Phil Torrone has written a fantastic article on creating iTunes-ready enhanced podcasts, covering everything from recording the audio to adding images and URLs using Apple’s ChapterTool utility.
While I’m on the subject of iTunes and podcasts, I’d like to share my two cents on the whole RSS extension debate. For those who haven’t been following this story, iTunes 4.9 introduced some new tags to the RSS format. Contained within these tags are various podcast related elements such as show duration, description, summary, explicit flag, and others. While I’m far from an RSS expert, I think it’s the right move for Apple and for the community. Some have complained about the added tags, saying that some are redundant or that they don’t follow standards, but the idea is to create a separate chunk of information in the feed which applies only to iTunes (or other “podcatching” utilities, should they choose to). It should be noted that all of the iTunes related tags start with “itunes:”, for easier identification. These tags are there for the sole purpose of enhancing the user experience, and do not exist in the RSS standard. While Apple could have asked the RSS community to consider these additions, that could have taken eons and most certainly delayed the release of the iTunes update. The choice was clear: create a block of tags specific to iTunes, and leave it at that. And despite Apple effectively taking over the podcast arena and “forcing” these changes upon people, having support in one of their flagship programs is the absolute best way to get listeners’ attention. Swift and widespread consumer adoption of a new medium isn’t force; It’s technology done right, folks.
Standards arguments aside, there are still some undeniable bugs in iTunes 4.9. Mark Pilgrim points out that iTunes does not support, among other things, ETags, Last-Modified, gzip or zlib compression. These bandwidth-saving features are extremely common among websites, and their absence from the iTunes update is obviously an oversight on the part of the engineers at Apple. Podcasting is still quite new, and I’m sure bugs will be ironed out. John Gruber has a thorough (as always) article on the update, and I highly recommend reading it.
That said, I love the user experience Apple provides for podcasts. Other services exist, like Odeo and PodcastAlley, but I can’t be convinced to use them regularly because I enjoy the simplicity of keeping the entire process (from searching to subscription) contained within iTunes. This is part of the reason that the iTunes Music Store is so popular, and it’s one that Apple has touted since the release — you don’t have to keep jumping between programs to get your content.
I finally gave in and bought a Flickr Pro subscription. The main reason being that they only allow you three photosets on an unpaid account, whereas pro members have an unlimited amount. Now that I have a pro account, I’ve sorted my photos into my newly acquired photosets, and the results can be seen in the updated gallery here at Command-Tab. I’ll be adding photos to a new set each time I do a project, as well. If you would like to keep up with my photos, you can subscribe to my Flickr RSS feed (or Atom, if you prefer).
Despite how long I managed to put off purchasing a Pro account, I really do think that the services Flickr provides are great. Not only do they have a community on their site, they allow you to access all your photos programmatically via an API, allowing to share them with others on your own site. The API also comes in handy for other projects, as well. I’m quite happy with what they’ve pulled off in a fairly short time, and I’m sure I’ll be a paid member for a long time to come.
Is anyone else having a problem with spam e-mail crashing Mail.app? For some reason, messages that have a lot of links cause Mail to lock up and eat CPU time while loading messages, or to simply not quit. After several “delete message, force quit” cycles, it goes away. It also happens when I receive en amil containing links intended to be comment spam on this site. Very odd.
I ran across this little gem on digg, and it’s one of those things ideas you think of but never act on, then kick yourself for later. Years ago, I had the idea of putting small LCD screens inside each key on a keyboard so that when you hold down a modifier key, such as control or option (alt), the entire keyboard pattern changes to show you what symbols are revealed. It’s everything the ridiculous Windows Alt-key combinations could ever hope to be, and what the Mac key combos could have been if the technology was available. Several years ago, though, I had neither the skills nor the technology to create such a keyboard, much less the inclination to patent the idea. Fast forward to today and you’ll find the Optimus keyboard — a brilliantly executed piece of engineering, combing sleek Apple-like style with low-power Organic LED screens in each key. Not only can the tiny displays change to show character mappings, they can also show color graphics such as icons or representations of actions, handy for Photoshop or other such applications. Designed by Art Lebedev (you may know them for their clever and popular bar code posters), the Optimus keyboard is not yet in production. However, I know this much: I want one. See some more photos of it on their site.
Update: Read an interview with the creators.
One of the coolest new technology sites, digg, recently launched the second revision of their site, and it looks killer. Complete with AJAX story digg-ing and a slick new interface, digg is up there with the best of them. Check out the new site, or digg my submissions.