chronicwnderlst

A place to indulge an affliction


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Message in an (internet) Bottle (of sorts)

For my second audio assignment this week, I completed Taking Back Spam from the Audio Assignment Bank

The sources I used to search for SPAM mail were my personal e-mail accounts; however, I soon found that I did not have very interesting things in my SPAM folder.  The one SPAM mail I finally settled on was an e-mail from someone trying to make a personal connection…by sending SPAM mail!

I used Audacity to record myself in a baby voice reading the e-mail.  I have a negative opinion of women who talk in baby voices with their partners in romantic relationships. So, I applied this “ridiculousness” to this assignment. The SPAM mail reminds me of those messages in a bottle that people throw into the ocean in hopes of stranger picking it up and taking action on the message. To create that ambience, I layered the recording with an audio file of waves crashing against rocks I used an audio file that I did not use on the Sound Effects Story assignment, which I had downloaded from FreeSound. I exported the Audacity file to MP3 and uploaded it to SoundCloud, so I can embed it to this blog post.

Below is the screenshot of the SPAM e-mail and the photo I used for the SoundCloud avatar:

Image


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Scorpions, Bulls, and a Lion, Oh My!

Since my birthday is in November (proud Scorpio!), the segment I worked on in this week’s Charlie Chaplin video was from 2:01-2:30. Those whose birthday is in May worked on the same segment, hence I used the associated astrological signs in the blog post title.
At first, I just watched my assigned thirty-second segment. Then I watched the entire clip (three minutes and 26 seconds long) and certain things, such as the woman at the end of my segment, made sense after context was added. Although this assignment was only a 30-second segment, I thought I would break it down further into 5 second increments to make it manageable. Putting the actions in matrix helped me plan out the foley sounds I needed to create. See table below:

Segment Action Foley Sound Required Sound Added Created with:
02:01 – 02:05 Lion gets up and sniffs Charlie
  • Paw walking
  • Sniffing
  •  Flip flop sandal on carpet
  • Me
02:06 – 02:10 Lion turns around and lays down on its stomach Paw walking Flip flop sandal on carpet
02:11 – 02:15 Lion puts down head on its paws; black screen; Charlie looks at camera then he feels around his pockets Cat purrClothes rustling Me
02:16 – 02:20 Charlie checks his pockets and shows a face of relief. He looks over to the lion. Sigh of relief“Hmmm!” Me
02:21 – 02:25 The lion turns on his back, as if scratching it on the floor of the cage Scratching Finger nails on magnet
02:26 – 02:30 Charlie looks bored, after realizing that the lion is not interested in eating him. He holds on the cage bars. Camera shows fainted woman getting up and looking back at the cage.
  • Flesh on steel
  • Sigh
  • Two coins clinking
  • Me

I found items I can use to simulate the sounds required.  The most challenging foley for me to create was Charlie’s hand on the steel bars of the cage. I finally settled on clinking two coins togehter, because it was more audible than me recording my hand hitting an iron bar.  I recorded the audio file in SoundCloud. It took several takes and the final product is less than perfect. It is also 3 seconds shorter than the video segment assigned.

Below is a photo of my “foley studio” (items I used to create the foley for this assignment: foley

 


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Sounds Like an Adventure


The story I created is from the point of view of my loyal travel companion, Becki the backpack (see photos). Becki and I have been traveling together for a decade. This story is a forty-five second snapshot of a day in the life of Becki.

…I sit patiently, and empty, as she books flights on her favorite airline website. I wonder where we are going next and how soon. More importantly, what is she going to stuff me with? Hopefully, not the work laptop; it’s too big and I’m not equipped to provide the necessary cushion. Ahhh, no laptop. Just clothes and a travel pillow this time. And she remembered to remove the new Swiss Army knife before it got confiscated. Again. Whee! Off we go! I’m sitting on top of the large suitcase as she wheels us through the airport. I’ll have to say a temporary goodbye to Mr. Suitcase soon, as she’ll be taking him to the TSA folks for additional screening of checked bags. The trip through the x-ray machine was a breeze, on account of no laptop and no utility knife. I’m now safely stowed in the overhead compartment. I’ve got plenty of room since it’s not a full flight. But wait! There is disadvantage to this as I get tossed around during turbulence. Ugh, not good. Now I’m upside down. Three more hours to go. Yes, we have arrived! What a relief. And I’ve never been to this place before, so I expect I’ll be getting a new patch by the end of this trip. If only there was enough room…

I downloaded over five minutes of audio from FreeSound to create this Sound Effects Story Assignment. I tried the other websites, but found FreeSound to be the easiest to work with. After considering the story spine, I excluded three of the audio files originally downloaded and using Audacity, further edited the files I ended up using to create a story that is roughly 45 seconds long.

Below is a screenshot of my Audacity project for the Sound Effects Story:

Sounds Like an Adventure (Sound Effects Story screenshot)

Sounds Like an Adventure (Sound Effects Story screenshot)

Below is a matrix that maps each track to the audio file used for this assignment:

Key Sound File Name Duration

1

Keyboard Keyboard_typing.wav 00:09
2 Rummaging through luggage   00:26
3 Rolling bag Rolling bag.wav 00:16
4 X-ray Xray belt.aif 00:10
5 Airline Turbulence Airline-pilot-turbulence-announcement.wav 00:17
6 Bag Rattling Sounds for Earthquakes-textile.wav 00.09
7 Airplane arrival Arrival’s instruction/consignes arriv.wav 02:23

8

Female sigh Z1.aiff 00:02

Since downloading the LAME library, in order to get the MP3 encoder, I’ve had trouble with my Internet Explorer, and other web browsers. This slowed down considerably completion of this and other assignments this week, which added frustration to an already trying week.


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On SoundCloud Nine!


I successfully created a new account on SoundCloud today. I also personalized my settings, using the same username (chronicwnderlst) and avatar that I have on this WordPress blog, so that they are connected. Prior to this DS106 class, I had not heard of SoundCloud. The only previous experience I had with recording myself was for the IDT class on Game Design and Gamification, when we used Screencast-o-matic. I generally don’tenjoy hearing myself on a recording, but I had to get over that in order to meet the class requirements.

In keeping with the overarching travel theme of this blog, for my first recording on SoundCloud, I decided to read aloud a fake travel-related news report. The best source for fake, funny news is The Onion. I found one that was posted on March 31, 2014, titled, Flight Attendant Quietly Informs First Class Passengers Where Real Emergency Exits Are.

Screenshot of The Onion article mentioned in this post

Screenshot of The Onion article mentioned in this post

I printed the article and practiced reading it out loud before I started recording. I had to re-record four times before I was satisfied with the results.

When I replayed the recording, I was surprised at the clarity of the sound. I had a fan going in the room, and I did not hear it in the recording. I also did not use a fancy microphone, only this:

The microphone I used to make the recording

The microphone I used to make the recording

The tutorial on embedding SoundCloud tracks to WordPress provided with GMU Week 5 DS106 instructions was very helpful. This is the earliest I’ve completed an assignment for DS106 and I’m on cloud 9! Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to keep this up.


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Nionyesheni fedha ya (Show Me the Money)

M-Pesa=money transfer from phone to phone

M-Pesa=money transfer from phone to phone

For this assignment, I chose a small segment of This American Life’s August 2013 episode titled I Was Just Trying to Help. Specifically, I analyzed Act One: Money for Nothing and Your Cows for Free (tracks 10:51-36:54):

In this episode, Planet Money reporter Jacob Goldstein narrates a visit to Kenya to see the work being done by GiveDirectly. Jacob Goldstein compares GiveDirectlhy’s work to another charity, Heifer International. GiveDirectly is a charity that gives money directly to poor people (determined by whether or not they have a grass roof). GiveDirectlyl lets the recipients decide how to spend the money. Through the “M-Pesa”, which allows money transfer via phone, GiveDirectly has been able to give out thousands of dollars to poor people in rural Kenya.

An M-Pesa storefront

An M-Pesa storefront

Money transfer confirmation is texted

Money transfer confirmation is texted

A young man outside an M-Pesa store

A young man outside an M-Pesa store

Audio elements were effectively used to tell the story of Jacob Goldstein’s visit to rural Kenya to meet with GiveDirectly recipients. These audio elements include animal sounds (insects buzzing, dogs barking, cow mooing), mechanical sounds (engine revving, hammering, motorcycle), and human sounds (voice inflections, laughter, language, accents, male/female). I’ve charted my analyses below:

Audio Element Description provided by Narrator Illustrates:
Various voices speaking in the background Visit to an “M-Pesa” store located in an old VW van, which reminds Jacob Goldstein of the van he used to go camping in as a child. The van is also described as being “like a snack shop” Cafeteria environment
Male voice with West African accent reading text message Introduces this segment that he tested the “empesa” system by sending the money to the only person he knew whose number he had in his phone, his interpreter Allen Kenyan interpreter receiving money on his cell phone
Female voice with American accent Jacob Goldstein narrates that in Kenya, they met Piali Mukhodpadhyay, who is Chief Operating Officer (COO) for GiveDirectly GiveDirectly staff reading names of charity recipients from a spreadsheet
Female voice with American accent, change in inflection GiveDirectly staff amused when she confirms she has not met any of the charity recipients but that she “…knows these people in a sense that I send them money each month.”
Car engine starting Jacob Goldstein describes wanting to meet some of the GiveDirectly recipients so he gets in the car with Piali
Motor running on unpaved road To meet recipients of GiveDirectly, narrator had to drive down an increasingly rough dirt road off the main road and past a the Equator sign with no street signs. While giving thousands of dollars away to people in rural Kenya throught he “empesa” has gotten easier, going to visit them is still very hard Motor running on unpaved road
Dog barking Walking down a path on the way to meeting a GiveDirectly recipient, Jacob Goldstein describes how surroundings are very green , there are farm plots where people are growing corn Pastoral environment of rural Kenya
Ring tone Jacob Goldstein states that by the side of the path, they find one of the guys who received money on his cell phone Presence of cell phone
Male voice with West African accent states, “Nokia” Type of phone used by the GiveDirectly recipient
Male voice in non-English language speaking in the background Jacob Goldstein describes how Bernard Omondi came to receive money from GiveDirectly Mr. Omondi telling his story to Jacob Goldstein, via Allen, the interpreter
Male voice in Kenyan language followed by male voice with West African accent narrating in English Jacob Goldstein describes Mr. Omondi’s initial suspicions regarding receiving money Allen translates Mr. Omondi’s story in English, and how Mr. Omondi’s initial reaction about receiving free money may be very similar to someone from another part of the world
Different male voice in Kenyan language Mr. Omondi’s neighbor, Daniel, describes when he received the text that he got money from GiveDirectly Multiple people in the same rural Kenyan village receiving money through their cell phone
Motorcycle engine revving up Jacob Goldstein describes what Mr. Omondi bought with his GiveDirectly money Motorcycle
Male voice with West African accent narrating in English Through Allen the interpreter, Mr. Omondi shares the type of motorcycle he bought and that it will not require as much fuel as a regular car Justifies buying the motorcycle for a livelihood
Background conversation of male voices in non-English language followed by laughter Through Allen, Daniel describes how he felt “like a human being” after buying a new mattress with the GiveDirectly funds he received Emotions felt by recipients illustrating impact of the funds
Hammering against metal Daniel shows Jacob Goldstein the new metal roof he also bought with the GiveDirectly funds, to replace the grass roof he used to have New metal roof
Female voice with West African accent Jacob Goldstein narrates the story of Caroline Adiyambo, who also bought a metal roof and a cow like many of her fellow villagers Most everyone in the rural Kenyan village bought a new metal roof and a cow with their GiveDirectly funds
Insect buzzing Jacob Goldstein asks the villager on what their neighbors used the GiveDireclty funds Conversation occurring outdoors
Background percussion music N/A Transition to discussing the tension among neighbors resulting from those who received money from GiveDirectly and those who did not
Cow mooing N/A Transition to discussing Heifer International, a charity that gives cows for free, along with training and visits from charity staff, comparing to the work of GiveDirectly

Listening to this recording helped me envision being in a rural village in Kenya, while giving me a lot of food for thought regarding the work of various charities intended to improve the lives of people in developing worlds.

Note: The blog post title is based on the Jerry Maguire quote “Show me the money!” translated to Swahili using Webtranslations and IM Translator.