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#433 More on Scanning, iPhone Version of ScreenCasts Online Magazine, Headphone Shootout, Rooting a Droid, Dave Hamilton on Microphones

I’m back with praise for Katie Floyd’s job hosting the show, and I back up her thoughts on scanning photos after my own experiences with family photos. Don McAllister releases an iPhone version of his ScreenCasts Online Magazine (link to the the iPhone version and iPad version). George from Tulsa is back with a shootout of headphones: Koss KPH13 Over The Head Stereophone, wired Sony DREX12iP, Sony MW600 Hi-Fi Wireless Headset with FM Radio, and Plantronics BackBeat Go2. I give my view of the Roku vs. AppleTV after a few months of usage. Kevin the Connecticut ‘Castaway tells us how he used a Mac and a VM running Ubuntu to root a Droid Bionic so he could get the latest version of Android. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Dave Hamilton of the Mac Geek Gab (macgeekgab.com) and The Mac Observer (macobserver.com) joins us to talk about Microphones.

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Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday August 25, 2013 and this is show number 433. When I go on vacation, I worry about the show. I don’t worry that the host will do a bad job, rather that they do too good of a job hosting and you guys won’t want me back. After listening to Katie do the NosillaCast, my fears are well founded. I LOVED her show. I loved her talk on scanning in family photos (and what WAS her grandfather doing in front of the vatican wearing a tuxedo?), I loved her interaction with Bart and her insightful questions that brought out better explanations. I loved it. I’m guessing you did too, but I’m sorry to say you don’t get her from now on. I do think we need to have her on as a guest more often – in fact why haven’t I had her on in ages??? By the way I think the last time Katie and Bart were on together was when Steve and I were actually in Ireland sitting in Bart’s Kitchen with Katie running Chit Chat Across the Pond on her end for the show. That was such a surrealistic experience.

I have a few comments that came to mind during Katie’s talk on scanning in family photos. I scanned in my family photos about a decade ago. My mom had this terrific organization system called “throw them in a basket”. About ten years ago, I pulled them all out and spent hours organizing them into sections like one for each of us four children in solo photos, one for my oldest two brothers, one for the older 3 brothers, and one with the Fab Four. I also made sections for relatives, one for houses, one for boats, and one for costumes (my parents were CRAZY about costumes!) Then there were The Early Years with just my mom and dad. I sat down with my (nearly blind at that time) mother and her much younger sister to help me identify the relatives. My mother’s family was quite large, and many of her siblings had a lot of kids – so many that I couldn’t even reliably name all of my cousins much less the more obscure members fo the family.

We’re only talking a few hundred photos total, but when I got done I realized that my parents had more pictures of their dog Chrysanthemum from before any of us were born, than they did of me. I know, I’m the fourth child so I shouldn’t expect much, but I was WAY cuter than that stupid dog! Heck, there are more photos of my brother Jan on a SINGLE DAY than there were of me total.

Teeth gritting the whole time I started to scan. Remember Katie saying to scan at the top resolution offered? I thought about this at the time. I had a flat bed scanner, and this was before the software was available to separate the photos into individual files, so I had to scan, bring into Photoshop Elements, crop one photo out at a time, save it out as a new file, rinse and repeat. To scan a set of photos at 300dpi took about 5 min, to scan at 1200dpi took about 15 min. I wrote to my brothers asking their advice on what resolution to use. My brother Jan, who would never take on a task like this, replied, “You MUST scan at the highest possible resolution because you never know what technology is coming next!” My brother Kelly, a much more reasonable and practical soul replied, “Hey Al, we’re not the Beatles for cryin’ out loud, do what you can!” Needless to say the photos were scanned at 300dpi. We only view them on computers anyway at 72dpi, so they blow up quite nicely on screen. This also made me think about Katie’s comment of do it sooner rather than later. I did get the advantage of my mom and her sister identifying the relatives, but I paid the price of doing it long before services were around to do it for me and back when it took FOREVER to scan on your own. A double edged sword but I’m so glad I did it.

I should mention that my mother kept telling me that the reason there were so few photos of me was because I was in the slides that my dad converted to when I was around 10. I did take a crack at doing slide scanning using my buddy Ron’s $2000 scanner, but as Katie said my results were not at all good, so I might go back and have them professionally done later. Oh and you’ll be glad to know that even with the slides, there’s still more photos of that stupid dog…

I did want to add one more incentive for you to take on this scanning job. We’re all super good at backing up our computers on site and off site now…but realize those photos in the photo album (or basket) are not backed up ANYWHERE so if you have a fire/flood/tornado – you’ve lost them forever. Katie’s great discussion has motivated Steve and me to get started now on scanning in the 30 photo albums I have of our children when they were young. We’re going to ignore her great advice, try to do it ourselves and then probably turn around and have a service do it! That way we spend a lot of time AND money on the project.

I’m also really pleased with how great Mark Pouley’s sound was in his review. The Samson C01U really gives him a nice tone to go along with his fantastic content. In Chit Chat Across the Pond later in this episode, Dave Hamilton is going to talk about microphones, explaining to me the difference between condenser and dynamic mics, and he actually speaks disparagingly of the C01U type devices, but having listened to Mark I think it’s a great mic for him. If I say anything more nice about Mark his head will get all swole up so let’s move along.

MacRoundtable #218

Before I forget, today I recorded episode #218 of the Mac Roundtable with Bart, Steve Stanger, Chuck Joiner, and John F Braun. I think you’ll really learn a lot in this episode, it was a lot of fun so go check it out at macroundtable.com.

Screencasts Online Monthly Mag now on iPhone

I’ve mentioned a few times that Don McAllister has an iPad magazine called the Screencasts Online Monthly Mag, and that I’m a regular contributor to the magazine along with Katie Floyd and a whole host of others. Don just announced the introduction of an iPhone version of the magazine. This is a super cool way to get written articles from people like me and Katie, but also to get access to video tutorials by Don. If you subscribe to his video podcasts you get the magazine for free on both the iPad and iPhone so that’s your best deal, but if you want just the magazine you can subscribe from within iTunes or right from your device. The cast of characters writing for Don are amazing experts so I think you’ll get a lot out of the magazine. Link in the shownotes to the iPhone version and iPad version of course, or just search iTunes for ScreenCasts Online, or from iOS search inside Newsstand. Finally a use for Newsstand!

Let’s hear now from George from Tulsa on headphones:

George from Tulsa on Headphones

I’ve spent too much time and money looking for the perfect mobile headphones. My favorite is the Turtle Beach M5 I reviewed in Episode #405. But what’s good for keeping the ears comfortably warm in the winter isn’t so good in an Oklahoma summer.

This time of year, I’m usually out with the a Sony Ultra Lightweight Vertical In-The-Ear Headphone Model MDR-W08L. They’re listen only, but light, cheap, and as cool as something stuck in your ear can be. Editorial Note: The MDR-W08L seems to be discontinued, and on offer only at outrageous prices. Here’s a near equivalent.

I also recommend the wired Sony DREX12iP. They provide sound isolation, and are easy to pocket.
My “only” problem with them is that they’re made for iPhone so their controls aren’t fully functional on Android. Both Sonys have L shaped plugs, which I think safer for your gear, and easier to pocket, than a plug that inserts straight in.

I’ve tried a bunch of Bluetooth headsets. Most delivered more annoyance than joy. A couple click and chirped unpleasantly, right through the earbuds. The best sound was the Sony MW600 Hi-Fi Wireless Headset with FM Radio. Designed to invisibly clip onto the lapel of a suit coat, its tiny touch controls are maddeningly hard to use. Let’s call the device business attire, definitely not for active exercise.

Shortly after purchase, my MW600 invoked its Romulan Cloaking Device, and took refuge with the Dust Bunnies. I did say it was designed to be invisible, didn’t I? Ever the optimist, I ordered the recently updated Plantronics BackBeat Go2. Its form factor is appealing, two earbuds connected by a wire that loops behind the neck. A small multi-function switch on the left with buttons that can be easily identified by touch. Rechargeable through a standard Micro USB port. The Go2 works as advertised, pairing easily with every piece of gear I tried. There’s even a helpful woman inside who says things like, “Power on, Power off, Not paired,” in a very pleasant voice.

Its sound quality is good, if not excellent. Callers said quality on their end was fine, as it was on mine. On the downside, even though I tried all three sizes of silicone ear buds, I couldn’t get the earpieces to stay in place, and I was merely walking, not running. The wire looped behind my neck transmitted unpleasant jostling noises into the earbuds as I walked. I can’t imagine how someone jogging or running could use the Go2 without supergluing its earpieces into place, and somehow stopping the wire loop from transmitting noise with each step.

I wish I could give this $80 gadget a better review. It is oh so close. But I’m sticking to the wire. All the gear I mention can be purchased through Allison’s Amazon Associate Link, helping support the Nosillacast, and further enabling the Sheridan’s gear addiction.

I know JUST what you mean, George, I’ve tested things really often where I really want to say they’re great but they miss the mark by “that much”. I appreciate your honest reviews, especially in this category. I picture some day we’ll have something universal that pleases everyone but until then we’re on the quest to find the perfect headphones. I find Bluetooth really dodgy – unless you only pair to one device, EVER. Once you pair to two devices you’re in for a bag of hurt. In Steve’s case, no commercial earbuds stick in his ears. So to compromise we use plain old Sony over the head headphones for iPod Nano listening on our jogs. I don’t usually use my iPhone for Podcasts, but I use the Apple headphones when I want to walk and do phone calls. Some day there will be a good solution, right George?

AppleTV vs. Roku

Back in May, I did a comparison of the Apple TV versus the Roku box. I was very favorable to the Roku and enjoyed it quite a bit right away. I have to say though, after using both boxes for a few months side-by-side, I reach for the Apple TV much more often than the Roku. I watch content on Hulu Plus, and when I fired up on the Apple TV it remembers what episode I just finished watching and presents me with the next one. On the Roku though, it doesn’t do that. It takes me to the very beginning of the series every time. I had just assumed that it was Hulu Plus keeping track of where I was. I found this problem on the Roku on more than one show, even on something like Outer limits, which we bought from Amazon video. Steve and I bounce around a lot on what we watch day-to-day, so when we come back to the Roku to watch something it takes us to her 3 minutes to figure out where we were. I’d be curious whether anyone else has noticed this on the Roku and I thought you’d like to know that as much as I raved about the Roku, I now much prefer the Apple TV over the Roku.

Kevin in Connecticut on Rooting his Droid

Hey Alison – Kevin the Connecticut Castway here. I have been on a roll rooting Android phones and installing custom software — ROMs — lately. This brings up my problem to be solved. How do I root a particular Android device when, in unusual fashion, there are no Mac OS Terminal instructions because the device I am working with requires a Samba server to accomplish the task??

My brother and I recently each acquired the Droid Bionic for use with Verizon. It is a 2 year old phone, released at the same time as the iPhone 4s — pretty equal in specs. The phone is made by motorola. It has gotten some love of late from Google and has been updated to android 4.1.2 – the latest OS of any of the late 2012 releases from Motorola for Verizon. For those of you who have never touched an Android device – 4.1 is really the baseline for Android devices. It lifted Android to be on par (or near par) with iOS. The current OS is 4.2 for all new non-Google manufactured devices. My bro and i each picked up this phone for about $80 bucks on eBay.

Why? It has EXTENSIVE SUPPORT from the independent developer community out there. We wondered, how come ? Most of the phones that the devs like to hack are GSM phones (phones that would run on ATT or TMobile). The Bionic has developed an audience because it was one of the first dual core phones with LTE (4G) support. As of late 2011, AT&Ts LTE network was pretty puny. Verizon was the LTE king of that era.

Rooting phones can be fun — a good project — a chance to brush up on some command line skills. While OS X’s Terminal is a proper interface that can be used to modify many Android devices, it cant for this model. The Bionic requires the creation of a Samba server. Samba functionality was stripped out of OS 10.7.

One guy made and easy tool that ran a small Linux distribution called TinyCore OS for Windows Virtual Box that would root the phone — and I had an old Windows XP laptop kicking around that I used to modify my phone. However — I wanted to do this on Mac!! Well — I didn’t have the $50 to $70 to buy Parallels or VMWare Fusion and my brother needed his phone rooted as well.

My MacBook Air’s 128 GB was already too full to do a Boot Camp with a 32 Bit Windows on the other partition plus i didn’t want to use Windows. So I installed the latest Oracle Virtual Box for Mac – and the USB drivers extension pack. Then I downloaded the long term release of Ubuntu Linux 32 bit. 32 bit version was key to accomplishing the task here here. I ran it as a virtual machine. Oracle Virtual Box set up an unnecessary firewall — even though my OSX firewall was off. Once I removed this NAT — I was able to follow the programming scripts — setting up the Samba share and — in less than 10 minutes the Bionic was rooted.

With his phone rooted, I was able to install the leading Android Custom ROM – Cyanogen Mod — which is an official release for our Droid Bionics. We are now running OS 4.2.2, with a pure Android experience. My brother was very happy. I won’t be running Ubuntu all the time but — I am now intrigued to play around with it from time to time especially to compare and contrast its Terminal and under the hood functions with the Mac’s.

This entire exercise makes me think — I really wished i learned how to program when I was younger. Some school systems are now recognizing programming languages as equivalent to taking a foreign language. More of them should follow suit. Instead were are still telling kids in Connecticut to plan for jobs in the insurance industry. LOL.

I love stuff like this, Kevin. You got to get your geek on, you did it on the cheap, you did it all on the Mac and got the latest OS on an inexpensive phone and even got LTE AND you got to get your feet wet in Ubuntu. I agree with you about programming. Even now my kids who both pursued science and math in high school and college got no programming classes in high school. I had hoped that by now it would have been mandatory or at least a highly encouraged elective! I love the idea of recognizing programming languages as an equivalent for taking a foreign language.

Clarify

I love hearing how people are making their lives happier with the products from BlueMango Learning. This week I saw a tweet from Claus Wolfe (aka mactopics talking about how Clarify was going to help him at work. I asked him what he’s using it for and he said that there’s a workflow that he gets stuck with because everyone else in the company claims it’s WAY too complicated for them to be able to do. Now that he’s documented it with Clarify there’s no way people can claim it’s too hard. Isn’t that awesome? If there’s something you hate to do and you can document it so that it looks simple, you can get yourself out of it and onto working more complicated and interesting work. Clarify is only $30 in the Mac App Store or if you’re stuck on Windows you can buy that straight from bluemangolearning.com for $30 or if you’re a slider they have a $40 cross-platform license. Now isn’t ditching work you don’t want to do worth $30-40?.

Chit Chat Across the Pond

Dave Hamilton of the Mac Geek Gab (macgeekgab.com) and The Mac Observer (macobserver.com) joins us to talk about Microphones. Here’s the questions I asked Dave…

I hear all these terms about Microphones but I don’t actually know what to do with what I’ve heard. Don’t know how to pick a mic based on these terms either

  • Dynamic
  • Condenser
  • Cardioid
  • Phantom power
  • XLR vs. USB
  • Are there any GOOD headset mics? I’ve bought many bad ones…

Other questions

  • What the heck is Line In anyway if we can’t use it for mics?
  • What makes a $300 Heil PR 40 better than a $100 Heil PR 20?
  • What does “large diaphragm” mean and why do I care?
  • Would you use a different mic for spoken audio podcasting than for singing in your band? why if it’s still voice?
  • Some people seem to worry if a mic is mono – but aren’t we just one person talking per mic anyway?
  • Samson, Heil, Shure…opinions?
  • Recommendations for people who want to record audio for submittals to podcasts?
  • Mic type, distance from mic, recording software & settings, output file type

I sure had a blast with Dave – he’s such a nice guy and such a great geek. Hope to have him on again some time, that’s for sure. That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills, Blue Mango Learning at bluemangolearning.com makers of ScreenSteps and Clarify. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at allison@podfeet.com, follow me on twitter and app.net @podfeet. Check out the NosillaCast Google Plus Community too – lots of fun over there! If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time and join the friendly and enthusiastic NosillaCastaways. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

1 comment to #433 More on Scanning, iPhone Version of ScreenCasts Online Magazine, Headphone Shootout, Rooting a Droid, Dave Hamilton on Microphones

  • I really liked CCATP with Dave Hamilton. He made the whole mic discussion easy to understand and I like his easy going conversational style. On top of that, Dave is a great person.

    During your discussion you both extolled the virtues of Levelator. I too agree it is a great app, particularly for producing podcasts. Too often I listen to podcasts where audio levels are so different within an episode that I find myself having to repeatedly turn up and down the volume to get a more pleasant listening experience or to even hear what is being said – that gets annoying very quickly. Levelator solves this problem nicely.

    You said “people should be arrested if they don’t use Levelator.” I would agree, expect for those podcasts and other audio that has content with a wide dynamic range that you want to preserve. An example is music (particularly classical) where you may want to preserve the very quiet passages along with the very loud ones. Levelator would smoosh the low and high levels all to a moderate level yielding a distorted version of the song. This might be challenging for podcasts that include spoken voice along with significant musical passages or occasionally entire songs (think Knightwise’s podcasts).

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