My three New Year Resolutions for 2010.

I’m going to do something I almost never do: I’m going to not only make some New Year resolutions, but I’m going to post them publicly. I don’t normally bother with resolutions at all because years of experience has taught me that I’m terrible at keeping them. My standard joke was to say that I resolve not to make any resolutions allowing me to both keep and break it all at once.

However, this year I have felt every single one of my 42 years weighing upon my body. From the occasional back spasms to the ongoing rotator cuff issues to my right knee starting to act up to a general lack of energy. All issues that tie into the fact that I am far heavier than I should be. I don’t have a current measurement of my heft, but last time I was checked I was back up to just under 300 pounds. A number that surprises people to hear because I don’t look like someone who is that heavy to a lot of people, which just goes to show how shitty most people are at judging weight. I’m fat and it’s been affecting my health more and more the longer I ignore it and I could probably counter a fair bit of it by just getting off my ass and exercising a bit.

Which brings me to my first resolution: I resolve that I’m going to start exercising regularly in 2010. I will not be setting any weight goals because I honestly would be happy if I can just manage the willpower to do something for 30 minutes three times a week. Anne has been wanting to sign up at the local Rec Center where they have a fitness program with trainers that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and I think it’s time. Hell, it’s long overdue. Whether it’ll be a treadmill, stationary bike, or whatever I couldn’t say. I’ll probably try several before I settle on something I can handle. The next two resolutions aren’t anything so dramatic, but are things I had fully intended to start doing in 2009 and never managed to get around to it.

I resolve to finally get the SEB Podcast underway. ***Dave and I keep bringing it up to each other and then proceed to go back to doing whatever we were doing and forget about it. The idea of chatting with ***Dave on various topics makes me very excited as the test run we did over Skype awhile back went very well. One of us is going to have to wrangle us together and get it done, though, and seeing as it’s my podcast that means it’s up to me. I’m still open for ideas on formats, topics, and even people to participate if anyone else out there wants to spend some time blathering with me on Skype.

I also resolve to finally try my hand at video blogging. I bought the RCA Small Wonder and a webcam specifically for doing video blogs and, again, I’ve never gotten around to doing one. This one might be even more difficult than the podcast as I have even fewer ideas of what to do with it and there’s considerably more work involved as lighting becomes an issue as well as editing and even a background. I did some live streaming during the Blogathon that was pretty nifty, but it became clear that shots of my basement walls were less than amazing background fodder.

So that’s it. My three resolutions for 2010. The funny thing is I’m less confident of my ability to keep the last two resolutions versus the exercise one as the latter requires less creativity. Still, I’m going to do my best to keep all three. I might only get a single podcast or video blog done this year, but I’m going to do my best to get at least that much done. Wish me luck. Self-discipline is something I’ve always struggled with.

So what resolutions, if any, are you guys making?

Inching forward toward an SEB Podcast.

I got a new Plantronic’s headset not too long ago and I’ve started looking at getting an SEB Podcast going once more. This meant spending some time trying things out to see how things work. I think I’ve decided to make use of for hosting the podcast as it allows for all manner of participation including have people call in on the phone, or via VOIP, or just listening in on streaming audio. So I downloaded their SoftShoe VOIP proggy last night and took it for a spin… and it sounded terrible. The audio recording sounded like I was talking through a fan or underwater or something. This was very odd as I’ve used the headset with World of Warcraft and Ventrillo and Teamspeak and Call of Duty: World at War and it sounded great. I even made sure it was a USB headset for the better sound quality. So why did the SoftShoe application make it sound so terrible?

Well it took about three hours of putzing around with various applications last night, but I managed to figure out what the problem is. The realization came while playing around with a softphone called SJphone which is a VOIP package similar to Skype. It had been suggested, in one of many forum threads I read on TalkShoe, that using a softphone gave much better sound quality than the SoftShoe application TalkShoe provided. While configuring SJphone I discovered that it had the option of using DirectSound (part of Microsoft’s DirectX API) for playback and recording of the audio. With DirectSound disabled not only was the recording choppy as hell, but so was any audio playback. The problem was SJphone would use DirectSound just find for playback, but not for recording and the same appeared to be true of the SoftShoe client. I verified this by loading up Teamspeak once more as you can toggle the use of DirectSound in that application as well and the same thing happened. Lousy choppiness without DirectSound, smooth as silk with it.

Well isn’t that a kick in the pants? I had bought a USB headset because it offered better sound quality, but it turns out that’s only true if the software you’re using makes use of DirectSound when accessing the headset. The SoftShoe client has no user configurable options so I can’t go in and tell it to use DirectSound. So to get decent audio quality I have to use a softphone VOIP package to connect. SJphone is already out for the aforementioned reason so I ended up settling on Gizmo 5 which works fairly well.

The test recording I made last night sounded decent enough, though there was a weird phasing effect from time to time that made me sound like I was in a bad sci-fi film. I had ***Dave check it out to see if it sounded OK to him and he said it was pretty good though I had a deeper voice than he expected. I told him my voice varies depending on the time of day, how excited and/or how tired I am. It’s a lot of jumping through hoops to make use of TalkShoe, but it works and doesn’t sound half bad. The next step is to actually plan out an episode and find someone to join me so it’s not just me blabbing aimlessly. ***Dave has already said he’d be happy to do the first podcast with me and we’re looking at maybe a half-hour to get things started.

All that’s left is to pick some topics to blow hot air on and then a time and date to actually do it. With any luck I’ll get both of those finalized before too long and we’ll see just how entertaining I can be in an non-textual medium.