Evil Genius Chronicles Patreon Hangout

The first Evil Genius Chronicles Hangout will be this Thursday, July 9th at 12:30 PM EDT. This is the reward for the Patreon campaign reaching $40 an episode. That seems like a phenomenal success and I am super appreciative of every single one of our Patrons.

The Hangout will be broadcast live as a Hangout On Air, also on YouTube and will be available as a video later on. Come watch and see what crazy shenanigans occur! You can go to the event page on Google+ and RSVP there if you like. It will also be streamed via the embed on this post when it actually happens.

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Podcast Moment from the Early Days

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Chuck Tomasi sent me this photo that he found from the first New Media Expo (called I think the Podcast and Portable Media Expo or something like that.) There are four early podcasters visible in the shot. I’m not sure about the cats in the background, if you can identify them let me know. Cool, no?

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Happy Anniversary Skepticality

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I am currently listening to an episode of Skepticality from March and on the show, Derek mentioned that as of that recording, it was almost the 10th anniversary of the show which would be on … May 7th. So congratulations to Derek and Swoopy for ten solid years of putting out the show. They have survived and thrived through some incredible, near-death setbacks (talking literally here, not metaphorically.)

I’m glad the show is still going on, that Swoopy still makes the occasional appearance that always leaves me wanting more. I’m glad they are my friends and that there is a framework that allowed us all to meet each other.

Now to start on the next 10 years!

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Editing Fun

I am working on the podcast with my friends from Beyond the Wall. It is a big scale, long duration job editing a 150 minute conversation with five people. Additionally, at patron request I am for the first time adding in chapter marks for the conversation. That’s another big job as well as completely new functionality to me. It’s a job on its own separately from trying to cull all links for the show notes and fixing any sound glitches.

Despite all that, just listening back to this is making me about as happy as I was recording it in the first place. I will really be interested in listener feedback on this one. I can’t tell if this is objectively good or if it is just a memento of getting to spend an evening discussing a subject I enjoy with people I enjoy. We shall see. For those that like it, you will get a lot of it to like. Lengthwise this episode is to my typical episodes as Song of Ice and Fire is to ordinary fantasy series.

The one thing I am pleased with is how well the conversation went with such a large panel. By being explicit traffic cop and directing the question to specific people as it went, there is way less talking over each other than you’d expect in this situation. I expected I would have to fix some crosstalk as best I could, but there has been practically none. Color me pleasantly surprised.

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My Audacity Wishlist Feature

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If I could get a FOSS genie to grant me one wish in the open source world, it would be for Audacity to have pitch correction on the playback so that when you listen sped up you can do it without the chipmunk effect. Especially as I am reviewing and editing a 2.5 hour file that is a panel of 5 people, I can’t differentiate most of the voices when listening faster than nominal speed because they all blur together. I’m not looking to permanently alter the file with “Change Tempo” (or even temporarily) but I just want to be able to review at higher (or lower) speed with the original pitch. My podcast player can do this, given enough resources I’m sure someone could do this. I saw that 2.1.0 was just released and I downloaded it with limited hope that maybe this feature was in this version. Alas, it was not.

The real question is do I want this enough to download the code, set up an Audacity development environment and try to figure this out for myself? Possibly not. I need one more project like an aperture in my cranium.

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Jimmy Dore on WTF Podcast

Here’s a funny quote from Jimmy Dore on this episode of WTF:

“One day my brother out of nowhere starts complaining about the estate tax. ‘Hey, we got to get rid of this estate tax.” I said, ‘Phil, what are you talking about?’ He said ‘That’s when you die and you have millions of dollars, the government just takes half of it.’ I said ‘That’s horrible. Let me know when that becomes a problem for you but until then maybe you should turn off your AM radio and get invited to your own life. I’m sure the estate tax sucks but I’m pretty sure estates don’t have two cars that don’t work on the front lawn. You should be worried about the t-shirt tax at WalMart, you dickhead.’ ”

This episode is funny and I like Dore’s stories. The one part that was a drag was when they discussed Dore starting a podcast before Maron and how he was a “pioneer” and “one of the first guys doing it.” This is 2008 they are talking about. There were at least 50,000 podcasts by then. Even though I listen to a lot of podcasts from the comedy world, it always bugs me how they consider everyone outside of the comedy podcast world as non-entities. Forget us dumb schmoes who just built the entire infrastructure that makes what you do possible, nothing much counted until standups got involved. You’re welcome.

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Tonight on Nutty Bites

Tonight at 9 PM EDT or whenever I can get there, I will be a guest on the Nutty Bites podcast. It will be streamed live via Google Hangout and YouTube so you can watch real time.

The discussion will be about Crowd Funding and Patreon. I will discuss my recent experiments in my Patreon campaign and more I’m sure. It looks like the Q&A module is turned on so you can ask questions if there is something you’d like answered by the panel. I’m looking very forward to this discussion. Come join us!

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Bill Gates on Nerdist

I am listening to Bill Gates on the Nerdist podcast. I know it is one of those things that is a “good get” for the program in that he’s an extremely famous person. However, the first time the handler jumped in to steer the conversation back to the Gates Foundation, I thought very hard about hitting the skip button. I understand they have a message they want to push, but it if you think the only way to spread that message is with Soviet level control, you may not understand the modern mediasphere as well as you think you do. That doesn’t make me feel better about the thing you are pushing, it makes me feel like the handler is pushing me around.

The only upside of the tight control from the handler is that it kept Matt Mira from trying to steer the conversation to what Gates thought of Frazier.

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Kickstarter Hatred

I am currently listening to Episode #2 of Ditchdiggers with Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace. They are discussing the Stacey Jay Kickstarter fiasco and how the YA community gave her enormous grief about asking for readers to support the creation of her work. Which is the basis of EVERY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN EVER!

On Thursday evening at 9 PM EDT (or whenever I get there after child bedtime) I am going to be a part of a roundtable for the Nutty Bites podcast talking about these issues. I am really looking forward to the conversation and hearing what everyone else has to say. I will just note here that although I didn’t know about the Stacey Jay situation when I recorded my Patreon video, there is a reason why it was done with me pretending to smoke a pipe and affecting a highly exaggerated pomposity. I was trying to preemptively short circuit exactly that line of thinking.

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Evil Genius Chronicles Patreon Campaign is Live!

After consultation with a set of podcast supporters and taking in some input from those folks, the Evil Genius Chronicles Patreon campaign is now live!

The response from the first few days was completely off the charts from what I was expecting. The milestone for getting the show on a weekly schedule was met within the first 36 hours. I was hoping for the best but I wouldn’t have placed that bet. Thank you to all the supporters thus far.

If you are interested in supporting, feel free. So far, all of the pledges have been at the higher levels. No one has pledged at the $0.25 level but as I mentioned on the last episode, there is nothing preventing you from pledging at that $0.01 level. I misspoke during the episode, I am a $0.10 per episode supporter of Cordkillers not the $0.01 I stated. If you want to support but don’t have a lot of money, support at the nickel level. It’s all good.

I’m posting here the two alternate versions of the pitch video. I uploaded all three but the main version is what is linked from Patreon. For those who watched the video, these differ only by 13 seconds from version to version. Yes, it is THAT 13 seconds. From A to C they ramp up in redonkulousness.

Thanks again to all the supporters. My biggest fear was this campaign publicly eating it in spectacular fashion. It went so well so quickly that was off the table. I appreciate all the support my friends. To the future!

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What Say You, Fast and Furious?

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I really enjoy the What Say You podcast with Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano. I went about things bass-ackwards, first listening to and enjoying their podcast enough that I decided to try an episode of the Impractical Jokers TV show. I’d expect most people went the other way around. I was already a listener of Tell Em Steve Dave, so I had years of BQ podcast listening under my belt. Still, it seems like a weird path.

Here’s how much I enjoy their show. On their episode 48, I listened to two hours of them discussing the first Fast and the Furious movie. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen any Fast and the Furious movie. I laughed and enjoyed it and basically had a great time. These guys are seriously funny and I just enjoy being able to listen to them chat. For being guys with their own television show, their podcast is straight out of the mold of the indie shows that I listen to. They have way more in common with Dawn and Drew or Derek Coward than any celebrity podcasters. I love that, I love their podcast, I love their TV show. For me to say that about a program on a reality show network is not a casual thing. They make me laugh, every single time.

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How I Play Music into Google Hangouts

tl;dr – This post is about how I finally got a full setup where I can play arbitrary computer audio into a Google Hangout or other conference; save a copy of the audio to my local media with no repeating; and use a single microphone for all of the above. This information is Mac OS X specific.

One of my dirty secrets of my podcast career and earlier is that until recently I had never once recorded a remote interview with my own equipment using a single microphone setup. I have always had two, one that the person on the phone or Skype connection was hearing and then my own local microphone that was recording me. It started as laziness and never was a thing I readdressed until the last few weeks when it became a problem. My Google Hangout with Butler a few weeks ago forced my hand on a lot of this and made me get my act together.

I wanted to get everything together into a single comprehensive recording solution that had all of these requirements fulfilled:

  • Ability to play my computer audio into a Skype call or Google Hangout
  • Record all the audio locally
  • Use a single microphone for everything

To start with, I used Alex Botten’s video as the basis for getting my computer audio playing into the Google Hangout. He covers it pretty comprehensively in that 17 minute video but I will include the summary here (as much so I can refresh my memory later as anything.) To start with, you need to have Soundflower installed. You need to have Ladiocast installed. (Ladiocast is really the secret weapon of this entire setup.)

Go to your Sound system preferences. You need to set your Input as “Soundflower 2ch” and your Output as “Soundflower 64ch”. I guarantee at times this will seem counterintuitive, just roll with me. Soundflower is basically a sound routing bus that takes the arbitrary channels and mixes them down to a single 2 channel signal. Although the 64 channel is the input and the 2 channel is the output, you do the reverse because you want your system audio feeding Soundflower’s input and Soundflower’s output feeding your system input. Again, just trust me.

ladiocast screenshot

Next, you will open Ladiocast. This program gives you the option of taking up to three inputs and sending them to up to three outputs. It seems like Soundflower and this program are doing the same thing but they are not, they are complementary players in this game. I’ve got a screen capture of my setup. The thing to note here is that my microphone is on “Powerwave Composite” (more about that later) and the computer audio is on the Soundflower bus. You can send each of the inputs (I’m only using two) to any of three outputs (also only using two.) I have my microphone going to Aux 1 and the computer sound going to Aux 1 and Main. Main is the headphone jack and is running to my hardware mixer.

Stop for a breath. It gets more complicated from here. Let’s review where we are at so far. I have Soundflower configured as my system input and output, but I am also using Ladiocast to send my mic to only Soundflower and any further audio my computer plays (music, for example, or the audio coming out of the Hangout) to both the headphone jack and Soundflower.

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Now we are going to talk about my mixer setup. This is the other half of the configuration, and what fulfills the rest of my requirements. As you look at the mixer, input 1 is trusty studio mike. Input 2 is my lavalier mike. Input 3/4 is the output from the computer’s headphone jack. On the right is the mixer output which is going directly into my Marantz PMD 670 (the mixer is sitting on top of it.) At the top, the patch cable running from the adapter is going to the Griffin PowerWave which is then goes back to the computer via USB. (This laptop doesn’t have a line-in jack, so if I had that I wouldn’t need it.) They don’t seem to make them anymore, but a Griffin iMic would do the same function. Lastly are the headphones plugged into the top right jack.

Now, the PowerWave works solely to get the signal from my microphone into the computer. I have the FX return going to it, so I turn that up (third row of dials from the bottom) on any input I want to go back to the computer (in my set up, only the active microphone.) Conversely, the main mix (bottom row of dials) controls what goes into my Marantz recorder. What I am monitoring with the headphones is this. I turn up my mike in this, as well as the computer output and send the whole mix to the recorder. This is my local copy.

In order to close this loop, when you start your Google Hangout or equivalent, set your audio source to be Soundflower 2ch. At this point, the full monty has been achieved. With all this done, I have fulfilled my requirements. I have a single microphone that is recording me for both the local recording and is also going back to the people in the Hangout. I am recording my own audio locally for the whole session. If I play computer audio, it routes it back to the other participants in the Hangout but also plays into my local copy. The other participants in the Hangout are recorded in my local copy. Life is sweet!

It seems pretty complicated but for my use case, this is as simple as it can get. With a physical line-in jack the PowerWave can disappear. If I were recording the microphone on a USB headset, it would be a lot simpler. In that case, I would set that as my Input 1 in Ladiocast and send it to both Main and Aux 1, and could send the line-out directly to a recorder and not even need the physical mixer.

This is a starting point, most people will need to fiddle a bit to get things working. The key parts are getting the Soundflower inputs and outputs set up correctly or you hear nothing anywhere, and using Ladiocast. For a program this remarkably useful, it is shocking I had never heard of it before. Let me know how this works for you. Leave a comment if it worked or it didn’t, and we’ll see what can be done.

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Rock and Roll Geek Scoring System

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By and large, I really like Michael Butler’s Rock and Roll Geek album scoring system. He gives each song a 0, 1/2 or 1 and then adds it up and it almost always comes up with something sensible. However…

I am listening to this episode where he is scoring both the new Scorpions album “Return to Forever” and Black Star Riders album “Killer Instinct”. I haven’t gotten to the end yet but in the middle he has the Scorpions ahead by 1/2 point. To my ears, they are nowhere close. The Black Star Riders is a way better album. I cannot see ever actually listening to this Scorpions for anything other than ironic cheeziness. It’s too bad to be enjoyable and not bad enough to be fun. Butler is giving it good scores on a song by song basis but it is mostly sucking the life out of me. Conversely, when he switches over to a Black Star Riders song I pick back up and reengage. I would put this album on for enjoyment.

It’s worth a listen to see what you think but I wouldn’t score them anywhere close.

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