A few weeks ago Scarab, the 10inch netbook I’ve been using as a desktop for two years, starting showing serious signs of imminent death.  I’ve been meaning to replace it with an actual desktop for ages and ages, but it’s been so long since I bought a desktop that I wanted to do a lot of research to make sure I made a good choice.  I’d been meaning to do that for about a year, and between being behind on everything and needing to get ahead of stuff before going to LA for WotF, I wasn’t going to get that time before Scarab was likely to give up completely.  So I did the next rational thing and went for the cheapest desktop with a decent processor I could find.  He’s named Miles and shortly after I got him, I was making huge leaps and bounds toward catching up on things.  Apparently all those minutes I was losing every time I wanted to open a PDF really add up.

Part of what was awesome about Miles is that he’s powerful enough that I can actually run programs under Wine, which means the few things I had to boot into Windows to do no longer require any such reboot.  Hurray!  So I started doing my recording for the Strange Horizons podcast under Linux, in Audacity.  And the Audacity interface is massively superior for podcasting to the software I had been using, per my roommate’s recommendation.  I should have known better – his recs are coming from music recording, so his needs are not actually all that similar to mine.

Then I recorded a bunch of podcasts, including today’s, put them up, and ran away to LA for a week.  I was ahead! It was a miracle!  I’d just have to edit the file when I got home, not find time when I could be alone in the house with no road traffic and a quiet cat to record. (This is very hard to accomplish in the spring)

Shortly after I got home from LA, the concerned emails started trickling in.  They came down to very polite, tactful variants on, “So, your sound quality just took a huge face dive. You having problems, or just stricken by sudden incompetence?”

[Insert record-scritching noises here]

I’d been smug because the files all sounded SO MUCH BETTER.  This was, apparently, because even on the same headphones, the output from Scarab was not representative of how it sounded on other things, Miles improved the sound, but it was objectively less good.  I had no idea until I took some files over to a different device, at which point anybody who’d been there to see would have had a rare opportunity to point and go, “Hey look, Anaea’s deeply embarrassed!”

Deeply, deeply embarrassed.

So did some reading.  And some re-mastering.  And then I applied what I learned to the file for today’s podcast.  It was going to sound great!

Except, no.  For the first five minutes, you can hear the roommate who came home rihgt as I started recording talking on the phone.  The next ten minutes are full of Idi yowling in the background. These were sounds from downstairs, which the mic doesn’t usually pick up very well, but they were very clear now.

I completely gave up when I could hear the neighbor’s leaf blower start.

And then re-recorded the whole thing from scratch Saturday night.

Dear whole world: I’ve learned now.  Sorry about the rough patch.  I’m going to look into what I can do to fix it.

This story has a happy ending, though.  You see, Strange Horizons got nominated for a Hugo!  This is utterly fantastically awesome news which I didn’t actually expect for reasons involving me not paying enough attention to the world. Since I had to re-record this week’s podcast anyway, I got to announce our nomination at the beginning of the podcast, which I wouldn’t have done if we’d used the file I recorded two weeks before the news came out.  Happy ending!  Hugo noms! Everything is awesome!!


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