This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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June 2009
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iPhone 3.0 Bug with Shuffled Podcasts

After happily popping around my iPhone exploring the update, I finally settled down to listen to stuff on the iPod. Soon thereafter I discovered a bug which makes my normal way of listening to my iPod completely impossible. It has to do with what happens when you have a playlist that includes Podcasts and you try to listen on shuffle mode. Most simply put, it does not work any more. At least for me. There is of course always the chance that only I am screwed up. Previous to the 3.0 upgrade it worked perfectly.

In case anybody with Apple contacts happens to come across this post, here are the details:

  • I have a 16Gb iPhone 3G (White)
  • Normally podcasts have the “Skip when shuffling” option selected, so they are not included in shuffling. You have to explicitly set this option if you want Podcasts to be able to shuffle. In my case, I have an Applescript that runs hourly that unchecks this option on all podcasts, so all podcasts are always eligible to be included when I shuffle.
  • I have a smart playlist set up to include all my unplayed podcasts. I have this playlist set to sync with the iPhone.
  • I have another smart playlist which includes the 10% of my music library that I have listened to least often. My full library is too large to fit on my iPhone, so I sync this smart playlist, but not the source (a playlist that includes almost all the music in my library).
  • I have a third smart playlist that combines the two playlists above. This is the playlist I use most often, and exclusively on shuffle mode.
  • If I go to the Unplayed Podcasts playlist and hit shuffle, if an audio podcast is chosen, it will play for about 1 to 3 seconds, and then most of the time it will stop playing the podcast that was chosen at random and it will immediately start playing whatever podcast is actually first in the playlist and will play that normally. Occasionally, the iPod application will simply crash instead and I’ll find myself looking at the main iPhone screen. The exception is if the podcast that comes up is a video podcast, in which case things seem to work normally until the podcast ends and the next thing shuffled in is audio.
  • In my combined playlist that includes both music and podcasts, it will shuffle normally until it gets to an audio podcast, at which time the iPod application will invariably crash after I hear the first 1 to 3 seconds of the podcast. Once again, video podcasts will work normally.

I had at first been very excited to see the new podcast controls in the iPod app that allow you to skip back 30 seconds, email the podcast to a friend and play the podcast at double speed. I can see those being useful. (I’m not sure how I got to see them properly, if I picked a podcast manually it was an accident, I don’t usually do that, I use shuffle mode almost exclusively, there is a chance I suppose that the first podcast I got actually worked properly, but I have not been able to reproduce that since on shuffle mode, only when I pick a podcast by hand.)

I note without knowing if it is relevant, that the screen real estate used by the speed selector for podcasts is in the same location as the shuffle control usually is, but in video podcasts (which work fine) the speed option is not available, so the shuffle control still shows. So the cases where there is a problem are only those where the speed control is available and taking up the normal shuffle real estate.

I know I may be an oddball here with a non-standard usecase, but I subscribe to a lot of podcasts, and I like to be able to just go into my unplayed podcasts, put it on shuffle and hear what comes up. Intermixing with music may be odder still, but I like the variety of the occasional talk interspersed with music.

Anyway, the iPod app actually outright crashes on a reproducible basis here in one scenario, and in the other produces oddball behavior other than what the user requested, so even if my use case isn’t super common, I hope there will be a fix in an update before too long.

In the meantime, if I want to listen to a podcast, I have to pick it by hand rather than just saying “pick me something!” and mixing in podcasts with my normal music mix won’t work either. Since these are my two normal ways of using my iPod, I’m basically stuck with either not using the iPod function on my iPhone at all… perhaps going back to using an iPod shuffle for this… or completely changing the way in which I use it…

I don’t want to have to choose if I am listening to music or podcasts, or choose which podcast I want to listen to first second or third. I want to shuffle damn it.

Please fix this.

PS: Also, if anyone has handy a link to an official way of submitting a bug report for the iPhone rather than just posting it on my blog, please forward it on, and I will submit this that way too.

(Note: Made minor edits at 18:10 UTC.)

Thirteen More Weeks of SemiProductivity

Back in March I last posted stats on my “things I want to do at home”. They are here.

Last time around in 14 weeks I managed:

  • 20 hours of catching up on putting things in Quicken and/or paying bills (43%)
  • 10 hours of reading (22%)
  • 7 hours of random things from my projects list (15%)
  • 5 hours of genealogy stuff (11%)
  • 4 hours of catching up on old email (9%)

That averaged to 3.3 hours per week.

This time I only have 13 weeks on my chart, covering 8 Mar 2009 to 6 Jun 2009 because I wrote bigger on my whiteboard or something, but I ended up with:

  • 10 hours of catching up on putting things in Quicken and/or paying bills (59%)
  • 4 hours of catching up on old email (24%)
  • 2 hours of random things from my projects list (12%)
  • 1 hour of genealogy stuff (6%)

That is only 17 hours total in 13 weeks. This is only 1.3 hours per week. Much much worse that the previous 14 weeks. Bad Sam. Bad Sam.

I must do better in the next batch of weeks.

So far I am not. In the 11 days since the next batch started, so far I’ve done 1 hour of this stuff.

Oops.

Of course, I’ve been doing some of the email stuff outside of this system. Maybe I need to stop that.