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#719: Final Cut Pro X, Multi-touch and Magic Trackpads, Space: The Final Frontier, eWaste 2011

 
     
 

Dear Friends,

This week it’s Ben writing for Don while he’s in China. Spring is finally in the air here in Vermont. The seemingly endless masses of snow were vanquished by a formidable foe—nearly 70 degrees of glorious sunshine—over the weekend. Burlington emerged from its winter slumber and dosed its denizens with an extra-large helping of spring fever. The bug bit me so hard that I decided it was a good idea to go for my first hike of the year. I twisted a few arms and gathered a group of friends to hike nearby Mt. Philo. In my excitement I neglected the fact that snow doesn’t melt instantly, and when it does it creates mud. As we hit the base of the trail, our running shoes and shorts were met with slushy residual snow and goopy mud. Momentarily dissuaded, I offered up my building’s laundry services and we pressed on, slipping and sliding up the mountain. We rewarded ourselves at the top with a picnic and champagne toast. Having never before tried it, I attempted glissading down the snow-covered trail on our descent. This yielded very mixed results, and I now have a brown—originally white—tee shirt to prove it.

Earlier in the week, we had a special guest in the office. Cody—as we now know him—was a lost yellow lab picked up by Jan, our director of marketing, who found the pup wandering stray in her town. As he was without a collar, tags or a microchip, we posted photos to our Facebook page and Twitter feed, hoping for any kind of lead. Thanks in part to the prevalence and power of social media, we were able to reunite Cody with his family by the end of the day. A great guest once he got used to the other dogs in the building, Cody is welcome back to the office for water and biscuits any time!

 
     
  Apple Previews Final Cut Pro X  
   
 

This Tuesday, Apple previewed the next version of its professional video editing software: Final Cut Pro X. The application, which was presented at this year’s Final Cut Pro User Group SuperMeet, has been described as a complete rewrite of the existing program. Presenter Peter Steinauer described Final Cut X as: “Something as revolutionary as the first version of Final Cut Pro when introduced in 1999.” Though Apple has yet to issue an official release highlighting Final Cut Pro X, numerous details were confirmed by Steinauer Tuesday.

Final Cut Pro was last updated in 2009, and since its last revision there have been several highly anticipated updates from its base of over two million users. Among the most highly requested features were a UI overhaul and full 64-bit compatibility. FCP users will undoubtably be excited to hear that Final Cut Pro X implements both. Making use of Grand Central Dispatch, FCPX will utilize all available system cores and GPU for background rendering, resolution-independent playback from SD to 4K, and ColorSync management. Additionally, the new software looks to finally banish the dreaded “writing video” render box—Steinauer hinted FCPX will allow for background rendering and for users to edit while importing. For legacy users who have become accustomed to preparing dinner while their video renders, this feature alone will warrant a day-one purchase, assuming it comes to fruition.

Other new features to Apple’s editing system include content auto analysis, auto audio clean up, range-based keywording and smart collections. Steinauer also demonstrated Clip Connections and Compound Clips. The former locks audio and video clips together so that they appear as one clip in the timeline and stay synced when moved, and the latter collapses media into a single clip on the timeline. The timeline itself has also been redesigned in FCPX, enabling smoother and easier edits, easier clip trimming and more. As Steinauer’s presentation was very much a preview of the upcoming release, it is likely the software will undergo additional changes leading up to its release this June, which Steinauer confirmed is when Final Cut Pro X will debut in the Mac App Store for $299.

 
     
  Spotlight on Multi-touch and Magic Trackpads  
   
 

If you have a Multi-touch trackpad on your laptop or use a Magic Trackpad with your desktop, you’re likely aware that it supports a number of gestures to execute a variety of commands. From swiping to scrolling and rotating to clicking, these gestures allow you total control of your screen.

What you may not know about your trackpad is that it is fully customizable. By accessing the Magic Trackpad pane in System Preferences, you can not only discover the different gestures the trackpad supports but also enable and disable gestures as you see fit. Unsure if a gesture is right for you? Just hover your cursor over the name of the gesture and a video will play on the right side of the pane, demonstrating how to execute the gesture and what you will see on your screen.

Here are two examples of how customizing the trackpad can be highly useful. The first is personal. When I began using my new 13” MacBook Pro last summer, I would frequently (as in every few minutes) increase and decrease the font size on webpages in Safari without knowing how I was doing it, which was annoying to say the least. After perusing the gesture videos in System Preferences at the suggestion of a coworker to who I’d expressed my frustration, I realized this was happening due to a habit I’d developed while using my previous computer—a 12” iBook G4, which does not have a Multi-touch trackpad—and carried over to my new computer. When surfing the Internet, I use the fingers on my right hand to scroll and my left to click. Because I had the pinch open and close gesture enabled, I inadvertently executed it any time I simultaneously moved both my hands, which apparently I did often. I immediately disabled the gesture and have not encountered the issue since. Of course, I could alternately have kept the gesture enabled and broken myself of the two-handed browsing method, but I am a creature of habit and decided to go with the easier fix. And, if I ever want to use the gesture in other applications, such as iPhoto, I can easily enable it for that purpose and disable it again when I’m finished.

The second example comes from my experience as a retail associate in Small Dog’s Waitsfield store. When demoing computers, I show customers how to find and set the trackpad preferences. I have found that customers who are switching from PC to Mac are particularly interested to learn about the secondary click gesture that opens a contextual menu, just like right clicking on a two-button mouse would. (The Apple Magic Mouse, which comes with all new iMacs and and is also available separately, supports this gesture as well.) Left-handed users will be pleased to know that secondary click is available on either the right or left bottom corner of the trackpad. Whether they’re left or right handed, customers new to Mac are generally relieved that functions they are familiar with on their PC will be available on their Mac as well.

Part of the joy of being a Mac user is making your machine your own through customization, and the Multi-touch and Magic Trackpads allow for even more personalization. If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and explore the many options available to you. The Magic Trackpad, which connects via Bluetooth wireless technology, can be used with any Mac computer running OS X 10.6.4 or later, so if you aren’t using a Magic Trackpad with your desktop or don’t have a Multi-touch trackpad on your laptop, you can easily get in on the fun by purchasing a Magic Trackpad for just $69.99.

 
     
  Space: The Final Frontier  
   
 

This past Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the first human in space. On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and completed an orbit around the Earth before returning to the ground about two hours later. Gagarin ejected from the Vostok capsule as planned, and a farmer and his daughter witnessed Gagarin as he arrived in their field by parachute. Gagarin says that he told them, “Don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!” Gagarin was not the first mammal in space, however. That distinction goes to Laika, a stray dog who the Soviet scientists chose because they felt she had already been trained for the rigors of space travel during her time on the streets of Moscow. Our CFO and COO Hapy Mayer named his dog Laika after this pioneer.

Today is also the 30th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle flight. The Space Shuttle Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center at precisely 7am EST and orbited Earth thirty-seven times over two days before landing at Edwards Air Force Base. This ability to land gently like an airplane, which allows the Shuttle to be re-used, was one of many technological leaps forward that were introduced in the Space Shuttle program. NASA describes this mission as The Boldest Test Flight in History because it was the first time a new spacecraft had been tested in space with people aboard: Commander John W. Young and pilot Robert Crippen. This description of the mission is almost certainly a reference to the opening of the television program Star Trek:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Star Trek showcased many technologies that must have seemed incredibly futuristic at the time but have since become commonplace. One example of this is the video wall that Captain Kirk and his crew used to chat with Starfleet Command or Klingon ships. Today, this can be done with FaceTime from any Intel-based Mac, iPad 2, iPhone 4 or iPod touch (4G). Even the weapons technology Star Trek imagined is being realized: The United States Navy recently announced that it has successfully tested a solid-state high-energy laser at sea and used it to set a test boat on fire. We are still presumably many years away from teleporters and replicators, but I am anxiously awaiting their debut.

If you want to explore the stars, there’s an app for that. Star Chart works with the built-in compass on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad. This allows you to simply hold your device up to the sky and receive details about the stars, planets and galaxies in that direction. You can even point it down to get a virtual view through the Earth and see the celestial objects that are not visible here in the Northern Hemisphere. You can also see the sky on your iPhone if you have a telescope and the MX-1 Telescope Adapter for Apple iPhone. This device allows you to mount your iPhone camera onto the telescope’s eyepiece to take photos or video or even display the view in realtime, not accounting for the time it takes light to cross the vast distances of space (remember: the speed of light is not only a good idea, it’s the law).

 
     
  Product Spotlight: Green Power for the Green Mountain State  
   
 

Save energy at home and in the office with the 8-outlet Conserve Surge Suppressor from Belkin. The Conserve Surge with Timer is an easy-to-use, cost-saving solution that helps reduce the energy wasted by electronics by turning them off automatically. The Conserve Surge has a convenient timer button that sits on the user’s desk. At the start of the work day, just click the button to power up desktop electronics. This also starts a timer with a duration of 11 hours. At the end of the 11-hour time period, the Conserve Surge automatically turns off power to your electronics, eliminating wasteful standby power. Use this green surge suppressor enough and you’ll save yourself some green too!

Purchase Belkin Conserve Surge Supressor – $35.99

 
     
  Announcing eWaste 2011  
   
 

We’re incredibly pleased to announce our 5th annual eWaste Events! This year we’re holding free eWaste events in both Vermont and New Hampshire. The Vermont event is scheduled for Saturday, May 14th at National Life Insurance Headquarters in Montpelier, VT. Our 2nd annual New Hampshire event will be held on Saturday, May 21st at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, NH. Both events are completely free and will take place between 9:00AM and 2:00PM. We’ll have more information on these exciting events in the very near future!

 
     
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Do you use Foursquare? Tomorrow is the second annual National Foursquare Day, and Burlington is celebrating! Many area businesses are offering check-in specials and exclusive mayor rewards. Our South Burlington retail store will be joining the fun and offering 25% off a set of the ever-popular Chill Pill Mobile Speakers with check-in. If you’re in the area, swing by, check-in and maybe even unlock that tricky Swarm Badge. Check out all of the deals on the event’s Facebook page. We hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes!

Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
Ben, Stephanie & Michael