The Study

Technical Stuff

by Craig Robertson

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional Most pages on this website have been W3C validated. The exceptions are the individual interviewee/podcast pages because of the audio slider, which is invisible to some browsers.

It has been many years since I tried to keep track of browsers and their behaviour with respect to this website, in particular the podcasts. Over a decade the browser scene has changed - new ones in, old ones out, popularity among the leaders shifting. But then of course creating a web page has just become more and more complicated by more and more bells and whistles. Simple old time html4 coding is hard to sustain but I'm sticking with it. In September 2023 an email correspondent wrote to tell me he couldn't access the podcasts for unknown reasons. Using an iMac with Firefox and occasionally an outdated Safari I was unaware there were any issues; they were working as usual. I managed to investigate over the following weeks by testing the site with Windows Edge and Google Chrome on Windows machines, and Chrome again on my own Android phone. I found 303 Forbiddens on the podcasts. Perhaps even more alarming, I also found not a single image across the site would load. As at the end of December my web host appears to have fixed this and restored the podcasts and images to normal loading. Why it happened remains a mystery but it was not because of my html4. If anyone does experience trouble with stuff not loading, please email me .

Don't let anyone tell you podcasting is as easy as pushing a button!

There are two groups of podcasts, the interviews and the series In My Study. Each of the latter is included in a single interview program but also accessible as a separate podcast embedded in the same interview page. There is also a list of these short (a few minutes) podcasts showing which interview they are included with see: In my study notes: List of subjects. From July 2008 I implemented RSS feeds for both groups of podcasts. For reasons best known to others, RSS fell by the way and in any case I stopped creating new podcasts. This feature has been removed at the end of 2023.

I can only offer a few tips for listening to the podcasts, based on some limited user testing:

Direct listening or Streaming
Go to an individual podcast page. There is an audio player graphic shown in the interviewee biographical notes beneath the interviewee name link. If you can see it click on the play right arrow. You may need to install Quicktime to do this, or another media player that sees the audio slider. (Click on the link to Apple and find the version of Quicktime that is appropriate to your operating system - Windows, Mac OSX versions). This will stream the podcast on your computer without downloading the file. Click the same button to pause it if you need a break.

If you cannot see the audio graphic just click on the interviewee name link.

Web browsers will stream the podcast in a browser window provided they are configured with a plug-in that will play m4a files.

Other software can be used to play m4a files; for example, on PCs MS Windows Media Player and PC versions of iTunes and QuickTime.

Downloads
If you do want to download a podcast for listening to later either on your computer or another device, there are various ways to do it:

Macintosh: Using the Safari web-browser: Option-click on a link to the podcast file. Ctrl-click will also enable downloads. You can go to a Safari Downloads listing to check progress.

PC: Ctrl-click a podcast link, save to disk

Recording note: I confess I am not the greatest sound engineer; I am an amateur working with less than professional hardware and software. I am constantly looking for ways to improve. I can only apologise that some of the recording in my podcasts is less than perfect, especially the music, not the least caused by the constraints of the current podcasting technology obliging me to reduce everything to mono sound in order to produce podcast files of a reasonable size. All the Move albums used here are beautifully recorded and presented, are highly recommended by me, and I am very grateful to find music that I love that I can include on these programs.

Podcast file formats: In 2007 I changed these podcasts from mp3 files to m4a files as I am able to achieve a much better compression of the file size - about half the mp3 version. This is more friendly for download and upload given our broadband service. This remains an issue in 2013 where using 25 - 30 Mb mp3 files would still be asking a lot. I hope the sound quality remains at least adequate to the material. m4a also allows for addition of visual material but I'm leaving that out so far. This is a site devoted to listening, not watching; the ear not the eye. However m4a may present some people with problems to do with plugins. I am using mp3 format for the smaller "In My Study notes" podcasts, but I cannot get the same file compression.

Ackowledgements: My thanks go to Joe Debono - see On a Clear Day - and the late Barb Moriarty in the AUSOM Mac users group for help with podcasting. Also to Bruce Skewes and Cheryl Grant for help with web development issues.

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Text © Copyright Craig Robertson, 2007-2024