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Review: TapeDeck 1.0

If you grew up in the pre-digital age, you might fondly remember the tactile qualities of what would now be summarily dismissed as ‘retro’ recording kit. There’s a definite immediacy to a tape deck: big buttons, with large text that leaves you in no doubt regarding function, and this is something that cannot be said for the bulk of audio-recording software. TapeDeck now aims to bridge old and new.

Boot the app and a digital tape deck appears on the screen. The buttons all work as you’d expect, even making suitably chunky noises when clicked. However, SuperMegaUltraGroovy has made plenty of concessions to the modern age: mono, stereo and quality levels can be selected with mouse clicks; tapes can be labelled and relabelled with ease; and keyboard shortcuts provide an alternate means of controlling the virtual tape deck (with system-wide shortcuts also available for ‘Record’, ‘Pause’ and ‘Stop’).

In keeping with the application’s aesthetic, each chunk of recorded audio is displayed in a slide-out drawer as a cassette tape. (In reality, this is merely a pretty way of displaying the contents of the M4A files TapeDeck stores in ~/Music/TapeDeck, and so users can also manage TapeDeck recordings in Finder.) Tapes can’t be recorded over, although they can be dropped in the Trash via Command-drag (Command-dragging elsewhere copies the tape to a Finder folder).

Other handy features become evident with a little exploration. Control-click on the current tape and the contextual menu provides shortcuts for adding the tape to iTunes or emailing it. And when the drawer becomes full, you can drag tapes around until you find what you want, or use the built-in search field to hone down the displayed tapes.

Strictly speaking, TapeDeck offers nothing new in terms of functionality—the likes of GarageBand and a slew of other recording apps do everything TapeDeck can and more. Also, importing is strictly limited to M4A, which is a shame—it would be great if you could drop MP3s and audio files saved with lossless formats into TapeDeck.

However, as iPhone continues to bludgeon into people’s minds, the interface is often key, and where TapeDeck excels is in making the audio-recording process totally idiot-proof and fun. It’s not quite enough for TapeDeck to garner a Cult of Mac recommendation badge, but it comes close, and if you’re flush and fancy dropping 25 bucks on a fun, straightforward and surprisingly original take on audio recording, TapeDeck more than fits the bill.

TapeDeck screen grab
TapeDeck: handily lacking a ‘randomly chew up tape’ option.

Further information

Manufacturer: SuperMegaUltraGroovy
Price: $25

Oxford Dictionary Names “Podcast” 2005 Word of the Year

The New Oxford American Dictionary has chosen “podcast” as the Word of the Year for 2005.

Podcast will be added to the next online update of the dictionary in early 2006.

EIC Erin McKean said, “Podcast was considered for inclusion last year, but we found that not enough people were using it, or were even familiar with the concept. This year it’s a completely different story. The word has finally caught up with the rest of the iPod phenomenon.”

The runners-up included:

bird flu
persistent vegetative state
squick (“cause immediate and thorough revulsion”)
trans fat

Visit the V&A Museum Via Podcast

Victoria and Albert Museum Podcast

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has launched an illustrated podcast showcasing art in its paintings collection.

The podcasts feature reproductions of the art with commentary from curators and other art experts. The first episode tells “all about Botticelli and his wombats.” The V&A claims it’s the first podcast published by a UK museum or gallery.

“There are often audio guides for special exhibitions, but there tends to be a paucity of guides for existing collections, so this is a way to bring them to life,” Susan McFarland, editor of the V&A’s PR website, told 24 Hour Museum.

(Via MacWorld UK)

Podcasting’s First Star

Podcasting’s First Star

Wired News has a profile of one of podcasting’s first stars — an obscene, gay drag act from Chicago called Madge Weinstein.

A performance artist and one-time aspiring filmmaker who lives in Chicago, Bluestein appears to have successfully traded his former job in tech support at a local hospital for a life of spouting off on air.

He sees himself as one of those people for whom the new medium of podcasting has created opportunities where none existed. He had sporadically posted video blogs online and had performed as Madge around Chicago since 2000. Then, last November, stuck in a funk over President Bush’s 2004 re-election, Bluestein stumbled over (ex-MTV VJ Adam) Curry’s show and became obsessed with podcasting. Soon thereafter, Yeast Radio was born as an outlet for performing as Madge and for obscenity-laden political venting.

Curry, the ex-MTV VJ turned self-styled “podfather,” says he thinks Bluestein’s act is a scream and hired him in September as a member of Curry’s PodSquad stable of talent. Yeast Radio has been heavily promoted on Curry’s programs and Madge has subbed for Curry on his Sirius radio program from time to time.

“Richard is just the sweetest guy and he’s really spearheading this qPodder community with over 150 gay and lesbian podcasters (on the site), which is remarkable,” Curry said. “I mean, come on. Is this some big secret in advertising, that gays and lesbians are a good market? I don’t think so. If that’s not a market, let me go eat my shoe.”