A selection of podcasts I enjoy

I love podcasts. I’ve listened to them for years. Starting with Leo Laporte’s [TWiT Network(http://twit.tv). I listened to Boagworld and the Web 2.0 Show. Seasonally, I enjoy some fantasy football podcasts and other things blip on and off my radar. I use Huffduffer to save single episodes of shows and listen to them through Overcast.

I’ve struggled with how to write about the shows I enjoy and why I enjoy them. There’s also the question of what is a podcast?

I got my answer recently when heard Jordan Cooper explain them on The East Wing: The East Wing 2: Hate-Listening to Talk Radio – Jordan Cooper.

Podcasts are on-demand radio.

Succinct and relatable. Perfect.

As I listen to the shows, I make notes of lines I want to remember, or they made me laugh, or I thought they were memorable. Below is the collection of quotes from various podcasts.

Technical Difficulties, and it’s spin-off Dawn Patrol are two of my absolute favorite shows. Technical Difficulties has amazing shows notes that serve as the textual accompaniment to the audio. Dawn Patrol is a group of friends talking about their current wants/struggles/loves with technology in their lives. It’s akin to eavesdropping on a group of friends nerding out. And I love it!

From Technical Difficulties 076 – What’s Living in Gabe’s Closet?

  • “You have to have access to your blinking lights.”
  • “Don’t worry about my NAS Dobermans.”

  • My iPad doesn’t do a whole lot more than my phone does. It’s got a little bigger screen but it’s a whole lot less portable.
  • I don’t understand the governing philosophy of Windows. I don’t think there is one.

From TechnicalDifficulties: 080 – A History of Computing with Dr. Drang

From 001 – The Skyping is Coming from Upstairs

Did you unfollow me again?
I didn’t have to. You never tweet.
You unled!

Isometric is a show I listen to on and off. But this particularly episode had me laughing as I walked home.

From Isometric: 17: The 90s Were a Dark Time

  • So Twitch proposed to Amazon and Amazon said yes. And they’re getting married. And there’s going to be a lot of DRM at the wedding.

At least we have two evil corporations right.
So they can battle each other.
Yeah like Kaiju.

The Nerdist podcast is another one I skip depending on the guest. The latest episodes with Benedict Cumberbatch, Wil Wheaton and Adan West were a lot of fun. The Nerd/Geek jokes between Chris King of the Nerds Hardwick and Wil Wheaton was hilarious.

From The Nerdist: Kevin Smith #3

Comedy is like Boggle. All the answers are there but you can’t always see it.
Failure is just success training.
Your story is the only currency you have in this life.

From The Nerdist: Ron Perlman Returns

That’s why I couldn’t come up with any names of heroes is because I’m just so fucking tired of knowing everything about everybody. Before I can begin to admire someone on my own the world is doing it for me.

From The Nerdist: Corey Taylor

French Tips:
It makes everything that you do with your hands impossible.
Who needs 10 styluses on their fingers trying to work a phone?
French tip capactive styluses is a great idea. With Bluetooth.

So it’s like a Renn Faire for thrashers.
I encourage everyone to wear their poet shirts.

It’s 9 dudes in masks playing crazy metal from Iowa.

Futility Closet is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. It’s a random collection of interesting stories through history. If you have a passing interest in history or enjoy trivia, you’ll enjoy this show.

From Futility Closet: 031-Pigs on Trial

Insects? They did trials for insects?
Those were held in a different court in part because you can’t haul a swarm of locusts into court. You have to try them in absentia.

If you were a pig hauled into court you were given a lawyer.

From Futility Closet: 027-The Man Who Volunteered for Auschwitz

In September 1940 Polish army captain Witold Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned at Auschwitz. His reports first alerted the Allies to the horrors at the camp and helped to warn the world that a holocaust was taking place.

99% Invisible was a show I avoided listening to for a long time, despite seeing people rave about it in my social media circles. It was referred to as a “great design podcast” so I thought it would talk about CSS or web development just like the 50 billion other design shows out there. Boy was I wrong!

It’s a fascinating podcast, similar to Futility Closet in its research into real-world design and architecture challenges and history. A couple of their recent shows discussed a 113 year-old light bulb, flag design, and how to design a chair.

My favorite episode has been about flailing arm men.

From 143- Inflatable Men

You see them on street corners, at gas stations, at shopping malls. You see them at blowout sales and grand openings of all kinds. Their wacky faces hover over us, and then fall down to meet us, and then rise up again. Their bodies flop. They flail.
They are men. Men made of tubes. Tubes full of air.

I have long been fascinated with how people work. What do you spend your days doing? What kind of work keeps you busy all day? Slate has taken up the cause and started a fantastic podcast called Working

This is my new favorite show. It’s short, always interesting and they’ve covered a wide array of people and professions.

While there are memorable and interesting bits to everyone’s stories, I’ve only collected one from the first episode.

From Slate’s Working: Working: Stephen Colbert

My show is a shadow of the news so I need to know what shadow it’s casting so I can distort it in my own way.

Have you ever wondered how a pastor works? What about a perfumer? What’s a perfumer? Someone who develops new scents of perfume. It’s a world I’d never once thought about but was fascinated with the process to create new fragrances. How about the a porn star? And finally, a lexicographer. I had no idea what that is either. She defines words that go into Marriam-Webster’s dictionaries.

Analog(ue) is show all about The Feels™ from Casey Liss and Myke Hurley. They discuss the life around technology. So many tech podcasts talk tech and forget about the humanity behind it. This show celebrates that humanity.

From #3: White Whale Syndrome

Nobody in my family swears up.

Suffering creates a fraternity of people who “share your pain”

From #5: The Only Way Out Is Through

It can also be isolating.
When life hands you something crappy it doesn’t matter what your neighbor got handed.
Be supportive even if you can’t relate directly.
It’s scary. It’s hard to reach out to someone. People will meet you where you are if you let them in. So please let them in.

From #6: Work/Work Balance

If you’re working more than 40 or 45 hours per week, something is fundamentally broken.

Overtired is a show from Brett Terpstra and Christina Warren about pop culture. This podcast sounds like my college apartment. We’d talk about TV shows, movies, technology and the internet for hours. We’d ramble and cover all sort of weird topics. This show is that and I love it. It is worth noting this show recently moved to the Electric Shadow Network. So if you’re interested in following along, subscribe at ESN but the first 18 episodes are at 5By5. Got it?

Overtired: 18: Death to Pop Culture

“That is not the right Filth.”

You can rent from YouTube? What? Why?

From Overtired: 19: Schooled

I have a great library of stuff I don’t know about.

What’s less focused than Defocused?

The next show is one of my favorites where I don’t understand most of what’s going on. And it’s great! The Defocused Podcast is hosted by Internet SuperFaver Joe Rosensteel and Arizona-sufferer Dan Sturm.

The show purports to be about movies. Or special effects. Or something like that. But mainly it’s a trip into Joe and Dan’s Excellent Adventures. The podcasts I most enjoy can be summed up as friends talking about something they really like to each other.” And this show is no exception. Joe and Dan are a delight to listen to and I look forward to each new episode. While I don’t understand most of the special effects talk, I enjoy their opinions about the movies and where their brains take them in discussing the films. It’s interesting to hear the people talk about movies who also have a perspective in how movies get made.

If you have to start anywhere with this show, their crowning achievement to date has to be EP. 19: “WORK YOUR TABLESCAPES”

This episode is about The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They lead into the movie with this exchange:

D: Is it just your Florida past that sweat makes you so uncomfortable?
J: Maybe it is Dan. My post traumatic sweat disorder. I have no idea.
D: post traumatic Florida disorder.
J: Well there’s a lot of problems with Florida.
D: Well you probably can’t be blamed for something like that.
Mmhhmm Being blamed for Florida? J: All of Florida? My bad guys. Florida’s all my fault.
D: I mean you did spend a lot of time there. We don’t know how much you caused. You just left it in shambles and bailed for fancy Los Angeles.
J: Yeah I didn’t lock the doors or anything. Left the toaster oven on. I left the iron going.
D: Left the sinks running so they’d know all the houses were robbed by the same bandits.
J: The Wet Bandits.
D: The Wet Bandits.
J: That’s a different movie Dan.
D: I hear that’s a bad way to go because then they can tie you to all the other crimes.
J: And then you can come back in the sequel and you can be The Sticky Bandits and then Tim Curry can be in the movie and Tim Curry was in Clue and Rocky Horror Picture Show and we’re back to the movie. YAAAAY! I did it!

It’s important to properly understand how to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I don’t participate in any way in any of the theater things because I don’t any to be around people.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to stand up in my apartment and sing or dance along to certain parts of this movie. Which I think is totally normal and reasonable.
– Joe

The episode ends with a Rocky Horror fantasy team casting that I won’t spoil here. But it features Matt Alexander as Dr. Frankenfurter, Casey Liss as Rocky, and John Roderick as Meatloaf.

And since we’re started with 19, we’ll work backwards with some choice lines from other episodes.

From Defocused: 18: “Tim Curried Bacon”

I’m not writing fan fiction for the singing telegram girl in Clue.

From Defocused: 17: “The Clipping Plane from Heaven”

You couldn’t stop yourself from eating our entire social engagement platform?

From Defocused: 15: “Chekhov’s Law of Omega Thirteens”

My love has a final frontier. – Joe

From Defocused: 12: “Server Farm to Table”

It’s a free sweat lodge. You’ve wrapped yourself in blankets in Arizona in the middle of the summer.


Zombies, Run!

I love what Six To Start is doing with fitness apps. (Sorry, Conor.)

It all started with Zombies, Run!. It’s the first running app I’ve used and enjoyed. It tells a story while you run interspersed with your own music. The idea is fantastic. You’re a new runner at a colony after the zombies have risen. You’re sent out on mission to rescue people, pick up supplies, and investigate sightings of people.

Each mission unfolds through radio communications from Abel Township, your home base. Between the transmissions, I select a play list of music, or I can choose to run in silence between the story. I get to listen to the music I want and I have a story I’m anxious to hear. After the story is over, the app kicks into radio mode. The play list I’ve selected continues and instead of story, I get to hear from the local talk from the radio hosts at Abel Township. It’s a fun way to handle the problem of the run outlasting the recorded story.

There are two other parts of the app I like. First, during the runs I collect supplies. It could be bits of wire or food. It can be telecommunications equipment or bandages. I use the supplies to rebuild and improve my base.

Second, is the Zombie Chase option which is exactly what it sounds like. Zombies are chasing you! The app calculates my average pace over the last 30 seconds, then for the next minute, I must go 20% faster to outrun the zombies. There are audio cues of the zombies chasing after me, and beeps to show how close they are. And after one minute, the app will tell me I’m safe again.


Most of the time I’m able to outrun them, but if I’m caught, I lose the supplies I’ve collected for the mission. So it doesn’t kill you or stop the mission, but if it’s late in the run, I could lose a lot of supplies. This option can be turned on and off for safety. When I’m on a track, I’ll enable it. If I’m running near a road, I keep it turned off so I’m not running in circles trying to avoid zombies waiting for a light to change.

This app uses GPS to map your runs and keep track of distance. There is also a pedometer mode I use when I’m on a treadmill. The company supports itself through selling the new seasons of stories for a couple of dollars.

There are also training programs for 5k, 10k and 20k races. The app continues to grow. With extra mission types such as AirDrop, which is to run out to a place in the real world to recover a supply drop. Supply runs is similar in that it’s a round trip. Run out, get the supplies, and run back to where you started. The app also syncs to RunKeeper. This is nice if you follow people over there so they don’t have to run from Zombies. But you can have your runs show up over there is your friends or family use it to track their runs.

All your progress syncs through ZombieLink to the web. This app is the reason I ever started getting out and exercising with any consistency. I still struggle with it, especially now that it’s cold and I’m lazy. But Zombies, Run! is the reason I’ve enjoyed my workouts.


If Zombies, Run! doesn’t interest you, The Walk may be more your speed. The Walk is a A 500 mile thriller where every step counts. It’s time to walk for your life. The story is a bomb explodes and you’re given a package that could save the world. To survive, you’ll need to walk the length of the UK. The developer is in the UK. It’s a great pedometer. It also has a story to tell that unfolds as you walk.

Six to Start, the company behind Zombies, Run, and The Walk, have been doing cool things in the area of fitness. I’ve tried a lot of apps and nothing has stuck with my like Zombies, Run! I’ve also tried The Walk but it didn’t stick with me, though I’ve recently downloaded it again to give it another try.

They also released Superhero Workout. This app takes the promise of Microsoft’s Kinect and put it into a phone. It uses the front-facing camera to track your movements. I have not tried this app but given what Six to Start has done before tells me this is going to be a good app too. Like their earlier apps, you’re not just working out. You’re working to complete missions and become a superhero.

If you’ve read this far, I’ll treat you to my profile on ZombieLink. You can see how long it’s been since I’ve gone for a run. Please yell at me about it. Let me know if you’re a Zombie Runner and we can be buddies. It will help motivate me to get off my butt and use the app again.

Zombies, Run!, The Walk and Superhero Workout are all available for Android and iOS.

Teaching basic computer skills

Learning to code will not solve all problems. Teaching everyone to code will not solve all problems. Working in Tech, I see people scream the battle cry Learn To Code! It’s not a magic phrase. Sure, if someone has an interest in coding, encourage them. But for most people, that seems like an insurmountable task.

Start Smaller.

1. Teach basic computer skills.

In the course of my jobs, I run into people who lack even the most basic understand in how computers work. Where did that file go? What does this term mean? These people often work on habit. They have one procedure for doing something. And if that one thing does not work or if they have to alter it for any reason, they’re stuck. They cannot continue.

They don’t understand what they’re doing, only what their teacher told them. And they’ve followed the process ever since without variation. Teaching basic computer skills is enabling. It enables the person to know what they’re doing in front of the keyboard and mouse. It takes the power from the computer and restores it to the person. The computer should not hold the power a relationship. The computer is a tool, not a manager.

2. Teach basic troubleshooting skills.

Teach basic troubleshooting skills. Computers are less scary when they’re reduced to their working parts. What are those parts? Where are they? What do they do? We all know the basic jobs and location of our heart, lungs, legs and eyes. Why should hard drives, network adapters, motherboard and optical drives be a vast mystery?

Changing the computer from a black box run by fairies and hope to a machine with parts it’s less scary.

After hardware, move on to software. We don’t need to dive straight into boot records or how a BIOS works. But start with what the BIOS is. At a basic level. It’s a chip on the motherboard that has instructions to start and test the hardware in the system. Once you press the power button the BIOS turns on and tests the hardware. Then the BIOS hands the work off to the operating system software on the hard drive. That’s where you’ll see Windows, Mac OS, or Linux appear. This is where you start doing your work. You can think of it as the BIOS is the computer giving instructions to the computer. The Operating System is when the operator, that’s you, tells the computer what to do.

Was that a lot of information? Sure, especially if it’s foreign to you. But it’s not difficult. The BIOS wakes up the computer then tells the Windows to start. Start with a basic, technical overview of how computers work.

We’re not looking to teach a master class in computer repair. These are the basics.

  • What is it?
  • What does it do?
  • If it’s not doing it, what can happen?
  • How do I fix it?

3. Teach how to find information

No one knows everything. No one can know everything. I don’t know everything. I’ve never worked with anyone who did. We all look up information. We all reference documentation. Teaching someone the answer is great for that one time.

Teaching someone how to find the information is valuable forever. Technical work is all about information gathering. In the course of a day, I live in Google and dive through search results. Crafting a good search query and knowing how to sort through the results is how I fix problems.

Some of this is experience. I know to avoid anything that’s a sponsored listing. I know how to avoid results that look spammy or things I know to be useless. I try different sets of keywords. I always use product names and exact error messages. Official documentation and well-written posts always use the exact of the error message. The exact wording, capitalization and punctuation are important.

When hunting for why something doesn’t work, attention to detail makes or breaks finding a solution. Don’t ignore that period. Make sure the semi-colon is in the right place.

Finding information is not a technical skill. This is a skill that applies to every job in every walk of life. Sorting through piles of information to find exactly what you’re looking for separates you. It can be a way to stand out. Another trick I learned long ago was to make good notes in a place you can find them again.

I’ve kept paper notes and maintained wikis. I kept email folders and lists of links any way I could. Then, when I have time, I document them somewhere. Because I know I will need to find that information again and I will not remember what it was, nor where I found it.

When I’ve spent all day looking for a solution and finally find it, I think I’ll remember it forever. But I won’t. I never do. And in six months, when I see the same problem, or a co-worker asks me to help, I can reference my notes and provide the answer.

It doesn’t matter where you keep your notes. I’ve know people to write them down on paper. Others save them as bookmarks. I have a hybrid system of Evernote, Pinboard and email. The important thing is keeping notes where you can find them. Use what works for you. Armed with these skills, you can not only find technical support work, but keep that work and get better at it. The only difference between someone just starting out and me is a decade of time.

I haven’t worked particularly hard at it. I don’t hold piles of certifications. I don’t even have an advanced degree. I have a Bachelors’ of Science in Mass Communications. I majored in Creative Advertising, not technology.

I’ve gotten good at what I do by doing it over and over and learning ways to get better at it each time. Technology is always changing, but troubleshooting and research skills never go out of style. They’ll serve you well no matter what you do.


Did you know remote meetings can be good?

Do you hate meetings that run like this? Do you know there’s a way to fix every technical problem in this video?

Are you an aspiring event planner?
Do you consider every detail?
Do you anticipate what’s needed before the organizer knows?
Are you patient?
Are you comfortable working in front of crowds?
Do you sweat the details?
Do you take pride in your work?
Are you OK with doing a great job, mostly anonymously?
Will you do what you need to do to get the job done and make a great event?

Are you reasonably technical and can work with such cutting-edge technologies as:
– Telephones
– The Internet
– Microphones
– Speakers
– WebEx
– E-mail

Are you eligible to work in the US?
Can you tolerate sitting near me for up to 8 hours every weekday?

Then you too could be a WebEx Support Specialist for the US Department of Labor! APPLY TODAY!

Seriously, our contract changed hands and there is another WebEx Support position to fill. You’d be working with me (perk or punishment depending on your outlook). You’d be setting up WebEx events large and small, answering questions about WebEx capabilities and assisting in planning large events.

If you’re interested, let me know. E-mail me at peroty@gmail.com. This is a real job we’re trying to fill.