In an earlier post, I suggested podcasts as a good way to acquire knowledge during down time, but the knowledge acquired is different from that acquired during coding or study. I don’t expect to learn a lot of syntax from podcasts, for example. If a show starts saying “new line, public class Foo, new line, open curly brace…” I’ll probably stop listening. But there are a few things to learn from podcasts that really help:
- The existence of language features: C# 6.0 has string interpolation? I won’t learn the syntax from the podcast, but I did learn that I should go look up the syntax.
- Names for things: Listening to a podcast (as long as you’re not driving) is a great time to look up terms you don’t know.
- Who people are: did some brilliant programmer get interviewed on a podcast? Maybe you can go to his or her blog. Maybe there’s a Github project you can go to and actually read code that this interview-worthy person wrote.
- What kinds of problems other people are solving: Somebody built a server that lets you monitor performance of web apps? I guess that means monitoring performance of web apps is a thing people do. Now I know. Troy Hunt is yelling at us to prevent sql injection for the 1000th time? I guess that’s a thing to worry about.
Software development is an iterative field. We build on other people’s successes, and learn from their mistakes. Very often, a new technique or new language is built to fix specific problems with existing technology. Hearing about new technology is therefore particularly instructive.
Enough banter. Here are three podcasts I listen to every chance I get:
(These are in increasing order of how much computer science is needed for them to make sense.)
1. .NET Rocks!
This might be the longest running software podcast ever. They’ll probably break show 1300 by the time this post publishes. They do a fantastic job exposing new technology and interviewing compelling speakers. Also, since one of their hosts runs a recording studio, they never have any audio problems. (Well, they never have any audience-visible audio problems, which is the same thing.)
I think I could fill this post with a list of technologies that I found out about just by listening to .NET Rocks at the gym or on my commute. They originally covered mostly .NET (hence the name) but they have since branched out into covering all manner of different things. I feel like I can stay fairly current with software development developments (ha!) just by listening to this show.
This podcast consists of three or four experienced developers talking shop. Ironically, it’s probably a little bit more .NET-focused than .NET Rocks is, but it’s also a little more programmer focused. The content of most episodes is the day to day work of programming. I only discovered this podcast a month or so ago. So far, soft skills and news are mentioned but not emphasized. Mostly programmers talk shop.
For example, in a recent episode, they discussed test-driven development. They all had war stories about times automating testing had helped or failed, and none of it was theoretical. These are experienced programmers talking about what did and didn’t work on real projects.I can’t recommend this podcast enough.
I am always looking for a chance to talk shop with more experienced developers. The static void podcasts give me the chance at least to eavesdrop on such conversations regularly.
Software Engineering radio is a little bit more computer science-y than the other podcasts on this list. I once saw a job listing that said, “Software Engineer, emphasis on engineer.” That job listing could describe every guest (and host) that I’ve ever heard on Software Engineering radio.
For example, they did an interview about Java garbage collector optimizations. It was a fantastic interview, and very interesting, but it was more technical and lower level than most episodes of say, .NET Rocks or Static Void.
Do you have a favorite programming podcast? Please post it in the comments.
Till next week, happy learning!