FURTHER UPDATE 2007-07-18: I've posted the newest roundup here: Great Podcast Roundup Turbo: Hyper Fighting Edition

UPDATE 2006-08-05: this is out-of-date! I've posted my new roundup here: Great Podcast Roundup: Championship Edition

Podcasts are still in the early adopter phase. By this I don't mean that they still have lots of room to grow (though there definitely is plenty of room for growth). Neither do I mean that they remain relatively uncommercialized (still blessedly uncommercialized at the time of this writing). What I mean is that there aren't enough podcasts out there to fill my commute every week, so I'm still trying out every new podcast that comes out to fill in the empty space. Like a Freegan, I sift through a lot of garbage.

Quick Review Criteria

Let me begin by stating that I still have very low standards for podcasts. I'm not looking for Hollywood-quality entertainment, and I'm not expecting these podcasts to replace other excellent sources of educational information (like TV! I'm joking).

However, I do have some standards. Anything I listen to must first and foremost not annoy me! Podcasts annoy me with:

  • Overwhelming fatal technical glitches,
  • Topics so abstract or dull their content's inanimate dullness actively aggravates me,
  • Meta-content,
  • Text-to-speech audio. Spoiler alert: someone is actually doing this(!!!).
On the positive end, I tend to enjoy podcasts that
  • Entertain me with humor,
  • Tell me stories,
  • Blow my mind with new perspectives and ideas. Failing that, old ideas repackaged as new ones are ok (I hear that happens a lot anyway).

I'm not interested in every podcast out there. Specifically, I'm looking for audio-only podcasts covering software development, or any content specifically targeting the Microsoft stack of products (yes, I basically mean .NET).

Let's get to it.

Good Shows

If you're strapped for time, I recommend you just download my Suggested Shows file that you can upload into any proper podcasting application. Download a pile of shows and check them out for yourself; dump the ones you hate! Continuing:

This is possibly the best podcast ever—finally someone on the microphone who doesn't waste our time! Scott Hanselman loves developer tools, and this show is his vehicle for the expression of his love—each episode a sonnet written for one lucky program. Sonnets aside, you may find the one thing that changes your life on these shows.
Might as well continue the Carl Franklin streak. DotNetRocks is all about .NET and related technologies, in the perfect blend of infotainment—guest interviews where they shoot the bull and talk about some facet of the .NET stack. Perfect…except Hanselminutes is better.
Short but sweet, each episode is what happens when you take a chapter out of Code Complete and attempt to present the information in ten minutes or less. Sounds risky, but Señor Code Sermon manages to pull it off.
This is highly entertaining and gives a good glimpse into the world of contract web development (I've never lived in that world). Also: you might learn something! But you can't have everything—The hosts are British.
In its infancy, WSSShow (SPSShow? STSShow?) has only three episodes at the time of this writing. I've already learned a ton and am looking forward to more episodes.
In his own words, "you can never have too much Wally." I've had to skip about half the early episodes due to technical issues, but if the sound is working on all ends, it's a lot of fun. Wally also wins the "best intro music award" with this entry: Da da daaaaaa! (click on the play button below)
<!-- update 2007-02-27: the abomination known as an <OBJECT EMBED> tag has been removed -->
Now I'm not saying anything, but if you were to say, download this file (da-da-daaa.mp3 (28.81 KB)) and say, upload it into your fancy cell phone and set it as your custom ringtone…
Funny, relevant and … for whatever reason I'm only awarding it one sheep. Maybe you'll enjoy it more than I do. Update: I swear I love you guys, I swear it.
I can't remember anything from listening to many, many episodes of this show, except that the host's name is Craig. What I'm saying is that this could very well be an excellent show, but I wouldn't know the difference. He's also updating infrequently of late.
I can't recall much of anything about this, except their most recent episode (something about BSD Javascript libraries released by Yahoo). Sorry.
Some meta content, some completely nontechnical content, but when they're good, they're as good as DNR.
Entirely hit or miss. Mostly miss, but some very big hits. The beauty of podcasting is that you can skip the "miss" episodes guilt-free.
Almost identical to Adam Green's Software Stories, except with relatively more misses than hits.
Initially, Doug Kaye hosted interviews with several popular and entertaining influencers (Steve McConnell, Joel Spolsky, Paul Graham and Philip Greenspun come to mind). Now it's "big heap site" with mostly uninteresting, unrelated shows. He still scores a hit every now with conference feeds (Web 2.0 conference, Accelerating Change), but those are rare. The main site feed is an overwhelming flood, and I don't recommend anyone subscribe to it, even if you happen to like most of the shows, which you definitely won't. Anyway, there's some very excellent stuff there, but you should probably go find it the non-syndicated, Web 1.0 way.
Let me state this from the get-go: Cornelius has a European accent. For many of us this is a showstopper; for me it's something to keep me on my toes and listening ("Did he just swallow mid-word? Nope, that was just an exxagerated inflection"). For the subject matter, I think he's done an excellent job; unfortunately for him, you don't receive an extra sheep for effort. Some shows are terribly boring (it's the subject matter)—but his prepared talks are usually good.

The Miss List

Pass on these podcasts until something drastic changes.

Chris Pirillo Show
Totally uninterested in his content. I'm putting this in the 'avoid' list because I mistakenly thought I would be the target audience, not because the show has any major flaws (it doesn't really). I tried out three episodes.
TWiT - This Week in Tech
Again I'm not the audience, but I almost made it through a show. Except they took three minutes of my time discussing what happened to the old TechTV building, which was the last straw. Extremely well produced, and Leo Laporte is an excellent Jay Leno-esque communicator. But I'm not their audience—apparently this targets TechTV fans? One episode.
Software Engineering Radio
When I first saw this show, I thought "this is exactly what I'm looking for!"
Boy was I wrong. Imagine an entire thirty minute interview where the host asks the guest about how many sections there are to a software pattern (e.g. Singleton pattern) definition. It turns out there are 11. Or 8? I think there are competing standards, which they discussed. The point is: they spent absolutely no time discussing the singleton pattern itself (what most of us refer to as "the content" of a software design pattern) and instead focused on the number of sections in the pattern definition (known as "the form" of the design pattern). Have I lost you yet? If you drifted off somewhere in the paragraph above, it's ok--you've in essence experienced what it's like to listen to this show. As for me, I get lost somewhere early on and never return. One episode, though I am still subscribed hoping they will eventually make a show about software engineering.
Almost exact imitation of DotNetRocks, only slightly inferior in every way (fun, wit, audio quality, strlen()) compared to the original. I lasted only one episode.
Academic .NET
Unsolicited advice to operator of abovementioned podcast: please fix your technical issues. Zero episodes I can hear properly.
Software As She's Developed
Here's a paradox for you: I remember absolutely nothing about this podcast, except the fact that I've listened to this podcast. Is that even logically possible? Several episodes (probably parts of five or less).
Nora Denzel's Agility Radio
I think I'm the target audience for this. If so, this isn't working. Maybe I'm not the audience, so maybe this is a good podcast for someone else. Small parts of several episodes.
Lean Six Sigma
I should have known better. One episode.
CMP DevNet Podcast
It turns out the server is somehow hosing the file downloads, or the source files are bad. Zero functioning episodes.
Dan Bricklin's Software Licensing Podcast
I know, I know. He interviewed Joel Spolsky and only has about 4 episodes total, so by averaging he should receive at least one sheep. But go ahead and do yourself a favor: manually download the Spolsky interview, then go ahead and not subscribe to this feed. Unless you're a lawyer. I Am Not A Lawyer, so the lawyer stuff bores me in a way that technical content probably bores lawyers. Here's a random fact: Dan Bricklin created the first computer spreadsheet program, Visicalc. Two episodes (not counting Spolsky interview).
Software Marketing Podcast
Someone may want to verify this, because I'm about to make an outrageous claim. Okay, here we go: I'm pretty sure this person is using a text-to-speech program to create this podcast. Maybe this doesn't need expounding upon, but let me just state for the record: using a text-to-speech program to create a podcast is a really bad idea. One more time: this guy is actually producing an audio podcast using a text-to-speech program. Note to software marketers everywhere: if you're considering making a software marketing podcast, feel free to use a real, human voice. One (incredulous, "Are my ears going insane?") episode.
Dr. A.K. Pradeep on Enterprise Blogging
The subtitle I'd like to use for this is "not even text-to-speech can make an audio blog about enterprise-specific blogging interesting." This isn't a show about blogging. This isn't a show about podcasting. This isn't even a show about the enterprise. This is a show about how, what, when, why, and where to blog in reference to the enterprise, i.e. the place you work. Dr. A.K. Pradeep couldn't care less about the actual content of your enterprise blog; in fact, this show isn't about blogging at all. We're (Dr. A.K. Pradeep and I) interested in how your blogging affects the enterprise.
If you've made it this far in the podcast description, you might have the fortitude to listen to one of his shows; I couldn't bear the thought myself. Zero episodes, though see it on Yahoo's podcast directory every time I cruise for more podcasts, and I have brief nightmares dreaming about what this podcast may sound like. Any nightmares involving consumption of this podcast should count for one episode, and I'm marking it down here as such: one episode. I haven't verified whether or not Dr. A.K. Pradeep is producing this using a text-to-speech program.


Download: OPML file containing all the good shows.

Feel free to leave a comment! Point me to shows I've missed. If you know of one I don't list here, let me know about it!