Podcasts: 8 of the best

Podcasts are a great way to keep up with the latest goings on in whatever subjects interest you. For me this means mainly tech news. I even wrote an application to help me organise all them all! I thought I’d list a few of the podcasts I listen to regularly.

This Week In Tech
Or TWiT, as it’s known is a general technology news ‘netcast’.
The flagship podcast of the TWiT Network, it consists of regular guests discussing the latest tech stories. Being American, it is heavily focused on US consumer issues, but that doesn’t matter since what happens in the US inevitably follows here in the UK, and they do sometimes have British guests. I find a lot of the people are too easily drawn into the latest crazes such as Twitter and Facebook but thankfully regular contributor John C Dvorak is there to bring them down to earth! Overall a top show, highly recommended.

A slightly odd name, until you realise it’s named after the show’s creator, Paul Boag. This podcast focuses on web design, and it aimed at those who work as designers, and to a lesser extent developers. It is light hearted, the guys don’t take themselves too seriously, so while you’re learning new facts and keeping up with what’s going on in the world of web design, you’re also enjoying it. Worth subscribing to if you have aspirations to become a designer, or are a web designer, or if like me, you’re a developer who has to do some designing. Top podcast indeed.

Security Now!
This podcast, from TWiT, is all about the latest news in the world of computer security. The show alternates each week between a listener Q&A session and a chosen topic that the show’s creator, Steve Gibson will talk about. This could be how SSL works, how a particular worm works or sometimes a non-security related topic. All episodes include the latest security news, which is essential if you’re an IT administrator, or care about the security if your own home network. Sometimes the topics can be very complex, then other weeks bizarrely simple – the show has a huge range but never fails to hold my interest. Anchorman Leo Laporte does a good job of representing the average listener, and asking Steve the questions we’re all thinking. Highly recommended.

PC Pro
A discussion of the latest tech news with a refreshing UK focus. The folks are very knowledgeable and raise some good points. They don’t seem to be as obsessed with the latest crazes like Twitter and FaceBook as other podcasts, which is so refreshing. Recommended for anyone who is at all interested in the computer industry.

Windows Weekly
Another TWiT podcast – if you’re interested in Windows, Xbox or Zune then a must-listen. Paul Thurrott has contacts within Microsoft that often mean you will find out things before anyone else. I sometimes wish it could cover more technical stuff for us developers, but we’re not really the show’s primary audience (there’s Channel 9 for that). Overall highly recommended if you have an interest in Microsoft technologies.

I occasionally listen to this one. It’s a roundup of the top stories submitted on Digg. Alex Albrecht is a very funny guy, and so too is Kevin Rose (the founder of Digg.com) A great laugh and good way to keep up with the less serious goings on in the world, also available in video, in fact it’s best viewed in video although personally I’m not so keen on video podcasts since I can’t do anything else at the same time (although watching Diggnation especially is a great Sunday morning remedy to a hangover). Overall I highly recommend.

Geek News Central

I’ve been listening to this podcast on and off for over a year now. It’s a show about technology news, but it’s not one bit dry and boring as one might first expect, this is thanks to the great host Todd Cochrane who has such a great passion for what he’s doing. With two shows a week, keeping up with this podcast requires dedication – and when you first listen you might wonder why Todd spends the first 15 minutes just having a general chit-chat about what’s going on in his world – but as you listen each week you realise that is part of the charm, and what differentiates this tech podcast from the myriad of others out there. This is the cream of the podcasting world, highly recommended!

Mark Kermode’s Film Reviews
This podcast is a repeat of Mark Kermode’s regular Friday afternoon section on BBC Radio Five Live. Kermode, along with host Simon May do an excellent job of providing information and reviews on the new releases each week. If Mark recommends a film, it’s a good sign that it’s worth seeing. Nice way to start the weekend.

Goodbye Nokia N95, Hello iPhone

For 2 years now I’ve been using the Nokia N95. At the time of release it was revolutionary. Even today it holds its weight when compared to the majority of phones on the market. From a top quality camera with a flash and autofocus, a GPS receiver and built in sat-nav, DVD quality video recording, to the more gimmicky 2-way slider, the N95 really is the bee’s knees.
So it was time for an upgrade. I was seriously contemplating sticking with T-Mobile and the N95 and just getting a cheaper tariff. But the N95’s biggest flaw, let me down. Build quality. My first N95 had a loose keypad, and the volume-up button broke. After about 20 months, the volume-up button broke on my second handset. Google it, it’s a common fault. Whereas once a Nokia would have been virtually indestructible (think 3310), the N95 was a fragile ornament. Other aspects of the N95 started to bug me also. The upper keypad is too cramped. It’s too easy to accidently cancel out of an application when trying to hit the ‘C’ key. Application start-up times are also slow, nothing seems seamless. I decided I needed to get a new phone.
I was torn between the iPhone and the N97. After the shocking build quality of the N95, I’d sworn never to go back to Nokia, which is a big thing for me. I’ve owned the 3330, 3510i, 6630, 6100, and 6230i – oh and the N95 of course, since 2001…. I had a play on the N97 and it looks amazing. The camera is top notch, and it feels a lot more solid than the N95. The touch screen however is very poor. A bit like the 5800, it’s resistive, and so works on pressure making it a real chore to use. The UI isn’t designed for touch, rather than adapted, and poorly adapted in my opinion. But the slide-out keyboard, and integrated flash in the browser were still enough to keep my interested.  I decided to stick to my guns, and not risk another N95. I went for the iPhone.
I’ve had many iPods before. I hate iTunes – it’s a true example of bloatware. I have used iTunes since 2001 when it was version 1, and came with Mac OS 9 – so I have a lot of experience with using it. From about version 6 onwards, it just got really slow. On Windows it has an annoying bug where it will steal focus every couple of minutes, this can be fixed by setting Windows Live Messenger not to display your song information. I’m sure Apple make iTunes on Windows run a slow as possible to make Microsoft look bad. I mean, why the hell does QuickTime, a crappy media player that no one ever runs (except as a plug-in) need a notification icon? What is it notifying me of exactly? Anyway we all know iTunes sucks, but it for syncing music and downloading podcasts, it does the job OK.
The iPhone, like the N97, looks great. Unlike the N97 it’s not at all obvious where the SIM card goes, so be sure to read the manual, or Google it as I did. The screen in capacitive, which works by conducting electricity from your figure. It’s a lot smoother and more enjoyable to use. The browser and email are great, but I do miss a few things about my N95

  • The calendar. An iPhone will only let you set a reminder for 2 days before an event. No good for a car service, or a big birthday present where you might like to be reminded a week or so before. Seems like a pointless limit, or oversight to me.
  • Bluetooth. The iPhone might as well not have Bluetooth, since you can’t send photos or contacts using it. I can understand Apple restricting music, but photos, contacts, and calendar entries? These are basics Apple and you’ve got them wrong.
  • Apple are in bed with the network operators. You can’t download podcasts over 10MB or use the iPhone has a modem, the N95 could do all of this. It was a phone not a marketing tool for 02.
  • 3G reception seems to be bad – when compared to other phones on the same network in the same room.
  • The camera is bad. The newer 3GS that I have still is poor and doesn’t have a flash.

I don’t want to be all negative – the iPhone is a worthy upgrade from the N95. Email is much quicker, and supports HTML (although Apple limit you to sending 5 photos as attachments), as well as syncing emails and calendars with exchange. The N95 would take about 30 seconds to ‘think about’ my emails after receiving them, which was just plain annoying. Direct upload the YouTube, along with some great games, and applications put the iPhone ahead of Nokia. Facebook, Twitter, even Windows Live Messenger via push (although the application author writes that the program is under review by Apple, no doubt because it might eat into network revenues) all work seamlessly. The interface is a pleasure to use.
So I’m glad I upgraded – just missing a few key bits of functionality!

Visual Studio has clipboard history!

Just discovered that by repeatedly pressing CTRL SHIFT + V you can cycle through your clipboard history. Really handy, I am always copying something, then I hit CTRL + C by accident and end up copying a blank line.

This will save me time.