Author Archives: choirguy

MET Podcast – News

I just wanted to offer a short update on the MET Podcast, which is a joint effort by Paul Shimmons and myself. Paul and I are going to continue to do the podcast, and in fact, we have our next interview scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, October 17th).

However, our year’s subscription to SoundCloud—kindly paid by UberChord for the year—expired yesterday. Older tracks were automatically archived by SoundCloud, and only the latest episodes (nothing recent) are available.

Simply put, Paul and I need to do some research and communicate with each other regarding how we want to proceed with hosting the podcast. UberChord had mentioned continuing to sponsor the podcast—which would be wonderful; and it would also be okay if they cannot continue to do so. Last year’s events with SoundCloud make me wary about continuing to host the podcast there. I have been looking into podcasting hosting sites, such as Libsyn, archive.org, and Podbean.

Archive.org is great in that it is free, but I cannot determine how to use it to set up a RSS feed that would lead to the Apple Podcast directory (if anyone can help me with this—please do, as this is out of my area of expertise). Libsyn and Podbean offer automatic RSS feeds, but reflect a larger investment financially.

I have been considering starting a Patreon for techninmusiced.com and ukestuff.info; but also hesitate to pursue endeavors that require regular investments (e.g. hosting), rewards, and potential income.

If anyone has any thoughts on all of this, please e-mail me. I should also add that we haven’t been unhappy with SoundCloud (although you cannot upload a file off an iPad, which is a little silly), but the company’s financial woes lead me to want to pursue other options.

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Populele Review

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For anyone interested in the world of technology in music education as it pertains to ukulele, I was given the opportunity to review the Populele, an acoustic ukulele with an LED fretboard that connects via Bluetooth to a mobile app (iOS or Android). That review is on my ukulele blog (link).

Cleartune has been updated!

With the appocalypse of iOS 11, many long time apps disappeared. One of those was Cleartune, one of the tuners that has been in the App Store for years. It was a favorite app for many users…and it was gone.

The good news? Bitcount (developer/company) updated it yesterday, and Cleartune is back!

While I would certainly recommend Tonal Energy Tuner as well, Cleartune is a great option…and it now works iOS 11. I hope more of the currently missing apps come back from the dead as well!

Many thanks to Michael Good, the creator of MusicXML and a VP at MakeMusic for tweeting about this and bringing it to my attention!

This week’s Apple events…

I have not yet commented on Apple’s events this week, so I thought I would do so before the week was over.

Apple introduced a new 3rd generation Apple Watch. Simply put, we have no use for it in our family. I had been hoping for a stand-alone cellular watch that we could give my nine year old in place of a phone (no–we’re not doing that), much like the Verizon Gizmo watches. It turns out that the Apple Watch still isn’t a stand alone product and it uses the same cell phone number as your existing iPhone. My 1st generation Apple Watch is going strong, and my wife loves her 2nd generation Apple Watch. I might be open to an update in the fall of 2018–but we’ll have to see.

Apple introduced two new iPhones. We have T-Mobile, which has massively increased coverage and keeps expanding offers for customers. This past week, T-Mobile gave us standard Netflix for free–something we had been paying for. That said, T-Mobile just bought coverage throughout the US in the 600 MHz range (they already have towers with it), but none of the new iPhones…iPhone 8, iPhone 8S, or iPhone X have those bands. As a result, I wasn’t that excited about any of the phones. My current phone is an iPhone 6S with 64GB of memory, and I am always at the limit. So, I ordered the iPhone 8S this morning, as I wanted a larger screen (my farsightedness is progressing) and bought the 256GB version (why couldn’t they offer 128?). I just have to accept that I won’t have access to T-Mobile’s new service bands until I upgrade again in 2019. The X is nice, and I could care less about the “bump” in the screen…whatever. It is an iPhone. You interact with it, and you use it. So many tech columnists are complaining about the X’s bump…get over it. I couldn’t justify waiting for the X when I might be tempted to upgrade in the fall of 2018 for better coverage. We’ll see. I will like inductive charging (on all the iPhones). In fact, I need to go order a couple of Qi mats from Amazon. You realize this means an end to cables, right? That is a move from Apple that is right around the corner. Don’t believe me? Does the Apple Watch have a cable? Expect wireless charging with the next series of iPads, too. And any of these new phones are FAST…benchmarks are showing the phones are nearly as fast as CURRENT MODEL MacBooks. It won’t be too long before someone will be porting the full version of Mac OS on a phone.

Apple is introducing a Qi charging pad next year…awesome. Let me know when it gets here. Ear Pods are also slightly changed, mainly for inductive charging.

In other news, iTunes has removed the ability to back up a phone to a computer, and it has taken the app interface out of iTunes. Most of us weren’t using that interface anyway, but if you did, it is time to move to the cloud, as well as to likely buy some extra iCloud storage each month. iCloud isn’t the mess that it used to be…it has come a LONG way.

And both iOS 11 and Mac OS X High Sierra are right around the corner. As soon as my iPad Pro is paid off (6 months or so), I will be buying a MacBook that can run High Sierra. People are really excited about iOS 11 and iPads. Being conservative when it comes to beta operating systems, I’m waiting to see what they are excited about.

So in summary: Apple continues to improve and advance its products, and many of us will eventually buy them. I just am in a funk about buying an iPhone that can’t take advantage of all that T-Mobile has to offer.

Flic Smart Button

About a week ago, Newzik sent out a mailing that mentioned the Flic, a Bluetooth button that could be used to turn pages. They offered a discount, and it was relatively inexpensive, so I ordered one (this was not a demo or discounted unit, other than the “normal” Newzik discount code). It arrived today and I have been using it with forScore and Newzik.

The idea of a small button for page turning is a great idea. Some people can’t reach a screen easily from a sitting position, but could mount a small button on their instrument which would allow them to change pages. In some cases, a foot pedal isn’t ideal. The Flic is a small button with the option of a sticky back or a plastic clip–not much smaller than my college ring (which appears to need some repair!).

The Flic came in a small, Apple-like box, packaged in a box that could easily hold five of the devices. There are several versions of the Flic, including dedicated buttons that have a non-replaceable battery, as well as models that have replaceable batteries with limitless functions (programmable via the app). The button can be programmed for all kinds of uses (provided that the app has a relationship with the app). You can also program different functions for a press, couple press, or press and hold.

This all sounds great, but as I use the device, I’m disappointed. First, the Flic app allows you to set up your button (and you have to register an account), but then the app must remain running in the background while you use other features to keep working. In other words, the Flic is a “dumb button” that triggers the app, that then triggers your music reading app. When you are used to instantaneous page turns by hand, AirTurn, PageFlip, or iRig device–the delay caused by the Flic seems too long. I didn’t officially time it, but it seems to be a full second or longer for a page turn…which is two quarter notes at 120 bpm.

Additionally, I have forScore customized for my quad pedal PageFlip Dragonfly. The Flic app only allows a couple of forScore mappings, which do not match with the mappings on my Dragonfly…and in fact, all that is available is forward page turn (right arrow) and backwards page turn (left arrow), leaving no option for the third feature of the Flic (press and hold).

I think if the Flic itself could send out the command, instead of relying on the app, the experience would be better. In my ideal world, the Flic app would store data (it can’t require much memory) on the Flic button, which would then send out the commands on its own. So, the flexibility of the Flic app is powerful–but in function it causes a significant delay–enough to make you worry about each page turn.

As the Flic button also requires features in the app, it cannot trigger events like Keynote slides, which could also be useful.

Ultimately, it is a product to watch, to see if latency can be reduced or a future version created which would contain the programming on-device. It might be ideal for many of its other potential uses. But as it is, I wouldn’t recommend it as a solution for music reading. If you need wireless page turning today, you will still be happier with AirTurn, PageFlip, or iRig devices.