Smart Playlists in iTunes and Dr. Kinlaw

My last post contained what's becoming an increasingly popular link among the #andcanitbe crowd on Twitter. That link was to Dr. Dennis Kinlaw's sermon page and in the spirit of sharing wonderful online goodies, I thought I'd share a trick I picked up reading Merlin Man's smart playlist tutorial for iTunes.

This may not be that important for many of you but if you're a regular iTunes user and especially if you're using iTunes Match for your music library you'll find this advice helpful. I'm using iTunes Match and one of the great things about Match and the sermon archive I linked in the first paragraph is that the bit rate on the downloaded files is higher than 96kbps which means they are eligible for Match. That's great news. What's not great news is that if you're like me, you probably won't be running or driving your vehicle enough a span of time that will allow you to listen to a whole message (they are close to an hour a piece). No problem, right? You'll just pause the message and listen to it later. The problem with that is that on iOS devices the music player doesn't always remember where you paused it. That's a frustrating problem that I've not found a solution for. What I have done is to try and mitigate that frustration at least a little.

Many times I'd scan through the list of messages and pick one but if I paused in the middle of it and came back to the music player later I'd even forget which message I'd started to listen to or which messages I'd already listened to. What to do? Thanks to smart playlists in iTunes I've figured out a listening pattern that I can live with. What I did was to create a smart playlist in iTunes I called "Unplayed Kinlaw". In it I set a rule that the artist must be "Dr. Dennis Kinlaw". That put every message into this particular playlist. But, I wanted to eliminate messages that I had already listened to so I set another rule "Plays is 0". Starting at the top of that playlist I'll listen to the next message in the queue. When I've completed it, the message magically disappears from the playlist.

What happens here is that even if the music player forgets where I paused a message, I can scrub forward until I roughly find the place where I paused it and since I'm listening in order I know it's always the message at the top of the playlist.

It may not be pretty or even all that helpful, but it's cut down on my frustration in trying to listen to these wonderful messages from one of my spiritual heroes.