April 1, 2012 Meeting

April 1st ByMUG Meeting Notes

iTunes Demonstration and Ripping in General, by Thomas Leroux

From settings, to importing music, to purchasing music from the iTunes Store and other music sites, Tom covered MPEG Streamclip (which helps to rip the audio from a DVD), to how to rip music CDs in iTunes.

To Rip Audio CDs in iTunes:

Go to the iTunes Preferences, under the General tab.  You’ll need to instruct iTunes on what to do when you insert a music CD into your computer.  Select “Import and Eject” for the easiest way.  When the CD is inserted, iTunes will automatically recognize it, import the music, identify the track names (need Internet connection), and once done, eject the CD.  Easy sneezy.

When selecting a song, you have the choice of selecting a different file format, including with the AIFF Encoder, which is used to preserve a song and its qualities.

It needs to be noted that all the encoders are supported in Windows, as long as you’re using iTunes.

By default, the AAC Encoder is selected.  It is the best format for portability, but not the best way to store your music.

For sound quality, you have several choices: High Quality, iTunes Plus, and Spoken Podcast.  iTunes Plus is fine.

Note: Always keep Error Correction turned on.  This will help when there are scratches or other issues with the DVD.

Q:  iTunes on PPC machines.

A: iTunes is still Universal, so there shouldn’t be a problem installing the latest (10.6.1) version on a PPC machine.

Renting and Purchasing Online Videos Through the iTunes Store, by Thomas Leroux

If you see a free badge on a song label, you will not be charged to download it.  However, you will be asked for your password before it begins to download to your iTunes collection.

Note: In Canada, we get two free songs each week: One in English, and one in French.

To buy a song, search for it, select it, then select the item in the Price column.  Once you agree to purchase it, the song will begin to download.

Note: Your password remains in memory for ten minutes, so if within that allotted time, you won’t be asked again for your password again.

To purchase television shows, it’s the same deal.  Look for it, point to it, then select it in the Price column.  However, iTunes has something called the Season Pass which allows, for a single price to get the entire season.

Note: A full season of a television series, on DVD, will go for about $40 when it comes out.  Sometimes, getting the entire digital season will cost less.  Mind you, if you’re patient, you can get decent deals for television series on DVDs at HMV or other shops which make the Season Pass not worthwhile.  However, you will still have to rip the episodes to your computer.  [Editor: Ripping DVDs to a computer will be covered in May’s meeting]

Another recommendation by Tom (which he will recommend to the end of time) is Neflix.  Especially if your goal is to rent from iTunes, or even from a video rental store.  For a fixed price each month, which is less than $10 to this day, you can view an unlimited amount of television shows and movies.   Your first month is free, but most items are older than sin (almost), so you’ll have to wait to view movies like Hugo, Iron Horse, and Tintin.  There is a Netflix app available for all iOS devices.

Netflix has an RSS feed which can be accessible through Apple Mail.

Warning: You need Silverlight by Microsoft to use Netflix on a Mac.

Back to music, Tom talked a bit about eMusic.  It has a monthly service, you get 30 songs per month for the price of that membership, they are in the MP3 format, the quality varies, and there is no DRM.  The selection is not as vast as iTunes’, but it’s cheaper per song.  There is also a yearly plan, but you can’t bank your slots, so choose your songs wisely.

Q: How to take better control over iTunes.

A: In iTunes, select an album or song title, and left mouse click, the item, select copy Link, and paste it in Safari.  You can then better control your iTunes Store.

Surprise Demo by Johanna:

iHome IP37 Speaker System for iPhone and iPad.

A very small and compact speaker system for your iOS devices with decent sound.  It takes 4xAA batteries,  and can be gotten at Canada Computers for around $60.

New iPad (3) Demonstration, by Jonathan Fingas

Jon went to the iPad page on the Apple site, and went through the various new features.

He covered the fact that the new iPad takes much longer to recharge from scratch: Over seven hours for a full charge.  The camera is that of the iPhone 4, but the lens is from the iPhone 4S.  5 megapixels.  You can record 1080p HD quality video, it has the option of using 4G LTE for communication, but you may need a bigger data plan if you use it.  You can use your new iPad as a personal hotspot, and for those who like AirPlay, 1080p HD.  Lest we forget the Retina Display which makes everything look all the more beautiful and rich.

The new iPad does NOT have Siri, but it can take dictation.

Unfortunately, the new Retina Display means the updated apps which take advantage of it are taking up more space on the internal SSD hard drive, so unless you’re a minimalist, you’ll want to get at least the 32 gb iPad.  Hardcore users will require the 64 gb version.

Following this, Jon briefly covered various apps that already take advantage of the new Retina Display, including Paper, iPhoto, Fotopedia’s Heritage, and Flipboard.

Note: The temperature problems people are reporting are grossly exaggerated.  [Editor: Most likely by people who are either seeking their 15 minutes of fame, or are just plain, well … no comment.]

Jon teased us with his 51st level character in Infinity Blade II by playing for a few minutes in what I (Editor) firmly believe is one heck of an amazing looking game.

Editor;s Note: Unless you have a need for the power inside the new iPad, you can get by with the iPad 2 which is still on sale at a reduced price, and if you’re lucky, you can probably even find one, or an original iPad, available on sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji.

The Handbrake demonstration for ripping DVDs to a computer has been rescheduled for the May meeting.

And that’s the April 2012 meeting in short.

March 4, 2012 Meeting

Notes for the March 4th,  2012 ByMUG Meeting

Covering Mountain Lion by Thomas “Tom” Leroux

First off, for those of you who don’t know, Apple announced that it will be releasing a new version of its operating system once per year, and most likely around the end of the summer.

Tom went through the new announced key features of Mountain Lon.  Many of which are current iOS features.

iCloud: Hard drive space over the Internet, accessible via any of your iOS and MacOS devices, as long as you have access to the Internet.  It now includes the ability to back up and store your video library, as long as it can be loaded and played via iTunes, then streamed to any of your Mac devices.  Expect better integration with the operating system.

Messages: The cell phone’s capabilities to “text” with others in your address book on your Mac.  A beta version can already be downloaded for Lion, but it’s expected that the full version will be released in Mountain Lion.

Reminders:  Allows you to enter and sync your reminders between your devices.

Notes: Brings the iOS Notes to the Mac in a nice looking application.

Notification Centre: If you’ve never heard of Growl, imagine a means of being notified whenever a message or e-mail arrives, or a file is done downloading or unarchiving, and more.

Share Sheets: If you’ve used the option on your iOS device, it now comes to Mountain Lion.  You will be able to share anything from any app location, providing it supports this feature.

Twitter: Full Twitter integration for those of you who love using Twitter.

Game Center: A gaming network where you sign up, others find you (or you find others) and play games with/against them.  Instead of it only working on iOS devices, it’ll now includes Macs as well.

AirPlay Mirroring: The ability to stream your computer screen onto a High Definition Television via an Apple TV.

Gatekeeper: Turns your Mac into Fort Knox.  The problem is, you might not appreciate how secure your computer may become.  The idea is that Apple would rather you download items from their Mac App Store, where there is almost no chance of getting malicious software.

Quickly Previewing the March 7th Apple Event by Jonathan Fingas

Days before the March 7th Apple Event, Jonathan was asked what he thought would be covered at the upcoming event.  While a new iPad was obvious, Jon added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see an update to the Apple TV, and with the ever-increasing word of an Apple Television, he said he wouldn’t be surprised to have one announced.

[Edit: Since then, indeed a new iPad has been announced.  The new iPad is simply a 3rd generation iPad.  There is no “3” or “HD” at the end.  A new 1080p Apple TV was also announced.  Updates to the iLife and iWork groups of software to run on the new iOS 5.1, iPhoto for iOS, and some nifty games that will take advantage of the new iPad’s enhancements.]

To view the March 7th Apple Event, look up and subscribe to the Apple Keynotes/Apple Keynotes HD podcasts.  The non-HD version is about 900 megabytes in size.

Covering Equinux’s SongGenie and CoverScout 3 by Mark Bell

SongGenie: Helps you identify unknown titles, fill in empty fields, and even help you find a song’s lyrics.  It works in sync with iTunes and iTunes Match.  You can try it for free, or you can buy it for $29.99 US

CoverScout: Helps you to add album covers to your music albums in iTunes.  If the database does not have it, you can look the album up on a site like Amazon’s and drag and drop the album image to CoverScout.  Mark claims an 80% accuracy rate.  It works in sync with iTunes and iTunes Match.  You can try it for free, or you can buy it for $29.99.

You can also get both SongGenie and CoverScout for $49.99 US.

Covering Hotspot Shield by Mark Bell

Hotspot Shield has a lot of uses.  The main one covered at the meeting by Mark was its ability to mask your country of origin to allow you to view videos in other countries.

Hotspot Shield also protects you against malware, secures your web sessions, protects you from ID theft online, hides your IP address, bypasses firewalls, and protects you from snoopers.

There is a free edition, as well as a paid elite edition for MacOS, and it’s also available for your iOS devices.  The free edition comes with ad support.  The elite edition costs $36.92 CDN. [Edit: Price varies based on CDN vs. US Dollar]

You can find out more about Hotspot Shield at http://www.hotspotshield.com

We closed off the meeting with a few questions from the group.