Surfbits (SB) – CastCount is a new application, can you tell us what it does.
MyAppleStuff (MAS) – At the moment CastCount is a great little tool that will sit in your dock and menu and if configured this way will show you the total number of ‘casts and the number unplayed in the menu, whilst the dock will show you how many of your four favorite podcasts are unplayed.
(SB) – CastCount is neat idea, how did you come up with it?
(MAS) – I am glad you like it. A number of things combined to make me think of it. First, I was getting very frustrated having to look in iTunes several times a day just to see if any new ‘casts had been downloaded. Second I started to use DockStar which I love and had reviewed for The macCompanion . Finally I got introduced to Tom when I reviewed the excellent TuneX, so I had the means to get the application developed.
SB – So you didn’t develop the application yourself.
MAS – Absolutely not! I have next to no development skills, and am completely in awe of what these guys can do. I am more than happy reviewing what they produce, although I have really enjoyed been involved in the process with CastCount
SB – Will you be updating CastCount in the Near Future?
MAS – I have the next version of CastCount pretty much ready, and there are a number of additional things that I would like to do with it, not least speed it up, but the complexity of the algorithms required may be prohibitive. Basically Apple is very “protective” of iTunes so it is very hard to get in under the surface to develop stuff.
SB – You launched it through the MacAppADay initiative. Why is that
MAS – Primarily because I know the guys behind MAAD pretty well, and I wanted to so something with them. I have developed a MAAD version of the application that is totally free, but non upgradeable. I think that this is reasonable as up to 5000 people can get the application for free and use it for life. At the same time I have launched the same version but in an upgradeable version so that people that miss out on the free version, or want to ensure that they get an upgradeable version can do so for $5. This version and price will run thru January 2007, and then in February 2007 I will release the next version. This will have some additional features, and carry free upgrades for life. It will cost $12.
SB – So the MADD version is non upgradeable
MAS – Exactly! I make no apologies for this, despite some of the negative comments that certain people have made about MAAD. For a start no one is making anybody download the application(s). MAAD are trying to give exposure to developers in the hope that in the long run they will generate more sales of their product(s). Mac users are getting visibility of a number of applications that they can use now, and if they really like them they can pay for future versions, or products from the developers. Developers need end users and end users need developers – no one has the “high ground” and the vast majority of the end users that I have seen commenting are either very positive or constructive with their criticism.
SB – So you weren’t put off launching through MAAD
MAS – Not at all, although I know a number of developers who did pull out towards the end because of the mindless negativity of a minority! People seem to be so intent in picking fault, getting their voice heard and trying to ruin initiatives for other people. Sure MAAD had a few issues and I have no doubt that if they did it again they would do it differently, but the point is they tried. They created something new that had the potential for all parties to win and they should be applauded for that. People need to grow up in my opinion, get a life and learn to focus on the real issues in the world! I have no doubts that some people wont like the product and rather than just delete it and get on with their life, will want to have a rant or two. I will happily respond to them if they do this constructively and politely – rudeness will just be ignored! I hope that most people will like the application and that some may even like it enough to buy the upgradeable version. Either way, I have enjoyed developing it with Tom, and more importantly am finding it very useful for my own needs! Maybe it will end up as the most expensive application I have ever bought for my Mac, but it is something that I wanted to do, and pleased that I have done, and am happy to offer to other Mac users to see if they enjoy it.
SB – Any last comments about CastCount you’d like to make?
MAS – Just to stress that for certain people CastCount will run slowly. The simple answer to this problem is your Music Library. Due to the way iTunes stores its Music Library, and consequently all information about your Podcasts the files can end massively big. If you are using a music library upwards of 5000 seconds you may begin to experience occasional hangs as CastCount reindexes your music library. This can be avoided to a certain extent by increasing the interval of how often CastCount checks your music library for changes. My own music library consists of over 12,000 items and takes up 49GB of space. CastCount works fine, although when I first set up the preferences I get the spinning beach-ball whilst it reindexes. It is a little frustrating, but please be patient. I hope to have it fixed at some stage, but as I said before there is no guarantee we will be able to do that. Finally you need to make sure that you have iTunes open so that it can access the ‘cast information.