Posted in Reviews, tagged All Things Considered, apple, Compact Disc, ICloud, itunes, iTunes Music Store, ITunes Store, Night Vale, Podcast, radio theater, Rio Karma on October 13, 2013 |
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When the digital audio age began in earnest I began to explore the boundaries of what was available. Many (including me) were furiously downloading MP3s from various peer to peer sharing services; I had a huge library of cassette tapes that had either been lost, stolen, eaten my a tape deck, or degraded into unlistenable hiss. Before the iTunes Music Store was an option there really weren’t many avenues to get single digital tracks, and the financial reality of working low-paying after school jobs prevented me from buying and ripping a CD for just a track or two. My Rio Karma devoured all of the tracks I could get my hands on (at the time its 20 gigabyte hard drive was huge in comparison to other players on the market), and it seemed a bit wasteful to leave so much storage capacity unused.
During a discussion with a high school friend about the means we were using to expand our collections he brought up some ripped recordings he had stumbled across on an obscure Usenet discussion board: 1940′s era radio theater. The old horror shows were even more fascinating than the ironic advertisements of doctors and athletes advocating Camel cigarettes. Part Twilight Zone, part Lovecraftian story craft; the recordings were a fascinating look into the pre-video age methods of mass media.
Thanks to the iTunes Store’s podcast section I’ve been able to relive my fascination with the radio theater format lately. Most of the podcasts I’ve subscribed to have been more information-focused (like the various tech podcasts I enjoy or NPR’s All Things Considered), but there’s so much more there to enjoy. Case in point- Welcome to Night Vale.
I’m a late comer to this amazing podcast. It’s been in production since June of 2012, but catching up has been as enthralling as binging on a good TV series via Netflix or Hulu. The series is at heart a modern take on old radio theater; the show is a public radio broadcast for the fictional desert town of Night Vale, where (according to the creator) all conspiracy theories are real.
The show is both unique and nostalgic; the quirky stories and content are strangely right at home in their very antiquated audio-only format. I’ve really enjoyed having another means of entertainment during road trips or commuting to work. Welcome to Night Vale isn’t for everyone, but I urge you to give it a try; you might be surprised at how much fun listening is.
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Posted in News, tagged apple, apple rumors, Articles, FAQs Help and Tutorials, gilbert godfrey, jerry springer, Louis Black, Macintosh, Podcast, Road rage, Stitcher, technology on June 18, 2013 |
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Just a quick note of a new favorite podcast/blog: Angry Mac Bastards. Ever wonder what it would be like if Louis Black and Gilbert Godfrey got together to discuss Apple rumors and news? Me either, but if they had it would be Angry Mac Bastards. It’s entertaining, engaging, and very very not safe for kids. My first exposure was this past weekend while perusing suggested podcasts via Stitcher (a must have for any podcasting fan). The main topic was a reaction to the misogynistic pushback that’s happened to a fundraiser for a girl-centered app development camp- a worthy cause from several aspects. More developers is always a good thing, and software development has long been a male-dominated industry. The unbridled hostility and disbelief that anyone could have an issue with the topic hooked me, and the continuing discussion over several topics (even some non-tech) has made me a fan. It’s definitely earned a place in my favorites list. If you’d like a little Jerry Springer in your tech news an opinion give it a try.
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Posted in Advice, News, tagged app store, apple, ios, ipad, iphone, ipod, iTune, itunes, Podcast, Stitcher Radio on June 30, 2012 |
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One of the features I’ve enjoyed the most from the combination of iOS and the iTunes store has been their huge library of podcasts. No matter what your interests may be, there’s likely more than one podcast out there covering it. Entertaining, educational, informative; podcasts are an unheralded gem of iTunes- and best of all, the content is free (so far).
Apple made a strategic error in their recent versions of iOS, muddying one of their stated strategic missions of providing the best possible user experience. The iPod app that once encompassed all media on the iPhone was split to mimic the iPad into Music and Video apps. While the change was logical, the deployment of the Music app made enjoyment of podcasts more arduous. To get to your content you had to open the Music app, then tap the ellipse icon to access them as podcasts were no longer listed as a default selection. Drilling down through an app to find what you’d like to listen to hardly embodies the ‘magical’ experience iOS devices were touted to provide. I eventually turned to Stitcher Radio, a third party app that allows streaming access to your subscribed apps as well as other audio content and listening suggestions. While Stitcher is a very good app, it hasn’t been exactly what I was looking for. Power is typically inversely proportional to the need for interaction, and many times I just want to listen to my subscribed podcasts without having to pick specific episodes from a favorites lineup (not to mention the other functionality of Stitcher that I simply wasn’t taking advantage of).
Apple recently revealed that the next version of iOS would correct their oversight by providing a standalone Podcast app. This welcome move was further compounded by the announcement that the release of the Podcast app was moved up, and was to be available as of this June 26th. I quickly installed the app when I read the news, and have had a few days of testing to evaluate it. I’m happy to say that Apple exceeded my expectations as the new Podcast app has more than corrected the clumsy way of provides accessing to your synced podcasts.
The new standalone Podcast app includes streamlined access to iTune‘s podcast section, allowing easy browsing of selections tailored to iOS’ touch interface. Syncing is no longer the only way to enjoy content- streaming is now supported for quick access to new episodes as you find them. The app also provides bilateral sync support with your Mac or PC; meaning that as you listen to content your episodes will be automatically ‘bookmarked’ on your computer for seamless transition between platforms. Both audio and video podcasts are featured, broken down into a wide range of categories displayed in a horizontal Coverflow-like manner. Browsing within a category is elegantly done by just scrolling the podcast tiles vertically. A new Top Stations feature is provided to suggest new podcasts you may enjoy.
I’ve found that I will rely on my podcast subscriptions more than my music collection when commuting to and from work or on longer trips. They make a great break from Pandora when my playlist has become a bit repetitive as well. While Stitcher is still installed on both my iPad and iPhone, I’ve been happily using the new Podcast app instead the past few days. If haven’t explored what the iTunes Podcast library has to offer I urge you to give it a look. If you have, check out the new app- I think you’ll be glad you did.
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