Socially Distancing the Podcast

Changes

This has been the first full week at home. Emma the boys and I. Over the last week we’ve converted my study into an office space for Emma and I, before we did that we build desks and setup a class room for the two boys.

School work continues to come, supplied electronically. Matthew claims that this version of school is harder than normal school. Emma and I believe that this is due to the extra attention and his lack of ability to escape.

Getting outside is a challenge; we are fortunate to live near a small park and there is a lovely footpath we can take. The complete walk is just shy of 5km. It has got a lot busier since the lock down, however people are keeping 6ft / 2 metres away from each other.

The Recording Challange

We also live near a railway crossing and when the trains pass the sound their horn. It is loud. Loud enough to occasionally wake you. Combine that with the kids and sounds of general life in the house and recording the podcast has just become harder.

The first two episodes I recorded in the basement during the week, while the boys were at school, Emma was at work, and I had the time off from my job. It worked really well. However, the last recording was conducted late at night. With me asking Emma to turn the TV down low, and hoping the boys had fallen asleep. That worked really well, until the trains came. I am still new at recording podcasts, and I’m trying to relax and not read so much from the accompanying blog posts I’ve created. However, I often end up re-recording episodes. The last episode came in at 20 minutes, but probably took about 2-3 hours to record. The first recording I got mixed up, I tried recording it in segments. The next worked well until there were footsteps echoing in the background, it sounded like the basement was haunted. The third was ok until the train sounded it’s horn. Eventually I had to give up and go with what I had.

The following night I edited the recording. It was kinda weird listening to myself get tired. I also found that I had wondered off script with random thoughts, which I had to edit out.

I am happy to get this latest episode out. But the next few are going to get harder. I had the first 4 episodes pre-written with pretty well researched articles. The next couple will need to be written, edited, recorded, audio-edited and published. I’d like to keep to the weekly schedule, but I’m guessing that I may have to reduce the episode length to keep the cadence. But let’s see.

Launching On All Podcast Hosts

This week I spent some time ensuring that the podcast was listed in iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, PocketCasts and Google Play (the last one is still pending). I need to update my static site with the buttons and logos for each. I also need to update the podbean host site with a more attractive redirect to the full site.

Video Calls

The full time job is back in full effect, and last week was fun. I have to admit it was nice to be back working with people again. One of the project proposals I’m working on is with Berkeley, and as I’m on a video call with the professor, I see her wave at the camera. I didn’t notice at first, but there in the background is my eldest son. You can’t avoid family life at the moment.

In the meantime, stay safe and keep well out there.

Day 3 of Launching a Podcast – Recording and Re-recording with bitmaps

It is up... kinda...

So far today I've managed to:

It has been a really busy day. I got the podcast launched, well soft launched with a pilot / introductory episode. The rest of the day has been spent creating banner art, clip art, icons, writing copy for the podcast boilerplate website on podbean. It has been a really busy day.

Recording takes much longer than you think

Good lord, I've been trying to record the next episode. It has taken ages. I've been camped out down in the basement of my house. It is one of the quietest places in the house. I've been recording and re-recording what I've wanted to say. In the end I decided to break down the recording into smaller sections, record those then edit them together. This was much easier. But let's see how the content flows together. That's a job for tomorrow.

For now though, I'm delighted that the podcast is up, in some form. You can find the introductory episode here. Hopefully the show itself will be available in Spotify and Apple Podcasts very shortly indeed.

One week to launch a Podcast

Sharing to Learn

The number of people who ask me "What is it you do?", "What do you mean by industrial research?" and "How do you do research in IT?" is huge. In fact, it is a question I think my Mum has been asking me since I started in industrial research.

Recently I've been thinking about how I do my role and what techniques I use. It has been quite cathartic and educational. Just writing down what I do has made me question it and try to improve it.

I've discovered that one of the best ways to learn is to share. So now I'd like to share what I've learnt, get some feedback on it, and hopefully help some fellow researchers along the way.

Launching a Podcast

So, this week I'm going to try to launch a podcast. There is a lot to get done to make this happen, and today is day one.

I know my own personality type well enough to know, I'll come up with great ideas, but seeing them through to conclusion requires a lot of effort, and my energy often wanes toward the end. So, to keep myself honest, I'm going to do a quick daily blog, one post each day this week. So far, I've:

  • Created my logo
  • Recorded a pilot episode
  • Scripted 3 more (very long) episodes
  • Started researching podcast hosts (and costs)

I don't expect my podcast to be the next "This American Life" or "Serial", hey industrial research is niche, but hopefully it will help.

Things I am learning

Logo Creation

Graphic design is hard and you do need a good bit of time to get it right. However, with a one-week time frame and already consuming 20% of that time today, I just need to get on with what I have. Let me know what you think.

My original plan was for a pixel art guy with a bubble above his head quoting a line from my son which seemed quite apt; "What, what?". Pixel art with vector graphics tools takes ages, and the dude I drew looked more like a bad squiggle. It has been decades since I last drew anything artistic and unfortunately it shows. I'm not going to show you that here... needless to say I could do with improving it.

Recording Audio and not fluffing it takes ages

Ok, I know we all talk, but when there is a microphone in front of me, I don't seem to be able to get 30 seconds down the line without fluffing something. The first pilot took about 1h 30min to record about 5 minutes of audio. Yikes I'd better work on that.

Industrial Research Podcast Logo

Creating an Ident is hard

The audio equivalent of a logo, a sound bite and branding. Man, that's tough. I opted for some music published under creative commons. It's a bit electronic, but hopefully enough of a contrast from my voice to keep folks awake! The full track is available on the FMA website, it is called "Bust This Bust That" by "Professor Kliq".

Tomorrow

That is about it for now. Tomorrow will see me trying to set up a website, re-editing the pilot, selecting a podcast hosting provider and attempting to get the very first, intro episode up.

Inspiration and Exasperation

This has been a really busy week. Last week I was on holiday, as you can tell
from my previous blog posts, I’m a Brit, who firmly believes in the EU, and so
was pretty distraught at the results of the referendum. During the vacation I
got involved in a number of Facebook groups who are attempting to help ensure
that the UK reconsiders leaving the EU. Its a long hard struggle, but I think,
if we can pull it off it will be the national good.

 

So this week has been spent trying to help some of the Facebook groups out. I’ve
written blog posts and offered my skill set to them. With the exception of a few
committed individuals, there appears to be a lot of good will, but a lack of
organisation. Coming from the professional world you can see this causing some friction between people. I guess that's to be expected in the nature of these movements. It has been a learning experience for me.

 

In the midst of all of this, I returned to the day job. During my commute I
often listen to a podcast called Start Ups for the Rest of
Us
. It’s a fantastically interesting
show and it tries to explain who two guys went from working full time as
employees to having their own companies and products. In “Launching 100
projects in One
Year

Mike, one of the hosts, interviews Justin Jackson. Justin is in the middle of a
year long journey to discover what type of product and company he would like to
run. To do this he us experimenting with 100 startups during the course of a
year, that 2 or more releases every week! Justin’s called this project
“MegaMaker”. It was a really inspiring show, since then I headed over to his
podcast and started listening to the start of his journey, 6 months ago. I’m
hooked.

 

This has got me wondering about what I can do, what could I commit to delivering
in a weeks time.

 

Facebook Discoveries

Prior to all of my anti-brexitering engagement, and social media based protest
groups, I did not know about some of the features that Facebook has. A number
of the groups I’ve joined have a “files” section, where additional content is
stored and shared. My first thought was... “wait... Facebook supports files?!”.
Well yes, it does. It is a bit kludgy in user experience terms, but there are
files associated with groups. After learning how this worked, I met a lot of
people inside these groups who were confused when others started mentioning the
“files section”. Part of the problem is that inside the Facebook application,
which I’m guessing is how the majority of its users now access it, a Group’s
files section is hidden behind the group’s “information” button. You wouldn’t
find it, if you hadn’t been told that it existed.

 

As these groups start to organise themselves they start to look to move away
from just Facebook, and back out to more traditional channels, like Twitter,
blog postings (medium, wordpress), and from there to standard stand alone
websites. There are teething trouble during this transition as Facebook’s groups
don’t easily allow sharing of content, or integration with other products and
services. Here are some of the issues that I’ve encountered:

  • Pinning posts which shrink
    To try and address common issues, like letting people know where the files
    section is, or providing them with links to important documents, or
    important posts, we’ve tried pinning posts to the top of the group. They pin
    to their location ok, but the posts are always truncated, and have to be
    expanded to be read, and not everyone does that. It would be munch better if
    pinned posts, could be pinned open.

  • Group Authentication
    In a number of the groups we would like to securely share access to allow
    members of groups to access files on google docs, or post blog updates to
    Wordpress or Medium sites. Bu there is no way to do this. This then requires
    folks within the groups to try to create manual processes for creating and
    maintaining these external sites and services. This takes time and puts
    pressure on just one or two individuals in groups with thousands of members.
    It would be so much better if you could log into the external services, with
    your Facebook account, and because your a member of a predetermined Facebook
    group you get access to additional services. So as a member of one of the
    groups, I could log into, say WordPress and post new blog posts to my
    group’s wordpress site. But I’ve not found anything that would allow me to
    do that.

 

MegaMaker Idea: Group Blog Posting from Facebook to Medium / WordPress

This all got me thinking, is there something I can do to help here. What about a
web service that would log into Facebook, check a group and its files, find all
the files with names beginning with “blogpost_” and publish these to a Medium
or WordPress site? - could I deliver that in a week?

 

Waggling my Mouse in Frustration

I’ve a multi monitor, and laptop setup at work. In total I’ve three screens. It
is very handy, but have you ever lost your mouse pointer across three monitors?
- Damn it, it is annoying. The first thing everyone in the office does is to
“waggle” (shake) their mouse. The human eye spots movement quicker than still
images, so waggling the mouse pointer to spot movement is an undderstanable
reaction. But it seldom helps. I’ve made my mouse bigger, and added mouse trails
etc, but it doesn’t feel like it is helping.

 

MegaMaker Idea: Waggle My Mouse

I got the chance to try out Mac, and I lost my mouse pointer on that machine
too. However when I shook / waggled the mouse pointer... there it was! The
pointer grew in size as I continued to waggle the mouse. Now if only similar
functionality existed on Windows... Could waggling my mouse me another MegaMaker
idea?

 

The weekly Email update

I’ve really enjoyed the weekly update format used by Justin on his MegaMaker
podcast. I’m also a long time follower of a Twitter user called @Documentally aka Christian Pain. Christian writes a weekly newsletter in which he details what
he’s been up to each week. Now, he’s a much more varied life than me, with a job
that often takes him around the world. Not only do I enjoy his writing, but I
can see how after a few weeks of publishing his weekly thoughts he’s also using
them almost as a form of motivation.

 

Next Week

So, what should I work on for next week. I’m thinking I compare these two ideas
and select one to move forward with. I love both of them. In fact tonight I
spend a long while researching windows APIs for mice, and also looking at
Facebook APIs. I’ve also promise to help out with some of the 48% group.
Personally I’ve got some work to do on just tidying up the various web sites I
currently own, I’ve a growing bill from GoDaddy.. every time I get an idea I
purchase a domain... I don’t normally use it, but I have it...

 

Anyway,.. for now.. good night all.