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ATPM 13.02
February 2007


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Audio Hijack Pro 2.7

Too bad that you just hit below the hardware threshold for recording on Audio Hijack Pro. If your hardware is only two generations old instead of three, there’s no downside. I have a 1 GHz iBook G4 that it records just fine with. And it should be just fine on any hardware sold in the last three years, if you have enough RAM.

Audio Hijack doesn’t do MP3s but iTunes does. It’s very easy to record to AIFF, drop the file into iTunes, and select Convert to MP3 in the Advanced menu. (If you’re running Tiger you can even create an Automator action for this.) Discard the AIFF to save space. It may be just a bit awkward, but it works for budget recording. I did that for a year before I finally ponied up the upgrade fee for the Pro edition.

Before they podcasted Science Friday, I grabbed the show every week. I still use it for New Dimensions online broadcasts, which happen at 10 PM Sunday night in Seattle. I listen to a lot of podcasts or time-shifted Internet broadcasts during my commute.

I’m glad I upgraded, though. There’s a lot of functionality in Audio Hijack Pro for not a lot of cost. I’ve recorded with it too, both my own podcasts and presentations for our local MUG, though I normally use GarageBand for that.


• • •

I’ve been using Audio Hijack Pro for about a year now to record my favorite radio shows—Car Talk, Thistle and Shamrock, Hearts of Space, etc.—and I’ve found it to be relatively trouble free. I am currently running a shiny new 20″ Intel iMac, but I was running a 1 GHz iMac G4 previously without problem. The only glitch I have with the new iMac is that it doesn’t automatically drop my recordings into iTunes unless iTunes is already open.

—Larry Snyder

• • •

I have used Audio Hijack Pro for recording vinyl on my 700 MHz iBook G3. No problems with skipping at all; the only trouble I had was with the auto-split on silence function. There’s too much noise on my old records for it to function properly, and this can hardly be blamed to Audio Hijack Pro. I think it is a very good piece of software.

—Ronald Lamars

iTalk Pro

I found your article helpful. I also find it problematic that iTalk Pro reverts to automatic every time it is unplugged. I also find the fluctuations in level in automatic mode a major problem for music recording. In addition I get a “clipping” sound in automatic mode that makes the recordings useless. In high mode I get a lot of distortion, but in low mode it seems OK. I’m using a Sony ECM-MS907 stereo mic with the iTalk Pro and an 80 GB iPod video. The Sony mic worked well with my MD recorder. I am wondering where I can find specs to match a mic with the recording capability of the iPod and the iTalk Pro. The mic I am using now does not seem to be a good match, or is it the iTalk Pro that is the culprit? I’m considering trying the Belkin or ExtremeMac product. Do you have any ideas for matching a mic for music recording with the iTalk Pro or the other devices?

—Peter McEachern

Using an external mic is tricky, but not impossible. The thing to remember about the jack on the bottom of the iTalk Pro is that it’s a line-level input. Microphones are generally a mic-level input, which are much lower voltage than line level. If you visit an audio shop that carries such mics, you can tell them you have a device with a 3.5mm stereo line-level input and you’re wishing to check out microphones that can plug into this, and see what they offer.

—Lee Bennett

The basic issue here is whether the microphone outputs a high voltage level or low voltage level. Many, though certainly not all, mics with 3.5 mm jacks are high output, appropriate for use into a line level input such as the iTalk Pro’s. Microphones with 1/4″ phono or XLR style connectors are almost always mic-level and require a mic-preamp to boost the signal to line level. They may also require “phantom” power which provides a power source for the mic along the actual audio cable. This is why you should not just slap an adapter on the end of a mic with the wrong size connector, and then plug it into the iTalk. Nothing bad will happen, but you will not get enough gain, and the resulting recording will be inaudible. My advice if you are unclear on all of this is to call up a place like Sweetwater Sound or a similar supplier and ask them for help.

—Evan Trent

Photoshop for the Curious

I just stumbled across this article (via the first one) looking for Photoshop related items.

Not knowing a thing about Photoshop, and just sort of teaching myself by stumbling around the buttons a bit, was probably not the best idea!

But thanks for these articles—I’ll be back to check if there are any more in the future.

It’s much appreciated, at least by me.


Glad you liked what you saw. Presently, this series is planned as a monthly series with no specific end…just as long as I can keep coming up with topics to cover, and I have plenty to keep it going for at least this year. Feel free to hit the subscribe link for notifications of each monthly issue, or to have the issue delivered as an e-mail attachment. You can also use the RSS feed for new issue notifications.

—Lee Bennett

Outliner Writing Environments

I’m discovering your new word processing review project late, the first day of 2007, but I want to express my appreciation for the project: much needed for someone to go into the matter with the degree of thoroughness (and length) that you have brought to outliners.

Like many others I’ve bought perhaps dozens of outliner/information manager applications, and (since they tend to be more expensive) maybe a score of word processor apps, all looking for that perfect one for me. Sadly, I came closest in that search with things that died with OS 9 or even earlier. Some of these had terrific features I haven’t seen since.

Since your coverage has included some apps that aren’t mainly outliners but rather information-managers, I will mention briefly some oldies that haven’t been equalled: MailKeeper (from Nisus, OS 9 and before) a simple snippet- or article-keeper with a unique progressive multi-factor search/winnowing feature that was very fast, enabled instantaneous reviewing of information pieces or articles; Papyrus—the old bibliographic reference application, not the current office suite—which had a marvelous system of hierarchical, combinable keywords; three by five, an outliner with several interfaces including a corkboard like the new application Scrivener; and ThoughtPattern, another snippet-keeper which used a good keyword system.

With word processors, I would be very happy to have the advanced features found in the ancient FullWrite or WriteNow. They had more than one kind of marginal notes, outlining, footnotes—before Microsoft Word had such things—and since the demise of these old programs it has taken a very long time for marginalia, footnotes, and outlining to return to independent Mac word processors.

I used the old Nisus Writer until OS X; nothing has compared to it since then, in my opinion, though the most recent version of Nisus Express is doing very well. But will we ever see again features like Nisus’s “Document as Graphic,” which allowed you to insert, as a scalable graphic link, a picture of any page of another document—it could appear big enough to be read, and clicking on it opened the original, so it was better than just having a link to another document, and was a big help in reviewing various articles or pieces of writing, putting them all in one place for your consideration.

After Nisus, I used the Japanese word processor Jedit, which has “bookmarks” (like the old Nisus Writer’s Markers) links that can be viewed in a separate window, making a Table of Contents or a list of-places to check, or high points, whatever; a Search All that shows all the instances found together in a window as clickable links, each with part of the sentence where it appears—in one document or many; rectangular and multi-selection; clean effective interface; the “remember an added tab for subsequent new lines” feature that Nisus Writer used to have”; a help doc in Jedit format, using the sidebar outline/table of contents feature, so you can get help without waiting for Apple Help, or Preview, to open; multiple “Find & Select”—found items are selected as multiple discontinuous ranges at once; all in all it is pretty good for me, lacking only a few important features like marginalia and footnotes.

So, I do think you should include Jedit and Nisus Express in your survey, and (dark horse!) you might also look at the editor in CopyPaste. I think few notice that it even has one, they just use the multiple clipboards. It hides its light under a bushel, being called merely the “Clip Editor.” In CopyPaste, select “CopyPaste X Help” from the Dock menu or the CopyPaste menu, and you will get Help in the form of a complex document in Clip Editor that will demonstrate its capabilities; of the features I look for, it has a sidebar “Navigation frame”/file browser which shows sections and paragraphs; discontinuous multi-selection; accepts graphics and media files; an advanced find that can search for sound-alikes, regard or disregard diacritical marks, and other keen things and also search multiple files, view all results, even collect each paragraph containing the search term from every document searched into one document, making a compilation for you (a feature the old Nisus Writer had in an even more advanced form).

I am eager to see the new series, and thanks for the advance listing of programs, because I found at least one there I had not seen before that looks interesting.

—Cynthia Cheney

Coping With Mac OS X’s Font Rendering

Just bought my first Mac, a MacBook. Have spent whole morning on support trying to explain that the letters are blurry, to no avail.

By the time the highest resolution is on, I can’t read anything in 12pt.

Also, it is all fuzzy. Thanks for helping me not feel like it’s just my 40-something eyes or that I’m losing it.

—Rebecca S.

• • •

I have to say that I’m switching to Ubuntu Linux simply because (and only because) its font rendering is far superior. On a decent LCD, it’s almost as good as reading a printed page.

—Y M

• • •

I’m a new Mac OS X user and, like others here, I’ve been struggling with the fonts. Sometimes I feel like I’m going blind looking at the thing. I did find a setting in my LCD that does make a difference. Not all monitors have this control so your mileage may vary. The control is called “phase,” and tweaking it has gone a long way to sharpening the smaller fonts. In all, however, I’m pretty disappointed with font rendering in this OS. Fonts on my XP notebook are so sharp they’re almost difficult to look at after “adjusting” to OS X.

—Eric H

• • •

I, too, am having real problems with OS X and font anti-aliasing.

I really notice it when I use the same program, on the same screen and at the same time, in XP and in OS X. I do this in Parallels on a MacBook, with the left half of the screen for OS X and the right for XP.

Using the browser Opera on both OS X and XP, text in OS X is almost illegible (especially e’s). On XP with ClearType it is beautiful.

I find the same thing with Word documents. What gives, Apple? The font smoothing is OS X is absolutely terrible. Almost everything looks smudged. How can Apple have gotten it so wrong?

—Alex Hamilton

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