Between updating websites and producing audio and video for clients, there are a lot of ways I can get myself into a hole, and you know the rule when you find yourself in a hole? Stop digging.
I’ve run into a number of digital challenges over the years and more often than not, I’ve found the solutions in an unlikely place, an Australian software company called NCH Software (www.nchsoftware.com/).
The company, started in Canberra in 1993, makes a wide range of small software programs for very specific uses in audio, video, music, graphics, and business. I’ve written about the firm’s FastFox Text Expander (February 2017), which lets you use abbreviations that are expanded into text blocks as you type. More recently, the firm’s video tool, Prism Video Converter (www.nchsoftware.com/prism/index.html) has come in handy when I needed to repair a corrupted video file from a client’s live broadcast.
I’ve also recently dusted off my Olympus transcription floor pedal USB device for editing transcripts of broadcasts more efficiently. The foot pedal (if you ever used a tape cassette dictation machine, you may remember these) makes it easy to edit a transcript when paired with NCH’s Express Scribe transcription software (www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html). You can set the speed of the playback for more than double normal speed, and everything is still easily understandable, but you can get through the edit in a fraction of the time.
NCH also makes a very compact audio recording program that’s perfect for use in recording remote podcast guests in a pinch. The program, RecordPad, can be installed on a guest’s computer and record their side of the conversation (www.nch.com.au/recordpad/index.html). When finished, the program can even upload the finished recording via email or to an upload site if you have access to an FTP server.
A few years ago a client for whom I record voiceover messages asked me to provide the recordings using a somewhat obscure audio file format. I have the latest audio recording software from several firms, but none of them supported this particular file format. Enter Switch Audio File Converter from NCH, which supports turning modern WAV and MP3 files into the more obscure format the client needed (www.nch.com.au/switch/index.html). Problem solved.
It isn’t often that I need to burn CDs or DVDs any more, but it does come up occasionally. Burning used to require complex software, but for a quick one-time burn, NCH’s Express Burn (www.nch.com.au/burn/index.html) is small and easy to use.
NCH has a wide range of other audio and video tools, like Golden Records, specially designed if you are digitizing a collection of vinyl recordings or audio cassettes. The program can compensate for the audio signal from a turntable plugged directly into a computer without amplifier, and its silence sensing capability will break an LP’s recordings into individual tracks. (www.nch.com.au/golden/index.html).
The best thing about NCH’s narrowly specialized programs is that the company prices them reasonably, so you don’t feel like they’re taking advantage of you for having a unique technical challenge to resolve. They are one of my absolute go-to developers for technical utilities, and you ought to take a look and see if they have something that solves one of your computer challenges.
Email [email protected] about digital challenges you’ve solved and how you did it. Follow @PodcastSteve on Twitter.