Featured Post

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Flattening A PDF

I downloaded a W-9 pdf file from the IRS (the form you provide to someone you contract to work for so they can let the IRS know how much they have paid you -- and can write it off as a business expense).

Nice, it is set up as a fillable form. So I typed everything in. Now to email the completed form. But, I don't want to send a form that can be edited. What I need to do is "flatten it" so it is no longer an editable form.

After trying the many steps Adobe requires to flatten the pdf, I realized the IRS locks the form so you cannot change it. I guess they want everyone to print the file and mail the form -- this must be to help out its sister organization, the USPS.

After a lot of experimentation and reading, I was ready to quit. Then I thought, "I'll take a screenshot!" Well, that didn't work so well due to screen size restrictions. The, I went to save the completed form and noticed under the Acrobat Edit menu a selection "Take a Snapshot." I tried it and realized it is a VERY simple method of flattening a pdf. Note that I know this works in Acrobat Pro X. Not sure about other versions (but it's worth a try).
  1. With the form open, click Edit > Take a Snapshot.
  2. Swipe the whole document page -- don't include anything outside that page.
  3. Click File > Create > PDF from Clipboard.
  4. Voila! A flattened version.
  5. For a single page, just save this file and email/store it/whatever!
  6. If there are more pages to the form, it's a bit more complicated, but still easier than most methods I read on the web.
  7. Take a snapshot of each page, creating a separate pdf for each page. 
  8. Save all the pdf's, I suggest using their page number as the file name.
  9. File > Create > Combine Files into a Single PDF ...
  10. Open the folder containing the pdf's of the pages.
  11. Drag them into the "Combine Files" window and arrange them in order (if they aren't already arranged).
  12. Save the pdf. It's flattened -- you can email/store it/whatever!
Hope this helps someone(s).

Reaper

Over the years I have tried many DAWs. I was a user of Cakewalk from the very early days, so I pretty much stuck with it. When things went to the subscription/update system, I was careful not to update unless a new feature made it easier to use. I didn't do much updating.

The Cakewalk Application Language (CAL) was one of the things that I really liked about Cakewalk. It was "somewhat" easy to figure out by looking at how others got CAL to work. Over the years, it was only maintained for backward compatibility. It's a shame it wasn't improved upon and made a bit easier to use without having to take a lot of time to learn it.

Years ago, I tried Reaper. I don't actually remember much more than I tried it. Because of a recent recommendation from a friend that I try Reaper again, I did. Very soon, I saw the tremendous potential of this DAW. As with any new software, there is a learning curve, but there's plenty of help on the web to straighten the learning curve quite a bit.

I've always stayed away from recommending DAW's. The biggest reason for that is that one could write a #1 song using any of the DAW software available today.

I will recommend Reaper for several reasons:
  1. You can download the latest version and try it out for 60 days. After that, it still works, but you're supposed to pay for it to continue use. 
  2. You can install it on as many computers as you wish as long as only one copy is being used at a time. 
  3. You can install it as portable software because the program saves all program files and settings in the install directory. So no more having to chase down files from all over your hard drive just to take a copy of the program and run it on another computer.
  4. It's $60 for personal, non-profit or educational use. If you use it commercially and your gross yearly income is less than $20,000, it's still $60 -- more than $20,000, it's $225. 
  5. There are a ton of actions (similar to running a CAL script in Cakewalk) that are not built into the core program but can make repetitious actions for you. They are NUMEROUS, but you can search them with keywords to find what you want. And they can be mapped to keystokes.
  6. As stated above, YouTube has many good to great videos explaining the basic to the advanced. 
  7. It has a performance meter that lets you know the percentage of CPU use overall and for each track. The program itself doesn't appear to be a CPU hog.
  8. It boots up fast.
  9. Keyboard shortcuts can be set to mirror other DAWs you may have used before.
  10. Once you have some of the basics down, the program just makes sense.
  11. There are Reaper related sites and blogs galore.
The down side for me has been frustration in learning some of the Reaper terminology. What most DAW's refer to as a "clip," Reaper uses the term "item." When I was looking to separate a stereo track into two mono tracks, I discovered that I needed to "Explode" the items on the stereo track. One click from that discovery, the L and R channels appeared on separate mono tracks with both in a folder. "Imploding" will do the opposite action and make two mono tracks a stereo track.

 I'll update this as I learn more.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Up For Auction - a "DOOM" Guitar

As you may know, I have had a few medical "experiences" in the past three years. I've had help from all sorts of friends in the form of positive thoughts, prayers and financial help. I am committed to passing these same things back and forward whenever I can. So, the thought came to me that I should raise some funds that I can use to help. Then I looked at all of the things I have that I no longer use (for the most part) or that I've been keeping for sentimental or historical purposes. Why not sell them to raise the funds?

I've put some things up on reverb.com. The prices are high, but it's for a good cause and the gear does have an interesting history. Reverb Store Link.



Friday, March 2, 2018

Helpful PC Tools

Here are some PC tools (some have Mac versions) I find indispensable. I'm sure many of you reading this already know of them. I hope the info is helpful to those who aren't aware of some of them. They are in no particular order:

MediaInfo - displays file information including containers, tags, video, audio and subtitles. Adds an entry on the context menu, so you right click on a file to use it. Or it runs in a window and you can drag-drop files into it. You can export the information to text, html, xml, html and MANY more. I find the Tree View the best for individual files, but you can add whole directories (sub directories included) and choose files from a drop down menu. It's free, but you might want to donate something for the project.

dBpoweramp - if you're often in need of  changing an audio file from one type to another, this is the Swiss Army knife for that. Select a file or files, right click and select convert, select the file type, and you get a quick conversion (uses multi-cores). There are lots of codecs available on this site for use with this utility.

Everything - this replaces Windows' slow and ever-running in the background search. It is fast! When you add a file, it appears in the Everything window immediately. It can be set up to live in the notifications area of the task bar. There are all sorts of search possibilities. It has a portable version. This is one you'll want to support with a donation. What a time saver!

Bulk Rename Utility - "BRU" is another Swiss Army knife utility that is a file re-namer on steroids. I don't use this often, but when I need to, it is a huge time saver. Did you misspell a file name that is replicated like filenam000 - filenam999 (1,000 files)? Where is the %$@# E in filenam on all 1,000 files?!!! Using BRU, you go to the file directory, select all of the files to be renamed, select the BRU Add section, click insert, enter the alphanumeric(s) you want to insert and the position you want them entered. And you don't have to guess what's going to happen if you make the change -- the New Name column updates as you set up the changes you want. You can change file dates, add a folder name to the file names, replace alphanumerics with other alphanumerics (this is another way you could add the "e" to "filenam" -- search for "filenam" and replace it with "filename"). Copy/Move files, change file attributes, timestamps, and ... enough said -- check it out. Free for personal use, but a donation is appreciated.

Cathy Disk Cataloging Tool - got a lot of data CD/DVD's? Do they have cryptic notes as to what is on them? Do you wish you had a catalog of all the files on all your data disks? Well, this tool is the one for you! You run Cathy, put a CD/DVD in the drive, and it catalogs the files. It's fast and just does the job. Keep on putting the data media in and the catalog grows to include them, too. It's free.

VLC - plays most any video/audio file. General MIDI files, too.

Media Player Classic - plays many media files. There's an announcement that the latest version may be the last one.

OK -- how about adding your favorite utilities to this list. Just comment them in.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sorry About Going Dark!

When I first started this blog, I had a lot of things I wanted to share with anyone who had an interest in the subject matter. My health "experience" of the past three years surely put a damper on a lot of those plans. Of course, dying would have made the plans impossible! :-) So I'm thankful for the "experience." I'm in a position of getting somewhat good health news from time to time, which gives me periods of vacation from any heavy healthcare. I'm making the most of these times.

There are a lot of songs I've written along the line that I've intended to arrange and record "later." Well "later" is here, so I spend a lot of time doing that.

I'm also going to give some of the instruments and outboard gear I've stored for years a new home by auctioning them off. This includes one of the what I could call "Doom" guitars that I used to come up with music for many of the game projects I worked on. It's a red Gibson ES-330 that's had the pickups raised a bit (reversible). I bought it to celebrate not losing any fingers while in the Army. That was shortly after I returned from overseas. I bought it from George Luther at Rhythm City in Atlanta. It was my first of many purchases from him. George started the music superstore as you may know it today. If you have the time, watch George recall his and Rhythm City's experience in a NAMM 2008 Oral History (video).

George started Rhythm City in 1961 with money he and his wife had saved for years. He bought all of his merchandise with cash and never borrowed money from a bank. He would beat anyone's price to get a sale. Other music merchandisers didn't like his competition, but they had to respect his success.

Sorry about going off on this, but I always loved to deal with George. When I lived in Florida in the late 90's, I was in a Sarasota mall, and well ahead of me, I saw George from behind. I caught up with him and discovered that he had retired after selling Rhythm City to Guitar Center. Reading about the sale later, suppliers and competitors praised the "shrewd move" by Guitar Center Management, and one supplier noted Guitar Center got an immediate presence in Atlanta and "[took] out a major competitor." I had to laugh out loud when I read the last part of that statement!

I'll put up another post with more about the auction, including the reason, recent photos, the serial number and such.