I recently ran into a couple of interesting episodes (if that’s the term) of podcasts that I don’t regularly listen to. Hanselminutes had an interview with Martin Fowler and David Heinemeier Hansson; great stuff. Lots of good talk about design, beauty (I didn’t know that Japanese Ruby code apparently has a rather different aesthetic than American and European Ruby code), constraints.

One of my favorite moments was in a talk about naming: my understanding is that, in general, the Rails codebase is quite small, but apparently they spend some time on automatically generating plurals of English words, handling various exceptional cases, just to get table names and the like right. The reason why this struck a particular chord with me is that I actually have lines like this in my code:

  class AuthorWriter < Writer
    names(:authors, "AUTHOR")

Here we have various forms of “author” showing up three separate times; tomorrow, I’ll probably get around to adding a fourth time. Some of this is me being needlessly varied in my naming conventions, and maybe I’ll clean that up once I have the codebase converted from Java to Ruby and can get back to altering the database; having said that, I do want a table named “authors” and a class with “author” in its name, so some duplication will remain that would go away if I had a pluralization engine around!

The other neat one-off podcast was an interview by John Udell with Leonard Richardson and Sam Ruby. The two of them just wrote a book on RESTful Web Services, and I’d been thinking I should check it out from the library; I’m now thinking that I should buy a copy and read it sooner rather than later, because I’m starting to think more about that sort of thing, and am realizing that I have a lot more questions than answers.

The above are two of the podcast episodes that I’ve enjoyed the most over the last month or so. But I’m not going to subscribe to either podcast: most of the episodes are on topics that I’m not interested in, and iTunes doesn’t provide a particularly good mechanism for me to subscribe to a podcast feed but only grab isolated episodes. (You can do it, it’s just not natural.)

What I’m doing (at least for now) is subscribing to the podcasts in Reader, so the feeds get mixed in among my regular blog reading; if I see individual episodes that I like, I can copy them over to iTunes. Which also doesn’t work very well with iTunes: if the podcast is available through the iTunes store, then it’s easy enough to grab individual episodes once I’ve decided I’m interested in them, but if not, then iTunes sticks the episodes with my music instead of my podcasts, with various unsatisfactory consequences. Sigh.

Anyways, the main thing that I’ve learned is: I need to keep my antennae open for podcasts that I’m not interested in most episodes of, but that have occasional episodes that I’d quite like: I’m sure there are a lot of such podcasts out there, I just don’t know about them. Unfortunately, it’s not so clear how I’ll learn about them—I learn about new blogs by reading articles that are linked to from other blogs, but blogs don’t link to podcast episodes as often. Still, now that I’m actively looking for them, I doubt it will take too long before I have a reasonable stack of podcasts to choose from.

At which point, I suppose, I’ll have to prune my list of podcasts that I listen to every episode of, because I don’t have a whole lot of slack in my iPod listening time. (In fact, my queue was pretty out of control between the time I got back from vacation and three or four weeks ago.) But I’ll deal with that when it becomes a problem…

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