Tag Archives: audio

Apple competition in iPhone 3.0

There’s always the risk when developing for Mac OS X that Apple will compete directly with your product. iTunes, Mail, and Safari are high-profile examples, as well as the “lightning strikes twice” hit of Watson/Sherlock and Sandvox/iWeb. That history is “well documented”:http://www.karelia.com/news/small_and_nimble_the_long_s.html so I won’t repeat it here.

But when listening to the “Macworld podcast”:http://www.macworld.com/weblogs/mwpodcast.html a week ago (the episode with Dan Moren and Jason Snell back from the iPhone 3.0 announcement) it struck me that iPhone software is a little unique. They made the point, which I think is true for most software, that Apple’s offering is usually simple, full of holes that could be filled with new features from third-party developers. There is usually room for a developer with a unique twist on an idea to market and sell his solution to like-minded users, even if Apple ships a default good-enough app for most people.

Except there’s one pretty significant problem, especially on the iPhone. Apple cheats.

Third-party apps cannot run in the background. So it doesn’t matter how many features a recording app has that Apple won’t bother to implement, background recording is the killer feature that will always remain out of reach for developers.

Put another way, if the Apple app didn’t record in the background and a third-party app could, that third-party app would likely be worth $5-10 to many people for that one feature alone. But give Apple background recording and it doesn’t matter how many features another app adds — syncing music, FTPing to a server, multiple tracks, sound effects, more file formats — it’s going to be a challenge to convince users they need two recording apps. I expect some audio developers to overcompensate by adding every feature listed above and more to make up for the one feature they can’t have.

San Francisco podcast

My third podcast is about San Francisco. Download it here or subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes.

» Download (MP3, 16.8MB)

» Audio-only RSS feed (drag to iTunes)

I had a lot of fun putting this together, recording sounds in and around San Francisco. I used my MiniDisc RH-910 and Audio-Technica AT822 microphone. Turns out the MiniDisc was a pretty bad investment, though. It has been a real hassle to use, and I am eyeing the new Edirol R-09 as a replacement.

Go buy the music used in this podcast from Magnatune: Cargo Cult, Phoebe Carrai, and Arthur Yoria. They are building a great modern label that embraces what the internet is about instead of fighting it.

Also special thanks to the Marin County Free Library for permission to use a portion of the Arthur Giddings interview. Check out their site on the 1906 earthquake.

Other resources: Point Reyes, San Francisco Police 9-1-1 Tapes, 19th-Century California Sheet Music, WWDC 2006 Keynote.

Update: How could I leave out a link to Sketchcrawl.com? Also: Eadweard Muybridge, Enrico Casarosa, and Dorothea Lange.

The web is incomplete

When we use Google everyday and mostly work with technology and related topics that are well indexed, it’s easy to forget the truth: the web is horribly incomplete. I’ve been doing some research for an upcoming podcast and it’s very frustrating to encounter huge gaping voids in the internet where history, audio recordings, and photographs should be. Somewhere out there is an audio cassette tape recording that I’d like to hear, but it will probably gather dust in an attic for the next decade instead. It needs to be even easier for anyone to put everything they have online so that it can be preserved and shared. Already I think the current generation raised on instant messaging and the web may not realize that there’s a whole world out there that is outside the reach of our keyboards. At least I know I sometimes forget.

The other part of the problem is linkrot. And not just 404s, but old links to obsolete file formats that can no longer be accessed. I can’t even count how many links to .ram files I’ve clicked that result in an error. When your content requires a special server (RealAudio streaming server software, in this case), it’s only a matter of time before that content itself will die.

Now, the good news is that a simple MP3 file and static HTML file with JPEG images will be around forever. It requires no special server software, no dynamic processing of any kind, and client software is so widespread and open that it’s a guarantee you can access it 10 years later. The only missing piece of the puzzle is reliable non-expiring domain registration and hosting.

The bad news is the rise of centralized web applications and data stores. What happens when YouTube shuts down? Remember they burn through huge amounts of cash for bandwidth each month and seem to have few options for becoming profitable. I feel better about Flickr, because they get it, but “Yahoo! has been known”:http://www.manton.org/2002/07/yahoo_mail.html to not treat data longevity seriously.

Video Games podcast

My second podcast episode is about video game music. You can download it here, or subscribe to the new podcast feed in iTunes.

» Download (MP3, 13.4MB)

» “Audio-only RSS feed”:http://www.manton.org/audio.xml (drag to iTunes)

I started working on this last year but it quickly became too ambitious and stalled. I picked it up again just a couple of days ago, simplified it considerably, and got it done. As usual, I learned a bunch, and look forward to improving a few things for the next one. Enjoy!

And some related links for the topic covered:

Buy at Amazon: “Lumines”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/B0007VDF22&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325, “Electroplankton”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/B000CI8EXA&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325, “Katamari Damacy”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/B0002Y2XXQ&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325

All games at Gamespot: “Zelda”:http://www.gamespot.com/nes/adventure/legendofzelda/, “Tetris”:http://www.gamespot.com/gameboy/puzzle/tetris/, “Super Mario World”:http://www.gamespot.com/snes/action/supermarioworld/, “Super Metroid”:http://www.gamespot.com/snes/action/supermetroid/, “Ys Book I & II”:http://www.gamespot.com/turbocd/rpg/ysbookiii/, “Myst”:http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/myst/, “Electroplankton”:http://www.gamespot.com/ds/puzzle/electroplankton/, “Ocarina of Time”:http://www.gamespot.com/n64/adventure/legendofzeldaoot/, “Lumines”:http://www.gamespot.com/psp/puzzle/lumines/, “Myth”:http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/myththefallenlords/, “Katamari Damacy”:http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/katamaridamashii/

Remix credits: “Super Mario World by Jason Cox”:http://www.archive.org/audio/audio-details-db.php?collection=opensource_audio&collectionid=xoc_SMW, “Super Metroid by The Wingless”:http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR01048/

Game history: “TurboGrafx-16”:http://www.classicgaming.com/museum/tg16/, “Ys I and II (Classic Gaming)”:http://www.classicgaming.com/ninjagaiden/ys/music/ys12pce.html, “Ys I and II (PC Engine Bible)”:http://pcenginebible.roarvgm.com/HTML_Games/Ys_I_II.htm

Music archives: “VGMusic.com”:http://www.vgmusic.com/, “Zophar’s Game Music Archives”:http://www.zophar.net/music.html

More links: “Composing with Electroplankton”:http://www.milezero.org/index.cgi/gaming/society/art/composing_with_electroplankton_toc.html, “Video game music emulators”:http://www.bannister.org/software/vgmusic.htm, “Bungie’s Myth”:http://www.altpop.com/stc/reviews/myth.htm, “Myth II demo”:http://projectmagma.net/what/, “Ocarina instrument”:http://www.songbirdocarina.com/