How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should | Macworld

FileVault 2 can make nations quake, apparently, but it’s just a bit of good information hygiene, letting you make choices about the degree of vulnerability you want to tolerate for your locally stored data and any software or stored passwords for services in your accounts. With it off, you’re not risking everything, but with it on, you have a high degree of assurance about who can access what.

My son’s MacBook Air got stolen last year when his apartment was burglarized. We spent a lot of time together changing passwords. With File Vault, we wouldn’t have had to do that. I strongly recommend using File Vault.

How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should | Macworld.

Pono Player review: A tall, refreshing drink of snake oil | Ars Technica

"You know how every once in a while you buy the $40 bottle of wine instead of the $8 one, thinking you’re gonna have a special dinner or something?" Senior Reviews Editor Lee Hutchinson wrote over instant message. "And you get home, and you make the salmon or the pasta or whatever and you light the candles? And you pour the wine, swirl it like they do in Sideways so that it looks like you know what you’re doing… you bring it to your lips and after smelling it–it smells like wine–you have a sip? And it’s like… yeah, I guess this tastes good or something, but really it just tastes like wine?

"The Pono Player is kinda like that, but for music."

Ars Technica on Pono; they nail it.

via Pono Player review: A tall, refreshing drink of snake oil | Ars Technica.

Has the mystery of Shakespeare’s Sonnets finally been solved? – The Guardian

Some of the finest, most quoted verses in the English language were dedicated to him, and for centuries literary scholars have tried to establish his identity.

Now fresh research suggests that the mysterious Mr WH, to whom Shakespeare’s sonnets were dedicated, was not, as had been thought, a contemporary English nobleman, but a recently deceased associate of the Sonnets’ publisher, Thomas Thorpe, which would explain the dedication’s strangely funereal form.

As Stanley Wells says in the article, “If it were agreed by scholars, this would be pretty momentous. People have spilled an enormous quantity of ink trying to identify this figure.” Indeed.

via Has the mystery of Shakespeare’s Sonnets finally been solved?.

Neil Young’s PonoPlayer: The Emperor Has No Clothes

David Pogue on Pono:

You’ve got to admit it: The argument for the Pono Player sure is appealing — that we don’t know what we’ve been missing in our music.

Unfortunately, it isn’t true.

He did a blind test with 15 volunteers. And they didn’t hear a difference.

So I wrote to Pono — and heard back from Neil Young himself.

“Of approximately 100 top-seed artists who compared Pono to low resolution MP3s,” he wrote, “all of them heard and felt the Pono difference, rewarding to the human senses, and is what Pono thinks you deserve to hear.”

Aha — there’s a key phrase in there: low-resolution MP3s.

[…]

Clearly, if Pono’s testing involved a remastered, high-resolution audio file going head-to-head with an original, crummy MP3 of the same song, you’d hear a difference.

[…]

My advice: If you want a better, richer, better balanced, less tiring, more comfortable listening experience, you don’t have to spend $400 on a new player and throw away your existing music collection.

Just spend a couple of hundred bucks on a nice pair of headphones.

Thank you David.

BTW, I think that Neil Young is a charlatan. Just saying…

via Neil Young's PonoPlayer: The Emperor Has No Clothes.

Archimago’s Musings: ‘Last’ Words on PONO – Mastering Analysis & General Comments

No surprise, Pono prefers bit-depth and samplerate numbers over more important matters (IMO) like dynamic range. Realize folks that LOUD, compressed masterings like those DR7’s from Pono do not deserve to be 24-bit files! Just because it’s 24-bit doesn’t make it sound any better – you’ve just wasted another 33% of your disk space.

Archimago bursts the bubble about Pono-mania.

via Archimago's Musings: 'Last' Words on PONO – Mastering Analysis & General Comments.

RIP Mac OS X Hints, Nov 4 2000 — Nov 4 2014

Dearly beloved…

On this, the occasion of its 14th birthday, we’re gathered here to mark the passing of Mac OS X Hints.

While it can be hard to tell exactly when a web site has died, the signs are fairly obvious. It’s been over 45 days since the last new hint appeared on the site. There is no way for new users to sign up for an account. There’s been one new comment posted in the last two days. A sidebar box proudly proclaims Latest Mountain Lion Hints. The site design, logo, and icons were last updated when I worked for Macworld, over four years ago. To paraphrase a Star Trek character, “it’s dead, Jim.”

I worked on the Mac OS X Hints web site for many years. I got to know Rob Griffiths, who founded the site, way back when, probably a couple of years after he launched this site. I worked with him writing a few chapters of a book which collected hints (whose title was so dumb, I won’t mention it). Subsequently, I filled in for Rob when he took vacations, took time off when his kids were born, and then, when he left Macworld, I took over as site editor for a while.

I’ll miss the site. It had lots of great information.

via RIP Mac OS X Hints, Nov 4 2000 — Nov 4 2014 | The Robservatory.

Audiences hate modern classical music because their brains cannot cope – Telegraph

“For decades critics of modern classical music have been derided as philistines for failing to grasp the subtleties of the chaotic sounding compositions, but there may now be an explanation for why many audiences find them so difficult to listen to.

“A new book on how the human brain interprets music has revealed that listeners rely upon finding patterns within the sounds they receive in order to make sense of it and interpret it as a musical composition.

“While traditional classical music follows strict patterns and formula that allow the brain to make sense of the sound, modern symphonies by composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern simply confuse listeners’ brains.”

At the risk of making a bad pun, this really is a no-brainer. Music follows a path of evolution, with gradual changes over the centuries, each composer varying slightly from what preceded them. It was only in the 20th century that these changes became revolutionary – as they did in the visual arts and literature – and listeners were left without landmarks.

“Mr Ball believes that many traditional composers such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven subconsciously followed strict musical formula to produce music that was easy on the ear by ensuring it contained patterns that could be picked out by the brain.”

Not so much strict musical formulas, but a way of making music that was familiar. No one wrote down the rules; composers simply figured them out from what worked.

I’ve written that a lot of contemporary classical music is boring, and that’s not because I don’t understand the styles, but, simply, because it’s not written to be enjoyable in the first place.

While I’m not a fan of the serialists – twelve-tone composers – because I find their music sterile, there is some dissonant music that I do appreciate. It took me a long time to learn to understand Charles Ive’s Concord Sonata, which is full of dissonance, but now that I do understand it, I can appreciate his music.

via Audiences hate modern classical music because their brains cannot cope – Telegraph.

Beckett’s Bilingual Oeuvre: Style, Sin, and the Psychology of Literary Influence

“This year marks the 60th anniversary of Waiting for Godot’s English publication — Beckett’s self-translation of his original French play, En Attendant Godot, back into his native language. Godot was not Beckett’s first attempt at French composition; he had begun writing poetry in French as early as 1938 and translated Murphy into French in 1939. But Waiting for Godot was Beckett’s major foray into what would become his career-long routine of composing in French and self-translating into English.”

via The Millions : Beckett’s Bilingual Oeuvre: Style, Sin, and the Psychology of Literary Influence.

Back when I was studying French, before I moved to France, I was also discovering Samuel Beckett. I was fascinated that he had written in a second language, then translated himself back into his mother tongue. Some of the first books I read in French were by Beckett, because his style is very simple.

I lived in France for 28 years (I now live in the UK), and, having become bilingual, was especially interested in authors who write in another language. There are many of them, from Joseph Conrad to Vladimir Nabokov, and even Jack Kerouac, whose first language was Canadian French.

And Milan Kundera, who is Czech, wrote a number of novels in his native language before immigrating to France in 1975. He then oversaw French translations of his works, and now considers those to be the definitive versions of his novels, and, from the 1990s, wrote only in French. He only allows translations from the French versions, not the original Czech texts.

Beckett forged a different identity in French. He famously said that in French, it was “easier to write without style.” He certainly had a unique style, in both French and English.

The great classical music swindle – and why we’re better off now

“…the recording industry tried to fix in the collective imagination what individual musical works should be, like the totemic masterpieces of the Western canon (or rather, like those pieces of music that were turned into canonised totems, in part by the recording industry): a series of desirable, aspirational cultural and commercial objects, a collection of black-lacquer-magicked things that could be literally possessed by anyone who bought a record of Furtwängler conducting the Ring cycle, or Toscanini conducting Verdi. There was also a broader fixitive effect on the whole shooting match of classical music, which — arguably — was reduced by the heroic stage of the recording era to a library of unchanging, perfected icons instead of a living, breathing, ever-changing cultural practice.”

via The great classical music swindle – and why we're better off now | Music | theguardian.com.

What the article doesn’t discuss is live performances. While I find Glenn Gould’s studio approach interesting, and love his recordings, live recordings are certainly more powerful. I think one can “fetishize” some live recordings as being especially powerful and unique. This is the case with rock and jazz as well: everyone familiar with the music knows that Bill Evans’ 1961 Village Vanguard recordings, or the Grateful Dead’s 8/27/72, 2/13-14/70, or 5/8/77 are masterpieces.

The broad access, which leads to the ability to compare versions is great, but it leads to another problem: that of having lots of different versions of works, and getting lost among them. I confess that this is something that happens to me with some works. But for others, I’m glad I have, say, Richter, Badura-Skoda, Schiff, Uchida, Lewis and Brendel in my collection when I want to listen to some Schubert piano sonatas.

Persistent Anti-GMO Myths

One persistent theme in my writing about scientific topics is that, to optimally serve our own interests, public discourse and decision-making on issues that are highly scientific should be informed by the best evidence and scientific analysis available, not on lies, myths, misconceptions, or raw ideology. I am therefore attracted to topics where I think the myth to fact ratio is particularly high.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) is one such issue. The propaganda machine seems to be way out in front of the more sober voices trying to correct the record and focus the discussion on reality. I also see GMO as the ideological flip side to global warming denial.  In the latter case we seen industry and free-market ideologues sowing confusion and misinformation. They also do the ideology shuffle — a dance in which, whenever they are nailed by the facts on one point, they state that their objection is really based on some other point. They never really acknowledge the point, just side-step it.

Anti-GMO activists, in my experience, operate the same way. They have marshaled every possible point they can against GMO, whether or not they are true or valid. When one such point is exposed as a myth, they simply slide over to some other point as their “real” motivation for opposition, but never give any ground.

via NeuroLogica Blog » Persistent Anti-GMO Myths.

I’ve often been surprised when I read what anti-GMO people think are the dangers of GMOs. There is a very strong level of superstition around GMOs, and, as this article points out, there is hard science behind GMOs. There are also a lot of myths around GMOs, and this article debunks many of them.