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Tech Savvy: I remember when...

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Tech Savvy: I remember when...

By PHIL SEIBEL

The march of technology rarely slows down; every time you turn around you see what’s new and great and are reminded that what you currently have is no longer good enough. That being said, I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for the scratch of vinyl as a 33 spins the sounds of yesteryear out of vintage speakers. Thanks to some savvy garage sale skills and my parents’ fine musical taste, I have been fortunate to have a moderately extensive collection of records. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, The Grateful Dead — all live in their nostalgic glory in our house.

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As much as I love my record collection, I am equally at odds with its inability to be everything I want it to be. I can’t pack up my Pink Floyd collection and take it on a road trip with my turntable, and I have yet to see a pocket size vinyl Walkman in a store

So how do I convert these great original works of art into a portable form in this digital age? Let’s look at a couple options that we have now thanks to tech advances. While we’re at it, let’s look at some options we have now for preserving other traditional memories — slides, photos and such.

Do you hear what I hear?

There are many different options that one can use to preserve traditional audio but let’s focus on two types; a record only option and a multimedia option. If you only have records that you need to convert, the simplest way to convert your old vinyl to MP3 is to use a device like the Ion Profile Pro (around $50-$80). This all in one device allows you to both play your records and use the built-in software to convert the sound into MP3 format which you can use on any digital device. Simply plug it into your computer, turn on the player and the software will run as you listen to your music.

The second option, if you’re like me, will help if you have more than just vinyl that you want to convert. I still have cassette players and turntables, so I don’t need the equipment, I just need to convert it. For instances like this, we just want to find decent audio software. For the most part Audacity (free for Mac, PC and Linux) does a great job, especially at the price. Basically all you do is connect your music player to your computer via headphone jack and you simply record the songs. From that point you just need to trim the length, save the track and you now have a digital copy of your album. It takes some practice though to make sure that you are keeping your gain levels consistent and your balance in check, but once you get the hang of it you’ll think it’s a piece of cake. If you want something a little more foolproof, look at options like NCH Software’s Golden Records or Acoustica’s Spin It Again. And for about $40 you can have a easy to use conversion software that will help create separate tracks and even clean up the audio a bit. I personally enjoy the crack and hiss of vinyl, so I tend to use Audacity and record my own.

We’re back from vacation ... I brought slides!

Remember when you were younger and your cousins went on vacation to the Grand Canyon and when they got back you went over to their house and sat for hours looking at slides they made of their trip? Thank goodness that time is over — oh wait, it’s not. People still share all their vacation photos with everyone they know, now it’s just done on tablets and smartphones. But what about those great slideshows that were made in the bygone era or if you’re looking to put together a modernized slideshow for an anniversary or party, what can you do to save those old slides?

Again, you’re basically looking at two options. A Slide Converter and a Slide Scanner. The main difference you will see between the two is resolution; typically the Slide Scanner will provide a higher resolution than the Converter. That being said, depending on what you plan to do with the converted slides and the quality of the original, it may be a moot point. For around $50 you can pick up either of these options and they vary in ease of use but all seem pretty easy to manage. You will need a computer to hook the majority up to, and the conversion will give you image files of each slide that you can use in just about any context. Veho has an option that fits multiple sizes of slides and negatives, so that would be a plus. The best part about converting your old slideshows? Now you can put them to music.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Way before Instagram, people shared photos that had actually aged or the photographer had used an actual lens filter to create that unique photo. Now, in a digital age, we’ve migrated to instant photography, knowing at the moment the picture is taken if someone had their eyes closed or big sister Susie was poking little Jimmy in the ear. But what about those shoe boxes of photos we have that catalog the Christmases past, the birthday parties or the events where you simply blindly took rolls of pictures and had to wait to develop them to see if any were worthwhile? How can we preserve those chance photographic encounters?

Pacific Images seems to have some great options for the cost and many of their models also work to convert slides, so you could get a two-fer! Their standards will convert slides and pictures up to 4x6 into digital formats so you can share them for years to come. They plug right into a computer so you can transfer the captured photos right onto your hard drive which is handy in case you do want to do some Photoshop work. Pricing ranges from $60-$100 or so depending on the features you are looking at and all of the models are small enough to be portable in case you want to share photos with a family member or friend.

So this season when you are gathered ‘round the fire with your family, you can share or revisit your memories in a digital format.

In Case You Missed It

• And Google Maps for All — In the wake of the Apple Maps debacle, including Scott Forstall’s departure, there has been much speculation on when Google would release a native map app for iOS. There is hinting that it will be sometime soon, but that has sparked the debate on whether Apple would approve it to the iTunes Store ... stay tuned as usual

• We’re Number One! We’re Number One! — For the first time, the Samsung GS3 has beaten sales of the iPhone 4S to become the top selling smartphone, in Q3, globally! Moving forward, with the iPhone 5, and numerous Windows 8 phones, it will be interesting to see how the field might change.

• These Are the (Angry Bird) Droids You’re Looking For — Rovio released the latest Angry Birds series this past week, following up to their popular Bad Piggies and some really awesome trailers. Angry Birds Star Wars Edition has been a blast(er) to play so far and I (Obi)wan to play it all the time now!

• You say Tomato — As if we need one more voice recognition virtual assistant right now, there’s another one getting some buzz. Maluuba, for Android, is the latest in a string of highly anticipated apps.

IMHO

I saw an article about the continuance of the ongoing patent wars of Apple vs. Samsung/Android/Google/The World that said Apple wanted to add the new Android OS Version Jelly Bean to their hit list of “they copied us” along with the Galaxy 10.1 Note. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, this is whole thing is incredibly stupid. If you can’t tell the difference between a Samsung device and an Apple device after going through a research and purchasing process then you shouldn’t be in the smartphone market in the first place. IMHO these companies should focus less on whose phone more closely resembles a small flat box, and more on extending battery life and improving performance. On a side note for all those picking sides, do a little research and see how much crossover there is in each device and the parts they have. Technically Samsung is suing a little piece of themselves in each iDevice.

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Phil Seibel
I've been in the Brainerd Lakes Area for the last 6 years, currently in Baxter with my wife and two little girls. We really enjoy all the activities and places to see in the Lakes area and particularly enjoy going to the beach and walking out at the Arboretum. I grew up in western MN and went to school at the University of MN, Crookston.
(218) 855-5862
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