This Week in Tech 494 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWIT: This Week in Tech. An amazing episode. We're going to talk about Microsoft's big announcements, with Harry McCracken, Christina Warren from Mashable, and Steve Kovach from Business Insider. This Week in Tech is next.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech: Episode 494, recorded January 25, 2015.
The Musk Who Fell to Earth
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Christina Warren: Great to be here.
Leo: Yes! We love the film girl. Also with us, Harry McCracken, the technologizer, now at Fast Company.
Harry McCracken: Great to be on!
Leo: Harry was in Redmond for the Microsoft announcement, so we're going to get some hands on with a holo lens. Also with us, my good friend Steve Kovach, his second appearance on TWIT and he's out there in polar vortex land.
Steve Kovach: Not quite yet. On Tuesday.
Leo: Soon. Actually, both you and Christina are getting ready for two feet of snow in New York, Connecticut, and Long Island. Wow. Did you do anything special for that?
Steve: Hole up. Get food. Alcohol.
Steve: Drink. Yeah.
Leo: Do you feel like you'll be stuck inside with no power for days?
Steve: No. But the trains will be totally screwed up, I'm sure, so I'm going to have to work from home. Hopefully my Internet connection lasts.
Leo: Does it usually?
Steve: It held up during Sandy, during the hurricane.
Leo: And you're in Manhattan. You're in the city.
Steve: I was lucky.
Leo: I guess the big story has to be Microsoft. On Wednesday they had an event, which they invited a small number of tech journalists to, including our own Paul Thurrott and of course Harry McCracken was there. You looked comfy.
Harry: In terms of comfort for an event you live-blog, it was very high end. There were sofas and couches.
Leo: were you live blogging from your iPad?
Harry: I was like most of the other people in that room. I was using a MacBook pro.
Leo: This is the thing that cracked me up. Mary Joe did note this: there were very few Windows machines in that space.
Harry: I have a surface which I like, but I didn't know if I'd have a table or a lap, or if I'd be all crunched up, I was a little concerned about using a two piece device that might fall apart.
Leo: It's lap-able. They say it's lap-able.
Harry: 85% is lap-able. But when you're live-blogging you want to remove any possibility of error.
Leo: We knew that they would be talking about the consumer version of Windows 10, but Microsoft did come up with some pretty big surprises. First of all, I thought this was completely unlikely; there were rumors that had been going on for months that Microsoft might give it away, and in fact they are.
Harry: Yeah. For the first year, if you have Windows 7 or above you can upgrade for free.
Leo: Or a windows phone. Which is pretty amazing. In fact, this is going to be, for the first time, one Windows for phone, for desktop, for tablet, even for X-box. Windows 10 everywhere.
Harry: And apps that can run.
Leo: And a single unified store. Universal apps. This is fascinating. The real thing that surprised me—isn't Microsoft's bread and butter selling Windows? Are they giving it to OEMs for free?
Harry: In some cases they are. For the smaller phones and smaller tablets—I can't see any way they could ever do that for PCs.
Leo: Microsoft doesn't say free by the way for that. They say zero dollars. I don't understand. They did say the word free for Windows 10. I think that's fascinating. We should clarify, because it's not immediately obvious when they say for one year. If you get it in that first year, it's yours, it's done.
Harry: Right. You just have to do the job in the first year. Then you're set and you qualify for support.
Leo: Who knows. Maybe in the second year they'll keep doing it. I doubt they'll stop. But it's obvious that their real goal is to get people moved to the new version as soon as possible. Why? What's the hurry?
Christina: No one upgraded to 8.
Steve: People are on 7 still.
Leo: 7! Almost half of Windows users are on XP.
Harry: It's been almost a decade and a half since it was normal that you would assume that if you used Windows you would upgrade to the next version. When Windows and XP came out and there was that long period where people were stuck in Windows XP, which isn't entirely over yet.
Leo: No. I get calls every day on the radio show from people who are using Windows XP. Today.
Harry: It's not a given that people want to upgrade their operating system any more.
Leo: In the past, the way you got an upgrade on Windows was that you got a new computer. Unlike Apple—Apple users will upgrade almost every time there's a new upgrade. They will take their existing machine; they'll download it and install it. Whether it's free or not. Apple is free now, but even when they charged 30 bucks. Windows users were always slow to upgrade. They said, "When I get a new computer I'll get the new version."
Harry: Which is part of why Microsoft can do this, because the upgrade cost for Windows is relatively small compared to—
Leo: So I guess that's what I'm asking. It sounds like Dell is still going to pay Microsoft when you buy a new Dell with Windows 10; they're going to get some money.
Harry: They will be presumably paying a fairly large chunk of change.
Leo: They put it on yesterday; you can download the latest technical preview. This is the consumer version. I don't know what's going on. It's still called the technical preview. What do you guys think of the UI? In many ways, Microsoft is responding to people who hated Windows 8 and 8.1, they got rid of the Charms—
Steve: The realized they screwed up. For the normal people out there, Windows 8 was a disaster. You couldn't use it. I remember one time shortly after it launched going to Best Buy and seeing a woman completely confused at the Geek Squad bench. I made a big joke about it at the time, which was true. It was great for people like you and me who can noodle around, but the normal people were scared of it. This is a step back to a much more familiar interface. I think it's the right move. It's the right move making it free; it's going to be a massive upgrade cycle. So many people still see XP, a lot off small businesses are still in XP, this is going to be a huge upgrade cycle for them.
Leo: Isn't that kind of critical for Microsoft to get business to move? Business has been slow to adopt.
Christina: Honestly, I think that's why they're doing the free year. They have so many businesses that they haven't been able to move to their latest Office version, so they're going to have the next version of Office, 365. They're going to want to push people towards that, towards a yearly recurring license, rather than a one-off. I think if they can get businesses who might be on XP or on 7 and have no interest in going to 8 at all, to say OK. For the first year, you can upgrade for free. They might be able to take the bite out of that and convince people who might not otherwise be making hardware purchases, so that's probably why OEM's are willing to go along with this, because they can say, "hey. We can go ahead and sell you these new systems you get you to upgrade. They need to get business back. Consumers are increasingly—Microsoft is losing them anyway. They really can't afford to lose business. Unfortunately, the last cycle was just a complete and total turn off for any business to adopt. It's fine on a touch interface, but if you're using it for a mouse and keyboard primarily, it really doesn't work well. That has been the biggest advantage that Windows 10 has, is it works well with a mouse and keyboard, which is how most people in a business environment are going to be using it.
Leo: I have to say, not only have they sawed off the rough edges, they got rid of the Charms bar, which was weird. But you do have a notification center that swipes in from the right that looks very much like the Apple notification center. Swiping in from the same location, although you can add action items at the bottom and have an arbitrary number of them. You can just add new actions. It's very customizable. You've got a start menu. Yes, they're tiles in the start menu, but it's much more like the Windows 7.
Harry: It has Cortana, which is potentially significant.
Leo: that's a huge one. Now, if you use Chrome on any system, you can talk. You can say, OK Google and Chrome will always respond. But this is system wide. You saw the download. Did you get to play with Cortana at all?
Harry: I haven't tried the new version yet.
Leo: So I've used Cortana on Windows phone. It's like Siri or Google Now. It does many of the same things. Different in some ways.
Harry: Microsoft plays up the notion that it's more respectful of your privacy because they have this notebook that shows you exactly what Cortana knows about you, you could switch it off.
Leo: You could further customize Cortana. It's kind of more like Google Now than Siri. If you open Cortana on Windows phone, you'll get a Google Now style stack of information, news stories and so forth.
Christina: It's kind of a hybrid between the two. I think the big stuff they really target is the Google now type of stuff. As Harry says, it's a little more potentially respectful of your privacy.
Leo: Very early on at the keynote on Wednesday said, you're not a Microsoft; you're not the product. Clearly a shot to Google and Facebook.
Steve: They swiped that from Apple too. Tim Cook said the same thing last summer after the iCloud gate hacking scandal. They came out with that same thing, so they totally borrowed that line from Tim Cook.
Leo: I think it's smart. Apple and Microsoft are responding to what consumers have said. We are concerned about privacy, and if Apple and Microsoft can say that we offer an alternative to Google that protects your privacy, that's probably a good way to sell it. In a way, Microsoft has a head start here. The problem with Apple doing a Google Now style thing is they don't know enough about you. Microsoft, because of Bing, you understand why they've been seeking hundreds of millions of dollars a year into their online services, they have been collecting that information. Do you think it's credible that Microsoft and Apple protect your information? I'm not talking about advertising. I'm talking about the one that we really worry about—from the NSA. Do they do a better job? Is that credible?
Harry: It's unclear. Microsoft did—was it last year or the year before? Somebody was sending out their code and they wanted to see who was doing that and they went into their Microsoft e-mail account, they later said they shouldn't have done that.
Leo: They said they're going to have in the future, but when the NSA comes a-calling to any American cooperation, especially if they come with what's called a national security letter, which can assert, we want every bit of information, and you are required by federal law not to reveal that we've asked for it. Microsoft isn't going to say no.
Harry: The whole Industry is pushing back way more than they ever did before the Snowden revelations.
Leo: I wonder how much of that pushback is for show and how much is for real.
Steve: The way you put it—there has to be a very high bar when the government comes to them with these kinds of requests, but I think what they need to be doing, Twitter is advocating this I know, right now, they can only give a range of requests. What they're trying to do now, Twitter and some other companies, they're trying to say we want to say exactly how many. Then we'll get a real look.
Leo: They're not even allowed to say how many government requests they've gotten.
Steve: They can only say the range.
Leo: Somewhere between 0 and 1000. That's how constrained they are. It strikes me that there's no high bar. All they need is to get a letter from a Phiza judge, and that's it. Any impression that there's a high bar is completely window dressing. Christina?
Steve: There's a bar if they show it or not. If they actually give that information over. They can still say no to the government.
Leo: No they can't! Are you nuts?!?
Steve: They don't turn everything over.
Leo: Sure they do. What makes you think they don’t'?
Steve: Do you think they turn over every single request?
Leo: If it's an NSL they do. They say no, we prefer not. Let's go argue this in the super-secret FISA court? Christina what do you think?
Christina: I think that MIcrosoft is in a precarious situation, more so than some of the other companies because they have two masters to serve. On the one hand, it is really hard to get an NSL letter. On the other hand, Microsoft really needs to have the appearance that they're taking these things seriously and they won't hand things over. So many of their customers are not consumers but businesses, so that opens up—
Leo: And they have a big business outside the US.
Christina: Precisely. So that makes it very different than it does for a more Consumer oriented company, because they can't—there can't be an appearance that they're going to turn their business information or corporate user's information over to the Government. Whether they're in the US or out of it. They can't have that appearance. That's why the instance that Harry mentioned, they tracked down the person that was stealing their own code from insider systems, and went into the guy's Hotmail account. That was actually pretty disturbing, because yeah, they were technically allowed to do it. But we don't want to think about the fact that just because they can they will take advantage of those things. It's a tricky, slippery slope. I would hope that they would be less forthcoming over certain things, I would hope that they would push back as much as possible. That, I think has been the biggest problem. That's why the Snowden documents and revelations continue to be important. It shines light on how un-transparent this entire process is, and how much we don't know from different perspectives.
Leo: you remember the case which was resolved in the summer. Microsoft was subpoenaed for information that was stored in Ireland. That's quite a precedent, because it's a US court saying, "OK. You have to turn over information stored on servers overseas." Microsoft did fight it. But, you know they're going to lose. I guess it'll have to go to the Supreme Court, but you know it will lose. The last judgment was from the Supreme Court of the Southern District of New York, which upheld the ruling. But my question goes back to this positioning. Microsoft will protect your data where Google won't. Is that real, or is that marketing?
Harry: They had the one campaign which they dropped, which was about Google is evil and less about Microsoft is doing things that are in your favor. I feel like it's a much better message if they spend less time complaining about Google and more time actually building stuff which is appealing to your privacy, such as this Cortana feature that lets you set the pieces of information on and off.
Leo: I feel like these companies do know an awful lot about you. There are two levels of privacy violations. There's one, which Google indulges in, as does Facebook, to sell it to advertisers. It's the deal you make. Those companies give you free services, and in return for free servers you give them information, which you then sell to Advertisers. There's the second issue, which is more scary, of the government being about to get information about where you've been, what you did, who did you talk to? Admittedly, that's a fight against terrorism, but it's overarching. It feels to me like US tech companies would like to appear that they're fighting, but I don't think they can.
Christina: It's hard. The way you would do that would be to encrypt the information that you store. The problem with doing that, and Google to their credit has been pushing for a lot more encryption stuff. The problem with doing that is if you cut too much of it off—
Leo: they don't get the information either. Precisely. That becomes the big problem. That's the one area where Microsoft or Apple could take the high ground. They could say—Apple does messages, they could say that we're not selling it to advertisers; we're selling it to ourselves. The law enforcement agencies that have access said that they couldn't help him. It's a great cryptic. I think that there's—it's just a matter of how much of that information can you separate? I think that's what Google is trying to do. They're trying to figure out how much of this meta stuff can we separate, and how much of this hard core, we consider really personal information, we keep behind encryption? That's their go-to-defense. If somebody is asking for the keys, they can say, no. We can't do anything, It’s on the client's side, and we're just as lost as you are. It does open up that chasm between the two philosophies. On the one hand, we protect your privacy; on the other hand, we need to disrupt your privacy in order to make money.
Leo: Well, I'm excited about Windows 10. Microsoft got its mojo back. By the way, the Windows insider program allows anybody to download it. If you Google Windows Insider program, they are offering you the latest build of ten. You probably shouldn't install it on your production machine, although those who have are using it.
Harry: A lot of the stuff they showed won't be available in this preview. It will come out over the next few months.
Leo: They say, "Join the Windows Insider Program and be among the millions of PC experts and IT pros around the world who are helping shape Windows 10. If, however, you think an ISO is some kind of yoga pose, this program may not be right for you."
Christina: But they do give it to you as an ISO, not as an EXE, which is so nice thank God. Half the time, they don't if you're trying to install it in a virtual machine you're out of luck. They do actually let you download it as an ISO.
Leo: Virtual box, all of them will handle that ISO very easily, and it's the easiest way to do it. Probably that's the best way, I would say. Do it on a virtual machine, you're not going to corrupt your—
Harry: You can install it on your Mac.
Leo: Yeah. On your Mac. So cool. We have a copy floating around somewhere. I have to borrow it and install it. Cortana, a new interface, the desktop is back. What else is new and of interest in Windows 10? The new notifications thing?
Steve: Spartan, yeah.
Leo: Let's talk about the Spartan project. What are you interested in?
Steve: I was interested in the phone aspect of it. They were kind of freaking out about it and they showed a lot of cool stuff, but I really don't think it's going to solve the big problem, which is Apps.
Leo: It might.
Steve: They claimed that. And they say it's the same thing. Apps run everywhere, but are you really going to see Snapchat start picking an app for a desktop or a tablet just so they can get on the phone so they can plug in some user base? I don't think so. Mobile apps are way different than they are on desktop.
Leo: I guess you're right. They come—people who are already writing for Windows desktop will be benefitting because they will write once and it can run on X-box an don phones and on tablets. You're right, if you're a mobile developer, there's not much incentive for you to go to Windows for your phone.
Steve: Exactly. It's not going to make Instagram start taking Windows phone seriously. You look at Instagram's desktop product, it's just a crappy web site that you go and scan through your photos. It's going to be like that with so many other mobile developers.
Leo: Even now, Instagram did come out for Windows phone. It’s like the last version of Instagram. It's not the most recent. You're not really getting the full Instagram experience. I have my 1520, which I think is a great phone, the Lumia 1520—
Christina: It's so big!
Leo: I like big phones. Six inches is just right for me. But you're a smaller person. I'm a large man. I don't know how big you are, Christina. I've never met you in person. Oh yes I have.
Christina: We have. I'm 5'4.
Leo: So you wouldn't want a phone that's bigger than your head.
Leo: But me, it's just a small portion of my cheek structure. It's not bad. Anyway, I love the 1520. Great camera. I love it that I'm going to be able to put Windows 10 on it this fall when it comes out for free. That's great. Boy, you just burst my bubble Steve, because I was excited that maybe more apps would come along, but you're right. If you're a mobile developer, nothing has changed.
Steve: It makes no sense, and those are the apps people want.
Leo: That's what's missing.
Harry: Windows phone is still in a tight spot and it's hard to figure out what Microsoft could do to get it out.
Leo: It's so good though. I have to say, it's elegant—if it had the number of apps that Android or IOS had, I think it would be a very credible contender, don’t you?
Leo: Makes me cry.
Harry: It is sad, because I think generally speaking with technology it does well. That doesn't seem to be true with Smartphones yet.
Leo: Harry, you've been in this business long enough to know that's absolutely not true. I could think of a hundred technologies that were better than what we're—BOS. I could think of a hundred things that were better but didn't have the marketing or whatever—
Harry: There are tons of things that were technologically superior, but when you build something that's a better experience for a consumer, which I don't think BOS was, they tend to do well.
Leo: This one is.
Harry: Arguably, yeah. But there may be room for only two major mobile operating systems.
Leo: It was too late. Nothing wrong with it, just too late.
Harry: The best thing they ever did was to have a reasonably modern mobile operating system before Microsoft did.
Leo: I think Microsoft should do what the new CEO of Blackberry did and ask for legislation—did you see that?
Christina: Oh my god. Yes.
Steve: That was so ridiculous.
Christina: That was the most insane thing I ever heard in my life. Way to stay relevant.
Steve: I roasted him this week in a post. That was so out o line.
Leo: John Chan is the new CEO of Blackberry; he's calling for "App neutrality." He says, "It's unfair that developers pick and choose which platform they develop for." That they should be required to develop for Blackberry because....? I don't know why.
Christina: I think Elle, and the other one, Jim, they were funny. But they would say idiotic thing. They would say dumb things. They would cry on the BBC and say, "Get the camera out of my face!" But this has to be the dumbest thing any Blackberry CEO has ever said, and that's a really strong statement to make. But can you imagine, a Canadian company asking the US government to mandate that App developers make apps for their crappy platform that no one wants?
Leo: He wants to close the app gap. He says, "Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open, and non-discriminatory Internet, and that is why I ask you members of the United States Congress to pass a law that everybody has to develop for Blackberry." He says we do it. We develop for everybody. Windows, I'm sure somebody at Microsoft said, Gosh. If we could only get Google to develop for Windows phone we'd be happy.
Christina: Seriously. By the way, Blackberry, BBM for IOS is terrible. BBM for Android is terrible. So maybe don't talk up your cross-platform strategy when your apps still look like Blackberry 10 versions of apps on the other operating system and barely work.
Leo: He's desperate. The poor guy.
Harry: It's possible that the goal was not for anybody to take this seriously. The goal was to get attention.
Christina: Isn't there a better way to get attention than to remind people that you still exist after the failed Samsung rumor by being like, and this is why no one should buy you, because you say insane things like this. Seriously, he made the guy that failed to find 4 NHL teams seam like the same Blackberry CEO.
Harry: When Apple originally released Facetime, Steve Jobs explained they were going to open the standards so it would be on every device, and they never followed through with that. And it would be a better world if they had.
Leo: Becky Worley who was on TWIT at the time was at the Apple event. Steve Jobs ran her through the demo booth and she's got her camera phone out. Mr. Jobs, Mr. Jobs: When are you going to make Face Time open? She never got invited to another Apple event. Not talking about that. That was a great moment. Thank you, Becky Worley. We're going to take a break. When we come back, more from the Microsoft Windows 10 announcement. They surprised everybody. Sure, Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10, and then, Oh. By the way. The new future of user interface. How about this? Pretty impressive. We'll talk about hollow lens in just a second. We've got a brand new sponsor for our show this week. it's LD Products: the ink and toner experts. When you need high quality printer ink and toner cartridges, LD products. They do sell the manufacturing cartridges, but better yet, get the quality LD alternatives. Some products as much as 75% off OEM. They've been in business for 15 years since 1999. They're customer certified, a Google trusted store. One million orders a year, and you can talk to a real person to figure out what kind of toner or ink you need. The customer service department is so nice. They talk to you like you're speaking to the CEO's mom. I could help you with that. 7 days a week from their US based call center, all their products risk-free with a two year 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed, so if you've been thinking, maybe I should save. You know what they're thinking. The printer manufacturers give away the printer, and then they get you on the ink. Well if you want to save a little money, if you don't want to have to play that game, this is a great game. If you're nervous at all with that customer satisfaction guaranteed for 2 years, you don't have to worry. Buying LD cartridges helps the environment. it keeps oils, plastics, wastes out of our landfill. They operate from a platinum LED, a lead certified building in Long Beach. These guys really do care about the environment. 100 thousand platinum certified building in long beach. Wow. That's where their call center, their warehouse, and the headquarters are. LD products, your printer needs a covered re-manufactured compatible brand name products. To get 10% off ink and toner plus free shipping, excluding OEM, go to LD products.com/twit and enter the offer code TWIT. Find out what kind of cartridges you need. We've been using them. We've been using this instead of the HP laser toner. 10% off ldproducts.com/twit. Don't forget to use the offer code TWIT. We thank them for their support. So you got to—I know when we were watching the press conference, and they bring out the hollow lens, which look like wrap-around sunglasses all the way around your head, at first I thought this was so they get a lot of attention. This is like announcing the surface table. This is so USA today will lead with this. But this isn't a serious product. But as I'm watching, and as I'm talking to people like Harry who actually use it, what did you think?
Harry: A couple of disclaimers: One of which is we didn't get to try the thing they showed on stage—the wrap around. But we tried the development version, which is essentially a harness that goes on your head. You have a box, which you wear around your neck. A lot of the coolness looks like it was in the Industrial design. Also, I wear glasses. I have progressive lenses and I have a really wide head, so when I wore the harness, it jammed my glasses like this. It looked blurry to me. I asked the folks in my little group of journalists who don't wear glasses; they said it looked razor sharp.
Leo: Paul and Mary Joe were blown away. They said it looks better than in the video.
Harry: I was pretty close to blown away even with the issues I had. It was pretty amazing. The demo they had that was based on Minecraft with their little buildings—
Leo: I want that.
Harry: Sitting around the conference room where they did the demo. You could use explosives to blow up the coffee table in the conference room.
Leo: Minecraft alone sells it to me. You now understand why Microsoft might buy Minecraft. So this is not like Oculus Rift.
Harry: No. It's hi-bred because you can still see what's around you.
Leo: What they call augmented reality instead of virtual reality.
Harry: It's not like Google glass and it's not like Rift even though some of the technologies are similar.
Leo: Some people said this is just a better Google glass. Google Glass is not this. It's a screen above your eyebrow that you look at. This you're looking through the lenses and you're seeing a virtual world superimposed on it.
Harry: And you're not out and about interacting with human beings when you're using this.
Leo: I'm guessing that battery life won't be an issue because you'll be connected most of the time. I would guess.
Harry: Maybe, although one of the big deals about it is there is an entire Windows 10 Computer in this wrap around thing so you don't need to be connected.
Leo: They show this very briefly in the video. Mary Joe said she really liked this idea. Repairs. So you've got the vizer on, and you're saying that I need to fix my plumbing, you can have an expert superimposed on the thing you're fixing. Directions.
Harry: One of the demos involved installing a light switch, which I did. There was a Skype call where you had someone taking you through. And he was able to write an overlay on top of the light switch to show you what was what.
Leo: I should mention that NASA scientists are walking on Mars to help direct the Curiosity Rover.
Harry: We saw that demo too.
Leo: So this would be virtual reality in the sense that you're not seeing any of the real world.
Harry: Some of it is kind of highbred because you could see your desktop PC.
Leo: But when you're on Mars, your vision of the world is blocked by Mars, right?
Harry: In the demo we saw it was 80% Mars and 20% visible. Part of it involved still using a desktop PC.
Leo: One of the things that I like about this—the thing that makes me nervous when I put on Oculus Rift, is somebody could just come up behind me and hit me in the head. You can't see anything. You're really vulnerable when you're wearing virtual reality headsets. This, you're seeing the world and this is just superimposing a user Interface or a model or Minecraft on the world. Or just a big screen TV. I feel like this could be the future of UI.
Steve: This is the same thing that company that Google has mysteriously dumped 500 million dollars into. If you look at their patents, it's almost exactly what we saw from Microsoft. This is going to be very similar. A lot of people are betting this augmented—the virtual reality thing Oculus is quite different. It's more for gaming and entertainment. This is a computing platform; this is a real thing that could potentially replace desktops and mobile devices and so forth. That's pretty exciting that we got to really see it for the first time, and we saw it from Microsoft of all companies.
Harry: And they managed to keep it secret.
Leo: As many as a thousand people knew about it. They had different project code names given to different groups so if it leaked they would know which group leaked it, but it didn't leak.
Harry: I got the sense talking to people who did the demos for us that some people only knew the aspect they had worked on. If you asked them any question that was off script, they seemed clueless. I think that might have been genuine rather than them continuing to keep secrets.
Leo: There's a few problems I can see. One thing, user interface that requires your hands held out in front of you is limited in the amount of time—that's tiring. But, I feel like this is the first new user interface I've seen in years that has promise. We've seen a lot of things. I had the Leap motion thing where you—eh. Google Glass—eh. None of that stuff really sold me. This really, and people have tried it—this is more than a gimmick.
Harry: You can also use it with a keyboard and mouse if that's preferable.
Leo: I think you would in many cases.
Harry: There's certain things, like beta demo of sculpting 3D objects where using your hands made total sense.
Leo: Is this a gimmick, Christina?
Christina: I don't think it is. I think execution is obviously going to be really important in having that killer app right out of the gate. I was reading something that someone who had worked at Connect and Microsoft mentioned that it's scary when people say I can't wait for developers to get their hands on this, because the answer should be that you already have products that exist without developers—that can be sold on the basis of first party apps and experiences that come out of the gate with something. I think that's an important thing to keep in mind, but I don't think that this is a gimmick. I think that Sony companies have been investing in virtual reality, augmented reality, future stuff, and Microsoft has come out of the gate, and just the demos we've seen—people have come away really impressed. People who went in skeptical were really impressed. How long this will take, and what the potential is, I don't know. But I think the potential is real, I don't think this is just a gimmick as long as out of the gate there can be a use case that makes itself apparent, and not just let's wait for people to build stuff for it. I also think, unlike Google Glass that was we're going to force people to wear this all the time and be out in public with it, and become an extension of yourself, Microsoft is saying this is something you use indoors. This is something you use for certain experiences; it's not something you use all the time. Down the line, the goal might be eventually it becomes something that you want to have at all times, but it's not as if they're selling this as part of your life style has to be revolving around these glasses.
Leo: In fact, at no point in any of the demos or videos do they show anybody outside the house.
Christina: No. Exactly. I think putting it in those contexts and putting it in those—this is why you're using this, this is why this will make things better. It really gives rationale for why you're putting this thing on your face to begin with. Not just, I'm going to walk around with this on and everybody is going to love me or think I'm a total douchebag. I think it makes it a lot easier to potentially adopt something if you can see it as a segmented part of your life.
Leo: Imagine that on your motorcycle. Unlike the Oculus Rift, you could drive with these on and get valuable information in your surroundings. I think you're quoting Peter Mullin—It's great to look at this stuff, but you've got to get somebody to develop software that works like this. This is nothing that we've ever seen before. This is all from scratch.
Harry: it is kind of incumbent on Microsoft to do that. One of the issues with 8 was they put out an all-new computing experience and failed to build everything themselves. We still don't have the full version of Windows Microsoft Office.
Leo: They actually show that at this event.
Harry: Five years after Windows 8—
Christina: After the iPad version.
Harry: I think on day one, when this thing is available, there have to be some Microsoft applications, which are really compelling.
Leo: I bet you, I think it would be sufficient knowing quite a few 12-year-olds, that if they did Minecraft, they would be done. They would sell a lot of these. How many of you guys Minecraft? If you could do this, you put on the thing instead of going like this with your hammer hand, you could draw. If you look at this picture, if you go up to that fireplace and look through, there's another room that you're looking into. If you bend down and look through the windows of these houses, there's things in there. Now, Microsoft buying Minecraft makes a lot of sense, frankly.
Christina: I think if you could do Minecraft, if you could do Auto-cad, and if you could do something with Skype, that might be enough for an early product.
Leo: Most 12-year-olds don't have $1000 to pay for a hallow lens.
Steve: Mom and Dad do though.
Leo: All you have to do is tell Daddy that there's bikini ridge content, tell mommy—we'll have to think of what you tell mom to get her excited—
Christina: Bikini ridge content? Let’s be equal opportunity.
Leo: Ok. Mommy likes that too.
Christina: Mommy likes men in bikinis.
Leo: Ryan Gosling is in there. Somewhere. Look around. I feel like Minecraft isn't enough in the sense that the constituency for Minecraft probably—this has got to cost a thousand bucks. I think about myself. I would pay a thousand bucks for this.
Harry: I think Glass was as expensive as it was to discourage early adopters from buying it.
Leo: I would spend a thousand bucks for this. I would.
Harry: One of the things that Microsoft didn't talk about was how the technology works. You can see there's some cameras in there.
Leo: This is from the Connect Vision, right? So there's some Connect stuff in there.
Harry: The guy behind us was also the buy behind Connect.
Leo: So, what do you think Steve? Are you going to get in line?
Steve: I'm definitely going to try it out at least. My colleague also saw the event. He wrote this in his hands on experience and he was telling me, "I haven't seen anything this transformative since I first touched an iPhone."
Leo: That's how I feel.
Steve: So that got me super excited. I've tried Oculus; I've gotten that wow factor. I don't see it as a computing platform. I see it as more entertainment and social and gaming of course. This is everything. This is gaming, this is productivity. This is really close. I think another interesting this is that this is the first time we're seeing Microsoft show us something in the experimental phase. It's very Google. Google showed us Glass and self-driving cars and they showed us all these crazy products that they're working on that will never come out and to see Microsoft do that is really interesting. You know, other companies like Apple, they never show their hand. You've got to bet that they've got something similar in their R and D labs, but if we ever do see it, we won't see t till it's 100% finished, there's a price, there are apps and software and it's perfectly polished. It's cool to see Microsoft get messy with this thing.
Leo: I feel like by keeping it secret for six years they got the jump on some other companies.
Christina: I think they totally got the jump. I think what's really impressive is that talking with Lance on Wednesday after the event, the experience felt really solid. A lot more finished than he expected. The hardware is still in the prototype phase, but the experience, the software seems solid. That's encouraging to me, because that's what is going to make or break this will be how well the software works. It's great that they are able to get these demos out for journalists. Obviously they will have to work in the real world beyond that. But if they are able to come to the Market with something that can work, that actually doesn't seem buggy as hell and actually has a solid chance of being able to do something, I think they have a humungous advantage and a humungous leap ahead of everybody in this particular space.
Harry: My experience was buggy. There were a few instances where it didn't work, but they have to be close to done with this, because they said that it will ship in the same time frame as Windows 10, which means this year.
Leo: This fall.
Harry: So they have to be really close, and they have to have other stuff figured out which they didn't tell us about. I assume there will be an event where they lay out all the details.
Leo: The event you want to go to is at the end of April, which is Microsoft build, which is their developer’s conference. I would guess that's where the other shoe will drop on this. Maybe even they put a few of these under the seat. Because, if you want to get—you do need developers to write this stuff.
Christina: You do. This is just anecdotal, but developers that I've talked to who have been not interested at all, including my husband for building anything for Microsoft Platform, I got him watching it and he doesn't really pay attention to the news events. He was watching it and was like I want to build for this immediately. There were a number of developers I spoke to who were saying the same thing. Whether it's the euphoria of this or not—that was not the reaction I got from Google Glass. There was more of that with the Oculus, but most of that was gaming related. This, I think you see a lot of different disciplines of people who build software who see a lot of opportunities. I don't want to draw the iBook analogy too close, because I think it's a different thing. But kind of the same way you saw a bunch of people who never saw themselves wanting to do all the work for Mac OSX 10 were interested in the iPhone. Microsoft has the potential of bringing in people who might not be interested in developing for Windows 10 but would be interested in developing for Hallow Lens.
Leo: I have to say, I was never impressed with Oculus Rift. I bought the KickStarter because I believe in VR and I want VR to be real. There was a little whoa and a little nausea. I always thought that augmented reality, not virtual reality was the way to go. I always wanted a heads up display. Maybe it's that paranoia about being hit in the back of the head, but I feel like people don't want to isolate themselves from the world. They want to superimpose information and data upon the world. It feels like such a natural way to do this. I know none of you are developers, but I'm curious what are developers thinking. What is your husband thinking? How hard is this going to be to developed for?
Christina: That's going to be the big question, right? Who knows? They're making it seem like you could take Windows 10 App and adapt it for this sort of environment. That might be true to a certain extent, but that's going to require people to start thinking in different dimensions. But that's exciting, because for the first time you're talking about this, it seems like the first UI we've seen in decades—so that's really exciting if you're thinking about how do I now approach user interface? Or how do I approach how to get something done? That opens up a tremendous amount of opportunity for people.
Leo: Harry, you and I are old enough to remember the stumbles that we saw when people first tried to develop for the Mouse. It takes a few years before people get it.
Harry: Yeah. The Mouse was invented in the late 60's and it was the mid 80's or even a little bit beyond before it was widely used.
Leo: And it wasn't great, frankly until the Macintosh came out.
Harry: People were still making fun of Mice in the late 80's. People were saying they were silly.
Leo: Dvorak. I don't hear a lot of people saying it's silly. A lot of times at keynotes there is this buzz, not just Steve Jobs, but in general. I often come off of keynotes excited and jazzed for the future. So, I'm trying to parce this and think is this just a little bit of reality distortion? Or is this genuinely something people will develop for that will be genuinely useful? I do feel like when people like Lance Eulenoff say that, when people like Harry say it that there's something here. My gut is that this is something very exciting. As the meme says, shut up and take my money. Can they make this for a thousand bucks, Harry?
Harry: My guess is it might be less than that.
Harry: Again, it's hard to know.
Leo: It's a VC, right?
Harry: We don't know much about the components inside it.
Leo: What is the technology project that? Is it projecting on the lens?
Harry: It's proejcting on the lens, and there's some sort of cameras basically understand the surfaces in the room, and they can see that there's a table here and it should project the Minecraft building on top of that table.
Leo: Do you remember the weird demo that got me so excited with X-Box One of the Illuma room that Microsoft did? This feels like the Illuma room, like maybe they were teasing us. The idea was that maybe you would be watching your Xbox and they would have a little device projecting whatever was on the screen out into the room so it was peripheral projected illusions. I'm wondering if this was Microsoft going you like this? Wouldn't it be cool if it were more vivid and self-contained and real? Because this feels like the Illuma room a little only better.
Steve: Way better.
Leo: Way better. So when you're not projected, are you looking through sunglasses? How dark are those lenses?
Harry: They do seem to impact how bright the stuff around you is.
Leo: Did you feel like the frame rate was fast or did it even matter? Unlike an Oculus Rift where frame rate is everything, you're still looking at a full frame rate room.
Harry: Frame rate was good. It's a little bit hard to describe. There's a little rectangle in front of your eyes. So if there's something going on over here I have to turn my head so that space is in the rectangle. It's not trying to render— it's not rendering everything around you all at once, it's rendering the stuff right in front of your eyes.
Leo: I feel like interacting—there must be cameras seeing your hands, because your hands can tap and point—
Harry: You can hold up your hand like this and go like that and that's a mouse click. You have to be pretty precise about it.
Leo: So here's one negative, because anybody that's ever used Kinnect with X Box, and this whole thing where you go— it is so frustrating.
Harry: But it also has voice input, which seemed to work well.
Leo: Very intrigued. All right, we're going to take a break. Come back with whatever is left from the Microsoft announcement. There was a big ass TV. The surface hub, we're talking about that. Any other impressions you got from the Microsoft demo on Wednesday. Lots more tech news. Harry McCracken is here, the Technologizer from Fast Company. Great to have you back, Harry. Christina Warren who is the Film girl at film girl. She's at mashable.com. I loved your video of trying to get the iPhone six caught in your hair. I loved that. I can't do it now, my hair is too short.
Christina: We couldn't do it. We tried. We couldn't get it done.
Leo: You've been doing some great videos. What was the other one where you were eating—what was that?
Christina: I chugged a Surge on camera.
Leo: It was that horrible power drink! And you had your colleagues do it too!
Christina: They were all wusses and I chugged it in one shot.
Leo: You were very impressive. Much time spent chugging things, I guess.
Christina: Soda, yes. I drink way too much carbonated soda, what can I say?
Leo: Stay away from that stuff.
Christina: I know. I need to stay away from it. It's bad.
Leo: Watch me chug Surge. Also, here's the video. Also here is Steve Kovach from businessinsder.com @stevekovach. Surge is back. What was Surge, by the way? It's Mountain Dew.
Christina: It's more like citrusy sprite. It was a Coca Cola product that came out in 1997 and was pulled until 2002, and it's back now. You can buy it directly from Amazon, and we ordered some.
Leo: Should we buy some?
Christina: Yes. It's pretty good. It's not bad. So they start cutting in, everybody else is drinking it and complaining, and then they show me drinking.
Leo: She powers it down. Don't you—you didn't stop. You didn't breathe. You didn't put it in a glass. Nothing.
Leo: Look at you go. You're going to drown.
Christina: I'm going to drown.
Leo: Look at her eyes. They're getting bigger.
Christina: It was hurting at that point because it was so carbonated.
Leo: Next time, on the forehead, OK?
Christina: I did that in one take. My face was looking like that, I was afraid if I opened my mouth I was about to throw up.
Leo: Yeah. That's right. Our show to you today brought to you by CitRix GoToMeeting, the way to meet with clients and coworkers. Sometimes, you don't want to be in the same room with your clients and coworkers, especially if they just powered a whole Surge down. The way we work today with people, they're not in the same room. Clients, vendors, coworkers—they're not in the same office. They're not in the same city of the same country. But you don't want to travel and waste the time or the money. Communicating by phone or e-mail—it's not personal. Citrix GoToMeeting is personal. It's the best way to meet from the convenience of your computer, your Smartphone, your tablet. It's used all over the world. You pay one low flat rate and hold as many meetings as you need as long as you want anywhere in one virtual space. Turn on webcams to see each other with high def video conferencing, you will engage and connect as if you were in the same room. We use it every meeting. We love it. Try GoToMeeting for free right now for 30 days. Visit gotomeeting.com, all you have to do is click that orange try it free button and you have 30 days free of GoToMeeting. You don't even need to give them a credit card. I think this is the kind of thing—you can bet the folks at Citrix are getting Hollow lens and this is the kind of thing that would be amazing to put on a Hollow Lens and see people in the meeting and see the screen. Can't do that yet, but soon. gotomeeting.com. Try it free for 30 days, we thank them for their support of TWIT. Anything else? What about—do we care about the Surface Hub? It looked kind of cool.
Harry: It might be the sleeper.
Leo: Interesting. This is the pixel screen that they bought—84 inches.
Harry: Build in Windows 10 computer, touch screen, somewhat tweaked version of Windows 10. Special pens that let you take notes like a white board. It automatically sends all of those notes to everybody who was in the meeting. Very easy sharing of your computer.
Leo: But you can't watch TV on it. It seems like such a waste. Does it have Netflix?
Christina: I was going to say, if it has Netflix, then I'm OK with it.
Leo: It doesn't. You can't watch TV on it.
Harry: It's an Office productivity thing.
Leo: You can't have people watching Netflix—
Christina: You can watch Netflix in our office!
Leo: What do you watch?
Christina: I don't know. Something like Bob's burgers. I love Bob's Burgers. I'm going to see it live. They're doing a live show with the cast.
Leo: You should sit in as Louise! Wear your hat.
Christina: I will wear my hat. I missed out on getting New York tickets, but we're going to be taking the train to Washington DC because I want to go that badly.
Leo: Insane. I know quite a few people who would do live Bob's burgers. Back to the Surface Hub. You can't watch Bob's Burgers on it, but you could design a future chair.
Christina: You could design a future cartoon series.
Leo: But aren't there a million things like this in this world now? I've seen screens like this—we have some at tech TV like this.
Harry: Over the years there have been a variety of them. This is a product that it makes sense for Microsoft to use. From the hardware to the operating system to the services, it's integrated. They tweaked the Windows interface for this. Is that yawn a symbol of your reaction?
Leo: Yes. But I'm not an Enterprise guy. I do think it's interesting that Windows 10 can be modified to fit different situations.
Harry: Right. A little tweak, like the start menu appears in the middle of the screen, so you don't need to flail around to hit stuff.
Leo: I have to say; I've seen a lot of these where they are using stock Windows. That is not a good solution.
Harry: that's what they've done for years and it's not so cool. This also reminded me of the original Surface Table, speaking of Microsoft things. It looked like they could be game changing and turned out not to be, when that came out—
Christina: Well those things were $40,000.
Leo: This is not cheap.
Harry: This won't be cheap either. They haven't said yet, but the perceptive pixel versions of these, which don't have built in computers—
Leo: Isn't that what Shepherd Smith is using?
Steve: Giant iPad, yeah.
Leo: That weird thing—let me see if we can find the picture of it. It looks like he's got little gnomes working on iPads. I don't know. All I can find is Gawker articles about Shepherd Smith now. Man. One scandal and you're over. Those are perceptive pixels, right? I think they are.
Steve: Or something similar.
Leo: What's funny is the UI is not shrunk down. It's not— it's weird. It's big.
Harry: The software around this looks pretty natural.
Leo: This is better. The Hub is better than this. We've got to replace these—
Steve: It does look like they've shrunk the people.
Leo: Gnomes on iPads. We mentioned Spartan; we need to talk about this. I'm not clear at exactly how different this is. It's still using the same engine that Internet Explorer is, the trident rendering engine, so it won't be under the hood any different than Internet Explorer, so we're just talking about a new UI?
Christina: And a new brand.
Leo: And a new name, more importantly, because IE isn't the quality brand it used to be.
Christina: To their detriment, I think IE 11 is a pretty good browser. People who have used it (I have) it performs the standards pretty well. The problem is that a lot of developers don't want to bother with IE, a lot of users don't want to bother. You say IE, I think IE 6 or 7. So maybe it is best to do a scorcher thing and come out with something new, and let people know what we've been working on all this time is really good. I think this will be a big deal but it’s not part of the preview. And it didn’t really give us much information about it. The first time Microsoft has introduced a browser not called Internet Explorer, that’s a big deal.
Leo: Although this is the code name, Spartan.
Christina: The code name, that’s true.
Harry: They have not officially announced what this thing will be called.
Leo: I don’t see them naming it Spartan. That conjures up a half-naked man with a beard.
Christina: It does.
Leo: Halo? Cortana is from Halo. Spartan is from Halo. But maybe call it Halo. No.
Steve: That’d be cool. I kind of like that.
Leo: Master Chief.
Steve: It’s a whole rebranding thing. Like we already said, IE has this terrible reputation now. No matter how good it might be. And also in Windows 8 and 8.1, it’s confusing. You have two Internet Explorers. One for the desktop mode and one for touch.
Leo: That’s got to go.
Steve: That’s awful, yea. Based on the demo we got earlier this week, it doesn’t really do much. You can doodle on it, sketch or something. And it syncs with Cortana. Other than that, it’s just a browser. I think it’s just a branding thing. And saying we’re moving beyond the flubby IE. Kind of like they did with Hotmail when they made it into Outlook. That’s all it is.
Leo: They should call it the covenant.
Christina: Someone in the chat said call it Mosaic. That’s funny.
Leo: That is funny. I think Microsoft owns that trade name. Didn’t they buy it?
Christina: I think they did because they bought the whole Mosaic team.
Harry: IE was based on Mosaic technology.
Leo: They bought it so they probably own the name. It’s Mosaic. It’s a good name. It’s traditional, a traditional name. That’d be interesting. Microsoft not traditionally great with naming.
Harry: HoloLens, that name is probably the worst thing about the product.
Leo: It’s so bad. It sounds like TSLE, the holo-man. It sounds like something’s wrong. Then they keep saying holographic. That’s not holographic.
Steve: No, it’s not a hologram.
Harry: Holograms involve lasers.
Leo: There’s no lasers. Although that would be cool. Can I get a head-mounted laser with my HoloLens? Now how much would you pay?
Steve: They keep calling it a hologram. You don’t need goggles to see a hologram. Holograms are visible with the naked eye and that’s not what this is.
Christina: Don’t ruin our fun, Steve. I look forward to having the gem and the hologram song play every single time I get my HoloLens. That’s all I want. Showtime synergy.
Leo: They also keep coming up with names that they get sued over, like SkyDrive.
Leo: Metro. They put a lot of energy into these naming and then someone comes along and says no, we’re a department store in Germany. You can’t use it. And it’s like oh, okay. Are we excited about Mobile World Congress? It’s coming up next month; we’re about a month away from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We’re excited about Barcelona. I’m excited about that. You going to go? You get to go?
Steve: I’ll be there.
Leo: Mike Elgin is going to be there for our team. And we’re going to send a camera crew. So we will have live coverage, well it won’t be live because it’s nine hours later. And we’re in California. So we’ll have coverage at the end of the day in our morning broadcast. Do you get to go, Christina?
Christina: I’m not going this year. I have in the past but not this year.
Leo: It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?
Christina: It’s a cool show. It’s a very cool event. It’s a big phone show. What I like is it’s truly like a mobile world congress. The international presence is so big. In our North American bubble, we often forget about these huge companies that slowly take over things. And it’s really nice to get the perspective of Asia and Europe and other parts of the world that usually we kind of ignore.
Leo: Well and we didn’t see much phone action at CES. I think because of Mobile World Congress.
Leo: Are you going to Barcelona?
Harry: I am not going. But I think it really is the most important single big trade show.
Leo: It has become now the big show.
Harry: CES still matters but not as much as Mobile World Congress. Because phones are the single most important device.
Leo: Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy S6, the next generation of its flagship phone. Some rumors that they weren’t going to use a Qualcomm chip in it. That they might use their own. In fact internationally Samsung often uses their own XNOS chip. But in the U.S. they’ve been using Qualcomm. Latest rumor is that Qualcomm is in fact developing a special version of the 810, their 64-bit processor, Snap Dragon processor for the Galaxy S6. Also rumors that it will be less touch-whizzy. Nobody will cry about that, that’s Samsung’s customization on Android. Every generation of Samsung phone most recently the Note 4 has been less and less touch-wiz. More and more stock Android and I would love to see it move in that direction.
Harry: And maybe a better touch sensor as opposed to the one on the S5. Their take on the touch ID which was terrible.
Leo: Oh the fingerprint thing, that’s awful.
Harry: You have to slide and be very precise.
Leo: I have a Note 4 which I love. And I have to see that even with the wonky fingerprint reader, that’s better than entering a password. And you can use it in a lot of places where you enter a password. But yea, it’s like a pill, oval-shape and you have to slide your finger on it. You can do only three fingers and almost every time you have to do it two or three times, right? Oh tilt your finger a little more that way, this way. And you contrast that with touch ID which works so well. But doesn’t Apple have the patents? Can Samsung make it better?
Steve: I’ve heard from people at Samsung that part of the problem is the patents and they have to find some kind of workaround with software. But Apple has that AuthenTec technology.
Leo: They bought AuthenTec! A great move!
Christina: Very smart.
Harry: Synaptics is a company that has a lot of technology too. Samsung has been working with them.
Leo: It’s the Samsung touch sensor that’s the same kind of thing that you saw on Lenovo’s. We’ve seen these for years. You swipe it. And it was such a revelation when Apple released touch ID. And you just lightly place your finger on it and you don’t have to move it. And it almost always knows it’s you.
Steve: And it’s gotten better. Touch ID on the software level, they’ve been able to make it so much better on iOS; that’s amazing to me. Compared to what it was like a year, year and a half ago.
Christina: So I don’t know if anybody else does this, Steve and I are both about to face the brutal snow. I have trained a few of my passive touch gloves. Yes, I’ve used the glove fingers and have trained them to work with touch ID.
Leo: You can’t do that!
Leo: What do you mean? You wear the same glove each time?
Leo: There’s no whirls and swirls in your glove.
Christina: I’m not sure how it works but I’ve been able to get it to work and it’s awesome.
Leo: That seems like it undermines your security a little bit.
Christina: It might but I don’t care because it just means I don’t have to… it’s awesome to put my little thumb on it. Fantastic.
Leo: It’s so funny, there are so many people that don’t really get why Apple Pay is a good idea. There are so many stores where you use… well John just experienced that. Where was that it happened to you?
Leo: Lucky store, a grocery store here in California. He used his touch ID and it first said credit or debit. Because I guess you used a debit card. It’s not like touch and go. Then it’s going to say well okay, do you want credit or debit. He said debit. Okay, now what’s your PIN? So that’s not much… do you want cash back? It’s not much better than… and now there’s a lawmaker in Missouri who says he wants to make a law in Missouri that you have to show ID when you use Apple touch ID. You have to show your driver’s license otherwise the merchant will be held responsible.
Christina: Oh for crack’s sake.
Leo: For crack’s sake. For crying out loud. Representative Joshua Peters of St. Louis requires customers to show a state’s driver’s license or other identification when they use a mobile wallet app or other electronic payment system. We just want to make sure it’s you! You could be using a glove instead of your fingerprint.
Christina: This is true. You could be.
Leo: I think when you use your glove and it works, they should haul you in. And they should take DNA to make sure it’s you. I think part of this though, you got to figure. There’s a little bit of lobbying from merchants who say but with touch ID we don’t know who it is. We would really like to know who you are. And in fact, this bill will record the driver’s license number in a database.
Christina: Oh that’s nice. That’s nice for a politician to really care so much about our transactions. I was going to say thank you so much Mr. Missouri guy. I really appreciate it. Joshua what’s your face, thank you.
Leo: Walmart got to them.
Christina: Yea, I think so. I think we should look to see who his main contributors are.
Steve: He donates to XCM lobbyists.
Leo: MHTC is expected to announce a new device at Mobile World Congress to replace the very beautiful, highly-reviewed M8. You can no longer get a Google Play edition of the M8 on the Google store. Which means there is no longer any GPE version of any non-Nexus device on the Google Play store. That’s kind of sad. But maybe I’m hoping this is preparatory for a new Samsung phone. A new HTC phone. I wonder what HTC can do though. Phones are like pretty close to perfect aren’t they? More battery life?
Christina: Yea. That’s the big thing. More battery life.
Leo: I don’t know what else.
Steve: That’s the shame about HTC.
Leo: Why is that?
Steve: The shame about HTC is they make such good stuff that probably…
Leo: Shame that nobody buys it, yea!
Steve: Yea! They’re better than Samsung. It depends… I think they’re better than Motorola too, the Moto X. And no one’s buying it, it’s ridiculous. It’s so sad. I meet with these companies all the time. HTC has such focus and such a great vision and nobody buys into it. They’re losing out, I really think Samsung ate their lunch by out-spending them on marketing and that was that.
Leo: Well maybe now that Samsung is stumbling, there’s an opportunity. Among other things, I think one mistake HTC made with the M8 was the four-megapixel camera. And I know you can make a long case for why the ultra-pixel makes sense. But people just go no. I just want a 13-megapixel or better camera. According to rumors, the M9, which will be announced at Mobile World Congress or maybe even sooner, will in fact have a high-megapixel camera. I think the rumor I heard was 13, I don’t know. I hope it still has the boom sound. The dual speakers on the front.
Steve: I think it will. They’re saying something like that.
Leo: Somebody pointed out that’s a bad idea. Because front-firing speakers won’t have any bass. The back-firing speakers can get more resonance off the table or the background. So you’re… no? You disagree? Chris, our intern who likes his HTC One which he no longer has because it broke… he went like that. No? You disagree? John’s also crazy. Chris is crazy. We’ve got an epidemic of people going with their fingers around their head like that. I’d be very interested to see what they do with the M9 actually. I think they’ve got great designers there. Are they hanging on by a thread, Steve?
Steve: They were profitable last quarter barely. They got back in the black but I mean a big part of their strategy this year and I met with them at CES and they told me all of this on the record, they’re going to make an internet of things play. They talked a lot about Nest which I thought was interesting. They thought Nest was an interesting company because they make a few products really well. So they’re going to have some sort of appliance later this year and that’s part of a bigger play. A better camera, more…
Leo: I have the Re. I kind of like the Re. The Re is dopy because it’s not as good as your smartphone camera. It looks like a periscope. And it’s very wide-angle and there’s distortion. You got a smartphone, you don’t need a Re. You know what they did that I love? You can press a button and stream directly to YouTube live with a Re.
Steve: Oh, that’s cool.
Leo: They just added that and I actually bought a Re because of that. Like I’m going to be some kind of YouTube vlogger. Nobody wants to see me chugging anything. But I’ll show you the video because we, wow, look 260 views… I’ve been doing this in meetings and stuff. This is streamed live directly from the Re. Listen to the audio though. It’s pretty good. You press a button and it just streams. You’ve got to be careful you don’t take it in the bathroom or something. I mean, this wasn’t the most compelling stuff I ever did. But I streamed the engineering meeting. Look at these guys. They just look bored. Oh they’re bored. Okay maybe it’s not such a good idea. Let’s take a break. We’re going to talk about Uber. They’re at it again. Verizon’s tracking cookies and a whole lot more. Box went public, big IPO. Which seems odd to me because if I were in that business I would think that my days were numbered. But maybe not. Stamps.com, folks. Let’s talk about it. This is a great product for anybody who does shipping or uses the U.S. mail for invoices, for brochures. The last thing you want when you ship something is to have a bunch of stamps on there. And then there’s not enough or you put too many so there’s not enough. Stamps.com just makes it all so much more professional. You never go to the post office. You use your computer, your printer to buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter, any package. And you just hand it to the mail man or drop it in the mail box and that’s it. That’s why half a million small businesses and we use stamps.com. You can just print right onto the envelope. It looks better, it’s easier for you. You get discounts you can’t even get at the post office. Discounted package insurance in one click of the mouse. You don’t have to handwrite forms. That’s also kind of amateurish, right? It will print out certified mail, return receipt, international customs forms, automatically filling it out from the web. If you’re an Etsy seller or an Amazon seller or an eBay seller, this is so good for you. Stamps.com. I am just a huge fan and that’s why we’ve arranged a really great deal. A no-risk trial offer for you. Go to stamps.com, click the microphone on the upper-right-hand corner there and use our offer code TWIT for, this is $110 bonus offer. It includes $55 in free postage that you can use for your first few months at stamps.com. It includes a great USB scale so you’ll never guess at postage again and never put too much or too little on. It includes an activity kit worth $10 and the USB scale. A really cool thing. And of course a month of stamps.com. All of that when you go to stamps.com, click the mic, use the promo code TWIT. Stamps.com. Stop going to the post office, start looking more professional. Stamps.com. We had a great week on TWiT this week. If you missed any of it, we’ve taken it all, we’ve taken a week’s 30 shows, 50 hours’ worth of great programming. And we boiled it down in this one-minute reel. Watch.
Previously on TWiT: At what point did the circus elephants come by? What did the Nexus 6 do to deserve this? Windows Weekly: Windows 10 is everywhere, including Xbox. This is mind-boggling. This is a big, big story for Windows Phone. They’re not dumping Windows Phone. That was a big part of this keynote. We’ve got a version of Windows that’s going to run on Windows Phone. Tech News Tonight: Let’s start with the truly important announcement: holograms! You just tried Microsoft’s HoloLens. Bloody marvelous. You can walk around the room and feel safe. Whereas with Oculus, you’ve really got to pull the peepers up and see where you’re going otherwise you’re going to trip over something. Before You Buy: It’s the Samsung Galaxy gear VR. You should sit down when you’re doing this. I can see, hey where’re you going? I even have a shadow! Holy cow! This is amazing! TWiT, technology for your eyes and ear-holes. Go to the bathroom? I just don’t think they put it inside to experience thankfully.
Leo: I just feel like somebody’s going to hit you in the head now. You can’t see what’s going on. It’s going to come up and bonk you! Does Mike Elgin have the week ahead? Let’s take a look.
Mike Elgin: Coming up this week, lots of earnings calls after a successful Windows 10 announcement event. Microsoft reports earnings tomorrow. On Tuesday, the world’s most valuable company, Apple of course, reports their earnings. On Wednesday, January 28th, we’re going to hear from Facebook and Qualcomm. And Thursday’s the truly big day with calls scheduled from Amazon, Alibaba, Google, Samsung, and Nokia. And finally on Friday, LG expects to launch its curved G-Flex 2 smartphone. That’s what’s coming up this week. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: See I like curved TVs. I feel like a curved phone conforms to your head. So I think that’s not… I had the original Flex. Anyway.
Steve: The LG G-Flex would have saved my Nexus 6.
Leo: It wouldn’t have broken like that.
Steve: It’s the curved screen, sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
Leo: Watch Tech News Today, Monday through Friday, 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern time, 1800 UTC for your daily dose of tech news. And yea, those earnings, we’ll be watching those with great interest. So this is more of a California story but Uber interesting story here… so the California Department of Motor Vehicles said if you are a Lyft or an Uber driver, you need to have a commercial license plate. And Uber’s response was to pull the drivers who got one. So Uber leases you a car in some cases. You can lease a car to kind of support your Uber habit if you want to be an Uber driver. And a number of drivers hearing from DMVs said oh well we should probably get commercial plates. And the response to that was a letter from Uber saying good morning. We’re showing your vehicle registration is actually a commercial vehicle registration. We will need you to contact the DMV and have it be a personal registration. Or you can’t drive an Uber-X. Until you do, you’re out of business. One southern California auto dealer who sold many cars through Uber’s finance program insisted each time knowing the DMV rules as registering them as commercial vehicles. Roughly a dozen Uber-X drivers called the dealership in a panic because they’d been suspended by Uber. What? It feels like, by the way, DMV now apparently is a little bit lobbying because the California Department of Vehicles is now reconsidering.
Harry: I think they said they did reconsider and that it is okay for people to have personal registration.
Leo: Shouldn’t… ugh. If you’re a taxi driver you have a commercial plate, right?
Harry: Uber’s argument is that their Uber drivers only do it for a few hours a week. And those guys shouldn’t be required to have commercial.
Leo: And of course members of the California Assembly threatened legislation over the nonsensical interpretation of the DMV if they didn’t reconsider. So they did and they backed down. So those Uber drivers get to drive. It feels to me like this is shenanigans. But okay. I guess if you only drove for a few hours. Nothing to say, huh? Do you still take an Uber, Christian?
Christina: I do. I like Uber.
Leo: All of this news and stuff…
Christina: Nah, I mean you know. I’m going to be honest, if it’s more convenient than a taxi and I can get it faster, and I’ve had good experiences, then I’m going to continue to use it.
Leo: Lisa won’t let me take an Uber. But that’s okay because we don’t have them here. Box.net, they’re not box.net anymore. I’m showing my age by calling them that.
Christina: I still call them that too. They will always be box.net.
Leo: Yea, because Box doesn’t say anything. Box.net, oh yea! They’re a cloud storage company. Went public, big, big, they gained in the price. They raised $175M in their initial public offering. Shares rose 66% at the close. So the IPO was $14. They closed the day at $23.23. So people believe in Box’s business. I have to say with OneDrive offering unlimited storage to Office subscribers, with Google and Apple dropping the price of their cloud storage; how is a third-party cloud storage company like Dropbox or Box expected to survive?
Harry: I think Box would tell you that they’re the most enterprise-centric and the only ones who are focused on business use. Even the stuff Microsoft is doing, while it’s a lot closer to what Box is doing, I still think it’s still not as quite focused on what corporate customers want out of cloud storage. And Apple of course isn’t really doing that stuff at all yet.
Leo: That’s true. But you would think Microsoft is.
Harry: You would think if they aren’t now, they will be.
Christina: It’s still sort of weirdly complicated for the number of different products with Microsoft. You’ve got SharePoint, SharePoint Servers, OneDrive, the Azure cloud thing. They don’t really have one concentrated offering. So Box is at least in a position where they can go against the SAPs and some of the Oracles and some of the other big enterprise storage companies and say we can offer this really good document system that offers collaboration and has these consumer-basing apps that your users will be able to deal with. But we can also provide the security and the different compliance tools too. And then they plug in with a bunch of other services. We use Box at Mashable for document sharing. We used Dropbox for a long time. The problem was in terms of different file permissions; if someone had access to a folder. And Dropbox to their credit has improved since then. But we had two problems. One, we kept running through our quota of I guess how much data transfer you were allowed to go through on the web interface per day. And we also were having issues where if someone had a Dropbox folder on their computer and they deleted a file, it would delete everywhere. And it didn’t have the more finely granted permissions that you would need when you’ve got a couple hundred people and not everybody is as savvy on how they should deal with documents as they should be.
Leo: I have to say Paul Thurrott on Windows Weekly told me that OneDrive for Business is terrible. And just stick with OneDrive, the consumer version of OneDrive. So let’s see what Box’s pricing is. And again, this is an enterprise place. So it’s not really competing directly with Dropbox. Although there is a Dropbox for Business.
Steve: Dropbox wants to be Box. Because that’s where all the money is.
Leo: So you can get 10 gigabytes with 250 megabytes file upload size. That’s tiny and not so useful. That’s free. For $5 a month, you get a shared workspace for your team or project. So immediately they jump into a business version with 3-10 users, 100GB of storage for $60. That’s aggressive. Two-gig file size. Then you get to the business plan, the most popular plan, $15 a month. Three users minimum, why is there a minimum? Can’t one person use it? Minimum of three users. Unlimited storage, five-gig file size. And then there’s enterprise versions. This is why I don’t buy tech stocks because I don’t know diddly. But I’d hate to make a bet on the future of this company. Aaron Levy who is about 12 years old started it in his dorm room in 2005.
Harry: Yea, he’s a smart guy.
Leo: Okay, so you think people are betting on Aaron?
Harry: I think that’s part of it. He’s a pretty compelling figure.
Leo: I haven’t used it. I used Dropbox for years. Will Dropbox do an IPO? Or are they already public?
Christina: No, they’re not. They probably will. Box was sort of forced to. They were aggressively expanding and aggressively seeking out investments to get more sales out there. And we’re going to go public last year, and then the market really wasn’t happy with their S1 filings. And so they took on additional funding but the caveats with that funding was they had to go public with it in a 6-7 month time period. Or else they would owe their investors a huge amount of money. So they were basically forced to go public when they did. But their offer price what they came in at was down substantially from what they originally wanted to go at a year ago. So the fact that it popped is really good. That it’s still down based on what’s… I know Steve can speak to this, what the expectations were a year ago. With Dropbox it’s a little bit different. They’ve raised some more money and they have a little more runway. And I think their investors, they don’t really have the constraints that Box had on them. So Dropbox will probably have to go public eventually or be acquired. It would be a humongous acquisition. But I think they have a little more time to get going. In all fairness, Box started in 2005 and it went through a number of pivots and went through a number of things with the market. They really started finding their groove in 2009 and Dropbox really only started taking steam in the consumer space the same time Box was already kind of ready to go in that enterprise direction, also in 2009.
Steve: I think part of the reason why it popped some was especially if you watch CNBC at all, the day before and the morning of, Jim Kramer is on there and screaming this is a buy. You need to get on this. And no I really do think that financial press was just salivating over this IPO for some reason. I don’t know, maybe it’s a slow news day or something. So I think that really helped things for Box on day one. We’ll see that again when trading starts Monday, probably not. It will probably level off or fall down. I think the buzz in the media kind of fueled that big pop up.
Leo: Even if Box is a great solution, it’s such a competitive space. Everybody’s doing something including all the big guys.
Christina: Right, that’s the thing. At this point I think the storage prices have become commodity and so you have to differentiate yourself; your apps, your integrations, and obviously what you can really sell for your medium and larger businesses. Your security and how much… your compliance-compatibility and that sort of thing.
Leo: Should I stop using Dropbox and start using Box?
Christina: No, I think Dropbox has a much better file system integration. I prefer Dropbox personally.
Leo: I like how it syncs and all that.
Christina: Exactly. They have the best desktop integration and file system integration of anybody. Box works really well. The way I think about Box is it’s kind of like the more modern equivalent of the SharePoint solution. In fact, a number of years ago-and this just goes to show how much startups change-Box sent me a t-shirt in 2010 that had the SharePoint logo on it and a dodo on the back. And I still have that shirt. And then last year I think Aaron was on stage at a build when Microsoft was announcing some sort of partnership between the two. And I just had to laugh because they went from going so aggressively after Microsoft to partnering with them in a matter of years. Obviously as the companies matured. I think really that’s how I see Box. They’re really more of a SharePoint system whereas Dropbox with me is great and unique in how perfectly it does integrate with the file system whether you’re on Linux, OS10, or Windows.
Leo: Or grow your own. I think that’s the thing, a lot of value trans-file, transporter…
Christina: Oh yea transporter is great.
Leo: … it’s great. And it does everything and there’s no issue about being in the cloud. It’s in my own personal cloud. And I have two. I have one here at the office and one at home. And it syncs. It’s kind of a backup solution. Alright.
Steve: Is it bad that I use Google Drive?
Leo: No, Google Drive’s great.
Steve: I love Google Drive. At work we use it and I use it personally too.
Leo: But it doesn’t have that sync.
Christina: There’s like a delay.
Leo: Well there’s a Google Drive folder. I don’t know…
Steve: Not as good as Dropbox.
Leo: Dropbox is so… yea. I use unfortunately like all of them except Box. I have files strewn all over the cloud. I’m making a mess.
Christina: Same. I need a cloud storage intervention.
Leo: Yes. Lawsuit from the Flying Burrito Brothers, Hot Tuna, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Three of my favorite groups. They are suing Beats, Sony, Google, Ardio, Songza, Slacker, and Groove Shark. Because apparently these streaming music providers have not been paying royalties on music prior to 1972. Harry and I are old enough to remember the Flying Burrito Brothers. You probably don’t even remember them.
Harry: I remember the name. The Turtles kind of kicked this off and sued Sirius XM.
Leo: Yea, they sued the satellite guys. So it turns out that when Congress amended the copyright laws in the 1970s to cover sound recordings, they didn’t cover sound recordings until then. It protected only songs authored after February 15, 1972. So it’s the state’s laws which vary wildly that have been used. For most operators, they assumed they were covered by compulsory fees collected through sound exchange. But that money was not flowing to owners of pre-72 music. So the Turtles filed a $100M class-action lawsuit against Sirius. And they won. Summary judgment last September. The RIAA also sued, they won. And now the others are being sued by Zenbu Magazine. Which says Zenbu Magazine apparently owns the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hot Tuna, and the Flying Burrito Brothers sound recordings. The rights to thereof. So we’ll watch with interest. I don’t know if this means your streaming music will get more expensive, much more likely…
Harry: No more Turtles.
Leo: No more Turtles and Flying Burrito Brothers. Now I can do without the Flying Burrito Brothers but I do like the Turtles.
Harry: Me too.
Christina: I do too. Happy Together is a great song.
Leo: Imagine me and you, I do. I think about you day and night, it’s only right.
Steve: Well if they get taken off, you can just sing it.
Leo: I will sing it. I do, I sing it every day.
Steve: Upload straight to Spotify.
Leo: New Riders of Purple Sage are still playing. They were just here. I don’t know if it’s the original NRPS but they were playing here at our local theater not so long ago. If you can remember seeing a New Riders concert, you weren’t really enjoying it. Or something. Elon Musk is really truly Tony Stark. First he…
Christina: He really is.
Leo: He decides we’re going to have a way to send Californians from San Francisco to Los Angeles in pneumatic tubes in 35 minutes. Now he says I’m going to build a space internet. And the great thing is, he says we’re going to build it for the Earth. But it’s an experiment to see if we can do this because really we’re going to need high-speed internet on Mars. And we just have to get ready. That’s thinking big. God bless him.
Steve: He’s on the Simpsons tonight.
Leo: Is he? What’s he going to do?
Steve: Guest starring. I have no idea. There was some clip on Hulu.
Leo: I shall watch.
Christina: Seriously, that’s fantastic.
Steve: It’s going to be a great episode.
Leo: He knows he’s Tony Stark. He knows that.
Steve: Oh totally. He was in Iron Man. He had a cameo.
Leo: Did he? I don’t remember that.
Steve: Yea, Iron Man 2.
Leo: Oh see I didn’t see that one.
Steve: A brief cameo.
Leo: I was trying to preserve the pure pleasure of Iron Man one without diluting it. He told Bloomberg Business Week that our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that’s been talked about to-date. 750 miles above Earth, hundreds of satellites. Low-Earth orbits, much lower than the GPS satellites which are 122,000 miles. And he says the Tony Stark thing to say. At that height in the vacuum, the speed of light is 40% faster than it is in fiber optics. So, is it making you laugh? So, there’s that. He actually says it will be the service will rival the speed of terrestrial fiber optic. And of course it will be global which is awesome. And you know what, only $10B. The weird thing is, he’s not the only guy doing this. There’s a guy named Greg Wyler who’s a buddy of his who’s also doing this same thing. He’s got something called One Web. And he’s going to launch a satellite network, fill the sky with hundreds of satellites. Beaming down, low-cost solar-powered rooftop antennas. In the third-world and all over the world. Apparently Elon used to crash at Wyler’s guest house in Atherton. They’ve known each other for years. Must be something in the water.
Christina: Okay mafia.
Leo: They’re old PayPal guys. Is that it?
Christina: Well I think they’re all part of the PayPal mafia. That guy may not be but certainly Elon was.
Leo: Alright let’s take a break. It’s good news for everybody. Fast, fast internet.
Christina: It is. Thank God for Elon. He’s so interesting.
Leo: He’s great!
Christina: He is. We need the uber-nerd like him. We need a real-life Tony Stark so thank God for him.
Leo: I’m going to look up Elon Musk on the Simpsons and see. Apparently Elon Musk, guest starring on the Simpsons was kind of trippy. While attending the University of Pennsylvania, Elon Musk was a busy dude. He pursued degrees in business and physics during the week. And on weekends threw ragers at a rented multi-bedroom house turned nightclub to earn extra money.
Steve: Like one does.
Leo: Of course! Didn’t you? By the time Sunday night came around, Musk wanted to relax and did so with a ritual shared by millions. I had this lousy TV that was always fuzzy, and made it really challenging to watch anything. The only thing we would tune in for was the Simpsons every week. The Simpsons episode tonight is the Musk who fell to Earth.
Steve: Alright I have to watch.
Leo: That’s a great name!
Christina: That really is.
Leo: Musk is traveling through space in a craft of his own design. He’s taking the genius engineer version of a Sunday drive because he’s struggling to come up with new ideas. By happenstance he lands in the Simpsons back yard, meets Homer. And Homer becomes an incredible inspiration to him. Okay, now we know.
Steve: Great episode.
Leo: Now we know it’s fiction. Not Bob’s Burgers but okay. Then he gets involved with Montgomery Burns. See if you can find some YouTube footage of this.
Steve: I think it’s on Hulu.
Steve: Yea, there’s a preview on Hulu.
Leo: Guaranteed take-down if we just play a little clip of that. You know I’m always looking for the take-downs. We’re going to wrap it up but we’re going to talk about YouTube’s pretty heavy hand with a YouTube musician named Zoe Keating. I don’t know if you’ve read her blog post but we’ll talk about your thoughts in just a moment. But first let’s shave! Something we do every week at this time. I like to fire up the Harry’s. I got my Harry’s box at home. Have you tried Harry’s yet? Every day somebody tweets me, the best shave I’ve ever had is Harry’s! No man I know likes to shave his face. Because you get cut, you scrape and stuff, and the blade’s dull. But Harry’s somehow brings this experience back to the wonderful thing that it could be. Harry’s, first of all, you know Harry’s started because razor blades are crazy. We were talking about printer ink. Razor blades, same idea. Give away the razor, make it up on the blades. $4 for a Gillette Fusion. That’s so valuable, those Fusions, they lock them up at the drugstore. It’s crazy! So Harry’s said how do we make a better blade for less. We sell direct but wait a minute, that’s not all. We should be able to make the best, sharpest, high-performance blades anywhere. And what did they do? They said they did some research and found out there are two factories in Germany. There are only two factories in the world that make these great blades. They’re both in Germany. They bought one of them. They own their own razor blade factory in Germany. They can engineer these to be better blades. And they cost less. They ship them for free! You’re going to love them! You start with a Harry’s kit. In each kit you get a razor with a look and handle that feels great. You can get the Truman or the Winston. You get three razor blades, a foaming shave gel, that’s for as little as $15. I’m going to save you even more in a second and get $5 off of that. $10! Or go for the $25 Winston kit. Get the engraving, you get the great shave cream. The shave cream is great. The blades are the best you have ever used. And I love the price. About half as much as razors in the store. And you get monthly shipments to keep you fresh. Keep you up to date. They also have a new aftershave and moisturizer you should put in your shipment if you’re already a Harry’s customer. It’s really beautiful and really nice. So here’s the deal. Go to harrys.com, browse around. Where were you showing in the front page there, they’ve got something new there? Limited edition razors inspired by explorer and photographer Jimmy Chin. Wow. Those are colorful, the Jimmy Chin! Shave your chin with a Jimmy Chin shave set. Look at that! Very nice! But whatever set you’re getting, take $5 off your first purchase by using the offer code TWIT5. No, you know, I’m starting to get this little Harry’s collecting Harry’s handles thing going on. I’ve got three or four. And now I have to get the Jimmy Chin. Those are nice! Harry’s, harrys.com. Use the offer code TWIT5 at checkout and you’ll save $5 on your first kit. Get started with Harry’s. And we thank them so much for their support. Not only their support of TWiT and all our shows. But for giving us all a great shave. If you don’t believe me, just search for Harry’s on Twitter. You will, just like all these people tweeting wow! You can get a better shave! Wow! Alright, for some reason I feel like Christina Warren might know Zoe Keating.
Christina: Yes, she’s a cellist, right?
Leo: Yea, let me play. This is from her website, a little bit of… this is from her album, Into the Trees. It’s called the Optimist. Can you hear any of that? It’s beautiful and very peaceful. I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t make my sound… is it muted? Here it is. Here it comes. Yes, she’s a cellist. With an interesting conundrum. She and many others who put their music on YouTube are kind of getting strong-armed by YouTube. She writes my Google YouTube rep contacted me the other day. They were nice and took time to explain everything clearly. But the message was firm. I have to decide. I need to sign on to the new YouTube music services agreement or I will have my channel blocked. The new music service agreement will require that all her music, all her catalog on YouTube has to be in the free and premium music service. Period. And in fact, all songs will be set to monetize. She’ll be required to release any new music on YouTube at the same time she releases it anywhere else. So she can’t do special releases on SoundCloud or Band Camp. She can’t do releases on iTunes. She has to release it on YouTube at the same time. All my catalog has to be uploaded on high-resolution, 320 kilobits. And this is locked in for five years. And if you don’t like it, bye-bye. Now I have to admit, YouTube is free and is an amazing boom for artists. But it does feel like YouTube is maybe strong-arming its artists to sign up so you can get their music on music keen. She’s pretty upset.
Christina: Yea, and she’s written about how much money she makes off of online music services in the past. I think she wrote a blog post about a year ago which basically showed almost all of her income came from sales. With only like 8% or something coming from streaming services. So she actually broke out I think what her Pandora and Spotify and other service offerings were.
Leo: And not to complicate this but her husband’s very ill. And she needs this money. This is not just like a hobby for her.
Leo: She also needs content ID because apparently a lot of her music is used. A lot of it is used. For instance, the demo reel for the Game of Thrones post-production team uses her music, which she allows. But she wants to keep track of it, so she uses content ID. And that’s where she got caught. I think if she weren’t using content ID, she might not have to sign up for this. But she says there are almost 10,000 videos with a quarter million monthly views using my music. And I want to keep track of it. She doesn’t pull down the music unless-she says unless-it’s hate… or something really apprehensible. But mostly it’s dance performances, and documentaries, and amateur films and she loves that. She has the option as you do with content ID of monetizing or sharing the existing monetization. And she says it’s very important to me so she does want to keep doing that. Is YouTube wrong or is this just hey, you know what, you’re getting this amazing free service. You don’t pay for any bandwidth, that’s the deal!
Steve: I think the exclusive thing is what bothers me more than anything. The audio quality and so forth, that sounds pretty fair and reasonable. The whole exclusive thing, if you release it on Spotify or something, you have to release it with us simultaneously. That just doesn’t make sense. I don’t see how that helps the artist and how that helps Google in the long run.
Leo: She writes, is such control too much for an artist to ask in 2015? It’s one thing for individuals to upload all my music for free listening. That doesn’t bother me. People do put her music on YouTube. It’s another thing entirely for a major corporation to force me to. I was encouraged to participate and now that I’m invested, I’m being pressured into something I don’t want to do. She says it’s bait and switch.
Christina: Yea, I think that’s really the problem here. They changed the rules of the game. They reached out and I mean to be fair, this is what tends to happen with big companies. They reach out to people and we’ve seen this with other companies in the past before. And YouTube has done this in the past before. They reach out and want to get people involved in the community. They reach out to artists and now they’ve got this product, this music key service they really want people to sign up for. And what they basically are trying to do is now say, okay if you want to use this one part of our service, you have to sign up for the whole thing. And I think that’s where the disconnect comes into place. It’s where they can’t continue with her agreement that she’s had with them for years. That they sought her out for, she’s got to agree to everything to continue beyond the service. And that seems a little bit unfair.
Leo: Mario Aguilar writing at Gizmodo says a Google spokesman was frankly surprised that Keating was so upset by the new term, given that they simply provide another avenue for artists to make money. The spokesman denied that Keating would be removed from YouTube or that her videos would be blocked. However, they did say that if Keating was going to monetize, then she needs to sign this agreement. You can keep your vides here and not monetize, not use content ID. Or if you want to use content ID and monetize, then you have to sign this agreement.
Harry: The only reason I think it’s something worth worrying about it because YouTube is sort of a monopoly when it comes to video-oriented services for musicians. It’s not like they have a lot of competition there. They have lots of competition for music in general. But there is not something else that’s similar to YouTube and almost as powerful.
Leo: Well there’s Vimeo, there’s SoundCloud. She doesn’t upload videos. She just uploads audio. So she could easily use that she is already SoundCloud and Band Camp. She sells on iTunes.
Harry: But other people are using her music in videos. She not unreasonably would like to make some money on that.
Leo: Right. It’s an interesting puzzle. I mean it is a free service. You get a lot from YouTube for nothing. I’m sympathetic only because I feel like an artist should be able to control what goes on. But on the other hand I’m also sympathetic with Google; this is a business.
Steve: It’s a business that relies on people uploading their stuff for free.
Leo: Well that’s an interesting point. Yea. There is an adherent bait and switch in YouTube. Like just put your stuff here and you could be rich.
Christina: Right. It’s like they want you to be successful. But don’t be too successful because once you get to that point, we’re going to make sure it’s worth our while.
Leo: Right. And of course you know that Verizon is putting a super-cookie on everybody who uses a Verizon smartphone or tablet. That tracks you, it’s an identifier that tracks you everywhere. And they said that it didn’t use this information, didn’t sell it to third-parties and it didn’t compromise your privacy. But an article on Extreme Tech by Joel Hruska says nah, not exactly true. Ad services are using this and in fact you can’t delete it. So he writes, a chief partner in crime is a company called Turn. Turn prominently advertises its capabilities as bringing sexy back to measurement-end quote. Kind of a Justin Timberlake kind of a slogan. At a Verizon event in April last year, marketers acknowledged that the goal is to have one unified cross-platform media by allowing campaigns to target consumers on whatever device their using. Whichever ad form. A Pro-Public says that when you visit Turn on the website, or I’m sorry, whenever you visit a website, Turn holds auctions selling the right to target you with ads. Within milliseconds of your arrival! Technology, what a concept. So you go to a website and before the ads load, Turn has a little auction to say who wants this ad for this guy?! Sells it, and then that ad loads. They say they receive two million requests a minute for sales targets. And they said you know, when somebody clears a cookie or deletes it, we don’t consider that an indication that you don’t want to be tracked. We know you really want this.
Leo: They do offer an opt-out but extensive testing by Pro-Public confirms the option does not do anything. Turn says oh no, it works. It just looks like it doesn’t.
Leo: Just so you know. I feel like I use a Verizon smartphone, but maybe I’m not going to…
Christina: Yea, I do too. And I’m thinking about… I’m so glad I give you $200 a month for…
Leo: Yea! You pay them!
Christina: Thank you. Exactly! If you’re getting this from me, can I at least get a discount? If you’re going to be doing this to me, can I at least get $50 a month back? I mean at least Google tracks my every move and gives me free stuff. What are you doing for me, Verizon?
Leo: Yea! It’s really expensive actually.
Christina: It is! It’s very expensive.
Leo: Gee! Alright, we’re out of time. This was fun. I love you guys. Thank you for being here. Christina Warren is at mashable.com where she’s jugging serge every day to bring you the best coverage of technology everywhere. We also see her very frequently. I think every Friday on Tech News Tonight.
Christina: Every Friday, yes on Tech News Today.
Leo: Today, thank you. Really great to see you, Christina. Thank you.
Christina: Good seeing you, Leo. Thanks for having me.
Leo: Harry McCraken, he’s the Technologizer at Fast Company. Great to see you.
Harry: Always a pleasure.
Leo: Getting around these days. He’s everywhere. You can follow him on Twitter, @harrymccraken. And of course, Steve Kovach. Love having you on. Please come back. From businessinsider.com.
Steve: I will. Thanks for having me again.
Leo: Follow him on Twitter @stevekovach. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon 3pm Pacific, 6pm Eastern time, 2100 UTC. No, I’m sorry, 2300. My addition’s all messed up today. 2300 UTC. If you can watch live that would be great. If you can’t now there are some other options. We have downloadable audio and video at our website, twit.tv. Wherever you get podcasts, we’re sure to be there. One of the oldest podcasts. In fact in April we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of this show.
Leo: Yea, we’re going to do something. Have a cake, I don’t know. Probably get back…
Steve: Shave your head again.
Leo: Probably get the gang back together again, have a big panel. That will be in April. Our 10th anniversary, 10 years of serving you tech news. You can also, if you like to be here, we’ve got a great group from Canberra. What’s the name of the school? Canberra Grammar School, that’s in Australia, right? They came all the way from Australia. About 20 nice young men and they’ve been here and they’ve been very quiet and peaceable. Except once I said Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie! Boy you guys are terrible! You have just shamed all of Canberra. Let’s try that one more time! Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie!
Oy! Oy! Oy!
Leo: That’s more like it. What the hell does that mean? Anything? No one knows. Showing your support for Australia which is a good thing I think, right? They’re visiting us. They’re in the states for two weeks. They’re going to Google tomorrow. They’ve been to Microsoft. They’ve been in Seattle. They’ve been to Apple. Nice to have you guys. This is the second year they’ve been here. Every other year they make this trip. If you’d like to be in our studio, we’d like to see you. We put out chairs for you, if you email email@example.com and let us know ahead of time. That’s about it for this episode. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can! Ten years!