Daring Fireball: For Whatever Reasons
New Windows updates, new anti-virus software, new ad-blocking software — regular people are starting to realize that the cycle never ends, that they are never going to successfully secure Windows, and that the easiest and best solution to the Windows security problem is not to use Windows at all.
This conversation appears not at all uncommon. I was on the subway last week and overheard a conversation about problems with home computers. Fed up with pop-ups, viruses and adware, two people were discussing various fixes, such as running Ad-Aware and Spybot:Search and Destroy, before considering the virtues of Apple computers and Mac OS X.
This is undoubtedly one reason why I see many more Apple computers around the law school than last year.
If, for whatever reason, you are stuck with Windows, one way to improve your web browsing experience and avoid most adware and spyware is to switch from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox. Firefox is not only more secure than Internet Explorer, but it feels faster, too.
This week, Apple started shipping Airport Express, a compact WiFi base station which enables iTunes to wirelessly stream music to a stereo.
The NY Times’ David Pogue lauds the Airport Express, Apple’s Pocket-Size Base Station. Ars Technica comprehensively reviews the Airport Express and concludes that “the Express is more than just the sum of its parts.” WSJ Personal Technology columnist Walt Mossberg considers the lack of a remote control to be “just unacceptable in a device of this kind,” AirPort Express Does What Apple Claims, But It Still Falls Short.
Ernie offers two solutions: ‘Dude, get a laptop with built-in Wi-Fi,’ or use Sailing Clicker with your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.
Sailing Clicker is a tremendously cool application (“this is so cool!“), but extremely limited by the fact that it relies on Bluetooth. Bluetooth does not have even enough range to reach across the small space of AndrewRaff.com World HQ and will not be useful for someone whose computer is in a different room from the Airport Express and stereo.
Apple’s next wireless product should be a WiFi remote control. Think an iPod/mini, but with WiFi instead of a hard drive: it can be used to control iTunes from anywhere on the network. Using the familiar iPod interface, the display would be able to show song info, browse the iTunes library, create playlists, and address all of the shortcomings of the Airport Express as a music player. Unlike a bluetooth or infrared remote, a WiFi remote control would not only have a much greater range, but could work with the existing Airport hardware and not require an additional receiver.
Recently, I have become reacquainted with my old friend Pine. Who needs fancy graphics or colors for e-mail?
I should point out that this is not a result of my choice, but rather the result of some kind of protest by my computer to running mail.app. Fortunately, I can still work in Word, OmniOutliner and Safari. But why did my computer decide that right now, on the cusp of finals season, is the best time to go crazy? No tv and no beer? The little dude didn’t enjoy the last time it went drinking…
Here’s what’s happening:
Mail.app, iChat and iCal refuse to launch. They will bounce in the dock for a long time. Activity Monitor shows that they are running, but they do not show up in the command-option-esc force quit menu.
I have run fsck, repaired permissions, run DiskWarrior and cleared system caches. None of these have fixed the problem.
What’s going on here?
I’m having far too much fun playing around with GarageBand. The software instruments are impressive, especially when considering the price of the program. In particular, the electric piano is very nice, after the basic sample is tweaked to add just a little more overdrive.
Unfortunately, the system requirements are pretty heavy. After all, my iBook barely meets the minimum specs, so some features are unavailable: in particular, the amp modeling requires a G4 or G5 system.
While much of the Mac web is filled with disappointment about Apple’s announcement at MacWorld earlier this week, I am thrilled, because Apple released something that I’ve been looking for, at a lower price than expected: a simple music recording and composition program, Garage Band. For $49, the program combines multi-track audio recording with amp modeling, virtual instruments and loops and happens to include new versions of iDVD and iPhoto. While I have yet to use Garage Band, there is nothing else like it on the market, especially not at this price point. No, it’s not a professional application by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s why Apple offers Logic (and is rumored to be releasing a “Pro Tools killer” as soon as NAMM). As a tool for creating simple recordings and developing ideas, I look forward to playing with Garage Band. Now, I just need to get a USB MIDI interface…
With the advance press its gotten, was anyone surprised when Apple unveiled its new iTunes music store? The software is as slick as could be expected. Makes getting music as fast and easy as possible. I could end up dropping a lot of money through this service.
But I can’t yet, not until I can get the music that I want. Apple’s selection is currently thin and mediocre. Radiohead? OK Computer and no more. I wanted to buy Ben Folds Five’s eponymous debut album. Not available. Beatles? Nothing. Not only are some artists not represented, but some albums are incomplete. I however, can’t classify this as too great a detriment at this point. Unlike eMusic, Rhapsody or Pressplay, there’s no subscription fee, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting money waiting for the music I want. I doubt the selection will be so thin in 6 months.
Now that the service is up and running, I hope that Apple with get some deals done with indie labels to get their music on the service. I hope that up and coming artists will be able to distribute some of their music at a lower price to encourage more listening. I expect that the selection will grow not only more complete, but broader fairly quickly.
The software itself is easy to use and lots of fun. Browsing, finding and downloading music is tremendously easy. I’m not a big user of any of the post-Napster P2Ps because I find the return on my time to be too small and the availability and quality of files to be too erratic to waste time on.
128kbps AAC encoding sounds marginally better than the 192kbps MP3 I usually use to rip my CDs and blows away the quality of 128k MP3 while retaining the same file size. I may switch to ripping CDs in AAC format. As for the DRM, it’s not great. If you want to share music with a friend, you need to give that friend your Apple ID password (which is linked to your credit card info and, in my case, .mac account.)
My favorite feature of iTunes 4, though, is the playlist sharing feature. iTunes users can share their music libraries over a local network with Rendezvous or over the internet. It’s very slick.I could use another OS X computer to run as a personal media server… Of course, I could also use a 30 gig iPod.
Terms of Service: “Apple reserves the right, at any time and from time to time, to update, revise, supplement, and otherwise modify this Agreement and to impose new or additional rules, policies, terms, or conditions on your use of the Service.”
Ads. My favorite isBaby got back.
How to link to items in the iTunes Store
And, some other opinions:
Paul Boutin (Slate):The 10-10-220 of File-Sharing
John Borland (News.com): Apple unveils music store
Farhad Manjoo (Salon): I have seen the future of music and its name is iTunes
David Pogue (NY Times): Apple’s New Online Music Service
Walter Mossberg (Wall St. Journal): Apple’s New Service Beats Illegal Free Sites
Even though his Torts casebook is not the most fun book ever, Prof. Richard Epstein picks up some points for being a Mac user. He discusses the software industry and patents in this FT column:
As I have often stressed in this column, I claim no technical expertise in the software that operates under the hood of my computer. But for these purposes ignorance is a kind of bliss, for it is quite evident as I sit working away on my OS X by Apple that it represents a major advance in convenience, versatility and power that could not have taken place if strong intellectual property rights had Balkanised the intellectual universe.
Have a Sony Ericsson phone with Bluetooth? Have a Mac with OS X and Bluetooth? Then go and get Sony Ericsson Clicker
Sony Ericsson Clicker is a revolutionary application, allowing you to remotely control a wide range of applications with your Sony Ericsson phone. Impress your friends and co-workers!
edit: This is so cool! The phone works well as a remote when using the computer as an MP3 or DVD player. It’s even better than most tv/stereo remotes, since it doesn’t need line of sight. I wonder if it’s possible to use the IR on the T68i to control infrared remotes. I know that a universal remote program exists for Palms with IR…
The super-excellent final NetNewsWire is out. I can’t say enough good things about this program. It rocks.
Simon Extreme for Mac OS Xis a “reinterpretation of the classic 1978 Milton Bradley game Simon for Mac OS X, complete with authentic gameplay and sound samples from the original game.”