Impressions from one month in Gotham

As it’s been a while since I posted, I thought I’d give an overview of my first month in NYC. In short, I’ve been having a great time!

Work has settled down now and I’m getting stuck into some really exciting, challenging research. I can’t say exactly what I’ve been working on, but it’s a challenging problem in MIR and one which could have huge impact if it works out. Also all the guys and gals at labROSA (new website coming soon!) have been really welcoming. Everyone’s working on awesome projects, from classification of soundtracks and subsequent playlist generation to large scale cover song recognition.

I’ve also been visiting friends in Boston and have to say it was great to get out of the city for a few days. We went to MIT and Harvard; both have stunning campuses and I could well imagine working there some day (pictured is the AI lab at MIT). Also sampled were Boston cupcakes, beers and accents.

I’ve also been keeping busy finding out new music. I recently discovered Band of Horses through Rachel Kurtz. We went to see their album launch party in Brooklyn (kind of strange going to a launch party of a band you don’t know anything about, but why not). I’ve also just found out that I’ve got a ticket to the Global Citizen festival in central park this weekend, and they’ll be playing there (along with Neil Young, the Foo Fighters, and others)! Twice in two weeks…

I thought I’d end by listing some small things I’ve learnt about the city:

  • Going North/South is a lot easier than going East/West!
  • No-one cooks. Ever.
  • Food is big. I mean really big. A salad can constitute a meal easily.
  • Sometimes it’s just easier to put on an American accent and say ‘faucet’,'trash’ etc than the resulting hassle of having a British dialect!
  • I still don’t understand the difference between ‘credit’ vs ‘debit’ and ‘checking’ vs ‘savings’, or why sometimes at random I have to sign for purchases and other times now
  • Tipping is necessary everywhere, but the infrastructure isn’t really there to support it. A cheque comes for a group meal, from which each person has to work out what they from the itemised billing, divide up the tax, decide how much they would like to add for gratuity, and pay. Sounds simple enough, but most places will only split up to 3 ways, some want gratuity on the check, others only cash, sometimes there’s a maximum number of cards they take…complicated!
  • Clubbing is rare, but happy hours are commonplace =)

That’s it for now! Looking forward to lots of visits in the coming months, as well as celebrating my birthday next week!

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