Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oh, the Audacity!

The icon used by Apple to represent Podcasting.Image via Wikipedia

I've officially turned into a podcasting geek, as if I needed any more help in the geek department. I enjoy our semi-kind of bi-weekly get-togethers for LucasCast. In fact, when Trusty Friend Rogue Nine went to the Philippines in December, I went so far as learning not only how to podcast, but also how to edit the podcast. Mind you, I'm not a sound engineer. However, I have faith in my ability To Learn New Things, because I rather like doing that kind of stuff. It's what's driven me to join my kids playing plastic guitars in Rock Band at age Permanently-29, take a creative writing class along with learning to break boards in Taekwondo, twittering, and mixing up a proper margarita. I decided I could learn to use the sound-editing program named Audacity.

Despite Trusty Friend Rogue Nine informing me "It's not the easiest program to use," I thought I could persevere. What I failed to recognize was that Niner's definition of 'not the easiest to use' is akin to saying 'it's not the easiest thing to labor 36 hours and give birth to a 12 pound baby without Good Drugs' or 'it's not the easiest thing to chew lava'. Nonetheless, I decided my faith would carry me.

The programmers of Audacity, however, apparently do not practice the same religion I do. They don't even speak the same language I do. They speak "Sound Engineering" and "Programming Code". Clearly, English is a foreign language for them, and it's not even a second language. It's maybe 4th or 6th if I'm lucky. Needless to say, the Audacity user manual was some hybrid language of "Sound/Code/English", pronounced "SoCoglish" for Normal Geeks like you and me. I found it about as comprehensible as "The endoscope was introduced via a 3 mm corneal incision and extended into the posterior chamber and then brought adjacent to the ciliary processes" would be for non-medical speakers. (Translation for those who don't speak medical: We made a small hole in your eye so we could stick this thingamabob into it and bring it by the watchyamacallit tissue right behind your iris).

The SoCoglish native speakers apparently had been informed at some point that the rest of us were too stupid to speak their language, and thus were completely unable to understand their manual. They kindly obliged us, not by re-writing the manual, but by starting a wiki and a forum on it for us non-SoCoglish-speakers to communicate. This, of course, makes perfect sense, if you're the kind of person who thinks texting while driving 92 mph during rush hour while adjusting the radio, flipping off the driver next to you, and drinking a 44 ounce Speedway cup of Mountain Dew, all at the same time, makes perfect sense.

So, moments after I received the raw mp3 of episode 14 from Trusty Friend Tobias Reiper, I opened up Audacity. I read the manual. I scratched my head. I read it again. I looked at the mp3, which was doing nothing. I read again. I got a cup of coffee. I switched to the wiki and read some more. An hour later, I had figured out how to import the file into the Audacity program. Progress!!!! It took me 19 hours to edit the first 17 minutes of the podcast, including 2 hours spent trying to figure out how to make a bleep tone to bleep out some of Trusty Friend leXX's naughty British language. Then I discovered one thing that made me bang my head on the keyboard. I'd forgotten we'd started the podcast over 17 minutes into the podcast.

Eighty hours and a good 3 weeks later, I was finishing up when Trusty Friends Darth Groovy and leXX suggested nuking the podcast, on the theory that the information would no longer be timely and fresh. I informed them that a. I had now learned enough SoCoglish to edit, b. I was 2 minutes away (podcast time, read: 2 hours away in Real People time) from finishing the damned thing, and c. By God It Was Going To Get Posted. I didn't care if it was so old that crusty blackened moldy bananas looked newborn in comparison, it was getting uploaded. I think I scared them, because they backed away and handed me a funny-looking white jacket and a bottle of Thorazine. You'll notice the podcast got posted anyway.

Apparently, I became more fluent in SoCoglish and did learn something about podcast editing, because it only took me about 28 hours to edit 64 minutes of LucasCast 15. Being able to put our Gilbert Gottfried impressions on the blooper reel was worth every moment of that work.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


SIERRA MADRE, CA - MAY 29:  Seventieth anniver...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I have apparently 'made it' in the blogosphere. I've been noticed by spambots. My first spam comment was logged. There's nothing like getting a comment about 'male enhancement medications'. You'd think that 'MOM' would indicate to the bots that I'm female, and don't have a male member to enhance. 'MOM' also indicates I was successful at least once in the fertility department, and therefore have no need of such things. Gotta love it.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

LucasCast Episode 14 now available

Our latest podcast on gaming is now available here (clicky)! Please feel free to leave comments here or in this thread (clicky).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Collage of various Christmas images, made from...Image via Wikipedia

It's been awhile since I posted, I know. I went back to work after being off for a month following my lap-band surgery, and I was just plain worn out. We also had the Christmas and New Year's holidays. I had a fabulous time getting together with family and friends, both in Real Life (tm) and online.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the beautiful, colorful lights decorating all the homes. We put the icicle lights up on our roof line this year along with many strings of lights on our Christmas tree. The music is truly amazing, from Medieval motets to Handel's Messiah to Michael W. Smith's Christmas album. I love singing 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' and 'Carol of the Bells'. The Hallelujah Chorus gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. We added Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album to our music repertoire this year--he has such a beautiful tenor voice. Singing carols with the rest of our church congregation, visiting with friends and family, and listening to the Christmas story are some of the most beautiful things about this season.

The delightful smell of freshly baked homemade cookies wafting through our home makes my mouth water. Granted, I could only eat tiny amounts of cookies this year, and I didn't make the brown sugar cashew fudge this time since it was too much temptation for me, but I decided not to deny myself the goodies entirely. I still managed to lose 2 pounds over the holidays--something that has NEVER happened to me in the past!

Geeky Mom that I am, gaming took up some of my time. The Siege of Mirkwood expansion came out for Lord of the Rings Online, and of course LOTRO had their annual Yule festival. Turbine's newest incarnation of the festival horse race drove me nuts because it depended a LOT on speed and just plain dumb luck. When you play on a server as busy as the Brandywine server, especially during a festival, the server ping rate is far from ideal. I failed many times due to just plain lag. However, I did finally get the 2 Yule festival horses. The artists did a lovely job with the details.

I was less than enthused about how Turbine managed the Siege of Mirkwood expansion, as were any number of other players. If you signed up for a multi-month payment plan before the release of SoM, you received the expansion for free. If you were a lifetime member or on the month-to-month plan, you had to pay for it. Now, they tried to soften the blow by saying "you'll get it free with this pre-release 'Adventurer's pack'", however, the Adventurer's pack was crap. It consisted of a cloak that was worthless for anyone above level 4 or 5, a couple other items, and 2 new character slots. Now, I actually wanted the character slots, so I was happy to fork out the 20 bucks. However, I didn't appreciate the bass-ackward marketing strategy where Turbine gave SoM to some people for free while others had to pay.

Christmas Day was awesome. We went to my dad's house for dinner with the extended family. After enjoying an amazing Beef Wellington dinner, we exchanged gifts. Then I pulled out the Xbox 360, drums, guitars, mics, and plugged in Rock Band Beatles. My dad is probably one of the biggest Beatles fans on this side of the Atlantic. He has every album. His short term memory is a little wonky after his stroke, but he can sing every single Beatles song word and note-perfect. My sister took some video of my dad and me singing while her boyfriend played drums and my husband and son played guitar and bass. We all had such a good time that my sister and her boyfriend came over to our house the next day, and my dad joined us a few days later for even more Beatlemania.

We game as a family on New Year's Eve. The last few years we've played D and D to ring in the New Year. This year we decided to rock in the New Year by playing Lego Rock Band. Of course, we had to play Queen's "We Will Rock You" as the clock struck midnight. After that, the kids went to bed, and hubby and I logged into Guild Wars for their Wintersday finale. There were some issues with huge lag problems and some people not receiving their festival hats, but ArenaNet quickly got out a new build and fixed the problem, including a promise to do another Wintersday to make it up to those who weren't able to get their festival items. I spent New Year's day doing so many Snowball Dominance runs that I made over 100k in gold (pixelated gold always being a useful thing in any video game) and maxed my Ebon Vanguard title. Hubby thought I was nuts to do hundreds of runs, but it only took about 2-3 minutes per run, and it was just plain fun to throw snowballs at the opposing team instead of killing Charr. When they do a repeat of that festival, I'll log in with another character and max their title by having fun throwing a few more thousand snowballs.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and that your New Year is fantastic!

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