Hey, Musicians: Time to Embark on That Solo Career

AppleJust finished watching Stevie’s Macworld keynote speech, and holy crap, iLife just took a huge leap forward. The updates to the core programs — iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD — are all well and good, but hands-down, the most kick-ass addition is GarageBand.

I swear, several of us were watching the webcast, and were sure he’d transitioned away from taking about iLife. After all, there’s no way an app this cool (demonstrated on stage by John Mayer) could be included in Apple’s giveaway package (okay, $49 for the rest of us, but bundled in with the new machines). Man, I’d use this for the Soundtrack-based loop functionality alone, but this is a serious excuse to start flexing my fingers and picking up a keyboard again.

The advantage of watching the speech with my boss was instant approval for a couple of copies of iLife. In fact, she admonished me to preorder them, so there wouldn’t be any wait come the January 16th release date.

Let’s see, what else was there worth mentioning?

I enjoyed seeing the old 1984 commercial, but now it’s just starting to make me feel old. Particularly Steve’s crack about several audience members not having been born when the ad first aired.

Final Cut Express 2... fine, but I’m already seeing pushback on why we need Final Cut Pro; I suppose that’s the disadvantage of watching it with the boss.

Fuck Microsoft!The MS Office 2004 improvements... well, okay, for work, maybe, but nothing I’m gonna run out for on my own. Besides, maybe it was just us, but when the Microsoft folks started presenting, the streaming video started stuttering like mad. As soon as they were done, all better. Maybe their robotic circuitry was interfering with the equipment...

The profile of the Virginia Tech supercomputer was pretty sweet. But given its emphasis in the video, I though for sure Steve was going to roll out a new desktop-level InfiniBand networking standard afterward — something which might have served me well in the video arena. Oh, well, I suppose you can’t have everything.

The XServe and XServe RAID upgrades just pissed me off. Not that there was anything wrong with the systems, but it reminded me how our own IT department is dragging its feet getting us any sort of networked backup system. And why the hell are they pushing for a $40,000 solution when — at least to me — it looks like we can get the same damn thing from Apple for what would appear to be less than half that?

I can’t think of how many times I’ve tried to find Billboard chart info on-line. And here Apple bundles it into the iTunes Music Store. Hot damn. Wait a minute... between this and the “iTunes Essentials” lists, I don’t know if my wallet’s going to be as happy as I am. Guess I’ll have to drink a lot of Pepsi come February.

The iMovie and iPhoto updates sound pretty routine to me — certainly not enough to inspire the awe Elijah Wood and Tony Hawk displayed. Nice, to be sure, but not fantastic. On the other hand, the new compression capabilities of iDVD sound good — though I’ll have to see how it looks to be sure (I’m fairly critical in that regard). If it works, two hours would certainly be an improvement over the current 90-minute cap. Frankly, I’m more jazzed about the ability to run iDVD on a machine without a SuperDrive. In other words, I could put together a DVD project on Murphy, then bring it into the office to burn. Okay, so I’d much rather be working with DVD Studio Pro (I still don’t see anything about anamorphic video support in iDVD), but this is a start.

And then there’s the iPod Mini. I suppose it works for the folks who really need something more stable than the hard-drive-based iPod — say, for jogging. But it seems a little counterintuitive when you realize that for $50 more, you could more than triple your storage capacity. If they’d priced it below the $200 mark, I could see it, but as it is, I’m skeptical about its potential.

And I guess that’s it. A worthwhile use of my two-hours-plus, but nothing approaching the “wow” factor we’ve had in years past.

Well, except for GarageBand, that is. Time to start tuning up...


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