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#15 – Podcasts

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

What are Podcasts?

 

A podcast is a pre-recorded audio program that’s posted to a website and is made available for download so people can listen to them on their computer or mobile devices.

Podcasting takes its name from combining the word broadcast with Apple’s popular iPod line of products, but it isn’t limited only to iPod owners and listeners, in fact any mp3 player, laptop or PC with speakers or other mobile listening device can be used.

 What distinguishes a podcast from other types of audio products on the internet is that a podcaster can solicit subscriptions from listeners, so that when new podcasts are released, they can automatically be delivered, or fed, to a subscriber’s computer or  mobile device usually through an RSS feed ( see Thing #4 for a refresher on setting up an RSS Feed)

Podcasts are now common on the web and are often audio files (for example recordings of radio programmes, lectures, readings, drama, interviews, audio diaries or music). However, Podcasts may also include video content as well.
When you come across a podcast on the web you can usually listen to it or view it, simply by clicking “play” or “listen”. However, because podcasts use RSS, you can also subscribe to them using a feed reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines.  This means that when ever there is a new episode of the podcast you will receive it in your feed reader. In fact. subscribing to a podcast is a bit like subscribing to a blog – except that the information you receive is in audio or video format rather than text and pictures.

There are some RSS feed readers which have been designed specifically for podcasts. These are called Podcatchers and often facilitate the transfer of podcasts to MP3 players. Probably the most well known podcatcher is iTunes. However, you can susbscribe to podcasts using an ordinary RSS feed reader such as the one you set up for Thing#4  just as easily and effectively.

How do I subscribe to a Podcast?

The program you would use to subscribe is called a ‘feedreader’, ‘aggregator’, or ‘podcatcher’ .

 There are a whole variety of podcatchers that you may like to investigate:

iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic  are some of the many available

There are podcasts on just about every subject under the sun so try and find ones which are of personal or professional interest to you.

Activities

1. Find some podcasts which interest you using one of sites listed above.

2. Subscribe to the feed for your favourite podcast in the RSS feed reader that you subscribed to in Thing#4

3. To find out more about podcasts and podcasting view “Podcasting in Plain English” on the Commoncraft Show.
4. Blog about your experience of podcasts.

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#16 – Online TV and Radio

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Online TV and Radio

The days of being restricted to viewing your favourite television programme on the days and times that the programme schedulers dictate are well and truly over.

 These days you can record TV shows easily for future viewing but you can also stream your favourite shows over the Internet or download them to watch on your laptop anywhere in the world.  The advent of BBC iplayer and a host of other online streaming applications have revolutionised our viewing habits.

There are many different online TV services available, but one of the best known in the UK is BBCiplayer.

 BBCiplayer               

 BBC iPlayer lets you catch up with radio and television programmes from the past week. If you are in the UK and connected to the internet you can:

View and listen to programmes from the previous seven days instantly on the website by clicking on them to play (called streaming).You can either watch or listen to a current show as it is transmitted live (the On Now facility) or catch up with a programme after broadcast -normally up to seven days.  This works on computers, games consoles and mobile phones – click here to see the list of compatible devices 

 Once you’ve found the programme you want to see, it’s easy to watch it. You must be connected to the internet, and then you can either simply click on a programme to watch it there and then – note, you will need fast broadband speeds to watch these programmes successfully.  If your broadband speeds are slow or if you have problems watching live TV then you can save it to your computer (download) to watch later or transfer to another compatible device such as a mobile phone or games console to watch it on that (sideloading). You can then watch it without the need to be connected to the internet. To save the programme you must have BBC iPlayer Desktop installed. You must be in the UK to stream or download a programme, though you can watch saved programmes anywhere in the world.

Programmes are generally available for seven days after broadcast. If you download the programme you then have up to 30 days to watch it before the licence expires.

 Online Radio : Streaming

When listening live or on demand to BBC Radio you will need to be connected to the internet – this is streaming. Your device will also need to have Flash installed.

Where possible, the BBC offers high-quality audio streams however, internet connections can be inconsistent at times. If you experience buffering when playing one of their streams, try selecting the lower bandwidth option at the bottom of the console.

Listening to radio

There’s two simple ways of picking the radio station or programme you want to listen to. 

1)    Go to the Radio homepage on iPlayer

2)    Type the station or programme name into the search box

When you select a station or programme to listen to a pop-out console will open and automatically start playing.

In the console you can also favourite programmes, edit stations and both make and see recommendations.

 Activity #16

 1. Save a programme onto your computer or other compatible device to play later (called downloading). For this you need to install BBC iPlayer Desktop. To do this your computer must support BBC iPlayer.  Programmes can be kept for 30 days; after that they can no longer be viewed as the programme licence will have expired.

 2.  Listen to a radio programme from the past seven days or to a current radio broadcast as it is transmitted live (the On Now facility). The option of a pop-out player allows you to continue listening while you browse other web pages.

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