Programming Throwdown

Welcome to the new version of the Rather Read Blog. In June, I had to switch my hosting provider, because the student deal offered from 1&1 expired last year and my contract ran out. I salvaged the WordPress folder from my old server before it was shut down, but never really made an effort to actually restore my old posts.

This was the point where I decided to re-design the look of my blog, now using the AcmeBlog Theme from Acme Themes. We’ll see how well this theme works, but so far I really like the design of the theme. It reminds me of reading traditional newspapers or of the older designs of the now extinct Grantland web site from Bill Simmons (The old Grantland website is so old, that Tim Hardaway Jr. still mattered as a college prospect back then). The focus will still mainly be on data science and pop culture.

Programming Throwdown

What I wanted to present in this post is the podcast Programming Throwdown with Patrick Wheeler and Jason Gauci. I listened to around 8 episodes in the last week and really like the format. Like many good things I found out about this podcast reading the Pycoder’s Weekly Newsletter, which linked to this reddit thread.

A Programming Throwdown episode goes about 40 minutes, is released every month and has the following structure: The first 15 minutes Patrick and Jason discuss current events related to Computer Science (like the AI AlphaGo beating one of the top Go players). They also have one segment called “Book of the show” and one called “Tool of the show”, where they each present their favorite book and tool of the month. These suggestions are very good and the books are not necessarily always Computer Science textbooks, but also Science Fiction books.

In the second part of the show Patrick and Jason present the topic of the show. Most of the time it used to be programming languages like Ruby, Python and R, but they also discuss Computer Science topics, that are language independent like deploying software or your choice of text editor. They also interview experts if the opportunity presents itself. Patrick and Jason both seem really smart and have a lot to talk about each topic, but at the same time don’t feel intimidating and keep their explanations clear and simple, making following an episode on a topic you have never heard of before easy.

For a long time I didn’t think it was possible to produce a podcast focused on Computer Science topics, because I thought it would get too technical so that following the show by just listening wouldn’t be enough to understand the topics. And to a certain degree this is true. You won’t find an Programming Throwdown episode, where Jason and Patrick are going to describe a specific algorithm in detail, since the podcast format does not lend itself well to explain very complicated matters just through audio. It feels more like a casual conversation two co-workers at a tech company would have talking about a platform or tool they like to use and not like a discussion at a code review or anything similar to that. This is very good and quickly made Programming Throwdown one of my favorite podcasts.

Overall, I highly recommend this podcasts to listeners interested in Computer Science. Listening to an episode Programming Throwdown on a topic you want to learn more on is one of the best ways to gain a general overview on the topic before diving into the details.

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