Herding Code 191: Derick Bailey on SignalLeaf and Getting Started Podcasting

The guys (joined by guest host Rob Conery) talk to Derick Bailey about his new podcast audio hosting venture, SignalLeaf.

Download / Listen: Herding Code 191: Derick Bailey on SignalLeaf and Getting Started Podcasting

Show Notes:

  • What is SignalLeaf?
    • (00:18) Kevin introduces the show and warns listeners that Rob Conery is present.
    • (01:00) Kevin asks Derick what SignalLeaf is. Derick explains that SignalLeaf is a podcast audio hosting service. He explains how his service compares to big players like Libsyn.
    • (02:05) There’s a discussion of Libsyn. Jon confesses that Herding Code still runs off WordPress on an "unlimited hosting" account.
  • Bandwidth costs
    • (02:52) Jon asks Derick if the main cost is bandwidth. Derick explains that SignalLeaf runs on Heroku, but all the storage goes directly to Amazon S3 storage. He agrees that bandwidth is the main cost, and is planning to just make sure the overall subscribers balance out some of the more expensive bandwidth costs.
    • (04:52) Jon asks Derick what else he provides outside of audio hosting. Derick says he provides audio hosting, an RSS feed and stats, but he limits it at that. He also provides a blog with a lot of good information. The goal isn’t a big all-in-one service, just keeping it simple for people who want to get started.
    • (06:31) Rob gives the example of the rapid takeoff of This Developer’s Life and asks how Derick’s planning to handle pricing for unpredictable bandwidth. Derick says the model’s focused on unlimited uploads, but limited in how many releases a podcaster makes in a month. He’s relying on the law of average to pay for the popular podcasts.
    • (09:18) Rob talks about the huge streaming bills he was getting from Amazon for TekPub, which he almost eliminated by switching to Vimeo. He asks Derick if he’s looked into services like that. Derick says the backend is abstracted so he can move to other services if needed.
  • What does SignalLeaf run on? (Part 1)
    • (11:10) Jon asks about what SignalLeaf runs on. Derick mentions MongoDb (running on MongoLab), Keen.io  for analytics and CloudAMQP.com for RabbitMQ.
  • What services does SignalLeaf provide?
    • (13:25) Kevin asks more about the services SignalLeaf offers. Derick mentions storage, bandwidth, storage and analytics. Something he offers beyond what many other similar services provide is – if you use his RSS feed and embedable audio player – he can tell you where your listeners are coming from.
    • (14:50) Derick mentions his blog post showing that about 50% of listeners don’t listen via RSS. Jon said he’s seen the same thing with the Herding Code site.
  • Stats and advertising services
    • (17:25) Jon says advertisers are always asking for stats, and the kind of stats that advertisers want are hard to find. Derick mentions a service (blubrry) that inserts audio ads, but doesn’t think that sounds like a good idea. He mentions a business podcast running on a free service which had some off-color ads included as an example.
  • Getting started in podcasting: What equipment and software do you need?
    • (20:40) Rob asks how a developer should get started with creating a podcast. Derick says just hit record and get started. Don’t buy equipment, just record something and upload it and get started. He talks about professional podcasters who put artificial barriers up by focusing on radio quality recording; he disagrees.
    • (23:56) Jon mentions Derick’s recent post on getting started. He agrees with Derick and says don’t start by buying equipment, get started and buy equipment as you need it.
    • (26:11) Jon says he doesn’t use his high end condenser microphone because it picks up lots of noise and sounds strange compared to guests and other hosts. Rob asks Derick what people getting started should buy to start with. Derick recommends starting with a $26 Logitech headset, then looking at a $50 Audio Technica ATR 2100, a $90 Blue Yeti, $220 Rode podcaster mic etc.
    • (30:15) Rob asks about recording software. Derick mentions Garageband, Skype Call Recorder and Audacity. Jon uses a free Skype call recorder from scribie.com, Audacity and Reaper.fm. Jon and Derick both love the noise removal feature in Audacity.
    • (33:26) Jon says another thing to figure out at the beginning is how much you want to edit. Jon tries to focus on removing ums and repeated words and things, but leave it sounding natural. Both Jon and Derick say that Rob’s the easiest guest to edit.
    • (35:40) Jon asks K. Scott what he uses for recording. He uses Audacity and Camtasia. Jon tells a story about how how he spliced in audio from a previous call when one of the hosts couldn’t make a show. It didn’t make sense, but no one seemed to notice.
    • (36:50) K. Scott asks what kind of formats don’t work on a podcast. Derick says that visual features and visual cues obviously don’t translate.
  • What does SignalLeaf run on? (Part 2)
    • (38:21) Rob asks everyone to guess about the technology Derick’s running on. Turns out it’s all Node.js. Derick talks about how he got started with Node.js. Jon asks about what other libraries he’s using. Derick mentions Express, S3 restful API’s for upload and host, raygun.io for exceptions, keen.io for analytics, stripe.com for billing, MongoDb for data, Mandrill App for SMTP. Derick talks about how little it takes to build up a service now – he’s able to stitch a lot of services together to build what he needs. (45:30) K. Scott asks what text editor he uses. Derick’s a big VIM fan, having started with a Visual Studio VIM extension a while ago.
    • (47:20) Kevin asks about JavaScript libraries and testing. Derick talks up Backbone, Q and RSVP for promises, Underscore for utilities, and moment.js for date / time math.
    • (50:07) K. Scott asks whether Derick uses Grunt or Gulp. Derick says he’s thought about looking at Gulp, but Grunt works for him, although he doesn’t like .
  • Discussion about managing small, application specific Node modules
    • (50:55) Derick says he doesn’t like the way NPM wants you to have a separate git repository for each module – he wants to have all of his modules in one repo. He works around that by using different repositories for development and deployment. Kevin says that his company uses softlinks to work around that, but Derick’s not happy with that. Rob thinks you can do file references, but Derick and Kevin disagrees. Jon asks if submodules would work. Rob and Derick discuss cases where it does and doesn’t make sense to use different repos for different small modules which are specific to a project. Rob talks about using grunt to run an npm install command, or npm init or start scripts (set in package.json), or npm init.
  • Fin
    • (1:01:55) Kevin asks Derick if there’s anything else he wants to mention. Derick starts to mention WatchMeCode.com but the calls keep dropping and the show spontaneously combusts.

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