Friday, February 28, 2014

The Great Podcast Migration

(The following events may or may not have occurred in the creation and publication of my podcast. I refuse to say in order to protect the guilty.)

You decide you want to do a knitting podcast. You have a webcam on your computer. You could just record on there, upload it (somewhere, you don't even think about the where really) and tell everyone about it. Done. This will be easy.

Then you get started. You sit down to record and realize that you aren't even quite sure what you want to talk about. You look around frantically for your works in progress. But wait, are you really prepared to admit on camera you have 20 WIP's? Not even your knitting circle know this shameful secret. (Actually, you didn't even realize this until you started counting them.)

What about yarn, didn't you buy some yarn this week that was really cool? Ok, grab it. Share that, too.

Segments - should you have segments? The cool podcasters all have cute segment names that go with cute themes related to the title of their podcasts. You then spend the next 2 hours trying to figure out what theme best describes you - your interests, personality, quirks. You stop worrying about segment titles when you realize you are a knitting-obsessed crazy person without much else going on, whose idea of a big Friday night is casting on a new pattern with expensive yarn.

You finally hit record on your webcam, and begin talking. It doesn't take you long to figure out that talking out loud to a camera by yourself in a closed room is weird and creepy. You would invite someone to be your co-host, except you don't know anyone who is as obsessed with knitting as you are, who also doesn't live in your computer. Could you Skype them in? What would that involve? 

Now that you have actual recorded material to use for a podcast, you finally realize you have to upload it somewhere. Your first thought is the website you see in the bottom corner of all your favorite podcasts. You go to this site and try to upload your recorded file only to find out that it won't take the video format you used. It requires some m4vpqr something or other file. What the heck is that? You begin a Google search for video converters. Gah! You read through pages of ads and descriptions of post-production video software. Now you are beginning to realize that this might not be the easy-peazy foray you had imagined. You also realize it might not be free, as you begin to price said software.

After two software purchases and calls to your tech-savvy brother-in-law to the point that your sister has to call and ask you to watch the help videos instead of bothering him again, you now have a video your chosen web service will accept. You hit upload and watch in horror as it tells you that your upload will take 2 hours and 48 minutes. WHAT! You recorded for only 10 minutes! How long would it take to upload an hour long video? You begin to wonder if this is the real reason podcasts last no more than 50 minutes.

You put the computer in a safe place and pray to every god you can think of to let this work without having to start the upload again. You also lock your dog in the backyard. Fido jumping on the computer in the middle of the upload would mean you would have to kill him, and you really don't want to have to do that. You check on your "baby" periodically, and finally the miracle of birth occurs as you see the announcement that your video is ready for viewing. Now to announce the happy occasion of the new arrival to the world of knitting podcasts. 

Telling others - hmmm. Well, there's Facebook, of course, but your knitting friends don't live there. They live in a strange realm called Plurk. So you dash over to that site and post a comment and a link to go watch your new show. You wait and watch the screen, hoping that someone will post that they just watched and think you are cute, wonderful, and the best podcaster ever known to dogs or man. Instead, you immediately get asked if it is on iTunes. iTunes? How do you get it to show up there? You have not been living under a rock, and you knew this might come up, but you thought you would have time to revel in your new knitting fame before having to learn about podcast subscriptions. You also thought the podcast fairy might come down and magically iTunes would know about your podcast and begin streaming it instantly. Unfortunately, that be-atch must be busy because iTunes appears to be completely ignorant of your awesomeness. Back to Google to research how to make this happen, only to discover that your video web service has a sneakily hidden little menu that would have allowed you to send your video to iTunes from the beginning. You mutter ridiculous threats to the website's servers under your breath as you fill out its "handy" form.

Later, after many more Google searches, online forms, and long hours online while mainlining lots of coffee, your little podcast is online, on iTunes, and has its own Ravelry group. Four people have even watched your first episode! You are so happy, which is good, because you should have recorded your second week's episode yesterday.

Time passes, episode numbers and viewer counts grow, and you become a "seasoned" podcaster. Other podcasters begin asking you for answers, and much to your surprise, you find you have become totally comfortable debating whether m4v is a better video format than mp4. Life is good.

That's when you begin hearing the rumors of the oncoming storm. Your video webhost has decided to go in what they are calling "a new direction." Many podcasts are being removed from their rolls. Fear enters your heart. Will your darling be one of the slaughtered? You watch your inbox for weeks with a nervous tension in your gut as you scan through your new emails, but somehow, your little show is spared - for now. You trudge on, a weary traveler on this road, but at least you are still alive.

Then, one fateful morning, your sky falls as you see in your inbox "From Webhost." No, you scream! Not my baby! You read the letter, tears threatening to form in the corner of your eyes, only to find out that it is not what you feared, but that they will no longer be sending your RSS feed to iTunes. Oh, whew! You thought it was going to be a big deal, but it is just the RSS feed. No biggie. (Insert laughter from other, wiser, podcasters here.) What this actually means, you discover weeks later two days before the looming deadline, is that you will have to find somewhere else online to begin storing your videos. Easy - YouTube - you think, but not so fast. YouTube and iTunes are not on speaking terms. You can be friends with YouTube, and you can be friends with iTunes, but you can't let one know you are friends with the other. And of course, your current video webhost has packed up its toys and gone home because it no longer wants to play with anyone.

That's when, like a superhero out of the cyber sky, swoops in Feedburner and Archive to save the day, and thus, The Great Podcast Migration begins. Tutorials from the podcast Moses's begin appearing, showing you the way to the new world. You follow their teachings, dedicating long hours once again to this show you began years ago as a way to have fun connecting with other knitters. Your fingers become sore from typing in new URL codes. Your wrists ache from clicking "Upload" repeatedly for each old show - once to YouTube, once to Archive, change blog post, change Ravelry entry, check iTunes upload, repeat. (Why did you record so many bleapin' shows anyway?) But, through patient toil, your videos once again begin to populate the cyber-sphere. Viewers return. The sun pokes through the electronic clouds, and you remember, it is worth it.

Copyright 2014. Carolyn Warren of Girlfriends Knitting. All rights reserved.

(Picture credit: http://www.wix.com/blog/2012/02/how-to-start-a-successful-podcast/)

7 comments:

  1. Good writing Carolyn. Frankly, I can't imagine what you guys go through for us podcast junkies.
    Lmecoll on Ravelry

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Being a podcast junkie myself - I am happy to do it! I am glad you all appreciate it so much.

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  2. We junkies really do appreciate what you do for us,, and sympathise with what you have been put through lately.

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  3. And this, my dear friend, is why, though I really would love to be part of the podcast world, I haven't done it. You are a wonderful writer. Thought math was your thing!

    Beaglemomknitter

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    Replies
    1. Why thank you! I am one of those weirdos who likes both - Math major, minor in Shakespearean literature. LOL

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  4. Thank you for this post. I never imagined it was so complicated, and you write the funny side of things, so thank you for the podcast too!
    Philhellene-podcast junkie

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