October 31st, 2010 | Author:

If you like editing songs or sounds, try this free program called Audacity. I originally found this program when looking for a way to “chipmunk” a song. (To make it sound like the Alvin and the Chipmunks.) I also found it very useful for bleeping out bad words in a song. After I bleeped out the bad words from a rap song and then just for fun, chipmunked it, Mom said that sounded much improved. She could actually tolerate it – well, at least for maybe a minute.

Here is the link to download it completely for free. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Now that you have the program, follow these simple instructions to “chipmunk” and bleep words out. Obviously, the program also does a lot of other special effects so have fun and experiment.

Open the Audacity program.

Click File>Open to insert your song.

For “Chipmunking”: (Very easy)

  1. Click Effect>Change Pitch>Drag bottom scroll bar until the Percentage Change box says about 50. Press OK.
  2. Now the song should be in a high, squeaky voice (aka Chipmunks). You can play around with the percentages.

For bleeping out bad words: (This is a little more involved.)

  1. You’ll need to zoom in so you it’s more detailed. Click View>Zoom In repeatedly until you see the time bar go in .5 increments. You can also use the Zoom tool instead which looks like a magnifying glass with a + sign.
  2. Play the song until you hear where the bad words are. Make note of the exact tick mark on the time bar.
  3. Stop the song using the square stop button. Not the pause button! The vertical bar will not show at the stopped point.
  4. Highlight the portion of the song that has the word in it. To do this, click the “Selection Tool” which looks like a text cursor I. It is located at the top to the right of the Pause, Play, Stop, Etc.
  5. Once you click on the selection tool button, click your mouse in the song bar at the point where the word is. Try not to cut out the other words.
  6. Drag your mouse to the right slightly which will make a dark grey bar. You can check the clip you selected by hitting the play button. It will then just play that selected portion. If you need to adjust to shorten or lengthen the clip, put your mouse in the grey area at either the left or right edge. A pointer finger will appear. Then just drag to lengthen or shorten the grey area.
  7. FOR THE REST OF THE STEPS, MAKE SURE YOU DON’T CLICK IN THE GREY AREA WITH THE SELECTION TOOL . Otherwise, you will have to repeat some steps, undo, or restart.
  8. Once you highlight the part you want to bleep out, select Effect>Change Tempo> Drag the bar until the Percent Change box is between 110-120.
  9. Hit OK (The selected clip should be shortened.)
  10. Select >Effect>Change Speed> Drag the bar to about 120-130
  11. Hit OK (The selected clip should be shortened again.)
  12. Select the “Envelope Tool” which is located directly to the right of the “Selection Tool”.  This changes the volume of the selected parts. The section should still be highlighted.
  13. Click the top blue bar above the lighter soundwave section right before your selected clip and drag all the way to the top.
  14. Before you do Step #15, if the selected clip is too narrow to see, zoom in so it’s about a half-inch wide. This will make it easier to work with.
  15. Put your envelope tool cursor in the middle of the dark grey selected clip area right below the blue bar and click. The top blue bar should be lowered as a result. If the lighter soundwave area goes up, you’ve done it wrong so click Edit>Undo.
  16. Click after the dark grey selected clip area on the top blue bar and drag all the way to the top again. The line should make a V shape.
  17. In the top blue line, drag the lower part of the V all the way to the center of the sound wave until a double blue line appears in the middle.
  18. Notice how the blue double bar space is wider than the dark grey area time bar above. These need to match up. Put your mouse over the right or left white dot in the top blue bar and drag it to match the dark grey area/box in the time bar. Do the same for the other side. You are kind of eyeballing it to match. Be careful not to drag your mouse downward. If you do, you’ll have to move the blue bar back up to the top.
  19. Congratulations you have successfully bleeped out a bad word.
  20. To test how it sounds, press the purple skip-to-start button. |<<
  21. Press Play. If you hear that the bleeped word is not completely gone or you need to make revisions, it’s easier just to start over than to try and modify your settings from here.
  22. Now that you’ve got the hang of this, repeat Steps #2-19 for each word you want to bleep out.
  23. Don’t close the program until you save the project for future editing. Note: This will only save it as a .aup file.
  24. To save the edited song as an mp3, follow the next steps.

To export as an mp3:

  1. To save the music as an mp3 you have to export it from Audacity. To do this, you must download an encoder to save as an mp3 at http://lame.buanzo.com.ar/
  2. Follow the instructions when you are there! It is not a separate program but it is needed to run a function on Audacity.
  3. Once you have downloaded the encoder,  follow these instructions for export.
  4. Click File>Export
  5. The rest is self explanatory.

Troubleshooting:

If the Effects or any other options are grayed out or are not working remember to always STOP the song not pause it. To change anything it has to be done while it is stopped.

Of course, if you want to spend your money on a more involved program, go for it. But I like finding free programs and Audacity is good for the average person who just wants to play around with songs for fun.

October 24th, 2010 | Author:

In the simplest definition, a circle is a basic shape without an opening or end. Have you ever noticed how people’s behaviors sometimes resemble a circle? It doesn’t seem to matter the age of the people involved either, although kids seem to “circle” more than adults.

I have always been a pretty observant person. I like to stay back and assess situations before I jump into them so it gives me a chance to notice the way people act. Recently I noticed that people, especially kids, do a lot of things in circles. Kids talk in a circle. They dance at parties in a circle. Even people eating at a table are often in a circle shape.

I was recently at a Halloween birthday party. To no surprise, everyone danced in circles. There were small circles of four to five kids and also larger circles. Finally, the birthday girl got everyone together in one big circle to dance, which was really different since so much of our activities are done separately.

My mom and dad just don’t understand why kids dance in a circle because they are used to people dancing with just one other person at a time. I guess kids today like the feeling and security of groups.

You can tell a lot about people by the choices they make. I have divided them into three circle types:

  1. The Embracer – The person who leaves a circle open so more people can join (Caring, inviting, friendly – someone that people want to be around).
  2. The Closer – The person who closes the circle so if someone else wants to join, they have to push their way in (Selfish, rude, insecure – most common but least admitted).
  3. The Protector – The person who temporarily closes the circle but when someone else wants to join, they let them (Cautious, neutral, accepting – takes care of themselves but is willing to help others too).

People do things subconsciously.  Their actions and choices tell a lot about them. Not everyone’s life revolves around circles, but try and figure out which type of person you are. Remember, if you don’t like who you are, you can change it.

October 15th, 2010 | Author:

To increase exposure for my 2010 Teddy Bear Christmas Fundraiser for kids at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California, I am offering a link exchange with anyone who would like to be a part of this amazing charitable event.

There is no cost involved. It’s FREE advertising with little to no effort. Here’s how simple it is.

YOUR PART:

  1. Send me your logo and website URL via the email link on my website CONTACT page.

MY PART:

  1. In return, I will send you my logo and URL to my 2010 Rady Bear Christmas Fundraiser page.
  2. I will be redesigning my website home page to include a special place for all link exchange participants.
  3. From now until December 4, your logo/link will be on my home page, which is the deadline for donations for the fundraiser.
  4. After December 4, I will move your logo/link to the specific 2010 Rady Bear Christmas Fundraiser page where it will remain indefinitely.

THE EXCHANGE:

My logo and link to my 2010 Rady Bear Christmas Fundraiser page must remain on your website home page or blog home page until December 4.  After that, you can move my logo  to another page or remove it from your site altogether although I hope you would continue to keep it and redirect the link to my Pencil Bugs home page.

LAST YEAR’S BEARS:

2009 Rady Children's Hospital Teddy Bears deliveryWith the help of people around the world and my own money, I was able to raise over $5,000 which enabled me to buy 1800 teddy bears for the kids. With just 7 weeks left, I have a long way to go to top that success but I believe with your help, we can do it. Any other promotion or publicity you can help with is always appreciated.

Thanks,

Jason

Note: I reserve the right to refuse an exchange with inappropriate websites or blogs. This is G-rated so thanks for your understanding.

October 10th, 2010 | Author:

Probably everyone has done a puzzle maze at one time in their life.  Some people may have even had the fun of running through a corn maze that usually is done around Halloween. No matter which form you do, mazes can be fun but also frustrating.  There are so many options and usually only one way out.

Life is a little like a maze. There are many different paths that to take to get to the end result but the big difference is, life has unlimited options at the end.

Last month I spoke at the TEDxRedmond Conference held at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. I called my talk, “Take Off Your Blinders” or as they titled it “Goals vs. Plans.” While I wasn’t talking about mazes, it does have some connection. If you go through life or the maze with your eyes closed or get so focused on one path, you may miss other opportunities that might pop up right beside you and are even better than your original path.

When I created Pencil Bugs in 2005 at nine years old, I never ever imagined that I would be where I am today. If someone would have said I’d be named on a Forbes Top 10 List of Role Models 18 & Under or would be a published author or any of the other things that have happened, I probably would have just laughed. But with the help of my parents, I went through the maze in the last five years and found new paths as I went. I don’t know where it will lead from here. I am almost 15 so I don’t feel I have to have my whole life planned out at this point. That’s the fun of keeping your eyes open, seeing what opportunities might pop up, and making the most of this maze of life. You never know what can happen.

October 04th, 2010 | Author:


On September 18, 2010, I spoke at the TEDxRedmond conference. It was organized by 12-year-old Adora Svitak, who has many accomplishments, one of them being a published author with her first book, Flying Fingers, at age seven.

Being part of this conference was amazing in many ways. It was run By Kids For Kids with the theme, Power to the Students.  There were fourteen speakers plus Adora and five musical performers. The conference itself would have been incredible enough on it’s own but having it sponsored by Microsoft and BING and take place at Microsoft’s headquarters made it even more amazing.  The main conference room where we presented held several hundred people. That room was restricted to just kid attendees. Another large conference room was full of adults who watched it on live video feed.  There was even another large room with tables and chairs packed full with standing room only. In total, I believe there were close to a thousand people who attended.

Fridge full of drinks

Microsoft has the most amazing conference facility that I have ever been in. In the main hallway in the conference rooms, they had high-tech interactive tables, called Microsoft Surface, that was most comparable to a giant iPad. 🙂 While those had people’s attention, something that was even more exciting was the triple-sized refrigerators that were stocked full of sodas, juices, milk, sparkling water, etc.—all free for the taking, if you can believe that.

Videos from the conference should be available on the TEDxRedmond website in a week or so. Even Microsoft can have technical difficulties.

Thank you Adora and her mom, Joyce Svitak, and all of the other people who put this conference together. I’m looking forward to more events in the future. If you haven’t checked out a TED Conference before, you just have to visit www.ted.com. There are amazing videos on virtually every subject you could ever want.

My interview with SchoolTube

Adora is in the pink/black striped shirt