Podcasts on my iPhone & Smart Playlists

Music and talk radio bore me to death.  I’ve been commuting to work on the train and tram.  For a while I worked on last year’s books.  That all wrapped up and then I needed something else.  I got an iPad a few months ago and started syncing TV shows onto it via the VLC app.  On the tram (which is crammed) I switch to audio … mainly podcasts.  In the car, I hook up my iPhone FM transmitter which also charges the phone.  And there I play podcasts which are relayed via the car radio.

What am I listening to?  It’s a wide variety including:

  • Paul Thurrot/TWIT Windows Weekly
  • Guardian Tech Weekly
  • BBC Radio 4 Comedy of the Week and Friday Night Comedy
  • Newstalk 106-108 Talking History and Michael Graham (a right wing nut job that makes me laugh) highlights
  • The Photography Show
  • ESPN UFC
  • And I recently added ESPN Mike & Mike and Football Today (but things are quiet there with the labour dispute on).  I’m also looking for anything more work related in an audio format but the pickings are slim.

That’s just a small sample.  Some are updated several times a week, some weekly, and some randomly.  But all these audio podcasts keep me entertained while I’m on the move.  My time on the road will be increasing fairly soon so I’m adding more podcasts.

One difficult thing to deal with is a 2 hour trip where I’m listening to different 30 minute long podcasts.  I don’t want to be fumbling with the iPod app to switch podcasts.  That’s why I decided to look at creating a playlist.  A standard playlist in iTunes is easy to set up.  But it is static; in other words, you have to add podcasts to it after they download.  My iTunes automatically downloads anything it finds so I would have to remember to set up the playlist.  And that led me to Smart Playlists.

A smart playlist dynamically adds podcasts by running a query on your collection’s metadata.  It took me a little while to figure out the settings I needed but here’s what I used today:

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This searches for Podcasts (excluding other media such as music which I also have on the iPhone/iTunes) and specifies that the podcasts must be audio (excluding other video podcasts which I have for some photography/Photoshop stuff). 

Zap: and all my podcasts were ready.  After a phone sync, the podcast was ready, and I was able to listen to one podcast after another in the car without having to touch the phone.

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