Podcasts are an excellent source of entertainment and learning new things. I find that when I’m doing a mindless task like working out or commuting I can actively focus on something more interesting. Being a student at the moment, I have a lot of time going to and from classes, making food, and procrastinating. I fill up as much of that time listening to podcasts since I enjoy keeping up with the latest tech news, learning new skills and having a laugh.
My Podcast Listening History
I’ve been a huge listener to podcasts shortly before I got my first iPod (iPod nano 3rd generation, 8GB, turquoise) which was sometime during 2006, I think. Back then I started listening to a lot of the podcasts from the TWiT and Revision3 networks. Here I am now, just over 10 years later and I’m still addicted.
Having had a twice a week paper route gave me a lot of mindless time that I soon took over by listening to podcasts. I prominently remember delivering papers in my neighbourhood during a cold, Canadian winter night listening to an excellent holiday episode of Major Nelson Radio. I also remember laughing my ass off to Diggnation, hosted by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, where they share the greatest posts from Digg that week.
Security Now! was a momentous podcast for me. I started listening to it around 2006 when they were at episode 60. Ever since then I’ve been a listener. I can’t thank Steve and Leo enough for their excellent discussion on current security issues and in-depth episodes on various technologies, like their how the internet works series and explanation of the Stuxnet virus. Because I’ve been listening to Security Now! for so long I’ve learned so much about security and the web that I’m practically acing the fourth year computer security class at my University. The valuable knowledge learned will stick around with me forever, already a great asset for my professional career.
Here’s my list of favourite podcasts over the years, all categorized by genre.
Keeping up with the latest in tech is a given when you’re heavily immersed in the ecosystem, less being a computer scientist.
One of the reasons why I’m studying computer science is because of the Security Now! podcast. Every week, Steve and Leo discuss the most interesting and current topics in security. Whether that’s huge corporate hacking, the latest ransomware, IoT security or even various health topics, it’s a polymath of useful information for anyone who’s interested in security.
The best source for tech news, This Week in Tech is hosted by Leo Laporte, a hero of mine for creating the TWiT network, and continually educating me. I wouldn’t know half of what I know now if it wasn’t for Leo’s work. Each week the latest and greatest tech news is dissected with a representative panel of tech journalists. It’s very informative to hear experts in the area give their opinion.
I remember when Twitter was getting big, it was all that TWiT would talk about for weeks on end. It was even expected: “What Twitter news do we have this week?” was saild by Leo almost every episode when Twitter was growing. Those were the days, when Leo was the #1 user on Twitter. Then the masses came and it went to shit. Okay, I still love Twitter. Rant over.
Basically a technology hacker/DIY/hardware/software show with a lot of original content. I really got interested in Linux and hacking because of it. Just recently I saw that they’re working on quadrocopters. So cool! One of my favourite segments was the usb multibooting using grub. No need to burn multiple CDs for all of your live-boot isos and images, just put them all on one USB stick and give it a shiny menu to choose which one to use. The show has a kick-ass soundtrack and it looks like they’ve expanded to a new studio and are now producing multiple shows. These guys have grown a lot!
Almost forgotten, I remembered this one as I was building the Runners Up section. The Maximum PC No BS Podcast could also go under the Comedy section, but Technology suits it better. On that same paper route I had when I was young I listened to this podcast religiously as soon as each episode came out. Gordon Mah Ung and Will Smith were a perfect pair when talking shop about computer hardware, tech news and building computers for the Maximum PC magazine.
Besides being overly frustrated about certain things, Gordon had a segment called Gordon’s Rant of the Week where he would vent about anything and everything from Star Wars to breaking motherboards to shitty software. Every new year there’s usually a best of Gordon’s rants episode, which is a must listen if you find Gordon’s rants funny.
These podcasts are timeless. You can go back and listen to all of them like I’ve done.
One of the funniest podcasts, various members of the Rooster Teeth company talk about ridiculous stories, gaming, current news and Science. They really don’t know much about Science, but the cast always tries to argue it out until someone say’s something so illogical, the cast and crew burst out into laughter. Moments like these are animated into short videos and posted to their YouTube channel as Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures.
It was the summer of 2013, between my first and second years of university, I was living back home trying to find work. I landed this landscaping job, being paid directly by the owners of a large Caledon estate, to fix up their property. That landscaping was fun but hard work. I discovered the Rooster Teeth Podcast early into the summer. Each day, I would be listening to maybe five or six episodes in an eight hour day. I blew through the backlog of episodes really fast and ended up listening to them all before the end of the summer.
What’s the latest crap from Digg, you might ask? Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht answered this tough question for 340 episodes from 2005 to 2012. The two would discuss the most interesting news bits on whichever sofa they landed on. Often very entertaining, Diggnation had me dying of laughter.
Most, if not all of these Software Development podcasts are timeless. A lot of the topics discussed are still useful today. The only real difference is the adoption of the tools and methodologies. I usually look through the list of earlier episodes and listen to the ones that catch my eye. Once you’re hooked on a podcast, it’s not hard to find yourself downloading and listening to everything they have available.
Sadly, this podcast just announced they’re ending the show a few days ago, so I’m still in my mourning stage at the moment, but The Ship Show has been a fun and informative source of everything release engineering, DevOps, and build engineering in big and small companies. The panel discusses new tools, methods and philosophies for improving parts of your tech company, often from firsthand experience. What makes this podcast special is that they delve into more of the technical and implementation details, which is great if you’re into that.
The ADO podcast is made for people who don’t exactly know what this whole DevOps thing is about but would like to know. Matt Straton, the creator of the podcast makes this point often as he has learned DevOps from scratch. Each episode goes into depth on a DevOps related subject, often having guests from the industry who are knowledgeable in the topic to add more value to the discussion. A lot of the topics discussed are higher level than what is offered in The Ship Show, but Arrested DevOps is still as valuable since its important to understand the big picture and ask the big questions. Both Arrested DevOps and The Ship Show are complimentary to each other.
Sponsored by the IEEE, this podcast offers excellent interviews on a variety of Software Engineering topics. The episodes mainly consist of two or three people discussing a specific topic, whether it’s a technology or methodology. The time is taken to give listeners a good idea about the purpose and it’s usefulness. The interviewer often does their homework before performing the interview and therefore asks well thought out questions. Because the episodes cover such a wide breadth of topics, surfing through the past episodes is a must!
If Software Engineering Radio wasn’t good enough, Software Engineering Daily applies the same format and content to a daily schedule. The amazing producer and interviewer Jeff, also a current host on Software Engineering Radio, has amassed hundreds of episodes covering everything from technology, to business, to soft skills – all pertinent to any software engineer. Dozens of hours of content can be queued up for listening just by skimming through the history of episodes.
Here’s a few podcasts that I’ve listened to for a long time, but didn’t make the list:
Floss Weekly – Randal Schwartz and other hosts interview open source software projects to share what the project is about. Generally pretty interesting, it’s cool to hear what people are doing in subjects that you’re usually not interested in or didn’t know existed.
Tekzilla – Great segments! Veronica Belmont and Patrick Norton were a killer team and shared great tips and tricks to do with technology.
Windows Weekly – Paul Thurott had the perfect level of satire as he talked about Windows products that no one uses, like Windows Home Server (I used it, so I can bash it), and things that people use, like Xbox and new Windows operating systems.
This Week in Google – Gina Trapani and Jeff Jarvais have excellent discussions about the cloud and everything Google.
Mahalo Daily – Veronica Belmont was the best in this short daily podcast format!
Update 2017-01-19: Added Software Engineering Daily