Tag Archives: podcasts

Podfade (fading out and fading in)

I’m a bit sad that a bunch of my favourite podcasts have gone off the air recently:

  • CBC’s Search Engine announced they wouldn’t be renewed for a second season. Jesse’s still going to be posting new stuff come September, but the sophisticated news magazine about the interaction of the Internet and society is gone.
  • On Have Games Will Travel, Paul Tevis said that after his eleventy-first episode, he was going off to Rivendell to live with the elves stopping the show. He’ll still be posting an occasional audio diary thing, and he’s still on The Voice of the Revolution, but I’ll miss HGWT. Not that he’d been posting a whole lot, but his last few shows were actually really good.
  • And LugRadio just announced they’re breaking up the band after their upcoming LugRadio Live UK show. I’d only started listening to them around Christmas, looking for a Linux lifestyle show kind of like MacBreak Weekly, but for free software (and without all the iPhone bullshit). They were fun, and I’m sad they’re gonna be gone.

Also, while they’re not ending, Fear the Boot lost Luke, who was my favourite host. They’re changing things up quite a bit too, but I don’t begrudge them that.

So I’ve been adding some new feeds to fill the void. Some I added a while ago, but I’m on the lookout for new shows to fill similar niches. There are a few that look promising:

  • The Ubuntu UK Podcast doesn’t have the same sort of fun chemistry that LugRadio had, but I like the Ubuntu focus and they’ve got some fabulous interviews already. I’m trying other Linux podcasts, but a lot of them (I’m thinking specifically about the Linux Action Show here) are way too influenced by American talk radio and are incredibly obnoxious.
  • Master Plan is kind of interesting. I picked it up because Ryan Macklin did Have Master Will Plan with Paul Tevis a few months ago. I don’t have any aspirations towards game design, but he does have some neat discussions and interviews about how to make role playing work, so that’s much appreciated.
  • Writing Excuses is a great, 15 minute weekly podcast about writing. I picked it up after seeing Howard Taylor at Ad Astra. It’s fun, funny, thought-provoking and makes me want to write more. You can’t really ask for more than that from a writing podcast.
  • I’m trying out a few of CBC’s short summer series, including Between You and Me and Diet for a Hungry Planet (I ♥ Michael Pollan). Spark, which is off for the summer, but will return next season, is much more of a technology lifestyle show, compared to Search Engine’s technology analysis, but it has occasional interviews with Merlin Mann, who is awesome.

RCA Lyra 1020

My sister got a new iPod for Christmas, so she didn’t need her old MP3 player anymore. She gave it to me. She was having trouble getting music to work on it anyway. She couldn’t tell me why, but I can usually figure these things out.

[The RCA Lyra RD1020] It was an RCA Lyra 1020, vintage 2002 or so. The nice thing about it is, even though it’s only got 128MB of flash storage, it takes SD cards, and SD cards are dirt cheap. I’ve got a 2GB one lying around the house I’m not doing much with. I have no problem picking up more.

It’s a mass storage device too. I just have to plug it into a computer and drag files onto it. Supposedly it came with an old version of MusicMatch Jukebox, (now known as Yahoo! Music Jukebox), but I didn’t care about that. For one thing, I’m running Linux. For another, I’m not downloading anybody’s POS music management software just because they tell me to. Ever. I’ve tolerated iTunes with the iPod because it works rather well for podcasts. That doesn’t mean I ever liked it.

Anyway, as I said, this thing looked like it would be really great to use in lieu of my lost iPod, since I could plug it into Linux with a standard MP3 cable, or copy MP3 files directly onto an SD card and play them on this little device. Handy!

Except, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

You see, this is an MP3 player that doesn’t actually play MP3 files. It plays “.mpy” files. I don’t even know what an .mpy file is. The MusicMatch software it originally came with had a conversion plug-in so you could transcode MP3 files before uploading them. Apparently this was some lame-ass attempt to keep people from transferring MP3s between computers with this device. You know, because apparently it’s hardware manufacturers’ responsibility to make piracy difficult by making their hardware as inexplicably crippled as possible.

And I’m guessing that’s why my sister had a hard time getting this thing to play music. She got a new computer last year, and I guess she never thought to dust off the old CD she got with the Lyra and use it to copy music over. Which makes sense to me, since it’s so much easier to just drag and drop.

If this little bit of technological garbage has any saving grace at all, it is that it plays WMA files unmolested. However, I have no use for WMA files and I’d rather not have to go to the hassle of coming up with some way of converting podcasts before copying them over. So this little piece of crap is probably going to collect dust in a box somewhere until I get around to throwing it out.

Walking again

So I had my second appointment with the athletic therapist guy yesterday and he recommended that I get out walking again. I tried walking around at lunch last week, but ended up in pain the rest of the afternoon. But he did stuff to my back and that helped last time, so I decided to give it a try. So I walked to work today.

And, while I’m in a little bit of pain, I seem to be mostly okay. I’m debating going out for another walk at lunch. There’s a book I’d like to pick up. (I just did the smart thing and checked online with Chapters and the UW bookstore and neither have it in stock. So I’m better off staying here and ordering it online anyway. I’ll probably just walk up the street a bit for lunch).

I’m way behind on podcasts. I think I’ll just delete a bunch and start fresh. There are a few that I’d like to catch up on, like CBC’s Ideas. I added a few while I was laid up, too. CBC added a bunch, Paul Tevis has a new one that he’s doing about indie press games: The Voice of the Revolution, Penny Arcade started updating their “Downloadable Content” podcast again, which is hilarious, and I’m trying out a couple environmentalist things that may or may not stay in iTunes for long.

All in all, a good day so far. I feel like I’m finally getting things back on track.

Podcast-listening Update

I’ve pretty much stopped using the PSP for podcasts. I still really like the automatic downloads over WiFi. However, I’ve been playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. The automatic downloads don’t work when you’ve got a game running. And when you’re playing a game on the PSP, you’ve got it running all the time. You just put it to sleep when you’re not playing to save the nasty UMD load times. Switching in and out of games on the PSP doesn’t work so well.

So I’ve switched over to using the iTunes+iPod combo. It makes me feel dirty. I still want to switch over to iPod Linux (or Rockbox; I haven’t decided). The thing I like about iPod+iTunes, honestly, is the listen count. There’s a little blue dot beside the episodes I haven’t listened to (not, admittedly, started listening to, but usually if I’ve stopped, I didn’t really want to listen to it). So it’s easy to tell at a glance whether there’s new content there.

But whatever. Here are a few more podcasts I’ve taken to listening to… Let’s get the TWiT stuff out of the way first…

Macbreak Weekly
Okay, they spend way too much time talking about iPods and crap, but Merlinn Mann is funny. The episodes with him and Leo on are the best. They also point out nifty Mac software, which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. That’s one thing I have to hand to the Mac: it’s got a rich shareware ecosystem. Freeware/FOSS, not as much, sadly, but there’s lots of cool shareware.
Windows Weekly
In the interest of balance… It’s actually pretty good. Not as fun as MBW, maybe, since it’s just Paul and Leo chatting about what Microsoft did this week. Still, Paul isn’t a Microsoft shill, and they talk about interesting stuff sometimes. And iPods. Even on Windows Weekly. I don’t know why everybody always talks about iPods.
FLOSS Weekly
Just started up again this week. It really needs to find its groove, but one thing I think I want to get out of podcasts is listening to developers talking about development. And this touches on that. Speaking of which…
The Command Line
Just a guy with a microphone talking about hackerish stuff. He’s at his best when he’s talking about his own experiences and observations. Those parts are really good to listen to. He spends maybe a little too much time essentially going over Slashdot headlines. That’s… well, okay I guess. I’ve never been a huge fan of Slashdot.
Big Ideas
TVO’s lecture series is also available as a podcast. I don’t listen every week… Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it’s someone just droning at the front of the room, just like back in school. Sometimes they start off with “Webster’s dictionary defines _____ as…” and I hit the skip button. Sometimes it pisses me off with logical fallacies and sloppy thinking. But sometimes… sometimes it’s brilliant. Like the one a couple weeks ago that still has me thinking about stuff: the one about the guy who invented the stethoscope. It starts off like a boring lecture, but everything comes together in the end. And it’s fascinating.