Updates from October, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • dtoub 8:40 am on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 8:40 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: iPad, iPad 4, iPad mini   

    iPad mini vs iPad 4: decisions, decisions 

    I’ve been using my wife’s former iPad (first generation) for many months now, in addition to my iPhone 4S. The iPhone has a retina display and is pretty fast, with an A5 processor, so it is still very useful and I have not jumped on the iPhone 5. Which is good, since I don’t have a lot of disposable income and am not sure I want to get sucked into another two-year contract with AT&T, given its disdain for its customers (eg: charging for using the iPhone as a hotspot).

    The original iPad: not very fast and the display is often very pixellated, especially if dealing with iPhone apps that have not been redesigned with the iPad’s display specs in mind. But it’s been usable, even as a laptop replacement for short trips to the EU. Still, watching apps like FaceBook take 30 seconds or more to load, and having each tab in Safari load content when selected due to a lack of RAM, makes it clear that the iPad’s limitations are a daily reality. For reading Kindle books and watching videos, it’s great. For most other things, it is often slow. And forget even thinking of running iOS 6, since it isn’t supported on that iPad.

    So I have been very interested in the (then-rumored) iPad Mini for some time, since while smaller, it would run iOS 6, be less expensive than a 9.7″ iPad, be more portable, and would have to be much faster than the original iPad. When it was announced earlier this week, I was very keen on preordering the 32 GB model with cellular coverage (Verizon) tomorrow on the 26th. It’s light, has the same A5 processor as my iPhone 4S, the smaller non-retina display screen would probably be good enough (it has a bit higher pixel density than the same display on the iPad 2), and typing probably would be reasonable, at least with thumbs.

    But then I started comparing prices with the iPad 4. Yes, the iPad 4 is more expensive, but there is some overlap with iPad Mini prices. At first, I was pleased to realize I could get a 32 GB Mini with 4G for a bit less than an iPad 4 without 4G ($559 vs $599). While I don’t use my 3G very much on my current iPad, since I’m usually within range of WiFi or else am in Europe where I have a data plan for my iPhone and don’t need a redundant one for my iPad, I could see scenarios where having 4G would be useful, especially if it were a Verizon iPad Mini and I set it up as a hotspot for my MacBook Pro on a train without WiFi.

    And then I started realizing that while the iPad Mini isn’t a smaller iPad or a larger iPad Touch, other than the form factor and the addition of 4G, it is basically a larger iPhone 4S, the same iPhone I bought over a year ago. And that’s where it starts to fall down. Yes, the iPad Mini has more robust WiFi (it can connect to a 5 GHz WiFi network whereas my iPhone 4S can’t), but for common use, that is not going to be a deal-breaker. But at $559 for innards that are largely last year’s iPhone, I’d rather spend the extra $170 and get an iPad 4 (32 GB, 4G) with a retina display, a very fast processor (faster than the iPhone 5), and a larger screen that is more usable when I want the iPad to serve as a laptop replacement. And more and more, it will serve as a standalone computer, not just as a content reader.

    I know the iPad Mini is more portable and would probably make something like Modern Combat 2’s multiplayer mode usable on a device larger than my iPhone (it is not very usable on the full-sized iPad, at least for my hands). But I was really hoping it would have been priced around $250 to start. This time next year (or earlier), when Apple comes out with an iPad Mini that has a retina display and a faster processor, I’ll be stuck with a $559 device that might not hold its own with more recent apps that require higher CPU capabilities. If a 2-year-old+ iPad is now so obsolete as to not even load the latest version of iOS, what will happen to the iPad Mini when it is one or two years down the line?

    If I’m going to spend over $500 for a tablet, I’d rather it not have a CPU that is the same as the phone I bought a year ago and a worse display to boot. As an investment that I’d want to use for 2-3 years, I’m not seeing the iPad Mini as a smart purchase, at least for my needs. For an entry level device, it is a beautiful thing from what I’ve seen on the Web, and wil serve a lot of people very well as an e-book reader and as a way to watch videos. But for gradually serving as a device that is easier to write with on a regular basis, this is not that device. Had it been either less expensive or had a more compelling processor (such as an A6) and a better display, that would be a very different value equation. But consider the iPhone: while it is very usable and preferable to maintain an iPhone for two years, we’re also talking about a device that is also generally under $300 for most folks (even under $200). For nearly double that cost, I’d want something that I know will not feel very underpowered in a year. And the iPad Mini is somewhat underpowered for 2012. When an iPod Touch has a retina display but Apple’s new small tablet computer doesn’t, that just seems odd.

    So in the end, I’m likely going to grab the iPad 4 tomorrow as a preorder. If someone thinks I’m misjudging the iPad Mini, please let me know in the comments. I’m not saying the iPad Mini is a bad thing; it’s not. If it were, this would not be a tough decision. But for my needs, I’m not sure at that price point it makes much sense to not spend a bit more on a comparable iPad with better overall specs.

    • Paul Muller 11:52 am on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 11:52 am Permalink

      “This time next year (or earlier), when Apple comes out with an iPad Mini that has a retina display and a faster processor…” Now you’re catching on.

  • dtoub 11:34 am on Friday, August 12, 2011, 11:34 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ensoniq,   

    the KS-32 is back from the repair shop 

    I’ve owned an Ensoniq KS-32 synth workstation since 1991 or so, and other than a logic board replacement about 4-5 years ago (or rather two replacements, since the first cannibalized board that was installed was defective), it’s been fine. However, for a year or two I’ve noticed that the lower octave wasn’t responsive. As in, one would have to slam on the keys to get any sound at all.

    Turns out the felt overlying some of the keys was worn. Fortunately, the same guy at Musician’s Electronic Service in Ardmore, PA was able to find some replacement felt and do some other tweaks, so it’s now working fine. I don’t tend to use the KS-32 much anymore since I usually only have time to compose when out on the West Coast, and then only at night. But it’s nice to have this still in good working condition. Ensoniq folded many years ago, which is a shame, since they made good synthesizers. The weighted keyboard action is just like using the real thing.

  • dtoub 8:22 am on Sunday, January 2, 2011, 8:22 am Permalink | Reply

    2010 in review 

    The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

    Healthy blog!

    The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

    Crunchy numbers

    Featured image

    A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2010. That’s about 12 full 747s.

    In 2010, there were 31 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 167 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about a picture per month.

    The busiest day of the year was December 20th with 112 views. The most popular post that day was In no particular order, here they are: D….

    Where did they come from?

    The top referring sites in 2010 were sequenza21.com, facebook.com, blognoggle.com, homepage.mac.com, and twitter.com.

    Some visitors came searching, mostly for mac laptop, 20th century piano music, david toub, music tone, and minimalist rap.

    Attractions in 2010

    These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


    In no particular order, here they are: D… December 2010


    favorite 20th-century solo piano music March 2010


    sermo.com: physicians becoming unhinged September 2010


    echofon: my new desktop twitter app December 2009


    avoid portable hard drives by LaCie. seriously. December 2008

  • dtoub 10:57 am on Friday, December 3, 2010, 10:57 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: filler, guess I haven't blogged in awhile   

    catching up 

    I haven’t blogged in awhile. Truth been told, it’s been busy, and it’s just easier to communicate via e-mail, Twitter and/or Facebook in short bursts. A lot has been happening:

    • I just returned from London, where I gave a talk on new fibroid treatments at a hysteroscopy course given by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. It went well, and it was really nice to see a lot of friends and colleagues from the UK. They’re very innovative regarding office procedures-no speculum, no tenaculum, no paracervical blockade, just a 3mm-5mm hysteroscope and very quick treatment in an office setting. We need more of that here in the states.
    • Not too much on the performance front, although there is a good possibility of a performance in the EU of quartet for piano. Also, I recorded the electronic organ part of objects from 1999, for release hopefully next year on OgreOgress. Paul Hersey and Glenn Freeman are likely up for the piano and marimba parts, respectively. I’m really excited about this-it’s always nice to have works recorded, and OgreOgress is one of the few independent labels out there that really performs much new music that otherwise likely would never see the light of day. 
    • I’m back on the West Coast next week and hope to have time to start a new work. This one will probably be scored for tuba, bass trombone, cello and perhaps celesta, consist largely of static chords, and will either be titled chords or dharmachakramudra. Depends on whether I want to be descriptive or obtuse 
    • On to politics. Where to start? Obama has been pretty unhelpful, and that’s about as nice as I can put it without resorting to words like wuss, weak, lacking cojones,…you get the idea. In general, folks in the US want strong, decisive leaders. Even when we don’t agree with them, we still tend to admire those who have a singleness of purpose and a willingness to drive it to reality. As terrible and criminal as the last administration was, at least Bush stuck to his guns. Obama hasn’t, isn’t and probably won’t, and as a result, the Republicans sense blood in the water and will do everything to take advantage of Obama and essentially destroy his presidency. They will accept nothing less. I don’t get it-I’ve lived on the South Side of Chicago just like Obama, and this is not the way things are done there. People on the South Side, right or wrong, tend to be decisive. As in the case of Rahm Emanuel, folks from Chicago often have strong views and will fight for them. So what’s up with Obama? Maybe he spent too much time in Boston and not enough in Hyde Park. I’m not optimistic things will change very much. We now have a House of Representatives dominated by the right wing, but it’s not the old fiscally conservative right wing, but the extreme right wing that hates gays, abortion rights, Muslims, and while they won’t admit it, probably Jews as well. Somehow I just can’t see Sarah Palin and Rand Paul sitting down with a bunch of Jewish and Muslim friends and breaking bread. 
    • I’m listening to a recording I’ve waited for: the live performance by Sarah Cahill and Kyle Gann of Dennis Johnson’s amazingly beautiful piano work November. I also have Kyle’s own recording from many months ago, and in all honesty prefer it. Not that the performance by Sarah Cahill and Kyle is bad; if anything, it’s even longer in duration. But somehow it is more pianistic in feel than Kyle’s solo recording that he did in his office at Bard College, and also seems a bit louder. Somehow, Kyle’s initial recording seemed to have more raw energy and a sense of stasis that I’m just not sensing in the later, more polished performance. But that’s just me-your mileage will vary. It’s become one of my favorite minimalist works, and it’s such a shame that it had been neglected until Kyle brought it to light by diligently creating a performance score from the single, incomplete and poorly recorded tape out there from the early 60’s.
    • Louie Goldstein’s nice recording of Feldman’s For Bunita Marcus is finally out as a digital download, and some idiot reviewer seemed to like it.
    That’s it for now. I’ll try to keep this blog going for all five of you-no worries.
  • dtoub 7:04 am on Friday, October 22, 2010, 7:04 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: phillies   

    to my west coast colleagues and friends who really like their sf giants… 

    • Richard Friedman 12:26 pm on Friday, October 22, 2010, 12:26 pm Permalink

      You’d just better watch out!
      Go Giants!
      Go Yankees!

    • Richard Friedman 11:28 pm on Friday, October 22, 2010, 11:28 pm Permalink

      Damn Yankees! I don’t recognize them any more!

    • Sparky P. 12:25 am on Friday, October 29, 2010, 12:25 am Permalink

      Just where were the Phils during that series? Same for the Yankees.

      Meanwhile, Los Gigantes are up 2-0 on the Rangers. Halfway there. My wife is especially jazzed.

    • dtoub 12:34 am on Friday, October 29, 2010, 12:34 am Permalink

      Hey, I think y’all are kicking the Rangers’ butts more than you kicked ours!

  • dtoub 6:33 am on Friday, September 17, 2010, 6:33 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: SEPTA fail   

    SEPTA is a failure 

    I’m going to rant. I’ve just taken a red eye from SFO to PHL that arrived early and waited a half-hour to grab the 6:11 train home. Except that that train never came. And there was no message on the monitor at the track that anything was late. Normally things are on time coming from PHL. After waiting a few extra minutes, I called SEPTA and it took them several minutes to tell me that they think the train is 12 minutes late. By then, it was actually 20 minutes late with no indication the next train would even arrive, let alone be on time. So I’m now in a taxi on the Schuylkill Expressway for an expensive ride home after spending an extra hour at the airport waiting for a train that never came.

    I’m angry because I support mass transit. I take trains all the time and have lived with the various delays and other assorted nonsense. But it’s not raining. There are no leaves on the tracks to make it slick and require the trains to slow down. At the very least, there should be communication. The overhead monitors should actually be accurate and state if a train is late or, at worst, cancelled. Instead, everyone waiting for the train is really waiting for Godot, and at this rate, I have more confidence Godot will arrive at PHL than the scheduled SEPTA train. The fact that the customer service person at SEPTA couldn’t find out if the trains were running, and how late they really were, doesn’t give me confidence. It doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t take a fascist dictator like Mussolini to make trains run on time, nor should it take much to at least communicate delays or cancellations in a timely and accurate fashion.

    • Paul Muller 1:27 pm on Friday, September 17, 2010, 1:27 pm Permalink

      There are no 20 min problems on the railroad – if my train is even 10 minutes late there is a high probability it will be an hour late.

  • dtoub 1:46 pm on Saturday, August 14, 2010, 1:46 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , SEPTA   

    SEPTA is short for idiocy 

    I take the regional rail line (operated by the Southeastern PA Transportation Authority, or SEPTA) all the time to the airport. I know the schedule pretty well, but do make sure to check for any changes when they issue a new schedule. I just walked to my local train station to buy tickets for Monday and noticed new schedules were out. I was pretty surprised to see that the airport line schedule didn’t give any information for transit between my station and Center City, Philadelphia. I had to ask the sales person behind the station counter what was going on and he confirmed that the trains were unchanged, but that “Septa are idiots.” I have to agree. I just tried to give them feedback on their customer feedback form, but each time I submitted it I got a CGI error (folks are still using CGI rather than ASP? Really?). Anyway, here’s my complaint to them in the hopes that someone from SEPTA will read it. 

    I just picked up the new Airport Line regional rail schedule and was very concerned. I travel from Jenkintown to the airport every other week by regional rail and strongly support it. Until now, it was easy to figure out what train to take from Jenkintown to and from the airport. Now, it’s not-the airport schedule only lists trains to and from Center City while the Glenside Combined schedule lists trains and one can only tell if it goes to the airport (and without an arrival time) by looking at the code at the bottom. Worse, there’s no easy way to tell which trains coming back from the airport will stop in Jenkintown. Even the Septa staff member at Jenkintown complained to me that this is an “idiotic move.” And I agree.

    • Les 7:27 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 7:27 pm Permalink

      Isn’t ASP a microsoft technology?

    • dtoub 7:40 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 7:40 pm Permalink

      Yes it is. But objectively, it is a better approach than CGI.

  • dtoub 9:55 am on Saturday, August 14, 2010, 9:55 am Permalink | Reply

    my latest list of iPhone apps that suck 

    In no particular order:

    • WordPress: Yes, this is a WordPress blog, and I’m actually writing this in Safari using the ScribeFire extension, which is very nice. But WordPress on the iPhone has been crappy since day one, and it’s now worse, since if you draft something on your iPhone and hit Save, it’s trashed. That’s right-your blog post that you just wrote is gone, history. The only option, I suppose, is to publish it automatically or else copy the draft into the clipboard. I lost two blog posts this way. And one of them was after WordPress claimed to have fixed the issue. It’s a terrible app: no support for links and now this. Avoid.
    • Wolfenstein 3D: Bad controls, just slightly better than Duke Nukem.
    • NetNewsWire: I gave up. I’m now using RSS Flash g. It’s not perfect (it needs a better way to post on Facebook-if most other apps can do it, surely this can), but it is waayy better than NNW on the iPhone. 
    • LinkedIn: I’m not thrilled with the Web site, which used to be so much more functional. It’s even worse on the iPhone. Pretty much useless. 
    • TruPhone: They recently introduced bugs that made it nearly impossible to place a VoIP call, which is the whole point of the app. It’s better now, but once I’m done with my prepaid allotment, I’m probably switching to Skype. Why TruPhone includes a twitter component but can’t provide better phone calls (which is the entire point of the app, no?) beats me. For a long time they shunned 3G calls, then embraced it, but I’m not clear that it’s inexpensive compared with VoIP calls via WiFi. 
    • Duke Nukem 3D: I read the reviews that said the controls suck, but thought I’d give it a while. My conclusion: the controls suck. It’s pretty much unplayable on the iPhone. 
    • Raanan Bar-Cohen 12:13 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:13 pm Permalink

      hey dtoub — re: the WordPress for iPhone app. Sorry to hear it’s giving you so many problems. Any chance you are running the old 1.2 version ? That version has been discontinued, and there is a new version of the app that is being worked on quite a bit, currently version 2.5: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8

      And are you experiencing these issues on WordPress.com ? If so, just drop a note to support (which will reopen tomorrow) and we can take a closer look: http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact/

      And lastly, in the app to create a link, just type in “http:” and a link helper window will come up.

    • dtoub 12:19 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:19 pm Permalink

      Thanks for the input, which is appreciated. Yes, I’m using the current version-2.5. I’m not having issues with WordPress.com-that’s fine. I’m still not seeing any Twitter “tweet buttons” on my posts despite enabling them, but that’s minor. Glad to know that one can finally create a link in the iPhone app, although it’s strange I was not aware of this. Why not a button to do the same?

      I’d like to use the iPhone app, but don’t trust it until the Save Draft issues are fixed. Thanks.

    • Raanan Bar-Cohen 12:26 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:26 pm Permalink

      hey — I’m seeing the twitter button on this post. The team is looking into the save draft issue, so any info you can provide is helpful, and the UI might be tweaked to add something more obvious for links – I agree with you it’s a bit hidden right now 😉

    • dtoub 6:05 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 6:05 pm Permalink

      Thanks. I’m not seeing it but if others are then that’s all that matters. The only info I can provide about the current iPhone app bug is what you probably already know; if you hit Save, it isn’t. Thanks again for the followup. Glad that at least one developer does check the Web for user reports 😉

  • dtoub 1:02 am on Friday, March 12, 2010, 1:02 am Permalink | Reply


    • Finished the piano piece. 100% of people who have heard it really like it. Maybe I should mention that’s with an n of 2. I’m going to release it in the coming days once I’m confident no additional edits are needed. The title is quartet for piano. It’s not a piano quartet, but literally, a quartet for (solo) piano. The score will make it all clearer. Hopefully.
    • As many know, I’m not a big fan of Israel’s actions, towards its Palestinian neighbors, its 20% Arab minority and anyone who isn’t an Orthodox Jew (ie, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionists are all out of luck). But I think the self-righteous indignation towards the alleged Israeli spy ring that assassinated a Hamas operative in Dubai is ridiculous. Have these folks never seen any of the Bourne movies or read any of the Robert Ludlum books? Or even seen a James Bond movie? Guess they have no clue what spy agencies do with their spare time. Guess what-intelligence agencies from most countries do, at one time or another, assassinate someone viewed as counter to their country’s interests. The CIA does it. The KGB does it. MI-6 does it. And it’s well established that Mossad does it. Get over it. I’m not countenancing assassination, mind you, but I do think the holier-than-thou attitude taken by several Arab and EU nations over alleged misuse of passports is ludicrous. Again, what do they think intelligence agents do with their time?
    • Pass health care reform already. In 20 years everyone will look back and wonder what the big deal was all about, as we would now about the angst over Medicare in the 60’s. I recently came back from three trips to the EU where folks were amazed that just raising the notion of universal health care (which the current HCR bill definitely is not) is such a hot button issue on this side of the pond.
    • Been listening to a lot of different music lately. A lot of Eliane Radique drone-based music, some stuff by Somei Satoh and music by the somewhat obscure Dutch composer Matthijs Vermeulen. And to the dismay of my son Isaac, some music by Beyoncé and Keke Palmer. Hey, I’m not ashamed. Well, maybe a little.
    • Still getting through the massive A People’s History of the United States by the late Howard Zinn on my iPhone’s Kindle Reader app. It’s a great book.
    • Also been delving into the complex history of the Cuban Revolution and Che Guevara. I know many have criticized Steven Soderbergh’s movie about Che for omitting everything between the battle of Santa Clara and Che’s revolutionary fomenting in Bolivia (other than a few snippets of his 1964 speech at the UN). But I understand why Soderbergh did it. I’m not saying that Che was a really nice guy who preached nonviolence. He wasn’t and didn’t. He was the polar opposite of Gandhi in some respects. But while I can’t excuse his actions at La Cabaña in 1959, in which many Cubans were executed, I also can’t condone the murder of 20,000 Cubans by the Batista government, nor can I ignore the fact that Che was driven by a desire to combat imperialism rampant against the Latin American world, then and now. And it strikes me as interesting that so many conservatives who bitch about Che can’t bring themselves to criticize the Bush/Cheney administration’s killing of unknown numbers of Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and others, along with numerous acts of torture, rendition, etc.
  • dtoub 11:12 pm on Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 11:12 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , kindle, reading addiction   

    2009: what I read on my iPhone’s kindle reader 

    Last March, I downloaded the then-new Kindle reader for the iPhone. I still don’t have a Kindle, nor do I plan to purchase one. But I’ve become quite fond of reading books on my iPhone and have had to take great pains to control myself so that this doesn’t become an expensive habit compared to, say, checking the books out of our local library when available. It’s probably of no interest to anyone, but just for the hell of it, here’s what I’ve read so far on my iPhone’s Kindle Reader since March of this year:

    1. Outliers: The Story of Success
    2. The Bourne Sanction
    3. Thus Spoke Zarathustra (I lost the original paperback copy I had since med school)
    4. Descent into Chaos (a really great book about Central Asia)
    5. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (this should be required reading for every American)
    6. Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic
    7. Engaging the Muslim World
    8. Serial (perhaps the sickest short story ever written, but it was free…)
    9. Afraid
    10. Renegade: The Making of a President (had a lot of promise, but became a snooze fest after awhile)
    11. The Art of War (too damned many annotations-then again, it was free)
    12. Truck Stop – A Psycho Thriller
    13. Desert Places
    14. In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (had a lot of promise, but got bogged down at times, and I suspect the author is quite conservative, since every Republican president, including W, comes across really well but every Democrat is vilified)
    15. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (parts were really interesting, other parts not)
    16. The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (I really liked this book-it was very well written and I couldn’t put it down after awhile)
    17. The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader
    18. Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (I liked this even better than #17 by the same author, which was also excellent)
    19. In the Graveyard of Empires (I’m in the middle of it now. It’s starting to get ponderous, but I remain hopeful)

    Not bad though-nearly 20 books, some of which were either free or well under $9.99 and the rest were usually $9.99. Now if only the airlines would let me read during takeoff and landing.

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