TWiT Live Update

LeoLaporte-20080514-_MG_9169-1.jpgWe’re inching along with TWiT Live, my attempt to turn the humble Tech Guy Labs into an Internet TV station. If you saw the earlier pictures or video tour you wouldn’t recognize the place. It’s turned into a bustling hub of activity and an actual workplace.
To start with we have an office manager and bookeeper, Frédérique (now I’m not the only person with acute accents around here).

Frédérique is an old family friend who comes in every morning to make sure things are running smoothly.

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Colleen is our new studio manager and resident geek. She is helping me build the studio and has been invaluable in getting the wires connected.

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Her latest feat is putting in this guerilla lighting rig. It’s handy having a welder on staff.

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It’s very weird having employees. The guy from ADP came in today and we set up payroll, taxes, worker’s comp, benefits, and so on. I incorporated TWiT as an LLC some time ago – now the chickens have come home to roost. I’m really am the Chief TWiT now (although I still can’t bring myself to put that on official papers).

I’ve promoted Dane to President and Biz Dev guy. He’s been my invaluable right arm for more than a year now, and without him TWiT would never have grown past a handful of poorly edited shows. He’s still doing all the editing and posting but I’m looking to hire an in-house part-time editor to free Dane up to do more high-level planning. Which frees me up to do 20 hours of streaming video a week.

We even have a water cooler around which we can gather and gossip.

Mr. Water Cooler

As far as the studio goes, we’re almost done. We’ve got the lights in, thanks to Pat Grosswendt and litepanels.com. They have already made a huge difference.

We are installing our new Tricaster Studio on Friday so I’ll finally have more than one camera online. The Tricaster will let me switch between up to six cameras (we have four Canon XL-2s and will probably buy another) and several computer screens (so you can finally see our Skype callers, hosts, and guests). When the Tricaster comes online the fun really begins. It’ll be just like the Gerry Todd show…

I’m pleased to announce that our streaming host for all this will be Stickam.com. They’ve really stepped up to help us make this work. Today they put us on a dedicated server cluster which should help us scale to more viewers without slowdowns. We’ll be using the Flash Media Encoder on our end (once we get the new Tricaster 2.0 software) to improve quality, and we hope to start sending the show in widescreen 16:9 soon.

We’ll be using the integrated Stickam chat to get viewers on the air so sign up for a free Stickam account now and request friendship with Leo Laporte so we can put you on. Stickam is helping us design a better page at TWiTLive.tv, too.

I turn on the cameras every day except Monday and Friday from 11a-4p Pacific (2-7p Eastern, 6-11p UTC). You can subscribe to our production calendar using RSS, ICS, or HTML:

If you subscribe using Google calendar, Outlook, or iCal the calendar should get updated automatically (shows are often being moved or added). Turn on time zone support in your calendaring program to convert the times to your local time. I also post changes and updates to the TWiT Live account on Twitter, and Stickam can send you SMS, Email, or IM notifications when we turn on the cameras.

As for content, it might not be as jazzy as the Gerry Todd Show, but I do hope to keep the pipeline filled with interesting information. To start with you’ll be able to see all the TWiT show being produced. They’re all audio shows (and don’t worry, they’re going to stay that way) but we’ll add video elements to most of them. At the very least you’ll be able to see Dvorak’s, Steve’s, Amber’s, Megan’s, Cammy’s, Paul’s, Dick’s, Andy’s, Alex’s, Scott’s, and Merlin’s shining faces via Skype video.

Whenever possible we’ll get our contributers into the studio for the shows, too. I think we’ll be able to do live in-studio versions of TWiT and MacBreak Weekly at least once a month.

People tell me that some of the most interesting stuff happens in-between shows. I hope you caught Scott Bourne’s fascinating impromptu tour of his bird photos after MacBreak Weekly last week. That’s the kind of thing we’re going to do a lot more of. When something extra interesting happens I’ll capture it and put it out as downloadable high-quality video. We’ll be creating a new netcast of these Best of TWiT Live pieces later this month. It will be available on iTunes, Apple TV, Miro, and Stickam.

Meanwhile, I better go pay some bills, as Gerry Todd says. Thanks for your support, and a special thanks to the numerous TWiT donors who are making this possible. We couldn’t do it without you!

69 Replies to “TWiT Live Update”

  1. Great job….and congrats Leo! Love all things TWiT and looking forward to watching TWiT Live.And, don't fear puting “Chief TWiT” on official docs. I put Chief Geek on most of mine. Except for recently where I was setting up a new account with a distributor. I originally listed my title as Chief Geek on the application but got a reply from the account rep stating “I appreciate the humor. However, only 'official' titles will be accepted”. Oh well……can't win them all 😉

  2. Good luck Leo in the venture… …I'll be listening…I heard the TWiT panel ridicule the 25 hour per week plan, but if radio talk hosts can do 3-4 hours per day (and some are quite able to fill with *quality* programming), I'm sure you can too.My suggestion:Each day of the week a different theme (kind of expand your Tech Guy segments into entire day show).* 1 day for issues in the intersection of tech and law – guests from EFF, or music industry, or lawsuits, censorship, etc.…* 1 day for home media/theatre setups* 1 day for shopping for a new computer* 1 day for those that like to tinker and build…and so on…

  3. “every day except Monday and Friday from 11a-4p Pacific (2-5p Eastern, 6-11p UTC)”Us folks in the eastern time zone get 2 hours less leo ;-(

  4. There's already a TWiT Video feed in iTunes. Maybe that could be re-pointed to the new Best of TWiTLive feed? It could instantly add a number of people who have had it from the days when TWiT video was first mooted (remember the live videos of TWiT?).

  5. Does anyone know if Yahoo Calendar can accept RSS feeds or similar, so I can add the auto feeds above to it? I don't like using google as I use them for searches and don't want to be logged in and therefore having google tracking my every move. I believe in having my searches/history and personal details non-linked, hence my continued use of yahoo.

  6. Hey Leo! I've been watching when I can. Unfortunately I cannot get any video streams at the office 🙁 when you are on the air. I'm sure i'm not alone in this. Any chance of capturing the day's events then just looping the video on twitlive until the next day's broadcast? Would help greatly for those of us that can't tune in until the evening/weekend but would like to keep up with the banter! 🙂

  7. Leo, could you also put out the video podcast version? I'd love to see this stuff, but don;t alwasy have the time to sit and watch.

  8. Hey Leo Can not wait to see your next twittv/live. The feed I watched was pausing from time to time,but it was still neat to see. Keep up the great work.(watching from British Columbia. Canada)

  9. @ high definition – should be 2-7 p.m. eastern@ azspot – That would be nice but I really kinda think Leo will be doing what he can with who can be available and as technology so rapidly changes he well may come up with something “off schedule” so I personally will be satisfied with whatever he decides to broadcast.**************************I've been a proud donator to TWIT since the inception and I really didn't know which direction or how far it would go. I was happy to see that so many people are creating podcasts today for a myriad of reasons and Leo was the person who made it fashionable – :-)This concept of creating an internet TV program with limited funding is the future in the now! I really don't know where this might go from here but if Leo is involved I'm sure it will be another successful and innovative pursuit in the interest of tech. As far as what Leo is doing now is probably one of his lifelong dreams – He's always wanted to broadcast to the masses without any outside influence curtailing his opinions. I'm glad to see his successes here with the advent of the TWIT TV internet programing.I do sense some satisfaction in knowing that my long time yet meager contributions are part of why this concept has come to fruition. Only from me personally – I'd like to see many more meager contributors – A lot of little ones would certainly help the programming cause!Thanks Leo for continuing to strive for the best for your listeners – including me!!!

  10. Right you are, Mick. 2-7p Eastern. I thank you so much for your donations. I don't know if people really understand that it's the listener donations that pretty much pay for TWiT. The advertising money is divvyed up to the show hosts (including me) but the donations pay for all the day to day expenses including capital costs.I've been saving up donations for six months to pay for the studio equipment. Without that money we'd still be upstairs doing the audio podcasts only. Thank you!!

  11. It probably won't be as organized as that, but that's exactly the kind of Call for Help material I hope to inject, along with interviews, and other fun stuff.

  12. Leo, this is very exciting news! I am glad that everything is coming together. Can't wait for TWiT Live to go live!Cheers,Michael J. Titera

  13. Leo -Best news in all this may be that you're setting up payroll – FICA and all the attendant blather – for your employees. It's great to see somebody doing this right for a change, especially in a space where a lot of folks are working as 1099 contractors. Kudos to you for taking care of those who take care of you. As for the rest, I find it easy to keep TWiT on a second computer while I'm working alone in my studio. Like you've said, it's a nice comfort for those of us who work alone and like to have a line to the outside world. Do what you love; the money will follow. It seems most of the Tech TV bunch have taken this to heart , and it works.

  14. “We even have a water cooler around which we can gather and gossip.”Isn't that what Twitter is for? Seriously, great to hear that things are coming along so well.

  15. Hi Leo: I'm a journalist and have been trying to get in touch with you to ask about the spam messages that some Stickam users, including fans of your show, have been receiving. Does this make you concerned about going with Stickam? I'd appreciate it if you would respond here or via e-mail. Thanks.

  16. Great stuff Leo. Love the new format and very excited to see it develop over the coming months and years. Keep up the good work.

  17. I understand Steve Gibson's reluctance to move to adding a video dimention. Most of his information is purely aural. But there are times when a simple picture is worth many, many words and you now have the capability to help him expand our comprehension. Congrats on the new studio and boldly going where ever it is you are going!

  18. Hi Leo,I hope you start recording some of the content and archive it so we can catch up if we missed the show.Looking forward to the new stuff, love what you're up to!

  19. Hi,I've been playing a great deal with new IP TV services and would recommend you consider SOPCAST and TVAnts (thought the latter is mainly in Chinese). These are PTP TV programs that allow you to stream video with minimal bandwidth costs on your own.These programs have been wholeheartedly embraced by the International Soccer community which uses them to watch (quasi-legal) streams of football matches from around the world. But the underlying technology is quite exciting and could really get you 'online' without the streaming costs. Personally, I think you should get a Justin.tv channel, a Ustream.tv channel, your own streams, along with the P2P streams. Start to be the king of Internet TV by dominating all distribution ports.

  20. Any word yet on when the streaming will be tunneled over 80 and 443? I have to imagine whatever audience you currently are getting will take another big jump once the office dwellers can access the stream during the day.

  21. May 15, 11:05AM PST I can't connect to Twit Live stream on Stickam; besides when I connect to this stream, it is maximum 1fps here in Poland. Leo, are you sure that Stickam is a good solution?

  22. May 15, 11:05AM PST I can't connect to Twit Live stream on Stickam; besides when I connect to this stream, it is maximum 1fps here in Poland. Leo, are you sure that Stickam is a good solution?

  23. Interesting theories on violent video games, Leo, thought you might find this pertinent:http://scienceblogs.com/voltagegate/2008/05/vid…I have the same general misgivings about lots of exposure to violence (movies and games) but it seems that studies fail to make a causal link. As a non-gamer, I don't want to throw the good out with the bad…Darn kids! GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Leo, et al.,For TWiT Live to be successful the programs must be archived. Probably a small minority of interested folks will be able to watch the concurrent, live webcasts, since most people who would like to watch work for a living and are not going to watch them from work. Perhaps I missed it, but it would be interesting to know what it's costing to set up the studio and what your budget for employees is. This may be private if TWiT is not a public corporation. I presume the business plan is to get advertising to pay for the project. The more viewers the more that can be charged per advert. That's why it's important to archive the programs.

  25. Nice to see blog posts, twitter is getting sick.Ouch, just had to REGISTER to log a comment, that seems weird. I thought the whole reason to comment on blogs so other readers might click on my comment, and comment on my blog. Leo, you are not really being “COMMUNITY” with this comment log in thing.I still love your shows, but this stinks.could some one click to my my photo blog now LOLJust found how to edit, nevermind, I love you again.

  26. You don't have to register to comment. But… If you're not a registered Disqus user your comment will have to be approved by me before it shows up, that's all. It's to prevent spam.Unfortunately if we didn't have anti-spam meaures we'd have more spam comments than regular comments. I've blocked over 80,000 spam comments since I moved the blog to WordPress less than a year ago!Registering with Disqus is cool because you get an avatar, comment threading (notice that this is a reply to a comment and not just stuck at the end of the comments) and many other blogs are using it now. People can subscribe to your comments cross blog so it's a way to create a web presence by commenting alone. Disqus also adds karma (that's what that double-ended arrow is next to the poster's avatar) so people can vote comments up or down (kind of like Digg). I think it's a really great commenting system. I was nervous about letting comments live outside my blog, but I think the idea of commenting communities that are bigger than an individual blog is very powerful.

  27. Thanks, Daniel! Now that I have something worth visiting I hope you'll come up and be on TWiT Live some time. You can demo Qik if you want.

  28. I estimate I've spend around $30,000 on setting up the studio. Lights were $10,000, Tricaster was $10,000. I already owned the cameras, but they'd be another $10K. We bought furniture, rugs, curtains. You could definitely do it cheaper, most spend much more for a live TV studio. I'll let you know when I get the workers' comp bill, but I think my monthly employee costs will be around $12,000 including SSI, SUI, and all those other acronyms. In other words I'm just like every other small business trying to make ends meet!Our revenue comes from two places. Donations help cover the monthly costs (not entirely any more but they help), but advertising makes up the rest. We're getting good ad rates on the audio podcasts and we're close to sold out there, so that's good. TWiT Live audiences are so small right now they don't offer us much financially, but I think it will drive new listeners to the podcasts and I hope in a year or so that enough people will watch live that we'll make some money on the live stuff. And, as I mentioned in the blog post, we will offer the best from TWiT Live as a download, so that may make us some money.

  29. I have to echo the comments above. I donate a small amount to TWiT every month and am so happy to see Leo's efforts growing in new, more ambitious directions.

  30. Thanks, Leo.These costs seem very low and a pretty good deal. I'm sure there are some other costs such as rent and utilities for your space and perhaps the cost of your T1 and cable high speed internet broadband. Some of your bandwidth costs I guess are being donated by the providers, which if you had to pay for in cash would lower your “profit”. I hope you can keep your great employees by compensating (salary and benefits) them well so they won't move on. Your staff will probably be willing to stay on at less than market compensation for a while, but if they need more income, they will move on. We have a great 24 hour classical public (not NPR) radio station here that pays its on air folks very little with no health insurance or other benefits. The younger folks always seem to move on as they marry and start to have children. One guy drove a bread truck in the AM and came on air in the late afternoon. He needed more income and got a better job. They've been moving to retired military officers who have a pension and military retiree health insurance, so the low total compensation at the station isn't as much of a problem for them.I'm looking forward to archived shows.Keep up the good work.

  31. Hey Leo! I have to agree with you! I was very nervous to install Disqus on my blog today, but I just did. I am very interested to see how the community aspect will help the blog!

  32. Leo, looking forward to the videocast version of TWIT. Perhaps a slide show version might be useful as a fill-in if the videocast is going to take a while. Doesn't Windows have client (slide show) that might work? nunyac

  33. Looks great Leo, looking forward to the show! I've been loving the whole TWIT thing, makes for great “listen while you work” stuff. Been a fan since the early TechTV days, keep up the great work and don't burn out. 😉

  34. I know you get access to the forum when you donate which I enjoy but I was wondering if you have any plans to have people that donate, have access to exclusive features on TWIT Live. Like a 24 hour live stream of the studio or something like that.

  35. Ok, I know this doesn't go with anything, but I had to get it out there! So here it is, the union of blockbuster and Circuit City… <img src=”http://byfiles.storage.msn.com/y1pZMcsbYSNt4KZSumy0IEM0kdnXXzJP2FqHB9gBOSI1awGzQjUpJN60fyD_oN-qmZWk7h7hCsWM7A?PARTNER=WRITER” width=”175″ height=”175″ border=”0″ align=”left”>

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