3 For Your Other Apple Devices: Sherlock Holmes, Librivox, The Onion

| Free on iTunes

It has been a very busy week if you own any of the latest iOS products (Apple TV 2, iPhone 3Gs or iPhone 4, 3rd or 4th generation iPod touch, original iPad). Apple released iOS 4.3, and with it a nice complement of upgrades, updates, and new features.

Apple TV 2, for instance, now sports sports in the form of Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA) “apps” located under the Internet drop-down menu. iPhones, iPod touches, and iPad are a bit snappier when loading webpages in Safari now, and I’ve notices that Words with Friends has gotten a bit friskier as well since I updated my iPhone 4.

Today’s release of iPad 2 caps off a pretty exciting week, making this “The Week of iOS 4.3”.

OK, I know I’ve done a poor job of paraphrasing Steve Jobs, but this week has been all about iOS 4.3 capable devices. Even your Mac or PC was able to join in the party, iTunes got an iOS 4.3 enabling update earlier this week as well. Other devices in Apple’s stable have had to quietly sit and watch the iOS 4.3 fireworks from afar.

What other devices, you may ask? I speak, of course, of the diminutive iPod nano and shuffle. These devices have had their moment of fame, and now they gather dust alongside your 1st and 2nd generation iPods. That’s a shame because these wee bits of Apple technology really do have a lot going on — they just need something to help showcase the goodness they offer.

The latest iPod nano, for instance, makes a snazzy, if a bit clumsy, watch. If you run or workout then you may already know how cool it is to have one of these bad boys clipped to your workout togs as it pumps out the tunes to keep you focused.

Your nano or shuffle can do so much more than just sing to you. Load the right stuff and they can educate and entertain you while you carry on with your busy life. What’s great is that these dinky devices don’t demand your visual attention, that is if you can control either of them with remote equipped headsets.

For instance, when was the last time you had a good book read to you? If you’re like most folks, that would likely be when you were a kid. If that’s true then it’s a shame because there’s something uniquely cool about letting someone else read while you sit back and soak up the words and use them to paint scenes on your mind’s canvas.

I will admit that The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes may not suit every taste, and even for those who enjoy the antics of Sir Arthur Doyle’s fictional sleuth, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a podcast from the University of South Florida, may be not the best rendition. I’ve listened to a few of the adventures, and the reader’s voice and enunciation takes a bit of getting use to, but once you clear that small hurdle, the series becomes a fun background while performing mindless tasks, like mowing the lawn or washing the car.

Sherlock Holes

There are 12 episodes in the Adventure series, each ranging in length from about 30 minutes to almost an hour. The series will fit nicely on your nano or shuffle, and if you subscribe you’ll always have the latest available for listening after you sync.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, as well as Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and His Last Bow are all podcasts, and free. So, if you’re into Holmes you can get your fill right here.

Another way to use your nano is to listen to poetry. I’ll be the first to admit that I have trouble appreciating some poets. I suppose poetry is like any art form, everyone may not understand or enjoy it, but it’s there for those who do.

Librivox

If you like poetry, or would like to learn to enjoy it, then you’ll like the Librivox Poetry series. I settled on the Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke for no other reason than the fact that I’d never heard of Rupert Brooke.

I took a listen to “The Little Dog’s Day” and was, at first, struck by the humor. I hadn’t expected it. As the reader went on, however, I came to understand what Mr. Brooke was driving at, and I wonder now if his poem was the source of the old cliche, “every dog has its day”.

At any rate, if you’re like me, and you are not all about poetry, but would like to at least acquaint yourself with some of the more famous poets, then grabbing a few of the Librivox Poetry series is the least painful way to do it.

Yes, I’ll admit I enjoyed listening to Rupert Brooke’s poems, and intend to pick another poet, so I guess I can hang with the high-brows after all.

While we’re on the subject of Librivox, you can find all sorts of really entertaining public domain recordings made available by Librivox and iTunes podcasts. In fact, if you find you just can’t get pass the reader’s voice in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes that I mentioned earlier, you may find a more palatable recording in Librivox. Check it out.

OK, if you don’t like your brow in the stratosphere, and prefer something a bit more down to earth, and funny, then you could do worse then subscribing to The Onion Radio News podcasts.

The Onion

The Onion Radio News is a series of extremely short audio podcasts that reports on a variety of “news” items you just can’t find on CBS news. (Maybe on Fox News.) For instance, listen to “Police on the lookout for poorly drawn man.” Now think about how many times you’ve seen “police sketches” that look like it was drawn by a third grader and you start to see why I’m a fan of The Onion Radio News.

The podcasts is updated daily, so subscribe and sync often. Each episode is only about a minute long, but each is a minute well spent.

So, there ya’ go. Who cares if you don’t own a spiffy new iPhone 4, you can still enjoy Apple based goodness without bleeding your wallet dry.

One final note about Librivox. The entire Librivox audiobook library was created by volunteers who read, listened, and coordinated the compilation of each book, poem, or short story. It’s a wonderful system and I fully intend to volunteer my voice and some time to the effort. Understand that audio recordings are for the enjoyment of everyone, including those who may not be able to enjoy the stories through other means for whatever reason. In other words, if you volunteer, you’d be helping others. How cool is that? Stop by the Librivox website for more information.

Ok, that’s a wrap. More Librivox podcast below, with direct links.

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Comments

Martin Cohen

It is a real pain that there does not seem to be a way for iTunes to show the complete title. There is no list view option.

viveik

I highly recommend the free “ideas” podcasts of CBC radio in Canada. They are all a nice 55 minutes, fitting in perfectly with most physical exersions… lots of varied subjects to hear about..

http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/pastpodcasts.html?14#ref14

Vern Seward

@Martin Cohen: I know what you mean. What’s worse is that the cover art does not always follow the podcast into iTunes, which is a pain for me since I use them when I write the columns. The Onion News Radio logo was a bear to get. I finally had to take a screen shot of a very small logo.

In the future I’ll try to find a better method of listing podcasts. It may come down to me just listing fewer, but with fuller titles.

@Vivek: I’ll take a look. I hadn’t heard of that one. Thanks for the recommendation.

Vern Seward

Seth

The free audiobook version of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at Gutenberg.org is much better. You can see my review of the audiobook at my blog. For reviews of other free audiobooks, you might be interested in Free audiobooks at Free Listens.

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