Under The Microscope

Learn All About Rogue Amoeba With Debug Podcast Episode #66

Speaking of behind-the-scenes looks into Rogue Amoeba, if 22 minutes of discussion on how we do things here just wasn’t enough, well then today is your lucky day! Recently, I was delighted to join my friends Guy English and Rene Ritchie on their popular Debug podcast. We chatted at length about many things related to Rogue Amoeba, with a focus on creating a sustainable software business. Tune in to hear about the origins of Rogue Amoeba, details on the latest Audio Hijack, and of course, discussion of “Math Blaster” running on a Mac Plus.

NSConference 7 Talks Are Now Online

Back in January, I encouraged folks to attend NSConference 7. If you were interested, I hope you joined us this year, because NSConference 7 will be the last version. The conference really went out with a bang, with great talks, as well as plenty of socializing.

If you missed the conference (and the socializing), you can still catch up on the talks over on Vimeo. My own talk, entitled “Feedback Driven Development”, provides a look at how we incorporate feedback from our customers into our development process. If you’re a software developer, or just a curious customer, I hope you’ll find it worth a watch!

Audio Hijack 3.1 Raises the Bar

Audio Hijack IconWhen we released Audio Hijack 3 back in January, we hoped people would like it. Since then, we’ve been thrilled and gratified to be inundated with positive feedback about the upgrade. People just love Audio Hijack 3, and we couldn’t be more pleased.

There’s always room for improvement though, and today we’re bringing that with version 3.1. When we redesigned Audio Hijack for version 3, we chose not to include some things which weren’t very popular, no longer fit, or just didn’t make it in time for the 3.0 update. With a goal of simplifying, things like CD burning and obscure audio effects just weren’t worth including any longer.

But we always listen to our customers’ feedback, and Audio Hijack 3.1 brings back the two most-requested features: Silence Monitoring and File Actions. Read on for more information, or just choose “Check for Update” from the Audio Hijack menu.

Silence Monitoring

First, have a look at the updated “File Limits” section of the Recorder Block. Here, you can control just how Audio Hijack reacts to silence, as well as exactly how “silence” is defined. Use these controls to remove the silence from your recording, automatically start a new file when silence occurs, or stop your recording based on silence.

Audio Hijack Silence Actions

We received a great many of requests for this functionality in Audio Hijack 3, so we know users will find it useful. Enjoy!

File Actions

Audio Hijack in ActionNext up is the Actions area, which can be found in the Recordings tab of the Home window. Highlight one (or many!) recordings, then click the Actions button to manipulate with just a click. It’s very handy.

It was already possible to reveal a file in the Finder, but now you can do much more. Pass audio over to your audio editor of choice.1 Easily add files to your iTunes library. Or use the OS’s built-in Share sheet to pass files via email, iMessage, and more. Working with your recordings is now easier than ever!

Much, Much More

While those two features are the major new items found in this free update, there’s much more to appreciate. We’ve made dozens of improvements, just some of which are detailed below:

  • Higher Sample Rates – AIFF and WAV recordings can now be made in higher sample rates, with support for 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, and 192 kHz.

  • Expanded Keyboard Controls – Keyboard control is now available for quick access to all important recording controls. Turn off all Recordings in a Session with Commmand-K. Pause all Recordings with Command-B. Split all Recordings with Command-T. Nice!

  • Better Handling of Missing Audio Devices – Audio Hijack is now more intelligent than ever when it comes to dealing with missing and re-appearing audio devices. In addition, when a device is not plugged in, Audio Hijack will alert you so you can adjust your settings.

  • Avoiding Auto-ducking – Previously when capturing from FaceTime or Mac OS X Dictation, forced auto-ducking was performed by the OS. This then necessitated manual adjustments in order to hear audio at a useful level. Audio Hijack now works around that, so audio capture from FaceTime and Dictation works just as you’d expect.

  • Working Around QuickTime Bugs – On Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), QuickTime Player could sometimes refuse to auto-play audio handed to it. While we wait for Apple to fix this bug, Audio Hijack now attempts to work around the issue.

  • Smarter Instant On – Audio Hijack now correctly alerts you to the need to install the Instant On extra. Previously, it could simply fail to capture audio, and that was far from ideal. We recommend that all users install Instant On, but now when it’s required, you’ll know.

  • Improvements to Icons, Errors, Tooltips, and More – We’ve scoured the app to find and correct all manner of rough edges. You likely won’t notice it, but we’ve sanded things down for an ever smoother experience.

  • Bug Squashing – As well, we’ve fixed a large quantity of bugs big and small. Most were small, but we’ve also fixed a few crashing issues, and now better handle system sleep when recording.

  • Audio Hijack 3.1 contains several distinct improvements, as well as a great many refinements. It will enable you to record and enhance audio faster and better than ever.

    Get It Now

    Ok, enough talk! Let’s get you updated. If you’re already running Audio Hijack 3, just choose “Check for Update” from the Audio Hijack menu to get the latest version.

    If you haven’t upgraded to Audio Hijack 3 yet, or you’ve never used Audio Hijack before, you can learn more on the Audio Hijack page, or just grab the free trial now.


    1. We recommend our own editor Fission of course, but any audio editor can be chosen in Audio Hijack’s preferences. ↩︎

Using Airfoil to Send Audio to the Raspberry Pi

Since way back in 2008, we’ve offered various versions of Airfoil Speakers for Linux. By coupling Airfoil Speakers for Linux with Airfoil for Mac or Airfoil for Windows, you can turn your Linux machine into an audio receiver.

Raspberry Pi LogoOne of the most exciting Linux machines out there is the Raspberry Pi. While still a fully-capable computer, it’s also a tiny, inexpensive device which makes computing and programming more accessible to everyone. The Raspberry Pi is also tremendously popular with hackers, who’ve used it to do all manner of amazing things.

One thing the Raspberry Pi hasn’t yet been able to do, however, is run Airfoil Speakers for Linux! There were a few issues, including troubles with ARM architecture compatibility, as well as encoding and floating point handling. Thankfully, recent updates have cured some of these issues, and we’ve worked around the rest.

Thus, as you may have guessed, today, we’re finally making it possible for Airfoil to play with the Raspberry Pi. If you’ve been looking to send audio from your Mac or Windows machine over to your Raspberry Pi (as well as to other AirPlay outputs), grab the latest update to Airfoil Speakers for Linux, right here. Happy listening!

User Hostile Experiences

Recently, Fraser Speirs tweeted about some lousy behavior from the current version of Apple’s iWork suite. If you attempt to use iWork 2013 or later to open a file created by iWork ’08 or earlier, you’ll get an error. Apparently the file has gone stale, and possibly moldy. It’s “too old” to be opened by the current iWork, and must first be opened and re-saved with iWork ’09.

This presentation can't be opened because it's too old. To open it, save it with Keynote ’09 first

This makes for quite a lousy experience. At best, you need to use a second application to manually do something that the software should instantly and automatically handle for you. Worse, if you don’t have iWork ’09, you could be entirely out of luck in opening a document that may be just a few years old.

That’s troubling, and it’s not the only crime of which iWork is guilty. Fraser’s tweet reminded me of several gripes I’ve recently had with iWork, so I decided to detail them.

OS Upgrades Are Still a Big Deal

In 2011, Apple greatly simplified the installation of operating system upgrades. With the release of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), major OS upgrades could be purchased via the Mac App Store. Two years later, with Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), Apple made their OS upgrades free. It’s now possible to trigger an upgrade to your OS with just a few clicks, and at no cost.

However, while the logistical and financial barriers have now been removed, the technological changes found in any major operating system upgrade are as real as ever. Upgrading your OS still makes major changes under the hood which can have far-reaching impact. Users with a functioning workflow have always been wise to take a cautious path when it comes to OS upgrades, and that remains true.

And yet, frequently when I open an iWork app on a Mavericks machine, I’m greeted by this message:

Install the latest version of OS X, then visit the Mac App Store to download the latest version of Keynote.

Suggesting that users upgrade, when their current OS doesn’t support the new version, is just irksome. Wait until they’re on the new operating system, then pitch the upgrade.

Similarly frustrating is this dialog, which appears every time an iWork app is launched on Mavericks:

iCloud Drive isn't compatible with OS X Mavericks.

These dialogs both pretend that an OS upgrade is no big deal. That’s a grave disservice to users whose workflows are very likely to be disrupted in some fashion with the OS upgrade. To top it off, they fail to offer a “Don’t Show Again” checkbox. They never stop appearing, until you finally do upgrade your OS.

Opening Yosemite Files on Mavericks

While the above dialogs are obnoxious, they’re at least accurate. An OS upgrade is indeed required to use the very latest iWork app versions, or iCloud Drive. More recently, I’ve run up against a problem which claims to require an OS upgrade, despite the fact that one is not actually required. I’m detailing the workaround here, in the hopes that others can find it.

If you create a document in the latest iWork apps on Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), and then attempt to open it in the latest iWork apps on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), you’ll get this error:

iCloud Drive isn't compatible with OS X Mavericks.

Earlier, we saw that the iWork team was willing to treat files that were current as little as five years ago as “too old”. Now, it seems that a file made just six months ago may require the very newest OS to be opened! While griping about this to a friend, he sought out someone he knew on the iWork team, who was able to provide a workaround to the problem.

It turns out this dialog is somewhat misleading. While that particular copy of the file can’t be opened on Mavericks, it is possible for the iWork apps on Yosemite to create files which are compatible with both OSes. To do so, you’ll need to go to the “File” menu, then selected ”Advanced”, then “Change File Type”. On Yosemite, this defaults to “Single File”. Switch this to “Package” and re-save. The file will now be openable on Mavericks as well.

iCloud Drive isn't compatible with OS X Mavericks.

This option is not available on the initial save, so you need to first save, then change the file type and re-save. It’s also tremendously well-hidden. In my case, finding it required the indirect help of an actual iWork engineer. Hopefully, future users who run into issues opening an iWork file from 10.10 on 10.9 will find this post and the workaround.


Ultimately, none of this should be necessary. When a file is “too old”, the software should contain the necessary code to update it, without requiring another app to act as intermediary. When an update requires a new OS, it shouldn’t be mentioned to users, and certainly not repeatedly. File compatibility between versions should be maintained for years, even decades, rather than being lost in a matter of months.

The above problems all result from poor product management. Decision makers either didn’t consider people not running the very latest versions, or worse, they just didn’t care about them. Users should never have to worry that their data will be unavailable to them, particularly when it comes to productivity apps. Unfortunately, rather than providing a user friendly experience, iWork is currently outright hostile to its users.

I hope we’ll see improvements in the future. To that end, I have indeed filed some radars.

rdar://20325798 – Files Should Never Be “Too Old”

rdar://20325848 – Enough About the OS Update

rdar://20325823 – Enough with iCloud Drive Already

rdar://20325881 – iWork Files From Yosemite Can’t Be Opened on Mavericks, by Default