Here’s an interesting synthesizer based on a Macbook Pro’s Trackpad. I like futuristicish things and MStretchSynth surely fits that bill. If this interface gets tied to user generated samples it’s going to be great.
“‘MStretchSynth’ uses multi-point (multi-touch) data streams to create a synthesis instrument driven by the relationships between points. Instead of mapping touch positions (X and Y coordinates) directly to synthesis parameters, relationships such as angle, distance, and velocity compared to other points are used. ‘MStretchSynth’ uses angle, distance and total velocity between points to map to synthesis parameters pitch, amplitude and delay depth.” – Kevin Schlei
Last Friday morning at around 7:00AM before I left for work I was checking email on my Macbook Pro. I shut the lid but then realized I forgot to check the weather so I quickly lifted the screen open again. The screen didn’t come back on which does happen sometimes if you open and close the thing too quickly. This time however I realized how late it was getting so instead of closing the lid, waiting for the computer to properly go to sleep and open it again I just shut it again and ran out. About nine hours later I came home and opened the computer. The screen was still black and the computer was very hot. I held the power button down for a few seconds to force the machine off. I waited a bit and turned it back on. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it wake up. I tried a few different things as recommended at Apple.com/support but nothing worked. Since I own an iPhone I didn’t really freak out too much because I knew I could check email if I had to leave my computer for a few days for repair. I went to the local Apple store and met with someone at the Genius Bar. In fact, because this specific Apple store (Palisades, NY) was about to be renovated they would ship my computer to Apple and then have Apple ship it direct to me when it’s repaired. I have AppleCare so hey all in all not a big deal.
Well… Monday rolls around and I’m at work at my partner Charlie O’ Donnell asks me if I am still making music in my free time. I tell him of course and then something horrible dawned on me. I’m booked to playing two shows in Europe this coming weekend and I have no computer! I know Apple is pretty quick with repairs but I started to sweat. As soon as I got home I checked the online repair status and it didn’t even show up in their system. I called Apple and they told me they just received the computer and the system would update itself shortly.
I decided I needed a backup plan just in case my computer doesn’t arrive in time. Luckily I have a friend Leslie who doesn’t need her computer as much as a supergeek like yours truly. She lent me her white Macbook which has a Firewire port (phew!) ready for my M-Audio Firewire 410. I created a user account for myself and plugged in my Time Machine backup drive. I didn’t know what to expect because I never had to go to this drive before. I was very happily surprised to see that you can simply click and open folders on the drive just as if it were a clone of my machine. I grabbed my Ableton live show files (and videos), downloaded M-Audio drivers and Ableton Live 8. Everything loaded up without a glitch! Win one for Apple.
So without any disaster looming I decided to call Apple and just see if there was any chance my own computer would arrive on time. I didn’t have to wait at all when calling the support line and spoke to a very friendly employee. He told me the computer was still in the process of being repaired. I told him I had a flight to Europe and it would be great if I had my own computer with me. I blabbed a bit about how I’d be onstage in Amsterdam and Barcelona and I really didn’t want to scratch up Leslie’s nice new Macbook. He put me on hold for a minute and told me he expedited the process and asked me to look at the online repair status. To my happy shock it said the computer would arrive by FedEx before 10:30AM this morning. I know it would have been a better scenario if my computer didn’t break in the first place but Apple deserves a pat on the back for making it so easy to grab files from a Time Machine backup drive and for superb service.
Yesterday I received a brand new Macbook Pro, 2.2GHZ with 7200rpm internal hard drive. It has Leopard installed, an LED screen and all wonderful things you would expect from a new Apple Computer. It’s amazingly fast, bright, silent and I can’t wait to use it in a live situation. The huge boost in power is going from a 12″ 876MHZ G4 is going to open many new doors during the performance. I will be able to add a ton more effects and multiple video streams.
Unfortunately I am having what maybe a serisous problem or defect with my machine. Every now and then the computer won’t type a key I press. Often it’s the first letter in a word and many times it happens when I switch into a new window and start typing.The new keyboard does have a different feel from the old Powerbook so I thought it could be user error. But after this happening for a few hours I decided to look online for an answer to what’s going on and I found this thread:
To my surprise this is a known issue that some people are having. I tried every suggestion recommended to see if it would fix the problem. First, under Trackpad in the Keyboard and Mouse System Preferences I disabled “Ignore accidental trackpad input” and clicked “Ignore trackpad when mouse is present”. Next, in the Universal Access panel under Keyboard I put the Acceptance Delay on Short. None of these things fixed the problem. I then thought maybe its a Energy Savings issue where the computer is going into a low power mode then having an issue waking up fully. I went into the Energy Saver System Preference panel and clicked off “Put the hard disk(s) to sleep whenever possible”. I also moved the sliders to “Never” for “Put the computer to sleep…” and “Put the display(s) to sleep…”. Nothing has helped and so today I will call tech support. If they don’t have a real answer for me I will ask them to exchange this machine for me.
Do you know anything about this issue?
Update: After going back and forth with tech support and trying a few other things like zapping the Pram and using a guest account the problem did not go away. Apple is taking this machine back and sending me a new one. I’ll do a follow up post when the new computer arrives in about 10 days.
Update 2: I received a new replacement Macbook Pro and have been using it for a week. Here are my findings. The first letter missing issue has been resolved. This replacement machine does not have that problem. However, there is something that I have noticed. This keyboard has such a short throw that unless I am sitting upright in a good position I mistype. I think many of the comments I have seen on the Apple Discussion forums are from people simply not liking the keyboard so much. I am now used to it and currently love everything about this machine. I highly recommend having your computer switched out for a new one or repaired if it has the first letter missing issue.
Update 3: I hate to say this but the replacement computer is now exhibiting the same ELP behavior. I am pretty surprised. My next action is to bring it in for a repair at Gravis.de in Berlin. It’s free but I will be without the machine for 5 days. I have up to a year of free repairs so I may wait a few weeks and see if anybody figures out the exact problem on the Apple Discussion forums.
Update, February 20, 2008: Apple today pushed a software update and firmware update for the keyboard issue. It details the problem exactly so I suspect this will fix it completely. link