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This Week in Tech 468
Leo Laporte: It’s time for TWIT. This Week in Tech. We’ve got a surprise guest today. Jerry Pournelle is here, Larry Magid, Christina Warren will talk about the latest tech news. Apple’s quarterly results, iPhone rumors and a tale of two selfies. Plus our special guest coming up next on TWIT.
Netcasts you love from people you trust. This is TWIT! Bandwidth for This Week in Tech is provided by CacheFly. At cachefly.com. This is TWIT, This Week in Tech episode #468 recorded July 27, 2014
Surfin’ the Apocalypse
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It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Tech, the show that covers the week’s tech news. We have a very special show today. We welcome of course, Christina Warren, film girl, always great to have her from Mashable, joining us from the East coast. Larry Magid from CBS radio in his brand new studio joining us from the west coast. Nice to have you Larry. But we’ve got two veterans of science fiction. Two of the greatest writers I know, Jerry Pournelle has been on TWIT many times. We’ve talked about Jerry’s books and my career was inspired by Jerry’s column Chaos Manner in Byte Magazine for many years. Chaos Manner is back, we’re going to talk about that. Jerry is not in his usual den with the wall to wall books. You’re somewhere else Jerry, where are you today?
Jerry Pournelle: I’m in Larry Niven’s office.
Leo: Larry Niven?
Jerry: Can you hear me?
Leo: I hear you.
Jerry: Yeah, Larry Niven.
Leo: Boy, I would love to meet Larry Niven, he of course your co-author for Lucifer’s Hammer and so many great books. The creator of the Ringworld series and so forth. It would be so fun, one of these days you have to bring him on the show with you. Will you? There he is. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s so nice to meet you, Larry Niven. Such a fan and so glad that you and Jerry continue to collaborate. I didn’t realize you were still working on books together.
Larry Niven: WE love collaborating. It’s how we get our hiking in. Talk story during a hike.
Larry Niven: It’s a lot better than we used to do, which was drink.
Leo: You’ve gone healthy on us. That’s cool. In fact, a lot of people in Silicon Valley do this, Steve Jobs very famously would take job prospects on a hike with him. Mark Zuckerberg does something similar. I think the mind, the blood is going, the mind is working and there’s also a law that if you’re distracted by something your subconscious can work more effectively. You are more creative, that’s why you have great ideas in the shower.
Larry Niven: Yes. Hiking works and Jerry is serious, we’re getting more blood to the brain.
Leo: Absolutely. Until you start showering together, it would be the best way to collaborate
Larry Niven: We haven’t done that.
Leo: Not in the cards.
Jerry: We do go in the sauna though.
Leo: Sauna. A very good place to come up with great ideas
Jerry: Yeah, Larry has a sauna.
Leo: I love saunas. I’m a fan. So are you still in California guys? What state are you in?
Larry Niven: We’re in California, in Chatsworth, CA.
Larry Niven: Northwest corner of Los Angeles County
Larry Magid: You’re not far from home, Jerry.
Jerry: No about 20 miles. He used to be a little closer, he used to be in Tarzana, which is was a very appropriate place for a science fiction writer to be from.
Leo: Wait a minute. Is Tarzana named after Tarzan?
Larry Niven: Of the apes. Yes.
Leo: Edgar Rice Burroughs who was also a science fiction confabulist as well.
Jerry: Burroughs’ family owned most of the land and they developed it.
Leo: I had no idea. With the proceeds from the Tarzan books?
Larry Niven: Yes, and the related science fiction. He was the king of science fiction.
Leo: Yes, he was.
Larry Niven: There is a display of Tarzan memorabilia in the Tarzana post office
Leo: I had no idea. I think you should have a town called Lucifihama.
Larry Niven: I fear not
Leo: Not quite so much. What are you guys? Jerry kind of eluded to the fact that you are working on something new together. What are you working on?
Larry Niven: Let me start with a conversation that happened during a hike. We were hiking with E King whom you haven’t met. Steven Barnes, I don’t know, and Jerry and me. We were hiking and the subject of Lucifer’s Hammer came up. I presently admitted that I had always known how to save the surfer.
Leo: Gil the surfer, and I have seen quotes that said you wished you had saved him.
Larry Niven: If you’ve seen that, I’m not sure where they came from
Larry Niven: Because, they demanded I save him, write a story saving him. I waffled and thought about it for a while. I decided I didn’t want to save him
Larry Niven: What I’ve written is a ghost story
Leo: Just for people who haven’t read, and you should read Lucifer’s Hammer. Giant comet hits planet Earth and causes a huge tidal wave. The surfer decides if he’s going to go, he’s going to go with a bang. He tries to ride the tidal wave, which would have worked fine if an apartment building hadn’t intervened. Am I correct, is that an accurate summary.
Larry Niven: Yeah, that is a succinct description of it. Accurate in every respect.
Jerry: Let me a set a piece of stage here. You understand that on a collaboration we each about 90% of the work. The surfer is all his. I couldn’t have dreamed that up in a million years. Nature magazine, a few years ago, had a 30th anniversary of Lucifer’s Hammer.
Leo: We hear Jerry talking off mic, we got to get Jerry back. Larry, his Skype just dropped out. You’re still there. Go slap the back of his head. Go sit next to Larry, Jerry. Alex! Jerry’s son Alex, who is really a good IT guy. Both Larry Magid know him from all those trade shows that he does the IT for, including showstoppers. Not yet, we’re working on it.
Larry Niven: I don’t see him. Jerry is here in voice
Leo: I’m hearing from a distance, I’m hearing him through your mic Larry.
Larry Niven: The screen is showing something else.
Leo: Yeah. His Skype is down, we only hear him because we hear him through your mic. Far away!
Larry Niven: You’re hearing Jerry through my mic?
Leo: Yeah that’s why we can hear him. We got him!
Jerry: Back to the story.
Leo: Set the stage.
Jerry: Ok, so anyway, Nature Magazine runs this review of Lucifer’s Hammer on the 40th anniversary or something of the sort. We did a lot of science and technology in that story right?
Leo: Oh yeah.
Jerry: What is the first page of Nature Magazine, which is the world’s physics magazine? What does it show? Of course it has the surfer scene. Everybody remembers the surfer but they don’t remember another thing in the story. Now you know why Niven and I work together. I do the plots and he does the stuff people remember.
Larry Niven: I love it!
Leo: It is very memorable for some reason. You know what I remember most from Lucifer’s Hammer? I think I mention this before Jerry. When the infrastructure of the world is destroyed by this comet, it turns out that everybody has been using technology, but nobody knows how to remake it. It’s almost for us, magical. It really reminds me of the world we live in today. We may be using iPads and computers and smartphones. Could we recreate it if something should happen? Probably not.
Jerry: Well, yes and no. Actually, the story Larry wrote, which may be a ghost story and may be real. Has a good bit of some of the aftermath as to what happening.
Leo: Oh good
Jerry: It certainly true that most of the people in this world accept the fruits of technology the same as a kitten accepts milk when you pour it into a bowl. And are about as capable of recreating it as a kitten would be. There are still some people who can do it.
Leo: There are
Jerry: You remember in Lucifer’s Hammer, we did preserve the knowledge of how to do a lot of that.
Jerry: Much of it preserved as books wrapped up in zip lock bags and thrown into a septic tank to hide them.
Larry Niven: We turned one of our friends into a wizard
Leo: I’m really glad that there is more coming. When are we going to see this? And where?
Jerry: It’s my turn and I guess I’ll need to get… I’ve been playing with my new toy, you’re talking about the Wall Street Journal, I had it on the screen here a minute ago.
Leo: What is that?
Jerry: This is a Session, no I’m sorry a Surface.
Leo: Oh you got the Surface Pro 3? The new Microsoft Surface.
Jerry: I have a Surface Pro 3 and I’m just getting to learn about it so I’m not going to say too much now but I love it.
Leo: Larry Niven are you as much of a geek as Jerry is?
Larry Niven: No I’m not. I don’t have the nerve for it. As I was telling you earlier, I have a perfectly good low heartbeat. Perfectly good low blood pressure because I don’t try to solve machines the way Jerry does. I’ve watched him for years and he always goes nuts. He goes into a flurry of confusion and gradually works his way out of it, much more easily and further than I could.
Leo: Which is why I’ve read Chaos Manner each and every month in Byte Magazine. You said Larry, I mean Jerry is kind of coming back. What’s the latest on Chaos Manner?
Jerry: When I’ve learned this machine a little better, there is my Wall Street Journal. When I get a little more used to this, I’m calling it a precious. As in oh my precious. I will be doing it within a month
Chad Johnson: We lost him again.
Leo: I hope he can figure out how to use Skype. It’s because we’re sharing Skype with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and unfortunately Alex got yours working better Larry, than he got Jerry’s working. I’m sorry to say. Larry what do you use to write with
Larry Niven: I watched the agony
Leo: It is agony and I see your blood pressure is already going up. Kick Jerry right out, right now if I were you. Christina is gone. The whole thing is falling apart.
Christina Warren: I think I’m back.
Leo: The wheels are falling off the ship! Larry Niven, you do write on a computer at least right?
Larry Niven: Yes I do. Jerry Pournelle and a guy named Tony Peach worked up a computer for use by writers. When he had it perfected he made me duplicate it. I duplicated it twice because those were the days when you needed spare parts.
Leo: What do you use Microsoft Word? What do you write in?
Larry Niven: Microsoft Word didn’t exist then. Yes, I use Microsoft Word.
Leo: Yeah. For some reason I imagine both you and Jerry using some ancient PFS Write or something. Some ancient technology.
Larry Niven: Jerry keeps up.
Leo: Yeah, he keeps up. A lot of writers I know don’t want to think about the technology, they want it to get out of the way. They just want to write. Who was it, George RR Martin uses WordStar?
Larry Niven: This is the wizard of Chaos Manner you’re talking about.
Leo: Yeah I know.
Larry Niven: He has to keep up, even when a science fiction writer doesn’t
Leo: It’s so true. Hey Larry Niven I want to thank you so much for being here. I look forward to finding out what happens to Gil the surfer. A ghost story. Kick Jerry in the butt because Jerry is falling down on the job these days.
Larry Niven: It will be a bigger story by the time Jerry gets through. He’s got some other things going on elsewhere in the world following Lucifer’s Hammer.
Leo: Is the wordy one?
Larry Niven: Yeah, Jerry is the wordy one.
Jerry: I work angles Leo. Larry has told a perfectly good story. It would be publishable now, but when I’m finished with it, it will probably be half again, maybe twice as long and it will have some subplots in it that are not in what he has done. I make them all come together and then he goes over it and finds some scene that everybody will remember and they’ll forget that I had any part in it. What the hell?
Leo: Jerry is a filigreeist, he just adds the baroque detail to the story
Larry Niven: Well that’s close
Jerry: I’m the filigreeist and I’m the mad one.
Larry Niven: Jerry is entirely happy with the notion that I’m the mad one.
You’ll have to forgive me for being a little fan boy here. I’m so thrilled to talk you, Jerry of course an inspiration for my career. I love the stuff you do together and Larry Niven’s Ringworld and all the stuff you’ve done on your own too is just some of the best science fiction ever written and a must read for anybody who hasn’t yet. Just start with Ringworld and work your way through that by itself. Then start with Lucifer’s Hammer and the Mote In God’s Eye. Jerry has even done some young adult stuff I know, with this theme. There’s a lot of great stuff to read. And Roberta right?
Larry Niven: We did some short stories.
Leo: Is Roberta writing too? Your daughters writing right?
Jerry: My daughter Jennifer has written a sequel to Mote, yes.
Leo: So it’s a family thing. We’re telling you, we’re working on Moteville, USA. If Edgar Rice Burroughs can have it, you can too. Thank you so much Larry Niven, because we are going to get very boring as we talk about tech news.
Larry Niven: Ok have fun
Leo: Take care
Larry Magid: Nice to meet you Larry
Leo: More outies. It’s so fun, one of the great science fiction writers, Jerry thank you for bringing Larry out. I’ve always wanted to get the two of you together.
Jerry: You’re welcome.
Leo: You know what I’d like to do down the road is do an hour with the two of you.
Jerry: Yeah sometime.
Leo: If we could work that out, I’d like to do that. Let’s take a break, when we come back we’ve got some big stories to talk about. Just came out, the final word that YouTube has purchased Twitch. This was rumored for months. Twitch.tv for a billion dollars. We’ll talk about that and a whole lot more coming up. With film girl, Christina Warren, from Mashable, Larry Magid from CBS.
Larry Niven: Thank you that was fun.
Leo: It was fun, thank you Larry. We appreciate it. Our show today brought to you by our friends at stamps.com. Why go to the post office if you’re mailing stuff for your business, you want to do a great job on fulfillment. Stamps.com gives you all the power of a professional mailing house at your desk. Better than the post office. Your computer, your printer, you don’t need special inks, you don’t need a postage meter. You just need stamps.com. Most of all, you don’t need to be a tech expert. If you’re selling on Etsy, or EBay or Amazon, if you’re a business where you send out mailers or invoices. Why go to the post office and buy stamps, put them on. It’s not professional looking. With stamps.com you can print right on the envelope, your logo, the return address is automatically there. You can pull the recipients address from your QuickBooks, from your website. It just makes it easy. Plus you will get discounts you won’t get at the post office if you’re sending express mail or priority mail. You get discounts plus they’ll send out the email automatically for you. The confirmation email. Return receipt, they do international customs forms automatically. Automatic address verification. It really is a great way to do. Even discounted package insurance all in one click. The best part is, the mail carrier comes to your house picks it up and takes it away. That’s it, you’re done. There is even a big button on the stamps.com site that says bring that carrier out I want him again. Post office loves stamps.com. They’re a perfect partner, you will too and that’s why I want you try it right now with our no risk trial. It’s a $110 bonus offer. Go to stamp.com, click the microphone in the upper right hand corner and you’ll get a digital scale, $55 in free postage. You’ll get a $5 supplies kit and a four week trial of stamps.com. This is a great offer. Go to stamps.com before you do anything else, click the microphone on the top of the top of the home page, type in TWIT. IF you’re doing mailing for your business, you really need to know about stamps.com. I get a lot of packages, every day I get packages. I can always tell if it’s a professional outfitter or if there is 18 stamps on there. I know the difference. Let’s see. This was a week for quarter profits. Sometimes this is the least interesting news of the year. How Apple did. How Microsoft did. Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones in its 3rd quarter. The slowest quarter. They had revenue of $37 billion. Not so bad. Anything to deduce from this? We were hoping that Tim Cook or the new CFO would leak something about an expectation on an iWatch or IPhone. Larry did you listen to the conference call? Did they say anything?
Larry Magid: No, we can’t say what Apple is going to do, although nothing to contradict rumor mills either in terms of the iPhone 6 or some of the wearables. The most interesting news is that iPad sales are down.
Leo: That’s at least the 2nd quarter.
Larry M: That doesn’t really surprise me, I actually predicted that at the beginning. As much as I admired Steve Jobs, I do not think they were the end of the PC, they were simply another type of PC that people use along with the devices. As somebody pointed out today another problem with iPads, is they don’t break.
Leo: Everybody has got one.
Larry M: If it’s two or three years old, so what? It still does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Is it really worth going out and spending hundreds of dollars more for one that is slightly lighter than the one was pretty light to begin with? It maybe that they just don’t have any replacement market to bum the enthusiasm. The problem is plenty of Android tablets where, I’m very picky about my phone, I’m not all picky about what tablet I use because what I do on it they all seem to work just fine. Frankly, I don’t use tablets very often. I know there are other people who use them much more frequently than I do but I think it’s not necessarily such a big deal. That was to me the news and the other news is that Macs are doing very well. Despite the supposed post-personal computer era, Apple’s personal computer business is thriving as it deserves to because they have some great products out there.
Leo: They sold 13.3 million iPhones that is down 9% from this time last year. I’m looking for the Mac sales.
Christina: They were 4.48 I think. They were up.
Leo: Up, it’s still a fraction of the iPad sales.
Larry M: I wouldn’t buy an iPhone. To be honest I wouldn’t buy any phone right now until the iPhone 6 comes out. I want to see what it looks like. I’m telling people if you can wait until the 6 comes out, whether you’re an Android person or an iPhone person it doesn’t matter. See what Apple is coming out with and then make your buying decision. Maybe you’ll be an Android phone, but why would somebody buy an iPhone 5?
Leo: In fact, isn’t that what Apple, the one kind of personal bit that came through this call, the moaning and groaning that rumors have depressed iPhone sales.
Christina: Well they were still up. There were 35.6 million iPhones. That’s really high, especially for their slowest quarter. iPads were soft and they were year over year but iPhones were actually up. They were up in a lot of their international markets which are likely less sensitive about the new release. I think the new releases are mostly where their saturated, so the U.S. and Western Europe. Whereas other markets it’s more about getting the first iPhone versus replacing to the latest greatest. iPad sales were definitely down but the iPhone did really well. The Mac sales, they’re still a fraction of iPhone and iPad but when you compare Mac sales to the PC market at large, they are up 14% whereas the overall market is down 20%. It’s a really interesting dichotomy right there.
Leo: Can’t we deduce anything from the fact that iPod sales down 36%, iPad sales down 9%, Mac sales up, iPhone sales up, is there a trend that you can say people if they’re going to get a computer now a days, they’re going to get a big computer? Most people are just buying phones. It seems to me, we’re not only in the post-PC world, and I’ve said this before, we’re in the post-tablet world. The phone is becoming the device of choice.
Christina: Right, I think exactly.
Larry M: Go ahead Christy, you say it.
Christina: Sorry, what I was going to say is, maybe the mistake a lot of us made and I would include myself, is seeing the iPad as the ultimate PC replacement when that’s not really true. It might be in some situations, maybe education, maybe for certain business scenarios, but the real replacement for the computer, especially in the emerging world, in the developing world is going to be the phone. This is what you’re going to sell more of time over time rather than the tablet. To your point earlier, the life cycle of tablets has been incredibly long. It is interesting, I was actually writing something about I’m not ready to call tablets the new netbooks yet. I think that we misjudged the market for but I don’t think its dead. Tablet sales at least in North America are down across the board. It’s not just Apple sales. They’re down worldwide. They’re actually only 11% growth for the year compared with 50% growth last year. I think that as a boom item if anyone thought it was going to be the next smartphone they were wrong. How long they last and how they’ll merge with current PCs remains to be seen. Definitely I think this is the future computer.
Leo: Jerry I know you love your iPad but I notice you’ve got a Surface. Do you feel like that Surface Pro is a tablet, a PC laptop or both?
Jerry: It maybe all of them. One of things that nobody seemed to be considering is that have you seen the Samsung, the big phones that are…
Leo: I have a Note 3, the Note 4 is coming out
Jerry: the size of a tablet.
Leo: The rumor and I don’t buy it, the rumor is that Apple will do a 5.5 inch iPhone. That’s pretty, we call those fablets. Do you think Christina that they’ll do a 5.5 inch?
Leo: No I think it’s bogus
Christina: I think it’s totally bogus and I think that what’s even more bogus is the rumor that they’ll have two launches. That is insane. Anybody who is saying they’re going to release one and a few months later they’re going to release another. No.
Leo: They don’t do that.
Christina: No they don’t do that and no matter what is changed with Tim Cook and I think a lot of the changes have been good. That is a fundamental part of Apple is that they keep it very simple. They’re not going to release a bigger phone. They’re not going to sell a 3.5 inch, a 4 inch, a 4.7inch, and a 5.5 inch. That’s just not Apple.
Leo: By the way is that Louise from Bob’s Burger on your?
Christina: Yes it is
Leo: You are weird.
Christina: I was her for Halloween. She’s my favorite cartoon character. It’s my favorite show.
Christina: I got ears from Etsy, I was Louise for Halloween. It was the best. I was so excited. A number of people recognized it on the street which was awesome. I love it.
Leo: Wow, let me show the folks. That’s your doppelganger actually
(cartoon): So you’re not going to get revenge today?
No Louise, I’m not.
Ok, got it. Then I won’t…
Leo: I think it is Christina Warren, is that you in those pink ears?
Christina: I love it.
Leo: You’re smartphone is cool but can it do this? That’s what I want to know. Look at my smartphone. Can it do this?
Larry M: You’ve got the Amazon
Christina: The fire
Leo: This is the Fire that no one wants. No one should buy. But that’s cool.
Larry M: They are worth $200 with that alone
Leo: Try $600 or $700.
Larry M: So you bought it outright?
Leo: Well yeah, because it’s never $200 to know that Larry Magid. Its $200 and 2 years forever
Larry M: Slave labor. This is my latest phone, the new LG G3.
Leo: Oh you have the G3
Christina: oh I love that phone. I like that phone a lot.
Larry M: Christina’s point, I wouldn’t go out of my to read a book or watch a movie on this, the reality is most of the time when I want to read a book or watch a movie
Leo: Wait a minute. Hold that up again. That looks like a tablet. That is 5.5 inches.
Larry M: Yeah, it’s big. It fits in my hand and fits in my pocket.
Leo: Is it, hold it back from the camera, it’s so close. No it’s really that huge. It’s bigger than your head Larry. Now the new G3 is the first Ultra HD screen. Which is not 1080p, its 2560 by 1440.
Larry M: Yeah
Christina: It’s the same as a 27 inch iMac. It’s insane.
Leo: What is the dots per inch on that 5.5? It’s like 450, 500?
Christina: I think its 553 or something.
Leo: 553. I don’t think you could see anything over 350 or 400 right? Even if it’s this close.
Larry M: My take on the screen is it’s great but all cell phones…
Leo: Is it greater than the M8 or S5.
Larry M: They’re all fine.
Leo: They’re all the same
Larry M: I wouldn’t buy a phone based on displays ticks. For me, I buy a phone based on battery life and this phone has good battery life.
Leo: It’s removable right? So you can get a second.
Larry M: Yeah, I’d buy it for that reason but I wouldn’t buy it for the screen. Even though it’s a great screen
Leo: So Christina you have a 4 inch phone.
Christina: I do
Leo: Larry Magid is using 5.5 inch phone and this is a 4.7, the new iPhone is going to be the same size as the Fire.
That’s the perfect size
I think so. The Moto X is 4.7. Every time I use a 4.7, that’s the right size. Just to complete the thought on the Fire phone. I realize now having used it, there’s neat stuff in it. There’s the dynamic perspective which gives it a 3D look. There is a Firefly button, that if you press and hold, little fireflies show up when you take a picture of something. You can buy it on Amazon, or if it’s a work of art it will identify it and stuff like that. It’s got the Mayday button that means you can get help by pressing a button and a person will show up in video. What I realized is, Amazon has gone wrong on this phone by forking Android and making their own operating system. Even though they are doing some innovative stuff, like this is really annoying. Here’s a game, cool game but half of the screen is wasted on recommendations for other things to buy. That is annoying. When its mail is shows me other mail. When it’s a game or apps that don’t have any obvious additional information, it shows me, it’s an ad. That sucks. Here’s my audiobooks and it shows me ads for other audio books that I haven’t purchased. To me, if this had been a true Android phone, then I might say this is a phone to consider because of the Amazon special features.
Larry M: You paid full price for it. They don’t even give you a price break in exchange for the fact that it’s a selling machine or a buying machine. They do give one break, they give you a year of Prime with $100. So you got to give them credit for that. Other than that, it’s the same price as any other high end phone.
Leo: it’s the same specs.
Christina: Most people, wouldn’t you think that are going to buy this are already Prime users?
Larry M: I think they add a year
Leo: They add a year.
Larry M: So it’s like a $100 rebate if you’re a Prime user
Christina: That’s good
Leo: I had higher hopes. I thought if they had merely made it a standard Android. Just make this a Kit Kat. I think this would be a good phone. I would easily be able to recommend this along with the Moto X and similar phones. I can’t know because it’s hobbled by this unique OS. There’s no Google Services
Larry M: And all those ads.
Leo: And ads.
You can’t use it with your
With a tablet, they do this thing that they call recommendations. They give a huge price break on certain Kindle devices for seeing ads and seeing promotions. They really give you a good price break. They created reads and tablets that are truly a great value for looking at ads. I don’t mind that, because you’re getting something in return. But with this you’re paying full price and getting all the ads and getting the selling machine. That bothers me.
Leo: Jerry you go back to the S100 bus, Ezekiel right?
Jerry: I go back further than that. When wrote Mote In God’s Eye, we had pocket computers that were sufficiently descriptive that when the iPhone first came out a couple of my readers got together and bought me one, saying that I had invented it.
Leo: I think you did.
Jerry: We had in mind a little bigger than this. iPhones are not big enough to read a lot on the screen that small. Alex has one of these Samsung Galaxies. It takes a scabbard to carry it around. You can’t put it in your pocket.
Leo: There’s a product category. I need a smartphone scabbard.
Jerry: If I get a shoulder bag that just fits this…
Leo: The surface…
Jerry: I can see myself using that as a phone too.
Jerry: Yeah. Think about it
Leo: I was sitting on the can the other day and my iPad rang and I realized that, I’m being a little honest here. I’m sorry, TMI? I realized, I have Google hangouts and Google voice, my iPad is a phone and I answered the phone. I won’t tell you who was calling but I answered the phone. I realized, I actually do have a phone on all of my devices.
Jerry: That is kind of what I have been thinking. Maybe not as big the surface, but something that is big enough that you can comfortably read books on. With a keyboard that actually works. Which the Surface keyboard does, it isn’t as good as the Think Pad keyboard but what is? I could honestly see myself using this Surface as the only machine.
Larry M: Would you ever take the keyboard off and use it as a tablet?
Jerry: Yes. It will even recognize my handwriting even if it can’t recognize yours.
Leo: Is that still the case? OneNote also has a Jerry Pournelle recognition engine in it as well
Leo: Damn, when is that going to die?
Leo: we’ve told that story on TWIT several times
Jerry: Paragraph is the engine for it. Paragraph is the engine that Microsoft uses from Stepan Pachikov in Moscow.
Leo: It’s so funny that they are still using that engine.
Jerry: I’ve told you this story before, the reason it recognizes my writing is I happened to be in Moscow and he needed some handwriting samples so I loaned him my log book.
Larry M: Was this before or after the Soviet Union fell?
Jerry: This was in 1989.
Larry M: Before, you probably brought it down.
Leo: It’s his fault.
Jerry: I said back at the time of the Falkland Islands war that it was getting pretty clear that if you take, Arthur Kessler said famously that the necessary and sufficient condition for bringing about the collapse of an ideological society would be the free exchange of ideas within it.
Leo: I agree.
Larry M: I agree with you.
Jerry: What you get know on computers, you’re going to have the free exchange of ideas. I put those two together in 1982, I said the Soviet Union is doomed. If they don’t go with learning computer technology and making it widespread they won’t be able to win wars, that’s what the Falkland Islands war showed. High tech wins. If they do, I don’t see how they can survive ideologically.
Leo: It’s the same issue with any totalitarian state. So what they do in Turkey and Egypt and anywhere they can. They turn off the internet, but it’s too late.
Jerry: They can’t do it really either.
Leo: Once the cows left the barn.
Jerry: There are means other than ideology…
Leo: Jerry you’re sinking, there you go.
Jerry: I’m sorry
Leo: He sank off the screen
Jerry: It looks just like my office in the background
Leo: It does
Larry M: A little neater Jerry, no offense.
Jerry: Of course there is a reason for that isn’t there.
Leo: You readers or writers, so we have in studio an interesting fellow. He’s an Israeli, he’s the CTO of a company called Robin Labs. They do Siri like speech recognition, it’s only on Android right now, but they want to put it in cars. Before the show we were looking at his demo, it’s really kind of impressive. Natural language. Isn’t this ultimately the interface, forget the keyboard Jerry, don’t you want to talk to your Surface Pro?
Jerry: Oh yeah, of course that’s what we did in Mote in God’s Eye when we were describing these things.
Jerry: You can use and Heinlein did that in his magical car in one of his later novels. Looked up at the ceiling and said be a nice girl, and then gave it instructions.
Leo: There are two technologies that are going to make this the computer, the smartphone. One is better battery life and the other is effective voice recognition and that eliminates the input issues and the portability issues.
Larry M: Jerry would you really want to write a novel with your voice. I know people do but…
Jerry: No I don’t. I can’t dictate as fast as I can type
Larry M: Me neither, I know there are people for a variety of reasons.
Leo: But that’s a small minority of people, getting smaller all the time
Larry M: Unfortunately,
Leo: If you think about it, if you’re a videographer or photographer, there are other ways to communicate. These devices are really, it’s interesting, people don’t buy camcorders anymore.
Larry M: And even expensive cameras, what’s the point of a point and shoot camera anymore?
Leo: You find that Christina?
Christina: Definitely, I went to film school so my actual education background is in video. Almost all of my photography, almost all my video is on my iPhone or on something else. It’s interesting, your point of people communicating in different ways. I heard from very good authority, one of the reasons iOS 8 is going to have multiple keyboards, how they’ve watched people in China and other countries use some of the different keyboards. They use the Emoji and also use video chat as use some other things. One of the reasons they going to add the ability to send video clips back and forth is because of how common that is in other places.
Leo: There’s a new social network, called Emojli that allows you to communicate only in Emojis.
Larry M: Wow
Leo: Instead of 140 characters, you get 140 Emojis. This is like a joke.
Emojli, there is no spam. No bloody forward this to 10 people memes, no hash tags, and the worst possible message you could ever receive? It’s a pile of poo. We know what you’re thinking, this is satire. No one would actually make this thing and we have.
Leo: They did! You’re a young person, especially when you hang out with us. You’re a really young person. Emojis have started in Japan, took over the world. For a long time on the iPhone you had to hack it to put Emojis in. Finally Apple realized people like these. They’ve added it, Android has Emojis. Do you find people communicate a lot with Emojis?
Christina: Yes. It’s insane the number of text messages or chats that I have that are entirely an Emoji or reaction GIFs.
Christina: We’ve even done stories, I’m a little proud, it’s awesome. We did the movie Titanic completely in Emojis. We’ll do song lyrics or Moby Dick or various great clip works and do it entirely in Emoji. It’s kind of amazing how much you can do with little picture graph characters. Most of my communication with my husband, Emoji and reaction GIFs. It’s just a constant stream of that all day long.
Larry M: And how’s the marriage going?
Christina: Good. So far so good, we’ll see. Right now I’ll do happy Emoji. We’ll see.
Larry M: It limits the arguments
Christina: It really does. Just send a reaction GIF of someone smashing something when you’re angry
Leo: Were you able to tell the Titanic in Emojis?
Leo: This is where you need Jerry” filigree.
Christina: If it were one of Jerry’s novels…
Leo: That would be more complicated.
Christina: There would be no way, granted. When you consider that there is only like 60 unique story types. When you think about that, it becomes pretty simple. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. That’s pretty easy to tell.
Leo: I’m curious, did somebody invent, where did these come from? It’s from Japan right?
Christina: It was a cellular carrier. I think it was NTT DoCoMo, but it might have been one of the other ones. They had a WAP, back in those days, social network kind of thing for their dumb phones, back in 98 or 99 they started developing it. One of the ways they wanted to make it so people could communicate they created these characters and it wasn’t originally part of the also or part of the unity code stuff. It was something they created themselves and that became popular on that carrier and the other carriers adopted it and made their own modifications so after a few years there was 3 versions of the Emoji characters that were incompatible. It became part of the extended Unicode but wasn’t fully adopted until 2010. Apple added it in 2008 when they were on the iPhone in Japan and then they brought it to all IPhones in 2009. In case you can’t tell, I had to write a history of Emoji.
Leo: I asked the right person
Christina: I had to learn all of this. I had to figure out who decides on Unicode standards. I learned more about the Unicode process than I ever wanted to but I also learned about Emoji. It basically came from someone really smart at a phone carrier who were trying to create a different kind of way for people to communicate. Japan is the perfect place for this because it’s very difficult for people to text, characters mean different things in different contexts. Pictographs are a much easier way to get a message across than trying to use a Japanese soft keyboard or type things in on a flip phone. Creating those characters was a huge boom and it took off. That’s kind of the beauty of it. It can be applied to anything.
Leo: The new Unicode that was announced a couple of months ago has 250 Emojis in the Unicode. It’s officially part of the character set. Are those the canonical Emojis that?
Christina: There’s already been a couple of hundred Emojis that we’ve been using for the last couple of years that are available. Unicode approved another 300 and it will be up to each individual company. Apple will make their approval, Android, Microsoft, whoever to adopt what they want.
Larry M: Are they more ethnically diverse now? Because they had a lack of diversity.
Christina: Yes, they are a little bit better with that. The problem was
Leo: What ethnicity are those smiley faces?
Christina: There are things like man holding woman’s hand and man holding man’s hand, where things are not. All Unicode does is describe a pictograph and have a basic drawing of how it could be portrayed, but it can be drawn in any way. The problem is that they didn’t solve the diversity complaints because the most current version of the Unicode went into discussions a few years ago so all the comments recently were brought up after. It was too late to get it into this round. Companies like Apple, Twitter and Facebook who have their own Emoji libraries can draw them to be more diverse.
Leo: Let’s look at the pile of poo shall we?
Christina: The pile of poo is the best
Leo: What’s interesting is Google’s pile of poo doesn’t have a face on it but Apple’s does.
Leo: Microsoft has apparently declined to put a face on the poo. Twitter’s not only has a face but a happy face.
Christina: A happy face, he has a mouth. That’s an interesting thing about Emojis, depending on what device you are on, it depends on what it looks like. Apple’s are drawn very close to the original.
Leo: The Japanese standard
Christina: They’ve carried that on. Most people follow that line. Google has its own design, its Android based. Twitter made the decision to draw their own. It’s interesting, the Chrome browser actually doesn’t display Emoji, which is messed up and annoying
Leo: It doesn’t, I’m on some pages and I’m getting boxes on the Wikipedia
Christina: Exactly, it’s annoying. Even if you have an Emoji thought library installed in Windows or in OS 10 it won’t pull it in. Firefox put in a patch that as long as you have an Emoji font installed in your system it will use the system font. Apparently some things are coming through the next version of Chrome. I don’t know. I find it ironic only because Google was the first company to call for Emoji to be part of the Unicode standard but they’re the last browser to support Emoji in line.
Leo: Do you think there is a war among different Emoji interpretations? For instance, from the Unicode.org site. An example of different lollipops. These are all considered compliant. But they can be black and white or color. The poo is smiling in Apple’s world but steaming in Google’s world. There’s really some variation.
Christina: Yeah, it can become different dialects. Different type of Pidgin. That’s really what most people compare Emojis to.
Leo: It’s a Pidgin.
Leo: Wow. What do you think of this Jerry? Is this crazy?
Jerry: It strikes me as setting the art of writing back about 2,000 years.
Christina: That’s true, literally
Jerry: We’re going to hieroglyphic writing aren’t we?
Christina: We are
Jerry: Not phonetics, that’s what the public schools has been to trying to do to the English language for the last 50 years. They’ve been so successful that the literacy rate of the U.S. is about that of pre-war Iraq.
Leo: What’s interesting now are kid’s literacy in Emojis is higher than their literacy in English. Is it as expressive do you feel?
Leo I have in my collection of stuff that I think to write about, a pile of newspapers written in Pidgin.
Jerry: You know Pidgin English. Father you belong you me
Leo: Where are they from?
Jerry: The News Column, that’s an official language there. They have conducted elections in it and print newspapers in it. The problem is there is only 900 words in the language.
Leo: Well there’s only 700 Emojis. Chinese ideographs have hundreds of thousands.
Jerry: You’re going to have a hell of a job writing a decent novel with 900 words
Larry M: I don’t know how many words are in Yiddish, but that’s another language that evolved from people who didn’t have formal training. These languages evolve, even English.
Jerry: You had to have it build on language that already that existed around it. Of course so did Pidgin.
Emojis, there is some cultural biases you mentioned Christina. One of the Emojis is a Tanabata tree. Which wouldn’t mean anything to anyone who is not in Japan. It’s a kind of bamboo where they hang good wishes on it. There’s the moon viewing ceremony which is again exclusively Japanese. There is a lot of Japanese only Emojis.
Christina: Yeah, that’s what interesting. Moving forward it seem like because the Unicode space can have extra characters depending on what country it’s in, is they’re already anticipated other countries having their own cultural Emojis. You might have different, the first biggest request was for more flags. They wanted more country flags. People really wanted to be able to show their national pride. Beyond that, you might start to see some very specific things to what’s happening
Leo: Can you effectively communicate between two people who have different spoken languages using Emojis. How efficient could it be? How good? How detailed?
Christin: That’s a really interesting point. I was actually thinking that. That would be an interesting academic study to look at how people can communicate using, it would be the same as any pictograph. Maybe using that among other things to talk with someone when there is a language barrier.
Leo: I didn’t realize what a difference there is with how the Emojis are rendered. Here’s that moon ceremony, Apple does it in a very detailed, very pretty fashion. Google does it in a more stylized version. Twitter has its own thing. You can tell it’s the same Emoji but there’s definitely a variation in how it’s expressed. I think this is fascinating. I don’t know what to make of it. Isn’t this how new languages emerge?
It totally is. I guarantee you in five years’ time, there are going to so many academic, PHD thesis on Emoji and linguistic study. There are going to so many linguistic papers around Emoji. You know there are some in progress right now.
Leo: Have you spent enough time…
Jerry: Aren’t you really just facilitating illiteracy?
Leo: No it’s a different kind of literacy Jerry.
Jerry: How many Haikus are you going to write in Emojis?
Leo: I don’t think it’s going to eliminate English. There might be a place for it.
Jerry: Mr. Heinlein, I got an email from a reader who is watching this, he points out that Mr. Heinlein predicted back in one of his older novels that a computer reading of text and everything would reduce a lot of the country to illiteracy. That was the novel that had abandoned areas in it which is very close to what we have now.
Leo: I listen to Audiobooks and I love Audiobooks, I listen to your books. I don’t think that’s illiterate.
Jerry: No, if you’re doing it as an additional to.
Leo: I can read, but I like to listen. Our friend Trey Ratcliff, has been saying for some time, thanks to the popularity of Instagram and similar platforms among younger people that the visual image is rapidly becoming the preferred method of communication. Look at Snapchat. Which has some text but is really mostly about the image. Instagram is all about the image I think that is very interesting
Christina: I do too. I have a lot of friends who are hearing impaired, its interesting in that context whether its ASL or BSL or any of the variations of sign language, which are all different by the way, which is another interesting thing. The way that you can get messages across, that’s actually one way where Emoji becomes interesting, not with people that speak different languages, but with friends of mine who are hearing impaired, we communicate a lot in Emoji, you get the same sort of message across. They FaceTime with people all the time, it’s the easiest way.
Leo: Because they can sign.
Christina: Because you can sign, but to do other things or you can get a message across. It’s a good way to have a shorthand. I agree with Jerry’s point, it could be the death of literacy, but I feel like language evolves right? That’s what happens. I don’t’ know if it’s going to evolve into a digital form and pictographs but it would really would be default as it were or not but it’s interesting how in a few years it’s been able to really take off.
Leo: I don’t worry about that so much Jerry, I think the human urge to communicate nuance won’t go away.
Larry M: We’ve had television now for 60 years
Leo: People thought that would kill literacy
Larry M: People thought comic books would kill books and paperbacks would kill hardbacks and somehow destroy literacy. I don’t worry about it as long as we have a decent system.
Leo: There’s a big problem
Christina: That’s what I worry about.
Larry M: That is a big problem, I agree.
Leo: By the way, that’s a local problem here in the U.S.
Jerry: Not entirely local, can I put in a plug for my newest book. I have just put up on Amazon, it’s not mine. I found the 1914 California 6th grade reader. I added some comments to it, it’s all public domain stuff, and the comments aren’t. It had some pretty good introductory materials about the people who prepared it. I put it together and it’s up on Amazon.
Leo: I’m going to buy it how interesting
Jerry: California 6th Grade reader is what it’s called
Leo: I live with a 6th grader, I can see if he can read any of it
Jerry: That’s it right there
Leo: What a good idea Jerry. This is a whole new area for you
Jerry: It’s a long story attached to it. I had it and talked about it in my columns and some of my readers, this is back before scanning. Actually typed the whole darn thing in so that I could put it up
Leo: I don’t know if I can read this. Look at this
Jerry: I got that brain cancer and it delayed doing anything for a long time
Leo: I’m glad it’s on Amazon
Jerry: I just got around to finishing it with a lot of help from friends and advisors and a whole bunch of people that need acknowledge
Leo: This is 6th grade, this blows me away
Jerry: I put it up in the hope that home schoolers will find it useful.
Leo: I would consider, I have a tale of heroes who sailed away into a distant land, to win themselves renown forever in the adventure of the Golden Fleece. Whither they sailed, I cannot clearly tell. It all happened long ago; so long ago that it has all grown dim. This is wild. The old Greeks said it hung in Colchis, nailed to a beech tree.
Jerry: There was a time Leo, when every literate person in the U.S. would have read the stories that are in that book.
Leo: I’ll grant you that we are not in that time anymore. This is well beyond…
Jerry: Wait, we are in a time in which half the population is likely to be useless. They are not able to do anything that any rational person would pay them money to do.
Leo: That’s why it’s a service economy.
Jerry: But service can they perform?
Leo: There is always a service.
Larry M: You can work at McDonald’s, you don’t need to read.
Jerry: You do understand that much of what goes on at McDonald’s is easily automated and if you decide to give minimum wage of $15 hour to the person working at McDonald’s you basically have in this era of team capital borrowing you have taken away a decision from the McDonald’s franchise owner.
Leo: I remember when McDonald’s converted their cash registers to icons.
Larry M: Exactly right
Leo: You don’t have to make change anymore because it tells you what the change is.
Christina: It does that automatically.
Larry M: If they encourage customers to use credit or debit cards so you don’t even have to handle money or on the phone someday.
Leo: We’re going to stop because I’m getting depressed. We went down an Emoji rabbit hole but it was kind of interesting frankly. I find this fascinating, we do know according to 9TO5 Mac, Mark Gurman, who is pretty good on this stuff, that Apple will announce the new iPhone probably the second or third week of September. No surprise there. Christina, you agree unlikely to see anything but a 4.7 inch iPhone. That would be a big step for Apple.
Christina: That’s as big as…
Leo: That’s enough
Christina: That’s enough, I know a lot of people are buying the tablets and they’re really popular but it goes against so many of Apple’s design queues and I think most people are going to be satisfied with that. I don’t’ see a 5.5 inch iPhone coming, I really don’t. I would go public.
Leo: I’m with you on that, you and I are the only two by the way Christina.
Larry M: I think iPhone users will be happy enough with the difference that they will go ahead and buy the new iPhone. I don’t think they’re going to win away a lot of customers who already have larger Android phones unless they offer some other great feature that we’re not seeing on Android. To keep the iPhone users happy, sure that will be fine.
Leo: Wither, if I might use a word I learned from the 1914 reader, wither the iPad, I presume in October an announcement for iPad, maybe an iWatch, what could they do on the iPad that would make it compelling? A fingerprint reader is the only thing missing.
Christina: Touch ID, right now personally I think the iPod Air, I love it. It’s my favorite tablet that I own.
Leo: It’s perfect.
Christina: To me, I don’t know how you could physically design it to be better. Maybe a touch ID sensor.
Leo: Maybe a faster processor.
Christina: Right but as far as the industrial design, this feels to me like the pinnacle. When they rained in on the current MacBook Air, and when they got the unibody Mac down; you kind of get down to the pinnacle design.
Larry M: You think about the other thing that we own. Every year do you go out and figure out what’s the latest refrigerator because I want to update my refrigerator?
Larry M: I’ve had my high def TV now for five years and it was a 1080p and it had four HDMI ports. And I have absolutely no interest in buying a new one.
Leo: Well thanks to you the entire TV industry declined.
Larry M: Well you love your MacBook Air, you’re going to love it a year from now and it’s going to be just as good a year from now. Better actually cause there will be a new iOS out, hopefully. And in a way, Apple has created its own problem by doing such a great job. But if they didn’t do a great job then they would be in worse trouble than they’re in now. Actually they’re not in trouble; they’d be in trouble. They just have to come up with new product categories or hopefully the iWatch or whatever it is.
Christina: And I think the industry as a whole has to come up to the expectation that if you’re going to spend more than $400 on a tablet, it’s something you keep for x number of years, versus replacing it every few years like you do with a phone. Because you don’t have the same wear and tear with a tablet that you do as a phone. Like most people said, they work great year after year so they don’t have to upgrade. But if the expectations are in line, it can prove to be a viable business. But it’s just not going to as big as the phone industry.
Leo: You’ll have to excuse me. Kim Kardashian is calling me right now. Hey it’s Kim, I just wanted to let you know that you’re all set to come by the shoot. See this, is why you need a bigger iPad.
Christina: I won’t lie. I’ve paid money for that.
Leo: Who is the writer that spent $400 in the game?
Christina: Somebody from Gizmoto. And I’m kind of jealous she wrote that post. Two and a half weeks before she did that, I downloaded it like the week it became huge, ironically. Then I wound up blowing $20 or $30 on it. And I thought about it, and thought should I write anything about this? And it wasn’t getting a lot of mainstream bites. This is my problem I’m always too early. And if I just gone for it I could have been the first one on the block.
Leo: You could have been shamed in public.
Christina: But I shamed myself. I mean come on. If you see money, it’s, yes, design yourself, Leo. Design chat, it’s so good. I named myself Christina with a K.
Leo: Yea that’s how we know you’re hip and with it. This is so funny. Everything is with a K, customize with a K, right?
Christina: Exactly. So I named my own character Christina with a Kh, which I thought was funny. I thought that was fitting. But I did create my own character.
Leo: The story is fascinating. This company actually developed this program as a separate program and they released it and it was a success. But then what did they do? Kim Kardashian kept calling, what happened?
Christina: Yea, I mean they basically said okay well we can license it. They re-jiggered a few things and it’s basically called…
Leo: It’s the same game.
Christina: It’s the exact same game, just re-skimp it. She got a big paycheck out of it, and something about her appeal; and I think honestly the fact that the public both loves and hates her with equal interest; but here’s the real secret. The game is actually really well done.
Leo: It’s pretty good.
Christina: You can make more money. It’s a really good, this type of game, it’s a really good game; the grinding is addictive enough that you want to pay for in-app purchases. Or they come in enough that you really kind of want to go through the process. So they got all the mechanics down and so if you add that with a public figure who most of the world both loves or hates; and I’m in the latter category.
Leo: I’m going to call myself K-Chief-K-Witt. Got to have a K, right?
Christina: There you go. Yep. But I personally don’t agree with…
Leo: Kim! I picked that outfit out for her.
Jerry: That’s great.
Leo: Jerry, you’re worried about literacy and this is happening.
Christina: This is the real threat, is the Kardashians.
Larry M: You could be reading a book!
Christina: We could be reading Valley of the Dolls and that’s what we should be reading instead of you know…
Jerry: You have to understand something, Leo. I don’t need everybody in the United States to buy one of my books. I just need a million a year to pay me off.
Leo: While the rest of us are playing with Kim Kardashian, as long as a few of you are buying Jerry’s books all will be well.
Jerry: Not only that, but the people that don’t have anything else to do have got to do something. Nobody will pay you much money to do that, but at least it beats you’re being out robbing stores.
Leo: The new thing is, and Christina I bet you do this, you’re watching TV or listening to a book while you’re doing it.
Leo: Yep. So it’s not like you’re doing this all by itself by no means.
Larry M: Leo, you’re making fun of it while you’re doing it. What are you talking about? You’re actually on the air right now, buddy.
Leo: I’m doing a show and I’m keeping up with the Kardashians.
Christina: Exactly. You talked earlier about how the passive focus, how your best ideas come in the shower. I play Candy Crush or Bejeweled or Threes or other games while I’m in meetings. And I have to explain to people as I’m going in, I’m not being rude. I’m actually paying 100% attention to you. But I will actually be able to focus on what you’re saying if my hands are busy and I’m doing something.
Leo: How’s that working out for you?
Larry M: I thought you told me you have a water-resistant iPad that you played games in the shower with?
Leo: Do they buy that, Christina? Because I want to use that excuse.
Christina: They do! You know why they do? Because it’s true. Because then they’ll call me on something and I’ll pipe up. I’m not really paying too much attention to the game. It’s one of those things that’s taking my subconscious attention; it’s taking the attention of that and I can focus on what’s happening elsewhere. My hands seem to be busy. And I’ve been like that as long as I was a kid. I used to get in trouble.
Leo: I think it’s ADD.
Jerry: If she wasn’t doing that, she’d have to be taking Ritalin.
Leo: I think you’re exactly right, Jerry. I think it’s ADD and I’m ADD. Those of us who are ADD and many people in this industry are ADD, we need…
Christina: I am ADD, yes.
Leo: So what the deal is and I found out because I investigated this by myself, is our frontal load is depressed. It’s not moving as fast as you normal people. So we need to stimulate it just to keep it at a normal level. So you could hit yourself in the head or you can play the Kim Kardashian game. It’s about the same.
Christina: Actually I figured this out when I was really young. And when I told my shrink this a number of years ago, speaking of TMI, you know my shrink; and he thought it was a great idea. He thought it was brilliant. And was like, oh I’m glad you came up with that solution. And I didn’t realize it was a solution. It was just something I intrinsically did to kind of figure out how to better manage stuff. But that’s exactly right, we’re ADD and it’s just one of those things where I concentrate a lot better if I’m just mindlessly tapping on the screen.
Leo: So here’s the question I have. Are ADD people naturally attracted to tech and to this? Or, and I think there may be some evidence for it, is all this stimulus making us all attention deficit? What do you think, Jerry?
Jerry: I think that you’re getting closer when you say that. There is just a lot more distraction now than there used to be. I haven’t seriously done psychology practice since the early 70’s when I was partnered with a pediatrician in Los Angeles. The only cases I ever took were what we described as bright kids who weren’t doing well. In those days, nobody ever heard of ADD, and AD&D and ADHD, and all the other literate things. In my graduate school, I work in psychology but when I got my doctorate, I think we spent two days on autism in four years. So we had to come up with things. I would love to have had that Kardashian game to prescribe to some of those kids in those towns.
Leo: It’s better than Ritalin.
Jerry: The problem with drugs is you’re not learning to control yourself.
Leo: I agree.
Jerry: If the drug is doing it, you are not learning it.
Leo: I had a deal with it because…
Jerry: And if take a bright kid, you’re not doing him any favors by giving him Ritalin.
Leo: I was distracted and they didn’t have that diagnosis when I was a kid. But I learned to play chess. And do stuff that helped me focus. And I bet Christina, you did the same thing. Were you undiagnosed as a kid?
Christina: No I was diagnosed.
Jerry: Didn’t we all? Isn’t that the case to almost everybody listening to this show?
Leo: If you’re smart, you’re bored.
Christina: Totally. And I always, like you, I came up with other ways to do things and I was always a high achiever. So I didn’t fit the perfect mold where you know you have the really bright kid who’s not doing well because I also have OCD and am a perfectionist.
Leo: So you made sure you did do well?
Christina: Right, I would find a way to entertain myself in weird moments or get moved to a different class or something.
Leo: Well you did what Larry said, is you learned how to…
Jerry: You have more choices as entertainment than people; when I’m growing up and I’m that age during WWII in Capleville, Tennessee, there’s no television. You could not watch a radio. I did get to read the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Christina: I did that too.
Leo: Me too!
Jerry: …make nitroglycerin which wasn’t anything that pleased my parents.
Leo: Folks, we refer you to Triangulation with Jerry Pournelle when he talks about blowing up the fish pond.
Larry M: Luckily Homeland Security wasn’t around.
Jerry: Another time.
Leo: We talked about it on the show, exactly.
Christina: I mean, one of the reasons I know about random things as I do, is because I read a lot. And that’s what I picked up as a kid. I read ferociously and if I was interested in a topic I read all I could about it. When I got interested in computers when I was 12, I went to the library and I got every book, every magazine that I could get. And just start obsessing and it never stopped. I do worry a little bit maybe, that kids are too distracted by this stuff, as much as I love it, from maybe reading. But there’s I think a good balance that could be made. And there’s definitely an opportunity for educators to make interesting games or learning aids that could really…
Jerry: While we’re on this topic, let me point out that, there I am in Capleville, Tennessee, but the books we’re reading in school were things like that California six grade reader. We had Jason and the Ergoknots, we had Hurracious at the Bridge; we had Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree. And so forth. We had a great deal more intellectually stimulating stories in our classrooms than they’re teaching in any classroom, that I know of, in the public school system today.
Larry M: Let me put in an optimistic word for at least some educators and some connected classrooms: kids, whatever amount of information they’re consuming, they’re also creating information. Whether it’s posting videos to YouTube or blogging, or even polishing up their Facebook or Twitter accounts, there is a great deal of creativity and inter-activity and connected learning going on. And in many ways, it’s a resurgent. Jerry, I’m not quite as old as you are. But I remember the 60’s. I ran a program at Berkeley called the Center for Participant Education, where we did student-initiated courses and student-centered learning. And that’s actually making a comeback now, partially because of technology and partially because there are some really great teachers out there. Who despite their bosses, are doing amazing things with technologies, and kids have been created.
Jerry: But Larry you just said it, despite their bosses. The purpose of the public school system is to pay bad teachers. If kids show up some teacher is a bad teacher. The system is designed to suppress that kid.
Larry M: But that was true when I was a kid. I probably had 12 years of bad teachers through K-12. With one or two exceptions.
Leo: I bet you everybody who listens to this show, everybody is a TWiT fan is very much like us, where they were smart kids. They perhaps would like Christina an OCD or perhaps like me, we’re always told you have such potential. You never live up to your potential.
Larry M: Leo, did we go to the same school? I heard the same thing.
Leo: Of course we did. And I think probably 90% of the people who listen to these shows who are tech buffs, who are interested in this stuff, we’re all smart because you need to have some intelligence to understand this and delve into it. Probably dealt with the same thing. But the good news to me is that we all adapted. We all found a way; humans are amazingly adaptive. Yea even if teachers are bad, it’s nice if you get one great teacher. I think any human can expect in life is one great teacher. If you get that…
Jerry: And not have an administrator whose job is to suppress the great teacher.
Larry M: I hate to admit it, but being ADD is really a great credential for being on live radio. Because there is something to be said for being able to make something happen in the moment.
Leo: I’ve got stuff; I’ve got people in my ear, I’ve got things going on. I just took a walk around the block while you were talking. Hey we’re going to take a break but when we come back we’re going to talk about shaving for a moment if you don’t mind. By the way, as always, when you get smart interesting people together, you end up talking about such wide-ranging fascinating things. I just want to thank you three. Jerry Pournelle, Larry Magid, Christina Warren; it’s always a pleasure to have you on.
Jerry: I’m waiting to find out what you’re going to call this show.
Leo: I think smartphone scabbered is the leading contender. I want one! Our show today brought to you by Hairy’s. You know it’s fascinating what Harry’s is doing. It was founded about a year ago by two guys, Andy and Jeff. You may know Jeff because he was also the cofounder of Warbe Parker. In fact there’s some similarities. Jeff looked at what was going on in the eyeglasses industries and realized people weren’t getting fair prices because of monopoly and so forth. It’s the same thing in razors. What do you pay for a Fusion blade? Like $4. They’re so valuable now that they lock them up in the drugstore. Jeff said there’s a way to make a better blade for less and give people what they want. And they created Harry’s. This is the fascinating thing, I just found this out. They went to Germany. There’s two factories in all the world that can make a razor blade that doesn’t cut you up when you shave. They bought one in Germany; this is where they make their blades. One of two factories in the world that knows how to do this. And they bought it because they wanted to make great blades. Our audience is smart enough, most of the world will go out and use disposable razors. And their face will get cut up and the next morning they’ll forget the whole thing and do it again. Or there are people who pay $4 for a Gillette Fusion or whatever because they want something better. Believe me there’s something much better. And it’s Harry’s. They focus on giving you a great shaving experience at a fraction of the price. Every other month I get my Harry’s kit. I get I think eight blades and two shaving creams. By the way the shaving cream they sell is phenomenal. You can get the Winston which is the metal blade or the Truman which is the plastic blade. This is a Winston. I got mine engraved with my initials are of course. And Jeff said my initials are LEO. He gave me a hard time because he said your initials are not LEO. Well that’s what I used for my initials. Beautiful nice handle, this incredible blade. It’s a combination of that plus the amazing shaving cream that makes Harry’s such an experience. Every morning, you will look forward to it. I want you to try it. Simple, clean product design at a really great price. Shipped to your door. You’re going to try it, right? You’re going to go to harrys.com right now and when you do please use the offer code twit5. You’ll get $5 off your first order, at harrys.com. They have reinvented shaving and it’s for the ladies too by the way. It could be Harriett. Harry’s.
Larry M: My wife asked about that. We went out and bought one a couple weeks ago, I bought one. And she wanted to know if there was a female version. And you’re saying the male version works for women.
Christina: It does.
Leo: We’ve tried talking them into doing a pink one.
Christina: They should. They could make a killing because we spend just as much on our razors as men do. I use Harry’s and yea, it works great for women too. So much cheaper than having to go to the drugstore. And you get great quality, that’s the nice thing.
Leo: You actually start liking shaving in the morning. Which is something I did not do for most of my life. I look forward to it now.
Christina: Well you don’t have to worry about going to buy anything.
Leo: That’s also good.
Larry M: I love the fact that there’s so many things now that I don’t have to go and get.
Leo: I know! I don’t have to leave the house! SafeWay delivers stuff, Amazon, Subscribe & Save. In fact, I always look for more stuff I can put on Subscribe & Save.
Larry M: I’m doing an article called How Tech is Allowing me to be Rich. Not only am I not in the Forbes 400. If they had a Forbes 4M, I wouldn’t be in there either. But I have a private chauffeur if I use Uber. I have a personal shopper if I use Google Express. I’ve got private chefs now through Munchery. It’s like hey I feel like a millionaire.
Leo: That’s the future for the economy. There’s the future economy, right? There’s jobs for all of those people.
Larry M: There’s jobs and there’s decent products for a fair price, which is nice.
Leo: Public beta for Apple’s Yosemite came out this week. I could tell you right now that despite all the warnings from everybody including Apple to not put it on a production machine. To back up all your data. You can’t even install it; when you try to install it, it says you backed up right? I didn’t do any of that stuff and it’s fine. I love it! I can’t tell you much about it. Unless you’re using iOS 8, many of the features like Continuity don’t do anything. But from what I’m seeing, its design is nice and it’s very stable now.
Larry M: I actually advise people not to install.
Leo: Yea, you’re responsible.
Larry M: I only have one Mac. If it were a PC, I would put it on one of my spare machines. But I have a MacBook here that I actually use. And I didn’t want to take the chance. But maybe I will now that you’ve had good…
Leo: I haven’t had any problems. Now I’m using a MacPro, it’s a late model. But I haven’t had any problems with it. The one thing, Open PG doesn’t work with it.
Christina: If you can Larry, if you have an external hard drive you can install it on and just use it as a secondary partition, that’s what I would do it on. It’s really stable but the problem is that some of the third-party apps, some aren’t there. So there may be one app that you don’t know until you get it on that it’s not going to work. So what I’ve done, I have a testing machine at work. But for my personal use I’ve actually got it running on a USB drive.
Leo: Have you run across any apps that don’t work?
Christina: There’ve been a couple third-party apps that just I’ve had some issues with them not wanting to work exactly correct. And some of the developers have been really quick on fixing them. But it just kind of, when that’s going to get sorted out depends on the developer.
Larry M: Is this the first time Apple has done a public beta? Microsoft always does one, and I can’t remember them doing one.
Christina: This is the first time since the original developer previewed for OS 10 was released in the early 2000’s.
Leo: The very first OS 10.
Christina: Right, and that was released, you paid $30 and got a DVD or a CD in the mail. So this is the first time they’ve done this. And I think it’s two things. One I think it shows they’re confident. As you said, Leo, this shows confidence in their product. We can open this up to a million people and have people test it out. But the second thing is I think they really want to make sure that before they release the final version, that any bugs or things they might be overlooking get fixed. Because when Mavericks came out there was an issue with Gmail and Mail app. I didn’t have a problem but a ton of people did. And I know the guys at TidBits wrote a ton of really good stuff about it. And Apple fixed it very quickly. But I have a feeling they want to avoid having those issues pop up again. And I think that’s great.
Larry M: Microsoft has millions of beta testers and they still have bugs.
Leo: Windows has had a public beta for the last two version, haven’t they?
Christina: Yes they have.
Larry M: And lots of people used it.
Leo: But it didn’t matter. Didn’t any of those people say, hey this Windows 8 think, bad idea. Not one!
Larry M: They had a lot of testimonials from people that loved it. They had videos galore.
Leo: Can we now officially say that Windows 8 sucks?
Christina: I think even Microsoft acknowledged that.
Leo: Jerry, you like 8?
Jerry: No, but 8.1 isn’t all that bad.
Leo: It fixes a lot.
Larry M: What an endorsement. 8.1, not all that bad. Microsoft should put that on billboards.
Jerry: My main machine still runs 7.
Leo: I think it’s fair to say that Windows 8 got Steve Balmer fired from his job as CEO. Got a great many people including the guy behind it, Steven Senofsky fired. I think that you can say, looking at Microsoft’s results, that it cost them billions of dollars in upgrades. I can’t think of a bigger failure except maybe new Coke.
Larry M: Vista.
Leo: Vista. No this is worse than Vista.
Christina: The timing of this is way worse.
Jerry: There are some pieces that are in fact fairly good but they could have been grafted onto 7 without much difficulty.
Leo: I think it’s certainly better in many ways; they fixed file copying. But what they did with the user interface is on an abomination. I mean really, really bad.
Jerry: Leo, again, my experience with 8 was pretty miserable until I got this session and started updating everything to… like Office 365. And boy that is better.
Leo: I do like Office 365, I’ve been very happy with that.
Jerry: It sets up better. Outlook is almost a pleasure to get it running now.
Larry M: Almost a pleasure.
Jerry: There are a number of things that I used to dread! I didn’t want to put Outlook on a new machine. I thought well I better sharpen pencils or carry the garbage out, rather than do that. Like sitting down to write a novel, there’s always something that’s easier to do. But I bit the bullet yesterday, we put Outlook on four machines. And it only took an hour for all four of them!
Larry M: So I run Windows 8 on my HP…
Jerry: That’s 365, I mean Office 365.
Leo: I have to say this is something Microsoft does well. And you know what the future of Microsoft is very clear. It’s in the cloud. It’s cloud services, it’s enterprise. I know Microsoft doesn’t want to be IBM, but this is the one thing they really still do well, right?
Christina: It is, and I think they lost a lot of ground by being so hesitant to go the cloud route with Office for so long. I think that if 365 came out earlier or at least an iteration of that, so many places wouldn’t have gone to Google Docs. I would still, even though I write almost everything in a text editor, you know I’m one of those new-old-school people. I write everything in mark down, in a text editor. And I’ve done that for years. But I would much rather use Word than Google Docs. I would definitely rather use Excel than Google Spreadsheet. And with 365, having a way to save it, it’s great.
Larry M: I use Windows 8.1 on my production machine and the first thing I did is put this alternative start menu on it so it looks like Windows 7. I threw away Windows 365 and replaced it with an old copy of Windows 2010…
Larry M: Office 2010, that’s what I mean to say. Mostly Word, but Excel because it works just fine. It’s lean, there’s no reason for me to pay an annual membership fee because the 3-year old and 5-year old and 2-year old versions of Office work just fine for what I want to do. And I think that Microsoft has the same problem that Apple has…
Jerry: They certainly do. But on the other hand, I’ve got five stations plus five things like tablets for $100 a year.
Leo: Yea, that’s a good deal.
Larry M: Yea, it’s not a bad deal.
Jerry: And I’m going to pay that one way or another. Now I have unlimited copies of everything up through Windows 2007 because Microsoft used to just give me unlimited licenses. I haven’t been writing the column since then, so I haven’t felt that I ought to ask for that kind of extension now days. But one of the problems with making a profit in this business is that a lot of stuff just works and works for ever.
Larry M: Exactly.
Jerry: I haven’t upgrade anything of my stuff for a couple of years because it’s always been good enough. I didn’t need to. That’s kind of the subject of my next column. Well, it turns out sometimes it’s worth upgrading. But you don’t have to.
Leo: Alright, next…
Jerry: You yourself point that out; George Martin is working on…
Leo: On WordStar!
Jerry: On WordStar for God sakes. Now I wouldn’t do that.
Leo: He still knows all the dot commands.
Jerry: I have been using Microsoft Word ever since Chris Peters asked us what we wanted to see in it.
Larry M: I still use WordStar diamond in Microsoft Word because I like the fact that I can navigate without having to take my hands of the home-row keys. So I still use Ctrl+X to go down and Ctrl+Y to go up, etcetera. I had to hack it but it wasn’t hard to do.
Leo: A tale of two selfies. This is one I really like. It’s from Mashable. A young kid, 16 years old, Tom White. Lives in Omaha, Nebraska. He was walking down the street in Omaha, just a couple days ago when he spotted a couple of very famous people sitting on a bench. So instead of asking for an autograph, who was it, was it you Larry who said this is the new form of autograph? He turns around and takes a picture with Paul McCartney and Warren Buffet.
Larry M: Happened to be sitting together, waiting for a bus.
Leo: That is one happy. I am impressed by the way that a 16-year old knew who they were.
Christina: So were we, that was the best part.
Leo: That’s the best part, isn’t it?
Larry M: What was Paul McCartney doing there?
Leo: He was on tour, he was in Lincoln. What is it, is it the Alan conference coming up?
Christina: Yea it was during the Sun Valley, at a conference… I think that was when this was taken.
Leo: No, it was Omaha. Yea this is Omaha, this isn’t Sun Valley. It’s something you don’t see every day in Omaha.
Christina: So even more random, that’s awesome.
Leo: Totally random. They apparently had just come out after a lengthy evening of dinner and ice cream. And they were sitting on the bench digesting. And that happens a lot in Omaha. And Tom said wait a minute. Now that’s the happy one. This is one that’s a little more controversial. Princess Brianna Mitchell from Roanoke, Virginia took a picture of herself at Auschwitz and posted this on Instagram saying I’m famous, y’all. Now she’s getting death threats. I’m trying to find a better image here.
Larry M: Go to larrysworld.com.
Leo: Oh do you have it on Larry’s World. Yea because you want to defend her don’t you.
Larry M: I defended her.
Christina: I felt bad for her.
Larry M: There she is. Let’s stop persecuting this girl.
Christina: Look, let’s not give her death threats. But maybe her parents should have taught her…
Larry M: Well her dad who passed away inspired this because her dad was going to take her to Auschwitz because she had studied it in her history class and was very interested in it. She’s not an insensitive kid.
Leo: So she knew where she was and what she was doing.
Larry M: She knew what she was doing and look, we smile at cameras. Look, how many people do you think there are of the Alamo, and Gettysburg. Ground Zero, there were people taking pictures of Ground Zero.
Christina: That’s true. I’ve seen people doing selfies at Ground Zero. I think a lot of people walk by in disgust. Whether it’s fair or not. You make a really good point. I didn’t know she had a good understanding of it.
Leo: That’s what you think. You look at this and go, and have Justin Bieber writing in the Ann Franke guest book.
Christina: Right, and that’s where we go. And unfortunately, so many girls her age act that way without having the knowledge. Because they didn’t know that it’s easy for us to go that direction.
Larry M: There are more fun places to go.
Christina: There definitely are. But that’s good to know. That’s the problem, right, the context a lot of time, the whole story, it’s lost.
Larry M: In the social media world, it is so easy for us to shame people and judge. And again, I bet you that if you were to look through every picture ever taken of me in my lifetime, you would probably find a picture of me in a battlefield smiling.
Leo: I’m judging you right now, Larry.
Jerry: I know for a fact that I’ve had pictures taken of me standing on Little Round Top. And I didn’t look like I was being dejected. For heaven’s sake. It was a long time ago, but…
Larry M: I agree, that this girl will hopefully learn a lesson and other kids who are watching this show, because I’m sure millions of teenagers are watching TWiT, will learn a lesson about what you post in social media. I think we also have to as adults be a little less judgmental and a little more understanding. Maybe you made a mistake, but let’s not continue.
Leo: So Justin Bieber goes to the Ann Frank house, writes in the guest book.
Christina: Well he’s famous. So he’s a different story. She’s a regular girl. I’m with Larry on this. I don’t understand how this even blew up and became a viral sensation because she’s a minor. Kids do things. To me, I kind of feel weird about that. Justin Bieber is now an adult, but back then he was famous, had a whole group of people. He’s a little prick, and…
Leo: He wrote in the Ann Frank book. Ann was a great girl, hopefully she would have been a Belieber.
Christina: Just so you know Jerry, we can blame the Canadian education system for Justin Bieber. It is not our fault! He’s Canadian.
Larry M: It’s those socialists. It’s because they have free healthcare, that’s the problem.
Leo: I do think there is a problem here, which is the ability to judge quickly and just destroy people has never been better. And we always have been judgmental. Humans are judgmental, we’re gossip-mongers. But the fact that we have social media amplifying it, it’s so beyond anything we were able to do before. I do worry about that.
Larry M: Leo, I’m sure you have your share of trolls. I know I have. Negative things to say about us. Christina, I’m sure you have some. Jerry, I’m one of your trolls, what can I say?
Leo: Nobody trolls Jerry Pournelle.
Jerry: Not true. Larry’s had the same problem, Leo has the same problem; I haven’t seen much in Christina.
Leo: Nobody trolls Christina Warren.
Jerry: Somebody out there hoping to punch you in the stomach and get a headline for doing it.
Larry M: So here’s the problem. We’re all professional journalists and we go out there, put ourselves out there. If you’re a kid on Twitter, you’re also a public figure, but you’re not a public figure. But now millions of people are potentially tuning in on you and suddenly you’re being held to the same standards and getting kind of ridiculed like people like us who knew what we signed up for and have to put up with.
Leo: Neil Dash wrote a great article on Medium about this very subject. What is public… I’m afraid a little too nuanced probably for most people. And I’m not sure how to summarize it but essentially just because Twitter and Facebook are public technically doesn’t mean that they should be public. It’s public for instance and even legal to look in somebody’s window as you walk by on the street. But most social mores say it’s not to be done. The problem is we don’t have those mores on Twitter. He’s blaming the median in some ways for this because they’ll take tweets. Of course they’re right when they say, hey you’re tweeting it, it’s public. But many things we do that we consider as public have bi-social mores not being considered public. He says for instance if an addiction recovery group decides to take advantage of summer weather and meet in a park instead of their church basement, you can legally record the conversation and post it with photographs on the internet. You can tag the names of their employers, friends, and family members. But it would be wrong. It would be wrong.
Jerry: It will be wrong but it’s going to happen.
Larry M: I love taking pictures of people, but I will not take a picture of a person and do anything with it without their permission. And it’s not legally required, I’m not in a public park and you’re an interesting looking person. Let’s say you’re a performer or something, I’m not going to take a picture without asking, especially a kid. Simply because I think it’s wrong, legal or not legal.
Leo: And I think Jerry you would agree with this. The answer is not to make laws, but to enforce already-existing social mores and what is private.
Jerry: Of course! Now unlike Larry, I do take pictures of people without their permission. But I don’t publish them. Novelists need something to draw on and every now and then people will be doing interesting things that will appear at some point as an incident in one of my stories. But you won’t trace it to that person.
Leo: That’s really interesting. I’m sorry, a little side-tracked. So you, as part of character research for writing, you would take a picture of somebody and visualize that person, say it’s Gill the surfer.
Jerry: I would say that many novelists do.
Leo: I love that. That’s a little insight into the process that I love. That’s fascinating.
Larry M: My problem is I would publish it. I don’t have a private life.
Leo: I recommend people go to Medium and read in Neil Dash’s article. It’s nuanced…
Christina: He is such a good writer.
Leo: He is, and a good thinker too. What is Public? It’s so simple right, and no it’s not. And I think this is a great discussion that we need to have more often. Often I think what a lot of people do, and I’ll include myself to say, there ought to be a law. But really, more…
Christina: They out of the social norm.
Leo: No, social norms are so much more powerful. For instance, you have a lock on your front door but really it’s a simple thing to just kick that lock in and wonder into your house. The lock has the force of law, but also the force of social norms. You don’t do that, and I think these are very powerful. And I think we ought to remember that and maybe encourage people.
Larry M: It’s this whole thing about sexting and putting kids literally on sex offender registries because technically if you sext and you’re under 18, it’s child pornography. But there are good reasons why it’s generally a stupid idea. But that shouldn’t be a crime. And the idea that somebody should be punished for it is just absurd.
Jerry: Not only punished but essentially be put on a registered sex offender list…
Leo: For eternity! It’s a life sentence.
Jerry: Larry, I will point out regarding publication of stuff, I have taken pictures at things like com decks where people were doing goofy things at booths that they probably shouldn’t have been doing. And didn’t really want everybody to know what they were doing. And I suppose one of the macks that got fired as a result of… but that’s fair game. You’re in public and out in public, you know you’re in public.
Larry M: And you’re an adult, yea.
Leo: What was he doing, Jerry? I want to know. He got fired? For what?
Jerry: Well I won’t say which one but it’s one of the big outfits that basically, like Griffin but it isn’t Griffin. They sell accessories for this, that, and the other. And the guy was making some really nasty jokes about his own product.
Leo: That’s dumb.
Jerry: I just didn’t think he was doing that, not only that but it was Sunday! I probably wouldn’t do it again, but I did it. I was shocked when he was fired for it, and kind of sorry in a sense that I caused that. But I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong by publishing that picture. He was putting on a show for an audience, for heaven’s sake.
Larry M: I’ve taken pictures and somebody is walking in a parade or you go to a festival and they’re dressed in a particularly festive manner and you want to take a picture of them, I think it’s fine. Because in a sense of performing in public anyway. But I wouldn’t necessarily take a picture of someone standing there or a kid sucking his thumb. It came up when I was in Cuba, and there was this wonderful picture of this old man standing in a door way. And it would’ve made a great picture. And I’m sure I could’ve taken it and he wouldn’t have known about it and it would’ve been fine. But I just kind of felt bad. I just felt like I had no right to do that.
Jerry: Well I think you and I are kind of in agreement about what the mores are, yes.
Leo: The real problem, and I think we’re all very aware of this is that, I think this is another case of the drive to get clicks. Overpowering people’s better angels.
Larry M: I think this whole thing, I write for Forbes, and they pay by the hit. And I profit by that business model. I do very well because I get a lot of views. But I hate the idea and the incentive…
Leo: And doesn’t it incentive you to create click bait.
Larry M: It sets me to think very creatively about my headlines and I try to do it with integrity. But I would be lying to you if I didn’t think about the headlines a lot stronger than I used to think about headlines before I actually got paid for clicks. But of course that’s always been true in publishing. Going back forever, newspapers and headlines, it’s forever.
Christina: Pewlister invented journalism. When I made that remark in the Joseph Pillow’s building, to a bunch of Columbia Jay school students on a panel I was on, I got really nasty looks. But I am sorry I actually knew some history. But Pewlister and her, that’s her entire background in sensationalism. Was in being a tabloid. There’s a fine line and I don’t want to say it’s any worse today than it’s been before. What I do think though is that we have more access to regular people, because everybody puts stuff out there that we don’t consider. And I’ve been guilty of it, my publications have been guilty of it. I think we’ve all kind of had those moments as we’re talking about, where you don’t necessarily take into account this is what’s happening. And this is a real person and maybe not somebody who understands the significance of what’s going on around them. But the one good thing, the one only good thing I’ll say is that the new cycles are so short that you might get a lot of fresher if this goes national. But in two days it’s going to, in most cases, take everyone’s attention away. That’s the only good thing.
Larry M: If anybody ever says anything nasty about you on the web and it comes up on Google, all you have to do is be out there big time for another few weeks, that will be so buried so that when people Google you, you’ll be hundreds of hits down and you’ll be fine. So I always tell people the more public you are, assuming most of the things being said about you are positive, the safer you are in terms of your reputation being damaged because of a search engine.
Leo: This conversation has raised two points that I want to get to in one moment. One is the right to be forgotten which is the story going on right now with Google and the right in Europe anyway, to say I don’t want search results to show up. And the other is how a company incents its employees just as Forbes incents you, can affect the employee’s behavior. Comcast has a little admission it wants to make regarding a customer service call with Ryan Block we talked about last week. Boy that was the call heard around the world. Congratulations to Ryan for getting Comcast to think a little bit. But we’ll get to that in a second. I want to talk right now about one of our great sponsors at Atlassian. They make a product called Gera. You know about it if you are a programmer, you work in a technology environment, you’ve surely heard of Gera. It lets you easily capture and organize your workflow, helps you prioritize, take action on what’s important, stay up to date with the activity going on around you. What was it we were talking about, Mojeng? Mindcraft. Yea Mojeng uses Atlassian Jira for its Mindcraft bugs list for us.
Chad: In fact I’ve submitted and checked bugs for… this is Mojeng’s Atlassian account and this is public, they’ve set this up to be public so you can easily see the activity list. If you jump here… one of the things I like the most is that you can merge, if there are duplicate tickets, you can merge and make sure you track everything. Comments, screenshots, even videos of issues are very easy to attach, add, browse, check through. There’s just some really good stats throughout all of this.
Leo: I don’t know how much Mojeng is. They have literally hundreds of Gera add-ons that can include test management, time tracking, project management. It integrates with Get so you can follow your code from development all the way to delivery on a single system. They use Rest API so if they don’t have a plug-in you want, it’s easy enough to create one. Very flexible, very simple. Used by five person startup and 100,000 persons enterprises. NASA uses it, 70% of the fortune 500 uses it. 25,000 companies use Jira from Atlassian. And here’s the good news, it’s very affordable. Monthly plans start at just $10 per month for up to 10 users. And you can try it free for 30 days right now at atlassian.com/twit. Remember, atlassian.com/twit, try Jira for free for 30 days. You’ve been hearing about it. I’m sure you’re aware of it, you might want to try it and see how it works in your enterprise. Very sweet stuff. And we thank them so much for their support of This Week in Tech. A secret memo leaked by the consumerist from Comcast’s Chief Operating Officer, regarding Ryan Block’s very painful call. Dave Watson is the guy who writes this, he says it was painful to listen to this call. And I’m not surprised we’ve been criticized for it. Now this was an internal memo sent to Comcast employees so understand that he’s talking not to the public but to the Comcast employees. Respecting our customers is fundamental. We fell short in this instance but this is in a way smoke and gum. The agent on this call, and if you’ve heard this call you know the agent was incredibly annoying. He did a lot of what we trained him and paid him, and thousands of other retention agents to do. He tried to save a customer. And that’s important. The phrase he uses, we make it easy for customers to stay with Comcast. Another way for saying we make it really hard for them not to stay with Comcast. The situation and I hope this is true and not just fluff, the situation has caused us to re-examine how we do some things and make sure that each and every one of us from leadership to front-line understands the balance between selling and listening. And that a great sales organization always listens to the customer first and foremost. Ah, well we’ll see. We shall see. But it’s true. Companies like Forbes can incent people to, in the long run, they can see from an abstract it’s something they want but they may not want the effect of it.
Larry M: Well look in defense of Forbes, publishers have always done that. The difference now is that individual writers are being incentivized. And that’s where it gets a little strange. And I think that anyone who writes for any publication that rewards us for hits, either directly or indirectly and that’s how we keep our job, need to exercise some restraint, and remember that we’re journalists first and business-people second. Forbes invented this.
Leo: Same thing with Click Bait and outing people on social media and all of that.
Jerry: Faster now days; when I was doing Bite, the circulation was important if you didn’t manage to make it numbers you weren’t going anywhere. But on the other hand it took a lot longer to find out whether you were doing it right. Now days you find out you’re doing something wrong and you’re instantly known. Leo, I’m going to have to run. I’m at Larry’s house and it’s time to do other things. It’s been great.
Leo: Jerry a great pleasure to have you. We’re wrapping up anyway. I thank you so much for being here. Jerry Pournelle. Of course go to Amazon, you’ll find all of Jerry and Larry’s books there. Audible too, I love listening to Lucifer’s Hammer on Audible. It just came alive in my mind and I know that maybe isn’t quite literate. But that’s how I listened and I loved it. And you got the royalties so everybody’s happy. Thanks, Jerry! Always a pleasure having you on.
Jerry: Alright, thank you!
Leo: Take care, see you later! Ninety-one thousand people have requested removal from Google’s search results and they have removed tens of thousands of links from the European search results. This is all part of the right to be forgotten. Privacy regulators require this of Google. 328,000 URLs have been requested to be removed. It’s kind of unbelievable and I fear that this is going to extend beyond just European search results. That ultimately these courts are going to demand, hey you got these results. Those of us in Europe who know how to use .com are going to able to find them.
Larry M: Or proxy server then.
Leo: You have to remove them globally.
Larry M: As a first amendment advocate, I’m very concerned about this. I advocated the right to be forgiven. This particular case, this guy had a bad thing 15 years ago, and you can find that out on Google. The reality is that we shouldn’t judge him because he had a bankruptcy 15 years ago. And in most countries, it would have wiped off the books completely from the standpoint of employment or credit, etc. But the reality is that it happened, it’s part of the historical record. And does he really have a right to be forgotten if something actually happened?
Leo: I’m wondering if Google is not just saying, yea whatever let’s see how that works out. If I were Google, I would be tempted to just say sure we’ll remove everything. Then see what you got, see what’s left.
Larry M: The old Yahoo, back in 1998.
Leo: You’d have a human-designed directory.
Christina: Totally. And to your point Larry, I’m with you, this has terrible implications but then beyond that I also feel this is such a distant franchising decision because what it’s doing is that it’s saying that okay they don’t want to take as big a step as going to the places it’s actually published. And saying either they need to de-index themselves, or they need to remove the items. They’re going to Google. Because of course they’re afraid of what type of censorships are going to and they wouldn’t have a case there. What they’re also not doing is they’re going to Google and to Bing and Yahoo, but they’re not going to Lexus. They’re not going to Westlog, they’re not going to any of the eb-scope. They’re not going to any of these big paid directories that are still going to have this information. And anyone who has money could actually use it and research something. To me, it’s the ultimate franchising thing too, meaning that if you have money to get into a search database that has access to these documents, you can. But if you’re a regular person or if you’re someone who doesn’t have anything then you can’t have access to this information.
Larry M: If somebody spent the last 20 years running safekids.com and connectsafely.org, I think it puts out the wrong message to kids and adults, too. It says you can do whatever you want and you have the right to be forgotten. And the reality is we’re responsible for our behavior and as you pointed out it’s not totally forgotten. It’s still there, there’s still a digital record of it. Even if you purged it, even if you were successful at purging from the source, there could still be a copy of it that somebody took in a cache. So the message is not that you should have the right to erase any indiscretion but you should think before you post. For example, this girl, let’s say she decides she doesn’t want her images found by Google. She can do that but it won’t erase the fact that they’re all over Twitter and Facebook and they’re forever there.
Christina: But to me when you’re talking about something like a bankruptcy or a conviction, or whatever the case may be, as you said these are points of facts. These are things that happened and to try to remove them not from the historical record but from an index that is run by a private company that is another country and another jurisdiction, that’s not associated to this, that’s not hosting the content, that is merely hosting that has an index to the hyperlinks, to me just sets up two worlds of back information. The world where people who pay can have access and the world where people can’t can’t. I think that’s a really nasty precedent, and to me it hasn’t come into this at all but that’s really what it creates. It creates two types of access worlds, and that’s exactly what the web was supposed to get rid of. All the first movement stuff, even separate from that, even just the fact that we’re creating this duel existence, a paradigm, it’s really troubling.
Larry M: If I can add one more thing. It also puts Google in the business of making editorial decisions. And we don’t want that.
Leo: It’s not editorial. It’s almost like a court they’re going to have to set up a tribunal of people who will decide each case on its merits? And you get to be removed but you don’t!
Larry M: I had a bad hair day yesterday, can you remove that, please?
Leo: No, you may not.
Christina: And I was making this point to someone earlier this week. One of the biggest issues is that clearly the regulators in this case do not understand the technology involved. They feel like it’s so easy to remove the link and don’t realize that there’s a lot more to it than that. And removing something from search results isn’t actually removing anything. And I think they’re putting this on Google because A, it isn’t their responsibility even under the guidelines. And B, I don’t think they understand how the web works.
Leo: It does feel that way.
Christina: And how hyperlinks at their base level work, so to me it’s sad that this moved so quickly from a judgment to now going into effect. When now they’re asking these questions that Google has until the thirtieth to answer. And I’m feeling like shouldn’t these have been questions that should have been asked before a judgment was put into place? So you can sort of think about, if there is a policy how can we reinforce it. Rather than, oh we made this law and now we’re going to talk to the company and see how we can enforce it based on what their technical capabilities are. Which we don’t know what they are because we don’t understand them. All we know is that this is scary to us. And we don’t like that when I Google my name, someone Google bombed me. Or the only things that come up are these things from a period of time, and it embarrasses me. At a certain point, Larry to your point earlier, a way to hide that information is to have more a presence and have things going on. But in absence of either that or the right to forgive, the solution isn’t to go after the indexer.
Larry M: But your realize that this is the European equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court. There’s no appeal, and it’s a done deal.
Christina: No, I completely understand that. And that’s what I’m saying and what’s so troubling. A, the decision was decided the way it was without any of the technical knowledge. And the regulators are asking these questions of Google, after the ruling, rather than asking those things beforehand. Because to me I feel like that would be like our Supreme Court, to their credit, they don’t do everything right, but the bring people in, they bring in experts in. They try to learn about the various caveats of what’s happening with someone before making a decision. In this case, I don’t feel like there was any investigation whatsoever. How Google actually works, and how even the basics of even a search engine would work. I feel like they wooden this with almost no technical knowledge.
Leo: Here’s a startup, I think the start-up of the week. An app for the iPhone called Fix. The easiest way to fix a parking ticket. Now you have to get an invite and it’s only San Francisco so far. But when you get a ticket, you take a picture of it, you send it to Fixed. First they look through the ticket for technicalities, mistakes. And then if they don’t find one, they automatically generate a letter on your behalf to San Francisco saying oh we can test this ticket. And they’ll fax it as well. You pay nothing until the fine is reversed, in which case you pay 25% of the fine, into Fixed. As you might imagine, the city of San Francisco is not terribly happy about this. Fixed was mailing and faxing the submission and the city of San Francisco sent them a letter and said they can’t fax it. So they unplugged the fax machine. I don’t know if this is going to survive or not.
Larry M: Leo, I got a parking ticket. The day I got my first smartphone with a camera, I got a parking ticket on Wilshire Blvd. And I knew I was innocent. I documented my innocence, I appealed, I still lost. I had an iron-clad case, it didn’t matter. I could have flown to LA and…
Leo: That’s what you need to do is go to court.
Larry M: Exactly, but it’s not worth it.
Christina: You have to go to court and hope they show up. You hope that no one from the police department shows up to contest your thing. And most times they won’t. If you get lucky and no one’s there, a little fun in your favor. But if you were visiting or something, then yea you’re screwed.
Larry M: Even if they weren’t visiting, it’s easier to pay a $50 parking fee.
Leo: Someone in the chat room suggested and I think it’s a great idea. Flat fee parking, a yearly fee.
Larry M: I like the fact that they’re incentivized to win the case. You don’t pay unless it works.
Leo: They’ve got a million fundraisers.
Larry M: The nice thing Leo is that I don’t have to wait long because every time I got to San Francisco, I get a ticket.
Leo: I really want to thank you for being here. Jerry Pournelle, who has already taken off. Larry Magid, larrymagid.com. It’s called Larry’s World, I’m sorry. Larrysworld.com is the place to go. Find out about all of Larry’s efforts with the kids. And of course you’ll hear him on CBS radio every single day. It’s great to see you again, Larry.
Larry M: Thanks again, Leo.
Leo: To Christina Warren, who is one of my favorite panelists, and we want to get you back more. Mashable.com… what’s your title at Marshable?
Christina: I’m a senior tech analyst. Boy if you’re single at thirty, what’s next? It’s all downhill from there. Anyway, great to have you both. Thank you for being here. Let me just show you a little bit on TWiT, if you missed anything this is some of what you might have seen.
Leo: Third anniversary brick house, we’ve been here for three years. We moved in on July 24, 2011, and it’s been a great home for us. And we hope for many more years in the brick house. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 3pm pacific, 6pm eastern time. 2200-UTC. If you stop by, you will be glad you did. I promise you can watch live and chat with us in the chat room. We even have room enough for us you to come visit us in the studio. Just email you for firstname.lastname@example.org. And I thank all of you who came today. It’s nice to have a live studio audience, but don’t worry if you missed the show you can always find it on demand and audio, and video. Twit.TV On all the apps stitcher, we have our own apps on every platform including Roku. There’s a great twit apps, and we want to see you here each and every week. Thanks for joining us. Let’s not forget! We have the new brick house t-shirt. We had a vote and it was the closest design that won. There are a variety of different ways to get this. It will be available for one month only. Can you show the back? There it is, that’s the TWiT brick house anniversary t-shit. So I invite you to visit teespring/twit. We have a couple of different styles, there’s a woman’s tee as well. Different colors, white and black. And I think you’ll be very happy with your one of a kind. We’ve only sold five? This is the first anybody has said anything about it. Go ahead and buy your brick house t-shirt to commemorate our third anniversary in the TWiT brick house. Thanks everybody for being here. We’ll see you next week on another TWiT, it’s in the can. Thank you everybody!