Thursday, September 09, 2004
If you view the Flash Tour you will begin to wonder why Microsoft with its many many billions has not gotten Excel to do these things. The demo shows the creation of a spreadsheet that models data with 4 formulas that would require over 200 Excel formulas. Isn't it about time we computer users actually got a little Return on Investment ourselves in the form of great software? I'm just a bit miffed that Apple hasn't gone where Quantrix has. Innovative shell casings are nice but I know plenty of accountants who'd sign over portions of their paychecks to have a spreadsheet that is intuitive. Where are you Apple? As for Quantrix best of luck to you. Check them out below
Quantrix - Tools for Professional Financial Modeling: "Quantrix goes beyond spreadsheets
Some compelling reasons why you should consider Quantrix Modeler as your professional modeling tool of choice."
This Sony also stands out as the first HDV camera to have 3 CCD, which is very important for color fidelity, and native 16x9 support. The Canon XL2 can also be considered native 16x9 because it masks the CCD in a unique way that satisfies 4x3 and 16x9 sources.
The Sony HDV also has a 250k pixel LCD screen that is placed near the front of the camera in the line of sight from the color viewfinder. It should be nice for low and high shots. I'm pretty enthused about this camera. Apple has already stated they will support HDV(which is really just MPEG2) in a future Final Cut Pro natively. High Definition recording and 3CCDs is going to be huge for the prosumer. There should be a Pro model out probably next year some time with more Pro features like XLR audio and even more manual controls but right now the HDR-FX1 will be available Mid Oct and ready for use.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
I think the interesting points are these. The iMac is aimed squarely at consumer. Apple has always taken the risky proposition of appealing to consumers who are tired of bulky computers and the iMac G5 is further evolution towards that ideology. Will it be successful? I believe so, the $1299 entry model has a great quality 17" LCD display. I think that display size is mandatory the previous 15" LCD was too small for the price. I also think that the size will be irresistable for many. The iMac isn't overly flashy...it looks like a monitor sitting on your desk. Minimalist design to the maximum. Power, with a G5 1.8Ghz running on a 600Mhz Front Side Bus the iMac is going to take a leap forward in processing power. I have actually heard the words "slow" and "anemic" used to describe this processor and I'm amazed. We have yet to realize the full potential of the G5 CPU. A majority of code at there is still compiled to run best on the G4. I expect the G5s only to get faster as apps are recompiled to take advantage of the newer G5s.
Mounting options are new as well. The iMac supports VESA a standardized mounting technology. Now you will be able to use jointed arms to attach your iMac to your desk. Think of the iMac G4 kneck on steroids. In fact Apple sells the Ergotron right on the site. Other models like the Marathon Pixarm can hold more than the Ergotron's 18lbs limit. I don't think it's too hard to see the near future. Bluetooth will eventually get replaced with a faster wireless peripheral technology. The typical consumer computer will shrink to barely larger than the display and will be mounted on walls or articulating arms replete with wireless acessories. Total motion..total connection, total convenience. In fact Apple applied for a patent for a double jointed arm(thanks Mudbug). Could they be marketing their own articulated arm by MWSF?
All in all the iMac G5 looks to be a winner. I'm going to purchase the next revision after saving my hard earned dinero. Sure I'd love the graphics card to be faster but in gaming I'm a bit more interested in the nextgen consoles that computer gaming right now. The iMac looks to be a very nice blend.
Monday, August 23, 2004
For instance I recently became a little annoyed with the shortcomings of the nice Firefox Browser. I found it to be fast but a little rough around the edges. I'm now trying Opera which is available on many platforms. Opera and Omniweb are two commerical Browsers. Opera runs for free with banner ads. Omniweb is available for a limited trial.
Just what can these Browsers do that would make the wallets open and the cash register sing? Well my initial thoughts on Opera lead me to believe that this version 7.5 isn't worth the $29.95 asking price but by version 8 it may just reach that desirable goal. I've grown particularly fond of the stability of Opera. Compared to Firefox it just seems more fluid when switching tabs while another tab is loading as if each tab was threaded better. The Panel contains icons for Mail, Notes, Transfers, History, Links and others down the left side. These auto update depending on the site you have front facing. The "Links" icon is nice as it will give you a simple list of all the links on a given page. The Notes can be handy as well. You can highlight text on any webpage and right click(PC) and save automatically to a note or take text from any note and insert into the page. Not too groundbreaking but it could come in handy at times. The integrated Mail client doesn't suck and even offers easy RSS setup/subscription. I prefer its search facility from the Panel. In stead of just searching Google you are presented with a search form and then a collection of bars that will search various sites. Want to search Google and then Amazon and then 6 other sites? Just click the appropriate site icon bar and your search commences.
I haven't used Omniweb but I believe it could become my standard Browser on my next Mac purchase if they continue to add features. Omniweb's Workspaces feature looks very nice as well as Site Preferences and Saved Browser Sessions. Not too shabby. Although it's not to everyones liking but it would be interesting to see Omniweb perhaps offer an advanced UI option where it would seamlessles integrate with Addressbook, Mail and perhaps even iPhoto for saving web photos. I think the Browser is simply moving on to another phase and I look forward to seeing how the commerical Browsers compete against the free Browsers.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
I've recently read some reviews on Motion Apple's new motion graphics application for video. Normally a program written from the ground up can tend to be a little sparse in UI. We all know Apple's OSX is progressing nicely but I'm particularly impressed with what they've done with some of their recent new apps or upgrades.
DVD Studio Pro- Apple really has done a great UI job with this app. It's not only gorgeous but highly functional. They only complaints I've read are about sluggishness on some systems. Everyone from Pros to Novice are able to get up to speed with this application quickly. Great job.
Apple Remote Desktop 2.0- Nice clean use of brushed metal UI and Aqua. They've wrapped up a nice group of features and this app shows a lot of promise. Some initial bugs being reported but I'm sure they'll be fixed soon.
Motion- This apps UI is impressive. I read a very comprehensive review from Peter Wiggins from Creative Cow and I learned a lot. Motion is not a toy..it goes pretty deep once you start using the layering and timeline functions. Keyframing is always available when you need it. Most people seem to say that whatever they need just happens to be right there meaning the developers brainstormed a lot about what the users next step would be. Kudos Apple. By version 3 I predict Motion overtakes After Effects. Sorry Adobe but if you don't do a total overhaul of AE you won't stand a chance.
Logic 7- This is not a shipping product yet and all I have are 7 pics of the Beta to go off of but it seems like Logic 7 will be the next app to see a much improved UI. Apple Loops will be integrated very nicely and I'm sure there will be plenty of other touches that musicians love. I cannot wait for this product.
Apple is definitely on a roll. They have really done a good job on their Pro apps. Now I see the apps coming closer and integrating in very cool ways. This is one of the reasons why I so desperately want an Apple Office. I'm salivating about what Apple would bring to the table in this genre. Open Office and the like are nice MS Office clones but we don't want that do we? Don't we want to see Apple's take on the integrated suite? Imagine the graphics powers they could extend to creating fancy spreadsheets.
I'd love to see more software. I don’t' always agree with the people that hate seeing Apple create software. Every market that Apple devotes resources to creates a Halo Effect that increases opportunities for other developers. Final Cut Pro killed Adobe Premiere on the platform but Premiere never created a "Cottage Industry" devoted to it. Final Cut Pro has.
I'd love to see Apple apply their design talents on a nice simple 3D program aimed at video Pros. Like the Soundtrack of 3D or something. If they could utilize Motion's procedural behaviors within a 3D app for animation they'd be looking at a hit.
I love Apple software. I want more.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Apple should buy Tivo…NOW!
Tivo now has the “beleaguered” title and the death knells are coming fast and furious. I have always admired Tivo rabid fans. They remind me much of my fellow Mac users. I think this is one of the reasons why I believe Apple should acquire Tivo. Sounds crazy but in reality it is not. Apple is quickly becoming a player in Audio and Video Production. They have the #1 legal download service and portable player. Purchasing Tivo allows them to fast track into the hot DVR (Digital Video Recorder) market. Here’s how.
TivoTivo is a great system with the best User Interface hands down. They have a great name and 1.6 million rabid users. What’s the catch? They are small and the large cable operators are encroaching fast into their area. Tivo’s have weaknesses as well. They must sell their hardware at a loss to entice users. This means all of their profit comes from either selling a lifetime service to their guide data or paying a monthly fee of $12.95. This means that if you stop paying the monthly fee you have a useless paperweight. The lifetime service is the better deal but now that $299 Tivo is now $549
Apple to the rescue
How can Apple parlay an acquisition of Tivo into something profitable when Tivo is having problems profiting? By taking Tivo and building upon it. If Tivo wasn’t totally useless without the monthly or lifetime fees it wouldn’t have to sell at a loss to. This is the first thing Apple would fix. After the acquisition Apple would keep things similar for a year or so while they revamped the Tivo system. The UI would remain relatively the same but instead of using Linux to run the Tivo Apple would replace it with a new Quicktime capable of running Set Top Box (STB). This opens up a whole new world for Tivo. Now “any” file that plays in Quicktime now plays on the Tivo. Just that easy the Tivo now supports iLife. Songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store now play along with your Garageband tunes. iPhoto files are supported and of course even your own iMovie creations. PC files would work of course because of Quicktime. So now we have rid the Tivo of its most glaring weakness, obsolescence. But how would Apple handle the subscriptions? . Mac
. Mac is Apple’s answer to dealing with the guide data. Currently Apple charges Mac customers $99 a year to subscribe. This gets them a mac.com email address, web space and other sync features. Apple would create .Mac for Tivo. This would give them the guide data and even some website space and if they are Mac users they would get the Mac specific features available to that platform. This would be $120 year or the Lifetime amount of $250 would still apply with no web space.
FutureOk so now we know what Apple can do how will they make money? Well Apple will give Tivo the financial backing they need to withstand and persevere against the large cable operators rolling out substandard DVR for cheap. Apple would gain 1.6 million new .Mac users bringing the total to 2 million users. Apple now has inroads into broadcast recording. This is huge because now that the FCC has mandated that Cable Cards must be offered from the large cable operators the door has been opened for Tivo to get on more TV sets. Cable Cards are being built into TVs and STB so that an encrypted HDTV signal can be decoded “without” the need for the cable operators own STB. What do you lose by not going with the operators STB? Not much really: you lose some of the video on demand features but I think many of us know that Apple will have a say in that someday as well as Netflix and Blockbuster. Cable Cards will allow the next Tivo to access all your favorite paid channels and record them in glorious HDTV. No more crazy hookups either.
This deal would simply make too much sense. Apple has the infrastructure setup to parlay this into something big. iPods and Tivo capable multimedia STB from Apple could be a huge hit.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
This is very exciting to me because it means within 2 years we are likely to see DC systems available in consumer Macs like the iMac. High end systems will have 4 cores total running and believe me I know plenty of Final Cut Pro users or even Emagic Logic users who would welcome the extra two processors for processing CPU hungry plugins or encoding video.
What this could also mean is that the POWER5 derivative(the current 970 is a POWER4 derivative) might not hit until 2006. If we must wait that long I'm sure the wait would be worth it. It may even be fabricated on a smaller 65nm process.
The march in computing is moving on at the same quick pace. Rather than a fight to clock the CPU as high as possible we are simply scaling horizontally now adding more cores. I think this is smart since our modern operating systems allow us to multitask more efficiently. Thanks for reading.
I think Apple has the perfect chance to take a step forward and take advantage of the security advantage that OSX has. I think the next iLife component should be a mini version of Apple Remote Desktop . This would come along with the come along with the iLife Family Pack. Apple Remote Desktop is very cool because it allows you to monitor the screens on multiple networked computers. It allows software distribution as well. The iLife version would be of course scaled back to support 5 clients total and there would be hooks into "iTunes 5" that would allow the "Master" to control the iTunes display of "Explicit" content on iTMS. Parents would then utilize this feature to make sure that their children aren't listening to inapproprate songs. A log would be available as well to make sure unsavory websites were not being visited as well. As a parent myself of a child that is not of computer using age I can easily see where I will have to protect my child from making the mistake of accessing an adult site like whitehouse.com versus whitehouse.gov. Security from external virus and worms is no less important to parents as the security from adult content forcing its way into your computing life. Apple could make some significant usability strides here by making a security component to iLife.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Guide to Home Theater
The Motion Picture Association of America has issued a strident warning that "a growing global epidemic" of Internet movie piracy is harming the motion picture industry. Citing a survey of 3600 Internet users in 8 countries conducted by online research company OTX, the MPAA reported that one in four Internet users (24%) has downloaded a movie and that 17% of those who had done soreported
lowered attendance of theatrical films or purchases of licensed DVDs or videotapes.
These are rather obtuse numbers and fairly meaningless coming from a paltry 3600 users who bothered to fill out the survey. As for lowered movie attendance you have to find it odd that the MPAA regards movie going as some birthright bestowed upon them. Quite honestly I've stopped purchasing so many DVDs when I discovered Netflix was a better way. However the MPAA will soon find that theater going drops even more due to non-piracy related issues. Hollywood has come out with some real stinkers lately. How excited were you to go see Van Helsing after reading the glorious reviews. I'm a fan of Home Theater and I love to hang out at the AVS Forums and I can tell you that with confidence that today’s movie experience can easily be surpassed at home. With front projector systems and high quality DVD players rivaling the average movie theater, what incentive do these people have to hop in the car, find parking, wait in line and pay $40 a pound for popcorn have? To add insult to injury you are now a captive audience to be bombarded with Coca Cola advertisements followed by endless movie trailers.
The MPAA hasn't figured out the as the quality of equipment improves at home so does the experience. The expectations for theaters are much higher than before. We expect to see good movie content on large screens with a great picture and sound. What we get is Hollywood fluff like Troy and Van Helsing played back on sub par screens. Matinee prices are creeping past $6 a ticket killing the incentive to go see a movie that you are on the fence about.
as proof of downloading impact on the industry, the MPAA cited a 4% drop-off in ticket sales.
Again this is blaming the consumer for not wanting to put up with poor movies. This is taken right from the RIAA handbook. If ticket sales are so bad them pray tell why 10 out of the top twenty grossing domestic movies were released within the last 4 years? Movies goers are still going but the garbage Hollywood is shoveling is getting to be a bit too much. Expect to hear more whining from the MPAA about piracy and attempts to add new DRM features to DVD. Expect to see more brain dead Hollywood trash pushed your way. Until we stop supporting this dreck with our hard earned money our desires for quality will constantly be undermined. Thanks again.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
which offered 410k pixel resolution compared to the XL1s' 270k it's easy to see why the Canon lost. But looking at the same link prior you will see the XL2 offers a nice healthy 680k pixel resolution which it carves up to support 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios yet still keep a nice pixel count. A tradeoff but one that doesn't harm the quality harshly or hamper flexibility. Such a cam is far beyond my price range but it is nice to see some good prosumer stuff that is cheaper than a new car.
Back to HDV. HDV is a format developed by JVC (Japan Victor Company). It uses MPEG Transport Stream to record video at two bitrates. 19.4Mbps and a max( I believe) of 25Mbps. Incidentally the 19.4 stream is equal to what many broadcasters are using for ATSC High Definition broadcasts. Great! So why didn't Canon use it then? Well, that's anyone’s guess but it's likely that Canon didn't want to strand those using XL1s with a bunch of lenses and accessories that wouldn't work with a totally new design. Also DV is far easier to edit than the MPEG2 TS that HDV cams record in. The reason why is because the DV codec uses Intraframe compression. Each individual frame has compression applied within it. MPEG2 uses Interframe compression, which means the compression is applied over a sequence of frames and varies depending on content(i.e. movement etc). Intraframe compression allows the editing software to access individual frames for precise editing and application of effects. Intraframe codecs are generally used in editing. Interframe compression is primarily a delivery codec. It is more efficient in compression because it applies across a series of frames apply the most efficient compression to minimize size. The problem comes when you want to edit these types of codecs and your editing software has to approximate the frame you are looking for to start the edit.
I'm sure I have the basics down here but I'm open to any new knowledge on this subject. I'm excited for what HDV will do for high quality video capture. I'm just a little miffed that I can't have my cake and eat it too when it comes to efficient editing of this high rez HDV footage.
Canon has stated the XL2 will be their last high end Standard Def cam. So I expect that they will have an HDV model no later than NAB 2005( April 2005). Until then I'll be keen on seeing the battle between the Panny and the Canon in reviews. Thanks for reading.
This is very similar to the speed boost computer gaming received when games were able to utililize the newest graphics card that contained Transform & Lighting on the card itself rather than burden the CPU with this task. Games instantly became faster and quality improved greatly. Look for Core Image and Video to do the same. I've seen Apple's new Motion apps aimed at adding motion graphics to video. It's an amazing app. Rather than make adjustments and view the effect in a small preview window, in Motion your application window "is" the preview window and you simply work in real time or close to it as you build your project. Productivity should skyrocket anytime you can do complex or creative tasks in real time. I predict in 2 years the shift to real time processing will be so swift and complete that we all will quickly forget the "old days" when even iMovie had to render transitions. That's a good thing.
Spotlight is another great technology that on the surface looks rather pedestrian.Some Mac users today don't understand what's so special about Spotlight when we've been indexing in Mac OS for years. Rather than give you a diatribe I'll point you to the excellent John Gruber article that explains the wonder that is Spotlight. Searching is a learned behavior, I frequently have heard people say they wouldn't use Spotlight. This is because people have been told for years that searching was going to improve and quite frankly is has not. The Internet makes robust search tools paramount today. I'm not talking about Google but rather the ability to download insane amounts of data to your hard drive. 5 years ago broadband didn't have the penetration it does today. Places like Korea and Japan have insane broadband penetration and speeds( up to 20Mbps dl). Clearly the robustness of local search tools is important as hard drives store more data. Lacie just announced a 1.6 Terabyte Big Disk Extreme yes someone will fill this drive up and woe to he/she who has poor organizational skills. Spotlight and its metadata search methods coupled with google's popularity will change the way the average person retrieves information from their computer. This is much welcomed.
Longhorn- As a Mac fan I'm supposed to hate Microsoft even though their campus is literally 20 minutes from my front door. To be honest I have two homebuilt PCs and two older Macs. Windows XP is quite honestly not a bad OS. It's rather bland in many areas but it is far more stable than the junk we called Win98 and more flexible than Win 2000 (IMO of course. I run both). I have never been overly impressed with any Windows OS but that might change. Although they are only "concept" video I am impressed with the scope of Longhorn. Watching these Longhorn Videos was an eye opener. Microsoft's strategy seems to be clearer today than the first initial hype of .net. Their "4 Pillars" foundation of Longhorn seems to be well thought out and extensible as well as technically impressive in many areas (WinFS, Indigo). Where Apple has flexed its muscles in graphics in Tiger, Microsoft seems to be flexing their muscles within the context of business tools and workflow. Both OS seem to be moving away from a developer paradigm where every app was beholden mainly to itself, to a new model where apps share data and link seamlessly between each other guided by the OS framework. This ideology should really positively impact how consumers utilize the OS. While as a developer it should allow applications to focus more on their own respective specialties rather than duplicate core functionality that now reside in the OS.
Admittedly I'm just taking my first new "baby steps" in learning development and OS architecture. I'm sure I'll know far more in 2 years but for now I'm extremely positive about the direction of computing in general. Thanks for reading. HM
I believe they must make the iMac a two-piece system. Consumers are a bit more computer savvy now making the benefits of an All-in-one computer a bit superfluous today. What I propose is that Apple creates a base that is distinctly not a minitower and then connects a standard DVI 17" widescreen LCD display. The DVI connection would be behind a shroud so that it looks like an integral part of the iMac3 base but a few screws would allow easy access to the actual connector. Apple would utilize a similar connector that is used on the new DVI Cinema Displays. What are the advantages of such a setup? Well it calms the fears of the buying public that a failure of the monitor or CPU means a destruction of the whole computer. It allows for future upgrade possibilities. And for Apple it allows them to reap the financial rewards of revenue generated by a monitor sale, which they crave. Yes people would ask Apple to ship a "headless" version but Apple would not do that because they realize that headless requests are made by those people who either have a current monitor they wish to use or wish to shop around for the cheapest price on a 3rd party monitor. Apple creating a two-piece system can therefore meet users halfway. If a person purchases a iMac3 but does not wish to utilize the monitor all is not lost because that monitor supports the industry standard DVI connector and thus can be sold to almost anyone with a DVI connector on his or her computer. Considering Apples design smarts and cachet, I wouldn't be surprised if you could fetch quite a nice price on eBay for these monitors if push came to shove.
Next pricing. Forget a $999 iMac. The eMac is solid at that price point and it would make no sense for Apple to create that competition. Therefore I think we'll see something akin to this:
PowerPC G5 1.6Ghz
17" Widescreen LCD with built in speakers.
256MB RAM/120GB HD
AGP 8X upgradeable graphics(Base 128MB)
Digital I/O, 10/100/1000
8X DVD-R burner
PowerPC G5 1.4Ghz
15" LCD with built in speakers
256MB RAM/ 80GB HD
AGP 8x upgradeable graphic(Base 64MB)
Digital I/O, 10/100/1000
8X DVD Burner
Again a two piece design so that you have flexibility in placement or you can swap out the LCD someday. Nice coverage between eMac at $799 and $999 segueing to iMac3 15" at $1299 and 17" at $1599. Now these systems would get peoples attention.