This week's installment is the Podcast Zeitgeist of second chances, and probably the last such post for a good long while. I'll continue to listen to a few favorites, but a hiatus is in order. This started as an effort to make some notes about what worked for me as a listener. But it became an exhausting and time-consuming exercise, particularly since I sampled many more hours than I ever wrote about. It was cutting into my Twittering time. At some point I may summarize what I have learned, or not.[See all lists.]

  • Cranky Geeks 150: Big Wig Bailouts As tech podcasts go, this is one of the best, hosted by John C. Dvorak, with Sebastian Rupley of PC Magazine, Chris DiBonaof Google and Jason Cross of Topics: Steve Jobs, Bernie Madoff, the fake Belkin reviews scam, disruptive technology like location apps and more. Dvorak keeps it moving. Good stuff. Running time: 31:40 minutes including several ads. Released: Jan. 21.
  • This Week in Media 123: Guns, Drugs and DVDs</a>. Daisy Whitney, Alex Lindsay and Dr. Kiki Sanford in a meaty discussion of new media technologies like Microsoft's Silverlight and CNN's Photosynth experiment for the Obama inauguration. YouTube music takedown notices. Do you stream or download Web video? Dr. Kiki: Streaming is getting easier, but buffering is still annoying, on the road. Whitney can't be bothered to download and sync video to a device. Beware: Even without DRM, iTunes songs contain your e-mail address. Depressing news from the old media business. Running time: 1 hour 7 minutes. Released: Jan. 20.
  • MacBreak Weekly 124: The Warmth and Saturation of Analog. Scott Bourne plugs his hard-to-remember photo critique site URL. Andy Ihnatko makes the funny. Frederick Van Johnson talks about getting laid off from Adobe. They are also joined by Alex Lindsay and Lisa Bettany. Twit site show notes are getting better. The health of Steve Jobs, again. Record iPhone app downloads (or are those just updates?) See the week's hardware and software picks here, including the very cool-sounding $200 2-gig Livescribe Pen. Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes. Released: Jan. 20.
  • This Week in Tech 179: Retail Therapy Laporte again, with Dr. Kiki, John C. Dvorak, Wil Harris of Channelflip, and Andrew Horowitz. Links discussed are bookmarked on Delicious. Good show, including a discussion of how Monty Python DVD sales shot up after the creation of an official, and free, YouTube channel. (Rathole: Military recruiting ads in movies and direct mail. Laporte says his teenage son gets junk mail: "Have you thought about what you're going to do when you drop out of high school?" Dvorak: "Let's get to some of these news stories.") Twitter raising cash. Foul-mouthed Carol Bartz, new Yahoo CEO, says she will drop-kick anyone who leaks, and then the leaking starts, inculding her breezy memo about "retail therapy." She is mocked. Health of Steve Jobs, again. The story behind Microsoft Songsmith, oy. CNN Photosynth, again. Various Obama tech stories, from Barackberry to and the federal government's tech dark age. Huge traffic at Facebook. Dvorak on how to TiVo the Super Bowl properly and Horowitz on shorting the U.S. economy. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. Released: Jan. 26.
  • Geek Loves Nerd 34: In-Laws The main segment is up front, an improvement over the last time I listened. This married Missouri couple gives advice to listeners about children, relationships and more. As the cute opening song explains, James is the geek and Jenn is the nerd. This week, they give advice about in-laws that I completely endorse as a married person with a child. Best example: Don't discuss your marital problems with your parents. They will naturally side with their own child and carry the grudge long after you have forgiven your spouse and forgotten about it. This is a clean podcast, but a warning: The views of sex roles are a bit stereotypical (men = breadwinners etc.) though perhaps that is intended humorously. Running time: 53:26 minutes. Released: Jan. 23.
  • The 40-Year-Old Boy: Episode 44. O.K., so much for the clean stuff. Here's a second listen from the world of blue podcast humor. Last week, the comedian Mike Schmidt depressed his listeners with an hourlong rant about his weight problems and stomach surgery. Listeners complained. That gives him a launching pad for a funny routine that range from "anonymous artless snark" on the Internet, Kevin Bacon losing his life savings to Bernie Madoff, people who sell meat door to door and more. The three-card monte story is worth hearing. So this is funny. And it's free. But the language is explicit. Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes. Released: Jan. 14.
  • The Futile Podcast: "And the first word was Jesus" "Deconstructing 80’s & 90’s action movies. Relating them to comics, TV, and cartoons from then and now." Well, not quite. They review the first "Dirty Harry" movie, from 1971. Clint Eastwood as Callahan. He's no cartoon Rambo. He's a 70's antihero. It's seven minutes before any dialogue is spoken. The hosts attempt to decipher the politics of the 60s and 70s, with unintentionally humorous results for old people like me. Running time: 52:16 minutes. Released: Jan. 17. "Turns out he was 15 when they shot it." A review of the recent release "The Reader," based on the book. "This movie is about German guilt." What German movie isn't? Not an action film, unless you count sex scenes. I had to tune out at the spoiler alert. Running time: 29:42 minutes. Released: Jan. 21. "That ain't no cop gun Frank." Dirty Harry II: Magnum Force (1973). The franchise goes downhill (I think) but they like it. Nice dialogue on the nature of sequels. The nice thing about the "Dirty Harry" franchise is that it made Clint Eastwood rich enough to make good movies later in his career. Running time: 27:06 minutes. Released: Jan. 21.
  • Vomitus Prime 89: C'Mere and 90: Lovin' Nancyful Another reconsideration. I listened to this podcast back in November, and I was turned off by something or other, which drew some reaction in e-mails and on blogs from fans. Hey, it was my opinion. No accounting for taste. Perhaps I have been influenced by the hours of mediocre podcasts I've scanned -- I haven't even written about most of them -- but I'm ready to revise my opinion. It is foul-mouthed, gross, sick and frequently disgusting, but also funny. The regular hosts, Bill and Will, are entertaining storytellers who remind me of people from my own misspent youth. I say this knowing that they will respect me even less for changing my mind. Oh, well. Explicit language, obviously. They aim to shock. Running times: 1 hour, 26 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes. Release Dates: Jan. 17 and 25.
  • Sick and Wrong Podcasts 157 and 158 So after that, I figured I might as well turn to a podcast that bills itself as the No. 1 Source for Anti-Social Commentary. The first one marks the three-year anniversary of this podcast from Dee Simon and Lance Wackerle, which may be pseudonyms. A lengthy discussion of the police shooting caught on video in the BART and subsequent protests in Wackerle's neighborhood. Phone calls from drunk Australians. They also try to answer the question, why make an amateur podcast that makes no money? Apparently, they hoped to impress women, which has failed. They also interview the host of the fromtheville podcast, which stopped for no apparent reason one day. He doesn't seem to have been doing much. In the more recent episode, Wackerle explains why he bought a gun on inauguration day. And there's something about a kangaroo in Los Angeles. Running times: 1 hour 59 minutes and 1 hour 31 minutes. Released: Jan. 14 and 21.
  • Idiotboxradio 227: My Dad, The Baby! Speaking of Australians, here's one, a really weird and funny one, with a story told in stitched-together recordings of his children saying words and phrases. It's strange. But funny. And strange. The host says: "I think that my kids don't view me as an adult. Looking at it, that belief would have merit. (And before anyone thinks I got my kids to cuss, listen to the editing please...). I have to thank my beautiful girls Ella and Chloe for helping out on this one." Not for children. Running Time: 7:14 minutes. Released: Jan. 19.
  • Uhh Yeah Dude, Episodes 150 and 151 Like their counterparts at "Sick and Wrong," Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli are also celebrating nearly three years and 150+ hours of podcasting (I have been listening to the old shows and have about 30 hours left to go). The highlights of this one: chicken pox parties for children ("worst party ever"), the usual freakish true crime and medical tales, and Seth's story about getting an (unjust) ticket for -- shocking -- not wearing a seatbelt. The big news: They have finally revamped the long-inoperative, with show notes and listener forums. There's even a Wiki. Good on them. And as good a reason as any to quit reviewing podcasts. If most podcasters would put up some show notes or blog posts, and allow for reader discussion, they might be surprised by what happens. I have nothing to say about episode 151, which just dropped, but I am hitting publish and listening now. Looking forward to the part about the dog. Update: the story about rescuing the dog on a fixed-gear bike was great. Running time: 1 hour, 9 minutes. Released: Jan. 19.
  • Welcome to the Podcast Zeitgeist list: presented in apparently random order, at inconsistent intervals, its purpose obscure, its usefulness in doubt, its taste questionable, its methods and motives suspect. [See all lists.]

  • This Week in Tech 177: There's a Little Shatner in All of Us and 178: Call of Doody. I'm catching up here with two episodes. A special guest on the first of these was Star Trek's Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton). Burton held his own as a geek on a panel with Leo Laporte, John C. Dvorak, Ryan Block, and Lisa Bettany. A lot of talk about TVs. (Block: "Plasma TVs are on the way out.") Reviews of the "disappointing" MacWorld Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show. Whether the Palm Pre phone can save Palm (Dvorak: "They're done.") They end with the prospects for another Star Trek movie and a discussion of Geordi's visor. The latest episode, recorded Sunday night, devotes 20 minutes to the news that Steve Jobs is taking a temporary leave from Apple for health reasons, with a focus on news coverage, from Ron Goldman of CNBC to this profanity-laden Gizmodo post. Dvorak predicts that Apple will go into decline in two years. This is followed bya discussion of the Downadup/Conficker worm that infected 9 million Windows computers in four days (download the security updates, people). Laporte is wiggy on this episode ("Conficker? I hardly knew her!"), perhaps because he and panelist Tom Merritt attended a concert the night before by the geek troubadour Jonathan Coulton and the improv duo Paul & Storm. (The "doody" in the podcast title refers to panelist Patrick Norton, who has to change his son's diaper during the show and never returns.) The liquidation of Circuit City. A discussion of digital TV up-converters (Dvorak recommends a model.) Laporte recommends an audiobook: "Predictably Irrational." United Kingdom porn filters are blocking Wikipedia and the Wayback Machine. Are Are Google layoffs and the killing of <a href="">features like Jaiku and Dodgeball a sign of a market bottom? The episode ends with a clip of Coulton's "Mandelbrot Set." Running times: Both 1 hour 20 minutes, give or take a minute. Released: Jan. 11 and 18.
  • MacBreak Weekly 123: The Great London Fire The title is a metaphor from panelist Andy Ihnato. Laporte is also joined by Alex Lindsay. The three agree that MacWorld Expo turnout was low, and the show lacked drama. Could Apple's decision to pull out of the convention anger fans and hurt the company? Can MacWorld survive? David Pogue will give next year's keynote. Ihnatko on what organizer IDG should do: "They should treat this like the Great London Fire.It's not the result that one would have wanted, but when you wipe the slate clean, you get to rebuild this city in the world that exists today... If you were to build a really big conference today, you wouldn't do it like a 1985 trade show." Focus on public areas and community. In another blow, CES is looking to have an Apple-centric area. The big announcement at MacWorld, it turns out, was the end of DRM at the iTunes store, but Leo points out a big drawback to the 30-cent upgrade offer: You have to upgrade ALL your songs, even the lame ones you don't like anymore. Discussion of the iPhone and the Palm Pre. There's agreement that no company will dominate the cellphone market. Politicians switching to Mac: the latest, Mike Huckabee. Hacking PC Netbooks to run Mac OS (in violation of the Mac user agreement, it should be noted). BoingBoing has a chart. Apple seems to be (cracking down, apparently irked by a how-to video on Wired Gadget Lab. Leo mentions that the MacWorld Expo swag bag for presenters included $1,800 worth of gifts. They end with some a robust list of weekly picks. Laporte suggests this external battery solution for iPhone. I'm happy with the APC universal, which doesn't have be attached directly to the phone (it charges iPods and other devices too). Lindsay picks the rubber-covered Rugged LaCie portable hard drive, which I also use, for music. It's versatile, carries a lot of data and takes a pounding. The panel also reviews some portable document scanners. And there is a zen moment from Lindsay, talking about how multiple users burn out Firewire ports: "Computers tend to like to have monogamous relationships. You have a lot of people using them, they tend to fall apart." Running TIme: 1 hour, 10 minutes. Released: Jan. 13
  • "This Week in Media 122: Planned Viewerhood" This week, an interesting discussion about how digital video recorders, video on the Web and similar technology are changing how we watch. Watching a series all at once. Watching sports after the game is over, with fake suspense. No more competing for specific time slots. The viewer chooses. This is all good, but I offer three numbers to consider, the totals in my iTunes podcast subscriptions window: 463 items, 15.8 days, 19.32 gigabytes. That's not counting the regular shows stacked up on the TiVo, and the movies in my Netflix queue. Giving me control over content might mean I never get around to actually consuming it. Another topic: Should online video have closed-captioning for the hearing impaired? Speculation that Apple pulling out of MacWorld was the result of a Steve Jobs tantrum. More MacWorld/CES stuff. I feel like I'm hearing the same conversations over and over on these tech podcasts. May have to cut back. Running time: 58:47 minutes. Released: Jan. 13.

  • The Dinner Party Download, Episode 14 I'm glad these guys are back. The concept: Win your next dinner party. The Icebreaker is another animals-in-a-bar joke. Small talk: President-elect Obama's old car is on eBay, a Chrysler. Burger King PR stunt: Drop 10 Facebook friends, get a free burger. A Sundance-nominated history lesson with booze. Dr. James Bedford is super-cool. He was the first person to be frozen after death. The cocktail is "Death on the Rocks": Champagne, absinthe and ice cubs of fresh blood orange juice. The interview is Lamont Mozier, the Motown songwriter; don't ask him which was his favorite song. The food segment is about Kogi Korean barbecue tacos. It is sold off a truck that broadcasts its location on its blog and on Twitter. Outro song is A.C. Newman's "There Are Maybe 10 or 12..." A big sound, but interesting. Running time: 15:49 minutes. Released: Jan. 16.
  • Christian Comedy Podcast: January Week One With more than 160,00 subscribers, the host Mike Williams says, this is the most-listened-to Christian comedy podcast on iTunes. He starts with a squeaky-voiced imitation of that annoying YouTube kid FredThen we hear a few jokes from the "Stephen Wright of Christian comedy," Pastor Tim Jones, with his "weird mental mind." For example: "Remember, if you're standing next to Dracula in a group photo and you try to give him bunny ears, when the film develops it will just look like you're giving the peace sign... I asked her if she was a model and she smiled, thinking it was because of her beauty. But it was actually because she smelled like plastic and glue." I kind of like that one. There's a comedy song about a fiancee with a bad attitude from the new CD by the duo Bean and Bailey: "Who peed in your cheerios? Only heaven knows... Who got your panties in such a wad?" Ahem. You can fast-forward through the hunting bow ads in the middle. Robert G. Lee, a comedy writer for the kid show "Veggie Tales." tells jokes about rasising kids. For example: "If the Apostle Paul had had teenagers, Christianity would have been nipped in the bud! 'We're going to Corinth again? ...Everywhere you go, you're beaten, you're robbed, you're stoned. Do you have any idea embarrassing that is? Why don't you just write these people?' 'That's not a bad idea, young lady.'" Running time: 17:59 minutes. Released: Jan. 4.
  • Geek Loves Nerd: Teaching Gratefulness James is the geek. Jenn is the nerd. They're married. Their podcast took a holiday hiatus, but now it's back. He also does the Nobody's Listening Podcast, billed as "a clean comedy podcast." He has grown a beard. She thinks it is attractive but the beard sticks in her face when they kiss. They did nine minutes on the beard. Then I started skipping ahead. There was a lengthy discussion about their 11-month-old, their second. I had to bail, and never did hear how to teach a child gratefulness, an important topic. These seem like very nice people. I am not interested in listening to them on a regular basis. This is, no doubt, my own character flaw. Running time: 53:35 minutes. Released: Jan. 9.
  • Uhh Yeah Dude, Episode 149 This is not a clean comedy podcast. This is the pee in the Cheerios. It grows increasingly impossible to summarize what Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli are up to here. There are the usual offbeat topics -- lame celebrities at (Hulk Hogan, Danica Patrick), that Amish heater infomercial, the drunk woman who called 911 on herself, some tots in trouble, an F.B.I. warning about cybergeddon, and a promising ABC hidden-camera show that outs racists, a belated appreciation for George Carlin and disgust with Adam Sandler. But the highlights are the personal rants and anecdotes: Seth about his experiences waiting in a line for a $14 juice, and several items from Jonathan: women who go out with jerks, a true story of martial arts justice from his school days, and a weird encounter in a guitar store. The promised "Uhh Yeah Dude" Web site is not yet online. Length: 1 hour, 11 minutes. Released: Jan. 13, 2009.
  • Smodcast: Smod Bless Us Everyone (70), Way of the Master (71), Hello Dere! (72). So, now that their movie has tanked, the director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier are suddenly back with several episodes of this explicit humor podcast. In the first one they riff on Christmas and how people have trouble remembering their movies. "Making moves only seen in Belize." In "Way of the Master," they discuss the sexual possibilities and risks of staying abroad in youth hostels. The title refers to Kirk Cameron's Christian evangelical Web site, "The Way of the Master," which has a test of how good a person you are. Kevin and Scott take the test, and the discussion gets mighty dark. They also brainstorm a science fiction, the "slaptrack," in which everyone has the godlike power -- once -- to banish another person from this reality. And it's pretty weird. For the most recent, third episode, Mosier is traveling in Vietnam, so Smith is joined by another pal, and they spend a lot of time ragging on a third friend who isn't there and talking about breasts. As always, I enjoy the background soundtrack that is added post-production. I skipped two earlier episodes that were basically the DVD discussion tracks for the film, which I haven't seen yet. Running times: 52 minutes to 1 hour, 5 minutes; released Dec. 24, Jan. 9 and Jan. 16.
  • The Futile Podcast: "It Worked in Cuffs," "It Became Cobra," "It was an Academy Award winning training montage" I'm catching up on this action-movie discussion podcast. First up, "The Spirit." I've been a longtime collector of Will Eisner and his art, and I've been a Spirit fan since I was a kid reading the Warren reprints in the 70s. I've been looking ahead to this movie with dread and anticipation. Now I may just wait for the video. It doesn't sound like the film did a good job capturing Eisner's gloomy comedic world, or perhaps that world just doesn't translate to the screen. The podcasters compare it to the Tim Burton "Batman," "House of Games," and "Rocky and Bullwinkle." A bad trip. "This movie was just strange." Tonal inconsistency and acting problems. There's consensus that the movie failed to pull off breaking of the fourth wall, which they say "worked in 'Kuffs." (I'm pretty sure Eisner invented that technique in comics back in the 40s, but it was a technique he used sparingly.) The futile podcasters digress into a long discussion of sex roles, which was entertaining. The next, short episode is billed as a review of "Beverly Hills Cop," but is mostly a discussion of comedians with a quick recap of Eddie Murphy's career. The third of these podcasts is about Scorsese's "Color of Money," which I probably can't bear to watch again because of Tom Cruise, though this discussion reminded me it wasn't bad. And it made me want to watch "The Hustler" again. Running times: 31 minutes, 11 minutes and 33 minutes. Released: Jan. 4, 8 and 11.
  • The 40-Year-Old Boy: Episode 43. I dropped into this podcast cold, and perhaps earlier episodes wehre better. The Chicago comedian Mike Schmidt (now in L.A.) talks about ... stuff .. while his producer laughs in the background. (She's like a laugh track. I started to suspect she was a recording.) His Web site explains: "While friends his age are taking care of their kids, it’s all Mike can do just to take care of himself. Come listen to the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a modern day Peter Pan: awkward, angry…basically, the kind of guy who would punch you in the face for referring to him as a 'modern day Peter Pan.'" In this episode, Schmidt says he used to weigh "500 pounds" and he got stomach surgery to fix it. He describes some medical particulars in excruciating detail then he tells how he got around the limitations of his surgically altered stomach and gained the weight back. The outro song, "Don't Give Up," by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, lays it on thick and underscores how sad this story is. Great song, though. Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes. Released: Jan. 14.
  • The list this week is tech-heavy and later than usual, mainly because of the "last" MacWorld Expo. {See all lists].

    • MacBreak Weekly 122: Macworld Expo Live from the floor at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Leo Laporte gathered some of his stalwarts, following the last Apple keynote (the company is pulling out of the convention, a fact that seemed to hang over this event with sadness). The discussion focuses on the high points of the keynote presentation from Phil Schiller of Apple: improvements to iMovie editing; new iPhoto features like facial recognition, geo-tagging, and integration with Flickr; the new 17-inch MacBook Pro; and the end of DRM on iTunes. General agreement that Schiller is no Steve Jobs when it comes to giving a speech. Many of the panelists are camera geeks who don't use iPhoto, so they are hoping that some of the features will be ported to Aperture, Apple's high-end photo software. No real picks, though Boxee was plugged; some good show notes are here. I also watched a short 5-minute MacBreak video podcast featuring Merlin Mann pestering people on the convention floor. It was amusing with low information content. Length: 1 hour 9 minutes. Released: Jan. 6.
    • Mac OS Ken: 01.07.2009, 01.08.2009, 01.08.2009 Ken Ray puts out brief roundups of Mac news six days a week. I used to listen to him every morning, but then it got to be just too much information. Still, he does a great job, so I checked back in for his MacWorld coverage. The first episode this week started out with listener predictions for keynote announcements and fan voicemails, then covered the basics from Phil Schiller's presentation of iPhoto, iMovie and so forth. He seems a tad disappointed at the shortage of new hardware this year from Apple. Thursday's episode featured a conversation with Glen Roberts, product manager for HP Media Smart Server, and about how the high-end product was getting by in a struggling economy. It uses Windows home server, so you need a network with both Macs and PCs, but it is Mac-friendly. Ken talks fast and transmits a lot of data, and he's promising more interviews from the show. He admits to be wiped out and jetlagged. Interestingly, he provides better insights and sounds more awake on the rival MacCast (see below). The final episode featured interviews with Microsoft's Mac Business Unit and the CEO of MarketCircle and listeners' voicemail reactions to the Schiller keynote. Many are not happy with Apple pulling the plug on its Expo participation. Length: Ranged from 10 to 20 minutes. Released: Jan. 7, 8, 9.
    • The Mac Observer's Mac Geek Gab 185: Live From the Macworld Expo Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun thought Schiller did a good job with the keynote. They note the auditorium was not full, as it always was for Steve Jobs. An extensive discussion of the technical challenges of covering past keynotes, followed by extensive discussion of how they live-blogged this one. There are several technical interruptions. They get down to business chewing over the same few morsels as other podcasters. Some gripes about the new battery in the 17-inch MacBook, which is not replaceable. They point out that in introducing Tony Bennett, Schiller made a bit of a gaffe, calling the show the "last Macworld Expo." Of course while Apple won't be there next year, the hall is booked. This is a bit of a meandering show with a lot of geeky digressions, but that seems to be part of its charm, as well as the reason I am not a regular listener. Length: 53:38 minutes. Released: Jan 7.
    • The MacCast: Macworld 2009 Keynote Wrapup Adam Christianson discusses his impressions from sitting in the audience at Schiller's keynote. He is joined by his fellow podcasters Victor Cajiao (Typical Mac User) and Ken Ray (Mac OS Ken). Ken points out that Schiller made a point that 3.4 million users per week visit Apple stores, which is 100 times the number of people that the company used to reach at MacWorld Expo. "It was kind of harsh... It wasn't even subtext. It was text: 'We don't need this.'" Victor: "It was hurtful." Adam hopes Macworld continues as a community event in future years. They still give his performance high marks. Face recognition in iPhoto "kind of creepy." Cool aspects of geocoding for sorting. This podcast also has the best explanation of the value of the 99-cent Keynote iphone app. Ken thinks the charge is weird. More complaints about the MacBook battery. Compared to the other Macworld podcasts, this was the clearest and most thorough, and also the calmest, perhaps because it was recorded in a quieter location. Length: 1:32:42 Released: Jan. 7.
    • Typical Mac User Podcast: Macworld Expo Post Keynote Wrapup Victor Cajaio's podcast. I was dreading the thought of listening to another hour and a half discussion of Phil Schiller's presentation, so I was happy to discover that it was identical to the Maccast above. Length: 1:28:35. Released: Jan. 6.
    • This Week in Tech 176: Fat in the MiddleLate in the week, I finally got around to this one, which was recorded before Macworld and the CES consumer technology show, which started on Thursday in Las Vegas, presenting technology fans with a choice. Leo Laporte is joined by John C. Dvorak, Robert Scoble, and the Houston Chronicle tech reporter Dwight Silverman (who said he was skipping Macworld for CES). Laporte blames Twitter and social media for celebrity nerd feuds. They give their predictions, which were mostly on the mark (17-inch MacBook and its non-replaceable battery had both leaked, but the iTunes DRM decision had not). They were rightly skeptical of iPhone Nano rumors. Some discussion of 3D TVs: still too blurry. The value of location-aware laptops.The new Palm Phone and the "fat middle." (Seems like a tough fight ahead for Palm.) On the PC side, discussion of the Windows 7 beta and dead Zune day. At the conferences: The weirdness of being covered by an audience of live-bloggers, heads down, clicking away. Why bother going? It's better to watch the game on TV. They end with an interesting and alarming discussion of remote law enforcement hacking of home computers in England, without a warrant. This somehow segues into Dvorak comparing treatment of Martha Stewart and Bernie Madoff. All entertaining. Length: A manageable 1 hour, 8 minutes. Released: Jan. 4.
    • Net@Night: Fly the Friendly Skies Yes, more from Laporte. He's the undisputed tech-podcast king. This one is a sometimes overlooked gem, featuring Laporte and Amber MacArthur talking about cool sites, viral media and online happenings. A previous episode's interview with Mr. Tweet inspired me to ramp up my twittering (both reading and posting). Robert Scoble was on last week talking about microblogging and the real-time Web. This week, Laporte talks briefly about his Macworld presentation about the crumbling mass media monopoly (not available online). Other topics included layoffs at Livejournal, Facebook Connect, the simple hack and security flaw that upended Twitter on Monday (compromising the accounts of Laporte, Barack Obama, Fox News and others). Tip: Don't use dictionary words for passwords, especially if you're an administrator on a network. The hour also features good discussions and explanations of Blip.FM, a sort of social networking music playlist service, and the indie-music sharing service Amaze.Fm. A brief chat with MrCalzone, developer of the Google slapper (just type where each KEYWORD separated by points represents the search terms the person asking you for information should have Googled). Leo notes that he Friend-ed too many people on Facebook and has no room for his actual friends and family members now joining. (Leo, you can drop me.) The viral video of the week is the Onion's overexposed and only kind of funny spoof video (The MacBook Wheel) and an interview with Micah Mazier, host of the podcast of the week, Lucas County Choppers, featuring four air traffic controllers and their motorcycles. Length: 1 hour, 1 minute. Released: Jan 7.
    • This Week in Media 120: Cotton, Salt and a Bubble Machine and 121: The Good, the Ad and the Ugly More enjoyable new media discussions from a panel led by Daisy Whitney. I'm catching up here. The first of these episodes included a discussion of the Kindle and e-books, YouTube battles and Hulu, and the greatest nude scenes in movies, and it felt a bit like holiday filler. This week's episode is more informative, with a discussion of some recent smart moves by Netflix, part of a trend that ought to worry cable companies. Semantic distinctions matter: Netflix uses the term viewers understand -- "movie rental" -- instead of "pay per view." The Time Warner-Viacom battle. A discussion of iPhone applications, including the translator that was co-host Alex Lindsay's pick last week on MacBreak Weekly. The panel also discusses what works best for a podcast: a strict format or a loose conversation. Consensus: It depends on the target audience, and the host. Does it make sense for a small business like a dry cleaner to have a podcast? Some on the panel think it could work, with the right creative concept. Lindsay: "If it is not seen as something that is impartial, or somewhat impartial, no one will listen..." He's right. Lengths: 56 minutes; and 1 hour, 4 minutes. Released: Dec. 30 and Jan. 6.
    • Uhh Yeah Dude, Episode 148 After all that tech talk, I needed a break. In their explicit comedy podcast, Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli riff this week on dumb laws, cocaine-loving bees, the hazards of third-hand smoke. idiots who shoot guns in the air on New Year's Eve, the world's stupidest bank robber, the Jan. 16 opening of the Notorious B.I.G. biopic and the movie "Mall Cop,," a drunk woman who hit on Jonathan on Christmas Eve, truck antlers, and the oldest person in the world, Gertrude Baines, 114, who lives around the corner. Way back in Episode 112 in April 2008, they described a visit to her at a nearby nursing home, when she was merely the third-oldest person in the world. She outlasted the competition. Seth: "We totally like lamped at her place... and we have pictures to prove this." Length: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Released: Jan. 6.

    There has been a lot of chatter about the podcasting business model, and whether it has been a failure. That talk intensified when a major commercial podcaster, Podango, warned recently that its death seemed to be near. None of this is of concern to me: I leave business models to the money people. My interest is content.I had more free time than usual this week, so the list is longer than usual (in the order I listened). [See all lists.]

  • Grammar Girl 149: Top Five Pet Peeves of 2008 Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) has a business model, or, at least, some regular advertisers and a dedicated audience of grammar enforcers. The top peeves suggested by her listeners: carelessness with language, misuse of "myself," overuse of the word "tapped," the phrase "baby bump," and the use of "slay" as a noun, particularly in New York Daily News headlines. It's an idiosyncratic list, to be sure, but all these targets are worthy of scorn. (I also listened to the slightly less interesting Episode 150, about podcasting a book. I doubt I would ever listen to a book in serialized podcast form.) Length: 8:33 minutes. Released: Dec. 19.
  • Make-It-Green Girl 34: The Story of Stuff A sister podcast to the one from Grammar Girl, with the same "quick and dirty" preaching to the converted. Anna Elzeftaway suggests you stop buying so much stuff and suggests holiday gifts that require no products, packaging or other waste. "Make it special without making a footprint." The smug message grates a bit. Length: 5:06 minutes. Released: Dec. 24.
  • The Futile Podcast: "It's Christmas!" and 2008 in Review Part 1 and Part 2 Some guys sitting around talking about action movies. The Christmas episode focused on the original "Lethal Weapon," with Mel Gibson as a grieving cop with a death wish. I gather it hasn't aged well. What set it apart from the other buddy cop movies of the 1980s was its nihilism. The Gibson character had nothing to lose, while his partner, Danny Glover, close to retirement with a big family, had everything to lose and was indeed "too old for this shit." The sequel was OK but later installments drove this franchise into the ground. Movie buffs may find the two year-in-review episodes of entertaining, with discussions of "Speed Racer," Heath Ledger's final performance in "Dark Knight," "Wall-E"'s sci-fi failures and some picks for best and worst. Lengths: 32 minutes to an hour each. Released: Dec. 23, 27 and 30.
  • Buddhist Geeks 101: Hollow Bones Zen "Seriously Buddhist, Seriously Geeky." The podcast is part of the Personal Life Media family, whichcame up in an earlier installment that touched on podcast ads.. The episode opens with an ad for a meditation gong, an pitch and a request for donations, but then gets down to business with part 2 of a good interview with Jun Po Roshi, a teacher in the Rinzai zen tradition who is the first dharma heir of Eido Shimano Roshi. Part 1 is here. Buddhism is not necessarily a religion, nor is it Japanese, or Chinese or Indian, and translating its practice into western culture is tricky. Key question: what's in your fridge? With a Buddhist knock-knock joke that is amusing if not a knee-slapper. Length: 19:50. Released: Dec. 22.
  • David's Coffee Stains: Crybaby I downloaded a bunch of podcasts with "coffee" in the title this week, given my interest in that particular addiction. It turns out that "coffee" is a fairly popular word in podcast titles for religious and music shows. So I found myself listening to this one from David Porter, an evangelist (yes, the slash seems to be part of the title). He started out with some interesting observations about the economic crisis that could have been mistaken for a Buddhist explanation of compassion and karma, or a liberal critique of the western economy, but it turned into a more traditional sermon with asides about abortion, same-sex marriage and sin. Length: 18:22 minutes. Released: Dec. 13.
  • Your Psychic Connection with Jorianne the Coffee Psychic This is also a radio show, apparently. Jorianne uses coffee and cream to divine the future, as her Web site explains: “My connection to reading coffee psychically began early in my paranormal explorations. I was discussing different methods of divination with my sister-in-law’s cousin, who is Hispanic, and she introduced me to the use of reading coffee this way – which is traditional in Hispanic cultures. Being a ‘coffeeholic’ myself, this seemed a natural for me and was my first attempt at learning how to access information psychically.” Listeners call in for readings. The audio quality is not great. The first caller is Wendy, who has several questions. Jorianne: "When I'm looking the coffee here, Wendy, on the question of your marriage, has it been a little stressful? Because the coffee's going backwards here..." Wendy: "Very." Oh my. Gift certificates available. Length: 55:21 minutes. Released: Dec. 17.
  • Urban Coffee 100: Homecoming Dave and Seth are back. I didn't know they were gone. After taking a year off, this discussion of politics, technology, music and other topics is getting a fresh start on live video and live audio as well as this podcast. I was looking for an actual coffee podcast so I only sampled a bit of this episode and a little of #101, released on Dec. 29. More inside jokes about people I don't know, though the account of identity theft held my interest for a bit. I'll check back on this one. Length: 1 hour, 7 minutes. Released: Dec. 10.
  • Hot Coffee Show, Episode 6: We're Under Attack! "An improv comedy show roller skating through your neurons." They seem to be having a good time, but I didn't find it particularly funny. Maybe it was the material: Hugh Jackman hosting the oscars, the losing Detroit Lions and some kind of musical about cafeteria bullies. There was a lot of hard-to-follow cross-talk. Maybe I'll check back when they get some more episodes under their belts. Length: 21:37 minutes. Released: Dec. 17.
  • WFMU's Coffee 2 Go With Noah An underground podcast of hip-hop demos. I'm not a big hip-hop fan but this isn't half-bad. Also hard to summarize. There was an interesting one from Datin called "Man Vs. Machine" that sampled Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine." Points for originality. Nothing to do with actual coffee. More info at the links from WFMU and Noah Zark. Length: 39:57. Released: Dec 3.
  • Audio Coffee Podcast "The following show may contain traces of nuts." An electronic music mix that started out mostly upbeat, fast-paced, unrecognizable (to me, at least). I shut it off around 1:10 when the music got slow and dreary. Not my thing. Some might enjoy it. Length: 2 hours, 27 minutes. Released: Dec. 7.
  • Bellissimo Coffee Podcast: Barista Exchange Actual podcasts about actual coffee seem to be dying off, (see the CoffeeGeek podcast review last week), and here's another example. Just one episode this year -- this one in March -- after a burst of activity in 2007. This episode promotes the newish Web site, Barista Exchange, discussion forums for professional baristas. I would just go check out that site and skip this episode. Length: 20:09 minutes. Released: March 31, 2008.
  • Coffee Now Podcast This coffee news podcast one started up in a brief burst, came out every two weeks for six episodes, then vanished in June. In this final episode, the host, Jezza Hardin, reveals some "disappointing news" -- that he has lost a piece of his coffee machine. "You realize we are now two podcasters about coffee that do not have coffee machines at home." His friend and co-host Craig replies: "We've got them, but they just don't work." Followed by a discussion of bad baristas and six-month-old headlines (people who roast their own beans at home -- who knew?). Length: 51:36 minutes. Released: June 20, 2008.
  • Coffee Convo 48: Reloaded! Another death in the coffee podcast family. After a year of podcasting, Tony Gettig signed off in November: "What started as a joyful expression of my love for coffee has turned into a taskmaster that I simply cannot live with anymore... Go hop on Barista Exchange or CoffeeGeek. There is more happening on those sites than the Convo could ever provide. Go on, try it, you’ll like it. :) You might even see me on one of those sites. Better still, start your own show." Too bad; this was a fairly well-produced podcast with some knowledgeable discussions and anecdotes by coffee professionals. At this point, I got a little down about the state of coffee podcasts, but I did sample these other defunct ones: the podcast, which ended a long run in March, the Morning Brewcast, an intermittent one with poor audio quality, and something billed as "the Starbucks Podcast" on iTunes that was entirely in German. Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes. Released: Nov. 30.
  • MacBreak Weekly 120 & 121: "And One Less Thing" & "WWPD" If anyone has a business model for podcasting, it is Leo Laporte, and this is a flagship in his tech talk empire. While Laporte has an outside radio gig for income, he has also built a professional, multimedia webcasting operation that attracts advertisers as diverse as Visa, Audible, Drobo, Cachefly and various software makers. I missed listening to the first of these MacBreak shows last week because I was traveling. Alex Lindsay of Pixelcorps took the helm again, from Japan, joined by the tech journalist Andy Ihnatko near Boston, Scott Bourne (who left Podango earlier this year) from Gig Harbor, and the video podcaster Don McAllister from England, all through the miracle of Skype. Much of the discussion focused on Steve Jobs's decision to skip MacWorld this year, and plans by Apple to pull out of the convention altogether starting in 2010. Jobs and Apple no longer want product announcements to be held hostage by the convention schedule, and its artificial deadlines, Ihnatko argues (expanding on this Sun-Times piece.). There's talk of the Jobs succession as well. For episode #121 this week, Laporte returned from France and the host's seat, with the same lineup of panelists. There's more MacWorld advance talk, where MacBreak will be a live podcast. More about Steve Jobs and the ill health rumors. Consensus on the panel is a) skepticism about the rumors, b) none of this is good for MacWorld's future but c) the show is still a good educational program (of course, all these panelists are MacWorld speakers who get free tickets, loaded swag bags or speaking fees). A lengthy discussion of iFart Mobile, the No. 1 iPhone app. The iPhone Nano rumors. Some of the panel's product picks are listed here, including a cool translator iPhone app, Lingolook, pitched by Lindsay in #120. Length: Ranging from a tidy 52:55 minutes then back to Leo's expansive 1 hour, 20 minutes. Released: Dec. 24 and Dec. 30.
  • This Week in Tech 175: Highlights and Lowlifes 2008 More from Leo Laporte. Is podcasting ready for clip shows? I'm not sure it works for something as ephemeral as a tech news show, but that's what this is. I wouldn't really recommend this for anyone not familiar with the topics or the hosts. Leo is clownish, John C. Dvorak is grumpy, Jason Calacanis is full of know-it-all bravado. And so forth. Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes. Released: Dec. 28.
  • Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 147 In the comedy news category, it's back to my old standbys, Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette, who were working overtime before Christmas to get episodes out through the end of the year. This is the last episode of 2008. High points include Jonathan's account of getting a ticket for driving while holding a cellphone, the human nose as a sex organ, a discussion of modern pinball technology, PETA's person of the year and Doc Ellis's no-hitter on LSD. They have 150 more episodes to go before the world ends under the 2012 Mayan prophecy. I saw it in my coffee cup. Seatbelts. Length: 1 hour, 7 minutes. Released: Dec. 29.
  • The mix this week is more culture than tech. Most of the podcasts I sample were off for the holidays, or they had recorded episodes in advance, so I went a little farther afield. [See all lists.]

    Here are more quick takes on podcasts that caught my attention this week, in the order I listened. [See previous lists.]

    • Night of the Living Podcast 122. A cast of men and women discuss all things horror around a table in Cinncinnati. Not that you would know that is their focus for the first 15 minutes or so of the episodes I've heard. They tend to open with off-color, off-topic discussions. For example, this week featured recordings of farts, birthday messages to people you probably don't know and Andy Rooney impressions. Fifteen minutes in, the horror discussion started, with news about VH1's "Scream Queens" reality show, a riff on surviving zombie attacks, an extended negative review for the straight to video flick "Primal," about a killer sasquatch, then some reader voicemails. They crack themselves up a lot, and I'm sure someone finds it fascinating, but I'm not enough of a horror fan to stick with it. Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes. Released: Dec. 14.
    • The Bob Thurman Podcast #66 The Tibetan scholar riffs in another dharma talk aimed straight for your hypothalamus, with some discussion about the Indian demon Mara, who is a tempter, the god of pleasure, "sort of a superdude cupid" as Thurman puts it, and how Mara is in some sense a Bodhisattva sent to test other Bodhisattvas. Thurman tells a story about an enlightened king giving away his eyes to be transplanted to a beggar -- it turns out to be a test, and he the king's sight is not lost. Thurman says his Sanskrit teacher couldn't stand Buddhists -- "they're a bunch of damn goody-goodies." He relates the Buddhist story of the king to the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Bible. Sacrificing the firstborn. One way to break the cycle of attachment, he says, is to be willing to give up what is most precious in your life. At the end of parables, even the Buddhist ones, all is saved when you pass the test with your willingness to forgo attachment -- "usually." Good advice for print journalists in hard times, perhaps. Length: 14:24 minutes. Released: Dec. 13.
    • Uhh Yeah Dude, Episode 145 Intro: M83. A solid hour of riffing on weird news, like items from the world of horrifying science: Poor children's brain activity resembles that of stroke victims. Fat people eat more and get seconds at Chinese buffets. "Thanks, science." Top baby names of 2008. Gavin? Bryce? The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has banned smiling in driver's license photos. They urge listeners to watch the late-night TV shows, which have been particularly bad lately, and mock the latest laughable Burger King ad campaign: Whopper virgins. Getting plastic surgery to look good at your funeral. Fox apologizes for full-frontal NFL shot. Why is gasoline, which was $4 a gallon, now cheaper than orange juice? "It'd be like you went into Starbucks and you ordered your drink and they said that'll be 50 cents." Complaints about the post office. Jonathan is scammed by a credit agency collection guy. A discussion of H. Salt, a SoCal fish and chips place. Jonathan: "As a vegetarian, it is one of the few things I get a hankering for." That's why I went back to eating fish a few years ago. Sorry, fish. Outro: Peter Tosh. Length: 1 hour, 32minutes. Released: Dec. 13.
    • This Week in Tech 173: Dvoracanis Leo Laporte plays host to Sarah Lane, John C. Dvorak and Jason Calacanis. Topics include: Zinc air batteries from Energizer and battery life in general, bad iPhone battery performance, chargers for the Tesla, Google's use of humans to improve search results, and the top tech stories of 2008. Blu-Ray fails to grab market share. Dvorak and Calacanis disagree about who works harder, Americans or Asians. The Nintendo Wii: a girlie console? Australia cracks down on the Internet, and The Simpsons. Spectrum auction leaves Google a happy loser. And a discussion of the resolution of the Google Books fight causes Calacanis to say: "Google is not evil but lacks empathy." Audible ad around the 1-hour mark kicks off 10 minutes of commercial promotions. But I'm in a forgiving mood for the holidays, and one of the promotions is for a free installment (on Dylan's "Highway 51 Revisited" ) from the Continuum Books 33⅓ pop music series I mentioned here. It is a good series, and nobody paid me to say that. Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Released: Dec. 14.
    • The Futile Podcast: "Truck drivin' arm breakin' and arm wrestlin'" Is there such a thing as an action-movie nerd? Maybe the right word is geek. Description of podcast: "Deconstructing 80’s & 90’s action movies. Relating them to comics, TV, and cartoons from then and now." They get pretty quickly into the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling movie "Over the Top" (1987). The two guys say it feels like a made-for-TV movie, with the lesson, you have to take what you want in life. High point of film comes with interviews of actual professional arm wrestlers. It's an amusing enough discussion, but the main hosts seems to be eating and talking with his mouth full. "A really, really awful version of 'The Color of Money.' ... We did the poker movie, and we did the pool movie, what about arm wrestling?" I might listen to this show again, depending on the movie under discussion. It looks like some of the earlier podcasts have more participants, mostly but not exclusively men. On the blog, there's also this apology for excessive misogyny, a common feature of a lot of male-dominated podcasts, as I've mentioned before. On the plus side, it has some of the features of a good podcast: brevity with several engaging personalities talking with expertise about an obscure topic they love, in this case, action films. Length: 23:24 minutes. Released: Dec. 17.
    • "60-Second Earth, Santa in Danger: Polar Meltdown" First, I will note again that this show, despite the name, is longer than a minute. Second, I will note that this particular episode is a rapid-acting depression pill from Scientific American. Except that it doesn't cure depression. It makes you feel worse. You see, the icecaps are melting, and there's not a damn thing Santa can do about it, "no matter how green his elves are," children. Aaagh. Sponsored by God. Length: 1 minute, 20 seconds. Released: Dec. 11.
    • CommandN Episode 161 Unlike the audio podcasts above, this is video, which means you will hurt yourself or others if you try it while driving or walking to work. It is also Canadian, and the recent episode is inexplicably taped outside, so the hosts, Amber MacArthur and Jeff-somebody look cold. This is their gift guide. Canadians are a little behind the times in technology. They lust for iTunes and Kindles. The show is short, but it moves too fast to really focus on anything. Discussions tend to be superficial. I'd suggest skipping this altogether and listening to Amber's far superior audio podcast with Leo Laporte, Net@Night, which I haven't reviewed yet, though I like it, and nobody paid me to say that. Length: 8:12 minutes. Released: Dec. 6.
    • Wired Gadget Lab 20: This Ain't Your Grandma's Motor Home Another video. A couple of 20somethings test-drive a high-tech modified Airstream RV. "Dude, let's take it to L.A." Oh, ha ha ha. Good thing gas prices are dropping. They make the trip, with footage from a pit stop at the world's weirdest urinal. Seriously? What does it have to do with this review? Nothing. They give the vehicle a 6 out of 10. Which is better than the podcast itself. I'm not really sure why I even watched this. Oh, it was short. And now I can put the whole series in the trash bin, because video eats up a lot of hard-drive space. Length: 7:10 minutes. Released: Dec. 5.
    • "This Week in Media 119: Adverteasing" Back to audio. This proved to be the most though-provoking show of the week, with a disturbing view of podcast advertising practices. Daisy Whitney of TV Week leads a discussion with Alex Lindsay, Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media (35+ podcasts), plus two others with complicated names that nobody spelled out, a media ad buyer and an active podcast sponsor. It starts off with a focus on how so many podcast hosts personally pitch products, as in radio, a practice that advertisers like. Lindsay nods to the church/state wall between content and ads, saying he avoids getting involved in deals and that he only pitches products on his tech podcasts that he uses and likes. I guess we have to trust him on that. He says his advertisers pay on a CPM basis (cost per thousand views), not based on revenue sharing or for favorable content. He does disclose that Scott Bourne, his co-host on This Week in Photography, personally sells ads for that show. Around the 28-minute mark, Bratton reveals even more flexibility: "...We'll also do a program that includes the CPM audio ads, plus things like, we'll post on the blog, we'll Twitter this information, we'll do a review of your product, whatever it might be, and then we're compensated in some way, typically a flat fee" to cover the hourly work for that. So, here is the followup question, which was not asked: Are reviewers free to give the product a bad review? Has it ever happened? Podcasters and bloggers on the Laporte/Lindsay podcasts often talk about how objectivity and fairness are outmoded journalistic ideas, but these practices arose to avoid this kind of problem. How do ad-supported podcasts (and blogs) ensure editorial integrity? If a camera gets a good review on Bratton's Digital Photography Life, how do I know it's an honest review, if the camera is made by an advertiser? I don't. How do I know if I'm getting the real deal, if the content creator is a financial partner with the sponsor or is taking freebies? I don't. Length: 53 minutes. Release date: Dec. 16.
    • Digital Photography Life, Episode 5 So, after that discussion on This Week in Media, I listened to one of Personal Life Media's podcasts, on photography, a topic that interests me a little. This episode opens with an ad for Smugmug, a photo-sharing site that the co-hosts Scott Sherman and Michael GW Stein "talk a lot about on the show," according to the ad. (Popularity isn't everything, but for reference, here's how SmugMug compares to competitor Flickr in terms of overall traffic.) Twelve minutes into the show, Scott and Michael were still talking about the podcast's photo contest, which entails e-mailing entries to the show's Smugmug album, where the entries will be displayed. Then they discussed the prizes -- bags donated by another sponsor. Then they asked listeners to leave five-star reviews of the podcast on iTunes. If you actually want to hear about photography, I recommend fast-forwarding to the 18th minute, for the start of a mildly interesting discussion of the new Nikon D3-X, audaciously priced at $8,000, followed by some good tips for taking holiday party pictures. This all seems to be aimed at beginners, with the Nikon discussed for the shock value. The hosts are amiable and sound like nice guys. But Smugmug is certainly getting its money's worth. The hosts slip in another ad toward at the end for a camera bag, then ask listeners to send holiday party shots to them via Smugmug (there's another ad for the site at the end of the show). Then listeners are again urged to write a five-star review on iTunes or to at least go there and rate the positive reviews as helpful. Scott: "Those reviews will move to the top of the list, so the negative reviews are not the first ones people see when they check out the show because that is just not helpful when it comes to building an audience." So I go to iTunes. The first review I see is for two stars: "Posted a lengthier review last week but for some reason it is not showing up here. To summarize, I used to be a huge fan of the old show but over time it became more boring... Shows are long usually due to senseless banter being included. The hosts wander off topic a lot and don't stay focused." Maybe he has an ax to grind. The average rating is 4.5 stars. Length: 59 minutes. Released: Dec. 8.
    • Macbreak Weekly 119: MacBreak Mania Alex Lindsay filled in for the traveling Leo Laporte, with guests Andy Ihnatko, Frederick Johnson, Ron Brinkman and Paul Kent of the upcoming MacWorld Expo. Topics: animated "Get a Mac" holiday ads, more Apple netbook speculation, fate of Apple TV and Mac Mini, iTunes vs. Amazon music store, and granular information about the MacWorld Expo, including a discount code (first 100 got a free pass and the rest get $20 off: RIDP1641). Alex read the Audible and Drobo ads, but kept them mercifully short. In the picks segment, Inahtko, a free-lance tech writer for The Chicago Sun-Times, spoke favorably of Slingbox products, which let you play your media library (and DVR content) on any TV, even away from home. Works best with a hard-wired network. More MacBreak picks here. Length: 1 hour, 8 minutes. Released: Dec. 16.

    I'm mixing it up a little this week, adding some new podcasts from the iTunes Best of 2008 lists [iTunes Store Link], including a few with video under 10 minutes.

  • "Grammar Girl Video: Irony" Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips are usually audio, but this six minutes of video is worth watching for its excellent explanation of the frequently misused words "irony" and "ironic," using to good effect the infamous Sarah Palin turkey-pardon video. Here's the gist: Irony is all about incongruity and always in the eye of the beholder. Palin and her critics both might have thought the event was ironic, but for different and legitimate reasons. Writing that something is "ironic" says more about you, the observer, than the events themselves, and it is open to misinterpretation. Watch, understand, then use these words properly, or not at all, especially if you are a journalist trying to be fair. Length: 6:29 minutes. Released: Dec. 5.
  • "60-Second Earth: I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas (Tree)" From Scientific American, another short gem (though longer than 60 seconds). When it comes to Christmas trees, which is more green, wood or plastic? The answer is complicated, but seems to be a live tree in a pot. The strategy in our mixed unfaith household: Thirty years ago, my aunt made a porcelain Christmas tree that stands about a foot tall. We put it on an end table at a respectable distance from the menorah. This represents our own ambiguous connection to a holiday that my wife only observed as an outsider and a religion I no longer observe. The kid is probably confused. So be it. Length: 1 minute, 29 seconds. Released: Dec. 4, 2008.
  • "Keith and the Girl 860: Turn It Down" This podcast by a Queens couple is consistently rated among the top 10 comedy podcasts at Podcast Alley. Keith Malley was raised Catholic. The "girl" (Chemda Kallili) is Jewish. The schedule is erratic but frequent. This is one of the shorter episodes, and not as funny as the previous, "Get Over Yerself." They do nearly 10 minutes on religion, the holidays and their families. The new Guns N Roses record. The strange gay humor on "Three's Company." The end of Polaroid film. They dream of making millions and moving to Manhattan, which they call, quaintly, "The City." And more. Length: 59:23 minutes. Released: Dec. 8.
  • "This Week in Tech: Zunegate" Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. This is the podcast that first got me thinking too much about Twitter this week. It is also the podcast that got me to join Twitter way back in April 2007, mostly as a lurker. Leo Laporte is joined by John C. Dvorak, Bwana McCall, and Julio Ojeda-Zapata, author of a book on using Twitter for business. Dvorak likes Twitter but says it has problems. His comments lead me to think these tech celebrities with thousands of followers have a different experience than people with mutual followers in the dozens or hundreds. They are more like performers or broadcasters than members of the community. They toss out a question and hundreds of fans answer. Sometimes, Dvorak says, they keep answering long after he wishes they would stop. Claims are made that Twitter skews to an older crowd, that it's lazy blogging, that younger people prefer Facebook and IM on Skype. The rest of the tech talk feels recycled: Mac viruses, Obama's Zune, Leo's story (told on last week's MacBreak Weekly) about getting irritated at a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Then they plug their stuff. Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes. Released: Dec. 7.
  • "Uhh Yeah Dude, Episode 144" Intro is Stereolab. Outro is Lorn. The episode gets off to a meandering start but picks up. The show's T-shirts are late. Libraries and video stores ripping off Netflix. More brocabulary. More obscure fast food. A riff on the 9-year-old pickup artist. "Comb your hair, and don't wear sweats... Just say hi." Top Yahoo search terms. When Seth met search term No. 1. Crazy science: A killer fungus reproduces sexually in your nose and the babies record podcasts. Riffing on the money-saving tips of Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes," who steals dinner rolls from restaurants, mixes gasoline of different octanes, complains about paying $1.50 for a cup of coffee etc. (Rooney has a podcast, too.) A Rastafarian, Bobby Brown, is suing Jiffy Lube for discrimination. Seth recounts how he nearly killed himself and Jonathan with a gas leak in his furnace. Seth claims to be dating the oldest person in the world, a woman they visited at the nursing home in an earlier episode. Removing bear gall bladders. Dreading the holidays. (Seth and Jonathan have done a new interview. ) Length: 1 hour, 3 minutes. Released: Dec. 8.
  • Attack of the Show's Daily Video Podcast: "The Wired Holiday Store" An iTunes 2008 pick. I actually watched a couple of episodes, which were short and well-produced, seemingly excerpts from the TV show on the obscure G4 cable network. The first one featured a tour of the temporary brick-and-mortar store version of the print magazine that ought to be just a Web site. Lots of gadgets flash by. The store's at 15 West 18th Street through Dec. 28. I'll have to check it out in person. The episode after this, "Batman's New Voice-Over Career," riffs on the terrible raspy Batman voice from the "Dark Knight" movie, which is, not coincidentally, out on DVD. Entertaining, but it has the main drawback of video: You can't enjoy it while walking to work, or you'll run into people. Length: 2:25 minutes to 3:26 minutes. Released: Dec. 10 and 11.
  • "Buzz Out Loud: Baba-Boo! Scareware!" C-Net's "podcast of indeterminate length." This show starts out with fast talking and sound effects by Molly Wood, Tom Merritt and Jason Howell. Some chatter about Playstation Home and Amazon's Unboxed service. Praise for TiVo, the service/hardware with a terrible business model that everyone loves. Merritt disagrees with Corey Doctorow's views on copyright right of first sale. "There's no such thing as 'used' in the digital world." Gratuitous reference to the Brooklyn musician Jonathan Coulton. Learned something: The term for the propensity of people to find faces in things like toast and the moon is paradolia. A couple of the hosts have apparently never heard of Tumblr (or was that a joke?). It is one of the few companies doing well in these troubled times. Howell does not understand the phrase, "throwing the baby out with the bathwater," pleads youth. A Web-based no-hack copy-and-paste method for the iPhone between Safari and Mail. A good idea that calls attention to a continuing, pathetic Apple lapse. Vast expansion of Google Street View. The blank areas seem to be mountains. Now go listen to "All My Internet Friends" by Amanda French, a musical tip that earns this podcast major points. Length: 37:38 minutes. Released: Dec. 11.
  • "You Look Nice Today: Nickelpuss It's back to the original three hosts. Secular bands. Nerd jokes about Unix command lines. Merlin Mann's childhood room. A lengthy discussion of automobile horns. Youthful ninja fascinations and experiences by Adam Lisagor. How has this movie not been made? Good question. Discussing his teenage musical career in a church band and his secular band, Scott Simpson reveals he grew up near York, Pa., where I worked for eight years, and mentions the nearly forgotten York band Live. Still popular in Europe and parts of New Zealand! True story of the early Web of the mid-90s: I once hand-coded a Live fan page for the local newspaper's pioneering Web site. Ooh, frames -- lovely. It got dozens of hits, which we deemed a success. The site itself was born in a 1996 blizzard that stopped the newspaper delivery trucks. It's hard to remember how primitive the Web was just 12 years ago. This was in a time when people predicted that average readers would never have computers at home and certainly not read news on them at home. Which is kind of true: Now they mostly click around the Web at the office when they should be working. Podcasts were barely imagined. Video was unthinkable on dialup. Twitter? Forget about it. Email was hard enough. Anyway, it's great to see these fellows back on track with their jazzy, meandering nostalgic conversations, much of it about that weird, lost dawn-of-the-Web past. I'll leave it there. Length: 38:48 minutes. Released: Dec. 10.
  • "Macbreak Weekly 118: Macs in the Mist" Leo Laporte with his regulars, Alex Lindsay, Scott Bourne, Andy Ihnatko. Perhaps Leo watched Grammar Girl's podcast this week (see above) because he asked Bourne if it was ironic that he ate a freshly slain turkey at a Thanksgiving dinner with his fellow bird-watching photographers at a bird refuge. "You don't see any irony in that.. " Bourne: "I do not." Later, Leo: "It's ironic that all four of us are camera bugs..." Ok, maybe he didn't watch Grammar Girl. After about 10 minutes, down to business. Any truth to the rumor that Apple will remove DRM from iTunes for the holidays with unlimited downloads in Europe? Consensus is no. What about $99 iPhones at Wal-Mart? Consensus is no. Discussion of DRM: Only hurts honest people, doesn't deter thieves. True. A five-minute ad for Drobo, ends at 24:20. Big vendors dropping out of MacWorld Expo. Are convention expenses worth it, especially in a layoff environment? More discussion of pulled Apple advisory on antivirus software. Do Mac users need the software? Consensus is no. Santa Claus iPhone app gets run over by a reindeer. Brief discussion of Information Week's Top 10 Apple Stories of 2008. Consensus: Bad list. "We lost interest at the same time the author lost interest." Around item 3 or 4. Ouch. Six-minute conversation/ad about ends at 1:01 mark. Then it's time for the picks. Length: 1 hour, 27:56 minutes. Released: Dec. 9. Update added 12/13.
  • It was a busy week, so I missed a few favorites (in the case of This Week in Media, the Skype interference was so bad in some cases, I couldn't stand to listen. Reportedly, the problem has been fixed and the episode was reposted). [See earlier roundups.]

    There are 8 million podcasts on the naked Web. Each week, I listen to 10 or more of them and write some reviews. Here's the latest survey of independent audio featuring assorted nerds, geeks, freaks, mystics, fans and experts talking about the things they love. In the order I listened this week:

  • "TWIT 171: Chocolate Sox" Not a great week for news and information about tech. Leo Laporte makes good on his threat that his This Week in Tech podcast is "unscripted, unplanned and sometimes completely off the hook." He is joined by John C. Dvorak, Andrew Horowitz and Sarah Lane. They discuss Beaujolais Nouveau, insult Adam Curry, taste chocolate, reminisce about Tech TV, brag about how many Twitter followers they have, complain about AT&T customer service, plug a useful Web site (, discuss the financial crisis, demonstrate an ignorance of journalistic practice and browse a few tech headlines. It's entertaining, if not enlightening. Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes. Release date: Nov. 30.
  • "Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 143." Co-host Jonathan Larroquette mentions a postman who didn't deliver the mail for seven years, with no complaints from customers -- is he a hero? "Junk mail is the only thing that's keeping the Post Office alive," explains co-host Seth Romatelli, who also recounts his brief career as an incompetent letter carrier. Seth also says: "I don't know anymore what is cool, what isn't, what is ironic, what is futuristic, what is robotic, what is stale, all I'm doing is lampin', all the time... I cannot tell the difference anymore, what is funny, fresh, cool, wack -- do the kids even say that?" I do. This show is wack, and that's just the first 10 minutes. Released: Nov. 25. Length: 1 hour, 27 seconds.
  • The Ricky Gervais Podcast, "Ricky and Karl Test the New Studio Out" Gervais, the star of the original British version of "The Office" (rent it!) and HBO's "Extras," (eh...) has a brief discussion of slugs and evolution, among other topics, with Karl Pilkington. It's hard to summarize. Gervais, Pilkington and Stephen Merchant made a series of for-pay podcasts that are available at iTunes and and worth a listen. Pilkington, a radio producer responsible for skits such as "monkey news," is portrayed as either a misunderstood genius or the stupidest man in the world and is typically the butt of the jokes. Here's a video. This brief, free audio podcast seems to be selling another paid spoken-word series, but it's funny enough. Length: 8:42 minutes. Released: Nov. 23.
  • Twentyhood, Episode 38: "A Tale of Two Countries". On a night out on the Lower East Side, 20somethings discuss beer, their creative underclass jobs, the Canadian economy, the graphic design industry, crazy L.E.S. nicknames, and other topics, over the sound of garbage trucks. This podcast is not updated very often (four episodes this year), and this episode was actually recorded in April. I came across it because it was nominated in the mostly meaningless Podcast Awards. It is one of just four released this year. Length: 1 hour, 4 minutes. Released: Oct. 23.
  • "MacBreak Weekly 117: The Delicious Podcast Good show this week, despite technical difficulties or perhaps because of them. Leo Laporte is joined on Skype by Alex Lindsay , Scott Bourne and Andy Ihnatko, plus a special guest, WIll Shipley of Delicious Library. They scoff an Apple advisory that Mac users should get antivirus software (an advisory later rescinded). The Simpsons meet Steve Jobs. A mercifully short Audible ad. Discussion of the upgraded Delicious Library software for cataloging media. Shipley discusses challenges of programming for bar-code recognition in cellphone cameras. The merits of online book shopping vs. brick-and-mortar bookstores. Consensus is that bookstores are doomed. A plug for the documentary "Welcome to MacIntosh." Is Mac software business more lucrative than PC software development? Consensus is yes. Snow Leopard OS: zero new features. Speculation about MacWorld surprises in January: Netbooks? The show's Mac links are here and the week's software/hardware picks are here. Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes. Release date: Nov. 26.
  • "You Look Nice Today: Faire du Camping" O.K., this is getting a little ridiculous. It appears that Merlin Mann's comedy crew has taken the author John Hodgman and his musical sidekick Jonathan Coulton hostage. Either that, or they taped 150 hours of material that they are parceling out over weeks and weeks. This is the third or 10th podcast featuring the author, expert, Mac pitchman. They discuss manual labor jobs. Esoteric natural foods culture in Brooklyn. Janky vegetables. Artisanal wastepaper baskets. The inexiplicable why-are-you-still-open bookstore. Independent stores run by angry psychopaths. Christmas-tree shopping in New York. And more leftover comedy in search of a business model. Released: Dec 3. Length: Back to the usual 26:12 or so minutes.
  • "Keith and the Girl: For Crying Out Loud" This was one of the first podcasts I ever heard on the Web, quite a while ago, and it now appears to have become something of a multimedia empire, featuring audio, video, discussions, listener call-ins, interviews, and more. The hosts are a charismatic Queens couple, who chat with a changing cast of lowlife pals, guests and neighbors about the usual comedy podcast fare -- tabloid fare (Wal-Mart trampling death), men and women, sex, technology, TV shows, video games, etc. They produce a lot of content. Every time I started to write in recent weeks, another two-hour episode popped up in ITunes. They are un-PC, profane, vulgar, engage in stereotyping, babble endlessly. Expect a lot of inside jokes about fans and friends. A few topics in this episode: iPhone addiction, the Wii, porn, a long story about an encounter with people waiting overnight at Best Buy for Black Friday sales, mocking "The Pickup Artist," playing Call of Duty, and so on. The show's frequent guests include unknown comedians, out of work actors, neighbors, and people whose roles are unclear. Entertaining, occasionally offensive. Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes. Released: Dec. 1.
  • "The Bob Thurman Podcast #65" Uma's dad, the Columbia professor, riffs on Buddhist scripture at lectures recorded at Tibet House in New York. The cosmology is Tibetan baroque, the metaphors foreign to a middle American ear, with talk of the Bodhisattva, the real and the unreal, the Buddha field, the power of your bliss, time control, and more. "Magic is a different type of causality, but it's driven by compassion and love." Stick to the end for references to Marvel Comics (Ant-Man's microverse) and Wittgenstein. You might just achieve samadhi. Not likely, however. Length: 14:24 minutes. Released: Nov. 28.
  • "This Week in Media 117: Analysis Paralysis" An excellent discussion, mainly because the host, Daisy Whitney of TV Week, runs a tight ship with a list of specific topics to discuss. She is joined by Bill Tancer of Hitwise, the unemployed Internet humorist Martin Sargent, the science personality Dr. Kiki, and David Rewalt of Viz Media. Tancer analyzes his company's annual search data. The top terms are navigational or brand-related. MySpace is the top brand, followed by Craigslist, beating eBay (that's new). Top personalities: Barack Obama, Howard Stern, Oprah, Rachael Ray, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. Top entertainment/multimedia brands: Hulu and iMeem. The Web behavior of early adopters is often a predictor of sites that will later dominate the market (example: YouTube.) What's hot now? Tancer: "Early adopters today are looking for some sort of editorial layer on top of existing video content.... There is so much content out there, they need some help and direction." Search and crowd-sourcing no longer work. One emerging brand: Qik, for mobile video uploading. The panel discusses the general problem of content overload (DW calls it "analysis paralysis," which rhymes but doesn't necessarily make sense). Too many blogs, too many podcasts, too many online videos, too many TV shows. DW: "There's just too much stuff." Trend in response: Shorter content, published weekly. A few other topics come up, including the future of all-in-one set-top boxes and the terrible interfaces on cable TV digital recorders (why can't they all be like TiVo?) That University of Maryland TV study again: "Does TV make us unhappy or do unhappy people watch TV?" Length: 1 hour, 4 minutes, worth every second. Release date: Dec. 2. Added in update.
  • "Coverville 530: When I'm Driving in My Car and a Man Comes on the Radio, Playing My Cover Requests" And now for something completely different: Music, specifically bands covering the songs of other bands. This episode is an all-request edition, with Cat Power covering "Satisfaction," among others. I'm not sure how I ever missed this gem of a podcast by Brian Ibbott, but this one had a great selection of songs, entertaining calls from listeners and a name-that-tune style quiz that I failed miserably. The show just made the 2008 iTunes Best Podcast List (full list here, opens in iTunes). I'm definitely adding this one to my regular rotation. Added in update.
  • Here's my weekly roundup of podcasts from selected geeks, nerds, kooks, freaks, comedians, self-styled tech gurus and other denizens of the audio Web, in the order I listened this week:

    • "Extra Life Radio, #202, #203, and #204" "Geek tested, nerd approved!" A likable group of geeks and nerds, Scott Johnson and his friends are Web comics artists who talk about films, TV, gaming and comics, among other topics of a certain type. The first episode ("Vacillating Two Oh Two") encapsulated what I value in a podcast -- a deep and serious discussion that makes me care about a niche interest, in this case, Web comics. The next episode (#203 "Spinimal!") was a wide-ranging discussion of movies. The Thanksgiving episode (#204, "Choot the Turkey") was the least compelling, more movie talk and a long, easily skipped conversation about soccer parents (they often take a good 15 to 20 minutes to warm up). This podcast was the winner in the general category of the mostly meaningless 2008 Podcast Awards, sponsored by the marketing company Podcast Connect Inc. The contest bases the awards on how many fans repeatedly click on an unscientific online survey, as Mr. Johnson, to his credit, notes. He and his co-hosts also won for a "World of Warcraft" gaming podcast, The Instance. Length: Ranging from 1 hour, 7 minutes to 1 hour, 32 minutes. Released: Nov. 12, Nov. 17 and Nov. 25.

    • "The Bugle: Episode 54, The Las Vegas Special" John Oliver, best known for his appearances on "The Daily Show," and Andy Zaltzman are responsible for this weekly comedy podcast from It is relatively clean and amusing, although sometimes difficult to follow, because the comics have similar voices and insist on speaking British. It may be the only place you'll ever hear a joke that compares Joe the Plumber to Gore Vidal. I usually don't subject my wife to podcasts, but Jane, a wannabe Anglophile, listened to this one and thought this line was hilarious: "The ultimate Scottish dream, Germany beating England in a World Cup football final." I'll take her word for it. The audio quality is a little muddy. Length: 35:11. Released: Nov. 23.
    • "Diggnation, Episode 177: Multiview Diggnation Remix" Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht skipped the beer this time, because Kevin had a bad cold. That does not excuse the much-noted exchange that came next, starting around 3:29, a riff on domestic violence that eventually prompted a public apology from Rose, the millionaire founder of Digg: "There is only one time you can strike [a woman] -- if she kicks you in the balls, you have the ability and the right, to punch her in the teat ---it's just like that -- it's kinda like tit for tat. ... It hurts them, it does too - or take a scissors to the teat." On the video, he made a cutting action with his hand. Har har, boys. Perhaps they should go back to taping this videocast drunk. Or stick to the script. My morbid curiosity satisfied, I skipped the rest. (Diggnation was nominated but did not win in the video category of the mostly meaningless Podcast Awards). Length: 48:07 minutes. Released: Nov. 21.
    • "You Look Nice Today: Faux Tog" Once again, the show has guests. Once again, they are John Hodgman and the Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton. Chess jokes. Discussion of a universal template of dreams from Merlin Mann: "You're naked, there's a test, there's ladies..." In New York, dreams are often about discovering extra secret rooms in your tiny apartment. A discussion of horrible jobs, including work at a Lego store at the Mall of America on Black Friday, a true story. This show was voted best comedy podcast by the largely meaningless Podcast Awards. Released: Nov 24. Length: Back to the usual 32:12 or so minutes.
    • "Vomitus Prime 83: Make Chips!" I'm a longtime fan of sick humor. But it's possible to go over the edge, and this podcast crossed into misogyny with vulgar words for women this week and last. Their fans may argue that it's all an act, and that this kind of humor is guaranteed to misfire once in a while. Maybe I'm an old fogey for cringing at this stuff, but I just can't listen to it. I say that with some regret. These guys are likable and produce some promising satire -- chewable children's Vicodin? funny idea -- but they lost me with the trash-talking of women purely for shock value. Delete. Unsubscribe. Goodbye. Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes (didn't finish). Released: Nov. 23.
    • "Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 142." This podcast shows how to be funny without being a jerk. Co-hosts Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli sometimes crack sexual and scatological jokes, but you never sense that they disrespect women, or anybody. Even when their humor is in poor taste, they are self-deprecating and never mean-spirited. Their stance is one of apology for male stupidity and mock-horror at tabloid America. (Here's an early profile of their show, now nearing the end of its third year). This week, they riff about Black Friday and again mock the horrifying "Brocabulary" (see related viral marketing). They goof on the immaturity of the NSFW Land O Lakes Indian Maiden trick; a terrible cameo by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld's George) as a serial killer on "Criminal Minds"; Florida write-in votes; pathetic cocaine addicts; the healthiest and least healthy cities, Burlington, Vt., and Huntington, West Va.; the newFinal Jeopardy music; a landlord who secretly taped 34 female tenants for 19 years; and toddler fights on YouTube, among other disturbing topics. Released: Nov. 25. Length: 1 hour, 27 seconds..
    • "MacBreak Weekly 116: Compressed Bits of Cheese Leo Laporte starts: "We had a show lined up..." Uh-oh. A guest shortage. Leo is alone with Andy Ihnatko, the entertaining tech writer for The Chicago Sun-Times. It's an entertaining show, nonetheless. They discuss the absurd Typepad journalist bailout program publicity stunt and the troubles of print journalism. Snow Leopard operating system update: not a major release? The allure of iPhone games; Leo killed his virtual villagers. They are joined at 21:57 by Rich Siegel of Bare Bones Software, which makes Yojimbo and BBSEdit. Problems with iPhone pricing and app structure. Is Google Mobile app getting special treatment from Apple? The iPhone app approval and rejection process. Andy still has the long iPhone backup problem. Leo says uncheck "send diagnostics to Apple" (that worked for me, too -- here's the how-to.) Danger: Obscure bug. Don't run your MacBook without its battery. Twitter hires the developer behind I Want Sandy and Stikkit, free services that will now die. A mercifully brief Audible ad. The week's picks: Besides the new version of Andy's iPhone book (not out yet), Uli's Talking Moose (free, a weird bit of Apple history dating to 1986), and Screenium, Cyberclean (See the handy and awesome MBWPicks for details). Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes. Release date: Nov. 26.
    • "This Week in Media 116: Dear Journalist" The host, Daisy Whitney, is joined by my colleague Brian Stelter of TV Decoder, Alex Lindsay of Pixelcorp, David Cohn, founder of, Patrick Thorton, of They go right to the heavy stuff: Will 2009 be the year of the great newspaper massacre? Are we no longer in a general interest media world? Will niche journalism dominate media in the future? Will citizen journalism supplant professional corporate journalism? What about hoaxes like the Steve Jobs heart attack rumor on CNN? The two types of online journalists, "thinkers and linkers." Some J-school-style debate about the "myth" of objectivity. Length: 55:33 minutes. Release date: Nov. 25.
    • "TWIT 170: Mile High Wi-Fi" This Week in Tech won the technology/science category in the mostly meaningless 2008 Podcast Awards. The host, Leo Laporte, is joined in this episode by Tom Merritt, Ryan Block, and Alex Lindsay. The topics: smartphones, wireless access on Virgin America, SearchWiki from Google, and, of course, the death of print media, starting with the move of PC Magazine to an entirely digital product. Block: "People interested in technology are not buying print magazines." A discussion of what this means for other print products. They take a break for a 5-minute ad and some more gadget talk, then return to the death of print, with references to many articles first printed by newspapers (whatever will they talk about if all the newspapers do die?) Obviously, this is Topic A in the tech expert echo chamber. Their endless fascination with this topic, combined with a boundless enthusiasm for the online future, has an undercurrent that's a tad ... bubbly. They seem to think that Web media businesses will be spared in a major crash. Not likely. Length: 1 hour, 16 minutes. Release date: Nov. 24.

    In a continuation of my peculiar hobby, here they are, in the order I listened this week, reports on a few of the podcasts of the geeks, nerds, freaks and boy-men of the Interweb:

    • Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast, Episode 407 The name is a misnomer. This podcast is often not funny. The comedian Jimmy Pardo (who?) and a group of friends manage to make the lives of Los Angeles comedians sound boring. Jokes about Woodstock and the Who ("You saw who?" Nyuk nyuk). Airport humor. Industry chatter. L.A. freeway jokes. They're having fun, though, and obviously enjoy each others' company. The free 30-minute show is available on iTunes; maybe the other 30 minutes in the $ premium podcast are the funny bits. I listened to a couple of episodes, and this was the funniest of the three. By which I mean, not very. Update: I may give it another chance; Episode 409 features the actually funny comic Jen Kirkman. Length: 30 minutes. Release date: Nov. 12.
    • Vomitus Prime 82: Vombodies This effort at first reminded me of Five Tacos and a Taco, the podcast I had to obliterate from all devices last week. The first five minutes include explicit discussions of stomach flu symptoms. Not to everyone's taste. I would say not to anyone's taste, but they seem to have a following for their shockpod routine, a more explicit and meanspirited version of "Uhh, Yeah Dude" (below), only from the Midwest. The high point are the calls from apparently drunk listeners for what seem to be regular segments. There's a good riff on The Yellow Pages -- a humongous waste of paper that no one uses. This riffing is, unfortunately, marred by misogyny and explicit profanity deployed for the shock value. It's not just edgy; it falls off the edge. Just because you're not on terrestrial radio and can say whatever you want, doesn't mean you should. Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes. Released: Nov. 16.
    • "Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 141." One thing I like about this podcast, which is still my reigning favorite, is that each episode features a fresh song at the start and the end, often a cut I would like to own. And while they do get scatological, famous son Jonathan Laroquette and bit-actor Seth Romatelli are not misognyist or angry. They seem like Oxford scholars compared to some of the other nitwits recording podcasts these days. This week, they are back on their game. They mock "Brocabulary: The Man-ifesto book on Dude-talk." Examples: Wintercourse, Testoster-zones, fellobrating, brocrastination, prebauchery, guybernate, broverdose etc. Ugh. Then they move on to the 10 most irritating expressions in the English language. At this moment in time. Another traffic altercation from Jonathan. Hating on racists. Secret Service code names for the Obama family. The "Quantam of Solace" catch-phrase: Fuggehdaboudit. Nebraska feral child total reaches 30. Police traffic stop of 55-year-old man in a 1994 Thunderbird yields 250,000 hits of Ecstasy. Same-sex Koala bear orgies in captivity upset Australia. Man sues for false claim old friends were looking for him. Jonathan's crazy gun dude story: Live round in the chamber. Released: Nov. 14. Length: 1 hour, 4 minutes, with 10-minute supplement..
    • "TWIT 169: The Donkey of the Week" After those three, it was refreshing to listen to some clean and useful from Leo Laporte's crew. This podcast is back on track after some meandering. After a two-year wait, Jason Calacanis finally gets his Tesla electric car and justifies its exorbitant cost because its a good example of green consumption. He also hints that he's working on a "big deal." Disclosure form will discourage tech-savvy applicants to Obama's White House. The president-elect's blackberry and email problems. What about Twitter? "Going into a meeting with Putin." Patrick Norton is back doesn't think Twitter is presidential. Calacanis says Obama should have a Facebook presence but not use the zombie app. He needs a social media secretary. The fellow endorse the idea of a massive Depression-style government project, a la rural electrification, to wire the country for broadband Internet with data speeds comparable to the rest of the world. A six-minute Audible ad; Calacanis picks a "Star Wars" novelization. Some extended chatter about weird stuff in Japan. An Argentine soccer star (Diego Maradona) sues to block Google searches on his name. The lawsuit again, more favorably received: They think the guy has a point about false advertising. Your old classmates are not looking for you. Layoff news from tech companies; an office killing spree. Will tech industry be spared? Consensus: No. Patrick Norton bails out without discussing his take on "Anathem," as promised (I'm in the 200s, and it's getting better). More from Calacanis about how the Tesla works. Lengthy economic discussion. No pity for bankers. An obsession with growth. Innovation is the cure. Productivity lost to video games. "Ender's Game" spoiler at the end; turn off the podcast if you haven't read the book. Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes. Released: Nov. 16.
    • "MacBreak Weekly 115: MacBroke Apparently, not much Mac news this week. "This is our license to do a shorter show." "No, we'll just talk longer about less." Playing around with the voice function on Google Mobile App for iPhone. Force an update through iTunes if you already have the app. Jerry Yang steps down @Yahoo. "This is not really a Mac story, but we use Yahoo." "Do you?" "No." MacBook Air updated. Rare negative notes: Why doesn't Mac ship all the cables you need? Why are their products so expensive? A lost Beatles track. Whatever happened to getting the Beatles on iTunes? Personally, I no longer care. Various software updates discussed. Audible ad, just over 4 minutes: "Team of Rivals" is book pick. MacBook Pro battery bloat. "Copy protection's a bag of hurt." The picks: new iPhone games (Touch Physics, JellyCar), Adobe Photoshop CS4. Scott Bourne's new blog: Length: A delightfully short 57:06 minutes. Released: Nov. 18.

    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 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.

    Podcasts I got around to listening to this week, and what was on them, in the order I listened:

  • "TWIT 167: More Twit Than You Require" First half: An informative discussion of Windows 7, the replacement for Vista, which I did not care about, as a Mac user. Fast-forwarded to second half (just past 1-hour mark): Leo Laporte interview with John Hodgman, the fake-trivia expert Daily Show I'm-a-PC guy, who is on a book tour. Instead of playing a character, Hodgman gets nerd-real. It's good. Released: Nov. 2. Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • "Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 139." Michael Keaton was once a jerk to Jonathan Larroquette. Jonathan and Seth remain obsessed with abandoned tweens running amok in Nebraska. The 56-year-old woman who gave birth to her own triplet grandchildren. Hot coffee makes you friendlier. "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" continues to beat new action films at box office. Ben Affleck's offensive retirement from acting. Adults should not dress up for Halloween. Decades-old rumors about Stevie Nicks. Public prayer booths. Brothers of candidates misbehaving. Derek the undertaker. Paco the gardener. Tina the person. Finabulous isn't a word. Released: Oct. 24. Length: 1 hour, 1 minute.
  • "MacBreak Weekly 113: The Sum of All Knowledge" Rumors of an iMac upgrade before the holidays were false, so now I have to decide whether to buy one. Laporte gave up on G1 Google Phone, low battery life with constantly running apps; back to iPhone. A new iPhone app gives you all 2 gigs of Wikipedia [launches iTunes] even if you are not connected to the Web. The panelists then mock anyone with a puny 8-gig iPhone. Nice. This week's endless Audible ad was for a pretty good book that was one of the first I listened to: history of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales. Released: Nov. 4. Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
  • "Battleship Pretension, episode 85" I only listen to this one once in a while, with film geeks Tyler Smith and David Bax. This week's guest: Jen Kirkman, standup comic. Topic: A discussion of sexism and feminism in the movies. The sexism of "High Fidelity" and the terrible role models played by Reese Witherspoon. Negative depictions of men in films and TV. Jane Campion.The obvious feminism of "Thelma and Louise." Liberal sexism. Nerd sexism. Released: Nov. 2. Length: 1 hour, 2 minutes.
  • "Diggnation: Alex's Halloween Arachnophobia" It doesn't matter how many flavors there are; Michelob is still terrible beer, and that is what Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht are drinking when they discuss the layoffs at Revision 3. Top digged article was about a fighter pilot revealing 30 years later that he was ordered to shoot down a UFO. Then I bailed, as I always seem to do, because I have less tolerance for BS on video than audio. Released: Oct. 31. Duration: 37:38.
  • "Buddhist Geeks, 94, Horizontal and Vertical Enlightenment" This is not about Web verticals. I rarely listen to this one, because if I had 26 minutes to spend on Buddhism, I should be meditating. Which is an excuse, of course. "Seriously Buddhist, seriously geeky." Oy, an Audible ad from the Buddhists, too. This episode continues an interview with Ken Wilber. He quotes a version of a koan that has always interested me: "Show me your original face, the face you had before your parents were born." Always reminds me of "Franklin's Tower": "In another time's forgotten space, your eyes looked through your mother's face." I listen long enough to remember I don't know much about this stuff. Maybe I'll study it some more on the bread line. Released: Oct. 27. Duration: 26 minutes.
  • Here are some impressions of the latest episodes from my current list of active podcasts. Topics covered included the election, the financial crisis, new Macs, Frank TV, your "Desert Island Sedaris," Santa vs. Odin and a squid with a dog's head that eats penguins at the South Pole. In the order I listened this week:

  • "Uhh, Yeah Dude, Episode 138" The show is more political than usual. Seth and Jonathan have some advice for McCain about profanity and do not like Obama's sports-team pandering. The badness of Frank TV: All of Frank Calienda's impressions sound the same. Who is your Desert Island Sedaris, David or Amy? In the funniest and longest set-piece, Seth describes a visit with "2,000" school children to the traveling DEA exhibit "Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause" at the California Science Center, which explains how to manufacture cocaine, heroin and crystal meth. Unlikely street names for drugs. Aaron Neville sings "Silent Night." Planning an Applebee's fan video. And more riffs on headlines. Released: Oct. 24. Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes.
  • "TWIT 166: Toxic Tea Party" Leo Laporte, Will Harris, Sarah Lane of Revision 3, Jason Calacanis of Mahalo and others discuss the ongoing financial crisis, including rumors about The New York Times. Calacanis explains Mahalo layoffs: "I think the downmarket is going to last 18 to 36 months and I would like to have a year or two of runway after it..." How retail bankruptcies lead to deflation and more bankruptcies. Riding on private jets is just like on "Entourage." Dentistry in England. The G1 Google phone. Kevin Rose of Digg calls in near the end, extending the podcast by 20 minutes, joshing with his staffer Sarah Lane, with no hint that she would be laid off the next day. Released: Oct. 26. Length: An overly long 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • "Smodcast 66: Sleipner the Conquerer" One of their best: Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier discuss whether a "War of the Worlds" style hoax is possible in the modern world. Perhaps if the aliens landed in Antartica and started eating the cast of "March of the Penguins." With digressions about the history of arctic exploration, the origins of Santa Claus and the presidential election. How they get from Barack Obama's 30-minute infomercial to a battle between Santa and Odin is well worth the ride for students of the absurd. This was one of the better recent Smodcasts, which had taken on a boring, mailed-in quality while the pair were working on their most recent film, "Zack & Miri Make a Porno," which opens Friday. Released: Oct. 24. Length: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  • "You Look Nice Today: Who Voted?" More highly edited, easygoing nonsense conversation: Cold start about how there are no more grownups. How to decide how to vote for local candidates for minor offices you know nothing about, and other election quandaries. Every time Merlin says vis-a-vis, take a drink. A complicated sexual fantasy about a voting booth. If you had 14 Farrah Fawcetts. The science of seduction. "Obviously, he is a sex scientist." The narcissism of fantasy nudity. Pickup lines, Twitter and Dungeons & Dragons. Heat-sensitive Hypercolor clothes. The smug "I Voted" sticker. Not as loose as past episodes; I could actually follow the train of the conversation, which may or may not be good. Released: Oct. 28. Length: 30 minutes.
  • "MacBreak Weekly 112: 分かりません"After listening to Alex Lindsay's travel and home-buying plans and some bad celebrity impressions, plus a Frank TV reference, actual Mac talk starts at 10-minute mark. Apple finances opposition to California's Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage in California. G1 Google vs. iPhone. Rumors about features in the new iPhone 2.2. firmware. Extended discussion of Twitter. Experiences with the new MacBook. Trackpad weirdness.The missing Firewire port. Apple quarterly results. Snow Leopard with Cocoa Finder is coming. Future of Apple TV and Mini. Picks were inexpensive, esoteric or uninteresting. Released: Oct. 28. Length: An overly long 1 hour, 51 minutes.

    Release dates are when episodes were available on iTunes. Alternative download sites are in the links. I didn't have time for the video podcasts Diggnation and The Totally Rad Show this week.

  • Lately my music library has languished as I have loaded up my iPhone with podcasts of a certain type: Men (mostly) talking about gadgets, technology, movies, stuff on the Web, games, women, and news of the weird, among other topics. The list:

    • "Diggnation" Perhaps the most well-known podcast on the list. In various video and audio formats. Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht drink beer and sit on a couch, going down the list of the top stories at Frequency: Weekly. Duration: 45 minutes or so, video.
    • "Smodcast" The director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier shoot the breeze about making and watching movies, comics, growing up in New Jersey, porn and other topics. Weekly. An hour or more, audio only.
    • "The Totally Rad Show" Alex Albrecht is joined by Dan Trachtenberg and Jeff Cannata, for reviews of movies, TV shows, comics and video games. Weekly. About an hour, video.
    • "This Week in Tech" and "MacBreak Weekly" Two podcasts from Leo Laporte's empire that bill themselves as reviews of the week's technology and Apple news, with John C. Dvorak, Merlin Mann, Alex Lindsay, Scott Bourne and other regulars. But it's really a bunch of geeks and nerds shooting the breeze. Weekly. Each is about an hour and a half, or 50 minutes if you fast-forward through the improvised ads, which can get tedious. Another way to watch: Live on video, with a rolling peanut gallery chat room under the screen, and the talking goes into overtime.
    • "Uhh, Yeah Dude" Description: "A weekly roundup of America by two American Americans," Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette. Energy drinks. The week in Florida. Readings from Craigslist. Prescription drug side effects. Hip hop vs. country. Men behaving badly. Why Robin Williams is not funny. Encounters with borderline celebrities in Los Angeles. Sobriety. Veganism. The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and more. Frequency: Weekly. Run time: About an hour.
    • "You Look Nice Today," which is billed as "A Journal of Emotional Hygiene." A dadaist conversation between lonelysandwich (Adam Lisager), hotdogsladies (a k a Merlin Mann of 43 Folders), and scottsimpson (Scott Simpson). With voice chapter headings by the guy who plays the PC in Mac ads. Frequency: Fortnightly or so. Length: 30 minutes.

    What they have in common: Guys who genuinely like each other talking about topics they love, with echoes of long ago bull sessions and late nights in bars. The best of them -- "U.Y.D.," "Smodcast" and "You Look Nice Today" -- have been known to provoke chuckles and guffaws. Maybe even some chortling. Update: On Oct. 29, I started posting some impressions of the latest episodes of these and other podcasts that have interested me for a while.

    Updated  Sept. 16, 2012.

    When I started working on the metropolitan desk of The New York Times in 1997, the newsroom was using a publishing system known as Atex for text editing. Usernames were six characters long. The naming convention at the time was to take the first two letters of the staffer's given name and the first four letters of the surname. Patrick+LaForge=Palafo.

    Not every Atex username had a mellifluous combination of consonants and vowels, but mine did. On a whim, I used it as a username on various sites in the early years of the Web and as an e-mail address with a succession of Internet service providers. The vaguely Italian-sounding but non-existent name was usually available, while my actual name was already being snapped up by my French-Canadian-Irish doppelgängers.

    The Atex naming convention used by The Times was abandoned (along with Atex), but a few of us still use the naming convention in e-mail addresses.

    I have been a computer nerd and geek since a time before there was a Web, and I was a bit of an early Web pioneer, but I did not use the name for a blog until I started the earliest version of this one in 2008. Here's hoping I don't besmirch it in the permanent record for all time.

    Regarding the pronunciation: Some people have been known to say PAL-ah-foe, but I prefer to stress the syllable that is also the first syllable of my surname: puh-LAAF-oh. Sort of like palazzo.