Net News Wire: Not a great podcatcher

So I’ve been playing with the Mac-based feed reader NetNewsWire quite extensively for a few weeks now, and I’ve decided I love it as a feed reader — but unfortunately, I’ve had to ditch it as a podcatcher. I just switched to using the online service Odeo as my podcatcher.

Here’s why…

I’d really hoped I could make NNW work as a podcatcher. You see, a podcatcher is just a type of feed reader. You use it to subscribe to feeds — the only difference is that those feeds contain media file enclosures, which are audio or video podcasts. Seems silly to me to have to run two separate applications to accomplish basically the same task, which is why I gladly ditched my former podcatcher Juice (which kept crashing on me and exhibiting other annoying problems).

The trouble was, NNW kept misbehaving with podcast feeds. A few times daily it would look at one of my podcast subscriptions and randomly decide to download every episode available, not just the most recent show. That sucked up bandwidth, slowed my computer’s performance, and left a lot of extra large files on my hard drive which took up space and which had to be manually deleted.

I tried for a while to see if I could tweak NNW’s settings to avoid all these random extra downloads, to no avail. So I gave up. I transferred my podcast subscriptions to Odeo, and unsubscribed from all my podcasts in NNW. (I’ll write more about Odeo in a follow-up post. It has its pros and cons, as well.)

Now, NNW is not marketed specifically as a podcatcher. But, as I said, any decent feed reader should work fine as a podcatcher too. I love the NNW interface and search features. However, I’ve also noticed this weird misbehavior (randomly downloading old items from certain feeds) happening with ordinary feeds containing text and images. That happens rarely with ordinary feeds, and mostly with search feeds (feeds yielding continuous results from saved searches in resources like Technorati, Icerocket, or Google).

I’ll be writing the NNW team about this. I believe that if a basically good tool isn’t everything I want it to be, I should help to improve it. Again, I do think NNW is a superior feed reader for the Mac. That just doesn’t mean it’s perfect — yet.

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