Holy Apple from Golan / Globus classic The Apple
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!”
There is a really interesting article in the Arts section of this morning's (Thursday, March 27) New York Times about newly uncovered research that challenges the belief that Thomas Edison was the father of recorded sound. This new research claims that even before Edison had recorded his first sounds a French man named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville recorded a ten second sound bite of a female vocalist singing a French folk song (Au Clair de la Lune) back in 1860. However, it was not recorded onto a record but rather on a "phonautograph" or "phonautogram" (as seen in photo left) which was in turn recently made playable - by converting the written images on the paper into sound - by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Library. If you click on the NYTimes story, not only can you read about this amazing discovery in detail, but they also have an MP3 sound file of this historic 10-second 1860 recording.
When you stop and think about it, it is truly amazing how far we have come in the advancement of music recording and playback in the short time span (relatively in the history of mankind) since Thomas Edison (pictured right) first invented the phonograph in 1877 and unveiled it a year later to an amazed public.
Ever since laptops became ubiquitous on the club & concert scene as a live music source for artists, especially DJs, in recent years the question continually arises: are they actually creating live music up there on stage or merely checking their e-mails as a pre-programmed music mix plays?
In some cases the "artist" may be just checking his/her emails or updating their Facebook account, but most real artists are utilizing their laptops' numerous programs in creative musical ways.
And in increasingly common cases there are multiple laptop musicians in action at the same time. The Bay Area quartet Cat Five (featured on Independent Sounds: Amoeba Music Compilation Vol III), formed by Balanceman and Darkat almost a decade ago, is an example of a laptop group. With their preference being Apple computers, all four construct freeform live compositions.
And taking it to the next level is the Worldscape Laptop Orchestra (pictured left) -- a fifty person laptop musician collective who put on an orchestrated, fully rehearsed all laptop performance a couple of months ago at Britain's University of York, led by composer Dr Ambrose Field who acted as the performance's conductor (just like in a traditional full orchestra). The group's goal, he said, is to help pave the way in music for "larger all-digital ensembles."
The Worldscape Laptop Orchestra's 50 performers each worked exclusively with Apple laptops (their sponsor) as their instrument with custom software that was produced to enable wireless communication with each computer sharing audio and control data. The full range of software functionality used in the performance included video detection where hand movements of performers were decoded by the MacBooks.
A couple of weeks ago in San Francisco at the big Apple computer "special event" titled The Beat Goes On -- to unveil all the new Apple iPod models -- the innovative company's mainman Steve Jobs gave Cali emcee P.E.A.C.E. of Freestyle Fellowship a major plug by featuring the artist on the giant screen at the Moscone Center during his September 5th keynote speech. As an example of a video-podcast, he played a short G4 segment featuring the Freestyle Fellowship emcee off a new Nano model.
Meantime, a couple of days ago I visited the Apple Store in Manhattan and even though it was near 11PM (the box-shaped Fifth Avenue store is open 24 hours), the place was packed to the rafters with salivating consumers in a long line desperate to part with their money in exchange for some shiny new iProduct. "This is nothing compared to earlier today," noted one iEmployee while eyeballing the line of about 40 customers all patiently queuing up for an average of twenty minutes to buy iPhones and iPods and other stuff.