Monday, January 28, 2008

 

Audiobook 2007 Sales Survey



The Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) published their latest survey a couple of months ago. I just recently joined the association so have only just seen it now. It was taken last summer and covers the year 2006. It shows a 6% increase in sales over 2005 bringing the industry total at an estimated $923 million. You can read the entire press release here

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

 

Life and its little surprises


So here I am, feeling pretty good about myself. New computer that's just whizzing along. Still setting things up the way I like but no complaints.

New ISP - when you call the technicians, they actually speak English you can understand - now there's a plus. Unfortunately, the minuses are beginning to really outweigh this plus.

First of all, it is beyond me why the two major internet providers in Canada have teamed up with Yahoo and MSN. If I want either of those services, I can get them myself. To have them forced upon me is untenable. You have to go through hoops to find anything or to do anything. And if you decide to bypass them, you don't get decent service. One of the main reasons I decided to leave Sympatico was because they 'upgraded' my email to MSN. It was the last straw. Between that and their non-existent customer service I was totally fed up. Rogers couldn't be worse.

Famous last words........

I was having problems setting up email in Outlook Express for my soundsgreat.ca account. When I was with Sympatico, I could both receive and send email from Outlook Express on this account. With Rogers, I can receive email, but not send it. I used their live chat support and asked about this. I was told they only deal with rogers.com accounts and I should talk to my provider for soundsgreat.ca. Okay, I guess that makes sense. Then I went on to ask why when I accessed my rogers.com email account I had to enter my password every time. Now, remember, we are chatting on the internet. He asks me for my password! I never, ever give out my password to anyone. And, as mentioned above, you have to go through Yahoo hoops to change the darn thing so I wasn't too keen on doing that. I was left to troubleshoot the issue myself (which I did - don't know exactly how or why, but right now I don't have to enter my password all the time - who knows what tomorrow will bring).

Enough of computers for a while, I figured I'd watch a little TV. Ha!

It seems that when the technician came yesterday to install my cable modem for Rogers, he did something to my satellite cable. I am now not receiving a signal and have no TV (not the end of the world - but I am paying for it). I called Rogers and - wait for this - he said, in perfect Canadian English mind you, no problem. Just call Bell (who provides my satellite service and owns Sympatico as well). They'll send over a technician free of charge to fix it for you. We have an agreement. When we mess up something of theirs they fix it for free. And when they mess up something of ours, we fix it for free.

Well, it seems someone forgot to let Bell know about this marvelous arrangement. I just spent 20 minutes on the phone with their satellite customer service and it is going to cost me $75 to have a technician come and take a look at things. Wonder if I can get Rogers to pay for that.

I can see where this is going. When the Bell technician fixes the Satellite cable issue, he'll disconnect the Rogers modem cable and I'll be without internet. Thank goodness I still have my Bell Sympatico modem - I think I just might just go back to dealing with gibberish when I talk to their service people.

Monday, November 12, 2007

 

Saga of the New Computer


Well, it's up and running, finally. Had a few scares along the way; but things are looking good right now.

I had been backing up all my data and settings from my old computer onto an external hard drive, cleaning up a lot of old data along the way. Late last night I realized I had forgotten a couple of things and went to copy them to the the external drive. All of a sudden, the computer wasn't recognizing the drive. And, I was unable to turn the drive off. I went to the Seagate website and followed some troubleshooting instructions. Their diagnosis - the drive had failed! And, although I had been removing a lot of old files from the computer, instead of the available space going up - it was going down. And it was acting cranky to boot (no pun intended). Guess it realized it wasn't going to be top cheese any more. I was up until 2:30 am trying to figure out what was wrong. I was sick at the thought that I was going to have to back up all that data again. But, being the eternal optimist, I thought - no problem - it will work with the new computer.

Before going to bed last night, I brought the new computer upstairs. It had been sitting in the dining room for the past week. It was heavy and bulky. But step by step I got it upstairs. The next challenge? Getting it out of the box. Couldn't deal with any more issues, so I went to bed.

Got up this morning - it was so foggy - I was glad I didn't have anywhere to go. I began dismantling the old computer. Just to be sure, I took a picture of the cables going into the sound card - just in case....

I decided the best way to get the computer out of the box was to make a door. Got the box cutter and voila I was able to slip the computer out of the box. While the old computer was slow and noisy, I liked the fact that it had a handle at the top. Makes moving it around a lot easier. This Antec box doesn't have anything to grab onto.

Next task was to get the M-Audio sound card out of the old and into the new. It came out easily enough. Got the new box up on the stand, took me a few minutes to figure out how to release the side after take out the screws. The sound card went in with no problem whatsoever. Got it all put together and then started connecting all the cables. This time I decided to organize my cables better and those that were too long I bunched together and tied them so at least I can see the floor now. Found some things I decided I no longer wanted to connect and even found an extra power cord plugged into my surge protector that went no where.

I wrapped up the Sympatico modem and cables as not only was I getting a new computer today, I was going with a new ISP. They were coming to do the install this afternoon.

Finally I was ready to turn it on. I pushed the button - nothing happened. Checked that the power was on on the surge protector. Yes. Checked that I had plugged in the computer. Yes. Pushed the button again. Nothing. The thought of having to take that beast back downstairs again..... I found a switch on the back of the computer. I have no idea what it is. I pushed it and then tried turning on the computer and, thank goodness, I had little dancing blue lights.

Holding my breath, I connected the external drive - and lo and behold - it works just fine!I checked out the hard drive to get ready to start loading software. I could see Drive C, Drive D (DVD/CD) and Drive E (external drive). Strange, I was sure he told me he was going to partition the 500 gig drive. So I looked at the Device Manager - Drive C was a little over 78 gigs - where was the rest?????

Visions of schlepping that computer downstairs danced in my head again. I called the store and they walked me through formatting the other partition. I think they did it just to give me a heart attack.

Okay, on to the fun of loading all my software again. No problems for the most part - except for Cool Edit Pro - when I put the CD in, it told me it was blank. Well, I've been thinking of upgrading to Audition so I guess I have no choice now.

The technician from Rogers arrived just as I had finished pretty well everything I could do without access to the internet - just in the nick of time. He did his thing and I was up and running in no time.

This computer is so much faster than the old one. I could go down and make a cup of tea while the other one booted up. This one boots up right away. I opened Photoshop Elements - what a difference. I'm really going to enjoy this. And it is much quieter. I can still hear the fan a bit but wow!

I'm reserving judgment on the new ISP - I'm holding on to the old one for a bit until I make a final decision.

But, I'm back in business again.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

 

Yippee Kiyo Kiyay (is that how you spell it?)


Driving downtown today for another computer search binge I got a brilliant idea. So instead of going all the way down to 'computer row' on College Street here in Toronto, I took a quick right on Bloor Street and headed toward Long and McQuade where I buy all my audio gear. They also deal in computers and what better place to get what I am looking for. Why didn't I think of it before? I really don't know.

They could have tried to sell me their $3000 audio workstation which would be waaaaay overkill for my needs. Instead, they told me all the components to buy and even gave me the name of a great place to buy them so I could put together a box for a third of the price.

Well, later this afternoon, I will be picking up my new Quad Core computer with 2 gigs of RAM and a 500 gig hard drive all wrapped up in an Antec case. While I'm not looking forward to loading all the software again and backing up the old computer, etc., etc. - I am so excited. Oh yes, and I have to get my sound card out of my old computer and into the new one too. That may be a bit of an ordeal.

Called Sympatico to find out how I get back on the internet with the new gear - their reply was typical - just call us when you are ready and we'll walk you through it. Think that's the part I dread the most. Can't say I've enjoyed the best customer service from them in the past. So it may be a while before I'm back on the internet.

I'll let you know how it is once I'm reconnected!

Monday, October 29, 2007

 

New Computer, Episode 1



Buying a new computer used to be an exciting adventure. Now, it's just tedious.

I decided to dedicate today to this project in the hope that I'd actually purchase something. I finished a voice patch session early this morning, leaving most of the day to finish my search. I had done a fair amount of research over the weekend and knew more or less what I was looking for.

There used to be dedicated computer stores - large organizations with staff that were knowledgeable. They seem to have been replaced by the box stores that sell everything from washing machines to grandiose home theatre equipment.

I've upgraded my current computer to the nines and there's nothing more I can really do with it. To avert pending disaster with a computer with a 10 gig hard drive, I really do have to buy a new one. I've added an 80 gig drive but the OS and most of the programs are loaded on the 10 gig drive and there just is no more room to maneuver.

What is making this adventure less than enjoyable is the lack of choice when it comes to the Operating System. Simply stated, I do not want Vista. My current audio editing software, Cool Edit Pro, will not run on Vista. Everyone in the voice over world I have talked to has emphatically stated - do not get Vista!

I've looked online and have actually found a number of laptops and desktops running XP. But when it comes to computers I want to touch, feel, look, and most importantly, listen to it before I buy. Consequently, I have spent that past few days visiting various stores like Future Shop, Best Buy and Staples just to see some of the items I have been looking at online, even though I realized I most likely wouldn't find an XP machine in any of these stores.

I visited TigerDirect.ca online and they seemed to have a fairly good selection of laptops running on XP. So I decided to go to one of their local outlet stores today, thinking I just might be coming home with a new computer. The outlet is located in the west end of town, a fair trek from where I live. I am not at all familiar with the area so I of course went too far and had to double back to get to it. I walked into the large warehouse type store to find that all they had were some refurbished Gateway desktops all running Vista and almost no laptops to speak of. What a disappointment. A small consolation, at least I managed to get back home before rush hour.

When I asked about the items I found online, they told me they would be shipped in from Chicago so that would be an added expense and just more aggravation I would think.

It's back to the drawing board. I spent some time on the Dell website but again, no touchy-feely experience there. At least they do recognize that there are still a lot of people not ready for Vista.

Then, of course, there are the Macs. Nice to be sure, but expensive.

Stay tuned for the next episode.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

 

Internet Marketing Plan for Voice Actors


I must admit that I have become more than a little jaded when it comes to these marketing advice books. I have read other marketing books before and they all tend to rehash the same thing over and over. And none of it seems terribly relevant to a business that is not only service oriented; but where the product is so dependent upon a very subjective decision made by the client. I can no more produce a Kathleen Turner sound than I can become 6 feet tall (I'm a little over 5 feet....)

So it was with more than a little of trepidation, I must admit, that I offered to do a quick review of Voices.com's newest e-book Internet Marketing Plan for Voice Actors.

Imagine my relief when upon reading the Internet Marketing Plan for Voice Actors, I realized that not only was this information relevant, it was relevant to me as a voice actor. There are over 30 pages filled with information that I can relate to. And it doesn't just assume you have all the basics ready to start to market your voice over business on the internet; but starts with the basics of creating a marketing plan. This, of course, is the first step before making a foray into marketing, whether on the internet or elsewhere. Some of the topics they discuss are Business Description and all its elements, Products and Services, and The Market. All this before they get to discussing Internet Marketing, Branding and Advertising Strategies, and go on to Search Engine Optimization, Social Media and Performance Evaluation. While, admittedly, some of it, by nature, is generic (Search Engine Optimization is Search Engine Optimization), I like that they not only have made this very voiceover-centric but give specific voice over business examples.

Well worth the read! Congratulations Stephanie and David for producing yet another great tool that Voices.com provides for its voice actors.

Monday, October 15, 2007

 

Blog Action Day


Well, it took something as large as Blog Action Day to get me out of my torpor and post something again. I am just going to ramble on jotting down thoughts on the environment as they come to me.

A few years ago I wrote and recorded a tongue in cheek piece about Toronto's recycling program - you can listen to it here.

But in actual fact, I am quite pleased that I live in a city that gives me so many options to to contribute to recycling to decrease the amount of refuse that goes into landfills.

Our grocery stores now sell cloth bags to carry your groceries home in. My first thought was - uh oh - what will I use to scoop the doggie detritus. A colleague of mine mentioned that there are biodegradable poop bags now and I found them at the local pet store. Now not only will the contents biodegrade (is that a word?) but so will the packaging.

I get so upset when I see people toss things onto the streets and highways rather than disposing of them responsibly. My parents ingrained the importance of respecting the environment at a young age. Consequently my pockets are filled with bits and pieces of paper and other things waiting to be disposed of responsibly. It doesn't take much and it means so much.

I was very excited to notice a few houses in my neighbourhood with solar panels on the rooftops. When I lived in Israel, I heated my water through solar panels and it is very exciting to see these panels sprouting up here in Toronto. Unfortunately, the cost of converting is prohibitive at this time. Hopefully that will change in the near future.

I have spent time on Vancouver Island over the past couple of years. Virgin territory - it is so beautiful and pristine. Driving and hiking through the forests I saw signs of 'civilization' encroaching - golf courses, condo developments - people want to live there because it's so beautiful. But these 'improvement' are destroying that very beauty.

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