Signing Off.

December 7th, 2011

Town Crier Icon

Close to 70 posts, close to 4 years… 100-200 page views a week… this little show site has served well over the last few years. Looking at the design of it always makes me nostalgic as it reminds me how little I knew about WordPress back then… but alas, tonight will mark the last Website Wednesday Night on WGN and thus, this site no longer has a master to serve, at least here in the near term… so for the time being, it’s going on hiatus. It will remain online for nostalgic and informational purposes with the hope that the occasion might arise in the not too distant future to dust away the cobwebs and crank it back up again.

That said, I very much appreciate and value all the online friendships and connections I’ve made along the way as a result of being a part of Life After Dark and have nothing but gratitude to Steve and Johnnie for enabling that. I’d love very much to continue those friendships so I’d like to invite every last one of you over to my primary weblog where I’ll continue to post pretty regularly.

You can find theScroll here > http://optiflux.com/scroll

In fact, I’ve just posted a nice reminiscence of my time with Steve & Johnnie along with how I came to be on the show in the first place… I’d love very much for anyone to comment on that post with their own stories on how they came to be part of the Life After Dark experience. You can find that post here.

And if you’d like to tap into a more real-time feed of stuff that may be going down… don’t hesitate to LIKE my Optiflux Facebook page… I brought it online today specifically for this purpose.

Again, thanks so much for your readership and support over these past 4 years… its been great fun and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Happy trails.

Santa’s Little Helper 2011

December 1st, 2011

Mentioned on the air

Here we are once again in the wonderful Christmas season where love and good cheer reign supreme… or maybe not so much as the news reports of violence and other mischief roll across the wire from early Black Friday sales… so as I make this years gift recommendations, remember that everything here can be commandeered online… perhaps not the safest place in the world, but safer indeed than your local Walmart. As always, we have one suggestion for those of you with a little more to spend… a second recommendation keeping things more middle-of-the-road… and then bringing up the rear are some stocking stuffers in the under $30 range.

Yamaha CP33 88-key Stage Piano ($1,000) • This year for the most expensive spot on my list I’m going considerably cheaper than the 10k Mac Pro tower I featured last year… but with good reason as this keyboard was one I’ve gotten to know over the last 9 months. Obviously a gift limited to those amongst us with musical tendencies, but if someone on your list fits this bill, this is one amazing instrument that can be used by professional stage performers all the way down to parents looking for a good alternative to the higher priced acoustic pianos for teaching their children how to play the piano. Having been the purchaser of literally dozens of keyboards over the last 3 decades, it boggles the mind what kind of quality you can get these days at such an affordable price… and yes, even though a thousand dollars may feel like a lot, you more than get your moneys worth with the CP33.

Yamaha CP33

The feature to note right off the top would be that this is an 88-key ‘graded hammer effect keyboard with authentic resistance’. In other words, this is as close as you can come to the feel of a real piano in an electronic instrument. I’ve really beaten the heck out of mine over the last three quarters of a year and it’s holding up just fine. If you find yourself with some interest here… check out the following video featuring Yamaha’s Tony Escueta demonstrating the sounds and features of the keyboard… and if you think you might want to hook this board up to a computer and get into some digital recording, continue reading below the video and I’ll show you what else you need…

MOTU Audio Express ($395) • So where I went a lot cheaper on my big ticket item this year, I’m going a little more expensive on my middle-of-the-road suggestion because that’s what I feel is necessary for this particular piece of technology as I stick with the musical theme. You’ve got the computer, you’ve got the keyboard controller, now you need a way for the two to talk to each other, this is where the audio interface comes in… now as far as audio interfaces go, you can find much cheaper than the Audio Express… in fact for the most basic of interfaces you could go as low as $70 or so… but the durability, versatility and reputation of the Audio Express makes it worth the extra money, particularly if you consider the recipient more than your basic tinkerer. I’ve owned and used the cheaper models and I now swear by the Audio Express which has been steadily working in my studio for over two years now meeting all my varying needs and desires for audio input/output along the way.

MOTU Audio Express

I use a CP33 along with an Audio Express to interface with a Mac running Logic Studio Pro, which is a software app that’s basically just a super-souped up version of Garageband which comes for free on all new Macs, in fact I’m guessing that many of you have messed around with it at some point… well now imagine you were controlling all those ‘virtual instruments’ within Garageband from the external keyboard… that’s the versatility and functionality this combined $1400 set-up would bring to the computer-owning musician on your Christmas list.

Stocking Stuffers Under $30

Lynda.com

1 month of Lynda.com ($25)  As their webpage states, “Give the gift of knowledge”… and knowledge is exactly what’s delivered at Lynda.com… What is it? Lynda.com is an online archive of technology training videos geared towards those looking towards teaching themselves software applications and techniques. Lessons are presented in pretty much the same format you’d expect from a book. There’s an overview and a table of contents for every title as the user consumes the content either as one continuous movie or as dozens of smaller more focused ‘chapter’ videos… as the website allows you to bookmark your progress through any given lesson, I’d guess that most users split the learning process over several days watching the smaller movies in sequence. Also noteworthy is that most every lesson comes with downloadable exercise files so that you can follow along at home using the same files as in the video.

For the person in your life passionate about making things with computers, you can’t go wrong with this gift… plus, if your recipient had never heard of Lynda.com, you’ll get the credit for turning them on to it for the rest of time… Courses in 3D, animation, audio, business, design, developer, home computing, photography, video, web and interactive software packages represented… and even some Garageband training sessions to keep the theme rolling here… five of ‘em in fact… so have it.

The Great Escape Artist

Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist ($12) > Only their 4th album in 23 years, its been an 8 year wait for the Great Escape Artist… and although there’s a couple misses, by and large this is a sometimes textural, sometimes all out rocking album that may not be a repeat of the bands seminal works of the late 80′s, but instead a representation of where they are today as both individuals and as a band. The album begins with ‘Underground’, a brilliant choice to start the album as it rises from harmony over dissonance and quickly finds a groove… breaks loose at the two-thirds mark into a tribal beat that then gives ways to a volcanic Navarro solo just to let you know he’s still in the house. Other exceptional tracks include the tribal, harmonic ‘Irresistible Force’, the departure from the typical Jane’s sound that is ‘Twisted Tales’ and the step back into the classic Jane’s sound embodied by the albums closing track ‘Words Right Out of My Mouth’.

I’ll conclude this year with a sampling of ‘End to the Lies’, 1 of 3 songs you’d consider radio singles from the Great Escape Artist… be forewarned before clicking play that this is an R-Rated video to be sure… I usually save the racier content for theScroll but as this is such a great piece of film-making, I thought I’d make an exception ;-)

A Merry Christmas to all and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Daily Links for November

November 3rd, 2011

monthly links

  • (11.30) From David Foster Wallace, an author that we lost way, way too soon… an interesting look into the syllabus and how his could help you live your daily life.
  • (11.29) Is the Blackberry finished? The end seems near.
  • (11.28) This link speaks volumes about the ultimately spellbinding environment Apple has created with the iOS/xCode ecosystem. This a story about Mike Swanson, who just last month ended his 12-year tenure at Microsoft to become a full-time App writer.
  • (11.27) So much discussion revolving around Apple’s sales figures for iPhone’s, iPad’s, iMac’s, etcetera… often lost in the mix is how the Apple Retail Stores have contributed to these sales accomplishments. Now at 358 stores and counting worldwide, read here about yet another innovation Apple has pressed into service to make the shopping experience that much slicker.
  • (11.26) An interesting short interview with Craig Mundie from Microsoft regarding alternative interfaces as it pertains to Kinect. Also some sour grapes over the iPhone and SIRI.
  • (11.25) It has been rumored that Steve Jobs desired for Apple to own and maintain its own cellular network. This post to Wired’s Epicenter generally illustrates why…
  • (11.24) Apple will beat you in the marketplace and they’ll beat you in court… your choice.
  • (11.23) A few days ago I linked to STAMPED, a new app that came out earlier this week. I got started with the app myself by stamping a few things… this article though gives me reason to pause.
  • (11.22) Surprised this took an entire week to rear its pretty face… Ah, Flash… we used to love you, but now we don’t it seems… why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier.
  • (11.21) ”Flash still has a significant presence on the Internet, but it’s arguably a legacy technology that will decline in relevance as mobile experiences become increasingly important” HTML 5 video in the post-Flash world.
  • (11.20) Out tomorrow, a new social app called STAMPED that allows you to share your ‘stamp of approval’ with your friends and followers… not a 2 or 3-star rating or any other level of ranking.. which is good… just the single 5-star stamp on the things you like best amongst books, movies, music, apps, websites, etcetera… who knows, might catch on…
  • (11.19) It’s a rough ride with a ton of legal bills when you’re trying to defend yourself against an entire industry trying night and day to copy your ideas…
  • (11.18) Inventor or Tweaker? An interesting viewpoint on the Jobs autobiography.
  • (11.17) iOS vs. Android… the war, the speculation, the debate goes on and on… but here’s the real deal… and what it says is that if volume is what you’re interested in, Android sells the most… but if it’s profit that reigns supreme, then no one is close to Apple and iOS. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a product line comparison between Apple and Samsung that’s truly stunning.
  • (11.16) It’s looking like the engineers over at Apple have finally gotten that battery-life issue licked. Rumor has it that another iOS update is on its way next week…
  • (11.15) An eye-opening interview of Jeff Bezos of Amazon by Steven Levy for Wired.
  • (11.14) Reading Pogue’s review here… makes you think twice if you were planning on picking up a Kindle Fire.
  • (11.13) Not really tech-based… more science and nature… but I just found this little blurb on the Lysmata amboinensis amazing.
  • (11.12) The 6 pillars of Steve Jobs design philosophy. Makes me think of all the times I’ve actively appreciated an Apple-based design detail.
  • (11.11) A 64-member design team tasked with interface and UI changes that will affect hundreds of millions of users… An interesting look behind the curtain of Facebook design.
  • (11.10) The Macalope takes aim at the pundits… if you’re eWeek… better duck.
  • (11.09) With news yesterday that Adobe would be laying off another 700+ workers, I wondered what this meant for their quest to bring a stable Flash Player to mobile devices? Not that I care being an iPhone user… But Jobs had said HTML5 was the path all the way back in ’07… Adobe continued to reject that notion, but now here at the tail-end of ’11 it looks like Adobe is throwing in the towel… there will never be a functional Mobile Flash… Also in this article for the Gadget Lab, Mike Isaac lays out the cliff notes for the uninitiated.
  • (11.08) Everybody needs to remember that SIRI is still in BETA, although articles like this give Apple engineers something to chew on in their down-time.
  • (11.07) A sneak peak into the 3D filming of Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’… which unfortunately is not going to hit the big screen until December of 2012.
  • (11.06) Browser Wars 2011. Firefox and Internet Explorer in decline… Safari peaking… and Chrome on the rise. Long live WebKit.
  • (11.05) For all those predicting that the Kindle Fire will be an iPad killer, they’re looking past the ever-growing ‘fragmentation’ plaguing the Android market… a recent survey shows that over half of the Android devices released since ’07 stopped receiving OS updates from Google less than one year after their release… well short of the 2-year binding terms of most mobile contracts.
  • (11.04) Reading this article will give you a lot better sense of what “sandboxing” actually means to the end-user… more secure, sure… but what’s the trade-off? Many long-time Mac Software titles like BBEdit and Transmit FTP would have core-functionality gutted if heeded to the letter of the law… but Apple says ALL Apps must be compliant by March 1, 2012 or they’re out of the App Store… too bad.
  • (11.03) Being a huge patron of my local library, I was pretty excited to hear that Amazon would start offering Kindle books for check-out… but once the details were revealed… not so much.
  • (11.02) An even scarier evaluation from Marco Arment that predicts the extinction of the Mac Pro Desktop Towers by 2014.
  • (11.01) For our readers that are also Twitter lovers… a cool new page on the Twitter site that shows how folks are using the social network.

Daily Links for October

October 13th, 2011

monthly links

  • (10.31) Shit.. this is what I’ve been afraid of for a while now..
  • (10.30) Mona Simpson’s eulogy for her brother Steve..
  • (10.29) Turns out that it is possible to port SIRI to an iPhone 4 as well as a 4th-Generation iPod Touch… Has to be jailbroken though unfortunately.
  • (10.28) For those of us who have kept a close eye on the relationship between Apple and Google the last couple years… I’ve wondered a few times how tenuous the situation was in that Google Maps are such an integral part of iOS… from the sounds of this story, it might not be long before Apple has its own in-house version of the mapping software… and chances are, it will be tied to SIRI and completely kick Google’s ass.
  • (10.27) As a public service to all of you DirecTV subscribers out there, many FOX channels will be disappearing for you on 11/01 including FX, the National Geographic Channel and many FOX Sports Networks… here’s a link that will give you the complete 411 as well as a means to show DirecTV some of your disgust… I know I did…
  • (10.26) How sweet of a change of pace is this… it appears Apple is in the planning stages to build a 171 acre solar energy farm adjacent to its new billion dollar iCloud data center in North Carolina.
  • (10.25) Marco Ament’s ‘in-depth’ review of the iPhone 4S.
  • (10.24) Apple posts the video from their special event celebrating the life and times of Steve Jobs, can’t imagine any Apple fans who would want to miss this… Also, Walter Issacson’s anticipated biography hits the streets today as well… doubting any of you actually visit a bookstore anymore… here’s the Amazon link.
  • (10.23) Ten years ago today… MacWorld’s review of the original iPod… my how the time flies.
  • (10.22) Pondering what Steve Jobs was working on at the end… the smart money makes a lot of sense…
  • (10.21) Like I’ve said 8 million times… they’re thieves I tell you… have an original idea parasites… Steve knew
  • (10.20) Decades old Calvin & Hobbes panel deftly explains the Occupy Wall Street movement.
  • (10.19) Yeah, whatever… you’re still a tool.
  • (10.18) A great read on the inside story of Dropbox.
  • (10.17) Although Apple missed their revenue forecast last quarter for the first time since 2002… Sweet Jesus, look at what they predict for this coming quarter.
  • (10.16) I’ve been saying for a while… and now the (sometimes painful) transition from MobileMe to iCloud has bore this out… Apple needs to come up with a way for those of us that have been around for a while and have multiple Apple ID’s… to merge them to a single, consolidated Apple ID… just a glimpse into some of the problems folks are having.
  • (10.15) With all the updates and new releases from Apple last week, the incremental update of OS X Lion to 10.7.2 went relatively unnoticed. Although in large part this update just served to connect the desktop to iCloud, other maladies were corrected… here’s an overview.
  • (10.14) Woz claims a little fear for the future of Apple.
  • (10.13) For all of you with fresh new updates to iOS 5… Here’s a definitive review of all the new functionality toiled over by Dan Moren for Macworld…. and another decent walk-through from Rene Ritchie…
  • (10.12) Whoa… I had only minor issues in upgrading an iPhone and an iPad to the new iOS 5 (so far at least… there might be some hidden buggaboo’s that I haven’t discovered yet)… but evidently that wasn’t the case for all… how many people do you think were hitting Apple servers at the same time? 10 million? 20 million? Anyhow, here’s a list of the things that were going wrong for folks…
  • (10.11) When you’re reading this article, keep in mind that Apple just sold a million iPhone 4s’ and SOLD OUT a pre-sale… someone should ask Mr. Lees how the pre-sale orders are looking for Windows 7 phones running Mango? The key I guess is to deliver the lines with a straight face.
  • (10.10) Steve Jobs entrance into heaven facilitated on an iPad… and the story behind the ‘iconic’ Apple logo remix that would certainly be considered viral at this point…
  • (10.09) A quick thought just now to visit Pixar’s website just caused me to feel the sense of loss all over again..
  • (10.08) A great piece of reflection as MG Siegler comments on the death of Steve Jobs for Tech Crunch. Included is a link to the original ‘Think Different’ ad with Jobs himself narrating… and as Siegler so aptly notes, he probably didn’t even consider the fact that he was describing himself.
  • (10.07) Leave it to the Onion
  • (10.06) An awesome Jobs video retrospective over at Devour…
  • (10.05) Steve Jobs passes… so sad indeed… Getting nostalgic on theScroll.
  • (10.04) A nice summarization of what Apple announced today at their launch event.
  • (10.03) As a professional designer in 2011 there are two companies in Apple and Adobe that you can’t live without. From there come hundreds of much smaller companies that make niche tools also necessary as means to an end. Typekit is one such company that does one thing well… which is to allow designers on the web to reference and use commercial fonts in their web designs. Typekit has now been acquired by Adobe. As all staff will remain the same and the company will continue to operate autonomously… here’s hoping nobody tries to fix something that isn’t broken.
  • (10.02) If I was President, I used to think the coolest parts would be having the nuclear launch codes, flying everywhere on Air Force 1 and meeting the championship teams from every sport for at least 4 years… but after reading this, I’d have to add having a pre-release iPad hand delivered to me by Steve Jobs.
  • (10.01) Nice try Psystar. I guess now you’ll have to actually come up with an original idea yourselves.

Remembering Steve Jobs

October 10th, 2011

Wired’s Gadget Lab goes around the office to get the Apple/Steve Jobs stories… sort of fun if you’re a regular reader of Wired…

Daily Links for September

September 1st, 2011

monthly links

  • (09.30) So September is gonna go out with a bang… With Amazon’s announcement of the Kindle Fire yesterday, it would appear that things are a changin’ over the mobile/tablet/smartphone landscape… this article by Michael Mace seems to make a lot of sense at this point in the game… and John Gruber, as always, knows what he’s talking about.
  • (09.29)I bought this game for my grandson, he loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!! This game has no directions… we can’t figure out how to play, or even how to restart the game. There aren’t any turtles in the game. A total waste of $5.” Reading user reviews is perhaps one of my favorite past times.
  • (09.28) How a web design goes straight to hell… I’d laugh hard if this didn’t hit so close to home.
  • (09.27) The official Facebook app for the iPad has been complete since May but has yet to hit the streets… the developer has quit and taken a job over at Google. Find out the potential reasons why right here.
  • (09.26) A great article on what’s really behind all the changes at Netflix. It’s not really looking like there fault as it turns out… it’s all about the content dont’cha know… some profane commentary from the Angry Drunk…
  • (09.25) Glad I signed up for that Spotify account before this happened… wondering how long it will be before they fix something that’s not broken enough times to jump the shark like so many great ideas before them?
  • (09.24) If you’re as big a fan of technological mockery as I am… this week’s Macalope is not to be missed. Fun at the expense of Microsoft, eWeek and Hewlett-Packard… do you really think the HP Board of Directors may be drunk when picking out their CEO’s?
  • (09.23) Par for the course… as they continue to deny Apple’s accusations of copyright infringement… check out this new Samsung store that just opened in Italy’s Centro Sicilia… somebody’s heads gonna roll.
  • (09.22) High Design. A review of Apple’s new Thunderbolt Display.
  • (09.21) On the 19th I posted a link to the statement from the Neflix CEO Reed Hastings regarding changes that were going down at the company. The aspect that wasn’t sitting right with me was the ham-fisted renaming of the DVD-only side to Qwikster. Here’s a tight piece of editing from Matt Drance that makes you wonder if Netflix even has a proofreader on staff.
  • (09.20) Here’s what happened, in cartoon form.
  • (09.19) Mea Culpa… although it appears that what prompted this apology is the imminent loss of an estimated 2 million subscribers… Gets you wondering what the net effect will end up being on the Netflix price increase… Seems they could end up losing as much revenue in lost subscribers as they’ll gain with the price increase… obviously they’re looking long-term at this point. Also announced is that the DVD-only side of the business will now be re-branded under the “Qwikster” name. This means that there will now be two websites to deal with which will also no doubt upset many… as the fallout continues.
  • (09.15) Wow. There’s a price increase that really hurts. Somehow it seems like an extreme lack of planning that Netflix wouldn’t have seen this coming in enough time to be able to slowly raise their prices over time… as it turns out, it looks like they’ll be losing a significant portion of their subscribers.
  • (09.14) John Sculley’s bungling ways are really what made Apple the behemoth it is today… that’s gotta hurt a little.
  • (09.13) Remember when Toyota was a company made up of apparently decent people? Well that ship has sailed… you gotta read this, I’m tellin’ you.
  • (09.12) Don’t be evil.
  • (09.11) An off-the-beaten-path story from this fateful day back in 2001. Very humbling how many different perspectives ripple out from this single catastrophic event.
  • (09.10) Wanna know what the Apple Board of Directors thinks of Tim Cook? Look no further than the 1 million shares of “restricted” Apple stock he was just given as compensation vesting in 5 and 10 years… my guess is that over the long haul that will amount to about 35 million per year… pretty sweet… you can bet that his seat at the helm of arguably the world’s most successful corporation has a lot more to do with skill then luck… maximizing economies of scale at a surgical level, that’s what makes Tim Cook the best and it’s why Apple will continue to thrive… the reason the world’s PC makers remain flustered is that they can copy Apple’s designs, but they can’t copy the efficiencies in Apple’s supply and production chain… sorry guys, you’re gonna have to have yourselves a couple geniuses and about 10 years for that to evolve organically…  an interesting analysis in Macalope, always worth a read…
  • (09.09) The rumor mills abuzz… My iPhone 4 is admittedly terrible for dropping calls. I’ve never been sure whether this is caused by the iPhone or the AT&T network… but either way, the iPhone 5 on the Sprint network with unlimited data is looking mighty tasty.
  • (09.08) Carol Bartz feels that Yahoo ‘fu*ked her over’ and she’s talking about it… to Fortune Magazine… and guess what? The interview cost her about 10 million dollars as she violated her non-disparagement agreement… one classy (potty-mouthed) woman… I love people who just say it like it is.
  • (09.07) Remember when Yahoo were the kings of tech? Now their share price is hanging around $13 and 75% of that value is their 40% stake in Chinese tech group Alibaba… right, I’ve never heard of them either… that’s why, today’s Google is tomorrow’s Yahoo… you heard it here first.
  • (09.06) Designed. All the way down to the sidewalk.
  • (09.05) ”Steve Jobs and the Eureka Myth“. Adrian Slywotsky brings a little clarity to what more likely tends to happen within 1 Infinite Loop.
  • (09.04) A little deeper insight into the Netflix/Starzplay divorce from the Epicenter… be sure to click through as it’s a 2-page article… Also, as rate increases begin to hit the 25 million Netflix subscribers… how many are gonna bail?
  • (09.03) After 2 months now since Apple’s Final Cut Pro updated to a new version that provided no backwards compatibility with its predecessor, Apple has relented and begun selling the old version again… although you can get a copy only by calling Apple directly, the package is not being sold online or in the apple Stores.
  • (09.02) Did Apple security personnel impersonate San Francisco Police Officers? They did according to this Bernal Heights resident who had his home searched. Perhaps we have the first post-Jobs crisis gaining steam…
  • (09.01) As the Netflix price increases begin to hit subscribers, the apparent loss of their licensing deal with StarzPlay delivers a hit to the streaming side of things.