A podcast series from MIT Professional Education in collaboration with Accenture Solutions

A podcast introducing your host, and then a few podcasts on random topics. [August 2009]

Miniseries on Separation of Concerns
A series of short podcasts on the fundamental idea of 'separation of concerns', and how decisions about different aspects of a software system can be decoupled from one another, so that changes are easier to make and people can work independently. Starting from the coining of the term by Dijkstra, the idea of separation of concerns is followed through requirements analysis, relational databases, abstract data types, markup languages and web service protocols. [July 2010]

Is the Internet making us stupid?
Computing technology, especially the Internet and World Wide Web, has brought many advantages to our work and leisure. But instant and continuous connectivity has a downside too: it can make us less effective in our work, less able to think well, and it can make us anxious and unrelaxed. In this short podcast series, we discuss some of the problems and suggests some ways in which we can make the most of technology and overcome some of its risks. [November 2010]

Security and Wikileaks
The recent Wikileaks episode, in which secret American diplomatic cables were released to the public, has been extensively discussed from a political and strategic perspective. But from a security perspective, little has been said. What does this episode tell us about US military security, and what can we learn from it about the role of computer and network security in our own work? [December 2010]

Adobe Lightroom: The Shape of Desktop Apps to Come
Lightroom is a new photography workflow application that has been a huge success for Adobe. What explains this success? Based on discussions I had with Lightroom's designers, I posit 8 factors that I think were particularly influential. In Part 1, I focus on four that are primarily to do with process. In Part 2, I focus on four that relate to software engineering design, and I explain how Lightroom is, in these respects, a harbinger of desktop applications to come.

Unsafe At Any Speed: Security Risks in Modern Cars
Modern cars are highly computerized, and therefore in theory vulnerable to the same kinds of security attacks that are now commonly mounted against servers and desktop machines. How serious are the risks? In this podcast, I report on some remarkable new research that demonstrated some extraordinary attacks on a modern car. [March 2011]

How Egypt Turned Off the Internet and Lessons It Taught Us
On January 27th earlier this year, Egypt's government did something unprecedented: they cut the country's connection to the Internet. How did they do it, and what does it tell us about the availability of the Internet and our reliance on networked services? [April 2011]

Expendable Identities: Illegal Downloading, IP Privacy and Anonymizers
In the biggest suit to date against BitTorrent users, Thomas Dunlap, an American lawyer, just announced that he had the IP addresses of 23,322 people who had downloaded the movie The Expendables, and that he would now trace them and sue them. In this podcast, I explain how he can do this; why your online privacy is threatened; how anonymizing services work; and whether you can safely rely on them. [May 2011]

CSRF: The Sleeping Giant
Cross-site request forgery has been called a sleeping giant. Although it's not the most common of security vulnerabilities, it's gaining in prominence and is much harder to plug than more common vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting and SQL injection. In this podcast, I explain how CSRF works, what strategies are typically used to deal with it, and why it remains an unsolved problem. [December 2011]

Is your smartphone leaking your personal info to advertisers?
Is your smart phone leaking your personal information without you knowing it? You know about the risks of giving personal details to companies that might abuse it, but did you know that you might have granted access to your private data to companies you haven’t even heard of? [April 2012]

MOOCs for Programmers: A Tour of Online Programming Courses
In the last year or two, there's been an explosion of interest in online education, and computer science courses have led the trend. In this short tour, I'll introduce you to the key players, show you some of the nifty features of the online courses, and suggest a few highlights for you to consider [November 2012]

MIT's OpenCourseware
OpenCourseware was founded in 2001, predating MOOCs by many years. It offers over 2,000 free courses online, including over 60 with full video. In this short tour, I introduce a handful of courses likely to be of particular interest to software developers. [May 2013]

Designing Documents
Whether you're an engineer, a manager or a consultant, you probably spend much of your time reading and writing documents. Just a bit of effort in the visual design of a document can make it more attractive and easier to read -- and can boost your professional image. In this short videocast, I explain some common blunders, introduce a few basic typographic ideas, and give some suggestions for making more beautiful documents. Demos in Microsoft Word are interspersed. [August 2013]

Email: Curing an addiction
Email is a fantastically useful tool, and it's hard to imagine working without it. But do you feel that dealing with email takes huge amounts of your time and is a constant distraction? You're not alone. In this videocast, I'll get the root of the problem - why email is really more like an addiction than a technical problem - and I'll give you some tips for how to deal with it. [January 2014]

Agile: Hype or Hope?
Agile approaches to software development are a hot topic. But how much is just hype? What are the good ideas, and what are the bad ones? In this podcast, I explain where agile came from, what its key ideas are, and then -- based on a new book by Bertrand Meyer -- explain why some are worth adopting and some are not. [November 2014]

Nine Ways to Reduce Stress and Be More Productive
Communication technology, especially email, is an essential part of lives but can be a major source of stress -- and can reduce our productivity. In this videocast, I'll give you the 9 best tips that I've found (both by scouring books and sites on the web, and from personal experience) on how to use these technologies, and email in particular, in a way that makes you less stressed and more productive. [May 2015]

Getting Physical: Emerging Cyberattacks
A new kind of cyberattack, not on information systems but on physical control systems, is become more widespread and poses a serious risk for all industrialized countries. In this videocast, I outline some of the threats and give three examples of recent worrying scenarios that indicate how serious our vulnerabilities are and how open our infrastructure is to attack. [July 2015]

An Introduction to Usability
What is usability and why does it matter? In this introduction to the longer podcast that follows, I focus on the usability criteria. What does it mean to be usable? Even ease of use turns out to be a notion with multiple subcriteria. [June 2016]

Essential Usability Techniques
This is a recorded lecture that surveys a wide range of techniques for achieving usability at different levels, from the physical to the conceptual. Each technique is illustrated with examples. [June 2016]

Autonomous Cars
What are the prospects for autonomous cars? This podcast discusses some of the current challenges and explains why achieving safety will be very hard given the inadequacies of today's sensor technology, the inherent challenges of driving, and the new risks of adversarial machine learning. [May 2018]

What Facebook and Google Know About You (and Why You Should Be Worried)
Facebook has been in the limelight recently, in large part because of concerns about its privacy practices, exacerbated by revelations about the leak of data to Cambridge Analytica. But, as I explain in this podcast, the threats to your privacy from Facebook—and from Google and other platforms—arise more from the larger context in which your data is extracted, analyzed, amalgamated and sold. If you think that the exposing of your data is harmless, this podcast might make you reconsider. [May 2019]

These podcasts are written and read by Daniel Jackson. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of MIT or Accenture. All similarities to real people (or software), living or dead, are coincidental. No animals or software developers were harmed in this production.

Introductory music used with kind permission of Chris Breemer via the Piano Society.

Copyright 2009-2019, Daniel Jackson