This Week in Google 286 (Transcript)
Leo: It's time for TWiG, This Week in Google. Great panel, Mike Elgan joins Jeff Jarvis and me. We'll talk about the FCC's proposal to use Title 2, victory or not? We'll also find out what Google is up to with some of its more oddball project. And I've got a tip for people who want to learn to do a little programming. It's all coming up next on TWiG.
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Leo: This is TWiG, This Week in Google, episode 286 record February 4th, 2015.
Shake Me Harder
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This is TWiG, This Week in Google, the show were we talk about Google, the Cloud, the Cloud-e-verse. When is Gina coming back for an episode? Is it next month, next week, next hour?
Jason: Let me take a look at the schedule, I believe it is next week.
Leo: Hey, yay! Jeff and I miss Gina. But don't worry, we've got great people in her place. Jeff Jarvis is here, professor of journalism at the City University of New York. He's got his Chromebook Pixel. He's patting it because we've compelled him to use an unnamed computer for his Skype.
Jeff: A liberal, commie computer.
Leo: But boy, doesn't that look good?
Jeff: Oh, rub it in.
Leo: It's okay. Just think of this as a dedicated video conferencing device, not a computer. You never have to use this ever.
Jason: Look, our tricaster runs on a Windows machine but you'd never know it because it's the tricaster.
Leo: Exactly. We're running Windows 7.
Jeff: Ew, cooties!
Leo: Exactly. Jeff is the author of Public Parts, What Would Google Do?, Gutenberg the Geek, and his latest, Geeks Bearing Gifts: Reimagining News in the Modern World.
Jeff: Ain't that exciting?
Leo: Ain't that the greatest? Buzzmachine.com is his blog. Look who's here, Mike Elgan, our news director from TNT. Mike is the most popular man on Google+, practically.
Mike: Yes, me and Lady Gaga. We're the most popular men.
Leo: Also a writer at Computer World and other magazines. He's an expert in the Cloud and Google. We should get you on more but I don't want to overburden you because you have to do TNT every Monday through Friday.
Mike: This show is like a vacation, a tropical island.
Jeff: It's dessert.
Leo: It is dessert and boy, is it going to be a filling meal. Let's start with the FCC. Tom Wheeler, in an editorial, published on Wired, clearly reaching out to us, to the geeks. Saying, and you know, it's interesting. Dan Gilmore wrote an article apologizing to Tom Wheeler for mis-characterizing him as a shill. I wonder – I guess -
Jeff: That's very Dan. That's very neat for him to do.
Leo: I guess Oliver was going to have to say, “I'm sorry for calling you a -” What did he call him, a dingo? John Oliver is off the air right now, he's in hiatus. But when he comes back, he's going to have to say, “I'm sorry I called you a dingo.”
Jeff: Well, the devil is in the details, let's see the full language. But so far, so good.
Leo: Well, now I'm scared. We got what we wanted. Tom Wheeler has agreed to use Title 2 of the Telecommunications Act of 1934, while tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to create a competitive network in order to prevent fast-lane prioritization. You know, it's actually interesting. He refers to – and I had forgotten this, a startup he did in the '80s called Nabu.
Jeff: This is the most fascinating part to me, what happened is that he tried to do high speed back in the day but it required working with cable companies. And cable companies effed him and it came home to roost.
Leo: And AOL beat him. He said, “We were delivering 1.5 megabits per second.” Back in the '80s, that was amazing. Steve Case was dialup and Case – Wheeler says, “Case told me at the time, we used to worry a lot about Nabu.” But Nabu went broke while AOL, obviously, became very successful. Wheeler writes why that is, highlights the fundamental problem with allowing networks to act as gatekeepers. While delivering better service, Nabu had to depend on cable television operators granting access to their system. Steve Case of AOL was not only a brilliant entrepreneur but he had access to an unlimited number of customers nationwide who only had to attach a modem to their phone line. The phone network was open.
Jeff: Because the FCC made it open.
Leo: Cable networks were closed, end of story. For Tom Wheeler to say that, to me, gives him a lot of street cred.
Jeff: You know what, he's like a sleeper cell for the EFF. It's kind of great, right? We thought he was going to be a sellout because he had worked in the industry and all that but this experience early in his career, the permission-less development, the ability to reach people on an open network, he got it in his soul and came back. God bless him. Let's just hope it stays this way. The cable companies and the telephone companies, you screwed yourselves, guys. You know, you could have been nice. You could have had a sign up that says, “Don't be evil.” You could have had a sign up that said, “Just because we can doesn't mean we should.” You could have had a sign up that said, “Let's not treat our customers like prisoners,” but you didn't. So it's all come home to roost on the big old company and they're all going to sue the FCC. The whole – [crosstalk]
Leo: AT&T already said it is.
Jeff: Oh, yes.
Leo: They said, “If you do this, we're in.” Here's an interesting thing. He's actually gone farther than some people, including Google, wanted him to go. He says, “Using the authority of Title 2, I am submitting to my colleagues, the other commissioners of the FCC, the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright line rules will ban paid prioritization, fast lanes, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.” But here's where he's going -
Jeff: The best is yet to come, here. This is the good part.
Leo: This is really interesting. “I propose to fully apply, for the first time ever, those bright line rules to mobile broadband.”
Mike: That's a huge deal. A huge, huge deal.
Leo: That is huge. Even Google acknowledged, in its amicus filing with Verizon, that broadband should be treated differently than mobile.
Jeff: In Google's devil deal with Verizon. I've never been more ashamed of Google at that moment, and I screamed about it in this show. It was a moment of prostitution to try to make nice to phone companies. It was never going to re-yield anything but Google said, “We'll apply net neutrality to wired line, not to mobile.” It was wrong, it was evil and God bless, Tom Wheeler is less evil than Google right now.
Mike: For now. Two things to look out for. One of them is coming up to the punchline of them embracing mobile was the fact that it says that any sort of legal, we have to allow.
Leo: Legal content.
Mike: Yes, so that is determined by lawmakers. And the lawmakers are going to be the fly in the ointment here. It's Congress and a minority of Republicans in Congress that are going to want to attack and destroy this. Of course, the lobbyists, Wheeler's former colleagues, are going to be attacked Congress in all this. So that's risky. Secondly, Wheeler said specifically that, “What I have giveth, the future FCC chairman can taketh away in a couple of years.” So that makes me nervous. The precedent is huge, though. It gives it a lot of weight and gives us a good shot of having net neutrality going forward. But you have to realize that if we didn't get net neutrality right now, we would never get it. Most countries are leaning towards no net neutrality because once again, as is the case in the United States and everywhere, the companies, there's so much money to be made in screwing the consumer and providing -
Jeff: Well, Europe, to its regulatory credit, is going for net neutrality all around. I saw Utenger, the new digital head in Europe, and I'm scared of what [0:09:27] is going to do. I think he's going to do a European-wide, get ready for it, Leistungsschutzrecht. But they sing the song of net neutrality in Europe. I think that we were behind on that and this might put us back to where we ought to be.
Mike: I got the feeling that they started to go strong with net neutrality early in last year, in spring of last year, and then by the end of the year they were saying, “You know, on second thought, maybe we ought to just kind of tinker with it a little bit.”
Jeff: Well, that's the risk always. Yes.
Mike: So that's problematic. But it remains to be seen, I think. The biggest thing is that people can't relax now. Everybody who wrote letters -
Leo: Write to your member of Congress now.
Mike: Exactly, because now is when we win it or lose it.
Leo: Now, he did do – first, when I read the headline, I went, “Gulp.” Because we got what we wanted but now I'm nervous about what the other side has said all along which is, you don't want the federal government, especially the FCC, regulating the internet. Because there's all sorts of stuff in Title 2 that gives them power to do. He was very clear that he intends to honor President Obama's notion of forbearance, not enforcing everything. He says he wants to create incentives for broadband operators to invest. So he's going to modernize Title 2, for instance, no rate regulation – this was something everybody was a little worried about.
Jeff: That's critical for them.
Leo: No tariffs, no last mile unbundling … what's that?
Jeff: That's – in Britain, I think this is what it means. Tell me if I'm wrong, chat room. But in Britain, BTE puts the fiber or puts the cable into your house but it's like your power line. Others can lease it.
Leo: Why wouldn't we want last mile unbundling?
Jeff: I think we would but I think that's a big stop to the cable companies and that's what it takes.
Leo: He's saying, “If you spent the money, the capital investment, to get the last mile, you're going to continue to own that last mile.” And that is true that it may – and the FCC decided this the last time this came up more than a decade ago. They gave a monopoly to the cable companies in every region, saying, “Look, you're going to invest a lot of money in infrastructure. You need to be able to monetize.” That was what they saw as necessary to incent investment. He said, “Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules proving that modernized Title 2 regulation can encourage investment and competition.” I have to say, last mile unbundling has happened on phone companies. AT&T and others have to unbundle, right? So I'm not convinced that's -
Jeff: What do you mean? NVNOs?
Leo: No, no. Not mobile, but in landline, in DSL, it's unbundled. The last mile has been put in by AT&T or Verizon but you can get it from Sonic Net, or DSL Extreme or some other provider.
Jeff: Right, which is not the case here. But I would – [crosstalk]
Leo: I would like to see that on cable.
Jeff: The other important decision, which was a few days ago, which is, the administration saying that they're going to fight the limitations on towns over-building and competing with cable companies.
Leo: Municipal internet is the right answer to all of this, I think. Well, so this all sounds very good. In fact, the EFF writing today say, “Today we are celebrating. Chairman Wheeler's announcement signals the FCC is at long last making real progress on net neutrality.” But they do agree, “The battle is not over. We need to ensure the FCC rules will actually do what is needed to protect the open internet and no more.” I think that, Mike, you're absolutely right. This is, now it's time to write your Congress critter and say, “You know, good. Now, let's promote competition. Let's promote investment.” I don't think unbundling the last mile is a bad idea.
Mike: Here's the thing. I think that this is going to be made, if it hasn't already been made, into a left-right issue with people on the right being told that this is a government regulation. And it is a government regulation thing, to a certain extent. So those reflexes are being exercised and this is not the issue to exercise those reflexes, in my opinion, because the alternative to so-called “government regulation” where there's a level playing field, essentially, and where all traffic has to be treated equally is that Comcast is in charge of determining these things. Comcast has demonstrated that it just will screw customers over for a buck at every chance it gets.
Jeff: Yes, I agree, Mike. That's what I was saying before, too. I think that the telecommunications industry could have avoided this. They could have shown that they weren't evil. There really is an attitude of, “If we can, we will. We will charge you for every little thing. We're going to screw you over. We're going to treat you like prisoners.” It's a business – it's a prisoner business model, like an airline prisoner business model. They've brought it upon themselves. No one trusts them. No one trusts them. They have to buy their friends in Congress and that's what will come to bear now. We'll see what the power of the lobbying is. But Wheeler clearly heard the country speak and then listened.
Leo: AT&T warned that Title 2 is far from bulletproof. Boy, they just – they didn't pull any punches. Hank Hultquist writing on the AT&T Public Policy blog said that, “Today we made a couple of filings at the FCC disputing its authority to reclassify ISPs as common carriers.” He says, “This decision is driven by political considerations. We think they're going to do it but we ought to warn them, we're going to court and we don't think it's sustainable. We think court will overturn it.” Just as Verizon won in court with the FCC's open internet regulations. I have to point out, though, that court told the FCC, “If you were to pursue Title 2, we might be able to support you on this.”
Mike: Right. That's why they went against them because Title 2 was not the law of the land.
Leo: They're quoting Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion in a Supreme Court decision. Brand X – of course, a dissent has no weight in law at all. But they, I think, hold out hope that Justice Scalia will support them if it goes to the Supreme Court.
Mike: I'm not worried about AT&T's lawsuit. I'm worried about AT&T's “by the congress” budget. They give more to campaign contributions and other financing than any other company.
Leo: Okay, here's their argument. See, this doesn't seem completely wrong to me and again, they're quoting Justice Scalia. He said, “ISPs are not merely an information service. They're a transmission service.” He compared them to pizzerias that offer a combination of pizza and home delivery, or a pet store that sells dogs but includes the leash. He -
Jeff: I'm getting a headache.
Leo: Scalia's notorious for this. “We disagree with Scalia's view that ISPs simultaneously offer both information and telecommunications services,” says AT&T. “The FCC has long adhered to an interpretation of the statute under which both these definitions are mutually exclusive. You can't be both a telecommunications service, a transport and an information service.”
Mike: I don't understand that analogy. In what way does your average ISP – you know, obviously the Comcast and so on are serving up both content and bandwidth. Is that what they're talking about? They shouldn't. They shouldn't be doing that. You shouldn't get your puppy from the same place you get the leash or whatever. We want dumb pipes, the dumber the better and the bigger the better. That's what we want and that's what we need in order to compete with the rest of the world economically. That's what we need in order to retain our status as an economic superpower. We need these things. We can't be nickeled and dimed to death by -
Jeff: So – sorry.
Mike: No, go ahead.
Jeff: Dumb pipes are a commodity and they know that. The value will come in the unique content and we're going to buy that from Netflix, not from Comcast. That's exactly what they're afraid of and they know it. They know this is happening. They know it's inevitable now. This is not a big surprise to them, they're just trying to fight to the last rather than say, “This is where the world is going. Why don't we start our own damn Netflix and compete like crazy on the basis of quality?”
Leo: I have to think this Public Policy blog is aimed at Congressional staffers and, if they understood it, members of Congress. It's essentially laying out the argument.
Mike: “This is what we paid you to say. Here it is.”
Leo: “This is what you should be saying now.” So not only are we talking lawsuit, we're talking severe lobbying along these lines. We'll see. Tom Wheeler, I apologize. You're not a dingo or a shill for the telecommunications and cable companies. You are a free man and you've done the right thing, I think, so far. And I think, in a very nuanced way, it protects a little bit the people – we did a great debate on TWiT a few months ago with two internet service providers on different sides of this. I think that he's saying the things here that will reassure the ISP Larry at Wyoming, who was very concerned about getting a heavy-handed government regulation in his business while protecting the internet. So it seems like he's done a good job on this. Let's hope so.
You wrote a good article, Mike, on Computer World.
Mike: Thank you.
Leo: “Seven Smart Phone Rules That Change This Week.” That kind of ties along – this was before the FCC position.
Mike: It was, but the FCC lately has been, in the month of January, changing everything for smart phone users. They're very pro user, exactly. So just quickly going through these. Carriers, if you recall, the FTC actually and the FCC are both working together. But basically, the FTC said that the TracFone – they basically ordered the prepaid mobile provider TracFone to pay a fine of $40 million because they throttled an unlimited data plan. So essentially, that established the rule – these aren't laws, these are just rules, basically. But everybody has to adhere to these precedents where you can sell unlimited data plans and you can throttle data but they can't be the same plan. If they call it -
Leo: Yes, the FTC was clear to say, “This is not a rule against throttling. This is a false advertising thing. You can't say unlimited in an advertisement and then throttle.”
Leo: Actually, I think that's a little controversial because unlimited means as many bits as you want. Throttling just means, “We're going to give them to you slower.”
Mike: But taken to an extreme, you can imagine if they give you one megabyte and then after that, it's the speed of a 300 bod modem but it's unlimited.
Jeff: The intention is clear. But here's, Mike, the eighth rule that's not there is that hotels can sell high speed, but it ain't high speed. They should be held to account for what they sell.
Leo: Right, and this was the second change that they made, which was the FCC declared that true broadband, they upgraded it. It used to be 4 megabits down, 1 megabit up. Now it's 20 megabits down, 3 megabits up. What does that change, this new definition of broadband.
Mike: It changes the idea that they're going to be selling a 4 megabit per second connection and calling it broadband. But everybody uses broadband now to be synonymous with just internet connectivity. We do it all the time and we journalists do it all the time, call it a mobile broadband, for example. Well, there's a lot of data connectivity that's super, super, super slow and we're calling it broadband. Broadband used to be a distinction to separate fast internet connectivity with slow internet connectivity and still, 25 megabits per second, I think, for downloads, is not that fast. It's a pretty low hurdle.
Leo: The standards have changed over the years, obviously. I would have been thrilled with a megabit and a half 15 years ago.
Mike: One of the co-anchors on Tech News Today is Elise Hugh. She's moving to Seoul, Korea and she's going to become the Seoul Bureau Chief for NPR. She was saying that they essentially define broadband as 100 megabits per second and everybody's got it.
Leo: But isn't that the government providing it? Is it a government industry or a government-run system?
Mike: I think the government is squeezing – [crosstalk]
Leo: They've subsidized it, perhaps.
Mike: Something like that.
Leo: That's the issue. I mean, we hear a lot about Sweden and South Korea, other countries where they have very inexpensive, very high speed internet but in almost every case, it's subsidized, basically.
Mike: I don't see anything wrong with that.
Leo: No, I don't either.
Mike: I'm not a big, you know, “Government should be taxing and spending.” But I saw a study, I think it was last year at some point, somebody calculated how much it would cost to give everybody in the United States Google Fiber level speeds. It was like a couple hundred billion bucks. Basically, what we spent into Afghanistan in two weeks.
Leo: Apple should do it, right.
Leo: So it does have an unintended consequence. By redefining broadband, you suddenly make Comcast 56% of all the broadband market. They have more than half of all US broadband customers.
Jeff: Good point.
Leo: Ars Technica made that point, but a great point, and I don't know if that was an intended consequence or not. But now, Congress has to grapple – or not the Congress, I guess. Is it the FTC who has to rule on the Comcast/Time Warner merger?
Jeff: It's an anti-trust issue there.
Leo: Whoever is regulating that has to really now say, “Oh, you really do have a lie in share.”
Jeff: I think what's happening here is in general, I think we're finally getting the President we were waiting for. I think this is the WTF period of Obama's administration. “What the hell, I'm going out. I might as well do something good. I think that's what's happened with these regulations.
Leo: It's the FTL, find the legacy, segment of the administration. It happens every presidency in the last remaining years, last couple years of their presidency.
Mike: Especially start with President Obama because he did so little in the first six years -
Leo: And yet said he was going to do so much.
Leo: Okay, I don't want to get political here. Well, just a little bit. I think he deserves more credit for the healthcare access.
Jeff: Yes, he does. I agree. I absolutely agree.
Leo: I know it's so Obamacare and, you know, Fox News thinks it's a really bad thing but I have to say that was something I never thought and I don't think anybody ever thought would become the law of the land. While it's not single-payer healthcare, which is clearly what needs to happen, it's a huge step in that direction. Millions of people who were not covered by any health insurance are now covered.
Mike: He also deserves blame for the website – in terms of technology in particular, I think there's been a lot of movement in Washington, both from Wheeler and from President Obama in the right direction, whether you're on the left or the right. Personally, I hate it when these things get kind of owned by the propagandists who want to divide everybody.
Leo: Can we credit the internet population and all the comments for this? Do we get credit for this?
Mike: I think there's a lot of credit to be given to – yes, because essentially, these were the people who were paying attention, who have a lot of money. Silicon Valley has a lot of money.
Leo: We sat up and we said, “We want this.” I think, maybe, Wheeler and Obama said, “Oh. And these people vote? Okay.”
Jeff: “They give money?” Which they need to, and they lobby.
Leo: Item three on your list, hotels – Marriott gave up.
Leo: Hotels cannot block your WiFi hotspot. Marriott said, “Okay, all right, all right.” Again, credit the internet community.
Jeff: Wasn't there some fine print to that, though, Mike?
Mike: Not that I'm aware. I mean, essentially, the Marriott actually implemented it in only one hotel. They were fined $600 thousand for that. But this is not – this hasn't been formally established yet. But in separate speeches, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Tom Wheeler both said, in very clear terms, that blocking should not be allowed. Basically, pointed out their intention to not allow it and what was really refreshing was that Rosenworcel actually said that we need a lot more unlicensed spectrum that can be used for things like personal WiFi hotspots. So the FCC, at least those two on the FCC, those are the two most influential chair people. They are very much in favor of no clamping down on personal use, like a WiFi hotspot. It's essentially where you go when you plug into the hotel's network and you turn it into a WiFi hotspot that five people can use in your room or one person can use with five devices, whatever it is. They're basically saying, “We're all in favor. This should not be restricted at any point either by the amount of available air wave frequencies or by the policy of whatever hotel you're staying in.” So this is a really great direction for the FCC to be going in because it was unestablished. It was essentially something that was an open question, can companies who provide internet connectivity as one of the benefits or services that they provide force you to pay for each device that is on that network? Now, the answer is no, they cannot, which is great.
Leo: Item four, you don't have to die needlessly. Thank you, FCC. Oh, wait a minute – because emergency personnel can't locate you indoors. I didn't even know about this.
Jeff: I didn't either.
Mike: The FCC approved new rules that require carriers to, within two years, start using technology – so they're essentially giving benchmarks for the carriers. Within two years, they have to be able to provide the location of a 911 caller within 50 meters in at least 40% of cases. That means they're going to be mushed together and they're going to have averages, and that requires lots of indoor location technology. So they have to allow this in order to make sure that emergency workers can find people who need help.
Jeff: Which also means, tell me if I'm wrong, that's where the WiFi address sniffing stuff comes in handy, right?
Mike: I'm sure it does and I'm sure that all the technologies -
Leo: Yes, I wonder how they're going to do that, actually.
Mike: All that has not been hammered out. There's obviously a million ways to do indoor location but they're basically throwing it at the carriers and saying, “You have two years to really make indoor location work for emergency personnel.”
Leo: Within 50 meters in 40% of the cases. Eh, you still have a 60% chance of dying needlessly but hey, that's better than nothing. Airplane WiFi, we talked about this with Nick Bilton. You know, Nick was on TWiT on Sunday. You can give Nick a lot of credit for Skymall going bankrupt because he, by rattling the cage and using his bully pulpit in the New York Times, managed to convince the FAA to allow airlines to leave your device on during takeoff and landings. That's why Skymall went bankrupt, they said, because nobody read the catalog anymore. They could just continue to stare at their iPad, their iPhone, their Kindle. So Nick takes credit for putting Skymall out of business. Now, Nick's got a new campaign, slow, overpriced WiFi on airplanes.
He said, “I know, I know, I've heard the Louis CK bit. We should all be insanely grateful that we're flying seven miles high through the air at 600 miles an hour. But gee, the WiFi sucks.” But there is a technology.
Mike: That's right. The FCC recently approved a new service from GoGo called 2KU. That's going to be installed in a thousand aircraft. Now, most of airplane WiFi, you're beaming it down to the earth to towers. This beams it up to satellites and it's much, much faster, up to 70 megabits per second, which is almost certainly faster than our homes. It's really fast WiFi.
Leo: Jet Blue is rolling this out right now, right?
Mike: Yes. GoGo says that it will be available to airlines in the second half of this year broadly. So this is going to be – there are going to be lots of airplanes in the sky where you log in and it's going to be way faster than your house.
Jeff: You know, I saw a video from, I think, United that showed the retro-fit for a plane to put in WiFi. I couldn't believe how hard it was, the amount they had to tear out to put the WiFi in.
Leo: I understand why they charge. I said this to Nick, I said, “I understand why they charge so much.” The fuel surcharge alone, I mean, the hundreds of pounds of new equipment they put in must cost them some money to offer this WiFi.
Mike: But they could use it themselves, as well.
Leo: This is a weird one.
Jeff: I wish I could just use miles for it. I would buy it more freely with miles.
Leo: You know, I notice the hotels are increasingly offering free WiFi. I wonder if that'll happen on planes too. If you were the first – if Jet Blue said, “Look, free internet on all our flights and it's this new 2KU,” I think that I would absolutely be more likely to buy a ticket on Jet Blue.
Mike: Plus, look at the money you save on providing content. You don't have to show movies and all that kind of stuff. Of course, they're marketing to use -
Jeff: That happened on United. Now on United, and I am global services on United, I am the highest level. I'm that a-hole that gets on the plane first, all of you be damned.
Leo: Do you have to sit in a stroller to do it or are you allowed to walk?
Jeff: I know, I know. Excuse me, are you global services? Excuse me, excuse me.
Leo: You go on before babies.
Jeff: I get on before the pilot. It's my plane for two minutes. But I think that WiFi would be a great benefit for the very frequent flyers. I think it's a benefit that you can use and the cash they get is limited. You're right, Mike, you now can download the United App and then, when you get on the plane, if it's equipped with WiFi, that's how you can watch movies.
Leo: I actually enjoy not getting online on an airplane. I just put on my headphones, listen to music and relax. It's one of the few places I can get disconnected so I don't really care.
Mike: Those days are numbered.
Leo: I guess so.
Jeff: But now you can use the WiFi to watch a movie without having to download it to your tablet because it's provided by the airline.
Leo: No, you know, I know it's 70 megabits. But that 70 megabits is shared among all the passengers on the plane. You're the one, Mister Global Services, that's going to ruin it for all of us. You'll be Skyping, streaming, watching a movie.
Jeff: There will be no net neutrality for you.
Leo: Number six, the entertainment industry can't use emergency alerts in movie promotions any more.
Mike: That's right. A movie called Olympus Has Fallen, they had a trailer or commercial for this movie on Viacom, on ESPN, and the FCC fined Viacom and ESPN $1.4 million because this movie trailer used the official emergency alert tone. So with the action heroes and stuff running around on screen, the tone was going and then they said, “You can't use the tone. You can't use that.”
Leo: I'm a bad person. I turn off Amber Alerts on my phone. I don't want to know. I don't care.
Jeff: What are the odds that you're going to see -
Leo: You know what happened? Can I tell you what happened here last month when there was flood warnings? Every phone in the place went off with a flood warning like, what? Everybody jump and run because the flood's coming? No. I turn it off. You can't turn off Presidential alerts, but I figure, if I'm getting a Presidential alert, the end of the world is imminent.
Mike: The flood warning happened – we were doing TNT and we were live. It's like, we're pretty dry here. We're kind of on a hill. We're going to be fine.
Leo: I understand the need for, “Tornado's coming, run for the cellar,” but I just turn it off. I'm the bad man who's not going to help find your lost child. I'm sorry. You have to dig to find that emergency – is it cell broadcasts?
Mike: I actually think the fact that Facebook is putting Amber alerts selectively on people's News Feeds, I think that's the right place to do it. You're focused on the content, what's happening in my area?
Leo: I can't – what, am I going to get in the car and look for a beat up Dodge minibus? I'm not going to – so, show extreme threats, I have that still – you know, I don't want that either. Severe threats? No. Amber alerts? No. But you can't turn off the Presidential alerts, so.
Mike: But definitely let me know when the cupcakes come out of the oven at the bakery around the corner.
Leo: That, I want to know! “Donuts are ready.”
Jeff: I want a Sharknado alert!
Leo: I'm sorry, I'm such a bad man. You don't have to jump through hoops to complain any more, item seven.
Mike: Yes, they have a new website. They have the kind of website that we need.
Leo: That won't break down if they get more than a million comments.
Mike: The fact is that their new website is okay but their old website was horrible. It was from the '90s and you just, you know. It was steam-powered and stuff. It was horrible.
Mike: This is much, much better and you can go to complain and whine about any company that is providing services that the FCC is involved with.
Leo: There should be a checkbox, though, for zombie apocalypse. That, I would like to know about ahead of time. We're going to take a break, come back for more Jeff Jarvis, Mike Elgan, Leo Laporte, talking Google and the Google-verse and net neutrality. This is the one place, really – I find when I bookmark news, I bookmark a lot of stories for this show because this is the catch-all. You can talk about anything on this show.
Mike: And even if we didn't, Google itself is a massive generator of news stories.
Leo: It all has to do with Google. Actually, I did want to mention, and I'll probably mention this on TWiT as well, but Monte Oum, who worked at Rooster Teeth, he was an animator. You've seen his work on “Red vs Blue”. He was doing a new animated web series called “RWBY.” Very tragic. 33 years old, he passed away, fell into a coma, had an allergic reaction during a medical procedure and never recovered. So, very sad, 33 years old, Monte Oum. You may not know the name but you almost certainly know his work in “Red vs Blue”. Apparently, Rooster Teeth is going to continue “RWBY,” continue production of that. So I thought I'd make a mention of that. You can't turn these alerts off, sorry.
But you know what else you can't turn off? You can't turn off the snacks. The snacks just keep a-coming. Ladies and gentlemen, it's Nature Box. Oh, a new one! Ah, Nature Box time. Look at that, asiago and cheddar cheese crisps.
Mike: What is an asiago?
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Jeff: Ooh, coffee kettle popcorn.
Leo: I know! But there's one thing all of these have in common. They're nutritious and proved never to have any high fructose corn syrup. Never any saturated fats. Only the good stuff. It's in resealable bags. If you are going to the candy machine around this time every day, don't. Stop. Stop the insanity. Get Nature Box delivered to your door, deliciously wholesome snacks with great flavors. As I said, spicy, savory, sweet, but they also have various snacks for dietary needs. There's gluten-free snacks, vegan snacks. You get to pick and in every case, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no artificial sweeteners, no trans fats, no high fructose corn syrup.
So in the afternoon, when you're hungry, grab a chocolate banana chip or a Kung Pao pretzel or a lemon pucker pistachio. If you go to naturebox.com/twit right now, you can get a complementary trial box of five of their most popular snacks. You'll just pay $2 for the shipping. Delicious. It'll give you a really good idea of what Nature Box has to offer and then, I think, subscribe. You can even get more than a box a month, we get like eight boxes a month now because we've hooked the whole staff on them, naturebox.com/twit for your free sampler. Get it today.
Google earnings – you know, I don't think I buried the lead. I don't think this was such a big huge deal. We talked about Apple earnings last week and that was a huge deal, largest profit in history of any company. But people are saying Google did not have a great quarter. They missed the analyst estimates.
Mike: Yes. They're doing well. People expect a lot of them. You know, the layerification of Google when Larry Page took over, there was a big push. They were kind of in the doldrums and then there was a big push for aggressive cutting of dead wood, launching new products and so on. That seems to have fizzled out a little bit. The problem with Google is that, I think, the investors are worried about them launching all these different – everything. They're curing cancer; they've got self-driving cars; they've got blimps and balloons, and all this kind of stuff. Yet, they're completely dependent upon advertising online and it's such a fickle market, such a dangerous place to be.
Jeff: Yes, Mike, but I think Youtube and Play are now up to – what is it, $8 billion, $4 billion each a year. Still, the percentage is shifting. I think the bigger worry is that the price per ad is going down.
Mike: Price for click, too.
Leo: But not going down as fast as it was, right? It's slowed a little bit.
Jeff: A little bit, a little bit. It's down 3% versus Facebook, pardon me for a second here, is up 335%. Now, that was low but Facebook has momentum. It has the mo on mobile, on price per ad and that's really the issue that I think is worrying. Google still is an incredibly large, growing, profitable company. It's just, I think, a little bit of worry about the low.
Mike: Everybody's eating into their business. They're losing market share in the United States, slowly, but they're losing it to Yahoo, Bing and others. Believe it or not, Yahoo is growing and it seems like no matter what Google does, other companies are aggressively getting into it, even areas where you thought, “Nobody else would get into that.” I mean, we just had a story on Tech News Today this morning that it looks like Apple might have Street View cars and it might even be launching a product called Apple Search. I think that neither of those things are 100%, they're maybe 50/50 at this point. But if you go through each of Google's traditional businesses and what they do, whether it's Search, whether it's Gmail, whether it's any of the things that they do, there are a lot of powerful companies getting into that business and potentially chewing away at their market share. They're not going to replace them as the leader in some of those areas but, you know, just gnawing away and eroding their dominance.
I think that's one of the things that some are worried about. Of course, you know, these are good problems to have. We're talking billions of dollars but again, I think that the investors are right to be nervous about the heavy reliance on advertising. It's still 80-something percent plus percentage of their revenue is from advertising. It's like, that can just dry up and change overnight. I think one of the biggest success stories and biggest areas of potential is Youtube, of course, because everybody is trying to get into what Facebook was trying to do with all the video, what Twitter and others are trying to do with video. They're all trying to compete with the attention-grabbing power of Youtube, right? Because there's so many hours spent with eyeballs on that and it's – yes, they're going to continue to be a super successful company and they could be on the brink of diversifying their sources of revenue and profit. But so far, I don't think they're diversifying it fast enough.
Leo: By the way, I don't think that's a Street View car. I think that's a self-driving car.
Mike: You really think Apple would be in the self-driving car business?
Leo: I don't know if they would, but I just feel like it is. Look at the style -
Jeff: You're right, it does.
Leo: The way it stops, I mean, you can't tell. The way it accelerated the minute that car pulled away, it's keeping exactly the same stop distance. I think that's a self-driving car. That doesn't look like a Street View.
Mike: Is it too much to ask for both?
Jeff: I would trust Apple and Google to make a self-driving car a lot more than I would trust Uber.
Leo: Yes, and Uber's apparently in that business too. I don't know why Apple would either do Street View or -
Mike: They have Apple Maps and they don't like Google. They don't like to depend on Google. I really can't see Apple getting into the transportation.
Leo: If they were doing Street View, you'd see a lot more of these. We've only seen two in the wild.
Mike: I talked about this with Katie Benner this morning on Tech News Today. I think that there's a strong possibility that they're dipping their toe in the waters. They've got billions to throw around, why not just check it out and see what it's like, see how this might improve Maps. If it works in San Francisco, maybe they'll throw a billion dollars at it and go nationwide.
Jeff: But the difference, Mike, I think, is that Google is in a better position to monetize local because it has the advertising structure for a huge mass of advertising. Apple is really not there. You know, let me just say this.
Leo: Google has $64 billion in cash, good position for an acquisition. Their tax rate, significantly lower than Apple's, the effective tax rate was 16%. Apple was somewhere around 26 or 27%, I think.
Mike: Yes, but all those Irish sandwiches and all that stuff, that's all going good.
Leo: Google's doing good with that.
Mike: Yes, yes.
Leo: But it's going to go away. Had we talked on TWiT about – no, yesterday on Mac Break Weekly about the fact that there are two motions afoot to tax these overseas earnings. President Obama has suggested a 14% tax and then Nancy Pelosi has suggested, along with Rand Paul, of all people, a lower – I can't remember what it was, 4% tax? But a one-time only tax that would allow repatriation at no cost to them.
Jeff: Which is not going to make the Europeans happy at all because what they'll do is they'll just declare all the revenue to be American revenue – [crosstalk]
Leo: We had an actual foreigner on the show, Renee Richie from Canada. He said, “You know, this sets a bad precedent for a country taxing income from another country.” So I think that, probably, this is a non-starter.
Jeff: This is going to be a fight.
Leo: Yes, anyway -
Jeff: Let me just say this about Google and full disclosure, I own Google stock and I ain't selling it. It's going to do amazingly for a long time to come, I still believe.
Mike: I think you're right.
Leo: Would you buy Facebook stock?
Jeff: Yes, well, I wish I bought it long ago. Yes, I think – the thing is about Facebook is, as a user, I'm not as engaged as I wish I were to fully understand where Facebook is and is going. Do you know what I mean? That's my issue there. I'm more engaged in Google+, Mike and I are the two wackos in the world who are. With Facebook, I delve in all the time. I just am not as into it as I think I should be to understand where their business is going.
Mike: But, you know, facebook.com is not where their business is going. Their business is going in a million different apps and they're really aggressive. They're being successful and I would definitely buy Facebook stock. I think that their monopoly on everybody is growing to the point of no return. Nobody cares how bad Facebook is, that's where everybody is. So you've got to be there and it's just -
Jeff: What about the argument we hear though, Mike, all the time - “Oh, but my kids aren't on Facebook.” They're on What's App and they're on Instagram. Is that the answer?
Mike: They're also not using email but they will. They'll come around.
Leo: They are using Snapchat, I know it for a fact because Nick Bilton told me so. If you haven't seen Nick Bilton's Snapchat instruction to me on TWiT on Sunday, you've really got to watch.
Mike: But you know, you really know what the kids – [crosstalk]
Leo: I'm a believer. The kids use Snapchat.
Mike: You'll know the kids are using Snapchat when Facebook buys Snapchat.
Leo: Didn't Facebook try to buy Snapchat?
Mike: They did, but you know, maybe they'll throw $20 billion at it or something like that. What I'm saying is that Facebook is – whenever they see a category that is threatening their – where people are going, they'll go and snap it up before people can go there, essentially.
Leo: Yes, yes. See, the kids aren't as dumb as they look and they're also very fickle. So they're both smart and fickle. I talked to my son Henry, he's 20. You have two young sons, so you kind of know too. But I had Henry over Christmas break and about six of his friends, all the same, all college students. I said, “Do you use Facebook?” “No, that's what our parents use.” “Do you use Twitter?” “We use it to message each other for fun, it's a hoot.” They don't use it the same way we do.
“Do you use What's App?” “No.” One guy used it with his French girlfriend, that's it. “What do you use?” “Snapchat, all the time. A little bit of Instagram but mostly Snapchat all the time.”
Mike: But Snapchat is the social network for fickle people, as you said. Once they have kids and the kids, you know – Facebook -
Leo: Maybe they'll come to Facebook.
Mike: Facebook is the inevitable. That's where the gravitational center of the black hole is. It's like, if people get sucked into it one way or the other, eventually, most people do. Not everybody. So yes, when you're like Henry, you're in college, you have a bunch of young friends, probably half of his friends he met within the last two years.
Leo: There are no baby pictures, you're right.
Mike: That's a place you can come and go. Next year, it'll be something else. There will be another platform that they will have left Snapchat for.
Leo: That's what I mean. They're fickle, so you can't really predict.
Jeff: Wow. Do me a favor and just go to snapchat.com right now.
Leo: I don't think there is a web interface.
Jeff: There is. And what's striking about it is the big media brands that are there.
Leo: Oh, yes, this just happened.
Jeff: This is phenomenal.
Leo: Have you seen Katie Couric and what she's doing on Snapchat?
Jeff: A little bit, yes.
Leo: I think it's very intriguing. Let me show you.
Jeff: It's interesting.
Leo: She's doing news on Snapchat. So they just added on Snapchat, a – I've been logged out? Oh, I got to log back in again.
So what she does is, you know, you only get ten seconds per Snap and they die, by the way, after 24 hours even if nobody looks at them. She's doing one story, very nicely produced – in fact, there must be a tool, like a desktop tool for these brands. Because there are people doing content on Snapchat, that's what you're seeing here. Okay, so let me go back into Snapchat.
Mike: You've even got Youtube stars.
Leo: Here's Snapchat. You press the Discover button. These are all the different brands, CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, but here's Yahoo. Watch – I don't know if you'll be able to hear this but watch what Katie Couric is doing, it's really – well, I guess what Yahoo is doing. We should probably say it that way.
That's a news story. It's going to repeat but if I want, I swipe to the next one. So that'll repeat and I swipe again, another story. I don't know what value there is, I don't know if they can monetize this. It's obviously, I think -
Jeff: It's currently branding. I mean, Katie -
Leo: I asked Nick on this because Nick just wrote a New York Times piece signing Snapchat's praises. I said, “Are these brands wasting their money?” He said, “Absolutely.” This is great for Snapchat but I got to tell you -
Jeff: Not for Katie Couric. Here's why, because I think that Marissa Mayer hiring her expected it would draw audience to it, but people have to know she's there. Once she's there and interesting, I think that's branding that's important.
Leo: Do you really think that anybody uses Snapchat and goes, “Oh,there's Katie Couric! She's on Yahoo News now.”
Jeff: Let me do another full disclosure is that Katie is, in fact and indeed, a truly nice person and I imposed like crazy on her to speak to my daughter's school about women in media and she agreed to do it. So I love Katie right now.
Leo: I do too.
Jeff: Katie's a hero. Katie is absolutely as sweet as can be, she's as nice as she seems.
Leo: Did she ever find out what internet was, though?
Jeff: That was the greatest. But that's part of her, that she's willing to make fun of herself and I think she's trying very hard to be innovative. So I think there's an audience of really young people who didn't watch Katie Couric on the Today Show, didn't watch her on CBS so she's somebody new to Yahoo News. Who knows? I think it's worth the shot.
Leo: I was telling Mike, I think we should do TNT this way.
Mike: Yes, exactly.
Leo: We should take the top five stories on TNT and make little Snapchats out of them.
Mike: Yes. It'll take us five minutes. So that part of it is interesting, the big brand, the big names, all that kind of stuff. ESPN, People, Vice and so on, that's the part that's going to fail, I think, on Snapchat. There's another thing I think is really interesting is that-
Leo: I could see my son watching this because this is just highlight clips and t his is about his attention span, six seconds.
Actually, this seems to me – the ESPN thing makes sense to me.
Mike: It does make sense. I'm not sure – the big problem is that people approach Snapchat with a mindset about what they want to do with it. It's a communications medium so they have an uphill battle convincing people to embrace that as a passive content reception medium. But Snapchat is also launching something called Snapper Hero, which are Youtube celebrities like Shonduras McBride, and Freddy Wong and others. What's interesting about that is that these episodes will run for about two minutes. What they're doing is they're trying to – when you see these Youtube celebrities, they're almost like one of your friends showing you a goofy video. So they're trying to train users to use video a lot more because video is the most powerful medium, it's the most eye-grabbing medium, eyeball-catching and attention-grabbing medium there is. So everybody is trying to get people to use video and they're using these Youtube stars to get people to sort of train them to this behavior of sharing videos.
Leo: Wow, this is just wild.
Mike: Which is different from Katie Couric. People are not going to launch news programs when they see Katie Couric.
Jeff: What was Nick's argument about the wonder of Snapchat and why Snapchat – I'll watch it, I haven't seen it.
Leo: He's using Snapchat Stories, which I find interesting. It is really, kind of, the individual's way of doing this, which is doing short little stories all linked together. So I could actually do one if I could figure it out. The other thing that's weird about Snapchat is the user interface is bizarre. I don't know how to get out of anything. All right, here we go.
So I can record something. We'll do something real quickly here, flip the camera around. It's another Snapchat Story from TWiT. Then I could add text or whatever and add it to this. Now it's part of a Story, which anybody can watch. You can have lots of pieces in your Story, very much like the Katie Couric thing or the ESPN thing. People can subscribe to you. It's not, you know, messages from friends. So Baratunde is doing that. Actually, I wish I could show you Bilton's yesterday, but it's gone. That's the other thing that's weird is that it goes away, right? So this is Snap-atunde. He's using a lot of text. I don't know, there's just something interesting about this. Nick really feels like this is a communications medium for a new generation and it's the kids.
Of course, as you know, from being in media, Jeff, for years, everybody wants the kids. How can we get the kids? What are the kids doing?
Mike: Why would anybody want the kids?
Leo: I don't know. Screw the kids. That's why I turned off Amber alerts. We're going to take a break – I've decided my new persona is going to be grumpy. We're going to take a break and come back with more. We've got a good panel, I'll tell you. It's always great with Jeff Jarvis, Mike Elgan, talking the Google. Talking 'bout stuff. But first, let's talk a little bit about legalzoom.com.
If you're starting a business, got a family, legal costs can really eat you alive. In fact, probably it's enough that it's kept you from getting that will or the healthcare power of attorney, or a financial power of attorney. Maybe you've got a business but you haven't created a limited liability company, an S-corp or C-corp yet. LegalZoom makes it easy.They're not a law firm, they actually are self-help services at your specific direction. So you go to legalzoom.com and you start getting your life organized. A great place to start, protecting your family, take control of your family's future, make a will or a living trust. LegalZoom makes it easy. There's no more affordable or easier way to make sure your family is legally taken care of. You can also get your business in shape with trademarks, patents, incorporation, all very affordable. Now, from time to time, you might want an attorney to ask a few questions. If you like more help, LegalZoom can connect you with an independent attorney in many states. LegalZoom is not a law firm but these pre-negotiated fixed rate prices are very affordable to get answers from an attorney as well.
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Project Tango. What is Project Tango?
Jeff: The phone thing, isn't it?
Leo: Is this the Era?
Jason: 3D mapping.
Leo: Oh, it's 3D mapping.
Mike: It's a physical hardware prototype device that has powerful, powerful chips in it that essentially can in an instant, very quickly, 3D map indoor spaces which can be used for a million things, for gaming, for – [crosstalk]
Leo: For E911.
Mike: Yes, exactly.
Leo: So spitting it out means it's still part of Google but it's no longer going to be in the Advanced Technology Group. It's going to be kind of a little bit more real, I guess.
Mike: Yes. When this happened to Google Glass, everybody said that Google Glass was dead. When they said, “It's a real product now,” we said, “See, it's dead.” No, it's a real product now.
Leo: They're going to sell this?
Mike: Yes, absolutely. Well, this is a device that is something of a reference platform. So they're going to basically want others -
Leo: Can you put it on a smart phone? It looks like it's a running app.
Mike: It is. It's a modified phone that has graphics chips in it that, until a year ago or two years ago, only existed in very powerful computers. So it's high-end, kind of expensive, but you can imagine unbelievable – like, when Microsoft rolled out the HoloLens, everybody said, “Wow, this is the future. This is amazing.” Yes, that is the future. That experience is going to be a massive platform, just like you said, Leo, on several shows. This is a whole new platform. But I'm not so sure that Microsoft is going to own it. This is going to be enabling that sort of device. You'll plug a headset into this thing and walk around with this thing.
Jeff: I just think that the opportunity for sight-impaired people is unbelievable.
Leo: So you can use this not only to map, but once mapped, you can navigate around and walk around in here.
Jeff: Yes. “Take me to the bathroom,” you know? Just, right there, the power of that and then put in things like internet and things.
Leo: So it would give you – it would say, “Okay, walk three steps and turn left,” that kind of thing?
Mike: No, no. It will not only know where the hall is, where the door is, it'll know that there's a toy truck right in front of you, don't step on that. Walk around the dog, the dog is walking away. I mean, it's real time -
Leo: So it's seeing as well as something that's already recorded. Wow.
Mike: Oh, yes. It's constantly mapping, recording and seeing all at the same time. It's not instant, instant but it's relatively high fidelity and it's in a mobile phone.
Leo: Do you think this will be involved with the Leap Motion technologies that Google is also invested in or is that a separate kind of thing?
Mike: I'm pretty sure that's a separate kind of thing.
Leo: Because this is all the stuff that the investors said, “Get out of this stuff and stick to your knitting.”
Mike: They were wrong about that.
Leo: “You're spending money on this? What are you, nuts?”
Mike: I actually have a feeling that the Leap Motion is a little bit ahead of Microsoft's HoloLens and I don't think this is related to Leap Motion. This is all about making a sort of indoor mapping, highly mobile and I don't think your Galaxy S7 is going to have this technology in it. I don't think this is going to be a consumer product.
Leo: Yes. Looks like it's a dedicated thing, right?
Mike: Yes. It'll be a higher-end device but -
Leo: Maybe it will be on something like a Galaxy S7. They've got to find ways to put stuff into and distinguish the next generation of phones. We've already hit the wall on what new stuff you can do. So there's still Project Era. But Project Tango exits the Advanced Technologies and Projects group to become, perhaps, a real product.
Jeff: What's interesting, too, is now imagine Street View brought inside, fully mapping the inside world.
Jeff: A mall, then you start to map to merchandise, advertising opportunities.
Leo: As long as we're talking Blue Sky, this is another project out of Google's X projects. Google is making human skin.
Mike: Yes. So that they can cure cancer. They're having a type of -
Jeff: Detect cancer.
Mike: Yes, detect cancer, sorry.
Leo: Wait a minute. So they've been making synthetic human skin to create a wristband that can detect cancer, heart attacks or other diseases? This is a little creepy. This video from the Atlantic shows two disembodied arms …
Jeff: It's the beginning of Google making human beings, that's what it's about. Let's be honest, now.
Leo: Wow. They use nanoparticles – wait a minute. They use nano – wait a minute. Wait a minute. These synthetic skin strips are using nanoparticles to search in my body for disease?
Mike: No, the skin strips -
Leo: That's what it says here.
Mike: The skin strips are being used to test this technology that uses nanoparticles to detect cancer.
Leo: Oh, they don't have the nanoparticles yet but they want to be ready with the skin strips.
Mike: They want – so, the condensed version is that they're working on technology that will enable a bracelet to detect cancer using magnetic nanoparticles. But -
Leo: But you would swallow the pill containing the nanoparticles?
Mike: Right. So the arm and the skin – they have the same light, kind of, absorbing properties as human skin and other qualities of human skin so they can test it without doing something weird to some real human's wrists. So the artificial skin and artificial arm part of it is a test dummy for their technology that would detect cancer with a bracelet. It's a search engine company, of course they're doing this.
Leo: Of course they're doing it.
Jeff: Google is going to replace you, not with a robot but with an artificial human. That's it, let's just be honest. That's what we feared and it's happening.
Leo: I'm kind of thrilled that – this is Larry or is it Sergei?
Leo: I'm kind of thrilled that Sergei has decided, “I've got more money than God. What should I do with it? I'm going to support Blue Sky stuff and better yet, instead of just leaving Google and having a secret lab in a mountain volcano somewhere, I'm going to do it inside Google.”
Jeff: I think it's more than that, Leo. I think it's Bell Labs. I think it's the role that AT&T had once in this country where we're going to do things about space and we're going to net the transistor -
Leo: Was Bell Labs stuff as goofy as this?
Jeff: There was not quite as goofy, but there was pure research. There was absolutely pure research.
Leo: Unix came out of it, Seed came out of it. Much of what we use in modern computing came out of Bell Labs. As you said, the transistor.
Mike: But I think what Bell Labs did was all about computing and electricity, that sort of thing. What this is all about is, I think that Sergei in particular and Google in general tend to see Google as the experts in using massive data sets in creative things to solve problems in a way that used to require a lot more money, a lot more people and a lot more time. So I think that they see this as identical to the search engine business because you're basically doing lots of data crunching and figuring all these things. Remember, Sergei’s wife, they're still married, runs 23andMe. I'm sure that they have had many conversations about how you could use big data number crunching to figure out all kinds of correlations about health. “Oh, people who are left-handed and also live in Utah never get cancer.” Whatever these unexpected – they're right about that. He's right about that. You can make so much – you can do so much good in the world.
Leo: And, by the way, there's probably profit in all of this too. I think one of the things Google does recognize – we've talked about this before, that the Search thing isn't going to last forever and you've got to have the next thing. I'm sure that's what Bell Labs was up to. So here's an interesting thing. You can be your own technical director. Jason Howell has always dreamt, someday, of being able to watch video and switch the angles. This is a Youtube performer named Madeline Bailey. She's the first to have switchable angles. So right now, we're on this angle but let's say you'd like to see a side view. Wow, now, this is the same video.
Now he's talking, so let's go look at him. Wonder what she's thinking while Arnold is talking or let's get all of the – it's too bad this is wasted on such horrible programming.
Jeff: Imagine, Leo – [crosstalk]
Mike: He's bringing the fannypack back, there.
Jeff: - and it's just three cameras, imagine the 30 cameras you have.
Leo: I would love to do this. What do we have to do to get into this project? We actually have content.
Mike: We almost already have this with DropCams.
Leo: We can. We have six DropCams you can just switch from but not as – I like how fast this is. This is like – you know, I always thought this would be kind of interesting. We actually have dreamt of doing this for a long time at TWiT, since almost day one and we're ten years old. But I realized I had to have a separate stream for each camera and I was thinking of a user interface where you could do that, cut back and forth.
Jeff: Then you've got to have a website.
Leo: Yes, we can't afford a website.
Jason: You had to bring that up.
Leo: Switchable angles, says ComputerVision or CompuVision in our chatroom, was a part of the DVD standard 230 years ago. Just, nobody did it. I remember that, dimly.
Jeff: Even before DVD, what was the big disk?
Leo: Laser disk.
Jeff: Yes, laser disk.
Leo: Blu-ray also has angles. I mean, I don't know. I feel like -
Jason: Don't most people just want to watch though?
Leo: I feel like this is your job, Jason.
Mike: What ever happened to the lean back experience?
Jason: Yes, it's my job. I do it as a job. When I'm at home, about to put on a concert, I suppose it's neat to be able to do something like this but am I really going to sit on my couch or at my computer to watch an hour-long video and switch cameras?
Mike: You don't want to replace your remote control with a Tricaster, Jason?
Jeff: Imagine how you could create programming that could be made for this.
Leo: Well, I think porn could benefit from this.
Jeff: Oh, yes.
Leo: This is interesting. There it is, there you've seen it. It's an experiment. Madeline Bailey is doing it on her Youtube channel. Youtube Music Night performance there and that's how you switch around. It's cool. I mean, it's not a hard thing to do. I think Alex Lindsey did something like this as well. What is Smart Lock?
Should we do this story? What is Smart Lock?
Jeff: Oh, this is driving me nutty. Smart Lock is so that you don't have to unlock your computer if your phone is nearby, if you have Android 5 and if you have Chrome.
Leo: Oh, I like it.
Jeff: So you would think, you would think that I, of all people, would be able to do that.
Leo: Yes, Mister Pixel.
Jeff: No, no, no, because guess what? Google Apps accounts getting screwed again and you have to march through all kinds of hoops, light them on fire and I still haven't been able to make them work. I, Google fanboy, have not been able to make this freaking work. While I'm at this, something else has changed so that now, even though I'm signed into my Apps account, every window is my Apps account, all Apps account, when I open a new Google app, it defaults to my Google+ Gmail account. So I try to open something in Docs, it opens it up in the wrong damned account because Google can't [gibberish] figure this out.
Mike: Yes, but that's – in other words, this is actually a really cool feature that gets screwed up when you have multiple accounts because, as you said, Google can't figure that out.
Jeff: It gets totally screwed up and I still have not been able to get this going. There's complicated – you have to go in, into the Apps admin account. There's a Chrome thing which is hidden in other apps. You have to go in there and find the place where you say, “Okay, you can use this neat new feature.” Then you need to restart, find it – I still can't find it.
Mike: I don't understand how this is super different from the feature – I think they first introduced it in the Moto X with the Bluetooth thing and you even had a little magnetic -
Leo: Skip, yes.
Mike: But you could also do it with your phone or whatever?
Leo: They do that now, in fact, on the current Moto X if it's a trusted Bluetooth network, it just unlocks it.
Mike: And, of course, this concept is going to be huge in the internet of things and home automation. This will unlock everything, turn on lights, it'll be like Bill Gates' house.
Jeff: I think you're going to wear your electronic identity.
Mike: Yes, and it should be your smart phone.
Jeff: No. I don't think it's your smart phone. I think your smart phone is just another accessory.
Leo: Did you ever get into Bill Gates' house? I always tried to but the guards catch me each time.
Mike: The security, yes.
Leo: I remember when he built it and this was ten or 15 years ago, the idea was that you would walk into a room and he would already know what paintings and pictures you liked.
Mike: You'd be issued a pin of some kind, a device that you clip on.
Leo: It would sense you and the paintings would change on the TV screens in the room to match your needs.
Jeff: I'm afraid I would walk in and it would be some Thomas Kinkade horrible crap, they think I have no taste.
Leo: I think that's kind of – I wonder if he put it in 15 years ago, if it's kind of dusty and faded. It doesn't work anymore.
Mike: It'll be like Tomorrow Land at Disneyland.
Leo: “Welcome, welcome, welcome.” I feel like – what do you think? I would like to get into Bill Gates' house now and see how much of that crap they've just turned off, like, “Yes, that was not a good idea.”
Mike: I'm sure that's true.
Leo: It's not so much the guards, it's the wall and the dogs. But I'm working on it. I shouldn't say that because then they're going to come, the Microsoft police.
Jeff: No, it's Apple that has the police.
Leo: I think Microsoft probably has police, too.
Mike: Get with the program. Use a drone like everybody else.
Leo: One of Bill's books had a virtual tour of his house, says Fred Flintstone, who has a mighty nice house himself, I might add. He had to do everything with his furry feet.
Google's secret weapon in the battle of the internet of things, speaking of IOT academia, according to this article in Fast Company. Tina Amirtha. Google is not adverse to using university brain power for a lot of what it's doing. Maggie Johnson, Google Research's Director of Education and University Relations.
Mike: They have a grant program called “Open Web of Things to Attract Talent to the Company.” You know, they've already hired a huge number of academics. It's almost borderline brain drain situation.
Leo: They've always had more PhDs than any company in America, right?
Jeff: You know, there's an interesting precedent set to judge today – I'm forgetting his name, former Guardian Journalist who does visualization at Twitter is now also, in addition to that, a contributing editor at Vox. He's going to keep his Twitter job but also do Vox. Which, is interesting because I wonder what other media companies will think about that. “You're working for Vox. Are you going to give us the nice stuff or not?”
Leo: Really. Google's giving – we mentioned that Intel is spending, how much was it? $300 million.
Leo: To encourage diversity in technology. Google, not to be left behind, has said, “We'll give $775 thousand.”
Jeff: Million. Is it thousand?
Leo: Yes, a thousand.
Mike: They're giving it in grants to code 2040.
Leo: Google, Intel gave $300 million.
Mike: That, I believe, was for gender diversity. This was for diversity to get more minorities into technology.
Leo: I think Intel's does it all but, yes.
Mike: Do they? Okay.
Leo: That's my memory.
Mike: Code 2040 has free training programs for Black and Latino college engineering students and I think this is the kind of thing, although it's surprising how little it is in terms of Google bucks, but they would love to hire more women and minorities. It's a systemic, deep, cultural problem that is more than just hiring people who – you know. So this is a little part of it, boosting engineering students at the college level is one tiny way to do it. It's barely going to touch the issue, as far as I'm concerned.
Jeff: Same in our industry, Mike. You know, CUNY prides itself on being diverse and we are highly diverse but we can never do it enough.
Mike: The problem with journalism – journalism has a special problem in that the education that you need in order to be a journalist – you can make a lot more money not being a journalist.
Jeff: Amen. That's exactly the problem.
Mike: So if you're from a family, if your parents immigrated from another country or something like that and you're the one person to ever go to an American University. You go through it all, you have all this education, everybody's going to be disappointed if you take that vow of poverty and become a journalist. They're going to want you to go to Wall Street or go into something you're going to make a lot more money. So that's a big, big problem, not so much in technology but that still exists as well because people think that everybody in Silicon Valley makes a ton of money. They don't, really. Good engineers make pretty good money, but when you have to live in Silicon Valley and pay the costs of living, it ends up being, you know, barely upper-middle class. So it's kind of a big problem and at least they're doing something, I guess, that's something that can be said.
Jeff: It's also an argument to say, “Let's break up this Silicon Valley technology ghetto and do development all around the country,” which is happening.
Mike: Yes. It is and it isn't. There's a lot of that stuff going on but there's still no substitute for that intense kind of incubator in the air kind of feel in Silicon Valley. There's a lot to be said for that. There was a study recently that looked at the degree to which that sort of synergistic quality/culture of Silicon Valley actually had material benefits for the success of companies and stuff like that. It is good to see it being diversified, and every week, there's another article, like, “This is the next Silicon Valley,” and it's Des Moines, Iowa.
Jeff: Speaking of New York, we're going to do TWiT stuff here soon, I hope. We do not have a robust technology and investment scene in New York and it does feed on itself. There's a point of critical mass but I think we have it now in New York.
Mike: I think what's really happening that's kind of skewing the picture is that a lot of what we talk about in terms of technology is writing an app, right? Writing an app – you can write an app if you specialize in something highly special. You can do that literally anywhere and you can get rich. A tiny minority will get rich doing it. A lot of the technology, though, that isn't writing an app, sort of deep enterprise software or real hardware that has to integrate with other things or get into the biotech that's happening, a lot of the food technology that's happening in Silicon Valley, that stuff is harder to do when you're – I mean, New York is Silicon Alley, of course, a hotbed of technology. Massachusetts, a lot of areas like that but if you talk about outside the major cities, that's something you really need to go to a place like Silicon Valley, New York City, London or someplace like that where you can find lots of support and infrastructure, and you can hire people.
You know, a lot of it is where the universities that specialize in certain things. So if you look in New York, one of the things that New York is just amazing at in terms of the population there is the number of people who are in science, especially, oddly enough, science journalism. All the science journalists are in New York and half of those are in Brooklyn.
Leo: They all work for the New Yorker.
Mike: Yes, yes. It's like they're very hard to find in Silicon Valley.
Leo: That's interesting.
Mike: It really is kind of odd. But again, where are the universities? You're going to find clusters of certain types of people in Massachusetts, near Harvard, etc., and MIT and so on. So you – let's face it. Silicon Valley exists because of Stanford.
Leo: Right. What did you think of this editorial from the New York Times yesterday against the right to be forgotten?
Mike: I think it's exactly what we've all been saying for several months. It's nice to see them sort of saying it now, finally. That's the basic argument. Once there's a precedent set where governments can say, “You can't say this on the search engines,” everybody is going to want a piece of that. So China, and Turkey, and Iran and everybody's going to want to say, “Well, here's our version of the right to be forgotten. We want people to forget the Armenian genocide.”
Leo: The Times editorial board wrote, “This position is deeply troubling because it could lead to censorship by public officials who want to whitewash the past. It also sets a terrible example for officials in other countries who might want to demand that internet companies remove links they don't like. There is no doubt the internet has made it harder for governments to enforce certain rules and laws because information is not easily contained within borders. That does not justify restricting the information available to citizens of other countries.”
Jeff: It's a free speech issue. But you know, back from Davos, the media counsel of which I'm a member had an important discussion about freedom of speech, starting with peril to journalists. This was right after Charlie Hebdo. It's sobering, when you get into a truly international audience, how few people around the world hold to the free speech absolutist view that we Americans have. I think that's where the right to be forgotten comes from, even in a very progressive land of Europe, this idea that there's a balancing of speech. I don't buy that, myself. I think it's very important to say that there's a right to remember. It's very important to say, “You can't control knowledge. You can't rewrite history.” I think at times, a little overdoing it but I'm really glad they wrote the editorial. Now, at the same time, Google had a, frankly, hand-picked group of people studying this and without any particular surprise, they said that the right to be forgotten should stick to Europe and should not be worldwide at the same time the EU is going to try to impose their will on the whole world. I say to them, “To hell with you. You're not going to affect my speech here, no.”
Mike: I have a theory about that, Jeff. You talked about the idea that Americans tend to be more passionate or more absolutist about free speech than elsewhere, including Europe. My theory is that's not entirely the case. I think what's different is that I think American's take the internet more seriously as a bonafide source of content and information than other places. I get the feeling that in Europe, they would never, ever try to impose the same kinds of restrictions in novels, in academic studies, in other types of content, other media. But the internet, “Oh, that's just a confection. That's just this superficial thing that's annoying. It's not real.”
Jeff: I think that's exactly right and I think it's not just the internet. It goes back to when I was a TV critic, I would try to defend television and people would restrict television in a way they'd never consider doing to books. Even I objected and got into a tiff with Ed Markey on a TV show many, many years ago about the V chip that's in cable boxes by government regulation. It never came to pass but the worst fear was, if you were the so-called [1:22:34] to the television counsel, the Howard Stern enemies, you'll just get every show that you don't possibly like with a Scarlet Letter with a V on it so it can be blocked across the market. Technology would be a handmaiden to censorship. So you're right. I think that we hold books to be holy and every other medium, pretty much every other medium, if you consider the kind of censorship that's occurred in movies over the years, and television and the internet is seen as less. But it's all speech, or as the [1:23:04] Manifesto would say, “It's all conversation.”
Mike: Right, and there's – we see this type of attitude all over the place. For instance, there's a video game called Hotline Miami 2, which was banned in Australia because there's a rape scene in it. So there's a lot of people talking about this, the chattering classes are talking about this and saying, “Oh, well it's good because -” But apply that to novels. Should we say that it's illegal to have depictions of rape in novels? What about books? What about scientific studies about rape? Should those be banned? Where – what is it about video games? This, by the way, is a satire of a criticism of violent video games like Grand Theft Auto. That's what the game is, it's using the video game format to sort of expose to ridiculous extremes what these games are like. To ban them on that basically says, “Okay, this is not a legitimate art form,” like painting. You would never put such restrictions on painters, photographers or any of the older existing communications media. This is just an ongoing issue that we're going to have to grapple with.
Eventually, I think the – by the way, it has to be said. I'd mentioned that Europeans tend to not take the internet as seriously. I don't think that's the case among most European populations. That's not the people. That's the bureaucrats who are an entirely different -
Leo: This is comedically bloody, this game. We probably shouldn't show it. I don't want to get banned in Australia or anything.
Mike: It looks almost 8-bit.
Leo: It is 8-bit, top down. It's obviously tongue in cheek but I think you made an excellent point. I think that comes from an out-of-date notion that video games are for kids. That's obviously out of date.
So speaking of kids, Google has bought Toontastic, a storyteller app created by Launchpad games. In Asset Today, they didn't say how much but they have made Toontastic free. I'm not familiar with it but it's for the iPad. It's a modern-day puppet show. You can record them and share them with others. Google is working, I guess, on I don't know what. Maybe this is for the new children's Youtube. I don't know what this is for. Actually, this might be an interesting thing. It had been rumored they were working on a Youtube for kids, maybe let kids make their own videos in this kind of context.
It's not the only acquisition. Microsoft, according to Tech Crunch Today, bought Sunrise, a calendar app we've used and recommended. I really love, on iOS and Android. Earlier, they bought – you may remember, they bought Acompli. They've turned that into Outlook for iOS. It sounds like Microsoft is acquiring other mobile developers.
Mike: It's so weird to see Microsoft becoming a company that doesn't have a problem about other mobile platforms.
Leo: I love it. I think this is a new Microsoft and I welcome it. Rolling Stone has teamed up with Google Play to monetize their archives. So Google Play has a magazine stand, which I had forgotten because I never use it. But they're going to take, I guess, archival articles, issues – it says three to four stories from each archive issue for free on Google Play. Then, I guess all of – it would be kind of fun to get old Rolling Stones.
Jeff: I use Google Play News all the time.
Leo: I use the News, which is a really great little app that replaced Current, right?
Jeff: Yes, and I think it's actually very good. That's the thing, I don't subscribe. I was just thinking, I used to buy magazines by the pound. I love magazines. I started a magazine. And the magazine stand I used to buy the most from in Jersey City was near my old office. I just saw they tore it down and it's gone. You can't find newsstands anywhere. I don't buy magazines any more. I walk by newsstands now and think, I don't even go into them any more. So I don't have the reflex to buy them on an app.
Leo: I'm the same way. It's all about deep links and going article by article, not even site by site but article by article, which it really kind of is a problem, I think, for the long-term health of article aggregators. We used to call them magazines.
Mike: I remember that.
Leo: You know what I just did that we had so much fun on our vacation? Reading the New York Times newspaper every morning.
Mike: I read it every day.
Leo: I subscribe to the daily delivery of New York Times.
Mike: It's a joy.
Leo: I really like it.
Mike: I got today's -
Leo: Isn't it great? Then I get – this is what I used to do when I was a radio talk show host, I would cut and take a razor blade to cut out articles, put them in a folder and bring them to work.
Mike: Yes, a morgue file.
Leo: Now I keep clicking on the article trying to share it and nothing happens.
Mike: See, I keep telling people this and they don't believe me. I look at a screen 12 hours a day and it's the most digital, most technology-obsessed people who need print reading material like the New York Times.
Leo: Also, it is a better interface. You can scan more articles faster. It seems like there are more articles in the printed edition. I mean, I've been reading the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal online for years. It seems like there's more stuff there.
Mike: The benefits in the print, online and digital versions of articles, they always pitch as a benefit the idea that you can find what you want, which means that you don't find what you don't think you want.
Leo: There's more serendipity, I agree.
Mike: So the New York Times, on print, forces you to go – you know, I can talk intelligently about all kinds of issues and conflicts around the world that are happening, that no one else has even heard of because they're never forced to – [crosstalk]
Leo: Especially international, you're exactly right.
Mike: That's right. We know all about the plane crashes in Taiwan. We know all about the big splashy stuff that has crazy video. We don't know about the little conflicts that are really shaping the world and it's a real problem.
Leo: Jeff, we're trying to support this whole journalism thing you're into.
Jeff: See, but I think you're holding up – you're extending the past needlessly. The New York Times – we subscribe to the New York Times. The reason we do is because it's cheaper than subscribing to the New York Times digital only because print subscribers are worth more so they aren't officially pumping up the print. The New York Times has now hit, they say they're going to hit one million digital subscriber this year, which is very impressive, I must say. It would be much higher if they didn't have that artificial support for print.
Mike: But it has to be said that I think the real solution that is needed here is not that everybody start reading a black and white newspaper again and getting a home delivery and all that stuff. The solution is that we need to figure out a way to make digital devices do what the New York Times does, which is expose to you, sort of serendipitously, all kinds of things that you are not thinking of at the moment and aren't necessarily related to the kinds of things that you're normally interested in. I mean, one of the crazy things about the New York Times, and I've been subscribing since I was in college, is that you flip through it and you're seeing stuff that you would never even think of, like what's happening in stage performances in London. You know, every once in a while there are articles like that that are incredibly interesting and very enlightening, and relevant to other things that you're thinking about, doing and so on that you would never in a million years see if you were using Google's Play News.
Jeff: So you're arguing for serendipity, and editors like to think that they are the sole proprietors of serendipity. But I'm going to go to your favorite service. I was on the plane coming back from Davos and I opened up Google+ on the plane with no WiFi. But I just looked at the page that was already loaded there and I opened seven new tabs of interesting things that I saw that when I landed, I wanted to look at. Twitter, you get serendipity from that. I think it's interesting that the Play Newsstand, versus Google News – Google News is an overload and it's everything. I don't think they've thought through what Google News can be. And then Play is so brand-oriented. There's something in the middle that will do a better job of giving you serendipity across brands. But I get it a lot from Twitter.
Leo: People have tried that.
Jeff: I mean, Flipboard, but that's not really.
Leo: I mean, even Google News, right? Isn't Google News all about cross-brand serendipity?
Jeff: It's trying to be kind of everything. The irony to me is, Google News doesn't personalize much.
Leo: You're overlooking something very important. The New York Times print edition is very soft and absorbent, as well.
Mike: Yes it is. You can use it to clean windows. Try that with Google Play.
Jeff: Try that with my tablet. Oh, by the way, Google News flash here. The wait is over. My Nexus 7.
Leo: Ah, 5.02 as well.
Jason: It's a miracle.
Leo: Now, wait a minute. Is that a Verizon? Is that an LTE-1, or?
Jeff: No, no, it's not Verizon. It's T-MObile, thank you very much.
Leo: But it is LTE?
Jeff: It is LTE and I've been waiting forever.
Leo: I've got it on my WiFi Nexus 7 months ago. So good.
Jeff: I don't know why I had to wait so long.
Leo: Now you can unlock your Chromebook with it.
Jeff: Don't get me started. I'm going to talk to you about websites if you're not nice to me.
Leo: By the way, they've already said Android 5.1 is on the way.
Jeff: I'm already behind, yes.
Leo: It's going to ship on Android 1 phones – what is an Android 1 phone, Jason? I don't even know what that is.
Jeff: That's the cheap one in India.
Leo: In Indonesia?
Jason: The low-cost Micromax devices in India.
Leo: They get Android 5.1 Lollipop before everybody else? Are they trying to piss us off?
Jeff: I like that. That's justice.
Leo: Are they trying to get us angry here, now? Then Nexus devices, when is it going to come? I don't know. It's out in Indonesia.
Jason: I don't know if we have a date on that but there are devices running 5.1 right now.
Mike: Google's been doing that a lot, lately. They're launching their Ara smart phone in Puerto Rico.
Leo: That makes sense.
Mike: From food trucks.
Leo: From what?
Mike: From food trucks. It's that food trucks are the distribution mechanism for Ara. I'm not kidding, I'm going. We should do – bring Padre and everybody down there.
Leo: Wait a minute, you mean you get some fried plantains and an Ara phone? What?
Mike: I hope so.
Leo: Okay. All right, I'm done. I don't want to talk about Cyanogen, we kind of talked about it before. Microsoft has invested money in them.
Jeff: There is one note off of last week's show. It was after the show, I think, when we mentioned that Microsoft was investing in Cyanogen. I was wondering why Cyanogen was so hostile to Google and now maybe that's the reason.
Leo: Or the other way around, Microsoft said, “Hey, we like these guys. They said they're going to kill Android.”
Jeff: Should we have a five seconds of silence for Radioshack?
Leo: This has been the longest goodbye in history. We knew they were running out of money. Now they're talking about selling some of their stores to Sprint. Amazon wants to buy a handful, for what, distribution centers?
Mike: Distribution centers, also as little mini Apple stores to show off their hardware devices. But also, mostly, you know, pickup locations instead of having lockers, which they tried at 7-11.
Jeff: They have one test, I think it's in Indiana, Purdue or some place.
Mike: Yes, Purdue and Amherst both have – they're not tests, they're full in.
Leo: I actually think this is kind of terrible. Radioshack, there were thousands of stores and it was the one place in many areas of the country where you could get electronics parts. It kind of got away from that and I think it's one of the reasons – we talked about this like two months ago when we first heard they were in trouble. I feel like they missed the boat. If Radioshack had said, “No, we're going to go after the maker movement, we're going to become an electronics center, a hobbyist center,” they might have survived. Becoming another place to buy a smart phone seemed like a bad idea.
Mike: The problem is that we're familiar with Fries out here. Now, Fries is like, imagine a Radioshack that's the size of a Costco and this really works, especially, there's several of them in Silicon Valley that are packed to the gills. They also sell electronics, vacuum cleaners, washing machines -
Leo: Even in areas where people are smart enough and wired enough to buy online, they still go to brick and mortar.
Mike: Exactly. The problem with Radioshack is that they existed in an era where, you have an electronic device was to tinker with it in some way, or reprogram it, whatever. Nowadays, people just want to buy this appliance and forget about it except for the makers. And the makers – the world is so much more complex now. A store that would really serve the maker community would have to be enormous. Radioshacks are tiny. They have all these retail outlets, 4000 of them -
Leo: 4000, wow.
Mike: They used to have more of them, almost 6000. But these are tiny little stores that can't really serve – you know, they can have soltering irons, batteries and things like that, but really, a real maker person is – Radioshack is not big enough to hold the things they might need unless they were 3D printing, in which case, that might make sense.
Leo: Maybe this is the right end, they sell it to Sprint, become Sprint stores, become half of them. The rest, Amazonshack, they could call it.
Jason: Why not sell it to Google? Google, you got the money. Buy these and put all your devices in there.
Leo: They were going to build barges.
Jason: They're doing all these weird things. No, just go the straight way. Get Radioshack, put all your Nexus, your Nest and all of your whatever in there and people can actually play with them.
Leo: Who needs the food truck?
Mike: There's an outside chance that some of these stores may become co-branded Radioshack – remember Radioshack is not going out of business. They're declaring bankruptcy. They may co-brand them with Sprint so they become Sprint Radioshack stores. That's the dark horse outcome but that is one of the possibilities here that have to be mentioned.
Leo: Brookstone is also doing it, right? Brookstone is thinking about it.
Mike: Right. There's a high-tech company for you. Get the massager.
Leo: Brookstone is like the next to go. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Let's take a break, when we come back, I've got a cool tool, Jeff's got a number and we're going to let Mike find a thing. Look for your thing, Mike. It's got to be here somewhere.
Jason: Where did you see it last?
Mike: You don't want to know.
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Somebody's pointing out that Staples is trying to buy Office Depot. I think it really is tough times for brick and mortar right now, really tough. Was it you, Jeff? Somebody was saying that the future – if you really want to look at the future of retail, it's in high-touch, high-service – it's not being a place where people go to buy stuff.
Jeff: It's marketing. It's marketing space.
Leo: It's about marketing; it's about training; it's about creating a relationship. There's so much you can do with it and I think about the independent bookstores that have survived, they're not trying to compete with Amazon. They're not putting every book on the shelf. They have author signings, authors speaking, smart clerks who can help you find the right book. It's about service and I think there is an opportunity, still, for brick and mortar. I don't see every store closing downtown.
Jeff: When was the last time you were in a Best Buy?
Jeff: Well, go to a Best Buy and you're going to be amazed. Huge, gigantic space solely limited to Samsung, huge space to Microsoft, small space to Google, huge space to Sony. They buy that space in stores.
Leo: It's all coop marketing dollars.
Jeff: That's what it is.
Leo: We want to buy 150 square feet and Best Buy says, if you want to get your products sold, you can either put them with 18 other products on a dusty shelf that no one is paying any attention too or you can set up a store. Apple did this first.
Mike: The gold standard is Apple, for sure.
Jeff: Here's the other part of the business model. So if you go into Best Buy and you play with the Samsung phone there, Samsung doesn't care whether you buy it at Best Buy or not. Samsung says, “This is our marketing, this is our touch opportunity to show you the thing and show you how wonderful it is.” I've talked in the past – I'm involved with a retail genius named John Samson who has this vision for the future retail. I mentioned it in Public Parts briefly. He's a visionary about this stuff and I think that's where retail goes is toward marketing and we're starting to see the beginnings of this. But retail as a whole, as an industry, becomes much smaller, far more efficient. I don't know about you but I get frustrated – every time a retail space opens up, what goes in? A bank, a bank, a bank.
Leo: In Petaluma, it's antique store, antique store, antique store. Even the bank has an antique store, seriously.
Jeff: I now work in the center of the universe, if we do say so ourselves, Times Square. I've got to walk 20 minutes to find a bookstore. I've got to walk 20 minutes to find a Best Buy. There's nothing to browse. I used to go out on lunch hour when I was pissed off and angry, and I'd calm myself down by browsing, a record store, a bookstore, an electronics store. All gone, all gone.
Leo: That's really sad.
Jeff: That's life.
Leo: I think that's maybe because of the shortsightedness of the retailers who didn't understand what business they were in. They thought they were in the business of selling goods.
Jeff: Yes. Which, by the way, was a really awful business. You had a capital risk. You had pilferage. You had all kinds of awful things going on in retail, low margins.
Leo: Okay, Jeffrey Jarvis, number of the week.
Jeff: Jeffrey? Have I done something to anger you, boss? “Jeffrey ...”
Leo: What's your middle name?
Leo: Jeffrey Allen Jarvis. You get in here. What's your – ah!
Jeff: Okay, okay. [whimpering]
Leo: What's your number of the week?
Jeff: 524 million scolded bad ads killed by Google last year. 524 million.
Leo: What was bad about them?
Jeff: I'll tell you. That amounted to 214 thousand advertisers, which is interesting to me that that's basically an average of two ads Google kills.
Leo: That's because these people weren't real advertisers, they were malware vendors and things like that, right?
Jeff: Yes. 7000 promoted counterfeit goods, down from 14 thousand the year before, down from 82 thousand the year before that. So they say they're making progress. Malicious software was 250 thousand sites doing that in general. Then things like weight loss schemes -
Leo: You mean those belly fat ads? I got it. Belly fat? I can has it.
Jeff: And so it's pretty amazing that Google is the cop of the world and has to constantly worry about killing bad ads because it's bad for the Google brand. It's bad to rip off the users.
Leo: They've also set up a system where you can anonymously, without any human intervention, buy an ad. So they've set it up so that bad ads have easy access.
Jeff: Exactly. They've also been taken to task and fined for bad medical ads. So they have an obligation to do this. It's the cost of doing business for them. So this is something – I wonder whether Matt Cutts has been involved in that.
Leo: It's kind of like spam but I bet you they have a whole division dedicated to this.
Jeff: But there's a science of saying, how are the bad guys going to act? That's my number.
Leo: There's his number. Do you want to do a tip or should I?
Mike: Either way. I can go.
Leo: Go, go.
Mike: Epicurious, of course -
Leo: Love it!
Mike: Yes. It's a foodie magazine and they just, a week ago or so, updated their website and now have updated their apps.
Leo: Oh, I wonder if I have the latest.
Mike: Well, the Android app has not yet been updated, but any minute now. The iOS app – [crosstalk]
Jeff: The website is very effective.
Mike: But that's from 2010, that version of the app. The new version is absolutely spectacular.
Leo: Let's get an iOS – let's get a real phone over here and see what it looks like. Oh, first of all, it changed to a light red.
Mike: Yes. So they've got – it's a very contemporary design, very high performance.
Jeff: Very easy to search, very fast.
Mike: That's exactly it. It's a search that's super good, a Google-like search. It's not Google, the engine behind it, but the quality of the search is Conde Nast, yes.
Jeff: I was there. I was part of the original Epicurious team years ago. A woman named Joan Fenney and Rochelle Uddel did brilliant work starting Epi long ago.
Leo: So the idea is that it's not – it's a search across a variety of Conde Nast apps, right?
Mike: If you hit the hamburger, not the actual hamburger, the – there you go. Go to home, you'll see that it has this – yes.
Leo: I'm at home.
Mike: So there's a thing right below the search bar, there you go.
Leo: Oh, browse by category. Kid friendly, healthy food, choose an ingredient.
Mike: They have a what's in season in your area, so you can usually make -
Leo: What can I make with bourbon? No available recipes, oh wait, there we go. 32 thousand – wait a minute. There's 185 bourbon recipes. Chocolate fudge with bourbon. Trouble in Paradise. Peach ginger and bourbon.
Jeff: What's great about this too is that the cooks rate them but they also modify them. They make suggestions about it. So for example, I used -
Leo: So these are the user reviews, then.
Mike: Right, so whenever you see an ingredient you like, you can save it to your shopping list. You can get alerts on your shopping list when you're near a store that has those things.
Leo: Next time you're at the store, Mike, get a tablespoon of bourbon, would you?
Mike: Will do. It also has voice commands so you can interact with the recipes by voice. Because you have stuff all over your hands because you're cooking, you can talk to your phone to interact with a recipe. It will tell you what's going on with the recipe. Lots of different categories, like you saw.
Jeff: This is going to be used in the Elgan home to very good end.
Mike: That's right. So this brings the recipes specifically from Bon Appetit, Self, Random House and others.
Jeff: Gourmet, may it rest in peace.
Mike: You can comment and interact with it sort of like a social network for people cooking, which is kind of a cool idea.
Leo: There are lots of recipes – I've been using Big Oven, which is kind of a recipe aggregator and has millions of recipes. The problem is, you don't know what the quality is going to be. These are all from – these are all published recipes, at least, right?
Jeff: And here's a little story from the early days of Epicurious. So we had the right to use all the recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit, how could you beat that? They were all just in print. So we had to get them re-typed and we hired a – I didn't know this at the time. But there was, honest to god, ask Padre, there was a service with monks. Rather than making fruitcake, they were typists.
Leo: Or illustrating bibles. Monks, they had a scriptorium, right?
Jeff: Exactly. So the monks retyped all the recipes that started Epicurious.
Leo: This spicy upscale popcorn, complies with international ingredients. [singing like a monk]
Jeff: Since we're on foodie stuff, do you use Foodie, Mike?
Leo: What's Foodie?
Jeff: Foodie is from Glam, my friends at Glam, now known as Mode. It's an aggregation, a website aggregation and it's just people saving recipes.
Mike: It's like the Pinterest of calories.
Leo: Oh, I want some. Oh, signing up.
Mike: Yes, look at that. It's some nice photography.
Jeff: You just want to start eating things.
Leo: See, this can't be good for a diet. I should have a diet button that says, “I'm on a diet, only show me food that looks disgusting.”
Mike: It should tie into quantified self stuff and if you're already overweight, it should not show you this stuff. Give me a break.
Leo: Right. Samoa cheesecake? This is a cheesecake that looks like a Girl Scout cookie!
Jeff: Hassleback sweet potatoes with Parmesan and sage.
Leo: Is it named after David Hasselback? This is from a site called gimmesomeoven.com. I like it. Foodies are great. Don't you love foodies? F-O-O-D-I-E. This is nice, Jeff. I like it.
Jeff: Isn't it? What this does is send the traffic – if you click on a recipe, you'll go to a page – it's still Foodie, that mentions some of the ingredients and stuff but you don't get the whole recipe there. You only get it when you go to the creator's site. So it's a way to send traffic to the creators' sites along the way. Glam will be doing more of this in the future.
Leo: Well, I am now a Foodie member. I signed up. Do they have another companion site called Nudie? Because I would go there too.
Mike: It's a great site. You can go there and not buy clothes. There's a commerce model that isn't really working.
Leo: I'm not going to make this, white chocolate-covered Ritz crackers. Nope, nope, not going to make it. Not going to do it.
Mike: I'm sorry. Packaged food like Ritz crackers is not an ingredient.
Leo: I'm sorry. Somebody said, “Oh, you would love this restaurant.” They had a dessert made of Nutella. I said, “You know, I don't go to restaurants where they take the dessert out of a jar.” On the other hand, chocolate chip cookies in a jar, maybe I'd do that. Mm, that's a gift.
Jason: Oh hey, we got that. We got that for Christmas, actually. It's all the ingredients, yes, and it looks all nifty in the jar. We haven't made it yet. We need to make it.
Leo: That's so clever. It comes with everything you need. It's kind of like a Blue Apron for chocolate chip cookies. Look, did they even put the measuring spoons?
Jason: I didn't get the measuring spoons. I'll have to talk to whoever gave us that gift.
Leo: “Hey, you're supposed to put measuring spoons.”
Jason: It's okay, we have tons of measuring spoons.
Leo: That's the last thing you need more of. All right, my tip. There's a genesis to this story. We had talked before about Google's App Inventor. This was a system that Google had created to make it very easy to write Android apps, not sophisticated Android apps but children and people like me, hobbyists, could learn how to write software and learn how to write it for Android phones. It actually would package your software up not only for your own phone but for sale on the Play Store. It was a really great thing, Google gave it up. They gave it to MIT. MIT has released App Inventor 2 and I've been looking to write an app for a Nexus 7 tablet that would help me with the radio show. I started – I downloaded the new Google – upgraded development engine and all that stuff. It was just like, “Oh, please.” It was way over my head and I said, “I don't have time to learn all this stuff.”
So I downloaded this and this is the coolest thing ever. Everybody's got to try this. It's called – it's free. If you go to appinventor.mit.edu, you create new projects – I'll show you, I have a few projects. They have pretty good tutorials. In fact, this is the first tutorial. I'll show you this one. It's called “Talk to Me.” Now, the first thing you're going to do is connect to your phone. I don't know why my – I don't know if you can see my phone. I'm going to connect to my AI companion by – you're going to have to follow me on this one, it's a little complicated.
Now go to my screen, there you go. There's a QR code, I scan the QR code into the phone and now, it's given me a code. We're both on the same WiFi. The app appears on the phone and as you modify the app, it's instantly, no USB connection – let me – this is the designer. She designed the UI here and they've got a lot of tools. They've got buttons, checkboxes, layout tools. They've even got Lego Minestorm tools, if you have Lego Minestorm. Storage, social, censors, you can use the accelerometer, the bar code, clock, location, all of the stuff on your phone. Then you go into blocks – look at this.
This is the programming interface. So I put on this screen a text box. These are all the commands I can use for a text box. A button and text-to-speech. Let's set this up. I'm going to write – now, by the way, if you saw that message in there, just ignore that. I was showing the 12-year old how to do this and he decided to put profane messages in here. So – but that's cool, right? What better way to get a kid into programming. So I know your son Kevin does Tinker, which is a similar kind of system on iOS. So I have now written this software. It is on the phone instantly and watch, I can do a couple of things.
If I shake – let me turn up the volume here. If I shake the phone, I've told it to say something.
Phone: Stop shaking me. Stop shaking me.
Leo: But I can also enter some text. This is an actual Android app. “This is some text.” It took me about three seconds to write, honestly, and I can speak it.
Phone: This is some text.
Leo: But the point is, you now have an app and as you modify the app on your screen, on the App Inventor, it will immediately go over to your phone through the WiFi. You can prototype, turn it around very quickly. It has a great programming interface. Show the screen again if you would, Jason.
Phone: Stop shaking me.
Leo: I know, I'm shaking you and I shouldn't. It's got all of this stuff built in, logic, math, text and they're all snappable. So for instance, if you put something in here, if you drag it on to the interface, it'll show you puzzle pieces and only things with that shape can go into there. It is spectacular. I was able to get the accelerometer sensor working in such a way that when the accelerometer starts shaking, call text-to-speech and then speech this message. That's just a text message that snaps on there like a puzzle piece.
Folks, if you've been interested in programming, if you have an Android device and you'd like to learn a little bit more about it – if you want an easy way to create your own apps or even, believe it or not, there's the ability to package these up so you can sell or give them away on the Play Store. You've got to take a look. They've really made something special here. The MIT App Inventor 2. I feel pretty good about this. I feel like I'm going to be able to write the very simple software I needed, to be a timer for the radio show – I want it to flash red when I'm running out of time and green when I have some time left, and count down so I can go to the bathroom and look, “Oh, I've got a minute left.” I've needed this for some time. I wrote something in Apple script ages ago but I'll put this in the Nexus 7 and it'll be great.
Mike: The problem is, you're going to be in the bathroom and it's going to say, “Stop shaking me.”
Leo: “Stop shaking me.”
Phone: Stop shaking me. Stop, stop shaking me. Stop shaking me.
Leo: You can change it. I can actually change this to, “Stop shaking me, Mike.” Look how fast it changes that.
Phone: Stop shaking me, Mike.
Mike: Great, throw me under the bus.
Leo: Ladies and gentlemen, we are done with This Week in Google. Mike Elgan, good to have you. Catch Mike on Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern time, 1800 UTC for your daily dose of tech news. You're going to Barcelona.
Mike: Barcelona, yes. Looking forward to it, to cover Mobile World Congress.
Leo: Early next month, 3rd through 5th, I think?
Mike: Yes. 2nd through 5th, yes.
Leo: So live reports?
Jeff: Do you and Jason, all you three, think Samsung going to redeem itself with the next phone?
Leo: I like the Note 4. I think the Note 4 is actually great. Oh, you mean, in its keynote presentations?
Mike: Yes. I think they might. I'm rooting for the new Edge, with the Edge on both sides. Make it more mainstream and make it kind of work better, like you pointed out all the flaws on it. But I'd love something like that to bring the price down a little bit. But it's going to be something curved no matter what, I guarantee.
Leo: Mobile World Congress has become, I forget CES now. I really think that the most interesting stuff is happening in Barcelona.
Jeff: Jason, what do you think?
Leo: He wants to go, that's what he thinks. He wishes he was going.
Jason: Yes. It's really a bummer that I can't be there.
Leo: Can't send all of you.
Jason: I'll be curious to see what they do. I mean, the invite for the event clearly showed the contour of the Edge. So I don't know if that means new Note Edge or the S6 now has Edge in it and that's just the new design of the S6.
Jeff: What I asked is, do you think they'll redeem themselves?
Jason: Oh. I think so. I think they're on the right track. I think they're changing their approach.
Leo: The Note 4 is a great device. I think the S5 was a little crufted up but the Note 4 is great. I don't think Samsung needs to redeem itself. It does in its presentations, if that's what you mean. Here's the invitation. “What's next?”
Jason: Everybody's kind of expecting a more metallic body, metallic design as opposed to the plastic.
Leo: It looks like a fork. I think they're going to do a fork, that's what I think.
Mike: It'll only work with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and nothing else.
Leo: So we will be covering Mobile World Congress. Mike will be there. Now, because of the time difference, all the stuff that's happening is happening in the middle of the night California time, but you're still going to do it.
Leo: 1 a.m. Pacific, 4 a.m. Eastern time, tune in. That's 9 a.m. in Barcelona – or 10 a.m. in Barcelona?
Jeff: We'll just be back from dinner.
Mike: Well, you don't have dinner in Spain until 11 p.m. or something like that.
Leo: 11 p.m., what are you? 2 a.m., come on. What are you, an early eater? What are you, 60 years old? Thank – that's when the early bird specials are at Denny's Barcelona.
Thank you for joining us, everybody. Thank you, too, Jeff Jarvis from the City University of New York, buzzmachine.com and Geeks Bearing Gifts.
Jeff: Thank you for the plug.
Leo: Hold up the book, hold up the book. Imagining new futures.
Mike: Look at that. It's a geek bearing a gift.
Leo: There he is, with a gift just for you.
Phone: Shake me harder. Shake me harder.
Mike: Oh boy.
Phone: Shake me harder.
Leo: You can do anything you want.
Phone: Shake, shake, shake me harder.
Mike: Thank you for removing “Mike” from that.
Leo: Thanks for joining us. We do TWiG every Wednesday afternoon, 1 p.m. Pacific, 4 p.m. Eastern time, 2100 UTC. Please join us, we'd love to see you here. If you can't be here, don't worry about it. We've always got on-demand versions of all of our shows at the website TwiT.tv and in this case, TwiT.tv/twig. Also, on YouTube/thisweekingoogle and wherever you find your podcasts, including those great apps written by many talented third party developers on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Roku – we don't have a Chrome extension yet but I guess you could just go to -
Jason: No, we do. We do.
Leo: We do? We have an extension?
Mike: For live, TwiT.live.tv – we have an extension.
Leo: Go to live.twit.tv.
Mike: I have the extension, it's really great.
Leo: Somebody wrote an extension?
Mike: Called Floating TWiT. Boom.
Leo: Boom, booyah. Get Floating TWiT and never miss another show. Thanks for joining us, we'll see you next time on Twig! Bye, bye.