Back to Mobile View

Skip to Content

Ask TUAW: Recording audio, troubleshooting wireless issues, website hosting and more

We're back with another edition of Ask TUAW! This time around we've got questions about recording audio, troubleshooting wireless issues, the best place to go for web hosting and more.

As always, your questions and suggestions are welcome. Questions for next week should be left in the comments. When asking a question please include which machine you're running and which version of Mac OS X (we'll assume you're running Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify). And now, on to the questions!

Petre asks:

I just bought a new guitar and I'm thinking about using it to record some of my songs with my new iMac. Any recommendations for a good method of connecting a guitar so I can record?

Fortunately, you're in luck, in that the Mac is made for people trying to do just what you want to do. There are several options to accomplish this and it really just depends on how good you want the audio to sound and what your budget is. To get the best possible quality, you're going to need a few items.

First, you're going to need some recording software. Fortunately, that's already on your iMac as you can use Apple's GarageBand for all your entry-level recording needs. Second, you'll need some sort of digital audio interface that connects your guitar's output to a USB or Firewire interface on your iMac. Some good ones to take a look at include the M-Audio MobilePre, the M-Audio Firewire Solo or the Line 6 Tone Port series. Then, all you need to do is plug your guitar into the converter and the converter into your Mac and you're good to go. Of course, you'll want to be sure and update the driver to the latest version and read the manual to get the most out of your converter.

If you're not as concerned about audio quality, you can also use a converter cable, such as the Monster iStudio Link, to connect your guitar directly to the mic input on your iMac. That will allow you to record directly into your Mac but won't give you the best possible audio quality or level of customization you could get from a digital converter.Mike asks:

I have a Macbook which for the life of me I can't get to work properly with any Wi-Fi router that is using WPA. With WEP it works fine and the connection is consistent. If I switch to WPA then I have an intermittent connection. Any ideas what could be the problem?

Unfortunately, you're experiencing an issue that is plaguing many MacBook users since updating to Leopard. It is a known issue and I hope Apple is working on some sort of fix. I experienced the same issue with my previous MacBook Air but it hasn't happened with my unibody MacBook (at least so far).

As comforting as it may be to know you're not alone with these issues, let's at least try to see if some of these steps have any positive effect. First, make sure whatever router you are trying to connect to with your Macbook has the most recent firmware. Older firmware is often one of the reasons why wireless connections have issues.

Second, if you've ever connected with this router successfully in the past, try deleting the associated wireless network from your list of preferred wireless networks in System Prefs> Network> Airport>Advanced>Airport, restart your Mac and then connect to the network again.

Also, you can try several other things including assigning a channel manually on your router instead of letting it choose the channel automatically, performing a hard reset of your router, checking to make sure there's no other 2.4Ghz or 5.8Ghz devices in use at your location, and as a last resort, moving the "SystemConfiguration" folder located in /Library/Preferences to the Desktop then restarting and deleting .plist files associated with your network settings. These files are com.apple.internetconfig.plist, com.apple.internetconfigpriv.plist and com.apple.internetconnect.plist located in the following folder: ~/Library/Preferences/ directory (this is the Library directory within your User folder).

Finally, if you're not using an Apple Airport Base Station you may want to consider getting one. I've been using them for years and they consistently, and this is no surprise, work best with other Apple hardware. If all else fails, a call to Apple Support or a trip to your local Apple Store Genius Bar may be in order.

Nirgal asks:

I've read that Snow Leopard's 64-bit architecture will allow a large increase in the amount of RAM that can be accessed by the OS. Will this do anything to increase the maximum amount of RAM I can install on my iMac, or is the current limit a physical limit?

It's difficult to say what will happen in future OS releases like Snow Leopard, especially given Apple's penchant for secrecy. That said, I would bet that if there does end up being a way for Snow Leopard to access a larger amount of system memory, current Mac models probably won't benefit from it due to hardware limitations.

Jose asks:

I have several applications that start automatically every time I start my Mac or log into it. How can I stop them from loading?

Finally, a relatively easy question. To control which programs start when you log into OS X, go to System Prefs> Accounts> Login Items. Once there you will see a list of all the programs that start once you log in.

To stop certain ones from starting at login, simply select the ones in question with a click and then hit the " - " sign near the bottom of the window. That will delete them from the list and they will no longer start at login.

Quentin asks:

I've got a few websites and I've been combing the Internet looking for the best place to host them. Where should I go for web hosting, email, etc.?

That's a question I get asked frequently and one that I've been able to solve to my complete satisfaction only through a lot of trial, error and frustration. If you ask around, you'll undoubtedly get various answers about the best places to host sites, the best customer service, etc.

You will also get quite a few horror stories from various sources and anytime you're considering a web hosting company, it's always a good idea to type the name of the company you're considering followed by the word "sucks" into Google search. If you do, you'll be amazed how many people will be convinced the host you are considering is the worst possible place to go.

I've tried a lot of hosting companies over the years and the only two I ever recommend these days are Media Temple and Mac Highway. For larger sites or multiple domains with lots of traffic and higher demands, Media Temple has worked best for me and for my clients. I've had clients on both their Grid and their Dedicated Virtual hosting and they've consistently provided great service.

For smaller sites, personal blogs and the like, Mac Highway has been rock solid and I've been hosting my personal blog there for years on their Large hosting plan. Like Media Temple, Mac Highway excels at customer service and when you call them for support, or with a question, you may actually end up talking to one of the owners. That's the level of dedication they have.

Plus, as a bonus, they run entirely on Macs and OS X Server, which is also pretty cool.

We're back with another edition of Ask TUAW! This time around we've got questions about recording audio, troubleshooting wireless issues,...