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Some Podcast reviews

One of the things I really like is listening to podcasts on my iPod on the bus. So far I have sampled the following:

I started off with - look for it on iTunes in the Podcast Directory, or go directly to the Instapundit blog. The podcasts are Instapundit and Dr Helen inviting various guests on their show to talk about some topics. The sound is quite good. I have found that some podcasts are really bad at adjusting the sound quality where there are more than one speaker, and especially where one speaker speaks really badly. The topics are interesting. Instapundit and Dr Helen are quite passive in the podcasts that I listened to. They might ask a pointed question or two but they really don't intrude much into the podcast.

I then also tried the Scientific America podcasts (3). I found them quite interesting. Once again the sound balance where many people are talking was well managed. One review on iTunes Podcast Directory pooh poohed it a bit. But if you are a person who really doesn't want to think too much these are really informative and interesting podcasts without requiring too much brain damage (always a bad idea first thing in the morning.)

Then I tried the Mac Observers Mac Geek Gab (also available from iTunes Podcast). I choose 2 episodes - one about what the iMac does for you, and the other about podcasting. I am sorry to say but these 2 episodes had the worst audio. What I mean is the audio adjustment for different speakers. When one of the guys spoke, he mumbled so much I had to turn the volume up, which then meant when the other guy spoke my eardrums were blasted. I lasted 2 minutes before switching it off. To be fair I will give it another whirl and try a more recent podcast. (I am ever hopeful that they would have told Mumbly Guy to leave, or sorted out their audio problems...)

iMac thoughts

As I've posted before our newest addition is an iMac OS X on intel. Not only does it look beautiful it performs beautifully. There are some differences coming from a windows environment that I have to get used to.

One slightly annoying problem is that when I am posting on Typepad using Safari (Apple's internet browser) I lose some of the handy dandy icon links - such as links, fonts etc. The work around appears to be to use Firefox. We are going to do some experimentation and report back on whether it works.

The functionality of the various applications are extremely responsive: the iMac has a spotlight function similar to the search function on a windows pc - but the search results are instantaneous. (I kid you not.)

I had trouble initially getting separate or multiple windows when I was searching on the internet. Very annoying. But you simply go to file and select new window or select the apple icon + N on your keyboard, and boom! instant window.

I am not sure whether I will use this function much. It is a screen where mini applications are loaded. For example if you always want to know what the weather is outside you load the mini application onto your dashboard, and with a simple press of a button you get to see it. At present I have the 7 day forecast, the time, date, and a calculator on the dashboard. (The standard settings.) If you want a lava lamp go for it...

iMac comes with mail - I haven't explored that since I have a web based email account which works fine even with the safari web browser.

The coolest thing that I have been experimenting with is Garageband - a way to create/ edit/ mix your own music digitally. Super cool. Garageband 3 comes with a podcasting function. I was playing around with it last night and having a wonderful time. Apparently this podcasting feature is super new. Previous versions of Garageband did not have this feature. Last night I learnt how to import "song" files into a podcast file, that is, create intro music in a song file, and then stick it into your podcast (vocals) files. I am using existing program jingles so that I don't get into trouble with copyright laws.

The word processing functions in the iMac are far more superior to MS Powerpoint and MS Word. The apple version of these is called keynote, and page. It is really artsy desktop publishing.

Of course, we live in a Windows world. How do you communicate with the 95% of the users who don't use Apple? Well iMac apparently can convert its word processing docs to a MS Word format. There are also open source MS Office programs that are available for down load. is the open source program we installed on the iMac. (I just love the whole open source movement!)

Kevin installed Firefox browser back and hey presto! my icons are back. Now I can link!

For more info on the iMac X with intel check it out here.

Olympic report back

I am getting close to being all olympicked out. As always the coverage has been excellent - just not enough curling! (Joke: - no offense to curling fans, but curling?... an olympic sport? You have got to be joking!) By far the most exciting events to watch for a sofa radish such as myself are:

Downhill/ alpine skiing. (Downhill, super-G, giant slalom etc)

Freestyle skiing

And anything with snowboarding in it. I just love the snowboarding events. From the half pipe to the snowboarding cross events I find them incredibly TV-genic! Also there is something super cool about these competitors. They are athletes, but they are also incredibly hip and happening. Ultra cool.

I love figure skating, and I have been known to TiVo figure skating competitions. But they haven't grabbed me at this olympics quite as much as last olympics. I am not sure whether it is the new scoring system that they have. There was something so appealing about the perfect 6. I think I may be a little jaded from all the other sports coverage.

Speed skating is also quite exciting to watch. Boy do they go fast. The tension and excitement of the race, coupled with some exciting factors: the competitors jockeying for position, and the inevitable tangles and crashes. Great television and great entertainment.

Storm Chaser Convention

Kevin and I didn't get to go to the Convention this year. A pity. I had enjoyed live blogging it last year.
Amos reports on the Convention this year.
check that out here:

(For some reason my link function in typepad is not working... bumer!)

Just got back from the Apple store...

Kevin and I went to the Apple store today. Our main mission was to find out why my iPod and earphone jack connection wasn't working properly. Well we ended up purchasing an iMac and finding out that nothing was wrong with the iPod. We are now taking it through its paces, and so far (first 20 minutes) I am extremely impressed with our newest addition.

Monty Python's The Life Of Brian and the Freedom of Expression

Victor Davis Hanson has a great article about two world's colliding: the world of religious piety, and the Pythonesque Life of Brian world where nothing is sacred.

There is a great asymmetry in all this. Western notions of cultural tolerance and liberality are the benchmarks Muslims employ to condemn insensitive European journalism. Meanwhile, the Islamic Middle East is given a pass, as anti-Semitic state-run papers there daily portray Jews grotesquely.

Read the article here.

For the Life of Brian go here.

And who said

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Callimachus has the answer here.

I have reread Irshad Manji's "The Trouble with Islam Today" I highly recommend this book. The author explores faith issues with at times a painful honesty. Let us be honest about ourselves, she seems to be saying. Here is her website.

And here is a quote from her book which I found particularly apt:

There's more than one way to exploit Islam. Some Muslims exploit it as a sword, and they're goons for doing so. But just as many- or more- Muslims exploit Islam as a shield, and that's destructive too. It protects Muslims from self inquiry and non- Muslims from guilt. (p 190)

And now I am going to dust off my copy of the Life of Brian, and watch it again. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that intolerance of any kind stifles intellectual growth, and that laughter is in fact the best medicine. After all, I know that God has a sense of humor!

Podcasts and blogging: Why I love living in the 21st Century!

So I am a little late to the party. I've just found out about podcasts. For a brief description check out Apple's Podcast 101 here.

Wikipedia defines "Podcast" as... Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the internet using either RSS or Atom syndication for listening on mobile devices and personal computers. A podcast is a web feed of audio or video files placed on the Internet for anyone to subscribe to, and also the content of that feed. Podcasters' websites also may offer direct download of their files, but the subscription feed of automatically delivered new content is what distinguishes a podcast from a simple download or real-time streaming. Check out the rest of the definition here.

For an exhaustive list check out the Podcast Directory here. And here.

Instapundit and the InstaWife are now doing podcasts. Check it out (Subscription is free!) I've already subscribed.