Podcasting offers a wonderful world of user-created content ranging from small, independent (or even one person) podcasts such as the Mr Brown show, a popular Singaporean comedy program, to large studio project such as The Official Lost Podcast.
There are literally thousands of streams of podcasts out there, some more exciting than others, but I am sure what whatever your preference, there are bound to be some that will suit your fancy. But how does one get access to the world of podcasting?
Well first off, podcast, or their video equivalent, vodcasts, are nothing more than a fancy term of calling an audio or a video file. Most podcasts are news-like in nature, bringing you the latest updates in the world of X, where X is pretty much anything you can imagine of, from celebrity entertainment to photography tips. Most of them are filmed or recorded no more than 30 minutes long, although longer podcasts, such as the ones from SlashFilm, can last hours on end.
Podcasts are a great complement to my habit of commuting from home to work. I just fire up something from Howstuffworks then proceed to my destination. Some people love to listen to music, but I find that podcasts are a great way of enriching yourself with knowledge, as well as learning quite a lot of useful tidbits as conversation starters.
Podcasts are often delivered as an RSS URL (also called a Feed), which simply means that its a self-updating link where the author will insert their latest episodes into the link. A podcast manager’s task is to collect and record all these links then provide a means of checking each ‘Feed’ for updated content. Then the option of downloading the recording as well as archiving it completes the task of a podcast manager. With this in mind, what are some of the podcast managers that you can use to get yourself started on the world of podcasting?
gPodder – This is a free, multiplatform podcast manager, useful when you are working on multiple systems and don’t want to have a different program for each platform. The interface is sparse but does all you need in a small, neat, efficient package. I find the exclusion of any built-in players to be especially liberating because it keeps the system drain low.
Miro – This open source project started off as a video player, then slowly evolved to become a podcast manager. It’s great at giving smooth playback of vodcasts and offer a slightly nicer interface than gPodder, as well as being great for streaming online media or other web-based tasks. Check it out of gPodder looks too dated for your taste.
iTunes – If you have an iPod, iTunes offers a great podcast manager built right into the software. However, looking for feeds are a little bit cumbersome due to there being no ability for you to directly specify the URL of your podcast feeds. You need to trawl through iTunes’ own database of podcasts, and not every podcast is available on their database, although a lot of useful and quality content is tracked by iTunes so it’s probably doing you a favor by filtering out all the junk on the Internet. And until another software comes out with a way to sync podcasts to your iPod Touch, iTunes will sadly remain your only manager.
Juice – Yet another free podcast manager that’s even lighter than gPodder, this manager’s sole task is to track and download podcasts, making it every light and useful on netbooks and older computers. In the past, I’ve had a few problems with Juice and have moved on to iTunes ever since, but in the meantime, the programmers at Juice have probably fixed all the bugs.
There you go, four great podcast managers for you to start. Now start gathering your favourite podcasts online!