Odeo Cripples Functionality

Odeo LogoOdeo seem to be updating and improving their services every other day of late. However, it is not every day that you see such a great service actually remove a feature and make it harder for users to utilise their service. They have indeed done so and perhaps in doing so shooting themselves in the foot.

One of the great features that is available to Odeo users is to have an "inbox". If you were to place a button on your website, be it blog or some other site you have enabled your readers to leave you audio comments by clicking the link. They get taken to a page that has a recording interface, which is simple and easy to use and the result is great audio. You as the user of Odeo get that recorded audio in your inbox once it is sent to you. You are notified of this by an email.

Another great feature is that you can subscribe to an RSS feed of your own inbox! So this is a great way to receive feedback on anything. Including podcasts. Seb and I saw it as a great way to get feedback for Global Geek Podcast, so we set up an account. The advantage of getting audio as feedback is that you could go to your inbox once you were notified and click the new Odeo comment that was left for you. You can listen to it. But the biggest feature was that you could click a "download as MP3" button and download the audio comment and insert it into a podcast! The result was excellent and we loved it.

The ability to download the MP3 has been removed from the play window! So what the hell is Odeo thinking in removing this key functionality. It means that it is impossible to download the audio from the page to your local machine. Rather it makes it a pain in the butt to do it.

I found that there is a work-around but it is messy: Open Audacity, set the source to "stereo mix" get ready to hit record… Open the Odeo message that you want to record. Flip back to Audacity and hit record, nip over to the Odeo page and click play. Go back and hit stop on the recording when it has finished. As I said messy. In addition the audio that you end up with is less than ideal and requires a bit of editing.

I am utterly dismayed as to why Odeo have removed this from their site. The only thing that I can think of is that they want users to listen to audio, only from them and not from another source. Perhaps they were not aware that the service was being utilized in this way and they have done it ignorantly, I just don't know. Sebastian has suggested that perhaps they are beginning to think about implementing a pay service and this has something to do with it. But since when has any site reduced their services as opposed to offering more. We are not the only podcast doing this. I can honestly say that if this situation remains as it is; the blogging and podcasting community could deliver some negative press, big time.

Global Geek Podcast has mentioned Odeo on every show that we have done. Not only that there is a link on the Global Geek Podcast website to Odeo, there is a link to Odeo on Rooster's Rail, Seb's Random Thoughts and we have plugged them for their service and functionality since utilizing their service. It is not like we have not given back to Odeo. This I feel is the thanks that we get.

Global Geek Podcast have sent off an email to Odeo in regards to this issue and we await a response, I will let you know what we get back from them when and if we do.

Update: Please check out the Follow-up Story

Podcast Player Found! No Help from LibSyn…

Well I am as happy as a pig in poop! Yesterday I blogged about the LibSyn Player malfunction and the fact that I was not getting any help from Liberated Syndication with the problem. The no help thing has continued, step in the wonderful blogging community.

Big ContactYesterday I recieved a comment on the post that was an answer to my prayers. Rob from New York Mets Baseball Podcast put me onto Big Contact's Feed Player. To say that it is unreal is an understatment. It is feature packed and the main thing is: It Works!

In actual fact this player has more features and more options than the LibSyn did! Features like having a list of previous shows as well as the most recent show to play is great. In addition to that there is the function of being able to see the show notes from the player! There are also instructions on how to "subscribe" to the show… AND Adam has just assisted me to make the player "detach" from the page, allowing visitors to surf the web or work elsewhere and listen to the show. Very cool. There is more but I think you get the picture. Oh and did I mention it is free?

Please head over to the Global Geek Podcast Homepage and check it out, especially if you are looking for a player. There are many other customisable features that podcasters may want to modify to suit their needs and the very fact that you can is another big plus.

Many, many thanks to Rob again and hey Rob I have talked to Sebastian and we are only too happy to plug your show on ours so if you would like to send us a promo we will slot it in. Because that's how the world should work.

Stay on the look out for more changes to the Global Geek Podcast Homepage… woot this is going to good…

Sending SMS in Skype 2.5 Beta

Skype SMS IconFor those of you running the new Skype 2.5 Beta have you been having trouble sending SMS? I have found some problems that may be the source of the issues you have been having.

I have been having fun with the SMS ability of the new Skype 2.5 Beta. But I have had some issues like SMS send failures when I know the number is right and the network should accept SMS from Skype. I had some mobile phone numbers already listed in my Skype contacts. I upgraded to Skype 2.5 in the usual fashion. I found that some numbers worked with SMS and some did not. New numbers that I put into Skype worked, that got me thinking as to why that was.

A typical number here in Australia might be "0449557250". I discovered that the "0" prefix should be omitted when using Skype, as it works with international dialing codes and these are usually not required and indeed cause problems when they are used. I found that the numbers that I had already stored in my contacts retained this "0" in front of the number and some did not. The ones that did not have the "0" worked with the SMS. So what I did in my wisdom is input-ed all my mobile numbers omitting the "0". Wrong move! They still did not work. Seems that I was too smart for the new Skype dialing wizard!

The correct thing to do is to select "Add a Contact" then select "Add new SkypeOut Contact" then select the country that the number originates from and enter the number in full (yes including the zero!). Skype will "strip" the zero out in the final number that you will see listed in your contact list. This may or may not be a bug in upgrading from 2.0 to 2.5 Beta and might be fixed in the final version.

As far as the existing numbers are concerned. It seems that Skype had failed to "strip" out the zero and that was causing the SMS failure. This was not an issue in Skype 2.0 as we were not able to send SMS and as far as SkypeOut to mobiles it did not seem to matter. What I have done is to delete these contacts and add them again in the above method and all seems to be working fine now. So try that before you throw your arms in the air screaming shite!

One other thing that I have noticed is that I am getting SMS failures from SMS messages that I know have gone through. I am not sure why that is but I know that the SMS sending feature is in early development and all the bugs have not be ironed out yet. In addition this is all part of the plan to enable Skype users to receive SMS in Skype. Now that would be cool!

Just remember that if you are using the 2.5 beta and you are having some issue that seems to be a bug, log a problem with the Skype team and let them know what it is, that way we all get a better final version!

Happy SMS'ing!

Also check out this article as it has a lot more on SMS and what can go wrong and why and how to fix it and where this is all headed. 

Skype SMS… what's up with the beta?

Skype 2.5 Installed: I am Over my Hissy Fit

Skype2.5Well I was a "tad" peeved off that this release of Skype did not include a record function and I had decided that I wasn't downloading it until I got over that. But after some encouragement from Sebastian I decided to install it.

I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. The "new" Skype is not all that new, rather more functional. The install is all the same and that had no problems. The first really noticeable thing was that the audio quality is better and there is greater emphasis on that with the inclusion of a "quality monitor". Not sure how that works as I do not have that many issues related to audio quality because I have a pretty quick connection. The problems that do occur are usually related to lag or resources pressure on the other person or person's local machine. And that I am afraid is unavoidable.

I said that I did not think I would use the SMS function. But I have actually found myself using it a lot. Like today I have come online, I got a message that someone wanted to talk to me, they are online but not answering. So I have SMS'ed him and now he knows I am here: he is yet to turn up though. But I think that it is cool that I can do that. The reason that I hate SMS is the fact that it is a pain in the butt when I am used to a keyboard. Having the ability to SMS from Skype actually makes SMS more accessible to me. By the way any reply that is sent to an SMS that I send from Skype goes to my personal mobile, the recipient is none the wiser about where the SMS was sent from. Seamless; an in usual Skype fashion; "It just works".

By the way the cost of an SMS in Australia via Skype is 0.12 AUD and to send an SMS to the UK is 0.13 AUD. I was told today by a colleague that the cost to the UK is normally 0.35 AUD. Definatly a saving there.

I am yet to try the mass call function which can apparently support up to 100 people. I am also yet to investigate Skypecasts, not sure what that's all about but I think it has something to do with this new feature. The thing that bothers me a bit is the fact that when you want to join a Skypecast it says that it says Skype is making a SkypeOut call. Apparently, at this point in time they are not charging you for this service as reported by Andy Bramson. Andy also reports as to the origin of the SkypeOut call, interesting stuff. But I suppose that means they will have that option in the future, we will see what happens. Skypecasts are, as far as I can tell are community chats and conferencing. The scope of this is massive. Imaging a Podcast with 20 others listening, contributing and live! Awesome. Aparently there is a "virtual" microphone that can be handed out by the moderator. I am going to have to explore this as it looks exciting.

Topping up your Skype credit is much easier with 2.5. Which as I have said before is in the interest of Skype. That said it is much easier and it is secure.

There are some other minor additions like the fact that the modern ring-tone has changed yet again to something yet more nauseating! But they have included the "classic" ring-tone that we all love. That is my take on Skype 2.5.
Maybe in the final release they will just drop a record button in there…

POPURLS dot com: What a Great Site

POPURLS BannerI was cruising the RSS today and although I had heard of POPURLS in passing I had not visited it until today. I was pleasantly surprised.

This site is a sort of a aggregator for sites that are updated frequently or have RSS feeds associated with them, or some other kind of community contribution on a regular basis. POPURLS summarizes this data into a “all-in-a-view” style. I don’t think that it is everything that comes out of these sites but it is a nice summary. The site has a very nice single page design and you can swap the default white on black to black on white. You can also make the text larger for those of you who are blind. The other cool option is that you can expand the headings to include more feeds or data. Lastly you can hover over a title of an article you get a summary of the article, click on it and a new tab opens with the full text from the site, cool.

POPURLS covers a huge range of sites: digg.com, del.icio.us, furl.net, flickr, reddit.com, tailrank.com, fark.com, youtube.com, news.google.com, news.yahoo.com, newsvine.com, video.google.com, shoutwire.com, slashdot.org, wired.com, odeo.com, nowpuplic.com, metafilter.com.

You will notice that not all the “feeds” are text based. There are video feeds as well and that’s something that average newsreaders don’t do. I think that is a nice addition, so is the fact that there are Flickr photo’s as well. I am not sure what the relationship between POPURLS and the contributing sites is but it makes you wonder how others might get on the list. Just something to think about.

That aside I think this is a great idea and one that finally puts RSS feeds into the hands of “regular” users. While it does not unleash the true power of RSS and aggregation it is a taste and might spark some interest for some people, it also connects you with the information that may enable you to better utilize RSS fully. In addition to these points, even if you were a super geek; it is just a fun site and a great way to have a quick catch up with what is going on in cyberspace and beyond, a cool distraction from whatever it is you are meant to be doing. Have a look you will end up staying a while.