Great Podcasts

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about my favorite podcasts, but a recent discussion with Jonathan has nudged me to document my current recommendations.

My Top Five Six

(in no order…)

Radiolab

Radiolab focuses on a single “Big IDea” per episode, using the medium of sound to the fullest extent possible. It is indescribable, so I will simply say that if you subscribe to nothing else on this list, you must experience Radiolab.

The International Spy Museum’s Spycast

How can you beat a show hosted by a man with over three decades of experience in espionage made up of interviews with “ex-spies, intelligence experts, and espionage scholars.” It is a truly fascinating glimpse into the shadows.

This American Life

Most people reading this have likely been listening to This American Life for a while, but just in case you haven’t experienced what is quite possibly one of the best shows to ever ride the radio waves, I list it here.

The History of Rome

Being the history geek that I am, I love this series, which traces “the history of the Roman Empire, beginning with Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and ending (someday) with the exile of Romulus Augustulus, last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.”

In Our Time

This BBC podcast covers an amazing array of topics under the banner of discussing “the history of ideas”. Isaac Newton, the samurai, genetics and the philosophy behind Communism are a small sampling of the topics you can hear each week.

The Moth

The Moth is a series of storytelling events held in several cities around the US, from which they take some of the funniest and most poignant to place on the podcast.

More Awesome Podcasts

You should get these too. They may not be in my top five, but the fact that I listen to them still speaks highly of their value – I’m pretty brutal about cutting out shows that aren’t amazing.

The Engines of Our Ingenuity

John Lienhard’s stories and perspective on the history of our technology and its impact on culture are inviting and informative. It’s a nice short podcast, every episode of which teaches me something.

NPR: Sports with Frank Deford

While I like to watch some sports (football and boxing for the most part), Frank Deford can hook me no matter which sport or aspect of the business of sports he decides to talk about. He is an amazing story-teller who truly cares about the subject and the people who play.

On the Media

Yet another NPR show that fills my iPod. If you care in the least about how the media works nd its impact on those of us who consume it, you need to listen to the show. On the Media ‘explores how the media “sausage” is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.’

The ATX Web Show

While this is a bit of a niche, Dave Rupert and friends put together a great show highlighting the Web design and development community here in town. It’s a great way to keep up with the future.

60 Second Psych & 60 Second Science

Exactly as their names imply, each of these podcasts come in bite-sized chunks, ready to make you smarter and help you understand how things truly work in the world at large and the world in our brain.

12 Byzantine Rulers

Lars Brownworth’s love of the subject is clear from the first minute and will quickly attract anyone interested in history. As noted on the site, Mr. Brownworth’s “passion for Byzantine history has taken him on travels from the furthest reaches of the Byzantine Empire right into Constantinople, (present day Istanbul) the very heart of Byzantium. He has traveled and studied Byzantine history extensively and produced this lecture series giving us an overview of Byzantine history as seen through 12 of its greatest rulers.”

Norman Centuries

Another great history podcast from Lars Brownworth, starts with the humble beginnings of the Normans traces the path of the Normans over the two centuries that they “launched a series of extraordinary conquests, transforming Anglo-Saxon England into Great Britain, setting up a powerful Crusader state in Antioch, and turning Palermo into the dazzling cultural and economic capital of the western Mediterranean”.

What am I Missing

What are your favorite podcasts?

Pandora on My Box

PandoraBoy Screenshot
I’ve finally decided to give the Pandora music recommendation service a try and enjoying it thoroughly. The system is built upon the Music Genome Project, which assembled “literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome… [capturing] the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony.” All you have to do is type in a band name and it makes the connections to other interesting groups, streaming the music to you via an Internet radio station.

So why am I checking it out now? PandoraBoy. This handy little app eliminates the need to run a browser in order to use Pandora. So I can listen to the tunes without taking up a tab in Firefox. I am also able to control it with hot-keys and my Apple remote, so if I don’t like a song while I’m in my reading chair across the room, I can skip it, just like I do with iTunes. Add to that, the built-in Growl support and you have a ell rounded, focused app.

Thanks to The Unofficial Apple Weblog for introducing me to PandoraBoy and spurring me on to try it. Now, to add the ability for it to write out to SilverSpider Play List

Podcast subscriptions

Here’s a list of some of the podcasts I currently subscribe to, all of which are available via iTunes in addition to the links below. I’ve set up a smart playlist (which I occasionally tweak by hand) to shuffle the shows, allowing me to interleave long episodes and short episodes, providing a nice bit of variety, while keeping the episodes in chronological order per-series.

  • 12 Byzantine Rulers is a great podcast by Lars Brownworth, whose love of the subject is apparent from the first minute. Anyone interested in history should check it out. As noted on the site, Mr. Brownworth’s “passion for Byzantine history has taken him on travels from the furthest reaches of the Byzantine Empire right into Constantinople, (present day Istanbul) the very heart of Byzantium. He has traveled and studied Byzantine history extensively and produced this lecture series giving us an overview of Byzantine history as seen through 12 of it’s greatest rulers.”
  • 43 Folders “is Merlin Mann’s site about personal productivity, life hacks, and simple ways to make your life a little better.”
  • All in the Mind is “Radio National’s weekly foray into the mental universe, the mind, brain and behaviour – everything from addiction to artificial intelligence.”
  • American Experience brings the amazing PBS series to our iPods.
  • APM’s Marketplace provides a perspective on economic and business news unavailable anywhere else.
  • Barbecue Secrets is new to me, but I enjoyed the first podcast I listened to.
  • BBQ Forums is also new to me, but is proving a great addition to the list.
  • Digital Debates from the National Constitution Center is one of my favorites as it provides an hour long Q&A with some of the foremost experts on the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers and the current political landscape.
  • The Engines of Our Ingenuity provides a gret snippet of the history of how culture and our current world was formed. John Lienhard’s stories and perspective are inviting and informative.
  • The Seanachai / How to Succeed are two podcasts from a heluva story teller. How to Succeed in Evil is a spin off of the Seanachai, both are well worth the listening time.
  • In Our Time is an always informative weekly show from the BBC that covers a wide array of historical topics. This is one of my favorites.
  • NOVA ScienceNow brings NOVA to iTunes.
  • NPR: Food provides “the story behind your favorite foods from Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other award-winning NPR programs.”
  • NPR: Sports with Frank Deford is a great podcast highlighting his weekly commentary on NPR that goes much deeper than the normal sports news.
  • On the Media‘explores how the media “sausage” is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.’
  • Slate Explainer provides great answers to interesting questions in about five minutes. I love mixing these in with the longer podcasts for variety.
  • The International Spy Museum’s Spycast provides “interviews and programs with ex-spies, intelligence experts, and espionage scholars.”
  • This American Life is one of the best shows on radio, and I am exceedingly happy that they finally started publishing a podcast.
  • To the Best of our Knowledge is “smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. “
  • U.S. Senator Barack Obama is harnessing technology in his presidential bid, which is exciting for a geek like me to witness. I’m really interested to see how he uses it as the campaign progresses.
  • Radio Lab is downright amazing. Easily on par with This American Life, with a bit more of a science and technology twixt. “Each episode is a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea. On RadioLab, science bumps into culture… information sounds like music.”

Please add any of your favorites via the comments!

Mmmm….iPhone

Images snagged from Apple
Images snagged from Apple
Just announced at Macworld: The Apple iPhone

iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers.

This is the ultimate device: beautiful phone with a ton of major feature and usability enhancements, iPod, PDA (running OS X), digital camera with Wifi, and Bluetooth in addition to the cell connections.

Coming in June, though sadly, only to Cingular. This is the first time I’ve ever been seriously tempted to leave Sprint for cell service.

Replacing an iPod Hard Drive

Josh Highland provides a great step-by-step tutorial demonstrating how to replace the drive of an iPod. Following the steps proved little trouble, allowing me to fix my mother-in-law’s hard drive after the iPod started misbehaving. As the new hard drive is much cheaper than the cost of a new iPod, and as Apple would have only given her $25 to trade it in, the choice was easily made. 30 minutes and a bit over a hundred bucks later, Linda has a working iPod.

Macromedia Developer Relations Podcast

I’ll be adding the Macromedia Developer Relations Podcast (found via moockblog) to my regular podcast list tonight. It appears to lean towards Flash, which isn’t a bad thing, but I hope they will spend some time discussing the new features in the recently released Studio 8. I am really interested in the changes and additions to Dreamweaver’s code view (I don’t find the design view very useful).

The current release documentation shows that they finally added a tabbed document interface for the Mac – about bloody time. Also, some of the useful functions that have been available in HomeSite for years have finally been added to Dreamweaver, including Code Collapse, which is incredibly helpful when working on large files. Site relative references, background file transfers (no more waiting on an upload/download to keep working) and file comparison are a tasty icing atop the upgrade cake.

BoingBoing Sounds

Two interesting audio related links popped up on Boing Boing recently:

iPodarmy

iPodarmy “is a Web site and community focused on audio-based content and emerging technologies related to (but not limited to) portable audio, DRM, digital music delivery and sharing, podcasting and more.” This looks like a promising use of podcasting and “share-friendly” (Creative Commons and the like) music.

podSites.com

podSites.com – ” Apple’s iPod sports a simple, powerful but little used feature, called Notes. iPod’s Notes lets you read text files on your iPod. Notes can also link to other Notes, as well as songs and images on your iPod.

A podSite is our name for a collection of text files, with links to other text files, and possibly sound files and image files stored, and accessible on an iPod. “