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Scott Kuhl Warning: I may have no idea what I am talking about!

Well it looks like Jeff is busy writing a book, so I'll have to take this on myself.  Last weekend I went to EB Games to check out the Zune in person.  The manager talked me into one I talked myself into one knowing that if I hated it, I could return it.  My biggest concern was Podcasts, which the Zune software has no direct support for out of the box.  Here is the solution.

First you need some sort of podcast receiving software.  I started to try Doppler since it had limited support with Windows Media Player and had the nice ability to force the Genre tag to Podcast.  But Zune has its own software and no matter how hard I tried, Doppler would not change the Genre tags on the Podcasts I downloaded.  The other problem was the tags in general.  A lot of the podcasts were marked with unknown artist, unknown album, etc.  The second client I tried was Juice, with pretty much the same results.  I finally settled on, ironically, iTunes.  It had the best tag support by far.  So this is what you need to do.

  1. Download iTunes and subscribe to your podcasts.  I'm not going into any detail here, iTunes podcasts support is super easy.
  2. I set my podcast options in iTunes to check for new episodes manually, when new episodes are available download all, and keep last 5 episodes.  The last option is key unless you want to manually mark podcasts as played and clean them up in iTunes.
  3. The iTunes folder by default is found in the My Music directory which is monitored by the Zune software for new files so there is no need to change folder monitoring unless you have already monkeyed with it.  If so, monkey it back or setup monitoring for your iTunes music folder wherever it may be.
  4. Create an auto playlist called Podcasts in the Zune software to find all Music with a File Name that contains your iTunes podcast directory path.  Probably something like C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music\Podcasts.  Also set the auto playlist to show only music with a Play Count Overall total of 0.  This list now shows all new podcasts that you have not listed to.  Note that the count does not increment until you listen to the end of the file.
  5. Create an auto playlist called Podcasts - Video in the Zune software to find all video based on the same rules as step 4.
  6. When you download new podcasts they will show up automatically in one of the two lists.  If you are in a hurry press F3 to force scan the monitored folders after iTunes finishes downloading.
  7. Optional: Some minor audio cleanup time.  I recommend that you double check the title of downloaded files and make them more readable as necessary.  For example, Buzz Out Load starts with Buzz Out Loud, so that one is fine, but zeFrank is just a date so I put zeFrank as the start of every title.
  8. Optional: Some minor video cleanup time.  I also recommend that you change the title of every video podcast to start with a symbol like : or .  This way they are all grouped together in your video listings on the Zune.  This is why I had you create two playlists, to make this simple.  These steps may sound painful, but it only takes me about 1 minute to make the changes.
  9. Setup both Podcast playlists to sync with the Zune.
  10. Listen / watch on the Zune.  All the audio podcasts will be in a nice playlist, video will be grouped together under all video if you took my advice in step 8.
  11. Re-sync twice.  The first sync updates the play count, the second removes the items.
  12. Your audio podcasts should clean up nicely once they have been played, but you need to cleanup your video podcasts manually.  This is the worst part.  Play the ones you already watch and skip to the end of the video to get it marked as played.  I use this over other possible filtering methods as a list ditch effort to remind myself what I watch by seeing a few seconds of the podcast.  Again, this process should take about 1 minute and having two separate playlists makes this easier.

So once you are setup and going you need to:

  1. Refresh your iTunes Podcasts.
  2. Update your audio and video titles in the Zune software as necessary.
  3. Marked played video as played.
  4. Sync twice.

There you go, a four step daily process.  Compared to two steps with an iPod.  Twice as much work but at least its working.

As a final note, I found some podcasting software yesterday designed to sync directly with the Zune called FeedYourZune.  Its current problems are tag issues similar to Doppler and Juice and no conversion of files to the Zune format.  But the product was just released and hopefully still improving.   Keep an eye on it.  Maybe you can get down to two steps.

Here is hoping for full Podcast support in the Zune software soon.

UPDATE 11/22/2006: Added double sync to correctly cleanup. Switched items 3 and 4 on second list.

(Leave a comment if you think I should add screen shots to this post.)

Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 3:25 PM Zune | Back to top


Comments on this post: HOWTO: Podcasting with a Zune

# Link Listing - November 28, 2006
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Common Gotcha: Don't forget to when adding providers [Via: ScottGu ] Mounting ISO Images with Vista...
Left by Christopher Steen on Nov 28, 2006 10:24 PM

# re: HOWTO: Podcasting with a Zune
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How can I drag podcast I have on my computer desktop into the Zune 3.0 software to put on my first generation Zune 30 GB It say to enter the podcast URL. How do I find out what the podcast URL is? Thanks for any info on this subject
Left by Ric Greywolf on Oct 08, 2008 12:16 PM

# re: HOWTO: Podcasting with a Zune
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The url is the RSS feed of the podcast when you want to subscribe to it. Visit the site of the podcast or search in the zune software. To put podcasts you have on you desktop you need to add the file like any other song or video.
Left by Scott Kuhl on Oct 08, 2008 12:37 PM

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