This Week in Tech 502 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWIT: This Week in Tech! Harry McCracken is here. So is Jason Hiner, Ed Bott, and I'm glad because these Windows experts are going to explain what the heck is Microsoft up to with Windows 10! It's coming up next, on TWiT.
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This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 502, recorded Sunday, March 22 2015.
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It's time for TWIT: This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the latest week's tech news. We have a massively fine panel. I am surrounded by former and present Ziff Davisers. No. You're IDG. It's Technologizer's here. Harry McCracken, he's now at fastcompany.com. Great to see you. You've been instagramming a lot of retro technology. It's been fun.
Harry McCracken: This place is great, because every time I come I take a picture.
Leo: Leo's old crap. It's always good for a laugh. Also, Jason Hiner from Tech Republic, he's a Ziff Daviser. CBS interactive.
Jason Hiner: Yes, indeed.
Leo: I guess we don't call it Ziff Davis any more.
Jason: Most people don't remember. They're like, "What does the ZD stand for?" I explain this a lot.
Leo: Interesting. Great to have you, Jason. We'll talk about your new book. It's very exciting and the new chapter. Is it out yet?
Jason: It is out. It went live on Friday.
Leo: Perfect timing. It's Gina Trapani. That's exciting. Also, too my left, my old friend Ed Bott. Formerly of PC world, but still of ZD net.
Ed Bott: I've actually got the trifecta here. ZD Net, Ziff Davis, and IDG way back. I can't hold a job, I guess.
Leo: I wrote for Info world, and Byte, and Ziff Davis, so I think I'm in the same boat. I was never an editor, like you. I was always a lowly minion.
Harry: You worked for Byte?
Leo: One of my first reviews was a Macintosh review in the Mac issue of The Byte magazine, 1984. I'm an old fart.
Jason: Isn't it great that we can always remember our first articles?
Leo: You never forget that, do you? I wonder what prompted you guys to get into the tech world. I got into it because I wanted to support my habit.
Harry: Me too.
Leo: For the same reason.
Harry: My first piece was for Creative Computing, by the way. 1982, I think.
Leo: Creative Computing? Great magazine. Love Creative computing.
Harry: Which was Ziff Davis, at the time. I take it back. I wrote for Ziff Davis.
Leo: That was primarily an Apple II journal, right? But they did everything.
Harry: It was a little bit of everything.
Leo: Atari, too. I was an Atari guy. Jason, what was your first piece?
Jason: It was a piece on this little piece of software called, 'Dave' that you put on your Mac so that it could look like a Windows machine on a Windows network.
Leo: I remember Dave. Wow.
Jason: Yeah. I wrote a "how to." It was kind of about that piece of software. It was a little bit of a how to and it was about how to install it and get it to work and that kind of stuff.
Leo: You never forget your first piece. Ed, you're the senior guy here. You've been doing this longer than anybody. What year did you start?
Ed: In the PC trade, I started in 87, I think. Before that, I was writing about semi-conductor technology. Manufacturing technology and editing magazines for people who work in those clean rooms. I wrote articles about that. Thank God whatever my first one was is lost to the ages and brain cells.
Leo: I don't know that. We don't know who wins. We don't know who wins here. Actually, it's appropriate. This month, Gnu turns 30 and the Gnu manifesto, first published in Doctor Dobbs journal. March, what would that be? 30 years ago. 1985. Actually, I'll tell you how far we've come. The New Yorker magazine has a profile of Richard Stallman.
Harry: That would not have happened 30 years ago.
Leo: I'm surprised it happened today. Stallman, of course the creator of the GNU project. He was one of the original MIT hackers, Steven Levy wrote about him in Hackers, and is still around. I'm trying to decide if I should get him on Triangulation or not.
Ed: He's such a nice person. Really down to Earth, not demanding in any way.
Leo: He has a ten thousand-word writer for his appearances. I know, because we had him on Tech TV. By the way, he actually is a genuine caring person, but he's a little prickly. I know you were being sarcastic. You know when he plays the recorder and sings the free software song; he's a sweet guy.
Harry: He's made the world a far better place.
Leo: He ha, contributed hugely to it.
Harry: I have some issues with anybody who says someone else's choice of technology makes them a prisoner, and that the real way not to be a prisoner is to use the same products that you want to use.
Leo: That's his philosophy.
Harry: I do bristle a little bit at his notion that anybody who is using software that doesn't meet his standards is a prisoner. Having said that, he's made my life better; he's made the life better of virtually anybody who uses software.
Leo: Linnux wouldn't exist without the GNU projects. Without stuff on top of the Kernal, you've got nothing. Almost everything in most modern Linux is based on GNU. It's kind of funny, because I just got my "Learning GNU" Emacs book. This was Richard Stallman's first well-known program was Emacs. To this day, still widely used by hardcore geeks everywhere. But Linux, which means if you use Android, you owe a great debt of gratitude to Richard Stallman.
Jason: Apache, which runs most of the web. What else? My SQL. Open Source.
Leo: Yeah, if you start talking Open Source, then yes. Absolutely.
Ed: At that point, as soon as you mention Open Source, Mr. Stallman goes off.
Jason: There's a departure there.
Leo: He founded the free software foundation and created the GNU license. GPL, new public license, which is in its 3rd or 4th generation. I remember interviewing Ian Moglin about this, the lawyer who was behind it. Some call it a virus, because it requires if you use GNU free software that you license it the same way it was licensed. So you have to give it away and you have to offer a source. I don't know. I have a huge admiration for Richard, but I don't know if I want to spend a lot of time getting him on the air. The Writers is both interesting and unusual.
Harry: Is the Tricaster free software?
Leo: No. We probably can't use the Tricaster. He prefaces every e-mail he sends with these words, and I think we should all do the same. To any NSA and FBI agents reading my e-mail, please consider whether defending the US constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic requires you to follow Snowden's example. Not sure what that means. I get the jist of it. I'm considering right now. His 10,000-word writer, according to the New Yorker makes charmingly odd reading. He loves good food, folk dancing, and beautiful landscapes. He hates avocados, dislikes hotels, and is indifferent to wine. Also, don't buy him a parrot.
Ed: Who hates avocados?
Leo: Really. I remember. In order to get him on Tech TV, because we did interview him on Tech TV, and I did get him to play the recorder and sing the free software song, which was a highlight of my career. He said, "The day I appear on Tech TV, no show can refer to Linux. It has to always be GNU Linux." That's one of his serious—
Harry: He's real fussy about the exact wordings of things in a way that I don't think helps his cause.
Leo: Yeah. Anyway, amazing guy. I noticed this New Yorker article refers to GNU Linux throughout. I have a feeling that they cite the writer. Only Richard Stallman would say, "OK New Yorker. You can do a profile of me, but you've got to call it GNU Linux. This is a man who is pure of heart. Pure of purpose. 30 years ago this month, GNU Manifesto was published. I thought we'd mention that as we began the show. Let's see. I've been out of town for a couple of days. Did anything happen this week? Anything important? Windows 10 is coming out this summer. Although, as Paul Thurott pointed out, summer could be any time between June 20 and September 20. They had originally said Windows 10 would be this fall, but it still could be late 2015.
Harry: Do they ever actually say fall? Do we assume fall?
Leo: I think they said fall.
Jason: I think the most important thing about it was actually the story that Ed did about how Microsoft is going to make it available for free even outside of China.
Leo: Yeah. They're going to basically say, "Even if you have a pirated version of Windows, we'll allow you to upgrade to Windows 10 for free." Any version. Actually, that really does make it any version. If you're running Windows 95, just steal a copy of Windows 7 and you can upgrade. This is, Ed you've been covering Bill Gates and Microsoft for a while. This is a dramatic shift from the Bill Gates Microsoft.
Ed: It really is. Basically, what they're trying to do here is get out of the paid upgrade business, except among Enterprise customers, they want this to be your last Windows upgrade ever, and once that happens, you're on a continuous servicing model. It'll be free. You'll buy Windows, and it'll be included in the price of a new device that you get. Any upgrades, new features, and everything, those will just appear through Windows update. No more paying for upgrades.
Leo: I assumed more that it was to reassure developers, look. We're going to catch everybody up. We're going to make sure that the—right now, the majority of Windows users still use XP. Isn't it still more than—XP is a significant percentage. So what Microsoft would love to tell Developers is say, "Look. Everybody is going to use Windows 10." It's good for developers because there is a unified development system, so you can write for any Windows 10 device. It works on Windows phone, it works on Xbox One, it works on Desktops, it works on Tablets. Is this not a message to developers? Jason: It's part of it, but this is also a platform play. They want that platform. They want the Windows platform to remain the largest computing platform in the world. Android is creeping up, and you have Chrome Book, the thing is, they want Windows as a platform to remain relevant. It's bit, it's significant that they are giving up this honey pot of software upgrades. That's what's made Microsoft Microsoft. They extracted all that value out of the PC eco system, turned all the PC makers into low margin providers of hardware, and they extracted all the value out of that ecosystem by making people pay for Windows. The providers pay for Windows, and users pay for Windows upgrades. That ship has kind of left the port, like Ed was saying, they're giving up on that model. Enterprises will still pay for upgrades because they'll pay for software insurance.
Leo: I think that's got to be the bulk of the revenue.
Jason: That's where a lot of the money is. For Consumers and for small businesses too, they will no longer have to pay for Windows to have the platform, but the trade off that Microsoft is making there is by having that platform be ubiquitous, they can make money off of a software store, the same way Apple does, by selling you software through a store. Selling, also media. Movies, TV shows, and books. Those kinds of things. They can make their cut off that. In order to do that, you have to have a bit platform. The bigger your platform, the more widespread it is. The more money you can make off of all of that stuff. That's the trade-off for something like this. The thing is, can you trade that platform? The platform has to get bigger and bigger and more wide-spread to make up for all the pennies that you make on those transactions, you have to make up for a lot of software licenses that you're no longer selling, but that's my interpretation of where they're going with this.
Leo: It's telling they did this in China, too. They did this at Wynn Hick.
Ed: There's something to back up there too. Something you said, Leo, that I want to amplify a little bit. You said, doesn't XP still have a lot of usage? If you include China, it does. There are hundreds—
Leo: They never paid for it, but they're using it.
Ed: Right. There are hundreds of millions. There's all sorts of squishy, not very accurate statistics floating around about which platforms and which operating systems are being used, but when you get big numbers for Windows XP, in general, that is counting the pirate population in China. There are also a lot of enterprises in the Western developed world. For the most part, those companies are paying hefty support contracts for the right to continue running a no longer supported operating system. XP is shrinking very quickly. Windows 7 right now, the whole thing with Windows 10 is to prevent Windows 7 from turning into the Windows XP.
Leo: Nobody every operates.
Ed: That's what that's all about.
Leo: So XP has more market share than Windows 8 and 8.1 together. There's a lot of different measurements. This is from Net Market share, this is probably close to the actual percentage. 56% Windows 7. 19% XP, 10 % 8.1. Only 3.558, which shows the tests Microsoft did of getting people to move from 8 to 8.1 was a success. They sensed there they could do better. By the way, Mac is next at 3.55 percent. Way behind there. Windows Vista: 2.11 percent. Linux, 1.5 percent. So by giving away Windows 10 and not caring whether you're upgrading a pirated copy.
Harry: They do care. They're grudgingly saying that we'll give it to you, but you're still a thief.
Leo: You have to admit it and then you get a free copy? Ed, what's the story here? They aren't going to verify that you're using genuine Windows, right?
Ed: Right. First of all, this is the first time that a major whole number release of Windows is going to be released through Windows update. It will show up.
Leo: That's bizarre.
Ed: But they're doing it now with Windows 10 preview. You can sign up for the Insider program on Windows 7. The Windows 10 upgrade will show up there on System updates. In the systems that I've tried it on, the update takes 20 minutes to complete on a Windows 7 machine. Very quick, and it's been generally pretty accurate. They want to make this a friction free experience precisely so they can move as many people as possible into this world. If you start putting piracy checks and things in there, then you add friction, so they'll make it an update and there it is. You get it, and I think I tweeted something this week, you can have your windows 10, but you're still a thief.
Leo: Is this the dialogue box you're talking about? It says, "This copy of Windows is not genuine. It doesn't pass genuine validation. To get all Windows updates, you must validate." But that's Window's genuine advantage. That's the thing you get.
Harry: I've gotten that message many times, on PCs for which I paid for personally. I think the technology works better today than it did in the old days, but it's never flawless.
Leo: So we don't know yet what you'll see when you try to upgrade a pirated version, do we? We don't know.
Ed: You won't know anything until this is actually officially released. My prediction is that it's simply going to be an update. If you're running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, it will just update. There won't be any questions; aside from do you approve this upgrade?
Leo: So they're not going to have a box that says, "Are you a pirate?" Yes. Yes. They're not going to give you a spanking or throw some shade. They're just going to upgrade you.
Jason: Well even better is if they had the online chat window that popped up when you did it, and you can confess that you are a pirate.
Leo: Just admit you're a pirate, and we'll give you a new copy of Windows. That's all we ask.
Jason: Exactly. You're welcome The Onion. If you want to write that piece at the launch of the new Windows 10 about the online chat box and confessional.
Ed: Actually, Jason, I've been working on a piece like that where I think they should, basically, the message in this post that you pointed to earlier, Leo. If they're really and truly serious about moving people forward, just make this an amnesty program for no Enterprise customers. As part of the agreement at the end when you click OK on the license agreement that you didn't read, part of it says, "I agree that if my system was not properly licensed before, I will abide by this license agreement going forward."
Leo: There's a precedent for something like this though. That's what Apple did with iTunes Match, in effect. iTunes Match, you pay $25, will match everything in your library. It doesn't check to see if it's pirated or not, as I did downloaded a lot of stuff from Napster in the years gone by. I was young and dumb and I needed the money. It's in your library, will automatically match it and replace it if you ask with 256 KB licensed versions. It's like that. I expect that Apple went to the music industry and said, "You're never going to get money from these guys. They already stole the music. Would you like a portion of $25, make everybody honest moving forward." Is that analogous to what's going on here?
Ed: Absolutely. It should be very close to that. I was really hoping with the new leadership at Microsoft that somebody would throw away the old licensing complication at least for consumers and small businesses and replace this with something simple. They still have an opportunity to do that.
Leo: On Wednesday we talked about this on Windows Weekly, but the next day Paul Thurott published a piece on his website saying, "sorry. Microsoft is not giving free Windows 10 to pirates. The original quote came from Terry Myerson, the guy in charge of Windows 10. He told Reuters, "We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine to Windows 10." Then, Microsoft issued a statement, and this is the current statement. "We've always been committed to ensuring customers have the best Windows experience possible. With Windows 10, although non genuine PCs may be upgradable to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license." You're not made whole by this. You're not suddenly genuine.
Ed: First of all, the word genuine is such Orwellian crap-speak. It makes me angry every time I hear them talk about genuine Windows, because as Harry pointed out, you can have a great deal of money for a copy of Windows, you can install it on your computer, you can do everything you're supposed to do, and then through no fault of your own, something comes up and says this copy of Windows is not genuine. That's a distortion of what the word means. The lawyers got involved in this at some point, and they took over the word genuine and distorted it into this weird thing. Leo, the timeline of this was, it was an article earlier in the week. Microsoft does this statement, and Paul wrote that article, my story from yesterday, actually has some additional details on top of that.
Leo: This is typical, by the way, when you cover Microsoft. There's always this shaded meaning, statements are unclear, there might even be conflicting statements. So update is—what's the subsequent statement?
Ed: So if you go through here, first of all, back in January, Terry Myerson stands up and says we're going to give a free upgrade to every customer with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. There's a footnote and it says some additions excluded. We have checked on this, and the additions that are excluded are Windows RT, which is dead, and Windows Enterprise editions, which are only available for licensed customers. But everyone else, according to that January statement, any customer of Windows 7 or 8.1 will get this. Then this statement comes out this week, and it starts talking about the consumer free upgrade offer. Wait a minute. When did consumers get dragged into this? When did we start distinguishing between Consumer versions of Windows and business versions of Windows? Do we have a surprise coming later this year? Oh, you have Windows 8.1 Pro? That doesn't have the free upgrade, that has the $10 upgrade. They start with this message of this wonderful thing, and then the exceptions start being added along the way. Nobody ever said they're going to give a free upgrade to anyone. What they said, we will allow the upgrade to proceed on any system, genuine or non-genuine, using their language.
Leo: You pointed out in your article, that's what it is now, right? That's not new. It doesn't make it genuine. Are they going to abandon the Windows Genuine Advantage checks?
Ed: It sure would be nice if they would.
Leo: This gives them a loophole. This gives them a chance to say, "Hey. Here's a copy of Windows. You can't use it though. But we did give you a free upgrade." Is that what they're going to do, 30 days later say by the way it's not genuine, so...
Harry: I think they're biggest issue is not individuals stealing Windows; it's PC makers who steal Windows. Not the big guys, but smaller guys.
Leo: Little shops who install one copy of windows into 20 PCs.
Harry: It's not you and me, not that we do it, but if we did steal a copy of Windows, that's not a huge issue.
Leo: But a lot of people are victims of those little shops, and they have non-genuine editions and they don't know it.
Harry: Microsoft said we're doing you a favor; we're letting you use it. In the days where they didn't let you continue to use it, they said we're doing you a favor by telling you the PC you bought has a pirated copy of Windows on it.
Ed: All the Windows genuine dialogs talks say you might be a victim.
Leo: We don't blame you, you could be a victim.
Ed: I have no problem with Microsoft continuing to enforce ant-piracy restrictions on the people who sell new PCs with a copy of Windows installed they haven't paid for. The reality is, more than 90% of the copies of Windows that are sold are coming from big companies like Dell and HP and Lenovo.
Leo: Will those still license Windows?
Ed: Those OEMs still license Windows. They pay for OEM royalty licensing, where the stuff is automatically activated. There isn't even a sticker on your PC anymore, there's a hologram on the power supply. They're getting away from that. The addressable audience of pirates that we're talking about right now is the dying community of white box builders. Very few people buy white box PCs anymore.
Jason: It doesn't make sense. A lot of times they're more expensive or they're not as powerful, that kind of thing. Those little shops that do that kind of thing, mostly integrators that are serving small businesses or local communities; there isn't as much a need for it as there once was. In the same way that there aren't as many IT departments, because people don't need their hands held to set up their machine or learn how to log in. Stuff like that. Most companies are assuming that people that they hire now can get an e-mail or a set of instructions and figure out what to do. The bottom line is, a lot of times with this genuine advantage stuff, today, it ends up hurting the people who play by the rules more. Right? If you have a problem with you PC and all of a sudden that genuine advantage thing causes you a bunch of headaches, even if you bought a genuine copy like Harry was saying earlier. Microsoft should move away from this. Especially if their goal is to get Windows on as many machines as possible and to be a platform that's going to continue to be relevant and ubiquitous, it behooves them to move away from this type of thing. I don't know that it ever did them much good; I don't know that it ever helped them that much. Maybe it caused a few more people to buy licenses, but it seems as if it's been something that has hurt them. It complicated the Windows experience more than it caused people to buy licenses.
Harry: It's really been in Microsoft's bones as long as there has been a Microsoft to be really paranoid and anxious about pirating. There's that letter that Bill Gates wrote to the community in 1976 where he says I'd love to hire great programmers to work on software for Microsoft, but I can't if you're going to continue to steal my software.
Jason: It does. It goes back to the beginnings of the company. So true.
Leo: It hasn't changed. That's the question though. To get back to the beginnings of this conversation, how do we parse now? Is this a new business model for Microsoft? Or maybe it's not. Microsoft has muddied the waters. Your thesis, Ed, is that they said one thing and the lawyers got a hold of it and forced them to backtrack. Is there an intention to bring people back into the fold and move forward, or not?
Ed: Absolutely. The interview that Terry Myerson did with Reuters, the entire discussion, the key word in that was 're-engage' with the hundreds of millions of users in China who are using XP who never paid for it, who are not getting updates and don't feel comfortable getting new Microsoft services because they know they have pirated copies. The word was 're-engage.' The idea of reengaging with pirates is a good one. It leads invariably to amnesty for people who violated a business model that you're ending, and opens all sorts of business opportunities for the future. We're not going to know how it plays out for a couple months yet.
Jason: I agree. There's definitely a new direction. It goes back to the DNA of the company; it's so antithetical to the DNA of the company. It's going to be growing pains to get there.
Leo: Clear communication is comparable to Microsoft's DNA. That's what my take away is. I don't envy you guys who are trying to cover this company. I know it can be frustrating.
Ed: I know for every announcement that they make, I'll get five or six columns out of it as it changes.
Leo: This most recent column on ZD net is the greatest example of parsing the Microsoft message. What you say in the headline is that it's a potential licensing mess is the one take away you can get from this.
Ed: If you scroll down on that, scroll down until you get to the bar chart, I think there's the story of why they need to face the reality.
Leo: The cost of Windows Vista back in 2006 on launch day was $150 consumers, $250 to business. Windows 7, $50 on launch day. Windows 8 is now sub $50. Is it free?
Ed: It was $40 and everybody got the pro edition.
Leo: So there's clearly a downward line, and it would make sense that the next price would be free. You can't get lower than 40 bucks.
Ed: That's the case with every other platform.
Leo: There are no other comparable platforms. You could point out OSX, but Apple sells hardware. So they don't need to make the money on the OS.
Harry: Nobody has ever sold you updates on your mobile operating system ever.
Ed: The point is, regardless of how different the models may be, once upon a time, Microsoft was involved with 90% or more of every computing device that was sold on the planet. Today, with mobile devices and tablets and servers running free operating systems, they have 15 or 20% of the total market. This is the only one where they expect you to pay for upgrades, and that's not going to happen.
Harry: Windows just in general, I think there's so many people out there who are looking for reasons not to upgrade their Windows PC in a way that is somewhat unusual. When they heard there was no start button in Windows 8, that was a reason not to do it. Any cost is a reason not to do it. Windows 10, I think Microsoft to the best of their ability has removed every argument that might pop into someone's head not to get—which is a great thing to do overall. It's still pretty sticky for them to do, but I think they're trying to do the right thing.
Leo: Isn't it the case that most end users thought they never paid for Windows because they never bought a copy of Windows. They just bought a new computer.
Harry: Most people upgrade Windows by buying a new compute every few years.
Leo: So they were never aware that they were paying for Windows.
Harry: A lot of people are up buying new PCs a lot rarer than they used to. The old days you bought a new PC every two years and Microsoft got its money.
Leo: That's a good point. That's another thing that's changed considerably. So there is an appropriate conversation about Microsoft's future business model, it's services, its hardware perhaps. Azure.
Ed: Azure is a huge business for them. Office 365 is growing faster.
Leo: Are they going to be able to continue to charge for Office? I guess so. It's a lot cheaper than it used to be. When we bought that 59 dollar windbook, not only did we get Windows for nothing, I got a year of Office for nothing. And a tablet for nothing. I don't know what the $59 went to.
Leo: Probably the retailing. Microcenter. It's a brave new world. It's fascinating. It is good, because it means that there's renewed interest in what Microsoft is up to. It is meaningful for business for sure. I guess consumers still buy Windows, obviously, so that it's going to matter to consumers. Does it? I guess I live in a bubble. I don't know many Windows users. People seem to be using something else.
Ed: People who live in Silicon Valley, it's not the same as the rest of the world.
Leo: You go to Trade shows, you don't see a lot of, you see a lot of glowing Apple logos. Even at the Microsoft event.
Harry: You go to Starbucks in most parts of the country, and the balance is different.
Leo: I see.
Ed: Go to airports that are not San Francisco and JFK, and you'll see more of a balance. Even there, you're looking at affluent people who can afford to travel, or have a job, or their employer pays them to travel.
Leo: A lot of people have Windows XP desktop at home.
Harry: Or go into an office somewhere in the country where people have desktop PCs. Curtis is asking in the chatroom, I think it's a reasonable comment. They said for a year, what happens a year after Windows 10 comes out? Are they going to start charging again?
Ed: I asked the same question. Do they really think that they're going to be able to charge for it after a year? Anybody who is motivated to upgrade an existing PC or device running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 is going to do it in the first year because it's free, after that, the only people who will be left are the people who deliberately chose not to do so, or a small number of unlucky bastards who bought something that has been sitting on the shelf at their local Wall Mart or whatever, and they take it home and discover that they have to pay.
Leo: Once you give something away, you can't start charging. It's all about getting everybody up to Windows 10 as quickly as possible.
Ed: It adds a sense of urgency. Do this now.
Leo: That's the real message of that. We're going to take a break. We've got a good pane for this Windows discussion, I tell you. Jason Hiner from Tech Republic, CBS Interactive. We've got the Technologizer, Harry McCracken from Fast Company, Ed Bott, zdnet.com. All of them have been covering Windows and Enterprise for years, and they know this subject. Let's keep talking, but first a word from Citrix GoToMeeting. Anybody who works in business, especially modern business where people are distributed all over the world, not just your colleagues, but your customers, know that meetings are no longer sitting around a table in a room. The way to meet, of course from the comfort of your computer, or your Smartphone, or your tablet. You can share the same screen, you can see each other face-to-face. They've got that incredible HD video conferencing. It's a smarter way to meet, even if you're all in the same space sometimes it's easier to use GoToMeeting. From GoToMeeting you can go to any computer, tablet, or Smartphone. No travel expense, no traffic. All you have to do is click the link. It's really easy to start a meeting once the link goes out. They click the link; they don't have to sign up. They get the software in a minute at most, usually it's faster than that, and there they are. They're in the meeting. Almost everybody now has a great web cam in their device, whether it's a tablet or a desktop. That makes you feel like you're in the same room. You can share screens, you can see each other, you can get feedback in real time. Everybody sees what you're seeing in GoToMeeting, so your team is on the same page. I love GoToMeeting, and that's why I want you to sign up for 30 days free. gotomeeting.com, click the try it free button. Friction free meetings. Wouldn't that be nice? gotomeeting.com, try it free today for the next 30 days you'll be hooked. We thank those good folks at Citrux for their support. Windows hello. That's another thing Terry Mires talked about. What is Windows Hello here? Hello.
Harry: Windows Hello is biometric security for Windows PC. It's finger scanning; it's facial recognition with infrared cameras.
Leo: So you might walk up to your Windows 10 PC and it would say, just like your Xbox one does now, "Oh hi, Harry." Would it log you in?
Harry: It would log you in with the proper hardware, yeah.
Leo: I like that.
Ed: If you've opted in.
Leo: So you have to turn it on, obviously.
Harry: I believe all flavors of it involve special hardware, which is not standard.
Leo: So all Microsoft is doing is saying, "Hey, we're going to make sure it's in the OS.. But OEMS, you've got to put in there.
Harry: Which is a great thing. I'd recommend it for anything you do that requires security on your computer. You're dependant on the company behind a particular service.
Leo: Right. It could be used for 2 factor too, right?
Ed: There's a second part to this, which is interesting, which is Passport. Which is Microsoft's continuing, quest to re-use every product they've ever used.
Leo: Passport was their single sign in solution, but it never took off.
Ed: Then it became Windows live ID, and then it became the Microsoft account. So the Passport component of it is really interesting, so if you have a Windows 10 device, it can be enrolled essentially with your biometric information, so the cryptographic hardware component at the heart of your device, there's a virtual layer on top of that that's going to securely store this, but it's basically going to say this device and your biometric information together will allow you to sign in to online services.
Leo: So this is not just for logging into Windows, this is for getting into websites.
Ed: Windows Hello logs you into your PC. The passport thing provides a secure form of authentication, and it uses the Fido standard, so it doesn't have to be—nobody has to do anything with Microsoft servers or anything like that. The idea is that you could have a picture of my face and use it to sign in as me somewhere, but that's not going to work because you don't have my device. If you have my device, but you don't have my biometric information—it's the combination of those two that is essential. What they're trying to do is finally make authentication something that mere mortals can use.
Leo: will they do it? Because you've got to get OEMs to put expensive hardware into the computers.
Ed: The hardware is already there.
Jason: It's getting so much cheaper.
Leo: If you're seeing finger print readers in Samsung and Apple phones, it can't be too expensive.
Harry: It's like a chicken and the egg situation. You need the hardware, you need the software, you need consumers to want to use it.
Leo: If it's Face recognition—Microsoft said you can't just use the camera you got. It's got to have infrared sensing. It's more like the Connect.
Ed: It's the same technology that they’ve been using with Connect at one time. There are liveness tests with it.
Leo: Otherwise you could pull up a picture of Ed Bott and it would look like you, but it has to test to see if your infrared is—
Jason: We need to factor authentication. We need it in the worst way. So many of the breaches and things that happened is poor security, but passwords still are the weakest link. We need to factor, so anything that pushes it forward is a good thing. I think you have to look at this as something that's needed. The question is how to implement it. Can it move the needle? Can it get a lot more people on it more quickly? We've talked about it. It's the largest platform out there, even though it's now 15% of all computing devices, whereas it used to be closer to 90. It's still one of the biggest chunks. If it can move this forward in a meaningful way, it makes the world more secure.
Leo: April 5, 2006. 9 years ago Ed Bott wrote an article: Why does Microsoft Passport Suck? Good news. You can recycle that article, Ed. Who'd have thought it? Isn't that funny? That's the other Passport. It's a single sign on. So Fido, for some reason, I get the sense that Google—they're not involved with it, right?
Ed: They're a bit part of it.
Leo: That's good news. It needs to be a standard that everybody gets behind, right?
Ed: Visa and MasterCard, almost all the banks are involved with Fido. You can put it on Windows devices. You've already got Samsung and Apple devices that have touch ID. They can add this same basic type of authentication. If you have people doing this, there are no more passwords anymore. At least for those transactions. There's no password being stored on a server that could be stolen by some guy in the Ukraine. There's no password that you are typing into your laptop when you're sitting in a coffee shop that can be stolen by a guy who has hacked into the Wi-Fi access point. This is all well tested cryptographic technology. There's no reason why this can't work and work well and sooner than anybody expects.
Leo: It's going to look a lot like touch ID does right now with Apple pay. This is from Fido Alliance site. Password experience, password less experienced would be you want to make a transaction, you've authenticated to your hardware for instance with a touch ID on an IOS device. The 2 factor adds additional dongle.
Ed: It's simply where you've gone through a process of enrolling that device. So if you have an iPhone or a Windows phone or whatever, it has a cryptographic device on it.
Leo: Authentication is one of the central issues in computing. It's for payments, it's also for logging into a website. We didn't have passwords a hundred years ago, except maybe to get into a speakeasy. Swordfish. But before that, nobody had passwords. This is only a recent problem created by the web. Boy, I would love to see it solved.
Harry: It's amazing how long the hardware has existed. When did the first PCs with finger print scanners come out? 15 years ago? Maybe longer. It never has caught on, but it does feel good now.
Leo: So the second factor could just be your phone. Maybe you had a pin. A pin plus the phone would be a two factor—
Ed: That would actually be a 3 factor. If you had biometric, it's multi factor authentication. Basically imagine the nightmare scenario for a Hollywood star who has their picture everywhere. Their password gets stolen, but if the only way into the secrets they don't want to share is with a device that has been enrolled to them, the fact that you've stolen their secret and the fact that you can place a picture of them in front of the camera, you've got to have their device too. At that point, you've got multi-factor identification, that works pretty well.
Leo: Good news. This would be great. Our friend Steve Gibson has created a thing called Squirrel, which eliminates passwords logging into websites. It's similar. In some ways it's more elegant than Fido, but the fact that you've got all these elements backing up Fido seems to me, even if there's a better solution out there, this seems like it's going to go. Not a moment too soon I might add. I have a Yubkey that is Fido 2 compliant. It's one of those USB devices you plug in there. I guess that would be a form of authentication.
Ed: The Yubikey works with last pass. One of the biggest—I've used that before. Basically, you're traveling somewhere and you go to a hot spot in some dodgy place, and you want to have last pass authenticate you in somewhere. If someone has stolen your last pass password, they can't get into your store of extremely valuable passwords unless they have that USB key, and then when they take that USB key away, whatever you entered on that PC is no longer useful.
Leo: The last 3 TWIT episodes have been almost entirely devoted to the Apple Watch. Thank God we have something else to talk about, and we have someone in the chatroom saying, "Where's the Apple Watch news?" We just go where the news leads us. Believe me, we'll be talking about the Apple Watch in a few weeks. I'm sure we're not done with that. This was a story, and I want some clarification on this, Bob, because I can swear that two or three months ago on Windows Weekly, we said Microsoft is going to—Project Spartan, is going to replace Internet Explorer, and it's going to have a new name. For some reason this week, every blog in the world published this. Here's Tom Warren on the Verge. "Microsoft is killing off the Internet explorer brand." Didn't we know this? What's new?
Leo: Just checking.
Harry: They're not really killing it off.
Leo: They're still going to put it on Windows for compatibility.
Harry: It's Microsoft. There will never be a clean transition. I think they said it in a clearer fashion. When they first showed Spartan, they did not say, "This thing will definitely not be called IE." They're not saying what Spartan will be called.
Leo: Right, they haven't come up with a name yet. Spartan is different than IE. They forked the engine, whether the fork will eliminate plugs.
Ed: There are two problems here. One is ad-ons. If you have a browser that runs ad-ons, it becomes a vector for malware and things that cause pop ups.
Leo: Chiefly Adobe reader and Flash.
Ed: Anything with the Ask brand name. There's that. The bigger part of the problems with web compatibility these days are websites that are written and tested because they assume that the entire world runs on Chrome. So you show up with another browser, whatever it is, even if it's Opera, which is running on a rendering engine that is very similar to Chrome. Actually, Opera these days is running on Blink.
Leo: Really? Which is Google's web kit.
Ed: I've run the latest version of Opera, and I've gone to websites that fail because the developers—basically Chrome is now the new Internet Explorer.
Leo: Chrome market share is not in the game, it's Chrome.
Ed: In terms of the thing that people write websites to work with.
Harry: People write websites, they use Chrome. It's like Windows. I think there are large parts of the world where market break down is different. I also feel, by the way, that nobody knows for sure the market shares of web browsers. If you look at the three or four biggest companies, they're radically different. They have different people in the first place. With some of them, Firefox looks bad, and with some of them, Firefox looks like it's doing pretty well.
Leo: Here's the good news. We have choice, and there's a standard which means that websites look alike no matter where you go or what you use, right?
Ed: There are so many standards. That's the great thing about standards is there are so many of them.
Leo: We're involved in a web redesign right now. It's fascinating to watch. What's nice for web developers is that there are now tools that will make it so you just put some code in it and it automatically checks the browser. It's hard to do.
Harry: Sometimes when I put together websites I've suddenly noticed they don't really work at all. They may not work well in Spartan.
Leo: Is Spartan going to be more standards compliant? What does that even mean?
Harry: For the last god knows how many years, every version of IE Microsoft always says is it standards compliant. We're not going to assume the world is going to tweak everything to work in IE anymore. That mantra has been going on for 7 or 8 years or more. Unless they actually adopt, there will be some technical challenges.
Ed: So the thing about web standards—first of all, there's two standards organizations. There's W3C, and what WG or something. There's basically two standards organizations, but the reality is that web technology is moving so quickly that basically by the time a standard is declared, it was already adopted 12 or 18 months earlier. So the defacto thing now is does it run on Chrome? Have you tested it on other things? Put it into production. If people complain about it, we'll fix it, if it's a big enough market for our company to pay attention to this group of people who are complaining about it. That's the reality. The standards these days are defacto, not actual declared standards anymore.
Leo: I'm sorry, I got distracted. Somebody sent us a link to windows93.net. Have you seen this website?
Ed: I have, I love it.
Leo: Thank you chatroom for ruining the rest of my day. Let's see, what is this? Credits, here is who wrote it. Then when you close the window it's kind of whoa. "Warning, a satanic kitten orgy is happening on Zkype right now. We are rooting hard, restoring the normality, stay tuned." Okay. Acid Box 93. I don't know what this is. This is like zombo.com, right? This is the gift that keeps on giving, windows93.net. What happens if I pick Shut Down? Oh, it shuts down, and reboots. Very true to life.
Ed: It did restart quickly though.
Leo: Much faster than normal. Let me try one more time if I can shut this down. See, now it's rebooting again. I like the Startup sound. I will play with this more later. Thank you to whoever mentioned this in the chatroom.
Ed: But Leo, the problem with Spartan is that we are almost into April now, right?
Ed: And Windows 10 is going to ship this summer.
Ed: So let's just pick mid-summer. Let's just say that sometime in early August would be a logical time for them to do whatever the 2015 equivalent of releasing to manufacturing is. No one outside of Microsoft has tested this new browser yet and we are less than 4 months away from...
Leo: That's not a good sign, is it?
Ed: That seems weird to me.
Leo: Yeah, it doesn't come in the Windows 10 Beta, which by the way, an update came out to that this week.
Ed: It's not in the latest update.
Leo: It's not in there? So you've got millions of people trying, testing, and banging on Windows 10, but not Spartan. That's not there. They don't even have a name yet that we know of. Here is another interesting story; John Russell at TechCrunch points out that at the end of the Microsoft announcement they mentioned that they are testing Windows 10 with power users of Xiaomi's Mi 4 Android smartphone? Windows 10 Phone runs on Android? What is the story here?
Ed: So you know how the HTC One M8...
Leo: You can get Windows Phone on it. It's gorgeous.
Ed: They have an Android version and they have a Windows version, and they are absolutely identical hardware except for the ROM. So what they are doing apparently is that they are reflashing the ROM.
Leo: And it works?
Ed: So then you can install Windows Phone on top of it in the same way that you can take your PC that you buy from your WhiteBox builder and you can put Linux on it or you can put Window on it.
Leo: That would be an interesting move for Microsoft to offer ROMs for smartphones for Windows 10 for Android devices. That would be very interesting. I would be interested. Are they thinking of doing that do you think?
Ed: God only knows.
Leo: They have to be careful because they don't want to give anybody the impression that Windows Phone is not a viable platform all by itself. Although I think that everybody has already got that impression. I do like the strategy that Microsoft has. I like it as a company that wants to do software, they want to do their own apps. The question about should we do a Windows Phone app is a tough one because while I want to support our Windows users and our Windows Weekly viewers we know how smart a market Windows Phone is. Microsoft solves that conundrum a little bit by offering that universal platform where we could develop for Windows Desktop and...
Leo: We could make one app that is metro. The thing that is compelling is if it would run on the Xbox. Which apparently it would, right?
Ed: For an app like yours it actually does make sense.
Leo: It's not complicated. I'm not running Excel here.
Ed: It's not complicated, and it's also a media consumption product that works on a device that is this big or one that is a 50 inch TV.
Leo: We have been kept off of Xbox One because of the ownerless process of making a Xbox app. It's very costly.
Ed: Yeah, so for a media app like yours the universal app does make sense. Now imagine banking for example.
Leo: Yes, of course. Chase just pulled its app from Windows Phone.
Ed: So did B of A.
Leo: So did B of A. Chase has actually taken the app away.
Harry: Based on lack of interest?
Leo: I don't know. It's too much trouble to keep it up to date and there is not enough people using it. I guess that it would be. If you are doing a banking app it's not like you can just say that we will use the old one. You have to at some point tell them that you can't continue to use the old one, it's not secure anymore or whatever.
Ed: I think that the argument was that at some point they were not going to be able to support it. It wasn't economically viable for them, the market wasn't big enough, and they said at some point it's going to break, so rather than wait until we do an update to our back end that causes it to break and we have to go oops to our however many thousands or tens of thousands Windows users there and say sorry, we broke it and we are not going to fix it; they said we are just going to pull it from the store. I think that they gave a month's notice or something, but they said rather than have this break unexpectedly we are going to have it break expectedly.
Leo: They told us last month that they were pulling it, but as of yesterday it started working. So, you know, even...
Harry: They did that knowing that this universal Windows development platform is eminent, which is not a great...
Leo: As of 3/22/15 we are no longer supporting the Chase Mobile App for Windows Phone. To continue to access your Chase accounts on your Windows Phone after 3/22, that's today, please visit chase.com in the browser.
Harry: It's kind of like the 1990's where if you were a Mac user one by one a bunch of really important things stopped being developed for your Mac because the people who were responsible had no faith in the continued viability of the platform.
Leo: It's sad in the same way too because Windows Phone is great.
Ed: There is another issue of the universal app story that doesn't work which is that all of those PCs will fully support web apps. So they will just say if you are using a PC why should we build a universal app that will only run on Windows 10 when we can just say open your browser, and go to chase.com, and sign in, and we will send you your 2 factor code, and you can do anything that you want to on the web. Then with an iPhone or with the Android Platform you have got enough 10s or 100s of million users that you can build an app that has additional capabilities, like you can take a picture of a check and deposit it or something. Those are the sort of unique capabilities that you get with a mobile app that you don't need on a PC.
Leo: I have to say that even the Android apps for some banks are pretty much just thinly veiled skins to browser interactions. It's pretty obvious, right? So why not just do a browser based app? Especially if you can make it secure and make it work? Why not? What is the disadvantage? I know, I was all excited about the universals thing, but you have poured water on that now.
Ed: It's what I do Leo.
Leo: One more Microsoft story and then we will move on. Sling TV comes to Xbox One. This is really more a story of Sling TV. This is really the first time that we have seen traditional cable channels go over the top, especially ESPN. I think this is kind of under the shadow of Apple apparently making moves, we think, this fall to do this.
Harry: Sony has PlayStation View as of last week.
Leo: Tell me about that, I haven't seen that.
Harry: It's the closest thing that Sling TV has to an arch rival right now. Right now it's only on PlayStations and only in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, but it's another over the top service that does 85 channels. It has richer functionality than Sling TV because it has cloud based DVR, and Catch Up, and On Demand. It's coming to the iPad. I think that Sony says that it is coming to other devices. I wrote about it, and I said that it was the closest thing to cable TV for the internet and it's really comparable pricing.
Leo: Doesn't it come down to the channels, not functionality? Is it the same channels?
Harry: It's a lot of them. It's not every single one. They don't have ESPN. They do have a deal with NBC and CBS.
Leo: NBC is doing the same thing with Apple. They are saying to Apple that we don't want to go along for the ride. We will have our own app.
Harry: Nobody has all of the channels that you want yet. But PlayStation View does have more channels than Sling does right now.
Leo: How much is it?
Harry: It starts at like $50 and it goes up to $70.
Leo: A month?
Harry: Yes. You are not going to get this and cable. If you are cheap you are not going to get this, it really is sort of a form of pay TV that happens to come across the internet to your PlayStation, but a well done one as far as I can see.
Leo: I will have to try it. Sling TV is $20 a month. You get ESPN 1 and 2, you get AMC, and when Mad Men returns in a month that is going to be a big deal.
Harry: And there are add on packs. The thing about Sling is that there are $5 add on packs and they are by theme, so if you like sports you can pay an extra $5. The PlayStation View pricing is more similar to tiers on cable where the more you pay the more channels you get. It's a sort of a random assortment of extra channels.
Leo: For $20 you get these basic ones; IFC, ESPN 1 and 2, CNN, Disney, and AMC Family. Then you can add Sports Extra, which gives you ESPN U, ESPN News, Universal Sports. There is a Kids Extra. There is a Hollywood Extra.
Jason: There are like 4 or 5 of them.
Leo: And each is $5.
Jason: So it is kind of comparable because it's $45 for all of them.
Leo: Yeah, but I'm not sure that I want all of them.
Ed: So what is interesting with Sling TV is that I actually Tweet stormed my setup experience with Sling TV on the Xbox One this week. It was not a good experience. They had some real problems. I was really excited because it was the first day that it was available, and I have a Xbox One in the living room, and I thought, oh, I will see what this is like. They are giving every Xbox One owner one free month with the basic service so that you can try it out there. It's really not a good sign up experience. So I talked to the folks from Sling TV, and they acknowledged that they had some problems with it. They now to appear to have fixed all of those setup processes, so I was able to use it last night, and so while it has some really appealing things to it; one of the things that I did was that I turned on the NCAA games last night and said this was great. Then I discovered, first of all, you can't pause.
Leo: Oh, it's like live TV.
Ed: Yeah, it is exactly like live TV. Apparently some of their channels will offer like 3 days of back content that you can watch. But even there it is up to the content provider on whether you can skip commercials or not and whether the fast forward and rewind buttons will work or not. When it worked for me last night the picture quality was just superb, it was really, really good. Then, all of the sudden at a very crucial part of the game it just started freezing up. It would go for 10 seconds and then there would be some guy standing there like this with a basketball leaving his hand, then it would start up again and I didn't know what happened, I had to see the scoreboard to see what had happened.
Leo: You, I presume, have very good internet. Your Skype is looking good.
Ed: Yeah, this was a wired full bandwidth 15 mb connection, so there wasn't anything there. I think that it is just that we are in, even though cord cutting is starting to happen and starting to really hurt cable and satellite providers, we are still early in the technology days.
Leo: It's not hurting them enough.
Ed: It's going to be messy for a long time. There is an entire generation of people who are going to say screw this, I will watch whatever is on my computer.
Leo: That's what I think.
Leo: That's what I think.
Jason: I see that already too. Exactly that.
Leo: We want an analog to our existing system of live TV to cable. They don't care. If it is on YouTube it's good enough.
Jason: There are so many channels. The thing that comes out again and again is that most people only watch 5-10 channels, right? For years we've been saying, okay, if they could offer them ala carte then probably they would keep more customers. Eventually people have kind of gotten hung up. Most of the people that I know under 30 do not have a cable subscription.
Leo: All you really care about is high speed internet, period. And you will figure it out.
Jason: Yeah, there more people in their 30s and 40s I see too, that are just tired of it. They don't watch enough of it. They don't have enough time, or whatever, and so they just cut. There are things that they want, and they wish that they could just pay for in ala carte, they would pay $5 a month or whatever for some of their favorite channels, but it's one of those things that it is going to be messy, it is ugly, and that is one of those solutions that there is a lot of tension in the solutions. At least it's finally happening. At least there are some options. 2015 seems like it has the potential to be like a watershed year.
Leo: It feels like there are cracks. I want to take a break, and when we come back I want to talk about Ben Thompson of Stratechery's take on this. He says, actually this is from an article that he wrote some time ago, "Cable TV is socialism. It works. Subscribers pay equally for everything and watch only what they want to the benefit of everyone. Any grand vision Apple or any tech company has for television is like to sustain the current model, not disrupt it directly." Think about that, we will talk about what that means and whether you agree in a moment. But first we have a word from Harry, or Harry's. Do you own Harry's?
Harry: I can enthusiastically endorse anything with Harry in the name.
Leo: You are going to love Harry's if you haven't tried Harry's yet, please. Harry's is fixing a problem that we all have, or most of us do, paying too much for overpriced razor blades. First of all, shaving is bad enough. I mean, really, let's face it guys, and gals too, I guess. It's just not fun to get up every morning and shave. Razors are expensive, they run about $4 a blade. If you shave every day you are spending hundreds of dollars a year on just razor blades. They are locked up. They are worth so much they are locked up in a cabinet at the drug store. Harry's had decided that they want to make this better. They want to make the shaving experience, hey it's not going to be fun, but it's going to be better. Actually, you know what? It could be fun. Harry's sells high quality razor blades at about half of the price of those big brand names because, and I love this, this is Silicon Valley mentality, when Harry's started a couple of years ago they said where do the best razor blades come from? Well, there are only 2 factories and they are both in Germany, so they bought one. They said, yeah, okay, we will take it. We will take a factory please. So now they control the production of this factory. They engineer for performance, for sharpness, and they ship them free to your front door. Because they sell them direct to you they can sell them at about half of the cost of the blade that you buy in the drug store. That is nice, factory direct. Because they own the factory. By the way, if you are going to go to harrys.com take a look at the kits because that is how you get started. You need the Harry's handle. Now, here is where they could really take you for a ride, but they don't. Take a look at the Truman, this is the base model. You get 3 blades, a gorgeous handle in a variety of colors, and you get either their foam or their cream. You know what, they both have their partisans. I like the cream that comes in a tube, but some people say that I prefer a gel, so they have a choice. For $15 you get all of that plus a travel holder which I really like. Three blades, the handle, and the gel or the cream for $15, but I am going to make it even more affordable. If you want a nice metal handle you can go out and get the Winston, which is the next one up, that's $25, you can even get it engraved with your name on it. Harry gives me a clean, close, comfortable shave. I have to say, it does make shaving a lot more pleasurable, and I love the cream. They even have a new moisturizer which you will like. Once you buy the kit, the starter kit, you are going to get those blades. You can say every month, every other month, as needed, automatically refilled. So here is the deal, you have got to try it. The kit is very affordable because we are going to give you $5 off at harrys.com. Your first purchase use the offer code TWIT and the number 5, TWIT5. H-a-r-r-y-s.com, that makes it $10 to try this. Get the Truman, you will love it. I get tweets all of the time from people who go crazy because they just love Harry's. You will love it too Harry. Be the smartest man in the bathroom at harrys.com. Make sure you use the offer code TWIT5 to get $5 off at checkout.
This is very interesting, I think that what Ben Thompson is really saying about cord cutting is that you have really got an entrenched industry; don't expect to save money. Don't even expect to change the structure of television if that is your plan because these incumbents are so entrenched and they have so much power. Apple can't come to them and say let's change this all this fall. Apple has been trying to negotiate these things for years with no success. Why all of the sudden are we saying that it is going to happen in the fall? I'm not convinced.
Harry: Well, the owners have loosened up a bit. That's why Sling TV exists, that's why the PlayStation stuff exists.
Leo: The content companies have loosened up, right? But I guess maybe they are less afraid of the cable companies. Is that why?
Harry: HBO is finally biting the bullet and doing this, so something is happening with or without Apple, but presumable Apple is going to do as good or better of a job as anybody pushing forward.
Leo: Somebody in the chatroom said, and I'm curious if you will dispute this, it doesn't matter because you are going to end up paying just as much. You aren't going to save money on a cord cutter scenario, you may even end up paying more.
Harry: You may have a little bit more flex to choose what you want. The nice thing about Sling TV is that you can do it a little bit cheaper and you will probably not end up subscribing to 75 channels that you never watch. You will have a smaller number of channels which you might watch.
Leo: Yeah, because then you only buy the stuff, as you said 5 channels, you only buy the stuff that you care about.
Harry: I would hope that Comcast and DIRECTV and everybody would be forced to respond to that in some shape or form.
Leo: Remember that the Comcast margin on internet according to Ben is 97%. It is a very profitable business. So all of us have been saying, oh man, Comcast is never going to let go of this premium TV business. Wait a minute. As long as they get the price high enough, 97% margin, they are going to be perfectly happy to be your internet service provider. I didn't realize that it was that high, but of course it is. With cable TV they are paying $16 a month for ESPN for every subscriber. Internet costs them nothing.
Ed: I'm a little skeptical about that number. They have fairly substantial capital costs.
Leo: Yeah, but once you do it, I don't think that the maintenance is huge on this stuff.
Ed: Yeah, well if you want to be able to deliver faster speeds to people you have got to dig up roads and put in fiber.
Leo: This is a good article in the MIT Technology Review that referred to, David Talbot wrote this in 2013, referred to by Ben Thompson in Stratechery, in which one of the things he said was that labor was actually the big cost. About 80% of the cost is the labor of digging up the street, not the fiber itself.
Jason: Sure, sure, and paying for permits.
Leo: Yeah, but once you get the fiber laid you are just rolling in dough.
Jason: They are going to have a reinvestment. They are due to have some reinvestment. A lot of the stuff that is there is stuff that they have had for years. Google Fiber is putting pressure on them and others to do some big upgrades so that they can keep up. We have written about this on Tech Republic repeatedly. Google Fiber I think is for real and they see it as a massive opportunity.
Leo: They see it as a business not as a proof of concept?
Jason: I think that they see it as a business. I think that long term they see it as a business for Google. They know the internet, they know that everything that they do on the internet contributes to their bottom line, and they know that the companies that run this now are the least like companies as an industry. They are running below lawyers and journalists.
Leo: For a while the cable guy was outpacing heart attacks as the least desirable thing in America. I'm not making that up.
Leo: You would rather have a heart attack than see the cable guy.
Ed: Your heart attack will be here between 4 and 8 pm this evening.
Leo: It's more predictable, yes.
Jason: Exactly, it's more predictable. The thing is that Google sees this as a real opportunity. Because of that they are putting real pressure on...
Leo: Is it profitable, Google Fiber?
Jason: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Leo: It is? $70 a month.
Jason: Yes, especially right now, because they are going in and they are buying a lot of dark fiber. They are buying fiber that has been abandoned or fiber than was laid and nobody used it.
Leo: There is a lot of that.
Jason: There is, there is plenty. Municipalities have laid, like in Provo they went in, Provo was going to put fiber to the home in every place and the whole project fell apart. Google swooped in, bought all of that fiber at a cut rate, and made it active and turned it on, and is still turning it on, in Provo.
Leo: Let me ask you, you are in Chattanooga, right?
Jason: Yeah, not far away. So they have fiber there too.
Leo: They had Federal funds, they spent $110 million. Chattanooga municipality owns the fiber.
Leo: They charge a lot for access, it's gigabit. Is it open to other providers or are they the only provider on top of that?
Jason: I'm not sure about that Leo. I don't think at this point that it is open to other providers.
Leo: See, that is not what we want.
Ed: It's the new monopoly, same as the old monopoly.
Leo: Yeah, that's not what we want.
Jason: Right, exactly. We need competition. There is no doubt. The whole economic system that we live under in the United States is based on competition. When you don't have real competition then that's when things have problems. We've got an internet realm, and Google does all kinds of crazy, weird, things, and I do tip my hat to them for what they are doing in fiber. I think that they have made the right steps. They are not going everything right, we have written about that too. In some of these things they talk a big game about helping out little guys and giving out free internet. They will give you free internet in those Google fiber areas. You get a much more cut rate speed. They talk a big game about that, about rolling it out for free. In order to do it for free there are weird obstacles. You have to prepay for some of your equipment and things like that, and then it becomes cost prohibitive to the kind of people who could kind of really benefit from this kind of thing. So they have got plenty of kinks to iron out. In general they are on the right path and it's going to put pressure on the Comcasts of the world to do kind of upgrades. Back to what I was getting at with Ed's point was they were going to have to invest more in their networks to keep up with Google Fiber, and that's ultimately a good thing. That 97% profit margin is going to go down, but it's still going to be highly profitable.
Leo: Is this a good time to launch an over the top service or a bad time? Over the top means not over the television but over the internet.
Harry: There are some cool ones out there. I wrote about Shout Factory TV, which is all kind of quirky stuff, and there is Acorn TV, which is all British stuff.
Leo: It seems to me that it would be nuts to start a new cable channel today, which by the way is very expensive, as we found out at Tech TV.
Harry: All of the little guys are only being carried along because they are being carried along by that big price that you pay for the stuff that you do.
Leo: That's that socialism at work, yeah. The guy who started Discovery has gone on to create something called Curiosity Stream at curiousitystream.com. It is the same thing, it's streaming kind of Discovery style programming. You are going to be a little guy unless you hit a niche. This might be a niche, there are people who watch the history channel all day. Or you get the big show, you pull a Netflix and you get House of Cards.
Harry: Netflix is paying $5 billion dollars a year, or will be, for original content.
Leo: That's a lot of money. And that's tough because if you don't get a hit you've really thrown that money away. Hollywood is a hit based economy. A lot of these companies only make it because they have 1 in 10 massive successes.
Harry: You are not going to pay $8 a month for 15 different services.
Leo: You need to be the 1 or the 2...
Harry: Or you need to be the model that doesn't involve that. Shout Factory TV is actually ad supported.
Leo: Oh, that's interesting. So it's free?
Ed: Well yeah.
Leo: Hey, don't knock...
Ed: Two things about Google Fiber. Number one, there was a story a couple of weeks ago where they found some correspondence from Google to some of the municipal governments of the cities that they were planning to come in to. The communications from Google basically said, you know, if you make this easy, if you remove obstacles from the permitting process and make this easy for us to get in here then we will move into your community. Anything else we are not interested, we will just leave and go somewhere else. So they are basically just cherry picking places to come in. It's economically rational for them to do it. If I were running a business I would do it the same way. But they are cherry picking the places where they can run the business exactly the way that they want to. The second thing that I saw that seemed to be dot that deserves to be connect here is the thing about AT&T and their U-Verse service. Remember, they were offering if you pay us $10 more we won't sell your personal information to advertisers. Right, remember this? While I genuinely admire what Google is doing to bring high speed internet to large parts of the country it is also profoundly in their economic interest. Right now they only get information about you when you are visiting a site, and you are signed into Google, and that site has services like ad sends or Google analytics.
Leo: I want Google to know more about me.
Ed: When they own the fiber you won't have a choice on whether they know more about you. Literally every single packet that comes from your home to Google Fiber they will know about. So if you are happy with that that's great, but I think that it's something that we should be...
Leo: We should be aware of.
Ed: ...aware of and talking about.
Leo: I know that it's really bothering me. I want Google Now to be more useful. The more it knows about me the happier I am to be honest. What do I care? I want ads that I'm interested in. I don't want ads that I'm not interested in.
Jason: The city thing is interesting too. I think Google is absolutely going into the cities that make it easy for them, and I think that they are going in there first, and I think that their thing is that we will go in there first and you will be jealous of that neighboring city that you are really competitive with, now all of the sudden their small businesses, and their entrepreneur, and their citizens are getting better internet, and they are asking you why we don't have it. Why does Nashville and here in Memphis we don't have it? That will put pressure. I think that is their game.
Leo: They went into Nashville because they had a very low level of regulatory involvement. They greased it as Ed was saying.
Jason: Yep, yep. You can read a lot on this. You can read a bunch on this at Tech Republic. Connor Forrest has done some really good research, including the cities that were most likely to get Google Fiber next that have sort of the factors that play into their favor.
Leo: Oh really?
Leo: I would throw the whole city council of Petaluma out of office and elect robots if we could get Google Fiber. Rubber stamping Google bots. Why should I worry, Ed, about Google knowing every TV bit I watch and every internet that I watch?
Ed: I don't think that anyone should be able to collect and preserve every bit of information that you have. If you want to opt into that, if you think that it's great, fine, but I don't want anyone collecting and collating a database of information.
Leo: I'm curious, I'm willing to let you talk me out of this, but what is the harm you are worried about?
Ed: We have been through this before, and the harm is when they sell that information to someone else who makes a decision about you like an insurance company. A health insurance company decides to deny you coverage because of something that they found in your internet history. An employer decides that they are not going to hire you because there is something in a database about you. The real problem, to me, is that these random collections of data about us can create an impression that is incorrect. That's the worst part. I want control over it.
Leo: If you take a picture of yourself eating donuts and put it on Facebook you could be doing the same damage. At least I get something from my Google overlords.
Ed: But if a friend of mine develops esophageal cancer, and I go and start doing some searches to learn more about their disease, and an insurance company decides that I'm a poor risk because they think that historically 90% of people who research esophageal cancer are doing so because a member of their family has been diagnosed with this and so therefore we are going to deny them coverage. At the moment we have laws in this country that make it impossible for them to deny that kind of coverage, but who knows in the future? Let's say that I happen to like to follow the horse races, and I apply for a job and the employer finds this in my internet history which is available from Google, and decide nope, your profile matches with people who are unreliable employees so we are not going to hire you. The trouble is that it creates an impression of you that is based on algorithms and averages, and not who you really are. I don't like that.
Harry: Is this something to worry about more today than it was with some other ISP 10 years ago or with AOL 20 years ago? Google is smarter at this stuff.
Ed: Sure it is. Look at how much storage is available today. The trouble is that 10 or 15 years ago nobody could afford to store data for more than a few days. Now the web analytics companies that you have never heard of are collecting massive amounts, inconceivable amounts, of information. I know that word doesn't mean that. It's unfathomable amounts of information. They are collecting it because they can, and at some point the technology for analyzing it will catch up. When that happens it's too late. So I use a service, for example, that when I go to Google it anonymizes my searches and doesn't let them know who I am so that my history is blurred.
Leo: Google Now is not very useful then. Google knows what I've searched for, so they give me information on my Google Now that's useful.
Ed: And if you want to opt into that that's awesome.
Leo: I have. I've opted to it full time.
Ed: That's great, that's great. I haven't, and I don't want to live in a world where I don't have the...
Leo: I understand. But you have the choice.
Ed: I have to take great pains to avoid having my information go into Google's mighty databases.
Jason: But the point that Ed mentioned that was most important was that we don't even really have the ability to analyze it really. Google can better than most, but there will be data analysis getting better and better. It hasn't caught up, but it will, and if you can store the information than you can analyze it. So that is worth being worried about. That is worth being concerned about. It is stuff that we should talk about and encourage public debate about those kinds of things.
Leo: I just feel like we might be falling into the pit of technopanic when we do that.
Ed: You are a privileged white male Leo. We all are. We are all privileged white males. And we are very lucky to be part of this non diverse panel that doesn't have to worry about a lot of the economic consequences that affect people who aren't privileged white males like us.
Jason: Well said, well said.
Ed: I didn't mean to be too forward.
Leo: No, no, I always ask you these questions because I want to be talked out of it and I have yet to be talked out of it. I give you a chance every time. We will see. I feel like there are probably lots of ways that people are gathering information about us that we aren't aware of anyway. I get value out of Google, and it's somewhat in Google's interest to not sell stuff to insurance companies because they want to keep getting information. As soon as these imaginary harms, because they are currently imaginary, happen, your concern is that it will be too late to turn back the clock. My point is that if this does happen then people are just going to say, oh crap, don't use Google anymore, and they are out of business.
Ed: The trouble is that it's not just Google. There are dozens of companies that you have never heard of.
Leo: I agree, and it's happening like crazy.
Ed: That are collecting huge amounts of data, and they are buying databases, and they are using them to make decisions that affect people's lives.
Leo: That I agree with. But that's why I'm not worried about Google. Should we worry about Google?
Ed: Well, so, okay, so let's play science fiction scenarios here. Google is doing great right now, they are making great money. Imagine that all of their moonshots fail, and all of the sudden their advertising business starts to collapse in a couple of years in the same way that Microsoft's Windows business collapsed.
Leo: But don't you think TransUnion, I understand what you are saying, and it's the same thing as the NSA gathering information. If the government turns against us all of that information is useful. We are in deep trouble anyway I think. Look at TransUnion and Equifax. These companies know more about you then anybody, and they are using it against you all of the time. It's already happening. Whether you use Google or not makes no difference.
Ed: So just lie back and enjoy it?
Leo: Yeah, because Google gives me some value at least. Value that TransUnion and Equifax don't.
Ed: Well again, the fact that you want to opt into that is awesome.
Leo: I feel like you are kind of fatalistic and that you have given up. Maybe I've given up.
Ed: No, no, you are the one who is fatalistic.
Leo: That's right, I've given up.
Ed: You are the one who is saying, oh, there is nothing that we can do for them collecting this data, so we might as well take advantage of the wonderful ads and...
Leo: I wish the credit reporting agencies didn't exist, but they do. What am I supposed to do about that? Not use a credit card? Get off of the grid?
Harry: Ed, why don't you use DuckDuckGo or something like that?
Leo: I'm sure that he does.
Harry: Try that rather than Google.
Ed: DuckDuckGo really has inferior information sources. That's the problem.
Leo: See, then I have problems with this, because then there is an ethical issue. It's like using an ad blocker. It’s an ethical issue, because you are saying that you like Google better but you are not willing to pay for it with your data. Right? That's the cost of Google.
Ed: No, I use Bing for some things, I use Google for other things, but I also try to take advantage of perfectly legal techniques that allow information not to leave my computer and go on to the internet.
Leo: Yeah, but that is the cost of using the better search service called Google.
Leo: Isn't it?
Ed: No, no, no. We could get lost in this. I will pick on my own site right now.
Leo: You are a freeloader Ed.
Harry: If 100% of the people were like Ed it wouldn't work.
Ed: Go to zdnet.com. That's the argument that the advertising companies make is that the internet won't work if you don't allow us to collect every single bit of information that is out there. What I am saying is disclose, give us choices, give us transparency on the amount of information that is out there, and stop indiscriminately collecting things and storing it.
Harry: I don't think that Ed has a problem because people were all worked up about ad blockers destroying the web and it never happened because even though a fairly large number of people use them they are still a small minority. The business model still works if a small minority of people aren't seeing the ads.
Leo: It's unethical. To me it is unethical. You are saying I want to use your service for free, and what you are asking me is for ad impressions, and I'm not going to give them to you.
Harry: If Google really wanted to do that they could make Ed agree not to do that, and as far as I know Google doesn't do that.
Leo: Yeah, because they don't care. But it still doesn't mean that it's not ethical. That it's not unethical.
Ed: Most of the reasons that people use ad blockers today have nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with do with the god awful experience that comes with having too many ads.
Leo: By the way, Google pulled Adblock Plus from the Play Store for that very reason. Apparently they don't like people blocking ads. Maybe they don't like it really.
Harry: They are not crazy about it, but it is not destroying them.
Leo: I think that there is this impression that this should all be free, but hey, it's expensive to be Google. It ain't cheap.
Ed: Google is getting lots of information from me. What I don't do is stay signed into Google services and allow every single website that has Google analytics or Google adsence on it to collection information about me that I didn't enter into an agreement with them to give them.
Ed: I don't see anything ethically problematic with that. When I go to Google I'm signed in, they know who I am, you know? If I go and check Gmail, if I go to YouTube and post a comment, it's done with my real name.
Leo: You would prefer not, though, right?
Ed: Oh no, no, no, no, it's not like that at all. It's the 27 different tracking services on a single web page that are then taking information about me and trying to build a profile about me that is being stored in a million different places. This isn't tin foil hat stuff, this is what is happening now.
Leo: I would point out that all 4 of us work in ad supported media. That's how we...
Ed: I allow ads on the pages there. It's tracking Leo. It's tracking, and collection, and storage of data. It's not advertising. I'm not blocking ads.
Leo: Well I am proud to say that we do not track our viewers in any way.
Ed: See? And guess what?
Leo: It works. Our ads work anyway.
Ed: Right. You see? It's not about ads, it's about tracking.
Leo: Right. Yeah, okay, I will grant you that. Although all of the advertisers in all of your pages do track. Mine don't. You can't tell me that ZDNet does not have trackers on your page.
Ed: They have more trackers than most. ZDNet and Tech Republic have more trackers than most websites do. I don't like it and there are products that I recommend for people to limit the amount of tracking that is out there. If I ran the network I would run it differently, but I don't. I'm a contributor.
Leo: We are lucky because we don't need to track and I don't want to track. Yeah, it's an interesting point.
Jason: You don't need to. Your ads actually do work. I was thinking the other day of all of the stuff that I have gotten introduced to from TWiT.
Leo: Yeah, they are very effective.
Jason: The last time I was on, I almost said this the last time I was on, so I'm glad that you brought it up. I remember Squarespace I got introduced to, Audible I got reintroduced to, I remember Ford ran for a while like the same year that I ended up buying a Ford car, it was like Ford was advertising for you guys.
Leo: One thing that we do do, and one of the reasons that it's coming up is because I have been in this debate with some people this week because we are doing our annual survey. The only thing that we do is that we do a survey every year. It's completely opt in, and we invite you to do it at twit.tv/survey, where we try to get a better idea of who our audience is, what your interests are, and what shows you listen to. None of that information goes, the only information that goes to advertisers is percentages. We don't even keep track of who you are or anything like that. But even if we did that doesn't go to advertisers. What goes to advertisers is you know, whatever, 78% of TWiT listeners are males with an income of $150,000 or higher. That is the only kind of information that goes to them. They want to know that information because they want us to get some idea of who they are advertising to. Although frankly I think that the only thing that really matters to any advertiser is how much money is it going to cost and how much am I going to make? As long as the second number is bigger than the first by a significant amount they are happy. But they kind of, you know, I think that it's make work. They give you a chart that shows who you are buying. Anyway, that's all that we do. In fact, if you would like to take the survey we would appreciate it at twit.tv/survey. We do that once a year just so we get an idea. Some of this actually goes back to programming. We pay attention to what you are interested in and what you watch, whether we need to do video, and audio, and stuff like that. If it's too long or too invasive you don't need to do it, it's quite alright. That is not part of the deal. However, the more you watch the happier we are. If you missed anything this week you missed a lot. Let's take a look.
Video playing: Previously, on TWiT. Oh no, it's going to blow. This is just like the Apple Watch event. All of that build up but very little release. Tech News Today. Microsoft announced yesterday that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for current Windows users, even those using pirated versions of Windows. Every other operating system is free now. Microsoft need to make money somewhere else, Skype subscriptions, ad sales. Tech News Tonight. It looks like Mario the Plummer and Pokémon are finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the smartphone world. Today Nintendo announced a joint venture with Japanese company DNA to create new smartphone and tablet games using their most popular characters. Security Now. What do you think of laptop manufacturers, even Apple, using USB Type C for power? We have talked about bad USB before. We are going to need a condom, a USB charging condom. As soon as someone has I will tell everybody. You should do it. You should call it the Spinright Power Condom. TWiT, put down the keg and tap the TWiT.
Leo: Okay, it was St. Patrick's Day, alright? You see, the power condom is a good idea if anyone wants to use this on Kickstarter. The issue is these new Type C connectors on both the Apple MacBook and on my new Pixel, they are not just power, they are data. So bad USB, which is the firmware hack that can be used, you know, with USB to infect a system and infect other systems could in theory if you were at a coffee shop and wanted to borrow some power they could make it not just a power cord, but a data cord, and infect you. So his condom is brilliant, it's just a male to female Type C connector with just power wires and no data wires. So you just carry that around with you and you can use whatever charger you want because there is no data. I'm telling you; Kickstarter you can make a million.
Jason: Kickstart that.
Leo: Kickstart that.
Jason: Somebody Kickstart that tomorrow.
Leo: That's a good show idea. Kickstart That.
Jason: That's a great show idea.
Leo: Kickstart That. We tried a show called I'd Fund That. So you had a crowdsource thing and if we liked it we would say I'd fund that, and then if you didn't like it we would say go fund yourself. It didn't take off.
Jason: It was like Shark Tank.
Leo: It was kind of a crowdsourced Shark Tank. Except I'm not investing any money. I'm not Mark Cuban. Our show today is brought to you by Personal Capital. I love these guys. This was somebody I met, Ed Harris, he was one of the guys that started PayPal with Elon Musk. Elon Musk started PayPal. He knows a lot about finance, a lot about money, he was the CEO of Intuit, and he kind of watched what was going in the world, and he said you know what the real problem is? People are investing, they are saving for retirement, but the real issue is that they are not really paying attention to where their money is and what their money is doing I think because they are all on different sites with different passwords. I think that there needs to be an easy kind of financial dashboard where you could see what was happening with your money, track it, help you budget it, take a look at your 401k, make sure it's properly invested, that you aren't paying too much in mutual fund loads or investment commissions, things like that. This is so cool, and it's actually free. It's actually 3 different businesses. So let's start with the free and simple thing, which is merely go to personalcapital.com/twit, and set it up so that you could now get this dashboard. You can get it on your computer, your tablet, your mobile device, your phone, the IOS and Android, they have apps, and they have apps now for Android Wear watches. So you've got all of this information. You know where you stand. It's absolutely free. It's really useful. You can make smarter financial decisions. You can balance your portfolio, things like that. Now, this is the second part of it, and they offer this as a freebie to you, if you are tracking accounts that add up to over $100,000 assets or more, they give you free 30 minute review with one of their financial advisors. These are certified financial planners, they are not working on commission. In fact, this is totally free. You can discuss your financial goals, your risk tolerance, time horizon. For most people that 30 minute checkup gives you the basis, the foundation to make sure that you are planning for your retirement properly and your investments are optimized. Take control of your financial future; Personal Capital gives you total clarity and transparency so that you can make better investment decisions right away. And if you put $100,000 or more in assets in your dashboard, and by the way that includes all of the assets, your house, your car, your savings, you will get that free 30 minute portfolio consultation. You can also invest through Personal Capital, that is the third part of the business. We will talk about that another time. Just set up your free account right now, personalcapital.com/twit. Take advantage of that free 30 minute phone call, or not. Use the dashboard, it's great; personalcapital.com/twit. They are now tracking $120 billion in personal finances. That's pretty amazing. Pretty incredible.
Leo: We are talking TWiT with Jason Hiner of Tech Republic. Great to have you Jason!
Jason: It's always a pleasure.
Leo: In beautiful Louisville.
Jason: Hey, you got me. You remembered.
Leo: I think that I see the giant Louisville Slugger bat back there. Is that what that is? No.
Jason: I wish that it was.
Leo: That's the best thing, the Louisville Sluggers are in Louisville. Are you getting ready for the Derby?
Jason: Yes, Derby is coming up, a little over a month away, first weekend in May.
Jason: Oh yeah.
Leo: Do you do that? Do you get to put on a funny hat and get your fascinator out?
Jason: You have got to be a high roller to get to the Derby, so no. But TechRepublic, true story, TechRepublic, during the .com boom when money was cheap, TechRepublic had a booth, a suite on millionaires row, a huge amazing suite on millionaires row for the Derby. Of course, it was dc money, so it was good times. But yeah, now I watch it on TV like most of the rest of us.
Leo: While drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon. A Miller High Life with your shoes off. So that's good. Life is good. Tell us about the book really quick.
Jason: Follow the Geeks is the book that I am working on with Lindsay Gildman. We are co-authoring this book that is focusing on digital entrepreneurs, on people who have had to figure out how make it on their own. The thesis is that the future of work is a lot more entrepreneurial, so we are finding people who have not follow a traditional career path, and go out and interesting things. So we are releasing them on the internet as we finish the chapters too. The book itself will be published in the second half of the year, the whole thing. But as we finish the chapters we are releasing them on the internet for free for a limited time, you know, one at a time. So chapter 1 was Baraton DeThure, chapter 2 was Lisa Betney, and chapter 3, just released on Friday, is Gina Trapani.
Jason: We've already gotten so much wonderful feedback.
Leo: She's great.
Jason: I love Gina, and she's such a great story. She's so self-effacing and doesn't brag about herself and her own story. I was really glad that we were able to tell her story and get it out there for people to see all of the great stuff that she has done. So that one is available for free and will be available for free until 4 is released sometime next month.
Leo: That's so great. You did an IndiGoGo for this initially. How did that work out for you?
Jason: Yes, it was good. What we did was we did that because we are self-publishing. The IndoGoGo was about raising money quickly. Typically when you do a book you get an advance, and that advance pays for your time, it pays for different things, to pay for your research costs to go and be able to do the book. So we did the IndiGoGo to cover the research cost, but also to cover the cost of doing the initial print run for the book and the cost of someone to do an audio book. We are going to release this in 4 forms, paperback, hard back, audio book, and eBook. So you have to pay someone to do the layout of the book and that kind of thing. We raised enough to cover the basic costs of doing the book so that we can self-publish and sell directly to your readers. We will sell through Amazon and other outlets, but we have opened preorders. You can preorder the book in all 4 of these formats on our site followthegeeks.com. One of the things that we are doing as we release these chapters, like for Gina's is we are asking people to give their feedback on what is most interesting in her story, what they think the impact she had, the most important impact she had, the most important insights other people can learn about navigating the digital world of the future and the future of work from her story. We are going to take the best insights and we are going to publish those at the end of each chapter in the final version.
Leo: Oh, that's neat. So everybody who watches TWiT knows Gina very well and it's very funny to read her story, which I did not know. As has been the case with all 3 of these chapters, I know all 3 of them and I learned a lot about all 3 of them. It's great. The book is chapter by chapter, but you have got to read it when the chapter comes out because it's not going to be out for long. Followthegeeks.com, chapter 3 is all about Gina Trapani.
Jason: Yes, also @followthegeeks on Twitter.
Leo: I will be buying this book the minute it comes out. I can't wait. Thank you Jason. Also here is the technologizer Harry McCracken. You enjoying Fast Company?
Harry: I'm having a great time. It's a really cool place to be.
Leo: I really like Fast Company. It used to be a print magazine, right?
Harry: It still is. I just finished our first story for our next issue.
Leo: They are still printing?
Harry: We have a magazine is doing well and newsstands sales are up.
Leo: Oh good.
Harry: It's kind of weird to be working for a print publication that is doing well in 2015.
Leo: Is this Enterprise focused?
Harry: We put together a really good product. There are magazines out there where their reaction to it being challenging to publish a magazine is to do it as cheaply as possible. We do a really high quality magazine that people care about. A lot of the time I go out, and I meet people, and they say that they subscribe to one magazine and that magazine is Fast Company. And we have a great website which has way more content than you could ever put in print.
Leo: Is that the Tim Stevens? Or is that a different Tim Stevens?
Harry: On our website?
Leo: Yeah, is he writing for you guys?
Harry: If he is that's news to me. I think that it would be really cool.
Leo: Yeah, nice, fastcompany.com.
Ed: Tim Stevens still works for CNet.
Leo: That's what I thought. So it must be another. I guess it must be like a name that could...
Harry: I would happily steal Tim Stevens.
Leo: I know, don't we love a Tim Stevens? And from ziffdavis.net, ZDNet, zdnet.com, zdcom.net. What is it?
Ed: It's not Ziff Davis. It's zdnet.com.
Leo: It's not Ziff Davis, and it's net.com, not com.net.
Ed: We go through this bit. ZDNet is not Ziff Davis and vice versa. It was this grand fracturing of the universe.
Leo: I was there for it. I remember it well.
Ed: Back at the turn of the century. You were there.
Leo: And former Editor in Chief of Windows magazine, right?
Leo: I'm sorry, PC use?
Leo: PCC, PC Computing, I know it was one of them. You know, nobody cares anymore. It's all just a stack of some paper in a library.
Ed: It really is, although I have to say, I just signed up for a 3 year subscription to Fast Company based on Harry joining them.
Leo: That's good news.
Ed: There Harry, tell the circulation department.
Harry: We saw the uptick when you subscribed.
Leo: Every subscriber counts.
Ed: There was a blip there. No, ZDNet, actually we are a sister site of Jason's TechRepublic.
Ed: Same management under CBS Interactive. A very good company to work for. I really enjoy the people that I work with, and the content that we do is diverse and interesting, and they give me a lot of freedom to write a lot of stuff that makes me happy. So I like it.
Leo: Facebook's F8 Conference is coming up this week. That's the big developer conference. Do we have any prognosis or any predictions as to what might be happening? It's an interesting company to watch because they are very forward thinking. Mark Zuckerberg seems to be very smart. They seem to be pushing the envelope in a lot of ways.
Harry: They have 2 keynotes, and the second keynote looks like it’s all Oculus. If we are lucky it will be some of the details of the consumer launch of Oculus that we still don't know.
Leo: I have seen the future of VR, and it's pornography. I'm not kidding you at this point. I know, everybody snicker away. I have been to the VR store. We always say that technologies like VHS, DVD, and the web get pushed forward...
Leo: ...chatrooms, by adult entertainment. I have to say that I was a little skeptical on this whole VR thing. The Oculus Rift makes me a little queasy, and it was because I was playing video games, right? But somebody showed me, and I'm not going to name names, but somebody said Leo, look at this. I was actually using the Galaxy Gear VR, but it's Oculus technology, similar technology. There is a site, there is probably more than one at this point, that makes VR movies, adult movies. It's, well, it's like being there. The minute I saw it I realized oh my god, nobody knows about this yet, but when this happens forget Call of Duty, I've got Call of Booty! Have any of you tried this stuff? No, you would never admit it. Go ahead, ask me all of the questions that you've got. Go ahead, I know that you are thinking about this.
Harry: That probably will not be the big news at F8.
Leo: Well, but you have got to think that they are aware of this and that they are thinking a little bit. It's interesting because in the HD DVD vs Blu-ray wars there was a little blip there because HD DVD prevented adult entertainment. Who survived that war?
Harry: Way back when I think that AOL knew about a lot of the stuff that people were doing on AOL. While they did not promote it, they also did not prevent it.
Leo: That's the key. Turn a blind eye. I have to say, I don't know what to say. I'm not going to spend a lot of time in a VR helmet. I'm telling you that right now. But until you have experienced it it's hard to imagine how realistic it is. Now I suppose the same would be true of other things, but I can't think of, like you don't really want to be emmersed in a Superman movie, you don't want it to be a first person experience, I guess flying or something, but it's a limited thing. There is one form of entertainment that naturally lends itself to this, and that's porno. Alright, I'm sorry that I brought it up, but I'm telling you, you heard it here first. So that won't be part of the Facebook announcement?
Harry: Most likely not.
Leo: What are they going to talk about, gaming?
Harry: There is platform stuff. It's a developer conference, so presumably it will be about apps. They still have not talked about the pricing or the exact release date. Then the first day of F8 is general Facebook news. The big thing that they are talking about is Messenger starting to be a platform.
Leo: What does that mean, turn Messenger into a platform? John Constein wrote about this on TechCrunch.
Leo: But we already have Venmo and other systems for doing that, right? Is this going to be different than doing that? Can't you do payments in WhatsApp, or is that not yet out?
Jason: Not that I'm aware of.
Leo: No, they were going to do that, but maybe they haven't done it yet. Alright, payments, WeChat does it, LINE does it, but those are very Asia specific. So payments will be one, but you know, it's so funny, that's the other side of the coin. I gave high praise to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's intelligence, and you've seen them launch apps that have sunk without a trace time and time again. Poke. What was it, there were like 3 apps that just went nowhere. Recently. I can't even remember the name anymore. What's another Facebook app?
Jason: Home, Home was one of them.
Leo: That was a flop.
Jason: Wasn't there a Facebook Camera as well?
Leo: They keep doing this stuff and it just doesn't grab. You can do whatever you want.
Harry: They have Paper, which I love. Paper is great. It's not setting the world on fire, but it's a really good app.
Leo: Nobody uses it.
Ed: Hey guys.
Ed: I've got to go. My bus is here.
Leo: Oh, Ed, alright, his ride is waiting for him. This has gone on way too long. Thank you Ed.
Ed: It's been a pleasure.
Leo: Okay, Larry Page's helicopter is waiting for you. His black helicopter is right out there. Just watch out.
Ed: Take care. I will Uber my way.
Leo: Ed Bott, zdnet.com; he is the greatest. Come back.
Harry: And goodbye.
Leo: And goodbye. What do you think that he meant when he said his ride was waiting?
Harry: Bus. One of his dogs probably.
Jason: Yeah, probably a dog.
Leo: You guys know Ed better than I do. Have you been looking at his Google feed? Facebook has got a challenge, doesn't it? It's rapidly becoming your parent's social network.
Harry: You mentioned LINE. LINE is making a fortune from third parties, and content, and using messaging as a platform for all kinds of entertainment. Maybe Facebook is watching that and wants to do something comparable.
Leo: Line made money in Stickers, as all of the Asian messaging apps did. I actually set up Line and played with it. It's kind of fun, they've got a bear, they've got characters.
Harry: They've got Brown and Coney.
Leo: Yeah, a bunny and a bear. Now they have LINE Pay.
Harry: They have a taxi service.
Leo: Oh, interesting, like an Uber style?
Harry: Over the last couple of months they have announce almost any service that anyone does. LINE has announced that they are going to do a virtual butler, they are going to be delivering meals...
Leo: But they live in a different world because they live in a world where the phone is much more central still than it is here, right? In Asia I feel like the phone is a much more primary computing platform. That will change in the US and the rest of the world soon.
Harry: But we are not that far behind anymore.
Leo: Right, so Facebook wants to be part of that. Alright, so we will watch. F8 is this week. What is the other keynote about?
Harry: I think that it is one keynote about general Facebook stuff and one keynote about Oculus stuff.
Leo: Alright, we are going to run really quickly, Pwn2Own in Vancouver, the big CanSecWest Security Conference, they do this every year. I feel like it's a little sketch. Teams of security researchers collect, all year, collect exploits. But they don't reveal them to the companies or to the public because they want them to be a secret advantage at Pwn2Own, there is a chance to win a lot of money. In fact, a South Korean researcher on Thursday, Jung Hong Lee, his team, he was by himself but his online name is Lokiheart, won $225,000 and a couple of laptops by hacking Internet Explorer 11 and Google Chrome on Windows as well as Safari on OSX. They use these exploits, usually chained exploits, or a variety of different exploits chained together to own those systems. After the event is over, the way that it works, you probably know, the contest sets up 64 bit versions of the top operating systems with the top browsers and then the teams go at them. If you can hack it you win the laptop and some cash. His attack on Google Chrome earned him the largest payout in the history of the competition for a single exploit. He got $75,000 for finding a Chrome bug, an extra $25,000 for a privilege escalation to system, another $10,000 for hacking the browser's beta version. $110,000 for Chrome alone. Then another $65,000 for IE 11 and $50,00 for Safari. The reason that I think that it is sketch is that these guys are coming up with exploits but don't reveal them until after the event. So your incenting people to find exploits. I guess in the long run you get them. I just worry that these exploits will become public knowledge before Pwn2Own. The final count for vulnerabilities, 5 flaws in Windows OS, 4 in IE 11, 3 each in Firefox, Adobe Reader and Flash Player, 2 in Safari, and 1 in Chrome. So basically there is no safe platform. You can be hacked on any platform.
Jason: Oh yeah.
Leo: Oh yeah. Pwn2Own. Speaking of hacking, greatfire.org, which is a really interesting organization to do the best that they can to reveal the Chinese, the Great Firewall of China, the Chinese government are keeping from their people, they are under attack. The Chinese government named them as an anti-Chinese website and now they are under a DDoS attack. They wrote on Thursday at time of writing 2.6 billion requests per hour costing them $30,000 a day in extra fees from their internet service provider, of course bringing the site down. All of their mirrors too.
Leo: Yeah, that's bad. I don't know what the current state is. I could log in. We've mentioned stories from them before. They are really good at keeping track of what is going on in China. Let's see if they come up. Yeah, they came up. But it's costing them a lot of money to stay up. This is the blogpost, "We are under attack." I think that I've worn you guys out, haven't I? Or are you just waiting to get off because oh my god, I want some VR porn? Alright, well, I will tell you what, let's just wrap this up in a second? Our show today is brought to you by Carbonite Online Backup. You have got to be backing up to get your data, to protect it, to keep it safe. Carbonite, automatic Cloud backup to give round the clock protection. I want to emphasize that it's great not just only for individual users, we talk about that all the time, I use it and I tell you about it, but also for business owners. Carbonite, if you are a hands on business owner, makes data backup hands free and hassle free. It backs up all of your digital assets to the Cloud automatically and securely. More than a million and a half people trust Carbonite and 70,000 businesses for around the clock protection of their business files, their databases, and their documents. You know what? It's affordable, it's easy, if you are using it at home you should try it at your business. Cloud backup done right. These guys, I know them well, and they've really got a commitment to finding a solution that works for you. Take a look at carbonite.com, it's a great case, actually now 75,000 businesses, some great case studies. And by the way, if you use the offer code TWIT when you sign up for the trial you get 2 free bonus months when you decide to buy. So that's all that I ask, just use the offer code TWIT at carbonite.com. If you are not using it maybe the time has come. People are being Pwn2Owned all of time. The French government is blocking websites. You know, you saw the Charlie Hebdo free speech marches, people going linked arm in arm promoting free speech. Then then French government decides to start blocking websites, not merely terrorist websites, and this is always the problem isn't it, but in fact websites that just have stuff that they don't like.
Jason: It's a slippery slope once you start.
Leo: It is.
Jason: That's why freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Constitution, right?
Leo: Yeah, there is no court review, no adversarial process, 5 websites were blocked in France, and you get a scary government website saying that you are being redirected to this official website. It said that your computer was about to connect with a page that provokes terrorist acts or condones terrorism publicly. Maybe that would be okay if it were true.
Harry: I don't think that it is true.
Leo: No, many of these, like islamic-news.info, were Islamic news sites. In fact, the owner of that site says I was never contacted to remove whatever material they were talking about, but I have never supported terrorism, in fact we have been very clear that we don't support ISIS or Al Qaeda at all. They are not fans I guess of Bashir al-Assad, who is. That is not a reason to block it. He says, "I don't share ISIS propaganda or content, in fact we have even denounced folks who have brought on attacks on Europe." But they just shut them down. That's sad.
Jason: Not good.
Leo: Not good. Read Harry's article on PlayStation View. I'm interested in that. I'm going to have to try it. Do I need a PlayStation 4? Can I do it on PlayStation 3?
Harry: Actually yeah, unless you have some pull with Sony.
Leo: Oh, it's a beta deal?
Harry: Well, you need to be in New York, or Philadelphia, or Chicago right now. Another cool thing that they have is that they have local stations, which is fine in New York City. They have lots of broadcast TV as well as cable channels.
Leo: See, that's the key. I could get most of what I want over the internet, it's the live stuff I can't, the broadcast stuff. We are too far north, we can't get San Francisco stations. So you can watch The Voice on this?
Jason: You can't get over the air from San Francisco from there?
Leo: No, we are just a little bit too far. I guess if I had a big old antenna on the hillside or something.
Jason: A big monster antenna up there?
Leo: No, I'm not going to do that. That's why god invented cable. God did invent cable. I don't know if people really know that. Alright, I've bored you enough. Go home and find something to watch on your VR helmet. Jason Hiner, don't forget the book followthegeeksbook.com. Great to have you Jason.
Jason: Thank you, always a pleasure. Great suspenders by the way.
Leo: I know, it's in honor of spring training, it's the opening day for Major League Baseball, commemorative suspenders. I had to take off my sweater when I started getting hot flashes. Apparently I'm menopausal.
Jason: Your color looks much better than it did.
Leo: I'm fine now.
Harry: You look great.
Leo: I was bright red before the show began. I think that I was having a hot flash. It is that time. Harry McCracken, nice to see you.
Harry: Nice to see you as well.
Leo: Give my love to Marie.
Harry: I will for sure.
Leo: Great to see you, I follow you on Instagram and Twitter, so always see you are always busy busy doing stuff.
Harry: She said to apologize for not being here. She had to take our cat to the vet.
Leo: Oh, I hope everything is okay.
Harry: He's fine.
Leo: Thank you for being here too. We have a great live audience if you be here. Don't forget April 19th is a very special broadcast, that is our 10th anniversary TWiT. I can't believe that. First TWiT was April 17, 20, I don't even think that you say 20 it was so long ago, 2005, 20-05. All of the original cast members, and a few extras, will be here. John C. Devorak, he wasn't at the first show, Kevin Rose, Patrick Norton, David Prager, Robert Harren, and we are still waiting to hear from Roger Chang.
Jason Howell: We still have got a maybe from Roger Chang.
Leo: Put the pressure on the Jolly Roger. No, that's okay, if he can't make it we've got a pretty good cast. If you would like to be here tickets will be at a premium. A lot of people are bringing their copies of Tech TV memorabilia that they would like to get autographed and so forth, so do please email email@example.com because there will be a limited supply on those. The fire marshal won't let us jam this place too tight. But for any other show there are always empty seats; firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, please send us an email. If you can't be here in person you can watch live. We are on at 3:00 pm Pacific, 6:00 pm Eastern Time, that would be 2200 UTC, and we go for several hours after that. Sometime 5 hours, sometimes 6, we just keep going. But do tune in live. If you can't you can download on demand, audio or video, from twit.tv and from wherever podcasts live; on the Cloud or one of our great apps. Make sure you subscribe, we want you to get every great episode! Thanks for joining us, another episode of TWiT is in the can. Bye, bye.