Tech News Weekly Episode 215 Transcript
Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.
Mikah Sargent (00:00:00):
Hello and happy almost new year. I am Mikah Sargent and Jason Howell and I have put together the best interviews of the year for Tech News Weekly. We have got a lot to talk about, including anybody remember lawyer cat. How about that whole Peloton issue with its treadmills or finding a job with TikTok and quite a number of interesting Amazon surveillance products. It's all of that. And so much more in our best OFS episode for the year. Stay tuned
Podcasts you love from people you trust. This is TWiT.
Jason Howell (00:00:54):
This is Tech News Weekly episode 215 recorded December 9th for Thursday, December 30th, 2021. This episode Tech News Weekly is brought to you by Imperfect Foods. Imperfect Foods is catching the food that's falling through the cracks of our food system by sourcing quirky yet delicious foods. Right now imperfect foods is offering our listeners 20% off your first four orders. When you go to imperfect foods.com and use promo code TNW, and by express VPN express VPN is an app that reroutes your internet connection through their secure servers. So your is P can't see the sites you visit for three extra months free with a one year package, go to express vpn.com/tnw. And by Melissa, the us postal service processes more than 98,000 address changes daily is your customer contact data up to date, try Melissa's APIs and the developer portal. It's easy to log on, sign up and start playing in the API sandbox. 24 7 get started today with 1000 records, clean for free at melissa.com/twit.
Mikah Sargent (00:02:00):
Hello, and welcome to Tech News Weekly, the show where every week we talk to and about the people making and breaking the tech news. And this time we're talking about talking about the people making and breaking the tech news. <Laugh> I am one of your hosts, Micah Sergeant.
Jason Howell (00:02:15):
I'm the other guy, Jason Howell, trying to figure this out. Okay. We're talking about talking about them. Yes. Okay. That works. All right. <Laugh>
Mikah Sargent (00:02:22):
Good. Good, good. This is our best OFS episode. That's what you should understand. This. These are the best interviews that we got to see this year that we got to partake in this year that we got to ask and, and have answers given to us this year. And we've got quite a few lined up for you here. The first one, well, feels a, well little me, sorry. The, the cat, the cat is, are you a cat? Are you a cat? Like a, your honor, I am not a cat, but a lawyer earlier this year did become a cat and wasn't sure how to stop being a cat in the middle of a a courtroom discussion. So check out our interview with Thomas Smith from debugger about just that very thing. All right. Tell me how I can become a cat. So, excuse me, you have to use one of the three wishes granted to you by a genie to become a cat.
Mikah Sargent (00:03:15):
But if you would like to, if you'd like to temporarily appear as a cat there's a filter for that sort of folks, if you had heard about the Texas lawyer who had to tell the judge, I am not a cat. It was, it was all over Twitter. And, and I think in, in many other places, yeah. And reminiscent of the time that the zoom dad had his kids marching into the room behind him then you probably know about this adorable little kitten that seemed to be just incredibly elusive. So who better to who, who better a supers Ruth than the one and only Thomas Smith writing over at debugger to track down this kitten and explain how you too can be part of the fun, but more importantly, how you can turn the, do the daggon thing off after you're done with it. Welcome. Yeah. Back to the show Thomas Smith. So you're happy to have you here with us.
Thomas Smith (00:04:22):
Thanks for having me back. Very happy to be here.
Mikah Sargent (00:04:25):
Yeah. So there was a kitten and folks were looking for it in all sorts of places. And you have this great article kind of walking through your own investigation to track down where in the war old, this kitten came from. So can you tell us a little bit about your journey and where you eventually discovered the, the cat?
Thomas Smith (00:04:50):
Absolutely. Yeah. So, you know, as soon as I saw this trending on Twitter I knew this was something debugger was gonna be all over. This was kind of right in our wheelhouse and sure enough, you know, within maybe an hour or two after this started the trend, I got a message from my editor saying, you know, can you track down what, what was used for this, what happened here? And by the way, we need a draft in an hour. So it became this sort of all hands on deck, the whole team, two different editors. We were all working together. You know, trying to figure out what had created this incredible zoom fail. We figured out that you know, it was some kind of a filter. It wasn't a filter directly in zoom. There are filters in zoom. Our initial suspicion was a separate program called snap camera that lets you put Snapchat filters on your zoom calls.
Thomas Smith (00:05:37):
But we couldn't find the exact ones. So we created a tutorial about how you can become a lawyer cat, but not necessarily the lawyer cat. But at the last minute we found this old post on archive.org, the internet archive pulling up a blog post from I think, 2012 from a chemistry professor that had been on a job interview when he suddenly transformed into the exact same cat that we saw, you know, with lawyer cat. And so we put, put that in the story and said, this is our best guess as to how this happened. We have no idea the story behind it. And here's how you can kind of duplicate the same effect with snap camera. That was really proud. We got a lot of people really excited about it, but, you know, personally, I didn't really wanna stop there.
Thomas Smith (00:06:21):
I wanted to delve into it and figure out exactly what had happened. So I started to do more research. I looked at what technologies the professor had used or potential professor who didn't end up getting the job maybe as a result of becoming a cat <laugh>. And for found out that he had an, an old Dell computer and he had been using a program called Dell webcam central. So maybe at about six o'clock the next morning I went in my office and I, I, one of those people that never throws tech stuff away. So I had, I have a bin in my office. That's literally labeled archived tech and it's just all my old cell phones and laptops and stuff. And I found a Dell Inan laptop from, I think, 2009. Ultimately I found this from 2009 and you know, battery was totally dead.
Thomas Smith (00:07:10):
I had tried to dual boot Linux on it at one point. So I had to, you know, get it plugged into the wall and bypass my, my dual boot at Linux. So ask it back into the original windows seven searched, found that it did have Dell WEBC central pulled it up. I went over to the avatar screen, which is what they called this and sure enough, there, it was, it was one of those sort of amazing moments where I I clicked it and there I was transformed into the exact lawyer cat that we saw in the zoom video.
Mikah Sargent (00:07:38):
<Affirmative> incredible. So this is, yeah, this was very old tech and that then leaves you wondering, was the lawyer using BEC because that's such an old machine that you had to find, was the lawyer using an old machine or did they somehow figure out how to bring this tech onto a more modern machine that, that, that worked for it. And this is, this is also interesting.
Thomas Smith (00:08:06):
Yeah. Well Rachel Matts at CNN, I was also covering the story. Again, we had a lot of great journalistic minds, you know, working together on this. And as I've said in my, my story, I fully expect the Pulitzer committees gonna be calling at some point, but we were all sort of working on this and she took the approach of going directly to the source and in her story that came out yesterday. She actually did an interview with Mr. Panton, the attorney who was affected here. And he said that in that story that he did have an old Dell computer, he had actually driven, I think across Texas to use his assistance computer. And it was likely an old Dell. And what I found in delving into this a bit more is that with really old Dell computers, like my laptop and certain Dell monitors with an integrated webcam this actually serves not only as your webcam software, but also as the driver for the webcam itself.
Thomas Smith (00:09:00):
So if you put this avatar on or you mistakenly, you know, switch it on, it actually seems to apply the effect at the level of the driver. So the fee, the video feed that it's handing off to zoom or to another platform is actually passing through this filter such a, a low level that it's not like you can go into zoom and press a button and switch it off. It, it kind of becomes your webcam feed. So as much as people were saying, oh, you know, why didn't he know how to switch this off? And you know, he must not have known how to use the tech. I think if I was appearing in court and this suddenly happened to me, you know, I wouldn't think, oh gosh, it's my, you know, my ancient webcam integrated into my mom editor, the driver for it has this weird avatar, you know, that's built into its program.
Thomas Smith (00:09:40):
I better go in there and and disable it. And the other thing that I found in in starting to do this more and more, and actually have the, the laptop with I dunno if it'll fit in the screen here, but I've got lawyer cat here. I just leave it open now. And it kind of does that over in my office. But one thing I found is that it's almost impossible to switch the filter back off. There's no clear off button. You have to go into a different menu and then select a different setting in order to switch lawyer cat off once you've enabled it. So it doesn't surprise me that he had it on for so long. It actually surprises me that he only had it on for four. Cause I know it took me probably a solid two minutes to figure out how to switch this thing off.
Mikah Sargent (00:10:22):
Yeah, that's troubling, especially when you're trying to <laugh> have, have a very serious conversation with your lawyer. I wonder how I wonder the age of the assistant that he had to, to go to. Because again, it's, it's just, it's a fascinating thinking about a filter that's that, you know, that long ago had to go to that computer to, to get it set up. And if it was something that got turned on so easily and as you point out difficult to turn off, once it's turned off, which a lot of these modern technologies don't do. But let's talk a little bit about kind of etiquette in general because I do think, and, and I'm curious as you have, have lived through this pandemic as well, if you have seen the etiquette of these, these online calls kind of change change over time, where at first we were all, you know, suit and tie and everything in the shot was perfect.
Mikah Sargent (00:11:25):
And then I don't know about you, but I've seen, you know, colleagues kind of get a little bit more com some of them were comfortable from the get go, but some more of them getting more comfortable as time goes on and displaying little faults in you know, in the, in the ether as it were where there's stuff in the shot and it's not as, as important. Do you think, like, do you think that human empathy is forgiving in this sense where you made the joke about the professor, maybe not getting the role the lawyer and the judge, they, they seemed to, at least at first kind of just roll with the punches. Do you think that that's a normal thing these days?
Thomas Smith (00:12:05):
Yeah. You know, my favorite, one of my favorite parts of the video is where he says, you know, I can just proceed like this. Like, he's, he is ready to testify in court. They're probably under oath as a cat if they need to do that. And I think that, you know, that highlights one of the things that's so great about the video and, and one of the things that makes it so funny is that they just keep going, you know, they're, they're trying to be unfazed by this. And you know, in one of the interviews with the judge who is presiding there, he that, you know, he really had a lot of respect for how everybody involved kind of preserved the dignity of the court, despite the fact that this, this cat had shown up and you know, they didn't just start cracking up or anything.
Thomas Smith (00:12:44):
They just really kind of kept going with it. And I think that highlights that, you know, even if you're in a virtual space, it's about more about the behaviors when you're there. You know, if you're, you're in a physical courtroom, there's nothing about that room that makes it special. It's the way that people behave there. And likewise with a zoom courtroom, you know, people treated the situation with a lot of dignity. Even though it was just such a bizarre thing to have happen. And I think that's, you know, overall reflective the fact that these virtual spaces that we're in are similar to physical in a lot of ways. And that it's more about how we behave when we're there than it is about, you know, whether we're a cat or I don't know what the space looks like. So I think that's interesting, I think also that and, you know, also part of why it was so funny because they were just so completely serious for the whole thing.
Thomas Smith (00:13:32):
But I think, you know, one thing I've noticed is a trend over the course of the pandemic is that in the beginning we saw a lot more you know, backgrounds, virtual backgrounds people applying like beauty filters that would, you know, kind of filter out and straighten up your face. And I've seen that really change a lot. You know, I was one of the people with all of these zoom backgrounds in the beginning, and I would choose different backgrounds depending on the call I was on. And now you can see, I've just got, you know, my room and the background. And I've seen that happen a lot more with people who've moved from kind of trying to create an impression that they're still in an office or, you know, putting the golden gate bridge behind themselves to just being willing to show, you know, what their lives are actually like. And I think people are more tolerant at that. It's a big part of, a lot of people feel more comfortable doing it
Mikah Sargent (00:14:19):
Makes sense. Well, Thomas with, I wanna thank you so much for a doing this research for us, very important work being done. And we appreciate that. We appreciate you sharing it with us. If folks wanna follow you online, where can they go to do that?
Thomas Smith (00:14:36):
Well, you can read both stories at debugger, medium.com and you can always follow me at Tom Smith, 5 85 on Twitter.
Mikah Sargent (00:14:45):
Excellent. Thank you so much. We appreciate having you back. Thank you
Thomas Smith (00:14:48):
For having me always a pleasure.
Jason Howell (00:14:50):
Golden I double oh seven, man. I loved that game back on the Nintendo 64, and I mean, it was a genre defining game when it launched on the 64 back in 1997, here we are nearly not, not quite, but almost 25 years later in Sam Machkovech from ArsTechnica is perhaps more excited about it now than maybe you were back then. I don't know. What do you think Sam more excitement now?
Sam Machkovech (00:15:17):
Well it's an interesting time. Hi everybody. Good to see you all. Hi hello. I what happened is golden and I double oh seven was one of these video games that never came back officially as the old N 64 game. Now bond, video games have been coming out ever since. And that was one of the first big ones it sold. It was the second highest selling N 64 game in the entire world, just beneath Mario cart, which says a lot about how big it was back in the nineties. And then a bunch of other games from other companies came out Nintendo and rare, never made another bond game. And all of the other bond games never quite lived up to it. And this one golden I, which people have kind of clammed for in the remaster and remake world hasn't happened. You know, if you grab the newest PlayStation five or Xbox series X you'll find remakes and re tunings of older games all over the place, but golden and I never got it.
Sam Machkovech (00:16:06):
Turns out Microsoft who bought the company rare years ago, tried to make go old. I oh seven as a sort of HD remaster. And they made it and then they shelved it. They either canceled it or put it away, but somebody went to the trouble of getting the entire N 64 game redone to look better on HDTVs and then just canceled it now, fast forward, 14 years later, or that was back in 2007. And we started hearing teases and started seeing little images and started hearing things that it might be coming back. And sure enough just about maybe 36 hours ago, I got a nudge from a video game, sort of deep throat saying you didn't hear it from me. But certain files appeared and sure enough, I now am in possession of golden. I oh seven as remade for Xbox 360, it gets up to 10 80 P or even actually 4k.
Sam Machkovech (00:17:03):
If you use an emulator, it replays all of the old games identically, but every single thing top to bottom has been touched up to look better than how things looked on the N 64. Your memories of the N 64 are not the same as how it actually looked. It, it doesn't look great. No, it's true, but all of the, but all of the touchups have been done in a really interesting way. And the most interesting thing is like a couple of other remakes. There's a button you can tap at any time to turn the game from old graphics to new and back. So if you think, oh, this remake doesn't look that good, then you can tap a button to see exact how the old graphics look. And if you're watching the video version of this, you'll see a preview where some of the images go back and forth between new and then old.
Sam Machkovech (00:17:42):
That's how it goes in order it's new and then old. And so you'll see all of these touchups to the character's faces to the textures around, but most importantly, it actually runs at a steady frame rate. If you ever played it on N 64 split screen was a big deal on N 64 that there split screen gaming. Just wasn't a thing until the N 64 had four controller boards. So if when four people got together in a dorm or on a couch to play golden eye, the, the game would just slow down. Like if you, if you threw a single grenade and there was an explosion, the game ran it, maybe 12 frames a second. So now that's over with H higher, higher fidelity, everything works. So it's this incredible thing. And it leads to the question that you should probably ask, which is what the heck happened.
Sam Machkovech (00:18:24):
How did this game get lost after 14 years? So, so Sam, I've got a question, okay, what the heck happened? How did this game get lost for 14 years, Sam? You know, I'm glad you asked. I have to stop talking every once in a while. You know, I get excited about this stuff. I know how you roll it's, but here's the thing. So I there's certain viewers who probably have no idea about this game. It's from a certain boomer era. And now you might think, well, who, who gives a crap, but right around 2007, this was still a good time where people who had bought the N 64 might be, you know, getting a new system for their kids. Maybe they're getting the Xbox. So Microsoft owned, rare and rare was the company that made golden eye. They also made a donkey Kong country and killer in instinct and a bunch of other big Nintendo games, but Microsoft acquired rare.
Sam Machkovech (00:19:15):
So that was one kind of juggle was, well, Microsoft has a piece of the gold I pie. Nintendo has another piece of the gold I pie. So then you have to add, well, there's act division act division started releasing double oh seven games. So they had a piece of the double oh seven and pie, and then there was MGM and then the rights holders to bond itself, O E E O M. So they all had a slice of the pie. So what happened was Microsoft just decided let's just make it. And it'll be so good that everyone will say, yes, let's print money and shake hands. And they went and they made a completely finished working game. And then somebody at the negotiating table said, no Phil Spencer who's the chief of Xbox these days has put up public statements simply saying the issue is rights, not game development.
Sam Machkovech (00:20:01):
But that was before this leak. So the idea being the game could have been made, but somebody in the rights holding process held it up. And the rumor has long been that the bond license holders have games have to run in certain ways. Number one, they have to have the current bond, meaning a new go golden. I oh seven can't rewind to Pierce Brosnan. They would have to put Daniel Craig in or someone else. And in fact, we had a golden, I oh seven remake for the Nintendo, we, which was not, it was a completely different game. It had Daniel Craig in it, and it wasn't as good new, not just not because of Daniel Craig, I'm not trying to be a, a bond actor bias <laugh> so there, but there are also other rules about violence, about whether you could fight other heroes and splitscreen wouldn't work because it's all of the heroes fighting each other.
Sam Machkovech (00:20:45):
You could choose which of your favorite bonds and then you and your friends pit each other in that way. So no one ever got official confirmation, but I've heard rumors all over the place about it. The thing is someone leaked, a giant video in, from, from that was filmed in about 2015 that's sort of hinted to this possibly coming out for a anthology of rares called rare replay. Well, it didn't happen, but someone made this mini documentary. That's about 30 minutes about all these different people who worked on golden eye talking about how it got made, how NTEN needed to be convinced how the MGM people needed to be convinced and how it's sold GA like gangbusters. Anyway, it's a fascinating interview. And if you go to archive.org, you'll find this interview there, but he's deleted it. So I guess they're all cool with it, but that was the last big hint.
Sam Machkovech (00:21:30):
And then these files started circulating and I know I've been battling a lot, but the long story short is there was a whole file trading system from the old Xbox 360. This was how people could beta test and then trade each other's files. So if I needed to have a tester get a file, but they needed to do it home. They, they could just use this thing called partner net and get the files. Well, that's how this game leaked. It was on partner net for one hour and then gone. So someone downloaded it during that one hour span in 2007 and sat on it like an egg until this week.
Jason Howell (00:22:02):
Like, so like, so it appeared on there. I'm trying to understand how that suddenly happens for an hour. It sounds like it's probably a mistake then, right? It was actually, I think
Sam Machkovech (00:22:12):
Somebody just decided at a rare, like, we need beta test this, so here I'm gonna put it up. But the thing about that service was you didn't need passwords. You could just get files. It was one of the most insecure beta testing file trading things ever. I mean, 2007 was a different time for InfoSec. So sure. And for that one hour where they're like, okay, grab the file and then I'll cut it off. Other people who weren't supposed to see it. Got it.
Jason Howell (00:22:34):
Well, and what's impressive about that is that was 2007. That, that file you know, kind of leaked out and here we are, you know, how many years later it took this long for this to make it even further than that. So whoever ended up with it either wisely or, or not, I don't know. <Laugh>, I don't know what you could do with that file. It's not like it's not like a, a rare to find no pun intended or rare to find like like physical arcade game that has some value. It's just a file. Eventually it's gonna make its way out. I would imagine. And here we are, if
Sam Machkovech (00:23:08):
You're one, if you're the one, I mean, it's almost like it's own double oh seven movie. You're the one person who grabbed a file that has a lot of value and could unlock certain doors figuratively, or maybe, literally, I don't know, but that was there. You know, if you go to weird nerd chatter sites, particularly the dark areas of four Chan, you'll see people complain and talk about the bartering of these files. Someone actually put out a zip file a month ago with a a hundred character zip zip code password, excuse me, it was a hundred character password. And the leak was, you'll never crack this password. Good luck. And everyone's like, what is going on? It was a very weird chapter in this story that we get to all we all get to ignore now, cuz the files have just leaked. I will not tell you where to find them, but if you read my coverage at ours, Technica, you will see enough hints where you might be able to find the files at a not password protected public site out there on the internet.
Jason Howell (00:24:00):
There's enough details in there that someone could could could actually figure it out if they really wanted to. I mean, and that, and that's actually a good question to ask a little bit about the ethics involved in this. Was it wasn't it wasn't very long ago. I'm trying to remember exactly. I, I forget the details where there was this large cash of like Nintendo rarities that suddenly the giggly, the giggly that's right. And so the, the ethical, you know, Kandra around that being like, okay, this it's great that all of these things that we've heard about for so long are finally out in the public, but what about the person who doesn't want that to be public? Like what, what are the ethics around that? And that, do you stand
Sam Machkovech (00:24:37):
On that question? That's a great question because the, it really, in my opinion, depends on the flavor of what's getting out there. In the case said the giga leak, those were meant to be confidential. Pre-Release kind of things, for example, stuff from one game that wound up in another game. So this was sort of test footage for something and it didn't quite work. And so Nintendo sat on it for years and then paid it forward to another game. That's interesting from a historical perspective, but may not necessarily be the, the same thing. That's that to me is not the same as saying here's a game that got finished and then no one was letting us buy it. Because if someone said, Hey, Sam, here's golden eye and you have to pay extra because MGM wants the rights and Nintendo wants the rights and so on and so forth, I would say, okay, I'm willing to pay that money because this is interesting to me, it's a real well made game.
Sam Machkovech (00:25:27):
By the way, I haven't even talked about what it's like to play. I'm playing it on an emulator on windows 10, it runs swimmingly and I can actually dump the files on. What's known as a debug Xbox 360, which I happen to have one of those which testers and journalists use back in the Ts in early teens. It runs great. And I just play this and I go, I want this, I wanna do Fourplay or local at my house. I wanna be able to play it online through Xbox live and all that stuff. I can't. And so in this case, the ethics of it are, well, I want it really bad and that that's not necessarily a high water bar to high water mark to clear for like why this should happen. But also, yeah, it's not being sold. Like the money is not exchanging.
Sam Machkovech (00:26:07):
It is a certain theft, but at least it's not piracy theft where someone's like selling this as a burnt CD in an alleyway saying, do you want some golden eye, you know, that's, that would be pushing it a little harder on a, on a judicial or court level. So in that respect. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I don't have a good answer to it because my, my golden eye bias is pretty intense. There's actually a game that came out after golden night. It's called perfect dark. It didn't do as well. It was also Nintendo and res made for the N 64, very similar and people think, well, why don't you just play perfect dark? They rereleased that for Xbox 360, it works on Xbox one. It's only 20 bucks, or it's even less. If you get like an anthology package, it has the same sort of split screen and spy, video gaming and blah, blah, blah.
Sam Machkovech (00:26:50):
And the answer you end up with things like, well, I like Bighead cheat mode. I like paintball gun mode. I like odd job as the tiny, tiny guy who runs around in the Multiplay arena. I like the original levels where you were using bond gadgets and bond movie locations to get through. There's just a mystique that go golden. I oh seven has for those very specific things, but it was also just a game of its era. That was unlike anything else. You look at it now. And you're like, well, it's kind of meh, compared to modern shooters. But at the time, the idea that you didn't just rush straight ahead, it killed things and find the final door was very interesting. You had objectives, you had to feel like a spy. You had to use gadgets and it really was compelling. Plus you needed like a thousand dollars computer to play anything comparable at the time compared to a $200 N 64. There was just a lot that it did very early that still in my opinion holds up. And that's, what's been fascinating for me is replaying this on next Xbox 360 emulate and saying, yeah, this is still, this is still pretty good.
Jason Howell (00:27:49):
Yeah. Well, I'm super compelled to check this out someday, maybe I'll put a question mark on that. I would love to play it though at some point, cuz I really was such a huge fan of that game back in the 64. So I'm happy you were able to ride all and share what you discovered. Sam rights for ours Technica. If people don't wanna follow you online work and they find you well
Sam Machkovech (00:28:13):
Head over to at Sam red on the Twitters. But also really if you're not into piracy or of the ethics of it, make you feel sketchy, go to ours, technica.com, look up our golden eye coverage. You get to see a lot of images and video of what could have been on retail. There's a guy out of Spain who found it a couple days before I did and uploaded a really long video of it. It's really, it's very complete. So if you can't play it, it's still you get, you get to experience it. So definitely go check that out. Jason, it's always good to talk to you all at TWI and I'll see you all soon. Sounds
Jason Howell (00:28:42):
Good. Sam, take care of yourself. We'll see you soon. Gonna take a quick break and thank the sponsor of this episode of tech news weekly. And that is imperfect foods. How about a three for one new year's resolution, reduce food waste, save time on grocery shopping and eat more fresh and delicious foods. Think it's too good to be true. Well thank again and try imperfect foods. Here's a cringe worthy stat to start 2022 every year 35% of the food supply goes unsold or uneaten in the us and perfect foods is working to turn this around by sourcing foods that would otherwise fall through the cracks of our food system. So combating climate change, you know, that might feel big. It might feel overwhelming. What could one person possibly do? And actually it's easy and it's delicious. It's a way to make an impact. That's imperfect foods.
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Mikah Sargent (00:31:23):
All right, so you may have heard a thing or two about a company called Peloton. Peloton is a fitness company that makes fitness machines and a lot of people who really love their pelotons love to talk about their pelotons. But there was an issue with a more recent addition to the lineup, a Peloton treadmill and because of some, some problems with the system unfortunately there were deaths and injuries that resulted from the on treadmill and that resulted in a conversation between Peloton and the bureau in charge of, of of safety and trying to recall this device and it got pretty messy. And then Peloton did something else joining us today to talk about that something else. And I think about sort of services and machines and things having pay as yougo subscriptions is the executive director of the rebellion pack. It's Brianna Wu. Welcome to this, to this show for the first time. Welcome back to
Brianna Wu (00:32:41):
It's so good to see you. How are you doing?
Mikah Sargent (00:32:43):
I am hanging in there in fire, California.
Brianna Wu (00:32:46):
I background it's so colorful you.
Mikah Sargent (00:32:48):
Thank you. Thank you.
Brianna Wu (00:32:50):
Yes. I have to admit I'm one of these people that adores they're Peloton. I am part of the cult. You know, they give you a row open a mask. It's a whole initiation ritual. We can't get into that. But I found myself in the middle of this controversy really because I was one of the people that brought it to light. So do you just want me to explain it from the beginning to your listeners? Do you wanna get back to it? How do you wanna tell this story? The,
Mikah Sargent (00:33:19):
That would be great. So yeah. Talk about your experience with it, for sure. And as you said, we'll leave off the robe and the mask but the rest.
Brianna Wu (00:33:25):
Yeah. We'd love to hear, I'll go, I'll go put it on if I need to <laugh> so, so as you said, this situation with the Peloton tread was very, very serious and a, a critique that we had of Peloton red and Peloton in general of it was there. I think it's fair to say a bit of an invasive response to it. They, they weren't really stand up in communicating with people about this, this flaw and to be really clear to your listeners. They agreed to a voluntary recall. I do believe that they're sending people out to tread owners' houses if they don't want a full refund and they're modifying the treadmill to make it safe. A and they're adding a Peloton lock to it, which is a combination code that you have to use to activate it.
Brianna Wu (00:34:16):
So that's kind of in the state of things, Peloton, the former on Facebook really caught on fire on Monday because a woman that owned a tread was writing that she had been completely locked out of her Peloton. She could not use her $4,500 treadmill at all. And what had happened was pelo had patched her treadmill without her permission to lock her out and said, Hey, you don't currently have a subscription. So even though you've had this ability to, you know, use your $4,500 treadmill as just a treadmill, we are going to lock you out of that from now on and not let you do that, but good news. We're gonna give you three free months of our $40 month service. So you'll get three free months and then to use your $4,500 device, you'll just have to pay us $40 a month. I mean, how does that seem to you, Micah? That seems a little shady personally to me.
Mikah Sargent (00:35:21):
Yeah. And can I get some clarification on the, so please, please, is the, you mentioned that you know, they would come and they would update the software and it would in, you know, do a pin, you'd be able to use a pin to, to turn it on. Is the pin tied to that subscription service? Or can you have that
Brianna Wu (00:35:38):
Independently? So that's actually a very perceptive question because that seems to be the issue at hand that you can enter in your pin only for the live classes, or you can only set that feature up. If you have an active membership, you can not do that. If you don't have an active membership, which I find very sketchy because they had no ethical problem, you know, patching this woman's device without her permission to lock her out. And you know, this is just the Android SDK. So it doesn't really seem like a heavy lift to just you know, put that on both sides of it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> so I had a, a tweet that went fairly viral. I had to tell you it's a wonderful day for a woman to go viral and Reddit and to have all, oh, God comments be positive and supporting her. That happened to me. Wow, amazing. Yes. people really not liking this this situation because it, it looks, I don't want to you know, ascribe motivation to Peloton, but it certainly looks like they're using the death of a child to basically charge you to use your own device. I mean, does that make sense, Steve? That's
Mikah Sargent (00:36:54):
Exactly what it feels once you clarified that point. That's exactly what it feels like. It's say it sounds like you're saying that in order to have the ultimate safety, you need to subscribe to the service,
Brianna Wu (00:37:06):
Not a good look, right. So I'm gonna actually break some news today on, on your show. This has not been reported. I wanna kind of tell you the blow by of the drama about how Peloton was forced to address this this week. So this story started blowing up on Monday after, you know, I had a tweet that went fairly viral about it. I do believe business insider was the first journalistic organization to look into it and to write a worry, they, Micah, they flat out asked Peloton, will you commit to sometime in the future making it so people can use the, just run feature even without a subscription, because what Peloton had done is they'd used this kind of marketing politician language that people just hate where you're not saying anything, that's not true, mm-hmm <affirmative>, but you're crafting it to be deliberately misleading because they're using phrases.
Brianna Wu (00:38:12):
Like at this time you can't use this feature, you know, currently for the time being, you know, making it sound like this feature was gonna come and they were gonna reinstate your ability to use your treadmill, to just run. You had journalists, very good journalists to ask them directly, will you commit to actively letting us use our devices we paid for without a subscription? PE Tom would not comment on this on Monday. They would not comment on this on Tuesday to PC magazine the verge got involved, you know, V media. They did a story. And in late Tuesday night, P PE wrote those reporters to update the story and said, you know what? We will actually answer your question. Now we will commit to changing this in the future to let you do that. So I really wanna give people online credit your pressure on Peloton, your, your frustration and calling this out, I believe is why, you know, we kind of pushed back on this really exploitive model, if that makes sense.
Mikah Sargent (00:39:23):
Absolutely. I, and can, obviously, it's hard to, to read behind the, the, between the lines rather, or, or kind of suss out what's going on here. I am just kind of flabbergasted. What, what is the, what is the benefit? What was the, what do you think the thinking was for Peloton in terms of not just doing this? Why, especially you talked about, you know, not super heavy lifting, given that it's the Android SDK that it is that, you know, someone died and so doing anything you can to try and go to, to help with that would be good. And also the fact that they were facing a recall, what do you think was the thinking for even holding out at all on this? Is this just a company that's that it's culture is, is D I mean, what's going on here, I guess, is, is the question I am asking.
Brianna Wu (00:40:16):
Think that's such a perceptive question, Micah. This is my theory, and this is what a lot of people on Reddit particularly said, I wanna be very clear. This is my speculation. I don't have any evidence of this, but this is what makes sense to me. I think many of us with careers have been in situations where our lawyers have advised us that certain things are legally safest to do right. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. And what happens when you sign the Peloton membership? There's a clause in there that people had read it found that said, you know, if I continue using this treadmill, I indemnify Peloton from legal action. I, I, it agrees to arbitration or it indemnifies them completely. It basically gives them a legal out. So I believe that, you know, if you have no subscription with them, you're not currently in any kind of legal arrangement with Peloton, you've just agreed to use this device.
Brianna Wu (00:41:16):
So I don't think this was software team not implementing this feature. I think what makes sense to me is, you know, it's under a voluntary recall and the lawyers got involved and the lawyers said it would be safest for us. And it would expose us to the least amount of liability if you just locked people out of this entirely, which I have to say, if that is true, it's really gross because if you read their press statement, they're saying, oh, this is, this is for the children. This is for, for safety. And just personally don't find that credible you know, if this was really about safety, they would make adding that to the, just run feature, a development priority.
Mikah Sargent (00:42:02):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, I, I agree a hundred percent. This of course is, is one of the more, I think, egregious examples of a subscription kind of playing against what the, what the market wants, what consumers want. But I wanted to talk to you briefly, given your vast knowledge of kind of of, of the now I can't even think of the word, but the sort of legal side, the, the public policy side of things with companies. So Sonos is one example where at one point Sono speakers, they had set it up to where they weren't going to be supporting the original Sono speakers anymore. And they put in place this policy where the, the speakers ended up getting kind of shut down completely. And they did roll back on that after some public pressure. Another company that I'm familiar with is the wink home hub.
Mikah Sargent (00:42:56):
It was a home hub that had like a SIG B radio in it, and a Z wave radio in it, and all these different things that would let people connect all of their smart home devices. They introduced a subscription after they charged for the bridge originally as the only cost. And then when they introduced a subscription, you know, consumer, we're not happy about it. And now wink is, is all but cap put. And so I'm curious, kind of from your side of things, you know, there's, there's always this undertow of people reminding us time and time again, that we don't own the devices that we have purchased. And I'm just, I'm curious about your thoughts on that when it comes to software versus hardware and these devices that we, we bring into our homes, do you feel more toward the side of things where we own our devices and get to do with them, what we choose, or is there some understanding given that you are a developer as well? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> of that kind of not owning the software side?
Brianna Wu (00:43:56):
Well, I think it, it, it depends. I think generally speaking you know, if you're, if you're providing a service, I, I think Peloton their live classes, I can personally tell you it's more than worth $40 a month to me. Right. I had reconstructive knee surgery this year. It was incredibly helpful for me cuz coming back from that and you know, getting back to, to health. I, I, so I, I don't think anyone is expecting Peloton to provide these classes for free. I do think it's true that compared to other countries, the United States is very lax consumer protections for, and I think that all things being equal, I think we find ourselves owning the things we buy less and less and falling into exploitive pricing models more and more. And Mike is something I would really love to talk to you about with this is the Peloton community's response.
Brianna Wu (00:44:54):
And, and like I said, at the beginning, I I'm a member of this cult. I, I love my Peloton dearly. I use it every day. But if you look at the comments of the community here, it's very similar to it's similar. We both love apple. You know, it's kind similar to the apple community, which will instinctually defend everything the apple does. Yeah. And I've thought so much about this. Why, why is this, that the Peloton community is, is clamoring for Peloton to really push this pricing model I find abusive forward. And, and I think what it is, is, you know, both of us have podcast shows, like you've all, we both run into people that feel like they know us because they listen to us every week. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. Yeah. I, I, I, I think that because you spend so much time interacting with their wonderful instructors, I think some of us feel if you're insulting Peloton, you you're like in insulting our friend, right?
Brianna Wu (00:45:58):
Yeah. And it's not Olivia motto that stayed up late coding this feature, you know, it's the Peloton dev team and the Peloton legal team. And I think it's really important that, you know, if we truly want things like apple, Android, Microsoft Peloton, if we want them to succeed, we need to feel, we need to be able to have space to reasonably criticize decisions that they make. Because if we're not, you know, the question is if people, five years from now are gonna find Peloton, be a good value, cuz $40 a month is a lot of money. Do you know what I mean? Absolutely.
Mikah Sargent (00:46:39):
Yeah. Brianna, that was an incredibly insightful observation there regarding, I mean, cuz yeah, when you, you look at it that way, these instructors that you feel like you have a personal connection to and who you feel are also helping you day in, day out, you feel like it. Yeah. They're on the line that I never, I didn't think about it that way. So it's really nice to have that that look of things. Absolutely. I, I wish we had more time to chat. Unfortunately I am gonna have to say goodbye, but I wanna thank you for joining us today for tech news weekly for the first time. And of course folks can check out your great with the rebellion pack, but if folks wanna follow you online and maybe come across your next viral tweet, where do they go to do so <laugh>
Brianna Wu (00:47:21):
I, I'm mostly active on Twitter. You can follow me there at Brianna w and you gotta let me plug rocket, which has two of your friends on it, including me Simone rush for and Christina Warren. So we're over on relay and we are a barrel full monkeys.
Mikah Sargent (00:47:37):
<Laugh> it is one of the best shows in the podcast ecosystem for sure. Rocket on relay. All right, Brianna. Well, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Yeah. Thanks for having me on. So an interesting story popped up. I think it was just yesterday. I, I saw it fly by about TikTok and some potential uses for it outside of learning, you know, the latest new dance or figuring out, you know, what's replacing the the, the what's it chubby bunny challenge. And this one was kind of not where, not what I expected it to be. So I immediately said, oh boy, I know who we've gotta have on the show today. Joining us, it is my absolute pleasure to say Abrar Alheeti from CNET is here to talk to us about TikTok. Welcome back to the show.
Abrar Alheeti (00:48:29):
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate being your TikTok go-to person <laugh>
Mikah Sargent (00:48:36):
Well, let's, let's kick things off here with kind of an explanation of this new feature that TikTok is trying out before we kind of get into cuz as I, I mentioned to you in inviting you to the show, I think this on its own maybe is not a super in depth story, but it's kind of the, the thoughts surrounding it and the impact of it. So we've gotta start with explaining what's going on, what TikTok is experimenting with before we get into the, the bigger impact here.
Abrar Alheeti (00:49:04):
Absolutely. So TikTok is launching this pilot program called TikTok resumes. And so they, as you said, not on, they want you to pick up the newest dances and, and find out about the latest products that people are talking about, but they want you to find a job. And so they want people to go to TikTok, use a hashtag TikTok resumes and have companies spot them, or find companies that are looking to hire new employees. And what they want you to do is essentially they want you to, you show your personality through these videos. So they wanna, you know, they don't just want you to turn in a resume and not have companies know what you're like or what your interests are or what you're passionate about. They want you to show companies and there is such a wide range of companies here. There's target Shopify, Chipotle Abercrombie and fi I noticed even T TikTok has job postings. And so essentially it's a website that you go to and you can see all these listings, but what you do is you create your TikTok video and then you drop in a link for your TikTok video, which has your elevator pitch. And you just apply to whatever company you wanna apply to ranging from entry level all the way to expert.
Mikah Sargent (00:50:08):
Okay. So see, this is, what's interesting about this because I think when people would hear out this right off the bat there's, there's like there's so much here because we've gotta think about how you've humans by default are just incredibly resistant to change and due to, you know, any level of, of you know, unknown and the fear that comes with that are also resistant to kind of the world changing while they stay the same. And so I think immediately you're gonna have folks going, okay this doesn't make sense. It's not how you do resume is it's not how apply for a job. It's back in my day, this is how we applied. You got one sheet and if you had more than one, it got thrown in the trash and all of that. So I, I find it interesting. You've pointed out there that it's not just that you can, you know, send out your, your TikTok video, your, you know, your resume or your application in that way. But it's companies actually kind going to this portal and saying, we are interested in looking at this. So is it, is it a part in what you've seen? Is it a particular type of company that seems to be into this, or did any of the companies that are on the list kind of surprise you?
Abrar Alheeti (00:51:25):
Yeah. You know, it was such a wide range of, of, of companies. I mean, one of the things that, that I thought was really cool was I saw a listing for an all recipes on camera host and producer. And so it's like, what better way to find if someone's a good fit for that role than to see them in a TikTok video and see what they're like on camera and see how comfortable they are. So when I see roles like that, I'm like, well, that really makes sense for something like this, because you can't be hiccup on that when you turn in, you know, an online resume that's just written and so, you know, I think it's really cool that it really does range from you have retail and then you have all the way up to like, you know, executives at, at various tech companies or you know, like on camera stuff like this, there was listings for like NASCAR and people in sales.
Abrar Alheeti (00:52:09):
I mean, it's stuff that doesn't just relate to, you know, being on camera. But I think, I think when people see what you're like and they see your energy, that becomes a really important indicator because you know, someone could have the skills, but if they don't fit into your company culture here, a lot about company culture you know, you can teach people skills, but you can't teach people how to get along with everyone and how to fit in at the company. So I'm thinking that this is really gonna be helpful for a lot of people and yeah, it can be hard to get over that. Okay. This is weird. Like why would a one minute video be something that I used to determine who to hire, but I think there's, there's a lot of benefit here. So if you can get over that that mental obstacle, I think you can recognize a lot of the potential here. <Affirmative>
Mikah Sargent (00:52:50):
Yeah. And in fact, I a friend of mine was applying recently using kind of more traditional means. And I didn't know that in modern times there are like, you, can you call in for a phone interview for example, and it's like a prerecorded thing where they, they read off the question, then you respond and then the person who's hiring will get the recording of your responses to the different questions that you put in. And so it seems like, you know, this tech is already in some ways, part of the hiring process and this helps in some ways to automate it. I do wonder, and I'm, I'm curious, you know, your take on this there are, especially in the United States, certain laws, regulations, et cetera, around bias and hiring and making sure that you know, certain isms don't play into the hiring practice. Do you think that with TikTok video with you, you know, going in with video, how do you think that impacts or, or plays a role in the concerns that folks might have about hiring?
Abrar Alheeti (00:54:00):
I have been thinking a lot about that because you hear a lot of terrible stories of people, you know, know disqualifying candidates because they have names that sound too ethnic. And so mm-hmm, <affirmative>, this kind of takes that to the next level, cuz it's like, here's what I look like. Do you like, you know, you'd like to think that hopefully people are into that bias, but they are. I mean, that's the reality of it. And so you know, there, that is a really important consideration. And so, you know, I hope that these companies that are taking part in this are more forward thinking and wouldn't let something like that be an obstacle, but I mean, you think about even with, with AI being biased, right? And so mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, we're still trying to overcome that no matter what technology we roll out.
Abrar Alheeti (00:54:43):
And AI is increasingly being used in the recruitment process and in the hiring process and you still see issues there. But then I guess you, you, you look on the, you try to look on the bright side here. Okay. Well, how can we use technology to our advantage and how can we what's the good here? And I think the good here is that you know, you do get to see, I mean, we're all on our phones a lot more often now I, I saw this Glassdoor report that said around almost 80% of millennials use their phones to apply for jobs. And, you know, gen you know, gen X is that 73% of baby boomers are at 57. So like with each generation, just imagine what gen Z is gonna be like, wow. So we're, we're all on our phones anyway. So why not use these technologies to, you know, help C is find people and to help help employers find places where they would like to work. So I'm, I'm really excited to see, I mean, I'm hoping the good Trump's the bad here.
Mikah Sargent (00:55:36):
Right? Right. Absolutely. Now let's so you know, a hypothetical LinkedIn comes out with a tool to let you you know, attach a video to a job application versus TikTok doing this. You, what we've had you on before to talk about TikTok in general. And one of the things that you talk about is authenticity on the platform and how it seems that those videos that feel more authentic, feel more in the moment feel more a connection between you and, you know, the, the person that's on the camera that that's something unique to TikTok or nearly unique to TikTok. Do you think that there is a difference between TikTok doing this versus a company like LinkedIn doing this? Is there, is there something more likely for folks to, you know, want to use TikTok for this versus LinkedIn? Or do you think it's just a generational thing? What are your thoughts on that?
Abrar Alheeti (00:56:40):
Do you remember those memes where it's like, here's my on Facebook, here's my persona on LinkedIn, here's my persona and whatever. So I think about that, you know, I think about the fact that on TikTok, a lot of people aren't as polished, whereas on LinkedIn, we're all our most professional selves. And, you know, we obviously wanna put our best foot forward. So companies see, you know, how good we can be if, if we worked for them, but on TikTok, you get these, these very filtered views into people's lives. And I think you, you really get that there more than anywhere else. So you know, I think the advantage there, it could also be a disadvantage depending on the type of content that you upload, because it's very easy for employers. If your videos are public to see what else you've posted. Okay. Here's your really good resume. What else have you shared on this platform? So I think, you know, it gives a more honest view on what somebody is like versus, you know, the more polished image that a lot of us have on LinkedIn, but I think that can be a huge advantage, I think, especially for companies that are open to people who might not be like cookie cutter, like corporate employees, I think it'll be, it'll be an interesting take, to look at what people are uploading there. Yeah.
Mikah Sargent (00:57:43):
I think if I, if I were to go from the hiring perspective side of things, I'm, you know, interviewing some candidates and I use this as a tool to do so, and I can go and look at their videos and, you know, especially in creative roles and, and you know, whatever role that might be, being able to see the other content that they put out and better understanding a person because of that versus one sheet of paper or one sheet of PDF to actually get a grasp of who this person is and then have that tied to their more authentic, more authentic life is really interesting. I, I'm curious, kind of your thoughts on, on, so it used to be the, the way I, I, a long time ago, before I got into journalism I was very into graphic design and was planning on going into graphic design as a career.
Mikah Sargent (00:58:38):
And so I spent a lot of time sort of, you know, looking all over the internet at graphic design resumes and seeing these beautifully designed resumes and ones that stood out in different ways. And now we've got this new way of doing it with video. So I'm kind of curious your thoughts on the, the, the way to stand out when it comes to all of these other people who are applying for jobs do you kind of feel that video, especially this kind gives you potentially gives you a leg up over the competition?
Abrar Alheeti (00:59:15):
I think one of the really cool things about TikTok is that people you know, will often, even if they're not trying to go viral, they're just posting something that they're really passionate about. Here's this here's something that I made. Here's something that I do. And then it, it gets a lot of attention and then other opportunities come from there. I think there really is huge potential here because, you know, because of the algorithm and because of the ability for everyday people to go viral, oftentimes more than on other platforms, I think this is a really cool way to showcase your talents. There was even, you know, on the FAQ for this TikTok resumes feature, it said, what if I'm not necessarily looking for a job and TikTok said, you know, you should still post something cuz someone, it still might catch somebody's eye. And so I think if you do something that really stands out, if you do something that people connect with.
Abrar Alheeti (01:00:01):
And because of, again, because of the algorithm, it'll often show up on people's pages who it's a creepy algorithm, but it's honestly so spot on, it'll show up in front of the right people, you know, more often than not. And so I think there's just so much potential there that if there is something that you're passionate about, if there is something that you've created that you'd love to show off my per my go to place would be to post it on TikTok because I think it's more likely to catch more eyes. And so it is interesting to see how, you know, I, I, there was this other, within that TikTok resumes hashtag it shows people who have, you know, who have career tips or have their own experiences. And one girl I saw she posted that she'd been posting on TikTok, TikTok reach shop to her. She now works for TikTok and she now has like, wow, collaborations with brands. Like that's just some, she just posted a video and it became this whole thing. And so now she has, you know, like several thousand followers and works for this company. So you really never know where it's gonna take you.
Jason Howell (01:00:57):
Yeah, absolutely gonna take quick break and thank the sponsor of tech news weekly. And that is express VPN. And let's, let's just say I've been to a few coffee shops in my day. And when I go, it always feels weird to just hop onto their wifi and just browse and log into my accounts without having some sort of protection. Now I know most of you're probably thinking, you know, why don't you just use incognito mode? Well, let me tell you something in Cognito mode, doesn't actually hide your activity. It doesn't matter what mode you use or how many times you clear your browsing history on your device. Your internet service provider can still see every single website that you've ever visited. And that's why even when I'm at home, I don't go online without using express VPN. It doesn't matter who ISP is. Your internet service provider in the us can legally sell your information to add companies.
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Jason Howell (01:02:49):
Go there and learn more. And we thank express VPN for their support apple last week unleashed. As we know, I think we talked about it on the show plenty last, last week, an insane amount of new hardware products for consumers to delight in as they usually do with apple products. Last week also happened to be earth week and compared against each other. They kind of highlight a pretty major and very mounting issue for this planet. And joining us to talk all about this is former co-founder and editor-in-chief of OneZero Damon Berez who wrote a fantastic op-ed for the New York times on this topic. Welcome to the show Damon.
Damon Berez (01:03:29):
Hello. Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.
Jason Howell (01:03:31):
Yeah, it's good to have you here. It's good to have some one zero alumni on appreciate you, you taken out time and yeah, so this, this topic, this is an important one, right? Because it's not just, you know, we, we're also used to in the technology world being passionate about technology, we're used to the next thing, the latest, the greatest moving on, you know, I, I can't even tell you how many smartphones I've had and have in a drawer, consequently. And you yet, at the same time, we're living on a planet that is, you know, over time kind of in many ways, deteriorating, and to a certain degree under the weight of all of this kind of consumer technology. So talk a little bit, maybe we can start with kind of the cognitive dissonance between Apple's hardware event and earth week. You kinda led your piece on that. So let's start there.
Damon Berez (01:04:23):
Yeah, absolutely. So there is indeed a cognitive dissonance. As I say, apple of course talks quite a lot about sustainability, sustainable energy, et cetera. It releases an environmental report every year that talks about its supposed environmental commitments. Many of which are, are very laudable. What it's not doing a very great job on along with many other companies in the consumer tech space is electronic waste, making sure that the devices that it creates and ships every single year last for as long as possible and are repairable by the greatest number of people. These are devices that are very difficult to open and repair. There is very little requirement. Really apple is not required at all to provide thorough documentation that shows independent repair shops, how to repair these devices. And of course through things like the iPhone upgrade program, consumers are put in a position where they are encouraged to get a new device on an annual basis.
Damon Berez (01:05:30):
And even without participating in a program like that you are getting maybe a couple or few years out of these very expensive and wasteful electronics at best. So apple along with many other manufacturers is kind of talking out of both sides of its mouth, where it's saying there are all of these things it's doing to be quote unquote sustainable, but then it's rolling out millions upon millions upon millions of, of, of these new devices every single year and the earth week event really puts all of that into perspective. So it's talking about earth week and then, Hey, we have new max and we have air tags and all of these new metal and plastic devices you can purchase now.
Jason Howell (01:06:14):
Yeah. So you actually write about plant and obsolescence. And I want to, I want to talk a little bit about that because to a certain degree, like I have a hard time, I have a hard time finding how I feel about the idea of planned obsolescence on one hand. I totally believe that it exists. You know, I've certainly had those moments with my device where I'm like, I can't believe this is doing this right now. Oh, this company totally knew this was gonna happen. This is by design. Right. It feels like a frustrating moment and it's easy to point the finger. But then on the other hand, I'm like, is that like, would a company actually do that? Is this just some sort of like widely known conspiracy theory that we all just kind of point to planned obsolescence because it's the easy thing to point to. Right. But I guess it, from a sense, it makes sense. Maybe it's just not this like this nefarious thing when it's, when it's thought of it's just business as usual. What are your thoughts on that?
Damon Berez (01:07:07):
Totally. So I think first of all, you're, you're correct in what you're kind of suggesting here, which is, it's not necessarily like apple has this kill switch and it's like, oh, it's been a year shut the person's iPhone off. Now they have to buy a new one. You know, it's not happening like that. But what does happen, what we clearly see is that hardware is obsoleted by software updates. So for example, the new iOS update that happens every year often will remove a generation of iPhone compatibility. Apple's gotten a little bit better at this recently, the most recent version of iOS, I believe it supports back to the iPhone success, which at this point is a few years old. So that's kind of nice. But then again, wouldn't it be better if you could still be using an iPhone five, for example, an iPhone five C whatever.
Damon Berez (01:08:03):
The fact of the matter is that software updates will often remove a generation of hardware compatibility. So that's one example of this plan, quote, unquote, planned obsolescence. And then additionally, there are things such as the iPhones battery health that has clearly been a major issue. And the, what we have seen in the past is that apple will on the software side throttle, an iPhone that has an old battery that isn't at maximum capacity and that's another way of obsolete a device. So it doesn't need to be as obvious or as kind of cartoonishly evil as mm-hmm, <affirmative> apple sort of, oblating a bunch of devices, but there are these little things that kind of in an sort of artificial way, move an iPhone or a MacBook out of compatibility and, and make it not work for consumers anymore, essentially.
Jason Howell (01:09:08):
Yeah. And we're talking a lot about apple here, but obviously this is, this is like a just technology industrywide issue. This isn't just apple. It's doing this when absolutely mention when you mention battery. I mean, I, you know, I'm on Android. I do an Android show here on the network. So I've played for the last 11 years. I've lived my life on Android. And I would say the number one thing that, that makes a device, an Android device obsolete. Well actually I guess on Android, it's, it's too equal things, right? If it's powered device, it can't keep up, you know, from a hardware perspective, from a processing perspective. But really the thing that I point to the most is that battery, if I was to buy an Android device and wanna keep this device for five years, let's say which let's be real. That should be possible.
Jason Howell (01:09:51):
We should be able to buy, spend as much as we do on these smartphones and keep them for five years and use them totally. But the battery is just not capable of withstanding that after like a year and a half, we start to notice these huge dips in the battery capacity. And then we have to do other things to supplement it, get a, a battery case or an external charger that we carry around with us, whatever the case is. And you're right. That's not a sustainable thing, you know, depending, I don't know how it is on apple, whether it's as steep as it is on Android.
Damon Berez (01:10:23):
Yeah. You know, I'm glad that you brought that up because so first of all, I talk about apple a lot in my reporting around this issue, because apple is very much the trend setter in the technology, the consumer tech industry three in many ways. And additionally, apple does talk quite a bit about its environmental commitments. And so that dissonance is always kind of interesting to me. But you are absolutely right that this is a major issue while outside of Apple's wild garden. In fact, many other companies I think do worst job on, on this count. So you mentioned Android Samsung, for example, their smartphones are perhaps more challenging than apples to service and repair. They come in strange form factors, folded or curved screens. For example, you know, this proprietary kind of Samsung design they're just as locked down as the iPhone is.
Damon Berez (01:11:24):
So repairs are very challenging on those devices as well. Now, the thing that is, is interesting about the battery is that it used to be that that phones, that, that computers, that a lot of consumer technology would have modular parts, or it would have the, it would give the consumer the ability to pop the battery out and replace it with a new one, if new right mm-hmm, <affirmative> like old Nokia phones, always let you do that. For example right now that everything is bolted in to your smartphone and, and glued down to the device and sealed in to this extremely small package that the consumer can't actually open themselves. If something goes wrong with the battery and it impacts your ability to use your device, you don't have, you can no longer just pop that thing out and have it good as new phone. You have to get it serviced, or maybe you think that's not really worth it. Eh, it's a couple years old. I'm gonna, I'm gonna buy the new thing or I'm on the iPhone upgrade program. Anyway, I'll, I'll get the new, the new iPhone when it comes out in two months. So the battery, it's a very interesting issue because we've seen that that whole situation has evolved over the course of, of several years at this point, and is a major driving factor for people replacing their technology.
Jason Howell (01:12:50):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely agree. Another thing that this reading through your piece, you know, you, you do spend a lot of time talking or writing about the right to repair and kind of the things that are happening with the French government, the repairability score here in the us, we're hearing about different pieces of legislation that are in the works about about right to repair. How, how do you think this is going to influence these trends? Like, do you think it, it will make a, a, like a marketable difference in how these companies are producing their pro products, taking the sustainability and longevity away from an afterthought. Something they think about afterwards is like a solu a problem that needs a solution after they've already released it and more into the proactive space where they're designing these products to live longer.
Damon Berez (01:13:42):
Sure. So the most interesting thing about the right to repair legislation that we're talking about is that it will help the average consumer make, allow their device to last as long as possible. Right? So what this legislation typically seeks is a company like apple would have to provide schematic information, wiring diagrams, documentation that would allow an independent repair company or, or individual outside of just the sort of apple authorized repair outlet that, that you might see driving around or whatever it is designed to allow any independent repair organization or individual to access the information they need to, to fix a device like the iPhone. So what that ends up doing is it will help people like you and me find shops, find people who have the ability to actually fix their device when things go wrong, to extend the longevity of that device which is very important.
Damon Berez (01:14:51):
And right now, in a lot of cases, you know, I live in New York, you're in California. We are probably accustomed to saying, you know, this isn't that big of a deal. There's tons of repair shops, whatever, but there are a ton of people throughout the us who don't have easy access to good repair options. And then they do have to go through a company like apple or Samsung directly to get the things service. This legislation is designed to fix that problem as for whether that ultimately impacts how apple, et cetera, designs their technology. I, I suppose that's a little bit hard to say. I would hope that it does have that effect where, you know, maybe they decide, well, this information's out there anyway, we can make it easier to actually pop open the phone and repair the thing who knows if that happens, but that doesn't necessarily need to happen for there to be a positive impact in terms of device longevity, and as for what we're seeing in the EU and France at the repairability index score that actually could influence how consumers purchase new devices, which, you know, people when, when the economic situation starts to change a little bit, that's when you might see something interesting in terms of how companies decide to design and release these products.
Jason Howell (01:16:06):
Yeah. And I, I know on the Android side of things, we've seen some pretty interesting efforts from, from the module perspective. Now none of it worked mm-hmm <affirmative>, <laugh> none of it really, you know, came out on the other end as like a total success. Google had its project aura that really kind of fizzled before it ever got any sort of actual consumer movement, Moto mods, of course. Recently in the last couple years, we've heard about the fair phone, which is kind of like a sustainable smartphone with modular parts and everything. But each time it seems like while I, while I completely appreciate the nerdiness and the, the intentions of these devices, it just kind of seems like the consumer, like the, the, the general consumer isn't as interested in the idea, or maybe it's just a failure in marketing, but they, it never really seemed to go anywhere. Do you think that's an idea that's just too far in advance of its its possible like time to shine. Like maybe that's an idea that works in the next five years, but it was too early to do five years ago.
Damon Berez (01:17:07):
That's possible. I mean, listen, these are niche devices. So phon for example, that product is still around. And in fact, one of the things that's really great about Android as an operating system is that a company like phon can come along and decide, Hey, we're gonna build a phone with this OS and it's going to be modular and it's going to be a more quote unquote ethical phone than the one you might buy from Samsung. That's great. And that's, that's one of the, the, the nice things about Android as compared to like iOS, for example, only apple can make the iPhone, right. In terms of consumer demand. I mean, listen, it's niche you know, awareness around the issue of device, longevity, repair, et cetera. I is growing. And it has become a much larger issue in the past couple of years, even. So the New York times they published an editorial about right to repair a couple of years ago.
Damon Berez (01:18:01):
And then mine came around earlier this week. Like that's a really mainstream thing. And maybe that helps people see the, this issue in more serious terms. And maybe that becomes a more marketable thing. But you know, at the end of the day, people also do love these products from apple, Samsung, et cetera. These phones are nicer than the pH phone. I mean, in terms of the sort of sleek design and the state of the art feature, cetera, which matter to a lot of people nicer than those old clunky, modular Motorola phones, even though those were wonderful from the sort of longevity perspective. But you know, I think more awareness can only help. And perhaps we do start to see that there's a shift here now that more people understand that, Hey, maybe I should be interested in a more modular device or something that will last a little longer fundamentally though the big players in tech are the big players in tech, apple, Samsung, et cetera. These are the companies we, they need to receive legislative pressure or otherwise yeah. To improve their practices rather than us waiting around and hoping that some much smaller organization is going to be able to design something that ends up becoming popular with a large consumer base. It's just not likely to happen that way. Yeah,
Jason Howell (01:19:25):
Indeed, indeed. Well, Damon such a pleasure getting you on the show today to talk about this important topic and I love what you wrote, so everybody should check it out on the New York times. Well in New York times, NY times dot com, if people wanna follow you online and the work that you're doing now, where can they find you?
Damon Berez (01:19:43):
Yeah. Just follow me on Twitter at DL Barris. That's the best way to see what I'm up to. So give it a look and thank you so much for having me on the show. This is great.
Jason Howell (01:19:54):
Absolutely. We'll be in touch. We'll be following your work. Thank you again. Damon, take care of yourself. Thank you. You too. Talk you soon. Gonna take a quick break and thank the sponsor of this episode of tech news weekly. That is Melissa. Guess what? It's a brand new year and you need accurate customer address data to ensure your business is a success. And did you know that nearly 36 million address changes were processed by the us postal service in 2020? That's a huge chunk of customers you could be missing out on. Well, Melissa can help make sure your data is current and accurate. Melissa is both experienced and independent has over 35 years of data quality expertise, which explains why over 10,000 businesses know them as the address experts. Melissa also has a renewal rate of over 92% because 25% is the typical ROI for Melissa customers.
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Mikah Sargent (01:23:07):
Melissa.Com/Twi. Alrighty, folks, you may have heard that Amazon announced a whole slew of new products. I mean, you may have just heard that as that's what Jason said as we went into the ad break. But in case you didn't hear that you're just now tuning in. You're just now listening. Amazon had it's sort of echo ring event. It's kind of it's one of these events now with the multiple product lines that they have where they're announcing several new bits of technology and a lot of it this year, featured products with cameras joining us today. It's a talk about Amazon's expansion of surveillance in the home is the Washington posts. Heather Kelly, welcome back to the show, Heather.
Heather Kelly (01:23:54):
Hello, thank you for having me.
Mikah Sargent (01:23:56):
Yes, we are happy to have you here. So before we kind of dig into the, the, the privacy implications and surveillance concerns, it would be great. We could give our listeners kind of a, a rundown of some of the products that we'll be talking about today, the new ring stuff and the new the new Astro deal. <Laugh>
Heather Kelly (01:24:17):
Sure. All right. Let me see if I can remember these all Amazon, unlike apple, I feel like it just tries to cram in even more products, these events and what's interesting about that. It's it's just throwing everything out there to see what sticks mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's expecting some of these to fail. So keep that in mind. Some of them are beta. All right. There was a giant echo show. It's a, a smart screen with a always on speaker and it goes on your wall and the pitch was organizing. Your family is hard. This will fix all your problems. So it looks like a giant, like, like an iPhone, kind of the little widget screen mm-hmm <affirmative> you can put stickies on it, all this stuff. It's cool. Often feature. They would like me to point out is that it has a camera. And if it recognizes you walking by, it will switch. What's showing on the screen to be customized for you and the microwave, not the microwave. The microphone is always listening and it can hear household sounds like like a dog barking or refrigerator door left, open, and beeping and send you a text notification.
Mikah Sargent (01:25:19):
Mm didn't realize it had a microphone.
Heather Kelly (01:25:22):
Everything has a microphone except for the flying drone, which is our next one. They announced this it's an indoor security camera. Because apparently they seem really concerned that there's angles inside of our house that are not on camera. And so they're, they're solving for that problem. And so this, this little thing, it comes up and it flies around your house and it only does video and not audio and it's for security. And what else has cameras? There's the robot, obviously, which is a favorite. It's adorable. It's basically an echo show with a little Periscope camera that goes up and it's mounted on a Roomba and it goes around your house to watch things. You can tell it not to go into rooms, but I'm like, if it has a Periscope camera, can it just be like,
Mikah Sargent (01:26:08):
<Laugh>, you can still look into the room.
Heather Kelly (01:26:11):
So there's that one. And what else am I missing? There was a, kid's a kid's gadget that basically looks like a really chunky saved by the cell phone. And you just put it down and it has a projector. And the pitch for this was interesting. They're like, oh, instead of having like the bad kind of screen time this smartphone like device does less has a stand, so they're not wandering around with it and lets them FaceTime and interact with people. Which is another, another interesting problem. I think those were my favorites. I'm trying to think if there's anything else for sure.
Mikah Sargent (01:26:50):
Those are big guys. Yeah. Yeah. Cuz the other stuff was some blink updates, including it's interesting how Amazon has two companies kind of competing. You've got ring on one side with the, the ring video doorbell. Now blink has a video doorbell and a bunch of new products, including one that has flood lights. And so Amazon is, I don't know, trying to balance the two as options for people. But yeah, those ones kind of being the, the big players in the space, particularly you know, we wanna talk about the robot, but before we get there, I do want to kind of get a little bit more into, so this, this sort of wall display, it's like a, a picture frame almost with the screen inside and it has all of this these features that we allegedly have long wanted.
Mikah Sargent (01:27:36):
That's what they'll always tell us anyway. You, you know, you, you've got the family cork board or the family whiteboard but this is all just on this, this display. And I have to be honest with you. I quite liked the idea of this product as you know, I use the, the echo devices that I have in my home as ambient displays that give me information throughout the day are all of the features including the microphone feature is, are those opt in, but I should say are all of the kind of surveillance features. So the microphone that's always listening and the video that will see that you're you and then change the screen. Both of those are optin features
Heather Kelly (01:28:22):
Kind of. So the, the, the one that recognizes you is definitely opt using the microphone for this particular thing is opt in, but the micro microphone is still always on because that's what makes it an echo. So you may say, don't listen for this, but it it's, it's
Mikah Sargent (01:28:36):
Still listening, still listening yeah. For the, the wake word. Gotcha. So it seems like most of the focus has been on Astro, which is the a L X a enabled robot. But I wonder if that has to do with the fact that we've known about this always home drone for some time. Could you talk to the listeners a little bit more about the the always home drone, because this product was announced a while back there wasn't originally a launch date, has Amazon come out with a launch date now? That is not a pun, although I guess it could be. And how exactly is this meant to work in, in your home? I mean I I've got dogs for example, is the drone going to attack my dogs while outside of a house? Did they talk about that at all?
Heather Kelly (01:29:26):
It's just gonna keep your dogs in like a mini surveillance state so that you can yell at them. It's a real example. And I know dogs don't know, but it's like, just let your dogs chill out, man. It has like some time away from you during the day. So there were a few more details. It's actually still a little fuzzy. I believe they might. You might chip at the end of the year. It was definitely Aite because as with everything in the supply chain who knows nothing, certain the way it works is it's like a big square looks like a little air filter. And you can schedule to do different things. But I think basically you can have it do like a little century, like regular passes throughout at your house while you're gone. Make sure, you know, the dogs and the children, ah, the children are all doing what they're supposed to be doing. <Laugh>, I'm
Mikah Sargent (01:30:10):
Worried about the children. It's not El on the shelf this year. It's elf in the sky. <Laugh> you can
Heather Kelly (01:30:15):
Put the ears on it. That's actually,
Mikah Sargent (01:30:18):
That's horrifying. That's horrifying. <Laugh> I already find El on the shelf horrifying. This just doubles it down. Ugh. Anyway, I do not believe in elf on this is not a parenting podcast. <Laugh>
Heather Kelly (01:30:30):
Everything's a parenting podcast. Also true. So yeah, the idea is that it's, it's one of the few indoor devices that is definitely a security device. Everything else indoors was like pitched jazz, you know, those commercials where people can't open jars and like, oh, this is, is so hard. If only that's what everything else was. It was like, we solve problems that were making sound harder than they were.
Mikah Sargent (01:30:51):
Got it. Got it. So then let's talk about Astro. Astro, is this adorable looking robot with, as you said, a, a telescopic or Periscope camera and can, can, you know, drive around your house and look innocent while it spies on you. I saw some reports of developers talking about how it will, it, it, it ended up kind of like running into things a lot and would throw itself downstairs and same the right exact I it's wild. How, how so much alike robots and humans are, but was the, was Astro because you said that the, the drone was kind of the big one in terms of security, is Astro supposed to be my little buddy as well? Or is it mainly for going throughout the, the space and, and making sure that everything's a okay. I mean, like, is it gonna, am I gonna walk in and my kid is talking to it and they're plotting against me. What is the functionality of Astro
Heather Kelly (01:31:53):
Astro is very much not framed as a security device by Amazon. It is a home helper, an assistant it's just there to like, I don't know, pay attention to your kids when you're busy go through the rooms. It's a, it's, it's pitched as fun and you know, it's fun and non-threatening because they gave it like the biggest robot tell giant round eyes like that is just the go-to for robots. And it's absolutely effective to like, make them non-threatening to people, even though supermarket robots with big Goglia eyes, you know, it's, it's, it's a pretty neat trick. And so, you know, I, I believe it cannot yet bring you a drink, but part of the schematics could maybe give it a cupholder. It can just wonder around your house. However, I believe in a interview with the New York times David li who's the head of, of products and services said that one of his uses might be to check if his kids are like getting into the liquor cabinet. I don't, I don't know if that is accurate. I don't wanna say David Li's kids are in the liquor cabinet, but it was something that the kids might be doing.
Mikah Sargent (01:32:53):
Right, right. Yeah. Checking to see if the kids are sneaking more Oreos, we'll go with the, the more innocent version. Awesome.
Heather Kelly (01:33:00):
I know. That's what they're doing.
Mikah Sargent (01:33:01):
Yeah. The cookie jar mode. Yeah. <Laugh> so it has, it has a touch screen. Am I like bending over or crouching down to interact with it? Or does Amazon see this mostly as interaction by a voice or, I mean, because I don't know, obviously with my dogs I have very small dogs and so either they jump up to me or I crouch down to them and I don't have a problem with that, but there's something about a robot where doing more work kind of makes it feel like it's defeating. The purpose is the primary interaction meant to be through Amazon's voice assistant. And is it itself a voice assistant? Like, can I say Astro go get the newspaper or is it like a L E X a ask Astro to go get the newspaper? What's the primary means of interacting with the device?
Heather Kelly (01:33:52):
So I, now that you ask, I'm completely not confident, I assume and believe that it is in fact, just like an echo, like you can, you can talk to it in some of the videos they show though it was children at Astro's level sitting on the ground, talking like this. So when it comes to kid the idea that it is something that they can interact with I don't know, do their homework with it. Talk to it, look up trivia.
Mikah Sargent (01:34:15):
This is interesting because I feel like a lot of the the, the news out there, a lot of the article out there have been positioning this Astro as a robot who goes around patrolling or goes around, you know, watching your home. And of course we understand that from the perspective of the, you know, the, the, the underlying concerns mm-hmm <affirmative>, but in terms of the functionality of the bought, what it was built to do, it seems like it might be aimed at families with kids. It seems like it's more of a, a companion not that it, you know, necessarily is gonna do a good job at that. Less of a utility and more of a toy is what it's sounding like.
Heather Kelly (01:34:59):
Okay, let's keep in mind. This is gonna be like a thousand dollars robot. And that's just the early one. I think it goes up to 1200 or 1500 once it's it's released for real. So I, I think that's a lot for a toy. And also you have to think like the, the utility of a camera on a Periscope arm, like the there's no sort of fun angle to that. It's very much, I'm keeping an eye on my home. I'm keeping an eye on the people in my home if they're there. I don't see a fun use for like boo boo, you know, maybe, maybe other people can come up with them. And then the, there is the privacy feature, you know, don't, don't go into certain rooms, which very much acknowledges that. Like, you've got a thing rolling around that can put you on camera. It's something you should definitely keep in mind if you wanna invite one into your house.
Mikah Sargent (01:35:41):
Absolutely. the last it sounds to one of the, I can't remember where I saw this now, there was an article, I believe it was this morning kind of talking about how Amazon now seems to be in some other companies too, are beta testing with while using people's money to do so that, you know, these products are, are early days products. That's, you know, it's a thousand dollars now and $1,500 later because we don't know what the final version's gonna look like, but we want to get this out to folks is, do, do we think that this is Amazon's Mo going forward, given that it has shown that it continues to kind of iterate in public, but iterate again with, with people's money at the, at the end of the day?
Heather Kelly (01:36:30):
Yeah. I mean, they've always honestly been really open about this. They had a name for it that I'm forgetting of, like, it's our beta program. I feel like there's a lot of early adopters. I'm guessing a lot of them watch or show that would be excited to test out something. Even if it, if it ends up not being a successful product, maybe not for a thousand dollars, this one's on the higher end. And then they also, they even launched something on their website this year that was like, here, we're gonna, we're gonna throw out some of our crazy ideas if enough people pre-order, it we'll make it. And like I absolutely 100% pre ordered the printer for sticky notes. Me
Mikah Sargent (01:37:01):
Too. Yes. They're day one, their day one editions products and yes, sticky notes printer. I can't wait. I was so excited to see that it got funded and finally got a shipping notification for it. So yeah, there, there are some shipping notification. Did you better check your spam? Okay. Yeah, cuz I was, I was pumped about that one. I was kind of surprised that the I thought for sure that the smart nutrition scale would get funded. And I wasn't surprised that the cuckoo clock did not get funded, but the printer was the only one of those three that did, that felt a little bit more for me. It felt more clear that that's what they were doing with this. It, it does seem because they're, they're kind of lumping everything together and saying, look, what new products we have for ring and what new products we have for echo.
Mikah Sargent (01:37:49):
And so to, to sort of iterate in public with those kind of felt disingenuous, but I guess if they go with that day one branding for these products, then it will feel a little less. Like it's just like, Hey, try this out. And thank you for giving us your money to help us make this product a, a reality the really quickly cuz we do need to let you go with the last one that we, we mentioned was that Amazon glow, this projection screen technology, very kids focused. Did Amazon spend any time during its event talking about the privacy implications of this technology, what they're doing to protect your children's privacy in particular. And then have they continued to try to shape the narrative regarding a L a X, a and privacy and on in general and privacy.
Heather Kelly (01:38:37):
So, I mean, I think that's a problem with some of these events, like maybe some people got pre briefed. There is no pre-briefing, you are, you're being told things and reporting on them immediately. And there's not a lot of time to go in depth with all the privacy features. They're kind of always mentioned at the end of a section of like, and it's end and encrypted. So I'm very confident that Amazon is, is very actively adding the privacy features. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> but when you release like, you know, 10 products in a day, in like an hour and a half, like how in depth are you getting with these privacy features? How well are you explaining in that? And I think that's honestly like a, a kind of a problem that, that the company has had is, is, you know, they're very worried that people don't don't think of the, these things as like privacy focused.
Heather Kelly (01:39:18):
And it's like, if we just slow down, if we talk about it more, but some of it is just the very approach of like, we start with cameras and microphones in the home, and then we, we add privacy settings and protections and it was like, maybe we should take a step back and ask the questions. Should we be putting cameras and microphones in so many parts of our lives for the kids' device, my biggest complaint, wasn't the privacy, I'm sure it's very locked down. They had a history of making kind of kids' devices that are not great, but private the Amazon fire kids is terrible. But it's also, it reminds me of the portal and like we have tablets and phones that do this. You just put 'em on a stand. I really don't see the need to remake an entire product. You can even get a little projector for your iPad, for your kids.
Mikah Sargent (01:40:00):
Right? Exactly. I, I have to agree with you there. I think it was one of those did, did someone ask for this kind of things? <Laugh> I need numbers. I need to know these people cuz I wanna talk to them. Heather Kelly, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for your wit and thank you for writing up about Amazon and what, what its latest products include. Of course, folks can add over to the Washington post to check out your great work. I know you recently launched I believe it's called help desk with a, with
Heather Kelly (01:40:32):
A group of, yes. Send me your questions and I will, I will answer them to the best of my ability. We got a whole team of people and we're just here your or help firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us your
Mikah Sargent (01:40:41):
Problems. Awesome. And then if folks wanna follow you online, where should they go to do so
Heather Kelly (01:40:47):
I'm on Twitter, unfortunately and it's at Heather Kelly and then I'm on TikTok, but I will never post anything. I just waste all
Mikah Sargent (01:40:54):
My time there. So yeah, just lurk me too. All right, Heather Kelly, thank you so much. We will see you later. Thanks. Bye.
Jason Howell (01:41:04):
Wow. Am I happy that I don't have Amazon products in my home? What about you, Micah? I, I
Mikah Sargent (01:41:09):
Don't want the robot. Everybody wants me to have the, I don't want the robot. I will not add the robot to my home, but I do have a number of other Alia X, a devices creeping around here. And sometimes I just hit that mute button and make sure they're not listening to me because I do occasionally say words that are too close to that, that wake word.
Jason Howell (01:41:29):
Yeah. And, and let me, let me just reiterate so that I'm not up on my high horse. I have plenty of other devices in my house surveilling me. So it's not like I don't have surveillance devices in my home. But I just don't have Amazons and I don't know that it makes much of a difference to be honest <laugh>
Mikah Sargent (01:41:46):
Yeah. Yeah. They they're all doing their thing. Aren't they?
Jason Howell (01:41:48):
They are, they are. That's what makes them so dang useful. Well this has been a wonder year. I, I will say I love doing this show because we get to talk to so many just smart, awesome people. Like it's, it's the show that, that I get the, the opportunity to do in my life, where I get to talk to some of my heroes, the people who are writing the articles that we're all writing. Sometimes we get to talk to the people who are actually on the other side of the story, you know, making that news. And it's just, it's a cool opportunity to be in this position to be able to interview people who are this smart and this dialed in and connected to the things that we dis that we discuss as a culture around technology year after year. So, and also, I just enjoy doing a show with you, Micah. So thanks for a great
Mikah Sargent (01:42:35):
Year. I enjoy doing the show with you too. And I'm really proud of the diversity that we get to bring through tech news weekly as well. We have all sorts of people from all sorts of different backgrounds occasionally people outside of the United States, which is I think something that's incredibly lack in tech coverage as a whole. And so getting to speak to all these different people with all these different perspectives on these different stories, and then the ones that we also bring with our stories of the week that cover some things that maybe folks are not, not paying attention to. That's the work that I'm really proud of. And so, yeah, this was a, a great year of awesome, interesting hilarious, terrifying, and many, many other adjective stories. And I think, I think I can, you know, tie a bow on it and say, we did good work.
Jason Howell (01:43:28):
<Laugh>, it's a rollercoaster of emotion here at 10 year after year. You can find this show by, I just go into twi.tv/t w we do record this show. Every Thursday, we will be back next week, which is TW the, the first episode of the new year. So we're gonna start things off, right? So look for that, just subscribe, go to twi.tv/tnw, and you can subscribe to the podcast there.
Mikah Sargent (01:43:52):
And if you'd like to, you can check out club TWI by becoming a member of club TWI at twi.tv/club, TWI costs you seven bucks a month. And by becoming a member, you can get every single one of the TWI shows with no ads, including this one. You also get access to the exclusive TWI plus bonus fee that has content. You won't find where else behind the scenes, before the show, after the show outtakes, et cetera lots of great stuff there and access to the members only discord server. If you're going, what the heck is that? Well, if you've ever used Microsoft's teams or slack or one of those other communication platforms, you will be familiar with discord because it works a lot the same way, but you get to out with your fellow club, TWI members, as well as those of us here at TWI super fun stuff there, twit.tv/club TWI, to check that out.
Mikah Sargent (01:44:39):
And you can also subscribe to individual shows. If you'd like by subscribing an apple podcasts, you just find the audio version of TNW and apple podcasts. And you'll see a button there for 2 99 month, you'll get the ad free version of the audio feed by tapping on that button. And yeah, that's a, that's a great way to support the show directly and all of us here at TWI. Thank you for any of that stuff. If you'd like to follow me online and check out the work I do, you can find email@example.com. That's ch HOA hoa.coffee, where I've got links to many of the places I exist online. You should also check out the tech guy, which I record with Leo LePort on Saturdays. That's our radio show where folks call in with their questions and we answer them as well as iOS today, which I record on Tuesdays with Rosemary or which is all things iOS and related topics. Jason Howell. What about you?
Jason Howell (01:45:38):
Well, you can just find me on Twitter at Jason Howell. I'm also doing shows here on Twitter. Of course. All about Android twit slash AA. Got a great year coming up for all about Android with some interesting changes. So look forward to that. And then, yeah, just helping out on a lot of other shows every once in a while, pop in on this week in Google help produce Leo's, you know, big show this week in tech, keep him pretty darn busy around here. I wanna give a huge thank you to the folks who help us do this show each and every week. Yes, but also each and every year, John Ashley, John Lenina Burke, McQuin everyone behind the scenes. Who's helping us prepare for this show and make it a possibility and bring it out to you all. Thank you. We could not do it without you. And of course we could not do it without you for watching and listening. You are the reason we create this show. So thank you for continuing to come back week after week, y'all have yourself a fantastic new year's celebration, and we will see you in 2022. Thanks for watching tech news weekly. We'll see you next time.
Mikah Sargent (01:46:38):
Goodbye. Happy new year.