Podcasting MP3’s, Flash and Central

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Our friend Phillip Torrone put up a great article about “Podcasting” at Engadget today and it was picked up by Slashdot. After reading the article, I realized that I have had everything in place for quite a while now to also provide Podcasts of all my blog entries. So I went ahead and added the proper enclosure tags into my RSS feed and as of this evening I am now Podcasting my entries automatically. If everything is working properly, now not only can you listen to my blog via the web interface and the Flash based play system I have had in place for some time, but now you should be able to pick them up via the RSS feed and the many “Podcasting” tools that retrieve the enclosures and sync them up with your iPod. Ok, so my feeds are a bit different in that I don’t record them manually with my own voice, they are automatically generated by some custom bits of software that I put together to do the task for me. The mp3’s are synthetically generated directly from the text of each individual entry, they arent even generated until someone requests one – then it is cached and stored. The audio is thus synthetic sounding – it is very similar to what you would hear from Takeaway – the system that Mike Chambers and Christian Cantrell put together to listen to the blended MXNA feeds. So give it a listen by syncing up one of my feed entries via one of the tools that Phillip mentioned in his article like iPodderX for Mac OS X or iPodder.NET for PC. One caveat – don’t laugh – but I don’t own an iPod myself to be able to test my own feed out – yes, I’ve been holding out for a while – been meaning to grab one, but I keep waiting till they have WiFi built-in so I can stream my music collection from anywhere to an Airport Express, now that would be nice… Anyway, the caveat is that my enclosure tags point to URL’s that perform a redirect to the actual MP3 location (just the way my system works) – so I am hoping that the tools that are being built and put out, properly support following the redirect URL like a standard browser, and can pull in the MP3 from the real and final URL location. If any of you try it out – drop me a note and let me know if it works for you.

Oh yeah, how does this relate to Flash – other than that my original system was designed for playing back the MP3’s in Flash? Well I thought that a Central application would be a GREAT tool for also finding, downloading and managing these Podcasts. The blog reader application that come with Central 1.5 would be perfect for pulling down Podcasts. Central could use its newfound file IO capabilities to download, cache, manage and playback the various MP3 enclosures from your favorite sites. The alert and notifications could be used to let you know when a new enclosure has been found, and when its been downloaded completely. An agent could run in the background to look for new enclosures on your favorite blogs that support enclosures or Podcasts. These feature are just begging for someone to build into a new Central app, (or update the blog reader application to support this). I have been working on my first real Central application lately and some other goodies I hope to have ready prior to MAX, so I have no time to work on something like this right now, but thought I would throw out the idea for someone to maybe run with and build. One thing to keep in mind if someone decides to tackle this – your going to have to figure out a way to deal with the various MP3 bitrates and sampling frequencies, as some of them don’t work correctly when loaded into Flash at this point in time.


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