Podcasts I listen to

As promised, here's a quick run down of the casts currently in rotation in my podcast app. I use the Apple app so subscribe to most things via iTunes but will give web links where I can.

Regular listens

Exponent - a weekly tech discussion between Ben Thompson of Stratechery and James Allworth. Always good for digging deep into topics.

The Jay & Farhad Show - again weekly, Jay Yarow and Farhad Manjoo chew the fat over tech news, with it without guests. I like the irreverence of their approach.

The Run Loop - Collin Donnell talks to Mac and iOS developers about their history, apps and topics related to development. Good to hear from the people who make some of the apps and services I use regularly.

Core Intuition - Manton Reece (micro.blog) and Daniel Jalkut (MarsEdit) discuss indie software development for Mac & iOS and all things Apple from a developer perspective.

Revisionist History - Malcolm Gladwell discusses various topics that deserve a second look to challenge conventional wisdom. Painstakingly and impeccably researched, professionally produced and always interesting.

Scott Sigler audiobooks - Scott was the first person to podcast a full length novel, for free, in 2005 and has built a huge audience off the back of it allowing him to write full time. He's still going strong, podcasting as much of his work as he can. Mostly a blend of sci-fi and horror.

Fundamentally Broken - Seth Clifford and Tim Nahumck talk about life, productivity and methodologies in an aim to establish better balance. Wonderfully witty and crude but with genuine insight.

Occasional listens

The Talk Show - John Gruber's mostly Apple related podcast. The episodes are long and I tend to nip in and out when something specific interests me.

Presentable - Jeff Veen's podcast about design for the digital age. Again, one I dip into on occasion.

Timetable - The microcast from Manton Reece - a big inspiration for my own. It's in the occasional section only because he hasn't recorded one for a while. Understandable with everything he's juggling.

In Our Time - the Radio 4 podcast about philosophy and the history of ideas. Something for when I'm feeling intelligent.

I'm always on the lookout for more interesting casts and would love to find more microcasts.

Hit me up!

Podcasts I listen to

How I Podcast from the iPhone

My phone is my PC, that's Primary Computer.

Just about everything I do happens on the slab of glass and metal sat in my hands which is why I'm willing to invest in quality applications like Drafts and Ulysses to make my life easier.

In fact, the only times I use my laptop are for more complex WordPress customisation (with CSS and PHP) and playing World of Warcraft. This is why it was essential to come up with a podcasting process that could take place entirely on mobile.

There are simpler ways to podcast from a phone but they invariably use a specific platform; my solution needed to work with WordPress and involve the minimum number of steps.

I already gave brief details about how I was recording and posting microcast episodes but had a request to go a bit deeper since I have been rethinking how I do it and changed the process.

The all in one

As previously mentioned, I had been using Mobile Podcaster due to it being almost an all in one solution:

  • record & trim the audio
  • upload it to WordPress
  • create a blog post and embed the file

The only thing you have to do is enter the show notes in the file description before uploading - a quick copy & paste from Drafts does the trick here as the text box isn't overly user friendly.

However, as the app hasn't been updated in over a year I was worried it may stop working with iOS11 so went looking for alternatives

A popular audio recording & editing application is Hokusai which is free for what I need, although a pro upgrade is available. Any app would do for this process as long as it lets you rename and export the audio file.

Hokusai has advantages in that it allows editing in landscape to give more room (Mobile Podcaster is portrait only) and lets you pinch to zoom on the waveform for better control.

Moving away from Mobile Podacster unfortunately loses the simplicity of having everything in the same application so I needed to set about designing a way to recreate what it offers while still working with the Blubrry PowerPress plugin installed on the site.

Enter Workflow

The more I do the more powerful I find Workflow to be - it is easy to see why Apple would want to buy it.

I had avoided uploading the episodes to an external location like Dropbox or iCloud as it was an extra step I wanted to avoid. Changing the process meant having to re-evaluate this decision as there would now be two inputs (text and media) which couldn't be handled by Workflow directly on the device.

It does, however, mean that there is now an off-device backup should I ever need it.

With this change in mind a new workflow needed to achieve the following:

  • get the blog post contents from Drafts (although any text app will do as the starting point)
  • find the latest episode on iCloud and note its name
  • upload the episode to WordPress and get its path
  • create a new blog post using the text from above and include a link to the uploaded episode

Because I add tags and a post description via the WordPress post edit page the workflow needs to take directly there once finished.


Parts of the new workflow mirror the one I created for posting to the microblog but there were a couple of additional challenges to overcome.

Getting the required file from iCloud proved to be a little more complicated than expected. The files in the relevant location are polled with the "Get File" action, if there are multiple files it returns a list:

Selecting the right file from that list gave inconsistent results. Trying to get the first or last file based on sorting often returned an incorrect file so an addition "File Filter" action had to inserted to ensure the list was properly sorted:

After uploading the file, Workflow returns the address of the page that displays the item rather than that of the item itself so this path needs to be constructed.

WordPress changes the file name to a web safe name by replacing spaces, and other characters, with hyphens. For the purposes of the workflow this was replicated by using a regex replace to change the relevant strings of characters:

The naming convention I use for episodes requires replacement of a "space hyphen space" string and a "comma space" string along with all other spaces.

Sonant Thoughts - Episode 3, Ownership



The criteria specified in the "Find Text" field will vary based on how the audio files are named.

By default WordPress uploads files to a path in the format /wp-content/uploads/year/month/filename with the year and month as yyyy/MM or full 4 digit year and 2 digit month. Easily achieved in Workflow:

So the full path to the uploaded file can now be constructed and the rest of the workflow is pretty standard.

To see the full process, and modify it for you own purposes, you can grab a copy of the workflow below - just click the image and remember to replace the {your_site_here} references with your own details.


Because the post is being built manually the Powerpress plugin needs to know which audio file is being used as the episode. Assigning a custom field called "enclosure" with the episode URL as its value ensures this is achieved.

How I Podcast from the iPhone

Introducing Sonant Thoughts

Sonant [soh-nuhnt] - Adjective

  1. sounding; having sound.
  2. (Phonetics) voiced.

I have wanted to record a podcast for several years but never thought I had anything to talk about.

One of my failings when writing is the desire to be too perfect and, because of this, losing the moment and the passion for the post I am working on. I have often wondered if recording ideas as I think of them could be a way round that but podcasting always seemed a bit excessive and overly involved.

This is why Anchor initially excited me, it took a lot of the complexity out of recording and anchor waves could be embedded just about everywhere. 1

A number of casts I listen to clock in about the hour mark and, while these are conversational and I wouldn't expect to match them, I realise I have always been thinking too big.

Anchor's two minute sound bites, however, seemed to be going too far the other way and not long enough to get a proper point across.

In the spirit of the open web, just as with the microblog, I also consider it important to be self-hosted so not reliant on any third party service.

Let's talk

Inspired by the likes of Mark Clifford and Manton Reece, combined with the move to self-hosted microblogging, the idea of a "microcast" - a short podcast - began to appeal greatly.

A microcast (thanks Manton) is a short form podcast with episodes of around 5 minutes each that can still convey interesting ideas or information.

Even I can talk for 5 minutes.

So, without further ado I am launching the "Sonant Thoughts" microcast designed to complement the blog and microblog.

My key criteria in setting it up were simplicity and being able to do everything from my phone. This initially seemed like it was going to be a problem; podcasting apps didn't seem to be WordPress friendly and Workflow couldn't bridge the gap in simplicity and functionality.

Then I found Mobile Podcaster, an app which lets you record, upload directly to WordPress and create a new post all in one. It hasn't had an update for over a year, isn't optimised for larger iPhones and has an old fashioned UI but it does almost exactly what I need so I'm willing to forgive this.

Function over form.

The app is designed to work with the Blubrry PowerPress plugin for WordPress which automatically handles the back end - including the RSS feed and auto-posting to iTunes. The only manual part of the process is copying over any show notes I create - probably in Drafts.

That's the how, now the what

I want a play on the blog title and, as I wanted to voice some of my ideas, Sonant Thoughts seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

I envisage these sonant thoughts (lower case, vocalised ideas) to mainly fall into two categories:

  • riffs off of existing posts or microposts to convey a point that I didn't quite catch with the written word, and
  • ideas that are not fully baked and need to be mulled over out loud to see if they can become a post.

I expect average episode length to be around 5-7 minutes and will set myself an absolute hard limit of 10 minutes, but even that is getting too long.

So, let's get started!

An introduction, Episode 0 (zero) can be found here.

  1. Anchor's relaunch with Stations instead of Waves, however, completely changed the app's usability. 
Introducing Sonant Thoughts