Tools I Like, Tools I Loathe

Like most bloggers, I use a variety of tools and applications to get things done.

But while many of the tools that I use have me enthralled and singing their praises, others leave me frustrated and seeking a better solution, only to be dismayed that none seem to be available.

The problem is that, as with most things in life, the best solution is not always the most popular one (Ex: VHS beat Beta). Sometimes we get brilliant answers to difficult problems and other times we’re left with something a bit more frustrating.

In honor of that, I’ve decided to highlight some of the tools that I use daily and love, as well as some of the ones that I’m hoping to find replacements for.

[Read more…]

Do You Podcast? Are You Going to Podcast on Your Blog?

Yesterday, I brought up the issue of podcasts in What Makes Podcasts Fun To Listen To? The post asked what makes your favorite podcasts fun and successful in your eyes in format and structure.

Podcasts on blogs are growing in popularity. With portable media players, especially iPods, more affordable and accessible, people are downloading podcasts in addition to music. I’m finding podcasts on file sharing services and media marketplaces beyond iTunes. With the ease of adding multimedia to our blogs improving, it’s natural that we want to explore communication beyond the written word and still photographs.

Today, I want to know if you are podcasting on your blog, or if you are considering podcasting.

If you are podcasting, how is it working for you? Are you finding the experience successful? Is traffic and readership increasing? How are you podcasting? Alone or with a host? More than two hosts? How is that working for you?

What equipment and software are you using? How do you record interviews, edit the audio, convert the audio into various formats, and what is the easiest and hardest aspects of podcasting? We want to learn from you, so tell us how your podcasting efforts are working and how it’s evolved as you’ve learned along the way.

Are you considering adding a podcast to your blog? Why? Have you thought about the format, structure, how to handle the files with uploading, downloading, publicizing, and sharing? Will you add music? From where? Copyright free content, your own original music, or what?

Will your podcast feature just you or will you have more than one host? Considering adding interviews? How? What technology are you considering to add access for interviews and co-hosts? What programs are you considering for editing your recordings?

There are a lot of technical issues that confront bloggers who want to podcast, which keeps many from podcasting. Yet, there is a growing collection of technology that makes the process easier and faster.

Let’s talk about how podcasts work for blogs, or not, and how you can save time generating podcast recordings and publishing on your blog.

What Makes Podcasts Fun To Listen To?

I’ve been listening to a lot of blogger podcasts lately covering a wide range of subjects. Most have a fairly standard format of introduction, preview of the show to come, then news, interviews, and a summary, but some just jump right in and wander all over the place.

Well-written blog posts tend to have a single objective which is supported by about three solid points. It includes links to more information or supporting evidence, images and screenshots, and typically encourages comments to continue the conversation.

A podcast is a multi-level conversation that happens within the podcast itself as well as within the blog and back again. A podcast typically covers many objectives, often repeated features with each episode, making a podcast into a combination multiple blog post and link list.

Some podcasters use very little music on their shows. Some use a lot. Some incorporate ads and promos from other blogs and online businesses, just as blogs do, and others do not. Some feature multiple voices led by a single host or many, with interviews, live or recorded questions and answers, and commentaries. Many more feature a single voice.

With so much diversity in podcasting, which podcasts do you enjoy the most and why? What elements do you look forward to in a podcast, and which ones do you wish would go?

As more and more bloggers are discovering how easy podcasting is, adding an audio element to their blogs, what do you think about podcasting? Will you soon be adding one to your blog?

BlogTalkRadio Secures $4.6m in Funding

Podcasting service BlogTalkRadio have secured $4.6 million in Series A funding, which sparked a piece in the Bits blog, and an announcement post in the official blog of course:

We simply couldn’t be more excited about how this company is evolving and now we have the capital in place to accomplish many things. We are planning major enhancements to our user interface and user experience. We will invest in content and distribution as well as further developing our ad sales platform. We are also looking at developing many new products including a highly differentiated video platform, audio to text transcription applications and much more.

Congratulations are in order. Now let’s see what they’ll do with the dough.

AudioJungle Launches, Marketplace for Loops

Eden launches AudioJungle, a community for selling music loops, jingles, and stuff like that. Much like another Eden site, FlashDen, which you might know off. Adrien wrote the launch post, and Collis pimped it even more over at Nettuts, PSDtuts, and Freelance Switch, all sites in the Eden network.

Congratulations on your launch, I wouldn’t be surprised if AudioJungle will be a nice little cash flow for sound and music producers, and a great source for podcasters.

Belkin to launch GoStudio podcasting solution for iPod users

Belkin Podcast Studio

Belkin Podcast Studio

Belkin seems to love both iPods and podcasters, so it’s no surprise that one of their latest products is aimed at budding iPod-owning podcasters.

I took a look at a prototype of the Belkin GoStudio in London a week ago. The product is so new that a production model wasn’t even available, which is a shame as it sounds like a great product and I would like to have had a play with it.

A much cut down version of their four-channel TuneStage iPod recorder, the battery-powered unit will feature built-in microphone and various recording controls, as well as offering full integration with iTunes and other Apple software.

Belkin says that the audio quality will be “superior”, though you wouldn’t expect them to say anything less. What’s great is the price — expected to be around £80 (about $150). Expected to arrive, at least in the UK, in June.

(Via Tech Digest)

What Orphan Works Could Mean to Bloggers

The orphan works legislation, last seen in 2006, now has the attention of Congress again with two similar bills, one in the House and one in the Senate. These bills, should either of them pass, could have a drastic impact on copyright holders both within and outside of the United States.

But what should bloggers expect from this bill? How can Internet-based authors work to avoid having their work becoming “orphaned”?

The answer depends heavily on the kind of work you do and how much protection you want for it. However, what is clear is that at least some bloggers have a good reason to be concerned and should consider taking steps now to avoid a problem down the road. [Read more…]

Hivelogic’s Podcasting Equipment Guide

A few months old at this point, but since the demise of my beloved Podcast Rigs, there’s not alot of great content out there about podcast rigs…

Hivelogic has posted a great podcasting equipment guide that would serve a new or experienced podcaster well. The post runs the gamut from very entry level systems up to a strong prosumer system that is quite a bit more expensive.

You can, of course, also read about the Blog Herald Podcasting Rig

ProToolerBlog Goes German

Audival blogger Stefan Hedengren (yes, he’s my brother) just launched his ProTools blog ProToolerBlog in a German edition: The German editor is named George Necola, and although talks about the partnership were in the works before Musikmesse 2008, the meetup there made all the difference.

It’s important to have a face to put on the name. Everything suddenly become much more serious and you’re just not another blogger hiding behind a computer screen in your bedroom.

Says Stefan, who did indeed find the show floor to be a great place to connect with people:

I strongly encourage you to go out and actually meet people in your business. Go to trade fairs, book meetings, etc., etc. It will raise your business to a whole new level.

Check out ProToolerBlog and its German equivalent, as well as Stefan’s work for podcasters over at Audival.

Connect With Readers Over the Phone

While certainly not the first free Web-based conference call system, Rondee might be an ideal tool for bloggers and podcasters.

The site takes the expense and equipment out of conference calling, making it available to the everyday, financially challenged blogger. Your only expense is a long distance call (though, that could be quite high for folks not in America. the area code you need to dial is based in San Diego, CA).

Anyone with a telephone can teleconference. All you have to do is schedule your call, send out e-mail invitations to each invitee, dial 619-2-RONDEE, enter the pin # you’ve been issued, and chat it up.

Potential uses: Bloggers can set up conferences with readers; blog networks can coordinate with writers scattered around the world; podcasters can conduct telephone interview.

If the organizer chooses to record a call, all participants will be notified and the audio will be made available in GSM, which can be converted to a WAV file.

With no software to download, Rondee could be nice alternative to Skype or TalkShoe.

The question is, do bloggers want to take their relationship with readers off the Web?