Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Audacity of Podcasting & Popping

Napoleon's famous quote was "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace". If I'm not butchering the French, it was Napoleon's philosophy of war - always be audacious. A short, insecure balding fellow, he managed to make his mark on the world and impress the ladies. Another famous quote attributed to him "Engage the enemy and see what happens".

Well, I engaged the audacious enemy last night with my first foray into podcasting. At least podcasting as defined by Bart Farkas, who wrote a book about podcasting discussed in one of my earlier posts (I haven't mastered the art of self-citation yet, and I'm in a hurry, so feel free to dig). Farkas said that any time you are creating an MP3 and transmitting it to someone, you are podcasting.

I downloaded the free Audacity software. Go to Audacity.com - you won't find it there, but you'll get a laugh. The software is at sourceforge.net, it's free and open source. In Secrets of Podcasting, Farkas said that it was all you'd need.

It was easy to set up. I had a major hassle figuring out how to get Audacity to recognize my microphone, but once I did, we were friends. I took the online tutorial, which showed me how to make Bart Simpson's yells louder, softer, and bullet-shaped, or to delete a word from his dialogue with his teacher. Fun stuff for someone who knows nothing about audio engineering.

I recorded a passage from New York's Pattern Jury Instructions (I use them to draft complaints). I'm drafting a cybersquatting complaint and wanted to add state law claims that have not been preempted by the Lanham Act. My quote involved around the concept that "one is not entitled to reap where he has not sown." PJI 3:58 (1997 Supp. at 270).

I exported the file to the MP3 format. I played it, it worked. I put it in my Itunes library as "Track 1" of the Album "Procrastination Blues" (I am supposed to be writing a book and catching up on billables for clients). I then emailed it to my partner.

So I'm a podcaster, and it cost me nothing! The process, including my fumblings, stumblings, tutorials, and not understanding a single thing to start with took a maximum of two and one half hours (I actually downloaded the Audacity software in another session).

Problem: I am using a USB Senheisser microphone that I use for my Dragon dictation software. It "popped" all of my "P"s, so the sound quality of the recording was pretty awful. Looking at the recording, you can see from the sound waves that all of the "P"s are off the charts. I will have to explore whether I can eliminate popping through the Audacity software or whether I need new hardware. Consistent with this blog's philosophy, I will first explore the cheap or free solutions before buying a lot of expensive stuff I may never use. Fodder for future posts.

Lesson of the day: if you follow Napoleon's advice on audacity in podcasting, you may get popped.

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