Mac 101 wrap-up: Panic optional

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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498 days and 68 lessons later, it’s time to apply the decorative ribbon to Mac 101. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m done. As part of our journey we’ve started with the most basic of basics; taken long looks at the Finder; dived into the Mac’s Find features; explored Mail Contacts, Calendar, and Messages; gone on Safari; defined common jargon; previewed Preview; and even dipped our toes into iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand. In short, I’ve churned out enough material to create a goodly-sized book (he says, hinting broadly).

If you (or, more likely, someone you’ve urged to learn more about their computer) has followed along through the weeks and months, you’ve acquired enough knowledge to elicit glassy-eyed stares when, at your next cocktail party, you reel off endless Mac trivia with no more urging than someone humming the letter M within earshot. Congratulations.

While we could end this with a cheery wave, I’d like to draw your attention to a broad concept before issuing the final hand wiggle. And it’s this: The beauty of the Mac OS and its accompanying applications is that—when implemented correctly—it’s predictable. Harkening back to the Mac’s earliest days the operating system and design guidelines were drafted so that with a basic understanding of the Mac’s core principles, you could navigate and operate nearly every piece of software that you encountered.

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GarageBand: The finer (and final) points

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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As a writer/musician who’s spent a lot of time with GarageBand over the years, I must resist the temptation to explore its every nook and cranny simply because I’m enthusiastic about it. Features that I find fascinating may appeal to only a few of you and I’d rather not tax your patience. Given that, I’d like to wrap up my look at the application by pointing out a few of its nuances that the majority of would-be GarageBand users will find helpful.

Instrument editing

I’ve shown you how to “play” GarageBand’s instruments with an external keyboard, onscreen keyboard, and even the Mac’s keyboard. And while I expect that many of you have done so perfectly, there may be a person or two who has hit a clunker. Thankfully we’re no longer living in the days of tape where you either played every note and chord perfectly or relied on a very talented engineer with a box of razor blades. GarageBand is a music processor meaning that, like a word processor, you have the ability to correct your mistakes.

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GarageBand for guitar players

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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It’s a tradition that a true garage band must have at least one guitar (and more if you can rustle up enough outlets, amps, and kids who can nail a bar chord three out of five tries). Given that, it would be ridiculous if Apple’s GarageBand didn’t have some fairly hefty support for guitar and bass players. And it does, particularly if you drop the $5 in-app purchase price to gain all of GarageBand’s content.

Getting connected

Before you can strum, pick, bar, shred, tap, or whammy your way to wonderfulness you must find a way to jack your guitar into your Mac. At the most basic level it can be done for about $7 with a 1/4-inch-to-1/8-inch mono audio cable. The 1/4-inch connector plugs into your guitar and the 1/8-inch connector goes into the Mac’s audio input port. If you choose such a cable, make it as light as possible. If you add an adapter to a standard guitar cable its weight may put undue strain on your Mac’s audio port.

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