Just writing about nothing in particular

Twitter Trends Tonight

Tonight's trending topics on Twitter according to the search in TTYtter are:
TTYtter> /trends
/search "North Korea" OR "N Korea"
/tron "North Korea" "N Korea"
/search SNL OR #SNL
/tron SNL #SNL
/search DSI
/tron DSI
/search "Flutter Mocks You"
/tron "Flutter Mocks You"
/search "Our Microblogging"
/tron "Our Microblogging"
/search Adventureland
/tron Adventureland
/search At&t
/tron At&t
/search Twilight
/tron Twilight
/search Easter
/tron Easter
/search Furious
/tron Furious
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Talking Audio


In light of a glitch that happened late Sunday with TWiT 187, it is perhaps appropriate to talk about digital audio structuring.

There are three main sampling rates used with digital audio. Those rates are:

  • 11.025 kHz -- Wireline Telephone Quality
  • 22.050 kHz -- AM Radio Quality
  • 44.100 kHz -- Compact Disc Audio Quality
A typical sample rate that programs from Erie Looking Productions stick with is 44.1 kHz if file size caps permit. For the longest time such was not possible as the Drupal implementation LISNews ran on had a ten megabyte cap. At this point, the current Drupal implementation lets us get away with files up to twenty megabytes in size. Our sample rate and bit rate change every week as we try to optimize content to sound good within the cap we have to work with.

Something we try to avoid is using the 11.025 kHz sample. In most respects such sounds awful. It can be useful, though, if you have a sizable audience operating with lower than average bandwidth. Last night the folks at the TWiT Cottage mistakenly released in the main MP3 feed their low-resolution file encoded at the 11.025 kHz sample rate with a bit rate of only sixteen kilobits per second. Such works great if you have to be in the American Pacific on a slow link and still want content and have a high tolerance for distortion and digital artifacts.

At this point, there is no plan to release programs from Erie Looking Productions in such a low-bandwidth version. It does not seem that such will serve the audience well. If there is demand, such as getting a version of the program available under the ten megabyte cap iPhones cope with for over-the-air podcast downloads, then reconsideration may be possible.

Creative Commons License
Talking Audio by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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Technical Note

As you might have noticed, the "podcast" link isn't working. I had to make some taxonomy changes to support the full-blown launch of the LISNews Netcast Network. Unfortunately doing so broke that and I am not able to fix it. The matter has been flagged for Blake and should be okay when he has time available to fix it. If you are already subscribed to the podcast feed, you're fine. Your podcatcher likely saw the name change and adjusted things appropriately. If you already subscribe to the e-mail service, you're still fine. The key concern, though, is that you'll be getting everything posted to the LISNews Netcast Network. While we work things out and complete the finishing touches, this table may help with ways of subscribing at finer degrees of granularity:


Feed Reader/Podcatcher Target

E-mail Subscription Option

Hyperlinked History
Presented by Great Western Dragon/The Faceless Historian

Link on Feedburner

E-mail service provided by Feedburner

LISTen: An Podcast
Presented by Stephen Michael Kellat

Link on Feedburner

E-mail service provided by Feedburner

Tech for Techies
Presented by Michael J. Kellat

Link on Feedburner

E-mail service provided by Feedburner

All Network Programs

Link on Feedburner

E-mail service provided by Feedburner

Programming will post throughout the week instead of in a single flood on Monday morning Coordinated Universal Time.

Quick Word

This will head out over e-mail and RSS. In the midst of shifting things over to the LISNews Netcast Network model, some things are slightly messy. Some things are also beyond my ability or access permissions to fix. Please bear with us in this faster than planned transition.

What is the LISNews Netcast Network? See:

Financial thoughts

"God watches out for fools and little children," an old proverb states. Times are interesting for LISTen: The Podcast. The production engineer has been at risk since last Saturday of being unemployed. As of last Saturday he has been a "grey market" employee with no known direction as to his continued employment. Every day has been such that one of the first questions asked was: "Were your termination papers sent into processing today?" Jobs results yesterday put Nevada at 9.1% unemployment which for the measurement period year-on-year is 3.9% higher. The national average is 7.2%. The only places worse off than Nevada in terms of unemployment are South Carolina, Michigan, Rhode Island, and California. See: I've been working on the podcast full-time since the end of July 2008. We've had a variety of interesting guests. Landing guests is not a simple matter and takes time. A single day's turnaround is highly unusual. Taking up a whole week is more average. Spending a month pursuing an interview, such as the recent one with Felicia Day, happens from time to time. While it seems that only mediocrity is expected of the crew here, I try to exceed that expectation. My work has been subsidized at some cost to the production engineer, my father. LISTen apparently serves an audience. LISTen's audience is hard to quantify for an agency like PodTrac or Blubrry so that we could start pursuing advertising revenue. If anything, average American librarian behavior prevents that. Today on LISNews we saw that Reed Business Information has been consolidating operations fairly harshly. Layoffs are common in today's news. If anything, the crew here in Las Vegas has nowhere to go but up. Here are our minimum operating budget needs:
Item Monthly Annually Notes
Production Staff Compensation $3,485.00 $41,820.00 Includes compensation for both presenter and engineer
Broadband $75.00 $900.00 Monopoly provider locally
Other Telecommunications $40.00 $480.00 Cover cost of fallback systems
Outside Freelancer Compensation Pool $50.00 $600.00 Unused balance to carry-over month to month
Equipment Repair/Purchase/Evaluation Pool $75.00 $900.00 Unused balance to carry-over month to month
Shortwave Broadcast $75.00 $900.00 To be negotiated with WBCQ
Facilities Cost/Contingencies $1,200.00 $14,400.00 Contingency in case need arises to relocate production operations

Sub-total $5,000.00 $60,000.00
Tax Burden $1,500.00 $18,000.00 Currently estimated at 30% due to uncertainty in possible tax law changes

Total $6,500.00 $78,000.00
Now it may be best to explain further some of the line items. For the staff compensation line, you need to split that a minimum of two ways. If split evenly, that would result in USD$20,910 per year. That is hardly living high on the hog and would only be considered well-to-do in one place in the US: American Samoa. Such would only be a little over twice the average annual income there. If individuals who happened to not be family were engaged for engineering tasks, the overall staff compensation line would easiily balloon to a minimum of USD$80,000 per year with a more likely point of USD$100,000 with compensation being divided in an asymmetric fashion. This is the cheapest this line item would get, in case anybody was wondering. There is no broadband competition really in the Las Vegas Valley so that cost is fixed. Other telecommunications refers to the backup cell we use when broadband malfunctions. There is a need to commission freelancers in other realms to report on stories that we lack the ability to cover and, unfortunately, people will not do such original reporting for free. Equipment repair refers to the reality that things do break and while we can undertake repairs, we do not have funds to pay for replacement parts now. Shortwave broadcast is for a small low-tech expansion of program coverage that we want to start. The facilities cost/contingencies line refers to the possible need to outright lease space so that we have greater ease in recording compared to our cramped, ad hoc facility that doubles as a dwelling space. For us to qualify as a media entity, we cannot take money directly. If somebody wanted to contribute to costs so that we have a firm foundation and not have to worry about people's day jobs disappearing, send the money to Blake. Blake is effectively the fiscal agent for this. Consulting the details at might be worthwhile, I presume, for reaching Blake. This would allow for an appropriate paperwork chain that would indicate that the funds went for media purposes with all the intervening W-9 and 1099-MISC forms required. Don't ask me why, I don't write tax laws or the definitions of "media organization" in statutes. Not-for-profit entities always ask for money. I get letters from my religiously-affiliated undergraduate institution asking for money to keep going. A post like this is much like a Salvation Army bell-ringer or an American Red Cross funds appeal. To say a post like this is something different is intellectual dishonesty. We've tried to wage commerce instead of war by offering materials for sale that nobody has bought. We've tried to secure advertising but found that librarians are too flighty of a demographic for that to happen. We've sought sponsorship in the Las Vegas Valley and after five inquiries we've come up with nothing as they did not want to touch the demographic of librarians. All other avenues are exhausted and this is what we are left with relative to stabilizing the money side of production for the podcast.
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Why the MLS matters

In the news today, education professor Bill Ayers was turned away at the Canadian border. Professor Ayers noted that such seemed to be a violation of his academic freedom. While never tried and convicted in the United States for any Weather Underground related events, Canadian law cares not. Canada's counterpart to our USA PATRIOT Act can be somewhat more draconian and goes places that would scare Americans. The notoriety picked up during the campaign as well as his lack of repentance likely led the Canada Border Services Agency to exclude him as an undesirable alien. While he would have let himself into Canada, Canada's standards are different from those in force in the United States.

In the United States, we often don't ascribe much meaning to the MLS. This has been a lovely topic over the past couple years. Once you exit the United States and cross a national border, the MLS means everything. In far too many English-speaking realms, the lack of the MLS cannot be compensated for by position let alone position title. Whether you head up a hospital library or make great pieces of software that means nothing in too many realms when it comes to border crossings if you attempt to cross as a librarian instead of as a library paraprofessional if you lack the MLS. Even though I am notionally in private practice, I am able to be recognized for border-crossing purposes as a librarian while those lacking the MLS cannot. No amount of action to make paraprofessionals feel more respected will change the rules of foreign governments in terms of professional recognition. The MLS is the sole recognized credential that says librarian.

Speech that was okay in the United States was deemed undesirable abroad. Such isn't a violation of the First Amendment because that only applies to the US government and not foreign administrations. Recognition of professional status in the United States does not export abroad easily as the MLS matter shows.

Globalization can be interesting. Who really thought Pax Americana was even possible? This shows that we're hardly there at all.

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Thinking About Radio

Some thoughts were left at the Erie Looking Productions blog. Comments aren't possible there yet. I'm still working on integrating It was messy but I integrated Disqus with Nanoblogger so it is not like there is a switch that can be simply flipped on or off relative to allowing comments. [Updated at 1626 PST on 3 January 2009]
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Weather for the podcast team

My local weather conditions outside: Snow?  In Las Vegas? 5 Clicking on the picture will whisk you away to Flickr to see the full-size version.

Thanksgiving in Las Vegas

Erf? The weather was quite weird today. As I write, there are still fog issues. For the past two days we've had record rainfall. (Click on the picture to be magically transported to Flickr for other picture sizes)
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Sadly, no LISTen Halloween special

Due to illness, there will not be a Halloween special of LISTen: The Podcast.
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Works in progress for LISTen #44

For the sake of those who want something more than just plain text:
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Random thoughts again

Between looking at the "biblioblogosphere" reaction as well as the comments on recent Annoyed Librarian's posts, I am confused. I don't get the virulence. I really don't. The rampant conservativism as well as fundamentalism is also breath-taking.

I understand that there seems to be veneration of Library Journal as an institution. I don't understand why there would be such a vehement reaction to this whole matter. What Library Journal did is hardly earth-shattering and has popped up elsewhere in far larger publications.

Librarians traditionally had at least a small amount of appreciation for what goes on in the content production side of things. This whole incident shows nothing in the same ballpark as that. The more I look at it, the more I get disturbed. Are librarians really masters of information in its many respects or are we merely warehouse managers?

It scares me that so many notables within librarianship would rail against this. As I said in the current podcast, if this is such an existential threat to the profession and its image there is the offer made to try to write your own counter-balance. What am I missing here? To a rational observer, librarians should be leaping for the opportunity. Yet as far as can be seen, nobody has stepped up to the plate. Is it that much easier to just whine about how bad the hiring of somebody like the Annoyed Librarian is rather than make a difference that could even help tenure cases potentially in terms of intellectual output?

Blogs are blogs. The Annoyed Librarian's presence is grouped with other opinion entities. I am not worried about the Annoyed Librarian harming the public's view of the profession. If anything the Annoyed Librarian has plenty of analogues in publications from the tech realm like Robert X. Cringely or Spencer F. Katt. When one regards Library Journal as what it is, simply a commercial publication, then this is a pretty mundane thing. To see an example of a Spencer F. Katt piece, all you need to do is get up and move around in your library in the direction of your periodicals and look at the back page of any recent issue of eWeek. In this case, you potentially have a non-librarian analog to the Annoyed Librarian in print within your facility...and you likely pay good money for it too.

What is being taught in MLS programs lately? I know these things not due to library school but because I have been in the media business off and on since 1998. Librarians certainly do not speak with one voice and never really have. If these strictures by various online personalities were applied to Sandy Berman when he challenged the validity of various subject headings in Hennepin County, I frankly imagine that we would not have as accessible of an LCSH as we have now.

Sometimes things that help may be bitter or just not taste good. Why else would so many medications say to take with food perhaps? The Annoyed Librarian does play a valuable role pointing out issues to think about. Today's post brought up an interesting point or two about separating knowledge and counter-knowledge as well as pondering the role of librarians in such.

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So, what are we fielding at BlogWorldExpo

Sometimes it is appropriate to talk about the technology used in production. Why? Some days I would much rather serve as the pathfinder for others rather than have most in the profession engaged in the Sisephean task of reinventing the wheel. Out of the production team, one member of the team is in Ohio on leave while two will be able to attend the conference. The production engineer is the only one with media credentials for the conference. In the lobby outside the south hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center is where I will hiding out as I have no badge. I wish I could pull off a bit akin to "Blazing Saddles" to get in the door. For this, badges are quite needed. I will be in the background for this. We're putting a non-librarian out on the floor. That was not my choice but I have to live with who had the successful badge application. I applied for badges for the whole team, it should be noted. While Blake and I can both advise the person on the show floor about possible topics we could use all the advice possible. The engineer cannot keep running off the fairly big floor to the areas outside to ask me what to do so any suggestions of inquiry areas will help. Most, but not all, of the tools we are planning to take: 1. 2 laptops with their necessary accessory components 2. One ICD-P620 Sony voice recorder 3. One condenser microphone 4. Headset for reviewing audio recordings 5. Diagnostic & Repair tools as needed We won't be ready or able to do video work. With only one person on the floor that isn't really feasible either. When Pixelcorps filmed at New Media Expo they had to have multiple crew members involved. While their most expensive piece of equipment was the portable LED-based light, it still was a two-person minimum matter. We have the capacity for audio reports to be recorded on the floor. While our person on the floor is recording, I will be outside editing. As the recent techcrunch50+2 showed, banking on having usable WiFi is not necessarily a viable proposition. As such, we will have no way to receive feedback while at the show. This is why Blake's post noted that there is a deadline to get feedback before we have to go get media credentials. Once the show starts and we are there, it will be the engineer's judgment supplemented by my advice. The information gathering strategy we have is something librarians might not be used to. The first round will involve having the engineer out on the floor without a voice recorder but with a writing utensil and a notebook observing. After that we'll review things against inquiry priorities that were established beforehand as well as any suggestions I may give. Once that is done the engineer returns to the floor to make the rounds while occasionally bringing me back audio files to review. My purpose in reviewing the audio files would be to see if follow-ups were needed. On the second day such would also include hopefully getting started on editing work so that the podcast can be released on time. BlogWorldExpo is a very rich environment full of vendors that offer things to libraries and librarians. With recent attempts at incarnating a Library 2.0 culture using such tools, representatives of the vendors libraries rely on will be available. These will not be vendors specific to the library profession by any stretch of imagination. As libraries and librarians start to reach beyond our own little niche, though, we eventually do have to engage with the world around us. What we are trying to do is to produce something that meets the needs of librarians rather than general tech reporting offered by an outlet like CNET. CNET has a general audience and that has worked for them well enough to where they have been bought by CBS. LISTen really doesn't serve a general audience so it behooves us to focus on what the audience wants to learn. Who knows? Perhaps someone might suggest an area of inquiry that CNET would not follow up on? While this may seem hideously complex, it really isn't. This is the way news-gathering and reporting happens. The only reason it seems to be complex is that we are trying to be open and transparent about such so that others can learn. Look at LISTen as being akin to a teaching hospital without a Dr. House rambling around the halls. If someone was really interested in doing so, this would be an easily adapted strategy for covering ALA Mid-Winter by folks other than LISTen perhaps. Feel free to ping us as Blake describes.
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About the experimental transcript offering

A few thoughts about the experimental transcript offering:
  1. This was an experiment that I did not initiate. Someone else on the Las Vegas end of things kicked this one off.
  2. The experiment that was initiated by someone other than me had the stipulation that an offering could not be free.
  3. In setting the price, the object was to ensure that there was some revenue being developed. There is hardly any profit to this.
  4. The use of Lulu has several reasons behind it. First and foremost it allows the outsourcing of many business functions I do not want to deal with. Reporting sales tax collection to the state authorities in Nevada is not fun and is a pain in the backside for small entities. Secondly it allows for outsourcing of fulfillment to an entity with infrastructure for effectively handling that.
  5. Transcript copies are offered as digital downloads as well as print versions. The print version was put together to be okay for adding to collections. There was debate about creating a vendor CIP record for such but timings did not allow that.
  6. To paraphrase the person who started this, talk is cheap so put your money where your mouth is. The reason why the transcript offering has a cost attached to it is to help bring up the issue of commitment. While the current episode was easy to put a transcript together for the problem arises in about eighteen days when BlogWorldExpo 2008 kicks off and there are floor interviews. For the work that that would require, some level of commitment would have to be exhibited before the event.
  7. Is there a magic number that needs to be reached? To the best of my knowledge, no. Then again, that is not something that I will be judging. The numbers from downloads and plays may well be considered against any sales figures that develop. Such just helps flesh out whether one thing needs to be prioritized over the other. If there were a massive turnout for the podcast but not for the transcript, then our focus would be more on the podcast. If things were otherwise then that may lead to some interesting discussion about where things may go.
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Trying the LibraryThing widget

And this is set to randomize on load:
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Saying with slides and sound

Mixing a little bit of Keynote with Garageband and showing odd colors, hopefully something is conveyed:
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Morning hours

Sometimes recording interviews is not simple. There can be much involved in preparing. As I write I am wondering when I might fall back asleep (tried once already and failed) after getting up well before dawn. Working across time zones can be hard in scheduling things because if an interview subject on the east coast of the United States wants to talk at 8 AM their local time, I have to be up by 4:45 AM at the latest Pacific time. The engineer for the production has to be up quite a bit earlier to make sure everything fires up and doesn't die.

LISTen #32 should be interesting. I had the chance very early this morning to talk to a representative of the Department of Homeland Security. For the sake of librarians curious about recent laptop "seizure" news I tried to get an agency rep on to speak directly about the matter. Twitter for me sometimes serves a similar purpose to having a radio scanner running in a news room. Sometimes it is best to just see what trends, issues, or concerns may pop up. This is one of those cases.

Getting a rep lined up was not easy. Lining up interviews for the program is not easy, for that matter. Work to get a representative to speak started on Monday and continued during. I got bounced around a few times among component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, after all that bouncing around, I wound up hitting the departmental press team in DC. From start to the finish this morning that took about a week.

There is a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes as of late. For the most part the only folks who get to hear about it are family as well as Blake. I enjoy getting good programming out there but I will say that it is not easy. There is no magical code word to utter to make interviews just happen. While folks like Rush Limbaugh and the ladies on The View have people who do booking, I pretty much have to do that myself. That gets interesting in and of itself sometimes as it is sometimes difficult work.

Sometimes I just like to show some behind the scenes stuff about how things work out. While it may sound easy on the podcast, there is a ton of work involved. Hopefully it pays off for listeners.

Right now the big issue I have to ponder is why we have nothing showing up in the iTunes Music Store and there are presently no download links or embedded audio players. This may or may not have something to do with the move to ibiblio and inquiries are underway. Part of the work that is involved in my part is making sure I have backup plans ready. Today involves probably some prototyping, I think.

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Testing something in editing I haven't tried before

This shows a nice intersection between iMovie and GarageBand as tools: Granted, I did have that one relative offer to build something running Cinelerra but I do not think that the time is ripe for that yet.
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As to my previous blog post

The previous post which apparently touched quite of bit of nerves has been deleted. It shall not return.

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I am posting this early although it is a draft script and quite subject to revision prior to airing on the next episode of LISTen.

As this is recorded, ALA Annual 2008 is underway. I will admit upfront that I am not a member of the American Library Association and never have been. I simply cannot afford it while I can afford Christian College Librarians which is headquartered at Harding University in Arkansas. I can manage annual dues of twenty dollars far more easily than what is asked by ALA.

While following Twitter and lurking on Blip-Dot-T-V, I have noticed some things. While librarians are supposed to be masters of information, we cannot present it all that well. Although we like the new vistas opened to us by today's great Web 2.0 tools, we are somewhat lacking in understanding how to use them effectively to serve those we are supposed to serve.

When I see a technology thought leader post a video running only seven minutes but with a file size in excess of three hundred megabytes I cringe. When I see Twitter used for things it was never meant to support I cringe. I wouldn't be surprised if such was why Twitter would not even give me a "fail whale" for a good chunk of Friday as ALA Annual began with I presume plenty of tweeting librarians.

Just as much as there are style guides for students who write papers, there are also guides for production. We try to follow a blend of TV and radio pacing in the production of LISTen where our "ads" are used basically as transitions between segments. There are styles of presentation that exist and can be chosen among. When we produce for video we follow prevailing standards for how things are done in that form. We rarely release things in video with dimensions beyond 720 by 480 pixels because that is equivalent to analog broadcast television in North America already. While we could provide more resolution the problem is a lack of viewers who can use such. Sticking to a web standard of 320 by 240 pixels in MPEG4 format allows us to post video that is the most portable whether watching it on-screen, on an iPod, or eventually on a device like an iPhone. For other cell phone types, 3GP is the encoding standard used to knock things down to a format accessible over current networks even though it is somewhat degraded through fairly severe compression.

While I see "disruptive technology" applauded, I can say it is perhaps a mis-appropriation of a phrase. Librarians have championed disruptive technology advances in the past. The engineering feat that was the shared academic catalog now known as WorldCat is one of them that continues today to impact the world around us. My biggest fear, though, is that we use that turn of phrase as an excuse for creating things with tools we don't know fully how to utilize and to accept such produced items regardless of their quality.

I am sometimes outright horrified at what I do see by way of Twitter in terms of what is being said at ALA Annual as to tech. While we fancy ourselves as being quite adept at tech, it should be noted that systems administration abilities to keep an integrated library system running do not translate well into handling Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro let alone Audacity. We do not teach showmanship in library school and assume that students pick such up during their undergraduate studies. In a world where we are expected to perform for an amorphous, faceless audience, librarians are ill-equipped to handle things. Just as much as we can "write" with Word we cannot have something accepted if style conventions are not followed. Why is it any different from the tech tools we have like YouTube and social networks?

We must avoid the cloister. Librarianship is turning upon itself to be a monastery that keeps to its seemingly pious works while feeling it does good for a world it is increasingly not connected to. I can only hope that we are at a precipice now rather than having already taken a leap off it.

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