A pilot’s prerogative.

Buzz­ing around SFO Ter­min­al 3

End of the Cre­at­ive Strategies course yes­ter­day and fly­ing out today.

Upon takeoff the pilot of my Sky­w­est United flight throttled back and lev­elled off at about 5000 ft.

Then we flew up the bay, slowly, and bank­ing to view all the land­marks.

This could have been a mere coin­cid­ence between oth­er craft in the air and instruc­tions of the depar­ture con­trol­ler.

But it seemed too per­fect. The con­flu­ence of beau­ti­ful sunny San Fran­cisco morn­ing, a per­fect view­ing alti­tude, and a pilot who didn’t race for alti­tude and then flip over to auto­pi­lot.

What a way to end the trip.

I think I’ve bought my last desktop computer

A couple of years ago, I was all into and enjoyed build­ing desktop com­puters, pick­ing out the right video card, select­ing the best mother­board and gen­er­ally dig­ging deep into the innards of my future com­put­ing plat­form. And design­ing the per­fect ‘office’ com­put­ing envir­on­ment with short cable runs, ample power for my accessor­ies and lots of desktop space. Yes it was com­plex and involved and detailed, but it was a hobby — build­ing com­puters.

These days, I’m not so con­cerned about it. What I need to do on a com­puter hasn’t changed, but the com­put­ing industry has matured, my needs are now becom­ing much more main­stream, and the sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­ences between one com­pon­ent and anoth­er aren’t quite so sig­ni­fic­ant any more.

Put anoth­er way, what I have been doing and want to do on a com­puter, is now much more in demand by every­day con­sumers. And the hard­ware, is becom­ing much more homo­gen­eous. They’ve caught up. Wel­come to the future.

Honey, I shrunk the CPU
Moore’s Law has also caught up, to the point where the hard­ware is smal­ler, light­er, faster, and cheap­er to make. On today’s hard­ware you can have full audio and video edit­ing stu­di­os in the soft­ware that runs your phone. You can remotely pilot vehicles with your phone or mobile com­put­ing device, and you can eas­ily com­mu­nic­ate with any­one on the plan­et using any num­ber of mobile tech­no­lo­gies.

Any of the mod­ern note­book com­puters have all that stuff in a very tiny pack­age.

Home file shar­ing
It used to be that you had files on one com­puter, and you shared them with the oth­er. Both com­puters had to be on to share the files. Now, with ubi­quit­ous WiFi and home net­work stor­age appli­ances (basic­ally net­work-aware hard drives) in your house­hold, any com­puter or com­pat­ible device can access any doc­u­ment, video, mp3, at any time. No need to have a big Mas­ter Serv­er.

The same goes for net­work-aware print­ers. Most man­u­fac­tur­ers have WiFi mod­els avail­able that know how to play nice with your home net­work envir­on­ment. Again, no need for a com­puter dir­ectly con­nec­ted to a print­er.

I men­tioned home net­work stor­age above, but these days stor­age devices are dirt cheap. So much so that it’s become pos­sible for com­mer­cial busi­ness to be built up around the concept of offer­ing you free online stor­age of your doc­u­ments, pho­tos, music, whatever…for free.

And they won’t only store your files, they’ll give you free access to applic­a­tions and tools to cre­ate and edit your stuff. Again, I no longer have a need for a huge drive attached to a big desktop box — all this stuff is in the cloud.

One caveat
There’s only two real reas­on that I can think of for need­ing a ded­ic­ated desktop com­puter these days; high-qual­ity media cre­ation, and gam­ing.

If you’re into music mak­ing, video edit­ing, pho­to­graphy, art, design, any­thing that needs you to move masses of pixels or gigs of data around, the archi­tec­ture of a desktop com­puter box is more suited to that than many of the note­book com­puters on the mar­ket. And you’re likely using the com­puter in a pro­fes­sion­al set­ting as a pho­to­graph­er, com­poser and the like.

Gam­ing also is a hard­ware resource hog, and falls into that cat­egory as many of the same com­put­ing tasks in media cre­ation are also neces­sary in game cre­ation and play­ing. Of course, there are excep­tions — I’ve seen some very power­ful (and pretty) gam­ing laptops.

Inter­est­ing, but not enough
But gam­ing isn’t enough for me to build my desktop around it, any more. Con­sole gam­ing sys­tems have edged in with com­par­able graph­ics and game­play, on much big­ger screens than could fit on my desktop.

So it looks like my next new sys­tem, likely in a year or two, won’t be a power-suck­ing behemoth that sits under my desk. Rather, it’ll be some­thing small, light, can con­nect to desktop mon­it­ors, mice & key­boards, and the home net, yet is still port­able. And I think the same holds true for most of you too. Yes, wel­come to the future 🙂
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Did Apple just kill a small part of the music industry?



Ever since the iPhone and iPod Touch caught the atten­tion of developers of developers with an interest in music, there have been music apps in the iTunes App store.

With yesterday’s announce­ment of Gar­age Band for iPad these smal­ler niche developers could be chal­lenged by the vast devel­op­ment resources Apple can bring to bear.

Gar­age Band iPad
Dig­ging into the details, iPad Gar­age Band really looks like a great all-in-one pack­age with a good selec­tion of instru­ments, instru­ment enhance­ments (Smart Instru­ments), Plug-ins, Syn­this­izers, and Digit­al Audio Work­sta­tion com­pon­ents (Amps & Effects), as well as multi-track edit­ing and record­ing.

Wow, there’s a lot there for $4.99. Ser­i­ously. I’ll be get­ting it.

What’s out there now
Tak­ing a quick look at some of the lead­ing music cre­ation and instru­ment­a­tion apps in the store, you’d exceed that level by just buy­ing one app, in many cases.



Instru­ments / Synths


You see the chal­lenge?
For con­sumers and soft­ware developers, once again, Apple has redefined an industry, but per­haps not in a good way. Or did they just make a state­ment that the exist­ing apps are way too over­priced? Time will tell.

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Offline Life.

The title of this post refers to some­thing that is kinda ali­en to me. Yet, it shouldn’t be. For the last 20 years or so, my life has been online, in one form or anoth­er. Yes, I’m a digit­al nomad, liv­ing in a digit­al world, con­fused by those who insist on stay­ing off­line.

As more people are embra­cing mobile tech or simply get­ting their kids to hook them up with web access (hi Mom!), it’s becom­ing more rare to encounter someone who doesn’t live part of their life online.

I’m a bad example, per­haps a bit extreme toward the online end, but for me, I get a major­ity of my TV, radio, music, movies and gam­ing through the Inter­net. I call up road maps, check daily weath­er, pay my bills, pay my taxes, sched­ule hair­cuts, order new books and hard­ware through it. Yes, I’m part of the web.  So much so that when it’s miss­ing, it’s notice­able.

Yet, there is a sig­ni­fic­ant por­tion of human­ity that man­ages to get by without a daily/hourly con­nec­tion to the Mat­rix. And, for the life of me, I can’t fathom how this is pos­sible!

I’m aware that some folk are not into the online life­style, but frankly I don’t get it. II don’t under­stand why people are insist­ing on pay­ing their bills in per­son at the bank. Nor do I under­stand why folk are still tied to land­line tele­phone con­tracts, when VOIP phone sys­tems and cel­lu­lar tech­no­logy allow much great­er free­dom.

To be clear, I’m not a GenX GenY or Mil­leni­um. I was born in the six­ties, learned stuff in the sev­en­ties, and frankly try to for­get the eighties. Yet, I’m com­fort­able with this tech. It’s so freakin’ enabling I can’t see why more aren’t using it to enable them to do awe­some things!

I just received an invite to go pho­to­graph an occur­rence of the Aurora Boreal­is via Twit­ter. My work, yes my employ­ment, is online. Earli­er this even­ing I checked in with my Mom to make sure her new computer’s work­ing fine, and took con­trol of her sys­tem to veri­fy it was work­ing fine. Cur­rently, I’m listen­ing to a favour­ite celt­ic sing­er through an online music ser­vice.

How can this not make sense? What am I miss­ing? Enlight­en me :smileyhappy:

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

If it’s everywhere, is it special?

4553i114AB80206EE34C5Once upon a time, not too long ago, in the lat­ter part of the last cen­tury — say the 60’s and 70’s, con­sum­ing media was clumsy and cum­ber­some. It seemed that you had to make a spe­cial appoint­ment with your hard­ware to listen to the latest band or show some friends your latest pho­tos. You had one device for each media, and shar­ing and con­sum­ing media was not some­thing you did every day, on a whim, or eas­ily. You had to have a spe­cial place to con­sume your media. And you had to set aside spe­cial time for it.

Radio was ‘the’ medi­um that gave you instant grat­i­fic­a­tion back in the day. Every­one had one, or two, and had a favour­ite sta­tion or music pro­gram. The catch was, a sta­tion could only broad­cast one thing at a time. So if you weren’t into old-time polka music, you had to find anoth­er sta­tion to listen to, from a hand­ful, per­haps. We all had favour­ite sta­tions and pro­grams.

Port­able music was your little tran­sist­or radio. AM. The Sony Walk­man wouldn’t be developed for a few years yet. Apple was a record label that the Beatles recor­ded with. The com­puter com­pany didn’t exist yet either. There really wasn’t a concept of a per­son­al music play­er.

In most homes, the ‘liv­ing room’ had all the major­ity of media devices; a hi-fi (record play­er), a TV, and that was it. Per­haps the hi-fi had an 8-track play­er or cas­sette. Home movies and pho­tos were presen­ted theatre-style — pro­jec­ted on a big screen (after recon­fig­ur­ing the room and set­ting up said pro­ject­or and screen). Even­tu­ally con­sumer-grade video­tape sys­tems were intro­duced, but still the prob­lem of schedul­ing your media con­sump­tion exis­ted.

Many of you likely remem­ber such things, maybe even you’ve used them or owned them, but I’m guess­ing that a fair num­ber of read­ers here wouldn’t know how to change the stylus in a turntable, nor the dif­fer­ence between Chro­mi­um Diox­ide and Fer­ric Oxide audio tape. Such were (com­pet­it­or) of tech­no­logy, back in the day.

Fast-for­ward­ing to today you eas­ily see the how life­style tech­no­logy has changed the way we share and con­sume media:

  • Movies on demand can be ordered instantly and delivered to any room in the house with today’s high band­width HD PVRs and routers
  • Pho­tos are rarely stored in phys­ic­al books. Rather they’re on com­puter hard drives, or bet­ter yet, on com­mer­cial photo shar­ing ser­vices (like flickr and Picas­sa) where they’re eas­ily avail­able, secure and reg­u­larly backed up.
  • The same for music, though today you really don’t need to store it. Rather than play­back from a phys­ic­al media device (LP, 45, CD etc) you can simply grab your com­puter and surf to one of the many online music stores. Or if you simply want to sample, it’s easy to use one of the stream­ing ser­vices like Groove­Shark or Blip.fm.

Once some big-brained hack­ers some­where real­ized that our media can be con­ver­ted into bits and bytes, things changed. Those bits and bytes can be stored, moved, shared, delivered over this series of tubes called the Inter­net. That music, movie, whatever is now port­able, and it doesn’t really care about format. I can play an mp3 on my com­puter, net­work-enabled blu-ray play­er, iPod, iPad, eBook read­er, Phone, etc… you get the pic­ture.

So now, we’re much more effi­cient at con­sum­ing and shar­ing our media when and where we want. There are many inex­pens­ive tech­no­logy tools that enable this, but are we bet­ter off?

Some days, I miss the excite­ment of bring­ing home a new album of music, put­ting it on the turntable and shar­ing the music with any­one in the house. That used to be some­thing spe­cial. There was a little ritu­al asso­ci­ated with open­ing the album, clean­ing the disc, and drop­ping the needle in the groove.

Some­how, open­ing a CD and slid­ing it into a play­er, or press­ing ‘buy’ on an online music store just doesn’t have that same spe­cial sense of ritu­al, that sense that ‘we’re going to listen to music now, this is import­ant, so sit down and pay atten­tion’. Some days, con­sum­ing media just doesn’t seem as spe­cial as it once was.

I won­der what’s replaced it.…I’ve not found it yet.

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.