It’s February and Grace always tells me that since it is a short month, spring is right around the corner. Maybe so, but here in Vermont we have continued to have frigid temperatures. After I mentioned that last week one customer wrote to berate me for not recanting my position regarding global warming. Yes, it got as low as -17° F at my house for an evening but I clearly remember Januaries when the temperatures rarely got above zero and when the nighttime lows were more like -40° F. In fact, my original plan for Small Dog Electronics was to start this company as a way to raise money to turn a hobby (home-brewing beer) into a vocation. I remember the best beer that I brewed was brewed on the coldest winter night and earned the name Prickly Mountain -40° Ale. So, I do not recant anything about global warming. The impact of man’s warming of our environment is not going to be felt all at once like in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” but gradually as the normal weather patterns are disrupted. Regardless of the cold weather last week, it was still one of the warmest Januaries on record here in Vermont and if wasn’t so busy doing other stuff (like going to MacWorld) I could have ridden my motorcycle for the first time in January in Vermont.
Apple introduced candy colored iPod shuffles this week and we have them in stock already. I love my little shuffle. I carried it and my big iPod to San Francisco and ended up just using the shuffle on the planes. It’s perfect for motorcycles, too, and we have a great companion product in our helmet speakers:
We had our 2007 Kick-off party this past Sunday here in Waitsfield at the Round Barn. It was a lot of fun with great food and socializing. With two locations it is even more important for us to remember that we are one company. The Burlington employees took a van ride to the party and we each brought a baby picture and had a contest to guess who was who. Everyone got Hammer right and I was pretty obvious, too, even though I had a bow tie on for my picture. We did speed dating and got to talk informally with fellow Small Doggers and their guests. We also had a DJ contest with each person alloted 15 minutes for their playlist. Geoff pointed out to me that it was clear we were a growing company since about 50% of the folks at the party were hired within the last 12 months!
If you are in Vermont, we are hosting a networking get-together for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility at our South Burlington store of February 20th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.. Please join us if you are in the area and help support VBSR. The event is $10 or $7 for VBSR members. To register, please call 802-862-8347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mac Treat #13: How to Make a Perfect Party Music Playlist By Ed@Smalldog.com
Small Dog Electronics had a company party last week. Participants were encouraged to make fifteen-minute playlists on their iPods. The creator of the “best” playlist would win a prize. My playlist came in second – I was robbed by Rob Amon and the Jackson Five. However, I can still offer some tips on making a killer playlist or mix CD. Note that this is different than simply putting iTunes on shuffle or using the “Party Mix” feature of iTunes. The tips below cover making a deliberate mix of music that plays for a set period of time – the length of a CD or an entire party.
1. Don’t just play your favorite songs. You’re making the mix for other people’s enjoyment, too.
2. Be sure to include some popular hits. Having a familiar song come on always makes people perk up.
3. Diversity of music is essential – it makes the mix engaging rather than boring. However, it’s important that the tunes flow together. It’s possible to create a winning mix of rock, reggae, blues, rap, jazz and the first movement of Mahler’s Symphony no. 5. However, the songs will have to be cleverly grouped, or the groove will never settle into place. Avoid a jerky-sounding mix.
4. One of the best ways to sculpt the flow of your mix is by analyzing the beats-per-minute of your selected songs. I use a truly wonderful application called Tangerine to do this. Tangerine analyzes the songs in your iTunes library, and automatically determines their beats-per-minute. You can then let Tangerine automatically generate playlists based on the BPM, or you can use it’s information to create your own playlists.
I frequently use Tangerine to create playlists for my own enjoyment. Tangerine has helped me rediscover some forgotten gems in my iTunes library. Download the 15-day demo here:
Or, check out a similar application called beaTunes here:
A playlist arranged by BPM has a subtle flow that feels great.
5. Get rid of gaps between tracks – unless you really like them, or are using a space in the music for effect.
You can get rid of gaps between tracks iTunes by clicking on Preferences > Playback > Crossfade Playback. Or, you can export your playlist to an audio-editing application like Garageband to crossfade and overlap tracks. If you mix your playlist in Garageband, you can then export it as one long, continuous track back to iTunes. For the recent party, I had one fifteen minute song to play back, instead of eight individual tracks. I also applied an effect to the Master Track, to pump up the bass on the entire exported mix. You can go farther than this in Garageband, by cutting songs short, adding sound effects, and loop parts of songs. It’s fun to do this, and worth experimenting. However, it’s usually best to keep in simple.
Subtle transitions between songs help keep the groove going.
6. If you are playing the mix out of your iPod, make sure the equalizer is optimally set. You don’t want the EQ set to “Bass Reducer” if you’re hosting a rave.
Any other tips to contribute? Send them to email@example.com!
iPhone? What iPhone? I Want My Newton! by Jimmy@Smalldog.com
Just this past fall I went to Channel Camp, which is an Apple seminar. I went with Morgan and he brought along his Newton and used it for many things like the calendar feature (gotta make sure we got up in time for classes), the note-taking features and the to-do lists. I was very interested in this gadget. Morgan kept telling how amazing it was and how it could do all of these tasks. The things that interested me the most was the hand-writing recognition, the to- do lists and the ability to read eBooks.
Before the trip ended Morgan had me sold. I bought an Apple Newton before we even left for home. I received the unit, it was in an almost brand-new condition. I had Morgan install a few applications for me and put an eBook or 2 on there. I’ve been using the Newton since then. I use it to keep track of all my things that I need to get done. I use it to makes lists (food shopping, projects, longer tasks) and just for simple note-taking. I also like how you can flip the orientation of the screen to a horizontal mode or a vertical mode. The vertical mode is especially nice when I am reading an eBook.
Unfortunately Apple no longer makes the Newton so you can only find them on a few websites and eBay. The funny thing is they’re still be sold for about the same price they were sold for when they originally came out.
Windows Vista: Part One By Ed@Smalldog.com Vista? So what?
Windows Vista: Part Two By Jimmy@Smalldog.com
Finally after 5 long years Windows Vista was released to consumers. Many claimed that it was a copycat of Apple’s OS X. Bill Gates recently did an interview with CNN and talked about how parental controls, editing movies (specifically high definition), and working with photos were somethings that had never been done before. I think Bill must have been working so hard on implementing those things into Vista that he missed Apple releasing applications that did those tasks years ago, some as far away as 7 years ago.
Many of the applications included with Windows Vista look similar to OS X applications. The gadgets are basically the same thing as dashboard widgets, Windows Calendar is very similar to iCal, the photo gallery application is just like iPhoto and Windows Movie Maker is just like iMovie and iDVD.
Vista in many ways is quite similar to Apple’s OS X. I do feel it’s a lot better then previous versions of Windows including Windows XP. Towards the tail end of using Windows XP I remember they started to include more security features, most if not all of them are showing up in Windows Vista. Windows Vista looks and feels much more secure for the most of it. Something that puzzled me is how administration works. Usually in Vista you need permission to install an application or to change a system setting. This usually requires clicking ‘Yes’ on a dialog box that pops up and you’re not even asked for an administrators username or password, therefore it’s pretty useless. It seems like you can install it no matter what. I have yet to try to install an application or change a system setting without being logged into an administrative account. Maybe because I am logged in as an administrator it doesn’t require such information, but if I was a normal user it would prompt me for an administrators username and password.
Windows Vista comes with Windows Defender which is Microsoft’s very own anti-spyware tool. I will admit that I am fond of it. The tool is quite basic and it does what its meant to do. You will need to purchase your own 3rd party anti-virus software though. I attempted to install Symantec Anti-Virus version 10.1 and it wouldn’t work, so for the past 2-3 months I’ve been without anti-virus protection. Believe it or not, I’ve no issues though, I just keep my Windows Defender up to date and everything is okay. For the inexperienced computer user, I would recommend purchasing and installing anti-virus software though.
While the version of Internet Explorer is far from being a web browser I would use, it’s had a lot of improvement since the previous version. It has lots of little eye-candy (such as displaying a small image of the web page when using tabs and looking at multiple pages) but it also has some security improvements. If you know how to tweak and play around with the security settings in INternet Explorer is can be a better browser. Unfortunately 99% of IE users just leave everything as default and don’t bother playing around with the applications settings. That’s to be expected, you’re average Joe just wants to surf the web, not mess around with the security zones and permissions of the application! Of course my choice of browser of Mozilla FireFox and I really recommend that to everyone out there who surfs the web. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Networking in Windows Vista seems to have taken a leap in the right direction. They seem to make everything much easier. From setting up a home network, to connecting to VPNs and wireless internet connections to viewing devices on your network. They also support IPv6 (which OS X has done for years). They seem to be trying to make everything so simple to do (much like OS X).
When I install Windows I usually have to spend hours reading message boards, other websites and searching Google to find the drivers for my computer hardware. Windows Vista managed to install all but 1 driver during the initial operating system installation. It missed my audio driver but I easily found that on the audio chip manufacturer’s website. That’s going to make a lot of people happy, not having to search all over the place for drivers. The worst is when it doesn’t install an ethernet or modem driver. Then you can’t even connect to the internet to search!
I’ve had absolutely ZERO issues with Windows Vista so far. I not only use it for a regular workstation PC, but also on my Apple MacBook and for a media center PC. it hasn’t crashed on me, I haven’t obtained any viruses or spyware and all the programs I previously used on Windows XP work fine on Windows Vista.
You may be wondering why I am still using Windows and why I work at an Apple-based place. Well like many people, many computer games are developed for Windows only. I just bought a $50 gaming keyboard and currently it only works on Windows. I also find that games runs smoother and better on my Windows PC over my PowerMac G5. My PowerMac G5 also doesn’t seem to support 5.1 surround sound like my Windows PC. I also like to do most if not all of my school work on Windows Vista because the schools usually do not support alternative operating systems like OS X and Linux (although it’s gotten better lately). Of course most if not all of my teachers use Microsoft Office, so to make things easy I try to use it (only for school work though).
I’ve only been using Windows Vista Ultimate which includes all the features, but at the retail price of $400 it’s important to do some research about the differences between versions and how well it is going to work on your current PC. Of course not all versions of Vista cost $400, you can get the Home Basic for $199. Even that is a little bit high though.
If you’re really a power-user and can take advantage of all the new features in Windows Vista I’d say go for it, upgrade. But if you are more then capable of getting your work done and everything else you do in Windows XP, stick with that. Give some thought into whether or not you need to update yourself to Vista. Macintosh users, I’d just advise sticking with OS X, there’s no reason to get Windows Vista unless you’re a Boot Camp or Parallels user.
At some point Small Dog Electronics will be selling Windows Vista. I am hoping that Windows Vista will help users stay secure and let them accomplish whatever work they’re doing with ease. Better yet, I am also hoping that Windows users will switch to Macintosh and use Windows Vista for the 1 or 2 Windows-only applications they need and OS X for everything else.
Watch Bill Gates on the Daily Show:
Why Bill Gates really left suddenly after the Daily Show:
Apple, Greenpeace & Corporate Responsibility by Don @ Smalldog.com
While I was out in San Francisco at MacWorld we stopped by the Apple Store to see the Greenpeace, peaceful demonstration and “greening” of the store. I had expected to see buckets of green paint but instead there were big projectors with green filters and a few people handing out leaflets questioning Apple’s commitment to protecting the environment.
I was very curious about the Greenpeace action because a friend of mine, Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation, sits on their board of directors. At a recent board meeting of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility where I am the chair of the board, Jeffery took me aside and asked me about Apple’s environmental record. I asked him about Greenpeace’s campaign against Apple and pledged to research the issue.
Jeffrey put me in touch with Lisa Finaldi from Greenpeace, who was kind enough to direct me to the material from the campaign. I was convinced that Apple was being unfairly targeted because of their high profile. I am not dissuaded of this as of yet, however, the material from Greenpeace at a minimum raises some serious questions about the depth of Apple’s environmental commitment.
Read the entire report here:
Here’s a link to Apple’s environment page, too:
Greenpeace has a long history of pushing the window of environmental protection and I have a lot of respect for their efforts. When they “attacked” my favorite computer manufacturer, I questioned my commitment and feel that the only fair response is to thoroughly investigate their claims and Apple’s record. I’ll be doing that in a series of articles in Kibbles & Bytes this spring.
I’ll go out on a limb (a sturdy one) and state that I’ll bet that I will find that Greenpeace is overstating the case and that Apple is not blowing their own horn enough in demonstrating their commitment to sound environmental policies.
I do think it is time, however, for Apple to hire a corporate responsibility officer as a high-level executive to help the company steer its way through the important responsibilities that Apple has as a leading corporate citizen. I’d like to see Apple make the top list as one of the best US corporate citizens in terms of workplace quality, community involvement and environmental protection.
Small Dog Electronics ascribes to a philosophy of “multiple bottom lines” to measure our success. We feel that how we treat our employees, how we treat our customers, how we treat the environment and what type of corporate citizen we are; are all as important measures of success as how much profit we may make.
Small Dog Electronics launched an eWaste initiative several years ago that continues today. Each year we assure that several tons of eWaste is properly handled. We provide eWaste recycling from each of our facilities and take back any eWaste and do not require a purchase. We also send out pre-paid envelopes with each iPod battery we sell to make sure that the old lithium ion batteries stay out of landfills.
Join the conversion: visit our blog and add your thoughts:
Look for more about this issue in future blog posts and in our newsletters.
Here are the specials for this week, valid through February 9 or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing!
Xerox Phaser 6120N 5/20PPM Color Laserprinter – KIBBLES EXCLUSIVE – $279.00!
Pre-order the new Apple 802.11n Airport Extreme Base station, get FREE express shipping! – $179
$200 Rebate on Final Cut Express HD w/ Purchase of New Apple Computer!
Get $30 back when you buy any Mac + .Mac Retail Box or .Mac Family Pack
MacBook 13in 1.83GHz Core Duo 512/60/combo/AP/BT (white,) Sportfolio Sleeve for MacBook – $959!
MacBook 13in 2.0GHz Core Duo, 60/SD/AP/BT (white), with 2 GB RAM – only $1249!
MacBook 13in 2.0GHz 512/80/SD/AP/BT Black w/ 1GB PC2-5300 RAM!
Lacie 100gb 5400RPM P2 Mobile Firewire and USB – $166.99
Lacie 100gb 5400RPM P2 Mobile Firewire and USB – $124.99
LaCie 250gb Extreme Triple Interface Firewire 800/400/USB – $149.00
LaCie 160gb 7200RPM FireWire P3 Porsche – $99.00
Rain Design iRest (right hand) – 14.99!
MacAlly BTMouseJR – Mini Bluetooth USB Mouse – $36.00!
Belkin Wireless Router N1 MIMO – $129.00!
Sonnet Aria Extreme 802.11G Wireless Cardbus Card for G3 and G4 Powerbook – $59.00
QuickerTek 27db Transceiver Plug Play for Base Station – $165.00
I’m taking some time off next week. Grace and I are heading for our favorite relaxation spot in Jamaica, Whistling Bird resort (http:// www.negriljamaica.com/whistlingbird.html). I have long traded Macs for vacations with my friends that own the resort. Where leaving right after we celebrate my birthday on Wednesday and will be back by the 18th. Ed and Jimmy will keep you informed here in Kibbles & Bytes and of course, on our growing blog, Barkings (www.blog.smalldog.com).
Thank you for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes and have a great SuperBowl weekend! We’re having a little SB party and poker up at my place as we watch da Bears demolish the Colts.
Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
Don, Ed, Jimmy