Archive for October, 2005

Oct 25 2005

Pioneer iPod Adapter – CD-IB100

Published by under Declan,Fun,Tech

I recently added this unit to my Pioneer DEH-P7400MP head end, and it is working well as a high quality audio interface to my system.

The DEH-P7400MP is not specifically listed as compatible with the CD-IB100, and there are some limitations. Individual song navigation is almost impossible – you have to scroll down from the top of the list. If I want a specific song, I unplug it from the car, select it using the iPod’s interface, then replug it in. Play starts right back where I left it. This works well for long, recorded radio shows.

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Oct 22 2005

Radio Capture and Self Podcasting

Published by under Declan,Fun,Tech

For a long time I’ve wanted to capture radio shows on public radio and play them back on the iPod. This article describes the process of using the RadioShark to get the content (boring, I know, others have done this) but then describes how to make the content a podcast that can be added you your iTunes or other podcast aggregator.

I got a Radio Shark, hooked it up to my PC, and used its TIVO-like software to record the shows I wanted.

I’ve read that the Mac version of the software will save in a number of formats, but the Windows version only saves as WAV files. I wanted to get these into a format that works well on the iPod – either MP3 or AAC.

These are big files, some of them over 2 hours and gigabytes in length. I needed to compress them. I also wanted to use the iPod’s bookmarking feature so that I could pause a file, jump to another playlist for a while, then come back where I left off – a feature iTunes and the iPod call bookmarking. MP3s don’t do this, only AAC files work. The trick is to name the AAC filename with an extension of .m4b (rather than the default .m4a) – this makes it a bookmarkable file.

I found a WAV to AAC converter called FAAC at and loaded it up on my Linux box which serves as a local Samba fileserver and Apache web server. This is the address referenced in the scripts below. FAAC takes a little while to compile, so don’t get impatient and break out of the compile when it looks like it’s hung like I did the first couple of times.

Here’s the process to convert the files:

I unmount then remount the Windows drive from the Linux box (clunky but ensures I have a clean mount), copy the WAVs over into a /tmp directory named after the date, then delete them from the Windows box to keep it from filling up. Next I run the FAAC converter on them, dropping each completed file into a web directory so it will be accessible to iTunes later. Note again that my output file has a .m4b extension to support bookmarking.

I’m not sure if ‘basename‘ is a common command in unix. I used it to strip the filename of all extensions and make it easy to rename.

Here’s the script for all of this (

umount /var/netshare/dshare/radio
mount -t cifs // /var/netshare/dshare/radio -o credentials=/root/.cred2

DATE=`date +"%Y-%m-%d"`
echo $DATE

mkdir /tmp/$DATE-soundconv
cp /var/netshare/dshare/radio/* /tmp/$DATE-soundconv
rm -f /var/netshare/dshare/radio/*
for i in /tmp/$DATE-soundconv/*.wav
j=`basename "$i" .wav`;
echo $j;

/usr/local/bin/faac -w -q 150 -c 22000 /tmp/$DATE-soundconv/$j.wav -o /var/www/html/radiofiles/$j.m4b --artist "NPR" --title "$j" --album "$j";


I added the script to cron and run it every night at 2am. I end up with a directory full of compressed, bookmarkable radio shows! But, to get them to the iPod, I had to manually drag them into iTunes every few days and synch the device.

Automating the Process

Then iTunes 5 came out with podcast support and I wondered if I could somehow automate the process. It turns out I can! I started with Apple’s instructions for how to create an XML RSS file that specifies the details iTunes wants to define a podcast. Here’s the link for that:

From the examples at that site, I cut down fields until I got down to the bare minimum that would still function. Note that the site does not say you can use .m4b files, but I just tried it and it worked. Now I needed a method of creating an RSS file that specified my files. I whipped up a brute force script that runs right after the nightly conversions and just echoes every .m4b file in the radiofiles directory surrounded by enough XML formatting to make it a proper RSS Podcast feed.

Here’s that script (

DATE=`date -R`

echo "< ?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"UTF-8\"?>"
echo "<rss xmlns:itunes=\"\" version=\"2.0\">"
echo "<channel>"
echo "<title>Private NPR Collection</title>"
echo "<link></link>"

for i in /var/www/html/blog/radio/*.m4b

j=`basename "$i" .m4b`;

echo "<item>"
echo " <title>"$j"</title>"
echo " <enclosure url=\""$j".m4b\" type=\"audio/x-m4b\"
echo " <guid>"$j.m4b"\"</guid>"
echo " <pubdate>"$DATE"</pubdate>"
echo "</item>"


echo "</channel>"
echo "</rss>"

This will create output that looks like this:

< ?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss xmlns:itunes="" version="2.0">
<title>Private NPR Collection</title>
<enclosure url="
0.m4b" type="audio/x-m4b" />
<pubdate>Sat, 22 Oct 2005 11:54:46 -0700</pubdate>
<enclosure url="
0.m4b" type="audio/x-m4b" />
<pubdate>Sat, 22 Oct 2005 11:54:46 -0700</pubdate>

[ ... ]


Now just add this line to the end of the file: > /var/www/html/radiofiles/podcast.xml

Finally, go to iTunes, Select the Advanced Menu – Subscribe to Podcast…:

Then enter the URL for the podcast.xml file:

Now the listing shows up in your Podcasts Menu in iTunes:

I hope this all works for you too!


There are a few things I need to clean up and understand better.

First, my RSS file grows without bound as new files are added to the directory. This is a larger problem as I need some way to clean out old files that I’ve already heard. Since the RSS file only contains the files that are present, once I solve the bigger problem, this won’t be a problem for the RSS file anymore.

I don’t really understand how iTunes decides which files to download fully when it subscribes to a new Podcast. I bet it has something to do with the pubdate attribute which I am blasting with the newest date each time I run the script. I could do something smarter and pull the date from the file if it already exists. That would take being smarter though… 🙂

I always mess up the pathing when I add something to cron. Be careful to add absolute paths to the scripts you add to cron.

Please leave comments with ways I could make this better!

UPDATE v 2.0!

Logan Browne mailed me (again!) a much cleaner version of (thanks Logan!):

# credit for this script goes to Declan

DATE=`date +"%a, %e %b %Y %H:%M:%S %Z"`
TITLE="Logan's Local Feed"

echo "< ?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"UTF-8\"?>"

echo "<rss xmlns:itunes=\"\" version=\"2.0\">"

echo "<channel>"

echo "<title>"${TITLE}"</title>"

echo "<link>"$URI"</link>"

for i in ${MYDIR}*.mp3
j=`basename "$i" .mp3`;
k=`echo $j | sed -f urlencode.sed`;

# grab the creation date as a string and format it to RFC 2822
DATE=`stat -f "%Sc" -t "%a, %e %b %Y %H:%M:%S %Z" "$i"`

echo "<item>"
echo " <title>"$j"</title>"
echo " <enclosure url=\""$URI$k".mp3\" type=\""$l"\" />"
echo " <guid>\""$URI$k".mp3\"</guid>"
echo " <pubdate>"$DATE"</pubdate>"
echo "</item>"


echo "</channel>"
echo "</rss>"

Here are the contents of the urlencode.sed file to handle special characters:

s/ /%20/g
s/ /%09/g

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Oct 09 2005

Bone Fone

Published by under Declan

I used to sell these at a kiosk in the mall when I was in 8th grade or high school.

Something on Gizmodo reminded me of them.

One of the many great inventions publicized by the incredible JS&A Group, the Bone Fone put a unique spin on personal stereos–with its wrap-around design unique speaker placement, the vibrations “resonate through your bones–all the way to the sensitive bones of your inner ear” giving the listener breathtaking sound.

The Bone Fone was one of the many novelty radios reaching a niche radio buyers back in the ’70s and early ’80s. Joggers, cyclists and disco roller skaters loved the convenience of the handy little radio while exercising; techno-weenies like us appreciated the unusual approach toward high quality stereo sound. The Bone Fone wasn’t cheap–it cost over $70 US but included lycra sleeves in an array of colors and even a fabric pattern to create your own.

The Bone Fone’s interest was short-lived, as most wound up in tag sales when the Walkman boom hit in the early ’80s. Today, the personal stereo’s capabilities have reached urban legend level proportions though in all likelihood, one could probably get the same effect by breaking a set of headphones in half and taping each end to one’s chest. The radios are in high demand and probably fetch the same as what one would have paid when they were initially sold.

All of this is from

3 responses so far

Oct 07 2005


Published by under Fun

I dig live sites like this:


LiveMarks is a project to show bookmarks live.

On the left of LiveMarks you can see most recently popular bookmarks. On the right, bookmarks scroll by as people bookmark links on

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Oct 03 2005

10-02 Bike Ride

Published by under Biking,Declan,San Diego

I’d been off the bike for a week due to travel and wanted to do a long ride. The Tour de Poway was going on, but I didn’t get signed up. So I decided to explore a new route to the coast from Penasquitos.

I took Camino del Sur north until it ended, then headed west on San Dieguito until it hit El Camino Real. I went North for a short bit to Via de la Valle, then headed out to highway 101. There are some scary parts crossing I5, but I just took it slow.

The route is fairly flat and about 39 miles.

Here’s a Google Earth .kmz file detailing the route.

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Oct 02 2005

Can’t beat my flush!

Published by under Declan,Fun,Poker

Awesome hand!

One response so far