Thursday, August 11, 2005

Computer Zen Guestmap

Check out the guest map over at Scott Hanselman’s blog. I definitely put my little marker over Perth (Australia) but ended up on a small tropical island in the Indian ocean near Bali. There’s probably some sort of subliminal “where I want to be” thing going on here… or it’s just a fault due to a combination of a particular browser version and scroll bar positions.

Delayed RSS/feeds

One of the primary benefits of RSS and other syndication technologies is that I can get the content I’m interested in without visiting all the web sites that the content originates from. For newly discovered web logs, you typically get the last 10 to 15 posts and just skimming them for interesting bits is good enough. The scenario is similar for podcast shows that are posted on regularly – though for really interesting podcasts going through the back catalog can be worth while.

Just recently, I’ve started listening to “audio book” podcasts. These have a specific number of posts and once the book is finished the podcast feed can be removed from your aggregator. There a few problems with the default RSS/aggregator behaviour for these type of podcasts:

  • The XML feed files have a maximum number of posts defined. If the podcast has more “episodes” than this maximum you have to go back to the web site to find the first “episode”.
  • Even if all the episodes are brought into your aggegrator, they stay in the aggregator display list until you have time to go through and listen to all the episodes. Similarly your mp3 player gets filled up with all the episodes even though you may not have time to listen to it all for a while.

I really love the way RSS aggregators drip feed me my content. My preference is to not have to go back to the original web site to get extra content or missing “episodes”. A handy solution to this on the web server side would for the user to be able “create” an RSS XML link by appending a start date and an update frequency in the URL. The web server could then form an RSS file on the fly which drip feeds me the podcast content from the first episode from the day I subscribe. My aggregator would then get new “episodes” at the rate I specified e.g. every couple of days or once a week or whatever. This is probably also the way re-run TV shows will end up being delivered to their audience in the future i.e. what I want, when I want it.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Just before starting lunch, I checked my RSS feeds and saw an Earthcore post. Cool, I thought. Perfect timing to listen to the last final Earthcore “episode” during lunch. What followed was bitter disappointment when the post was found to have no audio attachment. The inhumanity of it all!

Earthcore is a podcast novel by Scott Sigler. Well worth listening to if you’re into sci-fi. You can check it out by starting at the first post with audio. This is one scenario where the blog web style of last post first will surely confuse people not familiar with web logs.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Woo-hoo! Stop the Presses

The Hobson and Holtz report has a great podcast that can act as an introduction for a lot of podcast concepts and how it applies to business. This particular show has an associated powerpoint presentation and is going to be really useful to pass on to people I talk to that don’t understand why podcasts are such a potentially huge media direction for businesses (in the long tail sense). Even though I have no background in communications, these guys have such a comfortable and informative style that the podcast has stayed in my feed list since I first came across the show.

PS: The title of this post refers to the intro of the podcast.