Grand Turk Island.

Grand Turk Island. There is very little on the island except really great beaches and even better diving. I took a taxi from one end of the island to the other, to see the lighthouse and the island in general.

Th lighthouse in the sun. This is very close to the spot where many people believe Columbus first landed on the left side of the Atlantic.
Th lighthouse in the sun. This is very close to the spot where many people believe Columbus first landed on the left side of the Atlantic.

More interestingly, the old US Navy Base (a suitable distance for keeping an eye on Cuba) is now all broken down.
More interestingly, the old US Navy Base (a suitable distance for keeping an eye on Cuba) is now all broken down.




I went to a dive center to go snorkeling.
I went to a dive center to go snorkeling.

I waited by this beach for my boat.
I waited by this beach for my boat.

I joined the dive master and a couple on the boat. They all did a scuba dive, and I tagged along with snorkeling. The snorkeling spot is the best place I’ve ever been, for both water clarity, sea life, types of rock, etc.
I joined the dive master and a couple on the boat. They all did a scuba dive, and I tagged along with snorkeling. The snorkeling spot is the best place I've ever been, for both water clarity, sea life, types of rock, etc.

I dived down to 44 feet, for sure, as the dive master checked when I reached the group. I know I dived deeper than that though, down to about 50 feet. In doing so, it seems I didn’t equalize the pressure in my mask, and got these weird bruises around my eyes.
I dived down to 44 feet, for sure, as the dive master checked when I reached the group. I know I dived deeper than that though, down to about 50 feet. In doing so, it seems I didn't equalize the pressure in my mask, and got these weird bruises around my eyes.

It was a holiday. The town was deserted by mid-afternoon.
It was a holiday. The town was deserted by mid-afternoon.

I took photos of the Prinsendam as the sun set.
I took photos of the Prinsendam as the sun set.


Here’s a HDR photo of the Prinsendam. I take a lot of photos of this ship, and I think this is one of my favorites.
Here's a HDR photo of the Prinsendam. I take a lot of photos of this ship, and I think this is one of my favorites.


Devil’s Island, French Guyana.

Devil’s Island, French Guyana. It’s a tiny island, once a French prison, and now full of monkeys, parrots, and other wildlife.

The Prinsendam from the island.
The Prinsendam from the island.

Looking across to another small island.
Looking across to another small island.

Monkey!
Monkey!

Monkey!
Monkey!

Parrot!
Parrot!

More parrots.
More parrots.

Feeding parrots.
Feeding parrots.

Monkey!
Monkey!

What the hell is this animal?
What the hell is this animal?

Leaves.
Leaves.

Branches.
Branches.

Old windows.
Old windows.

Playing with my strobe.
Playing with my strobe.

Me.
Me.


Background music in podcasts

I listen to a podcast which started on a forum I read called Atomic Trivia War 9000: The Podcast: The Game. It’s a lot of fun, though a lot of that fun comes from chatting with many of the participants on the forum for the last few years, so I already know and like their personalities.

Anyway, on the latest posted episode:

Posted By: JasonYou may notice right away that we’ve added some ambient music to the background. I’m torn about whether it works — let us know what you think.

Below is my impassioned reply. I think I might collect all my blog posts about podcasting together to make “Luke’s Guide to Making Podcast Luke Likes.”

I’ve not listened yet, but as soon as there is background music on a podcast, I generally stop listening. It isn’t needed. Your podcast is a lot of fun already, and the quality is in the guests and interactions. The editing is fine. You don’t need background music.

When background music works:
a. when it is specially composed or chosen to reflect and enhance the mood or emotions or themes of the content it is accompanying.
b. no other times.

Update:

So between writing the above and going online again to post it, I began listening to the podcast. It is worse than I imagined it would be.

For a start, I have an infection in my left ear at the moment, and can’t hear anything on that side, so I’m only using the right ear bud. The music is making it way harder to hear everything. It’s so bad I may listen to the rest on my laptop.

Second, while I was listening to the program I was walking around the promenade deck of the ship. At one end some music was playing, and the music playing under the chat on your podcast clashed with it constantly. I can’t always control other music in the background, in real life, when listening to podcasts, radio or audio books. If the real life background music was constant, I wouldn’t be able to listen to your podcast at all.

Third, I don’t listen to your podcast for your taste in music. I listen for the banter and geekiness. I really enjoy electronic music, and techno and drum and bass and all that, but music bland enough to work as background music is just that. Bland. (That said, the final credits music in this podcast is pretty cool, though I’m not sure I could deal with more than 10 seconds of it.)

Fourth, it constantly sounds like you are either still introducing the podcast, or are about to wrap it up.

Fifth, the music is setting the pace, in the listeners mind, of the conversation. Every comedic pause and pause for thought is filled with beats and bass, and is simply killing the energy. In a typical quiz show, they use music behind the question rounds for real effect, as the music builds or gets faster in some way, to create tension. In between the questions, when the hosts or contestants are just talking, there is no music.

Sixth, going back to my pre-listening points above, the music choice just doesn’t fit with the content. At one point you are discussing the history of Metropolis, and you guys are actually being interesting and informative, not just joking about comics. But the music is just bleeping away in the background, undermining the current level of conversation. Then there is a round about Greek Mythology, and compared to that the music is just trite.

And even worse, when someone makes a joke about learning the myths from anime or something, it isn’t funny. The tone has already been destroyed by the music, so a joke that was designed to be self-deprecating, when spoken over shitty techno, just isn’t funny any more.

Seventh, see points one to six again.

Music accompanying spoken words is amazing, when done well. You mention Bladerunner in this podcast, and a while ago I listened to a radio show where they discuss the movie. There they played a clip from the very end “… like tears in rain…” and with the music playing, I teared up myself!

Also I listened to the every episode of A Life Well Wasted in about a day and a half, and the music in that is amazing. Like I said, normally if there is background music in a podcast, I just don’t bother, but his podcast kept me enthralled, even if I didn’t particularly care about the subject matter.

I kept thinking “How has he managed to find all this music that matches the content and tone of interviews so perfectly?”

And then, of course, I found out he produced the music himself. Of course the tone of the two mediums fit perfectly, he designed it that way from the start! Of course, it takes him months to record and edit his shows. But you can tell! The care and attention and craft and skill and heart he puts into each episode is way more than I’ll ever fit into ten of mine.

But then, I don’t have to use background music I wrote myself (though I did write the theme music to my own podcast) because that isn’t why people listen. And you don’t have to use music either, because people listen for the banter and fun. You use of music is killing that. People here won’t point that out, because they are used to the personalities and format, and this change won’t put them off. But if this was the first episode I listened to, I wouldn’t have made it through, because I don’t know you, and the music is just a reason for me to turn it off.


Wrapping up plans and goals for 2010.

Soooooo…. that was quite a marathon of blog posts about what I did in 2010! Maybe soon I’ll get round to posting my plans and goals for 2011. Again, this shit is as much for me to keep track of what I’ve done than for anyone bored enough to read the more wordy posts to this blog.

At the end of my original 2010 blog post I reduced the entire list down to 2 points, the two most important plans and goals for 2010:

The first was to continue working on cruise ships, and continue improving my solo show. This has been a great success, and I’m better than ever, with many prospects for the future.

The second was to work very hard on my Room Theatre Project, which has been a failure considering my lofty expectations at the beginning of the year. I think I set my goals too high.

In fact, I think I remember saying that the two goals worked against each other, as one relied on me being away from Berlin, and the other relied on me being in Berlin. It turned out “away from Berlin” won out, and whenever I was in Berlin I was concentrating on other projects, and socializing, and just relaxing at home, rather than trying to work on entire new show.

Again, I’m going to let this inform any plans I make for 2011 and beyond.

In conclusion: 2010 proved to be a very productive year! And a lot of fun. How can it not be fun? I have the best job in the world, one which leaves me almost as much free time as it is possible to have.


Miscellaneous plans and goals section in 2010.

“Get better at speaking German. I plan to hire a personal tutor, as regular classes don’t work with my schedule.”

Half and half. I didn’t manage to work with any private tutor, but I do think my German improved this year, despite spending far less than half of my time in Germany. I managed to perform my full show in German twice, and I was very happy with that. It’s certainly something I want to improve more in the future, but learning German is, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done. Forget learning how to juggle, or anything else in these plans and goals lists; learning a language just kills me.

“Try to spend a few hours a week in the gym whenever I’m on a cruise ship.”

I kept this up for while, for a few cruises, but it wasn’t the last. My health and fitness varied throughout the year, the story of which could almost make blog post in its own right, but generally I’m quite healthy. I have very little need to spend time in a gym.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

It’s a fail anyway.

“Spend more time with friends.”

Win. This mainly comes down to making new friends as well, and getting into better routines while in Berlin.

“Make new friends.”

Win. It was good to make new friends in Berlin, but who aren’t jugglers, and didn’t know me as one half of a now defunct relationship. Handy!

“Have sex.”

Win. The details are for me and my private diary, not my blog, but needless to say it was one of the first things I ticked off this list in 2010.

“Maybe buy a new laptop. This macbook has served me well for almost two years, but I’m doing more and more music and video and photo editing, and it’s struggling a bit. I think I’ll buy a full spec 13″ MacBook Pro, and upgrade to a solid state hard drive for super quick load times. ”

Win. I actually bought a 15 inch MacBook Pro. It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought except for a car. But I think it’s worth it, considering I use it daily and constantly.

This section: 4.5 wins versus 1.5 fails. Not bad.