The Podcast Rebranded!

I have been podcasting now for two and a half years. For most of that time I have been producing The Global Geek Podcast. There have been a number of co-hosts and partners, it has been great fun and very rewarding. For most of this time the show resided as part of The Podcast Network, but there comes a time when you want to spread your wings and fly. The Global Geek Podcast is no more.

On the 19th of July the final Global Geek was posted. But this was not an end for myself and co-hosts. We decided to strike out on our own server and with it rebranding the show. So was born the Aussie Geek Podcast.

The reasons were many and we thought long and hard about making the move, it was a difficult decision. I really appreciated The Podcast Network and what C.E.O Cam Reilly is trying to achieve. The people and the community are awesome. We left T.P.N with no hard feelings that I know of and did not go out of our way to create any. Cam was aware however, that we were frustrated with not being able to tweak the blog in the way that we wanted to as well as having the fine level of control that we as geeks craved. Although it was very disappointing to have seen that comments on the last GGP referring to the new URL of the podcast were deleted by someone.

But we are off on a big adventure and we are loving it. We have built the site and are posting madly. It was awesome to see that we are already making great gains in Google results. Although I am sure that we have taken a big hit in numbers. That true figure is yet to be known as we have not posted a show as yet. The long and the short of that is that we are waiting on an update to the WordPress plugin called PodPress to be compatible with WordPress 2.6.

I am really enjoying the collaboration and multiple authors that we were not able to fully realize before. In addition Tim has been posting some awesome Quick Tips in video format and we have some great plugins that our readers and listeners can take advantage of.

It would be great to pull our community over to the new blog and podcast, so jump over and say hello. Don’t forget to upgrade your links and RSS feed while you are there! We will be posting the first full show as soon as we can.

I was bummed that we did not make it to the 100th show, at 90 it was so close. We have decided to start at 1 for the AGP.

PodPress has Vanished!

WordPress is the platform of choice for most podcasters running their own sites. One of the reasons for this is that it offers the most support and available plugins make it a powerful solution. In my opinion the most essential plugin for the podcaster is PodPress. However it appears that PodPress has vanished and is now a parked page at GoDaddy.

I just could not believe that such a successful plugin could be abandoned so I did some digging and it appears that the developer Dan Kuykendall went to Disneyland 18 days ago and forgot something rather important. It would appear that on the 26th of April their domain name expired. Do’h…

That is the conclusion that I have come to, anyone else know any different?

If however, the developer has jumped ship and abandoned development then I will be very surprised. If for nothing else than the fact that no one else has taken over the project.

One good thing until everything is sorted out is that it appears the download links are still operational from the WordPress extend site.

I certainly hope that PodPress is here to stay, I know I value the project as one of the best podcasting tools out there. Seriously though, GoDaddy start sending out emails at least 6 months before your domains expire, just don’t ignore them. Or change your renewal details to automatic renewal. But then it seems that it doesn’t matter how many reminders some people get.

Thanks Dan for your hard work and I trust that you have just forgotten to renew your domain.

UPDATE: I am not sure what the go is, but during the course of writing this post MightySeek is back up and “un-parked”. I also noticed that the whois has changed and the domain that expired in 2008 is now 2009. So perhaps suspicions were in fact true and we had a domain glitch eh? Yey, is all I can say.

Find Sounds Easily Web 2.0 Style

Soundsnap LogoWith my involvement with The Global Geek Podcast, I am always on the look out for great resources. I find that one of the most enjoyable parts of production is in mixing in all the sounds and effects to give the piece a unique feel and personality. I derive a great deal of satisfaction getting the right sound and timing perfect. One of the most frustrating things about production is just that though, getting the right sound for what you can hear in your head. Soundsnap is a sound effects repository with a Web 2.0 slant, it is brilliant and just made the task of finding that perfect sound a breeze.

The front page presents all the categories of sounds that are available to browse. Clicking on any of these categories opens up a view that presents these sounds as pages. Here you can sample any sound with a simple flash player and get other information on each sound such as length and a wave form. Although I am not sure of the purpose of the waveform as it is too small to be useful. Clicking on it however gives you the sounds technical info. Sort by popularity or other criteria. See comments made on sounds, who uploaded it and click to see their profile and what else they have uploaded. You can expect the usual set of ranking and sorting features that are ever present in Web 2.0 style sites.

One feature that I really like is the ability to drill down the data within each category without searching. Under each category you can click on sub categories to refine your manual search. Makes it easier to find a specific type of sound. This is also a nice way to search for a specific sound as you might find something better than what you were thinking of.

Once you have found a sound that you want they are free to download and use. Sounds are available in .wav, .mp3 and .aiff. You don’t have to have an account to download files. Great to have the access without another login to worry about. The quality varies slightly but on the whole they are very good.

The presentation of the site is excellent. It looks slick and well done. There is plenty of Ajax goodness and the navigation is easy and intuitive. Full credit to the developers on this front. There are a number of sound repositories out there but there are none that are this well done. For a new (to me at any rate) site there are many, many FX to download and even some obscure ones that are hard to find. I noticed that the is a bucket load of loops available for music buffs; around 3,700 and this will only grow as time goes on. Hopefully one day it will make those very expensive sound effects disks that are available commercially obsolete. As a podcaster this is a fantastic resource and I would encourage those that are actively involved in the community to keep producing sounds and samples that will save our bacon.

Soundsnap Screenshot

 

Thanks etc.

I Was Not Looking… My Bad

Well I am still as busy as, well as busy as you can be without spontaneous human combustion. No I have not updated the blog for a few weeks.  My family and I are still in the midst of some major stuff that we have to deal with. Until that is settled then I will be putting my energies into what I can afford. I am spending most time keeping The Global Geek Podcast churning along. I am afraid the personal blog has taken a hit. It does not please me at all.

The podcast has been doing exceptionally well and we have taken on another host. But we suffered a bit of a hit yesterday and we will be telling all in the next show. Tim and I did the show this week as Knightwise could not make it. I think we did okay but Knightwise was missed. Tim is helping me out a lot on the podcast and he has become a great on-line mate. I hope I can actually meet him one day. I was planning to get to Melbourne this year. That might still be on the cards but nothing definite as yet. I am hoping to go and meet Cameron Reilly (CEO of The Podcast Network). But we will see.

Now something that I will say is that I have been unable to get around here and check in on a few things. But what did give me the absolute shits was the fact that WordPress did some coding mumbo-jumbo and stuffed the blog. It looked horrible when I arrived. None of the formatting that I had done was viewable and it was set to default! So I had to go back in and redo all of it. Yes, I have fixed it now and all is good in the would of The Rooster. But I thought it a bit rich when you turn your back for a minute and the blog is rooted. Sorry it looked like a disaster. Damn, even Nick Bradbury was here! That’s like being caught in your dressing gown with guest arriving. Arrrgh!

So I thought I would stick my head around the corner and check in. But expect on again off again blogging for the next month or so while I get things sorted out. Keep listening to the show and reading the the podcast blog as that is where I am trying to focus while my time is limited. I will let everyone know what the heck is going on when I can, at the moment it is a bit hush hush…

Plans are to blog about a few tech things over this week. I have found a great application for recording Skype and a few other cool tools that I am using with the new PC. But I am not saying when because I don’t want to jynx myself.

G’day World Podcast Reaches 200 Shows!

Rooster’s Rail extends sincere congratulations and a slap on the back to Cameron Reilly on reaching 200 episodes of G’day World on The Podcast Network.

Incidentally The Podcast Network turned 2 this week as well. Have a look at The Podcast Network two years ago using the Wayback Machine courtesy of Internet Archive. Great effort Cam and a huge achievement. Looking forward to the next 100.

Cam has put a show out nearly every day for the last two years, is CEO of The Podcast Network and has a firm conviction for the success and love of the medium that is podcasting.

Cam’s 200th show features the best of G’day World Guests since it has started.

G’day World Screenshot

The Problem with Transcontinental Podcasting

RSS HeadphonesI am not sure if anyone else has to manage audio files that have been .mp3 encoded prior to editing but for the podcast it has been causing some issues. This week however, I made a few changes to the encoding and it appears to have made a significant difference. Here is what I have done and if anyone has any further suggestions I would appreciate it.

The background of this whole saga is that I used to record the podcast using Hot Recorder. Since the release of Skype 3.0+ this has failed to record anything but silence. Although he website claims it does work with 3.0. So we had to look to an alternative. Knightwise has a Mac so that made it a lot easier for us to decide what to do but our decision then presented a few things we had to work around.

For some reason recording Skype on a Mac is relatively easy compared to a Windows based machine. Not sure why. It might be the way that Mac handles audio or that there has been more development on the Mac in this regard. So we decided to record the show on Knightwise’s Mac. He uses Call Recorder to record Skype, which by the way has excellent results. Far superior to what I was getting with Hot Recorder. But now we had a great recording of the show in .wav which is generally about 1GB in size… +2.4GB but it was on the other side of the world! We needed to get it to Oz in one piece and in good enough quality to work with.

A great supporter of the podcast donated a server which has excellent speed and storage in addition to as many FTP accounts as we needed. However sending a 1GB file across the world is out of the question, even zipped up it would be huge! The only answer that we could see was to encode the .wav as an .mp3 in as high a quality as possible. So Knightwise encodes the file raw as a 192 kbps, CD quality. The result is about 100MB, which is very manageable. He then sends the file to me via FTP.

I download the file and convert it to a .wav and edit the show as per usual. When finished the file would be encoded as an .mp3 at 64 kbps at 44100 khz. We dropped the bps a while back to give us a smaller file size, which we thought would be appreciated. However since we swapped to Knightwise recording the show the 64 bit quality has been giving us poor results. I have tried to optimize for quality in the encode but it has made no difference.

The problem is that .wav files loose certain frequencies when they are encoded to .mp3. You can’t get them back they are gone forever. Sure I do everything that I can to get the best results. But the 64 bit rate was stripping more of those frequencies out of the final file than I would like. This resulted in some rather strange sounding ambient sounds and hissing when there was talking in addition to making the music tracks terrible. There was only one thing for it.

This week I increased the bit rate. Although in the beginning the show was encoded at 96 kpbs; I thought I would take the intermediate step of 80 kpbs. The result was a file that was only about 4-5 MB larger but the pay off in quality I think was worth it.

The conclusion is that when we changed the way the show is recorded and then encoded before transfer, we should have decided to increase the bit rate. The 16 bit increase in quality has compensated for the lost frequencies the first time it was encoded as an .mp3 making the file resilient to being decoded to .wav and then back to a .mp3. A few further tweaks at the recording end will give us some further head room as far as quality.

I would remind all podcasters out there of one of the golden rules of editing, never edit a .mp3, always convert it to a .wav. I hope this hack helps anyone else faced with the same problem of transcontinental podcasting and file transfer. Check out this weeks show and compare the difference.

UPDATE: Hot Recorder has been updated to version 2.14, which I am told does work with Skype 3.0+. I am yet to test it but I will let you know the results. Thanks to mswiczar for the tip in the comments.

Want to Know How to Podcast?

GGP Album Art SmallThe latest Global Geek went up today. Knightwise and myself put a lot of hard work into this one. It is the first special edition for the show. We were asked to do a show about how we put the show together. So we did.

This episode is a real behind the scenes look at the podcast. We cover all the on-line and off line applications that we use. The technology behind podcasting. Audio editing and hardware also get a look in. For a budding podcaster it is a valuable insight into podcasting and what it takes. Although I will bracket that with the fact that our show has been going a while now and we have upgraded most software and hardware from the “basics” to more advanced and powerful. So this is not a basic show in terms of what would be the minimum requirements.

Technically the show is a valuable resource for anyone including us. But it was created for many other reasons. We want to connect with our listeners. We genuinely appreciate them and the effort they make to listen to the show. We love hearing from them. Hopefully they will connect with us and feel that they are as much a part of the show and the community as we are.

Added to the complexities of the podcast is the fact that my co-host is literally a world away in Belgium. So we cover just what we do and how to overcome difficulties that arise due to the distance. Not to mention the time space continuum. But as you will hear it feels like Knightwise is next door.

There are some great sound clips included in the podcast. There is a snippet from the very first Global Geek. Wow what a difference in sound quality! It felt great to know that the show had developed and matured as much as it has. You also get a ear in on our pre-production meeting for the show and our sound check. Plus we have pictures on Flickr that we are going to add to through the week and we also made available our unedited show notes for the episode.

One of the coolest things we did for the show was to include a special surprise for the end. I am not going to give it away, just to say that it is a real laugh. I did not even tell Knightwise the secret, he found out just like you can. He had this to say about the show:

“I have tears streaming down my  face as a drive to work!!!!!! Tears with laughter!
You F*%kwitt must have spent all day editing that last bit together!!! It is bloody brilliant!!!!
The rest of the show is awesome! Fantastic job Dave, I absolutely love this podcast!!!
I can see our listeners bubbling with laughter at the end!”

We are our harshest critics. Seriously.

Most of all I think that Knightwise and I have realized that through this journey of podcasting together that we are more friends than co-hosts. I value his friendship over the podcast. I am truly grateful of his friendship and that he joined the show.

Knightwise is a true friend, you don’t get many of them in life. Life is fickle, fleeting and crap at playing fair. Friends tip the balance.

So waste no time have a listen. Head over to the Global Geek Podcast Blog for the Show Notes and subscription details. The music that was used on the show is also available for free download from the Show Notes on the blog. DRM free and legal.

But you can also listen here, please vist the blog and be a part of the show with us!

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