Podcast Revolution

Guest post from Brandon Crain:
Most tech guys own an MP3 player of some sort. I currently own three MP3 players, a Pocket PC, PSP, and iPod. The iPod is the only truly dedicated MP3 player of the three. The Pocket PC’s main purpose is an electronic organizer, and the PSP’s being a handheld game machine. Podcastrevolution
I don’t consider myself an expert on Podcasting or MP3 players, but I do get asked questions about Podcasting / MP3 players frequently. Hopefully this article will help shed some light on the confusing term, Podcasting. Podcasting is a method of publishing audio files via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically. Podcasting is still increasing in popularity, and has become more main stream toward the end of 2004. Podcasting is a confusing name because it implies you need an Apple iPod to listen to Podcast. That is not the case at all; you don’t even need an MP3 player for that matter. The main tools you will need to get in on this new audio revolution is a PC running some type of Operating System (Windows, Linux, OS X), Audio Software (Windows Media Player, Winamp, QuickTime), and an internet connection. If you own a computer, you are probably Podcast ready.

Podcasting is different from other types of online audio delivery because of its subscription model or RSS (Really Simple Syndication) file format. Podcasting enables users to create radio type shows & audio shows. Podcatching software can be used to periodically check for new downloads. Some Podcatching software is also able to synchronize Podcasts to portable MP3 Players. RSS can deliver video files, and since the newest version of iTunes supports video, I’m guessing a video iPod is in the works. iPodder is currently the Podcatching software I use, however there are many other good free ones to choose from. iPodderX is a good choice if you use a Mac.

iTunes is now jumping on the Podcasting revolution by integrating it into it’s newest version of iTunes, 4.9. I think Apple plans to keep this feature around too because iTunes offers thousands of podcast in it’s debut. However there are many other podcast to be found, and if you limit yourself to iTunes, you may miss out on some of the other great Podcast not listed with iTunes.

My goal here was to give a general explanation of Podcasting, and hopefully help you find the right software to start downloading your favorite Podcast. I love listening to my Podcast before I go to bed or on long road-trips. Check out some of my favorite Podcast links below, and get in on the new Podcasting revolution.

|| BCrain ||

Great Podcasting Resources
Podcasting Tools
Podcast Alley

Podcatching Software

My Favorite Podcast
This Week in Tech

War of the Palm Worlds

I found this definition from dictionary.com Insisting capriciously on getting just what one wants; difficult to please; It’s the definition of finicky.Lifedrive

Some might say that I am the definition of finicky when it comes to handheld devices. I held out a while before getting my first handheld, they seemed only for those who actually had enough contacts and appointments to keep track of. Then I started seeing the number and breadth of applications available, so I decided it was time.

Consider this taken from the palmOne website, The PalmPilot was invented in 1994 by Jeff Hawkins who founded Palm Computing and is now palmOne’s Chief Technology Office. So, my first handheld was a Handspring Visor in 2001. I tried to go thrifty by getting an open box, bottom-of-the-line model. That lasted about a day as I quickly realized I wanted more storage for all of the applications out there that I would never actually use. So I got the next model up with more memory. One of my co-workers had a color model and I had to have that. So I got a Handspring Prism and used it for about 6 months. Then I discovered the Sony Clie. I got the 615c, but the 655c came out the following week and it played MP3s! So I returned to Best Buy, they exchanged it and I paid the difference. I used it for about 6 months and had wander lust again. I had never really liked the design of the Palm brand until I saw the Tungsten T3. It had the bottom section that slid up and down. I liked it and used it for a good 6 months. I had never cared for the size of most Pocket PC handhelds, but now they had come out with several models that were the same size as the Palm OS based models.

So, I went with a HP 4155 and I have to say that out of the Pocket PC’s it was the best for features and size. I used it for about 6 months (see a trend here?) and again was overcome by the desire for something new. Pathetic, I know. So, I went with the HP RX3715. I never really cared for it. Buying on the internet has it’s downside sometimes. It was big and bulky and it didn’t last too long. I decided I missed the Palm OS and went with a Tungsten T5. For features it was ok, but I really missed the Wi-Fi that the HP 4155 had. I didn’t like how the T5 felt in my hand either. (Remember the definition of finicky?) Then came the Lifedrive. I had read about it and the rumors as to it’s specs and thought “I gotta have that!” It came out around the middle of May and I had mine in my hot little hands the following week. I really like it. It fits perfectly in the hand. lifedrive2The 4gig of space provided by the microdrive inside is awesome. Plus I have a 1gig SD card, so I’m not hurting for space. The Wi-Fi works flawlessly and MP3s sound great on it. I even sold my 30gig iPod Photo because I didn’t want another device to carry around. Not that it compares to the iPod for it’s user interface or storage, but for my needs it’s perfect. Complaints, yeah I have a couple. There are delays when launching applications, especially for the first time after a soft reset. If I’m listening to music and I hop to another application it causes serious hiccups in the playback. The headphone jack is at the bottom of the device, so I have to put it in it’s leather carrying case upside down to avoid removing the headphone cord each time I want to remove it from the case.

The life drive is not a revolution in handhelds, all of it’s features have been around for sometime. It needs some improvement on handling of the hard drive, maybe this will be addressed by Palm OS 6. The thickness could be reduced some. I am surprised that there is not more heat associated with the hard drive than there is. I only gets warm if you do a lot of transferring of files to the hard drive. Overall I am well pleased with the Lifedrive. Check back with me in 6 months and see if there’s anything that’s peaked my interest enough to switch. If you are wondering where the title for the article came from I just saw War of the Worlds. I really liked it and thought Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning did awesome jobs. Go see it.- jason

Maxtor One Touch II 300 gig USB drive

Data backup has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m getting to the point at home where I have a lot of pictures, music and documents. Enough to think about what would happen were I to lose it to a dead or dying hard drive.

Maxtor300gbWe decided to look at external storage space for work and were intrigued with Maxtor’s choices. So we purchased the Maxtor One touch II USB 300gb hard drive. The drive was easy to setup and get running. I used the USB drive on 3 Windows XP machines, one with a P4 3.2 ghz with 1 gig of ram, Laptop with 1.4ghz Centrino and 512mb of ram and a P4 2.4ghz with 512mb memory. I had no problems with installation on any of the machines. The model we have is a USB only version and states that it is only compatible with Windows. As a side note I just read on Maxtor’s website that the software does not work on the Server versions of Windows. They do have a version of it that is fire wire and USB compatible and states that it works with Mac OS, no mention of Linux though. One small quirk that I don’t like much is that you have to install Maxtor’s software in order to use the drive. Part of the reason for this is because of the ability to password protect the contents of the drive. When you plug it in, before it is even recognized as a drive letter and is accessible you have to enter a password. I didn’t try removing the password to see if you still have to have the software installed, but it is good to know that our data is protected in case of losing it or theft. I did forget the install CD that came with it at home and wanted to hook it up on a computer that hadn’t had the software installed, only to not be able to. I went to the Maxtor site thinking I could just download the software but couldn’t find it there either. The drive is pretty good size 1 5/8 x 5 ½ x 8 5/16 inches and weighs a decent amount at 3.1 lbs. Not particularly great size for being really portable, but not oversized either. The construction feels solid and sturdy. It has a power adapter and a USB cable that come with it as well. I would think it would be able to be powered from the USB but apparently not. The body is a cool metallic color and it has a cool blue light on the front (not sure why but I dig stuff with blue lights!)

It is designed to easily stack several of these drives on top of each other. Although, the drive actually got somewhat warm, so I’m not sure stacking several of them would be a good idea. Over all it is a very useful and easy to use device. The price is a bit steep for the everyday user at around $260. It also comes with Retrospect backup software which launches with a touch of button on the front and easily and makes backing up of your data a piece of cake. We also purchased the Maxtor shared storage networked drive and we’ll do a review of it in the coming weeks.

Cleaning your flash drive redefined.

So, a couple of days ago I was looking for my Kingston 1gig flash drive. I checked all the normal places and couldn’t find it anywhere. I went through all of my pants pockets and figured I had left it at work.

Data Traveller II

My wife called and said, “You know that little rectangle thingy you plug into the computer?” Right away I knew it was my missing thumb drive and prepared for the worse. Do you have one of these thumb drives? They are great little devices. Especially now I have the 1gig. I had a 256mb sized one for a little while, but everything I wanted to transport on it seemed to always be more than 256mb. The 1gig is awesome and it’s lightning fast. The one I have is the Kingston DataTraveler II Plus. It has a cool little blue light on the end too! I’m not sure why the blue light instead of a normal green or red light is so cool but it is. It came with an application to protect data you put on it but I don’t tend to transport that sensitive of data so I just deleted it. So, back to my wife and the phone call…”You know that little rectangle thingy you plug into the computer?” I figured I’d have to get a replacement and the possibilities of what she was going to say were going through my head. Things like “the kids got it and flushed it down the toilet.” or “It fell in the garbage disposal.” “Well, I found it in the dryer.” I must have missed that pair of pants. So the data traveler had traveled it’s way through the washer along with much soap, I suspected, and then on to the dryer where it tumbled on high for 45 minutes or so. I didn’t have much thought of it actually being usable again, but I had her drop it by work anyways. It felt nice and clean when she handed it to me, I’ve used spyware cleaners and adware cleaners and anti-virus and drive defragmenters but never good ol soap and water to clean a drive. So I plugged it into my USB hub and Windows made that familiar “I’ve found something.” sound it likes to make. “Hmmm” could it really still be used, I thought as Windows dutifully added a removable drive to my explorer window. I didn’t have any data on it that I could remember. So I grabbed some items and dropped them on the drive letter and viola! It was working. I guess the solid state circuitry making up the thumb drive really is solid after all. And now my thumb drive is much shinier.