Henrik Carlsson's Blog

Why don’t podcasts use VBR MP3s? Because iOS and macOS don’t accurately seek them

https://marco.org/2016/08/15/vbr-mp3-plea

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Please Anchor, be a good citizen of the open web

I’ve tried Anchor today. It’s a service that let’s its users post short audio posts, like Twitter but for audio. Or put more accurately, it allows its users to make short-form podcasts. I thought it was really fun to use, and discussing a topic on it with a friend seemed much more fruitful that doing the same thing on Twitter.

The setup procedure in the app was simple and as far as I know there are no easier way of recording a piece of audio and broadcasting it ”to the people”. (Note the quotes.)

However, there are quite enough silos around already and I really don’t like to lock myself into yet another one. I want to own the data – or content if you prefer – that I create. Therefore I’d like the following:

I also want to mix and match sources. I want to be able to consume similar content in one app, not having to constantly switch from one app to the other just because people lock their content in various silos.

As I said in the beginning, what Anchor does is provide a way to easily record short-form podcasts and publishing them to the people following you. There is nothing about this that is new from a podcasting perspective. What is new, is how easy they’ve made it. I love that! But since they are podcasts I want to treat them as such. I want people to be able to listen to the things I publish even if they don’t have, never have had, nor ever will get, an account on Anchor.

So I would like Anchor to provide a way for its users to use the content they – the users that is – create outside of the Anchor. The simplest way to do this, that almost certainly would require very little effort on Anchor’s part, is to have some sort of feed for each user of the service. Making those feeds RSS feeds with <enclosure> elements would make them compatible with pretty much all podcatchers that are currently in use.

That would make the service so much less of a silo. It would mean that other people could listen to my stuff outside of Anchor and I could interleave the ”Waves”1 of people on Anchor with other short- or long-form podcasts that I listen to. It would also mean that I could set up automation to cross-post my waves to my own site.

And it wouldn’t even have to be RSS/XML. Any kind of easily parseable feed available without authentication would do for me. Once upon a time even Twitter provided this function for its users tweets and it was great.

Sure, it would be nice to have a posting API for Anchor and it would be equally nice to have a way of using their app to post directly to another service, or to my own blog, but the simple act of adding feeds would take them so far along the way of becoming good citizens of the open web. And I want them to be that since I thought the app and service was great, but I don’t want to lock up my content.

One good thing about it is that there are more or less easily accessible URLs for each Wave. Unfortunately, those URLs are not easily crawlable for the media they are meant to display.

I’ve asked Anchor, both on Anchor and on Twitter, whether they are going to add feeds or not. So far I’ve not gotten a respons. If you who read this also finds this important, please ask them about it you too. (They are @anchor on Twitter.)

So please Anchor, please, be a part of the open web. In your Medium posts you claim to be ”the world’s first true public radio”. Make this real by actually making the content created by your users public. Embrace feeds, embrace the open web.


  1. A post on Anchor is called a wave

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Some awesome things

This is just at quick post to share some awesome robotics stuff on YouTube.

Yesterday I took a long walk with Iris and while she slept I listened to a whole bunch of episodes of the silly podcast Robot or Not?. It’s really silly, and funny, and great, and if you have any interest in the Incomparable and/or Jason Snell or John Siracusa you should listen to it!

Anyway, all their talk about robots got me thinking about BB-8 and the fact that I kind of want to put a BB-8 toy on the wish list for my 30th birthday. Still, it’s a really expensive toy considering that the main thing I’d probably have it do is patrol back and forth through my house. So instead I started thinking about building robots, which led me to YouTube.

First, I found this great of how the BB-8 toy works wherein a guy who build robots for fun, and who has built and R2-D2, takes a BB-8 toy apart and shows how it works.

Then I found a video of a guy who’s building his own BB-8 from a globe, and RC car and some other stuff. Inspiring idea, and I love how he walks us through his work.

I then took a closer look at the guy behind said video and he seems to be simply awesome! He builds all kinds of cool geeky stuff. How about an actual ion propulsion for a TIE Fighter toy? Check this guy out!

And finally, as I made my way out of the BB-8 hole and towards the Arduino based robots I’ve seen before I found this guy, Kid Robot Maker and his video about how to make a cheap Arduino robot. This kid is my new hero!

The robot he builds is excellent in its simplicity and I love how this kid, who seems to be really young, just throws himself out there to the world and sort of says ”hi, let me show you something awesome”. How come I, who are probably at least twice his age, never seems to be able to work up the courage to do a video like this of some simple but cool project.

Kid Robot Maker, you’re the man!

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Just nu lyssnar jag på Expressens podcast ”Politiknörden” där den liberala debattören Mattias Svensson pratar om miljöpolitik från ett högerperspektiv.

Mycket intressant!

”Jag skäms när Muf delar ut hamburgare” | Politiknörden | Expressen.

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New 5by5 podcast – The Web Ahead

The great 5by5 podcast network has recently launched a new show called ”The Web Ahead. It is

A weekly podcast about changing technologies and the future of the web, discussing HTML5, mobile, responsive design, iOS, Android, and more. Hosted by Jen Simmons.

The first episode was published last week and featured Peter Lubbers who told us a great deal of information about web storage/local storage/web databases etc. and I thought it was awesome. This weeks episode is a long talk with Ethan Marcotte about ”Responsive Web Design”.

I highly recommend you all to start subscribing to this (and all other great 5by5 shows).

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The real openness of Google+

In the spirit of ”give credit where credit is due” and as a follow up to this mornings rant about Google+ and what’s not opened about is, here is some praise to Google for what is in fact open.

According to the SitePoint podcast #120 Google+ has a feature called ”Data liberation” (or something like) that allows you to export everything on your profile in more or less open formats. That’s seriously awesome!

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Designing and developing a new website for my music

In this blogs very first post I mentioned how I tried to differentiate the various projects I’ve got going. This blog should be my main blogging platform for tech related stuff, with the occasional guest appearance of my other interests. The part of my old web site that was dedicated to my small one-man business was to be moved to another location. Also my music [would] find it’s own place. The time for this place-finding is now.

A few days ago I purchased a few domains. One of them was synvila.se, the new home for my music. Synvila has been my monicker in music-making for the past two or three years (during which time I haven’t written much music). It’s a tongue-in-cheek misspell of the swedish word synvilla which means mirage. The music is melancholic pop/rock songs. For the past couple of years I’ve been writing all my lyrics in swedish, however I think that is about to change now.

That said, now it is time to actually make a web site to put up at synvila.se. Right now it’s just a temporary page with links to my SoundCloud-account.

Inspiration

Inspired by the recently launched second season of the Boagworld.com podcast I’ve decided to use this blog as a public eye into my design and development process. In order to have some sort of structure in my work (working for myself is usually very sporadic and messy) I’m planning to loosely follow the work-flow that’s presented in that podcast. Hence I will start with the purpose of synvila.se, the so called Business objective, Success criteria and Calls to action. (If any of these words seems strange or unknown to you and you are curious about them I’d advice you to listen to the boagworld podcast and read as much as you can from that blog. It’s really great stuff for anyone who designs, develops or runs web sites.)

The Why and How

This is always hard to admit when it comes to any kind of personal web page. Off-course it’s mainly rooted in some sort of egomania. I make music because it makes me feel good and I spread it via the web because I want people to take notice of my work. If I could earn some money on it that would be just great, because things I get paid for I can consider work and therefore spend more time doing. If not, thats fine too because I want listeners, that is really the main objective, the money-part is just a possible (but improbable) bonus.

In order to at least enable myself to make a few dimes on the music (and also expose myself to a bigger audience) I plan to put some of my music up on iTunes Music Store and Spotify.

Business objectives

So here’s the why as a list of business objectives, in order of prioritization.

  1. Increase the reach of my music/build my personal brand
  2. Get people to download and listen to my music
  3. Get people to pay for my music

Success criteria

Setting up these objectives would be pointless if there where no way to measure whether they’re successful or not, so here’s a list of ways to do that.

  1. A rise in the number of downloads of my music.
  2. Increase the number of my twitter-followers and people tweeting about my music (hash-tag #synvila).
  3. A rise in the number of scrobblings on last.fm.
  4. A rise in the number of purchases in the iTunes Music Store.
  5. A rise in the number of listenings on Spotify.

Most of these will be hard to measure because my music has been spread in so many places and I’ve been bad at collecting the statistics. The number of iTunes-purchases and Spotify-streamings can of course only go up since they are zero now. To get some kind of statistics to compare the results of the new site with I will look at my number of listeners on last.fm and MySpace, my number of downloads from the same services and from my old podcast-feed.

Twitter

Right now @synvila is my catch-all twitter-account. There I write about anything and everything from my life and link to a lot of other content. I will have to make a choice whether to continue like that or to start a new account for the music.

MySpace

As of this blog post I have decided to consider MySpace dead. My old MySpace-page will be kept, but its sole purpose will be to link to synvila.se.

Calls to Action

In order for the visitor to accomplish my success criteria and my objectives to be met I need to provide some sort of calls to action. This is a prioritized list of what they will likely be:

  1. Subscribe to updates via RSS (or maybe e-mail).
  2. Follow me on twitter/SoundCloud (and maybe Vimeo?)
  3. Download tracks
  4. Twitter about the music
  5. Purchase in iTunes
  6. Listen in Spotify

The reason I put subscriptions and followings at the top two spot is that I want people who listens/downloads/purchase more than one song. This also helps fulfilling the first objective; Increase the reach of my music/build my personal brand.

A few things

The design process of the site will mostly be done in the browser. I’m not primarily a designer and my Photoshop/Fireworks skills are virtually none existent. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have a copy of Photoshop.

The site will probably be based around either WordPress or Perch as CMS, though I will try to do as much integration with other services, primarily SoundCloud, as possible. The bulk of the code that I will produce in this process will likely be available on github (MrHenko).

Let’s wrap this thing

That’s all folks. With this as ground-work I will start working on synvila.se. The process will continue to be documented here in the blog. I don’t know whether it will be a quick or slow process. Right now I feel very inspired and want to get to it, but life have a tendency to come up with other things that needs attending.

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Podcaster for iPhone

I spend a big part of my life with my iPhone headset on. For the last six months or so most of that time has not been about listening to music, it’s been about podcasts.

My podcast craze started last summer when I discovered Boagworld.com, just as it took a break from regular production. The addiction was furthered as 5by5.tv came into my life. I could write a whole post about why Boagworld and various 5by5-shows are awesome, but I won’t. Not now anyway.

In the beginning of my podcast listening i was perfectly happy with the podcast feature in iTunes. When I browsed through Boagworld’s extensive back catalogue it was easy to just download huge chunks of episodes on my Mac and sync it to the iPhone. However as I started listening to more and more new podcasts the tethering of the iPhone to the computer started to feel more and more annoying. Enter Podcaster for iPhone.

Everything that iTunes does, Podcaster does better. It also does a whole lot of stuff that iTunes doesn’t, primarily keeping good track of my subscriptions, let’s me chose whether I wan’t to limit my downloads to WiFi connections only or not (regardless of file size) etc. It also keeps a handy archive of podcasts to browse through. (Yes, off course you can add any podcast to your list simply by entering the RSS-feed URL of the podcast.) And it also gives you push notifications whenever a podcast you’re subscribing to has been updated (highly customizable).

Do you listen to podcasts and own an iPhone? Then it’s a no-brainer in my book. Visit Podcaster.fm or head straight to the App Store and buy Podcaster!

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New @5by5 podcast – Critical Path

The brilliant podcasting site/company/network 5by5 released a new show about mobile computing two days ago. I will check it out right now.

Check out http://5by5.tv/criticalpath/ or its RSS-feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/criticalpath.

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