New countries, check your links, Google Earth vs. Windows Live Local (Virtual Earth), review of 5 podcast directories, freeware tool to unerase photos from your memory card.
Listen to the Podcast – Time: 22 minutes 24 seconds
My apologies for not getting a podcast out yesterday – as hopefully you saw on the website, I was struck down with the Martian Death Flu for the last week! I can now form complete sentences without coughing, and my voice is nearly back to normal. I’ve heard a few podcasters go ahead and post when they’re sick, and it’s just awful, so i decided not to subject you to that!
Welcome to our new listeners from Luxembourg, Iceland and Senegal! Senegal was one I’d never heard of, so I headed over to the CIA World Fact Book again and it appears to be in Africa, near a bunch of other countries I’ve never heard of either. It’s on the west most edge of Africa near Mauritania. I can’t believe that we keep adding countries so often. i guess there’s a lot of countries out there?
I’ve been pleased to see the reduction in the percentage of listeners using Internet Explorer after the discussion last week about the benefits from a security perspective of using alternative browsers last week. We used to run around 20% on IE and this week it dropped to 14%. Good work guys!
Check your links!
I want to encourage any of you who do any sort of website/blog work to always always always check your links. I know this is obvious, and everyone knows to do that, but I have the most perfect illustration of why you must do this I have to repeat the advice. Get this, last week when I put up my podcast, I put the usual link to it on podfeet.com. Evidently I wasn’t paying really good attention, because somehow I double dribbled on the http part, so the link I put in was http://http:// and then the rest of the link. Ok, that shouldn’t be so bad, right? I would have thought it were a harmless error that would just bring up a happy little 404 error, but imagine my horror when I clicked the link to test it…and the bad link defaulted to Microsoft’s home page!!! Interesting that this only happened on Firefox, not on Safari, but still, how scary is that? So, what’s the lesson? always always always check your links! You never know where they might go if you don’t test them!
Google Earth vs. Windows Live Local
I mentioned Google Earth last week, and how a beta version sneaked out for the Mac last week. I did some soul searching and decided to take the risk of making the file available to you. Once the real version is out I’ll just link to it, but for the time being, use this with caution, it’s super beta, crashes a little bit, but shows you what it can be. Download Google Earth for Mac right here in the shownotes. Google Earth for windows can be officially downloaded at earth.google.com.
Google bought the technology from Keyhole, and changed it from a paid service to free. I’m delighted that Google is staying with it’s cross-platform compatibility, as Keyhole was a Windows only application.
For those of you who haven’t seen Google Earth, it’s a mapping program that uses real satellite photographs. the thing that makes it feel cool is that it starts with a picture of the entire globe and rotates it around and zooms in as though you’re flying into it. Very startling effect.
The clarity of the photography is really hit or miss – depending on where you’re looking. Some areas are photographed to frightening detail – really amazing. For certain areas you can tilt the view, so for example you can actually fly down into the Grand Canyon. For major cities, you can have it represent the buildings in 3D, but they’re just like cardboard boxes representing the shapes. Helps visualize but not realistic.
Microsoft has a competing product they call Virtual Earth, which you can use online without downloading an application at local.live.com. this works in IE and in Firefox (both Mac and PC), but not in Safari. Virtual Earth is also a database of satellite images, but the way they take it up a notch is they’ve taken photos from 4 different angles. This means when you look up your house, if the little icon for “Bird’s Eye Imagery” shows up, you can get 3D pictures from N/S/E/W angles. It’s a little creepy actually to see how much detail is available. the usage is clumsy though – you can slide the picture around like with Google maps but once you get to the end of a screen you have to click on a thumbnail for the next photo over. They’re not seemlessly sewn together like on Google. Makes it hard to keep track of where you are.
Both Google Earth and Windows Live Local are fun to play with and could be helpful in figuring out the lay of the land before you travel, but I suspect most people just play with it for now!
How to find podcasts
This might seem like a strange thing to do on a podcast, but I’m going to help you find OTHER podcasts to listen to. I’ve been messing around a little bit with podcast directories and the first couple didn’t impress me much on being able to find things I was looking for. While the tech podcasts I listen to keep me entertained, I want to turn more people onto podcasting, and the best way to do that is to start with a person’s interest first, and then see what podcasts are out there to match. I’m going to do something bold, I wrote these notes before testing the directory sites, so I’m going to pick 4 random topics and see if I can find more than one in each category in a bunch of different directories. The test is only pure if I pick them FIRST, so here I go:
knitting (I’m cheating already cuz I know there’s 2 knitting podcasts out there)
gardening (SO many people are into this, there’s got to be some here)
French cooking (not just any cooking)
surfing (this one probably won’t be there because I mean the water kind of surfing!)
off to my test, now to pick some directories. If I weren’t already into it, I would just go to Google and search for “podcast directory”. let’s see what we find. The first six hits are podcast.net, podcastdirectory.com, iTunes, podcastalley.com, Yahoo! podcasts, and iPodder.org. i’ll go through each one and see if I can find the four subjects. I’ll first see what they can find, but then I’ll evaluate on how easy they make it for us to find the websites and the RSS feed for the actual podcast. I know some directories have players too, so I’ll do a quick eval on that too. I’ll test the feeds in iTunes for my own convenience.
First thing I see is a nice big search window that has a pulldown starting with “title & description”. this pulldown has more choices, one of which is “keywords”. that seems like a good place to start our search. (not that there are also categories to browse, such as entertainment, arts, science and a whole bunch more, and there are even little hints to what’s in the category, like for entertainment it says “Music, Celebrities, Comedy…”)). there’s even a handy little alphabet for browsing tags if you like that path. That opens two paths, but I’m a search kinda person so I’ll start there. Here’s the results:
podcast.net found 3 knitting, 3 gardening, 17 cooking but only two of which had one episode that featured French cooking in one episode, and two surfing podcasts one of which is a video podcast.
For each feed podcast.net found, it had a button for the RSS feed, a play button that launched a player, and a button that said web that took me directly to the author’s website. It also had the host’s name, description, location, and language (very important in this global medium). It showed a button for rss (not the standard symbol, but still pretty obvious you were supposed to click it. It also featured a button labeled “play” next to the name. The player played in both Safari and Firefox, and it appeared to be actually using Quicktime to play the file (there was a teeny Q before the file started playing). I decided to try the video surfing podcast in the player, and it came out as a thin line of video not really working properly. I clicked on the RSS button, then copied the url that came up and pasted it into iTunes–>Advanced–>Subscribe to Podcast and it came in perfectly. Technically it didn’t have any surfing in it but it did have the most amazing whale watching video I’ve seen in a long time, edited well and great music!
So far podcast.net really met my requirements in a clean interface with several methods to find podcasts and returned a number of podcasts in each category. I also liked that after a search was found, the search window was in that new window too so I didn’t have to go back. Overall a pleasant and productive experience.
My first impression of podcastdirectory after leaving podcast.net is that this site has a LOT of stuff going on beyond what I’m looking for. No judging yet, just a little scary in comparison. there are four columns, one for podcast directory, featured podcast, a sales column, most popular, and then a column called internet radio. not sure what that’s about, but in the first column there’s my happy search window, titled “search Podcasters”. Well, that’s close to search podcasts. There are browsing methods, but it’s by google map, by genre, by region, by language, by popularity, by buzz, and video podcasts. it doesn’t have different search options like podcast.net, but let’s give it a whirl.
podcastdirectory found 1 knitting, 1 gardening, no French cooking (but to be fair, when I removed the “French” restriction it found 20 cooking shows, and podcast.net didn’t find any French cooking podcasts either) and 1 surfing show.
Searches return a list of the podcasts along with a whole bunch of information about them such as a standard XML button, a list of the most recent shows, the artwork, a short description, and a link that says “Subscribe to this feed”. The subscribe link just takes you to the xml link so you still have to cut/paste the link into iTunes or other player to subscribe. I just noticed a very non-standard dark blue box with an artsy version of “mp3” written in it, which is the link to the mp3 file, but it’s even got the wrong nomenclature for the size of the file – it says a number followed by mbs, which should mean megabytes per second, but that doesn’t make sense, so they must mean megabytes. Maybe I’m too close to the nomenclature, perhaps the normal human would figure it out easier!
Overall podcastdirectory includes more information after a search, but doesn’t find near as many podcasts as podcast.net. i also didn’t like having to back up and erase my search term to search again, and the initial interface is way messier than podcast.net.
iTunes has brought podcasting to the masses, but I have some real beefs with the misleading nature of this tool. I’ll keep in the framework I’ve started, but I’m biased right off the bat! I launched iTunes, and on the left under Library is a nice icon for Podcasts. So far so good. At this point, if you’ve never downloaded any podcasts, you’re faced with a big old empty window! Hmmm…oh wait, there’s written at the bottom the words “podcast directory” followed by an arrow. Maybe I should click near that? Be more obvious, Apple! Oh well, once I do that, I’m taken to the iTunes Music Store. WAIT! I didn’t want to PAY for anything, what am i doing in the store??? You and I know it’s nothing to get alarmed at, but what about the uninitiated? I think some free looking buttons thrown around would be nice, but then again all podcasts aren’t free, just most of them!
Ok, so now that I’m in the store I’m inundated with stuff – artwork for all kinds of podcasts, today’s top podcasts, a pulldown at the top left that’s set to podcasts (but if I disturb it, I’m not in podcasts any more so I don’t dare touch it). There is a field that says “search all podcasts” and a nice magnifying glass next to it, along with a bunch of categories listed below that.
iTunes returned 10 hits on knitting, 5 of which actually had anything to do with knitting, WAIT. big beef coming up, how do I go back to search a new topic? there’s no back button like in a browser, and if I type in the normal search window, it’s now searching all of iTunes, not just the podcast directory. I just found two arrows, turns out the left one does take you back. Okay, back to searching for French Cooking, which returns zero results, so let’s try cooking. Uh oh, time for another pet peeve. If I see a podcast about which I want more information, evidently I have to realize that the teeny little “i” symbol in a circle should be right-clicked. sheesh.
Gardening returns 14 items (about 10 of which are real), and searching under “cooking” returns 57 results, but many are duplicates, many are labeled as “explicit” – geez, what’s explicit cooking anyway? i don’t wanna know. Hey, to be fair, I did find the Toaster Oven Chef, which features recipe’s under $5, who wouldn’t love that? gotta give these folks a plug just for a clever name!
Searching on surfing yields 18 results, 3 of which actually have to do with surfing. One more pet peeve before I tell you what I like about iTunes. remember that teeny little “i” symbol you have to click on to get the description of a podcast? once that’s opened, you may be tempted to use a standard keyboard shortcut to close that window, like command-w on the Mac. don’t do it! turns out, that weird little description window will stay up and you’ll close your iTunes window! That’s just poor programming I think. Turns out that if you go up to the menu under Window and pull down to iTunes, it comes right back but it always surprises and annoys me when it disappears.
ok, enough whining about iTunes. The great thing is that if you’re ever successful in FINDING a podcast there’s a big, obvious “play” arrow at the top so you can sample a podcast with all of your search results showing, the artwork, and most importantly a big “subscribe” button. If you hit subscribe, you’re all done. I don’t think it’s even close to the best way to search for a podcast, but iTunes makes subscribing trivial. Once you hit subscribe, it brings in the most recent episode, but also shows you some recent episodes with a button labeled “GET” next to them in case you want to get the older episodes too.
Wait, one more whine about iTunes. When a podcaster creates their feed suitable for iTunes, they’re asked to choose a category, a subcategory, and a sub-subcategory. The ideas is that if you were in the iTunes Music Store, you could click on the category Technology for instance, then within that choose Operating Systems, then within that choose Mac, and you’d find the NosillaCast. This used to work just as I described, but about a month ago it broke, so if you click on Technology, it opens the browse window but instead of Tech on the left, it’s at the top level of the music store again, so you choose Podcasts, then Technology, then there’s only one browse pane left, which is ALL PODCASTS lumped together! I wrote to some prominent podcasters to see if they could ask Apple to fix it, but nothing has happened. The browse feature of iTunes is completely worthless till they fix it.
Podcast Alley opens in a relatively clean interface with an obvious search window on the left, which also allows a genre to be chosen. There’s a list of the newest podcasts as well as a Top 10 List. After running a search, it did leave the search entry point available again. It returned 4 knitting, 11 gardening, 49 cooking (but none for French cooking), and 10 surfing podcasts. One thing I really liked with PodcastAlley is that it gives a very clean list of search results, and if you click on one of them it expands it just a little bit to include a short description, a button to get the podcast, one to vote on whether you like it, and one to see more details. the cool thing was that it left all the other names up there not expanded, just doing as many as you click on.
When i clicked on “get podcast”, it put the link to the xml in a clean little field, and even better included a short 3 line description on how to listen to the podcast, including a link to download an aggregator. Nicely done.
Initial impression of Yahoo! Podcasts is pleasant – three major columns titled “what we like this week< "what other people like" and "explore on your own" which is where you can browse podcasts by category. On the upper right there's even a link titled "what the heck IS a podcast?" Across the top is an obvious podcast search window, so let's jump right in. when I did the first search for knitting, it found not only 3 knitting podcasts, it also found 7 episodes of other podcasts that MENTIONED knitting. That's kind of a neat feature. The search window is still there after a search, you know how I like that. the real surprise was that Yahoo! actually found a podcast it thought was about French cooking - not sure it really was though. However, it did pull 17 podcasts that referred to French Cooking in at least one episode. I just noticed that the search window has a pulldown that allows you to search podcasts, episodes, or podcasts and episodes, so that's why I'm getting better hits. back to searching – looking for gardening, it found 3 on the subject and 272 that mentioned it. I have noticed one thing – all of these sites have found a site called MicrobeWorld Radio that has nothing to do with gardening, it’s about science and microbiology! Surfing returned 2 real podcasts, and 314 episodes containing surfing – but I bet a lot of those were about web surfing. The search results have a button next to them that says “listen”, one that says “subscribe”. Here’s where Yahoo! falls down. in Safari, when i click on Play, it opens up a new window and claims it’s playing the episode, but I hear nothing. Nothing in Firefox either. the real crime of Yahoo! is that if you click Subscribe, it requires you to log in! annoying as this is, I’ll sacrifice for my audience, and login. Well, it says I’m now subscribed…but in what aggregator? how do I listen? not clear at all to me. maybe this is one of those things where they made it simple and I’m expecting the standard methods, but I sure can’t tell how to listen to this darn thing. The help section says “you’ll need to get some great music software like the Yahoo! Music Engine or Apple iTunes.” I checked NosillaCast (which is registered at Yahoo! Podcasts, and evidently 3 people have figured out how to subscribe here – if any of you are listening and can tell me how you did it send me an email at email@example.com. I did notice two copies each of the two podcasts i clicked “subscribe” on sitting in my home directory which isn’t even a logical place for them!
iPodder.org or IndiePodder as Adam Curry likes to refer to it.
iPodder starts out with the major focus being new podcasts, taking up about half of the window. Then there’s this weird frame in the middle which is a bunch of folders, but the frame isn’t outlined so it’s hard to see why the list sorta fades out. Maybe it looks better on the PC, but it looks lame on both Safari and Firefox on the Mac. there’s a HUGE ad on the site, then a calendar for no apparent reason, then some explanations of what podcasting is, new podcasts, how to download something they call iPodder, but which they really mean a list a podcatching aggregators. I think that’s just leftover nomenclature. They even list the software iPodderX, which is actually called Juice Receiver now, since Apple told them they couldn’t call it it anything with iPod in it any more.
no search window, just the folders, so I guess we have to dig into these to find the four things we’re looking for. Not too convenient in my opinion. Now where would knitting be? Culture? Design? or perhaps the category Tattoo and body Mods? You know what? it’s not worth my time to even use this site at all, I’m bailing right now on it!
Final Decision on Podcast Directories
I liked Podcast.net, Podcast Alley, and Yahoo! Podcasts because they all had clean interfaces, easy to use search, easy to find the urls to give to my podcatcher. Podcast Alley did the best job of cleanly giving me extra info if I wanted it, and gave me the most obvious instructions on how to move over the url to the podcatcher. I wouldn’t use iTunes or ipodder.org to find a podcast, you’d never find what you’re looking for!
Have you ever deleted images from your digital camera’s memory card and needed them afterwards? I did that today, and they weren’t terribly important pictures, but I kind of wanted them back. I figured there’d be tons of scripts out there to unerase a card, right? not so! For some reason this is a really tricky thing – I thought it was just a case of the table of contents being gone, and had to rebuild it or something. I found a lot of links to one paid for tool – $60 for PictureRescue, but like I said these weren’t baby’s first step photos or anything! My friend Bruce found the tool for me, it’s called EXIF Untrasher, and it’s designed to do only one thing – find photos in EXIF format on camera memory cards! It’s freeware, and the way it works is that it creates a disk image of the card and then looks for the pattern that jpegs are in when they’re in EXIF format. In any case, it worked great for me, and it could be a lifesaver for you in the future. Check it out – the link is in the shownotes at podfeet.com.
Well, that’s kind of a long one but I was inspired today. Please let me know what you think by sending feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and stay subscribed!