Technometria's interview with Jason Smarr

Phil Windley has posted another really interesting Technometria podcast, this time featuring Joseph Smarr, the Chief Platform Architect of Plaxo:

Over the course of an hour Phil, Joseph and Scott Lemon cover a range of topics including (but not limited to):

  • The differences between traditional applications and web applications.
  • Creating efficient Javascript and the role of Javascript frameworks in this process.
  • Why HTML/Javascript is a better approach than proprietary Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) such as Adobe Flash/AIR and Microsoft Silverlight.
  • AJAX cross-site scripting opportunities and risks.
  • New functionality in Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 8 to enable better browser-level cross-site data transfer.
  • Data portability of social networking graphs and the OpenSocial API.

Overall it is a great listen and it is refreshing to hear from someone who still believes traditional Web technologies like HTML and Javascript hold a great deal of potential. I cringe each time I hear proponents of Flash/AIR and Silverlight proclaim that these platforms will eventually dominate the Web. Sure the companies behind these technologies can give a great demonstration, but do we really want to turn the clock back twenty years to a world of closed development on one or two tightly controlled platforms?

A few technology podcasts that I listen to regulary

I like to listen to podcasts while I work because it beats the monotonous hum of CPU fans (thanks Intel) and the sound of traffic outside. I use iTunes to manage podcasts because it 'just works' but there are alternative applications and websites that will see to all your podcasting needs.

What follows is a rundown of some of the podcasts I listen to and why...

  • Cranky Geeks - I like to think one day I will be old and cranky. I have the cranky bit down pat and the age thing I am getting the hang of too. It is a good podcast to listen to if you want to hear negative opinions on technology and the people making it.
  • Lullabot Drupal Podcast - If you are interested in Drupal even at a non-technical level then this is a very useful resource. Lullabot are some of the best Drupal developers in the business and really know their stuff.
  • Novell Open Audio - Novell's public relations are useless but this podcast interviews the technical people behind the scenes of Novell to give you insight into what is happening inside the big red N.
  • The Java Posse - If Java and the technologies built on top of it are your thing then this podcast is a must have. The presenters from Google, Sun and Apple are all hugely experienced and respected in the Java world. It certainlly makes you appreciate how large and vibrant the Java community is after listening to this podcast.
  • This WEEK in TECH - Leo Laporte's flagship podcast is a weekly roundup of the goings on in the tech industry. Sometimes it is a bit boring but every now and then it is a good listen.
  • ZDNet: The Dan and David Show - Dan Farber and David Berlin are experienced I.T. reporters who cover a lot of emerging stories and trends related to the Web and enterprise software. Dan is old and cranky whilst David is young and bright eyed. Together they cross horns enough to make it enjoyable.
  • LUGRadio - This podcast is not worksafe but is often the funniest thing you'll hear on the Internet. It is a podcast about Linux by a group of swearing Brits. The humor means that even if you do not know the first thing about Linux or the surrounding community you will still enjoy it.

Not purely tech-related but still good to watch or listen to are Diggnation and The Totally Rad Show. Diggnation is a weekly summary of the top stories on whilst TRS deals with games, movies and television shows that geeks like myself enjoy.

Jeremy Allison on FLOSS Weekly

Jeremy Allison finally made an appearance on FLOSS Weekly to talk about Samba. The delay was not through lack of trying (it was the third take of the show) and as usual he does not disappoint. My favourite bit when he was talking about a Sun conference he attended starring then CEO Scott McNealy:

"So he picks some like five rows back and she comes up to ask him a question. And it turns into a completely scripted song and dance routine. She was a ringer because he was scared to get an unfiltered question. He was scared to get an unfiltered question from one of his employees. I must admit Novell just isn't that organised...."

I guess that pretty much sums up the differences between Sun and Novell in a couple of sentences.

On Novell Open Audio

I was worried when I first heard about Novell Open Audio because based on their past performances I felt there was a real danger Novell would goof this up and produce a series of gutless, infomercial-type marketing clips complete with poorly written scripts about boring products that people do not care about. However I really liked the concept as Novell in general is just terrible at getting any type of message across. Just take a look at a few of their product pages and ask yourself what exactly is Novell trying to communicate about these products based solely on the information presented onscreen (and what is the deal with paragraphed sized hyperlinks?).

With this in mind the first show (or two) were a little sketchy. It did sound like there was a subtle script at play in the first few interviews. Ted Haeger (the show lead) seemed to know a little too much about the products in question and the topics of conversation appeared to lead a little too nicely from one to the next. What kept me listening however was the topics covered, they were genuinely interesting and covered the broad range of Novell’s product line from Suse to Groupwise.

Over time Ted has gained in confidence (it seems like he has left scripts behind) and the inclusion of co-host Erin Quill has also added a degree of dynamism to the podcast. As the shows have progressed I’ve also begun to realise Ted knows a lot more about the products and topics in question than your casual podcast host thanks to his prior work at Novell. The people interviewed have been also been great. I could honesty listen to Jeremy Alison bash Microsoft all day and I just wish they didn’t have to censor his language. What has also added to the shows ‘street-cred’ has been Ted’s involvement in other open-source activities like GUADEC and LugRadio. This has helped transform the podcaster’s image from potential corporate puppet to slightly alcoholic jet-setter (which deep down we all want to be).

One thing that I would really like to hear is more aggression (some would say crankiness) from Ted or someone else as the audio paints an altogether too rosy image of Novell and its products. Let’s be honest, this is a company that has gone from monopoly to minority in the server business and has made making stupid decisions that ruin a great product into an art-form.
Hearing from Jeremy Allison and Nat Friedman about Samba/desktop Linux is great but it is only half the story. The law of averages (and past business decisions) implies there are some real idiots working within the company and I would not mind hearing from them too, even if it was the sound of silence followed by some uncomfortable microphone dribbling.

LugRadio Show

Recently I have been listening to the Linux Radio Show archives and found them quite enjoyable.
Unlike other Linux radio shows these English guys are not so serious and often are fairly brutal about their opinions which is good to hear. Sometimes you also get the feeling they have been smoking something beforehand which just adds to the atmosphere...

Linux Radio Show Homepage

This archive show is quite interesting as they interview Miguel de Icaza, lead developer of Mono and a high up in Novell after their purchase of Ximian in 2004.

A Highly Recommended Site

IT Conversations is a site I would highly recommend to those of you who would like something interesting to listen to whilst you spend hours working at your computer. Like the title suggests the site is a large repository for recorded speeches, interviews and debates related to the IT industry. Of late the subject matter has begun to expand to cover more general interest (but still relatively geeky/intellectual subjects.

I highly recommend David Brin, Paul Graham the weekly Gillmore Gang.