iLounge recently had the opportunity to interview Jesse Feiler, the author of
Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs On Your Mac: Using Apple’s Digital Hub.
How long have you been a Mac User?
What was your first Mac and what is your current Mac?
First was the original Macintosh. If I recall correctly one of the first applications I bought for that (in addition to the bundled MacWord and MacPaint) was a speech synthesis application. Speech is one of those technologies that is always “just about to happen”—on every platform. I think that whoever puts the pieces together properly will open the floodgates of speech-enabled computing. What needs to be put together is the technology—most people have that; and the speech interface issue needs to be solved. Apple’s integration of speech with AppleScript is fantastic, but there’s still one last piece of the puzzle. Speech is still being used as a keyboard replacement—we’re dictating text. In real life, speech is more nuanced and complicated. We’re close to something very exciting here.
The reason I bring this up is that not only am I interested in it, but the integration of various digital devices through Apple’s digital hub is probably going to be a big part of how speech evolves.
Current Mac is dual processor 1 GHz desktop and Titanium PowerBook. The original Mac needs a new power supply, and one of these days, I think I’ll get one just to be able to turn it on.
Do you have any story of an experience where your Mac and iPod saved the day?
While I was writing
Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs On Your Mac, I was traveling a lot. I was away for 6 weeks last Spring, first at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference, and then speaking on the MacMania Geek Cruise. I took lots of movies and photos on my travels (some are in the book). At one point, I dumped a whole bunch of video files (6 GB, I believe) off of the PowerBook and onto the iPod in disk mode. That gave me the disk space to keep editing other movies. Small point, but the iPod as portable FireWire disk is a big asset to me.
What is your most exciting moment as a Mac user?
The first time I saw QuickTime.
I describe it in the book. Up until that time, we were trying to make computer output look as good as paper—remember WYSIWYG? With QuickTime, I saw computer output that not only was better than paper but that couldn’t be done on paper. (Paper doesn’t move.)
This was at a World Wide Developers Conference; at the following MacWorld (then in Boston) we were all looking at computer displays with video in them. It’s hard to realize today just how revolutionary this was. Over those few months, it became clear that the boundaries between different types of digital devices and media were breaking down.
And it’s in that arena of digital devices and media communicating with one another that we find the concept of the digital hub.
When you first took your new iPod out of the box and held it in your hand, what was your reaction?
1. The design. 2. The power (that is the amount of disk space).
Have you ever talked to Steve Jobs? If so, please explain the circumstances. If not, what would you like to talk to him about?
No, but Warren Beatty and David Hyde Pierce.
Have you named your iPod yet? If not, name it now, and let us know what the name is and why.
I suppose it’s name is “Don’t.” When it’s sitting on my desk and the cat starts to play with it (it’s just the right size and shape to be pushed around), I shout “Don’t.” So I guess that’s its name.
You’re stuck on a deserted island. All you have is your iPod and one album of MP3’s. What album is it and why?
I can tell you what’s on it now—Showboat, a Sondheim festival,Handel’s Royal Fireworks, and a Benny Goodman album. Also, of course, my contacts and calendar. And there’s about a GB of miscellaneous files that I’m transferring from one place to another.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
by Richard Florida.
Just finished a great novel by Louis Bayard,
What is the most obscure application you have used your iPod for?
Probably temporary video storage.
Are you a station wagon, minivan, or SUV kind of guy? What make and model?
Silver VW Beetle
What do you want your iPod to do in the next major software upgrade?
I’m waiting eagerly for iSync.
What do you least like about the iPod?
Lots of fingerprints.
What is your favorite thing about the iPod?
Do you have a case for your iPod? If so, which one?
How do you feel about Apple releasing iPod for Windows? Is this a good thing or bad thing?
I think it’s great for Apple to sell products to anyone. Apple’s differentiation is design and ease of use.
It’s really important for people to realize that these matter. The “commodity market” for PCs relies on the assumption that it doesn’t matter what things look like or whether you have to spend extra time getting them to work.
Now that we are on the subject of Windows, what are your opinions about Microsoft and its business practices?
I’ve said on many occasions that Microsoft’s business practices (which many find inappropriate) really wouldn’t matter if the software were better.
What are your opinions on the state of digital music and downloading MP3s?
If you’re referring to the issues of copyright, I think this is the most critical issue we’re confronting today. I honestly don’t know where we should be going. I do think the extensions of copyrights for copyrights issued long ago seem wrong. An awful lot of intellectual property is now off-limits to reuse. Lawrence Lessig’s book,
The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons In a Connected World
addresses many of these issues. I’m not sure I agree with all of his suggestions, but he’s certainly defined the problems.
How and/or where did you research for your new book, Making Movies, Photos, Music and DVDs On Your Mac: Using Apple’s Digital Hub
The answer to this is why the book was so much fun to write. I took thousands (literally) of photos, and hour after hour of video. Because of my schedule, a lot of this was done along the California and Oregon coasts, in Yosemite, and in Alaska. It would be hard not to have a great time.
But then came the interesting part—the part I talk about repeatedly in the book. You have to learn to critique your work, to be able to identify the 90%—or 95%—of your work that will be thrown out. And then how to work with the remaining material to present it in the best way.
I talked to artists, photographers, teachers, and actors about how they use digital tools—as well as how they work on projects using video and photography, whether it’s digital or not.
Half the book is about the technology, and the other half is about what to do with it.
I remember a comment made a number of years ago by an engineer at Apple. He was reviewing the achievements that stemmed from the laser printer and the desktop publishing revolution that Apple started. He said that with all of these tools, and with the widespread availability of them, he was disappointed that people didn’t have better looking documents.
I tried to address this issue: not just how to get the things working together, but how to make the best movies, photos, music, and DVDs that you can.
If you could only give one tip about the iPod or Apple’s iApps, what would it be?
Digital media is cheap (you can argue that if you reuse it it’s almost free). Take lots of photos and video.