Thursday, April 15, 2010

MP3 Players, Podcasts, and Walking

I'm trying out the "new" editor in Blogger, so if the formatting looks odd, let me know.

Now that I have an MP3 player, I can go mobile with my music. In addition, my computer is getting slower and slower due to the demands of software updates, and now I can play music on the player while working on the computer without having the music "hang" every few minutes. Nice, right? But there's more advantages to having an MP3 player that I hadn't thought through. We originally got these for use in the cars, and Eric has had me put a pile of his audiobooks onto his Clip+ and is listening to them on his commute. I haven't had a chance to mess with my Clip+ in my car yet, except to test that the USB power adapter for the car works with the speakers (so I know I can listen to mine in my car). I've mainly been using mine to listen to music while moving around the house doing my daily chores and such.

And then I remembered some podcasts that have been recommended to me. Now, I need to state right up front that I am a visual learner. Podcasts hold little interest for me in general because I don't learn well from hearing something. When people talk about "in one ear and out the other" they are talking about me. If you write it down I can remember it, but telling me something is next to useless. So, I've generally avoided podcasts. There hasn't been any good reason for me to go to the trouble of downloading something and listening to it on my computer while I'm doing something else. I won't hear a word of it. Music at least has a soothing background effect on me, but podcasts... I'd get nothing out of them. The only way I could possibly listen to a podcast and get anything from it is if I'm not doing anything else that fully occupies my mind. Like, oh say, walking.

Hey, says I, that's a thought.

So I downloaded a couple of podcasts and set out yesterday with my old headphones and my Clip+ and tried to go for a nice walk. Didn't work. The old headphones are so low quality that every car that went by drowned out the sound of the podcast. In addition, I'm having minor knee issues and couldn't go as far as I wanted to walk. So I came home slightly discouraged, but decided to try again today using the earbuds that came with the Clip+ (that I keep wanting to call "Clippy" for some reason). Today... today it worked. I walked 3 and a half miles and listened to two long podcasts. I used the "speed" function on the Clip+ that allows you to listen to audiobooks or podcasts faster (but with a higher pitch) so I could get through both. But I had a surprisingly good time and even felt like I'd learned something. Fortunately, my knee was ok today (although now that I'm resting it's beginning to hurt again, *sigh*). I hope to go out and do another walk tomorrow.

So here's where I'm going to get a little odd. I guess I'm new to podcasts. Before now, I've had three set up in my iTunes that I listened to whenever I felt like it, which wasn't very often. Now I've found a few more, and I'm interested in other good ones. I prefer shorter podcasts to long ones, but I'd like to hear (in the comments) what podcasts you listen to, and what you think of them. And in return, I'm going to list the ones I've found.

One more thing. I don't particularly like iTunes, and I didn't see any obvious way to link it to my Clip+, so I downloaded a program called MediaMonkey and have already trained it to download several podcasts and sync them with my Clip+, and download an Oz podcast and link it to Eric's Clip+. I'm still a very new user with MM, but I'm liking it so far.

So here's "my" podcasts (the links are to the podcast feeds, not the podcast websites):

  • Stuff You Missed in History Class. This one was suggested to me by my sister, and I listened to almost all of the old episodes while playing solitaire on my computer because I found it so interesting. I eventually stopped listening, but now I've got them on my Clip+ to catch up again.
  • Pipeline Comic Book Podcast. What can I say? I like Augie's style, and have enjoyed his insight into comics. He may not be the best out there, but he's easy to listen to even when I disagree with him, and he keeps 'em short.
  • BBC History Magazine. I love the magazine when I can get my hands on it, and so this was a no brainer to listen to once I discovered it. It's long, but it's only once a month.
  • The President's Weekly Radio Address. It's a good thing to know what's going on at the top of the political food chain. It's only once a week.
  • The Royal Podcast of Oz. Ok, I haven't listened to it at all yet, but the most recent episode as of this writing is an interview with my husband, so I have to include it. In addition, this is the one I've got set up to sync with hubby-Eric's Clip+.
I also tried a couple of political podcasts that were not very good, so I'm not going to link to them. There are a whole bunch of podcasts on that I have the links for, but haven't had time to listen to yet, including Stuff You Should Know, BrainStuff, Stuff from the Science Lab, Stuff Mom Never Told You, and TechStuff. I also have the link to NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me but again, haven't listened to it yet.

So, what do you listen to?


Jared said...

If you have any criticisms, positive, constructive, whatever, for the Royal Podcast of Oz, let me know.

Tegan said...

Just finished listening, Jared. The biggest complaint (*grin*) is that you pronounced Eric's name wrong. It's Joe-Vog (rhymes with "The Frog" or "A log"). But then, the very first question I asked Eric when I talked with him on the phone the first time was how to pronounce his name.

The editing seemed choppy in places, but I'm not sure if that was the Clip+ acting out or the file itself.

Most podcasts I hear have everyone in stereo, so having you on my left and Eric on my right sounded odd. Interesting, but odd.

Questions were good, content was good. If I were an Oz fan I'd certainly be listening to your podcast regularly.

Jared said...

Yikes! I got the name wrong... Should have asked. I'd re-record and re-release, except that it's already been downloaded and distributed. But I'll take it as a warning not to record independent introductions late at night.

As for the choppiness, considering the issue I was having with Skype, that's why. I had to cut remaining fragments after gaps of silence and try to make sensible statements out of what I had left. (Fortunately, Eric gave me plenty of material to work with, so it wasn't that hard.) I did some pick-up recordings for an upcoming podcast last Sunday and everything seems to be working fine now. I just wish it had been then.

As for the weird stereo sound: the fact is, the software records it like that, and it's easier to edit with. Though, being hard of hearing in one ear, I can't use headphones when editing or listening. Some like this effect.

Thanks for the criticisms!

ttallan said...

I enjoy listening to CBC's Quirks and Quarks, a weekly science and technology radio show. I especially enjoy their annual (more than annual?) Question Show. Also from CBC, I've been enjoying The Age of Persuasion, which is all about how advertising works. Fascinating stuff. (The link for that one is to the unofficial podcast, since CBC doesn't officially have podcast rights for this radio show.)

I'm looking forward to trying out those history podcasts you linked to. Thanks for the recommendations!

Snard said...

I enjoy several sci-fi podcasts. A couple favorites are Escape Pod and StarShipSofa. The former consists of a single short story with an intro & outro, and the latter is more of a "fanzine" with different articles/departments, and a very talkative host (Tony C. Smith) who takes a little getting used to.

Tegan said...

Tara: Added Q&Q to my "to check" pile. I've got a lot of potential listening material in place now, and both of yours sound interesting.

Snard: Hrm, I think I might check those out, but I'm still hunting for short and sweet.