Friday, January 31, 2014

Podcast Geekery: iTunes Podcast RSS Feed Tutorial

I am providing this tutorial in the hopes that I can help others avoid all of the trials and tribulations I went through in trying to get an iTunes Podcast RSS Feed up and working.  While I will do my best to address questions, this tutorial is provided without support.




iTunes eats podcast RSS feeds! A RSS feed tells iTunes what episodes are available and where the podcast media content is located so that subscribers can directly download podcast media files to their devices.

The 2 major premises of iTunes podcast distribution are:
1) iTunes has to have a correctly formatted RSS feed to serve up your podcast content
2) The RSS feed you feed to iTunes must contain the podcast media enclosure with the direct location to your podcast media file, otherwise nothing will show up in iTunes.

First your podcast needs a RSS Feed

1) RSS Feed

Blogging sites like Blogger and WordPress have their own RSS feeds that are built in by default.
For example, the Stockinette Zombies RSS feed is:
http://www.stockinettezombies.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
You can also use Feedburner to create an RSS feed. FeedBurner transforms an existing RSS Feed, like the default blog RSS feed, and allows you to modify and add 'extras' to the feed like the podcast description and the logo pictures. The other advantage to using a FeedBurner RSS feed is if you ever need to change your podcast RSS feed, you will not need to re-submit a new RSS feed to iTunes, and you can seamlessly change your RSS feed within FeedBurner. All of the functionality that FeedBurner provides is nice to have, but not required.

Second, your RSS Feed needs Media Enclosures

2) Podcast Media Enclosures

CAUTION: Embedded Media Players
Embedding players into your blog will not put the podcast media into your RSS feed.
Video/audio hosting sites like BLIP, YouTube, and Vimeo provide free video hosting, but only provide embedded players, not direct access to the media files. These embedded players allow the audio/video hosting services to monetize views by playing commercials and displaying advertisements along side your podcast content. By embedding audio/video players in your blog, you are able to provide content to viewers on the blog Web page, but this is NOT direct access to the media file that iTunes needs to allow subscribers to directly download the media files to their devices.

Enclosure Links
The correct way to include podcast media into your blog RSS feed is through enclosure links.

It is a 2 step process to enable file enclosures on your blog:
Step 1) Enable Enclosure Links
Step 2) Provide Enclosure Links in your posts

Blogger Step 1: Enable Enclosure Links
First you must go into Settings > Other
Then in ‘Enable Title Links and Enclosure Links’ dropdown select YES




Blogger Step 2: Provide Enclosure Links in your posts
Second, when editing any posts that have associated podcast media, under Post Settings > Links, there is an Enclosure links fields to specify the media file location and media file type.


In WordPress (words and pictures thanks to Leslie):

WordPress Step 1) First you need to make sure you have custom fields visible.  From your ‘add post’ screen, click on screen options in the top right corner

 

After you click “Screen Options” be sure that “Custom Fields” is checked.


WordPress Step 2) Now, when you get ready to add your post, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you should see the Custom Fields dialog box


Enter “Enclosure” for the name and in the value field put the full URL of the video.  Shown below, it is hosted on archive.org at https://archive.org/download/Episode189/Episode%20189.mp4




Troubleshooting Tips


A great way to test if your feed will work in iTunes (before submitting to iTunes) is to change the URL prefix to itpc:// and then enter the URL in your browser. It should launch iTunes and show you what will be available once iTunes is fed your podcast RSS feed.

For example:
itpc://feeds.feedburner.com/stockinettezombies is the Stockinette Zombies FeedBurner RSS feed. 
It has added the extras that we configured with all our videos
itpc://www.stockinettezombies.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss is the default blogger RSS feed that has all the videos but less of the extras

If you plug in your RSS feed and don’t see any videos for download, the feed is NOT set-up correctly.




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yarn Transcending Space and Time

Like a star that has long since burn out, but rays are still reaching the Earth, so are my yarn purchases.

Didn't you know?!?! Yarn can totally transcend space and time!

I went cold sheep some 23 days ago, but the last few yarn purchases are trickling in.  Each and every package that arrives is a beam of happiness that I ordered up for myself in the past and is just now reaching me in the cold, cold sheep future.  I am savoring and prolonging my enjoyment of each and every one of these time traveling skeins of yarn.

Yesterday, I received these self-striping beauties from




Pictured left is Super-Duper Boogaloo - 10 equal stripes of Key Lime, Deep Gin, Smoky, Pink Grapefruit, Olive Juice, Designated Driver, Mocha Latte, Syrah, Purple Haze, and Espresso.
Pictured right is Under the Sea - 10 equal stripes of Espresso, Designated Driver, Olive Juice, Charcoal, Key Lime, Curacao, Margarita, Smoky, Deep Gin, and Minty Fresh.

Not only are the colorway names fun, but the names for the colors of the stripes are fittingly descriptive and match the overall theme of a yarn cocktail.  I am most definitely intoxicated with the colors and the color combinations, and I know at least one of these skeins will be knitted up this year for the year long stripes knit-along.

Don't you just love it when yarn is both gorgeous and transcends space and time!?!



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Art in Process

Stitch by Stitch
Row by Row
Piece by Piece
Seam by Seam
Accumulating and culminating
The piece of art takes form


                                                                                          Photo Copyright Mel Ski

For the past few weeks I have been knitting the Halele'a cardigan by Mel Ski, the designer and podcaster behind Singlehandedknits. This pattern and yarn kit was generously sent to me by the fabulous Stacie, the dyer and podcaster behind Must Stash Yarn.

I knew from the very beginning that the finished object would be stunning.  The yarn, Must Stash Yarn Helluva skein, is a super soft superwash merino, fingering weight, and super durable 6-ply yarn. The yarn is aptly named for the whopping 750 yards per skein put-up.  That much yardage means there are only 2 skeins to alternate throughout the whole garment. With all those plies, and at the gauge of the pattern, the yarn drapes like a dream and will be a wonderful layering piece.  It will provide warmth on a cool day, yet will not be too stifling to wear on a warmer day. And the color alone slays me: that vibrant, gorgeous, stunning green.

The finished object is often my favorite part of any knitting project, but with this pattern's modular and unique construction, I have appreciated and mindfully enjoyed each step of the knitting process. While knitting seamless garments has a certain mindless ease, piece work has small victories and milestones. It isn't just: I added 2 inches to the yoke. Instead, it is a refreshing change of pace to say: HUZZAH I have created the left front! It may not seem like much, but then seaming reveals an even bigger glimpse of the whole puzzle.
Each step has a mindful goal and end. With the accumulation and culmination of all those pieces resulting in something so much more than it's parts.  A garment. A piece of art.

I was so excited today when I took the picture above of the pieces that form the upper bodice.  I love how the puzzle pieces have come together and the cardigan is starting to take form. Next up is the textured bottom section of the body, and I can't wait to see the piece of art further develop and unfold.

How about you? What process (knitting or otherwise) have you been mindfully enjoying lately?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Step One is One Step

For me, setting goals is easy. I dream up goals and quite naturally aspire to change. To keep myself accountable, I announce to the world what I am hoping to accomplish. So in a relatively brief amount of time I have decided and proclaimed my goals.

While setting goals is brief and easy, taking the steps necessary to achieve those goals are decidedly NOT brief and easy. It's HARD. It takes daily effort. Working towards a goal is just that: all of the work and none of the glory.

Confession:  I have a half marathon running event coming up in February that I really want to run in, but that I have been completely slacking on training for. I know that if I don't do the work now, I won't be able to run the race in February, but that hasn't stopped days from passing by without training.  The goal is there, but the motivation is missing.

Step One is One Step.
No matter how good or bad I feel, I'm taking One Step toward my goal when I'm training. Struggling to get out the door is the hardest part, and once I am out the door it gets easier. I know this.
Step One is One Step.



My training starts with One Step out the door:



These are lofty mileages, but as long as I am striving towards them, I am taking One Step towards my dreams.

 How about you? Do you have One Step you can take towards your goals?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Born Yesterday...

As a fan of a clever turn of phrase, January 8th is my favorite day to declare: I was indeed born yesterday!!

My birthday has been the first real temptation on my resolution of going cold sheep.  I want to use my birthday as an excuse, and gifts as a means of bringing more yarn to me!

<----  At this point please glance to the left bar and see that the ticker is indeed indicating it has only been 9 days since my last yarn purchase.



Feel free to laugh hysterically at me and the long, long, loooong road I have ahead!

The really funny part is there is still yarn arriving at my house!
Wonderful people, like Dana of The Unwind Yarn Company have sent me yarn for review.




This is a sample of her Wanderlust base (split in half to share with Amy) in the 'More than Words' colorway. It's it gorgeous? And the picture only displays the incredible dye job, and not the feel.

Her Wanderlust base is 100% American-raised and -milled Targhee wool, 3ply worsted, which is a new to me wool.  It has an incredibly soft-hand, a very high squish factor, a slight halo, and yet very sturdy.  A quick reference to Targhee reviews on KnittersReview.com confirms that these are all traits of Targhee wool.
Genetically speaking, it contains 3/4 finewool blood and 1/4 longwool blood—the former coming from Rambouillet and the latter from Lincoln and Corriedale. ... Targhee fibers have a foundation of relative softness and bounce (thanks to those finewool genes); but they also have a decent staple length and strength (thanks to the longwool genes).  They spin up into a dense, extraordinarily doughy material that begs to be squeezed.  - KnittersReview.com
The real enabling factor for me is that Unwind Yarn Company sells this base in HUGE skeins of 610 yards / 250 gram, just begging to be a garment.  I want this sweater quantity, I need this sweater quantity.

I may have convinced myself I need to buy this yarn, but my conscience wasn't born yesterday.  The point of the resolution isn't to avoid buying yarn, it is to stop adding to my stash.

If you are like me and always in the market for a non-merino garment yarn, consider yourself enabled!
Meanwhile I will happily knit my Targhee into a hat, and dream of ordering a sweater's quantity some day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Celebrating the Little Things

Do you ever take a second to breathe in and out, and really appreciate your life?    You really should!
In spite of the laundry that needs done, or the daily annoyances that can drag you down, find something to be happy about and just BASK in it!

I recently had just such a moment where I was struck with how fortunate I am to have a hobby I love and people that share that love with me! I am also blessed with opportunities to collaborate with fantastic independent craft businesses like MariGayle of Spartickes Dyes who contacted me about being a part of her Holiday Club.


With a smile on my face, and a happy heart, I was beyond excited to say count me in.
Mari  has created a fantastically fun idea of celebrating non-traditional holidays through a yarn club that pairs her beautifully dyed yarn with designs for the occasion.

Designing is just another thing I love about knitting. I channel my inner 'Project Runway' creative vision and embrace the challenge of designing for a theme.  It is also tremendously fun working hand-in-hand with dyers to create a colorway specifically for the design and theme. Secrecy is the only downside for me to designing for a club.  I have to patiently wait to scream from the mountain tops how awesome the club is, and how much fun I am having with the yarn and the design process.

So I have been ever so secretly working on a hat design for Ground Hog's Day, February 2nd!  Every February without fail,  Mr. Ground Hog braves the cold and emerges to predict the weather for us. It's about time we celebrate his courage, his determination, and his weather forecasting abilities!  Whether he predicts a quick end to Winter, 6 more weeks of Winter, or is completely wrong like most weather forecasters are, you will be prepared with this hat design and gorgeous yarn.  Mari just opened up a limited number of spots in her 3 month club, with a discount ending today.  Depending on interest, she may also open up individual months too. So jump in on the club if you are interested!

How about you?  What can you celebrate today? What moments are you basking in?

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Beginnings....

Happy New Year!  A new year brings renewed hope, renewed resolve to make positive changes in your life, and many times new beginnings.

For 2014, I am kicking off this new endeavor! I am also focusing on 5 key goals.

The general theme of my resolutions is DE-CLUTTER my life so that I can prioritize and focus!

1) I am going cold sheep, which means that I am not buying any new yarn and using stash for my knitting projects for the whole year. The only exception is knitting events/retreats, as I generally limit myself better when I am buying yarn in real life.

2) Continue to train and find time for physical activity: running, biking, swimming, hiking.  It clears my mind, and invigorates my spirit.

3) No more soda and instead opting to drink more water.  Articles like this: 10 Reasons To Give Up Diet Soda show that all the diet soda I was drinking is bad for me.

4)  Systematically, relentlessly, continuously remove clutter from my house.

5) Embrace my love of words! Read whether books or audio-books. Blog at least twice a week.

Do you have any new goals and new beginnings for 2014?