Archive for the 'multimedia' Category

Goodbye Yahoo! Podcasts, we hardly knew ye!

yahoo! podcasts closingAccording to their site, the Yahoo! Podcasts site is due to close at the end of October. It was funny to see the news spread from a post to my Twitter account, on to Marshall over at Read/Write Web, then out to the rest of the blogosphere and TechMeme. πŸ™‚

I’m sure this has a lot to do with the various culling and belt-tightening going on at Yahoo! recently since they started shuffling things around. Who knows, maybe they’re saving up money to buy Facebook? ;p

When their podcast site launched, I was well in the middle of coding podcast.com and was a bit perturbed by the Yahoo! splash in the pool, especially as I knew they had some great people there who could do a lot to threaten what it was I was trying to achieve. They had a nice site which read RSS feeds, but how many people were behind it? WHO was curating it?

Let’s not forget that back in the early days of Yahoo! their site was a selection of quality website links curated by human beings. All placed in to very easy to navigate categories proving some of the earliest taxonomy on the web. Nice and organised!

I like taxonomy PLUS folksonomy. Now THAT’s delicious πŸ˜‰

I get so sad when I see people who produce podcasts only linking to their iTunes ‘phobos’ link. This is NOT an RSS feed. Dave Winer also pointed this out recently. Also, you’ll notice that iTunes do NOT let you grab an RSS from a podcast in their system. They even make it impossible to copy and paste the rss feed url when you do eventually find out how to expose it.

I have a solution.

podcast.com LogoSome of you may not know this, but I coded every single line of PHP, JavaScript, Flash Actionscript, Apache configs, etc, etc, myself. πŸ˜‰ I work from home in London engineering the site and system, while the business end of the company resides in Boston under the command of the excellent Scott Beatty. It’s a GREAT team and works a LOT better than some might imagine.

It’s quite a task to undertake, but the basic principle of podcast.com is very simple: Help people find podcasts, then give them easy tools to build their own directories and playlists of their favourites, to share.

Readers of my blogs may know about my passion for OPML and RSS over the years (if you look between the slew of image posts appear from various other mobile and virtual publishing tools I have built in my spare time (‘spare?’ *chortle!)) and that is at the very heart of the system at podcast.com

I’ve said it before: it’s “OPML plus RSS to the Power of users” – Which kind of translates to “User generated multimedia content libraries curated by people using machines” – Heh. Maybe I’ll work on that. But hopefully you get the gist πŸ˜‰

Having the opportunity to build the architecture and system for the generic term domain name for podcasts was a hugely attractive prospect for me. It still is. I left the BBC to sit and do it.

Two years or so down the line and we are about to throw open the doors to the beta, so the news of Yahoo! Podcasts closing could not have come at a better time, to be perfectly honest with you πŸ˜‰

3535 feeds have been put in 654 folders
from a total of 17282 feeds

The collection of podcast rss feeds on our site has been steadily growing and keeping track of the vast amount of great multimedia content there is out there. The site makes it a snap to sample an episode and download or subscribe to the whole kaboodle.

For a long time now, the site has been ‘curated’ by myself and the boys in Boston using some tools which enable us to build directories really easily. These tools are about to get in to your hands. You will also see how we are leveraging the power of the generic term domain to provide very easy to remenber urls for your podcasts and collection of podcasts for the consumer or business and brand.

Think about it: BRANDX.podcast.com

Our brand (podcast.com) does not dilute your brand (X) – in fact it helps it! I’d guess that if someone saw that url, they would expect to find a podcast about Brand X!

Correct! πŸ™‚

I really need to record a podcast about all this, as I have lot to say on the matter. There are so many opportunities out there! Expect a heap of widgets and gizmos for your websites and blogs soon!

Adios Yodellers! πŸ™‚

NOKLOG.COM : Mobile Multimedia Publishing

Presenting NOKLOG.COM!!! πŸ™‚

So, what else have I been working on? Well, some of you will already know about the BlogHUD system I built for Second Life users, which lets them post messages and articles to a blogging system. It will also crosspost the post to your external blog too (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc) – as well as send on any images you take to your flickr account.

Well, all this is really a model for a simple web application for mobiles which I started think about and testing back in 2004 called ‘camoby’. I used it to post articles of gadgets back to the BBC News website while I was out at CeBit in ’04. The editor back in London watched my RSS feed for things he liked for the site, then republished them on the BBC news site like a blog (one of their first, actually!)

So, the camoby system has evolved – as have I. Since learning many new skills since then,I was able to sit here in my hotel room in Boston/Cambridge yesterday and build the whole proof-of-concept system at noklog.com. (This will probably move to another domain eventually, as more manufacturers allow this very useful feature)

NOKLOGNOKLOG is a mobile publishing system, optimised for mobile browsers which support the oft-requested file upload form tag. (input type=file) Nokia’s Symbian Series60 web browser and Sony Ericsson’s phones with the Symbian UIQ browsers have supported this for a while. No need to build and install more apps on the phone. It all goes via the web. Sweet! it also works with the connected Archos devices (PMA430 and 604WiFi).

The difference with this and the camoby system is that I can now support ALL media types which the handset can produce. Ie: Images, Audio and Video. Once uploaded, the user can choose to publish/post the media to the main noklog.com blog, when the server then processes the image to a sensible jpeg size (with branding / watermark) and transcodes audio (.amr, .wav etc) to mp3 for podcasts and flash players AND now also video – .mp4, .3gp etc will get transcoded to the ubiquitous Flash video format (.flv) to use in a webbased Flash player, a la YouTube. No reason why I can’t transcode to MPEG4 H.263 for iPods and PSP too. It’s easy once you know how πŸ˜‰

BUT, not only that – like the blogHUD system, users will also be able to share this content and extent its reach even further by crossposting to your own blogging system – if it supports XML-RPC / MetaWeblog / Blogger APIs or email publishing. There is also no reason why I couldn’t FTP the media to a host provider like Libsyn too!

This means that as well as sending you post to your blog, you can also send images on to your flickr account or even your YouTube or blip.tv account – AUTOMAGICALLY!!! W00t! (as they say!) heheh Also each user has their own ‘home’ page and RSS feed to share their mobile life. Aggretastic!

I’ll be improving this system over the next few days, as I stay out of the cold currently blowing over Massachusetts and add things like tagging etc.

NEXT – the killer metadata support will be the Geographical Latitude and Longitude data (geotagging) of where the media was taken or recorded. I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the Nokia N95 phone, with built-in GPS, to see how I can grb the position data and populate a form field or Javascript variable, while using the Series 60 browser. I hope that wont be too tricky. We shall see. This will let me add real world maps from Google and/or Yahoo! very easily to the site. Kind of like the idea I had for ‘Geepster.com‘ – another unfinished project πŸ˜‰

Using Second Life and the blogHUD to model this system – as well as model my own abilities and support/iteration mechanisms has been a truly wonderful experience, One which I emplore any developer to try out. You will not regret it.

I’ll keep you posted when I can let some testers to NOKLOG in to try the system out. It shouldn’t be too long – because it’s simple! Just the way we like it πŸ˜‰

Naturally, all this fits in perfectly with the podcast.com system I am creating, which is about to get a big overhaul to the new system upgrade I have nearly finished πŸ™‚

BBC News : RSS NewsReader : Secondlife : 2


Another demo of something I have been meaning to try for ages. After dusting off some old actionscript skills from back in the flash5 days, I was able to get a screen reading RSS feeds. WooHoo!!!! Animated!

PixPix RIAA Secret Agent Honeypot?

Another link from the Scobleizer about a new site called PixPix, which lets you bookmark all sort of things on the web including music mp3s, video and images. All this is wrapped in a digg-like ‘social network’ interface for rating and whatnot.

While I think that sites like this are fun and reveal loads of things out there on the web you might not find otherwise, they have made the job of the RIAA etc very very easy indeed. The urls to the copyrighted files and material are there for all to see.

Some bright spark at the RIAA needs to write a script which monitors their RSS feeds (here’s the one for audio) and notes down the value of the ‘guid’ element. This will harvest a huge list of hosts of potentially infringing content.

It wouldn’t surprise me if one day the folks at the RIAA, MPAA, PRS etc create a site just like this and thus create a huge honeypot for their investigations. It just takes one smart cookie in the bag.

Evan’s Podcasting site roundup feedback

Evan Williams, founder of Pyra – which became Blogger.com and head honcho of Odeo has got some Alexa results of podcasting sites out there and provides some feedback.

Good job. Nice to see Libsyn pumping away at the top. I really like those guys.

So, I’m not surprised to see the results for podcast.com πŸ˜‰

We opened up the doors of the site back at the end of May, as an ‘alpha’, based on some of the early foundation technology we’re building, simply because we couldn’t bare to look at the old horrible greenish page that used to be there any more πŸ˜‰ The feedback we’ve had has been positive.

Since then, we been going like the clappers, not sleeping much, slowly but surely bringing together a whole load of features you haven’t seen yet. The list of subscriptions in the directory there are basically *mine*. As in my user account. There’s two actually – a user called kosso curates the canada.podcast.com directory and the secondlife.podcast.com directory (they’re actually folders within koz.podcast.com). Soon you’ll be able to create your own version of the site and have access to a load of tools and info to get you going in podcasting, whether it’s as a listener or a podcaster. We have publishing tools too – and some pretty nifty urls and data for you to play with. Some original content too! (I can’t wait to let you in on all that πŸ˜‰ )

I often use the analogy of the book industry to describe what we’re up to:

To start, we want to help people find books they want to read and let the author know what they think. Moving along, we want to help people build bookshelves to put all these books on. Then give people the tools to build whole libraries – and connect them together.

Back the other way, we naturally want to help people publish books. And help promote their hard work. Then back, we want to help teach people how to write a book and provide nice and easy tools to do so. Even further back to the core, we also want to help people make paper and ink and even research new types of paper and ink, which might make a book easier to read or understand and hopefully more popular!.

As the people running the generic domain, we intend to DO THE RIGHT THING. What else would you do with the generic domain? I left the BBC to work on this, as I’m incredibly passionate about podcasting having fiddled with building tools and systems since it started. Becoming a podcaster (but not as frequently as I would like – that’s why I’m builfing tools πŸ˜‰ ). Meeting the likes of Dave Winer and Adam Curry last year was a real motivator. Still is. Respec’.
I really didn’t want the site to end up squatted or parked or simply wasted. I’m on a mission (from pod). ‘With great domains comes great responsibility’. We have some interesting things coming up soon which might perk up your ears πŸ˜‰

I’ve just got back from Boston after a great time with the rest of the boys – making sure we’re all on the same playlist and getting the new hands on deck up to speed with the system, ethos and roadmap for the whole place. It’s been very reassuring.

We still have alot to do to get the site open as a public beta, where people will be able to join up and have a go at using the tools we’re putting together. It won’t all come at once. We intend to listen to what you think and iterate. We think it’s going to be an exciting resource for anyone interested in podcasting.

It’s going to be a few more weeks, but now we can all see the next checkpoint. There is no finish line πŸ˜‰

Evoca helps Adobromedia

Just reading Mike Arrington's blurb on Evoca. Here's my thrupenny bit : (it was going to be a comment, but it got long enough for a blog post I think πŸ˜‰ )…

I think they've done another great job with Flash Media Server. The socapp stuff and pips are nice and what you'd expect these days.

You've been able to do this stuff for a while with Flash Communication Server (they changed the name recently) – record audio. And you can do alot with videos too (see Stickam.com : another group of FMS widgets manifested).

Now we're seeing the FLV format break into the mainstream, thanks to the great On2 codecs (and the great work from the WildForm Flix team) and YouTube and GoogleVideo etc. It lowers the barrier to entry for web video, as there are so many Flash players out there granted: for web use, though.

Adobromedia must be feeling quite happy the way things are panning out, what with Flash video and also the slowly solidifying mobile platform they have.

What we now need are Flash apps like this, that enable easy media recording and publishing on devices like the Origami. Then, we will see some incredible things happen. It will be so easy to create and share multimedia, that we'll need better ways to store, organise and share that which we will all consume and create so readily, in the future.

Ones, Heroes and Zeros

Dave’s been pointing a guy called Phil Jones recently. He has some interesting ideas and clearly thinks alot about stuff. He’s a professor. Probably paid to. Cool! Today Dave posted a response to some of the points Phil has been raising.

One snippet here caught my eye:

I think DMOZ and Yahoo’s directories are the wrong model, that this all needs to be opened up. There’s no single home page on the web, so why should there be a single home page for the global directory. Let a billion flowers bloom. May the best root win. May there be as many roots as there are points of view.

Now, I like that. Alot. It’s actually more or less the very model I am trying to work towards in thinking about and building a ‘platform’ on which to run a system like podcast.com, for example. Or ‘treedia’ – or feedgang – or feedhive – whateverlist (hmmm). Also, I’m trying to build it based upon ‘standard(ized)’ formats which already exist.

I have built many systems in the past based on made-up bespoke xml formats which I created to do what I needed an app to do – this for example, uses ‘OPML’ and ‘RSS’ (and time events), but none of it actually IS OPML or RSS. But they would have done the trick in retrospect. As would a load of other formats : SMIL, etc.

SMIL gets me thinking about the multimedia systems on the web I have always envisioned (I wrote and sold a SMIL based multi-user publishing system call Smibase a few years back – that’s how I ended up at the Beeb). MPEG4 does this too, or will more once we see more tools to ‘orchestrate’ content. Quicktime also has huge untapped power as a multimedia application wrapper – did you know you can embed Flash inside Quicktime and have the QT ‘talk’ back and forth to the Flash ‘track’? You can. It’s pretty cool. BUT the tools out there to manipulate such formats are few and far between. LiveStagePro was one I used a few years ago to come up with a solution to put up-to-date news on massive screens in UK railway stations. I ended up going back to Director10 (which I hadn’t used since version 4!!) and built it in Lingo, with a WYSIWYG Flash based back end.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s all these great formats out ALREADY. But people will keep reinventing the wheel and trying to come up with new formats, when I think what we should be doing is building TOOLS to test/evolve/bolster/work the formats we already have. I’m usually pleasantly surprised when I do that. But I admit to ‘making stuff up’ if I can’t find things or am pushed to find a solution (which I know can be fixed later on by someone who rally knows that part of the system – if need be)

And about ‘winning’: Dave and I once had a chat where the subject of ‘heroes’ came up. I think Dave would like to be ‘a hero’ of sorts. And to many he is. My take on it is that you don’t need to be the winner to be the hero or the ‘legend’.

It’s about hearts. Not prizes. They last longer (we pray).


Who is this ‘kosso’ anyway?

I am a 'Createc'. A creative technologist, entrepreneur/ hacker/ geek. Worked on building things on the web for over 12 years.

Used to work at BBC News interactive and created the publishing and delivery systems for video news to get distributed on huge screens in major railway stations around the country.

I left the BBC to become CTO / sole-lead architect/developer at podcast.com for three years.

I have now left them to build a start up a new system called 'Phreadz', which is a 'Social Multimedia Conversation Network', integrating everything that is 'V.I.T.A.L' to us on the web. Video, Images, Text, Audio and Links.

I built the whole thing my myself. I programmed every line of code and positioned every pixel. I'm looking forward to attracting an hiring new members of the team to help me out! :)

There are currently over 1000 happy and helpful beta testers on the system so far and one client of a white-labelled solution.



@kosso : twitter

kosso's flickr stream

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