Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Sing Gently: “17,572 singers, in perfect harmony (from their own homes)”

Composer Eric Whitacre’s has been gathering virtual choirs for years, and with surging interest in this time of Corona, some 17,572 singers from 129 countries came together to perform his “Sing Gently.” Don’t be put off by the 10-minute running time of vid below, as the song last just a couple of minutes followed by numerous credits:

On the technical front, the YouTube team writes,

The Virtual Choir team uses every video submitted, unless there’s a technical problem with the recording. That means there are thousands of videos to sync together, and thousands of sound recordings to edit so the result sounds seamless. This time around, the team featured three sound editors, six people reviewing each submission and two executive producers; the team was scattered through the U.S., the U.K. and South Africa.

Across three different continents, they used Google Docs and Google Sheets to keep track of their progress, Google’s webmaster tools to manage thousands of email addresses and Google Translate to keep in touch with singers around the world. Singers checked the choir’s YouTube channels for rehearsal videos, footage of Whitacre conducting the song and Q&As with other singers and composers.

“mmhmm” offers a virtual production studio for video calls

Years ago Adobe bought a company (Serious Magic) that streamlined creation of professional-looking videos that featured over-the-shoulder graphics and virtual backgrounds. One product even shipped a swath of green fabric to use in keying out one’s background.

Now Phil Libin (formerly CEO of Evernote) and co. have created mmhmm, a tool that works with Google Meet, Zoom, and other products to enable the same kinds of newscaster-style presentations. I can’t wait to distract from (er, clarify!) my charts & graphs by becoming a flying Jedi Force ghost!

Enjoy the Silence

When the fam & I headed out on Friday for two weeks (twoooo weeeeks!) of road-tripping adventures, I didn’t expect to have *zero* connectivity with which to share updates, but so it goes; hence the radio silence here.

The disconnection (something I can rarely grant myself) has been mostly a blessing, and I’ll try to be good about staying off the keyboard until I return. Still, I’ll try to share good stuff when time permits. I hope that you, too, get a little downtime & get to go outside—where I hear that the graphics are amazing. 😌🤘

PS: Orbital greetings from Mesa Verde yesterday.

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A quick spin around Mesa Verde

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Google Maps adds features to help navigate the age of Covid

Lots of good details here, among them:

Starting today, you can easily see the times when a transit station is historically more or less busy to plan your trip accordingly or you can look at live data showing how busy it is right now compared to its usual level of activity. Simply search for a station in Google Maps or tap on the station on the map to see the departure board and busyness data, where available.

Google Maps adds wheelchair accessibility info

Last year I mentioned the story of how my colleague Sasha Blair-Goldensohn has used his experience of using a wheelchair to make Maps help make the world easier to navigate. Now Sasha is sharing some good news:

People can now turn on an “Accessible Places” feature to have wheelchair accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps. When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms or parking. If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, we’ll show that information on Maps as well.

It’s cool to see what a community-powered effort this is:

Today, Google Maps has wheelchair accessibility information for more than 15 million places around the world. That number has more than doubled since 2017 thanks to the dedication of more than 120 million Local Guides and others who’ve responded to our call to share accessibility information. In total, this community has contributed more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates to Google Maps. Store owners have also helped, using Google My Business to add accessibility information for their business profiles to help users needing stair-free access find them on Google Maps and Search.