Monday, November 26, 2007

This Week in Tech (TWiT)

TWiT is an award winning weekly technology centered podcast hosted by Leo Laporte and is one of thirteen podcasts or video casts available from TWiT.TV. The website Digg identifies TWiT as the second most popular podcast in all of its categories, collecting twice as many votes as the third place entry. Other podcast centric websites have listed TWiT as it’s most popular. TWiT is downloadable from iTunes, but the availability of past episodes is limited to about twenty. The entire collection of episodes is obtainable from the TWiT.TV website with the length of the episodes from iTunes and the website averaging about an hour. The Emmy winning Leo Laporte is the author of several technology related books and articles and a former host of the cable television shows The Screen Savers and Call for Help. He presently hosts a technology program on Canadian television, a syndicated Los Angeles radio program, and is a repeat guest as a technology expert on several U.S. television programs. A biography of Laporte is available in his Wikipedia entry, although Laporte stated during one of the TWiT broadcasts that the entry contained inaccuracies. A probably truthful assertion since past entries described Laporte as a “nobody” and it is unlikely he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

TWiT is a round table discussion following a rough agenda prepared by Laporte. Regulars to the program include the outspoken John C. Dvorak and several Screen Savers and Call for Help denizens. Program guests have ranged from Apple computer founder Steve Wozniak, computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, and science fiction author Jerry Pournelle. The tone of the show is informal and mostly friendly. Ordinarily, the participants discuss consumer electronics although occasionally the conversation can drift toward technology that is more esoteric. Ironically, for a show about technology, the drawback to the program is technical. The participants are scattered around the world and the roundtable is connected by cellular or voice over internet telephone. Dropped calls, low quality connections, background noises, and unplanned events do occur. During one episode the inflatable exercise ball Laporte was using as a chair audibly burst. While these occurrences add to the informality of the program, and sometimes provide an element of humor, they can accumulate quickly during an episode and become an annoyance.

TWiT accepts commercial sponsorship but rather than being an irritating commercial, Laporte skillfully blends the sponsor’s plug into the roundtable discussion. A moment that could be tiresome with repeated listening is instead varied and interesting as the roundtable members discuss their use of the sponsor’s products.

Amidst the abundance of consumer reviews available through the Internet and popular media, TWiT stands out by providing unique insights concerning the latest and greatest gadgets. Laporte and his colleagues provide pertinent information in a lively and amicable style. If you have an interest in the latest technology and the time to listen, TWiT is one of the podcasts you should be downloading.

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