First a confession:  My ear is generally not subtle enough to hear the difference between an analogue recording and a good digital recording.  Some people can do this, not me (on the other hand, I can taste Durian fruit and like it - so there you go).  So while I have no real preference between records and cds, I really don't like listening to MP3s that much and find that music from them often sounds ratty and muffled.  I have evidently found my audio tolerance level.

From NPR:

The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse

Bob pointed to a YouTube video titled The Loudness War. The video uses Paul McCartney's 1989 song "Figure of Eight" as an example, comparing its original recording with what a modern engineer might do with it.

"It really no longer sounds like a snare drum with a very sharp attack," Ludwig says. "It sounds more like somebody padding on a piece of leather or something like that," Ludwig says. He's referring to the practice of using compressors to squash the music, making the quiet parts louder and the loud parts a little quieter, so it jumps out of your radio or iPod."

and Dr. Andrew Oxenham (of our fair University) explains it thus:

"Really, the challenge is to maintain the quality of a CD, but to stuff it into a much smaller space," Oxenham says. "Let's think about how digital recording works. You start out with a very smooth sound wave and we're trying to store that in digital form. So we're really trying to reproduce a smooth curve [with] these square blocks, which are the digital numbers [the 1s and 0s that are used to encode sound digitally].

"Now, the only way you can make square blocks look like a smooth curve is by using very, very small blocks so it ends up looking as if it's smooth. Now using lots and lots of blocks means lots of storage, so we end up using [fewer] bigger blocks. Which means we end up not representing that curve very smoothly at all."

"The difference between the smooth curve and the rough edges you end up with in the digital recording, you can think of as noise because that is perceived as noise," Oxenham says. "It's perceived as an error, something that wasn't there in the original recording. The trick is to take the noise -- which is the loss of fidelity -- and just make it so you can't hear it anymore."

"[The loud parts of the music are] giving the coding system a lot of leeway to code things not quite as accurately as it would have to," Oxenham says, "because the ear is being stimulated so much by the loud sound it won't pick up very small variations produced by the coding errors."

Capturing Lectures: No Brainer or Sticky Wicket | EDUCAUSE

Educause raises some pertinent issues about intellectual property, open information and the role they play in capturing academic lectures.

Technology quick training at Tech Stop.



The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is pleased to announce

three technology training options being offered at no charge through

the Coffman Union Tech Stop. Tech Stop is a hub for students, faculty,

and staff to receive face-to-face technology consultations, support

and training. For more information see the Techstop website at


These concise 15-20 minute training sessions are limited to four

participants and focus on practical, take-away knowledge. Tech

Learning Byte topics will vary each semester. Current topics include:

* Excel Charts

* Transitioning to Google Mail

For more information and to register for a Tech Learning Byte visit

our training Web site at


Tech Tutoring provides an opportunity to schedule an appointment with

an instructor to learn specific skills or concepts, such as how to

create a table of contents in Word or how to build a quiz in WebVista.

Participants are encouraged to bring their project files as well as

their laptop (if available). Appointments are currently available on

these topics:

* MS Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

* Google Apps

* Moodle

To register for a 30-minute appointment visit the UTTC training Web site


When a new technology is introduced or a major software update takes

place that affects the entire University community, UTTC will offer

Tech Previews. Tech Preview sessions are typically 1-2 hours in length

and focus on broad topics, such as:

* Google Apps: Collaborating in the University Environment:

* Other new enterprise-wide services

For more information and to register for a Tech Preview visit the

training Web site at


To learn more about OIT's Technology Training visit 

Loaner Equipment for teaching with Technology

As an instructor or graduate student at the University of Minnesota you have access to vast technological resources?

CLA-OIT Loaner Pool

Visit the CLA-OIT check out site


For faculty, staff, and graduate students to support classroom instruction and research. For up to two weeks or longer on a case-by-case basis.


Limited number available for special circumstances (e.g., visiting scholars).


For short-term use by faculty and staff. Graduate students with a signed letter from the chair or the administrator of the department may reserve projectors by calling the CLA-OIT Service Desk at 612-624-4357.


For current CLA students. Camcorders, microphones, and digital still camera are available.

CLA-TV Studios Electronic Field Production loaner pool

Visit the CLA-TV studios check out website

For students currently taking field production classes through the Studio who have received proper training. Former field production students may also reserve this equipment, but current students will receive priority.

Prosumer and professional equipment

  • digital video cameras
  • microphones & audio mixers
  • location lighting kits

Office of Classroom Management - Good to Know.

The Office of Classroom Management has a new and improved website.  Check it out for all of your classroom needs.

Did you know that there is a Classroom Support Hotline for anything that goes wrong with the classroom facilities while you are teaching?

  • 612-625-1086 is the number and it is listed on the hotline phones near the kiosks
  • The hotline staff are in radio contact with "rapid responders" (skilled technicians) who provide in-room assistance, troubleshooting, and problem resolution.

I received this today from Melissa Martyr-Wagner who encouraged us to encourage faculty and instructors to take a moment to share their thoughts: 

See: to learn more.

*You* can provide input on the future direction of course mgmt systems here
at UMN.

For those of you who have used Moodle and/or Webvista (course management systems) here at the University, please share your thoughts.

Thank you much.

Broadband in the U.S.A. (and territories)

From the broadband blog of the Federal Government:   

One of the challenges facing the Broadband Task Force is a question inspired by the 1989 classic film, "Field of Dreams": if we build it, will they come?  As John mentioned in his post, the 37% of Americans who have not adopted home broadband have a unique set of concerns, needs and barriers to overcome. Our two afternoon workshops on Wednesday, "Low adoption and utilization" and "Programmatic efforts to increase adoption and usage," addressed this topic.

MinnPost has a nifty breakdown of the issues at stake and a link to the RSS feed:

Though they're unlikely to win any branding awards for the snappy name "Blogband" (sounds like bunch of high-schoolers who launched their garage band to sing about blogging), the FCC has launched that blog in order to foster public dialogue about the National Broadband Plan (PDF), an initiative with just over 180 days before the FCC's deadline to send that plan to Congress.

So if you care about broadband (and issues like net neutrality), then  snagging this RSS feed and putting it in your news reader or just following the blog would be a good idea.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is pleased to announce that our University Technology Training Center (UTTC) courses, formerly offered for a fee, will now be available to current faculty, staff, and students at no charge.

Offering technology training is a part of OIT's effort to further the University's goal to become one of the top three research universities in the world. Professional development opportunities such as this can help to build skills and create efficiencies affecting academic and professional success and advancement for the individual and the University community as whole.

*Course offerings*

Courses are designed to help build technology-based skills within the context of real-world scenarios for the University environment, including:

*Collaborating with Others*

Courses offered on Google Apps, myU Portal, NetFiles, and more.

*Communicating via Digital Media*

Courses offered on Media Production and Publishing, Presenter, and more.

*Publishing Information via the Web*

Courses offered on XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets, University Web Templates, and more.

*Improving Workplace Productivity*

Courses offered on UMCal, ImageNow 6, and more.

*Managing and Analyzing Data*

Courses offered on Access, Excel, SAS and more.

*Teaching with Technology*

Courses offered on Moodle, WebVista, Podcasting and more.

For a full list of in-person courses as well as online learning opportunities, visit the UTTC Web site.

Please note: UTTC's resources are limited. You are encouraged to register only for courses you are committed to attending. If there is a change in your schedule, a cancellation notice is required 48 hours prior to the start of the course so that the seat may be filled with someone on the waiting list.

*Custom training*

In addition, departments, colleges, and other campus organizations may arrange custom training for current University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff at no charge.

UTTC can customize any of our current short course offerings to meet the specific needs of your group. Or, we can partner with you to co-deliver training.

For guidelines on what qualifies for no-charge custom training and to submit a request, please visit the UTTC Web site.

Also, please save the date for the next UTELL meeting on September 16 from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. in 101 Walter Library.