Record audio? There’s an app for that. An iOS app (Part 1)

Apps to Catch Stories or Record Audio What is the best app for recording a conversation? If you’re a family historian and have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, keep reading. This is the first of a multi-part series looking at iOS apps — apps that just record audio, and more complex apps to help the family storycatcher ask questions and record stories for family history.

At the iTunes store, there are so many apps to choose from. How do you know which one to use? What app can you trust to help you collect important stories from your family?

Before I get into evaluation of specific apps (which will come in Part 2, Part 3, Part n…), I’ll lay the groundwork here for the criteria I use to make that evaluation. You may find that I touch on some of your pet peeves about why you don’t like some apps as well as others.

Two flavors of apps

Audio recording apps for the family historian come in two major flavors: apps to record audio only, and special-purpose story-catching apps. Both of these work for face-to-face conversations. (A third type of app, to record phone calls, won’t be covered in this series. It’s on my To Do list, though.)

Recording apps are straightforward. Record Audio only.

Flavor 1: Record audio only. All audio, all the time.

This category of ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 31, 2014 in • AudioAudio: SoftwareInterviewingiOS
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Question from the mailbag: Can I use my iPhone charger with Zoom Handy H1?

An iPhone plug + a compatible USB cable + a Zoom Handy H1 = power source from wall outlet! An excellent question from Clint leads to this test and solution to give a Zoom Handy H1 a power supply with a standard USB cable and an iPhone charger.

Clint asked,

Question about the power supply. It looks to be a pretty standard setup, do you think an iphone wall plug-in power supply paired with the proper USB cord would work just the same?

Clint figured if he could do without the power supply, he’d be fine.

I grabbed my iPhone plug, a USB cable, and tried it out.

I’m thrilled to report that it works!

Here you see the Zoom Handy working while being powered using an iPhone plug. (Note the red light on the Zoom Handy H1, indicating that the recorder is powered up and recording!)

Of course, in this picture, I have the Zoom H1 Handy set on the tripod that also comes with the Accessory Kit (mostly so it would be easier to photograph both the Zoom Handy H1 recorder and my wall socket.)

No one paid me to write about these products. Any purchase made through my Affiliate links support my ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 09, 2013 in • AudioAudio: HardwareiOS
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Setting up Easy Voice Recorder to prepare for recording on your Android device

Using Easy Voice Recorder on an Android device Do you have an Android phone or tablet? Easy Voice Recorder is a good app for recording audio. Before you make your first recording, though, there are some essential things to set up. This is a recap of the setup walk-through I gave at Rootstech when I presented on using Android (and iPhone + iPad + iPod touch) to record family interviews.

If you haven’t done so already, download Easy Voice Recorder at the Google Play store. It’s free. You can get the Pro version for $3.99. (Go ahead, give the developer some love and coin. I definitely recommend the Pro version if you’ll be using an external microphone like the Edutige EIM-001, because you can adjust the gain [volume] setting in the Pro version.)

What steps are covered here

  • Change all the audio settings to CD-audio quality WAV files. Must. Do.
    If you’re going to the trouble of recording an interview, you (and your family member, and posterity) deserve to have the best sounding audio you can get.
  • Change the display of the record button to from white red. Nice to ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 25, 2013 in • AndroidAudioAudio: Software
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This Friday! #GenChat on Twitter. Topic: Oral Histories and Interviewing.

Genchat announcement [Updated] There’s a Friendly (every other) Friday Free-for-all on Twitter called #GenChat. Squee! I’m delighted to be a special guest for this event.

(Gen as in Genealogy. Chat as in, well, free-for-all, Q & A). This Friday’s topic is Oral Histories and Interviewing.

April showers bring May flowers. May flowers bring on travel season. If you’ll be visiting family, put Interviewing on your To Do list.

(Mother’s Day, Graduation Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, Vacation time. Reunions. You know, family visits.)

This Friday’s GenChat will be devoted to what to do.

Want to do some story catching during a family visit? Join us. Ask questions. Tell about your experiences. Share tips.

(One of my college professors wrote exam questions that began, “Succinctly describe…” That was prep for Twitter. 140 characters at a time.)

I’m practicing my succinctness. Each paragraph here has no more than 140 characters. Plus, all the words are spelled out. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 24, 2013 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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My Rootstech Session made it into Deseret News! Plus: a few links n tidbits

Screen capture of the Deseret News story regarding my Rootstech session on using iOS and Android devices to interview family members Thrilled. Pleased. Proud: My Rootstech session was written up in a story by Alexis Jones in the Deseret News. Welcome, Deseret News readers! Here are a few additional pointers, links, and tidbits.

Think Like an Interviewer

My Rootstech 2013 landing page for Rootstech attendees, with links to all my articles on interviewing.

Rootstech Session Syllabus
The session syllabus, on the Rootstech site. LOTS of detail there. Lots. Just go download the PDF right now. And hey, it links to the Rootstech 2013 page, mentioned above.

Audio-In on the iOS

The mother of all posts with all the audio-in compabitility for each and every iOS device since Apple introduced the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2007.

Now here Still to come: A summary of my slides of the process of setting up Easy Voice Recorder on Android.

Apps! We gotcher Apps right here

Recommended Apps for iOS devices (these links will ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 01, 2013 in • AndroidAudioAudio: HardwareAudio: SoftwareGenealogyInterviewingiOS
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Getting Audio into your iOS Device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad): Hardware Compatibility Guide

The current known universe of iOS devices -- iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, from 2007 to late 2012 [Updated] If you want to get an external microphone to go with your iOS device, which one do you get? This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

In the world of iOS devices—iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad—there are three possible ways to capture sound for audio recording: The dock, headphone+mic port, and built-in microphone. Not every device has all three (especially the earliest generations of iOS devices). Plus, microphones that “fit” into the same 30-pin dock may or may not work. It’s a compability thing. All—and I mean all—your compatibility confusion is cleared up here.

First, identify the model of your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. I present them here based on when they were manufactured (early—pre-iPad era, middle, and most recent—late 2012-2013).

After you find your model, look immediately below for a table showing what ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 19, 2013 in • AudioAudio: HardwareiOS
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Android Tips for older Android OS and File transfer to Macs

Android recording an interview Got an Android phone? Does it have an operating system lower than 4 (2.x or 3.x)? Got a Mac? Now that you’ve used your Android to record a family interview, how do you connect it to your Mac just like any ole USB drive? This tutorial shows you how.

This technique may seem a tad geeky, but the end result is that you will be able to plug in your Android phone or tablet to your Mac and it will show up as a disk drive.

Prepare your Android to mount as a USB drive

There are two settings items to configure in order to connect your older Android device to your Mac.

USB debugging

It sounds geekier than it really is. This is a setting that Android put in for you in case you were doing software development on an Android. You’re not, but you’ll take advantage of this back door entry to access your device from your Mac via USB.

  1. Begin at the home screen. Tap the Menu button on your Android.
  2. The menu appears at the bottom of your ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • AndroidAudioAudio: Hardware
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After two decades, the conversation that changed EVERYTHING

My grandparents on their wedding day. 21 years later, I learned about a conversation that changed everything – everything – I thought about what happened on March 8, 1986. Over two decades after that harrowing event, knowing about that conversation has made all the difference.

I’ve written about this March 8 day before, in 2007 in a post “Why International Women’s Day is Hard.”

The kernel of the story is hard: Early that morning, my grandmother woke up. Fell. Pain. Broken hip. (this, some three months after falling and breaking her hip. The first time.) What we know comes from grandpa’s phone call. She fell. Broke her hip. She’s gone and by the time you get here, I’ll be gone, too. Gunshot wounds. Police tape. News stories, and shock.

The new revelation came to me a few months after I wrote the above blog post. I re-read it again, and thought, My perspective on this has completely changed. (If you want to, go read it. I’ll wait.)

Caution Tape
...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 08, 2013 in • AudioAudio: HardwareInterviewingPersonalPersonal History
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Transcription or Dictation: Will HAL Open the Pod Bay Doors?

Dave Bowman, in 2001, interacts with the HAL 9000 computer. “Is there some way to automatically transcribe a recording?” That’s a question I recently received from this site. Automatically? What does that mean? In my mind’s eye, I see that this automatic transcription software should closely resemble the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A computer that talks and can understand human speech. It’s a high ideal, but there are still technicalities involved. My conclusion, a while back, was, “I’m sorry, Dave, I just can’t do that.”

Is Automatic Speech Transcription HAL getting any closer to opening the Pod Bay Doors?

I conduct some tests using some speech-to-text tech I have on hand, and see how it stacks up against standard transcription. In this post: the test results, lessons learned, and best practices for each technique.

The HAL 9000, the computer from 2001 whichcould understand human speech (and even lip-reading!) The current state of HAL 9000:

There are many devices, services and software that act like Hal: Siri on iOS, the Android Google Voice, or any number of corporate voice address systems that say “speak your request and I’ll get you to the right department.”

With my 3rd generation iPad (March 2012 Retina Display, running the iOS version 5.x), I use the Dictation feature ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 13, 2013 in • AfterwardsAudioAudio: SoftwareHow-ToTranscription
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Lots of change looks just the same

Great Aunt Doris inscribed the back of this Photo: Pete and I have the usual argument. I, her grand-niece, can say the same about technology. Things look the same on the outside, but they’re different on the inside. I’ve just done a major update to the software that runs this site.

If you see gremlins and weird behavior, I’d love to know about it. Otherwise, please stand by. I’ll be checking things over some more, and performance should improve.

Of course, now that a lotta good stuff happened under the hood, it’s possible to make some pretty changes to how things look on the outside.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 30, 2012 in • Housekeeping
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More Kodak Moments of Closure: Kodak Gallery, Ektachrome

Kodachrome is now gone, with Ektachrome soon to follow. A coupla slides in one of my slide carousels. I've used them both, used them well. The Death of Kodak announcements, they keep rolling in. No sooner do I post about America’s Storyteller, Kodak, shedding parts of their photo businesses, and they announce a couple more endings. Kodak Gallery to be sold to Shutterfly, and Ektrachrome will go the way of Kodachrome: Away. Dead. Finis.

Kodak Gallery: In which I say something and am immediately proven wrong

I had this IM conversation last week. A friend read the previous entry and said

Friend: “I didn’t realize Kodak was going out of business. That’s unbelievable.”
Susan:  “I don’t think kodakgallery is on the chopping block…”

I said that because I’d read from the ending-of-digital-camera announcement that Kodak would be concentrating on their printing business. After all Kodak Gallery is a printing business, right? Upload photos, and get them printed. Alas, no. It looks as though Kodak will sell its Kodak Gallery site to Shutterfly. (The “printing business” is digital printers and inks) It’s a good thing I ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 04, 2012 in • LongevityObsolecencePhotographs
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Kodak: From “Remember The Day In Pictures” to “Remember using a Kodak camera?”

Kodak Ad, Life Magazine, Oct 10, 1949: Keep 'Family History' in snapshots For nearly 125 years Kodak’s reason for existence has been to provide the tools for people to create memories.
“Remember the day in pictures.”
“Keep ‘Family History’ in snapshots.”
“Remember the visit with snapshots.”
“For over 100 years people have trusted their memories to Kodak film.”
Kodak, the company that started in 1880 and popularized the film camera and invented the digital camera, recently announced that they’re no longer going to manufacture digital cameras and photo frames. How does one think of a dying behemoth? And not just any corporate behemoth, but a company that has been integral to capturing and storing our memories? Their 1970s ad said, “We’re America’s storyteller celebrating life with you –picturing the stories of everything you do.” Now Kodak is transforming into a memory.

Kodak ads in Life Magazine during the 1940s and 1950s.

There are three ways to consider this transformation.

The “Wow. Just wow.” factor

Most of the stories I’ve seen fit in this category . Wow. Kodak is no longer making digital cameras. Wow. Kodak is the company that invented the digital camera. The company has been around, like, forever. Look at that. Such a change. Wow. It just takes your breath away.

Let the Children Kodak.  Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #K0079 Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/ Over my lifetime, I’ve shot pictures with an Instamatic camera, and a Pocket Instamatic (using Kodak film, of course.) When I got a 35mm Single Lens Reflex, I kept using Kodak film—lots of Kodak film. When I took a photography class, I bought Kodak chemicals and photo paper. I got a Kodak slide carousel projector ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 29, 2012 in • DigitalityInterviewingLongevityMemorabiliaObsolecencePhotographs
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Interviewing Family: Joan Miller of Luxegen

Joan MillerGenealogy Conference Junkie gets buttonholed for “have you interviewed your family” discussion. Result: Breakthrough. Joan Miller, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, blogs at Luxegen. She says she’s a “genealogy conference junkie” – which is how she came to be in Southern California for the June 2011 Genealogy Jamboree. I asked Joan about her experience conducting family interviews, this is the result. Well, no, the results are better than this, because our discussion helped get Joan through a brick wall human will wall.

(Two notes—One about editing, one about timing.
Editing: These transcribed interviews are lightly edited for clarity and to remove a few spoken-word ums and things like that. There are also places in the interviews where I withhold information at the request of the person interviewed.

Timing: As I was working on this post, I came down with a baaaad case of wintery flu+bronchitis cough-a-palooza and took an unscheduled and unannounced break from posting here at Family Oral History. By the time I emerged from my haze of it all, I saw that Joan Miller’s taking a blogging break to heal from an illness. Get well, Joan.)

A Tale of Two Relatives

Joan Miller: I have two stories. My ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 09, 2012 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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Interviewing Family At Thanksgiving: What Happened Last Year & This Year’s Plans (Updated)

Thanksgiving Table Setting What can you do to interview family and collect histories and memories of elders and relatives when you get together with family at Thanksgiving or for the National Day of Listening?
I wrote about this last year, with a collection of ideas I culled from the internets. I adapted one of those for our family gathering last year. I’ll describe what we did, what I learned, how this year will be different, and brainstorm some variations on a theme.

I started with Beth Lamie’s idea, Draw From A Hat. Put a set of questions in a hat and draw one out and ask. Repeat. That was the inspiration: That, and “Get the kids involved.”

But of course, somebody has to think up the questions that get placed into the hat. I focused on this with my nieces—two girls, aged 9 (nearly 10) and 4. Let them be the ones to come up with questions for everyone.

What we did to prepare for Dinner Conversation

I arrived at their house, got them to step away from the computer and the Tee vee (sigh. yes. true.) with an aunt-ish scheme: Think of some questions to ask people at the dinner table. Instead of generic questions that would apply to anybody, I ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 22, 2011 in • InterviewingPersonal History
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Interviewing Family: Kim von Aspern-Parker of Le Maison Duchamps, Part 2

Kim von Aspern-Parker In this second half of my interview with Kim von Aspern-Parker (Kim von Aspern-Parker, Part 1) about interviewing family, Kim talks about her approaches to get permission from people for her interviews, describes her hardest interview (and why it’s hard), and she gives her final morsels of advice (plus, I put all her advice in one handy list).

Kim is one of the four people I interviewed about interviewing family at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree this past June. (Series introduction)

Kim von Aspern-Parker blogs at Le Maison Duchamp. Highlights of Part 1: For Dad to start talking, he had to be in an altered state. Using a genealogy chart to interview? Surprise! Advice for interviewing: remember to listen for the stories, don’t interrupt people, and work from photo albums.

Disclosure and Permissions

In the first half, while Kim talked about her visit with her 90-year old aunt and the misunderstanding over the genealogy chart, she described putting her recorder out on the table with a bunch of other items (keys, phone, etc.), and interviewing her aunt, and letting her know after the fact. We revisit a bit of that conversation for this later section on disclosure ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 16, 2011 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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