podcasts and technical issues

I travel almost daily to north Georgia and the roundtrip is about 2 hours and tho NPR often has topics of interest, what I really enjoy is listening to the podcasts I have downloaded.  In the early days I burned the podcasts onto cd’s which I played in the truck’s cd player, then I acquired a Sansa Clip mp3 player and played the podcasts back over a portable battery powered speaker positioned close to my ear.

One of my tech savvy sons gave me a Go Groove x2  – a bluetooth device which plugs into the cigarette lighter of my 10 year old truck and responds to bluetooth communications and wirelessly sends them to the radio on a preselected radio band, and the sound plays through the truck’s audio system.

I have a model 4 iPhone and Apple has a great podcast app which enables me to subscribe to various shows and automatically downloads details of recent podcasts so I can choose and download the full version.  I can then classify the podcasts as “On-The-Go” which means they will play in the order selected.  When I start up the truck the iPhone syncs with Groove which syncs with the radio and I can play, pause and advance my way through the recorded podcasts.  What could be better?

And life was fine until my 8GB iPhone ran out of storage space.  I did all the usual tricks – cleared out the emails, cleared out the photos, deleted unnecessary apps, deleted the error data by syncing to the desktop.  And for a while I staggered on.  But whenever new Apple updates were released and downloaded on the iPhone more of my available storage was sucked up and net result, I have v.little storage for new podcasts ( postscript – for my solution, which freed up 4gb of space, see update at end of blog).

So why not buy one of the more recent models which have way more storage.  Well I like the Apple brand and its current model 6 is considerably bigger.  Even with the weatherproof, shock absorbing, Oyster tough shell, my model 4 fits comfortably in my pocket, which will not be the case with the iPhone 6.

my current iPhone in weatherproof shell plus holster, both of which fit in my pocket
my current iPhone in weatherproof shell plus holster, both of which fit in my pocket

I scrounged around and found the Sansa Clip I previously used.  It has 3.6GB and can store many podcasts.  I connected it directly to the Groove device and played a podcast.  Barely audible.  Hmm I thought, maybe it would work better with bluetooth transmission to the Groove device (silly me).  I purchased a portable bluetooth transmitter for $16, connected it to the Sansa and synced with the Groove.  And played a podcast and the volume was equally poor.  Must be something stupid I am doing.  I reviewed the Sansa settings to no avail.  And then I looked on the side of the Sansa and there was volume control.  Turned up the volume and sound was great – on both the bluetooth transmitter and the direct connection.

the groove, bluetooth transmitter connected to Sansa and also powered by Groove
the Groove, bluetooth transmitter connected to Sansa and also powered by Groove
my current setup - Sansa with long lead to Groove. Sansa clipped to pocket lip
my current setup – Sansa with long lead to Groove. Sansa clipped to pocket lip when in use

But it is not the same as using an iPhone.  With an iPhone the bluetooth works both ways – the phone sends data to the Groove and the Groove can send instructions to the phone.  So when you press stop or advance to next track on the Groove the phone obeys these commands.  However the Sansa is unidirectional since the sound is sent through an output port.  So pressing the buttons on the Groove which are large and easy to find has no effect on the Sansa.  It keeps playing.  And if you want to pause or advance to another track then you have to locate the small Sansa and press the correct buttons, which is ok once you have the feel of it, though you cannot rewind but have to go to the beginning of the track if you missed something important.  An advantage of using Sansa rather than iPhone is the battery life of the iPhone is preserved since it is not in bluetooth mode and not transmitting.

Now how to get the latest podcasts.  For a while I used gPodder freeware to locate the podcasts, then I transferred them to Windows Media Player and synced WMP with the Sansa.  Some of the podcasts appear in the music section and play sequentially.  However, if the podcasts are identified as “Podcast” they are thus classified by Sansa and placed in a separate folder which is difficult to access while driving.  So the trick I have learned is to review the WMP classification of the podcast and if it says “Podcast” then edit to remove this description so it appears as “Unknown Genre” and when synced it will go to the general music folder and play sequentially.

For almost 2 months gPodder worked well for me.  And then I experienced problems.  An uninvited screen appeared to inform me that a new podcast was available for downloading, and the screen kept appearing and ignored all my changes to preferences to make it go away.  And next the downloading function ceased operating.  So I spent some time familiarizing myself with iTunes and now it works great for me and automatically populates the folder used by WMP.

So, with Sansa connected directly to Groove with a long cable and clipped to the inside of my top pocket I can reach for it with one hand and pause and play and advance the tracks without taking my eyes off the road.  Happy days have returned.

Update (October 2015)

And finally I figured how to increase capacity/storage on my Apple 4s (md439ll/a).  I had tried everything and was deleting apps just to allow the phone to function.  It didn’t make sense – what was using all the capacity?  The phone is described as having 8GB and I had just a few apps and had <50MB available.  The solution I eventually found, was quite simple.  First I backed up all my data to iTunes -my contacts were being saved in the Cloud and I changed this to iTunes.  Then I did a restore where I erased all content and settings.  Then I synced with iTunes and downloaded all the data from iTunes back to the phone.  And I miraculously had>4GB available.  I downloaded the apps I had erased and as of now there is 5.2GB available of which about 1GB has been used, so I now have 4.2GB additional capacity.  I surmise that whenever I did an IOS update the phone saved a copy of the superseded IOS and when I did the recent restore all these obsolete versions were deleted.  Just a guess.  But the phone  is now fine for my needs and yes, I will continue using Sansa for my podcasts.




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