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September 30, 2005

Podcast Show Notes: September 30th, 2005

Audio Learning Revolution Podcast for September 26th, 2005

  • Intro Music - "Delta" by Delta de Dirac from garageband.com

  • Introduction
    - Direct Link to the show
    - Link to Feeds for Audio Learning Revolution podcasts
    - Link to LearnOutLoud.com Podcast Directory
    - Comments or Questions about the Podcast directory E-mail - Link to Web Hosting Show Podcast.

  • Interlude Music - "Simon'samba by Fractal Quintet from garageband.com

  • Arts & Entertainment Podcasts
    - Link to Arts & Entertainment Podcast Category Page.
    - Link to Ebert & Roeper Podcast
    - Link to Cinecast Poddcast
    - Link to NPR movie podcasts
    - Link to KCRW podcasts
    - Link to Museum of Modern Art podcast
    - Link to Art Mob's MOMA podcast
    - Link to Sound of Young America podcast
    - Link to the Fishko Files podcast

  • Technology Podcasts
    - Link to Technology podcast category page
    - Link to THIS week in TECH podcast
    - Link to the Diggnation podcast
    - Link to Endgadget podcast

  • Business Podcasts
    - Link to Busines podcast category page
    - Link to Brain Brew podcast
    - Link to the Infotalk podcast
    - Link to the Marketing Online podcast

  • Interlude Music - "Funk Bus by The Band That Saved the World from garageband.com

  • Travel Podcasts
    - Link to Red Eye Radio
    - Link to Amateur Travel podcast
    - Link to Travelcommons podcast

  • Biography Podcasts
    - Link to Final Curtain podcast
    - Link to Best of Youth Radio podcast
    - Link to Australian Broadcasting Company podcasts

  • Outro - "Sylvia by La Tribu from garageband.com

 

September 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Podcasting!

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According to Rex Hammock at rexblog.com today is podcasting's first birthday. It was hardly the first time that podcasting was done but is a cool line in the sand that tracks back to a September 28th, 2004 overview of podcasting entry on Doc Searls' blog. Here's something pretty amazing. A year ago a Google search of podcasting produced 24 results. Today it produces over 60 million. If that isn't rapid adoption I don't know what is. It's incredible how much difference a year can make huh?

Anyway, happy birthday to podcasting. I can't wait to see what the next year holds for you!

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September 28, 2005

LearnOutLoud.com on the Airwaves

I did a couple of podcast interviews recently about LearnOutLoud.com and life in general. It's a great way to spread the gospel of audio learning. If you're interested in checking them out here are the links. Thanks to Chuck and Bill (two great guys!) for having me on.

Interview on The User Group Report with Chuck Joiner
Interview on The You Are the Guest Podcast with Bill Grady

Here are links to these two podcasts in our directory if you're interested in subscribing/listening to past episodes/writing a review/etc.

The User Group Report Podcast
You Are The Guest Podcast

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September 27, 2005

M. Scott Peck Passes Away

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Some sad news to report. M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, passed away last weekend. About a year ago I listened to his audio book Golf and the Spirit and was touched by Peck's insights, humility and gentle style of writing. He is an author who will no doubt be missed by many people around the world.

In honor of his life and body of work we've posted an M. Scott Peck author page on our site. Here's the link. We have 10 of his audio titles up and will be adding more soon. These titles, including The Road Less Traveled, are narrated by the author.

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September 26, 2005

The Main Event: Audio Books vs. Podcasts

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Seth and I were talking a bit tonight about the merits of audio books versus podcasts and I thought it might make good foddde for a quick blog entry. I'll be the first to admit that since podcasts have come on to the scene I listen less to audio books. One reason for that is that running LearnOutLoud requires me to screen a number of podcasts. But that's not the only reason. Indeed there are some reasons why I've gravitated towards podcasts.

First, podcasts are easier to listen to in bite-sized chunks. When you only have 10 or 15 minutes it's often easier to throw on a podcast and listen to it in its entirety than it is to pick up an audio book mid-stream. I particularly like podcasts that are around the magical 15 minute mark as it's just about the right amount of time to hold my attention.

Another benefit of podcasts is the ability to have them downloaded automatically. It's nice to sit down at my computer and see that I've got a dozen new podcasts ready to listen to. With audio books I have to go out and download them manually and because of the larger file size it typically takes 10-15 minutes to pull the files down. If the audio book is on CD and I want to move it to my iPod the process is even more involved as I have to rip the CD to my computer first and then transfer it over.

A final benefit of podcasts is their timeliness. There is certain information that is much better consumed right away (e.g., news and current events, sports, etc.) and this is where podcasting shines. Audio books (like books in general) just can't compete because of the long lead times required for publishing. Podcasting itself is a great example of this. If I had to wait for an audio book about podcasting...well, I'd still be waiting. Yet there are a dozen of podcasts where I can learn about podcasting itself and there have been for some months now.

But this certainly isn't a one-sided fight as there are several advantages to audio books as well. A primary one is sound quality. I've probably only listened to a handful of audio books in the last few years with truly bad sound quality. On the other hand, I think there are only a handful of podcasts out there that have truly excellent sound quality. This will improve over time but for now the "home brew" nature of many podcasts certainly detracts (at least somewhat) from their listenability.

Another advantage of audio books is their longer length. Wait, wasn't shorter length an advantage of podcasts? The key here is the context in which you're listening in. If you're at the gym running at the treadmill it can be a bit annoying to have to change podcasts every 10 minutes. In that context audio books are probably a better bet. The same goes for long car trips. If you have a longer chunk of time to listen in you will likely favor the continuity of audio books.

Finally I think that in general the consistency of audio books is a lot higher. Because they are professionally produced you are more likely to have a good listening experience. Podcasts are much more of a wild card. While I've heard some outstanding ones, I've also heard some truly terrible ones as well.

In the end it's a bit of a toss-up and pretty much just depends on what you're looking for at any given moment. They serve to complement each other and at the same time the competition between podcasters and audio book producers for your listening time will end up improving the quality of each. In the end, we as a listeners will end up being the ultimate winners in this battle.

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September 23, 2005

The Night the Lights Went Out In Minneapolis

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I'm back in Minneapolis this week visiting my parents. On Wednesday night we had a series of severe storms that tore through the metro area. It knocked out the power at my parents' house for almost 24 hours. And the cable still hasn't been restored which means we have no phone or Internet...

So Wednesday night when all the lights were out and we got tired of listening to the storm coverage on the radio what is there to do? After all, there wasn't any TV or Internet and reading by candlelight was a bit difficult (my parents aren't big candle people and we only had one in the house). Well, you probably guessed it...I spent my time listening to audio books. :)

The only real reason why I'm posting this is that going without electricity for a night gave me a newfound appreciation for what blind and visually impaired people go through. There are so many things that we do in daily life that require sight. And often we take our vision for granted until that time when we don't have it. We've done some work to help out the the blind before and looking to do even more in the future. One thing that we're trying to set up is a way for visitors to this site to donate their used audiobooks and have them find their way to charities like the Blind Children's Learning Center.

In addition to children there are approximately 5.5 million elderly people who are blind or visually impaired (according to the American Foundation for the Blind). As our society ages this number will grow larger. Audio books represent a great opportunity for these individuals to continue on with their love of learning even if they are unable to read comfortably anymore.

Helping blind and visually impaired people is just one of the reasons we're so passionate about what we do. We hope to be able to make it even easier for these people to get access to material that will enrich their lives.

Have a great weekend and be sure to take a minute this weekend to be thankful for the gift of sight. It's definitely something that most of us take for granted in our lives.

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September 22, 2005

Cross-country aid

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Looks like we got a little write-up about our trip to Louisiana published in the Glendale News-Press today. I thought I would pass it along in case anyone is interested. Here's the link:

Cross-country aid - Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee does his bit to help victims of hurricane devastation.

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September 21, 2005

My "Broken Records"

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On my iPod and around my apartment I have several audio books that I would call my "broken records." These are audiobooks that I'll throw on somewhat continuously in the background when I'm walking places, cleaning, making something to eat, etc. I don't necessarily listen to them in a linear, start-to-finish fashion. Rather I'll just pick them up whereever I happen to be and listen to them for 10 to 20 minutes or longer.

With many audio books it's hard to do this because there is some sort of sequencing required and if you pick them up mid-way through you don't really have the proper context. And of course with many audio books you really don't have much need to listen to them more than once. But my "broken records" are titles that I honestly don't feel I could listen to too much. They serve as almost a kind of spoken word "soundtrack" for my life.

So without further ado, let me present to you my list of broken records along with some comments. I hope some of you will order these and allow yourself to become immersed in them as well. They contain timeless wisdom and are a great alternative to having the TV or radio blaring in the background during daily life:

My Broken Records

  • Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill's classic on achieving financial success. What I love about this book is that there is so much in here that can contribute to success in all areas of life.
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie's classic tome on interpersonal relationships is a favorite of mine despite the somewhat cheesy title. What's amazing is the fact that the vast majority of the advice in this book is common sense and yet it's rarely practiced by most people.
  • The Secrets of the Power of Intention, There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem and It's Never Crowded Along the Extra Mile by Wayne Dyer - Dyer probably consumes a good 20% of the space on my iPod. He has a magical voice and I truly feel that listening to him is a superior experience to reading his books. His live stuff is particularly good and there is so much incredible wisdom in here that, if you're like me, you'll find yourself returning to it over and over again.
  • The Bible - I certainly don't listen to it as much as I should but I do find that having the Bible on my iPod makes it convenient for me to return to it when I have a few minutes waiting in line somewhere. (I don't know exactly which version is on my iPod so I just linked above to our super cool "The Bible on Audio" page where dozens of audio versions of the Bible and individual books.)

I have a couple other broken records that run in the background as well during specific times of my day. Wayne Dyer's 101 Ways to Transform Your Life wakes me up each morning from the stereo system in my bedroom. Pimsleur's Spanish I runs in my bathroom while I'm taking a shower or brushing my teeth. Yup, I'm pretty much addicted to this stuff...not that that's a bad thing.

Feel free to let me know if you've got other suggestions for broken records. I'd love to get your take on this.

 

September 19, 2005

32 GB iPod Nanos and a Podcast Directory on Your Phone?

I spent the better part of the day today immersed in the future of digital audio and video at the Digital Hollywood conference here in Santa Monica. I had a few cool chats with some people on the inside of what's coming down the pipeline next. I had a particularly cool talk with the founder of Melodeo, a company that is bringing you podcasting to mobile phones. You can check out a demo of their "mobilcast" technology here. It's a pretty cool technology and no doubt represents a part of the future for podcasting.

Speaking of the future, last week Samsung announced that they will be doing a flash memory chip that can hold up to 32 GBs of data. What does that mean? How about the possibility of a 32 GB iPod Nano? How cool would that be? Devices will get smaller and storage capacity will get larger, the latter being particularly relevant as "videocasting" (the video equivalent of podcasting) grows in popularity. Here's a link to the Samsung announcement:

Samsung to do up 32GB flash memory chip

One final cool thing that I found today. The Digital Hollywood conference that I attended has put some sessions from their Spring confernece online as a free of charge podcast. I think you'll see this happen for a lot more conferences. It seems that at least once a week a cool conference comes across my desk (like the M Squared conference next week in San Francisco). I certainly don't have the time or the money to attend all or even most of these. Why shouldn't they be made available as podcasts? Heck, I bet more than a few people would be willing to pay for that...

Here's the link to those sessions from the Spring 2005 Digital Hollywood conference.

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September 19, 2005

Stargazing Audio

I just had a pretty good idea for an activity to do while you learn on audio. How bout learning astronomy while laying down and gazing up at the cosmos? That's something you can't do with a book and it'll let you contemplate the enormity and awesomeness of our galaxy while you learn about it. A few authors I recommend listening to while you gaze:

Stephen W. Hawking
Timothy Ferris
Seth Shostak

And don't forget the many Astronomy Podcasts that are out there:

www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory/Science/Astronomy

Unforunately I can't partake in this idea due to light pollution and smog. But for those of you outside the big city, take a moment at night to get your mind off this earth and onto the big picture with audio books and podcasts. Soon you'll stop staring at the stars in puzzlement and you'll start stargazing with intelligence.