I have a bunch of cassette tapes which I mostly don't care about. Most of the albums I want have been re-issued on CD and I don't have a problem buying them. But a few are out of print so I don't have that option. Yesterday after a little poking around, I found that I had all the pieces of the solution in my hands. My Powerbook has an audio in jack. I have a cable with the standard headphone jack on one end and standard RCA jacks on the other. I have Audio Hijack Pro which lets me record from any application or from the built-in audio in. So I plugged the cable into the stereo line out jacks, then into the Powerbook, started up a tape, and hit Hijack on my PB. And it worked! Then I hit record and it started recording the tape to an MP3 file, which I can now listen to in iTunes or load on to the iPod. I have to mess around with the settings a bit and sit down to a few hours of recording, but it's pretty cool that it works at all! More on this later.
Not really an iPod only trick, but that's where I use it. I listen to a few radio streams (The Peak, EQX) and sometimes want to listen to a specific show but can't be around my computer at the time. So I found Audio Hijack Pro which allows you (if you have a Mac!) to record any audio playing on your computer to an MP3. It even has a scheduler so you can
set it to start up a player and a stream URL at a specific time and record. Once you
have the MP3 file you can easily load it on the iPod or other player. I recorded all 12 hours of the Peak's Commercial-free Acoustic X-Mas Special (659 MB) and record the 10 at 10 show daily in case I miss it. Another use for this package, which I have yet to explore, is to record audio thru the line-in jack. I have a few cassette tapes of albums which have not been re-released on CD so I can use this to suck them into my iPod.
Next tricks will require a Mac AND a new Video iPod! Besides videos you can buy from the iTunes store, you can convert Quicktime movies and rip DVDs to your iPod. Audio Hijack will actually allow you to pull the audio from the DVD Player, but if you want the video also, you need more stuff.
In the latest versions of iTunes and iPods, lyrics can be stored with the songs. You can right click on any song in iTunes, select Get Info, then the Lyrics tab and enter them manually, but there are several apps that help automate this process. I tried a few and ended up with KaraTunes.
It doesn't always find the lyrics but it does a reasonable job. You can tell it to work on a playlist or the entire library, or you can keep the Current Song window up while you play an album and it will look for the lyrics while the album is playing. Once it has found all the lyrics (and you can give it a hand with search arguments if it runs into a problem) you can copy all the lyrics to iTunes. They will automatically be synced with your iPod. You can hit the center iPod button a few times to get to the lyrics display and then see the lyrics for the songs as they play.
I have been experimenting with different software for getting stuff on my new video iPod. I bought it because I wanted the larger capacity, not for the video, but I'm having fun with that as well! All the software used is for the Mac, if you have an iPod but not a Mac you should run not walk to your nearest Apple store!
Anyway, for documentation and sharing purposes, I'm going to spend a few posts going over the new toys I've found.
Trick 1: Album covers.
Both iTunes and the iPod support importing album art to display when an album is playing. I like this as a reminder of which album is which, and what the hell, I have 30 gb to fill up! I found Clutter to help me with this. Clutter is a small, free application that can be used as an alternate interface to your music or as an enhancement. The minimized Dock icon displays the album cover of the currently playing song. It goes out to Amazon to retrieve it if you don't already have it. You can then select the menu item to copy the cover to iTunes and it will copy it to all songs for that album. The next time you sync with your iPod you will have those album covers displayed! Yes, Mac OS X only!