Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

So, my Third-generation iPod (the very first with a dock connector!) finally died on me. It had been living in my car, hooked up to a older aftermarket stereo system via a dock connector cable, and served mostly to play podcasts and music in my car, controlled through the head unit (a Panasonic CQ-C700U). Its battery long dead (it had around 10 seconds of screen-on once the dock connector was disconnected, it was only a matter of time, and eventually, the hard drive itself died, leaving my iPod cooked for good.

Luckily, a friend had just switched cell carriers, and offered me a now EOLed, small capacity iPhone 3G (without a cellular service plan) to fill the void in my vehicle. Unfortunately, given that this is Apple Hardware which Apple firmly believes should be in a landfill and replaced with something shinier, it wasn’t easy. So, I’m writing this down somewhere with the hope that somebody will have an easier time with this than I did.

Not all docking cables are alike…

Unfortunately, although my Panasonic stereo unit happily charged my old iPod (which only charged by Firewire), it did not charge the iPhone at all, and hooking the iPhone up resulted in a “This accessory cannot charge this iPhone”. The workaround for this was a little adapter from Scosche (called the Scosche passPORT Charging Adapter) which I got from Amazon for $18. Once that was plugged onto the docking cable from the car stereo, and the iPhone was plugged into it, the iPhone charged happily and my music was freely accessible.

The Podcast Problem

However, Apple changed something in how the new iPhone, iPod Touch and iPod Classics handle Podcasts. Before, Podcasts were saved on the unit as part of the actual music library, so if you had a smart playlist which, say, automatically grouped all episodes of NPR’s Car Talk, then you could just select the “Car Talk” playlist and it would start playing the episodes.

In the newer units, though, Podcasts are kept separate, and stereos and accessories which are not blessed by Apple to see the Podcast directory cannot see the podcasts at all. So, I could hook the new iPhone up to my computer, sync all the podcasts I wanted onto it, but when I plugged the iPhone in and found the smart playlist for Car Talk (for instance), it was empty.

The internet was full of awkward suggestions for beating this (“Convert the podcast files to AAC, copy them onto the desktop, delete the old podcast files, and drag them back into your library”), but eventually, I stumbled upon a lone comment by Pedro Romero with a simple and graceful solution at the very bottom of this blog post:

I haven’t checked with iTunes 8 or former, but at least on iTunes 9 you can select the full podcast → Get Info → Options → Media Kind and change it to music… so it all goes to the library… viceversa from library to Podcast…

… and that did it! Once I did that, all of my podcasts were instantly placed back into my music library (so they’ll show up when shuffling, the only downside), and the smart playlists I’d created for each of my podcasts was once again filled with episode upon episode of podcastic goodness. Unfortunately, I’ve had to re-do the set Media Kind step again whenever I want to update the files with the latest episodes, but that’s a small price to pay for having it work.

So, one $18 adapter and many, many hours of googling to solve the podcast problem later, I now have a new iPhone working with an old iPod-equipped stereo. It’s a niche case, but if this post can save ANYBODY some time in fighting these same issues, then damnit, it was worth it.

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