Monday, December 20, 2010

My Mac-up bag. Part the Second.

Get it? Make-up bag, Mac-up bag. Oh God, that even embarrasses me and I'm the one who said it.

Continued from a few days ago, some not-in-the box necessities for me.

Text Expander

One of the great things about Snow Leopard, 10.6, is the ability in the Keyboard preference pane on System Preferences to add keyboard shortcuts. OMG, what took Apple so long. So if you just want to make a shortcut for say, your name, you need not spend the extra cash for a snippet editor like Text Expander, but if you regularly need to add longer snippets, or even want to add an image (like a scanned signature) then this may be one your most useful apps. I use it and love it. From the creators:

Save time and effort with TextExpander! Whether it's a simple email signature or several paragraphs of a standard response, you'll love how easy it is to use TextExpander to avoid typing the same thing over and over.
check markSave thousands of keystrokes by using short abbreviations to insert "snippets" containing frequently-used phrases and images
check markInsert standard greetings and signatures — including formatted text and pictures
check markAssign hotkeys to save even more time when creating, editing and searching your snippets.
check markReposition the cursor in the expanded snippet, or use our new fill-in-the-blank snippets to enter variable data in multiple fields.
check markOrganize snippets into groups
check markAdd snippet groups from external files and online sources
check markSync snippets via MobileMe or Dropbox
check markInsert the current date and time in any format you prefer
check markAdd common typos to your snippet library—TextExpander will automatically correct them for you! (more info)
check markType special characters without having to launch a special characters palette
check markTrigger snippet expansions automatically by typing the abbreviations you specify, or use any one of over 30 delimiter characters as a trigger
check markPosition the cursor wherever you want in your expanded snippet
check markProgrammers: make editor-independent code templates; invoke AppleScripts and shell scripts

$50, discounts for multiple copies

Musicians are always listening to recordings to learn new licks. One of the most useful digital learning tools is a music slow downer. There are a few on the market. I used to use's  Amazing Slowdowner ( But for the last 7 or 8 years I have used Seventh String's Transcribe! And that exclamation mark is not editorial, it's part of the application title. In my other line of work,  as a musician (talk about slowdowns (!!),thanks to the banking industry and Ponzi outlaws), I listen to alot of old scratchy recordings. I can pop a music file in Transcribe! and mark a section, and listen to what the hell that Gypsy fiddler is doing at any speed and any pitch. It is not exactly a pretty interface, but it sure makes that work easier. Now if people will start buying live music again.

From the creator:
The Transcribe! application is an assistant for people who sometimes want to work out a piece of music from a recording, in order to write it out, or play it themselves, or both. It doesn't do the transcribing for you, but it is essentially a specialised player program which is optimised for the purpose of transcription. It has many transcription-specific features not found on conventional music players.
It is also used by many people for play-along practice. It can change pitch and speed instantly, and you can store and recall any number of named loops. 

Amadeus Pro
$40 Single License, $25 Upgrade
Is this the best time for me to admit I am not a Garage Band user? Amadeus is my sound editor of choice. My needs are not too complicated, to be sure. But I have cut several demos with this. The interface is simple, it has enough editing tools  (like signal boosting, limiters, crossfades, etc.) I use this to take out long silences and do simple fixes. And with Transcribe! (above), iTunes and this, my workflow with sound files is pretty smooth. From the creators:
Amadeus Pro is a powerful multitrack audio editor supporting a variety of formats including MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, Apple Lossless, AIFF, Wave and many others.
Multitrack editor 

Amadeus Pro is a fully featured multitrack editor. Each track can have its volume adjusted independently from the others. Amadeus Pro fully supports multitrack WAVE files and allows you to render sound on up to 5 different loudspeakers simultaneously.

Batch processing 

There's that whole collection of files that you wanted to convert to Mp3, but you first wanted to normalize them and make them fade in and out nicely. Several hours of work in perspective? Let Amadeus Pro do the work for you! The powerful batch processor allows you not only to convert large numbers of files between any of the supported formats, but you can also instruct Amadeus Pro to apply any sequence of sound effects.

Repair centre

The handy repair centre allows you to find and to repair cracks with a simple click of the mouse. Furthermore, Amadeus Pro's powerful denoising functions allow you to easily get rid of that annoying hiss on your old tape recordings or of that 50Hz hum picked up by a badly insulated microphone.

By the way, check this out. 

Yes, that's us. We play Jewish instrumental music from the Carpathian Bow. Not your mother's klezmer, but her mother's. We look like this:

And here's another group of outlaws I play with.  That's me with Hank Sapoznik on tenor guitar and Mark Rubin on Tuba at Bud's BBQ in Richmond, VA and together we are Hank Sapoznik and The Youngers of Zion.

Don't forget, this holiday season, hire a musician or 3!

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