Mashups for Non-Programmers
The big topic of interest was Yahoo! Pipes, a new service from Yahoo! that allows you to manage RSS feeds and do some interesting things.
You can clone pipes and modify them, and you can merge feeds together and filter them based on content.
While it was an interesting session one of the most important things is that if you depend on a hosted service, you might have outages and that is exactly what we got to see mid-way through the Pipes demo.
In the first session they also make mention of the fact that you have to remember that not all RSS feeds are created equal and so content filtering via Yahoo! Pipes doesn’t always work.
Identity and Security
We currently have too many identities online, and that was the main point of the Identity and Security session. They talked about the number of online identities that people hold, and a quick poll showed that around fifty percent of session attendants had around 100 accounts, profiles and identities online through various services and sites. And everyone agreed that we are tired of entering the same information over and over on each and every site.
There is a growing trend though towards a single sign on service. An identity provider that has some form of relationship with other sites to process your logins easily. You can log in once, and be signed onto and accepted to many sites.
It seems like a great idea, but if it is controlled by any single corporation, it can take away control from the citizens it is supposed to provide a service for.
If Microsoft made a deal with Nike and Microsoft had colour preferences and whatnot they could give that info to Nike who could then be able to market you better. But if you didn’t want to give that information to Nike it is too late as you don’t have control over that information anymore.
The most interesting technologies to come out include OpenID and Microsoft CardSpace. The good thing is that CardSpace is going to work with OpenID. I will be interested to see how that all pans out, but with sites like Magnolia and soon Digg supporting OpenID logins, I think I’d place my support in that camp.
Getting Your Podcast Levels Right
Bruce Sharpe, co-author of The Levelator, a piece of easy to use Windows, Mac, and Linux software that magically levels out audio levels held a session to talk about podcasting and how you can easily improve how your podcast sounds.
He gives some quick tips that podcasters should follow including using a bandpass filter at 80-10kHz, removing snap, crackles and pops, a little tweaking of the EQ if needed, and some gentle noise reduction, as more is not better.
Another great tip that came out of the session is making sure you have a decent sound card because the included notebook soundcard in certain lower end machines will make even the best microphones record horrible audio.
The piece of free software mentioned most during the session was Audacity, so that seems like a must have for podcasting.