This Week in Google 276 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It’s time for TWiG, This Week in Google, some great conversations ahead for you. We’ll talk about the mess at Uber, but also how to know what’s really true. Jeff, Gina and I are next on TWiG.
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Leo: This is TWiG, This Week in Google, episode 276, recorded November 19th, 2014.
Don’t be Uber.
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It’s time for TWiG, This Week in Google, the show that covers Google, the Googleverse, Google Cloud, all the other Clouds that are puffing along right next to the Google Cloud. Oh, wait a minute, that one’s a vape cloud, ignore that one. Also Facebook and Twitter - ladies and gentleman, Gina Trapani of ThinkUp.com.
Gina Trapani: Hello.
Leo: Good to have you, Gina. She’s host of All About Android.
Gina: Oh yes, serves me right.
Leo: For Tuesday night, make her work right in the middle of the week. Jeff Jarvis is back home where the snow, has it come up to the windows yet, Jeff?
Jeff Jarvis: I’m not in Buffalo, thank goodness. The east coast is not all the same.
Leo: Yes it is.
Jeff: I think Gina should put her hoodie over her head since she’s freezing.
Leo: Both of you, I think.
Gina: It is freezing here. This is why I have my fuzzy-wuzzy hoodie on here.
Leo: Wow, that’s cute!
Jeff: Is that a Uniqlo hoodie?
Gina: It’s cold!
Leo: You look so adorable in that.
Gina: I don’t know, I think this was like a Sam’s Club special. My mother-in-law gave it to me. It’s so warm.
Leo: You really understand when you’re walking around in sub-freezing weather, why warm weather here is so important.
Gina: Yes, I’m being re-reminded. I was kind of in denial about the winter because I moved back last winter. I was like, “Oh, this is a weird freak thing.” Now I’m like, “Oh. This is going to be a seasonal thing.”
Leo: “Oh, crap.”
Gina: Yes, exactly.
Leo: It’s really February that you really start hating it. November, this is nothing.
Gina: I was like, “It’s not even December yet!” Today, this is what I was saying to a friend. What is this?
Leo: Stay inside, stay warm. Be toasty.
Jeff: It’s going to be 65 this weekend.
Leo: Oh, good.
Jeff: I now feel like my parents, talking about the weather.
Leo: I know, I know, I know. Let’s talk about Uber.
Gina: Oh, boy.
Leo: First, I wasn’t going to. But now I feel like I have to.
Gina: Let’s do it, let’s do this.
Jeff: It’s phenomenal. Jesus, what a story. It’s kind of depressing to me that it’s only become a huge story once it affected journalists.
Leo: Yes, typical, wasn’t it? It’s like Gamergate, as soon as you attack the journalists, “Now we got a story, man!” So Uber has always been pretty aggressive and I think in some regard this is just kind of a peek inside the startup culture, which can tend to be not only a boys’ club but an aggro boys’ club. Really…
Leo: You know, little bits leak through the programmer and all that stuff, but really - and I’m not familiar with it because I don’t hang out with VCs or with startups or anything. Maybe, Jeff, you do a little bit more. Gina, you’re in a startup. Is this kind of aggressive culture that we’re seeing here with Uber kind of typical?
Gina: Well, you know, Uber’s just like the darling of the Valley. There’s this whole sort of undercurrent of growth hacking and hustle and this sort of - I don’t know, this idea that you just stop at nothing to succeed, the Uber-ization of everything. Uber has become this weird synonym, for me, for either the future of technology and convenience or, a company that treats its drivers terribly and resorts to unethical tactics to acquire customers. I mean, it’s this very weird split, double thing, double-edged sword with Uber.
Leo: Uber has raised more money than probably any startup in current Silicon Valley startup; it said $1.5 billion in 6 rounds from 32 investors, including several $100 million from Google Ventures. It was founded by Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp. We should explain, for those who don’t know, although I imagine most of our audience does, it’s a cab service, in effect. Originally it was a black car service. The thing that made it different was, instead of phoning them up and saying, “Pick me up, I’m ready to go,” you have an app on your phone and it was actually a very lovely experience. The app would already have your credit card information. You’d tap and say, “I want a ride.” You’d see how far away the car was; you could see as it approached on a map; you’d see a picture of your driver. Your driver would see a picture of you and where to pick you up. You’d get in the car, you’d go where you wanted to and then you’d get out of the car. That would be it. The tip and payment all handled by Uber. It was a very nice friction free transaction. The early Uber cars were all nice, black cars - they’ve now had Uber Access, something of a lower cost service and I think they may even go lower than that so there’s a variety of cars.
Jeff: Uber bike!
Leo: Of course, they found they got a lot of heat in Washington D.C. and New York City. Toronto, I think, is about to make Uber illegal. Because the taxi services said this is essentially an unlicensed taxi service, and you make us buy medallions and go through huge regulatory hoops and you’re not doing that to Uber. I don’t know whether it’s lobbying from the taxi services or -
Jeff: It is.
Leo: Yes, I think it is probably, but the taxi commission? It’s kind of like the Airbnb problems with the hotel commissions. It’s a new way of doing things, and there maybe are some concerns. An Uber car hit an immigrant family in San Francisco a few months ago and killed a six-year-old. There have been alleged reports of sexual attacks in Uber cars by Uber drivers. Really, the issue that’s surfacing now is the aggressive promotion of Uber. First, a couple of months ago we heard that Uber was going after Lift by actually going into Lift cars and trying to solicit their drivers.
Gina: Right. Lift is one of their competitors and they would have, supposedly, Uber employees calling in Lift rides, getting the Lift drivers to go to pick them up and then cancelling - basically, taking away their fares. Or, they’d be getting into these cars and pitching Lift drivers to move over to Uber, all the reasons why Uber was better for them.
Leo: You know what’s interesting, the name Uber, which in the beginning sounds like they’re better, they’re God, and now it’s starting to sound like “Deutschland uber alles,” it’s like - the connotations are not as good. So that latest kerfuffle came from a private event that Uber had, in which one of their Senior Vice Presidents for Business said some things that were pretty appalling.
Gina: Yes, ironically, they -
Jeff: A multi-million dollar fund to go after journalists, nobody would know it.
Leo: Maybe we should explain this. So what happened was, this was an off the record event. Edward Norton, the actor, was there. Arianna Huffington was there.
Gina: They were going to make nice.
Leo: Yes, it was a nice event.
Gina: Like, they’re trying to make nice. They’re having PR problems, right? So they set up these fancy dinners with all these heavy hitters to like, make nice and clink glasses and get buddy-buddy, because they know they’re having PR problems as a company. This is why they’re setting up these dinners. That’s the irony of it.
Leo: So I don’t know the Waverly end of New York but I’m guessing it’s pretty nice.
Jeff: It’s hip and nice, oh yes.
Leo: So, they asked Michael Wolf of USA Today to go, and he in turn invited a date, Ben Smith, who happens to be editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed, to come along with him.
Jeff: Now, just one moment, here. Michael Wolf, just a background, tries to be as nasty as he can be all the time. He went to the Foursquare conference, having nothing to do with our app Foursquare, but Foursquare from Lehman Brothers. It’s all off the record, they made this absolutely clear. Wolf revealed absolutely everything at the event; he created a book called Highlight of the Moguls. So Wolf is no friend of off the record. Wolf invites -
Leo: It is an off-record event, though. Wolf says -
Jeff: But the argument is, unless the journalist agrees, it ain’t off the record. Ben Smith, who I trust on this, never heard it was off the record.
Leo: Wolf is writing in USA Today, he says, “I had understood the Uber dinner, like other such meet and greets, was off the record. I neglected, however, to tell Smith this.” He says, “While I might have fairly assumed Smith knew the context, this was my oversight but surely not Uber’s.” You know, it’s everybody’s oversight, because as you say, nothing is off the record until it’s agreed that it’s off the record by both parties. So, off the record doesn’t mean what you think it means. “I might have thought too, that as my date he would have asked if there was an understanding.” Wolf’s throwing Smith under the bus, here.
Jeff: Yes, he really is, and again, this is Michael Wolf, who himself has absolutely flaunted off the record rules. He wrote an entire book out of the Foursquare event, which was clearly off the record; everyone knows is off the record; he knew it was off the record. Now he’s acting holier than thou?
Jeff: Yes, Michael, yes.
Leo: So, Ed Norton was there, he’s a friend of the founder. Shauna Robertson, his wife, a movie producer, Mort Zuckerman, now the Daily News -
Gina: Interesting that Wolf was naming names at a private event.
Leo: Yes. Bob Pitman, the CEO of Clear Channel, Arianna Huffington, Chris Hughes, the owner of the New Republic and former Facebooker. Chris might even still be a Facebooker - no, I think he left Facebook.
Gina: He was one of the founders.
Leo: He says this was a long table, about 40 feet or more; Smith was seated at the far end with Emil Michael, who is Uber’s Senior Vice President for Business. Now, Wolf says, “I was at the other end of the table so I didn’t hear this conversation.” But apparently - this is actually additional detail that we haven’t read before - Smith -
Jeff: Arianna Huffington just tweeted that she was also at the other end of the table.
Leo: “I didn’t hear anything, darling. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what he’s talking about, darling. I’m going to take an Uber right now.” (laughter) I don’t know why she she sounds like Zsa Zsa, but she kind of does.
Jeff: She never says “darling,” she makes a point of never saying “darling”, that’s funny.
Leo: I know, but she would say “darling”. If you’re going to talk like that, you should say “darling.” I knew her when she was Ariana Stassinopoulou, okay? I’m just saying.
Smith apparently engaged Michael in a discussion of Uber’s frequent bad press and came away with a set of quotes, or snippets of quotes which had Michael saying that Uber, if it wanted to, could investigate journalists, including their personal lives. Smith represented Michael’s conversation, and this was a Buzzfeed posting, Michael is the executive at Uber - Michael’s angle was directed at Sarah Lacy, the founder and editor of Pando Daily and Lacy has been critical of Uber and its aggressive tactics and so forth.
Gina: Aggressive tactics and a couple of sexist promos…
Leo: I should mention that in the Buzzfeed article, this is the quote, “Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending ‘$1 million’ to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press. They’d look into ‘your personal lives, your families’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine. Michael was particularly focused,” this again is Ben the Buzzfeed editor-in-chief, “on Sarah Lacy, the editor of Pando Daily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of sexism and misogyny; she wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after Buzzfeed reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. She said, ‘I don’t know how many more signals we need the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety’.
At dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers.” This is to me, the sentence that was the most outrageous. “He said that he thought Lacy should be held ‘personally responsible’ for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted”. He said also, they could in particular, if they went after her, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.
By the way, I don’t know, and Ben does not report what that is, and we don’t need to talk about that. I don’t think that’s an issue. “Michael at no point suggested that Uber has actually hired opposition researchers, or that it plans to. He cast it as something that would make sense, that the company would be justified in doing.” Now, Michael did not deny it. He actually issued a statement that said, “the remarks attributed to me at a private dinner borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I’m proud to work for do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the companies views. Of course, they are wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.” There was kind of a Twitter storm, about 17 tweets, in which he apologizes. At no point did anybody mention whether Michael would be reprimanded, punished or even fired.
Jeff: But this SEO did a 14 tweet stream, saying that what he said had no representation of the company, we’re very sorry, blah blah blah, this is not our company - but there have just been too many signals now.
Leo: Well and then there’s this other issue of them -
Gina: The God view.
Leo: The God view.
Jeff: The God view, yes.
Leo: So you want to talk about that?
Gina: Yes! This is when we talk about trust and particularly around Google, since this is a show about Google - this is what I was talking about when I said Google has root to culture, right? So, Uber has this thing called God view, purportedly, allegedly, which means that certain employees of the company, not drivers or contractors, but employees of the company, particularly executives, have this live map of cars, Uber cars, and people who are in them. They can pretty much track anybody who’s going somewhere at any given time.
There was a median piece by somebody whose name I didn’t recognize, I think maybe he’s a VC - he’s someone of some importance. He said that someone he knew, also in the industry, was texting him saying, “Hey, are you in a car on this street and this street”, asking him about his location. He said, “Yes, how do you know where I am?” She said, “Well, I’m at this Uber party here in Chicago, and they’ve got the God view up on the wall!”
Leo: “You should be proud, you’ve been selected!”
Gina: “You should be delighted that Uber is showing off this amazing technology where they get to watch you in real time drive around the city in a car.” This person said, “I never gave them any permission to broadcast my location real time.” So there’s this accusation out there that people have access to your private information, where you’re going and who you’re with.
Leo: Is it possible that - there seems to be a pattern, but maybe the pattern is being - remember, Uber has been really fought hard against by the taxi commissions. Lift has complained a lot about Uber, they of course are a direct competitor. Some of their complaints turn out to be maybe not - anyway, there seems to be more to this story than meets the eye. Let’s not forget that Buzzfeed is heavily invested in by Andrisen Horowitz, which also is a major Lift investor. It seems like there’s more to this story than we’re seeing.
Jeff: I think that’s what we’re looking for. I think, somebody said that too in recent, “Oh, come on. Really?” I agree with him. Conspiracies don’t really happen, folks. The world’s not that well organized, and I don’t believe for a second that the investors behind Lift said, “Let’s make sure we get Buzzfeed invited to this dinner so they can feed Pando more bad stuff…” It just doesn’t happen. The bad guys here are Uber.
Leo: Uber has not denied that Michael said those things, right?
Gina: All you got to do is give this guy half a bottle of wine; it doesn’t take much, right? I mean, really - I don’t mean to -
Leo: Okay, so let me ask you - it’s not an issue for me because I can’t use Uber in Petaluma. John Hodgman, who we respect a lot, said, “I’m going to delete my Uber app.” Are you going to delete your Uber app?
Gina: My Uber app is deleted, I have emailed help and asked them to delete my account, because just deleted the app from your phone does not actually close your account. There’s no way to close your account on the Uber website. You actually have to email them and a human being from Uber wrote back and said she’d be happy to delete my account. She wanted to know why, first. So I responded and said that I do not trust Uber with my data, could she please close my account? I have yet to hear from her. I did this about 24 hours ago. So I’m already annoyed that there isn’t a self service, just close my account. I feel very strongly that giving a customer an exit route is responsibility zero for a service like this. They do store my credit card; I should be able to say, “Hey, delete my stuff.” But that’s where I’m at with it. I’m waiting for them to get back and say, “Yes, deleting your account.”
I live in New York City, where getting a car service - and when you live in Brooklyn, there aren’t yellow taxi cabs that drive the streets of Brooklyn. But I grew up, even as a teenager, there’s car service. There are little storefront deals where you call, yes, I have to make a voice call, which is inconvenient. But you call and then they come and get you, it costs a few bucks. It’s not that big a deal. I plan to use car service and public transportation and yellow taxi cabs for now, because I wasn’t a big Uber user to begin with. I know it’s a big deal in the San Francisco area because getting a taxi is apparently very difficult. But the app experience is nice, but there is a service here called Carmel, which has an app. It’s not as nice as Uber but it’s close in that you can hail a car that way. I do that from the airport. Yes, I’m done, I’m done with Uber.
Jeff: I downloaded Lift today and I will probably not use Uber. I think what they’ve done is fairly disgusting. You had it all, they also went after investors of Lift, it’s the culture. My favorite line of the whole thing came from a response to a tweet of mine. Richard Dunham said, “Google is changing its motto to ‘Don’t be Uber.’”
Leo: Gosh, you point out that Google is a little bit in bed with Uber because the Google Maps app -
Jeff: They invested.
Leo: Not only did they invest hundreds of millions of dollars, the Google Maps app, if you have Uber installed on your phone, will give you a chance to call an Uber.
Gina: That made me really uncomfortable when they did that.
Jeff: I think that all the major investors… sorry, Gina.
Gina: No, that made me super uncomfortable when they did that. I remember doing that in the change log and going, “Oh, Uber? Ugh.” I felt kind of icky about Uber even then.
I mean, it’s an interesting thing to me, what responsibility - and you know, look, we’ve had our outrage moments on this show about a lot of different things. There are times when apologies work and I accept them and move on. There are times they don’t. For me, Travis Kalanick’s apology just didn’t work for me. The apology that would have worked would have been Emil fired immediately for what happened, case closed. They didn’t do that and I feel like all these things put together just indicate this really horrible company culture. I just can’t support it. So, look, I believe people make mistakes and can change. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve apologized, but in this case it just wasn’t enough. That’s why I’m done with Uber.
Jeff: I think now we have to look to Matt Kohler, Bill Gurley, Tim Ferriss, these were people who were on the board. They are the CEOs’ boss, and are they going to hold the CEO accountable here? Let’s list their names: Ted Meisel, Matt Kohler, Steve Jang, Bill Gurley, Timothy Ferriss, Paul Briger, Steven “Steve” Russel and Oscar Salazar. That’s the board of Uber. Those are the real, ultimate bosses. One way or the other, they’ve - I was in the board of a company and we had some issues. At the end of the day, it’s up to the board to say what’s what. We have to see how they do.
You know, there’s another story here too, which is the journalistic story. I just finished reading Wolf throwing - Mike Wolf of all people, throwing Buzzfeed under the bus. He really, really does. Another story that was like this recently was when the Guardian went in a business meeting with Whisper and found out Whisper was not really keeping things as private as seemed, seemed to be playing with people’s privacy and identity in a lot of ways and reported that. Some journalists, in that case, as in this case, kind of got mad and said, “Oh, you’re ruining the game and the rules. You’re off the record.” My response to that is that as a journalist your first responsibility, full stop, is to the public you serve. Access journalism is corrupting, and gee, you won’t get invited back for the Waverly dinner or you won’t get invited by this Silicon Valley company to do a deal with them, well fine! It’s your job to protect the public and if you know something bad is going on, even though there were people at the dinner knowing it was off the record, I think that there’s some level at which it becomes over the top, and to say, “I’m telling this off the record, I feel a need to tell people about this.” I certainly as hell would have called Sarah Lacy and told her what was going on. This was shameful. I’m ashamed that people in my business, that they don’t keep their priorities straight in both these stories.
Leo: There is this pattern of stories, it just going on and on and on. As Sarah Lacy points out, Uber’s strategy is to let the news cycle fade, you move on and don’t change.
Jeff: Right, and I think Sarah Lacy’s piece was over the top but I understand why it was. Because they’re talking about going after her personally and the way that, “nobody will know it’s us” and attacking her.
Leo: She points out they ran a promotion in France that promises to pair Uber riders with hot chicks?
Gina: Yes, that was the piece on sexism and misogyny that she wrote, that Michael was apparently complaining about at that dinner. That’s what kind of pissed him off, right? So Ben called Lacy for comment before he published his story, and she wrote a piece about that. Look, I don’t know, we’re not going to discuss whatever thing it is that Michael was saying he knew and was going to reveal, I have no idea. But she was clearly shaken up and afraid for her kids, her young kids.
Leo: That’s terrible; that’s awful.
Gina: So yes, her piece was clearly -
Leo: That’s a threat.
Gina: Yes. She felt threatened, she felt vulnerable and you could tell.
Leo: What is going on? We are in the middle of the worst bro culture.
Jeff: Well, let’s go to Bill Cosby and that story. (laughter)
Leo: That’s been a long - that’s gone on for decades.
Jeff: Well, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who by the way is the faculty at CUNY, an honored colleague of mine, wrote a really good essay that they had in the Atlantic, which is redundant in his case because all his essays are really good - but saying that he covered Cosby. He followed him for two years as he was doing the shaming of lesser cultural acts back in the day. He knew this stuff was going on back then but he chose not to deal with it, because then he’d have to deal with that whole thing. Mark Whittaker biography chose not to touch on it at all, and Ta-Nehisi said today that he’s had few regrets in his careers, but this is one. At the end of the day, you have to believe one person over 13 people. He says, “I should have dealt with it.” It was eloquent. Yes, you get Jian Ghomeshi at CBC, that’s somebody I knew and was a fan of. You’ve got all these BBC men who have been accused of doing bad things with their public position. It’s a big, bad bro problem here for us men.
Leo: It’s really sad. I thought we were making such great strides.
Jeff: I thought so too. It really is sad.
Gina: It’s funny; I go back and forth about this. On the one hand, I’m like, “We’re making no progress and this is terrible,” right? But then it’s like, “Well, maybe I just know about it more because of the internet. Maybe the system’s working.” What was his name, the comedian that did the bit about Cosby? He calls him out during his bit, which is the thing that kind of got the momentum, but what did he say during his bit? He said, “Go home and Google ‘Cosby rape’, you’ll see I’m right.” That’s how he backed up his claim that these 13 women, or I think 15 now, had accused him.
On one hand, in my more depressed moments, I think, “Yes, we have this huge sexism problem. Nothing is changing. This is just getting worse and worse.” Other times I think, “You know what? The system’s working. People are getting called out. There’s transparency and we’re learning more, talking more. We’re having this conversation where we’re identifying patterns.” We have a lot more information and a lot more conversation about it, and that’s how we make progress. So I don’t know, I try to be optimist about it. Look, his show got cancelled! Right? Both shows, the Netflix special and the BBC show.
Jeff: You know, in all seriousness, this is why you need “Don’t be evil.” You need to empower your employees to say, (whistles) and call you out on it and be licensed to say, “Should we do that?”
Leo: What about the fact - the chat room is bringing this up, the system also allows a lot of false accusations and allegations? They gain the power of truth just because they’ve been published on the internet or Twitter. Do we have a system for really determining what’s true and what’s not?
Gina: Vetting what’s true and what’s not, well -
Jeff: I think over the long run, we kind of do. I think that’s the point is that the truth will out, generally. Can people be, as we’ve talked about this show many times - can people be attacked, impersonated, hounded? Yes, all kinds of bad things can happen. But I think Gina’s right; we have a better system with more checks now for more truth to come out.
Gina: We have tools that empower more people to do that vetting and checking than we ever had before. It was kind of what I was saying a couple of weeks ago, technology isn’t inherently good or evil, it just is. It’s just tools, but I have to believe that the truth will come out if people care enough, eventually. I was outraged that there were that many - I had no idea that these accusations were against Cosby until this guy did this bit. I’m thrilled that he spoke out about it and used his platform. It gained steam, and this is what’s going on. I don’t want to crucify anybody but this is what happened.
Leo: This is why, Jeff, you’re doing the work of the angels. We need, I think, journalists who are really high integrity, who will did and try to - isn’t that originally what this whole point - or maybe it actually isn’t what originally journalism was about, but at some point, you know, in the modern era journalism started to become about people trying to find the objective facts, the objective truth and giving the information to people so they can make judgements. We’ve fallen far from that lofty goal. I don’t know, what do you think, Mister Professor of Journalism? Isn’t that what good journalism - originally journalism was yellow journalism, right? It was always, until very recently, about arguing.
Jeff: Mass journalism. I mean, back before 1605, pardon me for this Gutenberg moment, journalism was private information not made public, but paid for. Then it took from 1605 until the steam press in the 19th century before it became mass. Once it became mass - the idea I keep playing around with lately, and I had lunch with my old editor today, maybe I started thinking about this again. I want to play with the idea of the end of mass. I gave a talk at something called Newsgeist in Phoenix this weekend, which was a great un-conference for my business. I think the root of a lot of the problems we have now in media is the reliance on mass. I don’t say that as a snob, I say that because it’s a business problem. It’s corrupting. You go after page views; you go after traffic; you go after a volume.
A volume-based business is inherently corrupted. But I think that journalism as a service-based business is not. We see some hope there. We see Chartbeat is working with EFT now to sell attention minutes. Tony Hale, the CEO of Chartbeat, is somebody we ought to have on at some point, is quite eloquent on this, on how attention can be a better measure of quality. That’s what Medium and Williams are going after; they’re selling TTR, total time read. They believe in that. It’s not the only way to get us, time spent is not necessarily a great measure, but there are some efforts to flee the quality here. I think though, as we flee away from mass media economics, we may get better. As long as we stay with mass media economics, it just stays pure volume.
Leo: In other words, it promotes click bait and sensationalism. What we would somehow - I would somehow - like to promote, is investigative journalistic class of people who feel like they have kind of a higher calling to ferreting out the truth. The Woodward and Bernstein - see, this is the problem. These allegations fly back and forth. You can get a feeling, and we all have a feeling about Uber that doesn’t feel good. It feels like there’s something wrong, but we don’t really know.
Gina: That’s true.
Jeff: But do we trust the press to get it for us, right?
Leo: We don’t, anymore. I mean, Buzzfeed is the press now.
Jeff: I trust Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith. He watches out for us first.
Leo: Do you? You probably know him, right?
Jeff: Well, I have met him. I think with Buzzfeed, I am very critical of Buzzfeed as a last vestige of mass click bait. But at the same time, Buzzfeed does very good journalism and Ben Smith does as well and, you know, CATS are the new classifieds that subsidize what the good journalists at Buzzfeed do.
Leo: I just am going to have a hard time trusting Buzzfeed as a journalistic source, or Vice, or any of these other so called journalistic sources that are driven by CATS.
Jeff: I generally absolutely agree, I think that’s a corrupting problem and it’s what I said in my book. But then again, I think Smith himself is a good journalist and in this case -
Leo: Vice, too. Both Buzzfeed and Vice do some good journalism but it’s intermingled with crap. I have a hard time -
Jeff: Vice I actually think less of. I think Vice, and by the way, full disclosure, is on December 1st at CUNY - we are giving the Knight Innovation Award in Journalism to Shane Smith of Vice.
Gina: Well, there you go.
Jeff: There you go.
Leo: Maybe Vice has reinvented itself. I think the Vice of today is very different.
Jeff: The Vice of today is doing some really amazing reporting and proving that young people care about their work.
Leo: That’s what they’re doing, is trying to bring young people to real journalistic enterprise.
Jeff: David Carr smashed them, then did a mea culpa and said, “No, Vice is actually okay.” Buzzfeed I generally agree with you, though there is some good stuff there. A vox, which I think is wonderful. Whether I think it goes astray is where it’s still going after some volume page views when it should be trying to explain things. But the business model isn’t there yet.
Leo: Isn’t that kind of the basic problem, that there is no money in the kind of journalism that I’m asking for? Or is there a way to do true, investigative, high integrity journalism and make a living?
Jeff: Yes, there is. But not in the way that it was done before, where you had Pierre Omidyar. His first reflex was to say, “Well, I need a sports section to get audience to my investigative journalism.” No, no, that’s the wrong model. He’s not doing that now; he’s trying to figure out how to do this. We’re not there in the business models yet at all. I definitely think it’s possible, though.
Leo: I think I am just old fashioned. Because if you go to the top of Vice’s page, really great, deep, investigative and important stories, and then as you scroll down they’ve got a lot of sugar in here to get you to - again, the young people particularly - to read it.
Gina: It’s like broccoli wrapped in cotton candy, right?
Leo: “Can swimming with dolphins really cure your meth addiction? Why do Swedish students love yelling so much? Put your hands in the air for World Toilet Day.” In my day you wouldn’t see this mixed in with good journalism. But maybe I just have to get over that.
Jeff: I agree. Well, the other one that bothers me most actually, which starts with very good motives but ends up being very cynical, is Upworthy, highly manipulative.
Leo: Well, I’m not going to read Upworthy for news.
Jeff: They’re trying to get young people to do just that, because they’re trying to say, “This will change your life.” Once you know it doesn’t change your life, you don’t believe them any more.
Leo: By the way, Vice has an article, “All the Reasons Why Uber is the Worst.” (laughter)
Gina: There you go. It’s a listicle linking to all the critical journalism that others have done elsewhere.
Leo: Right next to the human billboards of New York City. But, okay.
Gina: You know, this is interesting. Part of it is the rise of social media, the fact that people go to their Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline to get their news. They hop from thing to thing. I think TWiT is so interesting to me, Leo, because you do long shows with in-depth discussions like we’re having now. Because I think your audience is primarily the audio listeners, right, from downloading the podcast, they’re typically commuters or folks at the gym - people who are in a position where they can hop from one listicle to another. One Upworthy curiosity gap headline to another on their newsfeed, right?
But you’ve kind of got this in-depth content. I love that you’re living your values by doing the shows the way that you do them. I know that when we’ve had this discussion, how does video and podcast go viral? They don’t, right? There isn’t a virality that can happen in this sort of medium. There’s an in-depthness that can happen. I don’t really know what the answer is. If you’re an advertising based business, by its nature has to go after as many eyeballs as possible in order to support itself. So it has to be free and it has to involve kitten listicles.
Leo: Really? It has to? You know, I often think it’s just a matter of time before I’m going to have to retire, because the world has left me behind. Maybe I’m just too old for this.
Gina: I didn’t mean for it to go there. I was congratulating you on doing the in-depth talking.
Jeff: Good work, Gina. You completely overtired him.
Leo: I need big listicles. That’s what we need, big listicles!
Gina: Kitten listicles. (laughter)
Leo: Kitten listicles!
Jeff: If you did This Week in Cats, you would get two week’s traffic and then everyone would yell at you and abandon you. The point is, you have a relationship and trust with your audience. They’re more than an audience, they’re your friends and community. That’s the future.
Gina: You have a super engaging audience. I can’t keep up with the chat room while we talk.
Leo: I know!
Gina: This is a live audience; it’s amazing what goes on here. When I explain this to people who don’t watch live, they’re like, “Oh, that’s crazy.”
Leo: Somebody in the chat room is saying, “I didn’t realize there was video, this is the first time I’ve ever seen video of TWiG.”
Leo: Doesn’t Gina look adorable in her furred hoodie?
Gina: It’s cold here, you guys. I’m frightened and scared because Leo’s retiring.
Leo: No, I’m not, I’m not. I do that to scare the kids.
Jeff: Do you shop at Uniqlo, Gina?
Gina: I’ve actually resisted it because -
Leo: I see there’s one as I drive to the airport in San Francisco. It’s what, a Chinese…?
Jeff: No, it’s Japanese. It’s like the IKEA of clothes. I love Uniqlo.
Leo: Really, you love Uniqlo? That’s uniqlo.com if you to have a look.
Jeff: It’s phenomenal, $20 hoodies and fleeces. (crosstalk)
Leo: It is like IKEA. But you don’t wear this stuff, do you?
Jeff: I do, I do. I wear the incredibly light fleece.
Leo: Is that the HeatTech?
Jeff: No, that one supposedly as you sweat warms you up.
Leo: I don’t like that idea.
Gina: It’s good basic layering material if you’re cold. I got to go check this out. I’ve seen there’s one in the Atlantic Center, I think.
Jeff: They’ve got a really nice fuzzy hoodie there you’ll love, Gina.
Leo: I see, look at this.
Gina: I can’t resist a good fuzzy hoodie.
Leo: “Our outerwear outperforms the cold.” Yeah, baby.
Gina: Yeah. (laughter)
Leo: Now this is sexy! Aw, stretch down jacket, ooh!
Gina: Stay Puft Marshmallows!
Leo: I love those marshmallow jackets.
Gina: Whatever it takes, hat hair, I’ll do the whole thing. Red nose, I don’t care.
Leo: You don’t appreciate them till you’re in the cold and then you go, “Wow! These are great.”
Jeff: So Leo, what about you and Uber?
Leo: Well, like I said, I’ve only ridden Uber twice. It was in Paris. The second time I was cheated by the driver, who said, “I don’t know, the application has crashed, I don’t know how much you owe me.” I said, “What should I pay you?” He says, “50 Euros.” I was ripped off, so that’s the last -
Gina: No, I thought you didn’t pay. Isn’t it supposed to just charge you through the app?
Leo: Yes, but the app had crashed, he said. It’s France. You don’t expect Uber to work in France, do you?
Gina: He snowed you.
Leo: He snowed me. What am I going to do? I can’t, “Well, I’m not going to pay you.” I didn’t want to do that. I just threw 50 Euros at him and ran.
Gina: In France, I can see if there was a language issue, which there would be for me, I can see how using an app would be a lot easier than money you - (crosstalk)
Leo: Uber had just come to Paris. This was at LaWebb. We don’t have Uber up here, although I think Jennifer uses Uber a lot. I know people who use Uber a lot, I guess when they go to San Francisco. Do you use it, Jason, in San Francisco?
Jason: No, I’ve never used Uber, though I will say we had Phil Nickenson and Mateo Doney on All About Android and they came and went back using Uber. They were able to get Uber in Sonoma.
Leo: You press the button and it says, “There will be an Uber car there in an hour and a half.”
Jason: They waited ten minutes; it was here pretty fast.
Leo: Maybe it’s here now. I ain’t - no. But I don’t want to take Lift either. That looks weird.
Gina: That mustache thing.
Leo: I don’t want a pink mustache on my car.
Gina: It’s not really my vibe.
Leo: I like yellow cabs. I just like a yellow cab. That’s all I want, just a yellow cab.
Gina: Although at some point they installed screens in yellow cabs here in New York -
Leo: They talk at you! “Hi, this is Mayor Michael Blumberg and welcome!”
Gina: Yes, and it’s the worst touch screen ever and you have to jab at it to turn it off a million times.
Jeff: There was a great episode of The Good Wife from about a season ago where Gablazio wouldn’t shut up in the cab.
Gina: I remember that one! In fact, Uber was just on the last episode. Without giving anything away, I know you’re watching it now, but there was an Uber mention on the last episode of The Good Wife, which is a fantastic show in terms of technology references. There was a moment where they were like, “Did you take a cab?” and he said, “Yeah, I took an Uber.” They said, “Give me your phone; we want to see the route you took.” I was like, oh.
Leo: The Good Wife seems to be really up on all the latest issues of privacy and so forth.
Gina: It’s a great show. There’s a fake Google, ChumHum is the name of the search engine in the show. There’s this ongoing case of ChumHum being a monopoly and using their powers to rank results in the search engine unfairly.
Leo: Oh, wow.
Gina: They rip the situations directly from the news.
Leo: Tony Lange has just -
Jeff: Was it last season or the season before, the NSA snoops?
Jeff: Do you watch it, Leo?
Leo: No, I’ve never seen it.
Jeff: I gave up on it because I missed the first six episodes and went, “Oh, I’ll never catch up.” I’m now binge watching last season to this season from the beginning. I’m going to watch the whole damn thing.
Leo: I intentionally miss episodes because I want to binge watch everything.
Jeff: It’s great.
Gina: I highly recommend. One of the NSA snoops is the guy who plays Jared in Silicon Valley on HBO. It’s great.
Leo: He is also one of the voices in Big Hero 6. Is it Jared? It’s the guy with the funny, weird beard?
Gina: Oh, no. Jared was the business manager guy, the guy who got sent out on the barge.
Leo: Oh, he’s great. He’s also in The Loop, that wonderful movie based on in the thick of it. We’re going to take a break so Jeff can go answer the door. He has been told his Nexus 6 is on the truck.
Jeff: I keep on refreshing - it’s like refreshing, do I have a new operating system? I’m refreshing; do I have a new phone?
Leo: Thanks to Tony Lange, I’m going to have a tool of the week this week that comes from Uniqlo. How do you like that? How do you like them apples? That’s a little later on. You know, it’s weird because Jason Howl, host of All About Android and our producer today, was the guy who was refreshing right and left from the day the Nexus 6 went online and available. He got in the first 30 seconds and bought one. So you got it sooner than anybody else. I, some weeks later, learned that every Wednesday they put a few more on sale and I was able to snag one on the Play Store. But Jeff, where did you get yours?
Jason: Okay, yes.
Jeff: Two TWiG fans on Twitter, God bless you both, alerted me. I went on, I seemed to have bought it, but at the very end at checkout it said, “It’s no longer for sale.” So I just refreshed, and I had two. I tried to delete the right one, and I had it, boom. It’s on a truck. It’s in New Jersey.
Leo: It’s odd, because Jeff ordered it the most recently and he’s going to get his first.
Jason: He’s going to get his. You’re going to get yours. Yours was ordered a week after mine. I was there at the front gates and I got in, and I’m waiting, and it hasn’t even showed up. There’s no rhyme or reason here.
Jeff: Mine shipped from China.
Leo: Mine shipped from Lexington, Kentucky, oddly enough. They’re all coming on UPS, right? No, yours is FedEx.
Leo: Mine’s UPS… and Jason’s ships on Thursday.
Jason: I’m convinced mine’s never coming. Mine’s never going to come.
Gina: Apparently T-Mobile has it as well.
Jason: Yes, everybody has it.
Leo: Don’t worry. We had Kevin Tofel on last week, he had his. I’m starting to hear that the battery life, like on all these QHD display, these Quad HD displays, is not the greatest.
Jeff: Really? (crosstalk)
Leo: Stick with your OnePlus One.
Jeff: This OnePlus One really is -
Leo: It’s unbelievable.
Jeff: It’s just phenomenal.
Gina: It’s awesome. I love this phone.
Leo: We have a clear winner in battery life, that’s OnePlus One.
Jeff: Oh boy, do we. It’s as if it sets the standard for battery life.
Leo: It’s because it’s a 1080p screen. If any of these big screen guys were 1080p, it’d be fine. But they decided, “Well, we’ve got more battery. Let’s throw more pixels at it.”
Jeff: “More power, more power!”
Leo: I’m curious if Lollipop’s going to make that better or not. In theory, Lollipop does, but I’m curious.
Jeff: Speaking of Lollipop, did either of you get it on your Nexus 7?
Gina: No. I dug up my Nexus 7, which is the original Nexus 7 and I hadn’t looked at it in awhile. That thing is just slow. It had a ton of updates to get through, but it’s stuttery and slow.
Jeff: You know what I did? I put mine in my briefcase next to a magnet and it ruined the pixels.
Gina: Oh no!
Jeff: I loved this thing so much; I ordered another one before they go out of stock.
Leo: I have my second generation here, I brought it in and I’m keeping it charged on wireless. I love Qi charging, by the way, you got to love that. So it’s just sitting on the dock there and every once in a while I check. We know now, though, thanks to a post on Reddit by a Google engineer, the story of the updates. I will tell you the story of the updates when we come back. Why you are getting an update, but you aren’t, so on and so forth. We now know the truth about all of this.
But first, a word from our friends at SmartThings. SmartThings is a wonderful Kickstarter project to create a hub for your Smart Home that would understand everything you have in the Smart Home and allow you to set up a Smart, automated system without a lot of muss and fuss to give you home security, to allow you to control things like your lights and music. SmartThings is so cool. You get a notification is someone you don’t know tries to enter your house or get an alert to prevent a small leak from becoming a major flood with moisture sensors. Control and automate your lights and small appliances wherever you go. Stay connected to your family by getting notifications of when people come and go. Protect valuable items in secure areas that are off limits. SmartThings is so cool, and of course you control it all with a mobile app on your iPhone or Android device. They have a huge number of sensors, but it all starts with the SmartThings hub. In fact, a great way to start is to work with the kits that they offer. They have a variety of security kits, but also kits designed to get things done, like the water detection kit I mentioned, which has the sensors to detect moisture. You can get instant Push or text notifications whenever moisture is found in a particular area - a basement, a stairwell, a laundry room. You can monitor temperatures if you’re worried about the pipes freezing in your cabin or Brooklyn home. You can have notifications there. This is the nicest thing about SmartThings - if you’ve got a nest thermostat, a Honeywell or Ion, it talks to those too. You can use the SmartThings hub and units, but you can also use Dropcan, Sonos, the Phillips Hue, Logitech and of course your nest thermostat. Furthermore, if you’re a developer you can also create new ways to use SmartThings and publish them for everyone else to use. I can just go on and on. It works with your Schlage locks, your quickset locks, your train heating system, your Sonos, your Foscam, your Belkin, with your Wi-things. We’ve got solution kits starting at $170 for TWiT fans, home security kits starting at $350. Each of them, of course, starts with the hub and then has the devices you need to add additional capabilities. You’ll be getting a Smart Home in less than 15 minutes, plus free shipping within the US. SmartThings.com/twit and the deal is to use the offer code TWIT10 at checkout to get 10% off any home security or solution kit. TWIT10 at checkout. SmartThings.com/twit. It’s such a good solution. Did you get your Kickstarter reward, yet? Didn’t you buy it on Kickstarter?
Gina: I did, I backed the Kickstarter a while ago, it was like September 2012. So I got my kit a long time ago and I’m pretty sure the version I’ve got is out of date at this point than the ones they’re shipping. It was an early prototype.
Leo: It’s so much improved, yes.
Gina: It’s awesome. I loved SmartThings from the get go. I had it hooked up to my mailbox outside, so when they mail got dropped in, I got a Push Notification on my phone, which was awesome. It’s a great product.
Leo: Or when the FedEx guy throws your Nexus 6 over the fence, then you’ll know it’s here. “Katie has just arrived home from school.” This is so cool. She has in her backpack a little thing that’s a presence sensor, and you’ll get a notification when your kids arrive back from school and that kind of thing. It’s just so neat.
Gina: I had one on the stroller so I knew when she went out on a walk.
Leo: It’s really the coolest thing ever. I don’t know what this guy’s doing, but - (laughter). SmartThings.com/twit.
Yes, so a good posting by a Google Engineer on Reddit. It kind of cleared up a little bit - so many people, and it’s still happening now, we’re so anxious to get Android 5.0 Lollipop on their Nexus 5, their Nexus 4, their Nexus 7, their Motorola X, that they were downloading the JAR files and trying to install them. He posted, “PSA: Do not clear data for Google’s service framework.” So a lot of people are doing this, apparently. It just screws everything up, but furthermore explained, “Here’s how these rollouts work.” Did I explain this last week?
Leo: I explained it on TWiT. I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself; I’m getting old. So what he said is - here’s how it works. They’ve got the new Lollipop 5. It has been tested, the releases are out, they’ve even released the full APK - I guess it’s a JAR file, for each of the phones. So if you really wanted to you can install it, but don’t. What they do first is they roll it out to 1%, randomly. He said, “It doesn’t matter how much you press refresh.” Remember how we were wondering last week if pressing refresh could screw it up? Asking too many times, “Can I have the update?” He said it doesn’t matter. He said you’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus. If you’re on the bus, you’re in the 1% and you’ll get it. If not, you can refresh as many times as you want, you’re not going to get it and it’s not going to make it any worse. Because if there are no big, massive bugs - we’ve heard a couple but I don’t think there’s any massive bugs. In the next week, and this is the next week now, I think, 25% will get it.
Gina: That’s a big jump.
Leo: Yes. So now, 26% of all owners of Moto X, Nexus 5 or Nexus 4 should probably have Lollipop or will get it in the next day or so. The next jump is another 25% and then the final 25%. So it takes three or four weeks to roll out the whole thing. There’s nothing you can do; you can’t force the update. You can side load it but it seems to me side loading causes some issues.
Gina: I mean everybody’s 1% is actually quite a few users. It makes sense that they would stage the rollout. Honestly, I maybe don’t want to be on the 1%, the coal mine of people. Because with software, you can really test and test - this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again, you never see the bug or the bug doesn’t happen until actual users get it. Then you want to jump off a cliff. So that makes sense that they do 1%, although we were saying last night on All About Android - or at least I was saying, you know, I wish that Google could just detect the people who are manually tapping “Check Now” because those are the people who really care and really want it. They could just win so many hearts by putting those people in the 1%. You know what I’m saying, or the first 25%.
Jeff: There ought to be a fans’ club that if you’re a loyal user you get early takeoff. If I’ve bought every damn Nexus product they have, and I have, and if you happen to have written a kiss-ass book about the company, and I have - at least you get the stuff early.
Gina: Yes, some sort of opt in super fans.
Leo: But, and all companies do this, you can be a superman if you get in the beta program or whatever. But understand, you’re also cannon fodder. You’re the first one over the hill.
Jeff: That’s true.
Gina: Maybe they don’t want us to have - (crosstalk)
Leo: They want a superman to stay happy.
Gina: They don’t want us to be talking about the buggy, ill release that they got.
Gina: “Don’t upgrade to Lollipop, it’s really buggy.” It’s ignorance.
Leo: This one is from Jeff Jarvis, I’m guessing. It’s to Google. Google now joins dumb TV news reports in what we’ve long known - Thanksgiving holiday traffic.
Gina: Are they going to have somebody standing - what’s it called? A stand outer, a stand in, a stander?
Leo/Jeff: A standup.
Gina: A standup.
Leo: “I’m standing in front of I-5 and it’s a mess!”
Jeff: They went through all this magnificent data and told us, “Guess what? Wednesday has a lot of traffic.”
“Thanks, Google.” (laughter)
Leo: But you’ve got to admit, the infographic -
Jeff: “Is everybody going to shop on the day after Thanksgiving? Why don’t you tell me that?”
Leo: The infographic was well done, right? But interestingly, Boston is Tuesday, Honolulu is Saturday, Providence is Saturday, and San Francisco is Saturday. So there are exceptions. If you must leave on Wednesday, skip the rush. This is just an infographic exercise.
We actually had fun on Monday, if you get the chance to watch Triangulation, I interviewed Garreth Coke, who’s the author of The Best Infographics of 2014. There’s some really good ones. We talked about bad infographics, like debate infographics and all that, but there are some really nice - it can be done well. Good news for local travelers, Thanksgiving Day traffic is a breeze. They have a turkey and a car. (laughter)
Gina: The turkey’s trying to get away from the table.
Leo: “Run, run!”
Gina: “Get me out of here!”
Leo: It says, “Thanksgiving Day traffic is breezy, it usually has the least traffic of the entire week; for the traffic gurus looking to best even the lightest traffic days, make sure you stay off the road between noon and 2 on Thanksgiving Day.” That’s not clear, I don’t understand what they’re saying. “Even the lightest…” That is actually crappy, whatever they wrote there, because I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do. “Stay off the road between noon and 2,” it’s the best day for good traffic?
Leo: Let me read this again. “Thanksgiving Day traffic is breezy, it usually has the least traffic of the entire week; for the traffic gurus looking to best even the lightest traffic days, make sure you stay off the road between noon and 2 on Thanksgiving Day.”
Gina: So they’re saying, on the best day, the worst two hours are between 12 and 2.
Leo: Thank you for translating.
Gina: Right? That’s what it sounds like.
Leo: See, this is the intelligence that you bring to ThinkUp. I can’t parse what the hell these people are saying in 140 characters. I don’t understand.
Gina: Basically, my entire fulltime job is trying to come up with a sentence that somebody would say in conversation, expressing what a piece of data means. It’s not easy.
Leo: You’re doing a deal, by the way. We should mention this. What’s the website we should go to?
Gina: Thank you. It’s GoodWebBundle.com. We’re doing a holiday promotion. ThinkUp got together with four of our favorite sites - MlkShk, Metafilter, Toast and NewsBlur and we’re offering something similar to Humble Bundle - not affiliated with Humble Bundle - in that you can buy a 1-year membership to all these sites in one shot for $96, which sounds like a lot of money but if you paid for them normal price outside of the bundle it would be almost $200. So it’s about 50% off. These are just a bunch of sites giving the Uber story and the model of startup that's super funded and trying to take over the world using all these crazy tactics. I think there are still a lot of small businesses on the web that are run through donations and through subscriptions, and I count my company as one of those, so this is one way to support sites like that, and hopefully one of these sites you've never heard of before, you discover something good. If you buy the bundle, you get a coupon code and you can use it on all five sites. If you already have a membership, you can give it away to a friend. Great gift for your online hero. So it's goodwebbundle.com; it's a one-time deal year's membership to five really great sites. Thanks Leo. Thanks for letting me plug it.
Leo: What's the update on MetaFilter? Wasn't Matt going to retire it? What happened?
Gina: MetaFilter had—It actually just redesigned. Look how beautiful it looks. It looks amazing.
Leo: It's so nice. It needed this a little bit. It hadn't changed much in years.
Gina: It did. Well, MetaFilter is a really interesting story of how Google ranking really affects a business. MetaFilter was running—actually, they were a case study for Google AdSense. Google made them a case-study, and there was a page on Google describing how great MetaFilter did in terms of running Google ads and they made some changes to their algorithm, they started to de-rank older pages so Ask MetaFilter for example, is a fantastic resource, but there were threads that were old that were certainly content that was perfectly good, but the pages were just old or hadn't updated in a while, and they got de-ranked and their revenue took a big hit. So, Matt had to size down his staff, and he did a donation of Push earlier this year, and they got back on their feet and they did this beautiful redesign, which you can see. I think they even launched a new TV-centered MetaFilter site. It's doing well. It's on stable ground right now. Yeah. FanFare. That's the new MetaFilter site. All the MetaFilter sites are great. I mean this is a site that's been around—Matt was running MetaFilter on a single box underneath his desk back when he was working on Blogger in 1999. This is an old school—he's always running independently with a staff of moderators. All these sites do read the comments. None of these sites tolerate abusive behavior. Fantastic conversations go on here.
Leo: I just love MetaFilter. It's been so good for so many years.
Gina: MetaFilter is great. It's such a great well-moderated, fairly moderated, and ardently moderated community. It's fantastic, so we're really happy that they're in the Bundle with us, and they're a fantastic site to support.
Leo: So basically you'll be buying a supporting membership, which is great.
Gina: Exactly. So on MetaFilter—each site you get a little something different. On MetaFilter you get an almost supporting member badge on your account, so people can see that you helped fund the site. But through the bundle you can get that at half the suggested donation amount for a year.
Leo: This is awesome. And the random thing is fun, because it's their entire life of MetaFilter, so there's stuff from the year 2000. Fun.
Gina: It's crazy. Yeah, it's been around 14 years. More than that I think.
Leo: More than that.
Gina: MetaFilter is an amazing case study of what a dude who started a FirstGroup blog could do. Built an entire career and business model.
Jeff: I remember back in earlier days, he had existential crises at various points in the life of MetaFilter, and has kept going on with value added. It really is a great story, as you say, about how you can adapt to these changes.
Gina: Yeah. He really has reckoned with some of the hardest moments. I think there were a few moments of being shut down. He had offers to be bought, which he never did. He is the guru on great community moderation, and he struggled with ads, and he struggled with dealing with what a change to Google's algorithm can do to his business, and he's really come out on top, and it's an amazing community. It's really old school, amazing community.
Leo: You know, I can tell how much I like MetaFilter, because unfortunately I'm starting to read the articles, like I've got to read that one. All right. So if you want to support a lot of really great stuff, the Good Web Bundle would be a great holiday gift. And, if you already have a ThinkUp subscription as I do, you can give that offer code to somebody else. You can unbundle the bundle.
Gina: Exactly. If you only want two of the sites, you take the two you want and give the other two away.
Leo: And you're supporting some really great sites. I was looking at Mlkshk before the show. That's fun.
Gina: Yeah. MlkShk is really fun. MlkShk is one of those under sung heroes.
Leo: I've never heard of them.
Gina: Not a lot of people know about it. Yeah, you haven't heard of them. It's made by a husband and wife team—Andre and Amber. It's got so much personality, and fun, and it's really well designed. Actually, Andre is at Slack now, but yeah. There's some great content there. So we're really happy to team up with them as well.
Leo: I don't know—
Gina: Uh oh. We're losing Leo to MlkShk.
Leo: MlkShk is like people put images up and share them. It's kind of like Pinterest for images. It's got a wicked sense of humor.
Gina: Yeah. You create a Shake, and it's a stream of images, and the community it attracted just happens to be really big on animated gifs and funny, quirky, humorous images.
Leo: I'm going to buy this bundle, because already that's three sites now I love. This is awesome, and a great site for discovery. So our show today brought to you by prosper.com. This is Silicon Valley's answer to going into the bank with a hat in hand for a loan. You got to put on a tie and you've got to look nice. Prosper is a way to get money, to borrow money, without doing any of that. It's a peer to peer lending marketplace, connecting people who are looking to borrow money with people who have money to lend. Such a great idea. If you go to prosper.com/twit right now, you'll be able to fill out a quick application and find out exactly how much money you can get, and what your rate will be. There aren't a lot of ways to borrow money when you need it. I guess you can go to friends and family or a credit card, that's a bad idea, or go to the bank, but now with a low fixed rate loan from prosper.com, you can pay off those high rate credit cards, you can fix up your house for the holidays. You can put it into your business or start a business. Borrow up to 35,000 dollars and in as few as five days and use the money as you need. These are fixed-rate loans, multi-year terms available, no collateral needed. They're personal loans. Prosper is an online marketplace, connecting those who need money with those who want to invest. Don't rack up more debt on your credit cards this holiday season. Pay them off with prosper.com. Check your rate without affecting your good credit. Go to prosper.com/twit, and for a limited time, Prosper is offering Twit viewers a $50 Visa prepaid card when you get a loan. prosper.com/twit. It's a special site just for you. prosper.com/twit. Up to $35,000 in just five days, plus that $50 Visa prepaid card. It's waiting for you. prosper.com/twit. And now, it's time for the Google Change Log.
THE GOOGLE CHANGE LOG.
Leo: Here's Gina Trapani with the latest from Google.
Gina: This is something I'm really excited about. I love Google Keep. Fantastic note taking app with a fantastic widget, works on Android and the Web. Well, one of the most requested features that they get for Keep just rolled out. You can now share notes and collaborate in real time on Keep Notes. This is really awesome, you guys. If you need to share a grocery list with your—
Leo: This is exactly what I want to use this for.
Gina: Yes, exactly.
Leo: And it checks it off as you’re in the store buying stuff. Lisa will see that I got it.
Gina: Exactly. Very cool stuff.
Jeff: Way back in the day, I worked with a German company that was going to do that on the web, this was back in 1999, and it was always a great idea, and now it's finally done.
Gina: Yeah. I make a to-do app, and there's tons of apps out there that let you collaborate and there's note-taking apps and there's list apps. I have to say I love Keep because it's tied to your Google account, it's really lightweight. I actually use Ever Note and Keep, but it's great for collaborating without asking somebody—I guess you do have to download the Keep App, but you don't have to sign up. It's really simple and easy and lightweight. You can add check boxes, remove check boxes, so the sharing collaboration is really nice. You can also filter your notes by color, because you can change notes to a color, whether or not they have images or audio, whether or not they're shared, so it's easy for you to sort out your notes and see the ones that you're sharing with your coworkers or better half or whatever. So really nice. And it's got that reminder built in. Love Keep. I feel like Keep is one of Google's most under sung products, actually.
Jeff: Right. You're right.
Gina: A couple of other little nice upgrades: Google's search results on mobile now let you know if the site is mobile friendly. So if you do a search and you get your search results on your phone—on your mobile device, you'll see a little label that says "mobile friendly" if the site that it's linking to is mobile friendly, if it looks good on a small screen.
Leo: Does that mean it's a mobile site, or just mobile responsive? Would that count?
Gina: Yeah, I think that responsive would count, and I would love to know the story behind how they're automatically detecting this, actually. So it doesn't appear to be just sites that has an M, you know, mobile.whatever.com.
Leo: Yeah, because that's not the modern web anymore.
Gina: That isn't the modern web, you're right. The modern web are the sites that are responsive and just change the screen. It doesn't appear to be that. So really nice way to choose what sites you go through based on whether or not they're going to look good on your phone. Similar change. Weather is now in Google maps. I tried this out with a couple of places and got mixed results. I searched for London, England and I got a screen shot there and didn't see the weather, but then I searched for Brooklyn, New York and I did get the weather. Anyway, it's a little GoogleNow style card, right below the place you search for that will tell you what the weather is there, so I can look at places in California and be jealous of how sunny and gorgeous it is there, while I shiver here in Brooklyn. I think it was last week that I talked about—or two weeks that I talked about how Google search on mobile— you can flip a coin and say, "OK Google. Flip a coin." And it will flip a coin for you. There are a couple other ones there. It didn't work when we tried it live on the show because we hadn't gotten the update, yet. It does work for me now, Leo. It probably does for you as well.
Leo: Oh Good.
Gina: There's also "Roll a die." So Google will roll a six-sided die for you.
Leo: Oh they will? Oh Good.
Gina: They will.
Leo: Not a twenty sided, though. I can't get that.
Gina: I wonder. I didn't try "roll a 20 sided die." We should maybe try that. It's six by default.
Leo: Let me see if we can— Roll a 20-sided die. OK Google. Oh, shut up. My timing is everything. Roll a 20-sided die. No. Shoot.
Gina: Oh, so close. I was so sure that was going to work.
Leo: You know I'm using a Galaxy Note. Maybe Google's just not up to date on that. I don't know what's going on now.
Gina: Ooooh. It's translating.
Leo: Thinking. Can't reach Google at the moment.
Gina: Can't reach Google at the moment. Woah.
Leo: I hate it when that happens. Roll a die.
Gina: It didn't work. You must not have gotten the update. See I did the same thing I did to you last week. The other thing that you can do, Game of Thrones fans, just google Hodor. It'll talk back to you.
Leo: I love that.
Jeff: Is it working this week? We tried last week. It didn't work.
Gina: It did. It worked for me this time around.
Leo: Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. See? Now my watch is listening? So confusing. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. And the phone gets kind of snarky and says, "You shouldn't be talking to me while your watch is listening." OK. There you go. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor Hodor. I love Hodor. Hodor?
Gina: Anyway. So I'm a sucker for these Easter eggs. These are ways to impress your friends and family at Thanksgiving, folks. So, there you go. Google tricks for turkey day.
Jeff: Who's Hodor? What's Hodor? What are you talking about? Hodor?
Gina: That's all I got.
Leo: And that's the Google change log. HODOR. You know, I think that Hodor thing, people aren't going to know what that means in a few years.
Gina: Yeah, it's probably a fleeting thing. Do they still have the Klingon? I think they probably still have Google in Klingon.
Leo: That's another one that's really just kind of nerdy fun.
Leo: Hodor, for those of you who don't know, is a character in Game of Thrones that can say but one thing, and that thing is Hodor. It's also his name.
Gina: They should do it for Groot.
Leo: Groot. Same thing. I am Groot.
Gina: I am Groot.
Leo: It's all he can say. But he says it in such an expressive way you know what he's talking about. By the way, Ingress is two years old.
Gina: Time flies.
Leo: Remember when we were all like, "I want to get an invite. I want to play Ingress." Several of our staffers play Ingress and log miles playing the thing. It's crazy. In fact, here's the inphographic. Hypothesis. Google GPS based game: cracking the code on healthier lifestyle, Urban exploration and discovery. 200+ countries, 64 million resonators deployed. 178 million portals visited. Are the portals all geographic locations? They must be, right? 52,000 event attendants. 127,000,000 KM walked. Ingress as you play it logs your distance traveled, so that's pretty awesome. Pretty awesome.
Gina: Yeah, that is pretty great. Good for them.
Leo: I get it. 3,000,000 portals created, 178,000,000 visited.
Voice: I'm even more overwhelmed by the thought of playing Ingress now than I was two years ago when it was introduced. It seems like a world that I don't just know if I'm willing to commit to.
Leo: That's what happens. If you got it at the beginning, but Jeff Needles plays it, and he walks miles. Padre plays it. It's really kind of, the whole time when we first saw this, we surmised it was some kind of Google plan to gather location information. In fact, I think it was a Google plan to get everybody walking. Love it.
Gina: Or so they want us to think.
Leo: Yeah, who knows what they're up to.
ADVERTISMENT: What was the meta fact of the Niantic project? We have crossed a threshold. Your security could be at risk. Ingress is not a game. It's like some psychosis or some cognitive break but an actual—
Leo: So Niantic labs, which created this, is inside Google, right? Is this 20% project, or is this an actual—is this a business? I don't know what's going on with my sound.
ADVERTISEMENT: To monitor the effects of mind hacking. Obviously this will be done with the highest of security.
Leo: It's really a neat idea.
Gina: It is. I found it a little too all-consuming to play, but people love it. I just got places to go. Walking around—I just—I couldn't. It wasn't my thing, but I totally get it, and I love that people love it.
Leo: If I lived in the city like you do, I would be more likely to use it. The problem—
Gina: Yeah, and in fact I should re-visit it now that I'm living in Brooklyn. Because I found that being in San Diego which was not nearly as walkable as here, it was not easy to play.
Leo: dotgetglass in our chatroom points out that Niantic is also the company that did Field Trip, which is a similar idea, but field trip will give you narration as you wander your town about sites of interest, which is also a great idea.
Gina: Yeah, I had to turn off field trip in New York because it buzzed so much. Every other block was something something had been filmed or something historical.
Leo: Yeah. There's about five in Petaluma that kept coming up.
Jeff: Leo Laporte is here! Leo Laporte is there! Leo Laporte—
Leo: Did you know that Finding the Abbotts was shot here in 1987? Relative Wave. They do a Mac app called Form, an interaction design and prototyping app, was just acquired by Google. It's an $80 app design tool, and Google is now going to give it away. That's very interesting news. I haven't used Form. It's for designers and developers. It doesn't make an app, but it lets you design an app. Does that make sense?
Gina: Right. So the user interface. So you can lay out your screens and put down your buttons and your drop downs.
Leo: It's certainly the first stage to making an app. It just doesn't let you put code in there. It's an I.A. right?
Gina: It's I.A. right. And contrary to popular belief, that's the hardest part. Getting that right is the hardest part. Writing the code is just filling in the blanks.
Leo: We're doing it right now for the new Twit website, and it is. It's fascinating.
Gina: So you're doing all java script API's? And node? So the front end is going to be like a client that consumes the—it sounds amazing. Oh is it? Oh sorry.
Gina: I approve.
Leo: I approve too. It feels modern. It feels very modern. And the reason we did this is because we realized that the web is not so important is it used to be, that really we see most of the consumers of our content doing it on mobile. So what we want to do is have an API that can be consumed by a variety of things: a website is just one. A mobile app would be another, and we're going to make a public API so that if you would like to write a little Ruby or Python or something, you'll be able to write a little app if you want, because the API is public and freely available. So you'll be able to query— you know, right now there is an API in effect to all podcasts, it's the RSS feed. But this is going to go so much more beyond that.
Gina: Yeah, it's so limited, right? That's great. That's awesome, Leo.
Gina: Yeah designing an API can be hard, but that's great.
Leo: I'm excited. The Four Kitchens guys are great—gals and guys are great. So there's two phases of development. There's the API development, the Groupel development, and then there's the UI for the website development. So we're in the middle of the information architecture, the AI for the website right now.
Gina: Right. Because that's really going to define your API, right? You want to design from the outside in.
Leo: It's a two way street. So we also talked to app developers, we also talked to—what would an API have? In fact, we consume it internally. We have a program we use called ELRO that is the generator of the content in the feeds and stuff. So the editor, when he finishes editing the show, he creates a mezzanine file, which is a high quality file, which he then gives ELRO, and he puts all the meta data in ELRO, that's going to start moving to Drupal, but he feeds that to ELRO, and ALRO churns and makes all the different versions and uploads it to YouTube and the CDN. It posts the—creates a feed and posts it and does all this stuff automatically. So ELRO will also be a consumer—
Gina: Very nice. That's exciting.
Leo: It seems like the right way to do it.
Gina: Yeah. It sounds good to me. I'm sold.
Leo: It seemed like a good idea at the time. We'll see if we're sold in a year. It's definitely the right way to do it. And you know what it all came from is that the web moves so fast you can no longer, you don't want to do a redesign every six months or a year, it's too expensive.
Gina: It makes a lot of sense to separate the front end from the back end. And have clients. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense.
Leo: Yeah. It makes sense in my mind.
Jeff: Is this a newsflash? I just saw a tweet that Firefox is—renewal of Google as default worldwide search came up. In the US it's going to be Yahoo search.
Leo: Wow. That's a huge story.
Leo: And I'll tell you why that's a huge story, because Mozilla, the nonprofit open source foundation that does Firefox, makes millions every year from Google. Like tens of millions.
Jeff: How does this work, I wonder.
Leo: So, and the reason is that that's the default search in that little search window, or actually it'll be in the awesome bar, that's where you go. And those search results, Google gives a cut of money made from those search results to Mozilla, and that's been what's kept the foundation going. So that's a shocker.
Jeff: It is.
Gina: Well Yahoo must be paying them as much. No? I mean for them to leave.
Jeff: I guess that's—
Leo: Maybe more.
Jeff: Well the cash is—
Leo: Maybe more. You know, Firefox seems to be moving in the direction of being the privacy browser. Just as Apple is distinguishing itself from Android, "Well we care about your privacy, Google doesn't." Firefox lately seems to be doing the same, so it makes sense that they might move away from Google, not that Yahoo is in anyway going to protect your privacy.
Gina: I kind of expected DuckDuckGo to announce something with Firefox.
Leo: One of the things Firefox did do yesterday in the latest version is make DuckDuckGo an easy choice in their search. It's one of the default searches.
Gina: Yep. That makes sense.
Leo: That is a breaking story. Big story.
Jeff: The other story I find fascinating, if I may, is the Google project that auto captions photos. You see that one in the rundown?
Leo: How do they know?
Jeff: One of the photos is "two dogs running." Well—
Leo: Isn't this the beginning of Skynet? Really?
Jeff: It's pretty amazing if they can start to interpret images. Look at some of those examples. Two Hockey players fighting over the puck. Well that you can pretty much say on anybody who has a mascot.
Leo: Now can I get this? Or is this something internal?
Jeff: This is a project right now. It's a project. But this is pretty phenomenal that this kind of recognition of images and translation into searchable, analyzable, findable text. A heard of elephants walking across a dry, grass field.
Gina: Yeah. That's some smarts. They're turning the knowledge graph inside out, right? They're showing us—
Leo: Hat with a wide brimmed dog. Dog wearing hat with a wide brim would be the—wow. That's pretty impressive.
Jeff: Here's the one. Group of people shopping at an outdoor market. There are many vegetables at the fruit stand.
Leo: so you're like at a four year old level.
Jeff: Yeah. But jeeze.
Leo: That's impressive.
Jeff: Really impressive.
Gina: Yeah. This is. Yeah. This is amazing.
Jeff: Yeah. This is a research paper, but wow.
VOICE: Tapping this into Google Glass, or something like that for accessibility.
Jeff: Well you know what I was thinking about the other day? I went to the Barnes and Noble and ended up going to the men's room, I'm sure you're glad to know that, and I saw the brail on the door, and I'm thinking, "How does a blind person find the damn door to do the brail?" And I'm thinking there's no reason you couldn't have a map of the store and directions of the store and audio directions to say 20 steps forward two to the right, there's the men's room. And you start to map out the world in these ways. Phenomenal things can happen.
Leo: Yeah, or, Colossus the Forbin project. It could go either way.
Gina: I like the examples that are completely wrong. So there's a photo of a parking sign, and it's a refrigerator filled with lots of food and drinks.
Leo: Close enough.
Jeff: One of the dogs is catching a Frisbee.
Gina: The Yellow school bus parked in a parking lot. That's actually not too far off. The refrigerator is actually the worst one here. The other one—
Leo: That's fabulous. You could see how it might make that mistake.
Jeff: The dog isn't even jumping in that picture. For those of you listening on audio, we're just looking at simple pictures and misinterpretations. But it's still phenomenal.
Gina: It is. That's amazing.
Leo: I'm going to download this. I can be an actress; I can be a computer engineer for my Kindle right now.
Gina: Is that the Barbie book?
Leo: Yes. So Gizmodo published this yesterday, and already the—that's what we were seeing on MlkShk, I couldn't figure out why on MlkShk I was seeing all these Barbie images. Apparently there is a book you can buy—
Jeff: It's on the run-down.
Leo: Is it? Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer.
Jeff: God bless. Let's—
Leo: Let's just take a look at it. At breakfast one morning, Barbie is already hard at work on her laptop. What are you doing Barbie? Asked Skipper. I'm designing a game that shows kids how computers work, explained Barbie. You can make a robot puppy do cute tricks by matching up colored blocks. OK. Not so bad. Your robot puppy is sweet says Skipper, can I play your game? Oh, I'm only creating the design ideas, Barbie said, laughing. I'll need Steven and Brian's help to turn it into a real game.
Gina: Oh God help us all.
Leo: Oh it gets worse. Barbie tries to e-mail her design to Steven, but suddenly her screen starts blinking.
Jeff: Is this real or is this a joke?
Leo: This is real. That's weird says Barbie. Barbie and Skipper try to reboot the computer but nothing happens. Looks like you've got a virus, Big Sister, say Skipper. Luckily, I wear my flash drive on a necklace so I'll always remember to back up my work, replies Barbie. When Barbie puts her flashdrive into Skipper's laptop the screen starts blinking. Oh no. Says Barbie. The virus must be on the flashdrive. I forgot to backup my homework assignment! Cried Skipper. And all my music files are lost too. Fortunately, and by the way, then she playfully hits Barbie with a pillow, because that's always fun when girls have pillow fights, Barbie makes it to computer class just before the bell rings. As soon as the class begins, Barbie raises her hand. Yes Barbie? Asks Ms. Smith, the teacher. If your computer gets a virus and crashes, how can you retrieve all the files you lost? Asked Barbie. And then Ms. Smith gives a fairly good answer. Not so bad. Removes the harddrive. But let's go talk to Steven and Brian, the geeks. Hi guys. Says Barbie. I tried to send my designs, but I ended up crashing my laptop and Skipper's too. I need to get back the lost files to repair both of our laptops. It'll go faster if Brian and I help. Offers Steven. By the way, want to take a ride in my Uber? Great! Says Barbie. Steven, can you hook up Skipper's harddrive to the library computer? Sure. Says Steven. The library computer has excellent security software to protect it. Anyway. So that's the meme now is to take these—
Jeff: If you go to the one down, the last thing under other, it's "make your own Barbie computer."
Leo: Thank God for Brian and Skipper, that's all I can say, because Barbie—
Gina: Brian and Steven. I didn't read that story. I saw it a few times. I avoided it because I am so worried that Barbie is inevitably in my future, that we're going to have to reckon with Barbie in my house.
Leo: To be fair, as bad as this is, it could be worse. Ms. Smith, the female teacher is smart and knows a little about computers. At computer class, Barbie presents the game she designed. Ms. Smith is so impressed that she gives Barbie extra credit. Barbie's terrific computer skills have saved the day for both sisters. I guess I can be a computer engineer. Says Barbie happily.
Jeff: So she discovers she doesn't need—
Leo: It's about what you'd expect. The only thing that's really bad is when she says I'm not designing the game. I'm just drawing the designs. I need Steven and Brian's help to turn it into a real game. That's where maybe you could have left that line out.
Gina: What were they thinking? It could be worse. Listen, I'm never going to look to Barbie for a progressive take on—
Jeff: Gina, where I used to go, is American Girl.
Gina: That is another aspect of growing up—
Leo: I loved American Girl. That was not too bad.
Jeff: It was not too bad at all. Some of the stories were actually very good.
Leo: American Girl was fine. Abby and I went to Chicago to the American Girls doll museum and we had tea. They had a little chair at the table for your doll, and her chair had tea, and the stories are pretty empowering. I have to think back. They're all about young women in history, in a bunch of historic periods, and I think they're all powerful and good. Right?
Jeff: Pretty much, yeah. They're OK, Gina, really. The stories are good.
Leo: Here is an example of the Internet's response to Barbie. So Barbie is sitting at the computer, Skipper is pouring. Instead of saying, "Oh no, I’m just designing it. I'm going to ask the boys to do the work." She says, "Pour mine with an extra espresso shot, Sis. Some scrub decided to link directly to ATLAS instead of generic BLAS and LAPACK, so now I have to write patches to get this BS to link against Accelerate.framework instead. I'm not about to pollute us/local/lib with a bunch of stupid dependencies. This awful shared library model is why Linux can't have nice things."
Gina: That's awesome.
Leo: That's my Barbie!
Gina: That's what I'm going to do with that. These situations, I'm going to re-write the story. I'm going to say, "All right. Let's take the panels and hack it."
Leo: You just get to do that because she can't read yet. You just read it to her this way.
Gina: You have no idea. I change the words. My wife laughs and laughs. Every line about the girl loving hot pink I'm like, "Oh, I really hate hot pink." I change the words, I say mom instead of mommy. I love to riff on kid's books.
Leo: So if you all of a sudden see a lot of Barbie and computers in your meme feed, that's where that's coming from. And the response has been pretty darn excellent.
Gina: I'm going to have her publish her own books.
Leo: There you go. Give her a copy of Valum, let her have at it.
Gina: Get nuts.
Leo: The oral history of the poop emoji—
Jeff: Do we have to?
Leo: Nice reading. Did you put this in here?
Jeff: No, I did not.
Off camera voice: Sorry about that, Leo.
Gina: This is important journalism.
Off camera voice: It said the word Google, and I was like, OK.
Leo: There's a Google story.
Off camera voice: There we go.
Gina: The poomoji.
Gina: It's good for a laugh.
Leo: It's a history of emojis, and etcetera.
Jeff: If you go up three, the compilation about the Internet from the 80's and 90's.
Leo: Oh yeah, we've played some of those on our show. They're hysterical. In fact, I'm guilty for some of these, because I of course did a PBS show called The Internet! (Exclamation mark.) In which I tried to explain—
Jeff: The other good video is the, I don't know if this is—
Leo: These are all from Andy Baio. This is Andy Baio's channel on YouTube.
Jeff: It's a great list.
Leo: I want to see Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows' computer video from 1984. What the what? This is the VHS era Internet.
Jeff: Don't you love the graphics?
Leo: Computability. Starring Steve Allen—which most of our hits never heard of—and Jayne Meadows. INDEX.
Video: Your Computability home cassette has been indexed for your convenience.
Leo: Let's just see some—Oooh. Hacker.
Video: Now a hacker would definitely own a modem. This is a device that changes the electronic impulses in the computer into sounds that can be carried over a telephone line. Very useful for communicating with other computers, data banks, information services, etcetera. As you'll see. TAPE DRIVES. Tape drives are slower than the disc type because they store the data sequentially.
Leo: I love her faux British accent.
VIDEO: You'll pick up a lot of them the more you work with your computer—
Leo: Actresses in the 30's and 40's often affected British accents even though they were from the Bronx, and what's with the hair?
VIDEO: But I guarantee in a few weeks you'll be using these terms as easily as counting from one to ten.
Jeff: I have no idea what any of them mean, but I'm reading the teleprompter well.
Leo: I have to say, I love Steve Allen and Jane Meadows, so I'm going to watch this. Look at his hair! I think his hair is higher than hers.
VIDEO: This is just what he's like at home. But we're going to show you multitudes of thing s a computer—
Leo: Steve Allen invented The Tonight Show practically. Many of the jokes that you see people like Letterman and even Fallon do now were started by Steve Allen. All right. Let's do a commercial now, unless you see one more story, if you find something you want. The poop emoji grabbed me.
Off camera voice: I thought it might.
Leo: This is good news; we talked about this in Security Now. What's App is going to add end-to-end encryption from the open source Tech Secure messaging system, that's from open whisper systems. That is a really strong encryption, strong solution. Of course, as soon as it's within WhatsApp maybe you don't know how they implement it, but I think this is really great news, and it shows that Facebook is kind of thinking, along with these other big companies, Google and Apple and Microsoft, how can we get out from under the NSA?
Jeff: Let's not forget that the bill to restrict the NSA was defeated yesterday, so—
Leo: Failed. Yep. What it was is it was one of those weird votes. They needed a super majority because it was a vote to debate, so they needed 60 votes and they only got 50.
Jeff: How your government works.
Leo: That's neat.
Gina: Yeah, I thought it was a helpful way—There are so many resources out there to teach yourself some sponsors of these shows and co-academy and lots of different things. It's hard to know where to start. I feel like this is a good starting point.
Leo: Absolutely. Jeff, your number of the week?
Jeff: Well, I think I'll take this one. Flurry, owned by Yahoo has done a study that shows that time spent on mobile devices now exceeds time spent on television. That's a pretty big deal.
Leo: How many hours a day?
Jeff: Two hours and 57 minutes a day, versus two hours and 48 minutes daily on TV, according to the US Bureau of labor statistics. On labor statistics in this case.
Gina: The bureau of Labor Statistics measures time on TV and mobile? Interesting.
Leo: With so many people unemployed these days, it's important to know.
Jeff: I love this. So if you click on the link to BLS, watching TV 2. hours a day, relaxing and thinking: 18 minutes a day.
Leo: There you go.
Jeff: That's the problem. We only think along with relax, 18 minutes a day.
Leo: How do you even measure that? Who knows? How much time do I spend thinking? I think they don't mean thinking. I think they mean on the can. But that's just a thought.
Jeff: Reading 19 minutes a day. But if you're at a computer, you're reading.
Gina: Yeah. Is reading paper separate from reading on the screen?
Jeff: It's not real reading, Gina.
Leo: That's an interesting point, though. We probably read more now than ever before thanks to the Internet.
Jeff: I think so.
Gina: No doubt.
Leo: I read a lot of stuff online. I read probably a magazine's worth every day.
Gina: I'd opt to read a user interface with an app before talk to an actual human any day.
Leo: Yeah, come to think of it. Well, here's one more app that will keep you on your phone. We were talking about Uniqlo. Tony Wang messaged me and said, "My favorite Uniqlo product is their Wake Me app." Let me show you the website.
Jeff: You're kidding me.
Leo: Yeah. Look at this. It's Uniqlo Wake Up. I think the app is Uniqlo.com/wakeup, and it wakes you up with music appropriate to the day's weather.
COMMERCIAL: On Friday, today is a rainy day—
Leo: This is vey Japanese.
Gina: Super Japanese in a good way.
Leo: All right. I've got to set this up.
Jeff: I would slap my phone and throw it out the window.
Leo: Good morning, Jeff! Today is a Uniqlo day. They have other apps, by the way. You can design a Uniqlo t-shirt on you phone or whatever. This is for IOS and Android. Uniqlo wake up it's called. Let me set it up because I just downloaded it for the—network error. I'm having trouble with this phone. It seems this is a Galaxy Note 4 and it seems to be confused about the network, the wifi. Wow. I see a Network here. I don't understand— maybe I'll turn off the—go to the mobile network. Maybe that will make it work better. Uniqlo wake up. Hello. Wake up with music that changes with the weather. Share the start of your day. Should I have it in English, Mandarin, or none? I'm going to have it in English. Fahrenheit. I don't think I'll share this with—it would be Facebook or Twitter. You can tell it's a Chinese app and now my guess is it's going to get the weather forecast. Interesting. The page brings you the latest Uniqlo wake up news. Apparently there is none. It's got a little clock, I could set the alarm. I should set an alarm for now. There you go. World time. It's starting to wake me up! Wake me up again. That was kind of pretty music though. Tony says he loves this. It's free.
Gina: I like it.
Leo: U-N-I-Q-L-O. Uniqlo Wake Up. Wake up with music that changes with the weather, and I guess you can share the—see. She's sleeping with her phone and she's looking out the window. So maybe she's going to share—
COMMERCIAL: On Friday, today is a sunny day.
Leo: Oh Lord. This was on the Android app arena.
Off Camera Voice: This was Ron's pick, I believe. A while ago. We had a good bit about it, actually if I remember correctly. How could you not?
COMMERCIAL: It's 3:14 PM on a Wednesday. Today is a cloudy day.
Jeff: Jesus. I would shoot it.
Leo: It's going to keep going. Makes you want to just use the poop emoji, doesn't it? All right. There you go. Tony Wang's tool of the day.
Jeff: Thank you so much, Tony. Tony, are you marrying—
Leo: A Uniqlo shirt? Yeah. I bet he is. I bet he is. Hey, Jeff, did your anything come while we were doing the show? Did you check the?
Jeff: Nope. I've been checking the app. Nothing.
Leo: All right. OK. We're both waiting for our Nexus 6. It's a race. Gina Trapani is at ThinkUp. Don't forget, you can take advantage of a special bundle right now, if you want to get ThinkUp along with some other great stuff. ThinkUp, what's the URL for that again?
Gina: goodwebbundle.com. It's a good gift.
Gina: Yeah, thanks Leo. It was a lot of fun today.
Leo: Thank you, Gina. I'm actually not on that site. I'm using that really great Google extension that shows beautiful landmasses every new tab.
Gina: I know! I kept it on mine too. I love it.
Leo: I can't live without it.
Gina: I absolutely love it.
Leo: And, by the way, it changes all the time. There's always fresh stuff.
Jeff: But it also does recycle some. I've seen some repeats.
Leo: Well, yeah, but I think that might be within a short period of time, because I haven't seen any of these before.
Jeff: No. I've seen some of those before. But it still is magnificent. The problem is, I'll open a new tab and go do something, and I'll want to hit the back button to see what I just saw.
Gina: I get distracted, like what was I doing? Where is that place?
Leo: We live in a beautiful planet, don't we?
Gina: We do.
Leo: It's a beautiful world. Just a gorgeous world.
Jeff: I wonder how they select these images.
Leo: They probably have an algorithm.
Gina: I'm sure there's some bot that's like, "this is visually interesting."
Leo: This is visually interesting. Let us see if we should— There’s an algorithm for the number of colors, the shapes, there's something.
Gina: This is pleasing to the human eye. Here's a dog jumping for a ball.
Leo: My humans would enjoy this refrigerator full of food
Gina: Yes. My human overlords would get distracted by this photo.
Jeff: Calm them down as I take over their lives.
Leo: Just a matter of time. Jeff Jarvis is a professor of journalism at the City University of New York. He's the best. His new book is out. Geeks Bearing Gifts: Managing New Futures For News. You can find that on Amazon.
Jeff: It's pretty damn wonky, folks.
Leo: No. This is exactly the question I was talking about earlier. We need to solve this problem so that we can know what's true. I despair of that, but we'll see. Thank you everybody for being here. It is every Wednesday at 1PM that we do this show. That's Pacific Standard Time. We do it at 4PM Eastern Standard Time and 400 UTC live on twit.tv. After the fact you can get audio and video of the show from twit.tv/twig, or from our youtube.com/thisweekingoogle or from whatever podcast app you like. There are a lot of them, including Stitcher and Instacast and Slacker, and an app named Podcast on your phone. I use DogCatcher on Android. I like that a lot.
Off Camera Voice: Nice. Still using that.
Leo: Yeah, it's really good. Pocketcast is good. What do you use?
Off Camera Voice: Pocketcast.
Leo: You switched too. Maybe I ought to switch. I don't know. Anything that downloads a show that I can listen to—
Off Camera Voice: Yeah, totally. They all do that, so.
Leo: There's a TWIT app, I recommend that.
Gina: Podcast does a syncing across devices. It remembered where you were and stuff.
Leo: You know, it's interesting, because that's one of the things we were talking about in the API is the ability to save user state so that we know where you stop watching or listening to a show so when you use something else it'll say, "would you like to start where you left off?" Non trivial.
Gina: Not trivial at all. That's some advanced stuff there, Leo. Good for you, but watch out for scopecreep.
Leo: Yeah, well. And someday we'll talk about this. FourKitchens is very adgile, I mean dogmatically agile, so we use scrums, we use that whole points technique to assign points, we have a backlog, we groom the backlog. I'm learning all these weird—
Gina: Burn down charts? Storyboards?
Leo: Yeah, all of that stuff. User stories. We came up with hundreds of user stories. You know what? It would be a very interesting special to do here sometime. So have you used this methodology?
Gina: I have. I'm not a zealot, and I haven't used the more advanced stuff, but I'm a big fan of burn down charts as a way to assess how much work and estimating and breaking down tasks and changing the burn, and stand up. I find these methodologies super interesting, and I learn. I'm like a cafeteria Catholic. I'm a cafeteria agile.
Leo: Well we are working with the Pope of Agile. Holy cow.
Gina: I'm personally always a little wary of the folks that are like, "one true way. I must do it exactly." I think it does work if you have a development shop that is just committed to the methodology and that's the language the speak and it works for everyone, that's great. I've never been on a team where everyone was fully on board and fully committed, so it's always been kind of piece meal for me.
Leo: Yeah, this is pretty serious. We have a certified scrum master. Paul Benjamin is running this thing like clockwork.
Gina: You have a scrum master? Nice.
Leo: A scrum master. We have stand-ups every day. We get spanked if we don't show up. It's really good so far. It is process heavy at the beginning, so there's some debate over "we're going to spend a lot of money on process right now." But I think this is what you have to do to make sure that we, as the project owners, get our needs heard and the developers understand the job that they need to do. That's the hardest thing, I think, in software development.
Gina: Yeah, there's a lot of value to formalizing that. Especially if you're working with a third party. I think that's great. I would love to see that special.
Leo: OK. When the Four Kitchens people come here, maybe we'll do it. The making of. It's driving certain of us crazy.
Gina: OK. I want to hear more about that.
Leo: That will have to be an off-line conversation. I understand how much geeks love process, and sometimes to the point where we love process rather than doing anything. So you're using the getting things done methodology. Many a geek has done 43 folders and set it up just so, but never gets anything done. But man, they have a system. And so I always want to temper the love of the system with an actual desire to get work done. But I think it's getting done, and I tell you what, we'll know at the end if you like the new TWIT site, then it will have worked.
Leo: We do use software that supports Scrum; we're using ATLAS and JIRA of course, one of our sponsors. Actually, Four Kitchens has always used Jira, so that was no problem. We have our own hip chat chat channel at all times and—JIRA is amazing. JIRA is all about the agile experience.
Gina: yeah. If you're using a tool that's geared for a particular methodology, that's great. Yeah.
Leo: yeah. A couple of people in the chatroom are familiar with this. One of them says, "all projects with Scrum feel process heavy at first, but it pays off big time in the end." That's how I—
Jeff: That's what they always say.
Leo: That's what they always say, isn't it? You're going to love the result. Well, the proof is in the pudding. We'll see. Anyway, thank you for being here. Thank you Jeff. Thank you Gina. We love you and thanks to you for being here. We'll see you next time on This Week in Google! Bye.