Sound Recording Tips and Techniques

Jon Udell found, a great site with tips for audio recording. Jeff Towne offers this excellent Minidisc Guide. Even with all their faults, I love MDs for remote recording. In fact, using the new 1GB HiMD disks and the new Sony HiMD recorder, I get nearly eight hours on a single disk. Using three HiMD recorders, I was able to record all three tracks of Bloggercon III by just starting recorders in each room and picking them up at the end of the day.

Jeff also reviews Audacity, which I use only in a pinch. Dave Slusher recently had the same type of catastrophic failure I’ve experienced as well. My first choice is Sound Forge.

There are many other interesting tips such as Barrett Golding’s Digital Editing Basics. In one example he shows (but doesn’t describe) an important sound-editing trick. In the example below, notice that he makes his cuts just before the beginning of the sound he’s removing and just before the next sound, not in the breath or even the silence between words. By making your cuts immediately before sound changes (e.g., the start of a new word), the new sound masks the abruptness of your edit. If you make your cuts earlier, you’ll hear them.

Sample Edit

You can spend hours exploring this great site.

IT Conversations Discussions

A fair number of listeners have been asking for a way to participate in dicussions about IT Conversations’ shows. What to do? We’ve got Trackbacks, so if you have a blog that sends out Trackback pings, they’ll be added to the program detail pages. And about a year ago I set up one of those discussion-forum packages for IT Conversations, but it was never very popular. Managing the spam wasn’t worth the hassle, so I turned it off. The IT Conversations wiki is working out, but I don’t think that’s a great format for open discussion.

What would you like to see (if anything) as a discussion tool in support of IT Conversations?

Amber Alert Podcast

Of course you wouldn’t really want a Podcast for announcing Amber Alerts. Time-shifted delivery isn’t such a good idea when people need help. But here’s an interesting application of email (not RSS) and audio. I’ve subscribed to California’s Emergency Digital Information Service for a long time now. I get email announcements of everything from severe weather and west-coast tsunami alerts, to earthquake reports and Amber alerts. This week they started using MP3 audio in addition to text.

Adam Green’s Software Stories

Adam Green has a new weekly podcast and his first show has an all-star cast of Hal Pawluk, Dan Bricklin, Bob Frankston and Jeffrey Tarter. If Adam can keep this up, it should be a great series. I’m trying to convince him to distribute the show under the IT Conversations umbrella to reach a wider audience, share in our evolving business model, etc., but I haven’t succeeded. Yet. 🙂 In the meantime, check out Adam Green’s Software Stories. Great stuff.

IT Conversations Announcements: January 28, 2005

(Hear the MP3 version)


  • Google Groups – Maybe Not. As those of you on the email list can see, I didn’t try the Google Groups experiment after all. Only two people asked me not to use their email addresses there, but I just ran out of time to get ready for the test. And it turns out that this system (handled by iPost) does a lot better job of formatting text than Google Groups, so I’d have to re-format the text messages to make the look decent there. I’ll be sticking with iPost for now.
  • RSS Feeds. As I also mentioned last week, I was testing running the RSS feeds through FeedBurner, but it turned out there was a problem for a significant number of subscribers. It’s not a FeedBurner bug, but rather a bug in the current version of iPodder, and it also turns out that nearly a quarter of you who subscribe to the MP3 and AAC feeds are using that software. So I won’t be using FeedBurner until version 2.0 of iPodder is released and it’s had some time to be widely adopted. Thanks for all your feedback on the RSS feeds.
  • It’s Pledge Week! Here in the Bay Area at least, it’s pledge week on public radio, and that got me thinking: How important is IT Conversations to you as compared to public radio? Do you contribute to your local NPR station (or some equivalent for non-U.S. listeners)? Don’t you think IT Conversations deserves a contribution of at least as much?

    Well, once again by popular demand the IT Conversations tip jar is open. You’ll find the Donate button on every web page.

  • But Wait! Rather than send me a few dollars by PayPal or Amazon, there’s a way you can do much more to help me continue to build IT Conversations, and it won’t cost you a penny. Here’s what would help me more than anything:

    I’d like you to think of what companies should be underwriting IT Conversations, and I’d like you to tell them that you think so. It could be the company you work for. It could be a vendor (such as Apple or other MP3-player manufacturers) who would obviously benefit from a presence on IT Conversations. It could be Microsoft or IBM or Google or Yahoo! It could be any company that you or your own company does business with that you think should be associated with IT Conversations and would like to get that message out to tens of thousands of listeners. All you have to do is email that company and CC me at

    Your message should be short and sweet. Tell them about IT Conversations, why IT Conversations is important to you, personally, and tell them why being an IT Conversations underwriter would be good for their business. Oh, and don’t forget to include my email address so that they know how to take the next step.

    If you know someone that buys advertising for the company, that’s great. But even if you just have a friend that works in the mailroom, get in touch with him or her and ask that they move your suggestion up the org chart to the right person. You might want to refer them to a few of the reviews and testimonials I’ve posted on the site. You’ll find them at You may even find your own comments there, if they’re available on your blog or elsewhere online. (I haven’t posted many of the hundreds of email comments I get because I want prospective underwriters to be able to verify that the comments are legitimate and independent.)

    I’ve never tried this before, but I have a feeling that if the thousands of IT Conversations listeners each send one email message to a prospective underwriter, some of them will get to the right person in the right companies, and IT Conversations will soon have its first real underwriters. Again, please CC me, so I know how many such messages are being sent out.

    You’ll begin hearing brief thank-you messages to those who support IT Conversations programs. These messages won’t be in the middle of the programs, just briefly at the beginning and end.

  • Just one more request during our own version of NPR’s Pledge Week. There’s a web site called that rates various podcasts based on user votes. As of Thursday night, IT Conversations is #29 and slipping in the ratings. It turns out that many of the other podcasts are, now like me, asking their listeners to vote for them.

    Well, since it is Pledge Week after all, and I’m not above begging, please go to and put in a vote for IT Conversations. In fact, while you’re there, leave a comment, too. I really think we should be in the Top Ten list, don’t you?

New Programs This Week

  • The Gillmor Gang (3.3). Last week’s show was again highly rated. It’s all about blogging and RSS with The Gang’s special guests, Rafat Ali and Stephen O’Grady. Does Bloglines represent the tipping point for blogs? What about blogs in the corporate world? Is there a role for blogs in business processes? And do blogs make companies more transparent? Blogs are simple and valuable, so why aren’t they part of IBM or Micorosoft’s plans for their collaborative-software products?
  • Pervasive Computing from Accelerating Change (2.6). Once again it looks like panel discussions just aren’t the favorite format for IT Conversations listeners even though this one has some very good speakers. “The Impacts of Persistent Distributed IT” included panelists Dana Blankenhorn (writer and consultant), Joachim Schaper (SAP Research Labs) and Andreas Olligschlaeger (TruNorth Data Systems).
  • Ken Schwaber at the SDForum Agile Summit (3.7). Here’s a program that’s very specialized but also the highest-rated show of the week: The benefits of Agile are many, the implementation is easy, and the problems are daunting. In this presentation entitled, “You Thought it was Easy: Wrestling Gold from Today’s Software Projects,” Ken Schwaber, Senior Consultant, Cutter Consortium & Chairman of the Agile Alliance, discusses the obstacles to wresting that gold. If you’re a programmer or an IT manager, this is one you should hear.
  • Joe Kraus Introduces JotSpot (2.5). And clearly, vendor announcements are rated even lower than panel discussions. Sean Bonner wrote, “[JotSpot] is a cool wiki-ish app that does the standard wiki stuff but also allows you to e-mail pages around and rank users (giving them specific access based on that). Additionally it lets you use forms and include structured info on the page. One thing that looks really cool is the ability to integrate RSS feeds and Google searches and all kinds of feeds like that.”
  • Innovation Managers Panel (2.6). Even though panels aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I do want to bring you all the sessions from the events we cover, because each session — even a panels — is valuable to at least part of the audience. “IT, Nanotech, and Venture Capital” with Cynthia Breazeale (Intel), Steve Jurvetson (Draper Fisher Jurvetson), and Christine Peterson, Co-Founder and Vice President of the Foresight Institute. From Accelerating Change 2004.
  • Clint Bajakian – Game Audio Production (too late for review). We’ve still got a few sessions from the O’Reilly Mac OS X conference to bring you. This one is rather specialized. For many top composers and sound designers, the Macintosh is the tool of choice for videogame music and audio production. Clint Bajakian, recipient of the 2003 Game Audio Network Guild awards for Best Interactive Score and Music, walks you through his production process and demonstrates the possibilities of interactive audio. Clint also lays out his vision for the next-generation software tools that could make the Mac an even better platform for audio production.
  • Tech Nation – January 27, 2005 (too late for review). On this week’s Tech Nation, Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Barbara Kellerman, Research Director, Center for Public Leadership, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and the author of Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters about what makes for bad leaders. Just so you know, Dr. Kellerman names names.

    Moira also speaks with futurist and forecaster Mary O’Hara-Devereaux, a forecaster, the CEO of Global Foresight, and author of Navigating the Badlands: Thriving in the Decade of Radical Transformation. She believes we’ve entered a period of disruptive innovation, and the next two decades will be a wild ride – she calls them “The Badlands.”

    And in this week’s BioTech Nation segment, Dr. Sunil Maulik, chairman and CEO of GeneEd, Inc., explains how you can learn the basics of biotech — online. You won’t be a scientist, but you might have a new career.

From the Archives

Here’s one of my personal favorite programs from the IT Conversations archives:

  • Tim O’Reilly: The Software Paradigm Shift (4.3). Not only is this one of my favorites, it’s also one of yours. In fact, this is the highest rated show of the more than 400 in the IT Conversations archives. It’s an interview I did with Tim O’Reilly nearly a year and a half ago — back in the days of more primitive audio hardware — and it’s encoded at only half the bitrate that I’m using now. Still, if you haven’t heard it, I think you’ll enjoy it.

    “We’re at the end of the personal-computing era. We’re at the beginning of something profoundly different.” Ask most people what software they use, and you’re not likely to hear Linux. Yet many of the most popular web sites are based on Linux and other open-source tools. Tim says the operating system no longer matters — no more than the browser or the CPU matters. Applications now live above the level of a single device or operating system. The “paradigm failure” is that people don’t understand the importance of sites like, eBay, and Google, because they are so locked into the PC application model. “We’re commoditizing software in the same way as hardware was commoditized in the ’80s,” he says, “and value is being driven up the stack to next-generation information services and applications.”

    I encourage you to get to know the man behind the animal-woodcut covers that fill our shelves. His mission: “Technology transfer — helping important technologies become more widespread” and to “create more value than we capture.”

Status Reports via RSS

This isn’t a new idea, but I’ve been getting status reports via RSS of temporary performance problems, outages (none), updates, etc., from the gang at FeedBurner. This is awesome. I want an RSS feed for every product and service I use: my computer hardware, my software, my car, my refrigerator. And I want a way to tell my aggregator(s) to check some of these feeds only once a day or whatever. (Using a web-based aggregator like NewsGator Online makes this a bit less important.) Many people have suggested this before, but I never realized how great it is to get this information proactively and not in email.

Podcast Feed Problems

Because of a bug in iPodder (lemon) I have turned off the use of FeedBurner for the IT Conversations Everything feeds. The bug will be corrected in iPodder 2.0, which just entered beta test. Once that client is widely distributed, I plan to redirect to FeedBurner again. This explains the slight drop in traffic since 25% or so of the IT Conversations RSS traffic comes from iPodder.

Looking for a CMS

IT Conversations has outgrown my homebrew content-management system and I’m looking for a replacement, preferably one written in PHP. Any recommendations?

During my research I’ve discovered that the term “content-manatement system,” which meant one thing in the pre-Web days, now usually refers to a web-site creation, management and runtime tool, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I just want a good behind-the-scenes package for managing the content on the input side of the database.

The IT Conversations site is rendered dynamically and statically from a MySQL database using PHP, Smarty (templates) and a fair amount of custom code. I’m happy with the rendering side of things. But I’ve also got a web-based admin system for adding and editing the data from which the site is rendered, and that’s the piece I want to replace. For example, the current system has no concepts of users or groups, so I can’t safely invite others to manage portions of the content.

As I look (superficially) at packages luke Drupal and Mambo, it doesn’t appear that they can be used to manage an arbitrary schema. Rather you’ve got to use their schemas, and I’d prefer not to have to convert the entire site, since I like the way it’s organized internally.

Podcasting Metrics – A Strawman

If we’re going to attracts advertisers, sponsors and undewriters to our podcasts, we’re going to have to give them statistics, preferably audited. And if we all use the same metrics we’ll be able to educate media buyers more quickly and accelerate their decision making.

Just to get the discussion moving, I’ve posted some thoughts on how podcasters might measure and report their listenership on the IT Conversations wiki. Feel free to add your ideas or comment on mine.