For you folks out there that are into tube amps and still spinning vinyl with $10,000 turntables, don’t read this. You’ll just get pissed.
iTunes Match is due for launch any day now, and one of the features of Match – the option to “scale” songs in your library up 256 kbps (if matched) – got me thinking about the whole music resolution issue in general.
Over the past twenty years or so we’ve seen kind of a “dumbing down” of music quality for consumers in general, brought about in no small part by the onset of portable music devices: first the ground-breaking Sony Walkman, then of course the iPod.
Back when I was younger, when we still relied on vinyl, the resolution was there – on the disc – it was a matter of getting it off at a certain resolution. There … Read More »
It’s very interesting to see the resurgence of consumer-grade AI-enabled voice recognition in Siri, the new digital assistant component of the iPhone 4S. In reading the largely positive reviews of the cloud-assisted on-device service I’ve been surprised that there has been no mention of Wildfire – a service I was one of clearly very few people in the U.S. to have used back in the ’90′s. The parallels are many – the primary difference being that Apple seems to have brought the concept to the masses, where before it was an expensive, proprietary solution geared almost exclusively to professionals.
There’s not much information floating around any more about Wildfire. At the time I subscribed to the service – around the early – mid nineties – it was run in the U.S. by Virtuosity. The cost was prohibitive to most – I … Read More »
While we all knew it was inevitable, the resignation of Steve Jobs was nonetheless a shock to many of us for whom Apple has been a touchstone for much of our life – both personally and professionally. I kind of grew up with Apple.
John Gruber has posted a number of stories from others that depict aspects of Jobs that most of us have never seen – not the gruff, competitive, design-obsessed, CEO, but the personal, often sensitive, funny, real guy that only a small inner circle know.
I’m not in that inner circle, but I have my Steve Jobs story, and I’ve never thought to write it down until I realized it belonged in the domain of these other stories. It’s a story of someone I’ll personally very much miss as the day to day head of Apple.
I … Read More »
So it takes a controversy like this to get me – as busy as things have been lately – to write another blog post.
The uproar around the release of Final Cut Pro X – peaking now with “mainstream media” parodies by the likes of Conan O’Brien (how often does this happen with a software release?) – has gone from predictable to ridiculous.
Back before the Internet arrived on the scene I spent a fair amount of time working in the non-linear film/video editing community of San Francisco – a rarified community of pre-hipster gear-head editors who were wrangling the early Avid almost-digital tape-based monstrosities before the advent of basically desktop digital editing. The learning curve (not only for the software, but the hardware – very finicky – and transport media) meant large investments of time and energy by individuals and … Read More »
So there’s been plenty of talk about cloud computing over the years, but that talk has typically focused on corporate and/or siloed use (e.g. music). The utility of cloud computing / storage has always been pretty self-evident to me, especially when the web hit and we first starting seeing successful apps (like salesforce.com) and not so successful experiments (like Groove from now MSFT exec Ray Ozzie who’s had all of his creativity sucked out of him in Redmond).
But what about casual users? Lot’s of talk about the (I think inevitable) transition from “owned” libraries of music (LP’s, then cassettes, then CD’s, then “soft” files on iPods and iTunes) to uber libraries of music in the cloud: basically the transition from licensing discrete assets forever, to “renting” access to universal libraries. Rhapsody first introduced this idea, to moderate … Read More »
Maybe it’s just me, but in watching Apple’s predictably beautiful new video guided tours of the iPad I got completely distracted by knees.
Do I have a knee fetish?
But they’re everywhere. As I watched one video after another (there are about a dozen) it was like “ok, here comes the knee shot …”. By the fourth video I couldn’t even follow the story it got so self-conscious.
When the “laptop” came out it was pretty cool. You could kick back on the couch and set the thing in your lap and we all thought how cool we were. But you could also just as easily set it on a flat surface, tilt the screen just right, and work just as easily: keyboard flat, screen up.
But with the iPad – and the whole tablet thing in general – we’re entering new territory from … Read More »
Moore’s Law brings many blessings.
No one can say that the scarily consistent improvements in computing power – processor speed, storage density, screen resolution, etc. – don’t result in general improved user experiences over time. But for the folks who make a living (or hobby) of crafting the so-called Human-Computer Interface, keeping up with what is possible, and arguably necessary, is tough.
And it’s about to get tougher.
Dimension 1- From Audible to Visible
I could argue that the first real UI “breakthrough” goes as far back as writing itself - clay tablets or maybe more realistically the Gutenberg press. Getting any form of consistent communication on any form of “media” was the first big 1.5 dimension challenge. But in the context of those of us who deal with user interfaces in the interactive / computer world it really started with the screen (or … Read More »
With the impending release of something book or tablet-like from Apple (next week) I thought it would be interesting to pull the following story from the archives.
Allison’s Book was the first story in a trilogy (never completed) describing the use of new consumer electronic devices in the near future (long past now). This was written I think around 1991-92 and describes events in the distant technological wilds of 1998. Suffice to say, it’s now 2010 and we’re still not there. Keep in mind, this was written just shortly after the Apple Newton appeared and long before things like iCal (2002), the consumer Internet, browsers, the iPod, desktop / mobile synchronization, home networks, etc. were in play.
It would be pretty funny if the name I used for Allison’s Book – the iBook – did in fact turn out … Read More »
I’m usually not one for predictions, but I’m going to go out on a limb here regarding Apple’s much fretted over announcement next week and make a bet.
Gartner says that downloads (not sales) of iPhone apps topped 3 billion recently. I’d like to know the distribution curve of active apps per phone (net of apps tried and then deleted) because if others out there are like me the original methods for managing apps have not kept up with the complexity of now having dozens of current apps.
The last major iPhone OS upgrade brought us the ability to search and shuffle apps around screens via the iTunes interface, but both seem like a patch and far short of Apple’s usual attention to detail. Given that new rumors have significant upgrades to iLife as well as a potential OS 4 … Read More »
I travel to the South a couple of times a year and since there seem to be far more McDonald’s than Starbucks out in the wilds of Tennessee and Mississippi I have often pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot for their $2.95 / 2 hours Wifi deal – to reconnect to civilization.
Now, McDonald’s is opening up their network – and rapidly – as a free service.
Which is great, and reminded me of the following:
Back in the late nineties I got to know Jeff Dunn, then President of Coca-Cola NA when we were pitching them. We had a couple of discussions about the interactive landscape and at one point he asked me a really great question.
“How many Coca-Cola machines do you think there are in North America?”
“No idea,” I said. (It’s still a hard number to pin down and … Read More »