Category Archives: Media

"Messing with my man" — a musical project, with apologies to Steve Reich

Xeni Jardin over at Boing Boing posted this great voicemail message from a very angry young woman who accidentally left the message on a wrong number. Here’s the link to her post. I’m goofing around with some new audio gear this afternoon and decided to do a little fooling around with it. I hope she hears it some day, and uses it to direct her anger — she’s been done wrong!

This is a take off on a great Steve Reich piece called “It’s gonna rain” – here’s a link to get you started on that one.

And here’s a link to my little MP3 — it’s about 3 minutes long, 2.5 mBytes.


Recording Skype calls (for podcasting, but also interviews for work)

Ah. A completely satisfactory geek experience. Now that I've rassled most of the basic podcasting stuff into shape, I wanted to move on to doing interviews and conference calls and recording them — Ralph pointed out that Skype was the way to go.

Doug Kaye (the maestro of IT Conversations) put together this definitive post on how to record Skype calls. There are other ways, but this is definitely the industrial-strength approach.

I'm going to start doing “conversation” podcasts, but before that I'm going to use this to record an interview for a consulting project I'm working on — tomorrow. I have a little rant n'record that's going up on Sex and Podcasting about how you could use podcasting as an organizing tool for work (the show will go up in a day or two).

RSS as a replacement for databases

Safe Haven's not getting much attention these days because I'm still getting my sea legs with the podcasting stuff. Sex and Podcasting is gonna be getting a new post a day, at least for the next week.

But I ran into a cool thought while listening to The Gilmore Gang yesterday (what happened to them by the way — a great series of podcasts that seem to have trickled off to nothing back in February).

Here's the idea — why not use RSS on a manufacturing shop floor to let machines and work-centers tell each other (and us) what they're up to. Machines could “subscribe” to upstream machines, and “publish” for downstream machines and let each other know what's going on — feeds could talk about what came into (and left) the machine/work-center.

I spoze this could be expanded to anything that has stuff moving through stages — paperwork processes, hospitals, etc. All kinds of real-time applications come to mind.

One thing that would be neat is that we'd get away from the huge central database notion and so adding a workcenter, or rearranging them, would be easy. Simply a matter of changing who subscribed to what. Sortof an object-oriented model that us regular people could understand…

It could be really visual too — lots of cool UI possibilities there. Not to mention fitting in better with the notion of lean manufacturing, and visual management.

Now, back to podcasting.

Sex and Podcasting — my new podcasting gizmo

I’m late into the game — podcasting’s 5 months old, but I’m there now.

This blog has been neglected for the last couple weeks while I’ve been getting things pulled together, but I’m there now and this is an entry to record what I’ve learned. It’s going to be another really long one, so I’ll put topic headers and keywords (for Google) “above the fold” and leave the gory details for the “read more” section…

Sex and Podcasting — what it’s about, why I’m doing it, why I transmogrified Lorenzo’s “Sex and Broadcasting” book title into my site’s name, plus some of the interesting current developments in the podcast world like Adam Curry’s

Licensing — I’m going to play RIAA licensed music. At least I think so… This section is where I’ll explore the differences between ASCAP/BMI performance rights licenses, Harry Fox Agency mechanical rights licenses and SoundExchange federal copyright licenses and how I’ve decided to proceed — the short version is; I’ve got a BMI license for the performance rights, and will work with Harry Fox on mechanical rights when they decide what to do.

Equipment — hardware/software plus construction. I got a couple cool new toys — some nice mics plus a really neat Marantz PMD660 digital recorder (which i wound up getting in preference to the Edirol R1).

To learn more… Continue reading


Julio’s been writing about podcasting for (seemingly) ever — and i didn’t read any of the posts until today when he pointed folks at this great 4 Minutes About Podcasting movie.

NOW I get it!

Amazing — all of the “tell your own story” ethic of community radio, combined with all the cool “build your own feed” capability of RSS feeds, which results in “radio” that’s going to show up in Google.. If you’re a community-radio type person who hasn’t messed around with podcasting, go watch that movie — and then let your imagination run wild. I’m sitting here thunderstruck, realizing what the possibilities are…

What an amazing community technology. For example; you’re an organizer of (fill in the blank), laboring away in your local community. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to hear an occasional “show” about your cause, direct from the mouth of your inspirational mentor? If you’re an inspirational-mentor type person, wouldn’t it be great to periodically share your “show” with others?

Or, if you’re more like the typical community-radio programmer, wouldn’t it be great to reach the .0003% of the population of the planet who shares your passion about (fill in the blank)? Conversely, wouldn’t it be great to listen to shows produced by people who exactly share your tastes and views?

Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be broadcasters. Their days of being in any way relevant are numbered.

This one totally nifty technology. Thanks Julio for pointing me at the link that finally turned the light bulb on. I’m going to add useful links “below the fold” as I explore — to see that stuff, hit the “read more” button.

Bandwidth — A puzzler

The community radio movement was all about access to limited bandwidth (in our case, noncommercial FM channels). Podcasting is going to present an interesting bandwidth problem for the person with a really popular podcast — it’s going to slurp up a lot of bandwidth to deliver a 50 mByte file to thousands (millions?) of fans that are hungry for your stuff. Looks to me like we’ll need to marry BitTorrent with podcasting pretty soon now.

I’m really interested in the “how do you do it?” part of podcasting right now, so that’s what this first collection of links reflects.

Engadget provided a great starting point on this page about podcasting.

Creating podcasts is pretty straightforward — make a radio show, but pipe it off to an MP3 file when you’re done. I was Googling for “make a podcast” and got zillions of articles about how to make digital radio shows — lots of talk about mixers, and line-inputs-to-the-computer, and like that.

What I’m interested in right now is the RSS feed part — and the very last part of that Engaget article is what tipped me over to understanding. It all revolves around the notion of an “enclosure” in an RSS feed — something that most blog-creating software doesn’t grok yet, but I bet all off them will soon.

I think for now I’ll try just editing up my own RSS feed by hand rather than trying to force-feed Xoops (the software I’m using to create this blog). I’m going to use the XML file in the Engadget article as a template, build me a little “hello world” podcast and see how I do. But not right away. First I gotta finish helping Marcie lay down flooring in the upstairs room at the farm.

FreeVo — My home-brew Tivo, minus the monthly subscription fees

This is the latest geek project — reclaiming Robert’s old PC and transmogrifying it into a personal video recorder (PVR for short) with a Hauppauge PVR 350 and SageTV software.

Sure, I could have gone out and bought a Tivo or ReplayTV for about the same (or maybe a little less) money. But I see several advantages to doing it myself;

  • I get a glorious few weeks of primo geek tinkering/learning (in addition to the PVR stuff I found myself introduced to the “silent PC” geek sub-cult as I realized that the PC was making way too much noise to remain in the living room without modification)
  • I get a PVR that I can reconfigure (add disk, add more video cards, etc.) when I want to
  • I don’t have to pay a monthly fee to TiVo (I’m using SageTV software that sucks down the program guides off the web for free)
  • I can share/view the shows all over the home network
  • I can participate in EFF’s call to arms over the “broadcast flag” and be my own hardware vendor at the same time.

    This blog entry is my “notes to myself” to record the saga, and will serve as a reminder if I have to come back and retrace my steps at some point in the future. If you decide to do this, it might be a useful set of tips for you too. For the details… read on
    Continue reading

  • Rip Mix Burn Sue — a fantastic lecture by Edward Felton

    Ah. Every once in a while I come across a fantastic lecturer who illuminates a huge topic. Carl Sagan did that for me when i was at Cornell — I used to play hooky from classes and go sit in on his Astronomy 101 lectures (as did several hundred other folks).

    A less known example is Hubert Alyea who was a brilliant Princeton chemistry educator upon whom The Absent Minded Professor was modeled. He was a colleague of my Dad and I grew up listening to Professor Alyea's amazing chemistry lectures (from which the notion of Flubber emerged).

    Professor Felton (also at Princeton) is in this league in this lecture “Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue”. The stream's likely to be one of the best hours you can spend if you're interested in the digital media rights issue.

    Here are a few topics;

    – How Sandra Day O'Connor saved the fast forward button

    – A great explanation of how to digitize media

    – Technology convergence

    – The most important concept in Computer Science

    – The Celestial Jukebox and the Napster case

    – The Remix culture – Negativeland, the Grey album, Woody Guthrie

    – DVDJohn

    – The Fritz (Hollings) Chip

    And more. The whole stream is about an hour and a half, but I gave up at the Q&A session — the questions were long and badly recorded so I got tired of waiting. Same goes for the introductions — I skipped those as well. The lecture itself is an hour. Well worth every minute.

    National community-networking summit

    For you history buffs; Lorenzo Milam, Bill Thomas and I organized the first national community-radio-organizer gathering back in 1975. Held in Madison, WI, we called it NARC (national alternative radio convention). I, living in Madison, was responsible for the actual logistics of the conference and overlooked a few things. Like, places for people to stay… But it didn't matter because we all just sat around and talked to each other for 72 hours straight and then headed home.

    This conference — the 2004 National Summit for Community Wireless Networks looks to be the same kind of “ignition” event for the community wireless folks.

    Check out the “sponsor” links if you're interested in finding out who the movers and shakers are around the country. Looks like a pretty energetic bunch. I hope they have as much fun, and get as much started, as we did way back in Madison.

    RSS feeds for PR folks

    Ok, I’ve been one of the ones who took a long time to “get” blogging, so I’m probably going to preach with the enthusiasm of the recently-converted. But it seems to me that there is a tasty middle ground between the monsto-blogs (for example the New York Times front page) and the pipsqueak-blogs (like this one) in which lots of interesting things could happen. One that comes to mind is switching the PR industry away from “pushing” out their stuff (with web pages, email or gawd-forbid fax) towards publishing RSS feeds so that journalists can “subscribe” to their press-release stream and gain all the productivity gains that would arise if reporters could “cover their beat” by watching RSS feeds rather than slogging through the daily deluge…

    Nope, not a new idea by a long-shot — Mark Jones has exactly the same idea in

    this piece

    that ran in


    last November. But it’s worth amplifying, and explains why I’m starting to “get” blogging as a useful gizmo for the mainstream business type person.

    *My* revelation came while talking to the PR person at a large local outfit and asked him what his day was like. The story he told got me to thinking… He spends his day mostly rasslin’ with the logistics of getting his stuff *out* rather than actually writing. He’s held captive by Joe, The Webmaster From Hell to get the stuff out on their web site. He waits for the fax machine. He juggles a huge list of email addresses.

    If our hero had an RSS-capable blog at his disposal, he could push his own content to the web page, and reporters who cover his beat (of which there are many, this is a pretty important outfit he works for) would be able to peruse his stuff the way we watch RSS feeds. You know, “boring” “I don’t care” “yawn” “OH! Now *that’s* interesting…”

    I think both sides of the equation would be better off. The PR person would do more writing, the audience would do more reading and a lot of awful middle-stuff would be gone.

    I also think there are a lot of projects out there for blog-builders who want to get paid for their efforts. Package this up as the answer to the PR-maven’s problem and go to town.