July 20


Google Moon provided an impressive recreation via map/multimedia of the moon landing July 20, 1969 – 3:17 PM Houston touchdown + seven hours later lunar walk. At the moment of the broadcast I was a teenager, and the day was TV trays sometime in the afternoon in Hawaii watching the black and white blur box cracking “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Exciting times, because one year earlier Stanley Kubrick’s 70mm film from April 1968 planted in our minds where we would clearly be in 2001.

The Egyptian boy-King gazes past his destiny in 1320 BC.



Ringtone Practice and Theory based on iPhone

Making ringtones for iPhone is easy. No need for a fancy program or buying it from a commercial source. You can make a unique sound for each caller.

An iPhone ringtone is just a standard iTunes song format changed to an .m4r extension. Here are the steps.

Create/ edit sound.
Save as Mp4 or ACC
Change extension to .m4r
Select the ringtone files tab in iTunes
Drop file in iTunes ringtone section.
Sync phone making sure Ringtones is selected for sync.
2. (alternate method) create a .wav file.  drop in Itunes, select it, choose Create ACC, move both the .wav and .acc file out of itunes.
  1. Create/ edit sound.
  2. Save as mp4*
  3. Change the mp4 file extension to .m4r
  4. Select the ringtone iTunes files tab
  5. Drop .m4r file in iTunes ringtone section
  6. Sync phone making sure ringtones is selected for sync
  7. On phone got to settings to assign as default, or to contacts to assign to a person.

*Step 2 expands if you are editing .wav file.s Here is the method to create mp4 (ACC) format from .wav files.

  • create a .wav file in Soundedit, or any sound program.
  • drop in Itunes
  • right click it and choose choose Create ACC Version
  • copy out the .acc file from iTunes
  • delete both the .wav and .acc file appearing in iTunes
  • continue with step 3.

Theory of Ringtones

A unique ringtone is your ring tone, and in a room of ringing phones, you know for sure when it is your call. In fact you can tell who is calling, if you have that tone assigned to a person in your contact book. Making a set of personal ringtones that are in a family is even better. I email my personal ringtone to my friends so they can assign it to me.

Which makes a good ringtone? That loud boom-box phoney who strolls down the hall annoying everyone, screeching acid music or a voicetone saying “Jim, this is Steve, I want to talk to you”. These are the Darwinian dead ends of call tone culture. Music itself is often offensive to someone. Some people love country, others hate it. Some love rock, others hate that. But clearly it says to the world you are a fan of one particular tribe. Ok, but is it really you? And might you better be served by an abstract tone?

Generally it is good to stay abstract and somewhat musical aiming for “bell perfection” – the original hailing tone of ancient telephones. Let’s look at the original bell, once cliche, now an archetype.

Bells and Cells

It is hard to beat the bell. That sound is instinctively recognized, and when you hear it, you know what to do. However that same sound comes from anyone’s phone.  How many times have you been in a room when a ringer goes off and everyone is turning to answer their phone? Avoid this by getting personal. You want a bell, but different. Apple launched iPhone with the percussive Marimba. The sound is brief, the short beats warrant attention.  But it could come from anyone with an iPhone.

A percussive-oriented sound is good. The best ones are original, made from scratch. The second best are “obscure” samples that you edit, and even modify.

Let’s look a little closer at the principles of the bell sound.

Ringing 101

The original phone had a metal bell with an electric ringer. Over years of repetition of the same bell construction, the tone is identical everywhere. Millions of people are used to hearing and practiced at picking up the instrument. The pickup cancels the bell and opens the circuit for conversation with the caller at the other end of this phone.  But the actual tonal of an “alarming” pattern of percussive sound, silence, and its repetition is what people are used to.

In the era of the computer any digital sound is possible to shape any tone and assign this so a specific calling device. Personal sounds are an interesting subject. You could not do this on the old phone system with a single bell. On a cellular system the ringtone designates the caller.

For a mobile cell phone, the ringtone should be relatively short. When the call tone cycles back to itself, the end should fit with the beginning.  The tone should be able to be heard in a room of people, so the tone should be of higher pitch than the spoken voice. Low tones and low volumes on a cell phone are almost impossible to hear. Better tones are percussive and have an alerting function. Using a sound editor you are likely to raise the volume and use an audio compressor.

– to be continued

Apple WWDC09 – Become your own carrier

iphone3gsApple has the hardware, software, content and the user experience to tie this all together with an intelligence that no competitor in any one of these industries can synthesize. As the future hurdles on toward smaller, more communicative realtime devices what is Apple missing? Becoming its own carrier.

How often do I buy a product thinking, if only Apple designed it. Apple doesn’t just build and box something. They think outside the product about how a person will interact with the many other things in their life. Consider how the new iPhone 3Gs (speedy, beautiful) shows a new 3 MP camera(adequate), but Apple adds this nice autofocus touch-tap to focus on the image. Wished my viewfinder had that on my camera. Apple goes utside of the picture-taking devices part, easily transporting pictures to iPhoto (comes with every Mac). The command is “Share”  to get the final images easily on the web. Back to the point.

What is clear at Apple WWDC09 and voiced by the 5200 others is how badly their no-show prime carrier is performing. At&t has brought nothing to the Apple party. No stage presence here. This very lack of coordination smacks of Dell vs Micorosoft preferring an enmity to building a product superior to Apple. It begs the question. What if Apple were to become its own wireless carrier? Clearly at&t is not keeping up with Apple’s pace of innovation. Witness no MMS at the cascade of announcements. The operator has inferior stores to buy product. If you have issues with Apple’s Genius bar – don’t even try to buy from an at&t sales person. At my local at&t store they actually told me to take the Apple iPhone outside of their store to open the box!

at&t offers one thing. As a regulated monopoly they convey their precious frequency on which Apple iPhone’s do their 3G traffic. Sprint may be the only carrier with the  nimbleness to go beyond being a pipe, but they signed with Palm. Verizon, with greater coverage could be even slower in bureacractic support than at&t but they have the towers.  Operator’s do not live in a free market.  That is a future to fear. Their worst nightmare? To become the “dumb pipe”.  If they continue to retard innovation then they will not enjoy the benefits of either end. Apple deserves a great partner – itself. Handset makers are on notice doing what they can to stay in the game. How soon before operators get the word as the telecom market simply ends up following the piper sprinkling the golden seeds.

Apple figure’s things out. Putting capital and coercive FCC considerations aside, Apple could become the operator with the best wireless Internet services.

Jeff Jarvis’s basic thought-experiment guide “What Would Google Do?”, admits that Apple is the exception to his Google rules. So for the wireless world in which we are entering, where everything communicates and computes in smaller and smaller packages, might Apple add services to its operating plan. What if a carrier were as imaginitive and integrated with customer services and producst as Apple? I find myself full of answers when more and more I ask, “What would Apple do?”

The New Personal Art


raw thoughts unstrung:

Custom tennis shoes. Personal photography. Karaoke. Personal clothing, pictures and songs are part of the world of personal recipes, personal restaurant tip sheets, personal hand marks, signs, bookmarks. Then there are personal ethics, personal saviors, personal religion.

Internet of a hundred thousand pictures a week, a million radio stations streaming, ten million blogs changing weekly, one hundred million daily voices. Layers, transparencies, textures of language, overlays of culture. An event is mediated by ten thousand photographers. Tens of thousands of videos, audios, text (blogs) carry the message to the rest of the world. All are resampled, remixed and mashed up. A band called God uses all the languages of the Earth in one  line after another.  Singers in one line speak in Japanese, gangster English, French, Swedish, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese and back. What do you call that art?

With so much digital media around the largest movement in aesthetics  is the editing. Cutting, framing, overlaying, forming transparencies and building fine multiple overtones. With personal choice it is looking more and more like personal magical editing ritual is the difference, because the source is the same for most.  Does this not put greater value on the source, the making? Or is it as Buckminster Fuller said – mankind no longer needs to mine the Earth, there is plenty on the surface – only a recycling strategy counts. Not editing but a meltdown to be reborn.

As The Medium is the Message, Mcluhan would say your autobiography is no different from Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed. Life is the message. The difference is the sanctimonious message and your life is that one has had a chance to embellish your moral code, pause on the mythology of your work, trumpet your psychological struggles. Someday everyone will have their own personal church. A grand personal philosophy, an art movement, your Blue period, your Romantic group, your Classical era, your expressive experimentalism, the morph of good luck to a personal religious symbol. It is all there, lived but unwritten, untold. One’s reverence another’d. There are the hearsayers, observers, appreciators, lovers, believers, fans, fanatics?  In the end, culture is what you choose to repeat. Although propagation strategies count, the recipe for the repetition of free unexplored life has eluded our many races and religions who resound and enforce that they know it all. The value is fundamentally on your person, you as the source. Your presence is the vital value. In fact it is your valued life that distinguishes you from the monotheistic sagas insisting you are worthless in the site of their Lord.

What was once His became his then yours then mine. History is his story and mine is the future. Over time we tire of having in our head only the “great song” ethed in by mega-hearings. Who has their own song inside? That is the new personal art that values the raw unworshipped person. The real person is of all potential.

There are many Darwinian branches of the culture tree broadcasting media they would have us believe. The same told stories of the fathers had nothing to do with their actual lives. Certainly not of their sons – for no religion has succeeded to caste the correct moral disposition of familyhood. In fact children naturally defy religious conversion – the rite of the dying soul, the soul that has lost its way, simply forgotten its childhood. The umph of your young character is the only protection you have from attack of religion.

Certainly most people have an equally potent set of life forming challenges. The story gets told, converted to metaphor and wisdom only later.

The poetry of our gate, our subtle dance, even walking down the sidewalk is your own, savor it because noone will see your  walking. You will see only the music in your lover’s walk. Individuals are busy being born, preferable to the being dying.

Where the new personal art leads is to push aside the trash and pave ahead with your every growing child-self.

So the tourist is only good if as a traveler they create places for people to travel to as interesting as they have seen.

This is the personal art. The art of being a person.

EPSON 7900 – First Impressions


{note in hindsight – the entire line of Epson 7900/9900’s have serious issues and purchasers should avoid buying them.  Epson and my dealer refused to address issues well blogged about. What follows is how I felt at the first purchase}
After years of waiting, I bought my first industrial printer.  I am one of the first owners of an Epson 7900 in the US, so I pay the price. Here is what I have learned. From this first release, if I were a Mac-only person I could not get the job done so early success depended on the PC.
From scratch, without much help, other than the manual, prints came to life. However connecting to Macs and PCs take steps. Small steps. Lots of assumptions are dashed. Assumptions about how the printer should work as opposed to learning why it doesn’t and doing it the machine’s way. The key challenges are mastering the machine and the network.
There is another reason this is an industrial printer. Moving it from the palette crate, into your studio, is much a thinking man’s game as a brawny one’s. Even though I asked three buddies over, with a rug over a dolly, I got it most of the way – especially through narrow doors that must be taken off hinges. Alas the stair steps. Lifting up stairs takes three brawny men, two on the bottom. A few beers later it is back to science.
Although the Mac has a 16  bit color workflow down to the printer driver,  I moved to the PC temporarily because this was the only update for the FW image initially. The Mac versions from Epson are flowing now. The first firmware update ran for 45 minutes when I realized something had crapped out. No “status bar” and poor error detection in the SW. Second time the FW update took about 8 minutes, but only after horrendous network shenanigans to bring the printer online.
Long story short. I got both roll and sheet prints out. Big files (800 MB) take time. Sadly there is no feedback to know if your file hit a memory limit as the bytes wind their way to the  silent printer. Also the new 11 ink system is superb, but they do not have a dedicated hose for both black inks. The system evacuates a hose to switch ink out. More on this later.

When you run rolls, the mounting is easy from the front, but it is fairly easy to mangle to bring light weight paper through the print gate. You have to extend it with 3 feet  to spare. Kind of hard to do with cotton gloves. It is too bad they couldn’t write the firmware to open the platten, blast the vacuum and auto feed it through. I hate touching pristine paper.
The print path on the 7900 is near vertical with a great vacuum pull. But when the job is done, sadly gravity rules. For sheet the paper drops like a rock, nearly crimping a corner – so you must be vigilant. This is weak design. The paper catcher is a torture chamber disguised as a gauze dress. First there is no clear picture to show if you have assembled it right side out.  I assembled it two different ways. I had to go back to the dealer to see what they did.
They assembled it with plastic runners face up – which I think is right. But with prints rocketing out, wet emulsion side down it is a problem. In production I add boxes to the front an draw out large prints.
So I pulled  a first print off USB to compare to my desktop Epson 2400. Same file, same paper -Luster 13×19 sheet, both from the PC.  The appearance is almost identical. The 7900 printed in half the time, imaging darker areas with good latitude, definitely highlight blow-out, but no noticeable enhancement coming from those orange  and greens  inks.
The Epson 7900 is an industrial “roll printer”. Sheets are possible, but the paper loading is finicky and you have to really watch them drop – corners can bend on sheets when they hit the “backstop”. Unlike the table top Epsons, you cannot mount a stack of sheets. But a roll prints like a battle tank. The solid metal paper cover, the whole machine is a solid piece of engineering.
I was able to print some of the time because the network management with operating systems is mysterious and perhaps not tested thoroughly.  Although you are supposed to send jobs on either USB or Ethernet, initially I could only get results off the USB. It is not said in the instructions, but if you fiddle with the printer menu panel you will see a network”Disabled” button. It does not mean you have disabled the network interface on the printer, it means you have disabled being able to make changes on the network settings of the printer. Sheesh. Why no have “lock network settings” or something. I lost a whole two days here and to get ink on paper I went back to USB cable. I have also determined I need to upgrade my network which has three wireless routers. But there are other issues in the meantime.
On the second day, I came to my senses and realized it was time to run this on a Gigabit network, so I simplified the topology of my three ancient wireless routers. The studio/home giganet is now one wired Gigabit router that attaches to a 16 port switch. The switch connects Macs, Dells,  two Apple WiFI Time Capsules for auto backup, and an Apple TV for large viewing.  A few new RJ45 wires with good ends didn’t hurt, though I bought an RJ45 crimper and was unable to make any work. New fresh wires are the best.
With computers running clean and fast, I want to make sure the printer is a good network citizen. The key is to put every device on DHCP, which is assigned from the router.  I sent a small band print, then 97 MB, then 850 MB with 16 bit color – wow. That last one took an hour on USB, but only 15 minutes on Gigabit Ethernet.
So now I have tamed the beast, now I am looking at big prints and color is a big problem. Too much color. On to look at paper profiles and work flow. More on that later.
How much storage is on the printer? Nothing in the manual.
Tips for the Newcomer
1. Buy an extra 11 ink kit. It comes with all the colors, but only a small amount. 60% is used up priming the ink hoses to the print head.
2. Every few months, visit epson.com/support and upgrade your firmware, driver and anything else you see. This is key to purchasing any new technology, as software often gets “perfected” after hardware.
3. Every time you start printing, try a small horizontal band to make sure you are have all the right imaging programs and print driver settings right. Crank up to big sizes as you become confident. My biggest to date is 16 bit color, 26 bit data from the Mac 850 MB, 22″w x 33″ 426 pixels/inch. I am planning a series of 24″x60″ windshields and I can say they are beautiful 1.5GB images.
4. Slow down when you are presented the print driver dialog. Really take your time to read every dialog box, and hidden panel and button in detail. It pains me to say, but the interfaces for key settings are often buried. For example, the default settings are short cuts for the fast print, when you expect to get the best quality with a fine print.
5. This is a network printer  that gulps huge files so put away your USB cable and upgrade to a Gigabit Ethernet system.
Biggest Beeves
1. If you send too big a job, there is no status on the printer data transfer. With no error message you simply wait and guess if the printer gave up the ghost. The light winks when the printer is printing, but the buzz of the print head tells you that already.
2. The math is wrong – 11 Inks, 10 hoses. Could they spare a hose? The promise that this Epson would run both Matte and Photo black is only half true. You mount two cartridges, but rather than build a hose for each ink, you have to run a process to evacuate the line and insert the new ink which takes 5 minutes. They actually have a special button on the LCD to change  black ink.  What were they thinking? A twelfth slot and a shunting valve prior to the head feed should work.
3. Paper catch system puts prints at risk.  This is a near vertical print path, so engineer your own catch table.
4. After  many prints, there appears to be a tone transfer problem between Adobe CS4, the Mac and the 7900 even with the right paper profiles. This is what I call an issue of latitude or dynamic range.  It prints too dark, and the whites are blown out. At first using Photoshop Exposure of +.4 compensated well, but this blows the whites out worse, so I have to mask off the high end whites, increase exposure on the rest.
Improving Color
Artist David Em’s experience of the same machine some months later working into the wee hours to try and solve the color imaging settings.
July 21, 2009

It turns out we’re not alone, lots of other people have experienced
the dark image problems with several Epson printers. CS4 seems to be
part of the problem, as well as some compatibility issues related to
various versions of the Mac OS.

Now the good news: I got some good predictable results without
overexposures. One part of the fix may have been setting the 7900 as
the default printer. Here are the other settings:

COLOR HANDLING: Photoshop Manages Colors
PRINTER PROFILE: [exact paper profile you are printing to. Otherwise Adobe RGB]
COLOR MODE: Off (No Color Management)

This seems to get things in the correct color, brightness and gamma
ranges with no blowouts. There’s still room to tweak brightness,
contrast, saturation, and so forth on individual images, but it’s
within reasonable levels. I left some samples (straight from the
files, no adjustments) on your worktable.

— David


Improving Latitude

August 8 2009

There are continued issues with highlight blowout probably due to poor color profiling. These darkroom refinements may not look right on your screen, but they look good on the print.

  • Increase exposure .5 – Your light areas will blow. So you need to preserve them.
  • Select dark areas and limit output level of darks (cuts the black ink output)
  • Select light areas and limit white output.


Network off line / Snow Leopard / Epson Support

December 23 2009

Upon adding a MacPro, I could not get the printer online readily. I sent a hopeful email to Epson support. Surprisingly the company called me the next day! The seasoned print engineer had all kinds of good advice.  To get my printer back on line with Snow Leopard, the trick was to remove the old printer driver. Go on the Mac to System Preferences->Print & Fax->Select the Epson-> [-]. This removes the old driver. Hopefully you have gone to the Epson site to get the newer driver. Select “Epson sPro 7900” driver. Wait a bit as Bonjour sets it up.


See new posting Nov 17 2012 – Selling the Epson 7900 – this is a lemon printer – everyone on the web agrees it is an ink waster.

The Tube vs the Tube

Media students observe at TVNewser that “msnbc.com generated 1.1 million video streams in the first 24 hours, making the Powell interview which included an endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama, the program’s most-watched individual video stream ever.” (What was the second and third?)

Media questions here for Jeff Jarvis or other media schools. What recorded stream format works best? preroll, post roll, 30 second interstitials after 5 minutes view. How does this compare to  commercial TV – 3 minute ads to 13 minute views. They are both tube media, but the Internet can be instantaneous. And what of small tube media – faster intervals and short bits still. It is that on the Internet the frequency of publishing and feedback is instantaneous. Long production cycles are not meaningful to this medium.