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.

I am Still Looking

I just finished recording The Global Geek Podcast. This was Sebastian’s last show, that is disappointing in itself. But more disappointing is the fact that I am still looking for a co-host to replace him.

I have had some offers from people I know to host one or two shows, for which I am thankful and really appreciate. But I think that to be fair to the show and to me, a permanent co-host would be ideal. I said today on the show that I am not looking for the perfect person. You don’t have to have the voice for it (I don’t!). You might be interested but don’t think you are capable, don’t worry I felt the same way. I have improved over time and now I don’t think I get nervous or anything I just get in and talk. The other thing is that you might be interested in podcasting and want to do something but don’t know how to get started, why not join an established podcast?

Please, contact me if you think in anyway that you might be interested, or if you just want some info about what it involves and what you have to do.

If you are concerned about the commitment of time, realistically I think that about 2 hours (give or take) a week would cover it. We might have to have the odd chat through the week but that’s it. Show notes and resources to your door… well your inbox.

This is a genuine offer and I will consider anyone, I don’t care where you are from what your background is, male or female. Think about it. My contact details are in the sidebar. This is getting to crunch time and I am starting to get worried… So think quick!

Thanks Sebastian for your efforts, support and all the fun that we have had on the show. I greatly appreciated you being a part of the creation of the show and I wish you well in your career and future.

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!

Podcast Bitrate Problem Solved

As people that regularly read my blog I mentioned that I was having some major issues in regards to the encoding of the .mp3 file for the Global Geek Podcast. I was unable to encode the file at a bit-rate of 64 and then a sample rate of 44100khz. Audacity refused to allow this combination even though the “project” file was in a sample rate of 44100khz. Rather Audacity encoded the .mp3 at 64bps but then adjusted the sample rate to 24khz. This sample rate as you would be aware is not compatible with web based flash players. So not very useful.

It would appear that the problem that I was having was not an isolated one, other podcasters have come across this problem as well. It would appear that the problem lies not with Audacity but with LAME. LAME is the piece of software that actually does the encoding not Audacity. The limitation lies in that software. I have however sourced a solution with the help of my mate Adam – code monkey and general good guy.

RazorLame Screen Shot

The solution was not to ditch LAME as such. Rather we got hold of some software called RazorLame. RazorLame adds a powerful GUI (Graphical User Interface) to the LAME engine. I am fairly sure that it also includes some other software that meshes with LAME and the result is a top piece of software. It is open source as well which is great. As usual the interface is not that pretty but very functional and who cares about what it looks like as long as it does the job and this does more than that.

RazorLame will not only encode file but can decode files and then re-encode. Not recommended though, as I have said before .mp3 files are a lossy format and the quality deteriorates on repeated writing. But this remains a handy feature, it might get you out of a tight spot if you have lost the original file and you need to encode it again for some reason.

The big feature for me was the fact that you can mix and match bit rates and sample rates however you wish to. Makes for some interesting possibilities. But the feature that I was wanting to take advantage of was that I can now encode a file at a bit-rate of 64kbps, and a sample rate of 44100khz (or 44khz – for short). This is great because this means that we can keep the quality of the show but make the file size a bit smaller. As an estimate this means that our show will average 20MB to 22MB for 45 minutes to 55 minutes in length.

RazorLame Screen Shot 02

To take advantage of RazorLame you have to export the file from your audio editing software of choice as a .wav, it is this file that you select in RazorLame to encode to an .mp3. Remember to make sure you have enough disk space for this file as an hour show the file will be over 500MB. You can ten select the bit rate and the sample rate and other features that you may want to utilize. Then hit encode, that simple.

This is just another step in your editing process and one that should not be that hard to do. With the big payoff, a small price to pay.

I hope that this helps out all those podcasters out there who have had the same problem. For some reason the answer was hard to find. I dropped the problem here and in The Global Geek Podcast Blog and no-one responded with an answer. When I Googled the problem, I got my own blog entry stating the problem! So I decided to give the answer here as well!

Global Geek Podcast is Posted

Global Geek Podcast CoverArtVery pleased with this show. I just finished editing and writing up the show notes last night. It really is a great show and I enjoyed editing it and putting it up there. Every show is not without problems though!

So the part of the show that is usually hard, the editing, was a breeze. The hard part was the encoding of the file as an MP3! I wanted to drop the bit rate down to 64kbps, which I did. It was great, I had a show that was about 22MB, went for 50 minutes and still sounded great! But for some reason Audacity decided to change the sample rate to 24khz. The “project” was a 44khz project. So it should not have changed on the encode. So I ended up chatting to a few people and I got some advice and I tried it.

I exported the project as a wav file. So then the whole audio was mixed down in one continuous track at 44khz. This was done because it was speculated that perhaps some of the tracks that were added were influencing the output on the encode (for some reason). Anyway, I have this giganormous file and I open it up in Audacity and check all the bit and sample rates and I have everything set to encode the MP3 at 64kbps and the sample rate of 44khz. I encode the MP3 and the same bloody thing happens. On the encode the sample rate gets changed from 44 to 24khz. This can be a real problem for some web based flash players, they don’t like it and it speeds up the audio making it sound like chipmunks. Think of it like changing the RPM on the old vinyl.

So I do battle with Audacity for over two hours and get nowhere. I read forums and web pages to try to find out what was going on. Most web pages were an explanation of the difference between bit rates and sample rates, which is a difficult concept. But that was not my problem! So I gave up and decided that I was thinking about getting some commercial software anyway.

So if anyone out there uses Audacity and encodes their podcast at 64kbps could they please let me know what I am doing wrong? Thanks in advance.

But that did not ruin the show, the show was great and we had heaps of fun with it. If you have not listened to the show before then head on over to the homepage at The Podcast Network and check it out. You can even listen to the show off the web-page on the embeded player. I would prefer it if you were to subscribe though.

We have some great guests coming up as well, so stay tuned for that; it should be good. We have left it a bit before we got guests and interviews going for the show. We wanted to get comfortable with the show and getting it right as far as the audio and the editing.

So go get some geek over at The Global Geek Podcast. Remember to send us some feedback and let us know how we are doing with the show, but be nice. We do not mind honest but just saying it is shit because you think it is; is not nice.

This is supposed to be fun after all, thanks to our friends and supporters your positive comments have made the world of difference.