Getting Your First Mod
Let's try this whole system out from the standpoint of someone looking for mods to install. Assuming you've placed the AppleScript "install" tool in your ~/Library/iTunes/Scripts folder, select an unmodified version of the "sample" track (or any other track for that matter), run the script, and when prompted, enter
http://www.oreillynet.com/mac/2006/03/15/examples/elevatorMod.tar.gz. The mod is simply a set of images with corresponding links just like you've seen before. There's nothing new there. It's the whole utility of being able to download mods to arbitrary audio files that's so durn slick!
For my next trick, I've put together a series of mods for the audio book Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (a very good read) that breaks the book into its actual chapters instead of the "one big pair of clown pants" approach. This audio book, as purchased on iTMS, comes as three big files with bookmarks around the hour markers. Clearly, a little more thought could have gone into the bookmarking--but at least we have the power to change that. Run each of the three mods to make the magic happen. Without further adieu:
Now, honestly--which one do you like better?
Making Life Easier with AudioBinder
AudioBinder can really save you some time if the ChapterTool makes its way to your list of frequently used apps.
If any of this "creating an XML file" business seems like too much work, I'd invite you to rest easy and take a look at the excellent wrapper available for Apple's ChapterTool called AudioBinder. It's basically a feature-rich GUI that allows you to visually specify your bookmark location and/or links and images to a file. In other words, this neat little tool is a huge time saver!
The lite version doesn't allow you to embed images or links, but you are able to try these features out on Apple's Sample.m4a file that comes with the ChapterTool to see how they work. In short, the lite version works just fine for plain audio bookmarking, but if you're into creating your own enhanced podcast, developing uneditable presentations without QT Pro, or anything else fairly sophisticated, however, the registered version may well be worth the small fee. The registered version also includes the ability to export the XML file that it generates behind the scenes, so if you decide to create and distribute digital audio mods as presented in this article, it may well be worth the registration fee for that reason alone. AudioBinder is actively being developed and improved, and according to the developer, a beta with more UI niceties and the ability to stitch together mp3 files is on its way soon.
Go Make Some Mods
As I continue to bookmark my digital audio library, I'll post the links to the mods in the discussion area below, and I invite you to do the same. If everyone who reads this were to chip in with a contribution, we'd start off with some serious momentum. If you have a mod you want to share but don't have an iDisk or way of hosting it, just drop me a line and I'll throw it on my iDisk for you. And if you're an AppleScript guru and decide to robust-ify the script (without changing the core methodology), send it my way and I'll host and link back so everyone can get the update. It'll be interesting to see what kinds of creative things everyone comes up with.
Matthew Russell is a computer scientist from middle Tennessee; and serves Digital Reasoning Systems as the Director of Advanced Technology. Hacking and writing are two activities essential to his renaissance man regimen.
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