click-a-story two

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UPDATE: A few people said that the video crashed their browsers. I’ve taken it out of this post and put it on a separate page. I’ll have to sort it out. Any reports would be appreciated!
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Way back in the day at the TFML some YS librarians recorded stories, I put them online and since the site is (soon to be was, I understand), blog based, the stories were being podcast. Yay. As neat as it was to have a podcast, the interface for listening to stories online was not ideal. As you’ve likely experienced before, clicking on an mp3 takes you to a grey page with a simple controller. Not very pretty, and not good for usability.

I want to provide a better interface for listening to stories the second time I implement a “listen to stories online” program. Considering how easy it is to add artwork to audio by exporting AAC files from Garageband, I thought I’d start there.

blank clickastory.band

This is fine and dandy but makes iTunes the only way to see the artwork while listening to the audio. Why? I can’t find any online tools that will let me embed .m4a files in a website. Do you know of one?

Compressor is one of the most versatile file encoding tools and I guessed that if anything could convert an .m4a file into something useful (like a QuickTime file to embed!) that would be it. It did, but with only slightly satisfactory results. Something like this will appear on the NPPL’s Click-A-Story page (yes, that’s the same name, but give me a break, the libraries are across the country). If this embedded video doesn’t appear in your RSS aggregator, you’ll have to click through:

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The offending video was here. To see it, though for some reason it might crash your browser, here it is on a seperate page.
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iTunes artwork is 300×300 pixels, but Compressor keeps turning the files into 160×160 pixels for some reason. I’ve not yet been able to find the right setting that spits out proper images. Scrolling is unsatisfactory too. I thought I’d put this out regardless as a quick proof of concept, and to see if anyone has suggestions.

Recently, Joshua M. Neff posted about his library’s Johnson County Library Online Storytime. You know, the title of their project is pretty straightforward and I like it. Another part of the project that I like and that I’m planning on replicating is having CDs of the stories for distribution. That’s a good way to get content to do more work.

I’ll be sure to let you know when the project is live and what the response is like!

5 thoughts on “click-a-story two”

  1. Aaron, I’m thrilled you like our storytime project! Thanks for the linkage and the recognition!

    As an aside, this post crashed my browser (Firefox) earlier, and a coworker said when she tried to go to this post, her computer stopped cold. I suspect it’s the embedded QuickTime.

  2. Dang, that is not good. I guess I haven’t figured out that usability thing yet! I’ll have some more people test it. I’ve tried Firefox and Safari, but not IE…

    Does it happen often to you, or just the once?

    Comments from people that haven’t had an issue are welcome too!

  3. I just realized that now that I have this file in .mov format, I probably could put it in some sort of online video player, though I’d have to get a larger file for certain.

    Or maybe I should make the original thing in Final Cut and avoid the .m4a –> .mov conversion all together.

    Thinking out loud here!

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