Quick Curated Podcasts

During a time in my life when I was spending around 3 hours a day in a car, I developed a big appreciation for podcasts. Now that I don't travel as much, I tend to listen to them when I'm doing otherwise rote chores or driving long distances. There's a lot to love about the medium.

Hosts aren't constrained by trying to fit things in a few minute segments, or the need to constantly "reset" the conversation in case someone just tuned into the radio. Podcasts (can be) extremely cheap to make, so people can take risks. There's something, too, about listening through headphones which can lead to a far more intimate feeling; more like being on a phone call than "consuming media." I particularly enjoy those produced by comics. For those who typically have to fight to get a few minutes of stage time, the liberation they feel in having this platform is palpable. I love to hear people having fun doing what they're doing.

So, to the purpose of this post: I occasionally would listen to an episode that I thought my wife would really appreciate. I don't think she'd be into every episode of most of the shows I listen to, but I wanted a way to hand-pick a few so that she could listen. And, after a few minutes of searching, I found an approach that I love: A Personal Podcast Generator Script. I'm using his script and approach with a few small tweaks.

  1. Create a new directory in your ~/Dropbox/Public/ directory, and put the generator script in it
  2. Configure the script. (Including giving it the public URL of the directory, which you can find by alt-clicking a file and saying "copy public link".)
  3. Start downloading the episodes you like into the directory.
  4. Run the script, which creates a podcast.rss
  5. Alt-click that URL and say "copy public link"; that link is an official podcast!

I configured my wife's phone with the Apple Podcasts App, because it seemed more straightforward for this than my favorite, Downcast, and it's been working just fine for this purpose.

For reference, my shows of choice these days:

Herding IPython Notebooks

I've recently been using IPython Notebook a lot. Enough that, if it was a chemical substance, people might be thinking about staging an intervention.

It's the ideal tool for a lot of the work I end up doing -- ad-hoc data analysis (and conversion), illustrated examples of techniques, coaching/training, and so on.

One issue that it currently has (at least in the stable v1 series) is that you run an ipython notebook in a directory, and that lets you see all your notebooks just in that directory. This is actually really nice for keeping your work separate; keep a few notepads for python experiments in a private repo, keep the notepads you're using for a given work project in another, and so on.

However, I hit the situation enough that I hopped into a directory of notebooks and wondered 'am I already running a notebook server here?' that I created a quick tool, that I share with you, dear reader.

You can grab nblist from my dotfiles repo, and drop it anywhere you'd like. Right now it's OSX only, as that's where I run Notebook.

It allows you to do

$ nblist
    http://127.0.0.1:8088 | /Users/me/work/notebooks
    http://127.0.0.1:8089 | /Users/me/work/otherproject
    http://127.0.0.1:8090 | /Users/me/work/employer/thirdproject

in a terminal. Bonus tip: ⌘--click on a URL in Terminal.app will open it in the default system browser.

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