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Chapter 10. In-House Syndication > When In-House Syndication Is Appropriate - Pg. 119

In-House Syndication 119 There are other options that may be available depending on the server software used by the website that hosts your RSS feed. For example, Apache allows for personalization based on a user name and password. While somewhat crude, this method can be used to authenticate a user and cus- tomize the particular podcast that they are given access to. Your Own Private Network A less "kludgy" method is to require users to connect to the web server through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs are almost ubiquitous in corporate computing from remote locations, since they provide both user authentication and data encryption. When you add to this the fact that VPNs are easy for a technical staff to implement because the functionality is readily available with every server operating system (and free VPN clients are available for every significant client operating system), the result is an option that may well be the most attractive for corporate and institutional podcasters who want to have control over who downloads their programs. Of course, all the methods based on server protection assume that you have some facility with programming, and the permissions required to place applications on the server. If neither of those is true then you'll need to turn to a third-party solution for secure distribution of your podcast. One of the best-known third-party methods of securing an RSS feed is MySmartChannels from Myst Technology. MySmartChannels is a public implementation of the Myst Web Services platform. The channels are hosted on the Myst Technology servers, and accessible only to those who have (free) accounts on MySmartChannels and meet other group criteria you can set. This public area may be all the restriction you need for your podcast, and it is a good demonstration for the commercial version of the technology, which is licensed to be used on individual servers. When In-House Syndication Is Appropriate Let's look at situations when an in-house syndication process is appropriate, and situations in which it's probably best to use some other form of communication. Education College and university professors have been some of the early adopters of podcasting for "serious" purposes. Professors or instructors can record lectures or special presentations to be downloaded by students. Distance learning and instruction in very large or over-enrolled classes can be pre- sented to large numbers without over-burdening facilities. Educational institutions are well positioned to limit access to class-related podcasts since so many pieces of information are already limited to students and keyed to authorization based on student ID numbers. A class website, with authentication required, can be the portal to all the online infor- mation supporting the class. The good news here is that practically no additional programming is required for the website; the simple XML code for the podcast can just be added to the page for the course, and a new educational function is in place. Beyond colleges and universities, primary and secondary distance educational institutions as well as home-school support organizations can take advantage of podcasting to provide lectures to ac- company the other materials they offer to students who can't take advantage of more conventional classrooms.