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Splitting mp3's

It's pragmatism vs. principal, really. 'Shuffles and the like are convenient because they come with built-in rechargable batteries. If people are given a choice they will be lazy (need built-in functionality) or irresponsible (using non-rechargeable batteries). So these mp3 players with built-in rechargables are good -- for the first year or so as nobody will replace them unless the value of the original item was pretty high -- like $250+. So basically all of these people are spending quite a bit of money ($100 for a Flash player vs. $20 for a CD walkman or $9 for a FM radio) for something they are just going to throw away after an extremely short lifespan.

To me this is wreckless and irresponsible. Yes, technology moves quickly -- but why did you buy that mp3 player in the first place? As a fashion accessory? Then fine. But if you purchased it to play music then it should be expected to perform for quite a while.

So this is just a long-winded endorsement of mp3 players that run on AAAs. If you use rechargable batteries in these little guys you should get quite a few miles of music out of them, and be a responsible technology citizen.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on August 16, 2005 | Comments (0)

Quark vs. InDesign a Quark Users Opinion

quark_attack.jpg While inDesign is the only layout program I'll consider, partly out of integration with other Adobe products, ease of use, and a better company motto (Adobe:"paranoid", Quark:"evil"), I'll be the first to admit that my needs are pretty simple; I "design" my own invoices which I rip to .pdf and email to clients. The extent of the features I use are: templates for page headers/footers and importing of screen shots for web statistics.

Since I've heard very few disparaging things said about inDesign (vs. that fact that the print world is very "old school" and is filled with old designers that don't want to learn new tricks (or programs) and that print shops have been slow to add inDesign as an accepted file type) I thought it would be good to get an opinion about this from a heavy desginer who lives in print-page layouts. Mr. Carns of Carns Concepts had this to say:

"Quark is still consistently better in every way. Other than Quark doing everything slightly better, I have three major complaints with ID:

1. InDesign takes 3-5X longer to process everything, from importing pictures, to moving objects, to scrolling pages. ID has been disastrous with big documents.

2. My main reason to use a layout program is to control the fonts through style sheets. I set styles to fonts throughout the document then edit the style sheet once to make the universal change. Quark does this flawlessly. InDesign does not. ID will not apply a style to most text created on a PC (which is most text in a corporate world). ID does not update styles consistently. ID support says that it's a flaw with ID. That's a big flaw. So most of the time designers
wil change the fonts individually. It could be 10 edits on every page of a 100 page document. InDesign = 1000 edits, Quark = 1.

3. I've heard all of the marketing hype, but in the real world, ID files are rarely accepted. Yes we can export as a PDF, but pubs need the native document for type edits or to adjust the size. Almost all pubs are still using Quark.

I wish ID would have spent more time on development and less time on marketing. As the saying goes: A great ad campaign is the fastest way to make a bad product fail."

He later added:

"I've decided that InDesign is for stoners. Quark is for Coffee junkies. To apply color to a font in ID the user must first click of the box icon then on the text icon. ID will apply color to the stroke and not the fill, so I must click on the fill and off the stroke. This has to be the logic of a stoner. If I select a text box, I'm going to apply color to the font 90%, not the stroke or box. How is it OK to add three extra steps to a one step function?"

End of story? Surely not, but good to have as part of the much larger discussion.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on August 11, 2005 | Comments (1)

Bringing Home the Windows Media and "Real" Bacon

VLCUsing VLC version 0.8.0 (or higher) one can now "record" Windows Media and Real streaming videos for later playback.

The basic idea:
- Copy the URL
- Set up VLC to record as "raw" uncompressed data to your computer
- Rename to the appropriate file name

Here are some visual instructions:
(1) Copy the video stream source
Step One: Copy link source

(2) Go into VLC and Choose: File/Open Network...
Step Two: Open Media Stream

(3) Select "HTTP/FTP/MMS/RTSP" and paste your URL in the field
(4) Check "Advanced output:" and click "Settings"
Step Three: Settings

(5) Select "File" and "Browse" to choose where the file will be saved
(6) Check "Dump raw output" and click "OK" twice and you'll be recording
Step Four: Destination and Format

(7) You may not see many visible signs of progress while recording, other than the little diamond scrolling across the LCD window. You can either wait until the diamond reaches the right, or open Window/Messages and watch the progress. The messages window will report when the file has been completed.
Step Five: Recording and Status
Step Six: End of Program

(8) Once your file is complete, change the extension from .raw to the proper one for the kind of stream you recorded -- .wmv for Windows Media or .rma for Real Media.

Note: Users have reported that once they have a .wmv file on their computer that it plays fine on their Mac but loses sound when copied to a Windows PC. At press time we do not know of any solutions to this problem.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on August 5, 2005 | Comments (0)