Roll My Own Ringtone

First of all, I really don’t go in for .mp3 ring tones. I’m actually okay with just having a beepy or ringy ringtone on my phone. However, custom ringtones do serve a useful purpose. Now that essentially everyone1 carries a cell phone with them, knowing that it is actually your phone ringing is handy. Of course, you don’t need to have “The Macarana” blaring every time your wife calls. That’s annoying (for several reasons). So, all this being said, it’s a good idea to know how to make your own ringtones. Ringtones are multi-billion dollar business, and it’s no wonder when you consider the numbers. I can purchase the latest hit at the iTunes for 99¢ but that same song, in a shorter, lower quality ringtone will cost me $1.99 at Cingular (plus whatever amount of bandwidth it costs me to download it). I pay twice as much for less? I don’t think so.

Here’s what I use to do this:

  1. A song. More to the point, one in .wav format. You can rip one off a CD you own or burn-and-re-rip a song you’ve bought off of iTunes (or whatever music service), which I do usually to remove the DRM. Just re-rip it into .wav this time instead of .mp3.
  2. Some sound editing software. I like Audacity because it’s open source and pretty easy to use. You’ll need to get the LAME .mp3 encoder for it, but that’s not too much trouble and also free.
  3. About five minutes. Open your tune into your wave editor software (Audacity) and trim it down to size. I use about 30 seconds, and not necessarily the first 30 seconds, either (I want the meat of the song, not the artsy intro). I also use a brief fade-in at the beginning to save my hearing as well as some fade-out at the end, although who ever hears the end of a 30 second ring-tone?
  4. Save the new version as a low-to-medium quality .mp3 file, probably 42kbps (where-as I’d usually use at least 192kbps for an .mp3 file on my PC). The key is, the file needs to be less than 600kb in final size, at least on my Cingular branded Sony-Ericsson W810i (I’ve yet to test Angela’s Motorola SLVR). However, 30 seconds at 42kpbs should come well under that size.
  5. Transfer the .mp3 to the phone, by USB if at all possible as anything else is excruciatingly slow (i.e. – Bluetooth). I found that I had to put mine in a specific folder called “Ringtones.” This may not be always the case, but it worked and I’m not sure that I’d want to mix this low quality, clipped songs with full-length .mp3 I’d listen to on my headphones, so it’s a good idea to separate them.
  6. Use the ringtone. Call yourself and test it out. You just saved a couple of bucks and exercised your fair-use rights. Heck, splurge: call yourself and talk for a while. You can afford the minutes.

Right now, I have “Love Me Do” by the Beatles for when Angela calls (yeah, cheesey). It works great, though, and I didn’t have to pay for the same song twice. I suppose technically if she calls while I’m listening to that song then I’ve gone beyond fair use and am guilty of copyright infringement. However, that’s pretty unlikey. Just in case, I’ll put my phone on silent when listening to my copy of One.

  1. now that my brother Dave has given up his landline in favor of a mobile-only, I feel confident that everyone is not just hyperbole. []

Sony Doesn’t Get It

Well, it looks like Sony doesn’t get either the Long Tail of gaming, nor even the head of gaming. From a story I just seeded on Newsvine (as well as my comment):

Sony Computer Entertainment of America spokesperson Dave Karraker says Wii should not be directly compared to PS3. Interviewed by The New York Times today he said, "Wii could be considered an impulse buy more than anything else."

A very short article, but so much to talk about. First of all, and only anecdotally, the only person I know who owns a PS3 said he bought it as an impulse buy (his exact words) where as everyone I know who has a Wii has had to literally camp out for one, myself included. If there’s a place in the states that Sony is aware of that has some Wii’s lying around waiting for people to just pick one up, they should be keeping it a secret because they’ll sell out in a matter of minutes. The PS3? I’d be willing to bet there’s a couple sitting at your nearest Best Buy right now, waiting for you to think long and hard about spending $500-600 for (unlike my friend, apparently).

Also, this gem:

Sony believes Wii is currently selling to casual gamers rather than committed gamers, who are likely to buy more games in the years ahead.

What does Sony not get? Nintendo turned a profit on the Wii console so they aren’t entirely betting the farm on selling more games down the road (to recoup lost money on licensing fees, like Sony or Microsoft do). Also, of course Nintendo is marketing a system to the casual gamers. What Sony clearly doesn’t get is just how huge an untapped market that is. Hardcore gamers are, by definition almost, a niche market. The casual gamers vastly outnumber them. That’s why you can’t find a Wii console hardly anywhere while the PS3 is sitting on the store shelf. Lastly, the most recent sales data I’ve seen is that the Wii has a much higher attach rate for games and peripherals than the PS3, kind of negating Sony’s complaint anyway.

WordPress on a Terminal

In light of now owning a mac, I’m also in the process of getting comfortable with using the Terminal (I was somewhat acquianted with the MS-DOS prompt previously). This is mainly for the purpose of accessing this WordPress web site for maintence, etc. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d point out this insane WordPress Unix Prompt theme. If you don’t know much about Unix (well, you won’t get half of how cool this is; not that I’m any expert mind you), but just type ls. It’ll seem somewhat familiar from there.

We Have Officially Switched

Angela and I got a new iMac a couple of weeks ago for the home office. First of all, I have to admit we feel a little dumb buying one in light of recent events which are going to suck up all our money and time before too long. However, we really needed to get a new PC for the house as well as simplify our home office (the fact that I’m about to sell three old computers on eBay should indicate how clunked up the office was). To that end, doing this now rather than this time next year made more sense, and that old computer didn’t have another year in it at the pace we were using it (although it will make a great PC for someone).

iMac Unboxing Porn

Unboxing our new iMac didn’t take long: there’s only one cord and three parts (monitor, keyboard, and mouse).

Speaking of selling old computers, I just began running DBAN on my old Dell desktop. It’s a weird feeling for me putting that disc in the drive, knowing full well the devastation I’m about to wreak on the hard disk. A bit like taking Lenny out back to show him the "rabbits." Anyway, I’ve taken my time getting everything off of that machine and backed-up on our NAS, as well as keeping working copies of most stuff on the new Mac. By the way, getting e-mail out of Outlook and onto a mac has to be the most miserable thing to do when "switching." I spent more time doing that than any other task, and I had two 250 GB drives nearly full on that machine (I also had a lot of e-mail, dating back to around 1999).

Anyway, I’ve got Parallels Beta 3 running on the new iMac and that is an awesome program. I had installed the old version I bought and wasn’t too impressed with it running Ubuntu 6, but after upgrading to the most recent version I’m completely blown away. In full screen mode, it is exactly as if you’re running the OS native (although I’ve yet to be able to get it to take advantage of better than 1024×768 screen resolution). I’ve only run Linux so far, but I’ve ordered OEM copies of both Windows XP and Vista and I hope to have those installed next month. I’ve heard really good things about it running XP, and quite frankly even though it’s virtualization, it couldn’t be any slower than my 3 Ghz P4 had gotten. Vista is probably going to be less-than-stellar in Parallels, and I don’t expect a lot of the flashy GUI effects to work. However, it will give me the opportunity to keep on top of the Windows environment for a few more years. It’s pretty exciting to have four OS’s on one very sleek and elegant box. For such large screen, I suddenly have loads more desk space and our tiny office seems just a bit bigger.

porting all my old e-mail is about to make me pull my hair out and transferring over 18,000 photos into iPhoto took hours

I’ve been using Photoshop CS3 Beta for the past week on the iMac1 and I have to say, I’m really impressed. First of all, it’s finally in Universal Binary so it will run natively on the Intel processor. That means it’s insanely fast for such a large piece of software. Photoshop now loads as fast as iPhoto (probably faster, considering my iPhoto library is around 19,350 images). Feature-wise, I’m not exactly a power-user, so I don’t notice many differences between the previous CS2 version and this Beta, though I’m sure that many exist. Also, I was using CS2 on a PC and now I’m on a Mac and I don’t know how similar the versions on those two platforms were to begin with. Either way, I’m very impressed with the speed of CS3 on this machine. It just feels very lightweight, even though it’s a huge piece of software.

I’ve also been just getting used to the differences of being in OS X versus XP. The differences come in both large and small. Large would be the obvious items where as the small were things I never much thought about, such as the different behavior of the home and end keys, which I use often. This, despite the fact that my wife has been using a mac for a year-and-a-half now. However, I’ve not run into any huge problems that I couldn’t find solutions to yet. Fortunately, if when that does happen, a number of my friends and family are power Mac users and I can hopefully get help from them you (you do read this stuff, don’t you guys?).

I suppose this is sort of full circle. Like every other thirty-something, the first computer I ever used was an Apple II (Apple ][, whatever). My parents had one of the first Macintosh’s (back when they were called Macintosh and not just Mac), which like my iMac was a PC-in-a-monitor.

Everything old is new again.

  1. Thanks, Trey and Henry for helping me use the Beta for more than the initial two-day trial. []

Our First Ultrasound

Angela and I went to the doctor yesterday morning to have our first ultrasound. There’s not much to see at 10 weeks, but seeing a little flutter of pixels which the nurse referred to as a heartbeat was a great sense of both relief and excitement. The nurse also quickly pointed out the head of our little person, after watching many parents-to-be like us stare in confusion, no doubt. Theres not too much there, otherwise. The nurse took a few measurements and the software made some estimates of age (apparently about three centimeters equates to roughly 10 weeks).

T-Minus 30 Weeks

Our kid is one-half cranium.

The ultrasound machine, by the way, was awesome. It essentially mapped out Angela’s lower abdomen in real time, allowing the nurse to click points and label them (are they called way points when their internal?). I can’t claim as it’s high resolution, because the picture you see here is about actual size (depending on the size and resolution of your screen, of course). However, given that it was just bouncing a bunch of sound waves around and we could see our child coming together was much cooler than I would have ever guessed. Some great technology.

What Is Lost About?

Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer on what Lost is all about: "This show is about people who are metaphorically lost in their lives, who get on an airplane and crash on an island and become physically lost on the planet Earth, and once they are able to metaphorically find themselves in their lives again, they will be able to physically find themselves in the world again. When you look at the entire show, that’s what it will look like. That’s what it’s always been about."

Get You’re $100 Laptop for $300

The general public in the Western world will be able to purchase the MIT/Negroponte OLPC ($100 laptop) after all. The catch? "customers will have to buy two laptops at once – with the second going to the developing world." Looks like eBay will be handling the sales and the laptop will initially go for around $300 for the citizens Western, industrial countries (read: U.S., Canada, & Europe). Brilliant move, I say. (via Newsvine) Check out the official OLPC site for more on the project.
Not so fast. Apparently, the BBC got it wrong and OLPC will not have a consumer version nor will they being do the buy-2-get-1 scheme, at least not yet. I still say that’s a great idea, although it won’t really buy enough to make much of a difference I suspect.

We’re Having A Baby

Well, it’s probably the worst kept secret of our lives, but just so the whole world knows:

We're Pregnant!

…and we’re both really excited. We had our first doctor’s visit this afternoon and everything looks great! So, around late August the whole world will get to know baby Coleman-Dyer (or Dyer-Coleman, we’re still working that out).

We’ve been dying to tell everyone, and lord knows Angela’s spilled the beans enough, but just wanted to wait out the until going to see the doctor. We’re both really neurotic like that, as you all know. However, I’ve been posting stuff here and elsewhere online over the past few weeks for my own sanity. Just look back through my Flickr account or here for anything tagged ‘baby.’ No, you didn’t miss it before. It was just all marked as private until tonight.

It’s so weird, I’ve never been actually nervous about writing a blog post before but I am now. I’m not even really sure why, but I am. We were really nervous when we told family, too. It’s just such big news (good news, though) and we really have no idea how to tell people. Everyone has been really excited for us and we’re just as excited to share the news.

MacWorld SF – 2007 Edition

It looks like this is an annual thing for me, so I’ll give it another go. Angela and I are ever-so-slowly making the shift (back) towards using Apple hardware and software in our lives, so I do have quite a bit of interest in MacWorld each year. Plus, it’s nice to watch the stock jump! I’ll live-blog it as best I can from noon until 2:00 EST, so I apologize in advance if it makes your RSS readers go wonky with loads of posts (I hope that doesn’t happen, anyway).

For on-going coverage, you can turn to Engadget or MacRumors.

iTV Apple TV – Apple Lands in your Living Room

Well, this looks great,to be honest. Frankly, this is likely the solution I was looking for several years ago when I purchased a Windows Media Center Edition PC with plans to get a MCE extender for the living room. We bought a Hauppague unit that really didn’t work very well at all in the meantime, and then eventually went to TiVo when they announced TiVo ToGo. Of course, there doesn’t seem to be the PVR functionality on the iTV, which sucks for the short term but as everyone (including our household) move to IPTV, this becomes the solution to have. Download al a carte, use a PC or network elsewhere for storage, and then just network down to the big screen in the living room. Having a (albeit small) on board hard drive allows for some storage but the adoption of 802.11n is going to really make streaming HD video possible (just like you all knew it would).

Shipping next month for $299. Pretty reasonable, given this things capability and the cost of similar devices (that do less).

iPhone – Apple Takes Control of your Pocket

Apple finally did it. Wow.

Well, I don’t know this is as revolutionary as Jobs claims it is, but it is never-the-less very cool (and about time). I mean, I don’t yet seeing this doing what the Apple II did… Still, internet, phone and iPod (real widescreen video, too) is a killer piece of hardware. It’s going to run OS X (or some very stripped down version, more likely) which, if they sell these phones like they sell iPods, will in turn sell many-a-mac. Once people get a taste for that interface, they’re likely going to want it in a PC.

Syncing everything on the phone with iTunes (or whatever it’s going to be called) is great. This can’t be overstated. This is one of the greatest mysteries of how to get more out of a portable phone and the iPod has been doing it right for years now.

Oh, and of course it has a camera. Hopefully better than iSight or the cameras found on the vast majority of cell phones now (especially mine and Angela’s). It apparently has an 8GB drive (solid state or platter, I don’t know which) and that is vastly more than any phone right now and actually would be a lot of music (although not too many TV shows). I can’t tell, but I have a feeling it wirelessly syncs as well (based on display, which looks to have a Airport signal icon). Ah looks like GSM+Edge+WiFi+Bluetooth. Wow.

I gotta say, I want one. Angela is going to want one, too. This provided it doesn’t cost a grand. Looks like that means switching to Cingular wireless, which is a bit of a pain (not that we love Sprint).

Also, Jobs played the Beatles on the iPhone. Let the significance of that sink in for a moment.

Okay, I do have to say that after reading more of this presentation, Apple really is about to release the next generation in mobile phone. What’s more, it’s not a mobile phone anymore but a mobile communications and media device. Few of it’s capabilities are new but the (apparently, as I’ve not used one yet) tight integration is really what makes it next gen. Using an advanced operating system (did anyone really ever think Windows CE, Symbian, or Blackberry was the pinnacle?) to bind several devices together may not really revolutionize electronics, but it is going to bring this to the masses instead of the 1% high end tech elite. Oh, and it’s going to make Apple a mint.

Well, that’s all for me for now. I’ll finish some of these thoughts up on MacWorld ’07 later. There’s things going on today besides Apple and some of you may want to check that out later, as well.

Okay, well, that really looked like pretty much all the news. Apple also released a 802.11n device which looks pretty slick but, as with all their networking gear, is way overpriced in my opinion. They also changed their name to just Apple, Inc., which was a long time coming. However, I’d like to point out one thing that was not mentioned at their yearly shock-and-awe-fest: OS X 10.5, Leapord. I’m really disappointed that they are either pushing this further back or just don’t find the upgrade worth discussing. I’m hoping it still beats the iPhone to store-shelves (i.e. – by June), but I won’t put off buying a computer to wait anymore.