When is an iPod not an iPod? When it uses iTunes Agent.

I recently became the proud owner of an 8GB memory duo pro card for my mobile phone. This doesn’t mean much to most people but when I tell them I carry my CD collection around on a device about twice the size of my thumbnail – or, the same size as my thumbnails – they’re impressed. I can even chuck a few films on there for good measure using the superb Xilisoft DVD to 3GP converter.

But this post isn’t about Xilisoft: it’s about iTunes Agent.

Part of the freedom the immense capacity of 8GB affords me is to download PR podcasts and listen to them on the tube. It’s amazing what you can learn when you’re not listening. I’m a subscriber of three podcasts currently: Hobson and Holtz’s For Immediate Release; the Inside PR podcast; and the Topaz Partners PRobecast. You can see them in the ‘Podcasts plug’ feed to the right of this page, and until recently I would just download each episode as it appeared.

But I knew deep down this wasn’t ‘the way’. I knew that I should be able to download them automatically using iTunes. So last weekend I finally got around to doing it. I found the three podcasts very easily in the iTunes directory, but then realised, since my iPod broke (for the third time, which is why I decided to go ‘solid state’), I had no way of automatically syncing my phone to download the podcasts in turn.

Enter iTunes agent. It’s a lovely little utility that fools iTunes into thinking your device is an iPod. If you run Win2K you’ll need to download the .NET framework to use it, but that’s no real problem. Then it really is a simple case of plugging in the device – the Sony Ericsson phone profile is one of the default devices but it’s easy to create your own – and off you go. You can sync the entire iTunes folder, or just specific ones. Given that it takes quite some time to shift 8GB of MP3s (actually, M4As cos they sound better and take less filesize), I eschewed – yes, eschewed – the full sync option, and now just sync to my podcast folder.

So there you go. iTunes grabs the podcasts as and when, and iTunes agent ports it across to my phone. It even removes old files and keeps everything ship-shape and Bristol-fashion. And I can now zone out to the dulcet tones of Hobson, Holtz, Capra, Zand, Van Hoosear, Fallis and Jones. Has a ring to it: perhaps they should set up a PR company together.

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