Podcast User Magazine Article – Circa 2007

Working as podcast producer
Working as podcast producer by the tartanpodcast, on Flickr

Looking through my collection of Google Docs, I stumbled across the following article that I wrote for Podcast User Magazine, possibly from 2007. This year marks seven years since I started Podcasting and, although lately I’ve been very lax on getting a regular show out, it’s still a very big part of my life.

Part of me wishes that the revolution I talk about in the article actually did happen and that these artists found fame for being extremely good at what they did, rather than through a Simon Cowell backed reality TV show. Can’t have everything though, can you?

How Podcasting is helping independent bands bring their music to the masses

Picture the scene. Early 2005 in a small, quiet house in central England. A 19-year-old guy who previously attempted to learn to play the drums, and failed, sits at his computer listening to a Podcast for the very first time, amazed that he is able to listen to some guy in the US talk with another guy and play music – their own music. The concept immediately has him thinking of the many “radio shows” he had recorded with a friend while at school. Only this time, there actually might be a chance for people to hear what he had been trying to say.

That was my very first experience of podcasting, listening to Steve Lacey sit down and have a chat with a friend from his band; Spank. They talked about everyday things, podcasting, music and their band’s impending CD-release party. I was immediately bitten by the podcasting bug and wanted to know more. How did it all work? What did I need to do to get my own one out there? These answers were quite hard to come by, but after about a week I managed to hastily cobble together a very quiet podcast entitled “El’s Thoughts”.

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Rhubarb Radio Archive

As many of you will know, I used to do a show on Rhubarb Radio. Between July 2009 and November 2011, I was the stations “webmaster”, in charge of ensuring all the shows got recorded and were available for Listen Again. When I joined I set about looking for ways to improve the service we were giving our listeners.

As a station our on demand vs listen live was typically around 3:1, so making sure everything ran smoothly was the most important, and sometimes most difficult part to get right. Having done a bit of research, I settled on using Amazon S3 as not only a backup service but also as a Content Delivery System for listeners using on demand. The prices were cheap, a lot cheaper than our host wanted to charge us, and it meant that we could take the load of our server, which was prone to falling over when having to stream on demand and live. It took me a good few months to set up the system, but in the end once a show had been recorded by the server, it was automatically uploaded to S3 and the link to it on the website  was replaced by the one on the CDN.

When the fortunes of Rhubarb Radio changed, we weren’t able to keep funding S3, simply because there was no money coming in and the Director of our Parent company had moved on to his new venture. Times were tough, and a few months after I left in November 2011, Rhubarb was closed down.

Yesterday, I got an email from Amazon with a monthly statement for S3 attached to it. For some reason, I’m still investigating as to what, the account had been linked to my most recent login and I had been charged $60 for one month of storage (nearly 500gb). I sent a short, polite email, explaining what had happened and asking, as a complete shot in the dark, if I would be able to have access to the account again so we could move our content off the service and distribute it to ex-Presenters.

Surprisingly, within a couple of hours I had a reply, permission to access the account and the promise of a refund once I closed down the account. Having dealt with Customer Service in the past, I was pleasantly surprised at how speedy and how helpful they had been. So, “what does this all mean?” I hear you ask. Essentially, I have “most” of the Rhubarb Radio output from 2009-2011. I’m assuming that after I left, the shows weren’t backup up to S3, so anything after November 2011 is probably lost forever.

I’m going to be download as many shows as I can and will probably end up sending out DVDs for those that want theirs. If you have any specific requests, please let me know. Once I close the account, that’s it.

Rhubarb Radio from Fourseventy Media on Vimeo.

Fixing an iPod touch screen…

When Aimee moved to Cornwall I wanted a way of staying in touch with her. Phoning her Mum everytime I wanted to speak with her was one option, Skype another, but then I had the idea of buying her an iPod and allowing her to contact me when she wanted to. Using iMessage meant we could really keep in touch, with FaceTime the option when we wanted to talk to each other.

She loved it, taking photos of anything she can, sending me updates on her day, recording videos and even using it to set reminders for herself. This isn’t an advert for how great the iPods are, Apple lovers will already know this, it’s the fact that without it, I wouldn’t have been able to keep that connection that we’ve had since she was born.

A few weeks ago, we’d gone to the Eden Project and she was loving every minute of it. She’d realised that she could do what I was doing – taking photos to share with people who weren’t there. Through a bit of over excitement, she’d dropped it a couple of time. I took a look and it was fine. Then, the third drop proved to be the worst. The screen was smashed, almost completely.Anyone who has a child will know the face that come from her next, she was distraught. A little reassurance that it wasn’t the end of the world (and an ice cream) was enough to calm her down, and we all forgot about it.

Last week I ordered a new screen and the tools from eBay. I’d seen a few places online that would do it for between £40 and £60, but this involved sending it all away and trusting them to send it back. Not something I was that keen on myself. Being the geek that I am, I found the full kit – LCD, digitiser and tools – for £15, including P+P. I’ve always had an interest in how things work, so I went for it.

This morning the screen and tools arrived, so I took the plunge and had a go. I didn’t do it on my own, however. The very detailed video from Gadget Menders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HSK7kS1c9w) was very helpful. Unfortunately, some of the tools that were included weren’t the best to get the screen off due to the state it was in, so I improvised by using a craft knife *carefully*.

Three hours and a few choice words later, the new screen is installed and everything works. Although frustrating at times, it was actually a quite enjoyable way to spend a few hours of my Saturday morning. I’ve also applied one of those extra strong screen protectors, just to be on the safe side.