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Life

Falling Apart

I saw a quote on Facebook a few days ago, commenting that once you get past a certain age, finding out what aches or pains you might have each day is something of a lottery. I laughed at the time, and scrolled past.

I really should have taken more notice.

While emptying the dishwasher at home last night, I felt a pain go up my left leg, through my backside, and into the small of my back. How does that even happen? For the rest of the evening I kept forgetting, and then wincing as the pain returned.

Today, while sitting at my desk in the office, my left foot started hurting – for no reason at all. It just started hurting. I stood up, walked around the office, and flexed my foot around – which seemed to resolve matters for a while.

I’m wondering which random part of my body will cease functioning next. Perhaps this will be the pattern for the rest of my life – semi-anxiously waiting for aches and pains to appear. At least it will give me something to talk about when I bump into acquaintances though – I’ll be able to regale them of all of my aches and pains, and they’ll wish they hadn’t asked. I’ll enjoy that.

Categories
Life

Recording

I spent much of this evening recording and editing the next episode of the podcast. I used “Cakewalk” for the first time, using all the lessons learned so far about mixing tracks, volume levels, fiddling with graphic equalisers, and so on. If I do my job well, you won’t notice I’ve done it.

While the episode is ready to go, I’m going to hold it back until the weekend. I’ve kind of committed myself to releasing episodes on Saturdays – although I’m already thinking about sneaking it out on Friday night, to give Spotify, iTunes, and TuneIn time to update their listings.

Anyway. Somehow it’s already midnight. Time for a cup of tea, and then bedtime.

Categories
Life

iTunes and Facebook

In-between picking away at change requests for the colossal business automation project I have been working on for the last several years, I have submitted the podcast to iTunes, and created a page at Facebook.

I’m not entirely sure I know what I’m doing.

The iTunes decision was an easy one – given that 50% of America supposedly use Apple products of some description. Quite how they afford them is something of a mystery to me. After wracking my brains to remember iCloud credentials, the little podcast that could was sent off to the ivory tower in my imagination for somebody to decide if it is worthy or not.

According to a google search or two, I have between three and ten days to eat all of my finger nails.

Creating a Facebook page for the podcast seemed like an obvious decision, but also a slippery slope. While inviting people to the page, I wondered how many of them know each other by their real names – and if that might introduce a stumbling block of sorts. I know a number of people that keep their blogs firmly under lock and key – wrapped in pseudonyms, and passwords. I wonder if they will keep the podcast at the end of a very long stick, even if they appear on it at some point ?

I’m also aware that adding all of these bits of periphery around the podcast means I have more workflow to churn through after recording episodes – updating Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and so on. I suppose I’ll just have to get used to that. Thankfully Spotify and iTunes will update themselves.

Anyway. The Facebook page is up. If you’ve not visited it yet, head to the following link, and click the like button:

Categories
Life

Slow Puncture

For the last several days I have been cycling to and from work with a slow puncture in the front tyre of my bicycle. I pump it up in the morning, turn the pedals like mad to reach the office before it deflates, and repeat the process in the evening.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t fixed it yet. So am I.

I suppose in my head it’s become “one more thing”. One more thing that’s not ideal, but doesn’t completely stop me in the state it’s in. It’s becoming a metaphore for my life in a way.

If you believe the social internet highlight reel, you begin to convince yourself that everybody else lives some kind of 1950s nuclear-family life, with straight-A children that are seen but not heard, an unquestioningly supporting other half, a lego brick house, and a neighbourhood filled with friendly Truman-Show acquaintances.

I do my best to take no notice of the social internet highlight reel. It’s interesting though – when people share their latest boast-worthy exploits, they are usually littered with little heart icons – “hate likes”, as many have begun to refer to them. The more interesting thing is what happens when people tell the truth about bad days, or falling-down moments – usually an awkward silence, punctuated with one or two close friends trying to comment something supportive.

In recent years I’ve found myself sharing increasingly abstract moments – photos of things, or moments, rather than places, or people. A voice on my shoulder continually tells me not to be “one of those people” – and yet I’m not really sure who I mean by that. We all have excited moments where we want to share something, brave moments when we might reach out, and subdued moments when we just want to know we’re not alone. It’s easy to put people in boxes – to classify them – to generalise. I suppose it doesn’t help that we’re surrounded by a media that teaches impossible standards, and that castigates anything but perfect behaviour.

When was the last time you saw a celebrity admit to invariably staying in on their own, eating pizza, and watching a rubbish movie?

As an aside, I remember watching an interview with David Beckham a few years ago – where he talked about buying LEGO kits when he’s stuck in hotels. He can’t wander out to explore, or sit quietly in the corner of a restaurant people watching as the rest of us might – so he buys LEGO kits, and builds them in his hotel room. And yet he also courts publicity to sell his brand. It’s a strange kind of duality, isn’t it.

I’m not sure where I was going with this. Maybe it’s time to put the kettle on, then go read my book. I’ve started reading the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Categories
Life

Slowly But Surely

After the craziness of work, home, and idiotic escapades such as the podcast in recent days, I’m finally slowing down. There had been plans to visit a hobby store with Miss 19 this morning – which went out of the window when she didn’t emerge until a little before lunchtime. There had also been plans for Miss 16 to take part in a hockey match this afternoon – an email arrived moments ago informing us that the pitch is frozen.

Suddenly the afternoon has opened up before us, and we are relaxing into it with no plans whatsoever. A few hours of terrible television shows, internet surfing, and reading are probably just what the doctor ordered.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have all sorts of very important nothing to get on with.

Categories
Podcast

Laura – Tumblr, WordPress, SnapChat and More

This week on the podcast I talk to my eldest daughter Laura about her attempts at getting a blog started at both Tumblr, and WordPress. We also talk about anxiety, depression, Snapchat, anime, manga, movies, food, and everything in-between.

Click the link below to listen to the episode:

Categories
Life

Talking to Laura about Tumblr, WordPress, Snapchat, and more

The first official episode of the podcast is out in the wild. I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a journey, and that the journey isn’t over yet. I’m still learning, there’s still a lot to learn, and mistakes have been made along the way. It’s been fun so far though. I think.

We sat down to record mid-morning on Saturday, while the rest of the house were out and about doing other things. Half the reason for pushing something out so quickly was the news that Spotify has approved the podcast – yes, that’s right – from now on you will be able to find the podcast on Spotify, all over the world. It’s a day late with each episode, but still – IT’S SPOTIFY!

Laura has been desperate to do something involved with podcasting for a while, but anxiety, nerves, and plain old fear have so far prevented her from doing anything. I offered to talk to her about her attempts at blogging, and before we knew it we were sitting in the study with microphones hanging in the air in front of us – or at least I was. I rigged up a USB microphone in a hurry for her, tested the sound levels, and we were off to the races.

Learning how to record has been a vertical learning process for me. I’m getting better at it every time, but ending up with a recording that’s easy to listen to hasn’t been as straightforward as you might imagine. Today taught me that the USB microphone cannot be held – but by the time I realised you could hear Laura’s panicked grip on the microphone, it was too late to do anything about it (other than record the whole thing again). We just went with it.

I’m also learning how to use a “DAW” – a “Digital Audio Workstation”. It’s the software that allows me to edit the recorded sound – chopping out pregnant pauses, removing background noises, and adding introductions and background music. Luckily I haven’t had to spend any money on software yet – everything used was available for free.

The audio hosting at Soundcloud has been free so far. I can upload a certain amount per month for free (three hours, I think), but beyond that I will have to start paying. Somehow I can’t see myself becoming prolific enough to warrant a paid account, but you never know. Thirty minutes per episode seems like enough.

Anyway. Onwards and upwards. I suppose I should really get back to blogging about real life now, and stop ramming the podcast down everybody’s throat. I need to go make dinner, so I’ll leave you to have a listen. If you would like to feature on a future episode, get in touch via the contact [/contact] page!.

Categories
Life

Waiting for Spotify

There’s an old saying that warns about putting the cart before the horse. It sounds like just the sort of saying I might completely ignore – in fact I have completely ignored it.

While listening to a podcast a few days ago, the host mentioned that Spotify had overtaken iTunes in terms of number of podcasts served out over the internet each month. I’m not quite sure where the metrics have come from, but I’m inclined to believe the story. Apple has a horrendous track-record when it comes to anything except building hardware and operating systems – all of their software and services outside of those has historically been utter garbage.

For years iTunes was the only game in town when it came to attracting traffic to a podcast – mostly because all other routes required a degree of technical knowledge, or dogged persistence. I remember back when I worked in London, I would download podcasts with a Linux application called “GPodder”, and then sync them to a Palm organiser to listen to while commuting – this was a couple of years before the iPhone arrived, and changed everything.

Until very recently, if you wanted to listen to a podcast, you would have to scratch around in the darker corners of the internet to find them – or go directly to the source of each podcast, and feed the URL into a piece of software specially designed to collate the downloaded files for you.

Notice I wrote “until recently”. In true “forces of Sauron” fashion, Spotify recently realised that the whole podcast escapade might be worth bothering with after all, and turned their gaze towards it. In the space of perhaps six months, they went from nowhere, to the primary means of finding podcasts on the internet.

Guess who’s podcast – which currently has one episode published – is waiting to be approved by Spotify ? Go on – just guess. To be honest, I started filling the submission form in at lunchtime more out of curiousity than anything, but then realised the enormity of it all while the mouse pointer hovered over the submit button.

While the first episode might have been rather pedestrian, and more of a “shake down” than anything, knowing that the podcast is listed and available for discovery to hundreds of millions of people around the world concentrates the mind somewhat. I need to start posting really great content, really rather quickly.

It will surprise nobody that knows me to discover that I am feverishly scribbling down a list of all the bloggers I vaguely know, and working my way through them – inviting them to take part in the podcast – to talk about how they got started, what they write about, when they post, who they are inspired by, and if there are any stories they might like to share about their experiences posting their inner thoughts too the unwashed masses of the internet.

It’s going to fun – and terrifying – but mostly fun. I think. Maybe. Just hang on a minute while I go and check the status of that Spotify podcast submission…

Categories
Life

Small Moves

I chatted briefly with an old friend on the internet today about the various machinations involved in bringing a podcast to life. Just as I started firing questions at him, he reminded me that content counts for far more than sound quality, editing, post-processing, or anything else. He should know – he works for the BBC, and records one of the best podcasts I know.

Before saying goodbye, I arm twisted him into recording a chat with me for my podcast at some point. Ok – maybe not arm twisting as such – more “can I record a chat with you?”, “of course!”. It’s worth noting that he writes a very lovely blog, and has done so for almost as long as me.

After taking on board that it’s all about content, and not about equipment, or software, I ordered a new microphone for myself – to help with the content, honest. I’m pretty sure having a shiny new microphone will help enormously with content (stop laughing). Seriously though – the new microphone and it’s stand will make me look almost professional – or at least as professional as you can look with the cheapest podcasting kit available via next-day delivery from Amazon.

This whole podcast escapade has turned into a snowball rolling down a snowy mountainside, hasn’t it. I need to stop writing about it and just get on with doing it. As an aside, I found out why the sound was so awful on the first episode, and have hopefully corrected it for the next one.

Anyway.

In other news, I watched the first episode of “The Witcher” earlier – while everybody else was out. Am I the only person in the world that couldn’t make head or tail of the story? I asked my other half – who has binge watched the entire series – and she said it took her several episodes to sort out the various inter-leaved stories too. I don’t quite know why Netflix threw money at “The Witcher” anyway – they should have carried on making “The OA”.