About the Blog

Its about anything and everything. I, Steven Hancock started this blog for a variety of reasons. I want to start documenting my life and sharing that with others, whether that's family, friends, strangers or my future self. I also want to start sharing my experiences with others in hopes that others can learn from me. Perhaps I can help someone set up an Ubuntu server, write a Django Web Application, or setup a Phonegap Mobile App.

That's it. I'm hear to share. Nothing more, nothing less. I will be covering a wide variety of topics so feel free to browse for the blog entries that interest you most.

Favorite Podcasts of 2013

June 2, 2013

I love listening to podcasts. I listen to podcasts while driving, cutting the lawn, shoveling snow, or working out. I listen to about 10 hours of podcasts a week. They teach me, they make me laugh, and they help me pass the time. My favorite three podcasts include a techy podcast, an informative/philosophical podcast and a career-oriented podcast.

Self Improvement - Career Tools

A couple of years ago I decided to start listening to podcasts that could improve my career, put me on a better path and make me a better employee. I did a quick search on iTunes and didn't come up with anything that sounds very promising. After trying a half dozen podcasts I stumbled upon Career Tools. I learned so much from just one episode. I appreciated the knowledge that the hosts shared and their matter of fact attitude. I enjoyed and learned so much from the podcast that I started listening to all of their old podcasts as well, starting from 2005 till present.

Founded by Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne, former US Army Officers and West Point Grads, career tools lays the foundation for anyone to have a successful career. Both have had long careers as managers in large organizations and Mark has been mentoring managers and executives since 1988. More recently Wendii has taken over Mike's role as the provocateur to Mark. Career Tools have gone over TONs of topics like:

  • How to interview
  • How to interview on Skype
  • How to write a resume
  • How to write an e-mail (keeping in mind the receiver's DISC profile)
  • Where to sit on a plane
  • What hotels to stay in
  • Guidelines to attending happy hour
  • Meal etiquette
  • How to resign
  • Basics of mentoring
  • How to build a network
  • How to remember names
  • How to admit mistakes
  • How a professional should dress
  • How to disagree with your boss
  • and hundreds of more (literally)

The creators of the Career Tools podcast also have a podcast called Manager Tools. This podcast is also a great show; however, since I have yet to become a manager I only occasionally listen to the show.

I believe listening to Career Tools, by taking what they say to heart, has enhanced my career and given myself more focused. As a direct result of this podcast I am now a better employee than ever and I hope to land my dream job as a result.

Learn, Learn, Learn - Ideas

There is no other source that takes topics that I would normally have no interest in and develop them into 1 hour riveting conversations. Ideas is a podcast of the CBC Radio show of the same name. Currently hosted by Paul Kennedy, the show ventures into a wide range of topics:

  • Interviews with Authors
  • Discussion of bees and their dancing
  • An in-depth piece on depression
  • A look into how sound (or absence of sound) affects us
  • Aboriginal story telling
  • An analysis of parking

I'm not really sure how to describe this show. It's kind of like a really good book where you hang on every word. Once you start listening it's hard to put down. I bike to and from work. It takes me about 20 minutes to get home from work. If I'm listening to Ideas I often spend 40 mins after I get home listening to the rest of the podcast.

To Satisfy my Inner Geek - StackExchange Podcast

The best podcast on the web is the StackExchange Podcast. The StackExchange network, in its most essential form, is a Questions & Answer site that was founded by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Attwood. If you are a programmer you have surely used at least one of the StackExchange sites, probably more than one. For non-programmers there are StackExchange sites devoted on topics like photography, cooking, do-it-yourself and parenting.

A variety of people have made appearances on the podcast and a few regulars have come and gone (like founder Jeff Atwood), however, the most recent regulars are David Fullerton, Jay Hanlon, Joel Spolsky and Producer Alex.

The podcast discusses a variety of topics:

  • UX - The user experience to StackExchange is very important, especially for expanding the network into non-IT industries. The design of the QA site is a topic that comes up frequently. The cast of the show goes into detail about why different decisions were made.
  • Programming - From talking about .NET coding (what StackExchange is built with) to talking about new or archaic languages. The podcast is full of tidbits about different programming languages. Spolsky often talks about his experience with Visual Basic back in his Microsoft days. Guests are often brought in that talk about their favorite programming language as well.
  • Server Administration - Whether its moving the StackExchange's servers down the street in NY, talking about backup servers on the West Coast, or dealing with power outages and hurricanes, the StackExchange crew is very open about their server Administration. They share their reasoning behind different actions whether they were successes or failures.
  • Game Mechanics - Gamification is a hot topic in software right now. It seems as though every app or website has some sort of mechanism to score and compare one user to another. StackExchange is no different. The cast of the podcast often share interesting internal discussion they have had, as well as, the benefits and drawbacks of Gamification.
  • Start Ups - StackExchange is a start-up and they have shared their experiences, from the process and thoughts that went into creating the StackExchange to the funding and marketing of launching. They've brought guests into the podcast that talk about start-ups, like an interview with Eric Ries who wrote the book The Lean Startup, great book. Spolsky has also discussed his experiences at Fogcreek, a software company founded by Spolsky and Michael Pryor.

I learn a lot from the StackExchange Podcast but what keeps bringing me back is the comedy. My Fiancée, on more than one occasion, has caught me with a huge grin while leaving on my bike ride as I'm already cracking up from the podcast. Although Spolsky tries his hardest to get everyone off topic using some comedic divergence, Fullerton usually brings everyone back on topic.

The StackExchange Podcast brings together informative insight and hilarious chatter to be my favorite podcast of 2013.