Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

If you have been on Internet for even some time lately chances are you might have come across the word podcast. Confusing to lot of people as it may seem at first, the concept is simple and straightforward.Lets demystify this podcast phenomenon.

The podcast icon

So what is this podcast thing?
Speaking for the comman person when you think of podcast think of episodes of your favourite TV show. Just as TV show episodes follow each after regular time periods (may be daily, weekly etc) similarly podcasts also follow each other. TV shows are broadcast into the air you may or may not decide to view them similarly podcasts are let loose over the Internet again you may or may not choose to listen or view them.

How is podcasting done?
The initial phase of recording and editing are generally similar to that of TV and radio shows( although podcasts generally have a lot more goofs), but after this initial phase podcasts have to be packaged into files that you can download and view either on your computer or on your ipod or other devices(actually ipod is the main reason they are named podcasts). All these files are then made available for download by the podcasters. Generally the podcast has its own site where you can go and download the episode you want to.

So how is the payment done? Is it costly?
Well it turns out that all the podcasts that I have come across to date (some four thousand) are all free, If there is a paid service then I am not aware of one at this moment, but then who will pay when literally you have thousands of free channels or podcasts to choose from. Will you?

Why would someone do podcasts if they are free?
Podcasts are free for you to view and download but people get paid via advertisments(yep, sadly ads here too, but the best part is we can skip ahead :)) in the podcasts. Some sites have podcasts linked to their sites content so such podcasts help in promoting the website, or some people do it just because they want to express themselves and let the world know of their prespective (see some similarity to blogging here?).

Distributed via RSS

Ok its free thats ok but that going to sites to download thing seems too much of a hassle. Can’t I just somehow switch channels as I do on TV ?
Actually you can. With additional software on your computer you can essentially have the "channel changing experience". In fact you might already be running some of this software, heard of Winamp or Amorak? Or the good old iTunes? Yes they can be used catch podcasts of the net automatically on to your computer. Other softwares worth considering here are Miro, podget on linux and the latest Rythombox player. (PS Presently working on setting up MythTV to view podcasts and TV shows, pause live TV, record TV shows. As soon as I complete it will let you know the complete setup). You can even convert it for your iPod or other portable device and listen or view them on the go!

Enough of the background but whats the content like? Is there something worthwhile to view or listen to?
As I said earlier, there are thousands of audio and video podcasts to choose from so you can very well imagine the content scenario here :). You can get anything ranging from tech shows, gaming shows, comedy, drama, science shows, DIY tutorials, hacks, photoshop, fashion, sex education pretty much everything. Lets put it this way "If you can think of it, you can mostly find a podcast for yourself".

I am getting interested in this stuff more and more. Can you point me to some good ones and let me know how to go about it?
Ya sure, first make sure you have a podcatching software. Here are my recommondations
Audio podcasts – Winamp on windows, Rythmbox or Amorak on Linux
Video podcasts – iTunes on Windows, Miro on Windows as well as Linux
Next step is to choose some podcasts, my suggestion for starters is to check out Revision3, they have lots of shows that you can download and subscribe to. Or simply check out the search functionality in Miro. Once you find the podcast(s) you were looking for just click on the Add this channel button and its added. Miro will start downloading the latest episode and will automatically download whenever a new episode is released(you can change the automatic thing if you want). Now just play around, build up your taste you will surely find content that suits your need and taste. Just let us all know which are your favourite ones so that we can try them too 🙂

Oh.. and by the way its very simple to set up your own podcast too. I will have an article on that shortly.. And may be sometime in future this blog may have its own podcast too. What do you think about the idea? let me know.

Some other useful links:

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Picking up the conversation between Ruby and Mova about Linux Demystified, here is part 2 of the conversation. Apparently Ruby has received cds through ShipIt and is excited to try out Ubuntu. Mova being the ideal helpful guy for the situation again helps her out. So here we go:

Ruby: Hi Mova, I got Ubuntu cds and I m very excited to try Ubuntu, but I am a little skeptical, should I completely remove Windows or can I have 2 operating systems on one computer?
Mova: Well, that is a matter of personal preference. Theoretically speaking you cannot have two operating systems on the same computer, but there is a very commonly used work around to this. Its known as partitioning the Hard Disk.

Ruby: What is partitioning? How can I do it? Please elaborate.
Mova: Try opening My Computer on your Windows machine and see if you can find hard drive icons marked something like C:, D:, E:. These are nothing but partitions on your hard disk. Partitions let you slice your hard disk into smaller units. All this is logical means that you don’t actually have to take saw and hammer to slice your hard disk. lol.. If you right click on any of them (Shortcut key is Alt + Enter) then you can see the properties of each of the partitions which also includes their size. If you add up the size of all the partitions it should roughly sum up to the capacity of your hard disk. I say roughly because some space is unused and kept reserved by the manufacturers.
You can partition the hard disk using a variety of methods, at time of installation or from within Computer Management, or using utility cds like Hiren’s Boot CD.

Ruby: Why do I need partitioning? This seams scary. What if I mess up?
Mova: Using partitioning you trick the operating system to believe that there is no other operating system on the hard disk. Operating Systems are not very friendly you see. They can’t ever exist on the same partition. It is a bit scary for the first time, but once you get hold of it, its a piece of cake. And yes if you mess up partitioning, more often then not you are in a bad bad situation 🙂

Ruby: No no no I am not ready to take any risks with my data, probably I will wait till I get a new Computer and then install Ubuntu on it.
Mova: There is nothing to be worried about. Have you ever installed a software in Windows?

Ruby: Huh? what sort of question is this? Of course I have.
Mova: Then I assure you and guarantee you that you can install Ubuntu without doing any damage to your computer or data. Trust me I wont lie.

Ruby: But I have never done partitioning, and then I have heard that its even more difficult to configure a dual boot system. There is GRUB, there is LILO, MBR, NTLDR and all kinds of words, I don’t know about any of them, I am not sure I want to do this.

wubi installer
Wubi Ubuntu Installer

Mova: As I said, you have to trust me. I have nothing to gain if you install Ubuntu or not so I won’t misguide you. I say its easy then I mean its easy. Okay if you don’t believe me have a look at Wubi at http://wubi-installer.org/

Ruby: Wubi! I like the name, It rhymes with mine! But what is it?
Mova: In one word it is an “installer”. It helps you install Linux inside Windows! Yes I said “Inside Windows”. It doesn’t resize or create new partitions and it doesn’t change your Windows installation. As they say and I quote, “No need to burn a CD. Just run the installer, enter a password for the new account, and click “Install”, go grab a coffee, and when you are back, Ubuntu will be ready for you.”

Ruby: Oh this means my wait for the cd was all futile?

hardy heron
Hardy Heron

Mova: Well not exactly, what Wubi does is that it downloads the files from the Internet, but having them on the cd before hand just makes your work faster and a little more reliable. So you did the right thing Ruby! As of Ubuntu Hardy Heron, Wubi is included in the installation cd. So you wont have to download anything.

Ruby: Ok ok, Just for curiosity’s sake is this another of Linux’s Magic? I mean how Wubi manages to do so?
Mova: First of all, Congrats to Agostino Russo, who came up with this idea of Wubi! I myself Love it. The idea is somewhat similar to what we have been discussing. It actually tricks the Operating System to believe that it has its own hard disk and no other operating system exists on it. However the similarity ends there. While we were discussing partitioning, Wubi actually installs the system as a file (c:\ubuntu\disks\root.disk) inside Windows and Linux sees this file as a hard disk. It uses a loop mount file system but thats getting technical so we leave it for some other time!

Ruby: So how do I proceed with Wubi?
Mova: Although there is no risk but it is always a good idea to back up your important data. You take some time, backup your data, till then I will prepare all the steps for you and write it in a systematic manner. Do check me here soon.

End of part 2. Don’t forget to join us when Mova provides a step by step tutorial on Linux Installation!

Check out part 1 of the conversation here

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Following is the conversation between Ruby and Mova (fictional characters). Ruby is a charming young girl (just in case you would like to picture 🙂) and Mova is random guy who likes to hang out on IRC networks 🙂 Ruby has heard of Linux but she is not clear and confident, with all the confusion surrounding Linux, Mova being a helpful guy (like me) is helping her out.

Ruby: So what is this Linux thing ?
Mova: Hmm.. Nice question. You can much search this question and get pretty much millions of results on Google. However, in plain english: "It is an operating system". Just like Windows is an operating system, similarly Linux is an operating system that is required to be installed on your computer before you can install your favorite music players, media players or any other applications.

Ruby: What is an operating system ?
Mova: Your computer system is a collection of a number of components(like the monitor, processor, cd drive etc). If you have ever lead a team(of any kind) you know that its your responsibility to keep the team together if you want to achieve your goal. An operating system works similarly to a team leader. It makes sure that the components of the computer work together to achieve the goal i.e. to get your work done. So to get any kind of work on your computer you must have an operating system. If you are reading this chances are you have Windows on your computer. Windows is an operating system, so is Linux, Unix and Mac OS.

Ruby: Okay I get that, but why Linux? I have Microsoft Windows(or Mac OS) on my machine and I am satisfied.
Mova: Yes, you are satisfied, but are you sure? Ever heard of something like V… Vir… Virus? Ever installed an expensive AntiVirus Software to protect your computer? only to find out you are not safe enough? Ever had an unresponsive pc, when you had to restart in the middle of your work and lost unsaved changes?
Now what if I say I can give you a "Magic CD" that would take care of all these? Interested??

Ruby: Sounds good but what is on the "Magic CD"? I hope its not too expensive.
Mova: Well you might have guessed the contents. The CD contains high resolution images of mine, that you set as your wallpaper and I will take care of your computer!! Naaa.. just kidding.
Of course the CD has "Linux" on it. And BTW if you are still wondering about the price "ITS FREE".

Ruby: What?? How is that possible? I pay so much for Windows. How can Linux be free? Is it substandard or under development stuff? If not where do the developers get their money from?
Mova: I m not joking on this one, most versions of Linux are indeed free.
Yes all this while you have been paying for Windows. If you are getting your first look on Linux now then, mmm.. you are LATE. Not very late though, because earlier versions of Linux were not very user friendly anyway. And let me get this across to you very very straight: "Linux is by no means substandard, or inferior just because you are not being charged for it", in fact it is much more stable than Windows.

Ruby: Oh yes now I remember I have heard about Free Software earlier also.
Mova: Wait wait wait.. the "Free" in "Free software" is often misunderstood. The "Free" that is mentioned in "Free Software" refers to "Freedom of use". When you think of "Freedom of use" think of "Freedom of speech" as there is in democratic countries. The "Free" in "Free Software" refers to this kind of freedom. It eliminates the restrictions on copying, redistributing, studying and modifying software. Now moving to the use of "Free" in monetary context, the "Free Software" may or may not be free money wise. Although it often is Free Monetarily also.

Ruby: I am confused now(with sad face)
Mova: Well I know its confusing, but I had to make that one clear, we Linux and Open Source enthusiasts don’t like to hide anything(pun intended!!). Just read it again and I am sure it will be clear.

Ruby: Ya I got it I think, but anyway enough of philosophy, I want to try it now, where can I get that "Magic CD" ?
Actually there are hundreds of such Magic CD’s available freely(guess used in which sense) on the Internet. Which one you want is a matter of personal choice. These are called Distributions(Distros) of Linux. But since you are new to all this stuff and looking at the present day scenario I would suggest you go ahead with Ubuntu without a second thought. You can download it here.

Ruby: Ubuntu? that sounds like an African Tribe.
Mova: Yes it actually is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution(remember I mentioned Distros?) brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.

Ruby: Hmm.. philosophy again, but its showing that the download is about 700 MB that would take days on my connection to complete. I wish I could get it from stores.
Mova: At many places you can get it from stores also. Or else try ShipIt. They send you cds totally free of cost almost anywhere in the world. No shipping charges, nothing.

Ruby: Wow.. that’s cool.. I m really liking this whole setup, wish I could repay them in some way.
Mova: You surely can, the least you can do is help others around you who may be needing the cds or some help. You are free to copy the cds and distribute to your friends, students, colleagues.

Ruby: I have requested the cds, they say it can take 4 to 6 weeks to deliver. But in case I need more information where can I find it?
There are plenty of resources available on the Internet, try these:


Ruby: I will surely try Linux then and let you know my experiences. Bye for now.
Mova: Bye.. and yes, Welcome to the World of Linux.


End of conversation!! [Applause]

This is my first time writing Fiction 🙂 so bare with it.. And BTW I plan to continue. Comments are invited, let me know if you liked the style and would like to see more of such conversations and about which topics.

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