Using Podnova as your online Podcatcher.

Jul 13

So thank the matrix for Podcasts and RSS feeds. Your loyal podcatcher (whether it is Itunes, Juice or good old Bashpodder) is subscribed to the RSS feed of your favorite show and downloads the episodes you want to listen to. Just punch in your Ipod (or whatever mp3 player you have) and you are  off to listen to whatever stuff interests you, whenever you feel like it.

That is , until you run out of juice ( no pun intended, I do mean battery power), until you FORGET your Ipod somewhere (Lets say you leave it behind on a plane) or you run out of content to listen to before you have a chance to ‘resync’. All your subscriptions (and your content) are on your podcatching computer (at home) while you are craving for the next episode of your favorite show.

Or what if you just got this awesome link of some new podcast about airbrushing antarctic penguins and you really want its next episode to be there when you sync up next time ? You’re podcatching pc is miles away and you happen to be stuck at work .

All of the above where issues that brought me to the a simple question
: Is there a way to manage my podcast consumption online ? More specifically : Is there a way to manage my podcasts even if I’m away from my mac. And does that service also help me in listening to the podcasts I’m subscribed to, In effect: have an “online” version of my ipod ?

The answer is : Yes there is. After some Googling I found PODNOVA.COM  This web-based service lets you search and subscribe to podcasts online. All the podcasts you subscribe to are listed up in your account and you can browse through various episodes and listen using their built in flash player. Its like having your “podcast” directory that you have in your podcatcher (or in Itunes) online. The big bonus here is that you can access the podcasts you subscribe to, from any computer. Whether I’m at work and want to listen to some chills from the Spacemusic podcast, or I’m at a friends place and want to tell him about such-and-such podcast I listened to. I always have access to every show i listen to, using podnova.

Podnova lets you search ‘their’ directory of podcasts for whatever you want to listen to, but I have found the RSS feeds Podnova mirrors, to be anything but fresh. Sometimes “their” feeds of a certain show are several episodes behind on the “original” podcast feed”. So whenever I want to add a show, i just copy and paste the RSS feed into Podnova to make sure its all “fresh”.

The other awesome feature they have is their “snippets” feature. Lets say you just want to listen to one specific episode of a podcast. What if you feel like cherry-picking certain episodes from various shows ? Just “add them” to your snippets and all the different episodes from different podcasts are dropped into one RSS feed you are automatically subscribed to. Next time you pop in the ipod .. all those episodes are right on there.

As their website states : ‘As a web 2.0 service, it provides a method for not only subscribing to podcasts but also sharing those subscriptions via a RSS feed and an OPML file via a web-based interface.’ So of course you can share your collection of podcasts you subcribe to ( this collention of RSS Feeds is your OPML file ) with others OR export the entire OPML file to a podcatcher on your computer.’

In order for this link between your podcatcher ( ok, lets just call it Itunes ) to work you need to have some way of moving Podnova’s OPML to your podcatcher OR import your podcatchers OPML file to Podnova. For this, Podnova comes with a client that does just that.. and unfortunately .. more. As mentioned, the client gives you the ability to “sync’ podnova’s OPML file to your podcatcher. This, on its own, is a priceless functionality for me. I just go online, add and remove podcast subscriptions, and when I get home i fire up the Podnova client, sync the OPML file into my Itunes and I have all the podcasts i require.

But, the downside to the Podnova client is , that it also tries to be its own podcatcher and offers you the ability to also DOWNLOAD all the podcasts you subscribed to. That is nice if you don’t have a podcatcher of your own.. but as with much software that is not fantastically developed, it doesn’t do it very well.

So in all i’m pretty pleased with Podnova. The way I use it everyday is to add and remove podcast subscriptions (if i hear about a great podcast, or get fed up with one while listening to it in the car) and about once every week i’ll sync up the OPML list. The other functionality is that I can “listen ahead” to podcasts (or podio book episod
es like 7th Son) even if i don’t have them on my Ipod. But one of the coolest functions is the snipped function. The RSS feed filled up with all kinds of stuff that you mig
ht find interesting.

What would make it perfect : Quite frankly it would be awesome to be able to sync your ipod using the podnova web interface. That way you could “charge up” on content where-ever you are. Might be a nice idea for the developers over there.

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