This Week in Tech 583
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! We have put together a great panel for you today. Rene Ritchie from imore, Iain Thomson from The Register, my buddy Jeff Jarvis from the city University of New York and This Week in Google. We have so much to talk about, the new Google products they just announced, the exploding Note 7. It's getting worse for Yahoo too and Twitter. Seems like nobody wants to buy it! It's all coming up next: on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 583, recorded Sunday, October 9, 2016.
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It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech, the show where we talk about the week's tech news, and I am thrilled to have my buddy Iain Thompson from The Register.co.uk here.
Iain Thomson: Always good!
Leo: Always a pleasure. Iain will be back on Saturday.
Iain: Yes. We're doing Screensavers together.
Leo: Bad news, and I was worried that maybe you wouldn't come back after you learned that the British shop and Peddle has closed.
Iain: It's closed! Where am I going to get my Twixes from? They did great pasties there.
Leo: Pasties means something different in the UK than it does in the United States. Just wanted to let you know. A savory meat pie.
Iain: What are pasties over here?
Leo: Mmm. Don't want to say. Also with us... this is the all international edition today. From Montreal and imore.com, our good friend, Rene Ritchie, a regular on MacBreak weekly. Hi, Rene!
Rene Ritchie: Hi Leo! Welcome back!
Leo: Even though I was all over the world... Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, I was reading iMore the whole time. I had with me an iPhone 7. I had to learn how to use it! There's a lot of changes. Then I got the new Watch OS, the new Apple Watch, and then I'm back to iMore to figure out what band to get, because you're the king of Bands.
Rene: So many, Leo.
Leo: The band they ship, by the way, is the worst band ever. It's a dirty, grey, rubber band.
Rene: I would like a ceramic white band, but I'm figuring the price would double, so I still like that option.
Leo: Even if we're still the same color as the watch, but it's dirty grey! Anyway. That's the ultimate first world problem. This watch was 1300 dollars, but the band is just rubber!
Rene: It's a non-combustible Apple product, Leo.
Leo: The customer doesn't burn? What does burn apparently is the Note 7. Even, and this is terrifying the replacement Note 7s. I really want to emphasize that the investment.. I want to know more. Maybe this isn't an official replacement. This is the first one we heard about, a fire on the Southwest plane wasn't plugged in, it was in a guy's pocket, started to heat up, he pulled it out, threw it on the floor, it burst into flames, burning the carpet of the plane, forcing the evacuation. Fortunately the plane was at the gate. Everybody got off. Right now, the fire department has that phone, but Samsung says we want it, and the consumer products safety commission says we want it. But that's not the last story. There have been two more reported.
Rene: I asked Jerry, right before the show, there have been five in the US and four in Asia. Two of them in the last...
Leo: At this point, you've got to think maybe these are the replacement phones.
Iain: I've spoken to the consumer protection people. Neither of them have had the phones in their hands. It is looking increasingly likely as though they rushed out the replacement and didn't think this one through properly. They're in a whole world of hurt.
Leo: Here's a conspiracy theory. They rushed it out. They got it out in a week, right? They started shipping on the 21st of September. I talked to somebody today on the radio show who had a replacement phone. His theory, it may not be far off, he said this phone doesn't hold a charge very well. I think they changed the firmware, but did not re-tool the phone. That makes sense. To do it that quickly, that phone is just like the iPhone, it's a sealed phone, you have to take out the entire battery, but also the charging assembly. I don't know if they could get replacement phones in that quantity out in a week. Maybe all they did was change the firmware?
Iain: Yeah. There's something deeply fishy going on about this. It was there for the taking. Apple was going to get a lot of flak with the iPhone seven coming out. Dropping the audio drag, not really doing that much else to it. The market was there for them, and we've got to get this out now so we can get to disgruntled Apple users. They seemed to have screwed the pooch on this one.
Leo: It's quite the opposite on this one. They took their refund on the Note 7 and bought iPhone sevens. Anybody who took a replacement phones... by the way, al the US carriers, and I would imagine this is true worldwide, are saying fine. Bring the replacement phone back. We'll make it whole. Either give you a refund or...
Rene: AT&T won't even give a replacement Note 7 anymore. They just pulled the plug.
Leo: Yeah. As I would expect, at this point, how bad is this for Samsung, Rene?
Rene: There's a couple things to pull apart here. One is that we don't know very much about this. Samsung owns 20% of the battery company that made this thing. But batteries are very complicated. Lithium Ion batteries especially are very complicated beast. There are stories about the positive/negative polarity aren't separated, and that was causing an unusual amount of.... there's always some failures, some critical failures. iPhones have occasionally burnt. Almost any phone you can find a few incidents of this happening to. This was happening with alarming regularity, which made them think the chemistry was wrong, and there were rumors that they did rush it to market to beat Apple to the punch here. But it's also possible that what they thought was wrong was not in fact what was wrong with the battery, and whether it was firmware or they switched supplies, because apparently supplies from the other companies that they were pulling from weren't having these incidents but it could be that they failed to identify the proper problem or the problem was much deeper than what they thought it would be because those replacement phones did come to market really really fast. Now, Samsung hasn't said anything, the verge has done a great job. They've gotten photos of the boxes. They've checked the numbers...
Leo: If those Verge phones are accurate, I see no reason not to think so, these were the official replacements.
Rene: One of them, a Samsung person accidentally texted the owner of the phone saying, "What do you want me to do? Try to suppress this?" It sounds like in Korea there are charges of them trying to suppress it in the media as well. That's never the story. It's always the cover up, and that's potentially more explosive than the actual phone incidents.
Iain: I saw that text message, and it was like wow. This is going to make it so much worse, because if they're talking about this and they've managed to let on that they're talking about it in these terms, that's it. They're going to have to do a complete product recall and re-design the phone. People aren't going to trust the brand after this.
Leo: The Note 7 in question here was owned by a fellow from Kentucky. On Tuesday it not only caught fire but sent him to the hospital with smoke inhalation. Samsung knew about this and didn't say anything about this. They asked him if they could take possession of the phone and he said no. The company did pay to have it x-rayed. The damning evidence comes in the form of a text message that he received accidentally from a Samsung representative. "Just now got this! I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it." It's a smoking gun. They clearly knew about it. They knew what the damage would be. This is it for the Note 7, right? That phone is now dead.
Rene: People are capricious. We've seen many examples of people like us will say never again. I've done that with companies that have installed malware on their machine...
Leo: It's not fully rational though. Statistically, even if you had the original Note 7 it was one in 30,000 that you might get a burn.
Iain: Consumer behavior is never rational.
Leo: And who wants to take the change? It's just a phone. I'm never going to take the chance.
Rene: A little girl was playing with one of them, and that's something you never want to have happen.
Leo: People are asking me, and all I can say is "why take the chance?" Get rid of your Note 7. Here's the bigger problem. Should you get a Galaxy S7?
Rene: Get a Note 5 if you want a stylus, if you want a Samsung, get a Galaxy S7, if you want an Android, get a pixel...
Leo: You should feel OK about that. You should worry. We've had lithium ion battery phones for years, and a small number combust.. If a battery gets punctured. The Teslas had this problem too.
Iain: You can't use lithium Ion batteries on a mass market product without once or twice of them going... all it takes is a tiny sliver of metal within the battery itself breaking loose, shorting itself, and starting a fire. It's a very safe tech, but when it goes, it goes boom. It can be quite dangerous in that regard.
Rene: The Note 7 is beyond the norm. You need to take it back.
Leo: By the way, Jeff Jarvis is about to join us as well. We went crazy. When we lost Ben Thompson, we said call everybody you know. I'm thrilled. this is a lot of fun. We'll get Ben another time. He probably either forgot or as has happened once before, his Internet might have gone out. Then he's out of luck.
Rene: Kudos to Jordan Golson for doing a heck of a job reporting. He's been on it all weekend.
Leo: It's a big story for all consumers. When I get calls about something, I get a lot of them on the radio show, people are aware of it, and I think it will have a long term damaging effect on Samsung.
Iain: Just the time when it doesn't need a bad reputation.
Leo: By the way, I have a Samsung clothes washer. Apparently there's a problem there too.
Rene: Bad things will always happen. This could happen to any manufacturer. There but for the grace of God it happens to anybody, because it's this technology, but it's how you handle it that really matters in how you deal with consumers. We've gone back to that incident repeatedly where they could have pulled those bad numbers and tried to play the odds and they pulled everything because they knew their brand was more important. There's concerns over how Samsung was trying to potentially cover up evidence for the washing machines too. That's the part that's going to hurt. Samsung needs to, as a company, get in front of this and do everything it can to make sure customers feel protected, and it's not Samsung protecting themselves.
Iain: Samsung is certainly the worst PR week, Yahoo a close second.
Leo: We're going to get to that in a moment. Let me introduce Jeff Jarvis, he's just joining us. Professor of journalism at the city University of New York.
Jeff Jarvis: Sorry, you got me on Pizza night.
Leo: That looks like wine, Jeff. I hate to tell you that ain't pizza.
Jeff: The Pizza is done, the wine is still there. You'll also have to live with my Hillary swag.
Leo: I knew you'd be wearing your hoodie because you'd been complaining that you bought it in August.
Jeff: I'm back from Bethlehem, PA having registered voters today. So.
Leo: I think you will want us to... maybe not. To be done by the time the debate starts.
Jeff: It's 9 o'clock! It bloody well better be done by then.
Leo: You don't know how long TWiT goes, do you?
Jeff: I do, but that's 2.5 hours from now. I actually feel sympathy for Samsung, because they finally got their act together, they finally put out good products, they finally stopped with all the worst of the drunk wear, they finally did it all, and then the sex tape came out.
Leo: It is Samsung's sex tape, isn't it?
Rene: It's hard to have sympathy given reports in both the US and Korea that they're not doing the right thing.
Leo: The real question, it's clear that nobody is going to buy a Note 7 ever again. Are they out of the phone business though?
Jeff: That would be a shame. They're too big worldwide.
Leo: I know you've already talked about the Google event this week. I'm rapidly coming to the point where I think instead of having five phones, four Android phones and one iPhone, I will be down to two phones. A Google phone and an Apple phone and that will be that! I'm wondering if that isn't the future going forward. Certainly Google with its announcement of the Pixel, its price point and the fact that the Pixel has features no other Android device has. Kind of sounds to me like Google is going after the other handset manufacturers.
Jeff: Leo, here's my question about the pixel, and as usual, I'm neurotic. Talk me through this. I've ordered it and then I cancel it. I don't know. I'm from New York, I'm neurotic. The whole notion that AI is available only on this phone makes no sense to me, because the AI occurs up in the cloud in the big machine, off in Google land.
Leo: And it's the same apparently AI as in Aloe. So if you put the Aloe messenger on the Apple phone...
Jeff: I tried that this week.
Leo: We were Aloeing back and forth this week. I was in Paris. We were aloeing.
Jeff: I used Aloe with Google assist this week. I tried to use Aloe with Google assist this week, and it doesn't work so well. I understand, I want to have Aloe available at a crack with a phone. But what I'm saying is I think Google just pulled a marketing trick and pulled a system into the new phone because it's a marketing thing, and it's not because there's any hardware reason that it should be there.
Leo: there maybe is an argument that they don't want to go wide right away, that they want to slowly roll it out.
Iain: this is why I'm skeptical that Google is going after Samsung with this, because they don't have the infrastructure in place to do the long-term large infrastructure...
Leo: That's the bigger problem, yeah.
Iain: They're not going to be going up against Samsung directly.
Leo: Verizon is going to be selling the Pixel. They're going to sell it in their stores.
Iain: Verizon is a small player outside of the US. It's a pure US sale. Everywhere else it's down to SIM cards, and Verizon is a historical, technological autonomy. It has no further place in the tech sphere. If Google were actually serious about taking on Samsung, there's a whole bunch of other stuff they need rather than just we got this shiny new phone. Samsung's AI...
Leo: The folks who did Siri sold it to Apple have created a new AI, viv.ai, and just sold to Samsung. But everybody has to... Microsoft has Cortana, Google's got Assistant. Apple's got a system. If you want to be a player, Amazon has got Echo, and if you're going to be a player, you've got to have...
Rene: If you want to be a player, you've got to have virtual system. Samsung has been flirting with being their own platform for a long time.
Leo: With Ties in.
Jeff: What is the notion of going from mobile first to AI first?
Leo: Let's take a break, because I want to be timely in our commercials so we can get you out in time for the debate. I also want to spend some time on this Google announcement, because there was a lot to unpick. Great panel today. Jeff Jarvis just joining us.
Jeff: I am honored as ever to be here.
Leo: It's great to have you on this Week in Google. I missed you over the last couple of weeks.
Jeff: I missed you too!
Leo: I followed along your hoodie drama. I'm glad to see you and talk to you. Why would a campaign for president sell a hoodie?
Jeff: This does have a monk look, doesn't it?
Leo: Also with us, from theregister.co.uk, oh, it's hoodie time. Where's your hoodie? Two monks and a Brit walk into a room.
Jeff: Meanwhile from Brexit land.
Iain: Rub it in. You've got another 31 days to call us stupid, and then when President Trump comes in, boots on the other foot.
Leo: Oooh. Also from Montreal, it's the International episode...
Jeff: There's the only guy who could smugly look...
Leo: By the way, I've been getting calls ever since the pre-show from Danish listeners. It was Belgium that didn't have a constitution crisis. No president, but now they do... I was in Belgium. It was running well.
Jeff: Did you have any herring, Leo?
Leo: I avoided the herring like the plague.
Jeff: You wasted it. He was in Stockholm. You had no herring.
Leo: I didn't get to storehouse. But... I could have had herring. I chose otherwise.
Iain: You didn't have that fermented shark stuff. They don't even allow it on aircrafts in Sweden anymore, because if a tin breaks, they've got to steam clean the entire aircraft.
Leo: Our show...
Rene: I was on the plane, Leo, and they made that announcement, and I said, "What's going on?" And this guy said, "It'll burn down your house." Everyone in the cabin started freaking out and it took five minutes to calm everybody down before takeoff.
Leo: What's still unclear though is these phones are still burning, even if they're not charging. What's not clear is they're not burning even if they're not on. If it's burning when it's sitting in your pocket, it doesn't matter if it's on or off. Right?
Jeff: That's going to kill somebody in a house or a car or something.
Iain: It also has a number of parts. Their biggest fear isn't crashing per se, it's a fire in a cross Atlantic specific flight. If that happens, you got to get the plane down as fast as possible. There has never been a recorded instance of an aircraft landing in the sea and coming out in one piece.
Leo: Thanks for jollying up this episode.
Iain: I used to run aviation, and...
Leo: That's interesting. We'll have to get into that. But first, a word from Carbonite our sponsor this hour. Carbonite online backup protects your files on your servers, your system, it's automatic cloud backup and it's a boon for anybody in business. Your data in business is your business, your customer list, your suppliers, so a good backup is vital. How many times have we seen ransomware, hospitals, police departments, businesses, and it is devastating. What was that hospital in LA that couldn't handle patients for three weeks? If they had Carbonite, it would have been over in three minutes. Carbonite online backup does versioning. If you're running Windows, you turn on Windows, even if you get bit by ransomware, even if you get your encrypted files backed up, you could still go back to the pre-encrypted version. You're never at risk. A good backup is the best solution for all kinds of horrific occurrences from Hurricanes to ransomeware. Few things are as bad for businesses downtime, so don't take the risk. Carbonite's back up half a trillion files and counting. More than a million and a half small businesses use Carbonite and right now it's free to try. No credit card needed, just go to carbonite.com, but do use the offer code TWiT, because if you do decide to buy you'll get two months free if you decide to purchase a home for office, for Mac, or for PC. You got to back up, do it right with Carbonite. This Week in Tech... I'm so glad to be back. After about ten days away, I started holding little round table panel discussions.
Rene: I was going to say poor Lisa. Leo, we're at dinner, stop interviewing them.
Leo: It's an addiction... the tech news.
Jeff: What news while you were gone made you go I wish I could talk?
Leo: That's interesting. good question. What happened with Elon Musk?
Rene: Were you here when he detailed his Martian excursion plans?
Leo: I was at sea. I missed that. He's taking us to Mars now, is that the deal?
Rene: He's evacuating a world he doesn't believe is real.. Correct. I would think it's easier to hack it at this point. Don't make a rocket. just hack the code.
Leo: Most of the space experts I know say it is much harder to live on Mars than you think. A lot harder to live on Mars than on Earth even in the worst scenario!
Leo: It's harder to live on Mars than on Winnipeg.
Iain: Yeah, but it's not entirely the point, because one of the things he's worried about is that we are one giant space rock away from extinction at the moment.
Leo: What does he care if it's a simulation? So I did see the rumor that Elon and others believe we are living in a simulation have secretly funded research to break through the Matrix. What would you research?
Rene: I feel like I'm reading a Warren Ellis story where he goes into a fictional universe and brings somebody back.
Leo: Are they trying to find the blue pill? What are they trying to do?
Iain: But if they break out of the game and press reset...
Leo: Game over!
Jeff: Was he born outside the US?
Leo: He was born in South Africa. He came here at a young age. Elon and his brother, who spent a lot of time in a hot tub. Yeah.
Iain: I think he spent a lot of time in a hot tub...
Rene: The line between genius and mad men is very thin and it could go either way.
Leo: I think it's similar to the question. Does God exist? There's no way to prove it.
Jeff: This TWiT is going to go on for five hours now.
Leo: So let's talk about the Google event on Tuesday October 4. This was the thing that bugged me because I get on the plane and I ask if there's Wifi and they say no. Flying British airways!
Rene: I know on air Canada Wifi you can't stream video regardless.
Leo: I'm at sea at four in the morning listening to the debate. It was 4AM, we were in Russia.
Iain: That was Putin hacking your computer.
Leo: It was fun. Remember they always said in the 1960 Nixon/Kennedy debate, the people who watched it had a different opinion. The people who watched it thought Kennedy won, and the people listening thought Nixon won. Because they couldn't see his sweaty upper lip! In this last debate, I think the people on audio had a worse impression because the sniffing was much louder. I'm trying to imagine what is going on? Anyway, not to get political…
Jeff: somebody at the New York times watched with no sound on. It was just the opposite.
Leo: It was just as bad either way.
Rene: I can't tell Alec Baldwin from the real thing any more.
Leo: That was wild. The reason I bring that up, there is a tech angle. T Mobile versus Google Fi. You loved Google Fi in Germany.
Leo: I was really amazed, T Mobile said over the summer at higher speeds, then they extended it. In most cases, my iPhone seven running T Mobile outpaced my 6P running google Fi. I would go back and forth.
Iain: I've used T Mobile in Europe. It's great.
Leo: It was good. In every country, as soon as we got close to the coast, even though we were sailing the baltic, we were near land, enough that I wasn't without Internet a lot of that time.
Jeff: Jason got worried during the Google announcement that it was Verizon only, but I...
Leo: Well, if you've already seen the Android police story that said whatever you do, don't buy it from Verizon. Because... they've already said... they may not update as fast.
Rene: You get media partnerships with Verizon, Leo.
Leo: You know... Google apparently doesn't have the clout Apple does. Verizon will put the Verizon crap on it. Was that Ron Amadio? He said if you like updates, don't buy from Verizon.
Iain: When I first came here, I used Verizon. No. I never go for Verizon, but the whole point about getting a Pixel is you get the software earlier, you get the security updates earlier. If you're relying on Verizon to push that through, then don't bother.
Jeff: Breaking news. Mark Zuckerberg is doing Facebook live barbecuing in his backyard, right now!
Leo: Can we pull that up? We're going to pause this version of TWiT. By the way, thank you for joining us the day before Canadian Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in Canada!
Rene: We have it early because the frost, the harvest, we have to get it all done first.
Leo: Iain asked an interesting question... What exactly are you thankful for?
Rene: It's the same thing you're thankful for in America. It's the Harvest festival...
Leo: In America we're thankful that the first thanksgiving was... Squanto and the Indians kept the pilgrims from starving to death by bringing Squash.
Iain: And in exchange you killed them all.
Rene: I'm sure it's similar here. They just had a regular harvest festival anyway. I'm just surprised we don't have Easter a month late, because you have to wait for it to defrost.
Leo: It's pumpkin spice time.
Iain: It is never pumpkin spice time. I tried it once, and it is the food of the devil. It should be thrown away instantly.
Leo: You can't just try pumpkin spice. You have to try it in something.
Iain: Pumpkin spice is like mugging for the tongue.
Rene: did you order, Leo? Did you order a Pixel?
Leo: I did. So we got off the plane, and it was already sold out. I wanted it until October 20th.
Rene: Which one?
Leo: All of them. If you wanted to get the fastest. You had to get it right away, it's similar to an Apple debut. I want to get it early November. I didn't want the blue. What do you want a blue phone for? I had to have 128 gigs. I couldn't get the XL in that size, so I had to get the littler one. First of all, I haven't had a five inch phone since Blackberry. I'm curious what the battery life will be.
Jeff: It'll charge to seven hours in fifteen minutes.
Leo: I was blown away by that.
Iain: I'm kind of skeptical about the fast charge thing because when I was testing out the 5X and the 6P, you could get 50% in 25 minutes or so, but that last 15% you had to leave the damn thing plugged in for another half hour.
Leo: this just in from Mark Zuckerberg:
Mark Zuckerberg: This is my weekend thing. I'm doing my triathlon and running training, and then...
Leo: He's got a big green egg. Wow. Mark Zuckerberg.
Jeff: How many people are watching on TWiT?
Leo: Fewer than are watching Mark. 73,7000 people are watching Mark wax on about his barbecue style.
Mark: Hopefully soon, I had a good time. Lagos was amazing, the entrepreneurial energy there...
Leo: Right when he was in Lagos, the Elon thing blew up. You know it does have... it looks like a wire coming out of it?
Iain: This guy is a billionaire? I've got one of those.
Jeff: I think this is huge news. We just discovered something. It's not a grey t shirt. It's purple. This is weekend...
Leo: What I'm curious about. If it's just Mark sitting in his yard... he's got a laptop and a camera, or there might be 25 technicians, including Colleen Kelly, who works for Facebook streaming video. He's got thousands of people watching him.
Iain: The presentation he gave the other week of how he and his wife were going to kill the world of all diseases was, I admire his plug, but for goodness' sake get a sense of hubris.
Leo: Philosophical question. Does intense fame and unimaginable wealth make you crazy, or do you have to be crazy to get...?
Iain: I think for the majority of people in the tech sphere, they are very smart, committed people who happen to become incredibly wealthy. With a few exceptions. there are complete psychos who got wealthy quickly. Not mentioning anyone. Oracle.
Leo: I'm just thinking about Mark and Elon particularly.
Rene: Or Sergei and Larry with their party bus.
Leo: Sergei and Larry. Were they like that before and this somehow facilitated their ability?
Rene: I had 30 billion dollars in my 20's I would be dead now. I can dive under this ocean. I remember listening to an interview and he said he has devoted his life to rebuilding buildings with eco friendliness because...
Leo: Very good. He'd end up like Dad.
Jeff: There was a picture of Mark and his wife sitting on a couch, there was a whiteboard behind him. I said, do you have a whiteboard in your hosue?
Leo: Of course they do. I'd be tempted to get the white board paint and paint all the walls.
Jeff: I love that.
Leo: This has become a very diversive TWiT, because I'm happy to be back with my friends talking. There's all this stuff I want to talk about, and so much happened. Pixel phone. here was the big one for me. When I got down and started watching our coverage with Jason and also the videos reading the stories. Sticker shock-o-rama! What the what? This is not the Nexus.
Rene: It's supposed to let me pay, Leo. That was the deal.
Jeff: The price in Canada and Australia sounds great.
Leo: That makes Apple prices sound reasonable.
Iain: Very few things make Apple prices reasonable. But I do take your point. They are going for the premium market, and they figure they can do it. People will buy the Google brand. People are willing to pay silly money on the Apple brand because it's got proven design chops and sex appeal. Ooh that's a Google phone, that's sexy. It doesn't work that way.
Leo: As much as I like the Nexus... They've never had the fit and finish of a single iPhone. Especially the latter day iPhones like the seven.. these things are...
Rene: They were meant to be developer phones.
Jeff: I love the phone... but...
Leo: If you look at an iPhone 7, here's the jet black iPhone seven, this is.... it feels like it was some craftsman.
Jeff: Here's the issue with the Pixel. I have to believe there is no hardware tied to the AI thing, it's a temporary thing. Not a big deal. Number two the camera.
Leo: It's the best camera... do you trust them, Rene?
Rene: For a couple reasons. Matthew explained this really well the other day. One is that they make products, so it's hard to have a scale. The other thing, they give them the scores, they're generational so they don't really change. There's a bunch of cameras that came out two years ago that are obviously worse but still score high. Scale isn't adjusted. It's unclear... I believe the Pixel has an outstanding camera, there's a whole bunch of smarts in it. What is the differential there? I think they don't do a great job in explaining it. I'll wait for the Niantec review.
Leo: also, there's more than optics involved. The stuff Apple does as software to those images is pretty remarkable. I came back. I took an iPhone seven on the trip specifically the seven plus to take a lot of pictures. I took a very high end camera, many of the images are more pleasing from the iPhone.
Rene: They did a good job with the noise. They tuned the noise to look like old style film, so even when you're in low light, it doesn't look like the best digital photo in the world, but it's got that incredible humanistic feeling that feels like in the old days when you took a film photo and it's not quite the right light or speed but you feel the memory and they've been very good at tapping into the emotional presence of the photo.
Leo: We shouldn't score this at 89, but at least say it's a decent camera.
Jeff: Let's be really honest. Huge advantage over the 6P.
Jeff: Again, that's a marketing ploy.
Leo: I would like to know what's the difference between OK Google and the Google assistant. What is the difference.
Jeff: They're arguing this is the only phone with a system, because why? Because they chose to make it that, not because there is any hardware connection that makes it possible.
Rene: They have limited resources and they were able to do the tight integration on this phone first and maybe they're going to back it to other phones...
Leo: Google home, they also announced a competitor.
Jeff: what's that tight integration mean?
Leo: I think it's software only, Jeff. You might make the case that Google didn't want to roll it out.
Rene: If they can build it right into the OS the way Siri is built into the OS, and with the existing phones they'd have to go back and add it to the... it's imminently possible, it's just their timelines are different.
Jeff: But yeah, I've got a Google phone, I've got a 6P. For them to add back in the AI capability of this, I've not heard any reason why...
Leo: I have to think this is the only differentiator that they could offer on this phone.
Jeff: why spend this fortune? I get tempted. This is my neurosis. I do this every time on these shows. I've ordered it immediately, then I turn around and say am I wasting a thousand dollars? Should I cancel this sucker?
Rene: My thing is also I don't want an iPhone. I love getting this phone.
Leo: That's a windows phone! How retro.
Rene: I try to get one of each platform. But I like to gravitate towards the more extreme.
Leo: Are you sad that Blackberry has finally thrown in the towel and says we're not going to make hardware any more?
Rene: I'm sad as a Canadian. Very few companies had their own operating systems, and Canada had two. They had VBOS and Q and X and Blackberry famously bought Q and X and all the big brands from Q and X work for Apple. That's great. But it doesn't really help Canada, so as a Canadian, it's indescribable loss to our technology.
Iain: It really had to happen, they missed the market ten years ago and they never got it back.
Leo: It really is a morality tale, when you look at both Microsoft and Blackberry. Both underestimated in 2007 what the iPhone was going to do to the phone business, the cellphone business. Both of them poo pood it and waited, and not waited long. Microsoft got its first new Windows Phone platform three years later, it was still just enough too late that developers ignored it. Blackberry was even later, and the first few things they did like the Blackberry storm were so horrible...
Rene: The tablet, they didn't build phones for a year so they could get that tablet out. Even Microsoft, they didn't realize the consumer phone, if they made an X box phone that ran Halo and put it on every store shelf, maybe they'd have a shot at consumer market. But everything they're branding they're screaming please do not buy me.
Iain: At least Blackberry did something. Everybody talks about how Apple invented the Smartphone. Rubbish. Blackberry made the Smartphone essential, Apple made it look pretty. Microsoft is tring to do a Mobile operating system, and it hasn't worked. All the way along the line, they're locked into that particular mindset. So... I mourn the loss of Blackberry, but at least they did something with the market.
Rene: Blackberry grew up from a pager where Apple just wanted to put up a computer. We have Nix boxes in our pockets now. Everybody thought Microsoft would be everywhere now. We're all walking around using Android or iPhone and you have...
Leo: Has the worm turned or what? All right. I want to talk. Pixel, it'll be out... starts shipping October 20. If you ordered it today you wouldn't get it until the following month. Very expensive. Doesn't seem to have a lot of differentiating features.
Rene: I want to see the camera system, Leo. There's no OIS, but they say it does a good job in software.
Leo: You saw the video stabilization looked remarkable.
Rene: How much crop was that? Usually when you do electronic stabilization you crop it a lot, so I want to see what that result is like. Also, what are you getting for those six hundred...?
Leo: I'm thinking about the event, when they talked about video stabilization, they said, "A gyroscope measures the motion of the phone to the second." There is hardware stabilization for video in there.
Rene: The lens is not moving. when the lens is moving, you still get the full frame of that lens. I don't know what happens...
Leo: They did not mention whether that does anything for stills, if it's the same technology or no technology at all. We'll just have to wait and see. We'll also have to see about the unlimited thing. Somebody called the radio show and said I talked to Google. The deal was, if you're using a pixel phone, you have unlimited original quality storage of the J pegs.
Iain: If you're sticking to that standard signal at 16 megapixel resolution then fine. If you have your phone setting higher, and you want to store those raw images, then it goes against your 15 terabyte storage limit.
Leo: thank you for clarifying. I thought that's not the impression I got. in fact, it's Jpegs only.
Iain: They can talk about it all they like, but the reality of the situation is slightly different.
Leo: Another differentiator gone. I'm not sure this Pixel phone is going to do very well.
Jeff: I can see a re-boxing coming up in my future.
Iain: I'm hopefully going to be getting the review on the 18th. The one thing that does worry me about the camera, and this is something... I've done years living with the 5X and the auliophogic coating on the 5X degenerates within about six months. That also went for the lens as well, so I was getting some very smeary photos, unless I took great care of the lens.
Leo: Rene, case or no on the jet black iPhone?
Rene: I don't have cases on mine, because I like the looks a lot. I have the seven in a jet black and a seven plus in a matte black.
Iain: Always get a case for your smartphone. Think how much that cost, and think how much that cost. It's like wearing a condom, you just do it.
Rene: The Millennium Falcon had no case, Leo.
Leo: didn't it look beautiful?
Jeff: It's a junky piece of clear plastic. Or it's some color junky thing.
Leo: I like the 6P. You know what .Jeff? Don't even unbox it. Send it away. Get rid of it. Cancel.
Rene: Can we agree that the age of hitting on bezels is over? There was such hate that Apple still had bezels, and now Google is saying bezels are cool.
Leo: You know who doesn't have bezels? Samsung. Their phones explode. So.... bezels equal exploding phones. Post hoc or something. Some wagon, I wish I could find this headline. Google announces copies of iPhone, Amazon, Echo, Roku, Gear VR, and Ero.
Rene: Famously, there were music players before the iPod, there were phones before the iPhone. There were tablets before the iPad. There's this thing called copy forward. When you hear great artists steal, it doesn't mean they do a pixel by pixel, atom by atom copy, but you take the best of it and carry it forward, because humans shouldn't have to learn different ways to use all these things. There are good ways of using these things and you build on that and take it forward. You can argue that the Industrial design of the Pixel or the utility of Google home isn't significant enough to drive it forward, but for some people being able to log into their iPhone account is exactly the functionality they want in that device, so I think we have to judge them not on their me-toitness, but on the actual execution of the devices.
Leo: What I do see, and I think is interesting is Google might be taking a page from Apple. Apple has really built their business on a closed ecosystem where everything interacts with everything else and strongly incensed the consumer to buy all Apple. Your watch can copy and paste from your computer to your phone, it all works together seamlessly in theory. Google in the past has been more open. Now, with this new range of products, incidentally no mention of Chromebooks or Android wear...or this duel operating system... nevertheless, it looks like Google... forget copying those devices, is copying the idea of a closed ecosystem. If you have a Google phone, you're going to want the Google home because it's the same system, it knows the same things about you. That kind of thing.
Iain: They already have that to a point. I've been trying to switch my wife from Android to IOS, and it's just not happening, because she doesn't use Gmail, she uses an alternative webmail provider. So she's got to set that up.
Leo: That's a good point, so if you have a Gmail account, it makes a huge amount more sense.
Iain: It's kind of like Apple/Microsoft. Microsoft went commodity, Apple went total... it works really well if you've got all the bits working in sequence. If Google hasn't, then the entire thing falls apart and it becomes an expensive time. So....
Leo: How does it work with Google apps, Jeff?
Jeff: I am fearing that greatly.
Leo: You know what I'm worried about? It only works with one Google account currently.
Jeff: Here's the question. Now Google app is now called G spot... it's impossible to find.
Rene: Companies tend to control what makes them anti-fragment, what makes their competitors money. Companies are only as open as what they want to disrupt.
Leo: Voice of wisdom there, you're right.
Rene: So Google needs to be open because they're starting a device. it requires scale, at the customer experience it becomes more integrated because you can take those loyal customers and reward them with a greater value that comes with... buying the next thing, like you said. It's greater and greater value. The interesting thing with the home product is Apple hasn't made one, they've been experimenting with it for years because Siri is a personal assistant and not a multi personal assistant. If you're at home and read me my text messages, how does Siri know yours or Lisa's or your kids? Where's my calendar appointment? Which account gets that calendar appointment? They don't ever want to leak data. Your secretary is listening to your information or your partner is listening to it. So until you solve the multi personal assistant problem.
Leo: Amazon Echo does allow me to switch between Amazon accounts. The only reason I use that at all is for Audible. I can say Google read to me. Amazon read to me and it will read to me from my account. I can say switch accounts.
Jeff: Here's my question about G spot. Should... I'm just going to call it that now. Should I abandon apps and go ahead and port my email into a regular gmail account? And give up?
Rene: I still use it. It always feel slike Gmail gets everything before apps does.
Leo: Of course, we use Google apps at TWiT. We have a big corporate account, everybody has it. If you're @twit.tv, that's Google apps. I refuse to do it. I have a TWit.tv address, I don't use it. I use my Gmail address. I use Gmail. I rarely use the company account because I want all the features of Google, right?
Iain: I tend to keep working privately... I keep my Gmail account private.
Leo: This is my private...
Iain: there is that.
Leo: I think Google is going to stumble here with Google home. I think this is going to be a difficult ecosystem for them to penetrate. I don't think anybody wants multiple devices on their mantel piece and multiple commands and different... I just think it's not going to work.
Iain: This three in one Wifi setup they've got... how many routers do they need for goodness' sake?
Leo: We have a sponsor called Ero that does the same thing. Ubiquity has done this for years. It was very difficult for a normal user. It's spread out. This has actually become a huge problem, even in apartments, because of congestion. There's a million, right? But also distances. I do think there are better ways. It's about time we revolutionized... I'm waiting for Apple to get off its duff. It's been sitting on their airport extreme for how many years now?
Rene: This has been... when you start experimenting with atoms, I was about to say that with Google Home. Google is at its best when they put everything behind it. When they say we're going to do Google Home, we'll own it, we'll put it on the market. We'll make it great. Google is at their worst when they're like, "here's this wave thing. Maybe it won't exist three months from now."
Rene: Apple's thing is the airport express, should it just be a router? Should it be a mesh router? Should it download your iCloud information? All your updates onto your local server so you don't have to wait for that anymore? How do we do Multi person Siri? How do we do beam forming properly. They're going to answer all these questions, best case, they put out an iPhone, worst case they put out an Apple watch and it's much more coherent. They tend to do that experimenting internally. Sometimes they do it too much, and things like MacBooks or routers are language in the meantime.
Leo: Let's take a break. We'll have more Rene Ritchie from iMore, from the Register.co.uk. I always say that so they can find it.
Iain: We're sticking with the .co.uk url because it's traditional that way.
Leo: It's cute.
Iain: Don't worry. We'll be coming back for this country once you've screwed it up enough...
Jeff: We will welcome you with open arms. Go in through the north, you and Rene can come down and bait us.
Leo: I'm thinking a queen and a Prime Minister looks pretty good right now. Jeff Jarvis is also here from City University of New York. buzzmachine.com is his blog. Stop it! Stop the free plugs! He apparently is with her. And we'll have more in just a moment. Our show to you today brought to you by GoToMeeting. If you are having phone conferences, and I think any business you're going to have phone conferences, both with clients and with colleagues, especially now that businesses are distributed all over the world, I want to recommend you try something else. It's just as good as a phone conference, in fact it could start as a phone conference but it becomes something more very quickly. It's GoToMeeting, the high tech leader. You can start GoToMeeting very easily, they have a plug in, you click the link, send the link to your client or colleague, it's very easy even if they've never used it. They click the link, the software installs, all of a sudden, they're up and running and it can just be a phone bridge just like your regular conference bridge. But then, here's when the magic starts. Let me show you what we're talking about. You turn on screen share and suddenly they're seeing your powerpoint presentation. Maybe you're working together on a document, you can collaborate, then even better, you say I'd like to see how you feel about all this. Turn on your camera, suddenly you've got crystal clear HD video, it's like being in the same room, on the same page. It is so much better, whether it's a sales demo or presentation. GoToMeeting, every moment counts with GoToMeeting, nobody likes meetings, but if they can be more productive, more efficient, get the job done better without travel, that's got to be good. Just ask, 9/10 users say they close deals more than 20% faster. Don't phone it in, use GoToMeeting for your free 30 day trial. Go to GoToMeeting.com and click on the button that says try it free. GoToMeeting.com; try it today. We thank them so much for their support of This Week in Tech.
So, just because Google doesn't mention Chrome Books doesn't mean they're not going to.... Iain's sitting here with a pixel.
Iain: I've got a pixel and I'm a little concerned that...
Leo: Jeff likes his pixel.
Iain: I think they're taking their eye a little bit off the ball when it comes to...
Jeff: I think you're right. I'm also using the Pixel C, which I love.
Leo: That's orphaned.
Rene: Do you have Linux on your Chromebook, Leo?
Leo: Yea. Sometimes. Sometimes not. Crouton makes it very easy. You know what the problem is, it turns off the secure boot and I really like the security of Chromebooks. And I kind of like that idea of I'm just using it as it is. Now that I can put Android on there—have you guys been playing with the Android store?
Iain Thomson: Playing about it. I know you been about security. I take my Chromebook to DEFCON, another hacking conference.
Leo: Really? You feel safe?
Iain: Yea, I lock it down.
Leo: Do you power wash it when you get home?
Iain: I basically scrub the inside of the thing and start from scratch but that's just what you do.
Rene: I put mine in Carbonite.
Jeff: It takes about 2 minutes and 30 seconds right?
Leo: Well it's fast. It's easy. I mean now I recommend every time I talk to normal people, I say, "Get a Chromebook. Forget this Windows, Mac. Just get a Chromebook."
Leo: I've come 180 degrees.
Iain: Yea, I don't go that far. You can't put a game on a Chromebook.
Leo: There are people that need Windows or Mac. They know who they are. They're gamers or they're rocket ship designers.
Rene: They own Final Cut licenses.
Leo: Or they're editing video or their photographs. They know that and they're probably more willing to take on the responsibility of a general purpose operating system. You need to be a security expert. You need to kind of be willing to mess with it when it stops working right because it's such a complex beast. A Chromebook is for normal people. And if you don't know you need a general purpose-
Jeff: It's just a hassle.
Leo: If you know you don't need a general purpose operating system, you should be getting a Chromebook. You should only get Windows—Windows used to be the default. Oh, you're going to get a computer, you're going to get Windows, right? Now I think the Chromebook is the default. I think it's become—it outsold Macintosh last quarter.
Jeff: Well you know what bothers me is that—well, all right. So they don't want to come out with a new Chromebook for 9 months to a year. But you still sell the old ones.
Leo: Well they stopped, didn't they?
Jeff: If mine breaks, I'm screwed.
Iain: For better money, Chromebooks I think they got a schedule up. But it looks like they're only going to be supported for about 3, 3 and a half years. Now Google may change on that when people suddenly start finding dead machines in their hands.
Leo: So what's Andromeda? And what does this mean for Chromebook, Chrome OS (laughing)?
Iain: That was a really heavy sigh.
Rene: It's a call sign for people who want to associate things to.
Leo: It's just rumors that it's some sort of hybrid OS, right?
Jeff: We've had that promise before that they were finally going to bring together Android and Chromebooks, Chrome OS and they haven't.
Iain: Well they showed a demo of it at IO and they showed a demo of firing up Android Apps within the Chrome OS.
Jeff: Andromeda is a true combination by rumor of the 2 OSs.
Rene: Sounds farfetched.
Jeff: No, it's been guessed for a long time. And reportedly it's being tested on Nexus 9s. But my fear is, I know Google's adamant. It was 2 years ago when I sat down with them about the Google +, may it rest in peace. I made some complaints about some things I wanted. 3 years ago maybe now. Of things I wanted in the web version. They said, "Web? Are you kidding me? We don't do anything with that anymore. We just do mobile. That's all we do is mobile."
Jeff: My fear is they're going to abandon any idea of anything bigger than a phone.
Leo: This is Google's biggest problem, the abandonment problem. You can never trust Google, whether it's atoms, Rene, or bits, to stick with anything.
Leo: And this Pixel thing just exacerbates the problem because we're floating in Limbo. They made a very expensive Chromebook. People who use it love it. The story is internally this is, you know, people inside Google love it. But they have not—now, because Googles Chrome OS and Chrome Browser and Android are open source projects, what happens is code leaks out and that's why we know about Andromeda. We also in the code see traces of a new Pixel code named Bison. So you can start to see that in the code base. But I think I'd be very nervous.
Rene: I tend to think when you hear stories about iOS and Mac OS for example, or when you hear stories about Chrome and Android, these are two very, very different things with very different run time experiences, security models and all these things. And it's often, I think often we see, you know, it makes sense to us because all we see is a front. And for an individual, the interface is the application. So we see these front ends and we think, "Oh, I could just throw this app on here." But you know, that's now how the plumbing works. And I think if there is an Andromeda or there is a successor to all these operating systems, it's something that comes next. It's what we did when we launched mobile to begin with. They think it over, they think the best from both angles and they build a platform from the drivers back on up that does all the things they want it to do instead of some sort of hodgepodge, Frankenstein OS that will really make nobody happy and probably a security nightmare.
Leo: It's hard to do. And I'm not sure I exactly understand the business rationale for doing it either.
Rene: It makes you understand why Amazon makes you write the press-release first before you make the product (laughing).
Leo: Right. Jeff Bezos very famously, when you present something you write the press release to present it. Google's autonomous car just passed 2 million miles. That's a lot of miles. I was talking on a radio show, I was doing a radio show in San Francisco this week and somebody called in and said, "Look how unreliable software is. Are you going to really trust your life to software?" And I had to point out, well so far these-
Iain: To taxi drivers this could be. On sort of hyped up on coffee or booze or pills.
Leo: The real software's wetware, yea. So the first million miles took 6 years. The next million, 16 months.
Rene: I still want to see it like in Canada or in Russia or somewhere where there's precipitation, to see if it thinks rain is a wall.
Iain: It was interesting. We were offered a ride in the Google car but they said we can't write about it if we do take you on. You can drive about it, but you can't write about it.
Leo: You can experience it, but you can't tell anybody.
Iain: Yea, but it's like we're journalists so we've got to write about it so no thank you.
Leo: What's the point? Yea.
Jeff: I don't get it. Lots of people have written about it.
Iain: Yea. Yea, I know, it's just we're not Google's flavor of the month over the last couple of years, but I mean the self-driving car is all very good but nobody has yet worked out—ok, supposing they do get it perfected. California has now said all autonomous cars can drive in a limited fashion on their roads. A good 5-10 years down the line, when we've got autonomous trucks, autonomous taxis and the rest of it, what are the truck drivers and the taxi drivers and the school bus drivers going to do? They're not going to be able to retrain for jobs at Google. So you've just basically cut about 5 million people out of the economy. So if you're a truck driver or a taxi driver, I wouldn't advise your kids to get into your profession.
Leo: Yea, no you're—kids? What about you, 10 years from now? This is trouble.
Rene: Unless you need someone in those trucks to make sure they can grab the wheel when the software throws it back at the human because it just doesn't know what to do.
Leo: Well and I should point out that—
Rene: Coyote, ah!
Leo: While that's terrible news for people who drive and there's a lot of them, it doesn't mean it's not going to happen. Technology happens.
Iain: No, it absolutely will happen. I just think that nobody's actually talking about what happens then. You know I mean—
Rene: There was a story about Uber just basically telling people they're going to go driverless and they're hiring all these people as interim flesh bags until they get the driverless technology.
Leo: You know if you were a wonderful footman, you were great at a horse and a buggy operation, you're out of work too and—
Rene: Wooden toy makers.
Iain: This is the way it goes but when we had the first big wave of industrialization, it caused social chaos for 50 years. You had revolutions across Europe and—
Leo: You don't think that's what's happening right now?
Jeff: It's happening right now.
Iain: It's getting very, very close to that.
Leo: You don't think that's exactly what you're seeing?
Jeff: The story that I'm seeing often now is, and this is going to have a big effect on all of us around technology, is that the impact on jobs is not, not, not, immigrants to all those who are voting for Donald Trump, it is technology.
Leo: But whatever the reason, that's the appeal of Donald Trump, or a Brexit is why—we are dying here. Help us out.
Jeff: When the enemy becomes technology, what happens then? Look at what happens—
Leo: Then blood happens.
Jeff: Technology in Europe, and going against technology. That's a different story.
Leo: Then blood happens.
Jeff: Yes. Yes.
Iain: Yea, and then things—but failed, which is the whole thing. And people who get—
Leo: Oh, ultimately this will fail. There's not a question. It won't happen unless we're reduced to the stone age, it's going to happen.
Iain: Yea, but what worries me is that writing blogs do not build chip fabs, you know? If we're going to go through 20 or 30 year period of complete anarchy, then we're losing out on a big opportunity because if we just thought a little bit about it before hand, we could avoid all that and get the benefit of this.
Leo: Ah, I like it. So who's going to do that? Let me just vote for that person.
Iain: Ha ha. I was just going to say, let's have politicians come up with that. Yea, so much not going to happen.
Leo: Can I vote for that person? Who's that person?
Iain: There's some interesting research—
Leo: And what would you do? Is it training? What would you do?
Iain: We already make enough food to feed everybody on the planet.
Leo: Well that's what Mark Andreesen says is, "Hey, everything's just going to become effectively cheap or free so it doesn't matter if you have a job."
Iain: Yea, there's some merit to that, but I have my doubts about it.
Leo: I think that's a terrible—yea.
Rene: Gene Roddenberry did that 50 years ago.
Leo: Is that a Star Trek episode?
Rene: Well even an entire society was based on no money, right? People pursued either careers or leisure activities to satisfy their own inner workings.
Leo: Oh, boy, now I'm depressed.
Iain: Hey, wait until the presidential debate. Then you can get really depressed.
Rene: Think of baby pandas, Leo. Just think about hugging baby pandas.
Leo: You know it's really—
Jeff: Yea, they even ruined cats for us now.
Leo: (Laughing) Pussy cats. It's really interesting—
Jeff: You said it. I didn't.
Leo: It's really interesting as I've traveled the last couple of weeks, the reluctance—I saw it here in the states. People are very reluctant to talk about the election, whether you're—I think mostly because you're afraid you'll get in a fistfight because you don't know. But even when we were travelling around, in the past people have, tour guides or people you meet on the street might have asked you about the political scene in the United States. Nobody does anymore. They don't say, "Are you, do you, are you going to vote? Who are you— "
Jeff: Well I bring it up. I bring it up. My new talks, foreign visitors, writer talks in Europe and around the world, talks in Mexico especially, and I apologize for what's happening. I get applause. It's the easiest applause.
Leo: Yea, they want you to break the ice but I think they are, just as I am, very nervous about bringing it up at all. If you break the ice, that's different.
Jeff: They'll talk about it then. But then you have a split marriage, no?
Leo: Not that split (laughing). Not that split, my friend.
Iain: I don't know, if you want polite phrase, if you want polite conversation, you don't bring up politics or religion. I guess it's the same the world over.
Jeff: Or in America, money. I've been canvassing in Pennsylvania for the last—every weekend I go over to Pennsylvania and this is the last weekend I could have registered. Last weekend I was in, I think it was Allentown, and that was yesterday. I was in Eastern last weekend. And I drove up to a house, the address they gave me, and a very nice woman answers the door. And she says, "Well, I'm for Trump. And my husband's for Clinton."
Jeff: She says, "My kids are also split, Trump and Clinton." I said, "I don't want to be at your Thanksgiving."
Leo: Well what you do is you don't talk about politics.
Jeff: Oh, no, no, no.
Leo: And that's why we don't talk about politics here.
Jeff: I know. I know we don't. I know.
Leo: No, it's hard not to and it's hard not to. And for the next 30 days this is all that's going to occupy—
Rene: It's another 30 days?
Iain: Ah, 30 days, yea. My advice is drink heavily.
Jeff: There are legitimate tech angles galore here.
Leo: Oh, there's tons.
Jeff: The use of Twitter is absolutely fascinating.
Leo: Let's talk about Twitter. I want to take a break. But let's talk about Twitter because Twitter had some really bad news this week (laughing). I think the price might drop low enough that I can buy it. And you know what? If I bought Twitter I would put them out of business. But we'll talk about that in a second. First—you know I'm not a fan. Used to be. Used to be a fan. I used to be the person with the most followers on Twitter. I'll tell you how long ago that was. I was number one on Twitter with 5,000 followers. No, it was 5,000 followers. And then it was me and Kevin Rose. And Kevin just surpassed me. And then this guy named Ashton Kutcher came along.
Rene: A + K.
Leo: And that, that was it. He got to a million and that was it. I was an also ran. But in my heyday, yea, it was probably like 2008. I think it was 2008.
Jeff: Those were the days.
Leo: Those were the days.
Jeff: Those were the days, my friend.
Leo: That's going to be my epitaph. I used to be number 1 on Twitter.
Iain: This was all fields when I was a boy.
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Leo: Jeff Jarvis is here. Love having you, Jeff. It's nice to see you. I missed you. Also my good friend Iain Thompson from The Register. All my good friends. And from iMore.com, Rene Ritchie. We had scheduled Ben Thompson. I think he either forgot or lost his connection. We'll get him back on another time.
Jeff: At the risk of doing more breaking news in politics—
Leo: What else?
Jeff: And I hesitate to mention this but 11 minutes ago, Trump was live on Facebook Live with Clinton accusers.
Leo: I have to say one thing about Donald Trump is he is a master of social media.
Jeff: An evil master at that.
Leo: Well, it depends on how you feel about him. If you like him then he's a brilliant master but he's mastered Twitter. It's interesting to see him use Facebook now.
Iain: It has turned round and bit him on the bum a bit because all of these things he's been talking about for the last 2 or 3 years are now being played back and used against him.
Iain: You know there was a record online and he can't deny it.
Leo: Well that's the nature of the world, whether you said it on camera, on tape—
Iain: That's why you never say anything online that you can't show to your family.
Leo: Yea, I mean anytime we want to talk about anything, we do it in person, not over recorded medium or email. If you want privacy, the only way to do it is to go out in a park naked.
Rene: Disassemble your wireless phone.
Leo: Yea. Leave your phone behind and stand in the middle of a field.
Jeff: Or in a clown costume.
Rene: No, the satellites can see you.
Leo: Ok, this is—clowns are interesting. We'll get to Twitter in a second. Clowns are interesting. So I don't think there's really been that many incidents by clowns.
Jeff: There have not been.
Leo: But because there's all these fake news sites now, you cannot believe anything you read on the internet anymore. Hundreds of stories about clown sightings, scary clowns, axes, clowns grabbing children and people can't tell when they see this on Facebook or Twitter if it's real or not. They believe it and so everybody in the world—I was at the gym yesterday in spin class and they couldn't stop talking about clowns.
Iain: I blame Stephen King.
Leo: I said, "Guys—"
Rene: Just be throwing Galaxy Notes at them.
Leo: "This is not a widespread problem. These are fake news stories." But no one knows the difference anymore.
Jeff: Many, many, many, many, many years ago I was a midnight rewrite guy at the Chicago Tribune and there was a story of a loose kangaroo in Chicago. It ended up on the BBC. Like we were reading reports about this, right? It turns out that's a regular thing. There are loose kangaroos, and they get into boxing matches with people. And this is a story—it's a very Snopes-y thing long before Snopes. And clowns—
Leo: And it never happened? It was never a kangaroo?
Jeff: I don't think so, no.
Rene: You have alligators in your sewers, Jeff.
Jeff: You have alligators in sewers, you have clowns in the woods. The great thing about the clown story is indeed clowns do creep me and freak me out.
Leo: Oh, yea, yea.
Jeff: Oh, they're awful.
Leo: This is—there's a guy at UC Berkley, I can't remember his name, Jeff Denis or something, who specializes in sick joke cycles. He's a sociologist. And his theory is that you know, there were the elephant jokes. His theory is these jokes are an outlet for taboo subjects. He says the elephant jokes are actually racist. But you would say things—it happened during the civil rights era that became very popular. It was an escape valve for some deep, existential angst people were feeling as they tell these jokes. Or the dead baby cycle. There were all these dead baby jokes right about Roe v. Wade when abortion started becoming a big topic in the national psyche and it was a way of diffusing these. And I think the clowns, there's something going on in the psyche that it's diffusing something. Guess what? Just a theory.
Rene: What are the fake clowns?
Iain: Who has a clown in their psyche at the moment?
Leo: Our psyches are burning right now.
Rene: You weren't here for this, Leo, but Andy covered a story on MacBreak about how this video is telling people they can just drill a hole in their iPhone to get the headphone jack back.
Iain: Oh, that was hilarious.
Leo: Nobody fell for that. Did anybody fall for that?
Rene: Oh, the year before where you could use your microwave to charge it. The year before that you could throw it in a sink.
Leo: Yea, but did anybody drill a hole in their iPhone? No.
Rene: Nobody knows because the comments could be as fake as the videos.
Leo: I would be shocked.
Iain: Well, I wouldn't be but I'm used to dealing with human stupidity and it's just—
Leo: How stupid do you have to be to drill a hole in your iPhone? Seriously.
Jeff: It lets the pressure out.
Leo: Nobody did that. That's like clowns in the woods. I think it's just an urban legend I think. Anyway, Twitter. So Twitter's for sale. We agree that Twitter's for sale.
Rene: It's option B. Option B.
Leo: Apparently there's been a battle in the border. We've got to get Nick Bilton in here because he's the only guy who really knows what's going down at Twitter. But there's a battle in the boardroom. Jeff, Jack Dorsey does not want to sell Twitter. He wants to continue to be CEO. Ed Williams, one of its founders says, "Yea, it's time. We've got to sell this thing before it all collapses in on us."
Rene: Before there's nothing left to sell.
Leo: Yea. So that started the rumors. Twitter's stock price went up, right, because that could be good.
Jeff: Well they haven't said it publicly.
Leo: Right. And then—
Jeff: Publicly they have to look at options.
Leo: Google says, "Yea, no." And who else? Microsoft says—well the big one was Disney. Apple says, "Yea, no." The big one then, the stock really went up, Disney. Yea, Disney says, "Yea, no."
Iain: We had a competition in the office of who was going to say no next. Bernie Sanders says he won't buy Twitter next as well.
Leo: So Salesforce is the last man standing. Mark Benioff—
Iain: Never going to happen.
Leo: But apparently, all of the shareholders are writing to Mark saying, "What, are you crazy?" And you can't—I mean you can kind of—
Rene: It doesn't matter. It's good enough.
Leo: Do you kind of ignore the shareholders but not really? And apparently the institutional shareholders including Fidelity who has double digit percentage of stock in Salesforce is saying, "Yea, no. Mark? No."
Rene: It's a perfect match for Google's purchase.
Leo: So now Twitter's tanking in the stock market.
Rene: But it's never been more relevant in terms of popular culture.
Leo: Well this is Twitter in a nutshell. At the same time that it's horrific and horrible and disgusting, it's also unbelievably fascinating.
Jeff: It's changing the world.
Leo: You know, after the debate, here I am in the middle of nowhere, I got no connection to anything but I'm able to scan Twitter to see what people are saying. It's really the best way to kind of—
Iain: If you want the raw data feed of what's going on—
Leo: But I question how good it is because at most there's 300 million users. Probably more than half of those, probably only 100 million are real people. And only half of that really are active. So it's a tiny sample. But it's a fascinating sample.
Rene: It's an incredibly engaged sample.
Leo: And it's interesting people. It's journalists and psychos.
Iain: Yea, but at the same time—
Iain: But the economic reality can't be ignored. It has never made a profit. It will never make a profit in this current format. The only value that it has in in the data that's collected about its users. And that's not worth $30 billion.
Leo: No, it's not. No. Even at a discounted price, they were talking about, what was it, $42-dollars per user, which is a fraction of what Facebook is worth per user—
Leo: It's still not worth it.
Iain: And Facebook has so much more useful stuff on users.
Leo: Google's probably the only company that could actually use Twitter's information.
Rene: They would sort of be like a custodian. They would buy it as a foster child and sort of put it in one wing.
Jeff: But the brand damage to them—
Leo: That's the problem.
Jeff: Then every shmucky thing that's said, Twitter gets blamed for.
Leo: That's the problem. Nobody wants to own Twitter. Nobody wants to own Twitter because nobody wants the Twitter stank to rub off on them.
Jeff: Nobody wants the unedited voice of the people.
Rene: I don't know. It's particularly good at pulling out the worst of the worst of a lot of people as well. I don't think it's an accurate sampling of us because there's some pretty bad humanity on there.
Leo: By the way, John Ledger has just tweeted that T-Mobile has suspended sales of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7. All sales suspended.
Iain: Out a burst of caution.
Leo: Yea, well, joining Verizon.
Rene: And AT&T.
Jeff: They've got to do a full Chipotle.
Leo: Full Chipotle (laughing).
Iain: (Laughing) I'm going to steal that. Spot on.
Leo: Time for the full Chipotle. So whether Twitter—now I looked, ok. So 4chan's struggling, right? 4chan, the original meme factory. Poole sold it. Chris Poole sold it 9 months ago.
Jeff: Who bought it? Did we ever know?
Leo: Pardon me?
Jeff: For how much?
Leo: It can't have been much. Moot never made any money on it. Sold it. Now the guy who owns it's saying, "We're not making—we're using our shirt here. We're running out of money." Because nobody wants an ad on 4chan.
Iain: No. Well, ok, nobody's selling anything legal when it's put out on 4chan.
Leo: Is—I feel like Twitter and Reddit are the next dominos to fall in this. And here's the common thread. Anonymity.
Leo: What we've learned is while anonymity has some good reasons for it, it also allows the worst of us.
Rene: Well that was the famous joke, right? Anonymity plus internet access plus broadcast equals, I don't know I think it was Penny Arcade did that famous cartoon.
Leo: And I agree that we should have anonymity but I'm rethinking this idea. I think you know, part of it was I had this utopian notion that the internet, true democracy would give everybody a voice and that could only be for the good. And then I found out that a very, very tiny percentage of people are horrible and the problem is, their voices amplify to the point where—what's the book say?
Jeff: I'm buying books now about civility.
Leo: Civility is—you know, I hate to admit it but maybe Andrew Keen was right. Andrew, remember?
Jeff: Oh, please, wash your mouth out.
Leo: He wrote the book, the Cult of the Amateur.
Leo: He was arguing that there was a reason why the elites run things.
Jeff: Whoa, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. He's arguing in the defense of elites and institutions.
Leo: Right. And I'm starting to think he's not far wrong.
Jeff: No. No, no, no. The problem is this, Leo. All right. Pardon me. Drinking game time. I happen to have a glass of wine right here. So from Guttenberg, pardon me, on, right, I had to write a piece recently about Martin Luther. And if we are in the year 1450 was the press, 1475 was where we are now versus the web, right. Martin Luther was born in 1483. And he didn't start publishing until about 1505. We're—our Martin Luther isn't even born yet. So it's too soon to say, "Oh, forget all the future. Let's hold on to the old institutions. Let's keep the aristocracy." No. Right but we haven't created the world's replacements. In the Arab Spring, we tore down. We didn't build up. Donald Trump and the Republican Party. They tore down. They haven't built up. This is the era of tearing down. Now Martin Luther did start a new—he tore down the Catholic Church but he built a new church. And we're not yet at that stage where we're building what's new. So I do think there is a call to civility, there is a call to rethinking the notion of building civilization on the net. But that does not mean that we kill the future and retain the past. That ain't working.
Leo: So elitism is part of the past that you do want to discard.
Jeff: Well, that's what—I mean the great paradox of Trump, I'm not getting political, don't worry, but here's a guy with golden toilets whose entire appeal is down with the elites.
Leo: What if I say instead of elites, meritocracy?
Jeff: No, I think that's wrong because merit's not a bad thing. People aren't against true merit I don't think. Unearned merit, born merit—
Leo: Oh, I agree with you but highly educated—
Jeff: Like my British friend next to you.
Leo: (Laughing) Hey, he's got a posh accent.
Iain: Hey listen, social mobility in this country is worse than it is in the UK at the moment.
Iain: That's how big a problem you've got.
Iain: The entrenchment of certain—
Leo: I think Iain's right.
Iain: For the last 5 or 6 years, The London School of Economics been doing a study on this, it's worse over here. I never thought I'd see that. That's one of the reason's I came here.
Rene: The rejection of science in North America is appalling. But I think Leo had a point where we're not mature enough to be able to have civilization and anonymity at the same time because when you're anonymous you quickly forget about the repercussions of your actions. You're almost drunk. You know, you're power crazy on the anonymity. You think suddenly all your darker angels can come out and play without any fear of repercussion. So I think anonymity definitely has value like you said but when you get a lot of people together into groups, we have not shown the responsibility needed for it.
Jeff: So here's the big question I always wonder. Does openness necessarily breed trolls? Is there an opportunity to have openness in a way that can be civil?
Leo: Do you equate openness with anonymity? I think anonymity breeds trolls.
Jeff: No, I disagree because I can name plenty of a-holes by name.
Leo: Yea, ok, maybe. I mean but at least—
Jeff: Anonymity is not it. I think that openness allows anyone to do anything and you know I celebrate that as a rule. But how—
Rene: Is there an equal and opposite, like equal and opposite people that are just so biased that they're jerks as well? I think there's probably both ends we just don't see it as much.
Jeff: The other thing is, the freedom of speech is also the freedom to edit. And this is where people—and I think Facebook has done some really boneheaded things like killing the napalm photo, not realizing the pornography in that photo was not—
Leo: Yea, but that was a mechanical thing that they reversed right away.
Jeff: That was boneheaded, right?
Leo: Yea but it was mechanical and they reversed it.
Jeff: But it was still their right. At some level it is their right to decide what does and does not go on their platform.
Rene: If you are a publisher, you have editing power.
Jeff: Yes, and that is a mode of freedom of speech too. So that, you know, you can be Fortune and anything goes. You can be Reddit and almost anything goes. And those are places where you can go and do that. But if you're Facebook or Twitter, you choose not to be that. Now Facebook chooses not to be that. You're right, Leo, because of identity, it enables that process. But it's not—there are plenty of jerks on Facebook.
Leo: I don't know that it rises to the same level, though, does it?
Jeff: No, not the same level. It's an aid but it's not a solution.
Leo: I feel like Facebook and originally Google + because of their real names policy has really avoided a lot of the—
Jeff: Google's policy was to give the user control.
Leo: Oh, maybe.
Rene: And Twitter also I think the frustration was that they didn't do things when it seemed like they could. Like for example, you could give people absolute freedom of speech on their own timeline but then the minute that they put an @ mention in it, not have that same level of freedom because now you're involving other people and it just looks like—there's probably 7 or 8 different solutions. And they look like they implemented none of them. And I think that's where they—they're like you can argue that on Instagram or Facebook.
Leo: So, ok, assuming there is a technological solution to Twitter's pollution problem, I'll call it a pollution problem, right? You've got a stream with some really great stuff but there's chunks floating in it and we'd like to get the chunks out. Assuming there is a solution, who should buy Twitter?
Rene: Some oligarch.
Jeff: Donald Trump. I was on Twitter just now, a guy named Mike Sheridan said that Donald Trump buys Twitter. Because he needs it.
Rene: He can't afford it. I mean I think that's the—
Jeff: Oh, by the time all this is done he may be able to. Certainly not a brand—that's why Disney never made sense.
Leo: Now Disney has to keep a clean image ultimately.
Leo: And frankly so does Apple and Google.
Iain: I think what's going to happen is some hedge fund or private equity group will buy up Twitter, think "We can make a profit out of this." Fuss about with the actual format of the platform and kill it.
Rene: Who were the ones that bought Palm? The people who bought Palm could buy Twitter.
Iain: Yea, but we don't all have Leo running HP in the same way we had with Palm. You know, people with enough money to buy it now is probably the private equity and hedge fund crowds.
Leo: That actually makes sense. And they've got the hubris to think that they can fix it.
Leo: If I were one of those guys, the first thing I would do is canvass the smartest minds. What is the solution? What is the fix? What is the filtration system? And how would it work? And could we implement that? Because you could polish this turn and turn it into something of great value. And there's no—I'm not disagreeing. There's huge value in Twitter.
Iain: Yea, I mean it's an iconic brand and a lot of people love it.
Leo: Not just the brand, the actual content is amazing.
Iain: Yea, people actually love it. They use it on a regular basis. That's fine. But it's making money out of it. And they've had years now to try to make money out of it and they can't do it.
Jeff: I think you're right. But you're both right. Because Leo is saying there's an insight here which you know—with Evan it was always that Blogger was an insight that changed the world. Blogger itself was never a good business. Twitter was going to change the world. Never a good business. But let's say that Twitter gets bought by a hedge fund and ruined or it gets bought by Verizon and gets ruined. But where does that insight go? If you're going to build something new, knowing what we know about Twitter, where would you build it?
Leo: Ah, that's interesting. And probably with no anonymity. Leave anonymity to the other guys. You see, anonymity is troubling. At least it's hard to say it's—
Jeff: There are 2 layers. There's a truly verified layer that has Google + like control and yea, then maybe a crap layer.
Leo: Twitter's moved in that direction, right, and then they have, you say—
Jeff: Ah, barely.
Leo: Yea but, yea, exactly. Yea.
Iain: I don't know. I think there is a role for anonymity in that it gives people a way that they can speak out. And the initial idea behind it was good in that you judge people on what they said in the past and you made your judgements about that person that way. But it's broken down for multiple reasons. You can make as many anonymous accounts as you like and be as nasty as you like.
Leo: I should point out by the way that we have a very wonderful chatroom that embraces anonymity. You can use a handle. You are totally anonymous in there. And the reason it works is we have constant moderation and cultivation and we pay attention to it. And that's true of any anonymous. The same things with forums. Every forum's gone through that period of if you ignore it the weeds grow and pretty soon nobody wants to be there.
Rene: We have dozens and dozens of moderators in our forums.
Leo: Moderation though is the solution. Obviously, Twitter can't do that.
Iain: Yea, no, we moderate our own forums and it's just like, yea. You need to have someone in there saying, "No, that's stupid. Don't do it."
Leo: And it's not as simple as just kicking people out. It's actually working with people, cultivating people, talking to people.
Rene: Making them part of the community.
Leo: Educating them, embracing them.
Rene: It puts value into the communication platform.
Jeff: So there's breaking news on two fronts.
Leo: Uh oh. Now what?
Jeff: Number one, Billy Bush just got suspended.
Leo: Good. I don't think he should come to work tomorrow.
Jeff: And number two, Zuckerberg is still friends with him.
Jeff: There's smoke rising.
Leo: I've got to back to this.
Rene: No one told me life was gonna be this way. A job's a job.
Jeff: He has 122,000 followers right now live.
Rene: Is he going to counter program the debates? Are they going to be able to choose between Zuckerberg's barbeque and the debates?
Leo: Oh, that's interesting.
Jeff: I like that, yea.
Leo: Or what about watching with Mark?
Rene: That would be good.
Mark Zuckerberg: Um. Oh. I've been drinking some Anchor Steam recently.
Male on Video: Yea, I get local beer.
Mark: All right there you go. Now I think that's probably where—
Jeff: I think I saw Sam Lessin in the photo a minute ago.
Leo: Is that Sam?
Jeff: No, I think Sam was in it a minute ago.
Leo: Sam worked at Facebook but no longer does.
Rene: He owns his own startup.
Jeff: I think I did. I could be wrong. I saw somebody go by real quick.
Leo: Yea, Sam's a great guy. What's Mark drinking? What's that? What's he drinking?
Iain: Looks like San Pellegrino.
Mark: Sophia, what kinds of sides are we having? You know, I'm a purist. When I smoke meat, we just—no, I'm the meat chef.
Female on Video: Brussel sprouts.
Mark: Pricilla's made Brussel sprouts and broccoli.
Female on Video: Broccoli.
Leo: That's Sam.
Jeff: There's Sam.
Mark: Max helped make carrots.
Leo: I want to go to that party.
Iain: I'm just waiting for somebody to not realize the camera's turned on. Someone's that wankered on too many Anchor Steams and just like—
Rene: Well if there's someone behind that fence—what are the neighbors doing right now? Are they peeking over there?
Leo: No, no, no. He bought the neighborhood, remember?
Rene: Oh, that's right, yea.
Leo: That fence is purely aesthetic (laughing). It's a Hollywood fence. Wow. 123,000 people watching Wayne's World basically.
Leo: It makes me sad that I built this studio, that I did—this is crazy talk.
Iain: Party on, Zuck.
Leo: Party on, Zuck. Party on, Zuck.
Jeff: I wonder too, I wonder if it's a Mevo camera?
Leo: Look. Oh, he's got, he's got emotional symbols floating. Maybe it's only when it's little you get that. Emotional, you know the little—
Rene: Oh, there's some angry faces.
Leo: Uh oh. Sad. It's over. Don't be sad that it's over. Be happy that it happened, ladies and gentlemen.
Rene: Yea, celebrate that it existed.
Rene: That you got to be part of that brief moment in history.
Leo: You know, I wasn't here all week. I don't know what happened. But fortunately they created a small movie to dramatize the events of last week at TWiT. Let's all watch together.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT.
Sam Machkovech: This is the first Gears of War for the Xbox One console. If you have an Xbox One and you want a good online shooter, cool. If you've got a Windows 10 PC that's pretty powerful, definitely get this.
Jason Howell: Yea, but it's not a VR, so I mean.
Narrator: TWiT Live Specials.
Jason: Hello everyone! I'm Jason Howell and I'm here at Oculus Connect 3. Largely this event feels like a coming out party for the Oculus Touch Controller. It really showcased how much that can enhance these experiences and move into the next dimension.
Narrator: All About Android.
Ron Richards: Today marks the big event in San Francisco where Google made many announcements of new hardware. But one of the most important things that came out of it I think was the marketing strategy around the term Made by Google but they made it very, very clear that like the Pixel phones which we'll talk about as well as the other items, were designed by Google.
Jerry Hildenbrand: I've wanted an iPhone that runs Android forever and today I have one.
Leo: Wow, that's interesting.
Florence Ion: I didn't know that about you, Jerry.
Narrator: The New Screen Savers.
Leo: The PlayStation VR, it comes out next week.
Jason Snell: This is bizarre but yea, it's actually really good, the head tracking. I couldn't get to the hot dog. The freezer was under this table so I couldn't get to it.
Leo: I saw you.
Jason Snell: So I just defaced the whole—the whole place is ruined. I'm never getting that job back.
Narrator: TWiT. Tell your boss it's job related.
Leo: It is, it is. Coming up, a great week ahead. Megan Morrone, whatcha working on?
Megan Morrone: Hey, thanks, Leo. Here are a few things that we will be keeping a close eye on in the coming week. PlayStation VR officially launches in the US this week on October 13th. It's planned for a midnight release and many Game Stops and Best Buy stores will be open. 8 physical games will be available that day as well. If you're willing to wait, the Oculus Touch is available to pre-order this week on October 10th and will be available for the Rift on December 6th for $199-dollars. Facebook at Work launces this week, an event in London on Monday, October 10th. This is the social network's business version of what is arguably the best tool man has ever invented to waste time. October 11th is also Ada Lovelace Day, an international holiday held every 2nd Tuesday in October to help spread the good news of Women in STEM fields. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: Thank you, Megan Morrone. Tech News Today is your daily dose of Tech News every Monday through Friday. Catch it at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern, 2300 UTC or watch it on demand at our website TWiT.tv or wherever you get your podcasts. By the way, there's another way you can get your daily dose of tech news. We are now part of the Amazon Echo. Flash briefing. They opened up the Flash Briefing to a lot more outlets. They invited us. We were thrilled to participate. So if you have an Amazon Echo, open the app and search for TWiT in the Flash Briefing settings and add us. We make new content every day. It will be stuff from this show, The New Screen Savers, TNT and other shows as well. Great way to start your morning. Just a short hit of TWiT on your Amazon Echo. Search for it on your Alexa app. Jeff Jarvis is here from CUNY. He is of course a regular on This Week in Google. Will you be here on Wednesday for TWiG?
Jeff: Yes, I will. Now that you're finally back.
Leo: Thrilled to be back. I had a kind of a Jeff Jarvis travel experience all over the world.
Jeff: Oh, no, I don't go on luxury ships. How were the ships?
Leo: We were on the Regent Seven Seas Cruise. It was very nice. Good food, great service, nice people.
Jeff: How would you compare that to the river thing? How the river thing versus the ocean?
Leo: The nice thing about the river thing is it doesn't rock.
Leo: The motion of the ocean is unpredictable and we had a couple of rocky days. Don't bother me but they don't bother me but if they bother you, you probably shouldn't go on a cruise (laughing). And then the other thing about river boats is they're slow and pretty much everywhere you go you're in town. A cruise, you could be out of town. Although this was a small enough ship that we were in really good locations everywhere. It was pretty fun.
Rene: Looks fantastic.
Leo: It was. Had a great time. Vacations—
Rene: You are a spiffy dresser, Leo.
Leo: You like the pink poncho? Is that what you're talking about?
Rene: No, the suits, the tuxes. I mean.
Leo: Hey when you're living the life of Riley you've got to dress the part.
Rene: It was almost an Ian Fleming novel.
Leo: (Laughing). Bond. Also from The Register, theregister.co.uk, my good friend, Iain Thomson. Always great to have you hear.
Iain: Always good.
Leo: And from iMore.com, Rene Ritchie. Let's talk about Yahoo next, ok? Fire up your Yahoo.
Jeff: I don't know if I can stand the tragedy over the pathos.
Leo: It's so said, isn't it? I feel like Twitter's moving in that way too kind of.
Rene: We had to write an article about how to get off the—because you can't just delete your account.
Leo: I have that question as a matter of fact. Good. All right. I want to talk about. I was—here I am on a boat with very little internet connectivity, desperately trying to delete my Yahoo account. Quick. I decided not to. I turned on two factor authentication. I figured that'd be enough.
Jeff: They deleted me years ago. I didn't use it for a while, they killed the account.
Leo: Yea, remember, they used to do that?
Jeff: But now I'm happy.
Rene: It was Steve Gibson who actually made me kind of nervous about it because he was saying like you forget, these are digital artifacts and you forget what's tied to your Yahoo account. What kind of emails it was used for and what data is in all the email you've got accumulated there in terms of other accounts and other access points. And I stopped to think about it and I said—and I did exactly what he said. I made a pseudo-random blob and I did not save it to one password. And it's just, it's empty now and I'm not getting back into it.
Iain: Yea, we did a quick poll around the office. There were 6 of us there. Everyone had a Yahoo account. Only two people have actually used it for anything in the last year. But when you think—you're right. When you think about what's actually on there from all the years past, it's kind of scary stuff and Yahoo's really screwed the pooch on this one in a very bad way.
Leo: We'll explain in moments. But first a work from Audible.com. One thing I did bring, and I will always bring anytime I'm on a long plane flight or a cruise, I bring books but I don't bring stacks of paper, of dead trees. I don't even bring a Kindle. I bring my audiobooks because I have the Audible app on all my devices. And I brought 12 audio books. And I ended up buying another one because we were in Russia and right about when we were in Russia, I started hearing about this new book about the Romanovs. Oh, what a story that is. 300 years of crazy (laughing). It makes you feel a lot better about modern times when you realize how crazy it was in the old days. I'll tell you about that in a second but let me first tell you about how you can get it for free at Audible.com. Audible is the internet bookstore for audio books. I've been a member, subscriber for 16 years, since the year 2000 when I had the horrific commute. It saved my life. I've read hundreds of books that I probably wouldn't have read had I not had an Audible account. And I just love it. Fiction, non-fiction, science fiction. I listen to Audible all the time. Now, if you go right now to Audible.com/twit2, that's Audible.com/twit and the number 2, we're going to hook you up with the platinum account. That's a two book a month subscription. It also includes the daily digest of The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal so you can get your news that way too. Audible really is great audio content of all kinds. Great courses are on there too so you can take the best college courses in the world as part of your Audible subscription which is great. You're going to be able to pick 2 books. Now the subscription is free for the first 30 days. So pick 2 books. Girl on the Train—oh, before you see the movie, read the book. What a great book that is. Get those two books. Listen. Cancel any time in the first 30 days. You'll pay nothing. But you get to keep those books forever so that's kind of nice. Audible is just like a regular bookstore where those books are yours and you can download them anytime. I have a lot of older books too that I have from Audible that I wanted to re-listen to. So, go to Audible.com/twit2. The Romanovs. Great book. Started of course in the 1613 I think it was when the first Romanov Czar or Russia and ended with Nicholas, Czar Nicholas who was killed by the Bolsheviks. What a great story. 1613-1918. And when you listen though, it does make you feel a little bit better about modern times. As bad as it is—
Iain: (Laughing) At least we haven't sunk that low.
Leo: We have not sunk that low. There has been some progress. It's a great book. It is a fascinating book and really, a lot of people are celebrating it as a great history of the Russian Czars. You can get that book and something else. Audible.com/twit2. 2 books are waiting for you for free. Get them. Get them.
Leo: Ah, Yahoo. Oh my God, now it's getting so bad that Verizon has said, "Can we get a billion dollars back? A billion dollars back because we are buying damaged goods." So first there was the breach. That's the first thing that happened. Every, it was hundreds of millions of accounts, right?
Iain: 500 million by some accounts.
Leo: The biggest breach of data ever. I did not get to hear Security Now. Where the—I presume this stuff was hashed at least, right?
Iain: Passwords were hashed. Some security questions were hashed. But only some of them.
Rene: Well I think Steve was explaining that they would migrate you to a better hash if you re-logged in but many people never re-logged in so they were stuck on the old hash.
Leo: And weak hashes are easily broken.
Leo: In fact, if you have a bad password, even good hashes are easily broken. 500 million accounts. So that was the 1st think I heard when I was away.
Jeff: How long? In fact, we didn't know—
Iain: Yea, it was 2 years.
Jeff: They didn't know for how long and then we didn't know for how long.
Leo: At least 4 years. So if you ever had a Yahoo account ever, you're screwed.
Rene: Which includes Flickr because people don't think about it.
Leo: Flickr, right. Right. By the way, Yahoo knew about it in August.
Leo: Didn't say anything.
Jeff: Well first, why did it take so long for Yahoo to know that it existed? Is there a legitimate excuse for that or not?
Rene: It sounded like they didn't care about security at a very deep corporate level. People brought it up to them internally and they were told it was not a priority to them.
Jeff: Unless they were doing it on the behalf of the NSA and the CIA and the FBI, but that's another story.
Iain: Some Yahoo staffers actually did go to the New York Times over this and they were, within the company they're known as the Paranoids. And apparently Alex Stamos who was hired as CSO went head to head with Mayer on this one.
Leo: Stamos is smart and good and I like Alex.
Iain: That's when—the reason he left is apparently because they weren't taking security seriously and then the news about the hook up with the insurgent agencies came in and that looks even more like—
Leo: Well, let's stick with this breach because Yahoo at least knew about it in August and failed to inform Verizon until a couple of weeks ago, long after the sale. So they're in deep dodo.
Rene: You can be complicit and incompetent. It's important to realize you can be both things.
Leo: They, I mean they had a responsibility to disclose this to the potential buyers. They did not.
Jeff: That dodo has a dollar figure attached to it.
Leo: Significant. Maybe a billion dollars. At least that's what Verizon wants back.
Iain: They could well queer the whole sale. I mean Verizon—my read on talking to people at Verizon is a lot of people at Verizon aren't that keen on this in the first place and this could give them a deal get-out.
Leo: Yea. They absolutely could walk away at this point.
Jeff: Either way, Verizon gets a better deal.
Jeff: Verizon gets out or gets it a hell of a lot cheaper.
Leo: I don't know what the fee for abandoning the deal is. It's probably significant.
Jeff: Well unless there's cause.
Leo: If there's cause that might go away.
Rene: Get out of jail free card.
Jeff: Oh, yea. Wouldn't that—brand value, especially now when giving over data to 3rd parties, because when transfer a company, you have to transfer all the personal data to what basically is a 3rd party, that is the purchaser. And that's always a big issue as is. And now all that data is suspect or has about it now these cooties.
Leo: Very disappointing because apparently Marissa Mayer knew about it. That's extremely disappointing.
Iain: It is—as you say, it's a combination of incompetence and whatever else. But I mean it's interesting—
Leo: Malfeasance would be the world.
Rene: Yea, bad things happen. It's how the company reacts to it is important. And we've seen other companies react to these sorts of things and this is again, just an abysmal reaction in that you can't walk away from. Something bad happens, you do the best thing possible. You treat your customers great. You try to solve their problem and people sort of respect that. But if something bad happens and you make it worse, then the damage is extreme.
Leo: Yea. Then, a week later we find out that Yahoo complied with the Federal Request—
Iain: Oh, did more than comply.
Leo: Well it's getting worse. So, apparently this was approved by the secret court, the FISA court, but it probably shouldn't have been because it was clearly a phishing expedition, apparently Yahoo went through all Yahoo mail it looks like, looking for a signature for a malefactor that the feds wanted. Now of course when you get one of these letters you can't tell anybody about it and you pretty much have to comply. Although many companies including Twitter and Facebook and Apple have fought these as hard as they can. There's no evidence that Yahoo fought it. Furthermore—
Iain: They did in the past.
Leo: They have in the past.
Iain: In the past they fought against National Security Letters and they lost. And it looks at this point that they got another one of these things and said, "Oh, let's just get it done."
Leo: They spent a lot of money fighting these and they—
Rene: Instead of opening the kimono, let's just take it off. We won't get in as much trouble.
Leo: We're going to lose. Why battle? But then they made it—and this is unclear. So Reuters had this original story but now there's further evidence that—initially we thought, oh they just modified a spam filter to do a little bit more straining. No. Apparently the wrote something akin to a rootkit. Now I'm unclear on this. Did Steve talk about this on Tuesday? I don't know.
Rene: I don't recall.
Leo: I think not because this broke afterwards. So we'll talk about it on Security Now Tuesday.
Jeff: That will be fascinating.
Iain: At the moment there's only one person who knows the truth of this. And that's Alex Stamos and he's not talking. Probably very good legal reasons. I'm assuming he got a gagging clause the second he left Yahoo. But he's the only person at this point in time who can tell us exactly what happened because he was in charge of the service when this apparently took place. So until we hear from him, everything else is speculation at the moment.
Leo: According to Motherboard, Yahoo engineers didn't merely modify spam, they built a tool, installed a rootkit on Yahoo's mail servers without telling anybody. Stamos and his security team found it and thought they'd been hacked. And then were told, "Oh, no, no, no, no. That's us. We did that on purpose." And it was buggy and poorly designed and as a result exposed 300 million Yahoo users themselves to hacking.
Rene: That's what Google and Apple tell you that they will never code against their own code, their own base because you expose it to far more than just the people that want an access point to it.
Leo: We should say these are anonymous sources, supposedly former Yahoo employees who told Motherboard this so this is unconfirmed at this point but that is, that is—
Iain: It was interesting because when we got in contact with Google and Facebook and they both said exactly the same thing. Hell no, there's no way we would do this even if we were instructed to by the government. Now they've got deeper pockets than Yahoo and they could probably afford to fight it. But this is just death for Yahoo's brand. I mean bad enough to lose half a billion email accounts.
Jeff: What brand?
Iain: Well, ok, it still had some.
Rene: You hear that. You hear that from rank and file too. Like people at Apple or Google will tell you that they would rather quit than ever do this sort of thing. It's—
Leo: Well all they have to do is find one guy who says, "Ah, that's an interesting challenge. I'll write that." Maybe not so good a programmer as it turns out? But anyway it was apparently done. And according to Motherboard this software would give the NSA or the FBI or whoever requested this effectively unlimited, undetectable access to, get this, all Yahoo users' data.
Jeff: So not just email. Anything.
Rene: Thank you, Yahoo.
Jeff: Who's still using Yahoo? Sorry, Rene.
Rene: No I was just saying, you don't really hear the tech aficionados using Yahoo you know that much anymore so I wonder who, how helpful is this data?
Leo: But as you point out, everybody had a Yahoo account.
Rene: Yea, absolutely. Very true.
Iain: And also it's not that—it's older users. But older users sometimes have power. Who is the, was it John Brennen who was found to have an AOL account that he was still using.
Jeff: I still, I have somebody just last week who had a Yahoo account. I couldn't believe it.
Rene: And some of the phishing attacks, they used security words they got of Wikipedia to hack into politicians email on Yahoo and AOL and services like that.
Leo: So and this may also explain why there's—you know, if you're going to get phished, it's going to be because you have a Yahoo mail account. It has always been the worst for security. And I never could quite understand how. Well, maybe now we know. Let me ask you this, Rene. How do you delete your Yahoo account? There's not button.
Rene: Yea, there's not button. Which is again appalling in this day and age because you want to give people the ultimate control over their data. But what you can do is you can go in, and again, I'm cribbing this from Steve, so correct me, Steve, if I've got anything wrong. You go in and you just delete everything. You just burn it all down. You delete all the mail. If you really care about it, you can download it to an offline service that you run on your own, theoretically completely sealed computer system at home. But then you just delete what's on Yahoo mail, you delete anything else that you have there. And then you just change the password to some big random blob that you don't write down anywhere and that will keep you from accessing the account again and anyone else, like 64 pseudo-random or 32 pseudo-random characters. You'll be safe for years to come, theoretically.
Leo: Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Maybe.
Iain: There is no security beyond the grave.
Jeff: Well, let's not forget, before Marissa Mayer, long back, Yahoo was the company that gave information to the Chinese government and the man spent 10 years in prison because of it. This was their era. This is when they got a lot of rightful crap for that and even after that, this company allowed this. That's what's doubly shocking for me.
Leo: Very sad. Well, there you have it. It's going to be an interesting Security Now on Tuesday, let's put it that way. Hey, thank you, guys. What a great show. I feel like we kind of cobbled it together. We knew we were going to have Iain.
Jeff: Oh, so we're merely cobbles here?
Leo: No, no.
Jeff: Nobody had to know, Leo. You could have said, "Oh, well our guests are all here."
Leo: I like to be honest but I think spontaneous TWiTs are often the best TWiTs. And of course it just happens that some of our best—
Jeff: I always love being at the big table on Thanksgiving.
Rene: Like wise.
Leo: There you go. That's a good way to think of it. It's Canadian Thanksgiving so it's a half of a big table.
Rene: That was very polite, Leo.
Leo: But it's very polite.
Iain: And with a good sense of humor.
Leo: Thank you for taking some time on your Thanksgiving Eve for Rene. We knew we could get Rene because he's always working. Those 100,000 word reviews don't write themselves. What are you working on right now?
Rene: We're actually doing a little bit of, we did all the iPhone reviews, all the Apple Watch reviews. So now we're finishing them out too because iOS 10 and Watch OS 3 and TV OS 10 and Mac OS Sierra all landed at the same time. So we had to rewrite so many things in there. We have a fantastic team now. We're still slogging away through all that.
Leo: I just found, my iMac, my 2012 iMac died and thanks to Glen who's visiting from Australia, he found out—or actually was it Scooter X? Found out that there was a recall on the 3TB Fusion Drives in those 2012 iMacs. I happen to have one of them. And apparently that's what happened. It just died while I was gone. So there's always something going on in the world.
Rene: Technology barely works at the best of times, Leo.
Leo: Rene will be back on Tuesday for a great MacBreak Weekly. I look forward to that.
Jeff: Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg's video has ended.
Leo: Oh, no. It's time to eat the meat.
Iain: That would get a lot more than 100,000 people.
Jeff: I really wanted to see Mark after about 5 beers.
Leo: I know.
Rene: He could have just done Masterpiece Theatre for the debates. He could just sit there with his bottle.
Jeff: Yea, a loose Mark would be great to see, yea.
Leo: And maybe like Elvis he could shoot the TV at the end of the evening.
Leo: Jeff Jarvis, City University of New York, CUNY. He's a professor of journalism there. My God, if you could study journalism with Jeff Jarvis, wouldn't you want to? Buzzmachine.com is his blog. He's written all the greatest books including What Would Google Do, Public Parts, Guttenberg the Geek. You can find him @jeffjarvis on Twitter and every Wednesday right here with This Week in Google. Thank you.
Jeff: I will see you this Wednesday.
Leo: Thank you. Enjoy your debate. How do you, how will you be watching? With Twitter running in the background?
Jeff: Oh, absolutely. I'll be tweeting the whole time.
Leo: Oh, you'll be tweeting. Good.
Jeff: I'll be tweeting.
Leo: I'll be following.
Jeff: And then I have obviously some specific lists including fellow Ouray fans.
Leo: What I want is all the most snarky, you know—and you also want the GIF makers, right, the animated GIF makers?
Rene: #snark, #GIFS
Jeff: So last time I was on with a bunch of Ouray people. And as the debate came to the end and Hillary did the woo.
Leo: That was a great GIF.
Jeff: We all said, "Give us a GIF right now! Give us a GIF because we ain't doing GIFs. Someone, anybody, do a GIF." It's--
Leo: I didn't see her do it, but boy that—
Rene: The Shaquille O'Neal, cat, Hillary combination was magnificent, the reason that animated GIFs exist.
Leo: And I picked a bad time to give up Airplane Glue, another wonderful meme. Let the memes begin in half an hour.
Jeff: My favorite meme in the last two weeks was the Bill Clinton gnawing up the Airforce One steps.
Leo: I haven't seen that one.
Iain: No, what's that?
Jeff: So Obama comes out. They're leaving Israel after Shimon's funeral, Obama comes to the door of Airforce One and says, "Bill, come on." Then he comes back again and, "Bill, we've got to go home. Come on." And then a third more time, "Bill, I mean it. Come on."
Leo: But that wasn't a meme, that was real, right?
Jeff: It was real. So the meme that came after that was Clinton coming up holding a big balloon saying, "Sorry, I had to get my balloon."
Leo: (Laughing) It's always worth waiting for, a nice balloon. Iain Thomson from The Register. Great to have you. You'll be back Saturday.
Iain: Yea, I'll be doing The New Screen Savers next weekend but then I currently plan to be staying strictly within the speed limits of course going back home towards the debates.
Leo: Well come over to the house if you want. You can watch it with us if you'd like. It'd be fun to have a snarky Brit. You, Americans. Ooo.
Rene: This is the independence you fought for?
Iain: Well you know we just find it hilarious. You fought for independence against aristocracy and now look at you. It's just one of those things.
Leo: Thanks everybody for joining us. Thanks to a great live studio audience. Somewhat diminished over the last 2 hours but a few of you hung in there.
Jeff: Wait for them.
Leo: I don't know. You know, it's a long show.
Rene: They're making it home for the debates.
Leo: (Laughing) If you want to be in the studio you can. We have an open studio and we love having visitors. Just email email@example.com and you can be here for whatever live show happens to be on. firstname.lastname@example.org, we'll send you directions to our secret destination. You can also watch the show live, Sunday afternoons, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern. We stream it as we do with everything, 2200 UTC. If you can't watch live though, we can always make on demand versions available, audio and video at twit.tv and wherever you get your podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, Slacker, Google. You can ask your Echo to listen and it has—I think we're on TuneIn. You can listen that way. But make sure you get every episode. Subscribe. That seems like the best way to do it. Thanks for joining us. I'm glad to be back! And I'll see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can.