Tech Nation on IT Conversations

I’m thrilled to announce that IT Conversations is now the home of the Podcast edition of Tech Nation with Moira Gunn. Tech Nation is a weekly Public Radio program focusing on the impact of technology in our lives.

Beginning today, IT Conversations will bring you Tech Nation every week, suitable for streaming, download or as a podcast.

We begin officially with all-new Tech Nation programs next week, but as a preview of the great shows to come, here are Moira’s interviews with Jim Rygiel, visual effects supervisor for The Lord of the Rings films, and sci-fi novelist William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and his latest, Pattern Recognition.

Donations for Tsunami Victims

Does anyone know of a simple way to add a “Donate” button to your blog that would accept contributions for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and send them directly to a good relief organization? I’d like to find a snippet of HTML I can add to my site for that purpose, and if I find one, I hope that other bloggers and podcasters will also post such a link. It should go to some trustworthy organization like the International Red Cross/Red Crescent.

Speaking of which, I’d like to see PayPal and Amazon (who profit quite handsomely from Donate buttons all over the web) put prominent Donate buttons on their own sites, and I think they should process the contributions at no charge. Surely the goodwill they generate would justify their costs and increase the awareness of their services.

For now, I’ve disabled my own donation page and hope that anyone thinking of sending me money for IT Conversations will instead send that much or more to help these people in need.

New Podcast/RSS Feeds

I’ve just updated the page of Podcasts and RSS feeds for IT Conversations. Because there are now more than 300 shows in the archives and new shows will be coming out about one per day, you may want to subscribe to separate feeds rather than to the global ‘everything’ feed. A few of the topic-based feeds are new and haven’t yet been populated. I need to go through the database and update the metadata.

Over the next few days I’ll be improving the Title elements in the RSS feeds, so they’ll make more sense when viewed in your aggregator or podcatcher. And starting on 1/1/05 I hope to have more helpful filenames and ID3 tags.

Submitting Audio to IT Conversations

In the past few weeks I’ve received a number of submissions of recordings for IT Conversations. Unfortunately, I’ve had to reject many of them, mostly for technical reasons. So I’ve just posted these guidelines for anyone considering such a submission. I think others may find them useful as well. Soon to follow will be a more detailed list of tips for recording.

Ourmedia and Podcasting

Along with JD Lasica, Marc Canter and others I’ve been working on a semi-confidential project known as Ourmedia. The official web site,, remains password protected for now, but from the older work-in-progress site you can get the general idea: “an open-source initiative devoted to creating, sharing and storing works of personal media.” It’s non-profit and all volunteer. I’ve been working on the audio components.

JD just posted some notes from our discussion today about offering free hosting for podcasts. It’s a new idea, even by Ourmedia standards, and we’d like to get your feedback either here (as a comment) or on the project wiki. Expect to hear more over the next few weeks. Ourmedia is a very exciting endeavor.

What’s the Cost of Bandwidth?

How much does it cost a podcaster or anyone else to deliver a one-hour program to a single listener? I’d never bothered to do the math, but it came up in a telephone discussion I had earlier today. You can’t go by “unlimited” hosting plans because they’re not really unlimited. They’re throttled by the capacity of the box and the link to the ‘Net. So I picked a discounted high-volume dedicated-server hosting account: 1,000GB for $100/month. (A 1.3 GHz Celeron Linux server with 512MB RAM and 60GB drive from EV1Servers.)

That’s $0.10 per gigabyte, or about $0.003 for a 30MB file, roughly one hour of 64kbps MP3 audio. Add in some cost of system administration (but not production), and you’re looking at between $0.005 and $0.01 to deliver a one-hour file to each listener. 10,000 listeners? $50-$100.