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WebVisions 2008 was Awesome

I’ve spent yesterday and today at the WebVisions 2008 conference, at the Oregon Convention Center in downtown Portland. I was asked to speak on a panel about Open Source and Open Content with Ward Cunningham (most famous for inventing the wiki), Deb Bryant (OSU Open Source Lab), and Bryan Jamison (Open Sourcery).

I was late yesterday morning, because I had an appointment at the Apple Store Genius Bar to see about getting my iPhone replaced (it had a dead strip where touch stopped working – it’s a known hardware issue, and they replaced it for free, no hassles. It was awesome!). I went to Marshall Kirkpatrick’s session on advanced RSS ninja techniques, and I learned a ton (mental note: need to spend a LOT more time playing with Feed Informer, AideRSS, Dapper, and Yahoo Pipes). I thought I knew a lot about RSS and feed tools, but Marshall is the king, and I bow down before him. It was great stuff.

I spent some time in the hallways, chatting with old friends, and meeting new people. One of the things I love about geeky conferences is the chance to associate a real human with a Twitter handle or blog URL or an email address. πŸ™‚ Last night was the WebVisionary Awards, which I wasn’t able to attend. Emma had her preschool graduation last night, and I wouldn’t miss that for the world (it was great – she was so cute, and looked so grown up! I can’t believe she’s starting kindergarten soon).

Today started off with my panel with Ward, Deb, and Bryan. I was by far the least experiences person on the panel, I think, and I felt a little nervous. I hoped that I would have something to contribute. The panel turned out just fine – we had some great questions, some great discussion, and I think I did an OK job of sharing some interesting stuff. I got to throw out a couple of good quotes, like “if your business model depends on controlling access to something (software, media, etc.), then you don’t really have customers. You have hostages.” Couple that with a few references to Cory Doctorow, Creative Commons, and 1000 True Fans, and I think I did OK. The best part of the panel, for me, was hearing what my co-panelists had to say. Ward had some GREAT insight on the perils of artificial scarcity, and after the session, we were chatting about his Three Reasons Companies Want To Try Open Content (1. because of buzz, 2. because they want slave labor, or 3 because they really want to build community). I have lots more thoughts on that, and I’m sure I’ll be posting more on the topic soon.

After lunch I went to Andy Baio’s (@waxpancake on Twitter) session on “the anatomy of a meme”. He covered the basics of what makes up an internet meme (you know, LOLCats, All Your Base, badger badger, the Numa Numa dance, Chocolate Rain, etc. – Google for examples). It was a great talk, and I tweeted lots of quotes and ideas while I was there. I was all excited, because a new internet meme broke just this morning – less than a couple of hours before Andy’s session. The band Weezer released a music video for their song, Pork and Beans, that was totally made up of various internet memes and YouTube stars. I thought maybe I could get a little bit of “first-to-share” cred by telling Andy and the room about it, but he’s too fast. He had already worked it into his presentation, and showed the video to the room. It’s hilarious – you should check it out below. How many of the memes/references can you spot?


Now, I’m catching up on email and a few other things, then headed home for date night (going to take Rachel to see Iron Man tonight! Yay! πŸ™‚ ). Have a great weekend!

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More Video from Shanghai: Josh’s IDF Video Diary

Here’s another collection of video clips from the two days of IDF Shanghai. Highlights include a look around the IDF venue (Shanghai International Convention Center), the Huangpu riverfront at night (gorgeous!), a peek at Chinese TV in my hotel room, a look at what websites are blocked in China and which aren’t, some “man on the street” video with Intel’s new Mobile Internet Devices, a look at the terrifying chaos that is pedestrian and vehicle traffic in Shanghai, and a cameo appearance by Celene Dion. πŸ™‚


Like the walkabout video I posted before, these little clips were all shot in HD on my little Aiptek Go-HD video camera, then pieced together in Quicktime Pro and rendered down to 640×360 on my Elgato Turbo.264. And then converted to low quality Flash by YouTube. πŸ™‚ The video is about 10 minutes long, and I’ll probably post a higher quality version than what I can get from YouTube when I get home.I’ll probably keep shooting and posting these while I’m in Shanghai. I’m here until next week – going to spend a few days working with some of the Intel Software Network team here at Intel Shanghai. And I kind of like the style/technique of these videos. I’ve had lots of people ask me how I’m doing this. It’s very simple: I turn the screen on the camera so I can see myself, then hold it out at arm’s length, pointed at me, and pivot around in place to show what’s around me, while keeping myself on screen. Kind of fun to shoot, and I like the results.You know the drill – leave me a comment and tell me what you think. Want to see more like this? Hate it? Have something about Shanghai that you want me to shoot? Drop me a line, and let me know. And thanks for watching! πŸ™‚

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Video: Josh’s Shanghai Walkabout

I’ve been in Shanghai for about a day and a half now, for the Spring 2008 Intel Developer Forum conference. I’m here to shoot video of stuff that’s interesting and useful for software developers and generally cover the event for Intel Software Network.

Yesterday was “Day 0” of the event – badge pickup, etc., but no real events scheduled. I took the opportunity to escape my hotel, and do a little walkabout exploration of my surroundings in Shanghai. I’ve been shooting tons of pictures and video, and I could write thousands and thousands of words about how cool Shanghai is. For now, enjoy this little video I put together of my “walkabout” in Shanghai.

Features include: about 100 people offering to sell me a “Rolex”, some of the great Shanghai architecture, exploration of the “Super Brand Mall”, including the Chinese versions of McDonalds and Toys R Us, a supermarket, and more.

Later that evening, my ISN China colleagues (and Shanghai natives) Richard and Welles basically showed me the town. They took me to PC Mall, which is a 5 story mall full of nothing but computers, electronics, cameras, and games. It’s like Fry’s on crack, and I’m DEFINITELY going back there before I come home. πŸ™‚ There’s a bonus clip of PC Mall at the end of the video.

I also ran into my first “blocked in China” site while trying to upload this video – blip.tv. I love Blip, for lots of reason – video quality being one of the top. So I was bummed to not be able to use it for this video. Instead, it’s on YouTube (strange that Blip is blocked but YouTube isn’t – what’s up with that?), with the accompanying quality loss. But at least you can see it. And the quality isn’t super high anyway – it was all shot handheld in HD on my Aiptek Go-HD, then reencoded to 640×360 on my trusty Elgato Turbo.264. I’ll put up a high quality version when I get home.

Here’s the video – enjoy! πŸ™‚

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Photos from Adobe MAX 2007 in Chicago

Here’s a slideshow of the photos I’ve been taking here in Chicago, and at the Adobe Max 2007 conference. I’m here a for a couple more days, so I’ll be adding more. They should automatically appear in the slideshow as I add them to this set on Flickr (where you can see any of them in more detail, full size, etc.).

Enjoy!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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Podcast and New Media Expo – Day Two

I’m here on day two of the Podcast and New Media expo. You can find my notes detailing day one of the conference here.

WiFi here at the conference has been a real problem. It’s not that they’re not trying – every room has its own separate network, but with this many geeks (and podcasters, to boot!), there’s just no way the bandwidth can keep up. I have no idea what kind of backhaul the Ontario Convention Center has, but that pipe ain’t fat enough. πŸ™‚ To be fair, I’ve never been to a conference (of geeks) where the wifi DIDN’T suck. That said, I swear I’m not going to another conference without a 3G modem card. This is for the birds. MarsEdit is saving my blogging bacon – if I didn’t have it for offline writing, I wouldn’t be getting any blogging done.

FIrst up, a session called “Master Radio Techniques – Avoid Radio Traps” by Holland Cooke. He’s a radio/corporate guy. Pretty engaging so far – talking about how from a distance, radio and podcasting can look the same, but up close, they’re quite different. He was just at a (shrinking) radio convention, talking about podcasting. And now he’s here at a (growing) podcasting convention, talking about radio. All of his stuff is up on his website. I’ll link it up as soon as he gives us the link (he’s teasing us, won’t share it until the end). Here’s the link to his handouts (I haven’t even looked at them yet).

Next session I’m in is called “How to make your content easy for Grandma to consume: Simplifying RSS feeds, video formats, and Flash Players for your audience” by Andrew Darlow. I think it wins for the longest session title so far. πŸ™‚ His presentation style is kind of clumsy, but for some reason, I like him so far. He’s talking about some really basic stuff, though. Like using Blogger.com versus getting your own hosting and using WordPress. How a WordPress theme can show you “recent entries”, etc. And he keeps asking “Does anyone use…” and then waits for a show of hands. Does anyone use FeedBurner? (pause) We’re 17 minutes into the session, and he finally said the word “enclosure”. I would have expected that to come up a little sooner in a session about how to make your RSS feed work for podcasting. Does anyone use iTunes? (pause) Does anyone use PodPress? (pause) Does anyone have an audio flash player? (pause) Has anyone ever gone to the Podsafe Music Network? (pause) Who likes downloading plugins? (pause) In talking about Flash audio and video players, he didn’t even mention the awesome show player from blip.tv. Too bad – that one’s my favorite, for sure. Who here has an email account? (pause) Does anyone use an email subscription list? (pause) Does anyone use categories on your blog? (pause). I’m sorry, but he’s putting me to sleep. I’ve gotta get out of here…

Grabbed some lunch, had the pizza today. Learned my lesson last time with the tri-tip sandwich. πŸ˜‰

Next session is “Video Podcast Content Creation: The Real Story Behind Producing for Tiny Screens” by Richard Burns and Dusty Wright of Culture Catch. No, this session has nothing to do with the name of this blog (TinyScreenfuls). Yes, I intend to heckle them gently, or at least make some kind of comment about the similarity. πŸ™‚ I don’t know who or what Culture Catch is, but they’ve been in everyone’s face handing out flyers and cards and schwag. They sponsored one of the big parties last night. Gotta hand it to them for enthusiasm (though the two guys talking now sound kind of hung over πŸ˜‰ ). Showed a clip of their show with Devo. Talked about mistakes they made when shooting (it was their first show), and how they covered it up with filters, etc. in post production to make it look like it was intentionally crappy, and how that kind of became their trademark style. They’re kind of like Rolling Stone – music and culture stuff that’s not really my thing, but their show is pretty well done. I’m just not cool enough to be part of that crowd. πŸ™‚ They ended with a clip of their interview with Les Paul.

Next session is the one I’ve most been looking forward to, and I predict it will be the best session of the show for me. It’s Doug Kaye’s “Remote Audio and Video Interview Techniques“. Doug Kaye, of IT Conversations and Podcast Academy fame, asked me to be an instructor at the very first Podcast Academy, which took place at the first Portable Media Expo two years ago. And IT Conversations was doing podcasting since before it was called podcasting, and remains the best place to get podcasts that make you smarter, on a whole variety of topics. Doug has an audio production background, and I’ve learned most of what I know about audio and recording from my association with him. Doug has forgotten more about audio than I’ll ever know. His sessions at Podcast Academy and PME are always excellent, and I’m really looking forward to this one. πŸ™‚

Reminder – go join PodCorps.org – a network of stringers, and where the content for all the Conversations Network shows come from. Doug is promising to show off some new technology that he promises will blow us away, and make people who like the Levelator very happy. Ooh, suspense! Talking now about phone couplers and “Uncle Doug’s Cheap Trick”. Basically, where you use two lines to record a call – one line is conferenced in, and only used for recording the call (you talk on another line). Better than a coupler on the line you’re using. Doug’s recommending checking out TalkShoe.com for recording phone calls for podcasts. Doug uses a telephone hybrid – a hardware device for recording phone calls professionally. Doug recommends the Telos One. Great solution, but expensive (about $600). What about Skype calls? You can use software solutions, like Audio Hijack Pro, or hardware solutions. There’s a diagram I’ll post here later – I’ve used this setup many times. It’s hard to describe without the diagram, but it’s basically a way to fake “mix-minus”, that expensive dedicated telephone hybrids use, using a simple mixer with the ability to pan each channel all the way left and right. Here’s that diagram I promised – it should be self explanatory:

Recording Skype Calls - the Hardware Solution

Now, onto the new stuff! They’re not officially announcing or releasing anything here, but they hope to make it available for free, like The Levelator. Talking about the challenges of getting studio quality audio AND video from BOTH ends of a remote interview. Up until now, you had to find a stringer to go to the remote end of the interview, and have them record and send you the result.

OK, now THIS is freaking amazing. I’m BLOWN away by the demo I’m seeing right now. Bruce Sharpe, creator of the Levelator is showing a piece of software that he’s working on to sync up multiple audio and video sources, regardless of types, regardless of format. You just throw in your audio and video sources, and after clicking the magic button, you get a perfectly mixed multicut result. Unbelieveable! πŸ™‚ I’ve taken a bunch of photos of the demo. I’m going to do a whole separate post about this, because it deserves it. For now, check out these photos and descriptions, to get an idea of what the software does. We’re all sitting here with our jaws dropped. The demo was shown plugged into the Sony Vegas video editor on Windows, but Bruce says that Vegas is only used for convenience. The plan is to make it available to be used with any video editor (with certain caveats). They’re literally working on this yesterday and today, so they don’t know what the release is going to look like. But they want to put it out for free and cross platform, just like The Levelator. Yes, please! This software is going to change the podcasting world. I think it’s that profound. Wow.

I don’t know what Doug and Bruce intend to name this piece of software, but I’ve taken to calling it “The Synchronator”, because it’s a sibling to The Levelator, and, well, that’s what it does. Doug and Bruce, feel free to use that name if you like it. No charge. πŸ˜‰

That’s it for me today. I’ve got to go do some laundry tonight, and crank out some blog posts.

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Blogging the Podcast and New Media Expo – Day One

I’m here in Ontario, California (not to be confused with Ontario, Canada – I hate having to disambiguate the two, and I can’t even write “Ontario, CA” to do it!) for the Podcast and New Media Expo. This is my second time attending – I was at the first one three years ago, as an instructor at the very first Podcast Academy. I went that year on my own dime, but now that my job officially involves audio and video podcasting (in the form of my show for Intel Software Network, Bit Stories), I decided to come back this year.

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I’ll be updating this post over the course of the next couple of days with my thoughts, interesting links, stories, and the rest of the scoop on PNME. I’m also doing a ton of microposts via Twitter, which you can see in the sidebar if you’re looking at this on TinyScreenfuls.com, by following me on Twitter, or in my lifestream at www.joshbancroft.com.

Podcast and New Media Expo Keynote

The keynote this morning was the guy from Wallstrip.com. He created a funny video podcast about stocks and the stock market world, and recently sold it to CBS for a few million. He gave a pretty funny, entertaining interview with PNME founder Tim Borquin, but to be honest, I didn’t pay too much attention, since it was all about the business side of what he did – you can tell that a LOT of people here at PNME are looking to make money from their podcasts, and flipping your podcast to a big rich media company is something most of them dream about. I’m not in this to make money – not from the podcasts I (occasionally) do on my blog, or with Bit Stories. There’s a distinctive commercial vibe here at the expo, which kind of bums me out, but I’m looking forward to finding bits of learning and useful information here and there.

After the keynote, I met Scott Sherman of thedigitalphotographyshow.com. He has a nice Lenovo X61 Tablet PC, which of course, I commented on. I subscribed to his show, since I consider myself an amateur photographer, and love to learn how to shoot better photos.

I also met Bruce Sharpe, the guy who created The Levelator – a free, cross-platform piece of software that no podcaster should be without. You can drop an audio recording onto the Levelator, and it will automatically normalize and compress the sound to a uniform level, and perform some other bits of audio magic. Doing manually what the Levelator does automatically is tedious, difficult, and takes a LONG time. It’s like magic, and I use it for all of my podcasts. In fact, whenever I’m working with any piece of audio, I drop it on the Levelator, and it almost always comes out sounding much better. I’m a huge fan, so of course I went over, and drooled all over Bruce while I shook his hand. πŸ™‚

In an audio production session now, led by John McJunkin of Avalon Podcasting. He’s going over the basics of how to get a good sounding recording, starting with your mouth/voice, the mic, the preamp, the compressor/other audio processing, and post-recording editing. He’s also showing off some cool stuff in Pro Tools audio editing software. Most podcasters know and use Audacity, but I’m learning more and more what the limits of Audacity are. And wanting more and more to really learn how to use a more powerful/flexible audio program. I’ve got GarageBand 3, as part of iLife. Now I just need to find a good book, and sit down and learn to use it really well (it’s kind of hard to figure out how to get started). This was a great session – John really knows his audio stuff.

Next up: a session on getting good interviews, by Heidi Miller. Apparently, she’s a professional expo show floor person – a booth babe? In her own words, she’s the annoying person who says “Hi! Thanks for coming by the Motorola booth! Let me tell you about our new products! Come right over here!” She does her own podcast, Diary of a Shameless Self Promoter. Something about her demeanor is really irritating me. She’s being really condescending, and talking about some fairly obvious stuff about doing interviews (so far). Hope this gets better. So far, it’s stuff like “say ‘tell me about…'”, and “do everything that people like Ira Glass and Terry Gross on NPR do it”. She wants to ask Grant Imahara of Mythbusters “do you consider yourself a geek or a dork?” Am I the only one that thinks he’s be offended by that question? I would.

Lunch – now I remember the thing I liked least about the Ontario Convention Center. First, there’s no food for attendees. Since only some people here are “paid” attendees, and some are “expo hall” attendees. So the only option for food is the little cafe-in-a-box at the back of the expo hall, or to go “off site”, to a “nearby” place like In-n-Out. I say “nearby”, because, this being southern California, everything is spread out. As in miles. So it takes forever and is way too much hassle to go somewhere for lunch. So that leaves the little cafe. I ran into Chris Brogan at the cafe (he actually waved me over, which is always gratifying πŸ˜‰ ), who said “go with the sandwich”. I should have listened. I chose the “tri tip sandwich”, and I have to saw it was quite possibly the worst sandwich I’ve ever had. The bread fell apart. The meat was nasty. Oh well. I now know to plan better for food tomorrow.

Now I’m in a session with Bruce Sharpe, creator of The Levelator, which I fawned about before. He’s giving a great presentation about bringing your production values to the next level. He describes himself as a software guy, not an audio guy (like Doug Kaye of IT Conversations). He worked with IT Conversations as an editor a while back, and was talking one time with Doug Kaye, who said “wouldn’t it be great if we had a piece of software that did all of this automatically?” Nine months later, Levelator was born (launched last year at PNME, actually). He’s also giving some great audio production tips, like “apply an 80-10000Hz bandpass filter”, do peak level normailzation, perform noise reduction, etc. Good review of the basics. I was pleased to see that I already do most of these in my audio workflow, but slightly saddened not to find a big magical improvement that would make all of my stuff sound better.

I don’t think I’m going to stick around for the parties, etc. tonight. I want to go back to my room, where there’s decent bandwidth, and try to get that “iBrick” blog post written. I’m at the podcast awards right now, and it’s dark, and annoying. So, off to get some food, then prolly back to the room. I’ll do another post tomorrow, and of course, I’m microposting all the time at twitter.com/jabancroft.

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