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Podcasts list – or, a better use of your free time

March 25th, 2010 No comments

Black Mp3 Player Isolated On White, by Photographer Michal Marcol, from freedigitalphotos.netBecause of working far from home, I have an unusually long commute every day. To make the most of it, over the years I’ve gathered a list of podcasts which I consider interesting and informative. And also of high technical quality, because no one likes even the best content if the sound is crappy or the production is amateurish.

Grabbing those podcasts is easy: for those who use iTunes, most of these podcasts are available free of charge on the iTunes store, just search by name. If not available, you can always hit “Advanced / Subscribe to Podcast” and enter the feed’s URL directly. Other podcatcher software  has similar features to subscribe to specific feeds, so just look around.

Now, to the list of programs, in no particular order …

NPR – National Public Radio:

NPR is the National Public Radio, from the USA, and it has several very interesting podcasts worth checking out. Of those, there are two of which I keep on my regular list:

NPR Business Story of the Day: that’s the day’s editor pick from the business news; the feed consists of one short story each day, mostly around 5min long. Feed: http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=1095

NPR’s Planet Money: a podcast and a blog by the same name; the focus is on economy and the take on the subject is always relaxed and looking for the unusual angle on the story. I highly recommend! Feedhttp://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510289  Blog: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/

BBC – British Broadcasting Corporation:

The BBC is a legend on bringing great programs to the world. When I was a kid I’d listen to the “World Service” on short-wave radio (and understand almost nothing), and this service is still on air today. But you also find a huge number of podcasts available, three of which I selected here:

In Business: that’s Peter Day’s business program. Most of the programs are in the half-hour range, sometimes a story is broken into more than one episode to fit the space. Topics vary, from inquiries into entrepreneurship, to new technologies, start-ups, changes in the geo-political arena, etc … The program is updated somewhat infrequently, so it is not strange to go a few weeks without new episodes.  Feedhttp://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio/worldbiz/rss.xml Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006s609

Documentary Archive: a podcast from BBC’s World Service, it presents a variety of themes and styles, as some programs are produced by different branches and/or companies. There are real gems as well as not so good ones, but overall the quality of the content is very good. Feedhttp://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/docarchive/rss.xml Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/ 

File on 4: an investigative program; mainly focused on British affairs, but very interesting even for those on the outside. Feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/fileon4/rss.xml  Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006th08

PWOP Productions:

The next podcasts all come from the same producer, Carl Franklin, owner of PWOP Productions and also host of the .NET Rocks and DNRTV shows mentioned below. One common theme across all four is that they are all IT-related; in fact, the first three target a software developer audience specifically.

.NET Rocks: this an hour long interview show centered around Microsoft Technologies, mostly the .NET Framework, but very often also talking about other supporting platforms and applications. Website: http://www.dotnetrocks.com/  Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/netRocksFullMp3Downloads

DNRTV: this is not an audio podcast, but rather a screencast. It consists of a screen capture and audio commentary session focusing on some specific programming topic. A very good way to learn the basics of some topic of interest. Website: http://www.dnrtv.com/  Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DnrtvWmv

Hanselminutes: Presented by (now) Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman, this is a fast-paced 20min interview show focusing on development and technology topics. Mostly related to Microsoft .NET and/or web development. Website: http://www.hanselminutes.com/  Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Hanselminutes

Runas Radio: This is the one in this pack which is not aimed at software developers; presented by Richard Campbell, co-host of .NET Rocks, and Greg Hughes, the target audiences is IT professionals on Microsoft shops. As such, the topics range from Exchange and SharePoint to Active Directory, server administration and monitoring, etc. If that’s what put the bread on your table, well worth the listen. Website: http://www.runasradio.com/ Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RunasRadio

Django Dose:

Django is a very popular web development framework written on the Python programming language.  For those using Django (like myself), Django Dose is a very good source of “what’s going on”-type of news. Website: http://djangodose.com/  The podcasts are split into different categories: (notice, there hasn’t been much new activity as of lately)

Tracking Trunk: this is a commentary on recent changes to the Django codebase, both in trunk (as the name implies) but sometimes in important development branches too. Feed: http://djangodose.com/podcasts/tracking-trunk/feed/

Callcasts: interviews with guests. Feed: http://djangodose.com/podcasts/callcast/feed/

Community Catchup: Commentary on important news from the Django community at large.  Feed: http://djangodose.com/podcasts/community-catchup/feed/

Everything: all of the above combined into a single stream. Feed: http://djangodose.com/everything/feed/

This Week in Django: while this is not part of Django Dose, and is no longer being produced, it is worth mentioning because this is the original podcasts which was the foundation for Django Dose. And, while being somewhat dated, it is still a good reference for some of the earlier developments in Django. Website: http://thisweekindjango.com/  Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThisWeekInDjango  (there are also separate feeds per content, see the website)

The World’s Technology Podcast: interesting show with varied news, mostly around tech. A co-production of the BBC and PRI (Public Radio International, USA) and WBGH, and presented by Clark Boyd. Website: http://www.theworld.org/technology-podcast/  Feed: http://www.theworld.org/rss/enhancedtech.xml

Killer Innovations: All-things innovation, from tips and techniques to enhance one’s potential, to interviews with pioneers and innovators. Hosted and presented by Phill McKinney, HP’s CTO on the Personal Systems Group. Websitehttp://philmckinney.com/  Feedhttp://philmckinney.com/blog/podcast.xml

IT Conversations: This one requires a bit of a longer explanation. On IT Conversations there’s a huge amount of audio material, some of my personal favourites are the presentations from shows like Emerging Communications, OSCON, Web 2.0 and Where 2.0; and also radio shows like Tech Nation and Biotech Nation. However, the list of stuff available is so huge that subscribing to the main feed would be like drinking from the firehose, a little too much for my taste. Instead, ITC has an ingenious feature: if you register yourself on the website, every program you see on the front page or everywhere on the site carries a little “save” button. If you click “save”, that program is added to your own personal queue; with that in place, you can point iTunes to the RSS feed for your own personal queue, so the software will only download those programs you review on the website and click “save”. Simple and excellent!  Website: http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/

Hooray! You made it to the end without falling asleep, congratulations!  That’s about it for right now. (podcast list updated March/2010)

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