IT Conversations News: May 8, 2005

(Hear the MP3 version in beautiful monophonic audio.)

New Programs This Week

Listed in increasing order of listener rating. For descriptions, visit the IT Conversations home page.

This week’s Doug’s Favorite from the IT Conversations archives:

Listener-Supported Audio

We received donations of nearly $2,000 in the IT Conversations Tip Jar during the month of April, and this week I’ll be distributing those proceeds to Team ITC. But in the past two weeks, those donations have started falling off and already May is on a track for far fewer dollars to feed the machine.

We thank all of you who have contributed to our team of volunteers who produce most of IT Conversations’ shows in their spare time, and hope that the rest of you will dig into your pockets to help keep IT Conversations able to bring you our programs.

AAC/M4Bs: Still on the Block

As I mentioned three months ago, it looks like we may have to stop delivering .m4b (AAC) versions of IT Conversations audio files. Only about 10% of listeners download the AAC files, and the only significant benefit (other than a slight increase in quality as compared to the MP3s) is that they can be bookmarked on iPods and in iTunes. Unfortunately we have not been able to find an AAC “joiner” that will allow us to splice together already-encoded files as we can do for MP3s. (Does anyone know of such a utility?)

A solution would be for one of our enterprising listeners who knows AppleScript to develop a script that automatically converts files of Genre=Podcast to AAC within iTunes, then deletes the originals. A script like that would be great for iTunes/iPod users for all podcasts, not just IT Conversations.

To be honest, the bookmarking functionality should be built into every player, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be implemented for MP3 files as well.

Broadcast Flag 0; Good Guys 1

Congratulations to Cory, the rest of EFF and everyone else who has fought agains the Broadcast Flag. As Cory reported on BoingBoing and Ernest Miller described in more detail, “the DC Circuit of the US Court of Appeals struck down the loathsome Broadcast Flag, ruling that the FCC does not have the jurisdiction to regulate what people do with TV shows after they’ve received them.” This is an important decision in the fight against the copyright cartel.

Chris Lydon is Back!

I was honored to be a guest today on a new public-radio program hosted by Christopher Lydon. It’s called Open Source and we recorded the pilot this morning with Chris and the production team at the WGBH studios, and we guests scattered about the pod/blogosphere. Chris’ voice has been absent from public radio for far too long. [MP3 audio]

Chris has long been one of my personal heroes, although we’ve never met. And though very few people know (or acknowledge) it I believe that Chris, with help from Dave Winer, was the very first podcaster. That is, Dave put together the first RSS feed with MP3 enclosures, in this case Chris’ superb interviews. I copied the RSS syntax a few days later and launched the podcast edition of IT Conversations on 9/24/03. The name “podcast” hadn’t been coined at that time and didn’t become prominent until nearly a year later when Adam Curry began his Daily Source Code show.