Sunday, July 6, 2008

Podcast Directories, Aggregators, and iTunes alternatives

In exploring the whole iTunes and podcast topic this week in more detail than I've ever bothered to do before (just about every waking moment the past few days!), I'm amazed at how much material is out there. I imagine that podcasts will become another source of information overload for me...

Regarding the information overload, I've been looking at various ways to manage podcasts. iTunes is great with it's iTunes Store podcast directory, but it doesn't sync with my Creative Labs Zen Touch MP3 player (or any non-Apple player as far as I know). I can subscribe to podcasts using Google Reader, which gives me the convenience of listening to them easily from any computer connected to the net, but it doesn't sync with MP3 players.

The solution I've found which I think is going to work best is by using PodNova.com, which is an online podcast aggregator. PodNova offers the best of both worlds. I can subscribe to podcasts, which I can find by searching their podcast directory. I can listen to podcasts online from any computer connected to the net. Best of all, I can also download their desktop client software which will automatically download the latest episodes of podcasts and sync with my MP3 player.

For finding podcasts, I've discovered a number of podcast directories online:

gpodder.org
www.podnova.com
zencast.com
www.podcastdirectory.com
www.podcastalley.com
www.podfeed.net
www.podcastshuffle.com
www.digitalpodcast.com
odeo.com

I've also been playing around with a variety of media players, since iTunes doesn't play well with non-iPods. Windows Media Player isn't bad just as a music player, but it lacks most of the bells and whistles other players offer. I of course have Creative MediaSource installed, as it offers the best sync options for my MP3 player, but for a desktop music player, the one I like best is called Songbird.

Songbird uses the Firefox web browser's underlying architecture as a programming platform, and is thus very web integrated, with a variety of add-ons available. It's easily configurable to access my music library (all my songs are stored in c:\mp3, podcasts go to c:\mp3\podcasts), and has all the features I can hope for. Of course, for watching movies, I use VLC Media Player.

Here's a few media players I was playing with:

Songbird
aTunes
foobar2000

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