Yahoo! Gives up on Podcasts

Yahoo! Podcasts LogoI was submitting a new podcast (not mine) to some directories today and came across something that completely threw me.

It appears that Yahoo! is closing down Yahoo! Podcasts and they have announced it with the following message on the Home Page:

“Yahoo! apologizes deeply, but we will be closing down the Podcasts site on Sept. 30 Oct 31st, 2007″

I have heard not news or rumour that this was gong to happen. To speculate on the reasons I can only think that the service is not being utilized or that most people use iTunes or some other way to get their podcasts. Sure I don’t know many people that use Yahoo! for podcasts, but I would have thought a company like Yahoo! would not walk away from hosting a directory.

There are still plenty of directories out there and good ones. Podcast Alley for one. Maybe that’s part of the problem, other sites do it better. Who knows, as I said I have seen zero on this move.

So this is all news to me, I’ll be interested to see what the reasons are and if there are plans for something else. Anyone else see this coming?

Update: Date changed to the 31st of October… It gets stranger

Huge Digg Site Update

The Digg website has just come online, back up from being offline after a massive update. This is a big change ands sees a visual and layout change and the addition of a swag of new features.

Digg Site Update 01

The thing that jumped right at me was the whole site look has changed to a “Web2.0” look and feel, with heaps of AJAX and and slick rendering. The second thing was that you can now submit podcasts to Digg! This is in beta and you need to be registered to even look at it.

Podcasts are ranked in the usual Digg fashion but in addition to that they are catagorized. You can play a podcast from the Digg page, you can subscribe to it using an RSS reader. Plus because individual podcast episodes can be Dugg there are the top 10 episodes to see on the right. The “Top 10” on the right is reflected through the site in all sections.

Video has it’s own section now, due to the popularity of video. There is the function of being able to view video from the page without having to leave. A lightbox pops up and plays the video when you click the thumbnail play button.

One other feature of note is that under each catagory, such as News; there has been added the top stories based on time. For example the Top Story in the last 24 hours right up to a year. Nice touch.

The areas of change in functionality are:

  • Interface: Gone is the fixed width format in with flexible format, wide screen owners rejoice. All the navigation has been moved to the top
  • Video enhancments: Separate section, top 10 videos and play onsite
  • Podcasting: New beta section, digg your faviourate podcasts or episodes, catagories of podcasts
  • Profile enhancments: quickly jump between News, Videos or podcasts within your profile as well as a Friends tab to see what they are doing.

Check it all out in full on the Digg Blog, they also include a quick video that covers all the changes. Then… I guess go Digg something.

Marketing Our Podcast: A Challenge Issued!

TPN LogoWe are having some trouble at The Global Geek Podcast HQ! We need some kick-arse marketing strategies and quick. No, I am not doing what my brother suggested:

“…Tattoo the URL to your penis, photograph it, then post it on your blog, digg the article.”

While this strategy might spike some interest and probably work; it was not really what I had in mind when I asked him if he had any ideas about exposure! So I am asking the faithful readers of my blog to do a couple of things that will help.

  • If you have not checked out the podcast, head on over to The Global Geek Podcast homepage and at least have a listen to the show, if you like it SUBSCRIBE to the RSS feed.
  • If you like the podcast or you think someone else might then tell them.
  • If you have a blog then why not give us a bit of a plug or put the podcast in your blog roll or links. I can get you a logo or graphic if you want it to look good.
  • We reviewed a site called Folkd in the last podcast it is a great “Digg” type site but very, very good and looks awesome, I have posted our podcast on there so that it can be voted on. If you like the podcast then Register and give it a Folkd! (vote/”digg”).
  • Same for Shoutwire and Newsvine
  • If you have a Digg account then why not Digg the latest episode? (doesn’t look so good if we do it…)
  • Let us know what else we might do to spread the word about the podcast.

I think that we have a reasonable podcast and that our content is good. So now we need exposure. We are trying to do that but we need your help! If you listen to the podcast and reckon other people should as well then tell them, or at least another two people, then tell them to do the same. It is greatly appreciated.

So I also issue a challenge! Read on…

If one person truly blows me away by something that they do to give us some major exposure (that we can see results from – like more downloads), I will personally fund a prize for that person! That’s right I’ll send you clobber. Don’t expect anything too amazing, we are not making money you know, but it will be cool and practical – cause that’s what you do when you don’t have much cash!

And you are on the show (if you want to be) to tell everyone what you did!

If there are any podcasters out there or anyone else for that matter with some great ideas then let me know by dropping me a comment or you can also send us email at The Global Geek Podcast. Thanks everyone I appreciate it and so does The Podcast Network!

The Global Geek Podcast: http://www.globalgeekpodcast.com

RSS Feed: http://globalgeek.thepodcastnetwork.com/feed/

What Bit Rate for Podcasts?

I really, honestly do not know the answer to this question. What is the best bit rate to encode a podcast at? Also does that answer depend upon the fact that you are a listener or a podcaster or hosting service?

I do the post production work for the Global Geek Podcast. Before moving to TPN I always encoded the podcast at 44khz and 96kbps. That works out at about 35 – 40MB per show (depending on length between 40 minutes to an hour). We have what I think is great audio quality, but am I spoiling ourselves and our listeners and potentially excluding others?

We have never had a complaint about the file size of the show. No-one has ever said it was too big. People have commented on the quality and said it is great and we have worked hard to get it that way. But I now question if that is over kill. So I tried to figure out what bit rate is the most common. I did a very small survey of the podcasts I have on the computer. I only have nine on it at the moment – most of them are on the MP3 Player (where they should be).

Anyway I got the following breakdown:

Total of 9 Podcasts:

  • 2 encoded at 96kbps
  • 4 encoded at 64kbps
  • 3 encoded at 48kbps

A conclusive survey that does not make. But maybe I am aiming too high. What quality do listeners expect of a podcast? Do they want a small file and lower quality so that they get the content without the bandwidth. Or do they want great quality and a larger file size? With the size of MP3 players now the storage is not an issue I don’t think. But I know in Australia the cost of bandwidth might be. The cost of faster connections is expensive and so many users are on a maximum of 256/64 or 512/128. So does a larger file size deter them from listening to our show? Could we have a bigger audience if we made it smaller and if that is the case what size is acceptable?

With the uptake of broadband technology there is a step towards encoding at a larger bit rate but what should it be? Perhaps 64kbps is a good place. I listen to quite a few podcasts that are recorded at 64kbps and they sound good. A one hour podcast encoded at 64kbps is about 28MB (voice only). Is this a big difference to 96kbps? Well it is between 10 and 15 MB. Will that mean the difference between more listeners and a balance between keeping your existing ones because of what they expect? Will you loose listeners by lowering the bit rate dramatically and will it matter because of the number you pick up. To me it does anyway, I care that we keep the listeners we have.

The other big consideration here is the hosting cost. I know that I had to go to the plan one up from the basic plan in order to have the podcast encoded at such a high bit rate. So that privilege cost me $10US/month instead of $5US/month. That was a cost that I thought was worth it. Also what if your podcast is being hosted by a network, what file size is reasonable for them to host? Is it acceptable that you have a higher bit rate than the other shows that are hosted there and is it necessary? Personally, I would like to find a happy medium between file size, bit rate and quality. I want the best quality at a reasonable file size. I don’t want my hosting provider to get pissed off that the show is too large. In addition to that fact; the network wants as many people to listen to as many shows as possible. If it is possible that people are “turned off” by a large file size, then that is not for the benefit of the network and I would not do it. In that instance the file size should be smaller at the sacrifice of quality for the benefit of the network and I need to accept that.

As a listener I do not care what size a file is. I have a fast Internet connection and it really does not bother me. I like high quality podcasts but I listen to some that are not of a high quality as far as bit rate because the content is good. So is good quality a cover for shit content? If it is; it is not sustainable long term. So as a listener of podcasts I don’t search for podcasts based on audio quality or file size, and maybe I have just answered my question in part.

Having made these points I will say that some basic editing will improve quality out of sight. I have turned off podcasts because they have not bothered to do this basic editing. They were unlistenable and total shit and they should have thought the same! I wonder if some podcasters even listen to it after they have recorded it. So what do I mean by “basic editing?”

Basic editing in my opinion is:

  • Setting levels before you start, especially if you are recording Skype using a software application. This means setting your levels with enough “headroom” to get loud during a podcast so that you don’t “clip” the recording. And not so soft that you have to amplify it dramatically to get something to work with.
  • Don’t edit the podcast as an MP3, MP3 is a “lossy” format and gets worse and worse in quality every time you re-encode it or open it and save it.
  • Run a compressor on the audio to “smooth” the audio. That is take out the high’s and bring up the lows.
  • Run the compressor a few more times.
  • Normalise” the audio, basically set the zero level. Makes the podcast the same volume and means that the listener isn’t constantly turning their volume up and down.
  • You may need to “amplify” the whole audio after using the compressor and normalising the audio. You don’t want the listener running out of volume because it is too soft!
  • Any added or imported audio needs the above steps.

Believe it or not the above takes the least amount of time in my editing but makes the biggest difference. I do go a step further and edit the actual audio and take out the umms and errs and we always stuff things up and say well we will edit that out. The time is also in the transitions and the mixing of the imported audio, making it all work together (the best that I can). So maybe you can see why as a podcaster I want it to sound as good as I can, I put a lot of effort into both the pre and post production. But is that at the neglect of other issues? Is this basic and advanced editing enough to make it a “quality” podcast?

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. Tell me if you are a listener or a podcaster. Podcasters, tell me what you encode your podcast at and why. Listeners please answer my questions for me. As I said at the start of this post I really do not know what the right answer is, that’s why I have posed lots of questions. It would be great to get some answers, although I am not sure there is one.

Name Servers Changing, Last Chance!

Just a last minute warning that I am changing the name servers for The Global Geek Podcast. What does that mean?

I am redirecting traffic via the http://www.globalgeekpodcast.com url to the new site as of tonight. So that when anyone punches in the http://www.globalgeekpodcast URL, they will be redirected to here:  http://globalgeek.thepodcastnetwork.com. Simple really. It may take up to 48 hours to resolve though so be patient.
But remember that the feed URL has changed! Either get those details from my previous post or the new homepage.

This might seem like a bit of fuss and bother but DNS management and redirection is a great thing. For a start we do not have to remember a new URL and neither do you. Once I have changed the redirect then you will be taken to the new page. It does not matter where the podcast is hosted the http://www.globalgeekpodcast.com URL will always point to it. Cool isn’t it?

But what it does mean is pesky reminders from me! So have a look at my previous post for any further details. Or there is a widget at the top of my blog that will point you in the right direction!