Never mind the fact that i’m online most of the day, and live at least 80 percent of my waking hours connected to some kind of broadband connection, sometimes you just have to go “off the net”. Since I spend a lot of time in the car (and on the road) I consume a fair amount of web based content like for example E-books and Podcasts, while i’m “away” from my home network. In order to have a picnic, you need to make your sandwiches before you leave, and the same thing is true if you want to listen to podcasts in the car or read some RSS feed on your Ebook reader while you are having lunch. The biggest “Bitch” of this process is that you need to “sync up” before you go. This means firing up whatever computer you require, download the content that you want to have, attach your portable device and sync it up. No biggie one would think, however I think the whole procedure is a bit to much hassle for my taste. Why in this day and age do we need to go through all this trouble to get our content on our portable devices. Can’t they get it for themselves ? Can’t this process be automated in some sort of manner ? There has to be a better way. The reason for my rant comes from the fact that I always “forget” to sync up the night before and end up needing to “update” my Ipod (and Ebook reader) with ‘fresh’ content in the morning, before I leave to work. I can tell you nothing is more annoying then having to ‘fire up’ a system, WAIT for content to download, CONNECT your portable device, WAIT for it to sync up. Even if I get up early enough for the entire process to complete its stilll a hassle. There has to be a better way.
Why does my Ipod, a device that has wifi and can surf the Internet like my Ipod touch, need a cable to sync podcasts !
If you think of it, its completely ridiculous. Every morning i would have to Boot up Nyana’s Imac (our main music collection and podcast subscriptions are on that machine) Launch Itunes (wait for it to “send its genius results back to apple) download fresh podcasts (quite an effort if you have quite a few) Hook up my ipod to the cable and sync over the podcasts. Never mind the stupidity of the concept of having to ‘tether’ a wifi enabled device to another wifi enabled device, its also a MANUAL process. I HATE manual processes, especially if the time consumed by them could be better spent having coffee or sleeping 40 seconds longer. So there had to be a solution for my problem. It would be ideal if the Ipod touch could have a built-in podcatcher. But that would “duplicate” some of that precious Itunes functionality Apple is so protective about. But after some Googling I DID find an application that might help me out. Unlike what we mostly talk about on the blog here, its NOT a freebee, but for 79 eurocent i thought i COULD give it a try. RSS-PLAYER may have a very simple name, but it does the job quite surprisingly. Available in the Itunes store it lets you (after installation to your ipod touch or Ipone) look for podcasts in its online directory (and subscribe to them) OR enter RSS feeds of podcasts manually. All in all its a very simple application that does its job very well. You “refresh” your subscribed podcasts from the home screen and RSS PLAYER will DOWNLOAD the latest episode of each feed to your Ipod over wifi. The OTHER episodes in the podcast feed are ALSO available to play via streaming. This is a very handy functionality when i want to listen to some episodes i hadn’t downloaded earlier, while i’m still at home. Whenever i’m cleaning the house or training the dog in our yard, i pop the Ipod in my pocket and “stream” whatever episodes there are in the feeds while still in reach of my Wifi access point. Should i want to listen to an episode “offline” I just select the episode and ask for it to be downloaded manually aswell. RSS PLAYER deletes the older episodes (you can save up to how many you prefer) , gives you a little ‘floppy disk’ icon before the feed entry to show you the episode has been “downloaded” or is available for “streaming”. The application “parses” your RSS feeds every hour or once every day, however the application has to be running (and wifi needs to be enabled and connected) to do that.
The way I use it is that I plop my ipod touch in our charging station, open up RSS PLAYER and tell it to ‘refresh’ my podcast lists. RSS PLAYER downloads all the podcasts in the background as it charges, and in the morning I just snatch the Ipod from the charger and am off. And when I don’t have the content available offline, I can just war-drive my way to an open hot-spot and download (or stream) my content from there. A truely remarkable app for a small price. Ok , it might be a liiiitle bulky and not have the well polished “finish” other native Ipod-Iphone apps have, but it does the trick. My Itunes isn’t polluted with podcasts, RSS PLAYER has built in playlists for unplayed episodes etc, it supports downloading AND PLAYING of screencasts .. its everything you want when you are too lazy to sync.
Download RSS PLAYER app from the Itunes Store or go to their website HERE .
In part Two : Syncing up my Ebook Reader