Marc Maron’s WTF podcast is great, but his Libsyn app really sucks

I am quite a fan of Marc Maron’s podcasts.  I listen to every new one, and am slowly plowing my way through his first 400.  I recommend him.   He is a real human being who is unafraid to reveal himself, and his interviews glisten with that humanity.

Unfortunately, in order to access any podcasts older than 6 months, you need to use his “app”, and his app is the most buggy software I can ever recall using.

I downloaded the app and purchased a year’s worth of access back in August.  I corresponded with Rob Walch of Libsyn, the authors of the app, explaining all of the anomalous behavior that I was seeing.  I expected an update in a few weeks, or a month.  Here we are four months later, and no updates.  So, my problem with Libsyn is not only that they write crappy software, but that they seem to not care in the slightest that they have bugs.  I guess they are focusing on taking money from customers, rather than on delivering software that actually works.

What bugs have I found?

1) I listen to Marc with my iPhone 4S in my pocket, using ear buds.  If I need to pause the podcast, I press the button on the ear buds.  The good news is that the audio does stop.  The bad news is that if you then press the button a second time, the audio resumes from the start of the broadcast.  Even stranger, if you look at the iPhone display, the display shows the triangle that indicates that the app is not playing audio at all (even though it is).  The indicated position of replay is correct (middle of the podcast) even though the audio is from the start of the podcast. And, stranger still, if you press on that triangle, the playback jumps to the correct location.  So, they are somehow handling the signals from the ear buds differently than from the iPhone display.

2) If you try to pause the audio for a longer period of time, the playback starts from the beginning of the podcast, and there is no way to resume the podcast where you left off.  You have to poke around with the scroll bar, trying to remember where you left off.

3) if you pause even longer, the app simply unloads itself.   I have no idea why this is considered to be a feature: none of the Apple podcast apps do this.  It does not seem necessary, and it is annoying to have to re-launch the app.

4) when you start the Apple podcast app, it starts in perhaps a second.  The Libsyn app takes perhaps 10 seconds, long enough to be annoying.  I have no idea how they managed to write something that takes 10 seconds to load.  This is quite an achievement.

5) the app has the concept of “starred” items, the podcasts that you have downloaded to list to later on.  If you are playing a starred podcast and pause long enough that the app unloads, then when you restart the app, it has forgotten that you were listening to starred playback.  So, you are no longer listening to the same set of podcasts as you were originally.  If you do not have a data source, the app tries to stream, and fails.

6) the app seems to react differently depending on whether you have access to WiFi, to a mobile data stream, neither, or both.  Sometimes you have to enable Airplane mode just to get the thing to work properly.  Ridiculous.

7) sometimes when I resume, the location in the podcast is off by as much as 30 minutes!

8) if you want to report a problem with the app, you must do this via email.  Think about this.  The app acquires data from the web, and yet there is no way to just click a button and have the necessary debug information transmitted to the Libsyn web site.  Not everyone uses their iPods with email enabled.

I complained so loudly that they blocked me, so they no longer will listen to my complaints.  If you have the ear of either Marc or Libsyn, please ask them to fix their software.  The podcasts are so good!  The app is execrable.

5 Responses to “Marc Maron’s WTF podcast is great, but his Libsyn app really sucks”

  1. jonbondy Says:

    I just switched from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy Mega, and the Marc Maron app under Android behaves much better than under iOS. Not sure it is perfect. but it certainly is better.

  2. jonbondy Says:

    Well, I finally have some bugs to report in the Android version of the Maron app.

    I download all of the PodCasts, so that I can listen to them no matter where I might be. The downloaded PodCasts are called “starred” PodCasts.

    Bug 1: When I finish listening to a particular episode, rather than proceeding to the next episode (which every other app seems to do), this app stops and asks “would you like to resume where you left off?” Why stop? Why ask?!?

    Bug 2: If I say “Yes”, guess which episode starts? The one I just finished! I would have to say that this is the ONLY episode that I am unlikely to want to listen to. Again.

    You then have to back out of everything, select the next episode manually, and then start playing it manually.

    Ridiculous. Do the authors of this software use it at all? Test it even once?

    DoesLibSyn have any pride? Does Marc have no other options?

  3. Niall Says:

    More on point of the opinion of the WTF in general, I disagree. Though his interviews are great, very genuine. thorough and intelligent. I wish the podcast were just the interviews.

    I’m not totally into the regular personal prologues he gives out. I find him overly open with his puplic self deconstruction, to the point where i’m feeling like i’m participating in the maintenance of an a guys unhealthy mental life. ie. his complete baring of himself to his audience. Although most people deem this as being very honest and real, and i can see how this is true in a way. It definitely isn’t the whole picture.

    I think this preculiar subjective reign he allows himself vicariously through his audience is itself part of the problem of his situation.
    It’s an addiction, and it’s his addiction that everyone who relates to
    is somehow particpating in.
    And therefore it’s left completely unchecked.
    It feels like no one is going to take responsibility for the ‘being there’ that is necessary for the kind of feelings this kind of unprecedented intense one wayed relationship would create in the person involved.

    Sure as individuals like you and me, we completely emphatize with the guy and relate in a very human way, but as a collective we are just the inactive inane all consuming masses akin to the Greater one whose apathy and inactivity is completely destroying the planet in a myriad of ways.

    He(and We)require the collective to have a singular voice to assuage the particular kind of reassurance this relationship calls for. I just feel like his constant gushing to the audience, never garners any insight of his situatlion from an objective stand point.
    And so, as with this, we all wade deeper and deeper into the myr lulled into a false sense of experience of some ‘realness’ and herewith being entertained.

  4. James Says:

    myr? ‘Mire’ surely?

  5. amsterdamsummer Says:

    Re: Niall.

    That’s quite a complaint about something 1) that you get for free and, by your own account, is “great, very genuine, thorough and intelligent” and 2) has a fast-forward button.

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