Tag Archives: cassette tapes

PTJ 108: Yo Apple, What Time You Got?

It was done quietly and with little fanfare.  After Apple’s traditional September iPhone launch, the fruit-themed toy maker killed off the iPod Classic.

El Kaiser “pours one out” for the venerable personal media player, Apple’s last disk-based iPod, and he and J.D. break down the latest iPhone and Apple Watch news.

The summer movie sensation “Guardians of the Galaxy” focused a huge spotlight on the power of the mixtape. This week J.D. shows you how you can make your own mixtape in today’s stream happy world.

In other news, Samsung releases two new Galaxy Note phablets; Amazon drops the price of the Fire Phone to under a buck, the FCC is collecting more comments about Net Neutrality; the Discovery Network speaks out against potential Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger; Twitter gradually roles out its “Buy” button; Home Depot stores suffer through a huge Target-like security breach; Microsoft debuts a new presentation and internal service app; and Tivo announces a new super high-end and super high-priced DVR; and

 

Mastering the Modern Mixtape

awesomemixThe top-grossing film of the year so far, Guardians of the Galaxy, brought some much needed fizzy fun to the summer box office — along with a killer soundtrack comprised of feel-good hits from the 1970s. One of the key props in the movie was an ancient Walkman and battered mixtape, and those may have led many a Gen Xer or young Baby Boomer to get all nostalgic for those days when “playlists” were the handwritten track names on the back of the folded card in the cassette-tape case. (They’re so cemented into American pop culture that there’s even a Broadway song about mixtapes in the Tony Award-winning show Avenue Q.)

For some people, the mixtape prop may have posed the question: These days, how do you share a specially curated batch of songs with a loved one, or compile your personal favorite tunes in one time-capsule collection? Cassettes are pretty much extinct; Google Play doesn’t support sending digital media as gifts and you can’t burn songs to CDs there. Apple even removed the Gift This Playlist feature from the current version of iTunes. But there are other ways.

spotifyYes, it’s become a largely streaming world out there, but some popular services like Spotify let users create and share playlists with each other. The 8tracks site has playlist sharing too, as does the appropriately named Mixtape.me site. Other streaming services offer similar tools, so if you already use one, check the feature set to see if sharing playlists is an option. There’s also a site called Tape.ly that does online mix tapes.

If you want a more physical, personal-memento way to share a mix, there’s an Australian-based start-up called Sharetapes that works with services like Spotify, Soundcloud and 8tracks. You can also use Sharetapes with YouTube, a site many people use to make and share playlists of audio and video clips.

With Sharetapes, you create an account and you then buy a pack of blank “Sharetape cards,” five for seven bucks. You make a playlist in a supporting service and click the Record button on the Sharetapes.com site to copy the track information to one of your blank Sharetape cards. Then you give it to someone. The cards have QR codes and also work with NFC-enabled devices, so when your recipient gets the card, he or she can use the QR code or NFC function to zap the info onto a mobile device and hear the tracks on the playlist.

sharetapes

But what if you want to send music mixes to someone who doesn’t use any of the online streaming services? As one might expect, Amazon also lets you send albums or individual songs as gifts.

Even in  iTunes 11, you can still send individual song downloads to another iTunes user as gifts; right-click the menu arrow next to the Price button and select Gift This Song. And, while a bit retro these days, you can still burn CDs from songs you’ve bought and downloaded from the service. Once you make a playlist and have it open in iTunes, you can even print a custom CD cover by going to the File menu and choosing Print.

CDprintAlthough there may be copyright issues involved, people have also shared tracks on a playlist by uploading unrestricted MP3 ripped from CDs to online file storage folders or passed them along on flash drives.

So even though cassettes have become fluttery antiques, there are still many ways to share your musical whims with friends and family. And going digital does have its advantages. As the Brotherhood Workshop points out in “LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord’s Mixtape,” Peter Quill’s homemade audio cassette probably wouldn’t sound too good after 20 years of constant play.

Episode 59: Welcome to SNARK WEEK!

This week J.D. shares tips on how to use the web to get the perfect digital camera then she and Pedro discuss the recent announcement that veteran British actor Peter Capaldi will take a turn as the time travelling Time Lord, Doctor Who. In the news Comcast is working on a new system urging users to download copyrighted material legally; CBS and Time Warner Cable continue their Battle of the Gargantuans; Samsung maybe inching closer to unveiling a smartwatch; the FBI may be targeting Firefox users on the TOR network; and not even your toilet is immune from the hacking scourge.

Episode 59 News: Cable Vision

Would you like fries with that illegal download — or at least, a Buy button? According to a report in Variety, Comcast is said to be working on a new system where ISPs that sense users downloading copyrighted material from sharing sites and then sends out a pop-up message to the user with links to legally purchase the same content. Meanwhile, the squabble between Time Warner cable and CBS continues and viewers are not amused.

In the Department of New Stuff, the National Football League has released its new mobile app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS. LinkedIn has also updated its mobile app to allow job-hunters to apply for listed positions right within the app. The Smartwatch Watch continues. PC World and other sources have reported that Samsung has filed a US trademark on the name “Samsung Galaxy Gear.”

No one one’s surprise, Google announced the new Moto X smartphone last week. In a move that surprised pretty much everyone in media, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, bought the Washington Post newspaper this week for $250 million dollars, or the change in the cushions of his couch.

New malware found in sites hosted by Freedom Hosting is targeting Firefox users on the Tor network. Because the malware sends the user’s information to someplace in Reston, Virginia, some security researchers are thinking the FBI may be involved in the hack.

Last week, we worried about cars getting hacked. This week, high-tech toilets could fall victim to foul play. Trustwave, a security company, recently put out a warning about the Android app used with luxury Satis smart toilets made by Lixil. Because the Bluetooth PIN for the app is hardcoded to 0000, a hacker could grab a copy of the app, pair up a device with your toilet and then assume control of the bidet function or abuse the high-tech commode’s Direct Vortex Flush. (With ABC television executives talking to folks in Disney’s new Lucasfilm division about possibly producing a live-action Star Wars TV show, maybe they could use some new characters — like Direct Vortex Flush, Sith apprentice.)

Need a tablet computer? Microsoft has dropped the price on its pricier Surface Pro tablet computers. Apple’s iPad saw a sales decline of its own during this past quarter. According to IDC, the iPad went from having 60.3 percent of the tablet market last year at this time to 32.4 percent here in 2013. The new hardware rumors are starting to heat up for fall, though, with “a Retina display iPad Mini with different color options that arrives next month” as one of this week’s whispers.

In other quick Apple bites, the company is offering to replace third-party chargers. Apple is also set to restore the rest of the services on its developer site this week, as it finishes overhauling the system in wake of last month’s security issues (and just in time to push out a fifth beta for its iOS 7 software due out this fall). Oh, and Electronic Arts has announced that Mac gamers can play Sim City starting August 29th. Mark your calendars.

tapeAnd finally, we have two notable milestones to acknowledge this month. August 5th marked the the first anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars — NASA has a video. August also marks the 50th anniversary of the humble cassette, which made its official debut at a radio show in Berlin in 1963. Still have a recorder and a few old blank tapes out in the garage? Here are some song ideas for a Mars-worthy mix.