You don't need to have your own pod to use diaspora*.
Running your own diaspora* server allows more control over your data, but it requires technical skills and time. Instead, you can register on one of the installations open to everyone that allow you to use diaspora* in a few clicks without any requirements
The guides above provide a version to get diaspora* running on your development machine. Just pick the one matching your OS and select "development" instead of production in the "Version of this guide". You can then check our guide on getting started with contributing.