Nooks • 18 October 2008 • The SnowBlog


Forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but I've only just got round to exploring some interesting subterranean nooks of the iTunes Store. The store itself is pretty familiar. You can't use iTunes without 'accidentally' being taken to the store from time to time as you attempt to navigate what I consider an appalling, though attractive interface. And I knew that the store would sell me over-priced music locked to Apple's DRM system. And I even knew that these days you could download movies and TV shows, as well as applications for your iPhone. But what I didn't realise was quite how many free downloads there were, especially video podcasts. Go into podcasts, then choose video podcasts and pick a subject area. I've been learning how to do so much more with video editing and compositing than I would ever have figured out by myself, even by reading paving-slab-sized books on the subject. I've also added subsciptions to my favourite finds. Despite the implication, this doesn't cost anything. It just means that every time a new edition of something I like is released it gets downloaded automatically. I have to say, that with hours of interesting (and in my case educational) videos beginning to pile up on my computer, I'm finally seeing the point of buying a video-capable iPod (or owning an iPhone). I've resisted the idea of watching ordinary movies and television on a playing-card-sized screen; that's what big TVs with surround sound are for, but video podcasts tend to be lower-resolution anyway. I could be watching gee-whiz tutorials for cool visual effects or catching up on news and documentary programs while I'm sitting on a train. And I'm reasonably sure that iTunes would make copying those files over to an iPod pretty simple. I'm not a fan of locked-in, over-priced downloads, but it seems to me that the iTunes store is providing a real community service by hosting so many free downloads. Recommended.
It looks like I can add in some links to cool iTunes stuff. Maybe. I'll post a couple and see whether they work. And obviously, you'll have to have iTunes already installed for it to stand any chance of succeeding (iTunes is available from here). TED Talks are Technology, Entertainment and Design talks by interesting experts. Here's one by David Gallo about Life in the Deep Oceans. Here's another one by Steven Pinker, Great Thinker (as I like to call him). He's talking about his opposition to the idea of the infant human brain as a blank slate. I also heartily recommend S. Pinker's book, The Blank Slate. It covers the latest evidence concerning what it means to be human: the instincts we're born with versus what we get from our culture, parents, peer group and the extent to which variations in our genetics play a role. Who wouldn't want to be well informed on a subject like that? (Here's a link in case you fancy buying it. It seems to be available with a new, spectacularly unappealing cover.)


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