February 11, 2007

Podcast Top 10

Well it was my intention to be more frequent with this thing but here we are many months later and, well, not much doing. I had intended to post a new year/end of year round up of the best bits of 2006 but it just never happened. Too many other things going on. I will do a software "best bits" at a later date, as I have found a few good utilities that have been a real boon. And for those readers that dont get MacBreak (where I find most of my top tips) I pass on what I learned.

But this post will be about Podcasting. Its proven to be a humongeously popular medium in the short time it has been around and there are seemingly now dozens of shows on every subject matter. So for those of you who have not jumped on the podcasting wave, I will review and list the ten best shows that I can't live without. And I'll finish off with a short-list of shows that fall into the "dont' bother" category. Maybe you are one of the many people who think podcasting is purely for iPods. It's a huge misunderstanding that you need an iPod to enjoy these free shows, borne out of the name of the medium no doubt. It is not true, any computer can download these shows. And whilst an iPod is great for taking your media everywhere you go, there is nothing wrong with leaving them on your home/office machine and enjoying your media there.

The List : Ten Top Podcasts (as recommended by Influxx)
1. TWiT (This Week in Tech) - Audio
I love TWiT as it epitomises everything podcasting should be. High-quality, niche content by respected professionals in its industry. Leo Laporte runs the TWiT network, responsible for many great niche shows, and he hosts TWiT, the flagship show. About an hour in length, it features a round-table of regulars and special guests, who blabber on unrelentlesly about the recent goings on in the technology industry. Always insightful and extremely entertaining, you soon get to feel like you know these guys and you have all been locked in after hours at some basement bar sucking down brandy's and shooting the shit.
Very Highly recommended *****

2. Diggnation - Video/Audio
Hosted by Web2.0 Golden Boy and Digg co-founder Kevin Rose, this weekly show is like visiting a tech frat house. The reparté between Kevin and co-host Alex Albrecht is hilarious and usually pretty x-rated. They are rarely sober, often shooting off-topic but always, always entertaining. They (alegedly) cover some of the top news stories posted on Digg, recommend beer, expose personal misadventures amongst other random shenanigans.
Very Highly Recommended *****

3. CreativeCOW AfterEffects Tutorials - Video
Hosted by Ahahron Rabinowitz, this quick but very helpful podcast offers users of Adobe AfterEffects tips and productivity tricks. The information is always on track and Aharon's style is really accessible. He manages to keep the pace moving without skipping steps, good for beginners and pro's alike. Nothing in this show is wasteful, everything can be used in day to day AE usage.
Highly Recommended *****

4. This Week In Media - Audio
With FX meister Alex Lindsay (PixelCorps/DVGarage) at the helm, TWiM looks at the issues facing content creators, producers and media professionals. In a similar roundtable of regulars format, the panel discuss the technology, tools and distribution of digital content in the 21st Century. They tend to waffle on down ratholes and off at tangents, but it makes for great listening. Very witty, insightful and mostly relevant with more of a geek bent.
Well Recommended ****

5. MacBreak Weekly - Audio
Leo and his TWiT army are also responsible for this Apple focused show. This weekly roundtable of eccentric, crackpot Mac-o-philes is less informative than other TWiT shows, but more relaxed, freeform and offbeat. In a Mac sort of way. Covering all the Apple news of the week, which usually revolves around the iPhone, the panel spotlight new software and hardware breakthroughs. If you can bare with Merlin Mann's monopolizing A.D.D. rantings the show is always worth a listen through to the end.
Moderately Recommended ***

6. MacBreak - Video
Again, from the PixelCorps fold, hosted by an assortment of Leo Laporte cohorts and indusrty experts. They showcase a different Mac application or technology in quick and easy over the shoulder lessons. Nothing is terribly in depth, but the show is kept short and the guests are always expert enough to whet your appetite. From there you are invited to investigate further through hyperlinked lower-thirds. Shot and delivered in beautiful 1080p HiDef.
Highly Recommended ****

7. The Mac Observers Mac Geek Gab - Audio
Another in the style of informative yet entertaining geekery. Dave Hamilton and John Braun blab and gab at length about all things Mac Technology. Offering esoteric networking tips and answering listener questions, the MGG has helped me figure out ways to keep my Mac running smoothly or fix it when it doesn't. The banter between Dave and John is light and friendly, but still pretty polished. These guys know thier stuff.
Well Recommended ***

8. CommandN - Video
Web2.0 darling and internet socialite Amber Macarthur presents the latest in web news, gossip and tips in this weekly show. It has a more homegrown flavor than some of the others here, and that is definitely part of its charm. Shot in various locations around the city of Toronto, it always looks fresh and AmberMac and her motley crew of Canadian web geeks have a friendly and accessible manner.
Well Recommended ****

9. NYUB (Not Your Usual Bollocks) - Audio<
One of a few music podcasts out there I subscribe to, this one is easily my favourite. Brought to you by MK, an Aussie DJ in London, this hour long monthly show features some of the greatest unsigned and independant music out on the ether. Focussing mainly on dance, electronica and indie genres there is always something cool and new you won't hear anywhere else. If you like finding new artists to listen to, you will find plenty here.
Very Highly Recommended *****

10. CNET Buzz Out Loud - Audio
This show, of indeterminent length, comes at you every day. Thats a lot of content to digest certainly, but it is the kind of show you can pick up every-so-often when you need it. Hosted by Tom Merritt, Molly Wood and Veronica Belmont host this, one of several tech-focussed shows under the c|net umbrella. Dispite its daily schedule the chirpy hosts are never short of something to say, commenting on web, technology, consumer electronics, gaming - the gamut of geekery.
Highly Recommended ****

The Short List
Other shows I listen to regularly that did not make the Top 10 but are worthy of a mention

The VFX Show - Visual Effects artists review and breakdown a Hollywood effects feature film
The Merlin Show - The omnipresent Merlin Mann interviews some interesting subjects
XLR8R - Cool dance grooves remixed from techno mag XLR8R
Ravegression - Remixed DJ sets, the rave without the field
CreativeCOW Serious FX - Andrew Kramer's sporadic AfterEffects tutorials
KCRW Presents - A multitude of radio shows to listen to at my convenience
Media Artist Secrets - Once-great show no longer updated covers the business side of creativity
DV Gear - Quick but insightful hand-on product reviews of video related equipment
Ask A Niinja - Popular comedy skit involves advice given by a Ninja of indistinguishable origin
Ricky Gervais - The Guardian-hosted original series (now a CD) is priceless comedy

The Scratch List
Shows I have listened to that I honestly can't reccomend for one reason or another. They are too long, off topic, poorly recorded or poorly hosted.

Photoshop TV - Way too much poor comedy and idle banter between the useful bits
Photoshop Killer Tips - Way too much self-promotion, like one big commercial
MacCast - Adam Christiansen repeats too much of what you've already heard elswhere
GeekBriefTV - Cali Lewis the same news MacCast does, more of the same
ExtraLife Radio - Pointless waffle from unengaging hosts, I don't get the hype
Daily Source Code - Adam Curry is just way too full of himself

Well there you have it. By no means definitive. I'm discovering new shows all the time, and the time required to consume them is getting very thin. To find your fave podcasts, and to rate them, a good place to start is the Digg podcast page.

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