iTunes Album Art Spec Goes Up Again

iTunes logo newSeems like it wasn’t all that long ago that we were reporting on Apple’s most recent requirement change to the iTunes specifications for album artwork. Last time, iTunes set the spec to 1400x1400px minimum with a maximum of 2048x2048px. Apple has upped their artwork requirements once again, as now the official iTunes Making a Podcast page states:

Create your cover art, which must be in the JPEG or PNG file formats and in the RGB color space with a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels.

Overall, it’s not a huge change from the previous spec. But it’s been less than a year since Apple increased it the last time, which is one of the shortest periods ever between changes in the iTunes album artwork specification. Is it possible that Apple didn’t like the way the previous spec was looking on Retina Display devices? Or does the technology company have something new in the works that will really take advantage of these extra pixels?

Your guess is as good as mine. In the meantime, be sure to get all of your artwork updated to these new specifications.

Tip of the hat to IAIB who broke this news earlier today.

BuzzFeed Moves Into Podcasting

BuzzFeed logoQuarter one of 2015 has been a busy time for established media companies starting up their own podcasts. The trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down as listicle-driven blog site BuzzFeed just launched some podcasts of its own. The New York based company moved into the medium with two shows. One is called Internet Explorer and the other is named Another Round. Both are hosted by BussFeed staff members.

As the name suggests, Internet Explorer (no relation to the web browser with the same name) is a show that plays on one of BuzzFeed’s biggest strengths; unusual and/or interesting things that come from the farthest reaches of the Internet. Another Round is a show hosted by two women that focuses on race, gender and related cultural issues.

BuzzFeed is somewhat notorious for its “more page views at all costs” business model. But running in contradiction to that philosophy, these new podcasts won’t immediately run any advertising. It’s a curious move on BuzzFeed’s part. Perhaps the company is hoping to build an audience on the back of the ad-free content, and then start running ads after subscribers are already hooked on the content. It feels like an old fashioned approach in a time when the rush to monetize podcasts is moving faster than ever.

If you’d like to check out these new offerings from BuzzFeed, they’re available thru iTunes and presumably, most other popular podcasting directories. I couldn’t find dedicated pages for the shows on BuzzFeed’s website. I guess that’s the part of their launch plan that didn’t include some of that old fashioned thinking.

Women in Podcasting: Jordan Reyne

People's Assembly Podcast Podcaster News Jordan Reyne is the host of The People’s Assembly Against Austerity podcast. It is a political newscast that focuses on austerity measures in the United Kingdom and Europe. Jordan Reyne is also an amazing musician and you may have heard some of her music on various music-themed podcasts.

When did you start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting from then to now?
I started podcasting with the project I am doing now – the People’s Assembly Against Austerity podcast – so I am really still quite new to it. That said, I am lucky enough to have a background in production and experience in features writing (Sound on Sound, Kitmonsters and a few others). It’s by no means the same as actually running a whole podcast, but it meant I have had the advantage of a less steep learning curve. Having to learn all of the skills that podcasting entails at once would have been hellish: writing, presenting, interviewing, audio production and editing, promo etc. The other piece of luck is that I have friends who produce some great podcasts too, so I had been exposed to the tricks of the trade and involved in how it is done as well. The learning curve is probably terrifying if you are fresh to it on all fronts, but luckily I didnt have to go through all of that at once!

What inspired you to become a podcaster?
I’m very passionate about politics – particularly about tackling the injustices and threats to people who are already disadvantaged. I have always kept those themes within my music projects, but lyrics are so very nebulous sometimes and whoever said you can still change the world with a song clearly didn’t live under the kind of global capitalism we have today. My deep disapointment in the music industry eventually led me to look for something where ideas and meaning were still valued. I wanted to fight injustice in a more direct way so started looking for political work that fit my own beliefs.

I came across the People’s Assembly Against Austerity during an anti racism protest. I started there as a coder, but came up with the idea of the podcast shortly after I started. They are a really great group and very open to ideas so we had a brainstorm about how it should go, what it should include and we went forward with it. I have to say it’s a new passion for me as well: doing something directly informative, helpful and that covers some of the news that mainstream media shy away from. I’m very behind what they do, so working on this project with them is very fulfilling indeed.

What is the People’s Assembly Podcast about?
It’s basically a newscast, but focused on themes surrounding the austerity measures in the UK and Europe. Austerity, in dictionary terms, means a state of increased frugality. It is basically a word used by governments to make cuts in areas like health, welfare and education sound more palatable. Under the umbrella of “austerity” our government is doing the usual things that have already debilitated other countries in the EU: privatisation of health, welfare, infrastructure and education, and cuts that effect primarily those who are already financially very badly off.

Many laws surrounding cuts and privatisation get pushed through with little media coverage for fear that people will object – because they WOULD object if they knew what the implications were. Similarly, agreements that allegedly relate to other sectors only, but actually directly effect citizens are shuffled through mostly under the radar. TTIP is a good example. If it goes through, our national health system faces irreversible privatisation, and workers face a world without a minimum wage or the ability to bargain over work conditions. Then there are laws like the gagging law, the anti lobbying law, and the pay to protest law that produce a code of silence ensuring we won’t be ABLE to effectively object to future proposals by government. Our podcast focuses on these things and interviews those who are directly involved or expert in the field.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?
As someone so new to podcasting, I doubt I have the experience to give good advice in that area specifically. What I do think is helpful to keep in mind with anything where women have to venture into a territory that is either traditionally male, or male dominated: gender is a social contruct. It is learned and then performed. The performance of gender in accordance with what people expect makes your life easier, yes, because people see a confirmation of what they already think. That doesn’t stop gender constructs (and performances) from being essentailly utterly arbitrary and damaging.

Saying “women are not as good at ‘thing x’ as men” is exactly akin to saying “people from a particular culture are not as good as people from western culture are at ‘thing x'”. Anyone with any brains recognises the latter as racism, but somehow they don’t yet always get that the former is sexism. They are simply people parroting what society has foreced on them as “fact” since they were born. Ignore them.

There are a lot of well meaning older men in podcasting, and they have had those ideas pushed on them for even longer. They are most often really caring and helpful actually, but can still come out with casual sexisms that make you feel small or excluded. Pull them up on it, if you can. I always do, but I know it is sometimes hard to, especially when that person is also trying to be helpful. Even if you are new to something and don’t yet feel expert enough to argue though, remember that the assumption that you wont get to be as good cos of your gender is also sexism. Just point out politely that that is what it is. Some forms of sexism are just borne of ignorance rather than malice. The ones that are malice driven – just walk away and have nothing to do with them. They aren’t worth knowing.

Twitch Accounts Compromised by Recent Hack

Twitch logoGaming-focused video streaming service Twitch sent a mass e-mail to users earlier today stating that some accounts may have been compromised in a recent hack. From the e-mail:

We are writing to let you know that there may have been unauthorized access to some of your Twitch user account information, including possibly your Twitch username and associated email address, your password (which was cryptographically protected), the last IP address you logged in from, and any of the following if you provided it to us: first and last name, phone number, address, and date of birth.

The message goes on to say that Twitch has “expired” users’ passwords and stream keys and that users will be prompted to create new passwords (and possibly re-authenticate their accounts thru Facebook) upon their next login to the site. Twitch also terminated connections between user accounts and external sites like Twitter and YouTube. Users will have to reestablish those connections if they want to continue to use them.

In the wake of this security breach, Twitch may have changed its password requirements, forcing users to make more complex passwords. Responding to complaints from users, the company lessened the requirements but still advised users on best practices for creating secure passwords.

Interview Tips – PCN Show 014

Podcaster News episode 014In this episode of Podcaster News, I share with you some tips for doing interviews. I’ve done several interviews with women in podcasting for Podcaster News and have learned how to make an audio interview, or an “email interview”, a success.

Links mentioned in this episode:
* @Podcasting News
* @Queenofhaiku

Women in Podcasting: Interview with Addy Saucedo

Addy Saucedo Podcaster NewsWhat does “intentional transformation” mean? You can find out all about it, and how to use it to improve your life, in Addy Saucedo’s DO I.T. podcast. The show provides what some have decided to call “self help” and also gives you concrete examples of how she has used intentional transformation in her life.

When did you start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting been from then to now?
In January 2013 I launched my first podcast called The Modern Vintage Radio Show (MVR). It was an attempt at having a variety show discussing “Timeless Topics with Today’s Views.” That whole show was a trial and error experience from the tech side (website and rss) to the talent, content and marketing. I put the show on hiatus so that I can immerse myself with all that podcasting consists of – recording, producing, social media, and marketing.

Since then I’ve hosted 5 other podcasts, still currently hosting two of those 5, the DO I.T. Podcast and Beyond Storybooke. Along with hosting those two shows, I’m now a professional podcast producer for other podcasters and also working with Ben Krueger of Authority Engine. That’s me going from not having a clue other than knowing I wanted to podcast (makes me laugh now) to now feeling very comfortable with the amazing medium.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?
My grandmother loved listening to talk radio and when I was a about 3 years old, she would call into the radio station and ask the DJ to put my cousins and I on-air to talk to him and make song requests. A tradition that went on for a few years ha ha…I always found the fact that the city can hear us kids on-air to be very cool! I would then dream to one day have my own “radio” show.

Fast-forward to when I got the iPhone 3. I had found out that my favorite talk radio show (The Frosty Heidi and Frank Show) was available for free as a podcast. Because of their podcast, they have a passionate following (very fun and supportive) that helped get them through the thick and thin of what the radio industry is currently going through. It was that moment when I just knew that once I finished with school I was going to start planning for my own “radio” podcast show, because now I no longer needed a mainstream network to hire me as a DJ. ;)

Can you explain a bit about what the “I.T.” in the title of your podcast means?
The “I.T.” is an acronym for Intentional Transformation. With that said, it’s all about putting our best efforts forward (intentional actions) to accomplish the dreams, hopes, and personal freedom we truly desire (the transformation). Hey, let’s “DO IT” to experience intentional transformation.

Mainstream named this type of content to be “self help” but my listeners know that they are not alone. I’m there for my audience to share my personal journey and lessons I’ve learned so they can have support and inspiration to achieve their transformation – be it in their health, relationships, career or lifestyle. Just like them, I can’t do it alone so I also feature amazing individuals who share their journey of intentional transformation.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?
You can plan your content, learn the tech side, learn marketing strategies, even take talent coaching courses, but what the medium demands is for you to be true to yourself. As I mentioned, I took time to immerse myself in all of that stuff, but what made the biggest impact in my life and passion for podcasting is finding my OWN voice. I did that by being real with myself and letting that into the microphone and out to the ears of my listeners.

When you’re passionate about the message you want to share and you be yourself when sharing it, you’ll instantly connect with those who need to hear your message and you’ll fall in love with podcasting and not find it as a task or just a marketing strategy. One last thing, for future and present podcasters…#WeGotThis ;)

Women in Podcasting: Interview with Jessica Cook

Jessica Cook Podcaster NewsJessica Cook is involved with two podcasts, both of which focus on gaming, yet are different from each other. She is a host of the Cat Context podcast and also a host of the Game On podcast.

When did you start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting from then to now?

I started podcasting in 2012 with my own show Cat Context, which discusses video games and geek culture. Back then I actually worried that I was getting on the podcasting bandwagon too late. It seemed like a potentially outdated technology, while everyone was moving to video.

Now I know how wrong I was! In 2015 podcasting is alive and well and in fact probably in better shape than it’s been in for years. The popularity of NPR shows like Serial have brought in new listeners to the genre and inspired those of us who have been around for a while.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

When I was a little kid I used to sit under the kitchen table with a tape recorder (oops, showing my age) and record “radio” shows. Later in college I joined the campus radio station and had a great few years playing obscure rock and taking silly phone calls. Moving into podcasting in modern times seems like a pretty natural extension — apparently I just love talking into a microphone.

You’re involved in two different podcasts and each one covers gaming. How do the two differ?

Cat Context is a very free-form show that I do with two close friends. We started out planning everything down to the minute, but at this point we barely have show notes or even an list of topics ready when I hit the “record” button. I think people tune in for our rapport as much as our subject matter, and our number one goal is to make the listener laugh even (particularly!) when that means being goofy. I do edit each show diligently to remove anything I think is not interesting to our audience or too “inside baseball”, but the recording can be pretty chaotic!

GameOn, on the other hand, is a tight 30 minute show with a focus on news and current events in the game industry. I probably spend more time writing the show notes than I do recording, with a focus on doing things like finding the hot stories from the week, writing short summaries, and making sure that we give even coverage to all games. It’s also a show for a professional audience, many of whom are in the game-making industry themselves, so I try to act accordingly: no swearing, no rumormongering, no being rude or overly negative.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

My advice is: just go for it! I have found the podcasting community to be very inclusive, intelligent, and friendly. Whereas some places on the internet have “clickbait” headlines or mean comments from viewers, I think the pace and content of podcasts means that listeners are generally a pretty calm, thoughtful group. And you don’t need much: just get a microphone, a free piece of audio editing software, and something to say. I look forward to listening!

Popular WordPress SEO Plugin Vulnerable to Injection Attacks

Yoast LogoSEO by Yoast, a popular WordPress plugin used by many podcasters was found to have a bug that left the software vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. If the exploit were executed, an attacker would be able to take over an entire WordPress installation. From the Threatpost article linked above:

Vulnerable versions of the service are susceptible to arbitrarily executed SQL queries, in part because it lacks proper cross-site request forgery protections. If the attacker were able to trick an authenticated administrator, editor or author into following a link to a malicious page, the attacker could then create an admin role for himself and totally compromise affected sites.

While it’s impossible to know how many WordPress sites are running the infected plugin, the SEO by Yoast page on the WordPress plugin directory shows that the software is currently actively installed on over one million sites. In order to fix the vulnerability on your own WordPress site, ensure that you’re running version 1.74, which is the latest version of the Yoast plugin. (If you’re running an older version of the plugin, the WordPress dashboard should notify you of an available update the next time you log in.)

And regardless of which plugins you use, it’s always important to make sure all of them (as well as your core WordPress files) are always kept up to date. It’s the best way to safeguard your site against these kinds of issues.

iTunes Store Experiencing Massive Outage

iTunes Store unavailable status messageIf you’re experiencing trouble today with the iTunes Store, don’t panic. The iTunes Store is experiencing a major outage due to an internal error.

A check of the systems status page for Apple services currently shows that the App Store, iTunes Store and Mac App Store are currently unavailable.

Apple is aware of the outage and is working to correct the problem. In a statement released earlier today, Apple blamed the outage on an internal DNS error:

We apologize to our customers experiencing problems with iTunes and other services this morning. The cause was an internal DNS error at Apple. We’re working to make all of the services available to customers as soon as possible, and we thank everyone for their patience,

[Read more…]