30 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (part 3)

flickr-abletoven-rss-headphonesIn part 1 and part 2 of this series I highlighted the first block of 30 podcasts I listen to very regularly. I have listened to many of these since they began (often retroactively) and very much enjoy them. There are a lot of tech shows in here with a mix of science, food, history and popular culture mixed in for good measure.

Today I bring you the final round of podcasts. I highly recommend you check out any of these great shows and subscribe to them if you're interested.

Mac OS Ken

This show is my day starter. Ken Ray brings together a concise short 10-20 minute podcast with a dose of "Apple news and news related to Apple news." Every weekday he rounds up the latest in news and information surrounding Apple.

Many shows touch on the technical side of Apple either in a little or in a big way. Few of them touch on the financial side of Apple with any regularity and even less consistency. Mac OS Ken on the other hand follows a number of prominent Apple watchers and uses that group to compare and contrast the various Wall Street views of the Cupertino company.

The show has been going 5 days a week pretty near every week since January 2006. The show is very well produced, professionally hosted and a great example of how to deliver a great podcast. I wish I could get a show like this about a great many other topics.

Mac Power Users

Hosted by Katie Floyd and David Sparks the Mac Power Users podcast is a great way to learn more about the tips and techniques that other Mac enthusiasts use to get the most out of their Macs.

The duo varies their format between topical deep-dives and "workflow" episodes which focus on how a given member of the Mac-wielding community gets the most out of his or her Mac setup. These workflow shows provide some great insight into just how varied the Mac experience can be, while at the same time demonstrating that the reason most people love their Macs is that they "just work." Occasionally the guest will be someone like Brett Terpstra who makes a habit (and a living) out of making the Mac do things Apple may never have intended.

The show is loosely affiliated with the 5by5 network and does have space on their site, but the show format is consistent with it's pre-5by5 format and doesn't have some of the other tendencies of 5by5 shows like the strange episode titles. If you want to learn about getting more out of your Mac, this is the place.

The Memory Palace

Hosted by Nate DiMeo and a member of the MaximumFun podcast network, The Memory Palace tells the stories of places and people from history, often american history, and these are almost always very interesting little factoids.

These stories delve into the stories behind the stories that you may already know. As an illustrative example, I point to the case of the bomber that crashed into the side of the Empire State Building. That episode told the story from the perspective of one of the women who worked a few floors above the impact site. She and her office-mates were trapped, scared and didn't know if they would make it home that night. One of them did and DiMeo was able to capture her story.

Though it isn't produced often, it is produced very well and it's another show I look forward to.

Mission Log

Hosts Ken Ray and John Champion are on a mission. To review every episode of Star Trek, from every series, and discuss the messages, morals and meanings therein. This is a crazy undertaking but it's a very fun podcast.

I very much enjoyed their exploration of TOS, a series which I was not very familiar with prior to the series. Being able to explore the characters behind the scenes also proved very entertaining. John Champion's companion blog series "Discovered Documents" which he posts in conjunction with most episodes of Mission Log provide a fascinating look at what goes in to making television work.

If you're a star trek fan you owe it to yourself to check this show out. Each of the very well produced episodes runs about an hour.

The Nosillacast

Hosted at podfeet.com, it's a technology geek podcast with an ever so slight Macintosh bias. This is the signature description that host Allison Sheridan provides for her show. Lots of product and app reviews that focus on "the problem to be solved "make this a go-to source for me each week, and the rotating cast of interviewees on the back-half of the show provide some very interesting deep-dives into everything from learning the Bash shell, to photography.

Allison also focuses quite regularly on accessibility in computing, usually from an Apple perspective. Her quest to constantly seek out better technology and tools to help those with vision or other physical challenges is inspiring. She is also an advocate of accessibility on the software side regularly encouraging developers to think about a wider audience for their products and getting them to make use of the tools provided to make their apps accessible.

Each very well produced episode of the Nosillacast runs about 60-75 minutes. The show is often recorded on Sundays as a live recording. Fun to check out!

Radiolab

Radiolab is a radio show produced out of WNYC in New York. It's also a podcast. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich supported by a cast of producers and journalists bring stories that explore very diverse topics and often take unexpected directions.

Unlike some similar shows like 99% Invisible or The Memory Palace, RadioLab's shows try to get you to think deeply about your preconceptions of a given topic. They will also push your comfort zone on occasion. One example of this is the exploration of how the Adoption laws in some US states can cause unintended consequences for the children involved. My opinion flip-flopped a couple times during this episode and by the end I couldn't take a side.

Professionally produced the show sounds fantastic. The episodes range from full-length episodes about an hour each down to Radiolab Shorts which are generally 15-30 minutes.

RunAs Radio

This show is decidedly outside the realm of FOSS; usually. Hosted by Richard Campbell, RunAs Radio is a podcast directed at IT pros, those who spend the majority of their time worrying about things like federated security, 5-9's uptime, and how to effectively replicate an active directory server. The show focuses primarily on the Microsoft tech stack, which I deal with at work, but goes deep into lots of very technical topics.

Campbell also co-hosts a more developer focused show called .NET Rocks with Carl Franklin. This is also geared mostly toward the Microsoft development stack, but occasionally features panel discussions and geek-out episodes where the topic could be anything from self-driving cars to alternative energy.

RunAs Radio is part of the PWOP network and shows usually run about 30 minutes.

Security Now

Hosted by Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson and a member of the TWiT network, Security Now provides a no-nonsense soup-to-nuts view of current security news interspersed with deep dives on the technologies we use every day to help protect our security and privacy.

Gibson's career as an Assembly programmer and software consultant has left him with a very deep knowledge of the low-level internals of today's modern computers. Diving back through the archives of this show will provide a great deal of knowledge about how computers work (from the registers up) and how the Internet works (from the copper up).

The content is great, the production is excellent, and the episodes typically run 90-minutes to 2 hours.

Spark

Hosted by Nora Young and produced out of the offices of the CBC in Toronto Spark looks at the world of technology and the Internet and how it impacts us little ol' humans and our societies.

There are occasionally segments which push the show in directions which might be considered politically-leaning -- many of the net-neutrality discussions come to mind -- but for the most part the focus is on the technology and how people use it. This is definitely about exploring how people and technology interact.

Produced from a Canadian perspective the weekly show runs about an hour and gives a Canadian perspective on the technological issues that affect society and culture.

StarTalk Radio

Dr. Neil DeGrasse-Tyson hosts StarTalk Radio a show dedicated to all things space (and occasionally other sciences.) This is a fun and entertaining approach to science topics and is often co-hosted by Chuck Nice or or another comic to provide a foil for Dr. Tyson.

This show is targeted at a more mainstream audience than something like Astronomy Cast. The topics explored are a bit less pop-quiz and a bit more pop-culture. This definitely makes the show more accessible to the masses and doesn't presume any knowledge whatsoever.

If you are enjoying the new Cosmos series hosted by Tyson, check out StarTalk Radio. Episodes typically run about 45 minutes.

30 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (part 2)

flickr-abletoven-rss-headphonesIn part 1 of this series I highlighted the first block of 30 podcasts I listen to very regularly. I have listened to many of these since they began (often retroactively) and very much enjoy them. There are a lot of tech shows in here with a mix of science, food, history and popular culture mixed in for good measure.

Today I bring you round 2 of the podcasts. I highly recommend you check out any of these great shows and subscribe to them if you're interested.

Get-It-Done Guy

Officially titled "Get-It-Done Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More" this show is a member of the Quick and Dirty Tips network. Host Stever Robbins touches on productivity tips with real-world applications that you can use to help you get organized, stay organized and get stuff done.

Part of what makes this show so listenable is wit, sarcasm and comedy used just frequently enough to help keep the show entertaining without devolving into nonsense. I enjoy following the exploits of Bernice, Europa and Melvin at Green Growing Things and Stever's own personal stories about pursuing musical theatre.

Shows are typically delivered weekly and range from 5-10 minutes.

Girl on Guy

Comic and actor Aisha Tyler hosts this show where she interviews people from the entertainment industry. Most of the guests are involved as actors or writers in comedy, others are a bit further afield. The interviews are usually quite personal focusing on stories from and background of the guest. Some recent guests include Ryan Stiles and John Cho.

This is, as you've probably noticed, not the kind of show I listen to most of the time. I have a ton of computers/technology/programming/self-improvement type shows in my feeds. In a lot of ways though Girl on Guy fits in to the self-improvement category. Hearing stories about how other people have faced and won (or failed) in the face of adversity can be very illuminating.

Aisha, and her production crew if she has one, do a great job of putting the shows together. The audio quality is excellent. Girl on guy episodes typically run about 90 minutes.

Going Linux

Larry Bushey and Bill Smith bring a look at Linux from the perspective of people looking to make the switch from an alternative OS. The show comes in three flavours, a topic, listener feedback and "Computer America" episodes which showcase Larry's monthly appearance on a radio program in the US where he is their Linux expert.

Larry has been doing the show for a number of years and Bill is his most recent co-host. Some of the back catalogue tended to take a rather anti-Windows rather than pro-Linux stance some of the time, but this has mostly gone away over the past year or so. If you're new to Linux I highly recommend you check this out.

Audio quality is pretty good for the most part and episodes range from about 20 minutes for the feedback shows to about 90 minutes for Computer America.

Grammar Girl

Like other shows from the Quick and Dirty Tips network, this one has a very long title: Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Each week host Mignon Fogarty brings a language tip or the solution to a common language problem.

This was the first show from the QDT network that I subscribed to, and really probably one of the first 10-15 podcasts I ever listened to. I have really enjoyed the show for several years and it has helped refine my writing quite a bit.

As with the rest of the network, audio quality is very good and episodes of Grammar Girl are generally in the 5-10 minute range.

Hacker Public Radio

Hacker Public Radio (HPR) is a show developed by and for the Linux/Open-Source/Hacker community. Taking the more fundamental definition of hackers as hobbyists rather than the more sensationalized view of hackers as evil computer geniuses, the show provides a platform for anyone to contribute a show about any topic they may feel is of interest to the hacker community at large.

The community produces five shows a week, every week. Episode number 1500 is scheduled to come out on Friday, May 2nd.

That said the community is always looking for more content. If you've ever contemplated podcasting, this is an excellent venue to test it out without having any long-term commitments. Make an episode. If you want help check out the show notes for this episode and get in touch with me, or ping me on twitter @kdmurray.

Hanselminutes

Hanselminutes is a show hosted by and aimed at people working in the software industry. Unlike the hosts of other developer shows, Scott Hanselman takes about 30-60 minutes each week to talk to the people in Software and explore things beyond the code and in some cases beyond technology. This is a great show for anyone in software who wants to expand beyond the role of a code monkey.

Some of my favourite episodes have focused on the most non-technical aspects of working in the technology industry including talks on community, relationships and the environment surrounding tech conferences. I've also really enjoyed the semi-regular "Hanselminutea" episodes with frequent guest Richard Campbell.

As of this writing the most recent episodes are: "Teaching my daugter to code with hopscotch", "The Go programming Language", "BitCoin Explained", "Creating the Plex Software Ecosystem" and "I'm a Blind Software Technician". Hanselminutes is a member of the PWOP podcast network.

A History Of Alexander / Hannibal

Two separate podcasts by Jamie Redfern which offer a deep dive into the life and times of two of the ancient world's most capable military commanders. Broken up over the course of dozens of episodes these shows provided me with a great deal of knowledge and entertainment about a subject I really enjoy.

The Alexander show has actually been released twice. The first run was Redfern's first attempt at podcasting. While it was great content, some of the audio issues in early episodes made listening a bit challenging. The "Remastered" edition of Alexander has solved all of those problems.

The Hannibal show was produced later and did not have these same issues. It also has a great deal of fantastic historical content.

Most episodes run about 30 minutes, and both shows have completed their runs.

The History of Rome

Host Mike Duncan is passionate about History. His deep love for the subject shows in his five year run (2007-2012) of the History of Rome. From the early origins of the Roman kingdoms to the fall of the Western empire, Duncan provides a fantastic and very well researched look into a crucial time in history.

This was the first history podcast I really enjoyed. I had tried a few others before this, but had found them either too dry and boring, or too poorly produced to hold my interest. THoR does not have either of these problems. Episodes are also nice and compact with most weighing in at about 25 minutes.

I was also very Duncan has a new show that started in the fall of 2013 (Revolutions) that I haven't begun listening to yet. It is queued up on my phone for my next trip and I'm excited to start a new historical adventure.

IRL Talk

Irreverent is the best word to describe this show. Hosted by Jason Seifer and Faith Korpi IRL Talk provides a nerd's-eye view to things happening in the world of technology and the Internet. It's silly, yet informative, and helps balance out my somewhat tech heavy podcast lineup.

The best part about this show, without a doubt, is the chemistry between the hosts. Each knows how to push the other's buttons (granted Jason does most of the pushing) and each has areas of expertise that have just enough common ground to hold the show together. Faith has tons of knowledge of movies and is involved in more artistic endeavours like dance. Jason's primary weapons are making people feel uncomfortable, and his utter mastery of the long troll.

IRL Talk provides about an hour of excellently produced content with each episode.

Knightcast

I've known Knightwise for several years and really enjoy his platform-agnostic take on issues, and learning how to make technology work for you, instead of the other way around. This is definitely one of the shows I look forward to.

This is practical advice. Stuff you can put to use in every day situations, and for the most part stuff you will want to put to use as soon as the show ends. Every now and then Knightwise will include a "storytime" episode which is essentially an audiobook format of one of his blog posts.

Audio quality is usually pretty good (unless he records from his car) and episodes usually run about 60 minutes or so.

Image Credit: abletoven on Flickr.

30 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (part 1)

flickr-abletoven-rss-headphonesI recently put together a show for Hacker Public Radio. Seeing as I had done all this writing, I decided I might as well put together a couple of blog posts.

These are 30 podcasts I listen to very regularly. I have listened to many of these since they began (often retroactively) and very much enjoy them. There are a lot of tech shows in here with a mix of science, food, history and popular culture mixed in for good measure.

Because most people have attention spans only slightly longer than your average gnat, I've decided to break this up into three separate blog posts, each highlighting 10 different shows.

99% Invisible

Storytelling is the focus of Roman Mars' podcast 99% Invisible. This show tells the stories behind the design of things you may have never noticed before, or things about which you didn't give a second thought.

Mixing interesting and compelling stories with brilliantly produced audio this is one of the shows I look forward to every single week. 99% Invisible is a member of the newly founded Radiotopia network. If you like stories or have any interest in design I recommend you check this one out.

99% Invisible has also put on a couple of very successful Kickstarter campaigns the past couple of seasons in an effort to generate some funding to further support and expand the show. I have donated both times and will undoubtedly back it again when they come around again for next year.

Accidental Tech Podcast

When three developers try to make a car show but end up talking more about technology than cars, you get an accidental tech podcast. Hosted by Marco Arment, John Siracusa and Casey Liss the trio provide an Apple and Developer centered discussion each week about various goings on in the tech world.

The show quality is quite good (if a bit long-winded at times.) Episodes run about 90 mins to 2 hours.

All three hosts are developers so there are often developer or programmer topics (or at least topics discussed from that slant.) They are also all Apple fans, so the majority of the hardware and software discussed is Apple/Mac/iOS related.

The Alton Browncast

TV Personality Alton Brown has a podcast. Being a big fan of the Good Eats series I had to check this out. Each week features an interview with someone in the food or food-entertainment world and it gives an interesting behind-the-scenes look at this world that I typically have no insight into.

It's also nice to get some items in my feed that don't have anything to do with tech or computing. I don't have a lot of them, but this is definitely a good choice.

Usually pretty well produced, the episodes run about an hour and is a member of the Nerdist podcast network.

Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast is a fantastic podcast that takes a look at one specific space-related topic each episode and tries to delve into just enough detail to make you think. Hosted by Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay Astronomy Cast is an excellent primer for those who are interested in learning more about space, the cosmos and the underlying science and physics that makes it all work.

I first stumbled across this show from some links to IYA activities back in 2009 and it has been a mainstay ever since. The episodes are kept pretty short (under 30 minutes) and pack a lot of information into a nice bite-sized science snack.

Astronomy Cast is also closely affiliated with CosmoQuest the group behind the very successful 365 Days of Astronomy podcast and other citizen science initiatives.

Back to Work

Nominally a show about productivity and communication, Back to Work is hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin and is a member of the 5by5 network. Each episode is as much a chance for Dan and Merlin to have a chat as it is about productivity. Recent episodes have included the blight of buzzwords, bad customer service, nostalgia and sleep.

There are a lot of running bits and gags that date back to the early days of the show. Often referenced is the venerable "episode 7" (which is quite good).

The show is produced similarly to many of the 5by5 shows with very good audio quality and a very conversational feel. Like other 5by5 shows the episode titles rarely describe the episode, which can be annoying, but leaves you listening for where the joke occurs during the show.

Click

The BBC World Service produces a number of fantastic shows. One that I like, which is tech focused, is Click. Hosted by Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson Click tries to offer a fairly global perspective on new technology often taking advantage of BBC field offices to provide insights from Asian or African correspondents.

Similar in many ways to Spark (which we'll see in a few days) Click focuses on more than the hardware and software, but how the technology actually interacts with and impacts the society and culture of the people who use it.

As you can expect the audio quality and production values are excellent given it's radio heritage. Episodes typically run about 30 minutes.

The Domestic CEO

The Domestic CEO's Quick and Dirty Tips to Manage Your Home. It's a mouthful. Like many shows on the Quick and Dirty Tips network it takes almost as long to say the title as listen to the episode. Each week this show covers tips for managing the day-to-day things in your home.

There is a lot of good information not only for people who are just starting out in their own place for the first time, but even for those of us who have been managing our own places for years. There's always something new.

I have put a large number of these tips to use in my own place and have learned ways to better clean and organize my home as well as save some money along the way. Episodes generally run 5-10 minutes.

FLOSS Weekly

Host Randal Schwartz is at the helm this podcast on the TWiT network delving into the world of Free Libre and Open Source Software. Each episode provides a deep dive into an open source project or technology hosted by Schwartz and a number of rotating co-hosts.

Episodes of FLOSS weekly generally run about one hour.

From Python Import Podcast

If you want to learn about the ins and outs of the Python community this is one way to get your fix. Though it's rather sporadic in its releases and the audio quality is only average, the information into the background and back-rooms of the Python community has been excellent.

The current lineup of hosts includes: David Noyes, Mike Pirnat, Ben Smith and David Stanek. Shows vary as much in length as in release schedule, recent episodes (3 in the past 12 months) have been 1-2 hours.

Geologic Podcast

This has nothing to do with geology, though that's what I was looking for when I subscribed back in 2007. Host George Hrab talks about skepticism and rationality interspersed with personal stories and a series of recurring bits or segments. In some ways it's like an audio blog, but it's a lot of fun particularly if you enjoy the subject matter. There are occasional appearances by guests (Geo's Mom reads Jay-Z lyrics) but for the most part all of the voices and segments are put together by Hrab.

This show actually led me to explore the skepticism movement in more detail and let me to several of the other shows on this list which you'll see in a few days.

With his background in music and experience with audio the show sounds great and is very well produced. Episodes of the Geologic Podcast typically run about an hour.

Image Credit: abletoven on Flickr.