Boston Media Makers Meeting, January 6, 2008

Today I attended another i3 (interesting, inspiring, and informative) meeting of Boston Media Makers on a gorgeous sunny Sunday morning at Sweet Finnish Cafe in Jamaica Plain. Here are my notes. I’ve not included everyones three minute update and/or show-and-tell, lack of mention should not be construed in any way as lack of interest or relevance, I simply could not record everything.


Steve Garfield demonstrated broadcasting web video streaming from his Nokia N95 phone using Qik, which is pretty cool, you can have your own page on Qik and make the videos available on your page. Full disclosure: the N95 phone was provided to Steve by Nokia and he used a trial mobile phone account provided by AT&T. Does it matter whether we are demonstrating something given to us for promotional purposes vs. something we bought? I think in the future everyone will become an extension of a corporate marketing program for fifteen minutes (with apologies to Andy Warhol), if marketing became a more organic process it could be a good thing.

duet interface

Apogee Duet Audio Interface

Nate Aune is with Jazkarta, a company delivering open source solutions for building web-based video community services branded for your own organization that can pull in video from YouTube and For show and tell he showed us the Duet audio interface from Apogee, it’s a really cool FireWire audio interface with several inputs and outputs. He looks forward to using it to record performances as well as interviews in the field with his laptop. A visit to the Apogee site reveals these details: the Duet provides both inputs (2 channels of 24-bit/96kHz audio via balanced XLR inputs with selectable 48V phantom power and 2 unbalanced high impedance instrument inputs) and output (1 stereo headphone output and 2 unbalanced -10 dBV line outputs) and sports a cool multi-function controller knob for volume and input gain. It interfaces to your computer via FireWire 400 and is compatible with any Core Audio-compliant audio application and control functions are built directly into Apple’s Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro and GarageBand. It comes bundled with Apogee’s Maestro software for control and low latency mixing.


Audio Technica ATM 10A

Nate asked, “I’m looking for a high quality microphone to record interviews,” I suggested for starters, the small mics from Giant Squid Audio Lab are worth taking a look at. Adam pulled out his Audio Technica ATM 10A, a condenser microphone available for about $100 which he uses for interviews. According to the Audio-Technica site, the ATM 10A has been replaced by the AT8010, which looks like pretty much the same, an omnidirectional condenser microphone idea for interviews with a very smooth response on- or off-axis. It runs either on battery or phantom power.


Electro-Voice RE50

My note: For hand-held field interviewing I prefer (and thus I own) the Electro-Voice RE50 omnidirectional dynamic “reporters” microphone. It is very rugged and has excellent acoustic isolation between the mic capsule and exterior case so you don’t hear the handling noise when you hand it from one person to another. It’s not as sensitive as a condenser microphone, but I’ve never found that to be a problem using it with the audio recorders, cameras, and mixers I use in my work. Both the AT and EV are excellent mics, one thing to consider is that microphones, like speakers, are a highly subjective purchase.

Adam Weiss is now using the moniker, Digital Media Strategist, and it fits him well. He does podcasts and other new media stuff, including the award-winning podcasts for the Museum of Science, and also does The Puzzle Podcast and Boston Behind the Scenes. Adam’s show and tell this month was the Circa Notebook System which he first got as a free starter kit while visiting the Levenger store in the Prudential Center. This is old analog technology designed to work like we do, Adam carries four of five notebooks, etc. looks like a spiral bound notebook, but all of the pages come out and go back in wherever you want, you can carry one notebook, take pages out and put it in the right notebook, various kids of paper are available, and you can buy a punch and make your own paper. The levenger version of this notebook is the highest quality, alternative version sold at Staples is cheap and does not work as well.

My note: if you like the Circa notebooks, check out D*I*Y Planner , a community of people who are into paper as a medium for planning, productivity, and more. They share advice and inspiration and are home of the free kits .

John Coyne is on hiatus from the social media company company he was working for and is doing freelance shooting and editing. He had a question about a site Steve and I mentioned for “instant web sites” it is Jottit which I blogged about a while back saying that Jottit is to web tools what haiku is to poetry

Gabriel Mugar, who treaches television production at Madison Park High School, is working on Press Pass TV, civic minded citizen journalism, they are looking for adults who are interested in working with youth on creation of content on a volunteer basis. They want to build a freelance network of adults that can help cover stories. Their high school program starts in February. Press Pass TV is related to Citizen Schools, which operates a national network of apprenticeship programs for middle school students, connecting adult volunteers to young people in hands-on learning projects after school.


Tom Beach of TRB Design has been reading Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail, his blog entries on his new book about how commodies all go to zero is really interesting to him.

I was a panelist at the recent Web Video Summit held in New York on December 10-11, 2007 and there I met many interesting people involved with start-ups in the web video space, two that stood out for me that might be of interest to this group are Kaltura (a collaborative media start-up self-described as YouTube meets Wikipedia) and Bid4Vid (a way of linking people who need media with people who make media). Two recent blog posts are related to this: “Kaltura: Wiki meets YouTube by way of Yochai Benkler” and “Linking those who make media with those who need media.” I also interviewed Shay David, Co-Founder and CTO of Kaltura in Episode #24 of Art Film Talk.

I also spoke about bandwidth checking feature of the JW Flash Player. Version 3.10 of the player introduced a new bandwidth checking feature for video. Using two simple flashvars, the players can determine a site visitor’s bandwidth and automatically switch to the file with the appropriate bitrate. While my home connection typically clocks in around 2,300 kbps, I’ve been in some internet cafes where the bandwidth is more like 350 kbps. In fact today at Sweet Finnish it was about 150 kbps with so many people at this meeting hitting the net. With this feature you can show different sized movies based on the visitor’s bandwidth, improving the overall experience of video viewing on your site if you use a custom Flash player.

Paul Day is producing a right wing christian satire in the form of a weekly radio show and he’s intersted in hearing ideas of how to make it look and sound better.

Graham English is a blogging musician who is immersed in the social web, his current project is to compose a song a week for 2008. In the near future he’ll post his Music 2.0 manifesto on his blog. Stay tuned.

Rick Burns is doing a site called they bubble up cool content created locally on a neighborhood level, they are currently covering Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, and Brookline. They and the community bubble up and highlight the best stuff. You can add your feed and they will filter it. As a user of the site you can recommend stuff like on dig.


Jeff Glasson does a podcast, diecastAUDIO for diecast model enthusiasts, , why audio for a visual hobby? He was a radio DJ in college, podcast was the natual evolution for him. He currently has a single chip Sony camera, wavering between a three chip camera or high definition, or….


John Herman really likes spaces, it’s the selling point for him as far as Mac OS X Leopard goes. He produced a stage show, Atoms, Motion, and the Void, which closes tonight (it’s playing in Portsmouth at the Payers Ring Theater). You can listen to the play at John also produces improv comedy, the troupe is called Stranger than Fiction , he’ll be doing a show on Tuesday, January 19th 7:30pm on Mogulus, the link is:

My note: Atoms, Motion, and the Void is a one man show in the tradition of old time radio shows with Sherwin Sleeves, the 79 year-old alter ego of 39 year-old stay-at-home dad Sean Hurley from Lemon, New Hampshire. The podcast that the play is based on won a “best of New Hampshire” podcast award. My wife Alice and I went up to Portsmouth to see the show on opening night and in one word, amazing. We really liked it.

Jared Spool runs User Interface Engineering, a user interface engineering think tank, he works with large company clients, they produce podcasts and webinars on various topics related to design and development, right now they have five positions to hire, a live events person, an editorial assistant (print and email production), a product manager for webinars, an intern web design, and a CSS guru contractor. Jared is looking for someone who has gotten rid of all the tables in their house. He also has a blog called brainsparks. He’s warning clients that social media spending is on the rise, are you ready to deal with this?

Jesse Baer is a self-proclaimed tritter fiend (misc on twitter), he says that he’s “not made much media to speak of,” but people try to get him to come to to Boston Media Makers, now that he’s got a camera and a Mac, he’s “ready to make ghetto media,” his day job is working at digital natives project at Harvard Berkman Center as an intern, studying how kids use the internet.

John Wall (The M Show, Ronin Marketeer , and Marketing over Coffee) does marketing for software companies, lots of digital media, podcasting, blogs, wants to check out what people are doing, they just got their first Mac in house, and John says it “has ruined his life,” since he used to come in the morning and start the PC booting and go get coffee, and now “he’s all ready to work” in the morning.

My note: I’ve noticed this winter, more than ever before, many people I know who have been long time Windows users have gotten new Macs instead of a new Windows machine. It’s nice to see after years of marginalization that the Mac is making truly serious inroads among creative professionals. In my circle of friends I count two marketing professionals and three media makers who have bought Macs this winter. Could this be the turning point? Has the gap finally widened enough between the complex and horrible Vista experience and the simple and elegant Macintosh experience to encourage people to switch?

Andrea Mercado is the blog co-manager of PLA Blog, the official blog of the Public Library Association, her show and tell was her new Xotic PC laptop, it’s light, white and sassy, has a camera, they offer custom skins, she’s really happy with it (of course she’s running Windows XP, not the disaster known as Windows Vista).

Amy Carpenter is a blogger, artist, who paints, draws, and makes videos. She was one of the earliest attendees of Boston Media Makers and found it inspiring, she was back to see what’s happening. She’s got a new drawing project, She’s Drawing, you should check it out. Her work is typically mixed media, with more oil around the corner.

Thinkspotting is a new competitive mini-blogging for ideas, a way to get ideas out there and do it as an organized forum, they do a podcast every two and a half weeks. The competitive aspects of the site include giving top users the ability to show their adsense ads on the idea. A similar site, half-bakery, is, in comparison, less unorganized and messier.

OK, that’s it for this month. Sorry for leaving some folks out, I could only type so much this month. The meeting of Boston Media Makers at Sweet Finnish Cafe in Jamaica Plain is the place for media makers to hang out and share knowledge and news with each other the first Sunday of every month stating at 10am.


  1. says

    David, thanks for the awesome write up. I feel like I was there. One of these Sundays I will make it there. Luckily, my boss Jared did make it, so I’ll get more recap tomorrow morning! Sunday mornings are just a tough time for me to function! My geek is usually in sleep mode then!

  2. says

    For those with podcasts they want to edit and control the file sizes, I got the fix, In the meeting, Adam pointed me well. I played with both WavePad and Audacity to find good settings.

    I had started with BlogTalkRadio MP3 file, at about 14MB per hour. Edited in Audacity or WavePad, 7 to 13 minute segments bloated to 12MB or more each. I want smaller for disk space and for our few dial-up listeners.

    Adam suggested playing with settings, making sure the file was mono, and cutting down the bit rate. Combinations ended up working. I have a 12-minute segment that went from13MB to 3MB. For speech, the quality is fine.

    In WavePad, the procedure is pretty simple. In File->WavePad Options, choose the radio button for When creating a new file: Prompt for Sample Rate and Channels. Also, for an existing file, File->Save As opens a dialog with Format and Attribute pull-downs.

    Audacity make it a bit harder. You have to open or create a file and go to a couple of tabs in the File->Preferences dialog. There are a series of pull-downs in Quality and File Formats that do the trick. I played with several to find my optimum.

    Because I have so many old podcasts to edit, I’ll cough up for the paid versions of WavePad and its utilities. There’s lots of conversion capability in the “Master” version and two add-ons.

    Thanks, Adam.

  3. says

    The most exciting features of the Apogee Duet weren’t mentioned.
    The biggest thing about it honestly is that it’s a high quality, portable and bus-powered firewire interface from Apogee. There are plenty of 2-channel interfaces out there, but Apogee’s sonic quality is generally very high which makes this a stellar deal.
    The Maestro software is ported from their development on the Apogee Ensemble, which is the big brother to this interface, which features 8i/o, plus preamps.
    The integration with Apple’s Logic is what really makes this exciting, although it works just fine with other products as well. Apogee has had high quality interfaces for years, and they really support them well. The portability and bus-powered nature of this one really makes it a winner (even moreso considering that it has two channels of phantom power for condenser mics).

    It was good to see you there!