Ruby conferences are awesome. There are so many people sharing so much knowledge, and you’ll take something away from almost every talk. And even if you can’t be there, new conferences mean lots of new talk videos.

But there’s a problem. Videos take time. Even at 1.5x, they’ll still last 20 or 30 minutes each. And that’s focused time that’s hard to find as often as I’d like.

Podcasts, though, have already found a place in my life. I start almost every commute by firing up Overcast and listening to a few episodes. And besides the commute, you can listen to them while you walk the dog, or do the dishes. You can hear them as you go off to sleep.

So, after conference videos are posted, I’d love to take some of the non-code-heavy talks and put them where I’ll naturally hear them: inside my podcast player. And it turns out there’s a pretty easy way to do just that.

Creating a personal podcast with Huffduffer

Huffduffer is a website that turns audio files you find anywhere on the web into your own personal podcast station. This is really cool! But there’s a problem when you try it with conference talks:

Most conference videos are conference videos.

So, before you can add a talk to Huffduffer, you have to grab just the audio out of it. And to do that, you have to find a way to download the video.

Fetching a video with youtube-dl

When you see a video on a site like Youtube, Vimeo, or Confreaks, and you’d rather have it on your machine, you can use a little tool called youtube-dl. On a Mac, it’s easy to install using Homebrew:

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brew install youtube-dl

(You can install it on other systems using the instructions on the site).

Once it’s installed, if you wanted to download Kylie Stradley’s great RailsConf 2015 talk so you could watch it offline, run:

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youtube-dl http://confreaks.tv/videos/railsconf2015-amelia-bedelia-learns-to-code

This is close to what we want. But to put it in a podcast, you only need the audio. youtube-dl supports that with the -x flag, but you have to install ffmpeg first:

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$ brew install ffmpeg
$ youtube-dl -x http://confreaks.tv/videos/railsconf2015-amelia-bedelia-learns-to-code

[generic] railsconf2015-amelia-bedelia-learns-to-code: Requesting header
WARNING: Falling back on generic information extractor.
[generic] railsconf2015-amelia-bedelia-learns-to-code: Downloading webpage
[generic] railsconf2015-amelia-bedelia-learns-to-code: Extracting information
[download] Downloading playlist: Confreaks TV | Amelia Bedelia Learns to Code - RailsConf 2015
[generic] playlist Confreaks TV | Amelia Bedelia Learns to Code - RailsConf 2015: Collected 1 video ids (downloading 1 of them)
[download] Downloading video 1 of 1
[youtube] bSbla50tqZE: Downloading webpage
[youtube] bSbla50tqZE: Extracting video information
[download] Destination: RailsConf 2015 - Amelia Bedelia Learns to Code-bSbla50tqZE.m4a
[download] 100% of 31.88MiB in 00:05
[ffmpeg] Correcting container in "RailsConf 2015 - Amelia Bedelia Learns to Code-bSbla50tqZE.m4a"
[youtube] Post-process file RailsConf 2015 - Amelia Bedelia Learns to Code-bSbla50tqZE.m4a exists, skipping

Then, in Huffduffer, click the “Huffduff it” link in the header, and you’ll run into the last hoop you have to jump through.

Uploading the audio with Dropbox

You can’t upload your new audio file to Huffduffer, because Huffduffer wants a link to the file, not the file itself.

If you’re a Dropbox user, you can easily get the file onto the internet if you drop it into Dropbox’s Public/ folder. Then, you can right click and “Copy Public Link” to get the link you’ll use on Huffduffer.

Finally, use the “RSS” link on Huffduffer to get your podcast into your favorite podcast player.

Sadly, as a podcast, you miss out on the (frankly awesome) pictures in this talk. And it doesn’t work well with code- or demo-heavy talks (though you might still be able to get the gist of it).

But sometimes, it’s not a choice between listening to a talk or watching a talk. It’s between listening to a talk and not experiencing it at all. If those are your options, audio-only seems like a decent compromise.

Putting it all together

So, here’s that process again:

  1. Sign up for a free Huffduffer account.
  2. Install youtube-dl.
  3. Install ffmpeg.
  4. Download the talk’s audio with youtube-dl -x <url_to_talk_video>.
  5. Toss the audio file into ~/Dropbox/Public, or somewhere else that’s publicly accessible.
  6. Click “Huffduff it,” and paste the link to your new audio file.
  7. Listen to the new episode of your very own conference podcast!

If you’re a fan of podcasts, give this a try. It’s really nice to have conference talks pop up where you’re already listening.

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