Podcasts are but a few Q&A's away
AFTER the last few weeks discussing cool online content, a friend called me -- let's call him "Q" (most of my friends prefer to use initials only) -- with some questions about the easiest way to search for podcasts in general. That's still via iTunes.
For the benefit of all, here's a transcript of out chat:
DS: First download, install and open iTunes on your computer.
Q: But I don't have an iPod.
DS: You don't need an iPod, or any mp3 player, to enjoy podcasts.You're computer works just fine. Now, when you open up iTunes, you're going to see a browser-like window for its "Music Store." This presents you with a lot of clickable pictures of celebrities. Basically, anything you recognize from pop culture is going to cost you money. Ignore it.
Q: But Jessica Simpson is sooo pretty. I feel compelled to click.
DS: I know. The entire online economy is based on this compulsion, but try to control yourself. Now, to the left, you'll see a list. "Podcasts" is in that list. Click that.
Q: Oooo, everything's purple now, a gentle, unobtrusive purple that seems to say "be jazzed, but don't be afraid."
DS: Um, OK. Try to stay focused. Now you'll see some TV logos. You can click those, but keep in mind you're still deep in the labyrinth of corporate manipulation. Stuck in a pen for major media to corral you like livestock. You're basically veal wearing a headset.
Q: You say that like it's a bad thing.
DS: To the left, you'll see a list of podcast categories, and a box where you can type in search terms a la Google. Now, type whatever you want.
Q: "Jessica Simpson."
DS: No, we already covered that. Type something else.
Q: "Ashlee Simpson."
DS: No, you're missing the point. Type something like "tennis" and hit return. A new window will offer you an extensive list of tennis-related podcasts. Under "price" you'll notice that everything is free. "Free" is the ceiling price for most podcasts.
Q: They should probably pay me to listen to some of this stuff.
DS: Fair enough. Assuming you like tennis, click on one of the show's "subscribe" buttons. A window will come up warning you that you are about to subscribe.
Q: Warnings scare me.
DS: Don't worry. You can always delete the podcast.
Q: OK. I'm calming down. The purple background helps.
DS: When you hit "subscribe," you'll be taken to your podcast library, where you'll see your subscription downloading. Click on the tiny triangle next to the title, and you'll see past episodes in grey type. Click "get" to download those. Then double-click any episode to begin listening. If you downloaded a video podcast, the show will play in a small square at the bottom left of the browser. Double-click the square and a larger screen should pop up.
Q: What happens when a new show is ready?
DS: iTunes will check that podcast's feed every now and then to see if a new show is available, and download it automatically. To change those settings, just select "preferences" in the pull-down menu. If you connect an iPod to your computer, all podcasts will go into it automatically as well.
Q: OK, I got it. Now can I look for Jessica Simpson?
DS: Sure. You've earned it.