For the uninitiated, a podcatcher is a piece of software used to subscribe to podcast RSS feeds. Don’t confuse podcatching with podcasting (which is the act of making the show, not listening to it). On this week’s upcoming show (#27) I’ll be playing with amaroK in more detail, but for now I’m just going to cover off podcatching with it.
I’m doing amaroK a bit of an injustice by treating it as a podcatcher. It is arguably the most full-featured music player for any platform on the market. It does all of the things you would expect from a music manager (except I have yet to figure out how to rip a CD with it although I’m told it’s possible) such as managing playlists, organizing music and playing it. However, it does much more such as Wikipedia lookups of the current artist, song, or album; song lyric lookups and..yes..podcatching!
Onto the nitty-gritty.
Fire up amaroK and click on the Playlists tab along the left-side of the main window. Amongst all the wonderful things that show up in the left side windowpane is a heading labelled Podcasts.
Right-click on the Podcast label and you will be presented with a little context menu containing, amongst other things, the option to Add Podcast (click the images on this page to make them larger).
Clicking the Add Podcast menu option opens up the Add Podcast window. There’s a text field in this window labelled Enter Podcast URL which is here you need to plunk in the RSS feed address of the podcast that you want to subscribe to. Note that amaroK is picky and the URI you enter must be complete including the http:// part.
Note: Most (all?) podcasts have a supporting blog. The address of the blog is not the address of the RSS feed that you want to subscribe to. To get the RSS feed address, visit the show’s blog and look for RSS subscribe buttons on the site. If the site offers Bloglines, or Podnova, or Roxio buttons don’t select those links. Those are special links specifically for those sites. You want a plain old RSS feed which is usually indicated by an orange RSS button or Feedburner button. If in doubt, look for a link that ends in either /rss or /feed. In most cases, feed links end in one of those words.
Assuming everything is entered correctly and the feed is responding, your new podcast will have a spinning icon next to it for a few seconds while amaroK analyzes the feed and shows you the newest episodes. Once that’s done, the spinning icon will be replaced with a + sign beside the name of the podcast you just subscribed to (for a picture view of what I’m talking about take a look at the first image in this post).
Clicking the + sign will expand the podcast and show you the available episodes. Note that at this time, amaroK is only showing you the episodes, it hasn’t downloaded them yet. This is a good thing because of the sheer filesize of most podcast files. There’s no sense downloading anything until you double-click an episode to indicate that you want it.
So do it. Double-click an episode and have a listen. amaroK is smart enough to buffer the podcast so you can start listening to it almost immediately.
Oh, and when you want to check if there are new podcast episodes, just right-click the Podcasts label and select Refresh All Podcasts. Or, to just check a single show, right-click on that show’s label and select Check for Updates.