STEP TWO: Transfer Files to Your Computer
Unfortunately, you cannot simply plug your digital voice recorder into the internet and magically have a podcast. So at this point you need to start moving files around. But before you get overwhelmed by the complexity of different types of audio files, remember that this step is similar to copying a Word document from one directory (folder) on your hard drive to another, or plugging your digital camera into your computer and watching the picture files get copied over. If you’ve done those things, this process should seem familiar.
Your recordings are stored in the voice recorder’s memory in one of several possible audio file formats (this will depend on the manufacturer and the settings you have chosen before recording). You now need to copy these files to your computer’s hard drive, and likely convert them to a different file format so you can perform the subsequent steps. The first part (physically moving them over) should be made simple by the cable or dock that comes with your digital voice recorder. Most units will also come will a software CD that is either optional or required for transferring files (check the manual). If you need to install the software, do that first before connecting the recorder to your computer.
Plug and Play
In most cases you simply connect the cable that comes with your voice recorder to a USB slot on your computer. USB is the same type of connection that is used for your printer and/or digital camera. Before you go yanking your computer tower out from under your desk, check the front because many newer models have one or two extra USB slots placed somewhere on the front for easy access. Beware: many open slots on your computer may look similar. Make sure you’re plugging in the right place by matching the USB symbol on the plug to that of the slot on the computer (see above). The recommended Olympus DS-2 comes with a handy docking cradle so you can just plop it (firmly) into the cradle which you can leave connected to your computer all the time, if you have a spare USB slot.
Once you make the USB connection, the computer will “detect new hardware.” In Mac OS X, your device will be mounted in the Finder and you can then drag-and-drop to copy the files as you usually would. If you’re using Windows XP, you will almost certainly need to install the software (or “drivers”) that came with the recorder. If you have done that, it should launch automatically when you connect. If it does not, and you get Windows XP’s “Found New Hardware Wizard,” cancel out of the Wizard and launch the software application yourself.
At this point, because every software interface is a bit different, I will have to talk specifically about Olympus’ DSS Player software that comes bundled with my recommended DS-2 recorder. Before you start working with DSS Player do the following: In the Preferences box (called “Options” in Windows XP), in the Download tab, check the box for “Convert to AIFF during download” (“Convert to WAV during download” in Windows). Now you can get those files off your device.
If you have been good about erasing sound files from the recorder after you have transferred them to your computer (which you should do!), you can easily download the newly recorded files by selcting “Download All” from the Download menu. But you may need to navigate to the file you want: in the left column of the window, click on the “Device Manager”, then click on the little triangle to the left of the “DS-2” (or the + sign in Windows) , then click on whichever folder you recorded in (it uses Folder A by default), and then in the main window click the particular file you want. Finally, select “Download Selected Files” from the Download menu (see below).
Sadly, it is hard to tell which audio file is which because they are named things like “DS_20035.dss”. This is a good reason to be on top of erasing old files or test files you have recorded (see the manual for how to erase files). The DSS Player software will let you play the file before you download it–by clicking on the right-facing triangle that looks like a VCR play button–which should help you identify properly the file you want.
Once you’ve downloaded your file, there’s one more thing to do in order to make your life easier in step 3: give the file a better name that will help you identify it later. First, under the “View” menu, go to “Current View” and select “All Files” from the drop-down menu. Then, in the TOP part of the left column in DSS Player, select Dictation Folder, Download Tray, then Folder A. You will see 2 copies of each file, each with a different “extension” (the 3 letters after the dot in the file name). You want the one that has the extension “.aif” (Mac) or “.wav” (Windows), not the one that has the “.dss” extension. Click on the name (e.g., “DS_20041.aif”) which will highlight it so that you can change it. Type a name for the homily or the date or whatever will help you remember which one it is. You should keep the “.aif” or “.wav” extension on the end of the new name.
Wow! You’re now ready for STEP THREE on the next page.