STACKRIDGE'S GUIDE TO PODCASTING 
What is a podcast? 
The Ingénue's guide in eight easy moves

By A Gentleman

1.Introduction
2.How does one obtain the Podcast?
3.What equipment would one require?
4.Who's responsible for this marvellous conceit?
5.Were those folk at Apple involved?
6.The technical bits
7.So why is it special
8.Further light reading


1.Podcasting lets you automatically receive the latest episode of your chosen programme as soon as it's available. You can take your favourite radio programmes with you on the move and listen wherever and whenever you like. The excellent Lummy Days Podcast is one such programme.

2.You can "subscribe" to receive a podcast, rather like you might subscribe to a magazine and get it delivered each week. Podcasts are usually free (the Lummy Days podcast certainly is) and you can stop receiving the files at any time. If you'd rather not subscribe, you can download episodes of a podcast series individually.

3.In order to subscribe for a podcast, you need an internet connection and a piece of podcast software which is usually available free of charge. Once you have installed this software, it will check for new episodes of your chosen podcast series and automatically download new episodes for you. A crisply ironed and freshly starched Lummy Days podcast is broadcast at the start of each month. You can then listen to podcast episodes on your computer, or transfer them to a portable device, such as an mp3 player (yes, an iPod) you can even burn them onto a CD to play in your motor car.

4.Podcasting, created by former MTV VJ, Adam Curry, is a term that was devised as a crisp way to describe the technology used to push audio content from websites down to consumers of that content, who typically listen to it on their iPod (hence the "pod") or other audio player that supports mp3 at their convenience. The term podcasting is meant to rhyme with broadcasting and is a derivative of the iPod platform. 

5.While not directly associated with Apple's iPod device or iTunes music service, the company did contribute both the desire and the technology for this capability. Podcasting is not unlike time-shifted video software and devices like TiVo, which let you watch what you want when you want by recording and storing video, except that podcasting is used for audio and is currently free of charge. Note, however, that this technology can be used to push any kind of file, including software updates, pictures, and videos.

6.Podcasting uses an XML based technology called RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. Content publishers describe new content in an XML RSS file which includes dates, titles, descriptions, and links to MP3 files. This auto-generated file is called an RSS feed. The key to making podcasting work with RSS is enclosures, a feature supported by RSS 2.0. (XML is a way of formatting data so that it is both human and machine-readable. Stands for Extensible Meta Language) 

7.What makes podcasting special is that it allows individuals to publish (podcast) radioshows, that interested listeners can subscribe to. It is our old chum Mr. Fatty Fudge who fiddles with the wires and the glue to produce the monthly feast that is the Lummy Days podcast. Before podcasting you could of course record a radio show and put it on your website, but now people can automatically receive new shows, without having to go to a specific site and download it from there.

8.Here are some links to some useful sites :

Stackridge's website, home of the Lummy Days podcast:
http://www.stackridge.net/podcast.asp

The BBC's interactive guide to podcasts:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/sharing/index.shtml?initialModule=Pod

The download link for Juice a nifty piece of podcast software which works on several platforms (i.e. windows and linux):
http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php

The download link for Apple's free iTunes
http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/

A very good site which gives a quick guide to the world of podcasting:
http://podca.st/

A glossary of podcasting terminology:
http://www.podcastfm.co.uk/podcasting_glossary.php


editorial note:
if you feel that you have something useful to add to this guide or you have noticed a glaring error or admission do feel free to email the author via “info at boocock dot net” (geddit?)