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December 20, 2004

Skype + Podcast Recorder = SkypeCasters

Introducing instructions for SkypeCasting. The front-end solution for podcasters to create great sounding audio recordings from interviews and conference calls using Skype. For the last few days I've been recording podcasts using Skype. As the call ends with a couple of clicks it is converted to mp3 and uploaded to a blog. This is a real bloggers solution providing podcasting in almost real-time without resorting to studios, or fancy gear. Let the New Year ring in with new voices, and new conversations. Audio and podcasting will make a difference. Let's get the thoughts out into the world. Innovate in 2005 --- start podcasting. This post contains my first podcast and the instruction on how (links at the end).

The SkypeCasters' recipe is simple and we have written it up in detail. Add together Skype, Virtual Audio Cables, Windows Sound Recorder, a simple Wav to mp3 converter MT_Enclosures and iPodder and you can be Podcasting later today! The solution will cost you $40.

Why podcast? Why record? Where are immediate opportunities.
There are many situations on the phone or Skype where you would like to be recording. Professional interviews are a prime example. Makes it easier to write up your notes later while you can completely focus your attention on the interview. Then we have the equivalent of "panel" discussions. The mini conference call fueled by good chatter and a great topic. Perhaps you are a budding poet wanting to spread a reading to a small group? Want to send a joint message or birthday greeting where the parties are dispersed, record a Skype conference call and e-mail the mp3. Similarly, finishing up a conference call --- create a simple 5 minute SkypeCast of the key action points. Blog it to your group. An hour in five minutes. It's over to you now. Tell us how you use it.

Approaching podcasting like this is different to staged professional recording studios, and big production values. We know that if you have a talented studio behind you then mixing and turning out a professional Podcast will be no problem. This is the solution for those with no money who are happy to create SkypeCasts on the fly.

multiparty recording.jpg

What we have done: (GET INSTRUCTIONS)

  • A simple Skype recording solution for capturing "great" audio.
  • No extra overhead. It all works on one Windows XP PC.
  • A blog platform - MT- that "reads" for podcasts.
  • A lowcost way to distribute podcasts without running up bandwidth bills (podcasttorrent)
  • Quick and simple to do.

    Here is the recipe. I'd never have completed it without BIll Campbell's help. Our "proof of concept" SkypeCast is here. We are still learning some of the mic and audio tricks. It is converted at 32mbs... although perfectly passable at 16kps it begins to sound more like a telephone... and that might not be the best Skype proof of concept test.

    Looking forward to your feedback. I'll move the recipe details shortly to a wiki so they can be updated. In the meantime let us have your comments and learnings.

    Lastly, unleashing the capability to record Skype calls isn't meant to bypass common courtesy and the smarts of asking permission before you start recording. You could get yourself into trouble sending out a podcast without permission. You may want to get it via IM when you hit record. It's clear to me that recording without permission is going to happen. I'd appreciate getting some more insights in this area. I'd note that one can SkypeOut and record this way without the other party knowing or even the caller ID being identified currently.

    Instructions
    Podcast on SkypeCasting

  • SkypeCasting: The Podcast

    I tested podcasting over the weekend on my MT 3.12 Test Blog. So today I thought adding MT-Enclosures and an RSS2.0 feed to 2.66 --- what this blog still runs on would be easy. It's now working. I still don't understand why iPodder still misses and didn't download the same podcast link in the previous post. At the moment I put that down to mixed media. RSS 2.0 Podcast ready feed

    Podcast: SkypeCasting (see previous post)

    December 28, 2004

    iPod Files Backup

    With any new gadget I just want to master them and then see what can be done. Like the millions of hits that apparently brought down the iTunes store on Christmas day I've been adding music. That's where iTunes one way copying becomes the first bug. Last year over Christmas I ripped all the CD's in our house. Many were added to my laptop, and the 40GB hard drive was really overfull with music. So the iPod was supposed to free up space on the laptop.

    Taking control of the iPod.
    After that first synch with the iTunes assuming you have lots of music in there. Switch the iPod to manual. iTunes / edit/ preferences / iPod. Unclick all the automatic updates. Otherwise each time you connect your iPod to the PC it just simply overwrites any music you may have added anywhere else. Do your really want to lose it? On manual you can go to other PC's and add the music from them via iTunes. So I added the music files on the other PC's around the house. Now the iPod has lots of music and can no longer synch automatically with the iTunes on the laptop. What you then need is a program that can copy / backup the files on your iPod to the PC. Then you have a backup of everything. It wasn't hard to find.

    I found two programs that would enable this. I first used iPod Access for Windows (also available for Mac) which provides a simple interface. After paying the $10:00 I was able to copy all my music files to the USB Backup Drive (didn't want them back on my laptop). I then returned to my laptop and deleted all the iTunes music files and folders. Thus starting with a clean sheet. Then clicking iTunes/ edit/ preferences / advanced I unticked the copy music folders to the iTunes library. Then iTunes / File / Add Folder to Library I created a new library that mimics my iPod without filling up the diskdrive on my laptop. So at my desk I have all the music I want and on the road I still have it in my iPod, which can still be managed through my PC iTunes, iPod Access or Anapod. As I buy new music that's added to the iTunes music folder. In time I will have to repeat the backup again. Anytime there is a need to add files from elsewhere.... just set the iPod to manual.

    The second program Anapod provides more functionality than iPod Access and I've not yet finished exploring it. I still have the trial version not yet paid the $25 this one costs. Anapod also provides a streaming function and will enable you to listen to the music on your ipod via WinAmp or I think broadcast it should you desire. The iPod is now plugged into the stereo in the other room. I may be time to sell all those CD's and make room for something new.

    I've also added an iTrip which plays music over FM to any radio close by. Thus the iPod now gets around the busted CD player in my car and I have music again! I also added iTalk, so the iPod can be used as a recorder. I have a few ideas on how to use that too. Both these little additions partner very nicely with the iPod.

    So now I have room to download all the new podcasts via iPodder and synch them quickly with the iPod. When I may ever listen to them all is another question.

    December 29, 2004

    SkypePodCaster

    Another experiment on the SkypeCasting front. What's required to capture Skype Calls from any PC directly onto an iPod. With an iPod combined with iTalk you have a line-in option.

    With a headphone sharing cable you can use Julian Bond's approach (although you will hear yourself talking too. and connect up your iPod as a recorder. It could work for underpowered PC's with limited disk space. Another option is to use a PC that has a second sound card or plug in a USB soundcard. Then you can use the iPod to record off the second Skype profile. (see SkypeCasting Instructions). Under either of these methods it may be good enough for simply capturing an interview, it is not likely to be podcast material and tuning beyond workable is not worthwhile. Possibly the right audio mixer connected to both the iPod and the PC would work.

    Then all these solutions just prove the futility of looking for a hardware related solution when the right "software" is just over the horizon. $10 for the "SkypePodcastRecorder" would be about right. A recording device that captures and balances the full audio stream from a single Skype profile. That will then create a whole new market for audio messaging.

    I've also found that iTalk on the iPod records .wav files at 128kps consuming approximately 1mb per minute. It's great for audio notes. and even longer sessions. You still have to convert it to an mp3. Any recorder above will do that automatically.

    Enough playing around....

    January 23, 2005

    SkypeCasting Rants and Raves?

    Are rants and raves a good idea? This post could be both. Are they necessary, helpful, etc. We all do it in some way. Could RnR's empower change if captured easily and offered free distribution? I started this post thinking about customer complaints. Once you wrote a letter and you had to be really mad and it took a lot of time. It went to a corporate black hole and disappeared. it you did it well you get a refund or some type of action. Still unhappy? Then you tell your friends. Word of mouth. What if we gave word of mouth a fast forward function? What if we gave individual word of mouth a megaphone. Some blogs are sort of like that. Yet they aren't nearly as powerful as the personal storytelling, speaking the words.

    What happens when you cross a free telephone / communication system with a free distribution system, turn it over to you and me and apply it to customer rant and raves. (This will be even more interesting when Skype enables Video Messaging!)

    What happens if you use Skype to record a one minute VM rant or rave? Simply Skype it in. You can even set up a site with different SkypeMe tags and then automate the playback conversion. To make it work more efficient you can also ask them to rank some previous rants and raves as their contribution. You may even find there are people that want to collect rants and raves on certain products. It just needs a central directory! This creates a new genre and venue for providing customer feedback. Hate a product you want to call it in! You have a powerful story and you want to tell it. We want to hear the passion and understand the details. In the end a stream of expletives won't make the Hot or Not Rant n Rave meter.

    It's not much good if you can't distribute them and find them. So we need PodTorrent or RantnRaveTorrent or something like it. So the site captures one-minute VM's and turns them into Podcasts that are rated and possibly managed by a Slashdot / Kuro5hin type site. The best rants on products (these could be positive and negative) simply bubble up. Then anyone who wants to hear the latest feedback on a product can enter a quick search and spend 10 minutes listening to the best rants or raves.

    May change the nature of advertising, afterall who are you going to believe? The customers and users delivering it with passion or a 30 second ad? I know what works for me. Perhaps something can be done to the iPodder so when we hear a rant or rave, it asks us NetFlix style how you liked the last rants or raves. Now that would be powerful marketing information! Maybe our responses to rants and raves could be something that we could collect and share --- call it "experience capital" a subset of the social capital we share already. Gives a new meaning to audio feedback.

    BTW I had an idea in this realm a few years ago. I called it Antiport. Antiport was a market for customer feedback. It used urls and wasn't nearly as friendly as just lodging a SkypeVM. Still merge these types of ideas. What I find rather appealing in the above is:

  • The cost of registering a rant is less than five minutes and costs not even a postage stamp.
  • Your voice has impact and the "news" on critical rants potentially goes public in minutes.
  • It's captured in a medium that is more persuasive and easier for most people to do.
  • Rant and raves could be tagged back to the blogosphere, thus providing reference links etc. Presume this would also help distribution.
  • Set the tools up right and it becomes a self-managing and powerful force. An automated watchdog?

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