My first laptop was a black Apple Powerbook G3, aka the WallStreet. I dragged the ten pound sucker across Europe in a backpack. I've had many computers before and since, but this was the one I pecked out stories on while riding trains through the European countryside, the one I fell asleep next to in Amsterdam, the one I jacked into phone lines to dial home to check email. This was the one I loved.
I've longed for a similar computer ever since. Black just seems to be the right color for a computer you're going to be traveling with. And the plastic was just more resilient than the easily dented metal Powerbooks that came after. In short, I've been waiting all this time for the computer that Apple just released.
Meet the new MacBook (formerly iBook). It's half the weight of my old WallStreet, same size screen, and so much faster I can't even imagine. And, yeah, black. So I went to see it in my local Apple store tonight and, frankly, walked away unimpressed.
I've used Apple computers since high school. If it wasn't for the Mac, I probably wouldn't have wound up working for newspapers, getting into the web, moving to San Francisco, and living the life I have now. I've sung the Mac's praises to friends and family for almost twenty years.
And now I know what, or more specifically who, Apple thinks I am.
Apple thinks I am a whiny kid who looks like he sleeps under a bridge. A kid who murmurs snidely to himself. A kid who can't grow a beard to save his life. Specifically, this kid.
Don't get me wrong: I think it's nice that Apple is finally touting its computers again. I just wish they could have done it in a way that didn't make me want to defenstrate my laptop and go buy a computer from that funny guy playing the PC.
One of the most interesting panels at SXSW Interactive 2006 was The Future of Darknets, moderated by JD Lasica. And while the concept of Darknets - communities using private subnetworks to communicate and collaborate out of view of the larger internet - is indeed fascinating, the panel was not interesting because of the intended topic. In fact, we never actually got to hear much about DarkNets, much to my disappointment, because the panel was hijacked the moment one panelist said, "Hello, my name is Kori Bernards, and I'm from the Motion Picture Association of America."
What followed was an hour-long firing squad as one audience member after another directed angry questions her way. The feeling of pent-up frustrations with the movie biz was palpable, especially as her claims of flexibility and excitement within the MPAA to find "creative new solutions" to the problems raised by the audience rang more and more hollow, the more times she repeated them.
iTunes can now broadcast to more than one set of speakers at the same time. Previously, you were limited to sending your tunes to the speakers in your computer, or to the speakers attached to an Airport Express, but not both at the same time. Now you finally can!
What this means, in English, is that you could place Airport Express stations throughout your house and use iTunes to play music to some, or all, of them as you like.
One step closer to the brave new digital future.
Surprise 1: As lovely as the new gadget is, it still has the same annoying problem as every other iPod and Walkman ever: headphones. They stick in your ears, catch in your coat, and tangle up miserably. Until they make an iPod with wireless headphones (and oh how I cannot wait for this), it'll remain a problem. But Apple's at least fixed one related annoyance.
On the Cartoon Network there's a brilliant show called Harvey Birdman that recycles old Hanna-Barbera characters into a modern courtroom setting. One of the wilder side characters is Reducto, a little green man with a passion for all things small (voiced by none other than Daily Show's Stephen Colbert). Reducto is known for obsessing over tiny things, shrinking objects and people with his shrink ray, and using phrases like "perfectly tiny" and "wonderfully miniscule" and "magnificently dainty."
Why am I babbling on about a bit part on an obscure show? Because I'm the proud owner of an iPod nano, and this is an iPod Reducto would love. In fact, I'm convinced that it's going to turn perfectly sane people into raving Reductos.
His and Hers iPod nanos. (Mine's the black one, natch.)
So this weekend I upgraded all the Macs in the house to Tiger and I upgraded Ephemera to Movable Type 3. It feels like my geek life has all new clothes. Curious to read what yet another geek thinks of 'em? Read on.
Today's the day to watch the Apple madness going on in San Francisco. It's Macworld! I suggest following the fun with this Technorati search for "Macworld". It's sure to get interesting in the afternoon when everyone's blogging the Stevenote and all his one-more-things. Personally, my money's on the smaller-than-mini iPod, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the $500 headless iMac. (Of course, I remember when those were called "Performas"). iHome? Wishful thinking.
Let the games begin!
After two years of faithful service, I'm selling my beloved Apple Power Macintosh G4 because I got a new computer. It works perfectly, runs all the latest software, and it's got a ton of RAM and hard drive storage space, so it's a great computer for sound editing, image processing, producing DVDs, or just about anything else!
Because I'm the anal sort, I even have the original box and all associated packing materials, so you know it'll ship safely. Also included is the original manual and CDs. All you need is a monitor and you'll be all set!
Interested? Bid at eBay now!
UPDATE: Sold! Thanks for playing.
I'm a randomizer. Back when my music came on small reflective circles, my favorite thing to do was load up the 5-disc changer with CDs from totally disparate genres and hit the shuffle button. Hours of tunes, bouncing between styles.
Now, admittedly, this is not everyone's cup of tea. I'm sure there are many people that pick an album, play it from top to bottom, and then pick another. But the great strength of digital jukeboxes are the many ways you can mix up your music library.
Apple's iTunes is especially set up for randomizers like me. Which is why one part of the new version released today is so disappointing.
With the iPod love-fest that's been afoot in the mainstream media for the last year, the backlash was inevitable. It's just too bad it's taken root in a paper I usually respect.
Bleeding-heart Bay Area rag, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, has a cover story this week on our beloved iPod: What-why-where Pod. The story is critical of Apple and the iPod for not being sexy like Mick or rock 'n' roll enough (what-ever).
Usually I enjoy a good rant, but the article is just plain wrong in several places. For example: The iPod does not require the internet to work, only to download music and CD titles, both of which are optional.
But the allegation that's the most annoying is that there are no independent artists in the Music Store. Hogwash! I've personally produced two CDs of spoken word storytelling that, thanks to independent music pioneer CD Baby, are now available on iTMS (here and here, if you're curious).
Next time, do your homework, Guardian. Or just stick to bitching about PG&E.
Attention all you iTunes users! The two original Fray CDs (Fray Day 5 and Fray Cafe 3) are both now available in the Apple iTunes Music Store! Click these if you're among the iTunes-addled: Fray Day 5 and Fray Cafe 3. Buy and enjoy! Just don't tell Apple you can listen to all that and more in the Fray Audio Archive for free.
Apple showed its classic 1984 Macintosh ad today at MacWorld San Francisco, but with a twist: they digitally grafted an iPod on to the runner. The result is strangely disturbing, both because they're revising their own history, and also because, well, isn't infiltrating a militaristic compound with a huge mallet while listening to music kinda dangerous?
I wish Apple and Sony would quit this mating dance and just get a room already. Both companies are all about the digital lifestyle devices now. Sony wishes it had done the iPod, and Apple wishes it had half of Sony's power.
Personally, I've always loved Sony's design - especially the sexy silver-purple VAIOs - but would never buy one because they run the wrong OS. Sony's hardware plus Apple's software would be a dream come true.
C'mon guys. Somebody's gotta make the first move here. The sexual tension is killing me.
Here's a post I've been meaning to make for a while. A new site finally inspired me to write it down. If you've got an iPod, it may be of interest. If not, well, you can just read it to see what a nerd I am.
When I first got my iPod, all was well, but I soon filled up all 10 gigs. I didn't want to manually manage which songs got put on the iPod (whatta pain!) and I didn't want to get a bigger one (well, I wanted to, sure, but c'mon), so I came up with a Smart Playlist to put only the best and most current music on my iPod. Here's how.
First create a new smart playlist. I called mine "For iPod" cause I'm not that clever. The idea here is to make a playlist that includes the music you most want on your iPod. Mine says:
My Rating - is greater than - **
Date Added - is in the last - 2 months
Date Modified - is in the last - 2 months
Last Played - is in the last - 2 months
This includes any song I've rated 2 stars or more and any song I've added or played in the last two months. Depending on my iTunes usage, this winds up being 6 or 7 gigs. Your recipe my vary.
Then connect your iPod. Click the iPod icon at the bottom of iTunes to get the iPod Preferences window. Instead of the default top option, select the second one: "Automatically update selected playlists only."
Then check the "For iPod" Smart Playlist you just made. Feel free to select any other playlists too, if you always want them on your iPod.
Bottom Line: Now my iTunes library can be considerably larger than the size of my iPod, but the latest and greatest will always be with me! Bonus: Since the total amount of stuff on my iPod is less than the total 10 gigs, I can still use it as a hard drive to shuttle other stuff around.
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about Apple, including:
Back in Black
18 May 2006
Thanks a lot, Apple
12 May 2006
SXSW to MPAA: STFU
15 March 2006
Playing iTunes to Multiple Speakers
8 February 2006
iPod nano’s Pleasant Surprises
16 September 2005
The iPod nano: So perfectly tiny
8 September 2005
Love in the year 2005
8 September 2005
3 May 2005
Bring on the reality distortion field!
11 January 2005
Buy my Mac
22 May 2004
Out of Tune
28 April 2004
Let the iPod backlash begin!
5 February 2004
Fray CDs in Apple Store
28 January 2004
Apple's Revisionist History
6 January 2004
Apple and Sony: Get a room!
12 November 2003
Geeky: iPod Composting
9 October 2003
23 June 2003
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Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »
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Back in Black 18 May 2006
Thanks a lot, Apple 12 May 2006
SXSW to MPAA: STFU 15 March 2006
Playing iTunes to Multiple Speakers 8 February 2006
iPod nano’s Pleasant Surprises 16 September 2005