Went to see Martin Scorsese's new concert film Shine A Light with the Rolling Stones, and I have to admit the aged rockers put on a good show. Sure, Mick and Keith's life-long love affair with the blues is still going strong, but their music has become strangely soulless. They jump around, make faces, and the energy level is high, but I didn't care. I've seen it all before, better--the Rolling Stones are now just a machine, reveling in their own outlaw, devil-may-care ethos, a mere simulation of their former selves. Kinda makes me glad the … Read more
The CD may be on its way out, but music and concert DVDs are doing just fine, thank you very much! Late last year I wrote a feature for Home Entertainment magazine running down some of my favorite music DVDs of all time. They were all "live" recordings--there wasn't a single MTV style "music video" in the bunch. This is an abridged version of the article, check the Home Entertainment website to check out the complete article. Oh, and I've added a few DVDs that didn't make the article.
With a … Read more
On Sunday, I went to a meet organized by Head-Fi, a national headphone club.
The vibe at the Bayside, New York, event was relaxed as I sampled the mind-expanding sounds of Grado, Sennheiser, AKG, and Stax headphones, driven by awesome headphone amplifiers, some of which were commercial products. Some were one-offs, built by their proud owners.
A few of the amps were portables, and the standout was the superslim MiniBox D ($79) from Head-Direct. This little thing pumps up the power of iPods with amazing gusto, and while listening to Head-Direct's Yuin PK2 earbuds ($79), the sound was remarkably … Read more
[Friday, March 20th]
Planon's DocuPen RC800 ($299.00) is a handheld portable scanner. At about the length of a straw, the thickness of a cigar, and weighing less than 2 ounces, it's indeed very portable. It works on battery power, with its own built-in memory, completely untethered from any computer. This means you can scan items whenever and wherever you and your DocuPen may be, even if there is no computer in sight. Later, when you are back at your desk, you transfer the scans to your Mac (via a USB connection). Unlike most … Read more
In my previous blog posts titled "Disappointed with DirecTV" (part 1, part 2) I described the problems I've had getting my DirecTV equipment upgraded for compatibility with the company's new MPEG-4 satellite broadcasts.
Today, I'll be reviewing the centerpiece of this upgrade: DirecTV's HR21-700 digital video recorder (DVR).
Since there's a great summary of the features of this product in this PDF from dbstalk.com, I won't try to rehash all the details. But I do want to describe my experiences using this gizmo, and compare it directly to my older HR10-250 … Read more
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Super Smash Bros Brawl expecting more of the same. Instead of a compelling storyline and an interesting platform-esque experience, I expected a Melee redux. Instead of a slew of characters and fantastic combo moves, I expected another button masher. Instead of one of the best games released this year, I expected an average title that does little to push the series forward. I was wrong.
Let me get this out of the way -- Super Smash Bros Brawl is a fantastic game that you should buy as soon as you can come up with the $50 (and Wii) it takes to play this title.
Super Smash Bros Brawl is the result of years of time and effort put into a game that does all of the big things right and only fails on some of the smaller, less important facets of the title. And it's that dynamic that not only propels this title to instant greatness, but helps set a new tone in the industry.… Read more
I posted the general outline of my problems with a DirecTV upgrade a few days ago. Now for some of the details.
When DirecTV called me in February to talk me into upgrading my hardware, I had three pieces of equipment in operation: a dish antenna configured to receive signals from DirecTV's three older satellites, an RCA DTC100 HD receiver in my bedroom, and a Hughes HR10-250 HD TiVo DVR (digital video recorder) in my living room.
DirecTV made a simple offer: if I simply said "yes," they'd send out a professional installer with a new … Read more
DirecTV is in the middle of a long-planned upgrade to new satellite broadcast technology. The company has launched new satellites that use MPEG-4 video compression to carry an ever-increasing number of HDTV stations, both local and national.
I've been a DirecTV subscriber for many years. In fact, I signed up in 2000 because I wanted to take a look at the then-new RCA DTC100 HD receiver. I didn't even have an HDTV, but I did have a high-quality 21" CRT computer monitor that the DTC100 could drive. It wasn't good for large audiences, but for one … Read more
MA Recordings is a one-man show. Todd Garfinkle is MA Recordings' sole producer, recording and editing engineer. He also handles the label's art direction, which is spectacular. MA is a trans-cultural jazz and classical label, and Garfinkle has been crisscrossing the globe recording music since 1988.
Garfinkle always tries to record in large, acoustically interesting classical concert halls, churches and galleries. "MA" is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character which means "space" or "interval," and Garfinkle believes these acoustic spaces are an intrinsic part of the not only the sound, but also … Read more
Today is the tenth anniversary of the official death of Apple's Newton, the world's first PDA (personal digital assistant). There were pocket computers before the Newton, but the Newton was the first device to target PDA functionality so specifically.
The original Newton MessagePad was not a very practical product. Its handwriting recognition was inadequate, its processor was too slow, its local storage was too small. But the ultimate Newton, the MessagePad 2100, was glorious. It was powerful, reliable, easy to use, and surprisingly expandable with third-party hardware and software.
I used a MessagePad 2100 from 1997 to 2004, … Read more