Command Line

A blog and podcast exploring the rough edges where society, public policy and computers meet.

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Site Change

Posted by Thomas Gideon on June 2, 2008

If you are seeing this post, then your DNS has not yet updated. This site has been moved to a new host, you should not have to do anything as the change just requires about 24 hours or so to take effect. If you are still seeing this site after a day or two, let me know.

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Recording Skype with My Portable Recorder

Posted by Thomas Gideon on May 19, 2008

I’ve been spoiled by recording Skype calls in my studio. Using a hardware solution, one commonly documented elsewhere, as opposed to a software solution has netted me some pretty good sound quality. Even better when I switched to using my old Griffin iMic to pull better quality audio directly out of Skype and into my mixing board.

Not having a comparable solution I can drive with my MacBook Pro has very much limited my availability for interviews. I enjoy getting great guests for the podcast but dread the inevitable scheduling hassles that arise from having a day job and not portable recording option.

I was dealing with this very hassle, trying to accommodate a recent guest’s travel schedule when inspiration struck. It started with the realization that my portable recorder has two channels which should be enough to drive a field mic and bring in Skype through the iMic.

From top to bottom, here is what I put together. For reference, I have an M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 which which has two quarter inch mono inputs and a monitor out. You are going to need something comparable, especially the monitor out to make a similar rig work. I also use a Mac, as mentioned above, and while I will try to keep my description from being too Mac specific, bear it in mind when adjusting for your system.

  1. Connect the Griffin iMic
    After connecting it, I launched Skype and switched its audio input and output both to the iMic. On my system, I have to connect the iMic first so it will be available in Skype’s audio preferences.
  2. Temporarily connect headphones to the headphone jack of the iMic
    I did this to get the audio level out through the iMic dialed in. I left the Skype preferences up and opened my sound preferences. I temporarily switched the system sound to run out of the iMic since Skype alone doesn’t afford that level of control. I found setting the output level to about 20% works well. You can click the little icon next to the output setting in the Skype preferences to hear sound through the iMic. If you have a Skype voice mail, you can replay it for an even better idea of the level. I also adjusted the pan, the left-right balance, all the way to the left. This helped push the Sykpe audio out well to the mono channel on my portable recorder.
  3. Switch system sound back to the usual setting
    I did this to keep random system noises from piping through the iMic. I left the Skype ringer set to the system sound setting, this kept notifications from Skype from sounding through the iMic.
  4. Disconnect the headphones and connect the iMic to one channel of the portable recorder
    I used a stereo splitter and connected just the left channel (hence the pan tweak above) to one of the portable recorder’s inputs. I used my test audio, a Skype voice mail, to check that sound was making it into the connected channel of my recorder.
  5. Connect a mic to the open channel
    My portable recorder puts out phantom power so I connected a condenser and sat close to get a good, clear signal.
  6. Connect a headset mic to the monitor on the recorder
    My portable recorder only sends sound out the monitor when recording. I recorded a couple of samples while playing my test voice mail from Skype. At this point, I was hearing what my recorder was capturing, audio straight from Skype!
  7. Connect mic jack from headset to iMic
    This is necessary for my caller to hear me and closes the loop. If you use an iMic, you need to make sure the powered preamp is switched on. Most headset mics are unpowered on their own, mine certainly is.
  8. Get a buddy to agree to a Skype call
    I performed this test to make sure my actual caller for the interview would be able to hear me as well as I can hear through the rig.

Thanks to this bit of experimentation, I now can record Skype calls anywhere I can find a reasonably quiet space and an internet connection. This is a huge relief when contemplating the scheduling exercise involved in pinning down a busy guest.

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Original “Portable” Computer

Posted by Thomas Gideon on May 16, 2008

Wow, what a blast from the past. My best friend in junior high had one of these. That was also around the time I first started noodling with BBS’, mostly through his introduction. If I remember correctly, he actually had a modem for this beast, I clearly recall watching the little monochrome screen, waiting for a connect.

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Link to Help C.A. Sizemore

Posted by Thomas Gideon on May 15, 2008

If you wanted to help C.A., here’s the site where you can make a financial contribution. As of this writing, the community at large has raised almost $1800 to help him. Amazing.

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Audio Archives Broken

Posted by Thomas Gideon on May 3, 2008

In sending a link to a friend, trying to help answer a question I answered on my podcast last year, I’ve realized anything older than the last 30 episodes is a broken link from the episodes referenced on this site. I am not sure what I am going to do to fix this as we are talking about hundreds of MB of audio, if not several GB. My permanent hosting solution, libsyn, won’t work as I am limited to how much data I can post there a month. I also don’t have the already converted MP3 files, so if these files are completely lost, not available on a backup somewhere from the server where they were originally hosted, we are talking about many, many man hours to re-produce those files from the original GarageBand sources. Maybe if I am able to automate the conversions with a bit of AppleScript, we’re still probably talking a significant investment.

I am checking on what happened to those files, just to confirm, so stay tuned as I figure out what to do.

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TCLP 2008-04-23 Secure Computing Environments with Vernor Vinge (Comment Line 240-949-2638)

Posted by Thomas Gideon on April 23, 2008

This is a feature cast.

Don’t forget, no news show this Sunday as I will be at RavenCon.

Despite getting to meet the maintainer of The Jargon File, no new hacker word this week due to the length of the feature.

I received a voice mail but I will hold that until next time because the feature audio is around fifty minutes long.

The feature is some panel audio I recorded at Penguicon this past weekend. I was joined on the panel by noted science fiction author, Vernor Vinge, and the topic was secure computing environments.

Download the show directly. No detailed show notes this week.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Posted in General | 3 Comments »

Clear Explanation of Reverse Copyright and Its Consequence

Posted by Thomas Gideon on April 15, 2008

William Patry has a clear explanation of a particular theory of copyright. This is undoubtedly only new to me but the idea that a theory could be based on consumer value regardless of any value directly to the rights holder suddenly makes sense of a lot of the shenanigans we’ve seen in recent years with DRM and file sharing.

Patry’s examination was apparently prompted by some disturbing commentary on the Gowers Report. This is a lengthy piece but well worth the time to read and understand as it so clearly reveals the basis for a lot of what we are seeing from the traditional media players.

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Show Delayed

Posted by Thomas Gideon on April 2, 2008

The feature is recorded but I am feeling a bit too poorly to record the remaining bits this evening. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by morning and will just publish the show tomorrow night instead.

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Ziff Davies Files for Bankruptcy

Posted by Thomas Gideon on March 6, 2008

The only reason I personally find this comment worthy is because of my fond, fond memories of ZDTV. I loved what they originally did with the channel and its programming and was very annoyed at what Comcast did to the channel after they bought it out.

This has nothing to do with their filing which is apparently based on depressed ad and subscription revenue. I am certainly familiar with their periodicals but have never been an avid reader. Working in the industry and being an early netizen, I always seemed to pick up much of what they covered via osmosis.

Best of luck with your re-launch, ZD!

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TCLP 2008-02-27 Eben Moglen: The Danger of Software Patents, Part 2 (Comment Line 240-949-2638)

Posted by Thomas Gideon on February 27, 2008

This is a feature cast.

The feature this week is the second half of a lecture given by Professor Eben Moglen on the danger of software patents. This second part is around forty minutes, so no new hacker word of the week this week.

Download the show directly. There are no detailed show notes for this episode.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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Truncate File Fixed in iTunes Feed

Posted by Thomas Gideon on February 25, 2008

On listening to the show from last night in the enhanced feed, which should really affect just the iTunes listeners, I realized the file was truncated. I have uploaded a new, complete file and amended the feed so you should get the fixed audio file if you already got the truncated file. I removed the entry with the truncated file so if you didn’t get it, you should only get the complete file.

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Merchandise Now Available

Posted by Thomas Gideon on January 28, 2008

I absolutely love the great new logo that Jared Axelrod and one of the reasons he created it was in response to my laments of not having something worthy of putting on merchandise. With con season spinning up, it seems like a perfect time to shop around for online, custom gear sites. I’m giving Zazzle a try based on a recommendation from a tribe mate (thanks, Tee).

My gallery is here and I have already added a ringer tee and mug. I have ordered one of the ringer tees for myself, to wear at cons during the warmer months. I’ll review the tee after it arrives.

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Listener Comment Line Issue (Resolved)

Posted by Thomas Gideon on January 21, 2008

I switched to using Skype voice mail for the listener comment line recently. I have been maintaining a SkypeIn number for interviews because it is relatively cheap, is often easier for guests to call me if they are traveling, and recording off of Skype works so well with my audio setup in the lab.

Up until now, it has worked well for getting listener feedback. However, I just, like in the last half an hour, received a call while I was actually logged into Skype. I didn’t want to answer because the only calls I get are ones I’ve scheduled or listeners looking to leave voice mail.

I wait a few minutes to see the voice mail show up. It did not. Digging around in the help, I realized that while voice mail kicks in automatically when I am not logged in, I have to explicitly enable it for unanswered calls when I am logged in.

I have enabled that setting in my Skype preferences and added an outgoing message. If you called today around 6pm, EST, please do call back and I promise the voice mail will pick up. As should all future calls whether I am online or not.

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Libsyn Problems for 1/13/2008 Files Resolved

Posted by Thomas Gideon on January 14, 2008

Just got a note from their support folks. I refreshed my feed subscription in iTunes and everything seems to be working fine, now. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Latest from Libsyn on 1/13/2008 Files

Posted by Thomas Gideon on January 14, 2008

According to the support blog there definitely was a problem over the weekend. I cannot ftp into their server from work nor do I have the files to try a re-upload via their web interface. I will check into things as soon as I get home, this evening, around 7pm EST, and see if we cannot get this resolved.

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