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More iPod Woes

November 2, 2010

I have posted before about frustrations using my iPod Classic. Recently I have found there is cause for more well deserved criticism.

Apple Philosophy

Apple pride themselves with being the makers of easy to use products with easy to use software. I know several Apple diehards and more than one of them has waxed lyrical about how not only do Apple have a good idea of what makes good products, they also have a good idea of what to leave out to keep a product good, so that its simple to use and not overly complicated.

I have absolutely no problem with this policy, so long as it is adhered to.

What’s my beef this time?

My beef is about video podcasts. I subscribe to a wide range of podcasts and some of them are video podcasts, most of them play okay on my iPod Classic. So far so good.

The problem is not all of them do and there is no clear indication of which are the problem one. The only hint I got that all was not right was when I couldn’t find a specific podcast on my iPod Classic. On further investigation it became apparent that this was because the podcast in question was not being synced to my iPod Classic, despite being in a playlist that was being synced. It wasn’t alone, there were a few video podcasts that were not being synced.

No Explanation

Its all well and good iTunes being clever and knowing which video podcasts won’t play on my iPod Classic and automatically excluding them from the sync process; but what use is that to me if I do not get told?

No obvious answer

Scratching about in iTunes help revealed no explanation as to why this might happen, so finding a solution was not forthcoming either. I had to resort to searching a few forums and blogs and eventually I found the answer.

Not a full answer though

The answer is that you have to manually select the offending podcast episodes and select the menu option Convert to iPod / iPhone format (or similar). If iTunes is clever enough to know that my iPod Classic can’t play a podcast, why can’t it automatically convert the offending podcast to a format that my iPod Classic will play? It surely can’t be that difficult to code and it saves me having to manually convert every episode after it downloads.

How long?

Having found the less than satisfactory answer I selected a dozen 10 minute episodes and clicked convert. Close to 20 hours later they were done! Seriously! How chuffing long Steve?

Maybe this is why it’s a manual process.

So where are they?

Of course, converting them was only the start of the challenge. I synced again and looked for them on my iPod Classic. Where were they? Nowhere to be found. Back to iTunes to find the new files. Nope, can’t find them, so convert again and search more in vain.

Hmmmmm, back to google and some more web searches.

It turns out that when you convert a file manually like this the resulting new file is copied into your films section in iTunes, and since I didn’t have that enabled (no need) I could not find them. So its enable the films options and set films to sync and well. Now I can see them.

Managed separately

So, now I have two copied of each of the podcast episodes and they are managed separately. The film version is copied to my iPod Classic and marked as view when I watch it and sync back. The original podcast episode is left as is. The two files are also kept in different locations on the hard disk as well.

You’d have thought that iTunes would keep the converted copy in the same location as the original and mark it as an iPod version and copy that to the iPod when syncing and play the original on the PC when playing and mark both as viewed when either is views, because, quite obviously, they are exactly the same thing. Managing the copy as an entirely different entity is a farce and yet again displays utterly lazy coding and design.

When an episode is watched on my iPod Classic I now have to keep track of which ones are marked as view in the films section of iTunes and make sure that I then delete the original podcast version as well as the film copy. This really is silly Apple.

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