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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

How Screen Sharing saved my bacon

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

I visited my mother in Arizona for a few days last week, so I rushed to get a bunch of work done before I went. The project files associated with my Total Party Kill podcast are extremely large, so I decided to edit the next episode before I left rather than cramming those files into the small amount of free space on my MacBook Air and doing that work in the desert.

I edited, exported, and uploaded the episode, setting it to launch during the middle of the following week. Fast forward several days: I’m in Arizona, but my Twitter app is filling up with people who have listened to the new episode and discovered that it becomes a bunch of pops and whistles about 40 minutes in.

I’m a bit mystified about how this could happen—everything sounded fine and I’ve never had an export error like this before. But I check the file, and indeed, the last 30 minutes is just noise. The problem is, I’m in Arizona and my project file—all 20 GB of it—is back in California.

Fortunately, I store all my projects on my home server, which recently got a storage upgrade to make it much more usable. And my home server is accessible over the Internet via the built-in Screen Sharing app.

So I connected to my home server via Screen Sharing and used the app to transfer the full-quality audio file of the podcast, hoping that what had happened was an encoding error. A few minutes later: nope! This was apparently an export failure on the part of Logic Pro X. I really didn’t want to copy 20 GB of data over the Internet in order to fix this problem.

Instead, I used Screen Sharing to open the App Store app on the Mac mini and install Logic Pro X. Then I launched Logic, opened the project, and re-exported the last 35 minutes of audio to an Apple Lossless audio file. I copied that file over to my MacBook Air via Screen Sharing, replaced the bad audio in the original file, re-exported and uploaded, and the problem was solved. And all without transferring 20 GB of project data.

This worked because I had a Mac mini server running, with the right ports (3283, 5900, and 5988) open on my router to allow me to connect to the server.

Could I have done all of this with only my iPad Pro? (I had to bring my MacBook Air with me on the trip because there was no good way for me to record Clockwise and Upgrade with just the iPad Pro, so it wasn’t an issue this time.) In thinking about it, it would have been a more circuitous process, but it probably would’ve worked. I would have used Screens to remote-control my Macs from the iPad, used Dropbox to transfer the old and new files, and probably patched the two audio files together with Ferrite Recording Studio1. It would’ve been trickier than using the Mac, but it would’ve been doable.

  1. I edited this past weekend’s episode of The Incomparable on the iPad Pro using Ferrite, marking the third time I’ve edited an entire podcast with that app. 

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