This is part 2 of a 4 part blog series where Erk explains the events at the end of January/start of February 2012 which led him to stop recording podcasts for a week. As will become clear while reading, many podcasters were affected. As a bonus & for other reasons to be explained in the blog series, each post will feature an unedited podcast episode from an affected podcaster. This Erk FM Special episode (Bravo) will feature episode 386 of the PC Podcast hosted by Pete Cogle. If you missed part 1 of this series, check out Erk FM Special episode (Alpha) including episode 210 of the Ourobouros podcast hosted by Colin.
The original outage detailed in part 1 started for me on Saturday 28 January 2012. With episode 19 of Erk FM: Metal Monday now online with a new audio host & a new subscription pending for all music shows on iTunes, Tuesday 31 January was no different to the previous days in terms of the outage or the (lack of) support from Mevio. I was determined to make the changes as quick as possible for the music episodes, concentrating on the newer content. I was concentrating on all of the Metal Monday episodes (18 to date) then the Erk FM: International & Australia episodes. It was (and is, still is, at the time of writing over a week later) a big job to manually change the show notes over from the old audio host to the new.
As of Tuesday, my old audio was still available but my ability to upload to the old host was still not possible. While I was concentrating on spreading the word in any way to my listeners & fellow podcasters to let them know that “Mevio, we have a problem”, there seemed to be very little being said by people who are in the industry & who have made a full time living out of podcasting. In terms of the #occupy________ protests, these people would be the 1% of podcasters who have the most audiences consisting of both podcasters in their audiences and listeners who are not podcast producers. They would also be the people who were least affected because they weren’t hosted by Mevio.
People in this 1% category for me would be Adam Curry, founder of Mevio. As far as he was concerned (on Twitter at least), it was situation normal for him. His shows were still continuing in the morning to all the ships at sea. However, a lot of the ships that he helped launch were circling around in the ocean with their captains powerless to do anything.
I sent a tweet to the Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft, another member of the podcasting 1%. I know that in the past, Cliff has gone into bat for the little guy. He has also had his fair share of problems with hosting companies. However, he was seemingly quiet on the subject of the M word – or what I was calling #mevioluxury.
Because of time zones and the fact that listeners are not always at their computers & on their social networks, putting out a message on Monday that I was putting my shows on hold for the week was not enough. If they didn’t see the message on Monday & I said nothing, they would be expecting their next show to be on Wednesday, Erk FM: International. So throughout the week, I was updating people via my main two social media networks, Facebook and Twitter. Apart from that, I was not on Twitter a lot the entire week because I was concentrating on getting things sorted out.
Because nothing was still official from Mevio (#mevioluxury is having information and support from the company about your hosting service), the podcaster rumour mill was increasing. By this stage, it was day 3 of an outage which was looking more & more like a deliberate action rather than someone simply making an error and flicking the wrong switch. The rumours that it was a lockout by Mevio to get rid of all their audio podcasters to concentrate on video were increasing. The mood in the air was dark and some people were wondering if Mevio were still in business. Some US producers even went to the effort of phoning Mevio HQ to get a response. However like their attempts on the interweb, using the telephone failed too. There was no response at Mevio HQ either.
On Tuesday afternoon, I did something which lead to you being able to look at the nice new pretty website. I have been using WordPress for some years now since starting podcasting in 2007. Self taught & using what I’d learnt myself from others, I had basically reached my limits of what I knew how to do in relation to websites. The website is huge & some people didn’t like it in the state it was in. For me, it was functional at most but I knew that in time, I would get sick of it and change the format and the theme again. When the outage happened, I was in the very early stages of getting some outside help from a friend in relation to the site, especially about databases for the music artists. The outage #mevioluxury saw me needing to spend many hours on the website anyway so I thought that it was time for a new theme.
The theme is the backbone to any WordPress site. You can have the same information but the theme is what makes the site look different. Done right, the theme means you can change the look of the website in minutes with a totally different look. I spent Tuesday afternoons looking at themes. I knew that there were features that I had discovered since installing the themes which I added later as plugins that were now must haves. A classic example of that is the slider at the top of each page which I use to advertise shows and new episodes.
There are a range of websites advertising WordPress themes in addition to the ones that can be found inside the WordPress installation. Some were free and some were not free. I would have a look at a theme – many developers have a test theme site so you can see what the pages would look like beyond merely looking at a screenshot. Some themes impressed, some did not. I even downloaded some themes and previewed them inside WordPress. I decided to keep looking.
Until that afternoon, I had not ever paid for a theme. After a few hours of searching, I found the current theme, Tarnished, designed by Ghostpool Designs. It promised an improved look & better navigation but when purchasing the theme, I had no idea what I was doing with the theme or what it was capable of.
Downloading the theme files, the first step to do is to install it into WordPress. Normally, the file is downloaded as a zip folder which is then uploaded into the WordPress installation. Once the theme was uploaded, I could preview it before deciding when to install it. Sometimes the transition between themes is easy and at other times, adjustments are required. First to install the theme…
Something was strange, though. Typically, some things do not go smoothly for me. I had no problems uploading and installing other themes but for some reason, this one was not working. I would upload the file and it would get to 99% and then get an error message. I repeated it a few times but the error messages would continue. I went to my Tuesday night fire brigade commitment & returned home to try again.
After searching, I found a support forum for the designer and left him a message. With nothing I could do to install the theme, I continued on with the process of updating the show notes. Either way with the new theme or the old theme, the show notes would still need to be done. I was not expecting a quick response from the developer. So I continued working on the show notes well into the night, something which has been repeated for many nights since. With well over 500 episodes to do across Channel Erk, there is still much work to be done.
Surprisingly, the developer got back to me pretty quickly – within a couple of hours and not the days that I was expecting. I could not find any reference to this in any documentation but the answer to the problem was surprisingly simple. Not knowing any different, I was trying to install the theme from the folder tarnished-theme.zip but what I needed to do was to go into that folder and then install the tarnished.zip file. Somewhat simple when you think about it but who looks in the content of a zip folder when the aim is to install the zip folder into WordPress & have WordPress install it from there. Once I did that, the theme installed itself as designed.
Installing the theme, the theme looked great straight out of the box. There was still work that had to be done in terms of transferring audio files and updating the show notes. I knew now that I could remove a lot of my former table based navigation because the new theme was a lot better for navigation. Over the next few days, I would learn that I could finally divide the site into sections. I would also learn how to insert photos and video into the slider at the top of each page and how easy that was compared to the previous site. The next days would be long days while I was updating the site. Updating the site and being able to update it easier about the site’s status was important.
In the background, files were being continually uploaded to the new audio host. By early in the week, the new subscriptions for the music shows were accepted to be listed in iTunes. So my communication messages were changing from “there’s no shows this week and no current working subscriptions from a trusted source” to “there’s no shows this week and go subscribe to the new shows.”
By the time I went to bed on Tuesday night, there were new subscriptions to all the music shows and a new look website. If only I could upload to Mevio so I can inform listeners in audio form about what is going on. #mevioluxury is being able to upload a podcast episode.
Still waiting for the rumours to become fact about the status of the old media host at the end of Tuesday (day 4 now!), tensions were rising but more about that in part 3 of this series.
About the featured podcast
Pete Cogle is the host of various music podcasts. In some ways, I like to think of him as the English version of me. In truth though, I’m more of the Australian version of him. With 4 current podcasts that he hosts himself, 2 current podcasts that he hosts with others and a net label Angel Dust Records, Pete describes his studio as a podcasting factory. He has been a music podcaster & a Mevio content producer for many years. I am featuring episode 386 of the PC Podcast where he talks about his experiences during his week of #mevioluxury.
The PC Podcast is a multi genre show while the other shows are more specific to a genre or sub-genre of music. With names such as The Dub Zone, The Dub Step Zone & The Hip Hope Zone – you should be in no doubt what you would hear on those episodes. Like Erk, Pete is a proud member of the Association Of Music Podcasting.
As I talk about in part 3 of this series, Pete produced an awesome graphic to show his frustration at the situation. The host of the featured episode of the next installment went one better and made a video. Part 3 features episode 506 of the Dark Compass podcast hosted by Rowley.