Friday, July 31, 2009

Cool Tool: Audacity

Hey all, just wanted to share a Cool Tool that I found a while ago called Audacity. I first heard about this program through CTEP at one of our corps days and was instantly intrigued. It's a free, open source piece of software that allows you to record, mix and alter sound files. It's also fairly easy to use and can create .wav and .mp3 files with ease.

At first I thought that I could only use Audacity to alter music that I had downloaded on my computer or files that I recorded with a mike. This was fine, as it allowed me to have fun adding comments to audio files or switching songs into different keys. It's also been a great tool at work for my Kids' Computer Club, modifying the tykes voices so they sound like adults or letting them change their favorite songs into slow-mo or chipmunk speed. You can also do more practical things like remove noise from recorded audio or change the tempo of a file so that it will fit better along with a presentation that you've been working on.

Today, however, I came across the following video tutorial that tells you how to use Audacity to record streaming audio without relying on a mike and external speakers, thereby preserving the original sound quality. This is huge for me, as I only have 2 microphones at work (counting my laptop's internal mike) and finding audio files on which I can have the kids experiment has been a struggle. Now I can just have them look up a song on YouTube and record it directly into Audacity!

Here's the tutorial; it will also tell you how to install Audacity and get the additional program that it requires to save its files into readable ones.

And here's another useful set of tutorials that I managed to find.

*Second Edit*
At least for me there were some technical problems with getting Audacity to record streaming audio files (stupid Vista!). To fix this, go to this link and follow the directions. You'll have to switch recording apparati using the Edit-> Preferences in Audacity, but it shouldn't be too much of a bother. Also, make sure that your computer's sound is turned up when you record, as it affects how loud your Audacity recording is (though you can alter the input amplification from your recording device in Audacity/alter the amplification after the fact as well).

I hope that this was useful; I'll try and do more posts about useful free tools that I've found in the future. Until next time...

"We often feel sad in the presence of music without words; and often more than that in the presence of music without music."
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teching, among other things

The past week was fairly busy. As mentioned before, I had tech for Panda Sandwich and WTF in the Garden of Eden. The shows went very well, especially on the last night, and I think everyone had a good time.

The tech booth was pretty awesome as I had to climb a ladder to get to it and it was open air, so if something sounded to loud or soft I could hear it right away and adjust on the playlist.

The first night they had a lot of bands around to get more people to come, including one band that really blew me away. They are called Bad September and sing Victorian-influenced songs while dressed in period gear. They're also led by John Heimbach, who runs Walking Shadow Theatre Company. I think my favorite was about a duel between Tesla and Edison, though the one where the chorus is a recitation of chess moves was pretty spiffy too.

I also helped filming a PSA for the Electronic Waste project that I've been working on. It was really interesting to see all of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, as well as the sheer amount of equipment and time that you need to film a short minute long PSA... not to mention cut it down to size! I'll post the PSA after it's all finished... but for now we have pictures a plenty.

Yay first video post!

Until next time...

"It is a fairy play. There isn't a thing in it which could ever happen in real life. That is as it should be. It is consistently beautiful, sweet, clean, fascinating, satisfying, charming, and impossible from beginning to end. It breaks all the rules of life drama, but preserves intact all the rules of fairyland, and the result is altogether contenting to the spirit. The longing of my heart is a fairy portrait of myself: I want to be pretty; I want to eliminate facts and fill up the gap with charms."
- Interview with Mark Twain on Peter Pan in Seattle Star, Nov. 30, 1905, p. 8

Monday, July 20, 2009

Too many things!

The above is a picture of SKROLBORG- the Viking Art of the Axe. See bottom of post for the show it is from. And COME!

Last week my dad and bro drove up from New York on motorcycles to hang out with me. It was definitely a ton of fun. As Rachel put it, "I have never eaten so well in my life!" Mostly because we decided that an extended gastro tour was the best way to show my fam around the Cities. Very strangely they appeared for the exact same time as we had the coldest days of July on record... heck, a lot of the pics around Lake Calhoun looked like it was winter out.

Awesome things we did included:
-visited many bars including the Muddy Pig
-went to the Science museum and saw Harry Potter (mini-review: very good. Hilarious, suspenseful and badass at all the correct points. Go see it.)
-went to the Tour de Fat, a bike and beer themed festival put on by Fat Tire
-saw a great Blues band at Famous Dave's
-not only convinced Siegi that Minneapolis exists, but that it is a great place to live (woohoo veggie restaurants and Green Way!)

Troubling things in my life include grad school hunting, GRE studying and making sure that I get all of my hours in for Americorps. Grad school hunting is proving to be scarier than when I last tried it, as now I'm trying to find schools that have both Physics Education and Physics courses, as I'm not sure which would help me out more right now. That question makes it all the scarier, as I'm actually at the point where I need to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life, a question that I have avoided for nigh on 23 years. But that could (and will) probably be a post of its own... For Americorps I need to do approximately 15 more hours per week than I normally do to get everything done in time (took one too many vacations I think...). I think I have enough work that I could do to get it all done, but it means giving up every day except maybe Sunday to work to get it all done on time. And the GRE sits there, mocking me and my lack of time.

I'm also currently involved with Panda Sandwich and WTF In the Garden of Eden. This relapse into doing tech is devouring my life, so come and see it on Wednesday through Saturday, doors open at 7 and show at 7:30. Is at Bedlam Theatre. Be there.

p.s. And yes mom, I am able to do tech and do all my other stuff as well. It just means I have no free time. *sigh*

Until next time...

"Suicide is the only sane thing the young or old ever do in this life."
- quoted in Mark Twain: God' s Fool, Hamlin Hill

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

So, happy 4th of July (which it apparently is). Sheesh... I've been gone for a while, mostly because I was using making a video of Siegi's grad as a way of not posting for a while. So, some interesting things have happened in the interim:

- Summer schedule at Skyline has started, which means that I am teaching more classes per day but have an assistant to help me with it. Hopefully I will be teaching kids to use GIMP and make blogs, so you might actually see the fruits of some of that labor. Also, I am teaching Math, Science, Reading, Writing and History to middle aged Somali women in hopes that they will earn their GED. Yay teaching high school!

- I went home and surprised the house with Rachel at 2 in the morning. We had a lovely wine tour, looked at Cornell, and hung out with the fam. Also, the UP is lovely this time of year.

- Played lots of Warhammer and have been (hopefully successfully, though very unfortunately intermittently) running my Changeling campaign, which is about to culminate in the last session of the first chapter.

- Started studying for the GRE again as well as researching grad schools. It's starting to get real...

- Went to the Summer MN Beer Fest and got very drunk off of many delicious beers on a perfectly cloudless day. I'll hopefully post my findings on the blog before long.

- Got the swine flu, which I am just now getting over. It's a blast of a disease, let me tell you. Not 100% sure it was the actual swine flu, but did have flu-like symptoms for a while.

And tonight we have a 4th of July BBQ, though the weather is looking tres awful. So, we'll see how that goes. Anyway, happy 4th, and hopefully I'll be posting more regularly from now on.

Until next time...

"The quality of independence was almost wholly left out of the human race. The scattering exceptions to the rule only emphasize it, light it up, make it glare."
- Mark Twain's Autobiography