ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Podcasts on Windows Mobile

5/27/2008 3:53:55 PM

Couple of years ago I had to walk 25-30 minutes to work. I listen to music while I work (can't work otherwise) so I was kind of tired of music to listen on the go too. That's when I discovered audiobooks.

But 2 years ago we've moved our office closer to my place and now I have to walk for 10-12 minutes only and that's too short for audiobooks. As far as I remember average book is about 600 minutes long so I would've had to listen to it for more than a month. So I stopped and walked in silence (read "city noise"). And I actually enjoyed it for some time.

Recently podcasts became really popular but I couldn't project the idea onto my daily routine. I can't listen to someone talking while programming and simply sitting staring at the wall listening to some podcast is ridiculous. But then an idea hit me that podcasts would be a nice replacement for my audiobook addiction.

The player - S2P

podcast_s2p I'm totally satisfied with HTC Audio Manager and/or Windows Media Player on my HTC Touch for occasional music listening. I never watch videos on my phone. So I didn't have any 3rd party players on my device. But podcasts/audibooks require at least one additional feature that neither Audio Manager nor WMP have - ability to resume your last played file from the same position. So I started a quest for the right player.

There is only one 3rd party player name that I had embedded in my head - CorePlayer. Based on feature set and recommendations this is considered the best media player for Windows Mobile. However it has way more features than I need (actually I needed a very tiny addition to WMP), costs $25 and there's no trial download. So I decided to look for alternatives.

Then I found PocketMusic Bundle ($20). It supports bookmarks which is most likely a more advanced version of what I needed. There's also a free version of PocketMusic (requires registration though) which I tried. There are no bookmarks in free version but options dialog has a checkbox labeled "Continue from last position on start". But either it doesn't work or I misunderstand it's purpose.

After looking at some other alternatives which had no mention of the feature I was after in their feature lists, I found S2P (pictured). The player looks nice (a bit rough around the edges and a little too inspired by iPhone though) and resumes from where it was closed.

So the quest is over for now.

Getting podcasts on your device

I've tried 2 apps to automatically download podcasts from their RSS feeds. One for desktop Windows - FeedStation. And one for Windows Mobile - HubDog. Both worked fine but I realized almost immediately that the nice thing about podcasts is that you don't have to listen to every episode of every show and so you definitely don't have to download every episode of every show.

So I ended up manually subscribing to RSS feeds in my RSS reader and downloading episodes I want manually. Then I created an automatic playlist in WMP11 based on "Podcast" genre and set up automatic synchronization of this playlist with my phone. Works like a charm.


Currently I'm catching up on only 2 shows:

  1. Hanselminutes by Scott Hanselman. Very nicely produced podcast mainly focusing on Windows and web development related issues with occasional forays in other areas. Episodes are 20-40 minutes long which I think is quite optimal size. I would say 25-30 minutes would be perfect for me (one day's walk to and from work)
  2. DotNetRocks with Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell. As the title implies it's focused on .NET and related stuff. The episodes are too long for my taste (usually a little longer than 1 hour) and the flow is not as good as Hanselman's but interesting and educational nevertheless.

I'm not looking for many more (since I have up to 25 minutes a day for podcasts) but once I finish with "back catalogs" of these two I think I'd like to add a couple more to this list. So, your recommendations are welcome and highly appreciated. Subjects I'm interested in (in no particular order): programming in general and web development in particular, windows mobile software, photography, popular culture (music, movies, books, etc.). So if you know a really good podcast along these lines, please, let me know.

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