Blog and Podcast Roll

I have 138 RSS subscriptions and 29 podcast subscriptions. I have about 200 RSS items to wade through each week, and even if all I do for a week is listen to podcasts non-stop, I will still have unlistened podcasts. It’s pretty safe to say I’m addicted to passive information, news and entertainment. I’m even listening to a podcast as I’m writing this. Meta, I know.

I love “Real Simple Syndication” or RSS. This protocol allows content creators to propagate their new content passively – update the feed and everyone will eventually get the update. What I love about it is that it’s asynchronous, as is the nature of most “pull” communication methods – I don’t get notified about every RSS item or new podcast episode – as opposed to email which is synchronous and immediate. I am not subscribed to even one blog by mail because I have this separation between immediate items and the rest. I’m up to about 4 hours to go through my weekly RSS reading, but I think it’s a worthwhile investment for now, and it’s fun. I’ve picked a few highlights to create a blog roll and added a justification here.

Twenty Sided by Shamus Young and friends (RSS)
If I can choose one blog to model mine after, it will be Twenty Sided. It has articles about graphic programming, game design and general entertaining commentary. I love the community that sprung around the let’s play “Spoiler Warning Show”. You should really check it out and specifically the new “New here” section.

Coding The Wheel (RSS)
This blog needs way more posts. The author is obviously a knowledgeable programmer who writes about code and Poker and gives a look into the fascinating world of Poker Bots. You should definitely read the series.

Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky (RSS)
Joel on Software needs no introduction but I still wanted it to be high on the list of blogs because of how influential it was on my decision to become a programmer and entrepreneur. This is where I first discovered a lot of concepts about starting and running a company, treating customers and about Fog Creek’s unique philosophy and company culture. He has great reading lists according to what you do and they are all worth your time.

Beta List (RSS)
This site aggregates a lot of new startups that are in Beta. This is a great way to stay updated on new startups and ideas, and sometimes I even sign up for some. I’m sure everyone can find a startup to check out from this list and this is mutually beneficial to you and to the startup – a win win! by Tynan (RSS)
A truly unique and interesting blogger with a wide selection of topics – minimalism, software, travel, living in an RV and picking up women. This blog is one I consistently enjoy every post in, which is pretty hard to achieve.

Procrastineering by Johnny Chung Lee (RSS)
This blog is by a guy who is consistently working on the coolest projects around. From a do-it-yourself head tracking using the wii to Kinect to his work in Google – there is no one that sold me on the field of HCI more than him.


Security Now! by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte (RSS)
Hands down the one podcast that beginner programmers or people with an interest in the behind-the-scenes of computers should listen to weekly, and add another from the archives because it has been around for years. Steve is a genius and a hacker, but most importantly he has that elusive talent of being able to explain hard and complicated technical issues clearly and methodically in a way that is understandable even to laymen but is not oversimplified. If you never listened to podcasts, you should make this your first and you’ll be as addicted as me in no time.

Radio Free Python (RSS)
A podcast about python, how can it not be awesome? I only listened to the first two episodes and they have interviews with the greatest pythonistas around, including the BDFL himself, Guido van Rossum. Definitely worth a listen if you want some programming in audio form.

Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship corner (RSS)
A lecture and a Q&A by a successful entrepreneur, VC or other startup insider? YES PLEASE! If you need motivation to finish a project or to go out and start a company, just listen to a random episode and you’ll be pumped. The message is – just do it, and while you’re at it here are some tips and common mistakes to avoid. Archive includes people like Marissa Mayer, Steve Ballmer, Mark Zukerberg, etc. and basically every hot startup and successful company is represented.

A Life Well Wasted (RSS)
A shortlived but prominent podcast about games and why we play them. Only a few episodes but they are really insightful and have great production value and atmosphere. This podcast is not updated anymore but you should listen to the past episodes and just enjoy the feeling of nostalgia, bliss and pure innocent happiness.

If you still can’t get enough of RSS, here are my full RSS and podcast OPMLs (an XML format for a collection of RSS feeds). Be warned though – some of the podcasts are adult only and a lot of them are not programming related. You should customize it to your tastes and time constraints. Dome of them are in Hebrew and one is in Russian. You have been warned!

Podcasts OPML

Lastly – you should consider subscribing to my RSS feed. It is the best way to get updates, and who wouldn’t want more of this?

Got interesting items in your RSS feeds? Share them in a comment and feed my addiction.

Practical Programming Intro

Today’s blog post will introduce another series in this blog – “Practical Programming”. This series will be about developing software in the real word and about subjects that you won’t usually see in computer science curriculums.

What do I know?

Well to be honest – not much. I started a degree in high school but basically flunked out by the third semester, and never continued it. I’ve had a few professional courses in programming, but most of my knowledge and experience comes from on the job training, side projects (see my “Reflections” series), the internet and other unofficial channels over about 7 years of employment as a developer. I’ll also concede that 7 years is basically nothing, and I’m at least 3 years from even starting to master the field. So why the hell am I even qualified to write about it? Very simple – it’s my party, and I’ll write about what I want to.
Seriously though – it’s up to you to decide whether I am making sense and whether to learn from or discard what I write, or even better – start a discussion and give me your opinions.

Why is that important?

Programming the science is pretty different from programming the craft. To be successful at the craft you need way more than a mastery of a particular programming language or platform. Some general skills like teamwork are a must but also understanding project management concepts and methodologies (waterfall and agile for example), quality assurance concepts and a few other essential skills. The sad fact is that being a “rockstar” (eww) programmer is dependent more on one’s ability to ship software than on one’s skills with C.
This series will talk about the skills you need to ship software.

Some of the topics I already lined up for this series are:

  • Technical Debt
  • Continuous Integration
  • Python’s “There should only be one obvious way to do it”
  • Time Estimations

Hopefully you’ll find this series interesting and informative, and you’ll become a better developer because of it.

Why Start a Site and Blog?

To have my own unique place on the web to speak my mind and to reach an audience.

My own

There are plenty of places to speak your mind on the web – social networks, blogging platforms, wikis and the list goes on. The one thing a lot of people don’t realize is that most of those places control your content, your posts, your tweets.  Sure, some might do it less blatantly then others, some might say that they don’t censor and some have an export option, but the biggest problem is that more often than not they also control your audience. I’m not against such services (twitter is even starting to grow on me), but I don’t like the lack of control. I want my online persona to be under my own domain, designed (even poorly) by me and controlled by me.

Unique place

Continuing on the same note – is unique. Not only is that my nickname for years now, but it is also a great domain name and more importantly, brand. So yeah, it will take a lot of time, content and luck for this brand to get big, but it will be more rewarding to me than having the same reputation on twitter or Google+.

Speak my mind

Doesn’t everyone want to be heard? Isn’t attention one of the most basic needs of humans? Less philosophically – I’m going to use this space to broadcast my opinions, my knowledge and my speculations. But like everything in a pragmatic mind – those might change, become more accurate and be proven wrong by reality and by the audience. Topics for this blog include computers, programming, developing, computer games, bicycles and everything else I might get interested in.

Reach an audience

The last point, but probably the most important – while I can control what I write here, no one can really control who views it, who it reaches and who has something to say back. This blog is pretty much like every other product – you put it out there and hope that it helps someone and that someone will get passionate about it enough to start a conversation.

A sign of things to come

I mentioned the general topics I will be covering so to get me a bit more committed here is a list of upcoming subjects for posts:

A series about my github projects – since they are already out there I want to have a post or two about each detailing their history, code reviewing some stuff and capturing the knowledge in them in a more googleable way.

“Practical programming” – a series about basic modern software developing concepts that are usually not taught at school. Example topics include:

    • Technical debt
    • Agile practices
    • “There should be one– and preferably only one –obvious way to do it”
    • separation between view and logic and more and MVC

I’m gonna try and have at least two posts a week.
If that sounds interesting you should subscribe using RSS and be sure to comment and talk back so that I can improve – this side of the keyboard is new to me, so let the journey begin 🙂