Mac Corner: Listening to podcasts – you likely have the time

By Larry Grinnell, Palm Beach Phoenix Apple Users Group

larry grinnellWhat’s a podcast and why do I need to care about it? I’m sure many of you have asked this very question.

It’s hard to pick up a technical magazine, or view a website without seeing reference to this thing called a podcast. Now is probably a good time to define whattheheck a podcast is:

 A podcast is a time-limited, pre-recorded broadcast intended for distribution over the internet. The subject matter can be virtually anything you want, from Macintosh news, to industry rumors, to educational broadcasts, to other … um … darker subjects.

Podcasts can be voice or a combination of voice and video. Podcasts are distributed over the internet, and are usually free, though some enterprising folks are actively exploring ways to monetize them.

The ever-popular Apple iTunes Store is probably one of the best sources of free podcasts covering a wide variety of topics, and when integrated with iTunes software and an iPod, are extremely easy to set up and use.

  Previously, I posed the question: why do I need to care about it? Let’s take my situation at present. I have a 45-60 minute one-way commute to and from work. How many of you are in the same boat?

Radio here in South Florida is, well, pretty poor. Few choices exist, other than 15-song playlists on every station that isn’t running a talk format. The next option is satellite radio. The Sirius/XM network offers a wide variety of interesting programming in a wide variety of topics and musical genres. Only thing is, it costs about ten bucks a month, and you need special equipment for your car to pick it up.

Say hello to the podcast. You probably already have a portable music player of some kind. You certainly have an internet connection, otherwise you couldn’t be reading this. If you have an internet connection, you have a computer.
With these elements in place, all you need to do is set up a free account on Apple’s iTunes Store. Use their search engine to explore the many topics available, and maybe subscribe to a few of them. When you subscribe, the podcasts you have selected are automatically downloaded and installed into your iTunes music library. When you plug your iPod into your computer, the podcasts automatically download to that device. Couldn’t be easier.

 I subscribe to about a dozen podcasts covering a wide variety of topics. The shows run from 15 minutes to over an hour, and help me occupy my time on my daily commute. Since this is supposed to be an Apple-centric column, I’m highlighting some of my favorite Apple podcasts:

— MacOSKen: A delightful 15-minute daily Mac news podcast hosted by the equally delightful and snarky Ken Ray.

 — MacBreak Weekly: This is a weekly panel discussion led by Leo Laporte of the late and lamented TechTV cable TV network.

  — Cranky Geeks: A 15-20 minute weekly panel discussion by computer press pundits, and hosted by veteran journalist John C. Dvorak.

  — MyMac Podcast: This is one of the oldest podcasts out there, hosted by Tim Robertson. Full disclosure dictates that I mention my kid brother, Guy Serle, is one of the regular panelists. This show talks about all things Mac and Mac-related, with an interesting and global cast of panelists.

— PCMag Radio: Another tech news podcast, hosted by the team that used to publish the print edition of PC Magazine. Lots of interesting Mac coverage mixed in with lots of other tech content.

 — Diggnation: Definitely not for kids! This very entertaining weekly 45-60 minute podcast is hosted by Web 2.0 wunderkind Kevin Rose with his co-host Alex Albrecht who talk about the latest news items that have been voted most interesting by participants on the <>  website. Much beer is consumed and much foul language is used.


Mac Corner runs every Wednesday only in Palm Beach Click to read the previous column.


About Larry Grinnell: Larry has been working with Macintosh and Windows PCs for over 25 years and worked as a senior technical writer and IT support professional for a major midwest-based consumer electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer here in South Florida. His musings on a wide variety of topics from computers to jazz guitar to strange foreign cars from the 1950s can be viewed at the website. Click here to reach him by email.

palm beach phoenix logoWriters of this column are members of the Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group, a nonprofit organization for Apple Computing Device Users, recognized by Apple Inc., with the purpose of providing educational training and coaching to its members (students, professionals and seniors alike) in a cordial social environment. The club meets the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fire Station #2, 4301 Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (just two block south of Southern Boulevard). Click here to visit their website. Click here to reach them by email.


tina pugliese on pr
palm beach
JULY 22, 2009 click to go home
click to go back to the top
Delray's Online Business and Community Newspaper