The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #123

Convention CenterIt’s day 2 of the Podcast and New Media Expo and the energy out here is excellent.   Podcasting has definitely had its up and downs in the last couple of years, but the drive and enthusiasm of media content creators is as strong as its ever been.  This episode is intended to quickly catch you up on my travels and it also contains a restroom review of the facility just outside the pool area at the Marriott.

The song of the day is The Hold Music Song by yours truely and the website of the day is the Seattle Podcasting network blog.  The show closes with On A Podcast, by Cruisebox.


Amazon Launches mp3 Download Service

Amazon recently launched Amazonmp3, a music store without that pesky DRM. For my first dip into the Amazon pool of digital music, I purchased Retox, the latest album by Turbonegro. This album has proved to be challenging to find in my local music stores so I was glad to find it here. For under $10 (after tax) I was able to download the entire album in unrestricted mp3 format (encoded a 320kbps). The process was simple, especially since I am enrolled in Amazon’s One Click service. I searched for the album, found it, previewed some tracks, then clicked to purchase. An Amazon MP3 Downloader application needed to install on my system, but it is a pretty small and lightweight application (especially if you compare it to an iTunes front end). Within moments, I had the album on my local machine, completely DRM free. Granted, the overall selection of the store is still quite limited since not all labels have chosen to climb on board the DRM free train… but I suspect they will have to before long. Due to Amazon’s dominance in online retail, the broad device compatibility it affords, and the overall ease of use of this service, I think this will become a pretty popular music store fairly quickly (provided they convince a few more labels to sign on). Watch out iTunes, you’re in the crosshairs of the world’s largest “Internet Bookstore.”

Fremont Oktoberfest 2007: Worst Brewfest Ever

FremontOktoberfest in Fremont definitely felt like it was put on by people with little or no experience in the brewfest business. For starters, the price was too high and the taster glasses too small. Taster glasses for all brewfests in Washington have been shrinking year over year, however, the price isn’t usually as gouging as Fremont demonstrated this weekend. Entrance to the garden was $20, which included only four tastes, $25 would get you eight tastes, and any additional tastes were $1.75 each. The beer selection was decent, but could have definitely been better (approximately 70 brews representing 35 breweries). The worst part of the event came down to organization. I believe there were three tents in all, each tent containing about 10 or 12 breweries. The tents were labeled as to which beers were housed within, but just where in the tent the beers resided was a mystery that could only be solved once you were close enough to the tap to read the accompanying table tents. This proved to be very challenging because the lines were quite long after about 3pm on Saturday. To get a beer, one had to weave between the lines in order to get close enough to determine just where the beer was being poured, then return to the back to actually stand in the line. It was definitely not an ideal layout. In the early evening on Saturday, one of the tents discovered this dilemma and used duct tape to hang signs on the outside of the tent (where they could actually be read from a distance). The others may have followed suit eventually, but I didn’t stay the entire evening to find out. Those that did stay for the evening reported that many of the beers ran dry and festival goers began to get understandably cranky as a result.Fremont Oktoberfest
To put an ironic head on this skunky, contaminated beer: just outside the festival gates sits Brouwers Café. Boasting over 50 taps and over 100 bottles, it was a welcome escape from the chaos of the brewfest. Once I sat down and ordered a full glass of Diamond Knot XIPA, I wondered why I ever bothered with the festival in the first place.
I do want to be careful not to paint the entire festival in a bad light because my real frustration was with the Stranger Microbrew Garden (even the name, since I would contend that most of the beers present were Craft beers… but I digress). The Street Fair and the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest are a regular draw for the festival and are surely an excellent source of entertainment. Additionally, the funds raised go to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce to support Fremont schools, art groups and other community events. Those footnotes should certainly not go unrecognized. Still, the real star of the show should be the beer, and that part went heinously wrong this year. Hopefully the fine folks in Fremont learned a few lessons this time around so that the only thing worth saying about next year’s event is one, simple, little word… “prost.”

POC 12 – LightSnake USB to XLR Cord Review

LightSnakeMy friend Drew loaned me his latest purchase, a LightSnake Luminescent USB to XLR Microphone Cord.  I figured that the best way to test it out would be to record a podcast, so that’s what this Piece of Crap is all about.  You can’t get much better than this when it comes to simplicity.  Plug-n-Play ensures that it is instantly recognized on the computer and installed so that you are ready to record in a flash.  For a podcaster, this is great as it easily lets you plug into your home PC or laptop without additional equipment or even a sound card.  If the simplicity and sound quality is not enough to sway you, perhaps the green glow illuminating from the USB and XLR connectors at either end will provide enough cool factor to win you over.  At only $40 on Amazon, I’d say this is a worth while addition to the podcasters’ tool kit.  (Beware though, no phantom power means this may not be a universal solution for everyone).  Click below to listen to the podcast recorded using the Lightsnake: