Podcasting. If you haven’t heard much about it, you will. Soon. Just as the Mac and a big ugly brite white Canon laser printer revolutionized desktop publishing, and the Internet revolutionized electronic publishing, Apple’s lowly iPod is revolutionizing music.
And broadcasting. Except now it’s called “Podcasting.” Through the magic of RSS feeds, you can Podcast your own radio music show, your own interviews, a small home movie (all developed from Garageband or iMovie), and get the resulting “program” ready to broadcast to the world.
Reinvented Software is helping to reinvent broadcasting with a nifty little Mac application called Feeder.
Feeder produces the XML files necessary for an RSS feed; the same kind you see on the home page of our site, and on countless other news and information web sites. RSS provides a headline and summary of the most recent articles from a news site.
iPodderX is a Mac application that lets you subscribe to the “Podcasting” feed. It’s like a Podcasting player in your Mac. Click Here for a look at iPodderX. You’ll need that to download and play the Podcast audio and/or video programs. The Lite version is free.
Using an RSS reader (or, a browser; RSS is embedded into Firefox and OmniWeb and Apple plans more RSS capability in the Tiger release of Safari) like NewsFire or NetNewsWire, you can subscribe to an RSS feed (headline and summary).
If the RSS feed has an attachment, say an MP3 file, or a compressed QuickTime movie, you end up subscribing to that, too.
Using Garageband or any audio or video recording application on the Mac, you can record 60 seconds (or more) of audio; your voice, some music, monkeying around, a Steve Ballmer imitation (wait, that’s the same thing as monkeying around), save it, attach it to your personal RSS feed via Feeder, and you’re ready to Podcast.
Podcast? How does your audio recording get to someone else’s iPod?
Trust me. It’s a few steps but it’s mostly automatic, assuming you use Feeder and iPodderX and set up the right steps. The easiest part is getting your audio or video file to someone else’s iPod so they can play it back.
In fact, let me skip to those last few steps. Once you’ve recorded something (audio or video), you’ll use Feeder to create the XML file for the RSS feed. That XML file and the audio or video file will need to go to a web server (or, simply a server that someone else can access with their RSS reader).
Assuming you used Feeder and got both the XML file and the audio or video file to the right place, you’re pretty much done.
Whoever subscribes to your RSS feed (that XML file and the attachment) will be able to download your Podcast audio (or video) by using iPodderX. The audio MP3 file is copied from your web server to their Mac.
Bingo. Podcasting. If 100 people read your RSS feed (it’s just a file and attached file on a web server) then 100 people or more could be listening to your personal Podcast.
That’s the easy part.
Before Feeder came along you’d have to invest in a couple of RSS or XML books from Borders to figure out how to handle construction of an RSS feed.
While you still have to park the XML file and the audio MP3 file (or video file) on a server someplace, that’s not too hard these days, and Feeder replaces the need to know how to code in XML.
Feeder comes with a nearly bewildering array of options but the step-by-step process works fine. Use Feeder to create, edit, and publish RSS feeds. An audio file is simply linked as an RSS attachment. That audio file gets downloaded to someone else’s Mac when they read your RSS feed.
iPodderX looks like a mini onscreen version of iTunes, except the “playlist” is a list of Podcasting sites. Click on one and the download begins.
You need Feeder to create your own RSS feed with attached audio or video. iPodderX is what you use to download the RSS feed to play back on your Mac.
Here’s what the developers of Feeder have to say:
Feeder comes with auto-complete and help screens to direct your steps. Really, it’s not much more than filling out a series of forms with the right information, then saving the XML file. Feeder even has a built-in FTP function for uploading your files to a server.
Your RSS feed can have images, formatting, links, and attachments. Feeder is so good that it’ll automatically validate your feed to the popular RSS 2.0 specification. There’s even an HTML preview so you can see how others might view your RSS feed.
Here’s what the iPodderX folks have to say:
So your downloaded Podcast music or audio can be sent straight to iTunes. From iTunes to iPod. Want to put images into your RSS feed?
It took me awhile to figure out what information goes into what form field inside Feeder. Click Here for a look at Feeder’s features, tech specs, and a gallery of screen shots.
Oh, Feeder is also a free download with a free trial. Try it out. When you get your first Podcasting going, let us know via our Feedback link below and we’ll publish your RSS link for our readers.
iPodderX is very easy to setup, intuitive, and comes with a few audio and video links already.
In summary, you use Feeder to set up your own RSS feed with photo or audio or video attachments. Upload those files from Feeder to a web server and you’re done.
Then, other Mac users use iPodderX to subscribe to your RSS feed, download your photos, or audio program, and Podcasting spreads.
Within an hour of downloading Feeder we had a working RSS feed with an attachment. Sorry it took so long. We just had to dink around awhile.
Click Here for the XML. All you’ll get on your browsing is an ugly paragraph of text. That’s what RSS files look like. However, drag the “Click Here” link above into iPodderX or NewsFire or NetNewsWire, and it’ll show up as a formatted headline, summary, and attachment.
The audio attachment plays in iPodderX and can be transferred into iTunes, then into someone’s iPod.
What do you think? Is that worth the effort? Will Podcasting supplant radio or TV? I doubt it. Frankly, it’s another form of very fragmented nominal entertainment (not that we don’t have enough of that already). Got an opinion? Share it with other Mac readers and click on the Comments link below.