Join the Pod People


Have you ever thought of trying podcasting? You've got your blog at Blogger.com, and you'd like to include audio - commentary, music, interviews, or you just prefer to speak rather than type.

If the answer's yes, this post may help. To podcast, you will need:

(1) A microphone
(2) A voice
(3) Some audio software
(4) Something to say
(5) A place on the net to store the sound files, and
(6) A way of getting them to stream from that place through your blog

I can't help you with the first five, but might be able to reduce your headaches about the sixth.

There's two basic approaches:
(1) Embed a player into posts as and when you need to.

This is the better way if you're going to post infrequently or irregularly - for instance, when you've recorded a new song.

It's also advisable if you're going to post long audio - for instance, an interview that lasts an hour - because embedded players are easier to pause, rewind and fastforward.

(2) Set up your blog template to treat any and all URLs of audio files as streamable.

This is better if you're going to post lots of audio - for instance, whole albums at a time, or long recordings cut up into managable bits.

Google provide one audio player. To use it, just paste this code into your blog post...

<iframe style="border: 1px solid rgb(170, 170, 170); width:400px; height: 27px;" id="musicPlayer" src="http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=[URL:audio]"> </iframe>

...replacing [URL:audio] with the full address of the audio you want to stream, eg. http://sites.google.com/site/kapdemos/Home/Demo_1.mp3. The result looks like this:



Click play and It'll stream.

A different player is provided by Odeo. They're a podcast host themselves, but helpfully you can stream stuff not held on their servers with their player.

This is the code...

<embed src= "http://www.odeo.com/flash/audio_player_standard_gray.swf" quality="high" width="300" height="52" allowScriptAccess="always" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashvars= "valid_sample_rate=true&external_url=[URL:audio]" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer"></embed>


...and this is the result:



Yahoo also provide a player.

Code...

<embed src="http://webjay.org/flash/dark_player" width="400" height="40" wmode="transparent" flashVars="playlist_url=[URL:audio]&skin_color_1=-145,-89,-4,5&skin_color_2=-141,20,0,0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed>


...and result:



That's the first approach. What about the second?

Log into Blogger, go to the Dashboard, then Layout, and Edit HTML. You'll be presented with the CSS code of your blog template.

Scroll down till you find the </head> tag, insert a new empty line immidiately before that, and paste the javascript code - which I'll get to in a moment - into that space. Click Save Template.

Now when you make a post to your blog, you can include links to your audio files like this...

<a href="http://sites.google.com/site/kapdemos/Home/Demo_1.mp3">Demo 1</a>
<a href="http://sites.google.com/site/kapdemos/Home/Demo_2.mp3">Demo 2</a>


...and the result will look like this:



If you click on the underlined text, you can download the file. If you click on the arrow next to it, it'll stream to you. I haven't actually set up my blog to stream in this way, which is why there's only a picture, not a real link.

So what's the code you paste into the template? You can use the Yahoo media player (not the same as their embedded player) with this code:

<script src="http://mediaplayer.yahoo.com/js" type="text/javascript"></script>

This will also create an unfoldable track selecter and player at the bottom left of your browser screen. I don't like that, but it's a matter of personal taste.



Delicious also have a player, and this is the code:

<script src="http://del.icio.us/js/playtagger" type="text/javascript"></script>

It works in exactly the same way, but there's no selecter and the buttons are square. You can, if you really want to, use the Yahoo and Delicious streamers together, and each file will get two streaming buttons - though I'm not sure why you'd want to do it.

But hang on a minute, you say. These corporations could withdraw support at any time, or start charging. I've got a little webspace of my own, so why can't I store my own player there?

You can indeed do just that, and the method is something of a cross between the two I've been describing.

Probably the most common self-hosted player, is from 1PixelOut, and is downloadable here. Unzip the two files - "audio-player.js" and "player.swf" - and place them somewhere convenient in your webspace - such as a folder of their own.

In your Blogger template, just above the </head> tag, insert this...

<script language="JavaScript" src="[URL:audio-player.js]"></script>

...replacing [URL:audio-player.js] with the actual address of the "audio-player.js" file.

The following code then goes into your blog post, at the point you want the player to be displayed...

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="[URL:player.swf]" id="audioplayer1" height="24" width="290">
<param name="movie" value="[URL:player.swf]">
<param name="FlashVars" value="playerID=1&soundFile=[URL:audio]">
<param name="quality" value="high">
<param name="menu" value="false">
<param name="wmode" value="transparent">
</object>


...substituting for [URL:player.swf] and [URL:audio] the locations of the "player.swf" file and your audio file, respectively.

The result looks like this:



Wouldn't it be easier to store these tiny files on Blogger? Yes it would, but Blogger won't provide a means for you to do so, and they're not alone. Google Sites, where I've been storing the example MP3s, also don't allow you to store javascript files on "your" webspace.

Are there other self-host players? Undoubtedly - I just haven't found any yet.

But hopefully this post has made starting podcasting a little less daunting for you.

8 comments:

  1. Good posting! more professional web templates at itemplatez.com... its a easy download.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Alas, no podcasting for me. In the first place, I have nothing of any real importance to say. Even worse, I sound like Minnie Mouse with a smoker's rasp. :-P

    ReplyDelete
  3. Some people would find that quite sexy :-).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Only really strange people who have fantasies about cartoon rodents!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've always wanted to do this but it will require even further simplification unfortunately...although your instructions are clear.

    Alas, such is the tech portion of my brain.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can't do podcasting, for fear that I maybe recognized! I like the anonymity of blogging--non of my real world friends know that I have a blog, and I like it like that!

    It's like living a double life. But, I will keep this podcasting post handy, because I know there are other people out there who would like to broadcast their thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Podcasting? Quite frankly, my dear (and don't get too upset, will you, Mr K.) I'd rather chew dogshit.

    But don't let my narrow-minded opinions stop you from enjoying yourself, will you...

    ReplyDelete
  8. @MJ:

    I'm sure you could get one of the houseboys to help you out. They'll know all about the interwebs - it's how they find most of their, um, young cousins who stay overnight.



    @Eroswings:

    You can get software that's modify your voice - make it unrecognisable. It can make you butch and rough, or sweet and femme. Or like an insect from the planet Xkzzzkt, if you want.



    @TEFL Tradjazz:

    I have never let anyone's narrowness spoil my enjoyment.

    Or tightness, but that's another story.

    ReplyDelete