Podcasts for beginners

I would like to apologize for not posting much lately. I’ve been very busy with a redesign and branding of Red Nova Technologies.

Being so busy, one thing has been a lifesaver (or at least a sanity saver).

Many people keep music playing throughout their houses, cars, and offices to entertain them when they are doing something monotonous. What do you do when you think everything on the radio is not worth your time and you are tired of listening to All You Need is Love for the 500-millionth time? I turn to podcasts.

What are they?

Podcasts are sound and/or video files delivered regularly to your computer or device. I’ll leave out the technical details as that isn’t really important. Think of them like old time radio shows in the 40s and 50s, but rather than gathering around the radio at seven, you can listen to them at your leisure.

There are podcasts covering every subject matter you can imagine, from news to special purpose podcasts to teach you about a subject. I’ll share a few of my personal favorites at the end of this post.

Most podcasts are free, though there are a few that are for-pay only or that give more episodes to a paying member.

I’m interested, now what?

Probably the easiest podcatcher (a program that downloads podcasts for you) to use is iTunes. That’s the method I will outline here as a basic tutorial.

First you will need iTunes installed. If you are on a Mac it will already be installed. If you are a Windows user, you will need to download and install it from apple.

To find podcasts to download (or subscribe)

  • Open iTunes.

  • Click the sidebar item labelled iTunes Store.

  • Click the link at the top of the store labelled Podcasts.

  • Browse or search via the search box in the upper right corner of the window to a podcast that you like.

  • Click the Subscribe Free button on the podcast page. This should download the latest episode of this podcast.

  • If you have a podcast that you want that you cannot find in the store; copy the rss url to the clipboard, open iTunes, open the Advanced menu, click Subscribe to Podcast…, and pasted the url here.

To play your downloaded podcasts

  • Open iTunes
  • Click the sidebar item labelled Podcasts. (Note: the number to the left of the word indicates how many unplayed episodes you have yet to listen to.)
  • Double click on the podcast you wish to play and then double click on the episode you wish to play.
  • Use the controls in the iTunes window to control playback.

Some of my favorite podcasts

Most of my podcasts are unlikely to be of interest to non-geeks, though the following are very general purpose and a great introduction to podcasts for anyone.

  • Escape Pod - Science fiction short stories.
  • PodCastle - Fantasy short stories.
  • Pseudopod - Horror short stories.
  • This American Life - Non-fiction stories with a focus on real people and their stories.
  • Quick and dirty tips network - A plethora of podcasts on life. Like grammar, productivity, public speaking, etc. Most episodes are 5-10 minutes in length and feature one real tip per week.
  • Journey Into… - Remember how I said that podcasts were like old radio shows? This one really is. Recorded somewhere in Oregon, some episodes are fiction, many are actual rebroadcasts of classic radio shows.
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  1. dmangus posted this