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Older devices can still connect to ease podcasts

Podcasting shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, people everywhere are creating new podcasts. Some of the more popular ones boast a loyal following of millions around the globe.

And just like in any creative venue, you will find the good, the bad and everything else in between. For the most part, all you really need to create a podcast is a computer, Internet access, a microphone and recording software.

As with anything, a little bit of research will turn up a wide variety of products, ranging from the bare-bones basics to a complete, professional recording setup. Prices will obviously reflect the quality of setup you select, so be careful in your choices. Just the other day I wanted to record something into my computer only to discover that the device I wanted to use was not USB. Instead, it had the more conventional mini-plug at the end of its cable.

Exploring further into my equipment drawer revealed several such devices including microphones, telephone recorders, an AM/FM radio and even a cassette tape recorder/player, all of which required input or output and the corresponding jack to make them work with my computer.

I realized that if I ever wanted to use any of this older equipment with my computer, I needed something that would be able to convert the older analog outputs and inputs from these devices to a digital one and also be able to connect them physically to the computer's USB port. That's exactly what the iMic from Griffin Technologies does.

Actually, the iMic has been around for years, but it recently got both a cosmetic and functional upgrade. The small, round disk-shaped device sports IN and OUT plugs to accommodate your mini-plug equipment. At the other end, the iMic has a USB cable that connects to either your Windows or Macintosh computer. If it's a microphone for example, then you plug the mike's mini-plug cable to the iMic's IN plug. If you want to transfer audio out from your computer to your older cassette tape recorder, then connect a cable from the iMic's OUT plug to your cassette recorder's line-in jack.

Depending on the sensitivity of the older device, the iMic offers a single switch that lets you select between line and microphone levels.

The iMic sells for $34.99. For Mac users, Griffin includes their Final Vinyl software that automatically senses and locates the iMic's USB connection, so just plug it in with your older device connected and you'll be ready to rock and roll. PC users can use a variety of audio software such as Audacity, which can be freely downloaded. You can find the iMic at the Griffin website at www.griffintechnology.com/products/imic.

A word of caution about podcasting. One of the most important things to do before plunging into making your own podcast is to consider what it is you have to say and how long a period of time it will take for you to say it. If all you are looking to do is to find a soapbox to say your piece, then chances are that after you've made your point, your podcasting career will come to a swift ending.

And then there's "Podfade." Usually this happens because the podcaster didn't realize how demanding a podcast can be. At first, there's a new podcast every day. Then the podcasts get updated every other day, then once a week, then maybe a couple of times a month. Finally the podcast is abandoned and it fades into oblivion.

Here's my advice. Be sure you're ready for the commitment. If yours is just a limited quest, you may be better off creating one or a series of recordings and just post them on your website. Good luck.

Find more from Craig Crossman at his website, www.computeramerica.com.

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