June 2007 - Chris Ullrich dot net
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June 2007

Can’t Talk, Playing With the iPhone

Yes, I managed to snag one on Friday (the 8gb model, btw). Yes, its very, very cool. Yes, I will have more to say about it. Yes, I can’t say it here (blame AOL, not me). So please, look elsewhere for all things iPhone from me and other far more intelligent people. In fact, why not go here.

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I’m Very Important

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Sure, I’m joking with the title of this post. My ego isn’t quite that big. However, I do have some rather good news to share. Well, good for me at least. For the rest of you, it won’t really mean all that much except for the fact that I’m sure you all want to see me happy and doing well. I really appreciate that, btw. So, what is this great bit of news then?

Well, starting this week I’m bringing all of my exhaustive Macintosh and Apple love and knowledge to a new venue: The Unofficial Apple Weblog (aka TUAW). Some of you may already have seen me at this new website as I already started writing there yesterday. But if not, head on over and check out some of my posts — mostly about the iPhone at the moment — but as things progress, I’ll be branching out into all-things Apple.

I’ve secretly (and not so secretly) wanted to write for TUAW for quite some time and as I already work for Cinematical (which is owned by the same company: Weblogs, Inc. / AOL) it was only a matter of time before I managed to work my way into writing for TUAW. And now, all that hard work has paid off and I got what I wanted. So, if you get a minute, head on over and take a look.

The site is good (better now that I’m there of course) and can fulfill your every wish where Apple and Apple-related news, reviews and more are concerned. This is one of the things I was talking about recently that I couldn’t talk about. The other is still hush-hush but should be ready for public consumption sometime soon.

In other news, I’m now back from my travels to Portland and am pretty happy to be back in LA. Although, as I mentioned earlier, i really like Portland and at one time or another, entertained thoughts about moving there. After all, I really love comic books and there are a bunch of people there doing just that so it seems a natural place to go.

In truth, I might make the move if it was just me. But as its not, I need to consider other people’s thoughts and feelings about the situation. Given that, I feel pretty strongly I won’t be leaving LA any time soon. However, you never really know, do you? Life is funny sometimes and once in awhile you actually do get what you want. The trick, of course, is knowing what that is.

Land o’ Ports and Coffee, Beer and Creative Juices

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As some of you may know, I’m currently up in the Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon. It’s a great city with many of the things I enjoy most about life: coffee, beer and free wi-fi. There’s also an abundance of great food and people who are very friendly and don’t act like the world owes them something.

Sure, Portland also has its less favorable elements too but in my experience (rather limited, I grant you), these negatives don’t really detract from the positive experience as a whole. In other words, I like it here. So, now that I’ve professed my love for the city, why am I up here in Stumptown?

Well, my fantastic, talented, intelligent and extremely manly editor at Comic Book Resources, Jonah Weiland, has me up here doing a story about the Portland comic book scene. Yes, among its many virtues, Portland is also home to a very big comic book community of artists, writers, publishers and others who work in and around the comic book world.

Dark Horse, Oni and Top Shelf are some of the main publishers here and many super-talented folks like Brian Bendis, Greg Rucka and Rick Remender live and work in Portland as well. To be honest, I am beginning to understand the attraction to living here. The town seems geared to fostering the creative forces necessary to make something: be it a comic book, a song or something else.

At the moment, I’m sitting in a coffee house on SE Belmont Ave. ( I would name it specifically but that would mean rising from the couch that has sucked me almost entirely inside itself) taking full advantage of the great iced coffee and free wi-fi. In addition, there’s some great music playing (The Cure, btw) which is not so loud that I can’t hear myself think but instead is volumed just right (volumed? look, i make up words. no extra charge!). Some other coffee houses could take a lesson from the correct song volume demonstrated here (yes Starbucks, I’m talking about you).

Another nice thing about this place is that people are leaving me alone. Not once has someone come over to ask me to borrow my paper or ask for change or to buy their rap cd with “clean” lyrics or to tell me that the table I’m sitting at is usually reserved for people eating lunch. Instead, I’m sitting, Powerbook in my lap, enjoying my iced coffee and writing this post without a care in the world and with no annoying distractions that are counter to the creative process.

Thank you Portland for allowing me to rest comfortably and spend a little time creating something. See you again soon.

Trying Out an RSS Service Thingy (sorry, its technical)

Sorry folks but I’m just doing a quick experiment to see if something works. Afterward I will return you to your regular programming. Thank you for your patience.

The Apple Developer Keynote Made Me iSleepy

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It may come as somewhat of a surprise that I, the vehement Apple fan would ever say anything even remotely negative about my favorite computer — er, sorry “consumer electronics” — company, but here I am saying just that. After much hype, speculation and furor all across the web and beyond, the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference Keynote went off this morning not with the expected bang, but with a whimper. And not a particularly interesting whimper either.

Sure, there were some interesting things about it but those bits of joy were few and far between. Basically, what it amounted to was a big commercial for Apple’s upcoming update to OSX called Leopard and some bits about the iPhone and the fact that yes, you can now experience the bliss of using the Safari web browser on your Windows PC. There are some cool ones like Time Machine and the new look for the Desktop but without actually using it I can’t get too excited yet. If you’re really interested, the full list of the new features Leopard has to offer can be found here.

I have to say I was expecting more. Although, some might argue that I really shouldn’t because this event is geared towards software developers and so isn’t the place to debut new, exciting updates to Apple’s products. Nor is it the proper venue to announce new additions to Apple’s ever-expanding line of consumer electronics. That might be true but Apple needs to remember one thing when they decide the content for these keynotes: everyone is watching.

Apple is a trend-setting company whose products have a tremendous appeal and whose influence is felt in many corners of the business and consumer markets. They are not the little company in Cupertino trying to make it anymore. They are a world player to rival the biggest in the industry and they shouldn’t waste any opportunity to announce new stuff — especially stuff people are really waiting to see. So, given all of that, what did I want from the keynote? I’m glad you asked because I made a list:

• Something about an update for Apple’s ailing suite of .Mac offerings. The days where getting what amounts to an email account and 1GB of online storage for a hundred bucks a year are drawing to a close. Apple needs to make .Mac more valuable and even better, make it free, for it to compete in today’s world where Google gives it all away. Not only that, but now it seems that .Mac was not only overlooked during the keynote, but has disappeared from Apple’s website completely. Mmm, I wonder where it’s gone? Hopefully it will surface somewhere new and be more fantastic than ever. Google anyone?

• Something about an update for Apple’s suite of iApps which include iPhoto, iMovie and iWeb. I like all of these applications but it would be great if they did more — especially in the case of iWeb. Its pretty good for version 1.0 but it really needs more features and more custom features to remain viable. Of course, there’s always the chance that the iApps are also going to appear somewhere else. Maybe they will end up being available the same way .Mac will?

• New hardware. How about an updated iMac in stunning aluminum enclosure or something I really, really want: a 13″ MacBook Pro. Surely Apple recognizes the need for a ultra-portable Mac laptop for business people who don’t want to lug the 15″ MacBook Pro around with them and who won’t want to use a MacBook. More than anything, I would really love Apple to come out with this kind of machine. If they do, I’ll be ordering one the first second its available. I can’t be the only person who wants one of these, can I?

• Tone down the iPhone hype a bit. Sure, the iPhone looks cool and on the surface seems to have a bunch of great features. But seriously, its not the second coming or anything. It’s a phone that supposedly does a lot of other stuff still unproven in real-world conditions.

So, while you’re flogging the crap out of the iPhone, it might not be a bad idea to remember your loyal user base of Mac computer users. You remember them, right? The ones that kept buying Macs even though everyone in the press was predicting Apple’s imminent demise? They kept the company going during the dark times of Amelio and Scully so please try to remember and throw them a bone once in awhile. They deserve your respect and your thanks.

All the hype and attention surrounding the iPhone and its imminent release to a salivating public is one of the reasons I’m counting the days until it finally comes out. Once its finally out there and succeeds massively or falls flat on it shiny, touch screened face, maybe Apple can then get back to doing what it has always done best, make terrific computers that “just work.” Until then, if I have to watch any more Keynotes like this I’m gonna need a lot more coffee.

Six Issues Facing the Comic Book Industry

Over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon lays it out for you and shares his thoughts about the biggest issues facing the comic book business today. Its a good read and one, if you have any interest in comic books, that you should take a look at. For a different perspective, Heidi MacDonald at The Beat offers her observations of Tom’s observations. Its all very observationy (if that’s even a word. let’s pretend it is, ok?)

Oh, the picture below is of my favorite alternative covers of Astonishing X-Men #1 by the gripping Gabriele Dell ‘Otto, written by the wonderful Joss Whedon and with art by the cool John Cassaday. This series of books is one of the reasons I got back into comics after a long haitus. Now, thanks to Joss and company I’ve gotten to experience a whole new world of comic books I never read before. Its been great so far and I expect it to get even better.

And yes, I like the X-Men. You got a problem with that?

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My New Favorite Movie ‘DOA’

Sure, you could call it cheesy but what the hell. its got action, swords, guns, explosions and hot babes. All you could ever want in a movie. And heck, even Eric Roberts is in it too. What could be better? Enjoy!

Apple won’t sell 10 million iPhones, Secrets and “Mac Chicks”

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I don’t know for sure but it does seem like Lance Davis doesn’t have much love for Apple, Steve Jobs or the iPhone. Or, it could be that he’s just a reserved Brit used to having lowered expectations and settling for less. Or, he’s just not been effected enough by Job’s notorious “reality distortion field.” Whatever the case, his conclusions seem wrong to me. I could tell you why but over at TUAW, David Chartier does it for me (and you) so take a look over there.

Why am I linking to another Apple website instead of commenting myself? Well, I could tell you but its not something I can talk about yet. Yes, another one of those “secrets” I seem to have of late. I know, I hate secrets too. And while we’re on the subject, surprise birthday parties. But rest-assured all will be revealed in short order. As soon as I know something, I will let you know. Until then, enjoy this months latest “Mac Chick of the Month” Mandy Amano over at Macenstein.

Actually, on a bit of a side note, my frequent collaborator Anthony D. and I almost cast Mandy in a project once — right before her now infamous Pepsi Superbowl add aired. Sadly, the project fell through (as they sometime do) and we didn’t have the pleasure of working with Mandy. Maybe next time. Although now, we probably can’t afford her. At least we still have the new photos and the one I took at the casting.

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