Oh, the Audacity!

The icon used by Apple to represent Podcasting.Image via Wikipedia

I’ve officially turned into a podcasting geek, as if I needed any more help in the geek department. I enjoy our semi-kind of bi-weekly get-togethers for LucasCast. In fact, when Trusty Friend Rogue Nine went to the Philippines in December, I went so far as learning not only how to podcast, but also how to edit the podcast. Mind you, I’m not a sound engineer. However, I have faith in my ability To Learn New Things, because I rather like doing that kind of stuff. It’s what’s driven me to join my kids playing plastic guitars in Rock Band at age Permanently-29, take a creative writing class along with learning to break boards in Taekwondo, twittering, and mixing up a proper margarita. I decided I could learn to use the sound-editing program named Audacity.

Despite Trusty Friend Rogue Nine informing me “It’s not the easiest program to use,” I thought I could persevere. What I failed to recognize was that Niner’s definition of ‘not the easiest to use’ is akin to saying ‘it’s not the easiest thing to labor 36 hours and give birth to a 12 pound baby without Good Drugs’ or ‘it’s not the easiest thing to chew lava’. Nonetheless, I decided my faith would carry me.

The programmers of Audacity, however, apparently do not practice the same religion I do. They don’t even speak the same language I do. They speak “Sound Engineering” and “Programming Code”. Clearly, English is a foreign language for them, and it’s not even a second language. It’s maybe 4th or 6th if I’m lucky. Needless to say, the Audacity user manual was some hybrid language of “Sound/Code/English”, pronounced “SoCoglish” for Normal Geeks like you and me. I found it about as comprehensible as “The endoscope was introduced via a 3 mm corneal incision and extended into the posterior chamber and then brought adjacent to the ciliary processes” would be for non-medical speakers. (Translation for those who don’t speak medical: We made a small hole in your eye so we could stick this thingamabob into it and bring it by the watchyamacallit tissue right behind your iris).

The SoCoglish native speakers apparently had been informed at some point that the rest of us were too stupid to speak their language, and thus were completely unable to understand their manual. They kindly obliged us, not by re-writing the manual, but by starting a wiki and a forum on it for us non-SoCoglish-speakers to communicate. This, of course, makes perfect sense, if you’re the kind of person who thinks texting while driving 92 mph during rush hour while adjusting the radio, flipping off the driver next to you, and drinking a 44 ounce Speedway cup of Mountain Dew, all at the same time, makes perfect sense.

So, moments after I received the raw mp3 of episode 14 from Trusty Friend Tobias Reiper, I opened up Audacity. I read the manual. I scratched my head. I read it again. I looked at the mp3, which was doing nothing. I read again. I got a cup of coffee. I switched to the wiki and read some more. An hour later, I had figured out how to import the file into the Audacity program. Progress!!!! It took me 19 hours to edit the first 17 minutes of the podcast, including 2 hours spent trying to figure out how to make a bleep tone to bleep out some of Trusty Friend leXX’s naughty British language. Then I discovered one thing that made me bang my head on the keyboard. I’d forgotten we’d started the podcast over 17 minutes into the podcast.

Eighty hours and a good 3 weeks later, I was finishing up when Trusty Friends Darth Groovy and leXX suggested nuking the podcast, on the theory that the information would no longer be timely and fresh. I informed them that a. I had now learned enough SoCoglish to edit, b. I was 2 minutes away (podcast time, read: 2 hours away in Real People time) from finishing the damned thing, and c. By God It Was Going To Get Posted. I didn’t care if it was so old that crusty blackened moldy bananas looked newborn in comparison, it was getting uploaded. I think I scared them, because they backed away and handed me a funny-looking white jacket and a bottle of Thorazine. You’ll notice the podcast got posted anyway.

Apparently, I became more fluent in SoCoglish and did learn something about podcast editing, because it only took me about 28 hours to edit 64 minutes of LucasCast 15. Being able to put our Gilbert Gottfried impressions on the blooper reel was worth every moment of that work.

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