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July 2005 - Posts

An audio interview with Brian Ibbott of Coverville


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EPISODE #88 - as part of my ongoing Digital Pontification Summer Interview Series, here's the sixth installment, where I interview Coverville's Brian Ibbott.  If Adam Curry is indeed the king of podcasting, Brian certainly would be the prince.  He's done a lot of groundbreaking work in the field of developing sound business models around his podcast, which is based on exhibiting the best/worst cover songs out there. 

 

Brian shares his thoughts and opinions on podcasting, my quest for alternative podsafe clips that won't piss off RIAA, his excellent media kit, his advertising & sponsorship strategies, and having good segments and features within a show. Also, download the Podcast Brothers show where they a dissect/analyze Brian's Media Kit.

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Posted: Jul 31 2005, 12:23 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Post-production tips: ensuring good audio quality from Skype interviews in Audacity

One of the big concerns for people using VoIP-based interviews in their podcasts using Skype is the variance in quality between participants.  It's my experience in having conducted doing several interviews based on this setup that typically the person doing the recording will be a lot louder than the person being interviewed. 

For most people that don't have sophisticated home setups with condenser mics, complex mixers and avanced tools, we normally get one shot at gettting this right, lest we have to embarrasingly call the person again and re-record.  With podcasts being not-live time-shifted digital audio, we're of course able to go in and make post-production fixes and tweaks to improve the sound of our stuff.  The main goal should be to balance out the volume between you and the other person(s).

In the freeware app Audacity, this is best done by leveraging the Amplify and Normalize tools, both of which are found under the Effects menu.  The former alters the volume setting (either positively or negatively) of a clip, and the latter lets you make spot corrections to an DC offset displacement.  What this means to you in non-technical terms s that you can level out the audio.  By highlighting a clip within an audio track and then using Effects ==> Amplify and Effects ==> Normalize (in that order and in reverse), you can find a good balance so they're isn't a huge disparity between your voice and someone else's.  (Tip: if the person on the other end is coming in a lot lower than I am, I typically only normalize my audio, to bring it down, and then play with both tools on the guest's levels).

The downside is that this is a lot of post-production effort.  I typically spend 90 minutes editing each 30-minute blocl of a Skype converation.  So, I get around this by having managing my Skype interviews so that they're focused, quick, and to the point.  But more importantly, I make sure that when I ask a question, I let the paticipant answer and I try and stay silent.  This makes the editing mentioned above easier, without two voices blending in together.

This results in a better-sounding podcast that people will want to listen to. 

Here are some good related tips:

Posted: Jul 31 2005, 12:10 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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No plans for TiVo on Guam

Bill from Boston, who listens to my podcast, was so intrigued about the prospect of Guam users ever being able to use TiVo, either through plans to intoduce that service out here in TechnicalNeverNeverland, or by the more consumer hack-savvy being able to fund a suitable workaround, that he wrote to TiVo and inquired about it.  I had gone on a rant on a previous podcast, running down the numerous consumer tech products that I'd totally be into if they ever worked out here, and TiVo was right up there. 

Here's the disappointing (but at least honest) response.

Host_Jon
Hi, thank you for your question. I asked Support for some clarification on this and would like to pass this along. TiVo doesn't officially support Guam and there are currently no plans to do so. The same goes for Puerto Rico, actually. Although you have heard from some customers in these forums from Puerto Rico who successfully use TiVo there, this is because they use DirectTV, and DirectTV program guide data is consistent with what's available in the US. Getting local program guide data into your TiVo is really what complicates using a TiVo out of the US. Also, note that because TiVo doesn't officially support PR or Guam, you can't order a TiVo from tivo.com and ship it there -- TiVo only ships to a valid US mailing address. Likewise, in case you ever needed to send an unit back to TiVo for a support issue, TiVo only sends to valid US addresses as well. So if your TiVo ever stopped working, you might be forced to purchase a new TiVo (and if you buy a lifetime service contract, these usually aren't transferrable to another unit).

So to recap, no, TiVo isn't officially supported in Guam but yes, some customers are finding a way to work around this policy. They are doing so at their own risk, however, as outlined above. Hope this helps to clarify.

Needless to say, I'm crestfallen - but at least now we know definitively.  I gave up doing things like this years ago...the result is too predictable and heartbreaking.  I guess it's a tradeoff for having 11 months of summer. 

Thanks Bill!

Posted: Jul 31 2005, 02:00 AM by guam-aspdev | with 4 comment(s)
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Is this funny to anyone else but me? (DropDownList.ToolTip in the .NET 1.x API)

I found the .NET Framework Class Library on MSDN extremely helpful this morning, describing why an ASP.NET page I'm doing was throwing an error.  But perhaps more importantly, I got a chuckle in wondering how an API could have an entire entry for DropDownList.ToolTip, a property, which...umm...doesn't exist.


.NET Framework Class Library  

DropDownList.ToolTip Property

Gets or sets the ToolTip text displayed when the mouse pointer rests over the control.

Property Value

The ToolTip text displayed when the mouse pointer rests over the control.

Remarks

Note   The ToolTip property is inherited from the WebControl class and is not applicable to the DropDownList control. This implementation of the ToolTip property does not allow you to set a value and returns String.Empty if you use the get accessor.
Posted: Jul 30 2005, 01:24 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Legal concerns about underaged podcasting/blogging?

"Can't drink, can't drive, but I've been podcasting and blogging for years..."

I was asked recently by a gentleman in the States to interact with his son, an 11-year-old aspiring sportscaster.  He's got his own podcast (and it's quite good I might add), and under the supervision of his father talks about the national sports scene.  Pretty cool, and I wish him all the best - and I'm very glad to see his dad taking an active role in his productions and career dreams.

But I started thinking about what the major liability concerns would be for underaged people getting involved in new media, supervised or not.  Sure, you open yourself to flaming/criticism when blogging, and I'm assuming that most 'Netizens who routinely post honest criticism of someone's work might think twice before doing so if they knew the age of the person posting their thoughts; likewise, argumentation - harsh or not - over one's commentary might hurt a kid's feelings more than a mature person who accepts the fact that if you say it/write it on the Web, you open yourself up to global scrutiny. I don't want to make a sweeping generalization, but I'm sure most kids wouldn't react well to having their thoughts challenged/rejected by strangers.  And I don't even want to think about the risk of being seen by online predators that a young contributor assumes when putting their stuff online.

For decades we've been able to control this...on TV, we can feature stories for/about/by kids, and we in the mainstream media directly managed who saw and said what, and to whom.  But in the Age of Information interactivity runs amok, with practically anyone being able to communicate or connect with anyone else.  I've had huge arguments with a certain co-worker of mine, when she has her kids do movie reviews for TV.  I don't mind this going out by hr offspring over the air, sans the ability for people to interact with them directly.  I'm OK with it being unidirectional.  But when it comes time to post reviews on the Web, I strictly attributed her as the source of the review - not her kids.  I just don't want to entertain feedback for kids, good or bad - and whether she truly understands why or not.

I think AOL requires either a certain age to post to its community blogs, or won't post the age of the blogger at all.  Most forums/BBSes I've seen at least do the perfunctory "By clicking this link you admit that you're at least 13 years of age" thing before allowing access, so they get the legal liability out of the way.  But what about people who do online guerilla marketing, promoting their media through iTunes, or community blog sites?

At what age is someone considered mature enough to get involved with and be responsible for the interactivity made possible by new media? 

Posted: Jul 30 2005, 07:29 AM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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You've got to hand it to the PHP folks when it comes to forums...

One thing that I've noticed in terms of forum/bulletin board applications being developed and used all over the WWW - phpBB is annihilating all other platforms and products, as far as being out in the market.  Obviously, the nature of it being based on PHP and free.  In fact, I've seen people become so accustomed to the phpBB style of navigating through messages, requiring membership to participate and adding in handles and avatars that they get totally lost when using forums or a BBS from any other platform.

I know of several such ASP 3.0 apps, I can mentally recall a handful of forums based on ASP.NET, and I may have even run across a JSP-based BBS, even though I can't immediately recall exactly which one.

But the number of forums based on phpBB are legion.  There are even forums about the forum

Posted: Jul 30 2005, 07:15 AM by guam-aspdev | with 3 comment(s)
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Dang...couldn't get the Sirius trial to work in Pocket IE

Well, it was worth a shot...I tried loading the Sirius web-based player to see if I could listen to satellite radio programming on Pocket IE on a Audiovox XV6600 I'm playing with.  No dice - the player's UI, which is a miniturized window opening from the main Sirius page is a bit too DHTML-ish, with a few too many expandable lists and auto-refreshing subwindows for the scaled-down web browser to handle.  The page did open, but the collapsable menus wouldn't render.

Too bad...just thought I'd give it a shot.

 

Posted: Jul 29 2005, 11:10 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Synching remote subscription lists via OPML in iPodder 2.1

One ultra-cool feature I enjoy about iPodder 2.1 is the ability to synch the app with a remote OPML file, eliminating the need to replicate subscriptions across multiple copies of the program on platforms and devices.  This is something I've been working on, with added functionality for user-defined content filtering and/or conditional downloading.

Nice touch.

How is Adam Curry's Podshow doing on Sirius ratings-wise?

I'm curious now that I'm testing sattelite radio through the Sirius 3-day trial - how popular is Adam Curry's Podshow, in terms of ratings and listenership in the Sirius library?  With popular music and talk being the dominant formats out of the 120 channels offered (not to mention Howard Stern's eagerly-anticipated arrival), I hope our fearless podcast leader is advancing the charge, exhibiting the huge collection of podsafe tunes he's got, and not getting swallowed by the demand for well-known stuff. 

As far as finding his program, he had a run on the Sirius homepage, but I had to go through Google to find a URL to his show.  Does anyone have any idea how indie music is weathering the storm amidst all the popular stuff?

Posted: Jul 29 2005, 01:07 PM by guam-aspdev | with 3 comment(s)
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Sirius kicks total ass...too bad this is just for 3 days

Damn...I'm glad I'm the IT guy around here - leave it to me to personally dedicate oodles of my employer's network bandwidth and chalk it up as "research".  This morning on my podcast I signed up for Sirius' free 3-day trial so I could check out sattelite radio for the first time (with me being in infrastructure-impoverished Guam).

This totally freakin' rules.  I've been through several of the channels (mostly hard rock, but I dabbled in hip-hop and bubblegum pop), and none fail to impress.  I'm really digging this, and it's a good tradeoff - paying for songs I know and love in exchange for an elimination of jerkass DJs being schticky and incessant, repetitive commmercials for stuff I'd never use anyway.

Every few songs, there's the occasional self-promoting spot, and cross-referential plug for other Sirius shows, which I actually appreciate a lot.  This is way cool...I'd totally pay for popular music on satRadio and get indie cuts on the Podsafe Music Network.  I'm going to be severely depressed Monday when the trial runs out. 

Damn.

(You can also listen to me talk about what other consumer tech products I can't use out here in Technical NeverNeverLand, and what's I'd get into if I were in the States here.)

Posted: Jul 29 2005, 12:56 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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