Ad-Free For Patrons

9th July 2017

A few months ago I added a new Patron-only feature of offering Ad-Free, prereleased versions of all podcasts I produce. The feedback has been quite positive as many fans of the show want to listen to the shows without advertising and self-promotion so I’m doubling-down with that moving forward.

As of today I’ve now added the entire back-catalogue of Analytical and Causality in Ad-Free format for Major Enthusiasts and above on Patreon. I’m working on doing the same for Pragmatic in the future. In some cases I’ve just clipped out any advertising or promotional content but in quite a few places I’ve also tweaked the audio, closed some gaps and the final exports are often a higher quality bitrate than the publicly released versions.

They will appear on the RSS Audio Feed embedded in Patreon for each person. Due to the nature of Patreons current podcast RSS format, there’s no way to split the episodes by Podcast, nor is there a way to back-date an audio-post entry. Ad-Free back-catalogues are therefore being released in bulk groups so they will appear in sequence in your podcast player of choice. In cases where a recent episode was early-released it will be removed and republished so it shows up in the correct sequence.

If or when Patreon improves their podcast handling I’ll refine it further at that time, but for now this should work and it’s far easier than Authenticated feeds that won’t work with some popular podcast players.

Thank you everyone for your continued support and I hope you enjoy these refined re-releases of past episodes.

Patreon Refinements

5th June 2017

The network is continuing along with some wonderful Patrons supporting it and I’ve been thinking about ways that I can give people that want to support the shows more options to choose from. I haven’t done anything with the segregation of Tiers since the network began in late 2015 so I think it’s time to refine it a bit more.

To address the recognition aspects, there is now a level for those that want a named thank you on the network home page. Beyond the existing audio bonus episodes (available for all Patrons) I’ve added another new option for those that have been asking for it. There is now an option for ad-free episodes and there are two dimensions to this:

  • new episodes will be ad-free and be released by one to two days before public release; and
  • in addition I’ll be re-editing fan favourite past episodes and releasing them via the ad-free feed.

Because of the way Patreon audio feeds work with tiering, it’s not sensible to have two sets of episodes, one with ads but pre-released, and one without, show up in the same feed across multiple tiers. For this reason I’ve separated out this ad-free option and will no longer be offering early releases of the public episodes (with ads). Hopefully that makes sense.

The truth is that early-releasing podcast episodes that are identical to their public released audio is somewhat odd given that podcasting is effectively popular because its nature is time-shifted and most people choose to listen at their convenience. I suspect mainly because of this fact, time-shifting alone was not very appealing and based on downloads and feedback, very few patrons found early-release (on its own) to be very compelling. Hence the change to an ad-free option instead.

There have been several episodes recently that were sponsor-advertising free, so when I say ad-free in those cases, I intend to strip out all self-promotion as well. If you’re a Patron listening to the ad-free version, you already know where to find the network Patreon, and what the other shows are, so I don’t need to tell you about all of that! Episodes will just…start…with brief introductions and they’ll end…quickly. Tighter. Focused. More inline with the original intent.

There’s one more thing.

I’ve been asked to cover some very interesting topics over the years, but one thing I’ve also been asked for every now and then is to produce a behind the scenes or a making of the show, video documentary of sorts. Whilst I remain somewhat skeptical that it would be very interesting I put myself in your hands. If you’d like that, let me know. Now you can. The concept is that every month there is at least one person interested in that I’ll release a video segment exclusively for those supporters. If there’s enough interest I’ll cover:

  • Topic Selection
  • Preparation and Research
  • Recording
  • Post-Production (iPad and Mac)
  • Audio Equipment

It will be released in 1080p if there’s any interest, and if not, that’s totally fine.

Show Updates

Causality recently had its first 3,000 downloads episode and continues to gain popularity. I’ve just kicked off a multi-episode arc that looks at my own wheelhouse: Control System Engineering root causes for major disasters. At the end of the arc there will be a special episode that brings it all together. And there’s lots more to come with Causality.

Analytical continues to be my place for ideas that don’t fit elsewhere and it’s a quick and fun show to make so I’m going to keep making it. I’ve had some great feedback about certain episodes and it’s good to be able to dig into more philosophical and management of people related issues. Lots more still to come.

Pragmatic remains the most popular show on the network and I’ll be bringing on more guest hosts in coming months. I have plans for some episodes on Tesla, Elon Musk’s ventures and a long-awaited revisit to the battery problem where we’ll dive into the changing landscape of offline storage and ask the question: has the battery problem been solved? So much great stuff in the pipeline for the show. It’s far from done.

Finally I’d like to wrap by once again thanking the supporters of the network, as well as the listeners, for your continued support. I will keep making more episodes as long as I am able and backed by such great people.

Thanks and take care, John Chidgey

Making Causality

21st December 2016

At 14 episodes over as many months and with 2016 drawing to a close I wanted to take a few moments to walk through why and what I do to make this podcast. Throughout my career I’ve come across so many things that went wrong on different scales, some with lethal consequences but most, thankfully not. For the greater world there is no shortage of mistakes and incidents that I’ve taken a personal interest in during my life. As an engineer when I read about a cruise ship sinking, bridges collapsing, and nuclear reactors surviving a Tsunami (or not) I can’t help but think - what could have been done differently?

I approach every episode of Causality wearing my professional hat as best I can. If there’s anything I’m not convinced by, I’ll dig further until I’m satisfied. I’ve read a lot of inquiry findings and investigation reports and am aware of the biases that often creep in and affect the words on the page, the over-dramatisation of documentaries and the twisting of the facts to get the desired finding. Facts don’t lie if you dig deep enough.

Unsatisfied with the English translated section of the Amagasaki "accident" report I spent hours digging through the Japanese version of the sections relating to mental state of the driver bouncing between different translation tools to try and understand whether the driver had been getting enough sleep. Unable to locate a single definition source of information about Flint Michigan I went over dozens of articles on what lead up to the incident and dug through some textbooks on corrosion control techniques to understand what actually happened to the water supply. Unhappy with the popular documentary on BP Texas, I went through the multi-hundred page report and the Chemical Safety Board depiction of the event and stripped out the details that made the most sense as the root causes. That’s just three examples that come to mind.

This level of research, comprehension and effort takes time and that’s why it can take up to 30 hours of preparation and 5 hours of recording, editing and post-production to create a single episode of Causality. This is why there is typically one a month.

Causality has been a chance for me to connect my online and offline worlds in a positive way. I like to think that engineers listen to the show and can learn something from the conclusions drawn in each one. Even if they don’t, I personally have learned a huge amount from researching and questioning the official stories and in trying to comprehend what went wrong, I’ve ended up picking up some things to be wary of myself in my own career. It’s my hope that this can be a different way for people to learn about fault finding, root cause analysis and understanding that incidents can be prevented and that nothing is truly an "accident".

I will put whatever spare time I can into making every episode as good as I possibly can and whilst this is far from my full time job I try to treat it as if it were. I couldn’t make this show without the support of listeners and especially Patrons of the show via Patreon. Thank you all for your support, your encouragement and your feedback.