Modern Software Podcast logoThe latest edition of the New Relic Modern Software Podcast doesn’t shy away from hot-button topics, including the implications of the epic, ongoing confrontation between Apple and the feds over unlocking the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooters (see This Week in Modern Software: The Great Apple/FBI Encryption Debate).

The podcast crew—Jay Fry, Todd Etchieson, and first-time guest Clay Smith—debate the implications of the fight over security and privacy between the largest tech company on the planet and the government of the United States, both sides equipped to lawyer up to almost an infinite degree. Our initial conclusion: this isn’t the end of the debate, but no matter how it turns it out we’re hoping for at least a bit of clarity on the rules going forward (time code 1:41).

In the meantime, of course, there’s lots more to talk about in the world of modern software. The team also looks at the outsized impact of virtual reality on last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (see This Week in Modern Software: Biggest Hits From Mobile’s Main Event), and whether the technology is finally ready for prime time (9:58).

Next, the panel looks at A New Breed of Trader on Wall Street: Coders With a Ph.D, which tells the tale of a successful Wall Street ETF trading firm where the programmers aren’t just sitting in the back room, they’re running the company. Clay offers some particularly insightful commentary (17:08).

Esther Schindler

Esther Schindler

Then, we have some fun discussing Morgan Freeman’s role of a lifetime: voicing the directions on Google’s Waze traffic and navigation app. Are famous, relatable voices the new gold standard in software interfaces, or just a gimmick to promote a new movie? If the panel is right, a little bit of both (21:55).

Finally, my co-host Tori Wieldt and I interview veteran technology writer/editor Esther Schindler about her post for the New Relic blog on 8 Ways to Become a Better Coder. The post has quickly become our most popular story of the year. Esther tells us about where the ideas behind it came from, talks about how to tell whether you’re actually getting better, and if eight wasn’t enough, even offers a bonus tip on boosting your programming skills. We especially love her points that “the code works” isn’t where you stop, it’s where you start; that to really improve, programmers need the freedom to screw up on projects without huge consequences; and that often the biggest barrier to learning is thinking that you already know it all (26:02). (At one point, Esther mentions an email from Eric Raymond to Linus Torvalds back in 2000 about “The Curse of the Gifted Programmer.” As promised, you can read the email here. )

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Note: The intro music for the Modern Software Podcast is courtesy of Audionautix.'

Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite,, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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