BVLog Bryan Voss’ mental synchronization point


Manually adding podcast episodes to iTunes

I listen to podcasts regularly. It's a nice use of commute time. iTunes downloads episodes automatically and they transfer to my iPod Touch when I sync it. The process is mostly effortless.

iTunes also has a nice feature that will suspend downloading new episodes of a podcast if I haven't listened to the episodes I currently have on my iPod. This helps to avoid consuming too much disk space and filling up my iPod with something I don't want. If I then decide to start listening to that podcast again, iTunes detects it on the next sync and starts downloading new episodes again.

I recently stopped listening to a daily podcast for about a month while I was listening to a bunch of old episodes from a new podcast I found. After catching up on the new podcast, I wanted to get back into the old one. I found that iTunes had stopped downloading episodes a few weeks ago and the missing episodes were no longer available in the podcast feed. Since the episodes were part of a series, I didn't want to miss them.

By deciphering the filenames on the episodes I had, I was able to find and download the missing episodes manually. I then dropped them in the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder to make them available. Within a few seconds, they showed up in iTunes, but in the Music section rather than Podcasts. I tried manually changing the media type to Podcast, but they then showed up as a separate podcast rather than merging with the existing episodes. After a fair amount of googling, I found several suggestions, but nothing seemed to solve all aspects of the problem.

I did a little tinkering and was able to come up with a reasonable solution. I'm running iTunes under Windows, so YMMV if you're on a Mac.

  1. If you don't already have it, download and install Mp3tag.
  2. In iTunes, right-click one of the problem podcast episodes and choose "Show in Windows Explorer".
  3. Still in iTunes, delete the problem episode, but choose the option to keep the file.
  4. In Explorer, move the mp3 file to the correct directory under iTunes Media\Podcasts if it's not already there.
  5. Open Mp3tag and drag both the problem episode and another working episode from Explorer to Mp3tag.
  6. Right-click the working episode and choose Extended Tags...
  7. Note the values of the following fields:
  8. Edit extended tags on the problem episode and set the values to match the working episode, changing ITUNESPODCASTDESC (episode description), ITUNESPODCASTID (episode filename/URL), and RELEASETIME appropriately. Note that ITUNESPODCASTURL is the URL for the podcast feed, not a particular episode.
  9. Save the tags in Mp3tag.
  10. In Explorer, drag the mp3 file and drop it on the iTunes window to add it. It should show up under the correct podcast.
  11. Filed under: lifehacks, windows No Comments

EverNote and the geek lunch order

I just discovered EverNote today and have been playing around with it a little. Nifty app.

Here's the note I hammered out as my wife called to ask me to stop by Wendy's on the way home for lunch. Only a geek would include conditional processing in a lunch order...

EverNote screenshot

Filed under: lifehacks No Comments

HOWTO merge multiple PDFs into one file using ghostscript

Here's a quick and dirty way to merge multiple PDF files into a single file for those like me who are too cheap to buy Adobe Acrobat. :^) Found here.

gs -q -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=mergedPDF.pdf file1.pdf file2.pdf file3.pdf

Filed under: lifehacks No Comments

Digital audio recorder

My cellphone has an audio recorder function, which I use more often than the telephone functionality. I mapped the recorder to a button on the main screen, so I can launch it easily.

I listen to a few podcasts regularly on my commute to work and back. It's extremely nice to be able to just pop open the cellphone, hit two buttons, and record a short note on a website to check out or a book to look into. Every few days, I listen to the audio clips and transcribe any relevant info on my Palm. This trickles its way into my "system" on the next hotsync. Fits well into the GTD methodology. In fact, David Allen suggests carrying a digital recorder for that purpose.

Having the recorder built into the cellphone reduces the number of gadgets hanging off my belt. I'm already carrying cellphone, Palm, and pager. This week, I'm filling in for the IS Physician Liason, so I'm also carrying a Blackberry. Every couple of months, my turn to be on call rotates around, so I spend the week with an additional pager and cellphone on me at all times. My belt starts to look like Batman's utility belt with gadgets hanging off everywhere. I have to be cautious when picking up one of my kids, for fear of knocking something off.

It's hard to believe that I'm complaining about having too many toys to carry around. Ten years ago I thought it was cool to carry a pager because it signified that I was "important." Now I'm looking for ways to consolidate because I have too many gadgets.

Filed under: lifehacks No Comments