Posts Tagged ‘Mac’

With PimpMyNews, My Blog Can Talk!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008


I feel like a proud mom with a big announcement: My blog said its first words yesterday! Seriously. Now it just won't shut up, and I couldn't be happier.

I met the good folks at PimpMyNews on Twitter recently, and before I could say "Hey, pimp my blog!" CEO John Atkinson was talking with me about all the cool things Parent Talk Today could do when it could talk.

PimpMyNews offers your favorite blogs in audio form. And I'm not talking about just blogs that feature podcasting or video blogging. PimpMyNews translates the written text to audio. (And it sounds surprisingly less mechanical than I thought it would. This technology has come a long way recently.)

It also converts the audio to MP3 files, which you can
listen to with any MP3 player or from your iPod, iPhone, Mac or PC.

Yep, now you can download and listen to Parent Talk Today on your iPod while you go for a walk, cook dinner, wait for your kids at soccer practice or hit the gym.

How cool is that?

To check it out (and I hope you will — this is amazing stuff), just click on the "listen to my blog" button at the top of the right sidebar.

P.S. You can read more about PimpMyNews below.

Smilebox Makes Scrapooking, Greeting Cards, Invitations Easy and Fun

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Image representing Smilebox as depicted in Cru...I recently discovered a cool new way to create scrapbooks, cards and blog posts with music, movement and more. Check out Smilebox.com. Here's a sample of what I made today. (And it took a whopping 10 minutes, including importing the photo and choosing music.) Thought it would be a kick to share it with you and to tell you how easy it is to create these projects.

If you're like me, you have tons of photos sitting on your computer, and you'd like to have an easy way to share them with family and friends. Smilebox works with Mac or PC and it lets you easily import photos and music. Check it out:

Click to play Happy Fall!
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox greeting

Sick of Video Games? Get the Kids Hooked on Something Better

Thursday, December 13th, 2007


"Mom, can I do PlayStation?" It’s a phrase I hear all too often, even though we limit "screen time" at our house. Of course, I don’t completely despise video games (although they do seem to suck the brain cells from my 11-year-old son’s skull, right before my eyes). That black box comes in handy when Mom and Dad are in need of a privilege to take away when a certain kid crosses the line.

Sure, Matt spends plenty of time doing homework, hanging with friends and playing sports, too. But what I’ve been wanting, this holiday season, is a gift that will replace video games when Matt wants to noodle around with something electronic around the house. Something educational and also fun. (That will be just between us. Dare I use the words "educational" and "fun" in the same sentence? Not around Matt, who’€™s sure he gets enough education at school.)

DIGITAL MUSIC MAKING TO THE RESCUE

Finally, I’ve found the answer: Creating and recording music on our home computer. Specifically, using GarageBand (approx. $99 as part of the iLife ’08 Family Pack), which we have installed on our Mac. You can also find similar software for Windows, such as Cakewalk Sonar Home Studio (approx. $100) M-Audio Pro Tools (approx. $249), Sony ACID Pro (approx. $40), etc.

Matt has been taking piano lessons since first grade, but he was never able to combine his love of music with his love of pushing buttons and messing with games and all things digital. Until now.


Chris "Sharpie" Sharp, 37, of Midland, Texas, knows just a little bit about this whole digital-music thing — on a somewhat grander scale. As the monitor engineer for Rob Thomas on his recent solo tour and for the upcoming Matchbox Twenty tour this January through March (he’s also worked with Nickelback, Usher, Evanescence and others), this guy understands music and the digital world. (If, like me, you need a definition of what a monitor engineer does, Sharp is the guy off to the side of the stage who mixes the sound that the band hears in their earpieces while they’re playing.) I couldn’t think of a better-qualified person to ask about all this electronic stuff because he is not only musically and technically savvy — he’s also a devoted dad.

GEARING UP

Sharp and his wife, Rinda, 32, have two kids, 15-year-old daughter Destinie and 15-year-old son C.J., so he knows all about the allure of video games. But he thinks my husband and I might be onto something by deciding to get Matt a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller to use with GarageBand. 

This keyboard-like device (prices start at around $200) doesn’€™t record sound waves like a tape recorder does. It digitally encodes the start of a note, its pitch, length, volume and musical attributes, such as vibrato. As a result, MIDI music files take up a lot less space than digitized sound files. (So there might actually be some room left on the computer for Matt’s book reports…) Soon Matt will be able to write and record his own songs and send MP3 files to his friends.


Using a MIDI controller with computer software like GarageBand can open up a whole new world of creativity for a kid, Sharp says. And today’s digital technology means that you don’t need an entire board, like the monster board he uses on tour, to record your own music. A kid can do it at home. Pretty cool.

GOING FISHING

While he agrees that many parents can barely tolerate the video games that their kids crave, music is something where we can meet our kids halfway, Sharp notes. "Music speaks to each person," he says, adding that he tries to share in the types of music that interest his kids while also subtly sharing his favorite music with them. (And in his line of work, he’s definitely on the "hip-dad" side of things, which helps.) "It’s sort of like fishing. You can’t force your kids to be interested in a certain thing, but you can try different types of bait." So you’ll hear hip hop, rock, Tejano and other types of music around the Sharp home.

Sounds like good advice. And while my husband and I love to share our favorite music with Matt, and we love to learn about what he likes, we’re looking forward to hearing him make and record some fun music of his own very soon. Because with today’s technology, a kid’s desire to play with electronic stuff and push buttons can be satisfied while he’s also learning about computers, music and all things digital.

Take that, Dragon Ball Z!