Adding a Time Start to WordPress Media Embeds

Ever have those times that you’d like to share a piece of media but have it start at a particular time? I did recently, and figured I’d share my solution.

It turns out, WordPress does not support this feature out of the box (though you could argue, theoretically, that it should).

Ever have those times that you’d like to share a piece of media but have it start at a particular time? I did recently, and figured I’d share my solution.

It turns out, WordPress does not support this feature out of the box (though you could argue, theoretically, that it should).

We just remembered the 50 year anniversary of the Selma march which was nicknamed Bloody Sundy as 600 civil rights marchers were attacked viciously by law enforcement in 1965. It seems appropriate to sample the MLK “I have a dream speech for this demo.

Now of course, it’s all a great speech worth listening to, but what if I want to start the audio at the place we all know?

Boom, just like that. The nuts and bolts of this are tied up in this code:

Simply, I filter the shortcode attributes for the audio and video shortcodes adding a new argument – “start”. This is in seconds.

The second adds a little snippet of Javascript after each embed that moves the internal time pointer to the appropriate spot in the supplied media.

Caveat: This will not work for media that is simply cut and paste. While WordPress will translate appropriate media URLs into embeds, it does not pass anything more than the required `src` argument.

Full source code, as a WordPress plugin, can be found on Github. (Pull requests encouraged)

The NFL, Google TV, and DirecTV’s Death Grip on the Sunday Ticket

If you’ve spent any time with me in person or paying attention to my tweetstream at all (especially on Sundays), you know about my love affair with football, the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens specifically.

I’ve gone nearly 11 years and have been at or watched every Ravens game in that time. I used to watch these games at my home in Baltimore when I was in-market, but then I moved to DC. Oddly (though I do understand the NFL marketing rules), being 45 minutes away put me “out of market” and into Redskins country. Acknowledged.

It began my weekly Sunday tradition of going to local sports bars to watch the game every Sunday. When I was in Virginia, that was the very awesome Crystal City Sports Pub (ask for John, tell him I sent you and order a cup of coffee… watch for his reaction :-p). When I moved back to Maryland, I went to one of several on Sundays.

Now that I’m in Austin, I’m fortunate to find The Tavern which serves as the Ravens Nest in Austin. 50 or so fans, most of whom have roots in Baltimore, show up every week to cheer on our “Death on Wings”.

But here’s the problem. I have Time Warner Cable. I can’t get non-nationally televised games at home. The only way I could would be to switch to DirecTV and pay several hundred dollars for the NFL Sunday Ticket. This is a problem for someone who doesn’t watch much TV anyway, and the TV shows I do watch, I catch on Hulu or TV.com. Sure, I enjoy ESPN SportsCenter when I need to have some noise on in the background so I can get work done, but otherwise, the TV is rarely on.

I’ve got Netflix DVDs and can stream many shows and movies instantly on Netflix to my XBOX 360. With my (free for me) 40″ HDTV, I can stream MLB.tv games, or if I chose, NHL GameCenter games from my laptop direct to my television. I can do the same with NBA Leaguepass (though I won’t because I hate the NBA).

The NFL really offers no option to U.S. customers except via NBC’s live streaming of Sunday Night Football. (Though they did offer Preseason streaming games online – see the picture above).

There is a lot of money tied up in contracts for the transmission and coverage of NFL games. I realize it. But there needs to be a change. Consumers would be thrilled to subscribe to an NFL.tv-style service that would allow them to access their favorite sport online. It could be setup in a variety of ways. The NFL could charge a flat fee of $160 for access to a single team feed with a higher-priced “all access pass” – perhaps $300. They could also charge for a pay-per-view format of $10/game where, if I’m compelled by the Colts-Patriots game, I could purchase a single game pass.

The money will continue to be with DirecTV and I’m not suggesting that their contract should be killed in favor of an all-streaming model. No, in fact, the real money for the NFL Sunday Ticket comes from bars that are paying a premium package to offer all the NFL-licensed content on 50+ TVs. That money will still be there. You could easily restrict distribution and force bars to buy from DirecTV. Money in the bank.

But for consumers, especially those who are fans of teams outside of their market, giving them the opportunity to invest in the NFL, expand distribution, embrace the technology available in 2010, having a streaming option would be a huge WIN.

In fact, I’m willing to bet on a net 10% increase in viewership/subscribers based on this model. At least.

Google TV was just announced the other day. We don’t know much about it yet, but we do know that networks are going to have their own portals. This seems like a great possible partnership for the NFL and Google!

The only question that remains, then, is if the NFL has enough balls to make the big move? I think they need to, lest piracy and viewership decline.

Am I crazy?

Photo by Joel Price

An Open Letter to BlogTalkRadio

Hey BlogTalkRadio

Thank you for your time in stopping by. I know you guys are going through some changes, and that mostly they are good changes. I want to thank you for hiring Kris Smith. He will be a great addition to your team. I know Kris very well. He sorta likes to name drop me. We’ve done a few podcasts together as well. Great guy.

But, BlogTalkRadio, you’ve got your problems. I’m sure you know this, but in case you didn’t, let me break them down.

Multiple Hosts

As you know, because you want to feature our show on the network, we use your service. When I say “we”, I mean “I” because your system only allows for one host. Geoff Livingston is also a host, but you don’t recognize him as a host so he has to call in on a caller line and use up our precious open phone banks. Why, BlogTalkRadio, do you not have the basic concept of multiple hosts built in? I mean, we’re not all in the same room. It’s the internetz.

Your User Interface is teh suck

When I say teh suck, I really do mean it. We’ve done six shows now and I can never find my way around. It’s particularly aggravating to try to download the MP3 so we can have our own professional look for the show on our own professional looking website. This is a core requirement of marketing. I wouldn’t dare send archive listeners to our show page at BTR because, well, because it’s teh suck.

Call Management

Why, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, do you not provide a host a way to perform basic show management functions from a regular phone? Take for instance this past week when my internet connection dropped due to ice, 3 minutes before the show went live. With my cohost in Barcelona and unable to get a reliable internet connection himself, it caused a loss of listeners, a loss of motivation and a loss of our standard 4pm time slot (we had to reschedule for 4:30 so I could drive to a Panera Bread and do the show while everyone looked oddly at me). I found out after the fact that Geoff had dialed in and could hear me cursing in the background, but I had no way of knowing he was on the line (again he was a caller, not a host) nor anyway to unmute his line if I had known he was there.

Call Screening

Although we are geared toward a DC-metro audience, it is not unusual to have callers from around the country and around the world. It’s the tubez. People have Skype and what not. I have a real problem using your switchboard and knowing who is on the line. I know that technically, it would be a challenge, but “real” radio has a way of doing “real” call screening so we know who is on the line and what the heck they want to comment on. Imagine this, a scenario from a few weeks ago: We talk politics for 10 minutes then jump into a different topic – maybe the Yahoo-Microsoft (non) merger. A caller calls in wanting to comment on politics but by this time, we have moved on from the topic. We can take the call and adjust back, possibly interrupting a flow, or ignore the caller and run the risk of pissing them off. You gotta give me a way to handle this more effectively.

Finally, BlogTalkRadio, while I appreciate your efforts, we need real tools. Seriously, it’s only a matter of time before an upstart competitor with more vision, more ability and more marketing prowess comes along and does what you are doing only better. Right now, you have no real competition in this space and so you have the luxury of dicking around doing whatever you do. But when another competitor comes along and gives you a run for your money, they are going to treat hosts as professional radio hosts (yeah, I know we aren’t but we like to pretend). The more professional tools you can give us, the more you ensure that the DoC show won’t jump over to the other guy. I’d like optional video streaming to conjunct with audio streaming. I’d like an improved switchboard with real call screening. I’d like a possible dual channel audio mixer with the possibility of multiple hosts, so maybe one host can do the production for us. Personally, I don’t want to mess with that stuff. I’m competent but I have a show to host.

Please, throw me a bone.

Love always,
Aaron

Yahoo! Live Jam Session

A couple days ago, Yahoo! released a new collaborative video service called Yahoo! Live. These kinds of things are getting fairly prolific and Yahoo has its standard disclaimer that this is experimental. And it is.

What makes this unique is that anyone with a webcam can participate in an ongoing video chat – and of course those who do not have a webcam or do not choose to use it can still listen in on other participants.

Last night, Eric Rice was hosting his own channel (we like the term channel over “chat”) doing Second Life and Google Earth stuff when something interesting happened and myself, and a bunch of other folks hijacked his channel and started jamming with guitars. I’m sure it’s not a first, but it felt like a first. Video and audio lag can kill good music.

At any rate, instead of hijacking Eric’s channel again, I’ve set up my own channel where we’ll occasionally do this kind of stuff. I’m planning on getting online tonight. HEre’s the video embed, however to get the full participation of those involved, you’ll want to visit the actual Yahoo! Live channel.

Redlasso Provides Television and Radio Search, Clipping

I’ve been playing with the video clipping service, Redlasso. I got to meet Jim McCusker, the CTO, at Podcamp Philly and have stayed in touch since. It was good to see much of the team at Blog World Expo.

The essence of Redlasso for bloggers is that it indexes and makes searchable broadcast media. By making it searchable, it’s a wonderful way to find content that has aired over broadcast media. Taking it to the next level, they make it clippable so that you can capture exactly what you want and get unique embed codes for that clip.

For content owners, their content generally becomes unmonetizable after it airs. Redlasso seeks to provide a means for content owners to monetize their content, while providing content producers/syndicators, such as bloggers, a way to utilize content that otherwise is difficult to integrate without a lot of work.

Though Redlasso is still private, it’s been really quite nice to see the product develop from a prototype to a useful tool. As recently as this morning, I spoke with Jim and he is promising new functionality being rolled in.

As an example, I searched the Redlasso site for Blog World Expo specific to Fox News (I know they did a segment a few days ago), and I clipped it for display here:

There are still some problems. For one, search results only go back two weeks. This is a bit limiting. Also, the search does not seem to pull up very relevant searches. For instance, typical phrase searches requires quotes around the phrase (e.g. “Blog World Expo” in Google will pull up results containing Blog World Expo while simply searching for Blog World Expo will pull up search results containing blog or world or expo). This functionality does not seem to exist yet in Redlasso making the location of relevant clips difficult at best. Also, there seems to be lag between voice and lips moving. That’s distracting.

The player, while a vast improvement over the Windows Media only player in the prototype still is difficult to use. For instance, the clipping mechanism is small and should be easier to use. Screenshot included.

Finally, they need to open this up and get it out of private beta. More eyes need to be on this thing and while the concept and technology is fantastic (gotta love phoenetic search!), additional eyes will give it more traction and leg room.

Follow @redlasso on Twitter for updates and… request an invite. ;)

Video Interwiew at BWE

Thanks to, Jim Kukral for doing this interview. When he told me he was getting ready to put it online, I was concerned because I didn’t actually recall doing an interview. Now that I’ve seen it, I do remember,

And for anyone not knowing the origin of this blog’s name, I tell the quick story in the video. Check it out.