Raspberry Pi 3 Chromium Browser with Adobe Flash Player Plugin

Ok, the Raspberry Pi 3 just keeps getting better … especially for kids.

One of the latest updates along with the PIXEL user interface is the new update that added the Chromium browser AND an Adobe Flash Player plugin!  This is better than using Iceweasel which was changed to Firefox recently.  The resulting change drives the processor to a bit above 50% when playing videos, but the bang you get out of these new features is awesome.  Also notice you can easily switch from HDMI or Analog Audio output with the right mouse click on the speaker icon in the system tray.

I tried out the new combinations with YouTube and Starfall (my kids loved this site growing up).


If you want the flash components to automatically start you need to check this box on the browser plugins setting page, otherwise you have to right mouse click on the flash puzzle icon and say run every time flash is used.


Starfall.com interface below … I’m thinking about how our local Montessori school can use some Raspberry Pi 3 computers to start teaching keyboarding and mousing skills earlier since almost all standardized school testing requires computer proficiency now.






How to read to your kids when on a work trip

I’ve heard some studies say that one of the most important activities you can do with your children is to read to them.

Well, I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work lately,and as of this writing I’m averaging about 2 weeks of work travel a month now.  That’s about 8 evenings a month I don’t get to read to my kids (at least mom picks up the slack when I’m not home).

Through the use of available recording technology, here is a little something a traveling parent can do so your child can hear you reading to them whenever you are on travel (or when they want to hear your voice).  The cost is minimal and there are numerous positive benefits.  I did this for my boys so they could hear me reading to them whenever they wish.

  • Purchase a headset to connect to your laptop or computer (analog or USB is good, see my AV gear page)
  • Install & Use some audio recording software to record your voice (I use Audacity)
  • Read your children’s favorite books and record the audio (a WAV file would be nice to input to the Levelator)
  • Make a MP3 from the recorded and leveled audio.
  • Purchase a set of computer speakers (about $12) and a low end MP3 player (about $28), both pictured above
  • Put your recorded MP3 “audiobooks” on the MP3 player
  • Put the speakers and MP3 player and speakers in your child’s room where they read
  • Show your child how to select the audio for a book they want to read
  • Press play and let them read along with the audio (or just listen)

I know this in no way substitutes for real in -person reading with your child (so much more is communicated to your child through non-verbal language and touch), but it’s a great alternative for the traveling parent to invest some up-front time recording to allow your child to hear your voice later.  My little $40 investment in each of my boys will have future benefits that can’t be measured.

Here’s a small audio sample of a book I recorded so my kids can play and read along when I’m away from home.

Download the mp3 here.


– Dom

PodCampAZ 2010 Summary

PodCampAZ 2010 was a great event with many people wanting to share their learning & experiences.  Well worth the effort to travel to Phoenix from Albuquerque.  Even though there were less people this year, I renewed many friendships from last year and made many new ones as well.

This year I had the great opportunity to “bask in the awesomeness” of the following speakers:

  • Chris Hewitt – Forget the Experts…
  • Derek Neighbors – New Media is a Connection Point not a End Point
  • Video Genius Panel – Izzy, Clintus, Dave, & Jacqui
  • Jeremy Vaught – Zero to Hero
  • Israel Hyman (Izzy) – How to make a living as a full time podcaster
  • WordPress SEO Genius Panel – Chuck, Charlene, & Sam
  • Kevin Kitteridge – Do It Live!

Some of the more important ideas that I walked away with were:

  • Digital interactions can not replace In Real Life interactions
  • A 3 product approach to developing a viable information product based business
  • A couple new WordPress/SEO plugins to take a look at

I also had the opportunity to jump in, on the last day, and present what I wanted to share with regard to Media & Time Shifted Learning in a Corporation.  The presentation went well, very informal as usual with a couple tangents based on questions.  I have re-recorded the content, I posted it in video format in case you happen to have missed the session or did not attend the conference.  Just a reminder, these are my opinions and are not opinions of my employer.

Media & Time Shifted Learning in a Corporation

Here is the link to the downloadable MP4 video file, it’s 22 minutes long and about 34 MB in size and can be played with the Apple QuickTime Player.

In summary, a great weekend, looking forward to what next year will bring.

– Dom

Record in 3’s

One of the challenges of recording any kind of content (video or audio) to be distributed on the internet or a intranet is getting a good natural sounding “take”.

I came across this nice Camtasia audio article by Lon Naylor on capturing multiple attempts of the same audio to get a really natural “take” to be mixed or added to a longer audio sequence later.  The included youtube video is a great example of this (I’ve also included this video below).  The video also shows great microphone and pop filter placement.

This makes a lot of sense, once a person reads a script and gets comfortable with the content or phrase, repeating it will sound more natural the next time (also any nuances or word emphasis would be worked out by hearing yourself).  By the 3rd attempt it should sound good.

Thanks for the article and pointer to the youtube video Lon.


– Dom

Direct link to video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t926G1FFzL4

Improve your video audio by turning off AC/DC power

In my Audio & Video learning over the years, I discovered this little nugget to improve audio quality when recording video.  I’ve only recently remembered to create a video on it.

Here is my setup:  Sony HDR-SR11 HD video camera with a 1/8 microphone input, an unbalanced lapel microphone with a 1/8 mono connector, & the AC/DC power cable for the camera.  This is a general problem with unbalanced microphones and when transformers are in close proximity.  Take a listen to the video to see the improvement in action.


– Dom

* For better video & audio quality watch the 720p HD version.

Audio & Video gear I use

Since I’ve had several questions recently about what Audio & Video gear I use, I’ve decided to create a separate page here on this blog to detail what I own & what I have used.  Feel free to contact me about any of the items listed, maybe I can save you some time/energy in your various content capturing/creation efforts.

In addition, I would like to point you to an awesome resource I found during 2009 PodCampAZ for learning more about the technical aspects of video.  His name is Israel Hymen, he runs Izzy Video, and I’m a member.


– Dom

Mobile podcasting hardware for less than $39.99

The SanDisk Sansa Clip Plus MP3 player has been very useful to me for capturing mobile audio and I’ve decided to write about it so others know about this useful little device.

I use the voice recording function of this MP3 player to capture presentation audio by placing (actually cliping) the device on the shirt of the person doing the presenting. By doing this I get the built in (omnidirectional) microphone very close to the audio source (person’s mouth) which greatly improves audio quality. This is the same microphone placement that makes professional wireless lapel microphones sound so good. The microphone is on the clip side of the device at the top, and since there are no wires the person is free to move around while talking. This device does employ a Automatic Gain Control (AGC) function, so it’s helpful if the presenter simply says something like 1 … 2 … 3 before really starting into their content. The AGC function is also helpful in capturing distant questions in the room.

All the audio is recorded to solid state storage inside the device (there are 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB models), the battery is self-contained (not removable) and can run up to 15 hours in playback mode. Record mode would be a bit less since the device is actively writing to storage, I have easily recorded up to 3 hours of audio at one time (I’m really curious to know how long it would record). Recorded audio consumes almost 3MB per 1 minute of audio, this means an hour of recording would take up about 180MB of space on the device, so even the 2GB model has plenty of space to do hours of recordings.

The Sansa Clip Plus records audio in WAV format (tech details are: 24kHz, 16bit, Mono = 384kbps, good enough for speech, not really good for music). I really like this particular file format because it allows for post-processing/editing. Recording devices that record directly to MP3 do not easily allow for this option without further loss of audio quality.

Here are the post processing steps I go through to get the best possible audio from this device.

1. I pull the files off the Sansa Clip Plus using the USB cable provided and copy the files to my computer (it just looks like another drive).

2. I use the Levelator software to enhance the WAV file before editing the audio (this software is free from the Conversations Network). The Levelator performs audio re-leveling on the entire file at a detail that is too manually intensive to do yourself. Here are some waveform examples captured from Audacity. If you want more detail on how this is done, please checkout the Levelator website.

This audio waveform is before running the WAV file through the Levelator:

This is the audio waveform after running the WAV file through the Levelator:

As you can see, some of the louder parts are reduced, and softer parts are enhanced. This is the magic of what the Levelator can do for your audio recordings.

3. I use the audio editing software Audacity (also free) to remove any unwanted audio parts (just highlight and delete). Once I have the audio in final form, I can then produce a MP3 file (there are steps to set this up on the Audacity website). I typically produce the MP3 file at 64kbps to keep file size down and still maintain a good quality sound.

Here are some samples of audio I recorded in the house (not the best since walls reflect sound).

Sample audio before using the Levelator at 64kbps (24 seconds):

Sample audio after using the Levelator at 64kbps (24 seconds):

Now I know the difference is subtle in these examples, and you might pickup the difference more if you use headphones. But the really nice thing about the Levelator software is the ability to amplify audio from sources that are distant to the microphone. If you want another example of this take a listen to the audio from my post “Engineering talk at SIPI”.

The title of this post is “Mobile podcasting hardware for less than $39.99” which means you can likely find the 2GB version of the device through a online retailer for less than the suggested retail price.

I hope this information was useful, I really like the SanDisk Sansa Clip Plus for mobile audio capturing and recording speeches/presentations. Just remember to re-charge the device before any long event recording.


– Dom