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Richard Farrar https://www.richardfarrar.com Life, Technology and Everything... Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:40:54 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 How to Use winLAME to Encode Podcasts https://www.richardfarrar.com/how-to-use-winlame-to-encode-podcasts/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/how-to-use-winlame-to-encode-podcasts/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 16:47:41 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=1989 This tutorial demonstrates how to use the FREE winLAME audio encoder to quickly and simply encode audio podcasts into MP3 format.

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winLAME is a FREE graphical user interface (GUI) for encoding audio files using the popular open-source LAME MP3 audio encoder. This tutorial demonstrates how to use winLAME to encode audio podcasts into the ubiquitous MP3 format.

winLAME is a lightweight, free program for encoding audio files, most notably MP3 files using the popular open-source LAME audio encoder. winLAME is an easy to use tool enabling you to encode single audio files or batch encode a number of audio files into MP3 format with a few simple clicks of your mouse.

Getting winLAME

If you haven’t already got winLAME on your computer, you can download it for free from:

Download the winLAME file onto your computer and then double-click on the file to run the installer, following the instructions on screen.

Using winLAME

To encode a common WAV audio file into a podcast MP3 format you’ll need to run winLAME. The program should open into the main system screen allowing you to choose the audio file(s) you want to encode.

Choosing Files to Encode


winLAME 2017 opening screenTo choose the file(s) that you wish to encode you can either drag and drop the files on to the large white area of the opening  window, or click on the Open Files button (shown highlighted in red) to open a standard Windows’ file dialogue box allowing you to navigate your system to chose the file(s) you wish to encode.

Input Files Screen

If you’ve selected a file by mistake, it’s easy to delete it from the winLAME Input files selection window by clicking on the file to highlight it and then clicking on the Remove button to delete the file.

winLAME 2017 Input files screen showing the remove file and preview buttonsYou can also preview files that you have loaded into winLAME by clicking on the file you want to preview to highlight it and then clicking on the Play button. This useful feature enables you to quickly check that you’ve selected the correct file to encode.

When you’re happy that you’ve selected all of the files that you want to encode, click on the Next > button to go to the next screen.

Output Settings Screen

winLAME 2017 Output settings screenThis screen is used to select the encoder that you want to use to encode your audio file(s). In this case you should choose the LAME mp3 Encoder; the default setting.

You shouldn’t need to adjust anything else on this screen as the default settings will usually suffice.

When you’re happy that you’ve selected all of the options you want on this screen, click Next > to go to the next screen.

Presets Screen

This screen allows you to choose from a range of presets for common encoding requirements, saving you from having to manually configure the encoder settings yourself.

winLAME 2017 Presets screenThe latest version of winLAME has a podcast preset. Previous versions didn’t have this preconfigured setting, but it was possible to edit the winLAME presets file (presets.xml) to add your own. The location of this file may vary depending on which version of the Windows operating system you are using.

The best option is to choose the podcast preset, but if you decide not to use this setting, then the option you need to choose is the Custom settings preset at the top of the list.

When you’re happy that you’ve selected the correct preset, click on the Next > button to go to the following screen.

LAME Settings Screen

winLAME 2017 LAME settings screenIf you chose the podcast preset option this screen will be missed out and you’ll be taken straight to the final screen, cutting out one step. This screen is only available if you chose the Custom settings option in the previous screen.

For a standard podcast you should select the Mono Encoding and Constant Bitrate options. You will also need to select a Bitrate of 64 kbps and set the Encoding Quality to High.

The Nogap encoding option is used to encode multiple input files into a single output file. As such this option can be left unchecked, as can the Prepend RIFF check box.

When you’re happy that you’ve configured all of the encoding settings correctly, click the Next > button to go to the final screen.

Finish Screen

winLAME 2017 Finish screenThis is the final screen. All that remains now is to press the Finish button to start the encoding process. This window should now close and with the main winLAME window remaining. The progress column in the main winLAME window gives you an indication as to how long things will take.

Depending on the size of your input file(s) the encoding process can take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes to complete, so if you have a large file to encode, be patient.

The bottom window under the progress bars gives you a summary of your input file’s format and the encoding settings you used to encode the output MP3 file.

Once completed you should find your new podcast MP3 file in the same directory as its source file. If you’re happy that everything has been completed successfully you can close the program.

Help Options

winLAME 2017 help screenwinLAME has a very detailed help system which can be accessed by clicking the small question mark found at the top right-hand corner of the main opening screen. However, this can only be accessed if no other winLAME windows are open at the same time.

Video Tutorial

If you’d like to see the exact process for encoding a podcast using winLAME, please watch the following short video tutorial.

Note: This video tutorial was recorded using a previous version of winLAME but is still appropriate to the new version. If you’d prefer to follow the video tutorial more closely however, please click the Switch to Classic mode button on the opening screen of the new version of winLAME and things should then look the same as in the video:

Using winLAME 2010 beta 2 to encode audio podcasts in MP3 format

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The Internet Monthly Podcast No-more https://www.richardfarrar.com/the-internet-monthly-podcast-no-more/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/the-internet-monthly-podcast-no-more/#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:38:43 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2399 After 6 years The Internet Monthly podcast is shutting down on this blog, but exactly the same content can be found elsewhere online as the Zen Monthly podcast

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no-ipodAfter publishing “The Internet Monthly” podcast on this blog for over 6 years, I’ve decided to call it a day and cease its publication. Fear not however, as you will still be able to listen to exactly the same content as a podcast elsewhere.

I first published The Internet Monthly podcast on my blog in December 2008 and have since published a further 72 episodes.

The podcast itself is syndicated content from a monthly podcast that I produce for a UK Internet Service Provider (ISP) Zen Internet, which was first published in June 2007, and continues to be so.

My thoughts for syndicating the monthly Zen podcast on my blog were that every month I’d be guaranteed of new content without having to spend hours creating original new material. Whilst it has undoubtedly worked in this respect, I’m now re-evaluating things and think the additional time I use to create these podcast posts could be better spent elsewhere, especially as I’m effectively repurposing someone else’s content just for the sake of it.

Why No More?

As these podcasts remain available via Zen Internet, I’m making unnecessary work for myself just for the sake of some “free” content, plus I don’t think this is really adding anything significant to my blog. The end of  each month always seems to be a particularly busy time for me, producing the Zen podcast and my other PlantAdvice Gardening Podcast, so this is additional work and stress that I can do without.

How to Continue Receiving the Podcast

So, from now on if you want to continue receiving and listening to The Internet Monthly aka Zen Monthly podcast (and I hope you do), this is where to find it:

  1. iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/zen-monthly-internet-news/id910061053?mt=2
  2. RSS: https://www.zen.co.uk/RSS/podcasts/rss.xml
  3. Web/Email: https://www.zen.co.uk/latest-news/newsletters.aspx

Acknowledgment

Thanks very much to Zen Internet and in particular their Managing Director,  Richard Tang, for letting me syndicate their podcast on my blog and much thanks also to Richard’s brother Will Tang for letting us use his music on the podcasts.

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Annual Blog Review: Year 7 https://www.richardfarrar.com/annual-blog-review-year-7/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/annual-blog-review-year-7/#respond Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:10:12 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2355 Seven years ago I began this blog, so I take the opportunity to review my blog’s progress over the past 12 months and to plan its direction for the year ahead.

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ballon41It seems like ages ago, and was in fact seven years ago to the day that I began this blog. So, as is my habit at this time every year I take the opportunity to review my blog’s progress over the past 12 months.

Up until two years ago my blog had grown steadily year on year until it was unexpectedly savaged by Google. This seemingly unwarranted savaging manifested itself with a 50% drop in traffic! During the last year however this trend thankfully seems to have reversed itself and not only am I back where I was, but possibly even slightly ahead of the game again with my traffic levels.

In the past twelve months I have continued blogging, albeit at a very minimal pace, and I have also continued on various social media platforms, in particular on the Google+ podcasting communities. Yet, despite my frankly dismal posting frequency on this blog, traffic has rocketed. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but hey, traffic is traffic and people are finding my blog, so who am I to question, let alone understand the inner machinations of Google.

Posting Frequency

When I began blogging I foolishly thought I could write a blog post a week. Needless to say this ridiculously optimistic aim didn’t last very long. My current posting frequency is now sitting at 1.2 posts per month (14 posts in the last twelve months). This is down from last year’s posting frequency of 1.75 posts per month.

Every month I produce a podcast for Zen Internet which is syndicated on this blog. So effectively 12 of the year’s posts and already accounted for, which means in reality I only wrote 2 posts during the last 12 months. This has got to be my worst posting record ever, and yet it has been an excellent year for my blog traffic wise, making up for all of the lost ground over the previous year. Bonkers!

Website Updates

This last year I didn’t made any significant changes to my blog, but I did added a few additional plugins to enhance it’s functionality.

WordPress Plugins

Limit Login Attempts

Doing what it says on the tin, this plugin limits the number of login attempts that any one person or IP address can make, helping to prevent the possibility of a brute force attack on the administration section of your website.

WP-Sweep

The WordPress database can become a little cluttered over time, resulting in sub-optimal performance of the site. This handy little plugin sweeps the database clean of unused, orphaned and duplicated items and also optimizes the database tables.

My thanks to Dustin Hartzler who mentioned this great little plugin on his WordPress podcast “Your Website Engineer”, without whom I would never have discovered it. If you’re into blogging and particularly WordPress then I can highly recommend Dustin’s podcast.

Statistics for the Year

After being savaged by the Google menagerie (Panda and/or Penguin), my blog has rallied valiantly with its traffic now eclipsing its previous peak. I still have no idea what caused this, other than Google hated me for a while and now likes me again; clearly a love hate relationship.

Monthly statistics graph showing recent traffic rise

Perhaps my strategy of just concentrating on writing the blog for myself, hopefully with articles that interests others, and ignoring Google paid off.

WordPress Statistics (Totals)

Spam Comments

Comment spam is the bane of any blogger, but thankfully due to useful plugins and tools like Akismet and Conditional CAPTCHA a large proportion of spam can be automatically trapped.

The number of spam comments that my Akismet plugin caught this year is down by 65% over the previous year. Coupled with the fact that my blog’s traffic has soared this past year, the significant drop in spam is especially amazing and very welcomed.

The following graph shows the overall spam comments caught by Akismet since I started my blog:

Graph of spam comments caught by Akismet

 

Website Analytics

Like most bloggers I use Google’s free web analytics tool to track my website’s traffic and its visitors. Over the past year my blog received an average of approximately 14,600 visitors per month viewing over 17,900 pages every month.

Last month’s visitor and page view statistics were both well over double for the same time last year:

Over the last year my blog received almost 176,000 visits and over 215,000 page views.

The following graphs are for the past year.

Summary of Year's Traffic

 

Traffic Sources

Pie Chart of the Blog's Traffic SourcesIn line with previous years the majority of my blog’s traffic was brought via search engines. Google topped the traffic sources again, accounting for 83% of all traffic, up from 77% last year.

Both direct traffic and referrals have increased in their share of traffic this year, with direct traffic jumping from 5.8% last year to 9.6% this year.

Countries of Visitors

Pie chart of visitors' countriesMy blog is definitely international in its appeal, attracting visitors from 212 different countries (up 17 countries from last year’s total).

The United States and the United Kingdom continue to dominate and remain the same as last year with a combined total of 54% of the blog’s overall traffic. Australia and India have swapped places with India moving up to fourth place compared to last year.

RSS Subscribers

I continue to use Google’s FeedBurner service to supply my blog’s RSS feed due to the useful statistics that it offers, plus its ability to offer my RSS feed as an alternative e-mail subscription option. Despite many pundits predicting the demise of Feedburner following recent closures of other free services offered by Google, it seems remain for yet another year…

My feed currently has 118 subscribers (51 of whom subscribe by e-mail). This is a modest increase of 6% over last year’s 111 subscribers.

The following graph shows my RSS subscriber levels over the history of the blog:

Graph of blog's subscribers over time

 

Summary

Last year my blog suffered a catastrophic loss of traffic (down by 43%) for no apparent reason (other than Google hated me). This year however I’m pleased to report a much healthier state of affairs with my site’s visitor numbers increasing by 52% over last year’s rather dismal figures.

You can view my five previous year’s statistics at:

  1. Happy Birthday Blog
  2. Blog Hits the Terrible Twos
  3. Happy Birthday Blog: Three Today!
  4. Annual Blog Review: Year 4
  5. Annual Blog Review: Year 5
  6. Annual Blog Review: Year 6

Popular Posts

My blog’s most popular post remains Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files, which receives 35% of the blog’s total traffic, down again from the previous year’s 47%. Having such a well performing post is very nice, but it’s also good to see that over the last few years the overall percentage of traffic that this post receives has steadily dropped, meaning that my blog’s traffic is not as reliant on a single post.

My top 5 posts have changed positions a little with the Top 5 Pieces of Free Podcasting Software post moving up from 4th position to 5th and Song Capacity Calculator for MP3 Players moving from 5th place to 3rd place. The first and second places have remained unchanged:

  1. Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files (74,979 views)
  2. How to Check if your Speakers are Wired Correctly? (58,443 views)
  3. What is Joint Stereo? (14,124 views)
  4. Song Capacity Calculator for MP3 Players (15,599 views)
  5. Top 5 Pieces of Free Podcasting Software (7,422 views)

In Conclusion

Ironically, in the past 12 months I have been rather inactive on my blog and yet this year’s figures have completely reversed the trend over last year.

I’ve got no concrete plans to do anything spectacular with this blog over the forthcoming twelve months, other than to continue as I have for the last year; although who knows, things can change at any moment.

Life goes in cycles, and while I fully intend to keep blogging, for the moment I seem to be pulled in other directions and am currently enjoying doing some electronic design again, something I never thought I’d be able to do again after my accident fifteen years ago.

So, as another blogging year passes I’d just like to say a big thank you to all of you who have left comments, or who have subscribed to the blog. It really is genuinely nice to know that people are finding my content useful and I may have helped a few people along the way.

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A Quasi-technical Analysis of the Top Podcasts about Podcasting https://www.richardfarrar.com/a-quasi-technical-analysis-of-the-top-podcasts-about-podcasting/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/a-quasi-technical-analysis-of-the-top-podcasts-about-podcasting/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:35:23 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2259 A technical analysis of the top 4 podcasts about podcasting looking at the audio production, file formats and embedded meta-data used by each podcast

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Audio Level Meter

Struggling to work out the best settings for your podcast’s technical production? Ever wondered exactly what the top podcasters are doing and how they compare to each other? Wonder no more!

As a little exercise I thought it might be interesting to look at a few of the top podcasts about podcasting to see what their final production quality is like and how they compare to each other.

This following analysis is purely based on the quantifiable aspects of the “final product” of the podcasts and as such aims to be entirely objective. No consideration is given to the actual content of the podcasts, or indeed whether the hosts can actually string together a coherent sentence or not (as it happens they all seem to do remarkably well on this account).

While I’ve tried to be as accurate and methodical in my approach as possible I do not make any claims about its scientific rigour, but hopefully I’ve remained neutral and have explained all of my methods and reasons along the way.

The Top Four Podcasts about Podcasting

For this exercise I chose four podcasts about podcasting that I regularly listen to and the ones I believe are evangelizing podcasting and are, or should be, at the top of their game. They are, in alphabetical order so as to show no bias:

Podcast File Format and Embedded Information

Before analysing the audio of the individual podcasts we’ll first look at the podcast files themselves, their formats and any meta data contained therein. The tools used for this analysis were MediaInfo and Mp3tag.

PAM SOP TAP TPS
Ref. Episode #351 #402 #167 #082
File Type MP3 MP3 MP3 MP3
Codec MPEG 1
Layer III
MPEG 1 Layer III MPEG 1
Layer III
MPEG 1
Layer III
Bit Rate 128 kbps 64 kbps 64 kbps 128 kbps
Bit Rate Type Constant Constant Constant Constant
Sample Rate 44.1 kHz 44.1 kHz 44.1 kHz 44.1 kHz
Duration 1:01:32 1:08:59 0:36:59 1:01:52
File Size 56.7 MB 31.6 MB 17.0 MB 56.7 MB
Mono/Stereo Joint Stereo (MS) Mono Mono Joint Stereo (MS)
Filename PAM351-SharkTankb.mp3 sop402_
033114.mp3
tap167.mp3 TPS082_
_Zoom_H6_and_
Crowdfunding_for_ Podcasters.mp3
ID3 Genre Podcast Podcast Technology Podcast
ID3 Year 2014 2014 2014
ID3 Track 402 167
ID3 Album PodcastAnswerMan.com The Morning Announcements The Audacity to Podcast The Podcasters’ Studio
ID3 Artist Cliff Ravenscraft David Jackson Daniel J. Lewis | Noodle.mx Network Ray Ortega
ID3 Title On Air Signs – Shark Tank Podcast – And So Much More Jordan Harbinger Left His Law Career to Do Podcasting Full Time What is RSS? And why you MUST own yours – TAP167 TPS082: Zoom H6 and Crowdfunding for Podcasters
ID3 Comments 518 chars 533 chars 98 chars
ID3 Image Size 541 kB JPEG
1400 x 1400px
Other
35 kB JPEG
300 x 300px
Front Cover
169 kB JPEG
1400 x 1400px
Other
95 kB JPEG
600 x 600px
Other
Other ID3 Tags COPYRIGHT, ENCODEDBY, PODCAST,
PODCASTDESC, PODCASTID, PODCASTURL, WWW
COMMENT ITUNNORM,
COMMENT ITUNPGAP,
COMMENT ITUNSMPB,
ENCODEDBY,
COMPOSER
UNSYNCEDLYRICS

So, what does all this tell us?

Well, despite many commonalities, even amongst the leading proponents of podcasting there are clearly differences of opinion as to what approaches to adopt. There is obviously no perfect way of doing things, but perhaps more variations on a theme.

Cliff and Ray have gone for higher bit rates and stereo files, which while undoubtedly giving higher audio quality mean file sizes are proportionally larger and take longer to download.

Cliff Ravenscraft uses the least number of descriptive ID3 tags in the MP3 files, choosing to ignore even some of the most common podcast ID3 tags such as the year and track or podcast episode number. Ray and Daniel certainly win for the most number of ID3 tags and David and Daniel excel in their large comment fields.

Podcast cover art is pretty important as this is what listeners see on their playback devices. All of the podcasts incorporate cover art, although David Jackson opted for the Front Cover album art tag instead of the “Other” tag, which technically makes most sense I think, but ultimately depends on how the plethora of MP3 players available support these tags.

Audio Analysis

Waveform View

A simple waveform view of the sample audio files using the Audacity audio editor can give us a few clues about each podcast’s audio, providing useful comparisons:

Audio waveforms of 4 different podcasts

In Daniels’s podcast (TAP) it’s interesting to note that his audio clipped briefly, indicated by the vertical red line. This is generally considered undesirable as it manifests itself as audible distortion.

Daniel’s audio was much more dynamic however compared to the others which were clearly heavily compressed and limited, preventing their audio levels from exceeding predetermined thresholds. We’ll discuss the dynamic range of the respective podcasts in more detail later in this article.

Frequency Response

Different microphones and different voices all contribute to different frequency or spectral responses and in this respect I’m not entirely sure how much the following graphs can tell us, other then they’re pretty to look at:

Frequency response of 4 different podcasts

Two interesting points to note though are that Cliff’s podcast has an extended low end (bass) and Ray’s podcast has a significantly extended top end (high end or treble) potentially making his podcast brighter sounding.

Dynamic Range and Loudness

Amongst the broadcast industry recent European (EBU R128) and International (ITU-R BS 1770-1) standards have been developed and adopted to measure and help control the perceived loudness levels of audio content within programmes.

These standards call for a programme loudness level of -23.0 LUFS (measured across the entire programme) with a permitted deviation of ±1.0 LU, where 1 LU is equivalent to 1 dB.

Programmes are also allowed a maximum permitted true peak level of -1.0 dBTP. True peak rather than sample peak is specified as inter-sample peaks can often exceed the maximum sample peaks, leading to digital distortion and clipping.

The following measurements were taken using the free EBU R128 and ITU-R BS 1770-1 compliant loudness analyser plugin (MLoudnessAnalyzer) from MeldaProduction used from within Cubase:

PAM SOP TAP TPS
Loudness -12.1 LUFS -16.3 LUFS -21.8 LUFS -13.7 LUFS
True Peak -0.37 dBTP -3.81 dBTP 0.01 dBTP -1.78 dBTP
Peak -0.62 dBFS -4.43 dBFS -0.00 dBFS -2.42 dBFS
Loudness Range (LRA) 3.4 LU 2.4 LU 2.8 LU 3.2 LU
Peak to Loudness Ratio (PLR) 11.73 dB 12.19 dB 21.81 dB 11.92 dB

Loudness Analysis

From the above table we can see that Cliff Ravenscraft’s podcast is the loudest and Daniel J. Lewis’ is the quietest. In fact Cliff’’s podcast is twice as loud as Daniel’s, with a 9.7 dB difference; 10 dB is usually considered as a perceptual doubling in volume.

Although the EBU R128 standard calls for a -23 LUFS loudness level in the broadcast industry, recent studies have recommended a -16 LUFS level (7 LU louder) for mobile devices due to the noisier environments in which they are likely to be listened to. In this respect, David Jackson’s podcast is pretty much spot on, Daniel’s is too quiet and the others are too loud.

Avoid Clipping

Digital distortion and clipping should be avoided at all costs and in this respect Daniel’s been a naughty boy as he exceeded 0 dBTP. Looking at the previous audio waveforms above however, it appears that Daniel only clipped at one point (the vertical red line on the right hand side of his waveform image), so perhaps he’s only been a little bit naughty.

Everyone else has avoided clipping, although Cliff is sailing a little close to the wind according to the current standards.

Dynamic Range Analysis

Dynamic Range is not the same as Loudness! A podcast can be loud, but have little dynamic range.

The loudness ranges for the podcasts measured were fairly consistent yet on the low side, which is not at all surprising considering the programme material was essentially spoken word.

The peak-to-loudness ratio (maximum true-peak compared to the average loudness level) is a more representative indication of the programme’s dynamic range measured over the short term. Looking at these figures we can see that Daniel’s podcast is by far the most dynamic as is also borne out by looking at the waveform of his podcast compared to the others.

Conclusions

What can we actually infer from the above analysis?

Well, if you can listen to the podcasts quite happily, wherever you want and on whatever equipment you have, with no problems and you enjoy them, then it means absolutely nothing at all.

If however, you’re an audio or podcast nerd, then it might be more interesting.

For myself the ID3 tags are of little importance when I’m listening to a podcast. Absolute audio perfection isn’t that important either, but I do hate audio clipping particularly as it causes my particular MP3 player to drop out momentarily at each clipping point. So for this reason I think the EBU recommendation of a maximum audio level of -1.0 dBTP is quite important.

Secondly, I hate significant variations in volume levels between podcasts and as we’ve seen from these few examples volume levels can vary tremendously.

While loudness and dynamic range are certainly not the same thing, they are linked and in the case of Daniel’s audio it would have to lose some of its dynamic range in order to increase its overall perceived loudness. Conversely though Ray and Cliff’s podcasts’ loudness could be reduced a little whilst simultaneously gaining more dynamic range.

Recommendations

  1. Ensure your podcasts never exceed -1.0 dBTP
  2. Engineer your podcasts to meet the -16 LUFS ±1 LU loudness level
  3. Don’t compress or limit your podcasts too much to retain dynamic range

If you’d like to read more about these new audio broadcast standards and how they relate to podcasting, then there are some excellent articles on the Auphonic blog.

For what it’s worth those are my thoughts; they may change with time as I learn more, but that’s where I am at the moment. What are your thoughts or experiences?

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Annual Blog Review: Year 6 https://www.richardfarrar.com/annual-blog-review-year-6/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/annual-blog-review-year-6/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 20:14:11 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2226 Six years ago I began this blog, so I take the opportunity to review my blog’s progress over the past 12 months and to plan its direction for the year ahead.

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Happy Birthday BallonSix years ago to the day I began this blog. So, as is my habit at this time I take the opportunity to review my blog’s progress over the past 12 months and to plan its direction for the year ahead.

Up until last year my blog had grown steadily year on year until it was unexpectedly savaged by the Google ranking algorithm.  This savaging manifested itself with a 50% drop in traffic! During the last year traffic seems to have stabilised, but unfortunately I’m still a long way off where I was.

In the past twelve months I have continued blogging, but with an increased concentration on podcasting. I have also continued to be more active with social media and in particular have found the Google podcasting communities a great place to interact with like minded podcasters.

Posting Frequency

When I began blogging I foolishly thought I could write one post per week. Needless to say this optimistic aim didn’t last terribly long. My current posting frequency is now sitting at 1.75 posts per month (21 posts in the last twelve months). This is up from last year’s posting frequency of 1.6 posts per month and up from 1.25 posts per month for the year before that; a small but again definite improvement for another year.

Every month I produce a podcast for Zen Internet which is syndicated on this blog. So effectively 12 of the year’s posts were already accounted for, which means in real terms I only wrote 9 “real” posts during the last 12 months.

As well as these posts however, I also added 2 new pages to my blog:

With these two new pages and the nine new posts this brings my new content count to 11 new articles; wow, almost up to a post every two weeks!

Website Updates

Since my major theme change last year and my switch to the Genesis Framework I haven’t made any further significant changes to my blog, but I have added a few additional plugins to enhance it’s functionality.

New WordPress Plugins

Pretty Link

The Pretty Link plugin is a useful plugin for the creation of short URLs that are easy to remember and can be used to redirect people to specific content on the website. The links can also be tracked, which is very handy to see which links are being used and to what degree.

Tweet Old Post

A simple little plugin; the Tweet Old Post plugin does exactly what it says on the tin, tweeting your old blog posts at whatever frequency you desire.

CryptX

A handy anti-spam utility; the CryptX plugin automatically encrypts any e-mail address on the blog to thwart the spammers.

Featured Podcast Widget

Last, but not least, a plugin that I wrote myself; the Featured Podcast Widget plugin displays your latest podcast episode in a configurable widget using the media player from the Blubrry PowerPress plugin used by many podcasters.

Statistics for the Year

After being savaged by the Google menagerie (Panda and/or Penguin) my blog’s traffic eventually seems to have stabilised, albeit at about 50% of its peak. I still have no idea what was the cause of this, other than that Google hates me.

Monthly statistics graph showing traffic drop

I’ve never gone in for any deliberately dodgy black-hat SEO stuff and I have always tried to follow Google’s guidelines and industry best practice, but as this all seems to no avail I’m just going to concentrate on writing the blog for myself, hopefully with articles that will interest people. Sod Google!

WordPress Statistics (Totals)

Spam Comments

Comment spam is the bane of any blogger, but thankfully due to useful plugins and tools like Akismet and Conditional CAPTCHA a large proportion of spam can be automatically trapped.

The number of spam comments that my Akismet plugin has caught this year is down by 20% over last year, probably more due to the fact that my overall traffic is down by 50% rather than any real reduction in the level of spam I suspect.

The following graph shows the overall spam comments caught by Akismet since I started my blog:

Graph of spam comments caught by Akismet

Website Analytics

Like most bloggers I use Google’s free web analytics tool to track my website’s traffic and its visitors. Over the past year my blog received an average of approximately 9,600 visitors per month viewing over 12,000 pages every month.

Last month’s visitor and page view statistics were:

  • Visits: 7,813
  • Pages Viewed: 9,849

Over the last year my blog received almost 116,000 visits and over 146,000 page views.

The following graphs are for the past year.

Summary of Year's Traffic

Traffic Sources

Pie Chart of the Blog's Traffic SourcesGoogle have recently changed the way they report their traffic figures, plus privacy and tracking issues have caused a large percentage of visits to show as “not set”. These changes have unfortunately made it very difficult to compare these figures to those of my previous years’.

However, in line with previous years the majority of my blog’s traffic was brought via search engines. Google topped the traffic sources again, accounting for 77% of all traffic.

Countries of Visitors

Pie chart of visitors' countriesMy blog is definitely international in its appeal, attracting visitors from 195 different countries (down 7 countries from last year’s total).

The United States and the United Kingdom continue to dominate with 54% of the blog’s overall traffic (up from 51% last year). Canada and Australia have increased in their share of the percentage to knock India from 3rd place compared to last year.

RSS Subscribers

I continue to use Google’s FeedBurner service to supply my blog’s RSS feed due to the useful statistics that it offers, plus its ability to offer my RSS feed as an alternative e-mail subscription option. Despite many pundits predicting the demise of Feedburner following recent closures of other free services offered by Google, it seems remain for the moment…

My feed currently has 111 subscribers (40 of whom subscribe by e-mail). This is an increase of 12% over last year’s 99 subscribers.

The following graph shows my RSS subscriber levels over the history of the blog. Even with Feedburner’s erratic reporting and the sudden drop a while ago where they appeared to change how they reported their figures, the general trend is upward:

Graph of blog's subscribers over time

Summary

For the first time in my blog’s history the year’s statistics have shown an overall decrease in visitors compared to the previous year’s. Over the last twelve months my site’s visitor numbers have decreased by 43%.

You can view my five previous year’s statistics at:

  1. Happy Birthday Blog
  2. Blog Hits the Terrible Twos
  3. Happy Birthday Blog: Three Today!
  4. Annual Blog Review: Year 4
  5. Annual Blog Review: Year 5

Popular Posts

My blog’s most popular post remains Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files, which receives 47% of the blog’s total traffic, down a little from the previous year’s 52%. While having such a well performing post is nice, it’s also good to see that over the last few years the overall percentage of traffic that this post receives is dropping, meaning that my blog’s traffic is not as reliant on a single post.

My top 5 posts have changed with the Top 5 Pieces of Free Podcasting Software post moving up from 7th position to 4th dropping What are ID3 Tags in MP3 Files? from 5th to 7th.

Unfortunately though all of my top posts are receiving less traffic than the previous year.

  1. Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files (68,771 views)
  2. How to Check if your Speakers are Wired Correctly? (23,607 views)
  3. What is Joint Stereo? (13,706 views)
  4. Top 5 Pieces of Free Podcasting Software (5,839 views)
  5. Song Capacity Calculator for MP3 Players (5,421 views)

In Conclusion

In the past 12 months I have definitely been more proactive with my blog and my engagement with social media, unfortunately though this doesn’t appear to have directly translated to visitors.

However, the bounce rate for the blog is down slightly and the average visit duration and number of pages per visit are up a little, so perhaps the engagement with my visitors has increased slightly, which would be a nice thought.

Last year I decided to focus my blog more on podcasting. This is something I really enjoy and is definitely the way I intend to continue my blog for the foreseeable future.

Finally, a big thank you to all of you who have left comments, or who have subscribed to the blog. It’s nice to know that people are finding my content useful.

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Top Podcast Directories to Submit Your Podcast https://www.richardfarrar.com/top-podcast-directories/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/top-podcast-directories/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 14:07:35 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2158 Podcasts are increasing in popularity but if no one knows about your podcast then you're unlikely to get many downloads. To increase traffic to your podcast people have to be able to find it and the easiest way of achieving this is by submitting your podcast to a selection of key podcast directories.

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Best Podcast DirectoriesPodcasts are increasing in popularity year on year, but if no one knows about your podcast then you’ll never see any of this potential traffic. To increase traffic to your podcast, and consequently the number of downloads that it gets, people have to be able to find it and the easiest way of achieving this is by submitting your podcast to a selection of key podcast directories.

The traffic generated by different directories will vary tremendously, depending their popularity and type of audience they attract, and on the genre and topic of your podcast.

While there are a plethora of podcast directories that you could submit your podcast to, in reality there are only a handful of directories that are likely to bring you any significant traffic.

Although you could happily spend hours submitting your podcast to every podcasting directory under the sun, your return on investment is likely to be minimal. You’re far better skimming the cream off the top with the key podcast directories and using the time saved to promote your podcast elsewhere, in more effective means.

General Submission Requirements

While the submission requirements vary from directory to directory, if you have the following information about your podcast available and ready to hand during the submission process, then you should have most things covered:

  1. Your podcast RSS feed URL (preferably containing just your podcast episodes)
  2. The title of your show
  3. A short description of your show
  4. Your website’s URL
  5. Your e-mail address
  6. The genre / category of your show
  7. Your show’s cover artwork
  8. Your twitter handle

The Top Podcast Directories

Over time the list of the top podcast directories is likely to change and to this aim I hope to keep this resource updated to retain its relevance.

Last Updated: 04 November 2017

All of the podcast directories listed below are currently FREE to use.

iTunes

iTunes

iTunes is without doubt is the big kid on the block and if you don’t submit your podcast to any other directory then you should at the very least submit your podcast to this directory. To submit your podcast to iTunes you will need to have a copy of iTunes running on your computer, an iTunes account and your RSS feed URL.

Submit your podcast to iTunes

Stitcher

Stitcher

Stitcher is an excellent and rapidly growing place to submit your podcast to and they also provide some interesting statistics about the downloads of your podcast and the listening habits of your subscribers. Stitcher is available as an app for smartphones and is also installed in the in car entertainment systems of over 60 different vehicle models.

Submit your podcast to Stitcher

Tunein

Tunein Radio

Tunein is available as a mobile app and as a website for listening to podcasts and radio shows and they are currently looking to enhance their offerings to podcasters.

To submit your podcast to this directory you need to e-mail podcasters@tunein.com with your show’s title, geographical location, cover art (1200 x 1200px, JPG or PNG, < 2MB), RSS feed URL, website address, genre, twitter handle (optional) and your e-mail address.

DoubleTwist

doubleTwist

doubleTwist is a popular cross-platform podcast app for mobile devices with its own directory.

To submit your podcast to this directory you need your name, your show’s title, RSS feed URL, description, genre/category and your e-mail address. From their contact page you need to select Request New Podcast.

Submit your podcast to doubleTwist

Blubrry

Blubrry

Blubrry produce the popular PowerPress plugin for facilitating podcasting with WordPress which, with an appropriate Blubrry account, also offers a wonderful set of statistics for your podcast. The Blubrry directory is also featured in set-top boxes such as Roku. To add your podcast you need to create a free account and add your show’s title, keyword, category, website address and RSS feed URL.

Submit your podcast to Blubrry

Libsyn

Libsyn

Libsyn are primarily a podcast hosting service that a lot of podcasters use to host the media files of their shows but have recently launched their Podcast Source app for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 that features all of the shows hosted on their system, but you can also add yours with your RSS feed URL and e-mail address.

Submit your podcast to Libsyn

Miro-logo.jpg

Miro

Miro is a cross-platform media player and podcatcher which has its own media guide / directory. To add your podcast you need to create a free account and add your show’s title and RSS feed URL.

Submit your podcast to Miro

Give Me More!

While the above list will give you a good start there are other podcast directories that may perform well for your podcast too.

If after you’ve submitted your podcast to all of the above directories you still feel you should be submitting it to more, then the Podcast411 website maintains and regularly updates a comprehensive directory of podcast directories that should keep you entertained for hours.

What podcast directories have you found to be most effective for your podcast?

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Podcast Skype Interview Guidelines for Guests https://www.richardfarrar.com/podcast-skype-interview-guidelines-for-guests/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/podcast-skype-interview-guidelines-for-guests/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 15:05:11 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2134 Using Skype to conduct interviews with guests for your podcast is fairly easy but potential inexperience of your guests can lead to sub-optimal audio quality. The following simple tips can significantly improve the audio quality of such an interview ensuring that you and your guest come across at your very best in the final podcast.

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Skype logoUsing Skype to conduct remote interviews with guests for your podcast is fairly straightforward and can be remarkably effective. However, due to the potential inexperience of your guests with this sort of procedure the resultant interviews can often be of sub-optimal audio quality.

The following simple tips can help to significantly improve the audio quality of a podcast interview conducted via Skype (or any other VoIP based system) ensuring that you and your guest come across at your very best in the final podcast.

Educate your Guests

As a podcaster conducting remote interviews with guests you are probably well aware of the potential problems associated with using Skype to record interviews in domestic or office environments and the external influences that can unduly affect the final audio quality.

Unfortunately however, your guests are less likely to be as well informed about the relative pros and cons of recording clean audio, particularly via Skype, and of the simple actions they could take to alleviate many of the common issues that can plague a recording.

In this respect you can help to educate your guests about a few common pitfalls associated with recording audio and some relatively simple things that can be done to reduce the affect of external influences to improve the overall audio quality.

The following tips for your guests should help you and your guest come across at your best in your podcast Skype interview:

Reduce Unwanted Noises

  • Mute your cell-phone, or preferably switch it off altogether
  • Close all programs on your computer that make sounds, e.g. email, Facebook etc.
  • In your Skype settings click the “Mute all sounds” button on the “Sounds” tab to eliminate Skype sounds from the podcast
  • Close external windows and doors to minimize noises from outside
  • Ask anyone in the house to be quiet whilst you’re being interviewed
  • Switch off TVs, radios and stereos, or turn their sound right down
  • Switch off noisy air-conditioning or fans
  • Don’t fidget: eliminate chair noises, table kicks, pen clicks, paper rustling etc.
  • Use a room with soft furnishings rather than an echoey room like a kitchen
  • Close the curtains / drapes in your room as this helps to reduce echoes
  • Don’t touch your microphone during the interview
  • Use headphones (e.g. your MP3 player’s ear-buds) instead of your computer’s speakers so your microphone doesn’t pick up an echo of the interviewer’s voice

Optimize your Internet Connection

  • Hardwire your computer to your internet router with a CAT5 / Ethernet cable
  • If you can’t hardwire to your router, get as close to the Wi-Fi router as possible
  • Turn off Skype video to reduce the load on your internet connection
  • Ensure no internet intensive tasks are running on your network e.g. video streaming

Miscellaneous

  • Have a glass of lukewarm water handy in case your mouth becomes dry
  • Speak close to your microphone (approx. 5 inches away)
  • Make sure your audio is coming from the correct device / microphone in Skype
  • Try to maintain a consistent distance from your microphone
  • Pause to collect your thoughts if you require; edits can always be made
  • Reboot your computer to ensure it is operating optimally
  • Close ALL unnecessary programs (e.g. iTunes) to reduce the load on your computer

Downloadable PDF

The above list is also available as a free, downloadable PDF. Please feel free to download it and pass it on to your potential guests:

Download Skype Interview Guidelines PDF v1.0

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Cliff Ravenscraft (Podcast Answer Man), Mike Russell (Music Radio Creative) and Ann Hawkins (The Social Media Show) for taking their time to review my list. So as not to offend Mike and the delicate sensibilities of other Apple users I removed the term “PC” in favour of “computer”; even though PC stands for Personal Computer!

I would also like to thank Ray Ortega (The Podcasters’ Studio) for his suggestions and help in steering me away from too much geek-speak; all gratefully received.

Continuing Development

If you have any other points to add to the list that you think I’ve missed out, please let me know in the comments below and I shall endeavour to add them (the good ones at least).

Thanks in anticipation.

The Skype logo is a trade mark of Skype and this blog is not affiliated, sponsored, authorised or otherwise associated by/with the Skype group of companies.

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Which is the Best MP3 Encoder for Podcasts? https://www.richardfarrar.com/which-is-the-best-mp3-encoder-for-podcasts/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/which-is-the-best-mp3-encoder-for-podcasts/#comments Sun, 17 Nov 2013 17:58:39 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=2041 The debate rages between the Fraunhofer encoder and the LAME encoder for encoding podcasts. Listen for yourself and see if you can tell the difference.

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MP3 LogoAmongst the podcasting fraternity the debate over “what is the best MP3 encoder to use for podcasts” has raged for a quite while, although the general consensus seems to have swung in one particular direction. Is this a fair situation? Can YOU actually tell the difference yourself?

The de facto standard for audio podcasts is the ubiquitous MP3. MP3s are a convenient way of storing digital audio data in a highly efficient manner. They do this via a method of lossy compression using “perceptual coding” and “psychoacoustic” techniques to discard certain audio data that the human auditory system cannot hear.The result saves data and can sound virtually indistinguishable from the original source material to the majority of listeners.

A useful analogy to help explain this is if you imagine a rock band playing at full volume with a triangle player lurking amongst the amplifier cabinets. You are very unlikely to hear the triangle! In this scenario the MP3 encoder decides that the tour bus is a bit full and fires the triangle player, in so doing saving much needed space.

A typical MP3 encoded at 128 kbps uses approximately one tenth of the data to store audio compared to uncompressed CD specification source material. This makes MP3s very attractive if you’re a podcaster as you can retain reasonable audio quality whilst reducing the download times of your podcasts and their associated storage requirements.

MP3 Encoder Choices for Podcasts

As a podcaster you essentially have two choices of which MP3 encoder to use to encode your podcasts; either the Fraunhofer encoder or the LAME encoder.

Fraunhofer – The Original MP3 Encoder

The Fraunhofer Society in Germany were amongst a group of organizations in the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) that developed the MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer III) encoding format in the early 1990s. Fraunhofer IIS own and control the world-wide licensing for the MP3 format. So, contrary to popular belief, the MP3 format is not an “open” or “free” format.

The Fraunhofer MP3 encoder is not available for download or purchase as a standalone encoder. It is usually only found embedded in third-party software (such as iTunes and Windows Media Player) with the applicable licenses paid by the software manufacturers. However, as the patents for the key MP3 encoding technologies were filed back in the early 1990s it won’t be too long before these expire and the format becomes patent free.

LAME – A Copycat MP3 Encoder

LAME is a free software codec (compression engine) for encoding MP3 audio files. The name LAME stands for “LAME Ain’t an MP3 Encoder”, which is a recursive name (insomuch as the name refers to itself – a naming convention popularized by the geeky fraternity).

Although LAME is considered free, it is actually only released via source code as an “educational description of an MP3 encoder” in an effort to circumnavigate the fact that it implements certain patented technologies of various organizations, most notably the Fraunhofer Society. Therefore any software that uses the LAME source code as an MP3 encoder falls under the applicable patents and may require licensing.

Fraunhofer vs. LAME

So, why the choice; don’t all MP3 encoders sound the same?

Unfortunately no. Not all encoders were created equal and indeed even different versions of the same encoder can sound different!

The wisdom of the crowd (if indeed crowds possess collective wisdom) is that the Fraunhofer encoder is best at encoding constant bit rate (CBR) MP3s whilst the LAME encoder is better at encoding variable bit rate (VBR) MP3s.

By better we mean that for a given bit rate (or quality setting in the case of variable bit rates) one encoder will be “perceived” to sound better, or closer to the original audio source material with less digital artifacts.

Podcast MP3 Requirements

To retain compatibility with older playback equipment, podcast MP3s are usually encoded using constant bit rates. The “majority” of podcasts are also usually encoded in mono at 64 kbps..

As podcasts are most commonly encoded using constant bit rates this has led to the podcasting community opting for the Fraunhofer MP3 encoder as their encoder of choice.

Judge for Yourself

So, are you a sheep and quite happy to follow the crowd and accept the prevailing wisdom, or would you like to decide for yourself?

You would? Excellent! Then have a listen to the following and choose which MP3 version you think sounds the closest to the original.

Original Source

This source recording was recorded at CD quality 44.1 kHz sample rate, linear PCM 16-bit depth with no processing of any fashion (e.g. compression, EQ etc.):

Or, download: CODEC.wav [0′ 06”, 557kB]

Alternative MP3 Encodings

Three MP3 encodings are presented below, one encoded by the Fraunhofer encoder and two by the LAME encoder.

Why two from the LAME encoder?

Well, the vast majority of podcasters who produce LAME encoded MP3 files are likely to do so using the LAME encoder via the Audacity audio editing program. During the MP3 encoding process Audacity passes a set of commands to the LAME encoder, one of which is a quality setting (q3 in this case).

An alternative way of producing a LAME encoded MP3 is by using the WinLAME front end for the LAME encoder. WinLAME on its highest quality setting for a constant bit rate MP3 uses the q2 setting (better than the default Audacity setting).

As most Fraunhofer / LAME encoder podcast comparisons have probably been using the Audacity LAME q3 encoder setting, it might be useful to add the WinLAME q2 encoder setting as an additional comparison.

The LAME encoder version used for the production of the LAME based MP3s below was v3.98r for both the Audacity and the WinLAME versions.

The command strings passed to the LAME encoder for the test files below were:

  • -m m -q 3 -lowpass 16.5 -b 64 [Audacity]
  • -m m -q 2 -lowpass 16.5 -b 64 [WinLAME]

-m m = stereo mode; mono
-lowpass 16.5 = low pass filter set at 16.5kHz
-b 64 = bit rate of 64kbps
-q 2 or -q 3 = algorithm quality selection

If you want to examine media files such as MP3s to see what encoder was used for example, a handy little utility to do just this is called MediaInfo.

In no particular order:

[powerpress url=”https://www.richardfarrar.com/audio/CODEC-1.mp3″]Or, download: CODEC-1.mp3 [0′ 06”, 51kB]

[powerpress url=”https://www.richardfarrar.com/audio/CODEC-2.mp3″]Or, download: CODEC-2.mp3 [0′ 06”, 51kB]

[powerpress url=”https://www.richardfarrar.com/audio/CODEC-3.mp3″]Or, download: CODEC-3.mp3 [0′ 06”, 51kB]

Now you’ve listened to all three, it’s time to make your choice. Which MP3 sounds best?

Once you have submitted your answer below, you will get to see the results of the poll so far.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

To find out which MP3 is which, click here.

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How I Listen to Podcasts https://www.richardfarrar.com/how-i-listen-to-podcasts/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/how-i-listen-to-podcasts/#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 12:38:27 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=1949 Podcasts can be listened to virtually anywhere and at any time, which is probably why they have become so popular. By the very nature of their flexible listening options podcast listeners will undoubtedly have their own podcast listening habits and I’m certainly no exception.

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Podcast listening habits of mine

Podcasts can be listened to virtually anywhere and at anytime, which is probably why they have become so popular. By the very nature of their flexible listening options podcast listeners will undoubtedly have their own podcast listening habits and I’m certainly no exception.

I’ve been into podcasting for quite a while and since June 2007 have been recording and producing a regular monthly podcast for a UK based Internet service provider, Zen Internet, which I also syndicate on this blog.

Although I may have been producing podcasts for over six years, I have to confess that it’s only recently that I’ve actually started listening to podcasts with any regularity myself. While I have wanted to listen to podcasts for a long time, unfortunately my personal circumstances restricted my listening options compared to the vast majority of people.

My Circumstances

While podcasts can be listened to virtually anywhere and at anytime, their immense flexibility didn’t seem to quite work for me. I loved the idea of podcasts, and of podcasting, yet it took me along time to find a way of listening to podcasts that suited my lifestyle.

My Accident

In July 2000 I suffered a very severe accident whilst diving into my neighbour’s swimming pool. This accident left me paralyzed from the neck down with only partial movement in my right arm. The nature of my condition,and my sedentary lifestyle leaves me prone to pressure sores. For this reason my practical sitting up time, and therefore “useable” time, is restricted to about nine hours per day.

Such a limited “up-time” during the day makes every second count, which I tend to use either going out and about, or working on my PC.

Listening Requires Concentration

While I tend to listen to music whilst working on my computer, I found it difficult to listen to podcasts in the same way. My concentration would wander from the podcast to the task in hand or I’d end up concentrating on the podcast instead of what I intended doing; neither circumstance being ideal.

My Listening Habits

Night-time Listening

Roberts Pillowtalk SpeakerI don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before, but when my brother asked me for Christmas present suggestions last year I suggested a pillow speaker for my MP3 player.

Previously I’d only ever used my MP3 player on holiday to listen to episodes of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” BBC radio series; one of my guilty pleasures.

Since my accident I seem to struggle getting to sleep, so listening to podcasts during this period of “dead time” suddenly seemed a brilliant idea and a way of consuming interesting content that I would never have otherwise discovered.

Listening Times

Creative Zen MP3 PlayerI set my MP3 player to switch off automatically after one hour, which initially seemed like a reasonable period. I soon discovered however that a few podcasts which I listened to regularly had occasional episodes that breached my cut-off period.

I subsequently adjusted my MP3 player’s settings  to cut off after 1.5 hours, which seems to have done the trick. After over six months I haven’t come across any podcast episodes that have hit this threshold. If I had I certainly wouldn’t have adjusted my settings again; an hour and a half for a single podcast episode would be just too long.

Trying to Stay Awake

The only downside of listening to podcasts in bed at night is that they can be quite soporific. I often find I’ve dropped off halfway through an episode only to wake up towards the end having missed a large chunk of the episode.

This used to worry me and I wanted to go back and listen to what I’d missed. I’ve now decided that there’s so much information out there, would it really matter if I never heard that missing bit of content: No!

I very rarely go back to a podcast that I slept through now, unless it was a topic that I was very interested in and really wanted to hear.

My Podcast Listening Choices

I currently subscribe to 20 podcasts via my RSS reader, the majority of which are weekly with the remaining being ad hoc (released as and when) or bi-weekly:

  1. School of PodcastingWeekly
  2. Podcast Answer ManWeekly
  3. The Audacity to PodcastWeekly
  4. The Podcasters’ StudioAd hoc
  5. Podcasters RoundtableAd hoc
  6. Music Radio CreativeWeekly
  7. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty TipsWeekly
  8. More or Less: Behind the StatsWeekly (when series is running)
  9. The Smart Passive Income PodcastWeekly
  10. Internet Business MasteryWeekly
  11. Science in ActionWeekly
  12. Let’s Talk About TechWeekly
  13. ClickWeekly
  14. CoP ShowWeekly
  15. Simply Recording PodcastAd hoc
  16. Social Media Marketing PodcastWeekly
  17. The Social Media Show – Weekly
  18. The RHS Gardening PodcastBi weekly
  19. The Infinite Monkey CageWeekly (when series is running)
  20. The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty TipsWeekly

My favourite podcasts are undoubtedly the podcasts about podcasting, with my other topics spanning science and technology to social media and internet marketing through to gardening. There’s no hiding from it; I’m definitely a geek.

The list of 20 podcasts seems to work well with my 1.5 hours of available listening per night (10.5 hours per week). If I were to subscribe to too many more podcasts I would either have to up my listening time to 2 hours per night (which is probably a little excessive) or consider ditching an existing podcast from my subscription list.

Weekly Schedule

For the week beginning 07 October 2013, the podcasts that came in for download resulted in just under eight hours of listening, which gave me a little chance to catch up on my backlog of podcasts that had accumulated whilst I was on holiday.

Day Podcast Duration File Size Type Bit Rate

Mon

School of Podcasting

51′ 41”

23.7 MB

Mono

64 kbps

Tue

The Audacity to Podcast

The Social Media Show

More or Less: Behind the Stats – BBC

35′ 40″

39′ 25″

09′ 35″

16.4 MB

18.0 MB

4.5 MB

Mono
Mono
Mono

64 kbps
64 kbps
64 kbps

Wed

Click – BBC

Internet Business Mastery

26′ 57″

49′ 55″

12.4 MB

46.1 MB

Mono
Stereo

64 kbps
128 kbps

Thu

Podcast Answer Man
Cop Show – BBC

55′ 58″

27′ 12″

51.7 MB

24.9 MB

Stereo
Mono

128 kbps
128 kbps

Fri

Music Radio Creative
Grammar Girl

Science in Action – BBC

Social Media Marketing

The Public Speaker

30′ 25″

11′ 45″

17′ 59″

39′ 18″

13′ 14″

27.8 MB

8.4 MB

16.6 MB

36.3 MB

9.2 MB

Stereo
Mono
Mono
Stereo
Stereo

128 kbps
96 kbps
64 kbps
128 kbps
96 kbps

Sat

More or Less: Behind the Stats – BBC

09′ 36″

4.5 MB

Mono

64 kbps

Sun

Let’s Talk About Tech – BBC

50′ 42″

23.3 MB

Mono

64 kbps

 

 

07:49:28

315 MB

 

 

Producing my own Podcasts

The PlantAdvice Gardening Podcast show artworkAs well as listening to podcasts I also produce two podcasts myself, one for an old college friend who owns and runs a UK internet service provider (ISP) Zen Internet and one that I do with a friend for a gardening website;The PlantAdvice Gardening Podcast.

The Zen Internet podcast is a scripted version of their monthly e-mail newsletter read by an actress friend of mine.

Both of these podcasts are produced monthly and go out at the beginning of every month.

How do you Listen to Podcasts?

So, that’s how I listen to podcasts. We’re all different and the beauty of podcasts is that they can be listened to virtually anywhere and at any time, enabling most of us to take advantage of this wonderful new medium.

How do you listen to podcasts? And if you don’t, why not give them a try? You never know, you may be pleasantly surprised. No matter what you’re into, the chances are there’s a podcast out there for you somewhere.


Select as many answers from the list below that are applicable to how you listen to your podcasts. Once you have submitted your answers, you will get to see the results of the poll so far. If the categories don’t fit perfectly, pick the closest that you feel apply.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

If you’d like to leave any comments in the section below on your podcast listening habits such as how, where and when you listen to your podcasts, I’d be really interested to hear. Thanks!

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Getting to Grips with the Lightworks Video Editor https://www.richardfarrar.com/getting-to-grips-with-the-lightworks-video-editor/ https://www.richardfarrar.com/getting-to-grips-with-the-lightworks-video-editor/#respond Mon, 07 Oct 2013 11:43:24 +0000 https://www.richardfarrar.com/?p=1939 Lightworks is a free, Hollywood grade video editor, but while cheap and very powerful it can take a bit of getting used to for the first time user.

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Screen shot of a Lightworks editing sessionFor those approaching video editing from a hobbyist’s perspective, Lightworks is a potential revelation. A professional grade video editing software package for FREE; what could be better? It seems too good to be true, but beware! There is no such thing as a free lunch and Lightworks has a steep learning curve for the amateur film maker or videographer.

With the proliferation of video recording devices available nowadays, from the ubiquitous mobile phone to your average digital camera, it is easier than ever for you to shoot hours worth of video footage.

While you can undoubtedly play this video footage back unedited at any time you wish, a little judicious video editing can transform your plain footage into something all together more interesting. If for no other reason, a small amount of video editing is useful to remove all of the boring bits of your footage so that you can cut straight to the chase.

Wheelchair Cam

A while a ago I bought a small Point of View (POV) action camera to mount on my wheelchair with the plan of leaving the camera running during days out, documenting events on my travels. This wasn’t because of any deep-seated voyeuristic tendencies, but rather with the aim of putting short videos of my visits to garden shows, such as the RHS Chelsea Flower show, on my hobby gardening website that I run with a friend.

2 Chelsea Pensioners and Richard FarrarMy initial experiments with the camera proved very successful, courtesy of a custom made mounting bracket for my wheelchair that a friend fashioned out of an old pair of handle bars from a child’s bicycle.

After a few test runs, and a bit of hacking around with Windows Movie Maker, I launched my first video on an unsuspecting, and probably largely disinterested audience, on YouTube. Nevertheless, I thought I was Stephen Spielberg.

Seeking Alternatives to Windows Movie Maker

The realisation soon began to dawn however that Windows Movie Maker just wasn’t going to cut the mustard. Particularly when it came to editing over four hours of continuous footage that I was likely to acquire during a typical day out. There had to be a better solution.

Having a limited income I have to be quite frugal with my pennies, so I hunted around on the internet looking for “free video editing software”. It didn’t take long before I stumbled on Lightworks (still in beta at the time), thinking “this is too good to be true, where’s the catch? Hollywood-grade video editing software for free; how cool.” Mr Spielberg really would have to watch out.

Half an hour later I had Lightworks installed and was raring to go. I opened up the program, created a project and fell at the first hurdle. I was completely perplexed by the complexity of the system.

I don’t consider myself an idiot; an electronic engineer by trade, I’m used to picking up software and making it up as I go along: real men don’t read manuals! However, Lightworks isn’t Noddy “drag ‘n’ drop” software, it’s a professional tool with its roots in traditional film-based editing, and clearly requires a different mind-set.

Perseverance Required

Over the next few weeks I kept returning to Lightworks, determined to get the hang of it. I could see its potential; it just seemed to keep eluding me somehow. Fortunately, with sustained perseverance and the help of some very useful videos from the Lightworks website, the penny eventually dropped.

I am now so pleased that I persevered with the system instead of taking the easy route and giving up, painful though it was. Remarkably, I now find the system bizarrely easy to use, incredibly powerful and wouldn’t want to be without it, despite its quirks.

Editing footage of the Chelsea Flower show with the Lightworks video editorThe takeaway message from my experience is that Lightworks is not for the feint-hearted. However, if you are prepared to persevere with the initial learning curve, you will reach the brow of the hill.

While Lightworks may be free, the real investment is in your time and coming to terms with its idiosyncrasies. Once you’ve done this you’ll wonder how you ever managed to achieve anything with the likes of Windows Movie Maker. Lightworks will save you time in the long run.

If you want to see what I eventually managed to achieve with my budget wheelchair mounted camera and humble attempts at video editing, then check out my video of the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show below.

Video of a Day at the Chelsea Flower Show

During my visit to the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show I accumulated over 4.5 hours of video footage. I eventually compressed this footage into a 7 minute video with hours of painstaking editing:

I now realize that I’ve got a lot to learn in the world of video editing, but I am really enjoying the journey; so any comments or suggestions to help me on my way would be warmly received.

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