Podcasting Responsibly

I know, I know; that has an ominous ring to it.  What I have to say today I have strong feelings about.  I do not, and will not, tolerate censorship because I know that I am pretty much in control of what I read, watch and listen to.  It is my responsibility and I cannot blame someone else for my choices.  However, when someone else’s actions give me, or someone else, no choice, then I become a little more reactionary.  One thing I feel very strongly about is people unwilling to take responsibility for what they do that can have an adverse affect on others.  The second thing that aggravates me quite strongly, is people not looking far enough into the future and weighing the possibilities of their actions on others, in particular, on young, impressionable children that can be inadvertantly affected whether directly or indirectly; intentionally or unintentionally.

I guess this is somewhat prompted by the recent death of the lady by water toxication.  Even though the person had signed a release, the people running the contest/promo for the radio station were given opportunity to prevent what happened, but did not.  They were advised as to what could happen and they chose to ignore that advice in the name of a signed release and a contest.  In my thinking, this is inexcusable. 

I don’t want to get into a legal discussion and I don’t want to get hung up on the non-issues of this incident.   I merely use it as an example of what can happen when we, as people in the world, act irresponsibly.  This incident is a great example of how something that was intended to generate interest and lightheartedness could turn into such a sad disaster.  I really don’t  think the people involved intended for it to turn out the way it did, BUT, it did anyway and it is their responsibility and they should accept it. 

The decision they made to let her continue was based on ignorance I am sure but that does not relieve them of their responsibility in the incident.  Their decision leaves a family without a mother and a number of people upset with their unbelieveable stupidity and insensitivity.  Maybe all of them should have known better, but none of that will change the present.  (We all know that hind-sight offers the opportunity for 100% perfect sight.) 

I have to admit, this is an unusual subject for podcasting.  I bring it up because it shows what can happen when we don’t consider the consequences of what we call our “right” to say and do anything we want with our podacsts.  Although we do have the “right”, we also need to be responsible enough to pursue our movement forward with a vision for the positive advancement of the medium.  Yes, it is true the audience will, in the end, dictate who stays and who goes.  If we present  our podcasts responsibly, there is no limit to the freedom we can experience with our divergent forms of expression.

See ya next time . . .

(Podcasting Quick Tip #2) Try this. . .

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)There is a lot good stuff going on the software and hardware areas of Podcasting these days. I am always looking for ways to make things easier for myself and I am favorably impressed enough with this piece of software that I am willing to recommend you try it.

First, let me tell you how I came across it. There are millions of search results for anything to do with podcasting. So I don’t generally go that route. I tend to use people’s sites that I have come to trust over time. One of those is Paul Colligan. I visited his site again a few days ago, (something I do quite often), and he mentioned this software that is available from GigaVox media. It is called the “LEVELATOR” by GigaVox media. (Although it is free for personal use at the moment, there will probably be a reasonable charge in the future for those that will be using it commercially.)

It is the “podcasters dream” as they say. It is able to take uneven audio (like when you interview someone over the phone or in another type situation and your audio is not at the same level for both speakers) and it levels out the audio (bringing the two into a much closer reference level). It should be used before you convert the file to mp3 and it only works with WAV files.

I tested it with a very bad beginning to a taped seminar. To add a slight twist to this particular test, I had to convert the mp3 file back to WAV (which I did with ‘audacity’) and then run it through “Levelator”. I have to admit, the result was quite acceptable. I was very pleasantly surprised and pleased, I will admit, it wasn’t miraculous, (it could not bring back what wasn’t there) but it did a good job of what it was made for. Give it a try. I really think you will like it.

By the way the book shown above is co-authored by Michael Geoghegan (CEO of GigaVox media) and Dan Klass (“The Bitterest Pill”) . It is a good source for podcasting because it covers the whole world of podcasting, whether you’re just a listener or a podcaster. (Just clickon the picture above to purchase it) Be sure to visit the GigaVox media site for more info on the “Levelator”. They are also a great source for info and all kinds of related ‘stuff’ to podcasting.

See ya next time . . .

Podcast? Webcast? Netcast? The Name Debate . . . (What’s it gonna be?)

There’s a lot of talk making the rounds these days and that is, “What should this form of communication take as a name?”  In my research so far, there are several that are most popular at the moment.  They are the already well-known iPod derivative, “podcast”; one of the more descriptive possibilities, “netcast”, and another good descriptive term, “webcast”.   There are, and will be, others I assure you. 

The debate surrounds several things including the contention that ‘Apple’ seems to think they own anything with the word “pod” in it.  (At least, that is my understanding of their contention so far).  They feel strongly enough about it that they are beginning to pursue legal means for proving it. 

Once again, I have to agree with one of my favorite “informed” people, Leo Laporte.  (See previous post, “What is Podcasting?  (my view pt 2)”).  I do appreciate all that Apple has done to advance this type of medium.  I like and use iTunes and others and I don’t think the name “pod”casting is going to go away, BUT, for Apple to think that the rest of us are going to go away, quit using the word “pod” or even that they have some legal right to those three letters is ridiculous in my opinion.  Once again, this is where I feel major corporations step over the line when it comes to “branding” rights.  I am sure that I am not alone when it comes to being weary of some of the corporate arrogance that is out there. 

Besides all this, one point that keeps resurfacing is, many people are convinced they need an “iPod” to receive any podcasts at all.  This, too, is good for Apple to have such an impression left in the minds of people, but is also totally false and leaves many without a strong voice to the otherwise.  Many devices  and services exist to play the ever-growing amount of downloadable files out there.  The “iPod” is only one, (as good as it may be).

Now, don’t take me wrong.  I think it is good that this debate has started so early in this process.  It tells me people are thinking in the right direction.  I am thankful there are people concerned about such debatable things as these.  I only hope cooler heads prevail when it comes time to make some of the more important decisions.  There will be a large responsibility on the courts and legal professionals.  There is already a great responsibility on those of us close to these issues and we can’t afford to be reactionary.  We need to fully think through the issues facing us and make calm, yet solid, decisions concerning this issue and others facing this blossoming industry.  Open communication in both directions is going to be key in the near and distant future.  Let’s all stay informed and do what we can to make a positive impact on the future.

See ya next time

What Is Time Shifting? A Major Podcast Plus . . .

I had an interesting question asked of me the other day. The person asked me what “time-shifting” was. I really did think everyone knew what it was so I was a little taken by surprise. I guess I thought everyone was up on the technology of today. (Like I have been at least a few times before, I was mistaken.)

Time shifting is not a new thing. (In fact, I’ve alluded to it before, “What is Podcasting? My View… pt 1” and “What is Podcasting? My View … pt 2”.) It has been in use for many years now. In the “old days”, time-shifting was generally done with reel-to-reel tape machines, audio cassette recorders and video recorders (both Beta and VHS). It was a way of saving something of importance to be viewed, or listened to, at a more convenient time for the person desiring it. Continue reading What Is Time Shifting? A Major Podcast Plus . . .

My Personal Favorite (at the moment)

I became a portable digital voice recorder fan several years ago.  It was the easiest way for me to make myself reminders and take phone numbers and addresses on-the-fly.  As a service-tech, I’ve spent, and spend, a lot of time in my vehicle travelling from one service call to another.  I have my office number call forwarded to my cell phone because my vehicle is my office on wheels.  I didn’t, and don’t, want to become a statistic or do the thing you hear about on the news these days.  (Yeh, I used to feel I was fully capable of holding my phone with one hand, taking notes with the other, and steering with my knee.)  Somehow that sounds dangerous to me now.   That is why I invested in my digital voice recorders. 

I use them to take the numbers and addresses, yes, but I also use them to take down notes to myself of things that inspire me along the way, or, things I need to accomplish later. 

When I first began using those little digital recorders, I didn’t think the quality  mattered that much so I would use the lowest quality recording setting and have all of that extra time.  Later I found that I couldn’t always understand what I had said into the device because the quality was so bad and the background noise so high.  I learned the hard way to use the higher quality settings and sacrifice available time for that quality and I still do it that way today. 

Now, I have found that I can use them for other things.  Podcasting, for example.  In a pinch, they do a darn good job of recording.  (In my last post I talked about an inexpensive way to get started, see “(Podcasting Quick Tip #1)  Try this . . . “.)  It only took a little experimentation and practice to find what worked best and how best to use them for whatever purpose I needed them in.  (I even use it for recording some of my guitar licks for later use.  Sometimes inspiration comes when you’re not near your regular recording setup.)  I find that the HQ mode works well for most all things.  Now, mind you, this is not studio quiet and is not the “final” answer, but it works remarkably well and is quick and easy.

My personal favorite these days is my latest device, an OLYMPUS, digital voice recorder, WS320M.  Not only is it portable and produces good quality recording, but, it is also an 1G mp3 player.  It also has a direct USB connection, which makes it extremely easy to use and later load the stuff from it into my computer for editing or saving, etc.  I really love it.  (By the way, the recording is in stereo, too.)  Now I don’t have to carry two devices with me.  I have my digital voice recorder and my mp3 player in one small package that allows me the freedom to take notes, numbers and addresses on the fly and also listen to (and, sometimes, even make) my favorite podcasts.  Plus, sometimes I even refer to it as my portable podcast studio.  How much better can it get??  I think the best is yet to come.

See ya next time

(Podcasting Quick Tip #1) Try this . . .

If you’re just beginning in podcasting, or just want a low-buck startup option, here is a way that could get you started without too much expense.  In one sense, this may not be the least expensive way to get started, but it may be worth a try and, if you have some of the equipment laying around that you need to try it, you could get at least some practice sessions in to see how you do before investing in something more sophisticated. 

This process requires the following items:

  • A computer– PC or Mac– with sound recording capabilities (with at least a mic input)
  • Some type of portable recording device (even an old hand-held cassette recorder)
  • Download a free software program (in this case, “audacity” from http://audacity.sourceforge.net )
  • Cable(s) for connecting your portable device to enter your recording into your computer.

(Although this will work with either a portable device or directly recording to your computer, this example is based on remotely recording with a portable device and then loading it into your computer later.)  If you don’t have any of the above hardware, that will determine how expensive this could be.  (If you don’t have a portable cassette recorder, they can still be found and are relatively inexpensive.)

The quality you can produce in this manner depends on how well your portable recording device records sound.  I suggest you record at the highest quality available on your particular device.  It cuts down the amount of time available for recording on your chosen media, but, higher quality recording is an essential.  (If you don’t already know that, you will find it out soon enough.)  Here’s how easy it can be:

  1. Go to the above address and download “audacity”.  (Be sure to read what plugins you need along with it.)
  2. Record your self talking or conversing with another on your portable device
  3. Hook up to the mic input of your computer and download your recording into “audacity”
  4. Once it is in “audacity” you can edit it.
  5. With the additional plugins, you can export it to an mp3 file (or other types)
  6. It is ready to send or upload to your friends or site

Although this sounds (and is) relatively simple, it will probably require some practice and experimentation to achieve the best results.  At any rate, you can have some fun playing around with it while learning the “audacity” program.  It is a neat little program and works well.  (Besides, for now, it is free!!!!).  Have fun with it.

See ya next time

Podcasting Quality Considerations — Getting Started for Beginners and Others

I have no intention of being long winded here, but, we do live in interesting times.  There is a level of technology in podcast recording equipment and software that meets, or exceeds, the expectations of those using it and that technology can often be free, (although not always).  When talking about recording your podcasts, there are a number of programs and equipment available for use and they vary in price from what I consider to be very inexpensive to somewhat costly.   

If you are interested in getting up and running with you own podcast, there is nothing wrong with starting with an inexpensive setup.  In fact, if you have no equipment at all (except your computer) and you have the desire to at least try and get started, you can start a bare-bones setup for around $200.   The nice thing is you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort surfing or driving around trying to find cost effective ways and means of setting your self up.  You could quite possibly spend days trying to figure out what equipment is best for you to accomplish what you want and still not know if it will all work together. 

Some of the retailers have put together startup packages of euipment to help you get a quick start.  No guess work, just a get started package that gets you up and out of the starting blocks as quickly as possible.  A company called BSW is one of my favorites.  You can find them at www.bswusa.com.   When I last actually checked, you could get started for somewhere between $250 to $1700.  That is just one example.  There are others but remember the company, BSW, has been around for over thirty years in the broadcast and recording industry. 

(You can find this and other information available in the ebook, “Podcasting Made Easy” available right here.)

See ya next time

 

Podcasting, Anyone? and Everyone?

If you listen to what many people say concerning this new and exciting broadcast medium, you will often hear the words, “anyone and everyone can, and should, have their own podcast.”  I really can’t say I agree with this.

Although anyone can have their own podcast, I am of the opinion not everyone should.

Now that I’ve said that, I guess I should clarify.  I don’t mean to stand in anyone’s way or step on their rights of free speech, but there needs to be more to an audio podcast that just having something to say.  You need to say something that people want to listen to, (or see, when talking about video podcasting.)  Otherwise, why take up space in the virtual world. 

Although it is true anyone can rant and ramble on about any subject that interests them, it is my opinion, (and I have to be blunt), if it doesn’t appeal or interest others . . . there won’t be a soul there to hear what you have to say . . . so in my book . . . what’s the purpose.  (Maybe you don’t care about this or just want to get on your soapbox and go off on a rant to get it off your chest.)  My answer to that is, go ahead, but, don’t get upset when nobody shows up to listen to you or they click away to something else before you even get to the heart of your matter.

If you listen to those in the know about podcasting, you will find they recommend you do testing to see what your audience really wants to hear or if they really want to listen to you say it.  You may want to have some of your close and trusted friends listen to it first, but keep in mind, you need good, solid, constructive critique of your product and you need to be willing to listen to what those you’ve asked to give their input say, or, at least, weigh what they say in good faith and use it to better yourself and your “webcast”

See ya next time . . .

What Is Podcasting . . . ?(my view – pt 2)

So, does podcasting only represent the ability to listen to or watch stuff at a more convenient time?  Of course not.  Podcasting, as everyone is coming to know, is a way for people to be heard and seen.  You don’t have to have any special abilities, (although certain ones do help), you merely need a passion for what you want to talk about or present.  (It also helps to be able to grow and hold an audience).

A simple definition of podcasting is:

The publishing of audio or video programming to be distributed via the internet and listened to, or viewed at the listener’s discretion.

A little fuller, more complete, definition would be:

A method of publishing audio or video broadcasts via the Internet, that allows users to subscribe to regularly updated feed of new files.  Podcasting is unlike most other online media because of its subscription model.  Podcasting usually uses a feed (such as RSS) to deliver an enclosed file, although not all podcasts require subscription. (from “Podcasting Made Easy”)

Am I telling most of you something that you don’t already know?  Probably not, but I am aiming this at people that may be relatively or entirely new to this extremely new and rapidly expanding medium.  The following statistics on the growth of podcasting I also offer from the ebook, “Podcasting Made Easy”.  

  • In September of 2004, Google had less than 25 hits for podcasting.  
  • One year later, in Septemeber of 2005, Google had more than 61 million hits. 

Wow! does that make a statement about explosive growth.  In fact, the medium is expanding so rapidly, yet so new that it is experiencing growing pains even though it is still in somewhat of an experimental (or experimenting) stage much as radio and television were in their infancy.  That being the case, it is quickly becoming more and more popular while still a blossoming mode of communication.

I was listening to a podcast of Leo Laporte talking about this very subject at the “Podcasting and Portable Media Expo” in September of 2006 at Ontario, CA and I can’t help but add my two cents in agreement.  I also believe it is important to remember that we don’t need to repeat, or even duplicate, what television (or radio for that matter) have become.  It is extremely important that we all take time to consider not only the possibilities, but the ramifications of the direction(s) podcasting can and should take.

See ya next time . . .

What is Podcasting . . . ?(my view – pt 1)

Is there anyone that still doesn’t know what podcasting is?   I seriously doubt it.  Some may know it by different names, but, they use, (or have used), the technology in some form or other quite often over the years.  I’m sure this adds to the meaning of the burning question on everyones mind, “Is there anything new under the heavens?”  (In my opinion, not really, just new and improved ways to ‘get it done’ and/or get it out.)

Recording devices  of differing kinds have been around for a long time.  (If you do just a little research, you will find that the first were related to audio recording and reproduction).  At first they were bulky and non-portable.  Over time, they became smaller and more portable and got easier and easier to use. 

We’ve all heard of a thing called a VCR?  (You know, the thing before TIVO.)  In its time, it became one of the most popular time shifting devices ever and was eventually used by the masses to adapt their favorite program viewing to increasingly busy schedules.  It was a wonderful device (as long as you could figure out how to set the clock) but, it did have its drawbacks.  Over the years, manufacturers tried their darndest to make it as simple to use as they possibly could, but, it still had its shortcomings.  I list some of them below:

  • What does this flashing 12:00 mean?
  • Do I have enough tape for this program?
  • Did I set it to the right record speed to record my programs for the week I will be away?
  • Did I remember to set the timer to on?
  • What if the power goes off?
  • Did I rewind that old tape I’m using for the new recordings this week?
  • What did I do with the tape I haven’t had time to watch yet . . . ?

(Since I used to be in the TV/VCR sales and service biz, I know there are many more but let’s move on.) 

With the advent of the affordable cam-corder, people began to use their creative talents to capture the events of their lives (and others) and expanded the use to creating their own movies and/or generating laughter, interest (and some generated large profits) according to their ability to communicate with the media.  Some used it for good; some did not.

It is my view that in reality, podcasting (whether audio or video) is another way of being able to listen to, or watch, what we are interested in at a time that is convenient for us.  Many have been doing it for years under the old names and with the old technology, but now the technology is changing (drastically) and it is time to leave the old ways behind and enter into the future.  As we enter in,  we have very few limitations and a great many opportunities before us.  We will still be able to time-shift our favorite stuff and we have new and exciting ways to express ourselves creatively as well.  (This we will talk about later.)

See ya next time . . .