J. J. Abrams did a right pretty job with his Star Trek reboot film last year. I figured that since it went so well he clearly must be working on a ‘Next Generation’ reboot as we speak! I’m sure it’s inevitable, so why not now?

Your perfect logic humbles me

I started to think about how young the cast of J.J.’s Star Trek was and I realized that a Next-Gen reboot would probably get the same treatment. That being the case, I figure that Jude Law is the only real choice to play Jean-Luc Picard. (I mean, right, duh?) I was going to go and photoshop up a bald Jude Law for you but then Google informed me that the internet had already done it!

Busted!

How much more proof do you need? J.J. has already cast Jude Law for a ‘Star Trek the Next Generation’ movie! But let’s not forget the fun that youthful Anton Yelchin brought to last year’s film. How to replicate that success?

I lack emotions, but will still warm your heart

Why, with a Michael Cera ‘Data,’ of course! You can’t tell me that this image won’t haunt your dreams tonight! (Uhm, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?)

But this presents a problem. If the whole cast is 20-somethings, what do we do about Wesley Crusher? Well, you are very bad at problem solving, aren’t you!? This is really no problem at all.

Warp factor 4, Mr. Crusher! …
Uh, Mr. Crusher?

I’m sure you can imagine the rest of the cast yourself. But what about the Big E? What will the Enterprise look like in this new movie? Actually, not that different at all!

Just a bit more flare

Trust me. It’s really fantastic behind that lens flare. Totally amazing.

Those are the big points. The rest of the script pretty much writes itself at that point. I’m sure you don’t need me to explain it all to you. Oh, but there is one more thing I forgot about. This movie really needs to have a big-name star that kind of hangs in the background, giving invaluable advice that the main characters remember later at a critical point.

That character simply must be Mr. Mot. And the actor?

Don’t worry, everything is going to be just fine

I don’t know if you heard, but it snowed this weekend.


Just a little bit


It’s been 2 days and the roads are still unusable. This means we’re soon entering day 3 stuck at home with an almost-3-year-old. Hey, how bad can it be? She’s just one kid.

Heh heh heh

This was something I learned from Samantha’s preschool this week. Food-coloring mixed with water in a spray bottle makes for some very pretty ‘snow paint.’ For some reason this really amuses toddlers. I can’t explain why, but I’m glad it works!

That only lasts so long, however. Luckily, Lori planned ahead and bought all sorts of craft-supplies last week so we had lots of projects to do.


Hi-yo!

The crazy flower people were one such project. Once again, I can’t explain why this makes toddlers laugh, but it does. (Not pictured: Cotton snowmen on a stick.)

On day 2 the snow actually stopped falling so we spent a bit more time outside.

What? Like you don’t wear Minnie Mouse ears everywhere?

Needs more green!

Uhm…could someone carry me?

Wheeeeeee!

Wheeeeee, again!


Serious business

I had found 2 boxes of JELL-O on the top shelf, so we made some thin pans and got out the-cookie cutters. Samantha was very meticulous to make sure everything went perfectly with this critical project.

Right….there!

Send your compliments to this chef

So it’s been going pretty well so far but it looks like we won’t be getting out Monday at all either. Who can say what will happen? All I know is, I have one last secret weapon left. When all else fails:

Dinosaur Tattoo!!!

So the internet has been talking about this iPad thing for a few weeks now.

The iPad
Who, me?

The general public seems to be pretty excited about the whole thing. A big iPod touch? Cool!

Many hard-core tech-types are less than impressed. A big iPod touch? Lame!

Somewhere between the two we can find a new, third demographic. The technical-folks who understand why the iPad is cool. People like Dan Moren and Mike Monteiro. Mike came up with a rather brilliant graphic which compares today to tomorrow. That one graphic explains everything you need to know. Go back and click on Mike’s name if you haven’t already. I’m serious.


He’ll know if you don’t click it.

What I’m learning from these people is not that the iPad itself is cool, but rather it’s cool because of what it’s going to lead to. It’s the fact that the iPad’s descendants will eventually be used by 90% of people and the iMac’s descendants will be used by the other 10%. The era of the PC (and Mac) is coming to an end.

This is an important concept but I think it’s difficult to explain to people because it doesn’t have a name.What doesn’t have a name?” you ask.


Don’t you start with that, wiseguy!

There are two main “things” that are important to this concept, I think. One is the fact that the iPad (and iPhone) hides the file system and other computer-y type details. The other one is its single-minded one-task-at-a-time workflow. I’m pretty sure that’s all there is to ‘it!’

Really, it’s just those 2 things. But look at the most-used words associated with the iPad in the general media.

  • Multitouch touch screen
  • No physical keyboard
  • Closed system
  • DRM
  • iTunes ecosystem and app store
  • Multitasking?
  • iWork, iTunes, iPod, and iWhatever
  • No camera, no flash, no Verizon

Not a single one of those has anything at all to do with “it!” So it’s no wonder people are having a hard time with the concept. It’s something only a few people are talking about, and when they do, they don’t know what to call it.

We can solve one part of that problem here and now. We need to name ‘it.’

Once we do that, I think this will be a lot easier to talk about. For example, I can imagine a Dell tablet running Microsoft software on the Verizon network that has as physical keyboard and plays flash. Is that the opposite of the iPad? It is if it lacks “it.” It’s not the opposite if it does have ‘it.’

Once again. We need to name ‘it.’

I’m not very good at this, but here are a few of my ideas for ‘it.’ You would say: The iPad has…

  • Monofocus
  • Stack-Top View
  • Digi-Ritalin

These aren’t very good. You can do better.

Go!

Companies want to sell their products to as many customers as possible. The fastest way to do this is to target different price ranges with different versions of your product.

This is why Toyota makes Lexus cars, Nikon has SLR and point-and-shoot cameras, and why McDonalds has something called the Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich.

It’s all so they can take money from the frugal as well as the rich.

Percentage of my readers who were paying attention

People are fairly used to the idea that more money gets you more features. When you buy a Macbook Pro you understand that you’re getting a Macbook + “more stuff.”

“It’s ok, little bro. You can live a very fulfilling life without firewire!”

We get that. It makes sense.

The software world does the same thing. Even if you’ve never used them before you can instantly undertand the difference between Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express by their names alone. Here are some examples.

Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Photoshop, and DVD Studio Pro
&
Final Cut Express, iPhoto, Photoshop Elements, and iDVD

The basic idea here is the same as it is for hardware. When you buy DVD Studio Pro you can do everything iDVD does + more. And for the most part, that is how things work with all of these programs.

This is all a very long way of explaining what it is that I still don’t like about Aperture. (Oh good lord, he’s still on about that, is he?) I’ve recently been trying to move from iPhoto to Aperture, and at first I didn’t like it. Then I learned some more about it and I did start to like it. Finally, this week, I went back to not liking it.

This got me thinking about my likes and dislikes of the applications pictured above. I realized that I’m most frustrated when I find things that the basic programs do but their pro counterpart won’t. Once I buy the top level application, shouldn’t I be able to stay there? Why should I ever be tempted to fire up the smaller program for any reason whatsoever? But it happens.

I’m not alone, either. Just ask my wife (the Photoshop teacher) about Photoshop Element’s Selection Brush, Quick-Fix mode, or Batch Processes. She’d love to tell you all the reasons why Photoshop should have these hidden away as options somewhere. (And don’t bother explaining how to do these things with Photoshop’s tools. Of course it’s possible, the point is that these are unique ways of doing these things and you shouldn’t have to give these things up just because you moved up.)

On the other hand, I find that DVD Studio Pro goes above and beyond what’s expected. It features a ‘Basic’ mode which re-arranges its windows to be a bit more like iDVD’s setup.

iDVD

DVD Studio Pro’s “Basic” Mode

I certainly don’t expect this level of accommodation from every program, but it’s a strong sign that the DVD Studio Pro programers feel the same way I do. It shows in the rest of the program, too. There’s nothing in iDVD that ever tempts me to return there from DVD Studio Pro. Quite simply, DVD Studio Pro gets it. And Photoshop, despite a few issues, does fairly well on this front as well. The Adobe programers seem to understand this idea, even if they’re not 100% perfect at it.

But Aperture…hrnnnn

What!? What did I do?

The fact is, I was never able to fully say that Aperture is ‘better’ than iPhoto in every way. Better in a lot of ways? Yes, most certainly. But better in every way? Well, not quite. Not in the same way that some of these other programs are “better” than their counterparts.

So what’s missing? There are, of course, the obvious features. iPhoto’s location maps and face-recognition being the big two. The message-board consensus on the ‘net seems to be that people don’t even want these ‘consumer’ features in their professional program. They’re quite sure about this.

But what about Aperture’s ability to print books? That sure seemed like a ‘consumer’ feature when it was just in iPhoto. Now that the pros have it they’re happy to print portfolios with it or sell albums made from it. That was something that consumers used to print Disney World photo books back in the day and then the Pros found other uses for it. I’m convinced that ‘Faces’ and ‘Places’ features would similarly be put to use by hard-working photographers in ways that consumers don’t currently use them. Photographers tend to be pretty creative people, after all.

But” you say. “But those features are new to iPhoto and Aperture hasn’t been updated yet!” First off, you’re always yelling, do you realize that? Secondly, I actually agree with this argument. Why shouldn’t I just suck it up and wait for Aperture 3.0 to come out?

If these were the only things then I really would just wait it out. But the problem is, it’s not just those 2 features. It’s all the little things too. For example, when iPhoto syncs with my iPhone it puts the photo in chronological order. That makes sense. Aperture, on the other hand, doesn’t really care what order they show up in.


Birthday followed by the Birth!
I seem to remember it differently.

It’s the same thing as the other ‘consumer’ features, I suspect. iPhone syncing is not a very ‘pro’ feature so Aperture just doesn’t worry about it all that much.

Here’s the point where you all point out how wrong I am and how I totally don’t understand Aperture at all and I can fix all of these problems in the settings. Please educate me if you’re able to. I love to learn. But for the time being I’ve switched back to iPhoto. It doesn’t have all the advanced editing features, but honestly I’m doing just fine with Photoshop for that stuff. If Aperture would commit to being “iPhoto + more” then I would be back in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t seem to be their plan.

~  ~  ~

Outside of my own little problems I still find these larger concepts very interesting. If you make two versions of your software and the cheaper one contains features the ‘pro’ one doesn’t, why is that? I understand removing things from menus and tool bars if they won’t be widely used. UI bloat is the worst enemy of pro-level software. But why not hide these features away where they can be enabled if the user so desires? A Photoshop user should never envy an Elements user, after all.

The New York times ran a technology article by Sarah Perez comparing Apple’s iPad to Google’s Chrome computer operating system.

I’m going to refrain from talking about the subjective arguments and just focus on 2 glaring factual errors. Luckily for me, both are contained within the same sentence!

Perez writes

But no matter what the real truth is, consumers won’t care. Once they find out that video websites like YouTube don’t work on the iPad, news sites like CNN lack video, and the TV portal Hulu is beyond reach, the iPad will, in their eyes, just NOT work.

No Youtube? Well let’s just fire up Apple.com and take a look. Oh, look! A photo of the iPad, right here on the front page! Hmm…what’s this?

I don’t see anything

No no. Look closer. Here, let’s zoom in.

Oh. That’s inconvenient.

Ok, so that’s just one teeny tiny little mistake. How could we expect Perez to be familiar with Apple.com, after all? I’m probably asking too much, aren’t I? And anyway, what about CNN.com? Its website uses Flash to play videos, after all, which we all know the iPad can not display!

Here, I’ll load cnn.com on my iPhone which is also Flash-impaired.

Let me break this down for you…

Oh. Hm. That seems to be CNN video playing on my iPhone. Well, the aspect ratio is a little weird, but I’m not sure I can classify that as “lacking” video.

Finally, we get to the 3rd item: Hulu. Here, Perez has a point; Hulu.com will NOT work on an iPad. Well, good job on that one, but a 33% success rate for that single sentence isn’t really the best track record. School children fail tests with higher scores than that.

~  ~  ~

There are many other things that I consider wrong with this article, but I’ll leave the endless minutiae to more dedicated bloggers. The only thing I want you to remember is that Sarah Perez seems to write about Apple products without testing them, talking to experts about them, or even opening up Apple.com in her web browser.

I think you can take that information and make a good guess about how well the rest of the article goes.

Yesterday, Apple introduced their newest creation. It is a super-sized iPod that they are calling the iPad.

The iPad

Shiny!

Many tech writers and bloggers are debating what the purpose of this device is. These writers already own a laptop and a smartphone. Why would they need this 3rd device? The answer resides within the fact that many tech writers are your typical ‘gadget-guys’ who have a special relationship with with their tech toys.

Yes, many of them may be married or have children, but their gadgets stand apart from their family life. Much like hunting or golfing is for other men, technology is something these guys “do” with their male friends as a hobby. Their life is split into two parts: “Family” and “Technology.” (And of course the problem is only compounded for the tech writers who don’t have families.)

There’s nothing wrong with that (we all need hobbies!) but it gives them all a somewhat singular perspective. I’m a bit different. I see my life as split into a “Work” half and a “Family” half. My technology is filed underneath those categories. Not beside them. So when I look at a new gizmo I don’t ask “what does this do for me?” Rather, I ask myself “How does this fit with my family?”

The Family, during a more windswept time

As a multimedia professional, the cameras and computers I choose for my family are very important to me. Like, I dunno, I assume a gardener wants his or her front yard to look really nice. Likewise, I’d be kind of ashamed if I didn’t make sure my family had the right tools for both consuming and creating media.

(And recall that my wife is also a visual media professional. This is important stuff around our house!)

So, for an example of what I mean, consider an iPhone. An iPhone is useful to me but it’s also critical for taking Samantha on airline flights. We’re never going to let her have a computer or TV in her bedroom, but this amount of indulgence is ok because it serves a purpose.

Wait. Am I supposed to be kicking a seat? Whatever.

So an iPhone can take on very different roles depending on who you’re applying it to. My point is that these tech guys are looking at the iPad as a personal device. They have a laptop and an iPhone and they’re good to go. What they’re not doing is looking at it as a family device. For some of us, things are a bit more complicated. Here’s our current computer setup:

Tower – Laptop – Laptop – iPhone – iPhone

So you see that we have 3 computers for 2 adults. Throw in 2 iPhones and you have a bit of overkill. But we’ve found that we need each of these devices for various scenarios. Family vacation; Jeff business trip; Lori visits relatives; we both have a special project at work that needs a laptop. There is a different need for each of these situations and we’ve found that we need 2 portable computers to make it work. We also need the Mac Pro tower because of the amount of horsepower our home media projects require.

The 2nd laptop isn’t often used, but it’s used enough that we need it. However, I noticed something interesting when we got our iPhones. They didn’t remove the need for a 2nd laptop but they did greatly reduce that need. It’s not enough of a change to discard one of our laptops, but I did notice a difference in our usage.

What this means is that I can now envision our future family setup looking more like this:

Tower – iPad – Laptop – iPhone – iPhone

This would likely satisfy our needs and it’s at least $1,000 cheaper. (Possibly more depending on the laptop we’d buy.) When we do need both laptops it’s usually because one of us is traveling and wants something for media consumption. Not creation. So in this world we’d still take the laptop on vacation with us instead of the iPad (as it’s for editing photos and videos to send to family) but when I’m just traveling for business I’d use the iPad as something to entertain me on flights.

This usage of an iPad only became clear because my life is more complicated than a single man living by himself. And I only have a 3 year old daughter! Imagine a family with 3 teenagers. As the complexity of the system grows, the chance for an iPad to replace a piece of that puzzle only gets larger. This is not something that would be apparent if you just live with an iPhone and a Macbook Pro.

~ ~ ~

Does this mean I’m buying an iPad? I have to be honest and say that I’m not. Just because I can imagine this future it doesn’t mean it’s worth spending money on now. This is something I’ll consider when my laptop needs to be replaced, but that’s still several years off. And who knows what will exist by then?

My ultimate point is that there are millions of individual situations but many tech writers tend to be pretty similar to each other. So we miss out on hearing about some of these alternate lifestyles when it comes to technology reviews. I hope that by sharing my thoughts I can add another perspective to the mix.

I have to stop now because if there’s one thing that talking about Apple products can do, it’s putting babies to sleep. And she just can’t take any more!


Please…no…more…snrx…

My sister and her husband moved to Brooklyn last year and we finally got around to visiting. They live in Park Slope, which looks like this.


We were excited to learn that this is the exact neighborhood that Mo Willems used for the photos in his book Knuffle Bunny. The book features color drawings on top of black and white photos. It looks like this.

Bunny hijinks ensue

So we gathered up our own Knuffle Bunny and, thanks to the internet, found the actual laundromat from the book!

Living the dream

There it is…machine ‘M.’ This is like the Graceland of 2 year olds. She was a bit surprised to learn that we could actually visit Knuffle Bunny’s home since none of her other books have come to life yet. This is when she started to think that last night’s 5 hour drive was worth it.

Next up, a subway ride.

Are we there yet?

A quick subway ride brings us to…

Times Square!

A typical tourist pose. I know, I know. Give me a break. I’ve got a killer candid in a pizza shop coming up soon that totally makes up for this.

But for now we decided to go to the huge Toys R Us in Times Square which is where we met the…

…uhm, T-Rex?

So there’s a life-sized T-Rex in Toys R Us. Good to know. There’s also a 3-story tall ferris wheel, so this place is pretty cool. There was also a Spider-Man, a Candy Land, and (just when we thought things were as good as they’d get) an actual Barbie house!

Barbies!

Naturally, my brother-in-law was thrilled with this development. Samantha was off playing with trains at this point, I think.

Now it’s time to go to the zoo. Penguins! They feed them in an hour! We’ve gotta get there to see the penguins!

Remember to stick together!

Hey, does anyone know where Waldo is? These guys are looking for him.

Not Penguins

So then the first tragedy of the day struck. The zoo’s penguin house was closed. So sad! It’s what we wanted to see more than anything!

I got to see the Apple store cube on the way out of the park, so that kind of made things better. But still, I have an Apple store at home. I do NOT have penguins at home!

Sigh.

Hiyo!

What’s the only way to dull the pain of missing penguins? Some good old NYC pizza.

A long day makes for a tired Samantha. So back to the apartment for nap time!

What’d’ja bring me?