Rescue

One of my favorite places in Santa Cruz to walk and take photos is West Cliff Drive. Not only does it offer beautiful views across the Monterey Bay, but it fronts some of the best (and best-viewed) surfing in this part of California.

Yesterday, as I walked past the lighthouse and on toward the Boardwalk, a young man rushed passed me, vaulted a fence, and, while standing at the cliff’s edge, shouted “Someone’s struggling. Help her!”

Read More

Give of yourself (2016 edition)

The holidays are upon us, and with those holidays come the rituals we perform year in and out to help get us into the spirit of things. In addition to banging out holiday tunes on the piano, upping my consumption of minty treats, and arguing with my spouse over the most appropriate image for the holiday card, I take to BBEdit to offer a few hints about how the appropriately inclined can give of themselves to those who find modern technological life confounding.

This year—when the world has seemingly determined that a return to the sterner aspects of the Middle Ages may be an intriguing change of pace—it’s particularly important that we lend a greater hand to our fellows. And when better to start than during a visit to friends and families over the holidays? If you have the know-how (and patience), give these tips a try.

Read More

About forums and comments

Earlier this week, my former employer, IDG, shut down its commenting system and asked readers of such publications as Macworld, PCWorld, and Computerworld to instead engage with the publications via social networking. As the person largely responsible for moderating Macworld’s forums—and, later, comments—for many years, I have views that I’d like to share.

Read More

I'm loving my new virtual piano

As someone who’s played the piano for too many years to think about, I’m always on the hunt for the perfect piano sound—whether the real wood ‘n wires instrument or its sampled counterpart. As I mentioned in Paying for the (virtual) piano, I thought I’d found that sound in Best Service’s Galaxy Vintage D virtual grand piano.

Something better has come along.

Read More

Commander Jetpack!

In this week's Incomparable Radio Theater I composed and performed two versions of the Command Jetpack theme. The first—Jetpack Main Theme—is a military cadence for the "real" episode. For the radio-show-within-the-radio-show, I put together a cheesy version of the theme. 

As I imagined it, it was thrown together in a few minutes by the few musicians who lurked outside, catching a smoke. Quick. Dirty. And very, very cheesy. 

You can find both on the Music page.

More Incomparable Radio Theater Music

Yep, still at it. I've added a few tracks I've put together for The Incomparable Radio Theater. (All of which can be found, natch, on the Music page.)

From the Goon Show homage, The Go On Show, you'll find The Go On Show Tidbit. This is based on radioright David J. Loehr's request that I cast the traditional Incomparable theme in the setting of The Archers theme.

The other bits are from episode six, Eli's Coming. In this episode the Tigertails (me) return to sing David's Going Back to Old Nassau. Later in the episode, producer Jason Snell found a place for an industrial hunk of music I gave him awhile back. It plays behind the Quatermass Inc. commercial.

Play "Space Theme" yourself

Near the end of summer, I composed a theme for the Liftoff podcast, titled, imaginatively enough, Space Theme. (You can find a recording of it on the Music page.)

I've grown quite fond of the little thing and thought it might make for a nice piano piece for beginning players. With that in mind, I've created a score of it for anyone who'd like a copy.

If you count yourself among them, just click this link to receive a PDF.

The usual fine print applies. I own it, so you're not permitted to use it for commercial purposes or, of course, pass it off as your own work. If you (or someone you know) enjoys playing it, please leave a comment below.

Time to do something else…

Just a note to say that I’ve left Macworld to work for a Cupertino-based technology company you may be familiar with.

There are loads of reasons for the change, but blend them together and they add up to my desire to try something different before I don the large shorts and spend the bulk of my remaining days looking for my misplaced spectacles.

I’ve been in this racket for nearly 30 years and had an enviable career that afforded me the opportunity to create and learn. Raised up as a musician I never dreamed that I’d have the opportunity to spend my days playing with incredible technology and get paid to write and talk about it.

None of that would have happened without the assistance of a lot of people. Top of the heap is my wife, Claire, who helped me break in and, wordsmith that she is, taught me to string words together in ways that would hopefully inform as well as entertain. 

As part of this change I’ll be leaving the public stage as Chris Breen Technology Guy (though I may still pop up as Chris Breen Musician Guy at a saloon near you). When the mood strikes I’ll continue writing here about topics unrelated to technology, compose the occasional podcast theme, post beach pictures on Flickr, and spout the usual nonsense on Twitter (where you can unfollow me @BodyofBreen). Otherwise, until further notice, my technology writing/speaking/radio/video/podcasting days are at an end.

Normally, when one does this kind of thing, they suggest that there are just too many people to thank for their former livelihood. Nonsense. There’s no band waiting to play me off and that Doggie Bix ad is just going to have to wait. And so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the following people, each of whom enhanced the course of my career.

Abby Abernathy, Jim Akin, Juliana Aldous, Patty Ames, Marco Arment, Damien Barrett, Neil Bauman, Stephen Beale, Jennifer Berger, Ronda Bittner, Henry Bortman, Karel Bouley, Scott Bourne, Jim Bradbury, John Braun, Nick Brazzi, Shelly Brisbin, Michael Brown, Serenity Caldwell, Bill Cappel, Jeff Carlson, John Carney, Brad Chacos, Bryan Chaffin, Roger Chang, David Chartier, Jacqui Cheng, Wally Cherwinski, Garrick Chow, George Clark, Kristi Coale, Peter Cohen, Cliff Colby, Linda Comer, Sharon Cordese, Colin Crawford, Jason Cross, Craig Crossman, Jacob Cunningham, Jim Dalrymple, Josh de Lioncourt, Christina De Nike, Matt Deatherage, Diane Dempsey, Tuncer Deniz, Jackie Dove, Ivan Drucker, Bill Durrance, Phil Dyer, Daniel East, Cheryl England, Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Anita Epler, Cyrus Farivar, Bart Farkas, Josh Figatner, Bruce Fraser, Glenn Fleishman, Dan Frakes, Lex Friedman, Kasey Galang, Jim Galbraith, John Gallant, Jeff Gamet, Victor Gavenda, Tara Gibb, Joshua Gilbert, Andy Gore, Michael Gowan, Sean Greathouse, Caroline Green, Rob Griffiths, Nancy Groth, John Gruber, Mark Hachman, Dave Hamilton, Bruce Heavin, Kara Henderson, Loren Hildebran, Ilene Hoffman, Chris Holmes, Joe Holmes, Tim Holmes, Andy Ihnatko, Florence Ion, Tom Irish, Russ Ito, Susan Janus, Chuck Joiner, Paul Kafasis, Scott Kelby, Heather Kelly, Paul Kent, Stephanie Kent, Shawn King, Peter Kirn, Joe Kissell, Scott Knaster, Willem Knibbe, Chuck La Tournous, Ted Landau, Leo Laporte, Brett Larson, Pat Lee, Rick LePage, Bob LeVitus, Alex Lindsay, Stefan Lipson, Ben Long, Gil Loyola, Roman Loyola, Kelly Lunsford, Jean MacDonald, Brandon Mahne, Ian Martin, Chris Mattia, Deke McClelland, Kirk McElhearn, Scholle McFarland, Caitlin McGarry, Pat McGovern, Philip Michaels, Dan Miller, Rand Miller, Robyn Miller, Jolie Miller, Jeffy Milstead, John Moltz, Bert Monroy, Kathy Moran, Dan Moren, Rik Myslewski, Tom Negrino, Gail Nelson-Bonebrake, Jay Nelson, Ben Nillson, Patrick Norton, Susie Ochs, Karen Ohlson, Lisa Orsini, Naomi Pearce, Michael Penwarden, Nancy Peterson, Pam Pfiffner, Jon Phillips, Chris Pirillo, Jeff Pittelkau, Curt Poff, Lon Poole, Gary-Paul Prince, Charles Purdy, Schoun Regan, Melissa Riofrio, Rene Ritchie, John Rizzo, Lorene Romero, Kelly Ryer, Sean Safreed, Scott Scheinbaum, Lisa Schmeiser, Rob Schultz, Cat Schwartz, Jon Seff, Dennis Sellers, Andrew Shalat, Rich Siegel, Steve Simon, Kathy Simpson, Dori Smith, Max Smith, Rick Smolan, Jason Snell, Lesa Snider, Sal Soghoian, Stephan Somogyi, David Sparks, Terri Stone, Derrick Story, Duane Straub, Michael Swain, Gordon Ung, Sue Voekel, Vicki von Biel, Ben Waldie, Tim Warner, Lynda Weinman, Andrew Welch, John Welch, Jennifer Werner, Brooke Wheeler, Colleen Wheeler, Terry White, Bill Wiecking, Kyle Wiens, Kelli Wiseth, Becky Worley, Leah Yamshon, Sally Zahner, Bill Ziff, Jon Zilber.

There are surely more (forgive me if I’ve left out your name).

And, of course, thanks to everyone who took the time to pay any small amount of attention to what was on my mind over the past few decades. It’s been an honor.

Rules of the writing game

Recently I’ve come into contact with people who are embarking on a freelance writing career and are curious about how one fashions such a thing. Having been a freelance musician and then writer since my mid-20s on up to the point where someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, friends and former colleagues seem to think I have some insight. What little I have can be distilled into a single point (with a handful of subpoints):

Make it easy on the person who hired you. 

Read More

Letter of recommendation

As you’ve no-doubt heard, Macworld, the company I work for, suffered massive layoffs on Wednesday. Essentially, just about everyone in the masthead was let go. I remain, as do Susie Ochs and Leah Yamshon, and we’ll do our very best to do right by Macworld—we owe it to those who came before and our readers. But I admit that seeing my colleagues leave has been a bit like having everyone around you suddenly raptured while you stand gawking with a ham sandwich shoved halfway in your mouth.

Read More

Review: The Internet (part 3): How does The Internet work?

This review has so far generated enough interest that the reader has posed the quite reasonable question that serves as the title of this section. Although the exact nature of The Internet’s workings are so complicated (and diabolical) that no one person can be entrusted with every detail, I can shed some light on the matter. (Hint: Though only in a form allowed by the appropriate governing bodies!)

Read More