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Self motivated learning

In a recent post, Leigh Blackall talks about the decentralization of education. He shows a vision where learning is freely available to all through the best teachers on the Internet.

This can be made possible if teachers loosen their coupling with institutions and create an independant prescence on the web. Each teacher shares her research interests, and findings with everyone over her blog, podcasts and the like. Teachers also build communities of learning on their website. Learning is promoted by conversations; synchronous and asynchronous. By giving assignments and publishing micro-contents that explain various concepts in the form of text, audio, video.

Levelator does work

In a recent post I described my experiment with live online training.

Anyone who has tried recording both ends of an audio conversation would know that the voice of the person on machine the recrding is being done gets recorded significantly louder than the other participants. Leveling this difference is a manual process where we normalize and amplify certain sections in Audacity.

A new tool called Levelator automates this process. You give it a WAV file, and it gives back a leveled WAV file. It does work and pretty well too.

The best part is: it's free for non commercial use.

The software is available at

Successfull experiment with web based training

I have been meaning to try webcasting for training from a very long time.

I was finally able to try it for a corporate training with a client. This is an account of our experience, hoping that it will motivate those who have been thinking of similar initiatives, to actually give it a try.

The topic for the session was related to object oriented software design, where we discussed the goals that we should have in mind when we design software. There were a total of 5 participants. We used Vyew ( for collaboration. Vyew is an excellent free tool that supports slides, desktop sharing, desktop screenshots, and text chatting. It also has a voice conferencing facility that supports upto 20 participants. However we did not use this feature because participants would have had to make long distance calls to the conference call number. Instead we conferenced using Skype. One user had problems with his mic and could only hear. It was a slight limitation, but he got over it by asking questions over the text chat. I used Audacity to record the session. I used "Wave Out Mix" to record both ends of the conversation, but the incoming audio was not recorded properly, because the speaker volume on Audacity was slightly low.

Streaming with Oddcast

Change Log (This blog is being edited till completion):
a. 10 Sept, 2006 - Modified 3.1.4 to 3.1.8 (Error in Oddcast version)
b. Added solution2

Webcasting with Oddcast:
The installation of Oddcast 3.1.8 from proceeded fine, however I had some issues when streaming. I was able to resolve some issues, and am working on the rest.

1. Could not find MP3 encoder
2. Could not record and save locally
3. Oddcast seems to be streaming audio from wave-out-mix even if I tell it to stream only from mic or line-in

1. The MP3 encoder was not visible because I did not select LAME encoder when installing Oddcast. By default it selects the Ogg Vorbis encoders but the LAME (for MP3), and AAC encoders have to be selected manually. I had to reinstall Oddcast with LAME selected, after which it worked fine.

Ganapati Visarjan In India


Today is Ganapati Visarjan in India. Thought I'd share this with all international participants on Webcast Academy.

Ganesh is the god of good fortune. During Ganesh festival the idol of Lord Ganesh is bought into many homes and worshipped for 10 days, and on the 11th day the idol is immersed in water.

This is the Kasaba Peth Ganapati Mandal in Pune, and one of the oldest (113 years old) in the country.

This is a snippet from Wikipedia that explains the symbolism of the Ganesh idol. Every element of the body of Ganesha has its own value and its own significance:

  • The elephant head indicates fidelity, intelligence and discriminative power;
  • The fact that he has a single tusk (the other being broken off) indicates Ganesha’s ability to overcome all forms of dualism;
  • The wide ears denote wisdom, ability to listen to people who seek help and to reflect on spiritual truths. They signify the importance of listening in order to assimilate ideas. Ears are used to gain knowledge. The large ears indicate that when God is known, all knowledge is known;
  • the curved trunk indicates the intellectual potentialities which manifest themselves in the faculty of discrimination between real and unreal;
  • on the forehead, the Trishula (weapon of Shiva, similar to Trident) is depicted, symbolising time (past, present and future) and Ganesha's mastery over it;
  • Ganesha’s pot belly contains infinite universes. It signifies the bounty of nature and equanimity, the ability of Ganesha to swallow the sorrows of the Universe and protect the world;
  • the position of his legs (one resting on the ground and one raised) indicate the importance of living and participating in the material world as well as in the spiritual world, the ability to live in the world without being of the world.
  • The four arms of Ganesha represent the four inner attributes of the subtle body, that is: mind (Manas), intellect (Buddhi), ego (Ahamkara), and conditioned conscience (Chitta). Lord Ganesha represents the pure consciousness - the Atman - which enables these four attributes to function in us;
    • The hand waving an axe, is a symbol of the retrenchment of all desires, bearers of pain and suffering. With this axe Ganesha can both strike and repel obstacles. The axe is also to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth;
    • The second hand holds a whip, symbol of the force that ties the devout person to the eternal beatitude of God. The whip conveys that worldly attachments and desires should be rid of;
    • The third hand, turned towards the devotee, is in a pose of blessing, refuge and protection (abhaya);
    • the fourth hand holds a lotus flower (padma), and it symbolizes the highest goal of human evolution, the sweetness of the realised inner self.

  • Testing BuzzBoost from FeedBurner

    I just came accross an interesting feature at FeedBurner. It's called BuzzBoost. It gives you a little Javascript that aggregates other blogs you write, so you can share them on other websites without duplicating the post. Howeve I still haven't been able to get it to point to a particular post. It just displays the latest n posts. Inserting the script below displays the latest 3 posts from my blog (because I have configured it to display 3). I wonder what will happen when I post again. Will it continue showing these 3, or will it show the latest 3. We'll find out soon. Those who are keen on trying this out can register for Feedburner's free service:

    Excerpt from sunday's Skypecast

    Hello, Finally posting an excerpt from last Sunday's Skypecast for the class of 1.2. This is the part when Jeff had logged of for a while. I had to do a bit of editing. I reduced the volume of my voice and amplified the voices that were coming from the other end. It has come out quite decent, except for the echo just at the end. I think that was the time when I was logged onto both the Skypecasts.


    Hello Everyone.


    I am really excited to be a part of Webcast Academy. I look forward to meeting everyone and learning a lot of interesting things. Forgive me for the short intro... but it's been a tiring day, and it's quite late now...

    Look forward to (virtually) meeting you guys...

    Bye for now :-)



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