I listen to a lot of podcasts. I’m currently using Overcast, an iOS app written by Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, for nearly all my podcast listening. I listen in my car via a Bluetooth to FM transmitter because my car is old enough that the radio in it doesn’t even have an AUX input. I listen at work during the walks I try to take several times each day. I listen at other random times when I need to shift my focus away from work or anything else. I don’t watch a ton of TV these days and I’m not reading as much as I used to or would like, so I listen to podcasts.
I organize the podcasts I listen to into playlists based on categories that make sense to me. In this post I’ll cover the first category – Apple or Mac-Related.
Mac Power Users
Mac Power Users on the 5by5 network is a hosted by two lawyers, David Sparks and Katie Floyd. I can’t recall why I stumbled across MPU, but I know when I did, I expected to listen to a few minutes and delete the episode. Come on – listening to two lawyers talk about Mac stuff – how interesting could that be? Turns out pretty damned interesting. David and Katie cover a wide range of topics, but what keeps me tuning in is the focus on productivity, automation, Macs in education, the very interesting guests they have on from time to time, and the “Live Shows” they record each month that incorporate user feedback and tips, either read by the hosts or played in audio format. I’m struggling with my own efficiency and productivity these days, and their frequent discussions of the topic and the tools they use to tackle it, including OmniFocus, have helped me as I consider my next moves. Their recent interview with David Allen of Getting Things Done prompted me to get the book and start working through Allen’s introduction to GTD on Lynda.com.
My only recurring gripe about MPU is its length. There was a time when 90+ minute podcasts didn’t bother me, but as I’ve added additional good podcasts to my playlists, I’ve become less tolerant of longer podcasts, especially when most of the time it seems to me, as a listener, that so many podcasts run to 90 minutes or longer because of a lack of focus and a desire to just keep talking. I’ve begun making regular use of the 30 second skip button in Overcast once a host starts rambling. David and Katie don’t ramble much, but I do think their shows could be tighter and more efficient at 60 minutes than 90 minutes.
Speaking of podcast length, Clockwise, now on the Relay FM network, is my new favorite podcast. I discovered it a few weeks ago when the news that IDG had killed the print publication of MacWorld and laid off most of its staff. I’ve followed Jason Snell, former Editor in Chief at MacWorld and other IDG properties, for a while via other podcasts, and heard he was bringing Clockwise to Relay FM, so I gave it a listen. Jason Snell and Dan Moren host the show, and along with two guests, they discuss four topics for no more than five minutes each, and produce a show that lasts no longer than 30 minutes. As far as I’m concerned, that’s close to a perfect formula for a tech podcast.
Clockwise is so good, in fact, that I’ve branched out and started listening to other Jason Snell and Relay FM podcasts, some of which I’ll list below. But it’s also increased my irritation with other podcasts that are just crazy long.
Accidental Tech Podcast
And speaking of crazy long podcasts, ATP is a podcast that is as likely to be removed from my playlist as not in the near future. Hosted by Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa, ATP is a podcast I listen to primarily because I’ve listened to and really enjoyed podcasts 2 of the 3 hosts have done in the past – Build & Analyze (Arment) and Hypercritical (Siracusa). The topics they discuss tend to be Apple-focused in some way, although they touch everything from cars to video games. A recent episode had John Siracusa give one of the best rants about the whole Gamer Gate thing that I’ve heard or read – and if you’re concerned at all about the topic, you should give it a listen.
So why may I remove ATP from my queue? It’s just too long. I like hearing what these guys have to say, but at some point, I have to admit I don’t like it enough to give up almost two hours of my limited listening time to hear it every week.
New Additions to my Mac Stuff Playlist
Once I discovered Clockwise, I basically added several other Relay FM podcasts to my list, both those featuring Jason Snell and others. I tried a few and dropped them, not because they were bad or uninteresting, but simply because I had no connection to those hosts and didn’t want what was still an unproven network in Relay FM to dominate my listening time. I’m listening to two others at this point, and I believe I’ll keep doing so.
Upgrade is hosted by Jason Snell and Myke Hurley and focuses on technology from companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google. I know Jason does other podcasts, but I think of this one as “the Jason show” and even though it pushes past my newly-developed preference for show length of an hour or less, it’s worth it. One aspect I find interesting is that both Jason and Myke are starting businesses of their own, and they discuss how things are different for them now than when they were working for “the Man.”
Inquisitive is an interview show hosted by Myke Hurley. The guests he has on are very interesting, ranging from developers to bloggers to podcasters to “thought leaders” in the Apple space, I guess you’d call them. Recent guests include Merlin Mann, Don McAllister, Shawn Blanc, and Tom Merritt. Myke’s interview style is friendly and laid back, and he creates a casual, compelling conversation with folks who do interesting things.
A Time-Saving Tip
Most modern podcasting apps have a function for speeding up the playback of the podcast. Overcast handles this in two ways. Smart Speed reduces the pauses between words, as I’ve written about previously. It also allows for the direct increase of the speed of the playback, and I run my podcasts at 1.5x-1.6x speed. I use both methods and find that any faster than 1.6x makes the sound a little too fast, not for my ability to understand, but to enjoy. If you’re finding yourself wanting to speed things up, I suggest increasing the speed in 10% increments.
This is post 3 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge