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Podcasting Hacks: Tips and Tools for Blogging Out Loud Paperback – 29 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (29 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596100663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596100667
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,635,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Publisher

A revolutionary new way of publishing to the Internet, podcasting is the new outlet for personal expression. With Podcasting Hacks, Jack Herrington delivers the ultimate how-to for anyone interested in creating their own Internet audio programs. The book shows you how to create quality sound, use the right software, develop a show, distribute a podcast, and build an audience. More advanced topics include audio editing, podcasting on the go, and even videocasting.

About the Author

Jack Herrington is an engineer, author and presenter who lives and works in the Bay Area. His mission is to expose his fellow engineers to new technologies. That covers a broad spectrum, from demonstrating programs that write other programs in the book Code Generation in Action. Providing techniques for building customer centered web sites in PHP Hacks. All the way writing a how-to on audio blogging called Podcasting Hacks. All of which make great holiday gifts and are available online here, and at your local bookstore. Jack also writes articles for O'Reilly, DevX and IBM Developerworks.

Jack lives with his wife, daughter and two adopted dogs. When he is not writing software, books or articles you can find him on his bike, running or in the pool training for triathlons. You can keep up with Jack's work and his writing at

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Format: Paperback
In July Me and a couple of friends took over recording a podcast which is a companion to an internet magazine, we all had our own ideas about how a podcast should sound but had little idea of what was involved in producing a good quality podcast.

So it was decided that a bit of background research was required, this book by O'Reilly came up quite a few times as recommended reading for people intending to start out podcasting. It did not disappoint, it starts from the very beginning by outlining what exactly is a podcast, the different audio formats how podcasts are published to the web and what's the best way to listen to and get them.

Once you've made your way through the first few chapters you begin to delve more deeply into what makes a good podcast and how to produce one. The author gets you thinking about the content of your intended podcast and talks about what is good and what is not. You then move on through simple vocal techniques to the equipment that is a must and some nice to haves and discusses is some detail about what is available and the author makes some recommendations based on their experiences. The book the moves on into more advanced vocal coaching, setting up a home studio, improving audio quality and publicising your podcast including Blogging. The book closing discussing what was then the new medium of video blogging as Youtube had begun to dominate the broadcasting-yourself scene.

Some indication of costs are given for the various pieces of equipment but a note of caution here this book was written in 2005 and alot of it is now freely available through Ebay and alike, but it does give you an idea of what things to look for and which manufacturers to look out for.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Must-Read for Podcasters of All Skill Levels! 19 Oct. 2005
By Warren Kelly - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that aren't meant to be read cover to cover. Skim through it, though, because otherwise you might miss out on some great tips -- especially if you think you know it all about podcasting.

The book starts out with some great basic information --how to listen to podcasts. I think a lot of people forget this part -- they hear about podcasting, listen to a couple (usually Adam Curry), and jump right in. And you can tell, because their podcasts sound like it. You have to read before you can write, and you have to listen before you can podcast. Then you get some basic tips about your first show, and sounding professional. These first two sections should be read by everyone, especially those getting ready to start their first podcast.

After recording your first podcast, listen to it critically. Then take a look at the table of contents of this book, and find out what you can do to make it better. Chapter 3 tells how to set up a home studio (with little expense) and control noise. Chapter 4 talks about something that I hadn't even thought of -- establishing a format for your show. I spent a lot of time in college at the campus radio station (9-10 AM weekdays, 10-11 Friday nights), so I am familliar with formatting, so I did it almost subconsciously with my own podcast. It does make things go a lot smoother when you're recording -- you don't have to sit thinking "What's next?" all the time.

Chapter 7 is another one that everyone should read -- Publicity. You podcast to be heard, so you should know what to do to be heard. I thought I had my bases covered here, but I got a few other ideas that I'm getting ready to try out on my own podcast.

The book is full of good advice for podcasters of all levels. They actually went out and talked to podcasters and technology folks to get some great ideas. That's the real benefit of this book -- they talked to these people so you don't have to spend a lot of time researching. They've tested out the microphones and mixers. And they're willing to tell you when an inespensive solution works as well (if not better) than spending a lot of money on better equipment. I'd love to have a Pro Tools setup for my podcast, but until I get a lot more money saved up (or someone decides to donate), I'll be using the headset microphone and Audacity to do my own podcast. But this book has shown me a lot of things that can improve my podcast now, and has given me a few things to shoot for later.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Great primer! 30 Oct. 2005
By John A. Suda - Published on
Format: Paperback
Podcasting appears to be one of the more interesting developments in current culture and technology. It is one of the earliest nonbusiness representations of the value and power of XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML is subtly and quietly being used to link digital documents together, and more significantly, databases, much like the Internet itself linked individual computers into a global network.

The power of XML is yet to be fully recognized, but its expression in podcasting has far-reaching effects and consequences all by itself. Way beyond extending audio distribution over the Internet and providing relatively easy access for creative types to a global distribution channel, podcasting may alter and extend the distribution of content in ways never experienced before, having repercussions for political communication, social expression, and democracy itself.

Podcasting can be considered, in general, a melding of several elements: digital audio, weblogs, radio, Tivo-like recording/playing devices, and RSS (Really Simple Syndication). RSS is the protocol extending XML allowing creators to publish content to audiences who can easily subscribe and partake remotely in both space and time. It is much more than merely an alternative to conventional radio.

Given all of this asserted importance, the new book, "Podcasting Hacks: Tips & Tools for Blogging Out Loud" is perfectly timed to provide guidance on how to find, listen to, and subscribe to podcasts as well as how to create, publish, and market audio and video content. This is a comprehensive introduction to nearly all aspects of podcasting. It covers not only the technological elements but the content and creative elements as well. Much of the later material draws on analog sources like radio and television broadcasting. Many of the content elements are shared across the technology distinctions. Good interviewing techniques and content stylings, for example, are the same regardless of how produced and distributed. The major theme here is how to produce quality audio which can attract audiences via digital distribution over the now ubiquitous Internet.

The book has 11 chapters covering how to find podcasts, starting out in listening and creating podcasts, producing quality sound, using formats, interviewing, blogging, publicity, basic editing, advanced audio, mobility, and video blogging.

The main author is Jack D. Herrington, a software engineer and developer and technology writer and reviewer. There are 20 other contributors to the book, including journalists, multimedia consultants, radio and video producers, web editors, and podcasters themselves, particularly several who have popularized the medium.

The book has two main focuses - how to find and listen to podcasts and how to produce your own. The later focus consumes most of the book and deals with producing the best sound (with the lowest noise), producing interesting content, marketing, getting involved in the community, and even how to get your audio masterpieces into syndication.

Although this book is part of the venerable O'Reilly series of "Hacks", the 75 "hacks" contained here work more like captions for various sub topics under the podcasting rubric. The book is less a collection of individually-packaged solutions to discrete problems or issues, but a primer on the whole of podcasting.

The first two chapters provide a list of the best and most popular podcasts, and directions on how to search directories of podcasts on the web. Apple's iTunes software broadly popularized podcasting only a short while ago by including a built-in directory of podcasts in version 4.9 of iTunes. How to get and use the right podcaster for your interests is explained, as well as some recommendations of specific applications - iPodder gets good reviews. Hack #2 offers a perl script which allows one to aggregate and rebroadcast feeds from other sources. Hacks 3 & 4 also describe perl scripts to build your own podcasts and to import podcasts into iTunes, (both PC and Mac versions.)

Using perl scripts is not for everyone, but the content of this book is fairly broad, having interest and value for a wide range of technological types, from higher level geeks to the person who is only casually interested in this new technology and content. Throughout, when discussing common software applications, the authors pointedly cover each of the main platforms - Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux and both technical production and content. Hack 10, for instance. is a technological hack; it relates how to create your first podcast using the freeware, Audacity. Hack 11 is a content-related hack instructing how to produce the content of a podcast and how to understand the respective roles of producer, writer, engineer, host, editor, and performer.

Surprisingly, one can get started producing podcasts relatively easily using a very modest amount of hardware and a little software, including mostly freeware or modestly-priced applications. The authors go out of their way in many of the hacks to point out how to select and acquire production materials at low cost. They often recommend specific products and services making it as easy as possible for readers to believe they can actively participate in podcasting with relatively modest efforts and budget.

The segments on formats describes what a format is in terms of duration, structure, content, and production elements. Some of the many types of formats are itemized and described - news, story show, personal show, political, mystery science theatre, music, sports, technology, and news. The segments for each of these contains information on important sources for content, examples of use, and tips for producing content. Each type has its own strengths, limitations, and pitfalls. An overly enthusiastic personal show, for example, can get you fired from your job if your boss accesses and hears something he/she doesn't like. (It has happened more than once, according to news resources).

There is an enormous amount of material presented in this book with excellent attention to details. The audio theatre type of format, for example, includes an itemization of the structure of a typical show - the story, script, studio setup, performances (with directorial prompts), mixing and encoding audio, and even how to make your own sound effects. Hack 33 describes techniques professionals use in producing interviews - types of interviews, location considerations, preparing guests, interviewing techniques, using environment sound ambience, and even microphone techniques. A large handful of the contributors make reference to how to use microphones properly emphasizing the need to control wind, voice pops, environmental noises and the like. There is even guidance on training one's voice for audio (Hack #19).

Virtually every possible element of podcasting is noted in this book. Some other topics include: how to record telephone interviews, including Skype conversations (#34); how to podcast using blogs (with examples of HTML and XML coding); how to manage bandwidth (#39); how to use ID3 tags for your audio to facilitate searches (#40); how to market, connect with the community, and even how to make money while podcasting (#48-49).

More advanced topics are handled later in the book. Learn basic editing using the right audio tools in Hacks#50-58. Hack 61 details how to set up a home studio. A very interesting section tells how to be mobile while podcasting including making a small recording rig for travel as well as podcasting directly from your car while driving. (Sounds unsafe to me and illegal in some states, as noted by the authors). Other sections take up, directly and at length, the legalities of podcasting covering copyrights, libel, licensing, and more. An interesting explanation of "Creative Commons" licensing is contained in #67- 68. To cap it all off, there is a useful glossary of digital and analog audio terminology and an index.

As you might expect, given the presence of 21 contributors, not all hacks are as good as some, and there is considerable repetition of some elements, like microphone handling, production concepts, and others. However, these are small quibbles for such an information- packed volume of modest cost.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A wealth of podcasting information. 7 Nov. 2005
By S. Nigl - Published on
Format: Paperback
Podcasting. The hobby or profession of blogging in downloadable audio. It is, of this writing, about one year old and has taken the internet by storm. A year ago there were a couple dozen podcasting pioneers; now the podcasters number over ten thousand. The first generation podcaster had to learn the trade by trial and error. The school of hard knocks (to coin another cliché). For the aspiring would-be podcaster in late 2005, written guides are now starting to appear. Jack Harrington's Podcasting Hacks is one such resource. What is a podcast? How do I listen? How do I become a podcaster? Can I podcast with equipment that I already own? Which mic's are recommended? Mixers? How to I upload the podcast to a server? What is RSS? How do I combat bandwidth costs? How do I structure a format for my show? Can I make money at podcasting? This book answers these questions. It provided answers to questions that had never even occurred to me (after having ready another book on this subject!). Mr. Harrington even outlines how to build a home studio and make your own teleprompter!

As with other books in O'Reilly's "hacks" series, this guide is not so much a book written for `hackers' as a resource providing valuable shortcuts from lessons learned.

The book opens by stating that this has been the author's most ambitious research project drawing from the expertise of twenty experts in various fields. In the early chapters, Jack starts with the rock-bottom basics written to an audience that may have never listened to a podcast. It covers the definition of a podcast as-well-as it's brief history. Next, he covers podcast aggregators (client software), net resources. In short - how to be a subscriber.

Next, the meat of the book, covers everything would-be broadcaster needs in order to set-up shop. From audio editing freeware, shareware, and commercial apps, copy-able scripts for RSS feeds, to hardware requirements, recording technique, and amazingly, interviewing skills complete with good business practice tips that would make a press veteran proud.

Finally, if you want to take podcasting to the ultimate level, the author gives advise on how to cover the high cost of bandwidth, marketing and advertising, and legal issues.

The beginner with no prior training in radio broadcasting or blogging can be up-and-running with the resources in Podcasting Hacks. It contains twice amount of information for about the same price as another podcasting book that I had recently purchased and is not as `Windows-centric' as others I have browsed at my local bookstore. As a Mac user, I really appreciate references for podcasters to Safari, Audacity, and Griffin's iMic (to name a few).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Absolute Necessity. Complete. Well thought out. 19 Jan. 2006
By Timothy Shadel - Published on
Format: Paperback
Disclosure: my podcast is mentioned in his book. I find myself reaching for this book nearly every episode I create. I thought I was doing fine with my little show before Jack came out with this book. When it was published, I was shocked at how much he had gathered, and how much I had to learn! Jack has covered a very broad area, and yet kept a balance so that you feel like every page can be applied to your podcast. I find the guidance he gives on everything from equipment to environmental noise, to show format, to legal music use to be relevant to each episode I create. I continue to go back and find new tips to improve my show. I highly recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
For getting started or taking the next step... Good choice! 9 Oct. 2005
By Thomas Duff - Published on
Format: Paperback
The podcasting titles are starting to show up fast and furious. I recently received a copy of O'Reilly's Podcasting Hacks - Tips & Tools for Blogging Out Loud by Jack D. Herrington. It's a very good choice for both the rank novice as well as the person who wants to take their podcasting to the next level...

Contents: Tuning into Podcasts; Starting Out; Quality Sound; Formats; Interviewing; Blogging; Publicity; Basic Editing; Advanced Audio; On the Go; Videoblogging; Glossary; Index

Some of the Hacks titles cover a wide range of tips and hints on a subject, and you end up picking and choosing what works for you. There are a few that seem to go a step beyond and provide a pretty complete coverage of how to get started with something, as well as how to improve your skills if you've already started. Podcasting Hacks seems to fall nicely into that second category. There is some coverage on how to get going with listening to podcasts, like #8 - Listening to Podcasts on Your PDA and #9 - Podcatching with Your PlayStation Portable. There's even a number of Perl hacks you can use to do some "roll your own" development. But the book really shines when you get into the main areas of how to produce a podcast. You'll learn how to pick the right microphone (#13) for your needs, how to set up a home studio (#61), and even how to produce your podcasts in surround sound (#16). Add in a number of recommendations of hardware and software, and you've got a valuable guide to becoming the next voice to be heard...

Unless you're already an Adam Curry in the podcasting world, this is a book worth reading. You'll either get off to a good start, or you'll take your podcasting to the next level. Either way, your audience will thank you...
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