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Monday, June 27, 2005

cool trick to distribute pdfs using podcasting

Ken Tompkins alerted me to a neat little trick to distribute mp3's that he came across here. I think that this would be useful to distribute other files, especially pdfs.

It works like this:
1) Find a pdf on a publisher's site that is open acess. For example
2) Tag it with a unique identifier in del.icio.us For example I used jcbpdfcast
3) Burn the del.icio.us RSS feed in FeedBurner with the SmartCast option and you end up with a podcast feed like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Delicious/tag/jcbpdfcast

Anyone who puts that podcast feed in their podcast client will automatically get the pdf files you tagged downloaded onto their computer. In this case I am tagging my publications.

What makes this cool is that this is a way to podcast without creating a blog and with minimal effort. Just tag files as you come across them.

The one limitation is that the files have to be open access. If you try to tag a file that ip sensitive, FeedBurner will fail to insert the enclosure tag when it queries the file for metadata.


  • JC....

    Hmmmm...This doesn't exactly work in NetNewsWire the way it is described. I followed your instructions and, indeed, NNW does subscribe to your Feedburner link.
    And, sure enough, the files show up.

    However, one is only "downloadable"; download to ITunes is greyed out. I wonder if this is because NNW doesn't know what to do with pdf files? or whether ITunes doesn't know what to do with them? I may write to Brent Simmons to see if I can get an answer.

    Actually, as I think about it why would I want a pdf in ITunes anyway in that I can't "hear" it?

    Just to download automatically has its uses but I can
    also do that with a click from a webpage.

    Finally, the Ed Tech Soc is the one I'm writing about; the ElectoChem Soc file is not even downloadable in NNW. Wonder what the difference is?

    This is, of course, on a Mac. YMMV.

    ken tompkins

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:12 AM  

  • A second comment.

    NetNewsWire -- leading Mac News Reader client -- actually has tagged subscriptions built in. You can read about it here:


    This is handy because it eliminates going out to Feedburner and uses a program most Mac users have.

    ken tompkins

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:56 AM  

  • Ken,
    If you are the only one who is going to look at the pdf and you are always on your personal computer then there is no point. However, if you are surfing around on a public computer you could tag pdfs for future automatic retrieval. If you wanted to alert a group of people (like research collaborators, students, etc.) to pertinent pdfs from any computer this keeps the files organized and already loaded on your computer.
    The idea is to view the files on your laptop of PC. I use my laptop to listen to podcasts usually when commuting. The second file does not work because I was testing using an ip sensitive access (need to be on a campus that subscribes to that journal to see the file). I am using Ipodder on PC so I'm not familiar with how NNW would process it on Mac.

    By Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley, at 10:09 AM  

  • Ken,
    I don't see how the reader NNW eliminates Feedburner. You still need it to add the enclosure tags to create a true podcast.

    By Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley, at 8:16 AM  

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