Spot the irony

Update: It turns out that the way I’ve been creating the smart playlist, with “Genre = Podcast”, which worked for years now, suddenly stopped working. Changing it to “Media Kind is Podcast” and making it sync under the Podcast tab worked.

Thanks to the latest iPod and iTunes updates from Apple, the iPod, the very device that “Podcasts” are named after, has become useless for listing to podcasts the way I want to listen to them.

The way I like to listen to podcasts is in the car, while driving, a time when I probably shouldn’t be poking around the screen of my iPod instead of watching the road. But Apple, in its infinite wisdom, made podcasts different from music or audiobooks in that you can’t (by default) click “Play” on them and listen to them one after the other. Instead, you have to pick one, hit play, and when it’s done, find another one, hit play, and lather, rinse and repeat. Until a few days ago, I had a very nice work-around: I made a Smart Playlist that contained “Genre = Podcast + Playcount = 0”. It worked great.

But now there is a new update for the iPod and iTunes, and they’ve broken it. The playlist still shows, and I can still play it in iTunes and it plays all the way through and the ones you listen to remove themselves from the playlist. Beautiful. But even though that playlist is still checked to sync to the iPod, the playlist doesn’t show up anywhere on the iPod. So how the fuck am I supposed to listen to an hour and forty five minutes of podcasts, some of which are only 3 or 4 minutes long, without spending time poking around on my screen instead of watching where I’m driving?

Maybe it’s time to find a podcast app for my Palm Pre.

More erging

On Sunday I went over to Stephen’s to erg. Last time I was there the battery on the computer died and Stephen warned me not to rely on it, so I brought my gps to act as a timer and heart rate monitor. I also brought my video camera to bore everybody on YouTube again, but unfortunately the battery died after just a minute or two.

Without the erg computer, I was relying on other cues to know how well I was doing – I listened to the sound of the turbine and tried to notice what muscles were tiring. What I wanted to hear from the turbine was a ‘VOOgah’ sound that meant I was getting some pause and glide. If I wasn’t paying attention I would get a much steadier ‘vrrrmmvrrrmmm’ sound that meant I wasn’t pausing. (later on I tried the computer for a while and discovered that when that happened, my stroke rate went up from the mid 60s to the low 70s, but with no increase in speed.). I also tried to remember to get good twist and rotation – the more I concentrate on it now the sooner it will become natural.

I paddled steady for 15 mins, took a sip of water, paddled another steady 15 mins, then I tried the erg computer. With the computer to help me see if my stroke rate was increasing, I paddled for nine minutes steady, increased my speed for one minute without increasing my stroke rate, grabbed a quick sip of water and repeated two more times. The last set I finished off with two minutes of high speed (still at 65 strokes per minute) and some slow cool down. Over an hour of paddling all told.

Technique workout

[youtube D3_qAcF8n4Q]This is why I don’t mind paying Dan for some coaching, even when I don’t have a lot of spare cash. I can watch videos of myself alone until I’m blue in the face, but it takes a coach to point out the things I was missing. In this video I’m getting a *lot* more torso rotation that I do when I erg alone. And if there’s one thing that last year taught me, it’s that doing good technique on the erg translates to having good technique be natural on the water. If there’s one thing I heard over and over again from my teammates in 2009, it was how good my technique was and how naturally it seemed to come to me. Stephen referred to me as “a technique savant”. But it wasn’t natural, it was a result of hours spent at Dan’s house erging and listening to his advice, as well as listening to the advice of other experienced paddlers.

Today I was doing 800 metre (half mile) intervals, working on technique while maintaining a fast pace. I did 6 intervals, all around 4:11-4:13. This video is from the last one, where I was my tiredest.

Hosting again

My colo box, which I bought used on 10 January 2007, hung last night and needed to be rebooted. That’s the second time in 3 months, after nearly two years of flawless service. I wonder if it’s time to replace the hardware?

And once I open the discussion about whether to replace the hardware, I open another discussion in my mind: is it time to go back to Linode or some other VPS provider? I left Linode years ago because they didn’t have enough RAM and hard disk for what I needed, but over the years what they provide for the same amount of money has been growing and growing. I currently pay $100 a month for my colo space – I subdivided the box into three Xen domUs, and of the two guys who rent the other domUs, one of them pays me pretty regularly and the other guy sometimes remembers to pay but usually forgets. I don’t think either of them are making very extensive use. So essentially I’m paying $70 a month for 1Gb of RAM and 100Gb of HD for apps, and 370Gb for a music collection. Well, the music collection isn’t all the important, and for $60 a month at Linode I could get 1Gb of RAM and 50Gb of hard disk. Evidently adding another 50Gb of disk would add another $25/month to that, which isn’t optimal. Anyway, I’ve got to consider my options here before spending another $500 on a used colo box.