I never really got into the whole podcast fad years ago. The available aggregators annoyed me, the available podcasts seemed generally uninteresting, and I didn’t have an MP3 player. Things change: I’ve had an MP3 player for a couple of years now. However, I only reevaluated my dislike for podcasts quite recently, when I discovered Wil Wheaton’s Memories of the Futurecast. I wanted a way to automate the process of getting it onto my MP3 player, and I found it: gPodder seems to do everything I want without getting in my way. Now I can do a quick sync with my MP3 player in the morning and I’ll have stuff to listen to while, among other things, going to and from the university.
All of that was about a month ago. I’ve only got a small selection of feeds in there so far, but since I’m still catching up on literally months of old material, that’s not an issue as of now. Aside from Wil Wheaton’s, my favorite podcast right now is Stuff You Should Know. But enough about that.
When I was younger, I usually listened to the radio news at 7 or 8 AM while eating breakfast. I have long since switched to doing some quick reading of my e-mails and feeds, but that’s not the ideal way to get a quick update on what’s currently going on. The radio news does a better job of that, but it just feels too much like a waste of time. Cue the podcast. I’ve known that Dutch public radio has had its broadcasts available as podcasts since 2005 or so. Selecting the podcast most relevant to me was easy: Radio Netherlands Worldwide, specifically the Nieuwslijn (news line) program. Of course there are competitors, such as BBC’s Global News and the German ARD Tagesschau, and I may have missed some other potentially interesting sources—which would presumably mostly mean American or Flemish—, but for now I’m sticking with this. Alas, there’s one small problem: there’s a news broadcast just about each two hours. This makes the new episodes available dialog look rather cluttered. I only want to listen to the news once a day.
That’s where Yahoo Pipes comes in. When I start it, it complains about Opera, but I haven’t been able to discern any difference in functionality between Opera and Firefox on the site. In only a couple of minutes, I have something that only gives me the 8 o’clock news.
If I wanted, I could easily add the BBC and ARD feeds and also strip them to just one item a day. What I can’t do, however, is output the de facto standard
<itunes:image href="http://some-picture" /> with the feed. Nevertheless, I can manually link up a picture in gPodder so it doesn’t look strange in the feed display list.
For things more complicated than such simplistic mash-ups, Yahoo Pipe’s graphical programming interface quickly becomes lacking, which is strange considering that it seems to aspire to be more than just a simple mash-up tool. Nevertheless, it certainly makes life a little easier.