Month: July 2012

TalkShoe or Google+ Hangouts?

This is an extension of a thing I’ve debated for a long time, at least as far as Friday Night Trivia is concerned.

The basic idea, from a couple years ago (when I started doing FNT), was to include images or perhaps even video into the trivia shows. Back in the beginning, I was structuring Friday Night Trivia like Jeopardy! episodes. To keep the players aware of which questions were still available to choose, I’d need a visual representation. Back then, I made charts to go along with the trivia shows, but had no way of displaying them in any way other than repeatedly uploading updated images.

Skip ahead to now, when Google+ is a thing, and Hangouts now have on-air functionality. Start a G+ Hangout, go live, and you can share audio and video with everyone in the room. It’s a similar setup to TalkShoe, except with G+, you have to be a G+ member in order to join the Hangout. On TalkShoe, you can join anonymously as a guest. This leads into a list of things to take into question when determining whether to do Friday Night Trivia (or any podcast, really) on TalkShoe or Google+ Hangouts. Anyway…Friday Night Trivia has settled into a regular crowd, most of which are on G+. But not all.

Anyway, what would moving trivia to Hangouts mean? Improved audio quality, shows would be posted to my YouTube channel, those are the two main things (I could also extract an mp3 to upload to the RFC feed). Besides that, the show could continue to grow and improve, with all sorts of new category ideas opened up with the functionality G+ Hangouts offers. Then there’s the stability of G+ as opposed to TalkShoe, which is wont to have the occasional issue.

So, what does all this long-winded gobbledygook mean? (Also, Chrome’s spellchecker actually accepts “gobbledygook” as a word) It means I’m considering moving Friday Night Trivia to Google+ Hangouts. It’s not a definite thing. As things stand, I’m leaving the show on TalkShoe, with Radio Free Caemlyn. It’s really up to your response, the listeners and people who’ve been regulars at Friday Night Trivia.

So, I turn to you. Listeners and participants, what do you think? Should Friday Night Trivia stay where it is on TalkShoe, where everything works and we’re familiar with the format? Or are Hangouts a viable alternative, and something we should try at least once? Let me know.

The Eye of the World ReRead

In these months leading up to the release of the final The Wheel of Time novel, A Memory of Light, I’ve been doing a special series of podcast episodes wherein I read the first book in the series, The Eye of the World. While I might not finish the first book, I probably won’t be reading subsequent books. Even having picked up the pace as I have, I’m currently only 16 chapters, 212 pages in. Nowhere near halfway.

Anyway, I thought I would compile a list of just the reread episodes, in order, rather than have to scour the RSS feed for them. Here they are:

Prologue: Dragonmount
Chapter 1: An Empty Road
Chapter 2: Strangers
Chapter 3: The Peddler
Chapter 4: The Gleeman
Chapter 5: Winternight
Chapter 6: The Westwood
Chapter 7: Out of the Woods
Chapter 8: A Place of Safety
Chapter 9: Tellings of the Wheel
Chapter 10: Leavetaking
Chapter 11: The Road to Taren Ferry
Chapter 12: Across the Taren
Chapter 13: Choices
Chapter 14: The Stag and Lion
Chapter 15: Strangers and Friends
Chapter 16: The Wisdom
Chapter 17: Strangers and Hunters
Chapter 18: The Caemlyn Road
Chapter 19: Shadow’s Waiting
Chapter 20: Dust on the Wind
Chapter 21: Listen to the Wind
Chapter 22: A Path Chosen
Chapter 23: Wolfbrother
Chapter 24: Flight Down the Arinelle
Chapter 25: The Traveling People

So there you go. If you can stand to listen to my voice reading things for hours, then….there you go.

So, How Do You Capture Audio Clips?

It’s a question I’ve been asked several times, mostly on Twitter. The explanation is longer than 140 characters, and would take multiple tweets to answer. Also, given the transient nature of tweets, I’d have to retype in case someone else asks.

So here’s my tutorial for how I capture audio for use as clips on podcasts/netcasts.

First of all, I use Audacity to grab audio clips. If you don’t have Audacity yet, for some reason, grab it, it’s a free download, and a great program.

Anyway, set Audacity’s audio input to Stereo Mix. Look for the microphone icon on the menus along the top.

Now, the screenshot I have has “SigmaTel Audio: Stereo Mix”. That simply refers to my soundcard settings. The dropdown list for microphone settings in Audacity should reflect your computer’s soundcard settings, but “Stereo Mix” should be there somewhere. Stereo Mix is what you are looking for. Stereo Mix tells Audacity that it should record whatever audio your soundcard is playing.

Now just load up the video you want to grab video from. It could be a video you have on your computer, which you play in VLC, KMPlayer, whatever. It could be from YouTube. Whatever, just load a video and get it ready to play.

Got that ready? Now, before you hit play on the video file, you need Audacity to start recording. Switch back over to Audacity, and hit the record button.

Good, with that taken care of, go back to your video and hit play.

Now, for longer videos, if you’re looking for a certain clip, just skip ahead to wherever the clip you’re looking for is, and let the video play. Once you have the audio you want, pause or stop the video, go back to Audacity, and stop recording.

There, you’ve got the audio you wanted there in Audacity. From here you can trim down the selected audio to what you specifically want. Two ways to do that, both require you to highlight your desired audio. Just click at one end of that bit of audio and drag to the end. Either hit CTR+T to trim it, or go to File and choose Export Selection.

There you go, that’s how I grab audio and make audio clips for use on podcasts, specifically those that I use on Marble Operator. Hope that helps!

A note: should nothing appear in the microphone settings in Audacity (either in the menu bar or in the main window for preferences (just hit CTRL+P in Audacity)), check the audio settings in Windows itself.

I know, I know, that’s Windows XP, not Windows 7 or 8, but it’s what I am using. What you’re doing is the same: check the audio input, to see if Windows itself has anything listed. You should see your soundcard listed, at least the drivers listed. (In that screen, you see AK5370, that’s my USB mic)

UPDATE: A much easier solution to this problem is to install the Easy YouTube Video Downloader add-on for Firefox. Once done, simply choose the “MP3 (128k)” download option.