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Microwave Cheese “Danish”
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Though often maligned, the microwave is a great piece of equipment that most of us have in our kitchens. Microwaves work by emitting radio waves that enter the food and interact with water, fats, and sugars, causing them to vibrate and creating heat in the food. Thicker, denser foods cook more unevenly because it’s harder for the microwaves to penetrate their interiors. Microwaves still cook more evenly than conventional ovens because the heat can be generated throughout the food instead of having to work its way from the outside in. We aerate the batter for these “Danishes” using an iSi whipped cream dispenser, and the batter expands easily in the microwave, creating a spongelike appearance and incredibly light texture while still retaining the creamy cheese flavor of an actual Danish. We like to pair them with fresh berries because the contrast of their sweet tart flavor and firmer texture helps bring out the ethereal qualities of these wonderful little cakes.Microwave Cheese “Danish”
Makes about 12 cakes
1⁄4 cup / 10 grams finely ground freeze-dried strawberries, for dusting the cakes (optional)Instructions
Put the milk in a blender and turn it on low speed. Sprinkle in the egg white powder and increase the speed to medium. Puree the mixture for 15 seconds. Turn off the blender and add the cream cheese, syrup, flour, and salt. Turn the speed to high and puree until smooth, at least 30 seconds.
Pour the batter into the 1-liter canister of an iSi whipped cream dispenser and put the lid on. Charge with one N2O charger and then shake to distribute the gas and allow it to be absorbed into the batter. Repeat with a second charger. The batter should feel and sound fluid in the canister. Take twelve 8-ounce (225-gram) paper cups and use the tip of a paring knife to make a slit in the bottom of each cup and 3 slits around the sides to let steam vent as the danishes cook. The batter will be thick enough to not leak through. Dispense the batter into the paper cups, filling each halfway. Working with one at a time, microwave on high for 30 seconds. Immediately remove the cup from the microwave and invert it (with the cake still in it) and set it on a plate or tray to keep the cakes from falling as they cool.
Once all the cakes are cooked, refrigerate the cups (still inverted) for at least 1 hour, until they are fully chilled and set. Use a paring knife to loosen the edges of each cold “Danish” from its cup and shake it free. Use a small fine-mesh sieve to dust them with freeze-dried strawberry powder, if desired, and serve immediately.
This article was excerpted from Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot’s new book Maximum Flavor: Recipes That Will Change The Way You Cook. The pair are the creators of the Kitchen Alchemy series on chúng tôi and blog at Ideas In Food.
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Cleaning the keyboard and using special oils should lessen the noise from the keyboard. However, we have also listed other solutions to make the keyboard quieter.
You can use a lubricant or oils to reduce the noise level from the switches. However, you cannot use any lubricant on your keyboard switch. These oils reduce friction on the switches and help reduce the overall noise from the Keyboard. Make sure to use special greasing agents labeled safe to use for the keyboard.
These oils can be used on both switches and stabilizers.
Having a hot-swappable keyboard will definitely make your job a lot easier. Since a hot-swappable keyboard will have a removable switch, you can remove it, disassemble and use the oil inside the switch.
If your keyboard switches are not hot-swappable, you may not be able to completely oil the switches. This will work, but it will not be as effective as disassembling the switch.
Follow the steps mentioned below to remove the switch for the keyboard with a hot-swappable switch.
Using the Keycap puller, remove the switch from the keyboard.
Once you open the switch casing, you will find four components, bottom housing, top housing, spring, and a stem. The bottom housing sits on the surface of the keyboard. Top housing sits on top of bottom housing. The spring goes inside the top and bottom housing. And finally, the stem sits on top of the spring.
Oil all these parts and reassemble them. You can also lubricate the stabilizers on the longer keys, such as the spacebar or shift key.
Disassembling the entire switch, lubricating them, and reassembling them just to make it a little quieter does seem like a lot of work. This is where an O-rings comes in.
The rubber O-ring sits inside the keycap, reducing any noise from the keycap when you press on it. This is a pretty simple solution. However, it does not lessen the sound from the actual switch. So you may not hear much of a difference.
Follow these steps to use the rubber O-rings.
Invert the keycap, place the rubber O-ring over the + sign, and press on it.
Repeat these steps for all the keys on your keyboard.
Another reason your keyboard sounds noisier is due to the hollow space inside the keyboard. The gaps between the keyboard’s circuit board and the keyboard case and the gap between the keys will reflect sound waves. This will result in the keyboard making more sound when you press a button.
However, you can fix this using keyboard foam. A keyboard foam stays between the keyboard backplate and the circuit board.
Below we have mentioned the steps briefly.
First, remove the keyboard backplate.
Cut the foam in a shape so it fits under the keyboard circuit board.
When you insert the foam, make sure you cut all the screw holes and USB port opening in the foam.
Insert the foam under the keyboard circuit board and reassemble.
Note: If you have trouble taking the keyboard apart, please refer to the internet to disassemble and reassemble your keyboard.
Keyboard switches also play a vital role when it comes to keyboard sound. A premium keyboard will have better key switches and higher quality components inside the switch. This makes the keyboard sound silent without compromising the mechanical feel of a mechanical keyboard.
If your keyboard switches make a lot of noise, you can replace them with a silent one. However, you can only replace keyboard switches if they are hot-swappable. Hot-swappable keys are removable and replaceable.
If the switches are soldered onto the board, please refer to other methods to make the keyboard quieter.
A desk mat or a large mouse pad under your keyboard will restrict the sound from traveling to the desk. Without a desk mat, the noise from the keyboard will sound a lot louder as the desk will absorb that noise and amplify it by a certain amount.
Although the sound difference might seem insignificant, it will reduce the keyboard sound when you use a desk mat or a large mouse pad.
blog / Career How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out: Top 10 Tips for Job Seekers
In a recent report, LinkedIn shared that over 77% of recruiters used the channel for their recruitment efforts including scouting and vetting. And in 2023, Forbes confirmed that over 95% of recruiters were on LinkedIn looking for job candidates. In 2023, this number has only been growing! Less than five years ago having an active LinkedIn profile was optional. Face-to-face interviews and in-person background checks were the norms. However, in the post-pandemic new normal, this isn’t the case. With 86% of companies shifting their entire hiring process online, the value of a good LinkedIn profile is unquestionable. Wondering how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out? While the profile elements are fixed, there is a lot of room for creativity. Here are the top ten tips to help you create a profile that will leave recruiters impressed!How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out: Top 10 Tips 1. Include a Profile Picture and Cover Photo
While the adage goes do not judge a book by its cover, we still involuntarily pick up books with eye-catching front covers. Ever wondered why?
Research shows that this is the way our minds are wired. A good display picture has a similar effect. Humans make innate assumptions based on images and general appearance. A photo on LinkedIn is the first step to making a strong visual first impression.
LinkedIn profile pictures need not be entirely professional. Depending on the kind of industry you are in and the job roles you are looking for, you can choose to upload an image that is semi-professional.
According to LinkedIn, profiles with good photos get 21x more profile views and 9x more connection requests. So, do not skip this step!Here are the Best Practices to Follow:
Dress appropriately. Avoid loud colors or patterns that might distract the viewer.
Use simple backgrounds
Avoid blurry images
Do not put up stock images or group photos
Capture waist-up images with your face as the main focus
The display image should ideally be 400px x 400px and 8MB and the cover photo should be 1584 x 396 px
Keep cover images simple with a quote or written element that defines you professionally2. Add a Crisp Headline
If you had to describe your professional persona in just 220 characters, what would it be? The answer to this question would be the ideal LinkedIn headline.
It is a vital part of the LinkedIn algorithm as the headline appears in all search results – both within the channel and on Google. Also, it is visible to your profile visitors including first and second-degree networks, recruiters, hiring managers, and companies.A Simple Formula You Can Use to Write the Best LinkedIn Headline:
Your core domain (Designation)
eg. Product Marketer
What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) (Can include the biggest achievement)
eg. 30 under 30 Global Innovative Marketer
University (+ Which cohort)
eg. MIT Sloan 2011
eg. Red Cross Volunteer3. Write an Eloquent Summary (Also Called ‘About’)
Most LinkedIn users use the summary or about section to share career highlights. In order to stand out, you could also include your career vision, objective, ideology, and biggest learnings. You get 2,600 words to highlight your entire professional journey.Top Six Things to Include in Your LinkedIn About Section:
What is your niche?
Where have you studied and worked previously?
How is your career trajectory unique?
Did you have a good learning curve?
When did you make career switches (and why)?
Areas of interest (can include personal or vocational too)?4. Highlight Skills, Educational and Work Experience Work Experience
Unlike a resume, this section has a character limit. Profile visitors have a very limited attention span. Though this section has a 2000-word limit per experience, long, chunky paragraphs are frowned upon.
It is highly recommended to include a 3-4 line description of the role. Apart from this, 8-10 bullet points can be included to highlight achievements. Remember to add the right metrics and outcomes. Here is a simple formula to follow:
Action Verb + Core Task + Quantifiable Outcome + When
Example: I founded (action verb) a Grassroot Teaching Program (core task) that boosted employee CSR engagement by 25% (quantifiable outcome) in April 2023 (when)Education Section
Under the education section, include all major colleges and universities attended. It is not mandatory to include high school-related information. However, if you have a special achievement during that phase, do include and highlight it.
Including the kind of degree or certificate you earned along with the GPA, certificate copy, and link is necessary. Highlight special achievements, learning experiences, and years.Skills Section
LinkedIn allows you to include 50 skills on your profile. A good mix of hard and soft skills is highly recommended here. Before adding the skills, find out the trending hashtags and keywords relevant to your domain. Don’t forget to pin your top three skills and encourage your network to endorse them.
Wondering how to demonstrate the skills you have added to your profile? Explore the LinkedIn Skill Assessments feature. Complete short quizzes and assessments to earn a badge that can be added to your profile. This helps recruiters validate your claims and it increases your chances of getting hired!5. Use Visual Elements
A LinkedIn profile is both dynamic and interactive. This sets it apart from a regular resume. Recruiters now have an opportunity to read articles and whitepapers you have written and watch videos that feature you.
Showcase your best work in this section and retain a visitor’s attention. You can include: images, videos, PDFs, external links, and blog articles.6. Customize the URL
It comes as no surprise that we would all go for the first link. It is crisp and clean, and we know whose profile we would view first.
LinkedIn provides its users an opportunity to customize their profile URL links. Find this feature in your profile section. Customizing your URL by including your full name and job-related keyword will enhance your SEO value instantly. Your profile will appear better and faster in search results and increase profile visits too.7. Keep the Account Active
Signing up to LinkedIn and having an active profile are two distinct things. Anybody can have a LinkedIn profile. However, setting up the profile completely, continuously engaging with your network, actively posting high-quality content, and updating your skills, is an art. Users who actively engage have better luck with LinkedIn’s continuously changing algorithm. Their profiles get higher preference when recruiters or companies are searching for candidates.
Most importantly, LinkedIn is a professional space and a one-off opportunity for job seekers to build a good, personal brand.
If you are actively looking for a job you could also enable to ‘Open to Work’ feature. It will make your profile more discoverable to potential employers and hiring managers.10 Ways to Stay Active on LinkedIn:
Follow relevant hashtags and influencers
Post original content
Re-post content relevant to your areas of interest
Include links, videos, and images in your posts
Tag people in your posts
Run a poll regarding a trending topic
Find and connect with more people in your domain
Send personalized invites with a short note
Spend quality time at least thrice a week8. Build a Good and Strong Network
LinkedIn’s algorithm works so that your profile is shown to people in your second and third-degree network, encouraging them to interact with you. By adding the right people, you will be able to enhance this more extensive network and build better engagement opportunities.
Adding people to your network and never corresponding with them also negatively impacts the LinkedIn algorithm, as well as your reach.Tips to Build and Maintain a Network:
Share your posts with your network and experts
Tag relevant people on your posts
Repost interesting articles along with a write-up sharing your viewpoint
Write recommendations and ask for one
Join LinkedIn groups and discussion boards
Participate in webinars
Add influencers and industry experts9. Reach an All-Star Profile Level
A strong profile with all elements completed and recently updated gets pushed to the All-star Level. While this sounds simple, continuously updating your profile and staying active on LinkedIn is no simple feat. Only 50% of users across the platform have reached this level. Are you part of that 50%?
LinkedIn’s algorithm automatically pushes such high-ranking profiles, resulting in 14x profile visits and 40x more job opportunities. LinkedIn profiles have 5 stages of strength: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and All Star.Eight Mandatory Profile Elements to Unlock the All-Star Level
Headline and Location
Connections10. Leverage the Recommendations Section
A segment that can positively influence your profile and add credibility to all your claims is the recommendation section. Getting the right recommendations from former colleagues and managers or professors will help recruiters understand you better.
Who are you as a professional?
Are the skills you claim to possess true?
Do you have a good relationship with your team?
How many people are ready to vouch for you professionally?
What are your leadership qualities and professional soft skills?
It is highly recommended to get recommendations from managers who have directly supervised you, colleagues, who are your counterparts, and team members who reported to you. A good mix of recommendations will help recruiters understand your professional persona much better.Upskilling for Better Job Opportunities
Your LinkedIn profile is now ready. Recruiters are visiting your profile regularly. Interviews are slowly getting scheduled. Exciting job offers are around the corner too. However, are you aware that the shelf life of a skill is only five years? So, if you wish to stay relevant and employable in the future, you must be ready to upskill often.
By Manasa Ramakrishnan
Write to us at [email protected]
We finally have a set of bamboo wood in Minecraft, featuring cool new textures and even offering some exclusive blocks. But they are also the most expensive type of wood as it takes multiple pieces of bamboo to make the most basic items. Not to forget, bamboo only naturally spawns in the jungle biomes of Minecraft, making it even rarer to find and use. Lucky for you, we have the perfect solution. Our guide will teach you how to make a bamboo farm in Minecraft and collect hundreds of bamboo wood in no time.How to Make Bamboo Farm in Minecraft (2024)
In this guide, we have covered the material list, tutorials, and the mechanics of the bamboo farm in separate sections. But before that, we are going over the general technicalities of growing bamboo.Growth of Bamboo in Minecraft: Explained
Before we jump into creating a bamboo farm in Minecraft, you first need to understand the ideal circumstances to create this farm. If you already know how to make a sugar cane farm in Minecraft, the process will be much smoother. However, unlike sugar cane, bamboo does not require any water to grow, which gives us flexible options to shape our farm.
You can plant bamboo on grass, dirt, coarse dirt, rooted dirt, gravel, mycelium, podzol, sand, red sand, or mud blocks. On the Java edition, you can even plant it on a moss block. Though, the bamboo’s growth isn’t affected by the blocks you plant it in. Instead, bamboo requires at least level 9 light to continuously grow even during the night. It is easy to achieve this using torches or blocks like froglight in your bamboo farm in Minecraft.Items Required to Make a Bamboo Farm
Open Area (preferably at least 15 x 15 in any Minecraft biome)
1 Piece of Bamboo (at least)
1 Minecart with Hopper
33 Mud blocks (or any other compatible blocks)
37 Black Terracotta Blocks
17 Redstone Dust
4 Redstone Torches
4 Powered Rails
17 Bamboo Trapdoors
24 Bamboo Mosaic Blocks (Decorative)
57 Dark Oak Stairs (Decorative)
26 Dark Oak Slabs (Decorative)
1 Dark Oak Trapdoor (Decorative)
53 Dark Oak Fences (Decorative)
1 Bamboo Fencegate (Decorative)
1 Allay (Optional)
4 Torches (Optional)
4 Stripped Blocks of Bamboo (Decorative)Make an Automatic Bamboo Farm in Minecraft
To make it easier to understand, we have divided our farm tutorial into individual sections. Explore each of them one at a time to avoid any confusion or misplaced blocks. First, follow the steps below to make a plantation area for your bamboo farm in Minecraft:Plantation Area
1. First, use mud blocks to create a hollow square (9 x 9) by replacing the base blocks in the middle area of your farm. It should be at a 3-block distance from the boundary.
2. Then, plant pieces of bamboo on the mud blocks while leaving the corner and their adjacent blocks vacant. You can plant as much bamboo as you have early on for efficiency.
3. Then, place one solid block (black terracotta) and a piston on top behind every bamboo. The piston should be facing the bamboo, as shown in the image below.
5. Finally, place a solid block (black terracotta) behind each piston and put Redstone dust on top of each block.
Functioning: Eventually, the bamboo will grow and show up in front of the observer, making it send a Redstone signal. The signal sent by one observer will reach all the pistons via Redstone dust leading to their activation. The pistons will then break the piece of bamboo in front of them, making it drop as an item.Item Collection System
With the plantation and Redstone mechanics out of the way, it’s time to pick up the fallen bamboo pieces. Follow these steps to set up an item collection system for your bamboo farm in Minecraft:
1. First, choose any one side of the plantation area and then dig a trench in front of the bamboo. It should be 5 blocks wide and 3 blocks deep.
3. Now, place a large chest in the original trench and connect it with two hoppers. These hoppers should be placed after the chests, and they must be beneath the mud blocks (but with a one-block gap).
4. Then, first place a Redstone torch in the ground next to one of the hoppers. After that, place a torch in the middle of each row of the tunnel. These torches must be in the ground replacing the base block and not on top of it.
Location of Redstone torches indicated by arrows
5. Then, start from one side and place solid blocks with a rail on top of them all around the tunnel. While doing so, make sure to put a powered rail on top of every solid block that’s above the Redstone torch. Also, don’t forget to put rails over the hoppers as well.Activation of Rail & Additional Protection
Follow these steps to activate the collection system of your bamboo farm in Minecraft and make it more effective:
2. Then, you need to give the Minecart a slight push to get it to start moving along the rails. We suggest you place a trapdoor on the mud block that’s on top of the hopper and then use it to go into swimming mode. Then, you can easily push start the minecart.
3. Now, with everything in place, you can close off the trench while leaving a staircase-like opening to access the chests. We also added bamboo trap doors to hide the visible hoppers.
4. Finally, for the last functional step, put three bamboo trapdoors right in front of each bamboo plant. These bamboo trapdoors should be on top of each other, so you will have to hold the crouch key while placing them. Also, don’t forget to open them.
Functioning: Dropped items like bamboo can be accessed by the minecart with a hopper even with a gap of one block. So, whenever the minecart passes beneath the mud block with a dropped bamboo on it, the minecart collects that bamboo. Later, when it passes over the hoppers next to the chest, the minecart drops the collected items into them. Meanwhile, the trapdoors ensure that almost no bamboo dropped outside the plantation area.Additional Decorations
1. First, fill the empty area next to the trapdoors with the bamboo mosaic blocks. Then, use dark oak stairs to make a roof over all the mud blocks. You can also use this time to remove the blank mud blocks from the corners.
2. Then, place more dark oak stairs to create a pyramid-like structure on top of the farm, and finally create a roof with dark oak slabs.
3. Once the roof of the main structure is covered, you can also cover the opening of the collection area and leave a one-block entrance to it. We suggest you cover this entrance with a dark oak trap door to match the rest of the farm.
4. Finally, place one striped block of bamboo in each corner of the farm area with a torch on top. The torches will ensure that your farm can work even during the nighttime. Then, connect the striped bamboo blocks with dark oak fences. But don’t forget to add a bamboo fence gate to enter your bamboo farm in Minecraft.Additional Bamboo Farm Security with Allay
1. First, find an Allay in Minecraft and bring it to your bamboo farm. Then, hand it a piece of bamboo so that it automatically finds and collects copies of the same.
2. Then, put two observers facing each other next to a jukebox to make it play indefinitely. The Allay will then automatically be connected to that jukebox.
3. Finally, place a hopper next to the jukebox. Whenever an Allay picks up a stray piece of bamboo, it will throw the bamboo on your jukebox, which will then be collected in the hopper. You can also attach a chest to that hopper for safekeeping.How to Use Bamboo Farm in Minecraft
Once your bamboo farm is active, you must wait for the bamboo plants to grow and get harvested. All the gathered pieces of bamboo will automatically be collected in the dedicated chests. Once you have enough bamboo, you can use them for the following purposes:
Bamboo Wood: You can use the collected pieces of bamboo to create a variety of bamboo wood items.
Fuel: Being a type of wood, bamboo can be used as fuel in furnaces and blast furnaces.
Panda: Pandas love eating bamboo in the real world as well as in Minecraft. So, you can use pieces of bamboo to feed and breed the panda mobs.
Crafting: You can also craft scaffolding and sticks using pieces of bamboo.
Flower Pots: If you place the piece of bamboo in a flower pot, it looks like its dropped form and acts like a decorative item.Make and Use Bamboo Farm in Minecraft
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an online service that creates a secure connection over a less-secure network, such as the internet. It encrypts your online activity from your computer to the VPN server as you browse the internet. This can keep your information much safer and provides an array of benefits, such as hiding your IP address and private data.
When you first set up your VPN, you might wonder if it’s turned on and working to protect your privacy. Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong with a VPN, causing your information to leak. Thankfully, there’s a way to test if this so you can remedy the problem. In this article, we’ll show you how to test your VPN and make sure it continues to protect your data.
Table of Contents
How to Check For IP Address Leaks
See whether your VPN connection is working. Turn your VPN on; it should hide your IP address. It does this by changing the IP address to one in another location. So, to see if your VPN is working, you can check your IP address online.
If your VPN is already on, turn it off.
Go to Google and search “What is my IP address.” Note down the IP address you see, as this is your true IP address.
Turn your VPN on.
Go to Google and search for your IP address again. It should be different from the one you saw before. If not, that means your IP address is not being hidden.
If you find that your VPN isn’t hiding your IP address, there may be a few reasons. The first thing you can do is switch the server location in your VPN. This will give you a new VPN IP address which may fix the issue.
Secondly, it’s possible that your VPN isn’t hiding your IPv6 address but does hide your IPv4 address. Your computer uses these different connection types to access the internet. If you have IPv6 enabled and are accessing a website with it enabled, yet your VPN doesn’t hide this, it can cause your IP address to leak.
The fix is finding a VPN that hides IPv6 traffic and IPv4. You could also alternatively disable IPv6 on your device. However, finding a secure VPN provider covering all these bases is crucial to get your money’s worth and adequately protecting your privacy.
How to Check For DNS Leaks
Another aspect of your privacy you’ll want to ensure your VPN is protecting is the DNS, or domain name system, you’re using to access websites. The DNS server or servers you use can reveal the general geographic area where you’re located, similar to your IP address when your computer sends DNS requests. Your internet service provider can also see the websites you visit through this information. However, not all VPNs cover up DNS information, which could be a potential security risk.
Follow these steps to check if your VPN keeps this information safe.
Head to DNSLeakTest with your VPN on.
Check to see if your IP address is your real one. If so, your VPN is leaking this info. If not, continue and select
After the test is finished, see if the DNS server information matches up with your ISP. If it does, then your VPN is not protecting DNS information.
You will know if your VPN is protecting DNS information if the server information matches what you are using on your VPN. If not, it’s likely that your VPN doesn’t cover up this data.
How to Do a WebRTC Leak Test
The last thing you’ll want to check for in your VPN is potential WebRTC, or Web Real-Time Communication, leaks. When you connect to a website that provides features such as live streaming or file sharing, WebRTC allows this to happen. If a leak happens here, your IP address will be revealed when WebRTC requests occur in your chosen web browser.
To complete a WebRTC leak test, follow this process.
Go to BrowserLeaks with your VPN on.
Public IP Address
, check to see if it’s your real IP address or not.
If the IP address provided by the site is different from your real one, that means your VPN is working to protect from WebRTC leaks.
If you still see your real IP address here, your VPN isn’t securing this WebRTC info. There are many different ways to remedy this issue, depending on your browser.
On Chrome, you can download a browser extension that limits WebRTC, such as WebRTC Network Limiter.
Make Sure Your Privacy Is Protected With Your VPN
If you’re using a VPN to keep your information secure, you’ll want to confirm that your service can do so. Besides changing your IP address, there are a few other areas where your information could get leaked if your VPN isn’t covering it up. Thankfully it’s easy to check if the VPN you’re using provides these protections.
When choosing a VPN, make sure you read up on potential choices as much as possible to ensure you’re getting true protection of your privacy. Especially if you’re paying good money for your VPN service, it’s important to ensure that it’s delivering on all fronts.
Making music on the Mac is easier than it ever has been with many open source apps which allow you to multitrack. They layer up tracks of samples and virtual instruments and turn them into MP3s ready for listening or uploading to iTunes.
But can just anyone on any computer do this? It depends on how elaborate the music is. Music takes memory, and this goes doubly when the instruments you use eat memory like samplers.
In this article we look at what you need to make your music flow and not stop or judder because your machine is fast but just not fast enough.I/O, I/O, It’s Off to Work You Go
Most computers are fast today, and the new Macs are the fastest the Mac has ever been. That goes without saying, but what also goes unsaid often is that in order to function perfectly, professional apps need a lot of system resources.
This means although you can buy a new Mac Mini and make some kind of music on it, you might find that when you start trying to layer up 24 voices to make a choir that everything comes down to a crashing halt.
Even with a top-of-the-line iMac or Mac Pro, you would be hard-pressed to have seamless playback of that many tracks simultaneously one-hundred percent of the time.
So how is it that professional musicians make amazing and complicated music on computers if it can’t be done? The answer is that it can be done, but you need a bit of hardware – a special sound card and I/O box to take the load off the CPU. Latency is the problem, and this fixes it.First Find Your Box
I/O boxes range in price from cheap to expensive, depending on your level. If you are a beginner you can use M-Audio audio interfaces and some of the low-end Edirol boxes by Roland. Higher-end boxes are made by AKAI and Protools. (The name of the AKAI box is a joke. by the way. It’s called EIE I/O. Old McDonald clearly had an audio interface as well as a farm.)
The sky is the limit when buying an audio box, and the rule is as usual with pro kit; get the best one you can afford. A good thing to bear in mind is that whatever you need, good secondhand ones are always available on eBay. A good cheap secondhand box which is quite common is the Edirol UA-25. Although a little noisy, some say it’s good for hobbyists although perhaps not as good for professional sound work.ASIO
Usually these I/O boxes use a type of hardwired ASIO protocol and some nice sound card hardware to take the sound processing load off the CPU and let it get on with running your digital audio workstation (DAW) software, such as Audacity or Reaper.
ASIO (or Audio Stream Input Output) is a protocol for the fast driving of sound cards designed by German music software company Steinberg to provide high fidelity and “low latency.” In normal human language that means it makes them sound good, and it drastically reduces the processing time of sounds so they play without a noticeable delay.
Most I/O boxes additionally provide useful music business inputs not usually available on computers like dual function XLR plugs which are also ¼” phono jacks, both common on high-end microphones.
They often also feature MIDI out ports to control actual hardware synthesisers synchronized with the virtual instruments.
PC users can use ASIO4All to reduce latency on non-ASIO peripherals, but Mac users can rely on the Core audio driver to take care of any low-end (software-based) music production processing.Fitting an I/O Box
Usually I/O boxes are USB devices. Back in the day they were also Firewire-based, but as USB has gotten so much faster, Firewire has fallen out of style and is no longer used.
Most of the time, you can just plug the I/O box into the USB, and it will be detected by the DAW software so you can select it for output. Sometimes you may need to install a driver for the box and reboot. Either way, installation is usually trouble-free and quick.
Most DAWs have a Preferences setting to direct the audio from the software to a specific device. This means you can set the system audio to the speakers and set the audio from the DAW to go through your I/O box and into headphones.
In our example, the old Roland Edirol UA-25 I/O box needs no drivers to work with Yosemite. Just plug and play. If you want to make the system sound come out through the box, open your System Preferences and choose Sound.
Select the UA-25 on both the input and output tabs.
Similarly with applications like Audacity, choose the UA-25 from the input output drop-down menus to the right of the toolbar.Sounds like Perfection
But by and large, having an I/O box dealing with your sound makes everything a LOT smoother and more professional. With an I/O box installed you can load more tracks, have more sample data sloshing around and run many more tracks stacked up at once than you could before.
Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He’s designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.
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