New iPod advantages

I recently visited Fresno, California, to speak with FMUG, the Fresno Macintosh Users Group. The subject was, as it often is, iPods.

During the question and answer period I was posed two queries, each of which received the same answer: Buy a new iPod. Specifically, those questions were:

I keep trying to turn my 2G nano off by holding down the Play/Pause button, but it won’t shut off. How can I do this?

I issued the Buy a New iPod answer to this one because this is a failing in several recent models of display-bearing iPods—both nanos and full-sized iPods. More often than I care to see this happen, you press and hold on the bottom of the click wheel and nothing happens. The iPod refuses to shut off. Apple has addressed this problem with the new 3G iPod nano and the iPod classic. Now when you press and hold Play/Pause, the iPod shuts off almost immediately.

Another member of the group posed this one:

I like to listen to several episodes of a particular podcast when I’m driving. But when one episode finishes playing, the iPod returns to the iPod’s Music screen. I have to take my eyes off the road to return to that podcast’s page so I can select the next one. Isn’t there a better way?

There is, and are, I replied.

The first is to buy a new iPod. The 3G nano and iPod classic plays iPod episodes in succession. Just select an episode from the list, press Play, and when the episode concludes, the next one in the list will play. An added bonus is that you can skip to the next episode by pressing the Forward button.

However, there are a couple of ways you can mimic this behavior on your current iPod. The first is to create a playlist in iTunes and place your podcasts in this playlist. Sync the playlist to the iPod and the tracks in it (which happen to be podcasts) will behave just like other tracks in a playlist. When one episode finishes playing, the next will begin (and you can forward to the next episode by pressing the Forward button).

Or you could create a playlist like this on your iPod. Just navigate to the podcast you want to listen to, choose the first episode and press and hold the Center button until the episode title flashes. This indicates that the episode has been added to the iPod’s On-The-Go playlist. Repeat for other episodes you want to add to the playlist. When you’re finished, navigate to the On-The-Go playlist (it will be the last entry on the Playlists screen), choose the episode you want to listen to, and press Play. Again, when that episode completes, the next in line will play.

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