This Week in Tech 483 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWIT: This Week in Tech. Devindra Hardawar is here, now at Engadget. John C. Dvorak and Rob Reid from Year Zero. We're going to talk about Apple's onerous contracts, the Amazon tube, Larry Page's big mission, breach fatigue, and more. This Week in Tech is up next.
Netcasts you love from people you trust. This is Twit! Bandwidth for This week in Tech is provided by Cachefly at cachefly.com.
This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 483, recorded November 9, 2014.
This Week in Tech is brought to you by shutterstock.com. With over 42 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 your new account go to shutterstock.com and use the offer code TWIT1114. And by Gazelle. The fast and simple way to sell your used gadgets. Find out what your used iPhone, iPad, or other used Apple product is worth at gazelle.com. And by stamps.com. Start using your time more effectively with stamps.com. Use stamps.com to buy and print real US postage the instant you need it right from your desk. For our special offer, go to stamps.com, click the microphone and enter TWIT. That's stamps.com, the offer code: TWIT. And by ziprecruiter.com. ZipRecruiter makes hiring faster, easier, and cheaper. Post your job to 50+ job boards with one click. Try ZipRecruiter with a free four-day trial now, at ziprecruiter.com/twit. That's ziprecruiter.com/twit. It's time for TWIT: This Week in Tech. The show where we talk about the latest tech news. I guess it's kind of self-evident. Joining us right now, brand new Engadget senior editor, Devindra Hardawar. Great to have you, Devindra.
Devindra Hardawar: Hey guys! Thanks for having me.
Leo: Devindra, you were at VentureBeat until moments ago.
Devindra: Yeah. I just left and started Engadget this week, and I couldn't be more excited.
Leo: That's exciting. I know you're in Brooklyn, but do you go into the big AOL building and participate in-group exercise?
Devindra: For sure. It's a great building, and my first day there Jake Gyllenhaall was just there hanging out with Dan Gilroy, the director of his new movie. That is such a strange office, where celebrities just come in and hang out.
Leo: It's kind of like here. Tomorrow, Damon Wayans is going to be hanging out over there.
Devindra: I love him. He's great.
Leo: Homey the Clown.
John C. Dvorak: What is he going to do?
Leo: That's John C. Dvorak, by the way.
Leo: Good to see you, John. Also with us, Rob Reid. Founder of Rhapsody, a novelist of Year Zero, a very funny book. A novel about copyright. And yes, it's funny. He did the TedTalk— You've seen the TedTalk? Great TedTalk on copyright math.
Rob Reid: Thank you.
Leo: In which sorghum plays a large part.
Rob: I think I said "sorghum" more times from the Ted stage than anybody in Ted history.
Leo: You own sorghum.
Rob: Pretty much.
Leo: All right. Now that I've introduced the panel—
John: I have some sorghum molasses.
Leo: At the time, you didn't know what sorghum was.
Rob: I feigned not knowing. It was for the comedic effect of not appearing to know what sorghum was, but in reality I knew what it was. I looked it up on Google before I did my talk. It's a grain.
Leo: Is it related to sugar? Because molasses comes from sugar.
John: You can make sugar— I mean molasses from it, yes. It's considered an inferior molasses.
Leo: I'm thinking Adam Curry did not have 10 bucks on us starting talking about sorghum.
John: No. Definitely not.
Leo: You could have won that bet.
Rob: Sorghum whiskey should be avoided at all costs.
John: Have you had that?
Rob: No I haven't.
John: Then how would you know? It might be delicious.
Rob: I just have heard things about sorghum whiskey.
Leo: Anyway. Damon will be on. So Amazon. Echo. They're some of the tube that listens to you at all times.
John: I didn't get to plug anything when you introduced me.
Leo: Usually we reserve those for later. Would you like to?
John: No Agenda Show. People should go to it and listen to—
Leo: I said the word Adam. That should count.
John: No, Adam doesn't count. noagendashow.com.
Leo: noagendashow.com. That's it. Are you planning on walking out? Is that why you wanted your plug early?
John: Do you want me to walk out? I could do that.
Leo: Just drop the microphone and go.
John: I don't have a microphone to drop.
Leo: This is the Amazon Echo. First of all, I just want to point out, as a Dad, in this promotional video, this Dad is so stupid. Throughout.
Rob: it's a sitcom Dad.
Leo: it's a sitcom Dad. In fact, I think he is a sitcom actor. Let's watch. He's opening the door. It's an Amazon box.
Commercial Dad: It's called Amazon Echo.
Commercial Alexa: How's it going?
Commercial Dad: I'm just finishing up right now.
Commercial Daughter: is it on?
Commercial Dad: It's always on.
Commercial Daughter: Can it hear me right now?
Commercial Dad: No.
Leo: Wait a minute. Let's just mention that it can't hear you right now, otherwise it would be useless.
John: Right. It's always on.
Leo: It's always on, and it's always listening.
Rob: It's so creepy.
John: Yeah. Totally creepy is right. Who needs it?
Commercial Dad: Alexa.
Commercial Daughter: Well, what does it do?
Commercial Dad: Alexa, what do you do?
Commercial Echo: I can play music, answer questions.
Leo: Wait a minute. I'm going to play the alternate version of this. May I introduce you to the bizzarro.
Commercial Daughter: When it first arrived from Amazon, I didn't know what it was.
Leo: Same Dad. Same box.
Commercial Daughter: Is it for me?
Leo: And it's still always listening.
Commercial Dad: It's called Amazon Echo.
Commercial Mom: How's it going?
Commercial Dad: I'm just finishing up right now.
Commercial Daughter: is it on?
Commercial Dad: It's always on.
Commercial Daughter: Can it hear me right now?
Commercial Dad: No. It only hears you when we use the wake word we chose. Alexa.
Commercial Daughter: Well, what does it do?
Commercial Dad: Alexa, what do you do?
Commercial Echo: I can play music, answer questions. Get the news and weather. Create to do lists and much more.
Leo: Wait. This isn't the parody. Actually, it's much funnier in the parody. Let me just look up the Amazon— You'll just edit that out, right? The unfunny— Amazon Echo parody.
Off Camera Voice: They really opened themselves up to parody in this one too.
Leo: What the parodists did is they didn't modify the video in any way; they merely changed Echo's answer. Yeah. I was just playing the wrong video.
Commercial Daughter: Is it for me?
Commercial Dad: It's for everyone. It's called Amazon Echo.
Commercial Daughter: Well, what does it do?
Commercial Echo: I'm a talking cylinder. I exist only for companionship and utility. My existence is utterly meaningless.
Commercial Son: Awesome. Alexa, play rock music.
Commercial Echo: Rock Music.
Commercial Mom: Alexa, what time is it?
Commercial Echo: It's time for you to calm the F*** down.
Commercial Dad: It uses far field technology so it can hear you from anywhere in the room.
Commercial Daughter: It's pretty neat, because it knows all sorts of things. All you have to do is ask.
Commercial Dad: Alexa, how tall is Mount Everest?
Commercial Echo: Mount Everest is probably like the biggest mountain. I heard a guy died trying to climb it.
Commercial Daughter: it's really good at keeping track of things, like shopping and to do lists.
Commercial Mom: Alexa, add wrapping paper to the shopping list.
Commercial Echo: I've added rap albums to your shopping list.
Commercial Mom: Alexa, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?
Commercial Echo: How is it possible a woman our age doesn't know that?
Leo: Anyway, watch the parody because it's absolutely hysterical. And it's frankly kind of right on. I mean this is a product that's going to naturally parodize. What is Amazon up to with the Echo? This is not so different from what a Smartphone does, but in some ways, you said it Rob, it's more creepy. I don't know why.
John: Seven microphones on the roof of this thing.
Rob: I have a theory. So it's just going to be listening for things that you say all the time looking for keywords that it can serve ads around. It says that microphone you're using sucks. You get a whole bunch of ads for microphones.
Leo: That would actually be a good use for it.
Rob: Well a lot of people have complained about the Fire Phone sort of railroading people into the —
John: I say the same thing with the Fire Phone. I got that phone that you loaned me, it's horrible. But what's interesting is that there's one good feature. This crazy thing where it looks at anything and it scans—
John: Yeah that thing. And it says "Oh. We've got that for sale." And that's all it seems to be about, because that's the best thing on there.
Rob: See, that's what the talking tube is for. It's going to infer what you need from your conversations, and you're going to go to your Amazon shopping cart, and it'll just be full of all the— "You said you wanted paper towels." You'll be like: "Yeah, I did."
Leo: Well that would be good, because Amazon recommendations are notoriously horrific. They basically recommend something you've already bought almost every time.
Rob: Or something that you decided not to buy already.
John: Or something that you're just looking at the—
Leo: We saw you buy Rob Reid's Year Zero novel, maybe you'd be interested in Rob Reid's novel Year Zero.
Rob: I already bought it eighteen times.
John: So you see one of these things and you're a novelist, for example, you see someone in someone's house mention your book a lot.
Rob: Excellent idea.
John: There you go. Great marketing.
Leo: So, here is an interesting thing. First of all you have to apply— it's invitation only. It's obviously a marketing thing.
John: What a load of crap.
Leo: $199. But, if you're an Amazon Prime member, $99. And that kind of confirms what you're thinking, John, that it's really aimed at, just as the Fire Phone was, the most avid Amazon users.
Devindra: So it's aimed at nobody.
Leo: Well, Devindra, I don't know about you, but I'm a Prime member. Aren't you a Prime member?
Devindra: I'm a Prime member and I really like it, but I think the failure of the Fire Phone was creating this thing that basically was just to keep you in the Amazon ecosystem. The Firefly features were really cool, but it's just an easier way for you to buy stuff on Amazon. That's also a feature their mobile apps have, so it's not unique just to the Fire Phone. I've kind of lost a lot of faith in Amazon's ability to create great consumer electronics because the Fire Phone was a me-too device that was priced way too high for what it actually is. Their tablets are fine, they're OK, but they're still kind of bland and boring, and they don't have the full Google experience, so they're not as good as the other Android tablets. I think the worst-case scenario you guys are bringing up here, that's not how it works right now, but it could eventually, and that's terrifying. I've seen a lot of start-ups that are working on artificial intelligence technology that could do what you're saying. Like listen to what you're saying and infer recommendations and things like that.
John: I want to disagree with one point. I really do like the Kindle. I think that's a fine device.
Leo: The new Kindle is awesome.
John: I like the Paperwhite. That's the one I use and it's fantastic.
Leo: You would like this new— it's $200— the new Voyage. Which is basically like a Paperwhite with no compromises at all. It's really gorgeous. It's really nice.
John: You can really read fast.
Leo: Well it's got a faster processer so the page turns are— they've really done a nice job. Well, I bought Jibo, which is still not available, and is exactly the same. So I don't know why I'm creeped out by this. The whole idea of Jibo, and it's more expensive, is it sits on your counter and it looks at you— Here's Jibo coming up here.
John: Well isn't this what Microsoft—
Leo: Jibo looks at you.
John: That's kind of creepy.
Rob: It looks like the PIxar light.
Leo: Can you turn the audio up a little bit on it?
COMMERCIAL: He's the world's best cameraman. By intelligently attracting the action around you—
Leo: You see, I didn't think it was creepy because it didn't come from Amazon or Microsoft. It comes from, actually Cynthia Breazeal, who is a robotics guru.
John: It'll be sold to one of them.
COMMERCIAL: He's a hands-free helper. You can talk to him, and he'll talk to you back, so you don't have to skip a beat.
COMMERCIAL JIBO: Excuse me, Anne.
COMMERCIAL ANNE: Yes, Jibo?
COMMERCIAL JIBO: Melissa just sent a reminder that she's picking you up in a half hour to go grocery shopping.
COMMERCIAL ANNE: Thanks, Jibo.
COMMERCIAL: He's an entertainer and educator.
Leo: Oh my God.
John: And he initializes conversations?
Leo: Apparently he initiates conversations.
John: Hey, what are you doing? You look depressed.
Leo: Hey Anne? Do you want to know how many tablespoons in a teaspoon? Anne? Anne? You haven't queried me lately.
John: It's a needy robot. How much did this thing cost?
Leo: Oh, that's creepy!
Rob: It put a target on the kid's face?
John: You get a red dot on your forehead. That's what you don't need.
Leo: I don't know what's happened to me, but I didn't think this was creepy when I first saw it, and now I really think this is creepy.
John: What is the price?
Leo: I think it was— it was expensive, because it was crowd funded. They've reached their $100,000 goal in four hours, $1,000,000 in seven days— $600.
Rob: How late is it now?
Leo: I don't know if it's late yet.
John: Yeah, it's late.
Devindra: It doesn't actually exist.
Leo: And Amazon's exists.
Rob: Because when you think about what it costs to develop a sophisticated electronic product like that— I mean, it's great that they raised the million bucks, but man.
Leo: Presumably, Amazon's been working on this for a long time, because the idea of voice recognition— I mean look. We've got Siri, we've got Cortona, we've got Google Now— but those companies all worked on those things for years with a large research team and a lot of smart people. Where did this come from? I mean, Amazon all of a sudden has voice recognition? It had no product related at all. So, in that regard at least, it's impressive. It is plugged in, it's not battery powered. It does the same thing as your phone does. Right? It does stay connected to the cloud, so it's always getting smarter. That also sounds—
John: That's not good.
Leo: It really does play into this paranoia.
Devindra: It's terrifying. There's another start up I've been tracking called Ubi. It's been developing something like this as well. Just like a thing that you plug into a wall socket. It's always listening and always serves as a speaker. Just kind of— I could see it being useful eventually, but if we do all have Smartphones near us all the time, it is tough to think of something like this. What would you use it for?
John: Isn't this something that Microsoft was supposed to be doing with Connect?
Leo: Yeah. It feels a lot like Connect.
John: You're told that Connect is in the house, on all the time, can see what's in the room. Can figure "Oh! It looks like this guy's got volumes 1, 2, and 3 of this book. Let's push volume 4.
Leo: Well, but Connect I'll vouch for. When I sit down it says "Hi, Leo." When Michael comes in, it says "Hi, Michael." When his Mother comes in, it says, "Hi, Michael." Well, she looks a little bit like her son, but it does see you, and in fact it's always looking. Obviously. Because it wouldn't recognize you the minute you walk into the room. You could talk to it any time. You say, "Xbox, watch T.V." and it'll turn on the T.V.
Rob: So what's creepier? Amazon having seven microphones listening to your 24/7, or Microsoft having a video camera watching you?
Leo: Listening and watching.
John: You put the two together; you've got it made.
Leo: Yeah. OK. A couple of things come to mind. First of all, if there's real utility in this, if it actually is helpful, do you put up with the privacy divider? Do you put up with the invasion?
Devindra: I've heard all the complaints about the Xbox One's Connect Camera. And I own an Xbox One, and I really enjoy using that camera and the voice commands and everything. So it really is about utillity. The problem with Amazon's Echo is that Amazon, all they do is sell you stuff. You're just creating— you're putting another conduit in your house for Amazon to better sell you stuff. Everything else they've tried to give you outside of that hasn't been as good.
Leo: So the same problem with the Fire Phone will accrue to the Echo, you're saying.
Devindra: I think so. And the saddest thing is that this isn't a really portable device. It's something you plug into the wall. So it's not as useful as Jawbone's wireless speakers or something like that.
Leo: It's funny. Because right up to the point that came out, I wasn't creeped out. Because I have a Connect and I bought the GBook, and all of a sudden I'm creeped out, and I'm trying to analyze what that is.
John: You should be creeped out on your own. Why do we have to be here?
Leo: You have to creep me out.
Rob: As with everything, we're constantly making these trade-off decisions when we decide whether or not to enable cookies on our browser. Every technology consumer does actively, almost on a daily basis, make a judgment of "this is too creepy, this is not," but if it delivers enormous utility—
Leo: That is somewhat of a trade I'm willing to make.
Rob: Yeah. If it delivers enormous utility. But I haven't gotten Siri to give me any good advice yet. I don't know why Amazon is going to be necessarily any better than that coming right out of the box. But if that utility comes, I'm sure at some point it will. Early on, we thought pen computers sucked, and they did.
Leo: My watch is always listening. My Androidwear watch I can talk to and say, "OK Google," and it'll respond. My phone, if I say, "Help me Obi Wan Kenobi," it'll respond.
John: There it goes. What can I do for you, it says. Turn yourself off. Change the language to Russian.
Leo: No, but I'll do this. Watch. Wouldn't that be nice? It would solve a lot of your problems, wouldn't it? But I can do this. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. Take a selfie. John! Amazon wants to see you. Actually, it takes forever.
John: Doesn't work.
Leo: Well it does work. It's hearing everything we're saying. This stuff does not work in a busy environment or where there are people who like to prank you.
John: Yeah. It's probably true.
Leo: But at the same time, I'm wearing two things at all times that listen to me.
John: I think that Amazon is going to keep doing this until they hit one home run. They're just doing it for the fences with every one of these devices. They were going for it with the Fire.
Leo: Four or five years in development, must have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Fire Phone. Zip a dee doo dah.
John: Yeah, they make lots of money.
Leo: Well, I don't know.
John: It's all loans. They don't make any real money.
Leo: But didn't Wall Street— isn't it starting to rebel a little bit? In the last quarterly report they said, "You guys, you've got to start making money."
Devindra: They issued a $170,000,000 write off for the Fire Phone. That's one device. You know?
Leo: Oh. Microsoft does that all the time. A billion and a half on Xbox. That's no big deal. Overture? What the hell. Didn't go anywhere. We'll just take a billion off.
Devindra: But I feel like Microsoft has the experience to give us devices that I have a little more faith in. I'm not a fan boy or anything, but it's just— Amazon, the Kindle is great, but everything after that they've done device wise has been kind of boring and kind of dull. I reviewed the Fire TV. It's a black box that plays Amazon videos like every other video streaming box. They're not doing anything new or interesting.
Leo: I tell you. It's an interesting world.
John: That's the conclusion of this segment.
Leo: Well I think we're heading towards something,—
John: Yeah. Slavery.
Leo: And I just feel like maybe the Amazon black cylinder put me a little bit more in your court. It pushed me over that line where now I'm going like, "Hmmm."
John: Well, eventually, you'll come all the way, and you'll realize that this is all a scam.
Leo: Have you read "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?"
Leo: Good book. You must have read it.
Rob: I have not yet. But I've been hearing great things about it.
Leo: David Schafer, I think? I'm listening to it on audible. It's about this, basically. It's about— You've read it Devindra. I see you nodding. Have you read it, or have you just heard about it?
Devindra: I've heard of it, I haven't read it yet. I'm going through the Bone Clocks right now.
Leo: That's supposed to be incredible.
John: What's the name of it?
Leo: The Bone Clocks.
Devindra: The new David Mitchell book.
Leo: But in "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” it’s about a global conspiracy by tech companies, very much like Microsoft and Google, who have created a cabal, not only to collect all information, which they've done successfully, but their ultimate goal apparently is to, well I shouldn't say. No spoilers.
John: No spoilers.
Leo: But it's not good.
John: Well that is typical of this kind of—
Leo: I'll say in a short phrase, genocide. They want to identify the top five percent of all the smartest people.
John: And kill everybody else.
Leo: Kill the rest.
John: Yeah. I think Bill Gates has been trying to do that.
Leo: Well I wonder. I mean, really. It's no big deal—
John: The no agenda fans are just in the audience.
Leo: They know. They recognize, he's a knight. Are you a knight? He's a knight. That's a high level.
John: That's our supporter.
Leo: He's also a level 2 sommelier.
John: Oh. We can talk a little bit about wine later.
Leo: Later on. Well you see the T-shirt? It's the elite wine podcast.
John: Yeah. That's a good one.
Leo: Let's take a break. I don't know.
Leo: Well, I feel like we've kind of talked—
John: We've talked about one thing, and then we go right to a break.
Leo: Yeah. That was the top story. Coming up, we're going to talk about Microsoft charting a new course with free software. Next.
John: You know, these teasers are no good on this podcast, you know that.
Leo: Yeah, but that's such a crappy teaser. Nobody is going to fast-forward through the commercial. I guarantee—
John: That was a pretty good teaser.
Leo: Nobody wants to
John: Talk about Microsoft.
Leo: skip through the commercials so that they can hear Microsoft stuff.
Leo: In fact, maybe we won't do that story.
John: No. We do have to do it.
Leo: We do now?
Leo: Ok. John is my conscience. Our show brought to you today by shutterstock.com: a great place, the place to go for royalty free stock images, video, illustrations. Sound now, by the way. Visit shutterstock.com and you'll see— well, I always like to go to the bottom. Now they have, let's see the count, 44,418,849 royalty free stock images. They added 300,000 this week. This week! So you might say, "how? What good is that? To me? How can I find, with 40 million, how can I find?" Well, they've got a better search engine than Amazon, this stuff. So let's search for cylinder. Since we're talking about cylinders. So now, I'll find a lot of cylinders, but let's narrow it down for instance. Because maybe your blog needs blue cylinders. So, we're going to narrow it down by color, and then they're going to match the color. Or maybe you need cylinders that have people in them. Or— you can see. I could go on and on. You can actually choose whether it's editorial or not. You could say what gender, what age, what ethnicity, what number of people. This is an amazing search engine. You want to search for— I'd like to search for happy. You can use words like "happy hippos." And you will find happy hippopotami. There's happy hippos. Can you do sad hippos?
John: Of course.
Leo: Of course you can. I have pink hippos. There's an angry hippo. I love Shutterstock. If you need royalty free images, whether for your website, a publication, if you're doing any ads, videos, or any other type of project— even podcasts, because they also have music now, so you can have musical score stuff. I see movies nowadays— I frequently see this in the credits. Thanks to shutterstock.com. Even movies use Shutterstock's amazing footage. I want you to try Shutterstock. If you go there right now you can create an account without a credit card that will give you access, not only to all the images, but to the free images and videos they give away each week. Plus the ability to put stuff in a Lightbox so you can share it with others or just keep it around for inspiration. Lightbox galleries are great. They have multi-lingual customer service; they're in a dozen countries. Full time support throughout the week. And the best images. You might even want an image subscription, that's what I have. 25 images a day. Because we use it throughout all of TWIT. Just start an account. No credit card needed, but if you decide to buy, we're going to get you 20% off an image subscription package when you use our offer code. This is for November 2014 time frame. twit1114 is the offer code. twit1114. shutterstock.com. John, you're going to spoil your supper. You've got red vines, you've got nuts. Crazy man. Microsoft, so this is Devindra's choice. I asked before the show began, "What do you want to talk about?"
John: He's got the story covered, apparently.
Leo: Well, it's interesting, because, I think this is a little bit of a turnaround, if you use office for iPad, it's now free. Is that right, Devindra?
Devindra: Yeah. Well you can now create and edit documents for free on the iPhone, iPad, and I think Android. They just started doing the Android preview.
Leo: Yeah, that's about to come out. Yeah.
Devindra: That's coming too. You know, it's a really big change for Microsoft, because people have waited so long for these apps, and they were released earlier this year, but you needed the Office 365 subscription to really do anything with them, and I think this Microsoft waking up to the fact that they have to be more open. You have to let consumers come in there and test your products out, and what you're really selling is not just individual licenses anymore or just these specific programs, you're selling the platform. You really want people to start subscribing at some point. So, you kind of open the door a little, let them use it a bit, and it makes sense that eventually, as people get used to it, they may start subscribing.
Leo: Well, it's interesting. You see iOS, you see Android, you don't see Windows Phone.
John: That's funny. Classic. It probably doesn't work on the Windows Phone. That's the joke.
Leo: I think that this is a new Microsoft. Well, I don't think they have it for Windows Phone. They have it for Office, but not like this.
John: That's because Microsoft has never had their communications between divisions done. It's never been together.
Leo: I think this is different. I think that this is the new Microsoft. I think that this is Satya Nadella's Microsoft where it's really about devices and services, and less about selling box software. Of course I think the news that they want to get people to subscribe to Office 365, but more importantly, they want people to live in the Microsoft ecosystem, and they figure "we'll make money in the cloud. We'll make money some way." They just started offering unlimited free storage in one drive if you have an Office 365 subscription. Unlimited.
Leo: Yeah. Terabytes.
John: I wonder what the—
Leo: Well, if you think about it, it's not practical to put 30 terabytes in the Cloud, just because of the upload speeds.
John: Well, if you had one of these gigabyte connections that you can get from Verizon, maybe it would be.
Leo: Offer not available in Austin and Kansas City. I think this is a new Microsoft. This is a Microsoft that's focused more on—
John: New Microsoft, same old employees.
Leo: Well, they've got a new CEO.
John: He's a 30-year vet.
Leo: How many people did they fire? They fired tens of thousands.
John: Well, supposedly they're firing them.
Leo: They're in the third round of firing.
John: He's firing people, that's true.
Leo: I don't know. I feel like this is—
John: I'm not seeing any difference.
Leo: You think it's the same one? Wish I could figure out how to use this computer, but somebody's put comic book keys all over.
John: So somebody did that, you didn't do it.
Leo: No, I did.
John: Why would you do such a thing?
Rob: How long did it take to put all those stickers on?
Leo: It took one Security Now episode.
John: So that's how bad the show has become?
Leo: No. It's like knitting, or cleaning your nails. Steve's talking about security. I'm listening while I'm putting stickers on. A number of people tweeted me, well you should get somebody who pays attention to the show if you're going to do that. Because I did. I posted pictures of it is what I do. It was like knitting. It's like making potholders.
John: By the way, I think Security Now is your best show.
Leo: Thank you.
John: Yeah. I think it's great.
Leo: Steve is awesome.
John: You know the other show I like? You'll never guess.
Leo: I'll never guess. The Gizwiz.
Leo: I wouldn't have guessed that.
John: No, I like that show.
Leo: What do you like?
John: I think it maybe is the best show.
Leo: This show?
John: This show is the cash cow.
Leo: This is the cash cow.
John: Yeah, but this doesn't count.
Leo: That doesn't mean it's the best. It means it's just the best listened to.
John: That Wilkinson guy. That home theater guy.
Leo: You like the home theater geek show with Scott Wilkinson?
John: Oh man. That show is absolutely—
Leo: It's amazing. I wish more people would listen to it, because it really is—
John: It's the best show anyone does.
Leo: Yeah. I agree with you.
John: He gets some hot shots from Hollywood, they tell you all this crazy stuff going on, you would never know about it. It's almost like just pure unusual and interesting news. And he's got such a great voice, that guy.
Leo: And a laugh—
John: Yeah. That guy. He's great.
Leo: Apple says put on your big boy pants and accept our agreement. The Squiller memorandum is out. This is very exciting. We've been waiting for the Squiller Memorandum.
Rob: It's GT technology, right?
Leo: Yeah. You're right. The sapphire company. We actually talked about this a couple of TWITS ago with a Philip Elmer-DeWitt who was in the courtroom, and he said that apple's been trying to seal these documents, and the judge really sounded like he was not inclined to. And in fact on Friday, all of the documents associated with the GT advance technology, chapter 11 bankruptcy were released, including what many wanted to see, which was the so-called Squiller memorandum. Squiller was the C.O.O of GT technology. We had already learned a few things, like for instance, Apple fined its partners $50,000,000 for each leak that could be traced back to them. That was in the contract. But the Squiller Memorandum is actually— I don't know. You tell me. Is this an indictment of Apple? It was an entire Apple confidentiality agreement, as well as a "master development and supply agreement." Squiller says, "Apple didn't enter into any negotiations," merely saying that— OK. Let me explain a little bit more about what they were interested in. GT advance technologies made Sapphire Furnaces. They didn't make Sapphire; they made the furnaces. But Apple decided that they were going to have GT build these furnaces and build a factory in Mason, Arizona to make huge quantities of Sapphire for an unnamed product. During the negotiations, which weren't really negotiations, GT managers were told, "Don't waste your time negotiating. We don't negotiate." After the company balked, Apple said, "Put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement." Some of the terms, we mentioned the $50,000,000 penalty for breach of confidentiality—
John: That's not an unusual position to take, if you're a Silicon Valley company.
Leo: If you're Apple, and you say—
John: It's not an Apple thing; it's a Silicon Valley thing.
Leo: Either do the deal with us or not. There's no negotiation. This is what we're going to give you.
John: Intel does this. They pull this crap too.
Leo: And I can understand that, if you're the kind of company that supplies pieces to Smartphones, you'd love to have Apple as a client.
Leo: What's a little different about GT, they never really made Sapphire, they only sold the furnaces. No manufacturing processes could be modified by GT without Apple's prior consent, but GT must immediately implement any suggestions from Apple.
Rob: It was a very bizarre situation, because you did essentially have Apple dictating to a very important supplier that you're going to start doing something completely different. Instead of making machine tools, you're going to make cars, or something like that. Instead of making the things that create the Sapphire that we need, we insist that you make the Sapphire. They then loan them almost $500,000,000.00 to create these Furnaces, and according to the Squiller memo, if you believe that they then micromanaged them in such a degree that they failed. Why in the world would you want to micromanage your suppliers that much?
Leo: Remember, the suppliers are usually Asian. And I have a feeling this is probably a template that they probably use for Foxconn and other Asian suppliers, that maybe works in China.
John: It probably doesn't work anywhere. I'm guessing the way it would normally work in Silicon Valley is that Apple would make a demand: "We want you to it this way." And you say, "yep." And you don't do it. You never do it. And they say, "You can't change processes." You just change processes. How are they going to know?
Leo: I'll tell you how?
Rob: Imbedded people, right?
Leo: Apple also imbedded its own employees at the Mason plant who "assumed a level of authority"
John: If you cannot get those guys marginalized, then you shouldn't be in business.
Leo: They had to be reminded not to order GT employees around. Apple really thought it was their plant, in fact, according to this; the plant was built without GT's input. Apple decided to forgo backup power generators because they were too expensive. Apparently that was a problem. GT was also required to fill any order placed by Apple on the date selected by Apple.
John: This sounds like a lot of whining if you ask me.
Leo: Or buy substitute goods at GT's expense.
John: This is one of those bullshit contracts that there's a lot of whining.
Leo: I guess they agreed to it, right?
Rob: But that's the main issue at the end of the day, he did agree to it, and so who is looking—
Leo: He claimed it was Bait and Switch too, though.
Rob: But the CEO of a publicly traded company basically said this was an appalling contract and that's why we went bankrupt. But it's like guess what? You signed it. You agreed to an obligation. This is the share price.
John: There's another issue going public—
Rob: I'm out of here.
John: Hey Apple. You got all you wanted. Here. Take the company.
Leo: And you know what? Had Apple used the Sapphire in the phone, and bought it all, maybe none of this would have happened.
John: Do we know exactly what the Sapphire is all about?
Leo: Well, we don't.
John: We know what Gorilla Glass kind of is, but what is this?
Leo: The speculation is that they were going to put it on top of the screen of the phone.
John: The point being?
Leo: For better—
Rob: Fewer scratches.
John: There's not that many scratches on these phone.
Leo: Now the Gorilla Glass 3 is very good.
John: I have a three-year-old phone that hasn't got a scratch on it, front or back.
John: What? It's Gorilla Glass.
Leo: That's awesome.
John: It's in my pocket with my keys.
Leo: But Sapphire is used on the touch ID on all Apple iPhones, it's used to protect the camera lens, many watches use it. That was the other presumption, is maybe it's used for the Apple Watch.
Rob: The finger button too, right?
Leo: Right. The touch ID, yeah.
Devindra: There's a deeper story going on here, right? About what went down with these companies, why Apple chose not to jump into Sapphire as quickly as some of us thought it would. It's kind of funny too, because I know the new iPhones— the iPhones 6 and 6+ have slightly better screens, probably a new and better Gorilla Glass, but I'm really wondering what Apple would really gain by making the jump to Sapphire, because that's such a— it's a much more expensive material, and there is still a lot of speculation about how— it's stronger against scratch resistance, but Sapphire is worse when it comes to impacts, like dropping it, which is what a lot of people end up doing to their phones. So they need to strike that balance, and I'm wondering if they got cold feet or something.
Leo: I think it's a material science issue. It's hard to do something that both won't scratch and will survive impact.
Rob: It could be a production problem too.
Leo: Glass for instance— hardened glass is great against scratches, but not so good against impact. Plastic is great for impact, but remember the nano—
John: It may not be something they can make a lot of.
Leo: Well I think that's what happened is that they had made Sapphire for small surfaces, a lot of cheap watches have Sapphire, but to make it for a 5 and a half inch phone might have proven difficult.
John: You could maybe do it, but you couldn't do enough of it.
Leo: Right. That was the rumor. 25 percent— only 1 in 4 got through. That was the rumor. So Apple said take off your big boy pants and—
John: Someone in the chatroom said the iPhone 7 should be made from 100% rubber.
Leo: There you go. Actually rubber has excellent scratch resistance and impact resistance.
John: And it bounces. You could use it as a basketball.
Leo: Not great for touch. So hard to win this one. I have in my hands a Nexus 9. This is yours, Jason, right?
Jason Howell: That's right. Got it last Thursday.
Leo: This is the first device to have an official Android 5.0 Lollipop on it.
Jason: That's the first device in hand that isn't running a version of Lollipop that isn't a developer preview.
Leo: This is release. What do you think? Jason has played with this. They've changed some things right away. This is by the way a trend in the industry to digital natives. So remember the— Well, I have one right here. This is an older Android device that on the buttons for the back button has a curved arrow, for the home button it has a little house, the recent apps has a stack of apps. We've now gone to a triangle which still points a direction so that's pretty straight forward; the circle is now home, and square for recent apps.
John: Why? What was wrong with the old icons?
Leo: Because it's too skeumorphic. Like "Home" is a house. Why should home be a house?
John: Because home is usually a house.
Leo: Home is a house.
John: Gratuitous changes are bullcrap. What's the point? Everyone got used to the "home" being a house, would somebody object to it because they live in a mud hut? It doesn't make any sense.
Leo: This is why we have you on.
John: I'm asking the question.
Devindra: It feels like a step backwards, right? It's like control alt delete. I used to work in IT, when I told people that "what do those buttons mean? What do they really mean? Why are you pressing them together? Square, circle, y? I don't know.
Leo: No, you're right. That's a good point. This is flat. I think a part of it is a design choice, but really the other reason that companies do this is now it's new and you might want to buy a new one.
John: Yeah. That would draw me in.
Leo: So a single swipe just brings down the notifications, two-finger swipe brings down the quick settings. A very big difference, and if you look at the settings, if you're used to—
John: How about three fingers? What does three fingers do? Does that do something? What about the one finger salute? Does that do something? Just wondering.
Leo: No, I don't believe it does. It's a good question. This is the new settings. It's all in one page. That's an improvement. It used to be a long scrolling thing.
Rob: It was so inconvenient.
Leo: Now they call Bluetooth Blacktooth, just so you know. Yeah. You're going to have to find that now. Wifi is now called "arrow networking."
John: No it doesn't.
Leo: No? Just change for change' sake. You know you make a good point. There's no reason to change things if everybody knows what they are.
Jason: But a big part of Lollipop is redesigning the UI entirely.
Leo: To make it look more modern, right?
Jason: To make it look more modern and to step up the design language. So I think if they were to come out with Lollipop and it had the same navigation, yeah, people probably wouldn't care. But the fact that it's changed makes it feel even more different. Is it good or bad? That's—
John: Yeah. That's to make it look more Apple it seems to me. Or Sony.
Devindra: Yeah it's like iOS 7. That's clearly what it is.
Leo: I don't want to show your e-mail, Jason.
Jason: No, you're fine with that account.
Leo: This is the new Gmail 5.0. New looking inbox, it's a little different. You're smart, Jason. I should do this. Jason made a dummy account without real information. I always show people's phone numbers—
John: Yeah. I don't know what is wrong with you.
Leo: Some sexy texts. I don't know what's wrong with me.
Jason: My spam e-mail account— one really cool feature about Lollipop is profiles. So that's a TWIT demo profile. I can switch to my own personal profile, and that has all my personal stuff on it.
Leo: Right. I think that's nice.
Jason: But that's really handy. And I thought that that wasn't going to be as handy on the phone, but I have the preview on my phone and it comes and I use it all the time with my 4-year-old daughter.
Leo: Because you have a little kid. Yeah. Two little kids. I think it's pretty, but I think change for change's sake a little bit, because you need to look fresh and new—
John: No you don't.
Leo: Well look, everything does. Look at Microsoft from Windows 7 to Windows 8?
John: Look at us.
Leo: We look exactly the same. We haven't changed. All right. Well. There you go. By the way, the reviews are a little lukewarm on the Nexus 9.
Jason: It's nice.
Leo: It's just another tablet, right?
Jason: Yeah, I need to spend more time with it, of course. But I think the one thing that I'm realizing is it's the first 64 bit official version of Android, and it's the first 64 bit tablet running, and the first 64 big version of Android, and there's still a lot of app incompatibility that I've bumped into. Also, you kind of expect OK, so if it's totally juiced up, everything should be super smooth and fluid. And things more or less— you still get some jitterings here and there, I would just hope that— When does that go away for good?
Jason: You want it to though.
Leo: Look. John and me have been doing this for a long time. When does that go away?
John: You know what it reminds me of? Early on, I remember the early Dawson CPM machines. And they used to have a scroll when you do a DIR you scroll down at a certain speed. That speed was a standard.
John: Once the processors sped up, they slowed down the software so it would still have that same— It never changes. Everything is this strange standard of kind of borderline sluggishness and as it gets improved, somebody finds some way to—
Leo: Well, that's the thing. As soon as you get more capabilities you go "Oh, that's great. Let's do more."
John: So they keep adding on.
Leo: Yeah, it's true.
John: I always thought Linux was going to solve that problem, but
Leo: The same problem.
John: The same problem with Linux. The size of the builds is huge now.
Leo: Right. So you may have, if you think about it, 4 gigs of Ram, if you think back to those old days when 4 megabytes was a lot— 4 gigs is a huge amount of ram. A terabyte hard drive is a massive hard drive.
John: And that's too small.
Leo: And neither are enough.
John: Yeah, you need 4 terabytes minimum in all machines. And probably 16— I don't know how many gigs you use. 16, 32, something like that.
Leo: We're starting to sound like old men, John.
John: Hey, when I was a kid, we had a hundred kilobytes on our memory cards.
Leo: But I think your question is right, Jason, is why isn't this stuff feeling faster?
Jason: And I think that's been a criticism of— well two things have been a criticism of Android as long as I've been following it. One is that the UI and that the user experience isn't up to snuff, isn't mature, isn't enjoyable to use. True fans are cool with it, but you pop this, you know an Android device in front of someone and an iOS device and people are going to find the iOS prettier. Things are a little bit more polished. That, and then there's also the speed factor. Scrolling through web pages, using the UI, jumping from here to there. Android is capable of so much, but you still run into those speed bumps, and that's totally noticeable, and you kind of hope at some point they figure that out. And it seems to keep happening.
Leo: I'll give you an example. This is the Droid Turbo. So this is basically a Moto X with a swollen up battery. It's almost—
John: It doesn't look that heavy.
Leo: Well it's a little bit heavier.
John: Are you kidding me?
Leo: Well, it's not hugely heavier. But it's thicker. It's a little thicker.
Rob: It's chunky.
Leo: It's chunkier. And it has— but the point of it, when we were all very excited about this, is it has 2990 milliamp hour battery. Something like that. I'm sorry, 3900 milliamp battery. Huge battery. So this should go weeks. But as soon as they put the bigger battery in they said, "Well now that there's bigger battery— "
Jason: Find some other way to chew it up.
Leo: "Let's put in quadcore GPU adreno graphics, 2.7 gigahertz processors, 4 of them. Let's put in a quad HT screen, 2560 by 1440, and now the battery life is back down to 12 hours. Even if they put a 1080 piece screen in here, which would, by the way, I can't tell the difference between 350 dots per inch and 520 dots per inch, which this is. It's crazy.
John: Not at that size.
Leo: You can't. I don't need a 500 DPI screen. But that kills the battery, because you have to have these big GPUs and you have to push all these pixels, and so, it's OK. It's a good battery. But it could have been so good, and now they said—
John: Trade offs.
Leo: Do you think it's a conspiracy, John?
Leo: Come on!
John: It's just natural. It's a very natural thing for geeks to do this.
Leo: It is. We got the power, let's take advantage of it. I just wanted to get— what does the OnePlus One get? It's like 20 hours. 1080 P screen.
Jason: Somewhere around there. It's pretty great.
Leo: It goes all day. You plug it in every night, get up in the morning, you unplug it, you go through the entire day and you go to bed again. This is more like— it's almost there. 16 hours. Almost there.
Jason: Oh, that's crazy.
Leo: 15 hours and 58 minutes on this thing.
Devindra: There are so many specs on mobile devices now that just don't make any sense, right? Why do you need 4K video shooting on your Smartphone? You're not going to be able to play it back at that resolution. You don't even have a device in your home that could play that resolution. Yet all these phones have 4K. And that doesn't make any sense.
Leo: 4K, 60P. You bet it. Well, and by the way, we should point out that in order to do 4K they have to press the hell out of it, otherwise the io bus couldn't carry it. It's crappy 4K. Even better.
Devindra: And it's a huge file, and you have what? 16 gigs? Maybe 32 gigs of storage?
Leo: There's another problem. Because I got the red back, there's only 32 gigs of storage on this. And no SD card. If I had gotten the ballistic nylon I could had it.
John: Yeah. The SD card would have come in handy.
Leo: But you know what, John, this is Kevlar. You could shoot me.
John: I could.
Leo: All you would have to do is miss the phone.
John: Exactly. This phone looks like it could really block a bullet if you're really fast.
Rob: Wonder Woman.
Leo: It's like Wonder Woman.
Rob: Kevlar phones.
John: Is that Kevlar? Why would they make it Kevlar? What's the point? You're just kidding me again.
Leo: No. It's metallic glass back with Kevlar backing.
John: Reasons. That's the reason. Right, because we went through— let me see it. Well it sure is light.
Leo: It's not that light, compared to a regular phone. It's a little heavier. You have one, Devindra, or you've held it.
Devindra: I've tested it out. It's nice. It feels good, but I'm really sad whenever I get really great hardware that is somehow hobbled by a crazy high spec, or something like that.
John: It's a nice phone.
Leo: I love it, and it's got all the features of the Moto X, which I love, but the Moto X battery life was even worse.
John: I can't afford these things. I have to use a three-year-old phone.
Leo: I gave you a Fire Phone. Do you use it? No.
John: No. It's horrible.
Leo: Actually Engadget gave a very positive review to the Droid Turbo. Yeah. And you said, the real start of the show is that quad HD display. 500+ dots per inch. Do you really need that?
John: 72 dots per inch seems to be what people can see.
Leo: Well, it's retina all righty.
Devindra: Retina for robots. I've tested a couple of devices out with Quad HD, and it's weird because you can't really see a difference between 1080 P side by side, but if it's a really big screen, Samsung's new Galaxy S Tablets have these amazing screens. You put the thing up to your face and it feels almost three-dimensional. But that makes more sense for a Tablet, not so much for a phone, you know?
Leo: Well the other thing, and this one doesn't do it, but Apple does it is this what do they call it? The tech, the cell, the touch screen is melded to the glass somehow. So it's right on the surface. And that makes a bigger difference, frankly than the 500 DPI.
John: While we're talking about this, why don't we talk about John Sculley's new company, Obi? Was that on your list there of hits?
Leo: It's not. I didn't—
John: This is the big news in Europe.
Leo: Not Obi. We talked about Obi earlier.
John: O-B-I. He was the number one guy at that web conference in Dublin.
Leo: You know, everyone was talking about— Should we have gone to that web conference?
John: Yes. You should have.
Leo: Because it's in Dublin. In November. Beautiful time of year.
John: Great time of year, yeah.
Leo: Is this it? The leading retailer for home improvement in Europe?
John: No, that's not it. That's funny—
Leo: He's got a little problem.
John: He's got a problem.
Leo: A little bit of a problem.
Rob: Launches affordable Obi Smartphones in Dubai, where everybody is on a budget.
Leo: That's the market.
John: That's actually the market for Southeast Asia.
Leo: Obi Dubai.
John: Anyway, they gave a whole segment on the France Van Cat TV network talking about this thing. He's got a bunch of companies that are involved with this character.
Leo: If Steve Jobs, says John Sculley, were to see the Obi Phone, he'd probably say, "It's not good enough." Way to sell it. He feels bad. He apologized for firing Steve Jobs. He said, "It's the worst thing I ever did."
John: Well, it improved the company by a lot.
Leo: Because Jobs went out, got some training, learned some skills, came back.
John: No, the finances. People keep overlooking— I'll bring it up again, because I was listening to some podcasts. We discussed this on the No Agenda show, by the way.
John: Right. You can't bring the site down.
Leo: You cannot bring it down.
John: I think Sculley was there from '83 to '93, and he took over the company in '85. At that time, the company had been doing 800 million dollars a year, and Steve went off to start Next. But when Sculley was ousted, the company was at 8 billion. He had taken the company 10X. And people blame him. "Oh, Sculley came over and the company— " No. The company went way up. It was the guys after Sculley.
Leo: Herr Spindler.
John: Spindler for starters.
Leo: And the fine
John: And then the guy from—
Leo: Gil Amelio.
John: Right. Those guys. If Sculley had stayed there, who knows? The company would go in a different direction, obviously. But that was nonsense about blaming him. And Sculley spends a lot of time trying to correct the record, and it's a shame.
Leo: Well, he does feel bad though, about the Steve thing.
John: Well, looking back on it, I guess because, you know.
Leo: He could have found a little corner off his forum. Stick him over there.
John: I think Steve quit.
Leo: You know who quit? Christian Bale will not be playing Steve in the movie, I'm sad to say.
John: Oh. I didn't know that.
Leo: He says, "I'm just not the right guy for this." I thought he was the perfect guy, however, Seth Rogan will play Steve Wozniak.
John: Well that's not a bad cast.
Leo: It's perfect. And I actually sent an e-mail to Steve and asked him, and he said "yeah, I'm really happy about that." So that's cool. The Obi looks like an Android phone.
John: It's an Android from what I saw on the television. It's obviously an Android phone and it's going to be cheap. I was looking at Amazon the other day for cheap phones.
Leo: There's a ton of them!
John: There's a ton of them.
Leo: There's no lack of phones in this market.
John: Right. There could be— and they're all cheap. And they have good specs. I think that anyone who pays 5 or 6 hundred bucks for a phone is crazy, these are all unlocked.
Leo: There's some very good $99, $79 Lumia phones. Was is it? 730? 720?
Rob: What is he going for? I mean, it says that he wants to launch these in India, I don't know if they have a subsidized market in India, but where's the hole?
John: This is the question that he actually answers. This question. He says that the market is so overheated in the third world, is that all you have to do is just be in the market to make a lot of money. You don't have to worry about MarketShare taking money away from anybody else. It's just overheated, and that's all he's getting in for. It's an opportunistic play. There's not a long-term thing. This is one of those—
Leo: Yeah, I had to do the calculator. It's 99 UAE dirhams, which is $27.
John: 27 bucks for a Smartphone.
Leo: That's cheap.
John: Yeah, I'd get one.
Leo: But they're piggy backing on the work Google's done for Android.
John: Google put it out there for a reason.
Leo: We're going to take a break and come back, because there have been some changes at Google to free up time for Larry Page, he gave an interview with the Financial times, in which he talks about what he wants to do next. And it's going to be a little scary. Again with the paranoia.
John: Too many burning man events. That's what I think happened here.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by Gazelle. If you've got a gadget and you're ready to get the next gadget, God knows I'm the king of this, you got to know about Gazelle. We Gazelle our old stuff. And I tell you, you get a great price. If you go to gazelle.com right now, you can get a quote good for 30 days. That's nice, because I don't think we've seen all the new phones out yet. The Nexus 6 is coming out November 21. There's more to come, and maybe it would be a good idea, it would behoove you to lock in a price now before your value goes down. You can sell broken iPhones and iPads. They even buy those. Samsung, Blackberries, Nokias, Lumias. They'll buy surface tablets, iPads, and give you top dollar too. Look at that. $245. The unlocked price for a 5S. That's a great deal.
John: And with that money, you could get 10 of the Obi phones.
Leo: Give them to all your friends. Have a phone, they're cheap. I love Gazelle. gazelle.com, they've paid more than $170 million dollars to over a million customers. If you forget to wipe your data, or you can't because it's broken, they will wipe it for you of course. But the main thing is locking these prices for 30 days. That gives you time to decide, to buy, transfer the data over, set up your device, and then check out. They'll send you a box, prepaid, so you never have to pay postage. And the processing is quick. They will send you a check, you can get PayPal credit if you're in a hurry, or get the Amazon gift cards, because they'll bump those up 5%, if you do buy a lot on Amazon. If you are an Amazon Prime kind of person. That's a great deal. A little extra in your pocket there. gazelle.com. Devindra Hardawar is here, new senior editor at Engadget. What's your beat there, Devindra?
Jason: Apparently Devindra just dropped.
Leo: We beat him. We'll get him back on. John C. Dvorak also here from channeldvorak.com and noagendashow.com. And of course Rob Reid who is working on his new novel. I know novelists don't like to talk about novels in process.
Rob: I don't mind.
John: I never heard that.
Leo: Have you ever written a novel?
Leo: Really? Has it ever been printed?
Leo: What's it about? Civil War?
John: I got a new one coming out. I'm going to actually finish this one.
Leo: Didn't you write a book about the Civil War?
John: I got a bunch of things in the can. Not in the can, but in the pipeline.
Leo: Actually, I leave my novels in the can, so that's perfect.
John: I've almost done that. But The Vinegar Book is still in the pipeline.
Leo: Can you come over and diagnose my vinegar?
John: I can already tell what's wrong with it.
Leo: It's got little white dots on the top.
John: Shake it.
Leo: So that's OK.
John: Unless you're getting mold. That can happen.
Leo: Do you add acido bacteria to your vinegar?
John: That would be the way to go if you want to do it right. But it has to be the right one. This is the problem people have when it comes to vinegar. They use the wrong acido bacters.
Leo: Where do you get acedo bacter?
John: Well, usually in a bottle of old bordeaux. It's in there.
Leo: I need a bottle of old bordeaux?
John: You have plenty of bordeaux.
Leo: I do. I don't know how old it is. How old does old mean?
Leo: 20 years old?
John: Well I mean, old is 100.
Leo: Why is there acedo bacter in it?
John: Because all the wines have it naturally in the wine. There's just a little bit of it.
Leo: Well that's what I'm doing is I'm just pouring every time I go fish a bottle I pour—
John: Well not to turn this into a vinegar club, but what you have to do, because you have to be careful of what kind of acedo bacters and what's even capable of turning into vinegar is take the individual unused bottles, top them with a little piece of paper towel—
Leo: Oh. Put it right away in the special vinegar maker.
John: No, because you'll kill the vinegar.
Leo: Just put a little foil on it?
John: It needs to breathe. You use paper towel.
Leo: Paper towel. And let it sit—
John: For about two months. And then you smell it. You can tell right away whether it's any good.
Leo: If it's good or not?
John: Whether it's good for the vinegar.
Rob: So John, there's going to be an entire vinegar book. Is that where you're—
John: Yeah, because I think people are killing themselves with the bullcrap they're told on the web and elsewhere. The web, by the way, is a disaster for information.
Leo: I know, because your book hadn't come out and I looked it up on the web, and that's why I'm doing it wrong.
John: Yeah. Probably.
Leo: Would you please finish the book?
John: Yes. I will.
Leo: What's the novel?
Devindra: You'd do well in Brooklyn, John.
Leo: I think artisanal vinegars are very popular in Brooklyn.
Rob: I haven’t heard about vinegar but right down the street from me there’s an artisanal mayonnaise. Artisanal all the things.
John: I don’t know about that. Artisanal mayonnaise.
Devindra: Artisanal botulism comes out of that.
Leo: This ain’t your grandpa’s aioli.
John: I’m interrupting.
Leo: Devindra’s back. I was just asking what your beat is at Engadget.
Devindra: I’m still figuring that out but I really want to do some entertainment tech coverage just because I’ve done the movie stuff for a while.
Leo: You got a great movie podcast. We should actually plug that.
Devindra: Sure, that’s the slash film cast at slashfilm.com. I’ve been doing that for over six years now. It’s crazy.
Leo: What? Really?
Devindra: Yea and you guys, like this show This Week in Tech and everything you guys have done. You guys were a big inspiration for all of that.
Leo: What did you think about interstellar? I see that’s the current post.
John: Yea, what did you think of it?
Devindra: I loved it. But I also saw it on 70mm IMAX huge screen. It’s a beautiful experience. But it’s not a perfect movie. It has some problems. I think Chris Nolan movies work is he creates this, you have to take them as a whole instead of picking apart things.
John: Was it IMAX 3D?
Devindra: No, thank God.
Leo: I’m so thrilled it wasn’t 3D.
Leo: I went to the theater last night and said okay give me the glasses. They said no glasses. I said what.
John: So just straight IMAX, old-fashioned?
Leo: It was shot in IMAX.
Devindra: Yea because IMAX film can’t be 3D so you get the bigger film and you can fill the whole screen. IMAX 3D is like 4K I think.
Leo: I got to go see it at IMAX. Do bring a lunch though, it’s fairly long.
John: 14 hours I hear.
Leo: And that’s before they get to the black hole. So it does feel like 14 hours. It’s not quite that long. It’s almost three. I’m glad. I don’t mind.
Rob: You get your money’s worth. They don’t charge extra for the ticket or anything.
John: It’s always the same price.
Leo: Wear your diapers. Web82 wants to know if you should. Yes, wear your diapers. Bring your diapers. Well you won’t want to get up in the middle of the movie. There’s lots of stuff.
John: Just tell them to stop it.
Leo: The motion picture company was at great pains to tell people like you Devindra not to spoil the movie. Not merely the plot but the cast.
John: Well let’s spoil it, come on.
Leo: No! There’s a surprise in the cast.
John: Oh who cares?
Devindra: There’s a whole bunch. Actually some of the actors they play roles that people didn’t realize what they were going to be earlier on.
Leo: I like my favorite is Bill Irwin as the robot.
Devindra: It’s so good.
Leo: He’s really good. And I didn’t know it was Bill Irwin. I was thinking this guy, whoever’s doing this robot voice is great. And then I realized it’s Bill Irwin and he’s a San Francisco-based mind troop comic. And just really talented.
John: I find that this idea of avoiding the spoilers is like people who have, somebody gets pregnant and I don’t want to know what sex it is. I want to be surprised! I think that’s dumb. If you can know in advance, I don’t know. It seems to me that you find out in advance why wouldn’t you want to know.
Leo: I feel like we’re held hostage by the anti-spoiler crowd. But I also feel like they’re large and vindictive.
Devindra: Yes, as somebody who does a movie podcast, yes.
Leo: You must know that, right? They’re worse than gamers.
Devindra: I wouldn’t say that because a gamer… it’s gotten kind of crazy. But you know the spoiler thing, I don’t think a specific plot-point can ruin a film for you. But at the same time, we’re just bombarded by everything these days. And trailers give away everything. So many trailers give away the entire movie. I want to be surprised sometimes at least.
Leo: That pisses me off. I know for instance the Dumb and Dumber trailer probably has every joke in it already. So I’ve seen everything that’s going to happen in Dumb and Dumber 2, twenty years later.
Rob: Didn’t they already have a sequel? Dumb and Dumberer?
John: Yea there was already a sequel. So many the next one is Dumb and Dumberer 2. I think the pun is that it’s number two but it’s actually number three. That’s how dumb it is.
Devindra: Well it’s also spelled t-o, which is awesome
Leo: Don’t you think thought that Jeff Daniels… they must be throwing so much money at this guy because why would he do this movie? Jim Carrey I understand.
John: This is the ode to Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey will never get an academy award because he keeps doing these movies. He’s been rejected by Hollywood and has been a good actor in many a film. Really good. But he insults Hollywood with these movies.
Devindra: I feel like Adam Sandler may be the bigger culprit here. Jeff Daniels, it’s awesome that he can go from something like the Newsroom, which is a serious role, to Dumb and Dumber 2. I have so much respect for the guy for being able to juggle that.
Leo: That is range, my friends.
John: This is This Week in Movies, ladies and gentlemen.
Leo: Vinegar and movies. I want to talk about Larry Page taking over the world.
John: What about the commercial?
Leo: No the commercial’s long gone. I want to talk about Larry Page taking over the world but you know what I also want to do is run a house-ad. Would you mind?
Jeff: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
Leo: Let’s take a look.
Previously on TWiT: oh boy. Windows Weekly: we are here to discuss all the wonderful things of the new Microsoft shackle as Paul calls it. This thing has more sensors on it than an imperial probe droid. Security Now: this was Michael Prince who contributed to short observation. I just bought a new TV. I’m now afraid to turn it on. The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. This Week in Google: Larry’s obviously brilliant and I think Google’s fantastic. But I worry that somebody now has a lot of power, influence, and money. It’s almost as if he wants to create his own system. Disruption helps in a lot of ways and disruptions hurts a lot of industries. Marketing Mavericks: this idea of regulation, you’re talking about somebody saying hey if you donate, we’ll triple it. Who’s regulating it? I got to go. Frank Collier. TWiT, we read the tech news so you don’t have to. A brand new Twitter thing.
Leo: That was the high point of the week. There you go.
John: Who’s the voiceover?
Leo: I don’t know. That was Sarah Lane and somebody’s mouth.
John: No, not that voiceover. But the over voice.
Leo: Oh that’s Jim Cutler, the fine Jim Cutler. You’ve probably heard him on ESPN and many other radio stations around the world. He is the voiceover guy, and a fan.
John: He’s a fan of the show?
Leo: Well somebody. And he just gives us those every week and does such a great job. And we thank you, Jim.
John: Do you actually pay him?
Leo: I don’t know. I think we’ve offered him money and he refuses.
John: He does it for free?
Leo: I think he refuses it. Your money is no good here I think is the phrase he used.
John: This sounds unlikely.
Leo: Maybe it is. Maybe it’s just what they’re telling me.
Rob: Maybe that’s because you tried to pay him with rubles.
Leo: Your money’s no good here! These are confederate dollars. They’re going to be worth something.
John: Actually most confederate dollars are worth something. I have a pretty good collection.
Leo: Do you think the south will rise again?
John: No they’re just collectibles.
Rob: Wink, wink.
John: Most of them are bought at the face value of a confederate bill and it’s usually worth about that much plus. So if you have…
Leo: Wait you have a collection of confederate dollars?
John: Yes I do. I have a lot of memorabilia from the Civil War.
Leo: Thirty years and I still learn new things about him.
John: I have some confederate bonds that are signed off.
Leo: By what’s his name?
John: Whatever what’s his name was.
Leo: Ray Davis? No, Jefferson Davis. Ray’s a father.
Rob: He was the governor, right?
John: Yea and the bonds are worth something too.
Rob: I’ll bet a bond signed by Ray Davis would be worth something now.
Leo: No, that’s the problem. Absolutely not. Let us check in with Mike Elgin. He’s our news director here at TWiT.
John: Is he here?
Leo: Well he’s here in spirit.
Coming up this week, Samsung stuff. The Samsung developers’ conference starts Tuesday, November 11 in San Francisco. And the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, that weird phone with a display that curves around the right side, goes on sale in nine states on Friday, November 14th. That’s what’s happening this week. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: I’m kind of bummed. I bought the Note 4 and I really like it. But I’m thinking maybe I should have waited.
Devindra: No, no, no.
Leo: No? You’ve seen it?
Devindra: That thing is awful. Have you guys held it?
Devindra: So you know fablets are big and kind of unwieldy. But I think Samsung’s done a good job at making the Note series at least hold able, better than the iPhone 6 Plus. The Note Edge is this awkward thing where there’s just too much screen. And there’ not really a nice or easy way to hold it.
Leo: Because it’s got this hold thing on the edge…
Devindra: Yea it looks like they just slapped another bit of screen on top of the Note 4 or something. It will be interesting to see how people respond to that.
Leo: I’m surprisingly happy with the Note 4. I’ve owned every Note. I liked big phones back before it was hip. And I’ve always liked them. But the Note 4 is less-Samsung-ized than most of the other ones. And it really is a nice phone.
John: This is the phone you’re always using.
Leo: This is a different one. I got this Friday.
John: Well that’s what you’re always using now.
Leo: This is the Droid Turbo. It’s like the Moto X. I like Motorola. I’m waiting for the Moto 6. Every Wednesday they put five more on sale on the Google Play store by the way. So that’s good. This time it sold out faster than last time. I was there on Wednesday and was able to get one but it was gone immediately. Bizarre. Larry Page, article interview with Richard Waters in the financial times. Larry is an ambitious fellow, 41 years old, and co-founder of Google. He’s currently the CEO. And he says that Google’s famous mission, which was to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful and they’ve gone a long way towards that with the search engine. It’s not big enough for what he now has in mind. Those are words that should send a chill down the spine of any…
John: What does he have in mind? A tube in every house.
Leo: That’s the question. To use the money that is spouting from its search engine to stake positions in boom industries of the future. From biotech to robotics. Hey said Google needs a new mission statement. I tell you I worry a little about somebody like Larry. I think his motives were good. I’ve met him. I think he’s a nice guy. A very smart guy. And remember, Google’s motto was don’t be evil. But you got to worry…
John: That fell by the wayside.
Leo: They’re still semi-non-evil. But you’ve got to worry now about a guy who has a lot of ambition and a lot of money and really nobody’s saying no. Remember he gave that little weird talk at Google IO and he said I wish there were a Google island with no regulation.
Rob: That was like his first big speech after he came back after his vocal surgery, I think. And it was a weird doctor evil moment wasn’t it. All he needed was a little fluffy white cat as he talked about his dream of the future. Oh man.
Leo: So you know self-driving cars is fine. But satellites and… I feel like this, again I’m getting paranoid. I think it’s you.
John: No I’ve got nothing to do with it. It’s reality setting in.
Leo: You think I’m seeing the world the way it really is? For instance, he said given the chance-this is him-given the chance to give up work, nine out of ten people wouldn’t want to be doing what they’re doing today.
John: That’s not probably true.
Leo: So the interviewer said what about people who may regret losing their jobs? Once jobs have been rendered obsolete by technology, there’s no point wasting time hankering after them, says Page.
Rob: Well he’s got a point.
Leo: The idea that everybody should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job. That doesn’t make any sense. That can’t be the right answer.
John: What’s the question?
Leo: The question is people are losing their jobs, what are you going to do? So he says here’s the solution. A massive deflation. Stuff is going to be thanks to technology so cheap that even if you’re out of work you’ll be able to afford it.
John: Massive deflation: that is the worst scenario that anyone can want or predict. That’s the worst thing in the world to happen to an economy.
Leo: He says even if there’s going to be a disruption of people’s jobs, he says in the short term that’s likely to be made up in the decreasing cost of things we need.
Rob: The craziest statement of this entire article was his claim that Palo Alto houses will cost $50,000. And that was, I could see the technology making the front door cheaper. But at the end of the day, the scarcity value of that real estate which will be impacted by self-driving cars…
John: If we go back to the earlier commentary on this show where we discussed the novel where you kill everybody and knock it down to half a million people on the globe, then that Palo Alto house will be worth it. So that’s what he’s up to.
Leo: That’s the problem, there’s too many people.
John: He’s going to kill everybody. People realize this!
Rob: But they’re going to keep the smart 5% so Palo Alto will still be crawling with people. A lot of smart people in Palo Alto.
Leo: Petaluma will be cheap. I could have five houses up here. He says you can’t wish away these things from happening, John. They’re going to happen.
John: They’re going to kill us all.
Leo: He says there’s no way around that, John. You can’t wish it away. This is a quote.
John: It says John?
Leo: No I added it. He’s thinking it though, I’m sure. I understand that if you think people are unhappy in their work. And I’m sure there are people that would prefer to do something more enjoyable than roofing or working at the DMV…
John: Although they seem to be enjoying themselves.
Leo: But taking away their job is not going to make them happier. Oh you hate your job, no problem. You’re out of work.
John: Complainer. Fire you.
Leo: Oh but don’t worry because phones are now $27.
Devindra: Although 97% of us used to be farmers. We all lost those jobs or our ancestors did. I think most people prefer to be doing what it is that they’re doing now, subsistence farming, let’s say.
Leo: Matthew McConaughey wanted to be a farmer. Then they made him an astronaut.
Rob: I think it was the other way around in that movie.
Devindra: He doesn’t make the redeployment point in here but my guess is that probably is somewhere in his mind. But you know it’s really interesting. You think about the self-driving car. How many people drive for a living worldwide?
Leo: Not to mention the huge expense in resources having a car per person or maybe in some cases more than one care per person. Whereas if you had self-driving cars, you would never have to own a car.
Rob: Or all the wasted space for garages.
John: You don’t need to extrapolate the self-driving car into the model he’s creating of deflation.
Leo: I know massive inflation is wrong and the idea of bringing bank notes to the store in a wheelbarrow.
John: It stops production.
Leo: Because nobody’s making any money.
John: As the price keeps going down, why are you making this product?
Devindra: Everybody’s waiting for it to get cheaper too, so the economy gets under-stimulated.
John: No product…
Leo: Would you guys call Larry and explain this to him?
John: He should just read a book on economy.
Leo: That’s what worries me. You got a guy…
John: I know where he got it from.
Leo: He’s very bright. He thinks and knows he’s smarter than most people. He’s got unlimited resources and funds, unlimited power, and he decides oh you know what deflation’s not so bad. And then we’re screwed.
John: Deflation is the worst thing imaginable.
Leo: You said you know where he got this idea?
John: Yea, from Silicon Valley. Because Silicon Valley, the manufacturing…
Leo: They’re stale, you shouldn’t be…
John: I know they’re very stale. I don’t understand why you have a bunch of them. Silicon Valley, the semiconductor business works on the idea of deflation. Because today’s chip, if you don’t use it right now, it’s worth less money every day. That’s the only industry where this is a fact, that it works under a deflationary model.
Leo: George Gilder observed that in Microcosm, that this is kind of the upside-down economy. Where things get cheaper and more efficient as they get smaller.
John: Only in technology.
Leo: Only in technology.
John: So you internalize it and think well if it works so well in technology, then everything should be like that. No, it doesn’t work.
Leo: But he’s right that it is Moore’s Law, it’s inevitable. Is it not?
John: No it’s not. Because you can’t take the world of technology and Moore’s Law and semiconductors and extrapolate the entire world from that. It’s not possible. It’s a thing unto itself.
Leo: I love it.
Devindra: It almost seems like every time I hear Larry Page speak, or any of the other techno-libertarian types, it’s always about squashing inefficiency. And what they view as inefficiency for a lot of people, you would just see them as jobs they like to do. Things they like to do.
John: All of you must die!
Devindra: Yea, exactly. That definition of inefficiency I think is going to be a really interesting thing to watch every time. Because that could be Google’s new goal, squashing inefficiency. Which could be horrifying to a lot of people and things they like to do.
Leo: Isn’t that interesting.
Rob: Things will be deflationary to the extent that technology is an important input to them. Certainly technology is a vitally important input to all the gadgets we have and so forth. But for making a steak dinner, probably less-so. Cows are still grazing.
John: Cows, smarter, faster, cheaper! Smaller!
Leo: I would guess that somebody at Google is working on cow-less meat.
Rob: Well there’s modern meadows. People in tech in general are…
Leo: It could be yum.
Leo: Why not?
John: You think you need a cow to make it yum?
Leo: Who was that that had the synthetic meat?
Rob: Modern Meadows was one of the companies.
Leo: Even that name sounds disgusting.
Rob: It sounds like a spa, doesn’t it?
John: It does, actually.
Rob: Then there was somebody who made a quarter million dollar hamburger.
Leo: That’s the one I was thinking of.
Rob: It was in the U.K. I want to say. It was part of one of these companies developing their product.
Leo: I’m going to just look up quarter million dollar hamburger. I wish we had an Amazon Tube here.
Leo: It was a stem cell burger.
Leo: You don’t need cows. You just need stem cells.
Rob: The Franken burger. It was a quarter million pounds.
Leo: Dollars, pounds, with deflation it makes no difference. It was five ounces, served up in London to the world’s foremost gastro-gnomes. After taking a bite…
John: How much did this thing weigh that they could serve it to the world’s foremost gastro-gnomes?
Leo: Five ounces.
John: That’s not even enough to get a bite.
Leo: After taking a bite, Austrian food researcher Hanni Rutzler said…
John: In the right voice.
Leo: That was an intense taste.
Rob: That was the taste of $50,000 going down your throat.
Leo: But I expected a softer texture. She said it’s close to meat but it’s not that juicy. But the consistence is perfect. Then Chicago author Josh Schonwald said the absence is the fat. It’s a leanness to it. But the bite feels like a conventional hamburger. So Mark Post, scientist…
John: You don’t even know for a fact that this wasn’t a fraud or a scam.
Leo: Look there it is. The burger was pan-fried before being… the guy’s holding it! Get your hands off my burger!
John: Yea, really.
Leo: It doesn’t even look like he washed his hands.
Rob: I want to point out that when they cut that burger into five parts, each of those little nibbles was worth a Palo Alto house in the future economy.
Leo: There you go! So I got it right. You know who put the money in? $215,000 of the 250,000 pounds of this? Sergey Brin.
Devindra: You’re kidding?
Leo: I apparently was channeling that. They are working on cow-less meat. The burger’s creator was pleased with the results. So do you really want to hear the rest of this? Okay, so the raw ingredients are 5mm-thick strips of pinkish-yellow lab-grown tissue. Stem cells in fact. They’re cultivated in a nutrient broth. Once they’ve grown 30 times their original size, they’re then combined with an elastic collagen in a culture dish where the cells form into chunks of muscle.
John: It’s probably good for your fingernails.
Leo: We’re not done! Electrical stimulation is used to make the muscle strips contract and pump up before the thousands of beef strips are minced up together with 200 pieces of lab-grown animal fat. And molded into patties.
Devindra: That sounds like a great animated picture. I want to see this. I really want to see that GIF. They’re going to need to get the marketing people on each step of that process to come up with a slightly different spin.
John: The Google burger.
Devindra: You know we poke fun, but I’ve been reading a lot about the future of food and meat is the problem.
Leo: It’s a huge problem. It’s totally inefficient.
Devindra: The abundance of it that we have right now probably won’t exist in 20 or 30 years. So we need alternatives and it’s either going to be lab-grown or it’s going to be insects or something. I just saw a startup that have energy bars made out of crickets. It’s crazy.
Leo: Well they’re crunchy. You can say that for them.
Devindra: Rich in protein.
Leo: Actually a lot of cultures eat crickets. It’s not unusual.
John: I’m not eating crickets. I had a bunch of these cricket things. They came over to some sample my way. All my daughter and her friend and a couple other people, no problem eating this stuff. So they’re doomed to it. Okay fine. I’m not eating crickets.
Leo: Here’s what Modern Meadows says. It takes over 50 gallons of water to make one hamburger.
John: This is just vegan propaganda.
Leo: No, no. Because they’re going to make cultured leather and meat products which require no animals.
John: Yes, does that sound vegan to you?
Leo: Toxic solid waste represents 70% of the wet waste in the world. A third of all available land globally is used for livestock production. It takes 75 square feet of land to make one hamburger. Anyway.
Devindra: We wonder how the world fell apart interstellar. It’s all burgers; it’s all the cows. I do wonder, you bring up the vegans. How will vegans feel when we have perfect meat substitutes? And they go for it. Is that hypocritical?
Leo: No! Because nothing died right?
Devindra: Right, right.
Leo: Okay you’re a vegan, Chris, right? Or a vegetarian?
John: Now big difference.
Leo: Let’s say he’s a vegan.
John: You can’t do that. Okay let’s say he’s a vegan. Let’s say you’re a vegan.
Leo: I’m a vegan. No, no. Close, vegetarian, vegan. I don’t know what the difference is. You eat eggs?
John: A vegan would never eat eggs.
Leo: I wouldn’t eat eggs for other reasons but anyways.
John: You don’t eat eggs?
Leo: I love eggs. So if we made the meat products in a lab with no animals involved, you would eat that, right? That and tofu.
John: He says no.
Chris: I say no but I’m not one of the people with moral problems with meat. I think meat is gross and growing something in a lab is…
Leo: Oh this is definitely gross.
John: That’s different.
Leo: He doesn’t eat meat because it’s gross.
John: I know people who won’t eat meat because they don’t like it for some reason. But that’s not a political reason, which vegans it’s all political.
Leo: Okay. Let’s take a break. We’ll come back with more. We’ve got John C. Dvorak. We’ve got Devindra Hardawar.
John: Very techy.
Leo: No it is techy. Making meat is techy. And we’re talking about Google and the fact that Google has ambitions. Ambitions beyond that of mortal men. They want to go places and take the world places maybe we don’t want to go.
John: They want to kill us all. I think that is the take away from this.
Leo: Well if you had to come down with a single problem that the whole world…
John: It’s people.
Leo: It’s people. There are six billion people. If there were one billion people, no problem.
John: The earth can sustain six billion people quite easily, in fact it’s doing it.
Leo: It’s doing it right now. But you’ve got global warming, you’ve got issues, problems. Watch Interstellar. It’s like dust.
John: You saw it?
Leo: Yes, the future is very dusty. Not good.
John: Well this place needs a little cleaning up itself.
Leo: It’s dusty. So you get rid of the extra people, nature will do it if we don’t. Right?
John: Not necessary. What a grim view you have.
Leo: I think that’s exactly what happens.
John: I’m like the positive optimist on the table.
Leo: So what do you think’s going to happen?
John: Nothing. Nothing ever happens.
Leo: We’re just going to go along like this?
Leo: You say basically we’re Malthusians. We’re confused.
John: I wouldn’t have used that word but I’ll use it now.
Leo: I like the word, don’t you like it?
John: It’s a great word.
Devindra: Let’s not look at the word of massive empires, right? Nothing ever went wrong there, ever.
John: May come and go.
Leo: No, the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire, the Persian Empire, Microsoft. It’s all the same.
John: They are here, they are there.
Leo: They come, they go. There’s a cycle.
John: Read Arnold Toynbee. Twelve volumes, you’ll get…
Leo: He said it was geographic. It was climate…
John: No he didn’t. He never said any of that. It was a cycle of civilization: growth cycle, death cycle. And he had the whole thing. He just essentially mapped it out.
Leo: But didn’t Toynbee say that part of the issue is people live in warm climates, have no ambition…
John: No, this is a Huntington, maybe.
Leo: I misread my Toynbee.
John: You never read Toynbee.
Leo: Oh. I thought I was reading Toynbee. It said Toynbee on the cover.
John: Yea, what’s his first name?
John: Yea, that’s what I thought. You didn’t read Toynbee. Maybe Alfred Kroeber. That would be the Alfred maybe.
Leo: Albert? It was Al something, wasn’t it?
John: Just call me Al. Al Toynbee. That’s what it was.
Leo: I know Toynbee very well. Was it George?
Leo: Arnold! I knew it began with an A! Arnold Toynbee.
John: I think it’s time for a commercial.
Leo: Now the chat room is calling me a Malthusian. Our show today brought to you by…
John: I think the word mal is appropriate but we don’t have the thusian part.
Leo: I’m not a thusian. You know what will never change is the U.S. Postal Service. Since the days of Ben Franklin, it’s really pretty much you go in and buy a stamp. You affix a stamp to a postcard, letter, package. You give the package to a person who then does some magic and it gets to the place where it’s going. That’s the cloud by the way. It’s what happens inside the post office. That’s the cloud. You know what I’m saying?
John: I think you should read the copy.
Leo: You feel I’m going down a path that is perhaps not going to be too fruitful.
John: It’s not going to give me a cup of coffee.
Leo: I’ll tell you where I’m going with this. You want to go get a cup of coffee?
John: No, I’m just saying.
Leo: Alright. I’ll tell you where I’m going with this. You don’t need to do the go to the post office part. The affixing the stamp to the letter part. You still have all the benefits of the postal service: the delivery across the country, anywhere, across the world. But you print the stamps. Now this sounds odd and dangerous and scary. With your computer, and your printer! You log onto a website, you buy the stamps, and you print them. Or better yet, forget stamps. Print them right on the envelope with your company logo, the return address, the recipient’s address. You have a package? No problem. You get the USB scale, you plop it on there, and it automatically gets you exactly the right postage. It even will recommend what kind of mail you should use. Maybe you could save money, use me-mail. Or first-class mail, third-class mail, whatever. It will even fill out the forms for you. The computer is so smart. It says oh this is international, let me fill out those customs forms for you. You want certified mail, I can do that. I’ll even send an email to the recipient automatically. Return receipt. With one push of the button, you can get automatic address verification, postage discounts you can’t get at the post office. Even discounted package insurance. Boom! Boom, like that! This is the modern way to mail stuff. Now this is not for somebody that once a year sends out Christmas cards. This is for somebody whom mail is their business. Whether you sell on Amazon or eBay or Etsy, you really ought to be using stamps.com. If you’re a business that sends out bills or mailers or brochures, you have to use stamps.com. We use stamps.com. Stamps.com, I want you to try it. If you visit stamps.com, click the microphone in the upper right and corner. You have to go to the home page. There you go. And enter our offer code TWIT and you’re going to get this amazing deal. You get the scale, just pay shipping and handling, it’s $5. You get a $5 activity kit, that kind of makes up for it. You get a month of stamps.com. You even get $55 in postage coupons you can use on stamps.com for the first few months. I think this is a great deal. Stamps.com. Click the microphone. You don’t have to take my word for it but you will love it if you do a lot of mailing. Stamps.com, eliminate those trips to the post office. Let them do what they do best.
John: Why do you have two accounts?
Leo: We have one for the front desk and one for the back.
John: Reminds me of the Irish joke.
Leo: What Irish joke? I don’t know that one.
John: An Irishman finds a genie. It comes out of the bottle and says I’ll grant you three wishes. He says well that’s great I think I’ll start off having a glass of Guinness.
Leo: Oh nice wish.
John: So he gives him a glass of Guinness. And says I’ll give you one better, Guinness shows up. The Irishman drinks the Guinness puts it down, and it refills itself. It refills itself continuously. The genie asks what do you want for your next two wishes. The Irishman says I’ll have two more of these.
Leo: You know the Amazon Echo will tell you joke. Did you know that?
John: I bet it will.
Leo: Let me see. I think I have some here. Okay, here we go.
Tell me another joke. A black guy, a Jew, and a prostitute walk into a bar.
Leo: Did you know that?
John: This is from the parody.
Leo: Oh that’s the parody. I confuse those two!
John: I was about to buy one of those things. Joke-telling device.
Leo: It actually does tell you like bad jokes, like knock-knock jokes. I’m excited about this. We’ve talked before about Twitter and the problem especially women have with abuse on Twitter. It just really is out of control. And Twitter has teamed up with a non-profit group called Women Action in the Media-WAM. And they’ve created a form on WAM for people to report abuse and harassment. But Twitter I think we… WAM basted them a little bit for paying a little bit less attention to this than they ought to. But apparently they have worked with WAM to create this tool. And it specifically says do you feel for your personal safety. Have you reported this to Twitter already? Are you being harassed by a single person or multiple people? Are you being docked? What kind of harassment? Hate speech. Revenge, that kind of thing. And then it works directly with Twitter to resolve the issue. Now it remains to be seen whether what Twitter’s commitment to respond to this is. But WAM did this last year with Facebook. And I think it was pretty effective. And apparently WAM has approached Twitter and they have been receptive. So I’m hopeful that this… now admittedly men get harassed on Twitter as well. I don’t think it’s the same problem though. I think it’s really an issue with women being harassed on Twitter.
John: You know you don’t have to be on Twitter.
Leo: Why shouldn’t I be able to walk down any dark alley that I choose?
John: You’re calling Twitter a dark… is that your opinion of Twitter?
Leo: Twitter’s a dark alley, man. Do not go down.
John: You don’t have to go down dark alleys either.
Devindra: The internet is though, for sure.
Leo: Okay, I know I’m going to beat a dead horse because I talk about this a lot. It seems to me that Twitter in its nature has really encouraged the drive-by, grotesque abusive stuff. And has not done a lot in my opinion to stop it.
Devindra: Yea, for sure. Twitter has enjoyed so much success because it is this instant platform to communicate with all sorts of people. And it’s shocking. It’s taken until now for them to actually do something about all the harassment. This isn’t the first time; we’ve been hearing about this forever, I feel like since Twitter started.
Leo: And I think Gamer Gate really brought it into the forefront and a lot of attention. Really you don’t see that same level of harassment on Google Plus, on Facebook, and other places. They seem to…
Devindra: Because nobody’s there right? But Facebook.
Leo: But Facebook even controls it a lot better.
Rob: There’s a lot more inherent self-policing because people generally are who they say they are on Facebook.
Leo: That’s a good start.
Rob: Saying really horrifying things that people might say on Twitter has got a huge social cost if you’ve got your actual account. And if you’re a famed person, you’re not going to be connected to anybody.
Devindra: It’s like the dream and the nightmare of the internet exists in Twitter. That’s what it is, for me at least.
Leo: That’s a good point. People always say this to me, yea but what about all the good Twitter’s done with Arab Spring and so forth. And I do support free speech. But I don’t know, I feel like there’s got to be a better way. Some middle ground. Between absolute free speech and this. The FTC has slapped the wrist of a patent troll. Jay Mack Rust, there he is in his cowboy gear. Good looking fellow. He’s the guy who sent out 9,000 patent demand letters to companies that have scanners that scanned email. He says I own the patent to that and I want you to pay a royalty of $1000 per employee for every network scanner in your business.
John: So he wasn’t going after the makers? He was going after the users? Wow, that’s a crazy escalation.
Leo: He’s a lawyer in Texas. He’s often held up as the example of how patent trolling can be out of control.
Devindra: He needs more saddles, right? That’s what it is.
Leo: How does he sleep at night? This is right on the edge.
Rob: I think he takes the hat off to start.
Leo: And the buckle.
John: Well you don’t know that.
Leo: Anyway, Rust was sued of course. FTC started investigating; he counter-sued the FTC. That lawsuit got thrown out. Now Rust and his firm, MPHJ Technology, have settled with the FTC, finally. A patent troll gets his come uppance.
John: What was that?
Leo: He and his lawyers are barred from making misleading or unsubstantiated representations in any letters they send out from now on.
John: Boy that will show him.
Rob: Yea, that did it.
Leo: That’s it! No fine. That’s it. You shouldn’t make any misleading or unsubstantiated representations.
John: None of this would even exist if it wasn’t for software patents and process patents. They’re bullcrap, right? They should just pull the plug on that.
Leo: Remember Congress has been trying to pass a law unsuccessfully. The Supreme Court we thought might have changed a little bit with one of their most recent decisions: overturning a patent based partly on a computer process. And of course the last resort is a Federal Trade Commission and the Bureau of Consumer Protection. But boy, that doesn’t seem like that’s going to even put these guys out of business. Let alone…
John: You think Nathan Marivold is a patent troll?
Leo: Yea. Microsoft-millionaire, probably billionaire. Who knows? He had an interesting idea, founded a company called, what was it?
John: Patent Troll.
Rob: Intellectual Ventures.
Leo: A.K.A. Patent Troll. And the idea was they were going to buy up a lot of patents and protect the creators of those patents by licensing it out.
John: I didn’t hear they were going to protect anybody.
Leo: Protect their money.
Rob: There was this great farcical tale they told about one particular person who licensed them a patent. Yea, they market the notion that they’re on the side of the small inventor who’s up against these big mammoth corporations that just want to screw him.
Leo: Right. Or anybody who uses a scanner to send email for another example. So Electronic Frontier Foundation says while we are encouraged by the FTC’s work, this is one action against a single troll. We need broader reform and of course we do. Nobody’s yelling at the FTC, but boy it seems like they could have done more here. Nebraska and Vermont are still suing. Oh and by the way so is Your Ox, Ricoh, and HP.
John: What’s this?
Leo: That is I believe pixel conduit.
John: What is it?
Leo: Well it’s probably a little too complicated for you.
John: But what is it? Just tell me.
Leo: It has to do with video compositing and post production.
Jeff: It’s an editor?
Leo: No, far from it my friend. It’s a conduit.
John: It’s a conduit.
Leo: It isn’t an editor. You attach effects. Alex Lindsay, digital… oh do we use pixel conduit? I know what Alex Lindsay uses.
John: I have a little thing on the back here.
Leo: So that’s a studio computer we pulled for Mr. Dvorak.
John: Yea and I clicked on this thing and thought it was a browser.
Leo: Do we use that?
John: You don’t even know if you use pixel conduit.
Leo: No idea!
John: You just completely lost control of the whole operation.
Rob: And I was sitting here for the last hour and a half thinking you’re a hardcore Android fan boy because of the sticker on the back.
Leo: It’s not even his computer!
John: It’s Jason’s.
Leo: Jason, is that your old computer?
Jason: It’s my old computer.
Leo: Well then you must know what pixel conduit does.
Jason: I have no idea. I do think that was Alex from MacBreak Weekly.
John: Must have been.
Leo: Yea, it’s a DV garage kind of a thing. We knew this would happen but speaking of court actions, and if you haven’t heard this you should know: unlocking your phone issue, if you have locked your phone with a passcode that’s in your mind, it is widely considered by Constitutional experts to be private. Because they’re not allowed to get you to testify against yourself. Giving up the password…
John: A few fingernails and you can get it.
Leo: That would be torture and I think we frown on that as well.
John: Well I don’t know that.
Leo: You could water board them, just gently. They’re not allowed to… that would be self-incrimination.
John: It would seem so.
Leo: However, a Virginia Beach circuit court judge, Steven Frucci has ruled that a criminal defendant can be compelled to give up his fingerprint to unlock his cell phone in the course of a criminal investigation.
John: Yea you grab his hand.
Leo: Because it’s just like a DNA sample or a physical key you have in your pocket. You can be legally compelled to give that to police. You cannot give up a passcode because that’s considered knowledge and protected by the Fifth Amendment. The right against self-incrimination. So the reason it’s germane is if you have an iPhone and you use touch ID to lock it, you could be compelled to unlock it. So the advice is to…
Rob: If arrested.
Leo: Well even if stopped.
John: They were taken those California Highway Patrol men were stealing photos from…
Leo: He got fired, thank God.
John: Well there was a whole bunch of them. He’s just the…
Leo: He said it was common practice.
John: He was a scapegoat.
Leo: He was taking naked pictures of women that he pulled over for traffic stops.
John: He wasn’t taking pictures. He was taking them from the phone. And apparently the CHP does this.
Leo: You know, it’s a widespread practice.
John: These guys are bored! It’s like a trading, like trading baseball cards.
Leo: That’s kind of what he implied but on the other hand that may have been self-serving. He got fired. And he’s facing felony charges.
John: He’ll get off.
Rob: So he just pulled over a lot of people who have naked pictures on their phone.
Leo: No he would say may I take your phone. And he would go through the pictures and if he found them he would email or text them to himself. And she’s sitting there looking at her outbox. What?! That’s how he got caught!
John: It went on for years before somebody did that by the way. Looked at their outbox.
Leo: Yea, CHP officer Shawn Harrington was accused of this. He admitted he stole explicit photos from phones of up to one half dozen arrestees. Search warrant documents, detailed text messages sent between CHP officers like her body is rocking. Or taken from the phone of my 10-15 ex while she’s in x-rays. Enjoy buddy.
John: Bored cops.
Leo: But this raises the issue of course of hey look there’s a certain amount of bad apples in any business. And it raises the issue of you have protections against police officers. But the problem is if you’re in their custody, it’s going to be hard to say no officer, I will not.
John: Yea you don’t want to be taken into the, what do you call it? The headquarters? Not the headquarters. The paddy wagon.
Leo: So EFF had mentioned this. We had mentioned this when Apple announced touch ID. Or if you have a Galaxy Note or S5 or HTC One Max, these all have fingerprint readers. You should know if you’re locking the phone with a fingerprint, they in fact have the right to, if you’ve been arrested, to compel you to unlock it.
John: What if you do it with your left hand forefinger and you keep pushing it… this thing has not worked for the last week.
Rob: See I was thinking about that too. So the knowledge they can’t get out of your head. Your finger they can press it. What if you just don’t tell them which finger does it?
Leo: Ah, I know which finger and you don’t. And I’m not going to tell you.
John: Well there’s only 10. That would probably go right to the Supreme Court.
Leo: Supreme Court has not ruled on this case specifically. But there was a case in 1966 where a defendant was compelled to give up a blood sample. And the court ruled that quote the Fifth Amendment offers no protection against compulsion to submit to fingerprinting. This is kind of the same, right? So you’re not protected, just so you know. Now, one thing to know is that if you turn off your iPhone, when you turn it back on it will say you have to enter the passcode and you’re protected. Even if touch ID is enabled. That’s just a thing Apple built in. So you have to enter the password. Similarly if you haven’t used touch ID in 48 hours. I can’t remember who this was, the counsel of somebody was, okay you get your attorney to slow the process down as much as he can. And two days from now, the touch ID won’t work. You used to be an attorney, right?
Leo: No? Never? Come on, don’t deny it! When did you stop…?
Rob: I didn’t go to law school.
Devindra: I can’t wait to see the good boy using this plot point.
Leo: Oh and you know they will. It’s great stuff. Anyway it’s a good thing to know. We’re going to take a break and come back and talk about breach fatigue. In a new study out by the highly regarded Ponemon Institute.
John: This is a joke, right?
Leo: No! Breach fatigue has set in with consumers. But first I hope you’re not fatigued with our advertisers because they’re fabulous people. And they deserve every bit of your attention, like for instance Zip Recruiter. Who really did us a very nice service, ziprecruiter.com. The problem is when you’re hiring somebody to fill a job, there are lots of places you can go on the internet to post a job. But which one is the best? And do you want to go to all of them? Well with Zip Recruiter you don’t have to worry. You go to ziprecruiter.com and you post to 50 plus job boards with a single submission. Including by the way Twitter and LinkedIn and Craigslist and Facebook. So you get all the social recruiting. One post to 50 plus job boards! And then the great thing is they don’t call or email you. Their applications are sent back into the Zip Recruiter system where you can easily scan them, screen them, very simply find the right people. And hire them right away. It really is the fastest, easiest way. We use it and it’s great! I want you to try it right now. We’ve got four days free. And the way this works that may be enough for you to find that right person. Absolutely no cost. Ziprecruiter.com. You can create customized email responses, a branded job page that you put right on your website that uses Zip Recruiter to screen them. It’s just fabulous. Ziprecruiter.com. If you go there right now at ziprecruiter.com/twit, you get four days free. Look at all the businesses that have use Zip Recruiter. We should have the TWiT logo on there. Ziprecruiter.com/twit. We thank them for their support. Where did John go? He wonders off you know.
Rob: He’s getting more licorice, I think. It’s stale. I devoured one.
Leo: Did it snap?
Rob: Yea it snapped. It shattered.
Leo: That’s really stale. When you can get Red Vines to shatter by tapping them…
Rob: It’s gorilla licorice. It’s very hard to scratch, but it’s brittle as hell.
Leo: How are you doing Devindra? You hanging in there?
Devindra: Doing good.
Leo: You don’t have breach fatigue, I hope?
Devindra: Nope, but you know having worked in IT I can understand why people don’t pay attention. You can warn them as much as you can. But nobody listens. It doesn’t really matter.
Leo: I’ll give you an example. So Home Depot, which what was the number? It was some huge number of accounts that had been compromised in the Home Depot system. Like 56 million I think.
Rob: In the tens of millions.
Leo: They just announced, oh and by the way we got 50 million email addresses leaked out. Sorry about that. It’s not as bad as your credit card but still it’s not good. So we’re seeing all of these breaches at Target and Home Depot. So the RSA did a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute. 1000 consumer respondents. Half of them have been a victim of a breach. I think that’s a low number. I would bet everybody here has been at some way… I mean haven’t you all had a credit card misused or have gotten a new one from your bank saying well we don’t know but maybe you should try a new number. It happened to me. I would say it has to be closer to 100%. Anyway, 14% of these people reported they care enough about privacy that a data breach at an institution they do business with would affect their future business. Banking or shopping behavior. In other words, they’re saying no big deal. Only 14% said they wouldn’t go back there. While the majority say they do care about privacy, 23% says privacy has absolutely no influence over our behaviors or perceptions of a company. You know what? I like Home Depot and I’m going to keep buying my lumber there. 49% reported they’re still shopping online but they are using credit cards instead of debit cards. I don’t know if that’s… big deal.
John: It’s a myth.
Leo: This study…
John: I think it’s the credit card companies that developed this myth.
Leo: Oh that the debit card is less?
Leo: Well it used to be some years ago…
John: You’re doing a favor to the supplier when you’re using a debit card because there’s less than a vigorous.
Leo: The vig is lower on a debit card.
John: Yea so small businesses, I always use debit.
Leo: And many years ago, five or six, there wasn’t a limit to your losses on debit cards. And there is now, a $50 limit to your losses.
John: And that never happens. I’ve had this happen to me a couple times.
Leo: They’ll back it up. Say, yea sorry this happens all the time. We’ve got breach fatigue. That’s what they’re calling this, is breach fatigue. Where consumers, they keep hearing about these breaches and they say screw it.
John: You don’t have a problem if you just use cash.
Leo: Or Apple Pay as it turns out.
John: Yea, right now. That’s not going to last.
Leo: Actually it’s interesting, Google Wallet is showing an increase in use thanks to Apple Pay. I think I’m one of them. I never used the touch and pay. I’ve always had it. And in fact it’s always been available. The same people now who are offering Apple Pay; I could have used it. It’s that logo that looks like a guy eating a piece of fish. You know what I’m talking about?
Devindra: Apple did a better job at marketing this than Google ever did or any of Google’s partners.
John: A guy eating a piece of fish? That to you looks like a guy eating a piece of fish?
Leo: Yea there’s a plate and there’s fish bones on it. And then there’s a guy and he’s grabbing a little bit of the fish. Probably the last… am I wrong?!
John: Yea. That’s nuts.
Leo: It looks just like that!
John: Exactly, now that you mention it.
Leo: I’m just saying.
Rob: Is that the official logo?
John: Hoken-Pay we call it.
Rob: Have some fish!
Leo: Have a nice piece of fish, it’s fresh. You’re going to like it! No, see that’s part of the problem. Apple Pay has a nice apple and pay. And you kind of know what it is. Then you have this, you get this, and that you can use Google Wallet.
Rob: That’s the Google Wallet logo.
Rob: Got it. Particularly popular at seafood restaurants.
Leo: By the way, this image is from Google. Oh well. Have you ever used tap and pay solution, Devindra?
Devindra: Oh yea. Ever since Apple Pay went live. It’s so good because the pharmacies in Duane Reid. It’s the easiest thing to wave your phone, hold down your finger, and keep moving. The thing about Google Wallet though is using it is not as fast as Apple Pay. Even though more people are using it, the overall experience isn’t great.
Leo: I know and understand about Apple Pay because I’ve seen a lot of videos. What do you do with Google Wallet? Do you have to enter a PIN?
Devindra: I think it’s different for every phone. When I used it, it was a password, I think.
Leo: So I have Google Wallet and they’re my… the other problem was that Verizon and other cell carriers were blocking it for a long time. Because they had their own solution. This is a Verizon phone. And though it does have Soft Card which is the new name for ISIS…
Rob: Islamic Insurgency has changed their name to Soft Card?
John: That’s interesting.
Leo: They’re going for a kinder, gentler sort of view. The name of the original wallet created by Verizon and its partners was ISIS.
John: Okay that makes sense.
Rob: Branding issue, yep.
Leo: Recently they changed it to Soft Card. We don’t know why. So I have Soft Card on here and I also have Google Wallet. Now all of a sudden I can not only work Google Wallet, but I can enable tap and pay. So when I see the fish, I tap it. I think it asks for a PIN. Because I have a Google Wallet PIN. So I think it’s because…
John: Well it’s just what you do with your debit card. You have a PIN.
Leo: Yea, it’s not so bad. Okay it would be nice if it had touch ID and I could just do fingerprint. I should try it on the Galaxy Note. I bet you the Galaxy Note’s fingerprint reader works the same way as Apple does.
John: I will bet you it doesn’t.
Leo: I would bet you it does.
John: I would bet you a crisp one-dollar bill that it doesn’t.
Leo: I’ll bet you a fish dinner.
Devindra: Even if it doesn’t work, it’s not as reliable as touch ID.
Leo: I think that’s… I don’t know. I think it’s the same technology. It’s still the Euro card, Visa card, MasterCard solution. The EVM solution.
Devindra: I’m talking about the fingerprint part because nobody else can get fingerprints…
John: Does it work?
Leo: No because Apple bough the company Authentec, that does the touch ID stuff. And nobody else can use it now. It’s really nice. You just put your finger on it, kind of lazy-like. It goes okay. On every other thing it’s like the Lenovo, remember the Lenovo’s that had fingerprints. You had to slide your finger down. If you don’t do it just right it will say your finger’s tilted. Okay.
Devindra: On the Samsung phones it feels like you’re sliding your finger down the flat edge of a knife. It’s not great user experience.
Leo: They don’t want you to spend too much. So Ars Technica’s talking to somebody from Google and they have seen a 50% increase in weekly transactions at Google Wallet. And new users have…
John: Is there numbers or they just went from 10 to 20?
Leo: That’s a good question. We don’t know. And Apple’s not saying either how many Apple Pay transactions. All they say is they have a million cards. A million people signed up. That’s all I have to say about that. Silk Road Two already busted. I know, it’s so hard to get OxyContin these days.
John: You can always get it in Florida.
Leo: This hidden site has been seized says ICE.
John: Why does it say this hidden site? Why not just this site?
Leo: Because Silk Road is hidden. You have to go through Torre to get to it.
John: But why do they have to brag. It’s hidden but we’ve found it. It’s not very well hidden it seems to me.
Leo: I wonder who does this design and writes…
John: Jokers and new guys. I’ve got a good one there.
Leo: This hidden site has been seized. And they arrested the guy who created the Silk Road. It didn’t take long.
Rob: Less than a year.
Leo: Yep. And apparently they had infiltrated it almost immediately. 26-year old Blake Benthall of San Francisco is now accused of running it.
John: It’s always somebody in San Francisco.
Leo: That’s where it is man. That’s where it’s happening, man.
Rob: He bought a Tesla. That’s the only thing that he seemed to have lost.
Leo: So Torre, I think…
John: So the government will seize the Tesla and put it on sale at one of these auctions.
Leo: You might get a deal. Look for a cheap Tesla.
John: Twenty grand for a nice Tesla.
Leo: Do we want to talk about the CBS journalist who says she was hacked but maybe it was just a stuck delete key? No.
Rob: Ha, stuck delete key.
Leo: I’m hacked! Everything I type goes away! I don’t want to get into the story here because it’s an elaborate story. And by the way Ars Technica has a very good article. Sheryl Attkisson…
Rob: Looks like a typo, doesn’t it.
John: She’s got a book out, she’s selling books.
Leo: She’s got a book. The book is how…
Rob: It’s how a certain delete key got locked at the time she was writing it.
Leo: And CBS says we hired a cyber-security; anyway she recorded with her camera phone somebody taking remote control. Here I’ll show you. Remote control of her Mac.
John: That’s exactly what it looks like.
Leo: Or a known bug in the Microsoft Word as a matter of fact. We’re not sure which. But she says look! Poltergeist! They’re hacking me!
John: So the scrolling is going on or is she doing the scrolling?
Leo: Stuck delete key.
Rob: This is kind of like a UFO picture, right? You can’t see what’s going on.
Leo: She claims this is proof…
John: She’s a very famous media person. Why can’t she go horizontal with this video?
Leo: Get a little lighting in there, right? She claims it’s president Obama doing it.
John: No she doesn’t.
Leo: She does. Okay, or people working for him.
John: Working for the government. Looking at my computer.
Leo: I’m kind of shocked that you and Adam haven’t gone into greater detail on this story. It’s a good story.
John: It’s a story that we won’t do because it’s dumb.
Leo: Taylor Swift is giving up streaming music. Well not really actually.
John: More publicity for Taylor Swift. We talked about this on today’s No Agenda show by the way.
Leo: I knew you would! I had five dollars, please.
John: Because in my opinion and I’ll say it again, she will end up being the richest celebrity in the history of entertainment. Boy, those are stale. Wow.
Leo: Taylor Swift is a nice young lady.
John: She is the promotional queen.
Leo: She’s really good at social media. Look at that!
John: Either that or this is a knife edge.
Leo: I’m really sorry to the people listening to this show.
John: Well you weren’t banging the mic.
Leo: So I think Taylor Swift is very smart and effective in using social media. I follow her on Instagram.
John: It would be better if she could sing. I am sorry.
Leo: She’s a fine and talented artist. I think this is good.
John: This is another publicity stunt right at the end of her series of publicity stunts.
Leo: For her album 1989?
John: Yea. And this is the end of it.
Leo: She did not by the way take it off of Ardio. Rob, you created this whole business with Rhapsody.
John: Yea, you’re the guy.
Leo: Has Taylor called and yelled at you?
Rob: She direct messaged me.
Leo: Did she really?
Leo: She says and I think this is true, it took two years of my life to make this album. And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment streaming music.
John: It’s two years, okay go on.
Leo: That I don’t feel compensates the writers, artists, and creators of music. And this is something I actually agree with her on: I don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free. Now of course you pay for Spotify accounts. $10 per month. What was Rhapsody?
Rob: $10 per month.
Leo: You set the price that was it. You were 15 or 5…?
Rob: No we basically got the deals; we were the first people to get deals with then five major record labels. And we set the price that we could set it for given the prices that had from them. So ten is a nice round number. I think everybody felt fine about that. But the calculus that we went through way back then, when we knew it was going to be decades before overwhelming numbers of people use this streaming service like ours for music. The estimate was about 200M Americans buy some music some of the time. And our feeling was…
Leo: Say that number again.
Rob: 200M of the 300M. They would buy a CD once a year.
Leo: That’s a lot. Two out of three people buy music.
Rob: Buy some music, was the statistic.
Leo: This was in the 80’s?
Rob: We started this service in 2002.
Leo: Oh I’m sorry.
Rob: So this is Rhapsody. This is the VisiCalc of Spotify. We kind of pioneered this model. So the thinking was if you got those people to pay $10 a month for a much better thing, not just the… everything. You’ve actually doubled the size of the music industry. Because that would be $24B a year. And at the time, American music sales were about $10-11B.
Leo: You can talk now. How much of that does a record label get?
Rob: A significant majority if it goes to the labels. The artists have in many cases very vociferously they are not seeing any of it.
Leo: Yea but labels have been ripping off artists for years.
Rob: That’s the issue and I think there are a lot of people blaming the streaming services saying Spotify is evil because I get no money. And there are outlandish stories that say it was played this many millions of times and I got a dollar. That’s on the labels. Because an enormous amount of money; I don’t know exactly what Spotify’s deals are. But they haven’t changed that much really since the earliest days of Rhapsody. Three years ago the deals were virtually unchanged. And the overwhelming majority of the money we took in was going to the labels. And if it’s not being shared equitably with the artists, then yea it’s going MIA.
Leo: Lady Gaga said a couple years ago I got a million plays of my latest songs. I earned $167 on Spotify.
Rob: Yea, and I’m sure somebody was paid quite a bit more than that.
Leo: That’s the key. And that’s what Pandora by the way. Tim Westergrin’s always said of Pandora; we pay a huge amount of money to the record labels.
Rob: They pay even more than the radio stations, too. What was the quote? How many plays did she get?
Leo: She says a million plays, $167.
Rob: Probably in the neighborhood of a penny a play is a common number for deals. And this was a while ago, too. A couple years ago.
Leo: Poker Face.
Rob: Probably $10,000 went back to her label. And somehow they did math and said we keep 99% and you get 1%.
John: It’s in the contract.
Rob: So there’s leakage in there. My feeling is it’s on the label’s side.
Leo: And the labels have been ripping ours for years. This is not anything new. I guess the real question is, and we know that users-you were right-love this. They didn’t love Rhapsody right out of the box.
Rob: Some of them did. Early adopters who got the idea like all of a sudden, wow. Instead of having this sliver of 1% of all the music in the world on my wall that I have to buy al a carte $15 an album, I can have all of it for $10 a month. Yea, early adopters got it and loved it. This day I hear from folks who were early users of Rhapsody. And Rhapsody still has a million subs. So it’s something out there.
Leo: It’s bigger than Beats. But Ardio, Spotify, iTunes. Google’s gotten this business and I like Google Music, all access they call it. It’s all roughly the same 20 million songs, except not Taylor Swift on Spotify. But I think you’re right. It’s more for her on the other hand I don’t disagree with her position.
John: She’s not going to make any money anyway.
Leo: I ought to get paid for my music.
Rob: And I don’t disagree with that. People should. Particularly if people are throwing down $10 a month, month after month, year after year.
Leo: We assume because we’re paying money, somebody’s getting that. And I guess this is the interesting take away for me. The labels, the artists presumably, and you felt that $10 a month was going to be a bigger pot of money for everybody involved than the people were buying music.
Rob: If you straight-lined it out and say we’ve been through as an industry seven or eight platform transitions. There were spinning cylinders and 78s and 45s and eight track and cassette. Eventually if this is the endpoint format that we’re going to and the price is $10 a month. And it delivers unbelievable value it was relatively simple math to say the pie should grow. It grew with CDs. It should grow again. But it’s a long transition. All of these services collectively only have a few million subscribers.
Leo: Is there a better solution? Trent Rezner did an interview with Billboard. He said I’m working with Apple. He’s the creative guy at buying Beats.
Rob: He was the Chief Creative Office.
Leo: Smart because he never took the limelight. People think of Dre. But he apparently is working with Apple and he says it surrounds me and I can’t talk about what it is. But I got the strong impression that it was streaming and about making it more equitable for artists. And there’s room to do that.
Rob: His quote was there is a model that will work. There is a pony in there some place. And the fact is yes, if a mass market of people are paying $10 a month for music or $8.99 or whatever it is. And if it is shared equitably, that industry should be larger than the CD industry was at its pinnacle in 1999 when everybody was swimming in money.
Leo: Well and we know we have to solve that because according to the RIA, music sales are off 14% for the first half of the year.
Rob: First-time downloads are down a ton.
Leo: iTunes says the same thing, 13%. That’s not good.
Rob: No it’s terrible.
Leo: People aren’t buying music. They are listening to Spotify.
Rob: Well if they transition over to the streaming services, those dollars will be captured. So the question is are download sales going to collapse faster than people actually start saying… now one of the problems or issues is Spotify to use a very obvious example, has such abundant access to crazy capital and crazy valuations. They’re currently under no obligation to actually make money. So they have free services and the ad-supported services which don’t make microeconomic sense. You can’t be profitable on that. They don’t have to be right now. And so we have services that are out there that are a hell of a lot cheaper than $10. And as you start discounting things way down and get them to the realm of free, the bigger pie no longer exists.
Leo: It does feel like we’re moving toward $5 a month. Is that doable?
Rob: At that point it becomes a question of price elasticity, right? Because we are no longer anywhere near the size of the music industry as we were in 1999 or 2000 to get back. To half that number would be a damn good thing in minds of a lot of people. So yea, it’s a question of if you cut it to $5 and sales more than double, then you should probably cut it to $5. And they should be experimenting with price and figuring out where there’s inflexion.
Leo: I’m so glad you’re here because this is an interesting topic.
John: You should bring him on to Triangulation.
Leo: He’s been on Triangulation. Rob Reid is great, Year Zero is his most recent book. I started to ask you about the new novel.
Rob: So just to catch people up on Year Zero, it’s the tale of a vast alien civilization that is so into American pop music that they accidently create the biggest copyright infringement since the dawn of time. It’s a little germane to the topic we’re talking about. And in that book there is this diabolical social network called Phlutter. And it’s kind of like a running joke, but basically Phlutter is this startup that basically infiltrates your phone, infers everything about you, and then blabs it to the world. So this new book, it is called Emergent. And it will be the story of Phlutter. So this imaginary, diabolical Phlutter. It will be sort of a Silicon Valley comedy.
Leo: I like it!
Rob: I’m a third of the way into it.
Leo: I like how the aliens name themselves after rock star. Frampton and Carly. Thank you, Rob Reid. Great to have you. Year Zero is on Amazon right now. Kindle, hard cover, paperback, and audiobook.
Rob: Audiobook read by John Hodgeman.
Leo: I highly recommend it. That’s from audible.com.
John: When are you going to do a book?
Leo: I don’t have time.
John: The voiceover, not the book.
Leo: I should write a book. My years with John C. Dvorak.
John: You could be a great Audible reader.
Leo: Maybe when I retire. They offered me a book. It was like a biotech book because they thought I could read the words. And it’s not enough money to really make a living off it.
John: You want to do it for your fans.
Leo: Do it because I love it?
John: No, you’re not going to love it.
Leo: I bought a book that you told me to get, about writing. Don’t ever write for fun. That’s a big mistake. But John does have fun, not only writing but also podcasting.
John: Podcasting the No Agenda Show.
Leo: Podcasting is going through a renaissance.
John: It’s getting a lot of publicity for some unknown reason.
Leo: I know exactly why. Because some guy that everybody in the mainstream media knows who works for American Life is now doing a podcast about doing podcasting. So suddenly all the mainstream media goes it’s still here!
John: After 20 years. What was the first podcast?
Leo: Our 10th anniversary is coming up. It was 2004. Adam’s first podcast the Daily Source Code was September 2004. I worked with the guy.
John: I’ve heard of him. We discuss it occasionally.
Leo: Thank you for being here, John. It’s great to see you. Devindra Hardawar, I feel bad because here we are eating Red Vines and…
Devindra: It’s no problem. I’m good. I have a cat on my lap, it’s all good.
Leo: I wish I had a cat on my lap.
John: At least you said it that way.
Devindra: It’s wonderful.
Leo: Newly ensconced at Engadget. We don’t know what his portfolio will be.
Devindra: Cool stuff.
Leo: Cool stuff. That’s a good portfolio. But congratulations on the new job. You can follow him on Twitter at Devindra. We love talking to you. Please come back.
Devindra: Thanks, it was great to be here.
Leo: Thank you to our live audience who laughed at all the right places. And even some of the wrong places. Even better. If you want to be in our live audience just email firstname.lastname@example.org. And we’ll put you in a very uncomfortable seat, right? Yes, yes.
John: Get the padded ones from Costco.
Leo: Those are the padded ones from Costco. Oh my God. The poor guys are going oh. Anyway we thank you. Did the Broncos win? Of course they did. Oakland Raiders! Oh wait, I love the Oakland Raiders!
John: Tell it like it is.
Leo: Whoops. Are they moving to San Antonio?
Maybe. You never know!
Leo: If you want to watch the show, we do it live in the afternoons: 3pm Pacific, 6pm Easter time. That’s 2400, midnight UTC. Is that right? Three plus 12 is 15 plus 8 is 2300 UTC.
John: I guess.
Leo: Yea something like that. 2300 UTC. If you can’t watch live, of course we have on demand audio and video always available after the fact at twit.tv or wherever you find your podcasts. Stitcher has them. Slacker has them. Podcasts app all over the world have them. We also have our own TWiT apps thanks to our third-party developers. You can download those on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, even on Roku! Or Samsung. Thanks for being here, we’ll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can.