With yesterday’s startling news that Google Reader is shutting down (startling to me, anyways, if not to others), I’ve been casting around for a new RSS reader that I can use on both my desktop and my phone. One of the services that has been highly recommended is Netvibes, and while I’m not confident I’ll be using it long-term, I did discover that it’s super easy to get your feeds from Google Reader over to Netvibes.
As someone who loves to write and also really enjoys reading, book reviews seemed like a natural fit to my activities. Read a book, write a bit about it, be happy. However, as I delved into the world of book reviews, I found that I really didn’t enjoy it. I lack the ability to make such things wholly entertaining, and I have trouble conveying my feelings on books through writing. I love to talk about books, but I just don’t enjoy writing about them.
The idea to do book reviews through video crept upon me slowly, so I can’t point at a flash of insight where I finally hit upon the idea of a video book review. Nevertheless, I have begun doing them, and specifically I recorded two today. Expect to see those on Saturday for the next couple of weeks, and who knows, maybe it’ll become a regular feature here. I enjoyed doing them quite a bit, and the process was relatively painless. YouTube makes it pretty simple.
iTunes, on the other hand, has been rather frustrating when it comes to podcasting. In addition to the Online Bible Study I am writing (which is essentially where I study the Bible and then write what I’m thinking), I wanted to record a podcast on the same topic. The podcasts are on the same verses I thought and wrote about, but generally expanded with more thoughts. I can speak a lot more quickly than I write, so where I might have spent a couple of hours thinking and writing, I can record in twenty minutes and be done with it. It’s not professional by any means, but then again neither am I.
Unfortunately, the plugin I use for podcasting with WordPress has designated an RSS feed location that I simply cannot find. I wanted to burn the feed with FeedBurner so I could track how the podcasts were doing, but there’s no way to easily modify the URL in iTunes that it pulls from, and I also can’t find the XML file locally to edit. This means that I pretty much need to just pull the original feed from iTunes and set up a new one.
I sent in a request that the current SilverPen Publishing thing on iTunes be pulled, but when I tried to create a new feed on there, it kept reporting that iTunes had timed out. In looking at Apple’s forums, they’re having a lot of complaints on this issue, so I’m glad it’s not just me. At the same time, I receive no solace from knowing other people are having problems with this too. I wish it just worked.
At any rate, I did create a new podcasting feed to which you can subscribe if you are into such things. Both videos and audio podcasts will be on here (if I did it right, anyways) and you’ll see them trickle in over the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get things straightened out with iTunes soon and can link to that as well.
And if you’re the retroactive type, I recorded a podcast for my first OBS entry. It’s pretty rough because this was my first recording and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was saying or where I was going with it. Please be assued that the podcast going live this coming Wednesday is far superior in every way.
Now that all that’s out of the way (about four hours of work so far), I think I’m ready for a cup of coffee and maybe playing some World of Warcraft with April. Because I obviously didn’t get my fill after yesterday’s all day adventure.
I’ve been following more people on Twitter, namely webcomic artists and bloggers, and have begun to notice that several of them update their Twitter every time they write a blog post. I’m a little conflicted about the practice, though I suppose it makes sense; redundantly putting information out in multiple places helps ensure it’ll get read by the most people. Since I subscribe to their RSS feeds, though, it first came across as somewhat over-the-top and obnoxious. Then it supplanted my usual RSS feed.
As much as I love RSS, and even Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice), I found that it’s really nice to read people’s words on their own site. People who blog or create web comics usually have decent websites, and as it turns out, the conventional wisdom is correct: a good frame accents the art and emphasizes its beauty.
Beyond that, as I began writing this, it occurred to me that Twitter is like RSS for life. Of course, you don’t have to update regularly, but it’s easy to see where it can be used as a mini-blog for more practical purposes. I say “practical” because it’s hard to justify writing an entire blog post and giving it the front page of my site for a day about how I pulled some muscles and my shoulders hurt, but I can certainly post about it on Twitter, which shows up in my sidebar. 140 characters is about all such information deserves.
It doesn’t necessarily demand that you open your life up to every passer-by. You put as much info in as you like, and if you like, you could only use it as a marketing tool and to spread word about your other work. Whether you use it as RSS for your life or just your site, though, I think it presents a prettier picture than an XML sheet fed through a reader, black text on a white page.
That being said, I certainly don’t recommend shutting down your RSS feed(s)! This level of redundancy allows people to use whatever subscription means they like, but the key is consistency. If you start using Twitter as subscription means, you have to update it forever or accept the consequences: if you stop updating at some point in the future, you’re likely to lose at least some of those subscribers. You can post that you’re moving to a different subscription model/location, of course, but the people who use only one method and refuse all others are unlikely to change.
I currently have my blog and Twitter both posting to Friendfeed, but I can certainly see the value of Twitting about my blog. Nevertheless, I think I’ll hold off for now. My Twitter is all personal updates now, RSS for my life, and I think I’d like to keep it that way for now.