Are you ready for the holidays? We realize that for some people that's a heavy-duty question. Of course, many find Christmastime to be the jolly, feel-good season of sharing and caring so many of us read about in storybooks and maybe even experienced during childhood. (And to those who do, we raise a toast.) For others, however, the mere mention of words like "Santa," "sleigh," "snow," and "drummer boy" just might cause a stroke.… Read more
Most PC speakers are afterthoughts--the computer equivalent of those awful earbud headphones that come bundled "for free" with portable media players. But Canada's Axiom Audio is offering a high-end alternative with its new Audiobyte PC speakers. At 6.5 inches high by 5.5 inches wide by 4 inches deep, the stereo speakers aren't too much larger than standard computer audio offerings, but they're effectively miniaturized versions of high-quality bookshelf speakers, sporting two-way designs with a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter and 3-inch aluminum cone woofer.
The Audiobyte is now available in a variety of finishes … Read more
While some 12,000 TV and film screenwriters go on strike this week, people are filling the void by turning to other forms of media, such as DVDs and the Internet. Ironically, these outlets are exactly what the members of the Writers Guild want more of the profit of (and don't want people to support). They're hoping to come to an agreement soon, although the last walk out like this (in 1988) lasted for five months. Ouch.
We'll miss The Office, Desperate Housewives and Conan O'brien, but it's not the end of the world, right? … Read more
Apple's omnipresent media player iTunes has quietly upgraded to version 7.5 for both Windows and Mac. There's no grand new interface, no code-scrubbing to make the Window version load quicker, and certainly no support for Linux users. There's not a lot to bother with, period, unless you're a Old World iPhone customer.
One of the most interesting jazz releases of 2007 has to be Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters. On it, the legendary composer and pianist covers a number of classic Joni Mitchell songs--only "cover" doesn't quite describe it. In true modern jazz fashion, the takes are more thematic and spiritual than literal. The combination of Mitchell's haunting lyrics, Hancock's revamped melodies, and vocal cameos by artists from Norah Jones to Tina Turner is often stunning.
Let's take a moment to praise that oddest of instruments: the doubleneck guitar. Popularized by Jimmy Page, it's essentially two guitars in one--in his case, a 12-string (used to play the thick chordal strummy parts of "Stairway" and other Zeppelin songs) and a 6-string (used on other parts, particularly solos). I've recently stumbled across some used Danelectro models, including an unusual combination of regular and baritone. (A baritone is tuned a fifth lower than a standard guitar and is often used on old country recordings...think Johnny Cash walking along the train tracks and you'… Read more