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How Steve Jobs Saved My Marriage

October 8th, 2011

Ok, so the title is hyperbolic. My wife and I have been married about 2.5 years, we’ve got a boy on the way and we’re doing great. But Apple technology did help smooth over an argument once.

I think it was the Spring or Summer of last year. We were arguing about something; I don’t recall what. I’ve got an Apple TV which we often use to listen to music. At one point I stomped out to the deck in a huff.

I sat out there for a few minutes. My mood soon turned to just wanting to reconcile, but it was one of those fights that can’t blow over that quickly.

Except I had a secret weapon.

If you use this, use it sparingly. Like once or twice, ever.

I pulled out my iPhone and opened the Remote app. Then I queued up “Embraceable You,” sung by Billie Holiday. It was our first dance at our wedding.

So it started playing inside, where Kelly was. It took maybe 20 seconds for her to come out and kiss me. All was forgiven.

Not bad for a nerd, eh?

iTape

August 26th, 2011

On the subject of Apple and Steve Jobs…

We did several skits related to Apple:

The original script for iTape was a bit different. I had written it as an anti-DRM thing. I still like the final result better (Cunties! Cool!), but here’s the original, for posterity:

Closeup of guy with white earbuds, rockin out. Rock music is playing.

VO – “Watch out RIAA! There’s a new kid on the block, and it’s gonna revolutionize the way people listen to and share music!”

Pan down. He’s holding an ancient portable tape recorder.

VO – “That’s right! It’s the iTape!”

Cut to iPod-style silhouette of guy dancing with iTape.

VO – “With the iTape you can ‘time-shift’ your favorite songs from the radio…”

Cut to guy holding an iTape to a crappy-looking radio.

VO – “… Records…”

Cut to guy holding an iTape up to a turntable.

VO – “… Even from the television!”

Cut to guy holding up an iTape to a television. An Ashley Simpson video is on.

Closeup of finger pressing record. Cut to medium shot, guy gives a thumbs-up to the camera.

VO – “But that’s not all! You can share your collection with friends!”

Two guys with iTapes, standing close, pressing them next to each other. One is playing, the other recording.

VO – “The iTape is revolutionary technology, with state of the art audio quality!”

Closeup of an iTape on a table. A finger presses play. All other sound stops as a horribly dubbed version of “Hungry Like The Wolf” starts playing. It’s warbly and distorted, with lots of hiss, and you can hear people talking in the background.

Music lowers in volume; VO – “The iTape has new random-access ‘counter’ technology that allows you to keep track of your favorite songs! Just write down the number of the position where the song starts, and you can find the song in 5 minutes or less!”

Cut to guy fast forwarding, rewinding, checking paper with numbers on it, fast forwarding, rewinding.

Cut to spinning iTape silhouette. “nu ni nu ni nu ni nu ni”

VO – “The new iTape! Stick it to the man!”

Quiet VO, spoken quickly – “iTape requires 4 C batteries for 20 minutes of use. Required audio cassettes sold separately.”

I forget what “nu ni nu ni nu ni” means. I think it was a momentary inside joke.

Steve Jobs

August 24th, 2011

Everyone knew that the resignation of Steve Jobs was imminent. But it’s still sad.

Last weekend, while rearranging upstairs bedrooms to prepare a nursery for our son (he’s due in less than 3 months!), I found myself looking at my old G4 iMac. It’s the one with the goose neck and the dome base. This one has a nice 21″ screen. It’s got a problem now where it’s a pain to turn it on, but it’s otherwise in great condition. It’s still a stunning computer.

Seven years ago, I moved from Flagstaff, AZ to the midwest. Things weren’t going so well. I talked my parents into buying that iMac for me. It wasn’t cheap — along with Final Cut Express it was around $1,600.

My interest then was video editing. But it was more than that. For years I was a UNIX nerd. Linux in particular. I still have a soft spot for it (I use Terminal.app and vi every day). But Mac OS X took it to an entirely new level. They somehow managed to combine UNIX underpinnings with solid UI and UX. It was, and still is, amazing.

But, as I said, my interest was in video editing. Through this, I eventually re-connected with an old friend from middle school and started an internet comedy group. We made very few waves (there were some very small ones), but the personal implications were far-reaching. I got a job at IB (where I worked for 5 years) through a recommendation from several of the guys. Shawn officiated my wedding with Kelly. These are people I never would have known if the state of tech on the Mac had been less awesome. They’re all good friends (and we still miss you, Eric).

My current employment can be traced back to it as well. Not because I use a Mac at work (I do), but because the Mac re-ignited an interest in computing for me. Keep in mind, I was not a fan of the mac in the pre-OS X days. It might have been a decent OS, but it was severely lacking in many respects. OS X, though, was a breath of fresh air. It was a technically competent OS with a nice, even wonderful front-end. People forget just how shitty GUIs were 15 years ago.

I still own a shirt that says, “I dig Mac OS X”.

I carry around 2, sometimes 3 iOS devices every day. Which is ridiculous, of course.

I remember thinking, back in 2008, how strange it was that just a year before I didn’t have EVERYTHING at my fingertips. The iPhone and iPad have drastically altered my lifestyle. I can’t even imagine life without them now. I use my iPhone more than I’ve ever used any computer or phone. Or any device, really.

iPhone, and iPod Touch and iPad have had such a huge effect on the market that it’s really hard to gauge. People lately have taken to saying that there’s no tablet market: there’s an iPad market. And it’s true. Apple is so far ahead of everyone else that it’s a bit embarassing. They’ll all catch up eventually, but right now the competition is completely incompetent.

So. Here’s one guy who managed to create and shepherd some seriously world-changing technology. I didn’t even mention iPods or MacBooks. He’s probably going to die long before his time. But a large part of modern life is shaped by what Steve Jobs has done. He changed the world for the better.

Here’s wishing him the best.

Playstation Plus

April 17th, 2011

When I first saw the Playstation Plus would include online storage, I got excited. I love buying old PS1 games on PSN and playing them both on my PS3 and my PSP. It’s great to be able to take my PSP on a trip or something, play a few hours of Xenogears or whatever, then come home and continue to play it on my console.

The process for doing that, though, sucks. You have to plug (!) the PSP into the PS3 with a USB cable. Then you have to go through some menus, select the relevant save games and copy them. Not the most difficult thing in the world, but it is annoying and tedious. It’s the kind of process that only seriously devoted Sony partisan would call “simple”.

What I’d really like is the ability to designate all save games for game X to be stored online. I tell my PS3 and I tell my PSP, and then it’s just works from now on. Sure, I’d have to make sure that my PSP has a chance to sync up before going somewhere, but that would be a minor nuisance.

So, my hopes were raised when I saw “Online Storage” advertised as a part of Playstation Plus. I don’t currently pay for Plus, but I would do so in a second if they offered this. Sadly, they’re not offering anything that I want. From the Technical Solutions section of their English forums:

PS1,PS2,PSP and minis save data cannot be backed up.

Boo. It gets worse:

You can back up your data to Online Storage as often as you wish, however you may only restore data to your PS3 from online storage once every 24 hours.

This is not such a big deal since PSP/PS1 games can’t be backed up, but would be if they could.

But the absolute worst part, for me:

To backup Save Game Data to Online Storage

 

  • You can back up or copy the save by navigating to the ‘GAME’ icon > scroll through the options until you are on ‘SAVE DATA UTILITY (PS3)’ > Press X
  • Select the save you wish to backup press the triangle button and select ‘COPY’
  • You will be asked to select the destination of the back up save, navigate to the new option ‘ONLINE STORAGE’ and press X to copy over.

 

To restore Save Game Data from Online Storage:

 

  • Go to ‘GAME’ icon, select ‘SAVE DATA UTILITY’ and then ‘ONLINE STORAGE’
  • Highlight the saved data you wish to copy.
  • Press triangle and select ‘COPY’ to retrieve the save.

Why should anyone have to go through that every time? How tedious is that? This really is just a way to back up game saves. It’s the equivalent of plugging in a usb drive and backing up game saves one at a time.

What I was really hoping for was something like Dropbox for PS3/PSP. I don’t want to have to care about individual game save files, whether I’m using a console or a handheld, whether I’ve gone through the proper three-step procedures. What I want is an invisible process where I can save my progress in a PS1 game on my PS3 and pick it up on my PSP without any difficulty.

This seems to be the experience with Sony. They make products with tons of potential then either don’t develop that potential or (even worse) remove functionality down the road. Which is another topic.

Maybe the audience for this sort of feature is small. I don’t know. But I can say that I currently have no plans to subscribe to Playstation Plus. The potential features I’ve described would get me to pay for it in a heartbeat.

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