User Group Radio: Zach Young talks about using Live Meeting

My good friend Zach Young has been doing a lot of great work with using Live Meeting to enhance the user group and event experience over the last year.  He has even been part of the Virtual Alt .Net (VAN) calls that have grown like crazy and are completely virtual! 

I had the chance to corner him the other night after our Arkansas User Group Leadership call and interview him on the subject for User Group Radio, so head on over and check out this great interview and the awesome resources Zach has put together to make getting off the ground with Live Meeting a lot easier on the rest of us!

Zach thanks for the interview it was a great time.

Podcasting in Plain English

I always get asked to explain what podcasting is and how it works being a technical person I usually get into talking about RSS feeds, enclosures, blogs, bit rates etc.  Which by the way usually goes over their heads. 

I recently found a great video produced by the folks at Common Craft, if you are new to podcasting or have been wondering what all the buzz is about check it out.

Blogengine.net and Podcasting

 

I have recently been working hard to launch a new Podcast dedicated to the community, and in that spirit I wanted to use a community built blog to publish my new show.  I choose Blogengine.net because it supported enclosures in the RSS feed out of the box. One of the other really cool features I found was the ability to supply an alternate feed URL which allowed me to point new subscribers to my FeedBurner URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/UserGroupRadio.

This post is going to go over what I did to get it working the way I wanted:

The Requirements

  • Have only blog post that are in the Podcast category be in the RSS Feed for the show
  • Create post that had the mp3 file associated with it but not visible on the post.  We want everyone to subscribe.

The Solution

Getting the mp3 file to show in the RSS feed

It took me a few tries and a few forums post to figure out how to get the mp3 file to show up in the RSS feed.  It seems straight forward, use the file upload function when creating a new entry right?  Well, that didn’t work.

It created a URL that looked like this:

<a href="/file.axd?file=myfile.mp3">myfile.mp3 (70.00 bytes)</a>

After downloading and looking at the Blogengine.net source code I found out that  it actually parse all anchor tags with the following regular expression ‘<a href=((.|\n)*?)>((.|\n)*?)</a>’.  For some reason the auto generated URL from the file upload didn’t match.

So, I put in a complete anchor tag like so.

<a href=”myfile.mp3”>myfile.mp3 (70.00 bytes)</a>

And that worked great.  Sure, would be nice if that file upload had worked but that’s ok.  I really want to host my .mp3 files on my LibSyn account anyway, so that works out fine.

Setting up the RSS Feed

I like using FeedBurner for my feeds, it allows me to move my site and not force everyone to have to re-subscribe.  I also like to use a sing category so I can control what is in the feed versus what is available on the site. Blogengine provides a unique feed for each category, the id is a GUID so the feed for a category looks like this http://mysite.com/syndication.axd?category=7f1c7a73-7290-4637-83f0-804b8499a5345 (This is not a real URL).  Plugging that into FeedBurner allows me to use http://feeds.feedburner.com/UserGroupRadio to point to the category but the subscribers just use the FeedBurner URL.  FeedBurner also allows me to plug-in all the iTunes required tags without having to modify the Blogengine source.

Hiding the link in the post

Once I got the file showing in the RSS feed I wanted to make it so that you couldn’t see it in the actual post.  This may be a little overkill for some but I have learned from other shows I have done if I really want to know how many people are listening to the show I want them to subscribe.  I realize this might push some listeners away but it is a chance I am willing to take to get some accurate metrics.  And besides most of the listeners will be pretty tech savvy and will probably not have an issue.

So to hide the file form the post wasn’t too hard all you really had to do was remove the text between > and </a>.  My new URL looked like this:

<a href="/shows/UGR-00000.mp3"></a>

This solution was not exactly as smooth as I had hoped for but, still I was able get my show up and running without adding any extensions or having to modify the core code.

Thanks Blogengine.net for helping me get my show off the ground!

User Group Radio is ON THE AIR!!!

Over the last several years I have been involved with the developer community that has been growing in Northwest Arkansas.  After attending a Community Leadership Summit in Dallas, TX hosting by Caleb Jenkins I realized that many user group leaders struggle with the same problems, after looking around I realized that there wasn't really any resources around to help us. 

So I decided to start a podcast dedicated to the ones that keep user groups and technical communities going.  Hopefully through open dialog and sharing we can help make it easier to keep them running and maybe even take them to the next level. The new podcast called User Group Radio, as you might have guessed, and you can find out more about it at http://usergroupradio.com.

If you are passionate about community, have a story to tell, or have a question please email it to show  at usergroupradio dot com. In our first full episode I will be talking to Michael Paladino about his experience launching the Ft. Smith .NET User Group earlier this year.  Look for this episode to be released the first week of October.

4th Annual Podcast Awards: The People’s Choice

The Fourth annual Podcast Awards will recognize the best podcasters in the world by allowing the people (Listeners and Podcasters) to nominate, and then vote for their favorite podcast.

This will culminate with awards and prizes being awarded during the 2008 Online Awards ceremony!.

The nomination submissions start Sept 15, 2008 followed by voting in early October the site will see over 300,000 hits per day based upon 2007 levels.

If you have a favorite podcast and would like to give them some props then head on over to http://podcastawards.com and nominate them for a People’s Choice award.  Even if they don’t win I am sure they would appreciate the nomination.

You only get to submit the form one time, so be sure to fill in all the nominations you would like to make.  Also, do not submit the same show for more than one category, unless it is for "People's Choice" or "Best Produced" and one other category.

There are several great technology podcast out there and let’s make sure they are represented well.

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