Automating Podcasts using myPodder on an iPod

If you’re a power podcast user like me, you’ve probably found that iTunes doesn’t have the feature set you’re looking for in a podcatching client. That’s why I was thrilled to discover that myPodder, the client that goes with the online site Podcast Ready, now supports iPods. I was less than excited, though, when I discovered that “support” means that the application runs, not that you can actually play the stuff you download directly on your iPod.

So I figured out a way to use myPodder on my iPod without copying files to my desktop and adding them to my iPod using iTunes. This system is a little more complex than just running iTunes, but it makes full use of myPodder’s greatest asset – it runs right off the iPod, so you’re not tied to one machine like you are with iTunes.

Note: I’ve tested this only on a Mac with a 60GB iPod with video. In theory it should be the same on Windows and should work with all iPods except the shuffle (either flavour).

Obligatory Warning
: When fooling around with these things, sometimes stuff goes wrong. Always back up your files first; you may have to restore your iPod if things go screwy.

To get it all working, you’ll actually need two separate free applications – myPodder and YamiPod. myPodder is the podcatching client and YamiPod allows the podcasts you download to your iPod to be played by the iPod. There’s a special hidden filesystem on the iPod that actually contains the music files that you can hear, so just adding songs to the iPod as if it were a hard drive doesn’t cut it.

Here are the details:

  1. Download myPodder for your desktop system. Currently, there are versions to support Mac OS X and Windows, and there is supposedly a linux version on the way.
  2. Plug your iPod into your computer. Make sure that it’s mounted, and that the following settings are selected in the iPod preferences in iTunes:
    • set iPod to act as a hard drive,
    • uncheck the box that forces iTunes to open when the iPod is connected, and
    • check the box to manually manage songs.
  3. Uncompress the downloaded myPodder file and install the application in the root folder on your iPod.
  4. Quit iTunes, but do not unmount the iPod.
  5. Run myPodder. Set up an account at Podcast Ready (if you haven’t already), and subscribe to the podcasts you want to listen to. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet, and download your podcasts.
  6. Meanwhile, download YamiPod (available for Mac OS X, Windows and linux). If you have been using iTunes 7 (it’s the one with the blue icon and the cover art toys), make sure you get the UNSTABLE BETA version of YamiPod (it’s worked perfectly marginally well for me, but it is a beta – your milage may vary).
  7. Install YamiPod in the root directory of your iPod, and run it. The first time you open YamiPod it could take a while. Be patient.
  8. Here’s the cool/tricky part: under Tools, choose Synchronize. Here, set up a Location (I called mine Podcast Ready), then choose a folder to synchronize. Then, choose the folder on your iPod where the downloaded podcasts reside (unless you’ve changed this setting in myPodder, it’s iPod/mac_myPodder Folder/Podcasts), and set this folder to synchronize with a playlist.Choose either a pre-existing regular playlist (not an iTunes Smart Playlist), or create a new playlist using YamiPod. Choose the option you want for synchronization – more information about the synchronization feature of YamiPod are found in its documentation. When your podcasts are finished downloading via myPodder, hit synchronize. Note that if you have “Show resume before synchronizing” checked, you’ll have to hit synchronize on the next dialog as well.

    Pretty soon, your new podcasts will show up in the playlist you’ve selected. You can unmount your iPod and listen to your shiny new podcasts, all without ever opening iTunes.

    Update:
    You can replace steps 6 though 8 by using an Automator Workflow.  I talk about it all here.

So, why would you want to do this? Here’s why I did it. First, Podcast Ready offers features unavailable in iTunes, such as setting separate download preferences for each feed, podcast recommendations (though AmigoFish is better), a private feed where you can put individual episodes and a social system where you can share episodes between friends automatically. (By the way, I am darusha on Podcast Ready, so feel free to add me as a friend and send me podcasts you like).

Second, you can update your podcasts from pretty much any internet-connected computer. In theory, you can install both Mac and Windows versions of each program, which is great if you have to use both systems for travel or work/home use.

Finally, as a podcast producer, I’m not thrilled that iTunes has become almost the only way people find out about podcasts. By supporting competition in the podcatching and podcast providing world, I’m exposing myself to different content as well as taking more control over where I get my information about new podcasts.

Disclosure: I’m not associated with any of the companies or programs I’ve named here.

5 thoughts on “Automating Podcasts using myPodder on an iPod

  1. Thanks for this. It may come in very handy. I do wish iTunes let you micromanage your Podcasts and/or that third party programs could play nice with the iPod. My current solution involves another program: Cast Away, which lets you select rules for each podcast and then makes changes to your iTunes library based on those rules. It’s nice, but I don’t know that I can run it from the iPod, so once I’m on the road, I’ll have same problem.

  2. First off, let me say that I am very happy to hear that you are finding myPodder useful. I wanted to point out that the verion of myPodder that was released in October does actually run from the iPod and should place the podcasts into the needed data files so that they appear on the iPod’s menu, eliminating the need for YamiPod. It’s still in beta, but I have been using it on my iPod since October and the bugs that we are working on are minor.

    Please drop me a line if you are unable to make it work in this way and we’ll see if we can’t fix it for you.

    Thanks again, and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any comments, suggestions, bugs, etc.

    Best regards,

    Russell S. Holliman
    Founder, CEO
    Podcast Ready, Inc.
    russell@podcastready.com

  3. @Russell: Thanks for the comment. I’m currently using myPodder 1.6.3 for the Mac and I was using the previous version before. Neither version has worked on its own with the iPod. They all download the files to a directory on the iPod, but there seems to be no connection with the iPod database. I just double checked, and there’s no reference to the newly downloaded files on my iPod’s menu.

    I’ve heard that it works with the Windows version, but I’m using a Mac. If there’s a way to make it work natively, I’d love to hear about it.

    ~Darusha

  4. I have installed podcastready MyPodder on my 2nd generation ipod nano, and it is working great, all by itself — without any other programs. I have installed the mac/linux/windows all-in-one version … mac updating works fine. (i use a mac at work and have a pc at home)…

    The podcasts show up in the menu, and even interact correctly with my current dynamic playlists. Finally, a workable solution!!

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