Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm such a geek, take XXII...

This time, though, I'm just catching up with the 21st century in the sense that I'm the proud owner of a shiny new video iPod. The 80GB version no less, and boy, is it cool.

I've actually been a bit resistant to the whole iPod/mp3 player movement, mostly because I do the vast majority of my listening to music either in my car or at my desk, and an mp3 player hasn't exactly been the best solution for either. I've used iTunes for quite a while at my desk (I mostly stock it with music from CDs, which has been an ongoing process), and that makes the separate player redundant. In the car, I don't have an mp3 jack, and the quality of the FM transmitters I've tried has been poor enough to turn me off getting a player for that purpose, at least until I get around to fixing the auxiliary input problem--probably, by replacing the car.

What changed everything, as it turns out, was the opportunity to develop a hybrid version of my Principles of Management course this quarter. My plan was to change the class to 50% face-to-face and 50% online delivery, with the goal of keeping people more interested in what can turn out to be some pretty dry material. Since this is an evening class and evening students tend to be especially intolerant of classes that drag on, I decided to replace half the class meetings with a combination of online videos and exercises, and fieldwork. I had a library of videos I was pretty sure I could edit and convert to streaming media, so I pitched the idea to my department chair and she agreed. Cool. Now all I needed to do was figure out how to get the multimedia stuff together.

Enter the analog-to-digital converter (which is an expensive little bugger if you need a Firewire version) and iMovie. It took a little tinkering to get my first very basic conversion done, but I posted the resulting video and was amazed that people were actually able to view it. Over the next couple of weeks they got a little more complicated, with the most recent offering being a series of CEO profiles spliced together from various items in my library using some cool titles and transitions. I also wanted to make this compatible with portable media devices, but I didn't have a test player so I needed to acquire one. Which made it tax-deductible. And the campus bookstore had good prices. Dang.

So... I got the iPod, the usual assortment of necessary accessories, and I've been experimenting. Tranferred my music over in just a few minutes, and tried it out in the car using one of the aforementioned FM transmitters, with predictable results--L.A. has WAY too many radio stations to allow those things to work particularly well. Then I started poking around in areas of iTunes I hadn't explored before... bought a couple episodes of South Park and one of Law and Order, but I realized pretty quickly that downloading TV shows was going to get expensive, and if watching it wasn't a priority at home, why pay even more for the same stuff?

But then, I discovered free podcasts. OMG--a nirvana for nerds.

Took me all of two days to subscribe to at least 35 of these things. And they're GREAT. I've got everything from the BBC morning headlines, to the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast, to Geekgirl, Slate Magazine, NOVA Vodcast, and the Gay Fun Show: Feast of Fools (which is a side-splitting talk show hosted by--you guessed it--two gay guys). It's sorely tempting to suddenly turn this whole blog into a podcast review, but I'll try to limit that to notables. Meanwhile, though, I'm glad I found all this, because my commute to work was slowly driving me insane, and for news and talk, less-than-crystal sound quality is perfectly adequate.

In other news, I'm working a lot and practicing as much as possible. Work is definitely interesting this quarter--especially so because I ended up with three back-to-back classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, which means six straight hours in front of students. That is challenging enough, but the room scheduling also puts me in three different buildings, complete with a trek across campus between them. I think the full impact of the awkward logistics hit me this past week, when I realized I could either drop equipment off in my office before my next class *OR* go to the bathroom, but I couldn't do both. Yikes. Could be that my next geeky purchase ends up being a skateboard.

Music is also relatively busy. Terry is throwing some polytonal stuff my way which is hard to get my brain around, but fun to work on. The flute chops continue to improve, and I got to play at the Hollywood Bowl this past weekend, which allowed me to take the ultra-cool backstage photo shown here. But with work as busy as it is, I haven't had time to do all that much else. Maybe next quarter things will slow down a bit.

And with that, I'd better get back to paper grading. Sigh. But no geek's blog would be complete without some random YouTube crap. Enjoy.

No comments: