Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Other podcatchers than iTunes (1)

Here is a field I have only just begun to explore: alternatives to iTunes for obtaining your podcasts. So, let me start to solicit any advice you readers can give. What catcher do you use, what catcher have you discarded? What should a catcher have in order to appeal to you?

Ever since I began listening to podcasts I have been using iTunes, but now I have begun to try out two other clients: Juice and gPodder. Juice was the first one I tried, since it was the first one I'd hear about when alternatives to iTunes were discussed. Yet, I prefer gPodder as it is more easy to use. I didn't have to search for elementary functions such as adding subscriptions and initiating download. I also very much appreciated what happened upon importing an OPML file with loads of subscriptions: gPodder allowed me to check which podcasts on the list I wished to add. Note that gPodder also knows to communicate (in principle) with iPod.

What neither client offers and is also sorely missing (for me) in iTunes is the possibility to categorize podcasts and stick them in folders. This is basic functionality that general rss readers offer and thus allow to be subscribed to a very large number of feeds and stay organized. I'll have to study more catchers, maybe with the help of this Podcatcher Matrix

Another option for podcatching is to go on-line. In stead of having a local client, one can setup a personal page with your podcasts. This allows you to access the same podcast collection from different computers, which would be ideal for users who use more than one computer to connect their player to. Such service is given at Odeo and Podnova. At Odeo I set up an account and found the site ot be slow and the procedure faulty and bothersome. The whole idea of having to manage yet another profile (in addition to Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, StumbleUpon, The Podcast Parlor etc etc etc) bothers ma and I was charmed by the fast, simple and anonymous solution at Podtopia: just enter the feed and there you go. But then: how much better is that than just directly downloading from the feed or the podcast's website?

More instructions:
Useful tools for podcast listeners,
Devising your own podcast feed - Huffduffer,
Suggestion for the advanced podcast listener,
What is RSS - Read Anne is a Man automatically.

The earliest history - A Story of India (1)

My ongoing plea for more podcasts on the history on India resulted in a reference to the BBC series The Story of India by Michael Wood that was broadcast 2 years ago and can be viewed on Google Videos. Here is part one, with the earliest history.

The items that are touched here are the pre-Indus Valley time and a point is made about humanity spreading from India which was entirely new to me. The idea is that man first came out of Africa to South India and from there spread all over the world. The next item is of course the Indus Valley civilization. Next is the Aryan invasion and then the Mahabharata.

As much as this is truly exquisite material and beautifully brought, it has the romanticism and superficiality of video all over it. If you reduce this material to its audio it is a very shallow podcast and it contains grand statements about India that demand further elaboration, from the Out of India thesis to the ancient roots and meaning of the Vedic texts. I understand why my reader prefers this series over the UCLA lectures by Vinay Lal, because it refrains from the ongoing politicization of India's history. Yet, Lal's course has made me aware once again of the fact that historical narrative can be political and it makes me wonder about the one-liners in this BBC series.

More History of India:
History of India - the search goes on,
8 podcasts I listened to,
History of India or Europe?
History of India.