Late in 2014 my webspace was hacked for the first time. I had several copies of WordPress on it running different websites, some of which were no longer in use.
A very ordinary attack wormed its way into my files and infected all the WordPress websites. This meant that my webspace provider was unhappy with me until I had removed all the files from their server.
Apart from the websites there were also a number of projects I had set up over the years – almost none of which were in a usable state.
Now I have re-started a few of the sites, some of the historical graphics etc. are broken or missing – which is annoying but at least most of the content is back online now.
The moral of the story
Obvious, really – I now use the WordFence security plugin on all my WordPress sites. I can’t imagine why I didn’t before.
In an unconnected issue, one of my sites was receiving constant denial of service brute force attacks via its log-in page. I stopped these instantly by using a free WordPress plugin which changes the url of the log-in page. Now the hackers don’t know where to find it.
I’m just back from recording a ’round-table’ style podcast episode for the first time with 4 microphones.
Here are just a few observations I want to log for future consideration:
It was good to have the differently colour-coded microphone wind shields but I should have put sticky tape of the same colours on the mixer – I placed the microphones in the wrong order and so twiddled the gain and level of the wrong one for a bit until I realised (doh!)
It would be best to have all microphones the same make and model – I had 3 Samson Q2Us and 1 Shure SM58 – as you’d imagine, they needed rather different amounts of gain etc.
It’s best to try and tweak the gain for the speaker who’s speaking at the time and reduce the gain of the others – I got used to this as I went and it improved the overall sound
Getting people to speak towards the microphone is difficult – and it’s even more difficult to get people to avoid bumping the desk when they get animated
Laughter peaks the levels and there’s not much you can do about it with a minimal set up – even though on the recording it’s not as ear-shattering as I expected
In this kind of setting, it’s not really possible to set the levels, gain etc. and just leave it
Sharing microphones does work – as long as you are prepared to tweak the gain etc. as you go
Remember to take some kind of Swiss Army Knife or toolkit with you – I didn’t and one of the microphone stands drooped so I couldn’t place it properly in the optimal sound position
Monitor the sound via the digital recorder – not the headphones jack on the mixer – the sound can be very different – I changed to monitoring the sound like this half way through to find I needed to mix the microphones differently for the best sound
I was delighted this week to find out about the new group for UK Podcasters which has been set up by the inspirational Mike Russell and Izabela Russell from Music Radio Creative. If you don’t know their amazing audio branding work, then you should – or actually you probably already do without realising it.
I often say to my family when we are in the car listening to the radio or watching TV at home, “Hey – I know that voice, it’s Mike! ” In fact I’m getting rather good at recognising their top quality audio productions which don’t feature their voices as well.
Anyway, Mike and Izabela have taken the plunge and set up what promises to be a vibrant and exciting group for those of us who are passionate about podcasting but can’t generally join in (in person) with our US friends (where podcasting is huge).
One of the most positive activities I think this new group will enable is podcasting meet-ups. The first is in London on 29th March 2014 – why not come along? Tickets are available. I have long been jealous of the ‘podcamps’ which take place regularly over the pond and I can’t wait to meet other UK Podcasters.
Maybe I can arrange a meet-up in the Midlands – where would you like to see a face-to-face event taking place?
I thought you might like to take a look at my podcast workflow for the Pivotal Podcast which I release once a week. (Not the image on the left, it’s the presentation below…)
Feel free to tell me where your workflow differs in the comments below – and if you think I’m wasting my own time in inefficient practices, of course!
The main time-consumer is the cleaning of the audio (which I know I don’t really have to do but I like it as crisp as possible).
I produce this podcast for clients and so I try to do as much of the process as possible myself so they only have to turn up for the recording (virtually) and do whatever preparation they want to. I end up on Skype with the client for about 45mins a week and sometimes a bit less than that.
The content in this presentation is a bit wordy so you’ll probably want to expand it to full screen using the button on the bottom right hand side.
We now use zoom.us instead of Skype. Zoom is a new, cloud-based competitor to Skype which has been reliable for us, so far. Also, I now use Audition to do the noise gate editing rather than manually doing it in Audacity which saves about an hour of fiddling. I don’t do the show notes at the same time as the editing now – I concentrate on getting the mp3 file sorted and up to Libsyn and then do the show notes separately, listening to the recording at double speed. Finally, I now use Audition to convert to mp3 which is lovely and quick. Apart from that lot (!) it’s the same.
I’ve heard the fantastic work that Mike Russell does over at Music Radio Creative. They are the top professionals when it comes to jingles, drops, bumpers, trailers or whatever else you can think of to ‘audio brand’ your podcast. The prices are very reasonable and I’d recommend the service to anyone, based on what many people have said to me.
However, as a die-hard DIY enthusiast, I thought I’d have a go myself. While my efforts don’t come anywhere near the above service, I am quite pleased with my efforts – and I have certainly learned a great deal.
I just used clips from the first few episodes of the Pivotal Podcast and Audacity to produce the audio version of the trailer:
However, I used the marvellous Stupeflix to produce the video version. You can create one, free HD video before you pay for the service. I just uploaded a few images and the sound clip and this is what it produced for me automagically:
I’m quite pleased.
I think next time I do a trailer I’ll push the boundaries much further, play with the sounds a lot more and make it more punchy. However, a good start, I think!
Human beings like to own things. In some ways this can be counter-productive and lead to destructive traits like rampant consumerism but when developing online materials, ownership is one of the most powerful ways to ensure quality and speed of development.
As part of Global Sharing day last week I hosted my first Skilio session. I very much enjoyed suggesting 5 ice breakers which could be used in a Skilio session or any other web conference which uses webcams. You can watch the recording here.