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 . . .

Hello World and Welcome to Podcastnorm.com

Hello and welcome to our site.  We believe that podcasting is not only the wave of the near and distant future, BUT, it will soon be the norm.  Although there are several reasons for the name we chose, you already see one of the reasons.  We do firmly think podcasting will soon be the “norm” and now is the time to get started either learning or using this powerful outreach.  Remember our name, “podcastnorm.com”.  You will want to know what we have to offer and to say.