PodPress has Vanished!

WordPress is the platform of choice for most podcasters running their own sites. One of the reasons for this is that it offers the most support and available plugins make it a powerful solution. In my opinion the most essential plugin for the podcaster is PodPress. However it appears that PodPress has vanished and is now a parked page at GoDaddy.

I just could not believe that such a successful plugin could be abandoned so I did some digging and it appears that the developer Dan Kuykendall went to Disneyland 18 days ago and forgot something rather important. It would appear that on the 26th of April their domain name expired. Do’h…

That is the conclusion that I have come to, anyone else know any different?

If however, the developer has jumped ship and abandoned development then I will be very surprised. If for nothing else than the fact that no one else has taken over the project.

One good thing until everything is sorted out is that it appears the download links are still operational from the WordPress extend site.

I certainly hope that PodPress is here to stay, I know I value the project as one of the best podcasting tools out there. Seriously though, GoDaddy start sending out emails at least 6 months before your domains expire, just don’t ignore them. Or change your renewal details to automatic renewal. But then it seems that it doesn’t matter how many reminders some people get.

Thanks Dan for your hard work and I trust that you have just forgotten to renew your domain.

UPDATE: I am not sure what the go is, but during the course of writing this post MightySeek is back up and “un-parked”. I also noticed that the whois has changed and the domain that expired in 2008 is now 2009. So perhaps suspicions were in fact true and we had a domain glitch eh? Yey, is all I can say.

Twhirl Updates, Now Integrated with FeedFriend

I love the concept of lifestreaming. Initially I used Tumblr, but then specific web apps started to turn up and I checked them all out and kept coming back to FeedFriend. With the release today of the latest update to twhirl, the popular twitter client now owned by seesmic; my decision to use FeedFriend was consolidated.

It took a while to work out that the latest iteration of twhirl now incorporates FeedFriend. So now, once set up you get a window just like the twitter one but in it is the feed from FeedFriend. You can see everything that your friends are doing, blog posts, tweets and everything else that they have added to their FeedFriend account right in Twhirl!

Although I rave about the virtues of RSS this is different. FeedFriend summarizes all my friends social networking and blogging activities in one place. Not only do I see updates as they happen, but it is content that I would follow more closely if I could. Now I can. I am interested in what they have to say but as you know my RSS reader can look like a train wreck at times and I miss things. Now I don’t have to.

But it doesn’t just stop at being able to see what they are doing but I can also comment on them as well. The comments go to FeedFriend and not the place where they were posted though. This might mean on average fewer page views over time. But I do have to read the post and that you have to go to the post to do. Video however is displayed on FeedFriend. So I am more likely to comment in FeedFriend. Which is also part of the functionality of the new FeedFriend feature in Twhirl.

There is no doubt for me that this feature has changed my online life. I am going to be able to be more involved with the conversation and more inclined to do so. It has consolidated my online friends and people that I like and enjoy to watch. It makes the content more relevant. twhirl is becoming a killer app.

One thing that I thought was not that clear were the instruction on how to make the magic happen. So, quick summary here.

  1. Download twhirl, you will also need to install Adobe AIR Runtime. You’ll be prompted to do so if you have not got it already.
  2. Go to settings and Click the “Open Accounts”. Here you can add your twitter accounts (and yes multiple accounts for twitter are supported).
  3. Open Accounts from the settings screen

  4. Now the cool FriendFeed stuff, use the pulldown menu to select “FriendFeed” and enter your FriendFeed user name (it is the one that appears in your URL for FeedFriend).
  5. Click “Connect”, you will be prompted to enter your remote key. If you don’t know it there is a link to get it – or try this one. Get your remote key
  6. That is it, your done. You will now see a separate window with your FeedFriend friends feed in it

Hope that helps some people.

I have noticed that the FriendFeed servers are under a bit of strain, timing out and being unavailable and other interesting errors. Maybe the timeline for FriendFeed doesn’t update as it should, like mine is tending to do. But I am sure these problems will be fixed in time. I am excited about these changes and new features. Loving it, the seesmic and twhirl teams deserve a slap on the back, thanks guys. Keep up the great work.

There is a video from Loic on the new features but the instructions are not that great but listening to Loic is. Feel free to add me to FeedFriend, I think I am going to be using it more!

Making Skype More Profitable and Ultimately Better

SkypeThere have been a few articles floating around talking about the fact that eBay is considering selling Skype. Although the talk is mostly related to new Skype CEO John Donahoe referring to “synergy” and weather or not the two business are complimentary. I think this might be cover for “profit”. The acquisition of Skype by eBay was a curve ball in most commentators eyes and there is no doubt that it has likely had a negative impact on Skype’s revenue and image.

That discussion made me think about what is it about Skype that is stopping it from being a giant (a bigger one). Number one in my book is the fact that most users don’t pay for any calls they make. They use it as a communication tool while online. They take advantage of Skype’s free calling, which is great. But there is no profit to be made from free. This is despite the fact that paid calls are cheap and deals like “Skype Pro” were top value for money. Indeed the new “flat rate unlimited calling” is also feature rich and again cheap. So if the majority of users are not taking them up on these great offers what can they do?

Charge for the use of Skype. That’s right charge for it, make Skype a subscription service on a per year basis. Before you go screaming your butt off hear me out. If you are screaming you must use and value Skype, I hear you. Skype is one application that I could not live without.

One of the strengths of Skype is the user base, it is massive. Used by an estimated 30% of all internet users and accounting for 95% of all VoIP traffic. Watching the total users online I see a constant + 10 million. There are questions about “active” users on Skype, given that total registered users is reportedly over 100 million but that is what I see on a regular basis so lets use that in our math.

With this huge user base Skype is in a great position to use that market share and economy of scale to charge a minimal subscription fee and make a very large profit. Consider this:

Skype have 10 million active users. Charge $10 per year for the use of Skype free calling PC to PC, therefore outside of SkypeOut. Given the fact that some people won’t pay this and ditch Skype lets be conservative and say that they lose 50% of current users. Now we have 5 million users paying 10 dollars a year. That is 50 million dollars a year! That is profit that they just don’t have coming in right now that could make Skype a whole lot better. Skype’s revenue is currently running around 500 million, subscriptions then would account for 10% of total revenue, that is a lot for any business.

I don’t think that they would lose 50% and I think that it will benefit users and Skype. I would pay 10 bucks a year. I might consider paying more. Why? I think that it is that good and I don’t have a problem paying for a quality service. I have used a number of VoIP services and none compare to the quality that I get from Skype, especially for recording. Generally speaking Skype is constantly reliable and stable, making it easy to use and dependable. Ten dollars a year is a very nominal fee for a great service.

In addition if I knew that the addition of a fee might make for a better Skype and encourage more development, great. They could even concentrate on working on some of my gripes:

  • No record feature native to the software
  • Bloatware like Skype Extras
  • Creating a stripped down version for optimizing call quality

I know that many people will disagree with me and strongly. I may even get flammed for putting ideas in their head. But quite frankly I don’t want to loose Skype. I sure as hell don’t want to lose it to the likes of Microsoft or some other web company that will pollute it with rubbish… “Yahoo! toolbar will be installed with Skype” (in fine print at the bottom of the EULA). Skype should concentrate on being a VoIP service, not a games platform, not aan application client, not anything else.

I will say though that subscriptions without value adding to the application and development of more bloatware would be a disaster. But the opposite would make for Skype to develop and maintain a platform for which there is no equal. As long as they add that record button.

Would you pay 10 bucks for a killer app?

Recording Skype :: MX Skype Recorder

We went to record The Global Geek Podcast last week and something came up and Knightwise was unable to attend the recording. Knightwise usually records the show on his Mac using Call Recorder. So as you might appreciate, him not able to be there and nobody else with a spare Mac at hand we were stuck. We needed to find a method to record the show and fast!

We went through a few dirty hacks. The worst of which is to change your audio source to Stereo Mix. This mixes everything that you hear back through the sound card. This means that you can hit record on any recording software and record Skype. While this works and flawlessly it has one major and limiting side effect. The other person gets their voice feed back to them with a slight delay. For some psychological reason it makes it nearly impossible to talk properly.

We also considered doing a double ended recording. That is I record my end locally and Tim his. This gives great quality and awesome control over levels. But the drawback here is that you have 2 huge files and one of those files has to get to me to edit it. Because there are 2 files it also means that I have to splice the two together flawlessly to sync the audio. Easier said than done. Extra post production editing is never a good thing.

We checked out a few options that I have checked out before. None are stunning or perfect and most are well below par in every respect. Tim though found a gem that I had not unearthed. MX Skype Recorder. Not a plugin but a separate program that enables you to record Skype with the great quality that we demand and expect for the show. It also has some features that make it ideal.

MX Skype Recorder Interface

Once you have downloaded MX Recorder you need to run the application then run Skype or make the call. You can not start recording mid call. It is as simple as hitting the record button to record a call once you have done this. By default it records an .mp3 with average quality settings. Fine to just capture the call but no good for podcasting. Enter the options.

In the options you can record a call in either a .mp3 (lame) or a PCM wav. The latter is what you want for recording a podcast. As I have said before you should not edit a .mp3 due to it’s lossy format. So I set to it to record a .wav. Now there are two options record as a “mixed” input and output or as a “dual channel”. Dual channel gives you one channel for input and one channel for output. So you have left with one person and right with the other. This is great because with any good audio editor you can get the levels right for each one. Once you are happy with the levels mix the audio into a mono mix then if you usually produce your show as stereo split it into a stereo mix. It might require some amplification after this process, just be careful you don’t clip the audio. I would suggest using a compressor to do this as it is a more balanced method of getting the volume right. Then just edit the show as you normally would.

MX Skype Recorder Options

There are many settings for outputting to a .mp3. Including changing the kHz and sample rate. Use this if you are into doing a raw unedited podcast. Your output is your show. Add ID3 tags and change the file name and you are done. Nice seamless experience.

One tip that I would pass on. Initially the levels were off, by a long way. I was very soft the incoming track was fine. But to try and fix this was a bit of a nightmare as I had already performed the above mixing procedure and edited the show. Now what we found out was that MX Recorder uses the levels that are set in Skype for the outputs. Do a few test recordings and get them right before you record. We also found this went part way to making it perfect. I needed to increase my output locally. We got a magic recording by taking the time to tweak these settings. Use the inbuilt level indicators, get your audio equal. Doesn’t matter it it is too soft you can adjust this in post production. But make sure you are not clipping, you can’t fix that!

The end result was great MX Skype Recorder is a winner in my book. It has a very small footprint and is easy to use. It compresses the file fast and outputs where ever you want it to and stamps it with the date and time. This little app works with multiple callers as well. But remember you have one channel for all input. Everyone that is conferenced in will be on that one channel. Do a test recording and get participants to adjust their output as needed. The mess that would result otherwise does not want talking about.

This program performed well and is one of the best recorders for Skype that I have used, if not the best. One drawback might be that the software is not free. There is a free version that will only record for 5 minutes. But for $14.95 US for the Standard Version it is a small price to pay in my opinion. Nice work by these guys and until Skype get their act together and give us a record button it will do the trick nicely.

Here is the show that I recorded with MX Skype Recorder. I am sure the next effort will be better still as we had a few settings that we could have better tweaked.

As a side note MX Skype Recorder will also record other VoIP applications such as Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger although I have not tested these applications.

MX Skype Recorder Homepage

20 Must Have’s for Firefox :: Streamline your Development

There are heaps of these type posts, “50 best…”, “10 must have’s for Firefox” etc… you know what I mean. But this post stood out in that these types of posts usually have the same old stuff that everyone has seen before.

This post called “20 must-have Firefox extensions” is a little different in that there are extensions here that I never knew existed. Sure some I have, but then there are others that I have not, it is the “have not’s” that I enjoyed in this post.

“These plug-ins give you souped-up functionality, better look and feel, and streamlined development tasks. And some are just plain cool.”

–  20 must-have Firefox extensions

I think that is the key, these extensions are niche focused, more of these please. We have seen the top 10 too many times, a pleasure to read something with a specific focus.

Check out the post from Computerworld. I am not going to re-blog the article. It is worth reading it for yourself. But there is a nice summary of each extension suggested and easy to drill down what you want out of it.

Need a Ruler?

Sometimes it is the tools for simple things that are hard to find. Not only that the ones that you do find are not what you want, are not free and might come tangled up with some other nasty apps that you did not count on. Pixel Ruler fills the void of needing to get image sizes just right for your blog or webpage or whatever else you are thinking of.

Pixel Ruler has all the functions that you need. It is small and one of those tools that is good to have because you never know when you might need it. There is not much to it. It works in all applications. You can choose between vertical and horizontal measurement, naturally. There is a maximum measurement of 1300 pixels, but that should cover most possible situations. Not sure why but you can choose between a number of skins as well. This virtual ruler measures in pixels, but as you would know this is preferable to actual size such as mm or cm.

I used to use an actual ruler on the screen to measure the optimal size for images. Might sound stupid, but I did not know this tool existed. It is less important now with the wider body that I have for posts. But larger screenshots on the old theme were a pain, they would not have been with Pixel Ruler.

Pixel Ruler is Free and comes from Mioplanet where you can find other great applications to make your life easier.

Pixel Ruler Screenshot

– Thanks for the Tip Tim

Skype 3.1 Released

Those that use Skype will be happy or not so happy to learn that Skype 3.1 has been released today. I have noticed one glaring omission in that they forgot to put the record button in. But in essence it is still the same old Skype.

I am not about to review this version, there has been plenty of posts about it. One thing that I have noticed is that there are a few bugs. One of which is the out of focus alert flag. It remains active after the alert has been checked. That is the most annoying one at any rate.

One the positive side it looks like they may have improved the file transfer somewhat. I have usually resorted to using FTP rather than use Skype for transfers, due to the fact that it is crap. Skype file transfer should be excellent, but it is far from it. The speed that I get is usually measurable in the bits per second (…no it is not my connection). This limits what you can or would want to transfer, considerably.

Tonight we gave this version a test with a 2 MB file and we got 12KB/s, which is still crap but compared to what it was it is a vast improvement. I hope that future releases will continue to improve in this regard because it is substandard to say the least for what overall is a very capable VoIP client. It would be the killer app with that record button.

File Transfer Skype3.1 Screenie