Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2010
ZOMFG! APPLE IS HOLDING A SPECIAL MEDIA EVENT ON JANUARY 27th!
For a Certified Apple Whore such as myself, this is the equivalent of getting a free 3-month supply of hookers with a case of Snack-Pack Chocolate Pudding on top. The question is... will His Holiness, Steve Jobs, be the one to run the event? Because that's the difference between your free hookers having all their teeth or not (admittedly, some guys find the idea of a toothless strumpet to be Prostitute Nirvana, but I assure you that I am not one of them).
Obviously, my preference would be for Mr. Jobs to descend from the heavens on a sun-beam, alight on that high pedestal upon which I place him, and unleash the new hotness that Apple has up their collective sleeves...
But, when push comes to shove, I'll reluctantly accept a Jobs substitution by Jonathan Ivy, Phil Schiller, or whatever other dentally-challenged whores they've got hanging around at Apple. In this case, it's not the messenger, it's the message that's important. Hell, Apple's new toy could be stuck in a pile of flaming dog shit and dropped on-stage by Dick Cheney riding a three-legged goat while masturbating to donkey porn... it just doesn't matter. If the "device" Apple is announcing is up to their usual awesome standards, nobody would notice.
The rumor mill is saying that the "device" is a tablet computer of some sort. Kind of like a giant iPhone... but with magical properties that have yet to be defined.
I'm putting my bets on no-smudge anti-gravity screen, nuclear battery with a 100-year charge, and a psychic brain-link interface. Pudding rack optional.
Either that, or the iToast is making its debut at last.
Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
I fully admit to being a total Apple Whore. I love Apple. I (heart) Macintosh. I worship Steve Jobs. If Jonathan Ive were to ask me to have his baby, I'd look into the necessary surgery. My MacBook Pro is more important to me than tacos. If I had to choose between losing a testicle or losing my iPhone, I'd give it some serious thought... and then say goodbye to one of my testicles. I don't just drink the Apple Kool-Aid, I have a constant supply being fed intravenously. I stop short of masturbating during a Steve Jobs keynote, but just watching him on-stage as he changes the world is enough for me to want to touch myself inappropriately.
This is not news. I've proclaimed my slutty predisposition so many times in this blog that if you were to Google Image Search "Apple Whore" I come up at #5. Literally...
Well, okay, it's me as a Lil' Dave cartoon, but you get the picture.
And yet... my being an Apple Whore is not a totally unhealthy relationship because there are things I don't like about Apple and their products, and have never been afraid to say so (how else will they learn?). In this respect I have no problem being proud of my whore status.
Which brings us to Apple's latest miracle on earth... the iPad...
Glorious, isn't it?
Well, kind of.
If your need of a "computer" extends to casual email and web surfing, renting an occasional video, looking at an occasional photo album, and perhaps playing a few games from time to time... well, it's great. And there's even bonus stuff like a calendar, address book, e-reader, and various cool apps you can add. This puts your "digital life" in the palm of your hand in a way that most people would absolutely love.
Except this device isn't really made for me... both because of what I need out of a "computer" and what Apple left out. Sure I want an iPad (I'm an Apple Whore, after all), but I certainly don't need an iPad. In all honesty, it's just an unnecessary extra piece of equipment that my MacBook Pro and iPhone already have covered (and covered much better).
That being said... this is just fantastic for its target audience.
But not flawless by any means.
I'm not going to nitpick the thing apart here with my personal wish-list for a tablet machine. That would be kind of pointless given that I need an actual "computer" and this is more of a "device with some computer functionality." I'm not who Apple built the iPad for, so complaining that it doesn't have a 500 gig hard drive and run Photoshop is just plain stupid. What I will do is list the two things that most bother me... keeping the intended user in mind.
• No iChat Camera.
This is simply unfathomable. Apple will stuff a camera in a freakin' iPod NANO... but doesn't put a camera on the iPad for video conferencing ability? And I don't want to hear about how this would adversely affect AT&T's already overburdened network... they could have easily limited it to just WiFi connections. It's insanity. I keep thinking how cool it would be to get an iPad for my grandmother and video-chat with her when I'm traveling. This device could make it so easy for her. Such a huge missed opportunity, and impossible for me to understand...
• Shitty E-Reading File Format
Newspapers and magazines are dying because they can't survive in a digital world where people expect everything to be free. Apple had a golden opportunity to address this with their iTunes book store for iPad, but then dropped the ball because they went with the shitty "ePub" file format. Sure it's great if all you want to do is shove book text to the reader like a Kindel. But forget about having any decent formatting tools. This pretty much kills any magazine, comic, or book which requires any kind of layout for proper visual presentation. It's most certainly a decision based squarely on helping book publishers create content with a format they already know, but I can only hope that Apple eventually adds an "iMagazine" reader and backs it with PDF-like control over elements for everybody else. I was hoping... praying... that Apple would come up with something that would allow indie publishers the same kind of ability for magazine sales that indie musicians have with iTunes for music sales. Alas... not. Not yet anyway. Sure there are third party apps that can do something similar, but they don't have the power and ease of iTunes distribution behind them. Heck, I'd be happy if Apple just allowed some kind of PDF conversion to run through the iTunes Store for document sales, that would be fine. But we get nothing? Sad.
If just those two things were addressed, I'd feel a lot better about pronouncing iPad a triumph. Yes it would be nice to have some other stuff... an external memory slot... removable battery... 100% DRM-free media... a GPS... multi-tasking OS... color e-ink non-glare screen... free network access for purchases... and on and on... but those can all be explained away logically for one reason or another (whether I agree with the reasoning or not). I just don't see how leaving out an iChat camera and lacking a decent publication format can be put in that same boat. I honestly feel they belong there, or else the iPad is incomplete.
In the final analysis, I just don't know. The "iMagazine" stuff could be easily added... but a camera (if it ever comes) is a second generation hardware feature that early-adopters will miss.
Still, if you're just looking for a way to handle email, surf the web, and play with apps, I admit the iPad is an attractive alternative to a netbook. The fact that Apple put so much into polish and ease of use is just icing on the cake.
But that's always the case for Apple, and why I continue to be an Apple Whore.
Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2010
Reading reactions to Apple's iPad announcement yesterday has been the best entertainment I've had in ages... and I've seen Avatar in IMAX 3-D.
The thing that as become crystal clear to me as I wade through the massive amount of hatred and disappointment is this: People. Just. Don't. Get. It. Most of the computer trade and the geek culture is at a boiling point because the iPad isn't a "real computer" and they can't play Flash content, multitask apps, make a phone call, or any number of other things. But that's like complaining that your new DVD player can't make toast... it's simply not designed for that. The iPad is a digital lifestyle device that is internet-enabled. And, even though it can do many of the things people use computers for, it was never meant to be a computer.
And that's perfectly okay. As I said yesterday, the iPad isn't for me either. I've got my MacBook Pro and my iPhone which are made specifically to meet my needs.
As I also said yesterday, the things I have a problem with have to do with what the iPad IS not what it ISN'T. It IS supposed to be a communication and connectivity device. Therefore it SHOULD have an iChat front-facing camera to compete in this arena. It IS supposed to be an e-book/media reader. Therefore it SHOULD have better layout abilities in its iBook file format to accommodate magazines, comics, picture books and the like.
And maybe that's coming in iPad 2.0, I don't know. But they're glaring omissions in an otherwise beautiful device... for its intended audience. And that would be people who just want a simple, functional, easy-to-use device for handling their media and doing occasional web surfing and email. The apps, games, and extras are just a bonus to make it an even more useful a tool for its intended audience.
And that could potentially be many, many individuals once that "target audience" is understood to be people who aren't looking for a computer in tablet form, but something else.
I can think of lots of people who don't really want or need a computer, but would love to have a compact device just to store their photos and share them with people. And iPad makes one heck of an amazing photo album, easily able to organize thousands of photos and display them beautifully with ease...
I can think of lots of people who don't really want or need a computer, but would love to be able to rent an occasional movie for an airplane trip. And iPad makes one heck of a media player... with a video rental store built right in! It's a better-looking movie viewer than any portable DVD player I've seen (and far less hassle for renting DVDs), that's for sure...
I can think of lots of people who don't really want or need a computer, but would love to have an easy way to look up things on the internet from time to time. And iPad makes one heck of a web browser, bringing intuitive access to the internet in a way that is natural and understandable...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that iPad can do so much more above and beyond these things... all so elegantly, intuitively, and easily... is a very big deal. It's a multifunctional device which can be expanded to do amazing things with the thousands of apps that are going to run on it. So dismissing iPad as nothing more than a "giant iPod Touch" is hardly a negative. iPod Touch is too small to be truly practical for many of these things anyway. Even in cases where the portability is more desired than practicality, there are still some instances where the larger screen of the iPad would be sweet indeed... such as running the amazing Ask Dave! app SUPER-SIZED...
The only question is whether or not all those people for which this device would be perfect will be willing to buy one. That's a very good question, and I just don't know. Something tells me a decent number of them will.
And once the apps start coming down the pipe which expand the iPad into areas people aren't expecting? I'm guessing it's going to be perfect for a lot more people than what most everybody who is predicting failure might think.
Apple is undoubtedly counting on it.
Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2010
Today is Adobe Photoshop's 20th anniversary! Congratulations to the Knoll Brothers who started it all!
Along with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop is a program that I use most every single day. I honestly cannot imagine my life... personal or professional... without it. I use it for editing photos, laying out designs, creating original art, and enhancing-corecting-manipulating any kind of bitmap image. I've used it so often and for so long that much of the time I don't even have to think about using it. I just do. I have become one with Photoshop. This didn't happen right away, of course. It's been a long road.
The first time I used Photoshop was at a technical demonstration in Seattle. My best friend and I headed over the mountains to look at a new "lost-cost" image scanner (over a $1000, but that was "cheap" for the time). The software used to manipulate the resulting scan was... wait for it... Photoshop. The program was borderline miraculous and had jaw-dropping features which allowed for some powerful, yet easy, photo adjustments.
A couple years later, scanner prices had dropped to the point where I could finally afford one. The model I purchased (made by Mustek, I think) came with a copy of Photoshop 2.5, which was actually more exciting to me than the actual scanner. The software was so expensive to purchase alone that it would be pretty odd to buy it without a scanner, since you were basically getting a scanner for free out of the deal. Except it ran only on a Macintosh and I had an Atari ST computer at the time. This was a major bummer, but ended up being a good thing because I went into debt and bought my first Mac (a Centris 650) one month later...
From having used Photoshop since version 1.0 and owned it from version 2.5, it's amazing to me how the core functionality really hasn't changed that much. Sure version 3.0 added layers, which was about as revolutionary a feature as you're going to get, but it was pretty much just gravy on top of the Photoshop I was already using... and would continue to use right up through today, two decades later.
And, on that happy note, it's time for bed. I've got a long drive ahead of me in the morning.
Posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010
Yes, I am getting an iPad.
But only for a project I'll be working on... it's not something I anticipate keeping. I need a "real" computer to do my work, so my MacBook Pro laptop is always with me. And since I'm never without my iPhone as well, there just doesn't seem much point in carrying around one more gadget everywhere I go. So, after I'm done with it, I'll be giving the iPad to my mom, where I anticipate it will mostly be used as a photo album (seriously, the iPad is the most beautiful, amazing way to organize and display photos ever, as shown in this Apple tour video).
While my interest in the iPad is minimal just now, the one area where I'm intrigued with its possibilities is publishing.
I am absolutely fascinated with the idea of the iPad being used as a new distribution model for visual printed media like magazines and comic books. How sweet is it that you can eliminate the two most expensive parts of publishing printed media... the paper/printing and the postage... and just sell your work digitally at a more affordable price!
Except, just like the music industry before it, publishers are being positively fucking stupid about the future.
Because THIS is what I saw when I was looking at the cost for buying an issue of Marvel Comics from the iPad...
A DOLLAR NINETY-NINE EACH?!? And these comics are from 1963!! FORTY-SEVEN YEAR-OLD DIGITAL COMICS FOR $1.99 EACH?!? WTF?!?? This is just insane. I buy my current comics at discount from a comic mail order company and pay $1.85 each for A PHYSICAL BOOK! A physical book that I get to keep and save and collect. With the iPad you get a digital file that has
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
But what about magazines?
Well, let's take a look. You can currently get a physical copy of TIME Magazine delivered to your mailbox for 36¢ an issue with a
The cost to buy the same thing digitally with your iPad?
Yes, you read that right... FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS AN ISSUE!! WTF?!? Does the iPad version of TIME Magazine come with a blow-job or something?? By buying digitally, I save the publisher from having to pay for paper & printing AND postage. And what do I get for my trouble? I HAVE TO PAY A 1286% PRICE INCREASE!!
How does this make ANY kind of sense?
By eliminating the cost of paper, printing, and postage, digital versions should COST LESS than their physically printed counterparts... NOT MORE! Or, at the very least, they should be the same price.
And so here I sit not giving a fuck if magazine publishers die a slow, painful death. They are literally too stupid to survive. So let them die. Eventually a new media replacement that doesn't have their heads up their asses will rise up and take their place.
It's only a matter of time, and I have plenty of patience.
Posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
If the idea of a Certified Apple Whore bitching about the new iPad disturbs you... please look at the cute kitten below and ignore the rest of this entry. Come back tomorrow when there will be monkeys and pie!
I have named the new iPad "Paddington" and like him a lot. He is about the sexiest piece of tech to come along in quite a while, and Apple deserves a lot of credit for creating such a revolutionary device in a field that's been riddled with a crushing lack of success (including Apple's own "Newton" device). For the most part, I think iPad is dreamy, and there are a bajillion websites out there with reviews waxing poetic about how frickin' sweet it is.
And yet it is far from perfect.
But before I get to the astounding number of inexplicable failures in both functionality and usability, there's a few things I won't be covering that everybody else seems to be complaining about...
The iPad is a multi-functional device that becomes different appliances when apps are run on it. It's not a computer, it's not meant to be a computer, and trying to force computer-related baggage onto it is like being upset because your toaster doesn't make margaritas. This is a new kind of device for a new kind of user, and anybody needing that kind of stuff should just go buy a computer. Whining because iPad doesn't support the bloated, battery-draining, resource-stealing, crash-prone pile of garbage known as "Flash" is the kind of backwards thinking that drives me insane. If you need Flash functionality and iPad/iPhone/iPod users are important to you, then either simulate it with HTML5 or build an app if that doesn't work. Trying to change Steve Job's mind about Flash is just pointless, so let's move on. The future awaits.
To read what I DO have to say about the iPad, I've put the whole whiny mess in an extended entry. Enjoy!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, April 10th, 2010
For those who are just sick of hearing about iPad, I apologize. But the more I play with it, the more I realize that Steve Jobs wasn't just blowing smoke up people's asses when he called iPad a "magical and revolutionary device"... minor criticisms aside, it really does feel a bit like magic sometimes... mostly because it has this uncanny ability to just disappear, leaving nothing between you and what you're interacting with.
As if that wasn't enough, iPad is responsible for Betty White, Apple Genius, to appear on Craig Ferguson...
Since iPad is so new there aren't a huge number of releases for it yet, but I have run across three great apps that are worth having...
Star Walk ($4.99). This astronomy app is a nice star map app with a good-sized catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, and other stellar objects. It's slick, polished, and beautiful, but what makes it so cool is the "Star Spotter" function it inherited from the iPhone version. Hold the iPad up to the night sky, and it will use your location and direction to follow your moves and display a map of what you're seeing. Magical...
Tap something on the display then hit the info button, and StarWalk zooms in and tells you all about it...
On the iPhone, the app was nice, but not very practical because the tiny size made usability difficult. But on iPad's beautiful big, display it's fantastic. If you have even a passing interest in astronomy, it's $5 well-spent.
Ocean Blue ($9.99). While $10 may seem pricy for a passive application like a virtual aquarium, the quality here is pretty amazing and it's the perfect app to show off your iPad. Just like StarWalk, you can move Ocean Blue around, and the virtual display will pan around the ocean, allowing you to "dive" and look around (you can also tap-navigate as well). There's currently not a big variety of fish you can choose from, but the developer has promised more in future updates. If they look and move as beautifully as the current batch, a terrific piece of software is just going to get better and better...
Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone ($6.99 for a limited time). One of my favorite cartoon creations, Sam & Max, Freelance Police have come to iPad with an adventure game that's pretty sweet. Things start out kinda confusing... homicidal rabbit-thingy Max has unexplained psychic powers, and you're dropped into the end of the story. From there, you have to piece together not only the mystery of what happened and how it happened, but how to stop it from happening again. Like I said, confusing... but still a lot of fun. I've run into occasional audio drop-outs and video stutters, but the overall game is so hilarious and clever that you won't be too disappointed. The game is played by moving the characters around and tapping on objects to interact with them. With the help of Max's psychic powers, you solve puzzles and move the story forward. But the best news? This is only the first episode, and there's four more to come...
Overall, not a bad start. As more and more developers start taking advantage of what the iPad is capable of, the future is going to be magical indeed.
Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010
Today would have been one of my best friend's 50th birthday had he not passed away nine years ago. I try to think of what crazy thing I might have done to celebrate the occasion had he lived to see it, but I am drawing a complete blank. Probably because I don't care about a birthday party... I just want him back. People say that you miss a person less and less as time goes on, but that certainly hasn't been the case here. There are just too many reminders.
He loved Dr. Who, so any time an episode airs, he's there. He never got to see any of the "new" series that began in 2005, and so I can't help but wonder what he would think. Enjoying Dr. Who is mostly impossible for me, as it's the most frequent painful reminder that he's gone. But it's not just Dr. Who. As a fellow sci-fi geek, he was often the first person I'd turn to when some new sci-fi television show or movie debuted. The crappy Star Wars prequels were made even worse because my friend wasn't there to laugh with me over the heinousness of it all. It works both ways, I suppose. He was around to experience the sheer brilliance of The Matrix for which I am eternally thankful... but he was spared from the awful sequels which destroyed the franchise for me. Small consolation, to be sure, but when your best friend is gone, I guess you have to cling to whatever small blessings you can find.
And then there's Star Trek.
The wonderful re-imagining by J.J. Abrams last year was truly bittersweet. Yes I loved the movie. But enjoying it was impossible. Both my friend and I were massive fans. We went to at least a dozen Star Trek conventions together over the years. We met all the primary (and many not-so-primary) castmembers of "The Original Series" and "The Next Generation" series and collected their autographs. We talked about the shows for hours. Star Trek was such an hugely important diversion for the both of us that it's unthinkable that I could ever see anything even remotely Trek-related without my best friend haunting me. The sheer number of great memories I have from our wacky adventures at Trek conventions alone could fill a book. I've been so sorely tempted to share some stories from those days on my blog, but I can never bring myself to do it. It would be like giving away a part of him, and I'm entirely too selfish to do that. Memories are all I have now, and they've become like some closely-guarded secret that I never want to share. A part of me hopes I change my mind one day, because there are tales entirely too good not to share. I guess we'll see if I get less selfish in my old age. Somehow I doubt it.
Our shared sci-fi infatuation also treaded into literary diversions. We attended numerous book signings and author readings together for writers such as William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Douglas Adams, and many others. This is something for which I owe him a tremendous debt, because I'm certain I would have never attended these on my own. I look back on my life and remember such incredible moments as hearing Douglas Adams read from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Clive Barker discussing the thinking behind his own personal favorite novel, Imajica, and wonder what memories I have that could possible replace them. There aren't any. Those moments... those shared moments... are priceless. And I owe them entirely to my friend.
If there was one area we had =zero= overlap, it would be music. His favorite musical artist was Tori Amos. I've never understood it. Even after he dragged me to one of her concerts I was left unimpressed. No doubt she is a truly gifted songwriter and performer, but her stuff just isn't for me. He, of course, had no interest in my 80's New Wave music addiction. New releases by bands like Depeche Mode and The Thompson Twins that would put me over the moon for weeks were just something for him to laugh at. I remember when Depeche Mode's Ultra was released we were in Seattle, so I picked it up. When we got back to his place, I was so excited to listen to the album that I couldn't hop in my car and drive home to listen to it... I had to listen to it now and popped it into his CD player. The minute Barrel of a Gun started thumping through the speakers, his reaction was to pick up his cat, cover her ears, and say "It's okay... it will all be over soon." Insulting my favorite band like that would have been unforgivable if it weren't so damn funny. Whenever I hear a song from Ultra I just picture his cat looking completely puzzled as my friends hands covered the side of her head. I love the memory almost more than the music.
Television, books, movies, sci-fi, comics, and all the geeky crap that went with them were an integral part of what kept us friends for so long. But they were all incidental to the one thing that brought us together... computers.
My friend ran a local computer bulletin board system (BBS) where other computer geeks could dial in with their telephone modems to send messages to each other and share information. It was a crude (very crude) precursor to equivalent services that would later become commonplace on the internet, but that was all we had. Every once in a while users from the various local BBSs would assemble in Real Life for a "Pizza Bash" where many friendships ended up forming. Including ours. Despite different platforms (I was Atari, he was Amiga) the wild computer frontier was an adventure we shared until the day he died (though it was a lot less "wild" in later years).
I don't have a single computer-related memory worth remembering that doesn't have my friend in it. Even when I didn't know who he was, and a "personal computer" was just something freaky and new at the high school library to goof around with, he was there. And, as he was six years ahead of me in school, that's quite a feat. Turns out he helped the local computer shop install/maintain/repair the school computers from time to time. And so he was there from the beginning for me (he was also there when we got to meet Kiki Stockhammer and Wil Wheaton during a NewTek Video Toaster workshop, but that's another story).
The great equalizer between us in the computer platform wars was the Macintosh. I bought a Mac so I could use Photoshop with the pricy scanner I had just purchased. I was instantly smitten, and my loyalty to Atari computers vanished overnight (an Apple Whore was born!). My friend remained a steadfast Amiga user, despite my constant pressure for him to switch.
Myst was a revolutionary (for the time) graphical adventure game released in late 1993. More than a game, it was an all-absorbing work of art. There was nothing else really like it, and it ran only on Macintosh computers with a CD-ROM. I bought the game because somebody had recommended it to me, but never actually played it until weeks later. The minute I finally started the game, I called my friend at work and told him "YOU HAVE TO COME SEE THIS!!" So he ditched work and came over... then spent the next ten hours hunched over the computer with me playing it until the wee hours. He bought a Mac for himself the next day. That's a bond which can't be broken.
After he had become a Mac convert, my friend dragged out this awesome Macintosh "Picasso Logo" promo-light he had gotten from a local computer shop that was tossing it out. The light was absolutely beautiful and very rare. Mac Whore that I am, I of course wanted it. I coveted that thing every single time I saw it and joked with him once about stealing it. He just laughed that laugh of his and said "Well, you can have it when I'm dead!" For years after, I would joke about plotting his demise so the light would be mine at last. "It's worth risking a manslaughter prison term, you know," I'd say...
Photo taken from RedLightRunner
For the past nine years it's been agony every time some cool new technology is released and my friend isn't here to share it with me. Mac OS X was released the day before he died. The iPod came seven months later. When the iPhone was released I was depressed for days because it was Star Trek come to life and the first call I wanted to make on it was to my friend. How can I miss him less and less over the years when technology is all about being more and more? There's always something new coming out. He's always the person I want to talk about it with (Myst is available on the iPhone now, for heavens sake!). And that never fades. It never goes away.
March 24th, 2001 I was in Seattle celebrating my birthday with my sister and friends in Seattle. The next day as I was recovering from the drunken debauchery of the previous night, I got a phone call from my mother telling me I needed to call my friend's wife. But I didn't need to call. It's one of those moments you "just know" something terrible has happened and you're about to make a call that changes everything. But I did call his wife. And it did change everything. My best friend of the past sixteen years was gone.
After the funeral, my friend's wife and mother generously invited me over to see if there was anything I wanted to have as a reminder of him. And while there was a lot of stuff of his I'd have loved to own, there wasn't a single bit of it that I wanted. No "thing" could ever take his place. No piece of "stuff" would make me miss my friend any less.
So I politely refused.
After I took the Macintosh Picasso Logo Light, of course.
The bastard would have been furious with me if I hadn't.
Happy 50th birthday, Howard. I love and miss you every day.
Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010
I have plenty of great night shots of illuminated objects, but the first thing which came to mind when I saw today's word for the TWENTY/TWENTY meme is the Apple Store Fifth Avenue in New York City. It is beautiful in photographs, but positively captivating in person... a beacon of light and hope to Mac Whores (like me!) from around the world...
In other news, my internet has been horribly slow and choppy all night. At first I thought it was my internet connection because, let's face it, Charter Cable Internet pretty much sucks off-and-on... but investigating the problem led me to believe that it's my wireless network. When I first moved to the neighborhood, I was the only person with WiFi. Now there are eight of us broadcasting in the area. Manually choosing an empty channel, enabling "interference robustness," and restricting access by MAC address seems to have helped... but for who knows how long?
Posted on Sunday, July 18th, 2010
I am really too busy to blog, but if I don't rant about all the fake-ass crap that's been building up inside of me this week, I'll explode. So, apologies in advance...
• Faux Advertising. Am I the only one who thinks that the ads currently running for the new Kia Soul are stupid? I mean, once you get past the cuteness factor of hamsters rapping and driving around, what does it say about the car? That they're so small only hamsters can drive them?
What's odd is that the ad is being overplayed. Almost as if Kia is wanting people to get sick of it. I mean sure it's entertaining one or two times but, once the novelty wears off, it's useless. I'd argue it actually works against the brand, as the existence of this bullet would attest. But, then again, any publicity is good publicity. I guess.
• Faux HD. I was channel-surfing for some background noise yesterday while I worked, and ended up watching Kevin Smith's underrated Jersey Girl on the TBS's HD Channel. And ended up screaming the entire time because the movie was NOT presented in HD. They just took the butchered SD version and stretched it out to fit the HD width. Which is bullshit. Don't go calling yourself an "HD" station if you're not going to show movies in HD. This kind of crap drives me insane. To illustrate, here's a scene from the movie Lost in Translation where a critical conversation is reduced to lips talking...
The scene as God (and director Sofia Coppola) intended.
The scene butchered on Standard-Def television and Pan-n-Scan DVDs.
The scene butchered in Stretched-SD-Faux-HD, ala TBS
And another. This time made worse, because an entire character has been obliterated...
The scene as God (and director Sofia Coppola) intended.
The scene butchered on Standard-Def television and Pan-n-Scan DVDs.
The scene butchered in Stretched-SD-Faux-HD, ala TBS
Now, TBS is hardly the sole offender of butchering movies so stupidly, but they're one of the worst offenders. I wish the FCC would fine stations who misrepresent content. If you're an HD channel showing SD content, then don't distort the content in the hopes that nobody notices. Present it for the butchered bullshit it is...
• Faux Justice. On Monday, child-raping-piece-of-shit Roman Polanski officially got away with violating a 13-year-old girl when Swiss authorities refused to extradite the infamous sexual-predator director back to the US to face charges from 30 years ago. Ultimately, I'm upset that just because somebody directs a few critically-acclaimed films they can get away with rape... but it was a decision for the Swiss, they made their decision, and I understand that. What I don't understand is how a big chunk of Hollywood stood behind Polanski and advocated for his release. People like Natalie Portman. Penelope Cruz. Whoopie Goldberg. Darren Aronofsky. Wes Anderson. And loads more. It's just baffling. My feelings were pretty well summed-up by Chris Rock on Leno a while back when he said "IT'S RAPE! IT'S RAPE!!! in total disbelief. How in the hell do you defend that?
• Faux Hulk. Word dropped this week that Edward Norton, who played Bruce Banner in the last Incredible Hulk movie, was not going to be reprising the role in the forthcoming Avengers movie, even though he wanted to. This is monumentally stupid on so many levels. Mostly because the Hulk is a computer special effect, and Norton only appears when Bruce Banner is in the scene. And, let's face it, in an Avengers movie they're not going to spend a lot of time with Bruce Banner...
Marvel just wanted to save a few bucks, so they used some bullshit conflict with Norton from years ago so they could find a cheaper actor that will kiss their ass. You'd have thought they'd have learned something from the massive success of the Iron Man movie franchise... quality people make a quality product, and you get what you pay for. Not that I'm saying there aren't other actors out there that could do a good job, I just think it's incredibly lame that this is how Marvel has decided to approach the project. Fortunately, Edward Norton has managed to stay classy.
• Faux Righteousness. I've never understood how being Pro-Choice when it comes to abortion automatically removes you from the Pro-Life camp. I am most decidedly Pro-Life... it is the cornerstone of my beliefs. But I fully understand that this is the United States of America where people are allowed to have beliefs that are different from mine, so I am also Pro-Choice (which I explain in further detail here). Being Pro-Choice does not make me "Anti-Life" in any way, it simply makes me supportive of the ideals and freedoms upon which this country was based. And, while I don't in any way support suppressing free speech, I do feel that people should be able to make their choice free from persecution. Especially when the choice is one that's forced upon you and you're heartbroken about it.
Earlier this week, Aaron over at The Daddy Files blogged about having to take his wife to terminate their pregnancy because the baby had a rare birth defect which was causing it to slowly die inside of her. As they approached the clinic, idiotic protesters were there "doing God's work" of mercilessly abusing people by shouting things like "YOU'RE KILLING YOUR UNBORN BABY!!" Which is horrifying enough for a woman who is already scared and vulnerable... but for somebody who wants to have their baby, but can't? It's nothing less than torture. And Aaron decided to do something about it by confronting these monstrous people. I encourage you to read his story. Yes, I'm a Pro-Life-Pro-Choicer. And I am 100% for free speech. But this is not "free speech" it's harassment. It's abusive. It is literally torture. And I think it should be illegal to so ruthlessly persecute women who are already making what has to be a difficult decision THAT'S AFFORDED TO THEM LEGALLY UNDER THE LAW! These are not compassionate people of any God I know. They're evil, pure and simple.
• Faux Problem. What's surprising... but really not... is how most of the bitching about the iPhone 4 antenna problems come from people who don't own an iPhone 4, don't plan to buy an iPhone 4, and just enjoy mindlessly bashing everything Apple does because they're more fanatically obsessed with iPhone than even the people who own one. Of the dozen people I know that ran out and bought iPhone 4, not one has anything but raves for it. I would be one of those people, but Apple still hasn't released the iPhone 4 White, which is the one I want. With a lime green Bumper...
Not to belittle anybody who is having problems, but... If you don't want an iPhone 4, don't buy it. If you bought one and don't like it, bring it back. It's not rocket science.
• Faux Trust. I am more appreciative than anybody will ever know of the people who drop by here to read my crazy crap... then thank me for creating it. I write and draw and photograph things for Blogography pretty much for myself, but it's nice to know that other people like it too. The friends I've made from this website have been a true gift, and I never feel alone no matter where I end up because my online life is always there (AT&T willing). But, as swell as blogging has been to me, I admit to being afraid of it from time to time. More and more, people are treating personal blogs as if they were irreproachable news sources rather than the opinion-pieces they really are. Even here, everything you read is just one opinion with one view and one side of the story. Mine. And even though I've met dozens of people in-person and have been blogging here for years, the scary truth is that I could be a serial killer. Or one of those Russian spies. Or a pathelogical liar. Or an agent of the devil. Or anything.
The fact that I'm a genius who is always right may seem to be a reason to trust everything I do at Blogography... and I totally encourage blind trust and allegiance as a part of my quest for world domination... but I feel compelled to point out that no blog, including mine, will ever have the whole story. I would fervently hope that before acting upon or accepting anything I say or do here, people would attempt to be fully informed. It's not a matter of trust... but responsibility.
Well I certainly feel better now. Annnnd... back to work.
Posted on Sunday, July 25th, 2010
Here I am in the Peach State of Georgia, where it's time once again for Bullet Sunday. Apparently I'm now in an area which is not included in the "97% of Americans" that AT&T's cellular network professes to cover, so Bullet Sunday is about all I got! Thank heavens for WiFi.
• Weather! Hot with a chance of hot humidity and hot thunderstorms? Well, let's just say I don't plan on spending a lot of time outdoors while I'm here...
• Wheaton! While at Comic-Con, I posted a photo of Wil Wheaton to my Flickr stream. After responding to @Whall making a Stand By Me joke about it, I mentioned that I had met Wil Wheaton twice, and wasn't going to stand in line for two hours to meet him again. For this, I got called "bullshit" on by some random stranger, and was told that "Standing in line at a Star Trek convention for a two second autograph doesn't count as 'meeting Wil Wheaton'."
Well, whatever... while I do have an autographed photo of Wesley Crusher that I was happy to stand in line for, that's not what I was talking about. Where I "met" Wil Wheaton was while he was an evangelist touring with NewTek, and it was hardly a "two second autograph." In fact, all I did was talk to him, I didn't even get an autograph at all. Or a photo. Though Wheaton did appear in the background of one of the photos I took of Kiki Stockhammer...
Bazinga! I'd mention that I stood in the airport security line out of San Diego with Paul Sr. of West Coast Choppers (from the TV show American Chopper) yesterday, but you probably wouldn't believe that either. Apparently I have nothing better to do than sit around and invent stories of chance encounters with famous people.
• Waffles! There is not a single Waffle House in all of Washington State (the closest is in COLORADO!), which means the only time I get to eat at one is when I'm traveling. This sucks, but at least I have something to look forward to...
The food is (relatively) inexpensive, tastes good, and available 24 hours. What more could you ask for?
• Wobble! When I was at the San Diego Zoo the other day, I was wandering through the new Elephant exhibit and came across an elephant dancing to some music that was playing nearby (you can barely hear it in the background there, as my iPhone doesn't have the best microphone)...
Rock on, Tantor! Though a part of me is kind of sad at the idea that he might be wobbling around because he's bored in his cage and doesn't have anything better to do. San Diego Zoo is better than most at providing nice habitats for their animals to live in, but it's still a cage at the end of the day.
• Watch! They keep adding cool bits to the TRON: Legacy trailer, which only makes me want to see the film more than ever. December is so far away...
They've youthed Jeff Bridges! And did a really good job of it! I hope the movie lives up to even a fraction of the hype that's building around it.
• Web! I hope that Flash videos in my previous two bullets didn't crash on you! For anybody who says that Mac users who whine about Flash are stuck in the past, and Flash has been much improved and runs perfectly on the Mac, I beg to differ. It's still the bug-ridden pile of bloated FAIL! it's always been, and still crashes all the time, as I can testify to because it happened again just today...
Flash just can't die fast enough.
And now... I guess I really should get back to work.
Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010
All I wanted was a White iPhone 4.
But Apple keeps delaying the shit over and over and over again, so I finally just bit the bullet and went down to the AT&T Store to place my order for a Black iPhone 4. I need it to replace my rapidly dying pocket camera (which is currently being held together with rubber bands), and the idea of having one less thing to carry is very appealing to me.
While I was there, I stood next to another customer who brought forth a very interesting scenario.
Let's say you are upgrading your phone. Let's further speculate that you ask the cell phone store employee to transfer all your ringtones and photos and whatnot to the new phone so you don't have to mess with it.
Now let's say that amongst the photos from your phone's camera there are a number of pornographic shots.
How do you handle that??
I would die immediately. Struck dead right on the spot... not so much from embarrassment, but from the realization that I was stupid enough to leave nasty photos on a camera I handed over to a stranger.
But today I learned there's a way other than death in five easy steps...
Apparently lying solves everything. Even when the lies contradict each other.
You really do learn something new every day.
Posted on Sunday, August 15th, 2010
Bullet Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Let's get ready to Rrrrruuummmmmble!
• Tweet! Most of the time I'm too busy to pay any serious attention to Twitter, but every once in a while it's a scary insight into what I'm going through at any particular moment in time. Today was particularly telling, and had me wishing I self-censored a bit better. Oh well. Too late for that now...
So many times when I'm asked for my opinion on something, I'm tempted to say "no" immediately because more often than not the person has no interest in getting an actual opinion... they just want your praise (whether they deserve it or not). Yet I foolishly try to be friendly and helpful with my critique anyway, sometimes getting burned in the process. It's really too bad, because good constructive criticism can be so much more helpful than faint praise... if people are willing to hear it. The question is, how many times will I get burned before I learn not to offer it in the first place? At this rate, not long at all.
• Fore! Oh how I love my new iPhone 4. It is superior to my iPhone 3GS in absolutely every way... especially signal reception. I can now actually make phone calls at my home without having them fade out, go choppy, or get dropped entirely. I've had no problems with the antenna while making calls, but have had some problems while texting or using apps when I cradle the iPhone to type. It took all of one minute to learn how to shift my hand to not block the antenna, so it's pretty much a non-issue now. If you have a case for your iPhone 4, it never was an issue to begin with. Personally, if I were going case-free and couldn't adapt to "holding different," this is my favorite solution...
And don't get me started on Apple's amazing "FaceTime" feature, which is the future made real...
But the main reason I upgraded to iPhone 4 was for the camera. My pocket camera is being held together with a rubber band and, rather than replace it, I decided to carry one less thing and just take snapshots with the iPhone 4. The camera has been so highly praised that I figured it was a realistic expectation, but was secretly worried it wouldn't live up to the hype.
And, while it is a vast improvement over previous iPhone cameras, it kinda doesn't live up to the hype. Particularly disappointing is night shooting. Sure the light sensitivity is improved, but the grain is outrageously bad... to the point of being unusable except at massively reduced sizes...
I shouldn't be surprised. The lens is just too small to accept enough light in a dim scenario like this. Shots in "normal" lighting are good... fantastic even... but it looks like my iPhone is no threat to my purchasing a new pocket camera for shooting in low-light. Darn it anyway.
Still, in every other respect, the iPhone 4 is pure WIN, and I really do love it. Heaven only knows what Apple has planned for the iPhone 5.
• Freedom? From watching the news and seeing people re-tweet Sarah Palin on Twitter, you'd think that actual terrorists were wanting to build a monument to the Islamic extremists who died during their 9/11 attacks ON TOP OF "Ground Zero" where the World Trade Center once stood. This is so absurd that it might actually be true, so I looked it up and was disappointed to discover that it was, in fact, not. Some American citizens are just wanting to build a Islamic cultural center and mosque TWO BLOCKS AWAY from Ground Zero on PRIVATE LAND. From what I've read, the mosque won't even be visible from the Ground Zero memorial that's being planned. This type of crazy shit drives me insane. The non-stop parade of lies and crazy exaggerations being sold to people for political gain on both sides of the political spectrum have me hoping for the complete collapse of democracy in this country. If people are so damn stupid as to keep falling for this kind of bullshit, then obviously they can't be trusted with democracy. If people are so hot to have somebody tell them what to think and don't care whether it's true or not, I suggest a nice dictatorship, with ME as Supreme Leader. I am more than happy to tell people what to think. Or to go fuck themselves.
UPDATE: I would have just said "Fuck you, Sarah Palin, you bigoted piece of shit," but Mayor Bloomberg is a much more eloquent and inspiring speaker than I could ever be (thanks for the tip, Etienne!)...
And now... time to put my aching head to bed.
Hopefully to sleep this time.
Posted on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Annnnd... Apple had another one of their "Special Events" today.
As usual, it was filled with cool stuff and left me wanting to have Steve Jobs' baby. Again.
The "big news" of the day was the revamp of the iPod line. The tiny iPod Shuffle (my favorite of all the iPods) took a disastrous turn during the last revision when they took away the navigation button. This time, they wisely brought the buttons back, but kept the sweet "VoiceOver" technology which uses a robot voice to compensate for the lack of display...
I'd buy one, but I already have the original iPod Shuffle. Still, the new colors are nice...
And, in even cooler news, Apple revised the iPod nano. My first-generation iPod nano powers my car stereo... I ditched it when I got my first iPod Shuffle because the size was better. Except the new fifth-generation nano is only a little bigger than my existing Shuffle. It's tiny! But, despite the size, Apple managed to fit a multi-touch screen interface, which is damn cool...
I must have one. And have one I shall. I'll just slip my iPod Shuffle into my next AnySoldier.com care package so it doesn't go to waste.
Apple also revised the iPod Touch, but I have an iPhone so I didn't pay attention. I did perk up again when they introduced the new Apple TV though...
They took out the hard drive, which makes the unit absolutely perfect. I never bought the original Apple TV precisely because of the hard drive... no matter how big of one they put in the thing, it will never be big enough. As your media collection grows, the hard drive eventually fills up. My media belongs on an expandable network drive system, not locked away inside a television box. So now I'm actually going to consider buying Apple TV. It's the simplest possible way to stream all my videos, photos, and music to my television (including NetFlix streams!) and the $99 price feels right.
His Holiness Steve Jobs also teased us with a sneak peek at new stuff coming up for the iPad, including PRINTING, which is a much-needed feature for the device. It's also getting all the sweet new iOS 4 iPhone goodies like multitasking and a unified in-box for Mail.
BUT, the thing that fascinated me most to come from the "Special Event" was the revisions to Apple's venerable iTunes. That I'll save for tomorrow...
Posted on Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Yesterday I waxed poetic about Apple's "Special Event" where they unleashed a bunch of new iPods, revised Apple TV, and teased us with new features coming soon for iPhone and iPad. It was all very cool, and renewed my Mac Whore certification (along with my undying love for Steve Jobs).
But His Holiness Jobs did not stop there. He also introduced a new version 10 of iTunes... Apple's venerable media player. Many of the changes I approve, some I don't, and much of it has me feeling indifferent. Let's take a look, shall we?
The first thing you notice is that the icon has changed. The old icon had a CD on it, which doesn't make much sense considering that online downloads are eclipsing CD sales. Pretty soon, people won't even know what the heck a CD is (much like the 8-track tape and cassette). And, while I approve of iTunes getting a new icon, I have to say what they come up with sucks ass...
We finally get an opportunity to move past the gum-drop gloss of the original Apple "Aqua" interface, and you drop the ball by giving us a glowy blue blob that harkens back to design of of years past? What happened to the new "brushed aluminum" look you've been cultivating? That's pretty classy...
It also matches the visual elements of iTunes' interface, and is inline with the DVD Player, but whatever.
The interior of iTunes, oddly enough, is where they are getting rid of the glowy mess and going for a refined, more classy look. Where there's color, it's bright but not offensively so...
In still other places, the color has been eliminated completely. The small sidebar icons are now exclusively monotone. This is a little bit stupid, because color really helps to differentiate things when the images are so very small. Now they all kind of run together...
Usability is getting a modest boost in some areas. My favorite being the album artwork popping up in List View if you have more than five songs on that album. Like Steve says, there's room, so why not? Visual information helps you find what you're looking for faster...
And Apple is also helping add some nice vertical space by shifting the Window controls to a smaller, vertical format. A very good thing, even if it is inconsistent when every other window interface...
Enough about looks, what's new in features? Well... there's finally the ability to rent television shows for 99¢ each. In many cases, that's half the cost of buying the same shows in HD, but you can only watch them once.
And the BIG announcement? It's PING!
What's Ping? It's a "social networking feature" that allows you to follow artists and friends to see what they're playing so you can discover new music. Sound familiar? It should... that's what Last.fm does! I've been using Last.fm for years, sending my awesome musical tastes to the site via an iTunes plugin. I've made some great friends there, and discovered a lot of new music that I love. A part of me really, really wishes that Apple would have simply partnered with Last.fm... or even bought them out... rather than try to reinvent the wheel. Poorly, as it turns out.
First of all, since the service is new, the number of artists participating in it is limited. The "recommended to follow" people they keep giving me is nobody I'm interested in (except perhaps Linkin Park, who I did enjoy back in the day)...
And it only goes downhill from there. When it comes to people, the important thing about music is (surprise) THE MUSIC THEY LIKE. Unfortunately, Apple has limited the music you get to like to the music they sell. This is sublimely stupid. Like the Beatles? Tough shit. They don't exist. Love some local indie band? Too bad. Unless they sell their music on iTunes, they don't exist. One of my favorite bands is a-ha... they only partly exists. Some of their albums can be Pinged... but a majority of them can't be. Scoundrel Days? Nope. Minor Earth, Major Sky? Nope. Analogue? Nope. Their final album, Foot of the Mountain? Nope. The new Deluxe Edition release of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days? Nope. Nope. Much of their live stuff? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Since Ping is supposed to be all about your music, you'd think you'd at least be able to talk about albums you like... even when they're not for sale at iTunes, right? Nope. If Apple doesn't sell it, it doesn't exist, because the like/post feature is tied to the iTunes Store, not your library...
What the fuck?
Apple can brand this as "social networking" all they want, but it's total bullshit. It's a MARKETING TOOL! Apple is getting you to sell music from their store to your friends... AND NOTHING ELSE!! This is beyond FAIL! It's beyond EPIC FAIL! I don't even know a word that describes just how massive a FAIL! that Ping is.
I'll just come out and say it: I fucking HATE Ping. Apple does not get to decide which music exists and which music doesn't. The fact that they feel otherwise is a very, very scary prospect. And a bad business decision. People are going to notice what they're doing here. It's things like this that made Microsoft so roundly hated, and Apple has got to fix it fast. Because it's a short leap from hating Ping to hating Apple. Especially when it comes to something like music, which people get passionate about.
Apple says that they love music. If that's true, let people share ALL their music... not just the music that record labels allow Apple to sell. Otherwise, you aren't loving music at all... just the money it can generate. And while every company is out to make money, they shouldn't be out to become draconian evil bastards who dictate the music people are allowed to share and discuss.
UPDATE: Chris Carlozzi has created a few replacement icons for iTunes 10 which are much, much better than what Apple slapped on it...
Posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
I currently have 67 emails remaining in my inbox. Hopefully none of them are from you.
One of my favorite iPhone apps is Trip Journal (which I reviewed here). For the traveler, it's an awesome way to track your movements with the built-in GPS and document the things you see and do. Since Apple made the iPhone OS multi-tasking, it's even more awesome because you can leave it running in the background all the time. This way, it keeps track of where you go even when you're doing something else. Like making a $70 phone call back home. Or trying to calculate how totally worthless the US dollar is vs. the Euro. Or looking up the Italian translation for "There's a burning sensation when I urinate."
This afternoon while I was put on hold for entirely too long, I remembered that I had Trip Journal running during my vacation and decided to take a look...
The black lines are where iPhone ran out of battery or lost signal or aliens abducted me. The lines in red are where I've been. The app tracks you down to street level, and so everything is there. Including when you go to the bathroom. Or visit a urologist. This is really cool, because you can re-live your entire trip...
After a while, you'd be surprised what you can remember...
Of course, it can also make you entirely confused too...
Hmmm... maybe the lines DON'T turn black when you've been abducted by aliens?
Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
I just got done watching the live video stream of Apple's special event: BACK TO THE MAC and jotted down some observations. But, since I've already posted today, you'll be seeing them a day late. And FYI, my notes are in reverse chronological order...
The new MacBook Air is thin. Shockingly thin. Razor thin. So thin that my only remark about it on Twitter (other than "OH GAWD I WANT ONE SO BAD!") was "Wow, you could seriously cut a bitch with the new MacBook Air!"...
This is awesome on a number of levels. But mostly because you could use it as a weapon if the need should arise. Like meeting Jared the Subway Sandwich Whore on the street and needing something to decapitate him with...
Of course I am dying to own one. For the frequent traveler, it's tiny size and miniscule weight is a dream come true. Unfortunately, it's just not "enough" of a Mac for me to justify buying one. Even maxed out, the speed and storage aren't in the ballpark I need to get my work done.
And yet... I still covet the dang thing.
MAC OS X LION!
The real magic behind the Mac is the Mac OS X operating system. The previous OS update, "Snow Leopard" made the Mac faster, friendlier, and even more reliable, but added few new features. The next OS release, "Lion" (slated for release in Summer of next year) builds on this with some interesting and cool new features, a few of which were shared with us at the event...
The idea here is to take some of the things that Apple learned from creating the iPhone's iOS and bring those features "back to the Mac." To sum up... The OS X APP STORE is nice because it makes managing your applications so much easier. Not that it's all that difficult now, but updates are sure better the iPhone way. Of course, that doesn't mean much if companies like Adobe and Microsoft choose not to use it. LAUNCHPAD brings the elegant and easy iOS app launcher to the Mac. I like the look of it quite a lot, though don't know how critical a feature it really is. FULL-SCREEN is a simple technology that makes the current app fill the screen completely. It dovetails nicely with the growing trend of making app interfaces go full-screen. MISSION CONTROL is the feature I am most happy about. It brings several separate technologies (like Exposé, Spaces, and Dashboard) under a single interface (shown in the image above). It's pretty slick, and will make working between apps much more fluid and easy.
Sadly, none of these features are really blowing my skirt up. They're just nice refinements and borderline unnecessary trinkets that aren't really revolutionary in any way. Don't get me wrong... evolution is nice too... but nothing here inspires confidence that Apple is spending many resources developing for Mac anymore (iPhone leftovers?). Granted, there's a lot of time between now and next summer and many things can change or be added, but overall I am pretty "meh" about Lion after this presentation.
Apple made video conferencing dead-simple in the latest iteration of iOS for iPhone and iPod Touch. It's fast, easy, fun, and highly addictive. But there's two problems. 1) It doesn't work over cellular networks, you must have wifi available to use it. 2) You can't talk to people on Macs or PC's, even if they have a video camera. Well, #2 is finally being addressed...
No client for Windows or Linux or other mobile platforms yet, but since FaceTime is supposedly an "open" platform, I'm sure they'll come soon. Still waiting for being able to FaceTime on my iPhone over 3G. Hopefully one day. In the meanwhile, 3G alternatives are starting to appear. Apple better step it up. Soon. Or bitch-slap AT&T if they're the problem here.
The first "new" thing that Apple decided to talk about was their spectacular "iLife" suite of digital lifestyle applications. It comes free with every new Mac, and you can upgrade to the newest 2011 version for just $49... which is astounding if you stop to consider what you get for your money. All the new features are fantastic, once again bringing professional results with minimal effort and an even more minimal learning curve...
The event started out with a lot of talk about the "State of the Mac" and how it's rated #1 in everything... customer satisfaction, support, reliability, usability, blah blah blah. Basically, all the things that makes me buy a Mac in the first place. It was a nice segue into the true highlight of this segment... and yet another area where Apple is clearly #1 around the world: Retail. They have some of the most beautiful, jaw-dropping, amazing stores you'll ever see, both inside and out. During the event, they showed off a few of their latest...
They're all so very different, yet equally stunning. If you have time to kill, I highly highly recommend clicking through their list of stores at Apple.com. So many incredible architectural wonders to be seen.
I'd say "the end" but since this is in reverse order, I gues this is "the beginning?"
Regardless, way to go Apple!
Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010
Rain is pouring down so hard that it seems as if there's a waterfall outside my window. Gale force winds are howling so loudly that it sounds like somebody is screaming into a megaphone outside my door. I fully expect the roof to be blown off any minute. I hope the windshield wipers are still on my car. Assuming my car hasn't been blown away. Seriously, I wish I could record this, because it's like the apocalypse is going on right now and I have a ringside seat.
And just now the lights started flickering, so I can only guess it's a matter of time before the power goes out. Yay.
Looks like I picked the wrong night to give up insomnia.
Last night I got a grand total of two hours sleep. Tonight is shaping up to be worse.
The good news is that at least I have something to look forward to tomorrow. At least according to Apple's website...
Rumor has it that The Beatles are finally coming to the iTunes Music Store. This is kind of stupid to be getting this excited about, because anybody who's a Beatles fan has already ripped their CDs into iTunes long ago.
I hope it's something more... memorable.
And... the lights just went out and my internet just died. Guess this isn't getting posted tonight.
UPDATE: Internet and power are back! Who knows for how long, so I won't waste any more time getting this nonsense posted!
Posted on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
As predicted by just about everybody, The Beatles have finally come to Apple's iTunes Music Store. Yes, at long last, one of the greatest bands of all time (if not the greatest) has their music for sale by the world's largest music retailer.
As a huge Beatles fan, this is the moment I've been waiting for. When I first "discovered" The Beatles (thanks to my Beatle-loving uncle), I ended up buying all their albums... but on compact cassette tape. Any audiophile reading this blog just started laughing their ass off, but I'm from the cassette generation, and that's just how we bought music back in the day. Not to mention the fact that a Walkman was far easier to carry around than a phonograph and a stack of records...
I had super-awesome yellow Walkman Sports cassette player like this. (Photo by Stephen McFall).
Laugh all you want but, in my defense, at least it wasn't 8-track.
Since you can't rip a tape into an MP3 file without some trickery, I borrowed CDs of all The Beatles albums that I owned on cassette and ripped them to iTunes that way. Technically, I did already own the music, so I didn't consider it to be stealing (so go fuck yourself, RIAA). The problem is that I eventually threw out the cassettes (no way to play them!), and I always felt funny that I couldn't point to the music on my shelf and say "yes, I own them."
Hence, the reason I've been waiting for The Beatles to be sold on iTunes... I want to be "legal" in the eyes of the law. And here was my chance, because I had a $75 cash rebate card burning a hole in my pocket!
But let's back up for a minute...
Last year, every Beatles fan's dream came true when beautiful remastered boxed sets were released of the entire Beatles catalog. Of particular interest to me was the limited edition Mono Box Set. In my humble opinion, mono is the only way to listen to most the first ten Beatles albums* because they were designed to be listened to that way by The Fab Four Themselves. The stereo versions were nothing more than a cobbled-together afterthought that usually sounded hollow and freakishly incoherent in my headphones. Some of the albums are so badly separated into stereo (even on the remasters) that they don't even seem like the same songs. My guess is that stereo was kind of a novelty back in the beginning, so they separated the recording as harshly as possible into distinct left and right channels with no middle in an attempt to make you really notice the technology. Well, you do... and it's overbearing in places... so I don't like it and would rather listen to those gorgeously crisp and brilliant mono tracks the way that God (and The Beatles) intended.
The Limited Edition Mono Box Set looked fantastic, but it was selling for $250 (at discount!) and I couldn't afford it, as much as I was dying to own it...
At the time of release, I said "Hopefully when the songs make it to iTunes, you'll be able to buy the mono versions there."
Which brings us to today...
Much to my profound disappointment, all the tracks in the iTunes Store are from the stereo remasters, which are exactly the versions I don't want. This shocked the hell out of me, because it was my understanding that Steve Jobs Himself is a massively huge Beatles fan, and I assumed he would be a stickler for at least offering the true fan's preferred mono versions of the songs. But, alas, they are nowhere to be found.
Assuming that the Limited Edition Mono Box Set would have long-since sold out and only be available on eBay for thousands of dollars, I went to Amazon and nearly wet myself. Not only was the Mono Set still available, the price had actually dropped to $129.99! This was mind-boggling. That's almost 60% less than the original retail price of $300!
Without hesitation, I bought the set.
On the down-side, I won't be getting all the cool iTunes LP extras that you get when you buy from Apple... and I have to spend hours ripping the CDs... and I still have to buy the three remaining stereo albums not in the set (which I will be getting from iTunes)... but, on the up-side, I'm getting the actual music I've been dying for. At last. No thanks to Apple.
And, where The Beatles are concerned, it's their music that's important.
* The possible exception being "The White Album" which sounds amazing in stereo.
Posted on Saturday, December 4th, 2010
Just a friendly reminder to everybody... BACK UP YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS!
I have now had one person in Real Life, one person on Twitter, and another person on Facebook all lose their photos because a backup failed or something went wrong with their computer. This is such inconceivably horrifying event, that it makes me even more relieved that I am so dang paranoid about backing up everything.
One backup simply isn't enough. My Apple backup solution "Time Capsule" has died once, and become hopelessly corrupted twice (Dear Apple, YOU SUCK! FIX THIS!!). I have had drives go bad on more than one occasion. I've even physically lost a backup drive (and still have no idea what happened to it).
So I have four backups. One external dual-drive RAID set to mirror all data to both drives. Two external backups for my RAID backup that I rotate off-site. And an account with Amazon's Web Storage Services. Because even though I was on vacation just two months ago, the memories are already fading, and the photos are all I have...
Arriving in Valletta, Malta at Dawn
A Side-Street in Sidi Bou Saïd, Tunisia
Overlook from Villa Rufolo Gardens, Ravello, Italy
Looking up at the Mountain Village of Corte, Corsica, France
Oh how I love "Vivid Color Mode" and "Active-D Lighting" on my Nikon D-90! Everything looks like a postcard.
I cannot imagine losing the 40,000+ photos that have documented my life... so I make no apologies for being an annoying doom-sayer paranoid freak when it comes to advocating backups. It's an investment that is well worth the cost.
Posted on Sunday, December 19th, 2010
It's a wacky kind of Bullet Sunday on this cold December day...
• Pink. Genius writer Blake Edwards passed away this week. He was the creator of a number of important works such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Days of Wine and Roses, but will forever be best known as creator of The Pink Panther series of films he made with Peter Sellers. Out of the opening title sequences from those movies came one of my favorite cartoon characters ever... The Pink Panther...
I used to love those cartoons. For the longest time I've wanted to purchase the DVD sets so I could watch them again, but could never justify the rather high price ($60 at Amazon!). Fortunately, they're also available for rent at Netflix (alas, no instant streaming), so I'll have to get on that one of these days. As for Mr. Edwards... thank you for the laughs. May you rest in peace sir.
• Larry. Call me a hater, but I have never liked Larry King. I found his interviews to be to absolute crap. Half the time Larry seemed completely unprepared and left me wondering if he even knew who he was talking to. The rest of the time he was just plain boring. I never understood why he was so popular... except that he somehow managed to attract popular guests on his show. Probably because doing Larry King is so easy and risk-free since his interviews were always so embarrassingly superficial. Definitely not because he was any kind of appealing personality. He always came off as either a creepier version of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons...
... or a freaky alien...
Needless to say, I'm not sorry he's now retired. And while I'd definitely say that Joy Behar is a step up from Larry, I don't think she's particularly winning when it comes to interviews either. So I don't know what CNN is going to do now. Hopefully find somebody who knows how to give a decent interview.
• Shaun! A couple years ago when I was in Germany, I was introduced to a new television series starring Shaun the Sheep... a character from the Wallace & Gromit short fim A Close Shave. As you'd expect from an Aardman Animations production, the show was fantastically funny and clever... and dialogue-free!
Well, after waiting and waiting and waiting, they finally released the complete first season on DVD...
Highest possible recommendation. Seriously, you've got to see these short episodes. I bought it from Amazon, but episodes are also currently available for Instant Stremaing from Netflix!
• Lens. Every once in a while you get a glimpse of where technology is taking us... a little peek at what's coming down the pipe. This week it was something called "World Lens" for iPhone. It uses the iPhone's camera to "read" an image for text. Then, depending on the filter you select, the app will process it for translation or some other trickery... like reversing the letters in any words it finds. It then pastes the output onto the original live image...
The app is free from the iTunes Music Store. Currently there's $4.99 English->Spanish and $4.99 Spanish->English filters with more promised. To see it in action is pretty spectacular...
One day, they're going to be able to put stuff like this on a contact lens or as a chip implant in your brain so you can just look at something and get it translated directly. And I'm guessing audio translation isn't that far off. The future is all magic from here on out. Or it could be. If we let it.
And there you have it, Bullet Sunday begone!