iPod & iTunes – The Missing Manual, Fourth Edition

The iPod is less intuitive in some ways than you might expect and this book aims to bring you up to speed very quickly on the power of the iPod.
iPod & iTunes Book

iPod & iTunes
The Missing Manual, Fourth Edition
By J.D. Biersdorfer
O’Reilly Media, 2006
ISBN: 0-596-52675-X

For those new to the iPod experience, this book sets out to fill in all the gaps and make you comfortable in exploiting all the potential of your iPod.

This book is organised into the following chapters:
*    Meet the iPod
*    The iPod Sync Connection
*    The iPod Shuffle
*    Digital Audio Formats
*    iTunes for Macintosh and Windows
*    iPod Multimedia
*    The iTunes Music Store
*    iPod Games and Other Extras
*    The iPod as External Drive
*    Connecting the iPod
*    Hot Hacks and Cool Tools
*    Troubleshooting

For many of us the idea of a whole book on using an iPod seems overkill. But not so to others. Plus the iPod is actually quite complex, when you include syncing files, adding your calendar and address book details and using it as an external hard drive. When you then add the issues of converting video to work on a video iPod, you get an extremely complex situation with a lot to learn.

This book does a great job of covering all you need to know, whether you are on a Mac or a Windows PC. It covers all the bases mentioned above, plus loads more. There’s coverage of connecting the iPod to other equipment, like your car radio, using the iPod to make presentations, converting video to the right format for the iPod, etc. Plus, of course, good coverage of using iTunes to best advantage, sharing iTunes libraries and podcasting.

If you are new to the iPod and happy to read a book to get up to speed very quickly, this is the book for you.

Podcast Solutions

The Complete Guide to Podcasting
Podcast Solutions
The Complete Guide to Podcasting
By Michael W Geoghehan and Dan Klass
Friends of Ed, 2005
ISBN: 1 59059 554 8

Podcast Solutions

This is an amazing book. Yes, I have said that up front. It is a one-stop guide to podcasting, the phenomenon of webcasting of audio programs that has revolutionized radio, business, marketing and the sharing of information on the Internet.

The 240 pages of this book are divided into the following chapters:
*    Podcasting 101
*    Listening to Podcasts
*    Podcasting How-To
*    Planning your Podcast
*    Podcasting Tools
*    Recording your Podcast
*    Putting It All Together
*    Preparing Your File
*    Serving It Up
*    Getting Heard
*    Making Money with Podcasting
*    Glossary
*    Podcasting Resources at a Glance

This single book may not turn you into a podcasting expert but it will get you well on the way to producing effective and quality podcasts and delivering them in an appropriate way. The authors are experts and it shows in their advice, which is full of practical, experience-based information.

The book takes you through every stage and aspect of podcasting. This includes why you might want to podcast and how to make money from podcasts. It gets into the technical issues of what equipment you need for recording, including great advice on microphone choice. It then gets into the software you need and what processing you nedd or may want to do on the audio. The specifics of RSS feeds and how they relate to podcasting are covered in depth. Even issues of promoting your podcast and linking into the podcasting community are covered in depth.

Podcast Solutions

This is a fantastic book. It really is a one-stop shop of podcasting knowledge. The fact that it comes with a CD of software is a bonus. If you are contemplating podcasting you need to read this book. Get it, read it and keep it handy as an ongoing reference.

The Complete Guide to Digital Audio

A Comprehensive introduction to digital sound and music-making
The Complete Guide to Digital Audio
A Comprehensive introduction to digital sound and music-making
By Chris Middleton
Ilex Press, 2004
ISBN: 1 904705 14 6

Whether we work with video, Flash, animations, multimedia, games, digital slideshows or even pure audio, working with digital audio is part of almost all our futures, if not already our present.

The Complete Guide to Digital Audio

This 192-page book is divided into the following chapters:
*    Introduction
*    Be Careful Mr Beethoven
*    Basic Theory
*    Ring Those Decibels
*    What is Digital Recording?
*    So Where Am I Now?
*    Audio in the Digital World
*    Do I Need a Computer?
*    Help Me, I Want to …
*    Software-Only Solutions
*    So What Are the Packages?
*    An Introduction to Midi
*    The Battle of the Xs
*    Home Studio Setups
*    Effects and Processors
*    Monitors, Monitoring and Mastering
*    Future Views and Views From the Top

Digital audio in all its facets is a complex area and has many aspects that are difficult for a non-audio person to get their head around at first. This book is not a step-by-step walkthrough of a piece of audio software but rather a higher level look at how digital audio works, what tools you need, what you can do to manipulate audio digitally, how all the pieces fit together and to setup a great studio.

The book is well illustrated and despite the date of publication is highly up to date. It is packed with solid information and you would not go wrong to follow it. I think the discussion in the book about the issues between software only and mixed hardware/software solutions  is well put despite the complexity of this topic.

The Complete Guide to Digital Audio

If you start with this book you will get a solid start on digital audio. From there the addition of a book of two about the particular software you are using and lots of practice will get you into an excellent position and producing good work. I’ve used this book as a teaching reference for my multimedia students and it has worked well. A great book.

Apple iPhone a yawn

The new Apple/Motorola mobile/cell phone does not impress
The new Motorola ROKR cell phone with iTunes really fails to impress
me. It only handles 100 songs and also it is based on a fairly
uninspiring phone. All a bit of a yawn. My new cell phone, the Sony
Ericsson K750i plays music and takes a Sony Memory Stick of up to 1GB
(currently) and 4GB when available. This is a much more serious player,
just that it doesn’t play nicely with iTunes and I have to manually
drag files over to it. Ther eis also the issue of whether Apple fans
really want a Motorola phone design, or want that Apple flair.

So what does it mean? Well it does show Apple’s intention to milk the
iTunes/iPod for as much as it can and a willingness to go into new
product areas. So we can but hope that this is just a first, tiny step
in a longer journey that will bring us phones designed with that Apple
flair.

Unsuitable for Podcasts

Many MP3 players lack certain features that make then useable for listening to podcasts, seminars and other long material
The shift to MP3 players as replacements or additions to CD players,
either portable or in cars and homes, offers many real advantages.
However many of these devices are quite unsuitable when it comes to
listening to podcasts, seminar recordings, business and marketing
practice tapes and recordings of college/university lectures.

MP3 players evolved with a heavy focus on listening to music. In the
main original market, this meant collections to fairly short tracks. So
the controls evolved along these lines, easy controls to skip tracks
forwards or backwards, menues of tracks and playlists, remembering
which track you were on when the unit switches off, etc. For popular
music, this all works very well.

Podcasts, lecture recordings and motivational works or talking books,
on the other hand, are characteristed by a smaller number of longer
duration tracks. Lately I’ve been testing some MP3 players. Because I
often listen to podcasts or seminar recordings in the car, I’ve been
trying them out with such material, as well as my usual choice of
music: jazz, gregorian chants, celtic music and 13th Century French
secular music. Let’s consider two MP3 players I’ve had here for
sometime and that I have been experimenting with: the Samsung YEPP and
the XIRO 128MB player. Both will remember which track you are on but
forget just where you were in the track. This is really annoying when,
say, you drive somewhere listing to a one and a half hour lecture and
get half way through when you get to your destination. The unit
switches off when you have left it in pause for some time and forgets
where you are. Then to make this worse, the fast forward and back
controls only advance at a pretty slow rate, making it very time
consuming to advance quickly forwards. The iRiver H-10 I also have does
remember where you are and has a similar very slow fast forward.
Apple’s iPod allows you to scrub through a recording using the control
wheel, but is also not as quick at fast forward as I would like.

So, to me, there need to be a few things added to new MP3 players to
get the best possible use out of them. Firstly they all need to
remember where you are in a track when they turn off. Secondly they
need a logarithmic fast forward and reverse control. This could either
offer varying speeds of advance as you move the control further to
start off slow and accelerate as you hold the control or spin the wheel
for longer. Thirdly, for the larger units, they should offer high
quality recording as a built-in option that doesn’t require anything
else and have a microphone jack for the use of external microphones.
This would help podcasters, students and many others.

There’s the challenge. Let’s see who is the first manufacturer to do it properly.