Although I work at a stable, my life is anything but. I like to think of it as amusing chaos, but it seems it is better summed up using Murphy’s Law- what can go wrong, will go wrong. After the week that I spent with my college roommate, I found the statement “My name is Murphy, and I shall be your law” astoundingly true.  Kirsten and I were roommates for three years in college, and that proved to be an interesting experience at times. She was an OCD clean-freak and a criminal justice major while I was slightly (okay, pretty) messy and disorganized agriculture major who smelled like the barn half the time. She was also short, skinny and blonde while I am six-foot tall, solidly built and brunette. We could not have been more different if we tried.  After graduation Kirst followed her boyfriend, who was in the Air Force, to Lompoc, California while he went through training to be an officer. Their relationship was on-again, off-again at best in college but finally soured during her stay there. I think it was all of three weeks that she was in California before she called me and told me it was over, this time forever. She said she had to get out of California, and that she would pay for a plane ticket for me to come and help her drive back to Colorado. She has never driven with a trailer and having horses made me a seasoned driver.  She has also never been the person who asks for help. I am pretty sure if she was lying there with broken legs, she would say “No, I can walk to class, Don’t worry.” Her request meant it was serious, and I would never turn my back on one of my best friends.  Don’t Wake Me Up Don’t get me wrong, I am a girl who loves a good love story, however, I do NOT love it at 2 a.m. The boyfriend began texting me at 2 a.m., begging me not to get on the plane to take her away. Two thoughts ran through my mind: 1) It is 2 o’clock in the frigging morning, what makes you think I will be awake?! and 2) Trying to stop me came too little too late,. I was not the person he needed to convince, it was her. Needless to say, my answers were less than diplomatic, and I told him that I did not care, I was coming anyway.  The trip began innocently. The plan was I would get there Sunday, we would leave early Monday and spend the night in Las Vegas, drive to her hometown of Craig the next day and then she would drop me off at Denver International Airport (DIA) Wednesday. A quick trip, but I would be back in Wyoming to continue my job hunt in a few days.  I parked my Jeep in long-term, tossed my keys into my suitcase and boarded my plane. It was time for an adventure, and I was ready for it. Thankfully, the plane arrived safely, but that was about it on the trip that went really. Apparently, in an effort to win her back and get her to stay, the boyfriend has driven back from a weekend in San Diego to show how much he cared about her. . . and had not left. This clean, cut-and-dry trip took a turn for the awkward.  Flashing Lights A lesson on the trip that I learned quickly was nothing is more awkward than trying to move someone out of their house while the person they were dating is begging them to stay. We all have walked in on awkward moments before, or have been the third wheel, multiply that by about a billion and you have what I experienced when we all went out for dinner.  I am the kind of person that cracks jokes when trying to make the situation lighter, that did not work with this, so I excused myself to go hide in the restroom for a while. 

In Heaven there is no beer

For this assignment, my partner and I chose to explore the relationship between alcohol consumption and finals week at the University of Wyoming. In order to gather the information, we went and spoke to bartenders, package liquor salespeople and students from around campus. A survey in six different classes was also used to get a better student perspective. We found that consumption increased with certain majors, such as agricultural majors, but decreased in the male gender. Women were equally split between increasing their consumption and decreasing their intake. And, although the unofficial school song is the Beer Song, students prefer mixed drinks and shots over beer when they are drinking.

Click HERE to see the final cut of the video.

This experience was. . .interesting. I learned new combinations of expletives during the edit process (none of which I will share for the sake of keeping this PG) and that there are programs that could irritate me more than Audacity. The gathering of information was easy and enjoyable as trends were tracked but the enjoyment ended there. I really enjoyed seeing my end product but the rest of it brought out the ugly side of me.

The editing process was not enjoyable. I picked up the program quickly, which helped in the end, but the program continued to crash during editing. It was one step forward and six steps back until I learned to save it in the temp folder. Even then, the program crashed continually when I was editing at IT because I had so many files on my account. I was forced to delete the entirety of my files just to make room for this one project. Thankfully, I did not need many of them because it was at the end of the semester but it was just another bump in the long road of editing.

The videos then didn’t want to transfer onto the computer, the program crashed every time I added a new video and the Beer Song audio would disappear every time the save button was clicked. I was on my last nerve and befuddled the lab assistant for about three hours. He said he never saw people break computers as often as I did that night. That is not something that a girl wants to hear.

With my final shreds of sanity, I was able to finish the video and was proud of what was created. This would have been so much easier if the program did not continually crash. I would have happily bought the program, it was fun to work with when it was running properly, but my computer is so old that it would have overwhelmed it. With a greater amount of storage space, this process would have gone much more smoothly.

I learned a few things from this experience with the first being UW does not give us enough storage space to work with some programs. Communications majors should have a greater storage space for their accounts because we work with so many massive programs.

Second, videos are a lot harder to edit than audio. With audio, I can move the words around with little consequence but, with video, the editing is much more obvious and you have to make sure it all blends together. This surprised me a little bit but mostly because I did not think the process all the way through.

I would not do much differently because many elements, such as an old computer, we just out of my control. I would have liked cleaner interviews so the entire video would have flowed a little more smoothly but that is in the past.

Although I hate to admit it, I can see myself using video in the future. It is interesting and I think people are more apt to watch a video than sit and write an article. I just want to make sure that the programs are functioning properly and I have better equipment to work with than just my smart phone and too little space on the server.

Killing Two Birds with One Twitter Account

The event that I reported on for my live tweets was the Earth Day BBQ. This was put on by the Gentlemen of Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) Agricultural Fraternity and the Wyoming Colligate Cattlemen’s Association (WCCA). In honor of Earth Day, the two collaborated to distribute warm, delicious burgers to those on campus and help promote Earth Day. Patrons were asked to donate a food item that would be donated to the Food Bank to help Laramie combat the hunger that residents face every day.

The only part about this project that I really liked was helping with the BBQ and promoting it to others on campus. I have always liked community service and it was nice to know that I was doing something good. I didn’t like that the weather was so bipolar but that is just a hazard of living in Wyoming.

I am not sure if it was technology or Twitter itself but I did not enjoy tweeting at all. Every time I tried to tweet from my phone (this was after the event due to the weather) my phone would flash a rainbow of colors and then die. It took multiple attempts to just tweet the photos that I took at the event. I am not sure if I downloaded a virus when I downloaded the app but now my phone is functioning worse than normal. This has left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to Twitter.

I learned that it is hard to limit myself as far as word count goes. I am a very talkative person and this is clear in my writing style. It drove me nuts to be limited to 140 characters when I had so much more to say. I am also slowly learning hash tags. I feel like an eighty year old woman trying to add hash tags to my posts. #suckatthis #feelingolderthanIam #whothoughtthisnewfangledstuffup

I was surprised; once again, about how fast the word count went as well. It takes true skill in order to form a tweet and add the billion hash tags that I am used to seeing while still using proper English. They need a course just on tweeting.

What I wish I could have done differently was not kill my phone with this assignment. I also wish I would have put more careful planning into my tweets. I feel like they were not bad but I could have done a lot better with them. I felt so lost with the concept and I think it showed in the tweets.

I see myself using social media at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup but not Twitter. Facebook has been a good way to reach readers and there is discussion of an app specifically for the Roundup but I do not like the idea of using Twitter. Unless they want to provide me with a company phone, there will be no more tweets coming from me.

I also do not think it gives you enough to go on as far as posting a story from my job. I may use it to help bring a story together or follow a thread for a different perspective but that is about it. I plan on killing two bird with one stone in my own way- posting snippets on Facebook for readers and then throwing the rock at the blue Twitter bird.

Body Art SoundSlides

This assignment was to combine two skills that we have already learned, audio and images, into a SoundSlides presentation on a topic of our choice. My partner, Hannah, and I chose to do it on tattoos. During the presentation, there will be a background on the artist, interviews with tattooed individuals, and images of some of the work done to the body. Follow this link to the presentation.

Working with my partner was both easy and hard. It was easy because Hannah and I work very well together and collaborate well but difficult due to the fact that it was hard to find a time where both our busy schedules matched up. It took some doing but we were able to pull it off in the end when we split the work down the middle, did that on our own time, and then collaborated when we saw each other in class.

My experience with SoundSlides was positive but the overall experience was painful at best. Since I had experience when I was Audacity and the audio, that part was easy but getting the audio off my recording device became my own personal hell. Much of the audio recorded did not want to get transferred off of my phone so it took about three hours of trouble shooting to even get the audio on my computer. It was all downhill after that and things flowed together after several hours of editing.

My problems with this project was not with the software but just the time crunch with schedules and the technical problems that frustrated me beyond all belief.

There is not much that I would change about the project. I wish we had more images of tattoos actually being placed on the body and colored in but that was just not in the cards. For what we were able to work it, without creepily hanging around the shop waiting for the next tattoo, it turned out very well. My advice, however, is plan everything out to the letter before moving forward. The interview with the tattoo artist was like pulling teeth so we were running blind for a while. More structure earlier in the planning process would have helped immensely down the line.

Hannah Cox- The Edited Version

Not that Hannah wasn’t great the first time around but I had to edit the audio profile for the second part of the assignment. To sum up my experience, that was . . interesting. This is all new territory for me so there was a bit of confusion and a few bumps on the last part of this road. To hear the edited version, click here.

The editing experience was difficult for me because it was a new program and all I could see were sound waves, not words. This made it hard to figure out just the right place to cut out or stop the audio. Moving the cursor by even a millimeter changed the audio drastically.

It was also time consuming because you had to listen to the audio constantly to find just what you were looking for. In an article, I could look for a paragraph to move around and then do a quick copy/paste to fix my mistake. With audio, you need to make sure it flows and that the change in vocal pitch or volume didn’t give the editing away. There is much more blending to do and you can not just stick in a transition sentence to make it smoother because you only have that person’s voice from that interview to use.

I learned to go into more depth with my interviews and, when the time or assignment allows, make them longer so I have more material to use in my audio. You can never have too much audio but you can have too little. I interviewed Hannah for five minutes and struggled to make a two minute audio profile that was cohesive and interesting. I also learned that sound is a lot harder to form than words and requires a lot more focus than writing an article. You only have one shot to get the audio in an interview so it needs to be perfect.

I enjoyed learning a new form of journalism this week but I did not enjoy the editing portion. I wish I could see the words so I knew what I was cutting without having to guess, highlight the clip, play it twenty times, move the margins in slightly to get what I want, and repeat process for each part of the edit. I am a perfectionist but I do not have the most patience in the world. This assignment played to my weaknesses.

The difficulty of this was the only thing that surprised me about this assignment. It was one challenge after another from finding quiet place to interview, asking the right questions, figuring out how to load it to Audacity and the other programs and the editing itself. I thought it would be easy because it was just a sound assignment but I was sadly mistaken. On a positive note, I learned a lot from those struggles and now feel fairly adept in running these programs.

I wish I could do this assignment all over. As I was editing, I had wished that I had asked different questions so I could have more depth in the audio. This would have made it so much better in the end and may have gone more smoothly in editing. I mostly just wish editing had gone more smoothly.

This assignment was difficult but that is a disguised blessing. You do not learn anything if you do not struggle a little. I struggled a lot with this assignment so I must be brilliant now!

Hannah Cox- The Unedited Interview

HC

Image courtesy of Hannah Cox

This week, I had the privilege to interview Hannah Cox for my blog. Hannah is from Littleton, Colorado and is working towards a degree that will get her hired with ESPN after she graduated from the University of Wyoming. Below is the unedited interview with Miss Cox.

Hannah Cox- The Unedited Interview

The interviewing experience was interesting, to say the least. Once Hannah and I found a time where our schedules matched up, we tried to get a study room in the library so we would not have ambient noise in the background. However, all of the study rooms were booked.

Next, we tried to find a quiet area in the library so we could interview each other there . . . and there was not a single silent spot anywhere in Coe. Next on the hunt was the Union, which also did not pan out, before we gave up on interviewing in a building and went to Hannah’s car where we finally found silence.

It was not a new experience for me to interview people with a recorder. I do that all of the time for the Branding Iron so I can accurately quote my sources. The only difference for this interview was there had to be crisp audio. When it is for my own personal use, I don’t care what is going on in the background as long as I can hear that person.

Being the interviewee, however, was a new and odd experience for me. I get along well with Hannah but seeing the recorder, even though she was comfortable with it and did not shove it in my face, raised my anxiety levels. It is definitely a different feeling when you know someone can hear you potentially say something stupid over and over again with a push of a button and it took me a little while to relax and act normally.

I learned that silence is hard to find, especially on campus. When I am setting up audio interviews for others to hear, I am going to have to scout out a location rather than just doing it on the fly. I also learned that you get a lot of weird looks when you interview someone in their car.

One other thing that I need to learn is how to lessen anxiety of the recorder. I use this tool all of the time and, when I am behind it, I cannot understand why people are apprehensive but now I know where they are coming from now. I learned that when I do not look at the recording device and when the interviewer does not either, it lessens my apprehension greatly.

I really enjoyed interviewing Hannah because she is a very interesting person and it was fun to get to know her better. One thing I didn’t enjoy was the time limit on the interview. When I am conducting interviews, there is no set time limit because I like to find that one interesting gem that many would overlook. In my interview with Hannah, I was lucky to find it earlier in the interview when she talked about the paper she has hanging on her fridge.

Something that I wish I could have done differently was to have more time so I could find more little gems like that. You can always edit down an interview but you cannot recreate the moment once it is gone. I also wish that I could have had a more convenient quiet spot to interview instead of running all over campus and winding up in a car.  I also wish I didn’t stumble over a few questions but that all comes out in editing.

Nothing is going to go perfectly, especially when you are striving for that. There is always going to be an accident or a mistake when you try, it is how you deal with those mistakes that makes or breaks the goal.

Did You Hear That?

This assignment was to capture ambient sounds and  cut them into 10 second snippets  This assignment was difficult because it is hard to get crisp audio sometimes and I experienced a pretty drastic learning curve with Audacity. However, I was able to rally and break through the barriers to produce these sounds.

Ambient

Sound waves from the ambient noises as seen on SoundCloud

The first round of sounds were ambient sounds that can be found here.

Popping out Ice Cubes

The first ambient sound I gathered was popping out ice cubes from their tray. This was a random sound clips that I recorded in my kitchen. I use ice in my drinks and in my protein shakes so it is a common sound in my house. It is also a noise that is really loud in the morning when you just wake up.

This sound could be used in audio that talks about the summertime. It could be used when talking about cooling down with a drink or when advertising for an event. For example, this could be used for a fundraiser in the middle of summer that is serving cold drinks.

Mixing Ingredients

I was messing around in my kitchen for the next clip and was mixing up a protein shake for my breakfast. The listener can hear canisters unscrewing and the contents being measured out and tapped into a blender. If the listener didn’t know specifically what I was measuring, it would just be classified as kitchen sounds or mixing ingredients.

I know that many people in Wyoming like to bake or cook so this would be a good clip to lead into a cooking segment or to talk about food. This could be used for a clip talking about how to prepare a meal or a potential health risk consumers face because of an outbreak. This is so generic that it could be used for pretty much anything kitchen related.

Engine Rev

When I was driving to Wal-Mart, I heard the engine of my Jeep revving and thought that that would be an interesting ambient noise to record. Although it may not be safe, many people talk on their cell phone and drive and I can always hear this as background noise. It would be interesting to see what it sounded like without voices covering up the noise.

This sound clip could be used for an audio journalism track about travel, such as a vacation or a road trip, or one about talking/texting while driving. It could be used in pretty much any story that involved a vehicle.

Tired Shopper at Safeway

The next track was one that I captured in Safeway. I was just walking around with my recorder hanging out of my pocket when this man started talking. Everyone hears other shoppers when they go to the store and I thought it was an interesting ambient noise because it is not the same person or conversation every time.

This one could be used when talking about shopping and more so, holiday shopping. It was not a holiday season when I recorded this but during the busy times, you always hear people like this when you are standing in line.

Wal-Mart Check-Out

This clip was one I recorded during a quick trip to Wal-Mart and captured the beeps of the checkout registers. I used to work as a checker so I was able to tune out the beeping noise but now, the noise drives me nuts because of the negative connotation I have associated with it. However, this is one of those sounds that people learn to tune out so I thought it would be interesting to record.

This is a very flexible sound clip. It can be used any time of the year because stores to not change the tone of the beeps by season. It can also be used when talking about shopping, be it back-to-school, holiday or everyday shopping, or even talk about the price hikes that consumers will face during the drought. It could even go so far to be used generically when talking about a specific grocery store or the jobs that store provides.

Turn Signal

I was sitting at a long light with the radio off and all I could hear was my blinker. It seemed abnormally loud so I pulled out my phone and recorded it. This is usually a hated noise, especially in Laramie, because it means you are struck trying to turn. On many streets, turning against traffic is pretty much impossible and every resident has experienced this.

This sound clips could be used to talk about construction in an area or traffic that a commuter may face. It could even be used generically when talking about a car or travel in general.

Counting to Ten and Back Again 

Counting to ten may seem simple but when you are counting out of order and editing it, it suddenly gets quite a bit harder. For this assignment, I counted to ten out of order and then used the Audacity program to re-order my numbers so they went one through ten. This helped me get better acquainted with the program with only a mild headache and now I feel more confident with editing audio.

To hear my counting to ten project, click here.

This was my first time ever editing audio. I had used a recorder before but only for interviews for my articles. I never really cared about the sound quality on those since it was just for my personal use. Now, I had to think about the clarity of the sound, the echos, background noise and enunciating. It was a little bit overwhelming.

I do not have a high quality recorder because I am a college kid on a very tight budget so I just used a free app that I download on my Droid. There I encountered my first problem, how do I get the audio off of my phone and on to a computer? After about twenty minutes of fiddling with my phone, I managed to email the clip to myself and downloaded it on Audacity.

Once I had my clip on Audacity, I did a lot of cut, copy and paste to get my numbers back in order. After my introduction with the ambient noise, this was a lot easier of a task. However, compatibility with Sound Cloud was the next issue. I did not realize the file type would not upload so I stared at my computer for about 30 minutes waiting for the incompatible file to upload.  Thanks to the help of the professor, I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong and got the file loaded.

I was a little bit concerned . . . okay, I was worried about this assignment because it was the big scary unknown. I usually pick up on new concepts pretty quickly but this was something I had never, ever had done before. I was worried I was going to botch it entirely. I am a perfectionist and hated the idea that I may fail at this new task. I did not want that to happen.

Once I figured out the program, it was a breeze to do sound editing. Words cannot describe how relieved I was about that. I think that my biggest problem in the future is lack of quality equipment but I will face that bridge when I actually get a paycheck.