Delete a Project in GarageBand 11

I’ve been fooling with Apple’s GarageBand 11 on my MacMini. In the process I created a bunch of test projects, none of which I had any intention of keeping. To my astonishment, I could find no way to delete unwanted projects from within the GarageBand application. Even a Google search didn’t turn up much relevant information, which was equally astonishing. Here’s how I was eventually able to delete the projects.

(This assumes you store your GarageBand projects in the default folder. If you don’t, you’re on your own to navigate to the correct folder in step 3.)

  1. Quit GarageBand (this isn’t really necessary but is a good idea).
  2. Open Spotlight search by either clicking the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the menu bar or hitting command-space bar.
  3. Type: garageband folder
  4. Hit enter. This should open a Finder window with the contents of the folder your GarageBand projects are stored in.
  5. Select the project(s) you wish to delete.
  6. Hit command-delete to send them to the trash folder.

Downloading YouTube Videos

I’m a big fan of YouTube and have used it for years. Naturally I’ve run across videos I’ve wanted to watch multiple times, and marked them as a “Favorite.” The problem is there is no guarantee they will be there the next time I want to watch them, as videos can be deleted for a variety of reasons.

Every once in a while I look for a way to download videos from YouTube and save them to my computer. The problem is that if you search for this on Google you are presented with a myriad of choices, and it’s impossible to tell which are legitimate. Many options require that you download and install a piece of software on your computer, and I am extremely leery of downloading anything from the Web, especially when it’s not from a trusted source.

After my most recent round of searching I have finally found a method that I trust, in the form of a website called KeepVid. You don’t need to download anything to use it; you simply paste the URL (Web address) of the video you want to download and hit Enter. KeepVid will present you with two links, one to a low quality and one to a high quality version of the video. (Since the low quality version is in Flash video format and requires a special video player to play it, I suggest sticking with the high quality version which plays via Apple’s QuickTime.)

There are a couple of things that lead me to conclude that KeepVid is safe: First, a Google search for opinions on KeepVid gave me numerous reassuring results (Norton Safe Web, a respected site, gives KeepVid a “Safe” rating). Second, if you look closely at the download links KeepVid gives you, you’ll see that you’re not downloading anything from KeepVid at all, you’re actually downloading the videos directly from YouTube. Apparently YouTube creates and stores download-able copies of the videos people upload; normally these files are hidden, but KeepVid is able to determine the location for these files and give you the results.

I have to admit I’m puzzled about the existence of sites like KeepVid. If YouTube wanted to allow people to download and save videos, why not just provide a direct link to do so on their website? Conversely, if YouTube didn’t want people to download videos, why don’t they take greater steps to protect the download-able files? Obviously they know about KeepVid and sites like it; KeepVid is popular and has been around for years. I suppose there is a good reason—legal, technical, financial, or otherwise. I’ll probably keep pondering this, but in the mean time I found a couple of videos of myself I’m saving for posterity!

Facebook

I joined Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/calabresechris.

I have to admit in the past I’ve thumbed my nose at “social networking” sites (my few excursions to MySpace gave me the impression that social networking was a frivolous time-waster), but FaceBook is quite sophisticated. After using it for a few days I can see why books about FaceBook are showing up in the Business sections of bookstores.

CBS Radio Mystery Theater

Growing up I didn’t watch much TV; I preferred radio instead. I listened to a mix of music and talk. I almost never missed a Dodger game. When I couldn’t find anything interesting I would listen to news, specifically, KNX 1070 News Radio.

I was listening to KNX one evening when the news, weather, and sports surprisingly stopped. In its place was the sound of a creaking door, ominous music, and an authoritative voice announcing: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

It was an hour long drama, and at that time (the late 1970s) there was nothing else like it on radio. I was instantly sucked in. I don’t remember the show that first night, all I remember was being enthralled, so much so that I had to tell all my school chums about it the next day (I think I was in the 7th or 8th grade at that point).

Listening to the show became a regular thing with me; it was how I ended my day. I loved it. I was particularly impressed with the show’s host, E. G. Marshall, who had a voice that was strong and sinister without being ghoulish. The voice actors were different every night, but Mr. Marshall was always there, and I became a fan.

As I got older and my social life took up more of my time I listened to the show less frequently. I never forgot about it though, and decided to look it up on the Internet and see if perhaps it was still in production. It is not; according to Wikipedia the show ended in 1982. However, I was delighted to discover that every one of the original shows—all 1,399 of them—are available for free online in downloadable MP3 format at mysteryshows.com.

Now I’m listening to them again. Boy does that bass clarinet bring back memories.

Japanese Game Shows

Japan has some crazy game shows. They tend to be part game show, part talk show, and part slapstick comedy. Many times they involve some kind of physical stunt that designed not only to challenge the contestant, but also provide belly laughs for the home viewer.

I found one of the funniest I’ve ever seen on YouTube here. The clip is called “Human Tetris,” although I think that’s an English pseudonym. Understanding the language is not required to enjoy the clip.

Also be sure to catch this hilarious Japanese game show parody from Saturday Night Live.

Amazon.com MP3 Downloads

Bottom line: Two big thumbs up!!!

I’ve used many different methods to store music over the years, but recently that method has been digital. I have converted (over the course of several months) my entire CD collection to MP3 format and store it on a portable hard drive.

There are many ways to purchase new music that’s already in digital format, but most of these involve what’s known as Digital Rights Management (DRM), commonly called “copy protection.” I don’t like DRM, primarily because there is no uniform way it’s implemented. If I buy music from one service, I may have to use their proprietary software to play it instead of the software of my choosing. Further, portable digital music players (like the iPod) only support a limited set of DRM, so if I buy one of these devices from a particular manufacturer I am limited to purchasing music from services that support the DRM of the hardware I purchased. Additionally, DRM restricts how I can use the music I purchased by limiting what I can do with it. I need to burn music to CDs to listen in my car, but with DRM I’m limited in the number of times I can do that before the music “locks” and becomes useless. I know all of this DRM stuff probably sounds confusing; in my opinion it is.

MP3 eliminates all of the hassle and confusion. The MP3 format is universal, and supported by all modern digital music software. MP3 files can play back on almost everything that can play digital music, every computer, every portable digital music player, even my low-end DVD player can play disks with MP3s on them. MP3 files never “lock,” and allow me to use the music I purchased in the manner I choose.

I’m not a market researcher, but I think people are tired of the DRM. Companies like Apple have been talking about selling music without DRM. Amazon.com is stepping up to the plate and actually doing it, and they’re doing it right by using the MP3 format. They have a huge library of MP3-format songs already available for sale on their website, and I’m sure this will only grow. The MP3 format is versatile in that it can encode music at different levels of quality; Amazon.com is using a high-quality level which is indistinguishable from listening to a CD. Additionally, the price for their DRM-free music is the same as other services which use DRM.

Amazon.com allows purchasing of individual songs or an entire CD in MP3 format. So far I’ve purchased a couple of full CDs this way. When your purchase the entire CD, you have to use Amazon.com’s software application to download the music. Although I was hesitant at first, their software is easy to install, very convenient (it is a toolbar application which downloads the music in the background and requires no coddling), and works perfectly.

I could not be more pleased with what Amazon.com is doing and how they are doing it. Downloading an album in MP3 format is less expensive than purchasing a CD, and since I simply encode CDs into MP3 format and store them in a closet anyway Amazon.com is saving me time, storage space, and money. I hope their MP3 downloading service flourishes. I suspect other music downloading services will either have to follow suit or go out of business.

Here are some links of interest regarding digital music:

Amazonmp3.com – You can search for MP3 downloads from Amazon.com’s regular search box (they will show up in searches for music), but they have set up this special domain name to take you directly to the MP3 area of their website.

I Hate DRM – As you can tell by the title, the owner of this site doesn’t like DRM either. I Hate DRM focuses on the business ethics of DRM, and while I personally dislike DRM primarily for the technical aspects rather than the ethical I do agree with a lot of what this site has to say.

emusic – For the sake of completeness I should mention that other services have always offered music downloads in MP3-format, notably emusic. However, in my experience the selection of music they offer is limited, and in the case of emusic you are required to purchase a monthly subscription instead of purchasing the songs you want on an individual basis. While I applaud these services for using DRM-free MP3, I much prefer Amazon.com’s sales model. Hopefully Amazon.com will break new ground and allow other MP3 services like emusic to grow.

Wollensak Reel to Reel Magnetic Tape Recorder – My parents had one of these! In fact they still have it! It was my first tape recorder. Completely DRM free!

Star Trek Convention

I went to my first Star Trek Convention this past weekend, held at the Las Vegas Hilton. Let me state for the record that while I enjoy watching Star Trek on occasion, I’m not a “Trekkie“; I was simply curious to see what one of these things was like.

If you have a preconceived notion of what a Star Trek convention might be like, you are probably right—I was. There were people walking around in costumes (although fewer than I was expecting), theaters set up for presentations, an autograph area, and a vendors’ area.

One theater was smallish and seemed to be geared towards the hard-core Trek fans, and the other held several thousand people and offered multimedia presentations and appearances by cast members from the various Star Trek series. I spent about 90 minutes in the large theater, catching the tail end of a presentation on a forthcoming DVD re-issue of the original series, and a question-and-answer session with Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner, two central cast members from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Predictably these two got a rock-star’s reception, and spent most of their time telling jokes and bantering back and forth.

The vendors’ area had two or three dozen different booths, all selling pretty much what you’d expect—Star Trek memorabilia, artwork, toys and the like. There was also a healthy dose of Star Wars items, which I was a little surprised about as I had thought hard-core Trek fans looked down on Star Wars (and vice versa).

One of the highlights of the convention was meeting Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher on the “Next Generation” series. While other cast members required a special ticket to meet and get an autograph, I was surprised to run across a small table in the vendors’ area where he was sitting, selling personally-autographed copies of his new book and spending as much time talking to people as they desired. I bought a copy of his book, chatted with him for several minutes, took a picture together, and asked him to sign my convention program. He was an extremely nice fellow and I am enjoying his book.

What surprised me the most about the convention how small it was. I am used to computer conventions where you can spend an entire weekend and not see everything. I spent only a few afternoon hours at the Star Trek Convention, during which was I able to see a couple of presentations, have a long lunch, and walk the vendors’ area about four times.

All in all it was an enjoyable experience, satisfied my curiosity, and was worth the $35 admission.

Starfleet Poodles

More Nat “King” Cole in Japanese

In a previous post I talked about the shock of finding a recording of Nat “King” Cole singing “L-O-V-E” in Japanese. A friend of mine from Tokyo, Shimada-San, recently sent me the other item I had been searching for—a recording of Nat singing “Autumn Leaves” in Japanese. Thank you Shimada-San!

The interesting difference between the Japanese versions of “L-O-V-E” and “Autumn Leaves” is that “Autumn Leaves” uses a different instrumental background than the original English-language recording. The original contains an orchestral horn solo in the middle of the song; in the Japanese version that is replaced with a guitar solo. I’m guessing this is to appeal to Japanese tastes, as the guitar emulates a shamisen, a Japanese stringed instrument similar to a guitar.

If you’re interested you can listen to a 30-second sample. According to my research, this is the only other recording of Nat Cole singing in Japanese. Please let me know if I’m wrong!

Nat “King” Cole Sings Japanese

I’m a big fan of Nat “King” Cole. He was a class act, an influential and ground-breaking pianist, and a vocalist whose smoothness, swing, and sensitivity few can match.

Toshiba J-Pop Oldies CollectionI am also a fan of Japanese music, everything from traditional kabuki to modern-day J-pop. On my last visit to Japan I purchased several J-pop “oldies” CD collections. One gem I found was a 4-CD collection of 100 hits from the 1950s and 60s. Most of these are remakes of American rock and pop songs, everything from “Jailhouse Rock” to “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” Nearly all of these were recorded by Japanese performers—all except for one. The song “L-O-V-E” was a pop hit for Nat Cole in the 1960s, and I nearly fell off my seat when I heard the man himself singing this tune in Japanese! I knew he had recorded an album in Spanish, but I had no idea he had recorded anything in Japanese. After a little Web searching I discovered he also recorded “Autumn Leaves” in Japanese (my guess is this pair of songs was originally released on a 45), but I have not yet been able to find a copy of this recording.

So how is Nat’s Japanese? It’s obvious someone wrote out the Japanese lyrics phonetically, and Nat sang them as written with no attempt at a natural-sounding accent. You can hear for yourself in a 30-second sample. Enjoy.