Doesn’t everyone hate the commute to work?

Well I have found my new favorite way to pass the time:  Podcasts.

Now when I first heard about Podcasts many years ago, I though of books on tape that some business guy loaded on his 2 Gb iPod and walked around with between subway stops in the city.  Well with most cars now equipped with USB ports and most cellphones having lots of memory my misconceptions are a thing of the past.  I can now listen to pre-recorded audio shows/programs while I drive to work on my radio or while I sit on a bus/train commute using my cell phone.

I drive a Mini Cooper S Clubman with the GPS entertainment system.  For listening in my car I just download the Podcast MP3’s and save them on a USB stick that I connect to the built-in jack.  As long as I don’t change the order of the songs on the USB stick it will automatically resume playing the Podcast where I turned off the car last.

My wife drives a Jeep Liberty with the Cassette/CD radio that has no USB input.  In order to get podcasts required some trickery.  First of was some sort of input.  Back when we had working iPods I purchased an aftermarket iPod dock that allowed me to connect in place of a satellite radio add-on.  Currently we have a Pioneer GPS that connects to the built-in speakers and allows USB or SD as an MP3 source.  If I had to do it again I would purchase a “A2DP to FM” adapter which allows almost all cellphones to use Bluetooth to send music to a radio station which the factory radio can pickup.

With the GPS in the Jeep Liberty it would restart the Podcasts from the beginning every time the vehicle was started.  This wouldn’t be a big deal if the Podcasts were the 2-5 minute length of a typical song but to fast forward 50 minutes into a Podcast can take a long time.  This is also a safety issue if you have to press or hold fast forward on the GPS for 10 minutes while driving (if that’s even legal).  So the hero app of this blog is a program called MP3DirectCut which lets you split an MP3 file into manageable chunks (5 minutes is my preference).

Most websites with Podcasts have a link to the direct MP3 (usually hover over the “listen now” link).  You can right-click on this link and save it to your USB drive.  This is how I started to listen to podcasts and seemed to be the easiest.  Since then I have started to use Microsoft Zune to automatically download the Podcasts so I don’t have to check on each individual website.  I am not going to cover using a phone (either iPhone or otherwise) as they have unique options to download podcasts directly or even play live though the internet while driving.  If you have a device with internet access through, you should defiantly do some research (here is a head start: BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows Phone 7).

Here are the Podcasts I listen to regularly…
Engadget Classic
Engadget Mobile
Engadget HD
Entertainment 2.0
Missing Remote
The Digital Lifestyle
The Custom Integrator Show
The Digital Lifestyle Mobile
Pocket Lint

Nick Dorak

Windows Mobile Apps

I still use Windows Mobile 6.5 on my phone.  I have found that Windows Mobile was the best option at the last time my contract renewed.  I had eliminated iPhone due to the lack of keyboard, and Android at the time didn’t have any Microsoft Exchange synchronization.  To keep up with of the iPhone/Android options I have found all the apps I need but they required a little more than just a trip to the apps store…

Microsoft MyPhone
This is the must have first installed app for all Windows Mobile devices.  The program backs up your data to your Live account and provides GPS tracking to find a lost or stolen phone.  It is available through the Windows Market Place app.

Home Screen Customizer
I use the built-in WM6 “Titanium” style home screen as it is visually appealing and everything else I have tried always causes issues.  This being said, the Home Screen Customizer allows me to add, remove and customize the order of the options on the screen.

Titanium Weather
How is any cool gadget complete without the basic weather app.  This one goes right in to the “Titanium” home screen I have and displays the weather for my area including pictures.  What else could I want?

Favorite People
Another add-on for my “Titanium” home screen.  This one allows me to add a select few contacts with pictures so that I can dial them from the home screen without having to search through contacts.  Other themes make use of the contacts tagged here as well.

Pocket Twit
Well I just started to get in to “Tweeting” so I may have to post about this more as I go.  By for now I mainly consume Tweets and this seems to do a good job at that.  Plus it gets a point for integrating in the “Titanium” home screen.

There isn’t any browser flash support in Windows Mobile (sounds familiar iPhone/iPad users?).  In order to be able to play YouTube videos on the go there is a need for this local application.  I believe it was written by YouTube at some point in time but had become abandoned.  I can’t really find who made this or if it’s legit or anything as I would like to reference it.  Anyway, it works well for me.

Well, if you’re a Facebook junkie this is likely more up your alley than mine, but for the occasional Facebook use I do this seemed like an easier way to get there than a web browser.  It is available through the Windows Market Place app.

The notifications available within Windows Mobile is limited to “all e-mails”.  This application allows customizing notifications based on subject, sender or time of day.

This is one of those apps that you never need until you wish you had it already installed.  Shazam will use the microphone on the phone to listen to music and then figure out the title and artist of the song.  This is awesome for hearing a song on the radio and having it in a list to download when I get home.  It has become harder to find uses since the banning of cell phones while driving.

I put my phone through a lot of work and rebooting is a common occurrence.  For some reason I haven’t found a shutdown or reboot button in Windows Mobile.  This app fills that gap and is “skin-able” to match any installed themes.

Google Mobile Maps
Everyone needs Google Mobile Maps at some point.  Just get it installed and try it out.  Great always up to date GPS utility and searching.

For the geeks (I have them all)…
MobileVT – Think of it as Telnet for WM
WiFiFoFum – A wireless network signal strength meter
Srego CE Toolpack – Provides a CMD shell for WM
Token2Shell – Another Telnet/SSH shell
VxUtil – Ping, DNS Lookup, SubNet calculator and more

Most of my findings have been found through the XDA Developers site if you would like to read more or find something for your specific needs…

Nick Dorak