29 5 / 2013
02 5 / 2013
My review from my first usage of the Smart Voice Recorder app for Android, covering an Environmental Commission Hearing:
Interface: I didn’t think it was possible to have an easier interface than Tape-a-Talk, but this one has one BIG RED BUTTON to record. It even has a volume meter for what the microphone is picking up so you can gauge how loud everything is. The red button starts and pauses, but when you want to save it you have to pres the small Finished button. Many more settings than Tape-a-Talk, but in the same spot. The files are stacked in their own screen.
Sound: You can adjust the quality with more settings than Tape-a-Talk, but there seems to be a lot more hissing when you have to turn it up loud enough to hear the farthest subjects. Allows you to record up to CD quality. The board ranged from about 10 feet to 20 feet away from me, with the presenters at about 25. I could hear them all pretty well, but the third-farthest person was too soft-spoken and I have to really strain to hear her. The people from the audience came in fine, as did the noises from the kitchen about 20 feet behind me.
Battery Usage: I started recording at 80% battery, and when I left the meeting I was at 15%. I did take a few pictures with my phone while I was recording, but that lasted about a minute in the first half an hour or so that I was recording. I was actually a little concerned that my battery would make it to the end of the meeting.
External Noise Pickup: Holy squeaky chairs batman. I had the recorder on my knee and my notepad on the table about two feet from it and I could hear myself flipping the paper and the squeaking of the chair in the man about three feet from me. The camera man about four feet behind me was coughing occasionally and it continues to scare the hell out of me on the recording because it is so loud.
Overall Pros: Excellent pickup, but that’s not always good. Noise meter showed me if I should be getting closer, or maybe taking notes more because the speaker won’t be picked up as well. Big red button. Higher bitrate of recordings. Lets you do things in the background while it’s recording. I think (see Cons for an explanation).
Overall Cons: Too much pick up. I shifted my phone on my knee and I thought I was going to go deaf. The seek bar is even more impossible to use than Tape-a-Talk because it doesn’t show you how many seconds you’re skipping when you move it, only when you let go. Also, it’s supposed to continue to record in the background, but it did not every time. I took some pictures, and when I went back to the app it was still recording. However, when I went to take more pictures later, when I went back to the app it had stopped recording. I don’t know if it was a glitch, but it was not good. Also, the app’s silence detecting function, where it will omit silence from the recording to condense it, is something I thought I had turned off but it omitted anyway. I am missing a few chunks of the recording because it came back in too late.
Rating: 2/5 stars. I’m going back to Tape-a-Talk because I can at least put up with its screwy seeking system over this one. If you are recording something you don’t think you will need to seek through, and it will be in a place with minimal background noise, I recommend it. But definitely not for meetings with a lot of people (who will probably cough and fidget).
—If anyone has any other apps they think I should try out, please put a message in our inbox! I would like to stick to free apps, though.—
30 4 / 2013
Hello followers! Mary here!
I have just made it through my first full week at a real newspaper! I am now working at the Manchester Journal in Manchester, VT.
I had a list of things that I wanted to post as advice on your first week, but I am so tired from covering a three-hour school board meeting - where their executive session lasted an hour - that I cannot remember anything I had before.
Well, except for one thing:
If you’re ever going to cover a small-town school board meeting, bring a book.
11 9 / 2012
"Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s headline."