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I Need Help With WAV to MP3 Conversion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Is there somebody out there that can help me figure something out about audio file conversion. Here’s the things I’m dealing with:

1. Gizmo Project records in .WAV format
2. I have a Mac
3. Audacity works fine until I try to export to mp3 and then all versions I’ve found of LameLib crash the program with an error mssg.
4. Drag and drop into Garage Band sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks, who I have not interviewed.
5. I cannot find any WAV to MP3 conversion software online for Mac that works.

I’ll bet some body out there can help me figure this out. If so, please send me an email at emailmarshall@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you after New Years.

Speaking of which have a good one. And my partner Mikalina sends her regards.

UPDATE: Woo hoo! I think I figured out how to do it! The Gizmo Project forums contained advice to use iTunes to convert to MP3, and I downloaded Cacophony to do the editing with instead of Audacity. I’ll have to see how awesome that is, but it sure looks like it works. Without converting the file to any obscure formats, most importantly! Yay!

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Wow! Wikipedia=Edit This World

Filed under: Wikis — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

So Wikipedia has faced a lot of criticism lately (most of which is silly in my opinion as it presumes that readers ignore the page history in wikis) but continues to prove its worth in many ways.

But the point of this point is to reference a discussion going on elsewhere.

This is a long story to summarize, but I’m going to try:

Kick-ass anti-sexist technologist and blogger Shelley Powers was discussing with Rogers Cadenhead the fact that Wikipedia includes many biographical entries on male bloggers and other technologists, but far fewer women. (“Ladies, Wikipedia is Ours“)

In response, Cadenhead does something really cool (the original inspiration for this post, to be honest) and posts a biographical entry of Susan Mernit, super-technologist, member of the inspirational consulting firm 5iveMedia Group. You can see Mernit’s blog here.

Meanwhile Powers also requested in her original post that someone create a Wikipedia entry for her. Sure enough, Shelley Powers on Wikipedia got a “vote to delete” in a hurry. Within 2 fast days there was so much discussion (overwhelmingly supportive of her inclusion) that the “vote to delete page” on her entry was frozen and archived. That one’s for posterity, you’d better believe. Some people (very few) said Powers’ entry wasn’t of legitimate encyclopedic interest. But she, amongst other things, contributed to a book called Essential Blogging 3 years ago. And she’s still going nuts, blogging about a lot of things both technical and political at Burning Bird.

My take-aways:

  • Wikipedia is media that you can change, and if social justice is important to you – you can change it in ways that still meet the requirement of Neutral Point of View.
  • There’s not enough biographical entries about women in Wikipedia. Anyone can write more.
  • I’m going to make sure I’m subscribed to the feeds of all 3 of the bloggers discussed above.
  • I’m going to tag several of the pages above WebJustice2.0. (Check out that tagstream. Items submitted are slow and subscribers to the feed are way down this month. Is the idea not going to fly?)

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Email Promo/Spam: Where does the line get drawn?

Filed under: Advertising,Podcasts — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Corey Pudhorodsky, creator of the absolutely fantastic 501c3 Cast (a podcast about non-profits with really good interviews and news), asks over at the Net Squared Blog:

I’ve been thinking about beginning to more aggressively email people and organizations that I find on the web who I think might be interested in my podcast. The conceived email would just include a short introduction and invitation to check out the show. I’m sensitive about the unsolicited emails that I receive and this has me thinking, what is spam? If I take the time to find people that I think might be interested in something that I am doing, and send an email to the person, should that exclude me from junk mail category? What if I personalize each email? What if I don’t and just bcc every address? If the email is readily available on the web, does that mean that the person is open to receive solicitations?

My response was that emailing bloggers for coverage (as well as print publications) and then having people learn about your project there, perhaps email their friends about it etc. was a better way to introduce your work to people than unsolicited emails. I’m really not sure, though.

I pointed readers towards a list of the best articles I’ve found on pitching bloggers (http://del.icio.us/tag/pitchingbloggers)
and suggested that subscribing to the RSS feeds of searches for both links to your site and key terms was an important way to engage with the conversation.

What do you think? Is unsolicited email to introduce your project to people you think would be interested – is that spam? Any other thoughts on promoting a podcast about non-profit work? I hope you’ll go over Corey’s post at Net Squared, put in your two cents and check out the conversation (as well as Net Squared itself). I also hope you’ll listen to or subscribe to Corey’s excellent show, the 501c3Cast.

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Site Mod Rockstars – Who’s Your Favorite?

Filed under: Blogging,Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

This morning I discovered Swedish programmer Johan Sundström’s EcmaNaut Blog and am still marveling at the sheer beauty of what he’s done with it. As if that weren’t enough it’s a Blogger site! Have you made fun of anyone lately for having a blog on Blogspot? Well go check out EcmaNaut and you’ll want to repent. It’s not just the use of several Google Maps to show his home and his most 100 recent visitors on multiple scales that’s impressive. Look all over the site and you’ll be impressed. The text will probably be unreadable to all but the most tech savvy (I had to stretch to get the most basic idea of what’s going on there) but it’s basically about a part of the JavaScript programming language family that Sundström used to modify the site. If you’re technically inclined, it seems very cool. Jon Udell wrote an article about how cool EcmaScript is yesterday on Infoworld.

Also in the Site Mod Rockstar category – check out my buddy Justin Kistner’s MySpace profile. See especially the blog post there on the top of the list “ATTN MySpace: Please Don’t Delete My Account.” He’s got a real interesting discussion there about how and why he’s changing the MySpace profile code, how he’d like to work with them on it, and how he doesn’t want to end up like his inspiration Tim Benziger. Benzinger’s MySpace account was shut down after he modified the heck out of the code.

Anyone else have sites in mind from code mod rockstars?

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GMail’s AJAX Spell Check Evolves Further

Filed under: Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Disclaimer: I do not love Google. I may use its websearch all the time, it’s blog search too, its news and image search, it’s maps – etc. but I am not in love with it. There are so many alternatives. See, for example, Jux2, Clusty and Feedster. Heck, MSN Search gets great results and offers RSS feeds for every web search. Beat that! Well, a great spell checker is pretty cool.

Is it just me, or is the GMail spell checker not only one of the best things online but also built with AJAX? And it appears to have just been updated to become way more functional. Like in the last 10 minutes it was updated!

That’s rad. I already use it as my default spell checker for all that blog software out there that doesn’t have spell checking built in. Now it’s even groovier. Check it out, or if you don’t have a GMail account and would like to try one of the best email services available – send me an email and I’ll send you an invite.

Update: I wrote this late last night, and this morning it appears that the spell checker is back to its previous version. The new version allowed you to continue typing in your email after clicking “spell check” – instead of freezing everything in blue like it does now. There were a number of other small, additional features. Knowing Google’s habit of throwing up new services and then taking them down, I should have grabbed a screen shot. It was cool though.

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Dynamic Blog Lists and Promo Work

Filed under: Advertising — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Doing some promo work for a client (Sustainable Energy in Motion Bike Tour) I’m going through the Technorati Blog Finder list to pitch for coverage. Looked at my “sent mail” folder to see where I left off yesterday, but I notice now that the list changes every day! Default view is ranked by “authority” (by number of inbound links indexed by Technorati). That ranking changed since yesterday and all the sudden my list is catywompus. Should have gone through the list alphabetically or Furled it, where I’d get a cached copy of the pages I was looking at as they appeared when I first found them. I was told to email the ones with the biggest audiences first, so Furling the list would have been the best idea.

Just thought I’d post that in case you find yourself in similar circumstances.

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A Review of Web Site Change Detection Services

Filed under: Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Update: So Gary Price at Search Engine Watch has given this article huge link love, and that’s probably why you’re here. I’ll be posting an interview I did with Gary later today (1/4) over at the blog of Net Squared. We talked about the same subject of this post, as well as RSS, teaching search and how ResourceShelf is maintained.

Ok, so every once in awhile I come upon a web page that 1. doesn’t change very often 2. doesn’t offer an RSS feed and 3. I want notification from any time the page changes. Most recently this has been like pages that say “this service is not accepting new accounts right now. we hope to reopen the service to new accounts when we get more servers.” Or, some time ago I was hired by someone concerned about the expansion of a nationwide retailer competing with them and I wanted to know of any little change made to the company’s List of Stores around the country. All too often I find press releases or calender entries on sites that have no RSS feeds and bad link structure, and are thus unscrapable by FeedFire.com. The following works for things like that too.

So, what can you do in such circumstances? You can set up an account with a web site monitoring service. But which one should you use? I found the following via the excellent site Fagan Finder’s URL Info, a boatload of site analysis tools.

Watch That Page
ChangeDetection
ChangeNotes
TrackEngine

Here’s my reviews:

Watch That Page
Offers email notification of changes that have occurred, will send changed text itself or notify you of broken pages. Can be sent daily or weekly at a set time. Offers a bookmarklet you can click on to add any page to your list of pages monitored. Will filter for certain words, but appears to only work across all pages or none, not for particular pages. Basic use is free, but they ask for a $20 donation for priority and professional use. No native support for RSS, but if you could use the following options: 1. an email to receive the notifications that offers RSS feeds of the inbox (GMail does this) or 2. Have the notifications sent to MailFeed. I know that RSS is the only way I’d want to receive any substantial number of these notifications!

So the good news about WatchThatPage is that it will send you the actual text that has changed. This is a widely used service that seems pretty darned reliable.

ChangeDetection

This site is old-school. It only notifies you that things have changed instead of delivering the change to you. It’s targeted towards web masters who want to add a “get email when this page changes” button on one of their pages. Don’t do that. You can do the same thing and lots more with WatchThatPage.

The one advantage to this is that it is very, very easy to use. You don’t have to create an account. You just tell it what URL you want monitored and what email to send notification of any changes to. This could make it nice for some purposes, and I have used it when I was too lazy to go to the trouble of signing in to other services that I forget my username and pw for. But I always end up unsatisfied that I’m not told what it is on a page that has changed.

ChangeNotes

This service does send the actual changed text, which is key. There is a bookmarklet here too. Registration is very, very easy. Just an email and a new password twice. There is also an interesting feature that supports customization for sending change notification to email lists! While I don’t encourage the use of email lists (RSS is way better) it’s a fact of life that many people still use them. After giving it a close look for the first time in awhile, I think this is a really good service.

TrackEngine

Bookmarklet, keyword inclusion and exclusion filtering and best of all – the whole page sent to you with the changed content highlighted in color! Nice! Other options are available too. This is by far the most professional looking service of those reviewed here. A free account is limited to monitoring 5 pages and only checks once per day at most. Now I got pretty excited when I saw that hourly checking for changes was an option. Then I saw that hourly checks were an option for paid users. Then I found out that “Hourly Watch Packages being launched soon – SPECIAL Promotions for folks who express their interest before the launch. Do so now (link to email).” And guess what? That’s what this page on the site said 3 years ago! The wonderful Internet Archive is made for checking up on claims like this (“coming soon!”).

One way or the other, I think TrackEngine still looks like one of the best services available if there are very few pages you anticipate tracking. The color coded highlighting of changes is pretty hard to resist!

Conclusion: Here’s what I’d do. If I was only very rarely finding a page that I really wanted to track changes to, and that is the case for me, then I’d probably sign up with TrackEngine. But both ChangeNotes and WatchThatPage are pretty fair options, and are a better idea if you might end up tracking more than 5 pages. For some of my clients I’m going to subscribe to, for example, antiquated events calenders that don’t have RSS feeds, have the change notification sent to MailFeed and then plop that feed in with the other feeds I’m subscribed to.

Final note: Bandwidth, storage, computing power – these are all things that are way cheaper today than they were 3 to 5 years ago when these services were the hot new thing. The technological changes have opened up a world of possibilities – that’s a big part of Web 2.0. So why, oh why then is no one offering me a service that checks hourly for changes to a web page? I’ve been told by some folks that anything online that’s worth looking at has an RSS feed now. I don’t agree, though I understand the cynicism.

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