When we flipped various switches around here on Tuesday morning to officially launch the fully-migrated Spawn On Me, we were banking on a SoundCloud backdoor working that would allow that migration to go easier on me.

Lucky me! That loophole got patched at some point by SoundCloud, who increasingly want to be the full-featured home of streamed audio content, not just a place to host it and point to for free.

Based on how they've presented their brand, they want a SoundCloud Podcast to live 100% there, and not integrated into a service like Squarespace. Good for them. Protect that brand. SoundCloud still works for plenty of podcasters out there who don't use Squarespace, and that's great for them.

I'm glad I was cautious about using them when I started the network in the first place.

I'm also glad I had a couple of backup plans, the most ideal (but also most time-consuming) is the one we started putting into play immediately.

Before (or after) you ask: yes, we tried three different flavors of generating direct links to the MP3's. Yes, the direct links allow anyone to directly download the file, but it fails on download when used in a Squarespace Audio Block. Yes, I've assumed the reason for this happening, but it's consistent with SoundCloud's policies and motivation as they've presented them publicly. If SoundCloud-hosting your podcast audio were a supported feature on Squarespace, then...Squarespace would have support documentation showing you how to use it.

Yesterday, a couple of people asked me "Why not just...use another CMS?" I use Squarespace as a CMS specifically because the benefits radically outweigh a company like SoundCloud deciding they don't want files hosted with them fed through a Squarespace podcast feed. I could make a list of all those features and reasons, but we'd be here all day. Moreover, migrating the entire network would take days, and it wouldn't actually save me any time, relative to the few hours that manually doing data entry did.

To address any "oh, you're just shilling for Squarespace" concern:

Squarespace has sponsored our shows previously, but I haven't even pitched them in a long, long time...mostly because all I hear are Squarespace ads on other shows that bore me (and I'm assuming everyone else) to the point of it being the hacky-est podcasting in-joke around. I did come up with a couple of ideas last week that I sent their way, so they may be back soon.

In general, I did not found ESN dependent on Squarespace or any other single sponsor as a lifeline.

Back to the process:

I tried various tactics to get around SoundCloud being jerks, but it was all taking more time than it would to do what I've just finished:

  • Manually re-edit metadata on all 54 previous episodes (no, this is not something Automator could do for me)
    • "manual click-click-edit" input of episode number
    • "manual click-click-edit" input of each episode name
    • batch application of current-and-ESN-trade-dressed-but-being-redesigned show art
  • Manually add Squarespace Audio Blocks for each episode
    • Upload individual files to Squarespace hosting
      • did this three at a time, doing the following while the progress bar slowly filled
    • copy/paste abbreviated and full summary text
    • "TextExpand" iTunes keywords
    • enter runtime (tab-switching back and forth from a Finder window)

It's all done now, and all episodes of the finest podcast "Made in Brookago" should appear in the feed without any issues.


New Thing: Shifting Order on the Homepage

I want to do more with the homepage in general. This is a start.

Aside from supplemental/specialized combo feeds, I'm going to start re-ordering the most recently-posted show in the top left corner of "the grid" (which you can see in effect on the front page now).

This keeps things moving and fresh, where they'd otherwise be static.

We're adding a People/About page soon, since there are something like a dozen people hosting shows in total, and I prefer that to the notion of a page that only has a summary of the network's history.


Unconsoleable is a relatively new, really excellent show about video games that is hosted by Anna Tarkov and Jessica Dennis. They have a perfect iTunes star rating and got themselves into New & Noteworthy in iTunes all on their own.

As gamers, they are proud to be "filthy casuals" so long as "hardcore" or "real" gamers are defined as being almost exclusively those who play ultra-complex or "basically just shooting dudes" types of games.

Consoles scare Anna and Jessica, and that's fine by me.

Yes, English majors...the construct that is the name of the show is a flagrant crime against the English language and slap in the mouth to real word "inconsolable", but it's clever and works and shut up.


In case you're worried: you need not consider yourself a gamer at all to enjoy the show. Do you figure "gamer" doesn't describe you because you just have a few games on your phone/tablet/computer and play them occasionally?

In that case...Unconsoleable is especially tailor-made for you in particular.

Most of the games I've played for a while now have been on my phone, whether ported versions of classics or new stuff like Monument Valley or Crossy Road. By a wide margin, I relate more to Anna and Jessica than I do the personalities behind the vast majority of "gaming" podcasts out there.

Unconsoleable is my entry point for a lower-pressure, friendlier way to get into good games that don't absorb all of my nonexistent free timeIt serves that purpose for me in the same way that I wanted Giant Size to be a jumping-on point that doesn't alienate non-hardcore or new comics readers.

I realized that Unconsoleable satisfied that need for me when it came to gaming part of the way into the second episode. I was learning about games I didn't know much or anything about, and they weren't talking down to me.

I decided to float the idea of joining forces at some point during that listening binge, while cleaning house the weekend before Thanksgiving. I sent a feedback email about how much I enjoyed the show. It was warmly received.

I gave some more time to consider and plan my pitch. I had to have this show on ESN.

I'll put it this way: I didn't know Crossy Road existed until I heard them talking about it.

According to GameCenter, they are both still handily destroying me at it.

In general, I think the potential audience for Unconsoleable is enormous.

The adoption rate of smartphones is radically higher than consoles (both currently and historically). As a result, "filthy casuals" are the not-so-sleepy giant of gaming, and have been on the rise ever since Nintendo's portable systems suddenly started outselling TV-connected consoles.

Ask anyone "Do you have a smartphone?" and I'd be shocked and appalled if they'd never, ever played a game on it.

There's an interesting, unique story to tell here in various respects beyond "casual gaming"-focused show that's well-produced.

This one checks all the boxes I need in that respect, while at once featuring co-hosts who haven't expressed any interest in being on the development or "pro reviewer" side of things. Neither of them is out in L.A. trying to pitch a YouTube show. There's nothing wrong with dev or reviewer perspectives, it's just that the direct audience/player perspective is a story that I don't hear told anywhere else.


It'll take some days to make sure we have everything merged and joined and forwarded properly (including finalizing very-slightly-modified art), but if you already love Unconsoleable, the good news is that nothing you like is changing. Stay subscribed to the feed you're subscribed to already. You're all set.

We plan to add some lightweight, unobtrusive sponsorship very soon, along with a reasonable amount of network cross-promotion and cross-pollination (because...why else would you join a network, right?).

We're actually starting with a single sponsor on episode 14 next week (SketchParty TV for iOS). Episode 14 is kind of a big deal beyond it being Unconsoleable's first official-official, on-network show.

Oh yeah...

Anna and Jessica's guest on episode 14 is none other than Matt Hall, the developer of Crossy Road!

Please welcome me in welcoming Anna and Jessica to ESN!


Systematic and Overtired

By a comfortable margin, Brett Terpstra is the closest friend I made as a result of being on 5by5.

Months before I left and started ESN, I confided that I was planning my own podcast "thing" toward the end of a long conversation about working together on something. I said that, not that he was looking nor was I pressuring, but if he ever wanted to join forces podcast-wise, that I'd move heaven and earth to make such a thing happen. I told him the door would always be open and space would stay permanently reserved.

When he and Christina Warren started a new show six months ago, I'm not ashamed to admit that I was insane (not literally) with jealousy that it wasn't part of ESN

This year, I'm thankful for an out-of-the-blue email, losing a lot of sleep over the last few days, and welcoming two great friends to the network.

Systematic and Overtired are joining ESN effective immediately, and to answer the questions we could anticipate:

  • both shows have brand-new feeds, so you'll need to subscribe to them
  • Systematic RSS and iTunes
  • Overtired RSS and iTunes
  • we are, however, continuing the original episode numbering to avoid confusion
  • while you are at it, make sure to rate and review both in iTunes (even if you don't listen to them in iTunes) based on your existing love for them
  • both shows will continue with new episodes as soon as Brett and Christina are able to record (Brett has been very ill), but there are "#0" teases live in each feed for you
  • both shows are still the shows everyone knows and loves, and they will remain friendly to new and long-time listeners

The only reason I'm putting words in Brett's mouth is that he's been in the lead-up to surgery to have his gall bladder removed (this is no big reveal, he's been talking about it), and when I ran a version of all this by him Sunday afternoon, he told me "yeah, fine, whatever, that sounds good. Do that. I could fall asleep right now. I think I will."

If you've been a dedicated listener to Overtired...c'mon, how perfect is that?

You get a taste of what I love about both shows in the "#0" episodes you'll find in the feeds. Here's what I like about both shows, in case they're new to you:

Systematic has gone beyond the boundaries of what's typically considered a "tech podcast" by focusing on the way that people who make stuff (regardless of what specific "stuff") have the common thread of all work being fundamentally creative. Get Brett and anyone who makes something talking together for an hour, and he can organically get anyone in any field saying things you've never heard them talk about before.

Overtired has similarly jumped outside the box of "two tech industry people talk about tech", owing to Christina and Brett knowing each other for nearly ten years. That level of trust means that you never know how fun and goofy or deep and serious the show might be week to week, but you can rely on it being engaging, and above all, relatable. Yes, they talk about apps and gadgets and everything like that, but that's all on top of candid, compelling conversation.

Join me in welcoming Christina and Brett, and hope that we all actually get some sleep soon!


No, Really. New Art for "Thank You For Calling!"

Hello, indeed, Thank You For Calling!, and don't you look swell with your fancy new art?

Newsletter subscribers will get a bit more meat on this story as an advance tease. A pseudo-process post (my chunk of the process, not Jory's radically larger portion of the work) will be told in fuller form on this blog soon.

I took some macro photos of an old issue of LOOK magazine from the 1940s. It has Charlie Chaplin on the cover. Some of the advertisements are especially, bizarrely (to modern eyes) misogynist.

The trio of headliner shows finally has real art. Good timing, since one new show already has a first episode in the can, with another brand-new show coming in behind it.

Wednesday morning, 22 October 2014 (and not before then)...unsubscribe and delete everything from your pod catcher of choice, and the entire back catalogue will have the new art and some tidied up and re-standardized show notes.

Rumblings and Musings (End of August 2014)

Are you already subscribed to Friday Morning, our newsletter? It gets updated more often than this does.

I have some ambitious things planned for Electric Shadow over the next few months, and provided that schedules align, this week's show will be one of a couple that celebrates the anniversary of a much-beloved movie that flopped at the box office.

We'll be screening Howard the Duck in Austin this September, and the character's co-creator Val Mayerik will be on hand to see it all the way through for the first time and do a Q&A and signing after. Subscribers to the newsletter will be notified, and Members will get a 24-hour head start in buying tickets.

Val will have a really nice digital print available for sale after the show that he's only selling at events like this and conventions.

Fire Talk With Me has really hit a nice stride. The great guests don't hurt.

I've been working on the "big" Limited Edition series that'll follow it for a little while now, in addition to a couple of smaller ones that I hope to start chewing through in November.

If there are movies or TV shows that you would like to see highlighted in a Limited Edition series, get in touch.

Giant Size Contest (ends 25 April 2014)

On the latest episode of Giant Size, we announced our first ever giveaway!

One of this week's sponsors, IDW, has generously provided us with a hardcover edition of Haunted Horror, one of John's favorite books they publish. You'll be hearing a lot about them in the weeks and months to come.

Here's a sample of Haunted Horror:

"An evilness was his companion" indeed! Try imagining the voice of Vincent Price reading the captions to you, and thank me later.


  1. Leave a review (it's fine if you already have) on iTunes for Giant Size, the Giant Size Channel Feed, or the ESN Master Feed.
  2. Make it the sort of review people would find and upvote as "useful". That doesn't mean it needs to be long.
  3. Your review does not have to mention anything special, hashtags, or code words.
  4. Copy/paste your review into an email sent through our Contact Form.
  5. Bonus points awarded for Tweeting/Facebooking/blogging about the show and IDW. Show your work via links in the above contact form email.

John and I will select a winner and we will ship it to you at my cost. We might include some more goodies (aka comics stuff in my house I'd rather ship to a stranger than move).

Why "Giant Size #5.5"

The following only affects you if you subscribe to the feed that serves only the main Giant Size shows. If you roll with the Master Feed or Giant Size Channel Feed, ignore this completely.

I decided to add the spoiler-filled, Winter Soldier-specific post-show that John and I did after Giant Size 5 to the "Giant Size only" feed.


  1. A couple thousand people subscribe to the "GS-only" feed.
  2. That not-insignificant number probably don't also subscribe to the Master Feed, Giant Size Channel Feed or even the general Extras feed
  3. This sort of post-show is much more directly relevant than any other pre- or post-shows for GS.
  4. This is a means of giving GS-only subscribers a taste of what they're missing without flooding the feed with Artist Editions and Extras.
  5. This week's brand-new episode, Giant Size 6: Not Just a Boy Scout, is all about Captain America.
  6. Episode 6 features yet another interesting and speculative and spoilery Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and Agents of SHIELD) post-show, which I plan to post in the "GS-only" feed on Tuesday as "#6.5".

I obsess over convenience and curation decisions like this because I want to not overload, but at once not under-serve.



ESN: Q2 and Phase 2

The past two months have gone by like a blur. Thanks to everyone who has supported all of the shows by listening, reviewing, and tweeting, as well as visiting our sponsors. There's a lot of cool stuff coming throughout the rest of the year. Speaking of sponsors...


This is coming later today (waiting on a couple approvals).

This is not being added because it's been promised to sponsors by default (it isn't). I wanted the most current offer codes and referral links be easy to find, and all in one place. 

  • Regular, recurring sponsors change their active codes. Some do every two weeks.
  • Having one link (to rule them all) is better for me and for all of you.
  • If you listen, but are behind and want to support the shows, you can find founding/legacy sponsors, ones on current calendar quarter shows, and so on.


I want to offer these. I do not plan to make memberships include physical merch. It's more than I know I can keep up with. The limited-run t-shirt thing is of definite interest.

I think I'll end up using Memberful, but to do it right, I need to know what renewal plans and amounts people want. If this is the sort of thing you're into, drop me a line.


I had planned some downtime after the first wave of four shows.

I had planned a week off during SXSW. Then I got sick. Then I stayed sick. Then we found out our lease wasn't being renewed and we had to find somewhere to go in less than 60 days.

The good news is that I planned the break so that the "back catalogue" would be manageable for new listeners and so that people could catch up, and the extended break showed that indeed, they did.

The further good news is that we think we found the house and will close on it quickly. The not-really-bad news there is that this subdivision themed its street names to Braveheart, unlike a different subdivision we looked at that actually had a street called Helms Deep Drive. Seriously.

Further bad news: the move may cause a week of no shows at the end of this month or beginning of the next. You'll be notified in advance, and given some content I canned at the source to ensure freshness. It might include recently-recorded interviews/Q&A's with Peter Weller and Bill Sienkiewicz, among other things.

Resulting good news: more breathing room for new listeners to jump in before the numbers get too imposing. Here's a quick look at the most recent episodes of our three headline shows:

Electric Shadow 5: Blasphemy and Sex

A focus on the history of SXSW and the Austin Film Society. Built around an interview with Louis Black (co-founder of both organizations), Moisés talks with or we hear from all of the following:

Giant Size 5: Internet Comics Database

Complete with TWO post-shows, John and I recap comics-related happenings from SXSW 2014 and since, from Greg Pak, Jonathan Coulton, and Code Monkey to ComiXology Submit, The Bunker, and Doc Unknown to the digital/app/API revolution we welcome with open arms.

Thank You For Calling! 5: Backblaze Case Study

A MacWorld Expo Special wherein I talk to a good chunk of the company's booth-bound staff. We delve into the origins of an online backup service's customer service & support infrastructure, from passing around a GMail account to helping people feel less powerless and/or vulnerable.


I assumed Electric Shadow would be the anchor show. That's why I named the network after it and "cast" the panel the way I did from the start. Thank You For Calling! I had expected to overtake Giant Size, and boy has it, nipping at ES's heels. I knew Giant Size would be the "niche" show from the start, but I'm surprised at how quickly it has outgrown the average downloads of its former incarnation.


I need to drive more iTunes ratings and reviews. If you're reading this and haven't done one yet (and are not my mother), that would be greatly appreciated.

I also need to find time to properly "market" the shows a bit more, spread them around to blogs and sites and podcasts that would consider their content newsworthy or post-worthy. The recent ComiXology acquisition and my serendipitous TYFC and GS interviews brought this to mind.

I'm delinquent on finding recording time with a few podcasters who've asked me on, but that will be remedied and quick!


I also want to get the runtimes of Electric Shadow and Giant Size a bit tighter. I don't think they run "too long", but I want the longest of either that you now see in the feed to be the exception and not the rule when it comes to length.

I frequently see successful podcasters dismiss the notion of keeping shows to around (or under) an hour in length.

"Make it as long as you want. If you're good, the audience will come," they say.

To be competitive, I have to respond to my own instincts as someone who listens to a very large number of shows, and almost all at 3x speed. Even though that radically increases how many I can listen to, I still have to periodically cull, and the first to go are the three-and-a-half-hour interview show grab bags.

I also think that if you're fine plateauing, then catering only to the people you already have is fine. Making the theoretical tent bigger without resorting to pandering is a good thing, if you ask me.

One of the reasons I made the hard-and-fast "it'll never be over one hour" promise regarding Thank You For Calling! was to make it an easier addition to one's feeds, beyond the unique show topic and format(s). I'm convinced that it was really, really successful as a result. This is also why I radically shaved down the length of excerpted interviews on ES & GS, and created the supplementary feeds so that listeners could get as crazy or not-so-crazy as they wanted.

"Keep them hungry for more" is what I want to stick to more than "I have an enormous built-in audience, pretend like you're me and see how far that takes you".


I'm not starting any new shows on ESN any time soon. I have formats and concepts laid out for a few I would like to be able to add at some point, but they're entirely dependent on having the time to produce and cover their costs. Only two are of "headline" show length, three run under 15 minutes, one would not involve me as a host or co-host, and yet another could phase me out over time.

I'm always interested to hear what you would like to hear or hear more of, so keep the requests and feedback coming.

I've been asked multiple times, so I'm answering that and a few other FAQ's in one go.

I am not looking to acquire any shows for ESN, nor am I interested in having ESN acquired.

I am selling all of ESN's ads myself, in addition to handling ad sales for a limited, manageable number of clients.


I've been itching to start doing/sponsoring/curating screenings in Austin, and not just movies. I'm setting up a mailing list very soon.

I might do a live Electric Shadow (and/or Thank You For Calling!) during WWDC week in San Francisco this year.


Today, I "reprinted" episode 33 from the first iteration of Giant Size as a "Giant Size ORIGINS" episode in the new feed. I mentioned that I would be doing this back in the "#0" episodes, but here's why and how it's happening.

The reason this specific episode got "reprinted" now is that I brought it up in episode 115 of The Critical Path.

I want everything all under one roof, over time. It ensures no broken links or confusion as to where you can find content referenced in newer episodes down the road.


Since Giant Size and Electric Shadow took on new numbering, old episodes will be plugged into the new feeds with a leading "(Classic) 0." in front of their original episode number, and retain their original posting date and time.

This preserves chronological sorting, offsets episodes as "classic" vintage, and allows longtime listeners to ignore or re-listen at their leisure. I'm updating the edits of all episodes to reflect correct station identification as well as updated pre-/post-shows.

I didn't forget the old After Dark post shows. They'll become Extras.

Re-organizing Navigation

I've shifted the Electric Shadow and Giant Size channel feeds off of the main page (as well as the Extras pseudo-feed).

I also massively decreased the "chin" and bloat on the show/episode pages. I played with shifting the art and description into a sidebar, but it didn't look or scan well, on desktop or mobile.

I've effectively "hidden" the channel feeds in a way that those who want that experience can find them, but that they don't clutter things unnecessarily. Statistically, a significant enough number of feed subscriptions have been made to both "channels" (over 20% of subscribers to either main show feed).

I was thinking about knocking Screen Time and Artist Edition off the front page too, but it looks a bit lopsided with four bricks. Then again, I really like shaving down for simplicity's sake.


Up and Running

We're not only live, but we've added some new features, and re-worked others in just the last three days. That list includes this Blog and the Contact form link. I didn't want to post something until all the signature shows had posted and I had some housekeeping things added/fixed/done.

A minor refresh has been done to each show's landing page to include show art, description, and available feed links


All individual show feeds are in iTunes now. The three "aggregate" feeds are not (yet).

If you were subscribed to the Master Feed: unsubscribe, re-subscribe, and re-download the episodes to have the titles reflect the individual show you've selected.

The Master Feed and respective Electric Shadow and Giant Size "Channel Feed" pages were added because it just sort of made sense to do so, based on post-launch requests I've been getting. All three feeds have been submitted to Apple, and are awaiting approval (which should be relatively quick).

I hope people like the Electric Shadow and Giant Size Channel Feeds. If you aren't quite ready to commit on the Master Feed, you can carve out a custom slice of the pie that includes the extra crust you want.

Now I want pie.

Show Art, Logo, and Overall Design

None of these are permanent, nor am I 100% happy with any of them. I've gotten a big pile of compliments. I made all of the art you see on this site in Pixelmator (for better or worse). I have a pro designer working on revising every inch of it all.


You can always ping me on Twitter, or feel free to use the Contact page form. When I say I'm open to feedback, I'm open to it on anything: individual shows, functionality of the site and feeds, you name it.

We've gotten off to a bang, and the "#2" episodes posting at the week's end should give us a nice little further bump into the weekend.