For some time now I’ve been searching for a way to host media files without clogging up my storage space here on RandomConnections. Specifically, I’ve wanted a place for audio and for Google Earth files. Being something of a cheapskate, I really didn’t want to pay for more storage on the site, so I was looking for free alternatives. I think I’ve finally pieced together a solution, and I’m ready to go live with it. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works for me. More importantly, it doesn’t cost anything.
I had tried both Houndbite and Boomp3 for free audio file hosting. For the most part I liked Houndbite, but it was completely unreliable. For the past three weeks it was offline, and just recently came back. I couldn’t use it in my Google Earth demonstrations as I might have liked. Since I was having so many troubles with Houndbite, I tried Boomp3. That is now completely defunct.
In my Virtual Field Trips for Google Earth workshop we had looked at using Blogger.com as a possible host for resources for placemarks. The idea was that you could upload pictures and video to your blogger account, then copy and paste the HTML into placemarks. That would give you a corollary website to support your Google Earth project. As we went through the exercise I began to wonder if this would work for my other projects, so I created a test blog and uploaded some files. While Blogger supports video and images, they don’t support audio. I was still stuck.
Since I had been working with Ning.com on several curriculum projects I decided to see what they had, and I struck gold. Ning can be used to host just about any media file – audio, video, and images. What’s more, those files also come with embed codes so that they can be used on other websites (and Google Earth placemarks!) You could even “brand” the embedded player with your own logo. Here’s my first file, which is my audio journey of the Anderson Jockey Lot…
As you can see, I’ve got my RC logo on it and everything. Pretty cool! And, I was able to get the colors to roughly match this website’s theme.
Ning also offers video hosting, but so far I’ve been OK with YouTube, Vimeo, and other free services. I would only use the video upload as a last resort. However, I can also upload other resources, including Google Earth files. I’ve got a total of 10 GB of storage, which is plenty for the few files I might want to share. I also decided to open up the discussion forum. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to use that, yet, but I’ll think of something. Anyway, come on over, and you can sign up for an account on the site, too. You’ll see my new badge on the sidebar of this page and on my Resources page…
But, I didn’t stop with the Ning site. Ning doesn’t have a good wiki application, so I have created accounts on both Wikispaces and PBwiki. I’m still trying to decide which of those I like better. Each has about 2 GB of storage, but my main intent is to use these for collaboration. Lee Lefever’s description of using a wiki for a planning a camping trip was very compelling, so I think I could do something like that here.
So, I went from having very few options to having almost too many. I’ll be tweaking those sites over the next couple of days, and I’ll provide permanent links to them from my Resources page. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.