Posts from October 2010

  • As If I Didn't Have Enough Hobbies

    People who know me well know I’m rather obsessed with music. I love listening to it, I love singing, and I love playing it (mainly on my accoustic guitar, and badly at that). But my playing has always been of the incredibly amateur, self-taught variety… ie, I can fingerpick a simple song or play a decent set of chords, but dear god don’t ask me to improvise on the spot.

    That said, I do sometimes find myself plucking out melodies and playing around a bit with composition. Nothing serious, mind you, and entirely ephemeral, as I never actually record what I’m doing, but I do enjoy the activity, as I find it incredibly organic and instinctive.

    Well, recently, on a whim, I decided to see what was available for music composition applications for my Touch. If you’ve actually read anything on this blog (and odds are you haven’t), you may have heard I picked up a 4g iPod Touch recently, and have been having a great time discovering great applications for making my life easier (Appigo Todo, Trunk Notes, and a ton of others). Well, it turns out there’s also an absolutely unbelievable DAW for iDevices: NanoStudio. And by unbelievable, I mean a full-blown music studio sporting:

    • A powerful drum machine that supports 2 tracks and 4 buses, with a ton of options for pad configuration.
    • 4 full synthesizers with 10 different effects available (and 128 stock presets), X-Y pad controls, a pitch wheel, and a patch panel for tying them all together.
    • A complete multitrack sequencer.
    • A mixer for adjusting the levels on all these lovely things.
    • Support for resampling output, which you can then tie back to the synth or drum machine.
    • Probably tons of other stuff.

    And because it’s all done via a simple touch-based interface, the workflow is dead simple and incredibly natural. And being portable, it means you can compose wherever and whenever you feel like it.

    Suddenly I feel unleashed! Creating music on this thing is unbelievably easy… instead of my clumsy hands limiting my creativity, the only thing stopping me is my brain and my need for sleep (and, I kid you not, killing time with this is way too easy… like, hours disappearing without my noticing).

    So if you’re at all interested in music composition, check NanoStudio out. At $15 it’s an absolute steal. And going forward, the author has plenty of enhancements in the hopper, not to mention a full iPad version in the works (quite honestly, this might be the killer app for me that triggers my investment in an iPad).

  • On the Apple Bandwagon

    Well, I finally did it. A couple weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and replaced my aging Palm TX with a brand spanking new fourth generation iPod Touch.

    And so far? Fabulous.

    I’d been reluctant to buy a device to replace my old Palm, as none of the new hardware seemed all that compelling. The Palm, with its 480x360 screen, has been comparable to anything on the market for a long long time. And from a software standpoint, it already handled what I did most with it: read.

    But with the new Touch, with it’s gorgeous 960x640 screen, I finally had a reason to migrate. And in doing so, I realized just how much the limitations of the TX were preventing me from truly using the device.

    In particular, with the Touch, I suddenly find myself using it to:

    • Read and write emails.
    • Check and post to facebook.
    • Chat online with people on Facebook and Google chat.
    • Browse the web.
    • Follow my RSS feeds.
    • Track my TODO items.
    • Keep notes in my personal wiki.
    • Look things up in Wikipedia and IMDB.

    All in addition to the usual tasks of reading and listening to music. Most of this wasn’t possible on my Palm because either the browser sucked, or the applications simply weren’t available or comfortable to use due to the rather craptacular stylus-based input system. Plus, the increased resolution of the 4g Touch makes reading small text a lot easier, and so reading and browsing the web is far more comfortable than on the TX.

    As for apps, so far, my absolute favorite discoveries are:

    Trunk Notes. This has has replaced Wikidpad as my personal wiki, and allows me to create a web of interconnected text that can be browsed and edited from both my computer (through a web interface) or on the device itself. Suddenly my entire recipe collection, my set of guitar tabs, and loads of other stuff, is available wherever I am!

    Appigo Todo. I’m actually getting things done. It’s bizarre.

    MobileRSS. It is what it says, and it works well. Syncs with Google Reader. Easy-to-use swipe gestures for moving between items. Embedded browser. Good stuff.

    Stanza. An e-book reader that integrates beautifully with Calibre, which runs on my laptop and acts as my e-book library.

    Of course, there’s tons of little tools and utilities I’ve bought along the way (GoodReader for PDF reading and annotating, Tunemark for streaming music, Dropbox, Google Earth, Skype, iSSH…), but these are the ones I use on a consistent, day-to-day basis.

    And yes, before you ask, I’ve also jailbroken. I’m not sure why, yet (although SBSettings is awfully nice), but it’s fun to get a shell on the thing, even if it’s just to say I can.