Saturday, February 20, 2010

Converting Audio Cassette Tapes

I have been spending time converting some old audio cassettes these last few months. It takes a long time, but I’m discovering some old music that I didn’t even know I had. Some of it, I can’t believe I ever bought. My basic reasoning is that I’ve spent a lot of money on music in my lifetime and a lot of that was on audio cassette. Just like ditching some of my old CD’s after digitizing into iTunes, I decided it was time to dig into the cassette box and start doing the same thing. I don’t even have a cassette player in my apartment, but I do have one in my car still. I have decided to keep a little more than a dozen. Big albums from my youth that I felt like keeping. Like Van Halen’s 1984. I have that on CD now, but I wanted the cassette. That was the first cassette I bought with my own money and I bought it the same day with Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil. Man, I remember playing them on my stereo and walkman and being extremely excited that day. Anyway, I decided to keep a few of them. I’m thinking putting them in a box or something to display. Like , look kiddies, grandpa used to listen to these and didn’t have an iPod growing up. That kind of thing.

Anyway, the process is kind of time consuming, but fun. The recordings into iTunes could be better, but they work. I mean these are songs that I don’t feel like purchasing in iTunes, but would like the option of keeping the music in my library of tunes.

I’m using CD Spin Doctor, which is a Roxio product. I’ve got my parent’s old stereo cassette deck which they weren’t using. I hooked that up to my trusty iMac and recording into CD Spin Doctor through the line in port on the Mac. Then after importing into CD Spin Doctor, I can adjust the track lengths and add track names. I add some De-Hisser to get rid of most of the cassette tape hiss and pops. After that, I can easily send it to iTunes and encode it as AAC files. Brilliant! I find the quality acceptable. It doesn’t sound as good as an iTunes download or a CD rip, but it’s acceptable. I did try a few experiments and for 2 or 3 recordings I adjusted the stereo configuration and added filters in Final Cut Express, but ultimately, it didn’t sound that great either. 

In the end, I’m just happy to listen to some of this music which I haven’t heard in ages and some of it isn’t available in iTunes. Like Mike + the Mechanics Living Years record. A bonus, is recycling these tapes at my recycling center and getting rid of some clutter. Always nice to do that. 

I’m off to do some more. Next up is MC Hammer’s classic Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

i love you apple - but what should I do?

I really would like a new computer. I am the proud owner of a G5 Power PC iMac and I have absolutely loved it over the last several years. I bought it in 2004 pre-iSight integration. It’s been great. But the machine is getting older. It’s having issues. I had the repair from Apple a few years ago that fixed the constant automatic power downs. In the last few days though, I’ve noticed it again - not constant, just every now and again when I’m not using the computer - it’s just sleeping, and fear after reading some posts online that the same issue is starting to resurface. It’s also a lot slower than it used to be and can’t take advantage of some of the new software that is out there for the Intel based Macs. I’m using all this as a good excuse to start looking at a new computer. I considered it last year, but I felt I couldn’t really afford it. Now I believe that I just need to invest in it. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this one, but Apple has lots of new toys to choose from nowadays and what to do? I love Apple products and I guess I’m a fanboy now. I gave my parents my old G3 iMac a few years ago and that baby is still ticking. I bought that one in 2000. My first new computer. As you can see, I won’t consider any other type of computer. I'm not buying a PC or a scrawny little netbook at this point.

But do I go iMac again?? Those nice shiny 27 inch iMacs look amazing! I would love one. I keep asking myself, do I need the power of that quad core iMac or is a stock model good enough for me? I always like more power. Not sure if I really use it. I do like working on graphics and video, but haven’t in awhile. Is it because my G5 iMac not working well and it takes way too long, or is just me not taking the time to do it? Ugh! Decisions.

I’ve also found myself using computers on the go a lot more. My work computer is exclusively a laptop (PC though - Ugh!) and I want to consider a laptop as my primary machine at home, but not sure if I’ll miss the desktop experience. Not sure what that even is but will I miss a larger screen? Something tells me if I plunk down some serious coin for a nice shiny new Macbook Pro, I don’t think I’d spend money right away on a nice external Apple Cinema Display. Ooooh, that would be nice though.

Plus, now that Apple has the shiny new iPad out there, maybe that could serve as my inexpensive portable computer? I mean I really want one of those babies, but do I really want a laptop and an iPad? I know that my overlord of technology that I love is Steve Jobs and he says that this is a new device category that I need, but I’m trying to think of why I’d lug around an iPad and a laptop on a vacation or just on an airplane. I was impressed with the iPad presentation and think it would fit in well with my life and my line of iPods and iPhone. I do a lot with my iPhone that I never thought I would so maybe the iPad would satisfy that laptop experience?? Plus, it looks all cool and Star Trek like.

Once I get the new computer I’m going to upgrade my Airport too. I feel a new computer deserves a newer wireless router too. Maybe not right away, but maybe soon. Or maybe right away. Man, it’s not like i have a few thousand sitting around, but I do really want this stuff. I guess I don’t buy new computer equipment or computers often enough. Maybe I'm just a gadget freak and haven't gotten enough new gadgets to play with. The glow of the iPhone 3GS only lasts so long.

I’m really perplexed. Any suggestions? I know in my heart that I can’t get an iMac, an iPad and a Macbook Pro, so don’t even offer that as a suggestion. I’ve definitely considered it (I crunched some numbers) and that’s too much money for me at this time to even think about spending. How about suggestions for re-purposing my G5 iMac. Should I strip it down and use it for something else? Or is it time to donate it to some organization that is more interested in fixing these power supply and hardware concerns? Computers feel like big purchases to me and they always make me nervous. But I always love it when I get them.

My parents could really use a new computer too. That G3 iMac is managing a ton of iPods and some other portable media devices that aren’t as good. They need something new to Skype or iChat with too. I think laptop is the way to go for them. I’m just trying to decide if I get them a standard Macbook or a Macbook Pro. I mean, when I’m back home I will use it, so it might as well be something I like too. I’ve also thought about not spending as much money on them and getting them a simple netbook PC computer. GASP! I know, but I wouldn’t be using it as much. But I like the Mac idea since they are already using iTunes on a Mac and an upgrade of that process would be nice for my nieces too. My sister got an iPod shuffle for Christmas and the thing wouldn’t even mount on the G3. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic machine still. Just slow at stuff and really showing its age. 10 years for a $1,000 computer though is really good I think.

OK, thanks for reading, if you have any suggestions, please email or leave me a comment on the blog. I will continue torturing myself with ideas until I just break down and buy something. Maybe wait for the next product cycle though......we’ll see.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

2Do List App for iPhone - Love it!

I love my iPhone, but as a task manager it sucks. I can add To Do’s in iCal on my Mac, and then I can awkwardly sync them in MobileMe, which then allows me to see them on my iPhone. UGH! It’s a sucky workflow and I hated it. It made me not use my iPhone to actually track any to do’s which I thought was a silly waste of my iPhone’s power. I mean I can watch The Matrix on it, but I can’t have it remind me go get milk?!?! I was looking for a cool app to help me with that. I love the iPhone apps. they are usually great. or just silly, but always fun. I took a look at a lot of To Do lists apps, but a lot of them wanted me to just use their website or their interface only on the phone. I was really looking for something that allowed me to use the simple iCal interface and not have to use MobileMe to make a duplicate of it. I looked around for some ideas and found a great list of apps on Macworld’s website. I checked them out. Some were expensive, but there were at least 4 or 5 that would do what I wanted. I took the recommendation from Macworld and decided to try 2Do List. There was a free trial which allowed me to check out the interface and use it a little. I tried to get it to sync with iCal and then I realized they don’t let you do that in the free version. Makes sense I guess. It’s a big feature as far as I was concerned. So after playing with the free version for a few days, I decided to buy the full version. It was only $6.99. I really like it. It syncs with iCal over WiFi. This makes it nice, since I can sync my To Do’s at home without having to sync my iPhone. I really only sync my iPhone once every week or 2, so I like the feature of syncing over WiFi. I can do this in the morning or at night and stay really up to date. I find that being able to review my to do list every day on phone makes me a little more accountable and I like being able to see what I’m working on. It also has a fun little scribble out motion when that makes me think of making a paper list and checking it off. Very satisfying and not a waste of paper. I also like that it saves all my info in the app and syncs to iCal even when the tasks are completed. It also has a fun little feature of making things into a project and not just a to do. I’m just starting to play with that. This isn’t supported in iCal, but it will generate into a list in iCal. All the notes on each to do are always saved in iCal too which is really beneficial for reviewing later.

All in all, I really enjoy the app and encourage you to take a look if you’re looking for similar iCal syncing and simple features like I was.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

lack of ambition?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted to this blog. I’ve been wondering what the reason for that is. Is it simply a lack of time? Or is it a lack of ambition? I’m not sure. The dictionary definition of ambition is “an ardent desire for rank, fame or power” or “desire to achieve a particular end”. I think this is somewhat true. I’m not sure I desire fame and power, but I do need to feel worthy and I have goals in life to work toward. Why do I not constantly work toward my goals?

I do know that I don’t seem to have as much time for myself as I did a few years ago. I started this blog as a way to get some new content to our indenation website. It was easier than constantly writing code and lots of people are writing blogs now, so why not me. Jon and I haven’t done too much with the site since “special night” ended its run, so we’re calling it a day with that project. I started doing some archiving of a lot of that site content recently and I was fondly recalling those projects. They aren’t the greatest gems of cinema, but I do remember that I really enjoyed doing them. I’m also really proud of them for what they were at that time for me. I’ve never felt like I knew what I was doing, but maybe that’s what it’s all about. Never really knowing how to do anything and working toward something. Maybe life is just that in general.

Regardless of what it all means, I know that I’m going to try to do some writing this year. Last year was a hard year personally and I didn’t do any writing or video work at all. I posted some blog posts, but I never really sat down and did much beyond that. But at least I did that. I think my goals are smaller than they may have been in the past, which is why I’m feeling like I have a lack of ambition, but at least there are some goals to work toward. I really wish I was a rich and famous filmmaker but I’m not. I don’t deserve to be either because I haven’t put the work into that. I have a great job at the Walt Disney Company and I’m very grateful for it. I enjoy working there and I love my work. It’s surprising to me really when I think about it. I never thought I’d end up doing what I’m doing, but I love it. BUT, I also enjoy writing, film/video and website stuff too. I’m not sure I’ll ever regain the ambition of my 20’s and maybe I never really had as much as I thought. Deep down the one thing I haven’t lost is a dream. A dream of one day writing and making a movie and being able to see it in a theater. If I can do that before I die, then I’ll be a happy camper. But at the very least, I want to keep trying to do it.

I guess what this all means for this blog, is not too much. I still plan on writing in it and hopefully more posts will happen this year. I have a list of ideas that I’d like to write about and I will try to make time to make that happen. A little bit at a time. What this means for my filmmaking and writing endeavors, I’m not sure. I know that I want to try to write a sci-fi story that I have in my head, so I’ll try to make some time to start on that. I’ve never tried one and I love that genre of film/TV shows. Beyond that who knows? I have a couple of short video ideas, that I never finished from the last couple of years. Maybe I’ll work on some of that. I want to keep my website going. I want to do more projects and am especially interested in writing right now. I guess it’s just important to keep some level of ambition. I know I can’t be gung-ho in all areas of my life at the same time and I have a lot going on. But taking a few minutes a day for me to write and work on things I love is important to do.

As far as no clue production news, I guess this blog is it right now. Thanks for reading my blah blah blah & general ramblings. I’ve added new twitter and facebook widgets to my blog to help you stay up to date on even more of them. Hopefully more are on the way soon.