Podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts lately. The term has been floating around the media, web and other, quite a bit. So I thought it was time for me to dabble. I usually use my Zen Touch to listen to music while walking to campus and back. The walk can take upto 20 minutes depending on which part of campus I’m headed towards. But listening to the same few 100 songs over and over was getting monotonous. So that was another reason to start listening to podcasts.

Juice is the podcast reciever that use currently and it seems to do the job fairly well. However, I have to use a different application to synch my MP3 player with my music. Thanks to Microsofts PlayForSure, I can use WMP10 to do this. It’d be nice if I could do it in the same app, but tight coupling has generally been a hallmark of portable devices. iPod and iTunes is the best example of a this horrendous design. Sure, it works well for Apple, but for the increasingly tech-concious consumer it is an unfair expectation.

The podcasts that I currently subscribe and listen to are:
1) Engadget
2) Prison Planet
3) The World’s Technology Podcast
4) The Weekly Rundown

In my podcast travails so far, I’ve come across some absolutely terrible ones. That, I guess, is the disadvantage of having a free flow of information and media on an unregulated web. All of a sudden, the Chinese censorship doesn’t look at that bad 😀

What is a podcast anyway? Wikipedia does a good job of explaining it all. Podcast.net is also a useful, if a little confusing resource, for locating new podcasts. If anyone has knowledge of better software and new/more interesting audio-feeds, be sure to let me know!

Enough *** Already

Google never fails to make the headlines. Be it the release of the Google Pack, or setting a court date with the federal government. Last week it was their decision to enter the Chinese market with an official .cn website. This decision has been criticized by everyone and their uncles. Today, I heard perhaps the worst argument for why they should not have done this.

For the uninitiated, China, with its communist ruling party, does not have the same freedom of speech that we enjoy in what can be termed western influenced democracies. They required that if Google was launching an official Chinese version of their search engine, they censor results that the government was opposed to. China is dealing with the flack of such decisions in their own way, thought various human rights watchdog organizations.

I was listening to a newly downloaded podcast today and I was treated to some horrendous commentary. “Google is an American company, hiring American workers, making American dollars. I can not understand their reasoning for doing something so preposterous.” Thankfully, I have deleted this podcast from my players and have unsubscribe to its feed. It is pretty amazing the crap that people are allowed to put out on the net. All of a sudden I’m all for censorship! 😉

To refute: Google is owned by its share holders. One of its founders is Russian by birth. It stock is traded on the NASDAQ. It makes money in all kinds of currencies and they have employees all over the world.

All that is unimportant. The point of contention here is whether Google did the right thing by acceding to the demands of the Communist rule in China. I believe that they have done the right thing. By providing the Chinese with some results in their own language, in their own way, they are providing the basis of what might becomes the a movement for more freedom of speech and expression. Google, I am told, tells the user when their search has been censored. MSN and Yahoo, companies with a longer presence in China, do not do the same.

Yes, I am a Google aficionado. It may seem to readers, that in my eyes, Google can do nothing wrong. Not true. I have criticized some of their actions in the past. In this case, I believe they are doing the right thing. Here is a link to a well written article that I closely mirrors my own feelings.

P.S. The *** in the post title is meant to censorship. Get it? Har! Har!

Love affair with with Google

As my love affair with Google continues, I bring you two pieces of news that just makes they even more lovable. The first is that Google has proclaimed their IM platform, Google Talk to be an open federation. Quoting straight from the Google Blog, “Open federation is technical jargon for when people on different services can talk to each other.” Email is a federated system. As is the phone service. Can you imagine a world where one is only able to call or e-mail another who subscribes to the same service? I’d have to have a million different e-mail addresses (as opposed to my current 20!) and 10 different phones. Why should IM (and VoIP) be any different? Hooray for Google. As of now, Talk is only compatible with a few smaller players, most of whom proclaimed to be open source anyway. But hopefully the bigger players (Yahoo!, MSN, AIM, and Skype will all follow suite).

The second reason for my extolling the virtues of Google today? This blog entry. Phone companies have been threatening to create a “2-tiered” internet system for a while now. In simple terms, traffic from their own ISP, websites and customers will be given preference on pipes that they own. Unless the big websites (read Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) pay them a fee. Google has gone ahead and called their bluff. I expect that Yahoo! will soon follow suite.

Now for what may even be termed a rant against Google. Surprised? I recently installed Google Desktop v2. In the 2 days that I’ve had it installed, I didn’t use it all that much. And it seemed to slow down my system a fair bit. I also noticed that my Google searches were taking upwards of half a second now. This is a big change, when I’m used to a response in under one-tenth of a second. By my own admission, I’m a fairly organised person. And this shows on my computer too. I can find almost any file on my PC within a few seconds. However, I can see the use of the software to a person with less technical competencies and a more disorganised lifestyle. If I can find a compelling reason to stay with the Desktop, I may continue with it. Otherwise, it is possible the first piece of Google software that I am disappointed with.

Firefox

I wonder why it took me so long to disconver Firefox. I guess I’ll put it down to laziness. I read about it all the time and have seen tons of reasons why it’s better than IE. I finally made the plunge and am loving it so far. Get it here