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July 31, 2005

A couple of recent interesting articles...

Cool article over the weekend in the L.A. Times:

Does radio have a future?

This quote in particular caught my attention:

"There's a whole generation that has grown up without loving radio," Del Colliano said. "The next class of high school graduates doesn't know what radio is, doesn't care and doesn't want it. One student told me recently we play what we want — it's called an iPod."

Seems to bode well for the future of customized audio content (including spoken word content) eh?

This article was also interesting:

Online audio book leader faces a tough future

A couple of noteworthy items:

For example, XM and Audible next year plan to market a new handheld device that can play programs from the satellite radio service and Audible's audio versions of books and newspapers.
Amazon remains a partner, but it is preparing its own audio section with a wider selection and "one-click shopping," spokeswoman Patty Smith said.

I love that Amazon will be expanding its audio section. In my mind this a pie rapidly getting bigger and as more people start to consume information via audio I expect that growth to accelerate. Amazon's interest in the space helps to validate this. I'm very excited to see what they'll unveil.

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July 27, 2005

Self-playing audio books

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I came across this interesting press release today. It seems that a company named Findaway is going to start offering a self-playing digital audio books. It's an interesting concept. I couldn't find a lot of information on their website but my guess is that the way this works is that you buy a cassette-type package, plug your headphones in and push play.

The advantage of this is that you're able to put a lot more information in a smaller space. A book that might normally be 10 CDs or cassettes could easily be consolidated into a player that fits into your pocket. Another advantage is that they could cater to people who would love to listen to digital audio books but who aren't versed enough in technology to figure out an iPod, Audible.com, etc.

The disadvantage in my mind has to do with cost and the disposable nature of the products. Will these products be priced comparably with CD/cassettes/digital downloads? If not, I'm not sure whether customers would pay much of a premium. And what happens when you finish a title?

Anyway, it's a creative idea worth keeping an eye on. Who knows, maybe these will be the rage someday...

For more information on the Playaway, click here.

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July 26, 2005

Spiritual Podcasts

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I've decided to showcase a few spiritual podcasts for people that may want to utilize their mp3 players as a source of daily inspiration. Bear in mind that this is a very broad selection of podcasts that will give a taste of what I've found lately. I've gone over the whole itunes religion directory and so far these are the ones I've subscribed to. Feel free to suggest some more that you've found; I'm really starting to develop an interest in theology lately and I'm hungry for different resources. Here's my list in particular order:

  • A Time for Choices is hosted by New Dimension's Michael Toms. He talks with leading minds in various fields about how to confront the world's burning issues from a spiritual perspective. Toms isn't really known for pushing one religion in particular and I would recommend this one to people that are looking for a more "rounded" (I don't know what I mean by that other than that it isn't as secular are mainstream talk shows) take on current world events.
  • Vatican Radio One-O-Five: This podcast came about primarily due to the efforts of Roderick Vonhogen from the Catholic Insider. This show is broadcast directly from the Vatican and is trying to take advantage of the new reach podcasting has allowed for evangelism all over the world. To listen directly to what is happening currently in the world of the Catholic Church, there really isn't any better place to go.
  • Zencast is a weekly podcast that features recordings of high quality lectures that focus on various aspects of the Dharma and Zen Practice. I first started listening with the podcast that featured Thich Nhat Hanh speaking in Vietnam. For people that are interested in strengthening their understanding of zen, or for those that are just starting to learn more about this religion, I would recommend this podcast first and foremost!
  • Consciousness is a podcast that takes on the very idea of how our brains function beyond the body. You'll hear lectures on various metaphysical issues, and even find a great talk film director David Lynch gave on what meditation has done for him personally. This podcast is for anyone that is wants to know about neurological scientific breakthroughs, ideas of world peace, how the arts can expand our minds, and anything that has to do with outer boundaries of thought.
  • Alt.Muslim.Review is a somewhat irreverent yet very necessary look at what is happening in the world of Islam. It has a talk show format, and its hosted by young Muslims that are not only passionate about spreading the word on their religion, but want to do it in a way that is accessible to people of all faiths. This is a great entry point into a world I know many people wish to have more exposure to, and I can assure you that it’s a blast to listen to.
  • Finally there's the RevTim Podcast, a fun podcast hosted by a minister in the San Francisco area. Tim talks with people about their religious experience, tries to give listeners a daily dose of Christian inspiration and puts it all together in a contemporary package that is not in any way preachy. I think one of the best things about this podcast is Tim himself, he's an effective moderator and guide to a world may think they already know. I encourage people to listen to this chiefly for its entertainment value first, to be honest.

     

    July 24, 2005

    Anthony de Mello

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    I've been reading (yes, reading not listening...) a bit of Anthony de Mello's "Awareness" this weekend and all I can say is "wow." It's one of the more remarkable books that I've read in a while. Here are a few passages from the portion I've read that stood out for me:

    You never trust anyone. You only trust your judgment about that person.

    Every new idea, every great idea, when it first began was in a minority of one.

    Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism.

    Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is loss of the known.

    Good stuff eh?

    If you're interested in finding some audio and video de Mello titles, Seth just put up a bunch on our site. Here's the link:

    Anthony de Mello Audio and Video

    In addition, Wikipedia has a brief blurb on de Mello here. And if you're interested in reading Awareness, you pick it up here.

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    July 21, 2005

    Getting Things Done with David Allen

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    I had the incredible privilege today of attending a David Allen seminar entitled Getting Things Done: The RoadMap. For those of you who aren't familiar with David Allen, the best description for him is probably a "personal productivity guru." He has written a couple of best-selling books entitled Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything.

    What exactly is a personal productivity guru you might ask? Well, David's mission is to help people get "meaningful things done with truly the least amount of invested attention and energy." In other words, rather than pumping people up to work harder, David is all about getting people to work smarter. Here is a sampling of some key things he said today:

    "Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to concentrate and your ability to concentrate is directly proportional to your ability to eliminate distraction."

    "If you don't give things that have your attention the appropriate attention, they will demand more of your attention than they deserve."

    "You can only feel good about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing."

    The best description I could wrap around it would be "corporate Zen." Indeed, Allen talks about the power of freeing up your psychic RAM. In tangible terms, let's say that you know you have to stop by the cleaners on your way home from work. If you don't write that down/put it in your Blackberry/etc. a portion of your mental bandwidth is consumed throughout the entire day by remembering that you need to go to cleaners. That doesn's sound that bad until you realize that you probably have 200-300 similar things that you're holding onto at any given time. And what that ends up meaning is that a significant portion of your mental energy that should be devoted to problem solving and creativity is focused on relatively pointless stuff like remembering that you need to go to the cleaners.

    David has a methodology for getting all of this stuff out of your head and into a system that will help ensure that you're using the minimum amount of pyschic RAM on mundane details. It's a really effective system that has been used by thousands of business executives around the world.

    If you're interested in finding out more information about David Allen and the Getting Things Done system, check out the audiobooks we have available on LearnOutLoud.com. Here are the links:

    Getting Things Done (CD, cassette, digital download)
    Getting Things Done Fast (CD, cassette)
    Ready for Anything (Abridged on CD, cassette, digital download)
    Ready for Anything (Unabridged on CD)

    For additional information on David Allen check out his website or this recent article in Wired Magazine.


     

    July 20, 2005

    The Alkalarian Diet

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    If you haven't heard of the alkalarian diet yet, you're not alone. While not nearly as well-known as Atkins or South Beach, the alkalarian diet seems to make a lot of sense. The basic premise behind the alkalarian diet is that many health conditions in the body are caused by acid. Acid comes from foods that contain a lot of sugar, animal products, etc. or from other substances like alcohol, tobacco, etc. It can also come from stress and excessive exercise (think "lactic acid buildup").

    This does seem to make sense because if you look at people who don't eat well, stay in shape, etc., they tend to require the use of lots of antacids. Approximately 40 million people in the use suffer from heartburn and Prilosec and Nexium, two heartburn medications, are among the most prescibed drugs, generating billions of dollars per year in revenue(*).

    In order to counteract the effects of acid, the alkalarian diet promotes switching to more alkalizing foods (e.g., green vegetables, almonds, etc.) and avoiding those foods which cause a lot of acid. It seems to make a lot of sense but also isn't the easiest diet to adhere to. I've been looking into this diet a lot lately and wanted to share some audio resources on the subject.

    Living Health - This is a Tony Robbins course on health which is a great place to start if you're interested in finding out more about the alkalarian diet. I've posted my review of this course as well.

    A Vision Made Real Volumes One and Two - This is a 24 CD set from Dr. Robert Young, one of the pioneers of the alkalarian diet. I haven't listened to these yet but would like to soon.

    Health Talk for Diabetes
    and Health Talk for Weight Loss - A little cheaper way to get introduced to Dr. Young.

    There are also a number of videos on the subject that you might want to check out:

    Imotion
    Back to the House of Health 2
    The pH Miracle Video
    Shopping with Shelley

    Try as I might I couldn't find any podcasts on the subject. Maybe one will crop up soon...

    Anyway, feel free to check out the resources above and remember that there are a lot more titles (90 at last count) on the subject of food in our Diet and Nutrition section. Bon appetit!

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    July 19, 2005

    The Death of Podcasting

    I just read this blog today over at Steve Gilmor's Inforouter and thought many of you that are now getting into the podcasting community would find it pretty funny. The "corporatization" of podcasting due to iTunes recent support has caused quite a bit of speculation as to what the future holds for the medium. I do think the hype will burn off and the people that have been doing it from the beginning will stick around for the long haul. Its just like any other new thing, the people that are into it stay into it and the fair-weather fans get bored and go to the next thing.

    To be honest, there are other more pertinent internet deaths to worry about lately. For instance, Rupert Murdoch is presently cutting MySpace.com's soul from its body with a scythe (which in turn was borrowed from Death himself; how else do you think the man has lived that long?).

    Podcasting has a way to go before we can call it a dead trend, but that doesn't mean it isn't vulnerable to attack. It's a very young medium and when the corporate claw begins to dig in, people get nervous. It's terrible, because corporate RADIO is a TREND that I would like to see DIE, but you can't manufacture these things (unless you're in the media).

    Discuss this post in the LearnOutLoud.com Forums!

     

    July 18, 2005

    Podcasts that Focus on College Hopefuls

    I just wanted to make note that I put up a series of podcasts for college hopefuls that may be useful for all you recent high school grads out there. These are podcasts put out by Thomson Peterson, and I've found them to be really accessible and highly professional. I showcase these as a taste of the podcasts I'm gradually making available via LearnOutLoud. Look at what people are doing and imagine the potential for podcasting as an educational medium! I'm really excited that we're starting to support educational podcasts and I hope that you find these shows as valuable as I have. Keep looking, I'm adding these podcasts daily. Here are the three Thomson Podcast I recommend:

  • Get an Edge on Tests Podcast.
  • Get In To College Podcast.
  • Get Money for College Podcast.

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    July 17, 2005

    Teaching Company Offers Audio Downloads

    I love the Teaching Company. For anyone unaware they publisher and sell lecture courses from the nation's best university professors on CD, Cassette, DVD, VHS, and now for a few select courses Audio Download! Here are the courses available for audio download:

    American Civil War
    American Identity
    Books That Have Made History
    Chamber Music of Mozart
    Classical Mythology
    Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography
    Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition
    History of Ancient Egypt
    How to Listen to and Understand Great Music
    Peoples and Cultures of the World
    Plato's Republic
    Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World
    Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations
    Story of Human Language

    And they appear to be adding more courses for download every day so I'll update this list. You can download these courses as MP3s or as MPEG-4 which makes the files bookmarkable on your iPod. I bought "Peoples and Cultures of the World" in MPEG-4 format and the lectures showed up in the Audiobooks section of my iPod. My only qualm was that each lecture showed up separately there so you can bookmark each lecture individually but you have to remember which lecture you were on. I prefer what Audible.com does with the Barnes & Noble Portable Professor series where the course is listed as a whole within your Audiobooks section and then the file is broken up into chapters according to each lecture and you are able to bookmark the course as a whole. But other than that I think it's awesome that the Teaching Company has made the leap to the digital realm with their courses and I plan to buy and download many more.

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    July 17, 2005

    Tiger Woods Wins the British Open

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    He's done it again. Earlier today Tiger Woods won the British Open by 5 shots (it didn't even seem that close) and became only the second player (Jack Nicklaus was the other) to win the career Grand Slam twice. It was his 10th major championship victory and even more evidence that Tiger is world's greatest golfer...if not the greatest golfer of all time.

    We have a few Tiger-related audio and video titles up on the site that I wanted to let you know about:

    Tiger: The Authorized DVD Collection - I just watched the first disc of this a couple of days ago and it's awesome. If you're a fan of Tiger at all you'll love it. It's available for purchase through Amazon or for rental through Netflix.

    How I Play Golf - How I Play Golf is a great book and if the audio version is anything like it then it's a winner. An instructional booklet is included with this title.

    In Search of Tiger - This one has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while. I think it might be time to fire it up. It's available on audio CD, cassette and mp3-CD.

    With golf season in full swing (no pun intended), be sure to check out all of the golf audio and video learning products at the following URL:

    http://www.learnoutloud.com/Catalog/Sports-and-Hobbies/Golf

    Oh, and if you weren't watching the Open this morning you probably missed the new Tiger Woods commercial. It's one of the cooler things I've seen lately. Here's the URL so you can check it out:

    http://www.nike.com/nikegolf/flash_reg.jhtml?.htm

    (Click on "Tiger Woods TV Spot" and then click on "Watch the TV Spot".)

    Cool huh?

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