Tuning In To Podcasting

Alison Young
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July 02, 2005
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Someone once asked me, “What is podcasting? Does that have something to do with whales?”

Um no, but it’s definitely something that’s had my attention since its recent boost. Other than the whale question, many people have been asking me about podcasting, and you also might be wondering what it is. I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with a group of Hawaii’s pioneer podcasters, the Hawaii Association of Podcasters.

In a nutshell, a podcast is a downloadable “radio show,” typically in an mp3 digital audio file that can be created and listened to by anyone with a home computer. Its name was derived from two words: iPod and broadcast. You don’t need an actual iPod to listen to or broadcast a podcast. Any digital audio player or computer with the right software will do the job.

To receive podcasts, you need a “podcatcher” application that allows you to subscribe to your favorite podcast feeds. You can do that with a variety of different programs, such as iPodder for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux (free — ipodder.sourceforge.net), iPodderX for Mac OSX (free 30-day trial, thereafter, $24.95 – ipodderx.com) or NewsGator (web-based and free — www.newsgator.com).

For you iTunes users, Apple’s next major release of iTunes (out soon) will make getting podcasts easier. With one click you’ll be able to subscribe to different podcast feeds and have them automatically delivered to your iPod. You can use the current version of iTunes to listen to podcasts, but you can’t use it yet to subscribe to the feeds.

I believe podcasting will be huge! Now you can listen to all the latest news, radio shows and the church sermon you missed last Sunday morning. There are about 5,000 different podcasts available now on just about any subject you can imagine! According to Your Computer Minute’s Peter Kay, “Podcasting has the chance to bring radio back to what it was a long time ago, which was mostly locally relevant content. Podcasts, with its niche targeting, might once again issue a new era of local broadcasts.” If you want to make your own podcast and be a “radio star,” a good book to read is Podcasting, The Do-It Yourself Guide, by Hawaii’s own Todd Cochrane. You can find it on Cochrane’s website www.geeknewscentral.com or on www.amazon.com for about $14. Here are a few other Hawaii-based websites you can check out for podcasts: www.hawaiipodcasting.com (Hawaii Association of Podcasters), www.808talk.com, www.nahenahe.net (Hawaiian music news and reviews), yourcomputerminute.com (Peter Kay’s tips), www.hawaiiup.com and www.barefeetstudios.com (BizzyCast – business podcasting).

Surfing The Net, Surf The Waves. I enjoy going to the beach often, especially with the summer heat here, and now there’s something out there that could make my beach experience a little more interesting. Surf the Internet and surf the waves with this neat board. Talk about redefining the word surfing.

Intel, the computer chip maker, developed the world’s first and one-of-a-kind (for now) wi-fi surfboard that houses a laptop, solar panels and video camera. The surfboard appeared recently at this year’s California State Fair, and made its debut at an ocean festival in England last year.

The surfboard is equipped with a tablet laptop, 1.7 gigahertz processor, an 80 gigabyte hard drive and a wireless chip. The chip talks to a high-speed wireless connection (hotspot) on the beach, and there you have your Internet access. It is powered with its built-in solar panels and everything is strategically placed on the board to ensure the technology didn’t interfere with the ride and feel of the board.

Hopefully they’ll start massproducing these soon and we can all enjoy surfing the web while surfing in the water.

Note from last week’s column: I got quite a few replies from librarians concerned about Wikipedia’s integrity because of the fact that anybody can go in and change the information. Please take into consideration that Wikipedia is a community service, and is not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate. It’s always important to cross check references for everything, especially if it’s something important. Although you can add your own information, it’s based on “the honor system” with the adding and modifying. Please see this link regarding Wikipedia’s accuracy disputes: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Accuracy_dispute.

A few of you also brought to my attention the fact that World Book Online is free to all Hawaii residents who have a public library card. All you need to do is go to this link: www.librarieshawaii.org, click on “other databases” (upper left side), look for the World Book link, then enter in your library barcode number. This is actually just one of the many links on the Hawaii State Public Library System’s website that offer a free service with your library card.

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