Monday, January 10, 2011

Tips for managing your OTR using iTunes: Part 1

These tips assume you have an iPod and you use iTunes and at least somewhat you what you doing.

Today's tip: Having an "OTR Smart" iPod.

Imagine the following scenario: It's Monday morning.  You are going to drive to work.  On the way to work, you want to listen to the 21st Precinct episode, "540407 039 The Collar."

You have never heard this episode before, so you drive along, la-ti-da, enjoying the episode.

Imagine now, it's Tuesday and you need to drive to work.  "That episode of the 21st Precinct was great yesterday", you say to yourself, "I think I will listen to another episode of the 21st Precinct today."

So, you get in the car and turn on the old iPod and you look at your playlist.  You avoid "540407 039 The Collar" because you heard that yesterday.  Today, you choose "540414 040 The Brother."

Three weeks from now, you get into your car and want to listen to the 21st Precinct on the way to work again.

"Now let's see...", you squint your eyes and say to yourself, "Which episode did I hear last time I listened to 21st Precinct?"

Okay back to today.  Here's where I can help you.  Let me explain to you how I have my iPod/iTunes set up so that you have playlists for every radio series on your iPod and when you finish listening to a show, it's not on the playlist anymore (but still on your iPod and still easy to be found.)

The first thing we'll do is make "Smart Playlists."  Under your iPod symbol, left click with your mouse on "Music."

Music should be highlighted. Once it is, go to the upper left-hand corner of your screen and choose "File" with your mouse. Now choose "New Smart Playlist..."

There are a bazillion different options for setting up your playlists. You do as you wish but what I have done is make each series it's own GENRE. For instance 21st Precinct's genre is listed as "21st precinct" - not "spoken word" or "otr" or "old time radio".

Then, make sure all of your files for 21st Precinct are unrated. If they are rated, go and unrate them in iTunes.

Then follow the graphic (above) and set it exactly the way I have done. This will play the 21st Precinct in order by name.

Every time you listen to a show, pick up your iPod - and as the show is winding down, RATE the program by giving it 5 stars. When you do this, the Smart Playlist recognizes that and will no longer have that song in that playlist. Instead, it will remain in it's "home" under "Artists" - "21st Precinct."

As you can see, I have an iPod full of artists and each artist has it's own genre and each genre has it's own Smart Playlist:

Here's a really, really big tip that I have never found anywhere and it will solve a lot of problems:

Do you know how sometimes you want your programs played in a particular order (let's say: "by date" for example) and the stupid iPod decides it will instead avoid doing what you have told it to do and instead plays them "by name." ARRRGH! You scream! (As I do.) STUPID IPOD. So you go and set it again. It does it again. ARRRGH!

Here's how to fix that! (Yes, you can really solve that problem and it's quite easy!):

Set it up again in the order you want. (I know you're tired of doing it, but this will be the last time you will have to do it!) Once you have it the way you want it, go over to the left where your playlist is and right click (mouse) on the highlighted playlist you are trying to make obey you:

Choose "Copy to Play Order." From now on, your iPod will do what you have commanded it to do, IN THAT PLAYLIST. You will have to do this to every playlist but you shouldn't have anymore trouble with the iPod trying to take over and fulfill it's own evil desires.


Coming soon: another cool tip.

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