You Me & Tech 006 – You Me & the Internet

Join Cynth, Jeff and Dan as they look at the Internet and how it has changed how we communicate and share. All links mentioned in the podcast are located at the bottom of this description.

Random “WOW! FACTS!”:

Did you know that there’s high speed internet available all the way up Mt. Everest?

Did you know that in 2010, Finland became the first country to declare internet access as a legal right? (Do you think internet access should be a human right?)

AND did you know that it is believed that the Internet will be the reason thousands of languages will go extinct? Apparently, only 5% of the worlds 7,700 languages are on the internet, which has experts claiming it will lead to the death of languages if they aren’t used on the platform.

 

As you can guess from the random facts already presented, today’s topic is probably one piece of technology that everyone uses on a daily basis, provided they have access to it, the Internet!

 

Thinking back 10,15 years ago when we were in high school. Do you remember when the internet first came to our schools and we were like WOW! But the schools didn’t trust that thing at all?

 

As we always do her on you me and tech, I like to give a little history lesson.

The basic history of the Internet: the concept of wide area networking originated in many computer labs in the US, UK and France since the development of computers in the 1950s. Commercial internet service providers started popping up in the late 1980, like AOL dial-up (providing email, instant messaging and web browser) in 1989.

 

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet)

 

What sort of things are you happy that the Internet has given us access to?

-The Cloud?

-Connectivity? Social Media?

-Online Shopping?

-Entertainment?

What do we rely on the Internet for now or even over-rely on it for?

-Entertainment – More and more people use Netflix, Youtube, Twitch for their fun.

-Shopping -Has online shopping killed brick and mortar stores?

-Connectivity -Social Media is so big now that people can make millions just by having a lot of followers! (Brands sponsor them to advertise.)

 

The Internet is touted for bringing the world to our fingertips, wherever and whenever we want it. The main thing that the Internet has done is give humans a level of connectivity probably thought impossible 100 years ago. We are connected, not only instantly with anyone and everyone, but constantly (which as an introvert can be stupidly annoying sometimes to have people texting at all hours of the day, even after spending 5 hrs together in person!)

 

However, has either of you guys noticed a trend recently of people “taking a break” from the Internet, or social media? I have. I finally took the leap and jumped off the Facebook train a few weeks ago. I didn’t find it very social anymore, and it was just a place for friends who post pictures of their kids’ scribbles or “got a dollar from the tooth fairy” images. Any ideas why people are leaving social media?

 

[I will play the clip of this when you want to hear it]

 

I was recently watching a vlogsbrothers video, which we will link to in the show notes, where Hank Green was explaining why he has decided to take a break from social media. To quote something interesting he says in his opening statements, “I wish the internet were more unreliable because I don’t like the way I’m using the Internet. Or more to the point, I don’t like the way the Internet is using me.” He continued on to say he spends around 20 hours a week on Reddit, instagram and twitter, but says its a fractured way to collect information on the internet. He says mosts of the time is him refreshing the pages and checking often “as if something fresh is just truly over the horizon.” I definitely recommend you go watch the video on youtube. It’s only 3 minutes long and says a lot.

 

According to Canadian Mental Health Association, 86% of Ontario students visit social media sites daily and about 16% spend 5 hours or more a day on it!

To sum up an experiment done – they did MRI scans of the “nucleus accumbens (the rewards centre of the brain) and how social media use affects the brain. They found that the reward centre of the brain was often more activated after receiving positive social media feedback. Those changes were similar to individuals who experience drug or alcohol addiction.” …”and causes greater activation in their amygdala, which is the part of the brain that is connected to impulsive behavior… is also activated with people who use substances problematically.”

 

So this has ballooned into something even scarier. Internet Addiction is a real thing, controversial, but real. Some say the internet isn’t where to place blame, but the addiction already found in users. For example, someone is addicted to internet gambling, then they would suggest that their addiction is gambling, not the internet. Organizations like Mental Health America and Canadian Mental Health Association have deemed Internet Addiction fact, but yet that it preys most on people with mental issues the most.

 

The Center for Internet Addiction was created in 1995 by Dr. Kimberly Young where she provides Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Internet addiction. “Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment. Internet addiction has been called Internet dependency and Internet compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict’s life. Internet addicts make the Internet a priority more important than family, friends, and work. The Internet becomes the organizing principle of addicts’ lives.”

 

According to Mental Health America (.net), ” people who are addicted to the internet have trouble filling personal and professional obligations because of their online activities, and their use of the internet causes strain on relationships with family and friends. … [they] often experience negative emotions or withdrawal symptoms when their internet access is restricted.” Research suggests that 6% of people are addicted to the internet. (Less than 40% of the world have access to the internet at least once per year and significantly less have regular access) = 3.04 billion people, == 182 million people)

  1. i)5 types of IA – Cybersexual (cybersex and porn), Net compulsions (online gambling, shopping, stock trading), Cyber-relationships (social media, online dating, virtual communication), Gaming, Information Seeking (web surfing or database searches)
    ii) A lot of people with internet addiction also have other mental health problems, like alcohol and substance abuse, depression, phobias, OCD, aggression, anxiety, sleep disorders.)
    iii) Treating internet addiction varies person to person. Most of the time it aims “to create boundaries and balance around internet use rather than eliminating it entirely.” Therapy and possibly medication can be used to manage symptoms of the underlying mental illness. Also, exercise is usually a part because it eases the effects of reduced dopamine in the brain from restricted internet use.

Going back to Dr. Kimberly Young, she uses techniques called Digital Diets and Digital Nutrition, mainly because you can’t cut off internet use cold turkey. Digital diet is a controlled use of the internet.Instead of checking your social media 50 times a day, check it 5 times. Digital Nutrition is about what content you are accessing. Goes back to internet gambling. You can still use the internet for other things, but gambling is restricted.

Dr Young suggests we:

  1. Check our checking. (How many times are we checking things?)
  2. Set time limits/boundaries. (Don’t have to have your phone with you all the time.)
  3. Disconnect to reconnect. (Tech free family time at dinner, or family time.
  4. Learn to be screen smart. (Make smarter wiser choices with the internet through initiatives in schools, with parents, and teach children to use the internet wisely instead of letting them use it to curb boredom.)

I guess the reality of it all is, can we as humans have instant access to everything, all the time and NOT use it as a crutch?

If the Internet were to suddenly be gone, could we function? Not in a joking way, but could we?

http://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/addictions-and-problematic-internet-use/

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/risky-business-internet-addiction

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zlYoOmoH5U

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/internet-addiction

http://netaddiction.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOSYmLER664&feature=youtu.be

The New RBG Studio

We started recording our first podcast for redbluegreen.ca back in September 2016 and it has probably taken up until now to really get our audio dialed in using the single Blue Yeti recording over USB to PC. We’ve attempted a few Skype call-ins as well and after a few I determined that we would need some better gear before continuing with them.

So Dan and I discussed getting some new gear for the site to really bring production quality up to a new level. It was something that more bugged us than anything. We couldn’t adjust people’s levels individually which really hurt our audio quality sometimes.

So it came down to what we were going to need to actually do this all properly.

TO GET LIST:

1) MIXER (perferably with compression and a shared AUX for all to hear Skype and USB for hooking up to PC. Oh and phantom power)
2) MICROPHONES (three, one for each host)
3) MICROPHONE ARMS (again three)
4) POP FILTER (again three)
5) A PC DEDICATED TO SKYPE
6) A PC FOR RECORDING AND EDITING (editing eventually. right now we still upload to dropbox and I edit from home)

Now these were the minimums really and we already had 5 and 6 covered. Skype will be handled by my trusty old Intel NUC and recording and editing will be handled by CAPSUPREME for which you can see specs on our About page. We also discuss this on RBG Technobabble Podcast 015.

So that left us with finding a mixer, some microphones, microphone arms and some pop filters.

Mixer

We looked at several mixers from different companies. Behringer, Peavey, Mackie and Yamaha. These were all looked at as they had all had the minimum requirements for our setup. A minimum of three microphone xlr inputs and a USB out function for PC is what we had stated we absolutely had to have.

peavey

The Peavey PV10USB had all these things minus compression. While it was quite a professional looking unit we decided against it as we could get compression on on models at half of the 537 dollar CAD asking price of the Peavey. No phantom power also was a knock against as the microphones we were looking at were going to require that.

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The Yamaha MG12XU 12 was a really nice looking unit and looked relatively thought out. It had everything we were looking for including compression which again we really wanted to have on board rather that getting a seperate compressor unit. There was no phantom power for microphones on board though and our ultimate pick had that on board. With the asking price of 420 CAD we had to pass as we would still have to buy some extra hardware to use this board properly.

mkprofx8v2-xl

One board recommended by podcasters was the Mackie ProFX8v2 mixer. This is also a nice looking board. It had everything we needed but compression and phantom power. We could have forgone the phantom power and compression and spent money on some phantom power devices at the 250 CAD pricepoint but out last choice had it all for even less and came even more highly recommended.

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We ultimately chose to go with the Behringer 1204USB. It didn’t include any sound effects that the others did but we didn’t need those anyway. What it did include was everything on our wish list for a the low price of 231 CAD with free Prime shipping. Everything, phantom power, compression and the shared AUX which was a must for Skype. And the unit doesn’t feel cheap either. Now we should mention that the link we have to the Amazon product page is for the 1204USB but we ended up receiving a X1204USB with the sound effects on board. This was a big surprise and even though we don’t need the effects processing we still received a unit that is usually 50 dollars more that what we paid for. One thing of note is this could either be an older or newer version of the X1204USB as the sfx display is actually yellow rather than blue like on Behringer’s website and on Amazon.

It should also be noted that while it’s great to have a mixer you may want to read up on how to use one. Dan and I have an amateur background with these and even so it took us about four hours when all said and done to get it functioning the way we wanted for recording.

Microphones

When we discussed which microphones to buy I insisted we buy some that were relatively good because I believe that the better the audio sounds good raw and unedited the better it will sound after editing and compression. There are several different microphones out there but we landed on one specifically for now and in time we may upgrade to another.

pr40

The Heil PR40 is lauded by most podcasters and even radio broadcasters as one of the best dynamic voice microphones on the market. The PR40 comes with a cost (450 CAD) though and while it wouldn’t require phantom power and wouldn’t pick up others in the room talking in to their mics we just couldn’t justify the cost right now. Down the road when we have more listeners and readers then I will consider moving up.

audio-technica-at2020-348433

The Audio-Technica AT2020 actually isn’t the mic most recommend for podcasting and after using it with a few podcasts I have to wonder why. It has a great dynamic range for a relatively cheap condenser microphone and evidenced (with some minor EQ work) on our latest podcasts it is truly impressive at 140 CAD on Amazon. While I would like to get more bass that can be achieved with more EQ work it really is a great microphone. I have read that it is also good for vocal recording as well where the PR40 is not a good choice in that department.

Microphone Arms

Next on the list were some Microphone arms. Of course another thing we discovered in this process that we would need were shock mounts and of course the XLR cable. Well we found a perfect bundle for us considering we needed three of each of these.

71xsmUKLQVL._SL1500_

Neewer has a three pack bundle of their NW35 arm kits that come with the shock mounts and xlr cables. Absolutely a great buy at 76 CAD. That said they are not of the best quality but they will do us for now.

Pop filters

pop_filter_black_2

There are a ton of these on Amazon. We ultimately went with the cheapest one that didn’t look bad that had free Amazon Prime shipping. We ended up with Dragonpad pop filters. The filter was large allowing us to move a but while we talked while still functioning well as a pop filter. At 13 CAD I honestly thing that’s not particularly cheap but it seems to be the cheapest going rate right now.

So all these things end up and by now you have probably done some simple math to figure out what it would cost to setup a small podcast studio of your own. For us we didn’t have the added cost of the PC’s and to be fair you really only need one. I decided to go with two to add redundancy to the system. If the skype computer crashes it doesn’t mean our recording is lost as it is still recording on the other system.

Total Cost? $766 CAD plus taxes (add another 13% and you get what we really had to pay here in Ontario). So yeah it’s not exactly cheap. We started with a Blue Yeti that costed 150 CAD and it’s a great choice for those starting out as it simply gets the job done with relatively good audio.

That of course doesn’t factor in the cost of the PC’s. You don’t need a power house PC for recording, editing audio and running skype. In fact any quad core AMD APU or Intel i5 should do the job nicely. I’d recommend 8GB of memory but other than that and a large hard drive for storing your raw data and final edits there really isn’t any need for much more.

amd-a8-logo

AMD Build 620 CAD – https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/wXBnKZ
AMD A8-7600 3.1GHz Quad Core CPU
MSI A78M-E45 V2 Micro ATX Motherboard

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Intel Build 623 CAD – https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/YVQWwV
Intel Pentium G4560 3.5GHz Dual Core CPU
ASUS B150M-PLUS D3 Motherboard

Common between both builds:
G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory
ADATA SU800 128GB SSD for Windows

So there is a bit of hardware required to really get some good audio but I am really impressed by what audio we are getting now. Have you any hardware that you prefer to use in your setup whether you podcast or perhaps livestream? Let us know.

You Me and Tech 003 – Robots and AI

On this episode of You, Me & Tech, Cynthia and Jeff dive into the world and history of artificial technology and robots, and reveal the fears that people have with developing this specific technology.

Show Notes:

http://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/ai-robotics/

http://www.robotshop.com/media/files/PDF/timeline.pdf

You Me and Tech 2 – Wearable Tech

On this second episode of You, Me & Tech we dive into the history of wearable technology, it’s impact on our lives, and the exciting future of it all.

Links:

Here One smart wireless earbuds: https://hereplus.me/
F-35 Helmet Mounted Display System: https://www.f35.com/about/capabilities/helmet