Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Sources of Intelligent Audio for Commute? 550

confusus writes "Trapped in the daily routine of commuting for 1-2 hours every day, I started to ponder different ways of recycling commute-time waste. I tried listening to the radio, but 9.9/10, it ends up being just 'duh-whatever.' Then, I tried listening to audio books: it is really hard to find audio books that are tailored toward nerds. Thus I decided to find audio of interesting/geeky/nerdy/sciency interviews, talks, lectures. What would be the websites which provide such content?" I'd really like to find more informative downloadable audio content, too. Perhaps informed commentary and self-guided tours of historical and other sites, like national parks and significant buildings in the U.S. and elsewhere, basically self-guided audio walking (or driving) tours. Can anyone recommend a source?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sources of Intelligent Audio for Commute?

Comments Filter:
  • podcasts (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishdan ( 569872 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:45PM (#11992963) Homepage Journal
    Here's everything you need to know about podcasting []

    Here's a good source of podcasts []

    If you look around [], you'll find plenty of what interests you available as a podcast. Should you not find what you're looking for, with any luck we'll see YOUR podcast up there soon too.

    • Re:podcasts (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alatesystems ( 51331 )
      Read the article [] I wrote for my LUG on podcasting. I also gave a presentation at our last meeting.

      I link several podcasts that I like.
    • Re:podcasts (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 )
      the whole question was posed so as people could advertise some podcasts as the answer.

      the total lack of mentioning podcasts in the Q just confirms it... he says that he's a nerd, but haven't heard of podcasts yet? not likely.
    • Re:podcasts (Score:3, Informative)

      by frantzdb ( 22281 )
      The Santa Monica NPR affiliate, KCRW, does podcasts of their in-house news and information shows [].
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:45PM (#11992965)
    Then relive the glory on your way to work
  • GNU Lectures (Score:5, Informative)

    by lunk ( 80231 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:46PM (#11992970) Homepage Journal
    There are lots of informative and geeky lectures available at: []
  • WebTalk Radio? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:46PM (#11992974) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps Web Talk Radio [] might be a good answer? I'm biased 'cause I did a segment with them, tho.
  • by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <tzzhc4@yahoo. c o m> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:46PM (#11992978) Homepage
    I found that getting the audio files of the Wall Street Journal and listening to them on the way to work was a very good way to keep abreast of the latest developments in the world. Sure it is dry and not nerdy, but if you work in corporate America it pays to be informed.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:46PM (#11992981) Journal

    Check out the offerings distributed by Public Radio International []. The archives of many of their shows are available to listen to for free. Specifically, check out This American Life [], To the Best of Our Knowledge [], and Sound & Spirit []. If you're able to record these shows from the archives (using some sort of scheduled stream-ripper like iRecordMusic or WireTap Pro), or purchase them (through Audible or ITMS), they can make an hour-long commute feel like mere minutes.

    And for your Monday morning commute, make sure you've got the latest installment of Wait Wait -- Don't Tell Me! [], the NPR news quiz.

    • by maird ( 699535 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:51PM (#11993443) Homepage

      Add to that the BBC [] (along with NPR, a member of PRI). All of the BBC radio stations have content available for 'Net re-broadcast (I believe you have to record them while playing as well). Radio 4 has excellent speech content with some fine comedy alongside in-depth art, science, current affairs and analysis (e.g. political interviews with members of both sides of an issue in the same studio at the same time).

      Some of the BBC music stations are pretty good too. Many of them are segmented by market the way that US radio is but none of them have the sort of motivations that make much of the US radio I have heard just crap (IMO). Long live NPR!

    • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @07:35PM (#11993686) Homepage
      Also, don't forget [], which lists a HUGE number of NPR streams available on the internet, searchable by program, time, and stream-type, making it easy to find the perfect stream to rip).
    • Just get Sirius (Score:5, Informative)

      by disc-chord ( 232893 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @08:15PM (#11993922)
      You could do all that manually, but I would recommend getting Sirius instead. You get NPR Talk, NPR Now, PRI, BBC, etc... etc... etc... Really great unbiased intelligent talk.

    • In the NPR vein, I highly recommend On Point [] with Tom Ashbrook. I listen to it most nights. Unfortunately, downloads are limited to streams (unless you have a stream ripper), but I sometimes just set my computer to record off the air. It's a great way to spend a couple of hours. Even with topics that I am not particularly interested in, I feel like I've spent the time well.
    • Convert to mp3 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Linuxathome ( 242573 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @12:37AM (#11995510) Homepage Journal
      If you use linux, you can download the streams with the commandline program curl:
      curl URLofRMfile.rm -O
      Then you can convert the rm file to mp3 with mplayer and lame []:
      mplayer infile.wma/ra/rm -ao pcm -aofile outfile.wav
      lame -f outfile.wav mp3outfile.mp3
      You don't need curl to get the rm file if you don't want it. You could always play the rm stream straight with "mplayer URLofRMfile -ao pcm -aofile outfile.wav". With linux, you can also automate the whole thing with a simple bash script if you wanted (and then insert it as a cron job for full automation); then with the script, wait until a new show comes on and play.

      This and a number of other tips can be found on my blog.
  • IT Conversations (Score:2, Informative)

    by daviddisco ( 302106 ) []
    • Seconded. You'll be enjoying some of the best the industry has to offer by subscribing to this podcast, and you'll be deluged with so much interesting content. You'll probably feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume.
  • LUG Radio (Score:3, Informative)

    by elleomea ( 749084 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:47PM (#11992989) Homepage
    LUG Radio []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A quote from their website:

      "LugRadio contains language and topics that some may find offensive."

      I guess they are talking about Perl?
  • Here [] are links to streaming radio shows, many of which you can download
  • by almeida ( 98786 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:49PM (#11993000)
    A couple Christmases ago, I gave my brother the audio version of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I think it's around six hours long. At the time, he had a four hour daily commute, so he breezed through it pretty quickly, but he seemed to enjoy it. Amazon has it for under twenty bucks. Might be worth a shot.
  • by TigerNut ( 718742 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:49PM (#11993004) Homepage Journal
    Seriously... I see way too many people that are doing who-knows-what behind the wheel, with visible evidence of the impact it has on the amount of attention they're paying to traffic. Weaving all over a lane, tailgating, running traffic lights, etcetera.
    I want my in-car entertainment to be duh-whatever. If it's something that makes you think, then it's reducing the bandwidth you have to be putting towards the road.
    • by Delta2.0 ( 846278 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:56PM (#11993063)
      If it's something that makes you think, then it's reducing the bandwidth you have to be putting towards the road.

      Only on slashdot will you see your level of concentration refered to as "bandwidth."

    • Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Moved 5 meters
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Moved 5 meters
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled
      Car 2 meters ahead of me, stalled

      You just got to have some priorities, know when it is time to stop paying attention and
      • Here's mine (Score:3, Insightful)

        Traffic stationary ahead... Big grin...
        Careful, gap on the right
        Oh. Indicators ahead.
        Road on the right.
        Traffic turbulence ahead, joining road on the left
        Filter up to the lights beside front vehicles.
        Lights green, empty road ahead, check for jumpers and give it some welly, front goes light. Blip to second.
        Intersection on the left, car waiting to pull out, seen me? Aye, right... Go wide anyway.
        Favourite bend coming up, nothing close, pull it over, peg scrapes, a
    • He doesn't say that he's driving, just commuting. Lots of people spend hours on the train commuting between Connecticut and NYC, for instance.
    • by rpdillon ( 715137 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:06PM (#11993157) Homepage
      I am a "when you drive, just drive!" kind of guy.

      That said, I find the real "bandwidth" eater while driving is anything that requires any sort of response (besides the driving, obviously). That includes talking on the phone, holding anything (requires attention and response to handling the physical object - cup of coffee, magazine/book, radio, whatever), using navigation systems or even talking to the passengers.

      If something is simply streaming information to you without interaction (leaving the radio on one station, sticking in a CD and not messing with it, listening to a talk show you downloaded), I do not find it interferes at all. I simply tune it out when I need to think about the traffic, and tune it back in when the situation is resolved. This doesn't work when you're doing something that takes your eyes off the road for any reason, but for audio based entertainment, I really don't see it as a problem.
    • It's interesting how it is with listening and driving. They seem to use totally separate and non-dependant "processing power" in the brain, or at least in my brain. I have noticed that attempting to communicate in any way (speaking to a passenger, a cell phone, whatever) is detrimental to my attention to traffic and the road, but having tunes or talk radio on does not.

      I really do not see an issue with the poster's request. Having something to listen to does not, in my own experience, reduce the "bandwid
    • How about just paying attention to the traffic? Seriously... I see way too many people that are doing who-knows-what behind the wheel...
      Yeah like once i saw this guy looking at everyone else in their car... when he should have been paying attention to the traffic ;)
    • I want my in-car entertainment to be duh-whatever.

      So it's you they've been targeting with all the crap morning shows.

  • Well, in the UK... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:49PM (#11993005)
    BBC Radio 4 [] is pretty much my staple diet of commute audio. Most days it's the Today Programme [], intelligent, topical, and responsible for breaking a lot of big stories, such as the David Kelly Iraq WMD story.

    The last edition is always posted online at the above address as a 'Listen Again' stream - worth checking out.
  • CBC "Ideas" (Score:3, Informative)

    by gvc ( 167165 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:49PM (#11993006)
    CBC has a number of interesting shows. I particularly like "Ideas", which you can get on cassette or just record live from the internet.

    CBC also has "Quirks and Quarks" which covers interesting topics and has interesting guests, but the commentary is a bit juvenile.

    I really like "As it happens" but I'm not sure how good that would be recorded - they phone people who are in the day's news.
  • Please stay away from audiobooks and other similar distractive stuff. All those people not killed in traffic accidents will be thankful.
    • Audiobooks are no more distracting than the radio. Far less than a phone conversation. I wouldn't want to try to concentrate on a lecture, though.
  • by billnapier ( 33763 ) <> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:49PM (#11993010) Homepage

    Check out the content available from IT Conversations []. Lots of geeky stuff from lots of geeky people (People like Cory Doctorow, Steve Wozniak, Bruce Schneier, etc.).

    You may also want to try listening to podcasts. Check out [] to see a directory of them. There is more than enough content there to keep you occupied on a daily basis. Oh, I guess I'm also assuming you can listen to MP3 in your car...

  • Do the math (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:50PM (#11993015)
    If you commute 2 hours per day, 5 days
    a week, 50 weeks a year (for a total of
    two weeks "time off" for good behavior
    each year), you pull in 500 hours/year
    in a metal cage. If you do a decade of
    work like this, that's about 208 days
    in a car. Or, about the length of time
    for a first-time non-violent felony
    prison sentence, like robbery without a
    real gun, grand theft auto (the real
    thing, not the game), embezzlement,
    and similar crimes. The difference
    is that if you committed a real crime,
    you'd at least have a chance of getting
    away with it. But since you took this
    crappy job, you're being sentenced to
    a metal cage, without the benefit of
    having potentially profitted from a crime.

    Pray tell, what crime did you commit to
    be sentenced to this metal cage that you
    call "your commute"? Or do you not value
    your freedom enough to demand or expect
    something better out of life? (Don't be
    ashamed if this is what you want for
    yourself; the world does need cogs after all.)
    • Re:Do the math (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gvc ( 167165 )
      I got married. My wife and I work at places that are about an hour's drive apart. I get the commute, but in exchange I get a beautiful wife and a nice house on the Niagara escarpment.

      I am easily able to entertain myself. At home I often sit in a chair and think. I use my commuting time to do more of the same. Yes, I listen to CBC radio and sometimes to classic rock, but mostly I entertain myself with my thoughts.

      Would I prefer not to commute? You bet. While I don't find the time torture, I'd sooner
  • Can anyone recommend a source?

    What's in your local library?

    As far as nerdish fare, 'Hell's Faire' [] works. Audiobooksforfree [] is a good source. Old time radio shows [] can be pretty good listening as well.

  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:51PM (#11993021) Homepage
    Put a laptop with wireless Internet access in your car, hook it to your stereo, and install some software that speaks the text of websites. Then point your browser to Slashdot commentary.

    You'll be laughing so hard that you'll drive into a telephone pole, and you won't have to worry about commuting for a while.
  • SICP Lectures (Score:4, Informative)

    by bwalling ( 195998 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:52PM (#11993030) Homepage
    I downloaded MIT's Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) lectures from here [], and converted the audio portion to MP3 so I could play it on my iPod. Outside of that suggestion, I have the same question as you. I recently cancelled an Audible subscription because I had run out of books I was interested in hearing. The local library seems to have mostly fiction in audiobook.
  • Quirks and Quarks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yo303 ( 558777 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:52PM (#11993036)
    Quirks and Quarks is a Canadian science radio show from CBC. Endless hours of content can be downloaded from the past shows archive here [].

    As a bonus, you can even get it in Ogg.


    • by Yaztromo ( 655250 )

      Quirks and Quarks is now also available via the CBC in a Podcasting [] form, along with a program called "/Nerd".

      The CBC has been doing an excellent job of exploiting the types of technologies /.ers love recently. First providing radio stream in Ogg Vorbis format, and now Podcasting. Cool :).


  • CBC does a science show called Quirks & Quarks and they have excellent archives:
  • NPR / PBS / Audible (Score:2, Informative)

    by UnderAttack ( 311872 ) *
    Back when I had a long commute (1hr +), I listened to NPR/PBS. Great program. I did use quite a bit back then as well. Too bad they don't support Linux :-/. Had to drop them as I got rid of Windows.
    • If you're somewhere that has a Pacifica radio station, try listening to that. (And if you can't, they webcast - try It's listener-sponsored non-commercial radio, so the content is much different and usually better than most commercial stations. Most of their stations carry a mixture of local music, leftist-oriented news, and random silliness. Don't let the "leftist" bit bother you - they'll carry a lot of news that other stations don't, it's often much more in-depth than anything except the b
  • by Stoutlimb ( 143245 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:57PM (#11993073) []

    This Canadian radio show has been running weekly since at least 1988, and covers a broad range of science news. I find they rarely dumb down their news, and often they will cover obscure and very interesting areas of research that you just won't hear about anywhere else in the news.

    The website supports podcasting, realaudio, and you can download every weekly episode since 1988 right from their website. Pretty cool when you think about it.

    This is definately superior news for the science nerd.
  • how about a lateral approach: is it possible for you to take public transport and read a book / work on your laptop instead? or car share and then some of the time you could read/use your laptop and some of it knock interesting ideas around with your companions?
  • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:59PM (#11993093) Homepage
    As probably the largest producer of English language spoken word material in the world, you could try looking at the BBC material.

    On a factual note there is "This Sceptred Isle" series, a 2000 year history of the British Isles that is about 44 hours to start off with. They have plenty of other stuff as well.

    On a SciFi note they have HitchHickers Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who, Earth Search and a whole pile more as radio plays. As Fantasy they have the excellant Lord of the Rings dramatization, and a complete canon of Sherlock Holmes among others.
    They also do a good range of comedy, though much of this does have a U.K. slant.

    Outside the BBC there is a whole series of lectures by Feynman if that takes your fancy, try Amazon. If you are into Terry Pratchett, then try ISIS audio books for unabridged audio books of his Discworld novels.

    Fortunately for me I live in the U.K. and I get much of this stuff piped directly into my house via digital radio straight onto my hard disk in MP2 format via the wonders of BBC7 :-)
  • (Score:3, Informative)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:59PM (#11993096) Homepage
    Democracy Now! [] makes its entire shows available in MP3 and OGG. It's about the most informative show out there. It's liberal-libertarian and is regrettably pro-choice, but mostly deals with issues about oppressed people from around the world. Domestic issues are generally limited to libertarian issues such as privacy, analysis of the mainstream media, etc., and to liberal issues such as race relations.
  • res.html

    Can't do much better than philosophy for something to engage your mind.
  • by prgrmr ( 568806 )
    Then, I tried listening to audio books: it is really hard to find audio books that are tailored toward nerds

    How hard did you look?

    All of Tom Clancy, Tolkien, Douglas Adams are available on tape and CD, as well as more Star Trek and Star Wars shite that you'd ever want to know about in your life.

    Maybe start with Spock vs. Q
  • Are you into physics at all? There is a series of audio CDs [] of Richard Feynman's [] lectures. Of course, if you can get an audiobook [] of his Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! [] too.
  • Have you considered mass transit? You don't have to worry about driving anymore, and can read a good book, stare at the scenery, or have fun by creeping out the person sitting next to you. The ride might be longer than if you drove yourself, but I feel it's a lot better than stressing yourself out with 1-2 hours of traffic battles.

  • []

    Tons of public speeches from variety of interesting tech/sci related topics.
  • What would be the websites which provide such content?

    Well, since you didn't mention any constraints, give BitTorrent + [] a go. The site's a little bogged down, but the torrents aren't.

    I've found more lecture, speeches, and misc audio there than I can listen to in a lifetime (even at my usual "mplayer -speed 1.5" chipmunk speed).

  • My 2 cents (Score:2, Informative)

    by Bootard ( 820506 )
    I say check out the Feynman Lectures on cd. I only listened to the first couple, but they seemed to be worthwhile. Maybe someone who has a little better experience with them can give some more information. Defenitly high on the nerd factor though. The other thing I would recommend is language tapes. Pimsleur are the ones I have experience with and they are really good. Kind of expensive, but it's defenitly some good stuff to fill up the noodle with on your way to work.
  • This American Life

    Hundreds of episodes available for free on real-audio.

    But you'll want a way to stream them to a file that you can listen to later, the shows are $13 apiece, which is a bit steep if you're just looking to buy them blindly.

  • Are you trying to slow traffic down more than it already has to go? While you're off pondering the deep ramifications of how the latest research on String Theory is moving forward you're gonna slow down and bug the crap out of everyone around you--bring on road rage.

    Meanwhile, you could be getting a good belly laugh by listening to Tom Leykus about topics that really matter--the voodoo we call dating. Or as Tom would say, ``How to teach men to get more ass for less cash.''

  • Someone else mentioned a Bill Bryson audiobook - I'd also recommend "In a sunburned country" about his travels in Australia. It's over 10 hours on CD, and is very worthwhile. It's not *funny*, but his writing has a dry wit to it. Additionally, it's read by the author, so he knows best how to present the material.

    Also, I've recently gone through "When Genius Fails" - again, a long one at 9.5 hours. Purchased from for $9.95 (first purchase discount). Great look at the fall of a big hedge fun
  • NPR (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Asprin ( 545477 )

    National Public Radio is awesome: Smart, diverse, interesting. They could use your financial help, too.
  • Fifth HOPE (Score:3, Informative)

    by darkfnord23 ( 696608 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:05PM (#11993153)
    The Fifth HOPE conference had some great lectures. Here's a link [].
  • Two Bits (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:07PM (#11993167) Homepage Journal
    IT Conversations []
    Talking History []
    These two have kept my train ride going for a while ;)
  • NPR! (Score:2, Informative) makes _tons_ of audio content available online.

    From Grand Master Flash to Donald Knuth...
  • Foreign language? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KI0PX ( 266692 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:11PM (#11993196)
    How about getting something like Pimsleur tapes [] and learning a foreign language?

    It is a perfect setting - lots of free time, a CD player, and nobody else around. (You feel pretty stupid repeating words over and over again in a foreign language if you are around other people). All of the Pimsleur lessons are 30 minutes each.

  • SETI Radio Network (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mpthompson ( 457482 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:22PM (#11993281)
    If you are into space related science you may wish to listen to MP3s of the SETI Radio Network [] broadcasts. The topics are generally much broader than just SETI and the interviews with scientists and researchers are actually pretty good. They only produce an hour a week, but it will at least cover one of your commutes to work.
  • 2600 (Score:4, Informative)

    by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:23PM (#11993290)
    It's going to sound lame, but you can get some reasonably good audio from 2600.

    2600 []

    Or Sun has their Java evangelists create real audio lectures.

    Also, I purchased Verbal Advantage

    Verbal Advantage []

    When going through DC I listen to C-SPAN Radio, or whenever available.

    C-SPAN Radio []

    When available, I listen to NPR.

    NPR []

    If it's the wee hours, I listen to Coast to Coast AM

    Coast to Coast AM []

    I also like Neil Boortz.

    I also purchased "Word Smart" and "Grammar Smart" on, which are published by the Princeton Review.
  • by Titusdot Groan ( 468949 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:26PM (#11993307) Journal
    I have the following on my ipod for commuting, all are really good listening (I won't list the ones that don't work in audio -- trust me -- there's a lot). The following I've listened to multiple times:
    • Lord of the Rings (the unabridged Rob Inglis reading, 49.5 hours)
    • The Hobbit (unabridged Rob Inglis again, 11 hours)
    • The Entire Harry Potter series (read by Jim Dale, works REALLY well in audio format, 8.5 hours up to 26.5 hours)
    • Foundation (didn't realize how conversation oriented these books were until I heard them)
    • Ender's Game (pretty clear that OSC is a playwright)
    The following are worth listening to at least once:
    • Dumas (The Three Muskateers, Count of Monte Cristo)
    • LeGuin (The Earth Sea Trilogy)
    I got a one year membership at a "Books on Tape" rental store, currently I'm going through the classics. The old heroic novels (The Three Muskateers) are amazing on tape.

    One thing that's interesting -- I find books I've already read to be especially good; there's a whole different feel to the story when read by a good character actor.

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:27PM (#11993309)
    Westerns, detective stories, science fiction, comedy, you-name-it. Back before TV existed, radio was it, and a huge amount of quality drama was made for radio broadcast.

    There are many binary newsgroups where oldtime radio is posted and it won't take you many days to download enough material to keep you listening for several years.

    A lot of old time radio is amazingly good.
  • by timcrews ( 763629 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:35PM (#11993355)
    Richard Feynman, prominent physicist, Nobel laureate, and general renaissance man, was also a prolific and entertaining author, and many of his books are available as unabridged audio books. I find it hard to imagine that any geek would not find these interesting, insightful, and humorous (+5 on all scales, of course!) has them.

    "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out"

    "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

    "What Do You Care What Other People Think?"
  • Supreme court audio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jgrider ( 165754 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:36PM (#11993359) Homepage
    I have really enjoyed listening to early (and modern) US supreme court oral arguments. These are available as mp3s, with a creative commons license (Hmmm... legal legal mp3s... and can be found here: []

    They provide a basis for our legal system, and reflect some pretty important times in our history. Plus, there are inevitably arguments for and against that I had never considered, (Can I mod justices +1 insightful?)

  • by Beebos ( 564067 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @07:00PM (#11993505)
    Harry Shearer, of Spinal Tap, Simpsons, and A Mighty Wind fame has a great a hour long radio show that is part sketch comedy, part social commentary, and part eclectic music. Harry does hilarious parodies of the usual suspects, O.J., political figures, journalists, etc. He has also introduced me to a lot of great music I wouldn't have heard otherwise. Some of the show can be an aquired taste, e.g, reading from trade magazines or the L.A. real estate transactions. Do your self a favor and go through the archives and lsiten to anything about O.J. Simpson phone calls. For more info check out; /
  • Real nerds (Score:4, Funny)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @08:13PM (#11993907) Homepage
    That's a no brainer. Download your topics of interest and record the dialup audio. Any real nerd knows that. Naturally, that requires learning binary -- at least the printable ascii characters. You shouldn't have any problem removing the parity bits, ACK/NAKs, and other overhead data from the audio stream by hand, or with a custom algorithm of your design. Since you're a beginner, you'll probably just want to start out at the oldschool 75bps. As you improve, you can step up to faster bitrates. Since modem speeds generally double, you might want to set the playback speed variably to give yourself more of a natural progression. Once you get up to 28.8kbps, you can listen to War and Peace in under 20 minutes. I would highly suggest you don't go beyond 33.3kbps though. One fellow tried to make it to 56k, and now he's locked away. Poor guy thinks he's a tangerine. Anytime someone opens their mouth to speak to him, he tries to flee in terror to avoid being eaten. It's even worse when he gets hungry himself. Naturally they have to keep him away from mirrors.

    But I digress. Good listening to you!
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @08:17PM (#11993928)
    Right now, the best source of the geek-friendly audio books you mention are two: My favorite is my public library. They have the excellent 51-hour reading of the three Lord of the Rings books on CD, and right now I'm in the middle of Dune. These are all things that I've read before from paper, but I get something different, and not substantially worse, from hearing the books read aloud.

    Then there are two excellent "audio lectures" companies that basically record college freshman-level lecture courses on CD. (One of them is called the Teaching Company [], and the other, I forget.) Most of these are decent, and some are quite excellent. There are lots of titles available, and if you're like me and have an interest for almost everything academic, you won't run out of stuff.

    Now, I hate to say this, but it has come to my attention that many of these recordings are available illegaly through newsgroups and some p2p sources like eMule. I leave it to your conscience what to do with this information (keeping in mind just how many immoral acts are legal and illegal acts moral). If you asked me whether I prefered motorists who enrich their minds with bootleg lectures about the Aneid, Roman history, or Feynman's excellent lectures on Relativity to motorists who adhere religiously to federal IP laws, I must say that I'd choose the former. But don't ask me. I teach ethics at a major university.

  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @08:21PM (#11993950) Homepage
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @10:16PM (#11994679)
    I like to take project guttenburg [] books then feed them through festival []. The voice is slow and awkward, but it is still very clear, and you can listen to just about anything for free.
  • by ziegast ( 168305 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @10:37PM (#11994849) Homepage
    One expensive route is going to the local book store and just getting your items on tape. you've probably gone you yor local books store and have been frustrated by either the selection or price.

    I've found that my local public library has a great selection of fiction, and it's virtually free. Recently I listened to a Clive Cussler book. It's just a little geeky with some action, adventure and women thrown in. Dune audio books will get you all the way across the country. I just enjoyed Dune House Atreides (which was 6 tapes)! I had much fun with the very large selection of Star Wars audio books (not the real episodes, but all of the in-between stories). If you ever fdo buy an audio book, don't let it sit in a box somewhere. Donate it to your local library so that others can enjoy it!

    A good source for digital content may be []. For example, I just noticed they have all of the books from my favorite Ender Wiggins series by Orson Scott Card []. If they have all of those books on MP3, I can imagine what else they'd have. For a tech geek, try a one-year subscription to "Technology Review"! You'd download them to your PC and then transfer them to your MP3 player or iPod or whatever and broadcast to your stereo as long as the batteries last (buy rechargable batteries!).

    Some (like me) haven't made the bold leap into the 21st century and still have a stereo/tape player as their primary audio device in their car. I recently found a PC-to-tape [] device being advertised and reviewed. It looks great, but I don't have such a disposable income that'd warrant such luxury. I'll probably jury-rig some software to connect a cheap wireless Linux PC around my house to my stereo and record that way.

  • by malsdavis ( 542216 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @11:44PM (#11995261)
    I think it would be best, rather than look for ways to occupy your mind on your 1-2 hour commute, to get a job closer to home.

    Long commutes are very irrational and do extreme amounts of damage to the enviroment at your own expense.

    Wouldn't it be better to consider getting a job closer to home or moving to live closer to the place you visit (and currently waist 1-2 hours getting to) almost everyday of the year?

  • by porky_pig_jr ( 129948 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @04:29AM (#11996785)
    or, say, jazz. just get some CDs and listen on your way. You can read about the composer/performer/particular piece beforehand. I've been doing it for quite a while. Even if you are familiar with either, there is always something new to learn. Like I've spent a couple of years listening (and learning) jazz of 60-70s, and now I'm focusing on pre-Bach time (early Baroque and Renaissance).
  • Audio books rock (Score:3, Informative)

    by Adam Wiggins ( 349 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @05:33AM (#11997065) Homepage
    I've always hated every moment spent in the car - I see it as completely wasted time and energy. Recently I started listening to audio books and it completely changed my attitude. Now I actually look forward to getting into the car, much as I look forward to resuming reading whatever paper books I am reading.

    There is plenty of great stuff on audio cd, but my two main sources have been Simply Audio Books [] (a sort of netflix for audio books) and Great Courses [].

    Simplyaudiobooks has a lot of fiction (including the first volume of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, if you can believe that) as well as semi-pop science books like Hawking's the Universe in a Nutshell. You can also get this stuff on Amazon if you prefer to buy.

    The Great Courses are basically a bunch of recorded colledge lectures, but (unlike my actual colledge experience) they are mostly pretty interesting. Topics include science, history, math, economics, biographies, and philosophy.
  • In Our Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnup . n et> on Monday March 21, 2005 @07:09AM (#11997374) Homepage
    There have been many mentions of podcasting, and many of the BBC's talk output, but (visible in slashdot's top level, at least) no mention of In Our Time.

    In Our Time is a show presented by Melvyn Bragg, who discusses a different subject each week, with expert guests. In general they apply a historical context to some scientific, technological, religious, philosophical or political movement.

    Interesting recent subjects have been:
    • Cryptography
    • Stoicism
    • Dark Matter
    • The Cambrian Explosion
    • 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
    • etc []

    Quality of guests is high: for example, Simon Sing was on the crypto program, Roger Penrose and John Gribbin are regulars, etc.

    As well as being broadcast on Radio 4 on old fashioned analogue radio, In Our Time has the honour of being chosen as the BBC's experiment in podcasting []. ... and is worth installing iPodder for! My only qualm is the occasional compression artefact. They seem to crop up when the female guests are speaking...
  • In Our Time (Score:3, Informative)

    by rleyton ( 14248 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @07:15AM (#11997393) Homepage
    Faced with frequent flights down from Glasgow to London, I've been listening to BBC radio (In Our Time PodCast []) and audio books (so far Dirk Gently). Certainly beats looking out the window and sternly avoiding making eye contact with my adjacent passengers.
  • The Teaching Company (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hamlet D'Arcy ( 316713 ) on Monday March 21, 2005 @03:19PM (#12002559) Homepage
    The Teaching Company [] offers a wide variety of college lectures on CD. They are expensive but worth every penny... I just got through listening to a 48 CD lecture and was left wanting more.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"