Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thoughts on podcasts...

Did you ever feel stuck in a rut? I sure did!

In 2012, I  realized I was not growing at my job.  I had been there for 5 years, but I felt like I had 5 first years of experience.   My skills were atrophying and I was not growing as a programmer. I was also putting on a bit of weight (Up to 220 lbs). 

No one was going to help me improve but me, so I decided to get both my coding knowledge and my body into shape.   I started riding to work (5.5 miles each way) and listening to podcasts while I was riding.  I also began tracking down a bunch of technical blogs  and adding them to my Google Reader.

It was difficult to track down technical podcasts that had useful information for me at my particular point in my journey; Computer Engineering grad, 5 years of dev experience with Java, just discovered TDD. I had been mostly listening to NPR's Radiolab.  

I eventually stumbled onto Ruby Rogues.  I listened to a few episodes that seemed to have language agnostic topics... This began to open my eyes to some of the current state of the art ideas that I had been missing.  Eventually, I just started listening to all of the episodes, and then stumbled onto JavaScript Jabber. Similar layout, some more relevant things (I have done a bit of JavaScript at my job).  

I had been following Alan Ashcraft's Morning Dew Drop, where I found several podcasts that were starting to pique my interest... (The Changelog, Walled Garden Weekly), but eventually saw a link to  This was a great podcast... focused on fitness for programmers, exactly what I needed!  Though listening to getupandcode, I saw that John Sonmez compiled The Ultimate List of Developer Podcasts and found a few more on there!  

I had found SoftwareEngineering Radio, but the episodes were very long and mostly didn't keep my attention.  I stumbled onto Java Posse.  This podcast seemed like the best overall fit for what I had been looking for - Java specific practices and concepts, enterprise focus, and not to dry!  I heard them talking about Puppet, Chef, and other DevOps concepts and thought it sounded like a pretty amazing place to be.  I eventually found some references to some DevOps concepts, and found DevOps Mastery and DevOps Cafe

While bouncing around between podcasts, I heard Saron on RubyRogues, and that she was starting up a site/twitter chat/podcast called CodeNewbie.... only one problem, I didn't have Twitter!  I started up a twitter account, and began participating in the twitter chat.  

Though the CodeNewbie shoutouts, I found another very interesting podcast.... This Developer's Life.  Like all podcasts, I listened to an episode, liked it, and started back from the beginning. 

Where does that leave me now?  I've started this blog, and I've been bothering my co-workers over and over with all of the interesting things that I've been exposing myself to.  I figured I would try to start putting up posts about individual episodes... either going back and re-listening to some that really stood out, or just commenting on new ones as they air.   

What did I gain from all of my podcast listening?  I've been exposed to all kinds of 'state of the art' ideas and tech, I had someething to do on my bike commute (which brought me down to ~155 lbs), and it helped me rediscover my desire to learn new things!  What it DIDN'T do was help me get any side projects done really leveraging these new ideas and tools that I was hearing about!  Hearing is no replacement for doing, so I'm going to try to do some more hands-on diving into frameworks and languages. 

Are there any podcasts that you enjoy listening to?  Leave a note below!

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