Archive for January, 2007

13
Jan
07

In Honor of Martin King

“Early morning,martin-luther-king.jpg

April 4,

Shot rings out,

In the Memphis sky,

‘Free at last’, they took your life,

They could not take your pride….”

.

– U2, Pride (In the Name of Love)


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11
Jan
07

Little Miss Sunshine: Review

This holiday, my sister and brother-in-law came to visit from Texas with their brand new son — and my new best-est buddy — Noah. In every parent and family’s eyes, their child is probably the most beautiful to ever walk the Earth. It’s no different with us. He’s the cutest, happiest, baby I’ve ever known. Spending the holiday with him was without question the highlight of my year — (and truthfully, it was probably the highlight of the past few years.) During the time that my family drowned Noah with attention, I kept hearing the theme of how “cute” he was. And….well, he is. But looking to the future I began to worry. I began to worry about the psychological impact that an unbalanced amount of attention paid towards a child’s physical attributes can do to their development. I began to worry about an ego that, after having so many people focusing on your physical attributes during the crucial years of development, might end up becoming unbearable when these youthful years are gone. I thought about the anguish that a 13-year-old Noah would go through when his physical features began to change — shedding his boyish grin for a more manly chin and his rosy cheeks for ones with whiskers beginning to sprout from them. I think we can all recall when they stopped calling us cute. (Well, those of us that were unlucky enough to make that transition).

Little Miss Sunshine is a film that does many things well, but above all, it forces us to examine our concept of “beauty”. I don’t know the director or the writer, but I’m certain that they can relate to my caution towards my nephew. At a time when films are becoming more and more shallow, this film manages to deal with incredibly difficult topics in a wonderful and oddly unique way. Tony Collette and Greg Kinnear star as a late-thirtysomething couple whose relationship is far from perfect and who are trying to keep a family going as they raise two very unique children. Paul Cano and Abigail Breslin give noteworthy performances as brother and sister, Dwayne and Olive. Rounding out the cast are Alan Arkin, who co-stars as Kinnear’s war-hardened father and Steve Carell as an intellectual scholar whose “going through a bit of a crisis”.

The movie centers around a trip to California to enter Olive in a beauty contest to earn the title “Little Miss Sunshine.” The journey is quite a turbulent ride — pun completely intended, as their mode of transportation is a standard-shift Volkswagen bus. As with most great films (and this one is truly great) to give away too much of the plot would rob you of a great emotional experience.

If you’re looking for a knee-slapping, laughing good time, well….. you’ll get a few of those scenes here. But in order to get those, you’re going to need to get emotionally invested. And some of your “investment” is going to require some heartache. Each of the actors is going through his or her own personal struggle in life as they strive to reach a goal. One of the great things about this film is that while it was a bit fanciful in some of the ridiculously funny and silly capers that this bunch go through, I never felt as if the film was lying to me. I found myself tearing up during a few scenes in the movie. One scene in particular reminded me an awful lot of the relationship that I share with my younger sister.

I heard a lot of great things about this film and I resisted it because I thought it would be too silly. Thankfully, I was wrong. This is an incredibly special film. One word of warning — this film is a bit depressing. (At least it was for me.) Although the final title of the film ended up being “Little Miss Sunshine”, I’m certain that on the short list of alternate titles you’d have found “Things Fall Apart”. Life isn’t perfect. It’s not perfect as we live it and it’s definitely not perfect in this film. But the heartwarming thing that carries you through is getting to know these characters and watching and examining how dynamic and unselfish they become in the face of their own failure.

This is one of the best films of it’s kind that I’ve seen since The Squid and the Whale. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with The Squid and the Whale because it’s just so unique and fascinating to me. But this one is a close second (and on days when I need a good cry, it’s probably first.)

Don’t miss this one. Great story. Great acting performances. A few big laughs. And lots of heartache. You’ll be a better person for having watched this film.

10
Jan
07

Welcome, iPhone

iphone.jpgScott Bourne and Alex Lindsay — I owe you both a big apology. In 2006, I got tired listening to the guys on MacBreak Weekly talk about the coveted “iPhone” like it was some sort of super-device. We’d seen nothing of it. Steve Jobs himself had gone on record saying that the PDA market wasn’t an area that Apple was looking to move into. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why these guys were salivating over the mere thought that Apple would make a phone. To me, it was almost the worst kind of fanatacism and Apple fanboy like behavior that drives people insane.

Gentlemen, I stand corrected. I guess I wasn’t dreaming big enough.

Today Apple (now officially Apple, Inc.) exceeded even my wildest expectations of what a phone could be. Pre-keynote I had no thoughts of buying yet another mobile phone. My Motorola Q still catches stares on the subway and it serves me just fine. I browse the web all the time and EVDO seems to be improving. I’m even starting to incorporate media as I take photos and record audio occasionally with it. What more could I possibly want?

My thoughts after the MacWorld keynote? I looked down at my Q and it seemed like a tin can on the end of a string.

You’d have to be a pretty sour sport not to get excited at this device (or at least what Apple’s promising.) Honestly, as enthusiastic about the device as I am right now, my description of the features couldn’t do it justice. For the best demo, watch the keynote.

Go ahead. I’ll wait. The link is here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/keynote/

Seen it yet? OK, I understand. You don’t have the time. Well, find the time and watch this. Steve dazzles again in typical Jobs fashion. Continue reading ‘Welcome, iPhone’

08
Jan
07

My (Completely Ridiculous) MacWorld 2007 Prediction

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As far as the tech world goes, I’m a virtual nobody. I don’t have any connections to anyone “in the know.” I’m not part of the “respected press.” I’m just a guy with a blog and a web connection. I haven’t been a Mac-aficionado forever. (Only since about 2000.) And although I consider myself more business-savvy than a lot of the folks that blog, talk on podcasts and offer their opinion on what’s happened and what is to happen, I’m certainly not ready to start talking on MarketWatch about what the most profitable move would be for Apple (or any other technology company, for that matter).

And with all of those disclaimers having been said, here is my wild, completely off-the-wall, batty prediction for MacWorld (this Tuesday January 9, 2007):

I predict that, at MacWorld 2007 on January 9, Apple will announce that they are releasing a version of OS X that will run on standard PCs.

OK – now before you close the browser and declare that I’m out of my mind and that I’m being sensationalistic, let’s think about this for a second. First of all, the reasons against.

Many who think that this is the most ridiculous move that Apple could make have pointed to the fact that with Apple selling their expensive Mercedes-like hardware at such high prices and with people willing to pay a premium for a Mac Pro, iMac, MacBook or MacBook Pro, why would they ever give PC users the opportunity to run OS X on mainstream PCs for a third of the cost. Allegedly, this would “kill” Mac sales. (Or so they say.)

The other issues point to the lack of compatibility with the current crop of PC-based peripherals. It would take a herculean effort to write code, even if it’s written in the following months, such that all video cards, printers, scanners and all other devices would work with OS X on the PC (or so I’ve been told.)  And this is just the new equipment — not speaking about older PC printers, scanners, sound cards and other devices.

Thinking more optimistically, with Apple’s focus in recent years turning from a Mac-only focus to one where iTunes and the iPod are the revenue leaders, perhaps this time in history presents an opportunity to take some risk in other areas? It has always been Apple’s tragedy that amidst a bright future in the early 1980s, their failure to act quickly to move Macs into a more business-central environment would prove to be the point where Microsoft, through MS-DOS and subsequently through Windows, was able to become the market leader in operating systems. Undoubtedly, there isn’t a day that goes by where Windows doesn’t touch some portion of our lives. For many, it is the tie that binds.

Microsoft is set to release Windows Vista (after several years of delays.) At CES, they will present more information and hopefully soon we’ll hear more about the launch plan for Vista (including any launch parties, point-of-sale midnight launch events, a-la PS3/Nintendo Wii/Xbox 360). I’m pretty excited about a new Windows operating system, but I’m not sure that the rest of the public is. I haven’t heard much hype and the retail box is set to ship in less than four weeks.

From a historical perspective, this is probably a golden opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. Continue reading ‘My (Completely Ridiculous) MacWorld 2007 Prediction’

08
Jan
07

On the Eve of MacWorld 2007

MacWorld is totally freakin’ nigh. I know I sound like a complete mark for saying this, but this is one of the highlights of the year for me. Nobody knows how to do a “proper” product launch and announcement (as my friends in the U.K. would say) quite like Apple. For Mac fans all around the world, this is the time for much speculation. Over the past few months, there has been all kinds of murmuring about what Apple is going to do next. Well, here are my thoughts on some of the announcements that have been in speculation:

The iPhone/iChat Mobile/ – This has been rumored for quite some time now. The folks on one of my favorite podcasts, MacBreak Weekly on Leo Laporte’s TWiT network (www.twit.tv) are ready to give their firstborn for the privilege of owning a Mac-branded phone. And while I’m a Mac aficionado and consider my MacBook Pro as the one thing that I’d take if my apartment were ever on fire (God forbid) even I am not this much of a fanatic. To drool over something that you haven’t even seen or don’t even know the specs of is kind of ridiculous. Their rationale is that Apple will bring to mobile phones a similar experience as what they’ve brought to their computers and the iPod. For me, the jury is still out. But nonetheless, this is one of the most anticipated items at MacWorld and it’s announcement is certain to be the feature of the show. (This would have to the the “One More Thing….”).

ITV – Last summer Apple announced the ITV and said that it would be launching in 2007. “ITV” was a code name and it will be receiving it’s proper name — probably at MacWorld. No ideas at all as to what they’re going to call it. But it’s supposed to be a way of relaying video from your Mac to your large-screen display. They’ve got some challenges here. I hope they decide to allow for an RJ-45 Ethernet input because streaming TV over a wireless connection has to be darn-near impossible right now. Also,

Leopard – You can bet the farm that you’ll see a full featured demo and release date announced for the next incarnation of the Mac OS X. Leopard was featured early in 2006 and I blogged about some of the features after a conference this past summer. I’ll be buying to have the latest and greatest. But there really isn’t anything significant about the next release that I’m drooling over. Perhaps that will change with MacWorld.

iLife Upgrade – Without a doubt, this is the one thing that you can count on every year — an announcement of new features for Apple’s pride and joy on the OS X platform. It’s their “MS Office for your home life”. iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and Garageband should all receive sizeable upgrades. Not sure about iTunes.

Continue reading ‘On the Eve of MacWorld 2007’

07
Jan
07

January is a Great Time to be a Geek (The CES is nigh!)

(I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. My goal is to try and get something out at least twice a week. I appreciate all of the great support and comments for RDM in 2006 and looking ahead to 2007 and beyond, I know that there are great things in store. Stay tuned.) And one of the ways that I know 2007 is going to be great is because….

January brings us the CES!! (Or Consumer Electronics Show, to the non-tech savvy.) January for most is a time of trying to stick to resolutions and starting new projects. But for the tech world, January is the time when all of the electronics companies announce the release of new products! (So basically, if you’re looking at buying that new plasma TV or MP3 player, hold off for a few weeks.) CES gives us a look at many of the electronics that we’ll be buying in the next year. Among the companies with a big presence this year will be Microsoft, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, LG and, my personal favorite, Samsung.

There’s no way that I could do justice to covering even a tenth of CES products. I’ll leave that to the pros. For great coverage, check out Engadget and Gizmodo. They practically drain themselves out to give us a front row seat of all of the best that the show has to offer. Hopefully someday I’ll be at the center of that coverage.

Check back for coverage of some of the major announcements at CES. My sources say that this one will be particularly notable for an announcement coming from Microsoft around something non-Zune and non-Windows related. I have other leads that say that it might have something to do with a “Home Server Application” of some sort.

Besides CES, we have a few other events to look forward to. The launch of Windows Vista. The release of additional games for the PS3 (finally.) And the event that I’m most excited about — the one that makes January a time to really get excited — is a little show called MacWorld. I have a big prediction about MacWorld that is completely off the wall (but more on that in the following post.)

Ah…January. What a time to be alive for those who gravitate towards the gadgets.

(CES logo courtesy of Kotaku.com)