Sunday, May 15, 2011

Technology.... Yech!

Sometimes technology can seem like a very, very bad thing. OK, I'm grumpy today, but there's a reason for this.

I'm a journalist, I occasionally need to record interviews with important people and this often happens over the phone. Once upon a time telephone handsets would allow you to attach a mike which would pick up the sound so you could record to a cassette player or note taker. Not any more - nothing you can buy has a mike-friendly handset. This wasn't a problem while I was using an old phone/fax with a built-in micro-cassette recorder as its answering system. But that died after a long, purposeful life and the new machine has a handset that isn't microphone friendly.

So I decided to get the Skype add-on that records conversations - easy! And it works, except that you need to call the interviewee on the Skype phone so that you can activate the recorder. People can't call you, which is a minor inconvenience, sometimes. Skype records the conversation as a sound file which you can play back on all sorts of machines - very useful.

Today I was supposed to interview a cabinet minister, so I checked the Skype set up a good three quarters of an hour before hand, including the Skype headphone. This all worked fine. I rang the minister at the appointed time, and the d**n thing refused to b****y well work!

After several attempts and a great deal of very bad language I called him on my normal land line, put him on speaker phone and recorded the interview that way with my little digital recorder. It worked, and I was able to save the interview as an MP.3 file which i could then send to my transcriber (an angel of a woman named Miki - details available on request to bona fide transcription clients)...

I've lost some more hair this afternoon...

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