Thursday, June 01, 2006

All About Podcasts

Podcasting (taken from Wikipedia ): a portmanteau of Apple's "iPod" and "broadcasting", is a method of publishing files to the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically by subscription, usually at no cost. It first became popular in late 2004, used largely for audio files.

Still tuned in?!? Okay. Let me explain it a little bit more. Basically, podcasts are free audio (or video) programs made by anyone, which are then downloaded by everyone, and then listened on any electronic devices you may have. True, the original concept was made popular by ipod users and the easy-to-use iTunes app, but there are many different ways to access the multitude of podcasts out there. For some, this means burning each set of episodes (usually the average podcast lasts 30 mins to an hour or so) onto a CD. I even occasionally listen on my computer straight out of iTunes. The majority of podcast listeners use more portable mp3 players to keep up to date with their favorite shows.

So, first things first. You need to find what podcasts you want. Since I like to know what's up in the techie world, I subscribe to This Week in Tech (TWIT). Led by Leo Laporte, it also features a panel of regulars, many from the disbanded Screen Savers show from TechTV, and highlights the week's technology news. Diggnation covers top stories from the social tech news site Other notable ones are Inside the Net, Security Now, and Engadet.

If you're into Lost (and I mean really into Lost), check out some of the many Lost podcasts out there. Though this is probably more for September, when Season 3 begins again. Theres the Official Lost podcast featuring two of the writers on the show. Lostcasts is a really good in-depth theory-based show. The Lost podcast with Jay and Jack is another good one with a father/son dynamic. Others worth mentioning include: Generally Speaking: Lost, MYOKOMSAS, and Delta Park.

Then there are the miscellaneous ones like movies reviews with The Onion Radio News, Ebert and Roper, NPR: Story of the Day, and the President's Weekly Radio Address (fake of course).

Lastly, there are the video podcasts. Tiki Bar TV teaches you how to make a different cocktail every epidode. X-Play allows you to download reviews for all the latest videogames. Ask a Ninja is a pretty popular one, where a guy dressed as a ninja answers emails (a la Strong Bad). Others include: Despair Inc (like those awesome demotivators), Strong Bad, InDigital, and Happy Tree Friends.

Once you've subscribed to your shows (or RSS feeds), iTunes will automatically download new episodes as they become available. Sync your iPod or burn you cds and you're ready to go! Trust me, once you get into it, you'll come to love always having custom radio programming that is always fresh and new. It really makes my commute to and from work a lot more bearable.

So, if you're still new to the whole podcasting universe, I'd recommend using iTunes to browse and download podcasts. Here's a simple guide to get you started. And here's a much more detailed guide from the editors at ilounge. Or you can always ask me and I'll gladly get you started. Once you get your feet wet, it won't be long before you take the plunge.

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