11 podcasts that will make you a better software engineer

These podcasts are sure to make you a better software engineer. They are in no particular order but I’ve found each one useful in their own way. I usually listen to these as I’m driving to and from work. It’s a great time to grow when you aren’t really doing anything else productive or mentally intensive at the same time.

Hansel Minutes

Site: http://hanselminutes.com/

Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HanselminutesCompleteMP3

One of my favorite things about Hansel Minutes is the host is a great interviewer. He has this interesting technique where he approaches the topics from ignorance and as a result seems to ask all the right questions. Of course you can tell he has put in a lot of research before hand, he just seems to know what you would want to ask if you were giving the interview.

Another nice thing about the podcast is the guests are varied and come from a lot of different backgrounds. For example, he will often interview designers and game developers, but there’s also a lot of guests like Uncle Bob or Joel Spolsky.

There are over 500 episodes to catch up on if you aren’t already listening to it.

SE Radio

Site: http://www.se-radio.net/

Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/se-radio

SE Radio talks about a lot of software engineering topics I don’t see discussed anywhere else. For example, there’s an episode on Developer Anarchy, a topic I never heard of until I listened to the podcast. Each episode goes into a lot of depth with the topic at hand and the topic is usually very specific.

I do have a few complaints about the podcast, though. A lot of the guests tend to be very dry and that can make the podcast difficult to pay attention to. I find myself listening to a few of them because I feel like I should instead of because I enjoy the speakers.

Another issue is that the interviewers seem to be very hands off. They’ll ask a question and let the guest talk for minutes before the next interaction. I feel like I can be really confused by something that the host really should have asked for clarification about but never does.

The Agile Revolution

Site: https://theagilerevolution.com/

Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/theagilerevolution/fxnY

This is an interesting podcast that often has really good guests but I don’t see on a lot of other peoples’ podcast lists. They’ve had a lot of agile thought leaders on their podcast like Mary and Tom Poppendieck.

The problem is the audio quality is not very good and they’re often taking place inside a noisy cafe or a conference hallway. That said, the content is usually very good.

The Cognicast

Site: http://thinkrelevance.com/blog/tags/podcast

Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thinkrelevance/podcast

This is a podcast that mainly talks to Clojure developers about Clojure topics. Even though I’m not actively developing in that language, I find it very interesting to listen to on occassion. They have a lot of very intelligent guests on the show that are doing all sorts of interesting things you may not have ever heard about if you aren’t working in a functional programming language. Another thing I like is that they often have the creator of Clojure, Rich Hickey, as a guest.

One complaint is that the titles of the podcast only say the guest name, they do not mention the topic of the discussion.

Programming Throwdown

Site: http://www.programmingthrowdown.com/

Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/programmingthrowdown

This is a podcast where each episode, the hosts discuss some details about a different programming language. This podcast is extremely casual. Sometimes the first 50-75% of each episode chit chat and then the last part is left over for the programming language itself. They don’t usually take a deep dive in the language but talk about enough to get you interested in learning more on your own.

I have a weird complaint about this podcast: The two hosts sound kind of similar and it can be difficult to tell who is talking. Also, I’m more interested in learning about the language so I almost always skip the first 50-75% to find the content I’m looking for. I find the idle chit chat to be a waste of my time because I’m not interested, but that’s my personal preference.

The Changelog

Site: https://changelog.com/

Feed: http://feeds.5by5.tv/changelog

This podcast discusses an open source project, framework, library or language each episode. They go into a lot of depth on each topic and at the end they ask a series of questions to the author about how they want the community to help the project succeed and who their programming hero is. I like to listen to this podcast because it helps me be aware of other software out there that I can leverage when I’m working on my work projects. For example, I may not have heard of Zero DB, Kong, or Redux without listening to this podcast because they are in different worlds from what I’m doing on a day to day basis.

Giant Robots Smashing into Other Giant Robots

Site: http://giantrobots.fm/

Feed: http://simplecast.fm/podcasts/271/rss

This is a good podcast with some usability experience issues: The problem is the podcast titles are a weird phrase used at some point in the podcast. As a result, you have to dig into the description to figure out who the guest is and if you’re interested in the topic. Call me lazy, but this is usually enough to put me off.

That said, the host and the guests are often good. The interview style is very casual and the guests usually feel like they’re very comfortable and talking to a friend. They have had famous guests like Uncle Bob Martin and Chad Fowler.

Ruby Rogues

Site: http://devchat.tv/

Feed: https://devchat.tv/ruby-rogues/feed

This is a podcast where a bunch of returning hosts talk to one or two guests about a topic. The title of the podcast is Ruby Rogues, but the topic isn’t always (or usually) specific to the ruby programming language. For example, they’ll talk about “Programmer Education and Skill Development”. They often have famous guests like Martin Fowler, etc. The big group of people discussing brings a lot of different viewpoints into the conversation.

I really like the content of this podcast but the problem is there’s often too many cooks in the kitchen. One of the hosts tends to go off on a rant for a few minutes that has little to do with the topic at hand or someone will interrupt the guest while they’re talking about a topic that I’m more interested in. These are not frequent complaints but they occur often enough to be noticeable.

.NET Rocks

Site: https://www.dotnetrocks.com/

Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/netRocksFullMp3Downloads

This podcast has over 1000 podcasts that are often of interest to me. For example, they have a podcast on “Continuous Delivery” and another on “Learning Haskell”. Although the two hosts are .NET developers, as you can see, the podcasts are general enough for any developer to learn from. If there is something too specific for my tastes, the titles are named well enough that I can identify that without having to listen to it first. Also, the hosts are very charismatic so the podcasts are rarely boring.

Full Stack Radio

Site: http://www.fullstackradio.com/

Feed: https://simplecast.com/podcasts/279/rss

This is a great podcast where the host and guest talk about a single topic in detail. Example topics are, “Unit Testability and the Universal Architecture” and, “Fixing Common API Design Mistakes”. The host comes off as being egoless and is not afraid to ask for clarification if he’s confused.There have been a lot of really good and famous guests on this podcast like Kent Beck and Michael Feathers. My only complaint is I wish the podcasts would come out more frequently.

The InfoQ Podcast

Site: https://www.infoq.com/

Feed: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:215740450/sounds.rss

This is a brand new but promising podcast. Some of the episodes are titled, “Adrian Cockcroft on Microservices, Terraservices and Serverless Computing” and “Lisa Crispin and Justin Searls on Testing and Innovation in Front End Technology”. As you can see, the host has interviewed some thought leaders in our field. I don’t have any complaints for this one as it’s so new. I look forward to listening to more episodes.