Launchbar Overview on Screencasts Online

Ever hear about Launchbar but not sure what it is? Check out Screencasts Online overview of Launchbar.

Launchbar is in the same vein as Quicksilver, and with Quicksilver development at a stall it’s become a very attractive option. I’ve been using Launchbar 5 for about a year. I feel hobbled when using a Mac without it. With a few keystrokes you can:

  • Play music in iTunes
  • Open and move files on your Mac
  • Move files around on your Mac
  • Use just about any search engine with search templates
  • Email files to an entry in your Address Book

Screencasts Online go over some of the basics of Launchbar. If it’s up your alley they also offer a discount code at the end of the episode.

There are some things that I wish Launchbar has that Quicksilver has (namely the “comma trick”), but I’m hoping that in Part II of this series they cover some things I may have overlooked.

Link: Requiem for a micro-celebrity

Michael Ashe

Michael Ashe, the actor who played Trip Fisk in Cautionary Tales of Swords, died in the summer of 2008.

Vanity Fair wrote an article covering CTOS and Ashe’s time as a struggling actor.

Michael Ashe was a professional actor, a lifer in the business. You could say the same of Paul Newman or Jerry Orbach, but Ashe was of a more common breed: the scrapper who never becomes famous but somehow makes a living…

But in 2007, the year he turned 75, Ashe finally achieved a degree of celebrity. “Micro-celebrity” is probably the better term, since Ashe’s new recognition came via the Internet. He was the star of a willfully ridiculous show called Cautionary Tales of Swords on Channel 101, a popular Los Angeles–based Web site known for its comic film shorts…In it, Ashe starred as Trip Fisk, the program’s grizzled, profane host, who presented vignettes in which incautious characters were slashed, gutted, and otherwise mauled by, yes, swords. In real life a dignified-looking man with a senatorial head of white hair, Ashe played Fisk decked out in a wife-beater tee, an eye patch, and a wig of long, bleached-out tresses that made him look like the eldest and most strung-out Allman Brother. Fisk’s catchphrase was “Don’t fucking touch swords! They’ll fuckin’ cut you wide open!” Uttered in Ashe’s parched rasp—he was a lifelong smoker—it was downright menacing. And very funny.

“He suddenly had this fan base of wacky kids,” says his daughter, Deborah Merle, who lives in New York. “He called me up, very excited about what was happening to him. It was weird watching my father do this character—the language was kind of shocking—but he was good at it. My daughter goes to Clark University, and she’d play the videos for her friends. They were like, ‘Oh my God, that’s your grandfather?’”

It also covers the conception of Cautionary Tales of Swords:

When Acceptable TV was not renewed, Hancock and his compadres refocused their energies on Channel 101, where the work was unsalaried but no one could fire them. Hancock decided to revive an idea for a mini-pilot that VH1 had deemed unacceptable for Acceptable TV: an utterly silly show about the dangers of swords. The germ of the idea came during the Acceptable TV days, when, he says, “We all got professional offices for the first time—and, therefore, the opportunity to decorate our offices.” A fellow 101er, Eric Falconer, used some of his VH1 cash to gussy up his space with a wall-mounted decorative sword. “This,” says Hancock, “got me thinking of how weird swords are. And then I couldn’t get the idea out of my head of Mike Ashe in a blond wig, wearing an eye patch.”

Linked: Wired’s article about Vaccines and Autisim

I enjoyed this article about the anti-vaccination movement.

What’s interesting to me is just how similar this debate is to global-warming. Among scientists there appears to be no debate. In both areas there is a small group of people that are skeptical and hold enough influence to sway people the other way.

I’ve never paid much attention at all to the anti-vaccine outcries that claim that they’ve been responsible for the rising rates of autism. Some vaccines contain amounts of mercury and aluminum, which brings up the question – why are those included? That question isn’t answered in Wired’s article.

But, as is explained in the article, what’s the motivation in vaccinations other than to protect the population? There’s not much money in it, at least when compared to the drugs you see advertised on TV like Viagra and Lipitor.

The drive behind the skepticism is probably best summed up by Lawrence Lessig, who basically says in his Change Congress presentations that no amount of data can persuade anybody when they simply don’t trust you.

Link: Gizmodo Reviews a Sex Toy

I wonder if they got a review unit for free since they put up such a stink over the Blackberry Storm 2.

The Fleshlight Motion is like an ottoman with a fake vagina on the side. You have sex with it. I did the deed with an inanimate object so you don’t have to, and these are my results. I feel dirty.

Ok. Maybe I jumped the gun on saying that blogs need to grow up.

Link: eMusic CEO Explains Controversial Price Increase, Sony Deal

Wired interviews eMusic CEO Danny Stein about their recent price increases and the addition of Sony’s back catalog.

Wired.com: What do you have to say to longtime subscribers who are so upset about prices going up?
Stein: We knew it was going to be tough breaking the news about the price increase, so we’ve been listening to all the reactions. We appreciate that our users have such a strong connection to eMusic and are very passionate and vigorous music fans. As I said at the top of this call, the price change is something that all of our labels have been asking for, for a long time, and it’s really a necessary move for us to maintain a viable business. Not only that, but to support the independent label community and their artists, through royalties. We still offer one of the best values for digital music. We’re about 50 percent cheaper than iTunes and Amazon. And we hope those people will stick with us and see what we do with the Sony catalog and all the other labels that we may get in the future. We hope that they’ll give it a shot and stay.

Many eMusic subscribers are upset about their announced price increases that more than double the price per track they got before. However, surely there are subscribers that saw the writing on the wall with 24¢ tracks and labels like Epitaph pulling out.

50¢ for a track isn’t that bad, but it still stings when you’ve been getting them for less than half that.

Link: Textbook rant

Seth Godin posted a rant about the college textbook industry.

As far as I can tell, assigning a textbook to your college class is academic malpractice…This industry deserves to die. It has extracted too much time and too much money and wasted too much potential. We can do better. A lot better.

This is why I think Seth Godin is the authority when it comes to marketing and growing your audience.

If there’s one good thing that results from the Kindle I hope it’s that it changes the way college textbooks are used.

Also note that the textbook he mentions in his post is not part of the Personal MBA It doesn’t appear that any standard business textbook is a part of this list.

Link: Macworld Reviews New White Macbook, Notes Performance Over Unibody

From Macworld:

While keeping the same sub-$1,000 price tag and the same white polycarbonate shell, Apple has quietly bumped the speed of the laptop’s Core 2 Duo processors from 2GHz to 2.13GHz and increased the hard drive capacity from 120GB to 160GB. The white MacBook now includes faster 800MHz DDR2 memory than its last iteration, which used 667MHz DDR2 RAM. These updates amount to not only a better performing entry-level MacBook, but also a system that’s faster than the 2.0GHz aluminum unibody MacBook that Apple sells for $300 more.

I’ve been holding off buying a Macbook because I think the unibodies will get a bump next week at Macworld. I’d like it even more if they put firewire back into the 13-inch models, but I don’t think that will happen.

It would be good for me because of my recent G5 problems. The cost of buying a Macbook Pro and keeping my current Firewire audio interface is just about the same as buying a regular Macbook AND a new USB interface. No matter what model, upgrading the drive would probably be the first thing I’d do – which is why I’d prefer a new model Macbook Pro over the old ones, which are a pain to upgrade.

Or I could just get the white Macbooks, but they just don’t *feel* right to me.

Link: Sony Adding All Songs Over Two Years Old To EMusic; EMusic Raising Prices [Cheap Music]

Sony is coming to eMusic, and eMusic will raise prices.

This is the first I’m reading about the price increase. I haven’t received an email about my plan changing – I’m on an annual plan so I’m not sure they can do much until I resubscribe in the fall.

Today eMusic will announce that Sony is adding its back catalog of songs to eMusic’s library. The bad news is that eMusic also plans to slightly raise prices and/or drop the number of downloads per month. Even if it works out to between 50-60 cents per track, though, that’s still far less than iTunes Music Store or Amazon, and probably the cheapest way to grab music from Sony artists without resorting to piracy.

Having been grandfathered in to eMusic’s 90 downloads per month plan at $20 (which is a really sweet deal) I suppose I should’ve known that it wouldn’t last forever.

Link: Going from failing to Straight As with GTD and Omnifocus

Colin Wheeler writes about GTD and how, along with OmniFocus, it enabled him to completely turn his grades around.

After I got on with this system of GTD and OmniFocus I went back to school full time again at a different and better school IMHO. For my parents they were still anxious given my past performance academically, but I wanted to go full force and get my school over with as I thought going part time would take far too long and just be dragging my program out. This time no letter came home saying I was failing my classes. At the end of the term I got my grades back 5 A’s. Both my parents were stunned at this, my mom asked me what I did different and I explained to her about Getting Things Done. She still doesn’t believe that GTD is the reason I did a 180, but it is.

Of course, GTD doesn’t turn anyone into a genius, but even being a genius doesn’t mean you can get your work done on time. The bar isn’t as high as many people think it is. In most cases all you really need to do is stay on top of due dates to blow people away, especially when they’re already used to disappointment.

Will that get you a job at NASA? Probably not, but it does contribute to your reputation of being a dependable person. I wish I used this system back when I was in school.

Link: Propellerheads Set To Enter Digital Audio Workstation Market |

Future Music is reporting that Propellerheads is going to unveil their new digital audio workstation soon.

This will not be an update to Reason, which will retain its own product category, but will be a new standalone product that will have full-on audio recording capabilities.

I’m interested, but do we really need another DAW? I’m still hoping/wishing that Reason becomes a plugin suite.

Adium 1.4 Will Have Twitter Support

I’ve been thinking of weening myself off the Twitter, but Adium’s upcoming implementation looks ideal.

Fear not! Using Matt Gemmell’s MGTwitterEngine, a library used to communicate with the Twitter API, I’ve managed to make what I consider to be a very good Twitter client into Adium. Your friends (people you follow) are displayed in a group on the Contact List: adding or removing will follow or unfollow them, and chatting with them will send (or receive) direct messages. Note that you can only send a direct message to someone who follows you, so it might be a one-way conversation.

Read more about it on the Adium blog, including a screenshot of Adium treating Twitter basically like group chat.

Link: I Went To The Mirror

Bob Lefsetz on Todd Rundgren:

But how come no one under twenty five seems to know Todd Rundgren? How come he had to do that execrable New Cars tour for the cash? Can’t we bring one of our supremely talented musicians/producers/engineers back? Someone who cut the Band’s “Stage Fright” and produced Grand Funk’s greatest track ever, “We’re An American Band”? Not to mention “Bat Out Of Hell”… Supposedly Todd cashed out his production royalty and bought a spread in Hawaii. He’s talent rich, and cash poor. And that just sucks. If Concord Records could give Ray Charles a final hurrah, can’t we do the same for Todd? As well as so many unsung geniuses?

Indeed, Todd Rundgren is a musician to admire these days. He played most, if not all the instruments on his albums before the days of bedroom studios and digital recording. His albums range from the soft rock he’s known for, like Hello, It’s Me, to electronic music and harder, arena rock.

Maybe that’s why he’s so overlooked. You can’t nail him down. As a musician he’s a chameleon; each record is different from the last. The ability for an artist to try something new with each record is something that we simply don’t value – and he’s been punished for it.

Photo by ▌ÇP▐

Link: The Case Against Everything Buckets

I know there are some who love software like Yojimbo, Yep, and other organizers – but I’ve never understood why they don’t just use the standard filebrowser. Alex Payne pretty much nails why I feel this way.

One of my Rules For Computing Happiness is: “do not use software that does many things poorly.” Everything Buckets violate this rule up, down, and sideways. They’re poor filesystems, poor text editors, poor databases, poor to-do lists, poor calendars, poor address books, poor bookmark managers, and poor password managers. At their worst, they’re even poor web browsers, poor encryption systems, and poor synchronization schemes.

Link: The New Pop Music Revolution – Pitching Products

From the New York Times

What happens to the music itself when the way to build a career shifts from recording songs that ordinary listeners want to buy to making music that marketers can use? That creates pressure, subtle but genuine, for music to recede: to embrace the element of vacancy that makes a good soundtrack so unobtrusive, to edit a lyric to be less specific or private, to leave blanks for the image or message the music now serves. Perhaps the song will still make that essential, head-turning first impression, but it won’t be as memorable or independent.

Link: Can I Resell My MP3s?

I’ve been waiting for this article for a while.

“But the first sale doctrine, (relatively) straightforward in the physical world, has been complicated by the easy copyability of digital works, the rise of EULAs, and the use of DRM and activation systems. Did the Castaway decision also pave the way for you to sell your MP3s? And if not, what’s the legal status of all that digital media the young people spend so much money on at iTunes and Amazon? Do they own it? Can they sell it? What about those Steam games? Can you resell that unopened copy of AutoCAD even though the EULA forbids it?

It occurs to me that a secondary digital music market still faces the challenges that the publishers face – namely competition from P2P networks and legal services like Pandora radio, last.fm, and others.

For me, the amount of effort it would take to sell an MP3 album I bought for $9 from Amazon isn’t worth the return I could get for selling that album as used.

That doesn’t mean it’s ok to restrict the resale of digital goods. As a consumer I’ve benefited greatly from this market with physical media. Once we start talking about $30-50 TV seasons downloaded from iTunes and Xbox Live Arcade games it gets a little more complicated, I think. Given the precedent of the physical-world resale market, I’m not so sold on the idea that a publisher should be able to restrict that market based upon verbose EULAs and license agreements.