January 30, 2005

This is a modern world

While I disagree with just about every single aspect of this country's Iraq policy over the last three years, it's impossible to not be touched by the site of Iraqi citizens voting in their first free election in 50 years. Dan Rather just said that they expect at least 60% of the population to have voted. Makes us look pretty sad.

Another major world event is upon us a week from today: the Super Bowl. It will not only be a great game full of (hopefully) great commercials, but will be a significant showcase for the progress of HDTV. Recent purchasers of HD sets will be hosting parties in an attempt to show off their newest toy and the future of television. Sadly, the general public will probably be disappointed. If FOX's playoff performance is any indicator, the game will look like shit with blurry shots, twinkling grass, and lines full of jaggies. FOX has had the lowest HD football quality, hands down. Short of a miracle, viewers will wonder why the fuss over HD. I'll be watching, you couldn't tear me away, but you can be sure i'll be grumbling through the entire game.

I've been doing a lot more recording lately and have a couple of songs that are close to getting online. I've been using a M-Audio MobilePre for about a year now, spurred to purchase by the release of GarageBand last January. Can you believe it's only been a year since Apple opened up home recording to the rest of us? It feels like ten. Anyway, I'm ready for an upgrade. I'm looking for a Firewire Analog->Digital interface with 24-bit resolution and either 96 or 192KHz. I'm also looking for a control surface to make mixing easier. Using the mouse is a pain in the ass sometimes -- ok, most of the time. The question is to get an interface with a control surface built in (Digi-002, Tascam 1884) or a separate interface and control surface.

I was originally leaning towards a combined solution. I'm a fan of simple, even though I'm a techie. I like things to just work. However, the combo units I found had issues themselves. The Digi002 only fully works with ProTools. I'd rather be able to choose the DAW app I want, so that's right out despite being a really nice unit. The Tascam 1884 is also a nice unit with a nicer price point but it has one serious limitaion: no digital scribble strip, meaning that you can't tell by looking at the surface what track is what. You have to look back at the computer to see that track 1 is lead guitar, track 2 is bass, etc. Maybe it's not that bad, but for $1k I want something that's present in other surfaces.

The benefit of separates is you can upgrade one or the other separately (duh) but the downside is more cabling and more complexity. Most standalone control surfaces (that have no a/d interface) communicate over MIDI, not Firewire. That means a MIDI/USB hub or an interface with MIDI built-in. I've been looking at the MOTU Traveler and the Mackie Control Universal. The latter is basically made for Logic, but works will everything. The Traveller also has one MIDI in/out jack which is carried over Firewire. Pretty slick, simplifies cabling a bit, and does take a USB port. What's the downside? These two together cost about 50% more than the Tascam 1884. Sigh.

Regarding the reason you're reading this blog, Camino is shaping up nicely. I continue to get glowing feedback on 0.8 and on the nightly builds that will become 0.9. We're still a few months away, but 0.9 is on the right track. The one major thing that's missing from the roadmap is autoFill support. We have to have it, it's our #1 requested feature, but I just can't seem to get started.

Posted by pinkerton at 6:09 PM

January 20, 2005

Semantic Web

Just when I start to think search and pattern matching technology is to the point of being useful, I get email like this from Amazon:

Greetings from Amazon.com Alerts. As you requested, we're notifying you of new releases matching the following criteria:
Popular Music with "The Who" in the Artist's or Band's name.

~ Man Who Loved Cat Dancing
Publication date: January 11, 2005
Publisher: Film Score Monthly
Binding: Audio CD
Price: $19.98

Um, no.....

And then there's this example of Microsoft's Maps and directions, finding the shortest drive between two points in Norway is actually through five different countries. Maybe they get kickbacks at border crossings?

Posted by pinkerton at 11:03 AM

January 11, 2005

GarageBand 2

I'm a little torn over what to do about the new GarageBand 2 in iLife '05. The main reasons for wanting to go to something more "pro" like Logic7 would be the ability to freeze tracks (to reduce cpu usage when things aren't changing) and to get simultaneous multi-track recording. Both are now in the new version of GB. I guess we'll have to see if the UI is still sluggish as hell or if they improved that too. I've been playing with Logic7 and it's really really nice, but it's missing a lot of the polish that GB has. It just doesn't look or feel as sexy. Just cuz I want pro functionality doesn't mean I want to forego gumdrop audio regions and sexy graphics.

I'm also curious how well the new MacMini will work for DAW software. I don't have a lot of room on my desk and it would be great for that. I just phear that it's underpowered or that the disk is too slow. But it's so small and cute, who wouldn't want one?!?!

Posted by pinkerton at 6:06 PM

January 7, 2005

Sad News

Just tonight I learned of actor Jerry Orbach's death late last month of prostate cancer. Orbach was the tough-nosed cop Lenny Briscoe on Law & Order, basically putting the show on the map in his long stint. He was scheduled to appear on the newest spin-off of L&O and will appear in a few episodes. I'm saddened, Orbach was an incredible actor who also did musicals on Broadway. We'll miss his talent.

Also mourning DirecTv's big fat middle-finger to TiVo, basically cutting all ties with the Alviso, California company (right next to Mountain View). TiVo has been going through hard times lately, trying to find the right niche, unable to grow their subscriptions for stand-alone units. I have no idea why. I've owned a TiVo since 1999 and have never looked back. It changed the way I, and a nation, watch TV.

If you can imagine how low morale was at Netscape while Microsoft was busy pummeling us into dust and then having AOL lay waste to any and all talent and turning our established brand into a bad joke, think of what the TiVo employees must be going through right now. I'm surprised they're not all collecting in the company cafeteria for ritualistic suicide.

In slightly happier news, I've been playing with Logic7 Express and my new Boss GT-6 and I'm as giddy as a bear on a hot tin roof. I may never leave the house again. Logic7 is so much more responsive than GarageBand, even though the CPU levels of complex compositions are similar. My GT-6 also sounds great put direct into Logic, rather than micing the amp, so that opens up a world of possibilities, allowing me to get a great Marshall, Fender, or MesaBoogie base tone and then add effects in software. I think my next purchase will be a control surface, so I don't have to mix and adjust levels with the mouse. Looking at the Mackie Control Universal, but it's a tad on the pricey side.

Posted by pinkerton at 8:45 PM