Podcast Problems

Paul Boag

I have received a number of emails recently complaining about various technical aspects of the podcast. Hopefully now they are all fixed.

Two problems in particular seem to have plagued people:

  • iTunes continually marking everything as new
  • Downloads of older episodes being painfully slow

Well, I have wasted most of my saturday working on these problems and this is what I have discovered.

Everything is new

When I sat down and really looked at the XML file I use for the podcast I discovered it was a mess. The code was invalid and it was littered with dead links and other problems. Feedburner had been doing its best to make something useable out of it but the odds were stacked against it. Some of the problems were due to sloppiness on my part but also some blame has to be leveled at FeedforAll the tool I had been using to create the feed. Anyway I have spent most of today rebuilding the entire feed from scratch and will only be editing it by hand from now on.

Slow Downloads

Now this problem is an area I could really start to rant over. If I had to boil it down to a single phrase it would be don’t use Fasthosts. When we first started using Fasthosts as our ISP it was back in the day before podcasting was around. There service offered no bandwidth cap and so it was the logical place to host the show. At some point over the intervening months they changes their T&Cs on me and one day contacted me saying that I would have to host the podcast elsewhere as it was eating 80GB per day! I have to say I cant blame them for that. 80GB is a hell of a lot of traffic and was a testament to the popularity of the show. We agreed that I would move away new episodes (which accounted for the vast majority of traffic) and that the older shows would stay where they were. This would reduce my bandwidth considerably. I set up with Libsyn who offer a superb service and I can highly recommend.

This should have been the end of the story however unfortunately it proved not to be. A few months later all of the older episodes just suddenly went offline. Fasthosts had pulled the plug with no warning whatsoever. After considerable shouting on my part they eventually reconnected me and this also should have been the end of things. However, a few days ago I started receiving email from people saying that the episodes on Fasthosts were taking 6-8 hours to download! In short they had throttled my bandwidth.

So in order to rectify this problem I have now left Fasthosts completely and moved the archive of shows across to Switchpod. I have 1GB of storage with them which covers most of my archive and they offer unlimited bandwidth. Unfortunately because I have maxed out my Switchpod account I have to stick with Libsyn for future shows (as they give me a set amount of storage each month). I say unfortunately because although Libsyn is great, Switchpod provides a much better user experience.

I need your help

Anyway the long and the short of all of this is that your problems should now be sorted… at least in principle. Of course I have just moved over a gigabytes work of shows from one provider to another, edited the feed for 75 shows and updated every link to an MP3 file on this website. The result is that something will be broken somewhere. If you spot it, please let me know.