Sep. 25th, 2015

liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
So, practical advice sought:

A] Does anyone have any experience of making voice recordings? Podfics or reading poetry aloud to share digitally, that kind of thing? It doesn't need to be professional level or even close, but it needs to be good enough quality that the words can be heard relatively clearly. Ideally I don't want to buy a lot of equipment or spend hours doing audio processing, but I'm not sure what the minimum set-up is to achieve this. I mean, my computer has a reasonable basic mic which is good enough for things like voice calls. And I know a lot of my students use their smartphones to record tutorials and so on, and apparently that's good enough to be a revision aid. So I imagine this should be possible without major investment, but I don't know where to start.

Software recommendations especially appreciated! My desktop is Windows and my phone is Android, and my netbook is going to be Linux eventually but that's a topic for another day.

B] I'm in the process of buying a bike. I've talked to Colin at University Cycles, and he's super helpful and has offered to lend us a couple of bikes at the weekend so I can try them out. What should I be looking out for when I try the bikes? What questions should I be asking? Also, what equipment do I need? I'm thinking lights obviously, panniers, and a lock, presumably a D-lock. Anything else?

I don't expect to become a serious cyclist any time soon. I'm intending to use the bike just to potter about Cambridge, so if I can go slightly faster and with slightly less effort than walking, that's about all I'm after. One of the suggestions Colin made was a Dutch bike, which he said was solidly built and easy to maintain; definitely those features are more important to me than speed or being fantastically light or suitability for difficult off-road trails. I'm approximately convinced by the argument that cycle helmets aren't a good trade-off.

I'm not quite sure how best to judge the price point for a new bike. I would rather buy a second-hand, good quality bike than a cheap rubbish new one, but I'm not sure how much of a premium there actually is on new bikes; I suspect most people feel like me. And I'm certainly willing to pay a bit more upfront for a bike that is easy and pleasant for me to use. But equally, if it does happen that the bike becomes my major means of transport or I get excited about long distance rides, I can always sell my starter bike and buy something more specialist; I don't want to buy a very fancy vehicle off the bat though.

I'm probably not going to be a very self-sufficient sort of bike owner; I'll most likely take the bike to the shop for anything more complicated than a puncture. I do appreciate that there's no such thing as a magic, entropy-violating machine that keeps going forever with no effort, I just don't want to make bike maintenance my major hobby.

I know there was something else too, but it's gone out of my mind. Anyway, please express opinions!


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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