This Youtube stuff is hard

I’ve been trying to dabble in making Youtube videos for a few years now. Making videos is something I’m having to learn and so far I’ve learned it’s harder and more time consuming than I’d thought it would be. But that’s ok.

I’d watched a video on how to make a Youtube channel, and the guy said that it took about 35 videos before they didn’t suck anymore. 7 down, 28 to go.

Yesterday I decided to make a video on how to fix a broken Moleskine band. You know, the elastic band that wraps around a Moleskine notebook. Anyway, I dragged a lot of equipment downstairs in an effort to make a two-camera setup to both learn how to do that and show how to fix the broken band.

Several hours and many trips up and down the stairs later I had a setup that was getting the angles I needed. The lighting was far less than good, but the enemy of better is best.

A few takes later I had some footage that looked kinda awful but sounded ok, and realized that I needed better lighting.

Well, I’ve known that for a long time, and finally ordered a few lights on the river and ended up tidying the shop and doing a little web surfing. While doing that I remembered that Adam Savage, who makes some of the most engaging vids in his shop just uses his iPhone for many of them. Hmmmm…

Ok, so I tried again using my iPad for the ‘talking head’ shot, and my iPhone for the close-up, and other than way too many jump cuts and the usual mistakes from lack of practice, it looked and sounded ok.

Wow. There go my plans for buying all kinds of new camera gear!

Well, I’ll still get the lights.

Nice cheap notebooks

So a long while back I used to journal in the pocket size Moleskine notebooks – the ubiquitous black hardcover ones. They worked pretty well but I slowly moved up the sizes until I was using the Leuchtturm1917 master dots size. A great size with lots of space, but hard to carry anywhere, so I slid back down to the BookFactory blank books in the 8×10 size. Also a nice size, but not so good for travel.

After eventually going all the way back down to Fieldnotes notebooks in a leather cover I’d made, I realized that’s too small. But I like the cover and I liked the slim volumes. Just needed the next size up.

I went looking for refills that were the 5×8 size, dot grid, and not too expensive. Moleskine ruined their Cahier notebooks by making 25% of the pages perforated. Leuchtturm1917 did even worse my ruining the entire book – the whole thing is perforated. I know a lot of folks want pages perforated so they can tear them out, but I’m not one of those people.

Looking on Amazon I found these: XYark 12 Pack Dot Grid Notebook Journals

The arrived in a nice stack in a plastic bag, are just what I expected. Stitch bound, not perforated, dot grid. The paper is thin and the cover is just a bit thicker. I didn’t buy them to survive on their own – they’ll be in a leather cover – so these seem about perfect.

Fieldnotes with leather cover, left. New notebooks, right.
Fieldnotes with leather cover, left. New notebooks, right.

60 pages is about 1/4 of what is in a Leuchtturm1917 notebook of the same size, so I figure I’ll go through about three or four of these in a year. I used to want notebooks to last for as many months of journaling as possible, but I’ve found I really don’t look back that often away from home.

The paper is not fantastic, but it’s easily as good as Moleskine, about the same as Leuchtturm’s. A cursory test with fountain pen ink showed no bleed using Noodler’s black that had been in a pen for quite a while, in a TWSBI pen that leaves a wet line. Parker roller ball was the same. Writing very slowly it was a little more apparent from the other side, but not what I would call bleed through. The dot grid is a bit darker than Leuchtturm1917, which was off putting at first but now I’m over it.

Leuchtturm1917 dot grid top, new notebook dot grid bottom.
Leuchtturm1917 dot grid top, new notebook dot grid bottom.

$20 for 12 books, 720 pages, or about 1/3 the price of Leuchtturm1917 large notebooks. No pocket, no page numbers, no index, no perforations, no silly promise about rewards.

Mastodon making it fun again

So like a lot of folks, I’ve decided to move away from Twitter and over to Mastodon. While it feels a little empty from a big-media perspective, it also feels way more fun.

Maybe it’s the lack of the audience-building vibe that seems to permeate everything on twitter. Mastodon has a fresher less follower-count focused feeling to it.

A VHF/UHF handheld activity proposal

With as many folks out there who have HTs, surely there is some way to get them more engaged, make everyone a better operator, and build some community.

Here’s an idea to do that – but it’s just the start really. I’ve put some details that need to be sorted out as questions. I’d like to hear your feedback in the comments.

I’m sure this has been tried before – anyone have the details?


  1. Get people on the air
  2. Build community
  3. Learn to communicate effectively
  4. Use the most common equipment – VHR/UHF FM HT’s

Key elements

  1. Enough structure that newbies aren’t struggling with what to say or how to say it.
  2. Simple to get involved – minimal apps, or other stuff to sign up for or get. Maybe one site to register with & upload logs to.
  3. Communicate over large distances
  4. Points/awards/accomplishment/collections


  1. The originator calls other hams using an HT and transfers a short, simple message. Maybe more of a token – three letter-number pairs let’s say. The originator logs each contact made, with UTC, and 8-digit grid square, and message.
    • How do they know who to call?
    • How does this get started?
    • How do they know what the destination is?
    • How do the recipients know to be on air?
    • What frequency should people use?
  2. Each of the recipients logs the contact, with UTC, 8-digit sub grid, and message.
    • How do the recipients know to be on air?
    • Maybe the event is spotted via dtmf tones?
    • Maybe they’re just monitoring?
  3. Those recipients then each call other operators and the cycle repeats.
    • How does everyone know where the message got to?
    • How does everyone know if it worked?
    • Some kind of instant logging network so people can see what’s happening?
  4. The logs are all submitted to a site & evaluated.
    • A chain is identified as the log entries that all have the exact same token/message. If someone gets it wrong, the chain is broken because those log entries won’t match.
    • Everyone in a chain gets credit for the sub grid squares from the start to their station.
    • Operators get credit for each confirmed QSO.
    • The folks who are part of the operator to operator sequence that reaches the destination get credit for all the sub grid squares in the sequence.
    • Extra points for speed.
  5. There would be some kind of site with stats on chains – longest chain by distance or links, fastest chain, top chain operators, etc.

So there it is. What do you think? Would this get people on air?

On Learning Python with Coursera

So my normal way of learning a new language or computer tool is pretty simple and probably the way most people do it: Dive in.

There’s a problem that lead to that language, google to find & install the tools, and then google to solve the problem. Repeat until the solution is good enough.

It can be slow but rewarding and it works. The price is certainly right.

The upside is that you never have to learn the tedious rules of the ‘proper’ way to do things, and you mostly learn the theory by doing. The downside is that it sometimes leaves me wondering, when I’ve solved a problem in some awkward way, “How would a properly trained person do this?”

Also because each of us has a blindspot and is enormously stupid in our own particular way, there will be some epic stupid programmer tricks. Yes, frustration is the pain you feel just before you learn something but no one really likes pain.

So when I decided the forecasting & other predictive stuff we’ve been needing to up our game on needed some attention I decided to use Python. Not knowing Python, I was tempted to just jump in but while I was reading a post by Lisa A. Chalaguine and saw her recommendation for the Coursera course Python for Data Science, AI, and Machine Learning Sounds perfect!

So I took the course. They say it’s a 5-week course assuming you finish one module a week. I finished in a bit over 24 hours elapsed time, maybe 7-hours of course time.

The title of the class is a bit aspirational. Yes, I did learn some Python but it was more learning about what was possible than actually how to do things. It was like watching a half-hour segment on HGTV on how to install a swimming pool. Sure, they mention all the big steps (decide where to dig, dig, put in liner, hook up plumbing, pave deck, fill and swim!) but you know you’re not really getting the full dish.

Well that’s ok. When I was signing up for the course they asked what certificate or degree I as pursuing. I’ve got two degrees, and I’m not interested to pay for more, so I decided on a certificate and on the list of courses was a more useful sounding Data Analysis with Python. This was much more useful. Covers all the major aspects – data cleaning, regression, multiple regression, testing, and more importantly the automation of the model.

A bit of hands on to solidify things in a final project module, and already I feel like I’ve got a reasonable foundation to start from.

Will I continue with the other three courses needed for the certification? Well, the 7-day trial ends in three days and I think I can make it.

Soundcloud vs Bandcamp

While it’s easy to find place to put written content on the web, audio content is less easy than just using a blogging site like WordPress.

Podcasts have an entire ecosystem of hosting providers, aggregators, etc.

But what about the other stuff like field recordings, ambiances, and other audio? Content that’s not exactly a podcast, not music, maybe serial at times? For those of us wanting to post that kind of content there are two main options I’ve found: Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Both sites were originated to host indie music, and both cater mainly to that crowd.

But for field recordists the use case is near enough the same that they work that purpose as well. So for field recordings how do they compare?


BandCamp is free, and there doesn’t seem to be any storage limit beyond the 291mb limit on tracks. They offer a Pro version for $10/mo, which includes a variety of features, but they’re aimed at more complete branding & stats.

Soundcloud is free for the first three hours of recordings, but after that you’re going to need to shell out for a pro account at $16/month or $144/year. The Pro account also adds other features, like the ability to modify a track without losing stats history.


The iOS app for Soundcloud does mostly everything, albeit not everything the website does, but you can post files, look at stats, etc. The app for band camp is a listener app, and then there’s another app for artists & labels that lets you see stats, but neither let you post. So BandCamp requires a computer for posting where SC can post on the go.


In Soundcloud tracks are monetized using some method that Soundcloud controls, and there’s no way to price a track specifically.

BandCamp offers far more control over pricing. You can price each track and album, you can let buyers choose their own price, or things can be free. However there is a limit on free downloads of 200/month.

While Soundcloud limits free uploads, Bandcamp limits free downloads.

Audio Quality

Both support lossless uploads, Bandcamp actually only accepts lossless formats. Both support downloads, with Soundcloud providing the original file, and Bandcamp offering conversion to 6 formats.


Soundcloud has integration with a few editors – Twisted Wave, Hindenburg, etc. You can schedule posts to release on a date & time, a great feature if you’re doing more serial podcast or podcasty stuff. Soundcloud will also publish from their app.

BandCamp requires a regular browser to publish, and as yet does not have any editor integration.

Field Recordist Presence/Community

Because A Sound Effect requires library contributors to send a link to a SC demo for submitted libraries, a lot of recordists are nudged in that direction and all the major folks (i.e. Watson Wu, Frank Bry, etc.) have a presence there even if the last post might be years ago. More importantly there a lots of more casual folks who post stuff from vacations or recordings they make offhand. This forms a community that I haven’t been able to find on Bandcamp.

Instead, Bandcamp has more folks selling sound effects libraries. This makes sense because the platform is suited to it, but if you’re looking for recordings with a particular mic or recorder to see how things sound you’re less likely to find it on Bandcamp than on Soundcloud.

In Soundcloud each user is both a fan and an artist – you can post, follow, listen all from one account.

In Bandcamp, there are fan accounts that follow bands and buy tracks, and artist accounts that post tracks and albums. Multiple accounts can be linked to a single login, but there’s no way for an artist account to follow another artist. Instead, it’s the artist’s fan account that does the following. This separation of fan and artist is part of what gives Bandcamp a very distinct, capitalist sort of feel. In Soundcloud everyone is the same, not in Bandcamp.

Last but not least, Bandcamp has a more rigid feel than Soundcloud. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but posting non-music stuff there feels wrong, like I’m parking someplace that maybe isn’t a parking place.


What about finding recordings to listen to, or finding recordings made with specific gear? Do a search for ‘MixPre6’ on Soundcloud and you get recordings made with that recorder. This is really useful for researching new mics, or being reminded of how little impact the gear has on the final product.

Do the same search on Bandcamp and you get tracks with ‘Mix’ in the title, or ‘Pre’, or maybe just something close. It doesn’t seem to search the description or the tags.

On Soundcloud the genre can be ‘Other’ with a custom field, so there’s a way to make postings have the genre of ‘field recording’, which you can’t do on Bandcamp, although you can tag it. On Bandcamp we’re stuck with ‘Ambient’ or ‘Experimental’, but I bet the fans of those genres are annoyed by recordings of forests, beaches, etc. turning up in their results.

Bandcamp does have a ‘discover’ feature with a genre filter, but there’s no ability to filter by tag.

Branding & Stats

Bandcamp wins here with quite a lot of control over what landing page fans are directed to, what that page looks like, even what the URL is including custom domains under a Pro account.

Soundcloud allows a custom header image, and not much else.

Both sites offer pretty complete stats on the main dimensions of plays, follows, likes, and downloads. Bandcamp also includes purchases.

Other Features

BandCamp has several other features that should not be overlooked:

Follower community

A place to post info to your followers, and there are comments. It includes email distribution to the followers.

Merch store

Allows you to sell t-shirts or whatever other merchandise you want to.

Live streams

Not sure what value this has in the context of field recording, but Bandcamp provides a way to live stream content.


If I was promoting my own band or music Bandcamp would be the obvious choice. It has more of the features I’d be looking for and a better back end from a business perspective.

If I was selling sound effect libraries, I’d still probably go with Bandcamp. But I’d also have a demo on Soundcloud because I’d probably end up needing it for one of the library aggregators. I’d love to hear whether the folks who are selling libraries on Bandcamp as well as a personal site see significant revenue from Bandcamp.

For myself and maybe for field recording in general Bandcamp is less of a fit.

I’m not selling libraries (yet?), and it’s unlikely much revenue is going to come from my recordings as they are. So the monetization features are not so important. Nor is merch or live streams.

My goal is to get a few likes, a few follows, and be part of a community as I enjoy this hobby and develop some craft. Right now that community is on Soundcloud more than Bandcamp. I’m also more likely to post more often if posting is easier, which it is via editor integrations.

So, sacrifice community for a free experience, or pay for the community?

If it’s just a hobby that’s not bringing in revenue why use a service I’d have to pay for? While it’s more likely to bring in revenue on the service that has better monetization, if no one can find it, or ever runs across it, the point is moot. My stuff gets heard on Soundcloud, not so much on Bandcamp.

While the fee for Soundcloud is annoying I have to acknowledge folks are paying it, thus there is value there.

[UPDATE] Despite what I wrote above, I decided to let my Soundcloud subscription lapse because I haven’t been posting (or even recording) regularly enough. But that’s a gap on my side, not theirs.

What about, Radio Aporee, etc?

Freesound is really aimed at sound effects, less so at ambiances, and even less so for any kind of serial or album-style presentation.

Radio Aporee is very cool, and I need to do more there. It is a way to put ambiances on a map, and so you can zoom in and hear the sounds of a place. It’s fascinating to listen to, amazing how much and how different places can sound, even at the same time. It is specialized though, and not a fit for serialized works.

Podcast solutions, like iTunes or Spotify, aren’t a good fit for anything that’s not a podcast – serial work, all with a common theme of some kind.

Solving the Mutli-Channel Audio Detected error using MixPre with FiLMiC Pro

So you’ve got your Sound Devices MixPre recorder and you want to connect digitally to your iPhone to get some audio into FiLMiC Pro. You connected a USB-A cable between the phone and recorder (because if you use USB C your phone ends up powering the recorder, which sucks, and a USB-A cable allows your phone to be charged by the recorder which rocks) and you selected your recorder in the audio area.

But, when you hit record in FiLMiC Pro you got a message saying the Muilti-Channel Audio Detected, and it won’t work.

There’s a trick. You have to set the USB Audio, in the system menu, to Stereo Out instead of Normal. In Normal, it outputs all the channels. In Stereo, it’s just two.

Change the setting here from this:

To this:

And Voila! Now your MixPre recorder will deliver awesome audio to FiLMiC Pro on your iPhone or iPad.

Excessive interviews could save you

I see a lot of posts & comments where folks are complaining about having to interview with more than a few people for a new position at a company. It seems like these folks think just the future boss, and maybe one other person should be enough. Since interviews are hard, we should have less of them, seems the overall vibe.

Well, maybe, but in my experience it depends on how you look at it.

When I interviewed for my current role I met with each of 5 senior management folks & their teams, in groups ranging from 1 to 6 people, as well as the CEO , HR, and the guy who was hiring me (twice, actually). Yeah, it was a hella long day and I was pretty limp at the end.

While that might have been overkill, I realized something after I started the job. All those people I interviewed with were part of a round table to evaluate the candidates and were able to not only voice their views on me, but hear why the manager wanted to hire me.

Now some were rooting for me, and maybe some against me, but all had some level of ownership. As a result when I started and I was going to various departments to learn processes and gather info while building a data warehouse I ran into few obstacles. I have no doubt it was because I was someone they’d met and had their say on, instead of some stranger selected in secret by the Adminisphere.

So if you’re in your nth round of interviews for a job, try to take comfort in that if you get hired, you’ll be working with fewer strangers, and folks will be more invested in your success.

Solution for iPad that won’t charge

Got an iPad Pro that won’t charge? Tried resetting it and that didn’t work? Same here. I can’t guarantee a fix, but this worked for me and has a few times now:

  1. Let the iPad die – all the way. This may take a day or so, but let it get down to where it shuts off.
  2. Then hold the power button until you get it to start up again. Keep doing that occasionally until holding the power button results in the screen that shows the dead battery and power cable instead of starting the iPad. It might take a while for the battery to die enough for this to happen, maybe a day or two or three.
  3. See if it will charge then. Mine always has.

So, you might be wondering why I have had this happen several times. Well, it took me a while a to figure out the cause but I think I’ve nailed it down. It’s when I use a wired ethernet adapter. I’ve used two different ones, and it happens after it’s been connected for more than a day or so.

I’m in the process of doing a photo library export to a network-attached storage system, and that’s why I need an iPad up and connect to the net for days at a time.

Why does the long-term ethernet connection result in no charging? No idea. If anyone knows, please comment.

Zoom H1n As Only Recorder

In late 2021 we took a trip to my wife’s childhood home of Miami, Florida. We spent several days see some sites, visiting some folks, and spending time with her mother.

After the trip to Maine earlier that year where I brought the MixPre6ii and multiple mics, I decided to try the other end of the spectrum. I brought only my Zoom H1n.

For wind protection I brought a foam I’d bought online, and over that the Zoom furry from my H2n. I’d figured it would be enough. Only half right. It worked ok for mild breezes, but the 10mph on the beach required the high pass filter and even then wind was audible.

Sitting in the 3rd row of a minivan trying to catch banter between the driver and front row passenger doesn’t work very well, but noise reduction helps – more on that in another post.

Handling noise is not so great. It’s pretty intrusive to the recordings vs. a normal handheld mic. The noise can be avoided with careful handling, but any movement between hand and recorder is noisy.

Startup time is a problem with large memory cards, and with smaller (4GB) cards its down to 4 seconds.

Sound quality is good enough for clear intelligibility, I didn’t really have an issue with the sound quality while listening back. With music it might be different but the combination of voice and general sounds came through ok. The MixPre6 has less noise, and it paired with a ‘real’ microphone sounds better, but not game-changing better.

The level control is a bit fiddly – between 5 and 7 it doesn’t seem to have much effect based on the meter, but above 7 it ramps up quickly – so I just left it at 5-6 and that worked for most everything. I did not use the limiter, but did use the high pass filter sometimes.

Setting the filename to be the date & time made post processing pretty easy. It would be better if I could add meta data to the recording while it was in the recorder, like the MixPre. I missed the bluetooth functionality a bit.

I started out using nimh rechargeable batteries, but picked up lithiums during the trip.

Warning: If you set the battery type to lithium you will not be able to use nimh batteries until you get it set back. This may require a fresh set of lithiums to get the battery level high enough to allow the recorder to run

Battery life with lithiums was enough for most of not all the trip. I will definitely use those going forward.

I like that the H1n is small enough that it doesn’t attract much attention. It can be set down on a bench or thigh, or even tucked into a shirt pocket (with substantial risk of noise when moving) for hands-free operation.

I don’t like the wind protection. It obscures the level control, and isn’t strong enough in anything more than a stiff breeze. I’ve purchased a Rycote windhover, which seems to be more effective.

Would I take it again or is there a better alternative?

While the H1n is small enough that it’s not much bother to take along, I think there may be better options that would have me very tempted:

Tascam DR-10x

Bigger package, omni mic, better wind protection, mono only.

Zoom H2n

Better wind protection, front and back stereo could be mixed to mono, has pre-record

MixPre + regular mic

Best sound quality, very big package, better metadata and longer pre-record.