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

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LibSyn Player Removed!

Well the Global Geek Podcast has been going very well. The website is working great, accept for the LibSyn Player; which has been broken for nearly two weeks.

LibSyn PlayerThe player is just a web page application that allows people to "stream" the audio directly from the web page. It is also detachable so you can surf the net and listen to the show. About twelve days ago, after the upload of show number 004 (I think) it broke. It failed to update with the new show and the situation stayed that way. For me the player does not work at all. For others it might play any show that we have published, at random! Not good.

You might think that this is a minor thing, but you would be surprised to learn that this is the way that most people listen to the show. The majority of people appear to not know about aggregators or "podcatchers". So the fact that it is broken is really affecting our statistics, we have seen jumps in other episodes that should not have occurred and a downturn in the numbers for the most recent show. We are fairly sure that it is related to the player not working. Part of trying to combat this was to put the WordPress Podcast Widget on this blog, you can go to the streaming page and listen to the podcast from this and download the podcast with the right click "save as" command. But it was not a total solution. We have also tried to search for a decent player from somewhere else but we are having trouble finding one that us gumby people can put on the page and looks good.

So after all this and three emails to Liberated Syndication I have removed the player from the site, I just hope that people click the "POD" button to listen to the show or download it manually or preferably subscribe to the show using a podcatcher of some description. I recommend Juice as a free option, open source and it works. For a payed version of an integrated podcatcher and RSS reader I recommend FeedDemon.

Still hoping to get the player fixed and reinstated on the website but until LibSyn get back to me my hands are tied. Normally they are good with support but on this they have sucked.

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…

Skype for Windows 2.5 Beta Available

Skype LogoI did not expect this so soon; but Skype have released the next beta version of Skype.

On the Share Skype Blog they have announced it as of today. The features are listed as follows:

  • Shared Groups
  • Send SMS ability
  • Easier SkypeOut calls and dialing
  • Video no longer limited to Windows XP only
  • Call Quality Helper
  • Improved conference calling with voice meters
  • Easier to buy Skype credit
  • Easier Upgrades

The BIG ommision is they have not included the ability to record calls! This is a huge disapointment in my opinion, as a podcaster it would solve a lot of problems and issues. The world would be a better place if I did not have to go through the crap I do to produce our podcast if I could record Skype. In addition the quality of the podcast would be infinitely better. I really was hoping that this was in the deal.

Apart from that the features they have included seem cool. I have never seen the advantage in SMS – I don't use it myself and think that using a keypad with three or four letters to each to be a waste of my time. But I can see the advantage for others. And I suppose that from my computer; with keyboard attached it would be easy to send an SMS now.

As far as the other stuff the improvements to conference calling and groups might be interesting but to be honest I do not think that it would make a big difference to how I use Skype. Easier to buy Skype credit, well that's in their interest!

As far as call quality assistance, my call quality is fine and I know what causes the issues, and since I have a reasonable internet connection it is not usually a problem. It might however be of assistance to people that are not savvy with computers and want to use the technology. Not much help to me though.

So all in all this release isn't that ground breaking for me and the omission of recording calls is a major let down and disappointment.