Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Catching Up: Best of Previous Years: The Current Plan

For seven years, from August 2003 to August 2010, I maintained a private newsletter in which I shared news clippings, jokes, links to videos, and other random (mostly but not all entertaining) items with friends.  Starting in June 2007, I began a series of posts, in this blog, that mined that newsletter's archives for items that still seemed significant three years later.  I continued with that until August 2009, at which point I got too busy with other things to continue in that three-year lookback process.

I found that process useful.  It reminded me of things I had forgotten, showed me how some perspectives had changed (for me and also for others), and preserved a link to good material from the past.

In the meantime, though, I have altered my approach to some items that I used to post in that private newsletter.  Starting in March 2007, I began tapering off on entries in the private newsletter, posting items on Facebook instead.  Since November 2009, I have been posting interesting clippings from various articles (mostly news and science-related) in a separate blog hosted on  Also, at least for 2010, I compiled a single list of what I considered the year's best online videos.

For some reason, August seems to trigger a retrospective urge (see above).  It is August again, and while I don't expect to get underway for another month or more, I do want to start to revive that previous lookback process.  What I'm going to do, at least for my review of items posted in 2007 and 2008, is to stick with the approach I took in August 2009:  I'll summarize a whole category of items in a single post containing what I consider the best of the year.  Hopefully I'll wrap that up by the end of 2011.  Then, starting in January 2012, I'll review the situation and decide how I feel about all this -- how much time it takes, how much benefit it seems to confer, what seems like the best approach, etc.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Windows 7: Recording Streaming Audio

I had previously tried, but failed, to get my system to record streaming audio.  The concept, in this mission, was that I wanted to be able to capture, in a file, the sound that I was hearing in my headphones.  Seemed like a simple expectation, and as I recalled it had been almost automatic on my previous system.  But it wasn't happening on my current motherboard, a Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H, so I searched for solutions.

The first requirement seemed to be to use the right software.  Not every audio program is capable of recording streaming video.  The free Audacity program could, so I was using that.  I found a video and a webpage that were supposedly going to help me, and probably I did incorporate some of their suggestions into the approach that eventually worked for me.  The only suggestion that I recall making a difference was that, as recommended, I was using the version 1.3.13 beta of Audacity, not an older one, though at this point I'm not absolutely certain that was necessary either.

Ultimately, I found two ways to record streaming audio.  One was to use a video capture program and convert the resulting file to audio.  I'd had tried a number of video capture programs, with very mixed results.  The only one that seemed to work reliably was Debut, and it cost money after its free trial period.  Ultimately, I did buy a copy of that.  For the conversion, I used Oxelon.

The other approach was to use an audio cable to connect the computer's headphone jack directly to its microphone jack.  Basically, I would be recording what the headphones were supposed to be hearing.  Sadly, this didn't work as advertised, when I used the actual jacks on the computer itself.  But I was able to make it work in a different way.  I bought a Syba SD-CM-UAUD USB-to-audio adapter.  No software required.  I just plugged it into a USB port, plugged both ends of the patch cable into it, and it worked.  Actually, to make that work, I had to set Audacity as follows: the audio host was Windows DirectSound; the output device was Primary Sound Driver; the input device was Microphone.

The Syba device gave me really loud volume.  Later, I had to fiddle with Control Panel > Sound to get all my devices back the way they were before.  But so far, it seemed worth it.