Archive for April, 2008

Protecting Your iTunes Library.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Via Email IconThis question came in after the show via email from Ken…

I went to play some iTunes from my computer and discovered that EVERYTHING I had there is missing! My library is empty as well as every other window. Can anyone tell me WHAT HAPPENED??? and how can I possibly get all my music back?

The one thing I don’t know is if your music still exists on disc? You say that your library is missing, but I’m guessing you’re referring to the library of music that you see from within iTunes.

I need you to check whether your music collection is still sitting on the hard drive somewhere (the default would be your Music folder if you’re on a Mac). If it isn’t, chances are something has gone wrong outside of iTunes as I’ve never heard of iTunes actually deleting song files.

But if your music is still there, iTunes catalogs your music in a database which apparently sometimes gets corrupted, and that can be remedied… probably not how you’re hoping in that you have to start over… but once we get things straightened out… I’ll show you how to make it much easier to recover from this if it were to ever happen again.

The first step should restore your ability to see all your music in iTunes again.

Assuming your music exists in a folder named “Music”, simply choose ‘Add to Library‘ from the FILE menu in iTunes and navigate to and choose your Music folder. All the songs within it should be added once again to your iTunes library.

From there is any playlists you may have created. Unfortunately the news here isn’t as good. You’re going to have to manually recreate your playlists. There’s a way to back them up, which I’ll get to next, but without that backup, you’ll need to recreate them manually this time.

Once you get your playlists recreated, here’s how you back them up;

To save a copy of all your playlists, choose File > Export Library. The exported information is saved in XML format.

And here’s how you restore your playlists from that back up;

Choose File > Import. The imported playlist includes only songs and videos already in your iTunes library. Unavailable items are removed from the list.

I lost my extensive collection of playlists once to this particular ghost in the machine… I still don’t have my playlists back to their former glory but I can promise you that I back up my library once a week. If you have a .MAC account, your iDisc is a great place to store those back up .XML files, that way if anything happens to your hard drive or computer, your playlists are safe.

Hope that helped. Anyone who has alternative techniques is welcome to post them by clicking ‘comments’ below.

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Creating a Photo Slideshow with iDVD.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

On the Air IconOn the air last week we were talking with Juan who was looking to create a photo slideshow that he could play back on his living room DVD player.

Initially I guessed it would be a combination of iPhoto and iMovie that would handle this task… but after a little research, it turned out that iDVD was the tool for the job.

I was all prepared to offer up the complete ‘how-to’ here on the blog… but why bother when the process is described so well right here on the Apple site.

I will say that I fired up iDVD and gave it a try and turned out a pretty slick looking 30 image slideshow in about a half hour.

Could it be any easier? All praise to the giant Apple. Happy editing…

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Connecting Two Macs Together.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Do It YourselfThis question on connecting one Mac to another came in via email from Linda…

I have a four year old Mac (OSX/10.3.9) desktop that needs the OS updated. My nephew received the updates with his newer Mac laptop. When he inserted the discs, he discovered my machine has just a CD drive while the update discs are in DVD format. Is there any way his Mac can be plugged into mine to make the upgrade? If not, are there other alternatives short of getting a new computer?

Your question hits on the solution… what you’re going to want to do is connect the two Macs together with a FireWire cable and put your older Mac in ‘target disk mode’… which will cause your Macs hard drive to appear as an external FireWire drive on your nephews computer.

From there he should be able to load the update discs on his laptop and then update OSX on your Mac via FireWire and target disk mode.

Important to do first: Unplug all other FireWire devices from both computers prior to using FireWire target disk mode. Do not plug in any FireWire devices until after you have disconnected the two computers from each other, or have stopped using target disk mode.

To Use FireWire Target Disk Mode

  1. Make sure that the target computer (your computer) is turned off. If you are using a PowerBook or iBook as the target computer, you should also plug in its AC power adapter.
  2. Use a FireWire cable (6-pin to 6-pin) to connect the target computer to a host computer. The host computer does not need to be turned off.
  3. Start up the target computer and immediately press and hold down the T key until the FireWire icon appears. The hard disk of the target computer should become available to the host computer and will likely appear on desktop. (If the target computer is running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, you can also open System Preferences, choose Startup Disk, and click Target Disk Mode. Then restart the computer and it will start up in Target Disk Mode.)
  4. When you are finished copying files, drag the target computer’s hard disk icon to the Trash or select Put Away from the File menu (Mac OS 9) or Eject from the File menu (Mac OS X).
  5. Press the target computer’s power button to turn it off.
  6. Unplug the FireWire cable.

To read more about target disk mode, eligible computers, the ATA requirement, issues when connecting Intel-based Macs to Power PC’s and what to try if this isn’t working for you… Head over to this document within Apple Support.

Another thing to consider here, especially if you’d benefit from giving your older computer DVD ability, would be to pick yourself up an external USB-2 or FireWire DVD drive… they’re relatively inexpensive these days and this would of course give you a drive to do the update from.

And finally, if all else fails… or if you’re lazy… or if you just don’t want to deal with all this… just bring your Mac into your local Apple Store and they’ll update it for you (call ahead for an appointment).

Hope that helps… And wow, you didn’t have to buy a new computer.

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Getting Rid of Changes Made in iPhoto.

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Do It YourselfThis question on restoring the original version of a photo edited in iPhoto came in via email from Annie…

I got an iMac two weeks ago and I’m in the learning stages. I am using iPhoto and over-edited a picture and made it worse. I want to go back to the original picture and start over, but I cannot find the procedure.

If you are just starting out… iPhoto ’08 makes it impossible to do harm to your original photos as all the editing is ‘nondestructive’… in other words you can always revert back to the original no matter how much damage you’ve done.

From within iPhoto, simply click the PHOTOS menu and select REVERT TO ORIGINAL down at the bottom. This method will work even after you’ve closed and re-opened iPhoto.

A couple things to keep in mind though;

  • For photos imported to earlier versions of iPhoto and never edited, nondestructive editing WILL apply in iPhoto ’08.
  • However, for photos imported to earlier versions and edited either in iPhoto or in a separate application such as Photoshop, nondestructive editing DOES NOT apply. To use nondestructive editing on these photos, you must undo all the edits to date by doing one of the following:
    • Reverting to the original photo
    • Reimporting the originals from outside iPhoto
  • Nondestructive editing also does not apply to photos imported to iPhoto ’08 but edited in a separate application.

So happy editing. Move bravely forward with no fear in your heart.

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Converting Video : MPEG-2 to Flash Video.

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Via Email IconThis question on video conversion came in via email from Earlene…

What is the easiest, most efficient way to convert MPEG-2 to Flash? These are files that are already saved as MPEG-2. I want to convert them to flash for web use. Some are 30 or 60 minutes long.

Have you ever heard of http://www.mogulus.com/

Do you like it? Do you know of anything like it that you like better?

Earlene and I wrote back and forth a couple times and her situation became clearer. Her group is looking to bring a Community Access Channel online 24/7 to the web. They’re considering the tools at Mogulus.com as a way for doing that. But first let’s answer the initial question.

The best bet for converting MPEG-2 video to the Flash Video (FLV) format would likely be the Video Encoder that comes bundled with Adobe Flash CS3. Although there’s other programs that could handle this conversion, such as Debabelizer… it always makes the most sense to keep things native to the environment you’re working in, in this case Flash.

  • (ed.note; We also found out that in order to export Flash Video from Quicktime Pro, you needed to have the Flash Video Encoder installed anyway… it’s the installation of Flash that gives Quicktime FLV export capability. Also, to give Quicktime Pro the ability to open MPEG-2 files will cost you a $20 plugin).

But let’s return to Earlene wanting to interface with the live broadcast functionality of Mogulus.com. A quick check of the FAQ’s on their site states their preferred format for incoming video as .MOV format (Quicktime) compressed in h.264.

So what we’re left with is the need to convert MPEG-2 to h.264 .MOV format (Quicktime)…

  • The cheap way is to use Quicktime Pro which will cost you $50… $30 to upgrade Quicktime to the Pro version and $20 to give Quicktime Pro MPEG-2 import capability.
  • The expensive way is to own Final Cut Studio ($1300) which would easily handle this conversion as well as provide state-of-the-art editing, motion graphics, color control, audio editing, etc. I’ve been using Final Cut for a few years now and could no longer live without it.

In Earlene’s case, if she simply has pre-produced MPEG-2’s that require conversion… then the cheaper Quicktime option is her best bet. However if she foresees that her groups broadcasts will require editing, titling, sound editing, etc… then Final Cut Studio would probably be a worthwhile investment.

As to whether I know of anything better then Mogulus, unfortunately I’m not familiar with this particular niche. If anyone out there could direct Earlene to some alternatives… please post it to the comment area below.

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Extracting Your Pictures From iPhoto.

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

On the Air IconThis question came from Nancy via email and was talked about on the air with Mike…

I have just installed iLife 8 and Photoshop Elements 6 and I do not know how to get my current iPhoto photos to open in Photoshop for editing.

There appears to be two ways to go here…

  • From within iPhoto you can choose EXPORT from the FILE menu. If you select specific photos first, those are the only files that will be exported… if you select nothing first, then every single file in your iPhoto library will be exported (so be careful). In the export dialog box it tells you how many photos will be exported in the lower-left.
  • Right-click or Control-click any photo in your iPhoto library and choose “show original” from the pop-up menu. A Finder window opens up revealing the originals… from that window you can copy those files to your desktop or any other folder in the Finder. If you’re going to go this route though, make sure you select then option-drag the files to the new folder (copying them), if you don’t, the files will be moved instead of copied and they will no longer be accessible from iPhoto (although their icons unfortunately remain).

I would also mention that skipping iPhoto altogether might be your best option if your intention is solely to edit in PS Elements. If you download your camera’s pictures directly to the Finder, they’re loose and accessible… you could always import them into iPhoto later if you wanted to use that program for organization.

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