I love listening to podcasts - they are a great way to use some of that downtime in an interesting way - when you're driving, walking the dogs, cooking, and so on... I can listen to my favourite programmes whenever I want, pause them, rewind, turn up the volume (great for people like me with hearing problems), etc.
If you're wondering how to get podcasts, the first thing to know is that You don't need an iPod to listen to podcasts!
(obvious to those of you who know, but not obvious to all). A podcast is just an mp3 file that you can download and listen to on any mp3 player, your phone (if it plays mp3 files), or on your computer, and some home stereo systems. If you have the proper equipment, and your mp3 player supports it, you can also transmit from an mp3 player to a car radio.
If you do have an iPod, then it can connect seamlessly with iTunes
to update automatically when you connect it to your computer. But, you don't need an iPod to use iTunes - I like iTunes as it does really useful things like organising all my sound files in neat folders for me. It also makes subscribing to podcasts very easy.
When you subscribe to a podcast, this means that you tell iTunes (or other software too I suppose, but I never used another) to check online regularly and download the latest podcast. Most sites that offer podcasts also have a 'One click subscribe to iTunes' button which makes life easy.
Here are some of my recommended podcasts:
• On Point with Tom Ashbrook
: a daily phone in talk show from NPR (public radio) in America. Invites knowledgeable guests and covers a range of subjects. A bit America-focused, but generally interesting, and I've learnt a lot about America too, since I've started listening to it.
• BBC World Service
has many, including:
From Our Own Correspondent
: BBC's foreign correspondents do random stories that are not necessarily breaking news. Great snippets and insights into all parts of the world. My long term favourite.
: half-hour interviews with interesting people - politicians, business leaders, activists, celebrities...
: "On the ground reporting from around the world which focuses on the human dimension of the big international stories."
Examples of other choices are:
World Book Club
; One Planet
; Newsweek (Cantonese)
; World Business News
• Radio 4
: Laurie Taylor usually has the author(s) of books on history, and social sciences, and host analytical conversations about the world we live in.
In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg
: "The history of ideas discussed by Melvyn Bragg and guests including Philosophy, science, literature, religion and the influence these ideas have on us today."
Woman's Hour: News, Politics, Culture
: Sometimes interesting daily programme on 'Women's issues'. I listen to it mostly for tips on bringing up children, but it also discusses other issues related to women - legal issues, art, whatever...
• Tech/Geek stuff
: Weekly BBC techie podcast, with the latest on gadgets, and the effects of technology on society.
The Digital Edge
: local Malaysian weekly discussion on all things techie, geeky and related industry matters; hosted by @johnlim
This Week in Asia
Singapore/Malaysia based techie discussion with a regional focus (thanks @Cerventus
for the clarification); similar to The Digital Edge.
: More or less bi-weekly. Based in George Mason University, academics discuss issues related to Digital Humanities - with a particular focus on history, libraries and museums.
: regular high calibre discussions with leading academics, business people and technology experts - you can learn a lot here!
Yi-Tan Weekly Technology Call
: this came highly recommended, but has yet to live up to expectations I'm afraid. The site is a bit messy, but if you want to subscribe via iTunes, click here
: also highly recommended, but all online streaming video as far as I can see. TED means 'Technology, Education, Design', and there are regular top speakers (e.g. Tim Berners-Lee
) who impart wisdom in relatively short talks.
• Finally, The Teaching Company
has many great lecture series with proper academics teaching everything from "Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition"
(I actually understood quantum physics for a while!), through a "History of Ancient Rome"
, "History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon"
, to the "Roots of Human Behavior"
. They're not free, but if you're lucky you may find someone with a copy to share.