Favourite podcasts: Basic Soul Radio Show

I subscribe to less and less podcasts (not enough time to listen), but there is one I always install on every newly installed iTunes. It’s called the Basic Soul Radio Show, it’s presented by Simon Harrison. Every week Simon selects two hours of old and new funk, soul and electronic music, which makes for a 200MB MP3 every time (upgrade that hard disk!). I have discovered lots of little pearls thanks to it. Some examples from the top of my head:

  • Feb 4, 2008: “What it’s all about” – The Sylvers (1973)
  • Dec 24, 2007: “I know all the bitches” – Mr Beatnick feat. Ahu (2007)
  • Feb 12, 2007: “Drive me Crazy” – Secret Stealth (2007)

Expect to encounter a lot of artists/groups that you’ve never heard of. Some of it you won’t like, some you will adore. Because I wanted a better tool to search the 5+ years of archive, I built a little search engine on

http://tools.forret.com/basicsoul/ (no longer works)

that allows me to search for artists, titles and labels. Per found occurrence it allows me to view the full playlist (reformatted from the original page) and if the podcast MP3 is still online, to listen to it (with a SMIL playlist, a M3U playlist or a Flash based MP3 player). I enjoy using it, to see when a track was first played, what other tracks that artist made etc …

Basic Soul Radio podcast Search
Check it out!

PS: Every podcast episode starts with: “Today is the shadow of tomorrow. Today is the present future of yesterday. Yesterday is the shadow of today. The darkness of the past is yesterday. And the light of the past is yesterday“, a piece of lyric from “Shadows of Tomorrow” – Madvillain & Quasimoto.

Nokia Nsights on Music

Nsights

I got invited by Nokia to talk a bit about podcasting and music discovery. The results of that interview, combined with opinions of Clo Willaerts, Alex Koprivnicanec, Steven Lemmens and Dieter Sermeus, can be found on the Nokia Nsights blog. Instead of just creating a sales brochure for their N95 phone, Nokia created a place where new technologies and trends are discussed, thus touching the bleeding edge of Internet, music, photo, video, and GPS usage. The perfect positioning for a state-of-the-art phone like the N95.

Today, the Nokia N95 starts a new and exciting future, building on the combination of all these revolutionary devices. Therefore, we’ve invited visionaries from across the technology world to share their insights into different parts of the future that got here early.

The videos

Podcasting: the rise of audio content

Discovering new music got easy

The videos for Internet and Music are already online, the others will follow soon!

Click to hear the MP3 (playlist)

More than a year ago, I wrote an piece on Playing mp3 with an embedded Flash player. Things change quickly in this area, so it’s time for an update.

These are all tools to play either individual MP3 files or playlists (e.g. podcast RSS feeds) in a web page. Most of them are based on Macromedia/Adobe Flash. Where possible, I’ll use my Smoothpod Mashups as an example feed.

Hosted Service (insert HTML code)

Pupuplayer Free
License: no details – I presume it’s free to use
Format: expects a podcast feed as input
pupuplayer
Pickle Player
License: no details – I presume it’s free to use
Format: expects a podcast feed as input – or can work with individual MP3 files
pickle player
FeedPlayer
License: no details – I presume it’s free to use
Format: expects a podcast feed as input
feedplayer
Webjay (now Yahoo!)
free
can work with feeds or MP3 files, can also generate a playlist from an HTML page
webjay
Webjay Wizard
This tool of mine can also be used to create the HTML code for Windows Mediaplayer, RealPlayer or Quicktime embedded players

Continue reading Click to hear the MP3 (playlist)

PDF podcasts: proof of concept

Videography magazine: via PDFBackground
I read a lot of info on digital cinema these last months. I find there is little syndicated content (blog feeds) to be found on the topic. Some sites have a page of press releases and/or an email newsletter, but that’s about it. That’s why I have created some custom RSS feeds with feed43. (e.g. Digital Cinematography feed for the CMP Digital Cinematography Magazine)
What I do see is that some sites publish really nice magazines in PDF (Portable Document Format – by Adobe) format (see Videography on the right). You only know about these if you go visit the site of course – very Web 1.0. So if there could be a feed that alerts me of new issues of these PDF files … And while we’re at it, why not put the PDF link as an enclosure in the RSS feed, podcast style? And just like an MP3 podcast is automatically transferred to a portable MP3 player, could a PDF podcast be automatically printed? The answer is: Yes. Let me show you how.
Continue reading PDF podcasts: proof of concept

The transmission has ended …


Ryan and Jen have just announced that they are putting an end to their popular Lost fan podcast, “The Transmission“. Started in May 2005, the show has grown into the most popular Lost audio podcast program, featuring discussion of each episode right after it aired, feedback from listeners and ‘The forward cabin‘: theories and spoilers for following episodes. A very well-produced (Ryan apparently has some radio background) show of 30 minutes each week, presented by two big fans with a good voice. I am subscribed to the podcast, and it almost feels like I know them.

I have no idea what the reason for the sudden decision is (they remain vague on the issue, so I’ll respect that), but I can imagine the show was taking over their lives to some extent. Me for one, I will miss them, I learned a lot about the Lost characters, the storylines and the Hawaii setting (Ryan and Jen are both very proud -and lucky- to be living in Hawai). It takes me more effort than the regular U.S. fan to get to see each episode when it airs (because I can’t buy them on iTunes) so I often heard the podcast before I saw the actual episode, but I still enjoyed both of them.

Ryan and Jen, thanks for your dedication and efforts. Whatever you’re up to in the future, I wish you all the luck.

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Apple creates RSS the Microsoft way

When Apple reinvented the photofeed, they actually were a bit sloppy. Instead of building upon standard RSS and the Media RSS extensions backed by Yahoo!, Feedburner et al., they decided to do what Microsoft has always been accused of: they made a different, non-compatible RSS format.

cf http://static2.podcatch.com/blogs/gems/snedit/rss.xml
It’s pretty bad. There are lots of errors, the date formats are wrong, there are elements that are not in RSS that aren’t in a namespace.
via scripting.wordpress.com (Dave Winer)

Apple photocast RSS
from static2.podcatch.com/blogs/gems/snedit/rss.xml

  • First of all, it looks like they made a ‘wallpaper-cast’ instead of photocast. The RSS extensions are called www.apple.com/ilife/wallpapers.
  • The RSS feeds are only accessible with a specific UserAgent, i.e. only with Apple Safari. Try to open it in any browser and you get an error message. (Update: actually, while I was writing this, the behaviour seems to have been changed to delivering the RSS with Content-Type: application/octet-stream. So this is more or less fixed – application/rss+xml would have been better)
  • The dates are not conform the RFC822 standard: “2006-01-11 16:43:22 -0800” should be “Wed, 11 Jan 2006 16:43:22 -0800”. Most RSS parsers will have no problem with this, but if there’s an official RSS specification, why not follow it.
  • They put the image URL in the link field, which does not allow extra attributes like type or size. Why not use enclosure?
  • For all the date related metadata (photoDate, cropdate), why not use Dublin Core dcterms?

Continue reading Apple creates RSS the Microsoft way

Lucas Gonze joins Yahoo! acquires Webjay

A couple years back, Lucas created Webjay, a site for easy creation and playback of playlists from the Web. Users can create playlists using music/audio/video from around the Web (with a simple Web form, from scraping a Web page, or with a fancy Ajax interface created by a 3rd party using Webjay APIs), share them with others, include them on their Web sites, browse other users playlists, play the playlists in any media player, or cannibalize the playlists to create new ones. With Dave Goldberg (head of Yahoo! Music) running around telling people that the playlist is the next frontier in digital media, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that we’re interested in what Lucas is doing with Webjay. Y! Music Engine has some interesting playlisting features, open APIs, and more goodies on the way. Lucas will help shape our strategies around playlisting in the future.
from ymusicblog.com
via google.blognewschannel.com

I discovered Webjay around about the same time I got into podcasting, and I got into contact with Lucas after I did a survey of web-based Flash players and explored the whole playlist formats issue. I ended up creating a Webjay button wizard because I wanted to link Webjay’s playlist conversion to Fabricio’s Musicplayer.

I like this news for a number of reasons:

  • I like Lucas. He takes and welcomes initiative, is smart and has a vision. Yahoo!’s brainpower just went one notch up.
  • A guy starts an initiative because he has a vision, not because he wants to make money. The site takes off, he builds a recognized brand without patents, seed capital or X rounds of financing, and eventually gets rewarded. A geek story with a Hollywood ending.

Apple reinvents photocasting in iLife ’06

“Eigen lof stinkt” as they say in Dutch, but who told you back in August of 2005 that RSS + images made sense (‘Photofeed: image podcasting’)?

A major new feature of iLife ‘06 is what Apple calls “Photocasting.” Described as podcasting for photos, photocasting makes it possible to share photos over the Internet using one mouse-click. The photos are updated to your .Mac account, where users can subscribe to them using Really Simple Syndication (RSS).
from macworld.com

and

Take Photocasting, for instance. A brand-new feature in iPhoto 6, it lets you share full-resolution photos with friends and family who subscribe via an email invitation you send using your .Mac Mail account. As you update photos in a Photocast album, they appear in your subscribers’ iPhoto libraries automatically — ready to print or add to iPhoto books, calendars, or greeting cards. And anyone can subscribe to your Photocasts: even if they don’t have iPhoto, they can still access your photos via any RSS-compatible web browser.
from www.apple.com/ilife/dotmac/

Photocasting, photofeed, tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to, whatever. It’s great to be right! Just send that MacBook Pro my way, Steve.
Continue reading Apple reinvents photocasting in iLife ’06

At last: car stereos with frontal mini-jacks

JVC car stereo with line-in
You need portable MP3 player for when you’re on the move. On the move includes: in the car. Why would you want to listen through tiny white earphones, if you have dozens of Watt of pure musical power already at your disposal in that car of yours? Or: how to connect your iPod to your car stereo.

FM Transmitter

First of all, they’re illegal in Belgium, so you can’t buy them anywhere here. Thanks to my numerous maffia friends however, I’ve been able to try 2 Griffins and a white-label gizmo, but my experiences have always been disappointing: impossible to tune right or get an acceptable sound.

Fake tape

There are these cassette look-alikes that you can put in your tape player. Only, who still has a tape player in his car? And what does the conversion electric-to-magnetic-to-electric do for your sound quality?

Custom interfaces

Alpine has a special solution for iPod (didn’t BMW have something like that too?), but we don’t like vendor lock-in.

Line/Aux in

  • One year ago I had already talked about Kenwood making car radios with line-in possibility. But Kenwood used the RCA jack on the back of the device, which might have been a good idea in a hifi-stereo world, but not so for portable audio players.I wanted a mini-jack, damn it, but no vendor had that.
  • But now: behold the mini-jack!
    Sony has the CDX-GT200 (about € 130) and its bigger brothers CDX-GT300 and CDX-GT400 (not in Europe).
    JVC has the KD-G612 (bout € 150) with “Front AUX Input”, as well as the KD-G510 or KD-ADV6160 (last one even plays DVDs)

I hope the rest of the vendors get the message and provide a frontal AUX in on their products. Car stereos, boomboxes, mini-chains, DVD players, DivX players, …
Rip, Mix, Plug it in!

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Christmas present: podcast feed validator!

I get a lot of “what is wrong with my podcast feed?” kind of questions because I have written a fairly popular tutorial on podcasting with Blogger and Feedburner, and a lot of people start doing podcasts that way. There’s a couple of things that can go wrong:

  • Not a valid RSS feed
  • RSS feed without enclosures
  • Feed not updated when posting new article

To check some of those things, I needed to read and interpret the RSS feed by hand. That’s why I decided to make a podcast feed validator to do the checks automatically. Let’s take Adam Curry‘s DailySourcecode podcast as an example:

  • the URL of the feed is radio.weblogs.com/ 0001014/ categories/ dailySourceCode/ rss.xml, so I input it into the input field and the results are:
  • #1: feed URL exists and can be reached
  • #2: feed is a valid RSS feed (but does not conatin the iTunes extensions),
  • #3: feed items have audio enclosure (but not all, as you see in the image below. The reason is that two enclosures are wrongly specified as text/html instead of audio/mpeg.)
  • #4: the audio enclosure (MP3 file) exists and can be reached

podcast feed validator
So the enhancements for this feed would be: make sure all enclosures have the right type, and provide iTunes meta data. Better still: use Feedburner to get that and more: subscriber statistics and lots of feed tools.

Try it out for yourself:
Check your podcast RSS feed!

Some more features of the podcast feed check:

  • estimation of mean-time-between-posts (MTBP), a metric I talked about in RFM for RSS feeds
  • estimation of required bandwidth/storage per month (DailySourcecode: 600MB/month, 175-25.be podcast: 10MB/month)
  • works with MP3 audio enclosures and AAC (MPEG-4) audio/video enclosures (any audio/mp* enclosure)
  • detailed (technical) information is hidden by default and can be shown through some AJAX functionality.

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