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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

As one podcast goes away an other one starts

I'm Cd-MaN and I'm a podcast addict :)

I listen to many podcasts, most of them related to technology, but the Linux podcasts have always had a special part on my mp3 player, because I'm a beginner with Linux and I want to learn as much as possible about it. So here are the Linux podcasts I listen to (in no particular order):

I've also used to listen to Marland Dunn's Linux on the Desktop Podcast, which unfortunately is now defunct for medical reasons (I hope you get better soon Marland). One thing however I (very much) disliked in these shows (with the exception of the Linux Action Show) is the poor sound quality. I usually listen to them on the street, with noise around me, which makes it almost impossible to make out a considerable segment of the podcast. So here are my wishes as a listener:

  • While recording use separate channels if possible for each speaker
  • Whenever possible, record the sound at the speakers end. Voice over the phone can be of ok (still not great) quality, but VOIP systems (like Skype) are almost guaranteed to have drops which make the whole conversation uninteligible and frustrating to listen to.
  • Use a gate (either hardware or software - Audacity includes one! - Jokosher doesn't - yet)
  • Compress (in the sense of dynamic range, not in the sense of file size) your audio. Again, Audacity contains tools to do this, but there is even easier way: The Levelator - with no knobs to turn and good results on Windows, Linux and MacOSX at the great bargain price of 0.00 USD.
  • Don't use stereo! Don't mix different speakers to different channels! Not even a little bit! It makes the podcast much harder (and in some situations - like my old foobard mp3 player which had only one good channel - impossible) to listen to! Still, encode as Joint Stereo for MP3, because some MP3 players (I've heard even some older iPod's) having problems with mono files. This won't increase your file size, since Joint Stereo means one channel, and the difference from it, and since you won't have any difference, those parts will be of zero size.
  • Now for a non-technical issue: if you know that you speak with an accent, speak slowly! Try to keep calm. I know that you are passionate about your subject, but the faster you speak, the less people will be able to understand you. Also, there are very few situations where you should do a podcast on your own. A co-host increases the quality usually by at least 100%!

And the starting podcast (in fact it started long ago, but I just discovered it and I'm going back through the archives): Software Engineering Radio. It is great, with very good sound quality, two (!) co-hosts, and, although they have a German accent, it's not a problem. Definitely worth listening too, if you are a programmer / software architect / etc (no, it's not for beginners, but that's ok).


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