Out With You, Analog

There are only two more days here in Japan before analog broadcasting stops, and this morning they (and by they I mean someone sent over by our realtor) came over to replace the old antenna on our roof with a digital one. We’ve been watching digital TV for over two years now, and we did it by simply buying a small UHF antenna — you know, those “rabbit ear” kind of deals — and it’s worked fine, although occasionally we get a weak reception.

I’m glad that we have a digital antenna, but I don’t think we’ll be able to use it, since the outlet is not in our living room, and I don’t think I want a long cable going through two rooms so it can reach our TV. But the option is there I guess.

Also, I’m rather impressed with Apple’s new Thunderbolt Display, and not only would I like to get one to use with my laptop — my trusty MacBook Pro 17″, which has been my workhorse for over two years now — but maybe also to plug in my consoles when the TV is otherwise occupied. Is this something I can do? I’m not even sure if I can use it with my Thunderbolt-less MBP. 

It’s a digital world, and I like it.

Favorite Media of 2010

For some reason I’ve always avoided doing year-end lists of favorite things — I don’t really know why — but I just felt like doing one this year, and so here goes. Now, of course, this is all based on what I’ve actually seen/played/used/listened to, and so consider this a personal compilation of the favorite things I experienced this year in the world of media (it’s not a “best of” thing) — and note that it is limited to things that were released in 2010. Two categories that may be conspicuous by their absence are books and magazines — I just don’t feel like I read enough books to justify a proper list, and for magazines, I don’t have five truly favorites that come to mind.

So here then is my highly unscientific, truly subjective list of favorite media obsessions of 2010. Each category includes five items in alphabetical order (I think it’s silly to rank them in order), and I’ve occasionally included a few honorable mentions, things that I really wanted to have in those favorite fives.

Favorite Games
As you’ll see, my favorite genre tends to be RPGs (with a strong emphasis on action RPGs), and then racing games too. I could probably have done a separate downloadable game category as well, but decided to just put them all together.

  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
  • Red Dead Redemption

Honorable Mentions: Costume Quest, Fable III, Limbo, Heavy Rain, Split/Second

Favorite iPad Apps
There are many more apps that I really like, but these are the ones that I use the most, that I have in my dock. I decided to only list iPad apps and not iPhone apps (same for games), since I do really spend a lot more time on my iPad, and my iPhone is just something I pull out when I’m bored waiting somewhere (most used apps on that would be Twitter, Instapaper, Camera, and listening to podcasts).

  • Cloudreaders
  • Instapaper
  • NYTimes
  • Reeder
  • Twitter

Honorable Mention: Air Video

Favorite iPad Games
I’ve kept this to real iPad versions of games only — I did play a hell of a lot of DoDonPachi Resurrection on my iPad, but it’s really just an iPhone release.

  • Carcassonne
  • Infinity Blade
  • Plants vs. Zombies HD
  • Robot Unicorn Attack HD
  • Word with Friends

Honorable Mentions: Highborn HD, Small Worlds, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Canabalt, Puzzle Agent HD

Favorite TV
This year was absolutely amazing for TV, and you’ll see that my tastes are definitely on the cable series side of things (Community is the only network show to be included) — that fact that you can be truly mature is one thing, and the shorter seasons (and so more focused storylines) is another.

  • Eastbound & Down
  • Dexter
  • Mad Men
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • True Blood

Honorable Mentions: Community, Treme, The Walking Dead, Louie, How to Make It in America, Bored to Death

Favorite Movies
This was difficult because I obviously haven’t seen a ton of movies that came out in theaters in recent months in North America, so my list could honestly have included movies that came out towards the end of 2009 as well. I know the two Mesrine films originally came out in France in 2008, but I felt like I could include them since they came out in North America this year.

  • Cyrus
  • Inception
  • Mesrine: Killer Instinct/Mesrine: Public Enemy #1
  • The American
  • The Ghost Writer

Honorable Mentions: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass, The Social Network, Exit Through the Exit Shop

Favorite Albums
Music is also very difficult, since I listen to so much of it, and to such a variety — which is one of the reasons I started Codex — but I think I was still able to come up with a list of favorites, in part based on the “most played” count in iTunes.

  • Record Collection (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl)
  • Swim (Caribou)
  • There Is Love in You (Four Tet)
  • The Suburbs (The Arcade Fire)
  • The Way Out (The Books)

Honorable Mentions: The Social Network Soundtrack (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross), King of the Beach (Wavves), Not Music (Stereolab)

Favorite Tracks
Again, these are mostly based on the “most played” count in iTunes.

  • “A Cold Freezin’ Night” (The Books)
  • “Bang Bang Bang (feat. Q-Tip and MNDR)” (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl)
  • “Happy Up Here” (Royksopp)
  • “Threshold Apprehension” (Black Francis)
  • “Odessa” (Caribou)

Honorable Mentions: “King of the Beach” (Wavves), “Rococo” (The Arcade Fire)

Favorite Comics
This was the hardest category for me, because I read A LOT of comics, and so it was hard to narrow it down to just five — and these five are basically the things that I could remember really liking — and the reason I don’t even include any honorable mentions is because it would be ridiculously long.

  • Justice League: Generation Lost
  • Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Sweet Tooth
  • The Unwritten

The Magaziner

I gotta say I’m getting a kick out of this: In the past 24 hours I conceived of a site, a name, bought the domain, got it working, installed WordPress, imported posts from this site, found a theme that I modded to my liking, and have now launched my latest project, something I’m calling The Magaziner. What’s a magaziner you ask? Here’s my made-up answer:

We hereby define a new term, that of the magaziner, described as a person who exerts an unhealthy amount of love for all things magazine. The Magaziner is a site that mostly focuses on the intersection between magazines and the digital frontier, and what it means for the medium. This does not preclude the inclusion of a healthy amount of print love.

It all started last night when I was reading a comment on Facebook by Craig Mod, who suggested that all of the magazine-related coverage I’ve been doing over the past couple of months is getting lost within the rest of what I post here. I think he made a good point — and god knows I have a lot of respect and admiration for what he’s accomplished over the past year or so — and so I decided to launch a new site that would be exclusively for all of the magazine stuff. Expect the same kind of coverage you’ve been seeing here — commentary, news, new release announcements, reviews — that weighs heavily on the emerging digital side of the magazine publishing industry, something I’m quite passionate about (although I do still love my lovely print publications, thank you very much).

So this site returns to being a hub for news on me and all of my various projects, which on top of The Magaziner includes Codex, my new weekly music podcast, Radio OK Fred, SNOW Magazine, PauseTalk, and other fun stuff. Hope you’ll continue to follow what I’m up to here, and if you really enjoyed the magazine coverage, then please head on over to The Magaziner — and you can of course subscribe to an RSS feed. There’s a Twitter account too (@the_magaziner) that I’ll be using to post magazine-related news as well.

Oh, and one more thing about The Magaziner, please consider this a beta version of the site. As I said at the top of this post, it all came together rather fast, so over the coming weeks I’m sure I’ll be changing things here and there, fixing things I missed, and maybe coming up with new features or sections to add.

Digital as Expensive as Print to Produce?

To produce? Maybe for the content itself (although for the most part, content is shared between the two), but one of the biggest selling points for going digital is to save on printing costs and distribution. I do still have problems with some of the points this piece from Forbes brings up though on the content production side of things. I get that producing videos for a digital edition adds costs, but the idea that including more photos in the digital edition also raises costs is ridiculous — we’re just getting to see more from a shoot, the parts that usually end up on the cutting room floor.

The question of bandwidth could be an issue, but really, is there actually an alternative to releasing magazines for the iPad than through the iTunes App Store? The article gives Zinio as an example, suggesting that all magazines sold through that device are doing it through its own servers. Is Apple really not getting any cut from sales that are done through the iPad app though? If so, then I guess we can expect to see the release of a Conde Nast (or Time, Inc., etc.) app, that will house all of its magazines.

Update: A reader suggests that the point about the photos is not so ridiculous, considering that most photographers are paid for each photo published. I assumed they were paid for the shoots.

Bonnier’s News+

Bonnier’s Mag+ — a concept for a magazine on tablet — was all the rage when it came out earlier this year, and now Bonnier follows that up with another new concept, News+, this time presenting what a daily newspaper could look like on iPad. Again, some really interesting ideas here, and I’m wondering how closely the upcoming Daily digital newspaper from Apple and Rupert Murdoch will come to looking like this. (via Cédric Riveau)

Still Can’t Download Wired in Background

Well this is disappointing. One of the things I was most looking forward to with the 4.2 iOS firmware update for iPad was the addition of multitasking, and therefore the ability to download stuff — like gigantic issues of Wired — in the background. Sorry folks, switching to another app after you start the download simply pauses it, waiting for you to return. Come on Wired, fix this. And if you’re wondering, this month’s issue clocks in at 351MB, so we’re on a downward trend in terms of size at least.

Edit 2010

Jeremy attended — and participated in — last week’s “Edit 2010” magazine publishing event in Warsaw, and includes a nice round-up of what was covered, especially on the Adobe digital tools front.

Pictured, an earlier issue of Gym Class Magazine that was on display as part of a magazine exhibition. Make sure to pick up the latest issue!

Eureka on iPad

I’ve been meaning to do a write-up on The TimesiPad version of its monthly Eureka science magazine for way too long now, and please don’t think that it’s because I don’t think it’s good. In fact — and as Jeremy also quite plainly stated in his review — quite the contrary, as I think it’s one of the best iPad magazine releases so far.

What’s especially impressive is that I find this magazine to be interesting even though I normally would not be inclined to pick up a magazine about science. But Eureka on iPad does so many cool things with the digital format that it’s worth picking up for that fact alone — and it’s ridiculous not too, since it’s also priced at a mere $1.

It all kicks off with a graphically pleasing table of contents that lets you quickly zoom into the different sections of the magazine, using an atomic structure-like layout that suits the theme perfectly. You can also move around to different sections with a pop-up guide on the bottom, which is similar to the ones used in the Times iPad app, but with a graphical touch up.

It also does an amazing job of using imagery to enhance articles, and as with more and more iPad magazines these days (and to be fair, it was something I first saw in the Times app), it uses the landscape mode for extra content, like detailed slideshows and the like. I wonder why so many UK-based publications are doing this, but so far it’s not really happening on the US side.

Without going into too many details, let’s just say that you’ll find beautiful layouts and fun interactive features throughout, and so it’s well worth picking for a look at what a true graphic-heavy iPad magazine can look like (as opposed to the farce that is the New York Magazine app). Sure, there are still certain issues — still no text manipulation, and no sharing tools — but there’s still a lot to like, and as I said earlier, at $1 you can certainly check it out for yourself.