MP3s from Bloggercon III

I’ve just posted the first MP3 (and AAC/M4B) files from Bloggercon III: the session on Podcasting led by Adam Curry. I’ll be posting about one session per day until I get them all on line.

A few listeners have already asked, “Why can’t you just post them all right away?”

It takes a few hours to transfer, edit, mix, master, encode (twice), upload, write the descriptions for and track down photos of each session. That’s just they way things work here at IT Conversations. 🙂 Oh, and then there’s the backlog of more than 45 programs from Pop!Tech, Digital Identity World and (shortly) the Accelerating Change conference in addition to all the regularly shows like The Gillmor Gang, Memory Lane and The Importance of…Law and IT that I’m publishing in parallel with Bloggercon III. (And wait until you hear the new series I’m working on to launch in December!)

In the meantime, to be notified as soon as each session is posted you can podcatch (subscribe to) one of the site-wide RSS feeds , the Bloggercon-specific feeds, or get announcements via email.

Thanks for your patience. I’ll get to all of them as quickly as I can.

Report from Bloggercon III

Just got home from Bloggercon III and checked the streaming traffic.

IT Conversations traffic for Bloggercon III

Times shown are MST–we started at 8:15am (not 9:15) and ended at 5:45pm (not 6:45). Of note:

  • Traffic built steadily during Adam Curry’s podcasting session (10:00-11:15 MST).
  • The encoder died on Mike’s XP laptop a bit before 10am.
  • We took a short break at 11:15 and broke for lunch from 12:45-2:30 and so did our listeners.
  • The largest audience was for Robert Scoble’s session, “Overload” (11:30-12:45).
  • Traffic was fairly steady for the afternoon sessions: Ed Cone/Elections (2:30-3:45); Doc Searls/Making Money (4:00-5:30); and Dave Winer’s wrapup (5:45-6:45)

The room holds 160 people and it was full most of the day. The listening audience was 2.75x the size of the in-person audience. Pretty good…IT conversations normally gets less than 1x the size of the live audience, but I attribute that to two things. First, we often aren’t allowed to announce our live coverage in advance of the events we stream because event producers fear we’ll cannibalize the paid-for registrations. Second, there was a lot of blogging activitiy during the event that helped bring in listeners.

Thanks to all who helped. Look for MP3 and AAC recordings of all of the Bloggercon III sessions to appear in the IT Conversations archives over the next two weeks.

Scheduled Torrents

There continues to be much discussion on the iPodder developers’ mailing list about bandwidth utilization. Drew (of Dawn and Drew), for example, can’t afford their success. Although BitTorrent has some problems — Drew can’t host it and can’t access it from work due to firewall issues — it’s still one of the best options available to Podcasters.

I’ve been testing BitTorrent for IT Conversations in the lab, and find that it has a few weaknesses for my needs. First, I currently have 260 programs on line, and to use BT effectively, I’d have to run 260 seed processes. Not possible. Second, BT is only truly effective when there are multiple simultaneous downloaders or at least when there are multiple peers running the BT client with the given file in their local caches. I see two solutions to these problems:

First, someone (was it Dave Winer?) suggested a BitTorrent client screensaver. Brilliant! It could dramatically increase the number of peers available at any given time.

Second — and here’s the new idea — in order to increase siumtaneity I would like the ability to announce a schedule of torrents. I know…this sounds antithetical to the ideas of on-demand and timeshifting, but hear me out. Suppose I could publish a schedule in XML that specified a rotation of IT Conversations shows. For example: The most-recent Gillmor Gang would be available every hour, on the hour; my most-recent interview at ten minutes past the hour; Halley Suitt’s most-recent Memory Lane at twenty minutes past the hour, and so on. It would in essence be a broadcast-schedule playlist.

Now imagine a more-intelligent podcatching/BitTorrent client that can process such schedules/playlists and can manage a listener’s queue of requests by mapping them to the schedule. All the BT requests for the latest Gillmor Gang would come in at roughly the top of the hour. All the BT requests for Memory Lane would hit the BT “network” at 00:20, and so on. From my end, I’d start a seed for each of the scheduled programs at the specified hour.

The effect would be dramatic because it would shift otherwise non-simultaneous requests into siumtaneity. Normally, you want to avoid such peaks in requests, but in the case of BitTorrent, they’re actually to your advantage. Since podcasting is based on asynchronous delivery not on-demand in real time, there’s no problem if an automated client such as this has to wait an hour or two to gain access to a desired file. If all of this happens during off hours (which admitedly vary by geography) so much the better for all.

If there’s support for the idea, then we need to kick around the specification. How much of this (if any) might be added directly to RSS? How much to BitTorrent? Or should it be an entirely separate specification? Then again, perhaps it’s a lousy idea that I just haven’t fully thought out. I’m sure you’ll let me know. 🙂

The Textbook is Audio

David Sturges is teaching Digital Media for Management and Marketing in the Department of Management, Marketing, and International Business for the College of Business Administration at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.

The textbook is audio. It contains a series of .mp3 files of panel discussions from conferences sponsored by ITConversations and other audio files. The topics of this course change so rapidly that no traditional textbook adequately fills the need. These panel discussions were conducted between October and December 2004. As additional topics are conducted, they may be incorporated into the text. You may access the .mp3 files in any of the following options.

  • Download them from the text site and place them on your .mp3 player.
  • Download and create a cd-rom with the .mp3 files to play on a cd player with .mp3 capability
  • Download the files to your computer and play them on an .mp3 player in the AV software of your computer system (Windows Media Player for PC or iTunes for MAC).
  • You may request a set of CD-ROMs from the instructor that has the .mp3 files.

Very cool.

Audio from Bloggercon

If all goes well, I’ll be recording the sessions at Bloggercon on Saturday. Apparently distribution boxes are available, so you can bring your own recorder for a high-quality feed.

Unfortunately, I can’t get the phone line I need for my broadcast-quality streaming setup, so we’re looking for alternatives. Two ways you can help us:

  1. If you can stream from your laptop (i.e., you have an off-site server), we’ll have WiFi that should let you get out. Don’t plan to stream directly to clients via WiFi; there won’t be sufficient bandwidth to run a server for all the clients I expect will want to access the audio.
  2. If you have a Windows XP laptop with a decent CPU, WiFi and USB that we can use for streaming, let me know. If (!) we can get a dedicated IP address over WiFi and if (!) we can have port 3690 forwarded to the laptop, I can use it to reach the Limelight Networks content-delivery network and from there reach everyone worldwide. My only Windows laptop is a wimpy Sony Vaio Picturebook with a Transmeta CPU that isn’t fast enough to run the Windows Media Encoder.
  3. Thanks. And see you at Bloggercon!