Forget iTV, I just discovered something way scarier. Something much more threatening to my productivity. Something nefariously free and therefore not even held in check by my tech-gadget budgetary concerns. Something that doesn’t even require any configuration or physical set-up. Doesn’t require $1.99 per episode.
ABC runs recent episodes of Grey’s Anatomy directly from their website.
Thing is, I try not to let TV run my life. (OK, except for Project Runway, but that’s more like a family ritual.) I have a cool job and a cool kid and I don’t need the financial or the time-suck of television. I watch compelling shows like GA when I stumble across them during their regular airing on broadcast TV (a concept which may one day be as out-of-date as dial telephones), and sometimes I read the pithy recaps on Television Without Pity because snark is fun and it helps me keep up with who slept with whom during two or three episodes I missed due to haphazard viewing.
Only the most recent episodes are available, they are played with “limited commercials” (three blocks of 30 seconds each), and they play in a window that even on the BIG setting is only about 5″x 8″ on my 15″ screen. But the missing episodes are right there. One URL, one click. And I can do this from my desk.
I remember in the late-90’s when I worked for another publisher. The head of IT used to be very strict about what apps we could put on our computers. (He was an ex-marine). Aside from obvious security issues, he was always commenting on “threats to productivity.” One time, I somehow acquired this mysterious tic-tac-toe game that appeared on my Word toolbar and I called his attention to it. I remember him saying, “I’m sure we don’t need that kind of distraction to mess with your productivity.” We’re talking about tic-tac-toe. If tic-tac-toe is a distraction, then what chance do I have against Meredith and McDreamy and the other compellingly attractive denizens of Seattle Grace Hospital?
Guess I’ll just have to stay armed with my cool kid, cool job, and the fact that the viewer doesn’t seem to want to load on my Mac. There’s still the lure of the PC off to the side….Maybe there’s a reason I discovered this on a Saturday morning.
Clearsonic has long been recognized as the place to go if you want to shield drums or other loud instruments in studio or on stage. But, the company has also started selling products that podcasters might want to consider using as vocal isolation booths or for soaking up reflected sound in a studio setting.
There’s 3 three things that annoy me about DRM (well, to be honest, there’s puh-lenty of things about DRM that annoy me, but let’s stick with these for the moment):
1. This is how i feel about any technology designed to prevent savvy users from doing what they’re going to do anyway:
the more you tighten your grip, tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers!
If cashflow is like water, you can get more by cupping your hands than by making a fist. Let it run freely, and you can drink your fill — try to squeeze out every last drop, and you’ll end up with nothing.
We’re O’Reilly readers. We’re smart. And we’ve all had it happen to us.
We’re watching TV or browsing through the airline catalog, and then we see it:
HEY! I THOUGHT OF THAT TEN YEARS AGO!!!!!
(Go ahead, reply to this message with the idea you had that somebody else came up with, and which drove you crazy.)
Well, that’s a sure-fire way for smart people like us to keep ourselves unhappy, but be unhappy no more: my daughter has come up with a phrase that enables us to partake of Sweet Revenge!!!
Based on the avalanche of e-mail I’ve received, my digital voice
have echoed around the world. The #1 reader question is “Which one should I
buy?”, to which I essentially respond, “Read this.”
Along with the cast of This Week In Media I’ll be recording a live podcast at the Podcast & Portable Media Expo on Saturday, September 30, from 2:45pm - 3:15pm
This will be a great chance to watch us make the sausage. We’ll do a live recording of the popular podcast “This Week In Media.” The show’s hosts include me, Alex Lindsay, John Foster and Kenji Kato. We will discuss the tools and technologies we use to produce some of the world’s most popular tech podcasts like TWIT, MacBreak, MacBreak Weekly, The VFX Show, Inside The Black Box and The iLifeZone. The crew will also record a quick wrap-up session where the we will discuss the high points of the Expo.
If you’re in the LA area stop by. There’s no fee to see the exhibits or go to the live stage, but you do need to register.
For more on podcasting, visit my site PodcastingTricks.com
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Adobe announced the release of Lightroom Beta 4 today at Photokina. This version is a substantial update for both Windows and Mac users. I’ve been testing various builds of Beta 4 on a Mac since the Iceland Lightroom Adventure, and I can tell you from experience, that it’s worth the download.
Of all the new features, and there are plenty, take a look at the Develop module in Beta 4. New tools such as Fill Light are some of the most photography-friendly and useful image processing controls I’ve ever used. I really like refining my pictures with Develop in Lightroom.
One word of caution however… Lightroom is still under development itself. And the team has been very candid about the fact that things will change between the betas and final release. So don’t get too married to features, and keep in mind that work you do in the beta version may not carry over
That being said, whether you’re on Mac or Windows, Beta 4 is a substantial move forward for Lightroom. You might want to take a look at it.
Lightroom, Lightroom Adventure
News analyst Richard Menta posted the following in a recent edition of Digital Music News.
For touring bands, the 4-track cassette player was once the tool of choice for on-the-go recordings. But as MP3 players increase in power and capacity, musicians are likely to favor a burgeoning type of portable digital audio workstation. Two new models were recently announced. The first is from Roland, which just introduced the Boss Micro-BR, a 4-track recorder with 32 virtual tracks. The unit is only slightly bigger than an iPod, operates on two AA batteries, offers microphone and guitar inputs, and features built-in drum tracks. Music is recorded onto SD flash memory, and the unit ships with a 128MB card. Roland has yet to announce pricing or availability.
Also in the game is Trinity Audio Group, which has announced its Trinity DAW. The 10-inch by 6-inch, Linux-based portable is larger than the Roland, and offers a 20GB hard drive, 6.5-inch LCD display, and support for XLR inputs. The Trinity DAW will ship in October of this year, and lists for $1,000. Price-wise, that places the unit near laptops with recording software, another portable recording market segment that has made significant inroads over the last few years.
After a couple of decades of stagnation, analog DIY synth making is showing a lot of life again. A lot of the classic cicruit designs are no longer encumbered by patents, and many designers who have moved out from commercial production are happy that their designs still attract interest and fans. The late baby-boomers who grew up with synth envy as teenagers are now at the ripe hobbyist age. I guess there is an element, too, of coming full circle: there are great VSTs (many free) for virtual synthesizers and samplers on PCs and Macs, and programs such as Audio Mulch and SynthEdit to let us make all sorts of synthesizers, but these make us appreciate analog sound even more.
But the biggest reason for the resurgence is the strength of open-source: a lot of skilled and mad hobbyists have spent a lot of time passing around designs, schematics, PCBs, improving them and republishing on the web. It is not uncommon to be able to trace a circuit from, say, an Electronotes article in the 60s or 70s through hobbyist improvers or kit suppliers and then through successive improvements by people using the PCBs or kits; eight or more iterations of designs is common. One result of all this is that while in the past the hobbyist designs were often dodgy, nowadays there are far more excellent designs and more variation what is available: in VCFs for example there are multiple versions of the Moog ladder filter in diode and transistor variants, Korg, Steiner Synthacon, EMS, Oberheim, even some attempts at Yamaha and Arp filters. Indeed, many commercial manufacturers of modular synthesizer modules are taking advantage of the open source designs and offer their own versions of circuits that get a good buzz.
It had to happen. The podcasting train has left the station and is picking up momentum. And the companies that support this new distribution medium are growing up to meet the demand. While podcasting was originally the domain of individuals, businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, are diving in.
Software and service providers are rising to meet the challenge. One such provider is Libsyn. Libsyn is a pioneer in the low-cost podcast hosting space. For as little as $5 per month, podcasters can use Libsyn as their host and not worry about bandwidth charges, since Libsyn only charges for podcast storage, not the number of downloads each podcaster receives.
But businesses want scalable, global, robust service, guaranteed up time and an enhanced level of security. So this month, the company rolled out Libsyn Pro, aimed at businesses and podcasting networks.
Macs are now as inconvenient as PCs are. I’ve just been going through a tedious multimedia job. My Dear Old Dad makes image collection CD as his hobby: his first one, Aircraft Spotter, is of scans of WWII vintage aircraft schematics (you can get it on E-Bay, I believe). The new one is a complete catalog of the flowers at the Botanical Gardens in here in Coffs Harbour (Australia). He is using Macs for the task (I got my my first Mac Plus in about 1984 was it, and loved it) but this time around we are using OS X not OS 7. And it is much more difficult.
The problem is that we have hundreds of scans in files with no extension, based on the way Macs used to work. Some are JPEG, some are TIFF. In the old Macs, the type information was stored in a resource fork, and you didn’t need to worry about extensions. On OS X, you need the extensions. Without the extension, you cannot double click on a file, because the Mac doesn’t have enough information to know which application to launch. This is the same as PCs.
Here’s one of my favorite tips from one of my favorite books, the Digital Photography Pocket Guide:
“Don’t forget to take pictures of signs and placards. It’s a lot easier than taking notes about locations, and the information comes in very handy when recounting your travel experiences.”
Lately, I’ve been observing variations on this theme all around. Instead of taking out pen and paper, or even PDA and stylus, people are taking out their digital cameras to record useful information:
One of the O’Reilly Editors took pictures of the whiteboards at Foo Camp and passed them around so we wouldn’t forget the ideas germinated during the fabulous idea-germinating process that is Foo. (No, I often don’t fully understand what the O’Reilly Techno-Elite are talking about; I’m just glad they use their notable powers for good and not evil.)
I’ve been using my camera for “taking” winetasting notes, rather than be that obnoxious woman at the end of the bar with a pen. (Seriously. She was at every winery I went to last weekend. Same woman.) I usually have my camera in hand anyway given the beautiful countryside provided by California’s wine regions. If I see a wine I find interesting, but maybe can’t afford or don’t want to purchase at the moment, I can snap an image of the label for future reference. (By the way, don’t do this without capturing a bit more relevant detail than I did here. Good to know. “Port.” Very informative, Colleen.)
Attendees of Photoshop World were shooting the large, centrally located seminar schedule in front of the Expo hall. This despite the fact that, mere yards away, NAPP was offering lovely printed brochures that had the week’s schedule laid out exactly the same way in a portable format. But clearly some people thought it would be easier to just zoom in on their camera’s LCD screen when they needed to refresh their memory about what room their favorite Photoshop guru was in at 3:00.
My son is on an ongoing quest to spot license plates from all fifty states. Now, when he’s not with me and I see one I know he doesn’t have, I snap a picture of it. We’ve agreed that this doesn’t really “count,” but it lets him know what to look for in his quest for Florida (fish) or Mississipi (magnolia). And no, the educational value is not lost on me.
OK, so I’ll always be the quasi-luddite girl with the ink splotch at the bottom of her purse where the fountain pen leaked, right next to the coolest quad-ruled notebook I can find. And the stylus fell out of my Treo in April and I still haven’t replaced it, because taking notes on a PDA has never been satisfying or productive for me (and besides my thumbnail works just fine for most situations). But snapping a quick shot with my compact digital camera (stowed right there next to the ink splotch) is a fun, expressive, and inexpensive way to store a good deal of information quickly. Score one for technology.
To learn more handy digi-photo tips, check out the third edition of Derrick Story’s Digital Photography Pocket Guide from O’Reilly Media (2005).
Peter Drescher - audio curmudgeon and B3 monster - posted this article about some issues he has concerning the state of game audio. These are some of the same issues that have been brought up time and time again, and since I’ve spent my share of time as Audio Director for a large game publisher, I thought I’d comment on his comments from an “inside” point of view….
i recently spoke at the Game Audio Conference in Austin, Texas, and i gotta say, Austin’s a pretty nice town if you’re a musician doing game audio. Not only do they have an amazingly vibrant game developer community (everything from big names with big games to creative startups with wild but intriguing ideas), but there’s this sign:
Now, ya gotta love a town that takes care of its musicians like that … most other places won’t sell you any kind of permit if you’re a guitar player; hell, some places you can go to jail just for playing accordian!
But Austin treated us quite well, the conference was excellent, good people, good sessions, great food and drink, and as i listened to seasoned professionals tell war stories from the trenches, and show off their newest, latest and coolest, i was constantly reminded of three things about this industry that just annoy the living CRAP outa me!
Anyone who knows me (well) knows that I’m a so-called “Beatleologist”; steeped in all things Beatles from a very young age, and having amassed a reasonably vast store of knowledge and coverage on the topic over the years. I have historically been disappointed by Beatles cover attempts (most of the time). That perspective was knocked off my shoulder last night when I went to see for myself what all the buzz was about surrounding a South Bay group called the White Album Ensemble. This is a group comprised of seasoned musicians from the Doobie Brothers, Snail, and other bands who have been performing concerts together as this Ensemble for the past three years or so focusing on different Beatles albums. Their shows during 2005 dubbed “Rubber Revolver” (covering Rubber Soul & Revolver) were critically acclaimed and always sold out.
Like I said this group has been building quite a buzz locally. So when I heard they’d be playing their new 2006 show “Let Abbey Road Be” (covering you guessed it, Let It Be & Abbey Road), I decided to check them out. I was not disappointed. All the musicians were first rate veterans who were note perfect across the board. The show was really fun and entertaining. Clearly they enjoy playing together, and I noted the refreshing absence of any ego trips. A couple of the guys even played multiple instruments. The keyboard player, Dale Ockerman, who played with the Doobie Brothers for 8 years, even had a good old-fashioned Hammond C2 organ on stage that he played throughout the show (which was a trip). If you love Beatles music and you get a chance to see these guys ‘live’ don’t miss it; I give them a full 5 stars and guarantee you’ll have a good time.
If you spend enough time in the world of podcasting, you’ll eventually run into Podcasters who like to trash commercial radio. I agree that commercial radio has its problems, but it also has something to teach us.
The radio business has been viable since the early 1920s. Even though every decade brings a new technology that will supposedly destroy radio, it survives. We can learn from that. Radio will change, just like all media has had to change over time. Radio broadcasters are realizing that podcasting offers new ways to connect with listeners. And radio is jumping onto the podcasting bandwagon. So far, radio’s attempts at podcasting are about as successful as podcasters’ attempts at radio. Once again, there’s something for everyone to learn here.
Music piracy is now so prevalent that I just heard from a reader who’s writing
his MBA thesis about it. Most of the questions readers send me have quick
technical answers, but the questions from this student were more open-ended, so (with his
permission), I thought I’d open the discussion to everyone. I’ve illustrated
the questionnaire with stills from the recent propaganda video Campus
Downloading, which PC Magazine’s Jim Louderback and others described
as a modern version of Reefer
Madness. I’ve included a troubling excerpt of the video at the end.
On with the questions….
Steinberg just revved its Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) standard to version 2.2, delivering support for 64-bit Windows systems.
“The ASIO 2.2 SDK provides software engineers with a complete set of tools for creating ASIO-ready host applications and drivers,” says the press release. Developers can supposedly download the SDK at www.steinberg.net, but I couldn’t find an obvious link.
In the meantime, check out Mix’s a detailed article on the advantages of 64-bit audio.
I’ve just released a new SynthEdit module with about 80 different low pass filter configurations, plus some high pass as well. RJ_FILTER3 is available from the syntheditusers group at the YAHOO groups site, under the files/modules.
Other recent module news: Chris Kelly has released a whole new module library (good luck on getting any info anywhere): some info on the KVR VST site mentions new oscillators, filters, MIDI modules and physical modeling modules. AF has released his WaveDraw graphical/morphing oscillator. KDL and DH have updated some of their libraries.
H.G.Fortune and others are collaborating on a SynthEdit book and asking for circuit contributions and module tips from the user base.
I’ve recovered from Vegas enough to think about writing a wrap-up here. Here were the highlights of my week at Photoshop World:
Eddie Tapp’s induction into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. Eddie was gracious and kind as usual in his acceptance speech, and I’ve never had the opportunity to meet an author’s parents before. (Turns out charm and kindness are hereditary.) And we SOLD OUT of his new book, Photoshop Workflow Setups, in the booth on the first day. Eddie was shooting in the Canon booth next door, so anyone who bought a book (while we still had them) took it by for him to sign. People love Eddie’s down to earth style, both in print and in person. (Mental note, don’t step editorially all over Eddie’s down to earth style.)
Sneak peeks at Lightroom Beta 4. Noticing Lightroom’s popularity with this crowd gave me insight into just how many photographers there are at Photoshop World. OK, I know, duh. It’s just that previously, I’d had the sense that most of the attendees were there to enjoy extreme pixel-modification sports.
InDesign sessions by Adobe InDesign Guru and host of the Creative Suite Video Podcast, Terry White. (Terry’s podcast does require the video component, still worth it, just not in your car.) Got to learn some time/sanity saving tips and Terry let me stalk him on the escalator to pick his brain about using InDesign in a book production workflow.
O’Reilly Booth. Here’s a picture of the booth taken by my Executive Editor Steve Weiss. (No we don’t require facial hair to write for us, it’s just that the pictures of Mikkel Aaland and Julianne Kost were featured on the side panels of the booth.) In fact, since Julianne is on the road with Adobe’s Project Photoshop Lightroom, many of the Fans O’ Julianne just hung out next to her picture and wistfully thumbed through the pages of her gorgeous book, Window Seat. Fun to get that instant feedback from readers in the booth.
My first Photoshop Midnight Madness. If what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas, then I’m pretty sure the same goes double for Midnight Madness in Vegas. But I will say that Bert Monroy is a pretty good dancer. And I don’t think anyone who was there will ever be able to think of the Photoshop Keyboard shortcut Command-J the same way again.
How were the makers of this Easy-Bake Oven able to make the digital clock, obviously just a paper sticker, actually advance in time?
How do you transfer audio files that are too big to e-mail? In the past, I’ve
FTPed files to one of my Web sites with Dreamweaver and then e-mailed the recipient(s)
a download link, but that was cumbersome. If the file needed to be private,
like a conference-call recording about corporate strategy, I’d save it as a
password-protected zip file first, and then include the password in the e-mail.
Later, I started using DropLoad,
an ad-supported service that lets you upload files as big as 100MB through a
simple Web form. You just enter the e-mail address of the recipient, click the
Browse button to select the file, add a note if you like, and then hit “drop
it.” Once the file is uploaded, DropLoad sends the recipient an e-mail with
a download link. It then deletes the file after seven days.
I liked that DropLoad would send me an e-mail when the recipient picked up
the file, but the service frequently stalled during uploads or failed to send
notifications to the recipients. Another drawback was that that DropLoad requires
senders to set up an account, which added an extra step of complexity when I
wanted to tell people how to send large files to me.
So I switched to another ad-supported service, YouSendIt.
The free version lacks DropLoad’s pickup notification feature and won’t display
a progress bar in Safari, but it tends to be more reliable. And the YouSendIt
interface is even simpler than DropLoad’s, because it doesn’t require senders
to log in. (In fact, you can just e-mail people a link in the form http://firstname.lastname@example.org
and when they click it, they’ll go to the YouSendIt page with your address already
filled out. A few clicks, and the file is on the way to you.)
For a monthly fee, YouSendIt offers extra features such as download tracking,
larger file-size limits, and freedom from ads. That last one might tempt users
if YouSendIt keeps running its sleazy liquor commercial on infinite repeat.
While uploading a 95MB WAV file last week, I was grateful for Firefox’s Nuke
Amadeus II is a Macintosh OS9/OSX audio editor that supports MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Flac, MPEG-4, VST, Audio Units. While it’s limited to two tracks, it might just offer enough horsepower for those who want to do simple recording or sophisticated two-track mastering from files created in GarageBand or other sound applications.
At the Photoshop World Keynote in Las Vegas yesterday, the guest Adobe representatives actually spent the bulk of their time showing the crowd new, cool features of not Photoshop but the “complementary product” designed particularly for photographers, Adobe Lightroom.
After NAPP President Scott Kelby entertained the crowd with a clever CSI send-up (featuring a nefarious act by our own Deke McClelland), he turned the podium over to Adobe’s John Loiacono (Senior Vice President, Creative Solutions Business Unit) who spent a few minutes discussing how Photoshop had become a pervasive brand, community, and world experience (demonstrated with clips of referrals to Photoshop in the TV shows “The West Wing” and “Desperate Housewives.”) But “Johnny L” (if you can believe Scott Kelby) fairly quickly introduced Adobe’s Sr. Director of Product Development for Digital Imaging, Kevin Connor, to give a sneak peek at Lightroom.
Although Lightroom has been in public beta since January (at least for Mac users), “Kevin C” (OK, I made that one up) gave the audience a glimpse at some of the cool features of Beta 4, which is not yet available to the world. Although I was a little surprised that so much time was spent on Lightroom at Photoshop World Keynote, from a raise-of-hands poll conducted by Kevin Conner, hundreds in the audience had already downloaded the beta.
One of those key features is a flexible, customizable interface which allows photographers to choose which tools and metadata they want to see, and hide panels that they don’t. But the intriguing new feature to me was a new highlight/shading feature on the Histogram and Curves displays that show you the area that you are affecting as you move a slider. Seems to me this has great feedback potential for helping users (especially new students of digital photography) really understanding how these tools work.
In order to prove that the next round would have parity across platform, he ran it in Windows. He also used some amazing photographs from the Adobe Lightroom Adventure in Iceland to demo how the new interface worked, and both Conner and Loiacono praised the value of having sent real world photographers out to test this tool for “photographers who want the best results.”
During a break at this year’s Foo
Camp, Tim O’Reilly’s intense technology conference, I noticed a surprising
contraption on the lawn.
I went to a movie in the SF Bay Area over the weekend, and paid $9.75 for my ticket (ouch!). But of course concert tickets are a much more painful hit to the wallet (these days they range from $65 to $300 plus — double ouch!!). And of course if you’re in Cleveland and your favorite band is performing in Brazil, wouldn’t it be great to be able to catch the show anyway? Theater chains like National CineMedia have started to embrace the opportunity of providing you with the concert experience in the comfort of your neighborhood theater for the (comparative) bargain price of, you guessed it $9.75 — with all your friends in tow if you like to embrace the crowd feel of a ‘live’ concert! There’s a brief blurb that touches on this very topic in this month’s Wired.
My colleague Kevin Wall has taken this notion a step further with his company Network Live which focuses on a fully integrated concert experience. The fan can experience the ‘live’ concert via a mainstream online portal like AOL, satellite radio, DirecTV, in theater (National CineMedia), and on their mobile phone. Kevin, having been the Executive Producer of both Live Aid and Live 8, along with Sir Bob Geldof, launched the company in July 2005 on the heels of Live 8 (which effectively served as a prototype for Network Live) — and is breaking new ground in the concert world with his maverick approach. Artists of course profit from multiple revenue streams as a result of this new model (which by now you know is what I’m listening for!).
I’m moderating a panel on the Concert of the Future at the Digital Music Forum in LA on October 5th. If you’re in town, join us. I’ll have colleagues from Ticketmaster, Network Live, Live Nation, House of Blues, and PassAlong Networks discussing how new technologies and business models are impacting the concert experience.
I think I’ve found the perfect plug-in for serious podcasters, and musicians for that matter. Ozone 3 is available for just about every digital audio platform including the most popular DirectXm VST, RTAS and AU implementations.
It provides six separate processors plus dithering: Paragraphic Equalizer, Mastering Reverb, Loudness Maximizer, Multiband Harmonic Exciter, Multiband Dynamics, and Multiband Stereo Imaging.