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radio silence

Some days, you just have to accept that you're not destined to do the things you want to do. You just have to say, "I did my best, but it's just not going to happen."

Like this fucking podcast, for example. After spending nearly three hours working on it yesterday, only to have my machine completely eat all of it and leave me with nothing but an empty feeling and a tiny ball of rage to show for it, I sat back down today to give it another go. As a bonus, I even convinced my wife to let me take out the old iRiver and ask her some questions about dating, and then being married to a geek. It was awesome.

However, the gods had other plans, because when I imported my audio from my iRiver to my Powerbook, it was totally useless, just like it was after the Grand Slam convention. Only this time, instead of being totally blown out, it decided that it needed to skip all over the place and drop out about every three seconds. I've discovered that the only thing this particular iRiver is good for is hitting with a sledgehammer, then setting on fire, stomping into a ball of goo, and launching at the invading Viking army via a trebuchet. (And it's not even very good for that, to be honest.)

This really needs to just work. I really need to be able to just sit down, take what's in my head, and put it into a recording. It's clear to me that if I want to do this podcast on any regular schedule, it has to be as technologically easy as it is for me to write, and I just don't have the tools for that right now. I have to get some sort of reliable recording rig that is NOT a USB headset into fucking Garageband that crashes, and the iRiver that decides to just stop working one day. I need stuff that just works.

This is all a roundabout way of saying: I'm really frustrated, and really upset that I've poured five hours of my time into this fucking thing, and I have nothing to show for it. It's the end of the week, I'm hungry and cranky, and instead of trying to start all over again and force a show out by the end of the day today, I'm going offline for several hours, to have dinner with my wife. Thank you all for your questions and the time you spent asking them; I'll do my very best to get the technical side of things worked out quickly, so your time will not have been wasted, as well.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Please drive safely.



Have a blast! You totally deserve it. Oh, and try not to think about the podcast too much. Or you'll just get crankier :S

BTW, what's happening with your Montreal visit?!

Nothing ever works right when you need it to. Enjoy the evening with your wife, have fun with the kids this weekend and give it another go on Tuesday.

I think it's just the universe telling me to get out of my office and enjoy life with my wife a little bit, Ziggy. I'm totally cool with that.

I talked with a shop(pe) in Montreal this morning, starshine. I should have an announcement next week.

Ouch! Sorry to hear your technology has turned on you! But, at least it's a holiday weekend, and you can spend the next three days thumbing your nose at said technology, and doing other fun stuff, instead! (Grill power!)

I sympathise, I fell behind on my work batch, worked through my lunch and 15 mins at the end of the day but to no avail could I redeem my sloppiness. My brother is stealing money/bandwidth from me monthly and I've only just found out which means I'll need to arrange for an individual net connection. The Girl I like at work has no interest in me.

And sadly my only incentive at the moment is waiting on Liberty city stories to hit ps2 next month along with MGS3: subsistence.

You know what I do with my interviews, Wil (including phone interviews)? I record them on this pathetic, tiny little Panasonic IC dictation-type recorder.

The recording quality is a tad meh, it must be manually dubbed into your computer via the mic-in line, it's mono ... and it's never failed me. High-gain, low-gain, it sounds just as good as most podcasts I hear.

It cost $60 at Staples.

Two weeks ago I used it to record an interview with a band in the alley behind a club on the Sunset Strip, at night, in the cold damp, with annoying people all around us. And even though the three of us were standing just a couple feet from each other, I had the lack of intelligence to forget to put it to low-gain, so the Panasonic dutifully recorded all the traffic from down on Sunset. But it was still perfectly listenable. And you can plug a microphone into it.

All I'm saying is, the world is awash these days in zippity-doo-dah podcast MP3 stuff that costs a fortune. For $60, I've gone the old-fashioned dictation route and never had a problem. Sometimes simple is better.

(A Mac crach? And here I thought unstable software was for victimized Windows users like me.)

I think we can all appreciate that peculiar brand of rage and frustration that comes from computer crashes. Remind me to tell you the story of how my GPU fan melted on me some time ...

Hi Wil...I'm a freelance radio journalist, and a podcaster. For all of my recording work I now use a Marantz PMD-660 flash recorder. It's pricy, at about $500 US, but has been very reliable. You record on a compact flash card, which you can either keep in the deck for the transfer, (USB1) or slide into your card reader (USB2) for RAPID transfer and editing.

Go to www.transom.org and click on Tools to read more, and also advice on selecting microphones. It's a great site that comes from National Public Radio.

By the way, I edit on Cool Edit 2000, with just 4 tracks...who really needs more than that? Check out my podcasts at www.pacificpalate.com. And don't let the frackin' technology get you down...


Have a Guinness and enjoy your wife's company. You could even try it in that order.

Hell, have two. Guinnesses, not wives.

Weekend. Enjoy.

You obviously need a better trebuchet. That'll take care of those bloody Vikings.


And my $100 Olympus has served me just fine for hundreds of hours of interviews for the Randi book.

That said, Audio Recorder is free, available at VersionTracker.

Wil, I know EXACTLY what you mean by beng frustrated. I think the stars are just not in our favor this week.
Yesterday, I had a check bounce, my glasses broke, the cable got switched off (not my fault) and the battery went dead on my portable phone because my lovely cat decided to knock it off its home.
Of course, after all this joy, I wake up late, try to deal with the cable company, NO TIME FOR COFFEE, and find out when I get to work, I have to do research on a project (big project) and it's due by next Friday (and we only have a 4-day week)...

Whew! I am so going home and taking a hot bubble bath and turning off the phone.
I got so frustrated that I started laughing. I mean, what the $#&?!! I couldn't possibly imagine anything else happening and you know what?
I've had a great day!

Just take a step back, breath and start laughing. Then the universe will laugh with you!

Three words :)


and Windows XP ;0 LOL

In all seriousness you may want to check out the EDIROL R1

R-1: Portable Digital Recorder
Searching for the highest recording quality in a portable device? Roland handpicked the top analog and digital components for the R-1. The unit records and plays back at crystal-clear, 24-bit audio resolution without compression. Electrolytic capacitors provide stable, reliable power to the analog circuits, eliminating DC interference and offering a truly low-distortion sound. Maximum recording time is approximately 137 minutes (MP3, 64kbps mode) when using the included 64MB memory card. The R-1 offers nine quality modes ranging from 64kbps compression to 24-bit linear WAV.

Hey Wil, totally know the feeling, i think we all do :P

Anyhow, I think they make a mic add on for iPod's now, might wanna check with Belkin or Griffin.

As for the software side, Audacity is freeware and works like a champ. Not sure if there's a Mac version, but i'm pretty sure there's a Linux one.

I've used it to mix all kinds of stuff for my radio shows and it works like a champ every time :)

I'm sorry it's not working out with the podcast. Hope you get the kinks worked out. Unfortunately being only functionally computer literate I really can't help, but then again, an endless litany of advice would probably just be annoying anyway. Hope you have a nice holiday.


What is it with technology today?! I spent the last 3 days recutting a short film; i finally had everything done, all I needed to do was compress it and upload. And that's when my computer crashed. I'm so glad I worked my butt off for 3 days to get it done so I could wait an extra week for my computer to be fixed.

Good times.


That should take care of your problem.

In the words of my generation:


Have you thought about just going the cheap route? I use Audacity, its free, it may not be fancy like garage band but when all else fails just go basic. Sometimes the fanciest equipment is just the biggest piles of bugs on the face of the planet. When all else fails go simple thats what I always say.

Sorry it's crapping out on you, Wil. It's the universe telling you to pack up your guide and your towel and take teh family to see XMen3-- and stay for the credits!

Keep in mind there's a wonderful tech called analog. The old magnetic tape, yeah. I've got tape from the early 70's that still works. It's easy enough to fly it into your digital program of choice. Really, it is.
Keep on, keepin' on...

Hey... you just hit a small streak of bad luck - you're still the coolest freaking person I know.

Well... at least I feel like I know you a little bit sometimes, when Writer Wil is in the Zone...

Does that make me a creepy Internet stalker? Or just another fanboy?

Anyway... enjoy your holiday weekend - there's always next week to make a fresh start.

As "they" (the ubiquitous "they" who know and say everything) say, "Life is what happens while you make plans." I know: last Saturday I was rear-ended by an SUV. My little Nissan Sentra was paid off and had just had new rear struts installed and new tires put on. Now, this Saturday, I've got to look for a new-to-me car and face the prospect of car payments that I can't really afford. Each day is an adventure. But, as they also say, "it's better than the alternative!"

Have a great holiday. And start all over again Tuesday. :-)

While I don't have much experience with audio recordings and such, I know frustration, and with that my solution lately as been this:

More Guitar Hero.

Hope you get it all solved soon, Wil! Love hearing from you.

I own 4 TNG sets now: 1,3,4 and 5!

I know I've never written to you, but I thought I would now! So, hi Wil!

I can't wait to hear more Video Pay Quesadilla! (G)

If you just want to get out what's in your head and don't mind a lack of ability in adding bumpers and music check out http://www.odeo.com. You just need a microphone and you can record up to an hour. I have never had a problem with it. Hope you had a nice dinner man.

an idea? if your cell phone has bluetooth, use its voice memo function to record a wav file and then send the file to your puter via bluetooth.

If you can't get your podcast going and you have hours of absolutely nothing to do, we'd love to "see" the conversation you had with your wife typed out if we can't hear it. :)

You will get it to work. Somehow. We'll be waiting.


Don't sweat it Wil, we can wait. We aren't going anywhere :)

Will, I do podcasting for a living, and my short advice would be record on the iRiver at the best quality, and pull the recorded MP3 into something like Audacity or a simple wave editor to sort out levels and editing. Feel free to ping me ([email protected]) and be more than happy to take you through the set up and stuff.

Don't worry Wil. Take a break. Spend time with your family. Do an activity that does not have you sitting infront of a computer. Then try again next week.

We will all stil be here.

Been there. Suffered that. Technology never fails to show you who's really in charge. Gotta make sure you sacrifice a small transitor to the Computer Gods once and a while.

Another audio editing tool that I've had success with is Amadeus (http://www.hairersoft.com). Straightforward, and effective.

Though it seems like there's no shortage of audio suggestions, I recently bought a Samson CO1U USB mike. I got it for under $80 and the audio quality is really great hooked up to my laptop. Professional quality.

Looking forward to your next podcast, whenever that may be.

Sorry to hear how frustrated you are...

I can very much understand. I find this whole podcast/internet radio to be sometimes more stress than fun.

Have a relaxing weekend dude!

I would echo the suggestions of others to use Audacity, which is free. Free is good.

It's what I use, and it's painfully stable (in my experience).

It's available for Max OS X as well as Linux and Win XP.



I'm a musician and have recently been researching and upgrading my home computer recording set-up. Listen to a couple of songs I've recorded with it at www.jimgerke.com. There is an email link on that page and I'd be happy to give you any detailed info I can regarding the improvement of your podcasting setup.


give up.

that's what i do.

while this doesn't help wil on a Mac or Linux box, I have had great success with Adobe Audition on Windows-based PCs. I've used Audacity a few times and not really been too impressed with it. However, I suppose if I spent a little more time with it, I might change my tune.

RE: the iRiver comments, I don't really know what's up , Wil. I absolutely LOVE my iRiver H10 20GB. I recently recorded a full set of Vienna Teng when she played locally and the sound came out *great*. I've never had any problems recording with it or syncing it with my PC or Linux machines. Your mileage may vary, I suppose...

The point of doing the podcast thing was to have some fun with it, right? If you're not having fun, wait and do it when you do, and it'll show in the quality of the result.
Until then, spend time with your family...it's the most important thing anyway...well except maybe for poker. :D

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is walk away. I hope you never forget that you are not married to your computer. Have a great holiday.


One word "Windows"

Why do you keep using those unstable Mac systems.

One word "Windows"

Why do you keep using those unstable Mac systems?

Ack, what a bitch. Sorry :(

But dude! You've got 99 people 'Demanding' to have you come to Seattle! D'you think you will?

After all, what could possibly cheer you up more than a ... rainy day in Seattle?


See my email re: a possible (free) solution that I could have in the mail to you asap.

Well, I can't offer you a trebuchet (no way to haul it to you!), but I'll echo everyone's suggestions re: Audacity. I'm using it on Linux and Windows both, as well as the rest of my podcast crew. Even my Mac user/Disneyland buddy Mel chooses it over Garageband a lot of the time.

FWIW, I was advised to stay away from USB headsets by someone else who had trouble with them, so I set up my plain desktop mic and sony headphones with 1/8" plugs into my soundcard, and so far so good.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend! :)

Just have a good memorial weekend Wil.

Just have a good memorial weekend Wil.

dang double post

This is my first time posting a comment, tho I have been reading the blog for a few years now. I simply felt your despair in this entry and wanted to say, whenever something like that happens, it makes you want to walk away, and sometimes you should for a little bit...Also, Love your blog, its a daily netvisit for me at work :)

The memory of losing almost two hours worth of work on a logo in one of my design classes still haunts me almost ten years later (I was an idiot and didn't save b/c I was so immersed in the project).

Like BigDolphan said, Wil, the podcast is s'posed to be fun for you, so enjoy the sunshine and time with the family and come back refreshed. I often find that "do-overs" take less time anyway since you've already got a road map for where you're going.

Kat :)


I totally know how it feels to loose all that work. Been there myself. But, as so many have mentioned, just have fun with it. You've got a great show!

This too shall pass. and you'll come back, stronger than ever, and it'll be a great show. Even Mike Mennenga, and Evo Terra have their setacks. but they too overcome, and conquer, jast as you will.

Relax, and enjoy the time with Anne, and the guys. You deserve it!

You might try picking Richard Vobes's brain over at vobes.com. He seems to have figured out how to make shows run seamlessly on the technical end; he could probably help you with equipment setup. I say that because as far as I can tell, other than a high-end microphone, he doesn't have much in the way of fancy equipment, but you'd swear you were listening to a terrestrial radio station. And he podcasts every day. You probably have access to more resources than him, too.

I know nothing about podcasting, I can barley work my iPod. Sounds like you did a lot of work there, I'm sorry it didn't work out. :( I hope you and your wife had a nice dinner. Take your time with the podcast, don't stress it. *hugs*

Looking forward to when the gods and godesses of technology (not too many godesses for some reason, but the few that are there have to fend off the other geek gods) stop punishing you for letting you fly their space ship.

Wil - Not sure if you read your comments this far down, but I had to ask:

You've said before that your post titles are often lyrics from songs you're listening to when you write them, or songs that otherwise tie into what you're writing about, or something.

In the case of this post, is "Radio Silence" a reference to the band Harvey Danger? Sure, sure, it's a common phrase and could just be related to the whole effed-up podcast (sorry 'bout that, by the way) but since I'm a huge HD fan I thought I'd inquire...

First of all don't record with that awful Garageband get some software that works.

Or if you want to make it real easy, buy a Marantz PMD-660 the new ones have fixed some of the audio problems that were reported earlier. That is what I use for a backup device and it works great for when I am mobile.



I agree with Todd on the Marantz, it is a beautiful piece of work. As far as software goes, all you need is QuickTime Pro - It records audio straight to the hard drive (with a minimal buffer), so even if it crashes (which it shoudn't, cuz there's not much to go wrong) you still have your audio.

It's easy and fun.


I've never had any problems with Garageband -- although I've not used it as much in the past as I'm going to soon. It's seemed stable, but Audacity is also a good solution -- if a bit limited. For a podcast, it should be fine. In terms of getting the audio into your machine -- I'd suggest the iMic as a fairly inexpensive solution (I think it's like $40) to plug a microphone into the system. If you don't have one, I have an old mic from an Aiwa bookshelf system that should be able to plug right in. Which, actually, would be able to plug right into the line-in/mic port on your machine, but from what I've heard the iMic offeres some more control over the audio. For what I use for recording (music mostly @ mytunes.elicitbehavior.com -- hasn't been updated in over a year I think, but soon I'll get back to it), I just got a presonus FireBox for recording into garageband. It seems to work fine, but I literally got it yesterday so I'm not sure. Mostly, I'd recommend garageband (or audacity -- only I'm not thrilled with the audacity interface) and a decent mic rig. The iMic should be plenty for podcasting.


As a fellow Mac guy and to echo what others have said - Use audacity, saves as MP3. Audacity also has auto processing features not in Garageband. I thought PowerBooks had a built in mic. Like others, I would recommend the Griffin Technologies iMic for input, but you will still need a separate mic.


I have a PC based home studio. I use Pro Tools LE with an MBox (glorified analog to digital converting USB dongle). The price tag is reasonable (around $450 gets you the hardware and the basic but fully functional software package) and it has been rock solid for me. From there, you add a halfway decent microphone (I'd recommend a Shure SM58 $100) and you're ready to go. ProTools is the same software you'd find in a majority of digital recording studios, and it's a very versatile, very powerful tool. Yes, it's a more expensive solution than a pocket tape recorder, and no, it's not nearly as portable (although, if you have a lap top, a place to set up, and around two minutes to plug it in, it's fine) but you'll make a much better sounding recording. It's a bit of a resource whore, so you wanna have plenty of RAM and HD space. As long as the program has enough power behind it, it's pretty goddamn near invulnerable, or at least it has been on my system.
Good luck!