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The Internet: The Missing Manual by David Pogue, J.D. Biersdorfer

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Podcasts

Just as Web logs, or blogs (Section 5.4), have given anybody with a computer the power to publish their thoughts on the Web, podcasting lets you speak those thoughts out loud—and lets others download and listen to them on their computers or portable music players.

Note

The culturally savvy neologists out there who make up names for things are obviously iPod fans; podcast is a pun on "broadcast," but includes an obvious reference to the iPod. But, in fact, podcasts work on just about any digital music player. After all, they're just MP3 files.

Podcasts are basically homemade radio shows. They're usually saved as MP3 files and are free to download from the Web. Anyone can make one—from media pros like former MTV VJ Adam Curry to bloggers who find speaking more fun than typing. And because they're MP3 files, you can play them through audio programs like iTunes or Windows Media Player.

You can find podcasts on a huge variety of topics from agriculture to politics to daily life in Hawaii, all there for your listening pleasure.

Most podcasts are updated regularly, just like daily radio talk shows. Going back to the podcast's home page to look for new installments is a drag, so most people use software designed to snag and download podcasts automatically. This way, you always have the most recent episode. Setting up such a system is called subscribing to a podcast.

Podcasts on iTunes

If you've got iTunes 4.9 or later on your PC or Mac, you can use iTunes as your podcast wrangler. ...

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