MacBreak Weekly 448 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It's time for MacBreak Weekly. Guess what? No Apple Watch talk today, we've got plenty of other things to talk about including the new Tidal music service and how that might affect Apple's Beats. Alex Lindsay has a unique take on that one, Adam Engst joins us from TidBITS, we'll talk about the new Steve Jobs biography, Becoming Steve Jobs and what he thinks of that and Alex Lindsay, Andy Ihnatko and Adam Engst. Up next with MacBreak Weekly.
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Leo: MacBreak Weekly is brought to you by LegalZoom. It's national start your business month at LegalZoom and the best time to create the business you've always dreamed of. LegalZoom is not a law firm but they can connect you with an independent attorney, visit LegalZoom.com and use the offer code MBW in the referral box to save even more. And by Trunk Club. Have the wardrobe you've always dreamed of hand-picked by your own personal stylist, go to TrunkClub.com/twit and join the Trunk Club today absolutely free. It's time for MacBreak Weekly the show that covers your Mac news and your Apple news and somebody said we should call it Apple Weekly, Apple Break Weekly. That doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well, we'll just stick with MacBreak Weekly, but you understand it's everything. Andy Ihnatko is here from the Chicago Sun Times, hello Andrew.
Andy Ihnatko: Hello Leo.
Leo: Mr. Alex Lindsay from Pittsburgh, PA and the Pixel Corps.
Alex Lindsay: Hey.
Leo: Good to see you. And joining us this week because Rene Ritchie is in Ull for the Ull conference in Ireland, Mr. Adam Engst of TidBITS fame, hello Adam.
Adam Engst: Good to be here Leo.
Leo: Up where the penguins go.
Adam: Yeah well let me tell you it's been penguin weather for a while here.
Leo: They're multiplying, you've got three now I can see.
Adam: Oh you haven't even begun to see the collection.
Leo: Mr. Popper's penguins.
Adam: Yes, yes. Best... I've got a copy of that too.
Andy: Does your penguin realize that he's not very well camouflaged behind that green bush?
Adam: (laughs) Penguins are a little silly about green, they don't really see it. Because it's not one of those things are evolved to notice.
Leo: Wow I never thought of that. There's not a lot of green up there is there? Or down there.
Andy: You also notice that the Engst eye system is based on movement, so if he just remains perfectly still the Engst will not be able to see him and think of him as a prey creature.
Adam: Yeah they're slightly related to ostriches that way, it's the flightless bird approach.
Leo: Right. Just don't move.
Andy: Just don't get him cornered man. Don't get him cornered.
Leo: Don't move. We've got a Baltimore Orioles fan in the studio today and his T-shirt says this is bird land, I like it. I like it.
Adam: That was high school for me. Orioles all the way.
Leo: Yeah? Were you the Orioles? Alright.
Adam: Oh yeah, Cal Ripkin, that era.
Leo: Oh that was a great era.
Adam: Just you know, couldn't after that, just couldn't stay in touch.
Leo: Yeah. Yeah. Well here we are once again and we're counting down to the Apple Watch only 11 days.
Leo: Til the orders, and of course we're learning more and more about the process and how people who have $17,000 to spend will get to jump the line, as they should. Speaking for the Plutarchs? Are we Plutarchs? What are we?
Andy: Uh, I was raised Catholic.
Adam: I think a plutocracy is different from a Plutarchracy.
Leo: Plutocracy and Plutarch are not related.
Leo: Hm. The plutocrats can jump...
Adam: Because Pluto's no longer a planet, remember.
Leo: Oh man the dwarf star contingent. No or not dwarf stars either, heavenly bodies... anyway you can jump the line, there's not much to say. Hey, now that we've had a week to digest Becoming Steve Jobs, do we have any thoughts? I know that Rene and Andy were reading it and I'm reading it, I'm only in chapter three so I can't really comment. Alex and Adam have you dipped into the new biography?
Adam: I have not read it, however I did just of course, the next best thing which was edited Michael Cohen's book review for TidBITS.
Leo: Oh what did Michael think?
Adam: He actually, he did a really interesting thing. He compared it to the Isaacson book and basically noted that the whole controversy about which one is sort of more accurate or anything like that is just not really... it's missing the point. That they're two completely different books. The Isaacson book, Jobs, is really designed to be a biography. That's what Isaacson does, and it is complete, it talks to a lot of people, it gets all the sides of Jobs as Steve Jobs himself wanted. Now the Becoming Steve Jobs book is a very different sort of book. Michael compares it actually to the classic genre of the hero's journey, that it is trying to follow some of the events in Steve Jobs's career to show sort of how he gets to where he ends up and you know takes lessons from that along the way, so it's sort of by definition more positive because it's not trying to be a complete biography, it's just saying here's the trajectory this guy took in ending up where he was.
Leo: It's turning out to be a Rorschach test for Apple lovers and haters actually, the battle, you know Jony Ive hates the Isaacson book, he said I can't regard it more lowly. And then, I'm reading Dan Gilmore's piece in Sleight and Dan hastens to mention that he used to be an Apple computer fan but no longer, as if that's somehow germane. (laughs) I have to say, only three chapters in I haven't heard anything I haven't heard already and I feel like you could read either one and get a fairly good picture of Steve. I don't feel like the Isaacson book was bad, and I don't, I think Becoming Steve Jobs is fine but I also feel like I've read this now 18 million times and I don't... I don't know.
Alex: One of the things as you look at these books that have come out, and you look at the articles and you look at the articles also about you know, Tim as well, I think that one of the things that you... it feels like you know, Steve Jobs was perfect to get Apple to where it was.
Leo: Yeah no that's not new, we know that.
Alex: But it also feels like Apple, in a lot of ways I feel like Apple's doing a lot of the right things now.
Leo: Isn't that interesting, yeah.
Alex: In a way that I don't know if Steve Jobs would have. You know, Tim Cook is doing things when it comes to philanthropy and outreach and standing up for political things and also just the way he interacts with employees and the culture and all of those things are the things you do when you're a larger company, it's that revolutionary versus effective management that I think Steve Jobs created a lot of these things but it does feel like there's a transition here that I actually think is pretty healthy, I think a lot of people thought that what would happen after Steve but I think that Tim Cook is doing a pretty good job of moving that to a more mature, growing company.
Alex: Maybe that will mean a slow decline, I don't know. But I think it's good in a lot of ways, what he's doing.
Adam: One of the things I've been fascinated to see is just how many interviews with Steve Jobs and Jony Ive, they just keep coming. And you know, we were joking on our staff list that he's going to start giving interviews to high school newspapers, I mean.
Leo: (laughing) Well considering this is a guy that's been avoiding any press for years, for decades...
Adam: And just in general I mean Apple certainly before was very careful about letting people talk to any of the executives and Jobs very seldom did any kind of public event so to see Tim Cook doing them over and over and over again, on the one hand I think it's very positive. But it's certainly a big change.
Leo: Yeah. It's interesting, I mean it shows that what Steve did was not unique, but of course Steve hand picked Tim Cook and trained him and created the company that Tim runs, but Tim's running it quite well now.
Andy: Yeah absolutely and also as... you can't say this often enough, that Apple is a creature, an evolutionary environment in which you will not succeed to the level of that level of management unless you are simpatico with all of their values and all of their principles and here I'm mostly talking about their thoughts about the role of technology, what good design is and what their role should, what the relationship is between a maker of technology and a consumer of technology should be. So you're really not going to get one of those mavericks who lasts for ten years and gets promoted to a senior vice presidency if they're the person saying “Oh my god, Jony this is the dumbest thing you've ever done ever, who the hell would ever want to buy something like this?” and it's not because they have a legacy of yes people, it's because everybody pretends to work together, it's like you don't join a baseball team because you want to play basketball and Apple, sometimes it's a problem with Microsoft and Google and other companies. Apple is a baseball team filled with people who want to just play baseball.
Leo: Well they're playing very well, superstars. Cal Ripkin Jr's of the technology world.
Andy: If they were baseball they'd be the Yankees and we would all hate them.
Leo: (laughs) It's an interesting book though and I'm not... does your reviewer like it?
Adam: Yeah, yeah. I think Michael does like it, he just keeps coming back it's just so different from the other book in kind of the basic thrust that Isaacson had a lot of access to jobs and exclusive interviews and things like that, but the other guy... Schlender, yeah.
Leo: He claims to have had a lot of access too.
Adam: Yes, and he apparently both had a lot of access in general, but was also much more of an actual friend of Steve Jobs's so that he interacted with Jobs's family informally and things like that, so...
Leo: Well and as we pointed out last week he was also more technical.
Leo: So Isaacson, the failure a lot of people felt of Isaacson's book was he just, he didn't understand technology enough to ask the right questions, which is I'm sure exactly why Jobs picked him.
Adam: (laughs) Well and the other thing that Michael points out is Isaacson's book comes out right after Steve Jobs dies. So no one had a chance to see it before hand and they pushed it out to capitalize on the big news. Probably the right publishing decision, but as a result everyone close to him was somewhat blindsided by it. They hadn't had a chance to see the early early drafts like they might have had Steve lived another six months.
Adam: And also it's entirely possible that Steve's opinion would have possibly changed the book, probably not, but he certainly would have talked to his friends and family about why it did what it did and whether or not that was what he wanted.
Leo: You know, I'm enjoying it and I'm an Apple fanatic and I still, I feel like okay, I've read so many books on Steve Jobs now, it's hard to find a new anecdote, plus I over time have met many of the people mentioned in the book, heard those anecdotes from them. I mean I just feel like it's not, it's not a must read. But it does give you a new angle on it I guess.
Andy: I just think that no one biography is going to give you the whole story on any individual but this is, if I were to recommend one book on Steve Jobs it would be this one and partly for the reason that you mentioned, I have heard a lot of these stories from people, directly from people who either worked with Steve or worked with people who worked with Steve on a regular basis and this is the first biography where when I hear those stories again it tracks very much with the experience that these people were sharing with me whereas, not that every single... not that even the majority of the stories I read in the Isaacson had that sort of experience with me, but when it did happen like, oh... that really kind of isn't the way that this person told me that story, and when you hear the same story from two or three people both of whom were either in the room or talking to people ten minutes afterward, you know that that probably that printed version... it's factual but it's not true so to speak.
Leo: Yeah. I came away with one little tidbit that I enjoyed which was that in the entire life cycle of the Apple 2 computer, from the late seventy... what, 78' through 1993 they sold a total of 6 million, which is how many iPhones are sold every week.
Leo: So I thought that was quite interesting. And they only sold something like 130,000 Apple 3s, so the Apple 3 was quite a flop.
Andy: Yeah, well that's not a surprise. I was a kid when the Apple 3 was coming out and we went from being extremely excited about what the follow up was going to be to the Apple 2 to universally like wow, that really is what we're getting after waiting... I can't, I have to go to like the Blackberry playbook or the... HP's tablet versus the iPad tablet to... a product that landed with such an audible thud on the ground as the Apple 3. It was not anything anybody wanted and it did not in any way improve upon or replace the item that people already had, it was amazing.
Adam: Now it will be interesting to see if there's a change in printing. Michael did note that there's a number of minor trivial errors in the slender book. The Apple 1 did not have a 6800 processor, but a 6502.
Leo: Did they say 6800 really?
Adam: 6800 not 68,000.
Leo: No, I think... yeah. Wow.
Adam: And then he calls the first Macintosh ivory, not beige. And claims the iPad 2 had a flash, which it did not. So there's a number of little things that probably could have been fixed in like Mac tracker.
Leo: Yeah. That's odd.
Andy: And a couple of those are kind of interesting, especially the glib with the processor because the interesting story is that it's the arrival of the 6502 processor that enabled all of these little home brew computers to be happening just the same way that now Intel will release a mobility enabled, very high powered processor and now suddenly you're seeing little tablets that can run desktop apps. There are mistakes here and there and I think a second edition is going to be a must buy for anybody who bought the first one.
Leo: It is available on Audible, that's how I've been reading it. I feel... I have to apologize for not having finished it, but... you did Andy? Did you finish it?
Andy: I got to the end of it just over the weekend.
Leo: I should have buckled down and read more.
Andy: Eh, it's a very readable book. And also you're not missing out by...
Leo: No I enjoy listening to it, yeah. Um, let's take a break we'll talk about Tidal versus Beats. We'll also talk about lawsuits, and iWatches, Apple Watches.
Andy: (laughs) How many months and we're still not saying the right word?
Leo: I know, for crying out loud.
Andy: I've trained myself to say Apple Watch, but I cannot say Apple Edition Watch? Is it Apple Watch Edition? How do I say the steel one? This is such a big mistake, the way they named this thing.
Leo: Comcast says “I don't know, we never talked about them.” And Tim Cook says I'm giving away all my money, we'll tell you where to line up.
Adam: Pass it along.
Leo: Dibs! (laughs) And we'll report on why Meerkat is dying and taking US tech journalism with it. Our show today brought... (laughs). Our show today brought to you by LegalZoom.com, it's national start your business month. Actually, the very last day of national start your business month at LegalZoom. Which means it's a great time to start the business you always dreamed of, or if you have a business and you haven't put it on any proper legal footing to do so. Now LegalZoom is not a law firm, they help you get your business done, at your direction. They can also connect you with an independent attorney, so if you have questions it's a great place to go as well. Now's a great time, there's never been a better time to start a business. And LegalZoom.com makes it easy, it made it easy for me ten years ago, we are now at the tenth anniversary of the LLC I formed to start TWiT. They've been giving advice for the last decade, a million business owners just like you and me. If you need advice for your business, no problem. LegalZoom isn't a law firm but they have built a network of trusted attorneys to provide the guidance you need for your specific situation, and here's the best part. During national start your business month, LegalZoom is offering an attorney consultation for only $50! If you're unsure about the best way to start, if you already run a business, you need some advice, this offer is for you. Get legal advice for your business, no further obligation, a low one-time cost of $50, wow. My attorney picks up the phone at $70. Go to LegalZoom.com to day to find out more, attorney consultations are provided by independent attorneys available in most states, get the legal help you need for your business at LegalZoom.com, offer code MBW in the referral box and you'll save even more. That's LegalZoom.com, and don't forget when you check out, MBW to save. Even more, Tim Cook says I'm giving it all away. The article, in Fortune Magazine says he's worth about $785 million. He's going to pay for his 10 year old nephew's college education and then whatever's left he will give away. This is in the tradition of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg who have all committed to giving at least half their worth away. It's called the giving pledge. I don't, actually Tim Cook's not on that list but it's in the same spirit.
Adam: We need to think just a little bit longer though because his nephew isn't going to go to college for another 8 years, and the way college costs are going, $785 million might not be as much as it seems like. Just saying.
Andy: Also, if I knew I was getting that deal I would say “Hey guess what uncle, NASA has agreed to let me do a semester in the international space station, that will be $40 million.”
Leo: Hey if I have anything left in my kid's college fund after they're eight, nine, ten years in college, I promise to give that all away as well.
Leo: You have my word on it. I think I'm running out already two years in.
Andy: That is a pretty cool proposition though. When you think about what you could do if you had tens of millions of dollars to disperse and it seems as though the least satisfying thing imaginable would be to simply, let it be your children or your relative's problem after you die, the idea of sitting there and thinking “What problem do I want to solve forever for some city or some institution?” The idea that I'm going to put $30 million into an endowment fund so that this library or this educational system is always funded so long as they don't screw things up like try to launch a startup or something like that.
Leo: Andy I'm just saying if you wanted to give up your Justice League action figure collection not handed off to your kids, I know somebody would take it.
Andy: That would be roughly half my net worth so that would be a very simple suggestion.
Leo: Tim Cook told Fortune he already has started donating money quietly, but he wants to develop a more systematic approach to philanthropy, and that's exactly what Bill Gates said. Bill Gates, before he started being a philanthropist, while he was still running Microsoft was often asked, “You're the richest man in the world, why aren't you giving more away?” he says “Because I don't have the time to do it right.” The minute he retired he started the Gates Foundation with his wife, and now they are giving it all away. Or most of it, I think he wants to give 95% of it away. I think that's great, more power to him. What are you going to do with $785 million? Especially if you don't have kids. Buy a library or something, no you make it do something.
Andy: Yeah, again, I've always thought that not on that kind of grand scale, but how many times do you like open up a newspaper or open up a news feed and see that oh well some church or some library had a snow roof collapse and it's going to cost them $7,000 to fix it and they're not really sure where it's going to come from, the ability to sit at your desk and say “Done, here's a check. You're done.”
Leo: Yeah, wouldn't that be nice.
Andy: Problem solved, you were going to worry about this for three or four months. Nope, here you go. Check, done.
Leo: This comes from the really good interview Adam Lashinsky did in Fortune Magazine talking about Tim's unique style and how he has in fact done very well, you know, okay silly me, but I liken it to Joe Montana and Steve Young. As a 49ers fan, you know there was no greater quarterback than Joe Montana, until you look at the numbers and realize Steve Young was a greater quarterback than Joe Montana. This is like the successor, beating the master. Stock has gone from a split adjusted $54 to $126 since Jobs died, that's a market cap of $700 billion. The cash hoard has more than tripled since Steve passed to $150 billion, and that, despite the fact that Apple's already spent almost $100 million in buy backs and dividends, something Jobs said we will never do. (laughs) $38 billion of merchandise sold in China, a market that was nonexistent when Steve left the company. Tim's done a great job, and what's interesting, he's taken I think Apple into a new area with the Watch into fashion.
Andy: That remains to be seen.
Leo: Well we'll see how it works, yeah.
Adam: Now what was the term, I was looking at a near time style section, and what was the term they were using for Apple, the Apple Watch? Ah, normcore.
Leo: What? Normcore?
Leo: Not nerdcore.
Adam: Nope, normcore. Meaning that apparently it's all fashionable, this specific type of fashion that Apple Watch will be is not hardcore, not softcore but normcore. Just sort of normal.
Leo: For crying out loud!
Andy: (laughing in background)
Adam: Because everyone can have it and therefore it's not real fashion.
Leo: According to Wikipedia, normcore is a unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious and average looking clothing.
Andy: (continues laughing)
Adam: That's what I'm saying, you're Time magazine, all over it.
Andy: I know nothing.
Leo: I'm normcore!
Andy: I'm reminded that I know absolutely nothing because now there is like, this isn't very stylish or fashionable or whatever, there's absolutely no trend represented by this, we have to call no trend a trend itself, there you go.
Leo: Here you go, this is a picture of two people. One man, one woman, dressed in normcore.
Leo: This is also on Wikipedia. Note, there's space available for an Apple Watch there.
Andy: Oh good heavens. Well first of all, you don't button the top button.
Leo: That's not, what is that? That's Canadian normcore. I think he's from Canada.
Andy: I'm just saying, it seems as though this writer wanted to say that Apple has come up with a really boring watch design but they don't want to offend Apple because they still haven't seen the reviewed hardware yet.
Leo: I want to know who posed for this normcore picture.
Adam: Skinny leg khakis, really?
Leo: Yeah I didn't even know they made those. Actually those, no they're just acid washed jeans.
Andy: Well they're not pleated so he's okay. They're flat front khakis.
Leo: Flat front. There's something in his pocket though that's really drawing the eye.
Andy: Maybe it's just the way he's holding that dark iPad but he looks like he's ready to be taken into the spaceship by his doomsday cult.
Leo: (laughing) It's the perfectly white sneakers that are the giveaway isn't it? Yeah.
Alex: It's the tapering to the sneakers that really sets that off, you know.
Adam: Yeah there's something about those legs. Really...
Alex: All they have to do now is just show this picture and say “Now in three styles.”
Andy: What was the model casting called for that photo though? We're looking for a man who's average height, not particularly attractive, not particularly ugly, the sort of person you walk past and take no notice of whatsoever.
Adam: I love how he's looking off to the side.
Leo: Is this... uh, is this where I should stand right here? Should I... is that a girl?
Alex: The problem is I don't think there was any casting for this, I think this is just some random photo from some... the guy's probably watching just going “Uh, why? Why are you making so much fun of me?”
Leo: It's from Roscoe. Whatever that is.
Adam: It's a stock photo?
Leo: No it can't be, it has to be... it's uploaded by a guy named Roscoe. It has to be creative commons right?
Andy: This is actually a good lesson. Notice that the woman is smiling nicely, she like seems like very friendly, very approachable and therefore we're not even like even thinking about her clothing or making fun of her, but we're making fun of, not the man but the man's clothes because that's such an odd... that's an odd face. That's an odd facial expression I'm saying.
Alex: It's a why am I standing here face. I don't understand what we're doing here.
Leo: I feel like he's about to say “Life is like a box of chocolates.”
Andy: If my peer review were not in 24 hours I would not have agreed to this. This is not part of my job.
Leo: Do you have my stapler? I was told I would get my stapler if you... if you let me... if I did this picture.
Andy: Although Lieutenant Dangle cosplay, he would be right up there at the top.
Leo: Alright, enough making fun of these poor people.
Andy: Not making fun of the people, making fun of the photo and...
Leo: This is from the normcore article on Wikipedia. The word first appeared in a web comic Templar, Arizona. Was later employed by K-Hole which believe it or not, it's the worst name ever, it's a trend forecasting group. Why would you name your company K-Hole?
Leo: That's terrible! The word... the word, lest you think we're making this up, was named runner up for a neologism of the year in 2014. By the Oxford University Press.
Alex: I don't even know what that means.
Leo: I've never heard the word normcore, but it was runner up, and neologism is a new word. New made up word.
Adam: The dictionary people always vote on those, it's actually quite fun to hear the debating of what the neologism of the year is going to be each year. But I did not realize that normcore was even in the running.
Leo: Wow. So the watch is normcore, I don't know... is the watch normcore, really? If the Time says so it must be.
Adam: I was going to say, the problem is if the fashionistas say so it's hard to argue.
Andy: But in all seriousness, it does seem like the sort of thing where they realize that a watch is a very unique and particular sort of appeal to individual people. You can't find one design that is unique that everybody is going to enjoy, or enough people are going to enjoy that it will do that Apple wants it to do, so you have to come up with like the Jimmy Fallon style design which, I don't mean that as an insult towards the watch, Jimmy Fallon. But someone who is very very palatable to a very very wide range of people, because the David Letterman style is going to turn off a lot of people, you know.
Leo: Leno's more normcore than Fallon. Fallon's a little more youthful.
Andy: Well, Leno was Fallon's Letterman. Leno is edgy compared to Fallon.
Leo: Really? Wow.
Andy: Which is why he has such a great audience, it's like he does stuff that the most people are going to really enjoy, and it's not because his audience is stupid, it's because it's a very very open big tent.
Leo: RF2020 in our chatroom says that Apple is becoming mainstream.
Andy: Becoming? Is.
Leo: Is it? It is. Well in certain circles, certainly here in the west coast it is.
Alex: It's the largest company in the world, I would call that mainstream.
Leo: Mainstream. Yeah. That's not really, that measure is by... stock value.
Adam: Most valuable company in the world.
Leo: Yeah by stock value. That, you know, the price to earnings.
Alex: But still, I mean. Maybe that's not the definition but it's the smoke that points towards the fire.
Adam: And also keep in mind the Apple brand is always in like the top three or five of brands in the world. So you know, they're not missing out on... it's not like we're talking Gazprom being the most valuable company in the world, who knows what Gazprom is?
Leo: Was, the former most valuable company.
Adam: Yeah yeah, that's who Apple took over from. I don't know exactly how Gazprom is run, there's Russians involved and oil so you know, we don't want to go there.
Leo: You can't go wrong with fossil fuels.
Leo: So Apple has spent a teeny weenie tiny teeny weenie bit of its cash reserves on a database company called FoundationDB. Why? It's a NoSQL database, which is very fashionable right now. It's probably for use on the net.
Alex: Yeah it looks like it's for their back end solutions, and I think one of the upsets that has been connected to this and some of the other purchases around this area is that they're closing it up and there are people that were actually using it and there's a high probability they're not going to support it.
Leo: Yeah they've already shut the website down, yeah.
Alex: And there's a lot of developers that were using it for their own thing that think it's all going to be taken away, and now they built up a lot of infrastructure around it so there is some upset.
Adam: Holy cow.
Leo: The motto for FoundationDB, I think this is normcore, “NoSQL Yes acid.”
Adam: I mostly like the fact that it can do 14.4 million random writes per second.
Alex: And I'll bet you the guy in that photo knows exactly what that means.
Leo: I really hate, (mumbles) no acid. We don't know what Apple's going to do with it, we don't know what they paid for it. Although they had raised $22.7 million.
Adam: At the level Apple buys things also, they very well may be buying some level of the hardware but really buying the people.
Leo: Yeah. Could be an acquire, yeah.
Adam: Just like, we need these people to make iCloud sing so you know, let's just buy the whole thing.
Alex: And sometimes I think it comes down to Apple is using something already and then they find that it's so integral to what they're doing they might as well just absorb it so that it doesn't go somewhere else, someone doesn't buy it and take it away from them because it's become too much a part of their infrastructure.
Andy: That happens a lot, not only that, not only do we want to make sure that this is a reliable resource for us forever, but also sometimes more often with components than anything else, we don't want anybody else to have access to this either because we feel as though we can make this into a real strategic advantage for us.
Leo: An acquisition that Apple made a while ago, the Beats acquisition is now facing, perhaps, some competition from Tidal. I watched this morning with growing surprise and amusement the Tidal announcement. They have a lot of stars, I'm trying to find the video of it. Of course Jay Z was there, his buddy Kanye was there, Beyonce was there, Madonna was there, Daft Punk was there, I mean everybody came out on the stage. They had a lot of artists, there's Arcade Fire, let me jump ahead.
Alex: It's like an award ceremony except that it's...
Andy: Exactly, complete with the clear podium.
Leo: Look, there's dead mice on the stage. Mouse? One DeadMau5e. So the idea, then they all weirdly signed this piece of paper which we didn't know what they were signing. Wasn't really clear that it was Rihanna signing that, she's going to hand off the pen to Usher.
Andy: It's a ton team, and the last one to survive wins $8,000.
Leo: So Tidal's been around for a while, what are they signing? The declaration of artist independence. And look, a little thumb print from Usher.
Alex: And I have to admit that the scheming side of me wonders whether, what this really is is a play to get bought by Apple.
Alex: Wait wait, just hold on. These guys are all getting a percentage of these company, they're in a very uphill battle for this. But they do represent a core number of people that Apple would be very interested in for Beats and probably be a lot less expensive than Beats to acquire you know. So if they were remotely succesful it would be easy for Apple to just kind of absorb this into what they're already doing.
Leo: Apple doesn't need them and they can just laugh and let them move on. The real question is whether they'll get artist exclusives. These guys are signing something, but I doubt very much they're saying oh yeah, we're going to make sure our albums only appear on Tidal. Now, Tidal is $10 for a very similar service to Beats or Spotify, $20 though if you want the CD quality music. Kind of like Deezer.
Alex: I'm not sure if anybody around can hear any more.
Leo: You know, I have Tidal on my Sonos as well as all the other things, including a lot of high res music that I can play directly, on the Sonos anyway. I can't tell the difference. It sounds, you know, CD quality sounds exactly like whatever else I'm getting.
Adam: There was a claim somewhere that Tidal was going to get early exclusive to new albums. So it wasn't going to be exclusive exclusive, but you know, you get it for the first month or whatever.
Leo: That's what Madonna's doing with her knee on the table. I will give you exclusive. Here's Nicki Minaj. They have some very well established artists, I don't see Taylor Swift in that lineup.
Andy: Look at Nicki Minaj, signing like a normal person.
Leo: Yeah, how dare she?
Leo: My favorite though is Daft Punk.
Andy: I'm still trying to figure out the Madonna humping the table.
Leo: I don't understand what that was all about at all.
Andy: Is that like, that's the only, for some legal tax reason she has to...
Leo: Give it a knee print.
Andy: It's not legal unless...
Alex: I have a feeling that she knows that if everyone's taking photos that will be the photo everybody uses.
Leo: Yeah, she's right. That's true. You're absolutely right, that's brilliant. So... the question is, is there... and really the question is related to Beats because Spotify really owns this market, Pandora, Spotify, own the market and most of these others are you know, a tenth of the size if that. Beats was at purchase by Apple, we don't even know any numbers since then, a quarter of a million users, paid users, compared to Spotify's 10 million paid users. So I mean we're 1/40th the size. On the other hand, I have to say Apple with its marketing clout and its brand name and iTunes label, and I could perhaps push it forward.
Alex: Oh and 400 million credit cards.
Leo: You know I think that that's over... I think the value of that is over stated. Amazon also has everybody's credit card, and it's not so hard to put your credit card in once.
Alex: But Apple's already selling more than anyone else into this industry so it's, they have a lot of people...
Leo: Yeah, downloads, yeah.
Alex: Right. So I think that they're definitely in a prime position to do this, and I think that Apple has the money to do a lot of the exclusives that we talked about so they can incentivize a lot of artists. Some of the artists that were signing this for title you know, Beyonce did an early exclusive and I think that Apple can be looking at many many more of those opportunities and I have a feeling if you look at what they already did with HBO that they're going to use some of that large S to kind of move things in their direction as they launch. Obviously they've tried to move it to a lower price point, which doesn't sound like its been succesful, but I think that exclusives and a lot of those other things will hopefully sweeten the pot.
Leo: Well and that's you know, because Tidal is “artist owned' I mean, it's owned by Jay Z who spent $66 million to acquire it, the impression that they gave whether true or not was that the other artists would have a stake in this as well. And really what it was is a statement by these musicians anyway that they're not thrilled with technology. Like they said very specifically, music is about art not technology. Which I think may be underestimates the importance of delivery systems and listeners.
Andy: I think it's about the pays per plays that they get through all the streaming services and knowing that they can't convince billions of consumers worldwide to suddenly want to buy physical media or even downloads anymore and so they just gotta figure out a way to, a way to convert from wheels to skis if that makes any sense.
Leo: Is there a shot?
Andy: I don't know, if they can really... if they're just doing a streaming service that only has their content it just seems like it's... I don't understand how they succeed with this. If Alex says this is a ploy to we're going to have our own company, and someone's going to be smart enough a year from now to buy us and get all of our content, that seems like a smart move that I hadn't considered before. But part of their press is all about how we're not just going to be a place where you can get our albums, we're also going to have exclusive content and with this kind of top drawer people, people with audiences that are this big, I don't know. Maybe they can make a go of it, but if it really is just we want a version of Spotify in which we get more money per play, I just don't see how this is going to work. But then again I'm not a business reporter.
Alex: I think that one of the arguments could be is that if you look at just the sales of these artists, that number is probably larger, significantly larger than $56 million a year. I mean there's definitely some opportunities if they decided for instance to, right now, all of their content's tied up with copyright holders and, typically... sometimes it's not them. But if they started publishing directly to this service it means that they would have a service and they would have a platform on which these artists can now make all the money. They don't, these are not artists that need the record companies any more. And this may be what they're doing is actually separating from the record companies, or this maybe the first step of them separating from the record companies completely. We got the money, we've got the studios, we've got everything, the PR, we've got the names. We don't really need to have the record companies involved at all, so this may be less about Beats and more about artists starting to take over their own, building a collective.
Leo: That's going to be tough.
Andy: Like united artists in the film industry back in the 20s.
Leo: Yeah look how well that went for Charlie Chaplin and Mary...
Andy: Mary Pickford. It'd be interesting to see like what happens, who will they sign will be the first person to sign outside of this initial event and how big do you have to be before they will allow you into this collective and what happens when they're slicing the pie up 100 ways?
Leo: That's to me more important. These guys have made it, they don't need anything. What about young and upcoming artists? Where do they go? Is this going to be the home for them? Here's what Madonna had to say, can you get, are you getting my audio? Because this was the general tenor of this, of the conversation.
Madonna: It's about putting art back into the forefront, it's about bringing humanity back from being an artist, not technology, art. Human art. They're the carrier, we're the artist.
Leo: So it really almost feels like an anti-technology point of view here. It's about humans, not technology, it's about art, not technology. They're obviously very much stung by what's happened to their business, to the record industry. But I don't want to blame them for that, or technology. I blame the record labels.
Adam: How is it not about technology? How is it about humans and art? I don't see what the difference is, if it's just exclusives, if it's business deals, who gives a darn?
Leo: Well, and I would point out that you can be a human and play your music in your bedroom but without technology nobody's going to hear it, so good luck Madonna.
Alex: I mean they are using the technology to make it more human I guess, but...
Adam: But how? That's just it, they're just saying that.
Alex: But they have control. I think that the big thing is that they're... I think that there's an opportunity, and I don't know if this is what they're thinking but from my vantage point, having been in this business, the artists have very little control, the artists make a very small percentage of the total revenue, what they can do with this is we're not printing CDs any more, you don't need the factories, you don't need all the other things that are there, radio doesn't really mean as much to them as it would and people would still play their stuff on the radio even without PR. I think that if you look at Peter Gabriel is making as much money now as he was before and we barely hear about him any more, but he's selling directly. He makes every penny.
Leo: Well that's what these people should... they shouldn't be going “I hate technology.” They should be saying I hate record labels. It's about us, independently reaching out to our fans and eliminating the middle man, not the... technology enables that!
Alex: And I think they look, when they're thinking of technology they're thinking of... saying they hate the record labels is a, you know that's war.
Leo: Well this is, that would be a declaration.
Alex: Right, well but I think the thing is that they have, I think the argument that could be happening there is that we're going to all get together, we're going to do exclusives together. That synergy between the handful of groups that are there will attract others that are high profile, but as you bring in and start to nurture, a lot of them already have record, a lot of those guys have their own little record labels that they've worked on and so on and so forth. As you start to curate more people into it then the other advantage for these first guys is that they're going to make money a little bit of a percentage on all the newbies coming in.
Adam: So they want to be their own... they just want to take over as record labels is what you're saying.
Alex: That very well may be the case. I mean I think that they may be saying it softly because they're kind of sneaking up on that horse but I think that, I think that that may be what they're doing here. This is maybe less of a play like, because one of the things Jay Z said is I don't have to be, everyone doesn't have to lose for me to win. And he's right, if that's the model he's going after. If he's going after they're going to be a publisher essentially, for their own music...
Leo: That would be cool.
Alex: Yeah, because the thing is is that very few of them could do it right by themselves. There is an added audience factor by having this kind of wide range of wide group and you know Jay Z is a pretty good business person so I think that he's probably figured that kind of stuff out, and at $56 million of a purchase to get it off the ground, it's not... these guys are going to... that group can generate an enormous amount of revenue and so I think it by itself it could make sense. I still think that it also positions them, if they chose to, if it wasn't super succesful to sell that whole exclusivity to Apple if it wanted to, because I think Apple's probably going to be pretty aggressive once it starts going down this path. They've proven that they're willing to spend $3 billion on headphones, you know and a service. The service I think was more important than the headphones.
Leo: I wish they had been more clear, but you know if they were saying as the top artists in the industry, we're going to eliminate the record labels because technology enables us to distribute directly to the audience and have the audience pay us directly, I think everybody... see one of the things, people are saying. These guys are brands, they have the clout to do this, at least initially. But what they really need to do is to embrace technology and say that's what's making it possible for us to go beyond this futile system called the record industry that's been going on for 50 years, it's time to eliminate that.
Alex: And then what they'll do is create another futile system. That's how this is all going to...
Leo: And that's why I'm curious, where are the independent artists? The up and coming artists? What role does that person have in this? By the way Bob Lefsetz who writes the Lefsetz letter which is the kind of the crusty old curmudgeon of the music industry is completely skeptical and he sees this as an anti-piracy move. Well actually he sees it as a money thing, well of course it is. But he says they don't have a chance against the deep pockets of Spotify and Apple. Or incumbents like Deezer which is big outside the US. He says first and foremost you've got to pay for a title and therefore it's dead on arrival. Just like Apple's new music service because people are cheap. (laughs) They, now I don't think this is true but this is what Lefsetz says, they love their money more than their favorite artist, never forget it. And the kind of person who pledges devotion to Tidal artists is the same kind of person who's home alone broke waiting for parents to put cash in their debit card. Now if Tidal had a free tier, oh but wait it doesn't, it can't afford to lose that much money, it's not in it for the long haul. He says in fact, no one in music has been about the long haul since the turn of the century. Cash in.
Alex: Well I think that the issue is that these artists decided they were going to hold up either do it exclusively on their own for a certain period of time or hold up the content altogether and this is the only place that you can get it? They have a fan base that's large enough and be willing just to, and especially if the fan base knows that that money is now going back to the artist directly and they're getting a higher percentage, most of their fans would prefer to buy it from there anyway.
Leo: I agree. That would be...
Alex: That's why I think that that's...
Alex: I think that, I don't... I think that it's a little bit of a cynical view of that because I do think people are willing to pay for music, I mean I don't think that, I think we got to a point because we were paying too much. I think this was a huge conversation in the 90s, a lot of us were saying $16 is too much for a CD when it costs less to produce the CD than it costs to produce the cassette. And so the thing is that we all knew it was nuts in the early 90s, that this wasn't going to... and people just got tired of being screwed. And so, which is what a CD and a DVD is. It's a public screwing, and so the thing is that that's the... anyway, I think that people, that's why they wanted to get it free because they were tired of what was being served to them.
Adam: So let's take a different look at this. The service I use is Ardio, mostly because I like the client better than others I've seen, but one of the things that I've found interesting about how I end up listening to music is that it's really quite different. That most of the stuff that I've heard on Ardio, I wouldn't buy. I like listening to it, but it was like listening to it in sort of the radio context, and being exposed to the vast vast titles count, it's not even on the site, like Ardio I think they have 30,000 tracks or something like that. Means that I'm all the less likely to want to buy music because it feels like there's so much out there that I could want, whereas back in the day when the pre-internet, you didn't know that there were you know, 30,000 tracks out there that you could get in quite the same way. It was too hard to find that. And so we're being presented with all these services, this kind of infinity of music, and it's almost got to be a subscription thing because you just can't do that any other way and then once you get into the subscription thing you get into how do you attract people? And so I think not having a free approach to get people in the door is going to be really tough.
Alex: But there's 15 million people who bought into, according to Spotify's last quarterly or whatever, there's 15 million people that have bought into Spotify paying $10 a month, and I think... I have my own subscription, my wife has her subscription and the thing is is that my whole thing is that I just like the convenience of being able to download my stuff.
Leo: Why don't you have one subscription that you share, why do you have separate subscriptions?
Alex: I don't know, it's how I've got it set up.
Leo: It's something that drives me crazy about Google Music, because Google Music is attached to your Google account, you can't share it.
Adam: Well with music it's an interesting one though, because you may not have exactly the same kinds of tastes.
Leo: Yeah but with Spotify who cares?
Alex: Well, I don't want my... my wife would start changing my playlists.
Leo: Well no, there should be playlists that say “This is Alex's” and playlists that say “This is Carlita's” what do you need two accounts for?
Alex: You know, I told her to set one up and I didn't, and I didn't want to share.
Alex: I was willing to pay ten more dollars a month to not have to share.
Leo: It drives me crazy because I want to share my Google Music which I like, that's the one I use and I can't because we'd be giving away the keys to my Google account.
Alex: But the funny thing is is that I'm perfectly fine with it, I make a playlist and I'll share it with Carlita and then she opens it up on hers and boom she's able to listen to it and I don't, again, I wouldn't want to have someone kind of digging through it all, so I have like 200 playlists in there.
Leo: Lefsetz says “Why don't these artists go home and write compelling music?”
Adam: And get off my lawn.
Leo: He says “Great artists are lousy businessmen. There are exceptions but they are rare.” And that is really true, that's really why the music industry is so futile. Because the artists just go “I dunno man, let me just make my music and I'll sign that.” And so, we'll see but I don't feel like Jay Z or anybody else is going to be able to drive Tidal to success, particularly since Spotify is already dominant, and Pandora's already dominant and Apple's coming on strong with Beats.
Alex: But I think as a boutique they could make a lot of money. When we say boutique, they could still make hundreds of millions of dollars, just with the group that they already have, so they don't necessarily need, if they play that right, and Jay Z is a pretty good business person and if they play the angle that they have right, even if they didn't grow a lot, it doesn't mean that they wouldn't necessarily make money. I think that it may not ever be anything that would go up against Spotify or Beats or whatever that's going to be called, but I think that it doesn't mean that it wouldn't necessarily be profitable so I think that they may be looking at it slightly differently than trying to be you know, world domination. It may be this boutique where you get all these cool things and it's all... it's a very small vertical but that vertical with those artists is still worth probably half a billion dollars a year.
Leo: Let's switch gears a little bit, what should Apple do with Beats? We're getting close I think sometime this year, iOS 8.4 will come out right? That will be the Beats version of iOS. What's going to make Beats steal, which they have to do to succeed right? Or maybe not. Steal clients, steal customers from Spotify and Pandora. Do they have to do that?
Alex: I think they'll do exclusives, I think that will be one of the big things that they'll do.
Leo: This might make it tough now.
Alex: This makes it, this takes out a group of people that they probably...
Leo: By the way Taylor Swift is on Tidal by the way, as a signatory, I found out. Chatroom told me. So if Tidal sweeps up all the exclusives, that's going to put Apple in a tough position.
Alex: Unless they buy them.
Leo: Yeah maybe they will.
Alex: But I think it does make it more difficult, I think that Jay Z may have... the reason that I think that the timing is interesting for Tidal as opposed to being a purchase option for Apple is that it happened right after Beats, I believe he bought Tidal right after the Beats acquisition. Like it was very very close, like someone was doing the math. He said he'd been working on it for a long time but it seemed like it moved very quickly right around that period of time. So... but yeah, it could be very profitable for everyone involved, that whole group. It would be very profitable if Apple bought them for $2 billion after them all just signing something. You know, which is... that could be a possibility as well.
Andy: Yeah, I think that all Apple needs to do to make Beats succeed is to have it pre-installed on every iOS device that they ship, which is going to happen. We'd be belittle how big a feature the idea of not having to pick something is to most consumers and, which is not to say Beats is going to be better than Spotify or anything else, but if you have something that out of the box this has a subscription music service that you will almost certainly try out at least for the first 30 days, so long as it's not terrible and so long as there isn't a huge signature feature that Spotify can challenge it with it I think that that's going to just by default sign up most, excuse me not most, but a big enough chunk of iOS users to make this a significant thing for them.
Alex: I mean, Google Maps is better than Apple Maps but 60 some percent of the users still use Apple Maps because it's what's built into the system.
Adam: Right, they just don't know. I have to say I've been kind of thinking about how I use Ardio. There are a few niggles about it here and there but basically it's one of those situations where it's a very simple solution in a lot of ways. You're not looking for bells and whistles for most people, so I think Andy's right. That it's all about getting out there in front of people and being really really easy to try.
Leo: You know the more I think about it Alex, the more I think you're right. That this whole Tidal thing is a play to get bought. And to create a bidding war between Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. Get it up to half a billion and then get out.
Alex: And you know, and that would basically be Jay Z leveraging $56 million into a billion dollars, probably of his value and that's not a bad business move. You know, he'll do a 20 x in a year.
Andy: That's a great pitch I mean until, you know someone has to tell Tim Cook that hey you know, Madonna could be dry humping a table on the Apple Campus.
Leo: I... is it too late, or is it so easy to switch that, see I feel some loyalty to the system that I'm using. I used to use Spotify and I switched to Google Music. So for those of you like Adam, you use Ardio and Alex you use Spotify, is it too late?
Alex: For me it would be, importing my playlist would be important, so finding some way that you're going to be able to keep my playlists...
Leo: Well that's probably easy right?
Alex: Yeah I don't think that's going to be too hard because I think it's kind of web based at the moment, but I think that it would be... getting my playlist, knowing that that's going to be easy to get into Beats would be important. That would be a significant thing that would keep me from switching over.
Leo: That would be the only friction really. How about you Adam?
Adam: Well see I'm different. I don't actually make any playlists at all, and what I do is I mark things as favorites and then I can play you know, what do they call it, Adam FM so it plays just my entire, it randomizes from my entire set of favorites, and so that actually would be very hard to replicate. Because I would have to just go through the list and say oh look here's this random artist who I've never heard of before whose music I liked when I followed the little trail of “is like so and so” and then go through and like them again or whatever on Beats, however they do that.
Leo: That's a good point.
Adam: So that would be tough, and I've actually thought about that, if there's any way to export that concept of... you know, what does my collection of music look like?
Leo: If you're smart Ardio, you should immediatley start pushing the idea that you curate and customize based on your listening habits, the more you listen the better we get. Something like that.
Leo: Pandora has also, a similar thing because if you've created Pandora stations, I have dozens, you probably won't be able to import those.
Adam: Well those are often, I mean unless the Pandora stations that you've created are...
Leo: They're artist focused, I know.
Adam: Well right that's just it. So it's like oh this is the Jay Z station or something.
Leo: Yeah but you curate it with thumbs up thumbs down over a period of time.
Adam: Well and see here's an interesting question, the thumbs up thumbs down stuff is actually pretty subtle and like I had to look into this in Ardio recently because what Ardio does is that thumbs up says play me more like this, thumbs down says never play this particular song again. Which seems to me to be wrong. Because if I put this on a favorites, I'm just not feeling like listening to that song right now, or in that context, thumbs down is totally the wrong thing to do, turns out skip is the right thing to do there. But this is stuff that you don't know, and operating system what I would like to have is like to be able to curate as you say, a station where I could say yeah it is my Jay Z station. It wouldn't be because I actually have no idea who Jay Z is. But you know, I like the Jay Z song but look I said I favorited this album but this one song, not feeling it today so you know don't play stuff like this today. But reset it maybe for my next session, or something like that. There's a lot of possibilities there that become tricky to work through appropriately for different people.
Leo: Here's an interesting blog post, Sam Mateo in our chatroom passed this around from the music industry blog. Says that really Tidal, the idea is to become Netflix for music. It's a next generation label. In fact, and he makes a good point, if you created Tidal originals as Netflix has created Netflix originals from these big artists, or signing new artists, if a few of them became hot, man you could have something of value there. Tidal is creating an aspirational premium streaming brand.
Adam: It's Tidal edition. It's going to be gold.
Leo: It wants to be the HBO of streaming music. It's an exclusive first streaming release window for artists.
Adam: That would be great, because then I could ignore them entirely.
Leo: Yeah those artists I don't really, yeah...
Adam: Just don't need that. Then again, I don't need... now that I find Netflix watching TV shows on Netflix years later to be great too.
Leo: 80% of subscription fees go back to rights owners. But doubling the subscription price only means artists are getting paid in double cent increments rather than single cents. That's a good point, this is a good blog, I don't know who writes this. But the music industry blog, with a counter example. I feel, I actually feel like there's a chance for Beats because first of all it's going to be on all my devices, right? My iDevices, and I'm kind of thinking hey maybe I should try it out. So maybe there's a shot, I mean there will be a window of opportunity wouldn't there be?
Adam: But aren't you using Android phones? What if it's not on the phone or it's not on the car or...
Leo: If Apple makes it only iOS you're going to have a problem, right?
Adam: Right. And you know, let's face it. Will they do that?
Leo: Well there is a Beats Android app now.
Adam: Yeah, precisely. There is now, but would they keep that going? I mean they certainly don't seem to have been pushing the Windows development side of their other apps as much.
Leo: Right. Interesting.
Alex: I think it will be interesting to see how they use curation, and see what curation means to them as they start to move that forward, because I think that there's still a real, I think there's an opportunity to somehow find a way to remunerate the curators. You know, to make sure that they’re still getting some small percentage.
Adam: They could call them jockeys or something, there’s a word with jockey in it that I’m sure we could use.
Alex: The thing is, there are definitely taste-makers but what we need to do is make sure they’re still making a little bit of money based on the fact that they’re building a following. If you look at, and I think I said this before in another show, but take a guy like Mike Halloran from 91X in San Diego, when I was a music director, all of us just watched what he did. And the thing is, I’d listen to any playlist he built because it’d be the perfect, slightly to the alternative side but still slightly mainstream, playlists. And he’s had 25 or 30 years to develop that skill. But the thing is, he’s on the air and other people on the air think of all these deejays that people like to listen to, that might have some control over their programing, which only happens once in a while.
Leo: Well Apple did hire a BBC radio deejay right? So they have that idea?
Alex: Yes, so finding the right people in the right verticals, a great person that can curate jazz. And they probably go after guys in serious – because they have a lot more control as well, over those things so you could listen to that deejay’s choices. I think that could be interesting, but I do think that they’re able to open it further up, look at ways to do a grass roots – there are individuals that people would start following, much like their following people on YouTube or Meerkat or whatever that are Meerkat for the moment
Leo: Iain Thompson writes for the Register says that Zane Lowe is exactly what you want, which is a deejay who discovers new stuff. People trust his curation and he was very encouraged to buy the fact that Apple’s hired Zane Lowe, the BBC Radio 1 deejay. That’s the kind of person you need. If you had a dozen of them.
Alex: If you remember Rock Over London is like Bram Deen, you know.
Andy: Not just that, but the idea that if they really just leveraged their song catalog simply as raw material that could be expressed in any way that anybody with any sort of agenda can then promote, that’s I think the key to success. The first time I listed to Ardio in a long time, I realized that the cast members of the TV show Archer had created an audio station in which the actors themselves and the characters they portray are recommending songs and introducing them on Ardio, and that brought me into Ardio. That’s not something that probably would have been conceived when they were setting up Spotify. Just like curation, like Alex: says, if you have someone that you absolutely trust, if they’re someone whose taste I really, really like and they tweet out a link to a book, I’m not necessarily buying that book but I’m definitely going to check out why he or she is recommending it. The only real limitation though is if the actual creators are only making a penny per play, how much money is left for someone who is assisting in the curation. This works great for YouTube where you can just create a YouTube channel of just game play video and just creating immense amount of content every single day but that’s because all that stuff is supported by an outside source of money, namely the adverting. So it’s a complex metric.
Adam: So here’s an interesting thought, that anyone could be a “playlist jockey” as it were, and it would be in essence, a competitive situation where the better your playlists were, the more people subscribed to them the more you’d earn and the sooner you’d rise in the rankings. So in essence it’s a crowdsourcing thing. So you could find the people that thought like you.
Alex: Well basically if you just took 5% of the total pot and then split it among the people making playlists, basically the person who’s got the highest percentage of those playlists is making the highest percent. You know, whatever percentage of the total plays are being played in a playlist, they’re getting that percentage. The easy math.
Adam: It doesn’t necessarily need to be one of those things where you can a mint at this. It may just be, let’s face it, you might just have this as your hobby. You might just really like doing it after your day job, you know, working on NoSQL databases.
Leo: There are people who, for free, stream Meerkat all the time, just trying to get to be #2 on that Meerkat list. No money in it at all.
Andy: They just want to have the title as I was the last person to stream something on Meerkat for lack of operational funds.
Leo: Oh no they have plenty of money I think. They just got 12 million right? So it’s sad to say they’ll be around for a while. I shouldn’t say that, I actually like Meerkat.
Andy: If they’re smart they’re not buying a lot of ping pongs tables or air hockey tables.
Leo: They are smart! We interviewed Ben Rubin who started Meerkat on triangulation of money and I was impressed by how smart he was. Meerkat was an experiment so it’s kind of interesting story, they had created before they had created a company called Yivo which did live streaming and it wasn’t getting traction so they decided as a group, they laid off people so they had more runway and they decided as a group were just going to try different things to see what works. They said we’re going to experiment to see what works in this space. And it just so happens the first experiment was Meerkat and it did hit. It may have only hit temporarily but that doesn’t matter.
Adam: Well, let’s face it, the temporary part may because Twitter cut them off at the knees.
Leo: Well, he said and I agree with him, it’s not great, but not having the knowledge graph doesn’t mean, you can still tweet you can still do all of that stuff, and he also said, and by the way, there’s also Facebook and Google, there’s lots of other places you can use social media, and Periscope, is that what you mean maybe? Just releasing Periscope might have cut them off at the knees.
Adam: Well, no the social graph and then also releasing Periscope. I think that only Twitter knows if they released Periscope to kill Meerkat specifically, I think they were parallel but at the same time they’re cutting off the social graph right before they’re releasing Periscope does feel a little underhanded.
Alex: And it does feel like, Twitter was kind of moving at its own pace and Meerkat was suddenly getting ahead of that pace that they were trying to work out with Periscope so they kind of wanted to slow them down before they lost positive control of the space. That’s what it felt like. And I think that the problem with all of these, or the problem with Meerkat specifically, is you’ve already got Twitter reportedly spending $100 million on Periscope and then you have Facebook that could build this in a heartbeat, to do this and so it’s just hard to know what would be really unique other than being able to build a following very quickly. I actually think that I looked at it like, I didn’t know how successful it’d be mostly because I was being successful at it. But I wasn’t doing very much, you know, I was in Rwanda and I was putting it on the dashboard of my car and I was looking for a bunch of other people to come up but it didn’t happen.
Leo: Was it last week or two weeks ago, the Apple event, three weeks ago, that we were all Meerkating each other. Funny how time flies. You saw the article in Boy Genius Report talking about how it’s the tech journalists that made Meerkat a hit and they’re really is nothing there, nobody uses it, Meerkat – there was a great headline, I’ve got to find it. There it is, Meerkat is dying and it’s taking US tech journalism with it.
Leo: Written obviously by a guy outside the US. A tech journalist outside the US!
Andy: I don’t know that that’s exactly fair, our job is sometimes to, I would agree if it were someone saying –
Leo: Were not picking winners.
Andy: If you’re saying that, “Oh my goodness, Meerkat is going to be disruptive because Apple doesn’t have a streaming service they’re doomed!”, as opposed to, “Hey, this is kind of cool, hey, look it’s really easy, hey, I’m in a car with this app.”
Leo: I don’t feel like our job is to pick winners, I feel like it’s just something to talk about.
Adam: We actually wrote about Meerkat in Tidbits one week and then almost immediately Periscope comes out and as Josh Centers who is doing the articles said that Periscope’s big win in some ways was that it launches on the day that there’s that horrible explosion in New York City so he’s actually seeing footage of this before any news crews are on the ground. That’s sort of showing the promise of some of these kinds of things.
Andy: It showed the promise and also the failure because I was watching Mashable’s stream and the entire stream for 20 minutes was, “Ok I’m on the roof of my building and I see a big plume of smoke and I see a lot of news crews,” and of course you can see the chat from other people and the person thats “onsite” so to speak says, “I don’t know whether it was an explosion or a fire,” and the person in chat says, “Well CNN is reporting this.” So there’s a difference between being there with a working camera and an ability to do reporting. They’re both valuable but let’s not say that this is killing actual journalism, it’s a tool for journalism, you still have to have journalism too.
Adam: I think there also is one of those things that this is the speeding up of the journalistic world, and in fact that when Josh told me about it, I did a Google news search to find out what the hell he was talking about. I’m like the explosion in New York City? Is this like terrorist? And I found one Google News article about it about 8 hits down, that’s how little it was covered at that point in time. And yet he was seeing video of that. So in fact Mashable was coming in late when the stuff that he was seeing really was right on spot. I was actually shocked who had downloaded this app already, because it had just been released that day. So not that this will solve everything, but you want to talk about the Rodney King videos, they’re going to turn up on Periscope. They’re just going to hit that record button and stream it live.
Andy: I’m glad it’s out there, I just hope were smart enough as a society to understand that here is live video stream without any reporting behind it, as opposed to not, this was somebody to deep fry a turkey and please start canceling flights to places because someone didn’t understand that you shouldn’t do this on a roof deck.
Leo: Well because you can’t save Meerkat’s or Perisocpe’s after 24 hours.
Adam: Both of them can be saved to your local device.
Leo: Right. So I guess you could repost it although the saving in Meerkat, maybe they fixed it, but it was all wonky.
Andy: God help them if they have to save every single thing.
Leo: No, I think that was a smart move, why waste money on storing it and forwarding it? I think it appealed to a certain category of people, like this Snapchat stuff does, that’s ephemeral so I’m more willing to do stuff like look at my refrigerator.
Alex: Well also for me, when I was experimenting with it, I do a lot of production and every time I decide I want to do a live streaming, in my head I’m thinking about the recording and the quality, and with Meerkat I’m like I’m just going to turn my phone on and I’m just going to experience that moment on it, and I kind of like the fact that I could record, and with Periscope I haven’t even turned it on yet because I know I’ll have to record and I have to figure out what I’m going to do with the recording and if I even want it.
Adam: I tried Periscope on the day that it came out also, Cornell’s Dragon Day where the architecture students build a huge dragon and parade it around campus and one of things I was struck by was how hard it was because it wasn’t one of those events where things are happening when you think they will, and you think, ok something could happen here we’re all just standing here. But you don’t want to stop it because as soon as I do that’s when something will start happening. So it wasn’t exciting until like 4 minutes later when the dragon started moving.
Leo: Very interesting.
Andy: It’s a very interesting thing, this thing called editing. Compressing time.
Leo: Let’s see anything else? Let’s talk about Comcast. NBC Universal, also known as Kabletown, we even mentioned this, was apparently not in the rumored part of the deal that Apple was making with television providers, the FCC, of course, is examining Comcast’s Time Warner acquisition and there was a filing from a coalition called Stop Mega Comcast that said “Comcast may be withholding affiliated NBC Universal Content in an effort to thwart of entry of potential new video competitors citing that Wall Street report that said Apple wasn’t talking to NBC because of a “falling out’ between Apple and NBC’s parent company Comcast. So Comcast responds saying hey, Apple never even approached us, it’s not that were not talking to them, it’s that they never asked.
Adam: You know I’ve called Comcast before, and it takes so long, you have to go through the Philippians, you know.
Leo: That’s what happened, Apple called them but the call just got lost somewhere.
Adam: “I am helping you.”
Leo: I know! You know who knows what's really –
Alex: The easiest way to get some adoption in a lot of these things especially for Apple that may not trust Comcast to be able to be quiet, to not be able to see it as a competition, so Comcast in general might keep Apple from talking to NBC just because they don’t want to let the cat out of the bad. But I also think the typical way to get, and Apple has done this in the past, is you get early adopters and then you beat the late adopters with the early adopters.
Leo: Right, right. And hadn’t you been reporting for years that Apple had been talking first with Comcast and then with Time Warner, so Apple has been really trying to get them to come to the table, maybe not about this specifically but maybe they just threw up their hands.
Alex: I think originally Apple had been trying to get cable just to pass through to the Apple TV or to some device and I think that that was shot down pretty quickly so I think that now they’re doing something different and they may have decided that Comcast isn’t worth talking to.
Andy: And also there’s an argument that maybe Apple isn’t worth Comcast or Verizon or any of these other cable provider’s time if the rumor that Apple is going to open up the platform to third party apps is true, why bother, why not just simply use that as a way to leverage your FiOS customers, guess what now you can get the Apple TV FiOS app and get every single channel you subscribe to so long as you’re on your home network and well even give you access to limited remote viewing directly from FiOS. That’s what the app on the phone does and it works very, very well.
Alex: Well, I think that the other danger on that is that, of course FiOS may work and the Comcast may work and also every network is going to build their own app that’s going to go on this thing, and the question is do they actually need the cable company anymore and that could happen pretty quickly if the apps open up.
Leo: It’s happening already I think.
Adam: Yeah, when you’ve got Twirl TV, who needs more?
Andy: Yeah Roku is fasting because there are the things you can get officially through the channel store including third party apps but it is an open platform so long as you have a web page that says here is the link to how to get this device and then match it onto your Roku device. There are just channels for the weirdest stuff, 1.2 million religious channels. There is a channel for just westerns in which nobody wears a hat, because someone has a collection of westerns where nobody wears a hat, and hey let’s have a Roku channel for it. So it’s demented but it’s part of the wonderful experience that is having a TV that works the way you want it to.
Leo: You’re right, there are literally thousands of Roku channels, there is, I think it’s gone now, I referred to a third party website that had a list of them and it was well over 2000 channels.
Andy: Yeah, and every time I felt myself being pulled back to my Apple TV for certain reasons, I totally missed their podcast app, because man, that is exactly the way to implement that on a TV set. Then I remembered, oh maybe there’s an app like that, just not in the Roku store and within 20 minutes I found an app that was just as good as the Apple TV version, and there’s another reason to switch back to Apple TV just went away.
Leo: I have to say I’m not happy about TiVo which has clobbered podcasters in their latest update and we’re getting emails, a lot of you watch on TiVo, I didn’t know you could do that, I’m a Roamio Pro user myself, and I always thought it was a little interesting that TiVo allowed you to create season passes to podcasts and watch or listen, I guess watch them. But they’ve turned that off and now they have a new way of doing things that apparently has broken that entirely, so if you’re watching and thought where’d it go, we know, it wasn’t us. TiVo did something and we’re talking to them trying to convince them to go back. I admit it, I’m a flawed human being, I want to be the first to say this, I tried to wait until April 10th, a mere 11 days from now to buy the new MacBook, couldn’t do it. Ended up buying a 13” MacBook Pro, is there something wrong with me?
Andy: Yeah, I think you’re capable of counting to one, and when you counted the number of ports, you thought, you know what, I think I’d much rather have the new processor and the new touch pad.
Leo: You know what, that’s exactly it, I felt like the 13” is of course heavier and thicker, but it also is going to be faster. I was concerned less about ports, but that’s an issue, but more about speed.
Andy: It’s for a very kind of buyer. There are people for whom that extra slimmed down size is really the thing they want most of all, and the way they use a mobile Mac is such that the mobility processor isn’t an issue and the lack of ports isn’t an issue. It isn’t a bulk Mac by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I like the new MacBook because it is an addition to the Mac line as opposed to a replacement for anything that is already there.
Leo: And yet they did improve the MacBook Pro and I think I ended up putting in an i7 and 16 gigs of RAM, I just thought if I’m not going with the slow thin light guy, I’ll just go the other way completely.
Andy: Yeah, that’s a very sweet package now, it was always a really, really nice MacBook with a couple of misgivings but a really nice premium machine, but now, oh boy when I got my hands on it for the first time, I had to remind myself Andy, you just bought a new MacBook last winter, you haven’t even spilled anything into the keyboard and no this isn’t a reason to spill something into the keyboard of this perfectly good MacBook that you own.
Leo: Well this is a mid-2012 so I held off 3 years. I know, I should probably hold off for 5 because it’s perfectly good and it’s a 15, and some idiot had to put comic book key caps on the thing and I can’t figure out how to use it. That idiot being me.
Andy: That’s a good reason.
Leo: It’s all messed up, it’s got punisher where the “P” should be, and stuff like that. I could just peel them off.
Andy: I’d just throw that one away, just buy two more.
Leo: Anyway, it’s supposed to come out later this week, I’ll have it for the next MacBreak. We’ll do a little review and I’m actually interested in the new trackpad.
Andy: Have you tried it yet?
Andy: You haven’t tried it? Oh my God it is amazing.
Leo: So you went over to the Apple store just to see?
Andy: Yeah, I made a special trip out just to check out the trackpad and I checked it out, then I went back home and I had a conversation with some people I know at Apple that was one of these really stupid conversations I often have to have to make sure I understand something, where I had to ask 4 times in a row, there is not a mechanical button underneath this track pad? But there isn’t even some foam between the glass and the body so I can feel a sense of – no – so if I were to unplug this thing, spend down the battery completely and then press down I would not feel any mechanical sensation? And you know that’s absolutely correct, and the only reason I asked those questions I wasn’t willing to believe there was nothing in that trackpad. You’re going to like it. Book 90 minutes of your day to just pressing it down. Wow, I can feel a half press, now I can feel a whole press, cancel lunch I got to do this more.
Adam: So Andy, I got a question for you, which actions are force click actions and why? How do they distinguish between them, what is the logical difference between a force click action and a right click action, or a control click action?
Andy: For what they got right now, the only stuff I’ve seen that actually works is a fast forward button that says no, go really fast forward as opposed to –
Adam: There’s stuff like look-up in dictionary and there stuff like click on a dress and – I’m thinking from a usability standpoint, what distinguishes those from a control click, that’s what I don’t understand yet. I haven’t tried one personally yet either.
Andy: It’s a brand new language and people are going to figure out how to express that language. I can think of different ways that I would use it versus on a watch or a multi touch display. I would love to see if this is a feature of the next iPhone, I would love to see iOS have the ability to have sort of a contextual click meaning that if I simply rest my finger on the screen on top of a control, I’ll get a little bubble that says here’s what this button does and will understand that I haven’t actually pressed it down yet. If the answer is we down know yet, the mere fact that this thing managed to have done away the clicky button which I really, really liked while not leaving behind the thing I liked about having a clicky button which was actually having tactile feedback when I pressed something and also having knowledge that if I tapped my finger on the glass idly or accidently now means now my mouse pointer has moved and I deleted a paragraph I didn’t mean to delete. I was very, very worried when Mark wrote his spoiler about what the next MacBook was going to be like because I could definitely see Apple making that kind of choice and saying you know what we can make it microscopically thinner if we make this a completely multi-touch surface, and yes it’s a bad decision and it’ll make this thing more awful but oh my god that fraction of millimeter. Now I know they know that would be legitimately an improvement on what was before, but that would not be a good experience for me and really this is all about me and finding out they actually replaced it with something that gives me what I like but also gives me a cool experience is really exciting.
Adam: So can they put this thing in the iPhone?
Andy: There’s been discussion, they’ve put it inside the watch, where they can figure that out, whether they can do that on the iPhone, I don’t have really great sources on this, I’ve been talking to a couple of people who academically feel as though getting it to work on a track pad without a screen on it is nominally easy, getting it to work on a multi touch screen display the size of a watch is also not terribly difficult, but getting it to work on something the size of a phone or the size of an iPad would be a larger engineering problem.
Leo: Let’s take a break and come back with your picks of the week. Actually I meant to say I’m a flawed human being, I bought a Galaxy S6 edge but that’s a story for another day.
Andy: You are a creature of desire.
Adam: Instant gratification.
Leo: There’s a bumper sticker I wish I had that says I’m just a great big ball of wants and needs, and that’s king of a true story. No I have to because I have to talk about it and tell you whether you should buy it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Our show today brought to you by Trunk Club, actually this has been a great thing for me. Maybe you’ve noticed a little bit more of an upgrade in the ol’ Leo than you’ve seen in the past? I do not like to shop. Now clearly I like to shop, I like to buy gadgets, I like to buy laptops, I like to buy tools, I don’t like to shop and I think I’m not alone in this, for clothes, right guys? No one wants to shop for clothes and that’s why we look so crappy. We don’t look as good as we could because we don’t want to shop, we want to wear t-shirt and jeans, thank you very much, but maybe it’s time to upgrade how you look. People do judge you by the way you dress and you know what I got is a way that’s really easy that requires no shopping! It’s called Trunk Club, you’re busy I know you want to look your best, nobody wants to spend time at the mall but Trunk Club makes it easy. You get your own personal stylist, mine is Robin you can’t have her, she’s mine. Actually she probably does have other clients but I don’t want to hear about it. Robin and I spent about a half hour on the phone, and I told her about myself, that I’m a little preppy I like the button downs, kind of chunky, she didn’t mock me, she didn’t laugh at me, she asked me what kind of brands I liked. She told me that wife beater’s not a brand, ok, but once we worked that out, she then put up a webpage with a lot of suggestions, kind of like a hot or not thing. Guys you’re going to love this, you go I like that, don’t like that, I like that. Then she puts together a trunk, this is so cool, my trunk arrived beautifully tied together with string, shirts sweater, shoes, really nice stuff. Here’s the beautiful part, I have spent nothing at this point, zero, I have 10 days to look at what's in the trunk, keep what I like, return the rest, I’ve paid nothing for postage nothing for the stylist, then when it arrives back they see what I keep and they charge me only for that. Trunk Club, it’s free to join, shipping is free, returns are free, there’s no minimum purchase and I like this, there’s no subscription. You only get a trunk when you say, I want another trunk. So I got an email from Robin, “I saw what you liked, I saw what you didn’t like, let me know when you’d like another trunk, we’ll refine this as we go.” I love this. I know you don’t like to shop, but I know there’s something a little bit nice about looking a little bit sharper. Trunkclub.com/TWiT, meet your stylist, she’s waiting for you, and get your first trunk of fabulous clothes shipped for free. Let me repeat this, free to join, shipping and returns are free, no minimum purchase, no subscription, you only pay for what you keep. Trunkclub.com/TWiT Great clothes, I thank robin for upgrading my image just a little teeny weeny bit. Let’s get some picks, Adam Engst, what have you got for us?
Adam: This is going to be a little unusual but here you go. This is a website I found called Webscorer.com and Webscorer is focused on races of any sort, and lately I’ve been getting more and more into timing races so it’s not just a website to handle registrations. So if you’re doing a fundraising 5k or something like that they also have an app that runs on iOS and Android and it integrates perfectly with the registration site, you can download all your entrants, shoot the gun off and then start timing finishers as they come in. it’s a really, really nicely designed system. The company is doing a lot of stuff to improve it and speaking as someone who's done a ton of these things over the years I’m just amazed at how flexible it is to set up your races, say go and say we’re going to charge one rate for people under 18 and one rate for people over 18 and the fee is going to go up 10 days beforehand and all this sort of stuff they can handle it, so it’s a really well designed website and app, I recommend it highly for anyone who's looking to time an event of any sort.
Leo: Wow, Webscorer pro, its Webscorer.com
Adam: Yep, the app is free, you can sign up for the site for free if you do want to pay for the pro version to get some more features, and then if you use it for registration you pay a buck plus PayPal fees per registrant which is actually lower than almost every other registration site out there. So it’s a good site, good app, you get results immediately so again for those people who are running races, you don’t want to wait a week for them to type it all in.
Leo: I had no idea there was so much competition for this type of field.
Adam: Oh, there's lots.
Leo: I had no idea. Well of course I don’t spend too much time running. Are you a runner? Is that your sport of choice?
Adam: Oh yeah, I do all that stuff.
Leo: awesome. Alex Lindsay from Pittsburgh, PA.
Alex: So I had a request, someone asked about what I use for forwarding slides for presentations and a lot of people go to RadioShack and buy those little infrared things only work about half the time, and so I thought I’d show the industrial version of that. I have this new system I'm trying to experiment with. So this is the company here this is DSAN and as you can see they make speakers timers and laser pointers.
Leo: Is this coming from you? Is this screen shot?
Alex: This is coming from me, yes.
Leo: Are you telestrating?
Alex: I am.
Leo: God you’re such a show off. This is coming over Skype, I mean I can’t believe this is better than our screen shots.
Alex: So anyway if you look at it now, the cue lights are what I'm actually using.
Leo: If you want to, use Meerkat and just give the whole thing up.
Alex: Exactly. So anyway but the cool thing about it is if you look at it actually physically here, this is a pair –
Leo: Oh my God, you’re just trying to shove Cram Cam 3000, the future –
Alex: These are new cams, so this is the controller, now this will go about 300 feet without really any trouble at all and its very simple to use, you can even get one that doesn’t have a back to really protect speakers from themselves. Now the problem with it is you don’t get a lot of control so instead of having them go directly to the computer you actually go to this. So this here is if you look at this, what you have is a device that can be master or slave, that means it could follow another one, so you could actually put these together so you could run a bunch of computers at one time, you could give it sound so you could turn the sound up like this you can see it, watch this, I don’t know you can here that or not through my thing, but basically what that’s designed for is if you want someone to go forward you can actually have them do that without having the person who's upstage actually run their own presentation, which is very useful and of course you can turn this light up and down, so you can see that its USB and you can actually connect this to two computers at one time. The reason that that’s useful is obviously what happens a lot of times in presentations is that you have a primary and back up presentation that’s running to stage so that you can switch back and forth if one of them crashes. So anyway that’s it. Do you like my little system Leo?
Leo: what are you doing with it?
Leo: What are you doing there?
Alex: This is how I – oh what am I doing to do that?
Leo: Well I'm impressed because first of all it’s on Skype, and it looks like you have better quality than we have in studio. So that’s number one, how much bandwidth are you throwing at it.
Alex: So my office has about 300 down and 100 up, its FiOS.
Leo: So that is interesting, so Skype must have a limit to how much it will use? But it’s using enough to give us beautiful images.
Alex: Now the other thing is this is the new Skype TX box.
Alex: So this is straight SDI into a Skype TX one that I bought.
Leo: So this is a company that Microsoft acquired that was going this kind of dedicated Skype hardware, what's it called?
Alex: It’s called cat and mouse.
Leo: we looked at it and it was really expense.
Alex: It is. It is but what my frustration was, I was tired of trying to emulate a webcam you know like this constant process of trying to trick Skype into knowing what it was at, and I have too many clients and too many other things that wanted to use Skype that I needed to have a solution for it. What I have here is something that will work for classes so this is what –
Leo: See I wouldn’t even need this studio if I had this at the house.
Alex: You should see the rest of it, next week when I'm on ill have the other camera systems set up, it just came in the mail, and I’ll be able to show the system cause it’s a science project right now, I have to rewire it. Sam squires came out and built it and I tore half of it apart to get this Skype working.
Leo: So what type of switchers are you using.
Alex: I’ve got a couple different switchers so I’ve got a 2me and a television studio and so one of them is just letting me go back and forth between these sources and the other one is once I get to this source I have another one that is controlled by some control pick.
Leo: This is like a cheesy transition at least we can do that.
Adam: Star wipe.
Alex: Yeah these are 3 different sources I can bring in.
Leo: I can’t believe how good this is you know how hard it was o, Yeah you can’t do that can you?
Alex: No I can it can’t do that, not yet but now that I’ve seen it. Oh there we go.
Leo: Yeah you can do that can you? We spent so much money and so much time and so much effort you remember this, shooting screens because there was no.
Alex: I remember it.
Leo: There was no way so we actually had a camera operator with an expensive camera pointed at a screen and you had to be very careful about pulling the focus in and out cause it would moray like crazy, you remember that. No you’re like I just push a button here. And you could telestrate.
Alex: Yeah well, yeah. And I can do zoom in on the screens I just haven’t set it up.
Leo: I'm just going home right now and I'm buying whatever you have and I'm going home. We’re going to close the studio and I'm just going to go home.
Andy: be ready for a package to arrive from Petaluma, it’s going to be as sign about this big, reading TWiT east. Eastern
Leo: I am so impressed that is really amazing what you’re doing there that’s really great,
Alex: Were just having some fun
Leo: I'm just teasing, you know its funny cause we’ve spent a lot of time last week talking about the freedom of information act that the Wall Street. Journal got from the FTC and the smoking gun about the Google monopoly and one of the things, it really was hit piece it turns out by Rupert Murdoch’s wall Street journal, one of the things it says is Google got a free pass from the FTC cause they visited the White House 230 times during the Obama administration and then googles response was yeah it was Alex: Lindsay, that wasn’t us. It was all the hangouts after, and it was all you! How many times did you visit the White House?
Alex: 20 or 30 over that period of time.
Leo: Were you lobbying the president during that?
Alex: No I didn’t talk to the president ever.
Leo: So you can take 30 of that number cause it was Alex: I had to laugh because it was like well no we had crews come in after the state of the union because they were doing a Google hangout and of course a crew is it wrong to say this, is it a secret.
Alex: No, no its not, I'm allowed to talk about it.
Leo: So a crew was pixel corps and Alex, doing what he just did in Pittsburgh, in DC.
Alex: Yes well not this complicated, this is a little bit of a –
Leo: Your set up is superior to the one you brought to the white house?
Alex: Well it has different sets of features so we actually –
Leo: I guess president Obama isn’t really a telestrator.
Alex: Well not yet.
Leo: It’d be cool though. What are you using for a telestrator?
Alex: Just the Wacom Tablet.
Leo: Oh that’s neat, I didn’t know you could do that.
Alex: Yeah, well it’s a bunch of movie magic once we have the Wacom Tablet to make it do that.
Leo: Oh you showed me this, this was something you –
Alex: It’s been refined over time.
Leo: So impressive.
Alex: But I started building this whole thing because I was trying to figure out how to each classes in Rwanda from Petaluma and now it’s gotten to the point I was trying to explain to someone, they wanted me to speak at a convention, and I was like, no I can really do this from any office, and they were like well we really want you to be there, and I'm like no its really better from my office, I have more tools and it’ll be more interesting.
Leo: And it looks just like you’re here, it’s better than if you were here.
Alex: So anyway.
Leo: That’s nice.
Alex: This is was I do in my spare time.
Leo: And I'm being a little facetious because you’ve already shown me a bunch of this stuff. It just always blows me away how good you look.
Alex: Why thank you.
Lea Yeah my god, my god man you’re beautiful.
Alex: It’s just a –
Leo: What camera?
Alex: That is the big advantage, oh this is a fx105 this is the cannon fs105 with and sdi out, but it’s a regular camera.
Leo: So it’s a camcorder.
Alex: Yeah it’s a camcorder, it’s a little bigger than a regular camcorder.
Leo: It’s a $300 camcorder.
Alex: Well you know.
Leo: I'm just saying. It’s a little more than your USB Logitech.
Alex: Yes, although sometimes I don’t know if it looks that much better, I mean I think I like the look of the Cisco.
Leo: Alex, I can see the dead fly on the wall behind you it looks better trust me.
Alex: It’s actually coffee so you see.
Alex: Yeah I dropped a cup it’s all over the wall so Ill clean that up.
Leo: You’ve had me actually rubbing our screen because I thought it was on our screen, it was so real, like what is that schmutz on the screen? So thank you Alex: Lindsay pixel corp. see you can do that can you!
Alex: No not yet.
Leo: Spend a million dollars you'd be able to do that
Alex: That is awesome, I'm going to get a tricastor and do that for every transition
Leo: Andy: Ihnatko, the crane cam 300 is put to shame, I'm sorry
Andy: Well I need to up my game so here's my little cohost sock-so what do we have to show people today sock-so? See I had this plan that if I wanted to show something from the iPad I could just put the monitor right here and I could just rotate cram cam to face it, but then I thought that I had an HDMI cable already plugged in but I didn’t and I can’t find one, but what I will do is the only thing I did that’s fancy shmancy, is that I actually
Leo: And his audio goes out.
Andy: – I’ve got audio – with the awful
Leo: Ok don’t touch anything Andy, it’s falling apart as we speak. I'm just going to go home now.
Andy: I know I have ordered a replacement cable. Maybe I should just move to Pittsburgh. Anyway so here is a fun little activity, free from Autodesk, called Tinkerplay, and what it is for is actually designing cool 3D action figures in the virtual reality space of where you are, you get this sort of kit of parts, it is like tinker toys, that you can just select from and snap together, so there's a torso, now I can look for – it’s hard to do upside down, but now you can look for a head so let's put a head on there, oops come on.
Leo: Come on, you’re being mean!
Andy: There we go.
Leo: Oh what an exciting demo this is. Ok.
Andy: You can put parts together, and then snap them together and I’ve got a head on an arm there, and you can rotate it around and see what it looks like from different angles and maybe this should go over here, or this maybe needs another head up top here.
Leo: Kids don’t need Lego any more do they?
Andy: You can pose it the way you like, you can make it look more like a robot or more like a knight or more like whatever it is you want it to look like, and the other cool thing about it is that once you have the model, you can play with it just as a model thing, but when you’re done playing with it as a model, you can then send it to a 3D printer and have them print this toy. So as a free thing that’s just a cool thing to throw parts together, there are other models that are kind of more complicated there, and they got all kinds of different parts, like you can make really, really weird creatures, it’s a fun thing to play with especially for free, and the idea that you can then go to your ups store or because your mom or your dad still can’t justify the $1500 they spent on the thing maker that they surprised their spouse with, they can print out this thing right in their own living room. So it’s a lot of fun, its works on just about anything, it works on iPhones, iPads, and they have figured out how to do actual Windows Phone support, so they have a few dollars for that there.
Leo: That’s nice, that’s really cool.
Andy: Yeah it’s a fun toy, it was little difficult to figure out how to use it before I figured out that the first thing that you have to do is make sure that you know you can just put things just about anywhere there are balls and sockets and that’s how these things work.
Leo: Can you then send it to a 3D printer and create one.
Andy: Yeah exactly so it'll not only send it to a 3D printer but it will also organize the print intelligently so that if you really do want this to be a color part, all of the parts with the same color are grouped together, they're also grouped into a nice tight little bundle so the print head is not skidding all over the plate in order to make it work so it’s just a very, very tight confined place, it might be the most expensive action figure you’ve ever assembled but like I say it’s fun to play with
Leo: That really is neat. Yeah Alex, do you have anything to compete with that?
Leo: Yes of course you do but that’s nice of you to pretend.
Alex: Can they import new models, can someone build models for this, is it a platform or is it just the stuff that they give you?
Andy: This actually works with a larger system that Autodesk bought so there is actually a, I'm trying to see if I still have that tab open when I was rereading about this, there is a company that they bought that , oh here it is, Tinkercad , that is sort of a desktop version of this that can be used to build just about anything, so this will work with Tinkercad projects, I don’t think it works the other way around, I don t thing you can design a 3D part and then import it into this, this is actually like an action figure construction set, but again, robots, knight, you can make wings, you got swords, you can even rip an arm tell this creature who's boss, make sure that.
Alex: And it doesn’t have to be an Autodesk 3D printer, it can be any 3D printer, it’s just going to export?
Andy: It just exports standard files, so anything that there's a regular STL file will work with this.
Alex: Right, very cool. My son will go crazy so I might have to get that.
Andy: Even upside-down it’s a good time waster in that you just like to pose things and do CSI-like recreations, like ok here's how the body fell.
Alex: Well it’s interesting because it’s not only connecting everything but its building an inverse schematic chain.
Andy: Right. So it takes a few minutes to figure out how what you're doing interacts with the model that you're making, but it’s just fun to interact with a 3D sculpture way, in such a tactile way, that’s one of the great things about tablets for 3D, with the ability to simply actually I wish there were a dent right here and just kind of put your finger right there, and dent it, maybe that’s another thing well be able to use force touch with in the near future.
Adam: Little rubber pallets.
Leo: Tell us the name again so I can download it real quick. How much does it cost?
Andy: It is absolutely free, and it’s called tinker toy and you can get it for pretty much any mobile device that you have.
Leo: Tinker toy.
Andy: It’s on the app store, if you got 123dapp.com and then /Tinkerplay.
Leo: Tinkerplay, I see.
Leo: You know that were Squarespace fans here, but you also may know that I'm spending a little bit of money for TWiT.tv, somewhere in between the idea of a Squarespace site or WordPress site and a quarter of a million dollar custom build site, there must be something. Have you guys heard about this, I just saw an ad for it and I don’t know anything about it. It’s called The Grid. It’s an artificial intelligence designed website builder. So you don’t actually worry about templates or anything, you just upload stuff, and then it does color correction, it lays it out if its video it does something different with it, it does face detection and smart crops your stuff, this is a crazy idea and I just looked into the people behind it, and it’s some pretty serious folks. So I'm just curious what you think of this.
Alex: Can I feed it 5000 Tidbits articles.
Leo: You know I'm wondering, you spent a lot of time creating Tidbits.
Alex: And I need a new website like you would not believe.
Leo: I know and it’s really expensive to do.
Alex: And designers, don’t get me started.
Leo: this isn’t out yet, it’s coming out later in the spring but you can sign up to be an early beta tester. I'm just curious if anyone knows anything about it? Some pretty heavy duty folks.
Alex: With space suit helmets on.
Leo: And they're in space, they're cosmonauts.
Andy: We know they're serious if they have space suit helmets on.
Leo: Maybe I’ll sign up and give you some feedback on it, I was just curious if you guys knew about it the cofounders, guy did Google AdSense, the other founder is the creator of grid style sheets and a partner of D4 which is a big interactive agency. It’s very intriguing anyway. Hearing a little bit of buzz about this. It’s called thegrid.io Artificial intelligence. I don’t think we could use this for TWiT and you probably couldn’t use if for Tidbits.
Adam: Problem is you'd be handing your entire company over to an AI.
Leo: What could possibly go wrong? Shut up. Here's the one thing I really do like about his, the date that you upload is put on GitHub and access it and download it and take it back. They have an export feature that’s pretty cleaver. But you're right, this is kind of for websites right? If all of a sudden you see Leo:, oh this is cool if you sign up early you get a keychain with and NFC tag and all you have to do is say here just swipe my keychain, and it’ll go right to your website.
Adam: Give them your keys in other words.
Leo: Ahh, I believe Alex is signing up for it right now. It’s an intriguing idea
Leo: Why should we have to design it, why shouldn’t it just –
Alex: I have a feeling for someone who just wants to throw some ideas up and doesn’t have a specific idea of how it’s going to work
Leo: Well that’s me in a nutshell. In a nutshell. Well ladies and gentleman I think we are done for the day but I want to thank our panel especially Adam Engst, he's so busy all the time doing Tidbits I don’t know how he finds time to do anything, Tidbits which is literally the longest running Apple news apply fan site
Adam: Well let's not get ahead of ourselves, two more weeks, 25 years comes in two more weeks.
Leo: Oh my god, you know were celebrating our 10th anniversary, I can't imagine 25 years doing this.
Adam: Yeah neither can I honestly.
Leo: It’s pretty impressive.
Adam: I think the brain damage set in several decades ago so luckily I don’t remember.
Leo: Well I read it every single week, it’s just a religious, although I haven’t read the review yet of the book of jobs.
Adam: That just came out this morning.
Leo: Oh I have a good excuse.
Adam: Right, a lot of people still read Tidbits in email weekly.
Leo: That’s how I read it.
Adam: I mean, we have the website, but if you get the email, the emails just shows up on Tuesday morning and you read it.
Leo: And its text, I love text, who needs html, I can read text. So good stuff, good stuff. Tidbits.com for your weekly fix and it’s free although you should become a Tidbits member and support them
Adam: And if you do that you get to read Joe Kissell’s take control of security for Mac users which we are serializing chapter by chapter every week.
Leo: Good stuff. Alex Lindsay, he is the master of video, you can learn a lot from Alex at pixelcorps.com but the best thing to do is follow him on Twitter @Alexlindsay cause you tweet don’t you Alex, whenever you're about to do anything public?
Alex: I do, I tweet. Meerkat, I’ll probably start playing with Periscope, so people can see random stuff and I'm starting to get into spherical video for goggles.
Alex: Yeah so we’ve been doing some experiments in that are so I’ll probably show some behind the sense of all that.
Leo: I'm very intrigued by all that.
Alex: Hold on we’ve got something.
Leo: What have you got an Oculus.
Adam: I've got an Oculus the other day.
Leo: So this is what I've been asking and see, this what I've been asking and nobody’s been talking about this, Facebook at the fa conference spent an hour showing optical illusions, all I want to know is what do I need to do VR, that’s it huh?
Alex: Well if you want to capture the VR.
Leo: What I want you to do is offer you the chance to sit on the panel so you can look around and be a part of the show.
Alex: Yeah I can talk to you about that.
Leo: I would love to do a VR version of MacBreak, remember we did the first headphone, Dolby headphone version of it so you could here in space where everybody was.
Alex: Should we do that next week?
Leo: Well could you work with the gear VR.
Leo: Nobody has the Oculus Rift.
Alex: I've got to figure out if –
Leo: So what is that like 6 disposable cameras taped together, what is that.
Alex: This is 6 Go Pros.
Leo: Oh did you make that yourself or does somebody sell that.
Alex: Someone sells a version of it, this one was printed, not by me.
Leo: Wait a minute did you say printed?
Alex: Yeah it’s printed.
Leo: Oh my god Alex: Lindsay lives in the future, he's just a temporary visitor.
Alex: Yeah it wasn’t me.
Leo: Printed!? Do you have a replicator?
Alex: We have lots of 3D printers but I didn’t print that one. We’re getting a form one which is the stereography so it'll be a little stronger.
Leo: So I would love to, first of all I was curious how big it was, so it’s not that if –
Alex: It can't be because the problem is the lenses can't be too far away.
Leo: Yeah it can't be too big or you couldn’t do VR porn, but what I was thinking is you could put next it to me.
Alex: You'd probably want it to be a little further away for a variety of technical reasons, but we can.
Leo: But you could be in the show, you wouldn’t have to come site here, I mean people do come thank you for being here, email for tickets at TWiT.tv but then we could have a version that people could look on their gear VR, but how many VR’s are out there, probably not that many.
Alex: Probably not that many but you can get them at Best Buy.
Leo: Samsung should subsidize this to sell that damn thing.
Alex: Make it cardboard compatible.
Leo: Oh would it work with cardboard?
Alex: Might be, I’d have to think about it but my daughter calls the gear VR the thing that makes you go to another place that you can't see your feet. She’s like can I wear the things that make you go to another world where you can't see your feet.
Leo: Your daughter is so lucky she’s growing up in a world that is so different from the one that you and I had.
Alex: They only get 10 minutes in the evening to play with it because I don’t know what it’ll do to their eyesight.
Leo: Do they end up ever? Cause I'm about to. Well I would love to do that, I think we could do that. There would be an audience of 100, I men it wouldn’t be a lot of people but it’d be kind of cool.
Alex: Let me think about it
Leo: Well think about it, we can talk off line. You called me daft Leo, that’s right. Thank you for being here Alex we appreciate it. Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun Times, he lives in the past, buts it’s a good place when you're an Ihnatko.
Andy: That’s ok I don’t have the magic ball of cameras but I get by.
Adam: You’ve got pixels in the background.
Andy: I could only afford Nintendo 64 grade graphics for my background, sorry Alex!
Leo: You guys are great, it’s always fun doing this show, as somebody who’s just in the chatroom just realized we spent 2 hours and we haven’t talked about the Apple watch.
Adam: Yes excellent.
Leo: Nice job, well believe me in about 3 weeks that’s all were going to be talking about so we might as well enjoy this.
Adam: We’re all going to be sitting here like this on the show.
Leo: Sorry I can't talk now, I'm Apple watching.
Andy: That’d be great because once were doing the show like this it doesn’t matter if the audio gets out of sync with video it’s like touch cargo. As a matter of face if we could just record a 6 loop like this and another 6 second loop like this.
Adam: Well the probably is going to be getting the right angle, like I can’t get it right.
Leo: Ladies and gentlemen we do this show 11am pacific 2pm eastern 18:00 UTC every Tuesday at the TWiT brick house, if you care to visit email tickets@TWiT.tv we’d love to see you, its always fun to have studio audience. It’s funny there's like 100 people here when I got here, a class form Sonoma state or Santa Rosa Junior College SRGC and the minute I got here they laughed, they ran so they could have learned something from Alex Lindsay next time stick around ok. Meanwhile you must get back to work because guess what, break time is over!