Andrew Burke

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All About the Flow III: How I Handle Music and Podcasts
Posted on: 2006-08-17

This is part three of a series of three posts on how I try to keep my life a little less out of control by going with the flow with various software tools. Part One is here. Part Two is here.

Audio: I have a lot of music in my collection, and it's growing steadily. I also subscribe to a number of podcasts. My iPod is only a 4 gig model, so I can't put my entire library on it - and I don't want to spend all of my life listening to Podcasts just to stay ahead of the volume coming in.

To keep these from overwhelming me, I have Smart Playlists that group music by time: 'New Stuff' is anything that has been added to the library in the last three months, sorting by the date added. This gives me a chance to listen to new things a few times so I can get used to them. For nostalgia, I have 'Last Year', '2 Years Ago', and '3 Years Ago', which show what was added for the same three month period in the past. I also set up 'Random Favorites' (100 or so tracks that are 3-star or better) and 'Random' (50 or so tracks that aren't in 'Random Favorites') and these are what I send to my iPod.

For podcasts, I'm pretty strict about which ones I allow - I don't spend a lot of time commuting, so I don't have a lot of 'null time,' and I can't do any serious programming while listening to voices, so a podcast had better be pretty valuable - or at least short - to stay in my collection. When Highlights from the Penn Jillette show went from 15-20 minutes to an hour, I unsubscribed - a little bit of Penn Jillette is fun, a whole hour isn't so much fun, and I don't have the down-time to listen to it. The podcasts I do have are also in Smart Playlists - 'Podcasts - Timely' for news and topical items like CBC's Best of As It Happens and This Week in Tech; 'Podcasts - Music' for CBC Radio 3 and the like, which I may listen to if I'm doing light work, and 'Podcasts - Untimely' for everything else, like the TED or Pop!Tech lecture series, or the Onion Radio News.

I listen to the timely podcasts first, so I feel like I'm on top of things - and then if I get through all of those, I move on to the un-timely podcasts, which are sorted chronologically.

Part of accepting flow is to be firm about which flow you're going to accept. It's good to know where your limits are - what you can take without getting overloaded - and to stay within those limits, but perhaps close to the edge of them.

Hope this has been useful - if anyone out there finds this helpful or has related thoughts, drop me a line. I built this blogging setup myself over a few hours as an experiment in PHP, so I haven't put in a comments system - send me an email at the address at the top of the page and if there are cool ones, I'll post them.

Previous: All About The Flow II: How I Handle RSS Next: Baked Astronomers
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