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 Pen Addict
They 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.
They 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
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: 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.
They 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.
They 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.
They 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.
They 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.
They 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.
They 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.
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.