Ask a Nerd Dad #3

Dear Nerd Dad,

After career day at school, my son is disappointed that I didn’t’ become something more interesting than a mid-level security analyst. All he talks about is “Jack’s dad makes video games… Cindy’s mom fixed people’s brains… Why can’t you go to outer space like Jimmy’s uncle?” How can I compete with that?! What is a nerd supposed to do to impress his kids without risking his life on re-entry?

Embarrassingly boring,


Average Analyzing Analyst


Dear AAA,

Well, I write these articles and record a podcast for nerds so all jobs can’t be winners, can they?

Signed,

Nerd Dad Chris

How We Make Those Sweet, Sweet Recordings

Hey everybody!

Brad here. Since we get so many questions about how we make our awesome podcast episodes (just let me have this delusion, ok?), I thought I’d write a little bit about how we’re currently recording. It’s not a complex setup and it will most likely change in the future, but for now it’s what we do. Being a family nerd and soon-to-be family nerd with adult bills and such, we needed to keep both our setup and process flexible and expandable, yet also affordable.


PREP


Our pre-recording process is typically the same every week, and allows us to keep things a little more spontaneous. We create a shared outline that we work on throughout the week, filling out our regular segments with topics we came up with after the last recording. Some of the ideas come from our warped little minds, and others come from readers and listeners, like you. Yes, you. You’re here, you’re reading this, and you’re now one of us. Sorry. The ideas that aren’t used get put in a running list of topics that either we don’t get to, didn’t fit the programming yet, or are just too damn weird. Even we have filters on what not to talk about in public without gratuitous amounts of bourbon. But hey, they may still turn up on an episode one day - I do have lots of bourbon.

We typically just come up with the topics, and not a lot of detail. In order to keep it more conversational, spontaneous, and “rabbit-hole”-ish, we don’t tell each other very much. When we have a top-whatever list, we might let each other know our choices, but not the explanation as to why. Sometimes we don’t even go that far. Any “research” we do is usually kept to ourselves until the time of recording. It makes recording much more fun, and we can hopefully reach an end result resembling the long-lost “bar discussion”.


GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS... CASUAL NERD STYLE.


We run a two-mic setup, unless we have a guest with us. Chris prefers his Amazon mini-condenser mic, while I use one of two Blue Snowballs, depending on the room we’re recording in. The main one has a 3-way switch on the back to change the pick-up pattern, so it’s a little easier to cut out the room noise. When we have a guest we have another Snowball to pick up a couple people at once. Having access to large rooms is pretty convenient at times when we don’t want to work on cancelling out echo in post.

Our original plan was to both use the Amazon mics. However, due to Apple’s odd handling of USB devices, two devices with the same hardware identifier can’t be used at the same time. It works on Windows… it works on Linux… it just doesn’t work on macOS. Why not look at the addresses on the bus and differentiate the devices? Who knows. Perhaps one day we can get Matthew on the show to give a deep-level hardware/OS explanation. Or maybe he’ll keep saying he doesn’t want to speak to the masses and just hang out in the background. It’s his prerogative.

It’s finally time for recording. Chris heard on other podcasts he listened to about the majestic glory of Audio Hijack. We tried it, we loved it, so we use it. It does a great job of isolating each input, including application audio, and lets us EQ, control volume, or add effects to each piece independently of the others. All without having to drop our fairly minimal, hard earned money on a fancy-ass multitrack mixer… yet. Hey, a nerd can dream… I generally don’t do too much to the incoming audio though, as to reduce the processing and make sure we don’t get any lags or breaks in the sound. Any issues we do have (echo, room noise, Brad’s awkward congested mouth-breathing) just gets handled in post. It’s not perfect, but neither are we.


POST-PRODUCTION


So we have our voices in these giant files. Now what? Well, now we try to play nice with an app called Audacity. It’s bare-bones, but also not, which is why I like it so much. Where other editors try to do things for you, Audacity doesn’t do anything it’s not told to do. So, if something goes wrong, it’s my own fault. <cue Preds goalie chant> It’s just me, a lot of waveforms, and a cramped hand from keyboard shortcuts - just the way I like it.

Our editing comes down to some pretty basic stuff - cut, silence, fade in/out, envelope, and time shift. First, I import all the tracks, put them in order, and then place label tracks between our main vocals, the audio clips, and our “cutting floor.” The label tracks are use create separate sync-locked sections. That way if I cut out a section of my audio it cuts the same area out of Chris’ audio, but the label track keeps it from moving our audio tracks all over the place - like when we had that nice background fireplace during the Holiday Extravaganza. It keeps it all aligned and happy so it doesn’t have to be manually synced every time something is moved. I then normalize the audio to bring it all to the same level, which is probably as much of a “plug-in” that we use at the moment. After that, it’s just cutting what we don’t want (Chris has a lot of “uh” and I have a lot of “yeah”) and silencing out sections of room noise. Fading in and out around the cuts keeps it sounding seamless to you, I hope.

Our most recent episode in Forecast

Once I send Chris the edited final master file (the Golden Master, if you like), he loads it into Apple’s Logic Pro X and places the chapter markers into the file. I know, I know… “Why don’t you just use Logic in the first place?” Because we don’t - that’s why. For what our editing needs are, it’s a little much, and as I said earlier, I don’t want it making decisions for me. However, since Audacity doesn’t correctly handle converting the labels into chapter markers (yet, fingers crossed), we have to pull out the big guns. Chris listens in real time and marks out our sections (movies, music, etc.) or any top-notch exclamations of nerdiness. He then exports the file one last time and places it into Forecast, an app that finalizes everything for podcast publishing.


SHARING WITH THE WORLD


We use Squarespace to host our site and podcast, which you may know by now seeing as you’re reading this and all, and it is so easy to use. This is our third version of the site after fine-tuning, and it’s by far the most manageable. We upload the final mp3 podcast file to Squarespace and they are responsible for linking it to Apple and the other podcast services. If we’re not on your favorite service, let us know and we’ll see what we can do. We use Blubrry for podcast analytics so we can track listeners, average length listened, etc. and make sure we’re spreading to the masses. The data helps us figure out what we need to change to ensure we’re bring you content that is both interesting and entertaining.

Once it’s up, we tell the world through our Twitter account, which you can find at @bizcasualnerd, on this site businesscasualnerd.com, and through our personal accounts on whatever platform we feel like. Have any comments or questions about this process or anything else? Hit us up! Until later, see ya’.

Ask a Nerd Dad #2

Dear Nerd Dad,

In an age of inclusion and anti-bullying, how do I let my children enjoy the classic games of our childhood?  I don’t want them to grow up calling all reptiles evil and stomping on turtles because it was ok for Mario to do it.

Sincerely,

Muddled in the Mushroom Kingdom


Dear M.M.K.,

enemies

Let's have a little refresher in Super Mario Bros. lore. If you recall, there are many "animals" or creatures in the Mario worlds. In the original Super Mario Bros. there are Goombas (essentially walking mushrooms), Cheep-Cheeps (flying fish), Buzzy Beetles (hard shell beetles),and Bloobers (white squids). There are also Koopas, cute turtle-like creatures that hurt Mario if he touches them in any other way besides jumping on their shell. All of these creatures are forces of the evil Bowser used to prevent Mario from rescuing his beloved Princess Peach.

What's Mario to do? I'll tell you. He's out to kick the ass of anything in his way from keeping him from his girl and sometimes that's even cute little creatures. Yes, that means curb stomping some turtles, It's not all American History X though, because let's not forget that these turtles can be useful. Mario can stomp on the shell of a Koopa and send it careening across the screen to take out other creatures standing in his way. That's simply called being resourceful.

Let's also not forget in future games there are animals that are helpful to Mario. He can obtain a frog suit to swim and a raccoon suit to fly (Raccoons don't fly though, so....). Let this serve as the primary lesson to your children: just like in real life, not all creatures in the Mario world are bad; some are even incredibly helpful. If they aren't helpful, simply curb stomp them and make them useful.

Signed,

Nerd Dad Chris

Ask a Nerd Dad

Introducing Ask a Nerd Dad, a new column dedicated to asking your best nerd based fatherhood questions. I will do my best to answer each question as truthfully as possible. While I am no expert, I am a nerd father of 2 young boys. I have a ton of experience in being a nerd and a few years of fatherhood under my belt. I look forward to hearing from you. Now on to this week’s question:


Dear Chris, how do I teach my kids about the dark side, while being a responsible parent?

Signed,
Not Kylo Ren


Dear Matt (Radar Technician),

Chris’ desk Darth Vadar

Chris’ desk Darth Vadar

Darth Vader is without a doubt my favorite Star Wars character. I have a Funko Pop figure of Vader on my desk. One of the earliest things my oldest son could say was “Darf Bader.” 

I absolutely grew up in awe while seeing Vader on the screen. He is powerful and terrifying. Make no mistake, he is an absolute bad ass. He’s also a deeply flawed human being who seeks redemption and forgiveness at the end of his tale. There are incredible life lessons to learn from the journey of Anakin Skywalker. As Yoda famously said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This could and should be on a bumper sticker. Its life lesson 101 material. 

I say embrace your love of the Dark Side, but show your kids why it ultimately cannot win. Revel in Vader’s Rebel annihilation skills, the Empire’s beautiful stark industrial design, but counter with the fact that Vader lost a wife, children, and had zero friends. You can’t go through life with everyone scared you will force choke them to death. It just doesn’t work for anyone.

Signed,

Nerd Dad Chris

What We're Not

What’s going on everyone? Today I thought it would be good to go over what you might find on our site, at least for now. We all have our passions, and they can be pretty wide-ranging. I guess I should instead explain what you won’t find here.

We’re nerds. We know it, we love it, we own, and we’re not ashamed of it. It doesn’t mean everything will typical nerd stuff though. Being a nerd doesn’t adhere to loving video games, comic books, and shying away from the populous masses. We do love things that are popular. We also love things that are not popular. But we love what we love because we love it, not because it is or isn’t popular. We live in the new center of hipster culture, and we’ll be damned if we turn to their dark side. When we love NES, it’s because we grew up playing NES and basked in all its glory; not because we found a console at a thrift store for $200 and think it’s ironically quaint. If Chris spends the weekend in his Star Wars tee, or I’m rocking my Rocko’s Modern Life socks, there’s always a hope that something as simple as piece of clothing can start a conversation about something we love. Side note: my Nicktoons shirt ended up in an hour long conversation between a dozen people at a bar in NYC. It was pretty great.

We are Business Causal Nerd because as being grown-ups, at times unwillingly, we don’t have the time to follow in our nerd-ism 24/7, 365. Sometimes there isn’t enough time left in the day after work, kids, significant others, and that sweet, sweet love of sleeping. This means you won’t find deep-dives that bigger sites might have. This is not without a point though. We hope to help share what we think is pretty damn cool without having to go through the minucia. If you have a family, and job, and social life, are you going to have time to play Red Dead Redemption 2 to full completion? No, and honestly, we won’t either. But when we find that cool indie game that is a manageable play time of 10 hours and has a hell of story, we will be right here and/or on the podcast to let you know about it. While on the topic, go play Ashen. You’re welcome.

Hopefully my rambling has made some kind of sense. In short, you’ll find what we think is worth spending precious time on. It might be a new great book, an entertaining movie, a fun game, an awesome comic, or an interesting project that we worked on in our tech lives. What you won’t find are hot takes, hipster takes, paid opinions, political arguments, or generally any politically-correct statements (that doesn’t mean we don’t care - just that we have no filters).

Is there something that you DO want to see? Something you think we’d enjoy? Something you want our opinion on? Hit us up! Leave a comment, hit up our Twitter, or email us. You have a plethora of options. Now go forth, and be nerdy!

Chris' Favorite Items of 2018

Yeah, yeah, it’s that time of year again. A new year, a new you. Resolutions. Wish lists. I decided to look backwards instead of forwards. Here are some of my favorite things I acquired over the course of 2018. 

  • Apple iPhone XS: My wife and I both upgraded our iPhones in the fall to the brand new iPhone XS. It was quite the substantial upgrade from the iPhone 7 that I had been rocking for the last 2 years. Overall, I think this might be my favorite iPhone out of the 8 different models that I’ve owned. The camera is stunningly good in both focus depth and color representation. I love the design of XS, but I do hope future iPhones pull design direction from the most recent iPad Pro design. The glass back of the XS gives a nice weight and depth to the phone I think the last few models have been lacking (thinner isn’t always better Apple). You also can’t beat FaceID, wireless charging, and the larger screen size.

  • Anker Wireless Chargers: I’ve owned two different models of Anker’s wireless chargers. The first was the standard “hockey puck” round flat charger. You simply lay your phone onto the charger and it starts charging. Magic! The charger is great, but I like being able to see my screen when I get a notification, so I needed something different. At the end of 2018 I grabbed the vertical Anker wireless charger to sit on my desk. It sits at just the right angle so my phone doesn’t fall off and I can still see all of my notifications while it charges.

  • Apple Watch: I think this is my favorite item I bought in 2018. I’m proud of myself. I held off on buying an Apple Watch until the 4th generation. I’ve always wanted one, but I never felt like I needed one. With the addition of the health benefits (fall detection, ECG heart rate detection, etc.) the watch shifted to a need. I’ve been working really hard to lose weight and get healthy since I had brain surgery in 2016. The watch is a huge motivator in my journey. It drives me to be active each day, take standing breaks from my desk job, and allows me to more accurately track steps and calories. It’s such an intuitive device to use and really is a pleasure. I think the Series 4 Apple Watch is Apple firing on all cylinders. It’s the epitome of what makes Apple, Apple.

  • Watch Bands: Hi. I’m Chris, and I’m an Apple Watch Band addict. Seriously, I have a problem. One of my favorite features of the Apple Watch is that I can easily swap out the bands to fit any occasion. Working out and need a band that can breathe while you work up a sweat? Easy, Nike Sport band. Going to a wedding and need something that dresses up to match your suit? Got it. Need something casual for the office or a weekend of hanging out? Done. Let me be the first to say this: don’t waste your money on the super pricey Apple bands. I LOVE Apple products, but the markup on these bands is just insane. I’ve had great luck on knock off bands on Amazon. I did receive a defective band, but Amazon’s amazing customer service quickly sent me a replacement for free.

  • Watch Charger: I travel every weekend and I have 2 small children. This case is a life saver. It allows me to safely store and charge the watch in one easy to use case. Plus it looks like a Pokéball.

  • Nintendo New 3DS XL: As we have discussed at length in our podcast, I am woefully behind in the world of gaming. I grew up in the golden era of video games (Nintendo anyone?), but life and children of prevented me from investing time and money into modern gaming systems. I purchased the beautiful Super Nintendo style New 3DS XL this past fall and it has been a blast. I don’t have a huge game collection, but the ones I’ve played have given me the same sense of wonder I felt when playing Nintendo back in the day.

  • Smart Scale: This is another great item that motivates me to be healthier. It pairs with my iPhone and includes a ton of data. It’s also a nice looking scale!

  • WeMo Smart Plug: Start the HomeKit obsession! I Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to have a smart home. Luckily for me, we are living in the future. I’m staying with Brad in Nashville while my wife and kids rent in Indiana, so I don’t have a lot of stuff I can automate just yet. The WeMo Smart Plug is the perfect first step. We have a living room lamp in the Indiana house that my wife or I can remotely turn on or off through our phones while we are at home or away from the house. It’s so convenient to just flip the light on on our way home so we don’t walk into a pitch black house.

  • Amazon Basics Mic: This is what started the podcast revolution for Brad and I. If you are wondering if you can get great audio from an Amazon Basics USB microphone, the answer is yes. You can hear the quality of this microphone on every single one of our podcasts.

  • Travelambo Front Pocket Wallet: Having a huge wallet in the back pocket of your pants is such a pain in the ass. It literally hurts your butt and hips on a long drive. It’s uncomfortable. This wallet is functional, nicely designed, and the quality is great for the price.

  • Byrd Matte Pomade: What nerds can style their hair? It does happen, and if you are looking for a nice styled look that takes seconds to achieve, then look no further than Byrd Matte Pomade. I like it because it’s not shiny, it lasts all day, and it smells great.

  • New job: In October I started a new job with a “tech startup.” I was at my previous job for over four years (sharing an office with Brad). Change is hard, especially when you work somewhere for four years and love your coworkers. My new job has been really great though. I work in a great location in the heart of touristy Nashville and I have some kick ass coworkers.

  • Roommates: I haven’t had a roommate since college and that was many, many, moons ago. My wife and I sold our house this past fall and decided not to immediately pull the trigger on purchasing a new home in Nashville. We are waiting on some things to settle with my new position (we are currently in temporary office space) and we simply want to take our time in figuring out our next move. Enter Brad and Blaire. They were nice enough to offer me their spare bedroom at no charge (amazing, right?) while my wife and kids stay with family in Indiana. I think it’s been a blast living with them and hopefully they aren’t sick of me quite yet. You can find us on most nights watching tv, playing video games, or eating some delicious food (Blaire is a badass in the kitchen).

Like my list? Hate it? Have some items that you acquired in 2018 that you want to share with the world? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

Resolutions for the New Year

Brad
Hey there! In the vein of self improvement (or should that be vain, since it’s about me-me-me?) that I plan to soon fall short on, I’m hoping to be more active. I’m a lazy potato a lot of the time, so I need to be at least a less lazy yam. Hopefully that means more walking - yes, even if it’s cold - possibly going to to a gym, or at least skating around an empty parking lot with stick in hand.

Chris
I’m going to finally lose those last 10 pounds bringing me to a total of 50 pounds lost since 2017! In complete contrast to the previous statement, I am going to try to play more video games! I need to dive into Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Breath of the Wild. I would also love to get back into my photography side business.

MC
I’ve decided instead of badgering myself with commitments I know I’ll break, I’ll go into 2019 with vulnerability. 2019 is the year for me to be more daring and open about my life. I want to rid myself of debt and actually having savings like a responsible adult. Also, exploring more and not staying in my bubble.

Business Causal Nerd
BCN has its own set of resolutions. Between the podcast, the site, the social stuffs, and carving out our own niche in the world, there is a lot to do. You will hopefully start seeing content at least weekly from us, as well as the graduation of the podcast. Beta release here we come! Brad is hoping to change to the Beta season by the end of January. He thinks he finally has the recording process as close as he can get it for now.

Ice Breakers

Hello world. Brad here. I thought I’d let you know a little more about us, so you know where we’re coming from with our ideas/opinions/whining. Like I said, I’m Brad. I’ve done East Coast to West Coast, and back again. I currently reside with my wife and fur-toddler in a city that’s expanding much too fast for it’s own good. Seriously, much too fast. I love big cities, but it takes planning, infrastructure, and acceptance for a change in culture that no one else around here seems capable of handling. Yet, anyway. There I go rambling again. I’m a gamer, a nerd, a techie in several ways, and way too casual for situations I find myself in. I’ll always argue that Chuck Taylors are never too casual - just ask my groomsmen.

Have you ever been to a place that made your soul hurt? Where your escape from mundane boredom is provided by running from meth-addled, reaper-welding, backwood, yokels? Welcome to the corn fields of Indiana! Home of powerboat racing, doughnuts in a bank safe, and our one and only Chris! He finally escaped sometime in college, and has hung around here ever since. He has 2 wee little babes and one giant snowball of a fur-baby. However, he currently crashes at Brad’s while he and his family save up for a new house, because of life and the great Nashville migration. Seriously, it’s a problem. You need two incomes and a third mortgage to prop up a refrigerator box under an overpass here. He’s an Apple fan, a fan of apples, a fan of anything that takes him back to being a kid - including Star Wars and Lord of the Rings - and would give his left kidney to hang out with the Foo Fighters for a couple days. He also does some photography, and you should hit him up. He’s damn good at it.

Chris and I met at work over four years ago. We originally got along because we weren’t assholes. It’s such a simple thing to have in common, but it seems to be uncommon. Being stuck at the same desk with each other, we found we had many of the same interests. Most of those interests you will find here. It could be a write-up of the most personally influential alt-rock songs of 1994, a commentary pertaining to the slow, painful death of couch co-op and how we long for the “good ol’ days” of 15 years ago, or just a collection of fart-themed dad jokes that we laughed about on Reddit. We make a lot of movie and tv-show references, mostly stemming from the heyday of our undetermined generation. Too young to be GenX, but fuck you if the word “millennial” is uttered in our vicinity.

MC rolled in about 6 months ago after knowing Chris for seven-ish years while working at a “fruit company.” She’s an enigma and hard to figure out at times, but is enough of a nerd that she immediately fit right in. She shares the passion of video games and escaping to virtual worlds filled with pointy-eared non-elves that have an affinity for green attire and old-ass, laser-shooting swords. One day, we hope she’ll join the podcast to insert random cartoon voices so we don’t have to make/use a soundboard. Fingers crossed. I mean, a guy can dream, right? We can usually get her to crawl out from her Tiny House XL and join the social fold by offering some free grub and Rock Band on a theatre sound-system. It’s the little things.

Welcome to BCN!

We’re Brad and Chris and we are Business Casual Nerd. We started this site as a place to share our thoughts on a multitude of topics (video games, movies, tv shows, music, technology, etc.) and we hope you like it. We’ve also launched our podcast so check it out if you have time!

Please let us know if you have any suggestions, feedback, ideas, etc. You can message us on Twitter at @bizcasualnerd or via email at bizcasualnerd@gmail.com

Thanks for stopping by!

Brad & Chris