Monday, August 16, 2010

The spiky ones taste of purple.

A few days ago, Sunny got sick with a pretty standard summer flu-like bug. As always, she did her best to keep from infecting me…but as I said to her at the time, we live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, and I have a compromised immune system thanks to the diabetes. If she's sick, I'm going to get it…end of story.

Well, it struck on Saturday night/Sunday morning. We were up until about 2am recording this week's podcast, and I was feeling absolutely fine when I got into bed at about 2:45…but by 5am I was woken up for the fifteenth time by a coughing fit and the need to blow my nose to keep from suffocating.

Sunday felt surreal. Have you ever had a dream where you realize you're dreaming… but you still don't have 100% control and keep slipping back and forth between thinking you're dreaming and thinking you're awake? That's what my Sunday was.

Oh, and on Sunday, I had to edit and upload the podcast.

It quickly became the most arduous and surreal thing I'd done in a long while.

Usually, the basic edit is easy. I open the podcast in audacity, run a few filters etc to get the sound right, then I just listen through and cut out the dead air and the odd mistake.

The uncut podcast was about one hour fifteen minutes, and the first stage of editing usually takes the length of the uncut podcast plus around 10%…I'm basically listening to the podcast, pausing it when I come to something to cut, they just highlighting the offending portion of audio and pressing delete.

I should have taken me about an hour and a half maximum for this stage, instead it took me over four hours…and I have no idea where the rest of the time went.

Did I just occasionally black out at the keyboard and sit there in silence for twenty minutes at a time?

Then, something really weird happened. Not trusting my own ears very much, I put a copy of the final edit into our shared network folder so Sunny could listen to it before I put it online. She listened to it and told me it was fine…so I uploaded it and got an error back saying the audio was in the wrong format. The audio was fine, but just in case I dropped it back into Audacity, and exported it again with all the right settings.

This time it uploaded fine, but when I tried to play it back, for some reason it was playing back at about 80% speed. We were talking in slow motion. Thinking it was a problem with the website, I downloaded a copy through iTunes…which was also playing back too slowly

I opened the file in Audacity, and sure enough, somewhere along the line the time had been stretched...although I have no idea how. I simply opened audacity, drag and dropped the finished edit (which was fine), then went straight to 'export as mp3'. Somehow, Audacity interpreted that as 'make the podcast sound like the Goa'uld Power Hour'

In the end, after a ton of back and forth with no luck, I just tried to reupload the original audio file, (the one that had been rejected as the wrong format) and it uploaded without any problems.

So let me recap. First, a step that should have taken 90 minutes took over four hours for no reason I can fathom, an audio application that doesn't even have time-stretching as an option did a time stretch without being asked to. My host rejected a perfectly valid file for no reason, which it later accepted despite the fact it was exactly the same file and the whole process was filled with glitchy weirdness.

So, for everyone on Twitter yesterday who messaged me asking where the podcas was, there's your answer. It was late because I was sick and delirious…which meant I was editing it with the same skill and precision as a drugged up chimp trying to operate a forklift.

Seriously…I'm feeling a little bit better today, and even as I'm writing this, I feel like I'm drunk (and I haven't even started on the cough syrup yet)

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