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APCUG Reports
October-December 2005

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Podcasting
by Dan Hanson

Listen to me!

You have too much to read. So do I. So do your members. Between print publications, web pages and lots of interesting blogs there is a ton of great information available that you don't want to miss but just canít find the time to read. Even using RSS feeds, there is still just too much!

I have found that by listening to audio information, whether at my PC or via a podcast on my MP3 player, I can listen to the information while doing other things.

Podcasting is a term that comes from a combination of the name of the popular Apple MP3 player, the iPod, and broadcasting. But you don't need an iPod to listen to podcasts. In general, podcasts are audio content delivered through the Internet that you can download and then play on your PC (or laptop or Mac or...) or transferred to a portable MP3 player (like an iPod) so you can listen offline.

Normally when you click on an audio link, your system will open your audio software and start playing it. You can also save it as a MP3 file to listen to later. That's the easiest way to get started. A podcast requires special podcasting software. There are many free podcast software applications available including iPodder for the PC, Mac and Linux.

Once you have a podcasting program, you can subscribe to various podcast audio programs just like you subscribe to RSS feeds to read blogs or web sites.

Just copy the podcast feed link (often an orange button that says XML, RSS or Podcast) and paste that URL into your podcast software. The software will then automatically download new audio files when they are available. If you have a synching mp3 player, like the iPod, your audio files will be waiting for you on your device to take along on your day.

As a longtime user group member and attendee at APCUG events, I am interested in looking back at those early days and remembering the special events and people. Besides the founding officers like Rollie Cole and Jerry Schneider, I have tons of other great memories about APCUG members, vendors and events.

Using the new podcasting capability, I started doing interviews with some of these early people and some current folks too. I put the interviews on a web page (www.GreatLakesGeek.com) and started scanning in photos from the old days. So, for example, you can see the magnificent IBM ice sculpture from the Chicago Spring Comdex event in 1992 as you listen to an interview with Gene Barlow.

I am also interviewing industry figures such as book publisher Tim OíReilly and Adobe Founder Chuck Geschke. Feel free to tell your members so they too can hear what Tim, Chuck and others have to say about user groups, technology, their companies and the future.

Visit when you get a chance; listen to some of the interviews and take a look at the photos. If you have images from the early days please send them to me to be posted on the site for others to see. Also, if there are people from the past who you know how to contact, please forward their information so we can capture their memories.

Itís easy to start your own podcast. I use open source audio editing software and a cheapo $2 mic that I plug into my laptop. Then you just wrap a little XML around the file, post it on your website and you are an online radio host!

Itís a great and basically free way to capture sound from your meetings and make it available to your members and others. Look for podcasts of APCUG events from our January conference on the website.

Though Apple has just released a video version of the iPod, I will stick with the audio. That way my eyes can wander as I listen and I can be productive while getting my news and tech info fixes. Give it a try.