Podcasts may be one of the hottest content delivery channels out there today, but I have to confess that I’m late to the party. Although my iPod is full of tunes, I don’t really get the point of downloading something other than music.
But it seems like lately I can’t walk into a company without podcasts coming up. So I figured I better find out what the hubbub is all about.
Recently I downloaded two podcasts to my iPod, one on embedded systems and the other on DSPs. Each ran less than 20 minutes each, but I found I had difficulty “finding the time” to listen to them. To be honest, it felt too much like work.
The perfect opportunity finally presented itself on a cross-country flight. It was that or “Big Momma’s House 2.”
The first podcast, titled “What is Embedded?” was produced by National Instruments. It featured an interview with applications engineers of the LabVIEW Embedded Group. Overall I think the 16:58 minute interview fulfilled its promise, but I found my attention straying at times. Conversely, I found Sumner giving short shrift to some of the more potentially interesting topics.
The second podcast was installment #6 in a TI series called Video360. Promising a look at trends in the DSP market, the fact that it featured a consultant should have been a warning sign: It had an Infomercial-like quality that had me zoning out pretty quickly.
Based on this experience, am I going to start listening to podcasts regularly? I doubt it.
I think if companies want to reach an engineering audience with this stuff, they need to find a more compelling way to exploit the medium—more behind-the scenes stuff from app engineers, more humor, more off-the-script spontaneity, and more, well, audio effects.
What comes to my mind is the kind of stuff that happens during live demos by app engineers. One of my all-time favorites was a highly entertaining presentation on CompactRIO (NI’s lower-cost control and acquisition system) at NIWeek, National Instruments’ annual user conference.
Engineer Alain Moriat took a CompactRIO system (a programmable automation controller) and connected it up with a measurement microphone and the auditorium’s PA system. He then announced that he was going to “enhance” keynote host Tim Dehne’s voice by changing the characteristics of several filters that run on the CompactRIO FPGA. In this voice-altering experiment, Moriat had Dehne sounding first like George Burns playing God, then Alvin the Chipmunk. Listen to it here.
There are of course many more serious ways for engineers to learn about the capabilities of CompactRIO. That’s what text is for—not Podcasts.