Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Larry Dignan posted some interesting charts, graphs and figures today over at ZDNet looking at advertising revenue for the first half of 2008, compared to previous periods. He also asks what will happen to advertising revenue in the faltering economy. Good question.

What I know best is my experience, which is undoubtedly unique since this site is not exactly huge (about 750K pageviews/month). However, over the past few years I have watched my revenue trends from contextual advertising rise and fall. In these most recent "tough" times for the overall economy, my advertising numbers (meaning impressions, click-through rates, eCPM, daily revenue, etc.) have increased somewhat dramatically.

If you think about it, this could actually make some sense. Less discretionary, from-the-hip spending by various types of consumers means the market needs to find effective ways to reach out to buyers. In many cases, where consumers are looking to save a few bucks on a purchase, they will naturally turn to the Internet for better deals. So, maybe the Internet advertising world has a real opportunity.

My weblog and the few other site I have don't rely on financial services or automotive industry related advertising, granted. I could be way off base here. Yet I can't help but wonder what the second half will look like. I have at least some confidence it will weather this storm. Time will tell.


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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 07 October 2008 11:37:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 02 October 2008

Well, true to my own distracted form I realized about a month too late that this weblog turned five years old last month. I didn't get a chance to wish it "happy blogday," so I'll do so belatedly. Five years is quite a bit of time, yet it also seems as if it was all that long ago that I started this thing.

The site has gradually changed in terms of how I "use" it over time. Recently I've written less frequently than at times in the past, but when I do write I tend to write more in one sitting. I'm also writing (and speaking) elsewhere occasionally and splitting my time among a variety of other life activities these days.

Some of my favorite posts are from a few years ago (although some recent posts are on that list, too). My first post was decidedly non-technical (and reading it now I'm not even sure I'd write it today (but I'd probably say something on Twitter)). Well, okay - maybe I would write it. :)

I've gone through the server stress of being "slashdotted" and all sorts of other mega traffic deluges, and have been running dasBlog the entire time, thanks to the influence of my good friend Scott. I've written about some very personal topics as well as random technology tidbits that interest me. In five years I've authored 1,762 posts and people have commented on those posts more than 2,800 times. Somehow I've attracted a fairly large readership and Internet audience over the years (frequently over 600,000 page views a month), and for that I'm grateful and a bit humbled.

At any rate, it'll be interesting to see what's happening here (and on other weblogs, for that matter) in five more years.

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Thursday, 02 October 2008 19:39:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 15 August 2008

I just made a change on the blog, so my main RSS feed links now point to FeedBurner. You should not need to do anything to use the new feed - it's automagical. As a result of this change, some people might see duplicates of past entries. It's a one-time change (I hope), so thanks for putting up with it.

If you happen to subscribe to the feed for any single posting category here, that feed URL is unchanged.

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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | RSS Stuff
Friday, 15 August 2008 08:49:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 13 March 2008

When I record my audio for the RunAs Radio show, I'm typically sitting in my home office at my desk and using Audacity along with my Samson 01U USB microphone plugged into my Vista laptop. Audacity is an open-source program for all sorts of fancy audio recording, processing and editing. It's really pretty amazing.

Until fairly recently, Audacity was also pretty reliable. But about a month ago I started experiencing occasional crashes when trying to save and export the audio from my recording sessions. Now, if you think about for more than a couple seconds you'll quickly understand that crashes that occur after the interview is over, but before the file is saved, are extremely frustrating - and not just for me. A recording session do-over with three or more people involved in a 30- to 45-minute interview is really not a nice thing to have to ask for.

This morning Richard and I completed an interview with a guest. When I went to save the file, Audacity crashed. My heart sank, and my brain went into oh-crap-overdrive mode. I really did not want to be in the position of having to ask a busy guest to schedule more time to record an interview that had been quite good in the original session. I needed some magic.

I started thinking about temp files. The hard drive is always flashing away as I record the interviews, so something must be saved somewhere, right?

Sure enough, a quick search for *.au files on the hard drive uncovered nearly 400 files in a "_data" folder off the Audacity project's location. The date and time stamps on them made me feel a lot better - Phew! Each file appeared to contain 10 seconds of audio. The first one was stamped with the exact time we started recording the interview, and the last one with the time we stopped.

I imported all the .au files into Audacity, thinking I could just do that and I'd be good to go. But it turns out Audacity doesn't import files one-after-the-other on the timeline. Instead, it imports them as if they were almost 400 individual tracks in a single 10-second audio project. I started the click-cut-end-paste process, and quickly realized it was going to take literally hours to fix this problem manually.

(Also, just for fun I decided to see if the program would actually play a 10-second project session with 400 tracks in it. No dice.)

I quickly gave up on the cut-paste option in search of something better. What I found was the aptly-named Audacity Recovery Utility. Apparently I'm not the only one who's needed to recover recorded audio seemingly lost during application crashes. It's a Python app and can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux.

The program is simple in its execution. You point it at a folder and it looks for audio files, tries to determine if they are all one block/set, or if they're more than one, and then attempts to put them together into a single .WAV file that you can then import back into Audacity (or anywhere else for that matter) for editing and processing.


The app will confirm what it finds and give you a chance to stop it from proceeding.


Tell it "Yes" and the program starts processing the temp files.


Out the other end, you'll eventually get a .WAV file that you can use.

Sure saved my backside today. Thanks to the author! By the way, supposedly Audacity 1.3.2 and newer (which is a beta release right now, not the stable version) have crash recovery built in. I'll probably have to check that out, as well.

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AudioBlogging | RunAs Radio | Tech
Thursday, 13 March 2008 13:43:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 13 November 2007

I'm doing more and more audio recording lately, and between a little dictation, some random music recording and more importantly the interview needs for the Internet IT talk show I co-host, I decided to go ahead and purchase my own portable digital recording system and microphones.

ZOOM_H4Note: I'm going to explain what I was looking for and a little bit about why, but before I do that let me cut to the chase and tell you that I bought a Zoom H4 Handy Recorder (lots of details at that link) and a couple Shure Beta 87A microphones with the appropriate cables. The feature set of the H4 turns out to be amazing, and I'm pretty excited about using it. I can also tell you that my early initial tests are quite encouraging quality-wise, but the real test will come over the next several weeks as I go to conferences and other places and get to put the gear through some real-world paces.

I had a number of priorities on my list when I started looking for a recorder. In a perfect world I'd get all of them. Wouldn't a perfect world be nice? Anyhow... The priorities were:

High-priority items

  • High-quality digital audio - Simply put, the fidelity of the recorded sound must be terrific, clean and without distortion, and I have to be able to count on the recording to be properly timed (not compressed or stretched when compared to other recordings from the same session).
  • Ability to use two or more external microphones with phantom power built into the recorder - Depending on the various mics I might throw at it, phantom power may or may not be needed.
  • Digital recording to commonly-used removable media, preferably SD cards - I already have a number of SD cards that I use for various purposes, and my laptop and other equipment all have SD slots, so it just makes sense.
  • Ability to leverage storage above 2GB - If I'm buying SD cards, I want to be able to buy high density, large capacity ones, and many devices are limited to 2GB.
  • Easy to get recorded files to the PC for editing.
  • Uncompressed audio capability and multiple bitrates to choose from.
  • Usability - It needs to make sense to use and I have to be able to set options and use it without earning a graduate degree in the ABC-brand device.
  • Small and portable in size - Ideally the microphones should be the largest part of what I have to carry around.
  • Removable batteries - The industry is rife with stories of devices that have built-in batteries that can't be serviced by the owner, which in my book is over the edge of ridiculous.
  • Runs on AC power as an option.
  • Firmware upgradable - Audio gear is also famous for being buggy, so I want to be able to download new firmware and apply it myself.
  • It has to be under $500.00 or else it's off the list.

Lower-priority items (good- or nice-to-have)

  • A built-in microphone for quick recording and portability would be nice for quick and dirty sessions and open environments (non-interview or -instrument or what have you), but it has to be of high-quality, or else it just doesn't do me any good.
  • Native MP3 recording as an option - if the quality is there, I want to have the option to record in this (compressed) mode since much of the time that's where it will end up, so in some cases it may help save some time and storage space to create native MP3s at a high bitrate.
  • Let me plug it straight into my PC or laptop via USB to move files, ala drag-and-drop.
  • As long as we have USB transfers, powering the device over USB 2.0 would be perfect for all those I'm-out-of-battery moments.
  • Instrument capabilities - I'd like to be able to plug my guitar in and record away, for example.
  • Guitar tuner built in - as long as it's plugged in, why not?
  • Multi-track mode - While we're at it, more than two channels to record on would be nice. I'll record the guitar and then add the vocals or another instrument later. Yeah I know, asking for a lot.
  • One button for really easy - even magical - menus and navigation. I'm thinking about interfaces like you find on the Zune, iPod or even iPhone (I can dream eh?), etc. here -- easy to use and quick to do stuff.
  • And a price under $300.00 would be even better, please (for the recorder only that is, the external mics are going to freakin' be a couple hundred bucks each, I know that).

So, how did I fare? At $243.0, the price was right, so that's a good start. The Zoom H4 meets almost all the requirements on my list (which is why I bought it), with a couple notable exceptions. The navigation and controls are not exactly simple (which is ironic since they call it their "handy recorder"), as you have to juggle a jog wheel with one hand and a directional button control with the other to establish your settings and navigate the menu. The screen is small, very small.

But, the latest upgrade of the H4 software (v2.0 which I had to download and apply to my new device as it was just recently released) makes some improvements to the readability of the screen, plus it does things like add support for the larger SD-HC cards up to 8GB (yay!) and a variety of other improvements as well as some cool new features. There have been five updates to the H4 software released over about the last year providing fixes and enhancements, which shows they're seriously improving as they go - a good sign.

My first experience recording with the H4 was a good one. We recorded two live shows for RunAs Radio at the Microsoft Dev Connections conference. I found a problem though when I tried to use my new microphones and cables. I had bought XLR-to-1/4 inch phono cables, not paying close enough attention to the jacks on the Zoom recorder, which can take either 1/4 inch or XLR on a combo socket. The problem is that the only way the recorder's phantom power works is if you plug in an XLR connection - There is no phantom power available when you plug in a 1/4-inch jack. So, I had to replace the cables I bought with the ones I need.

I've used the recorder in some test scenarios as well as in one formal, must-work recording session, and it performed very well. I've also just arrived in Barcelona, Spain for TechEd Europe, where I'll be recording a number of interviews. So, after this week I will be able to do a hands-on review. So far, so good, and I anticipate the same results after using the H4 as a production recorder.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2007 02:47:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 27 September 2007

Arjan Zuidhof, a .NET software engineer in the Netherlands comments briefly on his linkblog regarding our recent podcast show and interview about being a DBA:

"When was the last time *you* listened to a podcast? Honestly? One of the things I know I should do more, but, ahh, the lack of time is standing in the way. Still, learning how to be a better DBA is definitely a healthy career path if you don't know where to go..."

That got me thinking. Arjan's point seems to be consistent with those of many others, and truthfully I have to include myself in that list of people who have found podcast consumption to be too hard from time to time. I have found myself wondering aloud and to myself how in the world anyone can possibly  get the technology to work seamlessly, find and organize podcasts, have them in a place where they can be consumed, and still find the time to actually listen to them.

And then there's the whole (somewhat true) problem I refer to as the "most-podcasts-suck" phenomenon. It can be painful and a bit of work to find a good show, let alone stick with it.

But some of the best learning I have done over the past year or two has been from podcasts, so I can tell you there is a tangible benefit. I listen to a total of maybe 6 or 7 podcasts, and I listen whenever I find I have the time. I don't listen to every episode in its entirety, either - it has to keep my interest. I also don't plan it all out or have a podcast listening schedule. And I have found that's important for me if I am going to be part of the podcast "listernership."

The first thing I had to do was to have a set of tools that make it possible to listen without having to think about it. Here are the tools that I have found actually make it possible, in my real world:

  1. iTunes - Love it or hate it, the fact of the matter is, iTunes makes subscribing to and consuming podcasts freakin' easy. And on top of that, you get show ratings, the podcast directory on the iTunes store, and a lot more. Plus, when you consider that the producers of a podcast have to work to get their show into iTunes, it's raises the bar slightly and as a result the signal to noise ratio is a little lower.
  2. The Mac Mini on my kitchen counter - With some compact speakers and the iTunes client running on it, I just load the Added recently playlist and listen. Obviously, this could be a Windows machine or whatever. The point is, in the space where you spend your time, it's good to have the ability to let stuff play in the background, and your primary iTunes subscription point show be there.
  3. iPod (or iPhone in my case) - The thing that matters the most here is that you need to have it with you all the time. Truth be told, my iPod saw so little use day-to-day that I seriously consider that particular purchase to be a waste of money. I have a friend who has actually used it much more than me. But the iPhone, on the other hand, goes everywhere with me. As a result, the iPod content on the phone actually gets listened to. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this point: Listening needs to be something you just do. The planning part should be limited to the discovery of and subscription to content. After that, the whole idea is to focus energy on the shows, not the delivery mechanism. Else you'll find yourself frustrates and giving up. And that's, well, pointless.

I'm a Windows and Wintel guy primarily, so you might be surprised to see the glaring consistency in manufacturer above. Get over it, I did. And it works. That's what matters. 

My point here is this: The time it takes to actually listen to podcasts is often confused and munged with the time it takes to be able to listen to podcasts. I'm not saying that Arjan's situation is specifically that, but rather his comments caused me to think through some common frustrations based on my own experience and the experiences of others.

I've heard many people say they just can't find the time for it. I know I certainly get frustrated with shows that ramble on and on and present nothing useful. That's why - for example - Scott Hanselman's excellent Hanselminutes podcast is intentionally compact and focused on a specific audience, and it's why we work hard to keep RunAs Radio around 30 minutes per show and focused on topics for IT professionals.

What I've found is that if you can work out the technology part of things, and then be willing to spend a little bit of time here and there glancing at recommendations made by others and which fill your own interests, you can learn and consume a lot of good stuff in the "between" time (and still have time left over for other stuff).

For those who roll their eyes and doubt, here's my "preachy" thought for the moment - for what it's worth: If your schedule won't allow you to listen to a podcast every week or two (and this statement is coming from a true workaholic, people) you might want/need to take a hard look at your schedule and figure out what's wrong with it. Missing out on good information, whether it be written or recorded or what have you, is an unfortunate and damning side effect of too-much-ness. We all got to where we are today by learning, and stopping now really isn't an option - unless our goals are to slide backward and relegate ourselves to being second-best. There should be time for family and friends, time for yourself, and then time for work.

Anyhow, a special thanks to Arjan for making me think. :)

Do you listen to podcasts? Or do you find you can't? Why or why not? What is the one thing podcast producers could do today that would make a real difference to you, the kind of difference that would make it really worthwhile for you to spend some time with them?

Ready? Discuss!

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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 27 September 2007 07:04:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 20 May 2007

RunAs Radio Show Number Six is now online. I'm a few days late in posting this, but Wes Miller (who worked in the past at Winternals and Microsoft) sat down with Richard and me to talk about the future, benefits and issues around 64-bit Windows in the Server and Vista flavors.

RunAs Radio Show #6 | 5/16/2007 (34 minutes)
Wes Miller on our 64-bit Future

In late 2004, Wes left Microsoft to work for Winternals Software (which was then acquired by Microsoft in 2006), in Austin, Texas, where he currently resides. Wes currently works at Pluck (http://www.pluck.com) in Austin as a Development Manager. His area of Windows focus is generally enterprise deployment, lifecycle management and security.

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

We welcome your input and ideas - Just email info@runasradio.com and let us know what's on your mind! We might even read your email on the air, and we are always interested to know what you would like to hear about as we book our guests.

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AudioBlogging | RunAs Radio | Tech
Sunday, 20 May 2007 09:27:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 11 May 2007

RunAs Radio Show Number Five is now online. Richard and I speak with John Savill about application virtualization. This is not the same things as server virtualization (or virtual machines), but instead is about virtualized instances of software apps. For organizations that are distributed (more and more of us as time goes on), app virtualization is a cool things to look into. John does a great job of explaining app virtualization and gives some examples of how it works and can be leveraged.

RunAs Radio Show #5 | 5/9/2007 (36 minutes)
John Savill on Application Virtualization

John Savill is Director of Technical Infrastructure for Geniant. He is a CISSP, a Security and Messaging MCSE on Windows Server 2003, an eight-time MVP, and a Krav Maga instructor. He is also the author of Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Design and Implementation from Packt Publishing. 

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

We welcome your input and ideas - Just email info@runasradio.com and let us know what's on your mind! We might even read your email on the air, and we are always interested to know what you would like to hear about as we book our guests.

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AudioBlogging | RunAs Radio | Tech
Friday, 11 May 2007 07:20:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 25 April 2007

So, Carl let us know this morning that in the first two weeks of RunAs Radio, there have been 13,588 downloads - a figure that pleasantly surprised me - Pretty exciting!

And we're keeping at it: RusAs Radio Show Number Three is now online. Richard and I spoke with Dana Epp of Scorpion Software about CardSpace and the future of access management and authentication:

RunAs Radio Show #3 | 4/22/2007 (35 minutes)
Dana Epp talks CardSpace on the Client-Side

Richard and Greg speak to Microsoft Security MVP Dana Epp about Microsoft's CardSpace initiative for secure authentication. They hint at another show focusing on the server side.

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

We welcome your input and ideas - Just email info@runasradio.com and let us know what's on your mind! We have a couple good shows coming up in the next weeks, and are always wanting to know what you would like to hear about as we book our guests.

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AudioBlogging | IT Security | RunAs Radio | Tech
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 20:07:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 16 April 2007

I've listened to several recordings of myself over the past couple weeks, thanks to the fact that we've recently started producing RunAs Radio, a weekly tech podcast. As I mentioned on the launch date, I am co-host with Richard Campbell. It's fun so far. We have a couple more shows "in the can" that will run very soon where we'll speak with smart and knowledgeable people about technology topics that matter.

I have found - as do most people, I think - that I really dislike hearing my own recorded voice. Honestly, it drives me nuts. Both metaphorically and physically speaking, nothing sounds the same inside our own heads as it does to the outside world. So when we hear a recording of our own voices, we tend to cringe - especially when we realize that's what we really sound like.

But the interviewing is fun, and Richard is a great guy to work with, so I have been enjoying the process. Some people tell me they're wondering what equipment I ended up with for the project. I bought a few things last week to set myself up (I had been borrowing Scott Hanselman's stuff for the first show and some testing). So, here goes:

The microphone is a Samson C01U USB studio condenser mic, which plugs straight into the computer's USB port and is recognized by Windows without any additional drivers. There is some fancy software available for Windows XP that can be used to pre-mix and some other fancy stuff, but for my use on Vista, I just plugged in and went. And it works great. For about $80 you can't really beat the quality. It's a solid, good sounding mic.

The mic is suspended in an audio-technica AT8415 anti-shock mount, which is one of those nifty rings with a bunch of rubber bands that keeps the noise from bumps, vibrations and other environmental noise away from the microphone. It can make a huge difference. I scooped up the anti-shock mount for $19 at a local store - it was in a box barely used without a price, and they were happy to sell it. New they sell for much more.

The desk stand is a short, basic Atlas Sound model that sells for under $20 and stands about ten inches tall when it's collapsed. It has a heavy padded base.

Finally, I bought a pop filter, which for all intents and purposes is just a fancy ring with nylon material (a lot like pantyhose) stretched across it, plus an articulating gooseneck mount that you can clamp to the mic stand. You just position it between your mouth and the mic.  The pop filter helps to ensure your P's and T's and what-not don't result in loud popping sounds to the mic - It keeps the harshness and resulting rush of wind from those types of syllables to a minimum. I didn't buy the most expensive model, and we'll just have to see whether or not I should have.

The way we record the show is a little different than most podcasters probably used to. RunAs Radio, like other shows done by Pwop Productions, is a fully-produced show, meaning a human being actually goes through the recording tracks, lines them up, cleans them all up and produces the final cut of the show. Quality of the sound is important to the producers. For my part, my voice is actually recorded twice during the interviews: Once by Richard over the phone on a system he has set up there, and a second time locally and in a high-quality mode on my computer using the mic setup described above and some special audio recording software from Pwop. The Pwopcaster software lets me set the mic levels, test, record and then upload the audio files to the Pwop studio, and they take it from there. My uploaded voice track is synched up with the phone track of my voice from Richard's multi-track recording, the audio is cleaned up for noise and edited for sneezes and such, and there you have it - RunAs Radio.

Of course, it's not really that simple - post-production is the hard part. The fact of the matter is that the main thing that makes it possible for me to participate in this show on my schedule is the fact that I only have to do the easy part: Chatting with smart people about interesting tech topics. I've turned down several requests and opportunities to participate in podcasts in the past simply because I did not have the time to do it all by myself and do it well. With this opportunity as long as I suit up and show up, we're good to go. And that's something I can work to make time for.

Stay tuned for more editions of RunAs Radio - coming very soon!

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AudioBlogging | RunAs Radio | Tech
Monday, 16 April 2007 14:02:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 10 April 2007

What better way to spend your "I am officially old" day than doing something completely new? As of today, a new podcast called RunAs Radio, hosted by Richard Campbell and co-hosted by Yours Truly, is being launched. Richard writes in a bit more detail about it on his weblog.

It's a weekly IT podcast with a Microsoft technologies focus. Richard and I will discuss all sorts of relevant topics with a variety of smart and interesting people. I am excited and looking forward to being a part of this project.

RunAs Radio was launched on April 11, 2007 with a nod from its sister show, .NET Rocks!, which started as a weekly downloadable mp3 in August, 2002! Coincidentally, the first RunAs Radio show features Patrick Hynds, who was also the first guest on .NET Rocks!

I have acquired a nice new mic and accessories to make some high quality recordings (but I will save the details for another post).

We hope you enjoy the show, and of course you should let us know what you think. The show is professionally produced by the great people at Pwop Productions.

Show #1 | 4/11/2007 (46 minutes)
Pat Hynds on Storage Technology

Patrick Hynds from Critical Sites kicks off this all-new Microsoft-centric IT podcast with a discussion about storage. This show is atypically long. We're trying for 30 minutes per show.

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

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AudioBlogging | Tech | RunAs Radio
Tuesday, 10 April 2007 22:56:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 17 June 2006

What podcasts do you listen to? Which ones actually keep you coming back?

Honestly, there are so few podcasts out there that I can stand to listen to anymore. I deleted a whole slew of podcast subscriptions the other day because I felt like I was wasting massive amounts of time on those occasions when I did listen, and because many of them have simply turned me off completely and therefore got skipped over and never listened to (and honestly that's most of them).

What are my pet peeves? Okay, here's my harsh list for what will cause me to kill the audio before the podcaster even gets started.

  • Any podcast that opens with anything even remotely like "your speakers are about to blow up" or "warning, "the sound you're about to hear may cause damage." Give me a break. Everyone says that, and the only potential damage is me pushing a pencil through my ear to drown out the un-original intro.
  • Don't say "welcome to the world of (anything)." That's as lame as the movie trailers that start with "In a world..." People laugh and cringe at the same time. And it's sad when cringing is accompanied by uncomfortable laughter.
  • Open your show with "blahblah podcast" plus the date and then never use the word podcast ever again. Use of the word "podcast" more than once in any single sentence, or in more than one sentence in a row should be a felony. Agh. I know it's a freakin' podcast, it's not like it magically found its way onto my computer - I had to do all kinds of work to find it and access it. Tell me something I don't know and (here comes the 'o' word again) original.
  • As much as it might mean to you, chances are nobody else especially wants you to pontificate about how you and your girlfriend celebrated her 31st birthday this past weekend. In fact, your girlfriend probably doesn't want you saying it either...
  • Podcasts about podcasting. Uh, yeah.
  • Crappy indie music. Note that I have nothing against independent music if it's good. But any music that's bad (indie or otherwise) is bound to drive away listeners. The operative word is 'crappy.' If you played "We Built This City" on your podcast opener, I'd probably click the 'Close' button, too.
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Seriously, you don't need a blog entry with the same copy/paste text on the page for every episode. I'm reading to see what's different, not what's the same. I already unsubscribed from the podcast, don't tempt me to do the same with the blog.
  • Snot noises (sniffling, etc). Seriously, blow your nose or take a decongestant or something.
  • "So I thought I would talk about something like that and so ummm yeah so uh I am going to talk about that now..." GAH!

They can't all be that bad...

Anyhow, my new goal is to find 10 awesome podcasts that attract, deserve and retain my attention. Let me know if you have suggestions.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Random Stuff
Saturday, 17 June 2006 10:14:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 29 January 2006

The Microsoft Download Center has a new audio podcast available (MP3 and WMA formats are listed) titled "How Microsoft IT Implements Encryption Using SQL Server 2005."

Podcasts appear to be a new thing there (first one was posted on January 19th), although I am not sure the technical name of "podcast" is accurate in this case, since I don't find a RSS Subscription feed anywhere that points to the files, and that's kind of half of what makes it a podcast. If anyone can find a RSS feed for these, please let me know.

But at any rate, there's some good content there. If you're an IT pro looking for some good drive time geek out audio, click here to search for podcasts on Microsoft Downloads. I'm grabbing "Podcasts: How Microsoft Information Security Protects Critical Information Assets" for my flight to North Carolina on Monday. Between that and the Battlestar Galactica season one video, I think I'll have plenty of content to keep me busy between powerpoint deck edits.

(via Chris Pirillo)

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AudioBlogging | IT Security | Tech
Sunday, 29 January 2006 22:34:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 15 January 2006

People are certainly interesting, especially when given the ability and opportunity to say whatever's on their minds uninterrupted. Whether they should or not. Of course, "should" is a relative term, determined by both listener and speaker. And they won't always agree.

Brad Fitzpatrick - of LiveJournal fame -  has created a continuous stream of public Internet audio blog posts recorded by LiveJournal users. I think I'll call it Brad's People Aggregator. It's colorful, random, strange and interesting. Sometimes funny, sometimes just crude. And you never know what you'll hear (good, bad or otherwise).

NOTE that the language and content of the audio posts is almost guaranteed to contain loud, crude, vulgar language.

People dial in to a number that allows them to post to their LiveJournal accounts. It's apparent that elevators and airports bring out interesting behavior in people. Now, I'm not so sure recording an audio post about your marijuana growing operation is really all that great an idea - but whatever. Also not convinced that talking about the court date you just had and how you have to go to the mental health office for your appointment is a great idea, but again, whatever... It's certainly an honest and unique slice of the real world, and that means real people (along with their collective reasoning, language, intelligence and behavior).

I suppose it's a great way to discuss and complain about stuff, but in a way where no one is there to tell you why you're SO FREAKIN' WRONG. Heh. Hmmm, there's probably some serious psychology to be done there - Something about how our interconnected world actually makes us more isolated even though everyone is so "close."

Here's the link...


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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff
Sunday, 15 January 2006 09:11:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 08 August 2005

Astronaut Steve Robinson has done the first Podcast from space... Say what you want about Podcasting. You have to admit that when someone does it from the space shuttle, that's pretty big deal.

And to think a year ago nobody had ever heard of podcasting...

Listen here (MP3)

"At any rate I will close this very brief first podcast from space with a greeting to all Earthings and a thank you for your interest and support. Whether you support the space program or not, you're learning from it. You're learning from it the very moment you hear this and think about what we're doing. And I think that learning is what looking over the horizon is all about, and don't forget that learning can be exciting and fun, too, because that's certainly what this mission has been all about."

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AudioBlogging | Geek Out | Random Stuff
Monday, 08 August 2005 10:54:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 07 August 2005

Here's a shameless plug of my very own... I guest-co-hosted the Tablet PC Show with James Kendrick today, filling in for the one and only (and much-better-at-this-than-me) Marc Orchant. It's been published, so check it out if you like:

The TABLET PC Show #19 (MP3 - 21MB - 60min)


Marc Orchant was away but guest co-host Greg Hughes graciously stepped in and we have an action packed show. Greg fills us in on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet PC that he’s been lucky enough to use for the past month so anyone interested in this fine convertible (or those anxiously awaiting delivery) will get some good information to take away. After the break we shift focus to the hot topic of the week, WindowsVista Beta 1, and round up the information that is starting to emerge from those brave enough to install it on a Tablet PC. Enjoy the show and as always we appreciate your feedback! (We missed you Marc!)

The Tablet PC Show #19 (MP3 - 20.9MB - 61min)

00:00 Intro- Greg Hughes & James Kendrick

05:45 Greg has a Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC

25:00 The Podcast Network

26:00 WindowsVista Beta 1 information roundup

eWeek- will your Tablet run Vista?
Random Elements- Colin Walker installs the beta
Greg punches a cat in the face
IE7 panning with a pen
Tablet PC team has a blog
Speech recognition- command and dictation fused
Ink Analysis in Vista

60:00 Wrap up

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, 07 August 2005 09:44:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I just finished spending an hour or so conversing about one of my favorite topics with James Kendrick (jkOnTheRun) as a "guest host" on The Tablet PC Show. As is often the case in the podcast world, we used Skype to communicate and JK recorded and produced the thing on this side of the connection. We talked about the X41 Tablet PC (of course) and then spent a bunch of time bouncing around different Windows Vista on the Tablet PC topics.

You can listen to the show by visiting this link.

I had a lot of fun doing this. Thanks to JK and Marc Orchant (the real co-host of the show, who was out of town this weekend) for the opportunity. James made it easy for me, and hopefully it turned out ok.

If you're visiting here from the show and wondering who the heck I am, check this link. Tablet PC stuff I have written about in the past is available here.

If you're a regular reader here and want to see what podcasting and The Tablet PC show are all about, check out the show's web site right here.

There are a couple things I *have* to do now that I've spoken about them out loud:

  • Get this Windows Vista ISO image to freakin' work - I must have a bad DVD burner or something, as I am consistently making coasters (and then, of course, install it and the additional Tablet bits on a Tablet PC).
  • Revisit the speech recognition capabilities of the Tablet PC - James says he uses it all the time, and I am thinking I may not be taking it seriously enough in terms of daily use, so I want to check it out again.

This whole podcasting/audio show/Internet conversation/etc thing is fun and cool. And, depending on how it's used, I think it can be a great medium for certain styles and forms of content delivery - especially interactive conversations.

Anyhow, the 19th edition of the Tablet PC Show has been posted, so check it out. I'll post a link to the show when it's up. Hopefully I won't sound like a complete dork (but I probably will, heh).

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AudioBlogging | Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, 07 August 2005 03:11:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 05 August 2005

Skylook marries Skype - the uber-popular voice and text communication app - with Outlook, the ubiquitous mail and personal organizer app from Microsoft.

UPDATE:  After using this program for a day or so and speaking with a couple others who have also used it, I have a few additional thoughts:

  • I'd like to be able to increase/decrease the MP3 sampling bit-rate - right now it's fixed at a fixed setting of mediocre audio quality
  • I'd like to be able to specify which chats and voice calls are recorded - right now it records them all, which is cumbersome
  • Generally, I'd prefer being able to tweak all the little details across the board - give me control while keeping it simple
  • There's a real need for a complete, solid, Skype/VoIP recorder that builds in and doesn't have to be rigged together with bubble gum and duct tape.

Another UPDATE: Jeremy Hague of the Skylook team sent along this information (Aug 8):

"I thought that you would be interested to know that we are planning on introducing some new features in response to the customer feedback (mostly from podcasters, which is really cool) we have received in the first week.  We are planning on introducing some advanced configuration options to enhance the MP3 recording that Skylook produces.   In a future version, the user will be able to control the bitrate of the MP3 file, information that Skylook can populate into the ID3 tags… along with support for other audio file formats."

Skylook builds right into Outlook - in the form of a toolbar - and enables you to record your Skype conversations as high so-so quality MP3 files for playback later. This makes it a potentially useful tool for Podcasters, who often use Skype in combination with a spaghetti mess of piping and recording apps to conduct collaborative conversations and interviews over the Internet (NOTE: The audio quality may not be high enough for many podcasters, so allowing users to tweak these settings would be important). Obviously, the major benefit of recording this way is that it enables an easy way to speak with people that would otherwise often not happen. It removes the need to sit in the same room with the other participants while still providing reasonable-quality audio.

It allows you to make Skype calls and start Skype text chats directly from your Outlook contacts and emails. It shows you which of your contacts in on-line in the Outlook toolbar and provides options to review contact details and review previous communications with the contact. Skylook not only records all your voice calls, it also records your text chats to a special Outlook folder.

I did a quick voice chat this evening with Eric Rice to try it out. We were not using headsets, so we had the inevitable echo, but the Skylook app did a great job. It just did its thing in the background without any problem, and when we hung up, I "magically" saw a dialog on the screen:


I clicked the "Show me" button, and it took me straight to my filed recording:


And it files the text chats right there with the audio, filed all neat and clean just like an email would be. It's really very slick in that regard.

I'll have to give it a shot maybe this weekend, when apparently I will be guest-hosting on a podcast I really like a lot. More on that after it happens. :-)

You can download Skylook here and try it for a couple weeks. After that some functions are disabled, do you can buy it here for $29.95.

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AudioBlogging | Tech
Friday, 05 August 2005 21:51:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 15 July 2005

Come geek out this weekend. Bring a friend, your audio gear and a camera (or just yourself if that's easier), and lets do some podcasting and videoblogging as the Podcast and Videoblog Roadshow comes to Portland, Oregon. It happens Saturday at noon downtown.

Podcasting, videoblogging, audioblogging, etc. Get creative. Fun stuff. 

All the obligatory W's: 

See ya there.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Friday, 15 July 2005 21:20:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 03 June 2005

Blogging is reaching new heights. While Scoble's blogging from the seat of an airliner with WiFi on a trip to Europe on his way to a geek dinner (sounds like fun), a group of 20 police officers and companion climbers are slowly but steadily audioblogging their way to the rugged summits of Denali in Alaska (20,320 feet) and Humphreys Peak in Arizona (12,634 feet).

Using a satellite phone in Alaska and mobile phones in Arizona, the officers are calling in to a special phone number at audioblog.com, which immediately posts their voice recordings to the Climbers' Weblog at copsontop.com.

Both teams will strive this weekend to summit the mountains as a memorial to honor the lives, service and sacrifices of police officers Eric White and Jason Wolfe, both of the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department. Officers White and Wolfe were killed in the line of duty on August 28, 2004, while searching for a suspect who had just shot another man in the chest.

The officers are members and representatives of Cops on Top, a non-profit organization of police officers and others who execute memorial expeditions to remember peace officers killed in the line of duty. The audioblogging technology enables the teams to document their progress in real time, and to reach the families and friends of those fallen officers who are honored on each expedition.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Helping Others | Tech
Friday, 03 June 2005 20:25:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 20 May 2005

I'm watching FOX12 News here in Portland, and they just ran a story about Podcasting. The pointed out that it's even gone commercial, and had a quick interview with a guy from Centennial Wines - http://www.centennialwines.com/ - which apparently has a podcast available (I only see one episode, but maybe I am missing something).

Anyhow, TV is pushing the message of podcasting all the way into your living room on the newscast. That's gotta mean something.

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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Friday, 20 May 2005 21:50:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 04 April 2005

Oh, how I wish this SharePoint podcast series was available in English! But, it's only in German. I know some German (took three years classes in school), and I have been listening to it and trying really hard to pick up the content of the podcast, with little success. I'm just too out-of-date to be able to catch it all.

http://www.sharepointpodcast.de/ - with Michael Greth

The only thing I can tell for sure is that there's plenty of info in there that I'd like to be able to understand better, so I am relying on the links on the weblog to help me understand more. I'm also looking at this as a way to help refresh my German (maybe, it's tech lingo so that can be difficult) before my trip to Germany this fall.

Anyone know of any SharePoint podcasts in English? Hmmmm, maybe I should think about podcasting after all... Anyone out there want to co-host a SharePoint podcast?

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AudioBlogging | Office 2003 | SharePoint | Tech
Monday, 04 April 2005 21:01:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 20 March 2005

Speaking of audioblog.com, Eric pointed out to me that he and the others over there have been busy:

[9:59:12 PM] Eric Rice says: added some crazy mad new features to audioblog
[9:59:18 PM] Eric Rice says: podcasting without needing a blog
[9:59:18 PM] Greg Hughes says: yeah?
[9:59:25 PM] Eric Rice says: and recording to MP3 right over the web

Come to think of it, I read that on Friday, but I have not had a chance to check it out yet.

Eric made a QT movie that shows how to make podcast RSS feeds with audioblog.com, and how to record your podcasts straight to MP3 online, with nothing but your web browser pointed to your audioblog.com account.

Upload an audio file, record it online with the browser, or call it in... All three ways will let you create your podcasts anyplace, anytime. You don't even need a text weblog to do this, just audioblog.com and it's enclosure feeds - cool stuff!

By the way, there's video enclosures on the system, too... Videoblogging feeds - hmmm!

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AudioBlogging | Tech
Sunday, 20 March 2005 22:24:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A friend of mine from the online world (and big shot from audioblog.com), Eric Rice, has taken over the Engadget "airwaves" and is now hosting the Engadget podcast.

Eric's a cool guy, and it's great to have an Engadget podcast back online. It's a tough room to play to, but Eric will do well with it.

Check it out here. The Podcast feed is here.

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AudioBlogging | Geek Out | Tech
Sunday, 20 March 2005 22:05:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 13 January 2005

I’ve been an audioblog.com customer for some time, and have always liked their product. I have not used it much in the past, but recently I found a perfect use for their service.

Cops on Top has a team of 13 climbers – police officers and a couple civilians – in Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro, making a climb to the summit of Africa’s biggest mountain in memory of fallen Officer Isaac Espinoza of the San Francisco Police Department.

They have a satellite phone with them, and are calling in audio blog updates using the sat phone. As soon as they call in an update, it’s posted instantly to the Cops on Top web site’s climbers weblog.

Imagine that – technology now allows a group of people in the furthest corners of the world to instantly file an audio recording update to a web site, so people everywhere can know what’s happening, right now.

I had a configuration problem the other day as I was trying to get the service running for the Cops in Top site, and Eric over at audioblog.com helped out and made a quick fix that allowed us to solve the issue and get the service working. Righ then, right there, solved the problem and made sure it was working for me. True service. Nice.

If you’re geeky and have a blog, give audioblog.com a try – it’s nifty stuff and works well.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 13 January 2005 21:41:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 06 January 2005

My gnome friend Brandon Watts jumped on the proverbial horse and rode straight out the barn on his first PodCast earlier today. And all in all, he did a fine job.

If you have not heard about Brandon before, here's a little info:

  • He wrote his own programming language for beginners, called Leopard, a couple years ago.
  • He's 18 years old now.
  • He's wicked smart.
  • He writes for Lockergnome and has had his writing featured in a variety of print and online media.
  • He has a pretty darn good radio voice.
  • He has a blog.

Check out his podacst (for the uninitiated, podcasting's this new thing that all the kids are doing with MP3 files and easy-to-use-and-distribute audio shows). Let him know what you think.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging
Thursday, 06 January 2005 23:49:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Chris Pirillo is a well-known geek and all around goofy (and smart and good) guy. He founded Lockergnome and did a show for TechTV back before that network went straight to crap.

He’s starting his new weekly audio broadcast today, two-and-a-half hours of live talk from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). His show’s new website is online and the live broadcast starts at 11:30am Pacific Time, but the stream is already running so jump in now. Replays available if you miss(ed) the live show, and RSS feeds are on the site for subscribing – I did.


I am working form home today, and so I will be listening to it in the background whilst editing papers and organizing stuff. Good to see you back on the air, friend!

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AudioBlogging | Geek Out | GnomeDex | Tech
Thursday, 06 January 2005 11:19:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 29 December 2004

Eric Rice interviewed me Wednesday afternoon, to get just one simple blogger guy’s perspective on the blogosphere and the process of giving to the relief efforts needed so badly in South Asia after the tsunamis and earthquakes that have devastated so many people in that region. It was the AdSense donation idea that sparked the interview, but we talked about other aspects of the blogosphere and its collective reaction to the tragedy, as well.

Thanks to Eric for taking the time to do a podcast about something that’s very important: those things we can do now to help others in need.

Download the podcast (an MP3 audio file) from EricRice.com and see links there for a few places you can go to offer your help, as well.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Helping Others
Wednesday, 29 December 2004 22:30:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 19 November 2004

Our world, it is a-changin' ...

The folks over at audioblog.com have recently released a beta of their new videoblogging browser-based service to their users. It's super-sweet, and works great. Nice job!

What will this kind of capability mean down the road for personal Internet broadcasting and media in general? Only time will tell, but the possibilities seem endless.

Of course, videos of me talking to inanimate objects about the technology itself from my kitchen are not exactly great examples of effective content planning... But hey, it's a geek-out kinda thing, ya know?

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Friday, 19 November 2004 00:33:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 06 November 2004

And she's right.

I am listening to a live windows media feed from BloggerCon about podcasting (I am not there because I needed to stay home for other things, so I canceled my trip).

Adam Curry says (paraphrased) don't think you can change the name, it's a done deal. He's right (unfortunately). No one thought ahead about the name, or not far enough ahead. Or there was an agenda to use the name for any of a number of reasons. Or it's a good name because it's catchy and immediately invokes interest when you hear or read it. Whatever. I *still* think we need to get away from the name when we think up new additions to this technology, just to make sure people don't assume it's just for the iPod. Because like it or not, they do.

For the creator, this is personal Internet broadcasting. For the end users, it's simply audio aggregation with a magical ability to get the files on your computer and/or portable audio device of choice.

And it's in its infancy as far as time alive and maturity of technology. John Dvorak was at least partially right. It pretty much sucks for the average user. At least right now.

But it will get better.

Take a look at early technology being developed specifically for aggregating mp3 and other enclosures and tying into, say, Windows Media player. I have had the personal experience of providing input and being involved in making suggestions for Doppler, a program that is 100% focused on doing just that.

Adam points out that there is no all-in-one solution for the podcaster. We are far from having that available.

Which means by next week someone will have written it. :-)

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Saturday, 06 November 2004 10:17:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 23 October 2004

Carl Franklin wrote some thoughtful commentary about a weblog post by Scott Hanselman on the subject of podcasting. Then Dave Winer commented on Carl's post. Rory follows up with a far-reaching examination of the arguments.


It's an interesting conversation, and one well worth having.

I have been listening to podcasts for weeks now, and to MP3 audio shows since before the term "podcast" was coined. I still don't really like the term, but anyhow... Airplanes are a place I find them most useful - but they have not completely replaced my drive-time commute, which totals about 2 hours a day, because the content quality just isn't there for me yet, with a couple of notable exceptions. I do get a certain amount of enjoyment from podcasts - from some of them, anyhow. Mostly by people you probably never heard of. I really don't have a need or desire to listen to "experts" in go on and on and on and on and on and on about how podcasting just changed the world. A medium that talks about itself feels a lot like MLM. It can't last forever. You wanna talk about the technology your using, make it useful for me - make the time I spend listening to you really, truly worthwhile. It's the content people, CONTENT!

Another thing, about the concept that podcasting will replace/kill radio as we know it - I am not convinced on that one yet. I don't have to think about my radio. It's always there and just turns on and works. No sync, no charging, no programming - just on and off. Therefore I use it. More work than that and it loses some of its utility. They said TV would replace radio. It didn't. In fact, it just made radio bigger. We shouldn't be trying to kill something - we should be trying to create something new. There is a difference.

And regardless of what Dave says, or whether he was involved in creating PowerPoint, and despite a number of other inflammatory things I could pull from his comment on Carl's post and react to, but wont... Scott is most definitely *not* an opponent of technological progress, so use of the term "Luddite" is - well - misplaced at best and flat out mean at worst.

One thing's for sure: It's not at all a useful label in this case. I could use certain blanket terms to describe Dave's words and actions in a variety of situations, and while they may be accurate in terms of one or two things he has said or done in the past, they would not really describe him in whole. It would be wrong of me to call names, so I won't. I wish Dave wouldn't. It takes away from the conversation, and Scott is one person I listen to with great regard for making very complicated things work in the real world.

I don't think Scott was implying (as Dave seems to state) that podcasting was a replacement for PowerPoint. He was using PowerPoint as a metaphor, to show how both technologies - in his opinion - tend to fail to meet their own goals, for man of the same reasons.

Scott originally said, about Podcasting:

 - Clever, yes.
 - Interesting, yes.
 - A new kind of media? Maybe.
 - Useful? Not to me.

Then he points out that using XML to point to multi-megabyte files is contradictory to certain vocal arguments made in the community of late. That's another valid point.

He also correctly points out that the the medium does not lend itself to skimming, browsing or efficient dissemination of multiple pieces of information.

I agree with that position. The people who are making the most noise about this new stuff are people who seem to have plenty of time to record podcasts and to listen to all the regulars. It's a technology that will - by it's very nature - limit the number of people we can listen to and communicate with. It also tends to be a lot more one-way than blogging. Podcasting is not blogging, it's not radio, it's not even broadcasting in reality. But it is cool, and it does have potential. Where it goes we don't know - Rarely does an experiment turn out just the way the founding fathers intended, you know.

Scott has a good point. Carl has a good counterpoint. Dave kind of missed the point but hurled a good insult (good only if you're the one doing the hurling, anyhow). Rory did a great job of taking a good, long step back and covering the bases.

All are very smart guys with great ideas and technological innovation in their pasts.

Pointing out the problems with a technology does not make one a Luddite. Telling people to wait and see before they speak actually just delays technological progress. Hmmmm... Deeelaaayyyys techhhnoloooogicalll progrrressss.... Yeahhh.....

Open, informed, honest discussions are good. Names and insults don't help.

So that's all nice, and yeah discussion is important. But what about podcasting?

What Rory said:

"Just walk away with this: Podcasting is serious Power to the People technology, and we should be excited about that."

Most importantly (I think), here is my pre-emptive thought: Keep the conversation open. Let people comment openly - good, bad or otherwise - and use the information to do things better, and to shape this experiment into something great. If someone counters your position, listen to them. No one person or group owns it. Everyone owns it. Some will innovate, but all should lead. Don't ruin a good thing with politics and personalities.

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AudioBlogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 23 October 2004 16:37:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 11 October 2004

Click on over to hear what Eric has to say with regard to a sneak peek of KSSX, his Internet radio station call letters. As he describes, RSS is likely going to be the final link in making distribution of multimedia content in an automated fashion a realistic (meaning relatively seamless) experience and possibility.

"The radio station YOU design?"

Woah... Gonna be cool.

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AudioBlogging | Tech
Monday, 11 October 2004 20:34:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 09 October 2004

Jared Hudgins a scary-smart dude I met at GnomeDex, as is Brandon Watts (another person I had the good fortune of meeting there). They could always be found together, which makes sense since they both traveled across the country from Georgia or some place around Atlanta. Both of these guys write for Lockergnome (and do a great job of it). Both are way younger and way smarter than me, and my purpose in writing this entry (yes, I do have a reason) is to call out two things:

  • First, that Jared just posted his first audioblog - so go listen to it. Oh, the world is changing so fast...
  • Second, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that both Brandon (who has already authored his own programming language) and Jared are going to be people you'll hear about in a big way sometime in the future (and no, I don't mean in an 11-0'clock news kind of way). Dream big, make it happen. If you happen to be reading this in 15 or 20 years, please remind me and we'll see if I was right.

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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 09 October 2004 20:08:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Click the play button to listen:

Prologue: After speaking with several respected people in the field about the term PodCasting in preparation for writing this article, I have changed my stance slightly from where I started and from what I wrote below. I decided to place this change-of-heart statement up top, with a quick explanation, but not to alter what my original post looked like, since my change of heart is primarily one of acceptance. So, while I accept current naming conventions and what-not, I still believe what I say below is relevant.

In the words of one respected collegue from the industry:

"... It's certainly a sexy term, and although technically inaccurate (see, --casting implies sending from-- we aren't broadcasting from an iPod), the media seems to love it, people associate '-pod' with the success of the iPod, and that's a good thing. It's good because now bigger radio folks are doing it. We the people are doing it. This whole thing has stickiness, and got that stickiness in record time. I say, let's just revel in it. It can't hurt."

- Eric Rice

Ok, I can do that. Fair enough, and good advice.

 - greg

[How exactly do you describe the process of hanging up a call with someone when you're not actually talking on a traditional telephone anymore? Hmm...] I just got off the Internet with Chris Pirillo. He and I were engaged in an instant messaging session, which branched off to email, and which we then took over to Skype. Chris then used the Skype audio and some kind of hacked-together recording device to create an interview MP3 that he will, undoubtedly, edit (I sure hope he edits it, heh...) and post to his web site at some point in the near future. Personal internet broadcasting hard at work.

We talked about something we both think is great and interesting, but about which we share a similar gripe:

The term "PodCasting" - I know it is catchy and sticky and has already taken off, so I wouldn't expect any kind of change to happen, but regardless, it's just the wrong name to use. Why? Because this new wave of technology use is not actually about iPods (it works with pretty much any MP3 player), yet it sounds like it is all about iPods. It's not about the playback device (again, any MP3 player), it's about the communication medium and the content being distributed. It's about the convergence of several smaller pieces of cool technology, and the interest of a relatively small but rapidly growing group of people whose influence has the potential to create something very, very big. But to say the iPod is the platform is to limit the market and the potential of what's happening -- in my opinion.

Now, please understand -- I don't have any kind of problem or dislike toward Apple's iPods, or the technology, or the idea that people are enabled to communicate to an Internet audience their own opinions, ideas, news, music or what-have-you. In fact I think all those things are great. It's the name that kills me. If you like iPods, that's fine (I think they're great, too), but to call the iPod the platform in this context is just plain-old-flat-out confusing and wrong.

When Chris and I started our conversation this morning, I sent him an email with an admittedly hot-under-the-collar tone complaining about this supposed "revolution" (I don't see it quite that way) and the "podcast" name that's been attached to this "phenomenon" (another over-stated term I think - let's see what happens before we actually attach names like that).

Then we decided, well heck - let's talk about it by creating a personal internet broadcast (yes, you're right, I am intentionally not using that term) of our own.

You see, we love the technology. We love the medium. We love the gadgetry of it all and the idea of enabling people to communicate and express themselves in new ways - and to make it easier for people to do on both ends.

Both of us even plan to create content and use the technology ourselves.

It's just that damn name.

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Saturday, 09 October 2004 16:46:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 01 October 2004

I'm at Gnomedex, in the "Maximize your blogging potential" panel session, listening to all these guys talk. The conversation quickly moved to multimedia content and delivery as well as devices and tools. Here are some of my observations, paraphrasing the speakers.

  • Adam Kalsey (Moderator)

    Adam went from 200 page views a month to thousands a day because he wrote about relevant things that mattered to people. If you're posting content to the web, you have a goal in mind. If you get slashdotted because its interesting to others, but you decide you can't afford it, you'll stop doing it.

    On multimedia blogging, he noted that if its going to take off, things like indexing and searching of multimedia formats will have to happen.

    In the keyword filtering department as a way to deal with too much content, he points out that keyword searches are not always the best way to deal with selecting information, because of the fact that what I think are relevant keywords may not agree with the way the author wrote the content.

  • Robert Scoble

    Microsoft employee and internal button pusher, Robert's well-known and got his job at Microsoft in no small part because of his blog. He started blogging because he was running a conference and wanted to document it. He wants to know, "What's undiscovered here?"

    "Something has happened in the past month." He notes that PODCasting has taken off all of a sudden. Robert consumes about 900+ feeds a day, compromising about 2000 blogs (some feeds combined). How is he going to deal with 1000 audioblogs a day? With audio he can only consume 2 or 3 shows a night, so becoming a star is a harder things to do.

    For text feeds, he's like his news aggregator to start building keyword searches automatically, based on his reading behavior.

  • Nick Bradbury

    Nick is a (great) shareware author of three rather famous pieces of software, and uses blogging for personal and business use.  His FeedDemon software is what I use as my content aggregator for tons of blogs and other content sources. He says the biggest problem with information now is that there's some much info out there now that you can't deal with it all, so you don't necessarily know what you're missing. I agree. I'd pay good money for something that would help me see what I need and want to see, inside the content I already subscribe to.

  • Ross Rader

    Ross of Blogware says its a pain to do all these different blogging things. The whole Web 2.0 movement should be about making things useful. Lots of utilities are great, but if Dad can't use it?

    Audio and other multimedia blogging shows that the Internet is continuing to change and that it's important to give these things a chance and to see where it goes.

    Enclosures are binary attachments to a syndication feed, and you can determine when that attachment gets downloaded (send it to me between 2 and 5 am).

    Ross also distinguished between managed and unmanaged content, and pointed out that the goal is to get people involved in the creation of content, and making it available and usable by others. If you want to publish your content, you can do it, in your own place.

  • Jason Shellen

    Jason works at Blogger, one of the huge blogging services, owned by Google. He noted that the San Francisco web design community was one of the first adopters of the technology, because it provided the ability to remove the focus from "I am going to create a page" to "I am going to write about something." Blogger/Google has started to address the "How do I do more than write text" with audioblogger.com and Picasa/Hello/BloggerBot.

    "I'm going to go out on a limb and say everything shouldn't be in a blog."

    Jason sees blogging and formats as continuing to grow and expand, and that the forms of media, he expects, will change over time. But he wants to have the ability to use the new media formats on the device of choice.

    Timeliness of blogs: There is a time factor to all of this. Everything has a time and date. Email has this too, as does IM. He notes that there is a need for a tool that will "bring me all the stuff that's important to me."

  • Dave Taylor

    Dave writes several blogs, and sees blogs as content and data management systems. He uses one web log to hold a Q&A of common questions he gets from people. He emphasizes the fact that he sees it not as a cool HTML thing, but rather as being all about the content.

    "I can publish with anything and boom, I'm out there just like anyone who has a multi-million-dollar marketing department."

    Thoughts from others in the audience:

    Scott with Feedster talked about enclosure feeds (images, video clips, porn enclosures are common). He notes that the one constant of new media is that when porn starts to become available on a new media format or mechanism, that form of media will succeed. He also pointed out feedstertv.com, which deals with enclosures on RSS feeds.

    On the next steps with categories, filtering, automation, etc: "RSS is the web services we've been waiting for, let's make it DO something."

    The TiVo suggestions metaphor: Letting the machine tell me what I want to watch usually produces garbage.

    The whole date-based/time-based thing with weblogs is what makes things tough for old stuff. Adding categories, internal or site-restricted search engines. It's a publisher's decision what tools to use to organize information.


    The focus of the discussion seemed to settle on multimedia blogging, then multimedia content in general, and what that means to the blogging universe. PODcasting and audioblogging is taking the place of drive-time radio content. Radio broadcasting 's future is in question. ReplayRadio is a new service available to time-shift talk radio content.

    Ultimately the answer to most of the questions that came up seems to be "better tools."

    Eventually a question was asked about how many people in the audience deal with information overload, and how people deal with the volume. The mix was interesting to see. Some seem to be in a place where their RSS aggregator has consumed their lives. I'm just the opposite - RSS saves me tons of time every day in my job. For others, it takes up time. Apparently it depends on what you do and how you use it.

    This was a great session.

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    AudioBlogging | Blogging | GnomeDex | RSS Stuff
    Friday, 01 October 2004 11:36:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Saturday, 26 June 2004

    Is it just me, or is there something inherently weird about dragging an AC-powered flat panel display into Starbucks to hook up to your laptop at one of those little tables, when your laptop already has a flat-panel display? /me rolls eyes...

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    AudioBlogging | Random Stuff
    Saturday, 26 June 2004 22:24:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Sunday, 20 June 2004

    Delorme has a great and relatively new GPS device out called the Earthmate GPS Receiver. The name's not new, but this version runs off USB power, so none of the separate power cords like their old stuff used to require, and no more serial ports to fight with (for that matter, my new laptop doesn't even have a serial port).

    What's so special about it? Well, for starters you plug it in, along with the Street Atlas 2004 USA software that comes with it, and you're pretty much instantly listening to your computer give you turn-by-turn directions to wherever you want to go. Plus, you can talk to your computer, verbally giving commands like "Next turn?" or "Where am I?" The computer answers your questions.

    So, that sounds pretty neat you say, but so what? Well, on a recent trip to California, I spent a weekend with a friend in a rental car, traversing the southern part of the state. Everywhere we went we used the laptop with the GPS device, and we were able to find things that otherwise would have been pretty difficult, we always knew where we were, and ultimately we were able to quickly plan routes and get to places. We did a lot in a few days, and had fun in the process.

    There's a bunch of new fancy GPS devices on the market, selling for over a thousand dollars. If you have a laptop and want great functionality, don't spend the money on the expensive stuff. Try this first.

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    Sunday, 20 June 2004 09:03:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Saturday, 12 June 2004

    A friend turned me on to a program last week called BlogJet. It's a nifty little program that allows you to post to and maintain content on a web log. Any one of a number of blog software apps are supported, including:

    Blogger API
    MetaWeblog API

    So pretty much anyone should be able to take advantage of it. I use it with my dasBlog server, and I am taking advantage of the fact that it can FTP pictures (EDIT: See below) to my server at the time I post the entries. It even logs me in and allows me to edit past posts by downloading them from the server for me, and will also download my posting categories and let me assign them in the program before I publish a new or edited post. In addition, it includes a simple audio recorder, and with it one can make audio recordings with the microphone and instantly post them with a link in the blog entry.

    The WYSIWYG editor includes spell checking and a library of high-color emoticons/smilies  that it will automatically upload when if and when you use them in a post. On top of all that, since I use FeedDemon, I get the added benefit of making BlogJet my default blogging tool in that program, which means fast and easy blogging from my RSS reader, as well as from within IE ("BlogJet This!").

    EDIT: Jim Blizzard decided to give BlogJet a try, too. He had to do some futzing around to get the FTP uploads to work, and I thought I should point out that I also had some issues getting the FTP portion of the program to behave as I expeced it to, but it's worth the extra effort. Perhaps they'll make some additional improvements in that area in future versions (First suggestion: let me choose active or passive FTP mode in the account wizard; Second suggestion: while it's cool to be able to load and choose from my blog categories on a new post, unfortunately existing posts that I load from history don't load with the category info intact, which gets confusing and messy. )

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    Saturday, 12 June 2004 22:16:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Monday, 17 May 2004

    New addition to the household that can't stand being away from people for more than ten seconds. Loud, funny, and - dare I use the word - cute. But hey, it's a puppy, so cute's ok. For now.

    Buddy (my dog I've had for years) and he get along great. No, he does not have a name yet. Maybe I'll take suggestions at some point. Pics to be posted later.

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    AudioBlogging | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
    Monday, 17 May 2004 07:55:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Thursday, 13 May 2004

    Not like anyone actually wants or cares to hear about my pain, but not much else happening right now, and this is (after all) my blog. :-)

    So, this would be the one where I talk about my subsiding back pain and start to think about blogging with audio: You know, I was really excited about getting the audioblog.com stuff set up (and I still am excited), but I find myself getting a little self-conscious about posting my voice on my blog for some reason. Have been thinking about how to use this capability - have a few ideas, but will probably think of more....

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    Thursday, 13 May 2004 19:31:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Monday, 10 May 2004

    Earlier I posted my first audio blog entry. This is just a quick note about how to set up audioblog.com to post directly to dasBlog...

    It's really pretty simple: I used the Blogger-API capability of dasBlog (you'll need to turn it on in your config) and directed audioblog.com to publish my blog entries use the Movable Type option. You could specify XML-RPC, but if you do you won't get the headlines properly translated into dasBlog, so Movable Type is the one that works best. Very cool that dasBlog allows you to post this way, and even more cool that audioblog.com appears to properly emulate Movable Type when posting. When I tried to use another audio blogging service (AudBlog), it didn't play well with the Blogger API - But audioblog.com works like a charm.

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    AudioBlogging | Blogging
    Monday, 10 May 2004 21:34:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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    Three cheers for audioblog.com - I signed up to test their new service last night, and today I got an email with my new account info. Within 5 minutes I'd posted my first test audio blog entry. Their service is smooth, it works (other services out there are glitchy at best in my recent experience), and it's very well designed. Quite cool. Just imagine what you can do with this kind of service. From any computer or phone you can post audio blog messages in real time. You can record up to an hour at a shot, and if you want to go longer than that, you can chain multiple recordings together into a play-list. Wow - this is great!

    Update: Looks like they went live today! $4.95 a month for unlimited recording and up to 1GB of audio data transfer a month - very nice. See their Service Features page for more info.

    Also check out the interview with the creator of audioblog.com, Eric Rice at ITConversations.

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    Monday, 10 May 2004 19:31:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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