I’m about to break the iTunes/Nano podcatching loop I’ve been using because iTunes for Windows does a crappy job of handling Windows XP’s Fast User Switching. Melissa and I leave ourselves logged in to our shared computer, which is also my main music-management computer, and we switch between our login sessions to get things done. iTunes hates this, spewing out errors like “another user is using iTunes; please ask them to exit” even when that’s not the case. There’s also the problem of the iTunesHelper app not sensing that the Nano’s been plugged in. Programming iTunes to support only a single instance per computer and continually running into these limitations seems intentional to me.

Just about the only things that set iTunes apart from Foobar2000 for me are Smart Playlists and the interactive search features. Foobar is superior in every other way. iTunes has an appropriate name; it’s a song-listener’s player. Foobar is a music-listener’s player. With the 0.9 version, I think FB2K’s autoplaylist functionality will get close to Smart Playlists, and I feel an enterprising plugin might come along to make searching a bit more glossy. I’m planning to hunker down and customize some nice columns UI views for FB2K and check out its iPod plugin. I already use FB2K as my transcoder, tagger, and listener; it can certainly handle file management as well. And I still feel like iTunes/iPod won’t ever support gapless playback or threshold-based crossfading.

A substitute for my current podcatching loop will probably be going back to Doppler and perhaps loading up the Rockbox firmware that was recently released for the Nano. I could put a script in place to do a sync between my Doppler store and the Nano. The Rockbox firmware isn’t as glamorous as the Apple firmware, but from everything I’ve seen and read, development is going quickly and it really opens up the device’s capabilities. There are other pieces of software out there that support synching with the iPod’s native firmware that I might check out as well. I do like the iPod UI. I don’t use the song-rating feature of iTunes+iPod, so I wouldn’t miss that.

Did I mention that iTunes 6.0.2 crashes every time I try to “Export Song List” on my subscribed podcasts? Good thing I’m keeping my master subscription list in Bloglines.