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Allister’s Journey from Castblaster to MiX16 Pro

Sitting duck podcast logoThis piece started out as a simple review of one piece of software, but as I began writing, I realised it’s one of those times where a bit of storytelling is in order.

Some listeners will know that I once had a podcast of my own. Technically, I still do, but it’s a pretty rare release these days. I started right around the same time Allison did but instead of tech, my podcast was about music.

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Dumb Question Corner – What’s the Difference Between an Amp and a Receiver?

Gen 4 Apple TVListener Jill sent in a great dumb question this week, and Allison decided that I was more qualified to answer. Here’s Jill’s question:

What is a “receiver”?

The reason for my question is, Apple told us at WWDC that the 4th gen Apple TV could be used as a destination for Airplay 2 (multi-room audio). But the 4th gen Apple TV has no audio out, so how can that work? I don’t want my TV screen lighting up every time I want to play a podcast! Well, I asked around, and I got told “You need a receiver that offers HDMI connections”. Hence my question. So … what is a “receiver”? Also, supplementary question – why is it called a “receiver”? I have a good old fashioned amp, because I’m nearly as old as you are. I get amps: sound sources go in; you choose one, adjust the volume, job done. You can’t buy them any more – just these receiver things, and since I never got on that train, I haven’t a clue where to start asking about them.

Good question, Jill. You actually pose a couple questions. The first is “What is a receiver and why is it called a receiver?” and the second (implied) question is “How do you play audio from a gen 4 Apple TV?”

Let’s start with what is a receiver and why is it called a receiver. There are several types of receivers but the relevant ones for this discussion are an audio receiver and an A/V (audio/video) receiver.

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Rogue Amoeba – the Gold Standard

Lately I’ve run into a slew of tech problems, finding bugs in just about everything, hardware and software. This has given me the “opportunity” to compare reactions of companies when I tell them about the problems. I would normally write a huge diatribe about those that didn’t meet my expectations, but instead I’m going to tell you about the gold standard in support. That company is Rogue Amoeba, the makers of Audio Hijack.

I’ve talked about Audio Hijack quite a bit on the show, but to bring everyone up to speed, it’s the absolute center point to how I create the podcast. Audio Hijack, as the name implies, hijacks the audio on your Mac, allowing you to route it in interesting ways.

Audio hijack complex sessionI create the podcast recordings completely without a complicated hardware mixer. With Audio Hijack I can capture the audio of a Skype call and my voice on two separate tracks, add effects like an equalizer and a compressor. I can route the audio back to my headphones so I can monitor my own voice for any problems along with that of my partner on the show. I can also send the audio to a recorder to capture an uncompressed audio file. Audio Hijack is essential for the creation of the Podfeet Podcasts.

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NC #620 Apple Watch Swimming, Standard Mac Apps, BrainPort Visualization Through the Tongue, eSight Low Vision Glasses, Non-tech Podcasts, GhostReader, BeatsX

Allister here standing in for Allison this week. I have a miniature review of using the Apple Watch Series 2 for swim workouts, I’ll quickly review 26 Mac Apps you didn’t know you already had, Allison will pop by with two more videos from the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, I’ll make some recommendations for podcasts you might want to listen to that aren’t about technology, Terry delivers on his callout from Allison with a review of GhostReader text to speech software, and I’ll finish up with a review of the BeatsX Bluetooth earbuds with Apple W1 chip.


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BeatsX In-ear Bluetooth Earbuds with Apple W1

BeatsX Bluetooth earbudsI have long preferred in-ear earphones for two very important reasons. First, it’s just not possible to get a decent bass sound from lightweight earphones without creating a seal in the ear canal, and as my hearing is more sensitive to high frequencies, I need all the bass I can get, otherwise they sound feeble. Second, my typical listening environment is “out in the world.” I listen to podcasts or music on my 40 minute commute. This involves riding a train with other (sometimes noisy) commuters, and walking in a city with people and cars and buses and construction and wind. I tried EarPods for one day of commuting and confirmed that these two reasons are very good ones not to invest in AirPods, as cool as they are.

When Phil Schiller announced the AirPods, he also announced a few other products which would use the same W1 chip technology. The Beats Solo3 on-ear earphones would be an interesting proposition, but not for commuting –they’d be too bulky for me. The Powerbeats3 are a sport-style in-ear earphone solution. I’m not a fan of the over-ear hooks which secure these, and with their “sports” features, such as water resistance and an incredible 12 hour battery life (which I wouldn’t need), the price goes up, making them the most expensive of the in-ear products. That just leaves the cheapest product which includes the W1 chip – BeatsX. These are in-ear, designed for comfort, and last 8 hours on a charge. Continue reading “BeatsX In-ear Bluetooth Earbuds with Apple W1”

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NC #614 Podfeet Redesign, Nebula Projectors, Nonda Connected Car, Crazy Network, C-me Selfie Drone, Braven Flye Earbuds, Backblaze

Announcing a new site design for podfeet – go kick the tires at https://podfeet.com/beta2. My Affinity Photo 1.5 tutorial is up at ScreenCasts Online. We hear from Anker about their new Nebula projected displays, Nonda talks about their connected car devices, I explain more about how cool our network is now that we’ve folded in the TiVos with MoCA. Then we hear about the C-me Selfie Drone, and the Fly Sport Earbuds from Braven. Finally I wrap up by telling you my tales of adventure with offsite backups and why I’ve moved from CrashPlan over to Backblaze.


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NC #609 CES Fun, Akoustic Arts Directional Audio, Belkin, Kwikset Premis Locks, Luma Mesh Router, Security Bits

Steve and I are back from CES with tales of adventure. We’ve got interviews with Akoustic Arts who are developing a highly directional audio antenna, Belkin with a Thunderbolt dock and more, Kwikset with their HomeKit-enabled locks called Premis, and Luma with their mesh routers. After that we have an installment of Security Bits with Bart Busschots.


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AirPods – Lag or No Lag?

Audio video sync testI mentioned in my AirPods review last week that I did some tests of audio/video syncing for Dave Hamilton. I’ll review a little bit and then walk into some more advanced questions.

Dave had asked me to watch some YouTube videos using the AirPods to see whether the sound was in sync and the results were very positive. I found an audio/video sync video that’s really cool. There’s a horizontal timeline sliding from left to right, with several dots and then a long dash every second. Then there’s a ball bouncing on the dash as it goes by and it makes a click sound when it hits. The idea is that from the timeline you can measure how many milliseconds of delay there are between when you see the ball hit and when you hear it hit. I tested the AirPods and it was spot on with this test.

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NC #583 Airport Firmware Update, Dumb Question on Older Hardware Security, Ocktobud Waterproof Earbuds, Tunity, Security Bits

Steve and I are about to become grandparents, so there’s likely to be some disruption to the show schedule in the next few weeks. I guest hosted the SMR Podcast last week with Terrance Gaines at smrpodcast.com/…. My video tutorial on Affinity Photo is up at ScreenCasts Online. I made a tutorial on how to upgrade the firmware on your Apple routers, in Dumb Question Corner we all about how to secure older hardware, Denise gives us a listener review of the Oktobud SM01-X7 Waterproof Bluetooth Earbuds, and I’ll tell you about Tunity to hear broadcast TV on your phone.


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Tunity to Hear Broadcast TV on Your Phone

Tunity scanning golfHave you ever been at the airport and there’s breaking news on the TV but you can’t hear it? How about you’re out at a bar and there’s a game on and you’d love to be able to hear it? What if you could get the audio sent to your smartphone? Well that’s exactly what Tunity from tunity.com can do for you.

Tunity is available for free in the iOS App Store and the Google Play store. When you launch Tunity for the first time, you’ll be asked to create a free login or you can use Facebook to log in. Next you’ll be required to turn on location services for the app. I’ll explain in a minute why that makes sense.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a simple screen that says “tap to scan” and there’s a rectangle you’re supposed to align your phone or tablet’s camera to the frame of the TV. You have to hold the phone still while it scans, then it will say detecting, and if it recognizes the channel you’re watching it will come back and say “Syncing to” and the name of the channel. A second or two after that, you’ll hear the TV channel’s audio coming out of your phone! Seriously. It’s like magic.
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