• Windows Phone Podcast apps

    It seems such a simple thing to want:

    1. A podcast app
    2. One that doesn’t crash (too much)
    3. Can list and play episodes in most recent order
    4. Can download in the background

    You’d think?

    Way back in the day, Windows Phone 7 to be specific, podcasts were supported natively in the operating system. Except if you didn’t live in the USA. For some never explained reason, they never enabled this feature for non-US phones. Bizarre.

    If I recall correctly, the original Windows Phone 8 was no different, but then eventually Microsoft released the Podcast feature as a separate app – “podcasts”.


    It is a very basic app. Unfortunately I think that some of the developers of alternate podcast apps seemed to have given up when the official app came out – even if their own efforts had more features.


    Carboncast app screenshotwp_ss_20150725_0007

    One of the first apps I tried on WP8 was Carboncast. The layout and design still impress me, but sadly it proved quite unreliable (and no background downloads). Unfortunately the developer apparently lost interest too – the last update was December 2013.


    This was my next app of choice for a fair while. It aims to be more like the original built in app (as it was released before that app was made available to the rest of the world).

    Podcaster app screenshotwp_ss_20150725_0005

    Background downloading was added in later versions, though I had occasional trouble with corrupted downloads.

    Podcast+ Pro

    Podcast+ Pro app screenshot

    I then moved to this app – Podcast+ Pro. Pretty good, but no background downloading.

    Podcast Lounge

    Podcast Lounge app screenshotwp_ss_20150725_0010

    I came across this one earlier this year (I think someone recommended it on Twitter) and had been using it until recently. It is quite good, but alas it didn’t do background downloads. A recent release supposedly added this feature, but the implementation appears to be buggy as it never worked for me.

    A few issues also with strange ordering of episodes and frustration with episodes previously ‘marked as played’ reappearing as unplayed. Feedback emails were sent, but no responses.


    Castcenter app screenshotwp_ss_20150725_0008

    And so, another search of the store to see if there was anything else worth trying and I came across “Castcenter”. A free app, but you need to pay (in-app purchase) to unlock managing more than three podcasts. You can create custom playlists, and it does background downloads.

    So far so good.

    If you’re into podcasts and have a Windows Phone, let me know what app are you using?

  • Moving VHDs for a virtual machine in Hyper-V on Windows 8.1

    I’ve been using virtual machines to test out some software, but those VHD files take up a bit of disk space – so much that my PC’s solitary SSD drive was running out of room. Thankfully the Lenovo hard disk drive bracket kit arrived today so I can install an extra drive to supplement the SSD.

    Now to move the VHD files to the new drive.

    The instructions described here, whilst for Windows Server are essentially the same for a Windows desktop OS. The only difference is that the Move Wizard doesn’t offer the Move the virtual machine option. eg.

    Hyper-V Move Wizard dialog on Windows 8.1

    Of course, you can do this with PowerShell too (and I did):

    Move-VMStorage -VMName W12R2-1 -DestinationStoragePath d:\VHDs\W12R2-1

    And you even get a nice progress bar!

    PowerShell console showing Move-VMStorage with progress

    You also get the migration progress in the status field in Hyper-V Manager.

    Hyper-V Manager with VM showing Moving Storage status

    A few minutes later, the VHD was successfully moved to my new hard disk, and because this happened live, the VM kept running the whole time. Impressive!

  • PowerShell and (not) parsing command lines

    A short reminder note for myself.

    To tell PowerShell to not parse the remainder of a line, use --%. This is invaluable when calling out to external commands and you don’t want to escape every special character with a backtick (`).

    So instead of this:

    icacls X:\VMS /grant Dom\HVAdmin:`(CI`)`(OI`)F

    You can write this:

    icacls X:\VMS –% /grant Dom\HVAdmin:(CI)(OI)F

    See the Stop Parsing section in Online Help for more info.