As a sysadmin, it seems pretty easy to become fairly isolated from the the things happening outside of one’s own workplace. What are the new technologies we should be aware of? How are are other sysadmins at other companies doing things?
Often, we’re so busy keeping up with our own environments that, at the end of the day, there is little energy left over for this sort of thing. For a lot of us, local user groups are tiny or nonexistent, or it’s hard to find time for the meetings if they do exist. Online communities can be hard to find. Much of the info we find via Google seems to be vendor-provided, or written by fanboys still more interested in OS-wars than in just getting the job done. And gosh, we’ve been reading the computer screen all day – it might be the last thing we want to do after work!
Podcasts can fill this hole. If you have an MP3 player or smartphone, a podcast is a great way to keep up on things during the drive to and from work, or while exercising, or doing chores around the home. And you can fast-forward past the bits you are not interested in!
Some time ago I set out to find a few podcasts for sysadmins. Here are some mini-reviews of the ones I have found and enjoyed:
- Stack Overflow (also at ITConversations). 87 episodes, no longer in production (but see Stack Exchange below). This isn’t precisely a sysadmin podcast, but it’s the one that changed my mind about podcasts generally. Before listening to this I, I have to admit, I took a dim view of podcasts. Jeff and Joel changed my mind – the 87 episodes of the Stack Overflow podcast tell the story, as it happens, of how these guys built the biggest question-and-answer site on the internet. Along the way there are a number of sysadmin stories, too. I’ve listened to all of these podcasts, in order, and found them to be mostly fascinating.
- Mind of Root (also known as A Couple Of Admins). 152 shows; still in weekly production (I think - there have been no new shows since April 3). Given the name of this podcast, you’d think it was mostly *nix oriented. It’s not – or at least, the episodes I’ve listened to have been mostly Microsoft oriented. The production values of this podcast aren’t great – there’s a lot of dead air, and uhms and ahs and so on, but these guys have a lot of interesting things to say nevertheless. They’re also live on Ustream (with video and a chat room) every week.
- Runas Radio. 213 shows; still in weekly production. Another Microsoft-oriented podcast. Great production values. Each show tends to be an interview with a subject expert – sometimes vendors, sometimes book authors, sometimes just great folks from various communities.
- Hanselminutes. 268 shows and still in production weekly. This is primarily a developer podcast, but Scott Hanselman occasionally does sysadmin and power-user topics. A recent great one was episode #220, Creating The Ultimate Developer Machine. This was interesting because Scott brought in members of the Microsoft WinSAT team to explain precisely how the Windows Experience Index works – and how it impacts things about Windows you may not have realized.
- Jon Udell’s Interviews With Innovators. 124 episodes; still in sporadic production. Not really a sysadmin podcast, but Jon interviews people doing things on the forefront of technology, which of course has a lot of intersections with sysadmin stuff, and is damn interesting to boot.
- Stack Exchange. 5 episodes; still in production weekly. The Stack Overflow podcast (mentioned above) went on hiatus for about a year. Now they are back at it again. Fun stuff; though I hope they improve the audio quality soon. As before, a mix of subjects and guests, sometimes touching on sysadmin things.
- Windows Weekly. 210 episodes; still in production weekly. Some folks like Leo LaPorte; some don’t. I live on the fence myself. But Paul Thurrott is the primary source of content for this show, and he is fairly well hooked into the Microsoft information pipeline. However, he seems to concentrate more on consumer issues than on enterprise issues. So some sysadmins will find this show worthwhile, and some … won’t. You definitely want to skip past the beginning 2-3 minutes of each show, which is all advertising.
- Technet Edge Podcasts. I don’t know how many episodes they have, and can’t do a review because my podcatcher (DrPodder on the Palm Pre smartphone) cannot seem to make sense of their RSS feed. I wish it could. Some of the content looks pretty good. If you can’t get their audio podcasts either, complain via their feedback page; I have!
Please let me know of any great sysadmin podcasts you listen to! I admit that the list above is very light on non-Windows sysadmin podcasts. I spend most of my time in the Windows world and have not yet found any good podcasts for the *nix crowd. I’d love to – so please email me if you know of one, and I will add it to this list!