What I’m listening to

After I got my HTC Hero and purchased DoggCatcher, I’ve now got this entirely seemless podcast experience as my phone grabs the newest stuff any time I’m on wireless.  It caused me to do some trimming and tuning on what is being pulled down as I work towards having approximately the same number of hours of podcasts a week as I’ve got car rides and yard work.  For those interested, here is what I’m listening to now.

  • Drunk and Retired.  I honestly can’t even remember how I originally found this podcast, it must have been through something ruby related at one point.  This is Michael Cote’s original podcast with Charles.  They talk about random tech topics, zombie topics, now some fatherhood topics, but it’s all around interesting, and lots of fun to listen to.  Charles has some really great insights on development, and I’ve loved listening to his various journeys through ruby, java, and javascript.  I enjoyed D&R enough that I went back to the beginning and listened to the entire backlog.  I even really enjoyed the 4 hour scotch tasting episode… and yes, your read that right.
  • IT Management Podcast.  Once Cote got hired by Redmonk, he started producing more podcasts covering a range of subjects Redmonk was doing analysis on.  I tried most of them, but IT Management Podcast is the only one that stuck.  John Willis has a real wealth of knowledge in the industry, and very recently got hired by Canonical on cloud strategy.  The podcast is honestly more cloud than “good old fashion IT management”, as the boys would say, but that suits me just fine.  If you are looking for a good source on what’s new in cloud computing, this is one of the best out there.
  • AstronomyCast.  Once I got my telescope this was suggested to me by a friend of mine.  AstronomyCast is incredible, just flat out incredible.  Each of the 162 30 minute episodes to date takes on a specific topic in Astronomy and gives it a really wonderful treatment.  The back and forth being Pamela and Frasier is really fun to listen to, and the do a great job of making the information very accessible.  Honestly, anyone above the age of 12 could probably get into this quite easily.  After listening to the entire AstronomyCast back catalog I feel like my knowledge of Astronomy is now at quite a reasonable level.  This podcast also has the added benefit of being very wife friendly.  It is one of the few science or technology podcasts that Susan is eager to listen to when we are doing a long drive in the car.
  • Slacker Astronomy.  Before I found AstronomyCast I found Slacker Astronomy.  The slackers publish far less often then AstronomyCast, and it is a more free form model.  To get into Slacker Astronomy you need to know a few more things about physics and astronomy out of the gate, as there is less explanation there.  I appreciate that though, and am always psyched when I find out there has been another slacker podcast posted.
  • 365 Days of Astronomy.  In case you didn’t realize, this is the International Year of Astronomy.  This podcast was an interesting experiment to get volunteers from all over the world to put together 10 minute podcasts and have a new one every day.  They aren’t all great, but there are a lot of great ones in there.  And the breadth of volunteers and subjects is quite nice.  Even if you aren’t into astronomy, check out this one epsiode on Roswell that really debunks a lot of the story and timelines associated with that myth.
  • Geologic Podcast.  The theme song in front of the 365 days of Astronomy was done by George Hrab, and eventually I decided to check out his podcast.  It’s not about geology.  George is a musician, a skeptic, and all around great story teller.  He also has a sense of production values for this podcast that rival some of the greatest radio being done today.  The Geologic podcast airs once a week, and the moment I get my new episode I jump from whatever I’m listening to and flip over to it.  The last time Nick and Heather were around I put in on in the car, and it happened to be the episode that starts with worst gig ever.  I’m not really sure how we managed to stay on the road as we were laughing so hard during that story.
  • Radio Lab.  Radio Lab is This American Life meets science reporting.  It tells some really compelling stories that all have some element of science in them along the way.  I’m also really happy that it gives Robert Krulwich an outlet again, as I’ve always really appreciated him as a popular story teller.  I find him far more compelling that Brian Green or Neil deGrasse Tyson as a popular voice for science.  I do realize that he doesn’t have the same credentials, but his ability to do outreach is far greater.  Radio Lab is a WNYC production that is done somewhere irregularly, but great none the less.
  • This American Life.  It is probably hands down the best radio being produced today.  A bad This American Life episode is still quite good.  A good one… will make you weep, laugh out loud, and totally rethink some opinion you’ve held, all in the same hour.  I’m really happy that the folks at This American Life let the podcast out there, because many other shows of that quality on NPR have not.
  • Planet Money.  Spawned out of the great This American Life reporting on the financial crisis last year, Planet Money was an attempt to bring a 3 times a week podcast out there that tried to explain economics for mere mortals.  Planet Money was strong out of the gate, but had some issues finding a voice after 4 months of the financial crisis.  Fortunately, they eventually did, and really broadened their approaches to exploring economics as applied to many fields.  The many episodes they’ve done over the last 4 months on the economics of health care in the US have been incredible, and really informative, and often surprising when you start to understand the complexities in the current health care system.  It also gives you a much more nuanced understanding to what a “free market” means, because every market is just actors inside of constraints.  Economics is really about understanding how those constraints (be they incentives, regulations, taboos) change how the actors interact.  The Pirates Have Timesheets episode gives you a really nice example of that.
  • Wait wait don’t tell me.  This is the NPR news quiz show.  It’s sort of daily show light and airs weekly.  I get it as a podcast mostly because 11am on Saturday is a dubious time for me to be near a radio.  If we’re working around the house, I typically listen to it live, if not, it’s podcasted for me to enjoy it later.
  • The Media Project.  While On the Media is probably the more popular national show on this subject, I really like the take our local public radio station does with this.  Sometimes I’ll catch the Sunday rebroadcast live, if not, it’s on the player and I listen to it that way.
  • This Week in Science.  This was a suggestion in DoggCatcher, and the first episode I listened to seemed quite good.  I think this one is sticking around.

Things I used to listen to but gave up on for one reason or another

  • LUG Radio.  This show was great, but it ended.  Damn you!
  • Linux Outlaws.  While it’s still probably the best Linux show out there, it’s far too dry for me.  I know a lot of folks that like this more than LUG Radio because it’s PG language instead of a hard R, but I don’t mind vulgarity at a certain level in my podcasts.
  • Security Now.  I really felt like the information density was too low in this.  While I do like Leo… the other guy got on my nerves from time to time.  I know lots of folks that like this podcast, I’m just not one of them.  Perhaps if you were more of a Microsoft user it would be more relevant.
  • Floss Weekly.  I was pretty frustrated by the treatment of Justin on the OpenSim episode.  I just don’t think it’s right to put someone into apology mode on an interview show about the platform their project is written in, especially a show that gives smalltalk a pass.
  • TWiT.  John Dvorak is always wrong.  I’m now convinced that is an axiom of the universe.
  • Google Developer Podcast.  This had similar issues to a lot of the Google developer bits on youtube.  Informative but bland and too much reading scripts.
  • The Gaurdian’s Tech Weekly Podcast.  This had exactly the opposite issue, it was too over produced.  You could hear them watching time codes the entire episodes.  One of the beauties of podcast medium is that if it’s 28 minutes or 34 minutes, it doesn’t matter.  You don’t need to rush something, or cut it off, to fit into a standard time block.  They seem to have missed this memo.
  • Some Ruby Podcast.  Honestly, I don’t even remember which one it was, but it had the same issue as Linux Outlaws.  High on dry facts, low on interesting stories or banter.  You really need to be a multi level black belt at podcasting before you are allowed near a sound effects board, and these guys broke that rule.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some along the way, and I’m sure my listen list will be a bit different in a year, it always is.  I’ll actually be interested in revisiting this post in a year and see what’s changed.  Perhaps this might help you discover some new things to listen to.  If so, or if you have other suggestions for your favorite podcasts, or this inspires your own write up of what you are listening to, I’d love to get a comment from you.

P.S.  Hope all you Americans out there have a happy Turkey Day tomorrow.  Turkey and Cranberries are about the best things in the world as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

Updated (11/28/2009) to be more specific on my criticism of FLOSS weekly, as Randal correctly called me out for having just a vague slap down.

4 thoughts on “What I’m listening to”

    1. @randal I was pretty frustrated with your treatment of Justin on the OpenSim episode. After that standard platform question and getting the answer from Justin about OpenSim being done in C# the flow went like this.

      Leo: Well, it’s not that bad, is it?
      Randal: Yes. Yes it is.

      Justin starts feeling like he has to make apologies. You can then hear the hesitation on all future answers after that point. I know it may have seemed minor at the time, but it definitely seemed like bad form.


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