One giant cheese grater, please.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2003

When we first talked about going down to Mexico I thought that the timing would work out well on all kinds of levels. There’s nothing really much to recommend Atlanta in mid-July–and since we don’t live 100 yards from a pool like my brother and his family in Tudor-fancy Avondale Estates, we might as well get outta town and gain some altitude.

And I’d heard that there were going to be some big Apple announcements at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference on the 23rd of June, and my best guess was that they involved systems that you couldn’t get your hands on until August or September anyway, so why not spend that time productively away from Atlanta, away from broadband, away from the fancy Mac machines that support my professional life, such as it is.

And sure enough, with Sammy already in the mountains and me nearly out the door, here comes the new Mac desktops, the G5s. Professional machines, mind you, not for dinking around in Word or sending a bunch of emails, but large, bus-capable, bit-pushing monsters that make slogging around digital video or even high-definition video images easy and, well, fun. The fun comes in the guise of some operating system improvements Apple will release as ‘Panther‘–I’m especially looking forward to this one, which makes your windows scurry about like cockroaches surprised by a sudden light (that’s a line from this website, by the way. I wish my mots were that juste these days, but it’s late and my sleep-cycles are even wackier than usual.) This latest OS X version will also completely restructure the Finder, speed up Mail and Preview applications and allow you to use Instant Messaging with audio and video. (Yes, one step closer towards those picturephones we were promised.)

It’s thoughtful, clever development work like this that will keep me loyally on Macintoshes long past the point that I really should stop doing all this design stuff for television. As long as they keep making things easier and faster and the screens brighter and sharper, well, it’s fun top play in the fields of After Effects, Final Cut, and Photoshop, take it from me.

So as I said, the timing works. I went up to the Apple Store at Lenox Monday afternoon and became one of the corpulent t-shirted lemmings lined up in front of the huge video image of Steve Jobs, and I basked in the reality distortion field he still wields masterfully, and I walked out ready to order the big all-powerful one, the dual 2 ghz G5 that resembles (some have already said) an enormous fancy cheese grater.

And I’ll go off to Mexico, and walk around in mountain towns and cruise through the Mayan lowlands and think about just what a big cheese grater does for one’s quality of life, especially in the richer context of being the spouse of the archaeologist and not out there on the 80-hour-a-week fringe of graphic production.

And then (what would you expect?) we’ll come home in August and I’ll whip out my REI Visa and get my hands on one of the damn things, because they’ll be shipping by then.

Streaming less, enjoying it more.

Thursday, June 5th, 2003

Children we have it right here, it’s the light in my eyes. It’s perfection and grace, it’s the smile on my face. But it’s mostly me getting up early-ish in the morning and making some coffee and listening to Gaucho (in lovely AAC fidelity) on my rehabilitated Sennheiser headphones.

And where yesterday my eyes were burning—a full-fledged allergy attack, today I’m feeling mo’better, thanks.

I’m up and around and messing with Steely Dan stuff on Gordy’s birthday in anticipation of the fine new album from the fiftyish forefathers of precision rock’n’roll. I believe it’s called Everything Must Go, and for those who can’t wait five days, several tracks are on sale now at the iTunes music store.

Yeah, we use that iTunes quite a bit around here, and like many who hold true that more is more and less is less, we were a bit concerned when Apple release iTunes 4.01, which restricted the cool feature that 4.0 offered—where you could stream songs from your home machine to your work machine—or to perfect strangers across the country. It didn’t take long for developer-enthusiasts to hack together ways to actually save those streaming songs, and thus form the architecture (with Apple’s software) of yet another person-to-person sharing system.

This of course would raise the hackles of copyright fanatics like the RIAA, and would probably engender a lawsuit that could do anything from close Apple’s music store to putting the whole damn company finally out of business.

So Apple closed the loophole, and after taking a deep breath, I downloaded and installed the update that incorporated those changes.

So we stream merrily throughout out house (or if you park out in front), but beyond our subnet, it’s no go. And I can live with that. In fact, I think it’s only prudent, because I want reasonable e-commerce to survive and thrive—especially e-commerce that gives artists a goodly share of the profit. I like the 99 cent per song model. I like the fact you can buy songs a la carte. I like that the DRM (Digital Rights Management) system imposed is not draconian—it allows you to have these songs on all the burnt CDs and all the iPods you want—and it allows you to have the music on up to three computers.

Fair enough for 99 cents. And most importantly: it’s yours. it won’t go away if Apple does.

There’s a report that Apple is holding some sort of event today or tomorrow that is likely to announce a deal with a bunch of indie labels—and again, count me in, that’s great.


Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003

Okay, in no particular order.

First of all, as one of those geeky people behind the scenes, I’m charmed and pleased that Keanu Reeves has given 50 million pounds (82-ish million dollars) to…no, not charity exactly, but to the effects crew of The Matrix Reloaded! Yes, that’s something like 1.5 million apiece…from an actor who, well yes, was considerably…shall we say augmented?…by this crew’s efforts.

So, wow! It does pay to labor away patiently in the background, carefully arranging row after row of well-behaved pixels. or it pays to work with Keanu. or maybe it pays not to make him look like too much of a goofball when he’s swinging around on a pole, slamming 12,370 Agent Smiths back into each other and various hard surfaces.

I’m beard-free these days, did I mention that? It kinda feels like I have spidey-sense, especially outdoors.

Y’know, when I started this thing eight years ago, it was definitely pre-blog, and I was definitely a proponent of having one ‘article’ on the home page, with previous remarks close at hand. Now, this week I’ve just shoved Tuesday’s entry–a lame effort at best–down. Will I blog-ize this thing? It remains to be seen…I think it come down to convenience and ease-of-use.

Mine, not yours. Sorry…