Lying Media Bastards

February 11, 2005

Pod People

Recently purchased an mp3 player (don’t know how it could have taken so long, combining my love of music and for technogeekery), and I feel I have some worthy tips to give to people who might start looking to buy one themselves.

1) Size. Obviously, you want to buy one with enough storage space to hold the amount of music that you’re looking to carry with you. The average rule of thumb is that one minute of mp3 music takes about one megabyte of storage space, and most popular songs are about 3-5 minutes long. If you just want something to listen to while bopping around town, I think that one of the cheaper 5 gigabyte models would work fine. If you want to store your large record collection, I think you’d need a 20+ gig model.

2) File Transfer. Surprisingly important issue. To transfer songs from your computer to your iPod, you have to open up the proprietary program iTunes, put all the songs you want to transfer into a specific file folder, plug your iPod into your computer, and then all the songs are supposed to automatically migrate. My brother bought an iPod last month, and no matter how he tried, his songs would not transfer and he had to return the damn thing. Due to this possible hang-up– not being able to put mp3s on your mp3 player–, I have to recommend a player that puts file transfer in your hands. You can plug in some players and then just drag and drop the songs like the player was an extra hard drive, and not have to rely on an opaque process by some mysterious software to get the job done.

Also, I found out by complete serendipity that most mp3 players “require” you to use a USB 2.0 port (or Firewire, of course) for file transfer. My elderly computer only had a USB 1.0 port, and my brother’s brand new laptop only had a USB 1.0 port. The guy at the iPod store said that file transfer for the 2.0 was “like half a second per song”, while the 1.0 was “3-5 minutes per song”. If you’re trying to upload your record collection, that makes a difference. Luckily, you can install 2.0 ports pretty cheap (I got a card for my desktop for about $15, we got one for my brother’s laptop for about $25).

3) Bulk. In my mind, only important if you need to fit your player into a pocket, or if you’re going to use it for jogging. The smallest players can be the size of a snail’s shell, the largest are usually no bigger than an man’s overstuffed wallet.

4) Extra Features. This is what ended up making my choice. Found a model with a built-in microphone and a “line-in” feature that would allow me to record interviews (or whatever) directly to mp3. Once that idea entered my head, it was hard to give much thought to other players.

Now, going back to my “pod” title, I think I’ve finally unraveled the mystery of how to podcast.

What you need:

1) an mp3 file
2) a webhost to store your mp3 file
3) an RSS feed

The first two should be obvious. The mp3 file is your radio show, and and the webhost is the paid-for or free site that will allow you to upload your file.

The RSS feed is a little trickier. RSS is essentially a way for frequently-updated websites (mainly news sites and blogs) to notify people that a site has been changed. If you have an RSS-reader program, you can subscribe to multiple RSS feeds and have a little window full of the latest headlines, which you can then click on and read the contents.

Podcasting is basically just an RSS feed that says “here’s the latest edition of Radio Show X.” And if you have the right software and devices, it’s an RSS feed that also says “hey, let me download the latest show straight to your mp3 player so you can listen to it on the way to work.”

Most blogs create RSS feeds automatically (although I’m told that podcasting requires a “RSS 2.0″ feed).

So essentially, you can just set up a blog, activate the RSS feed, upload and link to your mp3s, and bam.

My absolute only remaining concern is whether or not the podcasting RSS feed needs to be exclusively podcasts/links to mp3s, or if I can just post entries with the links into my regular blog and go from there. Li’l help?

Posted by Jake on February 11, 2005 10:27 am

3 Comments »

  1. I was very excited when I heard about the mic input, thinking I could finally justify the cost. I needed to replace my minidisc and I was
    hoping I could just buy the ipod.
    Unfortunately, the quality of the recording is pretty poor - good enough for anything not broadcast, though.
    Guess I’ll have to create another excuse to buy one : )

    Comment by pipistrelle — February 11, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  2. Odd Pip. My friend got a microphone ($40) for his iPod and recorded a small class’s lectures from the other side and we can hear the marker squeaking on the board.

    I live by my Dell Jukebox, since iPod messes with iTunes and has that user/computer limit thing. (plus is comparitivly cheaper. Heck the 5gig iPods go for the 15 DJ’s, though size is a factor for those mini’s). Podcasting sounds so great.

    Comment by Brian/Buddy — February 11, 2005 @ 1:26 pm

  3. Hosting podcast files. Globat.com offers 75 GB of transfer a month for $4.95, plus 5 GB of storage. Way cheap.

    RSS feed. The easiest way to do this is to use a blog that supports RSS and will take enclosures in the RSS. Most, if not all, major blog software does this for you.

    MP3 player. I got an IRiver 20 GB with internal mic and radio for $299 from Amazon and have recorded three podcasts so far with it.

    My blog has an intro to podcasting.
    http://www.polizeros.com/stories/2005/02/02/whatIsPodcasting.html

    Comment by Bob Morris — February 11, 2005 @ 5:24 pm

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