Category Archives: Gear

WiFi.Bedouin

WiFi.Bedouin is a art-technology project created by Julian Bleecker. It’s a bunch of gear in a backpack that creates a mobile wi-fi network that doesn’t connect to the web. You may wonder why someone would want to use wi-fi if they couldn’t connect to the internet as a whole. Simple, you participate in a “island Internet” that exists inside a backpack where ever the backpack may be. Digital content that is very location specific. Specific to the people near the backpack.

From the website:

The WiFi.Bedouin consists of a small backpack containing an adapted 802.11b access point, RF amplifier, custom power supply and a PowerBook G4 running custom software, MovableType Blog software, a custom chat application, Apache 2.0, the Tomcat Java Servlet Container, and WiJacker – a custom built application that translates arbitrary named URLs to local services. A PocketPC PDA – the iPAQ 2200 – is mounted to the front of the WiFi.Bedouin pack, and is configured with its own 802.11 card. The PDA is used as a visual display for a custom GPS mapping application (mStory), for node WiFi activity, and for simple configuration.

I bet we could use one of these at PodcasterCon 2006! 😀 If a participant couldn’t access the Internet they could access this local network and edit a wiki, store files, listen to audio from iTunes, edit a blog just for local participants, etc.

HHB FlashMic

HHB Flash MicDavid Battino over at O’Reilly Digital Media tips us to a potentially cool tool for podcasters. The HHB Flash Mic looks like a wireless karaoke microphone but it’s specs don’t read like a toy. The Sennheiser omni-directional condenser capsule with 1GB of flash recording memory is nothing to laugh at. With USB as an output/input to your computer this device looks very cool for interviews on the road. Due out in 2006. Drool… Hey HHB! Send me one in the mail and I will create a nice review for ya! 🙂

Web Based Project Management

I’ve been looking at web based project management software that’ll allow me to create to-do lists, calendar events, create project milestones, export calendars, generate RSS, be multi-user, work on mobile devices (ex. Palm Treo), etc., etc. So far I really like the looks of Tasks Pro. It does all the aforementioned stuff. But I’ve also seen BaseCamp and used dotproject.

Ruby has spent A LOT of time researching project management. I’d say she’s a project management guru. I listen to her on this stuff. But our brains work different. 🙂 I think she’s done reading the famous book, to bloggers at least, Getting Things Done by David Allen. I might just read it up myself. But I doubt I’ll be following any one system to the letter to get my stuff done, but finding new methods is cool.

Right now I use a Moleskin calendar with a pencil to write to-dos on the day I need to do them. It works pretty well. Problem is you can’t share your paper calendar to well. Plus it won’t beep at you or send you a e-mail reminder. Also user interface is VERY important to me. If it doesn’t flow and my visual brain can’t groove with it then it’s useless to me. I hope to get a Palm Treo one day. It might replace my paper book as my mobile to-do list creator.

My questions for you are; Which of these project management softwares have you used? Which one do you USE? Why do you like it? What are some other ones worth considering?

Thanks!

Apple multi-button mouse

This post has nothing to do with activism… Enter the Apple MightyMouse. I must say this really feels like the end of one era and the begining of another. During One Button [DOB] and After One Button [AOB]. Yesterday we had only one button on the Mac mouse. Today we have a scroll ball, two buttons on the sides, and the good old single button in the middle. The Unix geek in me belives that Darwin, the BSD core of OS X, is influencing this Apple hardware change. Ah the simple joys of user interfaces. (The geeks say this isn’t really a multibutton mouse. But a set of sensors that act like buttons.) NEXT: Go to an Apple store and try one out. 🙂
via: Lux et Umbra

One Use to Multi Use Video Cam?

OTU_Video1 I read on the Make Zine blog a while ago that the pharmacy company CVS was selling a One Time Use Video Camcorder for $30 or so. Turns out some really smart hardware/software hackers are finding ways to allow us to REUSE them over and over. CVS’s business concept is to sell an inexpensive almost disposible video camcorder then charge to remove the video you record off of it and put it on a DVD. They don’t return the video device and charge you another $12 for the video you shot.

The other day Arif Mamdani reminded me about this cool device. So today while I was out running errands I bought two. I’m going to test one and take it back to CVS to see the results.

Personal Fabrication

There is most certainly a hardware fabrication divide. When we speak of a digital divide we usually mean lack of access to computers to make more software. (ex. HTML, jpg, CSS, mp3, mov, avi, etc.) What about access to hardware, software, and materials to make more hardware devices? This is a question Neil Gershenfeld, the director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms Fab Lab, asked at the O’Reilly E-Tech (Emerging Technology) Conference. Go download and listen to his amazing speech from IT Conversations describing how they took labs consisting of gear to fabricate “Just about anything” to teens in urban Boston, Costa Rica, Ghana, and Pakistan. What does this have to do with Audio Activism? Imagine the ability not only to make your own media but the resources to MAKE WHAT EVER ELECTRONIC DEVICE YOU WANT? (well just about any) I’d make an audio recording device that would upload the audio file to the web immediately or somehow share it locally…fast. Gershenfeld has a book out called FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop–From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication that I plan to get soon.

NPR Reporter’s Equipment

National Public Radio’s Next Generation Radio Training Projects has a interesting bit of info on what gear a radio reporter uses to record audio. Flawn Williams answers a email from someone who hopes to report for radio. There is lots of good info about audio tech on this page. I will warn you that this info is from a pro-broadcasters point of view. Always *listen* to people who have mastered something. They have the wisdom. You can learn something from them. But, excellent masters will always encourage you to question *requirements*. High quality recorded audio can be done with A LOT LESS than the pros tell amateurs. (For example) A big part of this is because of the massive advances in portable audio recording technology. Once you start doing something for awhile and you find out what works you stick with it. Many times at the cost of finding new, cheap, and faster methods that are just as high in quality. A pros requirements are usually informed by endurance needs. They need to be in the field a lot. They need to be able to react quick. They need to go about their work for hours on end. Amateurs, most podcasters, do not need these endurance qualities in their gear. But in all fairness the original question was “What do radio reporters use at NPR?”. [FYI…I ain’t saying nothing about being no excellent master of nothin’] 😀

Fast, Cheap, High Quality Recording Kit

This cool gear list is short. But it packs a punch! It just contains three parts or less.

1) A computer w/internet access – Drop by your local computer technology center, library, or a friends to use their computer.

2) Olympus DS-2 – A wonderful voice recorder with a stereo mic, a mic input, earbud headphones, a external speaker, USB, and software that creates uncompressed versions of your recordings! [Thanks for hipping me to the DS-2 Sooz!]

3) Cheap External Mic – (Optional) The Labtec AM-222 is a good handheld mono mic with a 1/8″ high impedance jack. Works great with the Olympus DS-2 and isolates a persons voice well.

[Check out last weeks podcast One Man Protests Racism at WalMart for an example of this gear in action.]

The Details:
First, I’m assuming that most computers now have a USB port. So does the Olympus DS-2. This is the exciting part of this kit. The Olympus DS-2 records digitally to a internal flash drive. This means when you’re done recording you have a audio file to share immediately. With the USB connection you can quickly copy the audio files to your computer. No more digitizing of your audio. It’s already done. Once it’s on a computer you can upload it to the internet and share.

I like to convert the WMA file the DS-2 makes to AIFF then to MP3. (You don’t have to…) The Olympus software can convert the WMA to a AIFF. Why AIFF? It’s a lossless audio file format. This way I can edit a bunch of audio together and have good sounding results in the end. Plus AIFF is a good archiving format. (BTW…the Olympus software for the PC converts to uncompressed WAV.) You can also just convert the WMA file straight to MP3. (I couldn’t notice any quality loss from the conversion process.) We share MP3s because it’s the most used audio file format in the world.

The Olympus DS-2 has a built in stereo mic. It works great. The stereo left and right channel can be important to create the auditory illusion of space. But for interviews a stereo mic sounds weird. Focusing on one person speaking, like in an interview, sounds more full and clear with a mono mic. (FYI – mono audio still has a left and right channel. It’s just the same signal in each side.) Using a external mono mic with the Olympus DS-2 really helps the sound quality.

This is all consumer audio gear that can produce professional sounding results. This stuff really helps the creative amateur to make and share audio as good and better than pros who spend thousands of dollars more. (Of course if you want to edit several files together and work in the field for days at a time you might need the Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit.) 😀

Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit

Mike Outmesguine’s blog entry ‘Sony PSP goes cellular using a JunxionBox gateway’ just reminded me of a really cool idea. At the Mobile media conference he showed us the Junxion Box which is a Wi-Fi to cellular gateway. Meaning you can get a wi-fi connection for your laptop anywhere a EVDO cellular connection is available. I had heard about the DIY Stomp Box that does the same thing, but hadn’t seen the cool commercial one. He also brought a backpack with photovoltaic panels on it. A solar backpack to power your mobile electronics! He casually challenged us to imagine what the future of media creation would be like if grassroots journalist had this gear. So in the spirit of this and because I love lists/howtos. Here is the Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit. It always could be done cheaper, but this is the ULTIMATE kit. 🙂

1) Laptop w/wi-fi – pick your flavor, i like macs
Apple PowerBook 12″ 1.5GHz small screen is light

2) Wi-Fi to Cellular Gateway
Junxion Box or make your own Stomp Box w/ Linux

3) Audio Recording Device
Marantz PMD 660 – solid state, no moving parts, records to uncompressed wav on CF cards, low impedance mic inputs, USB

4) Microphone
Shure SM58, unidirectional (cardioid) dynamic, low impedance, bulletproof

5) Headphones
Extreme Isolation Headphones – block out all that unwanted noise in public spaces with these bad boys.

4) Solar Backpack
The Voltaic Backpack

5) Cables – audio, power, usb, powerstrip, etc.

Now if I only had all this stuff so I could write a howto on using it all together. Hint, Hint! 🙂