How can I sync podcasts between my Android phone and my computer?

After searching for a long time for an app or software that would do this and failing, the best I could come up with was a $4 workaround. It works, but not perfectly. Let me explain.

THE COSTLY BIT

Worth every penny!

The app I purchased to do this with is Pocket Casts. At the time of this writing, it is priced at $4.

Example image from Play Store

Pocket Casts allows you to sync between all of your devices running Android or iOS. It does not, however, sync with a web-based or desktop client. We can fix this.

THE WORKAROUND

In order to create my own “desktop version” of this app, I had to download an Android emulator. I went with BlueStacks. (Just scroll to the bottom, and choose your operating system to begin the download. Don’t worry, it’s free.)
After installing BlueStacks, you will have to sign in to your Google account as if this were a new tablet or phone. (See below if you have 2-step verification enabled.) 

If you have already purchased Pocket Casts (or another podcast manager with syncing capabilities), you will be able to install it to this “device” for free. After signing in to the app, you will now be able to sync the podcasts between your computer and your phone/tablet.

Ooooh. Pretty.Pocket Casts running in BlueStacks

2-STEP VERIFICATION

If you are the security-minded type, you may have already gone through the process of enabling 2-step verification for your Google account. This may cause an issue signing in with BlueStacks. I was able to easily get around this issue by generating an application-specific password to sign in with.

COMPLICATIONS

There are some small issues with this emulation method:

  • This seems to work better if you download the podcasts instead of streaming it.
  • There seems to be a 2GB space limit within BlueStacks.
  • The playback may occasionally lag a bit if your computer is under heavy strain.
  • The app inside the emulator has crashed on me, but it’s a very short process to resume playing if it does happen, and it’s not a common occurrence. I found that if you have a crashing problem when hitting the play button, you should navigate to another play button for the same podcast. I’m not sure why this works. 
  • There is a red menu button found at the upper right corner that will not respond to clicking, but you can open the same menu by clicking on the black and white menu button on the lower left of the program.

CONCLUSION

I’ve been happily using this setup for a few days. I’m actually listening to my podcasts as I’m writing this. 

I didn’t want to rush to the conclusion that I’d finally solved this problem, but I can now confidently say this solution will work until some enterprising individual or company provides an app that has this feature built-in.

Until then, problem solved.

 

Edit: I’ve received some questions about Pocket Casts and its features. I found a good article on that here: http://android.appstorm.net/how-to/how-to-set-up-pocket-casts-for-a-better-podcast-experience/

How do I generate a QR Code that creates an email or text message?

I was recently in a situation where I needed to pre-populate an email (or a text message) with information and make it easy to send. My particular issue involved checking out mobile inventory with long serial numbers that happened to be hidden behind the battery of each unit.

Assuming that this would be the best option, I set off to create a QR code that the end user would be able to scan and then simply hit the “send” button on their email client.

EMAIL MESSAGE

This version of the QR code syntax seems to work slightly better with the iPhone, but it does work well with Android as well.

The QR code below was generated by http://qrcode.littleidiot.be.

QRcodelittleidiot

I chose the “Regular Text” option and pasted this into the text box:

MATMSG:TO:mike@nowsolved.com;SUB:Your Website;BODY:It’s awesome!;;

Feel free to scan this one out and hit send. I don’t mind the extra emails.

nowsolvedQRemail

All you have to do is replace the bold parts with your information and click the “create” button.

TEXT MESSAGE

To make it even easier, I chose to go with a text message instead of an email. Since text messaging does not require a data connection, this method actually worked better for my situation.

Again, I chose the “Regular Text” option at http://qrcode.littleidiot.be and pasted this into the text box:

smsto:898932:@funnyfacts

nowsolvedQRtext

This will pre-populate a text message for you. If you hit send, you will receive what txtweb.com considers a “funny fact.” Don’t worry. It’s not a subscription, and it is free (unless you have to pay a standard rate for text messages).

The syntax for your SMS message will be “smsto:NUMBER:MESSAGE”

You can also use “mmsto:NUMBER:MESSAGE” for mms messages.

 

 

Just think what this could do for the graffiti on the walls of your local gas station bathroom. “For a good time, scan this.”