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Graham Johnson’s Monumental Work on Schubert’s Lieder to Be Released Soon

Update: I first posted this in June, and the publication date has slipped back several times. Right now, it shows a release date of September 15, or tomorrow, so maybe we’ll see this set next week.

Graham Johnson, the pianist behind Hyperion Record’s monumental series of Schubert’s complete lieder, is known for having a lot to say about these songs. His liner notes to the original releases of the series are rich and full of insight. Unfortunately, the current box set doesn’t come with those notes, but just a book of the lyrics to the songs.

But Johnson has been hard at work for several years, writing the definitive work on Schubert’s lieder, and this book is ready for publication. Published by Yale University Press, Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) is a 3-volume, 3,000 page set, and will be released soon. (It’s been delayed, and seems to be available on August 15.) At $300, or £200, it’s a big investment, but it will be worth the money. I saw one of the volumes during a visit to Hyperion Records in June, and the books are massive and well designed.

Here’s what the publisher has to say:

This three-volume boxed set is the definitive work on Franz Schubert’s vocal music with piano. A richly illustrated encyclopedia, these substantial volumes contain more than seven hundred song commentaries with parallel text and translations (by Richard Wigmore), detailed annotations on the songs’ poetic sources, and biographies of one hundred and twenty poets, as well as general articles on accompaniment, tonality, transcriptions, singers, and more. Compiled by Graham Johnson—celebrated accompanist, author, and the first pianist ever to record all of Schubert’s songs and part-songs—this sumptuous work is a must for performers, scholars, and all lovers of Schubert lieder.

If you’re a lover of Schubert’s lieder, you’ll want to get this, in spite of its somewhat high price; it’s more expensive than getting the CDs in the budget box set from Hyperion (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). But having read Johnson’s liner notes to the original CDs, I can only imagine how much more interesting this larger set of books will be. I’ll be spending a lot of time with these books.

Watch Graham Johnson discuss the book:


Tim Cook: Apple Watch Will Have Onboard Storage

When Apple presented the Apple Watch last week, there was no mention made of any usable onboard storage. The watch will have to have some storage for apps, but nothing during the presentation suggested that you would be able to store anything else.

In Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose, however, Cook said that you would be able to listen to music when running, using Bluetooth headphones, without having your iPhone in your pocket. So the device will have some onboard storage. My guess is it will have 2 GB, like the iPod shuffle, which will allow you to store apps, and a bit of music. I can’t expect much more, because of the size of the watch, and you wouldn’t want to listen to too much music, because the device will only have a tiny battery…

Watch Tim Cook Interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show

Tim Cook gave a long interview to Charlie Rose. If you don’t have access to this in your country, via Hulu, here’s Tim Cook on the Charlie Rose show via YouTube:



What’s Up with the U2 Free Album Download Numbers?

u2-album-cover.jpgIt’s an interesting turn of events that a free album, given to all iTunes Store customers, has elicited such a wide variety of reactions. Some people are delighted that the album is free; others incensed that Apple is forcing specific music on them. I wrote an article for Macworld about how to hide the album – because you cannot delete it from your iTunes library – which has been extremely popular. Lots of people don’t like U2, and don’t want this album.

But I’m curious about the numbers that are being reported. Re/code claims that “iTunes users have downloaded more than 2 million copies” of the album. That’s 0.4% of the 500 million iTunes Store accounts. Is it possible that so few people have actually downloaded this free album?

This album can show up in your iTunes library, or on your iOS device, in several ways. If you have Settings > Music > Show All Music turned on on your iOS device, you’ll see all your purchases (except for those you’ve hidden, using the technique I explain in my Macworld article). And if you have Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases checked in iTunes’ Store preferences, the album will display in your iTunes library. Presumably, if you have automatic downloads turned on, you’ll also have downloaded it. (I can’t confirm this; I don’t have this feature turned on, and I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether the album downloads automatically.)

So the above suggests that people will see the album in their iTunes library, or on their iOS devices, but could only two million people have actually downloaded it? U2’s last album sold a bit more than a million copies – very low for this band – but I’d have expected more people to want to grab a freebie. Unless the fact that it’s free makes it seem less worth listening to…

What about you, dear reader? Did you download the album? Did it show up in your iTunes library automatically? And did it download automatically?

The paradox of Charles Ives

“Viewed from just about any perspective, Charles Ives represents a tangle of paradoxes, and his reception has been consistently fraught. For many, he stands as the father of musical composition in the United States, yet he is by no means a frequently programmed composer today. In fact, readers of this review might know his name without ever having heard his music.”

Ives is one of the most astounding composers in history. But his music is not easy to listen to, and takes a while to get into.

via The paradox of Charles Ives | TLS.

Apple’s Web Wobbles Again

When Apple announced the new iPhone 6 on Tuesday, a few thousand people were fortunate enough to attend this carefully-choreographed presentation at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California. The rest of us watched on Apple’s website, or on our Apple TVs, and learned about things such as Apple’s TV truck schedule, and discovered that Apple provides a live Chinese translation during a presentation. For those of us viewing remotely, the presentation was a disaster. The feed kept dropping, or rewinding to earlier segments, and it wasn’t for about 40 minutes that it worked, more or less.

We later learned that this debacle was caused in part by some faulty JavaScript on Apple’s website. It’s surprising that Apple didn’t test this website sufficiently in order to prevent the kind of problems that we saw. For the largest technology company in the world to have this kind of problem as they are announcing “revolutionary” new products is embarrassing.

Today, at 12:01 AM California time, Apple was to begin taking pre-orders for the iPhone 6 on their online store. So I set my alarm early this morning — I’m in the UK, and I work at home, so I don’t usually get up very early — to make sure that I could be at my computer at 8 AM. I saw that a few of my friends in the US were up late; I could see that they were online in Messages, or chatting away on Twitter, where people were “waiting in line” for the new iPhone. A lot of fellow tech journalists were bantering about which iPhone they were going to buy, whether or not the iPhone 6 Plus was too big for their pockets, and how much storage they were going to get.

As usual, the store had gone down sometime before the sale was scheduled to start. Apple customers are used to seeing Apple’s “We’ll be back” message on its online store for several hours whenever the company announces new products. At least this time they replaced the familiar sticky note with a more modern design, allowing us to learn how to say this in a dozen languages. (And I wonder why there are two versions of it in French…)

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As midnight — or 8 AM for me — approached, people were getting antsy. Those who had not yet decided which phone to buy were running out of time. When the bell tolled 12:01, people started refreshing their web browser, hoping to get the Apple Store when it came online. All they saw was “We’ll be Back” in a dozen different languages. Five minutes later, we were still refreshing. 15 minutes later; the same thing. Remember, this is a company that touted the accuracy of the upcoming Apple Watch to be within 50 ms; apparently, the same timekeeping doesn’t run on their online store. Read More

Two-Step Authentication Is Too Complicated for Many People

Apple’s recent nude selfie hack illustrated the need for two-step or two-factor authentication (TFA) as a way of hardening the protection for online accounts. You may be familiar with this from banks, some of which use systems where you generate a one-time authentication code that you enter together with your password. It ensures that access to your account requires both something you know (your password) and something you have (a device that generates a code; an app; a cellphone to receive a code by SMS).

Here’s how Apple explains the process:

Safari001.png

In practice, however, this is problematic. I use TFA on Dropbox; whenever I log into Dropbox on a new device, I immediately get a code sent to my iPhone. I enter that code, and I can access my files. But, the other day, I tried to turn on TFA for Google. I went to step 1, where I entered my user name and password, then step 2, where I gave them my cellphone number. Then I waited; and waited. I then clicked a link saying I hadn’t received the code, and I clicked a link to have it sent again. And again. Then the Google site recommended I have them send a voice mail instead of a text message. I waited. And I waited. I finally got a voice call with the code, but when I entered it, it had already expired. I never got any of the text messages, which I requested four times. Needless to say, the way Google works, I would be effectively locked out of my account with no way at all to get back in.

I’ve thought about activating TFA for my iCloud account, but have you ever looked at Apple’s FAQ for two-step verification for an Apple ID? I make my living writing about computers, and telling people how to use them, and I’m daunted by this page. I once started the process, but it was so scary – full of warnings that if I didn’t print out the Recovery Key, I might never be able to get access to my iCloud data. Needless to say, I gave up.

Two-factor authentication is a powerful tool; my bank uses this, and a banker told me that, since they introduced it, fraud has essentially disappeared. But the way it is implemented for online accounts is problematic, and dangerous. Accessing my data is far too important to trust to a system that can go wrong, as Google’s did, or that is too confusing, as Apple’s is. There has to be a better way.

Hide the Free U2 Album from Your iTunes Library

Every single iTunes Store user got a free copy of U2’s latest album. But you might not want to see this album in your iTunes library, or on your iOS device.

Read How to Hide the Free U2 Album from Your iTunes Library over at Macworld to find out how you can get rid of the album.

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