How I listen to podcasts
Podcasts are hugely important to me, they entertain me and educate me and allow me to get useful work done whilst driving and keeping moving and enjoying the benefits of fresh air and sunshine while walking or cycling. In fact I also have a waterproof media player and headset so if I swam often enough I would listen to them in the water as well.
So that’s the end of this blog post then? Not quite, there’s quite a bit to say about HOW I listen and several tools and tricks I’ve built up over the years.
Most important I almost always listen to podcasts on my iPhone using the Downcast app which I love because of the following features:
- It lets me create custom playlists, for example I have a comedy playlist, a work playlist, a non-work playlist and an audiobook playlist
- It lets me easily take any aritary MP3/MP4 file I have on my PC and create a podcast out of it, this allows me to play an audio book for example.
- It allows me to set the bluetooth forward and reverse buttons on my car’s steering wheel to skip forward and backward arbitrary amounts (back 1 minute, forward 30 seconds in my case) this is perfect for skipping adverts and skipping back if I’ve been distracted and need to listen again
- It plays audio and video
- It is self contained, in that it has a full catalogue of podcasts, downloads (in the background) without a PC involved, auto-deletes after I listen etc
- It can post links to podcasts I’ve listened to to my @steveisreading twitter feed, unfortunately it links direct to the mp3, rather than to the show notes (which it displays on the now playing screen)
I often find that I have content on my PC, for example ripped audiobooks that came of CDs that I need to listen to, I want to listen to these on the iPhone, using the same Downcast app. This is an easy three step process:
- I merge all the mp3/mp4 files into a single file using a Windows utility called MergeMp3 which also lets you customise the play order if the filenames don’t sort correctly
- I copy the resulting single file to Downcast using iTunes file sharing
- I use the import function in Downcast to create a new podcast containing just this single file.
- I much prefer Downcast to the Audible audiobook player, although of course Downcast can only play drm free content
- This technique is also good for listening to CSC audio conference recordings and the like.
However if I want to listen to a single MP3 file that’s somewhere on the web then there’s any easier way. I use a web service called HuffDuffer that works like this:
- HuffDuffer lets you create a personal podcast, for example my podcast feed is http://huffduffer.com/sricha27
- I subscribe to this podcast feed in Downcast
- Huffduffer includes a bookmarklet that I added to my favourites bar in Chrome
- When I come across an MP3 file I want to listen to I just click the bookmarklet and HuffDuffer finds the MP3 file on the web page, and pops up a dialog allowing you to type a title for it and then adds a link to the mp3 file into my personal podcast feed
- Downcast then downloads this arbitrary mp3 file as an episode in my personal podcast
- This is great for listening to a single episode of a podcast that you don’t want to subscribe to or any other content in mp3 on the web
When I come across a good podcast episode that I want to share or remember, Downcast lets me add this to my @steveisreading twitter feed in two clicks.
Finally I listen to podcasts in the following ways:
- I have my iPhone in a TomTom car kit in my car and listen over bluetooth stereo
- I have my iPhone in my home office and send the audio or video to my 27″ desktop screen using AirServer
- I use my iPhone out and about using an Apple headset, but I always snip off one of the ear bud cables, as I like to hear the world around me in one ear and the podcast in the other