Getting better sound out of a Zoom H2 (or any recording device or microphone)

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zoom recorder padding for better audio

The Zoom H2 handy recorder is an amazing recording device. As are the other Zoom devices that have come out, the Zoom H4, Zoom H4n, the Zoom Q3HD. All are what I call (and coined the phrase for, in 2008) the “Studio on a stick.” I use a Zoom H2 on a gooseneck stand to get amazing quality sound on my Freedom Feens podcast.

But the Zoom’s recording quality is only as good as the sound in the room. If you’re recording in a room with a lot of bare walls you’re still going to get echoy sound. That’s why I came up with the idea of a quick and cheap sound baffle that slips over the end of the Zoom, and cuts out almost all ambient sound, recording only the person talking directly in front of it.

Construction is easy, and under a dollar. Simply cut some egg crate foam into a rectangle about one foot by six inches, then tie over the Zoom using shoelace material. Here’s how it attaches on the back:

It helps if you have someone else to put their finger on the knot before you pull it tight.

Here’s how easily it slips off:

For even more acoustic isolation, you can jam another wedge of egg crate foam into the top:

You could use this same technique on any recording device or microphone.

–Michael W. Dean

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VaporSmiths Electronic Cigarettes YouTube Video Review Contest

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ecigs from heaven

I’ve been helping design the new blog for VaporSmiths electronic cigarettes. (Who sponsor the Freedom Feens podcast.) They’re having a great video contest. Check it out and win cool stuff, here:

 

VaporSmiths Electronic Cigarettes YouTube Video Review Contest

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Don’t Let PayPal Freeze Your Funds

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frozen funds

PayPal, as useful as it is, has a nasty habit of freezing funds of people who seek donations for a worthy project but don’t have a government permission slip to do so. There have been several high-profile examples lately of PayPal freezing the donations of everything from buying toys for sick kids to protecting the U.S. Constitution from abuse by police, just because those people didn’t have a 501(c)(3) official tax-free status from the IRS. I’m assuming this is the government’s fault, but PayPal is complicit too.

One of several big issues I have with this, and why I feel PayPal is complicit, is that the PayPal user agreement says nothing about this PayPal rule. I couldn’t find anything about it on the PayPal site in ten minutes of clicking on likely links. And the “setup button page” says nothing about “you must be a licensed 501(c)(3) to use this feature.”

Paypal Make Button Page

PayPal recently froze a whopping 40,000 dollars gathered by patriot sheriff Richard Mack for a Constitutional Sheriffs Conference.

I realized long ago that PayPal does this, and here are my workarounds. (Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, am not giving legal or tax advice, merely stating what I personally do.)

1.I would NEVER keep an amount of money anywhere NEAR 40,000 dollars in my PayPal account. First, it would be a quality problem if I ever got that much in donations. I’ve never even seen that much money at one time in my life, from donations or from working. But I never keep more than 200 dollars in my PayPal account. I either spend it through PayPal on expenses with people who take PayPal (like my web host, which I often pay a year in advance) or cash it out to my bank account and get cash. Spending it through PayPal does not incur a fee. Cashing it out does incur a small fee, but I feel it’s worth it for the safety of not having it socked away somewhere that it could be frozen.

2. I do not have PayPal links that say “Donate.” I either use a “subscribe” link like I have here, with the explanation that subscribing is really a contribution and does not grant additional access, or I use the PayPal donate link code, but substitute the “Donate” button for the old style “PayPal” button (shown below, feel free to grab and host on your site, please do not hotlink from my site).

In both cases, I add this text in bold, to make it clear I am not a non-profit entity under US law:

Make a donation (donations are NOT tax-deductible, but they might just make you feel really really good)

I believe these two methods to be good due diligence against the heartache of having your funds seized.

–Michael W. Dean

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Putting Your Podcast on YouTube

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Podcast On YouTube

I’ve tried putting a podcast episode on YouTube before. I figured, “It can’t hurt, and it might get more listeners who stumble across it on there based on keywords.” I’ve seen it done before, and thought “How hard can it be?”

Our Freedom Feens podcast is audio only. You can’t put an audio-only file on YouTube. It has to be a video file. And it can’t be a blank audio-only video file. It has to be a video file with at least a still image throughout the whole thing.

I tried doing this once, using our podcast logo as the image, and Adobe Premiere as the editor. I’ve edited a feature-length high-def movie on Premiere, I’m a pretty decent editor, and a very computer-savvy guy. I’m the guy my computer-smart friends call when they have a computer problem.

So I figured I could do this in my sleep: pull a WAV file of a podcast episode into the Premiere timeline, drag in our logo, stretch it to the length of the audio, set the In and Out points, and render. I tried it a dozen times with a dozen output settings and every time it crashed about halfway through. It was like voodoo.

Tonight I thought of trying something else, using a MUCH simpler program, Windows Live Movie Maker.

Adobe Premiere suite costs thousands of dollars, is incredibly complex, and is used to edit a lot of what you see on TV, Windows Movie Maker comes installed free on every computer running Windows, is so simple a retarded monkey could use it, and it is made for editing video slideshows for your grandma.

To open Movie Maker, type Windows Live Movie Maker Into your RUN bar:

type Windows Live Movie Maker in your Start Bar

^type Windows Live Movie Maker in your Start Bar

Open the Movie Maker program.

Windows Live Movie Maker

^Windows Live Movie Maker

Click on “Home” near the top left of the program.

Click on “Add Videos and Photos”, and add your still image
.
Click “Add Music” to add your audio (it doesn’t have to be music, ours is talking. It just has to be an audio file.)

Click on “Project” near the middle top of the program, pick Widescreen or Standard. (I picked Standard.)

Click “Fit to Music.” (Important.)

Go to the little down arrow above “Audio Mix” and click it. Click “Save Project As.” Save your movie as what your want your YouTube video to be named.

Go to the little down arrow above “Audio Mix” and click it. Click “Save Movie” and then “Windows Phone Small.” Click “Save” on the box that pops up.

Your movie will render, quickly. It took about ten minutes to render my 106-minute podcast “movie.” The file size was 148 megs, and the audio quality was pretty stunning. Very little loss.

Upload this file to YouTube. Be sure to tag with good, pertinent keywords, and provide a link to your podcast site.

Enjoy!

Michael W. Dean,
Freedom Feens podcast

Check out my final result, here:

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Neema Vedadi Interviews Robin Koerner of Blue Republican

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Neema Vedadi Interviews Robin Koerner of Blue Republicans

Neema Vedadi Interviews Robin Koerner of Blue Republicans [ 50 min 07 s | 114.79 MB ]  Download

Robin Koerner's "Hein-Line"

Neema Vedadi interviews Robin Koerner of Bluerepublican.org and The Huffington Post about why anyone who loves peace and civil liberties should vote for Ron Paul even if they’re Democrats. We also discuss Classical Liberalism, Watching America, the real divide in American politics, breaking the left-right paradigm, and the difference between American and European political discourse.

Robin Koerner

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