Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tech Tuesday: Podcasting

I think part of the reason I got interested in doing a podcast is that there is so much undocumented, or at least not easily documented, about doing one. From the recording, to presentation, to publication, it can be quite puzzling; and I love a tech puzzle. So, this week we'll look at what software and websites I use to get my voice to the people.

First, of course, you need a way to record your podcast. I use Audacity, an open source (read "free") recorder that runs on the three major operating systems. You will likely need one add on, the LAME converter. Audacity will not allow you to process MP3 files without LAME. Get it here (also open source).

Audacity allows for multiple tracks and general effects. It is not terribly intuitive, unfortunately, but that might have to do with my inexperience with audio recording. With a bit of Google-ing and practice I was able to get things going pretty easily. Audacity allows to to save projects, so you can modify individual tracks later. After things sound the way you want, export the file as an MP3 or WAV. Note that I typically decrease the bitrate to make the file smaller. It decreases sound quality, but not noticably. We are just talking about voice.

Now that you have your sound file, you might want to make it a bit cooler. I found a great tool for adding my podcast's album art to the file. There is a cool little program called ID3 Album Art Fixer, here, which will embed album art into MP3 files. It is also free, and created bu blogger Dan Preston. I created my album art as a JPG file, and then went through the simple steps. Just put your artwork and MP3 files into a folder, and run the program against that folder. Note, it will modify all MP3 files in that folder, so isolate your podcast files. You can also use this to fix MP3 files that do not have artwork associated with them.

Last, you will need somewhere to store your podcasts. I have webspace that I use. There are options which I have not looked into hosting sites much, but see sites like PodBean (which purports to be free), but there is an article on publishing here that seems quite informative. Once you have webspace, you may need to generate an XML/RSS feed. I use Feedburner to generate subscription (part of the Google/Blogger family), and a site called PodcastBlaster to start my XML document.

I am still fighting through a few things, but if you are interested I hope this helps you get started.

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