Review: Daniel O'Donnell delights Winspear with marathon evening of music - Edmonton Journal - Canadanewsmedia
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Review: Daniel O'Donnell delights Winspear with marathon evening of music – Edmonton Journal

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Daniel O’Donnell at the Winspear on Sunday night

I have seen easy-listening music’s future, and its name is Daniel O’Donnell.

Now, granted, O’Donnell is also the present of easy-listening, but that doesn’t sound quite as riveting. In truth, the pride of County Donegal has long been reigning king of the middle-of-the-road, winning over millions of fans worldwide with a canny mix of Irish traditionals, folk, and classic country music. He’s a star on PBS, a Billboard chart topper, and by his own admission, addicted to playing Bridge and golf during his time off. Is there anyone out there who could possibly take his crown?

If Sunday night’s concert at the Winspear was any indication, then no. Taking the stage after a somewhat bemusing five-minute video detailing O’Donnell’s early life, the singer-songwriter launched into a marathon two-set evening with the classic Perry Como weeper Stand Beside Me. Backed by a crack band of very reserved musicians (drums, two keyboards, accordion, violin, mandolin, guitar, bass) the tenor more than accomplished his goal of entertaining an audience that was definitely on the mature side with the gentlest of gentle music.

They packed the Winspear to the rafters to hear him, in case you were wondering. An O’Donnell concert might not be headline news in the arts section of your standard daily, but he draws an impressive audience, won primarily on word-of-mouth and television specials. They come for his unassuming and relaxed personality, his dedication to smooth music, his storehouse of dad jokes. Rockers come and go, but Daniel O’Donnell? He’s eternal.

He also ranges far afield in his cover choices, moving from an exuberant version of Bobby Vinton’s Roses Are Red (My Love) to the mildly honky-tonking Erin Tennessee; the singalong Old Friends Are Best to traditional favourite The Belle of Belfast City. He brought out longtime tourmate Mary Duff for a duet on Wind Beneath My Wings, and left her to sing a zippy take of Anne Murray’s (by way of Gene MacLellan) Snowbird and a more mournful Sing Me Back Home. It was by turns mawkish, sentimental, toe-tapping and sweet; most importantly it just kept going, an experiment in endurance that even Bruce Springsteen would have to respect.

All the while O’Donnell interacted with his loyal fanbase, making sure to include those in the farthest balconies. The man clearly knows his audience. He showed photos of his grandchildren, told anecdotes about his personal life, cracked a few groaners, busted out some dance moves like a Riverdancing James Brown, and kidded around with his musicians. It was homey, friendly, relaxed, and so far under-the-radar that you wouldn’t know about it unless you stumbled across this review.

So take a hint from O’Donnell, you cutting edge hipsters with your seapunk, vaporwave, and trap; easy-listening is where it’s at. Just make sure that if you come at King O’Donnell, you best not miss.

REVIEW

Daniel O’Donnell

With: Mary Duff

When: Sunday, May 26

Where: Winspear Centre

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Apple redesigns MacBook Pro keyboard

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Apple is finally introducing a replacement to its butterfly keyboard after years of customer complaints.

The company announced on Wednesday a large, expensive MacBook Pro with a keyboard that has been redesigned for the first time in four years.

The computer, which is intended for power users, professionals or anyone who needs a lot of screen space, features a 16-inch retina display, replacing its 15-inch MacBook Pro. It starts at $2,399, but can go all the way up to $6,099 when you tack on additional storage and processing power. The 13-inch entry-level MacBook Pro, which came out earlier this year, starts at $1,299.

The new MacBook Pro promises better battery life, a new Intel Core processor, an updated cooling system and advanced speakers. But the most significant change is the keyboard.

Apple has long faced complaints over broken and sticky keys in its butterfly keyboards — a design with a mechanism under the keys that expands like wings, opening itself up to dust and other debris. The concept allowed Apple to create a slimmer keyboard design, but some tech reviewers have called it Apple’s worst invention of all time.

Now, it’s reverted back to a traditional scissor-style mechanism that most laptops use. The company says the keyboard will have a stable feel and be responsive.

The MacBook Pro comes with many familiar features, including its signature Touch Bar, a fingerprint sensor and Mac apps, but it now offers double the default storage and pricey upgrade options, up to eight terabytes of storage. (This may appeal to people who have large files and wallets.)

The MacBook Pro is available for purchase online Wednesday in space gray or silver colors. It hits stores later this week.

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Apple thinks glasses will replace smartphones

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Apple is planning to launch its first augmented reality (AR) product sometime in 2022. According to a report from The Information, citing sources attending an internal Apple presentation, Cupertino wants to release an augmented reality headset in 2022 and a pair of AR glasses by 2023. These “Apple Glasses” have popped up in previous rumors with an earlier launch date in 2020, but this new report reveals a far more concrete plan than previous accounts.

Product details are thin on the ground, but a few design points pop up in the report. The products will be designed with gaming, video, and virtual meetings in mind, according to Bloomberg. The Apple Glasses AR capabilities hinge on a new 3D sensor system, developed in-house at Apple over several years. Apparently, this is a more advanced form of FaceID technology used in modern iPhones. Apple is allegedly working on lenses that darken when the wearer is using AR. This is to let others know the user is not necessarily paying attention to them.

Apple has about 1,000 engineers working on the AR and VR initiative. CEO Tim Cook has been hot on the idea of AR for a number of years now. The report also mentions plans to begin attracting developers to the platform in 2021. Clearly, this is a major business commitment, not a small side project.

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Apple Glasses to replace the iPhone

Perhaps the most interesting part of the report states that Apple believes augmented reality glasses will eventually replace smartphones. This will occur “in roughly a decade,” according to executives at the presentation. By 2030, Apple expects that the iPhone, and by extension Android phones too, will be obsolete — at least in high-end Western markets.

That’s no easy task. Current AR glasses pair up to a smartphone, which provides the data connectivity, storage, and bulk of the processing capabilities required by AR apps. Moving this entirely into a set of sleek, lightweight glasses will require a number of engineering breakthroughs. Apple’s first-generation AR products certainly won’t offer fully standalone capabilities. You’ll still need a phone in your pocket. Instead, the company is reportedly working on a new operating system, dubbed rOS, to enable existing devices to work with future headsets and glasses.

Barring the technological hurdles, there’s little reason to believe AR glasses can’t replace most of our smartphone needs. Messaging and calls are certainly possible, as is watching video and navigating with real-world map directions. The other hurdle is solving user interaction, something that advances in voice recognition and 3D object detection technology will likely be key to solving.

Augmented reality is already here, but new form factors will enhance the experience.

It’s easy to imagine the possibilities with AR, as some examples have already proven immensely popular. 2016’s Pokémon Go phenomenon was likely many people’s first foray into the world of AR. Today, consumers are using AR for Snapchat filters, real-time text translation, viewing the stars, and kitting our apartments. AR is already useful on smartphones, but AR glasses open up new possibilities for even more useful and engrossing experiences — ranging from in-world games to real-time contextual information on everything from directions to people.

Haven’t we been here before?

Apple certainly isn’t the first company to believe in AR as a future consumer product. Microsoft has been developing HoloLens for years and has just launched HoloLens 2 for businesses with an eye-watering $3,500 price tag. There’s also Google Glass, which was hounded out of the market by privacy advocates in its prototype launch period, although it remains in development for enterprise users. A number of other companies are working on the idea, including Epson, Toshiba, and Vuzix, among others. However, the majority fall under enterprise and specialist products.

Apple is banking on consumer appeal, but that’s a big ask. It is possible Apple Glasses will receive a warmer reception than Google Glass, given the US media’s often more sympathetic coverage of Cupertino over Mountain View. Its launch may also be more prime time ready, providing a robust developer platform and app ecosystem are ready to go at launch. However, consumer privacy concerns regarding camera and video recording, consent, and data collection will be a sticking point.

Privacy concerns and recording consent issues don’t disappear just because it’s Apple.

There’s no getting around the fact that AR glasses will fundamentally change the way we interact with the world and each other, but also the way in which technology interacts with us. Dedicated AR devices, like glasses, will consume even more data about our surroundings, taking in audio and visual cues from our lives to provide and contextualize content. Furthermore, we will likely wear glass throughout even more intimate aspects of our lives than a phone witnesses in our pocket. Having said that, consumers don’t seem too alarmed at the privacy implications of smart home products.

AR and the future of personal computing

Using Google Lens to identify a bunch of bananas as seen on the camera of the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Augmented reality is the inevitable next step in personal and enterprise computing. Its uses are bound to range from the essentials through to entertainment and the mundane. AR is clearly central to Apple’s future product plans, but it’s far from the only company working on the technology. Expect augmented reality to become increasingly popular in smartphones at all price points over the coming years. The next few years in mobile will lay down the building blocks for future AR-first products like Apple Glasses.

We’ll have to see whether wearable products like the Apple Glasses are the form factor that AR inevitably settles in. Perhaps phones will remain the preferred option for their flexibility if nothing else. Predicting the death of the smartphone within a decade is a bold move by Apple, but inevitably the tech world will move on. AR is as likely as any other to be that next big leap.

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Samsung Galaxy S11 hole-punch camera will be tiny – Pocket-lint

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The latest rumour regarding the Samsung Galaxy S11 suggests that the front facing camera will be placed within an even smaller hole-punch cutout than the Note 10.

It’s a relatively minor point on a smartphone that’s likely to be one of 2020’s most impressive devices, but it will mean an improved experience of the screen.

It goes without saying that having a smaller cutout for the camera means that it becomes less intrusive, and won’t block as much of what you have being displayed.

This information comes via @UniverseIce on Twitter, a leaker with a reliable track record in the mobile world.

We’ve already heard that the S11 will come in three different sizes, similar to the Galaxy S10, and that it will have a bigger battery than the S10.

Of course, hole-punch camera cutouts are a temporary measure until mainstream phone manufacturers figure out a way to implement an in-display selfie camera hidden beneath the display panel.

The aim from most of the smartphone makers is to create an edge-to-edge screen with no intrusion at all. It’s why some – like OnePlus and Oppo – have gone for a pop-up camera mechanism rather than have a notch or hole-punch camera at all.

Samsung’s next flagship is expected to launch around its usual timeframe in Spring 2020, kicking off next year’s new wave of high end smartphones.

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