Podcasting project; pt. 2

I have finally overcome one of the biggest obstacle facing the podcasting project so far. Hardware.
Up until now I’ve had trouble sourcing a good quality recording device that would allow an easy transfer to PC (without a loss of quality). Now, with thanks to the nice folks at iPod Linux I am going to use my iPod to do all the recording. A recent break through in hacking the iPod Photo with Linux has meant that high quality (up to 96Htz) recording is available without the need of a mic adaptor (which only records at 8Htz anyway).
As a complete Linux noob I had a few teething troubles, but nothing that could have been avoided were it not for the Linux communities assumption that all users are experienced users. Besides this everything ran smoothly and recordings seem to be working perfectly, I will be running a large amount of test runs first to ensure I have everything under control, though. Ironically I had to roll back the iPod firmware by one update in order to get Linux to work, meaning I’ve lost the podcast options!

Now, with the above in mind I will be moving quite quickly from around the 7th/8th of September (after a short break). I hope to get in contact with all interested parties over the next day or two and then blitz-interview once I return, so that all the base work is done by the 18th of September at the very latest. I’ll be travelling to the UK a few days after that and I hope, once settled, I can start to churn out the fully-produced shows with the first “airing” being in early October. The website will be complete soon, hopefully.

Once again I’m still looking for interviewee’s and ideas, suggestions on a show title and anything else you have to offer, including a plug or two if you’d be so kind!

Google Talk and the Irish Times

Planet Potato and Back Seat Drivers have both given their reaction to the front page story on The Irish Times in relation to the new Google Talk service.
It seems as though The Times got some facts wrong, stating that the service allows you to make free telephone calls across the world (which it doesn’t, just IM to IM calls), that it is only available in the USA and all you need is a mobile phone to get an account. The reality is that the service is global, but you need a Gmail account to sign up. The Irish Times made their mistake by misinterpreting Googles new offer, which allows any US resident with a mobile phone to get a Gmail invite, which will lead to a Google Talk account. Of course, if you have a Gmail account already you’ll know that there are plenty of invites available without the need for a mobile phone.

In relation to the service itself, it seems as though Google has made a pretty calm entrance, with a heavy focus on voice chat; something that the bigger IM clients (MSN, Yahoo! etc.) aren’t as bothered with. It would not surprise me though if Google come out with some amazing new feature in the coming weeks which integrates tonnes of their other services together to create something amazing. As it stands, MSN has integrated its websearch into its IM client, but Google has not.
We shall watch and wait.

Blogging from MS Word

A new and extremely handy app for Microsoft Word means that I’m actually typing and publishing this from the Word Processor rather than the blogger.com webpage.
Now I have no excuses for bad spelling or punctuation but that doesn’t mean such errors won’t continue.
Get the download at the blogger.com buzzblog and get typing!

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Shooting controversy

Probably the most contentious issue to have arisen from the London bombings so far has been the ‘shoot to kill’ policy adopted by the London police in response to the attacks. Just over 2 weeks after the multiple bombings this policy was enacted when a Brazilian man was shot 5 times in the head as he attempted to board a tube.
I blogged about it just after the fact, and since then information has come to light that put initial reports into doubt, and often complete dismissal.
Now ITV has gotten its hands on early findings from a police report into the incident which states that the man was 1) Wearing a denim and not padded jacket, 2) was walking normally 3) did not vault the turnstyles 4) only began to run when he saw a train stopped at the station and 5) was held down by a security officer while another shot him 5 times. It seems that the horrible events all began when a policeman monitoring the victims block of flats (where a suspect for the failed attacks a day previous lived) left his station to ‘relieve’ himself. It is entierly possible that this simple mistake led to mass confusion within the police force which has led to this fatal level of incompetence.
Why didn’t the camera have 2 officers rather than 1? It’s a simple question. I’m sure forces were stretched after the failed attacks but if police are monitoring a suspect you’d think they could afford an extra officer.

It is likely that this will be forgotten about. No politician will step down, that’s for sure. The shoot to kill policy will probably be kept for now as it will be for ‘the greater good’. There is almost certainly going to be a lawsuit and some kind of compensation will be given to the victims families, after all the police gunned down an innocent man as a result of their own incompetence and for no other reason.

If this will mean that people are extremely nervous of their actions in regular situations from now on is yet to be seen, if this will lead to the police being extremely nervous when dealing with a potentially dangerous situation (for fear of getting it wrong) is also a possibility.

Podcasting project; pt. 1

I’ve spent the last number of weeks working on the foundations for an upcoming podcasting project, and now I’m moving it into its next stage.
The basic premise of the show is this; Irish media professionals talk about the ins and outs of their jobs, the experiences they have had in them and the tips they offer to newcomers. The idea is that each episode will cover a different aspect of the Irish media, be it journalist, radio presenter, PR agent, Camera man, producer or editor. From each show listeners will be able to gain a better understanding of the job, prospective media students will learn a few important rules of their chosen career and job hunters will get a helpful push in the right direction. This is more than a ‘beginners guide’ though, and I hope it will cover more than the basics of each field.
As it stands the project is still in its infancy. A number of people have contacted me expressing an interest in the idea and I have begun to contact a number of people I feel will create an interest. I have not decided on a limit to the amount of shows (although a minimum of six would be a nice start), nor have I placed a show length; the beauty of podcasting at work.

What I would like is for your help. At the moment I am looking for people interested in being interviewed for the show. If you work in the media and are interested in the above idea, please e-mail at the address on the right (removing the appropriate text, of course!). It doesn’t matter what your job is, once it’s in the media. It also doesn’t matter if I get five people doing the same job, diversity on one subject will add depth to each topic.
I am also looking for ideas for the name of the show. I have one or two in mind, but would like some outside assistance too. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions.

If anyone has any other ideas, suggestions, comments or whatever; please leave it on the comments page or even e-mail me. I hope to start work on a website for the project towards the middle-end of the week, and have the bones of it live by next week. I also hope to begin recording interviews over the next month, with the first due to be recorded on Friday coming.
As my schedule gets pretty hectic towards the end of September I hope to have most if not all of it complete by then, at which point I will upload the first part.

Thank you all for any help you can provide or any suggestions you make. I am really keen to make a show that is as enjoyable as it is interesting or at least fail in style!

Finally, I would like to point out that I will be constantly reporting back to this blog on the progress of the project, so keep an eye out to see how things are going.

Apple to make a bold Dell move?

The last two years have seen Apple computers rise in popularity once more. The ever improving style and performance of these machines has taken them away from the hardcore into the mainstream, and the so called Halo effect from the iPod has given the once nerdy system a vast and young audience with plenty of disposable income.
The mac mini was the first big step to sweep up as many borderline PC users as possible with the argument of price being taken out of the equation and replaced with awe at the sleek, tiny and powerful little beast.
Some would argue that the switch from IBM to Intel chipsets (along with the push Apple are giving the graphical capabilites of their machines) is another step towards the mainstream but rumour has it there is another big move coming soon that will be a definitive shove forward for the currently niché machine.
I have been told that Dell, the PC giants are due to stock Mac machines once the Intel switch is complete (2006/07 I believe). I’m not sure if such a rumour has been passed around already, but my source heard it straight from the horses mouth.
Such a move isn’t quite as unlikely as it seems. While Dell are self-sufficient when it comes to their machinery, perhaps they see a nice little earner on the side. The agreement would also help Mac, pushing their product forward to the public as well as giving it the huge network of supply that Dell currently maintains. It is also unlikely that Mac computers would be too much of a threat to Dell computers as no matter how popular they become it will be a long time until they offer what the average Dell user would like (games machines or simple home computers).
I would imagine that there will be no stocking of Macs for Business’ if the deal is a reality though, as this could be potentially damaging to Dell’s operations.

It’s an interesting rumour, and one that we will have to sit on for now. I wouldn’t be too surprised if it is made official at Mac Expo in September (assuming it is to be believed). Jobs will be giving more details on the Intel switch and there is always a huge surprise at the event. Put that with the fact that the information seems to be common knowledge amongst Dell workers, I’d say this is beyond early planning stages.

Please do comment, I’d be interested to see what people think about the idea, it’s probability and workability. I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen, but it would be a big move for both companies to make.

Why don’t we get this?

The Daily Show, the last stance for satire in America, has long been heralded as one of the great comedy shows of our time. It does, however have the unique status (along with The Chappelle Show) of being one of the best American comedies and yet generally unavailable on European TV.
It’s a shame, but I can see the logic. Both shows, The Daily Show especially, are dedicated to American cultures and fads. They both feature satire of American current affairs and marketing and they both refer to things that most Europeans wouldn’t be able to relate to. Saying that, a show like The Daily Show covers international stories a lot, and by international I mean American.
Here John Stewart gives a slick one-two to the likes of Bill O’Reilly; as a matter of fact he references an article that I spoke about some weeks ago. He does it with more style, wit and impact but that’s hardly the point.

We need this show in Ireland, even just at midnight on TV3. Either that or we need our own version*.

* A little known fact is that Xit-File (and Xit-Poll), the ill-fated current affairs satire that ran on RTE for a short while was infact an Irish port of The Daily Show but one that lacked the over all talent needed to carry such a genre. Colin Murphy was good, the rest were terrible. BBC are due to launch their own port of the same in the coming months, apparently.

Mozilla launch ‘for profit’ subsidary

The Mozilla Foundation has today announced the creation of a ‘for profit’ subsidary, The Mozilla Corporation.
As Mozilla has prided itself on its Open Source philosophy and non-profit structure this is a pretty interesting move, and one that is sure to cause great debate across the Open Source community.
As it stands, the purpose of the new corporation is not completely known. According to the website the new wing will make money which will then be pumped back into software development. How it will make this money remains unclear. They promise that Firefox and Thunderbird will remain free but the software will be distributed under the new subsidary. There is no mention of how the corporation plans to make profit from free software.
There is the possibility of a two-tiered software package, such as a basic and professional release. There is also the possibility that the company will charge for customer support networks or even launch new products with a price tag.
It’s hard to begrudge something so wonderful a profit, but when a company is built up on a non-profit structure it is hard to see how this move will not have a negative effect on its users.
The reaction amongst Open Source advocates shall be an interesting one.

Microsoft on the back foot

It seems as though Microsoft are increasingly falling behind in the technology race.
Most people would still tie the word ‘Microsoft’ together with the word ‘Computer’, but increasingly websmart users are beginning to migrate to new software (and hardware) that is threatening to break that link.
Firefox is one of the most famous example of this. For years Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the only way for a web user to browse the Internet, or at least it seemed that way. The fact that it was pre-installed on any Windows-based computer meant that it was the starting point for surfing. Couple that with the fact that other browsers cost money (or else were too hard to find and install) meant that only the hardcore Microsoft-hater would take the time to hunt them down, and what would they be doing on a Windows PC anyway?! Firefox was different because it was free, easy to use and full of great features. People who were sick of spyware attacks and constant pop-ups were told to “Get Firefox” and the wonders of viral marketing meant that the target community got to know the perks of switching within months.
But besides browsers, where else is Microsofts kingdom under attack? Well Open Source technology has opened the floodgates, with pretty much any piece of Microsoft software having a free alternative online. Some aren’t user friendly and some are unstable but they still present choice to users, something that has been lacking in the computer world for too long.
Windows Media Player is also being pushed to once side as iPod users start to switch to iTunes for their music needs. The recent ruling by the EU that Microsoft must offer a version of Windows without its media player hasn’t helped things at all.
There are, however more established companies that are threatening this giant. Google has always been a king of innovation and now more than ever it is slapping Microsoft right were it hurts. The creation of Gmail, with its 1GB storage capacity led to a mass exodus from Hotmail and Yahoo. The fact that it technically still isn’t open to the public helps to add salt to their wounds. Hotmail, owned by Microsoft, has now been forced to follow suit and up its capacity from the rediculous 4MB to a more respectable 250MB. A generous 2GB option was put forward to paying customers, something that now looks equally rediculous in light of Gmails recent 1 year old celebration and subsequent increase to ‘infinate’ storage. It should be pointed out, though that 250MB is a more than adequate size for an average free e-mail account. MSN Search still trails behind Google Search by miles, and a quick look in MSN’s Sandbox will reveal just how far behind they are lagging in other ventures. Start is an MSN take on the Google personalised homepage idea, and MSN Virtual Earth is a poor cousin to Google’s intergrated and polished Google Maps. The MSN atlas has also come under criticism for showing Apple headquarters as an empty parking lot and also featuring the Twin Towers of New York, meaning the photographs are at least 4 years old.
Other established names in computer technology are also making moves. Since interest in Apple has skyrocketed in tandem with iPod sales, the company has been given the chance to a few swipes back at their long-time rival and better (sales-wise, anyway). The recently launched Mac Mini offered customers a compact, powerful and cheap alternative to the PC. Not only did it possess the standard Mac good looks, it also put an end to customer excuses that Apple computers were too expensive. The fact that it’s smaller than most PC’s didn’t hurt its sales too much either.
By the looks of things it won’t be long until the actual OS is the only stronghold left for Microsoft. While Linux poses a minor threat it’s widely accepted that the software is far too technical for your average user. While it may have its flaws there is no denying just how user friendly the Windows platform is. Then again, selling the Windows OS is where the money is.
Be it Open Source technology, software or hardware rivals, it increasingly seems as though the giant of Microsoft is taking a nap giving a few advantageous birds the chance to take some easy shots. Let’s not get carried away with the idea that Microsoft is on its deathbed though, far from it. It does, however, need to get back on the ball if it wishes to remain at the fore of technological advances in the future, rather than constantly playing catch up. As things stand Vista, and all that comes with it will need to be more of a leap forward than an attempt to get level again.