How Podcasting Works

For those who haven’t looked into it yet, podcasting is a relatively new form of broadcasting in which anyone can record and transmit audio, distributed over the internet. It is automated by RSS, allowing listeners to subscribe to a web address and receive updates as they are published. Podcasting is not live, however this can be an advantage as the audio files can be stored on an iPod (or other media player) and be enjoyed at a convenient time. Most podcast-enabled applications, such as iPodderX and NetNewsWire, easily integrate with iTunes to support iPod synchronization. If you’re interested but unsure of how it all fits together, Peter Rukavina has a great illustrated tutorial showing how to subscribe to a podcast using NetNewsWire and iTunes. [via]

While podcasting may not seem like a big deal yet, Apple picked up on it and will be adding support for it in the next update to iTunes. It appears that Apple will be hand picking podcasts to feature in iTunes 4.9, and I’m hopeful that they won’t be too heavy handed about it. You can be sure that major news outlets featuring podcasts will be there, but I’d like to see some of my picks as well. A fan of podcasts myself, I subscribe to This Week in Tech, The Wizards of Technology, Make Audio Blog, and the occasional Dawn and Drew. With the release of iTunes 4.9, podcasting should see a huge boost, and I look forward to what Apple can bring to the table — hopefully more people, at the very least.

How Podcasting Works

iSight Inside

Just out of geeky curiousity (and since I hadn’t seen anyone do it yet), I carefully disassembled my iSight and took pictures along the way.

The first step in cracking open the camera is to remove the two tiny screws in the bottom of the iSight, at the front and back of the white oval surrounding the pivoting base. To remove that white oval, use a sharp knife or nylon pry tool to gently pull the top and bottom away from the holes where the screws were. There are four tabs on it, but popping off the top and bottom ones is far easier than unhooking the sides first. It unclips and comes free.

Grab the iSight mesh housing and the camera piece in front (the part you twist to open and close the iris), and pull the two away from each other. The housing slides almost all the way off the camera, but gets hung up at the very end. What holds it up is the small translucent piece of plastic used to funnel the small green LED light up to the tip of the camera. Sliding the housing halfway back down the iSight exposes a little window, showing a side view of white plastic back of the iSight. From this point, you can slide the pry tool right between the iSight and the white backing — it pops right off. The mesh iSight housing then slides off easily.

With the cover completely off the iSight, any further disassembly is easy. A thin screen is taped on the black plastic cage around the electronics to stop dust and dirt from getting inside. It peels off easily to expose the microphones and other guts of the iSight. The rest comes apart after removing the obvious screws. If you are doing this disassembly, do be careful with the thin ribbon cables which connect the boards inside, as they tear easily. The connectors require that you pull out the front half before the ribbon will disconnect.

There is also a mysterious ribbon connector at the back of the iSight which isn’t connected. My guess is that Apple uses it to restore the firmware or run diagnostics on hosed iSights. If anyone has some insight into its use, I’d love to know what it’s really for.

For all the pictures, check out my iSight Inside Flickr photoset. I’d love to see some iSight mods!

iSight Inside

Del.icio.us Tools

Recently, I was introduced to del.icio.us, a social bookmarks manager which not only allows you to bookmark your favorite sites, but also combine your recommendations with those of others to create a list of popular sites. Your bookmarks can also be tagged with keywords for easy organization, searching, and grouping. For example, you can browse the del.icio.us site by a tag such as ‘torrent‘, and see what others have recently bookmarked related to that tag (quite often it’s how I discover new BitTorrent TV sites).

Del.icio.us also features a programming interface which allows anyone to interact with the site to provide their own set of tools. From that feature comes a huge list of tools which can do all sorts of things, including updating your bookmarks, mapping related tags, backing up all your posts, integrating your bookmarks into your blog, and plenty more. If you use del.icio.us, check them out. [via]

Del.icio.us Tools

Now IE Friendly

Thanks to a reader, Command-Tab now looks presentable in Internet Explorer 5.x or greater. While Firefox is the most popular browser among visitors, IE and Safari are almost tied for second place. Thanks to everyone for your continuing positive feedback and support!

Now IE Friendly

hotTunes

My good friend and fellow Mac User Group member Dave Warker developed a new iTunes controller called hotTunes. It’s just a small application which has almost no interface, but controls iTunes via key commands. While others have pointed out that there are other options out there, I happen to prefer this one above the others. For instance, I’ve used SizzlingKeys for a long time, but it takes a little while to respond if the computer is busy processing something else. I’ve also tried Synergy, but I don’t really need yet another menu bar item. However, hotTunes just sits in your Dock and waits for a key command to pause, play, rate, or show information. I helped design the hotTunes icon, too, so part of me likes seeing my own work in my Dock. Regardless, hotTunes is a great little key command based iTunes controller, and I highly recommend it.

hotTunes

Hi-Res Xbox 360 Videos

Microsoft has posted over a dozen high resolution videos of Xbox 360 games on their site, many of which look very impressive, despite the fact that none of the hardware or software is finalized yet. Unfortunately, the videos are in Windows Media 9 format, so you’ll need Windows Media Player or the Flip4Mac WMV Plugin to play them. If there’s demand for it, I’ll convert them to a Mac-friendly format, however I don’t have the bandwidth required to host H.264 versions of them. If anyone has enough of bandwidth to serve up several 100MB+ videos, please contact me. As far as the gaming goes on the Xbox 360, it should be interesting to see how things work out as developers learn how to take advantage of the power available in the new console.

Hi-Res Xbox 360 Videos

Search Bug

I just noticed that searches were broken if you attempted to search while browsing a category. A thread on the WordPress forums quickly resolved the problem. I had to replace with /index.php inside the searchform.php file to direct searches to index.php, which can handle them.

Search Bug

Hack: Xbox Controller + iPod Shuffle

This is a neat hack — it shows how to modify an Xbox controller’s second memory card slot to provide a standard USB port, which can in turn be used to charge an iPod Shuffle while playing the Xbox is on. See the rest of the photos. The Xbox seems to recognize some USB mass storage devices and will ask to format them to the Xbox’s filesystem, and it would not be a good idea to do that if it asks when the iPod is connected. However, you can format USB flash drives and use them to stash game saves. Personally, I keep the 007 Agent Under Fire hack and various homebrew BIOS files on a 32MB flash drive for quick modding.

Hack: Xbox Controller + iPod Shuffle

Transmit

The great folks over at Panic, makers of my favorite FTP and iDisk (WebDAV) client have been busy updating their applications for Tiger. Aside from the fact that Transmit 3 beats the Finder hands-down in both iDisk and FTP connectivity, it also boasts AppleScript-ability. Panic has taken advantage of this with a new Dashboard widget to go along with it, and it is really slick. Upon opening it, you click to configure the widget’s network settings, then click Done and are greeted with an animation that indicates it is ready to accept dropped files. While uploading files, the Transmit truck appears to drive along a road, and successful/failed uploads are met with appropriate colored indicators. Overall, it’s a nice addition to an already fantastic client. Panic did such a nice job on the widget animations, too — it makes me wish more widget developers would make use of them. Although copyrighted, the JavaScript code inside the widget is well documented and may give you an idea of how everything works. Download the Transmit widget.

Transmit

AirPort Express Promo Photoshop File

Continuing in my Photoshop file giveaway category, I present you with some Apple advertising in layered Photoshop format. While I didn’t come up with the advertisement idea, I did make the file from scratch (except for the AirPort Expess photo). Apple’s advertising is a vital part of their brand, especially the music parts of it, and I think it’s interesting to study how they make it. I have left my original screenshot inside the Photoshop file in a layer titled “reference” so that you can compare. You can explore how Apple’s advertising is created by poking through the layers in this file and hopefully learn something from it. Creating this kind of thing keeps my Photoshop skills fresh, as well. Just as for the others, this is a Photoshop CS2 file saved with compatibility mode on.

AirPort Express Promo Photoshop File