Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

24 March 2005

Delicious Podcasts

Every once in a while people turn you on to new technology and it becomes so natural that you cannot remember how you lived without them. In just the last few months, I have become hooked on three new items:

Apple iPod

I have owned at least two PDAs which doubled as MP3 players. Each was good in its own right, but in the end there was just something which made them less than usable for real music listening. I was starting to look into a device devoted to playing tunes, when I began to notice Adrian, my boss, using a 3G iPod. He always had good music going, the quantity was quite significant, particularly compared to my paltry 128MB of flash for my PDA, and the interface was straightforward. I began to toy around with different MP3 players people were using. Brook, boss' boss, had an iPod mini. It has a great interface, perfect size and reasonable capacity, I knew from experience that sizzle means a lot for a device like this. At the time, my entire MP3 collection was on the order of 4.5GB, so the capacity of the iPod mini was reasonable. Zach, my brother-in-law, had a 4G iPod which was super easy to use. After months of looking, I finally comitted to purchasing an iPod and settled on an 4G iPod (40GB) just in case I wanted to store other files or more music on it.
I have not regretted my decision for an instant. I ripped every CD in our music collection and have purchased 120 songs from iTunes. The music collection is now on the order of 10GB. I love my iPod! My favorite site for iPod information and product evaluations has to be iPod Lounge.


I use both a desktop and a laptop quite extensively for my development work. This affords me the chance to trip over the classic problem of loosely coupled distributed systems: divergent data. The data in this case is my bookmarks collection. For a time, I attempted to synchronize them manually, but no one has the requisite discipline. When Backflip appeared I jumped right on that bandwagon, this gave me browser and platform independence. It was seriously injured during the bursting of the .COM Bubble, experiencing significant outages and data loss incedents. Though I walked away from that service, I still call my regular sites list "Daily Dose." Once I had settled on Firefox, the best browser out there, I tried the Bookmarks Synchronizer. That worked well until you forget to synchronize for a week. Then I hit a fatal problem when I updated a major version of Firefox and the synchronizer lost its configuration.
In a meeting a few weeks ago, Brook, the aforementioned boss' boss, talked about subject-oriented indexing. This contrasts nicely with fixed indexing which characterizes Yahoo! and how my bookmarks are arranged. Does a paper on the history of programming languages go under "History"->"Papers" or "Computers" -> "Research." It is also not the same as Google which is based on consensus through link targets. What I find engaging about delicious is how it uses arbitrary subject tags combined with common link targets to organize information. To see how this works, take a look a my delicious page. I am well and truly hooked and so my bookmarks decay.


I ran across podcasts by accident, but then Paul and Emilio, two developers at work, gave me pointers and suggestions for shows to listen to. What is a podcast? To quote my favorite show, The Sounds in My Head, podcasting is like radio for iPods. It works by the podcaster recording a show to an MP3 or AAC file, both formats the iPod can read. You download the file and listen to their show. There is novel called EarthCore being serialized in podcast form. The first installment came out today. Here is a list of my favorite podcasts:
  • The Sounds in My Head - an always entertaining collection of new music. I have purchased ten of the songs I heard on this podcast from the iTunes store.
  • Celtic Music News - an excellent source for Celtic Punk and Rock. I wish more of this was in the iTunes catalog, but I am close to ordering Quinn's Diaries from Donegal X-Press. The song "Pissed Off Paddy Barman" is the best drinking song ever!
  • Croncast - is this a podcast or is it my life? The Dawn and Drew show is more popular, but this podcast it far funnier.
  • Wizard News Radio - a roundup of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings news. My older daughter waits for each episode so she can listen to it.
  • The Good Beer Show - the first podcast I ever listened to. It is hit or miss, but the good shows are truly great.
  • Hometown Tales - filled with ghost stories and other weird tales. It is also hit or miss, but I enjoy it.
To make your own list of favorite podcasts try sites like: Podcast Alley.

The moral of the story is: keep your eyes and ears open since you never can tell what will be important.


At 03 May, 2005 15:10 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

got to agree with you there christian. I love my ipod.


( a guy who used to work with you at Delorme writing Installshield setup's)...


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