Archive for the Category Podcast

 
 

The Morning TV Show Format

O.A.R. was on the VH-1 Morning Buzz show this morning. They were performing a new song I hadn’t heard before, so I watched the show.

It was painful. Not O.A.R. They were great, even with a stripped down four piece version of the band. (Chris and Benj were absent.) It’s the television show: A cheap, stripped-down, grasping-at-straws-for-content version of Today or GMA, which are similar poor shows just with bigger budgets.

I don’t watch much television anymore, and I definitely don’t watch any of the morning shows. So while I’m familiar with the format from so long ago it feels like a previous life, I haven’t sat through an example of it in years.

It’s bad.

In the half hour or forty minutes I saw, host Nick Lachey and his two co-hostesses ran through a ridiculous number of spots, one more hollow than the next. There was the bartender showing them how to make fancy mixed drinks. There was the pole dancer showing the three hosts how to pole dance (I notice the second hostess stood by and never got on the pole — she must be the smart one). There was a three minute interview with Akon, following by two questions asked from tourists on the street. Nick Lachey sang 20 seconds of a song coming out of a break. An even more annoying co-host helped introduce O.A.R. and smiled like a doofus when Lachey teased the next show. Lachey went out into the “crowd” of about 20 people in Times Square to answer a couple of Tweets, and then took a selfie or two with the people.

Bam bam bam bam. Don’t blink or you’ll miss a segment. Better idea: Blink and you WILL miss a segment. One more vapid than the next. Lachey reading his questions off index cards is painful, especially when he can’t pronounce the name of an artist he just referred to as a “major” one, like he had never heard of Matisyahu before.

Later on, I listened to a Nerdist podcast where the host and friends interviewed Donald Fasion for an hour.* Sure, the topics were a bit scattered, but there was a flow of conversation that didn’t seem scripted or rehearsed. It felt natural. It was funny. It was entertaining. I learned a thing or two and had a couple fun flashbacks to things I had forgotten about. Obviously, they went into the podcast with topics to discuss, but it wasn’t carefully planned. All the proof you need of that is the awkward way it ended, like all Nerdist podcasts. There’s about three rounds of good-byes before the tangents stop and they actually end the recording.

Morning Television is the true vast wasteland, showing us on a daily fast-forwardable basis just how scattershot and minimally attentive television audiences are assumed to be. I’d rather sit in a chair, close my eyes, and listen to a podcast, where there’s no commercial breaks, no need for multiple segments, the freedom to talk about anything using whatever language they see fit, and a sense of spontaneity not created by cringe-worthy audience interaction.

Give me podcasts or give me — well, boredom!

Wanted: More Ruby Podcasts

I made a comment on Twitter last night which was impossible to defend in 140 character installments. So let’s unpack it here today.

I wondered if the Ruby Rogues podcast hadn’t ‘cornered’ the market on Ruby podcasting. Not that they drove everyone else out or that everyone is afraid or them or anything negative like that. There’s just no “competition.” (Another qualifier: Additional podcasts wouldn’t necessarily be competition. It’s not a zero sum game.)

I love the Rogues podcast and went back and listened to every episode of interest after I found the show (and some on topics I didn’t much care about). It’s a weekly fixture in my podcast listening.

But I want more. I want to listen to more people talking about Ruby. So I scour the iTunes store and find — very little else. The other mainstay of my podcast listening routine is Giant Robots Smashing Other Giant Robots via Ben Orenstein and Thoughbot. It’s a weekly shorter show devoted to Ruby and Ruby-esque topics. There’s the usual parade of guests, a variety of topics, and occasional mirth and hilarity.

After that? Not much. Ruby5 is still going, with two five minute Ruby news updates per week. Other Ruby shows have podfaded away. It sometimes seems like the glory days of Ruby podcasting might have been five years ago. Even then, it wasn’t all that huge a market.

So why aren’t there more?

I know the Ruby market isn’t THAT big, but there’s room for more podcasts with a variety of angles and personalities, I should think. I compare it to the Apple/iOS podcasting market, which is practically flooded. Putting aside the more general interest tech shows that glance across programming and development for a moment (like Mac Break Weekly or The Prompt or Amplified), you have developer-led shows like Developing Perspective (done by a former Ruby on Rails developer), Edge Cases, Core Intuition (one of whom does some Rails work), Identical Cousins, Accidental Tech Podcast (a more general interest tech podcast, but it gets back to development often enough that I’ll count it here), Debug, Systematic (that might be stretching it a bit), and probably one or two others I’m forgetting at the moment.

Where are THOSE shows for Ruby programmers? Where’s the solo Ruby programmer-led development podcast? Or where’s the show with the two friends discussing their Ruby projects and programming, in general? Where’s the show interviewing Ruby programmers about their history with the language and their views on computers and programming, in general?

It might just be a difference in cultures. iOS developers are often product developers working independently creating stuff they hope to sell directly to consumers. Ruby programmers tend to be consultants who develop other people’s websites, often the kind we’ll never see or care about. They might be company intranets. They might be under an NDA. And, well, websites aren’t as sexy to talk about as GPS-enables smartphones with database access, 3D animation built in, touch interfaces, etc. etc.

iOS developers have new hardware to play with and a new API to use every year. They have a consumer-facing product to sell. Ruby is on version 2. Ruby on Rails is on version 4, nearly a decade later. The big changes aren’t as numerous to provide a constant flow of show topics, nor are they terribly exciting or noticeable to front-end users. And discussing code on a podcast is often the least effective way to deliver the information. Screencasts or blog posts are far more effective.

Maybe what I want is impossible to effectively deliver? Or maybe what I want isn’t really what I want?

What I want is more fun programming discussion centered on Ruby that I can listen to in my drive back and forth to work. If I learn something, all the better. I wish I had time to do it myself, but even my days as a solo podcaster are behind me due to time constraints.

I guess I’m hoping that someone is inspired by other podcasts to create a new one for the Ruby community to enjoy. There are a lot more models than the panel show. Maybe I’ve given someone some ideas here. I’d listen.

Podcast Catch Up

I did the WordBalloon Podcast with John Siuntres a couple weeks ago. (You can hear the whole thing here.) I had a fun time, and was reminded of how much I enjoy and fear podcasting, all at the same time. As a writer, it’s easy to work in advance and fact-check and edit everything to a fine point. Podcasting is painting in broad strokes. There are no re-dos and no time to check things while you’re going. I said a couple of things I wish I could have looked up on Google to fact check as soon as I said them. I can’t insert a link to back up what I had just said. And, sometimes, my thoughts would go competely off the rails and I had to fight my own way back.

Such is life. I had fun and will do it again someday, I’m sure.

The funny thing is, it’s the first podcast I’ve done in years. All of my equipment was boxed up. It was fun unboxing and testing everything, so I thought I’d document that process here.

First, you can see the set-up I was using in my podcasting prime in this write-up from six years ago on this very site. I don’t have the compressor anymore. Sold that on eBay a couple years back to fund another purchase, probably a camera lens. The mic stand is gone, too. It’s cheap enough to replace, should I ever get back into the game seriously. And if I did do a comeback, I might be more interested in going all the way and getting a boom arm that swings away from me when I’m not using it.

I’m also not using that Power Mac anymore. It’s since been replaced with an iMac. But for WordBalloon, since I wasn’t the one recording it, I didn’t even need that much power. I used an old MacBook. It goes back to 2008, I think. It’s a white plastic one, pre-uni-body construction. It’s Intel inside, at least.

But the real reason for using it is that I couldn’t record a podcast upstairs. My wife and daughter were sleeping in adjacent rooms to my “man cave.” And I’m a loud podcaster. That’s my mic technique. I had to record two floors below, in the basement, which has pretty poor wi-fi.

I used a 75 foot Cat6 cable. It’s something I bought with an eye towards eventually snaking it through the walls into the basement from the router in the man cave to set up a second router down there to create a second wi-fi zone that would be more reliable. Also, I could plug the Blu-Ray player directly in. And the Apple TV. And does the Wii have an ethernet port? I don’t remember.

That project still hasn’t happened, but the Cat6 cable was long enough to plug it into the router upstairs, drag it down the hall, drop it down four flights of stairs, and then pull it across the basement to the far corner where I could most comfortably record.

I nestled the mic in a couple of pillows covered by a blanket to help keep the echoing down. I sat on the couch in front of it and leaned over the mic to record. It’s not the most comfortable way to do it, but it produced the best results in the short time I had to test. (Thanks, Skype Call Testing!)

The mic is not powered, so I still used the small mixing board to provide phantom power, and then plugged that in through the USB port via a dongle thing from Griffin. My headphones went into the headphone jack on the laptop so I could hear John on the other end of Skype.

It’s been so long since I’ve used Skype, I was forced to upgrade from v2.x to version 6.x.

After that, it was an hour and a half of chatting and recording, then breaking everything back down, boxing it up into the back closet, and rolling up the wire.

Doing this one podcast got me excited to do two things:

  1. More podcasts.
  2. Wire up the network in the basement.

We’ll see if either of those things actually happens in 2013. I’d bet more on the latter than the former. That would make for a good blog post. Hey, maybe I’ll make it a New Year’s Resolution!

Things That Have Changed in College Radio

I spent a couple of hours at my alma mater over the weekend last month. It was alumni/reunion weekend, and the radio station opened its doors to any previous radio hosts who wanted to do a shift. Friend Frank and I, who did a show together sporadically over our four years there, teamed up once again to inflict the masses with bad humor, 90s music, and our trademark witty repartee.

Here’s what I learned from the experience:

  • I am old. One of the radio station hosts met us. He said he thinks 90s music is the best, and that he was born in the 90s. My head had to quickly do the math. Every student at the school, save a few seniors, were born in the 90s, two decades ahead of when I was born (mid-70s). Yikes.

  • Radio isn’t dead. The internet took it over. The school no longer has a transmitter. The old 10 watter didn’t power the station past two miles, but now it’s gone all together. If you want to listen to the radio station on campus, you can stream it over the website. The sad part is, the website is in flash. You can’t stream the radio station through your mobile devices. Sad.

  • Digital, Digital, Digital. When we were on the air from 1994-1998, we brought stacks of CDs with us. We juggled them across two CD players and a couple of cart decks for the PSAs and whatnot. We made it work. Today, they still have two CD players, but most of the music comes through the “LapLine.” That’s the wire that goes to the DJ’s laptop/iPhone/iPod. There’s not a single CD, cart, or vinyl album in the studios. There is a turntable over on the side, but it’s not plugged in.

  • Everything is automated. Like all radio stations, there’s a computer hooked up to the station that automates everything. If the next host doesn’t show up, just turn up the volume on the automation and leave the station. It’ll take care of itself. That’s nice. In professional radio, of course, the automation is used to carefully plan for that station’s specific brand of homogenization. The hosts are there to pre-record their bits that the engineer then intersperses with the music to make it seem authentic while always “hitting the post.”

  • Radio, front and center! The radio station moved out of the basement of one of the dorm buildings into the University Center, where you work in a fishbowl. The studio is up front with tall glass windows so everyone can see the DJs on the air. It’s a nice advertisement for the radio station, but I liked hiding behind the microphone in the basement of the dorm building and not being seen while at the station. By the way, and the station doesn’t play inside the University Center at all.

It was a lot of fun, particularly with all the cool toys to play with — mics on swing arms, the mixer board with all the sliders, the automation as backup, etc. etc. I’d love to do it again.

It almost makes me want to podcast again, but there’s no way I could commit to that schedule right now. It’s the same reason that I’d love to have Dragon Dictate on my computer but never will. I use the computer the most in my den/home office/Man Cave after my wife and daughter go to sleep. The den is right next to their rooms. I can’t be talking to myself in there all night or I’d be waking them up. Someday, I’ll get a Cat5/6 cable run down to the basement and be able to plug into the network, rather than use spotty Wi-fi. Then I could theoretically podcast from the laptop. If I was doing a solo show, I could record to my iPhone, for goodness’ sake. I’ve done that before. Time is the enemy of us all, I’m afraid.

But being on the radio is really cool, even when you have no idea if anyone is listening. . .Things that have changed in college radio

Apple’s Podcasts App Tip

The Podcasts App is a truly horrible piece of programming. Apple should be ashamed. It’s awful.

My biggest complaint lately is that it doesn’t sync up properly with iTunes. Today, I finally figured out what you have to do to get sync working correctly. You need to kill the Podcasts process all together before syncing, or else it’ll never copy podcasts over to your phone. Don’t just close it, but then double tap the Home button and press on an icon until it gets all wiggly and you can tap the “X” in the corner to kill it all together.

Now, if only there was a way to remove a podcast from the app. No, not an individual show, but the show as a whole. I have one podcast whose RSS feed changed recently, leaving behind a duplicate obsolete feed that I can’t remove. I signed up to it through the app originally, I think, and not through iTunes, so I guess it doesn’t have a clue. So annoying.

But I continue to use it because it does sync up with iTunes and it has the 30 second skip button. So I’m stuck with it for now. Ugh.

More Talk Show Follow Up

On the second episode of “The Talk Show,” John Gruber ‘finally’ discussed his reasons for leaving the 5by5 Network. Without going into detail, he cited “long standing business disagreements.”

I’ll take that as confirmation of the t-shirt sales being the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

It points to a much larger problem: There’s no money in podcasting. It’s advertising-driven. The only way to bring in real money is to grow a large network and sell ads across the whole spectrum. And unless there’s an understanding and a deep contract between podcast network owner and podcast hosts, you’re just walking into a sea of hurt. At some point, the business needs will need to trump the host’s needs, and something will give. The business dies, or the podcast(s) die(s).

What we have here, I imagine, is that conflict come to life.

5by5 is not Mule – 5by5 is one man’s business and livelihood, put together with a bunch of his friends and acquaintances. But, in the end, he still has a roof over his head and a wife and kids to bring money home for.

Mule Syndicate is an off-shoot of a web design company. It’s not The Business. It’s a hobby thing. It doesn’t have the same pressures on it that a full podcasting network has. Or, at least, it doesn’t yet. As it grows more popular and more shows appear, Mule will have to decide to either get serious about the business behind the network or cut it loose, because it’ll take too much time, attention, and resources to keep running properly.

Perhaps it won’t be so harsh, though. I’m sure the man who famously gave the “::bleep:: You, Pay Me” talk has contracts in place with his current hosts, with ad splits in writing and all the rest. But we’ll see what happens if the upstart podcast network finds its feet and starts to grow too fast.

Meanwhile, let’s hope this means Dan Benjamin is having conversations with his podcasts’ hosts about what happened and how he’s going to prevent it from happening again. Maybe more things are being put into writing. Maybe someone else will jump ship for a “better deal.” I don’t know. I just know that I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before, and we’re likely to see it again.

As much as I love the podcasts I listen to – they’re all I’ve listened to for the past five years, really – I have to admit that there isn’t the mainstream acceptance and audience for them that would be required for a network to truly take off, with few exceptions.

The TWIT network is seemingly stable with a ridiculous growth rate and a million dollar studio, but that’s partially funded by its owner’s day job, and comes with a large built-in audience from a long-dead cable network that we never got in my area back in the day.

Meanwhile, Rev3 has changed business models repeatedly, and now has sold itself to a cable channel which will no doubt change it once more.

And have you noticed how it’s the same dozen companies sponsoring all of the aforementioned podcasting networks? And a lot of them, I imagine, aren’t straight up cash deals – they’re bounty systems. If someone signs up for their services with a given code, that network gets money. Otherwise, nothing. Adam Curry and Leo LaPorte discussed this in passing on TWIT this week, as a matter of fact.

But there isn’t a terribly deep pool of podcast sponsors out there. After you get past SquareSpace and Audible and a couple of software companies with relatively expensive programs to offer, the well dries up fast.

And I have a long list of dead and gone podcasts to show for it in my iTunes feed. . .

Being a compendium of wild speculation

Update: And, of course, within an hour of posting this, Dan Benjamin has issued a carefully scripted five minute statement. Basically, Gruber told Benjamin it was time to move on. Benjamin was hurt/disappointed that Gruber took “The Talk Show” name with him, feeling that it was a show and a format they had developed together. And that’s it. Unless, of course, he’s hiding the truth that you’ll read in speculation below. ;-) And that’s that.

The sudden appearance of John Gruber’s “The Talk Show” podcast on the Mule Radio Syndicate last week set tongues wagging in the tech podcasting community. There was no announcement from any side of the story about the change. Gruber didn’t announce that the show was ending at 5by5 or beginning anew somewhere else. 5by5 didn’t announce or hint at the show leaving. And Mule didn’t tease its Big Get.

It just… happened. It was similar, as I tweeted over the weekend, to the way Apple does things. It waits until it’s ready and then releases it. It doesn’t mention that it’s working on anything or tease that anything is coming or pre-announce it (unless it’s forced to by a government agency’s clearance necessities, as with the iPhone.) So, in that way, it’s fitting.

Still, the “radio silence” from all ends on the issue is deafening. The last episode of “The Talk Show” on the 5by5 network ended without cause for alarm. Sure, you could dive deep into it and suspect something was amiss. But Gruber’s typically abrupt style and the banter between he and host Dan Benjamin didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary. If you wanted to read into it, you could. The show ended with Benjamin teasing “The Talk Show” t-shirts for sale in time for WWDC. And Gruber has since started a Just-In-Time-for-WWDC “Daring Fireball” t-shirt sale. Did “The Talk Show” end at 5by5 over merchandise sales? Did Gruber think Benjamin overstepped his bounds in an attempt to raise money for his network on the back of Gruber’s name and show at a time when Gruber was planning his own t-shirt sale? This wouldn’t be an unprecedented thing. I can cite an example or two in the comic book industry, for example, where creators left a publisher over a sudden change in contract terms or a new business model mandated by economic necessity, sometimes with very bad feelings on all sides.

That last episode was on 02 May. There was no show the following week. I guess we should have seen that as a hint. The last time Gruber missed a show, Benjamin brought in Jim Dalrymple to guest host. That was episode 85 on 28 March. The next month, Dalrymple started his own weekly chat show, “Amplified,” which is like “The Talk Show” with more music talk and less James Bond and baseball chat.

Gruber appeared on an episode of “Mac Break Weekly” on the TWIT Podcasting Network last month, too. I have a hard time that he had returned to the show to test the waters or to talk with someone there about moving the show to TWIT, though, for a couple of reasons. One, Chief TWIT Leo LaPorte was not in the U.S. at that point, taking part in a photographic adventure in Europe. Second, Gruber has appeared on the TWIT network before, though sparingly. Third, he was invited on the show by his friend and the episode’s interim host, Andy Ihnatko, with whom he had just attended a Mac conference in Ireland. So I’m not lending that any credence.

Or is the silence from all sides just an example of their typical business practices. The behind the scenes stuff stays behind the scenes and the shows carry on. Why tarnish a good thing with a public airing of dirty laundry, if any exists? Or, if there is none, maybe the belief is that the behind the scenes stuff should stay quiet no matter what – this way, the precedent is set and in the case of something ugly happening, it’s standard operating procedure not to say anything and nobody would be the wiser.

I have a hard time believing Gruber left 5by5 to join Mule so that he could host his own show. Benjamin is so busy building his network and adding new shows to it that it would have been a relief for him to host one less. “The Talk Show” was a cornerstone of 5by5 going back to its earliest days, so why would he want to lose it? And being able to sell advertisers on a plug not just on the podcast but also on DaringFireball, “The Talk Show” was a very attractive deal, indeed.

There, you can speculate some more: Did Gruber not get a cut of that advertising? Somehow, I doubt that. But there’s a possible scenario. Did Gruber get a more attractive offer from Mule and a bigger cut of the advertising? (To quote Monteiro: “Eff you. Pay me.”)

Or is all of this speculation just hiding a simpler truth: Gruber wanted to work for a different buddy of his. Mike Monteiro’s style – sarcastic, opinionated, abrasive – is more fitting with Gruber’s own style. Maybe the two just get together better and Gruber wanted to help a buddy out with his new business venture. Monteiro, remember, started his show on 5by5 before leaving to start his own podcasting network around it. So the switch isn’t – again, here’s that word – unprecedented.

But if that’s the case, why the silence? Wouldn’t Benjamin make a big deal of wishing his friend well on his other friend’s new network?

Or, oh, let’s engage in more groundless speculation: Is Benjamin pissed at Monteiro for using 5by5 to kickstart his own upstart tech network with shows directly competing with his own? Is Benjamin’s silence just a way of not promoting someone else’s network, particularly another network with many of the same sponsors? That would be a smart business move.

Or is Gruber just a jerk who walked out on his buddy?

Or did Benjamin make a key mistake in the way he positions his network? In conversations with the hosts, he always points out that it’s their show. He’s just helping host it and shepherd it along. So now, when one host takes “his” show and moves out, Benjamin can’t be surprised or shocked that the deal he’s publicly espoused hasn’t worked out in his favor.

We just don’t know. We may never know. I’m sure some loose lips at WWDC will let the rumors fly. Or maybe someone will say something before then, officially. And maybe we’ll believe it.

I love the drama.

The long and short of it is, let’s hope everyone is happy and produces good shows. I’m not a regular listener of “The Talk Show” just because I read Daring Fireball everyday and feel like most of the podcast is a repeat of what I read there. So this move doesn’t affect me directly. It only hurts me if it hurts 5by5, which has two or three other shows I’m a big fan of. ( “Build and Analyze” and “HyperCritical” are two of my current favorite Never Miss shows.) And Benjamin has already announced a new weekly show “Big Week” that’ll effectively replace it. So maybe it’s just more of the same ebb and flow of podcasting. The 5by5 Network is littered with dead shows, and now The Talk Show is just one more. It just happens to be the first to move under undefined circumstances.

And so it goes. Now excuse me while I go listen to a podcast completely unaffiliated with any of these networks. I need to get away from it all for the next hour or so…

Podcasting Gear for Sale

With all of my podcasting now done very lo-fi via the iPhone, I’m clearing some of the old equipment out, and I’m selling the compressor. It’s a nice bit of audio kit for your recording needs, really helping to fill out the sound of your voice in a recording. It’s getting $175 on Amazon used these days, but I though I’d try to avoid those fees by offering it up here first. If anyone wants it, it’s yours for a mere $150 via PayPal.com, shipping included. Email me at augiedb AT Gmail DOT com with any questions or offers…

There are a few scratches on top of the box, but that’s completely cosmetic. yes, the power cord (not pictured) is also included.

Click on the pics below for larger sizes, if interested.

Really Nice Compressor 1

Really Nice Compressor 3

Really Nice Compressor 2

Podcast Recommendation: Martin Bailey

We’re going to start talking iPhone soon, but here’s a podcast worth listening to, if you’re photographically-inclined:

The Martin Bailey Photography Podcast (link opens iTunes) is unique on the list of podcasts I listen to.  It’s the only one that blends its audio presentation with still frames.  (There is a plain MP3 version without the slideshow accompaniment, but that sounds tedious to me.)  Bailey is a semi-professional photographer, I suppose.  He has a day job, but spends the rest of his time specializing in nature photography.  Here’s the twist:  He’s a Briton living in Japan.  His podcast is often half-travelogue, half photography primer.  He tells the stories behind the pictures, the technical aspects of the pictures, and more.

His presentation is very calm and methodical, lasting about a half hour or so per weekly episode.  You’ll learn about photography, Japan, nature, and a whole lot more along the way.  It’s a great show.

Check out his portfolio at MartinBaileyPhotography.com.  Beautiful stuff, and he’s a Canon shooter, too. Those are turning into a rare breed these days. ::sigh::

Previous Photography Podcast Posts:

More Photography Podcast Suggestions

TWIP is “This Week in Photography.” Hosted by former Apple and Adobe marketer Frederick Van Johnson, it’s a weekly venture into the world of photography, with the news, the reviews, the picks of the week, your questions answered, and an interview with some photo luminary.  Other regulars include Alex Lindsay, pro photog Steve Simon, and Ron Brinkmann (now at Amazon).  Scott Bourne co-founded the show before moving on to start his own a year later, but we’ll get to that next.

The show has improved a bunch this year, speeding its way through the boring boilerplate stuff and eliminating the running gags turned time wasters.  On the other hand, the production notes are referenced way too often, taking all the magic away from them.  Seriously, knowing everything that’s going to happen on the show ahead of time is a good thing to do.  Telling the world as you go along that you’re paying close attention to it kinda defeats half the purpose.

Also, every other sentence in the show is followed with, “And we’ll have a link to that in the show notes.” That’s a general pet peeve of mine with most podcasts, but it gets really annoying on TWIP.  I can assume the show notes will have everything in them, thanks.  It’s obvious.

Scott Bourne left the show earlier this year to start his own podcast and blog, Photo Focus.  The podcast is 40 minutes long or so, and released three times a month.  (On the 5th, 15th, and 25th of the money.  His iPhone show had a similar schedule, once upon a time.)

In Bourne’s show, he and co-host Rick Sammon (pro shooter and photography educator/book writer) take rapid fire questions from the audience and answer away. There’s usually one short guest spot from a known name in photog circles to answer a couple of qurestions, too.

Bourne hosts the show with the iron fist he could never used on TWIP to keep everything on topic and moving forward. He occasionally lapses into his old school radio talk show host voice, which is a little jarring from a guy I’m used to hearing more conversationally on Mac Break Weekly.  And Sammon has two or three pet phrases that will make you want to scream after you’ve heard them for the 100th time, no matter where he is.  (The camera looks both ways, you know. ARGH!  I GET IT! STOP!)

It’s a good show to learn a little about a lot.  You’ll see some recurring answers as you listen, but that’ll help you learn, too. The show is all of six episodes old right now, so feel free to start from the beginning.

Photo Podcasts, Part One

When I decided almost two years ago to get serious about my photography, I knew I had a lot to learn.  And as anxious as I was to get a camera and start shooting, I had to save up the money for it — which meant, mostly, selling a bunch of DVDs on the Amazon Marketplace.  It was well worth it, but it left me with about four months of research time leading to the purchase of the actual camera.

I read tons of photography magazines and listened to wall-to-wall photography podcasts.  We’ll talk about my frustrations with the magazines another time.  This week, I want to mention some of the podcasts I’ve listened to, and continue to listen to.

I don’t remember which one was the first anymore, but one of the early ones had to be Digital Photo Life.  Back then, it was The Digital Photography Show, but it recently switched networks and started from scratch again.  The show is hosted by two photo enthusiasts, Scott Sherman and Michael Stein, who once took a photo workshop together and decided to start a podcast.

Each week’s show features giveaways, interviews, news, and reviews.  Scott’s a Canon shooter; Michael’s a Nikon shooter.  So it’s all balanced out.

Recent shows have either been “too beginner” for me or an interview with a spokesman from a company hawking their wares.  I’ve grown tired of such interviews now, but when I was just learning about these things, I ate it all up.  So it might still be good for you.

My biggest gripe with the show today is that the boilerplate stuff goes on forever, with more websites and gmail addresses than you could shake a stick at.  One show literally didn’t start for 18 minutes.  That wasn’t good.

Still, it’s an entertaining show with personality and enthusiastic hosts with a great camaraderie.  Give it a shot if you’re looking into this kind of thing.

The only catch is that the show is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, due to some family issues. Still, there are a lot of shows in the archives you can listen to for all the tips you need.

More podcasts to come. . .

Some Podcasting Thoughts

  • I’m glad we’ve come far enough along in the world of podcast production that I don’t hear anyone using music as a bed throughout the whole podcast anymore. It used to drive me nuts when a podcaster felt the need to have background music playing while they talked. Intro and outro music is fine. But continuous music is distracting, no matter how easy the ducking option in iTunes may happen to be.
  • I tell you what — I’ll just assume you’re going to put that URL into the shownotes. Stop telling me you’re doing that everytime you bring up a website. It’s a waste of time and you sound ridiculous.
  • It’s a podcast. Take as long as you need. It’s not like the next show on my iPod is going to start playing if you don’t wrap yours up in x number of minutes. Quit cutting off discussion for time’s sake. If the show runs too long, cut it up into two shows. But don’t drag it out just because there are no time limitations.
  • I don’t listen to a single podcast that’s as short as the one I produce. That leads me to believe there’s still a market in shorter podcasting material out there to compete with the big 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 80 minute podcasts.

Weekend Q & A

Yes, this feature is supposed to be up on Fridays, but the Apple TV review took up too much time.. Sorry about that. Back to the questions now.

Josh has a computer purchasing question:

I have been flirting with buying a Mac as a second computer to tinker around with. What is your recommendation for a first time Mac buyer (other than the Mac Mini)?

MacBookThe MacBook. Especially if your primary computer today is a laptop, I think you’ll be impressed with the speed and power of the MacBook for the price. (About $1200.) If you’re more of a power user, then you could go with the current Mac Pro set-ups, but they tend to start at $2000. They’re very powerful and expandable (four drive bays!), but I imagine you won’t want to start your Mac life on such a large investment. (I did, but I was nuts in those days. Thankfully, it paid off handsomely and I’m still using that computer daily, 3 years later.)

On the other hand, you’re stuck using a non-Mac monitor at that Mac Pro point, so an iMac would be a worthy investment if you prefer a desktop. It’s obviously not as expandable as a Mac Pro nor as portable as the MacBook, but it’s a pretty standard Mac computer that has a stunning monitor that won’t cost you an extra grand. Really, those screens are HUGE on the current generation iMacs. (Sadly, you’ll be paying for the screen AGAIN the next time you buy an iMac.)

Is that too mushy? What kind of computer set-up do you have today? What do you use your computer for? Is lots of storage a key point for you? Are you just using your computer for e-mail and web surfing? Do you just want a multimedia system that’s easy to use? These are all things that could swing my vote one way or the other.

Hope that helps.

Paul C. wants podcasting answers:

Did the idea of doing the Pipeline Podcast come up out of the blue or had you tinkered with the idea a couple of times before getting around to it? Are you surprised it caught on and that you have lasted this long in doing it in, more or less consecutive weeks? Have you ever thought about adding in any new features to it like a top 10 worst sounding books of the week or reader’s mail/questions?

I had toyed with the idea of doing Pipeline Radio a year or more before the podcast began. The idea was to record a minute long thing once a week that we could post on Fridays with some short review/thought/something or other. It didn’t go very far because I didn’t have the time to pursue it past writing up a couple of scripts, one of which I turned into an early Pipeline Podcast. That was more along the lines of an Andy Rooney style editorial piece. I was also worried about bandwidth consumption at the time. Broadband wasn’t so pervasive, and even a minute of audio would be a slow download in those dial-up days.

When I read about podcasting in December of 2004, I knew I had to jump in. I did college radio. I did local radio up until about a year and a half ago, as a matter of fact. I wanted to use that training to do a podcast, and so I started the Various and Sundry DVD podcast and The Pipeline Podcast at the same time – Christmas Break, 2004. I had the time that week to set up a system to produce two weekly podcast shows. Once I started, I was hooked.

Eventually, the DVD podcast faded away. That was due to a lack of time and, honestly, a decrease in DVD and movie viewing habits. While I still enjoy the weekly discussions here on the blog for new DVD days, I didn’t feel comfortable TALKING about a bunch of movies I wasn’t familiar with for ten minutes a week in a podcast.

I’m not surprised the comics podcast has lasted this long. I’ve never been able to give up on comic things. Pipeline is coming up on its eleventh anniversary now and I have never ever once missed a week. Never taken a week off. I’ve been late a couple of times, I’ve pre-written things a few times, but I’ve never missed a week. I don’t think there’s another comics columnist on-line who can claim that.  I doubt there’s a print columnist who could say that, either.  This next Pipeline is the 563rd or 564th edition. I ain’t giving up on it. The podcast comes secondarily to that, and I’ve never hesitated to just skip a week when I had to. I missed a couple of weeks due to illness and one or two weeks due to scheduling and technical troubles.

The main problem with the podcast is that it’s a timing thing. The new comics release list comes out late on Monday after my chance to record a podcast. I have to record it on Wednesday, or else it’s dated by the time Wednesday night comes around. If I miss that window, I’m sure lots of people just skip over it.

I would like to do more with the podcast. Honestly, I would. I even get requests about that all the time. Oddly enough, most of those requests thank me for doing a show that’s so relatively short to the rest of the comics podcast world, but then ask me to add more stuff into it.

The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t have the time to do more than I am doing right now with the podcast. I do it because it’s not a huge hassle to spend a half hour on Tuesday nights recording and publishing the thing. Sometimes, I can even pare that down to less than 20 minutes. Even the monthly PREVIEWS podcast can be tricky to schedule out with Jamie (as it is turning out to be this month – sorry, Jamie) and finding a solid hour to an hour and a half of our lives to record.

Finally, Ezekiel asks:

What do you think of the new Hulk trailer?

Haven’t seen it. If it doesn’t show up on the Apple TV in HD, I’m not watching it. I imagine it’ll show up in there eventually, though. I hope. I do want to see what this thing looks like.

That’s it for this week.  Post more questions below, please!  I’d love to answer them in upcoming Q&As.

Your Questions, Answered #2

Paul C is the first questioner this week:

Which of the summer comic book related movie are you looking forward to the most?

It’s between Batman and Iron Man. Probably Batman, by a nose. As big a Marvel guy as I am, there’s something about that last Batman movie that makes me anticipate the next one.

Are plans for summer holidays this year or any places you would like to visit?

No plans made yet. Doesn’t look like I’ll be going to San Diego again. Places I’d like to visit? Too numerous, but I’d start with Belgium and Paris — the latter just so I can blow all my money at a comic shop and bring home a suitcase filled with BD albums I’d have to learn French to read.

I also want to bring my camera to the Grand Canyon.

Do you ever wake up one morning and decide you can’t be bothered to do a V&S post, or is it drummed into your head by now after going at it for so long?

Mostly the latter. Plus, I have a certain schedule going now: DVDs on Tuesday, Twitters on Monday, Questions and Answers on Friday, American Idol Wednesday and Thursday. . . I blow those dates sometimes, but I usually have something in mind for most days of the week. Given how many blogs I flip through each week, it’s easy enough to come up with a link dump or another topic of interest worth writing a sole post about.

Not that there aren’t times I’d rather step away from the computer and play Guitar Hero or read a comic or watch a DVD or something. I just tend to feel more productive this way. I’m building something here, you know?

Would also you rank the season 5 finale of The Shield as one of the best, most unexpected/shocking/brilliant scenes ever on TV?

Yes. I know I should expand on that answer, but I’m not sure how I could. Although for pure shock, nothing beats that ALIAS season finale where the car gets hit out of nowhere. I jumped in my chair at that one.

And for the obligatory nonsense question: You are stuck on a desert island, what kind of cereal do you take with you?

I’m not much of a cereal person. Being diabetic, I’m limited on the ones I can eat, anyway. About all I’ll do is eat puffed rice (think sugar free Rice Crispies) with some raisins. But if I were on that island, I’m going with Chex Mix. Does that count?

And Soon asks:

Do you think your podcast voice has changed over the life of the Pipeline Podcast thus far?

I go back and listen to bits of the older Pipeline Podcasts every now and again to hear if I’ve changed at all. So I kinda know the answer to this one already. My voice has changed, but not as much as I would have thought. Part of that has to do with the fact that, before podcasting, I had done college radio and local radio for a number of years. My voice was already pretty well honed at that point. Podcasting allows me to be freer and sloppier, is all. There have been two changes I hear from the beginning:

  1. I talk faster. I worried too much about enunciating in the early days, and it slowed me down. I got some e-mail complaints about that, so I sped things up and that got to be very comfortable very quickly.

  2. I’ve added better equipment, like a condensor mic and a compressor. Both of those help even out my voice, eliminate some of the hollow sounds that a “regular” mic produces. I’m still not happy with the final sound. I play with it every single week, but the change is never great enough. I’m constantly annoyed by something happening on the bassline. I can’t quite figure it out and I’m probably the only person who hears it, but I can’t get rid of it. I’ll keep trying.

Nowadays, I’m working on speaking at a lower volume into the mic.  I found myself shouting into the mic a little too much, so I’m trying to be more conversational and less over-the-top, as it were.

Thanks for the questions, Soon and Paul!

Please, post your questions in the comments thread below and I’ll try to get to them on Friday this week, which is the normally scheduled time for this “feature.”

And GO GIANTS!

More Photography Podcasts Worth Listening To

Back in November, I discussed some photography-related podcasts I was listening to at the time. (Part 1, Part 2)

Today, let’s look at a couple more I’ve enjoyed since then, plus one that I’ve come around to.

Radiant Vista’s The Daily Critique is a video podcast worth its weight in gold. Hosting by Craig Tanner, each show (not really daily these days, but frequently updated, nonetheless) takes a picture submitted by a listener and is analyzed by the host. He works through the image, first looking at the metadata to see how it was shot and with what gear. He analyzes the layout, the composition, the color, the thematic elements, and more about each picture.

If you learn by seeing, this is the show to watch. Along the way, he talks about “perfect world improvements,” and uses his own Photoshop-fu to show you how to spruce up an image, whether it’s by cloning parts of it, highlighting certain colors, cropping an image, or something else. It is NOT a Photoshop course by any stretch, but it gives you an idea of what can be done in there.

The shows are relatively short, averaging about eight or ten minutes, but sometimes stretching out to 15. He talks fast with a slightly southern accent, so you’re never lost. He puts you very much at ease.

Craig Tanner’s audio podcast, Radiant Vista, is a more general photography podcast. This one tends to take one topic on at a time, whether it’s something technical like depth of field or something more general like the importance of “play” in your photographic sessions. Each show is about a half hour. I’ve only listened to a few selected ones, but I’ve learned a lot, even on those shows not devoted to technical things. Or maybe I’m just an outside observer who enjoys hearing stories of photographic workshops I’ll never attend.

The podcast hasn’t updated since September, but the archives are not very timely. It’s a good general photography podcast, even if it does occasionally veer off a tad into “creativity” exercises and theories. Just follow the show titles and you’ll be able to figure out which episodes are best suited to you.

The Candid Frame, hosted by Ibarionex Parillo, is a (mostly) weekly half hour interview show with a new photographer every outing. The goal on this podcast is not to talk gear and tips and tricks, but rather to get to the heart of what the photographer is doing or trying to do with his or her artwork. Obviously, this is one in which your mileage will vary wildly from week to week, depending on the person being interviewed. I’ve heard interviews with gothic landscape painters, a fellow podcaster, portrait photographers, documentarians, and more. It runs the whole gamut. Honestly, most of it bores me. The most interesting show so far was a recent one in which Parillo talks about his personal career move to more straight-up photography. He’s trying to move away from the teaching and writing thing, and move back into making his career more as a straight-up photographer.

Parillo also appears on The Focus Ring podcast, which I discussed previously, and which updated with its 11th and also show for 2007.

I’ve also become addicted to Lightsource recently. I mentioned it in my last Photography Podcast writeup as one that wasn’t really in my ballpark. The two hosts focus mostly on lights and lighting strategies, which is beyond me at this point. It’s not as bad as that, though. The more shows I listen to, the more I learn about photography, in general. A recent interview (episode 52) with Roy Cox was particularly interesting, as the Baltimore-based portrait/editorial photographer told the story of how he clawed and scratched his way up in the world, renting a small room in a warehouse without lights to taking most of the warehouse over and shooting for everyone from Hollywood to models. Check out episode 49 for an interview with Jock McDonald, a portrait photography with some funny stories. Other episodes were dedicated to architecture photographers, food photographers, and fashion photographers. It’s interesting to learn all the different angles and the high end technical stuff just breezes right by me without annoying me.

They do, however, sound EXACTLY like those NPR-like hosts on Saturday Night Live in the Alec Baldwin Christmas sketch. It’s scary. But it’s still ten times better than the obnoxiously wacky zany morning show host of Photo Talk Radio.

Related Various and Sundry Posts: