UGR Episode 4: Interview with Rob Zelt President INETA North America

UGRLogoEpisode 4 of User Group Radio has been released.  While at the MVP Summit in February I got the chance to set down with Rob Zelt the President of INETA North America.  Rob talks about INETA‚Äôs mission, programs, and offers information for User Group Leaders on how they can benefit from being an INETA User Group.

This was a fun interview and Rob talked at length about the role of INETA and how it impacts community.

You can listen to the full episode on the User Group Radio site or subscribe to the feed in your favorite podcatcher.

User Group Radio: Zach Young talks about using Live Meeting

My good friend Zach Young has been doing a lot of great work with using Live Meeting to enhance the user group and event experience over the last year.  He has even been part of the Virtual Alt .Net (VAN) calls that have grown like crazy and are completely virtual! 

I had the chance to corner him the other night after our Arkansas User Group Leadership call and interview him on the subject for User Group Radio, so head on over and check out this great interview and the awesome resources Zach has put together to make getting off the ground with Live Meeting a lot easier on the rest of us!

Zach thanks for the interview it was a great time.

Podcasting in Plain English

I always get asked to explain what podcasting is and how it works being a technical person I usually get into talking about RSS feeds, enclosures, blogs, bit rates etc.  Which by the way usually goes over their heads. 

I recently found a great video produced by the folks at Common Craft, if you are new to podcasting or have been wondering what all the buzz is about check it out.

User Group Radio Episode 1: Starting the Ft. Smith .NET User Group

I have just posted the first full episode of User Group Radio where I talk with Michael Paladino about his experience in creating the Ft. Smith .NET User Group.

So head on over to User Group Radio at http://usergroupradio.com and check it out.

Blogengine.net and Podcasting

 

I have recently been working hard to launch a new Podcast dedicated to the community, and in that spirit I wanted to use a community built blog to publish my new show.  I choose Blogengine.net because it supported enclosures in the RSS feed out of the box. One of the other really cool features I found was the ability to supply an alternate feed URL which allowed me to point new subscribers to my FeedBurner URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/UserGroupRadio.

This post is going to go over what I did to get it working the way I wanted:

The Requirements

  • Have only blog post that are in the Podcast category be in the RSS Feed for the show
  • Create post that had the mp3 file associated with it but not visible on the post.  We want everyone to subscribe.

The Solution

Getting the mp3 file to show in the RSS feed

It took me a few tries and a few forums post to figure out how to get the mp3 file to show up in the RSS feed.  It seems straight forward, use the file upload function when creating a new entry right?  Well, that didn’t work.

It created a URL that looked like this:

<a href="/file.axd?file=myfile.mp3">myfile.mp3 (70.00 bytes)</a>

After downloading and looking at the Blogengine.net source code I found out that  it actually parse all anchor tags with the following regular expression ‘<a href=((.|\n)*?)>((.|\n)*?)</a>’.  For some reason the auto generated URL from the file upload didn’t match.

So, I put in a complete anchor tag like so.

<a href=”myfile.mp3”>myfile.mp3 (70.00 bytes)</a>

And that worked great.  Sure, would be nice if that file upload had worked but that’s ok.  I really want to host my .mp3 files on my LibSyn account anyway, so that works out fine.

Setting up the RSS Feed

I like using FeedBurner for my feeds, it allows me to move my site and not force everyone to have to re-subscribe.  I also like to use a sing category so I can control what is in the feed versus what is available on the site. Blogengine provides a unique feed for each category, the id is a GUID so the feed for a category looks like this http://mysite.com/syndication.axd?category=7f1c7a73-7290-4637-83f0-804b8499a5345 (This is not a real URL).  Plugging that into FeedBurner allows me to use http://feeds.feedburner.com/UserGroupRadio to point to the category but the subscribers just use the FeedBurner URL.  FeedBurner also allows me to plug-in all the iTunes required tags without having to modify the Blogengine source.

Hiding the link in the post

Once I got the file showing in the RSS feed I wanted to make it so that you couldn’t see it in the actual post.  This may be a little overkill for some but I have learned from other shows I have done if I really want to know how many people are listening to the show I want them to subscribe.  I realize this might push some listeners away but it is a chance I am willing to take to get some accurate metrics.  And besides most of the listeners will be pretty tech savvy and will probably not have an issue.

So to hide the file form the post wasn’t too hard all you really had to do was remove the text between > and </a>.  My new URL looked like this:

<a href="/shows/UGR-00000.mp3"></a>

This solution was not exactly as smooth as I had hoped for but, still I was able get my show up and running without adding any extensions or having to modify the core code.

Thanks Blogengine.net for helping me get my show off the ground!