« October 2002 | Main | February 2003 »

January 20, 2003

The Get Up Kids for President

The Get Up Kids have further cemented themselves into the #1 spot of my all-time favorite bands. Tonight's show was just amazing. It was quite possibly their best show of all time. I don't know how it could get any better than this. I think if it did I wouldn't be able to take it and I would probably just burst into flames.

Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio fame began the night solo on acoustic guitar. He played a great set and it was very good timing since I have just started listening to Alkaline Trio. I know I know. It's especially bad of me to not have been listening to them all along since I used to work for Rotz Records back in 2000 before it went bankrupt. We even had AT posters all over our walls.

Next up was Coheed & Cambria which a lot of people in the audience apparently knew who they were by the applause they got and the fact that I saw a decent amount of people singing along. I on the other hand don't feel as if I was missing anything by not knowing of their existence. They didn't do anything for me at all. They just seemed like every other shitty band that is being put out by the music industry today that I could care less for. The music was decent and they played their instruments well, but something about them just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it was the mophead lead singer or just their all around we are just like every other stupid band vibe I got from them. They would make a great rush cover band though with mophead's voice.

All the pain and suffering I had to endure with Coheed & Cambria was soon rewarded though when TGUK hit the stage. This was an all new set list. It wasn't the scripted set of the last tour that opened with Let the Reigns Go Loose. The intro music was some kind of rap or hiphop that if I had to guess was probably from one of the Reggie and the Full Effect albums. I just started checking out RATFA so I will find out for sure soon enough. Anyway once they got on stage they went right into Holiday and oh damn was it great. They were very fired up and jumping around and just rocking out in that Get Up Kids way.

I was very excited when they played Up On The Roof since this was the first time that I actually knew the words and could sing along.

Further into the set, Jim and Matt said that the next song they were going to play was Woodson. They said that they had never played it here except perhaps a long time ago at the Fireside Bowl. They said it was the first song they ever wrote back when they were 18 and that it's all been down hill since. :-) It was just awesome to get to see them play Woodson. Not only is it the first song they ever wrote, but the Woodson EP was the first CD of theirs that I ever bought and listened to over and over again before buying all the rest of their stuff. There was a great energy when they played it and most of the crowd was singing along which was great to see for a song that I have never seen them play live and is not on any of their full length albums.

They also played three new songs at this show. At least I believe they were new. One of them was new for sure because Matt introduced at as such. He asked the crowd if anyone had remembered two years ago when they played the Vagrant America tour hear. I was there of course and yelled out as did a few others in the crowd. He said he was glad we remembered because he didn't. He said the next song was about not remembering that show. He said the name of the song, but unforunately I have already forgotten it.

Anne Arbour, Newfound Mass, and (Amy) Don't Hate Me were fantastic with the crowd participation. It just doesn't get any better than this.

They were really having a great time on stage all laughing and making wisecracks at each other. Ryan throwing his drum sticks at Matt and other such acts of love as those.

They closed out the set with an amazing and long version of Walking on a Wire which graces the number one spot for the most played song in my iTunes. Matt sang the extra lyrics as well. I still haven't figured exactly what they are. I'm pretty sure that last words of it are "shadows no longer follow me" or something like that. Well crap it's probably nothing like that. I tried to remember but have completely forgotten. Did a google search and I am coming up empty. Doesn't anyone know? Anyway it was just amazing watching them just play and play Walking on a Wire with Matt up against his amp, just leaning his guitar's bridge right into it making for some great feedback. Ending finally with James alone on a stage that is completely dark except for the spot light on him as he plays the closing piano keys. God I love being alive and in Chicago to experience their greatest show ever.

They came out for their encore and played Close to Me by the Cure which you can hear on Eudora. They then played Action v Action and Ten Minutes. Then closed with Hannah Hold On.

Just an all around fantastic set. I was saddened that they didn't play Valentine or Red Letter Day. Jenny, my sister-in-law, wished they had played Fall Semester, her favorite song. I'm sure everyone went away wishing they had played just one more song, but hey what can you expect when everyone one of their songs is so great to begin with? Just means you have to see them again the next time they come through town hoping they do play the songs they didn't last time. They did play Woodson, which to me alone was worth the price of admission.

Can't wait to see them all again when Reggie comes to Record Breakers in just under a month. Time will not pass quick enough.

January 08, 2003

OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 X11 for Mac OS X Final Beta

So OpenOffice.org released the final beta version of OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 X11 for Mac OS X yesterday at MWSF. I'm surprised to have not read about it on any sites yet. I managed to download it pretty quickly off of one of the mirrors (probably because the downloading frenzy hasn't begun yet). My first impression is that it does appear to be very stable, but it's not quite polished enough to replace Office X for the everyday Mac user.

Yesterday Apple also quietly released a beta version of X11 for Mac OS X which is an optimized version of Xfree86's X server that also includes a speedy quartz based window manager. It works much like Orobourosx but much faster thanks to Apple's optimizations. I bring this up because it looks like the new OpenOffice build was unfortunately built before anyone knew about Apple's new X11. After installing OpenOffice.org, a nice "Start OpenOffice.org" icon is created in your Applications folder. Double clicking it the first time asks you what program to use as your X11 server. I choose Apple's X11, but after a minute or too, Console was nice enough to report that soffice.bin had crashed. So no go with a nice double click to start up OOo. I'm sure this will be fixed by the time it is finally released though. Fortunately, I had no problems starting it from within an xterm or adding it to the X11 Applications menu by entering the command "/Applications/OpenOffice.org1.0.1/program/soffice"

On from there it looks to be very stable. The Word and Excel documents I opened loaded perfectly and printed without a hitch. I didn't have to do anything special to make this happen. Just open and print and done. So the basics are definitely there.

Printing is a little confusing though from a user feedback standpoint though, as it does not go through Print Center. And it prints so fast through CUPS (on a TiBook 667) that I wasn't even sure anything had been printed until I went to the other end of the office to check the printer. Maybe if we are lucky it will use Printer Center in the final release.

My last gripes are that as far as being a Macintosh program it's just not there yet. I don't fault anyone for this as this release based on the X11 version does not attempt to be a full fledged Mac program anyway. No attempt has been made with this version to follow the Aqua Human Interface Guidelines of course. And since it uses X11 instead of Aqua, menu bars are of course within each window instead of in the standard menu bar (as with any X11 program running on Mac OS X). All the shortcut key combinations use Ctrl instead of Cmd. This means that you hit Ctrl+S to save and Ctrl+P to print instead of Cmd+S and Cmd+P respectively. I was also not able to hit some of the key combinations such as Ctrl+F7 to bring up the Thesaurus. These problems should of course be addressed when OpenOffice.org completes their native Aqua port which is currently under development.

All and all it looks like OpenOffice.org has built a very solid application that anyone coming from Unix/Linux should feel very comfortable using and save them from having to fork over cash to Microsoft in order to edit Word documents on a Mac. For people that are used to the beauty and consistency of Macs and Mac apps, they are probably still better off spending the money to purchase Microsoft Office X if they need to work with these documents everyday. But for anyone that doesn't spend much of their time in a word processor, perhaps less than once a week, this is definitely a great alternative to spending $500.

January 06, 2003

My Keynote Predictions

I have no affiliations with Apple or any insider knowledge of any kind to back any of my predictions up, but what I do have is a fresh view of Apple. I have been a PC user for over half of my life and didn't really get into Apple until I convinced my boss to buy me a TiBook last Christmas. I have no desire of going back to the PC world let me tell you. But I do still have a bit of an outsider view of things, so here goes.

I am reading a lot of predictions that are expecting Apple to release either a Tablet PC type product or an "iPod II" that supports video. I think both of these predictions are completely absurd. Let me tell you why.

* Tablet PC: There is really no market for the tablet PC. For one thing, myself, as well as most people can type a hell of a lot faster than they can write. So given that plus the potential for mistakes in handwriting recognition that are bound to pop up occasionally, from a productivity stand point the tablet will NEVER replace a bona fide laptop. The only place a tablet pc would be more useful than a laptop, is if you are standing and have no table to rest your laptop on. It's not very easy to hold a TiBook in one hand and type very effectively with the other. I could see a Tablet PC being more practical in this situation. But on the other hand is it really going to be better than a PDA? NO! PDA's are great and can fit in your pocket. True they won't play video like a Table PC could, but come on...do you really need it? For the people that a Tablet PC might actually be useful to (read: corporate users), they don't need it to play video or any other gee-wiz-bang novelty feature like that. They've already got a PDA that does everything that would use the Table PC for and at a quarter of the size and price. Who else might the Tablet PC be useful too? Your UPS or Fedex guy and guess what. They've already got a tablet shaped piece of equipment that fills their needs. They don't need a big expensive color LCD screen to do what they do. The Tablet PC == big loser.

* Video iPod: This would be even worse of an idea than the Tablet PC. Who is going to watch video on their iPod. NO ONE!! Sure it sounds cool and if you bought one you would run around and show it to all your friends, but after that...is it really useful? No not at all. If Apple wants to use a new video feature to justify keeping the price of the iPod at $500 then I guess that is their prerogative, but I can tell you I'm not going to be replacing my 20GB iPod I have now for one that plays video. Dumb! The iPod has dinky little 2in screen. It's not big enough to watch video practically. So this means they would have to make the iPod bigger which if you ask me takes away a lot of the appeal of the iPod. The iPod has a nice small form-factor compared to other mp3 players. The other reason that adding video to it doesn't make any sense is how it combines with iTunes. The iPod (on the mac side anyway) is a portable hardware extension of iTunes. It is a very elegant solution. I add or remove music to iTunes, plug in my iPod and in minutes they are synced. I don't even have to think about it, it's just plug and play. So what is Apple going to add Video to iTunes now? It doesn't make any sense. That means you are going to have to now sync with some other utility that handles your video library and playlist. Where do you get this video? Are regular ordinary people going to be downloading gigs and gigs of video off the Internet to put on the iPod so they can watch on it's little tiny 160x128 screen? No way! So unless Apple also releases a new iApp that rips video as easily from DVDs as iTunes does from CDs, there is no elegant solution for video like there is for music. It just is not practical.

Here's an easy way to figure out if a product idea makes sense for Apple. Can you fit it into a Switch commercial? Keep in mind that at least 10 seconds of the commercial is spent with the person saying who they are and what they do. So you have 20 seconds to describe a product in simple ordinary words. This works for iPhoto, iPod, iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, etc. Try and sell me a Tablet PC or explain to me why a Video iPod will make my life better in 20 seconds. YOU CAN'T DO IT!

So now that I've shot down everyone's two favorite predictions, what are mine?

* Rendezvous enabled iTunes: This is I want and we know they have been working on it. They really need to start leveraging the new Rendezvous technology in Jaguar, so far iChat and printing are the only things. Not to many people have bought Rendezvous enabled printers yet, so no one really notices it. It's something that is very cool and you don't have to think about to use. Win Win for everyone.

* Rendezvous Home Stereo Component: This should be the new DLD everyone is clamoring for. I seem to remember Philips or maybe it was Panasonic or Pioneer who said they were working on a Stereo component that would play music using Rendezvous to access your iTunes play list. This could be the new DLD that they announce and I know I would go out and buy it. Right now I hook up my iPod to my stereo. If I no longer had to go through the process of syncing my iPod with my TiBook to get my latest mp3's on my stereo or charging it, that is worth $200-$300 to me. Just make it wireless please so I don't have to run CAT5 to my stereo.

* Ogg/Vorbis support in iPod: This is more of a pipe-dream than a prediction. I would really love for Apple to add support for Ogg/Vorbis to the iPod via a software update, but I doubt it will happen. I don't want it bad enough to spend another $500 for a new iPod. But I would love it and it would certainly bring the final bit of geeks eyeing shiny TiBooks from a far over to our side.

* New iChat: Everyone seems to think they will be announcing a new version of iChat that has audio and/or video support. I could see this. It's something I think most of the other chat clients already have. I personally won't be making use of it. I use chat mostly for business purposes and I need the logging that chat enables. Audio/Video can not be practically logged so if something important happens I can no longer search back and reference past conversations if they happened over audio/video instead of text chat. Now what would be really kickass though would be if the new iChat included voice recognition that transcribed the audio so you later could go back and search past conversations. That would be a killer app for Apple to bring to the market first. The corporate world would go nuts for something like that. Another nice feature to add to iChat might be to integrate a bit of Apple Remote Desktop into it, so you could display your desktop to people to compete with NetMeeting. Does anyone even use NetMeeting any more though?

* All new systems are Firewire2 enabled: I think Apple will update all new shipping macs to have Firewire2. We can thank SmartDisk for jumping the gun on that.

* All new systems are Bluetooth enabled: Apple being the first to ship bluetooth standard on systems would be very cool. Sorta takes the wind out of Microsoft's syncing sails. This also lends nicely to the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse that a lot of people are predicting for the iMac.

* All new systems are USB2 enabled: Why not? If they do Firewire2 and Bluetooth, there is no reason not to upgrade USB2 at the same time.

* Airport supports 802.11b and g: I don't know if that is technically possible, but I sure hope it is. It would be really cool if it was software update and you didn't have to go out and buy new hardware to get the faster speeds. There is a lot of 802.11b Apple product out there in the market place. To stop supporting them would be a bad move. But that shouldn't stop them from also shipping the latest and greatest. I think this is probably a stretch though. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure 802.11g is actually a finalized spec yet. I think it may still be a draft spec at the moment. It probably won't change, but do you really want to base products on standard that might change?

* General spec improvements: Other than that, just you standard harddrive space, processor speed, memory improvements that happen. Nothing special here.

* Xserve RAID: It would be nice for this to actually ship, or at least have an ETA.

So that about sums it up. People are predicting the announcements that some iApps you will have to start paying for upgrades for. I'm not really leaning either way on whether or not this is true. I hope it's not, but if it does, so what. If I have to spend $50 to have titles in iMovie stop sucking, I'll spend it. There could also be the iBrowser that everyone thinks Apple is making based off of Chimera. Maybe...but why bother? Why not just pay the Chimera developers to make Chimera do what it is that Apple wants. Do they really need to re-brand it? What would they gain? Nothing really. There are also predictions of major changes in the display line up. I guess maybe? Don't have any strong feelings about that.