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This is the Jake Russo Podcast, episode one: “I Use This”, recorded November 20th, 2022. Enjoy!
Welcome back to the podcast. It’s been a year, and since I refuse to use Anchor, I’ve been reminded of this show’s existence each month when Libsyn charges me for hosting, which I’m barely using, so I figured I might as well take advantage of it. So in episode zero, the trailer episode, which was essentially an SEO scam, I’m trying to make my website appear a little higher up in search results. I mentioned that these podcasts would serve as an audio component to my written work. Well, I’ve finally actually written something and put it on the internet. That’s more than you know, three sentences long and posted on Twitter, and that’s a blog post called I Use This, which was inspired by a page on Leo Laporte’s site. Oh, and speaking of Leo Laporte, he has retired as I’m recording this, at least from radio, one of my favorite radio shows. So, you know, that’s – that’s too bad. I think that’s where I got the idea for Hugo, as I’ll be talking about in just a minute here. But it’s certainly where I got the idea for the “I Use This” feature. It’s more of a listicle, you know, a heading and a paragraph or two and then a heading and a paragraph or two, and the paragraphs are pretty standalone. I thought I would go through most everything in here and add a little bit of commentary and expand on it a little bit.
Anyway, so the technology powering the website.
So I’ve experimented with WordPress sites a lot. Most of the WordPress sites I have ever run have been test projects for fun, and they’ve been off of, you know, Namecheap’s, $30 a year hosting, which is terrible, but I mean, it’s $30 a year and it’s just about as good as any $30 a year, $2 a month WordPress hosting solution you’ll find advertised out there. I have experience with WordPress. My problem with it is I seem to have to download so many plugins to get anything done. If you want some SEO tools, you download Yoast SEO, and if you want a form, well, we have to download a plugin for that and god forbid WordPress be secure, so you have to download Wordfence, and it’s just kind of annoying to have to download all these plugins and depend on all these, these different things. And it kind of makes the site slow. And, but I looked into WordPress. I was thinking about Flywheel because it’s basically WPEngine. It’s, you know, not $2 a month, but it’s not, you know, $70 a month, because the site has no visitors. And while I like the CMS, it’s works quite well. I just couldn’t find a theme I really liked and I’m, I’m not great at building themes, but I found a great theme for Hugo called Paper Mod, which is kind of reminiscent of what I had on my previous site for about three years.
You can do it, but for me, like I have to be at my computer to do it. Uh, WordPress has an app, you can hook it up to your WordPress site and if you need to make a little change, like you just noticed a typo or wanted to change something smaller, whatever it may be– work on a post you had in progress, you can just go in the app and press a few buttons and it’s up to date. With Hugo, there’s some headless CMS software you can integrate with it. Forestry I was looking at there, there are tons of other ones, but I just haven’t looked into that too deeply. So to host it, I mentioned it’s free. I use CloudFlare pages because I’ve been using CloudFlare for years and it’s built right into CloudFlare. The way I deploy it now, I haven’t bothered to hook it to GitHub and actually learn how to use Git, so I just have Hugo assemble the site in a folder and I upload that to CloudFlare, but I’m working on that. The registrar. So I use Hover. It’s more costly than many discount registrars. I’d say it costs a little more than Namecheap and Porkbun and, and that lot, but I’m almost certain it’s much cheaper than GoDaddy and GoDaddy’s terrible and people still use it– if it’s not the most popular registrar, it’s, it’s up there and they’re way overpriced. Hover is great, great customer service. You can call them on the phone, which I quite like. They have live chat and email. The reason I switched away from using CloudFlare as my registrar is because CloudFlare will hang up on you if you call and you send them an email and get a robot, unless of course you want to pay, you know, 200 bucks a month or something and then maybe they’ll answer the phone.
So I mentioned Obsidian in the post, which is kind of pitched as a second brain by the people you hear pitching Notion and, well, Notion’s a little more mainstream these days, but all these wacky note management platforms and organization systems and Obsidian is one of those. It has a lot of powerful features. It has these like graphics you can make to map ideas or links between one note and another. Not exactly sure, I haven’t done it. I did make a a folder the other day to put my blog posts in, so that was adventurous of me. But I use Obsidian because it’s a great markdown editor. Hugo uses Markdown. So all the posts are written in Markdown and then you know, rendered into HTML and the markdown is a way to show what’s italicized, bold, underlined, what’s a link, headings, that sort of thing.
Obsidian is just great. It auto saves locally, it looks great and I just copy and paste right out of it into Visual Studio, which is maybe not the most efficient, but it works out. I actually remembered I had Obsidian installed when I was looking through my programs or something because I had been googling a markdown editor for Windows because I didn’t like writing in Visual Studio and I just couldn’t find anything. And coincidentally, you know, I happened upon obsidian in my, my program’s folder and there you go. So email. As I mentioned in the post, I was enthralled with email for, I don’t know if it was a month or two back, like last year. And it was because I was deciding between email providers. I was between G Suite, which is now Workspace, and Fastmail. I eventually decided just to keep both, for different purposes, and I like them both.
But for this domain, I use workspace. If you ran an MX look up on the domain, you could see that. The thing with Gmail is that, and people have written about the oligopoly of email, mail sent from Gmail is like always delivered. I’ve never had deliverability issues with Workspace. I have with Fastmail. I sure as hell did years ago when I would use the email services built into the $30 a year shared hosting from Name Cheap. But, if you’re looking for one thing, you have one domain, maybe two or or three, but you don’t have a bunch of aliases, Workspace is great. Six bucks a month, excellent, great deliverability, always up. I actually signed up for the account when– it was a confluence of Fastmail being down from the first in a series of somewhat regular DDoS attacks they’ve suffered since about a year ago, and that had had deliverability problems like that week.
Anyway, you probably cannot go wrong with workspace, but I might write at more length a comparison between the two. But my recommendation for probably most people is Workspace. It just works. And now powering the podcast, what you’re listening to right now, how are you listening to it? Well, there’s a lot involved with that, from the physical equipment to the service providers I use. Which is quite impressive considering this is the second of two total episodes over the course of a year. But that’s all right. So for hosting and distribution, I use Libsyn. They’ve been around forever, they’re great, and they’re quite inexpensive. I’m on the, I think it’s the cheapest plan, it’s $5 a month, and then I unnecessarily added two more so that I can have the RSS feed on one of my domains, which is probably completely useless. Like if I ever switch providers, I could just put in the redirect and it’d probably work out.
But oh, well, I have no problems with them. They’re dashboard was pretty antiquated until a few months ago. Are they about half the price of a lot of the newcomers to the space? Although the newcomers have, you know, a flashy dashboard if you care about that. And they’ve been around for almost 20 years. And while I don’t want to pay what SimpleCast charges and some of the others, I also refuse to use Anchor because I just don’t think anyone serious should use Anchor. I have no real reason. Libsyn gives me a little more control and I like them better. Pod track, well Libsyn is, as I mentioned, pretty inexpensive, but they like to nickel and dime you for things here and there, like the $2 a month just to make the, you know, RSS feed location podcast.jakerusso.net, instead of whatever.libsyn.com.
And their analytics is one of those things. For free, they’ll tell me how many people might have clicked download recently, but not much more, not the device, not if those downloads were unique, not the approximate location. And Podtrac offers all that for free just through what’s called a URL prepend, where instead of the beginning of the URL to this audio file you’re listening to right now, there’s a portion in there that’s dts.podtrac.com, or some such thing. So when you click play on this episode, your device actually goes to Podtrac and asks for the episode and Podtrac says, well, I don’t have it, but thanks for your information, it’s actually over here at Libsyn and Libsyn probably bounces you around a few more times, but eventually, you get the audio file. The significance of going to Podtrac first is now Podtrac, and by extension I, know a little bit more about you– Not much, but it gives me a better idea of how many people are actually listening to the show than, you know, maybe someone requested the audio file somewhere, but you know, maybe it was just being cashed and maybe it was the same person five times. So that’s what you get from Libsyn. And of course Libsyn is happy to put in this prepend for free. So works out.
All right, now to the physical equipment, the Heil PR40 is my mic of choice. I haven’t tried any other ones to be honest with you. Not of this caliber. I mean I’ve used, you know, your run-of-the-mill $30 USB microphones off Amazon, which were of course all terrible, and I jumped to this one. I didn’t try the RE20 or anything comparable.
I jumped to this one because, well, Leo Laporte likes it, and I take a lot of direction from Leo Laporte. And I think I sound good with it. This mic doesn’t work for everyone. Women sound especially bad on the PR 40, but it has a nice sound signature that I like, and it’s quite directional, which is nice. And I, I quite enjoy it. The microphone is on a Rode PSA-1, which back when I bought it was the boom arm to have. They’ve come out with a new one– it might be the PSA-1+ or something. There are a few other entrants. Elgato might have made one by now, but you know, it’s, it’s reliable. It’s a classic and I like it used to be the one to have, but you know, things have changed a little bit. The microphone is attached to the arm with a PRSM-C.
I’m noticing now that there’s a typo. Well, it’s a, it’s a little more than a typo. There’s a mistake in the post I put PRSM-B, it’s actually the PRSM-C, which is the champagne color. It’s much closer to white than black. But there is a black version which is, aptly ,the PRSM-B. It’s overpriced. I think I got it on sale for much cheaper because I don’t think I paid $105 for this thing. But it does a great job of holding this microphone on the arm and I can hit things and it doesn’t sound terrible. So that’s that.
And this is an XLR mic. It doesn’t, you know, natively support USB, but I’m recording this on, of course, a computer that takes USB. So you have to do something to get from XLR to USB. Now, of course, you can buy an XLR to USB cable, which I’d be astonished if it works. But what you need is an audio interface. I’m using the Rode AI-1, and it has one XLR input, it has a jack for my headphones I use to monitor, the AKG K240 MK II, which we’ll get to in just a second. And a gain, knob 48 volts Phantom power, which this microphone doesn’t require, and USB-C to the computer. I was using a Xenyx 1204 USB– for just one microphone. That’s what the first episode of this podcast was recorded on. I don’t know why I got such a large mixer with, you know, four mic inputs and a few other inputs and a bunch of dials and knobs that were frankly quite useless when I only use one microphone. This AI-1, it’s great. It’s well-built. I think it’s quieter, actually– produces a cleaner signal. There’s less noise generated by the interface itself than the 1204 USB and it’s so much smaller, which is great.
The headphones, AKG K240 MK II, well guess who uses AKG K240 MK? You guessed it, Leo Laporte. That’s where I got the idea, again. He uses the regular K240. I got the MK II because, I think they were on sale and I figured, well, two is better than one. And they work fine. They’re not super versatile, but I like to use them when speaking into the microphone. And of course monitoring live, I can hear what I’m saying as I say it. They’re open backed so they feel a little bit different. The sound stage is a little different. It’s a different experience. It’s almost the polar opposite of noise canceling headphones and you know, it’s something different. Apparently sound engineers like it for a spoken voice. I don’t know. It works well enough for me.
And then I included a couple of my peripherals, the keyboard and the mouse.
The keyboard’s fine. I thought it was one of the better pre-builts, I could be wrong. I’ve been thinking about building one lately. The glorious GMMK Pro is kind of the cliche, but people like it for a reason. Anyway, the one I have is the Duragod Hades 68, which, you know, go figure isn’t available on Amazon anymore, and the company seems to have just folded up. But it’s reasonably well-built. It has black PBT keycaps and yeah, like they’re not the greatest PBT, but they feel different than ABS plastic, a little bit of a different texture. It’s a heavy, metal case. I think the backplate’s aluminum– the keys are little stiff. They’re Cherry MX Browns, which some people like, some people hate. I guess that’s how it is with things in the keyboard world. But I like it. It’s not bad. My only kind of problem with it is the stiffness. So I periodically will say, all right, I need to look for a keyboard to build, this is kind of annoying, and then forget about it and repeat the cycle every few weeks. The mouse, though, is great. The Logitech MX Master 3. I used to have a wireless keyboard and a, different, wireless mouse. The keyboard, it doesn’t really matter because you don’t move it around– who cares if it’s wired? It’s actually easier if it’s wired because, especially if it’s backlit, you have to charge it often, which I think is annoying. But with a mouse, the peripheral, you actually move around. I think it’s quite beneficial for it to be wireless. The MX Master 3 is nice, it’s comfortable. I like using it. The battery’s pretty good, have to charge it maybe once a month, once every two months. It’s, it’s not been very often and it’s just a great step up from the basic mouse you might have been using for forever. Of course, they came out with the 3S a few months after I got the three, but they’re pretty much the same with the exception of the click being a little quieter. But anyway, good mouse.
Peripherals I think are quite important because they’re how you interact with your computer and the software on it. So if that’s annoying, if that’s uncomfortable, it’s just, it taints the rest of the experience. I did build the computer that I use now. I didn’t mention it in the post, and I figured I wasn’t interested in detailing every spec. Anyway, that’s about it for this post and this episode.
I’m gonna try to write more soon and record more episodes. If you’re interested, if you didn’t think this episode was horrible, and maybe you even enjoyed the blog post, you can go ahead and subscribe to this podcast in your favorite podcast player. Probably wherever you’re listening to it right now, there’s a subscribe button somewhere. And if you haven’t read the post, which this episode is based on, can visit jakerusso.com and my blog there. If you’re interested in my content and hearing more from me, you can also leave your email, subscribe to my email newsletter. I’ll email whenever I release new podcast episodes or new blog posts and it’s super easy to subscribe. All I need is your email address and your name, and you can subscribe jakerusso.com/subscribe.
Thanks for listening. I’ll catch you next time. And until then, you can visit me 24/7 at jakerusso.com. You’re listening to the Jake Russo Podcast.