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).

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 1024x768 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 iMac­Thanks, Trey and Hen­ry for help­ing me use the Beta for more than the ini­tial two-day tri­al. 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.

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.