This Week in Tech 552
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech. Great show for you. Everybody is in the studio, Harry McCracken, the Technologizer, Jason Snell from Six Colors, and our own Becky Worley. We're going to have a great time talking about the latest tech news. Stay tuned, a great TWiT is next.
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This is TWiT: This Week in Tech, episode 552, recorded Sunday, March 6, 2016.
Then They Came for the Oatmeal
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It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech, the show where we give you the latest tech news. It's going to be one of those shows. It happens rarely, but once in a while we have a show where everyone is in studio, and when we find everyone in studio, we like to ply them with liquor to loosen up the conversation. Becky Worley is here. She's the queen of liquor plying.
Becky Worley: I always bring you a bottle. I brought you a bottle of nice red wine. I don't think we can add on to this beautiful old fashioned. I once told you and John Dvorak that I liked wine that tasted like Bug Spray OFF. I finally realized it's minerality is what I actually like. Leo, I'm grown up now.
Leo: Minerality, AKA Bug spray.
Becky Worley: One more bottle for you, in honor of... South by Southwest.
Leo: Were you in Austin?
Becky: I'm not, but I thought we should commemorate it.
Leo: I love the salt lake barbecue in Austin, as I know everybody else does.
Becky: We'll talk about it.
Leo: Thank you so much. Becky Worley from ABC's Good Morning America, Yahoo news..
Becky: Not any more.
Leo: Were you laid off with the rest?
Becky: Just a long road out of lay off. That's my third one, so I'll be back.
Leo: Also with us, Harry McCracken, King of the long fade. That's a mean thing to fade.
Harry McCracken: I don't know what that means.
Leo: I don't know either. From Fast Company. It's a dumb thing to say, it has nothing to do with you. It's actually Jason Snell who is King of the Long Fade.
Jason Snell: I'm more Prince of the Long Fade. Hi there.
Leo: From sixcolors.com. This is great, three of my favorite people, this is going to be a lot of fun. I don't even know if there's news to talk about. Who cares? We've got old fashioneds. Thanks to our brilliant editor who was apparently also a mixologist. Look, he put the Maraschino cherries with the orange twist with the S curve.!
Becky: That is good too. That is nice bourbon.
Leo: I asked him what it’s sweetened with. Gum syrup? Is that made from sorghum?
Jason: You squeeze it out of chewing gum.
Leo: If anybody is king of the long fade, it would be me. Don't take that personally. I'm fading as we speak.
Becky: We're all holding on.
Leo: We'll start off with a sad note. The man who invented the @ sign, Ray Tomlinson passed. He was 74, he had a heart attack. He was way back at the earliest days of the Internet at Bolt Beranek and Newman. They were the consultant that Arpa went to to help them create this thing called the Internet. He was there. He created... they were looking for a way to indicate email. He suggested the @ sign, separating the user name from the host name. You need to do that, because you could have duplicate user names, and you could have duplicate host names, but in theory you would have a unique user name@hostname. The @ sign is a beautiful way to do it.
Jason: People who did not live life before the Internet don't realize that it used to be you only saw the @ sign on apples at the Supermarket. 12 @ two dollars each or something like that. It was about the only place you ever saw it. It was an archaic symbol that is now super important to everything we do on the Internet.
Becky: It's the only guy on the top row above your numbers that isn't used for anything... it was a perfect choice.
Leo: I'm trying to remember the lore. You might remember it better, Harry. I remember there were other symbols proposed. I don't know if there was a fight, but it wasn't an automatic that the @ sign would be selected. Now it seems like, "Of course."
Harry: It took a long time before we all knew about it of course. For the longest time if you were on America Online, you could only send an email to other people on America Online.
Leo: There was no @ sign.
Harry: Right. There was no need for it, because you were all on AOL. It wasn't until the early 90's that normal consumers who are not academics or involved in the Government had access to it.
Leo: You just had a number. Copy served. Who remembers their number?
Jason: They had really good passwords because they had weird words separated by symbols and that was, it turns out a pretty good password. My one password just added a feature where you can have a certain number of words in a chain sepparated by symbols.
Becky: That's password padding, basically. The idea of bringing that symbol in.
Jason: They're more memorable that way. That's why I can remember my password from 1983 or whenever.
Leo: That's interesting. The @ sign... somebody has to date us.
Jason: Carbon date us.
Leo: The @ sign is called the apenstaartje in Dutch for the monkey's tale. In Danish it's the elephant's trunk, or Schnabel, in Finnish it's the Kissant or cat's tale. German it's the Klammeraffe or hanging monkey.
Harry: When was it invented?
Leo: There's some debate over it. Some thinks it's a symbol for the amphora, which was a unit of measurement, which was the terracotta jars that were used in the Greek times. They can trace it back to the 16th century, a Florentine trader who used the @ sign in his books. Others say the monks did it because they were lazy. They were trying to reduce the number of strokes, so instead of writing "at" the wrote @. History doesn't tell us where it began.
Becky: It's serendipitous because it has the right meaning, but also that it wasn't used. It wasn't in common usage.
Leo: No competition.
Becky: Was it always up there?
Leo: I remember it on my typewriter keyboards.
Becky: I had to call my Dad who worked at the time.
Harry: Gives you hope that the tilda or the karat may someday become useful.
Leo: I'm trying to find the history of using the @ sign in email. I remember there were some issues. There were some lesser uses. I know. Maybe it was APL or one of those weird programming languages.
Jason: Programming languages adopted it too. In the early days of the computer, they were looking at the keyboard like we need more symbols. What can we use this for? I remember learning basic and how the dollar sign to me came to represent string variables because Applesoft basic it was set name string to whatever and the string was the dollar sign, so it will always be that for me. Every symbol possible that could be used for a programming language was used. Every part of the buffalo. Every part of the keyboard was used by those systems.
Leo: Everything but the squeal. Ray also helped standardize the from field, the subject field. You had to have a to field. Next time you use email, tip an old fashioned to Ray Tomlinson, the godfather of email, passed away at the age of 74.
Becky: I found a strange Segway of the story of his passing to the big story that's been the story of the year so far, which is Apple versus the FBI, which is what a lot of people came to this week is that this is going to mandate a certain level of Government development to come up with their own technological solutions. That's going to be an infrastructure and there's going to be huge cost associated with getting the Government up to speed and it made me think of the investment the Government made and that we haven't seen anything of that scale since.
Leo: You really think that's what is called for is a moon shot to solve this problem?
Becky: Let's put it this way. I just backed us into it. Let's start at the beginning and see if we can get there. I saw the big picture in it, and then I realized let's do the news and let's get there because that's the opinion that's got to come out of this.
Leo: We don't need to go back through the whole tawdry story. We will finally hear the court's decision on the 22nd, which is two weeks from Tuesday, but it won't be the end of it, because whichever way it goes--in the Department of Justice's favor or Apple's favor, there will be an appeal no doubt. It will end up at the Supreme Court if they choose to take the case.
Becky: It goes through the ninth circuit, right?
Leo: It's got a ways to go. It's only with the Magistrate right now. This is the question that I would say is the real question: should there be in our lives, somewhere so private that only we can look at it? Do we as people deserve to have... focusing on the SmartPhone is maybe misleading. Should we as people have somewhere we can put stuff that nobody, including law enforcement can look at?
Harry: We have that. It's called our brains.
Jason: It already exists. It's a space that's protected.
Leo: But it holds so little. It's unfortunately flawed in its ability to recollect perfectly.
Harry: A SmartPhone is an extension of your brain.
Leo: If this were an extension of the brain, do you think it deserves that kind of protection?
Becky: Chris Vance, who spoke at the congressional hearings on behalf of all the state and local DAs said that hundreds of years of Jurisprudence have given us thew view that no vessel, no safe, no home is exempt from a warrant.
Leo: Except your brain.
Becky: Except your brain.
Leo: You know what they're not proposing? Because they don't have the technology. Let's go forward in time 20 years when the technology exists to read your mind and law enforcement says then there's stuff in there that says if we could read your mind, we'd know if you were guilty or not. If we could read OJ's mind, we wouldn't have to have a trial, we just find out. Then they say to whoever is the Apple of the 22nd century, can you get us in there?
Becky: Why is that any different from a polygraph?
Leo: Should they be allowed to do that? A polygraph isn't admissible in court to this day because it's imperfect. It's imperfect. Let's say you could do a perfect mind read. The Supreme Court of 2050. I'd say no. That's...
Jason: Self-incrimination, isn't it?
Leo: that's what the fifth amendment protects you against. I think that was a good point to make. If this is an extension of the brain, if the SmartPhone is an extension of the brain, should it have those protections? Should it be private?
Harry: Arguing against my own case pen and paper have always been extensions of the brain too. It's way harder to lock up pen and paper than it is to...
Leo: We're here because technology has given us a way to take the part of our brain and put it somewhere and have it be invisible.
Harry: Technology is almost but not quite there.
Leo: It isn't. That's another story here. The FBI, if they wanted to, probably could hack that 5C. Jonathon Zdarsky, there is probably no one more expert on IOS forensics is of the opinion, yeah, there's ways. If they really wanted to. They don't want to, they want to establish a precedent. Let's not talk about that 5C. That's not the important point. The important point is do we deserve... except for our brain, that we can keep to ourselves, including keep it away from law enforcement. Historically, law enforcement, with appropriate court authority has had access to everything but our brain. Is that right? Accurate?
Becky: And our spouses.
Jason: It's a really novel argument to suggest. I wonder if somebody will argue this at some point that this is part of the right to not self-incriminate and the Smartphone is an extension of your brain. I love that argument too, I'm not sure it would ever work, but I like the idea. My wife's iPhone broke yesterday, she drove somewhere today to pick up my son, and I'm out there and thinking I'm an adult, I can do this without a phone, but we have offloaded so much of this work to our phones, so I think that's an interesting argument. It seems unlikely to me that anybody is ever going to go for it.
Leo: We're not talking law here. That's why the law makes interesting provisions. If you're my girlfriend, you can incriminate me, but if you're my wife you can't. That's the law carving out where those lines are in self-incrimination. We're not talking about the law, we're talking about ethics, we're talking about principle.
Jason: The existence of a safe space. The very existence of what somebody called a "warrant-proof place" where there was a piece linked to from Dare and Fireball about this matter, and somebody said do we want to have a place that's warrant proof. That place exists already. It is in our minds. It's not a novel concept. Not everywhere is reachable, or should be reachable by law enforcement.
Harry: It's like Steve Jobs said. The computer is a bicycle for the mind. It's even more true of SmartPhones.
Leo: I think this is a much more interesting conversation that the nitty gritty of the decryption that we've been going through for the last few weeks. It's not obvious. You can, if you're a technologist... people yell at me for saying there's more to this than just yes, we should have encryption there's lots to talk about. People get mad at me for not just defending the right to encryption. I do think it's a larger discussion and when you eliminate it from this technical discussion, and say if there is somewhere besides your brain that should be private. That's a tougher question to answer.
Becky: Just to play devil's advocate on this though, it's much more than a receptacle. It's a transmission device. It's a knowledge center. I think it's much more complicated than that. If you said I have my personal harddrive, that is the extension of my memory and that is a separate being. There's a lot about separation in that that may play into that metaphor.
Jason: Our knowledge base in our brain if we say something it's admissible. That's our transmission device.
Leo: They can't force you to give up your password, but they can force you to give up a hair sample or a fingerprint to unlock your phone. I think you could make a pretty strong case that this is distinct from your brain. This is your phone. It's not your brain. The fact that you willingly put all your brain stuff in there doesn't somehow give it some special protection. You chose to do that. I would argue for purposes of law enforcement, the Smartphone should not be specially protected.
Becky: So then what I think evolved...
Leo: I think your brain should be protected, in this 2050 scenario, hypothetical, I would be horrified if they could read your mind and find out if you're guilty. We'll probably come to that day someday.
Becky: Can they compel you to take an X ray?
Leo: It's not deemed that your body can incriminate you. So giving a fingerprint or a DNA sample or an X ray is not considered by our courts self-incrimination. That's the testimony of your thumb, and that's admissible, oddly enough.
Jason: Fortunately encrypting things that the Government can't get to is not illegal at this point. The issue is the Government wants the manufacturers of systems that use encryption to have ways to get in so that it's not just between you and your device but there's a third party involved which is the manufacturer or the Government.
Leo: It's practically making it illegal to have encryption from a practical point of view.
Jason: I think what would happen if they made it illegal for Apple to make an encrypted iPhone that Apple couldn't break into at the behest of the Government would be that all the people that do have something that they're plotting like terrorists or criminals would switch to third party software that could be compiled using known encryption and would be encrypted in a way that Apple couldn't get at. They would just move the game somewhere else. It would be everybody else that is left with the third party broken encryption.
Becky: If encryption is criminal, then only criminals will have encryption.
Leo: It's what Tim Cook was saying in his interview with ABC. I'm not trying to protect the terrorists, bad guys will always have ways to do this effectively. I'm trying to protect the average person. Apple's job is to give these tools in the hands of normal people who aren't sophisticated technically.
Harry: It's pretty remarkable that the bad guys have not all switched to the most bullet-proof possible...
Leo: They're not too bright. That's why they're bad guys. Really.
Becky: They're not organized enough.
Leo: That's one of the things law enforcement always tells me. What if somebody has strong encryption and a password. Most of the time they just tell us their password. Crooks, for the most part what law enforcement deals with is not such bright crooks. If somebody is very sophisticated... unfortunately that tends to be terrorists, ISIS types, if they're that sophisticated, it's hard to deal. It took us how long to get Osama Bin Laden because he was smart enough to cut himself off from the Internet.
Becky: And because we made it public that they were tracking him with his satellite phone, so he went dark on satellite phones, which again has a parallel here. If we say Apple has backdoor key... if Apple has this key, that tells terrorists or organized criminals to go use different platforms. GPG.. I have a question. I thought it was really interesting this week, the conversation about that Apple does have the ability to provide single access to individual devices with keys that are individual to the devices themselves. Steve Gibson's whole thing about individual numbers generated by the phone.
Leo: His point was that if Apple made a revised firmware, it would be signed for that one phone and that one phone only. The signing that Apple does with Firmware entangles, that's the term Apple uses, their key, their special crypto-key with a unique identifier of the phone. That firmware is unique to that phone. His position was Apple could make a modified firmware that would only be usable on that 5C.
Becky: That's burned into the boot ROM, right? My question is: is that in the OS or in the hardware manufacturing of the phone?
Leo: It's in the secure enclave. It's hardware.
Becky: If the phone is made by Wawe or HTC that if we extend this beyond Apple, it's the hardware makers that have to do this.
Leo: In fact, it was Jonathon Zdarsky's point that one way to do this would be to physically copy the contents of the chip on the phone from one... I'm not sure exactly how he's proposing to do this.
Becky: To create a mirror of the hard drive?
Leo: He said...
Becky: Keep replicating it as you crack the...?
Leo: Yes. Exactly right. You can continue to try it... it wouldn't worry if it erased itself after ten tries because you have a copy of it. It's still encrypted. The other thing, let's point out your iCloud is not safe because Apple has the keys, period.
Jason: It's already a third party in the middle.
Leo: My point was, if they had just let the thing back up, we could have given you the information. I think that's going to be Apple's strongest defense in the end is the FBI screwed up. It seemed to be in the testimony in Congress. Congress was upset the FBI had screwed up. Congress seemed upset, "Well wait. You're putting this burden on Apple because you didn't do the right thing?" That lets Apple off the hook. It unfortunately also kicks the can down the road of this issue. Should there be encryption?
Harry: There is this whole fascinating question of the Government telling companies that have done nothing wrong here. You need to create the solution for us, whether that is legal.
Jason: If this became standard procedure, then every law enforcement group around the world would be going to Apple and asking for Apple engineers to write software to access Apple hardware. At what point... not to make a slippery slope argument, but how many employees does Apple need to pay to do the work of law enforcement in order to be in business selling phones?
Harry: What happens when China gets upset in something involving free speech?
Leo: Apple's right to say this is a bad idea from a purely business point of view..
Becky: Let's go back to my original premise that this is a moonshot. Susan Landa who testified before Congress said the biggest problem with asking Apple to create their own internal compliance to unlock the thousands of phones that are in the judicial backlog is that anyone who is involved in compliance--ADA compliance, tax compliance, they know that this becomes the smallest priority in the company's budgeting. It's something they have to do, it's no benefit to the company, it's just a compulsion, therefore you get low level employees. It's the easiest one for organized crime, state sponsored terrorists, or for corporate espionage to get in there and get that key.
Leo: What's the moonshot? Are they saying Government should get this?
Becky: Her point is this is a cat and mouse game and that the Government has not kept up with the ability to be able to decrypt these phones on their own. Their outsourcing of this ultimately is a deficiency in their own...
Leo: I think she's mistaken. What it sounds like she's saying is we should build some giant quantum computers so we can break encryption.
Jason: Or hire a bunch of hackers to build zero day exploits that no one knows about that.
Leo: We've done that. Snowden told us that. I think it's a foolish idea to think you can defeat the math, the math is strong on this one. It would be a mistake for the Government to say we'll just build faster computers because we just make longer keys. That's not a hard thing to beat. That's not the way to go after this.
Becky: Combine that with Jonathon Zdarsky's theory that you could then mirror the image.
Leo: You have to take advantage of flaws. The reason that mirror imaging works is that there is a flawed front door which is this four or six digit code. That's a bad passcode. That's all. If you had a strong passcode, it wouldn't matter. Encryption is encryption. The math is sound. That's what's really challenging for this, because I don't think the Government can do, unless it says it mandates an encryption. It has to do fundamentally what you just said, Jason which is making encryption illegal, and that's not going to work because encryption is a math.
Jason: That's like making math illegal, and you can't make math illegal.
Leo: You just make American encryption bad. How effective is that?
Becky: What I'm interested in, because it's become such an echo chamber in the tech community of saying encryption has to be legal, we have to continue this. I've been trying to listen this week to the different sides of it. One of them that I found interesting was General Keith Anderson. He was the former NSA director, he was on Bloomberg, and his point was A, look at the technical solution. We discussed that. He said the other option would be to look for a third party solution. I think it's a little out there, but I'm just posing it because I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Leo: They don't want to say the true thing, which is you need to make encryption illegal. The Government tried to do this before with very negative effects. When they said we cannot export strong encryption, as a result we used 40 bit keys. That was allowed to export. No browser company was going to make a separate browser for the US and the rest of the world. We had 40 bit keys in our browsers. To this day, it continues to bite us, because we still support this weak encryption technology in our browsers. We're still trying to get this stuff out of there because it's such an easy target. That was a perfect example of the unintended negative consequence. You just can't do it effectively. If the question is should encryption be illegal, there's no question.
Jason: I think you're on to something though. This idea of, almost like an arm's race. More than a moonshot. That seems to be where this has to go. Encryption will improve, people's counter encryption will improve. People will at some point be able to de-crypt things at a much higher rate, there are going to be security flaws that can be exploited. This may take 20 years for us to go through, as a society we may all finally have to admit that technology is going to create a brand new unreadable space. We're already there, but we'll have to come to grips with that. It's like the inside of your mind. True encryption... you cannot court order it open. There's no magic key to unlock...
Leo: I would submit in ten years the smartest intelligence agencies in the United States and law enforcement office in the United States know that. That's why they say don't worry about it, because we're going to have the Internet of things, we're going to have lots of ways to spy on you. Yes, there's going to be strong encryption. You can't stop that and you shouldn't stop that because it would weaken us as a country, it would weaken our safety. Don't worry, there's plenty of ways we can spy on you. There's always going to be zero days, and that's enough. I think the most sophisticated law enforcement people are saying that.
Becky: Harry, do you think it's this binary?
Harry: No. It's usually complicated. The other question is, if Apple is able to build a magic back door that only the Government can get into only under the proper circumstances and there was no way somebody could leverage that to get in, other than the Government under proper circumstances, would we then be OK with it? Apple's argument is if we do create some kind of back door, then the code will get out there, the bad guys can use it. It's dangerous.
Leo: A backdoor isn't going to work, you either unilaterally make encryption illegal, which we know is a bad idea, or you live with it. I think everyone is going to come around to live with it, because you have no choice. It's done.
Becky: Then encryption stays legal, you can't compel the companies...
Leo: Neither can you nor should you.
Becky: It doesn't matter if you can. As you said, it's a hardware issue, so let's say this is how you compel Apple to do it. Good luck compelling Wawe to do it. If you game this out, at the end of the day, that leaves the Federal Government with no way but to find their own way into this. That's where I think it is an arm's race and a moon shot, in terms of they have to build out that infrastructure.
Leo: Zero day exploits, finding new ways to spy on you. That's going to continue. Maybe that's the moonshot. I hate to think of that as a moonshot. That's such a negative moonshot. I don't want to see our Government invest millions of dollars into creeping through walls so they can read what you're typing.
Harry: They're used to being able to go to AT&T...
Leo: Encryption... you can make CALEA 3, as many as you want. The math wins in the end. It's done. That's the bottom line, what you'll have is a lot of vestigal we got to find a way to have a backdoor. It doesn't matter. The math won. It's too late. Don't you think?
Becky: There will be solutions that come through other channels, whether they're legislative, judicial...
Leo: They'll put cameras in every room... wait a minute. I did put a camera in every room.
Harry: Most of the data on your phone goes in and out over a network.
Leo: I keep waving my phone around. No one has commented on how beautiful my phone is.
Becky: Is it a mirror?
Leo: You know what's funny? It is a mirror finish. This is a Samsung Galaxy S 7. Go ahead and use it as a mirror. They've done something magical to keep it from being a mirror. Why would they do that?
Jason: They most have heard that people move their phone around and go "ah."
Leo: It's reflective, but doesn't reflect. I love this phone. Doesn't that look like a brick of solid gold? This is a wonderful phone. This is the always on feature, you always see the time. It only depletes the battery .8% an hour. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
Jason: Always on is a good feature.
Leo: Even an iPhone guy has got to look at that and say that's nice. You don't have to get gold. They have black.
Jason: I want that now.
Harry: I don't think Apple can do that because you need an OLED screen.
Leo: Guess who owns the screens? Samsung makes all the screens. The screen is mind boggling. Sounds like somebody says it has Samsung pay. Was I hallucinating?
Jason: It does. It makes it better than an iPhone.
Leo: Samsung pay means you can tap to pay at a swipe only register, of which there are still many.
Harry: Anything that works much of the time but not all the time is tricky, especially with payments if there are people standing in line behind you.
Becky: Have you guys noticed all of the chip readers that are underneath the traditional swipers now have tape over them? They say don't insert. Something like 17% of all merchants who have the technology aren't using the chip.
Leo: The chip takes so long? You don't swipe it. You leave it in there.
Jason: It could also be that they got the hardware but the service provider hasn't turned on the feature yet. I've been to places that have it now, and it's infuriating, because if you've traveled chip and pin is convenient. Why am I sticking my card in if I still have to sign a receipt?
Becky: I see placeswhen I started there I could do the chip, now they've got the tape over it. I think that adoption has just gone in the tanks.
Jason: If you're running a market and you've got a limited number of checkers and you know the chip thing slows you down by 30 seconds or a minute, you could do the calculation at Trader Joe's or something... the trade off is on fraud. They have to own the fraud if they do a swipe instead of a chip. You could totally make that calculation and say, "It's not worth it to have our lines be that long in the store. People aren't going to come in, they're not going to shop. We'll just eat the fraud and let people deal with it."
Leo: The irony is chip and sign is no more secure than swipe and sign. Even chip and pin...
Jason: It's better than anything involving signing a piece of paper with whatever.
Leo: It doesn't matter what you sign.
Becky: I have my kids do it.
Harry: The US is such a backwater when it comes to payment technology. It's pretty embarrassing.
Leo: It's often the case that the people who invented the technology are the farthest behind because they have legacy systems, they have infrastructure. They don't want to start over.
Becky: My great hope for the Apple Watch was that it would be great for payment.
Jason: I use it everywhere there is Apple pay. I love it. It's the best. It's only Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Not my local Safeway. That feels like the future is contact less pay, but it's still not there. Fortunately a lot of these devices that do chip do contact-less. Eventually they'll do all payment methods and we'll pay with our phones or our watch. We're not there yet.
Leo: Let's take a break. What a panel! What a bunch of brains we got here. The total IQ is probably 80,000. Becky Worley is here from GMA. Nice to have you, my old buddy. First producer of The original ScreenSavers and Tech TV.
Becky: Those were the days.
Leo: What is weird to me is how much older I look and how much younger you look.
Becky: We both look exactly the same.
Leo: Look at her! She hasn't aged a day! Jason Snell is also here from sixcolors.com. What are you doing?
Jason: I got IRC here for the chat room, I got Twitter...
Leo: You are not using... we talked about this on the new ScreenSavers when you were on a couple weeks ago. You are not using the iPad, the Apple case. You're just using a plain old Apple keyboard.
Leo: Sixcolors.com. And from Fast Company, my good friend Harry McCracken, the Technologizer, always great to have you. Follow Harry on Instagram.
Harry: The last time you told people to do that, I got dozens if not hundreds of new people.
Leo: You should because you take great pictures and you like to do the vintage thing. What is your Instagram handle?
Harry: It's Technologizer. I usually take some shots of your stuff when I'm here.
Leo: You should go in the basement.
Harry: I'd love to.
Leo: The funny thing is we're going to be moving in the summer, I think we're going to have to throw out a lot of stuff.
Becky: You just moved in here!
Leo: Feels like that. It'll be five plus years. They sold the place for a brewery. Where we're sitting right now will be a giant vat of hops.
Becky: Twitter is more excited about posting pictures of our drinks than re-tweeting our deep thoughts.
Harry: Do you know where you're moving yet?
Becky: I saw something on the Internet that said East Petaluma. It was very exciting.
Leo: It's Northeast. It's not far from here. Two miles. Nearby. It's going to be very much the same. It's going to be a different shaped box, so we have to muddle it around a little bit. What we don't have room for is the basement crap.
Harry: Have a yard sale.
Leo: Why don't you just take it? I'll give it to you. Do you have somewhere to put it?
Harry: If my wife is listening, she's saying no.
Becky: You should have a fundraiser. We could have a live auction.
Leo: Nobody wants a non-functioning Osborn computer.
Jason: People will travel here for a non-functioning Osborn Computer.
Leo: Some of it's functioning.
Jason: I gave away a B box when I left Mac User to go to MacWorld and I regret it to this day.
Harry: I occasionally buy things I got rid of twenty or thirty years ago.
Leo: How much for this Phizer Palm computer? How about this it comes with these modules. You would know that... anyway. Our show to you today brought to you by FreshBooks. We find it's easier to make money by doing advertising. Freshbooks.com. Actually this was the only way I could make money when I was a freelancer. You have to send out the invoices to get paid. I learned that lesson. I hate doing invoices, firing up word and Excel and getting receipts together. I would put it off and six months later I would go I haven't received a check. That's cause you haven't sent an invoice, Leo. Then you send them six invoices and they were not happy about that. Fortunately, Amber McArthur, I was whining about this on the set, and Amber said why don't you try FreshBooks? It had just started in Toronto. Early 2000's. It was so great. All of a sudden, I'm making my invoices online, I'm emailing them out, they can pay faster because on every invoice there's a pay me button and they can use any online service to pay you. It's so much easier... come tax time it's basically cloud accounting software. You'll be so happy next tax time because all your cash flow is in one place. Who paid you, who didn't pay you. By the way, they automatically ding them and say you haven't paid in a nice way, but they'll get you paid. You'll know exactly where your income stands. You can take pictures of your receipts. Not only for expense purposes, but if you declare them as deductions, makes it a breeze at tax time. The Freshbooks app will do that. You can even set up FreshBooks to import expenses directly from your bank account. The best part about FreshBooks is that "ah" feeling you get when tax time comes around and you got it. You'll be ready, because you're going to sign up right now at Freshbooks.com/TWiT and try it for 30 days. See if it works for you! That's all. Just make sure you mention This Week in Tech when they say how did you hear about us? Freshbooks.com/twit. We thank them so much for their support. What is that? A Mr. Peanut made of soda cans?
Harry: It's Foodcans. There's this event called canstruction which I think happens all around the world and people like achitects...
Leo: They build stuff out of cans.
Harry: And builders build things out of donated food cans, and when they're done showing them off, they give all the food to charity.
Leo: Or they could send me the cans and I'll put it in the basement. Harry's got pictures of them on the Technologizer blog. Look at that. Prints made out of Campbell's soup.
Harry: Prince, Aretha Franklin.
Leo: People are creative. There's a giant duck.
Harry: Giant duck, Rosie the Riveter. It was really hard to do with cans. It's cool because you're basically dealing with pixels but they're these really large, giant brown pixels. You probably wouldn't be able to tell it's Rosie the Riveter because in order to do her face in detail, her face would have to be yea big.
Becky: Harry, you see the world through a different view.
Leo: through canned colored glasses. What camera are you using? This shot is beautiful. You're not using a camera phone.
Harry: I did some of those with a phone you mentioned about ten minutes ago.
Leo: Are you on MDA on this phone? You can't even say, can you? Something weird happened with this galaxy S 7. I bought it from T Mobile. I didn't get it from PR. There are journalists, maybe somebody in this room who have this but can't talk about it because they're still embargoed.
Harry: If I had one I don't think I would be allowed to express opinions about it. Most likely.
Leo: T Mobile said this to me Monday because I bought it! I don't think that usually happens. That's unusual.
Jason: That would happen sometimes at MacWorld where we would be waiting for things from Apple and we would buy them and it was easier to get them by buying them.
Leo: When would... how can I phrase this?
Jason: March 11.
Leo: March 11. That's when...
Harry: Did they send it to you because you're you?
Leo: No. I went online the day the pre-orders began, I sent 700 some bucks, and I was shocked when T Mobile sent me an email saying your phone is going to arrive Monday. No, it wasn't because of me. It's because I'm a customer. I get a free VR viser and a year worth of Netflix too, so there.
Becky: You know what? I would just like to say that Rubio and Trump ain't got nothing on you because when I see these big phones, all I can think is baby hands. All I see...
Leo: Does this phone make my hand look small? That is an interesting question. I got to say. There's absolutely no problem. It's yuge. What's funny, it's five and a half inches, but because there's no bezel on it, it feels smaller than the iPhone 6S.
Becky: I have to say the wrap around edges are pretty cool.
Leo: The negative is you keep your fingers around the edges. There's so little bezel and so little side that you have to hold it like you have tiny hands.
Becky: Is it touch sensitive on the side?
Leo: Yeah. This is the screen. The Screen wraps around. Unfortunately, because it's so fast, they launch fast. It feels like not only is the phone slippery but the user interface is slippery. Things happen that you didn't really plan. On the other hand, it's so beautiful. You could get the S7 without the Edge, but I just like it.
Jason: I was here 8 days ago for ScreenSavers and you said, "You know what? I might get the Galaxy S 7." Everybody laughed in the studio because they already figured it out because it's new. You did. Here it is, it's amazing. Just like that.
Leo: Two weeks from now there will probably be a new iPhone and I'll probably get that too. What do you hear?
Jason: The rumor is that it's going to be the Special Edition that's basically an update of the size we were familiar with from the iPhone 5 line. It's a small phone, and you know what? There are people out there who want a small phone.
Leo: Because it makes your hands look big.
Jason: Or they have small hands and it makes their hands look normal sized.
Leo: The thing... there's so many important things to talk about!
Becky: I think phones have gotten too thin and too big. Maybe I have baby hands, but I'm constantly...
Jason: One's a little thicker than the last model.
Becky: I find that the iPhone six I have is easier to handle with a case on because it's...
Jason: My iPhone six is the first iPhone that I ever used with a case. I was a no case kind of person, and it's too slippery. It's like a polished pebble. I would like phones that are more grippy. I would trade a little bit of weight and thickness for more battery life too. But this is... I think a variety is a good thing. That's the nice thing about Apple's rumor about this iPhone S E. Small phones are old phones. With this one, you can get a good modern iPhone with touch ID and iPhone 6 internal... in a smaller size if you want it. That's great.
Leo: What's funny is by all accounts the next iPhone 7 will be even thinner than the current iPhone. They are continuing this bizarre process of making it thinner still. This one is going to be controversial. He wants to say every year this is the thinnest phone we've ever made. He wants to say that. In order to do that though, he's going to have to remove the ear plug jack.
Jason: that's the thing is that's not accurate. The reality is there are lots of incredible thin devices, including Apple's own iPod touch that are much thinner than a current iPhone and still has a standard headphone jack. They may use that as an excuse, but if they get rid of the headphone jack, it's not because...
Leo: Sophisticated users will probably say that's fine because I don't know what. I'll figure out a thing to do with a lightning port, but I think most users are going to go, "You got rid of the what?"
Jason: I think there's a huge percentage of iPhone users that just use the standard earbuds that come in the box.
Leo: Of course!
Jason: For anybody who has third party headphones like all the Beats users, speaking of a company Apple spent a lot of money to by that makes custom headphones, it's going to be frustrating if they go down that path, but saying that it's the quest for thinness...
Leo: What's the quest for? Weirdness?
Harry: The quest is fore charging us 30 dollars for a tiny adapter.
Becky: I want the quest for shatter proof.
Jason: Yeah. Waterproof is coming and drop proof is the next real thing that I want in my phone.
Harry: Besides the thinness thing, I think Johnny Ives has a thing for eliminating ports such as with the new MacBook.
Jason: He and Steve Jobs were really sympatico on that. Steve never met a button he didn't want removed for a product and the apotheosis of that was that iPod shuffle that had no buttons at all, which was unusable because you had to have a headphone plugged in and use the clicker on the headphone cord, the next version of that they went back to the previous design which was one of the only times you've ever seen Apple back off of a product design entirely and abandon it and it was because philosophically Johnny Ives is like get rid of all the ports get rid of all the buttons, make it a block of aluminum. That's the ultimate Apple product is an incredibly thin block of aluminum and glass.
Harry: And it will all be wireless, including the power.
Leo: That'll happen. This is wireless charging, the S7. I just put it on a thing and it charges. In fact it has high speed wireless charging.
Harry: I do feel like with the new MacBook it's not inconceivable that we'll do one with a couple of ports. Even a year later, that does seem to be an obstacle for a lot of people.
Jason: The original MacBook Air had one USB port and when they did the re-design of that a couple years later, they had two. It was a much better product.
Leo: Apple is not what you might... You might think Apple doesn't admit mistakes, but Apple admits its mistakes.
Jason: It comes with trying to push things forward a little bit that Apple will push things a little too far too fast, and the second round of a product will be way more usable. MacBook Air is the best example of that. First MacBook air was ridiculous, but the second generation was great. The first one was a 13. The one with the door you had to open to get to you USB port.
Leo: I like the MacBook. I would like to see a new MacBook. I bought this dongle for the MacBook that solves that port problem a little bit. It plugs into the C port. It matches the look and feel of the Macbook. It gives you an SD card, a micro SD card, two USB 3 ports, and another charging port so you can have it as a pass through and still charge.
Becky: Murphy's law of dongles. When you need... You didn't realize you needed it until you were up the creek one day and you thought Oh my god, I need... for me it's Ethernet.
Leo: That's why I carry a murse now.
Becky: That is a murse of all murses.
Leo: Everything in it. I even have an ethernet cord in this murse.
Jason: That's going to be the story if Apple does remove the headphone jack from their phone. It's not going to be about the people. Yeah, it's earbuds, I'm fine. One day they're going to be at a party somewhere and somebody is going to be like, "Oh, you brought the music right?" Plug it in here and they're going to go oh no, and that'll be the end of it.
Leo: You posted, it's a new month, and that means Douglas is at it again with his drone. I don't know why Apple lets him do this...
Becky: What are they going to do? Shoot it down?
Leo: It's over their space. That's an interesting question. How high does he have to fly to be in public airspace? What's the rule on that?
Becky: Is this for commercial uses? They could go after him for that. They could petition the FAA.
Leo: He posts on YouTube every month. This is the march 2016 Apple campus. He's gotten better and better in the production values. HQ March 2016. If you've been watching these videos he puts out, they're beautiful. You've been really watching the progress in the SpaceShip campus, it's coming along quite far. It's been a year off, right? Tim Cook was talking about how excited he is to move into it and for the first time, 12,000 employees will be in the same building. They're all spread out among many buildings.
Jason: All of Cupertino is its Apple employees. They've spilled out everywhere. It's too big a company.
Leo: One of the really interesting things. Do they name this the Steve Jobs campus?
Jason: There's a Steve Jobs building at Pixar and I think that Tim Cook interview that I saw was a suggestion that they're working with the family on it. They had a big dedication for the Steve Jobs building at Pixar and I imagine the same thing will happen at their campus.
Leo: This is about as poorly kept a secret as Payton Manning retiring.
Harry: What's the address going to be? Infinite Loop in a move?
Leo: They can't rename one infinite loop. Unless they sell it.
Harry: My understanding is they need so many people that they're going to keep the existing campus, the new campus, and there's talk they may try to build something else in San Jose I think. A lot of these places in Cupertino where they have offices, it's a floor here and a couple floors over there and they're not as collaborative work spaces because there's no room.
Leo: These underground tunnels are worthy of Doctor No. This is scary stuff. The parking is underground, much of it.
Becky: Did you say 12,000 employees? 12,000 employees and 10,900 parking spaces.
Leo: Some of them will car pool.
Becky: That's more manageable. At Yahoo every year, the parking spaces got painted smaller and smaller. When Marissa said you couldn't work from home anymore, I had to stop going because I couldn't get out of my car! I don't have a handicap placard.
Jason: For people who don't know about Silicon Valley, it's essentially the suburbs. They built all of this off of infrastructure in the suburbs. There's no public transportation. It's a terrible place to have a big company, because everybody has to commute by car, there's no other way to do it.
Harry: Or those freaking shuttle buses.
Jason: Or the buses that everybody hates.
Leo: Riding them is quite nice.
Becky: Wifi enabled. You get there, you go the gym.
Leo: Maybe they'll have a massage therapist in the bus.
Becky: Anything is plausible at this point. There was a hundred thousand square foot fitness center being constructed at this new Apple campus.
Leo: Thank you Duncan Sinfield for the beautiful video of the Apple campus. He's got to be shooting these on reds now. He's upgraded the production value and the beautiful drone.
Becky: It's not in here, but DGI4 this week, with auto sensing, so the drones now can have collision avoidance. They do the whole virtual cable, so basically you can program a route for the drone to go from one point to the next.
Leo: Can it follow me? That's what I want. If somebody has made one to follow you, you have a device on your wrist.
Becky: You can run it off your Pebble, you can run it off your phone. Chris Anderson who used to be at Wired, who is now at 3D robotics, he gave me a full demo of that. It's pretty incredible and seeing that virtual cable in the sky is amazing.
Leo: What's the virtual cable?
Becky: You pick a point on a Google Map in a Satellite map that's in their app, you pick point A, point B and it goes back and forth. It's not on this if you're looking right here at this little audo slider here, it's just constantly on a cable going back and forth. The big thing here, in Phantom 4 is that they have collision avoidance. This is one of the huge elements for the FAA as they think about the future of drones.
Leo: It wouldn't just be other drones, it would be other aircrafts.
Becky: more importantly: buildings, people.
Jason: I was at Moffett field the other week, and they did a demo of their next generation air traffic control for drones basically. Their vision is that you will be able to follow a drone flight plan basically by web form or web service. You can say I want to go here, here's where I want to go and it will provide you a route and send it to you drone and say here's your route this is your airspace it's about a hundred yards wide it lasts for this amount of time and it compiles all the drone flight plans and makes sure that they don't interact and if it can't get you from point a to point b it'll take it back and say how about a different time, how about a different route? It's pretty amazing, but it makes sense. This is all technology we've got, we should be able to do this.
Leo: This really is the ultimate selfie though, to have a drone as you do things follow you around making sure that not a single shot is missed of anything in your most important life.
Becky: Have you seen the Lily drone promo? The Lily drone, it’s kind of vaporware right now. Let me rephrase that. It was a Kickstarter that they put an amazing video out for. Basically it’s this little orb and this guy throws it off of a bridge and it launches into a full-fledged drone and it follows you around.
Becky: It was incredible. I called them. I said, “Hey this is amazing. We want to do this on Good Morning America.”
Leo: Well, we don’t actually have one that works.
Becky: They didn’t respond. So that was about six months ago.
Leo: That was a 3D rendering.
Becky: But watch this. Throw and go. Boom. And then the guy takes off on his snowboard and the drone is following behind him about, what do you think that is? 20, 30 yards? And getting all of his motion. So he’s not carrying a stick. He doesn’t have a helmet cam.
Leo: In this one he was wearing a wristband I think.
Becky: Yea, it’s its own proprietary thing.
Leo: And then it comes to you after you’re done?
Becky: Hmm mmm.
Jason: That’s falconry.
Becky: Now we haven’t seen this. I haven’t seen this, let me rephrase that.
Leo: No, this looks like real video on their website. I guess it could be CGI.
Becky: I think it’s probably real. I just don’t know if they’ve come up with the production elements. But I think that 3D robotics has shown—
Leo: What is wrong with us? Are we the most self-centered society in the history of mankind? That we spend all this energy to develop cameras to follow us around. Hi, oh it’s nice of you to join us (laughing).
Jason: We only have 6 cameras on his right here.
Becky: What, are we going to create our own network?
Leo: This is my job, damn it.
Becky: Are we going to create our own network that follows all of our interests and movements?
Leo: I admit, I don’t probably have the standing to complain but it does seem like this is a little self-centered.
Becky: From a cinematography standpoint—
Leo: It’s gorgeous.
Becky: And sports and you know I go back to the GoPro philosophy which does, you know, Nick Woodman’s whole philosophy is he wants every athlete to feel like a professional.
Leo: Right. Even if they’re not. It was your colleague David Pogue who pointed out that one of the reasons we love drones is we’re never, we’re like ants on the surface of a map. We never see anything but our own 2D perspective. And it’s so, and I have to agree with him, when you see the first time what it looks like from above, it’s a unique perspective and it’s pretty exciting. I think that’s probably the appeal of this.
Becky: Harry, what’s going to happen with drones?
Harry: I mean it’s amazing how much has happened. I’m trying to think when Parrot came out with their first consumer drone.
Leo: Do you remember seeing that at CES for the first time?
Harry: 5 years ago maybe.
Leo: And you’d use an iPhone to steer it. It was hard to do.
Harry: I do feel in terms of whether people are just doing it to please themselves, it’s self-correcting. But the only person that wants to watch your drone video is you. That’s really sad. But a lot of this stuff is really cool.
Harry: And as long as at least one other person thinks the video you shot is cool, then it’s not being self-absorbed.
Leo: That’s right. You have to do something interesting or there’s no point of it.
Harry: Eventually it will become kind of trite because everybody will have these eventually.
Leo: You know, I think some of the excitement of seeing the world from above will wear off.
Harry: There’s a huge amount of novelty now.
Harry: It’s sort of like, I guess maybe the 80s when people first started to have camcorders and any sort of—I actually remember I had a friend that went to Taiwan and took a video camera that involved a VCR on a shoulder strap. And he walked around and just shot what he saw. And it was totally mind bending at the time. It’s completely mundane now. And drones will eventually be like that.
Becky: My version of that story is I had a friend in the 80s and 90s. He was a helicopter piolet on Maui. And he was shooting all the big wave surfing. A big trough came that took the ground out from underneath his rotor wash and therefore his helicopter dropped and the wave came right over him. So now, flash forward to today, it’s been the biggest big wave surfing season in history at Peahi, at jaws. There are drones everywhere there shooting the most amazing footage, practically from inside the tube following the surfer as he goes through. It’s a completely different view of one of the most amazing things.
Leo: Is there a hazard with all these drones?
Becky: Ask, what was it, Enrique Iglesias. Isn’t he the one who got the—
Leo: His finger got cut?
Becky: He had one right up in front of him. He was performing to it.
Leo: And he stuck his finger in it?
Becky: And there was a—
Leo: Don’t ever do that.
Becky: But see, that’s where the contact avoidance is so important because—
Leo: He probably should have backed away.
Becky: If that’s its last mode of self-defense than you can see where that becomes an issue.
Leo: Right. Because I’m wondering, there was such panic over drones a few months ago and I was wondering has it gone away or not? And then I realized, I’ve just seen at least 2 articles about near misses with commercial air traffic. In Charles de Gaulle, Air France, very close miss. And according to The Guardian, there have been 4 near miss incidents at U.K. airports including a passenger jet taking off from London’s Stansted.
Jason: Don’t forget all the fires where people bring their drones to take pictures of like wildfires and the air attack people are trying to put out the fires and the drones are in the way.
Leo: And they had to back off the air attack, the air attack people. A 777 taking off from Heathrow saw an 18” drone passing less than a wingspan away from the place. That is an absolute near miss. And you might say, “An 18” drone? What can that do to a triple 7?” It could bring it down.
Harry: A pigeon can bring down a plane, so.
Leo: So these are, I guess it is something still to be worried about.
Becky: 200 people killed since 1988 because of airborne collisions with birds.
Leo: So there you go. Imagine—well, there’s a lot of birds.
Becky: I’m reading this. I don’t know that off hand.
Harry: There’s a lot of birds.
Becky: In case you guys were worried I was really up on bird collision stats.
Leo: I was impressed. All right, let’s take a break. I want to ask you about Yahoo because you’re not there anymore. What’s going on over there? Becky Worley is here, formally with Yahoo News. David’s still there, right? Pogue?
Becky: Yea. He transferred over to news out of the tech vertical.
Leo: Well they killed a lot of the verticals. Let’s talk about that. Also Jason Snell from—it’s nice to be independent, isn’t it?
Jason: Although I was doing some freelance work for Yahoo too that I’m not anymore. I was writing space columns for them which I thought was a real kick to write about space.
Leo: Space is awesome.
Jason: Yea, it is.
Leo: And there’s lots of it.
Jason: There’s a whole lot of it. It’s a growth location.
Leo: (Laughing) also from The Technologizer, Harry McCracken. Our show today brought to you by Wealthfront. I think you know that you should be saving money for the rainy day ahead, whether it’s your retirement, the kids going to college. Maybe you want to get a down payment on a house. Long term savings are very important. But the question is, where do you put that money? I was just looking at savings account interest rates. I can’t believe how low they are now. Much less than 1% a year. Often maybe a quarter or a half percent a year. The reason I was interested in this, I got my check from my bank from my savings interest. 3 cents. And I thought, “You know? I actually might have lost money by putting it in a savings account.” You might as well put it under a mattress. Well, Wealthfront has a better way for you to invest. Now, many people try to invest for themselves. The problem with that is, you don’t have the time to keep an eye on this 24/7. You don’t have time probably to check it every quarter. So you’re going to hire somebody? Well, wait a minute. Investment advisors charge 1, 2, sometimes 3% of the money under management every year. That means you have to make 3% more to break even. That’s tough. Wealthfront’s a great idea because you are not using humans, you’re using software. And you’re paying one quarter of one percent a year with no commissions, no hidden fees. Very affordable and by the way, in my opinion, it does a better job than any human can do. First of all, Wealthfront’s put together an advisor board of some of the best investment people in the world. 200 years of investment experience, Nobel Prize winning academic research, best practices. People like Charles D. Ellis, Burton Malkiel, who really, literally wrote the books, the books that I read when I thought I could do this myself. Well, what if you took their minds, their brains, their knowledge and put it into software that monitor your investment 24/7. To make trades on—I’m not talking about, this is not day trading. This is not flash trading. But, they are constantly monitoring your portfolio. They’re constantly rebalancing, doing things like tax law harvesting to increase your return while minimizing your taxes. It’s all built in. Really, most portfolios, they estimate about 90% of all portfolios are not properly invested for long-term. If you have long-term savings, if you don’t you ought to. And if you have them, you’ve got to check out Wealthfront. You can start with as little as $500 bucks. And this is a nice little treat, for your first $15,000 dollars of your investment at Wealthfront, no fee at all not even one quarter of one percent forever. But you have to use Wealthfront.com/twit. So here’s the deal. I don’t want you to invest without reading about it. Go to the website Wealthfront.com/twit. Read up. Reassure yourself as I have. This is a really great service that really makes sense. You can even get a free portfolio generated for you so you can see what they would invest in based on your timeframe, your risk tolerance, things like that. That’s yours free. Read up and find out and then you can start with as little as $500 bucks. I strongly suggest you find out about it. Wealthfront.com/twit. Becky Worley’s here. Jason Snell. The Technologizer, Harry McCracken. We’re talking about the week’s tech news. So Becky, I’ve known you for years. You were a very close friend at Tech TV for years, producing our shows and working with me, eventually hosting with me.
Becky: I was 12 then.
Leo: She was a very young woman. And then you’ve gone on to better and bigger things including Good Morning, America. But you also worked at Yahoo. How long did you work at Yahoo?
Becky: I’ve been at Yahoo 3 times. So this is the—
Leo: Wait, let’s get the microphone in front of you.
Becky: Oh, yes. This is the great profile of Yahoo. When I first went to Yahoo, I did a—
Leo: Was that right after Tech TV?
Becky: Yes. And it was when Terry Semel was the CEO.
Leo: Terry Semel, yea. Hollywood guy.
Becky: And he hired his bff who had just finished producing Friends.
Becky: So we made a pilot.
Leo: Oh, dear.
Becky: And it cost $72,000 dollars to produce and it was 14 minutes long.
Leo: Oh, my God.
Becky: It was a one segment web video. So that was then.
Becky: Then we—
Leo: When was it? Can we find it?
Becky: Oh, God. Now-
Leo: Do you remember the name of it?
Becky: Now House? Now house. Wow House? It was horrible. It was so painful. I hope it doesn’t live. Please let the internet—
Leo: It was unfortunately before YouTube so probably you’re safe.
Becky: I have the right to be forgotten on that one. Then I will move on to the next stage, which was Yahoo Tech. Pat Houston and Ned Cardwell, Steve Vanders, Robin Raspskin, I’m forgetting a bunch of great people. Gina Hughes, Chris Knoll. That was great. That was their first real tech vertical.
Leo: Wait a minute. Wow House was a reality program.
Becky: Oh, it was reality.
Leo: Putting 2 families in a competition to see which could do the most successful tech upgrade for 10 grand.
Becky: Wow House.
Leo: Wow House.
Becky: Yea. 70 something thousand. It was, oh it was painful.
Leo: Then they renamed it to Hook Me Up (laughing).
Becky: So much better. So much better. Please let me crawl under the table now. So then Yahoo Tech, that whole vertical died. And now they came back with the new one, which—and I had a show. Actually this might be—that was my 4th. I had a show called Upgrade Your Life which was so much fun and it was kind of a life hacker, Martha Stewart meets technology. A little bit of everything and that I really am proud of and love and still so many of the things are evergreen and I had a great production team. Then—
Leo: What year are we now (laughing)?
Becky: I know. Yahoo. Then David Pogue came in and they did the whole tech vertical with The New York Times, Megan Liberman who’s from The New York Times who came over and they did that all that out of New York.
Leo: Right, Rafe Needleman went over there.
Becky: Rafe, a bunch of great, great people. And now they’ve just shelved that one.
Leo: Almost all the verticals got shelved, right?
Leo: What folded into—
Becky: News or, yea.
Leo: That’s kind of sad. I mean they really put a lot of money and effort and I thought—here’s the problem. Yahoo’s trying to do what so many have tried and failed to do before, which is make tech accessible and interesting to normal people. And it turns out, nobody’s that interested.
Becky: It’s not a subcategory in so many ways.
Leo: That’s the irony of it. Nobody was interested before because it was just geeks, and then suddenly it was so much a part of your life that it isn’t separate. It’s just your life.
Becky: Well that’s why I’m as much a consumer reporter as I am a tech reporter when it comes to mainstream media. They’re the same thing in the eyes of those folks. Yahoo, this was a few weeks ago, but I still find this fascinating. Time considering buying Yahoo. The Reverse Morris Trust, which means that it’s when a smaller company tries to buy a bigger company and—
Leo: Wait a minute. Time, Time Life, Warner, AOL, Time?
Jason: No, Time Inc.
Leo: You used to work for them.
Harry: Time Inc. which was spun off from Time Warner.
Leo: So Time Inc. is a small, little—
Harry: It’s fairly small. It’s principally engaged in the publishing of print magazines. It has a lot of online stuff going on but it would certainly like to have more of it.
Becky: 23 thousand videos they made last year according to Joe Ripp who is the CEO. They have a billion dollars in subscriptions. But they have not products and services. So they’re like, “Hey, let’s get Yahoo.” Digital eyeballs. Products and services.
Leo: And what is Yahoo, if I wanted to buy Yahoo now, what would it cost me?
Becky: They just got an offer last week from a Japanese company that raised its price target on Yahoo to $32 dollars a share, up from $29. I’m sorry I don’t know the market cap offhand.
Harry: I mean it’s been a little unclear because they have this investment in Alibaba which is—
Leo: Didn’t they spin that off? I thought they spun that off.
Harry: Not yet. There are times when—
Leo: So the market cap is exactly $32 billion.
Harry: There are times where if you do the math, the rest of Yahoo isn’t worth anything because the market cap was the same as the investment in Alibaba.
Leo: So what you do is you spin off Alibaba, get your money back and now you’ve got free content.
Harry: Rather than spinning off Alibaba, they’re planning to spin off Yahoo.
Leo: (Laughing) oh, I get it.
Becky: Yea, so the reverse, that’s the reverse.
Leo: That’s the reverse Morris?
Becky: And it has a major tax benefit because they don’t have to pay taxes on the asset of what they’re selling to a smaller company.
Leo: Right. And in fact, wasn’t that what happened was that the board had been assured by, they thought by the IRS that there would be no tax consequence for spinning off Alibaba? And then the IRS backtracked and said, “Well, we can’t promise you that.” The board said, “Uh oh. You know, we can sell it but we might be, you know, might use half the profits in taxes.”
Harry: They spent a year working on the spin out and then they didn’t have to do it. And now they’re saying either they’ll spin off the rest of Yahoo or they might sell it to one buyer such as Time or Verizon. Or they might break it up. Or they might just not do anything.
Leo: Did any of these changes involve Marissa Mayer or is she kind of—
Becky: She would not go to Time.
Leo: Right. That would make no sense. What would happen? So, ok. Would she—there’s nothing for her to run.
Becky: She would run the outcropping of the Alibaba that’s left over and they wouldn’t have to pay her parachute.
Leo: They would not.
Leo: Because firing her would cost them $100 and some million dollars.
Jason: She’d be like one of those workers that you remember reading about and the window workers, right? They just come in, sit in the window. They look out mournfully and then they go home at the end of the day.
Leo: They have that at the roof at Hoolie. They have nothing to do. I think I did that for Ziff-Davis for about 6 months. Gina Smith and I in principle worked for Ziff-Davis, but we had no portfolio. We got paid well. It was I think almost $100,000 a year not to do anything.
Becky: Oh, wow, fabulous. Sorry. I mean really sad.
Jason: Soul crushing, but.
Leo: That’s when I started all this other stuff. And then MGM said, “Oh, we want to partner with Ziff-Davis to do television.” And Ziff-Davis had been apparently very interested in television. So they sent me and Gina down to MGM. But they pulled me aside and said, “We’re not going to do anything, so just go down there and pretend you’re working.” (Laughing) So I got a card key to the MGM backlot and got offices. I don’t think I ever went back to that office. I think I went there once.
Becky: I want to talk about the Google Autonomous Car accident.
Leo: Ok, well we’re going to get to that. I want to finish Yahoo.
Jason: This is a true professional. She has decided she is going to host the show.
Leo: She is a better host than I and if we could just hire her, I would retire.
Becky: (Laughing) it’s only because it’s such a black hole we can go down into.
Leo: I love this. We are going to do this. That’s absolute.
Becky: I can’t let this show degrade into the—
Leo: Yahoo has.
Leo: What is Cara going to do? Forget Marissa Mayer. What is Cara going to do? There’s nothing to write about. So, what do you think’s going to happen? I mean, by the way, nobody in the real world probably cares about this. We only care because Yahoo was Yahoo. It was akebono.stanford.edu. It was Gary and David. It was one of the very first internet companies.
Harry: I think we care because of the actual end game.
Leo: Sounds like it is.
Harry: When Marissa came on there was a lot of excitement and it seemed like the one Hail Mary that might pan out and it has not panned out.
Leo: Has she been—you can be candid. Has she been a failure?
Becky: All I know is since she’s been there she gave birth to 3 kids so I have so much respect for the woman, including twins.
Leo: Let’s be clear. One set was twins. Not 3 in a row.
Becky: I have so much respect. I mean that was just, I know that’s totally a sidebar but as a woman I shouldn’t make it about that but I just have, I have personally, she did an earnings call 2 days before she has the C-section for her twins.
Leo: I know.
Becky: I’m just so blown away.
Leo: She’s one of those people that schedules the birth I think.
Becky: You don’t have a choice when you have twins. They’re like, “They’re coming out.”
Leo: I guess that’s it. You have twins. You know.
Becky: Yes. Yes, I do.
Leo: (Laughing) you have a real reason to respect that. No, I tell you what. I think Marissa Mayer is brilliant. I think she might not have been the right person for the job. But that was a job that very, I don’t know if anybody could have done that.
Becky: I think given the trajectory Yahoo has been on since the Terry Semel days perhaps the mark of her tenure would be the price the shareholders walk away with.
Leo: That’s going to be the final deciding.
Becky: And I feel bad breaking it down to such a sort of pecuniary element.
Leo: No. When you’re the CEO of a company, that’s your job. Shareholder value.
Becky: And there’s so many people there. I have so many—
Leo: That’s what’s sad.
Becky: Yea. But the good news is every breakup is a diaspora. And so—
Leo: Right. That’s what happened at Tech TV. We all went on and did our things.
Becky: It’s a networking opportunity for all those people to find new people. So I mean I hope the best. I hope the best for the shareholder value. I am sad to see one go down but they just chose the wrong path.
Leo: What happens to people working there right now? How do they feel? Are they kind of dejected? I mean, David Pogue left The New York Times to go to Yahoo. He left a very good job.
Becky: I can’t speak to him. I don’t know his story because The New York media folks who went with Megan Liberman who came from The New York Times. That’s a different animal. But the people in Sunnyvale are so battle hardened.
Leo: I bet.
Becky: You’ve never seen anybody who can handle a re-org better than those folks.
Leo: Oh, here it comes again.
Becky: Yea, pretty much.
Leo: Ok. Oh, should I bring lunch today? Yea.
Becky: Yea. Are snacks out or what?
Leo: Do we get snacks (laughing)? That’s how I knew it was over at Tech TV.
Becky: No snacks.
Leo: No snacks. The first (laughing), first they came for the makeup artists. But I did not protest. Then they came for the wardrobe artists. I said nothing. Then they came for the floor managers, the stage directors and I—
Becky: You should have.
Leo: But when they came for the oatmeal, that’s when I knew.
Harry: And Yahoo did not have free food until Marissa got there. That was one of her big initiatives.
Leo: You’re kidding.
Harry: It’s very hard to hire good engineers if you expect them to pay for their own snacks.
Leo: Have you seen the snack company here?
Becky: They’re amazing. They have good Indian food at Yahoo. I’m sorry.
Leo: We have, ok, we have Indian food, but you have to heat it up yourself. It’s like you add water and—we actually do have Indian food in the back there. I don’t know why.
Becky: We are digressing.
Leo: Ok, we’re going to talk about the Google self-driving car. But first, because it crashed. The first time ever a self-driving car crashed. And you know what? It’s good news.
Leo: It’s good news.
Becky: It’s learning. They’re learning.
Leo: It’s a good thing. But first, if you missed anything—speaking of crashes—during the week on TWiT, we’ve made a little story play. A little play for you out of what happened this week on TWiT. Watch.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT.
Jason Howell: We’re doing a show. I don’t know if you knew that. It looks like you’re wearing a Vive.
Sam Machkovech: I’m technically in a way cooler place than you guys could possibly imagine.
Narrator: TWiT Live Specials.
Jason Howell: My name is Jason Howell and I am at The Launch Festival. This is just a really cool opportunity for companies, startups to come in and kind of show what they’ve got. Is that your goal here is to shut down coffee shops everywhere?
Male 1: No, that definitely is not our goal. We’re just trying to create an out share premium coffee experience you know by utilizing robotic automation technology.
Narrator: The New Screen Savers.
Leo: Palmer Lucky, he’s the founder of Oculus. He was asked, “When are you going to make this for Apple?”
Father Robert Ballecer: And he said, “Well as soon as Apple makes a good computer.”
Leo: Oh! Burn! He’s saying Apple used to pay a lot of attention to GPUs. They don’t anymore.
Father Robert: That’s such a low percentage of their profit every year.
Leo: If you’re a gamer, you don’t buy a Mac.
Father Robert: You don’t buy a Mac.
Narrator: Tech News Today.
Megan Morrone: Three companies are offering their employees an Apple Watch at the low, low price of $25 dollars. But if the employee doesn’t meet regular fitness goals, they will have to pay full price for the Apple Watch. I have two low graders and they put on my watch and all my calories that I need to burn for a day happen in 15 minutes.
Narrator: TWiT. It’s free when you watch from work.
Mary Jo Foley: If you’re coming to Build, try to stick around Friday afternoon and evening.
Leo: Now will I need a badge to get in?
Mary Jo: We’ll take care of that.
Paul Thurrott: Yea, don’t worry.
Leo: Ok. Will I need to wear clothes?
Mary Jo: Yes.
Leo: Ok. Well, it’s the first thing I always ask. It’s not so much clothes as pants.
Becky: Clothes, yea, yea.
Leo: I’m not wearing pants now.
Becky: No. No?
Leo: No, you don’t see anything below the waist. Who needs pants?
Becky: Oh, Lord.
Leo: (Laughing) You’ve seen something below the waste. But I except you’d be sitting there. Actually did you see the Launch Festival, Jason announced he’s going to be in a reality TV show? Jason Calacanis. Not Jason Howell. Don’t call him Silicon Valley Snookie. Actually he really is Snookie (laughing). Apparently Harvey Weinstein who’s once of the great movie producers of Hollywood took a shine to Calacanis and signed him up for a show that’s headed to NBC. It will be, there’s Harvey. It will be kind of like The Apprentice. There’ll be 12 startups who will compete for funding. Calacanis fires one each week until the end. And the winning startup will get a first round of funding worth maybe a million, 2, maybe even 3 million. Calacanis is already sounding like Donald Trump. It will be the hugest prize in the history of television. So, I think Jason is going to be great. It’s going to be awesome. And I feel like he’s got political aspirations. I feel like that’s the first step (laughing) to running for something.
Becky: He’s great TV. He’s very polarizing. And that’s what makes great TV.
Leo: He will be good, won’t he?
Becky: Television is visuals first and motion second.
Becky: And there’ve been many shows about Silicon Valley. All of them have stunk except for Silicon Valley.
Jason: Except for Silicon Valley.
Leo: The fiction show. But the Shark Tank kinds of show, this is not the first reality show. Randy Zuckerberg did one that was, I didn’t even see it, it was gone before you could see it.
Becky: Reality is all about characters. And so they have to be memorable. And he is.
Leo: He is. He is. I think he should get us on that show, though, in some way, in some form or fashion.
Becky: Yea. We’ll streak in.
Leo: I know he’s listening. We’ll streak it.
Leo: Google car, self-driving car has been in many accidents but in every case it was the humans’ fault, not the human driver but the other car’s fault. No so this one. Let’s take a break and we’ll talk about it when we come back but I think it’s time to do another ad. I have to keep track of these. I get out of order and I don’t know.
Becky: I’m really excited about Apple, that’s why. This Apple thing is so fascinating and it’s worth talking about it at great depth especially with good minds.
Leo: Well, and every show for the last two weeks it’s all we’ve talked about. But I think what’s happened is as we talked about it, it’s boiled down. So we’re now doing the Apple encryption reduction.
Jason: It’s a demi-glace really.
Leo: It’s a demi-glace. It’s a very rich—
Jason: The ones and zeros are coming back together now.
Leo: It’s a confit. Thank you, Becky Worley. Our show today brought to you by ITPro.tv. If you are in IT you know the most important job is to keep up to date because this stuff moves fast. If you want to get in IT the most important job to keep up to date and get the certs and that’s where ITPro.tv is awesome. Whether you’re looking to start a career in IT or you’re already in the field, getting those certs, getting those credentials are the key to getting a better job, a promotion, making more money, doing a better job. ITPro.tv was founded by IT trainers who decided that the best way to do this is like what we do here at TWiT. To do a channel broadcasting 50 hours a week. They now have 2 studios. They’re building a new facility. Their new setup is going to have 5 studios. There’s more than 1000 hours of content and more coming. All streamed live or on-demand. Worldwide. You can get it on Chromecast, on Roku, on PC, on iOS, on Android. It’s now available on Amazon Fire TV. They have an Apple TV channel. So you can turn on ITPro.tv on your big screen, have it going in the background, absorb all this information, get in the car, listen on the phone as you drive to work, get out of the car, put it on your PC. You’re going to learn and they are adding new courses all the time. This month Microsoft Server 2016, the MCSE prep course, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manger. They’ve got courses for CCNA, Amazon Web Services, the Ethical Hacking course is awesome. There’s the measure up practice exams. Those are great. $109 dollar value, you get practice exams so you can take the test before you take the test. And that’s built in to your subscription. It’s free. They also have Virtual Machine Labs which allow you to set up and configure a Windows Server, setup Windows Clients, all without having Windows at all. You can do it on any HTML5 browser. You can do it on a Chromebook. And the low monthly subscription price means affordable. More affordable certainly than going to a technical school, probably more engaging, certainly all the content you need. And it’s even less really than buying one of those prep books. Those are expensive. I’m going to give you a deal and get it down to $40 dollars a month, $399 dollars for a year. Here’s the deal. Go to ITPro.tv, ITPro.tv/TWiT and you’ll get a free 7-day trial and when you use the code TWiT30, you’re going to get 30% off, not for the first year, the first month, but forever. That’s 30% off the lifetime of your account. Coming up, beginning March 21st, they’re going to stream live their CCNP Security Courses. I know a lot of people who are customers of ITPro.tv are interested in security. This is going to be a great course. ITPro.tv/T-W-I-T, use the offer code TWiT30. Try it free for 7 days. You’ll become an IT superhero with ITPro.tv.
Becky: I read an article the other day about certifications that increase your salary, top 15. 14 of them were technical. One was program manager.
Leo: Yea. That’s not surprising. I think that really is a skill, well everybody knows these are the best jobs out there, aren’t they? Really? The person who runs the network has all the power. So, self-driving cars. Google has a couple of ones. They have the Lexus SUV with the light spinning and the cameras. And then they have those little cute autonomous vehicles. The cute ones don’t have a steering wheel. They don’t have a pedal. They don’t have a break. The one that got in an accident was the one with the pedal, the brake and a driver. And it got in kind of a weird situation. It was in Mountain View. Google campus is there. And it was driving down a city street. And normally if you’re going to make a right turn, you get in the rightmost lane. Except that this one had a big pothole in it. And the car comes up to the pothole and it’s coned off and it’s got sandbags. The car’s stuck. Decides it’s got to merge back into traffic to get to make the right turn. So it turns on its blinkers, sees a bus coming and then plows into it at 2 miles an hour (laughing). It hits the bus. It doesn’t just hit the bus, it hits it in the most vulnerable portion of any bus, right there in the crotch. It’s one of those—
Becky: Double busses.
Leo: Double extensible busses and it hits it in the joint. You know I don’t know if it’s a lot of damage. A lot of discussion about this. I don’t know if the bus driver was mad. He said he saw the entire, he saw that it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle and it’s to be presumed the bus drivers encounter them a lot in Mountain View. The driver said, Google said the car did see the bus, but thought it would let it in.
Becky: As did the driver.
Leo: And the driver said, “Yea, I saw it. I thought, this isn’t going to be a problem. I’ll let the car handle it.” And the bus did not let him in and it hit the bus at 2 miles an hour. Nobody was hurt. So this is what’s going on. The Google cars are getting more aggressive intentionally. The problem is, and this is a very challenging computer science problem for an autonomous vehicle, humans have all sorts of signals about oh, you go, I’ll go. You look the driver in the eye. Does he see you? Is he slowing down? Ok, it’s my turn to go. There’s nothing to look at with an autonomous vehicle. It may very well be the bus driver thought, “Oh, it’s stuck. It’s just going to sit there.” Or didn’t, you know, I didn’t have to let it in. It’s a robot car. I don’t know what the bus driver thought.
Becky: Have you ever been behind a bus, next to a bus, in front of a bus? Busses don’t care about you.
Leo: We know that the last thing you do is challenge a bus.
Becky: The bus is completely right.
Leo: But a computer doesn’t know that.
Jason: And that’s basically what Google’s press release about this said is, “We’re going to take this as a learning experience about treating busses and other large vehicles differently than other cars.” Because I tried to put myself in that situation and that’s exactly what I would think is like, “Ok, I could risk getting plowed into by a bus or I could just wait for the bus to go by because I don’t trust any bus.”
Becky: Listen to this language. Google said it has reviewed this incident and quote, “Thousands of variations of it on our simulator in detail and will make refinements to our software.” This is the key. “From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses and other large vehicles are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles. we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future.”
Jason: Let the Wookie win.
Leo: Let the Wookie win. That’s the let the Wookie win rule. I think you’re right.
Harry: They’re already programmed to see things like traffic cones and know that they should be more careful. But I guess in this case they saw the traffic cones and the sandbags and they thought they knew a way out.
Leo: But they’re also, you know the cars have been so cautious up until now that they haven’t, they’ve actually been pushing them to be a little less cautious because they want—
Harry: They’re really cautious, yea.
Leo: Yea. And so we talked about this on TWIG on Wednesday. The worst thing that happens, in California we have 4 way stops which have really arcane rules about who goes. If everybody arrives at a different time, it’s not a problem. First person goes first. If you arrive at the same time, then you have to, then it’s more complicated. But the worst thing that can happen at a four way stop is a driver who gets there first. It’s his turn who waits and goes, “No, no, you.”
Becky: Yep. So confusing.
Leo: It’s the most annoying, confusing, dangerous thing to do is to be too passive. And I think what Google was deciding is that these cars are too passive. And that’s not the best way to drive. You have to have, driving turns out to be an interaction with the other drivers. And you can’t be just kind of, ok, you go. It’s your turn.
Becky: Every driver has a personality. So what’s the personality of the Google car going to be?
Leo: They’re trying to be a little more aggressive.
Harry: Also it varies so much from region to region. A Google self-driving car in Boston needs to drive quite differently than when in Mountain View.
Leo: That would actually be the final exam. Can you drive in Boston?
Harry: That’s where I learned how to drive when I was growing up.
Leo: Really? Wow. Brad Templeton who does a lot of work on autonomous vehicles wrote a great blog post. He pointed out that in India, lanes are just a suggestion. Most streets don’t even have lanes painted in and if they do, no one, it’s not really—
Becky: What we call a 2 lane road is 5 lanes in many parts of Asia.
Leo: In many parts of the world an autonomous vehicle is going to really have a challenge because it’s going to have to impute human motives. It’s going to have to kind of understand what’s going on. What was that? Do you have that video, Jason, not of the San Francisco street but of the traffic intersection in India that we showed? It gives you an idea of how hard it would be to learn how to drive unless you learned your whole life. It’s almost like you couldn’t be fluent.
Becky: Oh my God.
Leo: This is slightly sped up. There’s no roundabout. There’s no markings. There’s no lights. It’s just negotiated. And it’s negotiated in nearly real time. And by the way, it’s not just cars and busses. There are people crossing the street. And I don’t—
Jason: That was a good one.
Leo: It’s kind of fun to watch because it’s like, what? The bus just went through him. He didn’t care.
Becky: That’s the 3rd bus that just does not care.
Leo: Doesn’t care. Bus don’t care.
Harry: Do they have more accidents then we do?
Leo: Yes. And in fact after I showed this video, somebody in the chatroom pointed out something like 31 times more fatal accidents in India than there are in the United Kingdom, Great Britain.
Harry: Beijing has sort of been like that when I’ve been there as well.
Becky: Do you ever drive and count how many different things have to grab your attention every minute?
Leo: It’s hard to.
Becky: It’s incredible when you actually think about the signal processing that’s going on in our brains as you drive. It’s unfathomable.
Leo: The human brain is uniquely well suited to this because we’re massively parallel. We also are good at learning autonomous things. Because a lot of driving’s autonomous. Just like walking or running. If you thought about walking, you couldn’t do it.
Becky: You’d freak out. Yea.
Jason: This is why you feel it when you take a long drive, right? And you’re exhausted. You feel mentally exhausted at the end.
Leo: Even though you’re not doing anything.
Jason: We all tend to think that unless you’re doing something physical you’re not exhausting yourself. But the fact is, you’re using your brain, you’re on edge. Your brain is burning calories. When you think a lot, like they did a study of people who were doing math tests or something like that and the fact is, it’s real exertion and it takes a toll. And you drive to the store for some groceries and it’s not that big a deal but you drive from San Francisco to LA and you are toast by the time you get to the end of it. So thanks, self-driving cars, maybe.
Leo: Did you ever have a bad commute? Like a long commute?
Jason: Oh, yea. I used to drive—so when I worked at Ziff-Davis actually, that was in Foster City and I lived by the east bay so I had a bridge commute. I had to go through a canyon and a bunch of city streets and over a bridge. It was the worst.
Leo: Did you ever get to the end of the commute and not remember doing the commute?
Jason: Oh yea. Especially when—
Leo: That’s what scares me. I was in a blackout condition.
Jason: You were talking about OJ Simpson earlier. I was listening to the news coverage of the trial and the white Bronco chase and all that. Or if you’re listening to an audio book or something and then you get out of the car and you’re like, I don’t even remember the stop signs or the street lights because I was just sort of focused on what I was listening to and the autonomous driver part of me was detached from my brain.
Becky: So I got to go with Sebastian Thrun in the first Google car.
Leo: He’s the head of X. The Google X Division.
Becky: Yea. Right, and that was for GMA and it was the first press ride in the car and we didn’t know what it was going to be like. We didn’t see any video from it. And it was a little herky jerky. And weird to see the thing moving by itself. And it was kind of scary.
Leo: Did you get in?
Becky: I got in.
Leo: This is the one without a steering wheel and pedals? Like the little bug?
Becky: No, this was a road test. Yea, this was back probably 6 and a half years ago. Maybe the first one. It was a Prius. And then I also stepped in front of it to see if it would stop, which it did. But I just remember thinking, there’s this foreign entity. Terrifying. And then last year at CES I was in the BMW self-driving car in the back seat while it drove me driverless, nobody in the front seat from point A to point B in their controlled environment. And the next time I got in the car to drive, I was disappointed. I was so easily acclimated to the idea of the technology.
Leo: No kidding. So you got used, it was scary at first but you got used to it. That’s interesting.
Becky: It was amazing how fast your brain actually assimilated to it.
Leo: This is the video.
Becky: Yea, this is the one from Yahoo. There’s no other human in the car with me. And I’m just in the back seat.
Leo: And you’re in the back seat so there’s nothing you could do.
Becky: No. It was going tiny amounts of speed but it was amazing how quickly your brain got used to it.
Leo: Really. So you’re going to acclimate to this. This is something you can’t wait to sit in the back seat.
Becky: You already have. So do you have collision sensing on your car?
Leo: Yea, I have all of that stuff, yea.
Becky: This is all mental. The technology is there. The laws are not there. The mental acceptance is not there. And it has to be incremental.
Leo: Can we just go back in time when there was no phone encryption, there were no self-driving cars. I just want to ride a horse.
Jason: That’s brilliant about the auto drive on the Tesla.
Leo: The horse knows the way home.
Jason: Is it’s incremental, right? It’s not—you’re still driving the car theoretically but you press that button and it’s driving for you. But you’re still in the driver’s seat. It’s like let’s get used to that for a while and then we can sit in the back.
Leo: You really feel like that Elan’s plan is he’s just going to upgrade the firmware until it just does it.
Jason: Yea and then eventually it will just be having one of these drinks in the back seat.
Becky: And texting. With gas at $35 dollars a barrel right now as an environmentalist, I am so excited for our acceptance of autonomous driving.
Leo: I think I’ll have my drinks and text in the front seat.
Becky: No, no, no that is, you’ll have no use for what is it? I can’t stand useful things?
Leo: I can’t stand useful things.
Becky: You’re so Frank whatever his name is. But yea, I think that it’s going to lead to the electric car adoption and it’s going to be, people are going to be more excited for autonomous cars.
Leo: I ordered an X. You can drive in it when it comes. With the whoop.
Jason: Or not drive.
Becky: Or the 3. The 3 is coming. That’s coming March 31st.
Leo: First orders, pre-orders March 31st. I don’t know when you get a car.
Becky: 25 grand after rebates? That’s amazing.
Leo: It’s not unusual to Tesla that you can preorder and then two years later get the car.
Becky: Yea, but it’s pretty cool.
Leo: Yea. Bring back the buggy whip or something anyway.
Becky: Welcome to the good old days.
Leo: Google is one of the best companies to work for, for the 5th year running. This is from Fortune Magazine. The list considers Alphabet, hundred best companies to work for. Number one is Google. Number 2 Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Ok, through the list out. That’s ridiculous.
Becky: No. Wegmans is on there. I love Wegmans.
Leo: Do I have to live in Sheboygan? Actually great brats. So maybe they’re including the brat factor in the overall—Acuity Insurance?
Becky: Harry, are you a freelancer?
Harry: No, I’m not. Not these days.
Leo: Why Wegmans?
Harry: It’s a great company.
Becky: It’s a central New York institution. It’s like the Costco of central New York.
Leo: Quicken Loans? What are they using for their criteria?
Harry: Jason and I used to work somewhere that used to be on that list.
Leo: And was it great?
Harry: And in those cases they chose certain employees—
Leo: That was Pat Robbins.
Harry: Within the company and they would send us questionnaires which I remember I got one year.
Leo: What do they ask you? Do you like it here?
Harry: Questions like, do you like it here? Or what are the benefits like? That was back when it was a little easier for a media company to get on a list like that.
Harry: And it’s tough. Like fairly cushy profit sharing plan at the time which I’m sure helped.
Becky: I’m kind of fascinated right now about the freelancer versus employee question. Natalie Morris wrote a really interesting article that pointed to Veronica Belmont’s amazing article about the issues. And I’m really curious, I haven’t worked for a company for a long time as an employee. I have a bizarre relationship with ABC but the bottom line, what do you like about working for a company and what do you wish you had if you were a freelancer?
Harry: Well incredible benefits are always nice. And those are easier to get if you work for someone. Working for yourself you have way more independence typically. My favorite types of companies to work for are ones where I feel like I’m working for myself. But I also get the benefits.
Leo: That’s what it’s like here, right, Jason? It’s like working for yourself but you get the benefits.
Jason Howell: Exactly. Perfectly.
Becky: That has got to be—the level of authenticity in his tone is so heartfelt.
Jason: Right you are, boss. Whatever you say, boss. You’ve got it.
Leo: This is a little self-serving but because I was an employee for so many years, I’m still an employee. I always kind of think of running a company as an employee and try to make it something like—and the number one thing is control, right? It’s like autonomy. And I think there are a lot of people who don’t want that responsibility of figuring out what they’re supposed to do and not somebody breathing down their necks. But I don’t know. I try to give people that kind of situation because that’s what I wanted.
Harry: I’ve worked for companies where the company was an obstacle to me, being creative and productive.
Leo: Yea, you don’t want that.
Harry: No, and that’s true of a lot of companies.
Leo: Tech TV was pretty good. We liked working there, right?
Becky: I don’t know. I was too young to know what was really at stake.
Leo: What was normal?
Becky: Plus I didn’t have kids. You had kids. You knew.
Leo: Yea, I was very grateful for Tech TV. Because we got a lot, mostly because we got a lot of autonomy. But then after 6 years of working your ass off and making a great product, they go, “Oh, and bye. Thanks. We sold it. See ya.”
Becky: Well that’s the false security.
Leo: That’s the negative of the whole thing is you may love it while you’re there, but you know.
Jason: A friend of mine always said that he would never go indie like I did. But he had open eyes about it. He said, “Look, they can lay people off tomorrow, but I feel secure that I’ve got this job, that I can have a long as I want it and as long as I do what they ask of me. And I don’t sweat a lot of the details of working for, you know, of making sure the company runs because other people sweat that.” But it is kind of an illusion. I mean your company can lay everybody off tomorrow and you lose your job. And you know, it’s just you have layers of insulation that you don’t if you’re working as a freelancer.
Leo: It takes a certain personality to live with the insecurity of being a freelancer. And yet I always felt a little bit more secure as a freelancer because at least I made my own destiny.
Becky: But then you have a freelancer’s dilemma. When it’s busy you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines. And then when it’s quiet, you’re panicking because it’s not busy.
Leo: Right. And I’m fundamentally lazy so, that really was not a good fit for me (laughing). I still have a job. I still collect a paycheck from the radio show.
Becky: Really? Well that’s the best of both worlds, actually, is when you have a gig that’s consistent and you can kind of go do the fun stuff.
Harry: Working for yourself is in some ways more secure, right, say especially in the media business. Because if you work for somebody else, unless you are the boss you truly don’t know how well the company is doing and if you run into trouble somebody else may make decisions that you have no control over. And if you work for yourself at least know how the company is doing.
Leo: If you screw up it’s your fault.
Harry: And it’s your own fault, so.
Becky: We live in a golden age of media where you can also go on your own, you know?
Leo: It’s a golden age unless you’re a print journalist and it’s very sad.
Becky: Or an woman over 50.
Leo: Or a woman over 50. That’s another one. How old are you?
Leo: Ok, you’ve got 5 years (working).
Becky: I’m working on my writing, guys. How’s my radio voice?
Leo: I think that’s changed, actually. I think that’s changed a lot. I think there are older women now in television who are not booted out because of their age.
Becky: No, I’m joking. Why do you say that about print though? What do you think?
Leo: Did you read this article? This is Bill Moyers’ website. An article by Dale Maharidge, What Happens to Journalists When No One Wants to Print Their Words Anymore? And it’s about the huge number of print journalists, newspaper journalists who are older and will never get another job. They’re basically, it’s done for you. Because there aren’t new newspaper jobs.
Harry: They just merged a bunch of the newspapers here in the Bay Area into fewer newspapers that come out less often.
Leo: In 2007 there were 55,000 full time journalists. In fact, there’s a quote in here that no matter what we do, we’ll never lay anybody off. I can’t remember which newspaper it was, but we’ve never laid anybody off and we’ll never have to. There were 55,000 full time journalists and 1,400 daily papers 8 years ago. This year, 39,000 full time jobs and many of those papers have folded.
Jason: Well that’s a number from 2007. I mean you go back to the numbers in 1990 and you’ll find out that there’s even—
Leo: 105 newspapers closed in 2009. And what’s sad is that many of these reporters and writers and editors are in their 50s and thought they would have a job for life and now really have nowhere to go. It’s actually, it’s a sad article. And it’s something we don’t—you know technology has its costs. And we talk a lot about jobs people have lost and businesses that no longer exist. And I imagine if you worked at Kodak you probably don’t feel too good about digital photography. But this is happening right now in journalism and in newspaper. It’s a terrible time to be in the newspaper business. Now some of those people might do as you did, Jason. You’ve kind of been through this.
Jason: Yea, but it’s a tiny percentage of people. I’m fortunate enough to have at least enough of an audience that I can kind of hang out my own shingle.
Leo: Brand is the key is to develop the brand.
Jason: And do it. And a lot of newspaper reporters especially don’t, aren’t allowed a personality or a brand in public because they are supposed to be objective relay-ers of information. But you know, we can argue about whether that was accurate or not. But if you’re a big name columnist, you can get away with it. But if you were just somebody who’s grinding on the crime beat and doing a great job at the paper in Baltimore, working on the murder beat, that job goes away and what do you do? Does anybody even know who you are? And if you’re David Simon you can turn into writing books, but that’s a bit of a crapshoot. It’s like steelworkers or something like that. This is a case where you’ve got people who are going to have to be retrained. It’s really sad. I think there are jobs for a lot of these people but they’re not journalism jobs, right?
Leo: That’s exactly right.
Jason: They’re going to be corporate communications or PR or teaching or—
Leo: Or Uber.
Jason: But, or yea. But it’s going to require a change in lifestyle because those jobs are gone.
Leo: You know what’s really adding insult to injury is people who get laid off, they get a job at Uber and then of course autonomous vehicles come along in a couple of years and there’s no job there either. It’s almost like, where do you go in the new economy?
Jason: Have you seen CGP Grey’s video about the Rise of the Robots, the YouTube video? It’s a great video but—
Leo: It sounds like a real lively—
Jason: Well, no, it’s a hilarious. CPG Grey is this guy. He makes YouTube videos. He is brilliant. And they’re very entertaining and educational videos. But he made the case and it’s so depressing. It’s basically what can’t robots and computers replace us for in terms of jobs? And this is maybe a 21st century question is what if most of the jobs we do are more efficiently done by a computer and/or a robot. At what point is there no employment left? And what do we do then? Do we all just hang out or what?
Leo: The big winner at the Launch Festival that we were talking about earlier was a robotic barista machine that—I mean baristas are like talk about one of the last entry level jobs out there. That’s going to be replaced.
Becky: CNET’s entry into fiction this week was called The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley.
Becky: It was such a great read. This is kind of a sidebar but I think it’s worth that concept of the—we’re really talking about a transitional economy and the speed at which this transition is happening. It’s a great read.
Leo: Yea, and the real human cost of it. Which we shouldn’t forget.
Becky: Yea, if we lose the baristas, if we use the taco-ristas, who’d we actually talk to? We’ll be in VR. We’ll be in a virtual reality world. We’ll all just be sitting on our couches in VR. It will be Wall-E so fast.
Leo: If you can afford a Wall-E machine.
Becky: What is it, $600 for the—
Leo: The Vive. $799. I’m glad I got mine so I’m ready. I’m going to watch Seinfeld and drink Soylent.
Becky: Ok, what’s the take on VR? Yes? Going to happen big, Harry?
Leo: Yes, big. I’d say if you’re sure how long it would take you might be wrong. But I don’t think there’s a way in which it doesn’t matter at all.
Jason: Like in gaming, soon. Big in the rest of the world outside of gaming, a little bit later. And then I feel like there’s the augmented reality stuff on top of that that could be very big.
Leo: I’m very excited about that.
Jason: Could be big in terms of not having to carry around a phone to get an overlay on the world.
Leo: I have yet to use a VR visor without getting a little queasy. I think that’s a large portion of society. You think we’ll get over that?
Harry: I went for the longest time having no problem at all and then the last couple of times I used Oculus I did get a little queasy. I discovered that for some reason standing up makes me less queasy than sitting down.
Leo: See, a technology that makes you throw up, I think there’s some problems. You know there’s some bugs you’ve got to work out.
Jason: If you can make the frame rate high enough and the resolution high enough and do eye tracking and you know, you would think you would be able to get it better.
Leo: I think that maybe, there may be a barrier there. You know when we say the Segway, the first time we saw the Segway, “Oh this is going to revolutionize cities.” Until people realized you looked like a giant dork in it. And that killed it. That was it. That’s all it took.
Jason: Motion controlled rides like Star Tours make me queasy. So it may just be that there is a percentage of the population that can’t do it.
Becky: I’ve been a huge naysayer and I don’t think the technology or the iterative sort of issues around this. I think we can work through it. But I’ve seen the use case kind of, I’m struggling with it. Obviously gaming is huge, porn is massive, but—
Leo: Not that massive as it turns out.
Jason: Donald Trump says it’s really big.
Leo: No, he says there’s no problem.
Becky: No problem. But I love some of the specific use cases.
Leo: There’s a big difference.
Becky: I was thinking back to I went to this weird trade show about ten years ago for police officers.
Leo: Have you used porn VR?
Leo: I have. So if you ever want to know, I’ll tell you.
Leo: Actually I’ll bring it in for you next time you’re here.
Becky: Well, tell us.
Leo: You should take a look at it.
Becky: Ok. I’m going to ask you quantitative questions. 10% better than regular porn, 20, 30, 40?
Becky: 100% better. Really?
Leo: Well at least initially because you’re in it.
Becky: When do you ever take your eyes away from what you’re looking at in porn anyways?
Leo: Well that’s the point. You can look around.
Becky: What are you going to look at? Is it all around you (Laughing).
Jason: Are you admiring the molding of the ceiling? Are you looking at the pizza box that the pizza guy brought before? What is happening?
Leo: Yes. That’s true. You want to see—sometimes you go—
Jason: It’s a good atmosphere Leo.
Leo: Sometimes you want to see a nice apartment (laughing). That’s an interesting choice of paint.
Jason Howell: I’m not cuing any of that footage.
Becky: Man, wow. Where’s the censor on that one?
Leo: Jason, you’re the one that introduced me to it. Don’t deny it because he was the first one to have a visor in the house. And he said, “Leo, wait a minute, you want to see something?”
Jason Howell: Are you throwing me under the bus here?
Becky: Now you can sue him.
Leo: No, it was a research project both of us were engaged in because we needed- this is a part of the conversation.
Jason Howell: We’ve got to view the products. All aspects.
Becky: Ok. So 100% better.
Jason Howell: VHS went into Beta.
Leo: You’re looking for décor ideas (laughing). No, it’s very—you know what? Yes, it’s immersive, right? And isn’t after all what you’re looking for whether it’s in gaming or in video or porn, you’re looking for an experience that’s as close to reality as possible. Well imagine something that makes you feel like you’re more part of the action so to speak.
Becky: Ok, I buy that. Now my other case scenario that was far more, well, no actually that was kind of interesting. I really never thought about that it would be that much better. But—
Leo: I don’t know if this is true but it’s often said that the adult film industry drives technologies. That online payments happened because of the adult industry.
Harry: So they say.
Leo: VHS succeeded because of—and laser discs conversely failed because they didn’t have adult content. So I don’t know if that’s true and I think sometimes that’s overblown so to speak. But I think that in this case there might be some truth to it that many people may come to it from you know, because of adult content. At least having that there is going to be an introduction for some people. But more so than having the New York Times send it out with the Sunday Times and pictures of homeless people.
Becky: No, no. Don’t care about that. I saw a really interesting use case for pain management. Where burn victims were using it to distract themselves from their—
Leo: Well that’s the point. It’s more realistic.
Becky: One use case, I went to this police and fire arms training trade show many years ago. They had a full 360 degree simulator for first responders in active shooter situations.
Leo: Sure. Absolutely.
Becky: And you had to figure out which door as it opened had the mom holding the baby or the shooter with the gun. And I could see those—
Leo: I just think for gaming alone.
Becky: But training situations. I mean for piolets. We’re already seeing that.
Becky: And all the simulators that we have.
Leo: The VR simulation for flying is actually very popular. Not popular, but it’s happening, absolutely.
Harry: Speaking as someone who does a lot of conference calls, I’m excited about that for meetings.
Leo: Imagine that. In the new studio that we’re building we’re considering where we’re going to put the 360 degree camera. It would be foolish not to, right?
Harry: I would much rather see my colleagues in New York and able to look around at the conference table just like they can.
Leo: In a way that’s the interesting thing. It’s immersive but not in the way you think. Like it’s an overwhelming experience. It’s a more normal experience. So a lot of times you do just kind of look around. You know, you’re in the space. So it isn’t necessarily more vivid of an experience, it’s more natural of an experience.
Harry: Also it will get less ridiculous looking over time.
Leo: That’s the problem. Because you all look idiotic.
Harry: At some point it will look more like eye glasses. The technology will get better.
Leo: Maybe. We talked about this last week. Nobody looks good when they’re in a VR environment. The rest of the world looks at you like you’re a complete idiot.
Becky: I love this movie VR situation that they had in German last week, right? And they all go in. They sit down in these swivel chairs. They put on the VR headsets. They look around with the headsets as they’re watching.
Leo: And weirdly Mark Zuckerberg appears. It’s the strangest thing.
Becky: (Laughing). Walking down the aisle.
Leo: He walks down the aisle and says, “I own you.” I think VR is both exciting and I think there are still some potential challenges including the nausea factor that can’t be overlooked.
Becky: And the social aspect is never going to be overcome.
Leo: It’s also very hard to get—social aspect? Remember, looking like a dork is what killed the Segway.
Becky: And Google Glass.
Leo: You can’t demo it. You have to go try it. You can’t just look at a video on YouTube and say, “Oh, I like this. I want to try this.” You have to actually physically put on a dorky looking toaster.
Becky: It’s the worst television. I can’t do any segments about it.
Harry: And like Microsoft keeps showing off.
Leo: Look at how dorky these people look. We’re watching the German group watching a movie and it just, they look like—talk about Wall-E.
Becky: It’s total Wall-E.
Harry: Yea, but there was a time when walking down the street using a cell phone also looked really dorky and if society wants something, over time it stops looking dorky. I’m not saying that they will.
Leo: No, we can overcome this.
Harry: But if something is compelling enough it won’t matter eventually.
Becky: My thesis with Google Glass was though that the fundamental connection to other humans is eye to eye. And when you put something between 2 humans that obscures that connection.
Leo: It depends what you put between them.
Becky: (Laughing) what direction were you looking at?
Harry: That’s a little less of an issue with VR than AR. AR, if you’re also interacting with humans, they actually are there with you that’s much more of a problem.
Becky: Because it’s elusive.
Leo: I do like AR. I think AR has the opportunity to become the next user interface for technology. Period. Mixed reality, yea. I like that better.
Jason: Yea, that’s what Paul said.
Leo: He said mixed reality.
Becky: Ooh, mixed.
Harry: The fact that VR is starting out with gaming I think is generally helpful because when you’re playing games, you’re already sort of in an unnatural context.
Jason: And you want it to be as immersive as possible. And you’re usually playing, you know, those kinds of high end games by yourself at your computer anyway. So, yea. And gamers want any edge they can for it to be more immersive. So I think it will be a hit there. I think you’re absolutely right, though, that what happens after that, how do you get beyond those first obvious VR instances to something that everybody wants? You know, people didn’t even want to buy 3D glasses to watch 3D TV.
Leo: Did you see this court story about how an inkjet printer can be used to fool a fingerprint reader? They can literally print—at Mobile World Com somebody was doing it with Play-Doh. But this is an inkjet printer. They can actually print your fingerprint on a piece of paper and unlock a phone. This was Michigan State that did the research. Like talk about, you know, privacy problems. Hey, let’s take a break. We want to talk about some more things. We’re almost done. The bourbon’s running out so, so are we. But first a little about a word about my favorite bookstore. It’s not a bookstore you can go into and walk around in VR yet. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if someday it was. It’s a bookstore you listen to. It’s Audible.com. 180,000 titles across all types of literature. Fiction, non-fiction, periodicals even, performances, comedy. I am a huge Audible fan. Have been since those days when I had to drive 2 hours each way to Tech TV. That’s when I first became an Audible subscriber in the year 2000. And man, I have several hundred books now in my Audible library. It’s one of the things that I like about Audible is that those books are yours. They’re in your library, your virtual library. You can go back. You can listen to them. I’m listening—what am I listening to right now? I got the Alexander Hamilton biography because I’m getting ready to go see Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It’s really, really good. Did you listen to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, Becky? I feel like you might be a Marie Kondo.
Becky: I am familiar with her work. And I have touched all my things to decide if they give me joy or not.
Leo: Did they spark joy? What are you listening to these days, Jason Snell?
Jason: Well I’ve got one to recommend that’s on Audible. It’s called Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald. Really good. Probably going to be one of the best Sci-Fi novels of the year. Probably going to win some awards. Certainly going to be nominated. Ian McDonald is a great writer, been nominated for Hugos and Nebulas and stuff before. And this is described as, I think it’s in production to possibly be a TV series. Described as Game of Thrones on the moon.
Leo: Oh, sounds like my two favorite things.
Jason: It’s pretty great. The moon and Game of Thrones? Yea. It’s pretty great. Or you might describe it as Dallas on the moon. It’s kind of family dynasties battling each other and it’s a lot of fun. Really fun book.
Leo: I’m listening to Neal Stephenson’s latest which is also about the moon, Seveneves, although in this one the book starts by the moon being destroyed.
Jason: Yea, yea that is a little more of a downer than Luna: New Moon.
Leo: Towards the end you get 5,000 years in the future. Things turn around, yea. It’s actually great. I love Seveneves. Here’s the deal. I’m going to get you 2 books. Go to Audible.com/twit2, TWiT and the number 2, and you’ll sign up for the platinum account. That means 2 books a month. But your first month’s free. You also get the daily digest of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Cancel at any time in the first 30 days, you’ll pay nothing but those books as always are yours to keep forever. So pick well, Padawan learner, and get sucked in by Audible because it’s a great addiction. I am, that’s a really good example of driving and not knowing you drove but you—what’s really interesting to me is when—does this happen to you when you’re listening to an Audible book? If you re-listen to a passage you can remember where you were?
Jason: Where you were.
Becky: Oh, yea, totally.
Leo: That is such a weird—
Jason: That’s called positional memory. It’s a real thing.
Becky: I run. I go by certain trees and I’m like, “Oh, I remember this was the part where…”
Leo: It’s so weird. The human brain is bizarre. It happens to me all the time. I’m listening to an Audible passage and I’ll know, or yea, vice versa. You go to that place and you hear that passage again. It’s great. I love Audible. In fact one of the things I like about Audible is often I can’t remember, did I see the movie or just listen to the book because it really comes alive in your head. And sometimes it’s a better movie frankly than the movie.
Jason: It’s great when you can cast any actor of any time in any role.
Becky: I put every story in my grandparent’s farmhouse.
Becky: Not every one. But you know, like a lot of them. You place your own.
Leo: Yea. You kind of see that place. Is that in Hawaii?
Becky: Upstate New York.
Leo: Upstate New York.
Becky: Right near Wegmans (laughing).
Leo: You know that’s a great place to work, I hear.
Becky: I hear.
Leo: Audible.com/twit2 your first 2 books are free. Go get them. Go get ‘em. Well this looks good. You know people are sad because Downton Abbey is wrapping up. How about a book called Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain so you can kind of hear the fact behind you know, the great house, the great estate. Do you watch Downton Abbey? You gasped?
Leo: No, don’t make that sound. I don’t know. Don’t do it. It will make me cry. That’s the last. It’s over.
Becky: I know.
Leo: I know. Is that tonight, the last one?
Becky: Who’s the woman who plays the dowager? Maggie Smith?
Leo: Oh, God, I love Maggie Smith.
Becky: She was on Fresh Air this week saying how much she hates it when people ask her for selfies with her. Poor famous people now.
Leo: Of course she does. Of course she does. The last episode is tonight and we won’t see them again except if PBS decides to bring it back because it was such a huge money raiser.
Jason: British TV is always good at bringing back casts like 10 years later for the Christmas special. They do that all the time. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they do that with Downton. If there’s money to be made, if there’s actors to be paid.
Leo: Romania is not a 3rd world nation and they would like you to know that. Apparently Bernie Sanders tweeted “Today, people living in Bucharest, Romania have access to much faster Internet than most of the US. That’s unacceptable and must change.” I think he is referring to how bad our internet is but folks in Bucharest did not take kindly to it. “Romania is sorry for not being the third world country you and your voters thinks it is. We'll be more careful next time!”
Jason: They usually pick on Estonia for this one so I think it’s interesting they shifted to Romania.
Leo: Estonia is amazing.
Jason: It is.
Leo: It’s like the wireless capitol of the world.
Becky: Kazakhstan was busy with our astronauts so we couldn’t pick on them.
Leo: (Laughing) yea, that’s right. That’s right.
Jason: So Romania got it.
Becky: Europe is not taking our [edited] anymore after this Trump debacle. They’re rethinking their relationship with us.
Leo: As they should. JC tweets “Bernie Sanders, give it a bucha-rest.”
Leo: Zinga! Ok, so, we now know. Don’t mock Romania. No but watch. Donald Trump will do it and no problem.
Jason: You can pick almost any country, any industrialist country and it’s got better internet than the United States.
Leo: That’s what’s really sad.
Harry: For wireless we’re doing ok but for wired we’re not in good shape.
Leo: That’s that thing I talked about. When you invented it, you have the legacy history. But I think our regulatory environment kind of killed it too.
Jason: The lack of competition you mean?
Leo: The duopolies did not work well.
Becky: Hey, what do you think of, coming out of left field, what do you think about—
Jason: Hosting the show again.
Becky: I know. I can’t help myself. This Google exemption for radio waves in the desert. Have you heard about this?
Becky: All right.
Leo: Wait a minute, I don’t even understand what that could mean.
Becky: You go on to the next story and I’m going to get—
Leo: Google is exempted for radio waves in the desert?
Becky: Ok, I’m going to look this up because I—
Leo: I see you have Meerkat, is pivoting because well, you can’t really compete against Periscope. And by the way, Periscope’s not doing all that well anyway. Users who clear—I saw this, this got passed around on Facebook and I thought, “Well this is a scam.” Users who click like on Facebook could unwittingly be aiding online scammers. Huh? Turns out, and you’d think Facebook would be nipping this one in the bud, people put up benign posts of little kitty cats and stuff. Gets lots of likes and then change it to be spam.
Leo: It seems like you shouldn’t be able to keep your likes if you change your post. But apparently you can.
Jason: After some period. But this is why, people always ask why can’t you edit Twitter posts. It’s the same reason. It does open up abuse. I’ve seen a lot of forums where you can edit you post for like 20 minutes or something. Some short period of time where you’ve got regret or you’ve found a typo. But not have it be hours later after you’ve got a thousand, a million likes, then you turn it into an ad.
Leo: Right. Or worse, malicious content.
Jason: Yea. Terrible.
Becky: Remember Social Cam?
Leo: Yea, Social Cam.
Becky: Remember when there was the huge anaconda that had supposedly eaten someone and they took over your Facebook feed and were posting.
Leo: Really? Wow.
Becky: Luckily I wasn’t hallucinating. Google.
Becky: Has applied, according to an FCC document unearthed by Hackaday, for an experimental radio license to be built in a New Mexico desert much redacted but it’s anticipated that this has to do with Google’s project Skybender to bring internet by drone.
Jason: What could go wrong?
Leo: A 100,000 watt transmitter? That’s a big ass transmitter.
Becky: Yea. So internet by drone.
Leo: But nobody lives in the desert do they?
Becky: Right. But this was, I mean a lot of companies have looked at sort of lower orbiting wireless—Harry, are you buying any of this?
Harry: Well Facebook is also doing that. They’re using lasers.
Leo: Oh, much better.
Jason: What could go wrong?
Leo: Use lasers.
Harry: Yea, they’re also doing drones and the idea is they could go to like a little village in Africa maybe that’s rather distant from the existing infrastructure and just shoot down internet. So.
Jason: And the Google, the whole project with the balloons is similar.
Harry: The balloons are the same idea but Google is also trying drones along with the balloons.
Leo: I’m one known fairly well for wasting money on Kickstarter deals. My most recent of course the floating Bonsai tree. It was funded. So I’m hoping to get that. But here’s one that (laughing) is interesting. Did you put his in, Jason? Is this what you were talking about?
Jason Howell: Yes. Yes.
Leo: The Virtuali-Tee: The Mind Blowing Anatomy Adventure. They’re looking to raise $100,000 dollars for a t-shirt that lets you see inside somebody’s body. What?
Jason Howell: It’s for educational purposes.
Leo: For educational purposes only.
Jason Howell: Yea.
Leo: Ok. They’ve raised $44,000 dollars, halfway there. 24 days to go.
Jason Howell: Show a little bit of the video, you’ll get to the—
Leo: Yea, go ahead. So the idea is there’s something on your t-shirt, like some code.
Becky: Like an anchor point.
Leo: And then you use one of these Mattel 3D things and virtual. This is actually augmented reality isn’t it? Yea. And the app is free (laughing). So they’re going to make these t-shirts and you point the phone at somebody and you can see their stuff. I think this Mattel viewer is actually very cool.
Becky: I am so skeptical as a parent. You know I’m like quasi-Waldorf with my kids. They get no Minecraft. Sue me.
Leo: Oh, give them Minecraft.
Becky: They can have code.org to their heart’s content.
Leo: No, no, no, no, no. You’re missing the point. Minecraft is, Minecraft in fact, if there’s something wrong with Minecraft it’s really a secret attempt to teach kids programming and logic and building and construction. It’s the best stealth educational tool I’ve ever seen. You’re depriving your children.
Becky: That’s like saying send them to Vegas so they can learn math.
Leo: No, no, no. You don’t understand. I’m telling you. You don’t get it. No, you don’t get it. Come into my server and join me and we’ll build some things together. It is actually, the more I use it, the more I realize that Minecraft really is actually teaching you to be an engineer.
Becky: That’s teaching you. But that’s like handing a bottle of tequila to a 7 year old.
Leo: No, no, you’re wrong.
Becky: They don’t have the off button for it yet. That’s my biggest problem.
Leo: They don’t need an off button. They should spend every hour they can playing Minecraft.
Becky: Ok, clearly, we have a disagreement (laughing).
Leo: (Laughing) I’m glad I’m not married to you.
Becky: Enjoy your virtual porn.
Leo: Be glad that they’re playing Minecraft and not Call of Duty or something like that. I would agree with you on that.
Becky: Wow, the bar is low. No, no, no, no.
Leo: Minecraft’s awesome. I think you’re missing the point I’m making.
Becky: I do agree that I’m a little bit prescriptive. But—
Leo: Do you let them play with Legos?
Becky: Oh, totally.
Leo: Minecraft’s like better Legos.
Becky: Except it’s 2 dimensions and there are no humans.
Leo: No, it’s not 2 dimensions. And there’s plenty of other humans.
Jason: Yea, that’s the beauty of it, it’s your kids and their friends playing together in a 3D collaborative space. It’s pretty awesome.
Leo: It’s actually, it’s preparing them for their future world.
Becky: When they are flipping burgers in 20 years I’m going to owe you a bottle of bourbon.
Jason: The robots, they’ve got that.
Becky: (Laughing) by the way, burger flipping got many of, I’ve done many of those-- yep.
Leo: Worked at McDonalds for year. That was my first job and I learned a lot about work.
Becky: Yea, I bussed dishes. So I didn’t actually flip the burgers but I bussed dishes.
Leo: I bussed dishes at Denny’s.
Becky: Oh, really?
Leo: Yea. I enjoyed working at Denny’s actually. You know what? Any job that teaches you to work and work hard is a good thing for a young person. And both Denny’s and McDonalds were hard work.
Becky: Oh yea.
Leo: Food service is hard work.
Becky: Are my kids going to like have summer jobs that they’ll be able to do? Will there be anything?
Leo: No, they should do Minecraft. You’re just missing the whole point.
Jason: They can build Minecraft houses and then sell them.
Becky: Right. They’ll make money on Minecraft.
Leo: You know what? One of our viewers makes his living building Minecraft things for companies.
Becky: Wow. Ok.
Jason: It’s a skill.
Leo: I should bring you to the Minecraft server and you can see what they’re doing.
Becky: Show me some data. I need to be converted clearly.
Jason: It teaches you engineering, it teaches you teamwork, it teaches you design, art.
Leo: (Laughing) All right.
Harry: In moderation it’s a great thing.
Leo: No, no, no, no, no moderation. That’s your mistake.
Becky: No, but that’s my point. They have no off switch.
Leo: No moderation. They should no moderation is a fool’s paradise.
Becky: No, mom has to off switch every other thing.
Jason: There is a plug in the wall. You can pull it.
Becky: No. It’s charged.
Leo: Look at this house. There’s books on the book shelves. There’s beds. This is a beautiful house.
Becky: You have fire in your house.
Leo: There’s a fire. It’s a beautiful home.
Becky: That is lovely.
Leo: Let’s go downstairs.
Jason: All of this designed and built.
Becky: Wow that’s your virtual space in there with the dungeon-y thing.
Leo: No, no, no. Look, there’s horses, there’s chickens.
Jason: Look at that town.
Leo: There’s cows. This is a little farm.
Becky: You know, this is, it was like 7 years ago that you had your game that you played that was like that. Remember? Farmville.
Leo: This is like Farmville like 100 times better.
Becky: No, it wasn’t even Farmville. What was the word?
Leo: The Simpson’s Tapped Out? The one where I bought a lot of doughnuts? OK, that I don’t recommend your children play. That they should not play. But this, this is a game that teaches I believe that teaches engineering skills. And it really gets you ready for programming because in fact if you want to learn programming, a lot of kids are getting Raspberry Pi’s with Minecraft on it and FORTH. You can write a program to build this house. Whoops I just—I’m sorry I just killed your door.
Becky: I like the Raspberry Pi idea. I want my son to learn how to—
Leo: Well you know the best thing to do on a Raspberry Pi is? Play Minecraft.
Becky: I’m leaving now. I’m taking my bourbon and I’m going back to my children who are deprived and reading books right now (laughing).
Leo: (Laughing) look, you said there’s no one in here? Daniel just came in to say hi. Where are you Daniel? Hi, Daniel. Where are you running to?
Becky: Daniel can’t give you a hug.
Leo: Don’t run away. We’re saying hi to Daniel. Hi, Daniel.
Jason: But it’s a safe place.
Leo: It’s a safe place.
Becky: I thought this was Knitting Today. I didn’t realize this was Tech News Today.
Leo: We can build stuff. Look, we’re jumping together. He’s jumping. I’m jumping. That’s Minecraft for hello.
Jason: Even the municipal light services they learn about.
Leo: This is City Hall. We built City Hall here. Look at this. With the giant TWiT logo on the floor.
Becky: You’re so convincing, Leo. You’ve got me. You nailed it. You’re right.
Leo: I’m following Daniel up to his special room.
Jason: Modern day lighting.
Leo: Yea, yea. It’s cool, isn’t it, Daniel?
Becky: (Laughing) Daniel’s coming at you.
Jason: Look at the size of the hallway there. It’s perfect.
Leo: This is all ADA approved. Yea, yea, yea. Look at that. Isn’t that gorgeous? Oh, no, I’m going to fall!
Leo: Physics. Hole in the ground. Ok, see? We learn.
Leo: We learn here at TWiT (laughing). Thank you, Daniel.
Leo: General Tab in the chatroom says, “Get the hell out of my house!” All right, we’re done here.
Leo: Clearly. Becky, great to see you. I’m sure you opened that bottle of wine. We didn’t even touch it.
Becky: That’s not a problem (laughing). There’s a cork.
Leo: Let’s drink it now. It’s time for the after show. Thank you so much for joining us.
Becky: Oh, you guys. I have so much fun with you guys.
Leo: Where can we find more Becky Worley? Because everybody wants more Becky Worley.
Becky: Oh, I’m on Good Morning America. I decided that instead of plugging what I do I wanted to let everybody know that you no longer drive at 10 and 2 because of airbags. We drive at 8 and 4.
Leo: I was shocked to learn that.
Jason: Like the pros do, yea.
Becky: See? Yea. And you can get useful information like that @bworley on Twitter but I just thought I wanted to share something useful.
Leo: Or in my Tesla we drive like this. Ahhh!
Becky: Hands free.
Leo: Hands free.
Jason: Watch out for busses.
Leo: (Laughing) thank you so much, Jason. Always great to see Jason. He lives just down the road so we like to get him up here whenever we can.
Jason: I’m usually, it’s usually just you and me and a couple of monitors so this has been great to have an all human panel.
Jason: The robots will replace us all eventually but.
Leo: Eh, what the heck. We’ll survive. Jason is at Sixcolors.com. Great site if you want to keep up on Mac news, Apple news of all kinds but also he does a great series of podcasts, has many podcasts. Theincomparable.net is a place to start.
Leo: .com I keep saying .net. Like you couldn’t get theincomparable.com.
Harry: I used to work with Jason but I hear you more often now than when we worked together because as I’m working I’m often listening to you.
Jason: Well, that’s great. People don’t know this but Harry and I are the original Mac and PC because we were the editors of Mac World and PC World back in the day. Not as cool as Justin Long and John Hodgeman but still. That was a long time ago.
Leo: He just threw bread at me (laughing).
Jason: Leo’s playing Minecraft.
Jason: Pay no attention.
Leo: Let me have some of that delicious bread. See how that tastes. Yea, you made that yourself. Harry McCracken is the Technologizer on Instagram. Twitter too?
Harry: Twitter I’m harrymccracken.
Leo: Ok. And of course—
Harry: fastcompany.com is where most of my stuff is.
Leo: That’s where you can read his great writing. And it’s great to have you too.
Harry: Great to be here.
Leo: Love having a live show like this. It’s so much fun. Thank you all for being here. Thanks to our live studio audience too. All they have to do is show up and we’ll put out a chair for them. But it’s nice if you email firstname.lastname@example.org let us know. That way we make sure there’s room for everybody who wants to be here. If you can watch live, you can do that as well on our streams. We do the show 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern time, 2300 UTC on Sunday afternoon. If you can’t watch live, on demand audio and video is always available at our website twit.tv or wherever you get your podcasts including apps on every platform, Apple TV, Roku, iOS, Android even Windows Phone. Yes, we have Windows Phone apps thanks to our great 3rd party developers like Dimitri Lealin. Thank you for being here! I will see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye.