Updated 5/10/2004
JT's Technology Watch
What's happening in the world of Technology.

Thursday, February 5, 2004

I've got music.

I now have my own GarageBand, there's music in my iLife. The M-Audio keyboard I ordered from Apple arrived this morning.

With GarageBand, Apple says, "Making music has never been so natural."

I agree.

Not that I'm a professional or anything, as I suspect most current or would be GarageBand users are (not), but I am something of a veteran when it comes to having experience poking around on synthesizers, and making music on my computer.

Not a whole lot came about in all my efforts over the years, besides the Electronic Music class I took over 15 years ago. That's where I really churned out some music (a whole two-thirds of one side of a cassette tape worth). In that class I had access to a real studio, where I'd stay up until the wee hours of the morning completing my "masterpieces" for the class. There were synthesizers, and a reel-to-reel on which I made my recordings. After that, I didn't make any more music because of all the effort it took. Without the studio, even though I had a 4-track Fostex multi-track cassette recorder, a Midi keyboard, and Midi software that turned it all into musical notation (and "vice-versa" allowing my computer to control the sound coming out of the keyboard) -- it was just too much work.

Enter GarageBand. It's hot. It's fun.

Get musical.

GarageBand creates a virtual studio that lets you jam on your favorite instrument with a virtual band as backup. So what if you sold your flute or never bought a piano? GarageBand lets you be a one man band.

Not that it won't take you some time to come up with something that won't unnerve your neighbors. It'll take time, and practice. But you'll have fun in the process. And instead of sounding like you're just getting started playing your instrument for the high-school band (though it could if you don't bring on the accompaniment), it'll sound like you've invited your friends over and started your own GarageBand.

Jam on!

GarageBand is currently only available to Apple Macintosh users. If you're not already, it's incentive to become one, I'm telling you.

GarageBand is part of the iLife package. It comes with 4 other great programs: iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD.

Buy the keyboard to go with it, you can't effectively make music without it. The one I got (pictured at top) works great and costs only $99.

For more information about GarageBand, visit the iLife page on the Apple website here.

Quote and images from apple.com, keyboard image from M-Audio

The Keyboard is an M-Audio Keystation, 49 Key Mobile USB Midi Controller: see M-Audio.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Two-thousand two-hundred (2200) Apple G5 processors power the world's 3rd fastest supercomputer in the world.

As of December, it's the most powerful supercomputer at any university in the world.

The Upgrade

On January 27, The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University said it has plans to upgrade it's supercomputer that uses Apple Computer Inc.'s PowerMac G5 computers with Apple's recently introduced Xserve G5 servers that have two chips in each box. The 1100 computer PowerMac to Xserve G5 swap will be complete by May.

"It cuts the system's size down by a factor of three," says Srinidhi Varadarajan, assistant professor of computer science, college of engineering, at Virginia Tech. "The new system will take much less power and generate less heat and free up space."

Rack 'em Up

Ever since I'd first heard about the installation I found it rather strange that they'd chosen to go with 1100 dual-processor desktop PowerMac G5's. They were in a hurry, apparently. Yes, that's all that was available at the time. The dual-processor 1U Xserve G5 rack systems certainly make more sense. Now that they're available, they're giving themselves an "upgrade". I'd say there's nothing like a multi-million dollar budget to purchase a new supercomputer every six months, now is there?


Watch a Quicktime Movie of the original PowerMac G5 installation here: Virginia Tech's Supercomputer

Read the orignial Reuters story here.

Check out the 64-bit Apple Xserve G5 here. (Apple touts it as "the classiest 1U server with dual 64-bit processors." I have to agree.)

Photo sources: Apple Computer, Inc. and Apple's Quicktime web site.

Friday, August 15, 2003

"Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want."

- Clive Barnes, New York Times, 1969

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Less than a decade away: turn your laptop or your PDA into a supercomputer. Plug-in to The Grid.

Seen at Mirror.co.uk:

A VAST system of linked super-computers called The Grid will revolutionise the internet by 2010.

Scientists predict in less than eight years [the grid] will become as essential to life as the web once was.

Found at nembis.com:

The web was born at CERN. Now, the particle physics lab is birthing the next major communications leap - a communications grid so advanced, that "no matter how primitive and cheap your computer, you will have access to more power than now exists in the Pentagon." In several years, it will become as essential as the web itself.

Other Resources

The Global Grid Forum, The Grid: The Next-Gen Internet? (Wired.com)

I'm thinking that there will be some rather amazing virtual reality applications coming out of Grid supercomputing as well.

Photos source: tue.nl Cursor/02

(Click photos for close-ups.)

Saturday, August 2, 2003

The file swapping heyday may be coming to a close. From my perspective, the best rule of thumb: if it's questionable ("grey area") don't do it.
An MTV.com article reports that the RIAA has obtained over 800 subpoenas [in June], with roughly 75 new subpoenas being approved each day. The list includes users who have shared as little as eight songs.

News Coverage

Congress proposed a new bill that would land a person in prison for five years and impose a fine of $250,000 for uploading a single file to peer-to-peer networks like KaZaA. The bill was introduced by Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.). As if the RIAA's attacks on file-swappers weren't enough.

Another bill was proposed last year which would protect copyright holders from liability if they impaired or disrupted the unauthorized distribution of their content on P2P networks. That bill is still being debated.

Other articles

New Bill Seeks Prison Time for File Swappers (Internet.com), Congress mulls prison terms for KaZaA users (Register.com)

These references were found at nembis.com

Also, in Wired: "Spanish Firms Target File Traders"

Photo source: CNN, "File-swapping 'Madster' must track songs"

Friday, August 1, 2003

Do you have something to say? Start a blog.

Seen at The Boston Globe:

That's the beauty of a ''blog'' (short for weblog), an online journal that can turn anyone with an Internet connection into a mini-media outlet. Blogs are easy to create, cheap to set up, and commonplace on the Web. They can draw thousands of readers per day and dozens of posted comments in a running conversation that [Oliver] Willis likes to think of as talk radio for the wired.

See The Boston Globe article titled "'Blogs' Shake the Political Discourse" here

Ballot box photo source: Jet City Orange photo blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Today the BBC News website has an article titled "Virus writers turn to spam." Viruses via spam doesn't sound like anything new to me, though perhaps viruses have become more prolific with spam.

My Apple Macintosh continues to be a Happy Mac (thus the retro smiley mac you see here). As I'd indicated on a previous post, it's been said that viruses are 625 times more likely on PCs than on Macs. See that post here.

I still run a Windows server though, and have had my share of virus trouble there -- one big episode just over a year ago. I'm crossing my fingers and keeping things up-to-date as much as I can, but IMHO you never can know what Microsoft Windows security vulnerability the malicious-minded will find and target next.

Here's another entry I've made that touches on the topic of Viruses:

[Hoax] Hackers Offered Most Points to Hack a Mac

Read the BBC News article titled "Virus writers turn to spam" here.

"No Spam" image source: cottagesoft.com

The smiley Mac image came from: The 68k Mac Revival Computer Museum.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It's fun to see that the G4 Cube is alive and selling (not from Apple, but in the "resale" market). It's a cool rig. No fans, no noise, and rather than hide it like many PCs, it's a computer you don't mind showing off.

Apple G4 Cube image source: 001abc.com

Monday, July 28, 2003

It sounds like Napster is coming back to life, logo and all, albeit seemingly more a cousin then a sibling.

Funny thing how they'll be releasing Napster 2.0. Does it really warrant version 2.0? I suppose we'll have to watch and see. Maybe they'll surprise us.

Roxio acquired pressplay, a joint venture of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, in May, six months after it bought the rights to Napster for about $5 million. The company hopes to generate interest and sales off what is arguably the most recognizable brand name in online music.

Read the Wired article here.

The Napster logo was found here: albino-chua.blogspot.com

Monday, July 21, 2003

There was an interesting article about patents on The Financial Page of the latest issue of The New Yorker. The article's author, James Surowiecki, refers to the following recent-patent related activities by today's companies:

Priceline patented its reverse-auction method for selling cut-rate airline tickets. I.B.M. patented a method for keeping track of people waiting in line for the bathroom. Last month, Netflix, a company that runs an online DVD-rental subscription service, got a patent covering, among other things, the way its customers request titles and the way it sends out DVDs. And eBay is now in court appealing a verdict that it infringed on a Virginia man's patent. The crime? Selling auctioned items at a fixed price.

Granted, I'm no expert in the field of intellectual property but I do have opinions on the topic of patents. Mr. Surowiecki suggests that patent laws are being abused or "bent" (hence the article title "Patent Bending").

It may be only because I'd said I'd wanted to be an inventor as a kid, and the fact that I believe my future will greatly benefit from the patents I ultimately acquire, but from my perspective Patents foster creativity and innovation.

What do you think?

Read the New Yorker article titled "Patent Bending" here.

The New Yorker cover source: The New Yorker web site.

Gizmos image source: VDMA Germany

Patent micro-detail image source: the Northwestern University patents web site.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Seeing how as I'd made an entry titled [Hoax] Hackers Offered Most Points to Hack a Mac on July 3rd, I feel it's important that the true nature and dynamics of the "Hackers Defacement Challenge" be reavealed.

I had my suspicions about this contest, and was rather suprised about how much publicity it was getting. It's clear now that this so called "Defacement Challenge" was in actuality a hoax, leveraging FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that the news media ate up and spewed out.

Richard Forno and Brian Martin do a good job detailing the hoax, so I direct you to their page if you're interested in further commentary. You'll find that they include a very thorough timeline, plus links to a couple of good resources if you're ever in need of determining whether there may be an actual threat. See Deconstructing the Defacer Challenge Hoax/FUD for all of the details.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I like this one:
... at 7:12 the 250 mobsters broke into spontaneous, thunderous applause for 15 seconds. Then, its job done, the mob dispersed.

Here are some of the details:

The net is being used to summon up spontaneous crowds that are being put to artistic, charitable and social ends.

The craze began in New York in June.

Many of the city's net literati were invited by e-mail to take part in an art event that called itself the Mob Project.

The e-mail asked people to synchronise their watches and wait at 7pm in one of four of Manhattan's bars.

The first mob, which involved 100 people, convened in the ninth floor rug department of Macy's department store and gathered round one particular carpet. [As far as I know, they were not naked, as those in this picture.]

Any member of the mob approached by a sales clerk was told to say they all lived together in a warehouse on the outskirts of New York and wanted a love rug to play on.

The second mob, of 250 people, took place on 2 July and initially gathered in Grand Central Station. [Policed moved them to the Hyatt and at 7:12 the 250 mobsters broke into spontaneous, thunderous applause for 15 seconds.]

I'd like to get in on some of these (though not likely one of the "nude art" ones, as pictured above). Seeing how as there's no mention of Denver/Boulder in the article I'd probably have to initiate it myself, or catch one the next time I'm in San Francisco... we'll see. Though, seeing as it's a fairly new phenomenon who knows whether it'll last, or perhaps more importantly where it will lead. There's a creative element here that sparks my imagination, how about yours?

See the full BBC News article here.

Images: BBC News

Friday, July 11, 2003

Virus consultancy and software firm Sophos states in a Marcworld UK report that just 0.16 percent of the viruses reported to the company were Mac-specific. According to Ron Carlson of "Insanely Great Mac" and the Sophos story, that makes PCs 625 times more likely to become infected by a virus.
"The greatest inconvenience for Macintosh users is likely to be receiving harmless email-attached viruses from infected PC users," Macworld UK writes. "The only other viruses that are generally found on Macs are Microsoft Word macro viruses ... [and] these are a minor annoyance rather than the catastrophic PC viruses, such as the Bugbear-B and the slammer virus."

Read the full article here.

IMHO, many of the things people think are viruses are just computer glitches. That's not to say you shouldn't protect yourself (I occasionally let Virex run automatically on startup). But if something happens to your computer (and it's a Mac), unless you have solid evidence, chances are it's something besides a virus. Click here to see my entry titled "Hackers Offered Most Points to Hack a Mac" for some thoughts and experience I have along these lines.

Article found at IGM, Insanely Great Mac.

The smiley Mac image came from the The 68k Mac Revival Computer Museum.

Adam Curry's making use of the latest technologies. See him here taking a picture on the job, from a helicopter, with his Nokia 3650 phone. He apparently makes entries to his blog via the phone, in the helicopter, from time to time. He writes:

After a plea on my dutch blog I've got several people now sending me sms messages on my cellphone when something worthwhile happens. I can receive those in flight reliably.

I wonder if he wrote this particular entry in the air? Though I'm admittedly new to the blogging world, I haven't yet ever heard anyone refer to themselves as a "bogger" (missing an "L"?), as he does in the title of this entry, "Thousand foot bogger".

Not Too Shabby

Regarding the picture-taking quality of these new phones: (I know there are lots of people that have them, but I don't yet), it looks pretty good. Click on the photo, or here to take a closer look.

Here are some other pictures taken from the air on Adam and his partner's helicopter outing yesterday (in Breda, Netherlands), though I'm rather certain these were taken using the Nikon camera shown in the above photo, not the Nokia phone.

Also, click here to see pictures taken yesterday above Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Read this entry of Adam Curry's weblog here.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

The G5 sounds like a nice kick in the a**.

Scientific Computing & Instrumentation magazine has named Apple's PowerMac G5 as its "editor's choice" for scientific applications. Even the though this much-hyped hardware has yet to ship, the publication heaps praise on the platform.

Access the article here.

G5 Laptop

I'll likely be lookin' for a G5 laptop though. It's hard for me to part with the mobility. Of course, I suppose all it would take for me is to see one in action. It's gotta be nice.

I can hardly wait to see what's next in software, with all that processing power behind it.

** (this is a note for the two asterisks at the beginning of this entry) Ok folks, you know how to spell aaa-sss-sss. I'm doing my best to keep all but the "JT's Beauties" section of this site completely "G-Rated", so bear with me. That being said, the Beauties section isn't much beyond "G" is it? Or does it approach "PG"? What's your opinion? Click the icon (to the right... not the one here) to send me your thoughts on this.

PowerPC G5 chip picture source: the G5 page on Apple's web site.

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Technology Index

Technology Watch

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h o t z a z # 1

Technology Index

GarageBand - Make Your Own Music, Play Your Favorite Instruments: Apple iLife for Macintosh


Apple G5 Supercomputer - World's Most Powerful University Supercomputer


Clive Barnes on Television

Supercomputing - The Grid: The Next Web Revolution

File Swappers Beware - Legislation & Legal Action

Blogs: Talk Radio for the Wired -- Blogs' Shake the Political Discourse

JULY 2003

Windows Viruses and Spam

Apple G4 Cube - Alive and Selling

Napster Version 2.0 -- Napster Comes Back To Life

Patents: Rewarding Innovation

Hackers Defacement Challenge: a Hoax

Technology Meets the Mob

PC Viruses 625 Times More Likely than on Macs

Holland's 1000 Foot Blogger

Scientists pick the G5

A.C. Clark - Advanced Technology

[Hoax] Hackers Offered Most Points to Hack a Mac

Laptop Sales Beat Desktops For The First Time

New 'TV's': Project into 'Thin Air'

JUNE 2003

World's Fastest Personal Computer

"Video-Phone's" Time Has Come -- Video Conferencing Made Easy

Net Identity -- Feature-Rich Email and Web Services

64 Bit Macs & Mac OS X

Best of The Web

Weblog-O-Rama, Hi Profile Bloggers, & David Winer

Cebuano Anyone? Translation On-The-Fly: Hindi to English

100% Up-Time DNS

What's a Blog? (Part I)

U.S. Computer Coach

Moving to India

The Land of Blog -- Sudden Impact

Dot Pro - Confidential Quid Pro Quo


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