4 June, 2006 1 Comment
I confess. I’m addicted to podcasts.
Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet using either the RSS or Atom syndication formats, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers.
The podcasts I regularly grab are generally tech related, and both audio and video, totalling around 700MB per week (I recommend a good broadband plan!)
So, how does podcasting work? do you need an iPod? and what do I subscribe to? Glad you asked…
Podcasting is simply the distribution of audio and video files for people to play at a later date either on their computer or portable media device.
If you read the Wikipedia entry you’ll see that you don’t need an iPod to get or listen to podcasts. What does help though is a way of “subscribing” to a podcast so that when your favourite show is updated you get notified. Depending on your method of subscription new shows can then be either manually or automatically downloaded for you to play.
And here’s where RSS comes in. Recently I ranted about “really simple syndication” in the post RSS Rocks, something which podcasting relies on for distribution. Generally, when your favourite show puts out a new episode an associated RSS feed is updated notifiying everyone who links to that feed in their reader of choice (such as RSSOwl). Many RSS readers just display short descriptions and links to the new content, but some media players have RSS support specifically for podcasts, allowing them to automatically grab the new episode for you.
My favourite music player is iTunes – a program I reckon you won’t beat for organising and playing your digital music collection. Better still, iTunes connects to the Apple Music Store where you can search for, subscribe to and download free podcasts (automatically if you choose). Again, you don’t need an iPod to use iTunes – it’s free and runs on both Mac and Windows. Alternatively, you could visit you favourite website that has a podcast, add the RSS feed to your reader, then manually download each episode as it’s released.
As an example, the first podcast I subscribed to (and continue to receive) is called “The World’s Technology Podcast”. The website is theworld.org and they have a podcast page with links to RSS feeds for iTunes and other readers via xml. If you copy the RSS feed link into your reader, you’ll see whenever a new episode is available (in this case normally on a Tue and Fri).
There are thousands of podcasts out there, and if you don’t have iTunes you could browse some podcast index sites such as PodcastAlley, The Podcast Network, Yahoo! or Podcast.net to find something that interests you.
If you’re tech-minded, you might find some of the ones I subscribe to interesting…
- DL.tv – DigitalLifeTV
Patrick Norton and Robert Heron present a twice weekly TV show featuring the latest gadgets, tech news and reviews with special guests
- TWiT.tv – This Week in Tech
Leo Laporte hosts a panel of regular “TWiTs” including Patrick Norton, John C. Dvorak, Roger Chang, Wil Harris, Robert Heron and others to discuss the latest tech news
- The World’s Technology Podcast
Clark Boyd presents the latest global news with indepth reports on “the people who shape, and are being shaped by” technology (rather than focusing on the gadgets and gizmos themselves)
- Security Now!
Security guru Steve Gibson (who coined the term “spyware” and created the first anti-spyware program) and Leo Laporte discuss important computer security issues (part of the TWiT.tv network)
Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht enjoy a few beers while giving a weekly roundup of the hottest stories on the social news website digg.com
- Inside the Net (ITN)
Hosted by Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte. ITN looks at what’s new, cool and useful on the internet and always features a one-on-one with the person responsible for the new site or tool (part of the TWiT.tv network)
- FLOSS Weekly – Free Libre Open Source Software
Chris DiBona and Leo Laporte talk with the most interesting and important people in the open source and free software community (part of the TWiT.tv network)
So there you go. Podcasting rocks – get the content you want and play it on demand.