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VanquishingTheDragonOfLethargyOrCreatingAPseudo-Podcast

‘’’The Menace’’’

Are you, like me, awaiting the advent of CAVI podcasts almost as much as Season 3 of Game of Thrones?

Does the effort of downloading files from the web, saving them to an SD card and physically moving that card from your PC to your music player fill you with a lethargy akin to that induced by Turkey Coma on Thanksgiving Day?

There may be hope!

A solution is at hand!

At least, it is if you own an iOS device.

‘’’The Call To Action’’’

Dread of the looming ‘’dragon Of Lecture Lethargy’’ forced me to undertake a quest to discover how this terrible beast might be slain.

Or, if not slain exactly, then lulled to sleep so that the intrepid CAVI student might progress toward course completion.

‘’’And now for something completely serious…’’’

So, what exactly is the point of the preceding silliness?

Some people find the organizational mechanics of acquiring, storing and using information to be quite a challenge. I'm one of those people. When the time comes to download the most recent lecture audio, I find myself feeling baffled. Or maybe a better word is stuck. The tedium of what will be involved in getting that MP3 file from the CAVI server onto my music player looms up in front of me as though I'd been assigned the job of restructuring the classification system at the Library of Congress. I know all of the steps, but my brain boggles at their boring intricacy.

Needless to say, the lecture rarely makes it onto my music player for active study purposes.

I finally realized that I needed a way to streamline the process of getting the files from the CAVI server into a media player, either hardware or software, that lets me access and navigate these files as comfortably as possible. Playback at variable rates of speed was an essential requirement, as was the ability to use the media player either walking around or sitting down to study. Finally, and key to making the solution as seamless as possible, transferring the files from the CAVI server to the media player would need to be straightforward, ideally being executed from the media player itself.

‘’’Sword Of The Dragon-Sleigher’’’

Not surprisingly, my ever-present iPhone seemed the obvious vehicle for making my requirements realities. And if I couldn't have a podcast exactly, there was a good chance I could have the benefits of a podcast, albeit one that I would update manually.

‘’’Wielding Weapons: Creating A Pseudo-Podcast’’’

From here on, I'm going to adopt a less flippant tone for the sake of succinct and effective communication. Never forget, however, that you, intrepid CAVI student that you are, are learning one of the secrets of dragon-sleighing. The Dragon of Lethargy, anyway.

‘’’Lulling The Dragon Of Lethargy: How It's Done’’’

This tutorial will assume that you are comfortable with iOS and with VoiceOver, and that you have at least one of the following:

  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • iPod Touch

You will also need three apps, one of which is built in to iOS, and two of which are available from the App Store on your device or from within iTunes:

  • Safari
  • UbiDisk
  • Downcast

NOTE: UbiDisk is a free app, but Downcast is not. If you don't already have it, consider spending a couple of dollars. The app is worth much more than its asking price and boasts wonderful accessibility.

‘’’Finding A Pseudo-Episode’’’

  1. Open Safari on your iOS device and go to the CAVI Student Resources Page.
    • Follow the appropriate link for the course whose content you will be downloading. For this tutorial we will be downloading a lecture from the CCNA Exploration 1 course area.
  2. Navigate through the CCNA Exploration directory until you are on the page containing links to audio files for 2013, Semester 1 lectures.
  3. When the page is finished loading, locate the top left corner of the grid that appears on your iOS device’s screen. By dragging a finger slowly downward along the left edge of the screen, you should be able to locate the file you wish to download by its entry in this first column, which is where filenames appear.
    • Use the double-tap-and-hold gesture to bring up the options for how you would like iOS to treat this link.
    • Safari displays a pop-up containing several options for working with the selected link. Select the button labeled “Copy” and double- or split-tap the screen to activate it.
    • The screen returns to a display of the file directory. The URL for the file you will download is safely in the clipboard.
  4. Start UbiDisk.
    • If it’s not already running, press the home button after you’ve copied the file’s URL to the clipboard, find UbiDisk’s icon on a page of your home screen, and launch it with the double-tap or split-tap gesture.
    • If UbiDisk is already running, press the home button twice quickly to bring up the app switcher, then select UbiDisk from the apps currently running, and return to it with either of the gestures listed above.

‘’’Capturing A Pseudo-Episode’’’

  1. When UbiDisk opens, VoiceOver announces that focus is on the first button, labeled “Downloader.” This is the area of the app where we need to work, so double- or split-tap on the screen to activate the Downloader button.
  2. In the Downloader area, VoiceOver announces that the first control it sees, located in the top left corner of the screen is the Back button.
    • Flick right once. Focus is placed in an edit field where URLs are entered.
    • Double-tap and hold on the screen to place focus in the edit field.
      • With your iOS device unmuted, you will hear a sound indicating that a pop-up menu has appeared, from which you can select the Paste option.
      • Alternatively, you can simply double- or split-tap on the edit field without holding, then select Edit from the rotor, and flick up or down through the editing options until you find the Paste option. Double- or split-tap this option to activate it.

NOTE: If the edit field is already populated with a previously used URL, use the “Select All” and “Cut” commands found in either the pop-up menu or the edit submenu of the rotor to clear it.

  1. With focus in the edit field and the on-screen keyboard displayed, the “Go” button is located in the bottom right corner of the screen. Double- or split-tap this button to activate the address bar you just populated with the URL of the file to download.
  2. UbiDisk displays a pop-up alert containing the prompt, “Select action to the link.” There are three possible actions, but only one that we need to choose today.
    • Double- or split-tap on the button labeled, “Download Linked File.” The display returns to the original screen of the Downloader area, but the download has begun.
  3. Navigate to the Downloads section of UbiDisk using the buttons along the bottom of the main screen of the Downloader area.
    • there are seven buttons in the bottom row. Locate the third button from the left, labeled “Downloads. This is different from the Downloader button we encountered when we first launched the app.
  4. In the Downloads section are listed any recent downloading jobs, completed or in progress. Skim or flick around the screen until you hear the name of the file you are downloading. Its progress is displayed and read by VoiceOver.

NOTE: UbiDisk can optionally alert you with a sound when downloads have completed successfully.

‘’’Creating A Pseudo-Podcast’’’

  1. When your download has completed, activate the second button from the left in the bottom row of the screen, labeled “Download Folder.”
  2. The Download Folder displays a list of filenames for each successful download. To the right of each filename, along the right edge of the screen is a button labeled “More Info.”
    • Locate the “More Info” button that corresponds to the file you just downloaded either by skimming down the right edge of the screen or flicking through the list until you hear the filename you want, then flicking one more time to place focus on its “More Info” button.
    • Activate this “More Info” button in the usual way.
  3. The screen displays information about the selected file, including name, kind, size, when it was last modified, and where it is located on your device.
    • NOTE: You have the option of renaming the file on this screen.
  4. Locate the button in the bottom left corner of the screen, labeled “Action.”
    • Activate this button in the usual way.
  5. UbiDisk presents you with two options for working with this file. Flick to the option labeled “Open In…” and activate it in the usual way.
  6. A list of apps that can open your file is displayed. Locate the button labeled “Open In Downcast” and activate it.
  7. Downcast opens with focus placed in the screen for importing files. Here you are able to select which podcast your file should be added to: by default, Downcast creates one for you with the very practical name, “New Podcast!”
    • Downcast needs to be sure that the file on-screen is one that you really want to import into your chosen podcast, so you need to select your file by double- or split-tapping it. VoiceOver will announce the file’s status as selected.
  8. Locate the button in the top right corner of the screen, labeled “Import,” and activate it in the usual way. Downcast processes your request and places focus in the app’s main screen, where your podcasts are listed.

‘’’The Weary Warrior’’’

Now that I’ve written this tutorial, I can easily imagine at least one person being confounded by my impression of this process as simple and less daunting than the traditional file-to-PC-To-SD-to-device method!

But for me, the fact that all of the activity takes place on one device, using apps whose interfaces are structured similarly because they are all running on the same device means that my brain doesn’t have to switch from one modus operandae to another. The continuity of the whole process, from navigating to the directory where the file is stored, through to creating an organized and manageable collection of related audio files in one place on my device mirrors the continuity of the thinking processes involved in executing this complex, (or is it simple?), task. Structure and continuity define the process and my experience of it.

‘’’Beyond Here There Be No Dragons’’’

Well, maybe that’s a bit too optimistic. But this method for getting CAVI lectures organized so I can carry them around with me and work with them however I want certainly gives me a sense of mastery over this particular dragon. Using Downcast to listen to my newly-created pseudopod-cast, I can speed up lectures or slow them down. I can listen to them while I play with my cat or fold laundry or chop onions, using the in-line controls on my earbuds all the while to stop and start playback as needed.

Heck, I could get seriously carried away and convert the curriculum text into MP3 files, and turn those into a podcast! I could create separate MP3 files for terms and their definitions, add them to a pseudo-Podcast and play them back at will, fast or slow, non-stop or one by one! Why, the myriad possibilities for a wild and crazy time are seemingly endless!

Yes. I need to get out more!

And, sure, all of this is actually doable from with the Music app native to iOS. But the playlists seem somehow less user-friendly. And you can’t add files to your music library for inclusion in a playlist without syncing with iTunes on your PC, as far as I know. And I’ve always thought that the speed controls for the music app were not the easiest to get to on the fly. In Downcast the speed can be adjusted with one button, right on the playback screen! It’s like the app was made for people who are too impatient to take an extra ten seconds to adjust playback speed! It’s great!

‘’’Intrepid CAVI Students, Unite?’’’

I hope at least one person has found my foray into wiki contributions at least entertaining, and hopefully helpful. I’ve shared a lot about my own thought processes and working style in the hope that it will resonate, even a little, with one or more people who might read this. I hope it helps!

‘’’’HAPPY DRAGON-SLEIGHING’’’’

Amanda Massaro

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Page last modified on March 16, 2013, at 03:38 AM