Friday, April 01, 2005
Posted 8:31 AM
A Few Thoughts on the iPod Camera Connector
Over at Playlist, Chris Breen, the hardest working iPod user in show business, has reviewed Apple's iPod Camera Connector, the $29 gizmo that enables iPod photo to import and display photos directly from a camera.
And he doth pronounce it good, if power hungry: Because the iPod photo can’t display RAW images with the help of the iPod Camera Connector and extended use of the device drains an iPod’s battery in short order, this adapter may not be the perfect tool for demanding digital photographers in the field. For the rest of us, however, it’s an extremely handy gadget that delivers on the iPod photo’s potential.
I'm not surprised by iPod photo's inability to display raw images (sorry, I just won't capitalize that non-acronym). Very few digital wallets display raw files because every camera manufacturer uses its own priorietary raw format, often even varying the format from one model to the next. This silliness won't go away unless and until camera manufacturers adopt a standard digital negative format such as that proposed by Adobe.
I'm more troubled by the Camera Connector's sluggish transfer speed and its thirst for battery power. In Chris Breen's tests, transferring 253MB of photos took almost 13 minutes. That's way too slow. And remember, that's 13 minutes of having to leave your camera turned on in one of its most power-hungry modes, so it means less shooting time once the photos are transferred.
I can transfer the same amount of data to my Archos Gmini-400 in a couple of minutes. And the reason: no USB bottleneck. Remove the card from the camera, plug it into the Gmini-400's Compact Flash slot, press a couple of buttons, and the transfer takes place.
The Missing Dock
What the iPod photo needs is a media reader/dock combination: a dock containing a Compact Flash slot. You'd transfer your photos using the dock, which could also be charging and powering the iPod photo at the same time. A simple adapter could accommodate other memory card formats, as it does on my Archos wallet.
I love the iPod photo: its screen is gorgeous, and the ability to carry slide shows in your pocket is a wonderful thing—even if Apple now charges extra for the cable and dock you need to actually view them on a TV set. But as a digital wallet—as a waystation for photos that you'd like to store until you get back to your Mac—it seems like iPod photo still hasn't quite reached its promise.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Posted 10:04 AM
Convert Orange Regions to Purple Ones with this Undocumented GarageBand Keyboard Shortcut
GarageBand has always used color coding to indicate what types of regions its tracks contain. Green regions are software instrument regions containing MIDI data. Blue regions are real instrument regions containing audio from Apple Loops. Purple regions are real instrument regions containing audio that you've recorded.
The spectacular GarageBand 2 introduced a new color to the region rainbow: orange. When you import an audio file into a GarageBand project, it's displayed as an orange region.
GarageBand 2 introduced the ability to shift the tempo and pitch of regions that you record. But this capability doesn't extend to regions that you import. When you record a region, GarageBand "stamps" it with your project's tempo and key information, but imported regions lack this data.
Thus, you can’t shift the tempo of orange audio regions, nor can you transpose them. At least not without a little trickery. If you know your song’s tempo and key match those of the orange region (or if you don’t care -- maybe you just want to slow down a solo to figure it out), here’s the secret: select the orange region, press Control-Option-G, and then click elsewhere in the timeline.
GarageBand stamps the region with your project's key and tempo settings and turns the orange region into a purple one. Now you can transpose it and stretch its tempo. This is great for doing remixes of tracks from your iTunes library.
Incidentally, if you open a project created in GarageBand 1.x, its once-purple regions will be orange. Use the Control-Option-G trick to convert them, too.
Tip: To calculate a song’s tempo, check out iTunes-BPM Inspector.
Heard about the new GarageBand instructional DVD? The one with 44 musical minutes of GarageBand tutorials, plus a library of loops? Actually, it's the DVD that comes with The Macintosh iLife '05, the latest edition of my complete iLife reference. 345 full-color pages and a two-hour, 43-minute companion DVD. It's shipping on April 8, and Amazon is selling it for $23.09 -- 34 percent of the cover price: music to any Mac lover's ears. Pre-order yours!
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Posted 9:44 AM
It's Done! The Definitive iLife '05 Reference Ships in Less than Two Weeks
Last week, I signed off on the final proofs of The Macintosh iLife '05.
And then I immediately got the flu.
Three months of 18-hour days -- writing by day, editing the book's companion DVD by night -- finally caught up with me. I wonder why I didn't succumb earlier in the process. Adrenaline, maybe. The timing was amazing. 1:15 am: sign-off on proofs. 7:00 am: awaken with a mushroom cloud in my throat.
I've been flat on my back since then, and my cozy bed beckons even now. But I had to drag my wheezing frame in front of the Cinema Display to cough out the good news.
Here's the best part: my book and its companion instructional DVD will be off-press and shipping in less than two weeks. Peachpit Press pulled out all the stops to cut the book's press time to an absolute minimum.
A few vital statistics on the new edition: 345 pages, up from 271 in the iLife '04 edition. (And these are packed pages: because of the book's 8.5-inch wide page size and our use of the extremely space-efficient Helvetica Condensed font, there's far more text on each page than in most other books. This book's pages work for a living.) The book is being printed on a silky smooth, 70-pound coated paper stock. And of course, the entire book is in color.
The DVD? It's the biggest yet. Two hours and 43 minutes of iLife '05 instruction -- nearly an hour on iPhoto 5 alone -- plus AppleScripts, utilities, GarageBand loops, and more. The DVD's content is divided into 136 chapters, and a series of menus puts you no more than three button presses away from any segment. (I'll have more to say about what it's like to edit and author a DVD like this one in future posts. Check out a couple of the Final Cut Pro HD screen shots that I've posted on Flickr.)
You'll soon be seeing The Macintosh iLife '05 in a special display at Barnes & Noble stores across the United States. Can't wait? Pre-order the book from Amazon.com. The cover price has gone up $5 from last year's edition -- it's now $34.95 -- but Amazon is still offering a hefty 34-percent discount. That makes the latest edition of the top-selling iLife book $23.09.
Enough of the me-commerce. I'll be updating the rest of this site in the next couple of weeks to include some excerpts from the book and the new DVD. Now, though, my Robitussin is calling me.