Archive for Computers

Apple Back to the Mac Event Review

Here’s what happened at yesterday’s Back to the Mac. Most things were predicted previously so there were no major surprises.

  1. iLife ’11– This was no major addition. It added some more features to Garageband that makes creating music even easier, guitar amp effects, and a “How Did I Play That” feature which is like a Mac version of Guitar Hero . Garageband also added new more basic lessons/ iMovie added some more advanced audio features and quick trailers which is cool. It also added one click effects, new themes and face detection in video. iPhoto added new photo books, additional Facebook functions, the ability to email photos (why didn’t they have that from version 1?), as well as photo lettercards. There was no mention of iWeb or iDVD and I think both of those apps are done. All the new
  2. Facetime for Mac-Face time was introduced for Mac as a standalone application for only Snow Leopard. It should be made availilbe for more versions of Mac as well as Windows to really make using Facetime more useful but it finally will give me some more people to talk to with my iPod Touch. Facetime for Mac has been released as a beta and can be downloaded from Apple.
  3. App Store for Mac- This is not in place of being able to freely installing applications although people speculate Apple will do that in the future. It is a great way to find and install Applications for your mac without having to go through the process of finding, downloading and installing applications. This will already be coming out in the next 90 days for Snow Leopard!
  4. Mac OSX Lion: (Mac OS 10.7) We also got a preview of the next version of OSX, Lion. Lion brings some features of iOS to the desktop platform. It has a new method of switching Applications called “Mission” which replaces: Expose, Spaces, and Dashboard. It also integrates more multi-touch gestures. There are hopefully more features but, that is all that was demonstrated yesterday. It is set to launch Summer of 2011 and I think I will cost only $29 like Snow Leopard because it is a lot of interface tweaks and not a lot of new features.
  5. Macbook Air- The final thing announced yesterday was 2 new Macbook Airs which now come in 11 inch and 13 inch varieties. They only have Solid State hard drives making them even thinner and now they start at $999.

Overall it was a good event, iLife wasn’t that exciting but the rest of the announcements were and I am excited to get Lion when it comes out.

Duel Screen Benefits

In March I bought a 20 inch external monitor for my MacBook Pro. Prior to this, I had my old Dell laptop serving as my extra screen to play media and display stories when producing The Weekly Spin. The was cumbersome and took up more space as well as enough power for a whole other laptop. Now  this new monitor allows  me to easily watch media by dragging windows to the edge of my MacBook screen and put them on the other screen. This is great because of how I like to have media playing while I work so I could have video running on the extra screen and work on other things on my MacBook screen. Also if you edit video like I do, you can have the preview screen on the second monitor so you can see it full screen and see all the details. There are probably plenty of other things you can do with two monitors, it is a great way to get more work done and expand your workspace.

Post PC Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I love having the power of a computer in my pocket, but the idea of these devices replacing computers leave me a bit uneasy still. I can get a lot done just on my iPod touch (I am in fact writing this article in Notes on my iPod Touch), but I still want to be able to go home and use my computer that has the full power I need for tasks like video editing. Although you can do most of the things average computer users need to do on mobile devices, the devices are just not powerful enough to provide the speed that a personal computer does. I think that mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone might be able to replace less powerful, portable devices like netbooks but,  I still think people will need a desktop or laptop computer as well for more power-intensive tasks plus as of right now, you still need to have a computer to sync your iPhone or iPad.

Many people think that the Post PC era will behind within the next 5-10 years but, I think that we still want and need personal computers and I think it will stay that way for some time and think that is good. Although I love my iPod Touch I still need my computer for certain things and to get things done faster.

HTML 5- The Future of Mobile Applications

When the first iPhone came out allowing only Web apps, people groaned demanding local applications, which Apple did accommodate a year later. However, now with Apple being so restrictive with the App Store along with the wide variety of smartphones to develop for, web apps have made a comeback. I contribute this mainly to HTML 5. HTML 5  has become so powerful that not only can it embed and play web videos without any extra plug-ins, but, you can make full-power web apps with it. The best example is Google Voice, Apple unfortunately rejected Google Voice from the App Store but, Google then developed a mobile web app that can be run in the mobile browser and can have an icon added to the iPhone home screen. Developers could completely side-step the app store and create apps on the web and be able to get it to customers immediately without having to go through the tough approval process. The other advantage is that a HTML 5 web app can be designed to work on multiple mobile platforms and not need to make a separate version for each platform.

The disadvantage to web apps is power and lack of being able to run in the background or send push notifications. But developers can also add upgrades whenever they want and you wouldn’t have to download any upgrades. It also would be easier to integrate with cloud computing services like Google Docs, and make a skin for mobile devices. Overall, HTML 5 is a great way to add applications to  mobile devices without having to make individual versions or dealing with the approval process. It might not have the full power of local applications but, it can get certain tasks done well!

The Growing Use of Computers in Video Production

In the early days of video production, studios and control rooms were filled with single use pieces of equipment that were extremly expensive and were only used for one particular task. However, now in the past few years, those old single-use pieces of equipment are being replaced with computers that can do a particular job but can also do other things as well. This is mainly because computers have become much more powerful and can handle full HD video without any trouble. Now instead of having a special piece of equipment for the character generator, you can, as my college does use a standard off the shelf computer with a special card and some special software for a lot less money. We use the chiron system which is used in about 80% of control rooms in the industry. The other, and probably most important computerized piece of equipment is the swtchee which controls what is either recorded or broadcasted. Hardware switchers, which are still the norm in the industry, cost tens of thousands of dollars. However if you have a powerful enough computer, and the right inputs for your computer, then it can replace the hardware switcher for a fraction of the cost. There are a few software solutions for this, the most common is the Tricaster which Leo Laporte uses for his TWIT Live stream. The other common piece of software that can serve this is Boinx TV which I reviewed in an earlier article. Although this sound appealing, it is still new technology and requires a very powerful computer. However, if you have a powerful laptop it alllows you to have a switcher that you can take with you anywhere and do multi-camera shoots anywhere.

I think as time goes on more and more equipment will go computerized and will further decrease the cost of building studios which will allow more people to afford building a studio. Computers also allow flexibility and allows you to easily change the arrangement of the studio based on the program and th director’s preferences. I was able to see thus first hand when I toured Dallas Cowboys Stadium and saw their control room. The control room screens are all connected to KVM (Keyboard, video and monitor) switches so that the director can decide how they want people arranged in the control room and rearrange the control room just by pressing a few buttons.

HTML 5, The Future of Internet Video

Youtube, the largest social video network on the Internet as well as Vimeo have both recently  launched HTML 5 video players which is the newest version of the web development language that is used to write all websites! It now has added support for embeded video! I think this is a major game changer because, it undermines the current Flash video standard which has given Adobe a lot of power with their Flash Player being installed on millions of computers. However, if more video site switch to HTML 5 then, less people would both using Flash to watch video if they could just as easily watch the video in H.264 format and not need to install any other software. However, the current version of Firefox, which is my favorite browser, does not yet support HTML 5 but, it will be coming soon I’m sure!  Right now HTML 5 video is a beta feature of these sites, mainly because all browsers don’t support it. But, this can easily become a standard and make watching internet videos much easier! Browsers need to add the support for HTML 5 and once it becomes a standard, Flash usage will greatly decrease. Flash will still be used for internet games but, for video HTML 5 will take over! Another advantage is that HTML 5 that it streams higher-quality video than Flash and gives the viewer a better experience.

iPad Thoughts

Netbooks and Kindles beware, today Apple released their much anticipated tablet computer called the iPad. First, I want to say I am not a big fan of the name, although as I keep using it it does grow on me. The iPad in it’s simplest explanation is an iPod Touch or iPhone with a 9.7 inch screen. Although there are more features on the iPad but, it is a slightly modified version of the iPhone OS on the iPad. The iPad also has the iBook Store which lets you read, browse and buy ebooks on your iPad. It also has email, ipod, video playback and picture viewing capabilities just like the Ipod Touch. Also similar to the iPod Touch, you can watch Youtube videos in High definition and get maps and directions. Your probably wondering about the App Store that has all those apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. They all work on the iPad in a letter boxed regular sized or full screened double sized. They also announced that a new SDK (Software development Kit) is coming out today for developers to make Applications specifically for the iPad. The iPad has both WiFi and Bluetooth for connectivity and for $150 more on each model price, you can get 3G Wireless, unfortunately from AT&T, but, there are two options 250 MBs for $15 or Unlimited for $30, and they are prepaid meaning no contracts!The Wifi iPads will be available on March 27th and the 3G models will be availible on April 27th because of carrier approval.

The pricing scheme for the iPad is:

Wifi Model:

16 GB: $499

32 GB: $599

64 GB: $699

3G Models:

16 GB: $629

32 GB: $729

64 GB: $829

Where I think the iPad is going to be effective is in the Netbook Market, with the keybaord dock or a Bluetooth keyboard. The other major market it will be useful in is the ebook market, because although it costs more than the Kindle, it has a full color screen and has web access and all the features of an iPod. I think that this is not meant to be used as a computer but,  it can do the job of a netbook because they are main used for Office documents, which there is now iWork for iPad which is $10 per application and web surfing which it does well! I would have liked to see it running a touch version of full Mac OSX and i’m sure graphic artists would love it for Photoshop as well! But for reading, and surfing the web, at home on the couch, as Steve Jobs demonstrated during the keynote or for when you travel the iPad could be the device for you.

January 27th Apple Event Predictions

Wednesday is the big day! Apple is having their big press event at 10 AM Pacific time, 1 Pm Eastern and the rumors of the fabled tablet have been circulating for well over a year now! The event invitation said “See Our Latest Creation” and had paint splatters which, would indicate it to be a creative product announcement, but I think it will be more than a tablet release. I think they will be announcing several new products and save the tablet as the “One More thing”.  These are a list of what I think Apple will be announcing at their event on Wednesday.

1. iLife 2010

This is logical, since they are making this seem like a creative event, they should update their iLife Suite and hopefully add some more significant features, since the last version iLife ’09 added very few new features, it’s time for an real upgrade!

2. Macbooks/ Macbook Pros

I’m not expecting a major change, but just a bump in specs and maybe, the rumored Core i5 and Core i7 Macbook Pros, will hit the market!

3. iPhone Software update

Rumor has it, that Apple will unveil their new operating system for the iPhone and iPod touch, i’m not 100% sure that they will becasue they traditionally announce the new OS in March and launch new hardware either in June or July.

4. Tablet

I’m not going to say much about the tablet, because I have covered it with my two articles [article 1] [article 2]. The one thing I will say is that I don’t expect it to come out this week, I would expect it in a month or two, but definitely not right away

As I usually do with Apple events, I will write a wrap-up/ reaction article after the event which I will release either on Wednesday or Thursday to summarize what happened at this event. I think that this event will be a major, revolutionary event and Steve Jobs will compare it to other revolutionary products Apple has released in the past: Macintosh (1984), iMac (1998), iPod (2001), and iPhone (2007). I think this event will be one of the great ones!

Apple Tablet Thoughts: Part 2

I know I already wrote an article about what I think the Apple tablet will be, but after I wrote it more news came out and I thought of more things that I didn’t include in the first article and wanted to add them on now before it is too late.

First, I think it will look like the top/lid part of a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro meaning a metal enclosure and glass screen. I think it will run a modified version of Mac OSX for tablets but will work more like a regular Macbook. I think the name will be Macbook Tablet or something with Macbook in it because it will be more a notebook than a iPod Touch.  The only other thought I have about the tablet is that it will be a major announcement and will probably be the “One More Thing” of the keynote and will be accompanied by other new products as well, I will predict the other new products in a later blog post closer to the event.

Problems with Wireless Accessories

I know having cables all over your work area is a pain at times, but wireless is no  better. I had a Wireless keyboard and mouse for less than a month and then decided to return it because it was not reliable. First, if you don’t want to spend more that $50 on a wireless device, you will have to plug in a dongle so that you can use it, if you spend more than $50 you will be able to find a Bluetooth device so that you can use the Bluetooth that is built-in to most new computers. Plus, you need to make sure you computer and the device are in sync so that they can be used, and connections can be broken at random time making it a major nuisance. Another issue is that because there is no cable connecting it to a USB port, the device requires batteries to power it which is another annoying thing you need to worry about,  making sure your accessory’s batteries are fully charged and that is also not good for the environment.  The final major problem is that there seem to be more random problems than it’s wired counterpart and makes the cable clutter more worthwhile.

I especially don’t recommend using wireless for anything that need to be high quality like audio recording or any audio for that matter because wireless just has too many variables. I think that wireless technology needs to be better developed before it is ready to be used in daily life. I still prefer Bluetooth because it is more standard and because you don’t need any extra devices to be plugged into the computer. But, for now I am going to stay wired because it is still much more reliable and hassle-free.

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