24 April 2007

Podcasts, iPod Shuffle, and airplanes

For my flights to and from Jackson this past weekend, I decided to listen to a few podcast episodes on my iPod Shuffle. When podcasts first became available on iTunes, I tried out a few and didn't really like any of them. I prefer written blog posts to the audio podcasts because I can skim through them at my own speed. Recently I had read posts from other commuters who said how great the podcasts were for passing time to and from work. As I have begun learning Cocoa and working on an application using it in my spare time, I downloaded several episodes of Late Night Cocoa to my iPod.

This worked great except for a few issues. First and foremost, the Shuffle isn't designed for playing podcasts. The lack of a display hurts several aspects. You can't tell how far into the episode you are so you don't know how many minutes are remaining. You also can't take a break, listen to something else, and then easily return to the spot where you left off. There was one particular episode about memory management which was over an hour long and quite boring (sorry Uli), yet I still wanted to listen to all of it because it was somewhat beneficial and I was able to jot down a few good notes from it. Without a display, it is also tougher to find a particular track to listen to if you completely fill up the iPod. Before my trip, I downloaded about five podcast episodes and made sure they were first on my playlist and then added some music tracks after them. I just made sure the iPod wasn't in shuffle mode until I was finished listening to the podcasts. Another problem I had was really more of an issue with the iPod's earbuds. They don't block out any external noise. The longest legs of my flights were aboard a very noisy Embraer jet and the only way I could actually hear my iPod was to cup my hands over my ears. This quickly became awkward and I just gave up listening while in that airplane.

Aside from all that, I have enjoyed the Late Night Cocoa series and hopefully it won't be too long before I announce the availability of my first Cocoa application.


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