then told the director, a man named either
Zidler or Oller depending on whose account you follow (I'll use "Oller"),
"I am Le Petomane, and I want an engagement in your establishment." He said
that he was a phenomenon and that his gift would be the talk of Paris. When
Oller asked for an explanation, he calmly replied, "You see, sir, my anus
is of such elasticity that I can open and shut it at will. . . . I can
absorb any quantity of liquid I may be given. . .[and] I can expel an
almost infinite quantity of odorless gas." After this, he gave Oller a
quick demonstration.

Oller put Pujol on stage that very night.

Pujol dressed formally for his act, wearing a coat, red breeches, white
stockings, gloves, and patent leather shoes-- a stuffy, old-fashioned
outfit that, coupled with his unrelentingly deadpan delivery, must have set
up an abrasive comedic dissonance against the actual content of his
performance. To begin his act he introduced himself and explained that he
was about to demonstrate the art of "petomanie." He further explained that
he could break wind at will, but assured his audience not to worry because
his parents had "ruined themselves" in scenting his rectum.

Then Le Petomane performed some imitations, using the simple, honest format
of announcing and then demonstrating. He displayed his wide sonic range
with tenor, baritone, and bass fart sounds. He imitated the farts of a
little girl, a mother-in-law, a bride on her wedding night (tiny), the same
bride the day after (loud), and a mason (dry-- "no cement"). He imitated
thunder, cannons ("Gunners stand by your guns! Ready-- fire!!"), and even
the sound of a dressmaker tearing two yards of calico (a full 10-second
rip). After the imitations, Le Petomane popped backstage to put one end of
a yard-long rubber tube into his anus. He returned and smoked a cigarette
from this tube, after which he used it to play a couple of tunes on a song
flute. For his finale he removed the rubber tube, blew out some of the
gas-jet footlights from a safe distance away, and then led the audience in
a rousing sing- along.

This first night, a few tightly-corseted women in the audience literally
fainted from laughing so hard. Oller immediately gave Pujol a contract to
perform at the Moulin Rouge, elsewhere in France, and abroad. Turning
audience-fainting into a great gimmick, Oller later conspicuously stationed
white-uniformed nurses in the hall at each Le Petomane show and instructed
them to carry out any audience members rendered particularly helpless by
the hilarity. Meanwhile, to quash any rumors that his performance was
faked, Pujol occasionally gave private men-only performances clad in a
bathing suit with a large hole in the seat rather than his concealing
regular costume.

It was after one of these private performances that a distinguished-
looking man put a 20 franc gold coin in the collection plate. When Pujol
questioned him, he turned out to be the King of Belgium, who had come
incognito just to see his act.

After signing up with the Moulin Rouge in 1892, Pujol moved his growing
family (starting in 1885, Pujol and his wife had a child every two years
for eighteen years) into a chalet staffed by servants who soon became
family friends. As he predicted, he became the talk of Paris, and admirers
saluted him affectionately as he rode by in his carriage. Paris doctors
examined him and published an article in La Semaine Medicale that described
his health but offered no new explanation for his ability. It did however
record that he could rectally project a jet of water 4 to 5 yards. Box
office receipts alone attest to Le Petomane's popularity. One Sunday the
Moulin Rouge took in 20,000 francs for a Le Petomane performance, an amount
which dwarfs the 8000 francs typically grossed by Sarah Bernhardt at the
peak of her career there.

But another thing happened in 1892 that provoked a series of battles
between Pujol and Moulin Rouge management, the litigious nature of which
makes it sound more like 1992. Pujol visited a friend of his who sold
gingerbread, and to attract customers to his friend's stall, he did some
Petomane tricks right there in the marketplace. Word of this "unauthorized
performance" got back to Oller, who took it up with Pujol and threatened to
sue. Over the next couple of years, Pujol, who dreamed of opening up his
own travelling theater, had more rows with Oller. In 1894, Oller brought
suit against Pujol over the gingerbread stall incident and won. Pujol was
fined 3000 Francs. The next year, Pujol left the Moulin Rouge to start his
own venture, the Theatre Pompadour. Soon after Pujol left, the Moulin Rouge
put up a new act, billed as a "Woman Petomane" (they concealed a bellows
under her skirt). Pujol then brought a lawsuit against the Moulin Rouge for
plagiarizing his idea. At about the same time, however, a newspaper panned
the "Woman Petomane" act, and the actress, Angele Thiebeau, sued the paper
for libel. The judgement against Thiebeau was so harshly worded and
humilating that Pujol, satisfied at the harm done to the Moulin Rouge's
reputation, withdrew his own lawsuit against them.

Pujol's new Theatre Pompadour included mime and magic and other acts
performed by Pujol's family and performer friends. He changed his own act
into a woodland tale told in doggerel punctuated at the end of each couplet
by Le Petomane sound effects and imitations of the animal and bird
characters in the story. Paris audiences liked the winning charm of this
home-grown variety show and still yucked it up at Pujol's fart noises, so
the Theater Pompadour prospered for many years.

Le Petomane continued to be an enormous draw in his new venue until around
1900, when the interest of the show-going public began to wane. The
Pompadour continued to do pretty well, however, until World War I, when
four of Pujol's sons went off to fight and the theater had to close down.
One son was taken prisoner and two of the others became invalids, and Pujol
was so shattered that after the war he had no interest in returning to his
performing career. The family moved back to Marseille and Pujol ran
bakeries with his sons and unmarried daughters. In 1922, he and his family
moved to Toulon and he set up a biscuit factory which he gave to his
children to manage. He lived the rest of his life there, surrounded by his
many dearly loved children and grandchildren. His wife died in 1930 and he
died in 1945. One medical school offered the family 25,000 francs to be
allowed to examine his body, but out of respect, reverence and love for
this warm, funny, and caring man, not one of his children agreed to let

I can't help but feel this is a bit redundant. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772437)

This has most definitely already been done.

Brought to you by Clear Channel. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772440)

First Post, and 25 minutes of uninterupted commercials interupted by 5 minutes of Nsych.

Random playing (4, Interesting)

caluml (551744) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772441)

Wonder what it'll make of the fact I just load them all up and then select the random play option? :)

Re:Random playing (5, Informative)

iksowrak (208577) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772484)

I just found out about the plugin from /. this morning and haven't read up much on it yet, but it appears to factor in how long each song is played. So if you're like me and have Winamp on random play but skip over (or partway through) songs I don't feel like listening to, the plugin will still do its work.

Re:Random playing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772570)

You should also check out Last.FM [last.fm].

A personalised 128kbps stream, you can skip the songs you dont like, it learns and your personalised stream gets better :)

Re:Random playing (2, Interesting)

AssFace (118098) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772743)

you are still listening to certain types of music though. so it should still work to help classify it. for instance, if you really hate country - the fact that you are randomly iterating over your own playlist doesn't mean that country will then be on the playlist.
you are just randomly moving over songs that you like - even though you perhaps like some songs more than others - you are not likely to have many songs in there that you really dislike.
so it sees what you like and then recommends from there.

Others... (5, Informative)

moeffju (114331) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772442)

For other programs that do this already, look for RoboDJ or AudioScrobbler. Lots of others exist.

Yet none get the job done right.

LEARN THIS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772443)

g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)_______|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

cool project... (3, Funny)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772457)

from their download page:

"Who wants Synapse?

Listeners of the MP3. Students. Elevator operators. Makers of other media players. Programmers. Gangsters. Punks. Nerds. Really big nerds. Even ones from Yemen. Yeah, plenty of those. Competitors. Winners. People who exercise to Rocky music. Will Deringer. Audiophiles. Revolutionaries. Even Canadians. Quality people. Gastroenterologists. Bums. Lots of bums. Evil geniuses. Classics professors. Chinese people. Wine connoiseurs. Businessmen. Rabbis. Dew drinkers. Sherpas. Dictators. Professional servants. People with special powers. People who come through in the clutch. You. "

I like them!

Re:cool project... (4, Funny)

KDan (90353) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772514)

Hah, mate, you need to check out the "Why the Brain?" page:

At some point in every man's life, he's bound to find himself in bed with a Chinese girl. It may happen suddenly, and you may not remember how it happened, but it will happen -- I guarantee that. When the time comes he needs to be ready. He needs his full arsenal at hand. And by this I mean music. Too many times has the playlist run short on soft acoustic guitar songs, quieting the room to an awkward silence and giving the Chinese girl a chance to reconsider what she's about to do. I've seen it happen, and it's not pretty.

As a matter of fact, it's happened to me. And so we have spent the better part of the last six months of our lives making sure it doesn't happen to you. Because if it ever does, you won't be able to say "Why the hell doesn't my MP3 player just know what songs I want it to play?"

We've got you covered. Use the Brain.

Very "Dead Poet's society"-ish... "the ultimate purpose of all communication is... to seduce women!" :-)



Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772640)

I'll tell you that, with 110% certainty, that the "finding oneself in bed with a chinese girl" thing never happened for my dad.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772764)

This one time, son... in southeast asia...

Re:cool project... (4, Funny)

maxmg (555112) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772664)

Do I understand this correctly:

Geek is about to score, music runs out,
girl reconsiders. Geek then starts programming
project to make him COOLER???

It's a sad sad world...

Re:cool project... (2, Interesting)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772829)

Geek then starts programming project to make him COOLER???

However, if you're more a hardware guy like myself, and you're at a bar and that damn Internet Jukebox thing craps out (again...) and the moron who serviced it last forgot to lock it and you know the guts of the thing (it's a real PC in there - serial, USB, etc.) and you walk over and re-seat a couple cards and then reboot it and she gets all her music back...


Yes, I've had to do this a couple times now (and it really does work with some of the girls!). It's OK that I do it because I'm OK friends with the bar tenders. They trust me. (and it gets me a few Sam Adams on the house...

Sometimes it's good to be a geek.

Re:cool project... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772706)

Next time im in bed with a chinese woman i will remeber to hit the repeat button.

Though given I have about 5 days worth of mp3's I think Ill consider it time for a break then.

Re:cool project... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772583)

That's stupid.

I hate this project already.

But people are lazy... (4, Interesting)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772460)

I know my listening habits aren't what I want them to be, per se...my playlist is either the songs I'be pre-assembled onto a mix of some kind, or else entire CDs, half the songs of which I don't care about that much, but I'm too lazy.

I guess it could learn something from my mixes. But overall, this sounds like a much less useful technology than those previous "find out what other people who really like this song listen to" programs...firefly was one I think, way back in the day? Sort of like Amazon's "people who bought this CD also bought..." but on a per-song basis.

Re:But people are lazy... (5, Informative)

chickens (626775) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772473)

"find out what other people who really like this song listen to" programs..
Methinks you'd like audioscrobbler [audioscrobbler.com], which is somewhat like firefly

Yes, it's been done before (1)

cythraul (42191) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772462)

Let's not forget launchcast.com [launchcast.com]...

Smart Playlists? (3, Informative)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772545)

Another 'cutting edge playlist technology" would certainly be iTunes 'smart playlists.' You can match any number of criteria, including: genre, my rating, play count, artist contains *, and year to make sick and incredibly easy playlists. Oh and live updating, perfect for running a PlayCount: Zero and then having it add new unplayed tracks as you listen. At first I didnt notice it but after tinkering around I now wonder what I ever did before (but then again I get that feeling alot using apple products).

Check it out: http://www.apple.com/itunes/smartplaylists.html

Re:Yes, it's been done before (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772756)

while launch is great (although has gone through tough times), it requires human interaction.

this thing in the article seems to "work" without human interaction (although it seems to be on a binary level of like, or not like, or at least not as fine grained as launch allows - which is still not all that fine grained).

Synapse? (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772464)

Has anybody seen Antitrust?

Re:Synapse? (0)

staed (663422) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772542)

moaaahaaa!! that's the first thing i thought about when i saw the name of the product.

this seems less evil thou...

Re:Synapse? (2, Funny)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772586)

Has anybody seen Antitrust?

yes, unfortunately.

Re:Synapse? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772821)

ahh, so you're the other guy who saw that movie. I've always wanted to meet you. so brave admitting that without the AC flag.

I had a vaguely similar idea (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772466)

I remember whenever that joyous time of the month would roll around, my ex-girlfriend would start listening to a lot more typically "chick" songs, right before she actually started menstruating.

I started working on a similar Winamp plugin to kind of give me a heads up, but then I figured I'd just see the used tampons in the trash...

i wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772481)

I wonder what it would get out of my listening habits, restless jumping from one song to another, unable to choose. I'm going to try this out though.

People change (5, Interesting)

uberkuba (554839) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772482)

Analysis of past choices is nice... but ultimately it will fail to play what I REALLY want to hear because it doesn't predict moods.
This type of system of past trait analysis has failed before, hasn't it???

Re:People change (3, Interesting)

AndyS (655) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772715)

You could always hook it into a Livejournal client for rabid LJ users - since mood tends to be entered you could have that as a global or something. Set your mood and it adapts accordingly.

Should be an easy change - maybe have mood as a sort of dock icon, and allow it to be queried by all of these applications that would then switch profile.

Re:People change (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772817)


For example...I get in the mood to listen to all of a certain type of music, or a specific band...I dont get in the mood to listen to the songs i have listened to 30% of the time before. Although, this is a great idea, I think that it could become more advanced with groupings and selecting either an auto-grouping or a specific group. Maybe some simple folder manipulation or playlist manipulation could work to do this independantly of the program

how is this any different... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772485)

...from that machine/program the RIAA supposedly has that can analyze a song to determine how well it will do on the charts? This program probably uses a similar algorithm. Slashdot lambasted the RIAA device for being the harbinger of even greater FM homogenization and keeping people from hearing new and different music. I this program will do the same thing, but on a personal level and the Slashdot crowd loves it!

Re:how is this any different... (1)

oldwolf13 (321189) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772579)

I was thinking something along those lines, as sometimes I want to listen to something different... something I maybe haven't heard in awhile. I have alot of mp3s (which OF COURSE I own the cds to:) with stuff I very infrequently listen to, but can't live without.

It would be cool if this had the ability to play songs I've heard less often when I'm in a more original mood.

Re:how is this any different... (2, Interesting)

KiwiRed (598427) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772580)

I think the difference here is that it allows the listeners to choose what they want to listen to. As opposed to allowing the RIAA to justify it's promoting 10 artists who fit the 'hit profile' matching yesterday's 'stars'...

Mind you, i haven't been able to get Synapse running on my machine since first hearing about it near the start of the year (under XP, despite emailing the Synapse site for help, and after two reinstalls for non-connected problems) so i'll just stick with Foobar and Winamp 2...

Re:how is this any different... (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772644)

Slashdot lambasted the RIAA device for being the harbinger of even greater FM homogenization and keeping people from hearing new and different music. I this program will do the same thing, but on a personal level and the Slashdot crowd loves it!

I think the aim is to introduce new music to people by seeing what people with similar tastes to you are listening.

You may well be right about the result though, as many people have pointed out the technology needs a lot of work and even then may never be able to take the place of a human ear.

from their download page: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772487)

"Who wants Synapse?"

Good question. No discussion of the technology, no source, just a bunch of marketing drivel and a buy button.

Is it too late to remove this article?

I hate opera. (-1, Offtopic)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772503)

Lost my whole fucking post

Re:I hate opera. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772556)

> I hate opera.

Sounds like filtering out Pavarotti and the like wouldn't be a problem with this program.

Already Exists! (3, Informative)

captainclever (568610) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772513)

There is already something like this out there, that uses loads of cool independant and smaller label stuff as well as some massive label stuff..

Check out Last.FM [last.fm], they are very good. I've found a load of new artists from there. It is all stream based (128kbps) and they have a massive flash development section starting for open source goodness.

There's also the (all open source) Audioscrobbler project.. see my .sig :)


Machine learning is a powerful tool (4, Interesting)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772516)

We have begun to release a series of plugins that will expand the Brain's functionality to other major media players.

Analysis indicates that I am 99.9% likely to want to see ZhAng Ziyi in a plastic raincoat going down on Jennifer Lopez in ripped SCUBA gear (or the reverse, I'm not picky.) Now, if "the Brain" can FIND such porn for me instead of just making playlists, I might get some use out of it! Teach the damn thing to know when the women are fat and skanky so it won't download lousy porn, and I'll be sold.

There is of course the question of our definition of self, and how it might evolve as computers become more sophisticated. The distinction between the self and the environment, when our nervous systems are physical processes influenced by and dependent on "external" factors, is fundamentally artificial.

When I use a hammer, a tool for doing physical work, it becomes like a part of me.

When I use a computer, a tool for doing intellectual work, should I regard it any differently?

The music I listen to has fundamental impact on my mood, on my posture, on my creativity and critical evaluation of ideas. If I am continuously communicating with my computer regarding my taste in music, and if my computer continuously responds by playing music, it becomes difficult to draw a meaningful distinction between my computer, which is a device, and my self, which does the thinking.




Re:Machine learning is a powerful tool (2, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772638)

It wouldn't be too tough to implement :-)

A combination of NN based recognition [usc.edu] coupled with Eigen vectors [scheib.net] for a standardised dimension (for the pic) might just be able to do it ;-)

Its not rocketscience you know, just pr0n :-p

@( * O * )@

VB (0, Flamebait)

Midajo (654520) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772531)

This is a lameass Visual Basic [synapseai.com] app.
Not that there's anything wrong with that...
I'm not holding my breath for the XMMS version though.

Re:VB (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772776)

just out of curiosity - remind me why the language that something is programmed in makes it rank higher on the "lameass" scale?

I could totally see saying the interface for it sucks, or that it is too slow, or that it won't let you put Hello Kitty skins on it... but I'm currently not getting why the language choice makes it "lameass"

I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it is because you really want to run it on linux and it isn't that you have a typical kneejerk reaction like the rest of /. that anything MS sucks and anything else is far superior.

personally, unless it is done in Forth, I find all programming to be lameass.

Laci Petersen Jokes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772536)

Q: What's Laci Petersens favorite song?
A: Sitting on the dock of the bay...

Some new evidence has surfaced in the Laci Petersen case

Scott Petersens alibi is all washed up

Why isn't this a copyright violation? (1)

abbamouse (469716) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772538)

I seem to recall that webcasters weren't allowed to make the services "interactive" a while back. Users weren't permitted to select songs. Obviously this is different, but I wonder just how much a service can "react" to a user's playlist before it crosses the line to letting the user select each song?

High School Senior Project..... :) (4, Interesting)

bcollier06 (667189) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772541)

Wow, was I surprised to wake up and find this on the main page of slashdot ;) This program originally written by two classmates senior project at Phillips Exeter Academy last spring. I remember playing around with an early version of it as well as checking out the web page (it hasn't really changed). It appears as if one year and many cases of beer later, a lot of the kinks have been worked out. This program is great if you use it frequently enough for it to learn your preferences, or if you have a lot of downloaded music with malformed names that need correcting. I would much rather see it as a plugin because otherwise I miss out on using my favorite software stereo expander and other DSP plugins.

Re:High School Senior Project..... :) (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772805)

they have a winamp plugin......

i assume thats what you want........

if they went to your school you should at least provide them the decency of reading their damned website! :)

I don't care if its a winamp plug-in, I want XMMS (1)

bcollier06 (667189) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772820)

I did have the decency of reading their site :)

Re:I don't care if its a winamp plug-in, I want XM (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772832)

ahhhh xmms :D

I am a simple man, with simple needs...and winamp does just fine there. Altho...winamp 3 sucks proc power like crazy...

Weighted Randomness (0, Interesting)

robbway (200983) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772544)

This sounds an awful lot like applying "weights" to music selections based on number of downloads. Doesn't Amazon have a patent on this already with their "Recommendations?"

The problem I see with The Brain is that it doesn't seem to factor out the correlation between music availability and the number of times it's downloaded. Hence, our collective "tastes" are based on what MP3 providers are pushing down our throats.

Example: MP3.com has Top Playlists. Interspersed in the playlists are MP3.com paid spots. So every fourth song or so is sponsored. This means they'll be counted as "to what people listen" more often than say, the 33rd song. If you ran The Brain on only MP3.com Top Playlists, I suspect only the sponsored songs would make it to the final stream selections.

Re:Weighted Randomness (0, Troll)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772670)

Sigh. RTFA. Or if you're too lazy, just listen up:

The problem I see with The Brain is that it doesn't seem to factor out the correlation between music availability and the number of times it's downloaded. Hence, our collective "tastes" are based on what MP3 providers are pushing down our throats.

No, because this isn't based on downloads. Or on collective taste. You play songs in your mp3 player, it pays attention to what you listen to and when, and tries to figure out what you want to hear. Simple idea, shame you missed it.

If you ran The Brain on only MP3.com Top Playlists, I suspect only the sponsored songs would make it to the final stream selections.

Huh? Well, maybe in your world, but back here in the land of people who read shit before they spout off we noticed that, hey, that'd only happen if you were a dumbass and consistenly played the sponsored songs. If you don't play the song, neither does the Brain.

Anyone heard of Last.FM (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772548)

Last.FM [last.fm] is great, it starts streaming you music, you skip the songs you dont like, it learns what you like, and your personalised stream gets better and better!

Check 'em out for some great new music from independants and small/medium label stuff :)

Changing moods?? (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772549)

How can someone else except me decide what's good? My moods change, sometimes rapidly as well. And taste is acquired only after sampling... so will this s/w provide some new stuff ocassionally to check my preferences?

I'd rather listen to random music on the radio.. I don't like the idea of someone out there, sitting and monitoring me.... like MS does.

hmm (0, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772550)

I wonder what they'll make of my Beethoven/Metallica mix...

Apocalyptica... (3, Interesting)

Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772578)

There is a Nordic string quartet that plays metal songs like Metallica, etc.


They rock, classically.


Re:Apocalyptica... (1)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772782)

Not really a string quartet. Well there are 4 string players, so they are a string quartet in that sense. But they are actually 4 cellists. A "traditional" string quartet has 2 violins, a viola, and a cello. I think it would have worked better as a string quartet, as I think imitiating the vocal line in the high register of the cello didn't work as well as using a viola or violin would.

Re:hmm (1)

RyanGWU82 (19872) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772648)

They would probably recommend music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra [trans-siberian.com]... specifically the album "Beethoven's Last Night". TSO is a spinout of the metal band Savatage, and they play electrified versions of classical and Christmas music. Check it out!


Time Travel!! (1)

Morgahastu (522162) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772564)

and finally someone has done it

I guess the softwave I've been using for the past few years came through a time portal!! Music Match has had this feature for a long time.

Listeng tastes (3, Interesting)

eyeball (17206) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772566)

Personally my listening tastes are based on much more than what type, genre, or style of music. Most songs that make it onto my playlists are because a close friend recommends it, and that song will always (for better or worse) bring out memories of that person.

*That* would be imposibile to substitute with a learning machine.

I also think for a lot of people, they like a song because it's already familiar (they've subconsiously heard it in a store or a few dozen TV ads), and suddenly hit that point where they like that song and actively persue it. Unless the machine learning system were somehow able to track everything the person heard, It couldn't substite this either.

TiVo, no? (1)

Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772571)

Is not this the same sort of AI that TiVo uses? That is, looking at what you have done in the past and making future suggestions?
Sorry, I LOVE my TiVo, and give the company a plug every chance I get. Hacked to 198 hours, baby!


Sounds cool, but ... (4, Interesting)

Catiline (186878) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772573)

Does their logic system fail (or degrade) gracefully?

My tastes in music are varied wildly, and I often will select a small set of my MP3s based on mood; will this system be able to determine that when I code I like to listen to classical but when playing games, alternative music is the thing? Or will it just play it all at once, unaware of the correlative patterns that would link the timing of music selection -- just mashing everything together into one massive playlist? (Given that nothing, not even time of day, can help determine what I want to hear, I have some serious doubts their system can handle my preferences as well as I do.)

Truly "smart" programs often aren't really; the defining line I draw is how well they handle pathological cases. For example, have your dictation software transcribe the following sentence: "The village yeoman, Hugh, hewed two yews to use in the upcoming archery contest". I'm not guaranteeing it will choke, but it sure won't be pleased with you, despite the grammatical perfection of the sentence. However, any human hearing that will immediately make sense of it. Unsurprisingly, it is the simple algorythms (like naieve Bayesian statistics for spam filtering) that seem to best manage the complexity of real life while still failing gracefully.

Re:Sounds cool, but ... (0)

mib (132909) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772780)

"The village yeoman, Hugh, hewed two yews to use in the upcoming archery contest"

I tried your phrase on an actual live human (native English speaker, of normal-to-above-average intelligence), and it took her longer than normal to parse it (there was a noticeable facial expression change while she figured it out).

This seems to indicate it's just a matter of processing power (and the brain is still winning out over your dictation software).

- mib

If Microsoft Did Something Like This... (1)

ijitjuice (666161) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772574)

Wouldnt we be all upset and things? It sounds like, "hey we know what you are listening to and we'll go analyze that and give you more of the same". Please, humans based in western civiliations have become some of the laziest S.o.b's in the past 50 years, lets at least give us something to do for god's sake.

synapse (1)

Unominous Coward (651680) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772582)

just another attempt at embracing and extending. Let's hope that Milo can save us from this mess!

(if you haven't seen the movie, don't mod)

Still searching for my perfect mp3 player (4, Interesting)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772587)

This intelligent mp3 playback stuff seems like a really good idea to me; learning algorithms can be astonishingly effective, and even if it only when I hit "next track" halfway through a song it would help. However, I'm still looking for an mp3 player I like. I really like iTunes, but it's not perfect because I only have OSX on my laptop (Linux my desktops, where I want mp3 playback most).

Stuff I like about iTunes:

  • The integrated management software, and how if I fancy listening to a particular artist/album, I just type their name in a little box to get realtime filtering
  • It doesn't look like ass
  • Neato en-mass ID3 tag editing options
  • Fantastic visualistaions
  • Neat metadata (last played, ratings, etc)
All I really want is a Linux player to do all this too. XMMS is small and neat but the playlist feels like a clumsy management interface after iTunes. GQMpeg seems fiddly, and xtunes is ugly. Can anyone suggest alternatives?

Other features I want my mp3 player to have, but which I've never seen done:

  • I listen to music on shuffle a lot. What I would like to do is browse through my full mp3 list and add the next half-dozen or so tracks to the playlist, taking it out of shuffle... but only until those half-dozen tracks are played. After than I want it to go back to shuffle.
  • Intelligent gapless playback -- if the mp3 ends with no silence (think live albums), I want it to crossfade to the next track with a very short gap; otherwise, I want no crossfade. Ditto for when the next track begins with no silence. Seems like this wouldn't be too hard to code up, I may look into making a XMMS plugin one day to see if I can.
  • rsync-based synchronisation between iTunes (on my iBook) and my household fileserver. Involves knowledge of iTunes' XML files.
  • The moon, on a stick.

Re:Still searching for my perfect mp3 player (2, Interesting)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772668)

Oh man, that's really badly written. And I previewed it several times, too.

For a start, I do understand that Brain is supposed to be snagging stuff from the net according to my tastes; my central but utterly obscured point is that I'd rather get a player that can handly my own mp3s to my total satisfaction before getting fancy with one that can seek out new mp3s for me. Let's walk before we try to run.

However, I think this sort of learning algorithm can be sensibly applied to my personal collection; for example, if it scores a song up slightly whenever I listen to it right through, up a lot when I select it manually, and down a lot when I skip it halfway through. Then use those scores as weights in the shuffle algorithm. The downside is that this sort of functionality needs an awful lot of data to be any good and is hard to sell to people because, out of the box, it won't do diddly squat. That is why they are better off with a plugin than a native player -- the plugin has, effectively, zero cost of entry, provided there is a plugin for your chosen player, whereas switching to a whole new player is effort with very little immediate payoff to reward it.

Re:Still searching for my perfect mp3 player (2, Interesting)

cuiousyellow (89995) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772720)

You might like Rhythmbox [rhythmbox.org] a bit better than GQmpeg or xmms but it depends how you weight your different needs. It doesn't look like ass and it has neat metadata but 1. no viz, 2. no ID3 editing, and 3, no moon on a stick.

This is assuming a gtk2 app is acceptable, you can get it running-without-crashing for enough time to build up useful playlists and use it enough to make the metadata actually have an effect.

If you can't, there was a fork/branch [verbum.org] a while back that add's streaming management and is relatively stable.

The lack of viz kills me - I generally run xmms and hide the ugly old winamp2x gui on its own desktop plus gtk playlist [mit.edu], a sticky cd-cover [27b-6.de] plugin and a sticky Goom [xmms.org] vis.

For the id3 tags, I highly highly recommend EasyTAG [sourceforge.net].

Re:Still searching for my perfect mp3 player (1)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772778)

GTK2 I can live with (writing this in Galeon2, actually), and lack of vis too. When I want vis I can always slave the iBook as a pure mp3 machine and run fullscreen viz, which is ultimately pretty wasteful but impresses visitors no end. ID3 editing is less of a problem now iTunes has straightened out my metadata; everything I've ripped over the last three years has correct tags (and most of my collection is stuff I've ripped myself), so it's less of an issue now than it used to be.

Well, having apt-getted it, I can confirm rhythmbox looks pretty nifty; thanks for the tip, mate. I'll see how stable it is. It could use the playback-only-controls minimize mode iTunes has, but the three-pane browsing interface is perfect, and the get-info-on-this-song-from-web looks cool, too.

A stick goom window is a funky idea. I might investigate that at some point...

Thanks again! I'll just keep looking for the moon on a stick.

I don't WANT to hear the same crap over and over (4, Interesting)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772595)

Here's a short version of what I want to hear: "Something that challenges my tastes."
Mostly, I listen to Radio 1190, [radio1190.org] the CU Boulder station. I'd say that I enjoy about 1 song in 4. I keep listening because I find out about local bands that I'd never hear, I hear indie bands (not just bands running on the "indie" branch of a major label) and I get DJs who love what they do. (here's where I give mad props to Milkman Dan)

What's your spiffy MP3-scanning-neural-network-plugin going to do with me, eh?


this guy is one to watch... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772603)

Seems like Adam D'Angelo is also the coder of buddyzoo [buddyzoo.com]. Anyone know if he has a homepage?

Finding similar genres' (-1, Offtopic)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772645)

In a similar vain does anyone know if there is a website where I can find new artists depending on the type of music I like. i.e. something taken from other peoples playlists. Just that I'm bored of what I've got and want something new


Slashdot covers some great technologies.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772651)

...and occasionally provides links with no description of technology, no source, and a bunch of hype attached to a shopping cart. Keep it clean, /. and stop putting up stories like this, even if these were your college roommates.

Machine Learning parts (2, Insightful)

Neuronerd (594981) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772666)

I am not sure about this but there seems to be a certain marketing push behind the project. The description of whos supposed to download it is hilarious. But all the machine learning stuff is hidden behind buzzwords. Why do they not put up a description of the algorithm or at least about its rational. I am involved in machine learning myself and most of my colleagues are extremely careful when using words like "the brain". And there is a usually a strong anticorrelation between the quality of work and the use of such buzzwords.

Re:Machine Learning parts (2, Informative)

AssFace (118098) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772697)

I have no clue what their software does "behind the scenes" - but I personally would use a Markov Matrix/Chain and Bayesian classification.

I haven't used their system - but if it generally sucks if not many people have used it, and then gets much "smarter" over time and as more users (and usage) increases - then I would suspect that is what they are using as well.

Essentially you have song A, and then that points to a list of songs (after listening to song A, people then tended to listen to song Z, Y, and F).
Songs that are more frequently occurring in that list are ranked higher.
You could then follow that (basically just a hash) and say that if you listen to song A, the most frequently listened to song after A is Z, then you go to the Z spot in the hash and see what it is most frequently followed by.

I wish it did FFT (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772677)

It seems that were it to actually look at the actual music that you are listening to and not by reading playlist strings, then it would actually be a better tool.

Using Bayesian classification on the signal that you get (I would assume using FFT and perhaps feeding that through a neural net), you should then bypass any need for user classification at all (as I understand the current system now, it will fail if there are poorly/inaccurately named songs).

That said, this system would still be exposed to similar issues that the other one is (although I suspect from my previous experience with machine learning - the qualms people have of it missing out on a greater reason they choose songs would actually be unfounded, but I'm sure many would disagree with me), and more importantly - it would require far more processing power.

not that simple (1)

random735 (102808) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772705)

I tried to code one of these once, my system was designed to correlate which songs I typically played in sequence..for instance, if I allowed song A to play, then B, then C, it would also assume that it was ok to play A and then C.. correspondingly, if I once played A, then skipped B when it came on, but allowed C to play after A, then it would also assume that B to C was not a good transition. Seems reasonable, right? the problem is, some days A to B is good..some days it's not.

In the end, I realized the system would never work when I realized that *I* did not know what i wanted to listen to at any particular moment, so how the hell was I going to code a system which could decide?? As a previous poster said, our moods vary too much for this sort of system to work, at least for those of us who are very very picky...(I don't put on "background" music..if i'm playing music, i'm listening to it intently)

Damn (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772761)

Now I get it, it's a playlist pattern analyzer. What with all the hype on the page that doesn't explain what it does, at first I thought this was a miraculously advanced AI program that would pick out the common themes in all the music I like best, then synthesize a new stream of music like nothing I've ever heard, a brand new composition tailored exactly to my personal taste, that to me would be the most beautiful music in the world possible. But it just plays existing songs. Oh well, back to fantasizing about OggSynth...

OK, I'm sure it's a useful program and that they've done a great job, and I'll try it out. But please, couldn't they have just explained it in plain English?

It's been done already (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772763)

Yahoo!'s Launchcast Music http://launch.yahoo.com/ already allows users to listen to/rate music. Your "personal station"'s music is then catered based on your user ratings of songs you have already heard.

You know... (2, Funny)

MoeMoe (659154) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772796)

You know you're too damn lazy when your computer has to decide what music you like and when to play it for you.

prior art (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5772799)

I think amazon has a copyright on this :) They've been extrapolating what you'd like based on your purchasing habits (and what other's bought) for years.

Winamp's Ramdom (1)

Tighe_L (642122) | more than 10 years ago | (#5772819)

I downloaded it, I hope I will never have to use Winamp's random anymore, I think after listening to the same song over and over I gave up and just let it play normal.
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