2020 Developer Podcasts

May 26, 2020

Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash (https://unsplash.com) Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash

TL;DR list

New for 2020:

Rolled over from 2019:

How I listen to podcasts

Pre-COVID 95% of my listening happened in the car, while commuting to work.

Post-COVID, since I've been working from home, you would think there are less to listen, but no. I get more listening time than ever, for virtue of the fact that now I can listen while exercising, and I do that on a strict day-on/day-off schedule. In addition, I've taken to listening while doing various tasks around the place, like preparing meals and other chores.

Well, ok, I still drive a little. Not driving a car for months is really bad for it, so I "exercise" it once a week, to keep the battery running, the fluids circulating, the brakes from rusting, and prevent the tires from fusing into the ground. And this makes another opportunity for listening.

I can't listen to any form of talk radio while I'm doing actual, creative work, although music is fine. A podcast requires my attention, and it only works for me while I'm performing mindless, physical tasks like driving and exercising.

Another aspect is that, over time, I've been slowly increasing the playback speed in my podcast app. It's a great technique for cramming more time into a limited listening schedule. So far I'm up to 1.4x, but I aim to raise it higher. I need time to get acclimated to each 0.1x increase, so I do it slowly, over a period of months.

The great Spotify debacle, and an alternate podcatcher

In the latter half of 2019 a controversy brewed around Spotify and their podcasting practices. I was - and still am - a subscriber. I use it mainly as my music library, but I was very happy it also had all the podcasts I could ever want. Well, most great products/services/companies will screw up sooner or later, as revenue and hubris grow hand-in-hand, and unfortunately Spotify wasn't about to curb the trend.

When Spotify announced they would be inserting their own ads into podcasts (even for Premium users, and in addition to the ones embedded by the creators), it made subscribers understandably mad. There followed an exodus from the platform, and the race was on to discover new podcast providers.

This proved to be a good thing, for me at least, because I decided to give Pocket Casts a try. And boy, was it a huge improvement over Spotify! For context, I use the Android app on my phone. Not only is the app free (though I would buy it in a heartbeat if it still cost money), but it has an amazing workflow for listening to and managing podcasts. The queueing system and play controls (just to name a couple) are marvelous. Of course, it has all the podcasts I need.

If you haven't tried Pocket Casts yet, I highly recommend it. It is head and shoulders above Spotify's player in terms of features, stability, ease of use and so much more. It may very well make your life easier, and that's no exaggeration.

2020 podcasts in depth

I am not going to rehash everything I said about the original list I posted last year so just read the 2019 article for more details.

Building Livewire

Building Livewire podcast

Twitter N/A

Hosted by Caleb Porzio

Length 10m

What is it about? Caleb shares short, 10 minute thoughts and snippets from his experience building Livewire for the past 1+ year. I love these insightful, quick-fire episodes that don't require a big mental commitment, but at the same time manage to condense essential ideas in an easily-digestible format.

Twenty Percent Time

Twenty Percent Time podcast

Twitter TwentyPercentTime

Hosted by the folks at Tighten

Length ~20-30m

What is it about? Tighten is a prominent company in the Laravel community, and I've had a soft-spot for them for a long time. This is not a new podcast, but after a hiatus, they are back with new content. New episodes focus on discussions with company employees on various developer-related topics, from code techniques to ops to procedures. Very insightful stuff that sheds light on the inner workings of a successful software consultancy.


BaseCode podcast

Twitter N/A

Hosted by Jason McCreary and Jess Archer

Length ~20-30m

What is it about? Hosted by two prominent members of the Laravel community, the show discusses various programming techniques and challenges, testing and patterns. The technical discussion is slightly more in depth than other podcasts, but it's straight to the point and very easy to follow.

Ladybug Podcast

Ladybug Podcast podcast

Twitter Ladybug Podcast

Hosted by Kelly Vaughn, Emma Bostian, and Ali Spittel

Length ~40m-1h+

What is it about? A podcast by lady developers with topics ranging from personal development to technical discussions and design, to soft skills and beginner-friendly advice.

Happy Dev

Happy Dev podcast

Twitter Happy Dev

Hosted by James Brooks

Length ~40m-1h

What is it about? James is a core member of the Laravel team, and his show takes a different tack than other podcasts. Each episode is an interview with a prominent person from the Laravel community, discussing problems related to mental health that are well-known to affect developers.

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