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The Java Podcasters, Part 1
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7. Is there anything else you'd like to tell the readers about the Java Posse?

Yes, come and give us a listen! We cover Java news and we have been lucky enough to get some great interviews with all sorts of folks. Jonathan Schwartz was on an interview a couple of months ago, we interviewed Josh Bloch and Cedric Beust from Google, and we just finished an interview with Howard Lewis Ship of the tapestry project (that will go out in the next week) just after Tapestry 4.0 was released (something of an exclusive scoop by our standards).

Despite the name, you don't need an iPod (or indeed any portable media player) to listen; anything that will play an MP3 (i.e., your computer) will work. Just go to the Java Posse website and click on the latest episode link to have it streamed down to your computer. Alternatively, it's dead easy to subscribe and get the episodes delivered automatically.

We intend to keep the interviews coming, and that is getting easier as time passes (people have actually heard of us now, so we are not just some kooks emailing people out of the blue and asking them to interview with us). All of this is dependent on our time, and interviews take the longest to set up, but we will keep them going.

Also, if you like the podcast, please visit our home page and check out the AdSense ads. We make a small amount of money off of them, which helps defer some of our expenses (like Libsyn), and it's an easy way to show your support.

Swampcast: Michael Levin

Swampcast home page
Swampcast podcast feed

The Swampcast is an outgrowth of Michael Levin's blog, which he describes as being about "software development, technobuzz, and everything else." The story behind it is, well, pretty involved.

1. How did the Swampcast get started, and what does the name mean?

I'm from Texas, but have spent some time in some other pretty cool places, like Prague right after the Velvet Revolution and Ireland during the dot-com boom. I worked with the Czech and Slovak American Enterprise Fund in Prague on several proposals. The Enterprise Fund was set up to promote joint ventures between Czech nationals and American entrepreneurs and the idea was to stimulate innovation and friendship. And, check out RiverDeep dot com. A team of us coded the prototype for RiverDeep in a loft above the Quinnsworth grocery on Baggott Street in Dublin! We often relaxed after work in Toner's pub across the street to traditional Irish music and cold pints of Guinness. I've always tried to surround myself with smart, fun people and I am a true believer in the adage that you don't have to know everything, just know people that do. So when I came back to the States from Ireland, I wanted to live in a fun place that was full of smart people and had lots of outdoor things to do. Enter beautiful Florida, "The Swamp."

Here's how I got involved in podcasting: I read an article by Dave Winer that described a new XML tag for Really Simple Syndication (RSS) called an "enclosure." Dave started a website based on music by the Grateful Dead. The idea was that music took too long to download in real time, and you could subscribe to this website and wind up with some Grateful Dead music downloaded automatically, in the background, every morning. He did it with XML and called the MP3s "payloads."* I loved the idea. I read up on RSS later and loved it even more, because his "payload" idea, known as an <enclosure> tag in RSS, let people record audio and syndicate it. Then, Dave teamed up with Adam Curry and I started listening to his podcasts. Finally, I ran across an Engadget article describing how to write your own RSS for podcasting. So I tried it. I'm a ham radio operator from way back (WB5GYF and EI9IR) and I like talking. In high school, I took typing for about two weeks and decided wood shop would be more useful, so I never learned to type fast. Podcasting gets the message across so much easier and opened up the door for some interesting multimedia, like adding an introduction and music. It's interesting to hear a voice rather than reading.

I started blogging in 2003 when a friend asked me to set up and host a Moveable Type weblog for him. I loved the concept of Really Simple Syndication and a user-updatable website that you could publish and subscribe to. The extensibility of the weblog itself appealed to me, too. The software for my first blog was a Python plugin to a Zope web server and it is called Squishdot.

I moved here and discovered magic places like Cedar Key. I was blogging there and telecommuting and the most incredible things happened! There I wrote "The fish that didn't get away."

I wanted to get plugged into the community in Florida, especially since I am a freelance software consultant and small business owner. Cambridge Web Design has been my business since about '95 and I do website and custom software development. So first I looked around for computer and software user groups. I looked on the Web while I lived in Ireland and found that a very sharp guy named Tilak Kasturi had founded the Orlando Java User Group and met him. I was amazed to find that there wasn't a JUG in Gainesville, so I started it! I called it GatorJUG, referring to all the alligators in Florida, and on that theme, I began the GatorJUG Podcast from the Swamp. Later, I became chairman of the OrlandoJUG, too. I also started the JUG Jobs mailing list. It's a free resource for employers and candidates. The only requirement is that a rate or salary is posted with each job. That takes the some of mystery out of the recruitment process, because you know what the rate is up front and not after a long interview process. On Podcast from the Swamp I talk about the Java user groups and their speakers, sponsors, and the people who come to the meetings. I take pictures and post them on the Swampcast weblog.

I was interviewing Andrew Davey, the creative mind behind Skookum, an incredible podcatcher that works on cellphones that run Windows for SmartPhones (Windows SP) during a podcast interview (MP3) and he suggested I shorten the name to Swampcast. It stuck.

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