Tag Archives: Podcasts

Keep Podcasts in Sync with Pocket Cast’s Alexa Skill

Pocket Casts is one of the most used apps on my OnePlus 3T, playing podcasts in the car and while out walking. It’s a great app, though I’m still in two minds about the new version 7.0. Why do app developers feel the need to alienate existing users with radical redesigns for no real benefit?

Regardless, one of the coolest features of Pocket Casts is that it keeps playback in sync across multiple devices. Say I listen to Geek News Central in my car and I get about half-way through the latest show. Once I’m home, maybe I want to use my tablet rather than my phone and Pocket Casts knows exactly where I got to in the GNC show. It picks up where I left off without missing a word. Very cool.

And even more cool is that Pocket Casts has an Alexa skill that plugs into the same ecosystem. Once setup on your Echo, it’s “Alexa, open Pocket Casts” and Alexa responds “Welcome to Pocket Casts. Would you like to keep playing Geek News Central?” I say, “Yes” and Alexa plays from wherever I was. Fantastic.
Alternatively, I could decline the initial offer and ask to play a different podcast from my library.

To enable Pocket Casts, and in particular, the cross-platform syncing, there are three things you need to do

  1. Buy Pocket Casts for your smartphone (both Android and iOS) and setup an account
  2. Enable the Alexa skill via the Alexa app
  3. Log in to your Pocket Casts account via the Alexa app to link your account

With the Alexa and Pocket Casts account now linked, you can listen to podcasts on all your devices without having to scrub backwards and forwards to find the right spot. Give it a try.

“Google, We Can’t Spy On Our Users!” Whines The BBC

If you don’t believe the adage “If it’s free, you’re the product” then you need to go and look at the BBC’s foot-stomping and whining at Google.

The BBC has pulled its podcasts from the Google ecosystem and in a blog post, Kieran Clifton, the BBC’s Director of Distribution and Business Development, explains why. He says, “Google has since begun to direct people who search for a BBC podcast into its own podcast service, rather than BBC Sounds or other third party services, which reduces people’s choice.

This seems very laudable at this point, though by several accounts, the BBC Sounds app isn’t that great. However, it all becomes much clearer in the next few lines, “….this means us getting hold of meaningful audience data…Unfortunately, given the way the Google podcast service operates, we can’t do any of the above...”

This isn’t an altruistic crusade by the BBC to stop Google, it’s simply that the Beeb wants to get its grubby hands on podcast usage info. They already force you to login into iPlayer so that they can check that you’ve paid your TV tax, sorry, TV licence at GB£154 per year. If you don’t believe me, go here – “Will you share my data with TV Licensing? We share some of your personal data with TV Licensing to check if you are using BBC iPlayer and to keep their database up to date.

I’d hoped that the BBC would be above this kind of behaviour but it’s becoming clear that it’s just another commercial media organisation, albeit a state-supported one. Sad to see the day.

Mobile iGoogle Goes Away, Google Listen to Follow

Not long ago I wrote about Google’s plans to kill iGoogle in 2013 and it was met with howls of protest.  What I didn’t know at the time was that the mobile version was scheduled to go away much sooner than the web-based one.  In fact, if you were using it on a smartphone or tablet then you were probably surprised on August 1st because July 31st was the official end.

The announcement was made via a little seen Google Help Center article.  In addition to this news was one that hits a bit closer to home for GNC – Google’s great poscast app for Android, known as “Listen”, will be going away soon.  The search component will cease working on November 1st of this year.  According to Google, users will still be able to “access your podcast subscriptions in Google Reader in the ‘Listen Subscriptions’ folder and download them from the Import/Export tab.”

Finally, Google will also be killing off Google Video for Business as well as some of the 150+ blogs that the search giant currently maintains.

Create Your Own TV Station

One of the problems with watching video podcasts as an alternative to conventional television is that you have typically and deliberately watch one video at a time. On longer videos it’s not as much of a problem, but with short videos that last 5 minutes or less you have to keep manually restarting the next video after the previous one has finished.

I now have three Mac Minis – one is an old somewhat underpowered Power PC Mac Mini that I’m using as a video podcast aggregator. I have that machine’s iTunes database located on a much larger shared drive that’s available to every machine on my home network. I’m subscribed to a variety of tech podcasts, most of them in the highest resolution file sizes available.

I have two other Mac Minis that are of the latest design. I have an “Eye TV” USB HD tuner connected to one that’s connected to a substantial external antenna. Depending on atmospheric conditions I can receive up to 18 channels counting the various digital sub channels. This enables the Mac Mini to function as a DVR.

The second Intel Mac Mini is in another room and the Eye TV software also loaded on it is able to work from the other Mac Mini’s shared recordings.

Today I discovered by accident when playing around with iTunes on one of the Intel Mac Minis that the shared videos show up in the shared playlists from other iTunes databases. So, in other words, I can pick a shared iTunes list from the Power PC Mac Mini’s shared iTunes and a list of video files shows up. Since the videos are in the list just like audio would be, I am able to start a video file playing and when one file ends it will immediately start playing the next video file on the list. This is particularly useful because I can start videos playing as I do other things and it will continue to play just as if it’s a TV station. This is quite a handy capability to have. The lack of an ability to set up continuous video playback has long been one of the Apple TV’s biggest shortcomings.

Periodically I go to the Power PC Mac Mini and delete the video files that have been played, since iTunes keeps a play count, so I always have fresh material to watch.


GNC-2010-12-13 #634 On the Mend

Audio only tonight folks voice will not support a live show, plus the bandwidth sucks. Lot’s happening obviously getting healthy is a priority and I’m a lot better. Still planning on doing a listener meetup on Wednesday.

The following Sponsors support GNC your support of them is appreciated!
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Follow @geeknews on Twitter
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Purchase GNC gear from the Ohana Store!
Show Hotline 24/7 1-619-342-7365 or e-mail geeknews@gmail.com

Listener Links
24hr Podcast Schedule.
Australia Medics get iPad.
Kids and iPhone Game Expenses.

Show Notes:
YouTube Trends
More Cuts at Yahoo!
Disclose Tweets!
Gawker completely Hacked!
Voyager 1 Near Edge of Solar Systems.
Accesibility in Windows Mobile.
The Future of Web Video.
Healthcare in Turmoil.
Digital Downloads is not Savior for Music Industry.
NASA Rover Build On-Line.
Solar Explosions blowing Scientist away.
Rocking the Sun.
Look Up.
Internet equals TV Usage.
Boxee Updated.
Sony SD Cards.
Roku Updated.
Track those Packages.
Learn English.
Try Miro.
Geek Wrapping Paper.
Dual Screen Laptop or Tablet?
BitTorrent Throttling in Canada.
Windows 8 Slate.
Need A Lamp?
Do we need the AP?
The Current State of Podcasting.

Millions and Millions Served!

On October 9th 2010 the Geek News Central Podcast will be 6 years old. By the time that show airs, I will have produced 617 episodes of the show. I did some math tonight and was quite shocked on how many downloads we have had of the show! Geek News Central is well into the 8 digit territory.

I’ll be honest I was pretty shocked when I did the math. I have a pretty good handle on the numbers day to day,  because I have been tracking the show stats with a variety of tools since about July of 2005 but honestly the total download number sat me back  in my chair.

The first 9 months of tracking my show downloads are a little fuzzy, thus I had to do some fuzzy math to come up with the first 9 months download totals. At that time it was a challenge in just finding the bandwidth to deliver the show, let alone worry about counting the downloads. In the very very early days I was burning through 250 to 300 Gigabytes of traffic each show, and at the time the most affordable shared hosting account you could get only had 500gb of monthly traffic. In the early days going from 400 to 25,000 subscribers happened pretty quickly it has only been upwards from there.

If I include the 5 years of  CES, and Special Events the number nearly triples. So we are going to have a little fun for the 6 year anniversary show. I will announce a new contest on the show tomorrow, tune in to find out how you can get a chance at a very cool prizes.

Here is the weird part I have not decided if I am going to announce the actual number because it brings out the dogs.

When I shared the total with a podcasting buddy tonight he was not surprised, but I had to do the math twice.  Building this shows audience has not come easy,  in the early days I had several subscriber setbacks, the week I announced my Podcasting book in May of 2005 my audience dropped in half overnight, when I took my first advertiser in June of 2005 the audience dropped again. The hate mail I got over the book deal and taking a sponsor was simply unbelievable. In the early days, I was accused of selling out. Most of the naysayers are gone, a few are still being naysayers but most have podfaded. With the show at 75 minutes it is definitively the upper limit for a one man show.

If I can say one thing, consistency has been the key in growing the audience. At this point doing the show is still of the highest priority to me, a lot of people get their twice weekly time shifted fix of tech news. I continue to experiment with the show in tiny increments, and while the Audio portion of the audience is my bread and butter and is what keeps the lights on and my family fed. The video subscriber numbers though are literally exploding. This is raising it’s own concerns as downloaded Video delivered as a podcast is very expensive to deliver. It cost about .07 cents per viewer to deliver the video portion of the show, and I understand now why some of the big boys have to have bandwidth sponsors for their shows.

“The Morning Tech Show” that I launched three weeks ago seems to be gaining speed, and is on target to meet my internal viewer goals. The goal remains to launch 5 more shows here at Geek News Central before the end of the year. I am still in solicitation mode at this point. There has to be some website changes as well to add more shows, so that has to be done yet, if you want to be tech star send me an email :) and an idea for a show your willing to commit to for 2 years.

If it has been a while since you tuned in, subscribe and pull down a couple of episodes to see where the show is going or watch me on your Roku or Boxee. Looking at my show Stats, this month so far GNC has reached listeners in 177 out of 194 countries with the bottom 3 only getting 1 download each. Not sure what to compare that to but I think it’s cool that I have a global audience.

We will have some fun on the anniversary show and give away some prizes.  I want to thank all of the Ohana that have helped get us to this point in the shows development. Someday with a lot of work maybe we can say billions and billions served but that’s only a dream at this point.


State of the Podcast Sphere Part 1

I look forward to writing this post each year, but I  have to admit some of the data results cannot be expressed properly on this blog. On one hand I want to applaud podcast host that get it, but for a great many others I wish I could simply scream and shake them by the shoulders and say wake the hell up.

The results make it apparent that the reason many of your shows are not growing, is because a percentage of have set yourselves up for failure. Many have failed to do the basics on their websites to make it easy for listeners to consume the content.

We examined Podcasters sites that received more than 10 nominations during the 2009 Podcast Awards Nomination Period. A total of 2381 sites were reviewed.

NOTE: The below information has nothing to do with how the podcast awards voting slate is derived. This is a seperate effort I undertake each year to get a sampling of what is happening in the podcasting space and on podcasters sites.

If you quote these numbers in your own blog post please provide a link back to the source data as I have went to considerable expense to provide these numbers free to the podcasting community. My personal company Podcast Connect paid for this.

Base Review consisted of 2381 Sites:

21% Had Invalid Podcast RSS Feeds.
59% Had Feeds with Errors but where Valid.
51% Had an RSS Icon on their default landing page that was a Blog Feed only.
21% Had an RSS Icon on their default landing page that was Podcast Ready.
23% Had a Podcast RSS Feeds Buried on a SubPage in their Website
44% Of Sites had a Podcast RSS feed we could subscribe to!
81% Had a Visible iTunes Subscription Icon on their default landing Page.
93% Had a Visible iTunes Subscription Icon someplace in their website.
6% Had a Visible Zune Marketplace Icon on their websites. (See Note Below)
43% Had a Visible e-mail contact address on their website.
14% Had a Newsletter sign-up page.
11% Had a call in number for listeners to comment on their shows.
88% of the sites had good unique website branding.
59% Had less than one paragraph of show notes for their past 5 podcast.
51% Had a physical download Link on their websites.
71% Were Creating Audio Only.
9% Were Creating Video Only.
20% Were Creating Audio and Video.
23% Number of Podcasters Blogging as well as Podcast content.
19% Where creating Audio, Video & Blog Posts
66% Of total Nominations were Shows creating Audio, Video and Blog Posts
3% of Sites where mobile phone ready (iPhone, Android, Palm Pre)
37% Did not have their show listed on Blubrry.com
51% Did not have their show listed on PodcastAlley.com
14% Did not have their show listed on Podcast.com
41% Had a Twitter Link on their website
53% Had a Facebook Link on their website

While I think the data points paint an obvious picture let me lay out a few of the obvious points.

Source RawVoice: Do podcasters realize the Zune has been responsible for 17% overall increase in unique podcast listeners over the past two years? I question why podcasters would ignore a huge segment of potential listeners by not carrying a Zune subscribe icon on their website.

There are 100’s of devices that cannot sync to iTunes, and by not having a Podcast RSS feed visible on the main page of their websites, that they are simply not reaching those listeners. This includes the millions of people who have smart phones.

Why do we continue to see such jacked up RSS feeds?

Five years into podcasting and podcasters still do not understand that RSS is the lifeblood of their podcasts. It blows me away that it is impossible to find Podcast RSS feeds on popular podcasters sites. I find it striking that I can find links to people’s Facebook pages, but have a hard time finding a link to subscribe to their shows.

Smartly some podcasters are learning that they cannot rely on Audio or Video alone that they have to a variety of media. Audio, Video, Blogging

Show Notes: Some Podcasters are finally waking up and finding out that Google can be their friend and that by writing comprehensive show notes results in more traffic to their websites.

I will let you do your own interpretation of Part 1 of my report, but I am convinced the success of my personal show is largely to do with content creators not doing the basics to be found, seen, heard and subscribed to.

Part 2 will be a comprehensive look at how podcast networks are playing a key role for podcasters.

I do want to extend a big thank you to the team in the Philippines that did this work.