GNC #955 with Robbie Ferguson

Robbie Ferguson from Category5 Technology TV hosts Geek News Central today.

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Geek News Central Studio

It has been a couple of years since I took some picture of the studio. I will try and describe the best I can what you see in each picture and the purpose of each item. I have built this studio over the past 6 years. It should be noted that these are the tools of my livelihood and keep my family fed, and is way beyond what most content creators will ever need.

This is an overall shot looking into the studio. I will break each item out separately in the images below.

 

From the Top Down, Solo 610 Classic Vacum Tube Mic Amplifier, 2-Telos Phone Bridge for patching in land line calls, Aphex Compellor (Only used when I have a bad audio recording), Furman Power Conditioner, DBX 215 2 channel equalizer, DBX 266xl Compressor Gate, Aphex 204 Aural Exciter, Mackie Onyx 1620i Mixer, HP Laptop running Windows 7 that is used to push Video to Justin.TV as secondary video feed.

First 2 monitors stacked on top of one another are the Ohanasaurus I can have 2 video skype calls come into the studio which are feed to the tricaster which is not pictured here. The OhanaSaurus design came from the SkypeSaurus that Leo Laporte has.  The second monitor is displaying Adobe Audition 2.0 and it is connected to a Ultra Quiet Windows 7 Machine from Sweetwater that gets its audio feed via firewire from the Mackie mixer. The 4th Monitor is the control panel for the Tricaster TCXD-850 by Newtek. I am currently using a AKG K271 MK II Headset. If you look closely by the GoDaddy sign you will see a Zoom H4N which acts as my backup Audio Recorder in case murphies law strikes. You will also see I use Logitech Trackballs on almost all the computers.

The first 2 monitors are connected to a consumer grade HP Desktop. The monitor on the left’s video is fed into the Tricaster by a Newtek product called iVGA so what ever is seen on that monitor can be feed to the Tricaster. The monitor in the middle is where I have the program line up. The 17″ Mac Pro on the right is what I monitor the show video stream from. It is connected to a secondary network connection and I can make sure that the live feed is indeed Live. I also use that machine for video editing when I travel. On the desk is a LiveControl LC-11 switcher that allows me to run the camera selections, overlays etc.. Note the switcher that is there today is getting replaced later this week with a new switcher designed for the Tricaster TCXD-850. Microphone is from BlueMic Mouse that I absolutely love.

The Tricaster TCXD-850 is the heart of the video operations. I am currently feeding it 2 HD Cameras, 2 SD cameras, 2 Skype Video Feeds, 1 Network Feed. All told it makes doing my show a complete pleasure. It is a bit of a beast so I have it mounted in a sound proof case whick keeps the studio quiet. The tricaster records the video as well along with a host of other cool things, and also sends the video stream to ustream.tv

 

Looking from the back of the room you can see two cameras both Sony’s but different models. I light the room with LED Lights from LitePanels. All of this gear is backed up with 5 UPS. I have had electricians in, and they have run more power to this room.  Now the amazing part, because I am in Hawaii the tradewinds keep the studio a very nice 70 degrees and I very rarely have to run the A/C unit that is attached to the room. All of it is connected with three separate internet connections, a commercial account with Time Warner, DSL from Hawaiian Telecom and a 4G Clearwire connection.

All of it is secured by a state of the art alarm system, the entire property has multiple professional day and night cameras as well which are monitored and fed offsite.

If you have questions I would be happy to answer them in the comment section. I am also available for consulting anyplace in the world.

Millions and Millions Served!

On October 9th 2010 the Geek News Central Podcast will be 6 years old. By the time that show airs, I will have produced 617 episodes of the show. I did some math tonight and was quite shocked on how many downloads we have had of the show! Geek News Central is well into the 8 digit territory.

I’ll be honest I was pretty shocked when I did the math. I have a pretty good handle on the numbers day to day,  because I have been tracking the show stats with a variety of tools since about July of 2005 but honestly the total download number sat me back  in my chair.

The first 9 months of tracking my show downloads are a little fuzzy, thus I had to do some fuzzy math to come up with the first 9 months download totals. At that time it was a challenge in just finding the bandwidth to deliver the show, let alone worry about counting the downloads. In the very very early days I was burning through 250 to 300 Gigabytes of traffic each show, and at the time the most affordable shared hosting account you could get only had 500gb of monthly traffic. In the early days going from 400 to 25,000 subscribers happened pretty quickly it has only been upwards from there.

If I include the 5 years of  CES, and Special Events the number nearly triples. So we are going to have a little fun for the 6 year anniversary show. I will announce a new contest on the show tomorrow, tune in to find out how you can get a chance at a very cool prizes.

Here is the weird part I have not decided if I am going to announce the actual number because it brings out the dogs.

When I shared the total with a podcasting buddy tonight he was not surprised, but I had to do the math twice.  Building this shows audience has not come easy,  in the early days I had several subscriber setbacks, the week I announced my Podcasting book in May of 2005 my audience dropped in half overnight, when I took my first advertiser in June of 2005 the audience dropped again. The hate mail I got over the book deal and taking a sponsor was simply unbelievable. In the early days, I was accused of selling out. Most of the naysayers are gone, a few are still being naysayers but most have podfaded. With the show at 75 minutes it is definitively the upper limit for a one man show.

If I can say one thing, consistency has been the key in growing the audience. At this point doing the show is still of the highest priority to me, a lot of people get their twice weekly time shifted fix of tech news. I continue to experiment with the show in tiny increments, and while the Audio portion of the audience is my bread and butter and is what keeps the lights on and my family fed. The video subscriber numbers though are literally exploding. This is raising it’s own concerns as downloaded Video delivered as a podcast is very expensive to deliver. It cost about .07 cents per viewer to deliver the video portion of the show, and I understand now why some of the big boys have to have bandwidth sponsors for their shows.

The Morning Tech Show” that I launched three weeks ago seems to be gaining speed, and is on target to meet my internal viewer goals. The goal remains to launch 5 more shows here at Geek News Central before the end of the year. I am still in solicitation mode at this point. There has to be some website changes as well to add more shows, so that has to be done yet, if you want to be tech star send me an email :) and an idea for a show your willing to commit to for 2 years.

If it has been a while since you tuned in, subscribe and pull down a couple of episodes to see where the show is going or watch me on your Roku or Boxee. Looking at my show Stats, this month so far GNC has reached listeners in 177 out of 194 countries with the bottom 3 only getting 1 download each. Not sure what to compare that to but I think it’s cool that I have a global audience.

We will have some fun on the anniversary show and give away some prizes.  I want to thank all of the Ohana that have helped get us to this point in the shows development. Someday with a lot of work maybe we can say billions and billions served but that’s only a dream at this point.

Todd…

Geek News Central Portable Podcast Rig

Portable Podcast Rig

While I highlighted my home studio already I have numerous request to talk about my portable recording rig. As you all know I travel as much as 1-2 weeks a month. I am usually stuck in Hotels with less than desirable bandwidth which requires I bring extra connectivity along more on that later.

I pack for three contingencies, audio only, audio and video combined, video interview only.  A separate pack-out is used for conventions.  Let me talk about the gear and then I will talk about the setup.

Note:  The gear below is the minimum I travel with. I never travel with less equipment

Portable Audio and Video Podcast Studio:
StormCase Water Tight Case
Mixer: Mackie 802-VLZ3
Headset: BeyerDynamic DT-290 (Primary)
Router: Netgear Wireless Router
Sony: Wireless Receivers URX-P1 x2
Sony: Wireless Transmitter UTX-B1 x1
Sony: Microphone Wireless Transmitter UTX-P1
Lavalier Mics x1
Canopus ADVC-300 Analog to Digital Converter
Mic: Electrovoice RE50B (Interviews)
Camera: Sony HDR-SR11
Hard Drive: eSata 1 tb External Drive (HD Video Storage)
Cables: Way to Many!
Connectors: Way To Many
Laptops:  Windows Vista x2

Some will say this is overkill and it actually is. But the reason I travel with so much gear is based on 4 years of travel experience. I have been places where I needed to have wireless microphone capability and others where wired mics are required, sometimes I need to do a video interview so I have to have the ability to go from Audio mode to Video mode from this kit.  If I am planning on doing exclusive Video I will add a Sony HVR-Z1U to the pack out along with supporting tri-pods or mono-pods.

Laptop pack out also depends on what I will be doing.  If I am doing my regular show only 2 Windows Vista based Laptops are needed. One to handle the live video stream and the other to handle separate audio recording and the show work flow. If I am doing any pro-video recording I add a Mac Book Pro to the pack out for editing in Final Cut.

Doing conventions or other big events requires a whole different level of pack out and my Fedex bill goes vertical.

Portable Podcast Gear Packed

My regular travel kit above weighs in at 38 pounds. I check it as checked luggage. The laptops and any high value items go with me in carry on luggage.

Some will ask why I do not switch to a Firewire device or standalone recording device.  Two answers Quality and Reliability. I did use a Focusrite Saffire 2 channel Firewire mixer for about 6 months. It was the biggest piece of crap I have ever used. I spent more time getting it to work then I did recording on it. I have also used some portable audio recorders and the quality level is not where I need it to be.

For network connectivity.  I travel with 1-2  Sprint EVDO cards, I usually rely on the hotel to provide me enough bandwidth for getting the show material ready but hotel connectivity has been getting worse of late. Usually I have to use the EVDO connection to push the video stream. I average 350 kpbs up stream and my 75 minute show uses 300 megs per show of my 5 gig monthly limit. I have tested with Verizon EVDO and I will be honest they may have a big network but their wireless speeds suck!

If you notice I pack a Netgear Wireless router, this is for the wired hotels that want to charge me $20.00 a day per computer for a wired connection.

The A/D converter is currently used with the Sony Camera, the small HD camera I currently own does not have a Firewire connection.  I convert the analog out of the camera to digital which gets routed into the laptop as a digital video Firewire connection.  I am currently on the hunt for a HD non pro Camera that will connect to a laptop via Firewire.

To be able to achieve a 3 camera shot as I did on the last trip. I use the built in Webcam in the Video processing laptop as camera one, and then use a second USB based Webcam as camera 2, the Sony HD camera is camera 3 which is usually the primary camera.

Software:
Video Feed: VidBlaster Studio (Windows)
Audio Recording: Adobe Audition 3.0 (Windows)

While I am sure I will work on efficiency of the portable studio, my quality level is where I want it and the kit is always packed and ready to go. It gets checked as luggage and so far nothing bad has happened to the gear.

Geek News Central Podcast Recording Gear

Geek News Central Studio

I often get asked what gear do I use to record my Podcast. Well there are two answers to that question. Today I will cover the gear that I use while I am here in Hawaii. As you know I travel a great deal and have a separate rig for when I travel.

Here is the List in the Exact Food Chain from when I speak till it is recorded on the Computer.

Audio
Power Conditioner: Furman PL-8 Series II
Microphone: Mouse from Blue Mic
Mic Boom: OC White
Microphone Tube Amplifier: SOLO 610 Classic Vacuum Tube
Mixer: Mackie ONYX 1220
Equalizer : DBX 215
Compressor / Gate: DBX 266XL
Aural Enhancer: APHEX 204
TelePhone Interviews: Telos Hybrid X2
Recording PC Standard Windows XP PC fed by Analog Audio from Mixer
Audigy Sound Card
Adobe Audition Recording Software

Video
Tricaster Studio
Live Control LC-11
Sony Cameras x 4 (Models Various)
Stream directly from Tricaster to Ustream.TV

Standard Studio Configuration
1 PC Recording Audio
1 Laptop Monitoring Video Stream controlling Ustream
1 PC that I use to Produce show
2 Network Connections

Geek News Central Podcast Studio 2

Everything is recorded in one straight shot. I do not stop the show under any circumstances. When I finish I only group waveform normalize the audio and then I save it to MP3. I then use the publishing tools at Blubrry to write the ID3 tags, publish the media, send the newsletter and post the podcast on this blog.

Time Line:
I start show Prep at 7pm HST
1 hour of show prep
75 minutes of recording
30 minutes of post show production.

Note: If your a new podcaster remember I started with a $7.00 headset from Walmart and spent less than $150.00 on gear until I reached show #50. My philosophy is have a high quality recording to start with to eliminate post show editing. But even with this gear a child simply twisting a knob can ruin a evening. :)

Energizer it’s not just about Batteries Anymore at CES 2008

When you think of Energizer you think about batteries but you really do not think about home lighting. The folks at Energize have come with some great lighting products for the home that have eye appeal and will solve a lot of problems people have with lighting.

This new line of lighting products called “Light on Demand” are going to allow people to hang lights in places they would not do so otherwise. With long lasting rechargeable batteries this is the perfect solution that eliminates the hassle of having to hide or run wiring. As simple as hang the light and turn it on is the advantage of these new products by energizer. Long Life Time, Uses LED lights and they are very efficient lights that will run 12 hours on a charge. Best thing as easy to hang as a picture.

They are going to be sold at Target and Target.com available Feb 3rd.

If you want more information on the new Energizer Home Lights and future special offers please visit www.rawvoiceoffers.com and enter promo code “ENERGIZER” or visit www.energizer.com

Download Video

CES-TPN-2008-01-09-POD CES 2008 Day 3 Pick of the Day

Day Three coverage comes to you from the Zune Section of the Microsoft booth. Big thanks to the Zune team for letting us film this in a section of their booth. Check out the podcast suport on the Zune.

MyDreamFlyer.com
Plantronic Virtual Phone Booth
Asoka Power Line PlugLink AV 9164
My Theater Acoustic Panels
i-sobot
Sanyo HD 1000 HDMI Camera

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24hr Podcast Starts Here at 11am EST

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Dial in at +1 724–444–7444 Talkcast ID is 10832 or listen to the stream.

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UPDATE:
The 24hr Podcast was completed this morning after 24 hours near continuous talk with the guest listed below having talked on a wide variety of topics including, Podcasting, Technology, Science, Family and Life.

We thank you for your attendance and participation. The recorded segments will be released at 24hrPodcast.com

$800.00 was raised for OLPC during the event!

Schedule of Guest that will be joining me! Hawaii is GMT -10