Surf's up -
When I was a kid, I had a transistor radio in my room that was on pretty much all the time. For good or bad, I established a habit, that lasts to this day, of having some kind of sound in the background while I read, studied, played games or hung out with friends.
A few years ago, I latched on the web-based streaming service Pandora. Count me, though, among the countless Canadians who felt cheated when Pandora boxed its free service from the likes of us. (Those darn rights issues once again, I'm afraid.)
I loved Pandora: you typed in some songs you liked, and it not only played them, but suggested similar music. In no time, you could build an audio feed that pretty much resembled your own private radio station.
After about two years, I've adapted. But over the last couple of weeks, I've really gotten hooked on blip.fm, which is not just an audio stream that appeals to your taste - it's a whole community.
Blip.fm is related to Pandora competitor last.fm, which never really appealed to me, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I didn't give it enough time.
(I'd recommend that to anyone who is looking for something to stream. Let me know what you think.)
But I really like blip.fm, which combines social-networking programming and an understanding of a core value of music lovers. Namely, we love to share our enthusiasms.
After you set up your profile (it's free), you're invited to search for music you like. When you find something, you'll be prompted to consider adding other members who've played ("blipped," as they call it here, natch) tunes by the same artist. As you add other "DJs," you're getting a progressively larger feed of tunes, all in real time.
Don't like something? Just click the arrow key on your keyboard. Like it enough to want to listen again? Save it to your playlist. Easy as that.
Blip.fm adds a couple of cool features, though, that build the sense of community even higher. Every new member is given "props" you can award, in turn, for songs you like.
I was astonished when, in my first day or two on the service, I was getting props, a type of virtual applause, from total strangers.
Each one you get, incidentally, adds to your count, which is an inspiration to reward the sources of songs that appeal to you.
By the way, they're not total strangers. I have no idea who most of them are, but in short order, I found a batch of people who have diverse, eclectic interests, from places like Sweden, the U.K., Brazil, Spain ... and, yes, Canada.
1000 Awesome Things
You won't actually find 1,000 things on this blog - at least, not yet. The blog is counting down a bunch of things (potato chips on sandwiches, the sound of rain inside a tent) that make life special. It's optimistic and bright, and shamelessly so ... and not a bad idea in this day and age.
How good are the books collected in the lists you'll find here? Well, the title gives it away. If you're looking for some inspiration for the next book that will keep you up a little later than your bedtime, try here. A few dozen categories, several hundred lists, and some clever ways of presenting themed ideas.
Free Comic Book Day
The first Saturday in May is a bit of a deal for comic book lovers. My son is getting swept up in that world ... and his dad is rekindling a love of the old (and new) stuff, too.
John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: email@example.com. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: twitter.com/JohnGushue.