Posts Tagged ‘podcatcher’

Podcatching: Thinking inside the box

I love making and listening to podcasts. I use iTunes primarily on a Macbook to download and organize audio and video-casts which I consume constantly as white noise while I am working or commuting.

I tend to listen to audio-casts when I am out and about, and watch video when I am sitting for long periods. (I have played with an iPod Touch, but I’ve never felt comfortable sitting on a bus watching video.) I like small.

Out of necessity, I hop back and forth on several computers all the time. I use several PC and Macs. Some wide open, some firewalled to the hilt. I run VMware as well, and virtualize Windows and Linux on my Macbook to use as necessary. I consider myself pretty neutral in the Mac vs. PC argument. Both have their uses. I just want my tools to work and get the job done.

When my beloved first generation iPod Shuffle finally stopped working (best form-factor ever!), the search was on to replace it. The obvious choice would be the new iPod Shuffle, but I was starting to long for a display and menus. The 4th Gen iPods sure are pretty, but feature wise I could not reconcile the price premium as compared to the many other capable players available.

Specifically, the 4G Sansa Clip is (to me) the best of all micro players:

  • Very, very small
  • Nice display
  • Built in mic (neat plus)
  • FM tuner (nice bonus)
  • Drag and drop USB Mass Storage Device

I knew I was going to sacrifice some of the seamless ‘Apple Experience’ I was used to when syncing with iTunes, but I fell in love with the Sansa Clip. While there are several PC options for syncing libraries, just for fun I wanted to find a reliable method for syncing a non-iPod to iTunes on the Mac.

Sure enough there are many Mac applications and Applescript workarounds that attempt to simplify the task of migrating iTunes libraries and playlists to a removable device.  Two in particular were pretty cool: SyncTunes and iTuneMyWalkman. While functional, they are a bit cumbersome and strip away the elegance of iTunes.

I was beginning to think I made a big mistake not getting another iPod. It was only after relating my frustrations to a non-techie friend that I realized my error.

My problem was not that I couldn’t get the Clip and iTunes to play nicely together, but rather that I was not solving the right problem.

By being hard-headed and making sport out finding a band-aid solution to kluge together iTunes and my player, I had abandoned my particular Use Case:

  • Find the perfect device (for me) and the simplest means to load it with audio podcasts no matter what computer I’m at.

For inspiration I looked here: Podcatchermatrix.org. Enter PodcastReady and MyPodder. I had heard of this application years ago while trying to make my Treo 650 useful. Back then it was called ‘Podcatcher on a Stick’.

MyPodder is a standalone application that runs ON the portable device, and through a very simple interface facilitates managing and downloading many forms of syndicated content straight to the device. No duplicate versions, no synching. There is also a launchable web client that makes searching for and discovering new content a breeze.

Best of all since this cross platform application is on my Sansa Clip player, I can update and manage my podcast subscriptions from just about any internet connected computer. (I have not fully tested the Mac and Linux implementation, but they are part of the same ‘folder’ of apps.)

I still use iTunes on the Macbook for subscribing to video podcasts, because that’s where I watch them –  on the nice big screen.

Now, my portable media is just that: Portable.