Psst — want a free ‘golden ticket’ to Macworld?

Going to Macworld/iWorld? I’ve got one Free iFan Pass to give away (a $100 value), courtesy of the kind folks at IDG. First reader to claim it, gets it. Send a DM to me on Twitter: @ChuckLaTournous.

[Update: The pass has been claimed; thanks to all for your interest. For those who didn't get the free iFan pass, I'll have a link for 1/2 price iFan passes and free Expo Only passes soon. Stay tuned.]

[Update 2: Use the link below a free Expo Only Pass or a $50.00 iFan pass (that's 1/2 off): https://2013.macworldiworld.com/portal/registration/mwspeo13]

iRig HD wins ‘Best of Show’ award at CES

irig_hd_connect_iphone5_gui_335I don’t usually publish CES news, but I’m pretty excited about IK Multimedia’s “iRig HD,” the next generation of its iOS (and now Mac) interface for guitars and basses. I use the original iRig all the time (currently to practice for the upcoming Macworld All-Stars appearance at Cirque du Mac.)

IK Multimedia unveiled the “HD” version of its popular guitar interface at CES, and today announced it earned an iLounge Best of Show award.

The original iRig connected to iOS devices through their microphone/headphone jack. The iRig HD connects in a variety of ways: through the 30-pin or Lightning connector on iOS devices and now through USB on your Mac. Going through the dock connector promises a higher quality digital signal — a promise I look forward to testing. It also adds a pre-amp gain control, which should alleviate one of the very few shortcomings of the original version. Like its predecessor, the iRig HD uses a free companion app to act as a virtual amplifier. Additional amps, stomp boxes and other effects can be added as in-app purchases.

Here’s how IK Multimedia describes it the iRig HD:

iRig HD is a high-quality digital guitar/bass/instrument interface that allows users to plug their guitar or bass into their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac. It can be used with the AmpliTube range of guitar amps/effects apps and software or any other real-time processing app/software, like GarageBand and more. Using AmpliTube, users can play with the sound of their favorite amplifiers and effects, record their performance and compose entire songs, everywhere. iRig HD features crystal clear digital signal thanks to its superior 24 bit converter, an onboard gain control for perfect level setting, a low power consumption circuit for longer device battery life, plus an ultra-slim design and interchangeable adapter cables for maximum portability and universal compatibility.

The iRig HD is scheduled to be available in the spring; pricing has not yet been announced, but according to reports from CES it will carry a $99 price tag. Look for a full review on The Mac Observer as soon as I’m able to test it.

‘This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For’

The White House is obligated to provide a response to petitions on its website that reach 25,000 signatures. Sometimes that leads to having to answer to some pretty silly stuff. I’m glad the Obama administration is having fun with it.

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

The whole response is worth a read — even the parts that start to sound a little like a campaign speech.

10 years later, we’re still trying to figure out online publishing

Amazon’s recent “AutoRip” service has a lot of people talking about how welcome such a service would be for books. Imagine buying a book and getting the digital version for no extra cost (notice I didn’t say “free.”) It’s something I’ve proposed for a long time, but more directly, it got me thinking about one of the first RandomMaccess pieces I wrote about online publishing — way back in 2002. Five years before the iPhone and even longer before the Kindle, there were really only two choices for reading text online: a computer screen (CRT at that), or a PDA — a personal digital assistant, like the Palm Pilot. Back then, there were two rather interesting experiments going on in online publishing. They were two very different approaches and…well, why not just read for yourself:

“The Genesis of online publishing.”

SPOT Connect Delivers Peace of Mind—via Satellite

As any good scout will tell you, the best way out of a bad situation is to be prepared. But how do you call for help if your adventures take you beyond the reach of the nearest cell tower? As Contributing Editor Chuck La Tournous discovered, a company called SPOT offers a clever way of combining the reach of a satellite communicator with the power of your smartphone. And it might just save your life.

You can read the full review at The Mac Observer.

‘Remembering Steve’

Apple dedicated its homepage to a beautiful video tribute to Steve Jobs, to mark the first anniversary of his death. Listening to the video, I was struck by how many of the great moments I was fortunate enough to witness in person.

Following the video is a message from Apple CEO Tim Cook:

Steve’s passing one year ago today was a sad and difficult time for all of us. I hope that today everyone will re?ect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place.

One of the greatest gifts Steve gave to the world is Apple. No company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself. Our values originated from Steve and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We share the great privilege and responsibility of carrying his legacy into the future.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we are doing, delivering products that our customers love and dreaming up new ones that will delight them down the road. It’s a wonderful tribute to Steve’s memory and everything he stood for.

- Tim