Software Technology

The Death of Independent Podcasting

Death of the Podcast

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Podcasting is nothing more than a phase. It will probably always be around in some format or other, but it is destined slow down to the point of existing in the form of only a few (maybe 20 or 30 at most) podcasts that anyone cares about or listens to. The following points are generalizations, but ones that I feel mostly hold true.

1. Podcasts are time consuming to create. You can’t sit down on your lunch break at work and whip one out. You can’t write one on you PDA in the train on the way to work, you have to be physically in front of a computer with a microphone and have a dedicated chunk of non-interrupted time. Most people don’t have time to do that–not unless they are making money off it, which brings me to point two.

2. Podcasts don’t make money. I’m definitely not saying that every podcaster wants to make money, but if they wanted to, could they? I would guess there are probably 10 podcasters who actually make money and most of them have been around long before it was called podcasting. They have real experience in the industry and are producing full-fledged radio shows. Not only that, they are mostly run by companies with sales teams and content editors.

3. Podcasts are expensive to produce. In order to create a quality podcast, you’ve got to have some nice equipment. Just any old microphone plugged into your computer isn’t going to cut it. Not only do you have to have the equipment and software, you’ve got to know how to use it. Combine not making money with being expensive to produce and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

4. Podcasts are boring. On the whole, the podcasts I’ve listened to are good for the first couple episodes, but quickly dry up. I’m not assigning blame–it’s really hard to come up with 30 to 60 minutes of interesting content, especially if you’re doing it alone and on a regular basis. For the most part, it seems like people just don’t have that much to say or that much time to prepare to say it–not unless they have a team behind them preparing content and taking care of the technical side of things.

5. Podcasts sound bad. People who make it into radio generally get there in part because they have a good, interesting radio voice. Unfortunately we weren’t all endowed with radio voices. Even the most interesting and compelling content can become dull and hard to listen to if the presenter doesn’t have an appealing and varied voice.

6. Podcasts are too long. In my experience, the content that a 30 minute podcast contains could probably be gathered in about 2 minutes of scanning a website. Sometimes it’s nice to have 30 minutes to hear someone leisurely sharing their news and views, especially on a long car ride, but for the most part, I feel like constantly reaching for the fast forward button.

7. Podcasts are light on content. I read an article saying’s stock was taking a hit because free podcasts may replace audiobooks for a lot of people. I seriously doubt that will be the case. Listen to an hour of almost any book from Audible, then listen to an hour of a podcast. After which do you feel you’ve learned more? Been more entertained? Enjoyed? In my experience, it’s almost always the audiobook. Some people will opt for the free option of a podcast rather than paying for an audiobook, but I believe most people value their time enough to pay for content that they will get the most from.

I discovered podcasts in March of 2004, before the term podcast was coined. I was excited about them for about a month then quickly lost interest. I believe the same thing will happen for many other people as well; they’ll lose interest in all but the most professionally produced podcasts. The successful podcasts will probably be produced by companies who also do Public Radio, a select few who figure out to make money podcasting and the occasional enthusiast who has a lot of spare time on his or her hands, a great voice, technical skills and a whole lot of interesting things to say.

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Flash Software

Random Cool Software Finds and Hacks

OS X Icons

Here are a few apps and tips I’ve found over the past couple weeks. Hopefully some of them will be useful to you as well.

How to convert mp3’s to m4b’s
There’s a neat guide on iPodLounge on how to convert mp3 files (or better yet, CD’s) to m4b’s so you can bookmark them in iTunes and on your iPod. You can also use Rejoiner to join mp3’s if you have already ripped an audio book and have multiple files. Make Bookmarkable is a cool iTunes script that makes .aac files bookmarkable on iTunes for OS X (on Windows simply rename .aac files to .m4b for the same results).

Supinfo Share Manager
If you need an easy way to connect to Windows from OS X, check Supinfo Share Manager out. You can also save bookmarks of commonly accessed computers and set custom actions. It’s free.

Sidenote is a non-intrusive way to keep notes on OS X. I personally still use Notational Velocity (their website is down at the time of this writing), but depending on your needs, Sidenote could work better for you. It’s a great looking piece of free software.

gmail Widget
There are a few gmail widgets for Dashboard out there, but I like this stamp shaped one the best.

DownloadSquad is a great new blog with downloads for all types of software. I once started something similar, but it died due to lack of… something.

1 Click Answers
With the press of a hot-key (oddly enough, not a click) view information on any word from What you get includes highlights from Wikipedia, a dictionary, thesaurus and other facts. The software is called 1 Click Answers and works on Windows as well. If you use Tiger for OS X you can also can access the definition of any word (in a Cocoa app) by highlighting it and pressing ctrl+cmd+d (this is a built in feature). Director
Check out director for dynamic viewing and searching of bookmarks. If you’re not using yet, what are you waiting for? It’s the best way to find qualified links on almost any subject. Works with Firefox and IE (not Safari).

SuperDragAndGo is a great, timesaving extension for Firefox. SImply drag links, text and images to open, search and save. Try it and you’ll be hooked.

OS X doesn’t have wget built in, but it does have curl. I was trying to wget and it was just spewing a bunch of binary junk. The way to use it is curl -O I also discovered that if you want to get a bunch of numbered files you can do this curl -O[0-100].mp3. Very useful.

Slideshow Pro
Slideshow Pro is an excellent Flash app that keeps on improving. Create amazing slideshows from iPhoto or by hand editing a simple XML file.

Google Earth
In this case, the best is last. Google Earth is amazing. The ability to view anywhere on the planet in such a smooth and seamless way is astounding. If you’ve used Keyhole (the software Google bought to make Google Earth) the upgrade is a pretty big improvement. For one, it’s free, the huge watermarks are gone and there are other nice improvements to the user interface. Google Earth is most certainly worth looking at if you’re on a PC. The Mac version is forthcoming (hopefully).

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Business GTD Lifehacks Money Productivity

Ten Things You Can Do Today to Jump-start Success

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  1. Read or listen to something that motivates you every single day. If you don’t read another item on this list, take this to heart. Don’t let a single day go by without providing yourself external motivation.

  2. Keep a journal of your daily progress and carry it with you wherever you go. Change and progress will happen, but in order to recognize it, you have to record it. An example of a journal entry might be “Started tracking all expenses today, woke up 15 minutes earlier, set goal to read one book a month.” Some days you’ll do more than others, but the important thing is to do something every day and write down what you do.

  3. Make goals and re-write them every day. Your goals will change, don’t worry about making goals that right now feel unattainable or baseless. The hardest part of making big goals is starting. Start by recording between 5 and 10 changes you’d like to make or milestones you’d like to reach within the next three years and re-write the goals, along with a brief note of your current progress every day. Save the lists of goals as you go so you can see how they evolve and you progress. This idea is by no means unique to me, but I do it and I know it works.

  4. Keep track of every person you meet. If you don’t feel like you will remember their name, write it down, along with details of the conversations you had with them. Microsoft Outlook or almost any Personal Information Manager is great for storing this type of information. Keep it in a simple, but comprehensive system.

  5. Begin investing a portion of your income today. A great place to start is a high-yield savings account, an IRA or a 401k plan. Do not put off investing until you’ve found the ‘perfect’ investment. If you’re already investing some of your money, bump up the amount you invest a notch.

  6. Begin looking for opportunities to build passive income (money that you don’t have to work for once you’ve done the initial work) and write down or begin working on your ideas. The most important thing you can do is be aware of the ideas you already have. Focus on building assets, not more work for yourself.

  7. Only sleep as much as you need to. Sleep is obviously important, but don’t use the most important hours of your day dreaming. If you wake up at 7 and go to bed at 11, begin to wake up at 5:30 and go to bed at 10:30. Chances are there is an hour each day that you could use doing the above things that will make you more happy and successful.

  8. Look for opportunities to serve. If you are willing to help others, others will be more willing to help you. The benefits of service are real–you will find more happiness and peace through serving than through any amount of time or money.

  9. Keep track of every penny that you spend or save. Record every transaction in the back of your checkbook, in a spiral notebook or in accounting software. By doing it, you’ll begin to discover patterns you never would have found otherwise.

  10. Stop being a victim. Focus on what YOU can DO. Stop assigning blame, don’t look for excuses. Take the attitude of ownership. Don’t try to change others, make a decision then take action.

GTD Lifehacks Productivity

Two Great Uses for PostIt Notes


1. Task focus tool.
Before I sit down at the computer at home I take a sticky note and write on it what I plan to accomplish in that sitting.

I’ve found that despite my todo lists and best intentions, if I don’t have something phyically in front of me that I can check off as I go, I’ll often find myself aimlessly browsing the Internet and forget why I came to the computer in the first place. I try to make sure that what I write on the sticky is only as much as I can (and want to) accomplish in the time I’m sitting down. Once everything is crossed out, which is a great feeling every time, the aimless browsing can commence.

Sound simple? Try it. It works.

2. Goal keeping tool. I’ve decided to write my goals, along with a very basic estimate of my progress every morning on a sticky note and stick them on the most recently used page in my pocket Moleskine notebook. Each time I open it, I’m reminded of my goals.

An example goal might be:

“3/2007 – Earn $1000 passive income each month (600)”

Where 3/2007 is when I’d like to have it accomplished and 600 is the amount I’m currently earning a month. The last number could also be a percentage or other indicator of progress. Writing the goal down serves the purpose of reinforcing my committment as well as forcing me to re-evaulate–is this a goal that I’m working towards actively? How far have I progressed? Do I still think this is a worthy goal?

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At night, I take the PostIt note out and stick it in a folder. Reviewing past notes shows me how goals have evolved and progressed. Saving the notes is also motivation to do it every day–mentally I don’t want to break the record of writing my goals every day for so many days.

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