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Fun iPod Tricks

by Wei-Meng Lee

Editor's Note -- At the recent BloggerCon and Mac OS X conferences, podcasting was a hot topic. Podcasting is included in this nifty collection of cool iPod tips.

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An iPod is more than just a music player; it's an Information device. Not only can you use your iPod to play music from your favorite singer or band, you can use it to listen to radio recordings, listen to "audio weblogs" (known as podcasts), and more. In this article I'll show you some tips for getting the most out of your iPod. I'll also explain how to manipulate the files stored on your iPod.

Tip #1 -- Recording Internet Radio

You have seen many FM radio transmitters designed for the iPod, but you haven't seen (but perhaps have heard of) radio receivers for the iPod. For whatever reasons, you are unlikely to see FM radio receivers for your iPod anytime soon. So what do you do if you want to listen to radio broadcast using your iPod?

Fortunately, internet radio broadcasting is making radio broadcast easily accessible, especially if you want to tune in to overseas radio broadcasts. To listen to radio on your iPod, you need to save the radio broadcast into your Mac and then copy it onto your iPod.

My favorite is the Oleg Kibirev's RadioRecorder, a free application under the General Public License version 2.

Using the RadioRecorder is straightforward -- simply type the URL of the broadcasting station and you are ready to record. The radio program is recorded as MP3 files and thus you need to ensure you have sufficient disk space on your Mac before you do the actual recording (since MP3 files are relatively huge). From my experience, one minute of recording takes up approximately 1MB of disk space, so budget for it.

The RadioRecorder also allows you to program it to record at a specific time (see Figure 1). It can also split the songs broadcasted into different files (if the radio stations send titles of the songs they play).

Figure 1. Using the RadioRecorder.

Best of all, the RadioRecorder automatically links with iTunes so that the radio recordings can be copied to your iPod the next time you connect your iPod to your Mac (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Viewing the recorded radio broadcast in iTunes.

Tip #2 -- Podcasting

Podcasting is a new term associated with weblogs. Increasingly, media files are found in weblogs, besides the usual text and graphics. RSS 2.0 supports a new feature known as enclosure, and it contains a URL pointing to media files in an RSS feed.

Podcasting is the aggregation of discrete, downloadable media files. While the term "podcasting" suggests an association with Apple's iPod, it is important to point out that podcasting is not limited to using Apple's iPod (for example, you can use Windows Media to listen to a podcast).

iPodder is a small application that runs on your Mac. It downloads audio files periodically from the Internet and copies them to iTunes so that they can be copied to your iPod.

Using iPodder, you can subscribe to several news feeds containing media files (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Using iPodder.

You can also configure iPodder to check for new podcasts at regular intervals (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Configuring iPodder to download new podcasts at regular time intervals.

Once the podcasts are downloaded, you can find them in iTunes (see Figure 5). And the next time you connect your iPod to your Mac, these podcasts would be copied onto your iPod.

Figure 5. Viewing the podcasts in iTunes.

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