Podcast Roundup

General Thoughts on Podcasting

When given a choice between listening to a podcast and reading a book, blog, or tutorial, podcasts would always be my last choice. Talking is not a very high bandwidth form of communication in general when compared to reading and its overall value decreases even more when it is purely passive endeavor without any way of interjecting questions. I am also a very visual and tactile learner, so I always do better when I can look at code and experiment with it than I do when I am just listening to someone talk about it.

Despite these downsides, I am a still huge fan of podcasts because they help make otherwise tedious tasks that I am not rich enough or smart enough to outsource yet more palatable. I will often wear my mp3 player while commuting, mowing, shoveling, vacuuming, raking and running.

Since my commuting time has been drastically cut in the last year, I don’t listen to nearly as many podcasts as I used to and consequently tend to be more selective when looking for good content. In fact, lately I’ve been getting into the habit of hosting my own personal gong show and simply stopping and deleting shows that don’t catch my interest or aren’t very good.

Here are my current thoughts and\or recommendations:


Long Time Favorite: Hanselminutes

If I’m even remotely interested in the topic, I usually opt for a Hanselminute podcast first and almost always make it through the whole show. I really appreciate the Scott’s brisk pace and the fact that he is pretty disciplined about sticking to the 30 minute format. When the show first started, I remember him repeating the mantra ‘the podcast that doesn’t waste your time’ and so far he’s done a pretty good job of staying true to his original aim. He also does an excellent job at asking questions that are not only technically insightful, but also relevant to what the interviewee just talked about. This makes it feel much more like a natural conversation and not just a random Q & A type interview. If anything, his show has gotten even better since he joined Microsoft and gained access to even more interesting people to talk to and projects to talk about.


Up and Coming: Herding Code

This is a relatively new show (only on episode 22) that I just recently started listening to, but it already shows great promise. I like the fact that there are four hosts: K. Scott Allen (OdeToCode), Kevin Dente, Scott Koon (Lazycoder), and Jon Galloway, because I think it helps raise the overall quality and relevancy of the questions being asked (4 brains are better than one). They’ve also done some episodes where they just chat about a particular topic rather than interviewing someone. This turned out really well some episodes, like the Browser Roundup, but not quite as well for others (I didn’t make it all the way through Real World Development). I look forward to future episodes from these guys and plan to go back to catch up on some of the first ones that I missed.


Barely holding On: DotNetRocks

This pains me to say because I have literally listened to hundreds of these episodes over the last few years, but my interest in dotnetrocks is rapidly waning. I’ve noticed myself fast forwarding and stopping halfway through quite a few shows lately. Perhaps they have just over-extended themselves when they moved to 2 shows a week or maybe they’ve just run out of steam after producing almost 400 hour plus long episodes. More than likely it is just my short attention span for show formats kicking in (I rarely can stick with a sitcom for more than a few seasons). Nevertheless, they definitely deserve praise for being the only game in town for so long and I would still recommend certain shows to people. Recently I really enjoyed listening to Ted Neward and Amanda Laucher on F#, Udi Dahan Scales Web Applications!, and Jeffrey Richter on the Windows Memory Model.


Fallen by the Wayside: Polymorphic Podcast, RunAsRadio, ARCast

I used to listen to occasional episodes of Polymorphic Podcast and RunAsRadio, but they seemed to have fallen off my radar these days due to time constraints. I also experimented with ARCast a long time ago because architecture seemed like a perfect focus for a podcast since it is so conceptual in nature, but I never quite warmed up to Ron Jacobs so this quickly dropped from my list as well.


I have a few of the Alt.NET Podcast episodes queued up on my mp3 player because the topics sounded interesting, but haven’t listened to any of them yet

Are there any other high quality gems in the podcasting world that I am missing?


  1. Ross F. October 20, 2008 7:36 am 

    I don’t know if it’s a gem or not, as I haven’t had a chance to listen to any episodes myself, but I’ve seen several mentions of Deep Fried Bytes over on stackoverflow.com

  2. Russell Ball October 20, 2008 7:41 am 

    I’ve listened to one episode from this podcast with David Laribee that was excellent. However, at the time I got the impression that the show was excellent because David was so articulate and not necessarily because of the guidance from the host. However, I probably will give that show another shot soon. Thanks!

  3. Arjan Zuidhof October 20, 2008 7:58 am 

    You beat me as I was about to post my list of podcasts this weeks! Ah..well, saves me another post :)

    The Alt.NET podcast is really worth listening to (some episodes at least IMHO).

    A couple that might also be of interest:

    there’s the Deep Fried Bytes podcast, a newcomer also. Their latest is with Sara Ford, on Agile within Microsoft (go to http://is.gd/4pDs ). It seems a bit MS oriented, but they also interviewed Dave Laribee some time ago.
    O, and don’t forget the ‘Thirsty Developer’ podcast at http://thirstydeveloper.com Don’t really remember any of their episodes, but the entries show it it quite .net / Microsoft oriented
    the last that comes to mind is the the PlumbersAtWork podcast (http://plumbersatwork.com/), Site is currently unreachable and they had their latest episode back in June…

    Together with the ones you mention this covers my complete podcast list (And you’re right: DotNetRocks is just too much to handle these days). I share your conclusion that podcasts are a good way to spend those hours working alone in the garden (did this even last weekend!)

  4. Stefan Moser October 20, 2008 9:59 am 

    I listen to podcasts on my 1 hour commute every day and am subscribed to all of the podcasts that you listed. The one that you’re missing is SE Radio. http://www.se-radio.net/ It’s by far the best podcast that I’m subscribed to because they start with the assumption that the listener is a professional and doesn’t need the topic to be dumbed down. The hosts ask intelligent questions and really get to the heart of the matter. Here are a few excellent recent episodes:

    Episode 105: Retrospectives with Linda Rising
    Episode 108: Simon Peyton Jones on Functional Programming and Haskell
    Episode 109: eBay’s Architecture Principles with Randy Shoup

  5. Ben Griswold October 20, 2008 10:47 am 

    Here’s to Herding Code. Also, you should definitely give the Deep Fried Bytes podcast a listen. Their production quality is high and I’ve found nearly every episode worth my time. I feel the Alt.Net podcast is hit or miss as this show is all about the interviewee(s). I also find Stackoverflow’s podcast very enjoyable as it is a seemly natural, hardly-ever-on-topic conversation between two industry enthusiasts. This weekend I listened to two Thirsty Developer shows and they are now in my queue.

  6. Russell Ball October 20, 2008 7:10 pm 

    @Ben – Thanks. I’ll try some more episodes of Deep Fried Bytes. I’ll also give StackOverflow and Thirsty Developer a try.

  7. Russell Ball October 20, 2008 7:14 pm 

    @Craig – You produce a quality podcast. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. Perhaps I’ll have to find a job farther away again to keep up with everything…

  8. Russell Ball October 20, 2008 7:16 pm 

    @Stefan – Thanks! I can’t wait to try SEO. I really appreciate the specific episode recommendations and the explanation of why you liked it. Sounds like a good fit for me.

  9. Russell Ball October 20, 2008 7:20 pm 

    @Arjan – I forgot all about Plumbers at Work! I listened to a few episodes and liked them a lot.

  10. Craig Shoemaker October 21, 2008 8:47 am 

    @Russell no worries…

    I work from home now and find it hard to keep up with all the show too ;)

  11. Alexander G. October 22, 2008 5:48 am 

    SE Radio (already mentioned above) is indeed a excellent podcast.

    And the topics can be different than the default .net topic of the day. For example shows about Erlang/Scala instead of F# / Iron *.

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