Best Manager for PDFs…..and Stuff

I have a LOT of music, digital music. I recently pretty much completed scanning all my physical books into PDF. It has been worth it. I can now have them on my iPad, or if I want to copy a page for a student, it is there. Or email a page to them. Boom, its right there.

However, managing PDFs is a real problem now. iTunes absolutely SUCKS at managing PDFs and EPUB books. It throws everything into iTunes Music/Books and then maybe if there is an author (with ePUBs) it will put it into a folder with the author’s name (I generally tag all the say saxophone book PDFs as “Saxophone Books” in the Album Artist field). It generally has resulted in a HUGE MESS to manage. Plus, they are all stored on my Synology unit.

I finally found something that will not only manage my PDFs and ePubs, but also Movies. iDocument 2.

Now, I had been using iDocument (1.0), for a while. It sorta worked for me. It provided a iTunes like interface to view my PDFs. It worked alright, but the new version is heads and tails better. First, it does ePubs and Movies. And it will “Index” the folder if you want, meaning it won’t try to grab all these things and stick them into a library format (most all these “manager programs” want to do that). AND it will automatically reindex when it reopens. Pretty cool.

You can tag items in iDocument, or do searches, including searches of searchable PDFs (so like the word “Coltrane” that appears IN a PDF as well as the title). Searchable PDFs on a REMOTE drive. That is something nothing else seems to do (other than DevonThink Pro, but the indexing in that program is GOD AWFUL SLOW). Huge win. You can also set up Filters, so if you want to just find the “Aebersold” books you have, you can have a little hot link to them.

Two issues with the program. 1, it doesn’t currently do the covers of ePub books, and 2. I wish there was a way to have the program send stuff to your iPad or iPhone (I hate using iTunes for that).

Great program though. If you are having Media management issues (too many Movies, or PDFs, or whatever) and don’t want to use iTunes, OR have them stored on something other than your Mac (like a NAS, or removable HD), then look into this program, $30 well spent.

How To Use Your Time On The Internet Efficiently – The Art Of RSS

We live in a connected age. Duh. There are TONS of websites that have interesting stuff, plus there is YouTube. You could spend ALL DAY just surfing the net and taking in tons of interesting things. And a TON of stuff you could care less about. How do you filter out the stuff and get back to doing something productive?

Enter RSS feeds. I bemoaned the closing of Google Reader a few months ago. What a HUGE time saver that Google service was. Anyhow, RSS is a way to get titles and short parts of stories from Websites. Google had been running the biggest free service for people to subscribe to RSS feeds, but shut it down. There have been a number of startups and existing services that have filled the void such as Feedly, Feedbin and NewsBlur. There are PLENTY of other services that do RSS, or you could do it yourself using a program on your computer. A service is nicer though as it will go out at intervals and check sites for you and keep track of what you read (be it on your iPhone, or iPad, or Mac, or whatever). Of the named services, I have used Feedly and NewsBlur. I am currently exclusively using NewsBlur.

Why NewsBlur? Because it has a history (i.e. it was alive years before Google Reader decided to close), is run by ONE person, and I’m 99.9% my information about what I subscribe to is NOT going to be sold to advertisers nor will I see Ads from NewsBlur. NewsBlur is also really fast. Feedly is everyone’s usual choice, but they are a BIG corporation now, and have venture money sponsoring them. At some point they will have to show a profit….so I’m a little “meh” about them. Though a lot of my favorite RSS reading programs work with Feedly (Reeder on Mac and iOS). I have found a great replacement with ReadKit on Mac. On iOS, I haven’t yet….still using the sucky free client that NewsBlur has.

Ok, so, once you decided on how you are going to get RSS feeds, now how do you gather feeds? Most sites offer a little RSS icon that you can click to get a feed. For example, say you want to monitor Musician’s Friend Stupid Deal Of the Day site. Down at the bottom is a STAY CONNECTED thing with some logos for RSS, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Click the RSS one, and then copy that into you RSS thing. Boom. Done.

Another example, say you wanted to keep up to date with “Best.Saxophone.Website.Ever.” (sorta dubious, but lets agree for the sake of argument). Load that page, and see sort of in the middle there? There is the RSS thing. Though NewsBlur, if you just give it it figures it out (since other people are subscribed to it).

Another example? Sax for some reason you wanted to keep up to date with “”. You hope someday there will be a post there that actually makes sense and is worthwhile (it HAS happened before so….it might again). So you go to the website, and click the activity link, and stick that into you RSS ( Boom. Done.

Another? Here is a cool one. Say you have a BUNCH of YouTube subscriptions. But you SELDOM go to YouTube (Doctor said you can’t….part of your anti-addiction thing). What if someone posts a video that you’d totally be into? Well, you can put that into your RSS. How? Add this “” and replace MYUSERNAME with whatever your YouTube username is. Boom. You can now see what YouTube videos are new for you WITHOUT having to load up YouTube.

There is a LOT more you can do too, like monitor Craigslist for things, follow “legit” news sites, etc. It is REALLY RARE to find a site that doesn’t support RSS feeds. So, give it a try.

Here are a few sites I have in my NewsBlur Music folder:
Ableton Live On Reddit
Saxophonics on Reddit
Bret Pimentel
David Valdez
Sam Newsome’s Soprano Talk
Jazz Advice
Bobby Stern
The Bulletproof Musician

Just a handfull of the sites I follow (912 sites according to NewsBlur). Got any you follow? Post it!

Sheet Of The Week – Safe and Sound (Capital Cities)

Honestly, didn’t know about this group till last week. Sorta sound like MGMT

  Safe and Sound by Capital Cities for Eb Instruments (57.7 KiB, 100 hits)
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  Safe and Sound by Capital Cities for Bb Instruments (57.9 KiB, 64 hits)
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iTunes Radio

Today, Apple released a BUNCH of stuff, including iTunes 11.1 with iTunes Radio. Now, a lot of you will say “big deal, we have had Spotify and Pandora for years. And that is true, these have been around for years……

But sit down Johnny. Have a juice box. iTunes Radio actually is good. I’ve NEVER liked Pandora’s “jazz” selection. Spending a few hours this morning with iTunes Radio’s stations, there are tons of jazz stations. And they play good stuff. AND it is brain dead simple to buy the song, or even tell it that you LIKE stuff like what is playing. AND there is a great little history thing that tells you what you’ve listened to (completely listened to, which I think should be changed to have everything you’ve listened to and the percentage of the song you listened to… maybe you can go back and listen again).

The cost of this? FREE… an occasional ad. Though if you subscribe to iTunes Match ($24 a year) there are NO ads.

Oh, and the Radio stations sync to ALL your Apple Devices (iOS 7 needs to be on them). So if you have 3 Macs, and 3 iOS 7 devices, whatever stations you add show up on them. Pretty cool.

So go download the new iTunes, and try the Radio. It’s really good.

Recording a Gig

This last weekend I recorded a gig. Multitrack. 16 channels. Into a MacBook Pro. With Logic Pro X. All tracks at 96khz. It was an interesting learning experience.

The equipment used was a Mackie Onyx 1620i mixer (firewire enabled), and an old Presonus. The Presonus was basically being used for the preamps and each one of those was being lined into the Mackie mixer. We tested this several weeks ago, and it seemed to work just fine. On the gig, the Presonus didn’t sound all that great. Not sure why, perhaps I didn’t have the gains up enough, or what. There was too much going on and I didn’t check every little thing. Luckily we were just using the Presonus for the drum set, and it did get the snare, kick, and two toms fairly well. The floor tom, for whatever reason, sounded like crap. Not sure if the mic was crapping out (Audix drumset mics, fairly new), or bad cable or connector or placement. It was rattling and picked up more hihat than floor tom. Basically that track was lost. Luckily the overhead mic, my trusty Rode NT4 did a most excellent job capturing the drum set.

The piano player brought his set of Audix SCX25A piano mics. They sounded fabulous. The bass player had a line out of his amp, and I also placed one of my AKG C414s in front of his bass to get the plucking sound. I was pretty happy with that. For trumpet, since I was running out of mics, we used a Sennheiser 421 on trumpet. On woodwinds, we used my other AKG C414 (the EB version, the other 414 is a ULS).

Setting up was fairly easy, but I ran into a couple of problems. First, not enough cables. I thought I had brought enough XLR cables, but when I was unpacking, there were not enough. Well, there were cables, but I generally needed LONGER ones than I thought I would have. That is a problem I didn’t expect and whenever I record in this setup again, I hope to bring longer cables. It was also one of the reasons I used the NT4 for a drum overhead rather than my “plan two” (which is a simple stereo recording using my Marantz recorder incase shit happens with the computer setup). I didn’t have enough cables to do two drum overheads.

Recording into Logic Pro X was easy. In fact, that was the only thing I didn’t seem to have to worry about. I had planned out a great strategy ahead of time. I bought a 120 gig SSD external drive for the Macbook Pro, and used that to record all the audio too. Worked absolutely flawlessly. The Mackie was connected to the firewire and the SSD was on the USB. No glitches, nada. Flawless. $140 well spent.

There was a LOT of bleed across almost all the mics. Not really a bad thing, as I don’t really need to use any reverb plugins at the moment (still in the process of tweaking things)

Here is a track that I mixed down. Enjoy.

Perfect Reed?…..Hardly

USA 325Checking my daily email, I received this

“Pays for itself in reeds saved and lasts forever
-Get a new dynamic and smashing sound
– Make extremely accurate adjustments
-No guessing where to shave
-Stop throwing reeds
The Perfect Reed kit is a new ground breaking method to condition your reeds to a professional level.
White-curvatures reveal exactly where adjustments are required. Make extremely accurate corrections.
Reed fibers are relaxed to give a precise and simultaneous contact with the left-right rails and tip.
Don’t work for your instrument – Make it work for you – Freeing you to express your talent.
There are four mouthpiece profiles for alto, tenor, soprano and baritone. Work’s for all tip openings.
Your lower registers will have a powerful and dynamic clarity with strong mid and upper tones.”

Then the eyes rolled back into my head. It’s a white piece of plastic and a razor blade….for $30. It’s not even a reed knife. It’s a razor blade. What happens when that “reed knife” gets dull?

Ok, if you really WANT to mess with a reed with a knife, get a Oboe or Bassoon Reed knife. Then get a flat surface. I personally wouldn’t use white as it is harder to see thickness of the wood. Get something dark, or black to work on. Then google or youtube the innumerable articles and videos on how to modify reeds. Your real investment is a good knife, but you need the right sort of knife rather than the wrong sort of knife (these are for pulling off a lot of wood. You won’t need this).

Skip this “product” people.