Geek Technology

This month I am mostly listening to…

…a whole heap of podcasts!

I’ve had a fair bit of travel, with lots of long train journeys and time spent in airports this month. So I’ve finally caught up on some of the podcasts I’ve been meaning to listen to. Several hours of audio pleasure later, I’m sharing my picks with you, the discerning reader (ha!). For ease of use, I’ve rated them on my meaningless arbitrary scale of 1 to 5. (I’m a psychologist – it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t try to measure something on a scale!).

1. The Ihnatko Almanac – One of the excellent 5by5 podcast stable, this is an excellent – nay, geektastic – podcast featuring the talents of Dan Benjamin and my favourite Mac guru, Andy Ihnatko. It’s not particularly tech-focussed though. So far, they’ve covered topics such as comics (yes!), Star Wars and the new Kindle Fire tablet. It’s like it was made for me. I give this 5 out of 5.

2. On the Verge – Featuring the chaps who used to be at Engadget, then “This is my next”, The Verge is a free flowing technology and consumer electronics chat. Picture yourself in a bar with your favourite fellow tech “enthusiasts” arguing the merits of different operating systems, mobile phones and tablets. It makes me laugh out loud each week, normally due to something inappropriate from Joshua Topolsky. He the man. Or some such… 4 out of 5. They’d get 5, but it annoys me when they shout over each other. Which they do a lot.

3. The T3 podcast – I don’t read their magazine, as it seems gloriously out of date each month when you get your gadget news on the interwebs, but this has become a firm favourite of mine every week. It’s normally downloaded by Saturday morning, so I now associate it with cleaning the bathroom. Seriously – household chores are made more bearable if you’re listening to a fun and/or interesting podcast. Try it! (Just avoid mixing your iPhone/iPod with the toilet. Not good). This podcast is made most excellent by the presence of the legendary Duncan Bell, who ensures the tone is well and truly lowered every week. Usually by referencing the word “cock” in some fashion. 4 out of 5, only because Rhi Morgan seems unable to read words of more than one syllable. Guys, more Duncan please.

4. Back to Work – Another 5by5 podcast (try them for yourself) with Dan Benjamin and he of 43 Folders fame, Merlin Mann. The latter is entertaining like a 5 year old on speed is entertaining. Keeping up with his mental leaps is exhausting but well worth it. I freely admit I almost gave up on this podcast with the first episode. But it has steadily grown on me. Each week, the guys look at aspect of personal productivity, technology and philosophy and personal development. It’s now a firm favourite. 4 out of 5, due to inconsistency of quality. Sometimes inspiring and thought-provoking, sometimes more like two guys with hangovers moaning about how their heads hurt.

5. Buzz Out Loud – From the chaps at CNET, this used to be daily podcast and I looked forward to it when I needed to commute. Now, for some crazy reason, it’s a weekly broadcast but is as good as it ever was. Featuring Molly Wood and Brian Tong, it’s a great look at technology and social media. Tong makes me laugh regularly and the “Computer Love” feature is often hilarious. Seriously – nerds seeking love, getting advice from a podcast. Very 2011. Molly regularly goes on a good old rants and the listener voicemail messages are always amusing. Sometimes scary though. 3 out of 5 – points dropped due to move from a daily slot.

6. Mac Power Users – Okay, this needs to come with a health warning. The podcast focuses on productivity and Macs, two subjects close to my heart. It’s well researched and informative and I learn tons from it every time I listen. The health warning is due to the fact that it’s incredibly low key and often sounds like an infomercial. The hosts, while knowledgeable, have monotone voices. Don’t listen while driving, or you’ll fall asleep at the wheel. I have fallen asleep listening to this while in bed. 3 out of 5. Only saved from a 2 due to the quality of the content they share.

7. Macbreak Weekly – This is the first podcast I really got into a few years ago. As the name would indicate, it focuses on the world of Mac and all things Apple, and goes out weekly. The standard crew consists of Leo Laporte, Andy Ihnatko (again) and a couple of other talking heads who offer varying levels of input and interest. Leo and Andy know their stuff, though occasionally go off on rants. And so do I, so I love this podcast. Occasionally brought down by the “angry old man” presence of John C. Dvorak, who raises my blood pressure and makes me turn off. 4 out of 5, as you’ll learn lots about the world of Macs. A great choice for those of you who have just bought an iPad or iPhone. Great tips and tricks every week.

Just a few of the podcasts I try to stay on top of each week. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. But for this geek, these podcasts keep me amused, informed and entertained. Plus, in this recession-conscious environment, they’re all free.

I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts, so add any suggestions to the comments below.

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