I just realized that I’ve not described how I listen to podcasts, recorded audio, and live radio broadcasts on my phone.
My first streaming audio experience was in 2000 with the Windows-based MP3 player program called Winamp. Its Shoutcast network of streaming sites is built upon the traditional broadcast model: content on each channel is delivered in a continuous stream. A listener may not demand or replay any content. There are (or were) thousands of Shoutcast channels. I still occasionally listen to Shoutcast streams on my phone using Winamp for Android (which may no longer be available). I wrote an article or two about Winamp’s latter day rough sledding.
Content on demand
I began listening to both live and pre-recorded audio with an older version of TuneIn. Its creator sold TuneIn to a company that has ruined it with too many ads and unnecessary “features”. I’ve stored an early version for Android. This older version is much better than the new version that’s available in the Android Play Store. If you have an Android device, feel free to download and install my version.
When Tunein began to degrade, I turned to Podcast Addict on my Android phone. It’s very flexible, and its many options can intimidate a first-time user. Have patience. Its power is worth climbing the learning curve. I now use Podcast Addict for most of my phone-based audio listening.
Tip: If one of these programs responds slowly, go to Android Settings, More, Application management. Select the sluggish program. Press the Force stop button. Press the Clear Cache button. Restart the program.
I planned to listen to two NYC-based podcasts for tech geeks tonight, but their server was unreachable. Then it dawned on me: their server is located in lower Manhattan. Powerless lower Manhattan, thanks to the flooding caused by hurricane Sandy.
For me, having podcasts in my pocket is the smartphone’s killer app.
I’ve mentioned that I like to listen to audio as I program computers. (One exception: when I must concentrate on a stubborn problem, I need silence.) With my new Android phone, I can listen as I take walks, as well. At the moment, I’m listening to a 15-minute long biographical sketch of mathematician Joseph Fourier.
This podcast is part of BBC’s A Brief History of Mathematics. I found this series within the History section of the free BBC Podcasts app that I downloaded from the Google Play Store. The BBC Podcasts app is loaded with podcasts, neatly arranged by category. So far, I’ve stuck with the factual, scientific, and historical ones. It’s a goldmine that costs nothing.
I’ve also been listening to the technology podcasts that are available within the Tunein app. These include Michio Kaku’s Explorations in Science, The Wall Street Journal’s Technology Marketplace Report, etc. You can download the Tunein app from the Google Play Store, as well.
I’m overjoyed to have stumbled upon these podcast apps, because (as you may have guessed) the program content that I like to listen to isn’t standard broadcast fare. For me, the promise of “content on demand” has been fulfilled. I’m grateful to these podcasters for making this material available.
If you have an iPhone, I’d guess that the same apps are available from the iTunes store.
Sometime recently (I don’t know exactly when) streamingradioguide.com was resurrected, with these notes on its front page:
The expenses of providing this service paid by “Art Stone”
Hooray! All the budget problems are solved.
It’s good to see it back online.
Each site has advantages and each site chooses to organize radio shows differently. Tunein.com offers pre-recorded audio content that streamingradioguide.com doesn’t offer, and streamingradioguide.com displays current status of radio streams better than tunein.com does. Streamingradioguide.com also seems a bit more idiosyncratic than tunein.com.
I guess that the absence of streamingradioguide.com has shown how fickle I am: I very quickly learned to like tunein.com just fine. (Rather than “fickle”, maybe I should cast a better light and use the word “flexible”. Yeah, that’s the ticket!)
I enjoy listening to podcasts while I work on computers. My favorite content is technical.
I have a few gripes with many podcasts that are aimed at techies:
Some podcasters imagine that listeners actually care about the podcasters’ personal lives. As a listener, I couldn’t care less about any podcaster’s personal life; discussion of a podcaster’s personal life is a waste of MY time and avoidance of the podcaster’s responsibility to convey information.
Many podcasters imagine that their all too obvious jokes are funny, and often laugh at their own lame jokes. Here’s a news flash for podcasting entrepreneur Leo Laporte: you are not a reincarnation of Johnny Carson . . . and lose that forced laugh.
Some podcasters imagine that their taste in music is so erudite and/or hip, that their listeners should be subjected to extended musical performances by their favorite Yanni wannabe.
Most of these faults are the result of the illusion conveyed by a microphone that your every thought, observation, and experience is worthy of broadcasting to the world. Humility, a rare trait, is essential to a good podcaster.
Don’t despair, dear reader. Good technical podcasts do exist. My favorite is Steve Gibson’s Security Now (despite Mr. Laporte’s participation), followed by Stratford University’s Tech Talk, WBAI’s Personal Computer Show, and 2600’s Off The Wall. None of these is perfect, but (with the occasional exception of the Personal Computer Show’s irritating NYC accents, personalities, and loony politics), they contain an acceptable ratio of valuable content to dreck.
Do you have a favorite tech podcast? Please tell us about it.