My wife’s new gold Retina Macbook was delivered today and here’s my initial thoughts from playing with it a bit.

  • It’s beautiful, but that’s expected at this point.
  • My 13″ Macbook Air looks pretty huge next to the Retina Macbook.
  • It only comes with the “wall wart” part of the typical Apple charger.  There’s no long cable included.
  • The USB-C connector is pretty small, smaller than I expected.  It’s very close in size and shape to lightning, which will probably cause some confusion.  It’s a nice looking connector for something that came out of the USB group.
  • The cable used for charging is the same connector on both ends, which is kinda neat.
  • As reviewers have pointed out, the keyboard is definitely weird.  That will take some getting used to.  I’m not a fan of the change to the arrow keys, which serves no purpose I can see but is interfering with my muscle memory.
  • The fake “click” of the trackpad generated by the internal motor is very convincing.  Regular people will not realize anything has changed.
  • It came with gold apple logo stickers in the box instead of white.  Are those new?

 

QuNeo was the first Kickstarter project I ever funded and I just got mine in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve only had a few hours to spend with it, but that’s been enough to get a feel for what it’s capable of and what it will do for my setup.

I play live laptop/keyboards/synths/drum machine in a rock-tronic band called Thrillouette in San Francisco.  The setup is primarily Ableton Live on a laptop with some midi controllers plugged into it for live control.  The controllers include a Softstep from Keith McMillen, the people who make the QuNeo, as well as an Akai MPD32.  The QuNeo is expected to replace the MPD32 so I’m going to do a quick comparison of the two.

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Now that Maddox is 6 months old he’s much more sensitive to sound while he’s sleeping. As a result there’s been a lot more quiet time around our house. To fill that quiet time we’ve been spending more time reading. Whenever I read more it reminds me how much more satisfying time spent reading can be compared to watching the tube or playing games.

To help Vida read more easily while encumbered with an attached child, I bought her a Kindle 2 from Amazon. I’ve seen several complaints that the Kindle should have a bigger screen, a touch screen, no keyboard, less text on the device itself, blah blah… But the fact is the Kindle makes you want to read more and it makes it easier to find stuff to read as well. When you consider its core function, it’s a major win all around. A color touchscreen the size and weight of a magazine would indeed be awesome, but the Kindle we have now is pretty great, too.

Last night before bed I wasted some time by looking through what was available in the iPhone installer application and I was surprised to see quite a lot of new and useful stuff in there. I previously wrote about installing ssh and a terminal application on my iPhone, and the Installer makes things even easier and it also lets you manage applications right on the iPhone. Sweet!

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Eeeeeenyway, I took that picture of my iPhone interface to show some of the neat customization you can do now. An application called Summerboard is the next step beyond the iPhone launcher (called Springboard, get it?) and it enables stuff like being able to scroll your set of application icons if they don’t all fit and lots more.

Here’s some stuff I’ve done…

  • Changed my ‘Theme’ to look sorta like the upcoming OS X, Leopard. It mostly just affected the background for the icons at the bottom of the screen.
  • Changed it to hold 5 icons instead of 4 at the bottom, and put Google Maps on there, which I use more than the iPod (but less than the others there).
  • I used a utility called XLaunch to remove the Stocks application from showing up at all. It’s easier for me to just load Google Finance in Safari.

You can also see some of the other applications I have installed at the moment. Navizon is an intriguing application that can provide GPS-like information for devices that don’t have a GPS chip based on WiFi and Cellular network information. I’ve heard very bad reviews and one good review so I have to give it a try myself. There’s also a native AIM client called MobileChat and a voice note recorder called VNotes.

A lot of this stuff is superfluous and doesn’t add that much more to the basic iPhone but the amount of developer activity happening without ANY support from Apple is pretty amazing to me. Apple is not going to be able to stop this and reeeeaaaallly needs to develop an official developer platform. I still assume it’s only a matter of time but a recent blog post by Wil Shipley has me a bit worried that the Apple I think I know has left me for another lover, or something. Honestly, Apple doesn’t even need to officially support iPhone development… they just need to stop wiping it every time they release a new firmware update.

Right now whenever a new firmware update for the iPhone is released installing it into an iPhone with 3rd party software causes iTunes to think your iPhone is somehow damaged and it forces a factory wipe and reset. It’s not as big of a deal as it sounds as most of the important stuff syncs over from the computer again BUT it is a pain in the butt and it’ll likely make me put off upgrading this next time around… and this is only the beginning. If this goes on for very many more times I might just decide I don’t need Apple’s update anymore. All the 3rd-party HACKERS (they can’t really be called developers until Apple embraces them) might end up providing me more value than Apple itself. Imagine that!

I did it. I bought a top of the line series 3 HD dual-tuner TiVo. It’s the best thing to ever happen to television. As a gadget, it’s pretty great. It also, however, pegs me as somebody willing to spend a pretty big chunk of money on enhancing my television entertainment.

After having a series 2 TiVo previously and having used the Comcast Motorola HD DVR box for over a year, I feel confident saying that as far as digitally recording high definition content (including premium content like HBO), nothing else out there touches the TiVo. The Comcast DVR records fine, shows look great and all that, but it’s just lacking the polish and finish the TiVo interface has. The ridiculous number of steps it takes to search for a program and set up a series recording on the Comcast DVR is mind numbing, and the way it dumps you back to the ‘live TV’ mode at odd times forcing you to dig through the menu system to get back to where you were is infuriating. It almost makes it a chore to watch television, and that’s exactly what watching television should never be.

I don’t think the TiVo interface is the end-all be-all of set-top DVR but it has very clearly had a lot of work put into it and it’s pleasant and almost fun to use. Oh, and wishlists. Yay for wishlists. With a nice set of wishlists and season passes set up, a TiVo almost makes the exorbitant prices Comcast charges for cable worth it. Almost.

I had been eyeing these things for awhile and finally decided to give myself an early Christmas present and get one. It was designed to be a sort of electronic conga drum and it has some very good conga sounds built-in (as well as several hundred other world and electronic sounds). The interface is split into 10 rubber pad areas and each one makes a different sound. Some of the pads can influence other pads to emulate things like holding one hand down on a drum while you hit it with the other. You get a different more muted sound. That works pretty well and if I was a better drummer I think it might sound pretty realistic.

It has inputs for a couple of external pedals so it can be closer to a full drum kit with the addition of kick and hihat pedals (but way more portable), and it has the nifty ‘D-Beam’ infrared controller for triggering sounds (like a big gong, blammo!) or affecting other sounds like fiddling with the pitch for some cool effects. It also has a somewhat interesting ‘Rhythm Coach’ that I’m hoping may help me actually be able to play some of these ethnic beats.

I played with it some today and it’s pretty fun so far. I’ll be using it live for the first time tomorrow (at the Be Nice Party one year anniversary) so hopefully I don’t embarrass myself too much. I was hoping to have more than a day to get to know it. Wish me luck!

I just found this today on the Slim Devices website. It’s a network digital music player called ‘Transporter‘. From the description it looks like it’s a beefed up version of their popular Squeezebox player. The Squeezeboxes cost about $250 to $300 each and this Transporter is $1999! It’s being targeted at audiophiles and it certainly sounds up to the task from the list of features. It won’t make your 128k mp3s sound any better but your library of FLAC files may sound better than ever before.