Monday, February 26, 2007

Unscratch That

Interesting things happen on the fringes, ecologically, culturally. The most interesting things to have happened in one narrow corner of the narrow world of sound restoration--which is of excruciating importance to those who practice it--have come from International Falls, Minnesota, where the young inventor Jeffery Klein produced his near-miraculous ClickFix, an add-on for Adobe Audition that is vastly superior to the larger program's native abilities. I've found, through digitizing and repairing dozens of scratched LPs, most more than 30 years old, that ClickFix seldom errs (and then on the conservative side), while other add-ons of its kind tend to strip off high end sounds as well as clicks and pops.

This flaw has clearly engaged Australian inventor Brian Davies, a mathematician by day, who applied his skills to an algorithm-driven goodie called Click Repair. Watching it work on a Mac is an exercise in applied theology, at least of a kind: there on the spectroscope, good sound surrounds bad, overwhelms it, chews it up, spits it out--all neatly summarized by a numerical report at the end of the process. The high end remains high, and Click Repair includes a setting for pitch protection for extra care in dealing with brass and other surging sounds.

I've been using both with great success, reviving near-extinct music that I haven't listened to in decades and that now resides on CDs, iPods, and other modern wizardry.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Autostitching with Calico

A panorama constructed with Autostitcher, an extraordinary innovation from a mad scientist's lab in Canada:

This version of Autostitcher is part of Calico, a very well designed and affordable piece of Mac software. I'll be taking it for more extensive test drives, but for the moment I can comfortably say that it requires far less time and trouble than Photoshop's native Photomerge feature; it's also more versatile and accommodates a larger photoset. Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Egg-timer of the Gods

Minuteur est un . . . minuteur est un chronom├Ętre.

So writes Philippe Galmel of Minuteur, his little contraption that does one thing very well: it's a chronometer, an egg-timer for busy moderns.

Why would a person need such a thing for his or her Mac ax? Well, I've used it in a few contexts: as a reminder that in half an hour I have to go somewhere or that something I want to watch or record is about to come on, but better, as a stopwatch for writing sprints meant to clear the cobwebs before setting about a project. Five minutes spent in mad-dash jotting and listmaking for an article, letter, book proposal, or planning process can get a good deal accomplished, I find, especially if you're racing against a literally ticking clock.

Minuteur is a most useful thing, inituitively designed for those who don't read French.

Et aussi, est gratis. Though it'd be good to float some francs to the creator, who has made something good for the world, even if it chains us to the clock.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Removing Dead Applications

I'm always surprised to discover perfectly obvious holes in perfectly wonderful operating systems. Mac OS X, for instance, uses the old drag-into-the-trash metaphor for uninstalling applications that have no built-in uninstaller, but the tactic requires the user to know where every last file is installed. Those files can be--and usually are--tucked away in every corner of the hard drive, with the result that most uninstall routines leave bits and pieces of the program behind, which can be a pain if, like me, you like to try out software and wind up frequently discarding programs that don't make the cut. (In all this grumbling, I hasten to add that at least Mac users don't have to deal with the dreaded Windows registry.)

Enter an elegant, entirely necessary gap-filler: AppZapper, a little utility that rounds up each and every file installed with a new application and, at the user's discretion, zaps them, complete with satisfying sound effects. One of the developers remarks that the AppZapper team wanted to put a smile on the user's face whenever the application was put into action, and it does--not least because, at US$12.95, the price is unusually right.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Google Earth for Mac

It's out. (See the preceding entry.) I haven't had a chance to play with it, but I'm expecting wonderful things.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A God's-Eye View of the World

We are as gods, the old Whole Earth mantra has it, and we might as well get good at it. Google Earth is one of those astonishingly right-on tools that come along every few years to validate that motto: it allows the viewer to swoop down from the heavens to view just about any address in North America (and many abroad), affording a macro, regional view of place that zeroes in on the extremely particular in just a few clicks. (Suffice it to say that you might want to reconsider rooftop sunbathing unless you're sure no Google spy satellite is floating about in the sky above.) Be warned: as with all godlike technologies, it's addictive. Sadly, it's Windows-only for the moment, but a Mac version is said to be in the works.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Kindly Cuts

I'm an inveterate clipper of newspapers, and even though I do much of my research online and pull down the resulting goodies in bits and bytes, I still have stacks of newsprint cluttering my desk at any given moment. This superbly made little tool from Levenger makes the clipping easy and safer for all those around me--for I tend to be a dangerous creature indeed when equipped with scissors or penknife.

Another plus: you can (at least for the moment) get the implement onto an airplane.