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The iTunes Store Sells Philip Glass Sheet Music

Cover225x225I spotted an interesting item on the iTunes Store today. Together with a new recording of Philip Glass’s Complete Piano Études, Apple is selling the sheet music for these works, in the iBooks Store.

This is not new; there is plenty of sheet music on the iBooks Store, but I had not noticed it before. The iBooks Store could be a great place to sell sheet music; you can use it on an iPad, and, with a retina device, this could be practical.

It’s interesting, however, that Apple is highlighting this specific score by Philip Glass. Given that this is contemporary music, it can be sold “full price,” unlike classical music which is in the public domain. I wonder if Apple is planning to expand the sale of sheet music to popular music as well. I’m not sure how big a market there is for books of sheet music of, say, Coldplay and Taylor Swift, but these books do sell, so why not sell them on the iBooks Store?


Glass

Matthew McConaughey to take The Stand for Stephen King adaptation

Matthew McConaughey is tipped to take the role of villainous Randall Flagg in The Stand, a Hollywood franchise based on the 1978 Stephen King novel. Backed by Warner Bros, The Stand will be released as four standalone pictures directed by Josh Boone.

Very cool; a perfect choice. However, this most likely means that he won’t be able to play Roland Deschain, in the projected film/TV adaptation of The Dark Tower, may favorite Stephen King work. The Dark Tower is a seven-volume (plus a later-written intermediate novel, and a novella) that combines fantasy, horror, and is set in a Western context. The original character, the Gunslinger, was patterned after Clint Eastwood in the westerns he made back in the day. McConaughey would be the perfect personification of that character.

Coincidentally, I started re-reading The Stand again just last night… Still the best Stephen King novel. If you haven’t read it, you should. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

via Matthew McConaughey to take The Stand for Stephen King adaptation | Film | theguardian.com.

ipad-air

Apple’s Obsession with Thinness; How Much Thinner Can Things Get?

Apple is obsessed with thinness. With an obsession that rivals that of the CPU clock speed days, Apple touts thinness for many of its devices.

Look at the new (poorly named) iPad Air 2; the first text you see on Apple’s website is:

“So capable, you won’t want to put it down.
So thin and light, you won’t have to.”

For the iPhone 6, it’s a bit different. They start with bigness, then go to thinness:

“iPhone at its largest.
And thinnest.”

Ember

And the MacBook Air:

“Thin. Light. Powerful.
And ready for anything.”

And then there’s the iMac:

“Creating such a stunningly thin design took equally stunning feats of technological innovation.”

Apple marketed the current iMac models as being thinner, even though the thinness of a desktop computer is not a valid selling point.

Since Apple no longer touts the clock speeds of its devices – at least not as the leading argument in their marketing pitches – thin is the new fast. The problem is that this thinness is getting less and less important; with each iteration of a device such as an iPad or iPhone, the company shaves a few millimeters off the thickness, making very little difference, but giving them a marketing message that, in the end, means little.

The difference between the current iPad Air and last year’s model is so slight as to not make a difference. The newer model is 1.4 mm thinner than the previous one; the difference in weight is a mere 34 g, or just over an ounce. The iPhone 6 is only 0.7 mm thinner than the iPhone 5s, yet it’s still thicker than the iPod touch. But it doesn’t matter; the difference in thickness and weight are inconsequential.

Metric such as size are valid at certain times. When the MacBook Air was released – nearly five years ago – the difference in thickness and weight, compared to other Apple laptops, was tremendous. At 3 lbs, it was 2/3 the weight of the first aluminum MacBook with the same display size: the aluminum MacBook, released later that year, weighed in at 4.5 lbs. And the plastic MacBook, released shortly after the MacBook Air, weight 5 lbs. Those are big differences.

Yet Apple hasn’t changed the MacBook Air much in five years; it’s still just under 3 lbs (2.96 to be exact), and it’s only a few hairs thinner. The MacBook Air has hit the thinness wall. The same thing will happen to other Apple products.

Apple has nearly reached the limit of thinness. Compare the original iPad and iPhone to the current models; the differences are noticeable. But as each generation shaves a couple of millimeters off the thickness, there’s not much point any more. It’s getting harder to make devices any thinner. Already, the iPhone’s camera has to stick out because the body of the device is too thin. (This was already the case with the iPod touch, whose camera also protrudes.) Apple soon won’t be able to shave even a half a millimeter off its devices, and they’ll have to find a new marketing message.

Thin is near the end of its life as a marketing argument. Maybe it’s time to switch to something else: something that has a lot more value to users, such as battery life.

AppleCare Support Understaffed In the UK

I’ve always found Apple’s support to be excellent; superior to any other hardware company I’ve dealt with. I buy AppleCare contracts for all my Macs, and, last week, I had a question for Apple support. I called in twice, but each time was told that the wait time would be longer than ten minutes; I didn’t have enough time to wait.

Today, I did, and I called Apple just before noon. I was told, again, that the wait time would be superior to ten minutes. But I didn’t expect it to be as long as it was. From the time I first got connected to Apple’s support number, and began the process of getting triaged through their speech recognition system (which took about two minutes), it took an astounding thirty minutes and forty-five seconds (30:45) to get a human being on the line.

Clearly Apple’s UK support is understaffed. I find this quite problematic; this isn’t free support, at least not in my case; I’ve paid for additional and extended support. Waiting times like this are simply unacceptable.

Kindle Books More Expensive on Kindle Device than Amazon Web Site?

Browsing some books on my Kindle today, then later on my iPhone, I noticed a discrepancy between the prices on the two devices. I first wondered if it was because I was logged in to Amazon UK with a different account (I have two accounts; long story). But I was logged in with the same account.

I was looking at an edition of Plato’s complete works, which retains for £36.56 in hardcover. On my iPhone, the Kindle version of this book shows up at £18.69. On my Kindle, it costs £28.72.


2014 11 22 21 35 30    Screenshot 2014 11 22T21 36 45+0000

I looked more closely on the Amazon UK website on my Mac. I found that there are two different Kindle editions, one from 1997, and another from 2011, both from the same publisher. The later edition is cheaper. But the Kindle only shows me the older, more expensive edition. Very odd…

Review: Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Like millions of people, I need to keep an eye on my blood pressure. You can check it when you visit your doctor, but many people have “white-coat hypertension.” Just getting their blood pressure measured at the doctor’s office stresses them out, resulting in higher than normal readings. All the better reason to check it at home.

A regular arm-worn blood pressure monitor is around $50. So at $130, the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor isn’t competing on price, but rather convenience. Saving money doesn’t matter if you don’t wind up using the device, and Withings’ version makes checking your blood pressure a lot easier.

Read the rest of the review at Macworld.

How Much Media Content Does a 16 GB iPad Hold?

In a recent article, I did a test to see how much free space was left on a 16 GB iPad after installing iOS and all of Apple’s apps. Taking into account the “Other” space that’s always lost on an iOS device, I got a bit more than 8 GB to store music, movies, photos and other content.

Today, I tried another experiment: with the base iOS installation, and no other apps, how much content can it hold? I did this in part following a Twitter conversation with Jim M. who pointed out that the idea of selling music in lossless formats was problematic with so many 16 GB devices.

So, I wanted to find out how many hours of lossless music a 16 GB iPad would hold, taking into account a variable amount of “Other” space lost; in my case, between 1 and 1.5 GB. The answer is around 48 hours.

Lossless music

Lossless music is not all the same bit rate. It compresses differently according to the type of music. It varies from around 400 kbps to as much as 900 kbps, but, on average, comes in around the middle of that range. Though if you want to copy a lot of, say, harpsichord music to your iOS device, you’ll get fewer hours of music than if you sync music that takes up less space. In my test, the average was almost exactly 512 kbps.

The next step was to see how much music I could get on my device at 256 kbps, the bit rate the iTunes Store uses. I managed to squeeze just over four days’ worth of music, or 96 hours, almost exactly twice the amount of lossless music:

256k

How about movies? I managed to sync two Die Hard movies in HD with some free space; two Harry Potter movies; one Lord of the Rings; a bit more for movies I ripped from DVDs. For the latter, since they come in around 2 GB each, I can get 5 movies comfortably.

I recall taking a trip a couple of years ago, and bringing this iPad mini with me. I was re-watching Breaking Bad, at least the seasons that had already aired at the time. I was able to fit about five episodes, as they are around 2 GB each. (I used hotel wifi to download others.)

All this is a thought experiment, designed to point out that with a 16 GB device, there’s not much space for anything. Once you start taking a lot of photos and videos, you’ll eat up free space; when you add apps, that’ll take up room. What’s left isn’t much.

This is yet another suggestion that Apple shouldn’t be selling a 16 GB device; and that users certainly should not buy it. You may only use your iPhone or iPad for a few apps, and not sync media; if so, then the 16 GB device will be big enough for you. But once you start syncing content to the device, it will fill up very quickly.

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