by Craig Robertson
This website is subject to ongoing development. I hope to resolve issues concerning the file format and presentation of the podcasts (see below). Don't let anyone tell you podcasting is as easy as pushing a button!
As of July 2008 I have implemented an RSS feed. Listeners can subscribe in iTunes, or if they don't have iTunes it may be possible to subscribe using a web browser; for example, in Firefox, in the feed page, click the "Subscribe" button and select the "Live Bookmark" option.
I have organized the site so that each podcast is presented on a separate page. I found this was necessary as the home (index) page was far too slow to load with multiple podcasts embedded. The slider graphics are under investigation; I need one that is better behaved. Individual podcast pages are still inclined to be slow to load. I can only offer a few tips for listening to the podcasts, based on some limited user testing:
This may be the preferred option, but it means you are tied to sitting by your computer for as long as you can stay interested in the podcast. Click on one of the links to the podcast in the RSS feed page. Alternatively, go to an individual podcast page. If you have Quicktime installed you will see and be able to use an audio slider button. Quicktime is a free download from the Apple website if you don't have it. Click on the link to Apple and find the version of Quicktime that is appropriate to your operating system, e.g. Windows XP or Vista, Mac OSX Panther, Tiger or Leopard. Follow any prompts needed to install Quicktime; e.g. in Windows you may need to click "Run" in a pop-up screen.
If Quicktime is installed, click on the play arrow; this will stream the podcast on your computer without downloading the file. Click the same button to pause it if you need a break. Web browsers will stream the podcast in a browser window provided they are configured with a plug-in that will play m4a files; e.g. in Internet Explorer look in Preferences/File Helpers and set Quicktime for m4a.
Other software can be used to play m4a files; for example, on PCs MS Windows Media Player and PC versions of iTunes and QuickTime.
If you do want to download a podcast for listening to later either on your computer or another device such as an iPod, there are various ways to do it:
Macintosh: Using the Safari web-browser: Option-click on a link to the podcast file. Ctrl-click and Command-click will also enable downloads, but you will need to go to the Safari Window pull-down menu and select Downloads to check progress.
PC: Ctrl-click a podcast link, save to disk
Dialup connection: If you are on dial-up do not despair, you can listen to these podcasts. It is probably ill-advised to try downloading the files, depending on how slow your connection is. The Quicktime slider does work. For PC users it seems to stream better if you use Mozilla Firefox, but has also been observed to work with IE6 and IE7. Quicktime itself is a bigger file than any of the podcasts; you will probably need to install it from a disk rather than downloading it from Apple.
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. This is more friendly for download and upload given our broadband service. 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 Joe and Lynette's podcasts On a Clear Day - and Barb Moriarty in the AUSOM Mac users group for help with podcasting. Also to Bruce Skewes at West Of Moorabbin and Cheryl Grant for help with web development issues.
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