Podcasts are NOT hard to make

I have been listening to podcasts for many years now. It’s kind of a natural progression from talk radio, but you can listen to whatever you like. However still lots of people still don’t know about podcasts, so the platform is always going to get bigger.

They have been around for a few years, but now is the real boom time of podcasting. With the great thing being the barrier to entry being more easily available than ever. Sure there are some big players, but lots and lots of individuals that make and publish them online – and to be honest it’s the little ones where you really find some brilliant work.

The Bar is low

Here’s the thing, I have read recently from a couple of places but most notably from the creator of the ‘bumpers’ app – that podcasts are hard to make. Which is annoying because they really aren’t, you can do it all with free software and a bit of time. A ‘podcast’ is just an RSS feed that links to and audio file after all – how simple is that!

For the last 2/3 years I have been appearing on all kinds of podcasts, and over the last year begun to publish my own. I really didn’t realise how quick and simple it could be. I currently produce 2 podcasts a week over at mobiletechtalk.co.uk about technology and you can start too.

• There are loads of free audio recording tools out there, all out team currently use audacity to locally record all audio. This is then ‘mixed’ together later, because ours is conversation based.
• For ‘mixing’, I now use Logic Pro which is an expensive bit of kit. However for a long time I used GarageBand which comes free with all of Apples computers. If you are a Windows user you can use Audacity to edit and remove any mistakes you have made really easily.
• We record all our shows through YouTube live streaming, which is completely free to use. This makes recording even easier if you fancy being on camera too. You can download the recording afterwards and convert this to audio using audacity, you might even make some money in YouTube views too!

• Hosting can be done free of charge on sites like Soundcloud or if you want something a bit extra, very cheaply via libsyn. My total hosting fees for two shows is a lot less than you might think!
• Then you just have to spread you RSS feed as wide as possible, which is an hours work maximum. Submit it to iTunes, Stitcher and Pocketcasts to cover the main platforms, and many more places will pick it up on their own.
• Artwork might take you a bit of time, but consider that you can submit simply a photo you have taken.

The time you spend editing depends on the level on perfection you want, quite often normal conversation is the best thing so a few slips ups are nothing to worry about.
Got a free afternoon? You can easily knock out a podcast and sort out your hosting and distribution. That’s hardly a massive barrier to entry is it? If you need a hand with anything there is a huge network of websites out there to help have a quick Google. Feel free to drop me a line if you need my help and share your podcast with me.

We Need To Talk About Your Privacy

I guess we are all too busy deciding if to leave the EU or if to stay in. Or maybe loosing all our marbles deciding which Oneplus ‘peer’ to give a review device too. However the Labour backed investigatory powers bill has been passed by UK parliament while no one was paying attention.

On Tuesday night, Labour pledged its support for the proposed investigatory powers bill leaving it with 444 votes in support and only 69 in opposition. The controversial bill will now progress to the House of Lords for consideration. Meaning the governments plans to ramp up its surveillance of UK citizens is very much a go!

The SNP, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are still apposed to the dubbed ‘snoopers charter’. Unfortunately Labour support was gained due to the third draft meeting Labour parties Keir Starmer’s ‘significant demands’.

In reality Labour have already supported the new bill, which significantly increases the surveillance levels of UK citizens that are completely innocent. So the bill sails through with no real opposition, despite the government already believing it has much of the powers already.

In 2007, UK spies drew up secret plans to snoop on the activities of “every visible user on the internet”. UK state lawyers admitted six years later that the number of people targeted was an “infinite list”. — The National

Section 94

In fact GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 have been using section 94 of the Telecommunications Act to collect bulk surveillance on the whole of the population for quite some time. As far back as 2004 GCHQ have been circumventing the current UK surveillance laws with little to no oversight.

Bulk surveillance is something many have long suspected, but arguably we would know nothing about the level of intrusion had it not been for Edward Snowdon.
The bulk powers are available and being exercised at the moment under the existing arrangements, by and large — there are some exceptions — therefore what this bill does is put them onto a statutory footing with proper safeguards. — Keir Starmer, Shaddow home office minister.

Despite the fact that GCHQ are already operating with arguably similar powers, that is not the say that the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ should not have come up against severe opposition from all citizens world wide. Evidence already exists that information was accessed by Scottish police and shared with American organisation despite the techniques used being outlawed in the US.

In fact more questions are being asked of the Scottish police than of our own Government. The SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry has already expressed her delight at independent studies into the data collecting powers of the Government. Refusing to support the proposed bill because so many opposition view points and proposed amendments have been ignored. A movement that has increased since more evidence revealed the extent of data access by the Scottish Police.

The Snoopers Charter

The bill is only inches away from bringing into law a provision of the interception of communications, equipment interference and the acquisition and retention of communications data. Drastically increasing the level of data that can be retained by the security agencies, but also the level of data kept by private companies.

Passages in the bill will force companies such as Apple and Whatsapp to alter encryption used to give security services access to all communication. As well as all your internet connection records would be collected by service providers and kept for up to a year without reason or suspicion of criminal activity.

Perhaps it is time we stopped worrying about the new mobile phones on the horizon, or the latest reality TV rubbish and become outspoken over the government altering the way in which we can use the internet and intercepting all our communication. If you want to find out how you are going to be harmed by this bill, read a brief overview here.

Technology Is Helping to Silently Kill You

No it has nothing to do with radio waves, magnetic fields, or any other obvious way we thought technology could kill us. It’s getting to your body in a very slow, stealthy way and you won’t even realise it. What’s more, new evidence claims that it doesn’t matter how healthy you are for the rest of your life.

All this health kick from Apple, Google et al. is all well and good but it doesn’t help the fact that technology is helping to secretly shorten your life by making you sedentary. I bet you wouldn’t even know it would you? Lifting weights a couple of times a week, even a jog on the weekends. Unfortunately, current research suggests even that doesn’t make a difference.

Insert Dramatic Music

Now technological advances are not the big bad wolf here, they have enabled our lives to be much easier, more enjoyable, and much safer. What is the real issue is the cultural shift that’s been enabled and sometime encouraged by Silicon Valley’s explosion. Technological advancements are the single underlying factor that has made humans less active in their lives.

This is most apparent whilst working; jobs are much more sedentary. These ‘sedentary types’ of jobs have increased by 83% since 1950 (American Heart Association). It’s no coincidence as the increase in technology and computing available in the workplace started in the 50’s. We are not just talking about computers, however the strange correlation happened around 1951 with the first commercially successful electronic computer, UNIVAC. There has also been a decrease in manual jobs due to the robotisation of many manufacturing and production lines.

Parked At The Office

According to research by Sanlam Private Investments, those of us with an ‘office job’ spend up to five years of our lives at a desk. With most spending anywhere up to 8 hours a day seated, other than the occasional trip to the printer or out for lunch. This only continues at clocking off time, spending anything up to 2 hours on public transport or driving. You can relax when you get home though, to our modern luxurious house filled with entertainment to keep you nice and relaxed seated.

The normal day is now so inactive we are not only struggling to keep up with the obesity levels, but both the physical and mental stress is killing us slowly. We have cut around 300 calories out of our working day according to Dr John Buckley, programme leader in cardiovascular rehabilitation at the University of Chester. Over a year that equates to around 26 lbs of fat, but some pudge around the middle is the least of your worries.

It’s Killing You

Slowly but surely things for your body start to look worse. A study from the journal Circulation: Heart Failure has revealed that those who sit for more than five hours a day have an increased risk of around 34% of heart failure. This is despite how much exercise they might do outside of those hours sitting. This doesn‘t even take into consideration the increased levels of depression and insomnia, along with higher risks of developing some pretty life limiting conditions including diabetes and cancer. Take stock of that if you are one of the average people that spend more than 9 hours seated. Even if you have an active job; sitting for long periods of time surfing the internet, watching TV, or even playing games is simply not good for your body.

Keep Google Fit

I could go into the details of how the sitting position is just not natural for your body, the anatomical reasons for the pressure on the spine and digestive system. But this is a technology editorial. So the facts are these: You’re sitting down too much! Too much of your beloved tech is focused on keeping you seated in front of a screen engaged with it.

What’s more is no amount of good feeling you get from pounding the treadmill after work, getting your Google Fit goals, or even doing your steps for the day is going to change that. You’re going to have to change yourself. Many don’t even realise they are seated so long. The solution is a simple one: Stand Up.
Lets get this straight, I love technology. I’m what you could describe of an evangelist. I spend the majority of my day preaching to those less able about access to technology. Technology is so brilliant and so wondrous it deserves to be used. It’s simply a case of making your usage as active as possible.

Active Tech

Simple things can make a world of difference, you won’t even notice the difference if you try it. The future you might come back and thank me though so please do if we ever invent time travel. Most of us are not in a position to get everyone using stand up desks so the changes we make might have to be a lot smaller. Just walking around whilst reading some of the daily social media intake and standing at lunch are a few easy fixes. I’m pretty sure you can be creative about slotting those active hours back into your day.

One bit of feedback I have made to Google is to include alarms if you are sitting still for a preset period of time in order to encourage a little activity during the day. This functionality is already available in some other smart watches and fitness trackers. The Fitness goal of 10,000 steps should not be the end all, and these steps should be evenly spread. It’s no good doing 8,000 in the morning and sitting for 6 hours.