Monday, August 15, 2005

Before pod casts

Before pod casts, there were radio programs. Before pod casts there were audio books. Well, there still are radio programs and audio books. Pod casts are really quite popular. And why not? The listener gets to listen whenever they want.

So why didn't we record our favorite radio programs and listen to them on our schedule? Well i did. I've got this X-10 clock that can turn things on and off. And, a wall wart thingy that can respond to the clock, into which, you can plug in things. So my receiver and tape deck are set up. Set the tape deck to record on power up (a rare feature), set the tuner to the right station, and bingo. Then just play the tape whenever. Alright, rewind, then play the tape. Alright, the tape player in my car died, was replaced by a CD player, and this whole exercise is pointless.

If i have high bandwidth, i can download several hours of program, cut a CD, and play it in the car. Of course, the pod casts have to be in mp3 format, and certain combinations of settings used during recording don't happen to work on the car CD player. It just isn't a perfect world. But, my computer plays nearly anything.

I've found a way to listen to audio books for free. The first step is to download a book from Project Gutenberg. The next step is to convert it to wav files with a free program called festival. Then, these wav files are converted to mp3 via notlame or the equivalent. Then a CD is cut using mkisofs and cdrecord. My computer reads very fast, but not all that well. Still, I've come to understand the readings. I have somewhere around five hours a week in the car. That gets me through another book every week or so - perhaps forty books a year. Oh - i'm getting something like 70 hours of mono audio books on a CD. I'm using rewritable CDs, and have gotten two or three uses on each of several disks, so far.

My recent list includes all of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Aurthur's Court by Twain, From the Earth to the Moon by Verne, the entire 8 volume Tarzan series and the John Carter series by Burroughs, Wizard of Oz by Baum, Dr. Dolittle by Lofting, Dracula by Stoker, Origin of the Species by Darwin, the entire Green Gables series by Montgomery, and several astronomy books from about 1900.

And yet, i still had time to read the (now) six Harry Potter books, and the Amber series by Zelany on dead trees.

There are hints on how to cut your own free books on my web site.

It's a new world.

No comments: