Whoah, I actually listened to a enough music this year that was released in this year that I could pick a favorite. (note: Nelly Furtado is timeless, so she'll always be out of the running) Hemstad's self-titled album put out by Catbird Records wins! Except you can't buy it now. It's sold out. But wow, check out that sample song "Fyllekärring". You should totally go back in time and buy this album.
Here's the top 20 list of 2006 of my most listened to stuff recorded by Last.fm. Number in parenthesis is the number of times played. The problem with this list is I tend to throw one band on and listen continuously, so bands like Hemsted, who got over 100 plays on my computer, don't even show up. I'd say this list is a good representation of what I completely freaked out on for a good week or so this year. Definitely the case with Be Your Own PET.
I didn't get to into it in my last post, but the other part of Coffee Break Spanish that impresses me is their adoption of good tools.
Their blog is run off of TypePad, an excellent blogging service for businesses. I use TypePad specifically because I don't have to maintain or troubleshoot an installation, and frankly I don't have time in my life to fret over a bad database index or some dumb PERL requirement. Oh, I could run MT or Wordpress, and I know there are cool little things I'd love to do with my blog, but really, TypePad just works. I think this is why it's been such a hit with businesses who don't want to call up the IT guy every time something goes wrong with the blog.
I'm not familiar with the many podcast services and directories they use except for iTunes, but I can imagine they all increase awareness in their own way. And it looks like they use Feedburner to track it all which is very smart.
Finally, they are paying attention to their listeners. Not long after I posted about finding their podcast, Mark, the teacher, was in the comments so you know he's watching Technorati or at least the iTunes referrer log as I didn't link his site directly.
It's a 3rd party tool success story if there ever was one. As a web developer I'm interested in seeing where they take this, as a student I feel like I'm in good hands.
This year I decided to learn Spanish. One would think the surname, the place I grew up, the sombrero, would all indicate some working knowledge of Spanish–but no, I'm pretty much illiterate when it comes to the language.
"¿Que? Que es, plato?"
"Yo vivo en una escuela de pescados. Plato."
See? Gibberish. Don't be fooled, I have excellent pronunciation, mainly due to years of practice imitating my dad saying "Chicago", otherwise, I'm a mess.
So, I did some looking around and it turns out there's a podcast being produced by (I'm not joking) a pair of Scottish podcasters in Scotland. The chemistry between them is outstanding, and Mark, the teacher is very good at balancing the lessons so they aren't too advanced but stay interesting. I think the key to the podcast is they try to keep it around 15 minutes and each episode builds on the previous work.
It's called "Coffee Break Spanish" and it's entirely free. There are study materials that cost a nominal fee (like $1) that are produced along with each podcast, but I haven't needed them.
The only thing that's a little odd is the differences between the Spain Spanish versus the Mexican Spanish my parents speak. For example, "mujer" in Mexican Spanish means "woman" but in Spain it means "wife". And of course there is the Spain Spanish lisp that would probably get a few laughs if I tried talking to my relatives with it.
But I can't recommend the podcast enough. Check it out.