This Week in Tech 470 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Tech. Busy week. Why I have Facebook messenger from my smartphone. Rob Reid will join us, along with Patrick Beja to talk about that. Is Apple abandoning Intel? A little hotel that has a big fine. It’s all coming up next on TWIT.
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This is TWIT, This Week in Tech, Episode 470. Recorded August 10, 2014
Tainted Love on a Floppy
This Week in Tech is brought to you by Jira, an Atlassian product. Jira is the project management solution for teams planning, building and launching great products. To learn more about Jira and try it free for 30 days visit atlassian.com/twit. And by Shutterstock, with over 40 million high quality stock photos, illustrations, vectors and video clips. Shutterstock helps you take your creative projects to the next level. For 20% off any image file on your new account go to shutterstock.com and use the offer code TWIT814. And by Carbonite. Whether you have one computer or several at your small business, Carbonite backs up your files to the cloud automatically and continually. Plus access your files anytime, anywhere with a free app. Start your free trial at Carbonite.com. NO credit card required, use the offer code TWIT and you’ll get two bonus months with purchase. And by Citrix GoTo Meeting. The powerfully simple way to meet with coworkers and clients from the convenience of your computer, smartphone or tablet. Share the same screen and see each other face to face with HD video conferencing. Start your 30 day free trial of Citrix GoTo Meeting today. Visit Gotomeeting.com, click the try it free button and use the promo code TWIT. It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week’s tech news and always have a lot of fun doing it. Great to have Rob Reid back.
Rob Reid: Wonderful to be here.
Leo: Rob is an entrepreneur, founded Rhapsody many moons ago. You might have seen his incredible Ted Talk on copy write math. And his most recent book is called Year Zero. The year in which the aliens…
Rob: Discover the welcome back Cotter theme and realize humanity makes the finest music in the entire universe since the dawn of time.
Leo: However, they owe a little bit of money for pirating.
Rob: Yes. They inadvertently, because they are so passionate about our music, they inadvertently commit the biggest copy write infringement since the big bang thereby bankrupting the entire universe. Quite possibly based on a true story.
Leo: It’s great to have you back Rob. Also from Paris, France or its Environs nearby. Patrick Beja. Not Patrick. Patrick during the day that works for blizzard France but at night he has been known to make a podcast or two at Patrickbeja.com.
Patrick Beja: I have, let me say right now I do not represent Blizzard, France at all. Just to make it very clear, mandatory disclaimer.
Leo: Might as well say it, none of us do. Not a one here will represent Blizzard, France.
Patrick: I’m just a podcaster.
Leo: Has anybody at all tempted to go to Black hat or Defcon? This is the week of the hackers convening in Las Vegas.
Rob: I was personally offline for 6 weeks working on my second novel
Leo: How exciting
Rob: I was in an undisclosed location in the Great Lakes Riviera. I didn’t go to anything
Leo: Were you in Michigan?
Rob: I was in Michigan, It was beautiful.
Leo: Interesting. So you felt that in order to write this novel you would have to sign off social media and sign off the internet.
Rob: It was an experiment. I think it worked well enough, I got enough done that I’m probably going to do it multiple times over the coming year. I got probably 15,000 words written which is a good chunk for me.
Leo: How many? 6 weeks?
Rob: About 6 weeks. I also wrote the outline of the book so there wasn’t just that going on. I’m going to probably try to do that every couple of months. Take an email vacation.
Leo: Now you’re a novelists.
Rob: I’m a novelists.
Leo: This is the new thing, awesome.
Rob: I was thinking do I want to start another company or write another book? Writing is easy, starting a company hurts.
Leo: I got to tell you, having written a couple of books. Writing a book is the worst thing I have ever done. It must be terrible starting a company.
Rob: You’ve done it. You’re running this magnificent entity here.
Leo: I personally prefer to start companies than writing books that how bad writing is for me. To each his own. What is the new book about?
Rob: It is going to be about an imaginary startup. Through think connective tissue with Year Zero, the book about the aliens. In that book there is this imaginary social network called Phlutter. It embodied everything bad about social media. Everybody thought it was the most wonderful thing. Infest your phone and find out everything about you and blather it to the world. It was kind of a playful plot device. I thought it would be fun to write a book about an imaginary startup in a similar playful science fiction voice to the last one. Well what start up? Phlutter! So it going to be the story of Phlutter. I was thinking of calling it Phlutter: The Story of Phlutter. But nobody knows how to spell Phlutter.
Leo: How about Son of Phlutter?
Rob: Could be that or Year Zero II. It won’t be a sequel to Year Zero, it will be written in the same general universe but it won’t be about music addled aliens.
Leo: It will be fun, we loved Year Zero. Everybody who read it just loved it.
Rob: Speaking of which, I told the folks at Random House that I was going to be on this show. I asked them, could you do a price reduction of the Kindle version of Year Zero for this week because here we are? They have reduced the price to $2.99 this week only on Amazon for the Kindle. I believe on all electronic platforms the Nook, the IBook store and so forth.
Leo: As if there are any other platforms. One of the reasons we have you on is we want to talk about the 900 author revolt.
Rob: There it is $2.99. It went live a day or two ago.
Leo: If you haven’t read it, Kindle it. Not Year Zero, a history of 1945.
Rob: No there are a lot of books called Year Zero.
Leo: Not the 9 Inch Nails album.
Rob: Lot of confusion about that
Leo: Year Zero a novel by Rob Reid. You’ll know you have the right one when you see the alien listening to music on the cover. Actually, I’m going to change tack, I was going to start with the hacker revelations at Defcon and Black Hat. Now that you’ve mentioned social media, this has been the summer of negative news about social media in many respects. This week we learned that Secret, Whisper and other secret social media networks have hired a company in the Philippines to screen all the messages to make sure there is no bullying or harassment going on. Facebook deciding to split Facebook and messenger and a lot of hue and cry over the privacy issues with messenger. Foursquare and Swarm also split. This has been an interesting summer for social media. I actually deleted Facebook and Facebook messenger from my phone. This week Facebook, starting Wednesday if you are using the Facebook app on your smartphone it said sorry you can’t use messenger anymore. You have to get a separate app, download messenger. So I did, and then I found out you couldn’t turn off notifications for more than a few hours. Little chat heads kept popping up. So I just deleted them both.
Patrick: Can’t you go offline though on messenger?
I actually got some help. We’re going to make this a little tip from the radio show. In the messenger app, you go to turn off notifications. I’m going to show it to you because it’s so annoying. You go turn off notifications, I reinstalled it just so I can demonstrate this. If you go to notifications and say I want to turn them off. It says would you like it to be for 1 hour or until 8 am? That is your choice.
Patrick: That’s the general to mute everything. Can’t you mute them individually by unchecking them?
Leo: No, here’s the check boxes, you can choose a ringtone and you can have a free call vibrate or ring. But you can’t disable any of these and if you do the off it says great we’ll turn it off for an hour or until tomorrow morning, which would you prefer? Now, that was enough for me to uninstall it because I don’t want chat heads popping up. I had chat heads popping up on other apps. It had turned my phone into that horrific Facebook home phone.
Rob: There are so many things that are wrong about that but what offends me the most is to keep it shut off you would have to get up at 8 in the morning every single day. I’m not a morning person, it just doesn’t seem right.
Leo: Somebody very kindly showed me that at least on this phone, and I think it’s true on Android in general. In the settings, if you into the app settings on an Android phone, you can say I want all notifications for that app. I hoping that in fact does prohibit this. I guess you can globally prohibit it. That’s is not Facebook’s intent. You have to do it at the system level.
Patrick: At the system level that allows you to block everything, all the notifications that come from that app.
Leo: It’s my fear it will probably break it. This is the OnePlus One phone it has the CyanogenMod which has this great thing called privacy guard. When Privacy guard is enabled the app will not be able to access personal data like contacts, messages or call logs. By turning that on I’m probably breaking this but I did turn that on and I disabled notifications.
Rob: The trouble with that is you have to turn it on at 6 in the morning every day. Terrible feature, I think that’s a reasonable time wherever Samsung is.
Leo: People are pointing out that there is no point in having Facebook messenger if you don’t have notifications. The way I like to use Facebook is to not have it push stuff at me but when I open it up I can see what messages people have sent me. Now I have to do that on the desktop, not a big deal, but I just feel like Facebook is pushing it as far as they can until people go wait a minute? There are other issues with the new Facebook messenger. Facebook said it’s not our fault it’s Android’s fault. For instance, among the permissions you give it when you install it are the right to make phone calls without your permission. They say we don’t want to but Android makes us ask for that right.
Patrick: I’m not sure what they’re trying to do with that permission but I think what they said is that they can change the text with that permission which makes sense. They’re not actually going to be making phone calls without your permission but there is no option to clarify this.
Leo: We’ve seen that with text messages. For instance, WhatsApp, the way WhatsApp validates your WhatsApp account is it sends a text message to your phone number which it then can read. So it has to both send a message and read it. So you have to give it permission to send and receive your text messages but it’s just for that constraint purpose. I don’t know what the phone call permission could possibly be for.
Rob: Phone calls without your permission, that is so weird.
Leo: Then there is the issue, I think other programs do this. It tracks you all the time so it can put your location in. Presumably, sending that information back to Facebook. I don’t know if I care about that, I mean the phone is tracking you all the time so. Apparently, there is something called passive listening. Messenger may listen to the first 15 seconds of the audio when you’re writing a status update so that it can say what you’re listening to on your status update.
Rob: So like a sound hound thing? Rob’s listening to Nsync.
Patrick: Someone on Twitter is telling me that the permissions for the phone call thing is so that you are able to click on call while you’re speaking with someone to call them.
Leo: So that’s the calling feature. You press call and it makes that call. It has to have that permission. That makes sense. It also has the permission to take video and pictures with the camera at any time without your permission. I understand people being scared about this stuff. Facebook says we have to say it that way because that is how the text reads in the permission. They say the pictures and videos is so you can take pictures and videos within the messenger. So the app has to be able to do that. Recording audio so that you can send voice messages, make free voice calls and send videos. There is reasons for all of this. I don’t blame Facebook on that, really it was the notification thing that drove me up the wall.
Patrick: They know their product, hopefully they knew how it was going to work in that respect as well. Shouldn’t they have anticipated that and said, to the journalists at least, we know have these weird permissions that we have to ask for but this is why we have to ask for them. At least, give weapons to the journalist to answer the concerns of the public. It seems at least they should have done that.
Leo: The other way to do this is the way iPhone does it. Which is on installation it doesn’t ask you anything, but when the issue comes up it contact you. I think that might be a better way to do it than how Android does it. They spoke it about it on TNT and Mike posted the very long list of permissions that Facebook messenger requires access to identity, contacts, calendar, location, SMS, phone, photos, media files, the camera, the microphone, Wi-Fi connection information, device id, that’s pretty much everything.
Rob: Does that leave anything out?
Leo: No wonder there is a market for this. This is the black phone, which is now on sale from Silent Circle. It’s from Switzerland so it’s got to be good. Swiss know privacy
Rob: Swiss phone. As accurate as a Swiss phone
Leo: The Swiss watch of phones. Secure by design, first of all, yes it’s Android but it’s a special version of Android called PrivatOS. It does not allow, and does not give you access to any of the Google services including the Play Store. I presume it doesn’t allow you to download any application otherwise it wouldn’t be a very secure phone. It does come with privacy enabled applications.
Patrick: Which is cool but you’re saying no wonder there’s a market for that phone. Is there really? There is going to be people that are going to buy it but can we really say there is a market for this phone because people are going to be interested in a phone that is actually secure and private. Cool, now where is my Facebook?
Rob: Right, now how do I get to the supermarket?
Patrick: It’s cool that that phone exists, and it should but I don’t think it’s going to be very successful.
Leo: This is one of the things, the light motifs of this summer and social media. Starting with the right to be forgotten in Europe. The European court requiring Google to delete search results from people who requested it because they don’t want the world to remember that they went bankrupt or that they had molested children or whatever it is they didn’t want people to know about. It strikes me that the internet and smartphones especially are not private. If you try to make them private, you break them. Is that the case?
Rob: It’s an interesting dual between privacy, anonymity and the services people want to access. There’s an interesting debate going on about secret and whether anonymous speech. It’s almost a question of whether anonymous speech is worth protecting. I think that that debate has been bubbling up as people debate those kinds of services. The Black phone is a good case in point, it will be very interesting to see if it does succeed because getting that great degree of privacy will inevitably result in a far less functional phone. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the marketplace.
Leo: Somebody in the chatroom pointed out that the Facebook messenger requires no more permissions than Google’s own hangout app, than WhatsApp, any messaging app is going to require those. It’s the nature of messaging.
Rob: I sometimes think that we in the tech press community get more agitated about these issues than the general public does. I remember an interesting story when one of the privacy things about Facebook kicked up they were asking somebody did a survey and basically asked x-1000 people what would you be willing to sell access to your personal information for? Most people are like 3 or 4 bucks. Not that much. People don’t care that much.
Leo: You know what people want? They want control. It’s not necessarily that they won’t give it to you, but they want to control it. For instance, Google Now is a great value to me. In order for that to work, Google has to know more than a little about my whereabouts and what I’m doing but I find it very useful.
Rob: It’s fascinating when it comes up with an amazing message like your flight is late or there is a traffic jam on the way to the airport.
Leo: Or I see you’re at the airport here is your check in
Rob: All that stuff
Leo: Very useful.
Patrick: That is a lot of information that is lost in those debates about privacy. As you were saying, both of you, it’s completely part of that package right? If you want to protect your privacy you are going to lose all of these functionalities but the problem is in the tech community we often focus on the privacy aspect and say it’s important to protect all of these but we don’t explain to the people that we are yelling these problems to that if they want to go the privacy route they are going to lose all of these functionalities. That’s definitely a problem. The key piece of information to take away from this is control. That is where the real issue is. A lot of these companies are not willing to give us control of how we provide the information. We’re fighting the wrong battle here by saying we need privacy. What we absolutely need is control not privacy itself. I think that is an important distinction.
Leo: The control to turn off notifications even.
Rob: I think a vital piece of it is something you’ve glancingly touched on but as we’re having this conversation it’s very important which is contextual notifications. What happens is typically you’ll sign a ULA and it gives somebody blanket permission to do absolutely everything and it comes at you 90 pages in 3 point font.
Leo: Nobody reads that.
Rob: Yeah, is that notification? Yeah. Is it transparency? Absolutely not. Presenting you the useful information in context, that’s transparency. I don’t think this massive disclosure, it’s kind of like when you walk into any garage in California now, somewhere on the wall is this huge public parking lot is a massive notice that says this facility contains elements that could be carcinogenic. It’s probably some good natured law…
Leo: Prop 65.
Rob: It’s everywhere.
Leo: It’s in California and it’s everywhere. By doing it they’ve completely dulled the impact of these warnings. Everything causes cancer so that sign is everywhere.
Rob: The warning has no impact at all. It’s ubiquity and sweepingness makes it’s completely useless.
Leo: I first learned this lesson when I was in 5th grade. We went to a power plant, I remember this very well in 5th grade, and this was in the 60s. Everywhere in the power plant had signs that said conserve. Be green, even in those days. My teacher said they do that for a reason, because the more you see it the less you think about it. It’s just like the Prop 65.
Leo: It’s the same thing talking about tech even. We have these horrendous cookies disclaimers on all of our websites in Europe now that all warn you now. A little bar at the top of the website, every so often, hey by the way this site uses to cookies to improve your experience. You can click got it or more information. They all have it, and they don’t track all of your IPs all of the time so you get them multiple times on every site. It completely loses any effectiveness.
Leo: This is cultural though, because in Europe they are worried about cookies, but you could walk into a vat of benzene and there would be no warning at all. There would be a little tin cup that says if you want a drink please have one on us, because the safety. A lot of Americans go to Europe and they are stunned by the health and safety regulations. Am I wrong? I’m sure in Switzerland they are very careful.
Patrick: I don’t know, I’ve spent a little bit of time in Japan and Japan has a lot of that effect on me that you’re talking about with Americans.
Leo: Very nervous, very worried about everything.
Patrick: No the opposite. I was sleeping in wooden houses in Kyoto when I was living there and you would have fuel based heaters. That was not good at all, it was very frightening.
Leo: By the way I should warn you that Benzene has been known by the state of California to cause cancer.
Rob: It’s important to make that point.
Leo: Want to make sure we follow the Prop 65.
Patrick: Where can I click got it on your forehead?
Rob: So long as you can dismiss the warning until 8 the following morning.
Leo: By the way, do you know how the site knows that you dismissed the warning? They set a cookie. What is the reaction?
Patrick: The worst thing is nobody understands it.
Leo: Jeff Jarvis calls it techno panic. It’s the same thing with these Facebook messenger warnings. The techno panic says oh my god all of the stuff they could do, but what they are going to do is not really so horrible. What is the reaction in France to this right to be forgotten? Is it generally understood that this is not possible?
Patrick: Not possible? I don’t know, Google is doing it.
Leo: Don’t you just go to Google.com if you want to find something? It’s only Google.FR.
Patrick: Of course, I don’t know how many people will actually do that. They’ll just google something and not find the result that would have been incriminating or that others wanted to have hidden. Of course journalists might still look into that. Generally, the reaction has been widespread ignorance of any of that issue except Google has been acting on it so diligently and quickly that they actually provoked a very high visibility reaction. The Guardian and other big outlets have mentioned it and talked about it and complained about it.
Leo: I’m sure that was Google’s intent by the way, right?
Patrick: Exactly. A lot of people are saying that Google, legally were not bound by the decision at that point, they went really fast, really far, to shine a light on the issues that this would cause. Now that they have, they’re not necessarily going to revise the issue right now but there are votes that are coming up in the next few weeks or months. I don’t think people are ignoring the issue in the same way. At least they understand the consequences of that specific decision and that route that they would have gone if Google hadn’t gone so far in this instance. It’s probably a good thing.
Leo: Wikipedia very upset by it. They have started to replace pages that are blanked by the right to be forgotten on Wikipedia because there are quite a few with notices. This page has been deleted or blocked due to the right to be forgotten. They want to call attention to it because, as Jimmy Wales has said, he has stuff he’d like to have forgotten.
Patrick: You’ve discussed this already but the big issue they are not actually, if they legally had a right to go and remove that content then of course go do that but the indexation of that content, removing that is very questionable. Actually the EU, the notice that Wikipedia is putting up for those pages. The EU gave a call to Google and Bing because when they were accepting removal of content to a specific site they would send an email to the webmaster of that site informing them of the removal which is possibly why the Guardian and others have actually found out or realized the extent to which. The EU was calling Google apparently saying you can’t do that or we need to talk about this because this defeats the purpose. I was saying they realize the issue now but maybe they don’t actually quite get it yet.
Leo: I think Google is very, they deleted 91,000 search results, 91,000 pages. They are very cagey and doing it aggressively and early to raise the issue. Wikipedia had a conference, the annual Wikimania conference in London this week. Here is the quote from Jimmy Wales he called the EU’s right to be forgotten as deeply immoral, he warned the ruling will result in an internet riddled with memory holes this was my favorite quote, I’ve been in the public eye for quite some time. Some people say good things, some people say bad things. That’s history, and I would never use any kind of legal process like this to try to suppress the truth. History is a human right. One of the worst things a person can do is to attempt to use force to silence another. I think that’s pretty right on.
Rob: Another interesting aspect of this is the blowback that some people have unintentionally triggered on themselves. You hear this story about the guy who wanted to have it forgotten that he went to a tantric sex workshop?
Rob: There was somebody who did a takedown notice of an article from the 90s that mentioned in passing that he attended this tantric sex workshop so of course the Wall Street Journal immediately writes an article about this fact and calls the guy up and interviews him. It probably brought a little more attention.
Leo: Barbara Streisand effect.
Rob: Reached by phone, Greg Lindae confirmed that he had asked to be removed from searches for his name because he didn’t want to be shadowed online by an article he feels blah blah. This could and in fact is having a material effect on my career.
Leo: I have to point out that Jimmy Wales is quite famous for having apparently trying to disappear one of his cofounders. Not try to disappear him but the story that he had a cofounder.
Patrick: Is there another side to the story if we try to be the devil’s advocate for just one second. That poor guy who defaulted on his payment in Spain like 15 or 20 years ago.
Leo: This is the original court case
Patrick: The original one where the Spanish court called on the EU to get their decision to get on this specific aspect of this case. It’s not even something bad that you’ve done. It’s just something that happened to you or you were in an unfortunate situation. If that’s the only thing that you’ve ever done or has your name on the internet that’s always going to come back no matter what you do. There might be some public records there that you can’t really go to and ask them to remove because it’s public record and it’s important to have those as well. But the effect that Google has, it makes this one thing that is on the internet, the sum of your life. Right? Isn’t there an argument to, maybe not the right to be forgotten in that specific way, but an argument to be made that maybe that is also not a good thing and we should try to address it somehow.
Leo: But is it Google’s job or is it your job to create more stuff so that it’s not the only thing that appears on the internet?
Rob: Release a pop song immediately.
Leo: Do more stuff. I agree it’s not fair and it’s not right. To further your point Patrick, Google does exercise maybe it’s algorithmically, but editorial judgment about what your life is. It decides what search results are important and what aren’t. It’s done by an algorithm that is completely unbiased and so forth. I think any algorithm has bias built into it.
Rob: It’s also an algorithm that is constantly tweaked, and always controversial when it happens.
Leo: You’re right. They are constantly monitoring it.
Patrick: They just modified it to bump up the sites that are using Https.
Leo: Now we all think that’s a good thing, but that’s an example of editorial control. As soon as Google does that once, then it is now exerting some editorial control over your search results.
Rob: They are so all powerful in terms of controlling traffic to sites, their editorial judgment about whether encryption or policy judgment almost has the effect of enforceable government policy. It becomes so powerful because they are so significant and I think in this particular case, more encryption gives you their almost in a position, or they are in a position to de facto regulate the internet. It’s just fascinating.
Leo: On this story just so you know, Google has decided that among all the signals it accepts to rank pages it’s going to add another signal, whether the page is using strong encryption. HTTPS by default. Most pages, ours does not. Most pages don’t. Because there is no reason for me to encrypt the data that I’m sending to you.
Rob: Until now
Leo: Now there is. I agree, we on Security Now we’ve talked about this idea of HTTPS everywhere. It wasn’t done originally because of the overhead, the calculation and now computers and servers are fast enough. More than fast enough, there really isn’t a penalty for securing the traffic but there is an expense. You have to get a secure certificate, that’s not free. It’s hundreds of dollars and in some cases thousands of dollars. There is no reason for me to encrypt the traffic that’s coming to you from TWIT or any of my pages. Or encrypt your traffic to me. That’s an interesting thing that Google is imposing on us.
Patrick: It’s actually enacting, shaping. You were talking about editorial control that Google has. This is poses an even bigger question, they are actually influencing the architecture on the internet. In this case, we’re super happy that they’re doing it for the right reasons and in the right way. What about they decided they are going to bump up the sites that use VP9 or…
Leo: Their video codex. Their so called unencumbered video code.
Leo: We’ve always thought that. Google might promote YouTube over Daily Motion which is a French video site. They might promote Google+ over Facebook. I think Google tries really hard not to do that but that is always the risk as Google gets into other businesses besides search that some of their businesses will compete with other people on the internet.
Patrick: There has always been the fear, and you know I trust Google. I use Google for everything. I actually think that they are out there to in some ways while making a lot of money they do have initiatives that seem to be furthering the common good, but here they’re stepping into actually shaping the internet’s technical infrastructure through their algorithm.
Leo: I think they’ve done that before.
Rob: It gives them regulatory power. De facto
Leo: By the way they say currently it’s a very lightweight signal effecting less than 1% of global queries. And carrying less weight than other signals such as high quality content while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. Over time, we may decide to strengthen it because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the internet. That is pretty heavy handed.
Patrick: Do any of us want them not to do it? I’m happy they are doing it.
Leo: I think they are a lot of sites, probably the vast majority of sites that gain nothing by encryption.
Rob: I would certainly want my Gmail encrypted and it is
Leo: Facebook should be encrypted
Rob: Anything that contains credit card
Leo: And it is
Rob: Any financial site should be and is. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it seems like they are doing it for the right motivations but my guess is most of the traffic that we would want encrypted is already anyway.
Leo: It’s very odd. This points out the complexity of all this. The right to be forgotten, of Google’s role in this, there is an editorial role. I feel bad for people whose sole search result is negative. They might me Gandhi, may not have published a lot of websites in his time. Maybe the one thing you find is some nasty page that was written about him. That’s terrible. I don’t know how you solve that.
Rob: He was late on a credit card payment
Leo: It was in the news, first thing that comes us. I doubt that Gandhi had a webpage but I may be wrong. Let’s take a break, we’ll come back with more. Rob Reid is here, founder of Rhapsody and now a novelist. He’s taken a novelist turn. Readrobreid.com if you want to learn more about his books including Year Zero his most recent and soon a new one. Untitled, Rob Reid’s next project. Also Patrick Beja from patrickbeja.com @notpatrick on Twitter. In his new apartment which is beautiful.
Patrick: Isn’t it wonderful?
Patrick: I have a Japanese copper carving in the back.
Leo: Very esthetic. Very Parisian. It’s all white. You obviously have no children nor small dogs.
Patrick: It’s the Finnish wife influence. All white and wood.
Leo: Scandinavian. Our show brought to you by a great company called Atlassian and their project management solution Jira. It’s for teams planning, building and launching great products. You’ve probably heard about it’s one of the world’s most powerful and customizable issue and project management systems. If you’re building a great big app or just a little IOS app it will easily capture and organize your workflow. Keep your team on the same page so you can prioritize and take action on what’s important. Keep up to date with what’s going on with you. Many companies, in fact 25,000 companies use Jira. Including 70% of the Fortune 500. NASA uses Jira. Jira integrates beautifully with Get so you can follow your code from development to delivery on the same system. They have hundreds, thousands of Jira plugins. All sorts of stuff to add to Jira and of course because they a great rest API you can add plugins of your own. Flexible and simple enough for a five person startup. Powerful and reliable enough for 100,000 person enterprise. Jira. You’ve heard about, you’ve probably wondered why aren’t we using Jira. Now you can free for 30 days. Very affordable monthly plans start at $10/month for up to 10 users. Track it all with Jira email, chat, app mentions, RSS. It’s fantastic. Jira it’s from Atlassian. Go to atlassian.com/twit to learn more and try it free. Atlassian.com/twit. Great company, great product. Very well known in many circles. We were talking earlier about Mojang using it for their bug track for Mindcraft.
Chad Johnson: I actually had to use it just the other day
Leo: You’re going, I’m using Jira.
Chad: I did. I had to check on a bug with Obsidian and sure enough I found myself checking into the bug tracker which is run by Jira.
Leo: We tried to get Steve Gibson on this episode, he’ll be talking on Tuesday about bad USB. We’ve been hearing about this before but the Black Hat conference finally revealed the details of the bad USB hack. Father Robert Ballecer, who was there, he’ll be talking about it on TWIT, said it was the talk of the conference. Very active, very interesting Q&A afterwards. It’s kind of stunning, kind of hard to believe the researchers who discovered bad USB found that almost all USB devices including most USB keys, most USB drives have reprogrammable firmware with the right hardware, which is widely available and easy to get. You can modify the firmware to carry malware payload in such a way that it is undetectable and can’t be removed and can bite you bad.
Rob: Sounds very Stuxnetty.
Leo: Stuxnet which was the virus that infected the Iranian Centrifuges where they were enriching uranium for building, people thought perhaps nuclear bombs. Those centrifuges, they were made by Siemen’s right? They use the SCADA system, they were air gapped. That’s a good protection right? You don’t connect these things to the internet because that’s how malware gets in. Unfortunately for them, I think it was probably some governmental agency who managed to subvert someone who worked there, give them a USB key…
Rob: Thumb drives
Leo: Plugged into the SCODA, modified it and I think it caused the centrifuges to spit up to such a high rate that they broke or play AC/DC music, I’m not sure. It was one of those. In either event it slowed down the enrichment process considerably. The difference there that was an auto run, we believe we don’t know. I talked about this with Steve last week. It’s thought, but not known that it might have been an auto run on that USB keys. We’ve known about that for a long time. This is worse because it’s in the firmware. The real revelation, had we known this, it wouldn’t have been so hard to figure this out, is that so many thumb drives have reprogrammable firmware capability. That have Eproms on them. Why? Who would have thought that? The research comes from SR Labs. The details are on their website. They say the versatility of USB is also its Achilles heel since different device classes can plug into the same connectors. One type of device can turn into a more capable or malicious type without the user noticing. That’s part of the issue is that it could be a phone that you’re plugging in. It could be seen as a mass storage device and copy data over and so forth.
Patrick: We’re back to the balance between security and convenience. The convenience of the USB which is what made it so widely used and convenient is what makes this hack possible. The most frightening thing about all of this is that there is no real solution. There is no fix or at least no easy fix.
Leo: We’re going to talk a lot about it I’m sure on Tuesday on Security Now and that’ why I want to get Steve on. He’s out of pocket as he usually is on Sundays. I’ve seen articles from a lot of people saying it’s no big deal don’t worry. I’ve seen others say this is the worst thing that has ever happened. The real question is it in the wild because malware in the firmware cannot be detected by any virus programs, we don’t know. Although, I think Norton or McAfee has reported there has been some bad USB in the wild detected. So maybe they’ve come up with some sort of scanner.
Patrick: It’s definitely frightening and what you were saying this is kind of not a big deal and hack 5 has built this rubber ducky that basically functions in the same way. It’s a rubber duck USB key that pretends to be something else, something other than it is and that allows you to do a bunch of hackey stuff. Its’ very difficult to figure out who to trust. Is it really the end of the world or is it absolutely not a big deal. It’s probably somewhere in the middle. It’s definitely, it doesn’t seem benign at all. It seems serious that could possibly lead to serious issues and hack and attacks. That being said, it’s also very new. Even though you can’t really identify it when you plug in your USB key because the virus scanners don’t have access to that Eprom so they can’t read the contents of that ROM to figure out this is something that’s shouldn’t be on there and remedy it. They could probably figure out that something weird is happening on your computer and you’re going to have different types of viruses using that vulnerability.
Leo: That’s part of the question is how hard it is to do this. You have to have physical access to the USB key. Do you need EPROM burning software? Maybe they did at the presentation, we haven’t heard yet. We’ll find out more about that. The other point to be made is that if any company wanted to be malicious of course there is firmware in everything. It would be easy enough to bury malware in firmware. We’re trusting the people we buy our hardware from. There would be plenty examples of that misguided trust malware being delivered on a new computer. I should also point out one of the NSA exploits revealed by Edward Snowden cottonmouth-III is a USB hardware implant which would provide a wireless bridge into a target network as well as the ability to load software onto target PCs. The NSA had this years ago. In fact it may even be the same vulnerability. One thing we know, we had an analyst, and unwittingly I put an NSA analyst on the show last week and one thing we know for sure, they NSA has very smart people working for them. His job was to reverse engineer malware presumably so that somebody in another division of the NSA could then use it. They have smart people and if this exploit exists they knew about it at least five years ago. In May 2009 according to the slide presentation.
Rob: If they didn’t create it themselves.
Leo: If you think about it, if you knew all you need is the information that there is programmable firmware in these things you would go oh well that’s a problem right?
Patrick: That is not something that someone created. That is a fundamental vulnerability of the USB product we buy.
Leo: It turns out that this is a convenience for manufacturers. We’re halfway through the production, oh we got a bug in the firmware. We don’t want to have to throw out all those USBs. They could and they imagine some will they use unburnable ROMs but that’s been a feature, in fact that’s a feature of Iron Key which is one of the most secure USB keys, you can reprogram the firmware the firmware is updatable. I think Iron Key has addressed this issue with signing and other techniques. I imagine that there is no reason why you couldn’t make a USB key with a ROM that is unmodifiable. I think they should put that on, you can’t burn the firmware, on the front of the package. You’re still trusting the person who made the ROM, didn’t put something in there. The manufacturer.
Patrick: That you can trust, you have to trust them because the incentive would be bad press if it ever happened they would have a horrible time recovering from it.
Leo: Public opinion, once again, is our only defense.
Chad: I actually happen to have an audio recording of the Stuxnet centrifuges. Turns out that what they were actually playing was Tainted Love.
Leo: They got them to spin in such a way that they became unstable and broke. It just sounded like Tainted Love. What are these?
Chad: It’s actually these are floppy disks.
Leo: Somebody took the trouble
Patrick: There was another disk, last year, everyone was doing their own version of printers and PC cards that would sing.
Leo: Only a floppy disk could get that beautiful tone.
Rob: It’s really hard to get a G sharp out of a printer.
Leo: Can we get taken down on YouTube for playing a floppy disk version of Tainted Love?
Chad: they don’t have it claimed. Normally there is a thing that says this is a Tainted Love.
Leo: Tainted Love should be one of the songs, there are a few. Nobody should assert ownership. Like Happy birthday.
Rob: Tainted Love
Leo: Never going to give you up.
Rob: Shook me all night long
Leo: There are a few, nobody should claim ownership.
Rob: Mutual property.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by. Are you ever going to do another Ted talk? Because that copy write math was awesome.
Rob: I’d like to
Leo: You should go back and do a follow up
Rob: One of these days I think I will
Leo: Do you have to talk to Chris Anderson and beg him? How does that work?
Rob: He actually invited me to do the talk which was great. I have a good rapport with Chris, I’ve known him for a really good long years and I think it would really be fun lifelong goal to do a really proper 18 minute show
Leo: That wasn’t a full Ted talk? It was a mini ted talk?
Rob: It was a Mini talk. It was five minutes.
Leo: It was 5/18. It was perfect. Do you really want all 18 minutes?
Rob: I didn’t have a sixth minute for that
Leo: I didn’t know it wasn’t an 18 minute one. I didn’t even notice. It’s on the Ted site you can see if you search for Rob Reid and copy write math. It’s very good. I’m sure by now you’ve found out wait sorghum was
Rob: I knew what sorghum was but when I gave the talk for dramatic effect I feigned an ignorance of what sorghum was. It’s some kind of grain.
Leo: I went and found out after that.
Rob: I looked it up before I gave the talk. I didn’t know what it was. It’s just one of those thing you see.
Leo: Now I see it everywhere. I see it a Whole Food all the time.
Rob: It’s in Captain Crunch. Sorghum oh great
Leo: Is it sweet?
Rob: I don’t know. Rob Reid, sorghum expert. That would be the tag under my name.
Leo: We’re going to do an ad for Shutterstock right now. I think we should search for sorghum on Shutterstock. Shutterstock is the place, when we went to see the most recent hot film Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m watching the credits, Shutterstock in the credits. Everybody uses stock video, photos, illustrations, vectors from Shutterstock. There it is ladies and gentlemen. If you were going to write an article about sorghum you’d want to go to Shutterstock.com
Rob: Life magazine could do an article on sorghum with all that imagery.
Leo: Gorgeous. Everything you’d ever want to know about sorghum from seed to table. It’s all there. Many of the contributors to Shutterstock are professional photographers, you can tell. This is no amateur sorghum shot. One of the great things about this is the search. First of all, they have a huge selection. What is the number now? Every time we go there I want to see. 40 million royalty free stock images they added 261,000 last week. Many of them are of sorghum.
Rob: Many of them are not selfies.
Leo: With 40 million images the search, let’s see if there is selfies. Yep, there is a lot of selfies. Now, here’s the beauty part. You might want a happy selfie, you might want a sad selfie. There are no sorghum selfies. That’s the good news. Happy selfie. Those girls are taking happy selfies. What about sad selfies. I love it that the search allows you to add adjectives. That dog is a sad selfie.
Rob: Can you imagine that you can put in sad dog selfie and Shutterstock would have had an answer.
Leo: There are times when you’re writing a blog post or an article and you need a sad dog selfie. Where else? Shutterstock.com with so many images there is sure to be something just right for you. You do not have to have a paid account to create an account. You don’t even need a credit card to create an account at Shutterstock. I would do that, that would give you access to, how about drones selfies.
Rob: How about sad drones selfies?
Leo: Dronies! Those are drone selfies, is the new world. He’s taking a selfie with a drone. Amazing. The search tools are great, you can not only narrow it down by emotion but subject, color even. They have a color wheel. You can say it has to be in my color palate. It has to be blue. You could say file type. You can narrow it down by gender, how many people are in the images. They have a great iPad app, they won a Webby award. It’s beautiful. Multi-lingual customer service, more than a dozen countries. Full time customer support throughout the week if you need stock video, stock photos, stock illustrations you got to use Shutterstock and like I said you can create the free account. Create the light boxes, share it, and store it for later use for inspiration. Just go to Shutterstock.com. You don’t need a credit card to start an account. Begin using Shutterstock to imagine what your next project could be like. Save your favorite images to review it later. Once you decide to purchase, they have individually image or monthly subscriptions. We’ve got the monthly subscriptions at TWIT, I love it. There’s more dog selfies. There is quite a few.
Rob: There is some good cat selfies too
Leo: Cats don’t do selfies do they?
Rob: Go to Shutterstock, they have a cat doing a selfie right here.
Leo: If you decide to buy on Shutterstock, even you want to get the subscription, use TWIT814 and you’ll get 20% off any image file. TWIT814. That is the offer code, we do thank Shutterstock so much for giving us some joy in life and sponsoring the TWIT show. September 9 we believe the day for Apple’s iPhone announcement. What we don’t know is how soon the iPhone will be available. Typically it’s 10 days, the week following Friday. How would you say that? It’s on a Tuesday the 9th, then a week from that Friday, the phone will be available.
Rob: The first Friday after the first Thursday.
Leo: Thank you.
Rob: The first Friday after the second Thursday.
Rob: Let’s get it right
Leo: If you’re going to confuse us, do it with correct confusion.
Rob: I bet in German there is one word that means that. Just one very long word
Leo: Now, here’s and interesting little tidbit from John Gruber the master of Snark but also Apple’s pet blogger. He gets all the scoops and Apple really loves Gruber. He implies that Apple is going to announce their wrist wearable thing next month. He’s talking about an article on the Verge on how you’ll charge a Moto 360. Apparently Motorola has announced that their smartwatch will use Qi charging, wireless charging. Wow, right on. All the watches I’ve used, including the pebble, you have that proprietary dock that you’ve got to snap it into. The Android wear watches have the same thing. Motorola is going to do a round one and they are going to build in Qi charging. Here is what Gruber says, it looks like Motorola’s designers tried to draw as much attention as they could to the 360’s stupid flat-tire display shape. The only way this could get funnier would be if it doesn’t even ship until after Apple announces their wrist wearable thing next month. Knowing John, he's slipping in a little bit of a tidbit there.
Patrick: It's even worse than that. I'm pretty sure that he wrote, and I don't know him, but it looks like he wrote this article only to sort of backhandedly slip in to it that very important piece of information, which actually everyone is picking up on obviously. It looks like he is pushing it too much. If you have that piece of information at least you know, we understand that this is no big deal for you because you have all of these leaks all the time in all of the information, but at least write a couple of sentences on that topic.
Leo: Now it gets worse. I agree with you. That's the thing you do like when you go to Yale University and you say, "Yeah, I went to a small college in New Haven." It's reverse snobbery, right? Then people find out and they are like, oh, he knew but that wasn't a big deal for him. That makes it worse because he now tweets oh by the way; I have no idea whether Apple is planning a wrist for September or October. I was just making a joke.
Rob: It didn't really come off like a punchline, did it?
Patrick: Maybe he is just better at blogging then at tech humor. Maybe.
Leo: Well, he's definitely a good blogger. He knows how to drive traffic. How many hits do you think that piece got?
Patrick: Well, yeah, for sure. I read his blog all of the time. He's one of my favorite bloggers.
Leo: I love it. He's a brilliant blogger. He tweeted this also, "Apple will reveal its wrist schedule next month says Apple watcher John Gruber." Then they had a picture of Brady, Regan's Press Secretary Brady, who passed away this week. Very confusing.
Rob: That's funny.
Patrick: I would be very surprised if they announced their watch. It's pretty much established that they are doing that to announce their phones. Apple traditionally does not announce a new product and launch a new major product at the same time. That's why I think that he was actually trying to make a joke. It would surprise me that they would announce both at the same time.
Leo: I'm wondering if they are ever going to announce it. I feel like that. Apple has never said that they were going to have a watch. It's all of us who have said that they are making a watch.
Patrick: Well, they've hired a lot of people who know how to make watches. That would be a very strange string of hires if they weren't at least exploring that type of product.
Leo: They probably are exploring it. Everybody is exploring it. But every time I use one of these watches, this is the Android Wear which is the best of the breed at this point. It's nice. It's not something that you run to the store to get.
Patrick: That's why everyone is waiting for Apple to do something, right? A lot of people say, come on, stop it with Apple. You are always pointing to them and waiting for them to do something when we already have watches. It's exactly the issue that we had with "smartphones" when they came up with the iPhone and with tablets before the iPad. A bunch of things. So that is really the problem; that Apple is going to make a product that we didn't really know we wanted.
Leo: We still don't.
Patrick: That is the thing. We've seen a lot of those watches and none of them are compelling. From Google, from a bunch of people, and none of them are compelling. Will Apple be able to make that into a useful new product category and make it into a massive consumer hit?
Leo: Isn't it possible all the people that they hire are really just for making this in the iPhone? I mean they hired a bunch of health people who could just be part of HealthKit, part of the iPhones' own health capabilities. The designers, all of that, couldn't it be a better iPhone?
Rob: You can get a lot more from the health standpoint, though. I think Basis was the first to put a green laser into the phone that actually gets heart rate.
Leo: You mean in a watch?
Rob: I'm sorry, yes, a watch.
Leo: Yeah, but even that, you can't be exercising when you do it.
Rob: It's imperfect. It's either 1.0 or 0.9.
Leo: I bought a Basis Watch. I wear it all the time.
Rob: It didn't rock my world. I wore it for about 3 weeks. I think that let's think of that as 0.9. My guess is that if you are going to be really, really serious about quantified self that you do need to be on the body, and probably preferably on the wrist.
Leo: How about a nipple ring or something? Or maybe something behind the ear? Wouldn't there be better places to put this for getting a pulse? Really, the best place for a pulse monitor is on your chest.
Rob: A very high fidelity one, yeah. Without any question.
Leo: That's where the heart is. I'm curious, I wonder if we will even see anything from Apple this year. I bet not. I'm going to do a reverse Gruber and say that we are not going to see anything in 2014 at all. I also feel like Apple may not have the magic formula.
Rob: There have been a lot of very serious efforts by serious folks to make a watch that is fabulous. But then again...
Leo: Apple did it with the iPod, Apple did it with the iPhone, and Apple did it with the iPad. They've done it three times.
Patrick: That's the really exciting thing. That's why we are so focused on what we are going to do in that space. Now we know they've done it three times, maybe more if you count the other things. They've done it three times. We are all sort of wondering are they going to be able to make it again. More importantly they have done it in ways that we didn't really imagine was going to happen like that. The big question is are they going to come out of left field and do something that we didn't really imagine? That's why we really can't get excited, right? That's what you are saying Leo, both of you. We are not really excited about whatever they have in store.
Leo: It requires a leap of faith in Apple, right?
Rob: We've been waiting for them to do something really agenda setting in television for a very long time and it has been years in that case.
Leo: Same thing. I licked it, said Steve Jobs.
Leo: HP might have stolen their thunder. One of the things that I thought Apple would do is make a stylish watch. Like make it jewelry so it's beautiful and you want to wear it. In every case right now I like my good watches better than my, Jeff said that, he has a...what? It doesn't matter? You don't want the world to know that you are wearing a Cartier Tank Watch? He has a Cartier watch that he says is better than any smart watch because it's a beautiful work of art. It's a piece of jewelry. I would say that I have a tank watch also, and a number of other very nice watches also that I wear on special occasions. But the HP watch...HP watch...
Rob: Very British of you.
Leo: I think that is a steak sauce. The HP Watch, which will be on Gilt this fall, designed by Michael Bastian, is he French? Patrick? Michael Bastian, is he French?
Patrick: I have never heard of him.
Leo: Me either. Everybody is saying, oh it's by designer Michael Bastian. The Michael Bastian? Yes! For all I know is some guy who works in...
Patrick: He is an American fashion designer known for music label.
Leo: Oh, he's American. Isn't that an oxymoron? An American fashion designer? Well, anyway, the watch looks nice.
Patrick: He's the one that HP chose, so that tells you something.
Leo: They are selling it on Gilt only, which is odd.
Rob: That is odd, yeah.
Leo: It is Gilt?
Patrick: One thing that HP definitely didn't do with this announcement is steal Apples' thunder. In case you were asking that.
Leo: Speaking of Apple thunder, well let's take a break, and then I want to talk about the persistent rumor that Apple is going to abandon Intel. That would be a big blow for Intel, wouldn't it?
Rob: It would be big, yeah.
Leo: You have got to think that Apple is suffering some pain right now. They have been waiting for Intel to come out with its successor to Haswell, the 14 nanometer Broadwell chip, and it’s much delayed. Apple has been kind of stuck. They can't release a new Mac.
Leo: Or at least not update the new Mac significantly until it gets off of the stick. The delay has been a while now. Is it armed for the next Macintosh? First a word from Carbonite. It's online backup time. I know people who every time they watch TWiT this is their back up time. I'm going to be listening to TWiT and I will be backing up. That's fine as long as you don't forget and as long as your hard drive doesn't crash the day before TWiT and you lose six days’ worth of data. The best back up would be that you didn't have to think about it, right? It would just happen, be automatic. And more than that, it wouldn't just be on Sundays, it would be continuous whenever you are online. Best of all, it would be offsite because as we all know having backups sitting next to the computer is a recipe for disaster if there is a fire, or a flood, or a tornado, or somebody breaks in and steals your stuff. I love Carbonite. It's maybe not the only thing you do. You can have a local backup. In fact, Carbonite now makes a hardware appliance for business that does both local and cloud backup. Best of both worlds. That's great because as we know in business high availability is important, and getting back in business is important. Carbonite is great for business, it's great for home, and it’s a great way to save your data because you don't have to think about it. It's very affordable, $59.99 a year to back up everything on a Mac or a PC. They have plans for external drive, network attached storage, or small business. All of it is automatic, continuous, and offsite. The things that you need. Now, it’s free to try, and I want you to do so by going to carbonite.com. All I ask is that when they say, "Where did you hear it? What's the offer code?" use TWIT that way they will know that you heard about it on TWiT and you will get two months free if you decide to buy. They've got plans for every user, for every situation, but all of it is the best automatic backup. You pay once a year. You pay for it and you forget it. Carbonite.com, try it today. Please use the offer code TWIT. David Friend, the guy who founded Carbonite, reminds me a lot of you Rob. He's a serial entrepreneur. He started ARP, the synthesizer company.
Leo: Yeah, out of MIT.
Rob: A lot of people got their start in synthesizers. Greg Kurzweil.
Leo: Greg Kurzweil, same thing. Steve Gibson. So, he retired, kind of a successful entrepreneur, and was enjoying life. His daughter in college called him and said daddy, I lost my thesis, can you help me and he said I don't know.
Leo: And he invented Carbonite. As a solution he invented Carbonite, which is kind of cool. Very nice guy, you would like him...Yalie.
Rob: That little college in New Haven.
Patrick: Oh, that little college.
Leo: I'm sorry; he went to a small liberal arts college in New Haven.
Rob: In New Haven, yes.
Leo: Which my brother in law says is the best college in Connecticut.
Rob: Did your brother in law go to Harvard or something?
Leo: Yeah, he went to Harvard. Jean-Louis Gassèe, nice French name, because he is a Frenchman. He was President of Apple International like 30 years ago and brought to Cupertino to run Apple in the Gil Amelio days. He's actually made a pretty good name for himself as a blogger. The Monday Note every Monday comes out with an analysis of the business scene. The wrote an article this Monday called "The Mac Intel, the End is Nigh." He was actually quoting a 16 year old blogger, Matt Richmond, who wrote a blog in 2011 saying "Apple and ARM Sitting in a Tree". Matt said, "I don't know exactly when, but sooner or later Macs will run on Apple designed ARM chips." Now, as time goes by, this becomes more and more compelling. Apple has announced a desktop grade chip for its latest iPhone, the a7, right? They made a big point of it being 64 bit. Intel is way behind on Broadwell. Apple would love to get a Broadwell processor in its Macs, but they are going to have to wait. Even though Apple is one of their biggest customers and usually gets the chip before anybody else they are still waiting. Strong rumors have been going on for long time that there is a Skunk Works at Apple that is porting OS X to ARM. I'm sure that OS X at ARM is up and running somewhere in one infinite loop. Does this make sense? This is something that I imagine would be bad news for Intel.
Patrick: That would be terrible news.
Rob: I think that the reason to do it would probably be margins and control. They certainly hate for somebody else's slipping product to slip their own product. That looks like that is going to happen with the new Macs and this holiday season. The reason not to do it is probably software compatibility and performance. Intel just is an extraordinary powerful engine. When you think about way back when they first announced transitioning over to Intel it had a huge positive impact on the Mac market share.
Leo: I was so negative about that. I was bitter and angry. As it turned out they managed it perfectly.
Rob: They did it beautifully, yeah.
Leo: Couldn't have been done better.
Rob: I wouldn't be surprised if they had a duel strategy for a period of time, and maybe the more expensive systems were running on Intel and offered greater software compatibility.
Leo: Imagine a MacBook Air, their lightest, smallest computer running on ARM. 20 hours battery life, because one of the big things that ARM brings you is great battery life and low heat. He quotes Steve Jobs in the article, who is always well known for saying, "I've always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything."
Rob: Everything in the stack, yeah.
Leo: If you want to make great software then you have to make the hardware, and vice versa.
Patrick: That's completely true, but you know, Steve Jobs is like statistics. You can make him say anything.
Leo: That's true.
Rob: Like Moses.
Patrick: Yeah, if you pick the right quote in the right context. I wouldn't put too much stock in that.
Leo: I think that it is fair to say that Apple has always moved in that direction. To manufacture it all.
Rob: That's always been their competitive edge.
Patrick: And I'm certain that they are at least exploring the possibility again of running Mac OS on ARM chips as they were when they had the PowerPCs. They had the blue box and the yellow box. They were running Mac OS on Intel for a long time, or at least it was rumored, it turned out it was probably true, for a long time before actually announcing that transition. The problem here is that they've done that transition a few years ago, maybe 10 years ago, something like that. In order for that transition to become relevant you need to have a much heavier wait on that delay from Haswell to Broadwell. A few months of delay is not going to provoke that. Remember that they stuck with PowerPCs for a very long time; I mean 2 or 3 years, when they were way, way behind the Intel chips. They were doing ridiculous things like putting multiple CPUs on the motherboard in order to try and suck enough power out of the PowerPCs that couldn't keep up with Intel. That would also be an issue. Sure, you would have a lot more battery life. The a7, the iPhone chip, is really powerful for a phone. You can run a computer on it.
Leo: For a mobile chip.
Patrick: Exactly, for a mobile chip. It's nothing like what an Intel desktop class chip can do, or even notebook class.
Leo: Is that true? Is that really true? Is it the case that ARM isn't really up to snuff?
Patrick: I'm not an expert on this, but it seems to be pretty obvious. On a phone or a tablet you are running one or maybe two things at the same time. Yes, if you have the right game you will feature graphics that are pretty darn impressive, but an actual desktop level or laptop level OS has a lot more happening in the background and in the foreground.
Leo: I know you work for Blizzard, and you don't speak for Blizzard, but look at the NVIDIA Shield their new tablet which just came out running on the Tegra 1, the latest Tegra. That is a very fast little puppy and gaming is great on it. It's a gaming platform.
Patrick: No, it is. I'm not sure that you can make that jump. I'm not saying that it is impossible or it's never going to happen. I'm just not sure, you know, that 6 months delay in a Broadwell chip is going to be such a huge burden that you think that we have to overhaul our entire system and developer ecosystem just for that. It's an enormous undertaking, and I don't think they would just do it.
Leo: Well that's a good point. Although talk about owning the stack, they've got their own programming language, Objective-C is defacto Apple, is as swift as all Apples.
Patrick: If they wanted to own their own chips couldn't they build Intel clones like AMP does?
Leo: You know the irony is that Apple started in partnership with Acorn, right? They used to own Acorn; they sold their stake in it years ago. I think this is kind of sexy, and I like what you said which is make the low ends ARM, and then the pro computers can be Intel.
Rob: The Intel chips, at least for the foreseeable future, I agree with Patrick, are much, much beefier.
Leo: But look at Chromebook. Some of the Chromebooks are ARM, aren't they?
Rob: I think so, yeah.
Leo: Yeah, they aren't all Celerons. They are ARM. I think that people don't need the power that they used to. In fact, we had a great discussion a week ago with Jeff Jarvis on TWiG in which he said my Mac had died, and you need to tell me why I need to buy another computer, or not. He says my inclination is to not buy another computer, just to go with Chromebooks, and tablets, and phones. I think that increasingly for 99% of people they don't need a computer.
Rob: When the iPad first came out my feeling was that if this becomes a rich man's Kindle it's doomed, which was how a lot of people were looking at it.
Leo: Right, that's what we thought it was. That's what I thought it was.
Rob: But if it becomes a poor man's laptop then it's a colossal category. It's really starting to seem like it’s moved that way.
Leo: And if you had an ARM based Air with a great battery life and less expensive it could easily be fast enough for everything but the highest end. You work with gamers Patrick. I mean gamers want more power, obviously.
Patrick: Yeah, obviously. But that is a limited subset of the population.
Rob: It's tiny, just like professional video editors and...
Patrick: It's not tiny, but it's certainly not the general populous. I'm just not sure that an ARM chip at the moment can run Mac OS. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it can, maybe it's 2 years away. It just doesn't seem like we are quite there. We may be not so far from now, but...
Leo: There is one big company that is running both Intel and ARM. It's called Microsoft. Windows Pro runs on Intel and Windows RT runs on ARM. Admittedly, it's kind of ugly when it comes to running apps because it's not the same app store for both. What runs on RT runs on RT and only RT. I think, in fact, Microsoft is probably killing RT and going to replace it with Windows Phone on those smaller devices. I just think that it is possible. By the way, we talked last week, and I think that it was confirmed, about the Google case where they caught a child pornographer by scanning his email. It has been confirmed, as we surmised, that they did that using hashes provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, not by looking at email directly. We, at the time, speculated that perhaps it seemed likely that other email providers like Yahoo and Microsoft might be doing the same. Guess what? "Microsoft tip ends in arrest of alleged child porn hustler." Yes, the same thing. He was using Hotmail to distribute child pornography. In this article by CNET, by Dara Kerr, she says, "Google, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as Microsoft all use something called photo DNA." It's the same technology as the hashes that are provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and then these companies scan through the images, all images, looking for matches. If they find a match then they report it to the NCMEC. So yes, Microsoft does the same thing. Everybody does. So don't worry. Relax.
Rob: Especially law enforcement.
Leo: Some good discussion, speaking about Microsoft, about Microsoft Windows the next generation. The code name is Threshold. Believe it or not, Windows 9 is due next spring.
Rob: That's amazing.
Leo: How did that happen? We've been fighting 8 for almost 4 years now. Threshold, this is all from our great hosts on Windows Weekly Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Haley, who are really experts on this. Neowin had the story, but Paul and Mary Jo have confirmed it with their sources. The next generation of Windows will return the start menu, say goodbye to the much hated charms bar, and add something that Linux has had for years, virtual desktops. As they say in France, la plusa sans. How do they say that? La plu le menstros?
Patrick: That's plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Leo: That's French also.
Patrick: The more it changes, the more it stays the same.
Leo: The more things change...
Patrick: That's French for Windows, yeah.
Leo: So, yeah. You know, watch this though. Watch the irony. As soon as they drop the charms bar, which most people really loathe in Window 8, you will have a huge ruckus.
Rob: Charms bar nostalgia.
Leo: Oh my god, they killed the best thing in Windows.
Rob: Remember that big uprising about Clippy being shut down. They were taking to the street.
Leo: No, there was no uprising. Nobody complained.
Rob: Weren't there riots in Cairo when they got rid of Clippy?
Leo: No, nobody said anything.
Patrick: I must be one of the fifteen people in the world who really loves Windows 8. Although I never use the other new part of it.
Leo: How do you avoid it? Wait a minute, that's my problem with it. If I could just make it look like Windows 7 then I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Patrick: You never go to it. You just press the Windows key from time to time, type your search to get the program you want, and then hit return. It's perfect, yeah.
Rob: Let's not get back into this debate.
Leo: Let's say you are sitting at looking at a Windows 8 machine, Windows 8.1, and you want to shut it down. Then what do you do?
Patrick: I go to the bottom right corner.
Leo: The charms bar.
Patrick: Then to the settings.
Leo: And then the thing slides out.
Patrick: Exactly. It's not dumber than to push the start button to shut down, right? If you press the Windows key you have a little switch on top, with Windows 8.1 now, on top of your screen. I think it's getting a lot of bad rep. I think when Windows 9 comes out everybody is going to go, finally! It's going to be Windows 8 with a couple of tweaks and everyone is going to go finally, Windows 8, I couldn't...
Leo: No, that happened with Vista and 7. Vista was hated, and 7 was just Vista with some of the edges shined up a little bit. And everybody said, oh, this is the best version of Windows ever. I think Windows 8.1 is pretty roundly hated.
Rob: It has half of the market share of Windows XP.
Leo: Its market share actually went down last month.
Rob: Did it? Windows 8? I just looked it up.
Leo: It did by a little tiny bit.
Rob: As of July it had half the market share of Windows XP.
Leo: Yeah, half the market share.
Rob: It says it all right there. It does, yeah.
Patrick: So do you believe that rumor that Windows 9 is going to be free for all owners of XP, Vista, and 7?
Rob: I saw that. I think that it would be a smart way to get some XP people to convert, but I don't know that many machines running XP can handle Windows 9. That would be a pretty major load.
Leo: But do remember that just because Apple gives away its operating system, and that's what the response would be. Well, Apple gives away OS X. Apple sells hardware. Microsoft, by some estimates, has lost 1.7 billion dollars on its hardware. Microsoft sells windows. If you give away your only product then I think that you are out of luck. But it seemed like a good plan.
Patrick: It's not their only product anymore. They are going to start; I mean they are focusing more on the software and the service.
Leo: You mean the Cloud?
Patrick: Yeah. So it probably makes sense to have everyone.
Rob: XP probably cannot service a lot of their Cloud products. It's just not going to integrate with it. It's astounding. Twenty-five percent of market share.
Leo: You can't deny, however you feel about Windows 8 Patrick, you can't deny that it's a hideous flop. Worse than Vista.
Rob: And they want to get those people back on the Windows train.
Patrick: What I feel is that I love Windows 8, and I am the only one who is not going to get Windows 9 for free if that is true. I mean come on.
Leo: You liked it, so you get to pay for the next one. Microsoft has a new app called SNIPP3T that lets you track celebrities. What could go wrong?
Rob: It's called SNIPP3T or stalk it?
Leo: SNIPP3T with a 3 instead of an E. Very elite of Microsoft. Why Microsoft? By the way, it's iPhone only.
Rob: iPhone and Windows XP only.
Leo: It's the strangest. Every celebrity has a profile page created by Microsoft which includes a timeline of news and imagery from around the web alongside options for Liking each page of content. It's never been easier to stalk your favorite celebrities.
Rob: That's fabulous.
Leo: Never been easier.
Patrick: I think it makes sense. It's easy to make fun of and certainly I have done that as well. It's the Yahoo strategy, right?
Leo: That's worked so well for Yahoo.
Patrick: Alright, fine.
Leo: That's really been a great move.
Rob: It's really the MySpace strategy.
Leo: You know what this is? This is Bing. This is what Microsoft has been doing with Bing. They have been creating content silos for Bing. They've hired editorial staff; Bing News actually has a bigger news room than a lot of newspapers now. So I agree with you. This is not a bad strategy. It does remind one a little of the Yahoo strategy to go content focused, which didn't work.
Patrick: To go broad content. I mean celebrities appeal to everyone, and stalking celebrities appeals to everyone.
Leo: Who doesn't love stalking celebrities?
Rob: Who hasn't done it?
Leo: I wish I had an iPhone so that I can download this. I need my Katy Perry fix. We are going to take a break and come back for more. Rob Reid is here, Patrick Beja, great to have you both. Thank you for joining us. Great studio audience. See, August is tough because everybody is on vacation which means we have a massive studio audience for this show.
Rob: And nothing is happening.
Leo: And no hosts. And there is no news. So glad you are here. Paul, and Mary Jo, and Dvorak, they are going to watch somebody else's show. They are on vacation. Our show today, brought to you by a great company that I am a big fan of, Citrix. You know that I talk about them all of the time, and GoToMeeting, which we use all the time. Citrix GoToMeeting is the number one way to meet when you are not all in the same place. In fact, frankly, I go home so that I don't have to be in the same place and have GoToMeeting meetings. Nowadays the office is distributed. Everybody is everywhere, they are all over the world, and they are all over the country. Meeting with your coworkers isn't a question of where it is a question of how. Same thing with your clients. You want to pitch somebody with a PowerPoint? Are you going to fly across the country? No, you are going to use GoToMeeting. It gives you eye contact because the HDFace is built in to GoToMeeting. It gives you great video so that you can see them. Plus you get screen sharing so that you can share that presentation with them. Thirty four million meetings last year on GoToMeeting. I feel like I did about half of them. I feel like that sometimes. GoToMeeting lets you meet with anyone, anywhere, from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can present from an iPad. It's great on an iPad. You can sit out in the backyard, plug in your headphones, and that's it. You don't need a phone, you just need internet. Talk face to face, share screens, schedule meetings in advance so that it's as easy as the click of a mouse. GoToMeeting, I love it. We use it every day. I want you to try it right now for 30 days free. Visit gotomeeting.com, click the "Try it Free" button, promo code is TWIT. Gotomeeting.com promo code T-W-I-T. Did you download SNIPP3T? I have a SNIPP3T? How to follow me. Oh my god, there is a biography? That's straight out of Wikipedia. Net worth? Wow, I'm rich! TV shows, related celebrities. Sarah Lane is on here. Andrew MacArthur is on here. Patrick Norton is on here. Thank you Microsoft. I won't mock your celebrity stalking application ever again.
Patrick: Maybe that's their plan!
Rob: It doesn't give you your current location. That would be creepy. Where's Leo right now?
Leo: Well, you know, it would if I checked in with Foursquare.
Chad: It will until 8 tomorrow morning, yeah.
Leo: I turned off notifications. We don't know where Leo sleeps, yet.
Leo: Going to do the hotel fining brides $500 for bad reviews.
Rob: It's hysterical. That's one of the funniest articles ever.
Leo: I don't know. The hotel now says no, it was just a joke. They took that down, and of course nothing dies on the web. If you go to archive.org you can see it on the way back machine. The idea was, this is a beautiful, I know it, it is in Hudson, New York, the Union Street Guesthouse, and it’s a little quaint, a little funky. Their fear is that people would come and check in as part of a bridal party and say, well, there was no gym, and write bad reviews. So they say on their website, "Please understand, this is an old house, it's a classic place. If you book for a wedding or a big group you have to give us a deposit and we will deduct $500 from that deposit for every negative review placed on any internet site by anyone in your party." Whoa, put down the hammer. Everyone made fun, and laughed, and said that is terrible. But you know what? I kind of understand. There is a war going on, I've seen articles, about chefs and Yelp. What this is is don't troll us or we are going to fine you.
Rob: Well, this is different than trolling. This is a paying guest saying that I'm not happy there, and a bride getting whacked for $500.
Leo: They are not going to do it. No one was fined.
Rob: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But they definitely have gotten the Amy's Baking Company treatment on Yelp because I'm looking at it right now. There are scads of one star reviews posted in the last 3 days since this thing came out.
Leo: We've never stayed there, but boy these guys are terrible.
Rob: It's funny because a lot of these people are claiming, because I think that they are trying to get around Yelp taking their review down, they must have had a full house last night because "We were here yesterday for a wedding party, terrible service." Oh come on, you were not. It's like dozens of people claiming to be there last night.
Leo: Here's one that says "I've never been a guest so I can't speak to the decor or the customer service. But I spend a lot of time in that town, and I have walked past that hotel at least a dozen times and I never even noticed it." To me that's damning saying that it's not architecturally interesting. That's a troll
Rob: Here's one. "I have seen bombed out shelters in Iraq that were more appropriate for guests than this place.” obviously a member of the US Military who also lives in the upper Hudson area.
Leo: "Let's put it this way, if Saddam Hussein had his choice between a spider hole and USGH he would have stayed in the spider hole." I think that was just some little old lady who thought it was a good idea and changed her mind when she found out that it wasn't.
Rob: This is damning. "We walked into this hotel once and ended up leaving. It felt somewhat unwelcoming."
Leo: It was spooky.
Patrick: Can they now submit requests for the right to be forgotten?
Leo: There is a larger issue here which is, can you imagine if you are a chef, you have a restaurant, you have a hotel, you do your best. You work hard; you think you have a pretty good product. There are just cranky people in the world. Those cranky people are writing mean, nasty reviews and it can kill your business. I understand a little bit from the other side the feeling that we've lost control of our image.
Rob: Particularly if it's somebody who has not actually used the product. That's where I think it gets preposterous. In this case they were basically waving the red cape at the internet. They made a very big mistake.
Leo: Never wave the red cape.
Rob: But yeah, it doesn't give me any value as a potential buyer of a product if I see something that says, well, I never ate here, or I never stayed here, or I never read this book. There should be a policy on a site like Yelp, or Amazon, or wherever else, that if somebody has clearly not used the product that you just take that review down. That's just silly.
Leo: I understand. I'm not saying what they did was right. It was kooky. It was dumb.
Rob: It was kooky.
Leo: Obviously it has backfired incredibly, however, I also can understand the other side of it where you feel like if people had a problem with it that's fine, but I want people to be honest. Anybody who has worked with the public, anybody who has ran a cash register at McDonald's, knows that there are a small percentage of people that you can't make happy.
Rob: Then people use it as a...
Leo: They use it as a weapon. Yelp is used as a weapon.
Rob: Your competitors will file negative reviews of you. It is a Pandora's Box.
Leo: I don't know what the answer is. I really don't. Obviously it's not fining brides. That seems like a bad idea.
Rob: Grooms maybe.
Patrick: I think they should have simply fined $500 for a bad review, but then give $500 for every good review. Then everyone would be happy.
Leo: Ohhhhhh. I think that is against the Yelp terms of service.
Rob: It might be, yeah. I don't think you can pay for good reviews.
Rob: That's too bad.
Leo: Do you read fiction? Do you read fiction Patrick?
Patrick: Not as much as I would want to.
Leo: Alright. Obviously you write fiction, you must read it.
Rob: This was an electrifying article. I think one of the most important articles released all week. I hope that all of those people who are lonely right now and ask themselves "Why am I lonely?", that the answer is that you don't read enough.
Leo: You don't read enough. Science tells us that people who read fiction are the best people to fall in love with. They are the best people, period.
Rob: Study after study after study. I was amazed at how long that article went on.
Leo: A psychologist at York University in Canada, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, both in 2006 and 2009 found that "Those who read fiction are the most capable of empathy of both theory and mind. That is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs, and interests apart from their own. You can't read fiction without it." You have to live in somebody else's world, even aliens who have a copyright problem.
Rob: Hey, they love music.
Leo: Another study in 2010 said that "The more stories children have read to them the keener their theory of mind." The study by Ann Cunningham at the University of California Berkeley, "What Reading Does for the Mind", and on and on.
Rob: It just goes on and on, fascinating.
Leo: New School for Social Research, psychologist David Comer Kidd, "What a great writer does is turn you into the writer. In literary fiction the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to try to understand the minds of others." That is good.
Rob: That's good. These are the people that you should fall in love with. I think one of the other studies, I forget which one, said that merely by buying a lot of books you can also benefit from these effects, science fiction especially.
Leo: Especially if that book was a couple of bucks.
Rob: Yeah, it's $2.99. It's really how many empathy points per dollar.
Leo: 2.99 empathy points, available to you.
Patrick: How did you get those 2 empathy points? For me the Kindle price was $14.28. So this is more empathy points.
Rob: That's probably the US price.
Leo: You are in France.
Patrick: I'm on amazon.com/us.
Rob: It's sniffing you IP.
Patrick: Damn IPs. What happens if I spoof?
Leo: Are you a member of the 900 strong authors group who wants to put Amazon out of business?
Rob: I am not. This is one of the stories...I am literally reconnecting today; I haven't caught all of the froth about that.
Leo: It started with the Hachette thing.
Rob: Which really is kind of odious. Amazon is really using its market share as a bludgeoning against Hachette, so I am empathetic to Hachette.
Leo: But Amazon says, and as a buyer I like this idea, Amazon says, well we are just trying to fight for you. EBooks are overpriced. They shouldn't be so expensive. There is no printing press, no truck delivery, and no store front.
Rob: And most of them are far less expensive than the physical books. Well, not the paperbacks. But the hardcover, they are a lot cheaper than that. I generally buy books personally that are new and fresh. I always feel like I am getting a fabulous deal because I am buying them on the Kindle rather than a hard cover.
Leo: Audio books are in many cases as expensive as the hard cover, or more.
Rob: Or more.
Leo: Yeah. That bugs me.
Rob: Yeah, it's fascinating how expensive they can be.
Patrick: The audio books you have to record, though, right?
Leo: Yeah, they have to pay somebody to record them.
Rob: There is an expense there. When we recorded Year Zero John Hodgman read it, and they had to hire John Hodgman to sit in the studio for 5 days. That's expensive.
Leo: its a few hundred dollars, right?
Leo: John, he could really set you back. I don't know what John's day rate is.
Rob: I think his day rate, it's cheaper than that.
Leo: And they knew John's name on it would help it sell.
Rob: Yeah. But they are expensive.
Leo: I didn't realize. I read the book. One of the few books that I actually read the physical.
Rob: Oh really?
Leo: Well, you gave me a copy.
Rob: That's right, I did. Yeah, Hodgman reads the audio.
Leo: He did? That makes it fabulous. I'm going to go get it. That's awesome.
Rob: I sat in the studio and listened to him record it. That was a blast.
Leo: How fun is that?
Leo: Five days it took him?
Rob: Yeah, Monday through Friday.
Leo: Did he have a lot of retakes?
Rob: Yeah, because in reading it if he felt that he didn't nail a sentence he would want to read it again and retake it a lot himself. There was somebody for all intensive purposes that played a role like a director.
Leo: A producer, yeah.
Rob: A producer was there, yeah. A very, very good producer. It was an operation. We had a room in New York with all of the fancy equipment, and sound, and everything. None of that was cheap.
Leo: I guess you are right, so it should be more expensive. By the way, Jeff listened to the Year Zero iPhone version and said it was great.
Leo: He said OMG it's great.
Rob: He read it magnificently.
Leo: John is great.
Rob: He's a fabulous reader.
Leo: Well he's an actor. That's what you want.
Rob: And he's a very good vocal talent. He does wonderful podcasts. He's very good on camera, but he's done a lot of stuff for NPR. He's very good at creating a presence, and a vibe, and conveying humor strictly with his voice, which is not something that everyone who is an actor can do. It's a different set of skills.
Leo: It's an amazing set of skills.
Rob: I think that it's partly because he somewhat grew up in the NPR world.
Leo: Well, he was a literary agent, so he knows. The problem is that Amazon does seem to wield its power. As of yesterday you could not preorder any Disney DVDs. They just stopped it, and it's because they are in negotiations with Disney. One reason that the courts have not taken an interest in this, I'm sure the publishers would like it, but the courts say that Amazon has got plenty of competition. What about that bookstore across the street?
Rob: The courts also struck a mighty, mighty blow in favor of Amazon's market dominance by attacking Apple and all of the major publishers. That had the net effect, and that certainly wasn't the intention, it had the net effect of strengthening Kindles market share against Nook, which was already reeling. So yeah, I think that there is a certain amount of embarrassment at the DOJ right now knowing that they had done this thing that had the net effect of propping up Amazon's market share significantly. To turn around and find for Hachette would look like a major mea culpa, and the people in Washington don't like to do that. I think that that is one thing that Amazon has on their side.
Leo: As an author you love Amazon because they sell a lot of books.
Rob: I love Amazon. They sell a lot of books. It's a fabulous venue of reaching people that I would otherwise not reach.
Leo: But there are a lot of authors who are worried about Amazons' power. That's the Authors' United group in support of Hachette. Amazon has formed, in response, a Readers' United group.
Rob: A Readers' United, asking people to email the CEO of Hachette, right?
Rob: Giving his personal phone number out, maybe? Send him a postcard.
Leo: This was actually kind of nasty.
Rob: 33 Sunnyside Lane. Send him a letter.
Leo: I'm going to see if I can find these because they have some suggested text that is pretty aggressive. This doesn't happen in France, right?
Patrick: We have a whole other set of issues with Amazon in France. But this one, no. It certainly is being discussed, though.
Leo: I don't know. I don't know which side I would come down on this, frankly.
Rob: Yeah, and I should have dug more into this.
Leo: You are an author.
Rob: I know, but I was off.
Leo: John Grisham, Steven King are part of the 900. They took out an ad in the New York Times pressing Amazon to resolve the dispute with Hachette. Meanwhile, Amazon says to its readers, "Dear readers. With it being so inexpensive and so many more people being able to afford to buy and read books you would think that the literary establishment would have celebrated the invention of the paperback." Oh, they are talking about the old days. Actually this is a mis quote. They misquoted George Orwell, which is funny on two levels. One, because they got it wrong. They quoted Orwell as saying if publishers had any sense they would combine against paperbacks and suppress them. Really, the full quote makes it clear that paperbacks are only sixpence, and he thinks that he is going to sell a lot of copies of 1984. He says, in jest, that publishers had any sense they would stop it.
Rob: He said it in jest.
Leo: He said it in jest because in favor, in fact of paperbacks. That and the fact that Amazon yanked 1984 from its Kindles without any warning to anybody makes this kind of a dubious attribution.
Rob: Oh yeah. What was the purpose of that again?
Chad: It was a boo boo, right?
Leo: No. There was an unlicensed copy of '84 which people had sold. The problem was, by deleting from the Kindle they deleted all of the notes, and students were upset that their notes had been deleted as well as the 1984 text.
Rob: Almost Orwellian, wasn't it?
Leo: It was a little. The thought that you can actually delete a book from somebody's reader is...
Rob: I've had Kindle lose some of my notes and highlights at different times. It does make my blood boil. It feels like something that you have invested a lot of time in.
Leo: So here is what Amazon wants you to write. "Dear Hachette, we have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for eBooks."
Rob: Quit colluding with yourself.
Leo: Stop using your authors as leverage. If you are author, remember that not all authors are united on this decision.
Patrick: In France we have a slightly different issue. We have the issue of the fact that book prices are fixed. You cannot discount them more than 5%. That is in order to protect the small mom and pop shops so that the big chains can't price down.
Leo: So, are there a lot of small book shops in France?
Patrick: The thing is that they are dying anyway now. Even if you don't go to Amazon you are going to go to the big supermarkets, the Costco’s of France. Initially those stores would carry 100-200 different references and you wouldn't get the depth of culture that you get in the smaller specialized stores because the big guys would want to get what really sells. The issue is now against Amazon you can have a lot more diversity against Amazon that you can with any tiny store. So that law is kind of very difficult to put in place for this specific context. They also had an issue with the free shipping. They said that with Amazon there was the 5% and then they cannot do free shipping. Of course Amazon turned around and did shipping for $0.01.
Leo: It's not free!
Patrick: Yeah, exactly.
Leo: This whole show has been difficult problems with no obvious solution.
Rob: Any nerdy person who spent a whole lot of time growing up in book stores, and most of us were, we have that affinity, but at the same time you think of the 5% thing and there is a lot more mom and pop shops. But another level, that kind of stifles the diffusion of culture and ideas because most people are at a point where they have to make choices between this product and that product. If a book is $12 when the market forces would have priced it at $8, then a certain percentage of people are not going access that book, they are not going to access those ideas, and that is a bad thing. That's tough, yeah.
Patrick: There is also something to be said about ease of access. Again, you know, as we've seen many times with the internet, the old monopoly in effect crumbling down. Let me give you an example. I went to the book store a few years ago when the Game of Thrones started getting really big. I figured, you know, I'm going to buy it in the paper version, a dead tree edition, and read it. I looked at the prices in French, for the French versions, and what they do is that they divide each book, which is admittedly pretty big, into two or three small books. Each one of those is sold for between €10- €15 Euros, sometimes even more, which is as you know about $150. No, I'm kidding. It's like $20 or so, $15-$20. So you have in the whole series now I think about 15 books, maybe even more, which are sold for €10- €15 each.
Rob: That's a work around.
Patrick: I understand that the translation is going to cost you a little bit of money, but that feels like a publisher abusing their position.
Leo: We should see how George feels about that.
Patrick: I don't know.
Leo: Maybe he doesn't have any say.
Rob: We aren't back to Orwell, are we?
Leo: No, George R. R. Martin.
Patrick: It's definitely a very tough topic. I empathize, and I understand what Amazon is saying, obviously for their own benefit. But there is something to be said about the fact that these books really have no reason for being that expensive. The kicker is that the publishers could be paying more money to the authors and keeping more money for themselves, well not more, but in the end there could be more money for everyone if they were relaxing a little bit.
Rob: Well, depending on the price that he wants to see.
Patrick: Well I don't know.
Leo: The publishers are going to get in trouble.
Rob: Somebody in the chat room mentioned a law book; it flew by, but an electronic version of a law book that was for $5,000. That's a place where it is clearly abusive because the students in class x have to buy it. $5,000 is lunacy. That's the kind of thing that just again waves the red cape at the internet and causes piracy to happen. At some point you over reach and you have Napster.
Leo: Hey, I want to wrap it up, we've had a great show. But before we do let's take a look at some of the things that happened. It was a fun week on TWiT. This is what you might have missed if you missed any shows.
Previously, on TWiT...It's going to be fun. Blah, blah, blah. Is that a drug reference? Tech News Tonight...Kind of a big week in security, we've got the Black Hat Conference happening in Las Vegas. One of the things that made the news was the so called "Bad USB". The Social Hour...Local search will evolve to the point where it understands where you go and what you like to do, and it will recommend things to you. The only reason that you don't see other companies doing that is because it's really hard. RedditUP...Today I learned Pluto never made a full orbit around the sun from the time it was discovered until it was declassified as a planet. This Week in Enterprise Tech...The firm Recorded Future is releasing a report that comes to the conclusion that the Snowden Document has forced Al Qaeda to change the way that it communicates online. Triangulation...TechTV was such a fun place, it was so alive. We were all like, you know that feeling, everyone was just enjoying their job and it was clear how passionate that people were about the programming. TWiT, the happiest place on earth. Last week you teased. I would be very excited. You're in MAD Magazine, Chad! It's so amazing, so amazing.
Leo: Oh man, that's the highlight of my life. Thank you to Dick DeBartolo.
Rob: You were in MAD magazine?
Leo: Yeah, Lisa, and I, and Chad all made an appearance in The Snark Tank.
Chad: I cannot tell you how much my parents have been communicating with me this past week all about the MAD Magazine.
Leo: Are they excited?
Chad: Yeah, I've gotten from all of my family many emails and lots of phone calls. It's like my whole career has been based around that MAD Magazine.
Rob: And it's great that you had Kevin on Triangulation.
Leo: Yeah, that was fun.
Rob: I love Triangulation. It's such a cool format.
Leo: You've been on it.
Rob: I've been on it. And having been on it, I started watching it because you can really open up and have an in depth conversation that really just couldn't be supported in any other medium. Certainly not on the air.
Leo: It's a little Charlie Rose, but we really focus on the tech people. Yeah, I love doing it.
Rob: Well, the fact that you are unbounded by the terms of time.
Rob: I mean you can really have fantastic in depth conversation.
Leo: As is this show. As the audience well knows. Many of them are jiggling their knees saying, "It's going to be over soon." Thank you. Who do we have? I don't even know who is on Triangulation tomorrow. I should have paid attention to that.
Chad: Barack Obama.
Leo: Thank you very much. I'm very excited.
Rob: Again? Good lord!
Leo: I don't know, but I guarantee it will be somebody interesting and somebody fun. Finally, we will end up with a public service announcement. A couple of very good security firms, FireEye and Foxit, have the entire CryptoLocker database keys. You may remember the CryptoLocker was a virus that was really ravaging computers all over the world. You got an email that somehow got you to run something; it would encrypt the hard drive, popup a message saying "Your hard drive is encrypted in 72 hours. If you don't give us $300, or some amount of money, we will erase the encryption key and you will never again be able to get your data. It was a devastating hack, but the good news is that because the infrastructure of CryptoLocker was taken down in June by Operation Tovar, they actually have the master decryption keys for a lot of services that have been hacked. If you go to decryptcryptolocker.com, then FireEye and Foxit are providing free keys to unlock your system. So if you were bit by CryptoLocker and declined to pay or maybe you paid and didn't get the key then it is possible that you will maybe be able to unencrypt. Right on top of this a hack on Synology Servers is having the same problem, a CryptoLocker that locks them up. But I think that CryptoLocker we can safely say is dead. Thank goodness. They made a lot of money in a very short period of time, though.
Chad: I want to remind you because I know that you are going to be super excited about who is going to be on Triangulation. Andy Weir of The Martian.
Leo: I forgot. Oh my god, that is great. Yeah, if you read The Martian, and I think everybody in our offices did because we all were so excited about this book. It started with Brian Brushwood recommending it. The story, it's kind of, have you read it?
Rob: No I have not.
Leo: Oh my god, it's the best Sci-Fi in a long time, since Near Zero. It's about a guy who gets stranded on Mars, an astronaut, the rest of his team thinks he is dead and they leave.
Rob: Oh, I've heard about this.
Leo: He's not dead, but he knows that he can't be rescued for some years because he is on Mars.
Chad: And he is played by Tom Hanks, right?
Leo: And there is this volleyball. No, no, it's not. It is kind of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, it kind of is that idea. It's a science problem because, I think this would be a great graduate course in something, physics, because he has this limited set of tools, he knows how long he has to survive, he has to have enough food and enough water, he manages...well I'm not going to tell you what happens. Great book. If you haven't read it read it right now. Read it tonight because its author Andy Weir joins us tomorrow on Triangulation. Our Brick House Anniversary t shirt is still available for a few more days. We celebrated our third year in our new studios, and we created a special, unique, one time only t shirt commemorating the date. You can get it still at teespring.com/twit, but only for two more weeks. So hustle on over there, teespring.com/twit. Proceeds, of course, benefit the TWiT Brick House. We are trying to pay the light bill. Hey, thank you everybody for being here. Thanks to our great studio audience. If you want to be in studio, we do TWiT every Sunday afternoon at 3 pm Pacific, 6 pm Eastern time, 2200 UTC. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put a chair out for you. A mighty comfortable chair, I think that you will agree. Well we don't want you to get too comfortable. We don't want anybody to fall asleep here. If you can't be here in studio or watching on the internet you can always get on demand audio and video after the fact at twit.tv, or Stitcher, or various apps. There are lots of ways to get it on iTunes. Thank you Patrick Beja, @NotPatrick on Twitter. How late is it now?
Patrick: It's 2:15 in the morning.
Leo: Do you usually stay up this late?
Patrick: Well, I'm going to say yes.
Leo: Just so I don't feel bad? Do you have to work in the morning?
Patrick: I do. And we have a big week.
Leo: Oh, I'm so sorry.
Patrick: Oh, it's fine. I'm happy to do it.
Leo: Well thank you so much for being here. It's great to talk to you. Patrickbeja.com on the web and @NotPatrick on Twitter.
Patrick: And, you know, frenchspin.com if you want to listen to my French shows, which include a tech show by the way.
Leo: He speaks impeccable French, too, I might add.
Patrick: Ah, yeah, I have a little bit of an American accent.
Leo: Do you? I think you do.
Patrick: It's not too bad.
Leo: Rob Reid, always a pleasure to have you. Can't wait for the new novel, but Near Zero is now $2.99 this week only at Amazon.
Rob: This week only.
Leo: Once again, thank you to Random House for making that possible.
Rob: I was very specific with them. I said that I was going to be on your show and that it would be great to do a discount this week while we are here.
Leo: They said, well, only 4 or 5 people listen. We probably don't have to worry about that. Everybody buy it. Prove them wrong.
Leo: Rob, anything else you want to plug?
Rob: That's pretty much it. Except for the fact that if you do read a lot of books you are one of the best people in the world to marry.
Rob: Now I have certain bachelor friends who would run screaming from that.
Leo: You can read the books. Just don't talk about them. Just read them, that's all we ask. Thank you everybody for being here. We will see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye, bye.