21 July 2007

Digital dilemmas and annoyances

A few days ago, this wordsmith decided it was time to get properly into the digital age. You may find this hard to believe but I last bought a recording device in 1989 - a walkman-style gadget running on a couple of AA batteries and a standard cassette. I've not used it much over the last 15 years as the sort of journalism I've been doing on and off in that period has not involved interviewing anyone.

However, on Wednesday I was offered a job which involves not only interviewing someone but doing it over the phone. My initial reaction was a very loud "eek!". Clearly, the walkman-stylee gadget was not going to be adequate and so I sought advice from hack colleagues. I was advised to buy this, so I checked the Maplin website which told me my local branch had it in stock. I rang yesterday to check that they did indeed have one, only to be told they had never stocked it. Panic set in, until the helpful bloke on the other end of the line told me of another local shop that definitely did sell it.

I shelled out £70 yesterday for that little beauty, but today discovered that Maplin sold me the wrong telephone adaptor for it (Maplin being the only place I was going to find an adaptor, even though they didn't stock my gadget). Gah! I had told the bloke in the shop what I wanted and also told him I was a technophobe with no clue about linking a digital voice recorder to a phone but he still sold me the wrong cable. Luckily, my beloved P did some research and nipped back to Maplin to get me the right cable. Now all I have to do is test-drive it before the big interview on Monday.

Thank goodness I had the sense to shop well in advance for everything and leave some leeway in case things went wrong (as they inevitably do). And thank goodness for my beloved P knowing his ohms from his elbow.

Despite the hassles, that Olympus WS-200S really is a thing of beauty - it's as small as an iPod, works as a USB drive so I can drag files onto my PC once I have recorded them and as long as the battery works, I can record stuff wherever I am. Technology is changing journalism but these kinds of advances have made me regain my enthusiasm for interviewing again, which means I can expand my repertoire and portfolio.

No comments: