Stars in the sky

Patrick Moore wasn’t just a man, but an institution. For a few generations in the UK an Ireland, if you was “astronomer” its his face and voice that come to mind.

Odd, eccentric, passionate about science and extremely fun to listen to. He quite simply made science interesting. Being an amateur might have helped. All his doctorates were honorary, but deserved.

Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS died on the December 9 2012.

Thanks to the RTÉ documentary on One podcast, I heard the music he wrote for the first time. And its a great insight in to the man. RTÉ have a habit of removing their podcasts after two weeks, so results will vary.

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DocArchive: Stargazers
Patrick Moore boasted to friends that he was the only man to interview Orville Wright, Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin but to his fans he was much more than a broadcaster. (Broadcast 2001)

Listen no more

Google Listen is my most used app. Its been barely tended to, but it does its one job really well.
I should ask my podcasts like +Pop Tech Jam as to what I should use to replace it. I'm thinking about using Pocket Casts by Jelly Shift.

Any ideas?

And thanks to +Conor O'Neill for telling me about the demise.

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Google cancels Listen. I’m cancelling all non-core products by large corporations
We launched Google Listen through Google Labs in August 2009, to give people a way to discover and listen to podcasts. However, with Google Play, people now have access to a wider variety of podcast apps, so we’ve discontinued Listen.
I never thought Listen was very good but this cancellation is why more and more I avoid Google’s non-core products. They are turning into Yahoo like this. I’m tired of putting effort into products by these large cor…

SBB in a croí le Katie Taylor

Seán Bán Breathnach is a feature of Radio na Gaelacht and has been broadcasting for decades. But his loosing it and crying when the results at the Women's Boxing at the 2012 London Olympics announcing the gold medal for Katie Taylor is a thing of, well, wow.

I love how he compares her to the famous women of Ireland (Mná na hÉireann). The thing is, for a little while, the whole country went a touch mad from happiness, including people like me who had no idea what was going on.

Still, #Ledgebag was created for people like her.

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Katie Taylor, Olympic Gold in Irish
Katie Taylor, Olympic Gold in Irish (mp3)

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This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the themes of “Olympics” and “Editing”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

I’ve not forgotten about the missed topics, “Earliest memory” requires time and baking, while the “deadlines” post may require state clearance once I’ve coded up the data.


Would you like to make your own butter?

Well Ella McSweeney, the television presenter of Homegrown, Ear to the Ground and the radio show Countrywide is moving on to a live stream.

At 7pm today (16 March) she is hosting a live video cast on the GIY Ireland (Grow It Yourself) website. To join in at home you will need a pint of cream, a bowl large enough to hold a pint of cream with a bit of room and a whisk. And of course a computer to watch the live video feed from Tipperary town.

I’ve included her AudioBoo about it below.


Direct link in case a podfeeder needs it.

Take care,

Google Listening Or Are we ready for real-time audioblogging conversations

Google Listen is a wonderful android app that gets your podcasts in your ears. It does have a few side-effects; it stops you from listening to music.

Now bear with me on this. It might just be me, but with a constant stream of podcasts that I want to hear, I sort of stopped listening to music. After all, I only have 80 slots, and only so much time I can listen to things. But let me go back a bit…

Google Listen is an Android App that ties in with Google Reader. Once the app connects to your reader account you discover that you have a new folder called “Listen Subscriptions”. Any correctly formatted blog post with an MP3 file (I said correctly formatted @enormous) in that folder will get the files scrapped in to the Listen app and it will download and queue it. It seems to work with M4A files too (@MajorNelson audio works however all the links are just a mess of notes. Add a bit more spacing for legibility next time).

However the details of an audio file are small. The actually audio files are much larger. Lets put it this way, if a picture costs a thousand words, then audio costs about ten pictures a second. And over a mobile network, with all the limits most of the carriers apply. Well lets just say that data packets can cost a packet if you exceed your limit. Fortunately you can make Google Listen only download the audio files while connected to a wi-fi connection.

Free wifi is not ubiquitous. And most “advert fronted” wi-fi nodes stop the audio downloads cold (they make Listen download the advert, not the audio file). This means that if someone leaves you a personal audioboo message, it might be some time before you can download it.

Listen also imposes a limit to the number of files you can download.This makes sense if you are running out of memory space on your device (Android has jumped to tablets, and one or two netbooks). The current maximum is eighty files. Not eighty megabytes but eighty files. To ease this a bit I push the short files, those under ten minutes to the top of the queue every morning (sorry @DoneganGardens, your Sodcast remains in the slow queue). This includes most if not all of my audioboo feed. Once played (or deleted), their slot is free for another file. This means that there is at least a delay of a day before I hear a personal message.

What does this delay mean. I means that one-to-many or personal messages audio in search of a reply don’t get heard until the next day. And a response could be delayed even further depending on how much you can afford to reply with over-the-air audio. Even if I was connected to wi-fi constantly, I suspect I wouldn’t push those short audio files for an immediate listen either.

Brian Greene asked if using the likes of pub-sub-hub for audio blogging would make audio-file chat more likely to happen. The problem isn’t simply technology. Its cost, and lifestyle. And yes technology. Costs can come down, technology will reduce the amount of time before you can listen to near zero. But it takes time to listen. It takes time to find the time to listen.

At the moment, this isn’t the time for real-time discrete audio file chatting. Its as much as lifestyle as it is technology. Real-time audio chatting is better on a one-to-one connection, such as a phone call or a skype chat. Even something like a Kinect video chat party conference is a possibility. These are a “stop what you are doing and talk to someone” technology, or synchronous. Swapping audio files, even in a public forum is closer to non-synchronous technology such as e-mail. Or voice mail. Audioboo makes a twitter public style version of voicemail, but its non-synchronous. Meaning it can wait while you do something else.

So my answer is “no”. I’m not saying “not-yet”, I’m saying “no”. Its because actively seeking to hear all new comments is a very active choice in a mostly passive medium. Netbooks are an example of “good enough” technology. They are not the latest and greatest, they are small, light and cheap enabling a lot of functionality in a convenient form-factor for a lot of tasks. Non-realtime audio-blogging is “good enough”. Mainly because you are recording a message.

Recording an audio message implies that its not urgent, its passive. A phone call is an attempt to form an active connection. An e-mail is a fire-and-forget leave it until you are ready connection. A podcast, even a personal one, is a style of communication that can wait. And audio-blogging is such an example. It will never be as current as sending a tweet.

Otherwise you are chatting. And if you want to chat… chat.

But let me ask you to do a test. Get a text-to-speech application. Send your real-time, pushed twitter feed to it. Its noisy. Literally noisy. That is the possible end result if everyone tried to real-time audio-blog. You would need to stop the feed to reply. Even the fire-hose of video bloggers on YouTube know that immediate chat is not possible. Life and a mixture of more feed than there are hours of the day get in the way. Besides, the consumption of this video feed is not a real-time push, but a I’m-ready-for-it-now pull.

As a technology, its great for breaking news. Real-time release of news-in-the-field is a wonderful thing. However, the people actively listening for that real-time push is few. News organizations and news junkies would love it. And then they curate that feed. The old slow systems are not just a “good enough” technology for most, may actually be chosen by preference.

If the technology becomes widespread, then to manage it, you’ll have to do what many do with twitter. Watch some in real-time. Watch and later read a few twitter feeds that are personally important to them, and leave all the others go in to the ether of the web until a search finds them.

I’m just not too sure that its what the advocates of audio-blogging are actually looking for.

Podcaster me?

Am I a podcaster? It should be a simple question to answer, but for me, things have gotten complicated.

You see I filled out the podcast listener and producer survey being conducted by Adele McAlear and Donna Papacosta. Actually if you listen to podcasts, go and do the survey yourself. But in the process of filling out the survey, I realised that I might be making podcasts myself.

I should know what a podcast is, goodness knows I love them. Technically, a podcast is a series of digital media files, audio or video, that are downloaded and made available through a syndicated feed, such as RSS.

For the stuffy amongst you, to have your podcast available for iTunes you need to supply iTunes with your RSS feed. The “pod” bit came about thanks to the iPod/ iTunes/ iPhone/iPad phenomena. If you can listen to it online, but can’t download it, then its a stream.

The unsure part of me is thanks to Audioboo. Audioboo is a website, and its an application for my phone. I start the app, record my thought in to the phone, hit a button and it sends the file off to the Audioboo servers. There the audio file is available for download (check one), or streaming and its part of an RSS feed (check two).

The thing is, it does not feel like podcasting. There is no microphone, there is no production (let alone production values). There is a minimum of action, but there is interaction. I follow people on Audioboo.

Its a audio twitter, where business and passion interact. And replies pass through members.

There is also an ambient category. Take out the phone and record where you are. Thanks to GPS info, it could be an audio Foursquare. What am I hearing now?

Its also useful for correspondents. Only temporary files are on the phone. In an “interesting” area you can record your piece and (with iOS4 and Android) upload the audio in the background. If you are stopped and searched, the evidence has already been uploaded to a server outside the jurisdiction. Expect to see it feature in a remake of “The Conversation“.

It is podcasting made easy. So yes, I am a podcaster! My studio lives in my pocket. And right now, I have no idea what to say.

Any ideas?

Bezap and silence

I listen to a lot of podcasts. However I don’t use an iPod (or their ilk). I end up using the cheaper variety as damage is easier to cry over when you’re not that much out of pocket.

This time I think the player is going to the shop. The new player keeps resetting and corrupting its file system. First time I lost 3 weeks of podcasts.

Harried recovery routines were initiated, but to little avail (fortunately I could remember some of the sources).

But it sorts of liberating. I lost my backlog. With the exception of “Security Now” I haven’t gone to great lengths to re-download the lost files.

Admittedly I still have a backlog, but the numbers are manageable now. Its like clearing out an inbox.

Of course, the 4 months worth of music reviews weren’t lost. Still have to do that. Now you know why I listen to podcasts for pleasure.

The play is still going back to the shop.

The most scaryist time of the year

Well 2007 is on the way out. And as usual in Ireland, all things come to a halt for a while. Christmas is a scary time of the year because, usually, everything gets changed this week. This is probably the reason why resolutions are saved for this time of the year in this part of the world. You’ve just survived one week of changes intact. Why not make more…

For some people, this is a time of the year when they are handed responsibilities that they normally don’t look after. (Some even learned new skills this way). These people (of which I’m one) have their lives thrown a little off kilter for a while. And they have to consider what’s important and what needs to change.

For others everything comes to a stop. Work stops. The life of the office stops (and some people try to hide the evidence of what happened at the office party… ah flickr and facebook) and the news cycle slows. For them this comes as a chance to think. And they have to consider what’s important and what needs to change.

So the adverts change from “buy this” to “stop smoking” or “start a new hobby with this magazine” and of course “sale now on…” since the Christmas stock costs too much to store.

And so the resolutions begin. The “I’ll never rush in to a sale again” is heartfelt but unheeded within a week. So I’ll ignore that one.

Yup… resolutions.

What do I want to do or change? Trust me I’ve had a while to think about these things so…

1) Be master of my own domain…
I don’t mean tidy the house (but now that you mention it, the bathroom mirror does need to b put in the bathroom. I mean it’s time that and actually got used as something more than a redirect. Part of this is to do with changes that seem to be afoot. The “cork” in “cork-host” may need to change.
All advice gratefully accepted.

2) On your bike…
Personally, I need to get out more. I’ve used every excuse not to cycle this year. 2008 will see a saddle put under strain. Regularly. That and go back to Capoeira again. Things sort of stopped over December.

3) Learn (or relearn) a language…
I’ve always been more a OnLamppp man than an AJAX man. So I’m going to refresh and perfect my Perl, python and PHP. I do intend to get Ruby (and maybe rails) in my head. Sort of useful with a domain eh? Somehow I just know that Java will need something more formal than a commitment by me. Any pointer to classes or tutorials would be appreciated.

What, you assumed French? (Actually Portuguese would be useful for Capoeira but that’s another story.)

4) Take time to smell the roses…
Or actually plant them. Simply put, my garden is a mess. Actually that not true. I was careful. My garden is black. Black weed-proof plastic. I need to do some things. Lay a patio. Do “something” with a terrace. I genuinely don’t know what should happen out there. I do know I need the hardscaping finished. Help?

5) Give voice…
This is neither a resolution nor a commitment. But my attendance at PodCamp Ireland and the forthcoming Creative Camp gave me an idea… which I’ll post later.

I think that is enough. You can’t make yourself too many resolutions simply because putting too much pressure on yourself almost guarantees that you won’t do any.

Any resolutions or advice?

take care,
Will Knott

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Colliding with Irish VCs

Most of you know by now that the Limerick Open Coffee meeting had an interesting pair of visitors, namely Patrick Collison and John Collison of Auctomatic.

The talk was Livestreamed on by Conn Ó Muíneacháin and Bernie Goldbach has a podcast available.

I would comment about it, but I’m late to the party so I’ll let Aidanf Conor O’Neill and James Corbett do a much better job. Besides I’m mostly be repeating their comments), but right now you can see the potential value of the Paddy’s Valley tour. Remember that the pair left Limerick to go to the Valley in order to get things started.

On the other hand… there is Walter of Pixenate (who suspiciously suffered from a DOS attack after these comments, no connection I’m sure) commented on Twitter about the really weird offer being made by the Irish Venture Capital Association. On Thursday 27th September 2007 the IVCA training programme is ‘How to Raise Venture Capital’ developed in conjunction with the Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship. In otherwords, the IVCA is telling bright and talented Irish Startups how to get money off the IVCA. And is charging the people they might give money tois that circular logic or recursion?

I’m sure someone would be willing to comment and explain this to me?

take care,
Will Knott

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