I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I often travel a fair bit for work, so it’s nice to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.
No Such Thing as a Fish is a weekly British podcast series produced and presented by the researchers behind the BBC Two panel game QI. In it each of the researchers, collectively known as “The QI Elves”, present their favourite fact that they have come across that week. The most regular presenters of the podcast are James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber, although other QI researchers also make appearances, and there are guest presenters on some episodes.
I have always enjoyed QI on the television, so it was interesting to discover this podcast from the researchers behind the programme.
I don’t recall how I found the podcast, but it’s an interesting podcast full of (quite interesting) facts.
If you are expecting an audio version of QI, then look elsewhere, yes the podcast is full of quirky facts and information, but the format is different to the show. I really like the fact that it is different.
As well as facts, the banter between the hosts is also engaging and amusing. Though there are some reflections on previous episodes, I find that you can dip in and out on the podcast without having to listen to them all.
This is an enjoyable fun podcast, which you may also learn some stuff.
Today the humble text message turns twenty-seven. It was in 1992 that the first text message was sent an engineer from Vodafone, sent the message “Merry Christmas” from a PC to a mobile device using Vodafone’s UK network.
I don’t recall the first text message I sent, but it was one technology that I have never really taken advantage of.
I only really started sending text messages when I got my first iPhone. I think my problem was with predictive text or even understanding texting language. The advantage of the iPhone was a proper keyboard and not needing to try and use a numeric keypad. I could never get my head around the numeric keypad and did like and prefer the qwerty keyboard. Still have that today when people send me SMS texts, sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say! I know, I know, I am old…
Of course Messages on the iPhone isn’t actually SMS either…
I still use SMS, in the main for receiving updates from the NHS, my dentist and delivery services. I prefer SMS updates as I find that e-mail updates get lost in the volume of e-mail I get. Also SMS self organises on my iPhone and I get very little if any SMS spam.
There are signs from Ofcom that the use of texting has peaked and is on a decline.
In 2012 there were 162billion text messages sent in the UK, in 2018 there were just 74billion text messages sent, that’s a 54% drop. Source,
So Ofcom was right and we have seen a decline.
Are we sending less messages?
Well no not really, what’s also happened in that same time period is a huge increase in the use of tools such as iMessage (or is it Messages) on iOS devices, Facebook Messenger and of course WhatsApp. These services are replacing the need for sending SMS messages for many users.
I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I haven’t done a post like this for a while, let’s look, wow seven years ago…
I use to have a lengthy commute to work, and also travelled a fair bit for work, so it was nice to have something to listen to. Since about 2012 I started to commute by train, as a result I could do other things, in a car you drive and you can listen to podcasts. On a train you can do a few different things, but mainly you can look at a screen.
Recently I have been travelling a bit more by car and have been rediscovering podcasts, most have been old favourites, some of which I have already blogged about. I have also found some new ones. So decided to resurrect this blog post series.
The West Wing Weekly is an American podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina. In each episode, the hosts discuss one episode of the television program The West Wing, which originally aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006.
I really enjoyed The West Wing when it was first “broadcast” back in the early 2000s.The West Wing was an American political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin. It was broadcast in the US from 1999 to 2006.
I recently re-watched the entire first series having managed to get it for £4.99 on Amazon Prime. It was just as good as I remembered it and when the prices come back down I will probably get the rest of the series, or look for it on DVD.
Malina co-hosts the podcast The West Wing Weekly with Hrishikesh Hirway. The series debuted in March 2016.
I was intrigued and interested. So on a recent car journey, I loaded the podcast and listened to the fist few episodes relating to the first season. It often takes a couple of podcast episodes to bed in, and though I enjoyed the pilot episode, the next few I think were better.
Though I have listened to fan podcasts of shows, I think what I really enjoyed with The West Wing Weekly was the inside knowledge that Josh brings to the recording. He has worked with Aaron Sorkin the write behind the West Wing for many years including the stage version of A Few Good Men and the film, The American President. He also joined the cast of The West Wing in 2002.
The format of the show is based on the concept of having watched the episode in question, you listen to the podcast as Josh and Hrishikesh discuss the plot, the character development, the filming. They also bring in guests, so for example, in the third episode they bought in a guest, Dulé Hill, who played Presidential Aide, Charlie Young.
Though I’ve only started to listen, over the last few years the podcast has featured various cast and crew members including series creator Aaron Sorkin, director Tommy Schlamme, series actors Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Marlee Matlin, and Dulé Hill, longtime series writer-producers Eli Attie and Lawrence O’Donnell, and many former government officials, academics, and pundits, among others.
It’s interesting to listen to the analysis, seventeen years after the show was broadcast, as so much had changed since then, and we know so much more about the White House, part of which is down to The West Wing. An early example of that was the use of the term POTUS, which back then nobody knew what it meant, today we do, part of which is down to the success of the West Wing.
Josh and Hrishikesh have covered one episode a week, so at the time of writing are well into the final season, number seven. I have a bit of catching up to do… both in terms of listening to the podcast, but also watching The West Wing.
I have finally finished my relationship with Flixter and moved all my films to Google Play.
When I first started buying Blu-Rays I would purchase what the trade call, triple play movies these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device. Though more expensive than just buying the Blu-Ray what I did like about it was I could watch the film on my TV and then if I wanted to watch it again I could watch it on my laptop or on my iPad. With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video.
So I was not happy when the film distributers changed from iTunes to Ultraviolet. I blogged about this dissatisfaction with the Ultraviolet process for getting hold of the digital copies of the films I had bought, back in 2013. The process was convoluted and initially didn’t even work for me. You didn’t even use Ultraviolet to play the video files, you needed another service (and app) to do that and that’s where Flixter came in.
I never liked the Flixter app for watching films, it crashed way too often. It never remembered where you got into a film, so you had to either start watching it again, or try and fast forward to where you had left off. In theory you could download and watch the film offline, but I found that even then the app would try and authenticate online.
In January 2018 I blogged about how I was expecting to use Ultraviolet to access the digital copy, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I got an iTunes digital copy.
I got e-mails in early 2019 informing me that the Ultraviloet service was going to shut down in July 2019. In June I got e-mails about how Flixter was going to shut down too. I was quite pleased to see the end of both Ultraviolet and Flixter.
I wasn’t going top lose my films though, as they would be migrated to another service. This has always been a concern of mine about digital copies of films, especially those with DRM, what would happen to my collection if the service stopped working? I was slightly disappointed I didn’t have any choice in which service they were to be transferred to, as I usually either use iTunes or Amazon Video. The solution Flixter had chosen was Google Play, I have a few films on that service, but I usually don’t use it.
This week I got an e-mail from Flixter which described how I would migrate my collection from Flixter to Google Play. It was a pretty seamless process and now I have a large collection of films in my Google Play Library.
I recently changed hosting for my WordPress blogs. My main reasons for changing were, my host was unable to update the version of PHP which would result in being unable to update to the most recent version of WordPress. They did offer me a new hosting contract, but I would then have to migrate my blogs across, so I decided that if I needed to do that I might as well review new hosts. I had had reliability issues with my existing host. I was also concerned about upgrading to SSL (https). Both Chrome and Safari were marking non-https sites as “non-secure”.
It’s not as though I was doing e-commerce on my blogs, but it looked like Google would drop non-https sites down in their search results. I also thought the “non-secure” identification might worry people.
There were a few challenges, mainly as I took the opportunity to move a couple of my blogs to a domain of their own. I say opportunity I wasn’t sure I could recreate the same setup with the new host that I had with the old one.
This isn’t news, but I was reminded this week that a service I used in 2007 was no longer around and this was having a negative impact on one of my blog sites.
Back in 2007 I had a Nokia N73 and I used a now defunct application to upload photographs I had taken automatically to the blog. This application was called ShoZu, which had being launched in 2001 and was able to upload photographs to Flickr automatically. This was really useful, as I was on Vodafone and at that time Flickr was blocked by their content filters, so I couldn’t upload automatically. With ShoZu I was able to upload the image to the ShoZu servers and then it would upload a copy to Flickr. You could also use Shozu to post to Twitter and one function I liked was being able to upload automatically to a WordPress blog. Well it didn’t upload directly to WordPress, it merely adding HTML code and embedding the images hosted on the ShoZu server.
With ShoZu now defunct, there were no images, just dead links. So the blog posts consisted of a title and some dead HTML coding.
I have no recollection of when ShoZu went down, there was a news item in 2010 when they got taken over by Critical Path, but by then I was no longer actively using the service, having moved to an iPhone by then and having direct access to Flicker through the Flickr iOS app.
So it’s only when looking through archives of my old blog posts that I realised something may be missing.
Luckily I had copies of the images on Flickr (and on Amazon photos) so I updated the old blog posts and added copies of the images.
This wasn’t as simple as you may think as the blog post titles weren’t always clear about what the image was. However as the blog post link had the image file name in it, I could search Amazon photos for that file name and find the image.
It reminds me that embedding externally hosted content can be problematic, what happens when that service dies or is shut down. Just because something is free, doesn’t mean it will last forever.
I haven’t been on a CrossCountry train for a while now, so on a recent trip to Cheltenham Spa from Bristol Temple Meads I was interested to see how the 3G connectivity issues I’ve always had on that route would be like, especially as I now have 4G with Three.
Well same old problems, dipping in and out from 4G to 3G as well as periods of No Service.
I would like to blame the train, but the reality is that there is poor phone signal connectivity on that route. As there is no incentive for mobile network providers to improve connectivity.
If I do go to Cheltenham again, I think I will take a book!