One year with Google Android G1 compared to 6 months with an iPhone 3GS

I’ve had my Google Android G1 phone for over a year now, and I have a lot of good and bad things to say about it. I’ve had my iPhone 3GS for just over 6 months now and have come to a number of conclusions why I don’t like the iPhone and prefer Android.

In a nutshell, G1 hardware sucks, Android OS and applications rock. iPhone hardware is rock solid, iPhone OS, though easy to use, is very limited and applications do not seem to be as innovative, most likely a result of the limited OS. Lucky for Android users, there are now more than a 1/2 dozen better Android phones to pick from with more available in the coming months.

I got the Android G1 phone back in October of 2008, about a week after it came out. The first 24 hours with the phone was frustrating. Once I read the manual that came with the phone and watched a couple videos, I quickly understood how the phone worked and went from frustrated to enlightened. I’ve met a number of other folks who had a G1 for a few days and then quickly returned them. I suspect if they just spent the time to read the manual their experience would have been a better one.

I got the iPhone 3G S this past summer, essentially a week after the 3G S phone was released. The 3G S is provided by work. Being in the podcasting and new media business, it was important that I have and use a iPhone because it makes up such a large portion of the podcasting market share. It was easy for me to start using the iPhone, I never had to refer to a manual to get started. Coming from Android though, I quickly came to the realization how limited the iPhone is. I will get more into that shortly.

My Analogy of iPhone vs Android: An iPhone is like a desk, it can handle lots of work, but the only way the work gets done is if you do it. An Android phone is like having two desks with a secretary; one for you and another with a secretary working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You still have to do your work, but it is nice to have your secretary tell you when you get new email, future appointments, Facebook reply, Tweet message or if there’s a flood warning.

This is my biggest frustration with the iPhone. I’ve been told by some iPhone users that the phone can be hacked to do what I can do with my Android phone. But that’s not quite how things work in Android. Not only can multiple applications run at the same time on Android, but all push type notification for things like Twitter, Facebook, Weather alerts, etc.. all funnel into a single stream of notifications that are easily accessible at the top of the screen. Even with a hacked iPhone, the user has to load the specific app to see if anything has changed.

I’m indifferent in opinion if the iPhone should evolve to be a multi-tasking push notifying device like Android. Referring back to my original frustration with the G1, I think there will always be a market for a simple one task at a time, only work when I tell you to work phone. I have a feeling that Apple did this on purpose so users can start using the phone quickly without frustration. Keep it simple works for most.

Unfortunately for Apple, I’m not most people. I have a lot of work to do all the time. Android, though it is initially more complicated than the iPhone, simply does more.

Hardware wise, the iPhone is definitely a well built phone. I am not at all worried that something will break or fail on the phone. I cannot same the say about my HTC G1, after 1 year of use it feels aged.

Some specific features missing in the iPhone found in Android:

  • Multi-color LED light: Applications in Android take advantage of this. I setup my twitter app to blink cyan when I have new tweets for example.
  • Desktop Widgets: I never have to load the calendar or weather applications, I can see what my next appointment is and the weather simply by looking at my home screen.
  • Micro SD card: Comes in handy, I’ve actually downloaded documents on my G1 then plugged the SD card into my laptop.
  • Notifications Bar: Applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Weather Bug, system updates, etc.. add little notifications in an easy to access list available by pulling down the top of my screen with my finger like a curtain.
  • Google Voice: iPhone doesn’t have this functionality, not because it can’t, but because they didn’t allow it. Sad because Android has 2 applications for Google Voice, one made by Google and another called GV made by Evan Charlton which is even better than the Google version.

Some things about the Android G1 phone I don’t like:

  • Hardware on the G1 seems weak. I’ve seen other G1’s where the sliding mechanism feels very sloppy. Since I’ve seen that I’ve been very careful when I open/close my G1. The plastic clear cover over my camera lens has cracked and I find the plastic used on the phone to be of a poor quality.
  • Camera is slow – I thought this was a problem with Android, but I’ve seen the Hero take pictures faster and they’re much more crisp compared to my phone.
  • Touch keyboard in Android sucks – It can be improved, the only thing I do like is the short vibrate on button touch feature. I haven’t seen Android 2.0, reportedly the touch keyboard is much better on it.
  • No 3.5mm audio jack – I have to use a Mini USB to 3.5mm adapter in order to plug headphones into the phone.

Applications noted with an asterisk* are applications I highly recommend.

Applications I use on iPhone (besides what comes with the phone):

  • NPR News* – If you like NPR, this is a pretty good app.
  • WordPress 2.0* – App made by Automattic.com for working with your WordPress blog. Prefer the wpToGo but moderating comments with this app is superior.
  • Bump* – Exchanging contacts by bumping phones
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • PogoPlug – Works with your pogoplug account.
  • Pandora – Streaming radio
  • NASA – Keep track with NASA missions
  • WeatherBug

Applications I use on Android (besides what comes with the phone):

  • KeePassDroid – Android version of KeePass
  • ShopSavvy* – scan bar codes while at the store and get both regional store and online compared pricing
  • TasKiller (Free/Pro) lets you kill tasks that run in the background, useful if you want to extend battery life
  • AndroZip File Manager – Handle/create Zip files on the phone.
  • Bluetooth File Transfer – Exchange files with other Android phones
  • AndFTP – FTP client
  • Wifi Analyzer* – Analyze all the Wifi signals so you can determine the best channel for your wireless access point.
  • Key Ring Reward Cards* – Scan all your grocery store and box store cards into your phone. More abou this app below.
  • wpToGo* – similar to WordPress 2.0, works better for writing posts, but the WordPress app for the iPhone moderates comments better.
  • Listen* – Podcatcher (audio only at present) that runs in the background and downloads any size media. I’ll write more about this app near the bottom of this post.
  • T-Mobile Visual Voicemail – just like visual voicemail on iPhone. I prefer the interface better tahn the Voicemail on iPhone actually.
  • Pandora – Streaming radio
  • WeatherBug* – Way better than WeatherBug on the iPhone becuase it has a desktop widget and adds notifications to my notifications bar in Android. Other than that, it’s similar to the WeatherBug app on iPhone.
  • httpmon HTTP Server Monitor – Monitors web sites.
  • Barcode Scanner – Alternative to Bump, all your contacts have square barcodes you can use this to scan in or give out your contact information easily.
  • Voice Recorder – Simple application for recording.
  • FxCamera – Camera app that lets you add effects
  • Tuner – gStrings – lets you tune your instruments with the phone
  • Qik* – Stream video from your phone’s camera live on 3g or Wifi (unlike the iPhone)
  • Snap Photo Pro* – Camera app with a lot of options (default camera doesn’t have that many), it is worth buying this application.
  • PogoPlug – Works with your pogoplug account.
  • T-Mobile My Account – Get account usage and also monitors battery life
  • Facebook for Android
  • Scoreboard – Follow sports teams
  • ConnectBot – SSH client
  • GV* – Google Voice application, works better than the one by Google
  • Bubble – Level application
  • iTweet* – Twitter application, more about it below
  • ToggleWifi– Toggle on-off Wifi from a desktop icon.
  • ToggleBlu – Toggle on-off bluetooth from a desktop icon.
  • Rings Extended – Use any audio on your phone as an audio setting for any application that uses notifications.

Key Ring Reward Cards

This has to be one of my favorite applications on Android. I used to have a half dozen of those cards on my key chain. Sometimes I would go to the grocery store with my other keys and not even have my reward card on me. Now both of my sets of keys are free of these stupid cards. There is also a cool factor when the person behind you sees you using a phone rather than your keys to scan in your rewards.

Listen (Google Labs Podcatcher for Android)

The Google Listen podcatcher is way better than iTunes on the iPhone. It does not have the 10MB limit on 3g like the iPhone does. It also has a pretty easy to use listen queue that allows you to organize the podcast episodes you want to listen to into a simple list. Anything in your listen queue automatically gets downloaded in the background. The application has a lot of potential. The only major downfall of the application currently is its search. You would think anything having to do with Search and Google would be brilliant, but finding podcasts in the Listen app is nothing but brilliant. The trick I’ve found is to search for episodes based on the episodes show notes. Searching for a podcast program is futile at best, but by episode notes typically works every time. You can add podcasts manually by RSS feed as well.

i Tweet (Twitter app for Android)

Not to be confused with iTweet.net, the i (space) Tweet app on Android is the best phone interface designed Twitter application I’ve seen to date. I was using Twitroid for a while, but found its memory usage  and clunky interface got to be quite annoying. i Tweet works in the same way and can run in the background to make use of the notifications features built into Android. When my phone blinks cyan, I know I got tweets waiting for me.

UPDATE!

I noticed I missed some other Android applications that I am using. Here’s the remainder of the list:

  • Toddler Lock – Locks the screen so toddlers can play with the phone. makes sounds and displays color shapes.
  • BistroMath – Calculate tips when dining out.
  • Compass – What direction is north.
  • ASCII Chart – Displays the ascii chart and its numeric values (for programmers)
  • GPS Speedo – can detect yoru speed when GPS is enabled.
  • Where – Find dining, shopping, etc.. based on your current location
  • Pick a # – Lets you randomly get a number based on a range you specify.

Here are some more apps suggested from Matt Gunn:

  • Movies – Display currently playing movies at nearby Theaters
  • SportsTap – Sports portal like Scoreboard
  • Foursquare – Explore major cities
  • Robo Defense – game

Blog World and New Media Expo 2009 Wrap Up

I’m back from Blog World and New Media Expo 2009. What a weekend! At first I didn’t know what to think of the weekend but now that I’m home going through all the swag and business cards I gathered, I think the  Blog World and New Media Expo merger was a good thing.

The trip started early Wednesday morning for me. Without even leaving Columbus, I ran into Lewis Howes at the Airport. What a great guy too! I’ve seen him at other events including this year’s PodCamp Ohio but never actually had the opportunity to talk with him. It was awesome to connect, it’s not every day you meet a book author!

Once in Las Vegas, I met up with the Blubrry/RawVoice team. For the rest of the day we hung out at the pool, figured out our plan for the weekend, and then had dinner. That evening most of us were up till 1am networking at the Tempo lounge/bar. We ran into a lot of folks that evening including Average Betty, Kosso, and Geekazine. It was also great meeting with the rest of the team (Rob, Michael, Jenni, Cathy, Todd, Barry, Jeff, Brian).

Thursday morning Brian (Bj) and I walked down to the Peppermill for breakfast to check it out. Bj pointed out that the parking lot was nearly empty, but the inside was packed! Before we ate we checked out the lounge room where the Blubrry Party was going to take place. I was blown away by how cool it was. I’ll get into more detail later in this post! Bj and I then had breakfast, which I must say was awesome!

Later that morning we went to the convention center to setup our Blubrry exhibitor booth. Somehow I talked Rob and Brian into folding the t-shirts, which became T-ShirtFoldingCamp.  Below is a picture of our show notes pad (swag), Blubrry Party invite with drink tickets, Blubrry sticker, PowerPress handout and our new Blog Louder t-shirt. Oh, and Ty wanted to be in the picture too!

DSCF4277a (Large)

Once we had the booth setup, we returned to the Peppermill with the entire team for lunch. After lunch we relaxed at the Hilton’s hot tub.

That evening the Blubrry/RawVoice team went out to dinner at the Les Artistes Steakhouse for dinner. This was our only real chance to get everyone together, so we made the best of it. I had an excellent steak and I can honestly say I did not need any Worcestershire sauce.

After dinner, most of the team went to the Tempo Louge to wind down. Unfortunately, I was dead tired and had to crash early.

Friday was the big day. I woke up early that morning to run through my slides for my session on Setting up WordPress for Podcasting at WordCamp Las Vegas held within the Blog World exhibit floor. We then headed over to the convention center pumped for the expo. Through the day traffic was heavy, I didn’t get to eat lunch until 2, and at that point all of the concessions were out of food. At 12:45 I had my session, which went ok except for the interruption by the exhibit hall speaker system. Promptly after my session I spoke with a number of interesting folks and exchanged business cards. Back at the booth traffic was still heavy. Unlike previous years, our podcast show note pads were not the most popular item folks were grabbing from our booth. Believe it or not, our hand outs were more popular than our swag. We handed out a lot of sheets about our podcasting communities, services and Blubrry PowerPress podcasting plugin for WordPress. The same was true for Saturday as well as Friday, folks were more interested in what we did than our t-shirts and show note pads.

Friday evening we had dinner at Casa Nicola. Company was great, but the food was awful. This was really the only bad meal I had all weekend.

Friday night was the Blubrry BlogLouder party! We arrived about 30 minutes early, which gave us time to figure out the place and down a couple drinks. Promptly at 9:00 pm, folks started making there way in and before I knew it the place was packed. Bj’s fiancee Aileen and Mat Luschek organized the party and they did an awesome job! For the first 2 hours they had 2 show girls greet guests as they came in and later in the evening Tiny Elvis and a Magician entertained guests. There was plenty of food and a live DJ as well. Here’s a link to Mat’s flickr page of party photos.

Saturday morning Brian, Rob and I had breakfast at the Paradise Cafe in the Hilton. I had really good buttermilk pancakes, another surprise as I was expecting mediocre breakfast.

After breakfast started day two of the Blubrry booth at Blog World. Traffic was lighter, even so we still did some networking and helped out a few Blubrry members. At noon they started setting up concessions with platters of different foods and a couple cash bars. I am not sure if that was planned or not, I had no idea they were going to do that. You would think they would have done that Friday as well as Saturday.

When the floor closed at 3:30, we spent the next hour and a half shipping all of the T-shirts, signage and swag. We carried all our packages to the The Fedex Kinkos on the north end of the convention center. We didn’t know there was a Kinko’s in the south end where we were. The Fedex Kinkos we went to refused to add insurance to our packages since they were being shipped ground rather than 1-2 day air. I can’t believe you can’t insure packages shipped FedEX unless it is air. Our main concern was our company signage, we just invested a lot of money into our banners, it would suck if they were damaged soon after the expo. FedEX, this is a real problem, you know you can ship ground packages with insurance with your main competitor UPS?

kinkos (Large)

Once the expo packages were sorted, everyone went back to their rooms to take power naps, showers, etc… I took the time to catch up on email and twitter.

That Saturday night Blog World hosted a BBQ poolside at the Hilton. At the last minute, we grabbed some stickers and t-shirts in case we wanted to do some networking. Once we got there we all came to a consensus that we should take a break and just hang out and have a little fun. I didn’t expect the BBQ to be any good, but I have to admit that the ribs were actually the best I’ve had in a while. I also had a Bud Light aluminum bottle, first time I seen them before. Following the BBQ was Tech Karaoke. A lot of the gang stayed later for that, unfortunately I was pretty tired and called it a night.

Some vendors that stood out this year were FatBurger, Ford, Healthy Choice, Adam Corolla and TechSmith. I never herd of FatBurger so it was great to hear about the company as well as sample some of their burgers. They gave all their burgers sizes similar to T-shirts except for their very large burger. Sizes are S, M, L, XL, and WTF. The WTF size is just that! Ford had a pretty cool booth actually, it was rather large and clean (not a lot of junk all over). It wasn’t until we stopped at the booth that we found out we could test drive some cars outside. So Bj test drove a Taurus SHO and I test drove a Mustang GT. Pretty neat cars, that Mustang was fast!  Healthy Choice was giving away samples of their food. I have to thank Healthy Choice actually, without their booth I would not have had any food on Friday. I’m a big Adam Corolla fan and was looking forward to the Top Gear TV show last year that unfortunately was canceled (stupid networks). I’m glad to see that he had a table at the expo. I think it was a smart move, it’s an indication that he is taking podcasting seriously. TechSmith also had a booth. They have a new mascot called Screennoms, which adds a more informal way for them to market their brand. Smart idea Betsy! Here’s a pic of some of the swag I got.

DSCF4281 (Large)

In my opinion, This year’s Blog World and New Media Expo was a success. I am rather baffled by how many podcasting companies were not present at the expo. Even if the attendance wasn’t what they expected, at least having a small booth would send a better message to the public that they support the industry. Either way, I can’t wait until next year and you better believe Blubrry will be there!

Post New Media Expo 2008

What a week! Heather and I traveled to Las Vegas last week, where we promptly went to Salt Lake City to visit friends for a few days before the New Media Expo. First, my Avis Car Rental rant.

Avis Car Rental

I paid an extra $10 a day to rent a Chevy Cobalt or equivalent from Avis rather than from other car rental places such as Budget or Enterprise because Avis offered a that size car with cruise control. I specifically wanted a compact car because of the price of gas.

When it was time to pick up the car, they didn’t have a Cobalt or any sub compact car available. They had a very compact car that didn’t have cruise control or a full size car. After arguing with them, they finally found me a PT Cruiser. Reluctantly I accepted this and went on my way. As Heather and I got into the car to head to Utah, I noticed that the car didn’t have cruise control. Agg! I then turned around, went back in and at this point I was fuming! When I came back in and insisted on speaking to a manager, they just so happen to get a Cobalt avaialble for me to rent. Man was I not happy. So we got the rental car we wanted and we were on our way.

When we were just north of Las Vegas, we started looking at the car closely. We discovered that not only did we get a sub compact car with cruise control, we also had an XM radio, OnStar, a CD mp3 player with an auxiliary input jack and heated seats. Aside from the lack of power in the engine, this car was nicer than my 2007 Honda Civic Si!

Will I rent from Avis again? Maybe, I’m not sure. I talked to a few other people who have rented cars over the past few months and they all have had a similar situation with other rental places. It sounds like many people who rent cars are no longer opting for the free full size car upgrades, which is making it harder for the car rental places to keep the sub compact cars in stock.

Salt Lake City

It’s a very pretty town. Lots of Wal-Marts! Very high gas prices too. It was great seeing our friends! Thanks Kirk and Katie for a great time in SLC!

On the way to SLC we spent the night at a Fairfield Inn hotel in st. George. I accidentally left my mp3 player in the room. I called them and they found it and kept it for me in their safe till I could stop by and pick it up. Great service, if I ever need a hotel in St. George again, I’m staying at that hotel. Thank you Heather, the Fairfield Inn employee who contacted me about the mp3 player.

Salt Lake City HomelessWe got to see the downtown area and the Mormon grounds. I’m not sure what this area is called, I’m sure I’ll get comments about what it is called. It was very pretty but I was a bit upset to find out that I couldn’t go into some of the buildings because I was not Mormon. I may not be the best Catholic or Christian, but this seems to go against what I was taught. As we walked just outside of the grounds, we saw a homeless child walking down the street. I mean no offense to those who are Mormon, but there’s no way I could practice such a religion. Blame my Catholic background or Midwest mentality, but that’s not how we do things where I come from.

New Media Expo 2008

The New Media Expo this year was awesome, from a vendors perspective having a booth that is. The first day was rather slow, reminded me of last year’s Sunday, which was a 1/2 day with very sparce attendee traffic. Friday was in full force though, and I was told Saturday had pretty good traffic as well. It was too bad Saturday was a 1/2 day, cause it sounded like it out performed Thursday’s attendee traffic.

We shipped a lot of swag to the New Media expo. Over 250 pounds worth of show notepads (1,500 roughly), which we (RawVoice) are known for. This year we handed out about 250 pads, or 42 pounds. We had plenty of people come to the booth that weren’t interested in the swag. My theory is, since there was no sponsor for a New Media Expo swag bag during registration, attendees didn’t have a bag to put swag into and there for weren’t interested in carrying swag around in their hands. What a bummer too, since you can buy a box of 500 bags for less than $50. Anyway, this may not be the factor why not as much swag was handed out, but it makes sense to me.

Coverville 500 Concert

CovervilleWe (RawVoice and Blubrry.com) were a sponsor of the Coverville 500 concert at the New Media Expo this year. I am certainly proud to support these events which promote new media and podcasting. The show was awesome! From the numbers I’ve herd, they had about 600 attend the show. What’s exciting to say, we (Blubrry) gave away over 130 tickets to Blubrry.com, TechPodcasts.com and PodcasterNews.com community members. That’s over 20% of the guests who attended the show who have used one or more of the web sites I’ve helped develop over the years. I’m so proud to be part of this magic.

All of the acts during the concert were awesome. The last artist was Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine. Musicly, they sounded great. There was an issue though, which if you’re following all the buzz around Coverville or New Media Expo then you already know what went down during the last act. My take on the whole thing: Richard Cheese has been misleading the podcasting and new media community. The weeks before the expo, I went to Richard Cheese’s web site and saw that he was supportive of podcasters playing his content in their podcasts, so as long as no one profits from it. Sounds like someone who gets the whole podcasting and new media space to me, I couldn’t wait to see him live. Well during the first song performed by Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, Richard expressed to the podcasting and new media audience that he didn’t want them to use cameras. At first, I thought he was just being funny, part of the act. Anyone who gets podcasting and new media knows each artist who played at Coverville had an opportunity of a life time: have a bunch of tech savvy bloggers and podcasters do their thing to promote the artists on their blogs and podcasts. By the end of the first song, it was pretty obvious that Richard Cheese wasn’t interested in growing his audience or taking advantage of the marketing that would have come from all of the audio/video taken from the show but was more concerned with his self image. He grabbed a camera, threw it at the audience and then spit on others in the crowd. Well, bloggers and podcasters are vocal when they think they’re getting a raw deal, and Richard Cheese should expect a wrath of negative publicity, because face it, he took an opportunity to get a huge amount of positive publicity and flipped it negative within 1 song.

One perspective: If we were news reporters, would Richard Cheese have taken the video camera and thrown it or spit on the camera man? Anyway, this whole incident reminds me of the SEOColumbus/DSW/Zappos Twitter incident. You can’t say or do stupid things in public or on publicly accessible web sites. If you do, you the world will find out about it.

New Media Expo 2009 Suggestions

I think the New Media Expo could be considerably improved so it can grow additional traffic. Here’s some thoughts.

  • Return the Peoples Choice Podcast Awards – I’m not sure what the real story is why the Peoples Choice Awards were not at the New Media Expo, but it should have been at the Expo this year. I think this one extra event during the expo would have helped encourage more podcasters to come out to the Expo. Todd and Tim, work it out and make it happen next year.
  • Coverville 652 – Definitely need a Coverville concert for next years expo. Actually, if it wasn’t for Coverville, I suspect many podcasters would not have come out to the Expo.
  • Change the Sessions – I think the whole idea of sessions at a conference needs to be seriously looked at. I’m not sure what the magic bullet is, but perhaps a PodCamp format would be more ideal. Technically they can’t have a “PodCamp” since the new media expo is a profitable event, but who is to say there’s a PodCamp at the New Media Expo that’s managed and funded separately from the rest of the expo?  There’s a huge audience of podcasters who don’t bother with the New Media Expo becuase they’re part of the PodCamp franchise. I think if there is a way to make PodCamp part of the New Media Expo you will get these high profile folks to finally come out. This is key since they represent pretty much all of the New Media that’s going on along the East Coast.
  • No more 1/2 day – I think the best formula is a 2 day event. After attending these first 4 Portable Media, Podcast and New Media Expo’s, I think the best formula would be a Friday and Saturday full day conference. It allows for those who have full time jobs to come in for a full day on Saturday while offering two weekend evenings for serious events like another Coverville.
  • Ontario, California – As I suspected, having the event in Las Vegas made for a lot of distractions. I think the expo should return to Ontario, California simply because it puts the expo as the primary reason for being their, where Vegas created situations with too many options. The Wednesday and Thursday nights, it was hard to figure out who was at the casino hotel for the New Media Expo, and who was there for other reasons. Basically, New Media Expo hotel attendees were morphed by many more hotel guests who were their for other reasons that were more profitable for the hotel.

Conclusion

It’s taken me almost a week to catch up following the Expo. I still have to send emails to the folks I met at the Expo, which I’ll be doing this weekend. Did I have a great time? Oh yea! Will I go again next year? You bet!

Blubrry Powerpress podcasting plugin for WordPress

The new Blubrry Powerpress podcasting plugin for WordPress is now available. This is a very light weight podcasting plugin for WordPress to provide only the fundamental features for hosting a podcast on a WordPress blog.

Features:

  • Easily add/modify/remove podcast episodes from blog posts
  • Integrated media player
  • iTunes RSS tags
  • iTunes album/cover art
  • upload new iTunes/RSS cover art
  • Ping iTunes
  • Media size detection
  • Duration detection (mp3 only)
  • 3rd party statistics integration

Add podcast episode to post screen:
Add Podcast

Cross section of settings page:
Cross section of settings page

For over a year now we (RawVoice) have talked about working with the existing podcasting plugin for WordPress to get it to support storing podcast episode information in the native enclosure format in WordPress. After a lack of interest from that plugin’s developer to work with us (I think working with us would have conflicted with his work with one of our competitors), we decided we would create our own WordPress plugin. Even though we decided we would write our own podcasting plugin for WordPress, the idea was not accelerated until the latest version of WordPress 2.6 came out 3 weeks ago. The latest version quickly caused issues in the podcasting space. Since many of our podcasters on Blubrry use WordPress for distributing their Podcast, we decided it was integral that we provide a light weight podcast plugin alternative that would be more reliable for our podcasters to use. The last thing we wanted was our podcasters to fall out of podcasting simply because their web site was no longer functioning.

Within the first week of WordPress 2.6 being released, I designed the initial feature set listed above and we hired a developer to start development of the plugin. He did a great job of getting the plugin it to a beta stage within one weeks time. Following his work, I took the project over and polished it and optimized the code over the course of this past week. Many of the changes and enhancements I made were to streamline the plugin so it would utilize the least amount of server resources as possible.

An example where I took extra care to optimize the plugin was with how it detects the duration (time in hours, minutes and seconds) of mp3 files. The other podcasting plugin available uses Ajax to tell the wordpress blog to download the complete episode to detect the duration. This ends up creating very long executing script on the server to download very large media file just to calculate the duration. I developed code that only downloads the first few hundred kilobytes of a file in order to read the ID3 tag information. The result is very smooth and fast detection of the duration information saving server resources.

If you’re a podcaster looking for a well designed and light weight podcasting plugin for wordpress, I strongly encourage you to check out the Blubrry Powerpress. Please let me know what you think and if you have feature suggestions or comments.

Link: www.blubrry.com/powerpress/

podcastFAQ.com everything you need to know about podcasting

podcastFAQ.comI’m proud to announce that podcastFAQ.com is now available. podcastFAQ.com aims to be the starting point for podcasters and enthusiasts looking for information relevant to the industry.

The web site came from conversations Brian Yuhnke and I had following my visit to PodCamp Arizona. Many session speakers referred to tuns of web sites for podcasters to go to for information on specific topics. At the end of the day, I had about 40 different web sites to check out and they weren’t organized very well. About the same time, Rob Safuto left RawVoice which put the documentation responsibilities on the rest of the RawVoice team. After a few chat and phone conversations with Brian, we came to the conclusion that a wiki would be the ideal way to get the site started.

Once we discussed the idea with the rest of the RawVoice team, everyone at RawVoice went to work taking our own scattered documents and organizing them into the site you see today. As we were developing this web site, Todd Cochrane found the ideal domain name in his portfolio of registered domains, podcastFAQ.com.

As we developed and organized the content, we quickly discovered that we had a lot of missing information. To keep with the feel of the industry, we decided to make the home page of the site as honest as possible to encourage others to contact us with ideas and content.

We made a soft launch of the site last week to members of Blubrry, PodcasterNews and Tech Podcasts Network. Everyone has been very supportive of the site and it’s unbelievable how much content we’ve received already.

If you’re a podcaster or interested in learning about podcasting, please check out podcastFAQ.com. If you have some ideas for content or suggestions, please feel free to fill out the contact form. Your help will make the site better for everyone!

Netflix on computer plus 50 DLP TV equals AWESOME

Netflix‘s recent announcement that customers can watch as many movies and TV shows on their PC recently motivated me to check out the online service. I have to say the service is AWESOME!

We recently purchased a new 50″ DLP HD TV which includes many inputs including VGA. So we hooked up a computer and away we went. In no time we were watching movies from netflix.com on our big screen! The picture quality is excellent, I would have to say better quality than traditional cable. I would even go as far as say to say the quality is high enough that if Netflix offered all of their movies online, we wouldn’t even bother with the traditional movies by mail.

Future entertainment is going to move on-line. Live events will be streamed live and pre-recorded content will be released in the same fashion as podcasts. On demand services accessed through the Internet opens the doors of possibility that no Cable or Satellite service could match. I’m convinced Podcasting will be considered the pre-cursor to this New Media movement. I’m very excited to say I’m part of this revolution.

New Year Update

It’s been a while since I blogged anything. I’ve been very busy. Here is my update of what is going on in my life.

RawVoice
Been very busy working on a number of projects as usual. We are about to launch a new web site on Monday, January 14, 2008. If things go well, we’ll be launching some new service each Monday for the rest of the month. We’ll see if I can keep up.
http://www.rawvoice.com/

Spaceblue
I reprovisioned the server the day after Christmas, I am happy to report that I finally have everything on-line and running strong. I quickly got the crucial items on-line. I mainly had to get web stats and a few other little things setup after the new year. Setting up the new server took much longer that I anticipated since I switched from using Apache to Lighty web servers. It is paying off though, the server is handling the same amount of traffic without using all of the system resources.
http://www.spaceblue.com

PodCamp Ohio
I’ve been leading up the charge to organize PodCamp Ohio. Over the past month, we’ve secured a venue location and launched the web site. I am pretty happy with the core podcasters participating, they are really on the ball and have no problem taking charge of items they are good at. PodCamp Ohio will be on Saturday, June 28, 2008 from 9am to 5pm at the ITT Technical Institute in Hilliard (just west of Columbus), Ohio. More details are available on the web site.
http://www.podcampohio.com/

Association for Downloadable Media
Last fall I was elected Chair of the Measurement Committee of the Association for Downloadable Media. The entire process is exciting. I purchased a copy of Roberts Rules and have been slowly coordinating all of the members of the committee. After 12 people joined the committee, I was looking for the board members to set a limit to the size of the committee so it would not become too large to manage. The consensus of the board is to allow as many ADM members to join the committees as possible. I understand the motives, as the podcasting community is oriented in a way that encourages participation, it just makes managing the committee that much harder. I am up for the challenge and started devising ideas how to manage the situation. My position as Chair of the Measurement Committee could not be more perfect for the Association since I have both a technical background with Internet Engineering and vast experience with measuring podcast downloads.
http://www.downloadablemedia.org/

The House
Dad was in town two weeks ago when I was about to fix a shower leak. The work started with Dad reminding me to buy the tool recommended to remove the faucet cartridge in the documentation I printed out. A couple of minutes later, I broke the cartridge trying to remove it with pliers. Lesson learned, still listen to your parents! At this point I think Dad was convinced we would have to call a plumber, but my plan was to buy the removal tool and a screw tap. My plan worked luckily, with the help with an extra long screw replaced in the recommended tool. The rest of the process of installing the new cartridge went smoothly. I am happy to report the shower no longer leaks! If any family or friends need to fix a Moen shower/bath leak, let me know cause I have the recommended tool to remove the cartridge. Definitely don’t try to remove it with pliers!

San Giorgio Pasta Choo Choo Wheels
I told Heather a long time ago about Choo Choo Wheels Pasta and she looked at me rather strange. Two weeks ago I came across a package of San Giorgio brand Choo Choo Wheels and snagged a box. Sam Giorgio is my preferred pasta brand. The back of the box has a recipe for spaghetti meat sauce, so I thought I’d give it a try. I don’t have all of the details here, but the main ingredient are 2 large cans of whole pealed tomatoes, 2 small cans of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, graded and 1 pound of ground beef or sausage. I used a 1 pound roll of Bob Evans Italian Sausage. Cook the sausage, then mix everything except the Parmesan, bring to a boil then cook on a medium/low heat for 30+ minutes. When you are ready to serve, add the Parmesan, which will thicken the sauce. I like thick sauce, so stumbling upon this tip has revolutionized my spaghetti sauce making abilities! 🙂

Anyway, the sauce on the back of the Choo Choo Wheels box was awesome and so far is the closest thing I’ve been able to get to taste like real home made spaghetti sauce the way Grandma would make. She would cook the sauce for hours and have 3 different types of meats in the sauce. It is the standard which I use to judge all other sauces. Funny how that works.

What’s Next
I’m going to restart my Compiled Weekly podcast. The recent work I’ve been doing moving blogs around for RawVoice and reconfiguring the Spaceblue server with Lighty has given me a lot of content ideas for the show. I got a lot of knowledge to share about Lighty and tips with server management. I got just about everything automated so I don’t have to manage anything now. 🙂