Interview with Siva Vaidhyanathan

Back from audio hell. ^_^

I had the chance to interview Siva Vaidhyanathan yesterday, which was a great experience. He comes across as a very cool guy and he really is an excellent speaker. I had already gotten that impression from students who’d seen him at TLA last year, but it was definitely confirmed. Unlike the other interviews I’ve done, he didn’t get a copy of the questions beforehand. I was really impressed with his articulate responses. Especially since I sound like such a dork. 😛

So on the technology side of things, I was planning to use the same equipment I used when I interviewed Wendy Seltzer. Prof. Vaidhyanathan requested that we make it available for podcasting, so I used a slightly nicer digital audio recorder (though another Olympus DSS), which again I fed into a ClearOne conference phone. Here’s where the fun starts. The conference phone, since last I used it, has developed a short in the power cable somewhere. It uses a sole source (and quite possibly proprietary) cable, so I had no luck finding a replacement part. I managed to get the phone to work, but I had to stick it down next to the Mac on the floor of my office. As a result I was crouching on the floor through most of the interview. ^_^; [Note to self- track down replacement cable and/or phone.]

I messed up pronouncing his name on the phone, of course, which is really just embarrassing since I’ve always been able to pronounce it before. 😛 But the interview went well, and it was very good to get his take on these subjects- Hatch on the IP committee, the state of fair use, etc. Then the real fun began.

The Olympus software allows the conversion from their dss file to a wav file. Great. I converted it into a wav, no problem. Then the editing and conversion came, and abandon all hope ye who enter here.

I first used WavePad, which had some great editing capabilities but for some reason blew the file size up to about 15 times it’s size. So that was a no go. After looking around a bit, I eventually ended up using Camtasia Studio’s Audio Editor. Then I was ready to convert the file to mp3. No problem, right? I’ve done it plenty of times before.
-The Protools box is elsewhere on campus, so I couldn’t use it.
-Audacity and Peak use LameLib to convert to MP3. Lamelib crashed with an MFsize error, I assume because the file size was too large for it to handle. I didn’t find very much information about the error online. This failed process took a long, long time, because I had been trying to edit the files with the noise reduction plug-ins. The first Mac I used crash without an error message. The second Mac I used finally popped up with one. The PC had the same problem. Arg. (Although I swear I’ve converted larger files and longer clips before.)
-Around this time yesterday evening I decided it was time to go home to my wife, and we played WoW for awhile. 😛
-Toast and Jam were having problems that I’m going to need to take a look at when I have more time (trying to make an MP3 CD failed, no specific error listed).
-iTunes wouldn’t even give me the option.
-Most of the other open source tools I found also relied on lame, so the same problems I had with Audacity came up.
-Finally, I looked at Download.com to see what was out there. I stumbled across Cheetah Burner, and it appears to have finally worked. They have my semi-eternal gratitude.

The MP3 will be posted next, as soon as I beg for my course account quota to be increased. ^_-

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