I’m not sure this is a 11.3 thing or an In Our Time podcast (rss) bug - but episodes after 6/27/2014 aren’t downloading to iTunes (“The Sun” and “Mrs Dalloway” so far). I suspect an 11.3 bug related to renewal of a subscription following auto-unsubscribe; the bug was probably triggered because I was traveling for two weeks.
After having walked through the problem I suspect I could have restored functionality by toggling this setting the newish “Subscribed Off/On” setting. I suspect there’s a usability bug related to the older way of Subscribing/Unsubscribing and the newer Subscribed Off/On setting:
I didn’t do that though. Instead, as described below, I reduced my exposure to Apple’s bugs by creating an external archive of the IOT Podcasts that I want to keep around.
First I showed that 11.2.2 could subscribe and re-download the new episodes, it’s easy to find these in the iTunes store:
Fortunately I also track the same IOT feed in Feedbin: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iot/rss.xml. So I was able to download the missing episodes and manually add them to iTunes. Of course these didn’t show up when I synced to my iPhone — I’d have been disappointed if they had. Apple’s routine screw-ups are rarely so easy to work around. That’s because when one adds a Podcast mp3 file by drag and drop iTunes assigns a media kind of Music:
That worked, they now show up in my “unplayed” Playlist on both iTunes and Podcast.app. Changing Media Kind to Podcast also moves the physical file by the way.
Not surprisingly if I use Podcasts.app on my iPhone and inspect the Feed for the IOT podcast the episodes are available there for cloud download. Which suggests it is an iTunes problem.
On the iTunes side I tried resubscribing — the Subscribe button shows as available. It didn’t work though — and neither can I unsubscribe. So my iOT podcast is stuck in limbo.
I could try waiting for a new fix, but I’ve grown accustomed to Apple’s genial incompetence — it’s a kind of longstanding congenial senility . It makes me feel better about the corporate setting I work in. It’s because of this pattern that I expect the first year of Photos.app (Aperture/iPhoto replacement) to be a drug-addled disaster. So instead of waiting I moved all the IOT files I could find into my file system - just as I had to do with the iBooks debacle. I did this by looking for IOT episodes in the iTunes-managed Finder folders, and also dragging and dropping from smart playlists. I made a few extra copies just to be on the safe side.
In the process of marshaling my archives I found 39 episodes I once owned and had listened to, but that Apple had kindly turned into iCloud only references somewhere along the way. Oh, Apple you are just soooo bad . There’s no UI method to force download of an arbitrary set of podcasts, so I clicked the odd (UX nightmare) hidden options box 39 times (I’m sure there’s an AppleScript for this but it didn’t take long to do by hand):
When all was done my external archive had 411 Podcasts over 8GB of storage. I’m reasonably confident this is the complete set, less all that Podcast/iTunes has deleted. Next I deleted my current and older IOT podcasts (BBC changed podcast attributes a few years ago) — interestingly this was a 2 step delete process, I had to delete to remove the Podcast subscription, then delete to remove the files. Then I had to track down residual files using Smart Playlist and delete those. When I was all done, however, iTunes still had dangling and invalid references to 125 IOT podcasts. I used Doug’s Super Remove Dead Tracks to clean those up. (I’m glad Doug has found a way to charge for these super scripts.)
After all of the above iTunes was cleaned up, so I then synced my iPhone. I found I was still subscribed to IOT (various flavors actually) in Podcasts.app, but I expected that. So I removed those from the iPhones and synced again. Everything was gone.
And… I still couldn’t subscribe to IOT from the Apple Store. So I manually entered the Feed (http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iot/rss.xml) the old way:
That gave me a working podcast subscription in iTunes. I turned download episodes off (since I had my archives) and delete episodes off.
When I dragged in my 411 archive files iTunes recreated the old Podcast entries (presumably based on metadata I can’t easily edit), so I made sure to turn off the deadly “Delete Played Episodes” feature and leave “Subscribed” turned off.
When all was done, and various duplicates removed via Finder (iTunes would not delete them) and dead tracks recleared, I had 411 files in an iTunes smart playlist restricted to only local files:
Somehow (iCloud strikes), during all of this process, iTunes retained “Last Played” dates for many of the IOT podcasts I had listened to (though Play Count was not retained). So I created another Playlist:
There’s no way to test for “Last Played” is NULL, but it turns out that NULL is > 99 months as far as iTunes is concerned.
From this list I drag and drop selected files to my IOT Next Up Playlist, which I sync to my iPhone. I also created a “Partially Played” playlist that’s populated by a manually run Doug’s AppleScript. That’s where I keep note of podcasts I’ve started.
So how does it all turn out in Podcasts.app on my iPhone?
I’m so glad you asked. Because the newest episode wouldn’t sync there. It had a “media kind” of Music. There’s no iTunes list column for Media Kind, so I created another Smart Playlist:
Out of my 411 episodes, 16 appeared in this Playlist. Since they all shared a Media Kind of music iTunes Get Info let me change them all to Podcast.
After that I did another iPhone sync and ….
… The newest episode still wouldn’t sync! My guess is that Podcasts.app is trying to match it with something on the IOT server, and there’s a bug there that prevents display. So I deleted my local copy from iTunes, and downloaded fresh copies from the current Podcast subscription on iTunes. Then I did another sync and this time…
… They all #$#@$@ showed up. So that’s yet another bug - and for now another workaround. Tell me again how Photos is gonna be wonderful.
Just as I do with ePubs and iBooks, I’ll maintain a podcast archive outside of iTunes — while both iTunes and Apple continue their long journey into complete dementia.
PS. My iPhone is again accumulating “Other” space — an old CloudAssets cache bug I thought was fixed but has since recurred on several of our devices.
- fn -
 Apple is incompetent, Google is Evil, and Microsoft is dead. Long live the 21st century!
 I think this happened because Apple added the “delete played episode” feature to all of my Podcasts, including those that no longer had a subscription option. I knew to fix it on current IOT subscriptions. That wasn’t good.