Tuesday, October 03, 2006

ipods on the bus

Contrary to popular belief, ipods do more than aid undergrads in looking hip and staying distracted in lectures. The ipod has become much more than a tiny walkman and can be a useful productivity or entertainment tool when the lively conversation and breath-taking scenery of the bus just isn't doing it for you.

We'll assume that you are familiar with the basic music and video features and try to point out a few more interesting ways that your ipod can keep you company on transit trips.

Podcasts are "the big thing" for ipods. Podcasts allow you to constantly update your ipod with a wide variety of new audio tracks whenever you sync with itunes. We won't go into detail on the process; there are plenty of HowTos out there. Instead we want to higlight the variety of content. ipods are not just for music anymore.
* eduaction- epnweb tracks educational podcasts on a variety of topics. Learn something on your commute.
* magazine articles- Assistive Media provides audio versions of articles from the NewYorker, the Atlantic, WIRED, MAD magazine, Scientific American, Esquire... you get the idea. The articles are intended for visually impaired people, but they also work well for those who can't read on the bus.
* audiobooks- There are a million sources for these. Some free and some pay. PublicDomainPodcasts offers 15-30 minute chunks of classics for free.
*academic lectures- Turn your bus ride into a lecture hall with podcasts of lectures from multiple universities, including Berkley, Princeton, and Stanford.
*language study- Again, there are many, many of these, just search a little. We've heard that these Chinese and Japanese ones are quite good. ELT provides free podcasts for English learners.
*news- NPR, CNN, BBC, etc.
*Ypsi school board meetings- Yep, the techno-cool community in Ypsi sweeps A2 again. There are rumors of podcasting counsil meetings as well. Not everyone will be thrilled at the opportunity to suffer through these meetings, but if you are interested, the bus is a great place to catch up on what you missed.
You can search for more podcasts at ipodder, podcast.net, and the itunes interface.

Other applications
*recipes- plan your menu and shopping list using the Pocket Bar & Grill for the ipod.
*calendar- newer ipods have a caledar that will help you track appointments and the busride is a good time to organize the rest of your day.
*games- If you are willing to put in the effort, and nix your warranty, you can load Doom on your ipod. We should note that this requires installing Linux, at which point the possibilities (and tech problems) are endless.
*bus schedules- Not yet, but wouldn't it be great if you could check the bus schedule on your ipod like they can at Humboldt U? If AATA can't get an RSS feed working for their bus locations, they could at least provide something like this.

Hopefully these will create a new appreciation for the possibilities of combining bus and ipod. Whether studying Chinese or rocking out, keep in mind that your fellow passengers don't want the aural residue of your entertainment, so keep the volume reasonable.


Edward said...

Thanks for the pointer to Assistive Media - it's locally produced, and indeed it's great bus materials.

The iPod versions of AATA schedules would be a great idea. The lofi hack to do it would be to record your own mini-schedule for the places and routes you frequent, and save that - that way you could do the audio version of it and not have to fumble around with it. Have to try that....

Bruce Fields said...

"language study- Again, there are many, many of these, just search a little. We've heard that these Chinese and Japanese ones are quite good."

The various national news outlets often put out podcasts these days, which can also be fun....