Whitney Music Box

I’m always interested in discovering new ways of manipulating sound, not to mention examples of the ways music and math converge, and this is one of the coolest I’ve seen in a long time: Whitney Music Box.

The spinning dots move at speeds governed by various predefined ratios, resulting in cool swirling patterns that converge in different ways over time. Each dot is also assigned to a tone, and when the dot crosses the horizontal line, its tone is produced.

There’s even a variation where you can control the motion with a hand crank. Very cool!

(This is what we call “good Flash“.)

Wow… Ask.com just became a serious contender (again?)

It’s been around for years, but frankly I’ve never given Ask.com much serious attention. There never really seemed to be anything wrong with it; it just wasn’t anything special. So I used Yahoo!… then Hotbot (remember that one?)… then AltaVista (known today only for its notorious offshoot, Babelfish)… then Google. Ah yes, Google… the end all be all of search engines.

Well… maybe.

Check out Ask.com. Not only is it glossed up with Web 2.0 goodness, it actually has some really cool features. Of course the search box has AJAX-based auto-complete. But it’s the results page that’s really impressive. I did a search on John Coltrane (of course… but not solely out of narcissism) and here are the results.

Everything fades in nicely as the results come back. The main column is your typical search results list. The left column gives a bunch of suggestions for narrowing or expanding your search, as well as searching on similar or related topics. The right column is what’s really cool though: different sections feature images, audio, an encyclopedia (well, Wikipedia) entry, and YouTube videos.

Sure, all of that stuff on the right side reeks of “synergistic” partnerships between Ask.com and the source sites. But whether they’re all throwing money at each other or not, the sources are well-chosen, and the overall effect is very cool.

Big thumbs up to Ask.com for their efforts on this. The big question, of course, is how good are the results? I am going to make this my primary search engine for a while, and put it through its paces.

Uhh… wow.

You may be familiar with mashups, but this has to take the cake. It’s a mashup from three music instruction videos.


And just so I don’t seem like a bandwidth hog, the original page in context is here. (Even though I’m being less of a bandwidth hog by linking straight to the video because I’m not forcing you to download three long QuickTime movies simultaneously! But don’t get me wrong; all three are worth watching… as long as you have broadband.)

Very cool idea. Gets a little stale (and not as well-executed) by the end, but still impressive. And of course, Beaver Felton is the guy who sold me my Music Man StingRay 5. (True, I bought it from his shop, not him personally, but I did have direct contact with him personally both by email and on the phone. Not that that makes me cool or anything.)