This year's Macworld Expo, every Mac-head’s favorite trade show, was unfortunately a bit of a downer. Steve Jobs was too sick to give his traditional keynote address. There were no really groundbreaking products to announce (iLife 09-yawn), and an overall tone of austerity.
Most of the exhibitors were not giving away any free stuff, and the ones that did have free stuff seemed kind of cheap. There were a few cool booths at the show. Probably the The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus was the most impressive. A fully loaded Greyhound type bus with digital audio and video studios built into it. They visit about 200 high schools a year and teach kids how to produce a CD or DVD. Check out their website.
I saw a huge amount of iPhone and iPod related stuff: little jackets and wallets for the gadgets, speakers to amplify the tiny amount of sound coming from these devices. There are about 10,000 “apps” for the iPhone and iPod Touch now; an amazing selection of software. One of them turns your iPod into a whoopy cushion. Yipee! Truphone (marketed as "a free application that lets you make international mobile calls from your own phone over the internet at incredibly low rates") has a free app that turns your iPod Touch into a VoIP phone when you’re near a wi-fi network.
Myvu has little video eyeglasses that display the video from your iPod -- probably not a good idea to use these when you’re walking or driving around. A company called Solio makes compact solar power devices that can charge up your unit on the go. The one company doing something really different for Mac users was Axiotron. They turn your Macbook into a tablet computer with a touch screen. Of course, it’s very expensive. The Macbook is about $1400 and then another $1400 to convert it into a “modbook.” Ouch! One piece of software I have loaded onto my Mac is Wiretap Anywhere. Basically it takes the audio from any source coming into your computer and makes it available to your audio recording software. Grab the audio off YouTube or MySpace or some internet radio station...whatever! Supposedly, PC users have had this capability for a while, but now it’s here for us Mac users.
So, all in all, it was a day well spent at Macworld. Supposedly, Apple, Inc. will not participate in the Expo anymore. That seems kind of sad. Hopefully, it’s just a ploy for them to control the event more to their liking. In any case, there are more Mac users every day, as people get tired of Microsoft and their lame products, so to those of you who just bought your first Mac, I say, “Welcome!”
Dead at 69.
Two hundred years ago today, the greatest of early American writers was born in Boston, Massachusetts: Edgar Allan Poe. The master of the macabre, horror and one of the earliest practitioners of the short story is also considered by many to be the originator of the detective/crime fiction genre. In celebration I originally thought I’d blather on as if possessed by some dark unfathomable tide, revel in the sound that takes the form of a demon. But I convinced myself that I shall not seek to convince. Am I here to exorcise my own demons beyond some memory of my past bliss; deceits, they lie in the anguish of today. Would such blather hasten some clever paranormal patter? Alas, for you Poe, I recollect one vanquished thought, “Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.” I won’t diddle. No one needs to read my diddle. Instead here are some of Edgar Allan Poe's greatest quotes:
“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
“Stupidity is a talent for misconception.”
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
“Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.”
“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”
“The true genius shudders at incompleteness -- and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.”
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.”
“I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity.”
“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream”
“Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.”
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
“I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect -- in terror.”
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”
Today at Amoeba we heard The Replacements' Let It Be over the store’s stereo. To most alt rock types, this album is considered a timeless classic. Released back in 1984, it is a mix of adolescent angst and Paul Westerberg's foray into mature songwriting. And…much like most 80’s albums, it also painfully dated. As the album played I thought to myself, “Would any kid born in the nineties understand why people liked Let It Be so much?” Perhaps if they listened to the lyrics to “Sixteen Blue,” “You’re My Favorite Thing,” “I Will Dare,” and “Unsatisfied,” they would. Those songs speak to that inner adolescent that is still in us or yet to be.
Still, I had to laugh at some of the other songs. Not because they are terrible songs, but because they all dealt with subjects that post-nineties children wouldn’t understand. For instance, in the song “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out,” teenage drummer Tommy Stinton gets a tonsillectomy by an impatient doctor. According to Wikipedia, the number of tonsillectomies in the United States has “dropped significantly from several million in the 1970s to approximately 600,000 in the late 1990s.” The chances of anyone born in the United States after 1990 getting a tonsillectomy in their lifetime are minimal. Maybe the title “Tommy Has Tonsillitis And Gets a Prescription For Antibiotics” would work better in 2009.
How about the song, “Seen Your Video?" It was the Anti-MTV anthem of the eighties at a time when your main chance of having a career in music depended on whether MTV playing your video. Now, most bands don’t even make a video and MTV rarely plays them. Now there is YouTube. Your music video viewing is no longer dictated by MTV when you can put your favorite artist name YouTube's search engine and magically their videos pop up…that is, if they chose to even make one.
Finally, there is the angst ridden “Answering Machine.” From the first line, “Try to breathe some life into a letter,” it sounds dated. Really, when was the last time you wrote a letter? I’m not talking about an e-mail, I’m talking about an actual letter. On top of that, how many people still have an answering machine? I have voice mail on my cell that cuts you off after a certain time if you babble on and besides that, no one ever leaves a message. If I miss a call, I get a text message a minute later that reads “call me.” We are even too lazy to leave a voice mail. Then there's text messages -- how many regrettable texts of love have been sent? Far more than songs written about, “How do I say I love you to an answering machine?”