Cameron Reilly Heads to San Fransisco

TPN LogoSo I was talking to the Cameron Reilly CEO of The Podcast Network very breifly this morning and I find out that Cam is heading off to San Fransisco later this month. I was gob-smacked, then by coincidence heard the podcast where he speaks about it on the way to town after I spoke to him. Came out a few days ago so I guess he expected that I had heard it… sorry Cam been busy, but I have now!G’day World Logo

Cam talks about his reasons for the move in his own special way on the latest edition of G’day World. Great show and worth the listen.

What I find the most depressing about the whole saga is the fact that Cam has to “out-source” investment in The Podcast Network. What a load of crap to think that Australian investors have their heads so far up their own arses that they either A will not or B can not invest in quality Australian Internet start-ups. In addition to this it would be investing in what is the future of media, the rest of the bloody world can see that. Why do you think PodShow received 15 million. Ignorant fools. This is just typical of investment in Australia, period. So many of our great inventions and ideas are lost overseas due to this very thing, when will it stop?

I would dare anyone to doubt Cams commitment to the podcasting medium. Cameron is leaving his partner and kids here in Australia while living in San Francisco. He is leaving his much beloved Melbourne for the bigger smoke and a forign country to live in one of the “Tech Mecca’s” of the world… hang on… Bastard!

Seriously though this is a sacrifice for him and in that he has my 100% support and trust and even greater respect. I have every faith that Cam will succeed, why?… Because if there is one thing I have learned about Cam it is that he gets what he is after and if you are not on board then see you later. He grabs life by the throat and chokes what he wants out of it. He believes passionately in what he is doing and feels he has a responsibility to further podcasting and citizen media. Bloody minded.

So Cam The Rooster wishes you the best fortunes in the world mate. I am sure your job will be easy, The Podcast Network is a quality company with class. I am proud to be a part of The Podcast Network as a host and sharing the ride with you all.

Just don’t go all American on us OK. Mind you he is calling himself:

“… the Steve Irwin of podcasting”

Apparently he is going to sport an Akubra, Driza-Bone and get RM Williams as a sponsor. So no, not much hope of “Americanizing” the Cam.

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Another Potentially Stupid Statement

I could not pass this up, the guys that are at the wheel of MySpace are really quite full of their success and are trying very, very hard to look stupid. Although this statement from the CEO of MySpace might not be on the scale of his colleague, he runs the risk of being wrong – in a big way.

This from Mashable:

“News Corp. CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch says that he expects MySpace Video to overtake YouTube in 60 to 70 days. The statements, made at the Communacopia XV conference in New York…”

Now that is a big call. Sure not entirely beyond possibility but a big call all the same. If he is wrong it just makes him look stupid. He should have read CEO Tip Number 1 before sprouting that statement.

The statement was made with reference to a YouTube like service being introduced to MySpace. As I have said before I think that users have made their choice and it will take something really special and big to make a difference. Good luck Mr Murdoch… I hope you don’t end up with egg on your face. Which given my opinion is highly likely.

Mashable has the take on the whole statistics being very confusing and contradictory, so only time will tell in the long run.

He said What?!

Peter Chernin, CEO of MySpace’s parent company, Newscorp unbelievably said this early this week:

“If you look at virtually any Web 2.0 application, whether its YouTube, whether it’s Flickr, whether it’s Photobucket or any of the next-generation Web applications, almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace.”

Needless to say that I think he might have his head up his arse. This is the most self indulgent and ignorant, self righteous things I have ever heard a CEO say… well in recent memory anyway. Clearly said without knowledge or forethought.

So what these companies would be nothing without MySpace? I don’t think so, they are successful because the users have decided to support them, as is the case with MySpace. That support can be fickle as well. So just be careful about saying just how good you think you might be. Tomorrow you not be on the “hot” list. Especially if users think you are full of your own self importance, they tend not to like that very much.

In my opinion I think that MySapce is popular with the demographic that they appeal to and that’s it. Right now that is the biggest driving force of any company, market, trend and dollars; the young, hip, trendy youth market. I think it has very little to offer the adult serious blogger or tech-type person. Although some will visit to see what is on offer and maybe have a space to get exposure. This is a powerful market force for lots of obvious reasons and the source of the confidence in Peter Chernin’s comment. They can also turn on you like a rabbid dog. The YoYo was hot once too. They have to concentrate on how they keep this audience interested, not on how they are going to global domination wielding this possibly temporary power that can be here today and gone tomorrow.

These comments were made with reference to the fact that if MySpace were to build a similar service to YouTube for example and make the videos accessible to MySpace users to “embed” in their pages then they would use that instead of YouTube. I think that is a reach. Convincing users to drop what is “cool” or the “service of choice” in favour of an alternative is a tough job. They would want to be offering a much better service or something to make them stand out. I don’t think they can do that. Plus you have to crack the brand loyalty of users to YouTube, good luck mate!

CEO Tip Number 1: engage brain then speak otherwise you will look stupid. Stupid.

Facebook Privacy Issues: I Don’t Get It

This last week saw a huge problem blow up at Facebook the social networking site “…an on-line directory that connects people through social networks”. Basically two new features were rolled out; “News Feeds” and “Mini Feeds”. From what I can gather they are like any News Feed aka: RSS type of deal, as you might have for a blog. These features allowed users to see what their friends were up to such as; items added, pictures, comments and the like. What Facebook did not realise was the outrage this would cause from users.

So these new features were rolled out and there was a revolt. Here are some of the actions taken by users:

In my effort to try to understand what all the fuss was about I have found some of the reasons that users have issued as to why the new features are unwanted. I do not have a Facebook account myself so this is all I have to go on: Here are various quotes taken from a few sources and since they seem to be talking for the masses…

“It damages what privacy was left on Facebook. Before Feeds, it was already easy enough to stalk anyone at your school, and everyone on your friends list; but with the advent of Feeds, it is now nearly impossible not to be “stalked” or to “stalk””

“Without even trying an individual now knows the changing relationship status of individuals on their friends list”

“It is almost impossible now to keep your information to yourself…”

“Before Feeds there were steps that could be taken to prevent your information becoming everyone’s property; now there is literally no option to prevent your information from going completely public.”

“This feature was not requested by the users”

“People that I have spoken with are perturbed by the overwhelming collection of personal information that is displayed about friends, acquaintances, and other Facebook buddies.”

“Despite the fact that this does not “violate the privacy policies already in place,” we feel that it is invasive and directs us to information that we are not normally interested in.”

While not ranking too high on the priority list, there were issues raised about the aesthetics of the additions.

“There are other reasons users are complaining, ranging from the fact it takes away the time-wasting aspect of Facebook to aesthetic complaints about the new look.”

I am not sure if this is truly representative as there are 9.5 million users of Facebook. But there are reports that there are 100 thousand users belonging to the “Students Against Facebook News Feed” group. So that is a fairly large representation and not to be ignored. So I will assume that the anti-feed lobby is a fairly universal feeling among users.
This all created a huge buzz, resulting in an issue that has become much talked about until steps were taken to subdue the masses on Facebook. Indeed the CEO himself responded personally to the negative reaction that the features received.

The issue seems to be resolved in so much as the Facebook people have developed a bunch of privacy controls to give the user control over what is put into feeds, if anything; and who can see them. That sort of thing anyway.

While I do not criticize users for the way that they feel. I would also argue that any company should put the users first and listen to them. I would also say that if they feel this way, even with the exaggerated responses that are inevitable that there must be truth in their concerns and these should be addressed.

But here is the bit I just do not get. News feeds within the blogging community are valued and relied upon as a useful tool and an accurate indicator of just how many real readers you have. It also helps you disseminate information. For me I would be devastated if I lost the feed from my site. Indeed the changes were reviewed favourably by some. But to me the reaction by Facebook users flys in the face of contemporary feeling and sentiment of the Internet community and information sharing. To me it is the equivalent of me asking WordPress to allow me to have privacy controls over my RSS feed and allow some people to access it and not others. Sure this can be done with secured RSS feeds that require passwords but I have not set up a public blog to do that. Maybe that is not the case on Facebook.

I am not criticizing the users of Facebook for the way they feel. Certainly there looks to be a generalised fear of “stalking” and harassment. Perhaps even assault in real life, but this was not stated. This may be a genuine fear and well founded. However it does seem a little “school playground” type mentality in so much as they seem to want to stick to their “clicks” and groups and maintain their privacy within those groups. This is a strange concept to me, seeing it in on-line communities. It could be argued that it comes accross as immature, but that is from the outside looking in. Not sure if this is a reflection of the demographic or not but I would expect that there was a large school-aged user base, given that these are the groups where Facebook started; colleges, schools, areas, regions etc.
Adding to that it looks like you could belong to a group within Facebook that was your school. I can see how some information getting out could be damaging to an individual at that level. However that in turn would cause me to ask why is that people are putting that sort of information in a public space on the web.

So that is what I see and how I have seen the whole Facebook fiasco. I am quite open to being corrected in regards to the finer points of Facebook. However, I am looking at it from an information sharing and the comparison to RSS feeds and the differences that can make in a tight community. The prompt action and changes made by Facebook are to be commended.

The Hardest Edit Yet

You guys are going to think I rabbit on about the podcast a lot. Well simple truth is that I do. Reason? Well I (we) have a lot invested in it. It is a labour of love admittedly, but when you spend so much time on it; it makes it matter more. This week that is especially true.

This week we did our first interview for the show. It was with Dick Hardt of Sxip Identity, the CEO. Skype was a complete bastard, for what reasons we do not know. In addition to that the audio was less than perfect. As well as that I was learning my way around some new software. All up this meant for me a huge job. It took hours and hours of editing, and re-editing. I had to correct the audio levels and make sense of garbled Skype noise to extract the content. That is an added step that I don’t normally have to worry about.

I edited the interview once and on a listen I thought I could do better. I originally edited the raw data in Audacity then on the second I tried out Sound Forge by Sony. The wave patterns are easier to read in Sound Forge I think. That meant the second edit did not take as long. But a lot of the crackles and peaks were taken out. The software is very, very powerful and that meant that I had to learn a lot of new techniques for doing things. The help files are great and that helped. There are a few things that I could not help or eliminate, like the alternating volumes that can be heard. That was a result of the fact that no compressor on earth could have made up for the level differences between us and Dick. But overall the result is great compared to what I had to work with.

Then came the task of throwing it all together. Sebastian and I recorded our bit last night. That went so well it was smooth as silk. We knew our stuff and Seb was a great asset (as always). At one point my web page would not load. It was my story and once Seb knew I was having trouble he just stepped in and took over, magic. It just worked. Then after we finished I started to edit our bit and exported it as a .wav file. I put all the components together in Acid Music Studio, again Sony. It kicks butt and a serious time saver.

Audacity does multi-track badly. So this was a nice change. Again a powerful program and I was pulling my hair out with some things. Like if you change a track from a one-shot as opposed to a loop it changes the way the audio sounds. If it is supposed to be a one-shot, it sounds like crap as a loop. What I did not know was that it automatically loads some sounds as loops. So I spent about an hour trying to find out what the go was with Sebastian sounding like a Darleck! The other thing that this label of loop or one-shot does is changes the tempo of a track. So I was adding audio and it was either too fast or too slow! Again, pulling my hair out but got the two problems sorted when I realised the difference between a loop and a one-shot. Over all though I would say that software is very intuitive and easy to use. Despite my issues, which were minor. Organising and arranging your work is a snap and the ability to zoom and scale is priceless. I can now fit over ten tracks on the one view, much easier.

In addition to this the two programs work seamlessly with each other. Need to edit a track while working in Acid? No problem just open it with a right click on the file name, edit it and close and keep working on the project in Acid, awesome! The only thing that it won’t do is encode the .mp3, for that I am now using RazorLame.

RazorLame worked wonderfully. The file was encoded at 64kbps with a 44100khz sample rate. Another first for the podcast. I figure that it is a toss up between file size and quality and marketing. I think a smaller file size might mean more listeners. My only criticism of the file was that some kooky shit happened in that there is a bit of an echo in the first half of the podcast but then the rest is fine. Not sure what that was about but I think it might have something to do with modulation. So I have decided that for the next podcast record we will under level the audio, this will give the final product some headroom and take out some of the fluctuating echo. I say this because the audio of the interview which was under-modulated is fine.

And that’s a wrap. It was indeed the trickiest podcast to edit and toped with that was the new software and methods. I am proud of what has been produced. This is why we have a vested interest and maybe you can see why we are passionate about what we are doing. It represents a huge investment of time and energy. The reward is for people to listen to it.

Head on over to The Global Geek Podcast to check out the show!