Posts made in May, 2009

Walkthrough: Installing Windows 7 RC under Parallels4

Posted on May 13, 2009 in Featured, Hints, Mac

Today I’m taking a look across the fence and am going to walk you through the installation of Windows 7 Release Candidate under Parallels 4.

The installation is pretty self-explanatory, however it did take me a few attempts to get the correct setup, as 7 isn’t officially supported by Parallels yet. But if you follow these steps, you’ll be up and ready in no time:

Download Windows 7

Head on over to the official Microsoft download page. You’ll need to sign in with a Windows Live ID, but you’ll get an activation key that’s valid for one year for your trouble.

Setting up your VM

Create a new virtual machine, select the .iso image and choose ‘Windows > Other Windows’ as the OS you’re going to install. Be sure to select a custom setup and assign your VM at least 512MB of RAM. Set the other options according to your preferences.

Update: If you download the latest version of Parallels 4, you now can also access an experimental Windows 7 option here instead. (Thanks Alex!)

Other windows

The installation

After you’ve configured your VM, Parallels will reboot using the Windows 7 .iso image. Follow the steps on screen and enter your Activation key when asked. This part is mostly smooth sailing, provided you’ve setup your VM correctly. If you selected other options (e.g. if you selected ‘Vista’ as your OS version), your installation may stall or throw other errors. In that case, double-check your VM settings, or start over with a new VM.

bootup

windows 7 installation progress

Installing Parallels Tools

Once your installation has completed, you’ll want to install Parallels Tools for Windows, in order to enable seamless mouse, clipboard and app switching between OS X and Windows 7. Select ‘Virtual Machine > Install Parallels Tools’ from the menu bar and wait for the installer to complete. Reboot when prompted and you should be all set! Now you can get to the real business of exploring the exciting new innovations that “7” offers:

windows 7 paint

Caveats

Some of the more interesting new Windows features such as Aero Peek and other UI changes won’t yet work, due to the limited graphics card drivers Parallels currently uses. But 7 still seems to run faster than Vista, given similar resources, and works well enough for everyday use.

Support the site: Buy Parallels 4 at Amazon.com

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Review: Røde Podcaster USB Microphone

Posted on May 6, 2009 in Featured, Reviews

Podcaster? Screencast creator? Amateur musician? If you’ve ever tried your hand at any of those, you’ve probably found yourself wondering how to record better audio with your Mac. There are many solutions out on the market, but most require a bunch of bothersome cables, fiddling with filters or an audio engineering degree.

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Enter the Røde Podcaster: This USB microphone promises to make recording professional-sounding audio with your Mac really simple. But does it live up to the promise?

What’s in the box

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The Podcaster comes in a sturdy black box: Apart from the mic itself, you’ll also find a USB A to USB B connector (the kind most printers require but never include), and an adapter ring for connecting the mic to a stand.

Build Quality

The microphone has a solid metal enclosure that gives it considerable heft and weight, but in a really good way. It has a fairly large pickup area that is also protected by the outer casing, which is good as the mic grill is something that is often damaged by knocks or drops on traditional microphone designs.

The adapter screw also doubles as the USB port enclosure and is also entirely made out of metal. This should also do wonders for this mic’s durability, as the stand adapter is often under a lot of strain on mics and can often crack if made out of plastic.

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The one minor gripe I have is the headphone volume control on the front of the mic: It’s made out of plastic and feels a bit wobbly and out of place on a mic this well made.rodepodcaster05

Audio performance

Probably the most important factor when choosing a mic: How good does it actually sound? Røde promise “High quality broadcast sound” and I’m pleased to tell you that the Podcaster delivers. It has an incredible textured sound that gives recordings a “studio” feel. It sounds very accurate without too much treble and produces clean, warm audio.

podcaster_stand

A normal recording setup requires:
– A mic
– A mixer with preamps and monitoring capabilities
– An audio interface

Whilst there are some solutions out there that can act as an interface as well as a mixer, this mic is so much quicker to get set up: A single cable to your Mac, plug in your headphones and you’re set. Ever tried to record decent audio without hearing yourself? Or without hearing your overall mix? Getting monitoring set up (without a delay!) is usually more trouble than it’s worth – the Podcaster solves that issue nicely and you have zero timing issues.

I’ve created a short audio snippet to give you an idea of the audio quality: Both the voice and guitar heard in this video were recorded with the Podcaster.

Compatibility

The Podcaster works out of the box with OS X: Just connect the USB cable and you’re all set. There are some Windows drivers and applications on the CD that’s included, but you can safely ignore those. Fire up Garageband, select one of the vocal presets and you’re good to go. It also shows up as an audio output device immediately as well.

Tip: Remember to turn off Garageband’s live monitoring feature if you use the Røde as your output device (the mic will already pipe your audio to your headphones) – otherwise you’ll start hearing yourself twice!

Conclusion

rodepodcaster03The Røde Podcaster is a great microphone for any Mac user. It is well suited to creating podcasts, screencasts, movie voiceovers and even recording music. The build-quality is almost flawless and it offers an ideal feature combination of features for fast and easy recordings.
I’ve found myself quickly recording song ideas and voiceovers, simply because it’s so much less hassle to do so (previously I had been using an interface with a traditional microphone, which usually required extensive setting up and configuration to get decent results).

The Podcaster includes a 10 year guarantee and is available online for around $229 – less than a traditional microphone, audio interface with mixing capabilities would cost you. The convenience and audio quality you get for that price is currently unmatched in my opinion.
Highly recommended.

Links:

Røde Podcaster manufacturer website

Support Jetplane Journal: Buy the Rode Podcaster at Amazon.com

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