Audacity Lesson

Thanks to a quick writeback from Jay, I found out that today’s audioblog entry was boned. For reference, although you can mute individual tracks in Audacity when you have a multitrack project, when you export it to MP3 apparently those play anyway. Yikes! I had a chunk that I decided not to use but wanted to keep anyway, so I just left that track in and muted it. Until I got Jay’s writeback I hadn’t realized that track was exported anyway. Live and learn. If you got the MP3 in the first 30 minutes or so after I published it, it was screwed. If you like the screwed up one, hey, cool. Otherwise, the new one will be up shortly. Sorry!

Audioblog for Sept 7, 2004

Here is the audioblog for September 7, 2004. Today is an atypically silly entry, as I’m in an odd mood. I talk about how the best panel I was ever on at an SF convention seemed like it would be the worst, Achewood and Bootsy Collins, Toots and the Maytals, and how the disappearance of the Dictaphone brand ruins my favorite joke.

Links mentioned in this episode:
Achewood – in particular this strip and this one

Audioblog for Sept 6, 2004

Here is the audioblog for September 6, 2004. Today I discuss Kiss Me Judas by Will Christopher Baer, some constructive criticism on ways to sound more natural when reading a big chunk of copy into a microphone, my techniques to improve my interview style, the notorious “Technorati bomb” I orchestrated earlier in the year, and how the poor quality of Windows Media Player made me drop the Creative Commons licensing experiment.

Links mentioned in this episode:
The Importance of Law and IT – a program on IT Conversations
CCTag – a program I sadly won’t be using anymore
Kiss Me Judas – a novel by Will Christopher Baer
The Contortionist’s Handbook – a novel by Craig Clevenger
The “Technorati bomb”

Update: Doug Kaye emailed me with some of the technical rationale of Ernest Miller’s copy reading (which I talk about in the audioblog), namely that what you hear in the show is something that had to be redone for technical reasons and the second time around was less peppy than the first. That’s natural enough, it’s hard to muster the same enthusiasm every time (and why voiceover artists get paid the big bucks.) The editing on it is slick enough that I’d have never known if Doug hadn’t told me. That’s the magic of digital editing. Now when I make a flub in the audioblog that is egregious enough to need to come out, I just stop to leave a few seconds of silence (so I can find that spot easily later), and then repeat what I was trying to say. I’ve found that I can take out the flub and the silence and the edit is imperceptible. 5 minutes after I edit it, I can’t even remember where it was.

That brings up some more advice to those of you doing interviews for audio use. If you have technical problems that lose part of your interview, do not just reask the same questions that you lost. Take my word here, what you will get is an unenergetic rendition of what was said the first time, but with much more sighing and audible (visual, if you are in the same room) discomfort. The first interview that really made me step up my skills was with the fantastic Alan Lightman, MIT professor and author of Einstein’s Dreams. For the first 10 minutes or so of my talk with him, the tape was rolling but a bad mike cable connection meant that nothing was being recorded. The beginning was the easy stuff (from my list of questions, natch) and on the spot I had to come up with different things to ask him based on what he had been saying in the first, lost part. Mostly, I asked him variants on the originals that dug deeper and/or approached the material from a different direction. After it was over, he and I both agreed that the replacement interview was better than what was lost. He was also sympathetic, as he once drove out to someone’s house and talked to them for hours in book research and came back to find blank tapes for all of it.

Problem Resolved

For those of you who were having problems listening to the audioblog files of the last few days with Windows Media Player, it should be fixed now. As best I can figure, this application is the only one that has problems with the Creative Commons tagged files. Altogether now, “Thank you, Microsoft!” 10,000 programmers and they can’t put out an application that deals with standard formats as well as apps written by two kids in their mom’s basement.

As much as I hate to have the tail wag the dog, I don’t care as much about the CC experiment as making the audioblog usable by everyone that wants to hear it. As of now, the experiment is suspended. I won’t be tagging any more files with the license, and I republished the last three without it. Sigh. I apologize to those of you who use tools that will now download the last three files because they have changed on the server. Blame Microsoft.

Thanks to Doug Kaye, Josh Jacob and Jay for helping me out with a little field QC on a holiday weekend. I appreciate it greatly, compadres.

Testing 1, 2, 3

I’m getting reports from folks using Windows Media Player 9 that they haven’t been able to open my last three audioblogs. Oddly coincidental, that’s when I started embedding the Creative Commons license. As an experiment, if you are one of those affected folks, please give this version of the September 4th audioblog a try. It is identical to the other, except for the CC license. If that works for y’all, then I’ll republish the last 3 MP3s without the license, spout some strong obscenities about the absolute crap products Microsoft puts out, and go forward without these licenses. Sigh.

Audioblog for September 4, 2004

Here is the audioblog for September 4, 2004. Today I discuss more about MP3 metadata and name names of some prime offenders who don’t fill it out, reiterate my appeal for a little help with AppleScript, talk about how the iPod platform machinery could be used professionally to augment or replace satellite program distribution and give a little shout out to the Netherlands.

Links mentioned in this episode:
Christopher Lydon’s Interviews – brilliant but tagless
ccTag – a GUI Creative Commons MP3 license affixor gizzwhickey
AppleScript – I hate this language

Audioblog for September 3, 2004

Here is the audioblog for September 3, 2004. In it I talk about the iPod platform as it relates to CDs, capturing streams with RadioLover, a spin through my radio show list, and a possible professional radio use for the iPod platform.

Links mentioned in this episode:
RadioLover – stream capturing for OS X
PublicRadioFan – a database of public radio shows by station and air times

Audioblog for September 2, 2004

Here is the audioblog for September 2, 2004. In it I reintroduce myself to the many people who have only recently started listening to this audioblog, tell an anecdote about how the late great Thomas Fuller cajoled me into national syndication for my radio show, and include an excerpt from the exquisite madness that is KRVS’ show “Zydeco est Pas Sale.”

Links to things mentioned in this episode:
Atlanta Radio Theater Company
KRVS – Radio Acadie
Reality Break, my old radio show

Audioblog for September 1, 2004

Here is the audioblog for September 1, 2004. In it I discuss Maciej’s “Audioblog Manifesto” and how before we had this “iPod Platform” terminology I was suggesting that Air America radio programs use it.

Links from today’s entry:
Air America Radio Network
Air America Place – the more technically savvy fan site
My original post suggesting that Air America make their shows downloadable

Audioblog for August 31, 2004

Here is the audioblog for August 31, 2004. I discuss Paul Graham’s talk for IT Conversations with a brief digression into my checkered past with Lisp (and why programming language snobs are really tedious), the term “bundles of passion”, still more on enclosures and the imminent return of Reality Break to the radio airwaves.

Links mentioned this episode:
Paul Graham’s talk on IT Conversations
Reality Break – my old radio show
Hurricane Frances

Audioblog for August 30, 2004

Here is the audioblog for August 30, 2004. I discuss different ways of assembling audioblogs, of how the myth of effortless brilliance impedes success, of the short stories of Theodore Sturgeon and the oddness of XM Radio cracking down on Time Trax.

Links mentioned in this episode:
Hugh MacLeod’s Gaping Void
XM Radio Leans on Time Trax
Lucas Gonze on Enclosures
The first volume of the Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon – The Ultimate Egoist

Audioblog for August 29, 2004

I’m caught back up, so here is the audioblog for August 29, 2004. There are two posted today, but really the first was yesterday’s. I discuss swearing on the audioblog and how I can recite George Carlin’s “7 dirty words” with as much or better ease as the Pledge of Allegiance (complete with demonstration), discuss an email exchange with IT Conversations producer Doug Kaye, and tell an anecdote from the Reality Break days about how getting underwriting caused me a minor ethical crisis.

Links mentioned in this episode:
IT Conversations

Audioblog for August 28, 2004

Here is the audioblog for August 28, 2004. Once again, I recorded this yesterday but didn’t get it assembled until today. I discuss my terminology for “bundles of passion” (and why I completely hate the term “content” in this arena), the IT conversations panel “Living the Broadband Life”, my enclosures plugin, blosxom, and the radio show Sound and Spirit. If you listen, this photo will make perfect sense.

Links mentioned in this episode:
Supernova 2004 Panel – Broadband Life
Sound and Spirit – great radio show (Ellen Kushner is my radio saint)
Blosxom – the weblogging tool that runs this site
Buy Paul Melancon’s album!

Audioblog for August 27, 2004

Here is the newest entry in the annals of the audioblog. In this episode, I discuss the reactions to my big “iPod platform” entry of previous days, discuss how the audioblog is becoming the first draft for the big “manifestos” on here, and I play a Paul Melancon song. All that, in about 15 minutes, as I actually make an effort to keep these things from sprawling out to half an hour.

Links mentioned in this installment:
Paul Melancon or his new band The Arts and Sciences
Audacity – open source audio editing package (new release is out!)

Audioblog for August 25, 2004

The new audioblog entry is online. In this one, I talk solely about RSS, the “iPod platform” and monetizing the whole thing with the oldest damn idea in broadcasting but with better technology and data. Ignore the part at the beginning where I say that it will be short. I thought it would be when I started, but it wasn’t. No personal stuff in this one, just my shot at trying to define some terms and lay out some ideas.

Audioblog for August 23, 2004

The latest episode of the audioblog is now available. As my pal Jonny X requested, I am not using the Sharp Zaurus and its hissy audio for this entry (and the MP3 link will open a new window). I discuss the notion of the “iPod Platform” and how I hope that leads into a world of delicious irony where the RIAA efforts to kill internet radio turn around and bite them in the ass. I discuss a little more about bands I like, and how I have informed Gentle Readers that I use them for a theme song that that “I’m asking for your permission, or at least your forgiveness.” I also discuss how I might one day finally discuss on the blog why I don’t believe in God, and how the audioblog entries make it more likely that I will finally go through with that.

Some links mentioned in this episode:
RadioLover – MP3 stream capturing for Mac OS X
WREK 91.1 FM – Ga Tech Student Radio
KRVS 88.7 FM – Radio for the University of Lousiana at Lafayette (geaux Cajuns!)

Audioblog for August 22, 2004

Here’s the next installment of the audioblog. It was actually recorded late late Saturday night but not put together until Sunday afternoon. It includes a theme and even some production (!). Topics covered include the question of “Why audioblog at all?”, RSS infrastructure for enclosures, Cheap Trick, the Gentle Readers, and a special audio-only tidbit of information. I’m still looking for feedback on this whole experiment. In particular, what do you think about the theme and then using that music as a bed for the first few minutes?

Related links:
Cheap Trick – Elo Kiddies, southern girls got nothing to lose
The Gentle Readers – Indiana rock by way of Decatur GA
Audacity – free and good audio editing

The Fun Never Stops

A little quick experiment showed me that it was no problem for me to record a little bit of myself with Voice Recorder on my Zaurus, export that .wav file to the iBook and then import it into Audacity. Cool cool cool! That means that I have the potential to do mobile audioblogging. If I run into some celebrity on the street, I can do a quick interview with them or whatever. This would have been great back in the radio show days, particularly at the SF conventions I was covering as a journalist/radio personality.

I might even do some routine posts just out and about, getting a little local color in the audio. I am mindful that here, in this little southern coastal town, I am different than most of the people here. I look different, act different, talk different, have a different sort of career. Thus, I might want to be a little careful about becoming “the crazy guy who wanders the streets talking to himself.” Maybe if I am out and about recording stuff into the Zaurus, I should hold up my cell phone as a decoy.

The worst thing about recording the audio with both the iBook and Zaurus is that both have internal mics and neither has a line in or mic jack. I’m a radio guy, I miss having the mike staring me in the face. It was really weird recording today’s audio entry, just sort of talking towards the upper right hand of my iBook’s screen. I should research if there is some USB audio input gizwhickey for Macs. A little USB microphone would be nice, or even some gadget that connects to USB or Firewire and accepts mic-level or line in level inputs with mini-stereo plugs. Then we’d really be cooking with gas.

You can tell, if I am this interested in the toolset, that I’ll be continuing with the audio stuff. That’s always how you can tell when someone is passionate about a hobby or a total duffer. When the tools and the mundane, boring parts of a pastime still excite you, are are totally hooked.


I’m following in footsteps, and have decided to try my hand at audioblogging. I present now my initial attempt at an audio post. I’m not doing this via Audioblog or anything like that, just recording on my iBook and posting it old school. I might try to take a few moments this weekend and put together a Blosxom plugin for doing RSS enclosure feeds of just the audio posts, or figure out how to add that to the regular one or something. The infrastructure might not be solid for a few days, but download and listen and leave a comment letting me know what you think. It’s kind of fun and kind of scary, like all audio and radio work I have ever done has been. It’s cool to hear yourself on the radio, but I can never shake the feeling that I sound far too stupid and goofy to be doing this. Audioblogging makes me feel exactly the same way.

A few links for things mentioned in the audio post:
Audacity, Open Source Audio editing tool
Adam Curry – broadcasting Adonis
KRVS, Radio Acadie in Lafayette LA