New Hobby Horse with Darius Kazemi

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Back in March of this year, I started a podcast, talking to friends about their hobbies they don’t normally discuss. I took it pretty seriously from the start and steadily did at least one interview a week for a few months. After all that work, I decided to take a break for the summer and line up guests on a slower schedule in the future, so I’ll likely have 1-2 episodes a month going forward.

The newest episode is an interview with one of my favorite artists online, Darius Kazemi, who explains to me how he got into anime, what shows he enjoys, and how you can find something you’ll like amid the possibilities.

New podcast: Surprisingly Problematic

512It started as some jokey posts on Twitter, but lots of my fellow Gen-Xers have experienced rewatching an old 1980s movie they loved, only to find out it had a lot more casual homophobia and misogyny or awkward nakedness or generally just didn’t hold up when viewed today. So I said, “that should be a podcast!” and Erika Hall went and did it.

Here it is: Surprisingly Problematic

Erika picked the first movie to review, Pretty in Pink, and asked me to be the first guest. Spoiler alert: there was plenty to talk about but the movie wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I think the first episode turned out pretty well and can’t wait to hear other guests and their favorite films come up over the next few weeks. Since each episode will have a different guest, I’m hoping to return in 4-5 more episodes with something I used to love in the 80s but haven’t seen in 30 years to review with fresh eyes.


I legitimately, unironically find everything about podcasting fascinating: the making of them, the concepting of them, the listening, the learning, the incredibly intimate feeling of hearing something in headphones that sounds like it was made for just you.

It’s like the early days of blogging, all over again and it’s a blast.

 

My podcast diet: August 2018

I listen to several dozen podcasts, usually when doing boring tasks like errands, dishes, or car trips, on the order of 5-8 hours per week, and mostly at the expense of time I used to spend listening to music.

Podcast discovery is still a mostly-broken problem, so I thought I’d share what I normally listen to, and how I prioritize them. To date, I probably found most of these on the word-of-mouth recommendations of a friend or random links in Twitter or Facebook. There isn’t really a good app to share podcasts quite yet (Breaker seems to be getting there), so posts like this will suffice. I hope you spot something you’re interested in, because everything here is something I’ve enjoyed. Also, if you run a podcast and see it on this list, know that I love you and your work but I only have so many hours in the day so I had to prioritize somehow so try not to take it personally if your podcast is low on these lists.

I drop everything to listen to these, usually within hours of them coming out:

These are my next priority, and I usually listen to these within a day or two of release:

I listen to these within a week of them coming out

I get to these eventually, usually on a long road trip, or when I want to binge listen after letting a bunch of shows stack up:

One-off, special short run shows that don’t come up often:

Shows I occasionally pick up an episode when I hear it’s a good one:

I miss these long-gone shows so much:

(by the way, it may seem like a shit-ton of podcasts here, but on average only about a quarter of them are publishing once a week steadily. Many go weeks or months without a new episode.)

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New Hobby Horse with Todd Hamina

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In March of 2018, I decided to start my own interview podcast called Hobby Horse, with the aim of talking to people about their hobbies and passions they normally didn’t talk about much. I found of all the creative people I met, they often were totally into some weird hobby they rarely talked about, and I tried to track down friends and friends of friends with interesting side stories to tell.

The series is up to 16 episodes and I just uploaded a new one, this time with a local Oregon winery owner named Todd Hamina that I’ve ridden bikes with a few times. This year he attempted a self-supported (no crew, no van, you’re all on your own) cross-country bike race. He made it about halfway across before he had to abandon and we talk about both his wine business and how wineries work, as well as how he got into riding, what kind of bike and gear setup is required for such a race, and what he’d do differently next time.

http://the.hobbyhorse.club/16

Listening to podcasts piecemeal: huffduffer & Instacast

For the past few years, there’s been a site called huffduffer (started by Jeremy Keith) that lets you link to bits of audio you find online and it shows you popular items across the service. I’ve always thought of it as Instapaper or delicious for audio, but I never found myself considering it a useful tool that met any of my own audio needs.

Last year I found Instacast, an iPhone app that fully replaced my podcast listening through iTunes. It works around Apple’s previous limitations that require you to sync your phone to a computer and requring wifi to download episodes. It’s a great app and keeps you up to date on everything you love, even when you’re on 3G.

What’s weird is in the years since podcasting came out, the world has changed and there are lots of different podcasts producing infrequent content. You also hear about one-off events or shows, or single stellar episodes in an otherwise established series. I finally found a personal use for huffduffer recently as a way to collect all the single podcast episodes I want to hear without the committment of subscribing to a podcast and having to download every one of its 100s of episodes.

Take for example the Marc Maron show. He’s at 339 episodes, many of which go beyond a couple hours, and though it’s an incredible comedy interview show you’re talking a pretty significant chunk of time if you subscribe to the show. On the other hand, I’ve had friends that listen to the show say there are 4 or 5 episodes you shouldn’t miss, and I’ve been happy to listen to those but I simply don’t have the time to follow 2hrs of new content a week from the podcast forever. Another example is friends doing a guest spot on a show I’ve never heard of, it’s a great way to just pluck out that single episode and save it to huffduffer. This also works the other way. If I hear three good single episodes of a podcast chances are I’ll subscribe to the full feed.

How To

The final step in the puzzle is wiring your huffduffer feed to instacast. It’s easy, but I couldn’t find any instructions for this online so I’ll post them here. Sign up for huffduffer, use the bookmarklet to add single episodes to your account, then look for your personal podcast feed, which takes the form of:

http://huffduffer.com/{your username}/rss

Next, go to your Instacast client, hit the + button to add a new podcast, then click the link button in the upper left. Put your huffduffer podcast URL listed above and save.

That’s all there is to it, whenever you hear about an amazing episode of a podcast or someone you follow on twitter guest stars somewhere, add it to huffduffer, pop open your phone and enjoy.

99% Invisible

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I've long had a love/hate relationship with podcasts. I work from home, so I don't have much in terms of steady downtime to listen to podcasts. I find I can only enjoy them while doing intellectually non-demanding things like highway driving in a car or sitting on public transport. When I've had hours to kill on road trips and a slew of comedy shows I've had a good time but as my time gets more valuable I've culled my lists of shows to less than half a dozen I really love, and besides just one or two, I don't go out of my way to listen to them immediately after they update.

When I finally tried out 99% Invisible after hearing so much good press about it, it rekindled my love of the form. First off, it's unlike every other podcast I listen to in that it's only about 10 minutes per episode instead of 90+min of talking. It is edited tightly so it's both packed with information and devoid of the common podcast deadtime of "so… what else is there to talk about?" There are always great interviews with experts, the website has a full word-for-word transcript of every show, and the subject matter is always fascinating even if I thought I wouldn't care at the start of each show. It makes me wish every other show I listen to tried to be as good as 99% Invisible (including my own).

The short length, deep knowledge, and tight editing mean every new episode is a delight and also an insane amount of work for the guy behind it, Roman Mars (I've heard him say each episode takes about 40hrs of his personal time to create and having editing audio before I would fully believe that number). I would strongly recommend giving the show a try. Thanks to the short length, you can listen to half a dozen in an hour and quickly catch all the back episodes.

If you end up loving this podcast as much as I do, by all means help it out by backing the next season of it over on Kickstarter. They've got a fundraising partner who will kick in $10,000 if they can get up to 5,000 backers and I'd really like to see Roman hit it.

What? Fortuitous is back?

Everything I've learned about casual podcasting:
An exhaustive how-to guide on getting starting thinking about and recording, editing, and publishing your first podcast.

via fortuito.us

For the last few years, I've regretted letting my long essay/business tips blog Fortuitous go fallow, and I've been thinking of bringing it back many times whenever I feel the urge to write more. The other day I was helping a friend with his new podcast and I realized there wasn't a single resource online that contained everything I'd learned, so I decided to write it myself.

This essay is pretty much everything you need to know to get started podcasting with a Mac. I plan to do more of these, the next one will be on everything I learned after personally printing, selling, and shipping over 500 t-shirts in the past two years.

Maybe in a few weeks I'll return to more business-y topics too.

Podcasts are officially better than radio, thanks to user experience

The other day I realized that although I was skeptical of podcasting going all the way back to 2004, I have to admit that now in 2008, I vastly prefer the experience of listening to a podcast, when compared to listening to the radio (say, NPR as I am comparing voice podcasts vs. talk radio).

In my early college years, I delivered pizza and drove around for hours a day in my car, listening to mostly talk radio (KFI in Southern California) to keep myself from being bored. When I had a long commute in college for a few years, I started listening to NPR. I would drift in and out of stories and reports as I dropped off a pizza or had to run to class from the parking lot and I never really got the hang of the broadcast schedules. I haven’t had to commute by car regularly for over five years so I don’t have 5-10 hours to kill every week in a car and I listen to NPR much less.

So the other day I was running errands around town like I usually do. This entails driving a couple miles to my bank, a couple more miles to a downtown shop, and a few more miles to the grocery store. It’s a series of stops and starts and I have to pick up my mail down the street from my house and sometimes I get hot chocolate or food in a drive-thru and I realized the user experience of radio sucks for this. There are nothing but interruptions as I go about my day. I know I’m spoiled by having the internet around for so long and having a TiVo for the past 8 years. Everything remotely entertaining and informative in my life is completely on-demand for me — I can watch, read, or listen to anything I want, whenever I want, wherever I want.

Except Radio. With radio, I can’t follow every episode and I can’t even remember when stuff is on. While I long wanted to have a “TiVo for radio” what I really wanted was a On Demand radio service with pause capability, and that’s pretty much what podcasting gives you.

I know it’s still a pain in the butt to download and run iTunes, then sync to a device like an iPod/iPhone, then it’s a whole can of worms to get it playing back in your car, but once you’ve done the legwork, it’s a pretty amazing thing. I find in my regular in-town driving for common errands I have about 2-4 hours a week to kill in the car listening to music or podcasts. Currently, this lets me dutifully follow every show that I’m a fan of, and I can hear every segment of every episode without missing a beat (thanks to the mighty pause button) and it doesn’t entail sitting in a parking lot for 15 minutes waiting for an amazing interview to conclude. Over the course of the past year, I’ve worked through almost the entire back catalog at MaximumFun.org and I follow a couple of NPR’s podcasted shows, listening a little each time when I’m out driving around.

My truck came with XM radio and I get several NPR stations where I live, but ever since I started listening to podcasts on my iPhone in the car, I noticed I really don’t turn on the radio anymore, and it’s not because of the program quality. It’s all about the user experience.

How to record a kickass podcast between two macs — and cheap!

I’ve updated this with a lot more info over on my Fortuitous Blog: Everything I’ve learned about Podcasting

A lot of people ask me how I do the MetaFilter Podcast (warning: the podcast makes no sense to anyone outside of MetaFilter uberfans). I know they don’t mean “how do you do it man, you’re making magic over there every week!” but rather “what software and hardware does it take to make a decent sounding podcast?” After almost a year of regular podcasts and trying out different software and equipment, I’ve gotten the workflow down cold and I wanted to share the my way of making a good sounding podcast on the cheap. This works perfectly well for me being in Oregon and talking to my friend Jessamyn in Vermont over Skype, recording at both ends, then tossing it all into Garageband to complete the podcast. I read a lot of podcast how-tos when I set out to do my own, and almost all of them are mired in technical details about microphone quality and USB vs. mixer board audio wankery. Most every tutorial about doing a podcast interview focuses way too much on studio-like sound quality achieved through your equipment instead of through software and a bit of clever thinking. So without further ado: How to record a good podcast between two mac users on the cheap Software required:

Hardware required:

Though you might have heard bad phone interview podcasts with Skype before, having Call Recorder running on both sides of your interview will mean your interview partner will have a crystal clear recording just like yours. The cheap headset microphones are brain-dead simple to use on a Mac (plug-in, change audio prefs to use the headset for input and output, adjust the recording level) and produce perfectly good vocal recordings. I’ve used $250 higher-end microphones and had little audio quality improvement. This process assumes two people, each running Skype, Call Recorder, and having a USB headset microphone. The Interview Recording:

  1. Start a Skype chat between you and your partner
  2. Both parties hit the record button on their Call Recorder (I record on high quality, low compression AAC)
  3. Conduct your interview normally
  4. When interview is complete, end call, stop recording
  5. Call Recorder includes a directory of mini-apps called Movie Tools. Have your partner locate their recording file and tell them to drag it over the “Split Movie Tracks” application
  6. Have partner upload Track 1 of the split movie files to a server you can download the file from

Assembling the podcast in Garageband:

  1. Drag your copy of the interview recording over Split Movie Tracks to turn your recording into one file for each side of the Skype conversation
  2. Drag each resulting .mov file over another Movie Tools app “Convert to AIFF”
  3. Drag your partner’s half interview (that you downloaded from them) .mov file over Convert to AIFF
  4. Open Garageband, start a new podcast
  5. Duplicate one of the vocal tracks (my partner is female so I duplicate the default female track
  6. Drag your own Track 1 AIFF track into a Garageband track (my goes into the default Male Voice)
  7. Drag your own Track 2 AIFF track into Garageband, perfectly aligned with our Track 1 (this ensures the timings are exact for each side of your own interview recording)
  8. Drag your partner’s Track 1 AIFF track into the duplicated track in Garageband
  9. Garageband quickly analyzes each track and makes visual soundwaves to go with each track. “Line up” your Track 2 and your partner’s Track 1 audio files. The peaks and flat quiet area should look really similar (click screenshot below, view notes on the image itself) How to make a podcast (Figure 1)
  10. Once your partner’s vocal track is lined up (press play to hear all three tracks and your partner should sound like an almost perfect echo from their two tracks), delete your own Track 2 track. You now have two high quality recordings from each respective source, ready for continued editing into your podcast (you can level out the volume if one person was louder, clip out pauses and coughs together, etc)

How does it sound? To give you an idea of how it sounds, consider the following three sample recordings. The first is the worst possible: recorded Skype conversation where I dialed out to a phone and recorded the entire thing on my end (mp3 sample 1 96kbps) Second, here is what a standard recorded Skype call sounds like, where I recorded both sides of the conversation on my end, so my partner was recorded through Skype and even on my high bandwidth fiber connection, it does have artifacts (mp3 sample 2 96kbps) Third, here is the same interview segment as the second part, but with my partner’s local recording track thrown in and my recording of her track thrown out. Much better and to me, sounds like we could be in the same room, even though we are 3,000 miles apart. (mp3 sample 3 128kbps) Conclusion The basic premise of this approach is you can record a Skype interview without actually needing/using Skype. You are actually recording audio on each end independent of Skype, so you won’t suffer any sound quality problems due to Skype transport. So that’s it, for about $100 or so, you can have a pretty damn good podcast that sounds like two people sat in a room together talking and recording, even if they’re on opposite sides of a country.