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Bit Stories 2008-07-02: Recording Screwups, Moblin.org, Linux, MIDs, and NetMeeting

Here’s this week’s show! Have a listen, and check out the download/subscribe links and detailed show notes below.

This week’s show is only 30 minutes long and weighs about 28MB (itโ€™s a 128kbps MP3). You can download the file directly, listen using the streaming player above, or (BEST OPTION!!1!) subscribe to the Bit Stories podcast feed in your favorite podcast aggregator (like iTunes). If you subscribe to the feed, youโ€™ll get each show delivered automatically as it becomes available – probably once a week or so, with the occasional bonus video or audio segment thrown in for fun. Plus, weโ€™ll love you forever if you subscribe! :-)

Bit Stories Podcast Recording Setup

Here are some free form notes from today’s show:

  • Yet Another Audio Setup

  • Embarrassing Confession: We recorded the last two shows using the built-in mic on my MacBook Pro, instead of the elaborate mixer/condenser mic that we have set up. Because I’m an idiot. The saving grace? It sounded pretty darn good! :-)
  • Have developers let the Tablet PC community down?
  • Brian paved and reinstalled Windows XP on his Samsung Q1 UMPC
  • Why XP instead of Vista? Not quite enough horsepower.
  • Josh has done the same thing (gone back and forth between XP and Vista) on his Asus R2H UMPC
  • Speaking of mobile device operating systems… Moblin.org
  • What the heck IS Moblin? Is it an OS?
  • Moblin is a stack of tools to help create OSes and applications for Mobile Internet Devices. It’s sponsored by Intel, and hosted by Intel Software Network
  • Ubuntu Mobile Edition (UME) sneak peak is out there, if you have a Samsung Q1 Ultra
  • Brian feels that he won’t be able to use a Linux-based MID because of the lack of mature ink/handwriting input support
  • It’s really hard to do an ink interface well
  • Will Atom-based devices ever have the horsepower to do handwriting well? Is this a hardware or a software problem?
  • Do open source projects do better when there’s a common, widespread demand and need for the result (like a web browser)? Do enough people in the open source community need and/or want good ink and handwriting support to motivate them to write it? Would enough people use it and care about it to make it worth their time?
  • Since Mobile Internet Devices are all about the Internet, having a good browser is going to be essential.
  • Windows versus Linux on these small, pocketable internet devices.
  • In general, lack of UI “polish” in Linux applications is a deterrent for non-geeks to adopt it.
  • Brian’s “essential” applications on his Samsung Q1: Microsoft Office, Firefox, and Microsoft Money
  • Is Firefox the exception to the “Linux applications don’t have a good interface/user experience” stereotype?
  • How easy is it going to be to “install any app you want” on the upcoming Linux MIDs?
  • The challenges of adapting applications to devices on smaller screen.
  • UMPCScrollBar – a great little app that lets you scroll windows around the smaller UMPC screen, so you can get to the “Install” and “OK” buttons that get pushed off the bottom of the screen.
  • Intel Software Network’s mobility community makes tons of resources, tools, and smart people available for people writing applications for these devices. Take advantage of us!
  • Without great software, Intel products are just a bunch of really tiny hot plates. :-)
  • Have we discovered the REAL reason Intel has chosen not to deploy Windows Vista? Is it because NetMeeting is no longer there? Microsoft stopped distributing NetMeeting in 1998 – TEN YEARS AGO. But Intel lives and breathes NetMeeting – old habits die hard. (Update after the show: according to Wikipedia, Microsoft released a hotfix that allows you to download and install NetMeeting on Vista. Guess we were wrong! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  • Macs do Screen Sharing, based on VNC, but there’s NO way on a Mac to participate in a NetMeeting call, because it’s a closed, proprietary Microsoft protocol.
  • Google Docs is GREAT for live collaboration.
  • PowerPoint is a great presentation tool, but it is NOT a collaboration tool! It gets abused WAY too often. PowerPoint abuse starts early – Brian’s 7th grade son is already doing it!
  • New recording time – Wednesday morning instead of Friday afternoon. Hope this gets the show out faster, and Josh and Brian perkier.
  • Josh’s morning voice – he’s not a morning person. Brian gets up at 5:30 AM.
  • Stuff we didn’t get to this week: Brian dips his toes into the world of Twitter and FriendFeed, and next week is iPhone 3G day! Come stand in line with us!

The show is picking up steam – we’re hitting our stride, and cranking them out. Many, many thanks to our listeners – we love you guys! We love connecting with people through the show, and getting to know who’s listening. But the only way we can do that is if you talk to us, so leave a comment, email us, or find some other way to say “hi”, and let us know what you think of the show! :-)

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BitStories 2008-06-13: Josh and Brian Ride Again! iPhone 3G, Netbooks, and More

Hey, remember TinyPodcast? No? Well, Brian Jarvis and I (Josh Bancroft), two guys who happen to work at Intel, started doing a weekly podcast way back in 2004. Basically, the two of us geeked out about the latest mobile devices, cool software, and technology news and rumors, and recorded it. It was moderately popular, and some people actually complained when it tapered off…

Well, we’re back! And we’re under the Bit Stories banner now. I work for Intel Software Network, and I’ve had the idea and intention for a while now of doing a show there like Brian and I used to do. Now we’re actually doing it.

If you haven’t listened before, this isn’t some professionally produced, slick, marketing message controlled by our corporate overlords. We’re just a couple of geeks who love gadgets, phones, computers, the web, and software, talking about whatever’s new and cool. We try to make the audio sound good, but it’s always going to be a little rough around the edges, and we’re OK with that. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Come have a listen.

In this show, we talk about the following, in no particular order:

  • The iPhone 3G announcement – its features, whether Brian is finally going to cave in and get one, how AT&T is raising prices on the plans just because they can, how we can’t wait to see what comes out of the App Store, and everything else we can think of. We’re a little obsessed. :-)
  • Netbooks vs. regular laptops vs. Tablet PCs (with the tangent typing vs handwriting discussion).
  • Where we want to take the show – we don’t have grand plans – we pretty much have always played this by ear, but we’d love to hear any ideas or suggestions (or complaints!) you have, so we can keep it interesting.
  • And a whole lot more I can’t remember right now!

The show is about 38 minutes long (we try to stick to the magic 40 minute length), and weighs about 35MB (it’s a 128kbps MP3). You can download the file directly, listen using the streaming player in this post, or (BEST OPTION!!1!) subscribe to the Bit Stories podcast feed in your favorite podcast aggregator (like iTunes). If you subscribe to the feed, you’ll get each show delivered automatically as it becomes available – probably once a week or so, with the occasional bonus video or audio segment thrown in for fun. Plus, we’ll love you forever if you subscribe.

Are you thrilled that the show is back? Mad that we changed something? Think we suck for being gone so long? Just want to say hi? Post a comment, and let us know! Seriously. We crave the validation that your feedback brings. You have no idea how fragile our self esteem really is… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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. :-) 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. :-) 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. :-) 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). 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. :-) 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. :-)

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! :-) 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. :-)

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), 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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