Explorations in Data Science and Health

Adding Audio Files for my Daily Commute

I consume a tremendous amount of "spoken word" audio. This is because every day I have my commute a fixed block of time where I have nothing to do but stare out the window of the bus or train I am riding in. 95% of this is either a podcast or a public radio feed. But recently, I have stumbled on an interesting mini-hack.

Overcast, the best iOS podcast player in my opinion, has a hidden premium feature. You can upload your own audio files and have them streamed directly into the app. This is a perfect way for me to go through the backlog of interesting YouTube videos that I have been meaning to catch. A significant portion of my YouTube consumption doesn't need to be watched. This includes lectures on computer science concepts, policy debates, even ted talks. Although these may be more engaging as videos they work fine as audio tracks.


YouTube-DL is a command-line utility that lets you download for offline playback videos from most websites. You have to be pretty familiar with the command line to use it but it makes it really easy to get the audio track to a you tube video and then I can upload it to OverCast and stream it right to my phone for the ride home.

Once you have installed youtube-dl, use the -x --audio-format to save just the audio file. It helps to rename them afterward.

youtube-dl -x --audio-format m4a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFVMASELX

For my ride home today, I have a suggestion from my friend Duncan who recommended a lecture of reinforcement learning from Deepmind.