This Week in Tech 475 (Transcripts)
Mike Elgan: It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Tech. Leo is off today, I’m Mike Elgan filling in. Chicago Sun Times tech journalist, MacBreak Weekly host, Andy Ihnatko is here, so is Kevin Tofel, senior writer for Gigga what, and we’ve also got Lee Hutchinson, senior reviews editor at Orjtoijal. We’ll talk about the big Apple announcements of course. The Apple watch, the Apply pay and the Apple iPhone, a great device with a flawed rollout. Plus, which is the very best smart phone of the year? We’ll try to answer that question. Facebook is under fire this week for its spyware-like messenger app and also its real names policy. It’s all coming up right now on TWIT.
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Mike: This is TWIT, This Week in Tech. Episode #475, recorded September 14, 2014.
Apple is Touching Me
This Week in Tech is brought to you by ScotteVest. Technology enabled clothing to carry all of your gadgets. Visit scottevest.com/twit now through September 22, to save 40% off ten of their best sellers. That is scottevest.com/twit and use the code TWIT14 at checkout. And by Citrix GoTo Meeting. A powerfully simple way to meet with coworkers and clients from anywhere. Share the same screen and see each other face to face with HD video conferencing. Even present from an iPad. Start your 30-day free trial of GoTo Meeting today. Visit GoTomeeting.com and click on the try it free button and use promo code 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 image subscription packages on new accounts go to shutterstock.com and use offer code TWIT914. And by Squarespace, the all in one platform to make it fast and easy to make your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free two-week trial and 10% off, go to squarespace.com and use offer code TWIT. It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Tech, the show where we find the most brilliant minds out there and we bring them in here and have the technology conversation of the week. Joining me today is Andy Ihnatko, the tech journalist for the Chicago Sun Times, host of MacBreak Weekly and internationally beloved industry figure. Welcome Andy.
Andy Ihnatko: Thanks Mike, thanks for mentioning my international belovedness. I’m too proud to mention it myself.
Mike: Well you trademarked it so you must be a little proud of it. Just kidding, you didn’t actually trademark it.
Andy: I got a postcard from somebody in Canada saying that they love me. So technically it’s another country so I am internationally beloved. That will stand up in court.
Mike: You’ve been on a quest recently to find a foldable blue tooth keyboard. I remember those, remember back 10 years ago when they were all the rage. How’s that quest going?
Andy: It’s going pretty well. I have in inventory, two different folding keyboards. One is a Matius keyboard that is still for sale but that is like an extended folding keyboard that is about this big when it’s folded up. I also have a Verbatim one that is a little bit smaller. The idea is to find one that is as close in size to the iPhone 6+ as possible to try and see how much work you can do with everything in your very ample coat pocket. I bought a couple of different ones that are available on Amazon so they’ll be arriving soon. What we’ve all been hoping for is the one you were talking about. The one that Palm used to sell which is just an incredible and reassuringly nice thing. It folds into the size of a tiny paperback book, in a very nice metallic clank, clank, clank. Like a Transformer, you need a flat surface for it but it’s a real nice notebook style keyboard. I’m shocked that with especially how popular smartphones are and how good the software for it. Whoever has the intellectual property on it, I’m amazed they have not done a blue tooth version of this. I’ve got $80 for it. I have $80 taped to my monitor waiting for the person who makes the blue tooth version of this keyboard.
Mike: I couldn’t agree with you more. Of course we’re writers, have you ever written or do you intend to write columns on a phone?
Andy: I’ve written a couple only when I’ve been caught in a true emergency. Where there is a news story and I got a text from my news editor saying, hey can you get 800 words on this in the next couple of hours? That’s the reason why I normally travel with an iPad. Often I travel with both an iPad and an Apple wireless keyboard. Even if I’m just out of the office for 3 or 4 hours I’ll have this with me. It’s really intriguing to me, to replace that kit with a phone screen that’s big enough and a keyboard that is good enough to actually allow me to put that in my pocket or a smaller pouch for it.. We’ll talk about it for sure later but boy that iPhone 6+ that is really right within the pipeline. It’s a very Andy Ihnatko, we want you to switch back to the iOS and iPhone even if we have to make a big phone to make you do it. That’s how much we want you back.
Mike: They care about you Andy and it’s very clear with that phone. I totally agree with you I love the big phone but we’ll talk about that in just a sec. Also with us today is Kevin Tofel the senior writer for Gigaom who specialized in mobile and wearing computing, that is one of the reasons he is here. He is also here because I love having him on Tech News Today, he is one of my favorite guests. Welcome Kevin.
Kevin Tofel: Good to be here. I am not internationally beloved but hopefully I’m locally beloved. I’ll check that out after the show. Andy is going to hate because I have one of the original stowaway portable blue tooth keyboards that fold up. I have one in my closet, along with all the other gadgets of yesteryear and its awesome. It’s a shame they don’t make them anymore.
Mike: Kevin you wrote about one of the craziest Android aps I’ve ever heard of called the Cosmos browser. Can you tell us about this wacky product?
Mike: There was a Skype glitch that had a really cool hip-hop effect. That was cool, for the recorded version you will enjoy that. Also with us is Lee Hutchinson, senior reviews editor at Arstechnica. Lee also writes about manned space flight as you can see from the background. Welcome to you Lee. Lee is very quiet.
Lee Hutchinson: I’m muted so you don’t hear my buckling Unicom keyboard that weighs eight pounds.
Mike: You’ve been at Arstechnica for two years now, they seem like a really interesting and unique publication. What’s it like to work there?
Lee: My wife has asked me about this before because I am not by trade a journalist. I’m an IT guy who wrote on the side for a while. It was a really big career change. After being here for two years, it is the greatest bunch of people I have ever had the honor of working with. The environment is really lively and hilarious. It’s a great bunch of people and a great job. Every day is a gift.
Mike: You guys write some really cool stuff and you write some cool stuff personally. It’s really exciting to see that. Welcome to the fraternity of journalist. I’m sure you drink much more heavily now and have a pension for free food. Welcome to the world of journalism. One of the only professions that is more lowly rated among public opinion than IT people. Let’s jump in to it, this week of course the big news is that Apple announced and a lot of my Android fan friends have asked me enough of the apple stuff already. We do have to cover certain things but I want to zero in on some of the unique things that have been under covered with the Apple event starting with the watch. The watch in general is a point of controversy with the Apple lover saying it’s the greatest thing in the history of mankind. The apple hater saying it’s a copycat, its overpriced and so on. All of that is true to a certain extent. I want to talk about a couple aspects of the watch. The technology in it and how it’s being implemented and what its prospects are for being a popular culture shifting item. I have the tendency to believe that it is. The two general areas of technology that I want to focus on is the pressure sensitive screen and the Taptic engine and how Apple is implementing it. Let’s just go around the horn, Andy you’ve played with it and you are impressed with certain aspects of it but I’ve read since then that you’re on the fence with it. You don’t have a really good reading if it’s the greatest or an also ran thing that is also overpriced. What is your feeling right now about the Apple watch?
Andy: Right now I don’t think I have enough information to have a real opinion yet. As a physical object I think it’s great. It’s the first smartwatch I’ve ever seen that if it were an analog watch I would consider buying it as an analog watch. The stainless steel versions is a handsome piece of jewelry. The problem was it was a much different roll out than the iPhone and iPad was. You left with a clear picture of what Apple intended for people to do with it. When I left the Apple Watch event, I felt like they had shown me a complete picture about the fitness features but I did not know what role they intended this to play in people’s daily lives. The last thing I expected to see was here’s a constellation of dozens of application icons. So many you need to zoom in and scroll to select an app. Do I want dozens of applications on a wristwatch when I have a phone in my pocket? There are so many ways to interact with it. You can tap on the screen, you can press and hold on the screen, swipe on the screen. We have a scroll wheel too with a button and a 2nd button over here for other purposes. Doesn’t that sound like a lot of controls for a simple device? The difficulty is the makers and consumers are all trying to figure out what the role of a computer on your wrist is supposed to be. We’re expecting it to be the difference between a tablet and a notebook or a phone and a tablet and I don’t think Apple made it very clear to us whether or not it’s supposed to be a device that we glance at as we glance at a watch to get a specific piece of information and then go back to our lives, or whether we’re meant to sit there like twiddling this thing and just looking at photos and getting news and information, and navigating the universe, and checking out planets. So it’s possible that Apple themselves are still working on the software and they’re still working on what they think this is going to be. For now, I just don’t have enough information to reach a conclusion, particularly based on we had access to what looked to be finished hardware. But the watches that were actually running interactive software were only on the wrists of senior Apple executives and the demonstrators. And we were not allowed to touch those any way shape or form. So I’m looking forward to the coming months where maybe Apple will reveal more the sort of software they expect developers to write for it. More importantly the sort of software that developers will not write for it. And when I get my first chance to really go hands-on with this and figure out what that experience is like.
Mike: So Kevin, let me give you my little theory of the Apple watch. It’s essentially that they have a long list of things wrong. It’s too big, it’s too ugly, it’s too expensive. The interface stuff that Andy talked about is definitely a problem. The scrolling around, all the millions of icons. There’s lots of problems with it and there are many aspects about the Apple watch that are identical in function to any other sort of Android wear watch. Or any of the non-Android wear watches out there. Even the Tisane watches. My essential theory is that Apple is onto something that is really tapping into the future of wearable technology in general. Andy, you’re a wearable writer, you write a lot about the wearable space. And what that thing is is that the tactics engine combined with sound combined with the touch interface brings in to your experience a lot more of your senses. So instead of like here’s some information going out and here’s some information coming back in, it’s tactile. So for example, these facts are under-reported in my opinion. When you sit there and use the scroll wheel, there’s a specific vibration and sound that’s associated with that gesture that’s exactly in sync with that gesture you feel on the bottom of the wrist. When you tap on the top of the screen, you feel your own tap on your skin. And when you move things around, everything has a haptic element. With a combined sound that goes with that. And so the end result is that this thing becomes psychologically and emotionally part of your body, essentially. Instead of just being a thing that shuttles information on and off, it becomes part of you and you inevitably will have phantom vibration syndrome and that kind of stuff later on. What do you think about that theory? Does that make sense to you or does that just sound like fancy features they’re throwing in there that are designed to be harder to do for their competitors?
Kevin: No, I think you’re on to something there, Mike. And I think Apple is onto something, too. But I have to agree with Andy in that they haven’t told the whole story. As much information came out of the event, I actually only wrote one post out of the entire event. And it revolved around, did Apple really give people a reason to want this thing? And basically said, they’re trying to redefine a market that isn’t yet defined. And that’s kind of new territory for them. Now granted, the haptic feedback, it does look more advanced than what we have on competing devices. I love the idea that as you’re getting navigation directions, you don’t even have to glance at your watch. You’ll feel the left tap or the right tap when it’s time to make your left turn or right turn if you’re walking around for example. I think that’s where some of the innovation lies, but I don’t think that we’ve yet seen the full story on how that’s going to be applied. It comes down to what do people want this thing for? What does Apple want people to use this thing for? The haptics are interesting to me very much so. But granted, we’ve had haptics in devices forever and there’ve been some improvements on that. Some keyboards have haptics that are kind of; if you’re tapping on the left side of the screen, you can kind of feel the haptic touch on the left side as you’re touching and so on. But I’m not sure that the whole story’s been told here. And if you notice, Apple did not call this a smart watch. Not one single time. And what we’ve been talking about here is smart watches by and large, wearable devices and so on. I don’t think Apple wants this to be classified as a smart watch. I think, Mike, what they’re going after is that physical and psychological experience that you were just mentioning. And they’re still working out the bits and pieces and how to make that happen without calling this a smart watch. Because let’s face it, a lot of the features like you said are already available on Android wear and such. But are they compelling features? Favoriting a photo on my iPhone so I can see it on my watch, why would I do that when I have to have the phone with me? I would want to see it on the bigger and better screen. That’s not a compelling reason to spend $350 or more because that’s the starting price probably for the lowest-end, smallest watch. So again, the haptics, the pressure sensitivity, it sounds interesting. Apple’s good at hardware. I’m not even sure about the whole touch versus tap and the pressure sensitivity. Because let’s face it, your iPhone can detect a touch or a tap. If you tap and hold, it knows you want to rearrange your home screen. There was a lot of marketing mumbo jumbo around that, and I’m not completely sold on that being innovative yet. I really need to see the product.
Mike: So, Lee, I think you’re an Android guy, right? You’re not an iPhone user, are you?
Lee: I’m pretty agnostic actually. I’ve got one of just about everything. My daily driver, the phone I actually own and pay for is an iPhone, yea. But I bounce back and forth between iOS and Windows Phone and Android pretty regularly.
Mike: In addition to this watch touching you, Apple has an interesting concept, touching you all the time. They’re also going to be touching your money with Apple Pay. And this is an interesting implementation for the Apple watch. Because essentially how it works is you authenticate the watch presumably with your fingerprint on the phone, and then as long as the watch stays latched on your wrist, you’re good to pay for stuff. As soon as you unlatch it, you lose the authentication and you can’t do it anymore. Generally speaking, what did you think of Apple Pay not only as a technology and the implementation of that technology, but as a competitor to all the other methods for electronic and mobile payment?
Lee: Well you know it’s an interesting question. The best answer I can give you is that even if something hasn’t necessarily taken over the world by storm yet, don’t discount Apple. They seem to have a way of taking technologies that are right on the edge and then pushing them into mainstream. And having people adopt them. I’m not really sure if it’s something I would necessarily use, the integrated watch pay. But at the same time, I’m kind of old-fashioned. The idea of storing payment details in a mobile device like that really kind of makes me nervous. Which maybe means I’m outdated. But it’s not really something that I would take advantage of very much. Credit cards are a well-established system. Merchant agreements between the people who are accepting cards and the banks and everything, the payment processors, MasterCard and Visa do a really great job of protecting consumers. But Apple adding any mobile payment system into that link is just another speed bump to overcome. We actually just published today I believe, a really good overview of Apple Pay written by Megan Geiss. One of my guys, she’s a girl, but written by one of my people. And she goes really in depth at how it works out. But I don’t know, the analogy that I read online was that, oh I’m going to screw this up. It’s like Google pushes the frontiers and then Apple brings all the settlers in after the frontiers have been pushed. And I think you’ll probably see mobile payments looking at one of those things that are like that. Google and other smart watch vendors have tread this territory before. And phones, too. But now I think we’re going to see it taking off because Apple is going to push it mainstream. As they have done with lots of things that a lot of folks didn’t know they needed, like tablets for example.
Mike: And of course Apple is going to market the heck out of it. We have a new Apple watch commercial. Let’s take a look at that, Chad.
[Voices]: The iPhone, the iPad, and now the iWatch. Apple Watch, the Apple watch. Damn, I am never going to get used to that. The Apple watch stands for a pleasantly plump little electronic watch. Android’s terrible, come here! It does so many cool little thingies. You can share your heartbeat, for some reason. You can try looking at pictures on a one-inch screen. You can buy five in a row and watch them dance. You can thumb something down or up. You can even set the date, just like a regular watch. Ooh, it’s got maps on it! Kind of like the phone you already have. Can it tell time? Yes. Do you have to charge it every night? Yes. Just like a regular watch. Sending emoji has never been more complicated. You can draw and send pictures to your friends. We don’t know how to turn off dick-pics though. It’s going to happen. That will be a feature that will come in the iWatch 2. Apple watch 2; I’m never going to not say that. Now you can watch YouTube videos right on your watch! Now you can watch YouTube videos right on your watch. Hey shut up, man. It even comes with Apple Pay so you can use your watch like a credit card. And trust us, Apple will keep your banking information very secure. Just like all those nude pics. Now a lot…
Mike: So this might not be an official ad. I’m not really sure about that.
Kevin: How can you tell? Really.
Lee: I will say that what the guy was saying about the iWatch versus the Apple watch. Someone at ours is still saying iWatch. Otherwise it’s like which watch are you talking about? Oh yea, it’s iWatch.
Mike: Tim Cook did it too on some network TV show. He said the iWatch. It’s a difficult one to break. And I think everyone’s making the same mistake. It’s probably cool to see them retire the I thing. That was kind of trend years and years ago when the iPod came out. People putting E and I in front of everything. I think Apple Watch makes more sense. I’m guessing the next phone will be called the Apple phone.
Lee: I did like that Tim Cook came out and did the one more thing, thing. That was something that, I was happy when he did it. That was a good callback. I liked that.
Mike: He stole that from Xiaomi.
Andy: Not only that but the entire event, I was just, the absolute glee in his voice and his facial expressions, and in his body language when he first started to talk about the iWatch. I saw this exact sort of stuff on Steve Jobs’ face when he was introducing the iPhone. And it immediately hits you that this guy’s been keeping the lid on a secret for a year or two or three. And now he finally gets to tell everybody about this cool thing that he and the rest of the team have been working on. And there is some obvious pride there.
Lee: And Tim Cook in the past, I’m sure you’ve watched his presentations that he has done. He, sometimes has, what’s the best way to put this? He sometimes seems like he’s not the most enthusiastic presenter. He often comes out and he looks like he’s maybe a little nervous. Or like he’s going to puke on stage. Yea, you’re absolutely right, Andy. This time he came out, he was glee-full, he was engaging. It was really good to see.
Kevin: It was clear that this was his way of stepping out from under Steve’s shadow. This was the Tim Show, the first major product release on his watch. No pun intended. You’re right, you guys could see the obvious pride. He was excited to show this off. And his emotions I think here were higher than anything else I’ve seen him present so far. It was actually nice to see for him.
Mike: Plus he got to touch Bono’s finger. That was a highlight. He was so excited it gave me the feeling that they weren’t going to tell him there was a big meltdown and they were essentially showing the truck schedule for a lot of this announcement. And then later they were giving the Mandarin or Japanese translations as part of this thing. The entire launch has been plagued by problems. There have been three major problems. One of them was the fiasco for the video, when they rolled out the announcement. We covered it live. It was just a train wreck in terms of the weird audio, the truck schedule, all that sort of stuff. And then when they did preorders, they got everybody on the east coast up at 3:00 in the morning to order this phone for some reason. And then there were glitches and they quickly ran out even though lots of people had trouble ordering it. There were probably shortages in the United States because they probably reserved millions of these units for China. But then the Chinese government didn’t approve them for sale. We still as far as I know don’t have a date for when the iPhones will be available for sale in China. And this seems to be part of the ongoing harassment by the Chinese government of American technology companies for a long list of reasons. And gripes that they have, plus to protect Chinese companies presumably. So how bad is this for Apple do you think? Are these passing glitches that people will forget about? Or is this going to go down in history as a flawed and glitch-filled launch?
Andy: I hope not because think about all the work and all the thought that goes into developing two new phones and a brand new platform. And then are we really going to dismiss that because the video feed was not good and they couldn’t handle the initial on rush of orders? It’s embarrassing certainly because Apple is certainly very known for; they’re the company that says we make sure that the back of the fence is painted just as well as the front of the fence. Because every step of the work matters whether it’s visible by the consumer or not. This is obviously embarrassing to them and I think it’s mostly fire power for people who just really want to find nasty things to say about Apple. And so you can talk about things you don’t like about the hardware and you can also say this is legitimately embarrassing that they had not just a glitch, but such a humiliating glitch. But maybe even AV club, they were talking about reviewing this week’s project runway, in which one of the designers put a dress on the runway that was inspired by color bars from a Samsung TV. And of course they had to tie that into a joke about it’s a celebration of the Apple fiasco. The first half hour of the thing. That is bad PR and not something that Apple likes. It’s embarrassing when you see so many people talk about things that certainly matter but don’t matter as much as anybody thinks it will. The last thing you need to say is at the end of the day, how much money is Apple making? How much is the demand for their products? If both of those are high, okay they’re willing to take the hit for a couple of embarrassing glitches like that.
Kevin: Yea, I’m with you, Andy. I think they’ll take their licks and come out the other side. And look at the ridicule that we’d be heaping on any company in this position, right? If Google had a product launch and this happened during Google’s live stream, everybody would be flinging just as much poo at them. It’s embarrassing but it’s absolutely not the end of the world. And I don’t think it reflects on any company’s ability to execute their product. Scaling demand, video streaming demand at the tremendous scale that a keynote like this gets watched, that has got to be very difficult. I couldn’t do it.
Lee: It’s not going to hurt any sales at all. It might be embarrassing but long story short, nobody’s going to remember this in a month or two when they have their iPhones in hand. Mike, you brought up a good point with the whole China government and no iPhones for sale there. Last month there was something interesting that happened and I don’t know if everybody caught this. The Chinese government, a specific area of it, told the big three carriers over there, you guys are spending far too much on hardware subsidies for the phones. And they basically said that you guys need to cut down on the subsidies by $2B this year. This was actually just China Mobile alone. And I’m wondering if Apple’s playing a little hardball here saying, whoa the whole piece of the subsidy pie is going down and we need to make sure we get our share. I just wonder if that’ playing into this at all.
Mike: Interesting. I wonder about that. That is a good point and one final thing on the Apple announcement. We’re going to talk a little about the quality of the iPhone, whether you should buy it or not in just a sec. After we take a break in just a minute. But one final thing about the whole launch; was the integration of U2’s album onto the phones, which now people are publishing instructions for how to get rid of it, and the whole U2 on stage, and the touching the fingers, did this seem kind of tone deaf as a presentation metric? And also as a roll-out for this album? What do you guys think?
Lee: Well Apple paid top-dollar for the right to distribute this album. I’ve heard figures up to $100M that Apple paid in order to have exclusive access to the album. From a consumer perspective though, I think more than anything else, people were a little creeped out with this demonstration that Apple can, and they have the ability through the iTunes cloud service to reach out and touch your library and put stuff into it. It’s obvious what happened, regular iTunes users understand the technology; we’re tech journalists. We know how this works but I mean for the average person it’s like how did this get in my library? How could Apple do this?
Mike: Especially in the wake of the iCloud scandal about the nude photos and so on. That was a little tone deaf on their part, I thought.
Andy: Well they couldn’t have anticipated that. And it’s also Apple has a different relationship with its consumers that they really do consistently project this point of view that says look we don’t care about what you do with our products. We’re not here to be involved in your daily lives. We just want you to buy our products and use our services. I was a little bit bummed by Amazon and Google’s music services. Because now my online library, my cloud libraries are corrupted by songs I don’t like. That were just simply given to me for free and I should be pleased. If you give me 50 songs and I liked four of them, then I should be pleased that I got four free songs that I like. Nonetheless, I’ve got this music that might come up on shuffle play that I don’t like. But you sort of expect that from Google and Amazon. You don’t expect that from Apple. Whether or not that was something they should not have done, it really does change the relationship a little bit maybe in some people’s minds.
Mike: We’re going to take a break. In a sec we’re going to talk about which phone you can buy, the best one that has come out or will come out this year. But first, I want to tell you about Scotty Vest. You see this shirt right here? This is called a Scotty Vest tech shirt. This shirt, kind of a jacket-like shirt. It can be worn as a shirt or a jacket. It has 13 pockets. It has zippered seam-side pockets on the side, a bunch of pockets on the inside. Quick-dry fabric, perfect for travel. I like to say that everybody who’s able to work for anywhere other than an office is a digital nomad. We’re all digital nomads now because most of us can work in various locations, at Starbucks, on traveling, on airplanes, in the car while waiting for various trains and buses and whatever it is we do. So we need our clothing to match that. Most of us wear jeans all the time. And there’s a little pocket in your jeans that exists for a pocket watch. Once upon a time we used to build our clothes to go with our gadgets and technology. We still need to do that; we just have a lot more gadgets and a lot more technology. That’s what Scotty Vest is really all about. I think it was last year maybe the year before that, my wife and I were in Spain and we were watching the Las Fiyas Festival. This is a big festival where they burn almost the whole city to the ground every year. They build these big effigies and they burn it down. And I was taking videos and pictures with my iPhone. There was a huge crowd of people and I had it on a stick. Then I wanted to use my other camera. I didn’t have a place to put my phone; had a big special attachment on it so it was too big for my pockets. I handed it to my wife and she put it in her purse. And somebody came up behind her and pickpocketed my phone. It also had a wallet attachment so all my credit cards were in there and everything was gone. This is one of the best use-cases I’ve ever heard of for using a Scotty Vest shirt. If I would have had this shirt at Las Fiyas, I would have simply put my phone in one of the 13 pockets and I probably would still had that phone. I could have sold it to Gazelle and made a bundle. Instead I had to replace it and that was a bummer. Interestingly Scotty Vest has a pickpocket guarantee. If you get jacked while you’re wearing this device and something’s stolen out of one of the pockets, they will give you up to $1000 reimbursement for whatever is stolen. That’s how confident they are. My wife and I lived for a couple of years as digital nomads. We lived in Kenya, Greece, all over Europe and spent some time in Morocco and so on. And norms vary in terms of how you use technology in public. For example in Greece I learned it was really kind of an odd thing; if you walk around with ear buds, those signature white Apple ear buds, it’s kind of socially unacceptable to walk around listening to podcasts. Which I have to listen to podcasts all the time. And so a shirt like this actually has, almost all Scotty Vest jackets and shirts have a way to hide your ear buds. So the whole cable is inside the shirt and you can reach into the collar and pull out the ear buds and listen to them. And they’re very difficult to see. Place like London, you have those white ear buds, you’re just a target for pickpockets. Theft on the street is very high because people can see from a mile away those white ear buds. So Scotty Vest is a solution to that as well. And Chad is actually wearing another Scotty Vest device called a Tropa-Former Jacket.
Chad: Yea, I have the Tropa-Former Jacket and holy macro is it awesome. Not only does it look super stylish, it has tons and tons of pockets of course.
Mike: 22 pockets.
Chad: 22 pockets, as any Scotty Vest…
Kevin: The zipper matches your hair!
Chad: Isn’t it awesome?! I absolutely love this thing and the pockets not only are there numerous, but they can hold sometimes some kind of ridiculous items. I have my iPad inside of my jacket here. This also has a really cool feature that if say it’s getting a little warm but you still want a little protection, it also has a hood inside of this collar here. I can actually pull off the sleeves if I want. They’re all magnetically attached. And now I have a sleeveless vest instead of a jacket. And then this is all just magnets. They’ll just snap right back on. It’s a really, really cool jacket. I totally think the Tropa-Former is the coolest thing I’ve ever had.
Mike: It’s a cool jacket. And of course, for each passing year, the industry presents us with additional stuff to carry. Andy was talking about a keyboard that he’s got to carry. He’s also now going to carry a giant phone. With all these mobile devices, they don’t get really good battery life. So you’re going to carry that Apple watch charger somewhere. You’re going to need lots of pockets for the new world of wearable computing. Of course if you have these pockets and you’re wearing these things, then all your technology is wearable computing. Here’s the good news. Scotty Vest is having a 40% off sale on 10 of their best-selling items. Fans of TWiT can get early access by visiting scottyvest.com/twit to get great Scotty Vest products you can buy from 40% off. Including the Tropa-Former jacket that Chad’s wearing, the tech shirt that I’m wearing. As well as the pack jacket, Lucy cardigan, and the hidden cargo pants 2.0. Not the 1.0 ones, the 2.0 ones. Make sure you use the promo code TWIT14 at checkout. You only have until September 22nd to take advantage of this incredible discount. If you happen to be watching this or listening to this, of course we record it and sometimes people listen to them very late, and if you miss the sale if you miss the September 22 deadline, make sure you check them out anyway and use the code ANYWAY. Because Scott Jordan who is the guy who runs Scotty Vest said he would put up other great deal for the TWiT army. And they feature different sale items daily for 20% off. So you go there every day and they’ll have new items for 20% off. So that’s scottyvest.com/twit and use the code TWIT14 at checkout. And we thank Scotty Vest for their support of TWiT. Well gentlemen, we have a conundrum on our hands. And that conundrum is what phone to buy. We reviewers get to try all kinds of things. And swap them in and out. And Leo of course buys every phone that he’s interested in. And most of us can’t do that. We have to pick one phone; so a lot of TWiT fans are technology geeks, gadget fans, and we’re willing to spend more for a better phone. And as I see it, and you guys correct me if I’m wrong please, but it seems to me the top five phones now for this year are the new Moto X that’s coming out pretty soon. Preorders go online September 16th we’re hearing. The HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5 of course, the LG G3, and the iPhone 6 Plus. Let’s just start with the five best. Are those the top five best phones you can buy right now?
Lee: You left out Windows Phone, don’t forget Windows Phone. I was going to say if you want to go that way you can do the M8 Windows Phone version. Although I have a permanent soft spot in my heart for the really colorful, really nice Lumias. In fact, I’m going to break ranks and say that my ideal phone right now for me personally if I could get my hands on a Lumia Icon or a Lumia 930. That would be kind of my perfect phone at this point. Which I know is weird because it’s Windows Phone. But you know I really like it. What can I say?
Mike: Alright what do you think, Andy?
Andy: I would add the Lumia 1020 to that list. Because it has something that no other phone has which is that really absolutely pocket-camera quality camera on it. When I did my big shootout a couple months ago about every single phone that I had in the office at the time and every other phone that I could get back or loaned for this shootout, really was the iPhone 5S and the Lumia 1020. And for very different reasons. Because the iPhone 5S was the most consistent; press this one button and get a nice picture. But the Lumia could get photos that no other phone could get. And Windows Phone has been making a lot of really good leaps. This was a banner year for it which this is sort of like the iPhone 3GS year for Windows Phone. Where some features that make it more practical and acceptable for more people are finally here. Still a pity that the software library is adequate and not exciting. Still a pity that getting acceptance and support for it is not as good as anything you can get on Android or iOS. But I pretty much agree with your lineup. The only one that I would not put on that list is the HTC One because that camera is just a non-starter.
Mike: So you guys are both focusing in on the cameras which makes a lot of sense.
Andy: No, I think that there’s so many of these other features are so similar to each other. The screens are almost all exactly the same as the other. Individual features from Android phone to Android phone, the feature of Android is diversity so that if you really, really want something to be weather-proof, great. You can choose between the Sony or the Samsung S5. If you really want something that has a really good sensor array and is really forward-thinking, and gets good Android updates, then you want to go for the Motorola. So on, and so on. For me, the difference between the HTC and the rest, is any reason I would have for getting the HTC, there is a better reason for getting a competing phone. The camera becomes a deciding factor when you have so many phones that might be so close to each other.
Mike: It seems to me though, Andy, that essentially what you’re gaining is a better camera in some cases plus some of the other features you mentioned. These are hardware features for the most part. They are awesome and compelling features. But you are giving up on two huge universes of apps. Is that really a trade-off you’d be willing to make?
Andy: Again we’re talking about a constellation of great phones. If someone is asking me, hey can you recommend a phone? It’s probably going to be one of these five. Probably not the HTC because I think there are other phones I could steer them into. But if they’re telling me, no I’m not the sort of person who keeps getting different games every single month or keeps trying to expand my universe with different apps. My usage for a phone is pretty much within the 65-75% of the universe bandwidth of it. Maybe they could be more attracted to the way the Windows Phone works. Which is a very attractive user interface. I love their start screen. And if they tell me that really this is the only camera they only use and they’re concerned about all the times where they’ve gotten bad pictures. Bad once in a lifetime pictures from their iPhone or from their previous Android phone, then I would sound them out on well what if I told you there is only one camera that has all the features that these other phone cameras do not have. You have to do some trade-offs in terms of its functionality as an app-running device. But if that’s not a problem for you, you should at least take a look at it. I would agree that I would not recommend the 1020 or Windows Phone to the majority of people. I would have to talk to them first to find out what they’re looking for and what their expectations are.
Mike: Kevin Tofel, what’s it going to be? What would be your list and do you think the new Moto X is likely to merit inclusion on this list?
Kevin: Absolutely the Moto X belongs on this list. I have one in my hand right here. The Moto X as you said goes on sale on September 16th. I was a big fan of last year’s Moto X and I think that Motorola has addressed the glaring gaps, the few glaring gaps that the original device had. Particularly in the camera. I’ll agree with Andy, this is not going to compete with a Lumia pure-view camera by any means. But for most people, I think it's going to be perfectly fine. This I think is the Moto X that Motorola wanted to build last year. But really couldn’t because of the hardware chip cycle. They couldn’t wait for Qualcomm to get their act together and therefore they had to put that special chip together with the processors and sensors and such. Much improved battery life is good. So I was already a fan of the Moto X so I will probably be buying the current Moto X. But as Lee said just before the show, he’s device and platform-agnostic. I try to be the same way. I did order an iPhone 6, not a 6 Plus. And I also do own a Windows Phone 520, Lumia 520 which I’ll probably replace with the 521. Just to keep track of what’s going on in the Windows Phone world.
Mike: Why did you order the 6 instead of the 6 Plus? Is it because you’re a runner and you like to carry it with you when you’re running?
Kevin: That’s a big part of it, Mike. I originally had the Galaxy Note 2 before that was cool. If that ever was. And I used to carry that everywhere. I’ve been down the fablet road two years before most people are going down it. I’ve used those phones. In fact the iPhone 6 Plus is very similarly sized to the Galaxy Note 2 that I used to use. The thing is I have gotten more into running with my phone. Most of the smart watches still require the phone. So it’s not like I can wear a smart watch and go out and run and have a GPS route tracked for me. Because I think only the Sony Smart watch 3 has GPS right now for Android wear. So yea, I stuck with what I wanted. I wanted a larger iPhone but I didn’t need a bigger 5.5 inch phone.
Lee: I want to ask a real quick question about this too. So I went to the Moto event. I got to play with the Moto X before I turned it over to Andrew Cunningham to do our full review on it. Before our full review went up, we had commenters posting in the review thread saying that they were disappointed that Motorola had made the X bigger this time. It jumped up to the 5.2 inch screen and the resolution kicked up to 1080p. If you’ve got both of them, what do you think about the shift from not quite as big screen to 5.2 inch screen? Is it really noticeable when you have the first gen Moto X and the new one next to each other?
Andy: That’s definitely true. I hope that we’re not going to totally abandon people for whom this is actually kind of a perfect sized phone. Because it really is a very attractive size. It’s just big enough I think. To let you really have the full phone experience without making you have to buy a special shirt to carry it around in. So I’m sorry that Motorola did not decide to keep that size in the lineup. But I just wanted to quickly underscore what Kevin was saying. The lead paragraph in my Moto X review is that finally I have a good default answer to the question of what Android phone should I buy. Because like I said it is all about choice. It really is about what are your priorities in hardware. Because you don’t have to settle for only three models of phone from one manufacturer. There’s a whole big world out there. But the chances are excellent, probably 80% that the Moto X is the best Android phone for you. Unless you want one of these three features, which think about one of these other three, but definitely don’t discount the Moto X because there are so many advantages to it in so many ways.
Lee: And the price is right, too.
Andy: $99. I had to double check to make sure I had gotten that note correctly. $199 surely, nope it’s $99. Alright then, even better.
Mike: Incredible. Let me ask you one last thing and we’ll move on from these phones. Does the fact that we have wearable devices now, many of us have Android wear and by this time next year, lots of people are going to have wearable devices of all kinds. Does the existence of wearable devices change your criteria for choosing a phone? Should it change your criteria? For example, if you have a wearable device, does that mean it’s better to have a larger phone because you can leave it in your pocket? And women can leave them in your phone. And you can interact with notifications and all that kind of stuff on your wearable device. And does it reduce the appeal of something like the Moto X? I mean the Moto X is great because it essentially functions like a wearable computer because you can interact with it and talk to it and so on. Now you can talk to your watch with an Android phone that isn’t a Moto X. So how does the existence of the wearable market now that it’s completely mainstreamed I think by Apple, how does that change the calculation to which phone you should buy? We’ll start with you, Kevin.
Kevin: You raise a great point, Mike. Because all day long as long as I’ve had this Moto X, it’s been on my desk when I’m sitting at my desk. And I’m using it like a wearable. I’m speaking to it all day. I’m not going to say the magic phrase because all of our phones are going to go nuts right now. But yea, as opposed to my putting a wearable in front of my face and saying the same thing, there’s a lot of duplication here. The timing of the wearable devices and the smart watches is coinciding with intelligent sensors and software that can take advantage of always listening-functionality on our phones. So maybe there isn’t as much need for that type of wearable device right now. The other thing that you didn’t mention I think is a very key point; if you go with a smart watch, you’re essentially starting to lock yourself into the ecosystem even more. Because the Apple watch will only work with iPhones. And the Android wear watch, they’re not working with iOS. They’re only working with Androids. Microsoft has rumored to be working on a watch that will work across all platforms. But that’s right now not existing. So there’s a whole other aspect to this.
Mike: Interesting. Well in a sec, we’re going to hear from Facebook and see what they’re up to. There’s a lot of people complaining about Facebook again this week and we’ll see what they’re up to. But first of all I want to tell you about GoToMeeting, one of our sponsors today. GoToMeeting is a suite of applications from Citrix that enables you to communicate very freely and with very high definition through video and all kinds of other ways. It essentially reduces the need for you to travel and spend a fortune. And go through the hassle of flying around just to go to meetings. In any sort of business, strong communication and collaboration are super important. And if you’re in sales or do anything that involves closing deals, of course GoToMeeting can help you close those deals quicker, solve problems better, and essentially connects you with clients, your customers, and your business partners. And your co-workers in a way that’s super, super efficient. With GoToMeeting, you can meet online as often as you like with anyone anywhere in the world, and you can share screens, review documents, presentations in real-time. And use the built-in HD video conferencing feature to see each other face-to-face to engage and connect. I personally like GoToMeeting meetings far better than in-person meetings. Because you can sit there and look at the information. You don’t feel like you’re being rude to people when you’re reviewing the documents over an electronic connection. But when you want to make eye contact with people in real-time, you can do that of course through the HD conferencing feature. And best of all, it allows you to cut out the wasted time and travel. I personally think that meetings gobble up so much value for all companies. Especially for small companies when you don’t have a lot of time to flush down the toilet with all this travel. So much better to have your meeting, have this great meeting, everything’s recorded. And then you can move forward and stop wasting so much time and money. And of course we use GoToMeeting here at TWiT. It feels like we’re in the same room even though we may be miles apart. Some of the people we interact with are on the other side of the world. So try GoToMeeting free and see what it can do for you. If you go to gotomeeting.com and just click the try it free for 30 days button and make sure you use the promo code TWIT. That’s try it free for 30 days. There’s a button there, use the promo code TWIT. That’s gotomeeting.com, promo code TWIT. And we thank GoToMeeting for their support of TWiT. Well Facebook is at it again. They’re being slammed in the press for their lack of privacy, specifically a report on Motherboard said they talked to a security researcher who examined the code for Facebook Messenger. And he basically said the code looks more like spyware than like a messaging application simply because it’s harvesting so much information there. Lee, you cover security a lot and security-related things. What do you think about this thing? Is this just Facebook being Facebook or is it something we should all be concerned about?
Lee: There’s an old adage that I try to always keep in mind when looking at applications like this. That is to never describe something too malice that can better be described to stupidity. I don’t honestly believe that there’s an international Facebook cabal that’s out to steal everybody’s information. This type of application is typically programmed on a deadline. The application developers do what they have to do in order to meet their goals. And sometimes if less attention is paid to security than is perhaps wise or prudent, it’s often because of deadlines or because the developers simply don’t care. I don’t think that this is Facebook is out to look at every point of the screen where you tap, they want to know so they can record all of your tapping data. I don’t think it’s anything like that. I think it’s the people who programmed the app didn’t give it the appropriate amount of security auditing or simply didn’t care.
Mike: And they also put in some sort of funny comments in the code. For example, they said do not use this feature or you will be fired. That was kind of an interesting thing. And of course a lot of this stuff is being dug up by multiple researchers. One example, for example Lee, is they’re going after and recording or harvesting or capturing your Wi-Fi identifier. I get the feeling that one of the reasons they’re collecting this information is just in case later on they want to do some analysis on one thing or another. They don’t want to close any doors; they’ve basically gotten you to agree to do anything.
Lee: Absolutely. Remember also that Google and Apple are capturing the same type of data. Google especially uses your Wi-Fi access point and Gia location in order to help better find where you are in Maps. I mean all these things; you also have to look at with this particular app, they’ve got access to some of the non-public APIs according to the Motherboard report. Because Facebook has such tight integration with the iOS core. So they’re given a little more access than random Joe Developer would be. It’s really difficult, obviously as journalists we don’t-some of us do I suppose-most of us don’t have the inside knowledge on the design flow process behind apps like this. What exactly is Facebook trying to achieve by segregating this stuff out. There’s what we can theorize they want to achieve. But what exactly is the goal here? It’s hard to say. But again I don’t think that any of this, clearly some of these things are problematic. I’m not personally a Facebook user. I have facebook.com black-holed in my local DNS. I don’t have an account and don’t use it. I don’t like them.
Mike: Lee Hutchinson, you are wise.
Lee: I know. Well thank you. I don’t think this is a purposefully malicious act that is out to snore up all your credit card data and have Facebook steal your personal information.
Mike: Andy Ihnatko, how concerned should people be about Facebook’s alleged privacy violations? And the messenger stuff in particular? Is this a concern?
Andy: Yea, I think that anytime you talk about Facebook and privacy you should be concerned. It’s part of your responsibility as a Facebook user to really curate all your settings carefully and make sure that Facebook is working the way you want it to. They just have a deplorable track record here. And I agree, it’s kind of baroque to imagine red rogue people in an accolades inside of Facebook circling around a pool trying to figure out what brand of shampoo that you’re personally using. And being upset that they don’t know what brand of shampoo that you’re use. There is such a thing as corporate culture. There is such a thing as there is a message that is sent to every single employee through the behavior of the rest of the company; is privacy of user data important? Well, not really. It can be sacrificed for the greater good. And we believe sometimes the greater good includes the greater good of the users of Facebook. That’s why we make sure that if someone sends you and invite to something and you click well, maybe I’ll go, then we want to post that on your wall so that all of your friends know that you might be attending the roller derby in Framingham in two weeks’ time. Even though you just thought you were telling a friend of yours who is on your roller derby team that you’re going to try to make it this time. So you really do need to curate this stuff carefully. In terms of when bugs like this happen, again it’s most likely an honest mistake. But I also would have to think that a company that takes privacy more seriously would already have safeguards in place to say, hey look, if we’re taking a look at this kind of data, we have to make sure we get signoffs on this, this, and this. We’re going to add so much to our QA process for this feature to make sure it is not possible to compromise people’s data this way. If you don’t take that stuff terribly seriously, you’re definitely going to make sure the program isn’t going to do anything it’s not supposed to do. But you’re not going to put up those five barricades against bad things happening. So if you’re going to ask me should I be concerned about privacy with Facebook, the answer to that is always yes.
Mike: Well you know it’s interesting that I have the feeling that Facebook likes to say that they care about privacy. And I believe that they believe that they safeguard privacy. But they also harvest all kinds of personal data for all kinds of reasons. Mostly to improve, to generally improve the app. But I think the key point with Facebook is they’ve discovered somewhere along the line, users don’t care. There are a few vocal people in the press who complain about privacy violations and who are really paying attention to this stuff. But they have 1.3, 1.4 billion users, and the vast majority, I’d say better than 98%-I’m making these numbers up-they just don’t care at all. They just trust Facebook or they believe that they don’t have privacy information. They may not be thinking about a malicious person might be able to put two and two together and figure stuff out or whatever. But they’ve learned that people don’t care. Kevin Tofel, let me ask you this, if people don’t care and Facebook is in fact right about that, isn’t it okay for them to just harvest all the information in sight if the end is to improve the product? Isn’t that a laudable goal?
Kevin: Well, you know they’re a business. And they’re in business to make money. And they’re going to do that by capturing this data. Would I say that this is alright? No, I wouldn’t. But I think you hit the nail on the head because most people these days, I mean we’ve been using smartphones now for how many years; we’ve been downloading app after app, after app. We’re becoming numb to the permissions of what these things can do because it’s just part of our life now. Just download the app and go. And we’re putting a lot of trust in all of these companies. Should we? Obviously that’s a personal choice. I would have to side with Andy and say we do need to be very cautious with a company such as Facebook or whoever it is, be it Google, be it Microsoft. Be it Apple. I think Facebook has an obligation to be forth-coming with what they’re doing with data and when they make changes. But part of the problem as you’re eluding to, Mike, is people either don’t care or don’t want to invest the time to care.
Lee: I think a lot of people have a reactive mindset to privacy. We’ve been trained to that. You look at these corporations that are putting out large invasive applications that you depend on for huge chunks of your life like Facebook. And you trust that they’re going to do the right thing. And what your definition of the right thing is and what Facebook’s definition of what the right thing is might be different. It’s certainly easy for Facebook to say trust us, because Facebook speaking of them as a big model entity, they understand what they’re doing. And they know that whatever they’re doing is ethical by their standards, so why wouldn’t you want to trust us? We’re going to have this app, and we’re doing the right thing. We’re Facebook, trust us! People are often very passive about their response to security issues. And they wait until there are compromises or issues to adjust their privacy settings for example. I think this is just one more thing.
Mike: Andy, you had a comment?
Andy: Yea, I just want to say on the subject of people don’t care. It’s okay for that to be a factor when people are informed and they understand the situation. And they’ve decided they don’t care. But if they don’t understand it, then the fact that this car company has put the gas tank this close to the bumper; means that if there is even a minor rear end collision there is a good chance that the fuel will splash into the passenger compartment and a very survivable accident will turn into a four way fatality. Then if they decide that I’m still okay with the styling of not having regulations about the gas tank or buying this car no matter what, that’s silly but okay you can allow them to do that. I think it’s our responsibility to make sure they know what the hazards are. Again, I’m not telling everybody to not use Facebook. I did a video a couple weeks ago where I decided to say nice things about each of the five major consumer-facing companies. The thing I had to say that was nice about Facebook, the fact is that it connect everybody. The fact that you’re a great uncle and you get to find out things about your nieces and nephew’s life that they want you to know about without having to call every single day. That is a good thing that Facebook does. I’m not saying that anybody would be foolish to trust Facebook with their transactions. All I’m saying is that they have to be aware that this is what the company does. And this is what the philosophy of the company does and this is the history of the company. And the company and private information, they’re not evil but the idea of protecting your personal information and making sure that you’re not exposing things to the company or the world that you would not like to be exposed; that’s not a very high priority. So know about that and then take a look at the pictures of your niece’s high school graduation party. But definitely know what you’re getting into. The price of not caring is knowing what you’re not caring about.
Mike: That’s a great point. I get the feeling that Facebook is similar to Google in the sense that they’re two kinds of companies. There are companies like Apple which have this behind the scenes, they form this grand vision and it’s very clear to them what that vision is. Then they plow forward toward that vision. Then there are companies like Facebook and Google that throw spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. And I think that Facebook and Google in both cases, part of their model is to build a better user. And a better user is one that can tolerate more invasions of privacy to a certain extent. So they both tend to push push push and see the pushing as sort of a blazing into new territories in terms of getting people to accept different things in privacy standpoint. As part of their survival strategy; because you have to reinvent yourself all the time if you’re in technology. And this is how these companies do it. In the case of Facebook, I have an ongoing thing that I do on Google Plus with my posts where every time they issue another apology, I do a big post about it. And list all their past apologies. They apologize ten, fifteen times a year for major things that really upset people. And that seems to be the policy: try anything, if everybody freaks out, apologize and back track a little, then keep pushing forward. And that’s their governing philosophy and it works for them. They’re very successful and increasingly they’re successfully financially, especially in mobile advertising. There’s another aspect to Facebook’s criticism that’s in the news this week. A website called QueerTee, it’s a network of gay and transgender people and also people who are in drag, and who have drag personas that they want to put on Facebook as their name. They have been apparently singled out by Facebook, according to this article. And they have been ordered to pony up their identification, their passports and so on to prove who they really are in order to crack down their real names. You guys remember the real names controversy a few years ago because both Google Plus and Facebook were requiring real names. And Google recently back tracked on that and said, we don’t care what your real name is anymore. We’re not going to force you to have real names. But according to this article, Facebook is sticking with the real names thing. And of course this is an attempt to use Facebook for identity which is great for selling people things and so on. What do you guys think about this? Lee, let’s start with you; why is Facebook insisting on real names if in fact these reports are true?
Lee: Can you guys hear me okay? I had a little video glitch a moment ago.
Mike: Yea, you sound great.
Lee: Great, you know the internet has traditionally separated people’s real life identity from the identity that they have the option of portraying online. And I think when a company decides that they want to step in and police anonymity or they want to come in and use their position as the provider of a network in this case Facebook, to make sure everybody is behaving correctly and tying their online identity to their real life identity, I think it’s a massive invasion of privacy and a terrible mistake. I think that this is a huge overstep. It doesn’t do anything to stop abuse. I think we clearly saw that with Google’s real name policy and the tying of names with G+ and all of that craziness that was supposed to fix YouTube comments and make life better. And it just didn’t. Blizzard with battle net has in the past tried to do a real name thing that flopped terribly. And this is just another terrible idea. I don’t think that forcing people to identify online with their real name serves anybody’s interest at all except potentially advertisers who are building profiles. This is a terrible idea. It’s an invasion of privacy and it runs the risk of exposing the classic examples, victims of domestic violence or crimes that still want to communicate with others online but hide their identities. I’m absolutely opposed to it and I think it’s terrible.
Mike: What do you think, Andy? Do you think there is any real benefit to insisting on real names?
Andy: Not really. There’s conceptually a benefit. We all understand, we all imagine how much better the internet would be if everybody that says something had to put their own representation behind it. But this is why it’s so great to have technology that evolves. I think five years ago, we would not have considered the idea that there are people who need to have anonymity. There are people who need protection; who would not participate if they had to expose their true selves to the world. And that’s certainly their prerogative. As a society we have to ask ourselves do we want to exclude those people in the broader goal of a more rational and more polite internet. Or do we simply say, okay we did not think about that so let’s figure out a way to make sure these people can be safe and be happy and not feel as though they’re excluded from this world wide conversation. This worldwide community; and find a different way to making the internet a more polite place. I think that if Facebook wants to stick to the idea of real identity, good luck with that. I think they’re definitely wrong; they’re very ignorant. They were not wrong to think that was a good idea to begin with but now that we know the ramifications of real identity for so many people, you really have to accept that someone else’s world is different that the world that I myself live in.
Mike: It seems discriminatory in the sense that, say I want to call myself Kevin Tofel on Facebook…
Kevin: You don’t want to do that, trust me.
Mike: I want to bask in the glory of being Kevin Tofel. But they have no way to challenge that. They wouldn’t challenge it. I would just be allowed to use somebody else’s name or a made up name that sounds like a reasonable name. There are people all over the world; somebody that speak a relatively obscure language, somebody is from Swazi-land or something; how does Facebook know if a certain name is really fake or sounds legit from all these different languages, and so on. For example, this case revolves around a person who I believe identifies themselves as male and the name is Sister Roma. So that’s a case where Facebook would single that out and say, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like a real name. So there are certain types of names, maybe OMG-Chad for example. When the real name’s policy hit back three years ago, OMG-Chad is the name Chad, you wanted to use on Google Plus. And they said that doesn’t sound like a real name.
Chad: Absolutely. It was the worst. And because Google Plus was forcing you to integrate with YouTube. So the only way I could get my YouTube name was to create a page and I had spent all this time creating my normal account; my Chad Johnson account. But I couldn’t integrate that with YouTube because of the forced integration. Yea, that was definitely a huge issue for me. And it didn’t even have these LGPT concepts around it. It’s a pretty poor thing to tell someone they don’t have a right to self-determination. This is who I am and this is how I want the world to refer to me as; and to say, nope, we’re not going to let you choose your name. That’s poor behavior. That’s terrible.
Mike: The other side of this is something that has to be mentioned now. Viola Blue really went after Google Plus with the real names thing because there’s specifically for transgender and gay people who basically were being outted against their will by Google when they had the real names policy. But the other side of the coin is when you have real names, if they could really do real names, people who want to speak up in public and still be able to smack down trolls and block them permanently, real names are a more powerful way to do that. So there’s a benefit to people who want to be public and who want to be free from trolls because right now since Google dropped the real names policy, trolls are popping up all the time to harass people with racist and misogynistic comments. And when they’re blocked, they just create a new identity and come in as a different person. It happens all the time; so that’s the other side of this. I think I agree with all of you; that the larger benefit is toward allowing people to use the names they want to use. And of course in Chad’s case, they fixed Google Plus. But it’s too late for Chad. You’ve got way too many followers now to really go back and change it, right?
Chad: To be honest, it kind of killed Google Plus for me. I basically don’t use Google Plus anymore because I have a public face which is OMG-Chad, which is associated with my YouTube account. Then I have my Chad Johnson account which is the one I actually use and it’s connected with all the things on my phone. The page isn’t really connected to things on my phone. They lost a user, and a pretty prevalent one because I was enjoying Google Plus up to that point.
Mike: Well we miss you. I know you’re on a little bit. But not as much as you might have been.
Chad: Mostly auto-post YouTube videos.
Mike: It is an odd thing. I’m expecting an apology any second now from Facebook and something of a revision of their policy. But I think they’re still going to have something of a real names policy. Facebook can just do no wrong. No matter how many times they come and hit people with unpopular policies like that, they’re still huge. You got to go there because everyone you know there is on Facebook. They have what I call a monopoly and everybody’s on Facebook because everybody’s on Facebook. So I don’t think people really care that much about the service itself, that’s just where people are. So they’ll continue to dominate, I’m sure. In just a sec, we’re going to talk about something that’s dear to OMG-Chad’s life, which is the potential purchase, which will probably be announced tomorrow, by Microsoft of Mind Craft and the company that makes it. But first I want to tell you about another one of our sponsors which is Shutter Stock. I’ve been blogging for many years; I’ve been blogging since before blogs existed. And if you want to blog now days, you have to be super visual; you can’t just throw text-based blog posts because nobody will want to read them. We live in a visual world. Well sometimes we blog things that are very abstract. So how do you come up with a visual element for something very abstract? An idea, like privacy, how do you illustrate that with a compelling image? Well you do it with Shutter Stock. Shutter Stock is an amazing service, of course they have other things besides pictures, but for pictures and blogging this is an amazing service. They have of course video clips and other types of content, vectors, illustrations, you name it. They’ve got all kinds of content. And 275,000 new images every single week so it’s always being refreshed for new stuff. What I love the most about Shutter Stock I think is the search engine. So sometimes you want to go in there and you want something very particular. You want to look for somebody who is using a computer, who looks sad and they’re wearing orange. You know, you can go really specific on that stuff and find images on Shutter Stock, no matter what it is you’re looking for. And you don’t just want to grab a picture from the internet. Obviously somebody took that picture, and the photographer owns the copyright on that. And you’re just asking for trouble; and you’re also asking to have your reputation tarnished by the theft of images. You don’t want to do that. There’s no need to do that. A standard subscription on Shutter Stock gives you 25 images a day. I think that’s the one we have here at TWiT. So when we do blogging on TWiT, we can go there and grab 25 images; you probably won’t use 25 a day if you’re a blogger. But it’s nice to have all those options. You can download the image in any size and you pay only one steady price. They have sophisticated tools. 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And new accounts will receive 20% off their already low prices for image subscription packages. We thank Shutter Stock for their support of this show. And again, I get so much out of Shutter Stock; I go in there a lot and post some very visual things on Google Plus. And what I’ve discovered, I’ve discovered a little blogging trick. Here’s one of my blogging tricks for Google Plus: Google Plus and the internet in general and other social networks have a very radically international audience. Sometimes we tech people talk about some pretty obscure concepts. And they tend to be lost on people who don’t speak English as their first language. However if you don’t get the international community behind your project, you’re never going to go to the What’s Hot list. You’re never going to make it to the top of viral voting. But if you use a really compelling image, a lot of people will up vote just because they love the image. And that will get you your post in front of a lot more people because it will be essentially up voted. That’s a little trick I’ve used on Google Plus and I’ve gotten to the top of the What’s Hot list many times. With a little nudge from a really awesome photo. Well, OMG-Chad, man what do you think about Microsoft buying Mojang?
Chad: I think it’s definitely possible. So this was a rumor that hit the Wall Street Journal last week. And they originally said that it would be $2B, was what Microsoft was offering to buy Mojang. Mojang is the company that makes Mind Craft, which is of course if you talk to any boy who is from the ages of 7-12, he will absolutely know what Mind Craft is.
Lee: Not just 12, I’m 36 and I’ve been running a private Mind Craft server for three years.
Chad: Absolutely. The mindshare that this game has is unbelievable. There’s a lot of different rumors on why this an interesting acquisition for Microsoft. Some people say that they want to make sure that they can lock down this game so that it’s on Xbox, so that it’s on Windows Phone. That sort of thing. Or maybe just the intellectual property of Mind Craft is so powerful.
Mike: Do you think the Mind Craft community is freaking out over possibly being part of the Microsoft umbrella?
Chad: Absolutely. Something that’s not as well-covered but is definitely an issue in the circles I hang around in, is Mind Craft is also a huge platform for making videos on YouTube. Making internet entertainment. Somehow Mind Craft was there at the exact right time and has the exact right features to be creative enough where you can create entertaining content on it almost endlessly. So there’s a lot of online entertainers and YouTubers who have grown up with this video game of Mind Craft. And they’re very sensitive to any large company coming in and saying well now you can’t monetize videos. And Mojang has been very lenient on all the creators making as much money as they want. In contrast, a company like Nintendo has basically taken money from those creators by saying well if this has Nintendo intellectual property in it, we’re going to take an amount of the ads that are placed on the YouTube videos that you create. And that incredibly frustrates creators but Mojang on the other hand has been completely easy about it. But if a sale to Microsoft happens, that might not be the case. And people are really shaking in their boots. There’s channels that are solely devoted to Mind Craft videos. And they’re very scared about what this could potentially mean for their careers basically.
Mike: Now Lee, you’re obviously a big fan. Do you think Markus Notch Persson is a big sellout for considering this?
Lee: Poor Notch. I’ve been involved in Mind Craft as a player and a private server admin for a long time. Since the end of 2010. And beating up on Notch is kind of like the oldest Mind Craft activity that you can possibly do. It doesn’t matter what the poor guy does. He gets stick from the community for having made a tremendous amount of money. He gets stick from the community for having screwed the game up. Over and over again. It seemed like for a while in late 2010 or early 2011, that every addition to the game he was releasing updates very frequently, and every edition would break something. And there would be image macros immediately after the new Mind Craft release. Here’s what Notch has screwed up this time. The guy has come into a tremendous amount of money over the past few years. And he’s done a really good job, in my opinion of being responsible with the millions and millions of dollars that have come his way from programming this game. He gives huge amounts of money to charities. He’s given a tremendous amount of money back to his employees. He’s a great guy. But dealing with a very rapid, very active fan community for any game, I think is very difficult. And Notch has gotten more than his share of hoop thrown at him for his success. And in this of course, everybody says, oh my gosh, he’s selling out. Notch is selling out! I don’t think Notch has been really involved with the day to day activities. I know he hasn’t’ been involved with the day to day Mind Craft activities for a long time. I don’t know how active he is with steering the course of the game. He stands to make a tremendous amount of money from this sale, if this sale happens. But my impression is that he was so soured on just the sheer amount of hate he gets, that this is if anything kind of a relief to him. That he can sort of cash out and not have to get beat up from 15 different directions no matter what he decides to do.
Mike: Yea I think that just the consensus out there is that this will be announced tomorrow, Monday. And the reason Microsoft wants to do this is to bolster their mobile platform, their mobile gaming platform. I don’t know if you guys agree with this, but I just hope they won’t wreck it. I hope they keep it cross-platform, across all platforms. Yea, put it on Windows Phone. Of course it’s on Xbox and so on already. This is an important game I think because this is a game that really excites really young people. And it provides an alternative to Grand Theft Auto and some of these other things. Instead of your 9-year old out there beating up prostitutes and mowing people down with old Cadillacs on Grand Theft Auto, they’re building stuff. And they’re getting the thrill of creating things and having a social network around something very constructive. And so I think that if Microsoft does purchase this, and again it looks like they will, I just hope that they don’t mess it up. I hope they invest in it and really get it spread out there. This is a great thing.
Lee: There are lots of areas that the fan community thinks that Mojang has sort of fallen down in its development responsibly. You’re right that it’s a tremendously egalitarian game. The server platform runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The game itself runs on Mac, Windows, Linux, consoles. It runs on just about everything.
Chad: Raspberry Pie.
Lee: Yea, exactly. And it doesn’t have even still years and years after they said they were going to do it, it doesn’t have a functional plug-in and modding system. You got to do your stuff to add mods to it. There’s a lot of things that would enhance the community’s involvement in it that it doesn’t yet have. And the promise that a big company like Microsoft coming in and owning the IP, the hope is that they would come in and rather than closing it off and saying that Mind Craft is an Xbox One exclusive from now on; the hope is that they would come in and bolster the development resources, add the plug-in system, and help do the things that the game needs that hasn’t been done in the game for so long. That would be the optimistic thing; whether that’s actually going to happen or not, I don’t know. I sincerely hope they do not come in and change the platform that the game’s available on. That would kill one of the most valuable aspects of the game. As it is, you go in and you pay your money and it doesn’t matter what you’re running. Everybody can come in and play the same game in the same shared world. And build stuff, and dig holes and mine, and everything. It’s great. It would be a shame if it gets closed.
Chad: There’s one last little kind of funny bit of information that came up on the sub-Reddit on Mind Craft. Two years ago, Notch tweeted his price that he would sell out for. His price two years ago was $2B. My price is $2B, give me $2B and I’ll endorse your crap is what he said on Twitter. It was an omen two years ago.
Mike: So that’s apparently what Microsoft must be paying him. They’ve got it. They’ve got many many billions to spend on this stuff. And it sounds to me that it would be a good move on Microsoft. And if they keep it and support it, Lee in the way that you say, that would be a great thing for everybody. And I hope that they do that. We’ll see. We’re going to find out what the deal is tomorrow and see if he gets his $2B. The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day way back in 2008 if they didn’t hand over user data to the NSA. We’re just learning about this because this stuff was sort of ripped out of the hands of the government. And now we’re getting all of these heavily redacted documents, formerly redacted documents. And we’re learning all kinds of nasty stuff. Roughly 1500 pages worth of secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle to resist the government’s demands. Essentially what happened is the government came to Yahoo and said we want all this data. Hand over all this data and we know there are going to be some American citizens that are going to be affected. But you know what, we are the government, we are the court and you have to hand it over. And you can’t tell anyone that you’re doing it. And Yahoo said, that sounds unconstitutional. I think that doesn’t sound right. And they said well unconstitutional or not, you got to pay us $250,000 a day for everyday that you don’t comply. And also they implied that they would make their life miserable in other ways if they don’t comply. Yahoo ultimately complied and Microsoft complied. And eventually everybody complied and it led to the prism thing and all the NSA revelations that have been surfaced by Edward Snowden. Andy Ihnatko, this is another case where we’re kind of looking at the ugly details. This was during the Bush administration. I think both he Bush and Obama administrations are at fault for this. What do you think about this? I mean, I know you’re not a constitutional scholar and so on. But does this sound like something that the government ought to be able to do? Just go to Yahoo and say hand over all the data.
Andy: I have to circle back to what I was saying earlier about the Apple Watch. There’s so much I don’t know about this situation. But that doesn’t get in the way of my revoltion that the government can do stuff like this. Bravo to Google for having to really be absolutely thrown against the wall with their forearm against their neck before handing over data like that. I really have to say that as an individual, what I’m most bothered by is the lack of oversight. I think that as adults for generations we get used to the idea that the government is going to do things we don’t understand, but which are actually are very much in our interest. And not only us but the rest of the country. The rule has always been that if the government isn’t telling me personally about this, if I don’t know personally what the FBI is doing, the FBI has to talk to another agency. And they have to be transparent to another agency who will be secret but at least they’re not completely in control and answerable to nobody. What is concerned me the most is the fact that not only do you have to hand over this data but you also can’t tell anybody that you’re handing over this data. You also have no idea who does the NSA have to tell about what they’re doing. Do they have to explain to any other agency that as severe as this action is, it is actually getting results? Here is the report that we’re required to file on an annual basis about the results of what we’re doing. The difficulty is that whether you believe that there is malice involved or not, the primary responsibility of any government agency is to get funding for next year and not be eliminated. And that’s one of the most concerning things of all, whether it is something as big as this program at the NSA. Or something as simple as the need to keep making sure that telegraph wires can support Morse code at a certain BOD rate. After a certain need has surpassed, there is a division at this agency whose job it is to make sure they get funding for next year. And they will do whatever they have to do to say no, we’re absolutely essential. There is almost no agency who has ever said, actually what we’re doing is completely redundant. We don’t need to exist; here is our $11B budget back to you, and our 300 people are going to find something else to do with our time. Because we are a colossal and government-supported waste of time. That’s what my concern is, that there is never going to be a situation where the NSA says we don’t need this information anymore. There are better ways for us to achieve our goal of keeping the United States’ citizens safe that do not involve all this sort of stuff. So if they get the budget to keep harvesting data, there is going to be a way for them to keep that budget of harvesting data. Whether it’s necessary or not. And the thing that happens to be most destructive is when 10 years go by and no one even stops to consider anymore if it’s a good idea to keep harvesting this data. The reason why someone is hired to go to this little pump house station on the water table and make sure this little valve is turned 10 degrees, there was a good reason to do that 50 years ago. Now that pump house station doesn’t exist anymore but this person is still required to go to that station and look for a valve that isn’t there anymore or else there’s going to be a problem. That’s the difficulty of all this sort of stuff. So yes, I’m immensely disappointed and saddened that this is the situation that we’re in in 2014. Where I think a lot of us find ourselves wondering here is something that we could say that is a joke, or we’re just interested in this piece of information that we want to search for on the internet. But if we do that, would we attract the attention of an agency and 5-10 years from now we get turned down for clearance. Or we get turned down for this or that. And the fact is that we saw a news report on a wacky video that terrorists are putting up to try and recruit. And so we’ve searched YouTube for that video but that put our name on a certain list that got connected to another list, that was related to another piece of information based on somebody else’s theory, that somebody who drinks a lot of Diet Pepsi who has been to these three cities in the past four months, is probably connected between that and another activity. That’s the sort of environment they’re creating and that’s what makes me very sad.
Mike: You’re speaking of course of big data. That’s how big data works essentially. Somebody in the chat room said that the NSA is an American terrorist group. I don’t believe that at all.
Andy: No, that’s overkill.
Mike: I think it’s vastly overkill. I think they’re really good intentions and I’d like to compare the NSA to local police departments. Imagine how much better the police department could prevent crime, crack down on crime and catch suspects if they could walk into anybody’s house without a warrant. If they didn’t have to read Miranda rights to people; if they could sort of push the envelope of torture. If they didn’t have to testify in court; all these safeguards exist not because we expect policemen to be bad and so on. We have a social balance between our desire to solve crimes and to put away the bad guys. And also our freedoms, there’s a balance between those things I think we all understand naturally. Which exists in the Constitution very strongly and clearly. And yet here’s a case where there doesn’t seem to be a counter-balancing force. It’s like oh we can harvest all this information so let’s do it. And who’s there saying, wait a minute, there’s another side to this?
Andy: That’s an excellent and important point. I’ve talked to lots of law enforcement officers about this topic going back 10 years. And they have a point that I absolutely respect; they have a mandate to preserve the public safety. And this has been a consistent thing from different agencies, different levels of law enforcement. They said that we really took this job for a very important reason. We’re here to protect the public’s safety. And we are limited by the laws that the public decides to put upon us. Once there is a law telling us we can’t do anything, we are not interested in circumventing that law because we are good people and this is the job we are going to do. If you don’t tell us we have to get a warrant to attach a GPS tracker to somebody’s car, and we feel as though this is a very bad person and we can stop them from doing these things by putting a GPS tracker on their car, we’re not going to ask if that’s something that we’re entitled to do or not. We’re going to ask is it legal or not. And they feel as though, and again this has been consistent, if we are allowed to do this by the law and we do not do this, and this is a way we can keep people safe, we are doing something wrong by not doing that. Because again, they look to the law to tell them what they can and what they cannot do. If there’s a defect in regulation and restriction, that’s a defect that needs to be corrected. That’s what prevents good members of law enforcement from doing things that we… sorry I need to back track on my use of multiple negatives. They want to do good things, they don’t want to do anything that people don’t approve of. And their queue as to what people do or do not approve of their behavior is what they’re legally allowed to do. If we don’t tell law enforcement no we don’t approve of you doing this, then they’re going to keep on doing things that they think is in our best interest. If that makes sense.
Mike: Absolutely. It does. Kevin Tofel, do you have any comments on this? Lee of course is not using Facebook so he doesn’t care. You probably do so your information is I’m sure in some database somewhere in Washington or Utah or wherever they keep this stuff.
Kevin: I’m sure they’re listening right now. I am going to stop using Facebook and I will no longer drink Diet Pepsi. You know, I can’t disagree with anything Andy just said. I do think these government organizations are trying to do the best they can at their mandate and their job. And it comes down to what’s scary to me is that we still don’t know everything that we don’t know about this if that makes any sense.
Mike: Especially if you’re, what was his name, former secretary of defense; the known unknowns. Rumsfeld. Go ahead Donald Rumsfeld.
Kevin: I hate to use that line but it’s true. How many years has this been going on and we’re still finding out such details like this. The Yahoo thing happened in 2008. It’s scary, I totally agree with the whole balance. Security versus privacy. Until we really know what all of these groups are doing, I don’t know that we can put any blocks in place or legal hurdles. Because it seems like we have to come up with defining every situation. No, you cannot do this specific thing to us to look at our backgrounds and so on and so forth. And the internet is always changing. So to have all these definitions when the internet is changing all the time, it’s very challenging and it’s very scary. I don’t know what kind of world my kids are going to be seeing in 5-10 years. Are they going to be afraid to send an email to their friends and say one word that they shouldn’t say because they may show up on a list? It’s very discouraging and disappointing right now.
Mike: Absolutely. Well in just a sec, we’re going to come back and talk about the death of MacWorld, a print publication about technology. But first I want to tell you about our sponsor, Square Space. I can’t remember if I started using Square Space because I heard Leo do an ad on this show. I think it may have been the case a few years ago. But I’ve been using Square Space for a long time. My whole family uses it. In fact, Chad if you could throw up kevnaudia.com. This is my son’s website. He’s getting married next month in a little less than a month. You know they have a wedding website. It’s so easy to do. He put this together. I think he told me it took him an hour and a half to put together the entire site. He manages it a little bit here and there, adding pictures and changing things here and there. There are multiple pages on this site which is super easy to do with Square Space by the way. Including the ability for them to do their wedding registry which he put together himself very quickly. Look how cute she was when she was a little girl. That’s his wife to be, Naudia. Square Space is the place to do something like this. You can take money, sell things, all this stuff, which of course you do with a wedding registry. The way it works is you start with one of 25 beautiful templates. This is world-class design that they have. Once you have selected your design and the one you like best, you can modify, add pages, take things out, tweak it, change the size and color of the font, and change how everything looks. You can modify it to your heart’s content. And of course if you’re a software developer, you can really modify. And if you’re not, you can go in there very easily with easy to use tools. Anytime you want to swap out one template for another you can do that and all your content stays in one place. Super easy to use. I like to use Square Space just for fun. It’s like a video game for me to a certain extent. Go in there and see what kind of website you can create. Sometimes I see some beautiful website outs there and I want to see what that would look like as a blog or some other kind of website. Really fun to do. And if you need support, it’s available 24/7 via chat or email. Tech support is fantastic. Truth is I’ve only used it once and they gave me a really good answer right away. That was really refreshing that they didn’t just throw me in a knowledge base somewhere. It’s also inexpensive. Square Space starts at just $8/month and that includes a free domain name if you sing up for a year. And of course they’re famously mobile-ready. If you use one of these giant phones we’re talking about or even if you have small phone, you can manage your website from that phone using the Square Space metric app, which is great. Whether it’s a blog or a non-blog website. And of course your audience when they go to your website if they’re using the phone it’s going to look perfect when they look at it on a phone. Because Square Space automatically recreates the page on the fly for mobile devices whether it’s tablet, phone, or whatever. Really great stuff. So start a free two-week trial without a credit card required and start building your website. When you decide to sign up for Square Space, make sure you use the offer code TWIT. And that will give you 10% off the already low price. And that will show your support for This Week in Tech. And we thank Square Space for their support of TWiT. And remember a better web awaits, and it starts with your new Square Space website. Well gentlemen, MacWorld is no longer. At least the print edition. Is this the end of an era? What do you think?
Andy: Definitely. There has been one constant through-line through the Mac community that has remained consistent over the past 30 years. And that has been MacWorld magazine. Because we forget that MacWorld started off with actually getting pictures of getting the first Macs on the cover the day that the new Macs were really introduced with Mr. Jobs on the cover as well during his nice suit and tie phase. There were other magazines that came along, most notably MacUser and MacUser became a force as well. I wrote two columns a month for them for many years. And then those two magazines merged so basically they because the caretakers for two sets of legacies. And as other magazines came and went, other magazines that were around thriving when MacWorld was still brand new, they fell by the waysides and MacWorld was the only magazine that was still in print that managed to maintain its mandate and identity. And a staff of people that have worked together for so many years that they really were like a really good infield of a championship baseball team. So it’s sad to see the magazine, the logo and the site are going to continue. It’s very sad that so many of the staff are going, because you can put that logo on pretty much everything. But these people and the way they worked together under the company leadership of Jason Snell; that was just a unique thing that was like the Blues Brother band. They had a sound that could turn goat pee into gasoline. And now these people are split up. A lot of them have already found new gigs. They’re certainly going to do as good work as they’ve ever done for these new organizations. I-More has been picking up some really great staff over the last few months. So I’m not worried about these people individually because again they’re incredibly talented. There’s people who are not already striving for their services, are foolish. Chris Breen did a very nice article that basically went through and said here’s all the people who have lost their jobs or have left in the last three or four months. And talking very nicely and positively and accurately about all the work they’ve done. But it’s too bad, I guess the bottom line from my stammering here is that there are very free publications that have authority based on their totality. Where there are a lot of Mac sites where they’re nice sites. But it’s really about what one or two people have to say. And the investigative reporting and reviews of that person or what this person has to say. There are very few places left where you can really say that the name of this publication means that if MacWorld has reviewed the new MacPro, I know they’ve done it with a certain amount of seriousness and integrity and thought for creating value for users. They’re not going to let slip somebody who had a really active Twitter feed. And they asked him, what if we send you a MacPro for a month and then write something about it. And then it winds up being 2000 words, 1000 words about how much Windows sucks and how much, oh boy, I can’t get my Android phone to work with it and I don’t have an Android phone because they’re losers. I’m just very sorry to see a resource like that go away.
Mike: Yea, absolutely. The hay day of print technology, computer magazines was in the 90’s and in the 90’s, I edited one of them called Windows Magazine. And it was a crazy time because the internet hadn’t really come up to replace the information. And yet PCs and technology were very new to a lot of people. So people turned to a lot of physical print magazines in huge numbers. We used to publish bigger than 400-page issues. We had an editorial staff; just the editorial staff, not sales or anybody else, was more than 60 people. And PC-Mag was of course the larger publication in that space. They had a staff of 122 people in the late 90’s and they did 500, 600-page issues. And they were twice-monthly. So it’s hard to remember that.
Lee: My entire tech-life in the early to mid-90’s was defined by editions of PC Magazine. That was like always the highlight of the month. Oh, my parents are going to drive me to the mall and I’m can buy the latest PC Magazine and it’s going to be so cool.
Mike: Exactly, and now you can just search for information and get it. So it’s kind of the end of an era. I think the IDG deserves a lot of credit for keeping it around for as long as they did. They recently closed the print version of Computer World. I think that was in the last year. I write for the digital edition. But of course the internet is so compelling, you can post, promote on social networks, you can have live links, you can do all these things that you can’t do in print. So it makes a lot of sense that print goes away and I hope whatever they do with the brand honors the legacy of MacWorld. I think we can all agree that it is the end of an era. Any thoughts on this, Kevin Tofel?
Kevin: It’s just sad to see for all the reasons you guys have mentioned. I grew up the same way. Going to the book store to go get the latest Computer Magazine. I remember when I was still in middle school getting Computer Shopper which was the ginormous thing. You’d look through and you know I bought my Commodore 64 through there for crying out loud way back when. It’s just sad to see; I guess you could say it’s one of those things that I guess you expect to see happen over time. The internet has disrupted everything quite honestly. With the rise of tablets, people buying digital editions of these magazines. That’s putting pressure on all these print publications as such. But you still don’t want to see it for certain brands. And this is just one of those brands; it just kind of tears at your heart.
Lee: Are you guys particularly gulled by the fact that this staff cut took place the day after the entire staff went and killed themselves covering, doing bang-up coverage on this gigantic Apple event that happened? Maybe it’s not unexpected. I’ve worked at enough companies that the bottom line is the bottom line. But man that just stinks.
Andy: I’ll just say that it wouldn’t have been too bad if the Beatles had never been able to get on that rooftop and play together in public one last time. I hope they don’t feel abused but I’m glad they were able to go out with one last emphatic concert that shows here is what this band can do. And here is how badly we’re going to miss them.
Lee: That’s a great way to put it, Andy.
Mike: Although they should have known this was happening. That would have been a better way to do it. They also could have networked at the event, looking for other jobs. Well, if you missed any TWiT shows this week, you blew it! And I think, Chad, do we have a list of the things you missed this week if you missed the TWiT shows?
[Voices]: Previously on TWiT. Triangulation: Doctor Drew is an actual doctor. He doesn’t just play one on TV. You still practice? Yea, I do. In fact I’m doing some practicing right now while we’re on the air. TWiT live specials: Apple Pay is easy. It’s secure. And it’s private. That’s a lot more secure than chicken systems. This is perhaps more important from Apple’s point of view from anywhere else. MacBreak Weekly: Andy is in Cupertino, eyes bulging for the Apple Watch. The resolution on the screen is fantastic. You really have to strain your eyes to see any pixels whatsoever. Giz Whiz: Do you remember seeing your first transistor radio? I remember saying to my friend, Ben. That kite thing, I say you need a bigger key. Marketing Mavericks: Malaysia Airlines which just went through two major air disasters ran a campaign that was the ultimate bucket list. I think this was such an incredible failure. TWiT, all your favorite podcasts from the 80’s, 90’s, and today. The only view live from the Flint Center is our own camera.
Lee: I was wondering who was up on the parking garage. I saw those cameras at the event, I didn’t know who it was. Now I know.
Mike: It was Batman and we sent him there with a camera. That was the week gone by. Coming up this week, Google has a big press event in India. It looks like it’s going to be a big Android One launch. Android One is their phone platform for emerging markets. Also, tomorrow Monday, the games beat event kicks off in San Francisco. They’ll last for a couple of days. And Adobe reports earnings on Tuesday. Tune into Tech News Today and Tech News Tonight for all of our coverage there. And that is This Week in Tech, TWiT. I want to thank Andy Ihnatko from the Chicago Sun Times for coming in today and sharing his brilliant insights and his unique humor. Thank you so much, Andy Ihnatko.
Andy: Thanks, Mike.
Mike: Alright, really appreciate it. And also, Kevin Tofel, senior writer at GigaOm. Thank you for coming on the show. Kevin, what did you think? This was your first time on the show.
Kevin: It’s a bit of a marathon compared to the other shows. But well worth it.
Mike: On Tech News Today, we bring in for a single story that you wrote. We grill you like we’re interrogating you and then we send you packing. This show is much more of a different conversation. But I thank you for coming on to TWiT today.
Kevin: Thanks, Mike.
Mike: And Lee Hutchison, also a first-timer on TWiT, I believe. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your insights. Thank you, guys. It’s always fun talking to y’all. This is a little change of pace, but quite fun. And I hope to have you all on Tech News Today sometime very soon. And again, I want to thank Andy, Kevin, and Lee. And thanks to all of you for showing up today. And thank you to all of you for tuning in, and so I get to say the magic word: another TWiT is in the can! Golf clap!