What I got out of this week's podcasts for nerds and geeks:
"TWIT 168: Dirty Pedro" This week's episode proved useful for getting to sleep on Tuesday evening. Otherwise, I might be asking, how do I get this 1:34 hours of my life back? The signal to noise ratio is quite low, despite heroic efforts by John C. Dvorak to keep the discussion focused on technology. The Audible.com ad was mercifully short. Topics: Google/Yahoo, Obama's technology and FCC policy, cameras, keyboards, an argument for aggressive comment moderation on blogs. Released: Nov. 9. Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes
"Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 140." For some reason, podcast ads are often like those old timey 1950s TV ads in which the host held up the box of soap flakes and vouched for the product. This week Seth and Jonathan spend the first few minutes talking about how much they like the Australian comedy "Summer Heights High" on HBO. They segue into the usual oddball topics. Old P.S.A.'s against crack. Murder-free months. An epidemic of falling elderly people. PETA's animatronic elephant. "The Perfect Game," a screenplay based on the true story of a man who dropped dead after bowling a perfect game. Extreme tween makeovers. Root beer float in a can = bad. $400 "Sopranos" box set = too much. Gordon Gekko sues "World of Warcraft." "Uhh Yeah Dude" T-shirts on the way. Supplemental podcast is more about "Summer Heights High." Released: Nov. 8. Length: 1 hour, 2 minutes, with 10-minute supplement..
Maccast 2008.11.09 "Hey Mac Geeks it's time for your Maccast, the show for Mac Geeks and by Mac Geeks..." Despite an annoying habit of often putting the best possible pro-Mac spin on any news, Adam Christianson's weekly podcast from San Diego is a good overview of the latest on Apple products. He spends a lot of time scouring blogs and news sites and invites a lot of tips from listeners. His show notes display on the iPod/iPhone screen as the podcast plays, a great feature that other podcasts should emulate. If you don't have time to read the 10 jillion Applie blogs out there, Adam will usually find the stuff you really want to know about glitches, new releases, new software etc. This week: No new iMacs, Mac browser usage falls, iPhone production down, Macbook trackpad problems, Steve Jobs' email address, Macbook Pro hinge problems, color syncing issues, Mobileme problems, the lack of good iPhone document apps and much more. Chock full of info. Released: Nov. 10. Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes.
"The Totally Rad Show, Episode 86, Bobble Bibble" A bit of a disappointment, since Alex Albrecht had tweeted about seeing the Bond flick "Quantum of Solace." Perhaps that's next week. In any event, this episode is taken up by a discussion of trailers and Pixar movies and the latest World of Warcraft expansion. And they answer questions from readers. As much as I enjoy their take on geek entertainment products, this all felt mailed-in, self-involved and easily skipped. Wish I had, given that video requires me to stare at a computer screen, instead of listening to audio and multitasking on other things. Plus, they haven't updated their site very well, or their blog, in forever. Perhaps this sloppiness is a sign of the troubles at Revision 3. Or an Autumn malaise. Released: Nov. 11. Duration: 58:12 minutes.
Five Tacos and a Taco, Episode 35 "We Built This City on Tac and O" I have tried a few times to listen to these guys. They make an effort to be funny, but the show is a weak imitation of "Uhh Yeah, Dude." It's the morning drive-time zoo without the bad music. The jokes are not delivered with anything resembling wit or skill. One bit that seems like it could have worked: Having listeners call in to decide the next move in one of those create-your-own adventure books for kids. But it was just dull and another excuse for gay jokes. In the end, I unsubscribed and dumped their podcasts in the trash. More hours of my life saved. Released: Nov. 7. Length: 1 hour, 3 minutes.
"MacBreak Weekly 114: Sexy Pancakes" With Leo Laporte, Andy Ihnatko, Jon Gruber, and Jon Rettinger. A lengthy discussion of Veterans Day. Then Leo says news is sparse: "There's really not much to say." Uh-oh. Yet there are nearly two hours to go. Discussion of Blackberry Storm, Macbook trackpads. Delays for Macbook Air. Rumors about a mini upgrade and a TV with Apple TV built in. Yawn. Fast-forward to 25:08 when Gruber joins and discussion turns to insider gossip, the replacement of the podfather Tony Fadell with Mark Papermaster at Apple. Coming soon: iPhone firmware 2.2, with wireless podcast downloads. An extensive discussion of iPhone apps and features. An 8-minute Audible ad, with a Stud Terkel anecdote; the Mac picks start at 1:10:58. Battery packs for iPhones (I use the APC power pack and second Ihnatko's recommendation). Griffin Clarify close-up macro lens for iPhone camera, for shooting product codes and the like. Boxee for Apple TV. Released: Nov. 11. Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes.
"The Sound of Young America: Found Magazine" Jesse Thorn, "America's radio sweetheart," interviews Peter Rothbart, the editor of the excellent Found Magazine, which features notes and tapes and other pieces of found art. This podcast is pretty much what you might have heard on American Public Radio, with an additional, funny song by Mr. Rothbart that was deemed too racy for public radio. (The previous episode is also better than the public radio version: the unedited/uncensored version of Thorn's interview with Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist and podcaster.) Released: Nov. 12. Length: 29:13 minutes.
"You Look Nice Today: Selfish Express" For the first time, the show has guests: the John Hodgman infestation of all media continues (with a bonus appearance by the Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton). Bicycle messenger culture. Bikies. Rolled-up pants leg guy. Join a group to get a slogan. Prius bumper stickers. "The other silent killer." Green offsets for poetry. Reading aloud a poem by Jewel. Hatred of short stories and short films and other short things that annoy audiences and will never make you any money. Working our way out of the recession by writing literary short stories set in the Midwest about failed marriages. Money-making idea: Celebrity mystery train tour. And finally... a business probletunity at the state fair. Released: Nov 13. Length: An ironically nearly twice-as-long-as-usual 52:17 minutes, worth every other second.
Find previous podcast reviews here.