Archive for the 'Podcasting' Tag

iLife '06, Podcasting, Intel and Feeder

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

So what of Macworld and its impact on yours truly?

The Intel Macs look good. Their release comes much sooner than originally expected and it’s going to take me a little while to build my apps as universal binaries so they’ll run natively on Intel. I never got the Developer Transition Kit because by the time I was ready to order the web was thick with rumours of these real Macs coming and I don’t have money to throw around on computers I have to give back. (Update: Apple is running the DTK Exchange program now – damn!)

So it’s going to take me as long as it takes to get an Intel Mac, build my apps and test them all out. Feeder also uses third-party frameworks for functionality such as FTP, so they could cause some problems, but I don’t really expect any. The point is that I’m committed to doing this ASAP.

Then there is iLife ’06, which has lots of new stuff to do with podcasting. Garageband has tons of neat features to make putting a show together easy and to help with audio production. It can also create enhanced podcasts (i.e. in AAC format with chapters) and post them to .Mac with iWeb. iMovie does much the same with video podcasts. All this will be great for beginners, but as I see it, there are plenty of limitations.

I’m just going on what’s on the web but it seems that while Garageband can record and encode AACs, for MP3s you’ll still need to encode your recording with iTunes (or something like LAME) and add the tags, artwork, etc. Most podcasts are in MP3 format, because AACs only really play in iTunes and on iPods. Fine if you’re sure your listeners have these, but MP3 is truly ubiquitous.

Secondly, iWeb’s blog is lacking in interactivity. This is a major part of podcasting (and indeed, blogging), where listeners feed back through comments, etc. Not everyone uses Garageband either, preferring more professional apps such as SoundTrack Pro, Peak, etc, although maybe these features will change that.

So, I think iLife ’06 provides an excellent way to get started in podcasting, but for those who want a proper blog, already have their own web site and / or existing podcast then they will still need tools to help them with their podcasts and that’s where apps like Feeder and Podcast Maker come in. Same goes for RapidWeaver and Sandvox with respect to iWeb – RealMac Software and Karelia can go places Apple won’t go, because Apple relies on integrating its own products with .Mac to make things as simple as possible.

Now, which Intel Mac should I buy?

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

2005 has been the most amazing year for me. After writing the last post on this blog I remembered what I was doing on Christmas Eve the year before. I was utterly broke, I had been applying for jobs I didn’t want and thought my dream of making a living – no matter how modest – from creating my own Mac software was doomed.

However, for some weeks before I’d been sketching out my ideas for an RSS editing application called Feeder. I saw a gap in the Mac market for a good RSS editor so people could put news feeds and stuff on sites where they didn’t have a blog or content management system to do all that for them. Safari in Tiger was gaining its own RSS reader and I felt this was certain to make people want to host feeds of their own come Tiger’s release in the summer.

I was also vaguely aware of podcasting at this time thanks to early releases of iPodder (now Juice) and iPodderX. I designed Feeder for web designers and had no idea if podcasters would want to the app, but made sure it had some features for them anyway. Besides, podcasting was simple back then; you entered a title, a description and an enclosure with your audio file and that was it.

And so I found myself on December 24, 2004, with just enough money for another 6 or 7 weeks, starting the app that would be make or break for me. I worked on it day and night in quite a disciplined fashion. During the day I coded away on my iMac, working through an OmniOutliner document of features. At night I would do a deployment build, copy that onto my PowerBook – away from the source code – and focus on testing it all, making lists of bugs and necessary tweaks. The next day I’d deal with the bugs and tweaks and start again on the features.

I think this meant that I ended up getting two days’ worth of work out of every one and allowed me to switch personalities between developer and user. I hardly spoke to my friends during that time and barely left the house; I showed my friend Hans Kim some early builds to get his feedback and stuff and he was really excited about it. All my planning and design had paid off – by February 9th I released Feeder 1.0 and it was well received, both by people who wrote to me and in magazines such as MacUser UK, where it got a full 5 mice.

I was delighted. Initially, it only made me just enough money to survive, but that was exactly what I needed. As the year wore on, podcasting started to become more popular and ridiculously so once iTunes was released. Feeder started to get mentions everywhere, including some very popular podcasts such as TWiT, the MacCast, Inside Mac Radio and host of others, Macworld magazine in the US and the UK, PC Magazine (where it beat two of its Windows rivals), the Podcast Solutions book and many other places.

My inbox was swamped and sales grew to such a degree that in a few months I could pay off my credit card bill (I had resigned myself to being permanently around £1200/$2200 in debt), book flights and a ticket for Podcast Expo, continue to eat, buy some decent clothes and most importantly be sure I could continue doing what I love the most: creating Mac software. I also managed to move home in the meantime – twice!

I’ve barely caught my breath since that summer of madness but I’ve got some great ideas for 2006. I hope to kick off the year with Feeder 1.3, which packs in all those other features I’ve been longing to add since the summer and some more that were on my version 1.0 list but never made the cut. For the first time in over a year I’m working on a release that doesn’t need to be done in a screaming hurry to ensure my survival and so I hope it will be the best one yet.

I want to thank everyone who has stood by me in 2005 and helped make it one of the best years I can remember.

Happy New Year!

Updated iTunes Spec and, er, Another One

Monday, December 19th, 2005

By pure chance I just noticed that the latest iTunes RSS specification at the usual URL has now been updated to one with the date 2005-10-06, which doesn’t seem quite as recent as the one dated 2005-10-20 that we saw on the Apple Syndication Dev mailing list.

However, the one at the usual URL, is no longer the most recent or the one you see when you click the “Technical Specifications” link in the “Submit a Podcast” page in iTunes itself. That now links to this page, last updated 2005-12-07. No changes to the tags themselves, as far as I can see, just a better presented document with more information. There is also a FAQ here.

I was going to post this after posting to the Syndication Dev List, with the usual “this has been updated and nobody has mentioned it!” rantette, but list moderator Ernie beat me to it.

iTunes Podcast Reviews

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

I notice iTunes has extended customer reviews in the iTunes Music Store to podcasts in the last couple of weeks (although they didn’t seem to be working at first). This is something I mentioned was missing before.

iTunes Ratings Screenshot

Currently there is no way to see the the top-rated podcasts in one place, but it’s better than the “Today’s Top Podcasts” for getting an idea of what’s good and what’s not.

I know many podcasters think it would be better still to replace that chart with something that keeps track of subscriptions over time, and I agree. That is where stuff like Podcast Alley‘s voting system works better, requiring listeners to make their views known on a monthly basis in quick and easy fashion.

But anyway, it’s good to see this addition in iTunes.

Virgin Atlantic Podcasting, But…

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

Virgin Atlantic are to offer podcasts as part of the 21st anniversary celebrations of their inaugural flight to New York. They are also offering a branded podcatcher. The podcasts are guides to Virgin Altantic destinations, currently including New York, Cuba, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Las Vegas and Cape Town.

However, what they don’t seem to be doing, as far as I can make out, is offering podcasts on their flights. They already have this V.Port entertainment system, which lets you watch movies, TV shows, play games, listen to radio programmes and even whole music albums on demand, so podcasts would be an ideal extension to that.

Sure, their own podcasts help people plan for their trips, but offering these and other podcasts on their flights would raise awareness of their own podcasts, as well as podcasting in general, and would be cool. Podcasts are already time-shifted, so they’ll make more sense than traditional radio. It’s probably only a matter of time.

via Blogging from the Alley.