As you may have noticed by the tumbleweeds floating through this blog, I’ve been a bit busy offline. It’s the holiday season, and that means a lot of long hours in the chair working on the computer (and occasionally, when I’m really tired of staring at the screen, pallet jack surfing. Don’t try this at home.)
Anyway, I got tired of listening to music and set up iTunes with the intention of listening to news podcasts while I worked. This has two advantages to using the iPod Shuffle: using the iPod Shuffle to play podcasts is an exercise in frustration (can’t play podcasts in shuffle mode, can’t use Autofill, etc.) and with the iTunes software you can play video and audio podcasts.
I found several podcasts that I enjoy (I’ll be mentioning them at the end of this rant) and it’s helping me get my work done and stay informed about the news of the world. But the actual process of searching for them on iTunes was — I’m trying to think of a metaphor here. I can’t think of one extreme enough. Let’s just go with bloody awful.
Oh, iTunes Podcast Search, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:
1. For browsing, categories are too broad. I can’t find any subcategories anywhere.
2. It’s not clear how the “Featured” podcasts for each category got there. Is it popularity? Rating? Paid placement? Please enlighten me.
3. The power search makes my skull hurt. You can search by title, author, description, category, or language. (The language search didn’t seem to work when I tried it.) No matter what you search for you will only get 150 results. Only. 150. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for #4.
4. There are no filters where filters are desperately needed. I can’t, for example, remove podcasts that haven’t been updated in least six months, or with at three episodes, or which are longer than two or shorter than ten minutes. Search results end up cluttered with podcasts which look like they had one episode only, or which haven’t been updated for two years. Are there new podcasts I’m not learning about because these abandoned ones are cluttering up the search results?
5. There’s no easy way to go to the Web site for the podcast. I can understand why iTunes is doing that, but it’s still annoying.
Frankly I haven’t found any podcast search engine I really like. Finding an easy way to save podcasts for other MP3 players (I have a non-Apple player that I use for exercising) has also been a pain — I tried everything from Juice-Formerly-iPodder to going around my elbow to manually manage a list. I finally settled on using WebSite Watcher to monitor podcast home pages and then manually downloading the episodes to an SD card.
Wow, this has really been a negative writeup. Let me alleviate that some by telling you about some podcasts I really like. These are not in any particular order.
1. Mad Money Machine — http://madmoneymachine.com/ — Paul Douglas talks stocks, reviews books, gives brief bios of economics, and talks smack about Jim Kramer. (I also listen to Jim Kramer’s “Lightning Round”.)
2. Virtual Worlds BusinessCast — http://feeds.feedburner.com/VWBusinessCast — 90% interviews. The producers of the podcast come up with some astounding interviewees who talk about using Second Life and other virtual environments for business.
3. Podrunner & Groovelectric — http://www.djsteveboy.com/mixes.html — Mixes for working out, running, etc. Haven’t hit a clinker yet.
4. The BASF Chemical Reporter Podcast — http://corporate.basf.com/en/presse/podcast/ — This ‘cast runs about five minutes. It’s a weekly series that examines questions like “How does baking soda put out a fire?” and “Why do bananas turn brown in the refrigerator?”
5. Chuck Jaffe’s Stupid Investment of the Week — podcast here — Chuck Jaffe picks an investment every week an explains why it’s a terrible idea.
6. The Michael White Hypnosis Podcast — http://knowmoretrances.typepad.com/ — Michael White has never hypnotized me, but he has made me laugh until my eyes ran. Fun.
7. The Real Story With Aaron Task — http://www.thestreet.com/audio/taskaudio/index.html — Roundup of daily financial news, sprinkled with interviews. The financial perspective is more business than consumer and gives me a lot to think about.
Any news/finance/really good podcasts I should know about? Drop me a note!