Tag Archives: technology

how i gave up and learned to love powerpoint

(and keynote)

i find it strange that someone like myself who has been so involved with the visual arts for so many years, especially as a medium of conveying scholarly information, would be so against powerpoint. but here i am, trying to understand how to make this thing fit in my career.

and believe me, i will have to.

the last few colloquia we’ve had have hinged on powerpoint and even when the presentation was about archival research at the Bach-Archiv with Dr. Michael Maul, i still thought, “all these presentations make me think of is sixth freaking grade.” i mean let’s face it, in its infancy, MS Powerpoint was filled with star wipes, flying bullets and clipart. and i was young and impressionable, determined to make up my mind about my aesthetic beliefs right then and there. the result? no powerpoint. and to this day i’ve hated it in in presentations, at conferences, basically at every turn.

who decided that the only way to disseminate mass information to a crowd was through a slide show? i mean, i acknowledge its efficacy but can’t we have something a little more interesting? pantomime? interpretive dance? anything?! i’m in the process of working on my paper for a conference i’ll be speaking at in june and i dread the fact that i must use powerpoint (Mac’s Keynote, respectively) to play things and show things — the nature of my paper is very visual. and you better believe that it will be the most ingenious presentation ever given.

or maybe it’ll have a star wipe. sigh.

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how the iPhone has made me a better musician

(and student, and teacher, etc.)

so those of you who know me know that i am obsessed with my iphone. i won’t lie, i can’t, it is a fabulous piece of machinery. and while i love it for all of the ridiculously goofy things it can do (and that whole phone business) i’ve tried to incorporate it into my life as fully as possible. now considering that i am a full time musician, student, graduate assistant and teacher, those are the things that need the most help. so how do i do it?

imani’s favorite, can’t live without iphone apps:
General
so of course, i couldn’t work without the first page apps from Apple: Safari, Calendar (i’ll talk more about this in a sec), Camera, Weather, Maps, Calculator, Settings and Contacts. these are all on my first page and are opened pretty much every day. in my dock i have iPod, Phone, Messages and Mail (which at last count has six email accounts in it). the one probably used the most would be Calendar because if i don’t schedule everything very carefully, well…CRASH! i am using MobileMe right now which i love mainly for the calendar sync. I have a MacBook, an iMac and my iPhone all with calendars on them. syncing between the three is vital.

Music
i am always on the hunt for great music apps which, i think, are few and far between. but the ones i have, i have totally embraced. this includes stuff for performing, practicing, listening and music reference.

  • Tempo is possibly the best metronome i have ever seen. it has a beautiful interface and is, possibly, more functional than my other metronomes. it goes up to 300 bpm, you can choose from a variety of time signatures (unfortunately only meters of 4 and 8 but if you want something like 5/2 or 8/16 just do the math), the accent can be placed on any beat and the beat can be subdivided into eighths, triplets and sixteenths. it also has a visual element (it flashes) which you can remove. my favorite part came with the new update. you can add specific tempi to a setlist. so if you’re working on multiple pieces you can save each one and then come back to them without having to reset the metronome. it has pretty much replaced my lovely little Korg and now that i have multiple instruments, i can keep one in one case and just carry my iPhone. i always have a metronome.
  • all the same can be said for Cleartune, a beautiful chromatic tuner. it has a great interface, works extremely well (i use it with my baroque bassoon), the calibration can be changed (i keep it always on A4 = 415.0) and you can change the temperament! as i enter into the world of early music, i have found this extremely handy. i keep my other tuner in my modern bassoon case, set to A4 = 440 and i never have to worry about re-calibrating.
  • Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music pretty self explanatory, the dictionary boiled down into app form. while i’m waiting for a much more comprehensive dictionary (i’m looking at you Grove! you got my email!) this is definitely worth it. i, myself, have the Oxford in book form and pretty much rely on that but i have played on this app and it’s easy, well designed and has all of the terminology any student might need.
  • Reverse Chord Finder a beautifully designed handy little chord dictionary that allows you to play the chords on the piano and then gives you a list of chord names with inversions, etc
  • Composer of the Day a cute little app put together by the folks at Wittenberg University with, you guessed it, info on composers each day! it includes audio samples, a short little bio and not as well known composers.
  • Ghostly Discovery and now for something completely different. i found Ghostly in an App Store “music discovery” list and figured i’d try it out. i pretty much use it every day at this point. it creates a playlist based on variables that you enter (laid back, agressive, etc. then followed by tempo) from their catalogue. so no, it’s not all of the music in the world, but the music on their label is diverse, interesting and now takes up a big chunk of my recently played playlist (as i bought three albums from them in the first week) find some new music, it’s good for you!

School/Organization
now these are a mix of music things and general things, stuff to help organize your life and make teaching lesson plans just a little bit easier.

  • Here, File, File! this app just hit the App Store and i am totally in love. HFF lets you view your computer’s files remotely from anywhere, not just on your local network. the interface is GORGEOUS (the best is your computer sits on a desk with your current wallpaper), it’s intuitive and allows you to look at (and play) all of your files. by favorite-ing them, you can go right to files and folders directly and the search is clean. let me give you an example of when i could have really used HFF: last fall in the Faustus class, RG asked me if i had a recording of Mahler 9 on my iPhone. i, of course, did not. but had i HFF, i would have connected to my iMac (also known as my giant repository of music) and we would have been set to listen to the last movement, and cry. a fabulous way of accessing all of your files and necessary if you have more than one computer. may need a little technical assistance setting up, depending on your router but totally doable. get it now while it’s 30% off at $6.99!
  • Dropbox the same can be said for Dropbox — i use Dropbox and HFF in completely different ways and for some people, all they may need is cloud storage. well i find Dropbox to be the best, especially when it comes to sharing files. during my intersession class, i created a Public folder with all of my videos, articles, etc that my class was able to access (since i did not have access to WebCT) and it was much easier than printing out everything.
  • iTranslate a universal translator that really translates! there is the free version and then iTranslate Pro, the difference between them being no ads, landscape mode and a favorite phrase list but both versions have text-to-speech add ons (which i don’t use but look good). i have used iTranslate for my German translation work and it has done quite well, having words that some of my dictionaries don’t have. if you don’t mind ads, just get the free version, they’re pretty unobtrusive. also, if you turn on the keyboard for the corresponding language (Settings –> International –> Keyboards), the iPhone will do Auto-Correct in that language (with corresponding diacriticals!)
  • Google/Inquisitor both really great search engines (Inquisitor is from Yahoo!), Google has a voice search option that works very well. both search engines search through all available engines and have very clean, useable interfaces.
  • 2Do this app has earned a permanent spot on my first page. a checklist app with more than checklists, i use this to organize all assignments for classes as well as my everyday tasks that need to be accomplished. it is full powered, again, with a beautiful interface and syncs with iCal (thankfully! i lost everything on my iPhone but the 2do backup was there & ready) while there is a free version that works if you have minimal task needs, i strongly recommend the full version that comes with unlimited groups/tabs and push notifications.
  • Things for those of you with more intense GTD needs, there’s nothing better than Things. i think the screencast explains it better than i ever could but i couldn’t live without it. granted both the iPhone app and desktop app are pricey ($10, $49.95 respectively) one could do with just the iPhone app if necessary. the integration between the apps and iCal, however, make it well worth having both.

other apps that i love include WorldCat, Pastebot, Simplenote, and Wikipanion. keeping everything on all of my computers synced and having access to everything keeps me prepared for, well, anything. could i get along without all of this? absolutely! i still rely on my handy Moleskine notebook. but if the technology is out there, why not take advantage of it? i mean, as spacey as i tend to be in conjunction with my intense OCD, i need it.

please list any apps that you think fit into these categories or that you just love!

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oh, the places you’ll go! [AKA my torrid love affair with Apple]

somehow, during my 12 hour day chock full of classes, rehearsals, ceiling repair, and three, count ’em, three different bassoons, i wedged the Apple live event into my schedule. granted, i could only follow the liveblogs for about 15 minutes but that was just enough time to learn about Apple’s new creation, the iPad. all jokes aside about the name, i was initially impressed and excited to hear more.

well here i am at work, hearing more. no multitasking or face front camera? problems. i can live without flash, blah blah blah HTML5, you get the gist. so like many, i’m a little underwhelmed but, with the help of my twitter friends, i realized the possibilities.


dear apple,
you have no idea how many musicians/music students would buy this if it could do the following things. now granted, part of this is up to the developers (thanks for releasing the SDK) but you can help:

1) put textbooks in iBookstore! i’m about 100% positive that NONE of the texts that i’ve used in my 8+ years of college/grad school are available in iTunes U and if there were they wouldn’t be so geared towards individual fields of study. and when i say textbooks what i really mean is…

2) SCORES! what i would give to have a device like the iPad and be able to see my library of scores, to be able to carry it with me. now yes, i will always buy physical scores and mark them up (the same way with books, textbooks and parts) but to be able to catalog my entire library, play parts on the road without having to cart around my entire library…the list goes on. i would spend a ridiculous amount of money to buy scores in digitized form to use on this device.

3) pen input: one of my former professors at Appalachian State is working on a music theory program that integrates tablet use which allows professors to track not only how their students are working in real time but see their thought process in regards to analysis. well…you can’t do this without pen input. if there were some way to have a program with staff paper that you could write on, do theory & ear training exercises on, a way to write out Schenker graphs and of course save them…i think schools would invest in them wholeheartedly, along with individual students.

of course a lot of other things come with that like connection to printers via USB, etc but i believe you can do it, Apple.


i have sunk a lot of money into Apple: a Powerbook G4, MacBook, iMac, three iPods (2nd gen, Shuffle and Touch) and 2 iPhones. this is the least you can do for me…i’ll wait.

(and i’ll fangirl for life, i promise.)

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