Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Podcasts, These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

If I were to adapt the Sound of Music to technology, it might go something like this:

Routers on rainbows and switches in clouds,
bright fiber optics and warm wi-fi signals,
independent podcasts on relevant topics,
these are a few of my favorite things!

Podcasts are one of my preferred methods to learn and stay up-to-date on technology news. Despite the overwhelming number of tech podcasts out there, I actually find very few that are relevant to my interests or present original content that differentiate the podcast from other news sources. I can't compile a "Top 10" list, it's that small a number.

Technology Podcasts
Here are my favorite technology podcasts. I listen to these regularly and usually do not miss an episode.
  • Packet Pushers Podcast
    Hosted by Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks, this show covers networking technology from an independent engineer's perspective.

    On the podcast, we talk about routing, switching, security, firewalls, data center, and industry trends. We collect different topics and discuss them in a round table format. Topics can be “deep dived” where we focus on practical technology issues, or we sometimes review the latest announcements from vendors and discuss the technologies. Whatever takes our interest, we’ll dig into it and decide what the focus will be.
  • MacBreak Weekly
    A show hosted by Leo Laporte. This show keeps me up-to-date on all the Apple technology and solutions, which typically leads the consumer market.

    Get the latest Apple news and views from the top names in Mac, iPhone, iPod, and iPad journalism. Recorded live every Tuesday at 2p Eastern/11a Pacific/1800 UTC.
  • Windows Weekly
    Another show hosted by Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott. This show keeps me up-to-date on all the Microsoft technologies and solutions, which typically leads the enterprise market.

    A weekly look at all things Microsoft including Windows 7, Office 2010 and Xbox, from the foremost Windows expert in the world, Paul Thurrott of the Super Site for Windows. Recorded live every Thursday at 2p Eastern/11a Pacific/1800 UTC.
  • No Strings Attached Show
    Hosted by Blake Krone, Jennifer Huber, Sam Clements, George Stefanick, Chris Lyttle, and myself, this show is all about Wi-Fi. Podcast content is focused on a real-world look at technology and solutions without the marketing fluff. Our goal is to be honest and fair in evaluating the benefits and limitations of Wi-Fi technology, without vendor bashing. We also cover emerging technologies so that Wi-Fi professionals are prepared to plan, design, and integrate new solutions based on these technologies.

    Brought to you by some of the brightest and best Wireless engineers from various walks of life. We have two wireless CCIE’s, a couple of CWNE’s, and a handful of other certifications. Each of us brings a different view on the products that we use on a daily basis to provide Wireless networking to the masses, this will hopefully lead to some interesting discussions on the podcasts!

Notable Mentions The following podcasts deserve notable mentions. I check in and listed to episodes occasionally, when the topics are relevant to what I'm interested in. However, I do not listen to every episode.
  • GigaOm Mobile TechRoundup
    Hosted by Kevin C. Tofel. GigaOm is one of my preferred sources for the latest news on technology. The podcast is a recap of major recent news and announcements in the mobile technology space, which is of particular relevance for me due to my work in the Wi-Fi industry which is closely inter-related with most mobile technologies. However, since a lot of the information in the podcast is news-related, it's typically available from other sources and repeats information that I may have already read about elsewhere.

  • GRC Security Now!
    A show hosted by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte. This was one my favorite tech podcasts early in my career as I learned about security topics. I still check in every once-in-a-while, but tend to skip many episodes that are not of interest.

  • Wireless LAN Weekly (currently inactive)
    Hosted by Keith Parsons. This was an excellent Wi-Fi specific podcast by one of the best professionals in the industry. Keith summed it up best:

    This site is dedicated to those who are involved in the craft of Wireless LANs – folks who work day-in, day-out with Wireless networking. A place to come and learn from, hang out with, and be inspired by other like-minded individuals.

Listening Options
I especially like the options available for listening to podcasts wherever and whenever I choose, and on a multitude of devices.

When I'm out and about around town or travelling I use my smartphone, like pretty much everyone else. I moved away from an iPhone 3GS last fall... big mistake, dumb move, I know (now)! I still haven't found a great podcast manager for Android. At the same time, I am increasingly weening myself off iTunes, for the better. Even when I had the iPhone, I browsed and downloaded podcast episodes directly from the iTunes store on the phone rather than syncing from a computer. I still think there are better podcast apps available for iOS than Android overall, and will likely switch back to an iPhone at some point (probably when version 5 eventually arrives).

When I'm at home or work, I much prefer to listed on one of my Logitech Squeezebox Radio units. It's nice to listen to podcasts on an actual speaker when I'm at my desk or at home in the kitchen, and don't want to wear earbuds or headphones. Additionally, with an optional battery pack I can take my music and podcasts anywhere I can get a Wi-Fi signal (like out on my patio)!

Logitech Squeezebox Radio

Setup and use are simple. Through Logitech's website, I can register, configure, and control all of my units remotely. Application plug-ins are available for many web-based streaming services like Pandora, Slacker, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio. In addition, a podcast plug-in allows configuration of my favorite podcasts by pasting in their RSS/XML source feed URL. The configuration updates on the units immediately. There are also Android and iOS applications for control and synchronization of playback among multiple units. Also, they're very competitively priced based on the features and functionality you get compared to other solutions.


What are your favorite technology podcasts? Please share in the comments section below!

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