The Next Track, Episode #212 – Caoilfhionn Rose’s Second Album, Truly

We’re happy to welcome back Caoilfhionn Rose to discuss the recording and release of her second album Truly. Caoilfhionn is a young singer from Manchester, and continues the lineage of great music from that city.

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Support The Next Track.

Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

Write Now with Scrivener, Episode No. 2: Dan Moren, Science Fiction Author, Journalist, and Podcaster

Dan Moren juggles a triple career: that of a science fiction author, tech journalist, and podcaster. He discusses his the “sci-fi espionage capers” he writes, how he transitioned from journalism to fiction, and how he has used Scrivener to write each of his novels.

Read more on the Scrivener Blog.

Learn more about Scrivener, and check out the ebook Take Control of Scrivener.

If you like the podcast, please follow it in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Leave a rating or review, and tell your friends. And check out past episodes of Write Now with Scrivener.

Kirk’s Picks No. 3 – Robert Fripp, Music for Quiet Moments [Music]

Robert Fripp’s Music for Quiet Moments is a series of soundscapes he has released every week for the past year. I link to an Apple Music playlist of all 52 of these tracks, lasting nearly nine hours.

Theme music: Honest Labor, composed and performed by Timo Andres.

If you enjoyed the podcast, follow it on Apple Podcasts or in your favorite podcast app. For show notes and links to my pick, go to kirkville.com/picks. You can support this podcast by purchasing items via my affiliate links, or you can sign up for my Patreon and donate a few bucks a month.

What Apple’s new iMac lost by getting so thin – The Washington Post

In this Washington Post article, Geoffrey A. Fowler has a lot of complaints about the new iMac, but are they all founded?

Apple’s newly redesigned iMac measures just 0.45 inches thick. That’s a hair thinner than the original iPhone. It’s thin enough to wedge under a wobbly table.

But to make a desktop computer that incredibly slender, something had to go. Unfortunately, left on the chopping block were some capabilities you might actually want in a $1,300 desktop computer.

Okay, so let’s look at them.

Gone are the large USB ports many of us still use to plug in gear.

He’s talking about USB-A ports, which are being replaced on all Macs by USB-C, which is better in many ways. This is the first iMac to have only USB-C ports, but this is a trend that is going to continue. We have moved on from serial ports, FireWire ports, and it’s time to move on from USB-A. USB-C can also be Thunderbolt ports, for much faster data and to connect displays and other peripherals.

Gone, too, is the ability to later upgrade your memory.

This has been the case on the 21.5″ iMac for several years. The 27″ lets you upgrade RAM, and perhaps the replacement for the 27″ will not allow this, because of Apple’s new system on a chip.

This iMac is no longer even an all-in-one computer: Apple had to move the power supply to an external brick like on a laptop.

Seriously? He’s complaining about this? I recall Apple displays that had separate power bricks, but whatevs.

I had been eagerly awaiting this iMac to replace my 5-year-old model.

If he had a five-year old iMac, and it had memory slots, then it was the 27″ model. The last 21.5″ iMac to have memory slots dates back to late 2013. Apples and oranges, as it were.

The arguments for a thin desktop computer are more of a stretch. There may be people who only care that this iMac is cuter. Apple believes it’s redefining the desktop computer into a device that can be at home in a kitchen or living room, or even picked up.

They didn’t make it thin because of any desire to call it thin, they made it thin because it made sense. The iMac is essentially a display with the guts of a laptop. There is really nothing behind the display, all the guts are in the “chin” at the bottom of the computer. Why make it thicker if there is no need to make it thicker?

Now the iMac has an external power brick. Maybe you’ll just throw yours on the floor, or maybe it’s one more thing for your cat to chew on.

Um…

Next, Apple cut the ports on the back of the computer. The new iMac only works with smaller USB-C plugs, which can do lots of things but don’t fit many of the cables and devices we already own in a larger shape known as USB-A.

As I said above, we’re moving to all USB-C. It’s not just Apple, this is an industry-wide change. You can get a hub for $20 to connect your USB-A peripherals.

Apple also cut the flash-card reader included in past iMacs, making one more thing photographers need to buy.

This is true. But as more and more cameras have USB-C ports, it’s become easier to connect a camera via a cable rather than take the SD card out; that’s what I do with mine. If not, $20 gets you a good SD card reader. Or you can get a USB hub which has an SD card reader.

Even the basic Ethernet port, used in many schools and offices to hardwire Internet connections, was too big. Instead, Apple stuck Ethernet into the power brick, and charges $30 extra for it.

First he complains about having too many cables on the back of the iMac, now he wants Ethernet there. I think it’s better in the power brick; one less cable to get tangled behind the computer. And a better way to consider the price is that you save $27 (not $30) if you don’t want Ethernet. And this is only on the cheapest model; the other models have Ethernet standard. And, there are lots of USB hubs that also have Ethernet jacks.

What this means is that anybody who plugs things into a computer either has to abandon old devices — for me, including backup drives, a DVD player and a lifetime’s worth of thumb drives — or buy a bunch of unsightly adapters known as dongles. By the time I plugged in mine, the back of the sleek iMac looked like a rat’s nest.

Two words: USB hub.

Also fixed in place: the iMac’s hard drive.

There’s no hard drive in the iMac.

And what about when your iMac inevitably just can’t keep up in six years? As recently as 2014, iMacs could transform into a monitor for another computer. But Apple no longer supports what it calls “target display mode.”

His 2014 iMac was the last model to support target dispaly mode.

Apple’s appliance mind-set is also self-serving, because it means we have to keep buying new stuff. You may already have a box of old iPads and iPhones you aren’t using after upgrading. Now you can add an iMac to the pile.

Um…

Source: What Apple’s new iMac lost by getting so thin – The Washington Post

Kirk’s Picks No. 2 – Lake Pictures, Lucinda Devlin [Photobook]

My pick this episode is Lake Pictures, a book of photos by Lucinda Devlin. This book is a series of photos of Lake Huron, showing the water, the sky, and the horizon on different days and at different times. It is very relaxing to look at.

Theme music: Honest Labor, composed and performed by Timo Andres.

If you enjoyed the podcast, follow it on Apple Podcasts or in your favorite podcast app. For show notes and links to my pick, go to kirkville.com/picks. You can support this podcast by purchasing items via my affiliate links, or you can sign up for my Patreon and donate a few bucks a month.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode #192: New Features Coming in macOS Monterey, iOS 15, and iPadOS 15

Apple issued a security update for iOS 12, and we wonder why. Google backtracks on a Chrome address bar change. New stats show an increasing in phishing sites. And we discuss the new features in Apple’s next operating systems, due out in the fall.

Follow the The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Kirk’s Picks No. 1 – Jiro Dreams of Sushi [Film]

Welcome to the first episode of Kirk’s Picks. I plan to publish two or three episodes of the podcast a week, and episodes will never be longer than five minutes. I’ll talk about books, music, film, tech gadgets, apps, and anything else that I’ve come across recently.

My pick this episode is Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about Jiro Ono, one of the world’s best sushi chefs, and head of the first sushi restaurant to get a Michelin three-star rating.

Theme music: Honest Labor, composed and performed by Timo Andres.

If you enjoyed the podcast, follow it on Apple Podcasts or in your favorite podcast app. For show notes and links to my pick, go to kirkville.com/picks. You can support this podcast by purchasing items via my affiliate links, or you can sign up for my Patreon and donate a few bucks a month.

Distraction-Free Writing with Scrivener

It’s hard to work on a computer these days. With lots of windows, notifications from your email and social media apps, and other distractions, it’s hard to stay focused. When you’re writing in Scrivener, whether you’re working on a novel, a thesis, or a play, you want to give your full attention to your work, and not be distracted by a friend who just sent a link to another cute cat video… (Though, to be fair, watching cute cat videos is a good way to take a break, when it’s the right time.)

Scrivener has a few features that let you shut out the rest of what’s happening on your computer and write without distractions. Here’s how to use Composition Mode, and more.

Read the rest of the article on The L&L Blog.

To learn how to use Scrivener for Mac, Windows, and iOS, check out my book Take Control of Scrivener 3.

Why Hi-Res Lossless Music from Apple Music Won’t Sound Different when Played on Macs (Unless You Change a Setting)

I haven’t written much about Apple’s new foray into lossless, high-resolution, and Dolby Atmos music. I’ve written about high-resolution music plenty over the years, and it’s clear that, for the vast majority of listeners, it’s just marketing and won’t make a difference.

But Apple has added music formats that can’t even be played back on Macs, without changing a hidden setting. Here’s why.

I started playing this album, which is marked Hi-Res Lossless. High-resolution music has both bit depths and sample rates that are higher than the standard 16-bit, 44.1 kHz. So to play it back correctly, your Mac has be able to play the music at those settings. And it won’t, at least not out of the box.

Open the Audio-MIDI Setup app, which is in /Applications/Utilities. You’ll see the sample rate that your Mac is using.

Audio midi

The Music app doesn’t cause this to change automatically, so you’ll need to change it. And while you can probably leave it set to 96,000 Hz all the time, this could cause problems if you’re playing back music at other sample rates.

Audiophiles who have libraries of high resolution have been complaining about this for years, and because of this setting, alternative music player apps, which can adjust for sample rates, have become popular in that niche. I would have expected that Apple would have resolved this issue when they started offering high-resolution music.

Note that there’s no way to know the correct sample rate of the music, if you’re streaming it from Apple Music. Even if you’ve added an Apple Music track to your library, select a track, press Command-I, then check the File tab, it won’t dispaly the sample rate. In fact, it doesn’t even say that it’s high resolution.

No sample rate

These files don’t display their bit rate, so you can’t even calculate backwards from the file size to know what the actual resolution is. In this example, the file is 37.2 MB, which, according to this audio file size calculator, fits the size for a file at 1040 kbps. That’s quite low for a 24-bit, 96 kHz file, so it’s clear that it’s hard to figure this out.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand any of this; it’s not meant for you. Those who understand what I’m talking about will know what it means. As for the rest, just enjoy the music.

Update: As a correspondant pointed out, you can see the bit depth and sample rate if you don’t have Dolby Atmos on in the Playback preferences of the Music app. Click the Lossless icon in the LCD to see that information in a popup.

Bit rate lossless

But if tracks have Dolby Atmos, you can’t see that information.

Lefsetz Letter » Spatial Audio

I got the following e-mail from a producer/engineer:

“I just want to try and alert you to the potential seismic scam happening with this Atmos roll out.  Atmos catalog remixing is being done by the truckload in a handful of Nashville, LA, and NYC rooms right now and has been for a couple of years, and almost none of it is being overseen or approved by the artist or original producer or mixer.  And these versions- according to Apple- will be the new standard versions, superseding the original versions, now designated by Apple to the dustbin of history.

I have heard some Atmos mixes which were indeed an improvement.  However, most are not.  

[…]

In the rush to make content for Apple, labels are jamming this crap out with little QC and -again- almost no input from artists.  This format has real potential but if they continue to try and tell us that shit like this ‘new’ version of ‘What’s Going On’ is better than then original, then it will be seen as a counterfeit and a fraud, and will go the way of the Home Pod.   I know how you feel about catalog being remixed and this has potential to be a worst case scenario.”

And then my inbox filled up with more, and iMessage started to ring from other professional engineers.

Bob Lefsetz discusses Apple’s spatial audio, wendering whether this really is the future of music.

I compared Spatial Audio tracks to their HD equivalents on Amazon Music and I found exactly what one writer said: the vocal gets lost. Instead of being up front and in your face, it’s buried more in the mix.

His opinion of the concept is quite clear:

Actually, the more I listen to these Spatial Audio cuts, the more offensive they become. Kind of like those Beatles remixes. These are not the original records, they’ve been messed with, they’re not even facsimiles, they’re bastardizations.

As many are saying, if a record is produced for spatial audio, then it could be a good creative tool. Just imagine Dark Side of the Moon in Dolby Atmos. But…

So, maybe there’s a future for Spatial Audio…if it’s mixed that way to begin with. But as demonstrated now, it’s a hell-bent drive in the wrong direction.

Source: Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Spatial Audio