Cate Eales - Real Life Internet Solutions
Cate Eales - Real Life Internet Solutions

Getting Along With Your Computer

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What the heck is a podcast, anyway? - By Cate Eales

Has everybody been listening to the CBC podcasts from the picket lines? I’m listening to today’s podcast right now, and no, I don’t have an iPod.

If you like radio --- all kinds of radio --- and you like to listen while you mow the lawn, drive the car, work out, or walk the dog, then listening to podcasts may just be for you. You don’t need an iPod. You do need a computer and an internet connection. You can listen on your computer with RealPlayer (http://www.real.com/), Windows Media Player (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.aspx), or WinAmp (http://www.winamp.com/) They are all free programs that will play an audio file. If you want to roam, you need a portable mp3 player. It can be an iPod, or it can be another brand. You also need some software to collect the podcasts and organize them on your computer or mp3 player. There are several free programs that do this well.

Before we go any further, here are a few quick definitions. An “mp3” file is an audio file. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes spoken word, sometimes both. An “mp3 player” is something that plays those files. All iPods are mp3 players, but not all mp3 players are iPods! (If you want to know what a portable mp3 player looks like, ask a child. Apparently they all have at least one.)

Get hold of iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/) if you have an actual iPod or if you just want to listen on your computer. If you have another kind of mp3 player, iPodder (http://ipodder.sourceforge.net/index.php) works well and is also free. These programs let you see what podcasts are available and let you subscribe to the ones you want to listen to. Then they’ll go out and download the latest episodes of your subscribed podcasts. You can do this whenever you want, or you can set up a scheduled time. (Your computer has to be on and connected to the internet for the scheduler to work.) Once you have those shows on your computer, you can either listen to them in RealPlayer, Media Player or WinAmp, or you can transfer them over to your mp3 player and take them with you.

People are producing podcasts on every imaginable topic. Lots of them are for geeks (because geeks are making them!), but there is a wealth of non-geeky topics, too. The Typical PC User Podcast (http://typicalpcuser.biz/tpcu/) is a favourite of mine. The locked out CBC employees (http://cbcunplugged.blogware.com/blog) have been producing podcast from the picket lines. Dean Gemmell recently began podcasting interviews with curlers (http://thecurlingshow.com/). There’s even a “How To Do Stuff” (http://tmaffin.libsyn.com/) podcast. Heather Hughes (formerly of CHBC news) and husband Hanson Hosein spent the summer driving through the US, blogging and podcasting about their search for Independent America (http://www.independentamerica.net/).

A good podcast directory is Podcast Alley (http://podcastalley.com/index.php). Subscribe to as many or as few as you want. It’s always free, and it’s easy to unsubscribe.

If you have a favourite podcast that you’d like others to know about, email us and we’ll pass it along in a future column. If you produce a podcast that you think would be of interest, we’d like to hear about it. Happy listening!

Related Links:
Real Player (get the free one): http://www.real.com/
Windows Media Player: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.aspx
WinAmp: http://www.winamp.com/
iTunes: http://www.apple.com/itunes/
iPodder: http://ipodder.sourceforge.net/index.php
Typical PC User Podcast: http://typicalpcuser.biz/tpcu/
CBC Locked Out: http://cbcunplugged.blogware.com/blog
The Curling Show: http://thecurlingshow.com/
How To Do Stuff: http://tmaffin.libsyn.com/
Independent America: http://www.independentamerica.net/
Podcast Alley: http://podcastalley.com/index.php
Real Life Internet Solutions: http://rlis.com/

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Cate is a partner in Real Life Internet Solutions, helping individuals and small businesses with virus, spyware and malware eradication personal computer training and management digital image management music transfer and website design, hosting and management. Email Cate with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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