First, Apple now looks at the “play count” of a track rather than if it has been “played.” As I mentioned previously, if you listen to one second of a track, iTunes considers it “played,” but it will not increment the “play count” until you play the track to the end. While not perfect, this makes things much easier. If I pause listening to podcast episode in the middle, I know it won’t be removed on my next sync because the play count will still be zero. When I’ve played it to the end, the play count will be set to one and will it be removed on the next sync. This can be a bit annoying for podcasts that put significant fluff at the end. (TWiT, I’m looking at you, although the last episode ended with a much shorter version of the ending theme. I can only hope that continues.) In that case you can scroll to within a few seconds of the end and let it play out.
I continue to be frustrated by what the iPod does at the end of an audio podcast episode. It bounces you all the way back to the main menu. To play the next episode you have to drill all the way down to where you were. It would be tolerable if it would just go back to the list of episodes, like it already does for video podcasts. Why don’t they behave the same, Apple?!?
Finally, they still haven’t fixed the sorting issues I mentioned, but I’ve gotten so used to it, I almost don’t care anymore.