Thursday, January 29, 2015

99 Percent Invisible - Podcast Recommendation

99% Invisible - Podcast Recommendation

A podcast is a radio show without the radio.

With a podcast, you download the audio to a local device (I like to use my tablet or phone, or you can use your computer).  In this age of Youtube and Instagram, it may seem archaic to listen to audio, but it is a wonderful medium - especially when done right.

The Podcast 99 Percent Invisible (produced by Mr. Roman Mars) is notable because of how well it is produced, written and recorded, and the the stories are uniquely interesting.  I have been listening to the episodes for several weeks.


Podcasting

Podcasting can be intimidating to those who have never tried, but in reality, the process is easy.  Listening on a tablet or phone is more convenient than the computer, but either works well.  On a tablet or phone, the key is to download a (free) player that you like.  Naturally, I have a recommendation.

For mobile, go to the app-store and download the podcast player "Podcast Addict". *

Once the program launches, search for "99% Invisible," add it to your play list, choose an episode and press Play; see below for how to search in this program, it is weird, but you only have to search one time to setup the program.

When playing, it will automatically download or you can choose "download only," for later play.  Because the audio files are small, they download in just a few seconds and in either case, the show plays off the wire.

Or, on the computer go to http://99percentinvisible.org, choose Episodes, then Play.  No player or special program is needed.  (I had not tried the computer until I started writing this article and I was surprised how easy it was.  The drawback to this method is you have to go to each website to play the shows and it won't track which ones you have already listened to).

The podcasts and players are free and both have unobtrusive advertising.  99%, being part of NPR, welcomes donations, which you can see on their website.


Why This Podcast?

Honestly, Roman Mars and his staff have the world's best radio voices - velvety smooth.  And of course there are the episodes.  Here is a sampling:

"Of Mice and Men"  - The man who invented the Computer Mouse, Doug Englebart.

"Penn Station Sucks" - Why New York's Penn Station is such a joyless place

"Octothorpe"  - The pound-symbol's (hash, number-sign, #) origin, starting with Ma Bell

"Vexillonaire" - How to design a kick-ass flag

"The Straight Line is a Godless Line" - Architecture by Austrian artist Hundertwasser


Another recommended series to listen to is NPR's "Radio Lab".  Your other suggestions are welcome in the comments area.


*Podcast Addict - Mobile Player
I am recommending this app for mobile devices, but it is quirky.

Finding the search menu is infuriating.  Here is the hint:  On the top menu, click the circle-plus (+).  Use the Search Engine to look for 99% Invisible or Radio Lab.  Who would have guessed that was where the search was hiding.

To return to the main play menu, click the tablet's (phone's) back-arrow button (oddly, the main play menu is not a menu choice from other places in this program, or if it is, I haven't figured it out).

Finally, one last oddity, when you pick an episode, there are two play buttons, both on the bottom of the screen (at least on my tablet), either works.  Why two?  No clue.  There is probably a reason.

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