'Just Plain Sense' is not just a blog.
It is a Podcast channel too.
Begun in March 2008, the channel deals with topics around the themes of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights … just as this blog does … but with an emphasis on in-depth interviews with people and documentary-style coverage of events.
At the last count there were more than 80 episodes to listen to.
How to listen at home
There are many ways to hear the Podcasts.
The easiest way on a desktop or laptop computer is via the web site: podcast.plain-sense.co.uk.
You don't need any special software at all to listen in this way. The web site works like another blog, except that under the description for each episode you'll find a player that you can just click on.
If you want to browse other web pages whilst listening to a show, simply open another browser window / tab or click on the Play in Popup option, which appears at the bottom of each item.
Listening this way is a bit like sitting in front of your radio.
Listening on the move
Podcasts really come into their own when you're out and about though.
Just as portable transistor and built-in car radios changed the way we access wireless programmes, smart phone and tablet technologies open up a whole different way of listening to Podcasts too.
In fact that's why they are called Podcasts. The name came about because people began wanting to listen to independent material, at a time and place of their own convenience, on their iPods.
Mobile listening isn't restricted to Apple-made devices though.
Using the mobile pages
The simplest way of all to hear a show is to load the mobile version of the Just Plain Sense site on your phone's web browser.
The address for this is podcast.plain-sense.co.uk/mobile/.
Press any of the show icons to stream the corresponding show. If you let the whole show download before leaving the house then you'll be able to listen to it later.
If you do this on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad then, in addition, you'll see an option at the bottom of the screen, as illustrated above. Selecting this will put an icon on your device's 'Home' screen, so you can come back to this display any time you want. You're not adding an app, and there is no charge. You're simply storing a short cut to this mobile-friendly web page.
The only limitation with this kind of access is that you won't get any notification when new shows appear, and you can't download lots of shows in advance before going on a trip.
Remember that if you download shows using 3G internet connections from your phone then this will consume your mobile allowance. The average Just Plain Sense show is about 30Mb in size.
Using a Podcast app
A more organised way to access Podcasts is to use a mobile phone app.
There are several of these available.
The photo shows Apple's own version (which works on the iPhones and iPads).
The advantage of a Podcast app is that you can organise all the shows you want to listen to regularly, and the app shows you how many news ones you have yet to listen to.
In this illustration you'll see that I listen to a lot of BBC drama and comedy.
Apps like this also mean you can choose between 'streaming' a show or downloading it.
Streaming means you listen to a show whilst it downloads, and the show isn't stored on your device afterwards. If you're familiar with the BBC iPlayer then that works in a similar way in most cases.
Downloading means what it says. You store a complete version of the recording on your mobile device. Then you can listen to it as and when you choose.
Downloading means you don't incur big 3G downloads and you can listen when there's no mobile signal. However, if you hang on to lots of shows you'll use up your device's storage.
Subscribing to shows
You can just pick and choose what shows you want to listen to via podcasting. A Podcast app like the one above will contain a listing of very popular shows that you can just select by touching the appropriate icon.
If you listen in an ad-hoc way like that then there's nothing to tell you when the next show in that series comes along. You'll need to remember to go back (in, say, a week) and look again.
The idea of 'subscribing' to a show makes it a lot easier. In this case the podcast app will go and check each Podcast site periodically, and notify you when there are new shows to listen to.
The subscription doesn't cost anything. In fact, the shows producers don't even have any record of the fact that you've chosen to subscribe to their shows. It's not like a magazine or newspaper subscription. It's just the term used for storing details of the podcasts you're interested in on your device.
The benefit of subscribing to a podcast is that it takes all the work out of listening to shows you're interested in. If you want to then the app can download the new shows automatically for you … so they're there when you want to listen on the move. Alternatively you can just settle for being informed, and 'stream' the show online when you want to listen. The choice is yours. Cancelling a subscription is as easy as setting it up.
Using iTunes to subscribe
If you use iTunes or an app like the one above then you can just search for the shows you're interested in, by name.
For instance, you can find 'Just Plain Sense' that way just by searching for the name in the online store.
The other way to access or subscribe to a show is to look for the instructions on a show's web site. For instance, the Just Plain Sense web site has a purple 'Add to iTunes' button on the right hand side of the screen.
If all else fails, you can also just use the show's 'feed' address. For Just Plain Sense that is http://podcast.plain-sense.co.uk/feed.
If you like my material then there are two other feeds where you'll also find more.
For short items, which are not formatted like radio programmes, I use a service called Audio Boo.
The feed URL for this is http://audioboo.fm/users/30400/boos.rss
And if you'd like to hear readings of my poetry, then there's a separate podcast channel for this, called Fishing for Birds.
The feed URL for this is http://fish4birds.podbean.com/feed