Friday, February 14, 2014

Cast Away Update Works Around iTunes 11 Bugs

Wooden Brain Concepts today released an update to Cast Away, a podcast manager for iTunes.

Cast Away allows you to remove podcasts according to criteria that are much more fine-grained than possible in iTunes. Cast Away can prevent podcasts from expiring in iTunes, update smart playlists, and archive selected podcasts. It also includes an auto-player that can play selected podcasts as they arrive and then return to the previously playing music, if any.

The update fixes more issues related to iTunes 11.x. iTunes 11.1 introduced bugs that have been partially fixed by Apple with iTunes 11.1.4.

For those curious, we're actually dealing with a rather odd situation. Cast Away uses Apple Events to ask iTunes for a list of podcast episodes for each subscribed podcast. Before iTunes 11, we could tell which episodes had been downloaded and which have not by whether they were "file tracks" or "URL tracks". With ITunes 11, the list of URL tracks grew very large. It turns out that iTunes was including "cloud" URL tracks that had already been deleted by the user. This has been partially fixed by Apple but not completely. As a result, Cast Away was trying to process a lot of "phantom" tracks, which was causing errors and significant delays.

With this version, Cast Away still has to handle lists of tracks that include these phantoms. The difference now is Cast Away recognizes them and ignores them right away without excessive processing, thus eliminating the errors seen by the user and speeding up the checking.

Unfortunately, due to that and related bugs, the feature to remove undownloaded ("cloud") podcasts remains disabled in this version.

Please see the version history for details.

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