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PODCAST RECRUITS : What is a podcast?

There is nothing exceptionally technical or magical about a podcast.  In its most simple form, it’s really nothing more than an audio file, just like any mp3 you might download from a plain-old hyperlink, except these mp3s are contained in a bit of web code called an “XML enclosure”, which can provide more details and content than the ID3 tag of the mp3 itself can hold.  The enclosures define each individual post, or in this case, episode.  They provide information that helps to keep things organized and in proper order after you receive them.

In simpler terms, a podcast is like an audio magazine, and just like a real magazine, you can subscribe to it to get new content automatically.  It’s like having the new stuff delivered right to your door, instead of having to go out to the store to buy the next issue.  This site will support any method of listening to the show that’s more convenient for you, (live streaming, direct download or subscription), but wouldn’t it be nice to get a notice when a new episode is released, or even better, automatically receive the new episodes when you open your player? That’s what podcasts are all about!

PODCAST RECRUITS : Do I need a special program to subscribe?

There are many different ways to subscribe to a podcast, depending on your preference of “podcatcher”, or feed-capable audio player. Some of the more popular audio players have feed-reading capabilities built right in, and others were designed specifically for the purpose of “podcatching”.  Following are some popular programs capable of reading, downloading, organizing and playing podcast feed content:

PODCAST RECRUITS : Popular Podcatchers

winamp logo [ Winamp : Standard RSS ] : Winamp is a very flexible player that has come a long way since its initial release. Currently, Winamp can read standard RSS feeds, and will readily synchronize with most hand-held mp3 players, except for the Zune, which needs to work with its own software.  Zune users, see below for how to do an instant subcription!
itunes_logo [ iTunes : Proprietary Feed Format ] : Apple’s iTunes is another mainstream audio player and feed reader. The proprietary iTunes Music Store is accessible only through the iTunes interface, but CotG is listed there for you too!
juice logo [ Juice : Standard RSS] : Juice (formerly iPodder) is a dedicated podcatcher, designed from the get-go to make it easy to subscribe to, receive and play podcasts.

PODCAST RECRUITS : I installed the program. What do I do with it?

A podcast feed is nothing more than a kind of “playlist” written in XML, and it tells the podcatcher/player where to find the files that make up a show. Whenever you start the podcatcher/player program, it checks on the feed(s) that you have given it to see if anything has changed since the last time it checked. It’s a bit like checking the mailbox obsessively for the latest issue of your favorite magazine!

There are three primary ways to subscribe to a podcast, depending on your preferred reader program.

RSS logo [ Generic RSS ] : The first way is to point right at the XML file itself. This is called the generic feed. This symbol is the de-facto standard for indicating a link to the generic feed. In most cases, it’s easiest to simply right-click (or cmd-click for you Apple mouse folks) on the image, and copy the URL or shortcut that the image is pointing to. Then, in your podcatcher, find the option to add a new subscription, and paste in the feed URL you just copied.  Once you confirm the addition, the program should run with it from there on its own.  Enhanced audio players like Winamp use this method to accept new feeds.
PodcastLogo [ iTunes Subscribe ] : iTunes users have it a bit easier. When you click the image to the left, iTunes will pop up (if you have it installed), and take you directly to CotG’s entry in the iTunes Music Store, where you can either confirm the subscription to the show, or just download individual episodes as desired.  iTunes will handle the storage, organization and playback duties pretty much automatically.
Zune logo [ Zune Marketplace ] : Zune owners are a little stuck, since synching their Zune  portable player requires the use of the proprietary software. That’s okay though, because the show is still easy to get! Just click the link above, and if you have the Zune software installed, click the “Subscribe” button to send the feed to it, and viola! You’ve joined the fight, too! :)

These options cover just a few of the feed reader possibilities out there, but if you have a software preference that doesn’t seem to work with any of these methods, by all means drop us a line and let us know about it! Maybe we can help.

Enjoy! :)


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