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Posted By Peter Bentley
Yesterday I went to the BBC radio studio and read my "Letter to Darwin" for my 15-minute programme (to be broadcast on Radio 4 on January 6 at about 3:30pm). I've done radio before, but always when being interviewed or chatting. It's fascinating to see how that differs from reading something out. Rather like the reading of an audio book (only more so) the reader has to inject enthusiasm and "life" into their voices constantly. We're so used to hearing it done by newsreaders, that we perhaps only notice when overdone on some adverts. If we wrote in the same way using formatting for each new tone I think it would become quite irritating.

I think I managed it without difficulty, but there's a part of me that cringes to hear my voice sounding slightly patronising with different tones. So I now have slightly more patience for the TV advert voiceover people who often sound like idiots - it's not really their fault - they've been trained to speak like that.

However I'm not really that patient. I still think the guys who do voiceovers for popular Saturday evening shows and some adverts go ten steps too far... I swear the guy who does The X-Factor has invented his own unique form of speech - somehow a cross between Circus Ringmaster, TV Evangelist and the Wizard of Oz amplified wizard voice. Why is it that speaking to excitable audiences requires a silly voice? Or is that the only way to make them excited? Perhaps academic conferences are missing this trick: "Welcome to the GENETIC and evolutionary computation cooooonference!"


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
W. F. Howes are making the unabridged audio book version of The Undercover Scientist. One week ago I went into the studio and saw what it was like to record the audio for an audio book. I discovered quite how important that word "unabridged" is... They tell me the book will be about 12 to 15 hours long - that's rather more time than I want to spend in front of a microphone, trying to sound interesting and exciting. So we've come to a compromise - they'll use an actor called Roger May to read it, and I'll record an interview to be used at the end, and for publicity.


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
It's often quite funny reading online reviews of books and programs. It seems many people who write book reviews don't bother reading the books, and many people who review software don't bother reading the instructions. For example, there have been several people who seem to find the challenge of listening to their heartbeat using my "istethoscope" program just a little too much... one person even seemed to think that it was impossible and could never work. (I think if I was going to make up a fictional functionality I would be a bit more imaginative...) So just to show how easy it is, I made a little video recently:


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
As you may have noticed my www.peterjbentley.com website dropped offline for 24 hours on 9th Nov, with a "Doteasy" placeholder instead... Apologies to the 5000 people trying to access the site on that day, especially those trying to access istethoscope instructions or book details. This was extremely annoying to me, but it was caused by having to upgrade to an unlimited bandwith service for the webpages in order to cope with the huge traffic to the site.

The issues have now been resolved and I'm up and running again. (Why they couldn't simply copy my files across to the new sever I do not know.) At least the blog pages were left unaffected.

 
Posted By Peter Bentley
My USA publisher, Rodale, has just sent me a pile of advance proofs of Why Sh*t Happens - their version of The Undercover Scientist. It's a smaller format so the book feels more chunky and pocket-sized. Their intention is to get a few more nice reviewers' comments for the cover of the final version and generate a bit of advance interest. They also plan a 20-city radio satellite tour and some print features, so I may be busy next year. And on the subject of interest, my iphone application has generated so much extra traffic on my websites that I'm in danger of exceeding the monthly maximum in the first week... I've had to reduce the size of all images (which has the advantage that everything downloads faster) but at this rate I may have to switch to UCL servers soon.