Apple's Digital Hub stood front and center in Macworld's June 2004 issue, in which we offered a comprehensive guide to digital music, tips on transferring videotapes to DVD, and more. The response we've gotten from readers indicates that the Digital Hub is also a focal point of their Mac lives. Those readers had plenty to say about building a Mac-based home stereo system, as well as shooting and editing pro-quality digital video. And discussions about the many ways to use a Mac are always music to our ears.
Can't Stop the Music
The "Release the Sounds" section of your " Digital Music Superguide " (June 2004) failed to mention a downside to using Slim Device's Squeezebox. Due to legal restrictions on music available from the iTunes Music Store, Slim Device's Squeezebox cannot transmit any music you buy there. I have found a workaround for this issue: purchasing and using Rogue Amoeba's Nicecast ( www.rogueamoeba.com ). Nevertheless, your article should have stated this restriction.
Michael Gowan's "Release the Sounds" was informative and helpful, but his information on phono inputs is wrong. While the phono input does provide extra amplification, it is also correcting the RIAA curve, which attenuates low-frequency information and boosts high frequencies to get all the information in a given recording onto the vinyl disk. Your article's omission of the RIAA equalization curves is really of little concern, but I take issue with the incorrect and misleading statement "[phono] can't handle the full range of frequencies that modern music will try to cram through." There is more musical information in the grooves of any vinyl LP than in current digital formats, and that includes "the full range of frequencies" in modern music. I'm not saying that records are better or more perfect, but old or modern music recorded on LP will contain more musical information than current digital formats, and, all things being equal, will sound better. It is simply a gain and equalization mismatch between line-level components and phono stages that causes problems, not extra frequencies.
I think the article was great, but that photo spread was simply awful! Any audiophile would shout, "What a waste!" upon seeing the two sets of speakers, too close to each other, in that wall unit. And the awkward placement of the model in relation to all the speakers reflects a total disregard for enjoyment of high-quality sound. Of course, you don't have to be an expert in acoustics to know that the other Apple speakers next to the iMac on the table aren't exactly the best choice for appreciating music. And where is the keyboard? Does that model control that Mac with her mind?
I was disappointed that your "Digital Music Superguide" didn't give information on which bit rates to use when making MP3s. I converted 67 hours of pop and rock music about four years ago. My advice: Do not use variable bit rate. I keep running into situations where it won't work. I also suggest using 192 Kbps (or at least 160) because 97 percent of the music I converted ended up with a rate between 164 and 184.
I'd never paid much attention to iMovie. I tinkered a little with the demo clips in the first version and found the program so rudimentary that I never bothered looking at it again. But after reading Jim Heid's " From VHS to DVD " (June 2004), I discovered that iMovie 4 could do more than I'd ever known it could. The article got me to thinking, too -- about a 15-year-old video of my grandparents' Irish bed-and-breakfast. Since the property is no longer in the family and my grandmother is gone, I realized that with my aunt's birthday approaching, perhaps I could do something special for everyone. The result is spectacular. I have no doubt at all that it will be received with amazement and delight. Many thanks for opening my eyes to something I hadn't really known my Mac could do.
Here Comes the Sunshade
" Improve Outdoor Lighting " (in Digital Hub, June 2004) offered an inexpensive alternative -- white poster board -- to professional light reflectors. I was expecting to see my favorite solution described: the sunshades sold for car windshields. These are widely available at AutoZone and similar auto-parts stores, Target, and Wal-Mart for around $10 in a variety of sizes. Make sure to get the ones that have two separate panels, not two joined panels. These reflectors made of fabric and metal hoops are very much like the ones used by professional photographers, but they cost much less. The silvering on them may be somewhat less effective, but they provide softer and more even lighting than white poster board. They're also foldable, so they're much easier to store and transport.
I have used QuarkXPress since version 3; I had decided to wait for Quark to move to Mac OS X. But after reading "Activation Nation" (Mac Beat, June 2004), I have changed my mind and will switch from Quark as soon as I finish my current projects. I will likewise dump any other software with this Orwellian activation technology, even if it means producing my projects with Microsoft Word, Apple's AppleWorks, or Software MacKiev's Print Shop.
"Home, office, laptop" has been the general practice for installing software. If companies want to protect their interests and keep customers, then they should license their software for three nonnetworked computers. This should keep the intellectual-property lawyers from questioning the legality of a program's ability to access and manipulate the computer's ID numbers, as well as a company's right to deny users access to software they've paid for.
We've Been Framed
Leave it to Adobe to shoot longtime customers in the foot by killing FrameMaker on the Mac ("Out of Frame," Mac Beat, June 2004). Our company has been using FrameMaker for years because it's truly a cross-platform application. For the last two years, Adobe has been stating on its Web site that Mac users are important to the company and that it would not ignore or forget them in regard to a FrameMaker upgrade. I guess that shows you that when Adobe speaks, don't believe it.
Reader Paul Calamai and Dori Smith offered a Safari bookmarklet for sending a URL and selected text from a Web page to an e-mail recipient ( Feedback, June 2004). In all of a minute, I had typed the script into the Safari address bar, saved the script as a bookmark, and tested it. Wow. Where can I find more Safari bookmarklets?
The March 2004 Geek Factor column included a list of bookmarklet-friendly sites. Go to find.macworld.com/0031 to find the online version. -- Dori Smith
Cats Got Your Tongue?
Microsoft's software engineers must be sweating after Apple's announcement that Tiger will be the last annual upgrade of OS X. Now Microsoft will have to think for itself about what should go into Longhorn. On the other hand, the Mac community and third-party developers must be relieved. We'll get a chance to catch our breath and consolidate a bit. Mac gurus will be able to get their books out before they're redundant. While it's great to have new features we didn't know we needed, I have yet to find all of them in Panther -- and soon there'll be a new cat in the alley. Never mind the number of ways there are to skin a cat -- there are too many cats to skin.