Notes on Apple TV

April 3, 2007

Apple TVOne week in, more-or-less, and I’ve had time to form a few initial impressions.

It pretty much “just works” — the only problem I’ve had (and still have) is using the Harmony through the Xantech remote extender. Annoying, but livable until someone comes out with alternatives.

The interface is still very nice, yet slightly crippled (in Apple’s traditional fashion) by having an interface device that’s short a button. There needs to be some way to do things like “adjust aspect ratio” and “view metadata”, but even if such was built (or hacked) in, there’s not a button on the remote to support it. Video playback could also benefit from “skip forward” and “skip backward” buttons (preferably with configurable durations).

Having access to my music library with a nice interface, plus the ability to conveniently watch video podcasts that I’ve always avoided before (my attention span for watching video on a computer is rather short) is almost worth the price of admission by itself.

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Apple TV Initial Impressions

March 27, 2007

Apple TVSomething bad happened yesterday — I wore out yet another keyboard. Worse, while I was at the crack store Fry’s picking up a new one, I walked past a stack of Apple TVs, and one of them followed me home.

Outside of being in the store anyway for the keyboard thing (the “colon” key failed — how the hell can a “colon” key fail? Semicolon works. Shift+anything else works. Try writing HTML or CSS without a colon key), I probably wouldn’t have been as tempted to get one right now if it hadn’t been for the high rate of very interesting hacks emerging for the Apple TV over the past few days — I’m guessing Apple has hit another one out of the park.

The unit comes boxed more or less like an iPod — fold-open box in a slip case, “Made by Apple in California”, etc.

Not a cable in sight, other than the power cord (boo).

At least the power cord doesn’t have a huge transformer brick on it (yea!).

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5 Ways to copy music OFF your iPod (Windows / Mac OS X)

March 9, 2007

Apple iPod VideoSo, you’ve got music on your iPod that you don’t have on your computer?

It doesn’t matter how you got in this predicament — maybe you’ve lost a hard drive (or an entire computer), or you’ve accidently deleted just a little too much, and for one reason or another, you don’t have the original source of the music.

If any of that sounds familiar, the time to fix it is now — before you lose your iPod (and your music), or iTunes manages to get set to automatically sync your entire library (its default state, if you have to re-install it) and starts deleting all of the songs it doesn’t know about.

Unfortunately, the standard tool for transferring music between your iPod and your computer (iTunes) is one-way — it’ll put music (or videos, etc.) onto your iPod, but it won’t retrieve it back. Why? Uncle Steve wants it that way, I suppose.

The good news is that there are several ways around this, for both Mac and Windows users, ranging from free to cheap ($30 or so).

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iHome iH6 iPod Clock Radio (Review)

March 7, 2007

iHome iH6 iPod Clock Radio(iSwear iM getting sick of the whole iProduct naming thing…)

Oh well; lack of originality in a name never hurt anything, iSuppose.

In any event…

I got my first iHome iPod clock radio (the iH5) for Christmas, 2005.

It was exceedingly cool, and then pretty cool, and then mostly cool, and then (just recently) it sucked enormously.

The concept was great — wake up to your playlist, keep your iPod handy and charged, and it doubled as a damn good iPod speaker dock.

Unfortunately, the execution lacked a bit — the display was hard to read (there were very few brightness settings that were readable during full light that didn’t try to give you a fluorescent tan while you slept), and the clock had a tendency to lose a minute or two each month.

Annoying, but livable.

Lately however, it started making a horrid noise during iPod play if the iPod wasn’t in the dock just “so”. Then it started making it regardless of how the carefully the iPod was placed in the dock. At the same time, the iPod or radio buttons would turn on the associated function (or noise, as the case may be), but not turn it off.

At which point it got kicked to the curb.

All in all, not overly terrible — while fifteen months isn’t a tremendous life span for an under $100 piece of consumer electronics, it isn’t completely unreasonable, either.

Still, I decided I’d give the iHome another shot, with the iH6. Since the original product has been on the ground for well over a year, hopefully they’ve had an opportunity to sort out some of the issues.

So far, so good…
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V-Moda Vibe In-Ear Monitors (earbuds) (Review)

March 5, 2007

V-Moda Vibe In-Ear Monitors (earbuds)I’d never tried an “in-ear monitor” before — mostly because the ones I’d seen were always very expensive, and because I hate “earbuds” with a passion that almost defies description.

But the V-Moda Vibes absolutely rule.

I don’t know if I have overly tiny ears, or they’re shaped wrong, or what, but I’ve never been able to get earbuds to stay in, and they are always painful — often amazingly so.

Which sucks, as it leaves me dealing with headphones; since I end up wearing them for several hours every week when working out, I get a choice of lightweight back-of-the-head phones that fall off, or over the head phones that look goofy. I also end up going with the open-ear variety, sacrificing sound quality for not looking like some DJ that just fell out the booth.

One of the selling points of the Vibe for me was that they come with three different sizes of earpiece.

They are advertised as being affordable (compared to other in-ear monitors), comfortable, and most of all, as having great sound quality.

They live up to the claim.

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Alabama 3 – Intervention (The Futech Mixes) – Review

February 24, 2007

Alabama 3 (A3) Intervention - The Futech MixesOkay, anybody who knows my taste in music (or lack thereof) knows that I tend to collect remixes of Alabama 3 music like a dark shirt collects cat hair.

Naturally, the quality of these mixes tend to vary from “Hey, that’s pretty good!” to “Just how loaded were they?”, but some of the consistently best remixes have come from a denizen of the Unofficial Alabama 3 Forum named Futech.

While most of us A3 fans are anxiously awaiting the new studio album, due out someday fairly soon with any luck, Futech has put together 8 of his best remixes into an album, which he’s titled “Intervention”. He’s even done up cover art.

While this is far from official (and far from authorized, probably), there is some outstanding stuff here.

You can find it all right here, as either individual tracks or a whole album download. All in sweet pretty DRM-free MP3s.


SXSW 2007 Music Torrent

February 24, 2007

The good folks at this year’s South by Southwest festival have been kind enough to once again put up a Showcasing Artists torrent.

Weighing in at 3.1 gig with a massive 739 totally DRM-free MP3s, this may not be quite as good as being there, but it’s a damn site better than not hearing it at all.

Hurray for SXSW for once again demonstrating how to do this kind of thing right!

(via TorrentFreak)

iTunes, Fairplay & The Long Game of Steve Jobs

February 9, 2007

In the wake of Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Music, there has been a lot of speculation as to what it means that Jobs — who fathered the most extensively used Digital Rights Management system in the world (Fairplay) – is calling for the end of DRM.

Wired’s Cult of Mac sums up some of more intriguing thoughts here, speculating that just as the iTunes Music Store “One contract fits all” approach managed to build the world’s largest digital music store, with DRM on all music (whether requested by the owners or not), the same leverage could now be applied to force all of the participants to leave DRM behind, or lose access to their only growth market.

Is it really possible that this has been Jobs’ “Long Game” all this time? That Apple embraced DRM only to get it to hold still long enough to drive a stake through its heart?
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Courtney Love’s Manifesto

December 24, 2005

Okay, so maybe she’s not always appeared to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but Courtney Love has figured out the problem with the recording industry’s games, she’s not planning on taking it any more, and not surprisingly, she’s not going to go quietly.

Courtney Love Does The Math

I want to work with people who believe in music and art and passion. And I’m just the tip of the iceberg. I’m leaving the major label system and there are hundreds of artists who are going to follow me. There’s an unbelievable opportunity for new companies that dare to get it right.

How can anyone defend the current system when it fails to deliver music to so many potential fans? That only expects of itself a “5 percent success rate” a year? The status quo gives us a boring culture. In a society of over 300 million people, only 30 new artists a year sell a million records. By any measure, that’s a huge failure.

Maybe each fan will spend less money, but maybe each artist will have a better chance of making a living. Maybe our culture will get more interesting than the one currently owned by Time Warner. I’m not crazy. Ask yourself, are any of you somehow connected to Time Warner media? I think there are a lot of yeses to that and I’d have to say that in that case president McKinley truly failed to bust any trusts. Maybe we can remedy that now.

The Hole thing (sorry) is really quite well thought out and well written.  Do yourself a favor and go read it — and pass it on.

Apple’s Livingroom Strategy

October 14, 2005

Apple has released the first piece of their “10 foot experience” — the Apple Media Center, and Eirik Solheim is pondering what is missing

What I miss in the Apple Front Row Experience as far as I can judge from the Apple web site at this point are:
– PVR functionallity with an electronic program guide
– A system for including broadband services
(Like Microsoft Online Spotlight or Beyond Media SnapStream Spotlight)
– Extenders (I guess it’s just a question of time before Apple integrates video streaming in their Airport)
– Support for HD content

To me, this whole thing is like watching a massive storm developing… It’s moving slowly, but it’s going to be enormous.
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