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The Meowing

Here for your enjoyment (or not) is the sound of a lonely kitten meowing.

It was recorded with a Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder.

You are free to use the file under the Creative Commons Attribution License. You can find it at Ourmedia.org or Archive.org, or download it directly.

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FireWire Audio Headache

February is the month of the RPM Challenge. You know, record an album in a month… I’ve done it before, and was going to do it again, and to do it, I use a Behringer FCA202 FireWire audio interface.

Of course I also decided to upgrade to Snow Leopard this month, and for some odd reason, that rendered the FCA202 useless. It just wouldn’t show up anymore in the System Preferences as an audio input/output device. It did show up as a FireWire device though, so that was odd.

I ended up trying to replace the AppleFWAudio.kext kernel extension, zapped the PRAM, deleted cache files, removed audio units, different cables, using the power supply, tried logging in as another user, and on and on… I rebooted from my 10.5.8 backup and it showed up, so it must have been something specific to 10.6. I tried it on my MacBook Pro (10.6) and… it didn’t show up! Ugh, over to the Mac mini (10.6) and it showed up fine. I gave up for the night, convinced it was a 10.6 issue. The next day I tried it on a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro (both 10.6) and it worked, and then tried again on my MacBook Pro and it worked… so now it seemed that it was just the iMac I normally use to record to that wasn’t working. (I blame the “not working” on my MacBook Pro the night before to being tried/frustrated/bad cabling.)

I was pretty fed up by now, and sick of searching for possible solutions… I did find a post somewhere about the CoreAudio SDK and how it may install/updated the needed audio extensions to fix FireWire audio issues. One problem though, the CoreAudio SDK was last updated in 2005! But, the answer to that one was to install Xcode. I did that and like a little bit of magic, it worked.

System Preferences - Sound

So now I should be back in business, with the Behringer FCA202 showing up and selectable as an audio input/output device.

I wanted to blame Behringer for this weirdness, but honestly, it was something weird with my own Mac. I’m still not sure what it was, but I really should consider doing a clean install next time. My system has probably built up way too much cruft over the years.

Oh, and just a note… I’m not convinced this is the end of the issue. I left the Mac up and running last night, and this morning the Behringer disappeared again. But I’ve read that is can happen, and a quick unplug/replug of the unit fixes it. So… as long as that doesn’t happen while I’m recording, I may be ok. (This problem I’m more tempted to blame on Behringer…)

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iPod Review – One Year Later

I’ve had an iPod for just over a year now, so I thought I would make a few notes on it. I know the iPod is a beloved product, and the music player in some people’s minds, but it, like any other product (by Apple or otherwise) could use some improvements…

I have the 5th generation 30GB iPod with video. It was given to me by the lovely Dana. Before the iPod I was using a Rio 500, and an iRiver IPF-180T.

I had one annoying issue with syncing my iPod, but other than that, it’s been pretty much problem-free.

Now, in comparison, the Rio 500 still beats the iPod for bookmarking. The Rio has a button that will set a bookmark in any MP3 file. No so with the iPod. It does not support bookmarking of any audio file. This is annoying, especially as it was a feature I used daily, and had to give up on when I moved to the iPod.

The iPod does remember what is playing when you turn it off and continues from there (of course my cassette player did this in 1975 as well) but this fails when you plug your iPod into your computer! So if I’m half way through a podcast, and then want to charge or sync my iPod, it forgets where I was after ejecting, and I’m back at the home screen, and damned if I can remember what I was listening to. Sucks…

The iPod interface is simple, but I know at least one other person who has one that occasionally will not turn off, and has said “Couldn’t they just put a damn ON/OFF button on it?” Sometimes mine won’t turn off, so I just put it in my bag and hope it turns off automatically after a few minutes.

The iPod interface also requires you to look, or at least be able to feel around and guess where to push. Other players (with actual buttons) allow you to memorize where the buttons are and what they do. I could operate my Rio while driving and never take my eyes off the road. This seems to be a big concern with the iPhone as well, it will require visual attention to be able to use it.

The Rio kicks the iPod to the curb in regards to bookmarking, but that’s about it. As for the iRiver, the one I have is a cheap, low-end model, and the interface is horrible. The advantages it has is that it can record using a built-in microphone (I wish mine had an audio input though) and has an FM tuner. You can also combine these and record live from the radio. I guess it also plays WMA files, but I don’t have any of those. I mainly use it as a cheap, portable recording device, even though the quality is fairly poor in noisy situations. (I did use it to record myself snoring once.)

In summary, I do love the iPod, but it’s not the ultimate player. It could use some improvements. I’m not sure Apple will ever improve it to my satisfaction, but I thought it was worth critiquing.

(This post just talks about the iPod as an audio player. I plan to follow-up with it’s use as a video player as well.)




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Songbird 0.2 Developer Preview

I finally got around to testing out Songbird

Songbird 0.2 Developer Preview

First impressions? It’s cool. It’s usable. It’s still in development, but I love the concept. It even says “Now with video hack!” which you can see the results of in the image above, where I visited my videoblog at tinkernet.org.

Songbird (the application, and the idea behind it) is cool. I see potential for this thing. As Apple & iTunes seem to take away our rights with each new release, I see Songbird opening things up more and more with each release. When it comes to consuming media, that’s what I’m all about.






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Trigger-Bloggers

Are you one of those trigger-bloggers? You know, you see something on some web site you think is wrong, or you just don’t like, and you post! post! post! as fast as you can, pointing out the errors of someone else’s way…

The latest I’ve seen is the bit about the podsafe music network and the crazy licensing terms brought up by Boing Boing. Now, Adam Curry responded about the changes they made, and this is good, he says:

This is a great example of how the web works; it started with a post on Boing Boing and was followed by a host of pile-jumpers. Although a personal email would have been preferred, it certainly got my attention.

All good, yes indeed, this is how it should work. I think the problem between public finger-pointing via weblogs and private-griping via email is that you leverage the power of the people when you create a post that others can read and point to and amplify. I’ll write up and send an email because I still have my own feedback on the terms, but there’s a chance it will fall into a black hole and I will never get a response.

Now, I’m not saying we don’t need trigger-bloggers, it helps to keep us all honest and on the level with each other, but weigh the options. Sure, everyone wants an email first but everyone also enjoys a good show…

Most importantly, if you do pull the trigger on someone, and they change their ways because of it, please mention the enlightenment you bestowed upon them and the resulting good times that followed. As of my writing this, I still await the post on Boing Boing mentioning the changes PodShow made.