Current Reporting

A couple of months ago Alex Bloomberg and Adam Davidson ran a story on This American Life about the credit crisis and sub-prime mortgages called “The Giant Pool of Money”. It was probably some of the best reporting on the current state of finance that I’ve heard for a long time. It went through the background and what’s been happening in a away that’s easy to understand without being condecending. They later put out a second story called “Another Terrifying Story about the Economy” about commercial paper and credit default swaps. It was also a great piece of reporting about finance.

The beauty of these two pieces of reporting is how well they explain the topic of the story. It seems like most people don’t understand the news about the financial markets since what is reported in the newspapers is so bad. It usually reads something like:

…market shares slipped today based on concern over downside vs upside risk potential and leading market indicators in advance of the release of the Fed’s beige book tomorrow…

Which probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to most people (Fed’s beige book) since there’s no context to anything. Anyway, I was pretty excited to learn that Alex Bloomberg and Adam Davidson got their own podcast and blog over at NPR called Planet Money. They started running stories where there’s a theme for the week like “What is money?”, and, for example, what’s the difference between money and currency. Sometimes it’s nice to get some more insight into more the fundamental ideas and some context instead of just the daily reporting of the facts.

There are a couple of shows now that are following the same type of reporting. RadioLab is a great science program. It tries to report on science to the general public. If more of this type of reporting continues, it could really enagage the public. We could be entering a new golden age of journalism. Oh, and don’t forget The Economist.

[Hacking Mac]: iTunes and Podcasts

I like to use iTunes to manage my music and podcasts. The problem with this is that I have a number of mp3 files that I would like to manage as a podcast in iTunes. I like that it can keep track of what is new, what is listened to, and have it automatically updated. I also have a bunch of podcasts that I’ve been downloading using a different podcatcher (Running on a linux machine for reasons that are unimportant)

The problem is that if I import the mp3 files into iTunes, it doesn’t want to import it as a podcast. I tried to change the genre to “Podcast”, but it still seems to appear in the music folder. From searching the web, it seems that most people are trying to do the opposite – converting iTunes podcasts to regular mp3 files. Even if I move the file into the Podcasts directory in the iTunes folder, or move podcasts out of the folder, it still recognizes a file as a podcast, or not. I looked on the web, but there appears to be no documentation on any of this.

Anyway, there are some posts that mention that removing the ID3v2 tags with convert the podcast to a regular mp3 file. I looked up the tags in the files from other iTunes podcasts and there are some extra tags that iTunes uses to recognize that a file is a podcast.

There are 3 main tags that are used by and iTunes podcast:
PCST – This appears to be an empty frame
TDRL – Release date for the podcast – Seems optional. There just won’t be a date associated with it
WFED – This seems to be the RSS feed. This would be like the WOAS (Official audio source webpage) frame.

I added and recomplied the id3lib libraries with the 3 tags added, and now I can add my mp3 files to the podcast library.