Anodised is well past its one-year anniversary. I’m writing a multi-part series on the show, where it came from, how it’s gone so far, what I’ve learnt and where I’d like to see the show in the future.
Series Two of Anodised got off to a rocky start, in fact, it almost didn’t happen at all.
During our Christmas break John informed me that he could no longer continue being a part of Anodised full-time. Between his other commitments and preparing material for Pragmatic, he felt he wasn’t pulling his weight on Anodised and that it was best to step down in his role as co-host.
This news left me in a bit of a panic, how could Anodised continue without John as a co-host?
John offered to stay on as a recurring guest and encouraged me to get other guests on the show. I had my reservations, not on my ability to pull it off but on the willingness of others to participate. After all, the flaw in any plan involving other people is other people.
I did consider pulling the plug on Anodised and packing it in but I ultimately decided to take the challenge and continue the show for another six episodes. John agreed to make an appearance on the first and last episodes of the series so that only left me with four guest slots to fill.
I got in contact with Zac to find out if he was still happy to participate in the “future of gaming” episode we had planned for the last series; thankfully he was still keen to come on the show. Things were looking up for Anodised but I wanted to sound out one more guest before I went ahead with Series Two.
I messaged Matthew JC. Powell and asked if he was interested in appearing on my podcast, I was stunned when he said yes. I didn’t have a topic in mind for MJCP so I told him “guest gets to pick the topic” and left him to mull it over for a few weeks.
With four episodes planned out I was confident I could start Series Two of Anodised. John and I kicked things off by revisiting all the newly announced Apple products we had discussed in Series One. Between the two of us we had three of Apple’s newly released products: the iPhone 5S, the iPad Air and the retina iPad mini. It was great to revisit these products after having several weeks of hands-on time with them.
The one product that neither of us had — indeed, very few people had them at the time — was the new Mac Pro but that didn’t stop us from talking about it. I think it’s fair to say that both John and I were disappointed that such a beautifully designed Mac was so costly and so unsuited to our needs. Reviews and performance benchmarks indicated that while the Mac Pro excelled in high-end graphics and heavy duty number crunching applications, it didn’t offer that much more performance than a 27” iMac when it came to consumer-level applications.
While John talked about the Mac Pro I hit upon the possibility of Apple producing a specced-down Mac Pro for the consumer market. Both John and I were intrigued by this idea and it ended up being the part of the episode that I wanted to share the most but how to share it? I didn’t want to post a link to the whole episode and tell people to skip to a certain time, that’s messy; I also didn’t want to add a chapter marker for the same reason. Finally I came up with a solution that I was happy with: the Highlights feed.
The Highlights feed has been useful but I really need to put some more time into it. So far I’ve been adding clips as I need them — usually when I want to reference a specific part of an episode in the show notes of another episode or in a blog post. Ideally, I should have at least one highlight clip per episode but I haven’t devoted any time to going through the back catalogue and cutting out clips, it’s not really a priority for me at the moment.
I kind of imagine the Highlights feed as being a way to introduce new listeners to the show, a sort of no-commitments trial or free sample if you will. For this to be most effective I should probably add the Highlights feed to iTunes, I’ll get around to that one day.
With S2E1 and all associated content published it was time to move on to S2E2.
S2E2 is another one of my all time favourite episodes of Anodised. I had so much fun talking to Zac about the future of gaming that it ended up being the longest episode of Anodised to date, the main show is 2 hours and 34 minutes plus an additional 20 minutes of Bonus Material!
But if there’s one thing that S2E2 taught me it’s don’t podcast in Summer. I don’t have air conditioning in my room, just a ceiling fan which is way too loud to have on while recording a podcast. I ended up standing for the duration of the recording because sitting down was too uncomfortable, I also took off my shirt because it was soaked with sweat. That aspect of the podcast wasn’t so fun.
This lesson was reinforced when it came time to record S2E3, I had to postpone MJCP’s episode because we had a bad run of 40º C (104º F) days in Adelaide. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long for the weather to cool down to a suitable podcasting temperature.
The delay wound up working in our favour as MJCP had chosen the then unannounced Apple Watch as our discussion topic and this laughable piece on the health-focused iWatch was published on our rescheduled recording day. The article made good fodder for our discussion as it perfectly typified the overhyped breathless fantasy piece bereft of any hard evidence or genuine analysis usually seen on the Apple rumour circuit.
I was surprised that our negative views on the iWatch didn’t generate any controversy. I haven’t received a single piece of feedback for S2E3, nothing at the time it was published and still nothing after the Apple Watch was officially announced.
Anodised never has received much in the way of feedback and the lack of feedback from listeners is the most disappointing thing about the podcast so far. I never expected Anodised to have heaps of listeners, be really popular or in any way successful but I did expect to have a more engaged audience. I thought the discussion topic format would be conducive to discussions outside of the show but that hasn’t happened.
This trend continued with S2E4 which generated a lot of what I’d call “baseline feedback”. Most of the comments I received on the episode were along the lines of ‘good episode’ or ‘I can’t believe you got Jason Snell!’
Well, I just had to get Jason on the show after this tweet.
S2E4 is my all time favourite episode of Anodised, not one of my all time favourites, is my all time favourite. I had a fantastic time chatting with Jason, I was so pleased to have the opportunity to talk to him about The Incomparable and ask him questions that I’ve had on my mind for ages; like how he finds time to consume all the media discussed on the podcast and the importance of reading.
I also asked him about the specced-down Mac Pro, just because I could.
If you’ve listened to S2E4 — and a lot of people have, it’s the most downloaded episode of Anodised to date — you might be surprised to learn that I didn’t have a topic in mind when I invited Jason on the show. As with MJCP, I told Jason “guest gets to pick the topic” and left him to mull it over for a few weeks. Except I pretty much immediately regretted letting Jason choose the topic, I spent every idle moment of those few weeks coming up with questions for Jason and hoping that he wouldn’t come with a topic prepared. I was very much relieved when he told me that he forgot to pick a topic.
Unlike Jason’s episode I only had one thing in mind when I asked Chris Oaten to appear on S2E5: Aperture. Chris played an important part in my introduction to Aperture and I’ve always been curious as to how he uses it as a professional photographer. For me the episode was very interesting and I did learn a few things but unfortunately not all of the listeners would have found S2E5 so informative.
I received feedback from a listener who had never used Aperture, they found the episode hard to follow as they had no concept of what we were talking about. Our discussion was very much aimed at veteran Aperture users like myself and Chris and not by design. It certainly wasn’t my intention to exclude non-Aperture users from the discussion but that’s what happened, it didn’t even occur to me that we should’ve talked about Aperture in a more inclusive way.
I planned to address this in a follow up episode in Series Three but Apple announced the discontinuation of Aperture so it seems a bit pointless to discuss it now. Yes, Chris and I were saddened by the announcement.
Editing S2E5 was a bit of a challenge, Chris had taken the Skype call on his iPad and had no way of recording his end of the conversation so all I had to work with was his crackly Skype track. I cleaned up the audio as best I could but it still needed some work, thankfully Ben Alexander found time to use his Logic Pro expertise to further clean up Chris’s audio. I’d like to publicly thank Ben once more for helping with S2E5.
I had audio issues of a different kind when it came time to record S2E6. I wanted to try using FaceTime Audio instead of Skype to record with John, everything was working at John’s end but for some reason I was unable to record my own audio at my end so we had to switch back to Skype. This taught me not to mess with my recording setup immediately before doing a show.
S2E6 was recorded a few weeks before the premiere of Game of Thrones Season 4 and I used this timing as an opportunity to talk about something I’ve been following for a number of years: piracy and Game of Thrones. I’ve read quite a lot on the subject, so much so that John was stunned when he saw my show notes; you could almost hear his jaw drop on the recording.
S2E6 is yet another one of my all time favourite episodes of Anodised, we were covering a subject both of us were interested in and I think we did a really good job of covering the topic.
With the last episode of the series recorded, edited and published it was time to wrap things up with the end-of-series bloopers and outtakes episode.
I wanted to do something different to the last bloopers and outtakes episode which was pretty much whole clips of me and John with “please rate us on iTunes” serving as a humorous separator. This time I hit upon the idea of interleaving multiple conversations with each other. It was a tricky episode to edit because I had so many audio clips to splice together. Hopefully I achieved the desired effect of making the outtakes more interesting.
One more thing worth noting about S2E7: for reasons unknown it’s the second most downloaded episode of Anodised. Weird huh?
Shortly before publishing S2E7, Apple announced the dates for WWDC which gave me my return date for Anodised Series Three.