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Monday, January 23, 2006

password protected podcast and vodcast

Although I previously reported on password protected podcasting, this is the first time that I find it necessary to implement it for my courses. Unfortunately I still have too much copyright sensitive material in the visuals for one of my courses so I have no choice but to control access until I rework the lectures.

I was not going to vodcast this term but student demand pushed me over the edge. (They want to play with their new toys.) Also, with iTunes 6.02, it is possible to generate fairly small m4v video files (50 meg/hour). Thus one of my major objections to vodcasting (massive files) has been overcome. I have to thank my friend Mark Ott for instructions using Camtasia and iTunes:

1) Convert the avi to quicktime (mov file) using Camtasia. Use the smallest screensize and lowest frame rate (8 FPS) to minimize the size of the mov file. Even with these precautions some of the mov files end up very bloated (400-600 Meg/hour).

2) In iTunes, highlight 'library' on the left list. File-Add file to library

3) Browse and select the film. Once that's done, highlight (click once) on 'videos' in the left list (left 1" of itunes normally).

4) On the right you should see all the videos in your library. Find the one you care about (what you just inserted). RIGHT click on it and select 'convert selection for iPod'

5) You will have do a little searching to see where it drops the m4v file, but it is there somewhere. Mine gets dumped into C:/mydocuments/mymusic/iTunes/unknownartist/unknownalbum/

If this is a normal vodcast just create links to the m4v files in Blogger then process with Feedburner to generate the podcast feed, as described in detail previously for mp3 files.

But if this is a password protected vodcast, it gets much trickier because Feedburner needs to verify the file properties. If the files are sitting in a password protected folder on the server, Feedburner will not be able to reach the files and will not include them as enclosures in the RSS feed.

I tried temporarily removing the password protection while Feedburner constructed the podcast feed but that was really awkward and dangerous. If in the future Feedburner rechecks while the password protection is on, it will remove all the enclosures without warning.

The hack I found around this is to copy the XML generated by Feedburner for the unprotected audio podcast and replace links to the mp3 files to the corresponding m4v files. Since the length of the audio and video is the same for all files, the length metadata will show up correctly in iTunes. You must also change the filetype from "audio/mpeg" to "video/x-m4v". Then just host the XML file on a server.

Drag the vodcast icon (top right) into the iTunes podcast section to see the password protection prompt when it tries to download the video files.

I still have doubts about being able to see molecules clearly enough on the video ipod but lets see how it goes. The full screen Flash screencasts and AVI files are still available just in case.


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