Categories
HowTo Music

Recording Music/Video with GarageBand on iPad and video on iPhone – Part 1

If you’ve spent anytime at all on YouTube watching videos of guitarists you know that they range in quality from quick and dirty iPhone videos to more elaborate multi-screen, multi-track presentations.

Until this week and being quarantined and all with the Coronavirus pandemic, I had never really given much thought to posting my own videos or how one might even go about doing so.

Over the past few days, I’ve hit on a pretty good middle-ground between the quick and dirty iPhone video and the more elaborate, high-production quality videos and figured I’d share how I do it.

Here’s an example of a video I recently recorded of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright using the setup detailed below.

I’m going to break this HowTo into 3 sections:

  • Part 1, recording guitar and vocal into GarageBand on iPad using 2 external microphones
  • Part 2, recording the video component
  • Part 3, synchronizing the audio and video component and publishing the final product.

Part 1

Recording guitar and vocal into GarageBand on iPad using 2 external microphones

I record my audio using Garageband. By design I don’t do a lot of tweaking to the default settings. I use the preset “lead vocal” setting for the vocals and the default “nice room” setting for the guitar. I don’t fiddle with the EQ.

Here are some details from Apple on using the “Audio Recorder” function of GarageBand on iPad. Some very useful stuff here and worth looking over.

Recording into an iPad Pro with external microphones requires some kind of Audio Interface to convert the XLR or 1/4″ inputs of your microphones into USB for the iPad.

I have an older Zoom H4n Pro that does double duty as field recorder and an audio interface (here’s how to set it up). I got lucky, I had no idea it had the audio interface feature when I bought it, but it does.

So I didn’t need to buy an interface. If you need one, for under $200, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is referenced on a lot of websites/videos as being a good safe bet.

Once you have your microphones and XLR cables, here’s a diagram detailing how I get them into the iPad.

Once you have all the hardware hooked up, you can just record into GarageBand.

You can, of course, go down some really deep rabbit holes of which microphones to use, mic placement, eq, etc. Feel free. I’m using a Shure SM-58 and a Sennheiser 609 that I usually use for mic’ing up my amplifier but seems to work just fine for vocals. Very easy to start chasing marginal gains with this kind of stuff. My advice is get it good enough and start recording.

There are a couple of minor settings changes you need to make in GarageBand to do simultaneous multitrack recordings. This guy has a fantastic video. If you’re not super-familiar with GarageBand and don’t want to through your iPad out the window trying to sort out multitrack recording on your own, I highly encourage you to sit through this guy’s tutorial.

Ok, so that’s the audio part! I’ll write up the video and synchronization stuff as soon as I can.

Categories
HowTo Tech

Reset All Finder Window Customizations

Sometimes you need to go nuclear and get back to baseline on all of those Finder window customizations that you make over time and start afresh. This will get rid of all the .DS_Store files that hold those customizations. I save it as a bash script, chmod it 775 and keep it in my ~/bin/ directory as reset_finder_windows.sh

#!/bin/bash
sudo find / -name .DS_Store -delete; killall Finder
Categories
HowTo Tech

Troubleshooting PDF OCR using Python on Mac

I wrote a script to extract some text from a PDF (image-based text, so pdftotext wouldn’t work).

Using pdf2image convert_from_path I simply could not get any data out of the pdf. I tried multiple PDFs while testing and convert_from_path just kept returning an empty variable.

Turned out that my homebrew install of xpdf was interfering with my homebrew install of poppler.

Uninstalling xpdf (brew uninstall xpdf) and reinstalling poppler (brew install poppler) seemed to fix things up. My suspicion is that they both come with their own versions of pdfinfo which is used by pdf2image. Just a hunch, I don’t know enough about what’s going on under the hood. So, anyway, if pdf2image isn’t working correctly for you and you’re on a Mac, make sure you’ve got poppler installed and that xpdf’s pdfinfo isn’t being used.

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HowTo Post

Things + GTD

Thingsapp

Incredible to think that I’ve been using Things for 10 years now. Amazing application and I can not imagine living without it. That said, I’ve only half-heartedly been maintaining/cleaning/pruning my lists in there and it is totally out of control and probably still contains “Someday/Maybe” items from 10 years ago.

Listening to Tim Ferris interview Getting Things Done author, David Allen the other day got me thinking about being a bit more disciplined about my Things lists.

I haven’t actually made any progress. Yet. But I did find a terrific writeup by Johnny Chadda on how he uses Things for GTD. Really excellent writeup with super-useful screenshots. When I do actually make progress on using Things for GTD is will be because of his how to guide.

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HowTo Post

Relax with MGB wrenching vids.

Johntwist

Some folks get into ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) to chill out. Cool if that’s your thing but I’ve found the most relaxing thing on the internet: watching John Twist from University Motors work on MGs. This 15 minute video on jacking up an MGB will teach you more than you ever thought there was to know about jacking up a car.

Categories
Health HowTo

Best Apple Watch App for Running

Part of the problem with Strava’s ubiquity on the workout/app front is that once you start using it you don’t often look around to see what else might be available. That said, I’ve never loved the way strava worked on my Apple Watch so did a little digging and found this amazing gem of an application called WorkOutDoors.

So good. Such a better alternative to Strava.

Especially if you run. Even more so if you adhere to the MAF running method (low heart rate, high cadence).

I’ve been using WorkOutDoors consistently for a few weeks now and it is a joy. It required a bit of tweaking/settings modifications that might be a bit complex for a non-tech savvy person but once I got the settings dialed in, it does exactly what I want it to do, reliably and WAY better than Strava.

WatchStripOverview

The app allows you to configure multiple watch screens for each activity (Running, Cycling, etc.). And you can do those configurations from your phone, so no futzing around with the tiny watch interface.

I only use it for running and created a single screen that shows me:
– cadence
– heart rate
– distance
– pace
– time.

So much density of readable data on that screen!!!! Amazing.

I also set up a couple of alarms so that if my cadence falls below 170 or my heart rate exceed 145 I get some haptic feedback on my wrist. I love it. This app is great. If you run, totally worth trying it out.

Oh, and after you get done with your run you can also very easily press a button and upload the activity to strava. So you’re not cut off from the social part of strava, either.

Categories
HowTo

Bikepacking Gear

Bikepacking gear  10

If you’re into gear lists, I finally got around to detailing the gear I used for my Erie Canal bikepacking trip earlier this summer over at AllTogetherOutThere.

Categories
HowTo Photos

iOS Shortcut to upload photo to WordPress & Instagram

I am trying to reduce the friction of posting photos to my site from my phone. In the process I thought it might be useful to simultaneously upload photos to my Instagram profile at the same time as my site.

Over the past year I’ve cobbled together a bunch of pieces to make this process work and it’s never been super-reliable in part because sometimes shortcuts likes to upload a .heic file instead of a jpeg.

##Heic file error

By default, the iPhone stores images in the .heic format. It seems that once you edit a photo on the iPhone it is then saved back to the library as a .jpeg. But I don’t want to have to edit a photo just to ensure that it will upload through the shortcut correctly.

What I’ve realized is that when you do anything with a photo using the share icon, iOS also converts the photo to a .jpeg.

As such, calling the shortcut through the share icon from the Photos library instead of calling the shortcut and then selecting the photo seems to get this whole thing working pretty consistently.

I can’t take credit for this shortcut working as good as it does. I pulled most of it from a website that, sadly, google can no longer find. I have no idea why. In any case, if you’d like to try it out, here is a link to my version shortcut.

You will need the WordPress iOS app installed on your phone for the shortcut to work.

Categories
HowTo

Installing Velo Orange Fenders on Surly Midnight Special

I installed these fenders less than 48-hours before departing for an extended bike camping trip along the Erie Canal in upstate NY. The forecast called for rain and boy am I glad I got these installed. Did a great job keeping the rain and mud from spraying all over me, my bike and my gear. I probably over-torqued a few of these bolts out of fear of stuff falling apart mid-ride but everything stayed assembled, nothing came loose and I love these fenders on this bike. [Note, if you want to see my 30-day review of the Midnight Special, head over to my family/special needs travel site, AllTogetherOutThere.]

There were a few things not covered in the instruction manual from Velo Orange that I’ve noted below

fender install
Finished Product

Go to the hardware store and buy the bolt/nut/washer combo that you’ll need to go through the hole on your front fork as if you were mounting brakes on the center of the fork. You will not be able to install fenders without this bolt and it is not included with the fenders:

fender install
I happened to have the correct length bolt and a suitable lock nut in my box of miscellany.

Categories
HowTo

Replace Multiple Occurrences of a string or char in SQL Server

It is unbelievable to me that Microsoft SQL Server does not support regular expressions. In the absences of regex, replacing multiple occurrences of the same string/char becomes super tedious. You can nest multiple Replace() statements which gets ugly and impossible to read and you have to know exactly how many multiple occurrences there are. But for a current project I have to replace all line breaks in a column.
Here’s how I did it:

WHILE EXISTS(SELECT * FROM #yourtable WHERE (Comments like '%'+char(10)+'%')) --note I knew that char(10) and char(13) always occurred next to each other and in an effort to speed up this loop got rid of the char(13) filter
BEGIN

  UPDATE #yourtable
  SET Comments=REPLACE(Comments,char(10),' ')
  WHERE (Comments like '%'+char(10)+' %')
 
   UPDATE #yourtable
  SET Comments=REPLACE(Comments,char(13),' ')
  WHERE (Comments like '%'+char(13)+' %')
 
    -- again you can probably do this in one statment but I was hoping to speed it up by simplifying the where statements. 
 
END

There are no doubt a dozen ways to optimize this but it seems to have worked and didn’t take forever. Good luck out there, folks, working with a “modern” RDMS that doesn’t support regex.

Categories
Health HowTo

Day One Morning Health Shortcut

Some folks over on the Day One Community FB group were interested in this shortcut I wrote. It computes your 7-day average for active energy and steps, asks you a few questions and creates a Day One journal entry. You will need to modify this shortcut. It’s a little tricky as it pulls health kit data which is really fiddly. You can drop me a note if you get in too deep but I can’t promise I’ll be able to make it work for you. Download the shortcut here.

I find the seven-day average data more interesting and useful. It was this podcast with Jim Collins that got me thinking about using multi-day averages to track certain metrics (e.g. as long as I’m average about 40 minutes per-day singing and playing guitar, I’m making progress, if my seven day average slips below that I am just treading water). Collins uses a 3month, 6month and 365-day average as opposed to 7, but the gist is the same. Very interesting approach to self-quantification. Go to the podcast and fast-forward to the 45-minute mark, great information.

Categories
HowTo

Turn Amazon Order History into a Markdown Table for Day One

The other day I posted about using Keyboard Maestro to automate the process of getting my monthly Amazon Order history into a Day One Journal entry. That was the first step of the automation of this task.

This has been a bit more challenging to automate than I was first thinking. I’m working towards this 3 step process:

  • Step 1: open up Day One and in Safari open up the URL for Amazon Order History report screen. [Done]
  • Step 2: automatically download this month’s Amazon Order History report [Need to figure this out]
  • Step 3: create a journal entry from a downloaded Amazon Order History .csv file [Now Done]

I am still messing around with Keyboard Maestro for step 2 but was able to hack together a pretty handy Automator workflow for step 3. It’s a python + BASH script that

  • takes a .csv file, strips out the unnecessary columns,
  • totals up the amount spent for the month
  • create a Markdown table of the important columns from the .csv
  • creates a Day One Journal entry and tags it “Money”
Categories
HowTo

Stopping the Esc key from un-Maximizing Safari

This little Keyboard Maestro recipe I whipped up to stop the super-annoying behavior of Esc un-Maximizing a full-screen Safari window alone is worth the price of the app.

Categories
HowTo

Getting Amazon Purchase History into Day One

Keyboard Maestro

Inspired by listening to @ttscoff, @macsparky and @rosemaryorchard on yesterday’s Automators podcast, I made some slow progress but progress nonetheless! Trying to automate as much as possible my monthly entry in Day One of all of my purchases from that month from Amazon. Currently I’ve just got a repeating todo in Things that reminds me to launch this nifty Keyboard Maestro shortcut.

Still requires that I download the .csv file, gussy it up in Numbers and paste it into Day One. Those steps are still a big reach for my automation skills but gives me something to work on.

Categories
HowTo

2019-03-31 14.24.37

So glad this reference exists for configuring WordPress to work with micro.blog status entries.

Categories
HowTo Music Post

How not to overthink iOS shortcuts for Day One Journals

I like to keep notes about the gigs I play with my various bands. Sometimes I log very detailed entries about changes we need to make to our gear or sound settings for the next gig, other times it’s just a few quick words so I can remember who came out to see us or what riff I need to work on in a given song for the next gig.

Naturally I use Day One to record this information. Last year I started using an iOS Shortcut that I wrote that prompts me for the type of information I want to record about each gig. The shortcut presented me with a list of questions and then combined all of my responses to those questions into a nicely-formatted Day One journal entry.

day one prompts for gig journal entry

The problem is that I am not a great Shortcuts writer. I’m lazy so I didn’t add any flow control statements to try to save my responses to the prompt questions as I went along. Meaning, after answering 3 or 4 questions and typing them on my iPhone (which is needless to say tedious) I would occasionally forget about my lame programming skills and try to pause the Shortcut while I go over to facebook or somewhere and download a photo from the gig to add to the entry. Nine times out of 10 I would hit “Done” in the Shortcuts app to do this and in the process I would lose all of the responses I had already typed. Frustrating.

This morning I did just that. Again. I hit Done in Shortcuts while answering the gig prompts in order to go get a photo from facebook and lost all of the details I’d already written last night’s gig. Let me be clear this isn’t Shortcuts fault or Day One’s.

day one journal template

Then I realized I’m totally overthinking this whole need to be prompted bit by Shortcuts and instead trashed my old shortcut and just wrote up this little gem which works just fine and doesn’t have the risk of me screwing it up and losing text. Moral of the story: don’t overthink it! Maybe instead of using Shortcuts to prompt you for a long list of questions, just create a template entry in Shortcuts instead.

Categories
HowTo

Securing websites with a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt

In trying to harden my WordPress install that’s hosted on Linode I decided to enable https for encrypting the login page. At first I just went with the old self-signed certificate route and it was fine but boy did I have to jump through some hoops to get iOS/my iPhone to play nicely.

Then I noticed that Google’s Chrome browser was giving me a “not secure” message on my site (and on the other sites I host on Linode) and realized that Google no-likey the self-signed certificates and further research showed that Google may actually penalize your site in search results if you don’t have a CA-signed SSL cert.

I didn’t want to pay for an SSL cert just to encrypt my WordPress login and googling didn’t return much until I came across Linode’s great documentation for Securing HTTP Traffic with Certbot.

Here I learned about Let’s Encrypt and the way they handle requesting certificates. Super, super cool. And Free. And with the instructions from Linode it was so easy to do.

And now none of my hosted sites are getting that pesky Not-Secure error from Google Chrome!

Categories
HowTo Music

Paradigm PDR subwoofer repair

TL;DR, if your paradigm PDR-10 isn’t powering on automatically, check the fuse. It can be easily accessed by removing the back panel of the subwoofer.

Sunday morning and I had the house to myself for a few hours so decided to listen to my favorite recording of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Firing up the 3rd and 4th movements really loud always serves to restore my faith in humanity. 

paradigm pdr 10

Anyway, a few bars into the 3rd movement and I knew something was up with my hifi. My Vandersteen’s sounded a bit thin and I noticed that my subwoofer power light wasn’t on. The paradigm pdr-10 that I have is not a great subwoofer but the vandersteens towers that I have are such that they only need a tiny bit of reinforcement in the very bottom end so it works for me. It is supposed to power on automatically once it detects a signal from the receiver but for some reason it wasn’t powering on and I couldn’t get the light on the front to come on. 

I hit pause on the symphony and brought the subwoofer over to my kitchen table where a few screws later I determined that a blown fuse was likely my problem. Unfortunately this was not an easy fuse to source. It is a 1 1/2 amp time delay fuse. My local hardware store, which has EVERYTHING didn’t have it but they did test the fuse I brought in and confirmed it was blown so I knew I was on the right track.

IMG 0384

 

Ultimately I purchased the replacement part from Amazon and finally got around to hearing the 4th movement in all of its bottom-heavy beauty. 

This is the fuse you want to order:

IMG 0385

Categories
HowTo

Amazon Dash button to call an Applescript

The other day Amazon put several of their Amazon Dash buttons on sale for $1.99. I picked up a few.

The first project I tackled was to get a Dash button to let everyone in the house know that the dog has been fed. This was pretty easy. 

  • Someone feeds the dog and presses the Dash button on the dog food bin
  • a computer on my network (a MacBook Air in my stereo cabinet) running Dasher listens for the Dash button to be pressed
  • that computer uses some java code to call a pre-defined IFTTT webhooks/Maker URL
  • that triggers a text message to everyone in the family that the dog has been fed

There are step by step instructions for doing much of this in this article. It is surprisingly easy and relies upon the Dasher project code

As I started looking at the Dasher code I realized that it also had a hook for ExecFile and that could be used to call a script/program etc instead of just calling a URL. Super!

Using an Amazon Dash Button to Play a Spotify Playlist

Most of the dash button hacks that people have documented rely on IFTTT. While IFTTT is no doubt super useful, I needed a bit more granularity in what I wanted my buttons to do and wanted to be able to call something more robust like a python or AppleScript file when the button was pressed. As a starter project, I wrote an AppleScript that checks the current time of day and then launches a playlist (and sets the volume) for that time of day. Unfortunately I could not get Dasher to work with the AppleScript.

I tried:

  • Saving the script as a compiled application and calling it in the command section, this just errored out and didn’t give me any clues
  • Then I wrapped the AppleScript in a shell script calling it with osascript, that errored out with a (-600) “application isn’t running” error which told me that at least the script was getting launched but wouldn’t run right
  • Then I realized that the process calling the shell script was running as root and as such the AppleScript was being called from root.
  • At first I tried all sorts of setuid BS on the shell script but that didn’t work
  • Then in an aha! moment I changed the shell script from ‘osascript /Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify_launch.scpt” to:
    • sudo -u jimwillis osascript /Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify_launch.scpt
  • Voila! It worked like a champ, I just needed to make sure that the AppleScript was being called/run as me, not root!

Calling an AppleScript from Dasher

So the key here is:

Setup Dasher to call a shell script in the dasher config.json file, like this:

{
"name": “Spotify-button",
"address": "78:E1:03:C5:D8:AF",
"cmd": "/Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify.sh",
"debug": false
}

Then, make sure that the AppleScript is running as you, not root by calling osascript with sudo -u {yourUserName}, so the shell script I’m calling is just a one-liner that looks like:

sudo -u jimwillis osascript /Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify_launch.scpt

Have fun!!  Huge thanks to John Maddox for writing Dasher and Jeff MacDonald for the great HowTo

Categories
HowTo Post

Send txt and SMS messages from your Mac’s iMessage app

[Note/Update: now that Apple has finally linked all the iMessage backend in iCloud you don’t need to jump through these hoops anymore. Just do this instead.]

Finally figured out how to make iMessage on my MacBook cooperate with a group text thread that includes non-iphone or Android users. This assumes that you have an iCloud account and you have an iPhone and want to send text messages to people who are not apple people. This solution allows you to send iMessages from your mac desktop to individual Android users or hybrid groups that include non-Apple users.

 

Settings->Messages enable Text Message Forwarding.
  1. Make sure you are logged into the same iCloud account on your Mac (go to System Preferences->iCloud) and on your iPhone (Settings, click your username at the top of the Settings list and go to iCloud). You likely are logged in as the same user but just sanity check this.
  2. on your iPhone go to Settings->Messages and select “Text Message Forwarding”
  3. Select your mac desktop from the list. Once you do, your iMessage application on your Mac desktop will display a string of numbers that you need to type into your iPhone to link up your iPhone and your iMessage app on your desktop.

Once I completed these steps I was able to send txt and iMessage messages from my desktop.