What is a podcast?

Evanspodcast >> Download Chris Evans
>> The BBC Download Trial
>> Podcasting Explained
>> mp3.com: How to get a podcast
Radio 2 has recently joined the BBC’s Download Trial by offering an mp3 download of highlights from Chris Evans’ new Saturday show. This is available either as a direct download from the Radio 2 site, or you can subscribe to receive each new download file automatically as a podcast. Many listeners are confused or put-off by the word podcast, so here’s our simple explanation for podcasting beginners.

First of all you do not need to have an iPod to enjoy listening to a podcast. Podcasting is simply a way to have an audio file delivered automatically to your computer for you to listen to at your convenience. You can listen on your computer, or copy the audio file to a CD or a portable mp3 player or compatible mobile ‘phone or PDA.

Podcasting is a relatively new phenomenon, which originated as a way for amateur broadcasters to create an original downloadable radio show in their bedroom. The BBC was at the forefront of adapting the technology to make professional radio shows available as a regular download.

You’ll need specific software to “subscribe” to a podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your computer. There is a large range of software available, much of it free, and you can choose an appropriate programme for your operating system at sites like Podcast Alley or Podcasting News. The most popular free programmes include iPodder, Doppler and Apple’s own iTunes.

iTunes can also handle the transfer of files from your computer to an iPod, but if you want to transfer from a PC to any other portable player you’ll need to use Windows Media Player (or Windows Explorer) to handle the transfers.

For more help and advice on Podcasting see the BBC Download Trial FAQ pages

Rent A Peasant

Peasant >> Rent A Peasant
Here’s a site which brings you historical re-enactment with less warfare and more livestock! Chris and Louisa (veterans of The Silver Jarls of the Dunholm and Northumbria branch of the Vikings) noticed a gap in the re-enactment market, which was well served for pillage and warriors but lacking in peasants and serfs. Rent A Peasant was created to plug that gap, with a focus on providing not just peasants but also a whole range of suitable livestock for all your medieval re-enactment needs. Apparently two peasants are sufficient for most events but a range of associate peasants are on call to cover for the principal peasants in the event of sickness, or for corporate-scale peasantry.

A Poem For Space

Spacepoetry >> Poetry Society: A Poem For Space vote
Eagle-eared listeners will recall that we recently told you how to get your name added to a roll of honour that will be taking off from NASA next year bound for Pluto. In a similar vein, this online vote from the Poetry Society invites you to enjoy 10 poems which share a loose theme of space or intergalactic exploration, then vote for your favourite. The winning poem will go on display at the National Space Centre in Leicester with the possibility of it ultimately being launched into space.


Time2share >> Time2Share on Radio 2
Steve “fashionable knit-ware” Wright is the figurehead for Radio 2’s initiative as part of Year of the Volunteer 2005. The aim of the Time2Share campaign is to raise awareness of opportunities for voluntary work in the UK, and inspire people to get involved by giving time to charities, voluntary organisations and community groups. Radio 2’s mini-site provides detailed information about the campaign with suggestions of how to get involved, a space for you to post your experiences of volunteering and the opportunity to sign up for the scheme online.

BT Privacy Online

Modemprotection >> BT Privacy Online
This is a free download to help protect dial-up customers from the scam which runs up massive connection bills without the users knowledge. The software protects you from so-called "rogue diallers" by monitoring your modem and warning you if it attempts to dial a premium rate or international number.
>> More info from BBC News

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Oxfordbiogs >> Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
If you want to buy the print version of this weighty tome you’ll need a lot of shelf-space and a lot of money. It runs to 60 volumes and costs £7,550. But to celebrate its first birthday, the Oxford DNB’s subscription site is offering completely free access until midnight on Sunday. The site contains over 55,000 biographies of the lives of men and women who have influenced British life from the fourth century BC through to the end of 2001 – from Elizabeth I to John Lennon, William the Conqueror to Les Dawson and Stephen Wright (architect) to Daniel Mendoza (pugilist).

Compose your own mobile ringtones

Tonetag >> BBC Tonetag
This online tool on Radio 3’s Making Tracks site is the world’s first web-based ringtone composer software – which means you can use it on any computer and with any browser as long as you’re online. So instead of paying £1.50 or more for a ringtone you can use this service to create your own custom ringtone from scratch, and all it costs to send it to your ‘phone is 15p (or less) for one text message plus your network provider’s rate to download the ringtone via WAP. Bye bye crazy frog!


Dictionaraoke >> Dictionaraoke
This could have been a one-joke site, but it turns out to be rather addictive. Billed as “The fun of karaoke meets the word power of the dictionary”, it uses the audio clips from online dictionary sites like Merriam-Webster and Encarta and sets them to music, karaoke-style. Highlights include a pair of dictionaries duetting on Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and a surprisingly syncopated scholastic take on Britney Spears’ Oops, I Did It Again. All of the site’s musical creations are available as free mp3 downloads.

Online House Hunting By Map

Ononemap >> On One Map
Mrs Website of the Day is the main property website expert in our house, and she was quite excited by this site – Billed as the UK’s first property search engine, you can search for homes for sale in a particular location, specifying the number of bedrooms and a maximum price. Your search results are displayed on a zoomable map (powered by the excellent Google Maps service), so you can see at a glance whether it really is “a short walk to the station”. Each house icon on the map links through to the estate agents’ own sites for further information. With more than 50% of all the homes currently for sale in England, Scotland and Wales listed here it’s an excellent place to start your online house hunting.

Gurning Championships

A gurn is a distorted facial expression, which typically involves projecting the lower jaw as far forward and up as possible, and covering the upper lip with the lower lip.
This year’s gurning championships took place over the weekend at The Egremont Crab Fair in Cumbria. BBC Cumbria were there throughout, and have posted an alarming number of photo galleries on their site. It’s not always pretty, but it’s always a revelation to those of us unversed in the ways of the gurner. The Crab Fair’s official site provides an interesting history of the event from 1267 to the present day, explaining the gurning championships and other Cumbrian sports like scaling the greasy pole.