This Week in Podcasts

Another week, another seven days of spectacular podcasts. Maybe I’m just biased, but this is my favorite medium in existence — even more beloved than television, film, and — yes, and — writing. So sit back, relax on your commute for once, and tune in to some of the best podcasts on the internet.

Debug 30: Casey Liss on C# and .Net. As usual, Casey Liss made for a very interesting guest when he sat down with Guy English and Rene Ritchie to talk about C and its derivative languages. As someone who never really understood nor took any joy from writing C, I found this discussion of its benefits and drawbacks particularly interesting. Leave it to these guys to make talking about pointers interesting.

I have to confess, I didn’t listen to these three episodes within the last week as I profess to do with all the entries in this series. Rather, I actually listened to the first and second episodes of Technical Difficulties — formerly Generational — while in San Salvador over spring break. Having just finished working my way through the back catalog of both Debug and Night Vale though, and looking for a new show to start on, I started on this one yesterday through which I realized my oversight.

Technical Difficulties 001 - Being the IT Help Center. I distinctly remember playing this episode on a small, fourteen-seater turboprop flying over The Bahamas on my way to Nassau. Even over the near-deafening din of those engines just feet away from my seat, though, I still found Gabe Weatherhead and David Sparks’ advice on getting new computer users up to speed both interesting and insightful. In particular, David’s suggestion on teaching family and friends simply how to formulate a good Google search as a great first step to solving their problems was genius.

Technical Difficulties 002 - Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario. No one will ever say too much on the topic of backups, and in the second episode of his podcast Gabe Weatherhead had Eddie Smith on to talk about this important — and, unfortunately, oft-overlooked — practice. For more on backups, if this episode interests you as much as it did me, check out the second episode of John Siracusa’s now-retired Hypercritical podcast, Backup Vortex.

Technical Difficulties 003 - Do it for the Kids. In the third episode, we get to the topic for which the show was originally named: the intersection of parenting and technology. Although it’s still far too early for me to have to worry about such things, it certainly doesn’t hurt to start thinking about how I would raise a child in an age more reliant on technology than any before.

Pragmatic Episode 18: Mediocrity, Consensus And Perfectionism. I have missed the live recording sessions early Saturday mornings greatly since they stopped a few weeks ago, but that has in no way affected the excellence of this show. In this episode, John and Ben talk about leadership, compromise, and dealing with group dynamics especially when attempting to implement a good design process. As someone who worked his way through the more unsavory versions of these experiences last year as part of a large high school robotics team, John’s criticisms hit very close to home for me. It’s easy to think these issues are unique to large corporations, but in reality, both the problems and the lessons they can teach will apply to the vast majority of your life.

CMD+SPACE Episode #90: The First Bar, with Merlin Mann. Myke has had Merlin on CMD+SPACE a few times in the past, so when I saw his name pop up in Instacast over the weekend I was pleasantly surprised. As usual, neither disappointed in any way: first Merlin and Myke talked about a topic very near and dear to my heart, podcasts, and then the creative process as it pertained to writing, building an audience, and the corporate world. Unsurprisingly, an excellent episode.

Roderick on the Line Ep. 104: “Talismans of a Dead Age”. This week, John and Merlin strike a fantastic balance between profound and hilarious in one of my favorite episodes in a while. If you still don’t listen to this show, think of this as #104 in a one hundred and four-item-long list of reasons you ought to start.

Thank You for Calling 5: Backblaze Case Study. In the most recent episode of this just recently-launched show, Mois├ęs continues a trend of excellence in talking with the founders of what is arguably the best online backup solution currently available about — you guessed it — their approach to not just customer support, but customer service as well. In particular, I enjoyed hearing from Yev Pusin: he had some great stories, spoke very eloquently, and had that charismatic personality that just made for a really great interview segment.

Amplified #93: Doc Oc Arms. This week, Jim and Dan talk about April Fools, going independent, and some perspective on wearables and how the differing approaches of the companies creating them makes comparing public progress an apples to oranges comparison. Later, they continued this topic in talking about how Apple wants its users to think about computing power, before moving on to the first music section I — as a non-musician — have ever enjoyed. I could listen to Jim play his guitar all day long.

Debug 32: John Siracusa on Copland 2014. When the show notes say, “John Siracusa of Hypercritical and the Accidental Tech Podcast shows up to fight with Guy over Copland 2014”, they mean just that: John and Guy really did have a “spirited” argument that, although most of it went over my head, I still managed to find simultaneously interesting and enjoyable to listen to.

Freakonomics: Why Everybody Who Doesn’t Hate Bitcoin Loves It. I generally cannot stand public radio shows and those that take strong cues from those types of broadcasts, but I overcame that aversion for this episode of Freakonomics where the hosts explained Bitcoin — the underlying technology, its value proposition, and speculated as to its future. I personally prefer Chris Dixon and Balaji Srinivasan’s discussion recorded as part of the a16z podcast, The State of the Bitcoin Ecosystem, and a Theory on Satoshi, but many of the show’s guests made some very interesting observations and points. This one is worth checking out.

The Prompt Episode #42: Beautiful Flower. This week, Myke, Stephen, and Federico gave the Windows BUILD keynote an uncharacteristically (for the average Apple-centric computer user) fair shake, and spoke highly of the services and features announced during it as well. Although I can’t speak from firsthand experience, and from what little I have heard so far it seems Microsoft exaggerated the capabilities of Cortana and could have done the same in other areas as well, at least the ideas coming out of Redmond are interesting and worthy of attention once more. Especially with regards to Cortana’s alleged abilities and integration with third-party apps, I hope Apple will take a cue perhaps for iOS 8. And speaking of other companies Apple will hopefully take a hint from in the future, Russell Ivanovic of Shifty Jelly had an interesting correspondent report where he talked about the Play Store and how Google far outclasses Apple when it comes to supporting their platform’s developers. Take note, Apple.