Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pocasts ROCK!

I have discovered that you can listen to audio, MP3s, whatever, on any budget at any time.

Let me start with the fact that I do have an iPod, which I love. I know they are a little price-y, but my kids, who I do not trust with anything over $50 have a cheap old MP3 player from Christmas last year and it works great! In fact, theirs has a digital voice recorder and I am a little jealous of that. And I think that was $15 or so. So, like I said, anyone can listen to audio.

My first iPod was old. (Yes, I have had 2.) I did not think I was an early-adopter, but I must have been, because my old one is the model before what they now call “classic” and I cannot find it anywhere, even online! It had the buttons just under the screen (not on the wheel) and it was black & white only. I had that thing for 4 years and it worked great that whole time.

When I got my first one, I loaded it up with all my CDs and proceeded to almost NEVER listen to music on it. I highly recommend audio programs. When I was gainfully employed and had discretionary money, I had a subscription to, which was awesome. There are two levels of subscriptions and I had the higher one, which was 2 book credits per month for about $25. It was an amazing deal. Most books only require one credit, although really long books might be two. You can also get a lot of newspapers, magazines, radio shows and other things.

I love listening to books on my iPod. Now I can see why kids like to be read to so much! I did that almost exclusively for years. I listened to the music a little, but not much. I listened when I was waiting (for the kids, at the doctor’s office, wherever), working out, knitting (I know some knitter have mastered the ability to read a book and knit, but I have not!) and when I was trying to sleep at bedtime. There are so many times and places where an MP3 player is just easier to take out or even listen to than a book. It has gotten to the point where audio actually puts me to sleep so if I am having difficulty sleeping, I just put on my headphones and a podcast and fall right to sleep!

I even chose books based on whether they were available on audible. I wrote down recommendations from magazines and friends and if they were not on audible, they just did not happen. I always had a backlog of books to listen to, but it was like that pile next to the bed (you know you have one!) and took up a lot less space.

Then, I became a SAHM and it got interesting. I did not want to spend the amount every month on books. (In addition to the $25 deal, I think they also have a $15 deal for one book credit per month.) That is when I got really into podcasts, which are free! Think of podcasts as blogs you can listen to. Some of them are audio, which is great for in the car or in bed or whatever. I also like to listen to them when I get out of the shower and am getting ready for the day. But I also have a few video podcasts that I subscribe to as well.

Let me define “subscribe”. I use iTunes, which is not common for those with anything other than an iPod. So this may not apply to everyone, but when I subscribe to a podcast using iTunes, it is free AND when a new episode comes out, it is automatically downloaded to my PC, which I love. I am perhaps the most forgetful person ever, so without this little feature, I would forget a lot, probably until I had nothing left and then I would spend a full day downloading everything I missed.

Video podcasts do eat up battery life, but with something that is rechargeable, it is not as big a deal. Video also requires an MP3 player that supports that medium. Not all MP3 players do that. I mentioned my first iPod above and it did NOT support video. Now I have a nano (not the new one, but last year’s model) and I love that it supports video, but if it did not, there are plenty of audio podcasts that would be just great and I have plenty to listen to, so I am sure I could fill up my time with just audio. In fact, I have the ability to listen to/watch both and I’ll bet I still do 80% audio.

I do not know a lot about finding them without an application like iTunes to consolidate them, but within iTunes, you can just find podcasts and put whatever your interests are into the search bar. The problem I had was narrowing it down to what I knew I could listen to before the new ones came out.

I am also a little anal-retentive, so when I find something I really like, I listen to all the old episodes to get “caught up” so I have a few that are current only (news and such)and many where I have listened to all the old episodes I could get my hands on.

This may not be for everyone, but it is a great way to do more than one thing at once, which I know every mom wants to do!

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