Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Save your podcast subscriptions online

If you're using iTunes to download your podcasts, have you ever had it crash, or otherwise screw up your library of music? Chances are, you didn't lose your actual music, you just had to re-add it to your library. But what about your podcast subscriptions? You probably had to scour the web looking for the websites of podcasts which you never visit just to get your RSS feeds back.

Here's a solution that lets you subscribe to your podcasts using online tools so you never lose a subscription again.

Ok, first, let's go through all the tools I'm going to use:

1. Google Reader
2. Feedburner

That's it!

First, if you don't have one already, get yourself a Google account, and head over to the Google Reader website. Google Reader is an RSS aggregator that lets you tag your different feeds with arbitrary terms. Since we're talking about podcasts here, I suggest you tag your podcast feeds with 'podcasts'. I use the plural podcasts rather than the singular because it lets me distinguish the media feeds from the blogs I read about podcasting. Podcast, the singular form, would match them both.

If you have your feeds in an existing aggregator, like Juice, that lets you export an OPML file of your feeds, Google Reader will allow you to import all of them at once by clicking on the settings option in the upper right and then clicking on the Import/Export tab. This is by far the easiest way to go. If you can't export your feeds, you'll have to copy each one, and subscribe to them in Google Reader individually. Fortunately, this is the only painful part of the process.

After you have all your podcast feeds imported into Google Reader, and you've tagged them all with a uniquely identifiable term, you need to export the feed for all items tagged with that term. Click back to the main google reader page, and then click on settings again, and go to the Tags tab. You should see your 'podcasts' tag along with an RSS icon, a series of concentric orange quarter-circles. Click the icon to make the feed public.

Click on the 'view public page' link to view the exported items. This page should have an ATOM feed associated with it. ATOM is similar to RSS, but most podcast readers can't understand it. We have one more major step to go before iTunes can download your shows.

Copy the ATOM feed for your podcasts and head over to Feedburner.com. Drop the URL for your ATOM feed in the box on the front page, and check off the "I am a podcaster" check box. Click the next button. If you don't already have a Feedburner account, the website will give you the chance to sign up for one now. You can also take this opportunity to pretty-up the name and address for the feed you're going to be subscribing to in iTunes.

That's pretty much it. Now just take the new feed you've created, and subscribe to it in iTunes using the Advanced menu, Subscribe to Podcast (or the podcast downloader of your choice). The URL for your feed will be something like http://feeds.feedburner.com/<what you typed in>. Now, when you want to subscribe or unsubscribe to a podcast, just go to Google Reader, add the RSS feed, and tag it with 'Podcasts' and the shows will get automatically downloaded.

.NET complaint of the month: XmlDocument is not serializable

I gotta say, on the whole, I'm quite pleased with this .NET Framework that Microsoft has provided us with to develop software with. It's not often that I find something worth complaining about. But this is one of those times.

One of the cool features of .NET is that you can mark a class, or other data structure as serializable, which basically means that the structure and all its data can be easily tossed across a wire, performing a 'deep' copy. This is typically performed by creating an XML representation of that object and its data in a SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) envelope, or some binary form.

Now for the irony: The System.Xml.XmlDocument class is not fucking serializable. Yes, that's right. Microsoft's implementation of the very stuff used to serialize arbitrary objects is itself not serializable. I had to implement my interface with strings instead. Figure that out.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Being sick sucks

I don't get sick very often, but because of that, when I do get sick, I hate it that much more. In retrospect, I felt this particular sickness coming on a few days in advance, but I was reluctant to admit that I was getting sick, and if I heeded the statistics, chances are that I wasn't.

Fast forward to two days and one holiday party later. I wake up on Monday morning and feel like a bucket of smashed assholes. Feeling this way is enough to make me email in sick for (I think) only the second time this year. Don't tell my boss, but I wasn't really sick the first time...I think I just wanted to sleep in. For those of you who think emailing in sick is weird, I say calling in sick is just a good way to get caught in a lie.

Monday was a horrible day. I was burning up, but still felt, no matter how many clothes I put on, like I was freezing. I'm sitting in front of my computer wearing a sweatshirt, a fleece jacket, and a blanket, shivering. Between catching up on my TV watching, and calling into a scrum meeting, I actually managed to do some work, testing, mostly.

Tuesday morning I felt largely better, save a cough which persists to this day. From experience, this will probably last until at least after the Holiday season, and I get up at 4am to go stand in line at Futureshop for Boxing Day deals.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Interesting way to sell digital music

I'm regularly browsing Zunior.com, checking out new music that I can play on the podcast, and I came across an interesting idea that they had: a digital box gift set where MP3s get snail mailed to you on a USB thumbdrive that you get to keep as well.

It's obviously not as speedy as a download, but you actually get something physical, which is kind of cool, and thumbdrives are definately useful. I thought this was a cool idea, especially for a gift. Sending someone a download doesn't exactly feel "festive", but the thumbdrive could actually be wrapped and given as a present.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

My episode of commandN is online

In case you weren't clicking 'reload' on the page as much as I was, looking for this week's episode of commandN, it came online just moments ago. My segment starts at about 2 minutes in.

Monday, December 4, 2006

@#$%! Snow

I'm surprised I'm the first one to post about this. Maybe the rest of you are still stuck in traffic. More people should do audio posts...It's very therapeutic.

As you might expect, this audio is loaded with expletives. Handle with care.

PodcastSteve017SnowRant.mp3(audio/mpeg)2.6 MB[ Download ]

Sunday, December 3, 2006

You like Christmas music, right?

I'm sure that some of you know that in addition to Spine Radio, I also do a music podcast for Zunior.com. This month, I produced a mostly-holiday-themed episode that you might enjoy. Don't worry, it's not overly sappy sweet with holiday cheer...I don't think I could stand that either.

If you're interested, you can find it at zunior.blogspot.com, and if you like it, you can subscribe with the Zunior.com Podcast's RSS feed.

For anybody who missed the chance to win the Thurstons album I gave away in a previous episode of Spine Radio, you have another chance to get it in the Christmas episode of the Zunior.com Podcast.

PodcastZuniorPodcast008.mp3(audio/mpeg)60.6 MB[ Download ]

Friday, December 1, 2006

Windom Earle at Stage Nine

I'm killing myself waiting for this show. Go check out Windom Earle tonight at Stage Nine or you'll regret it. I mean it. They rocked the house at the Sappy Records Music Festival, and they'll rock the house again, I'm sure of it.