Spotify Streaming Music Service Now Available in the U.S.

spotify usa interface premium

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have access to Spotify for a couple years now and for the past several months have been paying for the premium service. Now… I can FINALLY stop biting my tongue (or making friends jealous): Spotify opened for business in the U.S. last week! Hit me up with an email if you’d like an invite for the free, ad-supported version. Or go ahead and sign up here if you’re ready to dive in (can’t go wrong trying it out for a month) at $4.99 or $9.99/month for the fully featured desktop streaming or fully-featured mobile syncing respectively.

Read more below — a republishing of the article I wrote for LAist on July 13, the eve of Spotify’s U.S. launch — or read any of my previous posts on the service.

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Opportunity Gap: Does it Exist in Schools Near You?

los angeles schools pro publica opportunity gap

Pro Publica has published a database that makes it easy for you to compare your access to quality education and at what cost in an effort to provide insight into the opportunity gap demonstrated by economic difference in the classroom.

The data for L.A.-area school districts indicates that the higher the percentage of students who get free or reduced-price lunches the lower the percentage of students who take at least one AP course. For example, 76 percent of LAUSD students receive free or discounted lunches and 16 percent take at least one AP course. The data flips, however, for Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified: 1 percent get free/reduced priced lunch, and 41 percent take at least one AP course.

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Once-Mighty Myspace Acquired for Measly $35 Million

myspace acquired by specific mediaAfter months in search of a buyer, Myspace has finally been acquired. In an email to employees late Wednesday morning, CEO Mike Jones broke the news to employees in an email late Wednesday morning, according to TechCrunch.

Specific Media will acquire the fledgling social network turned social entertainment site for $35 million according to All Things D.

“Today, we are announcing that Myspace will be acquired by Specific Media, one of the world’s leading online media and advertising platforms,” Jones wrote in the email addressed to Myspacers. “Over the next few days you will be hearing from the team at Specific, including their CEO, Tim Vanderhook, regarding their exciting plans for Myspace and how it fits in with the overall vision of their company.”

Jones indicated in the email that a significant reduction in staff was imminent, adding that he would be stepping down as CEO of Myspace after assisting with the transition to Specific Media over the next two months.

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Google Updates Web Fonts Site, Adds Hundreds of Fonts

Google Web Fonts v2

One of my favorite Google features got a facelift and a major upgrade this week. Google Web Fonts makes it easy to stretch your typographic design far beyond the limitations of the basic, old school, web-friendly fonts of the world wide web.

Today the Web Fonts kit graduates from the Google codebase to the big G at google.com/webfonts/v2 and adds a suitcase for you to collect and easily reference your favorite fonts. And there are now 180 font families to choose from.

As I ecstatically posted last year:

Now we’ve got the quickest shortcut to open-licensed, cross-platform fonts since… well it’s only been a few months since a bunch of designers and typographers got together to develop the Web Open Font Format, a soon-to-be-standardized font specification that wraps core web fonts (including Apple’s TrueType and Microsoft’s OpenType) into an encoded, embeddable file. Google also partnered with TypeKit to offer the Web Font Loader, offering more flexibility.

That’s not all Google updated today — the new homepage top nav bar gives it a slick Android 3.0 look and feel. On top of that — the announcement of Google+, currently in closed beta.

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Mirror.me Reflects Your Online Social Identity

mirror.me is the latest web app to mash up a user’s Twitter data and spit it back in beautiful tag clouds, graphs, and pie charts. My profile is both a flattering and — I’d say — accurate representation of my various foci and communities based on a sampling of my Twitter friends, followers and the content of my tweets.

Go to Andy Sternberg's Mirror.Me Reflection

Mirror.me is a Champaign, IL-based start up and may be the best looking twitter tag cloud mashup since tweetcloud itself. What do you think?