Catching Casts Just Got Easier

Hey wow, I just recieved an email from Adam Zand from Topaz Partners (who are the doing the PR for the guys who brought us the MyPodder software which I blogged about here). Russell Holliman and his team have built on the MyPodder application since I last blogged about it and are releasing MyPodder formally tommorrow under the banner of Podcast ready. He goes on to invite me to download and review the software (and the portal) which I fully intend to do – once I can find my 256Mb USB key – unfortunatly, this may require me to tidy my desk!

“Podcast Ready�s myPodder software, now available in a free Beta download at http://www.podcastready.com, answers the concerns of ease-of-use and portability, with one-click subscription management and a software client that downloads directly to the device�allowing you to access subscriptions from any Internet-connected computer.”

Easy is good, (unless you’re the nervous parent of a young teenage girl – but that would be a different and throughly unrelated discussion) and in the world of PodCasting, or more accuratly – PodCatching – getting and managing your Podcasts between playback locations doesn’t appear to be as simple as I’d like it to be (without restricting yourself to one playback device).
So – check out the links, and I’ll post a review once I find my USB key, tidy my desk – or both.

Update: 22/03/2006

Okay, So – I found my USB key (no it didn’t take that long, I’ve been a professional meeting attendee for the last few days at work so no time for anything else).

First impression after clicking the ‘Download Now’ link was “Errgh, I have to register?” As a (assumably) new visitor to the site, which I may or may not trust – or simply want to try before I establish a relationship with the application, I’m being asked to create yet another identity silo on the web with a username and password which I will have to try and remember – along with an email address which may or may not make me a target for marketing emails.

Giving them the benifit of the doubt (because I’m such a trusting fellow), I duly entered the required information and clicked the excited ‘Sign me Up!!’ button (two exclamation points – I can hardly wait for some input to this form!!)

Once the next page had loaded I was faced with the Download Program image which I;d clicked to start all of this Right then, 3 steps to go it says…

  1. Download the zipped packaged program
  2. Copy the files from the Zip
  3. Paste them into the root of you MP3 player

At this point, I needed to click yet another download link, but this time – it (thankfully) actually DOWNLOADED the application.

Now, fortunatly for me I’m no stranger to computers and things – but for the average Mum/Dad/Granny, here is about where you will start losing people, not only do you have to click “Download’ three times before you actually end up with a file, you also will need to understand how to perform steps 2 and 3 of the above list – it would have been a really nice touch to provide a link for the n00b users to view a step-by-step hand hold through exactly how one goes about opening a zip file and copying it’s contents into the root directory (“What’s a root directory”) of your MP3 player. Now, granted – there was a flash animation playing on the same page to show how this is done, but typical user behaviour is to ignore moving/flashing images as one assumes it is just promotional or advertising so a seperate link – even to this animation(because everyone has flash installed right? …Right?!) would have made the instructions just a bit more obvious.

Once the files were copied over, I simply clicked the .exe file and then intro to the program started (I must admit I was very happy to see that they took the time to explain the actual origination of the word PodCast (sorry Steve Jobs, it’s NOT because of you).

Some nice immediatly apparent features were:

  • Preloaded/Default podcast streams (termed ‘Channels’) which immediatly updated their header info giving me some content to make an informed decision whether I should download it or not.
  • A ‘Private Channel’ which promises to allow people in my friends list to send me podcast episodes (I wonder if this will extend to allowing them to recommend streams to subscribe to, or if I could see what streams *they* listen to?)
  • Deleting ‘Channels’ was easy (yet haunted by continual ‘Are you sure’ messages which had no ‘Don’t ask again’ settings.

To add more podcasts I could either ‘Add more podcasts to the list’ which unfortunatly required the program to be closed, a browser opened and, in my case, my login details to be re-entered. The subscription from the site however was FANTASTIC, nice roll-over summaries of the content, and included my favorite regular podcast from Geek News Central (who started this whole thing for me, back in July last year). There is even a ‘My Friends’ Podcasts in [SectionName]’ section – so that probably covers off one of my wishlist items I raised above. So anyway, I quickly browsed the 523 avalible ‘casts in Sci/Tech and then started to ponder how these selections would be applied to my (now closed) Podcatcher program.

It turned out to be as simple as restarting the program off the memory stick and it found my new selections which I promptly downloaded (fingers crossed for sufficient space). No free space, but intelligent enough to tell me that I need to delete old podcasts and try again (as well as informing me how much space the next file required) – nice.

In Closing:

Nice product, the download and initial setup could use some work, but once past those barriers, I could see the product being quite useful – ‘specially if they take on my suggestion from last year regarding some kind of autorun function- though that may be considered a security issue by a nubmer fo operating systems and/or user policies…

Well done guys, I’m looking forward to the final release of this iteration.

Update: 30/03/2006

I’ve screwed up, the original post gives the credit for MyPodder to Topaz Partners who are in reality their PR firm, not the guys who came up with MyPodder / Podcast Ready – so my apologies there, I guess I’ve proven that it’s true what they say about what happens when you ass-u-me! Anyway, for the sake of clarity, accuracy and of course search engines, I’ve edited the original post.