Happy New Year: Top 10 Stories From 2012

Congratulations, another year has come and gone. As we prepare ourselves for 2013, lets take a look at the top 10 most important stories from the year prior.

#10: 2012 Faux-Pocalypse

Worst Apocalypse Ever

I remember many years ago when I heard that the world would be ending sometime in December of 2012. Now that we have passed the threshold of our generational hysteria, I am happy to announce, if you didn’t know, that we are all very much still here.

As we have learned, the Mayan calendar was not some sort of celestial doomsday clock. It turns out that the Mayans were very much reliant on astrology and the movements of celestial bodies to manage the cycle of their planting, growing, and harvesting activities. Most importantly, they knew that there was a center point to this galaxy we call The Milky Way, and that our little section of space is rotating around what scientists have only recently discovered to be a “super-massive” black hole.

So after all of the terrifying movies, exploitative Discovery channel specials, and paranoid internet dilutions, here we are for better or worse, in 2013.

Nostradamus is rolling in his grave…

#9: Whitney Houston Passes On

Whitney Houston's Coffin Carried To Her Grave

Tragically, the world lost one of our most talented and influential musicians this year. Whitney Houston was found dead in February in her hotel room in Beverly Hills. After overcoming a very public battle with drug addiction, Whitney was preparing to make her big comeback with the release of the movie “Sparkle.” Despite a world of personal problems, drug addiction, and chronic health issues, Houston will go down in history as one of the most accomplished and talented musicians of our age.

“As I lay me down, Heaven hear me now, I’m lost without a cause, After giving it my all…”

#8: Gas Prices On The Move

Gas lines starting to form as prices hit the roof.

Gasoline in The USA reached record highs this year. Energy and the economy were center stage in this year’s elections in part because of oppressively high Gas prices. We are flirting with price levels that may cause some of our major institutions and companies to go out of business. Every corner of our economy is directly impacted by the price of gas, and Americans want solutions, now. In 2012 we hit a record national average of $3.60 per gallon.

As the first affordable electric cars begin to make their way on to the road, demand for alternative fuel vehicles has never been higher. I hope that we put our full effort as a nation into finding a sustainable, long term fuel, to ultimately replace gasoline. Otherwise these lines are going to get longer and our wallets will continue to get thinner, no matter who is in The White House.

#7: The London Olympics

London Bridge decked out for the Onlympics in 2012

As always, the Olympics offer a chance for all world nations to peacefully gather and compete with one another in the world of sports. With a world dominated by turmoil and negative news, it was a much needed breath of fresh air to see all of these countries put their differences aside for a short while. The spectacular opening ceremony in London demonstrated England’s rich cultural history and their ability to throw one heck of a party.

Check out the YouTube videos below for some of the highlights.

#6: Violent Crimes On The Rise

We all know that this year saw a disturbing rise in violent crimes against the public. However, I must say that I am disgusted with the media frenzy that was created during each of these tragedies. Thus, I refuse to mention any of the perpetrators by name, nor will I show any pictures of them or their atrocities. I partially blame the media for obsessing over these horrific stories, glorifying the people who did these despicable acts, and in the process possibly inspiring others to do so.

#5: Space Jump 2012

Felix the fearless Sub-astronaught, looks out from his capsul as Stratos prepares for launch.
Felix inside Red Bull Stratos Capsule

O.k. RedBull, you win the competition for “most extreme” in the world of extreme sports… At the end of the Summer of 2012, daredevil Felix Baumgartner willingly jumped from the edge of our upper atmosphere in the highest recorded free-fall in human history. The “Stratos” mission was more than just a stunt to please adrenaline junkies, it put us one step closer to understanding the limitations of traveling in space for human beings.

Want to see him break the record, follow the link below!

http://www.redbullstratos.com/gallery/?mediaId=media1900707044001

#4: Finding The Higgs Boson

An Expriment detector at The Large Hadron Collider.

For years the scientific community has been hunting for evidence of an elusive sub-atomic particle, The Higgs Boson. After decades of searching and trillions of dollars, The Large Hadron Collider at CERN finally found its mark in July of 2012. This marks a new era in particle physics where we can now use The Higgs to explain why particles obtain and retain mass. In simple terms, this answers a question in physics that allows us to revise our way of explaining this reality with much more confidence.

Only the future will tell what these results will yield, but we are one step closer to a true understanding of the nature of The Universe!

#3: Hurricane Sandy Strikes Home:

Hurricane Sandy Seen from space

This summer, Hurricane Sandy struck a huge blow to the The East Coast of The United States. Over 125 people were killed in The US as a result of the devastation of Sandy. More than $62 billion in damage occurred due to the massive storm. At its apex of intensity, tropical force winds were recorded extending over 820 miles.

Climate and environmental scientists are warning that Sandy was just the beginning, predicting worse to come in the future. We hope for the sake of our coastline and our urban populations in those regions that the scientific community comes to some real conclusions about “climate change” and how we can mitigate our impact on global weather patterns.

#2: The Arab Spring

Protests in Cairo Egypt

It seems that many populations of oppressed countries in The Middle East are tired of their autocratic, theologically dogmatic leadership. The Arab Spring sparked the overthrow of multiple theocratic regimes, including Egypt and Libya. It also fueled the flames for several attempted uprisings in other countries that were brutally crushed by the powers that be.

In my opinion, this marks the threshold of a new paradigm in The Middle East. Much of this progress is owed to the influence of information technology in the developing world. For centuries, the Arabic theocracies have used the control of information to hard wire their populations to support extremist activities and anti-western sentiment. With the advent of the internet and social media, those systems of control are breaking down, and as we have seen, people are giving their lives for the hope of liberty.

God bless, and good luck to all of those who are fighting for freedom. This is not just an important event in 2012, its a critical turning point in history. Visit this Wikipedia Article for an extensive timeline of the uprisings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Arab_Spring#2012

#1: The USA Presidential Election:

A political cartoon of the 2012 Presidential Elections in The USA.

First of all I must say that this blog maintains a neutral political opinion, so save your hate mail for someone else. That being said the USA’s presidential election in 2012 was a significant and historical event. It is possible that his campaign will go down as the most negative and bitter election in our nation’s history.

I speak to a nation divided, please put the pettiness aside. Our leader’s divisive tactics only reflect our attitudes as citizens, so take that into consideration when you are debating your friends and family. Remember, were all in this together! Stop pointing fingers and start finding solutions otherwise we might not have anything for our grandchildren to argue over.




10 Things To Consider Before Sending Media For Transcription

Hello out there, Ben here bringing you a quick list of 10 things you should be aware of before sending your audio or video for transcription. Taking time to consider these factors can streamline your workflow, save you time, and conserve your budget . So lets get on with it shall we!

  1. File Format – Understanding what format your media files are encoded in is critical to the transcription process. Not all transcriptionists and transcription software systems are created equal, valuable time, energy, and stress can be saved if you provide a clear picture of what type of files will be coming in. Digital or Analog? Audio or Video? AIFF, WAV, Mp3 or MOV, MXF, WMV. Letting the transcription company know beforehand will help keep everything running smoothly and prevent any surprises.  Common Movie Codecs MOV FLV WMV AVI MPG
  2. File Quality –  Remember to start with the highest quality media possible, transcribers rely on the quality and strength of audio signals to do their job. Bad audio quality = bad transcript and usually a more expensive one. Video quality needs to be good enough so if there is visual material or speaker identification required, it can be interpreted without too much effort. Considering those two points, we recommend the media be compressed small enough that it can be easily transferred over the internet, but with enough quality to preserve the audio and or video’s original continuity. For audio, never go below 44100 16 bit. For video, compress as much as you want as long as the important visual ques can still be easily distinguished, i.e. time code windows or speakers faces needing identification in the transcript.
  3. Audio Levels – Transcription, at least our flavor, generally involves a speed typist, a foot-pedal, and headphones. Nothing is more painful to our dedicated typists than throwing on their headphones, listening to a quiet audio signal for the first 10 seconds, turning their audio output way up, only to be blasted once the person starts talking. Try to keep your gain structure hot enough that they can be heard legibly, but not so hot that they clip. The biggest problem is with consistency, keep your levels around the same volume to prevent killing a transcribers most valuable tool, their ears!Audio Waveform
  4. Time Code Details – Time code comes in many flavors in the audio and video world. Knowing your time code specifications beforehand is critical to the transcription company. If you need digital time code added, knowing and providing accurate starting time code numbers will ensure everything stays in sync with your source media. Let the transcriber know if it is burned into the video window or does it need to be added? Analog time code can be a little more tricky. Usually, it is recorded on to one of the stereo audio channels and requires a special reader to transcribe from. If so make sure you record the time code signal at a high gain and encoded in a “lossless” audio format (AIFF, WAV, ext…).
  5. Total Length of Audio / Video – Letting the transcribers know how much audio / video time they will be transcribing ensures that they can plan effectively around other projects they may currently have. This step can prevent failing to meet deadlines because there was simply to much material and not enough time to complete it.
  6. Audio and Vocal Quality – Some companies like ourselves can transcribe, even repair poorly recorded audio files. However, it is critical to let the transcription company know of any problems in the audio source such as; hiss, pops, clicks, background noise, hum, artifacts, clipping ext… If we know problems are there beforehand we can prevent wasting time trying to identify the problems and get right to fixing them. Audio board with lights.    Furthermore, if there are foreign accents, speech impediments, or any technical language of the speaker(s) letting the transcription company know beforehand can save a bunch of time and effort on everyone’s part.
  7. Expected Turnaround – Knowing when you want your transcripts returned lets people plan for the priority of the work. If you need faster or longer than normal turnaround, consider this beforehand and come up with a decision that fits your needs and budget limitations. Word Wizards can provide same day or 24 hour transcription turnaround, but at a higher cost. Consult with your transcription provider for rates beforehand to make sure there are no financial surprises at the end of the project.
  8. Omissions and Exceptions – Any special requests to omit or leave out material need to be established before transcription begins. Sometimes people like to leave out the questions because it  saves page space and thus saves money. Sometimes off camera chatter should be left out, sometimes it needs to be included. Discussing this with your team before sending it out for transcription will make sure you only pay for what you want and you want what your paying for.
  9. Headers and Labels – If you would like a particular header in your transcript have that ready when the job is sent out. Also if you want labels or identification for individuals make sure to include that in your project details before the work had begun.
  10. Location and Security Preferences –Some jobs require a special level security. What are you comfortable with? Onsite – transcription done either in your facility or the transcription company headquarters. Onshore – transcription never leaves the country (often this is a requirement for sensitive government work.) Offshore – If your o.k. with sending the job overseas just make sure your team understands that it may fall into the wrong hands the farther it makes its way away from protected USA cyberspace. Its Impossible!

Taking stock of all these factors before you start the transcription process will ensure a faster and easier transcription experience for you and the provider. That’s all for now folks, stay tuned for more from your friends here at Word Wizards!