2021, Allison Sheridan
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[0:00] Music.

[0:06] Technology Geek podcast with an ever so slight Apple bias. Today is Sunday, May 21st, 2023, and this is show number 941.

Marty Sobo of Unmute Presents on Sennheiser Profile Microphone

[0:17] Do you remember when Marty Sobo convinced many of us to buy the Elgato Wave XLR audio interface?
Well, he's back with another review. Now, Marty's a longtime friend of the show, and he and Michael Babcock, who is also a longtime friend of the show, have started a podcast called Unmute Presents.
It's really terrific. I've listened to a bunch of episodes. It's an Apple-centric podcast taken from an accessibility perspective as both of these gentlemen are blind.
Marty recently recorded a great tech review of a microphone he's enjoying and he offered it up for the NosillaCast.
So let's take a listen.
♪♪ Hey, all. Marty here. Today, I'm going to be talking to you about a brand-new microphone, that's just come out on the market.
This is called a Sennheiser Profile. So, who would this microphone be for?
This microphone would be for someone who is looking for a second backup microphone or someone who...

[1:23] Does not want to deal with interfaces, software configuration, all of that stuff that can be a real pain in the rear. So first, this microphone is constructed really nicely. You can use any regular stand or tripod, which I would recommend because if you get the stock microphone, It comes with a small round tabletop stand, but that is pretty low to the table.

[1:57] So you would want to get something that can get it up a little bit, otherwise you're going to be kind of hunched over and there's no adjustment.
It's one of those, just sit it on the table and that's about all you get.
I actually put the microphone onto a tripod to get it up, and that works much, much better.
But the tripod I'm using is still portable. The microphone itself is really solid.
It's metal construction, so it's really durable. Also, on the back, you've got two ports.
You've got a headphone jack for monitoring yourself, and you've got a USB-C port.
The USB-C port goes right into any device that will take USB.
So you can put it in a Windows machine, a Mac machine, an iPad, or any other tablet, anything that takes USB-C.

[2:53] You don't need any software whatsoever to make this microphone work.
You just plug it in and that's it.
It just works.
And then you can use any software for recording that you would wanna use.
So, if you're on an iPad or a Mac, something like that, you can use.

[3:14] Voice memos if you want, or any other recording software. Same for Windows and anything else.
So super easy, no configuration with any software, which is great, just plug it in and go.
Another great couple of details about this microphone is the front of the microphone has a mute button.

[3:41] Which is great, you can just hit that mute button whenever you need to, and it's capacitive, so you're not gonna hear any loud click noise or anything like that.
It also has a gain knob. It's got a mix knob and a master volume knob.

[3:59] So you have everything you need right on this microphone for making any kind of adjustments, if you need to mute, if you want to adjust the gain of the microphone, the mix in your headphones and the master volume.
And that is a great set of options to have right on the microphone, especially when you don't have any software.
So you plug it in and everything you need is right on the front and ready to go.

[4:29] When you hit the mute button, another cool feature about that is if you have vision, you can see the lights around the knobs will turn red letting you know that you are on mute.
So you get a visual there as well.
If you're not muted, then they go to like a white blue color letting you know that you're not muted.
So who would this microphone be for? Someone who's traveling.
If you need a secondary microphone and you don't want to carry an interface, a big huge microphone, XLR cables, all of that jazz, then I would say this is a great companion.
It will just plug in and go.
If you are someone who just wants to get your content out and you don't wanna worry about messing around with interfaces, messing around with software, trying to configure and do all of that stuff, then this is the microphone for you.
You basically set it up, you plug it in, and you hit record and you start talking.

[5:38] Problem that this microphone actually solves is if you're someone who's visually impaired or blind, then This would be a great microphone for you. Everything on here is tactile. So as long as you know, Which buttons or which knobs do what thing?
Then you're good to go. It's pretty easy to learn and figure that out. Everything is in vertical So the very top button would be the mute button and then the next three buttons gain mix and master volumes, Just go down Vertically, so real easy to figure everything out real easy to configure you can monitor your headset, pretty easily you just plug it in and.

[6:24] You're hearing yourself. So this is just you know, a great microphone good quality sound and And if you're looking for something quick, dirty, easy, no fuss, no muss, then I highly recommend this microphone.
It'll be a great option for anyone. It comes in around $130 for just the microphone with that bass stand.
And then they have a whole bunch of other options. So for example, if you want to get this microphone with a boom arm, arm. They have that option. I believe it's around $200 and then there's a whole bunch of other configurations where you can get it with headphones, you can get it with a boom arm, you can get it just the microphone by itself. So you can check out all the different packages and options they have for sale. So this is a great option. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants good quality sound something easy-peasy. So there you go. Hope you check it out and enjoy and We'll see you next time.

[7:28] Music.

[7:35] Well, thanks very much for that, Marty. You can all find Unmute Presents in your Podcatcher of Choice to hear Marty and Michael, along with guests that talk tech, and they have a call-in show where they talk to people who need help with some accessibility stuff. So it's a really, really fun episode. And I'm very pleased to tell you that I am going to be a guest on Unmute Presents really, really soon. So check it out in your Podcatcher of Choice.

I’m in Love With the Aura Digital Photo Frame

[8:00] According to Wikipedia, digital photo frames were first introduced in the 1990s. These frames allowed you to insert a memory card containing photos you took from your big girl camera. They were a pretty revolutionary idea. Now remember, there wasn't even an iPhone to view photos until late in the 2000s. If you were around at that time, you probably bought one of these digital photo frames and loved it at first. But if you were like me, found it mildly entertaining, but it lost its appeal after maybe a month or two. Mostly it was just too hard to fuss around with that memory card. It was even worse if you wanted to give the frame, say, as a gift to someone because you'd have to physically visit the frame in order to change out the photos. Eventually the technology advanced to include Wi-Fi, which facilitated easier data transfer. Now with the advent of photo sharing sites online and social media photo sharing, the digital photo frame kind of went out of vogue. But, But I'm going to try to convince you that there's a digital photo frame that might surprise and delight you and your family and friends.
The frame is from a company called Aura, that's spelled A-U-R-A, and you can find them at

[9:07] I first heard about the Aura frame from the Wirecutter, and after reading the review, I thought it might make an ideal present for Steve's mother Merlee.
She lives far from our kids, which means she isn't getting to see them often in real life.
She loves to see photos of them and of her great-grandchildren.
Heck, she even joined Facebook so she can see them. You know she really wants to see these pictures.
The specific frame I bought for Merlee is the Aura Carver for $149.
It has a 10.1 inch, 1280 by 800, 150 PPI screen, and it works on the 2.4 gigahertz Wi-Fi band.
The first thing that stands out about the Aura frame is that there is no subscription fee to go along with that purchase price.

[9:49] Others on the market, like Nixplay, require a subscription to unlock many of the features.
On the Aura site, they say, and I'm quoting, unlimited storage, no fees, share 10,000 plus photos and videos worry-free with no storage limit. Easily invite family and friends with the Aura app. No memory cards, no subscription fees.
Okay, I just finished telling you why digital photo frames went out of vogue as a category, so what's so cool about the Aura frame and what problem does it solve? It's hard to explain with a technical explanation, so instead I'd like to tell you about how I set up the frame from Raleigh and how I fell in love with it myself.
I bought the Aura frame from Raleigh about a month before Christmas because I wanted to be sure to understand how it worked on my own network before taking it to her house to set it up at Christmas.

[10:38] Aura know that people want to send their frames as gifts, so the setup immediately asks if if it's for you or as a gift.
The R-Frame was a delight to get on my network and adding photos could not be easier.
Now, the easiest way to add photos and up to 30-second videos is from their iOS or Android app, but you can also send photos through their web interface or you can even email photos directly to the frame.
I put the R-Frame on the dresser in our bedroom and I started adding photos to it.
I was able to easily invite Steve and my kids via an email invite so they too could add photos to Merlee's frame.
The kids jumped right on it, because they love Merle as much as we do, and I was delighted to see new photos coming in of my darling children and grandchildren.

[11:21] Now, this is the key, the surprise of a new photo, or the reminded giggle from a silly look, or the pulling at my heartstrings from a quiet moment captured in a photo.
This is why modern digital photo frames are magical.
Every time I walked by the Aura frame, there was some new magic waiting for me.
Now, the heartfelt love of my children and grandchildren had grafted onto the frame itself. It made me love the AuraFrame because I loved what it was showing me. There was only one problem with it. I had to give it away. It was like fostering a puppy and then having to give it away. Merle loves her AuraFrame as much as I did, but I was really sad. Until Steve bought me my very own AuraFrame for my birthday and now I'm happy again.
Alright, enough of this touchy-feely stuff. Let's talk about features. The iOS app is really good on both iPhone and iPad. There's an Android app, but of course I haven't tested that.
At launch on the iOS app, you can see what photos have been added recently and by whom, and you can add a heart or a comment as well. Below that, you have a big yellow add photos button which launches a photos picker that's looking into the photos app on your device.

[12:31] Click around on the images you want to add and you're done. That's it.
So here's a really nifty feature. If Kyle sends a photo to Merle's frame, since I have the frame in my app as well, I not only get a notification, but I also have the ability to download the image to my photos library from the Aura app. From there, I can push it up to my frame if he didn't already do it. I kind of get the best of both worlds.
The photo randomly shows up to delight me and I get it in my photos library. Since live photos are supported, I get the live photo in the download to my library as well.
When I first set up Merlee's frame in our bedroom, I was worried the bright frame might keep us awake.
But the instant you shut off the lights in the room, the Aura frame puts itself to sleep.
When light hits it in the morning, it wakes back up. They have thought of everything.
If you have someone in your life who doesn't want to use an app, you get a unique email address they can use to send photos to your Aura frame.
It's one of those security by obscurity things.
Aura recommend not using this for large batches of photos, but they really encourage you to to push as many at a time as you can via the app.
It's nice for a one-off photo here and there to use the email though.

[13:42] Now we also have a lot of things in our physical life such as paintings, old photos, and drawings that might be really cool to see in the Aura frame. I'm not sure how this works on Android, but on iOS, when you tap to add images and the photo picker pops up, it also has a little scanner button in the upper right. If you click this, it invokes the scanner functionality built into iOS.
Point your phone's camera at your child's darling drawing of the cat with five legs and the scanner app will find the edge of the paper and auto-scan the drawing.
When you save, it saves to your camera roll and then offers to let you assign a date to the image.
You can choose today's date, but it might be handy if the drawing was maybe done a long time ago to put in the original date.
Now, the ability to bring in artwork makes me wonder whether this would be a cool display device safe for artists to show off their work.
And I thought it was only for photos of my grandchildren.
There's a two to three inch long touch bar on the top of the Aura frame, Swiping and tapping on the touch bar allows you to do things like swipe back to an image you wanna see again, or a single tap will show you when the image was captured and where and who posted the image to your frame.

[14:49] A single tap shows you the date and location of the image if that date is available, and a long tap from there brings up a replay option for videos and live photos.
The first time video content is played, it is silent, which is what you want.
But if you ask for a replay, it will play the audio as well.
I originally thought that live photos also play their sound, but I couldn't get that to work. I thought my frame might be faulty, so I shot off a request for help from customer support. In about four hours, I got an email back from the lovely Meredith, who explained that it's just the videos that play audio on Aura frames.
I had two other minor issues with the frame, which Meredith also worked on.
Now, I'm not wild about the touch bar, it's probably my least favorite thing about it, but I don't find the urge to interact with a frame all that often. I mostly just like watching the photos go by in the slideshow and using the app to add more.
In poking around in the online user manual, I discovered that you can designate entire albums in Apple Photos to be uploaded to the Aura frame.
These can be regular albums or shared albums, and any new photos added to the album get automatically uploaded to the frame you've designated.

[15:56] Since our kids now have two frames to worry about, it might make their lives easier if if I just create a shared album, that automatically goes to both Merle and my frames.
On the other hand, since they wouldn't be invoking the Aura app, I wouldn't get notifications that a photo had been added, and I wouldn't know who added the photo.
I'm just not gonna tell them about this feature. Now I wanna briefly outline a few of the more interesting settings available for the Aura frame.
As a frame plays a slideshow, in settings you can change the timing of the slide from as low as 15 seconds to as long as 24 hours.
That seems a little bit long. The images can be displayed in boring chronological order or in a random shuffle.
If you enable autoplay videos, both videos and live photos will animate.
Now, some people really dislike live photos.
Dorothy calls them the jiggly ones and she doesn't like it. You can disable this feature if you like in settings.
Photo match is a feature that puts portrait images side by side, two of them, instead of just having one image and leaving you with black bars on either side.
The setting says it also creates moments of delight by pairing related photos such as the same person or event.

[17:07] All I know is it keeps pairing the Darlene Kennedy in lovely and endearing poses in, say, a dance outfit next to the goofball Sienna doing something ridiculous like pulling up her shirt and pushing her belly out.
I love the photo match feature. The frame's language can be changed from English to German or French.
I'm not entirely sure what changing the language means, and I'm afraid to test it.
It might just change the language in the app, or it might change the words on the screen like replay and volume to another language.
It's sad to be an ugly American who only speaks one language in spite of four years of high school French.
Well, the bottom line is that the Aura frame has absolutely won my heart.
I know the kids find the interface convenient and efficient to use, otherwise they wouldn't be so great about adding so many new photos all the time.
At $150 it's not inexpensive, but the picture quality is really great, it's bright when you need it to be, it turns itself off at night, and there's no subscription fee.
Some joy to someone or to yourself with the AuraFrame from or you can buy it on Amazon.

Tefeca Apple Watch Bands for Fit and Comfort — Bart Busschots

[18:11] Hi folks, Bart here with a review. So one of the little behind the scenes things you guys probably don't know is that on the weeks when there isn't a lot of security news, myself, and Alison still have an hour in our calendar, so we tend to just geek out for a while, which is fun. And one of the things we geeked out about last time we recorded was Apple Watch bands and I mentioned falling completely in love with an Apple Watch band and erm...

[18:34] Alison basically said, well, the audience love hearing about Apple Watch bands.
Why don't you do a review? So here I am.

[18:42] So the band in question is called the Tafeka Fortitude Series Ultra Wide Hook and Loop Band.
So the company is Tafeka and Ultra Wide is a series of bands they have, which are basically the full width of the little lug that connects the Apple Watch band to the Apple Watch.

[19:01] So most of them, you know, most times when you get an Apple Watch, they taper in from the lug into the band itself.
These are just completely flush. And so with a Series 7 Apple Watch, the lug is about the same width as the watch itself.
But for me, the whole thing is completely flush. It's actually a really, it's a rugged look, but I find that really quite stylish in that non-formal sort of way.
Way, and they have a little leather patch on them. It can be an American flag, it can be just a Tafika branding, it can be different things. I did not go with an American flag one. I went with a plain one that just says Tafika Fortitude, I think.
And hook and loop, of course, is code word for not Velcro really. So that means it's infinitely adjustable. Basically, you clip one lug on, the other lug is sort of loose, floating in the middle of the band. And it's hard to describe. Basically, it's just a Velcro loop. I'm over explaining it. It's just a Velcro loop. And so it adjusts infinitely to any width of arm, which is absolutely perfect for if you're doing sport or something and you don't want the darn thing to move. I really hate sports bands that have predefined holes.
I want them to be infinitely adjustable. So it looks good. It's infinitely adjustable, which are two big things for me. But the material, I don't know what they made this stuff of.
I don't know what goes in here.
It is the softest, nicest feeling band I have ever had against my arm.

[20:30] And it's not light, but it doesn't feel heavy. It's I don't know, it's just really pleasing.
It's very, very flexible.
I have a slightly similar full width band that's a surf band from Urban Armour.
And it just feels hard. It feels uncomfortable against your skin.
I do wear it in the rain because it is a surf band, so it's designed for even salty water.
So it has been for many years my main in-the-rain band, but, I always felt harsh and horrible. And the contrast with this Tafika Fortitude is just unbelievable.
Now, they do also make it in a narrower version. So if this whole ultra wide thing doesn't sound good, but the really nice material sounds good, they have it in both a normal and a wide version.
So I adore the wide version.
Anyway, it is also not very expensive. So the link will be in the show notes, but it's $26.99, which is Apple won't sell you anything for that price.
That will fit in your Apple watch. So it's actually very competitive.

[21:33] And I bought one for myself because I can't remember which someone in the Apple community recommended them.
And the picture sort of spoke to me in terms of its look. And so I went, oh, hey, it's only 20 whatever dollars.
Therefore, I'll buy one. And I did. And hence, I fell in love with it.
But anyway, soon as mine arrived, my better half took one look at it.
And like me, his first record was, oh, that looks good.
And then he put it on and said, Oh my God, that feels amazing. So he got one for his birthday. I went with a rich, beautiful navy blue. It is more appropriate to him, sort of a military green color, but he likes it. Unfortunately, though, his band gave me the opportunity to interact with Tafika's support because one of the springs in the lug on his band didn't work. So the band didn't click into the watch. And I was a bit disappointed. It was a birthday present. I gave it on his birthday. It didn't work. But I emailed support. I said, look, band arrived. It was a birthday present. Didn't actually work. Tried it on my watch.
Tried it on the Better House watch. I think it's broken. And within an hour, I had a shipment notification of the replacement on the way to me. And you really can't ask for better than that.
I got a very friendly email back apologizing deeply etc etc. So I was kind of so happy with, how they responded to an issue that I decided I wanted to give these people more money. So So I actually spent some time on their website because they have a lot of Apple Watch bands.

[23:01] And I ended up buying two more. So a bonus little extra review here.
Okay, so the first of the two bonus extras is the Tafika Hook Buckle Elastic Band, which I bought in green. And the reason I really like it is because it is now my favourite band for wearing in the rain. And that is a problem I need to solve quite often.
So a lot of Apple Watch bands, when they get wet, they get uncomfortable.
They get heavy feeling or just cold feeling.
They just feel itch on your arm.
Now, the the one for diving with works quite well, too, but quite a heavy band.
It's a very, very big band.
Whereas this hook buckle elastic band from Tafika is really light.
So it's it's a material that's very, very thin. It's not quite paper thin, but it's really surprisingly thin.
It's got a little bit of stretch in it, which I guess is why it's called an elastic band, but it has zero grippiness.
It doesn't feel rubbery. It feels like a material.
It's just a little bit of gear, physical material. And so it has a buckle, which might make you think it's not infinitely adjustable, but it actually is infinitely adjustable.
So it has an adjustment system that reminds me a lot of how you lengthen and shorten, say, the neck strap of a camera.
So you sort of adjust it once, and then the buckle is how you just take it on or off.

[24:26] And it works very well. Now this is kind of like the inverse of the Fortitude band because it is thin, narrow, it is absolutely not full width. It's a very very different map. Like I say it sounds up really well to getting wet and it is a whopping $24.99 and does indeed come in many more colours than just the green that I bought.

[24:51] The second one I bought is one I will never wear surfboard because it's useless for it.
It is for a completely different purpose. Sometimes when you're going out somewhere nice you want to wear an Apple watch band that is appropriate. I don't like formal but I do like to be well attired so I like to have a watch band that's respectable but playful, for when I go out to dinner or whatever. And that is what this third band from Tafika is perfect for. So it's called the Tafika Elastic Apple Watch Band Dash White Mathematics.
It's a solo loop, which means it's terrible for sport because it doesn't stay tight on your wrist.
It's not an Apple solo loop, it's from Tafika, so it's their own material. It's a different measurement, different size. And I don't find it as elastic-y as the Apple solo loops. And I don't I don't even like the Apple Solo Loops.
So definitely not one for sport. But, but, but, but, but, but.

[25:53] It's all black and it has in white on it a whole bunch of mathematical equations and diagrams.
It's like the ultimate snapshot of a nerdy blackboard in, you know, Goodwill Hulting or something.
It is the most nerdy thing. And because it's, you know, black with white writing on it, it's really good with, you know, fancy shirt or whatever, but it's playful, it's sciency and it's fun. And as a little bonus extra, it's currently 50% off, so you can get the White Mathematics Elastic Apple Watch Band from Tafika for a whopping $12.49.
Anyway, all the links are in the show notes, and hopefully some of you are intrigued and get yourself some of these bands. Well, I think I was right. The live audience is definitely excited about these watch bands, Bart. Everybody's talking about which ones they would get, And Kevin's decided that he should probably buy you the one with the American flag.
I said, good luck with that.

Audio Hijack Saves the Day on a Corrupted Audio File

[26:50] Well, the segment that you just heard from Bart almost didn't make it to the show.
We still don't know what happened, but by the time that audio recording arrived on my end from Bart, the file was broken. So let me give you a little background first.
Bart has Dropbox installed on his iMac, but not on his new Mac Studio.
So when he needs to put a file in Dropbox, he either copies it to his iMac's Dropbox folder or he just saves directly to that folder on the iMac.
He recorded the segment using the very reliable software, Amadeus Pro, and he saved out an uncompressed AIFF file to his iMac to the Dropbox folder that he and I share.
I checked out the recording using my new MacBook Air, where I haven't yet set up all of my tools.
I double-clicked on the uncompressed AIFF file, and it opened in the Music app, and I heard his dulcet tones.
It opened in Music because I hadn't yet done the trick on this new Mac to tell macOS which app I wanted to use to open audio files. I definitely don't want audio files opening in music because it makes a copy in your music library. Since I create several gigabytes of audio files each week, the last thing I want is copies of those files on my disk.
I selected Bart's AIFF file, I used Command-I to get info, and I changed the Open With to QuickTime and I told it to change all files of this type to Open in QuickTime. Then I.

[28:12] Then I double-clicked on the file again, and to my horror, I saw a message that the file could not be opened by QuickTime.
The file was corrupted. I tried to open it in Hindenburg, but it reported the same problem.
I opened it again in Music, and I was still able to play it there.
I listened to the whole thing in Music, only to find that the recording stopped abruptly about 5 minutes in, even though Music said the file was 7 minutes long.
This is when I knew we were in real trouble.

[28:41] Bart and I started texting, and of course he was very sad, having gone to all the work of making that recording, and you know, he does it kind of extemporaneously, and it was a great recording, he was on his game, so he was very sad that this was broken.
Since he'd saved directly to the folder on his iMac that syncs to Dropbox, he had no original Amadeus file, nor a copy of the original export on his Mac.
He asked me whether I could recover the first five minutes, so he would only have to re-record the last couple of minutes.
I tried exporting from music, but the exported file wouldn't open in any other app either.
I noodled the problem and I came upon the obvious solution. I used Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack to listen to the playback of the file from music and save it to a perfect digital copy.
This sounds like a complex operation, but it's so trivially easy to do this with Audio Hijack.
I opened Audio Hijack and I created a blank session.
I dragged in an application block as a source and I set the application to be music.

[29:39] I dragged in a recorder block as an output, and I set it to record a lossless M4A file.
I also dragged in an output block, and I set it to my speakers, that way I would be able to hear during playback so I'd know when it was done.
This is a perfect example of why the software is named Audio Hijack.
I used it to hijack the audio coming out of the Music app.
I ran the Audio Hijack session, hit Play on Music, and when I was done listening, when When I heard Bart stop talking, I stopped the session, which saved a copy of the first five minutes.
The good news is, this hijacked version plays in all apps, as expected.
I love Audio Hijack and I constantly find new uses for it.
While this was a clever fix, it turns out there was an even better solution from Rogue Amoeba.
Again, since this is a new Mac and I've only been installing apps as I need them, I hadn't yet downloaded Rogue Amoeba's Fission lossless editor.
I don't talk about Fission too much because it's only a single-track editor.
I really want Rogamib to make a multi-track editor and then I would never use anybody else's tools.
Anyway, I still use Fission often, mostly to view the waveforms of test recordings to make sure everyone on a call is close to the same level.
And if I have a little bitty thing I need to do, just cut a little bit of audio out, I'll use Fission to do that.
When I realized I hadn't yet installed Fission on my new MacBook Air, I quickly rectified that situation.
Now here's the great part. It was able to open and play that original corrupted file.

[31:08] That was still truncated to only 5 minutes out of 7, of course, but I was able to ask Fission to export to a new file and it successfully created a working copy that would open in QuickTime and other apps. So even though the file was still corrupted, it was able to create a copy that would work, unlike the music app.
Turns out I didn't actually need to hijack the file to get a good working file if I used Vision.
Now, while Bart and I were both happy that Rogue Amoeba saved the day, or at least five-sevenths of the day, we still don't know how the file got truncated.
Bart did a second recording that I'm going to be playing next week, and something almost weirder happened to that recording.
There's a long stretch in the middle of the recording that is dead silence.
We're really baffled on how this happened, and if we can't figure it out, we won't know how to make it never happen again in the future. If we had the original source file from Amadeus, we could maybe find out whether the missing pieces were never recorded, but that seems highly unlikely. Bart wondered whether Saba, also known as SMB, the way the iMac is communicated with from his Mac studio, whether maybe SMB could have caused the corruption. I think, that's equally unlikely because I can't see how a file corruption at the disk write level could precisely slice out a chunk of the audio, leaving the audio on either side intact.
But you know what? What do I know?
If you have any ideas on how both of these failures could have happened, we are all ears.

Support the Show

[32:37] When Bart and I record Programming by Stealth together, or I interview someone for Chitchat Across the Pond Light, we use Zoom to have the conversation. I'm sure that's not a big surprise because pretty much everybody uses Zoom, but what you may not know is that for the conversation to last more than 40 minutes, you have to have a paid Zoom account. I just got my Zoom bill and it was $157.02. That means if three people would sign up for Patreon for a dollar a week, they would almost cover the $157.02. It would be $156. I could cover the dollar too.
Now, if you'd rather get 13 people together and each pay a dollar a month instead of a dollar a week instead, that would work too. That would also be $156. All you need to do is go to slash Patreon and pledge your support to help keep the show going.

How Jill from the Northwoods Uses AI to Help Her Write

[33:28] Hello, this is Jill from the Northwoods. I realized a while ago that I really dislike writing.
And, well, maybe dislike is a harsh term, but I'm certainly not good at it.
I can get things done. Obviously, the work world needs me to be a good writer.
I took a few classes, too, through the university extension, and that helped quite a bit.
But still, it takes a long time for me to write, and I don't enjoy the process at all. certainly more of a talker, or at least all my teachers told me so.

[34:03] When I started to hear about AI and how it helps people do all sorts of different tasks, I was really interested in it. But I'm also not really interested in it writing things for me.
I see all sorts of people say that it writes their papers for them, it writes their podcasts for them, it writes their blog articles for them. Not interested in that. I want my creative content to be mine. I don't want it to be some AI's business. I also think that podcast listeners don't want to listen to AI composed podcasts. It's dull. It has no personality to it. That is why people turn into podcasts in the first place. I did want to learn the technology. I believe in keeping up with technology. And so I started with a few minor tasks.
I had it write some biographies of Star Trek captains, like Janeway. I didn't know where she came from.
So, I had ChatGBT go find out for me and write a little biography of her. That was cool, and that did a lot of work.
I also asked it to do some listings, like what are the leaders in Star Wars.
Maybe it was going to come up with a few people I hadn't considered for an episode that I was doing.

[35:17] Then came a few months ago, I had to pare down an important document, too much text to it, and I really needed it to be one, maybe one and a half pages.
I was just struggling to consolidate my thoughts about it. And I asked it to shorten this document.
And sure enough, it did a really great job. I had to rewrite parts of it and some of it was not quite exactly what I wanted, but it was able to take that analytical look at this document and see where there was overlap.
It did a great job. I think it would have taken me hours and hours of just diving into this document, hoping that I could figure something out, but instead it saw through it all.

[36:02] Then came time for the biography I needed for Mac Stock. I am going to be speaking there this year and I have a biography but it's for when I do corporate presentations at work conferences.
Boy is it boring. So I thought here's an interesting task. I asked ChatGPT to rewrite it but make it funny. You know what? It did such a great job. I ran it through twice and then took the best parts out of both renditions. Just to give you a little flavor, the full transcripts will be in the blog article. Quote, Jill's not all work and no play. Oh no, she's got a whole other side to her. She's got not one, not two, but three podcasts. Start with Small Steps and Small Steps with God are already up and running. And she's got a third one in the works about seeing nature in the world around you. She's like the Oprah of the podcast world, except instead of giving away cars, she's giving away tips for better life. The whole piece was funny. It made me laugh. It made Allison laugh. It made my friends laugh. And now it's just my favorite bio. I'm going to use it every place I can. So that was a lot of fun.

[37:19] I even tried to use it to text my best friend. She knows I can't write very well, and when I do, I tend to be very short. I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to follow up with you regarding our plans to go to Trader Joe's. I apologize if I missed the time we had previously discussed, but I was wondering if you could let me know what time we will be heading over there.

[37:44] I am looking forward to our trip and am excited to see what goodies we will find at the store.
Thank you in advance for getting back to me with the time." So I waited a while and she didn't even answer me.
She says, I don't talk to robots. So she even knew it wasn't me, but still very good.
Maybe not for every use.
But then came the real problem I was trying to solve.
I want to have a podcast empire. In order to do that, I have to make everything I do more efficient.

[38:19] When I started podcasting, I had full blog articles. Allison really impressed on me how important it is to have the transcripts, the blog articles, people taking information in different ways.
And some people with disabilities can't take in information in every way.
So what can I do? I started out with my podcast, writing the blog articles, doing the whole part of it.
But the problem with it is that it took me hours.
It was taking me longer to write the blog articles than it was to do the podcast.

[38:53] I didn't enjoy it and I also have a job. I need to streamline this process so I can get more done during my free time. It struck me, what if I could run my transcripts through AI and do the show notes for me? Like I said, I started out with full-blown articles about it, then I went to highlights and summaries, and then eventually it went to one or two sentences that explained what what the podcast is.
I mean, it's not very exciting and I wasn't doing a good job with it.

[39:25] So I started using the app for Mac, Whisper, to transcribe my older podcast.
It does such a great job.
But then when it comes to the A.I., which one am I going to use?
There's a couple of different options out there.
Funny how first there was chat GPT and suddenly it's just exploding in A.I.s.
So I wanted to find something that was useful, valuable, accurate.
So I started looking at the different products out there. Of course, ChatGBT was my first thought.
I ran a few summaries through it, and it did a great job. It really summarized the podcast well.
It made interesting sentences. But then I noticed it was starting to make things up, things I never said.
The one podcast I had a trouble with the most was the one about the bickering leaders of Star Wars.
It had content about the different leaders and how they didn't like each other and that they fought each other.
He even talked about some of the bad leaders, the evil leaders inside of Star Wars.

[40:29] And when I ran it through ChatGBT, it changed the whole nature of the podcast, turning it into roses and sunshine and cooperation. That is not what I said at all.

[40:40] So, did it not like the fact that this was a more negative topic? Not really negative, but it wasn't in the most uplifting way possible. Can't have a podcast transcription or show notes, that is made up. I even asked to pull out the top quotes from this article and it made those quotes up as well. Weird. I was listening to an author talking about how he put his book into ChatGPT and asked it to summarize it for him and not only did it summarize it for him, it added characters, dialogue, things that never happened in the book. So sometimes ChatGPT has a mind of its own.
Then I tried Notion, and if you haven't used Notion, it's a whole other thing, but it is my database program.

[41:31] That sounds too technical for what it is. It is my notebook of everything.
It has all my podcast ideas.
It has all my podcast topics. I have a little database for each podcast.
When the podcast was done, what was the date it was released?
Which status is it in? Which book did I review?
All my details together. I also have like a little light budget in there and a note-taking, Notebook that has everything that I find interesting and I want to look up later goes inside of notion, Really fantastic, but each of my podcast episodes now has a place for quotes from the podcast transcripts, Social media that I'm planning on using.

[42:15] Notion came out with Notion AI and allowed paid users to test it out.
And it was pretty solid. I was very impressed with it. So then when the beta ended, it asked people to pay $10 a month, which I'm not big on services, but this was really helpful.
I started paying for the services because I knew I wanted to do some form of AI for my podcast.

[42:42] The good thing about the Notion AI itself is that it can look at the Internet. I could ask it to write a biography a Captain Janeway or Captain Kirk or list every episode that talks about wine inside of Star Trek.
I mean I could do all sorts of things with it, but it's also looking at my private internal notes.
So my transcripts that I'm getting from Whisper goes into the notebook and then I can ask it to do many different things with it.
I can ask it to summarize, I could ask it to rewrite it to make it more concise.
Not sure that I would do that with a podcast, but notes would be fantastic for it.
If it finds to-do or action items inside of a meeting note, it will pull all the to-do's out so that you can see them clearly about who got assigned what tasks to do.
Having that internal look as compared to just things that are on the internet makes it a much more powerful tool.
You can even have it create databases. I watched a fellow do a video where he said, compare all the snowboards for me and the pluses and minuses of each of the snowboards in a chart.
And sure enough, it created a notion database of all the different brands of snowboards and all the pluses and minuses. Very helpful.
And I haven't used that aspect yet, but I could see where that would be great when you're you're trying to compare things.

[44:10] So then my first step was to ask Notion to write a summary of my podcast and it did a very accurate job.
If I had a problem with it, is that it took all 170 episodes of podcasts and wrote them in a very similar fashion.
Use the same words. Jill discusses. Jill emphasizes. All the same practical words.
It's very steady. It makes for a very solid show note.
It brought out all the points that were the most important, and I had to break out the thesaurus and come up with a few better words because sometimes it was pretty boring.
But fair enough, it did a great job.
At that point, because it did such a good job, I replaced the show notes of all of my podcasts, using the Notion AI summaries.
I even went in and created a template. each of my podcasts, where I can put in the transcripts, and Notion AI lets you create buttons. So I put buttons in there. One button is to summarize the podcast. One button is to generate social media tweets. Another button was to come out with key points from this blog article.

[45:26] I noticed that not only would it do those tasks inside the button, but when there were fields inside my database notebook, it also tried to fill those fields out too.
I thought that was just amazing because if I said something about the resources I used, it tried its best to figure out what resource was being used.
That was wild. So not only did it answer the questions I asked it to, it tried to answer more than that.

[45:53] And then I made a mistake when I was writing this article up to record. I accidentally clicked on the summary button on a blank topic. So all it had was the topic name and then the generate summary button. So there was nothing to generate. You know what it did? It actually tried to write the podcast for me. I didn't say any of that. Then it suggested three resources for me for, this particular podcast. One of them was weird and had nothing to do with my topic, but the other two seemed somewhat related. Then it pulled a quote for me that was about the topic.
If you don't know my podcast, I always read a quote at the beginning. It found one for, me. It even wrote fake reviews for the episode that hasn't even been done yet. That was just wild. It will try to do whatever it can do to make it useful to you. It's hopefully going to cook my dinner soon too. But then I started noticing this interesting thing inside of Word documents, inside of Notion itself. I saw the Grammarly icon that was there, you know, you get a little writing pencil that shows there could be edits, you could write things a little bit better, there's a grammar mistake here or there. Then it had a green light bulb next to it. What's this green light bulb?

[47:14] I clicked on the green light bulb and sure enough, it is something called Grammarly Go, which is an AI from Grammarly. Grammarly, if you don't know, does such a fantastic job of fixing grammar. You can use it with all different kinds of software, mail applications, Word, Notion, LinkedIn, web pages. There's a plugin that goes into Safari and other browsers.
But you can tell it when it's correcting your grammar that I need to sound a little bit more formal or this document is meant to be friendly and it rates your tone so you're coming in exactly where you want to be when it comes to tone or the kind of voice you want to use when it's correcting your documents but here's the thing that Grammarly Go will do which is a part of the Grammarly desktop application, it will also now generate text just like all the other AIs.

[48:13] But you can also then say things like shorten it, lengthen it, improve it, adjust the tone, make it more direct, make it more confident. Whatever it is that you're looking to do, it will also write the document for you and fix it. But instead of having to use some sort of magic code hoping that the AI understands what you want, it has, really nice buttons that will let you type something in like list all the Star Trek captains. Boom. List them all. Now list all the Star Trek captains and, add a short biography of each of them. Writes that too. And then you can adjust the tone, do whatever it is you want to do with it.

[49:02] You have a free account, you can ask it for a hundred prompts or have it write a hundred things for you. With the premium account, which costs $12 a month, it will, write 500 prompts for you. And there's also a business level for organizations.
That's kind of nice and you don't have to know the secret code to get the right type of document in there. It's in through this nice menu system. I looked on their website and they consider it to be in a beta phase. So now I decided to run a test of how each of these pieces of software could write and summarize a podcast episode for me so I could put it in my show notes.
Chachbt said, on today's episode of Small Steps to Authenticity, we dive into an insightful article titled, Bring the Real You on Dates.
The article emphasizes the importance of embracing authenticity during the dating process.
Okay, that's fair enough. And again, you'll be able to see the full paragraph. It wrote in the show notes I don't want to get too much into the reading when I asked notion to look at the same document it said.

[50:15] This is a summary of episode 140 of start with small steps podcast. Oh good I got my podcast right in this episode the host discuss how to bring your authentic self to dates and relationships, Okay. Well, that's informative Every time I use notion, it's very informational, but it tended to use the same word.
I discuss, I give advice, I emphasize, seem to always use those same words, which makes it kind of boring if you're doing 170 of these.
But here was Grammarly. Today's discussion revolves around the book, The Selfish Romantic, How to Date Without Feeling Bad About Yourself, by Michelle Elman.
The book talks about building relationships together instead of just doing something for the other person.
The author highlights some myths about dating, such as the idea that all the good ones are taken or opposites attract.
See, that was better. And I thought it was more engaging, more interesting, and more useful, I think, for a podcast.
So now I'm a little sad that I finished doing this for all of my podcasts, and might start going back and redoing some of these to use grammarly.
I think it came out with a better paragraph.

[51:34] But then I decided, what if I wanted to be funny? Are any of these AIs funnier than the other?
So then I said, do a summary of this document again, one paragraph, but make it funny.
So this was chat GPT. Hey there, hopeless romantics. If you're tired of pretending to be someone you're not on dates, this hilarious article, Bring the Real You on Dates, has your back.
True love might be just one ridiculous cat sweater away. That was kind of funny. I like that one.
Notion said, are you tired of going on dates and pretending to be someone you're not?
Finally, a resource that encourages you to embrace your inner weirdo.
And let your freak flag fly.
Okay, I don't think I said that, but good notion, you tried really hard to be funny there.
But this was Grammarly. So you wanna bring the real you on dates?
I mean, you should embrace vulnerability, honor your values, be honest, then it goes on towards the end.
So go forth and be genuine, my friend. And if all else fails, bring a puppy.
Everybody loves puppies.
Now, I didn't say a word about puppies, but that's pretty funny.
So again, I think Grammarly did the most interesting job of all three of them.

[53:02] So overall, now that I've run this test, I think that ChatchiBT is the most interesting one, but it just makes up too much stuff. It adds things that didn't exist. It talks about things that never were parts of the podcast or the original document. Notion is boring, but factual.
It did a very effective job of writing this, and I didn't have to upload my documents again to the internet because it was all inside my own little notebook that I have. But when it comes down to my favorite, I have to say that Grammarly was the best. Not only that, it was pretty funny, it shortened my podcast topics, and it had all those nice buttons that if I needed to make it more formal or more informative or funny, it was all right there for me to do much more easily.

[53:56] So, my biggest piece of advice when it comes to using chat AI is that you learn the software, you know, pick something, chatGBT or Notion AI or Grammarly or something else and learn it really well.
They call what you tell these AI machines prompts. So, I first started out by putting the transcript from the Whisper software into my Notion database.
And then I said summarize it and again, they did a nice efficient job but then I started playing with it a little bit more and I said, Put in paragraphs because when you get it out of whisper, it comes in one big paragraph Maybe you'd save me a little bit of effort by actually putting the paragraphs in you know, I did.

[54:42] Then I said put in paragraphs and rewrite the document to correct for grammar, Because grammar is not my forte even if I'm speaking, I still flub up every once in a while and it did that nicely too.
So if you learn the AI software well, if you learn how to create prompts, I think our next big career is going to be people who understand prompts better than anybody else. I have seen some almost 200 word prompts going into various AI products to get exactly what you want out of it.

[55:19] It. But learning that software will help you get what it is you're trying to find inside the AI. There you go. I think that using AI not to create content, again, I think podcasts and blog articles that do that are just going to be dull. We want to hear the human inside of what we read and what we listen to, but using it to save time or get a different aspect or a different point of view than we're used to reading, I think it's been more valuable than anything.

[55:55] So I hope you enjoyed this and I hope it helps you start thinking about using AI to help make jobs that you're not excited to do a little bit easier. I know a lot of people are worried and stressed out about AI and I think there are things to worry about for sure, but learning how to use it and learning how to be effective at it and taking away some of these tasks that you really don't want to do, will make all of us better in the future and allow us to spend our time doing the parts of our jobs we really love doing.
Again, this is Jill from the Northwoods. If you have anything to say about this particular clip, you'll find the blog article on Allison's website, or you can email me at jill at start with small steps dot com.
Let me know what you think, or if you've tried other things.
I'm always interested in what people are doing with AI and how they're finding creative of ways to make their lives better.

[56:52] Well, thanks so much for that, Jill. I thought that was really, really fascinating.
Not just the research that you did to figure out which one was the best one, but just the idea that you're using it to augment what you do really well with the things that maybe you struggle with and are a little bit harder for you.
So I think that's just a perfect use of the tool. I thought it was fantastic.
And like the live audience has been saying, you have such a calm, wonderful voice, but it's playful and we all love listening to you. So really appreciate you doing that recording for us.
But that is going to widen us up for this week. Did you know, you can email me at allison at and you can send emails telling me how much you like listening to Jill more than listening to me.
Anyway, don't tell me that. I don't want to hear that. If you have a question or a suggestion, just send it on over to allison at
You can follow me on Mastodon at podfeet at
Remember, everything good starts with If you want to join in the conversation, You can join our Slack community at slash slack, where you can talk to me and all of the other lovely Nosilla Castaways.
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And if you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to slash live on Sunday nights at 5 p.m. Pacific time and join the friendly and enthusiastic Nosilla.

[58:13] Music.

[58:25] Castaways.