Monday, July 25, 2005

Talk is Not So Cheap

According to the latest buzz: about 50 percent of net users in the US and the UK are using broadband. That's great. I wish I were one of them.

As one of the remaining dialup users I've noticed a new trend that's probably related to the broadband thing that's happening. That is:
A fatter pipe leads to fatter files.

I'm a little guilty of contributing to this trend; in days past I'd make a concerted effort to keep any image files on a webpage below 20 kbs to aid the speed of loading—these days I've relaxed that to 50kbs for the sake of quality over ultimate speed.

Now, like most folks, I've lately been looking at podcasts. I right-click and download them manually rather than using any of the subscribe and forget solutions out there. As you can imagine, I can't tie up the phone line for hours on end.

Most podcasts I've grabbed range from 30 to 45 minutes in length, and they have all been MP3s so far. When MP3s are created they can be set to different compression levels depending on whether they are high quality stereo music—or simple spoken word.

Now we're getting to my gripe.

People are recording blah blah blah guy talking into a cheap mike for a half hour podcasts and encoding them at quality levels way higher than they need to be. I have started to download, then abandoned files that were up to 40 megs for 40 minutes of simple talk.

40 megs!

I've found that my tolerance inflection point for podcasts is 14 megs—beyond that I don't care how compelling the content may be—I won't be listening to it...

So please check the compression levels before encoding these files. Believe me: If it's just you blabbing, the higher compression Spoken Word settings sound just great.

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