Sunday, March 9, 2008

Listen to Podcasts that you've subscribed to, using Apple's iTunes.

Podcasting, in its simplest form, is a way of broadcasting online that combines prerecorded audio files with some kind of syndication technologyusually RSS 2.0. What this means for listeners is that they can subscribe to a podcast and automatically be notified when new episodes of the podcast are released. Programs that automate the process (podcatchers) have made obtaining and listening to podcasts extremely easy. Because of this, podcasting has taken off as one of the premier forms of online broadcasting.

If you've upgraded to Version 2.6 of the PSP firmware, you'll find that Sony has added a new podcast-savvy (sort of) ability to your PSP: RSS Channel, located alongside your Internet Browser under the Network section of your PSP. Using your browser, you can select RSS 2.0 enclosures for podcasts and subscribe to them on your PSP. The cool or bad part about this, depending on your point of view, is that RSS Channel streams the podcasts to your PSP over a live Internet connection. This is great if you are near an open wireless access point, but it eliminates the portability of podcasts, since there is no way to download the podcasts to your Memory Stick via the RSS Channel.

There are many programs you can use to obtain podcasts. The most popular podcast-specific program (known as iPodder until Apple persuaded them to change their name) is Juice Receiver (http://juicereceiver/, a free, multi-platform program that allows you to subscribe to podcasts either through a provided podcast directory or by manually typing in the address of a podcast feed. Once subscribed to a podcast, iPodder can be set to check for and download the latest episodes of a podcast. To listen to downloaded podcasts, you must open the files using a media player such as Windows Media Player or WinAMP.

This section, however, will use iTunes, because it's slightly more convenient than Juice Receiver. You can both download and listen to podcasts from within iTunes. Furthermore, the Podcasts section of the iTunes Music Store features a large and easy to navigate podcasting directory. However, you can adapt the instructions in this section to your podcatcher of choice.

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