Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Technology”

No, really, what do you use that iPad for?

Today’s announcement of the new iPad got me thinking about the iPad. I’ve used one (a couple if I must be totally honest) before, and they’re pretty cool, I guess, but I just don’t see the point. I mean, it’s a nice, slick, expensive status symbol, but what the hell is the use? The times I’ve played with one, I get pretty bored after just a few minutes. It seems to me to be in this in between place in terms of electronics where the usefulness of the device is in question. I have a phone to make calls and send text messages and get my e-mail while on the go and to send jokes to Twitter and listen to my cached Spotify playlist. Great. I use that thing all the time. And then I have a laptop which I use for more serious computing or when I prefer to have a physical keyboard: writing, editing at sessions and the office, processing photos on vacation, dealing with e-mails that require more than a curt response, browsing the interwebs, writing posts on this blog, whatever. Additionally, I have a Mac Pro at home that I use for heavy lifting tasks: editing real things, heavy photo work, After Effects, Logic, Reason, color correction, dual-boot Windows tasks (Hi, Steam!), and anything else I prefer to have a real monitor for.

So, what exactly, in my life, would I use an iPad—or any other tablet, really—for? I just don’t know. Besides playing iPad-specific games and using iPad-specific apps, I can’t think of a single task the iPad is better suited for than my other devices. Calls? Phone. Writing? Laptop or tower. Editing? Laptop or tower. Text messages? Phone. E-reader? Kindle. There’s only one thing I can think of that the iPad would be perfectly suited for: reading comics. But do I read enough comics to justify spending 500 bucks at minimum on an iPad? Hell no. I haven’t spent more than a hundred bucks tops on comics in the last decade. Not exactly worth the additional expense.

On the flight to and from Breckenridge recently, I sat next to my executive producer and she watched numerous episodes of a television show called Luther on her iPad. That was pretty cool, I suppose, but I would never use it that way. I loathe watching films and television on little screens. I find it to be immensely displeasurable. If I cannot watch in on my television at home, from the sofa, with awesome sound, I pretty much don’t want to watch it. That preference right there is one of the things that has kept me from piracy for so long. I feel no moral qualms about stealing from movie studios; I just don’t want to sit at the desk or stare at my laptop to watch films. Meh. No thanks.

“But, Joe,” you say, “build a home theatre pc. Or hook your laptop to the TV!” Don’t think I haven’t thought about the former. The only thing that has prevented me from doing so is that I have particularly expensive taste and won’t do it unless I build myself a totally pimp HTPC. For that we’re looking at a solid 800 bucks to a grand. Too much to throw at something that actively prevents me from being productive. I struggle enough with getting things done. The last thing I need is something else to prevent me from getting work done. Netflix on the PS3 is bad enough already. Steam too. And to address the latter point, whatever. What am I, living in a dorm room? Give me a break. Get real.

My friend Charles has an iPad, and is eagerly awaiting the release of the new one because of the enhanced display resolution. That makes total sense because Charles makes a living developing iPad applications. I was really excited about the release of Avid’s Media Composer 6 because of its enhanced AMA support, redesigned interface (trust me, it needed it), and 64-bitness. But were you excited about MC6? Of course you weren’t. You probably didn’t even know it was coming out, and, if you had, you wouldn’t have cared because you see no utility in it. I wish I was excited about the iPad, but I just am not.

That brings us around to the whole point of this post. What do you, my darling readers, use your iPads for? Fucking off on the internet? Watching videos and films? Listening to music? Composing e-mails? Making electronic music? Do you use it when you travel as a laptop substitute? Do you use it at home instead of owning a proper desktop computer? Do you live in the cloud? Do you like to read books off the back lit screen? I don’t. Do you use it as a personal media hub? I am not trying to be snarky. I really want to know how you use your iPad. Chime up in comments and tell me.

My time with Spotify.

If you know me and we chat on the IMs or in meatspace, then you’ve probably heard me talk about how much I like Spotify. Likewise, if you’re from the United States and spend even a little bit of time on the old interwebs, then you’ve heard about it too. And, if you’re from Europe, you’ve probably had an account for like a hundred years so shut the fuck up and read another post, you sanctimonious bastards.

If you don’t know (oh my god, who are you???), Spotify is the coolest newest bestest streaming music service that has just landed on our shores. A Swedish company, Europe’s had it for a few years, but let’s just think that they’ve been beta testing it for that period of time in order to make sure it really shone when they finally released it to the US market. Thanks, Europe!

Basically, the idea is that Spotify is iTunes that is hosted elsewhere. That’s it. You’ve got an application that looks and behaves basically like iTunes does but none of the music is stored on your hard drive. Instead it lives in the cloud, and, as such, requires a constant internet connection which might have been a pain in the ass a few years ago, but now is basically the same as having electricity. Now, imagine that you have a friend that has some ridiculous iTunes collection on his hard of many hundreds of gigabytes. And imagine that you can share this friends iTunes library all the time. Pretty cool right? Now take a step further and imagine that your friend has more than 15 million songs in his (or her) library and that, when playing them, you are not limited to just listening, but you can create playlists, make favorites, and share with your friends. That’s what Spotify is. Pretty rad, right?

I had signed up for the beta months ago thinking, “Oh man, another thing to have an account for. Great.” But curiosity got the best of me and I gave them my e-mail address and forgot about it for a while. Then and grooveshark and whatever other crap came around and I thought the same thing, “Oh great, another thing to have an account for.” So I ignored them. Still am. But then my Spotify beta invite came in the e-mail and I decided to give it a chance. I signed up for a free account and installed their client software.

And I wasn’t that impressed, to be perfectly honest. Though the selection was excellent, I hated that they played ads every few minutes. Worse was that the ads were very poorly targeted. I’d be listening to some heavy ass shit (duh) and four songs in I’d get an ad for some bullshit radio country album coming out soon. What the fuck? Terrible. At least do me the service of targeting ads properly if you’re going to be shoving them down my throat. The banner ads all over the client weren’t so bad and were no more obtrusive than ads on a website, but the audio ads were the worst. I didn’t really get the appeal. I played with it a couple days, connected my Facebook to it, and then went back to my iTunes/iPod combo which has been serving me admirably for years.

Then one day I logged in again and I saw that someone had sent me an album. “Holy shit!” I thought, “you can send people music on this thing?!” I hadn’t even noticed that I had an inbox. My mind was officially blown. Moments later I was a Spotify Premium member and I haven’t regretted it even once since then. The selection is amazing, the lack of ads with a paid account is amazing (Hulu, I’m looking at you, asshole), and the ability to send my brother or friends music is fucking AWESOME. It totally eliminates the hassles of sharing via FTP or Dropbox or whatever and it means that I can discover new music and immediately share it with someone I think will enjoy it. That rules. That rules hard.

Now that I’ve praised it effusively, let me pick apart some of the things I think they can do better.

First, I’d like it to be easier to find people and friends. Sure, you can connect it to your Facebook, but I’d like some function to search for people directly. There must be people I know who are on this thing who aren’t on Facebook or who haven’t connected their two accounts. It would make sense.

Second, I wish there was a better radio functionality. Yes, I am happy as a pig in shit with my thousands and thousands of songs in various playlists and I love being able to subscribe to other people’s playlists so they can curate, but sometimes I just want to turn the streaming thingie on and let someone else make those decisions for me. It would be a nice way to discover new music I might be overlooking.

Third, I would like there to be some easy way of browsing for new music instead of relying solely on the search function. It would be nice to be able to browse by artists alphabetically or by genre, by label, by year, by whatever. You get the idea. Instead of having to think of a band and then finding it, I’d like to be able to click around and stumble on things. Sure, you can find new bands through the “Related Artists” tab on a band’s profile, but the choices are typically few.

An addendum to that point—call it 3A—I would like to be have Spotify recommend artists to me based on what I am listening to. Let’s not fool ourselves, I understand that Spotify is tracking the HELL out of what I am listening to and reporting it to labels along with my generic personal info (male, lives in New York, 29, blah blah blah et cetera), and I am fine with that. But at least make it worthwhile to me and use the information about my listening habits to help me find new tunes. It’s not much too ask and I think it would enhance the service, especially because I am paying ten bucks a month for it.

Fifth, I wish the client application allowed for more playlist view customization. I’d like to be able to list by genre and year in my playlists so that I can start my Deicide playlist and listen chronologically through their oeuvre. Unfortunately for them, this means they’d also have to go through their considerable body of music and make sure that everything has its year tagged properly, which many records currently do not.

I think that’s everything. Overall my list is comprised of niggles and nothing at all that would destroy the user experience. If Spotify came through and added all those things, they wouldn’t be fixing something broken; they’d be enhancing something that is already totally awesome.

There you have it. 1200 words on why I like Spotify and why I think you would too. Interested in following me on Spotify and listening to my awesome playlists? Of course you are. Click the link below.

Follow me on Spotify

There you go. Come listen to Black Metal with me