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Robert's Podcatcher and Random MP3 Loader

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Questions? Comments? Drop me an e-mail: rschoolf at gmail dot com

Robert's Podcatcher is a program designed to automatically download Podcast audio/video files to your computer. It is designed as an alternative to iTunes or Juice Receiver. The program also can load your player with songs randomly selected from your MP3 collection, filling it to capacity. It's neat to see what songs will be selected for the day.

If you use an iPod, and are fed up with iTunes, you may download Podcasts to your hard drive, and drag 'em over to an iTunes Playlist for syncing to your iPod.

The podcatcher is designed with both a user interface, and a background service. The background service is a better steward of memory, and is less intrusive to you as a user. It provides automatic timed podcatching. The user interface is intuitive, useful, and straight-to-the-point. It registers no DLL's, does not require .NET, and can be installed to, and run from, your MP3 player.

Given a new Podcast feed URL, the podcatcher will download that RSS file, download the first (topmost) Podcast, and mark all the rest as "seen". You can add new subscriptions by pressing CTRL-A.

On the next podcatching run, any and all new Podcasts mentioned in a given RSS file will be downloaded (not just the top one). I think iTunes misses this feature. This means you can use "channel"-type RSS feeds (like from Podshow or Blubrry), and get the episodes you expect. One caveat: If you add shows to your channel (via the channel's website), you will want to delete the feed in the "Catch More Episodes" dialog, and add it back before the next podcatching run. This way, only the top episode will be downloaded, rather then all the "new" old episodes. The podcatcher has not "seen" these. You can always go into the "Catch More Episodes" dialog, and get any back (or new) episodes of interest.

Have you seen those orange little "RSS" icons on Podcast web pages? ( ) You can subscribe to a feed from Firefox, by clicking on one. To do so, browse to (by clicking on the link) a Podcast RSS feed using Firefox. Click on the 'Subscribe to this feed using' dropdown menu, and select 'Choose Application'. Browse to the directory where you installed Robert's Podcatcher, and select the 'Robert's_Podcatcher.exe' file. Your feed will then be added to your OPML subscription file every time you click on an orange feed icon.

Another real nice feature is that Robert's Podcatcher can randomly select songs from your MP3 collection on your hard drive, and copy them into a special folder on your player, (I called mine "\Random"). These randomly selected files can be used along with your favorite songs. You have your favorites that you listen to, but now and then you would like a "shuffle", music presented to you in a random way. The Random MP3 Loader manages these songs, but does not touch your other song files, as long as you keep your favorite song, and the randon songs in separate directories on your player.

I use this feature with my iPod Nano (I have a 2 gig). Every now and then I wipe it clean of music, and use the Random MP3 Loader to stage a certain number of megabytes of songs in which the Loader has selected randomly to another directory on my computer. Then I drag that directory to iTunes with Windows Explorer, and sync it up. Since you can tell the Loader how many megabytes to copy, you can leave room for your Podcasts.

So, after loading your Podcasts, the Random MP3 Loader feature gives you fresh music to listen to.



Robert's Podcatcher is released as Freeware. You are granted a license to use this software, at no cost. Enjoy!

Download Roberts Podcatcher - 0.1 mb
Download Roberts Podcatcher - 0.1 mb


Please let me know if you hear (or read) a review of this program!

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Robert's Podcatcher Copyright (C) 2007 by Robert Schoolfield Consulting. Robert's MP3 Loader Copyright (C) 2007 by Robert Schoolfield Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

See my other freeware applications and utilities:

exec32 Scripting Language

Tech Notes: Run robert's_podcatcher_background_service.exe as a Windows Service

Many thanks to CelShader for this suggestion.

To run robert's_podcatcher_background_service.exe as a service, install "PodcatcherService" with "instsrv.exe" and "srvany.exe" found in the Windows 2003 server resource Kit, using these instructions:


You can also google the keyword "instsrv" to find a lot of resources that discuss this technique.

To create a Windows NT user-defined service, perform the following steps:

1. Create a directory for the "instsrv.exe" and "srvany.exe" programs, and copy the files to that directory. At a MS-DOS command prompt(running CMD.EXE), type the following command:

c:\podcatcher\INSTSRV.EXE PodcatcherService c:\podcatcher\SRVANY.EXE

...where "c:\podcatcher\" is the drive and directory of the "instsrv.exe" and "srvany.exe" programs. "PodcatcherService" is the name of the service you are creating.

NOTE: To verify that the service was created correctly, check the registry to verify that the ImagePath value under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\PodcatcherService is set to point to SRVANY.EXE. If this is not set correctly, the service will stop shortly after it starts and return an Event ID 7000 "The service name failed to start."

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For information about how to edit the registry, view the "Changing Keys And Values" online Help topic or the "Add and Delete Information in the Registry" and "Edit Registry Data" online Help topics in Registry Editor.

NOTE: You should back up the registry before you edit it.

2. Run Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe)and locate the following subkey:


3. From the Edit menu, click Add Key. Type the following and click OK:

Key Name: Parameters
Class : leave blank
4. Select the Parameters key.

5. From the Edit menu, click Add Value. Type the following and click OK:

Value Name: Application
Data Type : REG_SZ
String : c:\podcatcher\robert's_podcatcher_background_service.exe (use the correct path - adjust for where your process resides)

...where "c:\podcatcher\robert's_podcatcher_background_service.exe" is the drive and full path to the application executable including the extension.

6. Close Registry Editor.

By default, a newly created service it configured to run Automatically when the system is restarted. Edit the entry in "Services", and set the proper logon credentials, and start the service.