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August 31, 2005

Cancel the Noise

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I don't get annoyed easily but here's something that does it for me. I'm walking down the street listening to an audiobook and I'm just getting to a really good part and WHOOOOSH, a big old bus rolls by and drowns 10 all-important seconds' worth of sound. Since I live in LA this actually tends to happen quite a bit. I'm pretty wedded to my iPod headphones but I've been thinking about buying a pair of those nice noise-cancelling headphones that they sell. I came across a good article from the Detroit Free Press that discusses the available options. Here's the link:


Some headphones that dampen noise can create sticky situations

The Shure E4c headphones sound great for my situation (not sure I'm ready to walk down the street the Bose headphones on!). Guess I've got something to add to the holiday wish list...

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August 25, 2005

LearnOutLoud.com Launches Internet's First Directory of Educational and Self-Development Podcasts

We've officially launched our new podcast directory. Here's the press release that went out today...

LearnOutLoud.com Launches Internet's First Directory of Educational and Self-Development Podcasts

LOS ANGELES, August 25th -- LearnOutLoud.com, an online resource for audio and video learning material, announces the launch of the Internet's first directory of educational and self-development podcasts (http://www.learnoutloud.com/podcasts). This directory contains hundreds of podcasts for people interested in learning about business, politics, science, technology and dozens of other subjects. Unlike other podcast directories, LearnOutLoud.com's directory is not a free-for-all directory. Rather, all podcasts have been hand-picked to ensure quality of content and production.

"Most other podcast directories have several thousand podcasts while we have several hundred," said LearnOutLoud.com CEO and Founder Jon Bischke. "We feel that's an important point of differentiation for us. People are busier than ever and we wanted to give them an easy way to find the cream of the crop when it comes to podcasts you can learn from. We feel that we've accomplished this with our directory."

Features of LearnOutLoud.com's podcast directory include 1-click subscriptions through Apple iTunes, the ability to listen to podcasts via streaming audio, hundreds of user-generated ratings and reviews and the inclusion of RSS feeds that allow users to easily download past episodes of a podcast. "We've tried to make the process of finding and listening to podcasts as user-friendly as possible," commented Bischke. "Whether you've been listening to podcasts for months or have yet to listen to your first podcast, we think you'll find that our directory will meet your needs."

Some of the popular podcasts featured in LearnOutLoud.com's directory include The Grape Radio Podcast (learn about wine), The Slacker Astronomy Podcast (learn about astronomy) and The Engadget Podcast (learn about the latest in technology). "We are trying to get the word out that listening to podcasts can be both enjoyable and educational," said Bischke. "Our directory is chock full of podcasts that will help you learn and keep you entertained at the same time."

Mr. Bischke will be available for interviews on podcasts and other programs to discuss the directory or anything else related to audio learning. Interested parties are encouraged to contact him at 1-800-550-6070 or by e-mailing press@learnoutloud.com.

About LearnOutLoud.com

LearnOutLoud.com (http://www.learnoutloud.com) is an online portal that provides visitors innovative and interesting learning alternatives. The company’s mission is to increase awareness of audio and video educational and self-development material and suggest ways to fit learning into everyday life (during commutes, while exercising, etc.). LearnOutLoud.com's catalog offers an extensive collection of non-fiction and classic fiction titles organized into categories such as business, language learning and self-development. Whether someone is looking to reach their potential, gain insight from classic literature or find inspiration for everyday life, LearnOutLoud.com will help to provide an answer to the question "What Do You Want to Learn Today?"

For more information email: press@learnoutloud.com or call toll free at 1-800-550-6070.
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August 24, 2005

A Calmer Commute

My mother clipped an article for from a recent Reader's Digest entitled "A Calmer Commute." It's a short article but really captures the essence of what we're trying to do with LearnOutLoud. Since I can't find an online version of the article, here are a couple of passages:

No wonder road rage grips America's highways. While the average commute is 26 minutes, some 3.4 million of us clock 90 minutes or more each way.

Wow...3.4 million people who spend an hour and a half commuting each way!

The article goes on to mention safer ways to spend your commute than talking on a cell phone. Here's one of them:

Improve your mind - Listen to the latest James Patterson thriller on CD or choose a business tome, such as T. Harv Eker's new Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. You could also learning to speak Italian. Berlitz's Rush Hour Series offers many languages.

Cool. We have Secrets of the Millionaire Mind up on our site here as well as many titles from Berlitz.

Improving your mind is indeed a fantastic way to spend your commute. Look no further than our catalog for almost 7,000 ways to do so. :)

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August 24, 2005

Podcasting Goes Legit

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This is a little late in coming but we wanted to congratulate Adam Curry and Ron Bloom on the venture capital (More than 8 Million Bucks Worth) they raised recently for PodShow. People are really starting to realize the very REAL potential for Podcasting and I'm glad you guys found some adventurous people to help you.

This is how great things happen: on the one year aniversary of his own podcast, the Daily Source Code, Curry remembered how his wife asked him originally how the hell he'd make any money through podcasting. The answer was simple: "I don't care, all I know is I like doing it". Its that sort of attitude that rocks the world. Here's to people that do something for the love of doing it. Most of the time, its the only way to get anything meaningful accomplished.

LearnOutLoud had taken great pains to showcase podcasts and we hope our directory and others like it only add to the landslide in audio content that's chosen by you and no one else.

For those interested in checking out the details on Curry and Bloom's deal, check this article out:

Podcast start-up creates music network

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August 15, 2005

NPR to Start Podcasting

Good news in the audio learning world. It appears that NPR is going to start podcasting many (all?) of its shows. It turns out that their agreement with Audible.com has expired and they've chosen not to renew it. So time will tell if NPR decides to make all of their shows available via podcasting and whether there will be a charge to subscribe. Currently they have a few shows available via podcast that you can find here and will be able to find soon in our podcast directory (still in beta).

Here are a couple of links for more info on this development:

http://www.tnl.net/blog/entry/NPR_defining_new_Podcast_strategy
http://www.droxy.com/2005/08/15/npr-to-start-podcasting/

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August 10, 2005

EyeQ

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How many hours a day do you think you spend reading? Between the newspaper, your favorite websites, stuff for work, the books you're currently reading...it's probably quite a bit. Most likely several hours a day for most people especially if you're one of these "knowledge workers" we always hear about.

So if you spend several hours a day doing something, wouldn't it make sense to become more efficient at it? Yet when it comes to reading speed most people take their current abilities as given. People tell themselves how they are "slow readers" while not taking into account that reading, like just about everything else, is a learned skill and one that can be improved upon.

You're probably just about to ask what we're doing talking about reading on an "audio and video learning" site. Well, here's the deal. I've tried a number of "speed reading" strategies in my life. Some worked well for certain types of reading but not so well for others. For example, one technique had me tracing the words with my index finger. That tended to get the monitor a little grungy during all the computer reading I do... :)

The method that I've found the most useful and easy to learn is the EyeQ reading program. It's not really a technique but rather a series of computer-based exercises that get you moving your eyes quicker and help you to filter out the words you do need to read from those you really don't (an important part of increasing reading speed). It's really easy to practice and because it's a computer-based course the improvements work for both online and offline reading.

EyeQ is a bit expensive but in my mind, it's well worth investment. Think about it. Let's say you spend three hours a day reading. If you can improve your reading speed by 50% using EyeQ (very doable based on my experience) then theoretically that's an extra hour every day that you're saving. That's more time to go to the gym, play with the kids, make love to your spouse (hey, whatever you want to do with your hour is none of my business!).

Seth just put up the EyeQ titles and I'd encourage you to check them out. I can't think of very many skills which are more useful to spend some time polishing.

EyeQ: The Deluxe Edition

EyeQ: The Personal Edition

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August 9, 2005

Travel Podcasts for the Restless Soul

I’ve recently subscribed to some Travel Podcasts, and I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about my favorites thus far. I've just started to get the travel bug in recent years after going over to Europe while I was in college. Now I live on the west coast and I've pretty much lived up to my vow to see as much of the state as I can. All I have left to see is Napa Valley, Death Valley and the Redwoods and I'll be satisfied. Anyway, this selection is by no means perfect, its just stuff I've responded to this week:

Live Ireland Podcast: I'm really into Ireland. I like it so much, I've been there twice (never been north though). Since I don't consider twice to be enough, I take what I can get living in California, as I do. This Podcast is good for anyone that's never been there, and for those like me that simply want to remember how great Ireland truly is. You hear about culture, meet various locals and get informed on different hotspots to be found in the Emerald Isle. I can almost breathe the air again.

Guzen Radio Podcast is hosted by an American living in Japan. At some point I want to set aside some time to get over to Japan, as I've been feeling drawn to the East recently. This podcast offers a great view of the country from the perspective of an anglo that has lived there for awhile and is in love with the culture. For another good Podcast set in Japan, I also recommend The Kyoto Podcast.

Interested in finding new places to hike? Deborah Lee Soltesz' Hiking with Deborah lets you take a tour with an avid hiker from Arizona. On each Podcast Soltesz takes listeners on sound seeing tours as she hikes various sites throughout the American Southwest. Deborah talks about what to expect when visiting a particular site, what weather conditions are like, and other details that any avid outdoors person would need when they think about roughing it in the desert. Deborah speaks with the kind of confidence you can only get from a seasoned hiker, and honestly I wish we could get a version of this Podcast for natural location. Imagine a Podcast that takes you Mountain Climbing or one that is recorded from a tree in the Rain Forest. Food for thought.

For something with a quirky bent, take a look at Mark Peacock's TravelCommons. A frequent traveler, Peacock records his thoughts on a given location from hotel room bathrooms. That's right; every Podcast comes to you from a different hotel bathroom. He figures the sound is best there I guess. In any event, this Podcast is a humorous look at what we all go through when we travel, and it gives insert here a chance to rant about things that excite and sometimes annoy us all when we visit new locales. It also brings in to focus the fact that when we are away from home, the most intimate places we can grab on to are hotel rooms, and what could be more specifically intimate than a bathroom?

Oh yes, on a related note, I just want to wish my parents a happy 27th anniversary as they travel through Alaska for the next two weeks. I wouldn't be anything without you!

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August 9, 2005

(Very) Beta Podcast Directory Live

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I wanted to invite all of you to check out the beta version of our new podcast directory. Here's the link:

http://www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory

We're planning to go "public" with this next week so please feel free to give us your feedback. It's definitely a bit rough around the edge but you should see some major improvements in the next week.

What's different about our podcast directory that separates it from the numerous other podcast directories on the Net? I'll offer a few things:

1. We only list educational and self-development podcasts. Like I blogged about last week, we're not trying to be everything to everybody. Rather we're trying to find the cream of the crop in terms of podcasts that are not only interesting to listen to but also informative and fulfilling. I don't know of anyone else doing this.

2. We've hand-selected all of these podcasts. We're not just listing anything everybody sends us. We've literally listened to hundreds (is it up to thousands yet?) of podcasts to find the "best of the best." So the total number of podcasts is a good deal lower than most of the directories. That's by design. As one of our current ads states "We cut through the crap so you don't have to."

3. We're the first people (that I'm aware of) who are tying together podcasts and audiobooks. We figure this makes sense since a person interested in a podcast about wine is probably also interested in an audiobook about wine. At LearnOutLoud.com that's only a click away.

So that's our secret sauce. We hope you enjoy. So here's the link again:

http://www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory

Please give us some feedback by posting in the forum link below. Thanks!

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August 7, 2005

PodTech.net: An Outstanding Podcast

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I've probably listened to a good 100 different podcasts or so by now. The majority are OK but nothing to really write home about. And I've probably subscribed a good dozen or so of them that I enjoyed. But only a couple of times have I listened to a podcast that was so good that I went back and listened to every single old episode. And that's exactly what I did for the PodTech.net podcast.

The Podtech.net InfoTalk Series podcast (that's a mouthful!) covers a lot of the happenings in Silicon Valley including who is investing in what and where technology is headed. If you have any interest in technology or business I think you'll really dig this one. The host (John Furrier) has managed to get some amazing guests on the show. I recently listened to episodes where he interviewed Mark Cuban, founder of Broadcast.com and current owner of the Dallas Mavericks. There's another podcast with former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger that I'm looking forward to listening to.

Anyway, I just had to pass this along because it's the perfect example of the power of podcasting. When I can fire up the iPod in my truck and listen to people like Cuban and Berger and Adam Curry and Robert Scoble talk about what's coming dow the pipe in technology then I'm a pretty happy camper. Sure beats crap talk radio...

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August 5, 2005

Three Leaf Group

Stumbled upon this article today about Three Leaf Group, a company that rents motivational and training audiobooks to corporate businesses. This is an interesting idea and something that we've contemplated doing in the future. Companies spend billions of dollars each year to train their employees but a huge untapped potential for development exists in commute times. To allow salespeople, executives, etc. to get "trained" on their way to and from work seems to me like somewhat of a no-brainer.

It's truly a win-win. Audio courses are cheap enough that the company gets a lot of bang for the buck. Employees get something to listen to that they might not normally shell out the cash for and that helps to make their commute more enjoyable. Companies have been buying books for their employees for years. Why not do the same with audio?

To read the entire text of this article, click the URL below:

Audio books thrive in downsizing economy

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