Day 4 : It is Alive !!

The morning

This is the hard bit. So, it is coming up to midday, I've reviewed the audio I recorded yesterday. At the time I thought it was good. Then I listened back to it. Dear lord. There is a humming in the background from a water purifier that lives in the basement, and there is me, exasperated at my own mistakes trying to re-record the audio and fluffing some of it. Then there is the content.

The way I'm working

There are a few fantastic mini-series of podcasts on podcasts, the two that really led me to launch my podcast are from two guys:

  • Colin Grey is the creator of the podcast host. A few months ago he was the guest host on another podcast I listen to by Paul Boag. During Colin's guest appearance he covered the concept of content stacking; which is how to create content on a single topic for a range of mediums, with as little effort as possible; video, audio and written.
  • Documentally has a series on his paid subscriber channel via substack. He sends out a fantastic newsletter every Friday, and if you get the chance to go read it, please do.

So, I wrote the blog post I'm trying to record in advance. However now listening to me read it back I can't help but think "God, I could have written that better!". There is only one thing to do; re-write then re-record. The problem is I keep getting distracted and that's not helping.

Distracted Content

There is a fantastic article on the New York Times about an area of the US around a radio telescope that has no WiFi or mobile (cell) service. The kids that grow up there have a completely different view on the world. They spent last time in front of a screen, and more time outside playing and generally exploring. As a Dad this is fascinating. Yesterday after completing work on the podcast I took the chance to head over to the boy’s school early to collect them. Rather than driving over, I walked. There is a way there which, unlike a lot of the US, has sidewalks (footpaths for US UK/Irish types) the whole way there. The birds were out singing and it was about 13c, so cool, but pleasant. When I told the two boys, we were walking home they were excited, the eldest gave me a gigantic hug

"What?" he said "No car?"

"See for yourself, there is no car"

"Wow! Thank you Daddy"

The youngest told me that this was a "great adventure". Both asked if I could collect them again without the car today. It is only about 1.5 miles each way, and its footpath takes you through a small wood which sit out the back of our house.

I think I've just given myself the motivation to crack on...

The Afternoon

Recording Complete

I managed to re-record the first real podcast episode. It was an effort. In the end I just decided to record and well, be dammed - I kept the errors in there. The deleted bits where I completely cocked up in editing. I was really worried that this first real episode would be too long, but in the end, it came in at about 12 minutes, which is bang on what I had hoped for!

Fixing Site Rendering

My new static website is up ! - Yay, but there are two issues with it I'd like to solve. when you embed a link in social media the social media platform isn't picking out the correct information to display it nicely. There is a reason for this, my site hasn't included the correct social media tags in the head of the HTML pages.

A quick search via DuckDuckGo, and I found the Jekyll SEO Tag plugin, which appears to add all the necessary additional fields, and interestingly of all the default theme apparently already has the plugin installed.

Another issue is that the logo image on the home page isn't centred. That is a bit annoying, another search and I found this article which suggests adding a new CSS definition, then tying that to the image insertion instruction, this I like.

This Evening

I go the chance to collect the two boys from school and walk with them home. It was a cool evening, about 8c, but the air was still and the walk was really pleasant.

This evening we got the news that all the schools in our county in New Jersey were closing from 3pm tomorrow. Then this evening around 9pm, there was a call, the schools are close immediately. So, the kids will be at home from tomorrow
onwards, and for the foreseeable future.

Publish, Publish!

I was going to wait for the Spotify and iTunes podcast links to appear correctly before I published my first real episode, but given that tomorrow might be spent hanging out with the boys more than expected I decided to launch the episode early. You can now find it up on the interwebs!

This one really introduces Industrial Research and explains what industrial research is and how it differs from academic research. Check it out, and please do let me know what you think!

PS: There is a Spotify Link, but it is not appearing in the searches, yet, apparently that will take a few days. But still - cool as !

Day 2 of Launching a Podcast – Site Selection

Whoops, I didn't hit post yesterday. Sorry.. I was busy selecting a Podcast hosting service. This morning I've got some time while my recording studio (the basement) is busy - the washing machine is on!

Selecting a Podcast Hosting Service

I could do this myself. I could extend my AWS developer account, host the media on their servers, setup a WordPress website from scratch, add a podcast plugin, create the correct XML feed, manually list it with the aggregators, and link the whole lot together with some handwritten scripts to collect metrics. I mean I could do it. But with 4 days remaining to launch my podcast that's not going to happen. I need a solution, so I will pay for one.

Show Structure and Anticipated Demand (or lack of)

The podcast I'm putting together will be a mini-series, about 6 episodes in total. Each one about 30 - 45 minutes long. I'm still experimenting with the length of the audio so this could very well change, I may do 15-20-minute-long episodes and 12 of them. Either which way I'm expecting them to be launched and then hosted for a long time. The podcast isn't going to be of universal appeal, it is specific to what I do. So, I'm not expecting a huge up take.

Each of the shows will be accompanied with a blog post, some graphics and some real details of what I've been trying to explain.

I've grown really worried about when other companies host my content. Why? - Well you lose control over it, and occasionally the companies themselves go bust or vanish from the internet and when they do, they take your content with you.

I'd like the blog posts and content on my own website. But the audio hosting, RSS feed, and registration with the myriad of aggregates, that I'll pay for. Now the question is which service, and for how much.

I'm not looking to earn an income from this mini-series, at least not directly, but if it helps bring in some job offers, or associated consulting in the future then that would be awesome. May of the podcast hosts I've found offer an extra ability to earn cash for paying them an extra fee to "enable" that feature. These I think I can skip.

Service Selection

Libsyn looks great, and has been around for a long time, but they limit the amount of content you can upload in a month. Since my show is going to be front loaded for the first year, with loads of uploads (I hope) at the start, and then an archiving of past content, I don't think their plans are best suited for me. If my show was more topical and ran for years / many months as an ongoing show, then yes Libsyn would be a great fit. This looks like $15-$17 a month.

Buzzsprout also looks great. I don't like the free plan with the forced advertisements. I'd like this show to talk about how we conduct research, not force listeners to be subjected to adverts, particularly when I have no control over what those ads may be. So, I'm happy to pay, but again this service has a cap on content produced per month. This looks like $12 - $18 a month.

Audioboom This looks like a better match, unlimited episodes per month, 10k plays per month, all the XML and analytics done for you. You have to pay extra to earn a fee from the service. But that is something I can skip. This looks like $99 per year.

Podbean This looks like it would be a $9 per month option. With unlimited episodes per month, and includes the ability to use my own domain, that might be handy if I'd like to map it to my own website for the blog posts.

I'm picking...

The more established providers like Libsyn, Buzzsprout seem to be geared toward a professional constantly publishing podcast content creator. That isn't mean. Heck check out my publishing history for my blog, it's sporadic at best. This mini-series will be just that, a mini-series. I am happy to pay for the first year, get the show up and running this week, then look to move to another, cheaper option for archiving going forward.

With all of this in mind I'm going to go with Podbean.

Stage Fright

That was weird, entering the credit card information gave me stage fright. Now I've paid for it, I'm committed to getting my voice out there. Yikes.

Setting up the Podcast

Ohh interesting...

"Apple Podcasts Requirement: Artwork must be a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, in JPEG or PNG format. "

I saw several sites tell me I needed the graphic, but I didn't realize it was because of an Apple restriction.

I selected "Business" and "Technology" as the core categories under which "Industrial Research" should be listed. Now for my brief description (1000 characters or less).

Static Site Generation

So, I have to admit, I let my geekiness get to me and indulged in creating a static markdown-based site for the podcast. You can find the very first version of it up and available here on mcwoods.online. I have normally used WordPress, but I found that it was such a pain to move the content. At one point I had three or four different WordPress sites on the go, and I wanted to merge the posts and content. That was such a pain, it took weeks and even now some of the content / images don't work. This particularly affects some of the older posts here on withbighiar.com.

I've been considering alternative blogging technologies and website creation tools for a while. A security researcher friend of mine suggested using a static site generator. Along with the issues of moving content between WordPress hosts, there is the constant battle to install and upgrade your WordPress installation. A static site generator would take care of a lot of these.

Letting go

I decided to try out Jekyll. You'll spot that I'm just using that original minima theme. I would love to do more work on customising the site, but I indulged on the geekiness of static site generation for long enough. It will have to do for now.

Correcting some mistakes

I've noticed that my pilot episode incorrectly attributes the music I've used as the ident, so time to fix that... then I can get the pilot up on Podbean!

The Second Waggle is Out !

It Snuck Out

They say software doesn't get released, it sneaks out.

I am pleased to say that Waggle My Mouse version 2 is now available on Gum Road ! This new release features a whole bunch of new features and re-written old ones.

You can find the new version on Waggle My Mouse available for purchase on Gum Road

As I previously mentioned I've provided a copy of the new version of Waggle to everyone who purchased a copy of the original version. Overall the feedback has been really positive. I'd had some good suggestions for improvement too, and I do plan to work on this for a future update. In the mean time Waggle is now available for every to check out and download.

New Features

The new version of Waggle now has:

  • A new icon; I got rid of my mouse cartoon guy. I liked him, but thought the new version could do with a new icon!
  • A new algorithm for detecting Waggle’s.
  • A new animation; when a Waggle is detected the circles will grow and animate, then shrink and eventually vanish when you slow the waggle down.
  • A start on boot; by default, Waggle will automatically start when you login to your machine, you can turn this off by right clicking the waggle arrow in the notification tray and selecting “about” – there is a new dialog box with a check box.
  • A new window display routine; In the old version the circles would sometimes appear hidden behind other windows. I’ve worked hard to try to fix this. It seems a whole lot more reliable now.

Waggle My Mouse 2.0

Creating an update

I created waggle a couple of years ago to scratch a personal itch, loosing my mouse pointer on one or more high definition screens. The application was fairly simple - want to find your mouse pointer? - Then shake it from side to side. The application would draw multicoloured circles around the mouse pointer. Once you stopped shaking the mouse the circles would vanish.

This led to me writing the TBool, a C++ temporal Boolean which can help with detecting the mouse shake.

I eventually released the first version of waggle. Several people downloaded the application. I reached out to a few and got some feedback on it. This led to me wanting to do an updated version. However the update got delayed a little. You see at the same time as trying to do the update I moved countries, changed continents, jobs, houses, cars, and got my kids into a new school. To say it was hectic would have been a complete understatement.

But this itch of wanting to do better has stayed with me, and now, I'm delighted to say that I have an update. This update provides the following:

  • Start the application when the user logs into their account
  • New waggle detection code
  • New animation code allowing circles to grow as you waggle and shrink when you stop
  • New window handling code to try to ensure that the circles always appear on top of every window on the screen
  • A new installer

I am sharing an early version of Waggle My Mouse 2.0 to some the folks who purchased the original copy, and I'm looking for feedback and ways in which I can improve it. Once I'm happy with it, I hope to provide to everyone who'd like a copy.

Finally, why circles and why those colours?

Well this is a question I have been asked about, well, the colours where picked when looking at my son's crayola crayon case. Thinking about the desktop, I didn't know what application would be running on the machine, nor what would be displayed, however it was important to show the mouse location. So thinking that the crayon case contained nearly every primary colour I used that as a starting point. You'll notice if you shake long enough nearly every colour available in crayon case will appear.

TextQuick and the Power of Software

At first I wasn't too sure what to make of it. An email explaining that a mobile application I’d written had changed someone’s life. But it turned out to be the single best piece of user feedback I've ever had and probably the best email I've ever received. It all started with an ultimatum from my wife, and a desire to create an app which would “scratch my own itch”....

Or continue to read the rest of this post over at Medium ...

 

Missing the Spectrum

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

Mattie returns to his physiotherapist!

Our last post closed with the wish that Mattie would walk into his next physio appointment under his own steam – well guess what? Our rock star baby did just that!

At our last visit (May) he was doing well but he still wasn’t sitting up from lying down or pulling himself up to standing. His physio gave us some very simple exercises to work on with him that would further strengthen his pelvic muscles and really help get him standing and walking independently.

In the three months between appointments it was almost as if Mattie knew he had something to prove. Once he started to realise he could pull himself up the transition to cruising furniture and tentatively letting go happened so quickly.

Mattie & Daddy
Mattie & Daddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday August 14th we returned to the physiotherapist. Our physio appointment lasted approximately 5 minutes. Mattie’s physio was delighted beyond words with his progress . He is progressing exactly as expected – his gate was a little wobbly still when she saw him but everything, even down to how he places his feet is excellent. There was lots of clapping, cheering and delight for Mattie at his appointment. At the end I am delighted to report that we were firmly sent on our way (with instructions to come back should we ever have any concerns) and officially discharged from physio!!!!!!!!

Even in the few weeks it has taken me to write this blog post Matthew’s confidence in walking has just escalated. Now, in the morning, he wants to put his back pack on – just like his big brother – and toddle out to the car for crèche. We just couldn’t be prouder of him! And the best thing... he does it all with the biggest, cheekiest smile on his face.

Our final remaining hurdle is our EEG and Neurology appointment on September 23rd. At this appointment we will review with neuro to determine whether or not we can start to wean Vigabatrin. This will be a nerve wracking one but if Mattie can approach it with a smile on his face you can be sure that we will too.

Mattie laughing

The end of a PC

sudo shutdown now

... and the fan stopped and the blue LEDs faded, little did I know it would be for the last time...

Eight years ago I bought my PC, at the time it was a beast of a machine, for those that are interested it was a whopping 1gig of RAM, an AMD64 CPU, and a GEFORCE graphics card. An awesome PC, it's had three operating systems and multiple uses, from a desktop work station to a gaming rig, and a pretty awesome one at that, until finally running as an Ubuntu desktop and server machine.

I bought it just after leaving my job at EMCC as a development workstation for my new role working at home.

The only real downside, and one of the precipitating factors leading to failure, was the fan. It was loud, when running it sounded like an aircraft taking off and was audible throughout the upstairs in my house.

It was the smell that hit me first, warm silicon doesn't smell great. During our current heat wave one of the PC's fans failed. The upstairs of my house were filled with the smell of hot silicon, the processor alone was reporting 85c!

It was definitely time to turn it off. It is sad to say good bye to the old boy, but it’s definitely time. For a PC it was a grand old age. It’s had an awesome innings. That PC has seen me get married, move jobs more times than I want to recount, move country, and had the arrival of two children. Its most recent job was as a photo repository, mini workstation, and it was converting some children’s DVDs to play on our AppleTV.

The King is dead, long live the King
The time has come to start the construction on a new machine, and for the first time since I was 1996 I've decided to build my own machine. Hopefully a much quieter one. If I'm lucky this one will also last me eight years.

Let's just hope nothing has happened to the memories currently locked away on the old boy’s hard drives.

AppleBumping

The rules are simple. The stakes high, and the competition tough. Prove your street cred with your friends and family - will your chosen tune out last the dreaded 'bump' ?!

We've invented a new game. It was so much fun playing it that I felt the need to share it with the wider Internet. - To play you'll need an Apple TV, an iPhone or Tablet, the YouTube application and some friends.

How does it work? - Simple. Pick a decade, then search YouTube for the best tune on your iPhone / tablet. Once found use the Apple TV to project it for everyone to see. If it's good - it will stay playing, if it's bad then someone else will find another tune on their Apple device and will stream it to the AppleTV - bumping your selection off the tellie.

When we played the game bad tunes were with met with a chorus of "BUMP IT!", and good tunes were met with rounds of bad singing as we all joined in with the tune.

Its great fun, simple, and rather addictive. I hope you enjoy!

Has Home Computing Gone Full Circle?

In the early 1990's I used to stay up late to code (well attempt to) on my Spectrum +2, which was plugged into the TV.

Tonight I'm sitting with a bluetooth keyboard, and AirPlay mirroring turned on on my iPhone 5 - allowing the contents of my iPhone's screen to appear on the TV. I'm once again typing away "on" the TV.

This feels a lot like history repeating its self.

It must be time for bed.. ...