"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 2 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

All Dressed Up With No Place To Go

"It's a clear example of how    
 technology can be applied to   
 enhance our leisure time       

- Lovester Law, VP of Marketing,
  Bill Graham Presents          

[QuickTime Live]

There's a saying that whomever

you spend New Year's with you'll

continue to spend time with

throughout the year. If there's

any credibility to that old saw,

we'll be spending a lot of time

in 1996 staring at our computer

terminals, waiting patiently for

something, anything to happen.


For New Year's, we got "live on

the net" with the launch of

QuickTime Live!, Apple's "new

virtual venue for live,

interactive, on-line



[Alive Stage]

The concept is clear enough: net

technology brought to the New

Year's tradition of gathering

around the television and

chanting along the countdown

with Times Square or Las Vegas

throngs. But just because

people's faith in personal

wristwatch technology has been

abdicated to an MCI-validated

absolute reading of time doesn't

mean that they're willing to

make the same leap from TV to

PC. In fact, despite our

intimate relations with many

varieties of archetypal geeks

(who we adore, we'll admit),

it's still difficult to imagine

even the most reality-distanced

megacoders joining to sport dumb

hats and Kazoos around the

RealAudio feed. But for our

commitment to the timeless

aesthetic of Sucksterism and the

promise of better, liver parties

before our nights were through

(not to mention our boneheaded

commitment to spewing text when

we should've been spewing

chunks) we wouldn't have had the

temerity to see the event




The "web-cast" of the San

Francisco New Year's Eve bash

put on by Bill Graham Presents,

QuickTime Live! amounted to some

bad QuickTake pics, even worse

QuickTime 3D panoramas, an

overcrowded chat space, a

RealAudio feed, and much, much

less - since, for most of the

evening, you couldn't connect to

any of these services. If you

were tuning in anywhere around

midnight on either coast, all

you saw were a bunch of broken

image icons and "server busy"



We only hope Apple hadn't

planned this event as a

proof-of-technology for the

Apple Internet Server Solution -

the on-site kiosks displayed the

same overloaded server behavior

as those coming in from the

larger net. Hasn't the company

already proved enough with the

never-too-speedy Salon? And we

thought Salon just wanted to

give us time to pause and

reflect between page loads.


[Times Square]

The morning after, when we were

able to connect, Apple's

QuickTime VR was the biggest

disappointment; being able to

spin around a still capture of a

room full of a bunch of aging

yuppies waiting in line for the

requisite glass of champagne is

hardly our concept of a good

time. Not much more could be

said for the QuickTime VR NYC

coverage - an empty Times Square

is, well, an empty Times Square,

even if you can pan 360 degrees.

Maybe if QuickTime VR had a

temporal aspect as well as a

spatial one we could at least

have seen yesterday's newspapers

blowing past.



Apple obviously intended to

showcase QuickTime Conferencing at

SFNYE, but we were never able to

connect to the server during the

event. So much for Apple's

QuickTime-based CU-SeeMe killer -

though we still have the Sundance

festival to look forward to,

in which, we suppose, QuickTime

Conferencing takes on 35mm. Can't

blame 'em for not setting their

sights high.


We might declare the

bandwidth-sucking RealAudio 2.0

as the real winner - we were

able to grab one of the

available connections and hog it

for much of the evening - but

only if we make it clear that

the competition was the

three-legged potato sack race,

not the Boston marathon.

Sounding almost as good as a $10

transistor job from Radio Shack,

if the RealAudio feed weren't

pushing out War - nevermind the

Gin Blossoms - it might have

been tolerable.


[Rock Stage]

Unfortunately, tech only reminds

us of our ghastly future: with a

new Beatles' single despite Mr.

Lennon having been worm food for

a good many years, there's no

guarantee that Santana will call

it a career once Carlos moves on

to more appreciative audiences.

We look forward to the

Cobain-Zapata duets album in '96

with trepidation.



Even given the inability to

connect, the picture-booth

quality photography, and a chat

space that only served to remind

us how many more pathetic losers

are out there besides ourselves,

we'd like to say the "web-cast"

event was a better value than

the $72.50 ticket price

(although we're sure the folks

at Bill Graham Presents think

that Santana is a great deal at

any price) - if network TV

hadn't been willing to give us

full motion video and real-time

stereo sound for the same, low

price of free. And we didn't

even have to install any helper




In a way, though, QuickTime Live!

did capture the essence of the

live show: not really worth the

time or the effort, if SFNYE was

all you had to do, you might as

well have been drinking alone.

Then again, maybe our friends at

Apple did start the year out

right: when you've got Santana,

who needs System 8?


Happy New Year!

courtesy of Webster