Apple Offers iLife discount to iDay 2003 Attendees
I'm happy to announce that Apple will be offering a 20-percent discount on the iLife suite to all attendees of the next iDay seminar, which takes place on Saturday, February 8 in Palo Alto, California.
Attendees will receive a coupon that enables them to purchase iLife at the Apple store in Palo Alto. Upon presenting the coupon, they will receive 20 percent off the product's $49 price.
We really appreciate Apple's support of our seminars. And it makes iDay an even better value. Between this offer, our half-off user group discount, and the free copy of Portraits & Prints that all attendees receive, the net cost of iDay can be less than $20! There isn't a better training value in the galaxy.
This Saturday's iDay 2003 will also feature a guest speaker: Joe Lambert, cofounder of the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, CA. Lambert will speak on the power of digital storytelling and on the capabilities that the Mac and iLife software bring to storytellers.
iDay 2003 is an eight-hour seminar devoted to iLife as well as Adobe Photoshop, Apple's Final Cut Pro and Express, and DVD Studio Pro. The seminar's focus is on helping Mac users of all levels master today's digital media tools. Registration is $99; a half-off discount to user group members is also available.
For information and to register, visit www.iday2003.com or call (707) 895-2552. See you this Saturday!
iDay 2003 Los Angeles a Hit; Palo Alto is Next!
Our first iDay 2003 seminar took place last Saturday and was a resounding success. Here's a sampling of what our attendees had to say:
"The whole program was fantastic—great speakers—learned
iDay 2003 is eight hours of tip-packed information on iLife, iPod, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Express, Mac OS X, and much, much more.
Next up: Palo Alto, February 8. And if you're a Mac user group member, you can register for half price; details here (search for iDay on this page).
See you in Palo Alto!
Join Me at iDay 2003 Los Angeles and Palo Alto
I'm back from what was a fabulous Macworld Expo. I spoke to hundreds of people about the new iLife programs (which I've been working with for some time now) and also demonstrated the programs on TechTV's "The Screen Savers" show.
If you haven't yet visited the iDay 2003 site, check it out! iDay 2003 is a series of fun, informative one-day seminars devoted to the digital hub: iTunes, iPod, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD. Joining me on-stage will be Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Harry Marks and veteran Mac trainer Steve Broback.
More tips than your brain can handle. Hundreds of your fellow Mac lovers. A free copy of Portraits & Prints (a great photo-printing utility) for every attendee. Prizes from HP, Roxio, El Gato, Sonic Desktop Software, and Griffin Technologies.
We've got two scheduled so far: Saturday, January 25, Los Angeles Convention Center. Saturday, February 8, Hyatt Rickeys Palo Alto.
$99, including continental breakfast, snack breaks, handouts, and the full version of Portraits & Prints. Such a deal! See you there.
Get a Preview of iLife and Learn About iDay 2003!
At today's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO and cofounder Steve Jobs announced iLife, a software suite comprising iTunes 3, iPhoto 2, iMovie 3, and iDVD 3.
I've been working with the new versions for some time, preparing the upcoming second edition of my book/DVD, now renamed The Macintosh iLife. I've had the pleasure of watching the new versions come together, and the privilege of being able to make a suggestion or two.
To provide a sneak preview of iLife and the new book, Peachpit Press has published a gorgeous, 16-page color booklet containing excerpts from the new book and additional commentary from yours truly. Learn about iPhoto's new image-enhancement and retouching features and its new library-management features. Check out iMovie's cool new Ken Burns effect and enhanced audio controls. Learn about iDVD's new menu themes and chapter support. And see the media browsers that tie these programs together as never before. (At left: the iPhoto browser in iMovie 3. Controls for the new Ken Burns Effect, which lets you pan and zoom photos, appear above the browser.)
If you're attending the Macworld Expo, get your own copy of The Macintosh iLife preview by visiting the Peachpit Press booth. If you aren't in town—or if Peachpit has run out of copies—you can get an electronic PDF version by going to the iDay 2003 Web site.
iDay 2003 is a series of fun, informative one-day seminars devoted to the digital hub, iLife, Mac OS X, and related products. Check out the site, then sign up! With all the interest in iLife, we're anticipating a seating shortage.
Meet Me in San Francisco! My Macworld Expo Schedule
Happy New Year! Well, I survived my November travels, but December's schedule just about killed me. It may have been busiest month I've ever had. I've been up to some exciting things, which will be revealed in good time.
Speaking of a good time, the Macworld Expo is upon us, and I'll be there. Here's my Expo speaking schedule—stop by, say hello, and bring your digital hub questions!
Tuesday, January 7, 4:00 pm—Interview, TechTV's "The Screen Savers".
Wednesday, January 8, 11:00 am—User Conference Session: From Music to Movies: Secrets of the Macintosh Digital Hub
Wednesday, January 8, 2:00 pm—Digital Hub book signing and Q&A: Peachpit Press booth.
Thursday, January 9, 2:00 pm—iApplications panel. Peachpit Press booth.
Friday, January 10, 11:00 am—MacBeginnings session (free to all Expo attendees): The Digital Hub for Everyone!
Odds and Ends: Apple News Story, and More
November has been a month on the road for me. Last week, I was in Maui, teaching the digital hub applications and Final Cut Pro. (And taking one day off for a spectacular hike.) Tomorrow, I leave for Boston and the Web Design World conference, which I help to produce.
But before I hand over my boarding pass and photo ID, a couple of tidbits.
Apple site features my book/DVD. Writer Nancy Eaton has penned an article for Apple's Hot News site on my book/DVD. Read more about it, and remember, you can buy this first-of-its-kind book from Amazon.com for $20.99.
iDay 2003 planning continues. We at Avondale Media are still hard at work planning our iDay 2003 series of digital hub seminars, which begin in January in Los Angeles. We've got a fantastic array of sessions and speakers lined up, not to mention prize giveaways throughout each day. A full day of tips and tricks for all of the Mac's digital hub programs, a look at the latest Macworld Expo developments, and a chance to win all manner of digital goodies—for $99. To get more information when our brochure is available, just scroll down the page a bit and enter your email address.
And with that, it's time for airline food.
The Case of the Missing iPhoto Sharing Buttons
For some people, iPhoto doesn't like to share. For mysterious reasons, several of iPhoto's sharing buttons—Order Prints, Order Book, and HomePage—don't appear on some systems. I've seen reports of this on the always-terrific Macintouch site and on Apple's iPhoto discussion boards.
Last night, it happened to me.
After moving my main iPhoto library to my PowerBook G4, the copy of iPhoto on the PowerBook wasn't displaying the aforementioned sharing buttons. I thought about trying one of the fixes I've seen mentioned: turning off file sharing. The problem was, file sharing wasn't on to begin with.Other users have recommended more-complex techniques.
What to do? Give up! At least temporarily—I decided to postpone troubleshooting the sharing problem because I had one other task I wanted to perform: patching iPhoto with Simon Jacquier's wonderful iPhoto Mailer Patcher so that I could email photos using Microsoft Entourage rather than Mac OS X's Mail program. I quit iPhoto and ran iPhoto Mailer Patcher.
And what do you know? Upon starting iPhoto again, my sharing buttons were restored.
If anyone has technical insights into why iPhoto sometimes refuses to share, please share them with me. In the meantime, iPhoto Mailer Patcher seems to be an unlikely but potentially useful tool for fixing this problem.
SuperDrive Firmware Update Available—At Least for iMacs
If you have a 15-inch, flat-panel iMac containing a SuperDrive, you have some software to download.
Apple today delivered a firmware update that addresses the potentially disasterous incompatibility between some SuperDrives and high-speed blank DVD media. (For more details, see my SuperDrive coverage page and this page on Apple's site.)
Many older Power Mac G4 computers also contain SuperDrives affected by this problem, but Apple hasn't yet delivered an update for these Macs. The new update works with 15-inch flat panel iMacs only. And it runs only on Mac OS X.
When will updaters appear for other SuperDrive-equipped Macs or for Mac OS 9? Stay tuned, Apple says. And continue to avoid the new high-speed media.
Listen to Me on Digital Village Radio
On Saturday, October 19, I was a guest on Digital Village, a radio show produced by KPFK in Los Angeles. Hosts Ric Allan and Doran Barons interviewed me about the digital hub and much more.
Announcing "iDay 2003," a series of full-day digital hub seminars. During the radio show, I announced iDay 2003: a series of digital hub seminars that we at Avondale Media are producing next year.
Yes, The Macintosh Digital Hub goes live! Mark your iCalendar: Los Angeles, January 25 and San Francisco, February 8 (more cities to come).
iDay 2003: a full day of learning, discovery, and fun—not to mention discounts and prize drawings for digital hub products throughout the day. I hope to see you there!
4x DVD Burning: Is Faster Better?
Here come faster SuperDrives. Pioneer Electronics today announced its DVR-A05 DVD burner, which supports 4x burning to DVD-R blanks and 2x burning to DVD-RW media. (Download PDF brochure.) It's a safe bet that Apple will use these drives, which will be available in November, in a future Mac model.
But is faster better? Not necessarily. Many DVD-authoring gurus recommend burning at slow speeds for improved compatibility with living-room DVD players. It seems that slower burning speeds result in fewer data errors, and that makes it easier for many consumer DVD players to play back DVD-R discs.
iDVD doesn't enable you to specify a burning speed, but Roxio's Toast 5 Titanium does. When I'm creating a DVD that I plan to send to someone who will be using a consumer DVD player, I use Toast to burn the DVD at 1x speed.
Because faster isn't always better.
iPod Software 1.2.1: Good to Go
One of the things that makes Apple's iPod portable music player so versatile is that Apple can add new features by releasing iPod software updates. Download an iPod update, install it, and your iPod instantly gains new features.
Since the iPod debuted, Apple has released two major updates to the iPod's internal software. Version 1.1 turned the iPod into an address book that can store contacts and other notes (see the "iPod as Address Book and More" section of The Macintosh Digital Hub book).
This summer, Apple released iPod software 1.2, which gives the iPod calendar, clock, and alarm features, support for the new features in iTunes 3, and some tweaks to the iPod's menu screens.
There's just one problem: on Apple's iPod discussion boards and elsewhere, many people have been complaining that version 1.2 of the iPod software causes their iPod's battery to drain quickly. Some people have even "downgraded" their iPod software back to version 1.1 in order to get their battery life back to normal. (Apple no longer provides older versions of the iPod's software, but you can download them on this site.)
I'll admit that all of these horror stories had an effect on me: fearing battery problems, I didn't upgrade my original, 5GB iPod. Sacrifice battery life for a calendar and alarm clock? No, thank you.
Was the iPod 1.2 software causing the iPod's battery to drain more quickly? According to iPod product manager Stan Ng, no. When I spoke with him a few weeks ago, however, he said that Apple was investigating the possibility that version 1.2 did not accurately display how much charge was left in the iPod's battery. In other words, version 1.2 wasn't draining the battery faster—it just wasn't keeping accurate track of the battery's charge.
Last month, Apple released version 1.2.1 of the iPod software. Apple didn't explicitly say that 1.2.1 fixed a battery-charge problem. The 1.2.1 download page simply says "iPod Software 1.2.1 fixes a problem with the battery icon. It now correctly indicates a full charge."
That was good enough for me. I rolled the dice and upgraded my original, 5GB iPod to version 1.2.1. I've been testing it for about a week now, and my verdict: it's good to go. With a full battery charge, my iPod plays for more than 10 continuous hours. I recommend the 1.2.1 software without hesitation.
But not everyone seems happy. Some users are still performing workarounds to get more battery life on iPods running 1.2.1. On the Macintouch Web site, one user says that turning off the iPod's sleep timer has improved his battery life. I don't see how that would make a difference.
If your iPod battery doesn't seem to be delivering the juice, try this: recharge the iPod overnight. Then, navigate to the Songs menu and begin playing your entire music library. Let the iPod play and play and play—you should see about 10 hours of playback time.
Remember, the iPod is always on, even when it's sleeping. That's what enables it to instantly swing into action when you press a button. So don't be surprised to see the battery drain over time, even when you aren't playing music all the time.
Apple has also posted some tips for getting more life out of an iPod's battery.
Having battery problems with version 1.2.1? Write to me with the details.
It's been well over a week since I've added anything to this site. It's been a horrible week. After 13 happy years, we had to say goodbye to our dear dog Trixie (who appears throughout the book and the DVD). I subsequently got sick and have been playing catch-up ever since.
I have some interesting things in the works for this site, including a report on the iPod 1.2.1 update and a comparison of iPod utilities. I'll be posting these items in the coming days.
In the meantime, I've consolidated all the information on the overheating SuperDrive saga, and put it on a new SuperDrive page along with some links and additional information about Apple's DVD burners.
The Overheating SuperDrive Saga: Apple's Response
This information has moved to the SuperDrive page.
A Sneak Peek at Toast 5.2 Titanium
Roxio's Toast Titanium has always been the premiere software for burning CDs and DVDs on the Mac. The best is about to get better. Roxio is going to ship a free update—version 5.2—probably next week, but maybe as early as tomorrow.
I spoke with Toast product manager Adam Fingerman today, and learned that Toast 5.2 brings some interesting new features and improvements to the burning bash.
Toast 5.2 brings a first to Mac OS X by adding support for CD-Text. CD-Text is an extension to the audio CD specification that enables an audio CD to store album, track, and artist information—something audio CDs normally don't do. Many car CD players and high-end CD players provide displays that can show this information as a CD plays back.
The new version of Toast will enable you to work with CD-Text in a couple of ways. If you're simply copying an audio CD, Toast 5.2 will retrieve the artist, track, and album information from Gracenote and then add this information to the copy that you're making—simply click the new CD-Text checkbox, and it all happens automatically, behind the scenes.
Alternatively, you can manually edit each track's ID3 tags to customize the CD-Text that will be burned on to the disc.
Improved Video CD Encoding
I talk about Video CDs extensively in The Macintosh Digital Hub book—they're a nice way for people who don't have DVD burners to create video discs that play in most DVD players. On a Video CD, video is encoded in MPEG-1 format, providing picture quality roughly comparable to that of VHS videotape.
According to Roxio, Toast 5.2 Titanium provides higher-quality encoding, with better color fidelity. Roxio also says encoding performance is faster than in earlier Toast versions: about 20 percent faster on single-processor Macs, and twice as fast on dual-processor Macs.
Yamaha recently delivered a CD burner, the CRW-F1, that can tattoo your discs—it uses the burner's laser to burn text and graphics onto the data side of the disc. A disc's data is written from the inner area of the CD to the outer area. If you haven't filled the entire disc, you can burn text and graphics in the usused portion. (For more details, see Yamaha's site.) Yamaha calls this feature DiscT@2—a trying-to-be-cool way of spelling disc tattoo.
Toast 5.2 will include an updated version of Magic Mouse Discus, the label-design program that Roxio has been bundling with Toast Titanium for some time. The new version will enable you to create designs that can be tattooed onto discs using Yamaha burners.
For some users, the best news will be that Toast 5.2 is fully compatible with Mac OS X version 10.2.x. The current version of Toast, 5.1.4, misbehaves on some systems running 10.2.x. Roxio says the new version is fully compatible with 10.2.
The Toast Titanium 5.2 update will be a free upgrade for Toast 5 Titanium users, and will be available for the downloading from Roxio's Web site. The Mac world's best burning software lists for $99.95, but Amazon is selling it for $76.99.
Major Innovation in iTunes 3.0.1
Last week, Apple delivered iTunes 3.0.1, a minor update. Apple is vague about what the new version brings to the MP3 party, saying only that it "includes a number of performance enhancements and provides improved support for Mac OS X v10.2."
Well, there is at least one visible change in iTunes 3.0.1, and it's a small but significant one. When you do a search in iTunes 3.0.1, a small, clickable x appears at the right edge of the search box (see the adjacent screen shot). If you click the x, iTunes clears the contents of the search box. In previous iTunes versions (including 3.0), clearing the search box was a two-step process: you had to select the text and then press your keyboard's Delete key.
Okay, so maybe this isn't a major innovation. But it's a welcome time-saver.
Find any other new goodies in iTunes 3.0.1? Share them!
Overheating SuperDrives: More Details
This information has moved to the SuperDrive page.
This information has moved to the SuperDrive page.
Books on Bytes: Some Useful Links for Audible.com Content
One of the enhancements in iTunes 3 and iPod software 1.2 are their support for spoken-word content from Audible.com. Think of Audible's offerings as books on bytes: you can buy and download spoken-word content ranging from complete books to newspaper and magazine articles to National Public Radio broadcasts.
But working with Audible's offerings isn't quite as straightforward as ripping and mixing MP3 files. Audible's content is copy-protected, and that introduces a few wrinkles that can trip you up.
To help you keep your footing, here are some useful links for working with Audible's audio. If you're new to Audible, start with the first link and work your way down.
iTunes 3 and Audiobooks—An introduction from Apple's site.
What You Need to Listen—From Audible's Web site.
How to Add Spoken Word Content to Your iTunes Library—An Apple technical support document.
iTunes 3: About Using Audible Spoken Word Files—How iTunes 3 works with Audible files. Also from Apple's tech support Knowledge Base.
iPod 1.2: About Using Audible Spoken Word Files—How iPod Software 1.2 works with Audible files. Also from Apple's tech support Knowledge Base.
And what about your favorite radio talk show hosts or Internet radio shows? You can rip them, too. Just check out the iTunes section of The Macintosh Digital Hub book for complete instructions on how to record Internet streaming audio on your hard drive and then add it to your iTunes music library.