Tag: how to

How to Use Audio Hijack for Podcasting

I recently interviewed a guest for A Slab of Glass who mentioned they wanted some help with Audio Hijack and how to record a podcast with it.

I have been using Audio Hijack for a number of years as my main recording set up for both my microphone and recording a Skype call simultaneously but separately. Here’s how I do it.

Hardware

Before I get into the Audio Hijack setup, I want to talk a little bit about what hardware I use. I use an old MobilePre USB Audio Interface that I plug my XLR microphone into, from there I am able to use a USB cable to connect it to my MacBook Pro. I tried to find one that was like mine but couldn’t from any reputable dealers.

After some quick Googling it looks like some of the best current options are the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD, or the Behringer XENYX Q802USB. By no means are these the only options out there for you to use, there’s a plethora of options out there. I recommend looking at how many mic inputs you need and doing your research on finding the right USB Audio Interface for you before buying one of the linked items above.

The reason I use my MobilePre, or any USB Audio Interface for that matter, is because it offers the ability to use an XLR microphone. Which I think is far superior to USB microphones, and it offers zero latency monitoring. Which means that I can hear my microphone when I talk into it without any kind of lag. This becomes important later once I dive deep into the Audio Hijack Sessions I have created.

Once you have a USB Audio Interface and a microphone set up with your Mac it is time to get into Audio Hijack and see what you can make happen with it.

Listening to Guests Before Recording

The way I like to explain to people how Audio Hijack works is it’s a lot like building blocks that connect and work together. It is the Workflow of Audio.

 

For instance, this is the Session I have created for myself that I start immediately when I connect with someone on Skype. Whether it is to discuss topics beforehand or to give a guest an idea of what we will be discussing, I don’t want to be recording the audio until everyone on board is ready to go. It saves space on my hard drive, but also gives those on the call with me time to get acclimated with talking with me on a podcast.

It starts by taking the audio from the Skype application, and only that application. The rest of my audio goes out through my internal Mac Speakers which I have muted. The reason being is that it allows me to only hear the Skype call, so any notifications or anything that may make sound elsewhere isn’t distracting me or taking my attention away from the person I am listening to.

From there I duplicate the right audio track, which is that only track I hear from my guest and/or co-host. Make sure it is Duplicate Right, as opposed to Mono because the left track is where your audio comes in from. So if I were to make it mono I would hear both my mic through Skype and the guest. Seeing as the USB Audio interface I am using already offers zero latency monitoring I don’t need to monitor the audio of myself through Skype.

Once the audio is coming in the way I want, I have it monitored with a VU meter, which I use to make sure my guests aren’t too quiet, and because audio distortion is prevalent with Skype if things are too loud. Metering is something I highly recommend for anyone looking to record audio through the internet. There are too many variables at play with apps like Skype that may make things sound okay in your headphones, but the recording could be blown out or too quiet. Always keep an eye on the volume meters because it could save you a lot of time in post.

Finally, the last piece of this is to send the newly configured audio through my USB Audio Interface so that I can hear it, along with my own microphone, in my headphones that are plugged in to my MobilePre.

The result is both myself and my guest(s) in my headphones without any latency or lag. But what about when I want to record my guest(s) instead of just listening to them?

Recording with Audio Hijack

When I am recording a podcast I have two goals in mind:

  1. Record my audio
  2. Record the Skype Call as backup if my guests don’t (or can’t) record their end.

To do this I have two separate instances in the session.

 

 

As you can see, the top instance is taking my microphone, making the audio mono (so both sides are the same), having that audio metered with the VU meter and the menu bar meter, and finally record it as an uncompressed AIFF file.

I choose uncompressed because I have the storage to hold it, and when I’m editing a podcast I like to have the highest quality available so when I export it as an MP3 it isn’t compressing an already compressed file.

The second instance, on the bottom, is what I use to record the Skype audio. Much like the listening instance I shared above, it starts with the Skype application audio, duplicates the right audio channel to remove myself in the left and makes it only the rest of the people on the call.

I then lower the volume from 100 to 25 with the volume action Audio Hijack offers. I do this because Skype has a knack for having the audio way too loud, and when I lower the volume it makes my ears happy when editing and doesn’t make things uncomfortably loud in the recording. I then record that audio as an uncompressed AIFF as well, but that isn’t where this session ends.

From there I need to hear the Skype audio in my headphones like I did with the listening session. So I lower the volume even more to compensate for my mic audio, otherwise the Skype audio would be much louder than my microphone in the MobilePre. Once done, I send it to my MobilePre for monitoring.

The end result is my microphone being recording separately, and the rest of the people on the Skype call with me being recorded all while hearing both myself and they Skype audio in my headphones at the same time at equal levels.

Audio Hijack has been a reliable and essential tool in my podcasting setup for some time and I think Rogue Amoeba really has something special here. Before this app, I had to use a small containers worth of cables and an external audio recorder to achieve this. Now, it is as simple as opening a session and pressing a button.

If you are podcasting remotely with someone else, or have guests on your show, this app is great at solving the frustrations of recording over Skype.

If you aren’t sure you are getting things the way you want or need help with something feel free to email me or mention me on Twitter and I would be happy to help.

You can buy Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba today for $59. It’s worth every penny if you ask me.

How To Clean iPad Smart Keyboard

When you are working hard and doing the important things in your day you can find that your iPad Smart Cover might not be in the pristine condition as you would hope. Things like crumbs, dust, cat hair, and other residue on your keyboard can make the typing experience less than ideal. This can be easily fixed with some water and a couple of paper towels. So let’s make a clean iPad Smart Keyboard.

How to Clean Your iPad Smart Keyboard

One thing you can do, according to Apple, is get a damp cloth (or in my case a paper towel) and wipe the Smart Cover to get any residue or dust off the device. Once you do that you will want to get a dry cloth or paper towel and wipe away any water off the devices before they cause any damage.

Make sure your iPad is not connected to the keyboard. Once you start cleaning the keyboard don’t be shy with getting in between the keys. I found using some elbow grease really made the difference. Don’t use all your might to clean this but don’t be afraid to press down on the keys to scrub off whatever is on the keyboard.

I also found that having a clean microfiber cloth also helped get those pesky pieces of dust and cat hair off the keyboard. In my case, I had a microfiber cloth I got at my local Dollar Store. If that doesn’t work the first time around I would give it another go with just a little more water.

One thing I cannot stress enough is that the cloth or paper towel you use only needs to be a bit damp. It doesn’t need to be sopping wet, a dab will do you. While the Smart Keyboard is water resistant, there are small holes on the back of the keyboard to vent air out of the keyboard every time you press a key.

So if you can’t stand the dust and hair stuck to your keyboard, give it a quick once over and make it shine like new again.

How To Blog on an iPad

When blogging on Tablet Habit I have gotten the question of how I do it all from my iPad. It is a fairly simple process, but it can be hard to build from scratch, so I want to break it down here.
Before I get into it though, I want to make a quick note. I write in Markdown. If you write in Markdown this should be pretty easy to follow along. If you don’t know Markdown, you can find out more from the creator of it, John Gruber, on his site Daring Fireball.

Also, this is primarily for anyone using WordPress as their blogging platform. That is the service I use as well as a large portion of other websites on the internet. It is a free, open-source platform and is absolutely worthy of the praise it has received over the years. I will happily help those who use other platforms like Squarespace if they would like. Information on how to contact me is at the bottom of this post.

With that out of the way, I am basically going to format this as a step-by-step process of planning, writing, and posting on a WordPress blog.

Brainstorming

So the first thing is to brainstorm your article. You can do this in a Markdown app you will eventually write this in, or use a mind mapping tool like iThoughts and MindNode. You can even use a pen and paper. The only requirement for this is to get everything out of your head and onto a page or screen. Emptying your brain is key to allow for more mental RAM when actually writing the article. Don’t be afraid to dump anything and everything down, even if it has nothing to do with the project at hand.

Forget to take the trash out? Write it down at the bottom of a page or note on your iPad. Just get it out of your head and write it down. The less you have swirling in your mind the less distractions you will have when actually doing the work.

From there, clean out the things not about the blog post and put them elsewhere, like a task manager or even a different sheet of paper, you can deal with it later. Really focus your outline and/or mind map to one specific goal at a time, in this case it is the blog post.

Writing

Once you know the topic and have some kind of idea what you want to say, it is time to write it into a post. Open your text editor of choice and start using that outline you wrote as a basis of what you want to say.

Side-Note: If you want some good Markdown text editing apps I highly recommend Ulysses, Byword, iA Writer, or Editorial. There are a ton of posts elsewhere that will get in the weeds on Markdown apps so you’ll be able to find one that is right for you in no time. Anyway, back to the writing portion of things.

One thing I like to do is focus on one part at a time. This can be the introduction, conclusion, item 1 of 5 if you are posting a top 5 style post, or so on. For me, I like to have the introduction and conclusion done first. It helps me know what I want to have as the “meat and potatoes” of the post. Bookending the main points I want to make allows me to work with the constraints I put on myself. If that doesn’t work for you try something else out.

There really is no wrong way of writing, but I do have one piece of advice for anyone wanting to do anything on the internet: Really take your time and make something worthwhile here. Hang your hat on your work.

So get things right instead of just getting it done. Once it is done and you want to share it with the world, you have to know what to do with those words you’ve written to get on your website.

Exporting and Posting online

After writing the article, comes exporting it to WordPress.

There are a number of ways to do this but if you are using an app that has integration with WordPress you are halfway there. Ulysses and Byword both have this built in. From within the app with integration you can actually send your post straight to the WordPress website. Just login to your website and in the app there is an option to publish (if you need help finding it let me know what app you are using and I’ll happily help you out).

Alternatively, if the app you want to use doesn’t have built in WordPress integration you can still post to your blog. You just have to use the app Workflow. You will need to convert your Markdown text into rich text. Here is a quick and easy Workflow you can use to accomplish this. It converts the Markdown text into rich text and then sends it to WordPress. Upon first use you will need to sign in to WordPress so make sure you have that information at the ready. But after that initial setup you are set to post away!

If you are using an app that is already rich text (Notes, Microsoft Word, etc.) then you can delete the conversion block in the workflow and just have it take the text and make a post on WordPress directly, or you can download this Workflow I made.

From there you can go to your WordPress post either in Safari or the WordPress app and you can edit the post, add a featured image, change the SEO or meta data, and then post it.

Uploading Images to WordPress

There is one more thing I wanted to share with you that helped me a ton. It is related to images. Uploading images to WordPress from an iPad can be a royal pain if you let it. I created a workflow that allows you to upload an image from Photos right to WordPress and then copy the link of that image so you can paste it into your Markdown text editor. It comes in handy especially if you write in Markdown and want to share that image within world. You can download that workflow here.

PLEASE NOTE: you will need to change the domain from tablethabit.com to whatever your domain is. Otherwise your links won’t be right. Also, this only works if you have a custom website as the link it creates is based on a custom domain. If anyone knows a way to make this work with a WordPress.com website I would love to know!

Congratulations! You just posted your blog using nothing but your iPad!

If you have any thoughts or ideas on how to improve this feel free to let me know on Twitter or get in contact with me.

How To Annotate Screenshots on iOS 11

When you want to share your screen on iOS it has become second nature to just take a screenshot and send it to the person you want to share it with, usually without any editing. This can be useful, but an even better solution is to add things like text, arrows, handwritten words, etc. to that screenshot. It can give whoever is getting that image that little extra reference to help then understand what you are sending.
A great example of this is when a family member needs help with a setting in iOS or has a technical support question. A simple screenshot that may help, but a screenshot with an arrow or an explanation on what to do can save you a ton of time (and headaches).

With iOS 11 this has never been more accessible and easy to use.

Annotate On iPad

To start, you can take a screenshot by pressing the Home Button and the power button at the same time. The only outlier with this is the iPhone X as it does not have a Home Button. To do this you simple press the side button and the volume up button simultaneously.

There is also a way you can take a screenshot with a keyboard attached to your iOS device. If you are a Mac user you probably know the shortcut. You can use pres SHIFT+ ⌘ (cmd)+3 to take a screenshot. You can also take a screenshot and immediately get into the annotation with the keyboard shortcut SHIFT+⌘(cmd)+4. Both are staple keyboard shortcuts that works in any app you are using. So pick what ever method you want to get the screenshot(s) as you see fit. After that is where the real fun begins.

Once you get that screenshot, a small photo of the screenshot shows up on the bottom left corner of your screen. If you take multiple screenshots, they stack on top of each other to indicate that you have multiple screenshots.

From there you can either tap on the screenshot(s) and the built in iOS annotation will come up with a plethora of options at your disposal. You can crop the image, write on it to create arrows or hand write some stuff explaining things.

Alternatively, if you decide you don’t need to annotate or edit the image you can press and hold on the screenshot on the bottom left and the Share Sheet will pop up to send wherever you like.

One great example of what an annotate image can provide is a screenshot I recently got was from my co-host of A Slab of Glass, Christopher Lawley, who shared his thoughts not the redesign of Tablet Habit.

He pointed out the two things he thought needed changing on the site (he was totally right and I have since changed the menu and image like he recommended).

This is the power of screenshots and specifically annotating them.

Along with the crop tool, pen, pencil, and highlighter options you get in the built in iOS editor you also have this lasso tool, which is underrated if you ask me. With this you can select any and all added markings on the image and move them around as you see fit. Below is a quick video of what I am talking about.

So these are the tools you get with the built in annotation, but what if you want to do more advanced stuff with your screenshots? This is where 3rd party apps come in.

3rd Party Apps for Annotation

One app I love to use for annotating images for Tablet Habit is Annotable. It is a 3rd party app that allows you to do some pretty amazing things. I personally love the spotlight feature where everything you select is at the foreground while the rest of the unselected areas of the screenshot are dimmed to showcase the selected areas. It is great to point people where to look in a way that is appeasing to the the eyes.

Spotlight Feature with Annotable

Spotlight Feature with Annotable

If you want to learn more about Annotable and other apps that are great additions for annotation check out The Sweet Setup’s article and pick the right app for you.
So if you find yourself wanting to share your screen with someone, maybe a few seconds of editing a screenshot can help.

If you think I missed something about this or want to give any advice you have about annotating screenshots on iOS feel free to leave a comment below or get in contact with me.

How To Podcast on iOS

When I started to use my iPad more and more I knew at some point I would want to go iPad only. With a lot of tinkering and tweaking my writing workflows and exploring apps to handle some of the things I did on a Mac, I was close. The only thing stopping me from ditching the Mac entirely was editing audio for my podcasts. Then Ferrite came into the picture.

Ferrite is an app that allows you to edit audio, especially podcasts, on iOS. This was the last piece of the puzzle, and I was elated to dive deep into this once I found out about it a year ago. Over the past 12 months I have been playing around with my setup on the app and watching the updates come regularly to make this an even better experience. Canis, the lead developer at Wooji Juice, developed this app, and I wish I could give him a giant hug for all he’s done.

After a year of using this app off and on, I think it is finally time to show you how to edit your podcasts 100% on iOS.

My iOS Podcasting Setup

My iOS Podcasting Setup

Recording

Recording requires both the iPhone and the iPad (more on why later). The iPhone is for connecting with anyone you have on the show so that you can communicate with them either with Skype, FaceTime, or even just a good ol’ fashioned phone call. After that you’re set with the iPhone. If this is a long call I suggest connecting the phone to a power source to avoid any issues.

The iPad is where the magic happens. For me, I use Google Docs to handle all of the pre-show notes and to keep the topics on hand for the episode I am recording. From there I have Google Docs and Ferrite side-by-side within my iPad.

The reason that you can’t both record your voice and have a call on an iPad simultaneously is basically because iOS limits this. The sandboxing of iOS has always been a sticking point for many who want to use the iPad. This might not be ideal, but I understand where Apple is coming from on this. It can be a privacy issue if they did allow this to be a thing and Apple, the company that touts its users’ privacy, would never allow this to happen. While it can be a privacy issue, I think there can be something done to meet users in the middle allowing them to record both a microphone and use Skype at the same time whilst still caring for their personal privacy.

If you want more of a detailed reason for this Canis explains it in a podcast episode of Vector with Rene Richie (this is a link to get you right to the explanation, but this entire episode is great).

From there, It is up to the guest/co-host to record their end as with this setup it isn’t possible to both record audio and use an app like Skype or FaceTime at the same time.

With hardware I use the Audio Technica ATR 2100 with an Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adaptor and a lighting power supply to power the microphone and charge the iPad. The power supply goes into the dongle and provides both a charge and phantom power to a microphone connected, if need be. There are other great mics that you can use to achieve this, but they need to be USB or be connected to an audio interface that allows USB output. For me, the ATR2100 has been in my arsenal for years and I personally like how it makes me sound and the ease of its plug and play setup.

After the setup, and perhaps some testing if it is your first go, you’re ready to record your podcast and after that comes the fun: editing!

Editing

Once you record and get your files through some fashion (I use Dropbox for convenience sake) it is time to begin editing. But before I make a single cut in the podcast, I always clean up the audio.

One service I adore for my workflow is Auphonic. It is basically magic where it uses their own software to automatically level the audio to broadcast standards and removes any persistent noise. I rarely have to clean up the audio after it goes through Auphonic.

If I do find some other things need to be done to the audio I will use Wooji Juice’s Hokusai Audio Editor. This is a wonderful app that pretty much allows you to do anything you want to clean up audio. There’s compressors, limiters, EQ, and noise reduction plugins that any podcaster can play with to clean their audio up without much incident.

Hokusai does take some time to get used to and having background knowledge on audio is also a big plus. But, if you don’t know much about audio terminology and have time, I would play with it using an old episode and see what you can do with it.

Once the recordings are clean and ready to go, I import the clean audio files and put them in a project on Ferrite and begin cutting.

One thing I love about Ferrite is the ability to map the keyboard shortcuts to what you want.

I can either use a list of common shortcuts from other DAWs, like Logic Pro or Garage Band, or go ahead and use whatever I want to use. It is a genius addition and something I wish to see in other pro apps down the line.

Cutting a podcast is fairly straightforward if you have ever done it on a Mac using something like Garage Band or Logic Pro. You can slice, remove, move, and automate things like volume, pan, etc. without much friction.

One benefit Ferrite has over any Mac app is that you can take the project into your hands, literally. This is one of the many reasons I love working in iOS, you can use your fingers and work with you hands to create something instead of relying on a trackpad or a mouse. It is like dancing on an ice rink when you move and cut the tracks with your fingers. It is something that is almost intimate with your work when using the glass as your canvas.

If you want to learn more about how to use Ferrite there are some great tools from Wooji Juice (the company that develops the app) with their video tutorials.

There is also a really nice course by podcaster Joel Sharpton called iPad Podcasting. He also has a supplementary course on iOS audio plugins. I haven’t personally taken these courses but I know Joel personally and he’s not only a great person, but his work is always terrific. If you have any questions for him feel free to connect with him on Twitter @therogueslife.

Once it is edited as you like, you’re almost ready to share it with the world! All you have to do now is export it!

Exporting

There isn’t a set “standard” for podcasting files but I have found that the best is a mono MP3 at a bit rate of 64-128 kB/s. It isn’t studio quality but it does allow for a small file with minimum compression in the audio quality.

Once exported I save it into my iCloud Drive to safekeeping while I work on show notes and other things a podcast episode entails.

From there you just need to recall the file and upload it to your podcasting host (Libsyn, Simplecast, or Blubrry are all great options.

Conclusion

Ferrite is a wonderful and powerful app to use, and it has been a game changer for many podcasters I know who prefer the iPad over a Mac. They have finally create the last piece to the puzzle to go iPad only.

So if you are a fan of iOS and want to start podcasting with your iPad and iPhone here is a guide to do so.

Ferrite is a free app to download but in order to get the full unlocked version it is a $19.99 in-app purchase. That may be a sticker shock to some but in comparison to other editing software this is a drop in the bucket. Logic Pro X for instance is $199, and Adobe Audition is $30 a month to use. To pay $20 and never have to pay for it again is unheard of for production software.

So get podcasting on your iOS devices, and let me know if I missed anything. You can leave a comment below or get a hold of me on Twitter @iamJeffPerry.

iPad Setup Guide: Apple Pencil and AirPods

If you have an iPad or received on for the holidays chances are you also got some accessories for it as well. Two of the biggest accessories for the iPad Pro are the Apple Pencil and the AirPods. Both of which may need some help setting up, and we have you covered for that!

Pairing the Apple Pencil

When you take the pencil out of its packaging you might be wondering how you’re supposed to connect it to your iPad because as you can see, it has no buttons. Though it lacks tangible properties pairing is as easy as plugging it into the tablet itself. To pair your pencil to your iPad all you have to do is simply remove the cap and insert it into the lightning port on the iPad. After you plug in a notification will pop up asking if you want to pair the pencil to the iPad, hit “Pair” and your brand new Apple Pencil is ready to use!

Pairing AirPods

Pairing the AirPods is just as easy as pairing your ApplePencil. To achieve this all you have to do is open the AirPod case near the iPad and wait for the prompt to pop up on the screen. From here all you have to do is press “Connect” and you’re done!

How to Get 280 Characters on Your iPad

Twitter has made some big changes to its character limit recently, expanding its limit from 140 characters to now 280 characters.If you are on you Twitter client and see this little circle where you once saw the 140 character count, that means you now have the 280 characters on your phone.

If you are using Tweetbot or Twitterrific you should have gotten an update recently indicating it is implementing the 280 character limit to everyone as well, so check with your app of choice and see if you do indeed have 280 characters now instead of the old 140.

Now, this change hasn’t come without its issues however. Many people are reporting that they are having issues seeing the new 280 character limit on their iPad but they are seeing it on their phones without a problem.

If you are in this group of people there are some fixes you can try to join the #280club on your iPad.

1. Force quit the app and restart it.

To do this just double-press the home button or enter the app-switcher and swipe up on the Twitter app you’re using and reopen it.

2. Uninstall the app and reinstall the app

Some people have still had issues seeing the 280 character limit even after quitting the app and reopening it. So if that doesn’t work the next thing you can try is to uninstall the app entirely and reinstall.

This may require you to login again so make sure you have your password on hand if you don’t know it off the top of your head.

3. Restart your iPad.

Even after reinstalling the app other have said the only fix that worked for them is completely restarting your phone.

So hopefully this fixes your problem with Twitter not allowing you to write with 280 characters, it seems to have helped everyone we have spoken with.

If this doesn’t work let us know in the comments, or mention us on Twitter and we would be happy to help!

The Apple “i” Bug fix

Over the past several days social media has exploded over the issue with the peculiar bug when you type in the letter “i” and you get a weird string of text showing as “A ⍰.”https://twitter.com/theqtlinn/status/927208912012677121

The reason, according to Jeremy Burge at emojipedia, is this:

What’s really going on is that the letter “I” is being appended with an invisible character known as Variation Selector 16 when auto-correct kicks in to replace the lowercase “i”.

This VS-16 character is intended to be used to make the previous character have emoji appearance.[2] When used in conjunction with the letter “I” it displays in some apps as “A ⍰”.

The correct [behavior] should be to ignore the invisible variation selector if the previous character doesn’t have an emoji version.

There is a fix you can do today to stop your phone from doing this. According to Apple’s support page they want you to create a text replacement.

Here’s what you can do to work around the issue until it’s fixed in a future software update:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement
  2. Tap 
  3. For Phrase, type an upper-case “I”. For Shortcut, type a lower-case “i.”

This seems to be a temporary fix until the next iOS update, most likely 11.2. According to a number of sources like The Wall Street Journal, Complex, and AppleInsider Apple is working on a permanent fix for this in the 11.2 betas.

So there are options to fix this today but they are only temporary until iOS 11.2 is released. The 2nd beta came out today, so it is being worked on.

We can only hope it comes out soon.

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