Thursday, November 29, 2012



Thursday, November 1, 2012


For a long time now I've considered Windows 8 to be something of a joke. It's certainly unattractive (to *my* sensibilities, anyway) and almost everything I've read about it seems to indicate that it's going to be a disaster.

But -- a couple of days ago I came across this article:

Jordan Rudess plays MorphWiz on Windows 8 PC and Surface tablet
Here's the relevent video:

Jordan Rudess (aka "the bald guy with the funny beard") is the keyboard player for the band Dream Theatre and he's been involved in music app development for iOS from the beginning. I think it says something -- I'm not precisely sure what -- that he's chosen to port his apps to Win8 and expand into this new territory. And I'm pretty sure MS is happy to have him on-board: he was part of the "keynote" for MS's Build 2012 conference this week.

It's interesting to note that Rudess has conspicuously chosen to jump into Win8 while almost entirely ignoring the Android market.

When I saw the video above that shows him "playing" a 27" Lenovo A720, it made me think that Apple missed a bet in their recent announcement of the next-gen iMac by not including a touch-screen surface. Maybe they will -- but that would mean that for the first time in a long time, Apple is following Microsoft's lead. Speaking purely for myself, a 27" touchscreen / music controller is at the top of my Christmas list. I would really love dual 3-octave "Animoog-style" keyboards with large keys where in addition to simply pressing each key, it has pressure sensitivity *and* you can use the X and Y motion of your fingertip to control a couple of parameters.

My takeaway on this: despite of all the fun that's been poked at Win8, I need to take it more seriously because it's beginning to show some really interesting strengths. I'm not going to ditch all of my Mac stuff and switch to Windows 8 -- but I'm kinda sorry I sold all of my Microsoft stock.

My Friend Cliff / New Science Fiction

I've known Cliff Pickover (his home page - his Wikipedia entry - his Twitter feed - his corporate page - his Amazon page - his Reality Carnival blog) for, sheesh, I think 25 years now? I got to know him via the "SFIDEAS FORUM" when I joined Big Blue, and over the years he and I have collaborated on a number of patents and stuff. It's nice to have old (as in "long time") friends. The strange thing, though, is that during all of that time, I've only met him face-to-face twice.

Still, I classify him as one of my oldest and best friends. In case it's not obvious, Cliff has a fairly substantial writing career going alongside his day job, and of late he's been making a pretty big splash with his "science" series of books: The Medical Book, The Physics Book, and The Math Book. I'd love to see these as interactive eBooks someday.

Basically, he's got that Stephen King "If I don't write I'll die!" thing going on. I'm slightly jealous: I've always figured I had a good novel or two in me. But I find it difficult just to get motivated to write a blog post like this, much less a 500 page book (or a 1500 page trilogy)(my understanding is that these days a lot of publishers won't even talk to you unless you're willing to do a trilogy).

Oh well, I'll live. These days I have no idea how one would go about getting published. All of the free stuff on the web, plus Amazon and other self-publishing options, eBooks ... the business has changed a lot, and it's not done yet, either.

All that said, both Cliff and I like Science Fiction a lot. This morning we were talking about some new writers and swapping some URLs and I thought I'd share a few of them here.

The Fluted Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - This is from his short story collection Pump Six And Other Stories, which I highly recommend. Be forwarned, Bacigalupi's visions of the future are not entirely pleasant.

Hell Is The Absence Of God by Ted Chiang - Hugo and Nebula winner, 2002.

Exhalationby Ted Chiang - Hugo winner, 2009.

Understand by Ted Chiang - Hugo nominee, 1992.

What's Expected Of Us by Ted Chiang

((Lots of Ted Chiang, I know, but damn he's good. These stories and more by Ted Chiang are in his collection Stories Of Your Life And Others, also highly recommended).

That's all for now. Hope you enjoy the stories!