Past Meetings

09 - 30 - 2005


Five people attended the September meeting of the H'port MUG: Tom B, Bob S, Bill N, Ed K and Jim P. After a short lunch and coffee, several presentations were made focusing on sound in macs.

In OSX, alert sounds are somewhat limited in personalizing. In OS9 the Sound Control Panel allows a brief recording of your own voice, music or noise as an alert option. In word processers such as TextEdit, Appleworks and Simpletext, selected text can be audibly read by the computer. Just select the proper command from desktop menu

In OSX, a System Preference called Universal Access provides some interesting enhancements for seeing / hearing -impaired users (which is most of us now adays). The display screen can be set to flash when an audio alert sounds. Also the contrast (and color) of the display can be increased to pure black and white, which helps a lot on a laptop being used outdoors in bright light.

In OS9, Voice Verification can be used to create a password which identifies your unique voice qualities.Go to Apple Menu > Control Panels > Multiple Users > Multiple User Account :On > Options > check Allow Voice Verification. Save. Open > Alternate Password > Create Voiceprint. Then just follow the steps to record your voice 4 times.

Also in OS9, your Mac can perform simple tasks activated by voice commands. Go to the Apple Menu > Control Panels > Speech and select the option to turn on Speakable Items. A list of commands is available such as "Open SimpleText", "Close window", "Restart computer", "Tell me a joke", etc.

SayApp - tiny, free application for OSX which speaks what you type (download 56k)

In OSX, a small free application called Audacity is a handy way to quickly capture a voice, song inspiration or live instrument in a couple clicks. The file can be exported as AIFF or MP3, or saved in the Audacity format AUP for future editing.

Apple's GarageBand was explored briefly in OSX also. With a slew of virtual instruments at your beck and call, the high quality sound samples laid down in overlapping tracks will make any frustrated hippie musician relive his 60's aspirations to be famous. GarageBand can only be purchased in a package of software called iLife ($79).

A cheaper cool tool to compose, arrange and score music is Myriad's Melody Assistant (both OSX and OS8-9 versions available). Choosing from a plethora of composing formats (such as 4-voice choir, Gregorian chant, string quartet or 12-bar piano/bass), you write your notation note by note, Then hit the spacebar to play/stop the music. Melody Assistant can be used for free but a $15 share fee opens up additional options such as exporting in a variety of formats, including MIDI.

iTunes can convert songs from any CD. The new files are MPEG4, a compression format which will shrink a 30MB file to 2MB without a discernible loss of quality. A nifty EQ window in iTunes provides some nice control over audio play quality. (Note: turn on the Full Screen Visualizer if you missed out on the LSD trips of the 60's).

Apple includes QuickTime with every OS and is a free way to easily play audio files. If you buy the Pro version for $29, you can export files in a variety of formats as well.

Another nifty (and free) sound-making application is Virtual Drummer. This will run on OS8-9-X (classic mode). A bank of percussion instruments can be selected, and a track of overlapping rhythms can be recorded and exported as AIFF or MIDI.

Rock, Rap 'n' Roll is another fun application which uses a bunch of short samples to build up very impressive soundtracks. Though somewhat dated (1990's), this app still works great in OS 8-9-X Classic and will make you want to spin on your head. View YouTube tutorial here.

2B1 - M.I.T. man invents $100 laptop to be distributed free throughout world for internet access for the poor. Read more about the 2B1 world project here.

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