Things are brightening up!

Hey everyone,

This week Dr. Cassanello and I have finally heard back a bit about our STARS site built through UCF’s infrastructure. Ms. Lee Dotson emailed us asking for the front pages of the Florida Historical Quarterly issues associated with the various podcasts so that she could post the images of the issue with the first iteration of the site. I set up a time time meet with her to drop these off and in my email I mentioned I had them on Google Drive. Instead of making a special trip to campus, Ms. Dotson suggested I just share the files via Drive and that she prefered it that way. Finally some people are starting to use Drive!


In addition to waiting for the site to go live so we can continue adding information and features to the archive/storefront, I’ve been asked to experiment with different microphones and recording settings. I had mentioned this in an earlier blog post, but that was when I received the assignment. I’ve finally finished it.

I recorded myself talking in my office, living room, on the front porch, and at Lazy Moon. ideally, these locations changed the recorded audio based off of their properties. I also used three different setups of microphones during this.

The office I recorded is filled with two desks, a few full bookshelves, and a variety of other crafting things my girlfriend owns. When I recorded in this environment I found that a lot of the sound was being absorbed by the books in the room, making the recording extra quiet. Recording with the onboard mic produced a boomy and gain-filled recording, while recording with the separate microphones produced a stereo track that sound pretty good, but it still had lots of gain.

Next I recorded the same passage of the book I had read aloud in the office in my living room. This room has vaulted ceilings and a relatively open concept, so it’s just a large open room. When I recorded in this area, the absorption by the books was absolutely noticeable as the recording literally peaked the recorders levels. I had to lower the recording levels to produce a usable sound, but this room just created a significantly louder and echoed version of the recording in the office.

Next, I recorded outside on my front porch. This caused the mic levels to dramatically drop due to no echoes being produced since we were effectively in the open air. I raised the levels in an effort to catch the voices I was recording, eventually getting a useable recording that was probably the second bes sounding next t the office recording.

I also thought it would be interesting to record in a public place and analyze the differences. I invited my old roommate to lunch at Lazy Moon and he read a paragraph from Moby Dick. This recording initially maxed out the microphone’s sensitivity as there was a few dozen people loudly talking, sports, and people yelling for orders. I lowered the levels to about 50% of the normal levels and recorded my friend.

When I brought them to Dr. Cassanello he was satisfied with my work until he got to the Lazy Moon recording. Here he said it sounded like I had eliminated the gian issues all of the other recordings had. he asked me to continue recording things in with the same settings I did in Lazy Moon to see if that would permanently eliminate gain.


Waiting it out

Hey everyone, unfortunately this week will be a bit dry in content.

Dr. Cassanello and I have been waiting for Mrs. Lee Dotson to finish up on her work with the Florida Historical Quarterly podcast website. She’s currently finishing things up with the STARS database. When we met her about a month ago we left her with every episode of the podcast as well as the metadata I had collected over the end of the Spring semester and the beginning of Summer. Even though both of these have changed due to the extra metadata I created and the Winter 2016 episode releasing, she assured us that once the site was up and running that it would be easy to edit metadata and add other podcasts.

When the site finally goes live, we should have a variety of information to publish on the page, these include:

  • full episodes in audio format
  • full episodes in video format via YouTube
  • Table of Contents for each issue
  • bibliographic style entries
  • endnote/footnote style entries
  • a variety of metadata for each episode
  • links to the issue in JSTOR (for those no longer affected by the time-wall)

I’m soon beginning work on secondary sources or “further readings” for each topic covered in the podcasts. These will letinterested readers further explore the topic of their interest. A few of them have been a little more troublesome to find good sources to include due to their relative obscurity. For example, it was significantly easier to find some works regarding Jackson, Jacksonian America, and his time as governor of Florida versus finding works about Florida law and waste management

Once the website is up, our next step is to complete these further readings and begin working on the “FHQ in the Classroom” segment of the website. The “FHQ in the Classroom” will give applicable podcasts a element for middle and high schoolers. All of these teaching plans/assignments should conform to the Sunshine State Standards, and I’ve emailed a close family friend who is an educator here in Florida to insure I am going about matching assignments to standards when the time comes. She has agreed to look over some of the work I’m doing to see if it will transfer into the classroom easily.

Hopefuly by next week we can have a “grand unveiling” of the site with most of the information inputted. We’ll just have to see.

Recordings and microphones

This week during my internship I continued to convert MP3s to video format for their inclusion into the Florida Historical Quarterly website being built  through UCF’s STARS website service. In addition to this I also began compiling more extensive metadata and learning the differences in recording hardware for further work on the FHQ Podcast.


After meeting with Dr. Cassanello this week, I realized I had been creating my MP4 files incorrectly the whole time. The process I was following consisted of combining the MP3 of the podcasts with the image of the Quarterly front page. After putting them both in the Pinnacle video editing software, I would export them to an MP4 file, creating what would be the YouTube video.

The problem with this is that I assumed the program would extend the image over the video’s length. It did not. Instead, pinnacle only created an image for the video during the first few seconds.

All in all, I had to go back through every video and recreate it, dragging the image through the video length.


I also started working on more extensive and detailed metadata. My previous metadata was created off of the exact terms used in the podcasts. For example, when talking about the Civil Rights Movement I just labeled exactly that. Instead, I could also add the years the movement was active and more specific nomenclature regarding Florida’s civil rights movement. I also continued trying to mal the location of the podcasts topically. Some of them have ambiguous or vague locations, while others are focused on a single modern address. This work is a bit secondary to the metadata and the video creation right now, but I should have it finished in not too long.


Dr. Cassanello also filled my time this week with some training on recording hardware. I should be in this position for the Summer issue of the podcast, and he wants me to be knowledgeable about recording by then.

What Dr. Cassanello has me working with is a digital recorder and a variety of microphones. The recorder has an omnidirectional microphone built into it, and Dr. Cassanello also have me a unidirectional microphone. The goal of this is to help me understand the microphones necessary for different recording situations. Eventually he would like me to practice with the condenser microphone the use on the podcasts, but I’m working with cheaper alternatives currently.

Hopefully by next week our STARS site will be finished and we can begin adding all of the content I’ve been working with. Once the site is published and and we are able to see the fields present, we will be able to create more content.


Soon I will begin working more on teaching plans and ideas, as well as secondary and primary source supplements for the podcasts. I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

Converting MP3s to MP4s

Hey everyone, this week in my internship I have basically continued with my work from last week.

I’ve received all of the resources I needed from Dr. Lester to create youtube video versions of the Florida Historical Quarterly Podcasts. I’ve been using each individual issue’s front cover as well as the MP3s for the podcasts to crate an MP4 video that will later be uploaded to the website, RICHES MI, and Youtube itself. This process is pretty time intensive, so it has been consuming a lot of the time dedicated to the internship. Each video takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to make. Dr. Cassanello and I have been using Premiere, a video editing software, to create these MP4s. The program is very intuitive, especially for someone who has had no experience editing or creating video!

I’m also currently still creating bibliographic entries for all of the FHQ Podcasts. Dr. Cassanello recommended this during our initial meeting with the FHQ faculty in May and the presence of bibliographic notes will hopefully let students cite our work in the classroom. Podcasts are inherently hard to cite as most student wouldn’t consider them a source, but if the note is present on the website it will let those students get one step closer to using the podcast as a source. I know plenty of students who stick to typical sources due to their lack of knowledge when it comes to creating citations and pre-generated citations should allow the podcasts to be cited in as many places as possible.

The rest of the work all depends on Mrs. Lee Dotson’s timeline with creating the STARS website. Currently, the website has not been published, nor has anyone been given administrative rights. Once the website is set up, Mrs. Dotson should give Dr. Cassanello and me rights to edit, which will allow for us to put in more specific information as well as the MP4s. With the MP4s on the website, a user will be able to stream the podcast directly from the browser without having to download it.

I’ve alos begun matching the podcasts to a physical location on GoogleMaps. We decided that small maps to show where the articles are talking about would be useful for students and viewers. Giving the podcast a spatial element lets users connect with the material that much more, in some cases they may actualy go visit some of the public history sites mentioned.