Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brian Eno again!

Hmm, it seems that Brian Eno is circling my world injecting little pieces of brilliance. Not for the first time, I might add.

Brian Eno is one of those people who has not only done some brilliant things in his own right but has also worked with and affected other people whose work I appeciate such as David Byrne, David Bowie and Robert Fripp.

He also works in a number of creative areas.

Over the last 12 months I've come across more and more of his work influencing me. First, it was getting a set of "Oblique Strategy" cards then a copy of his "Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now", then he re-released "77 Million Paintings" with better morphing and better layered sound. then there was his new album with David Byrne, someone made "Oblique Strategies" for the iPhone and he worked on the music of "Spore".

Now he has developed a music application for the iPhone called 'Bloom' that is the most superb tool for creating 'generative music.' Given that he could be considered one of the founders of generative music I guess it's not that surprising.

If you 'play' Bloom the software provides a soft, slightly and slowly varying tone and you play notes by tapping the screen. It appears you can have chords of at least four notes. The notes you tap are repeated after a delay and they too will slowly alter. After a few minutes practice it is possible to create some interesting and original music that would be best described as "ambient". It is almost perfect for playing while you do some creative work if you are one of those (like me) who does not like strong melody and catchy lyrics while working. For a small amount of money this is just great software.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ooooh, Bento 2, pretty!!

I have to admit to being a total database geek. I spent a number of years working with various database libraries for C, including a couple of strong SQL ones. I spent a number of years working with FileMaker and I'm a big fan of it. Tha'ts not to say I don't constantly gripe about FileMaker and have a fairly long wish list, just that I think it is one of the best database systems out there for fast development of applications.

I've also seen a lot of users out there build FileMaker apps themselves. They go to the "Corporate Applications" or "Enterprise Applications" team to be told that it will be two years before they get a product so they build something to "get the job done" in FileMaker and three years down the track Exterprise Applications complain that they are using an "unsupported" product.

I did see one large enterprise that had a small FileMaker Pro development team to support sers in this and they could then show Enterprise Applications a working prototype with screens and reports the users liked. Halved the time it took EA to implement

In support one of the things that constantly amazes you is how many people are using huge spreadsheets to handle data. I remember one guy who insisted on downgrading his version of Office because the new Excel would only support 32,760 odd rows and that was smaller than his data set.

These users need a tool that is simpler than FileMaker Pro, easily imports data from Excel and provides real database power. Exactly the market that FileMaker Inc. are targetting with Bento 2.

The first version was a good tool, version two is that much better - particularly at the critical task of importing from spreadsheets.

It even has the facility to view, edit and otherwise use your iCal and Address Book data. Mail integration is there but needs a little more work - at the moment you can only link to messages that have to be opened in Mail.

It looks good, is certainly usable and has some good templates. Recommended for everyone currently using Excel for data. If you are, or otherwise want an easy to use database system go to FileMaker's Bento overview where you can get more details, view some stuff, download a demo or buy it.