Technology is my passion!

Have you ever wanted to be able to take a PDF file and play it with a music notation program? How about playing it on your iPad? Well, you can with a few simple steps!  During a Finale course I took this summer, I was reintroduced to PhotoScore, a scanning a program that I purchased a few years ago and then failed to update! This program came highly recommended to me a few summer’s ago and so I thought I’d give it one more try. First, I needed to upgrade my copy. With the help of the kind people at Neuratron, I was able to purchase an upgrade via a simple link!

Once installed, I opened PhotoScore and located the “Open PDFs” button in the top menu bar. I chose a simple folk song to open to give this a test run! After opening the PDF, PhotoScore performed its magic and I was seeing the notation in seconds! I was able to make any corrections to the lyrics or notation in PhotoScore. The notation came in perfectly but there were a few small edits needed for the lyrics. I decided to take care of these in Finale!

Once finished, I went to Save As and choose MusicXML as the format. Now it was time to open Finale and select “Import MusicXML” in the Launch Window. In a few seconds, the PDF which was converted to MusicXML was now open in Finale! I made a few changes to the lyrics. If you need to change the key, you would do it now in Finale before opening the notation on your iPad! Save your file as a MUS file and you now have converted your PDF to a file that can play without entering a note!

Of course, you could stop here. However, remember my goal was that I wanted this file to play on my iPad. Since I save my critical files to DropBox, the next step was easy.  [If you don’t have DropBox click on this link to get your free account!] I broke out my iPad and opened my DropBox App. After navigating to the folder where I saved the MUS file, I clicked on the file and then clicked on the Share button in the upper right hand corner and selected SongBook. Don’t be alarmed when you first click on file and see a large message that says “Unable to view file.” Just look for the share icon and you’ll be on your way.

If you are not familiar with Finale SongBook, it is a must have App if you are a Finale user and have an iPad. After choosing SongBook from the Share icon, the app immediately opened and my MUS file opened and appeared on the screen. At this point, you can play the file and change the tempo right from your iPad! Remember, you can’t change the key in SongBook so, as I suggested before, change the key in Finale before opening your iPad!

There are many other options for notation on your iPad! The key is to find the best solution for your personal goal and the most efficient way to accomplish your goal. Have fun exploring and trying other options.

Look how great the notation looks on my iPad!

New Life for my iMac!

Have you ever wanted to breathe new life into one of your Apple computers without getting under the hood? Although I have changed internal HDDs on laptop computers, I didn’t want to take apart my 2011 iMac! I had watched some of the online videos about using suction cups to remove the glass, and thought this wasn’t worth voiding my warranty. However, now that my laptops have SSD drives, I was feeling the sluggishness of this computer during my daily work.

I’ve been engaged in some software testing and have been using Super Duper (SD) to create a sandbox drive! With SD, I can keep my user home files on my larger internal drive but transfer a copy of the OS and applications to the external drive. The purpose is that if the test software goes bad, my internal is in pristine shape. I had created this sandbox with a FireWire drive but I started thinking about the faster speeds of ThunderBolt drives and wondered if there was an affordable external SSD drive with Thunderbolt connectivity!

As I was reading about some of this on the Internet, I stumbled on a new use for the Seagate Thunderbolt Adapter that turns the Seagate external drive into a Thunderbolt drive. It can also be used with internal laptop drives! Was this my solution?

I visited my local Best Buy and purchased an internal 180 GB internal laptop drive – SSD version – for about $170. I plugged it into the Seagate sleeve – be careful as it needs a little support as it is bare drive! A Thunderbolt cable was needed to connect my external drive to my computer. I used SD and copied the OS and apps to the SSD drive as a Sandbox drive. After complete, I booted from the external SSD and took it for a test!

First impressions is that Apps that used to take 5-6 bounces on the dock to start, now open in 1-2 bounces! Not a scientific test but my reality! Everything feels faster but I will need a week of usage to really test this out! I’m having some issues with the MS Office license – it sees the new drive as a new computer and wants a new license for the drive. Not sure how I’m going to solve this except with a call to MS.

Since this computer is a desktop, the external drive is not going to travel with me. Remember, it’s a bare drive so be careful where you place it! The entire solution was under $300 – cheaper than a new iMac or an external SSD like the LaCie 240GB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series SSD.

Read before you buy your SSD, I hear some don’t work with the Seagate sleeve. The one I bought from Best Buy was on sale!

So, what did you do this weekend?

I made an exciting discovery the other day when I started exploring Keynote. Maybe some of you were aware of this feature but it had completely escaped me! I’m a die-hard PowerPoint user and have created presentations for years using that software. Because of the iPad and iCloud, I really wanted to become more proficient in Keynote so I added this to my weekend of challenges.

One of the things that frustrated me with my iPad was not being able to add audio to my Keynote presentations. As a musician, I like to embed my audio and I just couldn’t make it happen on my iPad. I tried 6 months ago, I mean really tried, and just gave up!

As I was using my desktop to create a Keynote presentation this weekend, I didn’t have to think twice about how to add audio. I dragged a mp3 file that was on my desktop onto the Keynote slide and it just worked! (This is so Apple!). I completed my presentation and decided to upload it to my iCloud account so I could review on my iPad while enjoying my coffee!

In the morning, I opened my iPad and the Keynote App. There was my presentation from the night before – remember, it just works! I opened the file and began to play it in presentation mode. Guess what happened? Yes, there was music – the mp3 file I had attached was working in Keynote on the iPad. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it. I tested a mp4 file and the same was true. A discovery!

Lesson learned – you can play Keynote presentations on your iPad that include mp3 and mp4 files but you need to add these files using a computer, not an iPad. I am delighted to know I can do this and then easily transfer a completed presentation to iCloud. Of course, when I open it from the iPad App, I can easily edit my presentation, add some effects, etc. The point is that there is sound!

I’ll be back again as I want to share my experiences with a cloud-based video editing software!

Reflection App

I have so many things I want to blog about this evening and only time for one blog. I’ve made some amazing technical discoveries over the last few days that I will share across the week. I’m also very excited about the new MBP announced today and the new information about Mountain Lion and iOS6. However, that will have to wait for another day.

Since my LCD Projector doesn’t have an HDMI port, I was wondering how to see what I was doing on my iPad without a way to connect to the projector. I know that Apple TV is one option but what happens if you don’t have a way to get the ATV and your laptop on the same network?

The first option I discovered and have used is AirServer . It works fine but I did run into some issues and had no response from customer support.  I know that Apple TV is one option but what happens if you don’t have a way to get the ATV and your laptop on the same network?

Enter Reflection. This App was introduced to me by a fellow blogger and as I’ve been planning for my workshop, I thought it would be great to share with teachers. However, when it was first released it was a Mac-only piece of software. Of course, I love my Apple products but teachers still have PC computers and need ideas! So, last week, I saw an announcement that Reflection is now available for PCs. Perfect timing!!

I purchased a copy of Reflection this evening and in seconds I had it downloaded, installed, and up and running with my iPad. I used it to show a Keynote with audio and the audio from my iPad was playing via my computer speakers. I love the effects – Reflection includes an iPad image–black and white–so it looks like a real iPad screen on your computer. Of course, if you connect the projector to your computer, what is showing on your computer screen including your iPad screen will be projected. To connect your iPad, all you do is double click the “home” button so you can see the icons in the tray. Swipe the tray to the right and click the AirPlay button (see image blue). Be sure to select your computer and Mirroring ON and you are set to go. I’ve include a few photos to help.

 

Of course, this is all working because all of my devices live happily on my WiFi network. Next up, creating a closed network so my computer and iPad can “speak” to each other even when they are in a location with protected WiFi, or worse, no WiFi at all.

Today I am working on my session for my adult students. The project they will tackle is to create an accompaniment for a familiar song. Because they can bring their personal computer to this class, the range of hardware is usually too extensive to imagine. I’ve decided to focus on cloud-based software for my three sessions so all have equal access to the same software. As some of these adult learners are a bit tentative when it comes to technology, Day 1 will begin with an introduction to JamStudio.com. This intuitive software would be ideal for elementary students to explore harmonic progression and create simple arrangements.

Before we make music, I do want to give the group a quick overview of the easy-to-navigate windows that will become their creative pallet. This software isn’t without limitations but is a great way to start. It is very much like Band-in-a-Box but not nearly as sophisticated. One major limitation is the inability to add multiple chord changes in a measure. Of course, I’m a Band-in-a-Box user from way back and that was not one of the easy to find features in Band-in-a-Box when it first launched! The other limitation is that all songs have to be in meter in 4. There is a meter in 3 button but it says “coming soon.” Let’s hope soon means sooner rather than later.

I wrote to JamStudio.com to find out more about the “All Access Pass.” They use the Freemium model. Currently, I can only access a subset of their sound library. Of course, I can pay $4.95 for a monthly pass or $24.95 for a 6-month pass to get more. According to one of the JamStudio employees, “music teachers can apply for a grant using JamStudio to be able to use this tool [All Access Pass] for their students in their classroom!” I do recommend that teachers contact JamStudio to apply for that grant! In the meantime, I’ll be pulling out my credit card later today.

Some of the amazing things about this program is that students have the ability to create an 8-track arrangement with full control of the sounds for each of these tracks. Chords are relatively easy to enter and with the click of a button many different chord variations are at your fingertips.

Well, I wanted to give you a “peak” into my Sunday planning. I’m also using this blog to step back and “think about” my plans as I explore and learn new tools. I’m creating my handout with “Pages” a new learning experience for this MS Word user! Maybe that’s a topic for later today.

Have a great day!

I thought that as I was preparing for my Boone presentation, I would blog about some of my findings. This way the people that attend my session can read more about my process and thinking after the workshop. Also, this might help others as they explore using different technologies in their classrooms.

Problem: I don’t have an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) in my classroom but want to find different ways to engage students. My school budget won’t support my buying an IWB. What are my options?

Solution: There are many ways to engage students without an IWB. One solution that works great includes an Apple TV (ATV); iPad; LCD Projector and this little device from Kanex.

Here is what I did to make this work.

Since my LCD Projector is an older model, it does not have the HDMI port required to connect to an Apple TV. So, I discovered the Kanex ATV Pro. Using an HDMI cable, connect the Apple TV to the Kanex on one side of the device. On the other side, use your VGA cable to connect the Kanex to your LCD Projector. If you want sound, connect an audio device, like a Bose SoundDock, to the Audio port on the Kanex.

Connect your ATV and iPad to the same WiFi network. If you teach, you may need to “beg” your IT people to make this happen. If they say “no”, I have another option in  a later post.

Turn on the ATV and the LCD Projector (in that order). Then fire up your iPad. Remember, Apple has a free App called Remote that will let you control your ATV on your iPad. This is a great way to be sure your ATV settings are correct including that AirPlay is setup on your ATV.

Go to your iPad and be sure to select AirPlay and Mirroring “ON.” If you can’t find these settings, from the main iPad screen , double click the “HOME” button and a tool bar will appear at the bottom of your screen. Swipe the bar to the right to see the AirPlay icon along with controls for audio. Select your device in AirPlay and be sure to turn on Mirroring.

Now like magic, everything from your iPad is projected to the screen. Visit a website or a favorite App and those are also projected. Select an interactive activity via a website or App and pass the iPad around your classroom. Your students will be engaged and interacting without the expense of an IWB.

More to come.

Preparing for Lion

In preparation for the launch of Lion, maybe as early as tomorrow, I am prepping my hard drive. Since I store most of my key files in Dropbox there isn’t much to clean off my drive. So, this evening I’ve taken a new drive and formatted it for my Mac. Since many drives are formatted for PC, I have learned that when formatting drives exclusively for Mac, you must use the GUID partition type or you may be doomed for failure.

After reading various posts, I’ve decided to give Carbon Copy Cloner a try as my cloning tool of choice. Pretty simple – I selected my HD as the source, my external drive as the destination, and that’s it! As I’m typing this post on my MacBook Air, my iMac drive is cloning to the external drive.

After it is complete, I plan to boot from the external drive to test the clone. If it works, I’m ready for Lion at least on this machine.

Are you prepared for the launch of Lion? Will it launch tomorrow?

FinalCut Pro X

Tonight I started a new project in FCX. After a few classes at the Apple Store with the older version, I am much more confident with this program but so slow! I’m sure it takes me twice as much time to perform simple steps than an experienced user. But, they started somewhere, right?

My project is related to work – editing/correcting a video that someone else created for me. The first problem is that I don’t have the source files – so I have to edit the .mov files. The opening of the movie has incorrect information. Using Keynote, I created a mini-movie to replace the original opening. I’ll have to write about Keynote another time but I do like that you can create a slide show with animation and then export as a QT movie.

Back to FCX. I split the audio from the video in my project and deleted the original opening. then I added my Keynote movie. Perfect!

Next problem. The lower third text throughout the movie is incorrect. So I need to do a fix that is more difficult because I don’t have the source files. So, using a jpeg image, I add an overlay and then resize to fit the space. By connecting this image to the video track, I’m able to combine the two so they both can be effected by the cross-fade effects.

Wow! I sit back and watch. Looks really good but….the audio is no longer synched to the video. What did I do wrong? Thank goodness I have a One-to-One class tonight. Let’s see if Jesse can get me out of this mess. Do I have to start over?

Wish me luck!

For my Saturday morning tech adventure, I finally tried ScreenFlow for the first time. My simple project was to capture an online video (for offline viewing), do some minor editing, and add the video to iTunes to transfer to my iPad.

The project was a success and simple to do. ScreenFlow is incredibly easy-to-use and very intuitive. Since I’ve been taking classes on Final Cut at the Apple Store, the timeline feature was already familiar to me and I easily edited the unwanted “commercial” that preceded the video. Then I used the familiar crop tool to easily edit away the unwanted portion of my screen. I really like the snap-to window feature that made cropping a breeze.

Next step, export video. There wasn’t an iPad option just iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV. I selected the Apple TV option as the size was larger. Once exported, I dragged the file into iTunes and the next time I connect my iPad, it will be there for easy reference.

Did you try any new technology today?