Another common 21st century buzzword is ‘podcast’ which is a curious portmanteau of the words iPod and Broadcast; the iPod being, of course, a popular portable MP3 player developed by Apple.The term is used to describe a technology that allows a user to automatically download an audio file of some description for listening to later, and is no longer specifically related to the iPod as many software and hardware combinations can potentially be used.

The roots of podcasting most likely lie in the blogging world as it is the natural progression to broadcasting information via the written word.I’m sorry for chucking another buzzword in the form of ‘blogging’, but with technology suddenly becoming cool there are dozens of new ones making their way in to our vocabularies.A blog, for those of you that don’t know, is an online journal that is frequently updated and intended for the general public.I should also just mention a technology known as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) which provides a continuous feed detailing updates that have been made to a particular data source; a podcast site for example.

Traditional mediums such as television, radio or streaming Internet media give users little control over the time when they hear a recording whereas Podcasting allows users to download content directly on to a compatible device so that it can be listened to later.This is one of the reasons that it has become popular so quickly as in the modern world we like everything to be on demand and tailored to fit around our lifestyles, not vice versa.

Let’s say for example, that I catch the bus to work and I want something new and interesting to listen to everyday.By heading to a podcast directory such as www.podcast.net I can choose to subscribe to as many podcasts as I want from a list that runs in to the tens of thousands.Then, whenever I synchronise my iPod of other generic MP3 player with my computer any new downloads available from my podcast list will be downloaded for me to listen to later.The list of subjects is extensive and includes everything from the arts and entertainment to politics, computing, music, religion and the news.

Unless you want to download and manually copy podcasts on to your MP3 player as and when they are released, you will need some software such as the free program ‘Juice’ (http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net) to allow you to automate the process.Once the software is installed you are free to add as many podcasts as you feel that you will have time to listen to and Juice will from then on ensure that you’re kept up to date.Fortunately there are versions of Juice to run on Windows, Linux and Mac OS – it is very much a cross platform compatible application which is very much in keeping with the podcasting ethos of access for all.

A subject as diverse and with as much content as Podcasting cannot really be convincingly covered in one article so the best tip I can give you is that if you are at all interested then download the software, visit the directories and take some time to see what’s out there.Yes, there is a load of absolute rubbish but all you ever have to do is hit the unsubscribe button; as with many things in life you have to sift through the chaff to get at the wheat.

I do have one last tip I feel I should share – Subscribe to the Chris Moyles podcast; it’s fantastic!


About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.