blogging

Transform your blog into podcast using autocasting

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Autocasting is the term used to refer either service or tool that would automatically convert the text on a blog into speech. Most of these tools / service would read the RSS feed and covert them into speech using their inbuilt Tex-to-Speech (TTS) technology.

Why Autocasting?

Autocasting can be used in conjunction with normal blog that would add more liveliness to users. Podcasting would allow readers to listen to your post while they are working in parallel. Thus it would help the author to convey their complete story to their reader rather than readers scanning the post text.

Here is the list of service I have tried in past months and my recommended service. Also you can subscribe to my podcast feeds if you’re interested in listening “TechCorner” via voice.

Recommended service

Odiogo
Odiogo

Odiogo is the latest in the list and is my favorite now. Odiogo embeds listen button into your blog post. The listen now button has a build in MP3 player that would play you the converted audio post. Odiogo monetize they podcasts using sponsored ads, it might be required for them run this service free of cost for blogger. Once you signup for Odiogo you may need to wait for 2-3 days to receive the installation information and the feed url. Installing Ogiogo’s Listen button is simple in WordPress.

Subscribe to TechCorner’s Odiogo feed

Talkr

TalkTalkr service was announced long time back in 2005. It faced a great downfall in entire 2006 and now they are getting better. Talkr is also very similar to Odiogo in the service spectrum. Talkr also lets user to embedded the MP3 with the blog feed and blog site. Talkr also lets the bloggers to monetize their voice feed using sponsored voice ads. Talkr also had statistics page, which gives you information on the audio feed usage. Odiogo lacks the stats part. Talkr also has WordPress plugin to embed Talkr feed into every post.

Subscribe to TechCorner’s Talkr feed

Other services – Try yourself

Also you can try out the below service but I’m not recommending them due to lack of few features / usability reason. The below listed are still in beta stage and hope they have room for their improvement.

BlueGrid

BlueGrid seems to be relatively new service with lot of bug in their interface. They allow you to listen to podcast using play list you can choose them from their list. You can either submit the content to BlueGrid as text or as blog itself. BlueGrid also has instructions to embed the content into your blog.

Check out TechCorner feed here.

Feed2Podcast

Feed2Podcast is simple service that will convert any Feed into postcast. You just need to provide the feed url. Feed2Podcast lacks option to embed the content directly into blog post; rather it provides option to user their player to listen your audio content.

Check out TechCorner in their player, here.

Autocasting Limitation

Text to Speech (TTS) technology is not evolved completely but it is improving. The pronunciations of English standard words have improved a lot. The auto-generated voice might not be the same for foreign names, acronym, emotion used and other non-standard English text.

Have you tried any of these services? Voice your thoughts.

Quick overview of available Blogging Platforms

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blogging_platform.jpgBlogging has become a passion to lot of people these days (I can include myself). Technorati says a new blog appears every 2 seconds. And there are lot many novice blogger behind it. They will come across this question before they start a blog “which blogging platform to use?”

The options are wide open and choice is yours!

This article might not answer the question directly. However, I’d try to provide least information about most of blogging platforms that are available today either as a service or download.

WordPress.org
WordPress.org is the best and well-known open source Blogging platform. It is widely used commonly by popular self-hosted blogs around the blogosphere. It runs with minimal setup and it requires just PHP/ MySQL preferably in Apache. It rates high compared with other since it can be highly customized. In addition to this there are huge number of plugin authors and theme authors are there to help reduce bloggers effort. WordPress.org also has nice development community that ensures the WordPress core get better and better.

Blogger
Blogger is a free one-push blog publishing platform. Most of the novice bloggers starts Blogging with Google’s Blogger in first place. The new blogger comes in with Widget support that eradicated the use of HTML for templates. Setting up a blog in Blogger is painless and easiest of anything else. You can customize Blogger to certain extend only since they are not an open source solution. There are few popular blogs that still runs on Blogger.

WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a multi-user version variant of WordPress.org. WordPress.com have their own-hosted solution of newbie bloggers, who doesn’t have a hosting space. WordPress.com comes in with neat option for a newbie. WordPress.com comes with space restrictions; in addition to that you can monetize your blog.

Movable Type
Movable Type is a web blog publishing platform successfully developed by SixApart. It is the one who invented Trackback feature in the first hand that was later devised by other blogging systems as well and now it is more-or-less a standard. Movable Type is written in Perl and supports most of the Database as backend. Movable Type is best suited for business use.

Typepad
Typepad is a blogging service provided by SixApart and it is one of largest paid blogging service available now. Typepad is based on Movable Type and it shares most of its technical functions. Additionally, it also supports multi-user, mobile and photo blogging. Typepad is been successfully used by lot of professional writers.

LiveJournal
LiveJournal is a CMS that allows you to express your self by publishing your private journal, your blog or your forum or any of a social entity. It is the best in town for writing life journals.

Vox
Vox is a personal blogging service. It’s all about ease of use, privacy control, playing well with other web services, and staying connected to the people you care about. Vox is good platform when it comes to multimedia blogging.

Text Pattern
Text Patter is a flexible, elegant, easy-to-use content management system for all kinds of websites. Blogs works fine as well. Text Pattern also has its own list of plugins and templates.

Drupal
Drupal is a modular content management system and the blogging engine was initially indented for bulletin board system. Drupal is good for building online communities and those communities powers their blogging engine. It is written in PHP. It has a wide community support.

Joomla
Joomla is truly a content management system that forked from Mambo, a pretty good open source content management system. Joomla has won the best open source content management system of the year 2006. Joomla has a decent blogging engine and other extension.

Expression Engine
pMachine’s Expression Engine is not well know but it is a powerful and much extensible software that you may need to give a try. It is a complete content management system with much Blogging feature as well. In addition to Blogging module it comes with inbuilt gallery module. It is more suitable for heavy business blogs. Also the cost associated with it is high.

Nucleus
Nucleus is been around for sometime now and it is not much popular yet though. Nucleus is mature blogging software that comes with most of the required blogging features. Nucleus is also programmed in PHP and runs on MySQL backend.

b2evolution
b2evloution was developed from the same original code that spawned WordPress, b2Evolution is written in PHP and licensed under GPL so is always free to use. It comes with lot of features that you may need to check, which includes antispam, skins, multi-blogs, users, authors, integrated stats, its own plugin framework etc. etc.

TeraPad
TeraPad is hosted blogging solution which takes blogger beyond the blogging experience. TeraPad comes in with versatile blogging tools,  image gallery,  PayPal ready shopping cart, event calendar etc.  TeraPad places a its ad over the site which might annoy bloggers a little but may it is need for TeraPad to keep it service Free 🙂

This is not a comprehensive list, I might have left out few of them with or without my knowledge. You can very well indicate them by your comments.

Update (06/17) : Mayank has pointed out two more additional blogging service. I have added an overview of TeraPad; Thanks Mayank.

Extending WordPress – Plugins Used

Here is my comprehensive list of WordPress plugins that powers this blog. This list may be little help for blog author who have recently moved to WordPress.

After migrating from Blogger to WordPress , I started exploring the options of customizing and enhancing my WordPress blog.

Adsense-Deluxe

Well, without this it would have been much harder for me to integrate Google Adsense into this blog. Adding and managing ads that needs to be displayed in your blog is much easier with this plugin. You can tag the ads and then display anywhere with the site. This plugin also support other ad networks too. If you’re thinking of monetizing your blog then you should try this out. John has a full coverage on Adsense Deluxe plugin and how to integrate it into your blog.

Akismet

Thank you for this plugin, it has already blocked around thousand SPAM comments right from the day of WordPress installation (FYI: This is site is powered by WordPress around a month). TechCrunh reports Akismet blocks around 15000 comments per day . This plugin comes pre-installed with WordPress and make sure you activate this plugin. You may need an API key, which can be received by registering a free account in WordPress.com. Currently, I am not allowing anonymous comments but I may turn on moderation soon. I remember couple or more incidents in which Akismet got true comment as SPAM.

cforms

I believe a contact form should have been added into WordPress by default. Anyway I stumbled WPThemesPlugin.com and found about cforms . cform is a AJAX powered contact form that features multiple contact forms. This WordPress plugin is neat and clean.

Executable PHP widget

This plugin allows you to execute any PHP codes inside the Sidebar Widget. I have installed this plugin display Top Commentators and Popular Post. By default Sidebar Widget only support HTML. This plugin is required to customize the sidebar widgets display.

Feedburner Feed Replacement

The Feed management with WordPress is pretty cool and straight. But WordPress doesn’t have more sophisticated features like FeedBurner has. Anyone who powers WordPress or any other blogging platform generally prefers to burn their feeds using FeedBurner. FeedBurner provides much better reporting about your subscribers and readers. So it is mandatory that you forward all the default Feed traffic your to FeedBurner. You just configure this plugin; it will automatically forward all the default WordPress feed url traffic to FeedBurner url. Step-by-Step blog has a full instruction on configuring this FeedBurner replacement plugin.

Gregarious

Gregarious means Social, this plugin is great use to share the post across social networking sites. I heard about this from Wrong Advice blog, which complained about the problem with Google. Still I made my mind to try this out. This is extremely cool plugin. I have replaced the Social Bookmarks plugin by this and it has been ease to configure with my blog.

Hello Dolly

This is a default plugin that comes with WordPress and is written by Matt. It displays random lyrics from Louis Armstrong’s song “Hello Dolly” in WordPress admin dashboard. This is kind of cool plugin for most of the weird blog authors 😉

Live Comment Preview

This is simple AJAX powered plugin that allows live preview of comments. Most of the themes have support for this by default. Moreover this is much easier to configure in any theme.

MyAvatars

Displaying avatars of commenter would enhance the trust of comments. I was previously running Gravatar, which was defaulted with my theme Qwilm! . I was seeing more and more blogs turned to support MyAvatar that displays avatars from MyBlogLog. Power blogger John Chow also has installed MyAvatar . Finally I to decided to use MyAvatar in my blog.

MyBlogLog Widget

Well, it’s been a passion around to track the faces of your blog readers. MyBlogLog team provided the widget plugin to display those faces in your hosted WordPress. This is quite easy to configure.

Related Posts

This plugin will search other blog posts that are related to the current post. This is a good way to generate extra page views and keep readers on your blog. The plugin allows you to configure how many related posts to display and gives you options for displaying them. This plugin uses keyword searching throughout the posts and same is in action in all post here.

Show Top Commentators

Show Top Commentator displays top commenter in the blog. It allows you to configure the frequency, block authors and more. I have installed this plugin to improve the commenter ship of this blog. I decided to put of my blog after reading Ajay’s post on Why You should Comment on my Blog . I have not yet enable DoFollow plugin but will be doing that soon. Now there is another reason to comment my blog.

Sidebar Widgets

The plugin is top featured plugins that made for WordPress. The Widget allows you to customize the look of your sidebar without having to edit any PHP files (before we had to edit sidebar.php) – you just drag and drop items you want included in the sidebar and the Widget does the rest. The WordPress theme must be Widget ready in order to use this plugin or you have Widgetize the theme manually. This plugin is required for displaying other Widget plugins.

Subscribe To Comments

This plugin will add an option to notify the commenter on follow up comments. When a new comment is made to the post, an email is sent to the subscriber notifying them. This is help commenter to keep track of their comments and post replies if required. This will improve floating healthy comments across the post.

Ultimate Tag Warrior

Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin is the best know plugin for Tagging. This plugin allows the creation of tags for Technorati, Flickr, and Delicious etc., including your own tags page for easy searching. By using tags, not only will searches be easier but UTW also can create a tag cloud. Better way to keep your blog well maintained. Lorelle on WordPress uncovers all the possibilities that can be done with UTW in this post UTW WordPress Plugin for Dummies.

What Would Seth Godin Do

This is simple plugin that display a message to reader who are new to the blog with options for subscribing to the blog feed. This plugin would increase your blog feed subscription. This plugin was developed based on the idea given by Seth Godin on How to get traffic for your blog.

WP-PostRatings

Recently, I came across this plugin. I though this would be better option of receiving rating on the post from the reader. Well, I’m running out a trial of this plugin; depending on the user-interaction I may have to decide to have or remove this plugin. If you like this post rate this as well 🙂

Now I have couple of special mentions even though these plugins are use anymore. But without those plugins I would have never thought of WordPress platform and I’m thankful to them. They are New Blogger Import plugin that I used to import all the post from Blogger platform and the WordPress Suicide plugin that I used to clear up the post during the testing phase. You can read more about the use of these plugin in my post on WordPress migration.

Bottom line, all the thanks and credits goes to the respective plugin author’s. I guess and wish one day or other I will author some plugin that features in other blogs 🙂

Thanks for plugin authors once again. I’m also looking for new suggestion of other plugins.

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