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Scoring Essentials

Scoring Essentials. Chicks dig soundtracks.

OPINION SEPTEMBER 20 , 2000
Road Hog:
Road Hog Blues [Page 2 of 4]

I like that they've added two new colors, Indigo and Key Lime, which are both improvements and newly added FireWire—and the fact that iBooks are so sturdy, just like you want your toilet seats to be. But to the reservations expressed above, add that the iBooks hold less RAM, and use slower RAM, than PowerBooks and have a screen that's two inches smaller with a maximum resolution of only 800 x 600, and it's clear that these are far from ready for Road Hog status.

Which is why, of course, not one of you even mentioned the new iBooks to me when you asked when the PowerBooks would be announced. The best guess I've seen points to January's MacWorld, although that could conceivably be a mite early. The new iBooks come a year and three months after the last model, and January would only be a year since Pismo's introduction. I still like MacWorld. The San Francisco show is even bigger than the New York (formerly Boston) show, and it would take something big to even come close to this summer's announcements.

Regardless of when the announcement comes, there's no question that the last two months have raised our expectations of what we'll see in the new PowerBooks.

Long live the Road Hog.

SmartSound
Last week's talk of Sonic Foundry's ACID and Virtual PC from Connectix raised a lot of heated mail, which I'll talk about in a bit, but I was pleased to notice that BusinessWire picked up my story on multi-platinum band Garbage offering loops in the online Sonic Foundry ACID Lounge ... on Monday, nearly a full week after I ran it in The Hog. I'm guessing those boys at BusinessWire use peecees and play a lot of Solitaire, if you know what I mean.

But I got a few questions about the Mac program I mentioned as an alternative, SmartSound. It's from Sonic Desktop and actually cross-platform, but works considerably differently from ACID, toward a different goal. ACID allows users to build compositions using the most basic pieces, individual bass lines, a single cymbal, perhaps a brief piece of drums or a guitar riff.

In other words, the basic building block in ACID tends to include a single instrument for a brief duration. This is an approach that lends itself to loops, precisely because none of the pieces has any particular character on its own: no clear introductions, no big finishes. It's certainly easy to build very intricate compositions, but almost impossible to build a very organic-feeling piece that has the shape of what most of us think of as a song.

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