Make Your Own Dodecahedral Calendar

Found this cool site today that allows you to select an download a PDF of a dodecahedral calendar. Obviously you have to print it and build the dodecahedral yourself. I thought what the heck I can do that, so I did.

There are two types of dodecahedron that you can choose from; the regular or the rhombic. I just chose the regular. Then you can select the year you want, the language (anything you care to name here) and the day the week starts on and hit the download button.

Download the PDF and print it out onto regular A4 paper (not letter – it does not fit). It is recommended that you use regular 80gsm paper. But for the extra challenge I printed it out on 110gsm Parchment Paper. It added a nice touch and I don’t think it made it more difficult.

Once printed cut it out, the instructions are on the print out.

Now the tricky part, fold it and glue it. Stapling just won’t cut the mustard so don’t attempt that. Now there a a couple of tricks here that will help you out.

  1. When you fold the tags in make sure they stick out not in. That way it makes it easier to press them in, especially considering the next tip.
  2. There is one “side” or “face” that you will notice has no folded tabs on it. Leave it till last. The reason being is that you need to stick your finger through it to press on the last few sides.

Once the glue dries, set it on your desk and admire it. I was surprised at the strength of it. I would guess that a lot of that lies in the actual structure and not much on the glue, but pretty cool.

Okay so that’s the art lesson for today and a great way to waste 1/2 hour. You could always get creative and edit the PDF to create something other than a calendar; here are a few suggestions:

  • Print some photo’s on the sides
  • Make your own RPG dice
  • Get the kids involved and have them “decorate” them before you make the dodecahedral
  • Make about 5000 of them and line a room to make your own studio
  • Attach pins from the inside to make a lethal office warfare weapon

Here is my effort, now go make your own!

odecahedral calendar

The Global Geek Podcast Finally has a Promo

Well I finally got this monkey off my back and finished the promo for the Podcast. It was a bit of an effort but I got it done.

The biggest problem was the backing track. I made several attempts at doing one myself and failed, miserably! I just don’t have what it takes even with all the fancy software and loops and resources. That really points to the talent of music artists and mixing genius’s.

One of those genius’s is Dave London. We have featured Dave’s music in the show a number of times thanks to ioda PROMONET. Great stuff. So that got me thinking… We obtained permission from Yes Mate Recordings to use one of Dave’s tracks in the promo! Tops. Now we have a great sounding sound track to back my not so great radio voice and a great promo I can be proud of. But the music makes it sound heaps better! I did not want to do a hack job. Your promo is a reflection on you and your work.

Check out Yes Mate Recordings for more of Dave’s Music and appearance dates. Many thanks to Yes Mate Recordings for their willingness to be a part of the podcast.

Please feel free to download the promo for use in your podcast or if you just want to hear the results just press play.

UPDATE: We are now able to use the Audio Player WordPress Plugin and so I have embeded the player for you to hear it directly from this page.

FeedDemon Releases a Toolbar for Firefox and IE

NewsGator have just released a toolbar for Firefox and Internet explorer. It is still in beta and from the review I have read I am not sure that I’ll be getting it just yet.

This is not an extension rather a download that is installed. I, like the reviewer don’t like the fact that it has been done this way. In addition is the fcat that it is a joint install for both Firefox and IE. I would like to think that this is a trend that has not started, please give us extensions for Firefox and a separate download for IE (if you want to subject yourself to that pain).

The toolbar does not seem to be feature rich, although it does let you know how many people are subscribing to a feed (NewsGator users only that is) and the ability to preview the feed. In addition the up and coming Firefox 2 allows you to integrate subscription to feeds for a specific feed-reader. So I am not sure where the toolbar idea is headed for FeedDemon. They had want to include some more features for me to add a toolbar to my browser as I am very protective of screen real-estate.

You can check out the original review and some screen shots on Cybernet Technology News. From the screen shot the toolbar looks to take up room and not have that much on it. Not great news considering that FeedDemon is a killer product and is feature rich in it’s own right. Then again this is a beta version and we will see what the end result is when the full version comes out, I might try it when it does.

What Bit Rate for Podcasts?

I really, honestly do not know the answer to this question. What is the best bit rate to encode a podcast at? Also does that answer depend upon the fact that you are a listener or a podcaster or hosting service?

I do the post production work for the Global Geek Podcast. Before moving to TPN I always encoded the podcast at 44khz and 96kbps. That works out at about 35 – 40MB per show (depending on length between 40 minutes to an hour). We have what I think is great audio quality, but am I spoiling ourselves and our listeners and potentially excluding others?

We have never had a complaint about the file size of the show. No-one has ever said it was too big. People have commented on the quality and said it is great and we have worked hard to get it that way. But I now question if that is over kill. So I tried to figure out what bit rate is the most common. I did a very small survey of the podcasts I have on the computer. I only have nine on it at the moment – most of them are on the MP3 Player (where they should be).

Anyway I got the following breakdown:

Total of 9 Podcasts:

  • 2 encoded at 96kbps
  • 4 encoded at 64kbps
  • 3 encoded at 48kbps

A conclusive survey that does not make. But maybe I am aiming too high. What quality do listeners expect of a podcast? Do they want a small file and lower quality so that they get the content without the bandwidth. Or do they want great quality and a larger file size? With the size of MP3 players now the storage is not an issue I don’t think. But I know in Australia the cost of bandwidth might be. The cost of faster connections is expensive and so many users are on a maximum of 256/64 or 512/128. So does a larger file size deter them from listening to our show? Could we have a bigger audience if we made it smaller and if that is the case what size is acceptable?

With the uptake of broadband technology there is a step towards encoding at a larger bit rate but what should it be? Perhaps 64kbps is a good place. I listen to quite a few podcasts that are recorded at 64kbps and they sound good. A one hour podcast encoded at 64kbps is about 28MB (voice only). Is this a big difference to 96kbps? Well it is between 10 and 15 MB. Will that mean the difference between more listeners and a balance between keeping your existing ones because of what they expect? Will you loose listeners by lowering the bit rate dramatically and will it matter because of the number you pick up. To me it does anyway, I care that we keep the listeners we have.

The other big consideration here is the hosting cost. I know that I had to go to the plan one up from the basic plan in order to have the podcast encoded at such a high bit rate. So that privilege cost me $10US/month instead of $5US/month. That was a cost that I thought was worth it. Also what if your podcast is being hosted by a network, what file size is reasonable for them to host? Is it acceptable that you have a higher bit rate than the other shows that are hosted there and is it necessary? Personally, I would like to find a happy medium between file size, bit rate and quality. I want the best quality at a reasonable file size. I don’t want my hosting provider to get pissed off that the show is too large. In addition to that fact; the network wants as many people to listen to as many shows as possible. If it is possible that people are “turned off” by a large file size, then that is not for the benefit of the network and I would not do it. In that instance the file size should be smaller at the sacrifice of quality for the benefit of the network and I need to accept that.

As a listener I do not care what size a file is. I have a fast Internet connection and it really does not bother me. I like high quality podcasts but I listen to some that are not of a high quality as far as bit rate because the content is good. So is good quality a cover for shit content? If it is; it is not sustainable long term. So as a listener of podcasts I don’t search for podcasts based on audio quality or file size, and maybe I have just answered my question in part.

Having made these points I will say that some basic editing will improve quality out of sight. I have turned off podcasts because they have not bothered to do this basic editing. They were unlistenable and total shit and they should have thought the same! I wonder if some podcasters even listen to it after they have recorded it. So what do I mean by “basic editing?”

Basic editing in my opinion is:

  • Setting levels before you start, especially if you are recording Skype using a software application. This means setting your levels with enough “headroom” to get loud during a podcast so that you don’t “clip” the recording. And not so soft that you have to amplify it dramatically to get something to work with.
  • Don’t edit the podcast as an MP3, MP3 is a “lossy” format and gets worse and worse in quality every time you re-encode it or open it and save it.
  • Run a compressor on the audio to “smooth” the audio. That is take out the high’s and bring up the lows.
  • Run the compressor a few more times.
  • Normalise” the audio, basically set the zero level. Makes the podcast the same volume and means that the listener isn’t constantly turning their volume up and down.
  • You may need to “amplify” the whole audio after using the compressor and normalising the audio. You don’t want the listener running out of volume because it is too soft!
  • Any added or imported audio needs the above steps.

Believe it or not the above takes the least amount of time in my editing but makes the biggest difference. I do go a step further and edit the actual audio and take out the umms and errs and we always stuff things up and say well we will edit that out. The time is also in the transitions and the mixing of the imported audio, making it all work together (the best that I can). So maybe you can see why as a podcaster I want it to sound as good as I can, I put a lot of effort into both the pre and post production. But is that at the neglect of other issues? Is this basic and advanced editing enough to make it a “quality” podcast?

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. Tell me if you are a listener or a podcaster. Podcasters, tell me what you encode your podcast at and why. Listeners please answer my questions for me. As I said at the start of this post I really do not know what the right answer is, that’s why I have posed lots of questions. It would be great to get some answers, although I am not sure there is one.