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Use smart playlists for better podcast grouping on iPods
Authored by: joshforman on Jul 09, '05 01:45:05PM

If you add the podcast tracks to your library, they'll then show up in the smart playlist.

Also, you may be able to sort the tracks by track number if the podcast uses that tag. I think sorting would need the tracks to be in the library, otherwise, the smart playlist will just contain the tracks in "whatever" order.

Josh Forman

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Some griping and another alternative work around and some sort of off topic stuff.
Authored by: mmeiser on Jul 10, '05 10:33:00PM

I'm not liking Apple's Podcast tools to much YET. I'm sure they'll get there, but for various reasons they're not there yet. Not to get sidetracked, but primarlily it's because iTunes lacks a whole lot of meta information (they strip out post links, formating and much more) and especially because there are NO perma-links back to the original post and show notes. Orphaning the podcasts is the worst problem EVER, one podcasters have been trying desperately to solve. Continuilty of the discourse demands it. Here Apple has the opportunity in hand and chooses to perpetuate the problem rather than resolve it.

The podcasting "gift economy" functions on trackbacks, comments and links. This means google juice, personal networking, visibility and building credibility. A podcast listened to means nothing. A podcast talked about and linked to means everything. In short new media is a conversation, and that's cluetrain 101 stuff so you'll have to pardon my being frustrated with Apple about it. It's not to funny how apple has chosen to ignore it. There's an uproar in the podcasting community about the issue, but that's not what this post is about.

Today I hate iTunes as a podcast tool because of this issue. It's a obvious and quite disruptive usability issue that I think serves to frustrate a lot of first time users who just "don't get podcasting" because it "just doesn't work" for them and a lot of die-hard power users like myself. I don't think a lot of people here are getting the issue either so let me illustrate just to be sure. I've got to believe a lot of people are having this issue, but it's sort of hard to understand it from a bboard. Bear with me or skip a head a few paragraphs.

The issue re-illustrated....

So, I go out for a ride, you may jog, most people listen to podcasts while they commute, whatever... anyway Apple's iTunes does not put the podcasts in order with the most recent first. This means every time I go to the podcast playlist they're always in alphabetical order by the name of the podcast show. Who listens to podcasts this way!?

I listen to the most recent podcasts first regardless of who they're from and skip to the next one if I don't like one. It also ensures I can just press play on my iPod every day and am always ensured of getting new stuff.

Putting the podcasts in alphabetical makes sense for only those who have JUST, JUST the latest post from each podcast, which is not the way I think the majority of people listen to podcasts. Technically, I don't even think this default preference works for those people either come to think of it. because what if I have a podcast I don't update for three monts that starts with "AAA". For three months you're going to have to skip that podcast, or delete it, or unsubscribe. Anyway, Apples default podcast playlist order makes for an infinite amount of skipping and monkey's -ss messing around to find the most recent podcasts both in iTunes and when you're on your iPod.

I assume most people who listen to podcasts either on their iPod or at home just want to start with the most recent podcast first and go backward chronologically. On occasion some may like to listen to a specific show, but finding a specific show is another issue.

After the first couple days with Apple's iTunes I got so sick of skipping through "le show" (the kcrew podcast) ever time I just unsubscribed from it, not that it's bad, just that Apple just keeps showing the same podcasts in the same order over and over and over wether you've listened to them or skipped them 100 times until you go into itunes and delete them. It's fubar. It's idiotic. On top of it they give you no way to create a smart playlist... or so I thought.. Read on...

I have tried this smartlist playlist hack mentioned here, it doesn't work. I assume it's because before I found it the firware on my iPod was updated to the latest. To re-import the tracks from the operating system as one user suggested is ridiculous, besides loosing all Apple's proprietary meta information that's not contained in the actual mp3 (yet) you loose any date information with which you can order the podcast so you have the most recent material first. So, reimporting is not an option.

I will continue to look for other hacks, but I've found one thing that seems to work.

My work around...

Every time before I sync my iPod I select the whole podcast pane and drag it into the "Library". Apple seems to keep the "date added" information this way and it doesn't seem to waste space on the iPod putting the songs on twice or actually duplicate them on the hard drive. It's still an minor anoyance, given I can't just grab my iPod and run out the door, and I don't know how long it will work, but hopefully apple will fix this issue before they break my hack. :(

So that's it. I hope that helps some people.

More on using smart playlists...

After you drag the podcast into the library I do find the smart playlists work best, I find a "most recent" playlist works with the genre set to "podcast" works great. Thank god apple edits all the genre tags to podcast so you can quickly seperate them from your music when necissary. Kudos to apple on that. With iPodderX I had to specify it for every single podcast. (Note: I haven't tried iPodderX 3+ yet it may be better.)

I also like the tip about setting it so only podcasts with a playcount of zero appear in a playlist, but since I often skip one's I don't like before they finish they'd keep appearing on the list over and over.

Also, Since there's some things like IT conversations that I love to listen to repeatedly I like to have a "repeat listners" smart playlist too which allows me to listen to anything I've listened to more than once. Yeah, I'm a geek about IT conversations.

Finally, a "favorite podcasts" smart playlist works well by setting genre to "podcast" and "rating" to "highest rated". I mark podcast using the the "my rating" feature in itunes, but you can rate your music on your iPod by pressing the center button in the wheel a couple times while listening to a song. The screen will show the podcast name with five dots under it. You can use a turn of the wheel to add stars or remove them. Again I appologize to the majority of you whom already know this.

Marking songs on your iPod for follow up There's ONE other feature that I find most useful on my iPod. It's sort of a hack. I mark those songs which I'd like to check out the shownotes for or comment on by holding down the center button on the click wheel for a few seconds while listening to the podcast. This puts them in the "on the go" playlist on my iPod where upon returning to my computer i can identify them, go find the original post using google, and follow up with the author... Once again, I don't mean to be redundant in harping on apple, but it would be really awesome if apple would provide a big and very prominent link to the original podcast post and remove the stupid "info" button.

Apple and podcasters everywhere need to get together and propose some updates to the ID3 specifications to get permalinks and a whole lot of other meta information included into mp3, like creative commons licensces. :)

However right now, a side from the standards issue for some reason Apple doesn't think anything outside of what they've included in iTunes is important. As many non-mac fans and many die-hard mac fans would say, "that's typical Apple". :P

Oh, and just for fun some random advice, don't ever subscribe to the BBC "rebot" podcast unless you know what it is! Holly cow that's a lot of annoying crap! Great information, but why! WHY! I was not pleasantly suprised to find my iPod full of dozens of podcasts created nothing with Apple's electonic voices reading the BBC news. Not for anything in the world would I ever listen to the news this way. There's so many better podcasts for news. It's a great experiment though. :)

Well, I've said more than my fill, but I'll continue to lurk here looking for other tips or tricks on this problem, but if you have one or just hate my guts for being overly critical of Apple and long winded :) ... then you can find my ever changing spam proof email address in the left hand column of my blog I dare not post it here.

Disclaimer -- please pardon the spelling and gramer :)

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