The name 'Podcast' is utterly misleading

Podcasts are the new exciting thing – they are webcasts of recorded programs named after the iPod. Except, as I have just discovered, you cannot actually record anything but the most basic sound on an iPod – making the name utterly misleading.

I am a bit annoyed as the main reason for me finally getting an iPod was to record interviews. I was getting sick of having to fart about with mini-discs, which are fiddly, record for a limited length of time, and require lots of extra kit. The iPod can store an enormous number of interviews, requires no external storage, can be easily shifted onto a computer etc etc etc. In short, I was hoping to overhaul my interview recording.

Except the iPod only records at 8kHz (16-bit) – far too low for anything but the most basic recording. And that is hardwired into the iPod's hardware.

This is the real bottom end of the scale and can only really be used for voice memos. Music for example usually comes at 44kHz. I can use it as effectively as my mini-disc for recording telephone interviews but for good interviews, especially for half-decent Podcasts, you need at least 16kHz.

There are various conspiracy theories about this: that Apple was leant on by the music industry to prevent bootlegging of live concerts becoming the next big (uncontrolled) market. But Apple has never really listened to anyone except itself. I suspect – as ever – Apple has simply decided that that is what it wants to do and so has done it.

It is a stupid and infuriating decision though. And it has lead to the irony that any decent Podcasts will not, almost by definition, *not* be recorded on iPods.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel however. A load of geeks have developed their own version of Linux that you can install on the iPod and so do things with the iPod that Apple in its nannying state has decided it doesn't want you to.

It is called – imaginatively – iPod Linux. And if you install it on your iPod, you can boot into the operating system and record audio at  8, 32, 44.1, 88.2 or even 96kHz. Then you come out again, go back into the iPod and there is your high-quality recording. Terrific!

Except because the latest iPods use a different chipset to the old ones, the boys have yet to reverse-engineer their Linux version to work with the fourth-generation and Photo iPods. I have a Photo iPod annoyingly so it looks as though I'm going to have to wait things out.

The latest developments can be found on their blog. The work is voluntary and I *really* want to be able to record at a decent rate and get decent quality audio, so they will be getting a donation off me and I strongly advise anyone reading this to do likewise.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Apple is going to blow it all over again with its ridiculous efforts to control its inventions. But more of that in an article I'm planning.

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