Tech Tips

How to Make Your (Podcasting) Hobby Pay, When Your Show Doesn't: Joel Sharpton at PMx, Podcast Movement 2016

How To Make Your (Podcasting) Hobby Pay, When Your Show Doesn't. (Photo courtesy of Mark Bologna)

I was honored to speak at PMx as part of Podcast Movement 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago about my journey towards independence and how narrating audiobooks with is one simple method many if not all podcasters can adopt. Thanks to Ramona Rice, host of The Sports Gal Pal podcast and Community Manager for Podcast Websites, for the introduction. Visit to download my Tips and Tricks, see my gear recommendations lists and sign up for yourself.

(***Update*** Wayne Henderson of asked how I picked the books I pursue. I've answered that in a new post here.***Update***)

Thoughts on WWDC 2016

Thoughts on WWDC 2016

Today, Apple started their annual World Wide Developers Conference and made big announcements about all of their major platforms. Here’s a few of my big thoughts about the days announcements. More to come over the next few months as I get access to the betas in July and begin hands-on use.

  1. Overall User-Interface improvements for iOS - Better and more interactive notifications, quicker access to lots of things from the lock screen (3D Touch was demoed here, but iPad support was discussed which means all these things work somehow on older iPhones and iPads).
  2. Siri on the Mac - Siri is coming to the Mac and includes lots of new tricks merging the usefulness of Spotlight Search with the accessibility of Siri. If this works like it demos, it’ll change the way I work with my Mac, and potentially make me want to use my Mac even more than I do now.
  3. Siri for 3rd Party apps - Call an Uber with Siri, Get a response from pretty much any app in the native Siri interface all with your voice. Again, the proof is in the pudding, and will require some work from developers. But if it works, it’ll be amazing. The promise of Siri, delivered.
  4. Single Sign-In on Apple TV - I still haven’t upgraded to the new Apple TV, so I’m living in the pre-app TV world, but I do suffer from the million authentications of cable tv apps even on the older device. With this new system, you’ll have one sign-in experience, and not only will the Apple TV handle your authentication in each individual app, it’ll give you a page detailing all the apps available to you with your cable or satellite subscription. It’s pretty amazing, and this one should work just as advertised.
  5. Faster app launching for Apple Watch (and general overhaul of the Watch OS) - I also am Apple Watch-less, but the friends I have that wear them and all the coverage I’ve read or heard concurs that while many things about the device are great, the app experience is terrible. WatchOS 3.0 is coming and it promises among other things, instant app launching. And behind the scenes loading of data which has happened on the phone for a while.
  6. Even the apps are platforms now - Both Maps and Messages were shown with 3rd party function WITHIN the apps themselves. Find your destination in Maps and instead of routing your drive, call an Uber, pay for it with Apple Pay and never leave the Maps app. Or send new stickers in Messages. Pay friends with Square Cash, and theoretically much, much more.
  7. VOIP API - If you regularly use Skype, WeChat, Facebook Messenger etc to make “phone calls” then you’ll now be able to get those notifications on your lock screen, just like a “real” phone call. They’ll show up in your missed calls etc. I’m hopeful that there’s something in here that will make podcasting with iOS devices easier too, but I’m doubtful.
  8. You can FINALLY remove “stock” Apple apps. Let’s say you, like me, don’t follow your portfolio with the Apple default Stocks app. You can now delete that app, instead of hiding it deep in a folder. Same goes for ANY of the following apps:

• Calendar 

• Compass 

• Contacts 

• FaceTime 

• Find My Friends 

• Home 


iCloud Drive 

• iTunes Store 

• Mail 

• Maps 

• Music 

• News 

• Notes 

• Podcasts

• Reminders 

• Stocks 

• Tips 

• Videos 

• Voice Memos 

• Watch app 

• Weather

These apps will all now live in the App store too for redownloading, which means Apple can update them faster and independently from the system itself. All good stuff.

9. Picture in Picture Video on Mac - This is one that I’ve seen lots of people make light of, but will be incredibly useful to anyone who every tries it. The same PIP function on the iPads, now available on the Mac, anywhere you’re playing video, you’ll be able to instantly shrink that into a box that you can resize and move from any corner of the screen to another and make it float above other apps, even when they’re in full-screen mode. For watching the game while you’re getting work done or using software training videos this really is a world better than having to meticulously resize the little player window and move it around manually.

10. Cross-Platform Copy and Paste - So, you’re on the Mac, copy something from your browser or an email and you want to send it to someone but that app you’d like to use is on your phone. Now, any device you’re also logged into with iCloud will have access to that “clipboard”. Copy on your Mac, paste it into an app on your phone or iPad. Again, this will be revolutionary if it works. There are apps that have done this for ages, but to have it built into the operating system on your desktop/laptop and your mobile devices would be something special.

Developers have access to all this coolness with the first beta today. The public beta starts in July and normal folks will get access in the fall (with the launch of the next iPhone, most likely) all for FREE.

How the Sharpton Six Listen to Music

Since roughly 2003, I've been building an iTunes library. From ripped CDs, friends collections, occasional purchases and the less than reputable ways you acquire these sorts of files, I've gotten a really sizable and varied collection. Just under 25,000 songs at last count.

But how do you listen to those these days? With six family members, multiple devices and very little downtime, any possible solution for my family needs to provide the following things:

1. Ubiquitous. - When we're throwing dance parties at home, we use the Apple TV in the living room. When Remy and I are exploring musical history, we use the iMac. When we're out and about, we're on iPads or iPhones. We need created  and curated playlists to be in all of those places and to update frequently and transparently.

2. Obvious. - My wife is very tech savvy and even our twins can make their way around iOS pretty well (for two year olds), but no one but me is interested or intrigued by the vagaries of technology, or the intricacies or UI design. Any app or service we use to listen to music has to be simple enough for the kids and Kelly approved as well.

3. Price Conscious. - Between traditional subscriptions that families have dealt with for decades (utilities and cable packages) and the new "necessaries" like Netflix, and occupational requirements like Buffer and Dropbox Pro, my recurring subscriptions are already pretty high. I'm not particularly interested in adding anymore to that list. I don't paying something for this problem to be solved, but I'm not excited about it.

Between Kelly and me, we've tried pretty much every service available for music: Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Match and Apple Music, even the old faithful YouTube streaming (though not their paid YouTube Red service).

While Kelly really liked Spotify, I've never loved their mobile apps, and I really don't like the ads, or care to pay the monthly subscription to remove them. Apple Music was nice enough during my 3 month trial, but it's confusing cross-breeding with my established library was a con, not a pro. I did maintain my iTunes Match subscription though. This is a lesser known (and older) music subscription from Apple that let's you take your iTunes library and "match" it against the iTunes Store itself. Then get access to those matched songs from anywhere in the cloud just like you had purchased the song though Apple directly. That service is $25/year and means that I don't have to plug anyone's iPad or iPhone into my computer again. Well worth it.

Pandora was delightful when it launched, the novelty of having new interesting music brought to you all the time was amazing. But, these days, if I'm going to let the music find ME, I'd rather do it with an interesting terrestrial radio station, whether traditionally or digitally. Kelly likes to dip into her decades old Pandora stations from time to time, but as a primary music solution, this one is done.

I seriously thought about a YouTube Red subscription, even though I'm not exactly in love with the terms for the creators. The idea of my children never being presented with an ad through all their ridiculous YouTube views alone would make this is a compelling case, add to it the audio only music streaming options and the basically guaranteed continued growth of this service's features, this is one I'll definitely watch with interest. But for now, we're passing on Red.

The surprising answer to our wish to listen to music from anywhere anytime ended up being right under our noses (and already paid for). Amazon Music has been included in your Amazon Prime subscription for several years and even began with an Amazon version of the iTunes Match idea. You can match songs against their Prime library, and then upload any non-matched songs to be available in the same way as the others. It's really quite something.

On top of that function, you've got featured music suggestions based on your own library (think Genius features in iTunes), "radio" channels based on an artist or genre (and curated by your own Thumbs up and Thumbs down), and really interesting offline music features that make extra songs and playlists available on your device automatically so you've got something interesting and unexpected available to listen to in the subway or just on your commute without using your cellular data.

All those features work on the web, on your iPhone/iPad/Fire tablet or Android device. And chances are, if you do any Amazon shopping, you're already paying for this service right now.

As a serious Apple user, who's loved iTunes for years and uses their devices exclusively (but was willing to move on to a better service in Google Photos), I cannot recommend Amazon Music enough. Check it out.

Always Recording: How We Podcast

This week on my Podcast review show, Always Listening, I responded to some listener feedback by discussing the gear, software and processes we use to create our podcast. If that sounds like your type of thing, check the audio out right here:

Here's a list with links of the software and gear I discuss in the show:

Adobe Audition CC

Shure SM7b

Heil PR40

Electrovoice RE20

Mackie 14 channel mixer 1402 vlz3

ART USB Dual Pre

Shawn Smith

ATR 2100

Pyle Pro PDMIC58

Shure S 58

Marco Arment’s Microphone review

Ferrite Recording Studio - Wooji Juice Ltd

Audio Hijack