Another potentially useful hack for GB: BandToLogic.
Happened to stumble across Siobhan Donaghy’s web site. It opened a new window that used Flash to pretend to be a music magazine. I cannot imagine a less useful metaphor for navigating a web site, especially since it is completely unreadable without extensive use of the supplied zoom button and jump-scroll arrows.
It is the stupidest site design I’ve ever seen. Slow to load, hard to read, hard to navigate, effectively impossible to link to or quote from, and actively hostile to large and/or high-resolution displays. It is a remarkable exercise in “polishing a turd.”
It will probably win an award, which the designer will cherish forever and leverage to justify even greater sins.
It’s not on Software Update yet, and it’s not prominently linked on the support site, but GarageBand 1.0.1 was released today.
It looks like they’re just clearing up the performance warning dialog boxes (many of which were either confusing or just plain wrong).
Update: Some folks are reporting other improvements, such as performance of some keyboards. I noticed that the online Help includes some new FAQs (and a working link to the keyboard shortcuts), but nothing else yet. The error dialogs are definitely clearer, though:
I finally got around to testing my piano overload song on my other Mac, a dual 1GHz G4 tower with 768MB of RAM, booted off of a 4200 RPM external FireWire drive. The second CPU more than made up for the slower hard drive and lower memory, allowing me to add four more software pianos than I could use on the PowerBook.
Final total: nine software pianos, five software percussion instruments, a software acoustic bass, and seven sampled loops. I’ll try again when I finish rebuilding the fast internal hard drive, to see if that will let me squeeze in another piano.
Update: Nope, the faster hard drive didn’t make a difference. It looks like CPU and RAM dominate, and dual CPUs make a big difference (as they should).
Update: Past a certain point, more RAM doesn’t make a big difference, either (says the guy who just bumped his PowerBook to 2GB). It looks like 512MB is a good working minimum, and 768MB or so will handle just about anything a G4 or two can keep up with. Above that, you’re basically adding buffer cache to compensate for the speed of your hard drive.
First pass at a third-party MIDI importer for GB, courtesy of Bery Rinaldo. Much nicer than the previous workaround.
GarageBand only allows you to have one project open at a time. This is not an obvious or necessary feature of a music program, but at first glance, it’s defensible in the context of Apple’s iLife package. For a bunch of more-or-less free tools designed for light use by non-professionals, allowing multiple documents adds the risk of clutter and confusion (not to mention memory management and engineering effort). iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD all work the same way, right?
Well, no, they don’t. iTunes and iPhoto simply don’t have the concept of multiple projects. Something is either in your library or it isn’t. iMovie and iDVD are single-project-based, but the projects generally have a much larger scope. I’m sure a lot of iMovie users wish they had an iPhoto-like clip library to store their favorite video elements in, but for the most part, few people are going to want to edit more than one movie at a time.
This is not the case for music, especially in an application that encourages experimentation. One of the very first questions I saw on the various GB forums was “how do I make my own reusable loops”. Tied with it was “how do I import MIDI tracks”.
The answer right now is “through painful workarounds.” To make your own loops, you export your performance to iTunes, find the AIFF file on disk, load it into the SoundTrack Loop Editor that’s part of Apple’s free AppleLoops SDK, manually mark it up, drag the tagged file into GB’s loop browser window, and then wait while the complete index of available loops is rebuilt. To import MIDI files, you download two third-party freeware packages and string them together to fool GB into thinking that you’re playing the music on a keyboard.
Even the simple act of cutting and pasting between songs is made difficult by the single-project design. You can do it, but only within the same session, because GB clears its private clipboard on exit. And it exits whenever you close a project. So, if your goal is “copy my cool bass track from RockDude into BluesDude,” the order of operations must be Cut, Open, Paste. Anything else will wipe the clipboard and force you to start over.
Sure, after you’ve done it a few times, you’ll adjust your behavior to match GB’s expectations, but isn’t that precisely the problem that consumer-friendly creative applications are supposed to avoid?
Latest Apple press release: “With Apple Loops support, future versions of Logic Pro will easily import projects from GarageBand.”
That wipes out about half a dozen common complaints about GarageBand.
I’d love to supply a link to this extremely cool iPod accessory, except that the manufacturer doesn’t list it on their web site, and Apple’s online store generates nonsensical URLs that don’t share well.
Instead, imagine a white plastic brick, about the size of an O’Reilly book, that opens up into a surprisingly good mini-speaker system that doubles as a fully-functional iPod docking station. It’s quite loud for a system with only 2 watts/channel, and distortion is well-controlled at reasonable volumes. It’s compatible with older iPods and other devices through the Aux port (short cable supplied), which I’m connecting to my PowerBook for a significant sound boost.
They claim up to 24 hours of life on four AA batteries, or you can use the supplied wall-wart to run it on AC.