June 26, 2007

Does the iPhone meet expectations?

{UPDATE 8/12/07 - User reviews at CNET (652 today): Avg rating 6.4}
{UPDATES 7/24/07 - (1) Apple shares down 6% after disappointing iPhone sales numbers.   (2) iPhone is seriously hackable per a story in The Guardian today.  They've advised Apple, who needs to plug that up.}

6/26/07 - Well, I haven't been following this, not being very trendy, but saw the NY Times writeup and video today by its funny tech guy, David Pogue, who's not a bad actor, either -- well, for a tech reviewer!  Sure had ME laughing.

He basically says that the iPhone matches most of its hype.

Other things:

  • The phone is extremely easy to use.
  • The iPhone is SMALL and doesn't even need a case.
  • There is no video-mode (hey, primitive phone!).
  • And no way to send a picture taken to someone else's phone tho' you can send it to someone's email.
  • Internet is fast if you're in a Wi-Fi hot spot, but its own network will make you wish for a dialup, he says.
  • No Flash or Java, so most web videos won't work, but YouTube will.
  • ONLY AT&T will work with iPhone - special deal between Apple and AT&T.
  • He adds that AT&T's reception is, well, not good, and clarity of the phone is average.
  • There's no memory card expansion for storage
  • The battery starts to lose capacity after 300-400 charges and you have to send it back to Apple for the replacement, for a fee.  By that time, first-on-block buyers will be looking for the latest xphone anyway.
  • Apple will offer free software updates on this phone in the meantime.
  • While he says the camera is not good in low-light, few cameras are and it does better than other 2-megapizel cell phone cameras, from what I've seen.
I've also read that it won't directly download music from a wireless network; instead users need to transfer music from their computers.

In reading about its many first-time mobile phone features, I couldn't quite picture it all, so the video (which starts out like an Apple Ad Plus) shows you how it works and it's pretty amazing.  By the end of the video, it's not quite the AdPlus that it started to be, but I imagine it will sell well anyway, although $500 or so is pretty hefty considering what it can't do, including not being able to directly download music via a wireless network

Nevertheless, very impressive what Apple did, though I'm not trading in my Samsung A990 yet.
    Here's his interactive graphics detailed look at the phone itself.

Boston Globe's article on Setup and monthly charges
Pogue's answers to oft-asked questions.

Will be updating this page with less-fashionable info soon :-)

June 02, 2007

Videos from Cliburn Competition at YouTube

The Van Cliburn Foundation is now offering, on YouTube, content from its DVD, Encore!  -  in six 9-minute chunks  (YouTube 10 min. max).
James Conlon explores the relationship between the concert pianist's internal world and the composer's score - with the finalists of the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition as his examples - and examines what makes one interpretation so different from another..
    I just found them and so far have most enjoyed, #5 with Roberto Plano playing the Dvorak Quintet in A with the Takacs Quartet (3 minutes in) and #6 with Kobrin, especially at 07:15.

The Cliburn International Competition for Outstanding Amateurs is being more or less documented via YouTube this week.  The finalists will be chosen tonight and will play tomorrow.
  Our hometown guy, Ken Iisaka, got a nice review in the Star Telegram this morning:

Berg's ravishing Sonata No. 1 was poignantly interpreted (by memory!) by California investment analyst Ken Iisaka.
While we're on the subject of DVDs and piano music, Argerich fans might want to take a look at newly available DVDs by Martha Argerich
    And for those who enjoy chamber music, here's a very highly recommended (10/10) Archduke and Ghost CD by the Freddy Kempf Trio while I'm at it.   Click to see more on Argerich and Kempf.

June 01, 2007

Lucy in the Sky and She's Leaving Home

Who were they?  Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds wasn't (just) about LSD?  From the many leaving homes (the most poignant song by the Beatles alongside Eleanor Rigby, for me), who was the one whose story inspired She's Leaving Home?

Meet Lucy Richardson Vodden and Melanie Coe via The Times, UK.

Lucy, now a 43-year-old housewife from Surrey, was a classmate of John’s son, Julian, at Heath House nursery school in Weybridge. Her moment of fame came in 1967, when Julian came home from school with a drawing of a girl surrounded by stars. John asked him what it was. “It’s Lucy, in the sky with diamonds,” Julian said.
. . .
Ms Coe, who came home safely after a week and now lives in Spain, said: “I love the song but I can’t sit and listen to it. It’s too painful for me.” After a day out with her new boyfriend she felt a sense of anticlimax – “the sky was black and everything felt so dark and dreary” – and jumped on a bus to get away. She first heard the song when working in a Play-boy club. “I thought, ‘That sounds just like me.
See the article for the full story and other events or sights that inspired some of the songs.
Three that stand out for me are:
  • A Day in the Life was written after Lennon’s friend, Tara Browne, an Irish heiress related to the Guinness family, died in a car crash [*]
  • The name Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was inspired by the psychedelic bands of the US West Coast.
  • Lovely Rita is McCartney’s tribute to a retired traffic warden.  The song was also sparked by a news article
* Note the first comment below the story also

Here's to Sgt. Pepper!

Piano: Cats on the keys

Nora I & II, plus
Prokofiev and the Love of One Orange

Warning to the Lang Lang averse, go watch something else after Nora does her sensitive thing with the keys.  These are for fun for those so inclined.