The “Radiotopia” Kickstarter campaign needs you!


Last year the 99% Invisible podcast ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to go weekly.  It smashed its target and has successfully delivered a great series of weekly radio shows, maintaining a remarkable level of quality.

In the meantime the podcast has teamed up with several others to form a collective called Radiotopia, which is the basis for this year’s Kickstarter project.

I’ve not heard any of the other podcasts, but this year I have pledged more as a thank you for what I’ve heard so far and so that they can carry on producing great shows.  Long may it continue.

This year they have had a great start.  Please check out the campaign and support it if you can.  You won’t regret it – you’ll be entertained on a weekly basis, you will no doubt learn a lot and you’ll probably never look at the world in the same way again.


• Kickstarter: Radiotopia: A Storytelling Revolution




Mini review: “A Man Without Breath” by Philip Kerr (audiobook version)


I really enjoyed the first two Bernie Gunther books I read – the slightly lightweight Prague Fatale and the harrowing Field Grey – but I found this one harder to get through.  Too hard.   The plot involves Bernie being sent to western Russia to investigate the massacre of thousands of solders in a wood outside of Smolensk.  This was a real event and you can find out more about it elsewhere.  The same was the case with Field Grey.

If you are a fan of this series of books you will learn more about the main character – things that make him even more morally ambiguous.

The narration is done by the same person as before, ensuring that it is of a consistent high quality although it does suffer more here due to the large number of characters involved and some sounding similar.

The story takes a long time to get going and try as I might I did not finish the book – a rare occurrence for me.  I got about 10 hours into the 16 hour book and just felt that the story still wasn’t going anywhere.

A disappointment and a bit of a shame.

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Field Grey” by Philip Kerr (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Prague Fatale” by Philip Kerr (audiobook version)

Mini review: “True Crime” by Max Allan Collins (audiobook version)



This is the second part of the “Frank Nitti” trilogy that kicked off the long series of books featuring 1930’s Chicago PI Nate Heller.  This time he is getting mixed up with outlaws John Dillinger and the Barker gang.

I like the character a lot, this is a good story and the narration is excellent.  What more do you want?


• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “True Detective” by Max Allan Collins (audiobook version) (Book one in the series)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: Chicago Lightning – The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories

BBC Radio 4 profile of Jack Ma

With the (as this post goes to press) upcoming IPO of Alibaba on the NY stock exchange, BBC Radio 4 profiles its boss, Jack Ma.  I first wrote about Ma in 2007 when he did an interesting interview at a tech conference, which is worth checking out.

•BBC Radio 4:  Profile – Jack Ma


Hugh Howey on the FLOSS Weekly podcast

FLOSS Weekly is a podcast that features interviews with people who are heavily involved in open source software projects.  I don’t listen to all episodes of the podcast but I do listen if a project sounds interesting. I was surprised to find a recent episode featuring Hugh Howey, author of the Wool trilogy, and had to take a listen.

Interviewing an author of science fiction seems like a strange choice, but Hugh tackles subjects including self publishing, DRM, piracy and collaborating with others.   FLOSS Weekly is part of Leo Laporte’s TWiT network and I would have thought that Triangulation (a more wide-ranging technology / culture podcast) would have been a better fit.

I don’t think that this totally worked but even so, well done to both sides for doing it.  Hugh does seem to be unafraid of mixing it up with technology sites – he can also be found on a recent O’Reilly Radar podcast talking about driver-less cars and more…

• FLOSS Weekly: Self publishing

• Spare Cycles: Hugh Howey-related posts

Article: Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away

An excellent article on the myth of multitasking and the problem of distraction when trying to learn or concentrate on something important.

• Medium / Clay Shirky:  Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away