Monthly Archives: November 2011

And now for some obsessive behavior…

I thought that given that I had recently posted that Apple was the only company that cared about design (quoting Dieter Rams), and, well, because I can, I might do a little inventory of all the Macs that I have owned. I got my very first Mac (and very first computer!) in 1992 and it was a lovely little Classic II with 4 MB of RAM and and 80 MB hard drive (both of which were twice as much as the base version). It came with a SuperDrive (which, at that point, meant it could read 1.4 MB floppy disks and Windows formatted disks) and ran the very new System 7. This little Mac got me through seven years of graduate school. I still have it and it still works, although it makes a bizarre whooshing sound. The coolest thing is that it was able to do text-to-speech, so I had it read my dissertation data files out loud to me while I checked the paper forms. Excellent!

I also had two Apple StyleWriter printers (a I and and II, which were actually very pretty). And the Internet was a very new thing to regular people back in 1992; you could actually buy a Yellow Pages about 1″ thick that listed every website. I had to buy a giant external modem that ran at 9.6 kb/s, 2400 baud. (Talk about painfully slow….) I may have actually used AppleLink but I know I used AOL for a little while and then switched to Apple’s extra fancy eWorld (although I eventually let that go, too).

Next, in 1998, was a reconditioned, first-generation, Bondi Blue iMac, complete with the circular, “hockey puck” mouse (for which we had to buy an oblong cover so we could tell which way was up). Also, Steve Jobs decided floppies were dead, so there was only a CD-ROM drive. As such, we had to by an external, USB-driven floppy disk drive from Imation for what seemed an enormous amount of money. (We also bought a see-through Iomega Zip drive to sync with the next computer.)

After that, in 1999, I got an actual job where they actually bought me computers! My first professional Mac was a beige G3 PowerPC tower with a built-in Zip drive (thank you, BYU):

A couple of years later we inherited my sister’s iMac, a purple one with a slot-loading DVD drive, so we had two Macs on the desks at home. (Sadly, the Classic II was temporarily demoted to the closet.)

BYU then offered to get me a laptop, during my last year there, and this was the only time that I had a Windows PC in my possession. It was a dark, dark time. I think it looked something like this (but I can’t be sure — I’ve tried hard to put the whole thing out of my mind):

But then I got a job at lovely UVU, which has enthusiastically supported my Mac-centric way of being. My first Mac there was a titanium PowerBook. As far as I was concerned, that thing was so cool they might as well have made it out of solid diamond.

It was also when I moved to UVU that my Classic II came out of the closet and moved, along with the purple iMac, to the top of my filing cabinet at work. (Both of them still function.)

A few years later, UVU gave me a similar, aluminum PowerBook:

Around this time we got a nice, white MacBook for my wife, Jacque, to keep upstairs with us (as the two iMacs were in the basement office):

Then I traded in early for a smaller, 13″ MacBook (which works better on the bus, where it really is on your lap). This was during the 10 month period that the non-Pro MacBook wasn’t white but was aluminum. (Look closely and you’ll see there is no “Pro” on the bottom of the bezel.)

Then, when we moved from our house in Draper up to the Avenues in Salt Lake City, we gave away our Bondi Blue iMac (shed a tear or two…). Most recently, UVU replaced my non-Pro MacBook with a Pro 13″ (and they were kind enough to put an aftermarket 1 TB hard drive in it!). This is the one I have today:

And while we still have the white MacBook at home, it got bubble juice spilled on the keyboard (I’m waiting for a new top case from China so I can try fixing this) and, as it has only 1.5 GB of RAM, it can’t run Lion and, consequently, can’t use iCloud to sync our calendars and contacts. So, its days as a parental computer may be limited (but the kids will no doubt continue to play PBS Kids and Pirates Online with it, junking it up with all sorts of downloaded cruft). Jacque is actually the more technically spiffy of us at the exact moment, having a shiny new iPad 2 to essentially replace the white MacBook:

Also, Jacque and I have lovely new black and white iPhones (the 4S with Siri):

And, of course, there have been the iPods: A 30 GB third-generation (which died), a 60 GB fourth-generation iPod Photo (which we still use), a pink, 16 GB fifth-generation iPod Nano for Jacque, a first-gen Shuffle, a second-gen Shuffle, and a fourth-gen Shuffle (which the three kids use; no buttonless third-gen for us, thank you very much), and a first-gen iPod Touch. (Unfortunately I killed the screen on that one by dropping it in the water; however, it now lives permanently plugged into the iPod connector in our Honda Pilot, which lets us control it with the Navigation screen. Thank you, Honda, for making this a less-than-total disaster.)

And, as long as I’m being completely compulsive, a Mighty Mouse, two Magic Mice, and a wired keyboard.

And there you have it. We love our Apples and they love us. Thank you, Steve.

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The Only Company that Cares about Design

While I had my lunch in the lovely café space of the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, I watched a little of the film Objectified on my iPhone. (Living it up on the small screen!) I love this movie because it’s all about industrial design, a topic that I hold near and dear to my heart. Anyhow, in one part of the film, legendary designer Dieter Rams claims that there is only one company that truly cares about design. The answer? ………. Well, it’s Apple, of course. (Geez, did I really need to tell you that?) Anyhow, watch the film and you’ll see why he says that. And it’s something that I’ve long believed. You and me, Dieter, you and me.

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In Praise of Multitaskers

I’m listening right now to “Central Park in the Dark” by Charles Ives. And while he may not have been a multitasker in the purest sense, I love Ives because he was phenomenally successful in his music (even though much of it was never performed while he was alive) and in his day job as — of all things — an insurance agent. (In fact, I understand that Ives’ work in estate planning is taught to this day.) Nice to see the analytical and artistical (a neologism in the spirit of Ogden Nash) coexisting so nicely. I’ve always admired his music so much because he was just too enthusiastic to be restricted by things like harmony and time signatures — a joyful, exuberant cacophony. (See, especially, the “orchestral raspberry” at the bombastic end of his Symphony No. 2. You can see and hear Leonard Bernstein conducting this piece on YouTube right here. The fun begins at 11:30 (where the brass come in) and peaks at the very end, at 12:38. Whee!)

And, while we’re at it, it looks like Ives was also an accomplished athlete, having been the team captain and pitcher for the Hopkins Grammar School baseball team:

Way to go, Charles!

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Max Workshop @ Berkeley

In the realm of “you can always dream,” I learned that the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at Berkeley has summer workshops on Max/MSP/Jitter (see the 2011 announcement right here). It all looks very cool and I’d love to go. A few glitches, though: (1) two weeks is an awfully long time to be gone from home; and (2) even though July of 2012 (when I assume they will do it again) is after my sabbatical is done and I’m theoretically back on the subsidized travel clock, I’m not sure my ever-loving school (UVU) would want to give me more money to go off and learn things before I even get back in the classroom. So, maybe 2013, maybe never….

In the meantime, cast your eyes upon CNMAT’s excellent “Compact Spherical Loudspeaker Array,” which consists of 120 loudspeakers that are all of 1 inch each. The idea is that it can give directional sound like with acoustic instruments (and much more for the adventurous out there). It would also make an excellent replacement for the star on top of our Christmas tree.

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Gone Legit

One Dollar Bill

Well, sort of. But as of today I decided to act like a grown-up and give WordPress my money to make this lovely blog eponymous (or something like that). That is, no longer will it be known as but now it will go by the much more glamorous and professional Adjust your cyberworld orbits accordingly.

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Max & Me

A simple patch in the software Max

I just made my very first patch in Max (v. 6), otherwise known as Max/MSP/Jitter, which is brought to us by the fine people at Cycling ’74. I feel like a proud papa! (If you click on the circles — in Max, that is — they’ll light up in order of connection.) I’m just following along in V. J. Manzo’s book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music: A Practical Guide to Developing Interactive Music Systems for Education and More (where I’m part of the “and More” crowd). Here’s the book:

This is significant because I’m going to be taking a self-organized course next semester at the University of Utah in an attempt to learn how to (eventually) do data visualization with Max. Should be fun… and it’s very nice to be off and rolling!

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Art and the Psychological Scientist

I gave a talk yesterday to the Cognition and Neural Science PhD students in the Psychology Department at the University of Utah. My title was “Art and the Psychological Scientist” (PDF available here). I talked about data art, information visualization, and Processing, among other things. It was very nice to finally connect with the Psych department there. (I am, after all, a psychology professor.) A few of the students are developing a course on art and psychology and I’m excited to see what comes of that. (And, Martin, that’s why I left class after the quiz; I had to get ready!)

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Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial

I was just listening to Marian Anderson, the American contralto, and remembered hearing the story of her concert debacle/triumph in Washington, DC, in 1939. Anderson was considered the greatest contralto of her generation and she had had great success on the concert circuit in Europe. (Interestingly, she didn’t like to perform in operas, although she sang many opera arias in recital.) She was scheduled to sing in Constitution Hall in DC because it was the only place large enough to hold her audience. That is, until the Daughters of the American Revolution, who owned the hall, found out that Anderson was, well, you know, black, and there would be none of that in their hall, thank you very much. After much drama, Eleanor Roosevelt — who resigned from the DAR as a result of this — arranged for Anderson to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000. (You can see the performance on YouTube right here.) A very nice poke in the eye to the DAR and a huge success for Anderson and African-Americans. Plus, she’s an extraordinarily fabulous vocalist and it’s wonderful for her to get the audience she deserved.

And more power to the contraltos of the world!

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The Unbearable Non-Lightness of the Kindle Fire

So I just got my brand-spanking-new Kindle Fire in the mail today and you know what? That thing is the heaviest 14.6 ounces you’ll ever hold. It feels like it’s made of solid lead. What’s odd is that it objectively weighs less than my wife’s iPad 2 (which is about 30 ounces with its cover) but, subjectively, it feels twice as heavy. As a portable e-reader, it’s a complete fail. I’ve already ordered a regular Kindle Touch, which should be here next week. It weighs 7.5 ounces. That I can handle. Then the Fire’s going back. I didn’t even really get around to trying all the other stuff the Fire does — ‘cause, you know, my fingers broke holding it.

Ay yi yi….

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Playing "Spot the Typos"

For those of you who may be getting posts on Facebook every time I update a post, it must look like I have some kind of revolving door, given the number of times I have to edit my posts after they go up. Not very professional; I’ll try to do better. Then again, as the above picture makes clear, my problems could be much, much worse.

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