Podcasts

Never Walk Alone: PC and Podcasts (Part 1)

Throughout my life, I have found that there are often times when I am alone. As a Long Islander, long commutes were common. I thought most of the content on the radio was crap, so when I got my first iPod, it was an epiphany.

Previously, I had discovered podcasts through iTunes. Now, I had a way to take that content with me, no matter where I was. There was a wide assortment of topics to choose from, and some of it was high quality.

Finally, my geek niche was being filled and I was hooked for life. Many years have passed since that time, but what has not changed is how much enjoyment I get from podcasts.

I want to take you through my podcast setup and review my current, favorite shows. I hope you find something you enjoy.

The Podcatchers

These days, I am mostly on iOS, but I still favor apps that do not lock in their users. Back when I was on Android, I came to appreciate Shifty Jelly's Pocket Casts.

For me, the key feature of Pocket Casts is its ubiquity. I can access my podcasts on whatever device I am using, and my content and playback locations are saved through Pocket Casts Sync.

At present, they have apps for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone. Importantly, they have a web interface, which is a great feature, in case you do not have one of your devices with you at the moment.

I am not sure why else I like this app so much. The interface is clean and the search directory makes it easy to discover new content. Also, the app has all the customization and playback options you would expect from a modern podcatcher, along with some cool, little touches.

Pocket Casts

For example, when you are playing back a podcast, the app interface dynamically changes its hue to take on the colors of the podcast show's logo. This is not a new feature, but I still find it nifty after all these years.

For my digital life, being able to be productive without an Internet connection is becoming increasingly important, and the Pocket Casts web interface cannot accommodate this. So, on OS X, I also use an application called Downcast.

My podcast choices do not often change, so I have simply exported my subscriptions from Pocket Casts and imported them into Downcast. In Downcast, I only keep video-based podcasts, and I set the application to automatically download the latest episodes and remove everything else.

This way, when I am on the go, I am most likely going to have the latest episodes of my favorite shows downloaded to my Mac. No buffering errors here!

The Shows

Over 10 years ago, I stopped watching television. Long before then, I knew there was something wrong with this medium. Yet, for me, there were no viable alternatives. The Internet changed that, and, to this day, I struggle to understand why someone would defend television.

By the time I was 10, I was exposed to enough ads to last me a lifetime. Going to school and learning how the marketing industry and their industrial psychologists use science to make their manipulations even more effective did not help.

Even now, it still gets to me, albeit indirectly (can you turn that down a little Gramps!). Regardless, through the Internet, podcasts, and devices like iPhones, I have access to high quality content that never leaves my side.

Video Podcasts

In my opinion, the epitome of quality content has always been Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech network. Primarily, I consume his content as video podcasts through the previously mentioned Downcast. Basically, this serves as my television replacement.

Leo Laporte

The shows I find the most interesting differ from year to year. I think this simply reflects who in the industry is doing the most interesting work. In the past, This Week in Google seemed preeminent. In my opinion, MacBreak Weekly now holds that position.

Other current favorites include:

Audio Podcasts

Next up is audio podcasts, and the past few years have seen the rise of alternative, high-quality networks, including Relay FM and The Incomparable.

Connected

On Relay FM, my number one favorite podcast is Connected with Federico Viticci. There are other great Apple pundits, but Viticci's enthusiasm, thoroughness, and penchant for sick iOS workflows is peerless.

When I feel myself becoming an old and jaded tech guy, Viticci is there to remind me of why I fell in love with tech in the first place. Check out Federico's video game-focused Remaster podcast for more Viticci goodness.

Canvas

Federico's new Canvas podcast with Fraser Speirs may end up becoming his number one show. Keep an eye out on this one, kiddos. Workflows for life!

Then, there are the Snellcasts. I am a huge Jason Snell fan, and there are several Relay FM shows that are Snell-focused. My favorite is Clockwise. Often, I find that some tech podcasts go on way too long. It is refreshing to have a show that is dedicated to delivering high-quality content with a 30 minute cap.

Liftoff

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that, like many geeks, I love space and space-related topics. So, I was thrilled to see that Snell had a space-focused show called Liftoff, where he and Stephen Hackett share their love of the stars in terms that anyone can understand. The show has an awesome intro tune, as well.

I love Clockwise, but sometimes, 30 minutes of tech-focused Snell is not enough. If you feel the same way, give Upgrade a try.

No week is complete without a Merlin Mann and John Siracusa fix. They have shows with other geek luminaries, but imagine what would happen if you brought them together. Reconcilable Differences makes that dream come true.

Reconcilable Differences

If you want a little taste of the magic they are capable of, give this episode a shot.

Next

There are still a few more great shows and tips I want to share, so stay tuned for more podcasting goodness.

Paul Ciano

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