odd-lot thoughts

Monday, December 06, 2004

Podcatching without an iPod

I don't have an iPod, and I've got better things to spend that kind of money on. So until I get a raise, here's what I do to find and automatically download podcasts.

Finding podcasts
Two of the best sources for podcasts are Podcast Alley and ipodder.

ipodder has an extensive directory, maintained by volunteers, arranged by category. This is the site started by two of the main instigators of the podcasting phenomenon, Dave Winer and Adam Curry. At ipodder, you'll find the resources they mention in their podcasts.

However, Podcast Alley is the better site for folks new to podcasting. What I like about this site is that there are brief descriptions of the podcasts. That way, I can get an idea of whether or not I'd like to subscribe to that podcast feed.

Podcast Alley also has a good overview of the available software for automating downloads of podcasts.

Downloading podcasts
The best way to get podcasts is, as with blogs, through an aggregator. Sure, you can go to every site you like, and check daily and then manually hit the download link. But that's heavy lifting, in my opinion. Best to find the podcasts you like and put them all together in one tool which searches, and then downloads into a directory you specify.

I use Doppler. It's a very user-friendly and free application. And what I really like about it is that I can tell it to sync content to my Windows media player. This automatically puts the titles into my media library, so I don't have to go hunting.

Before you start downloading using Doppler, it's important to set the options. Go to Tools, Options from the menu. First select the folder into which you'd like the mp3 files downloaded. Then, to add a feed, here's what I do:
  1. Get the URL of a feed to add.
  2. Click the Add a Feed button.
  3. Copy the URL into the URL field.
  4. Check the box for "Only download last ___ podcasts, and change the number to "1."
  5. Click "Enable playlist support."
  6. Check the box for "Add to Microsoft Windows Media Player."

That's it!

Now, one thing I haven't seen or even heard mention of in any podcast aggregators, is an easy way to delete files once you've heard them. That still requires heavy lifting, unfortunately.

Next time I'll write about my experiences with my crappy little Otis player. It does podcasts, after a fashion.


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