Seven ideas for topping up your iPod
It’s been almost two years since I last blogged on what content I was feeding my iPod so here’s an update on what’s keeping mine fresh.
Music you don’t know the name of
If you get a song in your head you’d like but don’t know what it is then Midomi might be what you are looking for.
The site takes 10 seconds or more of your attempts at singing or humming the track and then tries to match it against the songs it knows about. The catalogue isn’t particularly comprehensive right now but it has a reasonable selection of tracks. You can also help it improve results by singing a fragment of a song that it will use for matching providing you don’t mind anyone being able to listen to it.
Educational tracks for free
This May Apple launched iTunes U – a section of the iTunes Store featuring free educational content from various US colleges and universities.
The tracks are mostly unedited and lack polish but some of the content covers everything from philosophy to economics and technology so there should be something to interest you.
Audio books for free
- Simply Audiobooks have a small selection their library available for free as well as a rental club and purchasing options that ship physical media. The download club option is not compatible with the iPod. (Microsoft’s PlaysForSure is worst name ever – it doesn’t play on the iPod or Microsoft’s own Zune)
- LibriVox use volunteers to record chapters of books available in the public domain and put the completed audio books up in mp3 and ogg formats. The quality of speaker can be variable and the content spans classical literature.
Podcasts for free
The podcast scene just keeps growing but finding what suits you can be tricky. My favourites currently include:
- BBC Focus podcast of the popular monthly science and technology magazine
- DotNetRocks developer podcast with guests including Phil Hack, Rob Conery, Jeff Atwood, Scott Guthrie and Miguel de Icaza
- Productive Talk – an 8-episode podcast with David Allen on the subject of Getting Things Done (GTD)
Improve audio quality with iTunes Plus
Apple’s plan to remove digital rights management (DRM) whilst increasing audio quality on iTunes gains momentum with music publishers each day – no doubt enticed on by the increased margin and ability to get an extra few pence or cents from existing owners.
Besides the crisper sound and larger file sizes the other noticeable difference is that iTunes music sharing works with these tracks (Sharing protected AAC involves an authorisation landmine).
Head to the Tunes Plus link in the Quick Links box at the top right of the main store page. You should see an option to upgrade your library if any tracks can be upgraded but bear in mind it’s an all-tracks-or-nothing deal that costs £0.20 per track.
Watch your DVDs
Why not take a DVD you like, or better yet one you haven’t yet seen, with you on your iPod Video.
There are a number of tools to help you with the job of copying from DVD into an iPod friendly format but Handbrake is free, cross-platform and easy to use. As a bonus it also includes presets for other portable video devices such as the PlayStation Portable.
Why should iPhone owners have all the phone when the iPod Video is perfectly capable of watching YouTube content providing you upload it to your iPod before you set out.
There are many tools to do the download & conversion job but DVDVideoSoft’s one for Windows works quite well. For the Mac the latest 1.9 version of Squared 5 would appear to do the job but I haven’t yet tried it.