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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....




Having Fun With Sound
February 23rd, 2000

For a couple of years I have struggled with the whole concept of sound and wav files as they relate to a computer. Frankly, I never had much success trying to get any of it to work. Getting an iMac has changed that. I haven't gotten any smarter, but my computer has. Therefore, I can finally write about using sound effectively on your Mac.

There are a lot of different options available on the Internet for capturing and using sound. I started with an application that is both simple to use and free. It is the application I used to include the sound in the OneApp Slide Show presentation that I wrote about last week. If you really get into this whole concept of incorporating sound into the things you do, then you can expand your options and the quality of what is available to you beyond a free set up.

Using Sounds

The first thing I learned is that our Macs come with an technology called QuickTime that includes an application called QuickTime Player. With QuickTime you can listen to any wav sound that you download by dragging the wav icon over the QuickTime Player icon.


The WavIcon

The QuickTime Icon

QuickTime Player will automatically open a box that will allow you to click on a start button and listen to your sound of choice. If you don't have the latest version of QuickTime on your older machine you can get it at no cost from http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/index.html. You can also purchase an expanded version of QuickTime for $29.99 at this same location. If you are adding a simple Wav sound with no modifications to the OneApp Slide Show, Quick Time Player is all you need. Here's how you do that:

  • Find, choose, and download the Wav sound you wish to use. Save it in the folder you created for the slide show.
  • Choose Presentation Preferences from the set up options.
  • Choose Presentation Options.
  • Click once in the box labeled "For the sound track use the file:"
  • In the box that follows type in the exact name of the Wav file.
  • When you start your slide show by clicking on the Start button, that sound will play over and over until the slide show is complete.

If you want to do other things like modify a sound file in a slide or record sound to be stored on your computer then you will need a second application. The one I am using is called SoundBuilder 2.0.4. It was created by Kenneth W. Arthur, is only 92K, is only for Macs, and runs on any Mac with System 7 or later. You can download it free at http://users.aol.com/kwarthur/sb.html. Once you click on download it will download fairly quickly. When the download is complete you will see an icon like this on your desktop.


Installation Icon

Double click on this icon and a boxcalled an Open and Save dialogue box will open on your screen. Choose where you want to put the program, say in your hard drive, or your Applications folder. Then just click on Extract or Save or whatever language is used on your computer and the program will automatically install and be ready to go. Trash the original (installation) icon as you are finished with it. I suggest that you put an alias on the primary icon on your desktop if it is something you think you will be using a lot. To do this click once on the icon so that it is highlighted and then go to the File Pull-Down Menu and choose Make Alias (or choose the Apple Key and M Key at the same time).

This is a good place to stop and review the steps for checking on the amount of memory allocated to a program because this one will work better for you if you maximize your memory options. Open your hard drive and find the icon for SoundBuilder.


SoundBuilderIcon

(Make sure the application is not open.). Click once on the icon so that it is highlighted but does not open. Leaving it highlighted, move your cursor to the File Pull-Down Menu and move the cursor down to "Get Info". When you highlight "Get Info" a box will open up to the right that gives you 3 options. (For some items on your computer this step will only give you one option, that of General Information. For instance, try it on your trashcan. You only get one option because you don't have the privilege of changing the memory on your trashcan.) Choose "Memory" and you will get a box that looks like this.


Example of Changing Memory

As you can tell, there is a big difference between the Minimum Size and the Preferred Size. The computer won't let you change the minimum to a number higher than the preferred so make sure to change the preferred first if you want even more memory than is indicated. You can make it anything you want within reason and the limitations of the memory on your machine. The application will run with only the minimum amount of memory, but it will run a lot better if you change the minimum to match the preferred. This is particularly helpful if you have applications that cause your computer to freeze up. I was amazed at how much better my computer would run when I finally learned how to do this. Once you change the minimum number just click on the small box in the upper left corner and the new memory amount will be set. It won't change again for this application unless you go through this process again to change it. Memory changes only effect the application you are working on. One last thing - if you don't have much memory on your computer then only increase memory on applications that you use the most or on one's that seem to cause freezes.

SoundBuilder records, edits and saves sounds. Recording requires that a sound input device (microphone) also be attached to your Mac. Only 8-bit sampled sounds are supported. This program will save and read SND, AIFF, AIFC, WAV and VOC format files as well as SoundBuilder's native format. It will read unknown formats, support stereo sounds, asychronous playback of sounds at 5, 7, 11, 22, or 44 Khz, reverse sounds so they can be played backwards, allow you to cut, copy, paste, clear, and undo editing commands, and zoom in on sections of sounds for easier editing.

To find what Wav sounds are available to you all you have to do is do an internet search using Sherlock or your favorite search engine. However, I will recommend a couple that I found because they each offer lots of options. The first is The Wav Place. The second is The Wav Emporium However, just for grins please go to Wav Files and scroll down to the title dedodedo.wav. Click on it and it will download to your desktop and a small box will appear on your screen.


Sound Box

Click on the middle button and you will hear the sound I included in the slide show. Does that voice sound somewhat familiar to you? It did to me, but I couldn't quite place it.

Open SoundBuilder by clicking on the Icon. Go to the File Pull-Down Menu and choose Import. A second box will open to the right. In that box choose WAV. That will cause another box to open that lists all the documents on your desktop. (Make sure Desktop shows in the top of that box.) Scroll down until you find dedodedo.wav and click on that.


Active Sound Builder File

Now, click on the Pull-Down Menu that says 11Khz and choose 7Khz instead. Recognize that voice now? It's Roger Miller and the sound bite is from a cartoon version of Robin Hood. If you want to modify the sound in any way you can do so, but you have to experiment a bit. Assume you want to remove the laughter at the end. Click in the channel somewhere towards the end of the sound waves. A heavy black line will appear. Grab onto the line and drag it towards the end of the channel. A box will appear and the option of Zoom will be activated in the bottom half of the window. Click on Zoom and the portion of the sound waves that you have chosen will be enlarged. From there you can use the Edit Pull-Down Menu to make changes in the sound.

If you have a microphone you can record your own sounds by choosing Record Sound under the Options Pull-Down Menu. You can also use this same tool to record from a CD or a floppy disk. From there you can experiment to your hearts delight. You should even be able to make your own start up and shut down sounds.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.


Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.


Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.


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