January 1, 2006

Audible Althouse #29.

The New Year's Eve podcast, recorded late yesterday afternoon. (You can stream it right on the computer here, and you can subscribe to the series here -- or look for it on iTunes.) In this, the 29th podcast, which is about an hour long, I look at the quotes I collected from 2005 and go into a lot of detail about the Camille Paglia one that I heard in person, with some new detail. I talk about my prediction for the Supreme Court in 2006, and that connection between happiness and virtue.

Sorry I didn't put this one up at about 6 p.m. yesterday when I finished it, but I maxed out on technical things, and there was an eve to attend to. Finally, I managed to solve my problem. Adjusting the bit rate or some such thing that I still don't understand...


Palladian said...

Cool. A long podcast again at last!

A trivial sound quality suggestion for the future: Keep the computer as far away from the mic as possible; the computer's cooling fan kept coming on and is audible and irritating.

Palladian said...

Oh! You just mentioned the fan! I was commenting while listening!

The fan comes on because the processor (and probably the drive) has to work harder when it's recording audio, so the processor gets hot (I think laptops have a tendency to run hot anyway). And since the screen/keyboard is one with the CPU, it's impossible to get any distance if you're using the computer to find material while recording.

I would suggest trying to put the mic as far away from the computer (especially the fan) as possible. I wouldn't try to put anything around the computer, as that will obstruct the vents and hinder heat dissipation and could destroy your new laptop. The better solution is to put some sort of buffer between the mic and the computer, perhaps a small piece of foam or even a piece of cardboard placed directionally to deflect the fan sounds.

Ann Althouse said...

I was thinking of setting the laptop on a bag full of ice!

reader_iam said...

So, this is actually somewhat of a technical question:

I assume the sound comes out of one particular side of the laptop (power- not ibook, yes??) and come on with a ... how to express this in writing ... "gggGwushshss"?

reader_iam said...

My last comment just brought forth an incredibly vivid memory-image from 1979 of trying to describe to a mechanic a weird sound that my quite-used Fiat 124 Sport L was making.

Ah, memories! Complete lemon of a car, utterly inappropriate for my situation at the time, but little and cute and very red (and nothing like the more conventional, and better, cars my peers had). Loved the manual choke--never felt more in control of a car in my life.

Sorry for the OT--but haven't thought about "Paul The Car" in years.


XWL said...

This might be more practical than a bag of ice.

Paul said...

I kind of hesitated at the name of Reader_iam's car. I like it.
But I agree with Palladian. The fan is the hero of our power-eating, heat producing computer innards. Moving the mike away as he recommends ought to do it, if not Apple or Radio Shack may have an attenuation device to put between the usb port and the mike connector.
(Not an expert)
I need to play # 28, if I can, I don't recall hearing the problem there and you had just gotten the new computer.

Paul said...

Except for a faint hiss now and then, there was no fan noise on #28. Maybe you can recall your setup and location of equipment?
I've listened to more than half - it's late, or I would listen to it all, honestly!

Ann Althouse said...

Paul: On #28, I simply paused recording every time it came on and waited. It was a big problem!

XWL: On #29, I was already elevating the laptop off the surface of the table. I also had low heat in the room and kept it by the window.

Moving farther away from the computer is a problem since I'm reading things on the computer!

Ricardo said...

Does anyone know why #29 is playing at fast-speed on my computer? I know that's a silly question, since there are a million things it could be. But it's the first Audible Althouse that's done this. How do I slow this puppy down? The on-screen controls seem to have a forward and reverse, but that just switches me to the next (or previous) Audible Althouse in sequence. Other than that, I only seem to have a "pause" and a "play". But when I hit play, Ann's voice goes so fast it's not understandable. Help!

Ann Althouse said...

Ricardo: That's terrible! It must have something to do with the adjustments I made to get the file size right. I changed the bit rate and the and the scan frequency (as discussed in the previous post). I'll do a new post and try to get an answer from one of our techy reacers.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul said...

Miss Althouse (there you go, ref.# 29) if it is physical noise send the computer back. If it is electrical noise, which it sounds like, the idea of moving away from the computer was a good theory, that you couldn't then see the screen was an, "oh, yeah......"

Break out the old (I'll bet you already did) reliable mic and see if the problem goes away. If not, call Apple, if it does, the problem is with Big Blue, call Apple as both are under warranty. You could try Radio Shack or your Apple store for a fix. But Apple things are supposed to work together. That's why I like PC's they don't and are no end of aggravation, ergo, fun.

If you, Apple, or one of your knowledgeable (I didn't say "other") readers solve, could you please post what was wrong?

I had the same thing on the Audible Althouse site as Ricardo but if you click "here" in your blog post, it will load Quicktime (if you have it) and play right.

CCMCornell said...

In addition to the fan, I also noticed an intermittent thumping or clicking sound. I think it's the hard drive seeking. Those seeks are probably transmitted and amplified by the whole laptop.

How is your mic mounted? To the computer or on a small stand on the same table as the computer? You might want to decouple the mic from the laptop by using something like a floor-standing mic stand. You should be able to find a cheapy online or places like Guitar Center. Maybe even the music or media departments at the university might have an old one.

Search for "laptop cooler" and you'll find a range of products which are like perf'd risers that allow better airflow and heat dissipation. This might reduce the number of times the fan kicks in.

Don't you have a desktop? This might be a better platform for recording since airflow is better and case resonance due to fans, hard drives and other noise sources is much less. Though, if it's one of those iMacs, it might not make a difference since they're physically similar to laptops.

For general tips on computer silence, check out http://www.silentpcreview.com. This might be too much "modding" for a law prof/Apple-user, but the methods and products they cover form the only way to really achieve PC silence. Personally, I've silenced a noisy, hot Pentium system with 3D gaming graphics (a notorious obstacle to heat/noise issues) with some smart component selection, undervolted fans and suspending my hard disks with elastic cords.

Ann Althouse said...

Cornell: Yes, I heard that other sound too, and it's a good point about not having the mike stand on the same table as the laptop.