Tag Archives: iPad

A New Way For Music: Eno and Soundcloud

I’m a total news junkie. Always reading, listening, scanning; it’s fun for me. And I’m a music geek — that’s practically a religion. So of course I was interested in this story about Brian Eno reported by MarketPlace Tech Report, available via SoundCloud.

Brian Eno

Photo: Brian Eno | Edit: rsmithing | Click for original

Eno has just launched a musical app, Scape, that gives listeners a new system for interacting with the sounds. Interestingly, Eno & his team developed the concept for this years before we all had smartphones and tablets. He describes it as:

…the move from one type of composer to another: the “let’s push the boat out together & see where it lands” type.


Scape App

So as listeners, we have the opportunity to be something more, while using an artist’s input to make our own creation. Not unlike Instagram, or audio mashups like those by John Boswell, aka Melodysheep.

I’ve never listened to much Brian Eno music, but I thought I’d give this interview a chance. Wow, am I glad I did. Eno is a deep musical thinker, which makes for a highly interesting listen, especially considering his perspective, having worked on such a breadth of projects. Many of my favorite artists have either worked with or referenced him regularly (Depeche Mode, NIN, Devo).

The guy is quite eloquent. Here are some quips from the full interview:

  • On his new album: “A closely-guarded secret launched onto an ocean of indifference.”
  • On using Scape: “You’re making an ecosystem of sounds. You’ve got quite a few creatures you can put into this little garden here.”
  • On curation: “We’re going to have to come up with this type of system to short circuit the vast amount of material that’s out there for us to look at now.”

Putting curation into practice, Eno has a friend whose taste he admires send him a mix CD of new music each month… but doesn’t get the list of artists and songs until one month later, in order to “listen without prejudice,” since as a professional musician, he isn’t necessarily listening to as much music as he might be creating. It’s an interesting concept, especially to hear Eno himself describe it (at about 15:32)…

SoundCloud: I Like It

Besides the content, what really motivated me to blog about this interview was the opportunity to explore SoundCloud at the same time. SoundCloud is a site I’m becoming more pleased with every time I interact with it.

I started listening to the interview on my iPhone through iTunes, having subscribed to the podcast previously. In the brief 4-minute story from the podcast, the host referred listeners to the extended version at the MarketplaceTech.org site. I keyed that in and found a link to the full interview, which played on my phone effortlessly over 3G, streaming through SoundCloud. Having previously registered at the site, I was able to add it to my list of “likes,” and embed a clip here on the blog afterward, since I emailed myself a link and tweeted about it from the site’s mobile page:

It’s great to discover and interact with something new — successfully, enjoyably and consistently like SoundCloud.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Brian Eno’s music? What other collaborative art examples does this bring to your mind? Do you have any experience with SoundCloud or similar sites? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Digital Ancestry: an iPad Forerunner

iPad Ancestry by rsmithing
iPad Ancestry, a photo by rsmithing on Flickr.

A while back at a thrift shop I came across this beast of some old technology. I remember in grade school there being several cubbies with these things in them that played cassette tapes while advancing a reel of slide film that was projected on this giant screen. It seemed appropriate to me to capture it using my iPhone with an app that mimics “vintage” photos, Hipstamatic.

I remember sitting in front of these things, having set up a reel of film and listening for the cue on the tape to advance to the next one. I think I even wore headphones. For a young school kid, this was a fairly entertaining, interactive educational experience. And there was a real production value to these – carefully crafted photography and studio-recorded voiceovers.

Can you think of a similarly interactive audio-visual device with a large screen that could be used for education? Seems everywhere I look there’s a new reminder of how today’s tech was preceded by something else. It makes me wonder what we’ll have decades from now that make our iDevices look primitive.

Have you ever seen one of these things or do you remember something similar from your younger days? Or are these still in use? What do you think will surpass today’s tech along these lines? Let us hear from you in the comments.

PhotoForge2: My First App Review

I’ve used plenty of iPhone apps, reviewing none. PhotoForge2 changes this. For anyone familiar with Photoshop, here’s your app. It’s as good as Photoshop for photo manipulation, and as a graphic designer of 15 years, I would know. It’s nearly all here: layers, masks, blending modes, undo, curves, HSL, Unsharp Mask!?!? Yep, that, too.

Photoforge2 Screen Shot

Screen capture of PhotoForge 2 (credit: GhostBird): Layers, and masks, and tools… oh my!

If you’re a Photoshop user, you already know how to use PhotoForge2. It accomplishes in minutes with your thumb and iDevice what would otherwise require $1000+ in computer & software investment, certainly well enough for things like Instagram, and possibly even commercial work. It’s fast, stable, intuitive, and a steal at anything less than a full-on editing setup. As of this writing it’s on sale for 60% off and will set you back a whopping $1.99. That’s less than a beer.

Do note that PhotoForge2 is more for adjustments rather than painting or illustrating, (emphasis is on filters vs.  pen or brush drawing, for example), but so many of the built-in goods like vignette and frame effects should more than satisfy for basic edits, and set you up nicely for some pro-level results, even from a point-and-shoot camera.

You should also be aware that PhotoForge2 does not offer tools like clone or magic wand (hint-hint… next version maybe?), but you will still be able to execute your vision with what’s available fairly easily. I’ll often do workarounds that get me by, or use it in combination with other apps. The omission of some things like a free rotate or straightening seem glaringly odd, but these are very minor quibbles with an app of this one’s obvious prowess. (UPDATE, MARCH 2012: And, now it has this tool. Proof that Ghostbird Software is awesome)

I gave it 5 stars, but edited some out!

My PhotoForge work on app review. Click for full size.

Other apps specialize in color isolation and light effects, which is fine if that’s all you’ll ever want, but PhotoForge2 is The Mother Lode. Wired magazine says you’ll get $2 worth of entertainment out of it in the first ten minutes. I say two minutes. And they aren’t paying me to say that.

Funny, I remember with the iPad’s debut, all the sudden talk of tablets taking over for PCs. I thought, sure, but not for serious things like image editing. Um… yeah.

If you find this useful, share it on Twitter — thanks!

What’s your favorite photo editing app and why? Do you already use PhotoForge2? What’s your experience been, and what features would you like to see in the next version? Let us hear from you in the comments.