This Week in Tech 556
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! Tim Stevens is here from theroadshow.com, also joining us, Larry Magin from CBS radio news, Dwight Silverman from the Houston Chronicle. We got a lot to talk about. Tim's going to talk about his visit to the Tesla 3 launch. We've got an Oculus Rift, we'll talk about the future of VR, and of course wouldn't be a TWiT without an Amazon Echo commentary. It's all coming up next on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 556, recorded Sunday, April 3, 2016.
Resuming the Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
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It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news, with the best tech journalists in the business. I always enjoy the old timer shows. Good friends of mine who have been covering this business as long as I have. Dwight Silverman from the Houston Chronicle! Always great to see you, Dwight.
Dwight Silverman: Good to be here, Leo.
Leo: Still doing the Tech blog.
Dwight: I am. I am mostly doing the social media for the Chronicle but I still write in my blog and love every minute of it.
Leo: I love the Link Roll. That's useful. Thank you, Dwight, for doing what you do. Also with us from CBS Radio News, it's important to say News these days. Apparently Larry Magid is here. He's also at larrysworld.com. Great to see you.
Larry Magid: Great to see you, Leo. Dwight, nice to see you. I heard you co-wrote a great book about Distill.
Dwight: That's right.
Leo: Here's a man who has never written a book about Vista, the only one on the panel. Mr. Tim Stevens from C Net and the roadshow.com. Hey Tim, good to see you.
Tim Stevens: Thank you for having me, Leo.
Leo: You were at the Tesla Model 3 event I hear.
Tim: I was there it was a late night. Pretty exciting times.
Leo: I tried to watch it but the stream kept stopping. I got enough of it to see the new car. It's beautiful on the outside car. What was interesting to me is instead of the 17 inch panel in portrait mode, it looks like there's a regular smaller screen in horizontal landscape mode.
Tim: 15 inch in landscape mode. That was the big surprise for me too. One of many surprises that we had for the Model 3. That was one of the biggest. A big shift from what we saw in the Model X and F, there's no drivers, there's no dashboard.
Leo: That was weird. It didn't show a lot of the interior, but what I saw looked like an extremely clean interior.
Tim: Right. There is nothing behind the steering wheel except the dashboard itself, which is very low. All of the clusters, all the gauges everything else is built into that 15 inch touchscreen which sits in between the seats.
Leo: I don't know if I could get used to that. That's weird.
Tim: It's the most controversial thing we've heard thus far about the car, but there are a lot of good reasons for it. The main one being cost savings. There are multiple displays on the Model X. On the Model 3, there will be that one 15 inch display in the middle that will give you everything that you need to know. They did move it up and forward so it is a lot closer to you than the display on the model S or Model X. It is in your field of view and you could also make the case if the car is driving itself, which the car will be doing a fair bit of, speed limits are a bit less of a concern. It is a big shift from what we've seen before, and it's something that we've seen on quite a few other cars, particularly lower cost models. Again, as your looking to launch this car internationally, which Musk definitely wants to do, it will make that process much easier to swap the wheel from left to the right side.
Leo: They have to do that, don't they? I wonder if there's going to be a heads up display of speed and something. You don't want to look off the road to see that stuff.
Tim: I wouldn't be surprised if they offered something like that as an option, they weren't really talking options. We asked many times, but they weren't in to talking about extra battery duration or extra performance. Those things will be options, but they didn't want to talk about what's going to be out there just yet. They still got about 18 months before they go into production, so I wouldn't be surprised if given all the critical feedback in that regard that they do something like a heads up display at some point or something like that. It's a pretty common feature on cars these days.
Larry: One thing I was confused in when I watched the webcast, will Auto pilot be a cost item? He said the hardware is included but will the service be free or will we have to pay for it?
Tim: That remains to be seen. I have definitely heard back and forth on that and I haven't gotten official confirmation myself.
Leo: I can weigh in on that one. I've ordered a model X, it's still undelivered. It's all ready. They have auto pilot ready and then you have to pay money to implement it.
Larry: Will it be an annual fee or a one time...
Leo: It's not on the Model X, it's just an extra cost that you add. One time cost. There is some additional hardware for some things. Ludicrous mode they have to put in extra hardware and stuff. Auto pilot is just... not it isn't because you have to have cameras too, don't you?
Tim: Yeah. There have to be cameras built into the car. Sonar sensors that are built into the bumper which help with parking and things, it's probably cheaper for them to build them into every car and only flip the switch to enable the software to selectively install that in different cars. It definitely seems like this is going to be a very affordable car. It's about half the starting cost of a model X, they're going to cut corners with dashboards, if they can upcharge you for software, it's not a big one. Ultimately, when it comes to these systems, it's not the hardware that is the expensive part, it's the development, it's the software, it's the training, it's all the stuff that goes into building those systems that's expensive, much more so than putting cameras and sensors into the car.
Larry: That 35,000 dollar car that I ordered, what's it really going to cost me?
Leo: You ordered one, Larry!
Larry: I put down the deposit.
Leo: Elon tweeted the average cost will be 40,000. It's 20 percent more.
Dwight: Tim, the inside of it, looked to me in the photos that I saw in some of the video, I understand that you could only use a SmartPhone to take pictures, you couldn't use a real camera. The inside looked Spartan and a little cheap. Maybe it's the absence of the dashboard, but it reminded me in terms of design aesthetic, although it looked better than this, it reminded me of a Prius inside. Does that fit with what you saw?
Tim: It's very similar to the Model X. There's definitely a difference. The reproduction of the dashboard, the removal of all the gauges, the dashboard is a lot lower. There are no traditional vents in the car, either. It's slick along top the dashboard, it'll be giving you all the climate stuff. That has a really interesting effect because the dash is so low that you are moved further forward in the Model 3 than in the S or X. You feel like you're sitting over the front axle. It's similar to the feeling in the McLaren 650 or 570. You feel like you're sitting right up in the nose of the car, you have this great view forward, which is different from your average car and makes the car feel sporty. I was in the car for a few minutes like everybody else, but that does give it a very interesting feel. It's a Spartan interior, particularly because there's no roof liner. It's all class overhead.
Leo: Almost all the way to the back, right?
Tim: All the way back. There is a small seam in the glass so it's not one continuous piece of glass. It looks to be about two pieces, but ultimately, other than a structural support that goes over the driver and passenger, and another one a little further back, it's all wide open. It has a bunch of effects, one being that it makes the car feel wide open and airy, and there's a lot more headroom than you would normally have, so they can move the rear seats back and it gives you more leg room in the rear than you would out of a car that size normally. I didn't get a chance to get in the backseat, but it looked pretty comfortable back there.
Larry: Elon made the point that it made the 5 star safety rating. I'm curious. When you're sitting forward, if you have a front end collision, what impact is that going to have?
Tim: Because there's no big motor up there they have to worry about, they have better crash protection and crumple zones without having to mitigate a big lump of iron that they had to do something with in a frontal collision. I definitely think that's it's going to be work for them. We've seen great results for the model S and X, so I think we'll see good results there too. I'm curious about how this is going to do in a rollover. It does have the structural support over the top.
Leo: It's like having a robot bar. You're not more protected than you would be in a ragtop.
Tim: You would be. It's like they ripped the sheet metal off a traditional car. It's basically sheet metal and the headliner. It's basically replacing that with glass which gives you more head room, but ultimately if that shatters it's going to be a little uncomfortable.
Leo: Don't roll it.
Tim: I'm curious about the insurance cost as well.
Leo: Imagine replacing a ding in your windscreen! Whole roof.
Dwight: Tim, have you had a chance to drive the Chevy Bolt? If so...
Leo: That's what I'm interested in. The Bolt is going to be very similar in price, in range which is of course the most important thing in an electric vehicle, over 200 miles, and it's being made by a company that has a track record than we know that when Chevy says we'll have that in the fall that that's likely they will.
Tim: I have had a chance to drive the Chevy Bolt. I spent more time in a bolt than in a model three at this point. They're very different cars. People were comparing the two, similar price points and ranges, but the Bolt is a practical family car. The seats fold down, there's room in the back, it's a big hatchback. You can throw your dogs in the back, no problem. The Model three is not a hatchback. It's a Sedan with a trunk that opens up, much like a Taurus. It's not like the Model S or X in that regard. The Bolt is going to be a much more practical car. It's not as quick or sporty, but it is actually fun to drive. Almost all EVs have great throttle response, accelerate really quickly. The Bolt has that as well. Handles quite well too, because the battery pack is down like in the Model X or Model 3. It doesn't have a lot of body roll there, but ultimately that's a much more practical car for a lot of people. The prices are going to be very similar for the two, but I'm a little bit wondering about how people are going to feel about charging the Bolt because that is not going to have...
Leo: Supercharger that Tesla is taking great pains to putting everywhere.
Tim: Musk made a point about doubling the amount of superchargers in the world.
Leo: Those are free, which is interesting. If you're a Tesla owner, you pull up to a supercharger and how fast does that charge up a 90 KW Tesla?
Tim: 80 percent charge in 25 and 30 minutes. If you want to go to 100%, it takes a lot longer to go the last 20 percent or so. Ultimately, that's really quick, and there is level 3 charging that will do that for other cars as well, but the network isn't nearly as mature as the Tesla supercharger stations, it's certainly not free. Tesla is even adding super intendents to their charging stations so if you get there and it's full of people you can leave your car there, go off and get some coffee, and when the charger is free, they'll pull your car up for you and plug it in.
Leo: Tesla showed... I don't know if it was a prototype or a concept of a station where you pull in and it removes your old battery and swaps in a new full battery. Is that real or is that just an idea, are they going to make those?
Tim: It was a concept that we've seen a few companies try. It was a startup called Better place that had billion dollars in funding, they designed the Model S with that in mind. It's 17 or 20 bolts to remove the battery and it drops right down, you can pop a new one in there. When they did the Model S, they thought that was going to be one of the ways they might go forward. They did deploy a few battery swap stations in California, but it hasn't taken off yet, it's just something... people don't want to pay for a fresher battery pack...
Larry: They charge a lot for a swap out, don't they?
Leo: Because you're getting a new battery pack.
Larry: It's an expensive swap.
Leo: It has to be.
Tim: It hasn't taken off yet. They've also shown a concept of a really terrifying concept of this mechanical snake thing that comes out and automatically plugs into your model S. They had that demonstration as well.
Leo: That's for autonomous. So your car could drive by itself across the country. It would have to refuel.
Tim: I think what they want to do is have Model S and Model 3 and Model X be able to pull themselves into supercharging stations, plug themselves in, and as soon as they're plugged in and fully charged, unplug themselves and allow somebody else to pull in automatically. I think that's what they want to do. You can see the video now. It's quite terrifying.
Larry: My question... when I was justifying this to my wife on why we need a new car, because we really don't need a new car, the only argument...
Leo: Good news. You won't be getting one for years.
Larry: The argument that I sold her on is safety. I drove the Model S and I tested the auto pilot and I was blown away. I got on highway 280, turned on the turn indicator, within half a second I was in the other lane, presumably with much lower risk than if I had looked around to make that lane change. will the Bolt have that any time soon, or is that going to be more of a traditional warning signal like is already on many cars?
Tim: There's a big split between the model 3 and the Bolt when it comes to technology. When it comes to active safety things, autonomous piloting, Lane assist and adaptive cruise, the Model 3 is way ahead in that regard. You can do hands off up to 80 miles an hour on the highway, it should change lanes like you mentioned. Automatic breaking things. The Bolt will have a lot of the emergency safety things, like warnings, but it won't have the full hands off autonomous cruise that the model 3 will have. It won't be that safe in that regard, but when you look at the other side of technology, things like car play, Android auto, you can actually create digital keys for the Bolt and share them with your family, so if your brother or sister wants to borrow the car, you can create a key for them that they can install on their phone to star the car off. The Bolt is really progressive when it comes to the interior technology. The niceties. It's going to be a little bit behind the Model 3 when it comes to adapted safety. Then again the Bolt will have been on the market for a year by the time the Model 3 comes out. There's no reason to believe that Chevy wouldn't be adding that kind of technology as well. Particularly if consumers are demanding it, which by the end of next year, they probably will be.
Leo: Elon, of course the best way to know what's going on is to watch Elon's Twitter feed. Incidentally he tweeted a half hour ago that the Model 3 will be rear wheel drive only with an optional for an all wheel drive, because to do that they have to put in two motors front and back. He also mentioned late Saturday that there have been 276,000 pre orders. That's 276,000 times 1000. That's almost 30 billion dollars.
Tim: It's a nice free loan for Tesla and they can use all the money they can get right now to keep building up their manufacturing facility and building that Giga factory that they're building for batteries, which Musk said is the single largest building in terms of square footage in the world, which is pretty impressive. It's this massive white edifice in the middle of the desert that will be producing more Lithium Ion batteries than every other lithium ion factory in the world put together. Once this thing gets into full swing, assuming it does, and there are of course a lot of cynics out there that think it never will, but ultimately they need a lot of investment to keep moving that thing forward and this is a drop in the bucket for them, but it is an encouraging sign. This is a mature company and a publically traded company, they're still operating like a startup in a lot of ways. People look at Tesla and they look at the potential as much as they look at the profit margins. When you've got 270 thousand people willing to pay you a thousand dollars for the privilege of being in line to buy something, that's a strong vote of confidence from the consumers, and that's the kind of thing that investors will eat up with a spoon.
Larry: Most of us put down our thousand dollars before we saw an image. Sight unseen.
Leo: I think Elon has played the greatest, most gutty game I've ever seen. This is not the first time. He's famous for taking all his money and putting it into the next thing, whether it's going to Mars with Space X or Tesla. They never made money. This has been hemorrhaging money since day one and according to people in the know, like Jason Calacanis who is an early investor and owner and a friend of Elon's, he says this is the end game. This is what Elon has been aiming at all along is an affordable--relatively, affordable electric car. He's not in it to make money, he's not in it to make cars, he's in it to save the world, so he wanted to get there as quickly as he can, and what he did was he bootstrapped his way, starting with the Roadster and the Model S and the Model X with very expensive limited interest cars that paid for the next generation and the next generation. I have to think on March 29 the day before this announcement, Elon's got to be on pins and needles. The reception of this car determines the future of Tesla. Had they not received many reservations, I think Tesla is out of business in a year or two. I honestly believe that. Getting more than a quarter million reservations, it's not about the 30 million dollars, it's about being able to go to investors and say we're a real company. A quarter of a million people put a deposit down on this car sight unseen. Help us build... first of all the new plant is capable of a lot more, the factory they own in Freemont. Help us build new factories, what we don't know is how long it's going to take. Elon basically implied late 2017, early 2018. Of course, if you're number 272,000, they're only making 50 thousand cars a year now.
Tim: Right. They want to do multiples of that. I think Numey was in the mid 200,000 production per year back in the glory days of GM and Toyota, so there's every expectation that Tesla could be doing a lot more, and the manufacturing of these cars is in a lot of ways more simple than what GM and Toyota were building back in the day. For the motor there's one moving part, versus a V6 which has hundreds of moving parts. Ultimately, they're only using a fraction of all the factory space they have there. It's going to take a lot of money to build all the presses and everything else that they need to really swing into mass production of the models. Like you mentioned, they could not have started with the Model 3 because the margins are too slim. They would have gone out of business a long time ago. It's only thanks to the dedication of Musk and the rest of the company and Musk continually dumping more money back in to keep the company afloat, they have managed to stay alive thus far, but you could tell at the event he was stuttering and stammering. He was excited to finally show this car to the world; but you could tell this was definitely something they've been working up to for a very long time. That was pretty exciting for me to be there. It felt like being at an Apple keynote.
Leo: Even Apple couldn't get people to get in line five years before the product was available. Even Apple can't do that.
Larry: He was also very good about thanking those who spent a hundred thousand. 80 thousand...
Leo: Because we funded... But I think everybody who bought a Tesla in the first few years knew that. It was very clear that... I remember talking to people like Jason, who has two Teslas and ordered a third, that he knows he's spending to make it possible to get to this affordable Tesla. That's the goal.
Dwight: Leo, if his goal is to ultimately save the world, and obviously he's got a company he wants to make money with, do you think he's happy seeing something like the Chevy Bolt?
Leo: If all he cared about was money he would have retired after selling PayPal.
Dwight: Does the Bolt make him happy? Google got him to Google Fiber in order to speed up Internet speeds in the United States. They've done that. Essentially because of that, Comcast and AT&T are ramping up their speeds. Is Elon Musk happy seeing something like the Bolt and the other electric cars that are coming in the pipeline?
Leo: Well, I can't read into his mind. He probably has mixed feelings about it. Let's not forget that there was an electric car Industry. GM's... what was it called? EV 1? The first Ford was electric.
Tim: Right, because gasoline was this bi-product that no one knew what to do with, and no one was thinking about building an engine out of the thing, so there were steam powered cars and battery powered cars, and the first Mercedes Benz was also battery powered, so those were back in the early days of motoring, there were a lot of EVs. It just went by the wayside because gasoline was so cheap. Nobody knew what to do with the stuff, so they made an engine and burned it and away everybody went.
Leo: It's been... we've tried this before and failed. There's a documentary that purports to say the oil Industry put the EV1 out of business that it wasn't lack of demand, although I have a feeling lack of demand was part of it. Lack of charging was a part of it, so Elon is putting superchargers around. He's addressing that problem, we started talking about that with the Bolt. You may have a 250 mile range, but basically that range is limited by where you can get electricity.
Tim: There's definitely been a lot of people asking me because gas prices are so cheap, do we even need EVs anymore?
Leo: It won't be cheap forever.
Tim: There's a lot of cynicism leading into the launch because this thing is going to be a dud because gas is so cheap, nobody cares about EVs any more. All the other things we saw and the encouragement we got out of this event, people care about EVs because more than just cheap gas. People are excited about this car not just because it's going to save them money.
Leo: It's going to cost me more. Even though I put big solar panels on my roof, it's going to cost me more to charge up that 90 KW hour model X battery than it would to... I don't drive that much, but it's going to cost a lot of money. Electricity in California is not cheap.
Larry: You're going to be having essentially no carbon footprint if you generate...
Leo: That's the point. I may not be saving money, but I will be very happy to know this driving around I do is not impacting the world, not even through an electrical power plant, that I'm generating...
Larry: If I decide to bail out of my Tesla, I'm still thinking about the 2016 Prius. I drive it now, my gasoline consumption is so low that it's essentially not an issue either financially or in terms of carbon footprint. We do have alternatives to electric vehicles. What I love about hybrids of course, you can drive forever.
Leo: Let me correct my math. Dale Poco has done the math for me. So they've taken in 272 million dollars in deposits, the actual cost, the actual revenue, if they sold 42,000 dollar Teslas, that's the average, would be 11.4 billion, not 30 billion, I over estimated. Although I've seen articles predicting that it will reach the 30 billion mark before we're all said and done.
Tim: I wouldn't be surprised. I think quite a few people will be spending a lot more than 42,000 dollars on...
Leo: You look at the Model X, it starts at 70,000. Good luck getting out the door with that. Incidentally to answer your question a little bit, maybe Tim you can weigh in on this, but how does Tesla feel about, how does Musk feel about the Bolt in 2014 he opened all his patents, didn't he? I think that's not just lip service, that's saying we want other companies to do this.
Tim: He opened the presentation, he didn't talk about revenue, he talked about emissions and carbon dioxide and global warming. His end game is to help the environment. If you talk to most of the players who are just now leading into the EV game, the introduction of any new big boat raises the tide for everybody. Everybody gets lifted up by the inclusion of new EVs on the market. I definitely think that Musk would see more competition as being a good thing because it will get more people to think about can an EV fit in my lifestyle. I won't say getting over that hurdle of I can deal without a gasoline car. The Model 3 and the Bolt are different propositions, I think it's difficult to compare those two cars because it's like comparing a civic to a BMW 3 series for example. Ultimately those are cars if you get over that hurdle of trusting the car and the ability to charge it and you're not going to be stranded somewhere, I think you'll start to look at more interesting options, and the Model 3 is a very interesting option for sure.
Leo: In his blog post a couple years ago, when they announced the open patents, he said it's impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. Our true competition is not the small trickle of electric cars being produced, but the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world's factories every day. We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world will all benefit from a common rapidly evolving technology platform. Incidentally the deal is if you use their patents, you have to let them use yours. That's a great collaborative effort to save the world. I think that's great.
Tim: It's a shame that they're building their platform on a proprietary charging standard, rather than raising Industry standard.
Leo: You can use an adaptor, can't you?
Tim: You can use your Tesla in a standard charging system, but you can't use a Bolt supercharger. That would not be allowed. That's unfortunate, that they don't allow people to pay some sort of serve to be able to use a super charging station for some other EV. If they really wanted to be progressive about it, that would be the way to do it. That would be a way for them to get a lot more super chargers and a lot more places. If they could become the mobile, the Sunoco of the EV game. I don't know what Tesla wants to do, but that would ultimately help to drive the Industry farther forward than just sharing patents, which ultimately GM would rather do their own research than license Tesla's technology I think.
Leo: Larry, put down a thousand bucks. Dwight, are you going to put down a thousand bucks?
Dwight: I would love to, but I drive my cars until the wheels fall off. I bought one two years ago... I am nagging my wife as best I can. Maybe by the time they're actually available, she'll have been worn down. I would like to have one, but I 'm also interested in the Bolt. One of the things I like about the Bolt is the network of dealers who support it is vast and in terms of reliability and service, it may have a leg up on Tesla. The other thing is you can't actually... Texas is one of those states where the dealers have a lock on where you can't actually buy a Tesla here. You have to get it shipped to you or buy online. Here, being able to walk into any Chevy dealer and pick up a Bolt is very attractive.
Leo: I'm pretty excited about it and I look forward to someday getting a model X. I actually think that there's some... I have no communication from Tesla at all, but my guess is there's something going on with those exes, because they don't seem to be coming out of the factory very fast.
Tim: They're definitely having a lot of reliability issues for one thing. A lot of consistency issues, those doors, Musk keeps joking about how they're having problems. If not from the engineering stuff, but from the support side of things, they are having issues with them, and not closing correctly and that kind of thing, so they're having production issues and ongoing support issues with those cars. They are ramping up, they're building more than they were before. I forgot the number, we just saw...
Leo: My VIN is in the 800s. My vehicle identification number is in the 800s. If they were really producing that many cars, I think they would have gotten one by now.
Larry: They don't give you any estimate as to when you can expect it.
Leo: As you will learn, Larry, there's a privilege to being a perspective Tesla owner, and what you're really doing, is you're saying I want to support this venture because I think it's a good thing. It's like being a kick-starter guy. Don't think you're buying a car, you're buying a lifestyle. To be honest, Dwight, you benefit from not being the first, just wait and see what happens. People who waited for... who didn't buy a model S but now are buying them are going to get the benefit of all those years the model is pretty consistent and it's a great car and it's a good time to buy a model S, and you didn't miss out much by not putting in an order in the very beginning.
Dwight: You use the word privilege I think Stewart would agree with you.
Leo: Stewart got his yanked, which is why I'm exceedingly cautious about saying anything about my close, personal friend Elon Musk. He bitched about the last Model X event, how long it took and he never saw the car, and Elon said fine you don't get one.
Dwight: Elon personally pulled his order.
Leo: Yikes. Elon, I love you dude.
Larry: Tim Cook has never done that to me.
Leo: Tim has never invited me to another Appl event, but that's fine. You just have to understand when you're doing this, I think model 3 owners will learn this too. You're not... it's not like buying a car. It's a different experience entirely. Including, you bought it without seeing a picture of it, let alone a test drive.
Larry: I was just driving by the Tesla dealer. Tess Scoble said he got up at 2 AM to wait in line, probably at the Palo Alto dealership where I bought mine. There was hardly any line, I said why not. Didn't have a checkbook with me, but they took a credit card. Pretty easy. Took five minutes.
Dwight: They take Apple pay?
Leo: They'll take Bitcoin if you bring it. I'm thrilled to see this success. I felt strongly that it was a make or break moment for Tesla. Clearly, they made it. It's really amazing to me that 1/4 million people were willing to buy it. They didn't really buy it because you can back out of it.
Larry: You just paid to be in line. I don't know if I'm going to ge the 42,000 version or the 50,000 version.
Leo: You don't get asked that until... here's what happened to me anyway. You put down your five grand for the Model X, I did that last fall, and some point in January you get an email saying order it. That's when you decide how to configure it and that's when you determine what it's going to cost. You have one week to configure. I went back and forth for a long time. Once that week goes by, at midnight on that day, you have ordered it. Getting your money back or making a change is a much more complicated process. You have plenty of time to back out long before...
Larry: You can apply to a model X or S if you want.
Leo; Which is great. You may end up wanting to...
Tim: I think only 3 or 4 percent of Model pre X owners have cancelled. The expectation is that it carries over to the model 3 pre orders and that's a lot of cars they've sold. Very different market, very different car, very different buyer, but that's encouraging.
Larry: That's an interesting question when you think about it. There are people who can afford the Model S who are not well healed, and it does strike me that it could be a very different buyer experience given the fact that...
Leo: You mean the people who are now going to get the Model 3.
Larry: The Model 3 isn't much more expensive than a standard car.
Leo: It's in that ballpark, for sure. There may be more backlash. I bet not though. Anybody who is going to order this without having seen it is pretty much in the club, I would think. Tim, why don't you have... you live in the frozen North, so an electric car is a bad choice for somebody in the...
Tim: It's a bad choice for me. Driving into the city is a bit of a challenge and there aren't a lot of chargers up here around Albany where I live, but my wife where she works has EV charging stations, so she's definitely looking to get a plugin hybrid or she had been planning on getting an Audi A3 Etron, but she went ahead and plunked a thousand dollars for the model 3, so I think she's going to wait a bit longer and see when that comes out. She's been talking about getting a plugin hybrid. Up here in the country, charging stations are harder to come by, so going into work and back is one thing, but you don't necessarily only want a car that you can get to work and back. I think right now, for us a plug in hybrid makes more sense, but a year from now... who knows? She went ahead and hedged her bet and put a thousand dollars down.
Larry: You might be able to answer a question my local Toyota dealer can't answer. Is there going to be a 2016 Prius plugin.
Leo: They announced those, they look great.
Tim: The premier was at the New York Auto Show, which was this past week. The Prius Prime. The last generation Prius did have a plugin, but Toyota didn't market it, they didn't try to sell it, and they sold very few of the things, but with the new Prius they gave it not a full re-design, but they put a new nose in the front and a new tail on the back and it looks a lot better than the current new Prius, which I don't think I've heard anybody say looks very nice. The Prius is great, it's a big step forward. They didn't give us a price on it, but it will be 22 miles on a charge before it switches over to Gasoline and they're estimating 120 miles per gallon, which is pretty great. I think they'll sell a lot more with the Prius Prime. 22 miles is a little bit of a disappointment when you look at things like the C next plugin or quite a few other plugins that go closer to 30 miles on a charge, but 120 miles per gallon, you can't complain about that.
Leo: Look at the Prius Prime dashboard which seems reminiscent of some other dashboard that you might have seen.
Tim: They did not give us any pricing, unfortunately. That dashboard is an option, so you'll have to pay a little extra to get that, but it will have Android built in.
Leo: that's a nice car.
Larry: I drove the 2016, I liked it. It's much smoother than my 2010. But I hate the fact that it doesn't support Android auto or Apple Play.
Leo: It's the Prius prime.
Tim: Toyota is bringing that out across their line which is encouraging a car player coming to a lot of cars, and Toyota is making a big push there. It'll be on there. They haven't said how much they want to pay to get the extra batteries for the plugin version. I'm guessing somewhere between 3 to 5,000 dollar extra, maybe a bit more. But we'll see.
Dwight: What's interesting is I see chargers everywhere in Houston. They're in office buildings, they're in grocery stores, ATB...
Leo: Are they rarely occupied, or are they..?
Dwight: Often occupied. In the apartment complex, I moved in two years ago into a very high end... we sold our townhouse, we moved into a very nice apartment complex, and it had two electric car chargers and they were never used and about a month ago they took them out.
Leo: That I dont' get.
Dwight: The parking was at a Premium and people were parking there anyway who didn't have electric cars.
Leo: We have three chargers in our parking garage next door, but the thing that put me over the top with the Model X was a super charger in Petaluma. My feeling is you see chargers but as soon as everybody gets electric cars, there's not going to be enough of those, so... we're going to be fighting over getting to the charger.
Larry: There's a lot of electric cars in the parking lot.
Leo: I already talked to Lisa about our new facility and whether we can put an electric charger or two there. You can make money on it as a business. You charge a buck an hour and if it's always occupied, that's 24 dollars a day you're making. It beats being a book writer, that's for sure. Let's take a break, we'll come back with more. Hey, we've got a great panel. Dwight Silverman from the Houston Chronicle, Larry Magid from CBS radio news and from C Net's brand new road show at TheRoadShow.com, Tim Stevens. Three of my favorite people. Our show to you today brought to you by my new blog host, not that new, but talking about them for even longer. I have to say I love SquareSpace. The best hosting, the best design, the best technology to make it easy to create a unique website that reflects you, your business, or your personal tastes. Great for a portfolio. The simple cover page means you can at least have a presence on the Net that shows who you are. I love it for blogging, that's what I use it for. They also have ecommerce built into every template, that means you can sell, and it's the best. There is no other ecommerce solution that looks... it fits in beautifully. Of course, if you want some help, there's SquareSpace designers specialists who will help you set it up, develop it, even create content for it. We don't mention that often enough. SquareSpace has become a great platform for everybody. Every design mobile responsive, that means you have a separate mobile site. All sites look great on all size screens. You get a free custom domain name when you sign up for a year. New templates if you haven't been there in a while. Go to SquareSpace.com, click the get started button and try the new templates. There's a grid style landing page. I want to move my site over to that. That's another nice thing. I have all this content on my SquareSpace site. Every blog post I've done since 2001. It's so simple to change the look. This is my cover page right here. So simple to change the look, you just choose a new template. I'm going to try that grid style landing page. The infinite scroll. This is very popular now. You see this in a lot of blog sites, places like Vox, the Verge, so forth. You can have related posts appearing at the bottom encouraging visitors to explore more and off their profile page. Each of your creators, and you can have multiple creators on a SquareSpace site will have their own profile. Integrated search field and header. This has become a true content management system, and I can see a lot of people putting magazines and other online publications on SquareSpace.com. SquareSpace site never goes down no matter how many people visit your site. Incredible 24/7 support. Go to SquareSpace, try it today. If you do decide to buy, all I ask, use the offer code TWiT, and that way you'll get 10% off your first purchase. Get the year or more. Really take advantage of that 10% right now. SquareSpace.com. I pay a year at a time. I just love it. It's been a revelation to me. Let's talk encryption. The FBI decided to drop their case entirely. They said, guess what. We worked, got in the phone. Thanks anyway, Apple, it worked, see you later. Now we hear BuzzFeed tells us that law enforcement around the country is getting messages from the FBI saying you got any iPhones you want unlocked? We can help, we have the means. It indicates to me that Apple isn't going to indicate any time soon what the security flaw is. The FBI has found. There is a whole process that federal law enforcement can go through about whether or not to reveal exploits. In general, it's considered ethically right if you discover a security flaw to report it to the companies so they can fix it. On the other hand, I completely understand the FBI's point of view. Hey we found a way in, we don't have to go back to court, let's just keep this to ourselves, and meanwhile we'll call every attorney general in every state, everybody who has a locked iPhone, in Manhattan alone Cyrus Vance Junior the Manhattan prosecutor says he has 70 phones himself! I imagine that's it. Apple is not going to learn about it. Is that a bad thing? Should the FBI keep it to itself?
Dwight: I think this is cummuppence for Apple because they defied the IBM and dragged that out for so long. It's basically, yeah, now that we know we'll show you. This is karma.
Larry: Apple can continue to improve their encryption. Not knowing exactly how the FBI broke in might be a bit of a hindrance to fix that particular flaw, but Apple is going to continue to improve their encryption. It was hard for me to judge who won or lost this particular skirmish. On one hand, Apple was able to get off the hot seat. The FBI essentially dropped the case, that's arguably good for Apple. On the other hand, as you pointed out, it exposed a flaw in Apple's security, which is a problem for Apple. I think it's a little bit of a draw as to what Apple comes out of this thing, but they were able to essentially take the upper hand. I don't know if they won the PR battle, but they certainly got momentum on their side. By the time the FBI had made that announcement, the polls were beginning to shift towards Apple. CBS News, New York Times had done a poll just right before that, and I think it was close to 50/50, whereas the earlier polls it was much more in favor of the FBI. I think the FBI had miscalculated the public's reaction to this whole thing, and they got themselves a great out once they announced that they found a way to do it without Apple's help.
Leo: If we could guarantee that only the FBI would ever know how to do this, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I wouldn't have a problem with law enforcement having access to phones with the appropriate court orders and all that. There are a lot of people who do. They don't trust the Government they don't trust the process, they don't trust secret courts, and I understand that. But given that we live in a nation of laws, I don't have a problem with that. As we've learned time and time again, these exploits rarely stay secret. What if the next person to figure out this exploit figures out a way to put ransomware on your iPhone?
Larry: Leo, as you know, I run connectsafely.org and I'm on the board of a national organization that protects children, and a lot of the people who I work with are on the side of law enforcement having a back door. But I actually took a position in a column that I wrote recently where I argue that children are much safer in a world where we have encryption. It's a counter argument to a lot of the things that law enforcement is saying. It's not about security and privacy, it's about safety. The fact is that the phones expose who we are, where we are, who our contacts are. There's a lot of information, and even for children I think there's something to be said for living in a world where we have tight encryption and it's difficult to get access to this information. Having said that, I understand your position of if we were absolutely certain the only people who could ever get access to these phones or data were law enforcement with proper warrants and proper subpoena, no abuses on the part of the Government, no risk of it getting into the hands of criminals, of foreign agents, you name it, then I would be Ok with it too, but those are some pretty big ifs.
Leo: Yeah. History has shown in general that any exploit will eventually be discovered by bad guys. Unless Apple has an opportunity to patch it. What we don't know is what's the nature of this exploit?
Dwight: There has been some speculation that they were able to get access. Obviously they have the hardware, so getting access to it remotely isn't the question, and there was some speculation that they were actually able to extract it from within the Silicon itself. in fact, before whoever the third party is supposedly...
Leo: By the way, the third party could even be Apple. We don't know. It could be, couldn't it?
Dwight: there was some speculation about a process where you would essentially get into the Silicon itself and bypass the encryption. It was a theory that could be done before this company came along. It's possible that's would could happen.
Larry: Isn't that what John MacAfee was advocating?
Leo: Encryption is always vulnerable when the key is kept on the device, as Hollywood learned with the DVD CSS encryption. In order for an encrypted DVD to play, it had to have a key. So when they created the BluRay player, the created an option to revoke keys, and as far as I know, that has never been used, because unfortunately when you revoke a key, suddenly you break all the BluRay players in existence, unless they can all be updated, you're going to have some very angry customers, so even though that exists, Hollywood has never used it. I presume there's a similar vulnerability of some kind with the iPhone that the key must be some way stored... the key is your password.
Larry: Not all of that is secure.
Leo: Even six digits isn't very secure.
Larry: not for a computer.
Leo: You can, and bad guys will turn on a long full strong password on the iPhone, so the real question is does this exploit bypass the four digit, the six digit, the auto erase? What does it do? If it just bypasses the four digit, I think that's relatively harmless. If it somehow allows somebody access to the strong encryption on the phone and access to the data that's been encrypted, it really makes the phone vulnerable. We don't know, that's the problem. An exploit can maybe, can't be limited to the things it can do. That's the problem. I have mixed feelings. It's not the end of it, there's still this issue of going dark, this is just one phone. Apple is committed to strengthening their OS, they've established that fact, and presumably will continue to strengthen it to the point where it makes it hard for law enforcement to get in, and eventually it's going to Congress and Congress will have to make decisions.
Larry: It's worth pointing out, Leo, that law enforcement in some ways has more tools to access our information now than they did before they were iPhone and Androids and Blackberries, They've got meta data they can get through a warrant, they've got cloud backup services, which they would have gotten in the case of this phone if they hadn't bungled it by changing the password, they would have gone on iCloud. There's ISPs that are in the middle, there are Internet services like Facebook and Google and Gmail in the middle. It's not as if law enforcement is entirely in the dark even with encryption. That's often forgotten in this discussion. They try to make it sound like every tool you've ever had at our disposal has been taken away from us, we're living in a horrible world where the criminals are running amok. That's not exactly the truth, given the amount of data that is still accessible.
Leo: Here's an example. This is a case in Arkansas, and the FBI has agreed to help in this case, there's a locked iPhone and iPod that belongs to two teenagers who are accused of killing a couple that had raised them as their grandson and apparently prosecutors believe that there's something in the phone or iPod that would help them in determining guilt or innocence and the FBI has stepped forward and said we'll tell you what's on that phone or iPod so they defense attorney was ordered last week to hand over the iPod that was in the defense's evidence locker. What they are going for is recorded phone conversations, which had indicated that he had communicated his homicide plans on the iPod, so they're looking for text or email messages on the iPod. In a case like that...
Larry: Couldn't they get those messages from the Email provider or the cellular company?
Leo: Who knows? I use PGP all the time. I'm not communicating anything that needs to be private, but I use it because I can. So there are a number of people I correspond with. They've got my key and it's routinely signed by my Email client. That's the real problem. If you're a bad guy, the means exist. Not for these teenagers who are nitwits. Serious criminals! Run of the mill criminals who aren't very sophisticated for whom these techniques won't be very useful. I have such mixed feelings. I just don't know. What we don't want, and I think we all agree is for the Government to do anything that makes us less safe. All of this is to make us more safe. If it does something like crack this encryption and it leaks out then they haven't done their job properly. That's really the issue.
Tim: That's part of the big shame of how this all shook out is it never really went all the way through to the Supreme Court. It didn't result in something formal that we could all feel was conclusive. It feels like if anything, we've just raised more questions in this whole deal than we had in the beginning which was the Government got what they wanted ultimately or the FBI got what they wanted, but Apple didn't get what they wanted which was a guarantee for privacy and certainly a lot of consumers didn't get what they wanted, which was what is the legality of this procedure. That means ultimately that it all got kicked further down the field. I'm sure we'll come to this situation again in the not too distant future and we'll go over it all over again. Hopefully at some point we will get something concrete and conclusive and in the open that we can all know about what our rights are in this regard.
Leo: Speaking of Apple. April 1, 1976, Apple incorporates their 40 years-olds. What is that? A 2CI? That's a portable, the Apple 2 portable. Luggable, really. Smaller than a compact. There's no monitor, so you have to lug that too. Any other memories of 1976, you old timers?
Larry: I was a mainframe jockey in 1976, but I did get an Apple 2 in 1979 and it was mind boggling to have this machine that I could afford to buy. I could carry around if I needed to. It wasn't portable, but I moved from Massachusetts to California, and I didn't need a moving van, and it was life changing. It literally changed my career. I was getting a doctor in education, and I haven't had a job in education ever because I was so excited about the Apple 2 that I wanted to become a technology writer instead of a college professor. It was amazing, and to see how Apple was able to re-invent itself so many times and bring itself literally from the verge of extinction in 1997 and turn itself into a consumer electronics company is a remarkable story that will be remembered as long as we remember businesses. This will be remembered as an amazing company.
Leo: Regis McKenna who was the genius PR guy who helped Apple get on the map, Intel and many others, has released some of the notebooks from those early days. First revelation is that Regis and Kenna owned a rubber stamp that said Return to Regis Mckenna by himself. Bizarre rubber stamp to make, but OK. In these notebooks, fascinating stuff. This was his MO, this is how he operated. So he would take copious notes. Here's a note from a meeting in 1972 with Intel. What is a Microcomputer? How do you use it? Typical applications. He was helping them figure out how to create ads like this. How to use, this is 1973. What is a MIcrocomputer, what does it do, how to use it. McKenna was an absolute genius and hiring him was a brilliant move. He met with Jobs when he was 21 in 1976. Woz was 25, took copious notes. Here's a letter from Regis dated June 22, 1976, just a couple months after incorporation. I met with Steve Jobs at Apple last Thursday in his garage. Steve visited our office. He is 21. Along with a 25 year old partner, Steve has designed, manufactured, and is marketing a microprocessor system. The Apple 1 computer. His first ad is attached, it will appear in Interface. Remember that? Interface magazine. In July, this is great stuff. Really. This fast company had the article.
Larry: Harry McCracken wrote that.
Leo: Of course Harry kept all this stuff. Harry has become our archivist.
Dwight: He's a walking museum in terms of his knowledge.
Leo: Thank you, Harry. this is a great article. Thank you for reminding me that to give credit to Harry.
Larry: I think my Apple 2, when I first got it, I bought it with a cassette player first because I wanted to save money and the next day I bought myself a floppy disc drive because it obviously needed it, and then I had to buy an 80 column card because I wanted to use it for serious word processing and I had to buy a card that allowed me to go upper case and lower case because the original Apple 2 was only upper case letters, but by the time I fully decked out the machine where it was actually usable, I'm going to want to say almost three grand. The whole thing.
Dwight: Which for a long time was the price of a computer you could actually use.
Leo: 2500 was the number, right? The computer you want is 2500. We used to say that. Now it's 200. Or 5000.
Larry: This was 3 grand 1981 dollars.
Leo: when money was real money. Here's the first Apple ad that also appeared in the interface magazine with a type o in the very first line. The Apple one system if a fully assembled tested and burned microprocessor, I think he meant "is." A type o, and of course the famous price of the Apple One. $666.66, which Woz thought was a hysterical joke, and it includes, get this, 4KB of RAM. Wow. Wow. Nice stuff. And there’s Ron Wayne’s very famous beautiful illustration of Sir Isaac Newton. It was too complicated. What they ended up using was the Apple logo, but this was the first Apple Company logo. Ron’s only lasted 2 weeks before he said, “You guys are scaring me. I got to get out of here. You could get sued and I’d be left with, as the only guy who has anything, I’d be left with nothing.” I interviewed Ron Wayne on Triangulation a few months ago. A great guy who never regretted bailing out of Apple although he’d be a multi-billionaire at this point. Really, did Harry go to Regis McKenna and say, “Can we copy your notebooks?” How did he get these? They’re just great. And well worth reading. You can click on them to blow them up. Really a fun story.
Larry: Look at that picture. That’s a great picture.
Leo: That’s Regis and Steve in the early 1980s. Really great stuff!
Dwight: Really a contrast in styles too in that picture.
Leo: Well, yea. Steve was the barefoot hippy.
Dwight: That’s right. A smelly, barefoot hippy.
Leo: A smelly barefoot hippy and Regis was a button down guy. But I think Steve was, aspired to be what Regis was I think. And learned—one thing Steve Jobs was, was a sponge. He learned from everybody he was around. I think he learned a lot from Regis because Steve became probably the best marketer of our time.
Larry: What was also amazing about Apple, and I have to say that to some extent they’ve continued this tradition up through the iPhone and the iPad, is creating technology that’s actually easy to use. I mean the Apple-II compared to what preceded it was so much easier to use than anything. Well, you could argue the Radio Shack Model 1 was comparable. But it really was a breakthrough time. And of course the Macintosh which came out in ’84 was another breakthrough product. And the same could be said I think for the iPhone, you know, when compared to a Blackberry. So they’ve had a good track record, Whether they’ll continue that at this point is anybody’s guess.
Leo: Yea, it feels like maybe not but it feels like they’ve reached kind of the end of the innovation line and they’re now more evolutionary.
Larry: They feel that to me. I mean given the fact that now, great, we now have a new 4” iPhone. That’s the great innovation of 2016 so far.
Leo: And a shrunk down iPad Pro. Although I bought the iPad Pro and the iPad Pro itself was too big for me. But the 9.7” iPad Pro, even with its little keyboard is exactly what I wanted. I can carry it around with me in my backpack and have it at all times. It’s actually kind of an interesting—but it’s purely evolutionary if even that.
Dwight: You know I don’t think that Apple, well, Apple’s stuff is probably simpler. You know, try to find a setting in Windows 10 versus OSX is usually a little easier. But I think when you look at some of the things that they have done in the last 3 or 4 years with iOS, it is so much more complicated and things seem so much more random. You know, hand an iPhone to somebody and tell them how do you do this if they’re not familiar with it, and the early iPhones you could figure it out pretty quickly but you have a lot of puzzlement I think now. It’s much more complex and they haven’t figured out I think how to mask that complexity with a simpler interface.
Leo: They made I think a little bit of a mistake in iOS. When the Apple or the Macintosh first came out, and by the way, if you’re an Apple historian or Apple fan, tomorrow on Triangulation, Bill Atkinson will be in the studio.
Dwight: Oh, wow.
Leo: The guy that wrote the ROMS for the original Macintosh, invented Quick Draw, which was a brilliant, brilliant bit of code and Mac Paint and Mac Draw. But in those days, one of the things Apple did right was they had a very detailed, specific manual for programmers on the Apple User Interface. And this is how it must be done. This is the right way to do it. One of the thigs they had, one of the tenants that I really took to heart at the time, really having read their interface guidelines was something they called monotony. There should be one and only one way to do anything because the human brain learns that pathway. You don’t want multiple pathways. It’s too confusing. That’s why the one button mouse for so long. There were a lot of things that Apple did right. When iOS came out they didn’t do the same user interface guidelines. And as a result, and I think this is really where confusion lies, if you’re using Apple stuff you can kind of figure it out. But every app has a different UI. And there’s no standard for how you do things. And try to figure it out. The settings sometimes are in the app, sometimes they’re in the settings for the phone itself. It’s all over the place.
Larry: Yea, it’s funny you say that because I actually find Android in some ways easier to use, which is ironic, right? Because—
Leo: Google has a much more straight—yes, much more strict UI guidelines. I’m an Android fan, frankly.
Tim: I think Google’s been more willing to thing the operating system as well than Apple. Apple’s very, very tied to this idea that iOS is very simple. And so as it adds more and more functionality it just feels more and more tacked on. The notification system in iOS still bugs the hell out of me versus an Android which is much more intuitive and much more easy to clear notifications out, hide notifications that I don’t want, or disable them all together. Things like that in iOS, it still feels as if it’s glued on top of the original iOS which was never meant to have notifications in the first place. I really think that it’s time for iOS to be not quite clean slate, but—
Tim: Yea. Because ultimately it’s doing a lot more than it was ever intended to do and to keep adding on more functionality just feels more like a square peg being driven harder and harder into a round hole.
Leo: To be fair though, Android has had the benefit of watching Apple and then following on. So you know, I would imagine that Andy Ruben and the Android guys are looking at the iPhone and saying, “You know, these notifications, we need really better notifications. How can we do this right?” And so they have the, when you’re second you have the option to kind of learn from mistakes from the guy taking the arrows in his back.
Larry: What’s funny listening to what Tim was saying about Apple needing kind of reboot, it reminds me of what happened in 1997 when Apple, when the Mac operating system was getting a little old and they wanted to acquire Next on getting a lot. I wonder if there’s somebody out there who could, you know another Steve Jobs out there in the wings who can give Apple what it needs for iOS.
Leo: Aren’t we—this is an interesting question that’s kind of always in the back of my mind. Are we ever going to see a new operating system? Aren’t we done?
Larry: Not from Microsoft. They’re just going to keep updating.
Leo: They’re just going to keep updating Windows. They basically said that at Build this week that the next version which they’re calling Windows Anniversary of all things, will come out July 2016 and it’s just an update.
Larry: Yep, you’re renting it basically.
Leo: No more Windows 10. No more Windows. We’ll just continue to update it. You don’t think it worries me a little? So I feel like there’s no BOS waiting in the wings I guess is what I’m saying.
Larry: Apple has work to do, first of all on the Mac side, they’ve got to come up with an answer for Cortana. They’ve got to put Siri on the map. I don’t know what’s taking so long.
Leo: Siri sucks though. Can I say this?
Larry: Well, a better Siri.
Leo: Without getting people mad at me? Every time—so Lisa uses an iPhone, I use an Android phone. Every time Siri gets it wrong, says stupid things. Siri is worse than the product they bought.
Larry: Yea. Especially compared to the Amazon, compared to Alexa. I just bought my third Alexa device. I have 2 Echoes and I have the Tap.
Leo: Echo doesn’t do much though. The thing is, Echo is not trying to do so much.
Larry: It turns on my lights in addition to playing my music it turns my light on. It locks my doors. I’ve got it integrated with my Vivant Home Security System. In fact I just wrote a piece to put on Forbes tomorrow morning about the Tap and my critique of the Tap and you have to push a button, the portable one.
Leo: Do you have the Tap?
Larry: I do have it. Actually—
Leo: Has anybody gotten the Dot yet?
Larry: Oh hear it is. Here’s the Tap right here.
Leo: So this is like an Echo that’s portable battery powered.
Larry: Here’s how you have to go. Ok, well a push button. Who is Leo Laporte?
Dot: Leo Gordon Laporte is an American technology broadcaster, author and entrepreneur.
Leo: How is the speaker in that? It’s not as good.
Larry: Actually pretty good.
Leo: Is it?
Larry: Actually not quite as good as the bigger Echo. But it’s very close. But the problem is first of all there is a little jack in here that I was hoping was a headphone jack, but it’s an audio input. Why would you do that?
Leo: No, that’s not the speaker I want (laughing).
Larry: And you’ve got to push this button which means you can’t say, “Alexa, what time is it?” like I can.
Leo: From across the room.
Larry: Or from the next room. I talk to my Echo in my living room in my kitchen when I’m watching TV in the living room I just shout.
Leo: We have something like that. It’s called Google or Siri or Cortana. We don’t need something where we have to push a button. We want our house to listen to us and respond without pushing any buttons.
Larry: So I want the car version of this. While I’m driving my Tesla and just telling it what I want to listen to.
Tim: That’s coming.
Dwight: That’s coming. So if you look at the app, if you look at the app for Alexa on the iPhone. I presume there’s one for Android.
Larry: There is.
Dwight: You look at the app. There is in there a history of the questions you’ve asked in audio so you can actually hear yourself.
Leo: And you can rate it. You can rate how well it did it, responded.
Dwight: That’s right. But the other thing is that it is always listening to you. And listening for its trigger word. And you know, we were talking about encryption and the police and having access to that. If it’s always listening—
Leo: No, no, no you’re misunderstanding that because the only audio you have here is the audio after you said the trigger word.
Dwight: But it’s always listening for the trigger word so suppose that—
Leo: But it’s not smart enough to understand anything but the trigger word. It’s just doing matching.
Larry: It’s not that it’s not smart enough, it’s not programmed. If you wanted to get paranoid and—
Leo: I agree. You have a microphone in there and the FBI could go to Amazon and say, “Would you turn on always listening on Leo’s Echo because we’d like to have a bug in his house.” But I would point out that you have microphones all over you (laughing). Your phone has the same microphone, right?
Dwight: Except there’s no guarantee that the phone is always listening because you could turn that off. If someone knows you have an Amazon Echo in your home, it is always listening and you can’t turn that off.
Larry: No, you can turn it off. There’s an on off button.
Leo: Yea, you can totally. You can unplug it just as you can turn your phone off.
Dwight: Right, but I mean if you’re using it.
Leo: Well it’s the same thing with your phone. If somebody could, I’m pretty much sure that Google could send a signal down to my phone or put some software on my phone that would automatically turn the microphone on and have it on and the camera on and have it on.
Larry: It is on. You go to the home screen of your Android phone and say, “Ok, Google,” it will respond.
Leo: Yea, I know. But don’t confuse—so here’s the difference. Always listening is not the same as sending it back to the home office. So I don’t care if it’s always listening because all it’s doing is churning through the voice pattern to see if it matches the voice pattern of OK you know who.
Dwight: Right, but I’m not talking—
Leo: But I’m worried about it sending it back to the home office. And that it does not do although theoretically it could.
Dwight: Looking at what the FBI did with Apple, going to Apple and saying, “Build us an OS that lets us get in,” they could easily do that with other companies including Amazon.
Leo: Yes. And may have done that.
Dwight: And may have done it with Amazon.
Leo: A number of companies started doing warrant canaries. Apple did one and Reddit did one where they say, “To this date, we have received no national security letters to reveal information about Reddit-ers.” Except that, and the theory of that is as long as you see that in their transparency report, that’s true. It disappeared this week. So that’s a warrant canary. The absence of which means we now know that Reddit has received a national security letter. So I love warrant canaries but we know that this stuff’s going on all the time, that companies that receives NSLs are forbidden in many cases from revealing that publically, which is why they resort to things like warrant canaries. Could very well be Amazon is already turning on Echoes for people in their houses. We don’t know. We will never know because of the way our secret courts work which is a shame and a travesty.
Larry: Remember they took encryption out of their tablets and they put it back in. Remember they had a big reaction when they temporarily announced that they were removing encryption. And they put it back. And part of the reason they put it back I think is because people were concerned even though it had nothing to do with the Echo, I think there was a bit of a backlash as Amazon is in the business of creating devices that are constantly listening to us. Or are able to constantly listen to us.
Leo: You know what worries me about Apple is that they released a very minor evolutionary, with some fanfare, evolutionary upgrade of the iPhone and the iPad and said nothing about updating their long overdue computer systems. They haven’t put Skylake in for instance, the latest Intel processors even though most Windows PCs now are available in Skylake.
Tim: Or touch screens.
Leo: Or touch screens. And I’m scared because I really like using Apple’s products and they better what out. You know why? We’re going to take a break and come back and talk about the bash prompt coming to Windows 10.
Dwight: It’s the year of the Linux desktop.
Leo: Finally! It’s finally here. Our show today brought to you by something that you should be listening to, Audible.com, the best audio bookstore in the world. Well more now than 200,000 audio books. Fiction, non-fiction, periodicals, performances, lectures. I love the great courses. Audible has them all. And if you subscribe, you’ve got plenty of content you can put on your phone, on your tablet, I love it with my Amazon Echo. I say, “Listen to my book.” It starts reading to me. This is a revolution in audio. And we’ve got a special offer for you. If you haven’t tried Audible yet, we’ve got two free books for you. All you have to do, you’ll be signing up for the Platinum Plan. That’s good. Just go to Audible.com/twit the number 2. Audible.com/twit2. What you’re going to sign up for is the two books a month platinum subscription. You also get the Daily Digest of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times delivered to your phone or your tablet or your Amazon Echo anytime you want to listen. Now, here’s the deal. You’ve got 30 days to try it. If for any reason you don’t want it, cancel in the first 30 days. You’ll pay nothing. Those books are yours forever. They’re yours to keep. But I have a feeling that like me, I’ve been an Audible subscriber listener for 16 years. You will find much to listen to. I see Steven Levy’s classic, Hackers, the 25th Anniversary Edition is now out on Audible. If you haven’t read this book, get it on Audible right now. It is amazing. And as long as you’re listening to that, Katie Hackner’s fabulous history of the internet, Where Wizards Stay up Late. Another must listen to book. See lots of books about technology on Audible. I know a lot of you are into Sci-Fi. Because they know that you like science fiction, Audible created something they call the Audible Frontiers Program to record audio versions of all the great science fiction classics. Books that came out years ago, before audio books were even a twinkle in the eye. And I have to say, listening to The High Line and The Asimov, just—this is the best library of stuff. Oh, everybody’s raving, I haven’t listened to it yet, the Star Wars movie, the novelization. People say if you have questions from the movie, the novelization is awesome. Haven’t read it yet. But I do invite you to try it out. 2 books free, Audible.com/twit2, subscribe today and you’ll probably be listening to less, fewer podcasts but what the hell. Audible (laughing)—I can survive. Just come back and listen. Look, Toni Tennille. The Captain and Tennille, a memoir. Aw. Aw. Audible—see they’ve got everything. What were Lisa and I listening to? Such a great book the other day. This is the other thing I love to do. My wife and I like to listen to Audible books together. I know what we were listening to because we were listening to it on the Alexa. I can look at the Alexa history here and see what it was. It was a great story.
Larry: We love using the Echo for Audible.
Leo: Isn’t it cute listening as a couple? Instead of watching TV. Oh, this is it. The Prettiest One. It’s a new thriller by James Hankins. Ooh, it’s so good. Yea, it’s fun to listen together. Sometimes we’ll get in bed and we’ll just listen to an Audible book on our Echo.
Larry: Is Amazon listening to you as well at the same time?
Leo: If it wants to, it’s more than welcome. The snoring is going to go on all night, Audible, I mean Echo. You might as well just—Audible.com/twit and the number 2. 2 free books waiting for you. And I love it because every book I’ve ever bought on Audible is in my library. So I go back often and listen to some of the classics that I bought you know, in 2001 or 2002. Having a great time on TWiT this afternoon. Tim Stevens from The Roadshow at theroadshow.com. That’s the new—how many episodes do you have now under your belt?
Tim: Oh, we’ve done I think about 6 high end videos and a ton of reviews and some other good stuff as well.
Leo: If you wondered about the Model 3, that’s where you’ll find Tim’s great review. He talks about the event, lots of information, but also the Bolt. Also your favorite automotive pranks from April Fool’s.
Tim: You know I had a lot this year and a couple that were not April Fool’s jokes but should have been.
Leo: (Laughing) this is Honda’s emoji license plates. I would like an emoji. I think it’s just a matter of time. We have emoji license plates in California, right? We have a few different symbols you can use.
Larry: Symbols, yea.
Leo: Those are ok.
Larry: Do the cops write those down when they give you a ticket?
Leo: That’s a really good question. What do they write? They must have some sort of code. Happy face, smiley face, 365?
Larry: I have a feeling that the code is an addition, that’s it’s not relevant to—
Leo: You think they leave it out?
Larry: I don’t know. I’ve never known a cop.
Leo: If there’s a California Highway Patrol Officer listening, please let us know. Lexus had a V-LCRO seat. It’s the variable load coupling rear orientation seat. It’s exactly what it sounds like. A Velcro covered seat and you put your kid in Velcro clothing and they’re safe (laughing). Where did they do that, in an ad? Where did they do that?
Tim: It was just an April Fool’s joke video where they had—for a race driver, that actually kind of almost makes sense. But yea, that was another quote unquote funny April Fool’s joke.
Leo: So it wasn’t a child safety seat it was a racecar safety seat.
Larry: Have you seen the Google self-driving bicycle video that they did?
Leo: Self-driving bicycle, no.
Larry: It’s from Google in Amsterdam. It’s hysterical.
Leo: Google used it, it almost felt like for a while that that’s all Google employees did all year long is prepare for April Fool’s. That I think is changing. They haven’t been doing as many. And after their mic drop April Fool’s Gmail prank, I don’ think they’re going to be doing a lot more.
Tim: It should be ok. It seems like they went overboard a little bit.
Tim: I think they’ve been going overboard a little bit with Google logos everyday too, in my humble opinion. But yea, this one blew up in their faces a little bit so maybe they’ll rethink things.
Larry: I couldn’t figure it out. What was funny about it? What did I miss?
Leo: So we didn’t see it on the West coast because it was so horrifically a failure that they killed it before we woke up. But maybe you saw it, Tim. What happened?
Tim: Basically there was a button in Gmail that said you could click to add a GIF of one of the Despicable Me helper dudes, dropping the mic and turning away. And that would be, it would basically be your email. That would be it. And it was really easy to click that instead of the send button and so someone mocked up an email in which they were, you know, replying their condolences about someone’s death I believe it was. And they clicked that button incorrectly. And so it was a mic drop GIF which is not exactly a nice thing.
Leo: Well it was easy to as you can see if you’re watching the video. The way Google’s always done it on Gmail, you have a send button and to its right is send and archive button. They replaced the send and archive button with a send and mic drop. But it doesn’t say mic drop. It just has kind of an obscure icon of what is obviously once you know a dropping microphone. Mentally people who were in the habit of hitting send and archive just hit it. So two bad things happened. First your serious email has a Minion in it with an animated GIF with a Minion dropping a mic. But you know, I didn’t experience this but apparently you could also not respond to that email. It basically prevented replies. Or you would never see the response because it’s a mic drop, right? I’m done. I’ve said everything I’m going to say.
Dwight: And there was a bug where if it didn’t go through and you sent an email after that, that email would have the mic drop. And so there were emails that went out with the mic drop that weren’t supposed to have it.
Dwight: You know, April Fool’s on the internet you know was kind of funny for a while, but so often the jokes don’t work and they’re just more annoying than funny. And it’s that old line about dying is easy, comedy is hard. And it just, I can do without it at this point.
Larry: Did you guys get a memo telling you not to fall for April Fool’s jokes that people would send?
Leo: Did CBS send that out?
Larry: Yea, apparently something went around the newsroom just basically—
Leo: Just a reminder (laughing).
Larry: A reminder to watch to the end of the story.
Tim: Worse is getting like half a dozen pitches from random PR agencies saying, “Hey, look at this hilarious April Fool’s joke that my company is going to be doing tomorrow. I’ll give you the information if you’d like to write about it.” I’m like, no I don’t want to write about your April Fool’s joke.
Leo: No, no, no. Stop now. Somebody said that April Fool’s is the only day of the year people don’t believe everything they read on the internet. I kind of like the Google Cardboard plastic prank, though. Did you see this one? This was just a video and it’s a new VR helmet that is lightweight, immersive, because it gives you real reality. It’s just clear plastic and it’s waterproof and it’s 360 degree sound, works with all apps (laughing). Ok, this was kind of funny. Kind of funny. Analog clock which is a wristwatch. All right, but enough April Fool’s. We managed to survive April 1st one more time thank goodness. We did get, and this is no prank—oh by the way, I forgot to point this out. Larry, you put your review of the original Macintosh, the LA Times review of the original Macintosh.
Larry: Yea, show the yellowed screen. This is just hysterical. You’ll recognize what that looks like, old yellow newspaper.
Leo: Newspaper does not last very long. It’s not designed to. It yellows. But it’s nice that you still have this and even nicer still that you saw it as a winner.
Larry: I did. You know if you can read I really get excited about new computers. That’s still true but that really was an amazing moment. There’s a line in there about how Apple’s young chairman Steve Jobs showed me this new computer.
Leo: How nice. How fun.
Larry: It was fun, yea.
Dwight: The first time I saw back—
Larry: There it is. Apple’s young chairman.
Dwight: The first time I saw Mac I was at a party in Austin and it had been out maybe about a year and I had yet to see one. And I went into the, it was in the bedroom of this house where this person was having the party. And I was so mesmerized that I went and I locked the bedroom door and spent the entire evening out of the party playing with this Mac.
Leo: Oh, man. Just the beginning.
Dwight: Yes. Oh yea, I was like, oh my God.
Larry: And many years later, Dwight, you wrote a book on helping Windows users switch to Mac.
Dwight: And running Windows on the Mac. I did two of those. And you know it was funny. The first time I saw an Apple Computer Store, because Apple actually had these affiliate stores when the Apple II came out, I remember I was at a laundromat doing my laundry and there was one open across the parking lot. And I thought, “Why would anyone want a computer in their home?’
Dwight: Was my first reaction.
Leo: Who’s that?
Jason Cleanthes: That’s from The Verge. That’s Dieter Bohn.
Leo: Oh, Dieter Bohn of The Verge. Here’s a picture of Larry Magid with his Apple II in 1981. What a good looking fella, Larry.
Larry: You can see me in a suit.
Leo: That is a great picture. And apparently they flew—I like this. Apple flew the pirate—I’ll have to ask Bill Atkinson about it tomorrow on Triangulation—flew the pirate flag over their headquarters. Of course the pirate flag was the flag Steve Jobs very famously flew about the skunk works that was developing the Macintosh. Faced a lot of opposition from John Scully the CEO and the shareholders. And Apple II lovers were afraid that the Macintosh would cannibalize the Mac.
Dwight: Was that the original flag they were flying there? Did they fish that out of the closet and fly the original one?
Leo: That is a good question. It’s got the rainbow Apple log which means you know, it’s not the current Apple logo. That’s a really good question. Wow. Somebody must have that.
Larry: When the Apple II people would fight back—
Leo: They had a conference. I remember that.
Larry: They did.
Leo: In San Francisco called Apple II Forever right before they killed the Apple II (laughing).
Larry: That’s exactly right.
Leo: But if you remember, and if you saw the Steve Jobs movie, which was of course historically insanely incorrect, but I think is somewhat true that one of the reason Jobs got fired from Apple was because he basically was killing the Apple II with a new computer that wasn’t going to sell and cost way too much money. I remember looking at the Lisa at the store. I thought at $10,000 dollars I’m not buying that. But when the Apple II came out, $2,500 bucks seemed so much cheaper. Then the Mac came out and I ran out and got it. We’ve looped in on ourselves. I apologize. Let’s talk about Nest.
Larry: It’s one infinite loop.
Leo: It is. One infinite loop. A little battle between the Nest folks and the Dropcam folks. Former Dropcam CEO said, “Nest should stop blaming Dropcam for its bad results. We’re the only thing that saved Nest.” And then you know, Nest saying, “Oh, screw it.” Anyway, Nest struggling because we now see the results after spinning out all of its companies, Google companies into the Alphabet companies. Now these company’s results are not hidden under Google’s results. And we’re starting to see some trouble in paradise. Nest is not selling well. The hardware chief, Shige Honjo and Scott Mullins, senior engineering manager are leaving the country, the company. Maybe leaving the country too, I don’t know. Nest is underperforming. Now, $340 million dollars in revenue doesn’t sound terrible, but they were hoping, Google was hoping for half a billion. They did, don’t forget, pay $3.2 billion dollars for Nest in 2014. Trouble in paradise? Why is the Nest not doing so well? Is it over for Nest?
Tim: Well it’s hooked up with the smart home trend. We’ve been talking about how great Alexa is and all the great things that it does and there’s no reason why the Nest couldn’t be doing the same exact thing. You know, it’s got ties to Google technology, it’s got ties to everything that you need. You could be tied into your Google One and your Google Now and everything else. But instead it’s just still a thermostat that’s tied to a smart smoke detector and a few other things. And that’s about it right now. You know they had a huge leap, a huge advantage over all these other smart home devices. And they’ve kind of stayed stagnant for the past 12 to 18 months and that’s way too long.
Leo: I had Nest. I had two Nests in my old apartment. When we moved I didn’t bother connecting them up. I didn’t see any real value to it.
Larry: See that’s how I feel about it. I mean a thermostat, ok, what does it do? It has a network connection. That’s not really a big deal. So I just had Vivant put in for new purposed, home security, home automation system for me. And they offer the Nest at a premium price but they have their own thermostat that’s controlled by Z Wave and it’s pretty simple. I don’t, I can’t figure out why I would want to spend extra for a Nest.
Leo: $250 bucks, right?
Larry: I mean it just isn’t, I just can’t get it. I mean because even this one is overkill because I can remotely adjust the temperature in my house over the internet. Even that’s something that after trying it out I never actually would normally do because a regular thermostat does a pretty good job. So, and even the smoke detectors, other than the marketing side of Nest, they don’t have anything proprietary in terms of what they accomplish.
Leo: Well, there’s a lot of competition in all of those areas.
Larry: At least in the Vivant product and some of the others it’s an integrated system so it does everything. It locks the door, it turns the lights on and off and there’s all these rules you can set on your phone.
Leo: Yea, but who needs it (laughing) really, right?
Larry: I like being able to unlock my front door without having to use a key. I mean—
Leo: I worry about that.
Larry: Well, you worry about it, yea. I worry about that too.
Leo: Yea. Of course the battle between Tony Fidel, the CEO of Nest, he gave an interview to The Information disparaging Dropcam. So Greg Duffy the guy who founded Dropcam and sold it to Nest in 2014 for half a billion dollars wrote a post on Medium this week saying, “I would almost find such blatant scapegoating amusing if it weren’t so insulting to the team. Given that I feel compelled—“ Now these are two people that work at the same company. “Given that, I feel compelled to set the record straight. Just before we were acquired, Dropcam was in the middle of a record year of sales, had a 4 and a half star bestselling camera on Amazon, was rolling into large brick-and-mortar retailers with huge merchandising support, had innovative new products imminently launching, still had most of if its financing in the bank, and our investors and team actively didn’t want to sell. It was my mistake to sell, but that’s a story for another day.” Ooh. Trouble in paradise. Or maybe it isn’t paradise after all (laughing). Maybe it’s not so great as after all. We kind of knew this would happen. It’s one of the reasons they spun off into Alphabet, right, so that companies couldn’t hide under the Google umbrella so much. They have to rise and fall on their own merits.
Tim: It was a bit of a shame because that’s part of the joy of Google, you know, is all that project Xs, all those x-lab projects that were so great. And we knew we weren’t making any money, we knew we wouldn’t be making money for two years or maybe even 5 years or maybe even longer but they were doing really cool stuff. And we see Boston Dynamics now moving away and you know, Boston Dynamics was doing amazing stuff, you know, self-driving car research. That’s not going to make Google any money for a long time. Or Alphabet I should say, not going to make them any money for a long time. So that’s I think a little bit disappointing in terms of the way they’ve ultimately fragmented the company and I’m curious what the net result is down the road. It certainly makes them a more sophisticated company and certainly if you are a more conservative investor I think it makes the decision a little bit easier for you. But in terms of all these great woodshop projects that we all love Google for doing definitely makes that a harder proposition.
Leo: I was talking to Brad Sams, we had a meet-up after Build on Friday. It was a really great meet-up for everybody who was there. Thank you for showing up, a lot of fun. Brad Sams was there, he’s the editor of Thurrott.com and Petri. And he said his theory with Google is the problem Google has, and it’s probably a problem that Alphabet has in general, is that engineers are allowed to move on to whatever project interests them. And so it’s very easy for Google to launch exciting new things, a lot harder for them to keep the team together after it’s launched. Because then the innovators go, “Ok, what’s next?” and move on. And meanwhile they’ve got Wave or Google + or whatever and nobody wants to work on it because it’s done. And so nobody maintains it, updates it. And so Google’s ADD problem which is very obvious really comes from that.
Tim: Yea. How many great services have they killed over the years? I remember they launched a Google Pay credit card where you could just basically aggregate your credit cards together into one credit card.
Leo: They just killed it.
Tim: They just killed it this past weekend, which is, you know, actually I had one. I never used it to be honest with you. But that’s a cool idea that could have been great that Google launched and never put any muscle behind and then it died. I’m really still nervous that Google Voice is going to go away.
Larry: Yea, I was thinking the same thing. I’m dependent on Google Voice. It’s the only phone number I give out. I love it but I worry that it’s going to go away at some point. And I wonder about Project Fi too.
Leo: And there’s a little, you know, there’s indication that you might be right because when you get Fi, and I use Fi, Fi’s great by the way. It’s the least expensive service I use.
Larry: For traveling especially overseas.
Leo: Yea, because you get free unlimited calls and texts and the data you pay as you go and it’s very, you know, it’s $10 bucks a GB but they do fractional. And when you’re overseas, you get free slow data, unlimited international texts and 20 cents a minute phone calls. It’s T-Mobile’s same service.
Larry: But here the one thing that’s cool about Fi. So I have a Fi that I keep on pause because I only use it when I’m traveling overseas.
Leo: Wow, you can do that?
Larry: So I just pause it. I can do it on the app. And then when I go overseas I activate it and pause it when I get home.
Leo: Brilliant. Well, but when you went to Fi you had to port your Google Voice number over to it or have it discontinued.
Larry: Or create another Google account which is what I did. I have a separate Google account.
Leo: So I ported my number over. So you had it created under a separate Google account.
Leo: Yea, and I’m worried that now it’s a Fi—in fact if you go to voice.google.com, now you get redirected to Fi. But at the very bottom in fine print there’s a link to Google Voice where you still have all the Google Voice features you used to have. But you have to find it.
Larry: And is Fi open, Fi’s open to anybody now, right?
Leo: It is. But you have to buy the Fi phone. And when you buy a Nexus phone then you can sign up for Fi.
Leo: Well those are good phones, the 6P the 5X, the Nexus 6. They’re decent phones. Not as good in my opinion as the S7. To me this is the phone of the year so far.
Larry: My S7 is embedded permanently in my VR.
Leo: (Laughing) in your Gear VR? How’d you get the Gear VR that fits the 7? Is that the generic one?
Larry: It fits. Yea, no, it just fits.
Leo: Is that the old S6 one?
Larry: No, this is as far as I know, the current VR but it fits the S7.
Dwight: They released VR with the 6.
Larry: Yea but it’s, you know how it works.
Leo: I guess it would fit.
Dwight: Yea, it’s the same size.
Larry: Plugs in here like that.
Jason: It’s coming though, the big one.
Leo: Yea, I got an email from them saying it’s coming but it’s going to take a long time and if you want your money back you can have it.
Jason: Yea, the latest version has a notch that you can adjust to the size of the phone.
Larry: Right. And you can snap it right in.
Leo: Oh, I don’t have that version. I have the S6 version.
Jason: You have the 6th version.
Leo: I don’t have the notch. Well I’ll get the notch someday. I like the Gear VR but I don’t need it no more because I’ve got an Oculus Rift. We’re going to take a break and talk about the Oculus Rift in just a bit. Our show brought to you today by FreshBooks. If you’re a small business owner struggling with your taxes, as April 15th is soon, be advised that freaking out and burying your head in the sand will not solve your problems come April 15th. What will help you, you’ve got to bring a little FreshBooks into your life. FreshBooks, I remember when I first started using it in 2004 and it’s gotten better and better and better. Really saved my life. It makes it easy to create invoice, keep track of your receivables, know who’s paid when, who hasn’t paid. FreshBooks also makes it easy if people don’t pay, or are slow to pay because they make those notifications, those little emails that you send out, they do that automatically. That’s why on average, FreshBooks users get paid 5 days faster. They also save you huge amounts of time on paperwork. And come tax time, they can Zen their way through it. Even if you use an accountant, your accountant will love the FreshBooks reports. All your details in one place. The mobile app lets you take pictures of receipts and organizes them for later which makes claiming expenses at tax time a breeze. You can even set up FreshBooks to import expenses directly from your bank accounts. They just announced their EMV chip card in April, card reader which means you can now, a lot of people use FreshBooks who work at people’s houses, like set up their audio system or plumbers or house inspectors. Bring your FreshBooks, make an estimate, get the client to accept the estimate. When you’re done, put the invoice right on your phone. And then you pop in the card reader and they pay all without leaving the app. It’s already popular with IT professionals, people who do home computer repair and maintenance. All the trades. It’s so awesome. The best part about using FreshBooks is the feeling that you’ll have when tax time comes around and you’ve got it. You’ve got it. Now probably too late for this year but for next year, try it. FreshBooks.com/twit. 30 days free, go to FreshBooks.com/twit and when they ask you how you heard about it, would you please tell them you heard about it on This Week in Tech so we get the credit? It’s our great sponsors that make all of our shows possible, and it’s important that they know that you heard it here. FreshBooks.com/twit. That’s even more important now. We’re building, we have to, they’re turning this into a brewery believe it or not. Just what Petaluma needs, another beer brewery. They’re turning our studio into a brewery. The designer was walking through the other day.
Larry: Knowing that I will come in and do the show.
Leo: (laughing) we found a new place, it’s the same size. We can take everything with us but it’s just moving. We don’t even have to redesign. It’s a half a million bucks, so these sponsors make that possible so thank you, FreshBooks. I really, really appreciate that. One thing we’ll definitely be taking with us is our Oculus Rift. We’ll talk about that in just a second. But first, I made a little movie for you about all the fun we’ve been having this week on TWiT. Take a watch.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT.
Leo: We have spent more than $5,000 dollars building the ultimate virtual reality gaming machine. Oh, I’m going to throw up. This is way too realistic.
Narrator: Security Now.
Steve Gibson: I introduced a new piece of freeware, Never 10 offers an easy way to put the freeze on Windows 10.
Leo: Can I just congratulate you on excellent marketing because that name is half the reason you get links, I’m telling you.
Leo: It’s time for Windows Weekly, the Build edition. Hey, everybody.
Paul Thurrott: They’re only hear because Mark Resanovich isn’t speaking right now but thanks for coming.
Mary Jo Foley: Let’s talk about HoloLens.
Tom Warren: I feel like it’s better but it definitely still has issues.
Narrator: This Week in Google.
Leo: Do I have rights to privacy when I walk down the street?
Robert Scoble: No, but think about the Google self-driving car. It’s not just mapping the world in 3D in a point cloud, it’s watching you. This is a scary amount of new data that—
Leo: It’s not scary.
Jeff Jarvis: You cannot legislate around the emotion of scary or creepy. I don’t like clowns. Let’s outlaw them.
Robert: Oh, that sounds like a good one. I’ll sign up for that.
Narrator: This is your brain. This is your brain on TWiT. Any questions?
Leo: It was VR week here, absolutely. But let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week.
Jason Howell: Hey, thanks, Leo. Here’s a quick look at a few things we’ll be following in the upcoming week and to be honest, it’s a pretty quiet week. But we have a couple of notable things. First Y Combinator’s third annual Female Founders Conference happens on Monday, April 4th in San Francisco. The event is to empower women to become successful founders by basically just putting them in touch with those who have done so already. And on Tuesday, April 5th, the VR platform wars continue as HTC Vive begins shipping to customers. With the commercial release of Oculus Rift this past week, this obviously means consumers more or less have a choice. It’s going to be very interesting to see which platform reigns supreme. No doubt there will be plenty more for Megan Morrone and I to discuss all week on Tech News Today, every weekday at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern at twit.tv/live. That’s a look at a few things we’ll be keeping an eye on the week ahead. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: Thank you, Jason Howell, Megan Morrone, Tech News Today every Monday through Friday. I didn’t realize the Vive was due out so soon. I have one of those on order to. I will have by the end of this, 2 Oculus Rifts and a Vive. And I guess I’ll have to buy a PlayStation 4 and get one of them too. This is—
Dwight: And a HoloLens.
Leo: And a HoloLens. $3,000 dollars, those came out this week as well. Clearly, and that’s AR but I think RA and VR are kind of hand in hand, aren’t they? Is this a gimmick or is this really going to make a difference?
Larry: Well, as I was telling you, Leo, I had a lot of fun. I didn’t go out and spend even $1,600 dollars which is kind of a minimum you need to spend for a PC and an Oculus Rift. But I went over to Facebook the other day and had some time playing with it. I didn’t mention earlier I’ve been playing a lot with this much less expensive VR Gear. And I enjoyed it. But as somebody who’s not a heavy duty gamer, it’s not something I’d be willing at this point to invest a lot of money and time into. It’s more like an experience. I almost wish there was an arcade you could go to and pay a couple of bucks every once in a while to play with it. Maybe you could set that up as a business in a facility because I just think that the average person is not going to get a lot of value out of it immediately. I think school eventually can make incredible use of it. I can see lots of training, education, again, arcade kind of style. But in terms of something that people want to have in their home, not at that price point, not quite yet.
Leo: It is very expensive. I mean, although here’s a data point you might want to keep in the back of your mind. Ryan Shrout who helped us build this kind of ultimate virtual reality gaming machine for PC perspective on our This Week in Computer Hardware show has built a kind of minimal machine that fits the minimal requirements of the Oculus Rift as well as a fancy machine like this. He says that the experience is indistinguishable. And he says that’s probably because developers at least early on are not writing for the high end hardware, they’re writing for the guarantee minimum. So it’s you know, John Slanina, our studio manager is playing with it right now. It’s been pretty much constant use since we unboxed it. Set it up earlier this week. It’s fun. But you’re right, it’s expensive fun. I paid a lot of money for that privilege.
Dwight: It’s also I think still, it’s cumbersome. It has, to me it strikes—I have played with some of these and it strikes me as the, as being like the 3D glasses for home television. You know I don’t think the average person wants a face hugger on their head. And I think that until it is lighter and smaller and maybe done in such way that you don’t actually need the box on your face, I don’t think that the average person is going to be very interested in this for entertainment. Even for entertainment, a lot of people who are using it say that this would be a breakthrough for motion pictures as well as for games and I’m not sure I see that.
Tim: And also it’s a very isolating experience, which is a different thing. I love lying down on the couch and watching a movie with my wife or we play Call of Duty game together, that kind of thing. You can’t really do that in VR at least not yet. There will be co-op multi-player games for sure, but even if you’re sitting in the room with someone playing VR—
Dwight: You’re isolated, right.
Tim: And so that I think is going to be a big hurdle is removing beyond these initial gaming experiences. But definitely, I also agree that education is a big thing. I mean getting kids out in the country to a major zoo somewhere is a difficult thing. You can plop them down in the middle of the Serengeti if you want to through an Oculus headset. But again for those experiences, I don’t think you necessarily need a $600 dollar Oculus Rift. A Gear VR would be more than adequate to do that kind of experience. And I’m actually really encouraged to see what kind of educational experiences come out of these VR systems, especially the ones that cost under $100, $200 dollars.
Larry: Well the other thing about the Gear VR and also of course the Google is that it’s self-contained. The phone, but you’re not tethered. And part of the problem is you’ve got to be tethered to a PC with the Oculus Rift. But I think that we’re going to see some stand-alone VR headsets in the 2 to $300 dollar range that are going to make a lot more sense for your average consumer than a $600 dollar googles along with a thousand dollar computer. But again, we’re early in this so it’s great that they’re able to make these investments and see what happens.
Dwight: Well, we were early in this in the 90s when it first appeared than vanished. And the reason that—
Leo: This is not the first iteration, is it?
Dwight: Right. Right.
Tim: I actually used to work at a VR arcade back in the mid-nineties. It was one of my first jobs. You know you mentioned charging a couple bucks for it. That’s exactly what I was doing back in the 90s and that went bust, so.
Larry: Well my first experience was at Epcot Center. In 1994 I got to play with, I got a magic carpet ride. And I was blown away.
Leo: Oh, yea. I remember.
Larry: And actually my favorite experience so far on the Oculus Rift, I don’t know if you’ve done it, Leo, is the eagle flight where you fly over Paris and you fly under the bridge.
Leo: No, I don’t even know if we have that one.
Larry: That one’s great. As a former piolet, I mean to me it gave me a lot of the same thrill I used to have when I used to fly real airplanes without the cost and danger. So, I think that’s an amazing experience. The other thing that’s really fun is one thing that they do do with the Rift that you can’t do with these portable ones, including the VR, is it has a way of sensing your body position, not just your head position. So when the dinosaur walked up to me in one of the games I was playing, I was able to get under it and look at the dinosaur from the bottom, the top, all the sides.
Leo: That’s kind of cool, yea.
Larry: I actually literally felt like I was touching it. And I don’t know, have you had any experience with all this—there you go. There’s the eagle flight. Have you had any experiences standing on top of a tall building and actually being afraid?
Leo: That one I did and we can walk right up to the edge and look down and it’s a little bit vertiginous.
Larry: I could not bring myself to actually step over the edge. Because viscerally, even though I knew I was in a room, viscerally I felt like I was on the edge of a building.
Dwight: What would have happened if you did?
Larry: Nothing of course.
Leo: And you know that.
Larry: I knew that intellectually.
Dwight: But what’s the experience that you view when you do that?
Larry: I didn’t do it.
Leo: Well you’ve got to look at this. This is a Japanese VR game called, what it, Walk the Plank and Save the Kitten. So the idea is and this is going to be in arcades, the idea is you’re wearing a Vive and headphones. You’ve got the touch controllers. And you see these people are actually in a room on a plank. There’s no risk to them whatsoever but they’re terrified because what they’re seeing is a kitten—let me back up a little bit. A kitten on a plank projected over, you know, like a very deep sky scraper. And so the experience is vivid to them. They are in a risky position. And even though intellectually you know that you’re safe.
Tim: That looks amazing.
Leo: Doesn’t that look like a fun game? It looks terrifying to me (laughing). I don’t know if I want to play it or not.
Larry: Let that kitten go.
Leo: Go ahead, kitty. Enjoy. The kitten’s going to come back.
Larry: No real kittens have been harmed by this game.
Leo: The kitten’s going to come back. I don’t think the kitten’s as dumb as humans. No, you don’t want—so John, did you feel, now you were just playing the Lucky’s Tale. It’s kind of, it’s immersive enough that you feel like you’re in the event, right, in the game?
John Slanina: It was weird. It was very weird.
Leo: Yea. I love it. I love it. But I feel like at least for gaming, this is a breakthrough product.
Tim: Yea, it is.
Leo: And it is too expensive. But in some ways I regret that they’re—there’s our intern playing with it. I regret in some ways that people have experienced Cardboard and Gear VR which is not as rich an experience to be honest with you.
Tim: I think the PlayStation is a little crack that has opened quite a bit because the cost of entry is a lot lower there and the new developer support is bound to be huge once those things gather. And also the move controllers are quite inexpensive. Oculus doesn’t even have the motion detector controllers in the market at all.
Leo: And you need that. I think you really do. You want to reach out.
Tim: Yea, it definitely changes the game. I played the London Heist game which is one of the demos they have for PlayStation VR. You actually have to crack a safe and open drawers and pick up a gun and it’s a really different feeling to actually you know, hold your hand out in front of you and aim down the site as you’re shooting someone. That’s a very different experience than just hitting the A button on an Xbox.
Larry: --tried one of these out. This is the Google Cardboard but The New York Times included it. And I was actually disappointed. I was watching a New York Times video of an air drop in I think the Sudan. And I was watching this video, right. I was watching immersed in the VR and I saw the package drop but I forgot to look up. Or I didn’t know to look up where the drop was. And I was thinking about this and if I were watching this as a movie, the director would have seen to it, a traditional movie, right, the director would have seen to it that all the important information is in my field of view. But because this is virtual reality, I was in control of essentially where the camera was pointing. And I missed a very important aspect of it. And I hate that if you’re using it for storytelling, you have to really think about how do you prompt the user to look in that direction?
Leo: I agree.
Tim: I think that’s something that these directors will learn to do as this VR goes forward. We’ve heard about Spielberg being really excited about VR and looking into it. And we’ve done some experiments in VR. We shot a couple of car reviews in 360 video and we did a floor touring of the Geneva Motor Show in 360 video. You really had to think about how exactly you’re framing it. We’ve got a lot to learn too on our end. I can only imagine what a Hollywood producer has to learn but if new game designers and developers for example have learned to put bright colored objects in the path that you need to follow so that it kind of catches your eye and moves forward, you can imagine Hollywood designers doing the same sort of thing and having little keys and little indicators that are subtle but enough to get you to know, you know it could be an audio cue or something that you need to look left. You need to look right. And certainly hopefully you don’t ever have to turn around in your seat because that could get pretty uncomfortable.
Leo: Of course Microsoft’s HoloLens became a reality this week. People who spent $3,000 dollars for the developer edition will start getting their HoloLenses soon. And AR is different from VR but also similar. And I think part of the—and of course if you covered your eyes with an augmented reality headset it would be just like VR. I feel like both of these are very important technologies. These are new platforms, aren’t they? I mean that’s what—and you know, we just showed you, it was $2,500 bucks for the first Macintosh. Of course these are expensive initially. I agree with you, PlayStation 4 is going to be the breakthrough product.
Tim: Yea, I think so. HoloLens is hugely exciting from a future perspective. I hope it doesn’t take 30 years for that to be as affordable as a modern PC is now compared to the Apple II or Macintosh. But, yea, HoloLens right now has a lot of issues where it’s not really ready for consumer adoption I don’t think but you know, I can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t be excited by the prospect of being able to put on a pair of glasses that look a little bit less sillier than that and having a fully immersive experience projected onto your eyeball effectively, you know, over the top of the world around you. That also would help with the idea of this being an isolating experience. You know, if you can see through this thing you could be experiencing it sometimes as a virtual reality experience.
Larry: There’s also some interesting commercial applications like for example, you know you look through the IKEA catalog and you see a couch. Well, ok, great. We know what it looks like in a showroom. What would this couch look like in my living room? And you could actually do that. You can scan your living room wearing AR glasses and see that couch superimposed in your home. And there’s some huge medical and educational and industrial uses. I think that from a practical standpoint, AR is way, way ahead of VR. From an entertainment and gaming perspective, VR is obviously more fun I think. But I think there’s a lot that we’re going to benefit from augmented reality.
Dwight: And I think gaming, I’m actually more excited about gaming with HoloLens because I would rather interact with the real world around me and then have that augmented for a game. I mean to me that’s like, that is where you’ll get some real imagination coming in. I think you’ll see games that you haven’t even thought about before and have not seen anything like in traditional gaming or in VR.
Larry: You know it’s funny, what do they call those arcades where you walk around with those guns and they’re dark rooms. I’m blanking.
Leo: Laser Tag.
Larry: You can imagine playing Laser Tag with augmented reality with real people. That would be amazing.
Tim: There’s actually a concept video for someone who wants to create a laser tag like experience in a warehouse but with VR glasses so you’d walk up to a wall and you’d feel a wall but it would actually be seeing this crazy tunnel in a spaceship or something like that. So you know, mixing an actual experience together with a virtual reality experience to create this sort of—there it is. We’re all done. To create this amazing sort of combined experience where you’re actually walking through a very simple experience but you’re seeing something amazing. And that is I think a very exciting next generation arcade sort of thing. I would pay a good amount of money to go run around and shoot my friends and that kind of thing.
Leo: In a week you’ll be able to go to a movie theater and watch a movie called Hardcore Henry. Are you guys familiar with that?
Leo: This is interesting because I feel like this is the creator’s getting ready for this new virtual reality future. The idea is it’s an action thriller but it’s shot in the first person. You are Henry. And I don’t know what’s this going to be like in a movie theater, but everything in the movie is first person.
Tim: It looks absolutely awesome, potentially a little bit nauseating but I think—we’ve already said that the sequel that they have to make because there’s been so much buzz about this already, that the sequel will be in VR which is awesome and exciting. But yea, I mean the tricks they had to pull off to make this movie work—
Leo: This is a VR movie without a helmet, basically.
Larry: Do you have to wear a helmet for two hours to watch a movie?
Leo: Yes. I’ve worn—so let me tell you. When you play one of these games, it’s so immersive, I can see you spending all day in these. The Oculus is not uncomfortable. And with a good—by the way they’ve really improved the audio. So the sound is excellent.
Larry: You don’t actually get that with this. It’s not horrible.
Leo: So I really feel like two hours is not going to be too much to ask for. You’re going to forget you’re in this thing. That’s what happens to me with the Oculus Rift. You very quickly become acclimated to the idea that you’re in this thing. And it becomes scarily real.
Tim: I’m super excited. Like I said, back in the 90s when I worked in that VR arcade machine, I thought that was the future and I couldn’t wait until VR took off at home.
Leo: Why did that tank then?
Tim: There just wasn’t the technology. The latency was really low. Those virtual reality machines that they had in arcades cost 20 to 30 thousand dollars. They’re running 16 networks, 4 A6s together to get you any kind of graphics power that you needed back then. There were VR headsets that were at home that worked. They weren’t all that more expensive than an Oculus is today but you know, they were VGA at best and it was just a really poor experience. I think everyone, when that failed everyone wrote off VR altogether and it was really thanks to Palmer Lucky the individual who was a VR nerd who had all these VR headsets who realized I could take a tablet display, put it into a cheap headset with some duct tape and take some ski goggles and glue it all together and make this thing. And that’s ultimately what became Oculus. And it’s really thanks to him going back to what was the simple idea from the mid-90s and bringing it back again that everyone had written off. And now it’s because of that we have the Oculus Rift, the Vive and PlayStation VR and everything else because everybody had written that technology off.
Dwight: So Leo we need to do a VR version of This Week in Tech in which you can actually see and play and hold the goodies that we’re talking about.
Leo: We’ve already shot portions of two shows with the Nokia OZO camera which is a $60,000 dollar immersive camera. It has 8 cameras but also 8 microphones. I think audio is very important. We shot last week’s MacBreak Weekly. Alex Lindsay brought it by, he’s been reviewing it. We shot last week’s MacBreak Weekly and part of The New Screen Savers yesterday on that. Here’s one of the problems. It’s not only not real time, it takes 4 hours to stitch one minute of video together. So they’re still working on the video they shot on Tuesday. And we only shot like 10 minutes. So the work flow is a problem. But you know, we’re in the earliest days of this. And I think that there’s enough appeal already. I mean the idea of you being able to be in our show—and by the way, when we built our studio, and the new studio we’re building, we’re keeping this in mind that people will be looking behind as well as in front. Normally a television studio or a move set, there’s nothing but garbage everywhere but the 60 or 80 degrees you’re seeing. Well, no, we can’t do it that way anymore. So everyone in the sets now has to be—
Larry: Now that’s funny, Leo. When Victoria Smith was on ABC News she told me once that the hairdressers would only care about the front of her hair.
Larry: They wouldn’t even bother trimming the back of her neck.
Leo: Guess what? Guess what? And they can’t just stand on the edge of the shot to come in and give you a powder puff. Every, so we built—
Larry: I meant Gina Smith, by the way. Gina Smith.
Leo: Gina Smith. Everybody is going to be able to see everything. And so you have to rethink everything when you’re doing that stuff. But I feel like we are. So yes, I don’t think you’re going to see these shows in immersive 360 this year or probably even next year but I admit, when we build a new set, that’s one of the things that we’re keeping in mind.
Dwight: By 2020 it will be common.
Leo: I use a Theta right now, the Theta S, the Ricoh Theta S which shoots in 360 degree video and I can get it out to you in ten minutes later. Because the quality’s a little bit lower. And I shot a lot of video on our last vacation, immersive video. If you go to my YouTube account, youtube.com/leolaporte, you can see it. It’s not perfect by any means but you are me. You can see kind of the issues that you’re going to have to solve like this idea that everybody is visible in everything. So you know, I’m doing a blog here. I’m standing here. But I don’t have to point the camera anymore because everything around me is visible from the sky above to the water below. It’s all there. And that’s I think for an author or a creator or even just a blogger, that’s fascinating. And this—
Larry: But you have to get clearances from everybody’s who’s in the shot.
Leo: Na. I didn’t bother with that. $350 dollar camera. $350 dollars and the tools are available on Mac and PC and smartphones and tablets. You can already just do this. I could do it on an iPad and have it out on my blog and because YouTube and Facebook both support this video, and that means you can watch it with Cardboard or Gear VR, in some ways the tools to do this are here and highly affordable. I mean this is going to happen pretty quick I feel. You know, quicker than maybe we even realize. This is the new platform. I was talking on the radio show the other day about the new platforms. When you look at Apple and you look at these companies that have been around 40 years or 15 years in the case of Google or Facebook. 10 years in the case of Facebook. These are mature companies but the future is being invented right now by a number of companies. And there are new platforms. I don’t think we’re talking about operating systems so much as we’re going to talk messaging is a new platform. Bots, Microsoft talked a lot about bots at Build this week. Bots are the apps for the new platform. Instead of iOS or Android, it’s a messaging platform.
Larry: And with every paradigm shift there’s always new winners and losers. We’ve seen that every time. And so there will be new billionaires to be minted as a result of these new technologies that we don’t even know about yet.
Leo: Huge stuff’s coming along. So VR, AR, messaging, I think if you look at the Echo, the Amazon Echo, that in a way is a messaging platform too isn’t it? It’s a type thing, it’s a voice but it’s interactive. Autonomous vehicles, that’s going to be a new platform. We are not done yet. And that’s good news for all of us (laughing). Larry Magid is here. He’s from CBS radio, news and of course his own site, larrysworld. Always a pleasure to talk to Larry. One of the grand old men now, you can see it. Aww. Technology reporting.
Larry: Alexa, tell Leo to stop saying that.
Dwight: Larry embrace it.
Leo: Embrace it. Own it. That’s Dwight Silverman, same thing. Great technologer from the Houston Chronicle. Hey, if you made it this far after a few decades in the business, that’s a good thing, right?
Dwight: That’s right. That’s right.
Leo: It’s better than the alternative.
Dwight: Just think of all the wisdom you’ve forgotten.
Leo: What? I forgot. Also, one of the younger, young Turks, up and coming, Tim Stevens. Well, I can’t even say that about you now. You’re—
Tim: No, I’m approaching middle age.
Leo: theroadshow.com. He’s now the editor in chief. Long time editor in chief at Engadget and also a great friend. It’s great to have all three of you. Our show today brought to you by Wealthfront. As you do contemplate nature’s long corridor towards the end you might start thinking about saving for your retirement, for that house you want to buy. Get that down payment together. The kids’ college. Yea, you know I have some friends who just had babies and I tell them, “They’re going to be in college before you know it.” Start saving now. But how do you save? Do you put it all in a savings account? You might as well put it in a mattress. Well, you must invest, right? Oh, but are you going to manage the investment? Are you prepared to constantly pay attention to what’s going on and rebalance an reinvest and think about it and learn and study? That’s fun for about a month. Oh, you’re going to hire an investment advisor. Do you know what they charge you? Like one to three percent of what you have under investment every year. That means your returns would have to be three percent better every year just to break even. That’s not a good way. That’s why we love and recommend Wealthfront. Wealthfront is computer based automated long term investment. We’re not talking day trading here. They have built into the software state of the art investment knowledge from some of the best investment people in the world. People like Burton Malkiel and Charles D Ellis. 200 years, 200 years of investment prowess. And Wealthfront portfolios are based on something called modern portfolio theory. Go to Wealthfront.com/twit. You can read about this. They’re designed to adjust according to your own personal risk tolerance so they’re absolutely customized for you. But they stay diversified and most importantly for you, tax efficient. Wealthfront is transparent, it’s accessible. You can see all your accounts in one place weather they’re personal, joint or retirement. You can see every trade Wealthfront makes on your behalf right there on your desktop or your mobile app. And unlike other financial advisors, Wealthfront’s not going to bog you down with a bunch of questions. They’ve really simplified the process. Just a few questions and you’ll be investing sooner for as little as $500. That’s the minimum investment. You know, it’s estimated that more than 90% of portfolios are not invested properly for the long term. Wealthfront has a new feature. This is free. You can try it right now at Wealthfront.com/twit. It’s called their portfolio review. It will see if your portfolio is at risk, how diversified your investments are. What you’re losing to fees. Even minimize taxes and that is free. You’ll also get their recommended portfolio based on your risk profile. It’s an amazing thing. And all of this, not 1%, 2%, 3%. One quarter of 1% a year with never any commissions or hidden fees. It’s very affordable. In fact we’re going to make it even more so because your first $15,000 dollars when you invest at Wealthfront.com/twit is free of charge forever. Not a quarter of one percent but nothing forever. So that’s the way to start the nest egg. Wealthfront.com/twit. I want you to read about it. I never would want you to invest sight unseen. But they’ve just added artificial intelligence features to this so that they are improving their algorithm all along and if you look at their performance, even in these tough times you’ll see this is the way to do it. Wealthfront.com./twit. We’ve heard from so many of you now who have taken advantage of that offer and are having such great results. Let’s see. Did you see Facebook has a special (laughing), special studio in New York where they teach celebrities how to use Facebook? There’s Martha Stewart. I thought at first this was her prison photo. She looks so unhappy.
Larry: Hard to believe that Martha doesn’t know how to use Facebook. She’s actually much more tech savvy than you might imagine.
Leo: It’s kind of weird.
Dwight: Well they’re going so much into video I think that has a lot to do with it.
Leo: They really want, they really want—remember they gave verified profiles and early access to this app Facebook Mentions that you can live stream video. Now they’ve opened it to everybody. All they got was Ricky Gervais petting his cat.
Larry: And Robert Scoble doing everything.
Leo: Yea. And it, I don’t think it was a hit. But—
Dwight: We’re using it here.
Leo: Do you?
Dwight: Yea, we have a lot of, several of our sports people, our baseball writers were using it during spring training to broadcast from the spring training games. And we’re looking for ways to do it here because it’s a great, one of the things you can do is you can set it up, a reporter can use it on his Facebook page and then while they’re doing that live feed, we can share that over to our main Houston Chronicle Facebook page and have it right there for people to see.
Leo: Live video’s got no future. That’s crazy talk. Who would be interested in watching live streams for hours at a time? Oh, never mind.
Larry: Every reporter now has to be a photographer and a television personality.
Leo: They call it a predator, right? A producer, editor, host.
Tim: It’s exhausting.
Leo: It is exhausting but this is the future. On the other hand, if you’re a master of it. Look at Donald Trump. I’m being serious. I’m not going to get political here on you but the candidates who will succeed in politics going forward are people who can master social media and mass media. Trumps done both equally well. But I think it really started with Trump’s Twitter feed which for years has been hysterical. Because it’s just crazy, right? Who knew that was the path to the presidency (Laughing).
Tim: Yea, it’s almost horrifying. But I don’t see him shooting his own video, so the Democrats have something on him there at least.
Dwight: Yet, yet.
Tim: Somebody else mentioned earlier about the Model 3 event, why that was a bit of a challenge. We weren’t allowed to bring photographers and we weren’t allowed to bring videographers. We weren’t even allowed to bring proper cameras in so we were shooting everything on—I did, I did sneak in a proper camera to take some pictures later but for the actual drive we could only use our phones. So I am sitting in the car trying to enjoy the experience, take everything in, while also filming everything on my smartphone which isn’t exactly a great experience. But you know, it’s part of the way it is. People want to see things as it happens and ultimately the excitement around that event, it was great to be able to bring people along. The experience, I think that’s the beautiful thing about all these online tools we have these days.
Leo: I feel like there are a lot of people museums, Broadway shows, who haven’t caught up with the future. The best thing anybody can do is to Instagram your thing, right? As long as they don’t disrupt it with a flash or something, having people post an Instagram of the Mona Lisa is not going to diminish the value of the Mona Lisa.
Larry: Remember that big prizefight in Las Vegas and people were putting it on Periscope and there were a bunch of concern because you paid $100 to watch it on pay-per-view. I mean I don’t know, if you were a serious viewer of a prizefight, you’re not going to use it.
Leo: You’re not going to use Periscope.
Larry: Exactly. If you really care about the fight you’re not going to watch in.
Leo: I think people though, I don’t think people understand the value of social media exposure. I’m always shocked when I go to a museum and they say no pictures. I’m like what, I’m going to take a picture, print it and hang it on my wall? What exactly are you trying to sell, right?
Larry: No flash is sometimes important.
Leo: No, I understand. And if you’re in a movie or a Broadway show you don’t want a lot of camera screens up there as people take pictures. We saw Hamilton last week and I would be offended if people had pictures of it but it was so hard for me. I took a picture as I do usually before the show started but I would have loved just one little picture. It would have been so great. Hamilton, though, which is the biggest hit on Broadway right now has absolutely used social media to a T, to perfection. And I think they’re quite smart not to allow cameras, not because they don’t want pictures but because they don’t want the—
Larry: The obstruction.
Leo: Yea, the obstruction. But if you follow Lin Manual Miranda’s Twitter feed, every day a picture of another celebrity backstage with him and the show. I mean really, they’re really smart.
Larry: Well, remember The Grateful Dead. They were the first band that allowed people to record their concerts. And it turned out to be part of the reason for their success was they allowed bootleg tapes as opposed to fighting it. And their fans loved them.
Leo: And lasting success, right?
Leo: They’re still beloved today because you can listen to tapes. So yea, that’s a perfect example.
Larry: And the fans caught some of the audio that the professionals didn’t catch. So they were able to recover some of the concerts that otherwise would never have been memorialized.
Leo: Yep. That’s a lesson. It’s funny because people are slow to learn I guess. Let’s see. There’s a lot of little stuff here shaking down to the bottom of the news tree. How about this one? Let’s wrap up with this on. This is a technology I can get, I can really get behind. This is from the Mirror so I don’t know if I trust it. A man has built a Scarlet Johansson robot to fulfill his childhood dream. And according to the Mirror it’s terrifyingly realistic. Now after hearing Her, the movie with Scarlet Johansson as the voice I do wish I had a Scarlet Johansson operating system. This guy is just a creep. Just a weird—
Dwight: I didn’t think that anyone could ruin Scarlet Johansson for me but this guy has ruined Scarlet Johansson.
Leo: How do you think Scarlet Johansson feels?
Dwight: Oh, man.
Tim: And who thinks that’s scarily realistic? You have a pretty low standard if you think that.
Leo: Look at her hands.
Larry: And also, does she have any rights when it comes to her image being used that way?
Leo: It doesn’t look like her. I think she would lose in court (laughing). He has spent $50,000 dollars on this, starting as you can see from the skeleton working his way up. I mean—
Dwight: And he 3D printed parts. So he’s done a lot of this on the 3D printer.
Leo: I mean I admire his initiative.
Larry: And this is not an April Fool’s joke? We’re sure about that?
Leo: Oh, maybe it is. You know, I might have gotten bit. He said, “When I was a child I liked robots. Why? Because I liked watching animation. All children loved it. There were Transformers. After I grew up I wanted to make one. During this process a lot of people would say things like, ‘Are you stupid? This takes a lot of money. Do you even know how to do it? It’s really hard.’ But now, oh now.” Actually that does kind of look like Scarlet Johansson right there. That one kind of looks like her.
Tim: Until she moves.
Leo: Yea, until she moves (laughing).
Jason: Didn’t they have that problem in Jaws?
Leo: (Laughing) Ladies and gentleman, this is a fitting place to end this conversation. Thank you so much for being here. Tim Stevens, loved your reporting from the Model 3 event. Congratulations to your wife on her car that she’ll be getting in a few years.
Tim: Three to five years, something like that.
Leo: Three to five years. Oh, we didn’t mention bashing Windows. I knew I forget something. I teased it and everything. Anything to say about that?
Tim: I’m a Cygwin user. I don’t see the big deal.
Leo: You know what, this is going to be so much better than Cygwin. In fact, one of the reasons I use a Macintosh and use LINUX is I want a real command line with real power. I use Cygwin and Puddy, right? But they’re ported versions of these apps. What they’ve done, what Microsoft’s done is kind of remarkable with Ubuntu, you’re actually going to get the actual Ubuntu Elf Binaries. I presume that you can compile your own because I presume you’re going to get GCC and all the tools that come on the UNIX program. This is great. This makes me actually consider Windows 10. It’s not LINUX. Don’t get confused. It’s more like Wine, like reverse Wine. So Wine which lets you run Windows programs on LINUX by emulating LINUX calls, translating Windows calls into LINUX calls. This is doing the opposite. It’s translating the calls from the LINUX apps into commands that Windows can respond to.
Dwight: So we’re going to have Ubunto.dll?
Leo: Oh my God, I bet there is come to think of it. I bet there is. But I have to say this is going to be something that will make me much more likely to use Windows. Somebody said, “That’s the April Fool’s joke.” No, it’s serious. Anyway, thank you Tim. Really appreciate it. Theroadshow.com.
Tim: Right. Thank you.
Leo: To follow Tim’s coverage, automotive coverage. What’s the next big automotive event?
Tim: We’ve got a little bit of a break. I think Paris is the next big automotive show but we’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up on the site. We just did a shootout between the Audi S7 and the Tesla Model S as a matter of fact which the winner may surprise you. So that’s on the site right now.
Leo: No, kidding. I’d be very interested. I have an Audi A8 which I really love. Lisa has an S5. But those, the A8’s the care I’ll be trading in for a Model S some year.
Tim: Yea, those are great cars.
Leo: Yea, someday. Someday my X will come. Larry Magid, CBS Radio News and don’t forget larrysworld.com. Connectsafely.org which is a great place for parents to learn about the internet and to make sure that their kids are connecting safely. You’ve done a really, I think you’ve really done a great thing, yea.
Larry: Thanks, Leo. A lot of fun today. Great too, to meet you, Tim, and see as usual, Dwight.
Dwight: Nice to see you, Larry.
Leo: Someday somebody will write a great Windows Vista book.
Larry: Someday. In fact you know they were going to bundle them with the Model X. You can get it free.
Dwight: Larry, you need to come back to Houston so we can have some more barbeque. That was great.
Larry: Barbeque in Houston.
Leo: Now I’m tempted.
Larry: I have to go all the way to Houston.
Leo: There you go. That would be a challenge. See if you can find super chargers along the way.
Larry: I’m sure you can.
Leo: Sure you can.
Dwight: Yea, Interstate 10, they’ve got them all along the interstate.
Leo: There you go. But Texas is a big state, though. That’s a long way to go.
Dwight: But it’s worth it.
Leo: Absolutely. If you’re ever in Houston, look up Dwight Silverman, The Houston Chronicle. Great to have you all here.
Dwight: Great to be here. Thanks, Leo.
Leo: Don’t forget we have a great Triangulation tomorrow, a really special episode with Bill Atkinson, one of the greats in computing joining us.
Larry: I’m going to make a point to watch that.
Larry: That’s terrific.
Leo: Put your questions in the chatroom, we’ll make sure everybody’s questions get answered. 11:00 AM tomorrow Pacific, 2:00 PM Eastern, 1800 UTC. And we do TWiT every Sunday afternoon right after the radio show. About 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern time, 2200 UTC. If you like to watch live, we’d love it if you do. The chatroom is always a big contributor to the show. You can be in there are irc.twit.tv anytime. There’s always somebody in the chatroom. I go in in the middle of the night and there’s people having a nice conversation. Mostly Australians. If you can’t watch live, on demand audio and video is always available for all of our shows at the website twit.tv. But you can also subscribe and all those pod catchers and Stitcher and Slacker and Spotify. We’re on Spotify. Soon we’ll be on Google all access. What do they call it? Google Play Music. They’re going to add podcasts so we’ll be one of the first ones in there. And of course the great TWiT apps on every platform thanks to our independent developers who’ve done some really nice stuff on Apple TV and Roku and iOS and Android and Windows Phone and Windows 10 and all that stuff. Thanks to you for being here. We really appreciate it. And we’ll see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can. Bye bye.
Larry: So can I listen to the show on Alexa? On the Echo?
Leo: You can. It’s hard to get the exact.
Larry: Play Leo Laporte.
Leo: No. That won’t work.
Alexa: Getting your book from Audible. Resuming The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.
Leo: Very close, very close. That’s my new title. Queen Hennessy. That’s me (laughing).
Larry: I told you your life was on Audible!