Organising Podcasts

7 05 2006

Am I the only one who is unsatisfied with the way Podcasts are handled in iTunes?

Not that I’ve found anything better at this point in time, but the whole process lacks elegance and grace. It smacks of being unfinished, untidy and unplanned. It’s niggling at me every Update, mocking me with it’s crap UI.

Maybe my expectations are too high.

My 2GB iPod Nano is full. Full! 1.37GB of this is podcasts.
That’s not including one-off files that aren’t music, but aren’t filed under podcasts as there’s no subscription (Crap UI Factor #1).

I have subscribed to 56 podcasts, and unsubscribed from 24 of these*. The remaining ‘casts are made up of two top favourites (Geek News Central and Byte Into It), the ones I like, but don’t update often (Distributing the Future, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, 43 Folders, Morning Coffee Notes, Ozpodcaster), the ones I only download a few chosen episodes from (Podcast 411, Podcast Roundtable) and the ones I’m sampling, trying to decide if I like them enough to stay subscribed.

Annoyingly, the unsubscribed ones still display mixed in with my current subscriptions (Crap UI Factor #2), with no automatic filter separating these into live and dead feeds (Crap UI Factor #3). While I could manually tag them as dead, this seems more than clunky, as I’ve already informed the software that I’ve unsubscribed, it’s just not doing anything useful with that information.

I like to load my Pod by dragging the Podcasts folder onto my Pod, and iTunes taking care of the rest. This has worked for me thus far, until today. Now I’m getting a message that my iPod is full, and only some of the files will transfer, but not which ones (Crap UI Factor #4).

The “new” indicator (I call it the blue dot) also seems buggy when files are only listened to on the iPod (Crap UI Factor #5). This is particularly irritating with Podcasts, as I often think I have a couple of new ones to listen to, so I delay updating, only to discover on the train that I’ve heard them all before.

I also don’t like the way iTunes does not autopopulate the Subscribe to Podcast URL (Crap UI Factor #6), when the URL is already copied to the Clipboard (which NetNewsWire does so perfectly), I hope they add that in a future release.

My feature wishlist is:

  • Viewing filters on the Podcast window, so I can view only my current subscriptions, or previous subscriptions. This would be even cooler if linked with the other fields in iTunes (Grouping, Size, Date, Description custom word search).
  • A new field for subscribed/unsubscribed, with automatic flagging by iTunes.
  • Choices of which files to transfer to a nearly full iPod, and a choice to delete old Podcasts from my iPod only (retaining the iTunes copy).
  • Proper filing of one-off podcasts or audio files into their own section. Mine tend to be “special event” recordings from things like conferences, product launches, etc.
  • A function that allows me to retain old subscription URLs and which episodes I downloaded, but delete the actual files. That way, if I want one of them back, I don’t download 50+ Podcasts looking for one of three that I downloaded.

* Footnote:
I’m sorry to say this is mostly due to podcasters who are very poor speakers. Not all content should be podcasted, and not all content producers should be podcasters. In radio and TV we have come to expect a certain standard of audio, not just sound quality, but smooth speaking that is easy to listen to. There are many podcasts I have unsubscribed from, whose blog I would read and subscribe to, but I find their speaking voice intolerable to listen to for more than a few minutes, whether due to accents, poor sentence construction “like, you know” or halt-ing droning. speech. with weird. time-ing. and. pause-es. I want to be listening to content without distraction. Other culprits include massive jumps in audio levels, from REALLY LOUD OPENING SEQUENCES to really quiet content, LOUD interviewees and quiet hosts. I don’t listen to the TV or radio while constantly adjusting the volume, and I can’t see that changing for podcasting.
[transplanted from Typepad]




One response

18 11 2008

Mate, agree with you totally. I actually discovered this post by searching google for organising podcasts!

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