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Garage Band and OS X

edited June 2006 in Technology
As I said, I really wanted to like my Mac, and I was very excited to buy it. Under heavy use, however, it doesn't seem to hold up. Garage Band frustrates me to no end, and it's honestly faster, easier, and more reliable to just use Rezound and Audacity in Linux.

It's late, and I'm stuck editing the show in Linux due to the RAM problem with Garage Band. As a result, here is a brief list of my grievances in no partiular order.
  1. Garage Band CANNOT export to wav or mp3 files: Apple practically forces me to use their non-universal standards and I have to use all manner of hacks to get around this.
  2. iTunes can't make real mp3 files without hackishly installing LAME into it, and even then it's incredibly slow at encoding.
  3. The editing interface in Garage Band is awful, counter-intuitive, and tedious.
  4. Garage Band barely runs with the processing power and RAM I have (standard for the Mac I purchased).
  5. Garage Band will only record to the limit of my RAM, and then STOP with no warning or alarm, thereby severely limiting the amount of audio with which I can work.
  6. Garage Band in general will fail to do a great many things with no explanation, error message, or warning of any kind. It's trial and error to see what the limits are.
  7. Apple's documentation is abysmal, and I say that as a man who's read the official NTP documentation.
  8. Sound randomly stops working in flash.
  9. The Dock randomly stops magnifying, requiring a reboot to fix
  10. Everything in Garage Band is super contextual, but it's difficult to tell what context I'm in at a given time and there is no textual feedback.
I really can't justifty using a Mac as my primary computer, let alone as our podcast box. Unless all of you out there can shed some light on things I'm missing, this new Mac Mini will either be relegated to livingroom media player duty or returned to the Apple store for a refund.

I -could- install Audacity and all of my open source software on it, but that really defeats the purpose of buying a Mac: I could use a PC that's twice as fast for less money if all I ran is OSS. I bought a Mac for the polish and the streamlining, to avoid all of these niggling little issues. It both surprises and saddens me to have had such trouble.


  • So is it garage band or libsyn at fault for the 404 on tonight's podcast? Well, hopefully it'll be up in the morning anyway.

    1: It is made by Apple after all.
    2: ^^^
    3: Having used Cubase, Cakewalk/Sonar, and Logic, and observed Protools, Reason, and numerous other programs, I can say with confidence that all editing interfaces for music and sound (not just sound, like CoolEdit/Audition, but multi-track music) are terrible. In fact, most professional software (and cheap versions of said) has a terrible interface, such as Adobe Photoshop. People learn it anyway, because it's professional software, and they need to know how to use it for work. It is not designed to be easy to learn, but hopefully to be easy to use (see Photoshop, vi).
    4: Hmm.
    5: If it were smart enough to stream to the hard drive, or compress the audio stream...then perhaps it wouldn't come free with the os?
    6: No comment.
    7: Unusual. Their documentation tends to be excellent: approachable by novices, yet unafraid to give full disclosure to experts. Then again, I'm sure some variance can be observed between the various software programs.
    8: Hmm.
    9: Call Applecare.
    10: See 3 and 5.

    I haven't really played with GarageBand yet, though I had high hopes it would be a decent little cute editor like Acid Music. I wasn't optimistic that it could truly challenge ProTools, Cakewalk, etc. Those are damn hard to learn, but infinitely powerful, just like most of my music hardware. Since I don't do it professionally, I've never really gotten up the steep learning curve of those apps. I did expect that GarageBand might be a bit easier to use, but I suspect it may be designed for people with no knowledge of sound or music editing, and your knowledge may get in the way.

    If GarageBand isn't up to snuff with the rest of the Mac apps, I'm not surprised.

    Though I'm currently typing on my new MacBook Pro, and I prefer OS X to XP2, I generally avoid Mac apps, such as Safari and iAnything.

    P.S. Quicktime is fucking terrible and stupid. Shame on Apple. Pay for full screen? No thanks, I'll download Microsoft Media Player, with no regrets.
  • Rym, as a major advocate of all things Mac, I too am surprised and saddened at what's going on.

    No, Garage Band isn't a propper full on editing program, really I think they want you to go out and buy Final Cut Studio to get Soundtrack Pro (too much money for what you want it for) or Logic (far too much money). Personally I've used GB for all our podcasts and Iv'e even scored a couple of feature films with it, and that's with Soundtrack and Logic sat on my hard drive. The trouble is, is that it does take some getting used to. You will spend hours screaming "WHY WON"T YOU LET ME DO THAT!?!?" and realise four months later that all you had to do was click that button in the middle of the screen. So to address some of your problems....

    1. I know, just relax. Send the high quality AIFF to iTunes and convert it to mp3 there. Surely it's not that slow? That's the process I follow and have never had a problem. Im using a PPC Dual 2GHZ PowerMac, but the same process works fine on all my friend's macs too.

    2. The mp3 encoding should have been there out of the box. Did you have to install Lame yourself?

    3. I'm going to side with Kenjura on this one. They all suck. I've spent the last decade of my life searching for music software that comes close to the program we used to use at school on an Atari ST back in 93. Still haven't found it. I chalk the decline in music software down to the quest for more features, which we probably will never need.

    4. This is what's made me start thinking that something is wrong with your mac. Or that the Core Solo was a very poor choice indead, mainly on the part of Apple (they couldn't be bothered to put it in the MacBook). My sister is running a year old G4 1.5GHz MacMini for her film degree. She's happily used iMovie, and GB for loads of massive projects over the last year without a problem. I'm taking that as further evidence that there's something wrong with your machine. It's far more powerful than the G4 so it should be doing stuff my sister can't not the other way around.

    5. This isn't looking good. It certainly should allow you to record beyond the limit of your RAM. However you might be running into the time limit on GB. It records up to 999 bars of music. If you're using it to record speech, then turn the BPM to 40 and you get hours of time.

    6. If it keeps crashing then something's wrong. If it just isn't doing what you expect then you aren't doing it right.

    7. Hell yeah. Nothing comes with any real instructions. That said, I haven't seen a decent attempt at instructions since the late 80s. Remember when you used to get a big thick paper book with software? Thank you Adobe for you pdf format and shitty little doc files nobody can read.

    8. Hmmm too. There's a new flash player out, but really it's looking like something's wrong.

    9. Time to go to the Genius Bar. I'm really disappointed that you seem to have a duff mac mini. I've seen so many family members and friends go on to have nothing but love for their mac. It even has my mum talking about technology and computers now. She used to wait in the car if we all ever went to PC World.

    10. Yeah. Pretty much. However if you keep using, all will become clear I promise.

    So in short I think it's a choice between:

    1. A broken MacMini
    2. The Core Solo was a realllly bad move either by Apple or you, probably Apple.
    3. A bad install of OSX

    Not a good experience. I'll let you fill in your own speech about how this could happen to any hardware product from any company, I know it doesn't help. You want yours to work.

    Go to the Genius Bar, act pissed off. They will help you.
  • edited June 2006
    Rym is at fault for the 404. I fixed it. I think you guys should listen to the whole episode before you get back here. It will give you a much better idea of what the problems are.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • Woohoo! *Rym moves away from the dark side a bit!*

    *sorry I've always had a chip on my shoulder about apple ever since the hockey puck mouse*
  • All right. You misunderstand. Only #8 is a technical problem. #6 isn't Garage Band crashing: it's Garage Band just not doing what I want it to do, yet at the same time not telling my why it won't. There is nothing wrong with my hardware or install. I just don't have enough RAM, an the cost of adding more through Apple is ludicrous.

    One major problem is simply that the machine is woefully underpowered. This is, however, a dealbreaker. At $600, the Core Solo was worth the money. That's the absolute maximum I would pay, and is the only reason I even considered a Mac. If that machine, which hardware-wise is very fast, can't suffice, then I will not spend the money necessary to have one that will: I could build multiple faster PCs for less.

    The problem seems mainly to be a lack of RAM.

    Regarding #1, it -is- that bad. Why does Apple not support universal standards? Why does it automatically decide what I should be using based on an unseen context? I moved to Mac to -avoid- hoops like that.

    Regarding #2, Itunes comes with a broken mp3 encoder. It has a weak feature set, few options, and bad quality. It isn't LAME: you have to install LAME yourself.

    Regarding #3, Rezound and Audacity are wonderful as far as podcasting is concerned. I can record, filter, edit, mix, and publish inside of an hour INCLUDING processing time on my terribly slow PC. It takes me maybe 10 minutes to work up an entire show with them: often far less.

    Regarding #5, that's a terrible choice on Apple's part. Why would they arbitrarily limit my recording, especially with a context that has NO meaning in a "podcast?" There are no beats, yet it still has a limit on them?

    Regarding #9, the dock only stops magnifying when I run out of RAM (a common occurrance).
  • RymRym
    edited June 2006
    Regarding #7, plenty of things come with real instructions. I made a joke about NTP's, which is regarded by many as being difficult to follow, but frankly I would prefer that to Apple's marketing fluff.

    Is there a comprehensive body of documentation out there anywhere?

    Is there a limit to how long loops can be? It seems that I cannot bring in any loops unless they're around 30 seconds or less. Is that documented somewhere?

    Is there any faster or easier way to edit tracks beyond the tedious split-split-cut method? Can I make the selector peg to the fronts and rears of individual waves? Can I apply filters to a selected portion of a wave?

    Can I alter a gate or filter setting after recording?

    Can I add metadata markers to the audio as I record to mark places that will need editing?

    Is there any way to control the export settings? Garageband will ONLY export aac to disc: I have to export to Itunes in order to get it to create the aiff files and then retrieve them.
    Post edited by Rym on
  • You forgot to ask if there was a way to zoom in or out more.
  • I would never use Garage Band to edit a podcast. To me, Garage Band does one thing really well: music composition through the use of loops. I make my bumpers, export them to itunes, burn them to a CD and then walk that CD down to my other computers and rip the music off the CD using Music Match. This gives me a nice .mp3 to play with. I have the same mouse problems that Rym had as well. Audacity is far from perfect, but it lets you get the job done and it's free.

    I would never use any mac as my main computer. My iMac is the most popular computer in the house mostly because of it's central location, it's pretty screen and it's ease of use for the kids. It acts as a stand alone photo storage and photo printing server too (even though printing photos with it is way more difficult than it needs to be).

    I love my iPod and it's indispensable to me so I think Apple is a good company, but generally speaking, their computers are really only accessories to intel boxes.
  • Rym, you talked about Codecs in the episode. I have to agree with Ken, Quicktime sucks. But I would reccomend using one of multi-platform clients to watch videos, like VLC. That or Mplayer is probably the best video player for the mac.

    And I don't notice my horribly low mouse sensitivity, and I think Scott's right that it supposed to be the other direction to not be getting carpal tunnel.

    What about iTunes' convert to function doesn't work? You set in the prefs what you want all of the imported files to be in. I think one justification that Apple might use for creating AAC is that it is a good starting point format, and Garage Band is just the audio creation tool, not the encoder, and that's why they pass it off to iTunes. It's a built-in lack of functionality meant to make you jump between the various parts of iLife.

    I think the Mac Mini would probably work well as a media center computer if it's too cumbersome to Podcast on.
  • If we're going to use VLC or mplayer, why use a Mac? Those programs run better on Linux, which is cheaper and faster. The point of paying the premium price for a Mac is because you get the Mac software that is not available anywhere else. If I'm paying for software I expect it to be better than the FOSS software. The fact is, other than the iTunes/iPod combination, which is available free on Windows, there really is no advantage to the Mac software for our purposes.

    As for mouse sensitivity, I think you misunderstood what I said. High sensitivity is a good idea to not get carpal tunnel. It's Rym's use of just the thumb and pinky finger that I am suggesting is not the best idea. You are supposed to rest the palm of your hand on the mouse. Then you are supposed to move the mouse with your arm muscles, not wrist or finger muscles. That is the key to avoid RSI.

    According to Rym, changing the settings in the iTunes import area doesn't have an effect on the mp3 that is created if we export from garage band to iTunes and then to mp3.

    We're going to get the dongle and test it out as a media PC before returning it.
  • edited June 2006
    Hey, Rym, are you willing to spend $20 to fix your mouse problem? SteerMouse should do. If you wanna search more, the problem you have is OS X's mouse acceleration.

    EDIT: This program should work too.
    Post edited by trogdor9 on
  • You set in the prefs what you want all of the imported files to be in. I think one justification that Apple might use for creating AAC is that it is a good starting point format, and Garage Band is just the audio creation tool, not the encoder, and that's why they pass it off to iTunes

    Those preference only affect importing music from CDs, not from files. iTunes ignored those settings for my aiffs. Regardless, the iTunes encoder is very poor compared to LAME.

    Also, AAC is NOT a good starting point. If you compress audio with a lossy method, and then transcode it to another lossy format, you lose even more quality than you otherwise would have. It's also slower and less efficient.

    Apple wants you to just use Garage Band. There's no reason to use iTunes to encode unless you want standard files like mp3s: Garage Band makes it trivial to make the entire podcast as an AAC. It only punishes you if you desire mp3 instead.
  • edited June 2006
    Fine, then there's no reason for getting a Mac and paying all of the extra money. You guys have your solution in linux. You have the tools that you like to get in there and tinker, and when you need to do the specific things, you boot up Windows to get it done. It's a matter of choice, you have the desire to get in there and tweak you system to get things working and have been on Linux for so long that it's where you judge a user experience from.

    If I were to guess what might cause some of the anger is the reflexive attitude like you seem have that expects everything on a Mac to be the thing, which is what it sounds like you're saying to me. You can watch videos full screen in iTunes, but it uses the Quicktime codecs, so you've got the Quicktime codec problem there. I recommended VLC because it's about the only software package I know of that actually supports every single strange iteration and coding disaster that people do.

    I didn't know that the import settings had no effect on the file, I thought that they did, I know when I change it to apple lossless, I get that option in the context menu, so it seemed to me to be the way it was handled. Also, I should have said Aiff, which is a better starting point being lossless.

    Rym, I think the problem with Garage Band is that it is trying to be both a podcast recorder and an audio recorder, which is why I think you run into some of those weird conflicts like the BPM.

    Edit: And you're right, Apple is trying to lock you into Apple. They just try and make it a soft glove around their Iron Fist. I wish it wasn't the case, and I will leave if Apple takes it too far, but they are loosing, and keep forgetting that making things easier is better for keeping the kind of people who spend money.

    Also, I don't think Macs use any special kind of Memory, it's just that Apple gets huge margins on Memory Sales because places that buy in bulk will not self-install memory, and you drop the price by a great percentage if you buy 3rd party.
    Post edited by Pilitus on
  • I suppose I just bought into the hype that everything "just works" on the Mac. And it does... unless you deviate in any way from what Apple wants you to be doing. If we were making an iTunes enhanced podcast in AAC without editing, Garage Band would be wonderful.

    Apple really promotes Macs as the podcasting platform, and Garage Band as the podcasting application. That's why I expected it to be good and full-featured.

    As for tinkering, you should know that I -hate- having to tinker with my computer to make it work. The primary reason I bought a Mac was so I wouldn't have to tinker. It was very surprising that I had to tinker -more- with Apple than I did with Linux to do the same thing.

    Rezound "just works" in Linux. I didn't have to twiddle or anything: it worked perfectly after installing it with no modificiation whatsoever. Audacity has one known installation bug that is easily resolved and well documented.

    Linux is often a pain in the ass to use. I've learned now that Macs are often just as painful.

    As for Windows, I don't ever boot into Windows. The only thing I can't do with Linux (or OSX for that matter) is interface with my little SONY recorder.
  • I don't really know Rym, pretty much everything internally on my system has just worked, it just took me some time to play around with it and see what Mac logic is. Which is the way Apple wants you to do things.

    I really have no answers to you comments about Garage Band, I think I have to leave that for techsupportrich to answer. I've never been into audio so I can't really help you out there. Does either Rezound or Audacity have a Mac implementation, so you can benchmark actual speeds? If you can't use Garage Band, hopefully you can get some better speed out of the faster chip.

    I don't know what's going on with the flash audio or the dock, I don't use magnify and flash sound doesn't drop on me.

    Rym, what I've found is nice on a Mac is there are a few minor applications that are free that give you more options to adjust some of the hidden parameters, like being able to move the dock to be left aligned on your screen. If there's a adjustment question you have, you do have friends who run Macs, and a few of them probably consider themselves power users, so they could help you out there. One of the things about Mac is that it does have a user culture like linux, and there are trolls and idiots in the culture.
  • Concerning the audio quality it was pretty much indistinguishable between the two, but than again my speakers are showing their years. I am curious about the random skips and pops at the end of the episode; when you switched back to the linux box. There were about four of them over the final duration of the episode. I redownload the file to determine if it was mere corruption but they were still present on two devices (PC and MuVo). As a side note, this isn't the first time I have heard such things. In the past I have heard pops and even seconds of nothing that went unacknowledged or explained. All and all I suspect this Windows box . . . I'll confirm more tonight at work on a different machine. As for portability, why don't you just buy a laptop (there are about a jillion options new and used) or are most integrated sound cards not up to snuff?
  • Yeah, I noticed those skip/pops too, and none of them were in the Garage Band portion of the show.
  • I also heard the skips and pops. It's mostly likely because the Linux box is in shambles after being mostly abandoned for the mac. I think if we can put Ubuntu Dapper Drake on the Mac that might do the trick.
  • I had de-comissioned my Linux box. I plugged it all back in, restored the files I needed, and recorded on the fly without bothering to set everything back up. We just wanted to get to bed after the Garage Band nightmare. The levels on that last bit were all off, and the CPU was being pegged by other things. We just threw together a closing bit and went to sleep.

    I've also had trouble in general with Scott breathing into his mic, and many of the gates and filters I've tried over the months leave various pop-like artifacts depending on the volume of his breathing.
  • edited June 2006
    I've always felt GarageBand was stupid. It has a horrible interface and seems somewhat pointless, seeing as I don't compose music. However, my mac came with installation CD's and these had an extra software install program on them. The disk had a program on it "Sound Studio", it costs money, but it seemed like a pretty good sound editor to me. Now, my mac is PPC, and about a year and a half old, so it might not be included now, but it may be worth checking.
    Post edited by Ilmarinen on
  • Wow, I'm listening to the episode now, but it really looks like the core solo mac mini is really bad. No wonder the chips aren't selling.


    I think there's some work to be done.

    Try getting onto the MacCast, a very good podcast that helps, also ScreenCasts Online. That's a podcast of some brilliant OS X tutorials.
  • Sorry to hear about the terrible experience. I am the lead admin for hundreds of Macs and a few FreeBSD servers.

    I'm not sure if I can help, but I'll try. I must point out that I'm writing this while tired and in hot weather. I might not make sense. If I say something dumb, call me on it.

    Dock / Flash & audio / Broken:

    Based on a few things that you said in Monday's episode, I think that your Mac mini is broken. I'm not sure, but I want to say its either software or RAM. For example, I have never ever ever seen the issue that you described with the Dock loosing its magnification behavior. Also, I've seen iBook G3s with MacOS X 10.4 running flash videos that are so overpowering that the video takes twice as long to play as the audio (yes, its *minutes* behind) but the audio is still just fine.

    A few things to try:
    - Disk Utility: Repair Permissions. This can be done on a live system without problems.
    - Boot from your installer disks and run Disk Utility from that. Then use the Repair Disk command.
    - Reformat the drive and reinstall. It sucks to suggest this on a brand new system, but I have to say it to be thorough.
    - Check the S.M.A.R.T. status (just guessing) in System Profiler
    - Check the RAM with a RAM tester. Fink (Debian ports) and/or DarwinPorts (FreeBSD ports) might have one.
    - Insisting on an exchange for a different unit at the store. Seriously. I've seen this work out a lot of times.

    MP3 export:

    You're absolutely correct. The official "Apple Way" is to use Share --> Send Podcast to iTunes and then to select Advanced --> Convert Selection to MP3. I can't speak to the audio quality, but that is what Apple wants. Sucks. Sorry.

    Unfortunately, its meant to be a "low barrier of entry" product, not a product for people at your level. Maybe you could set up a script or an "Automator" workflow to do the post-GarageBand stuff for you? I use iHook and have considered using Platypus at times. Check and/or for ideas.

    The good news is that I am 100% certain that you can tweak the MP3 settings, like bit rate. I just did it on my iBook G4 using iTunes 6.0.4. I exported a "podcast" (me spanning my fingers 3 times) to iTunes, went to iTunes's Importing preferences, changed the settings, selected the AAC "song," and selected "Convert Selection to MP3". It resulted in a 96kbps MP3 file.

    Another tip: To get at the file faster, select it in iTunes and type Apple-R. This is "Show Song File" in the "File" menu.

    GarageBand in general:

    One this to keep in mind... Podcasting in GarageBand has only been available since January. You're effectively using a 1.0 release. OK, maybe a 1.0.1. Yes this sucks.

    Based on a history of watching Apple's product releases for quite a few years, I'd guess that either 1/??/07 or 1/??/08 will be the release that is what you expected today's GB to be. This sucks, but its what I believe to be true. I hope the info helps you in some way.

    AAC and AIFF:

    Contrary to your claims in Monday's podcast, AAC is not an Apple format or a proprietary format. Its a subset of MPEG-4, just as MP3 is a subset of MPEG-1. (

    What you called AIF, which is actually AIFF, is also an open format. I can remember playing *.au files with AIFF data streams on Sun, MacOS 7, and FreeBSD in the mid-1990s.

    Yes, many portable digital audio listening devices are not able to play AACs and a few can't play AIFF. However, the same is true of Ogg Vorbis and a bunch of other formats. But I bet that the majority of users are able to play AAC and AIFF when they want. In fact, I bet more "Average Joe" users can play AAC than Ogg.

    That said, I agree that its irritating as hell that Apple doesn't offer MP3 as a *default,* let alone an "advanced" option. I think that they expect you to use iTunes to do that if you're intent on doing that.

    iTunes & MP3s:

    I'm not really sure what you mean by "iTunes can't make real MP3s." Can you elaborate?

    GarageBand frustrations:

    I have no idea what's going on here. My GB experience is limited to playing with it for my own exploration and self-training. You definitely describe some crappy behavior.

    All I can do is point to Apple's previous examples. The had a 1 hour limit (IIRC) in iDVD when it first came out. A subsequent version went to 1.5, then 2, then.... Maybe something like that will happen with GarageBand, too.


    "Apple's documentation is abysmal, and I say that as a man who's read the official NTP documentation."

    Speaking as someone on the same level, I totally agree with you. (Side note: I once had to read the SMTP RFCs in order to help a customer prove that a single-quote was an invalid character. Funny thing is, it is a LEGAL character. He wasn't happy.)
  • Have you ever tried acid pro?
  • The mp3 encoder in iTunes isn't as full-featured as LAME, and leaves much to be desired. Luckily, I solved that by hacking LAME into iTunes. I also discovered that my problem was largely a context issue: trying to make the mp3 one way ignored the custom settings, while making it in a different way followed them.

    This week, we'll be installing Ubuntu on the box. That will be the full test of the hardware capabilities and possible issues.

    I must say, aside from Garage Band, I really like my Mac. Every issue I've had is an annoyance at most. The main problem seems to be UI: I verymuch dislike the contextual nature, especially considering how often the context is hidden from me.

    As for AAC/AIFF, I know a lot of people who do have problems with these formats. They may be widespread, but they are by no means universal. I dislike Ogg just as much and would never consider using it. ^_~ I use FLAC, but only internally for archival purposes. I would never consider spreading audio content in any format other than PCM Wav or mp3.

    Anyway, thanks for all of the advice! ^_^ I plan to do a show on the Mac in general (with 100% no ranting about Garage Band) soon, which will likely be much more positive. ^_~
  • Mac is clearly in the wrong.

    Their new ads, which pit the young cool guy (the mac) against the balding middle-aged dorky guy (the pc) *clearly* state that the mac "just works".

    That depends on your point of view. I expect an mp3 player to "just work" when I plug it into my usb port. This is true of virtually all mp3 players EXCEPT the iPod and possibly any made by Sony (just guessing). It's the *only* mp3 player of note that "just doesn't work".

    I have a nano, and a mac with iTunes preinstalled. I told iTunes to subscribe to GeekNights. I told my iPod to synch with it. Twice.

    To actually get GeekNights, I have to manually download it and copy it to the iPod directly. Nice, Apple. I'm not sure what more they expect of me. I've yielded my knowledge of computers, and simply plugged in the iPod to iTunes and let 'er rip, and...nothing. I'll stick to my established computer expertise and do the copying myself in the future. I mean, how slick is a thing that "automatically" copies mp3's...if your computer happens to be on (and connected to the internet) and your iPod happens to be plugged into it (instead in your pocket or car) at just the right time. Thanks, but no thanks.

    I bought my mac because it's the best laptop I could find, in terms of hardware. It's really only slightly more expensive than a Dell if you match feature for feature (which you can now with Intel processors). Buy the cheapest MacBook or MacBook Pro (don't pay $200 for black if it's just going to rub off), then upgrade it with aftermarket upgrades.

    FYI: All intel macs accept normally DDR2 RAM. Mac Minis and MacBooks accept SODIMMS, which are laptop-sized. The Mac Mini may also accept ordinary DIMMs (I'm not sure, but the slot is labelled DIMM/SODIMM).

    If you're not sure, use the memory configurator at Then, using those specifications, search for memory at Don't buy the cheapest, but don't buy the priciest if you don't know why you're buying it.

    Rym: $100 is an excellent price for a 1 GB SODIMM. Mac and other dealers want upwards of $300, with an average of $200, for that much RAM (for your computer). 3rd party isn't enough: you throw the word "mac" in there and the price doubles. Buy PC hardware, it's exactly the same. $100 isn't even all that bad for a 1 GB DIMM.

    In conclusion:
    Mac hardware is nice. But now, more than ever, they're just a glorified OEM. They're using the same parts you'll find in any PC, but they assemble some of the best. Dell assembles the second best computer. However, theirs are 95% more compatible with the real world. News flash to mac users: there is nothing a Mac can do that a PC can't, and there are many things a PC can do that a Mac can't, Windows or Linux. Period. It will be that way until the company gets their head out of their ass and truly reaches out to non mac users.

    Until then: it's apple-O to open a file and dragging a CD to the trash bin to eject it. Hooray for elitism!

    P.S.: Seriously, the MacBook Pro is a great piece of hardware, and Mac OS X is nice. I just don't care for their software, mouse drivers, and trackpads.
  • I'm in the process of listening to the episode now. Quicktime Pro can export out to WAV. I know you have to buy it, but your show is so professional anyway, it's such a small but worthy expense.

    I'll just go out on a limb here - you say that it takes you about 1/8th the time to make it on a Linux box than on the mac, but couldn't that have something to do with the fact that you've been doing the Linux thing for about a year now whereas you've only been using the mac for ...a day?

    Obviously they don't work the same, but it might just be a "learning that different way" type of thing.

    By the end of this, I can almost guarentee that if you keep the mac, you'll be upgrading to Soundtrack anyway. Your stuff is too professional to stick with the "do-it-yourself" type of thing. Didn't you say that in an earlier episode? The easier it is, the more limiting it is? With this show being run by a couple a geeks like yourselves, of course it's going to be frustrating.

    Keep working at it, I'll come down some day and show you some media-making mac tricks
  • "Until then: it's apple-O to open a file and dragging a CD to the trash bin to eject it. Hooray for elitism!"
    Hmm... I'm more of a double click and function-f12 person myself.
  • Kenjura,

    That's really weird that you had trouble with iTunes/iPod subscribing to podcasts. That's the one part of Apple's setup that actually works really well. Here's how my iTunes is setup to do awesome podcasting and awesome iPodding.
    1. First plug in your iPod and open iTunes.
    2. Go to edit->preferences->podcasts.
    3. Check for new episodes every hour.
    4. When new episodes are available do nothing.
    5. Keep all unplayed episodes.
    6. Click the iPod preferences button.
    7. Automatically update all podcasts.
    8. Click the Music tab.
    9. Manually manage songs and playlists.
    Now click ok and look at iTunes. Look on the left side at the list of sources. Click on podcasts. All the podcasts you are subscribed to are listed here. When there are new episodes they will appear, but will not automatically download. Download the episodes you want by clicking "get". Any episodes which you have not finished listening to will stay there forever. If you update your iPod, by right-clicking on it and selecting "update", the podcasts section of the iPod will exactly match the status of the podcast section in iTunes. If you listen to stuff on the iPod and plug it back into the PC, then the podcast section of iTunes will match the iPod by deleting any finished episodes. If you want to add non-podcast audio to the ipod, just add it manually by dragging it over there. I do highly recommend you make playlists and drag those to the iPod instead.

    Why is this so much slicker than everything else? Well. If you use an iPod without iTunes, or if you use any other mp3 player on any platform you can't do this. You have to separately manage your podcasts and your mp3 player with separate programs. You have to manually add and remove podcasts as you acquire and listen to new episodes. The ultra beta version of banshee on Linux is getting closer to achieving this, but it's still a long way off. I do recommend it if you must use an iPod on Linux.
  • Kenjura:
    What you described with the iPod not sync-ing sounds like one of two very simple things. (1) You're iPod is set to anything other than the defaults, e.g. its set to only sync by playlist or manual. (2) You're leaving it plugged in constantly. In the case of 1, plug in your iPod and go to its preferences in iTunes and change the settings. In the case of 2, know that its bad for the iPod's battery (uses up some of its charging cycles, though this is a very slow process) and that it just needs you to select File-->Update iPod. I hope that helps.

    When buying RAM for a Mac mini with Intel CPU (IOW this is *not* true on the G4 version) you should get matching pairs of RAM sticks. This will cause the performance to be better than just putting in 1 module or putting in "unbalanced" modules, e.g. a 512 + 1024. This isn't necessary, but it does give a speed boost due to the design of the RAM that Apple chose to use.

    Also, Apple does not use nonstandard RAM in Macs. Well, not since the late 1980s. The Mac minis use a common form of laptop RAM. Check for some prices. They even have a way to select RAM based on the model vs. based on the understanding of the part that you actually need.

    And, ya, AIFF/AU, AAC/MPEG-4, Ogg, etc. are all formats that the average [l]user has never heard about. Some so-called MP3 players can handle each of those, but they're not as universally accepted and understood as MP3. You're absolutely right. I plead "tired." Sorry. That and the fact that I have about 2000 users and they love making claims based on ignorance. So sometimes I get a bit defensive when someone claims that something is this-way or that-way and I know that they're incorrect in the broader sense -- even if they're correct within a sub-set which is their personal context. For example, podcasting should always be MP3 and no other file format no matter how open it is. (Even though I can play AACs on my iPod and never notice a difference, it offends me a little bit when I see a podcast using AAC.)

    BTW, is there a technical "gotcha" with AIFF, AAC, or Ogg that I don't know about? You seem to be an audio geek. I'm not. I'd love to know what you know about these formats.

    Also, I've never personally seen a PCM -- not even on the various file servers that I've maintained in the last 8 years. Are you sure that its a useful format to share with the public?

    Lastly, if it means anything to you, a LOT of long time MacOS fanatical, "drink the kool aid" style "true believers" practically killed themselves when Apple revealed the GUI for MacOS X. They said a lot of things about the GUI that you said and quite a few more. Too context sensitive. No spacial memory design any more. A given tool has too many purposes, special cases, etc., which can lead to confusion about how to use it. And so on...

    I have to admit that they were mostly right. Unfortunately, Apple *had* to do that in order to get back into the spotlight and have any chance of retaining customers. They needed things like minimizing windows to get the Windows users to think that its not too foreign and flashy animations to get attention. As a student of human-computer interaction (I have a BA in Information Science and Policy) I can see lots of points where Apple made the users' life more difficult, many of which are not even obvious to the user that is subjected to them. Its kind of sad. But it has its positive side effects. So I try to not dwell. Also, MacOS X is basically NeXTStep. So it has to be judged in that context.

    Anyway, I wish you luck with the Mac. If I can help, let me know.
  • Once again, I thank everyone for all of their advice. ^_^

    I'm forcing myself to use Garage Band all week for the show. As for those other pay programs, I'll "acquire them via means that may or may not be fully within the confines of the law," but know that I have a major problem with paying for software.

    I will only buy software if doing so is the only way to accomplish the task at hand, and even then I will first evaluate whether or not the task is even worthwhile. Audacity and Rezound are wonderful and full-featured: what more could I need? They are also free.

    Now, if it were like the difference between Photoshop and The Gimp, where the latter lacks certain key functionality, the situation would be different. As it stands, I can see no function or feature in these pay programs that is not either available in Audacity/Rezound, unnecessary to me, or solvable via hardware instead of software.

    I would NEVER pay for Quicktime Pro: there mere idea of paying for the right to create files of a certain type is laughable. Garage Band and OSX are the first non-free pieces of software I've used since I bought Steam years and years ago, and even then the only games I played in Steam were free mods.

    I don't pirate anything, nor do I pay for anything. (A far cry from my high school days, where I was known (along with Ken) as a "warez dude").
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