Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Apple Geeks Rejoice!

Apple's new store at the Lehigh Valley Mall opens this weekend; specifically 10 a.m. this Saturday. I think a weekend expedition with the kids is in order.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eat. Drink. Stink.

The Easton Garlic Fest is coming Saturday, October 6. Check it out at www.eastongarlicfest.com. Unfortunately I won't be able to go this year, but I've heard nothing but good things about it so go, eat and enjoy the tasty wonders of garlic.

It's also First Weekend, so there's plenty to do even if you don't like garlic (though really, have you tried it?). According to the "First Weekend" brochure for October, on Saturday, the Farmer's Market will be in full swing, Porter's Pub is having a kilt night at 8 p.m. (wear a kill, get a free pint) and Nanny's Treasures will be having their grand opening (they're at 19 South Second Street).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Video: "Downtown Easton - Expect Great Things"

Dan McDonald, a student at Lafayette College, created a promotional film for Easton. Check it out.

Facebooking the Cosmic Cup

Troy Reynard, proprietor of the Cosmic Cup and barista extraordinare, is in Facebook. Friend him, you legions of Easton, friend him now!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jazz at the Cosmic Cup

The Cosmic Cup had live jazz tonight (with my boss on drums, so I stopped by with the kids for coffee, hazelnut chocalate gelato, and good music. We didn't stay long -- Jordan was tired after a big day at preschool -- but the kids seemed to enjoy it, and it was a great break from the regular routine. Luke really liked it, and spent half the time bouncing up and down on my lap, smiling at my friends, and occasionally pretending to be shy.

All in all, a good outing -- I hope Troy hosts more live music and other nighttime events this semester.

Radio Active #56: Facebook, Morphing Toddlers, Heroic Cthulhu

Logo: Nuketown Radio ActiveOn this edition of Radio Active, Nuketown ventures into Facebook, the epic MacQuest gets an update (and the nifty new/old iPod nano arrives) and Halo 3 looms like a shadow over all that we do. We've got Mighty Morphing Toddlers as Luke walks and talks like never before, and Jordan delves deep into Princess Star Wars.

Netheads round out the podcast with Heroic Cthulhu, a podcast/alternative ruleset that lets characters live more than one session, and Starship Dimensions, a web site for sizing up ships from myriad TV shows and movies. and Call of Cthulhu goes heroic. Get the podcast

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lafayette Day in the Square

Saturday, September 15 is "Lafayette Day in the Square", with a free trolly service running from Lafayette College down to Center Square. Once there students will find free food, the Easton Farmers Market, free food, and a fall fashion show, and to round things out, you can watch "Dr. Strangelove" under the stars from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Riverside Festival of the Arts at Riverside Park.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Riverside Festival of the Arts

Easton's Riverside Festival of the Arts will be held September 15th & 16th; Saturday it will run from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sunday it'll be open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

It will be held at the Riverside Park & Amphitheater, on Larry Holmes Drive, overlooking the Delaware River. It will include a juried art show & sale, live performances, art demonstrations, and a showing of the movie Dr. Strangelove under the stars.

Complete details are available on the Festival's web site.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nuketown Radio Active #55: After GenCon, Podcamp Philly, MacQuest, Too Many Games

Yep ... the podcast is back.

On this edition of Radio Active I've got some thoughts on GenCon 2007 and Podcamp Philly, catch folks up on what's happening at Nuketown, try and figure out what it takes for me to buy a Mac, discover the BioShock soundtrack, stop by Vegas After Midnight, delve into the D&D Insider, contemplate the Master Plan Podcast and review the pile of gaming goodness I picked up at GenCon. Get the show.

Main Street Initiative

I didn't realize it, but Easton's Main Street Initiative has a web site: www.eastonmainstreet.org. It has a shopping and dining directory, a calendar of events and a fledgling newsletter (which is not yet available via e-mail)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thoughts on Podcamp Philly 2007

For a while, it looked like the Unconference was going to live up to its name: while Podcamp Philly had a list of proposed seminars, we didn't get a concrete schedule until Wednesday. No worries though -- Podcamp's organized chaos congealed at the last moment, providing a rambling structure to a Saturday full of podcasting goodness.

The chaos lurked just behind the corners as folks tried to use the guest ids scribbled on whiteboards around the Drexel University classrooms to log into the wireless network … at least until they figured out that the IDs only worked on the lab computers. Wired connections for the wandering bands of Mac, Windows and Linux laptop owners were scrounged however, giving rise to deep-sea scuba-like drama as people swapped Ethernet cables back and forth to share net connections.

The sessions were about what you'd expect at any conference: some good, some blah, with the best ones being those that encouraged audience participation (the exception being Apple's GarageBand session, which gave a lightning fast overview of the software, but still managed to provide some helpful insights into it. Of course, the conference itself was free, which gives it an edge up over many conferences I've gone to that had so-so seminars but cost a few hundred dollars.

I was disappointed by lack of education-specific seminars -- there was one on parenting and podcasting, one on podcasting in K-12, and one about Drexel's Second Life Island that unfortunately ran out of time before we got to the island. Next year I'd like to get together with some of the other colleges and universities in the area to see if we can get a full track's worth of education podcast seminars together.

Organizationally, I'd love to have had a map of the buildings that would be hosting the sessions, more hands-on sessions (e.g. editing with Audacity or GarageBand) and a schedule that was firmed up a week in advance of the conference (the better to persuade my co-workers to attend).

It was excellent getting to meet Doug (Geek Acres) and MA (Better L* Than Never) in person and that alone made it worth going to the conference; everything else was just gravy.

The conference got great support from Philadelphia area businesses, including Comcast (free coffee form Starbucks), Microsoft (raffle for a fully-loaded Xbox 360) Otto's Mini (a car dealership which provided t-shirts) KYW News Radio (lots of free air time for commercials), Blogger & Podcaster (free subscriptions giveaways) and many, many more.
The event had plenty of things to do socially, with gatherings Friday and Saturday night. I didn't attend them -- I'm going to enough conferences this year that I thought it prudent to only go Saturday, and head home early to spend time with the family (and rescue Sue from the kids). But I could definitely see spending a full day there next year.

On a related note, I learned about Podcamp Second Life at this conference, and I'm definitely planning on attending when it's held in 2008. I think this could either be a fantastic venue for a podcamp (allowing a lot of people to attend from all over the world) or a disaster (as Second Life crashes under the strain). Either way, it'll be interesting but I do wonder how we'll get our t-shirts...

Overall, I had a lot of fun at the conference, learned enough to make the seminars worthwhile, and left with a thousand idea that I want to implement right now!

* * * Update * * *

Reading over my post again, I realized it may seem more negative than I meant to write. Chalk that up to a morning of vacuuming and a 4 a.m. wake up call from my daughter (and by wake up call, I mean, a scream about needing to go potty).

In any case, while there were some logistical challenges, I think the (un)conference was well worth attending and I went home eager to start trying out new things and reinvigorated about my own podcast (and with my mind spinning about another one I've been thinking of launching for about six months now).

The other thing it got me speculating about was the possibility of having some sort of meet up for Lehigh Valley podcasters and bloggers. I'm not thinking of anything like Podcamp Philly, but I was highly envious of the community they've got going down there. It seems to me that with all the colleges and businesses in the valley, we should be enough people and interest to get *something* going.

And on the topic of constructive suggestions for new seminars:

* Public Relations for Your Podcast: Tips on coming up with media kits, business cards and other supplemental material to promote your podcast.
* Video Podcasting Workshop: Have people bring their own video cameras, shoot video, and then workshop editing it into a vodcast

On the education front I'd love to learn how colleges and universities are using podcasting, from videotaping lab procedures to audio recordings of lectures to convincing faculty that all this stuff really can help (or talking about cases where it *didn't* help, 'cause I'm sure that has happened to.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Podcamp Philly 2007: Help, I hate the sound of my own voice!

Presented by Rick Glasby, Crashbang Digital, who discusses what mic to use, where to record, and how to tweak your recordings into shap

Which mic to use: you want to use some sort of condensor mic:

  • Samson CO1U - cardioid sensor

  • Audio Technica AT2020 - phantom power, cardiod sensor

  • Blue Snowball Mic (cardiod or omni directional, about $100, USB connection).

  • Alesis USB podcasting mic (usb, stand, headphones)

  • Tascam US-122LTNT (requires mixer, but uses a USB mixer)

USB Mics

  • Easily portable

  • Latency


  • Not easily portable

  • But easy to support multiple mics.

Follow the Path

  • Watch how the sound transits from microphone to computer to software. Follow the signal path to make sure you're not clipping at any point. You don't want the sound to clip (spiking waveforms that get horribly distorted and "clipped" in the final file.

Where do your record?

  • Want a place that absorbs a lot of sound -- carpeted room or walk-in closet. Not in a room with a lot of echo.

Addressing the mic

  • Proximity effect (closer is often better)

  • Wear headphones!

  • Watch your "P's" -- talk to the side of the mic or get a pop filter.

How to talk

  • try standing at your microphone.

  • Morganicsmethod.com for advice on speaking.

Podcamp Philly 2007: Your Podcast Statistics

Presented by Rob Safuto, RawVoice and the New York Minute Show.

Start off with round-table introductions and thoughts about statistics. Ideas include:

  • Libysyn

  • Know Your Audience - engagement

  • FeedBurner - RSS feed, media

  • Know Your Web site - Google analytics, wordpress.com

What's your goal:

I just want to know: what are my stats?

  • # of downloads

  • geographics

  • referrers

  • what clients are downloading stats

  • how can I tell how many are listening/viewing (and should I?) People are very sensitive to the big brother effect (e.g. the Sony Rootkit Incident of '06)

But what can I do with those stats?

  • use referrers to network with other podcasts who are linking to you.

  • use client list to determine which software to test your feeds in.

How do I know what they do?

  • Build the community; get feedback directly from comments and forms.

General advice

  • Don't assume that people will visit your site if the feed goes dead or fallow.

Sites that will track your podcast stats (and usually do someting with advertising):

Web site statistics

How do you share these stats?

  • Media kits (skepticality)

With regards to advertisers, they're going to want to know how many people they got referred, how many people got converted to buying the product/becoming a subscriber. Use specific codes/landing pages to track how well a campaign is working.

Run contests, ask people for feedback, social networks -- anything that builds community.

Podcamp Philly: Audio Editing Techniques

Presented by Mark Blevis, Electric Sky and Canadian Podcast Buffet.

The workshop's popular enough to push us into an overflow room. That means we can't interact with the presenter, but we do have wired connections and power! Mark is using Cubase on the Mac. Starts off talking about the ancient old days of tape editing, then transitions to digital editing.

First up, the clean cut, doing simple editing of clips with little background noise.

Second, editing clips from a coffee ship with heavy background news and some uhms. Talking about using crossfade to edit clips with busy ambiant backgrounds. Audacity can't do crossfades built in, so you have to separate into two tracks, fade one out and fade the other in.

It's possible to remove too many ummms and ahhs and breaths, making them sound robotic. People occasionally pause to think and your audio should for reflect that. Strongest, loudest aprt of your speech is always when you start a sentance. He's talking about actually editing breath sounds in to give things a more organic flow by putting them infront of peaks. That's just crazy talk!

In editing interviews, edit to the focus of the interview and leave in the ahs and ums, or at best, remove every other one. In recording interviews, if the interview is going to be 10 minutes, record 12 or 13 so you have an extra question or two you can swap in for a less-interesting or botched one.

Listening to this, it occurs to me that there are a lot of filters that I could be experimenting with for the podcast. Maybe I need to start a "Testing Range" podcast just to try out new techniques...

Wondering what's legal when you're doing podcasting & interviews? Check out the Podcasting Legal Guide.

Podcamp Philly: Second Life

I'll be cross-posting here and at Nuketown about Podcamp Philly; posting here allows me to easily tag stuff as belonging to PodCampPhilly2007.

On the geek side of SL, there are audio book examples for J.C. Hutchin's "Proto-Womb" for Seventh Son and a game field for Scott Sigler's The Rookie. In education, there's Drexel Island.

This conference, like GenCon, re-affirms that I need to get my act together with business cards, t-shirts and such. Bad form to show up without these in hand, and I've got a bunch more conferences and workshops coming up this year (both at work, and at home).