Saturday, March 28, 2009

Programming podcast roundup

When the stackoverflow podcast first launched, I downloaded it and gave it a listen. I enjoyed it, and I was sick of listening to the same old music when going running... and so, my podcast-listening-habit was born.

Thus far I've been stuck in the microsoft-centric technology podcasts. This not because I'm a microsoft shill, but because I haven't been able to find any non-microsoft-centric podcasts out there.

At any rate, here's the ones I regularly listen to, ranked by preference.

1. The Stack Overflow Podcast

Admittedly I'm biased as this was the first podcast I listened to, and I've been following it since day one. Even had this not been the case, I think I'd still rank it highly.
The SO podcast primarily consists of Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky chatting about the stackoverflow site, and programming/IT topics in general. Major topics are either pulled from the SO site, from reader questions, or often based on current events, or whatever they're each up to.
Even if you think Joel and Jeff are a pack of jumped up blowhards (as many no doubt do), they're still really entertaining to listen to. Both speak well and have a wide variety of experience to draw on (Joel in particular is the king of 'back in my day' type stories, which are usually very interesting). They also complement eachother well which makes for good listening.
I like the fact that the show is centered around them and on the stackoverflow site. They'll occasionally have third party participants on the show, but the majority of shows are just Jeff and Joel. I find this helps you feel like you "know them" better, rather than that they're just interviewers or reporters.
Finally, the SO podcast gets a big bonus for not being full of annoying ads. It has a small bit at the beginning and end from IT conversations, who provide their hosting, and that's it. It typically runs for about an hour.

2. Hanselminutes

Hanselminutes is Scott Hanselman interviewing people about technology. Every week there's a different guest, always talking about some recent technology. Most (but not all) are microsoft based, which is no doubt a side effect of Scott being a microsoft employee.
This does however have it's upsides, as you'll get to find out stuff by hearing it directly from other microsofties that come on the show, rather than hearing things through the rumourmill / blogosphere / reddit.
Hanselminutes is very well produced, and Scott really knows how to do a good interview. Most of the guests are top-notch, and often the tech talk gets pretty deep, which IMHO is great, as it provides the substance of the show.
Recently the podcasts took a bit of a detour, while Scott was in south africa - and interviewed some of the local people about non-technical things, and his family (his wife is from Zimbabwe). I really enjoyed these, as it was really cool to get a bit of insight into the way things are in some other (non-westernised) countries.
Hanselminutes has some advertising at the beginning, and typically has a single "spliced in" ad in the middle. These tend not to be too long though. The show usually runs for half an hour.

3. The Australian Gamer Podcast

OK, this is not programming related at all, but I'm an ex gamer so I like to keep up with that scene periodically.
At any rate, Matt and Yug (the hosts) are _very_ funny (in a crude guy-humour kind of way. It's R18, you have been warned.)
I know of many people who have little to no interest in cars, yet enjoy watching Top Gear, because the presenters simply put on a really great entertaining show.
In my humble opinion at least, the AG podcast is similar. I played it in the car while driving somewhere with my girlfriend (who is not a gamer in the slightest), and she said that apart from all the swearing, it was actually pretty good. That's high praise :-)

4. Herding Code

Herding code is a "technology round-table" run by K. Scott Allen, Kevin Dente, Scott Koon and Jon Galloway, who are all either microsofties, MVP's, or otherwise working using the microsoft technology stack. It's usually just them sitting around chatting (4 people is more than enough to keep a conversation going), with occasional interviews.
It's not as professionally produced as some other podcasts, but it does have a really good friendly atmosphere. You feel like these guys are good mates, and they'd be sitting around talking about this stuff anyway, recording or not.
I really like this, as you feel like you get to know them a lot more, which keeps you engaged.
Herding code doesn't have any sponsored introductions, or inline ads at all. This is awesome, but I wonder if it's just because the show hasn't picked up any yet?

5. Deep Fried Bytes

DFB is another interview driven show, run by Chris Woodruff and Keith Elder. It's kind of similar to hanselminutes, in that there's a guest being interviewed or talked to every show, but Chris and Keith bring their own brand of humour and atmosphere, and also have great character. The "feel like you know them" factor is high.
My one complaint about DFB is that the format thus far seems to be like this: 1) Go to a conference and record interviews with conference speakers and attendees. 2) publish interview as a podcast, repeat until you've run out of interviews, then go to another conference
This is not in and of itself bad, but when you're putting out shows in february which were recorded at the PDC in october, it starts to wear thin a bit.
DFB doesn't have any sponsored intros or ads, and runs for around 45 minutes.

6. .NET Rocks!

DNR is the granddaddy of the tech podcast. Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell are currently on show Number 432, and put out new ones every week like clockwork.
It's another interview-centric show, focused around the Microsoft .NET ecosystem. It sometimes has a bit of an overlap with Hanselminutes (the same guests will appear on each show in quick succession when a new technology is coming out of MS), but it's different enough to always be worth listening to both.
The production quality is top notch (the best out of all the podcasts I've heard). Carl is a musician, and his obvious knowledge of all things audio shows itself here. Apart from the fact that they're talking about .NET programming, you could easily believe this was a show coming from your local radio station's best morning dj crew.
I feel kind of bad putting DNR down the bottom of the list, as it really is a very good podcast, but sadly it is the one I will listen to after I've heard all the others. This is more a testament to how much I like the others than an indictment against DNR. Carl and Richard have been doing this for a long long time, and they're very good at it.
The main thing that bugs me about DNR is actually the ads. They have a 2 minute sponsored intro, then usually 2 or 3 ads spliced into the middle of the show. The ads tend to be longer than on other podcasts, and more intrusive. Shows tend to run between 45 minutes to an hour, but if you skip the ads and the leadout, it's about ten minutes less. If you know of any other good tech podcasts, just drop a comment! Cheers, Orion

1 comment:

Mark Harrison said...

Orion, here's the link for the stack overflow ad. I couldn't find an email address for you so I hope this gets to you...