Budget Video Podcast Setup

LockerGnome reader John asks:

“I am going to start doing video podcasts and am in the process of picking out what gear [I want to use]. I don’t want to use my MacBook Pro iSight as the quality just isn’t there. As I am not up to speed with the current equipment available these days, I was wondering if you have any suggestions? My budget is around $400.”

Well John, you’re definitely entering the world of online video at the right time. The trick to finding a good video setup is determining exactly what you want from your vlog. Do you want it to be a pro-level rig with green screen and 1080p video? Would you want something a bit more along the lines of you sitting in front of a camera, giving your thoughts on various topics? If you’re looking for a good setup without a lot of investment, here are some ideas that might help you out:

  • Audio is Key – Even if your video looks fantastic, and your edits are absolutely perfect, your audio can make or break your ability to maintain an audience’s interest. Weak volume, echos, background noise, and overdriven audio are clear indications of a poorly planned production and can drive your audience away.
  • Check Your Lighting – You won’t find too many most watched videos on YouTube that have poor lighting. If your subject is lost in a shadow or covered in low lighting artifacts, you’ve got to add another lamp behind the camera. Chris Pirillo, Ray William Johnson, and Philip D. Franco are all fairly well lit in their relatively simple productions, and that small detail makes a huge difference in their overall quality.
  • Keep it Modular – As your video podcast grows, so should its budget. Investing in an all-in-one solution may be a great solution in the short-term, but that means reinvesting in every aspect of your show’s equipment when it comes time to upgrade.

Budget Video Podcast Setup

So, what kind of setup can you put together on a tight budget? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Using an iPhone
    • iPhone or iPod Touch ($200-250)
    • AT2020 or Blue Yeti ($60-120)
    • PC or Mac
    • Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie (Free)
    • GarageBand or Audacity (Free)
    • With this solution, you’re going to want to record audio separately using GarageBand, Audacity, or any other quality audio recording software. The iPhone and iPod touch provide decent video, but their audio could use some improvement. Once you’re set to edit the video, simply sync up the two audio tracks, detach audio from the video, and mute it. This way you’ll have your best audio track in play. This may not work in situations where you’re out and about, but the audio at your primary filming location should be your best.
  • Pocket Camcorder
    • Bloggie Duo Camera ($165) (Alternatively: The Kodak Zi8 and PlaySport) ($130-150)
    • AT2020 or Blue Yeti ($60-120)
    • PC or Mac
    • Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie (Free)
    • GarageBand or Audacity (Free)
    • This solution is a lot like the first, only using a dedicated camera which can give you slightly better results. If you decide to go with the Kodak PlaySport, you’ll have the ability to go underwater with your videos as well. One advantage to the Bloggie Duo is its self-facing monitor so you can position yourself as you’re recording for best results. Audio is a bit better on the Bloggie Duo though it’s always recommended to have the best possible audio when recording. Room echo can kill a good video.
  • Webcam Solution
    • Logitech C910 or Pro 9000 ($60-80)
    • AT2020 or Blue Yeti ($60-120)
    • PC or Mac
    • Logitech Recording Software (PC) or Photo Booth (Mac)
    • Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie (Free)
    • This solution only works in front of your computer, but it does fall in line with your original setup. The C910 gives you 1080p recording capability with a quality camera while the 9000 pro is incredibly simple to use and delivers remarkable 720p video. In some cases, I’ve found the 9000 to be more reliable software-wise and have used it over the C910. This will hopefully change as Logitech tweaks the software. Because audio should be recorded live with the video and you can set the source, you may not need to do any difficult audio edits after the initial recording.

How to Create a Network Between Two Computers Without a Router

LockerGnome reader Frank asks, “I have 2 laptops and I want to share my DSL connection without a router. Laptop 1 has Windows 7 and the DSL connection and Laptop 2 has Windows XP. So, what do I need to do to share my DSL conection between the 2 laptops?”

To start, let’s get one thing out of the way. A router is the absolute best way for most home networks to share a connection to the internet. Yes, some advanced users have an old system set up as a home server and basic router, while others have a more complex network of systems and switches. For the majority of users, however, you really can’t go wrong with a router. These have become very inexpensive over the years.

That said, if you still want to accomplish this with two notebook computers and a DSL modem, you can. Each notebook will require a working Wi-Fi card and your Windows 7 machine will also need an open and working ethernet port.

  1. Connect the DSL modem to the Windows 7 machine’s ethernet port and check connection. If you have access to the web, continue to step 2.
  2. Open the Network and Sharing Center on your Windows 7 notebook and click on the icon called “”Set up a new connection or network.”
  3. At this point you’ll begin setting up what’s referred to as an “ad hoc” network. This is a network that is managed by the computer itself without the need of a router.
  4. Pick a name and enter a security code for your network. The name will be what you look for in the next step.
  5. In your Windows XP notebook, look for possible connections in the wireless manager. You should see the network you just named after a minute or two.
  6. Test your internet connection on the XP machine.

Once these steps are completed, you should have a successful network set up between two machines. Keep in mind that additional firewall protection and other features routers provide may not be available on an ad hoc network.

This is a similar setup to a home network established by putting two ethernet cards in a single machine and connecting another machine or a switch to it. It’s not a well managed network, but resources such as an internet connection can be shared across.

Google Chrome Netbook – I Got Mine!

Just a quick note. About one hour ago the UPS man came and brought me an unmarked box with only a UPS Louisville, Kentucky as the sender. I opened the box and I was surprised to see a no name netbook inside. It was the Google Chrome netbook I had signed up for to test. Setup was very simple and I was up and running in under 10 minutes. In facr I am writing this from the Google Chrome netbook.

The only thing I immediately noticed was that the 10 inch screen is small compared to my 17 inch Toshiba. But I guess this is a trade-off for having a very portable device compared to a full blown laptop. :-)

I’ll be posting a review of the unit over at the Blade, once I get to play with my new toy this weekend.

Networking Software Made For The Novice – FREE

If you have ever tried to network computers together, share printers, share files, and/or set up a wireless network, then you know what a trying experience it can become. For those who have never done this before, I usually recommend you have someone who is famaliar with networking do the setup for you your first time out.

I tried this software from Network Magic – which just happens to be called Network Magic 4.0 – and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it actually worked. The user interface is very intuitive and user friendly. OK, I hate the term ‘user friendly,’ but in this case it actually is.

The software scanned the network, located the router, and also a connected printer. It ask if I wished these to be shared or not, then proceeded to set up file sharing options, again asking which files I wished to share on all connected systems. This was painless and simple, and the software also showed a simple colorful diagram of the network. Overall, I thought the software was a no-brianer. The only thing it didn’t find was my print server. :-(

Is this software made for everyone? Nope. If you are a seasoned guru used to setting up a network, this may be too simple and with too few options for your liking. But for those who have never set up a network before, I would recommend giving this software a try. Oh… IT’S FREE, also.

Network Magic can be downloaded from here. A premium, paid version is also available.

If you try this software, please leave a comment and share your experience.

[tags]network, setup, easy, network magic, share, wireless, systems, connected, simple, free[/tags]

Comodo Firewall – It's Simple To Use & It's FREE

I’ve been reading around the Internet that a new kid was on the block offering some free security products, and that they were getting some fairly good reviews. And after doing the article on firewall testing, and noting that Comodo received a mark of excellent, I decided to download it and give it a try.

As with most freebie software, you need to provide a email address to receive an activation serial number, and once that was done I proceeded with the download. The file is a little over 7MB. Installation was uneventful and only asked if I wished to stop the built-in firewall used by XP and required a restart.

After boot, the Comodo icon was in the system tray and activated. As with all firewall products, there is a learning experience the software goes through, in which you must tell the firewall which connections you wish to allow. Overall it is a fairly simple process. I then checked to see if my computer was going to take a performance hit with Comodo and noted it has a small footprint – using about 17k. And there were no spikes like I have seen with some firewall products.

Overall, I like the feel of Comodo. It is simple to set up and use. I would highly recommend this product to anyone wishing to use a software firewall product.

You can get your free copy of Comodo here.

[tags]comodo, firewall, free, setup, simple, software, product, testing, Comodo[/tags]

Upgrading To XP (Part V)

In the previous installments of this article, I outlined how you can upgrade an existing computer to Windows XP. However, what happens if your upgrade includes purchasing a new computer?

Windows XP makes it very simple to move from an old computer to a new one. Many people are often reluctant to get a new computer because they do not want to lose their existing files and settings. You can use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard included with Windows XP to move settings from one computer to another.

The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard eliminates the need for you to complete reconfigure all a user’s personalized settings on a new computer. It can be used to transfer personalized settings such as display, dial-up connection, Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer settings. It can also be used to move folders such as My Documents and files to the new computer.
Continue reading “Upgrading To XP (Part V)”

Upgrading To XP (Part IV)

Winnt32.exe is used to run Setup on computers running a previous version of Windows that can be upgraded to Windows XP. You can begin the upgrade process by inserting the Windows XP CD into your CD-Rom drive and typing winnt32 at the command prompt. If autorun is enabled, click Install Windows XP from the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP window. The upgrade process will begin as outlined below.
Continue reading “Upgrading To XP (Part IV)”

Upgrading To XP (Part III)

Before you upgrade to Windows XP, you should verify that any applications currently running will still function after the upgrade is complete. Most new programs will not be affected by the upgrade. However, older programs may not function correctly under Windows XP.
To help you identify incompatible applications, you can run the Windows XP Upgrade Advisor before performing the upgrade. From the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP dialog box, select Check system compatibility.

If you have problems running programs after Windows XP is installed, you can use the Program Compatibility Wizard. You can run the Program Compatibility Wizard before you try other ways of updating your programs or drivers because it identifies compatibility fixes written specifically for Windows XP.
Continue reading “Upgrading To XP (Part III)”

Upgrading To XP (Part II)

Most operating systems are designed to run on a minimum set of hardware requirements to ensure adequate performance. Ignoring these requirements can result in a failed installation. Verify that the hardware in your system at least meets the minimum hardware requirements before upgrading.

The minimum requirements to install Windows XP Professional and Home Editions include:
Continue reading “Upgrading To XP (Part II)”

Upgrading To XP (Part I)

So you have decided to upgrade to Windows XP. Before throwing the CD in your CD-Rom drive and starting the upgrade, why not take a bit of time to plan the upgrade so it goes as smoothly as possible. This starts with determining if your current operating system can be upgraded and if Windows XP can run on your existing hardware.

  • Windows XP supports a direct upgrade from the following operating systems:
  • Microsoft Windows 98
  • Microsoft Windows 98 SE
  • Microsoft Windows ME
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 with Service Pack 5 can be upgraded to Windows XP Professional, not Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional can be upgraded to Windows XP Professional, not Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

Continue reading “Upgrading To XP (Part I)”