I started this blog primarily to keep track of interesting media I find all across the interwebs. Then I realized that other people might be interested, as well. Occasionally I provide interesting insight and commentary on topics that interest me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Turns of phrase.

Sometimes, at work, doing my professional day job, I send out emails just like this:

All good except that you need to [fix some stuff].

So I guess it’s not ‘all’ good, truly. Which makes me wonder why I even used that turn of phrase. Now I’m questioning my life’s choices and this, for some reason, makes me want to go and read some Ayn Rand. I’ve never read anything by her, even though it’s come highly recommend on several occasions from different sources. Anything suggested by another person as, “You must read this, it changed my life,” just makes me think about how disappointed I was in Catcher in the Rye when all I got out of it is that the protagonist is a spoiled trust fund yuppie kid who thinks it’s cool to slum with the underprivileged when it suits him and that such people who think that book is transformative have never had to grow up in a trailer park or live on welfare or struggle to accomplish something in their lives and would kill to have the opportunities that Holden Caulfield pissed away. None of this is really relevant to the matter at hand so I guess I am as good as or even a better author than Mr. J.D. Salinger.

Well, not just like that. There I go, again!

posted by Shadow at 4:10 pm  

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shadow’s extremely abbreviated iPhone 4 review.

Things I really like about the new iPhone 4:

  • The display: It’s beautiful. Don’t worry, iPhone haters, your preferred mobile device will have this display within a year. But words can’t quantify just how amazing this display is.
  • The camera: The led flash is pretty bright and you can have it stay on when shooting video. I was using this earlier today to get a clear shot of part of my car engine that other parts were blocking. The tap-focus thing helped with that one.
  • The battery: I did all sorts of crazy stuff today while putting it through its paces and could not kill the battery. I know I could by doing things outside of normal use like leave the video on constantly but it’s good to know that through typical use I’m not gonna have to charge more than once a day.

Things I don’t like about the new iPhone 4:

  • The fact that Facetime is wi-fi and iPhone 4-compatible only: While working on my car, I really wished I could’ve used Facetime to call my Uncle and show him what I was troubleshooting in the electrical system so he could give me advice and confirm if I was testing the electrical components correctly.
  • The antenna problem: So I’m left-handed and apparently there is a big deal being made about holding the phone a certain way and bridging the two antennas may cause reception issues and it seems to be mostly problematic for lefties. Goddammit! I mean, I was going to buy a bumper or a case anyway but it really irks me when sinister people like me get overlooked.
  • The display: It’s made me realize just how inferior every other lcd display I look at on a daily basis is now. Tomorrow I am going to be at work but not be able to work because I will be consumed by the fact that I’m staring at a bunch of fucking pixels.
  • The size: I thought the iPhone 3G and 3GS were the perfect size and this thing is significantly smaller. If iPhones were sandwiches, this would be one with the crusts cut off. My Nintendo DS lite always bothered me because my hands would cramp up after using it for extended periods of time, it remains to be seen whether the iPhone 4 will present the same problem but I worry.
posted by Shadow at 12:54 am  

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Uploaded by onemoreprod. – Watch original web videos.

posted by Shadow at 1:37 pm  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

posted by Shadow at 1:36 pm  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog Update

Hi, I haven’t posted anything here in awhile because this blog used to be hosted from Blogger and they announced a few months ago that they would be discontinuing support for ftp hosted blogs come May. Lately I’ve been knee deep in recording and life’s other calamities and so put off migrating the blog. I believe it’s finally done and I’ve set it up to be very similar in look and feel to the Blogger theme I was using. So if you had subscribed to my blog previously via RSS, you will have to do so again. If you have no idea what RSS is or how to use an RSS reader, well, I plan to post on that someday but you should check it out and get with the times.

posted by Shadow at 2:20 am  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My take on the Apple iPad reveal

Ah, the Apple tablet, now known as the Apple iPad. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been waiting for this device for at least five years now and had planned to buy one even before i knew for sure what it was like and what it does. Even back when I worked for Apple (I left just over three years ago) I often heard rumors of such a mythical device. There’s been rumors that the device has been in development since at least 2003.

In a nutshell, the device physically resembles a larger iPhone. Apple has always had a fondness for simple, minimalist design so this is not surprising. I was a bit surprised at the dimensions. It looks to be bigger than I presumed it was and seems to actually be a bit bigger than a Kindle DX. I would love to see a side by side comparison. Apple designs tend the be understated but it’s the little things that matter and more importantly with the Apple products is the marriage of the hardware and software. The included apps look great. There will be wi-fi only models and also models that support 3G.

Apple made a big to-do about the reduce data plan costs via AT&T but this was also underscored by the remark that the iPad is unlocked. No mention of CDMA support so Verizon is out of the running but you should be able to use this device with any GSM compatible 3G provider and all the have to do to compete with AT&T is drop their unlimited data plan to match the reasonable $30 price. As far as I’ve seen, there is no word yet for those that already have iPhone on AT&T on if they will need to purchase a separate data plan or not. I have a family plan with two iPhones and I believe each has a separate data plan of $30 a months. Adding yet another data plan for a device on AT&Ts network is not preferable, especially given their current network issues. Thankfully, Austin is not one of the 3G wastelands like SF and NY but how will the network hold up once everybody has these iPads? Other cell providers can get in on this action simply by matching the data plan cost that AT&T is charging. Hopefully, AT&T will get smart and offer a combined data plan for families that may have multiple iPhones and desire iPads at this point. Of course, if they ever decide to enable tethering (WTF, AT&T?!) then presumably those of us with iPhones already can avoid the 3G version altogether. Long story short, AT&T needs to get their shit together and fast.

So, it runs iPhone apps and has support for developers to take advantage of the larger screen real estate. I’ve already got a bunch of iPhone apps already so that’s a plus. Hopefully devs of existing apps won’t try to double-dip by releasing new versions of their current apps with iPad support as separate apps. My app collection is already hard to manage.

There’s been some grumbling about the lack of an internal camera of any kind but it mentioned to a friend of my earlier that it makes more sense for a camera to be an accessory device that could clip to the bezel and be pivoted in multiples directions; that way, it could be front-facing, back-facing or even facing outward while the iPad rests in your lap. One accessory that I did not see mentioned in the press event on the iPad but that is noted on Apple’s website is “a Camera Connection Kit that lets you import photos from a camera or SD card“. Such an accessory would presumably connect via a dock connector and contain a card reader plus usb connector. If so, the USB Camera connection might allow you to control and use an external camera with the iPhone OS’s native camera API; that would make the iPad compatible with almost every webcam and digital camera in existence. Let’s see (and hope) that’s the case.

Other accessories that will be available for it are a standard dock, a keyboard dock (it’s also compatible with Apple’s bluetooth wireless keyboard, maybe other bluetooth keyboards as well) and a case that can also be used as a stand.

Let’s talk iWork. I know most of my friends have never used a Mac on a regular basis and so likely don’t have direct experience with Apple Office suite of apps but for those of you that may be like me an despise Microsoft Office, you are in for a treat. Keynote is pretty much Apple’s version of Powerpoint and while I have never personally had a need to use this often, I had to support it a few years ago and it’s got some great snazzy animations and features built-in. Numbers is a spreadsheet app and I have never personally used it since I maintain the few spreadsheets I have for personal use in Open Office; I need to use cross platform apps in some situations in cases since I regularly use both OS X and Windows platforms. However, Pages is Apple’s word processing software and it is a glorious joy to use. It’s probably overkill for regular old text documents but where it shines is in it’s page layout abilities, which are almost as powerful as more expensive software like Adobe Framemaker/Pagemaker/InDesign and QuarkXPress but much, much more intuitive. A few years ago I used Pages to create some newsletters for an organization called the Austin Indie Alliance and was able to to so in almost no time at all. I highly recommend anyone that needs to put together a press kit or wants to make a zine or newsletter to check that Pages application of iWork.

Other potentially great uses for the device are GPS/Maps and, of course, media consumption and games.

But let’s get to the core reasons that I personally wanted an Apple tablet-like device for so long and see how the iPad in reality compares.
There are two primary reasons I’ve wanted a device like this and specifically, two current hardware devices that other companies are making that I wanted an Apple device to eliminate my need for.

Reason 1: Music Creation
JazzMutant is a company that makes a device called a Lemur that operates as a multitouch controller for music composition/performance. If you’ve seen a Nine Inch Nails performance in the last few years, you’ve seen the Lemur in action. It’s basically a multitouch display with a customizable interface but it has no sound generative abilities of it’s own. It’s designed to control an external computer or synth device via midi so you can have a display full of knobs and faders and trigger pads setup however you like. It looks fancy and futuristic, much like something you’d see on the bridge of Star Trek’s Enterprise. It also costs around $2000. Will the iPad be able to replace it? Without a doubt, I’ve already got several iPhone apps that do this basic things with a smaller screen and so I can use them as is or wait until some savvy developers offer versions that take advantage of the larger screen. JazzMutant, it was nice to know ye.

Reason 2: Drawing/Design
Another device that I’ve wanted for a long time is a Wacom Cintiq. It’s basically a secondary display that you can draw directly on with a stylus. It is at a much more reasonable price of around $1000 but that is still pretty pricey given that it is pretty much a one use product. I have a Wacom tablet already and that’s pretty nice but I long for a surface that I can draw directly on and not struggle with the hand/eye coordination issues of drawing on a pad while staring at a separate screen. Wacom devices are great because they support pressure and angle sensitivity for fluid lines in apps that support these features. Will the iPad be able to replace this? As it stands today, I don’t think so. I never expected Apple to include a stylus but my hope is that Wacom realizes the potential of this device and provides a stand-alone stylus that is compatible with the iPad with the same pressure sensitivity and angle support. It could use an accelerometer to determine it’s angle (much like a wii controller or iPhone) and measure pressure on the nib of the stylus. It could communicate this data to the iPad via bluetooth or even wi-fi. However, that only solve the hardware part of the equation. You are not likely to be able to use a robust application like Photoshop directly on the iPad unless the iPad can be made to function as a secondary display for another computer much like a Cintiq does. Barring that, you would need developers to create a custom application for the iPad that can support this imagined hardware stylus device. That is not Wacom’s expertise but such an app has the potential to be even better than any drawing application that exists today. It’s hard to describe what I see in my head but can you imagine a drawing app that not only takes into account the pressure and angle of the pen but also the angle of the drawing surface itself? Try to imagine a watercolor app that, if the iPad is positioned upright as if on an easel, would render faint downward bleeding of the brush stroke as if gravity had come into play, the wetter the medium, the more potent the effect. Or while resting on a flat surface, you could lightly touch the stylus onto the surface and watch the ink spread out as if you lightly dabbed an inkladen quill onto a thin parchment. You could even flick the stylus toward the screen for a spatter effect, much like a Jackson Pollock painting. The more forceful the flick the heavier the paint effect and could even have heavy ‘globs’ of color run run the drawing surface if the iPad is upright as if on an easel. These are the images that haunt my dreams.

So I’m one for one with my personal wish list but even so, the Apple iPad at it’s most expensive version just saved me over $1100 dollars that I might have otherwise spent on a JazzMutant Lemur, not to mention other musical interfaces I might have additionally desired. Mind you, I don’t need any of this fancy technology to make music but I want to be able to incorporate electronic and synth sounds into my music with full control over performance, without having to rely on traditional control methods that I feel might overlap one another or be inefficient. The future is now, as the popular saying goes.

And, in time, the iPad or one of it’s successors may just be what sates my desire for a Wacom Cintiq or similar device. For all the brouhaha over how expensive Apple devices are, the iPad is set at a price I think will be difficult for other companies to match, in regards to it’s feature set and versatility. It can now be my main internet browsing tool. For the record, I don’t care about Flash support. It’s main popularity on the internet is for video and both YouTube and Vimeo are beta-testing alternate methods of video delivery using open HTML5 standards with H.264 video codecs. This already works on Safari (including mobile versions) and Chrome browsers and I predict it won’t be soon before Firefox jumps from using Ogg Vorbis to H.264 to keep up with the YouTube crowd. That will just leave Internet Explorer as the long dog not supporting HTML5 standards as they try to make their proprietary SilverLight plugin a viable alternative to Flash. This is all a heady topic that warrants its own separate discussion but let’s just say that Flash’s days of being a popular internet plugin are numbered and that SilverLight will never really take off, even though Netflix currently uses it (I bet it was part of their deal in getting on the X-Box 360). Soon there won’t be anything there to argue about.

In addition to casual internet browsing, I can use the iPad to watch videos. Maybe I’ll finally make use of those digital copy discs I’ve been getting with Blu-Rays for the past year or so.

I can use this to do several things I can do on my iPhone already like use VNC to log into my computers remotely or use an SSH shell to log into my websites or play some of the iPhone games that I’ve neglected because they are too long for casual play like Zenonia.

Of course, I’ll be making music with it at some point.

But there are several other uses I can already see for it.
A GPS device for road trips.
A virtual portfolio for showing off my artwork and design ideas even website mockups.
A lyric and/or music sheet for band practice.
An eReader, of course. It will be great to use with my PDF software manuals and even technical books. I can have the iPad next to me and showing the PHP website when I’m developing webpages or showing Logic’s manual when I’m working in my music studio.
A digital picture frame to have next to my main PC when it’s charging on it’s dock.

There are things that people buy that this will take the place of and much like the iPhone, it will integrate itself seamlessly into people’s lives until they wonder how they ever lived without it.

posted by Shadow at 5:06 pm  

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dethklok: Skwisgaar teaches Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle solo

posted by Shadow at 8:46 pm  

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Low Frequency Entity

low frequency entity – subcycle labs from christian bannister on Vimeo.

posted by Shadow at 2:04 pm  

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mini Synth Robots – Thingmagoop

posted by Shadow at 6:24 pm  

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slow Motion Drumming From The Show "Time Warp"

posted by Shadow at 10:39 pm  
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