Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Poddering Around

The first thing I used to do when I set up a new computer was to rip out or unplug and throw away the speakers. The assorted internet bells/whistles as well as unsolicited music on web sites were annoying and distracting, and I covet peace and quiet. Computer programs tend to make a lot of jarring sounds, too. If I want that much racket, I'll serve my kids red Kool-aid and Double-Stuff Oreos and then give them Nerf guns.

With this new era of audio everything, I leave the speakers plugged in but turned off. I still haven't caved into buying an Ipod, and I'm not a big fan of podcasting, but I will listen to bits of one online now and then if the speaker and/or the subject interests me. The voice makes or breaks it for me, though, and there are authors who should not read their work because they don't have a proper speaking voice for it (I should know, I'm one of them.)

Mech Muse, one of the newest online SF/F e-zines, offers twelve hours of audio fiction to listen to online or download into your Ipod (login/registration appears to be free at the moment but the submission guidelines seem to indicate there are subscription fees involved.) Mech Muse is also looking for short stories and performers to read for them and offer authors royalties of 40% and advances up to $400.00. If you're into podcasting, definitely worth a look.

There are also audio file sites out there like American Public Media, which offers a full page of free podcasts, with a link to Audible's excerpts from Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegone radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Other podcasts include podcasts or links to talks about business, faith, finance, kitchen help, marketing, GK's Writer's Almanac and more. I think if you're going to get into podcasting, you should listen to a variety of them to get a feel for what makes a good podcast.

Related links:

If you'd like to try one of the online audio service sites, Audioblog (now called Hipcast) offers a 7-day free trial period to their service, which allows you to create videos, audios, podcasts and post them to your weblog.

The online community for podcasters, PodcastPickle.

Create, find and share podcasts over at PodOMatic.

Talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere online for free via Skype


  1. I tried a view audioblogs on my site, but found that not many people were interested. Either I really sucked at them or, as one commenter said, they'd rather read than listen.

    But I do like podcasts. If they're well done. Most aren't, unfortunately.

  2. I'm with you, PBW. I leave my speakers off until I want to hear somehing and my first act on installing windows is to open Control Panel then Sounds and change to the No Sounds option.
    Windows Vista was apparently going to feature a startup sound you couldn't switch off, to 'ensure every user knew their system was ready to share a fruitful Microsoft experience' or some such crap, but they backpedalled after a (muted?) roar of disapproval.
    Laptops are the most annoying because there's no off switch for the sound until they're running. However, you can buy a 3.5" stereo plug from Tandy and leave it in the speaker socket. Doesn't have to be connected to anything, and if it sticks out too far you can remove the shell and hack off everything except the insulator. That's the plug, not the laptop ;-)

  3. I don't have my speakers plugged in either, but I do have headphones connected and Skype downloaded so I can speak with my brother in Qatar or his family in Denmark.

    I'm not a fan of podcasting, I, too, would rather read. I find that easier than listening. Hell, I can play a complete musical CD while I'm writing and not hear any of it!

  4. I like good podcasts in the appropriate time and place... trouble is, I have a terrible time finding (good) kid-appropriate ones. We really enjoy listening to audiobooks in the car, and the kids like Dr. Floyd, but if there is much else out there worth listening to, I haven't found it yet. (I'd really like some good kid's science, history, or cultural audio, so if anyone is looking for ideas... and no, I can't afford Boomerang magazine. Bummer, that.)

  5. i hate it when the computer starts talking to me. music is annoying but talking is worse.

    I bought an MP3 player for the gym... and couldn't get it to work. I ended up taking it back. :( Don't know if I could do much better with an IPOD

  6. We love our ipod. And Skype. Although Skype doesn't work with all numbers, some people can't receive Skype calls.

  7. I much prefer reading to listening--must be some inborn auditory processing delays--my mom says I hated to be read to as a baby. :)

    One thing I do miss--when I was growing up, the radio used to broadcast mystery theatre. Me and my dad used to sit in the car listening to the stories. And I love listening to baseball games on the radio as well.

    But give me a book in my hands over an audio book anytime.


  8. I'm a fan of Audible.com. I have a PDA which has MP3 capabilites. I plug in an audio book whenever I need to do chores outside or while I'm eating breakfast. I used to read when I eat but... trying to eat some things with one hand is annoying.

    I can't resist listening to Tim Curry or Simon Jones reading. I admit, it felt a little weird to me at first listening to books instead of reading them, but it is rather enjoyable. It won't replace reading paper books but it is fun.

    I've tried to listen to Pods, but I never can get myself to listen in.

  9. Lisa - if you look up BBC Radio 4 (UK) they put all their radio plays out on the internet as broadcasts. And the BBC does very good drama. Actually, I just found the page and you'll find a big list of shows here

  10. Anonymous7:03 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. "If I want that much racket, I'll serve my kids red Kool-aid and Double-Stuff Oreos and then give them Nerf guns."

    I'm so with you! lol. Everytime the grandparents come to town, they leave behind annoying noise makers disguised as must have toys.

    But I can't throw the grandparents out with the speakers.

  12. Anonymous11:33 PM

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  13. Anonymous9:22 AM

    LOL I don't even turn the radio on in the car, let alone the speakers on on my computer! Of course, most of the time, I do my work in a library and can't, but even when I'm at home it's QUIET. I DO have an iPod, but it was a gift, and I don't listen to it when I'm working. :)

    Jess, who admits she's kind of a little anal...

  14. I am a big podcast listener ... so take what I say with a grain of salt! I have been enjoying Escape Pod and Pseudo Pod (paying podcast markets for genre short fiction). Sometimes the reader is a little rough, but usually ok.

    For pure ear pleasure, check out Brenda Dayne's "Cast On" -- ostensibly for knitters, but I'm think anyone would enjoy her voice and stories.


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