How to Produce a Webcast… part 1

imageI’ve gotten back into the video game.  Years ago I had a web show called RootSync which I produced on a shoestring budget.  It worked well and had nearly 24 episodes (full season in TV terms).  Since then several things happened, I got a “real job”, divorced my Ex, closed my business, found a wonderful new wife, upgraded my job, upgraded my house, now I’m upgrading my broadcasting capabilities.Avatar

My latest venture into webcasting is a News Review called Week In Review.  I’ve worked hard on this show technically and have added so many new technically interesting features to make it happen.  Below is a short list of technical things that need to be learned and sorted out:

  1. Our Host and general theme of the show.
  2. Microsoft Cinema HD USB cameras for capturing high quality video.
  3. Wireless Label Microphones from RadioShack for capturing our hosts audio.
  4. Using a Xenyx1002B audio mixer to bring together both label microphones, Skype audio, and my computer’s audio then feeding them into VidBlaster for broadcasting.
  5. Utilizing VidBlaster for mixing multiple video sources together, broadcasting it over to uStream, and recording it for later post-production.
  6. uStream for the LIVE aspect of our show.  Broadcasting occurs every Friday at 7pm CST and uStream helps us broadcast LIVE.
  7. YouTube for the hosting of our episodes that have been post-produced.
  8. Using Windows Live Movie Maker for Post Production.
  9. iStockPhoto for royalty free videos, pictures and images.
  10. WordPress for hosting the main website which ties it all together.
  11. Publicizing our show by utilizing social networking like Twitter, Facebook, IMAutomator, etc…

I will be going into depth on each of the above technical aspects of the show and hopefully by the end of my Webcasting series you’ll have the knowledge needed to produce your own Webcast.

Our Host

A very important part of any new Webcast web show is your host.  The host must be interesting, insightful, and knowledgeable on the topics to be covered.  It helps if your host has the time to research and find the stories or topics that they would like to talk about in a way that would interest an audience.

David Smith3For my latest Webcast, my friend David will be hosting the show while I get to focus on the technical stuff.  David is a long time friend and has tons to talk about.  He has an actual PHD, he has lived and worked in L.A. during the riots, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Rome, and has ended up in Northwest Arkansas.  His extensive knowledge about a wide array of subjects makes him a very interesting listen and I believe the world would be better with his views shared.

David and I have been meeting every Friday for dinner ever since I can remember.  During our Friday dinners we’d talk about how our weeks have gone and what has happened in the world during the week as well as how those events would effect our lives here in Northwest Arkansas.  A few months ago we decided to record our discussions and share them with everyone and a new show was born.

Now that we have our host and the general theme of the show, it’s time to focus in on the technical aspects.  In part 2, I’ll discuss the video hardware used during our show.

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In-Flight Internet services

The in-flight Internet service from American Airlines is extremely nice. It is very fast for Internet and email as well as for posting to my blog. This allows for keeping in contact with anyone anytime!
The service cost me just under $15 and is keeping up with nearly everything I’m throwing at it. Some of the apps on my iPad vie been using is the word press app of course, the FlightTrack Pro as well as other Internet related applications.

If you are planing a trip in the near future, I’d recommended getting the FlightTrack Pro at it not only maps out your flight paths, but also will give you real time flight tracking. Currently the app is reporting that I am half way thru my flight just over Arizona.

If you have an iPhone, another flight app I would recommend is Flight Update Pro. I’ve been using this app to keep tabs of my flights, the gates, and their current status. I even installed this app on my wifes iPhone and regularly update it with trips I am taking. This let’s her keep track of my flights.
Whenever you want to test your internet connection speed I utilize the SpeedTest app to get the stats of my connection. This app downloads a 1 mb file from the specified source to your device. By doing this you gain information on the speed and quality of your connection. During my Dallas to San Francisco flight, I tested the connection with the following results:

Download Speed: 3.16mbps
Elapsed Time: 25.319 sec

Needless to say if your planning a flight(s) some time soon, be sure you pick up a few apps to make things go easier.

iPad Excitment

I’m really loving my new iPad. I only wish my distributed web server project was going so well.

Basically my distributed web server project is this: I want to have several web and dns servers spread out around North West Arkansas. These servers are all setup through load balancing and round robin techniques to serve up my web pages and supply me with fully redundant dns servers. The main advantage is the redundant nature. I can spend less on servers and Internet connections, oh even power and generators if the website is spread around town at different locations.
I now have two webservers setup around town but having lots of trouble with the websites I want to setup. I started off badly though… I’m trying to setup some one elses websites which are not designed for is kind of environment.
I should start with one of my own projects like the BitRac Client Utility admin website at msp.clientutility.com. This is a website I’ve constructed in asp.net and c# to give me access to all the computers I manage around Northwest Arkansas.

Now at I write this, guess that’s what I’ll do…

I’ll let you know my progress…

Realtors and Technology

I help several Realtors within Northwest Arkansas in my business, Moran IT.  These customers have a particularly need to be extremely mobile.  Over the years several technologies have come out to help them in their business.

But first a little about how a Realtor does business.  Realtors typically spend about 50-60% of their time out in the field, 30-40% in the office researching and marketing their businesses, and the remaining time spent with clients during meetings to close on houses.

As you can see this presents several challenges in order to keep their technology costs low, after all every business must keep costs down to make a profit.

Because of their unique challenges, I have come up with several technology choices to best service this type of business:

imagesMLXchange  This is a software product by their local realtors board that must be used in order to “List” houses on the market.  Basically, the MLXchange software is the “market”. 
Most realtors don’t take full advantage of this cloud-service/app.  For one thing, realtors can keep their entire client-base, including status (searching, selling, etc…), full contact information, personal information like birthdays, and so much more.  Second, the MLXchange software allows the realtor to setup repeat searches designed to email their clients when houses are found that match their criteria.  And so so much more..  (email, calendaring).  This Web App leads me to my second piece of technology for realtors:

verizonNetBook with cellular internet access.  Now I know what your thinking, this will cost too much…but I would like to differ.  Verizon has a $199 down and as low as $39.99/month for an HP Mini netbook with 3g internet access.  This means you can access MLXchange while in front of a house… Just imagine it, you could be showing a client one of several houses, when they ask you something new.  Log into MLXchange via your netbook and have the answer immediately.
Just be sure you pickup the car-charger and possibly setup a “platform” within your vehicle to sit your netbook onto.  I built my own personal laptop mount out of a specially cut piece of Plexiglas, a 1 foot lead pipe and a few screws.

Lastly you’ll need a telephone.  Let’s face it, your a realtor, you need to have some way while in the field for your customers to contact you.  A cellular phone is the absolutely best way to do this.  My phone of choice… an iPhone.  Yes, I know, everyone is jumping onto this band-wagon… but there is a very good reason why people like it so much, this phone just works!  With the million plus add-on apps, ease of use and storage space… I did a quick search and found hundreds of realtor related applications, everything from mortgage calculators to Property search apps… An iPhone would keep you in-touch with the world.  And after all, isn’t part of being a good realtor 110% “being in touch”.

Shameless Plug Warning:  Ok, one last thing you will need to be a realtor on-top of his/her game… a good Tech person.  You need someone who has the expertise to solve any problems with the technologies I’ve recommended here and most importantly the patience to work with customers and not “talk down” to you like most techs out there.  Call Diana or Daniel with Moran IT at 479-250-1112 if your in Northwest Arkansas.  We want to help!!!

See there I go… shameless plugs, tisk, tisk, tisk.  But you know what, it pays the bills… right?

My Blog has Moved!

wlwI decided to move my blog to a different host.  Largely because of the Windows Live Writer and the iPhone WordPress app.  Neither of them was working properly with my old web host due to the fact they wouldn’t recompile their version of apache to fix the tags error.

The move is a good thing and a bad thing.  I have plenty of storage space for pictures and such which is good.  I can use the WLW and iPhone app to post new entries which is really good.  The bad thing I have found out is the limitation of customization.  I can’t use the theme I’ve grown used to… ;-(

All in all I’d say the move is a good one.  Now I can work on posts as drafts saved to my NetBook.  Easily editing them whenever I have the desire and anywhere I am.

Of the various editors I’ve encountered… the Windows Live Writer is one of the very best.  I keep up to date with the latest version too