User:SPIKE/UnNews

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NH token The
Foolitzer
Prize

March-August-November 2010

CommieLeon trotsky E G A E D M

The Emmanuel
Goldstein Award
of Excellence in
the Distribution
of Misinformation

Feb-Mar-Apr-May-Jun-2010
Jul-Aug-Sep-Oct-Nov-2010
Jan-Feb*-Mar-2011

MicrophoneBadge Article
Narrator
of the
Month

Jun-Jul-Oct-Nov-2010
Feb-2011

I started writing UnNews releases in February 2010 and recording audio versions later in the same month. I recorded all 11 audio releases on UnNews in that month, which made me a lock for the Goldstein award. There is no better way to earn a Manny than for no one else to qualify.

I've done about 15 audios per month since then, while the rest of the Uncyclopedia community has obligingly left the field entirely. In June, Dexter, who had revived the lost art of narrating articles, suggested I could be Narrator of the Month if I'd crank out three of them, and that was habit-forming too.

In September, 2010, the Reverend Zim ulator abdicated as the Chief of UnNews over a call for a vote on his typographical affectations and a technical rewrite of the Front Page. Drama and dickery ensued and he is now a larger fish in a smaller pond. I laid out the Front Page in his absence until the same duo caught up with me as well. That began my sabbatical from Uncyclopedia, during which the awards I used to win were discontinued.

This page lists all my UnNews contributions, and is the place to discuss the text and audio versions. New topics at the end, please.


edit Contributions

2015
May 21 UnNews:Rand Paul filibuster fizzles
May 20 UnNews:Hillary to State: Stop me before I reformat again
May 19 UnNews:Big Tech objects to U.S. spying proposal (with EStop) (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
May 18 UnNews:Rival gangs battle to a draw in Waco
May 17 UnNews:Train service resumes after brief ineffective pause (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
May 16 UnNews:Lynch calls a spade a spade
May 12 UnNews:Commissioner suspends Hillary (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
May 10 UnNews:US Army women cadets wash out (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
May 7 UnNews:New England Patriots are cheaters
May 6 UnNews:Greece accuses Europe of red-lining
May 5 UnNews:ISIS claims responsibility for Texas cartoon attack (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
April 29 UnNews:Lynch becomes new U.S. Attorney General (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
April 27 UnNews:US drone kills US citizen
April 21 UnNews:US aircraft carrier readied to do nothing
April 18 UnNews:Greece scrounges for cash
April 17 UnNews:Coast Guard ship returns with 14 tons of cocaine
April 15 UnNews:Hillary unveils campaign disguise (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
April 12 UnNews:Hillary may have declared her candidacy (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
April 9 UnNews:Owner of ".sucks" asks for legal advice
April 7 UnNews:Rand Paul announces 50-state campaign
April 6 UnNews:Microsoft to hire autistic workers
April 3 UnNews:Obama to speak on green jobs in Utah -- by Jonny appleseed (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
UnNews:Mozilla gives China certificate of distrust
April 1 UnNews:Indiana toddler charged with hate speech (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
March 31 UnNews:Iran deal done, except for details (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
March 25 UnNews:Water becomes the newest Human Right
March 24 UnNews:Crash of Germanwings plane is a mystery (Updated March 26)
March 22 UnNews:RaceTogether races to oblivion
March 21 UnNews:Competitors race to match Starbucks abuse of customers (EStop helped)
March 20 US voting to remain voluntary
March 15 UnNews:All eyes are on the F.E.D. (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
UnNews:Russians hack State Department; Hillary files are safe
March 11 Hillary comes really clean (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
March 8 UnNews:US has no room to store new tax forms (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
March 6 UnNews:ISIS finally goes too far
March 1 UnNews:Putin adversary dies; the West is baffled‎
February 28 UnNews:Mr. Spock passes away
February 25 UnNews:US Army promotes "play therapy"
February 23 UnNews:Greece promises new boss is not the same as the old boss
February 20 UnNews:Chihuahuans form record gas line (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
February 19 UnNews:Ash Carter sworn in at DoD
February 14 UnNews:First-ever openly furry candidate for Congress
February 11 UnNews:Bush 45 dumps documents on own foot
February 8 UnNews:Obama explains continuing Muslim violence (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
February 5 UnNews:Jordan executions mark first-ever ISIS gaffe
February 4 UnNews:Advertiser ruins Super Bowl XLIX
January 30 UnNews:Romney not running in 2016
January 29 UnNews:More snags in Hernandez murder trial
January 27 UnNews:Oh God it's snowing hard
January 25 UnNews:Obama to save the day by attending Abdullah funeral (Gnome-speakernotes listen)
January 23 UnNews:SkyMall goes broke
January 22 UnNews:Windows 10 will include glasses and fake nose
January 20 UnNews:New England steals AFC trophy (Gnome-speakernotes listen) (Updated)
January 19 UnNews:Mourning after: US delegation arrives in Paris
January 14 UnNews:UnNews authors warned not to mention pork
January 12 UnNews:Pols: Don't politicize Paris killings
January 10 UnNews:Congress OKs the XL
January 7 UnNews:France opens newspaper "anyone can edit"
January 5 UnNews:EU: No one is getting out
January 4 UnNews:Obama-care confusion ends

but wait--there's more!

edit Format

edit Content

Almost all my UnNews releases key off an actual piece of news, typically taking an item from the Associated Press and either misinterpreting it or carrying it to its logical conclusion.

edit Audio

Teletype

The ASR33 TeleType is a staple of any good newsroom. (Internet? What's that?) WINS 1010 KHz in New York City still uses the sound effect behind its news reporting.

My UnNews audio features use a mix of the British UnNews theme jingle that I fade into a TeleType sound effect. They end by repeating the British theme, truncated and with a faster fade-out. My sports features start with a custom mix of "Pennant Fever," composed by James Newton Howard for the movie Major League.

Signature lines

My features begin by reading the headline and then adding, "Stay tuned--for UnNews!" which is a nod to the late radio commentator Paul Harvey. They end with the catch-line, "This has been UnNews, a service of Uncyclopedia. Straight talk from straight faces." These are not "official" UnNews Audio tag lines and no one is required to use them, nor to follow any rules except to be funny. The finale, "My name is Spike. No, seriously" is not adaptable to other news readers, unless your Uncyclopedia handle is also what people call you in real life, in which case I pity some of you.

Running jokes

My UnNews features have repeated the following jokes:

  • The Republican Party is "the minority party, whose name could not be determined," or something similar; likewise the names of its leaders, to mock them for not standing up to Barack Obama during all of 2009, when he had Godlike popularity.
  • In audio features, "Washington D.C." becomes an adoring "Washington, the capital," recalling Jackson Browne's Lawyers in Love.

In early features, the audio anchor (perhaps like Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show) was inexplicably unable to pronounce "Massachusetts." I ditched this because it is always ambiguous whether a bad performance is funny, or just bad.

Audio setup

I record the audio features using the freeware Audacity package. I listen through earphones to the theme and sound effects, playing on one Audacity track, while recording through a Blue "Snowball" USB microphone onto a different track, digitally record this last track to remove stuttering, pauses, and flubs. Audacity then merges the tracks and appends the finale (a repeat of the British UnNews theme with a voiceover). The TeleType effect hides any background noise and gasps of breath.

edit Technical details

Sound editor

My former audio editor, showing (in green) the contents of a monaural (single-channel) WAV file at about the right volume level: The highest peaks and valleys just touch the edge of the window. You can see, at the start and end of the audio clip, portions without voice but only the UnNews theme.

WAV files

A wave file (the filename ends in .WAV) samples sound a certain number of times per second and stores the energy level at each sample as a 16-bit number (between plus and minus 32,767). Like graphics on an old printer, where curves turn into jagged lines, the copy isn't exact, but only concert violinists have any problems with CD-quality WAV files (44100 samples per second). Any audio editor program will show you your voice as a wave, like an oscilloscope.

Wave files are huge, but there is no need to send them between computers, and any computer made in the last ten years will handle them easily. Don't use 8-bit recording. These files are half as big, but store each sample as an 8-bit number (between plus and minus 127). You can make out voice and music, but fade-outs get very hissy.

Experiment with volume levels. Too loud, and your recorder will try to record values beyond 32,767. The wave will get an artificial flat top (the sound will be "clipped") and it will sound bad. Too soft, and the listener will have to crank up his set--but this means you aren't using the full range, and your voice will be recorded with less accuracy. Ideally, you should record a test, look at it with a sound editor, and ensure that the loudest point of your feature just touches the top and bottom of the graph area. If the sound only gets halfway to those edges, you are recording 10 decibels softer than you could, and using only half the available accuracy.

You don't need a recording studio, but plaster, tile, and hardwood surfaces may produce noticeable echo. If you care, you can reduce this with wall-hangings, which may be towels. Plug a real microphone into the PC's microphone jack instead of using a built-in microphone. Background noises won't interfere with your voice but may be detectable during moments of silence. Record a test and play it back at full volume, or look at it in an audio editor, to see what background noise you are recording.

MP3 files

Sounds are waves, and you can make a smaller file by describing the shape of the wave than by specifying every point on the curve. That's what MP3 files do. Playing MP3 files is an exact science, but translating a wave file into MP3 is an art that is done with differing quality. You specify how big, per unit of time, you want the MP3 file to be, and the encoder (or compressor) fills the space with as detailed a description of the wave as will fit.

The human mind doesn't hear sound so much as it senses things happening; you cannot hear a bell tinkling at the same time as an explosion; you cannot hear a soft C-sharp at the same time as a loud C. Your mind filters these sounds out as distractions. A good MP3 encoder omits from the file many sounds you are unlikely to be able to hear, freeing more space in the file to represent sounds of more relevance. Different minds perceive differently, and opinions differ about the quality of sound produced by various encoders. I have no preference.

Recommended settings
Microphone on stand

Using one of these helps your voice be heard.

I don't select 44100 Hz (CD-quality) 16-bit stereo, but 22050 Hz 16-bit mono, which is adequate for voice. This produces WAV files 1/4 of the size of CD-quality files (2.646 Mb/min rather than 10.584 Mb/min). The common 128 Kbit/sec (kbps) MP3 setting reserves 0.96 Mb/min, but I select 96 kbps, producing files of 0.72 Mb per minute without noticeable drop-off in sound quality. (A Mb is about one thousandth of a gigabyte.)

ID3

MP3 files can contain descriptions as well as music. Much MP3-playing software lets you type or edit these descriptions. My audio clips don't use ID3. For your information--

  • ID3v1 lets you add a few, fixed-length fields to the end of an MP3 file, such as artist, album name, song name, and comments.
  • ID3v2 is at the start of the MP3 file, so software can display it without searching to the end of the file. There are more fields, and they can be much longer, including multi-line comments.

Neither MP3 files nor WAV files contain computer code or any way for a virus to infect your computer. Even a file that claims to be an MP3 but isn't can't damage your computer, if you deal with it through an audio player. (MP3 files with ID3v2 can contain a web link, and if your player gives you a button to click, and if you click it, this could take you to a web site that doesn't play by the rules.)

edit Talk page for UnNews and UnNews Audio

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