There's always something new in the world of Podcasting and PowerPoint. Today, I review a product called Sparks! by Blogmatrix.
On the positive side: It was easy to download and install. And it started out being easy to use: I simply clicked the big red "Record Podcast" button and I was off and chatting. I liked the easy-to-use mixing features, and within minutes, I had mixed three tracks and had a decent-sounding mp3 file.
On the minus side: I hit the "Publish" button, and everything fell apart. My three minute podcast bloated up to a five minute podcast...three minutes of me chatting, and two minutes of silence. I got an email from Blogmatrix minutes later, asking me to confirm registration (a little late, but oh well!).
On the HUGE plus side: The integrated features would make this a truly rockin' product....an all-in-one tool that not only records and mixes the podcast, but uploads it to a server, too! And not just any server...one that would save me bandwith and server space. Even if I only did one podcast per week, the size and the bandwidth a podcast can chew up is considerable. An integrated system that records, mixes, collects, uploads, adds technorati tags and IP3 files....and makes collecting and recording really easy....AND preserves precious bandwidth and server space....that can be a wicked powerful tool.
On the HUGE minus side: So I hit the "upload file" button...and my 4.5 minute file goes up to an eight minute file. You guessed it: 4.5 minutes of my podcast, plus 4 minutes of silence. I have no idea why, and the help file isn't shedding any light on the issue. You can listen to it, and judge the sound quality for yourself -- but after 4.5 minutes, don't expect anything else but the sound of silence.
That's a little bug that needs a fix...but for now, there's a 4 week free trial of the service....and the clock doesn't start tickin' until May 1. This means that if you download it today, you've got about 6 weeks to help them fix some bugs and make it a better product.
And while hosting your files on someone else's server can save you server space and bandwidth, there's also a downside to that too -- what if they don't stay in business? Then all you files are....lost? So you've got to keep that in mind, too.
But overall, this product has enormous potential. Easy to use, integrated features...give it a try. It'll only up your narration learning curve.
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