music

I spent some time today digressing from my regular work to see if anyone was working on and iPhone / iPod Touch looping app that works like Ableton Live. I wanted something with variable-length loops and that would play loops as you recorded them. It took me a surprisingly long time to dig Loopy up, so here's my blog post and vote. Here's how Loopy works works:

  • Tap a speaker icon to start recording (no limit to length, afaik - woot!)
  • Tap the icon to stop. It will start to play immediately (if you're familiar with Ableton live, it works the same way)
  • Tap another speaker to start recording the next loop. You can record any length of measures, another woot!
  • There's six tracks (the six speakers you see below), but you can drag one speaker onto another to merge them.
  • If you start recording before the measure starts, it records the lead-in and subtracts the space from the end, if you stop recording before the end of the measure. That's pretty cool, Ableton doesn't even do that.

I love having this in my pocket. Because I have an iPod touch, I also need my headset with mic in my pocket, too, but that's a small price to pay for such uber coolness. On @loopyapp on Twitter, the developer posted a short clip of Imogen Heap using Loopy. That led me to Imogen's web site, which lead me to her YouTube channel, where I got caught up in further digressing from work. What a cool, down-to-earth person she seems to be. Hopefully I run into her at some Tweet-up. Maybe she'll record our conversation and put it in a song...

There are some things about this app that can no doubt be improved, and it seems like the developer, Michael Tyson, is pretty on top of it. It's the kind of app that makes me want to quit my day job and go into iPhone development.

Here's my wish list / gripes:

  • A foot pedal attachment to start and stop recording. I tried my bare big toe to record a guitar track, but it wasn't very reliable. If there could be a full-screen button, then the foot might work. One suggestion in the forum was more practical, to allow the user to set the count-in and length.
  • Every once in a while the sound stops and I have to quit the app and come back.
  • Probably due to the mac headset mic I use, the sound quality is dismal. This app will result in me purchasing yet more fun hardware for my Touch.
  • Setting the tempo seems a little hit and miss. Maybe it's my huge finger.
  • There's some latency, and that is a little annoying. Laying down a couple of ill-concieved beats (I am no beat boxer but have always longed for the prestige that goes along with being one) made it clear that any precise recording would be a challenge.

Overall, wicked cool! Thank you, and I'm looking forward to version 2!

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I like earbuds because they're so compact, but they're kind of annoying to stuff into your pocket. They invariably get tangled, and they often get bent in funky ways, especially if you wrap them around something. I scoured the web looking for some good cases, and didn't really find anything that would fit nicely in my pocket. There are lots of tutorials online for building your own, but after experimenting with a couple Altoids tins I trashed the idea.

Later, in a wave of pure inspiration (probably induced by a sugar binge), I discovered the perfect receptacle: a pill bottle. Below is a picture with instructions. These work perfect for the newest iPhone earbuds without the permanent disfigurement that comes with wrapping wire incorrectly.

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Instructions:

  1. Fold earbuds in half
  2. Fold in half again
  3. Fold in half again
  4. Fold in half one more time
  5. Slip into pill bottle, you shouldn't need to bend anything to get it to fit, though the twisting motion of putting on the lid will help spin any extraneous bits down into the bottle.


I spent an hour or so testing out some different ways of ripping songs from someone else's iPod onto my mac for the purposes of wedding entertainment. The best tool I found was installing MacFuse, then iPod Disk. After installing, the iPod will show up as a mounted disk, and you can browse files by artist, album or genre, just like on the iPod. When it worked, it worked well, but it also crashed a few times (sometimes bringing Finder along with it) and I had to restart to get it recognized again.



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