Thursday, September 23, 2004

Another in the occasional series on favelets: this one assumes you're on an Amazon page, parses the ISBN number out of the URL, and looks up the page with a cover image, which you can then save as a picture, reduce in size, and post to your blog.

 Amazon Cover Image

Use at your own risk, your mileage may vary, offer void where prohibited by law but definitely open to family and friends of Blogos, etc.

If you have a pop-up blocker, you'll need to do the Ctrl-click or other finger gynmastics to get around it, since this brings up a new browser window. I don't know enough about how Amazon encodes their images to know how general this is: it may not work with all editions. If you use this for blogging, you really ought to also liberally link to Amazon, since they've provided the infrastructure that makes this (and so much other magic) work.

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In the last several years, the tools for do-it-yourself recording have advanced to the point where (given a couple of hundred dollars) the key limitation is your understanding and skill as a recording engineer, not the availability of adequate software and hardware. When i was exploring this a few years ago, i was surprised to learn how much you could do at home with a computer, but i quickly grew frustrated by the fact that everything is then tethered to the location of your desktop, and it's a big hassle to move a that setup around. So i'm experimenting with setting up my laptop for mobile recording, now that megahertz and gigabytes are more freely available (to me) than they used to be.

I have a small 4-channel mixer (Behringer's Eurorack MX 802A) for input: with the previous desktop solution (using ST Audio's DSP200 C-Port) i just couldn't get a strong enough input signal. The output of the mixer goes to a USB-based digital I/O device (M-Audio's Transit) to get that process outside the electronic noise of the laptop. On the software side, i'm using Cool Edit 2000 with the 4-track Studio Plug-in: alas, this product has been discontinued since Syntrillium was bought by Adobe last year, though i'm sure their latest incarnation (Adobe Audition) is very capable, though also more expensive (of course).

The proof is in the results, and i haven't done any actual recording with this setup yet, so it's too soon to claim this is workable. But being able to do spot recording with a few mikes, an inexpensive mixer and laptop is amazing all by itself.

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