Capstone Update #1: Technical Difficulties

credit: The Simpsons

The idea for interviewing bright Wheaton alumnae who have pursued careers in the creative industries hatched in October. However, due to a bouquet of unforeseen issues and also, the rest of my life, the brunt of the work has been done over the past few weeks from my childhood bedroom. Yes, it’s winter break, and I’m still working on this project. Although, I admit, it’s been nice to work on it during daytime hours while eating a home-cooked breakfast (thanks, Mom).

The upkeep of the website has been fine. I pay Bluehost a very low rate for this site and domain, and their customer service is remarkable. Thank you to the brave representative who talked me through accidentally deleting the entire site at 1 AM on a Monday, earlier this month. And going through my personal portfolio and having a Grown Up Website feels like an accomplishment, too.

I thought I would be free of my chains, and that the last part of the project — the interviews — would be easy. It has not been. I had four interviews this week, and three fell on the first day. I tested Google Hangouts, Skype, my recording software, and everything seemed okay. Until I called my first interviewee. Her audio didn’t work, then MY audio didn’t work, then neither of us could see each other, then the computer yelled at me, and then we gave up and rescheduled for that evening, allowing for troubleshooting time.

After hyperventilating a little, I fixed the problem, updating software, Googling for help, and eventually calling in the troops (my dad, the tech wiz). And everything was okay by my first interview that evening. All three were great, and everything got recorded.

Then,  I had some trouble converting the mp4 files to mp3 files, which was eventually solved. But then, I listened to them, and there is a lot of echo. Not just a little reverb. Like, a two second delay of repeated speech. I puzzled about this and then realized that neither my subjects nor I were wearing headphones during the duration of our calls. Major d’oh moment, but in order to avoid crying I’m putting myself in the camp that is optimistic about making mistakes, because it means I can learn from them/avoid them in the future. The bigger issue is that because I have rudimentary technology (my entry-level laptop; Audacity, the free, open-source audio software), I can’t do much to fix it on my own. The tracks are mono and I don’t currently have a skillset or a paid program to fix it immediately.

My sister, who has some audio chops, has promised to look into it. Have you noticed a theme of my family helping me out? But, if that doesn’t pan out, the audio clips may be published differently than I’d originally anticipated. What I’m thinking about now is All Things Considered-esque clips. I talk for a little, editorializing some of the content, then I get what sound bites I can from the interview or beg my subjects to re-record. Then, instead of doing a written editorial, I publish the transcript of the interview.

We’ll see how this goes. God willing it is finished by January 4.

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