FIRSTcast Episode 4 Released!

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further delay, FIRSTcast Episode 4 has been released!

We are back again in this installment of FIRSTcast with Andy Baker and Mark Koors, the owners and founders of AndyMark, Inc., to talk to us about their products and also some issues in the FIRST community!

Download Here!

iTMS (subscribe to get the latest before it syncs)

Yes definitely a good, strike that, great episode, you guys asked for team leaders and we delivered the best we could.

Well anyway, with that out of the way, sadly I’m going into retirement now, temporarily at least. I will come back, just I got some more priorities right now (aka Junior Year) that really don’t help everyone, making temporary retirement for the good of the show an option. So stay tuned and you’ll find out who my replacement(s) are, trust me when I say this I got quality replacement(s) (or at least tried).

Any who, stay tuned, and make sure you send ANY comments to [email protected] and If you have a question feel free to ask it somebody will answer it.

Like always, creative constructive criticism is welcome!

I like it very much!

The interview with AndyMark was very interesting and informative. You’ve had a lot of good guests lately.

Keep up the good work!

Yes! An XML feed! (How long has that been up?)

Can’t wait to listen.

Actually, it would be nice if the feed pointed to the actual file URL. Currently, it points to a redirect page, which my podcatcher (CastPodder) can’t handle.

This might help

usually we do try to change the servers up to keep the load on our free hosts down by having a random server app.

Heh, sorry about that. I was trying to test out to see if iTunes would work with the redirect page to track the downloads. Turns out it doesn’t, so I’ve gone back to directly linking to a regular file.

Isn’t there an iTunes download for Podcast? Thats how I listen last time.


It’s in the top post as iTMS (iTunes Music Store).

Note: As of this post, iTunes hasn’t refreshed the xml file yet, so you’ll have to subscribe to it to listen to the latest episode.

iTunes is now working for me.

Actually, I meant the plain RSS feed. (Labeled “xml” in Adam’s post.)

As a solution to allow the feed to work for podcatchers (like iTunes), but still maintain a mostly balanced server load, perhaps you could move the random server picking to the XML. Assuming you’re currently hand creating the XML, the easiest way to do this is just put a special marker into the XML in place of where you want the server address/URL, then have a PHP file which reads in the XML, does a simple string search for the marker, replace the marker with a random server from an array, then send it on to the client.

To see what I mean, go to feed.xml is the XML file I’m using as the base. (I copied the actual FIRSTCast one, then replaced “” with “&server_url;”, an entity I just made up. It could have been anything. Also, because it’s not a recognized entity, you’ll get parse errors if you try to view it in your browser. Just view the source.) feed.php is the feed.xml processor, and view_source.php dumps the source of feed.php so you can see it.

The only problem that script has is that it doesn’t check if the feed file was successfully opened, but that’s easy to add. And I guess a little more randomness would be desirable, but with a longer server list, you should be fine.

Oh, wait, is that feed just for iTunes?

A videocast would be nice, therefore you can present things visually.

Yes, it would be, and we are looking into possibly releasing some features as videos, yet there are several problems with this:

  1. Bandwidth

Our server space and bandwidth are primarily donated by OpenFIRST, as well as several other mirrors, and we average about 10-15MB an episode. With any decent video codec (i.e. h.264), we could easily get up to 200-300MB per episode, depending on length, increasing the bandwidth requirement twenty fold.

  1. Location of Hosts and Guests

Right now, we have hosts across the eastern United States. I’m in Florida, Matt’s is on Long Island, Joe is in Ohio, John is in Texas, and Karthik is in Ontario, Canada. Furthermore, our guest lineup is just as varied, causing even more problems to get everyone in one location (Note: Championships will most likely change this).

  1. Cost

The almighty buck will always create issues. After creating optimal conditions for lighting and camera equipment, and bandwidth on which to transfer the video streams, the price rises for us from almost nothing to several hundred dollars. We would have to have spare cameras to send to guests to gather footage for videos, increasing the cost even more. With podcasting, all a guest needs to be on the show is a microphone, free VoIP software, and preferably a broadband internet connection.

I was so disappointed this time around…after several weeks since the last episode, I was ready for another game hint that we could analyze… Ahh well, I was interested in the AM products. I do have a question though:

During build, will there be more regular episodes, or less because of all the stuff to do? I would expect almost none during build, then a whole bunch once ship date came around and time was available, but everyone would be fired up about upcoming regionals. My analysis.

Heres some background info that you might want to know, We recorded this episode back in November. Its been sitting around being edited since then so we can produce a cleaner sounding episode and eliminate all the burps and sneezes people make into their mics, after that you have the more difficult part of mixing all the individual voices and lining them up takes some time, in this step we eliminate all the dead air and speed it up a lot too. Then you got the problem of getting the time to do this.

FIRSTcast is going to try to get an episode during the build season as much as possible and it maybe a more condensed episode than usual since all of us are going to be somewhat to compleltely involved with team(s).

Feedback is very much appreciated

I think if you needed good available editors, you would be able to find some on CD.

I agree, hey, they found Conor and me here! The thing is that the editing job is something only one person can do, as there are tons of ways to edit audio based on personal preferences and how your brain works. I promise that the episodes will be coming out faster as I have large chunks of available free times since I’m in college.

Shouldn’t it be just the opposite, that you should have less time?

Yes, but on Monday, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays I have no classes after 10am. :slight_smile:

Great episode guys.

Kept getting distracted with the “door slams” …I think those come from AIM…