is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the
Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable
media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast,
can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by
which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The
host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.
The term is a portmanteau of the words "iPod" and "broadcast" the Apple iPod being the brand of portable media player for which the first podcasting scripts were developed. These scripts allowed podcasts to be automatically transferred to a mobile device after they are downloaded.
Though podcaster's web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically when new content is added, using an aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom.
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There are many podcast software programs available to use. Many of them are even free. Because of the decentralized, geek adopted nature of podcasting, a wide variety of programs are available, from large programs with a big footprint that do many different jobs to tiny little software packages that do the bare minimum.
A package is available for podcast subscribers of almost any type, and more are being created everyday.
While some podcast software is designed for home user computers, much of it is designed to be used online. There are many packages created so that feed subscribers can view the podcasts they enjoy from within a web browser.
These software packages contain both the feed reader like the home user software does, but usually also incorporate a way to view or listen to the podcasts online from inside the browser. Much of this software is used at the podcast directories that maintain listings of podcast feeds.
Another type of online podcast software is the category of feed creators. PHP scripting is usually used to create the RSS file that tells the feed readers where to download the podcasts from.
The scripting can either create a hard copy of the RSS file and write it to the server disk when the feed is updated, or it can make it virtually. When the RSS file is generated virtually, it doesn't actually exist on the host's server.
Instead, the address of the PHP script is distributed as the address of the feed. When the script is accessed, it generates the file by looking at the recent posts at the site and sends the results to the feed subscriber.
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