Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Coke ads for 2006

Several of the Coke Classic commercials are vignettes set to music.
One is an upclose look at Coke poured over ice cream. The words flash up: "You had a good run, root beer."
What this article doesn't note (and I have not been able to find any note of it anywhere via Google) is that the music used in this commercial is a cover of Gavin Friday's "The Slider" from his 1996 album Shag Tobacco. I saw the commercial at Regal Cinemas and recognized it so fast it was scary. I'm still bitter that I was not old enough to see him at Berbati's Pan back then.

Edit: I was wrong! Thanks to some cordial and not-so-cordial commenters (thanks for raising the level of discourse on the Internet), I've learned that the song in the ad is the original version of The Slider by the Marc Bolan-led T. Rex. Gavin Friday merely covered it in '96. This makes a lot of sense, since Gavin Friday (along with Bono) covered "Children of the Revolution" for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and is obviously a big fan of the '70s rock god. The version of "Shag Tobacco" I listened to was a demo tape, so I've never seen the booklet where the appropriate credit was presumably given.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Captain Confederacy

First, read this story, which appeared in The Record:
Family finds comic book gift offensive

An 11-year-old boy and his foster mother are mad about unwittingly buying a comic book they consider racist.
Then read this story at Newsarama:
Captain Confederacy moves to the web
Thanks, in part, to a knee-jerk response such as this by the press to his comic, Captain Confederacy, creator Will Shetterly has opted to put the entire run of the comic series online.
Now determine which did a better job of informing its readers.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Simpsons Comics #112

Some years ago, the producers of The Simpsons toyed with the idea of spinning off some minor characters into their own television series -- each of which failed. But that didn't stop the studio marketing and licensing teams from creating comic book tie-ins for the quickly cancelled shows. Perhaps those books are best left on scrap heap of comic history, or maybe, just maybe, the time has come to present "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase Quickly Cancelled Comic Cavalcade," featuring the return of 'Chief Wiggum P.I.,' 'The Love-matic Grampa,' and 'The Simpsons Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.'
If you've seen the original episode of The Simpsons with the Spin-Off Showcase, this issue is hilarious. Find it at a Comic Shop near you.

The Washington Post Help File

Q: I can't watch videos posted on MSNBC in Firefox, because the site keeps telling me that I need to run Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. Why can't these files play in my own browser?

A: MSNBC made that impossible when it adopted Microsoft's MSN Video software, which requires that you run IE for Windows and accept the installation of an ActiveX program from MSN's site. To drive away 10 to 15 percent of the potential audience like that is a foolish thing for any news site to do, but MSNBC (with which The Post shares some news stories) seems to have decided that promoting the proprietary software of one of its owners matters more.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Christmas 2004 iMovie

Everyone that's in this movie has probably seen it by now, but since I've got plenty of space on my .Mac account, I figured I might as well put it online.

Alleged eDonkey pirate gets trial

Paramount tried to do a forensic analysis of Davis' Macintosh G4 cube. But the company found that Davis wiped his hard drive clean and reinstalled the operating system soon after being notified of the legal action against him.

Macworld Expo SF 2006 recap

I was not granted a Media Badge this year, so I only visited the Exhibit Hall. Since that was not scheduled to open until 11 a.m. (it never opens before Steve Jobs' keynote) I didn't plan to arrive until about 11:30 a.m. That ended up becoming 12:30 p.m. thanks to a traffic jam on 580.

I stopped into the Apple Retail Store since it's right at one of the exits of the Powell St. Bart station but saw no new products.

Here's the conversation I overheard while I was waiting in line to get my badgeholder.
Woman: "I have to wear a badge?"
Man: "That's how they know you're allowed to be here"
Woman: "But it's going to wreck my outfit!"

There was quite a crowd around the Apple areas, but I did manage to pin down a few reps and get a first-hand look at the new hardware and software. First was the new MacBook Pro. I was surprised that a "Pro" laptop was one of the first Intel-based Macs, since they had promised to release consumer hardware first. I was also surprised that it looked remarkably similar to the PowerBook G4. The only external differences at first glance were the built-in camera and the remote control infrared sensor for Front Row. There was a FireWire port, contrary to some predictions that Apple's first Intel-based laptop would not include this, but only one? I was impressed with the size of the screen, but I'm used to a 12" iBook, so that doesn't say too much. Curiously absent were any claims about heat, battery life, or wireless reception -- all problems that affect the current PowerBooks. The rep tried to show off Front Row to me, but the machine had crashed. This gave me the chance to see how fast it booted: the time between the Welcome to Macintosh status bar and the final load of the Finder desktop was mere seconds. And despite some who worried, there are no Intel branding stickers.

I next got to look at the new iMacs. Again, I was surprised these were the first Macs to receive an Intel processor, since they had just gotten a redesign a few months ago. And these look exactly like those G5 models. The speed seemed impressive. A gentleman asked why he would want this iMac instead of the one he currently owned. The rep then answered by clicking on every application in the Dock (Safari, Mail, iChat, iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, iTunes, Keynote, Pages) and we could see them all start up in about 2-3 bounces. "Can your Mac do that?" the rep asked. Impressive. I also watched Word 2004 run via the Rosetta "translation" which was transparent. But Virtual PC and Apple's "Pro" apps will not work on either of the Intel Macs. Going against hardware introduction tradition, the older iMac G5s are still available. Choice is good.

There were plenty of stations showing iLife '06 and I was impressed with iPhoto's changes, especially full-screen editing and multi-image comparison. The greeting cards look nice and so do the calendars, but couldn't we have gotten those before the new year started? The rep could not answer my question about whether or not the new photo-sharing web page templates could hold more photos per page than the current ones do. In fact, he was unaware that there was even a limit. "I don't really use .Mac for publishing photos," he admitted. Hey, Apple, when your own reps use a competing photo-publishing solution, pay attention.

iMovie HD 6 was less impressive in terms of overall changes. I doubt I'll ever be able to take advantage of the 1080i editing mode. But the ability to open multiple projects at once is a welcome improvement. The themes were very impressive and I'm now glad I didn't finish our Hawaii movie before Christmas since I think they'll be very useful for that project. I've since discovered, however, that those themes require OS X 10.4.4. I still have not installed Tiger on our iMac G5 since I find Spotlight to be truly awful. I'm not looking forward to resolving this incompatibility.

It was very difficult to find anyone that could tell me about iDVD 6, which nowadays I am actually interested in. But I attended an Apple presentation on iLife '06 and saw some of the new themes and the ability to expand the window in order to view the menus "tree." The ditching of the bordered brushed metal interface for the borderless iTunes 5-6 look is actually good, I think, because it provides more usable screen space.

The introduction of Apple's iPod Radio Remote (hmm, does this qualify as fulfilling my "Apple-branded iPod accessories" prediction?) is welcome to me. Not because I actually want to listen to the radio on my iPod (What's the point?) but so that maybe it will finally SHUT UP all those people who complain about how the iPod isn't as good as other digital music players because it doesn't have an FM tuner. You've got video and radio now, okay? Stop complaining now!

Does anyone not have an iPod case? Because if you were looking for one, Macworld Expo was the place to be. There must have been dozens of exhibitors hawking iPod cases. Probably half of the exhibit hall floor was devoted to iPods instead of Macs. The weirdest accessory I saw was this iPod gogglesiPod visor that looked like Geordi LaForge's banana clip from Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you're looking for a way to look like a geek, this thing is a lock.

Although I was denied a Media Badge this year (but the guy from ThinkSecret gets to attend the keynote?) I was invited to an evening press reception for Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit at the posh W Hotel across the street. Free hors d'oeuvres and an open bar made a great end to a day that was actually pretty exhausting. Walking and standing around for hours with heavy bags on your shoulder is tiring. The true benefit, though, was the chance to talk to members of the MacBU and ask questions about the products. My main interests are Entourage and Virtual PC. It was great news to hear that Entourage would get an update in March to make it "Spotlightable" (maybe that's when I'll upgrade the iMac) and be compatible with iSync (and thus the iPod). They are aware that the Send Feedback link is broken and explained that it was somewhat out of their control. Virtual PC is not compatible with the Intel Macs, but one of the team members (who formerly worked with Connectix) said he was hopeful they would release a new version, but couldn't commit to it (understandably). They've been awaiting information from Apple on exactly what kind of processor would be used, since the application is tied so closely to the hardware.

I asked about Windows Media Player, although I knew the MacBU isn't responsible for that. They said they'd find someone to get back to me. Of course, it's since been announced that they have ended support for Windows Media Player for the Mac. They claim they stopped developing the Mac version so they could focus on efforts for Vista. It obviously didn't help too much since they stopped developing it two years ago and in that time still haven't shipped Vista. They also claim "We just did not have the resources to do a good job on (the Mac version)." Microsoft doesn't have the resources? Apple has the resources to create iTunes for Windows, but the biggest software company in the world doesn't have enough resources to reciprocate? Sure.

Another interesting nugget of info I heard at the reception is that Firefox will be rewritten in Cocoa. I have yet to see that information elsewhere, but I hope it's true. I also got a chance to see Shawn King of Your Mac Life there and complimented him on the great job he and J. continue to do on a weekly basis. Their live show on the exhibit hall floor with Adam Engst was entertaining, as well. He even gave me a free pin -- one of those nice form-cut ones, not a cheap button pin.

I didn't stay through the whole reception, as I still had to take BART back to Dublin and then drive home. But all in all, it was worth the trip. I scored a great deal on a 160GB LaCie FireWire drive, so that ought to solve my storage needs for another six months.

DC Comics & The Postal Service team up

Ten comic book heroes will be saluted on the "DC Comics Super Heroes" stamps next summer. Half of the pane of 20 will be portraits of the characters; the other half will show individual comic book covers devoted to their exploits. The characters include Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Plastic Man, Supergirl, Superman and Wonder Woman.
When I first saw that headline text, I thought they were talking about the band. So this was less exciting news than I thought it might be. Oh, and you'll have to scroll down the linked page quite a bit, since there's not a direct link to the more detailed information.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Macworld SF 2006 scorecard

Here's how I scored:

100% right:

  • iLife '06
    I even correctly noted that iMovie would be tagged with '6' instead of 'HD 2'
  • New laptops with built-in iSight camera
    There are two models, so that qualifies as plural laptops
  • DVR not introduced
    The Apple DVR is a wishful-thinking product like an Apple 'iPhone' that's been 'predicted' for years
50% right:
  • Macs introduced with Intel processors will not ship until February
    This was true for the MacBook Pro, but not for the 2x faster iMac
  • Additional video content added to iTunes Music Store from FOX and HBO
    Additional video was added, but not from FOX or HBO
  • Updates to .Mac related to iWeb and streaming video
    Podcast, blog and photocast support was added, but not video
  • Apple-branded iPod accessories, such as dockable speaker set
    There was no dockable speaker set, but the Remote Radio Tuner is Apple-branded and it's an iPod accessory
0% right:
  • New iPod shuffle with display
    I was certain I'd be at least 50% right on this one. Surprising, but not disappointing.
  • New AirPort hardware product to stream video from computer to TV, including remote
    Remotes were included with the new laptops and iMacs, but that doesn't change the fact that this prediction was dead wrong.
  • At least one new product announced will draw complaints of "but it's too expensive!"
    I didn't hear this about the hardware products (yet) but did hear some grumbling about whether the updates to the iLife suite warranted the $79 price.
    Update: MacBook Pro "too expensive"

Ick Factor

Many Straight Guys Say 'No Thanks' to 'Brokeback Mountain'

It's true, the movie "Brokeback Mountain" does provoke what one researcher calls "a very strong ick factor" in some straight men. What is it in this story of two cowboy pals in 1960s Wyoming who find themselves in lifelong love -- yet go on to marry women -- that elicits this response from heterosexual males? The answers are as complex as the plot.
Funny story ... about how I got quoted in this Newhouse News Service story, that is. I posted a comment at this Entertainment Weekly blog post (Queer eye for the straight 'Brokeback'-watching guy) and was later contacted by National Correspondent Dru Sefton, who I had a nice conversation with. As with all interviews, 15 minutes gets distilled down to a sentence or two.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Macworld SF 2006 predictions

Here's what I think is going to be introduced Tuesday by Apple:

  • iLife '06
    • GarageBand 3
    • iTunes 6
    • iPhoto 6
    • iDVD 6
    • iMovie 6
    • iWeb
  • New iPod shuffle with display
  • Updates to .Mac related to iWeb and streaming video
  • New AirPort hardware product to stream video from computer to TV, including remote
  • New laptops with built-in iSight camera
  • Apple-branded iPod accessories, such as dockable speaker set
  • Additional video content added to iTunes Music Store from FOX and HBO
Here's what I think will NOT be introduced by Apple:
  • DVR
    Making a DVR is not as easy as it seems and Apple doesn't want to deal with the headaches of being compatible with cable set-top boxes. It also undercuts their plan to sell you individual shows. Plus, TV networks don't like DVRs and Apple wants to make them happy.
  • Intel-based Macs that ship immediately
    If any Macs are introduced with Intel processors, they will not ship until February at the earliest and, more likely, May.
Oh, and at least one new product announced will draw complaints of "but it's too expensive!"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

macCompanion December 2005

I've got one software review in this month's issue of macCompanion:

  • Data Rescue II
    Prosoft had a strong data recovery utility with Data Rescue X, and thanks to improvements to its speed and interface, the Tiger-compatible Data Rescue II is even stronger.