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Having trouble keeping up with technology? Podcasts can help

TWit is an apt acronym for this particular tech podcast. But others do a better job of keeping you informed on developments in the technology field.

It’s difficult keeping up with technology news. Announcements of new products, news about tech glitches, fiascos and triumphs, quirky stories about the impact of technology on everyday lives, breakthroughs and breakdowns -- there's a lot going on, so how do you sift through it all?

I find that podcasts can help. A podcast is, in the succinct words of Wikipedia, "a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication." You can listen to them (or watch them, if they're video podcasts) while doing other things, like commuting, cooking, cleaning or, as I do, exercising. There are many podcasts available, of variable quality, length, format and focus. Some are audio only, others are video podcasts. Some are devoted to particular companies (such as Google, Microsoft or Apple) while others specialize gadgets or apps. I get new episodes through the iTunes store, but other sources include podcast.com, podcastalley.com and (for Canadian nationalists), canadapodcasts.ca.

Here’s a brief guide to just some of the many technology-oriented podcasts available.

Tech Weekly (30 minutes, weekly, audio): This is my current favourite. Produced by the Guardian newspaper, it deals with technology news in an engaging but in-depth manner. For example, a recent podcast that focussed on the release of the iPad in England went beyond the superficial reports of long lineups and soundbytes from Apple fanboys to discuss the implications of the new device on web design.

Spark (55 minutes, weekly, audio): Spark is a podcast version of the CBC radio show of the same name. Host Nora Young and her guests bring a Canadian perspective to technology news. It’s lively and covers most of the major technology developments.

This Week in Technology (90 minutes+, weekly, audio): TWiT as it’s otherwise known (and the acronym is appropriate) is, according to its own website, one of the oldest tech podcasts around. Three or four guys sit around and pontificate and joke about the latest news from the technology mainstream. I find its frat boy, tech insider approach somewhat annoying, especially since the actual news is often lost in all the jokes, opinions and “how was your weekend”-type conversation. TWiT also offers specialty podcasts - This Week in Apple, This Week in Google, etc.

Buzz Out Loud (30 minutes, daily, audio and video): If you’re a fan of FM radio breakfast shows, you might like Buzz Out Loud. The three (sometimes four) hosts talk about their day, tell jokes, chant meaningless phrases and discuss mainstream tech subjects (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube Twitter, etc.). The video doesn’t add much -- you mostly look at the hosts, though sometimes you see a screenshot of a web page, so save your bandwidth and subscribe to the audio version, if this is your cup of tea.

Tech News Today (45 minutes, daily, audio and video): Tech News Today features a former Buzz Out Loud cohost. It just started operations and seems to be similar in format to Buzz Out Loud.

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