September 8 2017 - 12:53 pm

iTunes U Moving to Podcasts

Apple has announced that iTunes U content will soon be moved to Podcasts. When that happens, iTunes U content will only be available through the iOS Podcasts app or the Podcasts section of iTunes. In iTunes, the iTunes U section will disappear.

What. You were expecting an iTunes U app?

March 15 2016 - 7:03 am

Use Overcast and Join Together to Listen to Audiobooks

Marco Arment's Overcast iOS podcast app has been updated to v2.5. I use Overcast exclusively for podcast listening. It's fantastic. The latest version of Overcast has a great new feature: file uploads. Patrons of Overcast are allowed 2GB of cloud space in which to upload files up to 250MB each. This is a great way to get audiobooks into Overcast from iTunes whereby you can take advantage of Overcast's playback effects, like smart speed and voice boost.

And a great way to prepare audio files for upload to the Overcast cloud is to use use my Join Together app to consolidate the files of an audiobook to just a single file (or a small batch of individual files) under 250MB. In fact, it's likely you could get about eight hours of decent-sounding spoken word audio in a single audio file under that limit when it's encoded at 64kbps.

First, you need to be a patron of Overcast. Which means you've made an in-app payment in the Overcast app and registered. I'm an annual patron at $11.99 per year, but there are three-month and six-month patronage plans available also. Only patrons will be able to upload files to the Overcast cloud.

Use Join Together to create a Music file from a batch of tracks in iTunes (I had trouble with one m4b audiobook file created with Join Together and I'm not sure what the issue was. If I manually changed the extension to m4a in the Finder there was no problem.) Join Together will display the approximate final file size as tracks are dragged to it or the bit rate settings are changed. You want to make sure to keep your final file under 250MB (as underlined in red, below).

Also, since this file is only going to be used with Overcast, rather than add the final file to iTunes, you may want to use Join Together's Advanced Session Options (Option-Export) to save the final joined file to the Desktop. Once you upload it to Overcast, you can remove it from the Desktop.

When the appropriately-sized audio file has been exported from Join Together, go to the Overcast uploads webpage. Navigate to the file you created with Join Together and send it to the cloud.

Go to Overcast app. In Settings make sure "File uploads" is on. Refresh. Your uploaded file(s) should appear in "Uploads" at the top of the Podcasts section, where it will play like any podcast episode.

Just to be clear, I'm not affiliated with Overcast or Marco Arment. I just like listening to good stuff in a clever way on great iOS software.

December 29 2014 - 4:48 pm

MacVoices Podcast

Chuck Joiner invited me to join him on his MacVoices podcast. We talk about iTunes and AppleScript (of course) and obsessive-compulsive music organization, among other topics.

June 24 2014 - 9:36 am

NEW: Unfinished Podcast Episodes

My Podcasts library is littered with episodes I started playing with good intentions but abandoned. For a while, I was just keeping the 3 most recent episodes and the older unfinished episodes could take a hike in a black hole. But that's only satisfactory if the episodes happen to be time-sensitive. I've got a batch of evergreen episodes that I want to evaluate, but only if I haven't finished listening to them.

Unfinished Podcast Episodes will scan the Podcasts library (media tracks in other libraries that may be podcasts will be ignored) for episodes that have not finished playing and copy them to a playlist named "[-Unfinished Podcast Episodes>".

The script detects that an episode's bookmark-time value—the position at which it was paused or stopped—is less than its duration. The bookmark time will be set if an episode is set to "Remember playback position", the default setting for downloaded podcast episodes. .

More information and download is here.

January 26 2012 - 10:22 am

Sync a Wi-Fi iPhone Once a Day With launchd

A while back, I retired my iPhone 3GS to the bedside table after buying an iPhone 4. I use the 3GS pretty much as a glorified clock radio-iPod Touch. I have a few radio apps on it and the Digital Clock app. I also have it set to sync and back up over Wi-Fi to my main iMac so I manually initiate a sync when I need to update Podcasts and apps and what have you.

This manual syncing has become tiresome. (I mean, if I used a traditional clock radio, I wouldn't have to update its content manually, right?)

It's simple enough to write an AppleScript to sync a connected iPhone but I want the script to run on a regular basis without me having to fire it. I like to listen to Podcasts in the evening so sometime during dinner would be a good time to update the 3GS with any Podcasts that have arrived during the day. For this, I can create a launchd agent to fire the AppleScript that syncs the 3GS in the background. Here's how to get all that to swing: (more…)

December 12 2011 - 11:37 am

UPDATED: Update Expired Podcasts v2.2 (and launchd project)

iTunes will stop updating a Podcast subscription if you haven't played at least one of its episodes in five days. Update Expired Podcasts v2.2 will go through every Podcast subscription and update it so you don't have to manually update each one individually.

This latest version adds a routine that checks to see if iTunes is running before proceeding with updating the Podcasts. Now, you may be asking yourself: if I'm running the script from the iTunes Script menu then why would the script need to check if iTunes is already running? Because: I'm going to show you how to regularly launch the script automatically and invisibly in the background and you may not want iTunes to run when the script fires. If you're not familiar with launchd then read on.


April 11 2010 - 11:03 am

NEW: Mark All Episodes As Played

A Correspondent bemoaned the loss of the "Mark as..." contextual menu item when control-clicking a Podcast library subscription title while in List View. I wouldn't have noticed that in a million years. Still, it's an expulsion only slightly more arcane than doing away with my beloved Mute button, so I was sympathetic, and produced Mark All Episodes As Played. While the Podcast library is in List View, select any one (or more) episode(s) of a podcast or its subscription title and run this script to mark every episode of the podcast as Played (or Watched). Works great when assigned a shortcut.

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