Smoke from Burns Bog fire

Sun obscured by smoke from the Burns Bog fire. Burns Bog is a large ecologically sensitive area. True to its name, it is also highly flammable and thanks to a considerable depth of peat moss, a fire that gets started there can burn for weeks. There has been a huge conflagration there in the last few days. We are just a few miles from it, but fortunately the winds have mostly kept the smoke away. On this morning though, last Tuesday, the smoke settled in during the still morning air, leading to this view of the sunrise. Beautiful, sad and distrubing at the same time.


Adventures in Podcasting

I am a volunteer audio engineer for IT Conversations, a popular podcasting site that (among other things) makes available presentations from conferences like the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, BlogHer, Pop!Tech and MeshForum.

What does it mean to be an audio engineer? It means that I get the original audio recordings, edit them in various ways, add all the audio chrome at the beginning and end, and encode them to podcast and archival formats. It's all good fun and a weirdly relaxing hobby.

But I'm also a software guy and once I'd done a few shows I couldn't resist the urge to create some tools to make the whole process easier and to achieve consistently high quality. I'll be writing about them in subsequent entries in this blog. I hope to help the whole podcasting community by making these tools available for free. You can find them on my Web site which is a PostNuke horror story at the moment. But that is a discussion for another day.

One of the great things about working with Doug Kaye (the founder of IT Conversations) is his high standards for the shows. Both the audio quality and the substance of the presentations are top-notch, which is why ITC is so highly regarded. Editing each show is a unique adventure. My personal goal is to make the final podcast a better experience than being there live. Well, at least in the sense that the coughs and sneezes are gone, the dead air while waiting for PowerPoint to come to life is trimmed, and the questions can actually be heard. When you start on a show you never know what you are going to run into. I'll be sharing some of these stories too.

It is intriguing to watch the podcast phenomonen develop. I live in Vancouver and walk by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on the way to work every day. They are on strike now and as I see the picketers I can't help but think that whatever battle they are fighting now, it's going to be a completely different discussion soon. I used to be a big fan of the CBC. Now I walk past their big grey building with my MP3 player, the size of a pack of gum, plugged in and listening not to the radio but to a collection of really interesting podcasts hand-picked by me to suit my tastes and interests. I haven't tuned in to the CBC for ... months?