iTunes Match and Mastered for iTunes: Which Tracks Do You Get When Matching CDs?

Apple touts its Mastered for iTunes tracks on the iTunes Store as “Music as the artist and sound engineer intended.” Mastered for iTunes tracks are therefore supposed to sound better than tracks you rip from CDs. The basic goal of Mastered for iTunes is to provide a direct downsampling of music from 24-bit, 96 kHz … Read more

Theater Review: All’s Well that Ends Well, by the Royal Shakespeare Company

For the fourth and final night of my Shakespeare Week, I attended All’s Well that Ends Well at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This was third play I saw featuring Alex Waldmann, and the second where he was the lead (he was Orlando in As You Like It and Horatio in Hamlet). All’s Well also features … Read more

Theater Review: Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company

For day three of my Shakespeare week, I attended the big one, Hamlet. Running a total of 3:35 (with a 20-minute intermission), I can’t remember the last time a theatrical performance went by so quickly. While I tend to get antsy after a while in the theater, or when seeing long movies, this Hamlet was … Read more

Kirk’s Books

I’ve written more than a dozen books about computers and software. Here are my books. For books in print, if you hover over a cover, you’ll be able to click to see a web page presenting the book. Other covers are for older, out of print (or obsolete) books. Translations In addition to being a … Read more

The MacBook Air: What a Laptop Should Be

I mentioned a few weeks ago , after the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, that I was planning to buy a MacBook Air. Well, my Air finally arrived yesterday, and, after unboxing, getting the “oohs” and “aahs” from my son, the fanboy (well, he actually said, “Dude!” several times), I took some time to sit down with the computer and try it out. I’m pretty amazed by this computer, and I can safely say that it’s the most impressive Mac I’ve ever owned (my Mac experience dates back to the PowerBook 100, in 1991). Frankly, the MacBook Air is what a portable computer should be.

First, the weight. You can’t imagine unless you’ve actually held it in your hands, but the Air is really, really light. This Mac is replacing a 14″ iBook, and I’d say that it’s about half the weight of the iBook. (That’s a guesstimate, based on how it feels in my hards.) When picking up the Air, there is no feeling that one could drop it if only holding it in one hand, and there’s no heft to it at all. It’s about as heavy as an average-sized hardcover book; but the size and thickness make it feel even lighter.

As to the thickness – or, as Apple says, the “thinness”, it is impressive, but much less so than the weight. When you do put it on your lap, though, you start to notice just how thin it is. If you put your hand on the edge, you can feel that there is little space between the open part of the Air and your lap. But I don’t think the thickness is as big a revolution as the weight, even though the two go hand in hand.

Getting the Most out of Classical Music with iTunes and the iPod

[Update, September 2006. Apple introduced gapless playback to iTunes 7 and to the latest iPods, making the questions of joining tracks, as explained below, moot in many cases. See this article for an explanation of gapless playback.

However, if you have an older iPod (older than the iPod video or nano), you won’t benefit from this feature. In addition, you may still want to join tracks to be able to play music at random, playing entire works, rather than disparate movements. So much of this article remains valid today.]

While Apple is aggressively marketing its iPod to the younger generation, through its ads and commercials featuring black silhouettes dancing to hip-hop and rock music, the iPod is also a valuable device for listening to classical music. However, to get the most out of this type of music, you need to reconsider the way you rip your CDs.

I’ve got eclectic musical tastes. My iPod contains music by the Grateful Dead, The Durutti Column, The Clash, Brian Eno, moe. and Widespread Panic, as well as Bach, Haydn, Handel and Schubert. I’ve long explored all types of music, and the capacity of my iPod lets me carry a diverse selection of tunes with me.

For rock and pop music, the iPod (and iTunes; all my explanations here apply to both) is easy to use: insert a CD in your computer, rip the music, then create a playlist (or just listen to your songs in random order). But for classical music, and to a lesser extent jazz, you need a different approach. There are constraints in most classical music that keep you from ripping your CDs in the same way.

The Warriors of Silence – Chapter 2

Chapter 2


No one knows how the Scaythes of Hyponeros managed to secure so much influence on the planet Bella Syracusa, the Queen of the Arts.

Or how they infiltrated the entourage of the Ang family, the dynasty that had ruled uninterrupted for 15 standard centuries.

Or how they progressively got hold of key positions within the Empire.

Or how they managed to make themselves indispensable by creating the functions of thought detector and protector.

Or how, feared because of their extraordinary mental abilities, they gradually created a reign of terror.

Who were they?

No one knew anything about Hyponeros, or had even heard of this distant world, so distant that it may only have existed in people’s imaginations. But, it turned out that one of its offspring, Pamynx, was given the supreme dignity of being named Chancellor, an honor which had, up until then, been reserved for the sons of Syracusa’s leading families.

This event took place during the reign of Lord Arghetti Ang.

At the time, few were offended by it. What had become of the proud Syracusans of the days of the conquest? Were they empty shells, shadows, or just puppets of illusion?

Woe to he by whom the offence cometh.

Excerpt from an apocryphal mental text, received during his wanderings by Messaodyne Jhu-Piet, a Syracusan poet of the first post-Ang period. Some scholars think it may have come from stray thoughts of Naia Phytik, of Syracusan origin herself.