My Monday wash

I have been challenged of late by some tech problems which have impacted here in blogland. Currently I have some feed issues. That doesn’t mean I’m off my tucker -- but the XML feed that supports Ratbag Radio has run into glitches. Anyway, that’s my problem -- not yours so much. I will fix it. At least that is my intention. You can at least find Life of Riley on iTunes but Ratbag Radio is still pending there due to factors such as these aforementioned.
Anyway... I have been ticking over in your background on this podcast stuff . I had set myself an aim of January 2006 to establish some sort of clarity on this point, you know, comprehension, understanding, savvy... and I am being processed, so to speak. It is in hand at least in hand in my head, cognitively speaking.

It is in hand such that I am embolden to offer advice in a consultative capacity and a reader asks: where would you suggest I start to look to get my head around iPods? (Maybe with earphones, says I.)

Well, gentle reader, let’s not get too caught up in brand names. There are many excellent Mp3 players out there that are cheaper than Apple’s iPod. Last I looked you could purchase an Mp3 player for less than AUD$30. I’m a fan of the huge range of Mp3 players offered by iRiver which are great value for money, especially here in Australia. Dick Smith’s carry some of the iRiver catalogue here in Australia

If you are interested in purchasing same check out the excellent community interface at Mistic River.(dedicated to iRiver enthusiasts). You also should note that if you go down the iPod/iTunes road Apple have set it up so that you have to use their products. For instance any music you buy from the iTunes store is pegged to be played only on Apple products --such as their iPod. Of course iPod is rachetting up the attributes, especially with video, but you at some stage need to decide what you really want from your device and whether you can wear the gross commercial interface that is iTunes(now one of the top music/record stores in the world). This article from Wikipedia will bring you up to date on iTunes.

I’m interested in the audio potential of this Mp3 stuff and I’m not downloading music like my kids do. I’m focused on the podcasting potential of Mp3. If you were downloading music how many hours of it do you want to carry around with you? Since I’m into podcasting I only want a few hours on my player to fuel me up for a couple of days because I download weekly, twice weekly or daily podcasts --so ten hours of such audio keeps me going for a couple of days at least. My iRiver T30 has a 512 Kbs capacity and that suits me fine -- no more/no less. 512 is over 10 hours of playback.

I won’t go into the tech talk about how different times can be squished into smaller kbs figures, but I point out that a news program such as the ABC Radio’s The World Today goes out as 32 kbs mono and a standard podcast with music such as Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code is recorded at 128 kbs/stereo -- so Curry’s file will be bigger, take longer to download, offer much better audio quality and/but I could fit fewer of them than I could editions of The World Today on my iRiver -- even though both take an hour to listen to.

(And video files are bigger still! )

To access podcasts, you’ll also need a podcatcher program and my preference is iPodder (now called iJuice). It’s free. It works. What more do you want? If you don’t like it try some of the others. If you were focused on podcasts and decided to rely on iTunes as your podcatcher you need to note that many podcasters are narky on iTunes and complain about the network they are snaffling. So the world of podcasting is not synonymous with iTunes. Other directories are much easier to access or submit podcast feeds to than iTunes. iTunes represents the early attempt to corporatise podcasting. What you’ll find, as you listen to various podcasts, is that within the community many podcasters share an idealistic commitment to alternative media freely available to all. Indeed, the ongoing debate about who should control the web is being fought again on this new audio frontier. This time the stakes are quite high as some people consider the future of radio or music recoridng is in the offing. To give you an idea of where this battle is at -- podcasting as a phenomenon is little more than 18 months to 2 years old.

If you check out my Audio Activism notes on the Ratbag Radio site, you’ll see where I am keen to promote the recording of political and campaign events. The advantage of most iRiver Mp3 players is that they also have RECORD capacity. They even have a line in port which can take a microphone (as well as record off another device such as an amplifier, radio, tape recorder, CD player or whatever). I have been exploring this option offered by the iRivers and I discuss this matter here. I hope to be able to resolve this issue very soon. But if the solution 'works' setting up networks of greenleft broad/podcasters will be very feasible.*

But if you are interested in the flexible capacity of iRivers or the potential of podcasting check out the Audio links blogroll on the Ratbag Radio site. I update and edit those web references at least weekly. You may also find this article interesting if you want to tool for podcast production
ASIDE: the iRiver flash Mp3 players --such as mine -- can also store and transport any computer file. My kids use their players to take their homework to school rather than download it to disk. They can carry much more in their 'players' than standard transport means. If you check pricing, Mp3 players are competitively priced compared to USB units which don't play audio. So why not do yourself a double favour?
For those interested in listening to podcasts, my eclectic mix of preferences is available in the right hand column in my Podcast Directory. If you have any questions, gentle reader, please contact me.
iRiver as podcast recording tool: Visit this site for an overview of the T30's limitations. Then match that with a review of the iRiver IFP 700 which is located here. I guess it's not a perfect world.