I’ve always been interested in learning and developing my skills, and over the past couple of years i’ve been increasingly targeting my professional development. On a long commute, a great way to explore different areas of interest is listening to podcasts. Here are a few of the things i’m listening to at the moment:
- SANS Internet Storm Centre daily podcast [feed] – If there is only one podcast that should be on every IT professional’s podcast roll, this is it. Johannes Ullrich‘s daily recap of security & Internet news is my “must listen” podcast. Pros: Fast-paced, no fluff, edits out blank spots; very balanced coverage – i value Johannes’ opinion on almost every security topic; his enthusiasm is infectious – you can even hear his voice pitch getting higher and more excited as the podcast goes on. Cons: none unless you like being uninformed or don’t like German accents. Released every weekday (Johannes never seems to get sick; my son thinks he might be a cyborg 🙂 and usually around 5 minutes long. I would pay for this podcast if i had to.
- SANS ISC Monthly Threat Update [feed] – This is a long-format security update from Johannes Ullrich and sometimes a sponsor representative. Pros: more in-depth coverage of certain topics, e.g. IPv6, DNSSEC. Cons: covers many of the same news topics that have already been covered in the daily podcast; based on a webcast, so sometimes you have to go back and look at the slides to make sense of it. Often a fair amount of time is spent on the monthly Microsoft Patch Tuesday update, which may be good or bad depending on your interests.
- Risky Business [feeds] – This is an Australian podcast focused on security. Pros: in-depth interviews with world-class guests who offer varied and fascinating insights; considerable time devoted to opinion and analysis of news; Patrick Gray is quite accessible on Twitter, and actually replies to messages meaningfully; quirky and sometimes outstanding full music tracks as outro. Cons: Patrick and Adam/Mark laugh at their own jokes a bit too much and are a little obsessed with lulz; the electronic fart track for theme music makes me want to stab my eardrums out (tip: skip the first 30-40 seconds). But the biggest con is that it’s not suitable for work – the podcast contains frequent coarse language and not all of it is beeped out. I would love to share some of their material with my wife and kids, but references to anal rape in prisons goes beyond edginess to just plain poor judgement. (Have you ever actually been into a prison where this was a risk, Patrick? It’s really not a laughing matter.) This isn’t enough to make me stop listening, but it’s a definite audience-limiter. Make sure you subscribe to the RB2 feed as well – it covers AusCERT conferences and other similar events.
- Cisco TAC Security Podcast [feed] – Four to six Cisco security TAC engineers talk news, tips, and products. Pros: efficiently edited; engaging hosts, not boring; useful practical information (i’ve listened to their IPsec troubleshooting podcast more than once whilst working on a VPN problem). Cons: feels a little too scripted sometimes; very Cisco-centric (understandably), but this means a lot of focus on ASA, which to my mind is not a compelling firewall platform.
- Packet Pushers [feeds] – This podcast revived my interest in networking, and is a major contributor to my renewed interest in certification and professional development. If you’re new to the podcast and like it, it’s well worth subscribing the to the all audio feed, starting from the beginning and listening to all the episodes. Until very recently (with the Cisco Nexus series and the various SDN-related episodes) there was very little repetition of topics. Pros: experienced presenters; world-class guests; never boring. Cons: Greg Ferro dominates a bit too much, often talking over the top of his co-hosts; a little Cisco-centric; sometimes too many presenters, which means not everyone gets a chance to share their expertise. Greg, Ethan, and most of the guys with a Cisco background are somewhat uninformed about Linux/Free Software/Open Source licensing, values, and culture. They can also be uncritically fanboyish when it comes to Fruit Company laptops and tablets.
- The Linux Action Show [feed] – A desktop/mobile/gaming-centric podcast in both video and audio formats. Pros: lots of different news from the Linux world; CC-BY-SA licensed (o/); assumes Linux on the desktop is normal (!); metal-styled theme music is easy on the ears. Cons: Bryan Lunduke seems to think he’s a cross between James Hetfield and Patrick Warburton, and only occasionally pulls it off; could be edited more compactly without losing its feel; a little too much material released. I find it a little hard to keep up; a weekly podcast should be targeting around 30 minutes, in my opinion.
- Tuxradar [feed] – a UK-based Linux news & opinion show from the creators of Linux Format magazine. Pros: good format which incorporates listener feedback; strongly committed to Free Software from a socio-political perspective as well as a technical perspective; as expected, doesn’t assume you’re a freak if you run Linux on the desktop. Cons: audio often muffled, slurred, and crowded with random chit-chat & laughter – this is as much a result of poor diction and too many presenters as it is of low budget or technical issues. Released fortnightly, which is about right for a long-format show.
- DevOps Cafe [feed] – DevOps news, interviews, and opinion. Pros: good interviews with people from various perspectives, creative commons licensed. Cons: a little too concerned with what’s cool & trendy in the industry (which one might argue is inevitable with DevOps).
- The Cloudcast [feed] – Cloud industry news and opinion. Pros: helps to de-cloud (bad pun fully intended) some of the vagueness around many *aaS (… as a Service) terms. Cons: assumes cloud is good, doesn’t get into much technical or philosophical discussion about why we should use cloud.
- Geeks and God [feed] – God meets nerds. Pros: provides a unique perspective on technology that is more aware of “soft” issues (and not just spiritual ones). Cons: content is a bit Drupal-centric (not a con for me, but if you don’t use it you might want to skip the drupal spotlight section); podcast has gone a bit quiet lately (the old team of Rob Feature and Matt Farina was prolific and particularly well-practiced at keeping discussion flowing and making a podcast interesting).
- Andy Stanley – In my opinion, the best Bible communicator of our generation. Even if you don’t consider yourself a Christian or “religious”, he’s worth a listen to moderate the fringe elements of Christianity who seem to dominate popular media. His content comes in several different podcasts:
- Your Move – a “best of” series; tends to be shorter than the weekly podcast.
- North Point Weekly Podcast – I’ve often found the topics in this one more interesting than the “best of”. Not all of the messages are from Andy Stanley, and i find them rather bland and traditional by comparison.
- Leadership Podcast – good insights and the some interesting interviews on various leadership topics, not just church leadership. Released monthly, usually around 30 minutes in length.
Some shows i’ve previously had in my podcast roll:
- No Strings Attached – Wireless networking podcast. I found this too slow and too scripted and got bored quickly. I probably could have given them more of a chance to impress me, but i didn’t even make it through one episode. No doubt as it went on it got better, but i’m less involved with wireless networking than i was previously, so it hasn’t made it back onto my radar.
- FLOSS Weekly – Randall Schwartz’ Free Software podcast; felt too slow and scripted to me.
- Linux Weekly News – verbatim reading of the LWN.net news articles; a bit dry.
What’s missing? One thing that i haven’t found is a podcast that deals with system engineering in the enterprise from a Linux/networking perspective.