Monday 15 January 2007

MacWorld 2007 for pros - nothing new

And iPhone FAQ for India

On the eve of the Macworld 2007 keynote, I'd written about predictions and rumours. Quad-core Macs, dicplays etc. But all that ws announced was the Apple iPhone. Just an hour and a half of that and Apple TV and the new Airport Extreme.

Apple's web site has the details on this iPhone and everyone in India's excited and some have even postponed buying a new phone to get an iPhone. So here's an India centric view on the iPhone.

1. Can I go out and buy an iPhone
- No, its coming to US in June.
2. Can I get it in June then?
- No even if you got one to India, it won't work with a Hutch, Airtel, Idea or any other SIM except Cingular.
3. What if I already have a Cingular SIM from a previous visit to the US?
- Still won't work, you have to buy the new package, iPhone and new SIM.
4. So when will iPhone come here from Hutch/Airtel/whatever?
- Indications are that this will be in Jan-Mar 2008 maybe even later.
5. iPhone runs MacOSX. Can I run my favourite MacOSX apps and widgets on it?
- No, Apple has locked out the phone for any new apps. Think of an iPod, only Apple updates it, you can't add anything new to it yourself.
5. Can I use my music as ring tones?
- No. For anti-piracy reasons this has been locked out too, unless you acquire the music in an unlocked form (not from CDs)
6. Won't the screen get scratched with continuous 'fingering'?
- People who've seen and felt it say it has some protection for this.
7. Can I see movies on the iPhone?
- Yes. with whatever restrictions you've had with the present iPod. This screen is larger and sharper though.
8. Can I actually put iPhone to my ear and talk like a normal phone?
- I can't find a single source that says you can. So maybe it only works with a headset. There is a speaker and a mic at the bottom, so it will work like a speakerphone. At the keynote, I don't remember Steve holding it to his year, do you?
9. Is there a wireless headset?
- Yes there is, but no data on if it can be charged by the iPhone or some other way. Also, no data on if you can hear music on the wireless headset. Probably not.
10. How will we do Internet with iPhone in India?
- Only by Wifi if you are in a Wifi hotspot. It dosn't do WAP or 3G.

More as it 'comes out'

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Macworld 2007 scoop!

For many days now Apple have posted a sign on their home page which says...

The first 30 years were just the beginning
Welcome to 2007

Rumours have flown thick and hard. Among other things here's what many expect
iPhone or iPod Phone
Leopard features and announcement
iTV
bigger monitors, maybe with camera and HDMI
8-core MacPro
bigger and better iPod video
iPod with Bluetooth headphones
etc etc

No, I don't have any insider story, no scoop. But if you want to get the scoop as it happens and you're in India, then here's how.

Steve Jobs, head of Apple will address MacWorld in a keynote address. This happens at 9 am Pacific time. My Dashboard tells me that is 10.30 pm on Tuesday 9th Jan.

Apple will not have a live keynote streaming video, Instead, you can watch the recorded video on Wednesday morning India time.

For those who can't wait, log in to www.macrumors.com for a live text commentary. Meaning they have someone sitting there with a laptop (maybe a Mac) typing away as Steve speaks and this goes out via some kind of a wireless internet IRC chat or something. And you get to read as it happens.

A word of caution. There are plenty of rumours. And that leads to a lot of expectations. More often than not, rumours are only partly true. So if you went by rumours and postponed buying a iPod or MacBook or MacPro for the past 3 months, and none are announced, you will be very disappointed.

My advice. Get a good night's sleep on the 9th night and check out Apple's web site on Wednesday morning.

Sunday 7 January 2007

Editing systems - how open are they.

A lot gets written and said by editing software and systems manufacturers about how open their systems are. How easy it is to import and export, and work with external media. And in todays shared post production environment it becomes really critical for one to be able to share a job on multiple systems and platforms. This needs systems to be as open as possible.

But working on various systems, here's a report card on openness of various systems based on simple, common-sense criteria.

Avid XPress/MC
1. OS - WinXP, MacOSX
2. Media format - .omf
3. Media openable in other apps - No except Avid apps.
4. Media disk format - NTFS, MacOSX extended.
5. Media disk visible and R/W to other apps - Yes
6. Other media formats can be imported directly - Yes
7. Other media formats can be used directly - No, none

Final Cut Pro
1. OS - MacOSX
2. Media format - Quicktime, and others.
3. Media openable in other apps - Yes
4. Media disk format - MacOSX extended, maybe others.
5. Media disk visible and R/W to other apps - Yes
6. Other media formats can be imported directly - Yes
7. Other media formats can be used directly - Yes, some.

Autodesk Smoke/Flint/Flame/Fire/Inferno
1. OS - Linux, Irix
2. Media format -Proprietary
3. Media openable in other apps - No
4. Media disk format - StoneFS/proprietary.
5. Media disk visible and R/W to other apps - No
6. Other media formats can be imported directly - Yes
7. Other media formats can be used directly - No, none.

Quantel eQ/iQ
1. OS - WinXP
2. Media format - Proprietary
3. Media openable in other apps - No
4. Media disk format - Proprietary.
5. Media disk visible and R/W to other apps - No
6. Other media formats can be imported directly - Yes
7. Other media formats can be used directly - No, none.

Avid DS Nitris
1. OS - WinXP
2. Media format - .omf
3. Media openable in other apps - No except Avid apps.
4. Media disk format - NTFS
5. Media disk visible and R/W to other apps - Yes
6. Other media formats can be imported directly - Yes
7. Other media formats can be used directly - No, none

I don't have data on Premiere, Vegas, Liquid, and other apps.

But from these you can see that the top-end editing systems are almost completely closed. Discreet has made some efforts via third-party utilities like XStoner, and other Wiretap utilities but these are not quite as convenient as directly sharing over the network. Quantel systems don't even let you check how much space you have available in terms of Gb and Tb. And Avid use their own file-naming conventions so you can't really meddle with their app even when things are broken.

FCP is almost like a Quicktime Player that edits as far as open-ness is concerned. But the flip side to this open-ness is that there is still no real multi-resolution support, and lots of rendering, which is the same as having to import as far as time is concerned.