Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

Writing Challenges & Uncomfortable Questions

Friday, June 19th, 2009

A friend at the local St Louis Podcaster’s Meetup group suggested I listen to a nice little podcast called “Writing Challenges“. I had no idea going into it that the podcast comes from a Brit – a delightful surprise – always nice to get a dose of the accent. (especially today, the day when I go to swear-in at the court house to become an American citizen!)

Another suggested podcast was “Uncomfortable Questions” – fascinating interview format which gives an insight into a whole variety of people’s believes / philosophy. My only complaints are (a) she pod-faded back in 2008, (b) the host has probably the third worst/most annoying voice I’ve ever listened to (coming in behind Captain Janeway of Star Trek Voyager at #1 and radio ads for Ray Vinsen’s mortgage company at #2). Sadly the sample set for the podcast gives the content a somewhat skewed and unbalanced leaning toward a particular world-view, as the host acknowledges at one point. Still, a fascinating insight into a particular segment of society and what they believe!


Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Every year during the National Novel Writing Month they publish a weekly podcast called “WrimoRadio“. I have been consistently impressed with the quality and have thought to send in a small editorial piece to them but was too busy with other things (like writing a 50,000 word novel in a month). I am very tempted to send in the “plot bunnies” piece this year though.

I was on Facebook and noticed Chris Baty (founder of the National Novel Writing Month) changed his status to “Chris Baty needs a WrimoRadio producer so he doesn’t die in November.”

Podcast production is something I enjoy, I have the hardware investment and the previous experience. Should I ping him and offer? With everything else I am doing that would be one more reason I might not make 50,000 words. On the other hand I could put it on my resume – “podcast production for the National Novel Writing Month” – so it has its benefits too. Maybe I am oversimplifying what it would take … it wouldn’t be the first (or the last) time I’d done that!

Those dreaded chipmunks!

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Since moving over to WordPress for my main blog I’ve had the opportunity to look around and install (and in fact to write) a number of plugin modules for the site. There are hundreds of these installable utilities out there and for the most part they go in an silently just work the way they were intended to. Occasionally something really strange will happen.

I was looking for a nice simple way to allow visitors to listen to episodes of my podcast novel “The Matrix :: Repercussions” directly on the webpage without having to download the track to their computer first. I was saved (so to speak) by a neat little audio player WordPress plugin published by 1 pixel out. Written in Macromedia flash, this plugin did exactly what it was advertised as doing, no more and no less – exactly how I like software to be. I whipped up a quick podcast promo:

Partial screenshot of the Propaganda podcasting software

and proceeded to try to listen to it with the audio player (give it a go…) [audio:]

The website for the audio player was kind enough to mention the playback speed issue that turns people into chipmunks:

The Macromedia Flash player has a problem playing files that are encoded at a rate that is not a multiple of 11.025 kHz. This effect is sometimes called the “chipmunk” effect: the file is played at double speed. To avoid this, encode MP3’s at 11.025 kHz 22.050 kHz or 44.100 kHz.

Much as I love composing my podcast in Propaganda, I was unable to control the MP3 encoding to the level that they require; all it would export were more chipmunks!

I tried exporting from Propaganda as WAV and then doing the MP3 encoding using the free (and otherwise excellent) Audacity sound editing software:

Partial screenshot of the Audacity sound editing software

And this clearly shows that the WAV file was encoded at an acceptable 44100Hz and therefore should be acceptable to the Flash audio player. BZZzzzzt Wrong. More chipmunks. I was at a loss, then I tried opening the MP3 file itself in Audacity and poking around. Both the one produced by Propaganda and the one created by Audacity looked the same:

Partial screenshot of the Audacity sound editing software

If you’ve read this blog entry up to this point, you’re probably pretty eager to see the solution. It’s not pretty!

Chipmunks be gone!

Audacity relies on a piece of software called “lame” to do the actual MP3 encoding process. This software is a separate download from Audacity. It runs quite happily on its own from the command-line and accepts a number of configuration options. It was with great pleasure that I read in the documentation for lame that I could specify a re-sampling rate for the audio, allowing me to use one of the Macromedia Flash supported values. I opted for 22050Hz:

> lame.exe –resample 22.05 -b 64

The resulting MP3 sounded so much better! Give it a go:

So now I have a 3 step / application podcasting pipeline:

  1. Record raw audio in Audacity and edit the content
  2. Compose / mix the podcast in Propaganda and export the episode as a WAV file
  3. On the command-line encode the final MP3 using lame

The strange thing is this: when I started out it looked like all I would need was Propaganda, as an all-in-one podcast production application. Little did I know!

The Matrix :: Repercussions

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
The Matrix :: Repercussions New episode of the podcast published!

Title: 101 – Common Day.mp3

Description: He claimed to be ‘already dead but too stupid to realize it yet’ but he was assured, that made him perfect for the mission.

Subscribe to this Podcast
in iTunes.

Subscribe to this Podcast.

Whomix Radio

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Whomix Radio is a podcast with a completely random update schedule; new podcast episodes are put out as people submit their own remix / re-imagination of the venerable Doctor Who theme. The music is all collected together on one archive page, with mixes going back to 2003.

Of all the mixes available there, I think my all-time favourite is “Regenerations 2006” by a user called Nick. There have been 10 different actors who have played the role of the Doctor, and corresponding changes to the theme over the years. Nick’s mix incorporates snippets of each theme into one extended mix, up to and including the latest (second season) of the new Doctor Who series being shown on the Sci-Fi channel.

Running a close second and third places are “For a Darkened People” by EverybodyelsE and “Determined Who Too” by JeX respectively. For a Darkened People has the edge in the race for it’s Danny Elfman big-movie-soundtrack styling and incorporation of a snippet of something reminiscent of the “Batman Begins” theme.

A user known as Oddsprite stands out as I think of creating Podio-Books (episodic audio books delivered as a podcast to your computer). A mix known as “Counterfeit” has both an opening and a closing track. Oddsprite also created a mix known as “Cold Blood” which too an opening and a closing track. I am torn between Counterfeit and Cold Blood as to which I would use (if I were to podcast some Doctor Who fanfic).

Comments, suggestions and feedback is welcome!