MacVoices Interview Now Online

Scott McNulty and I talk to Chuck Joiner about WordPress.

One of the things I like to do — but don’t get a chance to do very often these days — is talk to podcasters and other media people about the projects I’ve worked on.

MacVoices LogoEarlier this month, I got a chance to do just that with Chuck Joiner, the host of the MacVoices podcast. For the first time ever, Chuck did a double interview, killing two birds with one stone as he spoke to author Scott McNulty and I about WordPress. During the Interview, we talked about our separate WordPress-related projects and how they might be used together to help someone learn the ins and outs of using WordPress.

Here’s the blurb on the MacVoices Web site:

Thinking of starting a blog with WordPress? Maria Langer, the author of Self-Hosting a WordPress Site and WordPress.Com 2.7 Essential Training on Lynda.com and Scott McNulty, the author of Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read, share some tips from their respective projects to help you make the right choices. Maria and Scott talk about deciding on using WordPress.com or selecting your own host, one-click vs. user installs, why permalink structure is one of the first things you should think about, and finding and customizing a theme for your blog and more. Backup options, favorite plug-ins and why their video and book compliment each other are discussed.

If you’d like to hear the podcast, you can download it directly from its page on the MacVoices Web site.

MacJury

A great new podcast.

MacJury LogoYesterday afternoon, I had the honor of being one of the “jurists” in the new MacJury podcast created and moderated by Chuck Joiner. Chuck’s responsible for a number of podcasts aimed at Mac users, including MacVoices and MacNotables.

From MacJury’s About page:

Designed to be entertaining, informative and thought-provoking, The MacJury will pass judgment on news, issues, products and more. Each show will feature a different panel of personalities from the Mac universe in a freewheeling discussion that will interest Mac users of all expertise and experience levels.

I was invited to be one of the jurists for the third podcast of the series. Chuck was joined by me, Nancy Gravley, Joe Kissell, and Don McAllister. Through the miracle of the Internet (specifically, Skype), the five of us, located in the U.S. and Europe, were joined together for a good discussion of the pros and cons of .Mac and the new Mac clones. You can download the 54-minute MP3 file containing our discussion from the MacJury #803 page.

Or, better yet, subscribe to the podcast. If you’re a Mac user interested in current topics that affect you and your Mac, I think you’ll get a lot out of it.

Podcasting Instructions Update

Apple revises its Podcaster Tech Specs document to provide information on Apple TV compatibility.

Although I haven’t published an episode for a while, I am a podcaster. My Maria Speaks podcast has about 30 episodes published over the past two years or so.

Because of that, I’m on Apple’s mailing list for information about podcasting. And today I got an e-mail message from Apple that provides some useful information about formatting video or enhanced podcasts for better compatibility with Apple TV.

Here’s part of it:

Recommendations for Formatting Video Podcasts

1. If you’re encoding your video podcast at 320×240, please increase the resolution to either 640×480 or 640×360 (depending on the aspect ratio of your source files). Why? Because video podcasts at this resolution look great on Apple TV and still port to video iPods. Lower resolution podcasts might also work on both platforms, but they don’t look nearly as good on a widescreen TV. As always, make sure to test any encoding changes you make to ensure device compatibility. QuickTime 7.1′s “Export to iPod” function will ensure that a video file is encoded at a width of 640 and is iPod-compatible.

2. It’s best not to create two different podcast feeds for different resolutions. By doing so, you dilute the popularity of your podcast and reduce exposure in our charts. It’s better to have one feed high in the charts than two that are lower.

3. If your source files are 16:9, stick with that aspect ratio. Don’t add letterboxing to make them 4:3. By doing so, you prevent the video from expanding to fill a 16:9 widescreen TV and instead end up with black space on all four sides. Also, your original source files should be at least 640 pixels wide.

Of course these are just recommendations. We understand that there are good reasons for 320×240 (bandwidth bills) and 720p (looks fantastic). Do whatever makes the most sense for your show. For more information on formatting video, see the recently updated spec:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html

To see a sample of excellent podcasts that also look great with Apple TV, check out the Apple TV Podcast Showcase.

This is interesting because one of the few complaints I’ve heard about Apple TV is the video quality of podcasts. It appears that Apple is trying to prevent this from being a problem by providing podcasters with detailed instructions for making their podcasts look good on Apple TV.

Come Fly with Us!

I do a “video” podcast for Flying M Air called Come Fly with Us! It’s basically an iMovie slide show of images taken on various flights and day trips throughout Arizona. Although I don’t want to go back and fix existing episodes so they meet these requirements, I’ll probably release new episodes with these specs on a go-forward basis.

As mentioned by Apple in the quoted e-mail above, a higher resolution will lead to bigger files. Not only will this affect bandwidth, but it can discourage potential subscribers from subscribing. For example, since moving from my downtown office back into my house, my download speed has been cut from high-speed DSL (5-7 M) to medium speed cable (512 K if I’m lucky). A 70 MB podcast has to be pretty darn good for me to further slow down my Internet access speed with a lengthy download. Right now, each episode of Come Fly with Us! is about 15 MB; I’m curious to see what the higher resolution files will be.

Just something to keep in mind.

iPod Microphones: A Review

On the Future Tense Podcast.

One of the other podcasts I really enjoy is American Public Media’s Future Tense. This public radio show has 3 to 5 minute segments on topics related to computing and technology. I highly recommend it for a quick dose of what’s new presented in plain English.

XtremeMac IPV-MIC-00 MicroMemo Digital Voice Recorder for iPod Video (Black)For those of you interested in recording with your iPod, the February 12 episode, iPod Microphones: a Review, should make good listening. It certainly pleased me. It confirmed that the iPod microphone I recently purchased — the XtremeMac MicroMemo — was the best of the three reviewed. The podcast also includes sample recordings with various mics under various conditions to give you an idea of what to expect if you invest in one of these gadgets for your iPod.

How to Publish a Video Podcast with WordPress

Article on Informit.com

My latest article for Informit.com has finally been published there.

From the introduction to “Publish a Video Podcast with WordPress“:

Maria Langer’s helicopter jaunts are too spectacular to be described with mere words; adding video podcasts to her web site would give visitors a taste of the thrill they’d be buying when they signed up for a trip. In this article, Maria takes us on a tour of the software that made it all possible.

I didn’t write that. But I think it’s funny, so I figured I’d quote it.

If you’re interested in using WordPress to publish a video podcast, read the article. Due to copyright agreements with Informit.com, I can’t reproduce it here. But I may turn it into a podcast episode one day soon. Stay tuned.