The Reckoner Podcast Hits 100

It is no secret I listen to the odd podcast, and one of my favourites chalked up episode number 100 last night, and a hearty congratulations is in order. The Reckoner podcast provides a great weekly roundup of Australian technology news, and lasts the length of my commute, and at just under an hour – is the perfect length for a podcast.

Regulars Peter Wells, James Croft, and Anthony Agius are frequently joined by rotating guest hosts, and serve up a weekly dose of tech-based fact, opinion and humour. What I like most about Reckoner (both the podcast and website), is that topics and discussion are current and highly relevant to the tech goings on locally here in Australia. Admittedly, technology these days is a global entity, however regional differences continue to exist, and sometimes local relevance is lost if you usually follow a diet of overseas based shows.

Having been an avid listener since around episode twenty-something, I’m grateful my Monday morning commute is accompanied by a brief football roundup followed by an entertaining show, week after week. Here’s to another couple of hundred episodes, by which time I might have actually worked out how to implement one of Anthony Agius schemes for obtaining about half a decade’s worth of free Netflix – if government legislation or a T&C clause doesn’t stop him first.

So if you have at least a passing interest in Australian tech news, Reckoner is certainly worth an hour of your time once a week. Believe me – your Monday mornings will thank you.


Podcasts I’d Burn Data For

Before a recent overnight business trip, I was running through my usual packing list to check all was in order, and upon planning my usual in-flight entertainment options, began thinking about the podcasts I cannot do without these days. Of course the episodes load automatically on our home network, however the timing of the particular trip in question would see certain shows releasing new episodes after I had left.

The mobile data plan on my iPhone is what I would call adequate, though not excessively large, and I usually avoid downloading podcasts or running app updates and the like when not on a network conserve some of my data (hardly urgent downloads in any event). However sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps that is overstating things just a little, however when away from home, Face Time and phone calls are —absolutely fantastic, however there is also nothing like having familiar voices fill the remaining void of silence in a solo-business-trip hotel room.

So just what are the podcasts I’d happily burn data for? In no particular order (except number 1 perhaps), the following are my favourites.

The Podcasts

The Pen Addict

broadcast_thumbnail_penaddict_artworkThey say: The Pen Addict is a weekly fix for all things stationery. Pens, pencils, paper, ink — you name it, and Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley are into it. Join as they geek out over the analog tools they love so dearly.

I say: What more is there to say really? All about pens and other related goodness every week. Definitely my favourite, and still going strong after 160 episodes. I’ve been religiously listening since about episode 34.

Try it if: Pen, pencils and paper are either a keen interest, or downright obsession for you. Wallet be damned.

Lore

cover170x170They say: Lore is a bi-weekly podcast about true life scary stories. The people, places, and things of our darkest nightmares all have real facts at their core. Each episode of Lore looks into a uniquely scary tale and uncovers the truth behind it.

Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.

I say: This is just fantastic entertainment. A really well produced podcast which highlights the creepier parts of true stories, with some legend, intrigue and folklore thrown in for good measure. My sister would really love this.

Try it if: You love those ghost stories people tell around camp fires at night.

Mac Power Users

broadcast_thumbnail_mpu_artworkThey say: Learn about getting the most from your Apple technology with focused topics and workflow guests. Creating Mac Power Users, one geek at a time since 2009.

I say: Although I’m not a power user myself, I have always subscribed to the adage that the only way to really learn is from those smarter than yourself. When it comes to Macs, both hosts and the many and varied guests fit the bill nicely. The best part about MPU is the way it covers everyday situations in a very practical and understandable way. Yes, there are other tech podcasts out there, however some are simply too geeky for me to understand. On a side note MPU also has your iOS devices more than covered was well.

Try it if: You love your Apple products, and desire some new and slightly nerdy ways to get the most out of them.

Covered

covered_show_artThey say: A conversation about books with the people who write them.

I say: Whilst the episodes can be a little irregular, that is not a concern to me. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Covered is listening not only to authors recounting their writing process, but reading from their own work as well.

Try it if: You have a keen interest in reading and writing, and would enjoy hearing how those who are very successful at that very thing, get it done.

Connected

broadcast_thumbnail_connected_artworkThey say: Connected is a weekly panel discussion on Apple and the impact of technology on our lives. With each co-host having a unique background — and accent — Connected provides a perspective that no other show can.

I say: As well as very diverse cultural backgrounds, the hosts also have very different perspectives and requirements around their technology usage, which leads to some lively discussion and analysis. Tech based — yes, however again pitched at a level that is enjoyable and understandable for a wide cross section of listener tech ability.

Try it if: You love your Apple products, and are keen to hear more on how they influence our lives from a technological, cultural, and at times philosophically nerd-ball perspective.

Dot Grid

FullSizeRender 15They say: (about The Nerd Uprising network): We think things are AWESOME, and we let it show. We’re all some kind of nerd. It’s time to own it. Dot Grid explores the intersection between the analog and digital tools we use.

I say: With those podcasts listed above largely based on technology and analogue pursuits, of course there must be one combining both. This is where Dot Grid steps in and fills the void very nicely. Some great interviews with talented individuals, whose work indeed encompasses both spheres of the analogue and digital — with a healthy dose of the creative thrown in.

Try it if: Bits and pieces from each of the above items in this list speaks to you in some way.

Cortex

broadcast_thumbnail_cortex_artworkThey say: Myke Hurley is fascinated by the methods and tricks that CGP Grey uses to get his work done. Each week on Cortex, Myke will quiz Grey on how he remains productive, whilst producing YouTube videos that are seen by millions of people.

I say: New on the scene, and slated for an initial run of ten episodes, which I hope is just the beginning. Thankfully, not just another “productivity” podcast. Some real gems here, for example going from start to finish producing and uploading a You Tube video, or a somewhat humorous debate on the merits of various iPhone homescreen set ups.

Try it if: (a) You enjoy hearing about various aspects of productivity in a unique way, with very cut and dried opinion on what does and does not work in an area of great interest to many; and (b) you don’t mind going off and rearranging your iPhone home screen after listening to that episode.

Reckoner

podcast-art-205x145They say: We talk over the Australian technology culture news of the week with a rotating cast of hosts.

I say: For me, every working week starts with Reckoner. Hitting the airwaves every Sunday night, Monday morning’s commute to work is made that much easier with the accompaniment of these guys. Covering technology in general with an Aussie focus, a great bunch of hosts with topics to match.

Try it if: You enjoy discussion around technology, yet understand a local viewpoint on things such as metadata retention and website blocking legislation is as important — probably more so — as how you use the glances feature on your Apple Watch.

Tamper Tantrum

tt_iTunesAudio_1400x1400They say: Now hailed as “one of the world’s premier platforms for coffee bickering, brainstorming, and live speaking engagements,” Tamper Tantrum is delighted to bring an inspiring speakers to live & online audiences around the world.

I say: Again, with reference to my sentiments about MPU above, there are many aspects of the TT podcast which a heavily industry focused. Again, however, I’ve found this to be a great way to learn what those within the industry are talking about.

Try it if: As an outsider, the specialty coffee industry interests you. If you work in the industry you are most likely not reading this blog, and certainly would not need me to tell you about this podcast.

My app of choice

If you were wondering (and are at all interested), I listen to the above shows on Overcast, a podcast app released about 12 months ago. There are many great independent podcast apps on the market, or of course there is also Apple’s default option. Overcast does have some specific features, however in general it is well thought out, attractive and easy to use, and I have not been tempted to move to (or back to) any of the others which are available. Overcast also has an iPad app and can be used in a web browser, syncing your current play position on both if you are logged into your Overcast account. I must admit to using neither, as my iPhone is the simplest and easiest way to listen to podcasts.

Overcast’s Smart Speed feature tells me I been saved 25 hours in listening time beyond speed adjustments alone (Smart Speed works by cutting out the periods of silence in a podcast, reducing by a small amount the overall time taken to listen to an episode). Given the above list only contains the essentials, making the most of my available listening time is important. Using Smart Speed allows me to avoid bumping the speed up to unlistenable levels (now 1.25x at most; 1.5x plus in the past), yet still feel I am getting ahead a little in my queue. With upwards to 20 shows in my queue (although I often cherry pick episodes from the shows I do not auto download), any help clearing the list is welcome.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. My current favourite podcasts — which I would happily sacrifice cellular data for. Familiar voices speaking on topics I am passionate about, and listening to them brings me considerable joy while I learn a heck of a lot along the way. Podcasts are a fantastic medium, bringing entertainment, education and inspiration to a large number of listeners around the world.

If you haven’t dived in yet, I’d suggest downloading a podcasting app of your choice, subscribing to some shows and seeing where they take you — at whatever speed that might be.


Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web by those far wiser than myself:

A little more digital than analogue this week, perhaps I’ve caught September fever

The Newsprint
I wrote some of my thoughts on the iOS note taking app Vesper a little while ago, however here’s a better review with some beautiful photos to match:
Vesper

The Sweet Setup
I found this tip to be quite helpful if you have a desire to get rid if those pesky contact suggestions showing up in Messages – particularly those you have already deleted from your Contacts:
Quick Tip: Clear unwanted contacts from Messages

Macstories
Dispatch is my iPhone email app of choice at the moment, and though I don’t use many of the app integrations, the few I do certainly are handy. Federico Viticci outlines some new features added in the recent 2.1 update:
Dispatch 2.1 Adds “Export as PDF”, Bulk Edit, More App Integrations

While at Macstories, well worth a look is the updated guide to iOS automation using Launch Center Pro. Sure, I don’t use even half of the actions, though for reference, nothing beats this guide by Alex Guyot, or @The_Axx to his Twitter peeps:
Automating iOS: A Comprehensive and Updated Guide to Launch Center Pro

Scribomechanica
A pen and pencil blog I have recently come across, and having received my own Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen (which I m loving) from Jet Pens in the mail last week, a timely review:
Pilot Metropolitan M nib Fountain Pen Review

Relay FM
The triumphant return of Myke Hurley’s voice to the podcasting airwaves. Whilst many of the faithful have eagerly awaited this new joint venture by Hurley and Steven Hackett, if you are considering delving into the fascinating and entertaining world of podcasts yourself, this is the place to start.

With topics ranging from Apple to pens and paper, Relay FM brings together some of the most influential — and unique — voices on the Internet together to create powerful content, each and every week.

Being a bit of a pen nerd, my favourite of course is The Pen Addict, though my subscription runs the gamut of every show on the network. Browse the shows and have a listen – you won’t be sorry.
Relay FM

Nock Co. Kickstarter Project

Many pen-obsessed folk similar to myself have been waiting for the day to arrive when Nock Co. launch their Kickstarter campaign seeking funding to manufacture a series of high quality nylon pen cases. The project is now live – so get cracking!

Images: Nock Co. Kickstarter page
Images: Nock Co. Kickstarter page

In a post published on this blog back in June about my four favourite podcasts, you may recall The Pen Addict with Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley was an inclusion in this list. For those who listen to the podcast, read the Pen Addict blog, or follow Brad on Twitter, the launch of this Kickstarter campaign will come as no surprise, however the email advising of the start to the campaign was a most welcome arrival in my inbox.

Brad has teamed up with Jeffrey Bruckwicki of Old Fourth Tailoring to design and manufacture pen cases (all hand-made in the USA), and in a nice touch, we see notebook case integration into some of the designs as well. The two appear to be a great fit (pardon the tailoring pun), and have created some fantastic designs (those pictured above are just two of many available) which you really should check out for yourself, as any attempt at describing the products to you in words will not do the cases justice. Depending on the model, the cases are either lined or unlined, and come in some cool launch colours (including a limited edition colour on a particular model that will only be available through this launch project).

You needn’t take my word for it that many are interested, with the $5000 funding goal being met within the first hour, and (at the time of writing) the project now supported to the tune of over $27,000, the numbers speak for themselves. All bar one ($25) of the 10 funding levels are still open, with 28 days left to run in the campaign. I understand the money raised will be used for additional manufacturing equipment which bodes well for the company in the longer term.

Enough from me – go check out Nock Co. on Kickstarter and be sure to watch the video outlining the project.

What’s that? Oh yes…sorry – my backing? That would be “All the Cases” at $75.00 (which is a steal for what you will receive). Told you I had been waiting for this day.

Podcasts

dept4 x 4

dept4 x 4 is a new category of posts, which will be a recurring series outlining my four favourite, best, most useful, or most used items in a particular area of interest. These may include products, services, sites, apps, books…you get the picture. Whenever I post a list of this nature, it will unsurprisingly contain four items, generally in no particular order, though I am sure there is a thesis somewhere proving even a random list contains some sort of hierarchy.

Hopefully these lists may prompt you to view, listen, read, test, try or otherwise “have a crack” at some of the suggestions. I believe the greatest power of the internet lies in the discovery of the new and untried, which may ultimately provide you with an opportunity to learn, or in some way improve on how you do things. Granted, you can also waste a lot of time as well, but sometimes the search (within reason) and discovery is half the fun.

Remember of course there will be many more items in a particular category I have not seen nor heard of, and the lists will be updated over time and with new discoveries, though as always we have to start somewhere. So let’s kick things off……

dept4 x 4 – Podcasts

In this post, we take a look at my four favourite podcasts, however first a little background.

My app of choice for podcast listening is Downcast, and has been for some time. I have also previously used Instacast, which is a great app and has seen some updates since my last use. The reason for my change being at the time of switching, Downcast was also available for the iPad (though I see on the App Store Instacast is now a universal app), however the number of podcasts I have listened to on my iPad number approximately…..zero. Despite this, I have not had a reason to switch back, and have continued with Downcast. I cannot comment on the Apple podcast app having never used it, though have not heard overly positive feedback, so personally I would go with one of the excellent third-party applications.

Some of the shows listed below originally began their existence on Myke Hurley’s 70Decibels network, which has this year joined the larger 5By5 network, run by Dan Benjamin. The change has been a smooth one (from a listener perspective at least), and I assume will provide improved infrastructure and resources for these shows to allow a greater focus on content, which can only be a good thing.

In no particular order, here are my current favourite Podcasts…

(Click the show name links for much more information on the shows and their hosts)

1. The Prompt

Photo 23-06-13 7 52 36 AM

They say: A weekly panel discussion on technology, and the culture surrounding Apple and related companies.

I say: The “UN General Assembly of Podcasting”. Spanning three countries, a trio of hosts (Myke Hurley, Stephen Hackett, Federico Viticci) discussing technology in a way that is interesting for someone such as myself, whom I consider has a ‘keen interest’ in Apple related technology, but is far from ‘tech geek’ stature in terms of ability. A transition from Stephen and Myke’s previous 512 Podcast on the 70 Decibels network. Worth it for Federico’s sublime accent? Probably yes, but as always content is king.

At the time of writing, is number three in tech podcasts in the Australian iTunes Store, having reached number one in the UK. The new format is only 1 episode old, but trust me, there are great things coming here.

2. Back to Work

Photo 23-06-13 7 25 44 AM

They say: Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

I say: After almost 10 years of online interaction, and some 122 episodes of B2W, hosts Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann recently met for the first time and recorded episode 123 ‘in the flesh’. A good deal of humour and effortless banter ensure this has the feeling of just sitting around listening to a couple of mates have a chat. What you will walk away with however are some fantastic insights into managing some of the daily struggles of ‘corporate stoogedom’ and some strategies to more successfully navigate the mire.

Some great messages, delivered in some of the most uniquely entertaining ways. My recommendation? Give it a few episodes to get yourself in the groove – you won’t be sorry, because the first half hour or so from each episode is exactly what people tune in for.

3. Mac Power Users

Photo 23-06-13 7 52 20 AM

They say: Learn about getting the most from your Apple technology with focused topics and workflow guests. Creating Mac Power Users, one geek at a time since 2009.

I say: As someone with a keen interest in Apple related technology, I am always looking for guidance and helpful hints in getting the most out of my digital devices. You may consider this a strange entrant in a list created by someone who actually doesn’t own a mac (yet), however the mix of guests and topics covered (often relating to all other ‘iDevices’), are always helpful in providing tips on workflows, shortcuts, efficiencies, and using Apple technologies to overcome many of the barriers (both at work and home) to achieving what you set out to do.

4. The Pen Addict

Photo 23-06-13 7 52 56 AM

They say: Analog tools are often pushed aside in the digital age but The Pen Addict Podcast is bringing them back, front and center. Join Brad Dowdy, aka “The Pen Addict” and Myke Hurley each week as they discuss all things pen and paper.

I say: Worth listening to for Myke’s unique weekly introduction of Brad, which varies each episode. A podcast reaching 59 episodes on items so analog (pens, paper, stationary), that normally rely on look and physical feel to appreciate, must have something going for it – and this one certainly does. Both hosts have a passion for these non-digital tools, and provide thoughtful discussion week after week on both the philosophical and technical aspects of what is featured.

A key aspect often so rare when seeking out pen related content, is that this is far from the expensive pen collector mindset, with 90% (or more), of the discussion related to very affordable items. However, this hasn’t prevented many a listener (or host) from going mail order crazy on some of the items discussed – but really, that’s why we all listen each week.

plus one more that deserves a specific mention:

+1. Mikes on Mikes

Photo 23-06-13 7 54 23 AM

They say: Michael Schechter and Mike Vardy talk technology and time management, parenting and productivity and all things in between during this podcast, all while sipping on their drink of choice for each episode.

I say: This is where it all started for me. Coming fairly late into the whole productivity game, and discovering more through both hosts respective websites, this was my first podcast subscription, and I continue to listen to the two Mikes and their various guests discuss this ‘genre’, for want of a better word. Filled with tips, philosophies and workflow advice, this is indeed a great place to start (and continue), if you are looking at approaches to improve how you work.

Other honourable mentions

In Summary

I definitely find the format of a podcast useful in gaining an understanding of a large amount of content in a short period of time. An added advantage is often there will be slight or wholehearted differences in opinion by the hosts and their guests around certain topics, which can further clarify your own thinking on a certain topic, or at least provide the stimulus to seek out more information for yourself to gain a greater understanding.

So, time permitting, check out some of those listed above and see what you think.