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Podcasting: Mr. Modem's Introduction to the Podcast

Podcasting may sound like something involving aliens from the planet Kryptoid, but it’s a lot more fun than that. In the purest sense, the definition of podcast means a radio broadcast that’s created as a downloadable audio file, usually in MP3 format. Podcasts are almost always free, and you don’t need an iPod to listen, though the term “podcast” is a combination of “iPod” and “broadcast.”

You can listen to a podcast using any device that can play MP3 files. This means you can play podcasts on your desktop or notebook computer, MP3 player, or PDA (personal digital assistant) that supports audio playback.

In addition to the definition of podcast, is the good news is that nearly anyone with a microphone and audio-recording software can create a podcast. The bad news is that nearly anyone with a microphone and audio-recording software can create a podcast, so podcast quality runs the gamut from rank amateur ‘casts, that will make your ears hemorrhage, to professionally produced, commercial podcasts created by major broadcast news and programming organizations.

Podcasts should not be confused with Internet radio which uses your computer to listen to a radio station’s broadcast. Podcasts are audio recordings you can download and listen to at your convenience, at any time.

Listening to Podcasts

You can listen to podcasts in a variety of ways:

Online - Using your Web browser, go to a podcast site or directory. Look for a link to the podcast or a Listen or Play button. When you click the appropriate link, your Web browser will open a media player program on your system and play the podcast.

Download - Locate a podcast of interest, then look for a Download Now link or button. Some sites list the podcasts which you then right-click and select Save Target As, to save them on your computer.

Subscribe - Before you can subscribe to a podcast, you’ll need free, podcast client software. See “Additional Resources” below for additional information. Subscribing involves simply selecting a podcast and adding it to your subscription list. The software then checks to see if it’s available and lets you choose the podcasts you want to receive within the next scheduled update. Under the heading of fundamental computer tips, you can also use your podcast software to schedule when you want to receive podcast updates. Hint: During the night is a good choice. Once your client software downloads a podcast, you can play it, copy it, or save it.

Listening to podcasts is informative, entertaining, and fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a whirl. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to do, and how addicting it can be—so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Additional Resources:

IndiePodder Directory

Free iTunes software, also available to Windows 2000/XP users.

Popular, free podcast software that helps you locate and subscribe to podcasts.

Podcast Alley Directory
For all your podcasting needs. Directory
Topical podcasts in various categories including Arts, Business, Comedy, Education, Family, Food, Government, Health, Music, News, Politics, Religion, Science, Sex, Sports, and more.
A categorized collection of sites offering podcasts.

The Podcast Network Directory

Yahoo! Podcasts

If you enjoyed this article with an introduction and definition of the almighty podcast, there are many more fundamental computer tips and other Internet-related goodies, gems and tidbits available to you as a subscriber of Mr. Modem’s Weekly Newsletter ( Subscribe today and you’ll receive helpful fundamental computer tips, tricks, virus alerts, hoax information, plus prompt personal responses to your computer questions by email!

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