I decided to take advantage of some Prime Day discounts and pick up the 2017 edition of the Fire 7, Amazon's budget-friendly 7-inch tablet. This is the 8GB model with the Amazon "Special Offers" deals on the lock screen. This post is not a comprehensive review, but I wanted to share my first impressions with the device after putting it through a few paces over the past couple days.


Inside the package, you'll find the tablet, a/c charger, USB-3 charging cable, and documentation. No special accessories included, which you won't really expect for such a low price.

Click Photo to Enlarge

The tablet is quite chunky; certainly not a sleek, slim device like the Nexus 7 or similarly sized devices. It has both front- and rear-facing cameras, a speaker on the bottom left-hand corner of the rear side. There is a micro-SD card slot on the right-side and a volume rocker and power/screen-on button on the top. Also on top is the headphone jack and charging port.

The cable is about 3 feet long so you may need an extension cord if you wish to use the tablet while it's charging. It does fit into the port quite securely unlike some of the other cheap Android devices that I've checked out before.

The back is plain except for the camera lens in the top left corner, the Amazon logo in the middle top, and the speaker in the bottom left corner. I highly recommend a case as the back gets scratched quite easily. [Here is the one I chose.]

Click Photo to Enlarge

A Few Specifics

The tablet is running a customized version of Android, which Amazon calls Fire OS. It does not have access to the Google Play Store so you have to use apps that are available in the Amazon Appstore. This means that none of your typical Google apps, which are often pre-installed on most other Android tablets and phones, are even available for the Fire tablets.

The Fire has an internet browser called Silk which seemed adequate, but I missed having all of my Chrome bookmarks. The Kindle, Audible, Music and Amazon apps worked quite well as you might expect.

The speaker on the back has pretty decent volume though you may still want an external speaker or earbuds. I picked up an inexpensive set of AmazonBasics branded earbuds to use with the tablet and have been quite pleased with them.

(Update: It looks like this model is no longer available. Here is a similar product.)

As I mentioned above, I opted for the model which includes ads for specific products on the lock screen. The benefit of this is that the device has a significantly lower price tag than its counterpart without the "Special Offers". I didn't find them to be too bothersome. As soon as you swipe to unlock the screen they go away and you are able to use the device without any restrictions.

This 7th Generation edition of the tablet also comes with the Alexa Voice Services installed. I found this to be a nice feature, but one I didn't use all that much. I have both the original Echo and an Echo Dot in my home and I use them all the time. I just didn't find a need for Alexa on the tablet, but perhaps with more use of the device that will change.

Final Thoughts

My favorite use case for the Fire 7 was to read Kindle books. And I did download and try out a couple of free games from the Appstore that were quite enjoyable. This device is not a powerhouse, nor is it intended to be. If you're looking for a productivity tablet then you may want to pass on the Fire 7. But if you want a media consumption device or ebook reader which can also run a few apps and games and has web access, then I don't think you can go wrong for the price.

(I also grabbed a pack of screen-protectors to prevent scratches to the screen.)

You may also want to consider this Fire 7 bundle which includes the tablet, screen protector, and case for a $15 savings.

UPDATE: audioBoom no longer offers a free plan but the rest of the information shared in this episode is still valid.

Here is my workflow for using a mobile device to create a solo podcast. This is just to show how easy it can be to get a show going. I use audioBoom for this show.

1. Write episode outline in Google Keep using Nexus 7 tablet or Android phone.
Keep is my note-taking app of choice and I use it for show ideas for all of my podcasts.

2. Record the episode using the audioBoom app on my phone.
The app allows you to trim the audio at the beginning and end of the recording but doesn't allow for other edits. You can also record your audio in another app and just upload to your audioBoom account through the app if you wish.

3. Add episode title and description and artwork and upload the file via the audioBoom app.
My artwork is saved in Google Photos, but of course, you could also pull an image from your device memory.

That's all there is to it! These 3 steps you will go through for each episode.

After you have recorded your first episode you will then need to activate the podcasting settings in your audioBoom account if you want them to host your feed. You can then submit that to iTunes or run it through Feedburner first. This is what I'd recommend doing in case you decide to take the show in a different direction you can then move from the audioBoom platform without having to change your feed in iTunes.

It's also possible to simply use them as a media host and pull the URL of your mp3 file and use it in WordPress. However, since this was an experiment on creating a show completely on a mobile device I didn't go that route.

A few final thoughts:
AudioBoom has autoposting to WordPress and Tumblr capabilities so your posts will be syndicated over there automatically.

I'm not saying this is the best way to create a solo podcast. Simply that is one way. And if you're really not sure how long you want to commit to creating a show, then it's a great way to give it a try. Especially if you don't have the time or funds to invest in purchasing and setting up a bunch of gear.

Also, note that this workflow is very limiting. You don't have the flexibility of being able to edit your audio so you have to get it right in one take. And you also can't add intro or outro music, but again, this is just to show you that it can be done. And of course, you can always decide that you want to take the show up a notch and begin to record and edit in something like Audacity and then just upload the file to audioBoom. You can host files up to 10 minutes long for free.

A few other short-form, top of mind shows that are recorded on mobile devices are John Wilkerson's show "10 the Podcast", Albert Hathazi's "From The Hip" (Although Albert also does sketches and skits as well) and Paul Colligan's "Thinking Out Loud". I'm subscribed to each of these shows and recommend you check them out if you're interested in the short, solo podcast format.

Well, that's how it's done!

Send your feedback to show@jdsutter.me.

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This episode began as a blog post so instead of a transcript, here is a link to the post which contains all the applicable info and links. Send your feedback to show@jdsutter.me or post in the comments below.

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Have you ever wanted to visit Israel? How about a fully immersive audio tour of courtesy of podcast, The Rusty Humphries Rebellion? Rusty visited many sites throughout the Jerusalem and the surrounding areas in 2015 and captured his experiences in a mini series on his podcast. As he toured the country he recorded many of his stops in binaural audio (also known as 3D audio) which gives you an amazing audio experience when listened to with headphones.

Rusty Humphries
This series is downright stunning to listen to. And even if you're not into politics, I recommend checking out this series of episodes only for the sonic experience. I'm not sure if this type of recording is a first for the medium of podcasting, but it's the first time I've ever heard anything like it and I felt it was worth sharing.

I'd love to see more content of this kind in the podcasting space. Imagine a travel podcast that takes you on a tour through the various cities they visit. Or a local-focused podcast that records a visit to an event in their town. I could even see a use for this approach with a sports show. Pretty much any genre of podcast could use 3D audio recordings of industry events in their niche.

Check out the links to the series below. Be sure to listen with headphones.

Rusty Humphries Day One in Israel - The Knesset
Direct Download Link

Rusty Humphries Day 2 in Israel - The Old City Pt 1
Direct Download Link

Rusty In Israel with Aaron Klein and Col. Mike Bumgarner
Direct Download Link

Rusty Humphries in Israel - Rusty follows in Jesus' footsteps
Direct Download Link

Tour the historic City of David with Rusty
Direct Download Link

The Pope's Palestine Problem and a East Jerusalem Settler
Direct Download Link

If you are aware of other podcasts that have released binaural recordings please share them in the comments.

Amazon just unveiled two new devices today which use the Alexa Voice Services. They are the Echo Dot and the Echo Tap and are both smaller than the original Amazon Echo and seem to be intended to be complimentary to it; a less expensive way to add "Alexa" to multiple rooms of your home. The Dot is a small hockey puck sized device and the Tap is a cylinder about the size of a 16 oz. aluminum can.

The Dot is currently only available to Amazon Prime members and you must order by speaking to your Echo device. You must have enabled "Voice Purchasing" in the Alexa app and have set your 1-click payment options before you can place your order. (Click here for instructions on how to do that.)

I ordered the Echo Dot and recorded the exchange so you can see how simple and quick it is. In under a minute, the order was placed.

Still image from the Dot promo video

For more info see the links below. 

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo Tap
Amazon Prime

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Given the fact that Google is now taking an interest in podcasting by adding them to Google Play Music does that mean that they will begin supporting podcasters in other ways also? There are a couple of Google services which could help the community even more if Google would take a little time to tweak a few things here and there.


Google's RSS feed service, FeedBurner, has long been thought to be on it's way out by many leading voices in the podcast industry. It has been the cause of some compatibility issues over the last couple of years and has been largely untouched by Google for quite a while. But for podcast creators who are creating a show strictly as a hobby and have no desire to monetize their show and are not willing to pay recurring monthly fees for web and/or media hosting, FeedBurner is still one of the only options for creating an RSS feed which has the required elements for podcasting. My hope is that this news about Google Play Music means that Google will also begin to give FeedBurner some much-needed attention. (By the way, they did update the logo to match their new look so they haven't completely abandoned it.)


Blogger has been a popular tool for many years for folks wanting to have a personal blog to share with family and friends. There has also been some use of the service for more professional blogs, but WordPress seems to be the platform of choice for those users. Although Blogger does have several features which are great for podcasting, (URL redirection for creating short slugs to redirect to posts, support for media enclosures in the post editor, etc.) there are more things that could be added to the tool to make it more accessible for podcasting.

Google Voice

I've been a user of Google Voice since it's original incarnation as Grand Central. My GV number has been my primary one for many years. But I have also been using a separate Voice number as a feedback hotline for my podcast network for several years as well. This has been a great option for us and it would be wonderful to see Google make this tool a bit more adaptable for this use case. In particular, I'd like to see the ability to customize the website call-in widgets and the ability to upload an mp3 file as my default voicemail greeting.

Without a doubt, the fact that Google has entered into the podcasting space is a good sign for podcasters. I'm hopeful that this move is the first in a series of moves that Google makes to show the podcasting community that they're interested in supporting them. There are many ways for them to improve their tools for podcasters and let's hope that the team working on this project is willing to engage with the community to see how we might work together.

What are your thoughts on these issues? Let me know in the comments below.

There has been an exciting development since my post from a couple months ago entitled, Hey Google! Where's The Love For Podcasting? Yesterday, October 27, 2015, Google announced via their Official Android blog that they’ve launched a Podcast Portal for show producers to submit their content for inclusion in the soon-to-be rolled out podcast directory in Google Play Music (GPM). This is very exciting news for podcast creators as this will open up this medium to a potentially massive audience. In my opinion, this is a long overdue move by Google, but I’m very glad to see that they’re making a move into the space and I’m very optimistic about the possibilities.

The submission process is very quick and easy. You simply navigate to the Podcast Portal, paste in your RSS feed URL. Google then looks at the email address in your feed and will send you an ownership verification code to that email address. Either paste that code into the filed in the Podcast Portal or click the link in the email. Next, the RSS feed info will populate into the system and you just click the button to submit your show. You’ll then receive an email letting you know that you’re show has been reviewed.

GPM approval email

Here’s a recap of the 3 step submission process:

  1. Provide your RSS feed
  2. Verify ownership
  3. Submit your show

All three of the shows I’ve submitted thus far have been reviewed and approved within just a few minutes. If your show is rejected for some reason I assume that you will receive notification of that as well. Just remember that the actual user interface has not yet launched. At this point, the Google Play Music team is just trying to build up the catalog of shows so the content is readily available at the time of public launch.

Screenshot of a show listing in the GPM Podcast Portal

For more information and details about this development I’d recommend listening to a special episode of Libsyn’s The Feed podcast in which Rob Walch interviews Googler, Elias Roman. The interview is contained in the first 15 minutes of the episode, but if you use Libsyn as your media host then it’s worth listening to the full episode to learn how Libsyn will be interfacing with GPM.

Again, I’m very excited about this move by Google. It seems that they are finally taking podcasting seriously. Now if they’d just get Feedburner up to date…


Google's Announcement
GPM Podcast Portal
The Feed Interview

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of many Google products and services and I am also an Android user and a Chromebook owner. I love Gmail, Google Apps, Chrome, etc. But I have a gripe with the folks in Mountain View. Hey Google! Where's the love for podcasting?

Image Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/users/DWilliams-720409/

In recent years Google has seemed to be severing any connection to podcasting and RSS feeds in general. The most notable instances of this departure are the killing of Google Listen (Google’s official Android app for podcasts), the shutting down of Google Reader, and the virtual abandonment of the Feedburner tool. Google purchased Feedburner in June of 2007 and for years Feedburner was an extremely valuable tool to the podcasting community. But Google has done nothing to keep Feedburner up-to-date with the latest specs nor has it updated the interface or features giving many folks in the podcast industry the impression that it will be the next service on the chopping block.

When working with podcasting clients one of the most frequent issues that comes up is regarding the use of music in a podcast. There are several different questions, but they all revolve around the same issue. Where can I find music that I can use? Can I use [insert popular song title here] in my podcast? Is it illegal to use certain music? How do I obtain a license to use this song? Are there potential copyright infringement issues when using music in our podcasts?

Image Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/MrSickboy50

Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Before we tackle these questions, let me clarify a couple of points with the disclaimer that I am not a lawyer and this should not be construed as legal advice. Every piece of music that is composed is copyrighted by the person who created it regardless of whether or not it is included on a CD and distributed under contract with a major record label. So anytime you use any bit of music, you are using copyrighted music. It doesn't matter how long the piece of music is (the 30 second rule is balderdash); if you play it, you're infringing on their copyright. The issue is whether or not you have the permission, rights or license to use that music. In the case of a popular song that you might hear on the radio, it gets even more complicated since there are many different parties who have rights to that piece of music including, but not limited to, the record company and the songwriter. Crediting the artist is not sufficient to protect yourself from a potential lawsuit.

The Four Options

There are 4 different approaches to using music as a theme or an intro/outro for your podcast. These also apply to using background/transition music in your show. The 4 options are songs from a popular recording artist, royalty free music, working with independent artists, and finally, custom composed music. Let's take a couple of minutes and break down each of these options and evaluate the pros and cons.

1. Music by Popular Recording Artists

This option is nice because there are many songs whose lyrics or music are familiar to many people and you might feel that the message of that song fits perfectly with the goals or topic of your podcast. But the cons are that it is very difficult to obtain a license to use a popular song in your podcast and it can also be very expensive. The record companies are still not sure how to handle this type of license and therefore it is often a very cumbersome process. If you're willing to sort out all the legalities to obtain all the necessary permissions then feel free to go for it. You may also choose to just accept the risk of a potential lawsuit for copyright infringement and use the song without permission. The choice is entirely up to you, but I'd strongly urge you not to do that.

2. Royalty Free Music

There are many different sources online for obtaining royalty free music to use in your show. Some have very affordable prices, others require a more substantial investment and still others offer great tracks completely free and only require some sort of attribution. Many audio editing software programs also contain royalty free music that you can use. With any of these choices the benefit is you get a cool intro tune for free or relatively low cost investment. The downside is that the chances are pretty good that another podcast is using the same music as you are.

3. Independent Bands & Musicians

This can be a really great option for many podcasts. There is an abundance of indie artists who would be happy to allow you to use their music in exchange for a link back to their website or a mention in your show credits. There really aren't any major drawbacks to going down this route.

4. Custom Composed Music 

This is my favorite option. All of my current podcasts have theme music that was custom written for that particular show. I work directly with a composer who writes the music based on specific instructions that I give him. You may have a friend or local musician that you can work with to create the perfect intro tune for your show. You can also use a service like giftysong.com, musicradiocreative.com, or a composer on a site like fiverr.com. The obvious benefit of this option is you have a unique sound for your show that no other show has and you can create something that fits your show's branding like a glove. The only negative is that this option can potentially be quite costly.

Ultimately, there's not really a right or wrong choice. There's not even one option that is better than the rest, generally speaking. It all comes down to personal preference and which option fits best with the goals that you have for your podcast.


Google + discussion on the topic of music in podcasts 
Attorney Gordon Firemark's book for new media creators

Music Radio Creative - Custom Podcast Music
Gifty Song - Custom Music & Lyric Podcast Themes
Incompetech - Royalty Free Music
FreePlay Music - Royalty Free Music
YouTube Audio Library - Royalty Free Music
AudioJungle - Royalty Free Music
JewelBeat - Royalty Free Music
Partners In Rhyme - Royalty Free Music
The Music Bakery - Royalty Free Music

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase the products linked here, I will earn a commission. Thanks for using my links!