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February 2011 Meeting Hilights

By Monte Ferguson

A Tale of Two Trade Shows Part II

After the Christmas buying season frenzy has worn down most of the country gets back to everyday affairs. But for the gadget geek in the family the New Year brings in two big electronics trade shows. One is geared to industry insiders and professionals, CES, the other to consumers, MacWorld Expo. The difference in focus, and audience ensures that the shows are very different affairs.

MacWorld Expo ran later in the month of January. Too late for us to cover it at the January meeting. We touched upon it at the February meeting. The general consensus after the show was mixed. Either attendees said it was a great show or it was not worth going. There was no doubt that Apple’s absence, and therefore other big vendors like Adobe and Microsoft's no shows, have had a material impact on the show. The overall impression was that this years show, the second since Apple no longer attends, was definitely better than last years. The show was physically bigger than last year, with couple dozen more vendors and several thousand square feet of in-use floor space.

We highlighted some interesting developments at the show which demonstrates that it is still a valuable place for developers and customers to mingle. Cirrus Thinking released Dolly Drive. It takes cloud storage, provided by the developer, as available drives in Time Machine. When it's time for Time Machine to run, encrypted files are saved to the cloud. It does Time Machine one better by having an Inclusion Assistant to help you figure out which files to back up. It also can make a bootable clone of your hard drive. Another innovative program turns your Mac into a live-video production studio. BoinxTV Home includes tools like lower thirds, text and titles, tickers, green screen backgrounds, and more. It works on any video captured by a live camera, including iSight cameras, at a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. An interesting hardware device debuting at the show was called the Express. It is a machined-aluminum lap platform that elegantly holds both Apple's Wireless Keyboard and a Magic Trackpad. The result looks like an oversized version of a MacBook Pro keyboard/trackpad. It is made by BulletTrain.

The consensus was that MacWorld, though a shadow of its former glory, is still alive and kicking. Unlike CES, which is only open to the press and professionals, MacWorld is open to anyone. It is the last of its kind. If the organizers can keep fine tuning the show they should be able to keep it going.

The other big news of the month was that Apple released an iPhone 4 for Verizon. For those who were current Verizon subscribers we discussed their options on purchasing a phone. We also compared and contrasted the plan features, as well as costs, between ATT and Verizon. We wrapped up our talk by noting that in any market where the iPhone was available on multiple carriers it spurred competition which is good for us as consumers. Of course it has also been good for Apple.

We concluded our meeting with our featured presentation. It was conducted by our own Duane Weller. The topic was fixing and improving your audio recordings. Duane started out by noting that there are a large number of audio recording and mastering programs. Which one fits your needs, and your budget, is the best program to use. Duane likes Apple's Logic line of products. (Those on a budget can use GarageBand for some audio tweaking or a free program like Audacity.) There are also dedicated programs, an example being Sound Soap, that attack audio issues like hiss or pops in an audio track. Duane demonstrated some features in his favorite app that eliminate unwanted noises in a recording. He then showed us some techniques that improved the overall recording, for instance normalization. He fielded a bunch of good questions regarding hardware and software needed to perform these actions.

Posted: Saturday, April 16th, 2011

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