Tag Archives: Apple

iTunes, without the ball and chain

Apple Fanboys had their orgiastic expo-tacular today, where new products are typically unveiled by His Steveness. Steve was absent today, part of the ongoing effort to confirm the internet rumors that he died in March of last year.

Nothing big was announced: a new laptop, upgrades to popular software suites iLife and iWork, pretty much what was expected. The big surprise for me was the announcement that iTunes would be going DRM-free. For those of you who don’t take the time to memorize every TLA that you come across, DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It’s the thing that prevents you from emailing a song to a friend, or playing it on another computer, or taking advantage of any of the awesome powers granted to us by the digital era. It’s the industry’s lock and key.

I haven’t bought anything on iTunes for about 12 months, and DRM is exactly why. I love everything else about the Apple model, but I can’t abide having my audio files locked away, preventing me from doing things that are well within my legal rights to do (like playback on any device I own). I switched to the Amazon MP3 store because they offered a universal file format (mp3), and no DRM lockdown.

In some ways, I think Apple was paying the penalty for being first to market. They made a deal with the devil to get major record labels to agree to release their catalogs to the iTunes music store, and the price was DRM lockdown. Once the model proved successful, other distributors (amazon, for example) were able to negotiate much more favorable terms for their own download sales. Steve Jobs said as much almost two years ago.

I’m glad to see Apple unchain their content. I hope this marks a step forward into a new model of distribution for all kinds of digital media, from video to software.

I dream of a wireless, portable, personal, and highly fungible digital future, where my data moves with me and works for me, without barrier or constraint.

iPhone Apps I’d Like To See

I love the new iPhone Apps store – another coup for Apple in their ongoing campaign to change how we use technology. The release of the WordPress app got to me thinking about other iPhone apps that I’d like to see. Hopefully some of these software makers will take up the charge and release these apps!

Terminal

I realize this one is a geek-out, but I’d love to have a command line interface that will allow me to login to remote servers via SSH, and do basic maintenance tasks (like deleting Zack’s bootleg collection of vintage pinup girls that he keeps uploading to the server). This shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

Tivo Command Center


Find programs, record them, manage season passes, order video rentals from Amazon’s UnBox, all remotely. And by remotely, I mean from the kitchen table. Tivo already allows http access to your home box, through both Yahoo’s TV listings and amazon’s website, so the code infrastructure should be in place.

Remember The Milk


Remember the Milk is my favorite task-list software, and it already has a very nice iphone web interface. So what would they add by building an iPhone app? The ability to import and export tasks from the iPhone calendar, the ability to add contacts to a task, and the ability to push alarms for incomplete tasks. Basically, the ability to take away every excuse for my total lack of personal organization.

HULU


I know. iTunes video downloads rock, hulu.com sucks. I said as much myself, some while back. You know what? I was wrong. Hulu is fast, high quality, has a very broad catalog (including great older shows), and the ads are less obtrusive than on broadcast TV. I realize that this will never happen, because 1) Hulu videos are flash-based, so far an iPhone no-no, and 2) Apple maintains tight control over apps that are released in the store, and there is zero chance that they are going to allow access to an app that directly competes with one of their primary profit models. Still, a girl can dream.

Armagetron


If you don’t yet know the awesomeness that is armagetron, here’s the recap – you race the light cycles from the movie Tron. Now, picture the same thing, but with the motion sensor in the iPhone controlling your cycle turns. Awesome.

Well, that’s me. What about ya’ll? Anything you’d like to see someone build for the iPhone?

Apple Geekery

Just in case you’re hiding in a hole today, Apple released info on the long-awaited, much-rumored iPhone, as well as Apple TV – which lets you stream all kinds of content to your TV.

Apple fanboys (and girls) rejoice, for we have more semi-useless junk to obsess over.

UPDATE: Everyone’s favorite harmless songster, John Mayer, is providing the wrap-up entertainment at MacWorld. No doubt convincing everyone in attendance that Steve Job’s body is indeed, a wonderland.

Demo-lition Derby

I need a little help from my friends. Remember this class that I’m teaching?

It’s the one where the students produce a short album over the course of a semester.

Well, I’m meeting with the students for the first time on Monday night, to talk through the details of the class, and to get them headed in the right direction on the project. I’m going to hand them a sample packet of what a final project should look like, to give them something to shoot for, and I decided to use a song from The Dailies’ record as the model (totally violating the sanctity of Chad and Erica’s intellectual property of course. Suck it up. It’s for the children). I’ll put together a microphone input list, a budget, a timeline, a recording schedule, everything they need to do for the course, around that one song. The cool thing about this is that I have actual demos tracking the progress of all of these songs from The Dailies record, so the students will get to hear everything from first demos all the way through to final masters.

So, here’s what I need from you – which song should I use? Picture yourself as a 21-year-old music student. Then, go here and listen to the 30-second clips (or better yet, buy the album!). Then, tell me which song you think would most capture the interest and creative attention of the students in the class.

Hooty-McDeal – iPod Geekout!

I’m sure this is old hat for all of us Uber Dorks here at Addison Road. But in case you spent this morning sleeping in a hole…

Apple released new iPods today. For all you 12-year old girls, the Nano now holds a sh*tload more songs, and has a fancy new aluminum case. 2 Gig up to 8 Gigs – it’s priced between $150 and $250. But if you’re not stealing Aaron Carter tunes from Limewire, and you actually want to fill up your MP3 player with 192KHZ tunage – the standard iPod Video has been upgraded to 80 gigs. Yes, 80 mother-lovin gigs. I don’t care if you rip your tunes in straight uncompressed AIFF format – you ain’t runnin’ outta space on this bad boy. Best of all? The price actually dropped for all this extra storage. $350 for 80GB, and $250 for 30GB. (I just ordered an 80GB black) Talk about a Hooty McDeal!

Also, the Shuffle has been updated as well – now it’s the size of a grain of rice. Well, almost….By the way – check out the giant butt on the Shuffle’s page.
This release comes along with news of the new Apple iTV – a device that will let you stream the video contents of your computer to your television. Personally, I already own such a device – I call it Tivo. (Or, more recently, the new HD cable box from Motorolla, powered by something called “Moxi”) But whatever. Apple also released iTunes 7, which includes downloadable movies, and looks simply delicious, and also introduced some time-sucking downloadable games for the iPod.

Anyone wanna buy my PSP?

Welcome to the New Media

So, I’ve been mulling over the results from the blog survey, and thinking about how many people come here who don’t normally travel in the circles of the blogosphere. I thought about writing a thesis sized overview of what the New Media is all about, and how participation in content creation and remix is irreversibly changing the roles of media producers and consumers. After all, I have to do something while I procrastinate on writing that sermon and designing that new APU course. But, I got bored with that almost as soon as I finished writing that introductory sentence.

I don’t want to explain it. I think you should just jump in and experience it for yourself. Let me give you some tools to get started.

Feed Me!

First, let’s get you something that will let you grab information more quickly, without having to go to a million pages first thing in the morning. We’re going to use two pieces of software to do this: one for text (blogs), and one for media (podcasts, vidcasts). Again, I’m just going to ignore the fact that some of you use Windows, because I don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior. I think most new media stuff works on PC’s, I just don’t know how. And, also, the content creators can see what system you logged on with, and they kind of laugh at you behind your back.

NewsGator / NetNewsWire

It’s a website and a piece of software. The website is free, and you can use it without the software. It works like this: you type in the address of a website you like …

newsgator input

and it goes there every morning to check for new content. Then, instead of you going to all 50 websites you like, you go instead to the NewsGator site, and all the updated stuff is there waiting for you.

newsgator agg

The software option lets you sync to the website, repost your own blog, and do a bunch of other cool stuff. It looks like this:

nnw

Show Me the Content!

So, now that you have that all dialed in, what should you feed into it? Here are a few suggestions to get you started. The sites are linked, and the feed address is in parenthesis. This is the thing you should copy into your aggregator.

jesuscreed.org (http://www.jesuscreed.org/wp-rss2_full.php) – the blog of Scot McKnight. Great writing, great ideas, great links out to other blogs. Pretty much daily updates of serious content.

Dilbert (http://www.tapestrycomics.com/dilbert.xml) I like the comic Dilbert. I don’t like buying a newspaper. Instead, I use this link to have the daily comic strip delivered to my feed aggregator. Actually, there are a ton of comic strips that I like, so I’ve grabbed a lot of feeds from this site: tapestrycomics.com. Enjoy!

Free in LA (http://freeinla.blogspot.com/atom.xml). I like Los Angeles. There’s like, culture and stuff. This blog lists free things happening in this beautiful city, daily.

Google News custom search. Ok, this one is a bit tweaky, and a bit cool. You all know about the site Google News. You probably also know that you can do a custom search at Google News. What you might not know is that you can get an RSS feed of that custom search, and load it into your aggregator. After you’ve done your seach, check the left sidebar, where is says “RSS Feed”. Grab that link, add it to your aggregator, and you’re off to go!

googlenews

With my custom search RSS feed, I can follow the news of how my LA Angels are crushing the rest of the league. Hoozah!

Podcasts

Text is great, but what if we want sound, or even moving pictures? Let me recommend to you the fabulous iTunes. Yes, you can use it to rip and download a lifetimes worth of music, but it’s also a very simple-to-use feed aggregator for podcasts. Since it’s Apple, it’s pretty intuitively obvious how to subscribe to podcasts that they have in their directory, but you can also use it to grab feeds that may not be in their vast library. All you need to do is go to the “Advanced” menu, hit “Subscribe to podcast”, and put in that fancy RSS feed we’ve been so hot on lately.

Picture 8.png

So … what should you subscribe to? Here are some of my favorites. If you have itunes installed, the links should open the podcast in itunes for you.

TEDTalks. These are pretty much all amazing. You especially need to watch Majora Carter. These are video, so you’ll need a fat pipe before you start to download them. If you want some background on what TED is all about, here’s the site.

The Bible Podcast. Almost 1,000 daily subscribers. Get a little bit o’ word with your daily intake.

Ask a Ninja. There are no words for how funny this is. It’s the New Jersey Jewish accent that kills me. I love this kind of “Theatre of the Absurd”, and the Ninja is the master of it. I AM NINJA!

Center for Internet and Society. Got a long commute? These shows range from 45 minutes to an hour, and are produced by Stanford Law School. This is the kind of thing that you would normally pay $5,000 per unit to be a part of, but you get to listen in for free because of the internets.

rocketboom. Do you like your news delivered with poor production, awkward pauses, and unfathomable nonsequiters? You’ll love Joanne Colan and Rocketboom.

And now …

So, those are some things to get you started. Jump in … the water’s warm, mainly because Chad keeps letting his kids pee in the pool. I know several of our regular readers have their favorites, sites that they keep up with on a daily basis. Feel free to list them in the comments. Don’t just dump your list on us, but give us two or three that you think are gems, and make the case for us.

Up the Revolution!

Rig Of The Day

As an avid reader of blogs like The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Gizmodo, and (most recently) Consumerist, I feel compelled to share my workspace as the “Rig Of The Day”. Sara and I kicked our roommate out, so I got a NEW OFFICE!!! Yeah, I know. It’s no iMac floating magically on an articulated arm above a bed of roses and Steve Jobs’ first born. But I’m still proud of it, anyway….

Maybe the rest of you can post your rig here, and we can all ooooh and ahhh together, huh?

The Rig…

And my crappy panorama of the whole office…

My Little BlackBook

OK, everyone together now: “Geek Out!”

I bought a new MacBook last night. And for anyone who has seen my dress sense, I did opt for the $200-more Black version. (The same model/specs are available in white for $200 less)

I’m not going to post some huge review, mentioning how I “love the new blah blah blah”. Instead, I am bummed. I am really friggin’ bummed. Why, you ask?

Because on the bench, my new MacBook is about as fast as my dual-processor G5 with 4 GB of RAM.

I think I spent nearly $5000 on that computer. And now this $1500 one is actually running certain apps faster. Lame!

But the envious stares have already started at Bent On Coffee….. And the built in iSight is kinda fun.

Photo 2.jpg

Jury Duty in LA

I sacrificed 8 hours for Lady Justice today. I got up at 5:45, rode the metro to downtown LA, went through metal detectors and a body cavity search in order to sit in a cattle-car room with 200 other people, waiting to see if we got asked to serve on a jury.

There was a tense moment when the superviser announced that they were calling names for a 30 day, sequestered trial, and we all held our breathe praying that we didn’t get called. Beyond that, the day was pretty dull. I sat around until 3:30, at which point they sent us home, our duty served.

So, here’s why I love LA. I was sitting in a room with 200 randomly selected people, including

Dakin Matthews

Dakin Matthews

and

Bernadette Peters

Bernadette Peters

Also, I sat next to this guy:

brian joseph

Brian Joseph, and we argued about MIDI integration in Protools 7 vs. Logic 7. I love that you can plop down next to some random guy in LA, and there’s a pretty good chance that he will have a deeply passionate and well-reasoned opinion on which production software environment works best for a given project.

Student Projects (or, Why I Love Teaching)

So, today is the end of the Spring semester at APU, and I’m in the midst of grading final projects for my students. Today is one of those days where I realize that I could do this for the rest of my life.

I teach Music Technology, which is ostensibly about teaching students how to be mini-geeks, but in reality, it’s a clever ruse for me to get to teach them about composition, orchestration, physics, philosophy, production, collaboration, asthetics, and how to use their brain in sticky ways.

Here’s why I love today. I get to see how they take everything I’ve taught them, and put it all together in one project. They write original music (or do take-downs of existing pop songs), and create full demos of them, with audio tracking, editing, mixdown, the whole deal. I was blown away by the maturity that these 19-year-old students are already showing in their creative work, and so, like a proud teacher, I’m going to brag on them a bit.

You should head on over to this post on my course site, and listen to the Hall of Fame, the best projects from each class as voted on by the students. Remember that, for most of them, the first time they touched Logic Pro was 4 months ago.

I think they would be thrilled if some of you wanted to stop by and listen, and maybe leave some feedback in the comments section.