Podcasting Workshop – August 13th

a4 podcast workshop

When: Sat 13th Aug,  10-5pm (with 1 hour for lunch)
Where: A4 Sounds, St Joseph’s Parade, Off Upper Dorset St, Dublin 1
Cost: 60 Euro
Book here

I’m running a one day podcast workshop this August in A4 Sounds. This two part workshop will cover everything you need to create, upload and promote your own podcast. We’ll provide an overview of the history of podcasts, and the current state of the podcast market. You will learn about different podcast hosting and distribution options, how to track downloads and what it takes to get a podcast into iTunes ‘New & Noteworthy’ category.

This workshop is suitable for anyone wishing to create a podcast or improve how their podcasts are created or distributed, and requires no special technical expertise.  Whether you already have a podcast you’d like to improve, or are just a keen fan with an idea, this is the workshop for you.

What will the workshop cover

Part one of the day will be an overview of podcasting, covering different ways podcasts are made and distributed, and moving onto all the major monetisation routes – from advertising to Patreon, paid downloads, app purchases and more.

We’ll look at various hosting options and podcast creation pipelines, from self hosting with WordPress or Libsyn, to all in one services like Zencast, Soundcloud, ACast and audioBoom.

Part two will cover the process of creating a podcast, using free and low cost tools. Participants will work together to record, edit and distribute a podcast. They will learn through hands on practice, how to submit to the most popular podcast directories and apps.

The facilitator will be available after the workshop to answer further questions and technical issues that might pop up with your first attempts at making a show.

Materials Required:

Participants to bring along:

  • Previously recorded programmes they wish to podcast
    OR ideas for a show they’d like to create
  • Laptops to follow along with the practical portion of the class

A4 will supply all other necessary equipment & materials.
Continue reading “Podcasting Workshop – August 13th”

Podcasts You’re Missing

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So podcasts, they’re pretty cool right? With eh, the kids, on their shmart phones or some such? They’re yolks ya listen to, like netflix for the blind I right?

Yes it seems that finally, for reasons no one really understands, probably because phones just about now got cheap enough, and data plans just about now got broadbandish enough, podcasts are kewl. As a withered old sock puppet o’podcasting, I thought I’d take the time to throw up a few recommendations. I’ve been listening to (and spewing out) podcasts since the early naughties. Like a psychic who’s hit the weights, the medium has never been in finer fettle. There are a multitude of delectable ear candies available that far too few folks are noshing on. Presumably because when the RTE Guide or whatever make their ‘best of’ lists, they instruct Joffrey the thirty five year old intern to tell them ‘what the kids are up to’ and poor old Joff faxes them the itunes top ten. Forget what’s popular, what’s actually good? Whatz the illest deep cuts oh podcastin’ yo. Sorry, I’ve Straight out of Inglewood playing in another tab.

Latest & Greatest

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I’d never heard of crusty journo-hippy Scott Carrier [RSS] [iTunes], before his recent podcast. But the mans a legend. He’s been a globe trotting wrong writer for decades, and the medium affords him the chance to drip feed us beautifully sautéed slices of grass roots journalism carved from his honey roasted eleven hundred year old ass.

Another aging sweet heart Adam Buxton, [RSS] has just launched a new show, where he interviews fellow lovies, mostly outside. There’s not much there yet, but Buxton has a talent for finding creative ways to use a ‘new’ medium, so watch this space.

Speak cantonese? No? Doesn’t matter. You’ll love Young Love Play [RSS]. This Hong Kong based podcast is produced with such panache and presented with such a musically comedic touch, the language barrier only makes it easier to appreciate the production.

All Time Classics

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The Tobolowsky Files [iTunes] [RSS] just keeps getting better. ‘Veteran character actor’ (read old coot who plays mostly bit parts), Stephen ‘Tobo’ Tobolowsky, has worked with just about everyone in Hollywood. In between staring in almost 240 movies (which sounds like a lot until you heart that Oliver Hardy made over 400), Tobo took to diarising his life. Mixed in with the show business anecdotes are the insights gleaned from the Torah, quantum physics, classical music and of course liiiiiiiiiiiife, that make Tobolowsky’s stories so unique. Listening to Stephen Tobolowsky is like falling asleep on a train and being woken up to the voice of the most interesting man in the world, then opening your eyes to find yourself alone, because it’s a podcast and he’s not your friend. He’s a famous.

It’s been one hell of a year for ‘Nicholas V.D. Kolk’. Since joining the Radiotopia stable, long running radio oddment Love & Radio [RSS] has quintupled its listenership. Each episode is unique, but tied together by a refusal to adopt the didactic ‘tell it – show it – explain it – learn from it’ formula tittied out by American public radio, and an unmatched ability to dig up weirdo stories from around the globe. Love & Radio remains both excitingly experimental and stunningly well produced. Seriously, the Joanna Newsom episode is some of the cleverest Jorge Luis Borges shit in podcasting.

Robert Ashley [RSS] is one of those perpetually stoned people who thanks to some freak mutation, don’t actually need drugs to stay in a groovy stupor. Having graduated from two of the greatest and much lamented videogame podcasts of all time [1][2], Ashley moved on to laconically spoon out a show ‘about videogames and the people who love them’. That no sells ‘A Life Well Wasted’s impeccable research, production values and above all music, like superman shower wrestling Andy Dufresne. Ashley creates a wholly original soundtrack for each episode – composed of dreamy acid folk blip pop, and coaxes interviews into meandering sound springs that drip feed a forest of… Fuck that sentence, right in the tutter.

If you’re not listening to 99% invisible [RSS] you’re wasting your ossicles. What started as dry shite show about design, quickly became one of the the most gloriously inventive explorations of history, science, art and culture online.

Epic Listens

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The Partially Examined Life is a dense, erudite, an often irredeemably smug discussion of some of the thorniest issues in philosophy. I don’t actually listen to it, but I wanted to look clever by including it on this list.

Hardcore History [iTunes] is the 800lb gorilla of history podcasts. Irregularly released and sardonically narrated by libertarian curmudgeon Dan Carlin, HH (wait whuuuuut) is a love it or hate it tautology in earworm form. For my money, podcasts don’t get much more entertaining than these multi-hour forays into World War 1, The Mongol Hordes, or quirky historic oddities like the Anabaptist rebellion.

The Secret History of Hollywood [iTunes] is my new jam, and boy is it sticky. The show’s so long it makes hardcore history look bite sized (one episodes clocks in at over seven hours). What makes TSHOH so unique is it’s thrilling storytelling. Whether he’s recounting the childhood horrors that made Alfred Hitchcock such a bewitching filmmaker and such a paradoxically wonderful and terrible person; or walking you though the clammy basement of Universal Studios’ genre defining early 20th Century Horrors, host Adam Roche brings unparalleled erudition and charm to his topic. The research, suspenseful storytelling and expert narration are unparallellogrammed. Listen to this, it’s brill.

Interview Shows

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Have you heard the one about the comedian who alienates everyone he’s ever known, blows through a couple of marriages, retreats to his garage and makes the worlds most popular podcast? WTF? [RSS] Yeah, OK, it’s over exposed (he just interviewed Obama AND Keith Richards), and the show lacks the teeth it once did, but Maron is still good for a well researched deep dive into the life and career of a ludicrously wide variety of entertainers.

Pete Holmes [RSS] [itunes] is smug, laughs at his own jokes and wishes he was Marc Maron, but his self effacing zen narcissist routine hits it out of the park when it comes to getting guests to open up. If you miss the kind of interviews Maron used to do – where unhealthy personal revelations from the host would prompt the same in his guests, look no further.

Sex man Dr. Christopher Ryan [RSS] isn’t a real doctor, or even a real academic (they don’t usually put PHD in their URLS). What he is is an outspoken freethinker with a young Dick Cavett like rolodex of writers, scientists and countercultural oddballs. If you wondered where all the champagne socialist American intellectuals who use Europe as an improper verb went, it was to this guys nekkid cocktail parties.

I was there too [RSS] has a simple premise: Bit part players spill the behind the scenes beans. The interviews tend toward the sycophantic, but there’s a fascinating voyeuristic aspect to the bitchy revelations.

Me too shows

It would be wildly modest and pathologically secure of me not to mention my own podcasts. There are over a dozen of them, all pictured on the right, overly varied and infrequently updated. But if I were to recommend just a couple, they’d be Reading Plays [RSS], a dense but irreverent book club for the theatre and The Gareth Stack Show Live, Featuring Gareth Stack [RSS], on which it’s been my infrequent pleasure to chat up the most infuriatingly creative and successful shits of my acquaintance. There’s nothing quite so painful after all, as the success of ones friends.

On Podcasting & Irishness

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I was a guest on the Irish Times Off Topic podcast yesterday. We chatted about what separates podcasting from broadcast radio, and the future of podcasting as an industry. It was one of those classic situations which emerge in interviews, whether for a job or in the media, where what you’ve prepared doesn’t quite match up to what you’re expected to talk about. Alas, although I’ve been making podcasts for almost a decade, as I don’t actually listen to any Irish shows I was a particularly poor spokesperson for the medium here. There are many many great short Irish radio series available in podcast or streaming format – the latest being Alan Meaney’s ‘Sound Conversations‘ series. There are also some high quality Irish broadcast radio programmes that make themselves available as podcasts. For example Culture File, the RTE Lyric FM show I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to over the last few months. However when it comes to really great, podcast native, Irish shows, I’m in the dark. If you know of any great ones, please mention them in the comments and I’ll do what I can to promote them in future.

Let me race to point out, this isn’t a failure of Irish podcasting – I’m sure great shows are out there. It’s in part to do with the nature of the medium, which although bound to language is fundamentally international. My own tastes are diverse and eccentric enough that the shows I enjoy tend to be geographically and topically electric. It’s also a natural outcome of my own conflicted relationship to Irishness. I’m from here clearly, but it’s an identity that emerges for me only emerges in contrasts – in moments of unbritishness or unamericaness – rather than as a sense of national pride or felt identity. I don’t watch Irish television, enjoy Irish (or indeed any) sports, speak the Irish language or feel a connection to the myths and legends celebrated by the celtic revival. I don’t read Irish newspapers or (despite working in the industry) listen to broadcast radio here. I’m not passing judgement on these things, or replacing them with the shibboleths of another preferred culture. It’s simply that nationalism, whether it be a felt pride of nationhood or the iconography and ritual accompanying it, have never held an interest for me. Perhaps it’s alienation, or merely a poor cultural fit. Either way, don’t take it personally Ireland, it’s not you, it’s me.

I know what you’re thinking – who does this poltroon think he is going on the radio to talk about Irish podcasting? I’d be the first to agree I’m in no position to talk about it. Alas there was a bit of a misunderstanding all round. Irish Times writer Declan Conlan had seen me speak about podcasting earlier this year at the NUJ freelance forum. That event included a matched pair of talks. I spoke about the history and future of podcasting, while Colm Coyne – whose in depth knowledge of Irish radio and media is unimpeachable – spoke about the podcast scene over here. I’m fascinated by podcasting as a medium, and as a variety of forms of spoken word art and entertainment. But given that there was another guest on Off Topic to talk about podcasting in general – Jason Phipps, head of audio with The Guardian – Colm would doubtless have been more able to answer ‘the Irish question’.

Here’s my talk from earlier this year, at the National Union of Journalist’s ‘Freelance Forum’, where I spoke about the commercial viability and future of podcasting.

Here’s Colm Coyne speaking about the Irish side of the well, coin.

The Cheap and Easy Guide to making and releasing a Podcast, 2014 edition

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Podcasts are internet radio shows. Anyone with a computer can make one and publish it to a potentially enormous audience, for less than 100 dollars / euros a year.

After a decade releasing podcasts, here’s the simplest, cheapest and most flexible way I’ve found to distribute one. It’s not free but it’s inexpensive. Podcasting can certainly be done for free, but you’ll pay in time and effort later on, especially if your show takes off.

The beauty of this method is that you can actually host multiple podcasts and an essentially unlimited audience from the same website (without any additional cost). You don’t need to worry about bandwidth or additional fees. This is my current workflow, and once it’s all set up, it only takes about five minutes to put out a new podcast episode.

Note: The following guide assumes you’re using a Mac. It’s just as easy on Windows / Linux, but the software for recording, tagging etc is different. If you’re using windows, just use the substitute software MP3 Tag for Tagr, and CDEX for MAX.

The Guide

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1) Record and edit your first episode

You can do this directly through your laptop in Garageband (free), or on Reaper (reasonable), or Adobe Audition / Logic (expensive). Or you can use an external recorder, or even in a pinch a smartphone. For more details about a decent recording setup see here. Export your final show as a WAV.

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2) Convert your episode to MP3

I’d suggest using the free OSX conversion programme MAX. It’ll make smaller higher quality MP3’s than say Audition, Garageband or Reaper. In MAX, go to preferences -> formats -> MP3/ and set encoder quality to portable.
Now click on File -> Convert files and find your episode. Encode your WAV file to MP3.

3) Create a graphic for the podcast.

There are any number of ways to design a logo. Probably the simplest is to use a logo design app like Logo Design Studio Lite (3 dollars on the OSX app store). You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel JPG graphic to use for itunes etc. You can upscale one from a smaller resolution, provided it’s the right aspect ratio (i.e.: provided it’s square). You can do this with Preview in OSX. Save a smaller version for your website and episode art (say 500 * 500 pixels).

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4) Tag your MP3

I’d suggest using the OSX tagging programme TAGR. It’s 10 euro from the iTunes app store. You can drag your episode art into the box on the bottom left of TAGR (marked ‘artwork’, see image above). This will be the art that appears on smartphones and MP3 players when listeners play the programme. Enter the name of the episode and programme and all other relevant details. Save the file.

5) Set up an account at wordpress.com

Lots of people will suggest buying your own webspace and installing wordpress from wordpress.org, or some other blog software. You can do this, but I’d recommend against it unless you’re a professional web developer. WordPress.org is easy to install, but difficult to keep secure from hackers, and time consuming to maintain. WordPress.com is cheaper and more than good enough for podcast hosting.

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6) Purchase a domain name & space upgrade

Go to the wordpress store – your link will be something like https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/wp-admin/paid-upgrades.php

It’s 15 euro for registration and mapping.

It’s 40 euro for a 25 gig upgrade, enough for well over three hundred, two hour long podcasts.

7) Make your first WordPress post

Make your first post with an audio file attached. To do this, upload the audio file in wordpress’s media uploader, and then paste it into the body of the post.

Don’t forget to name your post. E.g.: ‘Great Podcast – Episode 1 – The Beginning’. Now create a tag in WordPress for your podcast, which you can add in the Tags box, on the bottom right. This tag can be anything, usually the name of your programme: But make sure it’s all one word.

Now when you go to https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG – you’ll see all the episodes of the podcast.

Copy the link to the tag RSS feed, which should be – https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG/feed

9) Make a Feedburner Feed

Go to Feedburner.com and ‘burn’ a new feed, using the RSS feed you copied from your wordpress tag above. Give the new feed the name of your podcast and go through all the set up on the feedburner site. The resulting feedburner feed is the feed you’ll submit to itunes etc.

14) Create a graphic for your podcast

You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel graphic to use for iTunes, which you again upload directly to WordPress, and link via your feedburner settings. If you don’t have one big enough, just expand an existing image, no ones looking at it in that definition on itunes away. Check the feed is working by viewing it on feedburner.

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15) Submit your podcast feed to iTunes

You can do this here. You’ll need iTunes installed for this to work, and you’ll need at least one episode already in the feed to have it approved. Approval usually takes a couple of days to a week. Make sure not to include profanity in the podcast name or description as this will get your feed rejected. If your show is explicit, tag it as explicit at this stage (and in Feedburner).

16) Making Additional Episodes

Be sure to include the relevant tag every time you make a new post. Each new post, correctly tagged and with an audio file attached, will become a podcast episode. The name of the post will be the name of the episode in iTunes and in the podcast RSS feed on Feedburner.

17) Publicise

Submit your Feedburner RSS feed to Stitcher and any other third party podcast lists you’d like. Stick your show up on Facebook etc.

Building a studio for podcasts & radio drama

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I’ve been very gradually building up a home studio setup over the past four years, as Dead Medium Productions came together. Although my setup is very modest and modular, it’s capable of recording ‘broadcast quality’ radio either indoors out out, capturing four performers simultaneously, and editing the whole shebang in multichannel stereo.

I thought it might be interesting to go through the tech I use, as a guide for radio producers starting out. There’s lot of great advice out there about mics and speakers and so on, but it tends to focus on equipment which is way out of the price range of folks working on podcasts or public radio productions. For example This American Life have some great mic recommendations, but these tend to be very expensive, or not generally available in Europe.

To my mind, if you’re buying a 600 euro / 800 dollar microphone, you probably already work for This American Life. Mere mortals are more likely to be looking for better bargains. You really don’t have to spend crazy money to get good equipment. To start with, all you need to record audio is a WAV recorder. If you need to get a bit more professional, you can add in a computer, microphone, and an audio interface (to get the microphone to talk to the computer).

WAV RECORDER

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This is the most basic item of kit anyone capturing sound needs to have. Wav recorders cost anything from less than 100 euro, to thousands, and come in a bewildering variety of sizes and capacities. I use the Zoom H4N, a mid range device which is capable of great results, both with its two onboard condenser mics and external mics plugged directly into the bottom of the device.

The preamps on the zoom are weak, and button placement is pretty awful for run and gun recording. So the next step up if you can afford it, is the H4N’s big brother, the Zoom H6. The H6 boots up much quicker (which can be important say in an interview situation), and allows up to four external mics to be plugged in. It also supports a variety of different mic attachments. This is a huge advantage, as not only can you use different mics for different situations, but if the mic breaks you haven’t lost your whole investment. I’ve always been nervous about the exposed mics at the top of the H4N; and I’d definitely consider upgrading in future. The H6 is also built more sturdily, and has more intuitive controls. Preamps still suck though. In the same sort of price range Marantz offer larger, bulkier, sturdier devices, at a slightly higher price.

For interviews, I’ve often used the H4N handheld (with the included handle). It’s not ideal – the sensitive mics cause a lot of ‘handling noise’, it’ll pick up background sounds (say in a coffee shop) much too well too – but it’s extremely light and portable, and has been my workhorse for most of the current documentary series.

I’ve left the best part till last. You can use the Zoom H4N (or H6) as an audio interface for multi-track recording, with or without a PC. This means you can run two mics into the device (and even record a third person, using the two small condenser mics attached), and capture multitrack audio right onto the Zoom. So you can have your H4N set up on a table, without the need for a (potentially noisy) computer, and get amazing sound from two people from external mics, or great sound for one person from the internal mics.

CONDENSER MIC

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For voiceover, radio drama, podcasting and so on, a condenser mic is highly recommended. More sensitive to sound than a dynamic mic, they tend to require a quieter room, and tend to cost more too. However, a single good condenser can last you years, and serve multiple functions (from recording a singers vocals, to narration, to presenting).

Many folks starting out (especially podcasters) are tempted by USB microphones, since they’re cheap, sound fine and don’t require an audio interface to connect to your computer. Don’t do it. USB mics are a dead end. You’re unlikely to be able to get more than one to work with your computer at a time, which means you’ll have to spend twice as much if you want to add a mic to your setup in the future. Start right, with a nice low end XLR condenser mic, a cheap 2 or 4 port USB interface (or mixing desk if you can’t afford the interface yet – they’re often available dirt cheap second hand), and some free recording software. You can build up from there – adding mics, WAV recorders, etc as needed.

I’ve had my Rode NT1-A since 2008, and I’ve recorded some part of every scripted radio series I’ve made on it. It’s a beautiful, particularly sensitive piece of kit, and available with a ‘shock mount’ and ‘pop shield’ (to prevent plosive ‘puh’ sounds from ‘popping’ during recording) for around 150 euro / 200 dollars.

If you’re looking for something cheaper – say you need two or three mics to record a podcast. I’d recommend the Audio Technica AT2020. These mics don’t have the amazing sound response of the Rode. They also don’t pic up an ants sneeze like the Rode will, and are much better if you need to simultaneously mic several folks.

MIC STANDS

To keep it simple, I’d recommend a couple of desk tripod stands for recording spoken podcasts etc. Or a full sized ‘boom stands‘ for recording radio drama.

AUDIO INTERFACE

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Lets say you want to record two or four people chatting. Ideally you’ll want to record each voice separately, in case you need to adjust levels later. You can run all those tracks into a mixer (like a DJ might use for a live gig) but they come out mixed, feeding only one track into the computer. Instead you need an audio interface. I recently picked up the ‘AKAI EIE PRO‘. It’s a cheap, light four port device which outputs through USB. The AKAI is pretty much hassle free to set up and has a very clean sound – no detectable noise whatsoever. You can carry it in a backpack, for a good portable setup. It is a little quiet though, so you might want to pre-amp the microphones you’re feeding into it. In retrospect, I could have picked up a Zoom H6 for only 100 more, which would have served many more functions. Doh.

RECORDING / EDITING SOFTWARE

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If you have a Mac, Garage Band is free, reliable and easy to use for multitrack recording and editing alike. Just because I’m used to it, and because it’s so quick and flexible for ‘cutting’ audio, I prefer Adobe Audition. Like Garageband, audition supports multitrack recording. Audition’s great advantage is that it’s insanely fast. You can open a dozen audio tracks, each an hour long in audition in a couple of seconds, and play and edit them without lag – something other program struggle with. With a little practice, you can zoom in and out of the recording and cut it extremely quickly. Audition does take time to master however, I’ve been using it for three years and I would say I’m intermediate with the program.

Many editors / producers prefer AVID’s Protools, which is a nice program and certainly fully featured, but has one massive disadvantage. Protools not only requires you to plug a dongle in (using up a precious USB slot) when in use, but also requires your computer to be plugged into an audio interface (containing a DSP, or digital signal processer), usually the one the software came with. You can forget recording or editing your audio in a library or coffee shop, with pro-tools you’re chained to your studio. To me this seems ludicrous, but if it doesn’t hamper you too much protools is definitely an industry standard, and worth learning. It’s cheaper little brother Pro Tools LE, comes bundled with many audio interfaces (including the AKAI EIE).

COMPUTER

I record and edit radio drama on a 2013 Macbook Air i7, with 8 gigs RAM. This is probably overkill, but the speed definitely lets me work faster. Really any computer with a usb slot or even a line in will let you record audio. Any modern laptop or desktop (although probably not a netbook), whether Windows or OSX, should be fast enough to record and edit audio. I certainly do recommend the air for it’s speed, although the battery life is much better on the i5 models.

OUTDOORS MIC

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There are as many mic recommendations as there are situations in which to use them. For indoor recording, condensers like the ones recommended above are great. For a noisy environment, you might want to use a more traditional dynamic stage microphone like the Sure SM58. If you’re going to be wandering around outside however, or capturing sound in a variety of locations, some noisy, some quiet, you’re best off with a shotgun mic. I’ve just picked up a very low end model, the Rode NTG1.

Already I can tell it’s loud, muted and ideal for a outdoor recording. While the sound is very ‘flat’ compared to a condenser mic, it’s much easier to control the volume and direction. This will be my go to mic for interviews. You will need some sort of additional grip to use this thing off a stand (as it only comes with a mic stand adaptor).

For recording on location drama in stereo, I’d recommend Rode’s stereo condenser, the Rode NT4. Rode sell a kit that goes with this mic (or with the NTG1), which includes a ‘pistol grip’ and ‘blimp’. With this setup you can record outside, even in windy conditions and get better sound than you’ll hear on almost all radio program (and even movies). We used the NT4 and blimp to record all of ‘Any Other Dublin‘.

HEADPHONES

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Any cheap pair of headphones are fine for monitoring a live recording, or basic mixing. If you’re starting to produce for radio, a decent mid range pair of Sony or Seinheiser headphones will do fine. Unless you’re producing music, missing some high and low range sound will in practice not interfere with editing. If you do want to spend the money, I’d recommend Beyerdynamic’s D150’s. These headphones are balanced which means they support proper balanced audio for mixing. They have a very flat accurate response, so they’re not ideal for bass heavy music. For cutting voice though, they’re a great pair of light, comfortable, hardy headphones.

SPEAKERS

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I’m no expert on speakers, so I’ll just go ahead and recommend the kit I picked up on Chipzel’s recommendation. A pair of KRK Rokit 6’s. You’ll want surge protected power for these guys to protect them from power spikes, and ideally a DI box to, to protect them from damaging signals (especially if you’re going to play a guitar right into them).

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Technolotics #15 – How to deal with ugly kids

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[audio https://garethstack.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/15_technolotics.mp3]

Listen: Episode 15
Feed: RSS

Notes

New service offers podcasters 25c a download!

Fruitcast will soon launch, the service works by inserting adds in podcasts, and offering podcasters [1] up to 25c per download

[2]

This could add up to a hefty premium if true – but critics are divided as to whether the greater specificity and targeting of podcasts is enough to justify the higher per lister figure from advertisers
Amounts are still theoretical right now
Adds are designed to be unobtrusive and sponsorship style
It remains to be seen whether fruitcast can gather interest from advertisers in the new medium [3]

Womens attractiveness varies with hormone levels

Boingboing reports [4] a study in New Scientist [5] which reveals womens facial appearance alters on a day to day level – with hormone levels – changing the mean rated attractiveness of their faces
Researchers photographed 59 women every day for six weeks, and compared each days ratings with hormone levels recorded from urine samples
Woman with the lowest levels of hormones were also compared against those with the highest
Those faces considered most healthy and feminine were also considered most attractive
Some of these changes can be masked with make up
Higher hormone levels also likely correllate with higher oestrogen levels during puberty – making it likely that hormone supliments during puberty could increase attractiveness in later life
Image from study [6]

Flock respond to our reviewlet

[7]

Back button issue Francis encountered is a glitch
OPML export and other enhancements will be added
Resent uber early release was pushed out to meet demand
Thanks guys – We’ll give a more detailed review in a few months
Wikipedia article on OPML [8]

Google Desktop 2.0 Launched

[9]

Integrates google sidebar, google search, and google reader functionality
Moves windows to the left to accommodate
Read RSS, view slideshow of photos, chat, search, examine maps, read news, view frequently used items and take notes simultaneously
In related news, google have also resumed scanning books – defending the move in the official google blog by emphasising the access to out of copyright works [10]

Sony Rootkit Debacle

Sony have released copy protected CD’s which play fine on CD players, but not only illicitly install software which redirect windows system calls to their own subroutines
The software additionally kills windows if an attempt is made to uninstall it
Some analyists are calling the software a rootkit – a term for nefarious malware deployed to gain root access (i.e.: complete control) of a target system [11]
This software creates both a potential gateway into a users system, and kills windows if removed
Sony have responded to criticism by releasing tools to uninstall these drivers

[12]

Boing Boing article on the EFF’s decryption of information hidden in printouts [13]
And here’s the original article about the method [14] – which was developed by the secret service

Windows Live Stillborn

[15]

Microsoft launches its answer to web 2.0 services from competitors like yahoo [16], google [17], and netvibes [18]
The services launched by Bill Gates are Windows Live and Office Live
Office Live will be an adjunct to the existing office package – rather than the rich online office environment many believe google are building
Windows live
Both services will come in a variety of packages, from add supported to subscription
CNET discuss an earlier attempt by microsoft to build an online .Net office package – which was ultimately scuppered by competition from the exisiting office team [19]
Early review describe the services as underfeatured but potentially interesting [20]
For years microsoft have been gradually attempting to move toward a web services model – this may be their first major step to turning that change into actual revenue
Predictably, as with Windows 95 before it, the demo crashed
You can try out Windows Live here [21] – Look familiar?
Firefox support is patchy – but MS are to be commended for including OPML export from the outset
Why are they reducing functionality from Start.com [22] ? Microsofts initial offering in this area. Most likely different teams produced different solutions.
Blake Ross [23] is the Firefox / Mozilla developer we obliquely refer to
According to Google Answers, Walmart have 28% of the US Game Market (in 2002) [24]

The coming console wars

Ars Technica puts together everything that’s know about the next generation consoles [25]
They compare processors, network, graphics, memory, and storage hardware etc
Try to guestimate the strategy of the big three from their published hardware information
In the case of the revolution – they work backward, speculating about the graphics and processor hardware from the announced intentions of Nintendo
Surprises

      the large amount of RAM in the Revolution, and potentially large L2 processor memory cache – could be great for building highly interactive environments, smart a.i, deep / emergent gameplay,
      Revolution processor most likely to be the Cell, or Xenon processor
    If Xenon, could be as high as 2ghz – although raw gigahertz matter less in the next generation – a simple, single or dual core, 2 or four thread, meaty processor, would be easier to program and yeild shorter development times and a lower learning curve

Media Pimp

Half Cocked: Chip [26], found via A couple of Donkeys [27]
Barry: Ladder Theory [28]