28 July 2008

From the archive: iPod shuffle

Here’s an article that I wrote back in July 2005, but never got around to publishing. Not sure why, actually.

Yesterday I succumbed to the desire to be hip and joined the crowds of white-headphone-wearing teenyboppers. Yes, I bought a 1 GB iPod shuffle.

But besides the allure of having the latest gadget, there are a few interesting things happening with Apple that made me finally decide to go with them.

First, Apple has added support for downloading podcasts to iTunes. Many bloggers are complaining about their initial secrecy and non-standard implementation, but I think the fact that they’ve quickly moved into this new market speaks well of their company.

Although I haven’t been a regular podcast subscriber, last summer I listened to a few different ones by burning them onto CDs and listening on the way to work. The format has always appealed to me: a combination of RSS notification and automatic downloading via hyperlinks. Podcasting really shows the versatility of RSS as a syndication mechanism, outside its origins in blog and news feeds.

Apple’s software and devices providing a painless way to listen to podcasts sounded like a great idea to me. Certainly no other vendors will have this level of support for some time. I have created my first podcast subscription (TWIT), even though I still can’t connect my iPod to my PC. But more on that later.

Interesting how things haven’t changed that much. Apple’s podcast support hasn’t improved drastically, but it has been good enough for thousands (millions?) of people around the world to use it daily. Their devices have improved a lot in three years, but they already had in 2005 as well.

Downloading stuff via feeds is still cool. Lately, I’ve been using feeds of TV show torrents to pull down TV shows automatically.

In terms of other vendors involved in podcasts and feed-related stuff, Microsoft jumped pretty heavily into RSS a few years ago, but to be honest I haven’t seen a lot of this because I’ve never used Windows Vista. Are there new compelling uses of feed technology in the Windows ecosystem that I should be aware of?