Update (15 Mar 2007): So, long rant, but I may have found my problem - I had set podcasts in iTunes to sync only "unplayed episodes" to the iPod, which also seems to imply that they never sync / record data about having been played. Or ratings from the iPod, for that matter. I just changed that setting to "all episodes", and podcasts seem to be showing up in my Recently Played smart playlist again. Hopefully this gets me back to where I want to be.
Update (19 Mar 2007): Hmm, nope. Recently Played playlist seems to be updating now, but the iScrobbler-to-last.fm bit seems to be ignoring my iPod-played podcasts. Bah.
Is it just me, or has iTunes been gradually losing podcast tuner functionality with respect to the iPod?
I'm seriously thinking of ditching it for Juice or something else. Recently, the podcasts were completely segregated from the rest of the audio files, stuck into a much harder-to-manage interface. Related to that, my main gripe at the moment is that I just can't seem to get my podcast listening behavior posted to last.fm. Maybe I'm weird, but I like to capture and publish that attention data from myself.
I listen to a lot of podcasts on the commute to and from work, which is part walking and part bus. In fact, I probably listened to about a dozen episodes of various serials yesterday — but none of them show up in my iPod's Recently Played smart playlist. So, subsequently, none made it to last.fm.
On the (increasingly rare) occasions I happened to listen to music on my iPod this week, those tracks showed up just fine. And while at my desk, in iTunes itself, I don't seem to have these issues. I seem to remember this working better in the past year or so. For what it's worth, my podcasts are auto-synced with iTunes, but the rest of my library is manually managed — because I don't want 20GB of music on my iPod duplicated on my laptop.
At one point, I remember that the "Last Played" criteria changed from just starting a podcast to completely playing it through. This made clean up of old podcasts nicer, such that partially-played episodes didn't get clobbered when I still intended to finish them. But lately, I've stopped podcasts before they finish, because many have lengthy themes at the end or runs of promos I've already heard during the day. So, there go the "Last Played" and "Play Count" fields.
But, I just tried manually fast-forwarding a few podcast episodes to the end on the iPod. I tried playing the last few seconds in an attempt to force the play count to trip. It seemed to work on the iPod itself - but when I reconnected to iTunes, no dice. The "Recently Played" playlist shows nothing new, and the episode itself reflects no play counts in iTunes. I'm either very confused, or things are getting more broken.
So, I thought, maybe I'll just rate the podcasts about which I want to publish my listening behavior. Kind of like giving a "digg". Seems hackish and not as effortless as simply capturing my behavior - but, nope, I can't rate podcasts on the iPod. There goes that idea, and another feature missing.
Ugh. So yeah, this is an semi-inarticulate rant about a problem whose issues and solution I don't quite yet have a handle on. It's just frustrating that I don't seem to be able to easily track my own podcast listening behavior with iTunes and the iPod the way I thought I used to be able to do.