This Week in Tech 530

Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech! Andrew Cunningham from Arstechnica joins us, Jason Hiner from CBS interactive, and our old pal Jeff Jarvis from This Week in Google to talk about the latest news. Google becomes alphabet; Tesla announces the X, and a whole lot more. It's all coming up next. This Week in Tech is here. 

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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 530, recorded Sunday, October 4, 2015.

I am Chapter Nine

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It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news with the greatest journalists in technology. We've got a great panel for you. We're going to start on my left with Jeff Jarvis, who is a regular on This Week in Google. 

Jeff Jarvis: I thought you were going to say This Week in Tech and I was going to correct you. 

Leo: You're on the big show. 

Jeff: I'm at the grown up's table.

Leo: Which is silly, because I think there is no more grown up show than This Week in Google that we do on the network. I'm glad you're here. It's always fun to have you.

Jeff: At the grownup's table, we get to drink.

Leo: That is the difference.

Jeff: No Shirley Temples for me. 

Leo: Jeff is a professor of journalism at Cuny. He is the author of several very good books, including What Would Google Do, Public Parts, his latest: Geek's bearing gifts about reinventing the news industry. We'll talk about that in a bit. You want to re-invent the ad business as well. Blogger at Also joining us from Arstechnica, their senior project editor, Andrew Cunningham. Great to have you, Andrew. 

Andrew Cunningham: Thanks for having me.

Leo: He's got blisters on his fingers having completed the first post John Syracusa review of an OS10 update. 

Andrew: Somebody has got to do it.

Leo: Actually, it took two of you to do it, right?

Andrew: Yeah. We had two of us. And one other person contributed stuff on the network. He is a hard person to replace.

Leo: You must have had chills go down your spine when Syracusa said I'm not going to do this anymore. 

Andrew: I was worrying about it for years.

Leo: We'll talk about it. OSX El Capitan. Andrew has lots more to talk about. You can see him at and at Twitter at andrewwrites. Also want to welcome another great writer and a long-time member of the TWiT family, Jason Hiner, from CBS Interactive, and I owe him a big thank you. People have been asking me all year, "How come they never write about you on follow the Geeks?" 

Jason Hiner: They say it to us too.

Leo: Jason Hiner and Lindsay Gilpin have written a really good book. You're almost done now. If you've been following along at home, you could read each chapter for a month online, is it a month or a couple of weeks online?

Jason: It's basically a month. We've been releasing one chapter a month. As we finish them, we've been releasing them online. The full book is released at the end of the year. 

Leo: How exciting. You've got one more chapter. 

Jason: One more mystery. 

Jeff: You see lots of nominees. Hey, you forgot so in so. You've got to do so in so. 

Leo: I'm honored to be included, because it's a great book. Many of my great friends are in it. As I told you, this is probably the only chance I'm going to get to get a biography, so I'm grateful. It's about as complete a biography as you can get. You wrote a lot and interviewed my Mom and my wife. Isn't my Mom amazing?

Jason: Love your mom. 

Leo: Great stories. Thank you for doing that. People can read it right now. Baratunde, Veronica Belmonte...

Jason: Gina Trapani. 

Leo: So many great people. Lisa Bettany. Tom Merritt. Chase Jarvis the photographer. Juliana Rotich, and now me. One more chapter to go. Who is left?

Jason: Mystery guest number 10. Jeff was saying, we have a lot of people guessing, especially today. After the talk of your chapter. Everybody guessed you were likely in there, I think. Certainly requested. The last one, I doubt anyone will guess. The last one is someone everybody will be blown away by and no one will guess. That's pretty big billing.

Jeff: Does everyone know who this person is? 

Jason: No one knows who it is.

Jeff: I don't mean that. When they see the name, will they say, "I know who that is?" 

Jason: Most people won't. 

Jeff: It's obscure.

Jason: Kind of. Obscure in the circles that most of the people here are in, but very widely known in other circles, but dovetails perfectly with where we're going in terms of the future. The book is a lot about...

Jeff: Enigmatic clue. 

Jason: Ah.

Leo: I've never done this to you, Jason. What can I say? Jeff gets to. 

Jason: One clue...

Leo: Enigmatic.

Jeff: That's redundant I guess. One clue. 

Leo: Patterson in the chat room says its Arlene Doll from What's my Line. Only Jeff Jarvis and I would get that joke. 

Jason: This person has rubbed shoulders with some very famous talk show hosts this year. I don't know how good a clue that is. 

Jeff: Oz was just on Jimmy Fallon with a great episode. 

Leo: Who was?

Jeff: Oz.

Leo: How about Elon Musk? How many of you watched the Tesla announcement this week? Tesla X, because it has doors that go like this. Elon seems to have really hit his stride as a presenter. 

Jason: I agree. The thing that was amazing to me was that when he did that battery unveiling... how interesting can you make a battery? Let's be honest. He kept it to 25 minutes if I remember correctly, and at the end I was like, "Oh my god. This was amazing." How did he make a battery interesting? This is pretty significant actually. A lot of the times in the past, he’s spoken and it hasn't always been riveting, but that battery, he made it about the fact that...

Leo: We're saving the world!

Jason: It was about saving the world. Exactly. Somehow, he convinced us that buying this battery would help save the world in some small way. 

Leo: He's convinced me, I have to say. I've resisted buying the Tesla, but after the event I put in a reservation. Just a reservation for the Model X. It has doors that goes like... 

Jason: It's got the Back to the Future doors.

Leo: Actually, Jason Calacanis, who was on the new Screensavers yesterday was an early Tesla adopter, and was the first guy on the reservation list for the Model S, he told me that there's a supercharger in Petaluma. So these are the free refill stations that charge really fast. A hundred miles range in half an hour. 

Jeff: He promised in 2007 that he'll get up to 600 miles... To me, that's it. As far as you can drive in a day without complete butt rub. That's it. 500, 600 miles, then all the objections I have to it are gone. Let me ask you this. You're super duper Audi isn't Diesel is it? 

Leo: No. I would feel so guilty. I feel so bad for the people who bought Diesel Volkswagens and Audi A4s in the aftermath of the revelation that these cars had software that would trick the testers to be ecologically suitable, but as soon as they got off the dyno meter, 40 times the nitrogen? It makes me cough to think about it. Massive polluters! I would feel so bad for people who drove that car, thinking they were driving an eco-friendly car. In fact, it's one of the worst cars on the road. That's terrifying. Terrible. But this, as we know electrical vehicles aren't necessarily non-polluting. Electricity has to be generated somewhere. I thought this was interesting. The car filter that has a bio-weapon mode. This is the largest car filter air filter in any car. Remember, you don't need an air filter because there's no gas engine. The air filter is just for the passengers and he showed it off, as you can see he's showing it off here. He showed the buttons. Can you hear the audio on this? I don't know if you... What I like about Elon is he's off script. He's just doing it. He's talking from his heart. 

Jeff: And his brain. 

Elon Musk: The quality of the filter is greater. That translates to several hundred fold improvements in the filtration capability. 

Leo: I don't know why they're focusing on this, but... This is what he cares about. 

Jeff: I heard that he'll have a software update soon, which is a zombie evasion. 

Leo: The bio-weapon defense mode. Listen to this. 

Elon Musk: You just press the bio-weapon defense mode button. This is a real button. 

Leo: And the geeks go crazy! This isn't a joke. This is serious. 

Elon Musk: We're trying to be a leader in defense scenarios.

Leo: I swear to god, it's the zombie attack. I ordered this, not because of the zombie attack, but I feel a little guilty driving...

Jeff: So what were your options? Battery size?

Leo: I haven't gotten them yet. You make the reservation and you will get an e-mail when it's your turn in line to customize it. To order it. I'll fill you in.

Jeff: It's all-wheel drive, right? This model? 

Leo: I don't know anything about it. My Audi lease runs out in October of next year, so that's about when this would be available. It seemed like the right thing to do. I don't know. I love the idea that I could charge it for free. Look at that! I'll never have one of them fancy cars with the doors... this is awesome. Somebody pointed out, interestingly enough, they focused on some interesting things. For instance, these doors that you can just get in. Eventually, they will have it that you can drive into the charger and the charger will come out and automatically attach, you don't have to get into the car.

Jeff: Especially if you're in bio-defense mode. You don't want to get out of the car.

Leo: The new seats, he really emphasized how much room there was under the seats to stow stuff. An SUV has plenty of room in the back. This is all evidence that he intends for this to be the first autonomous taxicab. 

Jeff: It was an interesting piece. You can approach the car, it will open for you, you can put things in, it's not really your car, and you store things.

Leo: The door opens when the driver approaches. It senses your presence and opens up. 

Jason: It's like geo-fencing? It's doing some kind of geofencing off your phone or something?

Leo: Presumably more securely than the one touch FOBS were. Elon himself said this is as close to autonomous as you can get today. There are so many things automatically... there it goes. Driving off by itself. It's this close. I feel like... could it be we're getting closer and closer to autonomous vehicles? Matt Honan on BuzzFeed wrote an interesting article where he said they are inevitability. How many tens of thousands of people die in the US every year from auto accidents? That would be eliminated if we had autonomous vehicles, or presumably it would be eliminated. I figure I'll get this car and eventually I won't have to drive any more. It'll just drive me. What the article proposed was that people would still own a car, but when they're not using it they would let others rent it. 

Jeff: You could also start a company that... This is the ultimate attack on labor of course, so it's Uber without a driver. 

Leo: Which Uber would love, I'm sure. It' s interesting. Uber buys a lot of ads. Almost all of them are not ads for riders, they're ads for drivers. 

Jeff: Really? 

Leo: I was talking to a radio-executive in Los Angeles this week, and he said they sell a ton of ads to Uber just for drivers. They need drivers more than they need riders apparently. 

Jeff: It's like listening to Siri. Nothing but truck driver ads. 

Leo: It's a good business to get into. There's so much to talk about. Andrew, did you go to the Google event? 

Andrew: Ron Amadio did go. I was helping remotely with his coverage of it, but he was the one that was actually on the ground. I watched the live stream and everything, and we were talking about what a good presenter Elon Musk is. I wish somebody at Google was as good on stage as he is. 

Leo: Yet, I have to say... Sundar Picai, the CEO of Google, this is all official. Alphabet is real. He's the official CEO of Google, he got on stage and was there for a minute, and then presentation after presentation... the impression that I got was that Google is a large company full of smart people. That was the intent. Unlike an Apple event where Tim Cook really runs the game or Steve Jobs ran the show. Sundar got out of the way and he just handed it off. You're right, these aren't show business folks, I think they were competent. Were you bored? 

Andrew: It felt a little stilted. They were making these jokes that were supposed to sound like they were off the cuff, but they had obviously been made like five or six times before. There weren't any show people among the presenters on stage. 

Leo: They announced two new phones, the 5X, the x is for Nexus, the 5P, the P is for premium. 

Andrew: I believe that's right.

Leo: 5.2 inches for the Nexus, 5.7 inches for the Nexus 5P. It looked beautiful. Solid body, aluminum phone, both have good quality cameras with the largest, to my knowledge, the largest pixel of any camera phone sensor. 1.5 microns is small. I guess it's technically small, but it's big for a camera phone. I think these are going to be pretty killer devices. 

Jeff: I can't wait for mine to arrive. 

Leo: The price is--unlike the Nexus 6, the price is very aggressive, yes?

Andrew: Not quite down to where the Nexus 4 and the 5 was a few years ago, which is too bad, but much better than it was last year, especially for the 5X which is the one I'm most interested in. I think the Nexus 5 is the best Nexus phone they've ever done. 

Leo: A lot of people agree with you on that one. The 5X doesn't seem much compromised. It's pretty high spec device. Just a smaller screen, a plastic body. Aluminum body. A little bit smaller.

Andrew: Might be a good thing depending on your battery life.

Leo: I've never seen anybody say hey my phone is slow. That is not the issue. Battery life is the issue. Maybe a slower processor or a low-res screen, you might get better battery life on this thing. I'm glad they're doing the type C connector. I'm a believer. And they're giving away a 50-dollar credit to the play store when you buy it. 

Jeff: Lord knows I'll use. 

Leo: I would guess trying to woo away iPhone users. That's one of the sticking points is you get invested in apps. You don't want to have to buy all new apps. Here's 50 bucks so you don't have to. And, three months of Google play music, which of course Apple is doing with Apple music. They've also announced an Apple like Nexus protect program, which gets you an extra year of warranty even from accidental damage, although there's a 75 deductible. You can use it twice in the two-year span. 

Andrew: The way they market these and advertise these is always interesting because they're straddling this line where they started life as developer phones and those are still one of the audiences they appeal the most to, because they get the fast updates, but then you have things like Nexus protect and the Google play credit and the Google play music stuff that are obviously for consumers. I'm never quite sure who the intended audience for these things is. 

Jeff: They have to answer the genius bar. You can have some place you can take your phone and do something, and Google has to be able to match that. 

Andrew: Especially with the Wawe phone, because they don't have the US support system.

Jeff: Really good point.

Leo: But the 64 gig 6P at 550 bucks is a couple hundred bucks less than an iPhone. It's an aggressive price, spec wise it seems similar. It's got a fingerprint reader. 

Jeff: Better screen.

Leo: We'll see of course. All this is on paper. But an OLED display, 5.7 inches, a smaller phone because they don't have the large bezzles of the iPhone. I think that's impressive, but I don't think that's the most exciting announcement that they made. I think the jury is out on whether it's the Chromecast audio, which I'm really excited about for reasons only I understand, or the Pixel C tablet.

Jeff: We talked about it on This Week in Google and I'm more excited about that since our conversation. I have Google Pixel with me, I can leave one in my office, keep one here and if I travel with that, I no longer have to carry the Nexus 7 and I just carry that as an on the road laptop. That's pretty exciting. 

Leo: We don't have the Pixel C on the store.

Jeff: I signed up for an email alert. If you go to...

Leo: Pixel? 

Jeff: Doesn't even mention the Chromebook.

Leo: It's only one page with no information. But the thing that was impressive on this was the keyboard. The way the keyboard attached was great. Magnet flips over.

Jason Howell: May I pitch in on this real quick?

Leo: Jason Howell is a host on All About Android and he has something to say about this. 

Jason Howell: The thing that worries me about the C is Android as a platform isn't an amazing platform for multitasking/getting a lot of things done in the way that Chrome OS succeeds in. That's why the surface tablet is so popular is because they've built it with that in mind. I don't get that feeling with Android. I worry about this because I'm interested in it as a product; I'm always interested when Google does something like this based on what they've done in the past. I've tried to use Android devices that have a keyboard attachment and live my life in that to see how it goes. I find it to be way more inconvenient than an OS that is built for that environment in mind. I don't know that this is going to solve many problems in that regard. I think it's going to be another option. 

Andrew: Right. In one of the early Android M betas, there was a highly experimental multi window mode that got removed in later betas. I'm wondering if we're going to see an Android 6.1 or 7 down the line or something that will re-introduce that feature like Samsung has got it. If we're going to see with this particular device those new built in features that are meant to alleviate that and make multi-tasking easier.

Jeff: Remember when Android came out it was not for tablets and Google didn't endorse that and it didn't work well. My fear is... I agree with you, Jason. There are some who think this is the death of OS. But at the same time, Chrome OS brags it will have more devices in schools than all other devices combined. For corporate use, I think Chrome OS is going to stick around. 

Leo: I don't think it's going anywhere. 

Jason Howell: I don't think it's going anywhere. If it did, it would be a big oversight. Primarily for that. Chrome OS is amazing in the educational space. Super convenient, and it's way easier for students to remember their login credentials and whatever machine they happen to be on. 

Jeff: I think it will push it into enterprise too. There are a few improvements that will make it work as an office machine.

Leo: Who is buying tablets then? 

Jason: What we're seeing, at least in business, on Tech Republic that's what we do a lot of. We talk to a lot of companies and see what they're using. A lot of what they're using tablets for, for when they go to iPads are one apps. Like there is one app that they're trying to access. Maybe two or three, but they only do one at a time. Similar with what Jason is saying on Android. It's a purposeful bill for doing one thing at a time. Where we're seeing the Windows have traction is when people want to do multiple things and they need to run multiple apps and they need to work back and forth between things and they have things they need to integrate. In those cases, that's where Surface is making a lot of traction. There's no doubt that's why Apple knowing this as well and the iPad pro has spoken so much on this side to side window thing. It will be interesting to see where the Pixel fits in with that...

Leo: Oh no. Jason is frozen. 

Jason: Shoot did I freeze. 

Leo: Stop using that tablet, start using a real computer! 

Jason: Exactly. Where I think it will be interesting to see what the Pixel C is where does it play? Does it take Android and turn it into a multi tasking operating system? As Jason Howell was saying, surprisingly what people may not realize is you can multi-task pretty well on a Chromebook now. Like these guys were talking about.

Leo: You can multi task on an iPad. Does Android do such a bad job of multi tasking? It's full screen full screen.

Andrew: It's more about having one thing on one screen at once. I will say, IOS 9, and all my apps are all updated to support split view screens. I am using it a lot more to do work. Maybe at this point it's to see only if I can use it for work. It's a lot more possible than it was six months ago even.

Jeff: One issue, which is the tabs in the Chrome browser on Android are a pain in the butt. They don't display. You have to go to them and they'll add up to be a hundred of them and it's a pain. These things are easily fixed.

Leo: I've been saying a lot on the radio show that we have to get out of the mindset of you need a computer, a general purpose machine, like a Windows or a Mac machine because to make it a general purpose machine, you have to make it so much more complex, which makes it more of a security risk, it makes it more difficult to use. It makes things break more easily. More and more, the way people use technology; a general-purpose computer is the wrong thing. I'm not sure a tablet is the right thing. I think you're right. 

Jeff: This is why I knew you would join the Chrome crowd.

Leo: Even your phone is a better tool in many cases. Tablets and phones tend to be more consumption focused. Chromebook, you can actually get work done on. 

Jeff: For TWiT folks who don't know my rantings on TWiG, my only computer, other than one used to talk to TWiT...

Leo: We make him use Skype.

Jeff: Thank you Microsoft... is a Chromebook Pixel. It's been almost two years now.

Leo: Two years. Wow. You don't feel constrained. Of course, you're a writer and a professor. A lot of the stuff you do could be done on a Chromebook. 

Jeff: Video I can't do so well, but I don't do video. 

Leo: I think so. I think a lot of people don't do the kind of heavy-duty stuff you need a general-purpose computing platform for. That's old school. We just haven't gotten out of the habit yet. I have to say, I want to know what the future of the tablet is. I don't think the tablet is good for much except for watching movies. 

Jeff: On airplanes it is good for. 

Leo: Playing games. 

Jeff: I walked around the city with my Nexus 7 in my bag and it got smashed or something. It didn't work. I'm in a panic. I'm in horrible hotel wifi, I'm downloading movies and shows onto my phone and trying to get them onto my laptop. I got there, I got enough on. I feared the Nexus 7 was going to be discontinued, so I bought one in 2014. 

Leo: You had an extra?

Jeff: I had an extra that's been sitting there. Unused. That's how neurotic I am. And boy did it take 20 reloads of OS. Anyway, on the trip back, I was in a panic. But that's what I use it for a lot, is watching movies. It's my seven inch, it's perfect. Is it worth carrying around? That's why I'm thinking the Pixel C, if I use it in my briefcase when I'm not at meetings or I'm on a plane, OK. The question is, if I'm going to be gone for a week I've got to take care of it. 

Leo: I also think that convertibles like the Pixel C or the surface are more of a hybrid from a company that's reluctant to throw its eggs in any one basket. I just can't bring myself to use a device where the keyboard falls off. It should be attached. 

Jason: I think my laptop is getting smaller and my phone is getting bigger. Why would I watch on this or that? With those things, I agree, a lot of it is for watching movies or entertainment or one app things. To get to your point, Leo, is most people use a small number of apps. If you only use three to five apps, tablets are there to be able to do a lot of what you're doing. Or a Chromebook, same thing. You can do a lot of what you do if you spend most of your time on 3 to 5 different things. More and more as phones get bigger, all of a sudden we realize that it's good enough to do most of the stuff on that. You have it relatively convenient, battery life being one of the challenges of course. That's another reason why Fablets have gotten a lot of momentum. They have a lot bigger battery in those suckers. I think tablets are getting squeezed. Where we do see a lot of use, again they're becoming appliances. Tablets are a one app two app appliance where you go into a business and you hand it to someone at a doctor's office to fill out their sign in information. Somebody can go into a restaurant and they can join your mailing list. Where they can sign in and do their rewards stuff. 

Leo: You could do all that on a phone and the tablet is a mule. 

Jason: It's an appliance.

Leo: LA unified school district very famously raised a bond to buy more than 40,000 iPads at a cost of 768 dollars each and the program, as you know, huge flop. They were suing Pearson, the education software company that was creating the curriculum. School system said teachers never use it. They were suing Apple saying we should have never bought it. They were suing Lenovo who had also charged the district for Pearson curriculum. They've settled. This is a very weak settlement. If you felt like you wasted your money on the billion plus dollars of iPads, they're going to get 6.4 million dollars in a settlement from Pearson. Apple has agreed to pay 2.4 million dollars in a settlement. 

Jeff: When they did this in Twig, I argued they should have used Chromebook. Chromebook would have been far better. Awful decision. 

Leo: The amount of money doesn't make up for the damage to the district's reputation or compensate for the misbegotten project said a member of the independent committee that oversees school modernization and construction bonds. A big time mistake. 

Jeff: They went with a textbook company. Textbook companies are as disrupted as newspapers and they're trying to hold onto their old way by selling this expensive overpriced junk to you where you have the whole world's knowledge organized by Google. Thank you Google. All you need to do is get to it.

Leo: Teachers didn't get training, very limited training, the product released by Pearson, the curriculum was apparently not usable or good. What a mess. Let's take a break. Lots more to talk about. Andrew Cunningham is here from Arstechnica. How many words in that El Capitan review?

Andrew: I would have to go back and look. I think it was 13 or 14 thousand? 

Leo: I think he crossed 20,000 frequently. Also here, Jason Hiner. Thank you once again for making me the subject of the latest chapter in the follow the geek book. If you want to read that for the next couple of weeks it'll be free. The book will be in stores in a couple months. 

Jason: Yes indeed. It sure will. 

Leo: And Jeff Jarvis, our professor. Professor Jarvis. Regular on This Week in Google. I always want to get you on TWiT. I don't do it much because I don't want to over-burden you. I do love when you join us. 

Jeff: I'll take air time any time I can get it. 

Leo: Back from May Day. You were there for a journalism conference. 

Jeff: It was a lot of fun.

Leo: For those of us who have been watching Narcos, it's not the same.

Jeff: Not at all. They're not too crazy about the show down there. The city has come through.

Leo: Don't tell me how it ends. I haven't finished the show yet. 

Jeff: From what I know, I don't think it's the end. I think it just leads to more... I haven't finished watching either. Let's put it this way, if he doesn't die...

Leo: There's still more to go. 

Jeff: That's what I'm told. I haven't watched it yet. Halfway through. 

Leo: Our show to you today, brought to you by Braintree. If you're a mobile app developer or you have a website and you're looking for payment solutions, do not under any circumstances spend the time and effort to code it yourself. That's hubris. This is a specialized field. The crypto, the security, we know. The next company on the headlines, company x breeched... you want to do it with somebody that knows what they are doing. That's Braintree. Braintree is on Uber. That's how Uber gets payments. Github is on Braintree. Air BnB, stub hub. Everybody uses BrainTree. It works, it's simple, it's secure. Payouts are fast, they've got the best support. They'll even do the integration for you. It's simple though. Ten lines of code and suddenly you can take credit cards, you can take PayPal, you can take Apple Pay, you can take Android pay. You can take bitcoin. It's all handled for you. It's so slick. You'll see fewer abandoned carts, more sales with Braintree’s best in class mobile checkout experience, the one touch stk means that... you used it with Uber. When you took an Uber and you got out of the car and you didn't pay anything... boom. That's one touch. If you use Pinterest, they're doing it on Pinterest now with the buyable pins. Have you seen the buyable pins on Pinterest? That's Braintree. Braintree is slick and sweet. If you're a developer, if you're running a project and you need a full stack payment solution with a simple, easy integration across all platforms, superior fraud protection, great customer service for you and your customers, fast payouts. A little sweetener here. Your first 50,000 in transactions are fee-free. That's nice! I guess I would be remiss not to mention and pass along condolences to the people and students and teachers who were killed in Oregon over the week. The tech angle on this is a little touchy. I'm going to bring this up and I'm going to let you guys talk me off the ledge. Reason being, I just read a couple weeks before this, a study from the American psychological association, the impact of violent media over...

Andrew: Bottom of the dock.

Leo: The impact of violent media... Time has the article. It comes from the American psychological association. It was a review of research going way back. They published this in August 2013. It was a task force. They reviewed 100 studies of violent video games published between 2005 and 2015. They concluded playing violent video games can increase aggressive behavior and thoughts. We've always said that there's no study that proves this. And yet, over a hundred studies show that lessening empathy and sensitivity towards aggression... nobody is saying it turns you into a violent criminal. If it did, I would be a violent criminal, you would be a violent criminal, and you and you and you would be. 

Jeff: Not me! I don't play them. I'm the most violent, crazy guy here. 

Leo: I have to say, I feel like we live in a world where violence on television, movies, and video games is so commonplace and brutal that we have gotten used to it. While there are many calls for gun control, it is a cultural problem. It's more than just controlling guns. I wonder if this is something we, as a technology community, should consider. Or is it censorship. I'll let you get started, Jeff. I'm sure you're a first amendment guy. 

Jeff: Correlation not causation. You take a sicko like that in Oregon, or we could name the ones every two weeks in this country...

Leo: They're mostly, by the way, young men who played these games. Right?

Jeff: Believe me, the game didn't make them go out and do this. These guys had problems. I know what I'm about to say, you don't want politics in this show, because I know the emails you get, but I've got to say it, the problem is giving these crackpots legal access to 14 guns. If he didn't have legal access to 14 guns, could he have taken a knife to somebody, could he have taken his car to somebody? Yeah, but 14 guns this bozo had. 14 legally acquired guns. That's far more the problem. There are sickos, nut jobs, hate filled idiots in the world. The more we give them weapons, the worse that is. Video games don't make them into sicko, hate filled...

Leo: I feel like they may be training vehicles. They may teach you how to do this and how to give you an ideation that encourages this kind of behavior. 

Jeff: It is a first amendment issue. 

Leo: I don't know what you do to stop it. Maybe we need to take some responsibility. Its so easy to blame guns, but... I agree it's guns. But it's not just guns. 

Jeff: Before that, it was television. Before that it was movies. If you watch, give me a violent movie. What's the crazy guy who did...

Leo: Tarrantino.

Jeff: There you go. Should we ban Tarrantino? Should we outlaw Tarrantino?

Leo: He has the right to make those.

Jeff: Of course he does. Does that turn people? Even if it inspires one person.. Supposedly inspires? There are similarities. The sicko admired that movie. That is absolutely a case of correlation, not causation. There is absolutely no scientific proof that says it's going to make someone do what they do. These people are sick beyond sick, violent beyond violent, murders. No TV show, no book, no movie, no videogame, none of that is going to make them do what they do. I refuse to get caught in the trap where we start saying... this goes back to Gore and Music Music was going to make you do horrible things. Music was going to make you kill the cops. Every single media that comes out, somebody wants to control it and that is thank god, why we have our first amendment. At the end of the day, if you think people are such incredible Sheeple that they can be changed by these things, and you're right, Leo. You already would have killed a hundred people.

Leo: I don't think it makes you a killer. I think it inures you to violence. I think we are so bathed in violence on television and movies... I agree. I'm not suggesting that we censor. But maybe self-censorship. 

Jeff: It happened when movies were violent and there were efforts to control that, it happened with TV shows, oh my god. This is going to ruin civilization. It happened with music. Now it's happening with video games. I don't think it has ever been shown that media has this real impact. You can say it makes us less empathetic, but is that correlation or causation? Who is drawn to video games? People who have no life. Sorry. Just a joke guys. 

Leo: I like video games!

Jeff: Who is to say? You can't argue causation. 

Jason: It was interesting. I was watching an old episode of the West Wing not too long ago. They went through a whole argument among the white house staff in this episode and they're saying what are we doing? We're talking about gun control on Tuesday and on Wednesday we're going to this big Hollywood fundraiser for this guy who makes all these violent movies and one person on the staff was saying this is ridiculous. How can we be talking about violence and then the next day we're taking money from this person who is glorifying violence? They didn't come to a conclusion. They were having the same arguments. The point is it wasn't just video games. It was also...

Leo: We're bathed in violence all the time. I can't believe that that doesn't have an impact on us. 

Jason: I agree. It should not be legislated. I mean... between the first amendment and the second amendment, it's very difficult to imagine a scenario where we could legislate it anyway. 

Leo: Everybody has a right to do their art. I would like to consider people to consider the impact of their art. In fact, there are very few non-violent video games. Almost all video games are about killing. 

Jeff: I saw the Emily Blunt movie last night. It was a violent movie. Let me do the devil's advocate. I know what you're doing is devil's advocating right now. 

Leo: I'm not. I'm serious about this.

Jeff: Let me do a devil's advocate anyway. I would argue that if we become too controlling and too protecting, we take people away from the judgments they have to make. Understanding fact from fiction, understanding fantasy from not. There's a woman named Lenore Skasey in New York that I used to work with at the Daily News who wrote a book called Free Range children. Free range kids. She ran into all kinds of crap because she let her 8 year old ride the New York subway. People went crazy. The over-protection that we do of our children and society, the nurturing and nannying, I would argue in the long run is more harmful because you will encounter bad people. You will encounter violent urges and anger. You need to be equipped to learn how to control these things and to know what is play, what is release, and what is reality. The sick Fs who have done what they've done don't have that ability. But they didn't have that ability anyway, this certainly isn't going to push them. A normal person learns those things and is not a bad influence to have these ranges of life and good and bad in front of you. If you control everything too much, you hurt the mature decision making of society in the long run. 

Leo: Do you want to weigh in on this, Andrew, or are you wisely staying away?

Andrew: I think I mostly agree with Jeff on the issue. I think that guns are a big part of it. You have video games, you have violent media, and all this stuff in other countries, and yet this is the one where this kind of stuff happens with this kind of regularity. 

Leo: It seems awfully simplistic. I'm a liberal. I'm not anti-gun control. I'm not working for the NRA. It seems like a simplistic fix. I know it worked in Australia. I know it works in other countries... but it only addresses this physical manifestation... but what caused the rage? What caused the anger? It has to be more than if he didn't have guns he wouldn't have this problem? You mean these people wouldn't be sick and angry and find other weapons? 

Andrew: There are weapons and there are guns. We were talking about knives before. You can kill people with knives. It makes it harder to kill as many. It's a whole different thing. Talking about this specific video game study....

Leo: Switzerland gun ownership is universal, but they don't see these same rates of mass murders. Nowhere near it. 

Andrew: There aren't simple answers and that's... a weasely cop out. This piece tries to make this link specifically between video games and violence, but how do you isolate video games by themselves?

Leo: Maybe the issue is we don't know how to treat mental illness very well. Maybe the issue... there could be a lot more to this. 

Jeff: It's that and guns. The two are obviously a lethal combination. 

Jason: There is no society in the world or in the history of humanity like America. There is no place on earth where you have so many different kinds of people living together having to coexist that have lots of differences that are bound together not by ethnicity, not by geography, but by this idea of a country that is based on a certain amount of freedoms. You have all these different people and all these different backgrounds, and they're living next to one another and they have all these freedoms. In some sense, we should not be surprised that it's the most violent society on earth, which essentially it is, if you look at gun deaths. Whereas these other places like Sweden they are very homogenous societies. Most nations in the world are homogenous societies, or they have 3 or 4 different groups and often those two or three different groups are committing crimes against one another and having to deal with centuries old debates. America, even though it's 300 years old, that's just a blip on the radar. This is still an experiment in trying to understand how you can bring so many types of people together and figuring out how to live together and build a good society and deal with all these things. Have freedoms, but also have safety. These are part of the growing pains of building this kind of society. We still haven't figured it out, right? There's still a lot of things we have to figure out. This is one of the biggest ones. There aren't any easy answers. The worst thing we can do is throw our hands up and say it happens here. 

Leo: I agree. I guess that's where this conversation came from. That and the fact that in the first four months of this year, Australia banned 240 video games, including Douchebag Beach club, drunk driver, and hobo simulator. 

Jeff: If you had a video game that endorsed and explained and instructed and absolutely everything, a book that did everything a video game did, we wouldn't think of abandoning the book. That would be... 

Leo: Book banning is different. Not video games, because they're not considered art or expression. All right. I realize I'm being a caveman in this. But it bothers me. I feel like we've got to find a solution to this. 

Jason: I think you're doing the right thing. We have to figure out different solutions. That's part of living in a free society and a multi-cultural society like this. We're facing unprecedented challenges. 

Leo: I see kids spending 7 or 8 hours a day in front of screens of various kinds. Some of it is video games, some of it is TV, a lot of it is very violent. I just can't believe that it doesn't have an impact. I'm not saying I know what the solution is. 

Jeff: You raised the points. I don't want you in trouble with readers...

Leo: I get in trouble no matter what.

Jeff: Mental health care and guns and the combination of the two. 

Leo: Yeah. I think we need to make a more civil society. I really do. I don't know how you do that. 

Jeff: Part of the way you teach people that is by showing them extremes and having judgment to deal with it. I think we become far too protective. I know I'm sounding like a libertarian there. I'm a Hillary Clinton Democrat. You can attack me on that if you want to. But, I think we've become a nanny state. I think our children became too protected so they didn't have as much ability to judge. We scheduled every minute; we put a cocoon around them. I'm not sure that's the right thing to do. 

Leo: 1956. I love this link from the chatroom. Santa Cruz banned rock and roll for much the same reason. The music was detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community. The ban was issued following a raid on a dance hall at the local civics center where officers claimed teenagers were engaged in "obscene and highly suggestive dancing" to the provocative rhythms of an all negro band. This thing can only lead to juvenile delinquency and degeneracy and will not be tolerated in the city of Santa Cruz. I went to Santa Cruz high 15 years later and things have changed quite a bit. But in 1956, we have a problem with rock and roll and children. 

Jeff: Look what happened?

Jason: Could you imagine what would happen if you air dropped them into the 1990s? Hip-hop or something?

Leo: I think if anybody from 20 or 30 or 40 years ago would be horrified if they came here and turned on the TV and saw the games. The games, by the way are very real and vivid. They're much more so than they were a few years ago. One of the reasons this came to mind is I was watching the bullet train demo at the Oculus Rift. This was a VR game... I'll show you. If this doesn't scare you a bit, then I don't know what will. This is from epic. That's not it. That's the actual bullet train. 

Jason: What you're getting at, Leo, is the real issue that people who make these things, right?

Leo: I'm not going to tell them not to, but watch. This is pretty violent. Some people say this is the greatest game ever. 

(game plays)

Leo: this is by the way, in virtual reality. So you're in this environment. I watch this and a week later I hear about what happened in Oregon and I feel like gosh darnit, can't we do better?

Jeff: You're making a correlation there that you have no evidence, no proof of the causation. That linkage is critical. Just because they happen at the same time doesn't mean...

Leo: I don't think he was even playing this game. It's not available yet. That's not it at all. I feel like there's a cultural thing going on in this country. I just worry about it. We all should.

Jason: It's the idea of being frustrated, right? There are lots of frustrations in modern life and society. The conclusion is can you get rid of those frustrations with violence? That's one of the alternatives. Too many people in America are taking this option. How do we stop that? How do we change that?

Leo: Very hard question. Maybe nothing will happen because we can't solve this. We'll see what happens. We're going to take a break. I'm sorry I brought up such a downer. 

Jeff: Good job, Leo. You're the downer.

Leo: I only say that because it's traditional in the tech media to never criticize violence in video games. I just wanted to take a chance. 

Jeff: One more. There is a different way which as a responsible game maker, you define responsibility. Yes, you can do that. I don't want to do that externally, but you can decide what you think is good and bad. As a company that produces them, you can decide what is good and bad. As a publisher, you don't publish everything that comes to you. Everyone along the chain will make their own responsible decisions. That discussion is important. I agree with that. But the answer to this is not to say let's control that process. Let's improve that process. 

Leo: Just in case you were wondering, here is a video of a Japanese live streamer accidentally burning down his house on Twitch while streaming a game on Twitch. You can watch this live on Twitch. TV. 

Andrew: We should ban Twitch then. TWITCH burns down houses. 

Leo: Twitch causes fires. He's pouring water from his soda bottle on this. I think it actually gets worse as you go along. I'm sorry. You see? I told you they're dangerous. I want to talk about Amazon doing something stunning and I hope you all can explain why they did this. Let's get serious. But first, let me tell you how to use your time more effectively with just crossed a big milestone. 1.5 billion dollars in postage printed by customers. I think a lot of times we do this ad and people think I'm not a big enough business. It's not for me. Even a small business is going to benefit from You don't want to go to the post office. If you're a sole proprietor, you can't take time to wait in line at the post office and here come the holidays. It's going to be more time spent looking for parking. You can do it all from your desk with! You don't need a postage meter. This is so much less. Did you know I just found this out? A postage meter costs more than 1000 times ink jet ink? Which costs more than anything I know. You don't need a postage meter. Your computer and printer are all you need, and You'll save at least 50% compared to a postage meter. You won't have to waste time going to the post office. You'll get discounts you can't get at the post office. You can get discounted package insurance in just one click. No more hand written forms. You print it out, certified mail return receipt. All automatically filled out by the software. This makes your business big or small look more professional and that's what you want. It's not just for letters, it's for any size package, it's for anything that you're sending. You don't even have to go the post office because the mail carrier will send it to you, pick it up, take it to the post office for you. If you do any kind of mailing in your business, however big or small, you really ought to look at this. It’s just the best. Sign up right now. We have a special promo code. If you click the microphone in the upper right hand corner you get a 4 week trial and a $110 bonus offer when you use the offer code TWIT. T-W-I-T. You’ll get $55 in postage coupons, a free digital scale, $5 supply kit. You pay postage and handling on the scale for about $5. And a month of It’s awesome. We use it here at the office. All our mailings look pro. Yours can too., click the microphone in the upper right hand corner and use the promo code TWIT. T-W-I-T. Amazon says, “We are not, we are not going to sell Apple’s new TV. We are not going to sell Google’s new TV, video streaming devices. We’re banning them from Amazon.” Because of course Amazon has a competing device. But I always thought Amazon was a retailer. Maybe not.

Jason: Man, this is a bad move. It also makes me feel like Amazon could sell lots of those other devices, right, because lots of people—

Leo: What business are they in?

Jason: Yea, yea.

Leo: They say they don’t want to sell them because those platforms don’t have Amazon’s Prime Video App on them. Well whose fault is that?

Jason: Right.

Andrew: That was my immediate reaction was that, yea, in literally a month we’ll have an Apple TV where the only thing standing between Amazon and a Prime App on Apple TV is Amazon. And I think on the Chromecast that’s already the case. They could in theory develop one and have it work great and they just have opted not to do that.

Leo: You could make a case that maybe Apple’s keeping Amazon Streaming Video out of the app store or off the TV. You could make that case. But you can’t make that case with Chromecast because anybody can develop a Chromecast App with a Chromecast button and Google doesn’t have to give you permission.

Jeff: Yet it’s Google that gets accused of anti-trust behavior and market bust behavior and it’s not. Google opens up these things and enables and I think its shameful behavior on Amazon’s part.

Jason: It’s a bad sign for the future of internet TV too, that these things are going to become these entrenched kind of three way platform war which is bad for consumers.

Leo: We don’t need more silos. We don’t need those.

Jason: Man, it’s so bad for consumers, right? You don’t want, nobody, you don’t want to have to have, you know, 2 or 3 devices just to get, you know, this mix of content that you already have or you know. So it’s just a bad sign for the future of internet TV. That’s what bummed me out the most about it was like now great, now we’re into this 3 way platform war. Whereas Amazon really had the best chance of being the one player who played across all these platforms right, which could have really helped them I think. Which could have ultimately sold more devices for them in the long run. But yea, it’s a dumb move on their part.

Andrew: Yea I mean that’s the reason that I use Kindle for e-books instead of anything else, is because I can get that on my iPhone and iPad and Nexus and Windows and like every other device that I can think of, I can read those books. And I wanted them to keep doing that with Prime. I wanted them to keep being like the neutral party but apparently they decided that they’re another one of those companies that needs to be all things to all people.

Leo: Feckless in the chatroom points out that Amazon’s always said “Customer comes first. We’re customer obsessed. We’re customer focused.” Well—

Jeff: They sell from competitors like crazy. They show you the prices of people who are selling the things at lower prices. They give you tons of options. Yet here—

Leo: Obviously they’re not customer obsessed. They’re Amazon streaming obsessed.

Jeff: This is a discussion that you and I have had often, Leo, about where you argue that Google’s in the content business. I argue that they’re not yet. But Amazon is most certainly in the content business.

Leo: Suddenly that’s probably true. Is it possible though, Andrew, that Amazon wants Amazon Streaming to be available on Chromecast and Apple and there’s some technical reason that they can’t do that? Is it possibly not their fault?

Andrew: I mean if HBO can do it, who can’t do it? Like I’m struggling to think of other video services that want to be available on these platforms that can’t for some technical reason. Like if they really wanted to, I think that they could get there.

Leo: It seems very odd that they’re blaming that. They’re saying, “Well, we don’t want to sell anything that doesn’t carry our service.” But isn’t it you that’s preventing it?

Andrew: They have an iOS app. They have an iOS app and TVOS is just iOS. It’s the same underlying operating system on both devices. So I don’t understand what the technical barrier is on that. I think this is pretty obviously a scapegoat reason and they just don’t want all these things that are competing with their own devices.

Leo: One of the number one things I want, that I’ve wanted all along is to have Amazon Streaming on my Chromecast because then everything I want would be on it. Everything I need would be on it. Showtime’s on it now, HBO’s on it, Netflix of course, Hulu Plus. If they would just add Chromecast to the Amazon Video App, I’d be so happy. And apparently that’s never going to happen now. And it’s like Betamax vs. VHS. Consumers are going to be stuck between two unmovable objects.

Jason: If they can deepen—this is one of those moves that can deepen the line. The lines were already starting to be drawn, right, and this concern can deepen some of those lines. I don’t know, like Jeff said, you know, google has maintained openness here and hopefully that will continue to. Apple of course is on the other end of the spectrum, you know, completely closed. Probably it’s not out of the realm of conceivability that they’re sort of blocking an Android App or whatever or would potentially. But like we’ve talked about on the show before, even if Amazon did do it, you know, it would be, it would probably be less, it would be less featured. And you know, Amazon’s not going to want to give Apple a percentage of its content like Apple makes you do, you know, give you 30% of sales. So even if there was an app, it was likely to be one of those things where you have to buy your content outside of the app and then you know, bring it in. And that’s not necessarily a terrific experience. So maybe this was academic. You know, maybe this was one of those things that you know, was destined to happen. But Amazon just had the chance to be that one platform content provider that was going to play across different ecosystems. So that’s why I think this matters. And it does matter because internet TV is coming on strong. And it’s going to be big, big business. I understand why they did it because this platform thing as a content provider is a multi, multi-billion dollar opportunity, right? And they essentially choosing, they are choosing that multi-billion dollar opportunity ahead of sort of being the one that just makes the sort of nickels and dimes off of pieces of content that they’re selling everywhere.

Leo: You know who really benefits? It’s not Amazon but Roku. Seems like this—

Jason: Really?

Leo: Yea (laughing).

Jason: Why?

Leo: Well, ok, so the only, the only thing that you can’t do on any of these devices except an Apple TV is iTunes, right? And Apple makes sure of that.

Jason: Yea. Yes.

Leo: But you can do everything else except Apple on a Roku, right?

Jason: Yea.

Leo: Can you do anything else on Amazon’s Fire Platform?

Jason: Almost.

Leo: I’m not sure. I feel like Roku is now the most complete offering. And all Amazon’s is doing is throwing business to Roku. By the way, of course you could still by Google’s stuff from Google and Apple stuff from Apple and from other retailers as well. It’s not like it’s somehow going to prevent people from buying it. It just feels a little petty and weird.

Jason: But once you’re in there, you know, you’re just locked in more than ever, right? If you start buying you know, your stuff from Google or Apple or Amazon now, you’re more than likely stuck you know, there. Because you know, if you moved to one of the other ones you’re not going to be able to get your stuff. Now you could move from, you know, Fire TV potentially to Roku or to Chromecast but not to Apple TV. But you know, with the lines being drawn between these platforms, I don’t know. I do think to get to the Roku question, I do think that the, I have a Roku—

Leo: Roku’s number one right now. 34% market share.

Jason: Yea. It is. It is. I do think that Amazon Fire TV is much easier to use than a Roku. Roku is what I used to recommend to you know, sort of people that weren’t in this already and were just looking for some kind of internet connection.

Leo: But see Roku looks like the neutral player now, right?

Jason: They do. It’s true. So that’s why you’re saying it helps Roku because they look most neutral.

Leo: Yea. Roku looks like the most grown-up of the bunch.

Jason: Yea, that’s true. But Amazon Fire TV is much easier to use. Of all these devices-

Leo: I have one. I never installed it. It’s just sitting on a shelf.

Jason: I have them all. Their voice activation is really good. They’ve done some good work with the voice. You can just click that microphone button and you know, talk to it and it works remarkably well.

Leo: It makes me mad that companies sacrifice customer’s interests to create these silo-ed environments. And you know, you look at, contrast this to Microsoft, which used to do that. And now just says, “We’re going to put our apps everywhere our customers are. We don’t care that it’s on an iPad.”

Jeff: Desperation is the mother of generosity.

Leo: (Laughing).

Andrew: Yea I was just going to say that the think that Roku does not have that Apple, Google and Amazon has is like something else that it does. Like it can’t afford to make anybody upset.

Leo: They’re agnostic.

Andrew: It’s not going to play, it’s not going to play these games.

Leo: Roku does have voice search which is not as good. Apple’s TV’s voice search will probably be the best when it comes out I’m guessing.

Jeff: The really important part which is a change in the ecology of distribution.

Leo: Yes.

Jeff: We’re seeing this on the tech side. You know instant articles, allows you to go where the readers are. Google this week according to Re/code, I can’t say anything more, but I’ll be there when they announce it. Re/code said they’re going to announce is going to enable easier distribution of kind of news content and other web content. You got to go to where the readers are. You have to go to where the viewers are. You have to go to where the people are rather than always making them come to you. What’s missing though in all of these structures, and I think I talked about a company called Repost before, where if you make content embeddable, the benefit is, oh, free content. You can embed free content. What we don’t do is we don’t value the creation of the audience. We don’t share revenue at that level too. And if we did, if we had a marketplace both for the creation of content and for the creation of audience, then it can find its own water level. Then you can do deals and say, “Ok, so if you bring us enough audience,” says Amazon, “great. I’d love to have your app there.” But Amazon still controls too much about saying, “We own the content, that’s where the value is.” No, there’s a lot of other people who will be happy to distribute the Amazon content and there’s a deal to be done.

Leo: So is Amazon short sighted in doing this? Are they not—

Jeff: I think so. I mean Bezos sees it because obviously he had to authorize the fact that the Washington Post, the paper that he owns is going to put all of its content onto Facebook. And there’s a benefit there. But he’s going to make money on it because there’s going to be ads there, and there’s new distribution there, there’s new value there. And I don’t know what else was done to get that super deal done between Washington Post and Facebook. But yea, we’re still starting to keep an old silo-ed media world where you had to go to the theatre, you had control over things. And as it shifts, and I think it shifts pretty radically, I know we’ll talk about this more on Wednesday on TWIG, we’ll see a lot more unusual deals about audience I think.

Leo: Speaking of the Washington Post, I think they got a little suckered. That’s probably a good word. By people. We’re still not sure about this. This is the Yelp for people. The idea is, it’s an app they say will come out next month. Julia Cordray, one of the app’s founders, says, “People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions. Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?” It’s a Yelp for people in which you can take somebody, as long as you know their cell phone number, and rate them online. Her co-founder Nicole McCullough says as a mother of two in an era when people don’t always know their neighbors she wanted something to help her decide whom to trust with her kids. A horrified article by Caitlin Dewey in the Washington Post in the Intersect Column. “Shocking,” she even said. “People won’t be able to remove their names. There will be no right to be forgotten.” And of course you can imagine—well, it doesn’t take much to imagine a horrific outcome to P-double E-P-L-E. Except, a number of people think this isn’t even an app. That there never was an intent to make an app. And that Julia Cordray and her co-founder are just making this up for attention. Nicole McCullough. Snopes even tried to get to the bottom of this. where they debunk rumors, couldn’t prove that it was a hoax. But they kind of feel like there’s a lot of evidence, including the date of April 1st of its Twitter page which has since been removed, that this was a joke. They didn’t mention the platform, they didn’t say is it Android? Is it iOS? Where it’s going to come out?

Jeff: Let’s go build it.

Leo: What do you think (laughing)? Maybe, maybe they want somebody to do this and they’re trying to get somebody to do it. Anyway, if you read the Snopes article, I have to say, it feels like the Washington Post maybe was hornswoggled. Sucker punched. Fooled by these two. Let’s take a break. We have more coming up. Lot’s more to talk about. Andrew Cunningham from Arstechnica is here. We’ll talk about El Capitan which came out this week.

Andrew: I looked it up. It’s 16,000 words. I was off by a couple thousand.

Leo: Well done. Well done. Bravo. Also, how many words are in the book, Meet the Geeks, Jason?

Jason: Wild Geeks? Yea, it will be about 75,000 words.

Leo: Geez. You know Rene Ritchie told us on MacBreak Weekly that he’s crossed a million words in articles, no it was more like 4 million words, in articles for iMore. Crazy! You guys much have blisters on your fingers. I don’t understand.

Andrew: You just stop noticing after a while. You get good, nice big calluses.

Leo: You know, I hate writing so much. I’ve written a bunch of books. And I just hate it so much that I never will do it again (laughing) because talking is so much easier. Jeff, you’ve written how many thousands of words?

Jeff: Yea, oh God, I hate to think on blogs and stuff. But yea.

Leo: How do you do it?

Jeff: I’ve slowed down. Well, I’ve slowed down a lot. Twitter ruined me.

Leo: Yea.

Jeff: I can get rid of a thought on Twitter and it’s gone and ruined me.

Leo: Twitter is ruining a lot of things.

Jeff: It really is. Forget these violent games, it’s Twitter’s fault. It’s all Twitter’s fault.

Jason: So it might be Twitter’s fault, that’s true.

Leo: On a bad night occasionally I will believe that actually. We’re going to take a break. Come back with lots more. Great panel. Lots to talk about. Our show today brought to you by Audio books. You know when the world gets to be too much I just escape into my book on Audible. You can find over 180,000 soon to be your books. And as wonderful as reading is, it’s even more immersive to listen. And you’re listening to the same content, the same words that are in the printed book. But you’re listening while you’re doing other things, things you couldn’t hold a book while you’re doing. Things like walking the dog, commuting in the car, washing the dishes, working out. Audible’s so great for my workouts. Sometimes I’ll even go a little farther because I’m listening to something and I don’t want to stop. I’m just now starting a new book. I’ve mentioned a couple of times. A science fiction book that is by a Chinese Science Fiction author, unknown in the west until now, that people are raving about called The Three-Body Problem. If you like science fiction this is great. I’ll tell you what. I’m going to get you 2 books for free. You can get the first 2 volumes of this trilogy for free. But there’s so much more. There’s mysteries, there’s non-fiction. I listen to a lot of non-fiction. Just finished Season of the Witch, David Talbot’s story of the history of San Francisco in the 60s and the 70s. You were there at that time, Jeff Jarvis. I think you would enjoy this book. And I’m sure you know David Talbot, founder of Slate, who’s really, it’s really a good book. It’s really well written. And you know, a story—I was living in the city. The stuff that happened I’d forgotten. So much great stuff from Patty Hurst.

Jeff: I have 4 things I’ve read on Audible.

Leo: What are the 4 things you’ve read on Audible?

Jeff: What Would Google Do?, Public Parts—

Leo: Oh you mean your books.

Jeff: I’ve read. I’ve read out loud.

Leo: You’ve actually read them.

Jeff: I read them. I recorded them, yes. 

Leo: Is Geeks Bearing Gifts, that’s on there isn’t it?

Jeff: Geeks Bearing Gifts and Gutenberg the Geek.

Leo: So, golly. Just search for Jeff Jarvis and you can listen to his—

Jeff: If you haven’t heard enough of me, you can hear more of me.

Leo: Yea. Look even on the cover it has you on the front of it. Like, peering out.

Jeff: Very strange.

Leo: One of the 100 worldwide media leaders. Oh this is a discussion.

Jeff: Oh, is that what it is?

Leo: This was recorded at Books Inc. in Mountain View.

Jeff: Well, that’s weird. I didn’t know that was there.

Leo: You know what? The neat thing about Audible is it’s not just books. There’s all sorts of stuff in here. I don’t know why I went—oh, there’s another Jarvis. J.L. Jarvis who apparently writes romance novels.

Jeff: (Laughing) now you caught, you found my secret out, Leo.

Jason: They’re the same guy. Pseudonym. 

Leo: Jeff L. Jarvis. “Mackenzie Cooper has had it with romance. On her way home from another blind date, arranged by her well-meaning sister, she is caught in a snowstorm. While maneuvering the twists and turns of the icy road, she loses control of her car. I don’t know why I’m doing this in a Scottish accent.

Jeff: I don’t know why you are either.

Leo: “--and crashes into the rocky hillside. When a rugged Scotsman pulls her to safety, Mackenzie is sure she must be hallucinating.” There’s nothing more romantic than a guy in a skirt, in a plaid skirt. He’s a highlander from 18th century Scotland and he kisses like a madman.

Jason: You know I got a killer, I’ve got a killer Audible recommendation.

Leo: Oh, good, what do you got?

Jason: Yes, so it’s this book called Brief: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less. It’s by Joseph McCormack.

Leo: It better be a short book.

Jeff: It better be a short book.

Jason: It is, it is. It’s only like 5 hours. So but I just saw this guy. There’s this great event last week called Idea Festival. Which is kind of like a far less expensive version of TED. 

Leo: I like that.

Jason: Joe gave a talk there. And it’s here in Louisville. It’s an international event. Lots of people we know, that you know, that have been on the show have talked there before. Like Baratunde Thurston and Molly Wood. But it’s a lot of like people from NASA, it’s all kinds of you know, innovators and artists and great, great, great folks. you can learn more about that. But Joe was there and gave a talk. And it was one of the best talks I’ve ever heard at any of these events.

Leo: If I listen to this the whole network falls apart. I’m going to write a book called Longer.

Jason: Longer. Nice. Actually you know, everybody that even comes on your show can benefit from this because it’s about sort of the 3 ways—we live in this age when we’re just absorbing so much information, right? And he talks about the fact, there’s this great stat where he talks about the fact that the human brain can process about 750 words a minute I guess it is. But we can only say about 150 words.

Leo: Right, that’s right, yes.

Jason: And so a lot of times your mind is wandering. That’s why people speed up podcasts, speed up audio books, right?

Leo: Right, right. Because you can understand more.

Jeff: I always talk fast. Like you get more in.

Leo: Get more in.

Jason: Yea, you get more in. So.

Leo: So this isn’t brief. It’s talk faster.

Jason: Well, it’s more about finding ways, you have a very small, if you don’t make a point quickly, people’s minds wanders and they fill up that extra gap which is other stuff. And so he talks about ways to make an impact by saying less. And he talks about speaking in headlines. He talks about e-mail, the ways you send e-mail, the way that you speak to people, you know, the ways to prepare to make your words matter more. And it’s funny. At this event almost everybody’s, you know, written a book that speaks right? And afterwards they’re out there signing their books and you know, they’re selling their books and stuff. After his, his was the only one that sold out in like 10 minutes. Like everybody ran from the audience afterwards and went to buy it because it resonated so much with, you know, trying to make a point. Not just in you know, speaking like he was, but in communicating in everyday life.

Jeff: It’s what we teach in journalism school, right? Right a lead, say what you’re going to say, write the nut craft, tell people what it’s about, get to the point, put the important stuff at the end, let people leave if they want to. I talk very fast.

Leo: Joe McCormack. Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less. You can get that for free. You can actually get 2 titles for free. Really some of the fun of Audible is picking those two. Every month I get to pick 2 more because I also have that subscription, the 2 book a month subscription. You’ll also get the Daily Digest of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. And you can cancel any time in the 1st 30 days, pay nothing, but that book will stay yours to keep. Before you go see The Martian, do me a favor. Read The Martian. R.C. Bray narrates this beautifully.

Jeff: Really well done.

Leo: Yea. Really brings Mark Watney to life. So many good books here. It’s hard to just pick 2.

Jeff: If I may add, it was also through Audible’s recommendation that I got to Pimsluer and estudiado Español. Berante dos veces.

Leo: They have a lot of educational stuff there. The great courses. There’s college lectures. They have the Pimsluer stuff. And this is, normally this is very expensive. And the fact that you can get these as part of your Audible subscription really is fantastic. So, what level are you up to now in Spanish, Jeff?

Jeff: 3.

Leo: Good.

Jeff: I’m not quite through 3.

Leo: That’s really cool. And you just listen when you get some free time in the car or on the train?

Jeff: In the car. I look like an idiot talking on the road.

Leo: Yea. There’s Ashlee Vance’s great book on Elon Mush. We were just talking about Musk.

Jason: Yea, that’s a great book. 

Leo: Ashlee did a great job.

Jason: That’s really sad. Like the beginning of that, how bullied he was. Boy, that part’s really sad.

Leo: But it’s a story of triumphing, you know. He really has triumphed.

Jason: It is. It is.

Leo: Because he has no fear and he just dreams big. Any way and the number 2. And when you go there you’ll be able to sign up for that 2 books a month. First 2 books free. This offer good in the U.S. and in Canada. But there is Audible in every country. It’s just different rules and different licenses so check your local Audible if you’re not in the U.S. or Canada. But if you’re in the U.S. or Canada, 2 books free. Fear is a luxury no captain can afford. The Aeronaut’s Windlass: The Cinder Spires, Book 1. There’s a lot of romance. There is a lot of adventure. Sci-fi and fantasy. You know, sometimes you’re in the mood for that. You just want to escape. Let’s see, moving on. There’s a lot of stuff to talk to. I think we’ve done ad blockers to death. No need to talk about it anymore. Although Jeff, you did write a good article on saying that really the onus is on advertisers and advertising to fix this.

Jeff: I don’t see media to fix advertising but that’s pretty much the bottom of it.

Leo: Yea, yea. And you quote Putney Swope. Which is ill remembered but one of the great funny movies of the 60s.

Jeff: It really is.

Leo: I’d forgotten about this. By Robert Downey Senior. Who’s also forgotten (laughing). The son has eclipsed the father. Anyway, I recommend the article. As usual Jeff writing on Medium, and you can see I’ve had a number of underlinings from people I follow on Medium and a lot comments, too. I don’t really like this feature of Medium, its ability to have a conversation around your words.

Jason: It makes comments much better.

Leo: Because they’re right there, yea.

Jeff: They’re right there, yea. I put the same post up as a Note on Facebook. The new improved Note structure. It doesn’t have quite the functionality that Medium has yet, but it’s a lot more elegant and gives you more control than just a post. A little more permanence. So it’s interesting to see where this goes.

Leo: I love it that Ed Williams underlined this. “At a minimum, advertising must not annoy and must, must, must also be transparent.”

Jason: You know what made me think of when actually this whole conversation lately, because obviously we’ve been thinking about it—

Leo: Oh yea, I’m sure this impacts your bottom line. Yea.

Jason: Absolutely. Is I do a lot of research, you know historical, either I always got some kind of project, not just writing a book but sometimes other sort of history kind of project just being a history lover. And a lot of times that ends up being one of two things that are both fun. Reading dead people’s mail or looking up old newspapers.

Leo: Is that legal?

Jason: Yea, right. That’s what archives are full of. Archives are full of dead people’s mail, right? Letters. Old letters. But the newspapers are the interesting part. And what’s useful in this case, is when you go back and you read old newspapers, and you look at the advertisements, they’re actually as interesting, especially from you know, a historical perspective, as the copy, right?

Leo: I agree. I love them.

Jason: Because you learn so much about what was going on at the time and what people’s priorities where and what they were interested in and what sold and maybe what didn’t sell. And as you knew about anything. And also if you look at the ads, a lot of times they’re much more personal. They’re more akin to something like one of the ad reads that you do, Leo, than they are to this modern more impersonal.

Leo: They’re not so slick. There’s features and benefits and you know, they’re folksy. Yea.

Jason: Yea, they are. And so there’s an audience. Like they know that they are delivering a message to an audience and they’re you know, interacting with them in a more personal way in a sense. And so that’s one of the elements that’s missing, especially in on-line ads which are much more you can tell obviously about a numbers game. It’s about you know, volume. And that’s where we kind of lost course. And where advertising has lost its way especially on the internet, is that they’re not about addressing an audience and they’re not about providing, you know, information. They’re not about sort of engagement. They’re more about volume and numbers.

Leo: Where do you read the old stuff? Do you—I’m looking at Google Newspaper, the Google Newspaper Archive, which is really fun.

Jason: Yea. It is. Also the Library of Congress has an amazing archive of old newspapers. And those are a lot of times not the big ones but they’re the more smaller, community kind of papers as well going back to the 1800s, early 1800s. And yea, you can read them on Google now. Obviously I still like to go to libraries and look up microfilms and there are some that haven’t been digitized yet. You know I’m very thankful to the college students who spend their whole summers digitizing these things. It’s a very boring job. I think it’s extremely important. And so, you know, thank you if you’re an intern out there that spent this past summer digitizing newspapers. We appreciate it. So yea, it’s super useful. And I do think it’s instructive to kind of where we’re at, right, that advertising has to change. It has to you know, become more useful again, more purposeful.

Leo: Didn’t banner ads really, weren’t they kind of the webs equivalent of display ads in newspapers, Jeff? That’s kind of what they are.

Jeff: Sure, sure. And billboards on the street, too. Just impressions.

Leo: Right, right. Impressions, impressions, impressions. All right, well there you go. Speaking of Ed Williams, Twitter, everybody’s saying now. Looks like they’re going to have a CEO and it’s going to be what? Jack Dorsey? That seems a little odd. Jack’s of course, one of the inventors of Twitter and one of it’s—in fact he’s been twice fired as CEO of Twitter (laughing).

Jason: 3rd times a charm.

Leo: 3rd times a charm. Also runs Square and has said many times, “I won’t do, I won’t be CEO of Twitter unless I can be CEO—I’m not leaving Square.” The Twitter board has of course said many times, “But we want a full time CEO.” Well the latest, and this is from Kara Swisher, of course who knows everything.

Jeff: Everything.

Leo: And Kurt Wagner writing for Re/Code, that Jack Dorsey is expected to be named the permanent Twitter CEO. Feels like Twitter is just like an amusement at this point. It’s just so much fun to watch this. It’s not a business.

Jeff: A horror movie. A horror movie. My fear is, I think Adam Bain is much respected, much loved, a sane person in a company that desperately needs sanity. He’s the chief revenue officer. My fear is they could lose him, which you lose if he doesn’t get the job. And they’ve already lost tons of executives through all this turmoil and—

Leo: According to the Re/code, Bain is widely expected to be promoted to COO as a little, you know, here’s a bone.

Jeff: I’d go hire Adam in a second. Adam, I used to work with him year ago at Advanced. But you know, if I’m another technology company and I’m looking for a CEO, I’d hire Adam Bain.

Leo: Yea. What is—Twitter makes money. It’s not you know, losing money. Why is Twitter in so much trouble? Why is—

Andrew: They’re just under pressure to keep growing and growing and growing into infinity, right? And there are signs that that growth is slowing or it’s not as healthy as it needs to be and that makes the shareholders nervous and there you go.

Leo: Never go public, folks.

Jason: Its biggest problem as a public company for Twitter is that it’s not Facebook. And you know, Facebook is you know, is a money machine the way Google Ads you know, Ad Sense was a money machine and Ad Words were a money machine a decade ago, right? And Twitter is not that. Twitter is something different. It is social media but it’s a different kind of social media. And it’s not necessarily something that is easy to understand right away, still as what Facebook has done. I think Twitter’s done a lot of good things. I think product wise they’ve had some misses but Facebook has misses all the time to. I think that they’ve done some good things to try to make it easier to use, to try to surface more content, to try to surface older content. And they’re doing lots of good things. But I think it does have, it does have certain limits in terms of audience. It’s still a huge audience. It’s going to be, it’s going to continue to be really important I think for a long time. But it’s not a money machine. It’s not a money machine the way Google and Facebook were. And I don’t know if it ever will be. The ad click rate, you know click rates on ads on Twitter are significantly less than Facebook. It’s not, it’s still not a fantastic ad platform. And maybe it’s still, it’s part of this same discussion of how does advertising work in the modern digital world. And Facebook hasn’t, Facebook has kind of cracked it much more holistically than Twitter has. Twitter’s still trying to figure out. They really haven’t figured out the formula yet. And that’s their problem. You know, once they figure that out, and I think they probably will, you know, they’ll make more money. They’ll make a lot more money. I don’t think it will ever be Facebook though. 

Leo: It’s so amazing because – well, there’s an article by Farhad Manjoo in the New York Time this week, talking about Twitter in effect saving television. I mean who would have thought that a few years ago?

Jason: Yea, because of live, because of live matches.

Leo: Yea. They’re talking about Scandal. Every Thursday since the show’s premiere, most of the Scandal cast and crew have used Twitter to ad live commentary that runs during the broadcast. And this has inspired hundreds of thousands of tweets from viewers every broadcast. It has been credited with not only deepening the program’s relationship with its audience, but I think probably the ratings. 

Jeff: When I was down in Medellin I talked with a journalist from Chile who did an amazing—all the troubles in Chile from years back, there was a dramatization of it and so this journalistic site decided to do a fact based version of what was going on. And they used Twitter as the show was going on to say, “This is what really happened. This is what really happened. Da, da, da, da, da.” Huge, huge success. Brought tremendous attention. Twitter’s an amazing tool. But it’s still the world. That’s the issue.

Leo: He talks about Joshua Malina who I’ve followed on Twitter for a long time. I really liked him in the West Wing going way back. But nobody, Malina himself says, “I’m not a star. I’m a working actor. Nobody knows my name. People kind of know my face, but I don’t have fans.” But he says, “25 plus years into my career and it’s only know because of Scandal and Twitter that people know my name and I have fans.” But he is, he’s very smart. He’s been using Twitter for years. He’s on Vine. He’s on Periscope. He is an example of an actor that’s been working for 25 years who’s worked in a lot, but who has now finally been able to use social media to actually crack into the top tier, right? I think that’s interesting. It’s not just networks and shows that benefit. It’s talent too.

Jason: Yea. I do think Twitter needs a full time CEO, I’ll be honest. I think Twitter, Twitter has some big challenges and you know, no matter how good Jack Dorsey is, and if he is the right person for the job, there’s a reason why the board wants him to be full time CEO. Like they have a lot of problems. They need a leader who’s going to really be there and lead. And that doesn’t mean that Jack Dorsey can’t be the figure head of the company, can’t be—

Leo: But does he have the vision? I mean the guy’s been here before. It’s not like he hasn’t had his voice heard at Twitter. Does he have the vision to turn Twitter into whatever it is that Twitter needs to turn into? I don’t know. I mean I think it’s good the way it is. I don’t think—

Jason: Yea. I think they need somebody. Twitter’s challenge is I think are more blocking and tackling, right? Like it needs to get product right, they need to nail that. It needs to get, you know, figure out advertising. I don’t think it needs it necessarily huge product visionary you know to push it forward. You know, it’s good doing what it’s doing. It just needs to do business a little better. It needs to run its operations better. And it needs a lot of attention to do that. You know Jack Dorsey’s a great leader. He’s a great figure head. I think he’s amazing as the face of Twitter. He’s amazing talking about what Twitter is and why it’s great. But he can do that as executive chairman. And I think that if they do have the kind of brain drain, like we’re talking about at the top, and they kind of already have had some, then that ultimately could, especially with him becoming CEO, that could ultimately hurt them. Maybe what the base case scenario is him coming in, being full time CEO for you know, another, for a year or two and then bumping back up to executive chairman. And whoever, the COO, maybe that person, they’re grooming the person for CEO which they’ll sort of take over full time. Maybe that would give, you know, Wall Street some more confidence in Twitter.

Jeff: I think, but I think you’re right when you said it first which is they need a full time CEO. And if this is just a transition to that then Wall Street’s going to be impatient. What’s the strategy? Figure out your game. Get it done. I don’t think anybody’s against Jack necessarily but how could you not be distracted with 2 companies?

Jason: Yea. You can’t.

Jeff: I would imagine more his, he has a much—well, let’s put it this way. He has a much, much larger stake in Square than he has in Twitter. Dollar-wise, it’s I don’t know.

Jason: Yea. I mean when Steve Jobs—

Leo: I just feel like Twitter is a success and it just baffles me that it’s deemed to be in trouble and they’ve got to bring in this guy to save it when it seems like—God, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a hashtag and Tweet us.

Jason: It gets compared—it is when you compare it to Facebook. Like that’s the biggest challenge it has.

Leo: Well on Facebook, everything’s a failure compared to—I’m a failure compared to Facebook. Doesn’t mean I’m in trouble. Sorry, I mean that’s a bad company to compare yourself to. They have a billion and a half users.

Jason: I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more. Nothing is Facebook or will be for some time. But Twitter’s never—

Leo: Wall Street’s the problem, isn’t it? That’s really the problem. These guys expect too much from companies.

Jason: Well, Wall Street is people, right? Wall Street is investors. Wall Street is people that believe, that invest in things what they think the future is. And people look at the future of Twitter right now and they’re not real sure. And for good reason. And I think when you look at the future of a company like Facebook or Google, you know, you’re pretty certain they’re going to be around in 5 or 10 years and probably making a lot more money than they are now. Twitter it’s hard to see. And I think that’s why Wall Street isn’t sure what to think about them. And I think we’re all, we all agree it’s going to be around, but I think even we’re not sure, you know, how will it change, how will it you know, make more money. And I think Dorsey, he’s you know, if you’re the CEO of 2 companies, like it’s hard to do it equally. You know when Jobs was the head of Apple and Pixar he was dedicating most of his time to Apple. He had people at Pixar that were already, by the time he was doing that, he had people that were running Pixar. He was making executive decisions and his job was to go in and you know, punch people in the nose in Hollywood and you know, make sure they got a good deal. And he was really great at it. Other than that, he didn’t really run the company. You know, other people ran the company.

Leo: Jeff, are they, isn’t Twitter doing like a news thing? Everybody’s doing a news thing. It’s a safe thing. It’s a safe thing to ask. Everybody’s doing a news thing. What is Twitter’s? It’s curated.

Jeff: Yea, it’s curated. And things again, I –

Leo: It’s not what people want from Twitter, is it?

Jeff: That’s their [static]. What the board says is, well—

Leo: Somebody’s breaking up.

Jeff: What the whole market says is, “You’re not big enough Twitter, so clearly you’re not giving people what they want. So what do they want? Figure it out and give it to them.” So now they flail around trying to figure out what that thing could be. Is it longer tweets? Is it curated people? Is it curated content? You know the rumors of what’s coming out this week from Google that have been published on Re/code I think could make a huge difference in the way you experience content through links on a place like Twitter. I think a lot could change around Twitter but the problem is that you see it as a success but the market doesn’t.

Jason: Yea.

Leo: Yea but is that really—I guess we have to run the world that way because they’re a public company and if their stock tanks they can’t hire people and the whole thing spirals down. 

Jeff: I brought a bunch of German editors and publishers into places like Vox and Courts and other places like that. And every time I brought them in, one of the people that’s come in says, “I know you’re all on Twitter,” but they point out the window. “They’re all on Facebook.”

Leo: Yea.

Jason: Yea.

Jeff: And in the media world that’s what they’re paying attention to. And Facebook has so much more data about you. It knows more about you. It can target amazingly. Now you have Google adding the new function that enables marketers to give them their e-mail address list so that even through Google you’re going to be able to target correctly. The number of—I’ve argued that the real industry these big folks are in is signals. And it’s the war of signals. And Facebook has a tremendous war chest of signals, that is to say data about people. Google has tremendous mechanisms like Android to gather signals about you. Amazon has tons of signals about you. Apple, less so. And Apple’s not really in the ad business so they don’t really need it as much. But those 3 companies, Facebook, Google and to an extent Amazon, in the advertising world, they have the wealth of signals. We in the media have been stupid. We don’t have relationships with people so we don’t have those signals. And Twitter has some signals but Gina Trapani knows more about you than Twitter does. 

Leo: Isn’t that funny? Yea, because of Think Up, yea.

Jeff: Yea.

Leo: We lost you Andrew. I think we’ve got you back.

Andrew: Yea, I’ve been told that I’m back.

Leo: You’re back. Is there anything you wanted to add to that?

Andrew: No, we were just talking, we were talking about Facebook and Google earlier. And I think the interesting thing about those 2 companies is that they’ve proven that they can change and grow and get into new things successfully over the last decade, decade and a half. Whereas Twitter, like they’ve got that one core product. Like even when they try to change anything about it, like if they changed the stars to hearts or if the increased the number of characters in a DM, like the people go, the established users of that service go kind of crazy about it in a bad way. And so that’s another thing they’ve got to fight too as they look to grow is like how do they do that without alienating the people who are already there.

Leo: Yea. They’re talking about increasing the 140 character limit. I don’t know what you’d get though if you do that with Twitter. It’s not Twitter anymore.

Jason: That’s its secret sauce, right? 

Leo: Right.

Jason: That’s why it’s, that’s why Twitter’s Twitter. 

Leo: Why can’t you just be a little, small business, go along, have 300 million users, just be happy –

Jason: Because it’s a public company. 

Leo: Yea, big mistake.

Jason: When you’re a public company, right? The law of gravity is different when you’re a public company.

Leo: Yea, yea. I guess –

Jeff: Again, let’s emphasize how far they came. I remember when I made a friend of Fred Wilson when he invested in it saying, “Where’s the business model? There’s no business model for a friend.” And indeed it is profitable. And Dick Costello did grow the revenue and grow the company impressively with a hard hand. And it needed it. But it’s still, the problem is you just can’t counter what Twitter’s going to be. I go back to, I’m still nervous about them based on the way they treated developers back in the day. They grew on the backs of developers, and then they kicked said developers in said backs.

Leo: Yea.

Jason: Yea.

Leo: Just to prove your point, by the way, Andrew, Ken from Chicago just in the chatroom said, “No. I hate the Twitter re-design of stars to hearts. I hate it.” (Laughing) I think that’s good. When your users care that much about something like that, that means that they love you.

Jason: Yea.

Leo: Well, that’s what I tell myself every morning when I read my Twitter feed.

Andrew: My preferred Twitter clients are all the ones that make Twitter act like it did like in 2010. So if I’m the typical user of your service, yea, I think you’ve got some problems. That’s how change resistant I am.

Leo: I use the mute button liberally. And I’ll mute somebody and they don’t know I muted them. And I just don’t see them anymore and life goes on. It’s a wonderful thing. Your stream can be so nice. So pleasant. Let us take a break. Come back with more, kind of the back of the book, the silly stories. Japanese hippopotamus calves, things like that. First though, let’s talk about disaster. You never know when disaster will strike. At work or at home, storm, fire, flood or Joey in the stockroom accidentally deleting the entire hard drive, could put you out of business. You got to back up. It drives me crazy on the radio show, especially. I’m on the front lines of this. Guy called today said “I have some legal documents on a USB thumb drive and I can’t read it.” And I said, “Didn’t you have a backup?” He said, “Yea, I had a backup but I can’t read that either.” I said, “You need Carbonite.” For crying out loud. How many times do I have to tell you? Carbonite backup for business and home. A million and a half folks have finally heard the word. Maybe you should too. Back it up. You install Carbonite once, you can forget about it. Anytime you’re on it’s automatically backing up. It’s encrypted on the way to the server, encrypted in place on the server. But your data’s there. It’s safe. Think of it like a data vacation. It’s in there in the Carbonite climate controlled network operation center where breezes blow across it and it gets to relax and enjoy. It probably even has a little tropical drink in its hand. But when you need it back, when you’ve got to get it, you just press the restore button, there’s your stuff, back to work. You don’t miss a beat. Use our offer code TWIT you’ll get 2 free months when you buy. You’ve heard me talk about this. I know you have. And you’ve put it off. You’ve said, “Oh, yea, one of these days.” Don’t be the person. I know people who back up all the time, who use Carbonite because they lost data. Don’t wait until disaster strikes. It’s like fire insurance. You can’t buy it after the fire. Get it now at 2 free bonus months if you use the offer code TWIT. We’re talking hi-tech. We’re saving everybody. Can we save Evernote? Apparently, I didn’t know this, according to Business Insider—now there is some debate over this. Not everybody agrees. Business Insider says that Evernote is falling apart. Of course they did replace Phil Libin, their CEO in July. I like Phil a lot. I thought this was maybe Phil’s idea. But now I’m getting the impression that it was the board who was a little bit worried about Evernote. 30 million registered users. 270 million in funding. But they did have to lay off 18% of its workforce in the last 9 months. They’re going to shut down 3 of its 10 global offices. And I was kind of stunned, their actual revenue of Evernote is not huge. What was the number? It was like 30 million dollars.

Jeff: Everybody thought this was the idea model. That a small proportion of your audience wants to pay for it, everybody else uses it free. They figured out—

Leo: They invented freemium for crying out loud.

Jeff: Everybody thought they’d figured it out. It’s sad.

Leo: Phil would tell me, “Oh yea, we get 5% become paid users and that’s enough.” But when your revenue for a company that size is 36 million dollars, that’s not a good sign.

Jason: A lot of server bills in there and they’re only getting bigger, right? I think the lesson from Evernote for all those people who are building freemium services, freemium the model still works. Like this is not, I don’t think this is an indictment on freemium. Although there are some movements away, there are some movements towards freemium, there are some move—

Leo: And then a movement away from your Skype which has frozen on. He looks so sad. It looks like he’s just moaning. “My Skype is… oh, no.” Oh, Jason. And then Jason’s Skype died (laughing). I’m sorry. We shouldn’t mock a man who’s frozen. That’s mean.

Jeff: Microsoft, look what you’ve done to this man. That’s what I feel like every time I get your Skype from my Chromebook by the way. That’s my face.

Leo: I used to love Evernote. In fact Phil once told me, we had Phil on Triangulation, he once told me something like 3 or 4% of Evernote subscribers subscribe because they heard about it from me. I’ve been plugging it for years. And I use it all the time because it’s cross platform and stuff. And I pay for it. But I guess a lot of people don’t pay for it. They say they have a 150 million registered users. But I guess a small percentage of those are paying for it. And that’s hard to run a business off of. Anyway, good luck. We wish you well. This was the week that Alphabet was born. We’ll look back on this someday and remember. Alphabet was officially, Google officially kind of became Alphabet on Friday and they’ve replaced—is this true Jeff? “Don’t Be Evil” becomes “Do the Right Thing?”

Jeff: I didn’t know that. But I kind of, one I didn’t get rid of it. What they basically did is translate this into a phrase that the very literal minded can finally understand.

Leo: It’s an action instead of what not to do, it’s what to do.

Jeff: And it’s what it’s always been which is employees keep up from doing the wrong thing. Make sure we do the right thing. You have a license to question our actions on this basis because doing the wrong thing would be bad business. That’s always been what it is. That’s always been the intent. But of course they get all this crap about the evil stuff. But now you know what’s going to happen. I can write the speech for the German politician that’s going to say, “Google doesn’t want to be not evil anymore that way it allows itself to be evil.”

Leo: It will be evil. This is the—I think this is very good. I mean these are just words on a page but maybe if the company really believes this that it will promulgate through the culture of the company. Employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries and controlled affiliates should do the right thing. Follow the law. Act honorably. Treat each other with respect. I think that sounds great.

Jeff: But it should be more than that. I don’t know where the whole thing—what it should be was, treat your customers first and foremost with respect. Do what they want. Not what you want to do. That’s what it meant. Don’t ever screw them for the sake of the business. That’s what “Don’t Be Evil” meant.

Leo: Google’s code of conduct used to have things like, “It’s ok to drink a little alcohol at work but not too much” and “dogs are cool but cats are discouraged at the office.”

Andrew: Well, that’s wrong.

Leo: Yea, that’s wrong, isn’t it?

Andrew: Yea, that’s obviously wrong.

Leo: Crazy. But that harkens back to a Google of an earlier time when there weren’t so many employees. I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe they allow cats now. But that’s a—so Alphabet officially became the entity—

Jeff: But no ferrets.

Leo: No, no, no, no. Ferrets.

Andrew: That’s something we can all agree on.

Leo: Well, they’re pretty cuddly. You know it’s illegal to have a hedgehog in California?

Jeff: It’s illegal to have a ferret in New York City.

Leo: Well it should be illegal to have a ferret in New York City. What’s wrong with a hedgehog? 

Jeff: I don’t know.

Leo: More Stagefright bugs. Oh man. This is—poor Google. I like Android, I really do. But this is pushing people towards iOS. More than 1 billion Android users are vulnerable. Stagefright is the media player in all versions of Android. And the security researcher Zimperium zLabs that discovered the original Stagefright bug has found a new one. Two new ones that can allow hackers to break into your phone by tricking you to either download or visit a website containing a malicious MP3 or MP4. The Stagefright playback engine will play it and you will be pwned. This effects almost every Android device since the 1st version of the operating system in 2008. Even Android 5.0 and later. At least 950 million Android users. There is no fix although Google, which new about it, which was warned about this problem before it came public is apparently working on a fix and will put that patch out in a couple of—tomorrow I guess to Nexus phone users. And they shared the patch to partners a few weeks ago so they could get those out. But that’s a problem because there’s different manufacturers, different carriers. It’s always difficult to get the bugs pushed out. Stagefright took a couple of months to fix and now there’s the new Stagefright. So be very careful I guess about you know, if you’re on an Android device none of them have been patched yet, about playing MP3s or MP4s from unknown sites.

Andrew: Yea, again, unfortunately the problem is less than any one bug and more that there’s no reliable like guaranteed way to get this update out to everybody who’s got an Android phone right now. Like I’m sure there’s like tons of Android phones out there now that still haven’t been patched for the 1st Stagefright. And Google’s doing what it can, but—

Leo: It’s not up to them unfortunately. They don’t—the way it’s structured, they don’t get to. Unlike Apple which gets to push updates up to all iPhones if it needs to. Is that a reason—now, do you use an iPhone, Andrew, or a Google device, and Android?

Andrew: I use a little of everything. Right now I’m iPhone and Nexus tablet but a lot of the time I’ll switch back and forth just so I’m up with everything.

Leo: Yea, I do the same thing. Although I’m in love with the new iPhone 6S Plus. I may fall in love with the Google 6P.

Jeff: You better.

Leo: (Laughing) I got my new Moto 360 watch and I do like it better. Although I do have to say that both Motorola, both Android-wear and Apple Watches are really supremely useless devices. They have one purpose. At least the Apple Watch has one purpose to signal that you’re part of the club and that way you can recognize each other on the street.

Jeff: You have the new Moto 360?

Leo: I do. It’s nice. I’ll bring it on Wednesday.

Jeff: Ok, good.

Leo: Well this one’s really different. It’s huge. It’s 46mm. But they make other sizes as well. 

Andrew: A 42, is that the other size?

Leo: Yea, there’s a female 42, a male 42 and a giant 46.

Andrew: Right.

Leo: But I thought if I’m going big I’m going to go all the way.

Jeff: I have thin wrists. Worse has been said about me.

Leo: You can get the lady’s one if you wish. And now a malware tool that has your back. Symantec’s researchers have discovered a new malware tool called Linux.Wifatch that compromises home routers and other Internet-connected consumer devices and patches them. Symantec says the malware is in fact in tens of thousands of routers and other IoT systems around the world. They’ve seen it for the last 2 months. It seems in fact to be designed to harden devices. For instance on some devices it turns of Telnet which is an insecure communications module. It tries to prevent other attackers from using other known vulnerabilities in—

Jeff: So it’s a good malware?

Leo: It’s a good malware. It still, Symantec says—

Jeff: If Steve Gibson made malware, this is what he would make?

Leo: Well, yea. It’s bizarre. The code is obfuscated and in the clear as if the author wanted people to know what they are up to. But, as Symantec points out, it’s still a piece of code that infects your device without your consent. It does have general purpose back doors that look to be for updates to add other features, anti-malware features, but could be used to add bad stuff. It’s just bizarre. It is a—and mostly because people who use routers never patch them, never think about it. So I’m guessing some benign hacker made this thing and spread it around. A couple of sad stories, speaking of hacks. Patreon was hacked. Unfortunately kind of a nasty, Dan Goodin writing in ars technica about this, it’s kind of a nasty story because apparently they had left a debugger running on a public facing part of their website. And the debugger allowed arbitrary code to be run. Worse, they were told about it 5 days before they got hacked. Patreon, Jack Conti’s really, really wonderful site that enables creators to get paid by their users, kind of a patronage system. I know a lot of podcasters that use it. That’s sad. And now 15 gigs of data have been released into the wild from Patreon. 

Jeff: Once again, we have to get to the point where someone having this data cannot do anything to you. We have to change the transactional end of this not the data end. We know data is going to get lost. We just know it.

Leo: Well they did the right thing. They used, they used bcrypt to encrypt the credit card numbers, things like that, passwords. But so did Ashley Madison and that was hacked. So it’s possible that even best practices aren’t enough.

Jason: What are you saying, Jeff? We know data’s going to get stolen so we have to protect the data where it’s at so if it is stolen it’s useless?

Jeff: No, but that too. That’s part of it. But even then we know it gets stolen from idiot companies. We’ve got to get to the point where someone who has your name, address, birthdate and social security number can’t do jack. Because transactions themselves are more secure.

Leo: Oh, I agree with you. I agree with you. And we’ve got to stop using the social security number as an identifier because it’s so hard to change. It’s a permanent ID number. It’s like your fingerprint. And once it’s hacked, you’re screwed.

Jeff: Yea so we’ve got to change. The fact that now, well of course finally America gets chips. And we don’t get pins on the chips. Jesus.

Jason: Yea, right, exactly. Like what?

Leo: Chip inside. Although that’s secure. And then T-Mobile gets hacked but not really. Because what happens is when T-Mobile gets a new customer, they send that data to Experian which then approves or denies the customer based on their credit record. Experian got hacked and 15 million T-Mobile customers information—

Jeff: And so what did T-Mobile do to make up for this?

Leo: They gave you 2 years subscription to an Experian service to protect yourself (laughing).

Jeff: (Laughing) can we spell irony?

Leo: To protect your data. 

Andrew: It won’t happen again, right? Lightning never strikes twice.

Leo: No, it couldn’t possibly happen again. So El Capitan is out. I’m already hearing from—anytime you get a big operating system upgrade I’m hearing from people whose favorite utilities stopped working. I noticed a lot of menu bar utilities stopped working. Apple probably disabled the backdoor that these companies were using. But on the whole I know you’ve written a lot of words about it, Andrew. A good upgrade? A worthwhile upgrade? Should people do it?

Andrew: Especially if you’re already running Yosemite most people are going to have no problem with it. The thing that I think a lot of people are noticing with some of those utilities, and I ran into it myself with the tethered shooting app for my Sony camera, is that this new system integrity protection tool that stops 3rd party apps from writing to certain protected system directories. When you upgrade from Yosemite to El Capitan it’s going to move any files in there that don’t belong somewhere else. So yea, it’s going to break some things especially if you have like 3rd party drivers installed, if you use any 3rd party toolbars things like that. Yea, you might run into some problems. But I’ve been using it since the pretty early days of the Beta and like basic stuff like Office and Chrome and Firefox and the other apps and things I’ve not had any trouble. On my laptop especially, I really like the split screen feature for full screen. You know I’ve seen some people kind of making fun of the fact that we went from window operating systems to one app on a screen operating systems and now we’re going back to windows. But when you use the multi-touch track pad gestures in OS10 you can kind of swipe between these full screen apps really easily and so I like to have like all my IM apps in one window—

Leo: Yea, I do that. It’s great.

Andrew: I have like a Chrome tab and a Word app like next to each other in another window. Like it’s been really great, especially for my laptop. On my multi-screen desktop setup, not so much. But can’t take that with you everywhere.

Leo: Right. I even use it on my multi-screen. That means I have hundreds of desktops everywhere. No, it’s a good update. Apple, you know Apple’s to be commended because this is a hard thing do to. We’re hearing so many problems with Windows 10. Microsoft seems to have rushed it out and despite a long public Beta period you know, lots of stuff’s not working. One thing that Microsoft does that’s not working on here, on El Capitan, is Microsoft Office 2016. Do we know why that’s not working?

Andrew: Oh, have you had problems?

Leo: Yea. Lots of people saying problems.

Andrew: I do fine. Works for me. I know that’s the most helpful answer you can give.

Leo: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Works for me. There must be something wrong with you. It’s very hard for me not to say that on the radio show all the time.

Andrew: It’s a holdover from when I worked in IT.

Leo: Right. It works for me. Have you re-booted the computer? Is it plugged in? Works for me. Robot taxis. Where else, the first autonomous vehicles, Japan of course. They’ll be used in a very small area to take older people to grocery stores. But I think this is great. A robot, autonomous vehicle. Initially I think they’ll have drivers you know, in the cars. But I think ultimately the idea is this will be an unmanned service. Starts next year. It will be available for 50 people in the Kanagawa prefecture south of Tokyo. But I think it’s a start. We’re getting there. You’re in a Johnny Cab. Someday. Someday.

Andrew: I can’t wait for this to go wrong and become a movie with Will Smith in it. I’m really looking forward to it.

Leo: (Laughing) I-Taxi.

Jason: Japan still loves its robots, you know? 

Leo: They do.

Jason: I spent some time with Honda earlier this year.

Leo: Yea, you so the Maximo, didn’t you?

Jason: Yea, and some of their researchers that are working on you know, robots and that kind of thing. I think they’re kind of getting to the point where they’ve done really good with the mechanics I think of robots. What we’re really at now is where we need the AI, right to catch up. And that’s why so many companies like Google and IBM and others, that’s where they’re putting all their research. And they’re really changing their thinking about the idea of what a robot looks like, right? Some are humanoid robots like ASIMO, you know that I did some coverage of earlier this year. But I think people are also starting to think of robots in terms of special, you know, more specialty functions, right? And the AI attached to you know, there’s the one that’s like an arm that can make dinner, right? It’s just an arm and it makes dinner or it can do the dishes, that kind of thing. But it needs a lot of AI. It’s more about the AI than about the function. And it’s the same thing with cars and self-driving cars or self-driving vehicles and this kind of thing, because it’s the AI that’s holding us back.

Leo: And the sense in humans.

Jeff: And we await the sense in humans.

Jason: Yea. I just watched two of the Ex Machina--

Leo: I liked that movie. Yea.

Jason: It was well done, yea. And encapsulates a lot of the sort of 50 years or a hundred years even of thinking about once we get to the point where AI works, what does that mean?

Leo: It’s going to go horribly wrong, that’s why. That’s why.

Jason: And that’s why—there’s a professor at the Idea Festival, the event that I mentioned that we covered last week. And he talked a lot. And we talked to him a lot. He’s in cyber security. He runs a cyber security lab at the University of Louisville, is one of the preeminent sort of researchers in cyber security. His name is Roman—gosh, I’ve got to remember his last name. I can’t pronounce it if I did. But anyway, he was saying that you know, all of these things, we are on the cusp of it. Like you would be amazed at what we can do, of what AI can do. And he said where we’re at now, we need to start thinking at this point of putting the guidelines in place the same way—he said we need to think about the same we do about chemical weapons and about nuclear arsenals and things like that. Because we need to put the guidelines and the frameworks in place for doing this research before it becomes dangerous. So he was a real advocate of that. He was a real, he was a real optimist in terms of how far AI is coming and how fast, how quickly. But his real thrust was we’ve got to set guidelines and expectations and frameworks for this kind of stuff.

Leo: We’re going to let you all go. It’s been a lot of fun. I thank you, Jeff Jarvis.

Jeff: Always a pleasure.

Leo: We’ll see you back here on Wednesday.

Jeff: I’m glad to be here at TWiT.

Leo: Are you traveling anywhere? Are you going to be in town?

Jeff: Oh, I’ll be in town.

Leo: Amazing.

Jeff: In town and I’m going to my Google event Wednesday morning so we can talk about it Wednesday afternoon.

Leo: Good. Good, good, good. Andrew Cunningham, Arstechnica. Always a pleasure. Come back soon.

Andrew: Yea, thanks for having me.

Leo: Nice to have you. Works for me.

Andrew: Yea, anytime.

Leo: And of course, Jason Hiner. And I really own you a debt of gratitude.

Jeff: Can’t wait to read it.

Leo: I am chapter 9.

Jason: Yea, thank you. And Lyndsey Gilpin also my co-author.

Leo: Yes, credit to Lyndsey.

Jason: Yes, who’s done an amazing job. You know we’ve been working on this for over a year and thrilled that we only have one left to reveal. And Leo’s chapter is amazing. Leo, thank you for your, you know, your openness in talking about and answering a lot of questions, spending a lot of time on the phone.

Leo: It was fun.

Jason: It was a lot of fun. And for TWiT listeners too, if you send us, we have an offer and we give it to the TWiT army first, because you know, Leo’s so awesome and has been so great about this. Is just if you send us your feedback about the chapter and why it’s so innovative about Leo, you know, send us an e-mail. There’s a contact form at We’ll send you a laptop sticker if you want one of laptop sticker.

Leo: Oh, I want one. I’ll send you a nice—I love that Leo, he’s a nice guy. Now I want a sticker.

Jason: Or any of the other chapters. You can talk about any feedback on any of the other chapters.

Leo: I want a sticker.

Jason: We are putting the best feedback that we get on all these chapters, the best feedback and insights we get from readers as part of this process, we’re going to add those to the end of each chapter. So it’s your chance to get your voice in the book as well.

Leo: So if, you know, somebody says, “Leo is a son of a bitch,” you can put that in there? It doesn’t have to be nice?

Jason: I mean we’re going to put the best insights in.

Leo: (Laughing) ok, that might be the best insight. Tomorrow Max Lobovsky joins us on Triangulation. He’s the co-founder of Formlabs 3D printer company. They’ve got some really interesting new stuff including the Form 2. If you’re interested in 3D printing, that will be a lot of fun. We had a great week on TWiT including, by the way, Jason Calacanis teaching me Brooklyn-ese on The New Screen Savers. Hey, get outta here, what are you talkin’? Take a look.

Narrator: Previously on TWiT.

Leo: Water on Mars!

Jason Calcanis: This is the thing, if you’ve got water you can have fish.

Leo: You can have fish.

Jason: If you’ve got fish, you can have calamari.

Leo: (Laughing) and lettuce.

Narrator: Before You Buy

Leo: Sigh. I got the new iPhone 6S Plus. Yes, it’s pink. I know Apple says this every year but it’s really true. This is the best iPhone ever. Just gorgeous.

Narrator: TWiT Live Specials.

Mike Elgan: This is the Tesla Model X live unveiling. Lots of technology, lots of emphasis on the comfort of the interior including HEPA filters that filter the air from the outside coming into the car.

Elon Musk: If there is ever an apocalyptic scenario, you just push the bio-weapon defense mode button. This is a real button.

Narrator: The New Screen Savers.

Tom McFadden: Is it living?

Jason: Is it made of cells?

Tom: Is it living?

Leo: Is it living?

Jason: Is it made of cells?

Leo: Is it living?

Tom: Is it made of cells? How we gonna find out? Investigation time.

Narrator: TWiT. Making the world safe for technology.

Leo: Yes, we rapped. Man. Hey, what’s coming up this week? Mike Elgan will tell us.

Mike: Coming up this week, Microsoft is holding an event in New York on Tuesday, October 6th. The company is expected to unveil the Surface Pro 4, 2 Lumia handsets and a new Microsoft Band Wearable. A Google event in New York on Wednesday, October 7th will probably announce a partnership between Google and Twitter to offer their open source alternative to Facebook’s Instant Articles for making news articles to appear quickly on mobile phones. Re/code’s Code/Mobile event kicks of Wednesday in Half Moon Bay, California and runs for 2 days. And the new Steve Jobs movie, penned by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogan as Steve Wozniak opens on Friday, October 9th. Critics, including the {? 2:11:35] are saying that the movie is insanely great. That’s what’s coming up this week. Back to you, Leo.

Leo: Thank you, Mike Elgan. Monday through Friday, 10 AM Pacific, 1 PM Eastern, 1700 UTC for Tech News Today. And don’t forget at 4 PM Pacific, Tech News Tonight at 7:00 PM Eastern, 2200 UTC. Jeff’s going to be at that event so we’ll get your report on Wednesday from the Google event. And we will be covering the Microsoft event live, 7:00 AM on Tuesday. I guess we begin early.

Jason: Big week.

Leo: Big week as always. Thanks so much for Andrew, to Jason, to Jeff Jarvis. Thanks to you for being here. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 3:00 PM Pacific, that’s 6:00 Eastern time, 2200 UTC. Would you stop by and watch live? It’s nice if you’re in the chatroom. But if you can’t, don’t worry. On demand versions available of all of our shows at our website at and wherever you subscribe to podcasts including our own TWiT apps on all the platforms. If you’d like to be in the studio, we had a nice studio audience today. Thank you all for being here. Just e-mail, we’ll put a chair out for you. I’m Leo Laporte. Thanks for being here; we’ll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye.



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