Looking Back on Hypercritical


A weekly talk show ruminating on exactly what is wrong in the world of Apple and related technologies and businesses. Nothing is so perfect that it can’t be complained about.

Sadly, John Siracusa’s “Hypercritical” podcast will be wrapping up in December. It was an amazing show. Astonishing and informative. It’s well laid out and fun to listen to. Thankfully, much of it is timeless. While many shows did get wrapped up in the news of the moment, the best of the podcast dealt with evergreen issues, complete with technical histories and constructive criticism, all with an eye towards the reality of the situations.

When all is said and done, “Hypercritical” will have lasted 100 or so episodes. It’s worth listening to all of it, but I’ll give you a short cut. Here are the highlights of the podcast, in my mind. These are the best of the show and the most representative:

  • The History of Video Game Joysticks: In which Siracusa plows through a history of home gaming console controllers, analyzing their layout, their buttons, their functionality, their joysticks, and more. It was such a gigantic topic that it spread out across multiple shows.

  • Why PHP Sucks: As a computer programmer who’s toyed with PHP before, I had an interest in this one. But Siracusa — a professional Perl programmer (like myself!) — points out all of PHP’s shortcomings, including the absurd number of functions the language has. Alternate title for this series: Perl Rules, PHP Droolz. It’s fun to listen to co-host Dan Benjamin’s disbelief when Siracusa points out the advantages of Perl as a language.

  • Why Wikipedia Sucks: It’s not about truth. It’s about quoting someone else. This should be Must Reading for any internet user.

  • A Brief History of Processor Chips: This is last week’s episode. It’s ridiculously low level and geeky, but Siracusa lays out the case for why Apple won’t be quickly shifting from Intel chips to ARM chips, with a great history of how we got to the place we are today. Intel, RISC, registers, memory, etc.

  • Walter Isaacson got it all wrong: Not surprisingly, Siracusa didn’t like the Steve Jobs bio last year, and lists all the reasons why across two episodes:

  • File Systems For the Really Really Technically Curious, and Nobody Else: This is Siracusa at his most technical. It opened my eyes to the world of file systems, but I have to admit that there were times in these shows that my eyes glazed over just a tad.

I’m sure I’ll think of ten more tomorrow and kick myself for not including them here. The earliest shows talking about the problems with TV sets and TiVo are particularly good, for example. But I need to stop somewhere. So there’s my cheat sheet guide.

Thanks for all the great (and did I mention long shows), @siracusa. Hopefully, there will be some occasions somewhere for special outings. Hypercritical will be missed.

P.S. This post was written in Markdown. John Siracusa doesn’t use Markdown. He explains why in Episode #33, “Square Bracket Colon Smiley”

3 thoughts on “Looking Back on Hypercritical

  1. Great Post! I couldn’t agree more. Loved the File System topics in particular. Those podcasts single handedly turned me into a file system nerd as a result.

    My Friday’s will now not be nearly as good. I really enjoyed joining the chat and listening along suggesting as many titles as I could type out many times having the !s populated in the chat window just being ready to pounce on a good title suggestion.

    Fingers crossed for special shows!

    Also made me realize that there are fewer and fewer podcasts I really want to check out anymore. I like 5by5 but this, along with the Talk Show, were my top podcasts. Hopefully Dan can fill the gap!

  2. Hi Eric — Thanks! Sadly, I’ve never been a jackal. Just can’t do it from work, plus I’d never have the opportunity to pay enough attention to the show even if I could sneak it in. ;-)

    The 70 Decibels network has a few good shows that are worth a listen. Try “Enough” for their “Back to Work”-ish show or “Cmd+Space” for a weekly interview show, in particular. I like parts of “Mikes on Mics” and “Home Work,” though they get repetitive for me a bit too quickly.

    At this point, I don’t listen to a single TWiT show. That ran its course for me. Sad.

  3. Would have replied sooner but I decided to stay away from my computers over the holidays.

    It helps being in control of the network to get into the chats. Fortunately I doubt anyone would be able to recognize a irc window from word.

    Ill check out those shows. Thanks!

    Twit got weird the last couple years. I still check out Security Now only because they actually have timely topics and interesting tech info but otherwise there’s nothing on tht network I can put up with anymore.

    Outside of 5by5 Mast Feed I really only listen to a handful of other shows. Adam Carolla, Talk Show, and security now.

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