My fishing buddy was admiring my Clip+ and the ease with which I use it to listen to podcasts. He has one inbound from Newegg and will be counting on me to get him set up and running. The fly in the ointment is that I run Linux and he uses Windows. I need to find a solution that will work well for him. I thought that one way to do that was to describe what I do and see what others are doing, particularly in the Windows realm.
My solution involves a lot of 'roll your own' as I am a developer and scripting up some simple utilities is almost trivial. The second aspect of my solution is that I run Rockbox on my Clip+ because it works a lot better than the original Sansa firmware for what I do.
My system is geared toward downloading the podcasts daily and listening to them day by day.
- The first step is to run the command line version of gpodder from a cron job. (Cron can schedule execution of a command on a periodic basis.) The gpodder invocation is actually run from a shell script that first updates and downloads all subscribed podcasts. Next it moves all new podcasts to a directory named ~/Music/gpodcast/<yyyy-mm-dd> where <yyyy-mm-dd> is the current date in ISO 8601 format. (This format has the desirable feature that it sorts in correct order.) In ogther words, it creates a new directory each day that contains the podcasts downloaded that day. The script next runs 'mp3gain' across all files in ~/Music/gpodcast to equalize gain. At this point the podcasts are ready to copy over to the device.
- Second step is to attach the Clip+ to my PC.
- Delete any <yyyy-mm-dd> directories from the Clip+ for which I've already listened to all of the included podcasts. (Periodically I also clean up older <yyyy-mm-dd> directories from my PC since moving the files defeats any capability for gPodder to do that.)
- Add directories not already copied to the Sansa. I copy over the daily podcast directories intact to .../Music/00-podcast/... The directory 00-podcast is named so it will always appear first in a directory listing. That way I can add other albums to the Music directory and they will play automatically if I listen to all of my podcasts. If all of the albums are played, Rockbox will happily proceed with any albums on the micro-SD card if one is inserted. In other words, once I start play, Rockbox will continue playing as long as the battery holds up. (This is important for me because I listen during motorcycle touring trips and marathon training runs - both times when I don't want to stop and fiddle with the MP3 player.)
- Disconnect the Sansa and continue listening. This is the step where Rockbox really shines. When disconnected from the PC, it will happily continue playing whatever it was playing when it was interrupted (except if the battery goes dead. It won't remember position under that condition.) The factory firmware on the other hand takes 5 minutes to update because I have an 8GB micro-SD card installed. Add one track and it rescans everything. The other annoying habit is that it loses the resume point when any changes are made to contents on the device.
The upshot of this process is that every day or so, I connect my Clip+ to my PC, delete old directories, add new directories and resume listening. It marches through my podcasts in the desired order (oldest first) and continues on to my music should I run out of podcasts. For me it does what I want in a nearly frictionless way.
I'd like to find something that presents as similar an end result as possible for my fishing buddy. I'm presently exploring Windows based solutions and wonder if anyone listens to podcasts the way I do and if so, what tools they use. I tried gPodder first but found that it does not presently implement sync to device.
. I'm working with Media Monkey right now and that looks promising. It syncs podcasts to the Clip+ and I'm exploring the rest of the work flow to see how that works.
Bleah! Using Media Monkey and Sansa factory firmware, it plays podcasts in reverse date order - not what I would want. Maybe that will be OK with my buddy.