I like listening to podcasts. I usually listen to them while driving. I use instacast to play podcasts on my iPhone. Instacast allows you to subscribe to podcast feeds, it downloads episodes while you are on WiFi for playback later. I subscribe to a few educational podcast, some mac ones, the Scottish Poetry Library and Machine of Death. I change these about occasionally.

Sometimes though I want to listen to individual podcasts episodes without subscribing to the whole feed. Recently I’ve been doing this by downloading the podcast media to dropbox, making the files favourites on my phone while on WiFi(which downloads them onto the phone) and listening later. To speed this up a bit and to allow me to do this from my phone or an ipad I have a folder in my dropbox with an AppleScript Folder Action attached to the folder. I add a text file with the url to a media file to this folder (typically with droptext) and it is automatically downloaded to my desktop in a dropbox folder. I then can favourite etc as normal.

huffduffer

This still leaves a bit to be desired, I need to remember to favourite the files while on Wifi so that they are ready to play in the car.

Huffduffer looks like it is made to solve this problem. It is a service that allows you to create a podcast feed from episodes of different podcasts or just mp3 files found on the web. You use a bookmarklet which finds any mp3 files on the current webpage and adds them to your podcast.

Earlier this week I saw a link to huffduffer and created an account: Johnjohnston on Huffduffer. The only problem is I created the account on my phone and left it a few days to install the bookmarklet on my desktop. By then I had forgotten the password!

Attempts to reset my password failed, and perhaps because it is the weekend, requests to get this fixed have not been answered yet. It looks like a few other folk have the problem

Not Huffduffer

So today I decided to try a wee bit of DIY with AppleScript. I’ve already got a few dropbox folders set up with Folder actions to do some automation 1 so had a rough idea of how to go about this.

What I want to do is, on iOS copy the url to a webpage, switch to droptext, make a new text file containing the url and save it into the folder. The Folder Action script then parses the webpage for mp3 and m4a files and adds them to a RSS file. I’ve describe to this file in instacast so don’t need to think about it much other than opening instacast when on wifi and letting it download episodes.

Google helped with a couple of tricky parts, getting the address of mp3 files out of the web page:
how to extract an mp3’s url from m3u…: Apple Support Communities and getting the correct style of date so that the RSS feed validates:
RFC 822 Dates with AppleScript | Joe Maller.

The script basically adds the mp3 urls to a text file along with the date they are added. This text file is parsed to produce an RSS feed. The script certainly lacks any polish, but it works. Here is the RSS feed in my dropbox. And here is what it looks like in
Instacast:

instacast not huduffer

As you can see, the feed is quite minimal, the names come from the mp3 file name. The script (I’ve uploaded it here), needs lots of work. I briefly tried to get the titles from the tile of the webpage, but ran into some odd characters which threw things off. I’ve also hard coded file paths into the script and it would be better not too. Most of the script, dealing with detecting the files added is a lift form the examples that Apple ship. My bit just process the url. I’ve also adapt this to run from a mac grabbing the front url from Safari, this script is in my FastScripts folder s oI can run it with a keyboard shortcut.

Not sure if anyone is interested in this stuff here, but it fascinates me and posting it is one way of keeping track.

1. I’ve blogged a couple of other applescript/dropbox ideas OCR via dropbox with Tesseract and
Testing a new system

On Thursday evening I was lucky enough to be in conversation with Gillian Penny, Dan Bowen, John Johnston and Fraser Speirs as part of the Edutalkr series. Iain Hallahan kept the conversation organised as chairperson and David Noble did the background tech.

You can hear the discussion on Edutalk:

EDUtalkr online panel discussions about Scottish education #7: The practicalities of using iPods and iPads in the classroom – EDUtalk

On Friday evening I went along to the evening presentation and discussion part of this event. There had been an afternoon training workshop on the practicalities of field recording run by the evenings presenters which was limited in numbers. My attention to the event had been aroused by a tweet from @scottishmusic I guess because I post the odd recording to the UK Sound Map. The evening was a little bit different from the educational conference/teachmeet meetings that I am more likely to be found at but I am really glad I went.

Tim Nunn

The first presentation was by theatre maker Tim Nunn of the company Reeling & Writhing. He spoke about his work in progress Formel, inspired by Chaucer’s Assembly of Fowls the play uses field recordings extensively. Tim spoke about how he wrote the play working back and forward between text & field recording each affecting the other. A lot of the sound was recorded on Islay and he played us fragments of a force 10 gale and rooks mobbing an eagle. Here is a taste of the play I found on the Formel page

‘Formel’ by Tim Nunn, trailer by timjnunn

Tim mentioned RJ McConnell as the person behind the sound of the play, whose blog will take you in other interesting aural directions

Formel has had a couple of preview performances and is due to be on tour at he end of this year or the start of the next (as far as I picked up) and is certainly something I would like to go along to.

Timothy Cooper

Next we heard from Timothy Cooper Timothy let us here kaktos the sounds of this were made by plucking of cactus spines. He showed us Postcards from blast beach which featured photos by his father and sounds recorded and edited by Timothy. A quick google found the video on My Space.

Next he played Skate ‘n’ Shuttle/Roll and Smash:

Skate n Shuttle/Roll and Smash by tim_bo

As someone who is as musical as a turnip I can’t really comment on the work, other than to say I enjoyed listening to it. The Blast Beach images & sound was interesting in being a very much polished combination of photos and edited found sound. As someone who takes phone photos and records the odd sound when out and about it shows where the idea can go give a deal of talent in photography & music.

Ian Rawes

Ian Rawes spoke about several sound map mashups. Starting with his own London Sound Survey which features London maps, ambient sound recordings, sound maps, local history & London wildlife. This is a site to get lost in, the quote on the front page Perhaps the most ambitious and comprehensive approach to sound mapping I’ve yet to see . . . an all-around wonderful site! (from Jim Cummings, Acoustic Ecology Institute) rather understates it! Ian is the Vault Keeper at the British Library sound archive (I think). Ian briefly showed us round the London Sound Survey playing recording of a street preacher (there are quite a few) and a Common Pipistrelle bat recorded with a Magenta heterodyne bat detector set to 45 kHz and Edirol R09-Hr digital recorder which gives you an idea of the range of the site if not the depth. He also showed us the London map with present-day streetmaps, historical maps and sound recordings.

Ian is also the person behind the UK Sound Map , I’ve blogged about this before and contributed a few boos to the map. what I love about the project is the fact that it is open to anybody to contribute, it is easy to do so and it mashes maps & sound.

We then saw the Acoustic map from 12 Gates to the City The acoustic map is an ever-growing collection of 1 to 5 minute sound recordings embedded on a world map at the exact location of each recording. created by Jonathan Prior, an Edinburgh-based creative researcher, who was sitting in the audience. Johnathan’s map is interesting because it uses UMapper rather than google maps, it looks and sounds good. We heard the underwater recording of periwinkles grazing on algae which sound nothing like you would expect. It looks as if there is a lot of interesting stuff on 12 Gates to the City.

The Inukjuak Sound Map is another map sound mashup this time created by Montreal sound artist Nimalan Yoganathan. The map has cultural and natural sounds, some with images. It uses google maps. We also watched Charles Veasey’s Hmsg Spiral Map which I had seen before, but it was interesting watching with other people on a large screen rather than in one’s own home with multiple on and offline distractions. The Hmsg project is a flash/video/google maps mashup.

One of the main impressions I got from the event was the quality of the audience’s listening, this made the evening quite quiet and contemplative, quite different from, say, a TeachMeet or educational tech event. I had not taken a laptop or ipad to take notes, but if I had I would not have used them, I didn’t take any photos either although I had a phone with me. In googling the links for this post I re read Inukjuak Sound Map and Hmsg Spiral Map on Ian’s London Sound Survey blog:

The Spiral Map looks and sounds very impressive as it progresses smoothly through its 30 different sound recordings and videos. Most of the videos have very little motion in them and much more action is heard than seen. It’s a great way to set a balance between the ravenous eye and the patient ear.

Educational Takeaway

I came away straight after the event, an empty stomach and dinner waiting kept me from the pub, with open ears, walking to the train station listening more than usual. At the station I was surprised that the announcement and the clicking and clacking of the high heeled shoes were louder than the train.

I’ve also been thinking of how this could relate to the classroom. Here are some ideas off the top of my head:

  • I’ve often used photos and sometimes video as stimulation for creative writing, following Tim Nunn we could add recordings as a great stimulus.
    Children recording sounds from a trip as well as taking photos and videos could be an powerful addition to stimulate writing and discussion back in the classroom. I’ve also had children record poetry with backing music, perhaps found sound could be used as well.
  • I’ve often involved pupils in creating movies from still pictures adding their voice with iMovie. It could be really interesting to add recordings Timothy Cooper style I think some children could be excited in working this way.
  • I’ve been building picture and gps map mashups for a while now, occasionally incorporating audio and recently mapped my boos this could easily be adapted for a school trip or for a collection of schools to work together. Or perhaps schools could contribute to UKSM itself. Playground sounds across an authority or skipping songs could be a starter.

Technical

In the afternoon workshop there had, I think, been a lot more technical information. Ian provides a Budget binaural stereo microphones guide on London Sound Survey. A lot of the Field Recording crowd seem to know what they are talking about kit wise, I was somewhat relieved when Ian appropriated the Best Camera quote: The best microphone is the one you have with you.

In talking about UMapper, Ian said it was in some ways easier to use than google maps. This is probably right, but I like the way google maps can be use to auto update, using the api, so that things are added without automatically, without crafting

More Takeway

Finally what I’d take away was the quality of listening shown by the audience & presenters. The time taken. Timothy Cooper’s Blast beach gave plenty of time to look at the images: audio can be slower. I am thinking again about Ian Rawes’ “the ravenous eye and the patient ear”, Tim Nunn’s theatre performances in the dark.

From the above you can see I’ve gathered a great number of links, sites not only to visit but to revisit. It is not often you get the chance to hear periwinkles eating.

Great conference, here is the official blog: ISRU Conference 2011 where I believe all the slides and video of the keynotes will appear in time. The tweets: http://www.tweetdoc.org/View/9984/ISRU11 and Flickr: The ISRU11 Pool

A very interesting day with lots of food for thought. I posted a couple of Boos when I got home.

Listen!

And the second boo, apologies for the speed and ems

Listen!

This week on my Work blog:
DSi at Dykehead Views from the pupils at Dykehead Primary on using DSi in class.
Cathedral Podcast in Cathedral Primary School demonstrating podcasting to Mrs Shearer, Emma and Olivia from Primary Seven, they will be podcasting soon!

I was also delighted to listen to this podcast: The Egypt Topic P3 I had worked wish some pupils at Woodlands Primary School in an after school club, producing some podcasts, this is their first independent episode and I hope to listen to many more.

AudioBoo: Podcasting in the Classroom an audio extract from my Glowing Thursdays presentation (the whole thing will be published later).

On sunday evenings I often take part in EdTechRoundUp. EdTechRoundUp is an informal group of educators, interested in talking about technology. originally planned as a planning meeting for a podcast the meet has evolved into a meeting that becomes a podcast. Planned on the edtechroundup wiki the meeting takes place in a Flash Meeting. Flashmeeting (described as the YouTube of videoconferencing) is a lovely free service for educators to hold online meetings with video, audio and chat elements.

The chats are a lot of fun and a good place to find out about many exciting uses of ICT in the classroom. Anyone cxan add to the agenda on the wiki and anyone can join in. The meetings are often chaired by Doug Belshaw who tidies up the audio for publication on EdTechRoundUp.com.

The audio is recorded not live but from a replay of the flashmeeting by volunteers. I have taken that role a couple of times and used WireTap, as I recall, wiretap pro could be used the same way as wiretap (an older free version) for free but I recently moved macs and downloaded wiretap studio. This worked fine for a couple of weeks and then I got to the end of the trial period. From the information on the WireTap Pro FAQs page I think I could download a version of pro and still use it that way but I’ve found another solution.

I missed the meeting on Sunday but got a tweet from Doug looking for someone to grab the audio. I said I’d do it and then found out that WireTap had timed out.

This is where Soundflower comes in.

Soundflower is a Mac OS X (10.2 and later) system extension that allows applications to pass audio to other applications. Soundflower is easy to use, it simply presents itself as an audio device, allowing any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed. Soundflower is free, open-source, and runs on Mac Intel and PPC computers.

Quick to download an install, soundflower gives you a couple more options in the Sound input and output preference pannel:

All I need to do was to set Soundflowe 2 channel as the default input and output, I then replayed the flashmeeting and used Audacity to capture the sound.
SoundFlower comes with an app Soundflowerbed (I’ve not tried it yet) and has a lot more features but this did the trick for me.

The other bit of software I used was The Levelator, once I had recorded the audio I exported it as a wav file and dropped that file onto the Levelator:

It’s software that runs on Windows, OS X (universal binary), or Linux (Ubuntu) that adjusts the audio levels within your podcast or other audio file for variations from one speaker to the next, for example. It’s not a compressor, normalizer or limiter although it contains all three.

The Levelator smoothes out the ups and downs of volume which you get form several folk talking in different places with different microphones to something that is surprisingly clear.

After that I just need to export the output from the Levelator to an mp3 and send it to Doug via dropbox. I had a listen to the audio on the way home from work yesterday and the audio sounds not too bad, the content sounds very good indeed, and I am sorry I was not there, well worth a listen once Doug sorts it out and put it on EdTechRoundUp.com.

I can also recommend joining in the flash meeting anytime you are free on a Sunday evening, a very welcoming space and I’d guarantee that you come away with a few interesting ideas or thoughts. Details are always on the front page of the wiki.

EdTechRoundup is a new podcast from an open group of UK educators which I have become involved in.

EdTechRoundup is a place where a group of UK-based educators come together for discussion and collaboration around the use of technology in education. We believe in pedagogically-sound uses of educational technology, but don?t believe in ramming Web 2.0 (or anything else for that matter) down people?s throats?

The first podcast is out. This one sees David Noble and Sinclair Mackenzie at the controls with input from Joe Dale.

They discuss tools for the classroom including ClassTools.net: Flash Templates for Educators and the problems of online content being blocked in schools. Joe Dale provides his top 5 reasons to use blogs in class or school.

The dual presenter with input from a guest is going to be the pattern for the show with a different set of presenters taking over for each show. A fair number of UK educators are involved (see the edtechroundup » Contact Details page) and the podcast is open to anyone to join in. In good social media fashion the podcast has been organised on a wiki and a series of FlashMeetings. The Meetings are announced on the wiki so it is easy to join in.

Apart for planning the podcast the meetings have been good fun and a lot of interesting areas of tech and social media discussed. If the first show and these discussions are anything to go by EdTechRoundup should be a good feed to add to iTunes or other podcatcher.

Tom Barrett and myself will be hosting the next podcast which should be out in a couple of weeks.

Blogged from tm

We have just published the first podcast of the session on Radio Sandaig. A new bunch of children and as usual a scramble to fit it into the day. A few lunchtimes and some non-class-contact time got it done. (The children are not all in my class, so I guess this is NCC).I decided to use garageBand instead of Audacity this year, just to see what the differences are. I’ve already started some children off making some simple music using Garageband, and our peripatetic music teacher has joined in working with a few children every week. So we have incorporated one of the pieces of music into the podcast.

For the first time with GarageBand, I took a lot more control than usual of recording, mostly to figure out what we are doing and these are first impressions. Garageband has a pile of useful loops, jingles etc built in, these are easy to review and pull in. For the rest of the session I hope to find time for children to make jingles that will be used regularly, this should make the show sound a bit more professional once we start to really think about this. The auto ducking is also nice, with audacity the children hand ducked the background track as they organised the segments.
One of the things I really liked about audacity was the way you could record segments of a podcast in any order and then the children could easily move them around as they made the final edit. We recorded each segment on a separate track. With GarageBand you get a male voice and female voice tracks, jingle and music tracks. This means we will have to plan out the podcast in more detail and record it in order, this will present a bit more of a challenge to my organisation. At the moment I invite children from 4 classes to contribute so have to find time when they are available at the same time as myself (playtime, NCC time), some thinking to do.

Anyway please have a listen and if you like the show you might like to leave an audio response on the Radio Sandaig page, give us our first review in itunes or on our new Scotcast.net listing. Thanks to Tim Geddes of Glaitness School for pointing me to Scotcast.net. Tim helps the children with the TV Glaitness Video Podcast, which is well worth watching.

As I mentioned earlier I recorded some of the presentations from TeachMeet07. I’ve turned these into a enhanced podcast. spent a bit more time in GarageBand and am beginning to understand a bit more about it and it’s relationship to the other iLife apps. As usually I made a silly mistake or two, the main one being I did not know the maximum length depended on the tempo of the Master Track. This lead me to having to change that after I had organised all the chapter marks and links, I then had to reposition these on the time line which took me most of the afternoon.

Anyway time well spent, as teachMeet07 has been one of the most exciting educational events I’ve attended for a long time. Have a listen and let me know if you agree.

I had a bit of bother with this one. I’ve not used keynote much, but it was very easy to create a presentation with. While playing about with it I noticed you could record an audio soundtrack very easily and though I’d do that, export to quicktime or even youtube to let folk see what I’ve been talking about (and to play with the toys). Recording was easy enough, but when I came to export I got errors every time. A quick google fould more folk with the same problem and fixes for keynote 3 & 3, unfortunately I was using keynote 4 and the fixes didn’t work for me. I am guessing the problem has something to do with combining a recorded audio with movies and audio in the presentation. So what should have been a few minutes work turned into a few hours! I exported the presentation to jpgs, then I dug into the presentation package and found the narration audio. Next I imported the into GarageBand and one by one placed the images on the podcast track, adding urls as I went.

Next I exported the podcast to iWeb and published it, the first time I had used iWeb and again it seems easy enough to use without having to read a manual.

anyway here is a version of the presentation as an enhanced podcast.

As a by-product I now have a Podcast. I will not be adding to it very often, but I’ve got some audio from TeachMeet07 which I’ll publish soon. I didn’t manage to record all the presentations, but I’ve got some.