MuseScore Notation Program

MuseScore is a free cross-platform WYSIWYG music notation program, that offers a cost-effective alternative to professional programs such as Sibelius and Finale. You can print beautifully engraved sheet music or save it as PDF or MIDI file. That’s what MuseScore website says. By the way, MuseScore is available for the PC, Mac, Debian/Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mandrake.

I’m currently working on a jazz piece by Lee Morgan called Ceora from his 1966 album Cornbread. I’m not a professional musician, so I need help in interpreting some of the difficult passages. What I needed was a music notation software to play the original melody. I had a slightly older, circa 2001, music notation software on my PC that simply refused to work.

So, I searched for a music notation software online. I was even willing to pay up to a certain amount. I came across MuseScore. And the best part of it all, it’s free. I downloaded the software on my MacBook Air and went to work right away. By the way, there are several how-to videos of MuseScore in YouTube.

Creating a new score is quite easy. It’s very intuitive. Placing notes on the score wasn’t difficult. Adding rests and incidentals were a bit tricky, but I learned how to do it after a few tries. Adding triplets was the difficult part. I had to get help. Thankfully, there is Help Me file available in the program.

After an hour, I was able to place the melody of Ceora on MuseScore. I have the option to save it as a MID, WAV or the Vorbis OGG format. If you’re a jazz fan, here’s the original track of Ceora as recorded by Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins and Hank Mobley.

Ceora – Lee Morgan

A Great HTML5 Resource

There are hundreds of HTML5 resources on the Internet. One of my favorite is Dive Into HTML5. If you want an excellent introduction to HTML5, this is a good place to start. It’s written by Mark Pilgrim where he dissects all facets of HTML5 into ten chapters.

He starts out with a brief history of HTML, followed by how to detect HTML5, the details of the head elements, the markup, canvas, video, geolocation, local storage, offline applications and forms. The website also includes an Appendix of HTML5 elements.

This is an excellent read for those wanting to jump in and learn HTML5 quickly. If you want a hard copy, I recommend two books. One book is by Mark Pilgrim’s called, “HTML5: Up and Running.” The other is a book by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp’s called, “Introducing HTML5.”

Kindle for the Mac

I was browsing the Apple App Store the other night, and I came across an application called “Kindle” for the Mac. And, it’s free. So, I downloaded the application and installed it. Amazon recently made the “Kindle Apps” available to anyone with a smartphone and a computer. You don’t need a Kindle device.

Kindle Apps will work on the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and the Windows 7 phone. If you own a Kindle, you can synch any of the Kindle Apps to work in conjunction with your Kindle device. So, Kindle owners are now able to read the books they’ve purchased, not only in the Kindle devices, but also on their computers and smartphones.

The Kindle app for the Mac comes empty. There are no books. You will need to download the books from Amazon’s website. To download, just click on the “Shop in Kindle Store” link on the top hand right corner of the window. You can purchase thousands of books, including the latest releases, as well as download all the free public domain books that are available.

If you already own a Kindle, you just have to register the application with your Amazon credentials. To synch the books you’ve already purchased, you just login and the application will download all your books. It will also remember the last page you’ve read as well as synch any annotations you have created on your Kindle device.

I downloaded two free books, the Art of War by Sunzi and The Adventures of Sherlock Homes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can see reading on the Kindle can be an expensive hobby. Reading electronically does have it’s distinct advantages. At least, you don’t have to lug around a book everywhere you go.

Verizon’s iPhone Arrival Is Not So Perfect

Verizon plans to announce today the arrival of the iPhone. But, the scenario not quite perfect as everyone thought it would be. Verizon plans to run the iPhone 4 on its ‘3G’ network, and not on the faster ‘4G’ network. It’s disappointing if you ask me. To make matters worse, the timing of it is not quite so ideal. Let me explain.

The next generation of iPhones, the iPhone 5, will probably be released later this summer. It would be nice if the iPhone 5 coincides with Verizon release later this month, but we all know that will not happen. Can Verizon wait until summer? One problem. Rumor has it that Verizon will not have access to the iPhone 5 until the end of the year, which gives AT&T a six month advantage.

I’m sure Verizon’s executives are not happy with this scenario. But, they don’t really have a choice, it’s either release it now or at wait until the end of the year. And waiting until the end of the year is not really an option. So, reports of the demise of AT&T, in terms of losing million of users to Verizon, is far from becoming reality.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s the deal that Apple wanted with both carriers. It was really meant to be this way. It satisfies both carriers, without sacrificing the other.

iPhone Coming To A Verizon Near You

Will the iPhone finally come to Verizon near you? This rumor has been circulating for years. Is it finally coming true? I can’t believe, that it has been 3 1/2 years since the iPhone was introduced with AT&T as sole partner in June 2007. How time flies. Apple and Verizon plan to announce on Tuesday the new partnership. No details yet. No plans. No prices. I guess we will find out more about it on Tuesday.

Based on early analyst estimates, Apple will likely add 9 to 12 million new iPhone users on Verizon’s network. The figure will probably equal the number of iPhone units sold via AT&T this past year, estimated to be around 14.5 million units. Does this mean iPhone users will double in 2011? By the looks of it, based on estimates, it probably will.

Will see a max exodus of AT&T users switching over to Verizon? Probably not. After all, it’s not always easy to get out of a contract. Remember, AT&T increased the early termination fee to $325 last year and $10 extra for each month. People would think twice before getting out their current contract. In addition, AT&T also cut the iPhone 3GS phones from $99 to $49 last week. I think AT&T will be fine.

The Most Hideous Website Ever

You probably seen several ugly websites in your lifetime. But this one is the tops. Its clearly the most hideous website ever. The worst! If you can come up with something worse than this, let me know. When was this website exactly coded? Hmmm, based on web design forensics, it looks like these pages precede the pre-1994 era of the Internet age. Here’s some of its glorious features:

A guestbook! No one has been using a guestbook for years. Background music! At least, the honky tonk music will keep you entertained while surfing the site. The colors! No one has seen these color combinations in ages. You probably need a trip to the eye doctor after 5 minutes on this site.

Overlapping images! After all, you can’t fit them all in one page. It looks like these photos were taken when digital cameras had resolutions of 100×150 pixels. Of course, every site has to have Cessna planes and Harley motorcycle background images. How about a screenshot!

No amount of screenshot is going to do any justice to this masterpiece, until you see it for yourself. So, I present to you, the most hideous website ever. And don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

Finally, an apology for the overuse of the exclamation point!!

1 Million Apps Downloaded in 1 Day

One million were apps downloaded from the Mac App Store in in just one day. It’s quite impressive. You can add me as one contributor to that statistic. I’ve downloaded a couple of applications in Twitter and TextWrangler. Both were free. The Mac App Store features the top paid and free programs in the store. So, it’s interesting to see which apps are popular. You get a feel for what apps are trending.

Just a couple of applications worth noting.

MindNode for Mac is a elegant mindmapping application for collecting, organizing and outlining your thought and ideas. It’s a perfect tool for brainstorming, holiday planning, research, writing, project management, and meeting notes. The best part of it all is, it’s free. Can’t beat that. I’ve used a mindmapping tool before in my previous work to brainstorm and organize thoughts. I even used it for talks and speeches.

If you’re familiar with HDR images at all, you wonder how it is done. Well, Light Compressor is an app that lets you easily combine multiple exposures into striking HDR images. Light Compressor will combine the images you’ve taken from a tripod and give you the freedom to tweak the color curves, the tone-mapping and saturation before saving it as high quality 16 bit/channel tiff image. This app is practically free for just $0.99.

Well, everyone knows Angry Birds. If you don’t, no worries. Angry Birds is the number one paid app in the Mac App Store. At just $4.99, you can download and play this hugely popular game. Dish out revenge on those green pigs that stole the bird’s eggs. Lots of angry birds here. The game features 195 levels. It’s well worth the price. If you ever need a break from work, go play this game.

The New Mac App Store Opens Today

As promised, the new Mac App Store opened up today. It comes stocked with thousands of games, utilities and productivity programs. To install the Mac App Store, you will need to do the following: (1) You need to be running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. (2) You need to run today’s update of Snow Leopard to version 10.6.6. After the update, you will be prompted to restart the new OS version. After the restart, you will see a new Mac App Store icon (it’s shaped like the letter A, next to the Finder) on your Dock. See image below. The Mac App Store is also available from the Apple Menu.

The new Mac App Store is organized pretty much the same way as iTunes. In fact, you need your iTunes account or Apple ID to download or purchase applications, utilities and games from the Mac App Store. The top paid software is currently Angry Birds, followed Chopper 2 and iPhoto. There are also dozens of free programs like Twitter, Evernote, Caffeine, TextWrangler and a few more.

The new Mac App Store is going to make shopping for software a lot easier for Mac users. I imagine that every software will be available from the Mac App Store in due time. This is just a start. Only a few thousand applications, utilities and games are currently available in the store. But not everyone is happy. There are some developers left out in the cold.

To install the Mac App Store, just run the update if you’re running Snow Leopard.

Interesting enough, iMovie was also updated during the update today. I’m not sure if this was part of the update or iMovie update was available before today’s update. Anyways, there’s a new version of iMovie also that showed up on my MacBook Air as well.

Drupal 7 Is Finally Here

Drupal 7 was released today. Drupal is an open-source content management system that powers millions of websites and applications including the White House, InfoWorld, Examiner and cloud-based CMS Drupal Gardens. Drupal 7 enhancements are focused mainly in areas of usability and scalability.

In terms of usability, Drupal 7 comes with a much improved user interface. Drupal 7 also improved in the area of scability. Drupal might be a bit slower than its predecessor Drupal 6, but it can run bigger websites. Examiner.com, who recently moved from ColdFusion to Drupal 7, has over 22.4 million unique visitors monthly.

So, I downloaded and installed Drupal 7 today on my development system running on my laptop. One of the nicer enhancements of Drupal 7 has over the previous versions is that is now faster and cleaner to install. It’s not quite the same as the WordPress’ famous 5 minute install, but it comes very close.

Drupal 7 also comes with OpenID support as well as revamped contact form.

If you’re fortunate enough to be near one of these 900 Drupal release parties, I say go to one of them. I’m planning on going.

One last thing, Mashable made Drupal, one of the top 10 websites in 2011.

Are Penny Auction Websites Scams?

Penny auction websites seem to be popping up everywhere. A couple months ago, I was introduced to Quibids. I’ve watched Quibids from the sidelines, but I never got involved. I thought penny auctions were bargains, but I soon realized, bidders could potentially lose large amounts of cash without actually winning anything. But, you can also find bargains, if you know what you are doing.

That was my first introduction to penny auction websites. Fast forward to today, now I am seeing a ton of ads from penny auction websites like ZiingaBidRivals, Jeaper, BidSauce, BidRodeo, BidCactus, Swoopo, Beezid, to name just a few. The list seem to be growing monthly.

So the question in most people’s mind is, are penny auction websites scams? Or are they legitimate businesses? First of all, you need to understand how penny auctions work, before you can make an opinion. Penny auctions are online auctions that involve bidding for items at one cent at a time.

For example, you start bidding for an Apple iPad at 1 cent. There is a time limit of 15 seconds or more, depending on the auction site. If no one bids and the time expires, the iPad is yours at $1 cent. If someone bids before the time expires, the bid goes up to 2 cents and the time resets to 15 seconds. And it on and on it goes, until someone eventually gets the item.

I suggest you watch Quibids to get a sense of how penny auctions work.

How can penny auction websites make money if they sold an iPad for just $34.33? Trust me, they make money. A boatload of it. Penny auctions sites make money because they are not really penny auctions. It’s a bit deceiving. The cost for bidding one cent is actually a lot more. Most penny auction websites charge anywhere from 50 cents to one dollar for one bid. Quibids charges $0.60 cents.

For the sake of our example, let’s say the cost of one bid is one dollar. To start, you purchase $50 dollars worth 50 bids. You see a number of bids that are currently running on the auction site and begin to bid. Let’s say, at the end of the night, you get nothing. Not one single item. You came close twice, but somebody out there outbidded you. You multiply this scenario a thousand times, and you get the drift. The penny auction websites are raking in cash.

Penny auction companies also make money on items they sell. Lets take for example, the iPad auctioned at $34.33. We will use our example of a dollar per bid. If you do the math, the actual cost for the iPad is not really $34.33. The real cost is $3,433. To get to $34.33, there would have been 3433 bids at a $1 dollar each.

iPads typically costs anywhere from $500 to $800 depending on the model. A penny auction website can break even if it auctions the iPad for just $5.00, if we use our one dollar per penny bid example. In addition, bidders also have to pay for winning the item. Let’s say, you won the iPad for $34.33. That means, you have to pay $34.33, plus the sales tax if you live within the same state. In some cases, you may have to pay for the shipping costs as well.

Are penny auctions scams? It doesn’t seem to be. They seem legitimate. The penny auction websites are not doing anything illegal, unless they hired bidders behind the scenes outbidding customers to jack up their prices.

There is great potential that you could lose money in penny auction sites, but you can also find bargains if you know what you are doing. Proceed with caution. Spend your money wisely.

If you do participate in penny auction, don’t bid on anything that just actively started. You may find better bargains towards the end of the auction. Don’t bid on popular items with dozens of active bidders. Try to win a 50 or 100 bid vouchers first. This will give you more bids that you can use later on.

Finally, a disclaimer. I have not participated in penny auctions to date. You are on your own on this one. Just like they say in the lottery, play responsively.