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WordPress plugins for multimedia can make your blog more interesting. These four plugins make it possible to automatically generate and configure multimedia, making your site a richer experience for your visitors and for you.
Odiogo is a free service that converts your blog posts into audio podcasts. The Odiogo Listen Button plugin for WordPress makes it easy for your visitors to listen to and even save the audio version of your posts.
To activate Odiogo, you have to sign up and wait for the powers that be to approve your site and convert the posts, a process that could take 48 hours or more. Once you're approved, Odiogo sends you a feed ID and a link to your audio feed. Download the Listen Button plugin and install it, enter your five-digit feed ID in the administrative section of your WordPress installation, and a small, unobtrusive listen button appears automatically near the top of each post on your site. When clicked, an embedded audio player appears and plays an MP3 file that is a word for word version of the post.
Odiogo also provides an optional sidebar widget that visitors can click on to subscribe to your podcast feed at Odiogo's site.
Odiogo does an OK job of turning the written word into the spoken word. While it's obvious that its an automated process and not someone reading and recording the content, Odiogo adds some logical inflections that at least indicate punctuation. As novel as it seems to hear my content in this odd-sounding male voice, it's not enough to persuade me to give up reading my content.
The Talkr service is almost identical to Odiogo's: register with Talkr, tell it where to find your content, download and install the plugin. There are a few notable differences, however. When you register with Talkr, your blog is converted to audio and listed on Talkr.com almost immediately. Clicking on Talkr's listen button (which appears at the end of your posts instead of at the top) doesn't produce an embedded player, but uses your browser's default music player. Talkr uses a female voice to make audio versions of your content. And if there's a widget out there somewhere like Odiogo's that allows visitors to subscribe to your podcast, I couldn't find it.
The jury is out on which service is better, but if I had to choose only one, it would be Odiogo, because I think the audio quality is a bit better.
The podPress plugin is for WordPress bloggers who use the medium to host their own podcasts. This plugin is full of features that automate the process of tweaking your podcast settings for the iTunes store. Access the options for your podPress plugin at the main menu of your WordPress installation. podPress helps you select a display image for your show on iTunes, add and customize the author name, set a subtitle, add keywords, and select iTunes categories, right from your WordPress installation, without having to browse to the iTunes store. It also lets you know how many iTunes visitors have downloaded your podcasts. podPress comes with its own embedded player, so you can blog your podcasts and add descriptive written content at the same time.
Finally, the riffly plugin turns the multimedia tables by allowing visitors to your site to leave audio and video comments. Download and install riffly (after agreeing to riffly's terms of service, which apparently have them taking ownership of all content generated using the plugin), and options for audio or video comments appear along with the standard text editing space.
riffly works by allowing Flash to access a client-side camera or microphone, saving the output to riffly's servers. Your visitors are presented with an embedded Flash recorder. After a comment is recorded, your visitor can play it back, re-record, or save the results. A note of caution: others using the plugin in WordPress and Drupal have reported their entire sites were brought down while riffly.com was offline recently. Riffly.com is up now and the process worked smoothly for me, but if you're going to use this plugin on a permanent basis, take heed.
I installed and ran all four of these plugins at the same time on my WordPress blog with no real problems. You can even make them work together: have Talkr or Odiogo generate your podcast for you and publish it on iTunes with podPress. However you decide to use them, these four plugins are near the top of the list when it comes to fun and functional.
Every Monday we highlight a different extension, plugin, or add-on. Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us about one that you use and how it makes your work easier, along with tips for getting the most out of it. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your chosen topic recently or have one in hand.)
Tina Gasperson writes about business and technology from an open source perspective.