Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why such low uptake of new technology by academics...

I've often heard from credible sources, including senior staff at
Monash and elsewhere, that Academia is an aging profession, my
anecdotal experience supports this view.

I'm one of the youngest in my department, one of the most technology
literate - given the experiences I've had trying to get a simple
podcast on the iTunes store over the last week or two, the answer to
the question contained in the topic is clear.

I've resolved this year to integrate technology more into my teaching
and research networking.

Improving the regularity and relevance of posts here is part of this
Web 2.0 mindset.

As part of this resolve, I decided to get a podcast series
established. Peter Wagstaff, a colleague in the Department of Marketing at Monash, has had a
great podcast going for some time, and generally been a bit of a shining beacon for 'new'
technology use at Monash. It was this example in part, that had been
nudging me along for some time.

Well I've finally got the podcast series live on iTunes -
but what a trauma it was.

I gullibly thought using Apple's GarageBand software to create the
podcast, Apple's iWeb software to get it on the web and Apple's iTunes
Store to get it visible to podcast seekers on the web, would make the
process fairly straightforward.

These three steps went from amazingly easy and fun in step one to
sheer, time wasting frustration in step 3. As a long time Mac guy, I
have to presumable the process was not worse than using a disparate
collection of software and online tools to undertake the exercise.

Anyway, I googled for hours to try and find the solutions to the two
major hurdles, so will set out the solutions below in the hope they
might save others my from enduring my grief.

Major issue 1

Tossed up whether to use Dreamweaver, which I have some years
experience with at a basic level, or Apple iWeb - basic and somewhat
restricted, and not an application I've used much. I actually tried
both and decided that it was the effort getting my head around iWeb,
despite some shortcomings. I figured with the RSS, iTunes integration
etc this would save time over the long term.

It certainly did not in the short term!

I didn't want to use Apple's MobileMe hosting/cloud service (formerly
known as .Mac) - but rather use my own hosting account, that I use for
my other sites and

One of the annoyances of the iWeb (a commonly held one based on my
efforts to find a solution) is that it creates a subdirectory when it
creates a site, so my site become - with
directories below this also added. This meant that uploading files (I
used Dreamweaver but other FTP programmes would be the same) was a
hassle and the links for the RSS needed to iTunes were wrong. This
issue was also manifest in redirects set on my server not working. I
tried quite a few workarounds for this, eventually to solve the iWeb
additional directory dilemma.

Here's what worked for me

-created a new directory on my server

set the site name in iWeb to this same name ie PodLaw - top left red

and white could icon, or site name in site tab in the inspector in
iWeb 08
-saved site from iWeb into a folder on my Mac with the same name ie
-set Dreamweaver to upload the entire site to this PodLaw directory
-once uploaded with Dreamweaver (or other FTP client), copied the
index.html file from the directory on the server to
the root (public_html) directory on the server (I used my web based
cpanel to do this). This file was created by iWeb. I left a copy of
this file in the directory - not sure if it needed
there - but it was all working so I left it there.
-opened this index.html file in the root (public_html) directory and
changed the redirect URL from PodCast/PodCast.html to

So my non MobileMe hosted, iWeb created podcast was visible at
, the RSS link in the browser address bar was working, the subscribe
button was opening the podcast in iTunes, with correct artwork and
episodes - all issues overcome.

Major issue 2

Submitting to iTunes store

Finding the link to do this once on the iTunes Store was hard
-clicked Podcasts, towards the top on left side of iTunes window
-clicked Podcast Directory toward the bottom right of the iTunes window
-scrolled to bottom, bottom left box headed 'Learn More', clicked link
to submit podcast
- pasted the URL that I get when I click RSS button at (in
my case this was feed://
-CRITICAL - the iWeb templates have a title placeholder text box on
their podcast pages - this text box MUST contain the name of your
podcast (or at least not be empty), otherwise the error "We require
that feeds include a title" will appear - I made this text white on my
page - so it is not visible.

Hope this will prove useful to anyone wanting to 'try this at home'.

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