Friday, February 25, 2005

Can You Hear Me Now??

Cell phones are everywhere, soon to be absolutely everywhere. I don't mind, I sorta like them. I enjoy my cell phone, and feel they are inevitable. However, there is a problem. People seem to get slightly confused when they use them. As if it takes a bit more thought then using a traditional phone. People act downright funny on their cell phones. Well, this creates a problem. It seems that people just don't know how to act when they're talking into a cell phone. Well, here are my thoughts on Cell phone usage and etiquette.
First I'll start with the walkie-talkie phones. For those who are not familiar with it, it's a cell phone that also works as a walkie-talkie for small groups, usually families. If you have one, stop using it. They are the most obnoxious thing ever. Ever been in a store, and suddenly you hear the tell tale beep of the walkie-talkie phone about to kick on. And out the phone comes the voice of the over bearing wife of a man trying to get away from his family on a shopping trip: "where are you? What are you doing." All of this, both sides, or multiple sides of the conversation is amplified for you to hear. It's bad when you have to listen to one side of an uncomfortable conversation, but both? When the walkie-talkie beeps, nothing good can ever come next. If someone needs to be in contact with you so urgently, that they can not even dial your number first, then chances are they are a pain in the ass.
Next, and this is important. All cell phones use something called compression. What this does is takes volume dynamics away, in order to make the signal simpler, and easier to digitize. What does this mean to you and your cell phone? It mean, no matter how loud you talk into you phone, it doesn't change how loud you sound on the other end. So, NO YELLING into your cell phone. It doesn't make you any louder on the other side. If someone is having trouble hearing you, wait a few seconds and hopefully the signal will improve. Screaming what you just said into the phone again, will not work, and if they do happen to hear you or understand you, it is coincidence, and has nothing to do with your yelling into the phone.
As a matter of fact everyone will be a lot better off if we all speak in a calm and civil voice at a reasonable volume when speaking on our cell phones in public. Speak as if the person is there with you, don't speak loudly.
Turn off you phone! The off button is the only thing that may save mankind. Turn it off at least once a day. Turn it off in theaters, church, when dining, and at any kind of performances. Once you get in the habit of turning it off sometimes, and on others, you'll find it even more convenient then ever.
Soon everyone will have cell phones, all over the world. So, get used to it! And the sooner we all figure out how to have one and use one with courtesy, they better off we all will be.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Airlines Don't Lose Your Luggage

Airlines don't loses your luggage anymore. They know exactly where it is. Even if it's not with you, someone put it there, and there was a reason for it. Anyway, I recently flew international for the first time in a while. And while the airline did not lose my luggage, but they did lose me.

Friday, February 11, 2005

i-tunes, i-pod, i-don't know about this

My i-Tunes doesn't work. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. First let me say that I was initially very skeptical about i-tunes. The idea of 1 computer company selling all the music is even scarier then 3 entertainment corporations. But that never really happened, so many copy cat and competing services have popped up, that Apple market dominance again seems fleeting. Hell, wall-mart is selling MP3s.

Ok, speaking of Mp3s, they suck. They sound bad. I've said it all along, they sound better now then they did 5 years ago, but they still sound bad. Who would have thought that a digital format that is worse then CD would come along and replace it. It's a well known and held fact that they are a step back in sound quality, but, people are willing to give that up for convince, so, oh well, I decided to jump on board.

I happen to own a Macintosh G4. Some people who know me will be giggling right now. I have used PCs just about all of my life, I own 3 or 4 of them currently, that are strewn about my house performing their own little duties, but when buying a used digital recording system I acquired a Mac. It's rather an amazing little thing. Though I have not really experienced the worry free use that Mac zealots talk about. I have had several spooky glitches. But I still run Windows ME on one of my boxes, I've had the same install on there for 5 years, so I know how to roll with the punches. Speaking of these glitches, MY I-TUNES DOESN'T WORK!

Here's the irony, this particular Mac runs Protools, the industry standard for digital recording and makes and plays back high quality digital recordings, but i-tunes sounds distorted and flat. I have a $800 audio interphase, which I use to monitor protools sessions, and when I set the i-i-tunes to use that, still sounds like shit. This machine is in my recording studio, it is not the power amp, preamp or JBL studio monitors. It's the software.

I have heard other people's i-tunes, and they sound ok. Normal MP3s. I have listened to the same MP3s on another machine, sounds ok. I have
made new MP3s with the i-tunes, sounds like crap. I have had local Mac recording guru Chris DeCato come over and check it out, fool with the settings, click this, click that. Chris has been doing digital recording since day one on his Amiga, and switched to Macintosh soon there after. He has recorded and/or mastered 500 CDs, he has been know to be in a studio and shame the on-hand digidesigns consultant by figuring out the problem before they can. His conclusion, "I don't know, man, I've never seen anything like that."

So, my i-tunes sounds like crap. And I honestly can't figure out why. But I have been itching to make low quality copies of my CDs and pack them onto my laptop hard drive and have some geeky fun. Take it to work, in the car, make playlists, maybe even buy a portable MP3 player. The i-pod certainly seems like a barrel full of monkeys. It's still a little pricey, and I won't be getting one soon.

In conclusion I am still waiting for the one. I am waiting to recapture the feeling I had when I walked into my friend Matt's home office 6 years ago and heard winamp playlists pouring songs out freely, and thought, wow, I've gotta do that too. Oh well. I think I'll go fire up the Technics SL-1800MK2 through my tube stereo and listen to some Steely Dan records.