Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blogger + Google Docs Podcast

I often enjoy listening to podcasts while I'm playing around with the computer. The java posse, TED, Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, and the New Yorker Political Scene are some of my favorites.

I recently began wondering how I could publish my own podcast of (for example) a lecture at the university or whatever with as little expense and effort as possible. It turns out that cheap and easy podcast publishing can be a simple 3 step process thanks to great free online services like Google's docs and blogger, and the very useful open source audacity audio program (or Garage Band is probably even better on the Mac).

  • First, record your podcast with audacity or garage band or your iPhone or whatever. You can get as professional as you want - I'm just a hack for now.
  • Second, publish your audio file online. Google docs gives you 1 GB of storage for free, but Microsoft's skydrive provides 25 GB for free!
  • Third, setup a podcast feed that links to your audio file. A podcast feed is just a specialized RSS feed, which is just an XML file that readers know how to interpret. You could just edit an rss xml file, and publish that via Google docs or skydrive, but Google's blogger platform makes it easy to associate audio files with blog entries, so the blog feed also acts as a podcast feed.
  • Finally, register the podcast's feed url (ex: with iTunes or your favorite podcast player.

Even an idiot like me can pollute the internet with worthless media!

Update ...

I wrote this post before I actually had the podcast feed working, and I wound up driving myself crazy trying to get iTunes to recognize the podcast when hosting the .mp3 file on Google docs. The feed worked fine with Google Reader, but I think iTunes looks at the enclosure URL to decide what kind of media file a feed item references rather than trusting the enclosure's mime type attribute. Google docs generates nonsensical urls that do not preserve the file extension (ex: is a .mp3 file), so iTunes throws a
There are no playable episodes ... The URL might point to text-only episodes, or contain file types that iTunes cannot play.
error when loading the podcast.

Fortunately, Skydrive came to my rescue with an iTunes friendly URL for my audio file:

It also turns out that Google Reader is nice about letting random frickjacks embed its audio player!

Another Update ...

Freakin' sky-drive url's don't persist (there's some kind of cache timeout mojo), so the .mp3 links are now bogus. Back to the drawing board!

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