Mastering podcasts with Audacity

Johnathon Williams has written a good article called Mastering podcasts with Audacity over at Newsforge. He describes in an understandable way some important and complex concepts for voice audio post production. (Great for podcasters.) The article introduces topics like the compressor, waveform, frequency spectrum, decibels (db), the envelope tool, envelope tool, etc. These are all things you need to know to make your podcast sound professional.

All of this can be done with the great software Audacity but the concepts are the same no matter what software or hardware you use. Very valuable information that is quite accessible. I found it an excellent review of concepts that I knew but didn’t entirely understand. Most important to me was his excellent writing style and the step by step explanations. Thanks Johnathon!

Mayberry Machiavellians, a mashup by ANON

Artist: ANON
Album: The Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians
Song Title: Mayberry Machiavellians
Genre: Mashup/Electronic
Track #: 5 of 8
Description: Al Gore grows a spine and points out publicly the crimes of George W. Bush. Trying to become emperor of the United States is treason against the people of the world! But then again Mr. Gore was just quoting the obvious… “It is the Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians”.

MP3 4m 33s 5.3MB 44.1kHz 160kbps

Taguba FSRN-Abu Ghraib Part 3, a mashup by ANON

Artist: ANON
Album: The Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians
Song Title: Taguba FSRN-Abu Ghraib Part 3
Genre: Mashup/Electronic
Track #: 4 of 8
Description: Odd polka like music introduces us to reporting about the US military investigation by Gen. Antonio Taguba that exposed the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners by the US military in Iraq.

MP3 3m 46s 4.4MB 44.1kHz 160kbps

Mumia Speaks – Abu Ghraib Part 2, a mashup by ANON

Artist: ANON
Album: The Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians
Song Title: Mumia Speaks – Abu Ghraib Part 2
Genre: Mashup/Electronic
Track #: 3 of 8
Description: Mumia Abu-Jamal – a prisioner himself – speaks about the terrible torture at Abu Ghraib committed by US soliders upon Iraqi detainees. “If you hate someone, if you disrespect them, if you fear them, how can you liberate them?”. A bit of music accompanies his words.

MP3 4m 4s 4.7MB 44.1kHz 160kbps

Search for Keywords in Audio

One of the concerns with audio content on the web, especially voice podcasts, is that it isn’t easy to search for specific content, such as keywords. We want to be able to search inside audio and video content like we search html. With out this keyword search ability spoken content data is locked up. This makes it near impossible to create metadata from the content inside audio files. One way around this problem is to manually create transcripts. Once you have the transcript text machines can search it. Doing this for all the audio and video content on the web could take a while. You can imagine the magnitude of the problem.

People who research this problem call this data on the Internet Unstructured Data.

Unstructured data refers to masses of (usually) computerized information which do not have a data structure which is easily readable by a machine. Examples of unstructured data may include audio, video and unstructured text such as the body of an email or word processor document.


The Internet has become a treasure trove of FREE data waiting to be mined and turned into metadata. Once you have the metadata you can make predictions. These predictions can turn into actions. Those actions can create change. Groups using this type of data mining include banks, governments, media, advertisers, and yes… even activists.

Now we have a free search service called Podzinger. It’s the first tool, to my knowledge, that actually makes it easy to successfully search for keywords in spoken audio. (Other services like this just didn’t work for me.) I’ve put the search box on the right side of this site. Try it. It works quite well. Let me know if you were able to successfully search for something on Unfortunatly they’ve only index the last nine podcasts. Not all of my audio. If it isn’t useful I might take it down.

Something to keep in mind with these services is that you aren’t really getting it for free. In other words your not paying up front. You’re “leasing” your audio content for this service. By signing up you’re giving permission to Podzinger to analyze the audio, create text transcripts, and then create metadata from your content. (and who know what else) They’re mining it and supposedly acting on what they find. In return you get to use and provide a service to the visitors to your website. It’s possible one reason they let you put the search box on your site is for advertisement and collecting keywords. The more keywords they collect from the search boxes the more accurate their algorithms become at searching audio data. At least this is how I think they are doing it.

It is very important for everyone using the Internet to know about data mining. The most well know is the invasive spy bots and cookies. But we do have other kinds that aren’t so annoying. This is really an ethics issue. What is more important your data privacy or corporate financial profit? Is there a ethical compromise between the two? Many Internet companies would say yes. I’m not so sure…

Many people are more than happy to trade their data and the potential for metadata to be created from it for valuable services. I’m one of those people. But the more I learn about how metadata is mined and watch billion dollar businesses like Google rise to power the more concerned I become. What all Internet surfers need is leverage to negotiate better payment for our data. Data created from our actions, email, blogs, podcasts, forums, etc. Google and others are taking all of us for a serious ride. So far I’m ok with the ride but for how long?

Onion Radio News Still Making Me Laugh

Arensb over at posted a link in an old thread that The Onion Radio News finally has a podcast feed. Yeah! It’s a iTunes store link. 🙁 Where is the straight RSS 2.0? What about other podcatching software? Always got to monetize everything huh? Ok. Whatever… I have a iTunes link too. Lots of new podacst listeners are going to the iTunes cause it’s trusted and easy. Why does it take a big corproation to inspire trust in people? Ok, end of rant. More about the laughing.

I just listened to Scientists Say Venom Taken From Politicians Could Provide Medical Benefits and laughed out LOUD!

Note to self: Never eat or drink while listening to The Onion Radio News. Unless you want it spit all over your monitor. 😀 (I’m serious this shit is funny. Depressed cause that Shrub is a sadistic criminal? Get your releaf from the sound of Doyle Redland.)

Two Thousand Six: Photo and Video blogging

Lots ahead for me in this new year. PodcasterCon 2006 in a few days, getting married in July 2006, etc. etc. As for who knows exactly. I have some ideas though.

Right now I’m thinking about images and how to make them move. I got a Canon Digital Rebel XT recently and am enjoying the hell out of it. See my Photo Slide Show page for examples I’ve put on flicker.

One of my small goals for 2006 is to videoblog from I’ve been working on a simple way to take still digital images, add audio, animate, and then export them to a mpeg4 file format. Why don’t I just use a digital video camera? Well… lack of time for one. It takes a lot of time to shoot, edit, and export GOOD video content. Lack of fast enough computer hardware for another. Also I’d like to complete a tutorial on how to create good video peices with minimal hardware and software.

Anarchogeek blogged about some neat examples of telling stories with photos in his post Photo Audio Story Telling….. Very inspirational stuff. It’s amazing what you can communicate with a few still images and an audio naration.