flawless, fabulous, fantastic, flabbergasting fodcasts

As I still can’t fall asleep properly, there is still need for some scientific podcasts to help me glide into my (likely interrupted) slumber. So here are the newest additions and deletions.

The New Ones:

Americana: Radio4’s weekly observations from Absurdistan the USA. Very funny and very insightful.

The Infinite Monkey Cage: Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince discovering the lighter side of science, accompanied by an ever changing panel full of weirdos. Brillant.

Material World: Quentin Cooper, creator of the worst puns in science broadcasting reports on the week’s most important science stories.

More or Less: The best program about the abuse of statistics. Full stop.

The Naked Scientists: Cambridge Virologist Chris Smith and his merry band of PhDs get only the best interviewees and manage to explain even the weirdest concepts to bonkheads like me.

Quackcast: Mark Crislips, the world’s most ascerbic microbiologist, on everything that is bad about ‘alternative and holistic’ medicine.

The Science Show: Australia’s flagship science program. I have no idea how long Robin Williams has been doing this, but he is bloody good at it.

Star Stuff: I have no idea who Stuart Gary thinks he is chanelling, but that voice and that delivery is more appropriate for an erotica show, but the actual reports are brillant. If he could just tone that voice down.

Thinking Allowed: Laurie Taylor, god of sociology, delivers the weirdest papers from the journals.

Radiolab: The best produced podcast. Ever.

What’s going:

Living on Earth: While a great ecological program, their relentless focus on American issues only makes it a bit tedious. Shame.

The Film Programme: Filmstars are very boring people.

NPR Technology/Environment: Good reporting, but again, the U.S. focus is a bit annoying.

The ones I’ll keep: Radio 4’s In our time/From our own correspondent/Friday Night Comedy. Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning, This Way Up and Our Changing World and The Planetary Society’s podcast. All bloody brillant.

So, make sure you subscribe to these goldmines of fun and facts and feed your brain those flawless, fabulous, fantastic, flabbergasting fodcasts.

Bye Majo!

Today I was informed of the death of one of the most brilliant men I was ever allowed to meet and so I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, trying to honour him.

Manfred (Majo) Heinze was what I would call a ‘Renaissance Man’. Journalist, Author, Producer, Artist, Designer, Blogger, Apple-Lover, Creator of Digital Landscapes, Entrepeneur, Porsche Lover, Motor Cyclist, Cat Owner, Douglas Adams Fan and most of all a lovely, lovely man.

I met Majo for the first time almost twenty years ago at the monthly jour fixe of the ‘Tuborg Box Cologne’, then the coolest, artiest and best BBS (Bulletin Board System) in the whole of, er, Cologne. There he sat, with his ubiquitous fag in hand, dispersing knowledge, wisdom and witticisms with a maturity far beyond my years. For some reason or other I was privileged to become a guest blogger on his inimitable and utterly brillant website ‘Industrial Technology & Witchcraft‘ that for years became my first point of call on the internet and just reinforced my belief that this chap had an intellect that I wanted but likely would never achieve. He nevertheless let me blog about my little world in North-Otago and so I met him again, 15 years later, at the dinner table of another Renaissance Man. He hadn’t changed a bit and was as brillant and cantankerous as ever. That by now he was the unofficial voice of the German Apple user community and that his Mac-essentials blog was the most successful Apple Blog in Germany didn’t much phase him. He always embraced new challenges and projects, whether it would be steampunk in cyberspace or trikes, his curiosity was unstoppable.

The world has lost one of its unique talents, and I am mourning his passing.

I imagine Mayo now in a mixture of an Ian Banksian and Douglas Adamsian paradise with embarassed drones serving him cigars while he is holding conversation with a family of pens with a PhD from Harvard while in the background a large steam punk ship crosses the horizon, playing Rudi Carrell.

And so I  will honour him by posting one of his last youtube picks.

R.I.P. Majo. Fare Well and Thanks For All The Fish.


Yesterday UKUUG and the government (in form of data.gov.uk) held Opentech 2010. It was the usual mixture of very thin hirsute and bald overweight (that would be me) men and a suprisingly respectable amount of respectable women. The nutter index was unusually low and the questions asked during the Q&A session were all exceedingly sensible.

Highlight of the day was without question a joint session with my favourite media geek, the indomitable Bill Thompson and the CEO of environmental consultancy AMEE. Unsurprisngly, the chap from AMEE wanted us to do something to preserve the future, while Uncle Bill (who, btw, does his best work for the best podcast on the web, Radio New Zealand’s ‘This way up‘) wanted us to lobby the media to preserve the the slowly decaying content of their archives. Fair enough.

OpenTech resembled your typical male geek: excellent intellectual content with a shambolic exterior. The cafe didn’t deliver, people didn’t get their food, the place looked like a bomb exploded and there were no facilities (apart from a nearby pub) to make oneself comfy and discuss php with one’s peers.

If they could that right, I am sure the guest list might look even better, and the attendance would go up as well. Nevertheless, Opentech delivered. A bit like a slightly smelly IT-chap in a dirty thinkgeek t-shirt popping around your workplace and fixing your printer, while making surprisingly intelligent conversation about data mining and role playing games.

Re-appraising the podcasts

As my little list of perfect podcasts has been untouched for some time, it’s time to re-appraise.  Some will have to go, some I gladly keep, some new ones need to be added.

The ones that have to go:


  • This week in tech: As amusing this group of merry geeks can be, this is now mainly self-indulgent banter, and if I hear Jasaon Calacanis one more time I’ll have to vomit. As there is now no knowledge gained at all, this has to go.
  • The World Technology Podcast: While moderately informative, Clark Boyd must be the most annoying and whingy podcast presenter in the entire universe. Hearing him repeatedly whine about the lack of listeners completely put me off the whole programme. Maybe the lack of listeners is a sign, Clark?

The ones I’ll keep


  • In our time: Continuing to go from strength to strength, the format is unbeatable. Take Melvin and three formidable scientists and have them discuss a historical event, physical phenomenon or person for 45 minutes. Radio at its best.
  • Friday night comedy from BBC4:  The Now Show and the News Quiz continue to be the 30 minutes of comedy on the radio. So good, you need to listen to it 3 times to get all the jokes.
  • Living on Earth: Now with an expanded portfolio of presenters, LOE delivers reliably excellent reporting and analysis from the (admittedly americocentric) fight for a better environment.
  • NPR Environment/Technology: Solid reporting from the U.S.A.’s best public broadcaster.
  • Planetary Radio: Mat Kaplan and Emily Lakdawala present the best 30 minutes od space based news, always featuring the heavyweights from Nasa, Esa or JPL. If they could just ditch the highly irritating Bill Nye.

 The new guys on the block


  • The Film programme: Old movies, New Movies, and only the best directors and actors, being asked proper questions (instead of the usual ‘what’s your favourite colour/music’ that most red tops manage)
  • The Guardian Science Podcast: Sterling guests, knob jokes and not one creationist in sight. What’s not to like?
  • Radio New Zealand’s ‘This way up’: Maybe the world’s best consumer magazine. Nothing is to irreverent not to be reported on for 40 minutes. Recently: Public urination.  
  • Radio New Zealand’s ‘Our changing world’: Veronika Meduna doesn’t only have one of the sexiest voices in broadcasting, the stuff she produces is amazing as well. Every week heaps of in depth reporting from the forefront of natural sciences

So, click on the links left of this window and get them all. What are ipods for?