This Week in Tech 591
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! Oooh. This is going to be a thinky show. Some shows are drinky. Some shows are thinky. Why? Because we've got big thinkers on: Om Malik and Stacey Higginbotham. They work together at Giga Om. They are two of the best tech journalists out there. We'll talk about everything going on in tech today, including a farewell to Pebble. What happened? Om can explain, huh? This Week in Tech coming up next.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 591, recorded Sunday, December 4, 2016.
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Leo: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we get together with some of the smartest people in tech journalism and we talk about what's going on, it's all context all the time. I have two of my favorite context manglers here. How do you like that Stacey Higginbotham?
Stacey Higginbotham: I was curious where you were going with that.
Leo: IOT podcast.com. Stacey, a regular on This Week in Google, always a thrill to have you on from Austin, Texas. And you might know our next guest. I think you worked with him for a while. Om Malik is here from San Francisco. Man behind Giga Om, he's now an investor and blogger at om.co and pi.co. This is something new. What is pi.co?
Om Malik: It is a series of interviews I do with people I find interesting.
Leo: I have seen this.
Om: I don't update very often.
Leo: You love .co.
Om: I love Colombia.
Leo: Oh, it's Colombia. It's one better than .com. You two worked together at Giga Om. Stacey was your editor, briefly.
Stacey: I was. Om was like my mentor for forever. 8 years or so?
Om: More than that actually.
Stacey: I still call him when I need help.
Leo: Om, you started as a journalist.
Leo: Magazine writer?
Leo: Associated Press, Reuters?
Om: Newspaper. Newswires. Then two weekly publications, and got to the US, and it was financial wire. Then I was one of the first people to sign on to the .com revolution before it was hip and cool to be .com.
Leo: I remember reading you first in Tony Perkins' Red Herring.
Om: Before that, I was writing for Forbes and forbes.com. Before that Nikay. Before that publications you've never heard of.
Leo: Business 2.0 . In 2000 you created Giga Om. And you had a good run with it. Then it disappeared.
Om: In March 2015.
Leo: Sad. That's when Stacey was out of work.
Om: I think that was the next evolution in Stacey's quest to dominate the world.
Leo: I completely agree. We've become big fans of Stacey. She joined TWiG about six months ago. She's a wonderful contributor to our show. She's good not just in writing, but on the air. As are you, Om.
Om: Not as good as Stacey.
Stacey: You guys are a) making me blush and b) we're not adding any value here.
Leo: I hate it when podcasts do it. We're here to help people understand the modern world. For instance, Silicon Valley. It's got an empathy vacuum.
Om: Before we go there, how did you get that Microsoft computer?
Leo: You like my computer? I bought it. I went out.
Om: I can't get it.
Leo: I bought it when they announced it.
Om: Now it's art of production.
Leo: Could be. I think the deal with it, this is the surface studio, not a cheap computer, this is the base model, which is $3,000 for the low end. Really it is a laptop, that's what this box is underneath, with the best screen you ever saw, 28 inch super high res screen. It's a gorgeous screen. You can mess with it, you can do stuff with like that. It feels like a giant iPad is what it feels like.
Om: It feels like a dream come true.
Leo: I feel like Shepherd Smith on Fox news with my giant tablet.
Om: I remember seeing you back in the day in Screensavers, the real one...
Leo: What a minute. The "real" one?
Om: Like version one.
Leo: That you. 1.0. Not the real one. The first one.
Om: You know. That's when I became your big fan, so.
Leo: Thank you.
Om: For me, that's the real one. And you had that computer embedded in your table, remember? It seems like it's come back.
Leo: I kind of like having it like this.
Om: Chris Borello. Oh my god. Is he still working on podcasts and stuff?
Leo: No. He's the locker Gnome. I don't know what he's doing. The last time I checked, he had a live stream, but now if I go to lockergnome.com, it's a Pinterest for geeks. I'm not sure what he's doing. I love Chris, and he's always been really good at using social and streaming to do stuff. One of the best things about tech TV is the diaspora. This is exactly true of Giga Om. Afterwards, everybody brought that Ethos out into the world, and it was good.
Om: I hope so. Stacey is doing her thing.
Stacey: I am. I think you're going to see more stuff coming up soon. So. Not just from me, but for others.
Leo: Nice. Well we know Matthew is doing great. He's over at Fortune. A lot of people went to Fortune initially. I know you did, Stacey. Who else?
Stacey: Six of us. Matthew, Jeff, John Roberts, Katie Ferenbacher, Bardero, Jonathan Vanian. Me.
Leo: Yanko went to Variety, where he's doing a lot of great stuff. Yanko Richars. Am I saying his name right? Yanko?
Stacey: Kevin is with me on the show, and Google. Kevin Fitchard went to another company. Derek Harris went to a company. I'm trying to think who else do we have?
Leo: When you have... go ahead.
Stacey: Biz went to Business Insider, where she's doing great stuff. Then Scena is doing all kinds of cool stuff too.
Om: Freelancing and working with Tech crunch a little bit. So everybody is out there.
Leo: I think, I just saw a profile of Jessica Lesson in the Information. In the New York Times, I think?
Om: No, it was CJR.
Leo: Columbia Journal Review, that's right. Celebrating how well she's doing, how well the information is doing. I think this is an interesting model for the future of hard core news. The hard core information. She's got a pay wall. An expensive $400 a year pay wall.
Stacey: It's worth it.
Leo: Apparently subscriptions have doubled in the past year. She's got 20 employees. They're doing great stuff. She's always, and Amira have broken a lot of news. They're continuing to do that, by focusing... this is what Giga Om was good at. Focusing on the big stories and getting unique insight and information about them.
Stacey: She also offers, I think this is interesting, when news breaks, she does a conference call with the reporters who have been covering the story. I think that's... I don't know if she charges for that.
Leo: As a subscriber I can do that. I keep meaning to do it, and I keep forgetting to sign into those.
Om: It's like that remember that company, Garrison Leman?
Stacey: It's still around.
Om: They basically do the same thing, organize conference calls . She has taken a lot of the best ideas from GoG and from us. And wherever and put together a working combo, which is great. It's good to have a place, which is not distracted by advertising.
Leo: Yeah. Link Bait is become the biggest issue. We talk so much about fake news of late, because of the election, but I think it goes back more to Link Bait, and ultimately fake news succeeds because it gets you to click the link, and the guys who are making up the fake news get the advertising revenue. So it's really just another... it's link Bait to the final degree.
Stacey: Right. It's depressing.
Om: That's all right.
Leo: It's OK to be depressed? As Om Malik says...
Om: I think it forces people to think about new and better ideas.
Leo: What happened, we broke the Internet. The Internet started out really great. Then we broke it. We broke it in a number of ways with monetization models, they promoted things like Link bait and punch the monkey banner ads, and ad tech went crazy. Hate speech found a way to express itself and all of these things converged to take this utopia and turn it into a dystopia. It feels like that happened in the last year.
Stacey: No. It's been happening forever.
Leo: It feels worse, but it came to a head. I know link bait has been a problem for years, I guess.
Stacey: I think it's had a real impact on the world outside of the Internet in this last year would be a way to think about it. As part of tech encroaching on every day life everywhere.
Leo: I guess you're right.
Stacey: Which makes Om's empathy gap even more important.
Leo: So what do you mean, this is a New Yorker piece, and by the way, it's been great to read you in the New Yorker. I just thrilled to see this. Silicon Valley, this was This week in the New Yorker. Has an empathy vacuum. Is it the job of a company to have empathy or merely to return a good dollar to its investors?
Om: I mean, it depends on what kind of society we want to live in. I think the idea that at the end of the day, if you are going to create a society in which only the winners get to have it all, what happens to the rest of the society? What happens to the whole economic system down the line? Where do people go? People who are purchasing things which allow companies to market their ads on Facebook are fewer and fewer, though the ads are also going to become fewer and fewer. So it's not going to be the question of charity, but a question of having a more equitable society in a way that they're actually actively thinking about the disruption you are causing, and what are the things you can do to help bring along people whose lives are getting disrupted? I'm not talking about charity here, what I'm talking about are there opportunities for retrenchment? Are we thinking about longer term how technology has an impact on other things? I think that's what I mean is in order to think about those things, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of over people. If this election showed anything, we refuse to put us in other people's shoes, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you really are, and what kind of, I think it is more and more prevalent in Silicon Valley where everything is so focused on building returns and growth than moving on to the next thing. My view is let's not forget that there is people at the end of this technology who are going to get impacted. We have to think about those things, we can't just run away from those things. That's the whole piece was all about that. How do we internalize other people's reality as well? Which probably will lead us to build more thoughtful products in the future.
Leo: It's good business to consider your customers and society and the impact what you do has on them. It's more long-term thinking than quarterly results.
Om: That is exactly the case. I think companies need to stand up to those kinds of values. If... look at I don't know if you saw the news from Facebook yesterday, we are going to do 20 million in donation and spend on affordable housing in Menlo Park and East Palo alto, which is great. I think that's a great idea, in a large keynote thing, but how is it going to work out for the entire community. If all the houses are being bought by people who live and work for Facebook, there are certain demographics. People who are lower income housing users, they don't have a place to live in the entire ecosystem. They can't afford the Whole Food is going to move in. It will be the schools and the health system, everything is going to evolve around the people who work for Facebook, not for people who have lived there, and eventually they will have to move out. To say that 20 million dollars is what we are doing, that is nice charity, but in the end, that's the lack of empathy all the way through Zuckerberg and Shell and whomever. They don't seem to think about those things.
Leo: Palo Alto is a good example of this--people who don't know Silicon Valley. Palo Alto is a very affluent town that is near where Steve Jobs lived and Palo Alto Apple store starts on the iPhone, that's where Jobs would go. The downtown Palo Alto is very gentrified, cute thing. But like a lot of American cities, there is this pretty part, and then there's the part where people live who work there, East Palo Alto, and it's very poor. It's often ignored by the residents of fancy Palo Alto. West Palo Alto. It's a very microcosm example of what's happening all over the country. But how could it be bad that Facebook is donating 20$ towards affordable housing? That's a good thing isn't it?
Om: On paper it sounds like a good thing. What I'm trying to say is five years down the line, when all the houses are built, the people who are living there are the engineers, and...
Leo: They're just building more housing for their people.
Om: and will the people who are in affordable housing can they afford any of the services in the area? The doctors, can they afford to send their kids to the school? Can they even go grocery shopping there? can they do all these things which normally people are not able to do? One thing the yuppies move in, the cost of living goes up. What that means is people who can't keep up, they're out, which is unfortunately the reality of our modern society. To say that we are giving 20 million dollars, I think that is completely missing the point. That is another proof point of Silicon Valley missing that empty gene. You don't think that five years down the line this is going to be a problem? The have started to treat everything else like can we negate press negative press attention by giving some money? I think this is something that really makes me mad. Yes, you can do whatever you want to do., but use your IQ to figure out ways to bring together all the people you are going to impact. Take them, and lift them through the boom that is the Facebook housing is going to bring there. But that's not part of the conversation, 20 million dollar check is not the answer.
Leo: Should it be part of the conversation? I think about the atom bomb, and all the scientists in the United States who joined the Manhattan project, Robert Oppenheimer who very famously said, now I've become Kali, the Goddess of death, now I'm become destruction when the Atom bomb was first set off. Oftentimes, I think technologists work on stuff, in this case they had a motivation, they wanted to beat Nazis to an atom bomb. But I think oftentimes technologists work on technology for technology's sake. Science for science' sake, and say we can't be responsible for the impact technology has. I wonder if it's interesting that you write this article at this time, because there is also I think it's in the Wall Street Journal this week, and there's some growing movement of empathy is bad for public policy. You've seen this as well.
Stacey: I was going to say, that makes sense. One of the things, OM, when you're talking about empathy, I think about externality. The impact of your stuff beyond what you're paying, your profits. There has to be a limit if you're a company that is trying to think about other people. You have to draw the line somewhere. Everyone is going to debate where that line is. It's important for any kind of tech company or person in technology to think about the externalities of whatever they're developing, whatever they're doing. At the end of the day, they still have to focus on profits. And the question is how far do you take it?
Leo: I'm sure, Om, that you were aware of and maybe even responding to Paul Bloom's New Yorker article earlier this year, "The Case Against Empathy," in which he points out that empathy suffers from an identifiable victim effect. You can identify the specific victims and as a result make public policy that may help the specific identified victim, and hurt the invisible victims over the long haul.
Stacey: Or just the unsympathetic victims. We're seeing that in Texas, where instead of debating whether or not Texas should take care of its medicaid obligations because they're in a fight with Obamacare right now, instead they're crafting these crazy laws and doing these crazy exemptions to the policies and funding, then some group that's really sympathetic. Children who need prosthetic limbs, children who need mental health therapy, we're in the fire line for this, the politicians come in, and they're like "OK." We'll take care of these guys, and everyone else who is unsympathetic goes away, and that's a terrible way to impact policy, but that's a different conversation.
Leo: Maybe we just want a larger, an empathy that has a larger sense than just Jessica in the well.
Om: I think there's a lot of people who confuse sympathy with empathy. What I'm trying to talk about is trying to understand what other people are talking about, what other people are dealing with, what the impact is on other people. I'm not saying take a sympathetic action, I'm just saying if you do not understand, how can you build better products? How can you build a better society? Sympathy is not going to lead to a better society. Listening better and trying to internalize other people's issues and trying to figure out how to better improve the environment we live in, and the products we build is important, sort of like you saw the whole issue with Facebook and fake news. They were denying it for so long. How can you deny something you are complicit in? Just kind of because you say you are not able to fix it we should believe you? That's what I mean. You're not even thinking and listening to people who are talking about Fake news. You are dismissing them with a wave of your hand. That's not where we are as an Industry. We need to listen better, internalize a lot of things, and start to see what we do and what we can do. Stacey, you're talking about what is the limit for the company. If they are doing this for a profit reason, they are building housing right next to their offices because people come and work longer hours in the company office, but remember the company, cities, whether it was Cleveland or Pittsburgh or whatever, the big companies pay for health care, they pay for schools. The paid for colleges and engineering schools. All those things are paid for because that was part of the social contract they had. This is not socialism, this was a capitalist company like USD. It was looking out for its own interests, and if that's what Facebook is looking out for its own interest, they should go beyond giving 20 million dollars in housing subsidies and saying that's good enough. If you want to do this, build up the East Palo Alto, Menlo park area. Provide the services which will lift their engineering teams, and people who are not engineers. People who work in the back of Facebook offices. There will be more jobs like that. Can those people stay within the community? Can their kids aspire to go the same college and school as everybody else's kids? That is what I mean. Don't be sympathetic to the cause and say here is some money. Empathy is saying what are other people's problem? What are their hopes and dreams? Trying to understand that is very important. That is good corporate management. That is good capitalism. I think it's time to think and talk about those things.
Leo: Dr. Bloom, who just wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal, whose book Against Empathy comes out next week, I think agrees with you, Om. He prefers the word "compassion." He said there's a difference between empathy and compassion, and that when, there's even a brain chemistry difference between empathy and compassion. Compassion is more having a sense of feeling for and not feeling with. It is characterized by feelings of warmth, concern, and care for the other. AS well as a strong motivation to improve the other's well-being. Empathy ends up like using the word sympathy, feeling what the other feels, as opposed to concern.
Om: Empathy is not a marketing slogan. You either are empathetic or you're not. That's the key thing.
Leo: I guess the point I was making is technology doesn't have empathy or compassion, it just is.
Stacey: there are people behind all tech.
Leo: Pick any technical innovation, let's say cloning, which obviously has positives and negatives. You can say we're not going to do cloning, as we have said in the United States. China might say that's fine because we're going to do it. Technology always seems to find a way. I don't know if empathy can block technology.
Stacey: You don't need it to block technology. You need to have your company or as someone who is inventing tech or implementing technology, think about how it affects others, and try to understand the other point of view. I was going to give you an example, it's going to come from a company that is not a favorite company of Om's, but AT&T is aware that its business is under threat and it's changing its corporate infrastructure to do software to find networking, as part of that, it is retraining a huge chunk of its workers. It's offering audacity courses and paying its employees to take these courses to help get them ready from the world where they physically manipulated cables to the world where they're going to do it digitally, and I think that's a good example of saying hey. We're going to implement an entirely new technology across our business, and our people aren't going to be able to keep up. We can argue that AT&T is doing this because a lot of their workers are unionized, but at the same time, it's a nice example of a tech change being met with empathy or compassion.
Leo: The biggest issue in America today is income inequality. With all the unicorns out there, it's very clear that there are some... this is part of the malaise that we're feeling in this country, you see people getting intensely rich while so many are struggling. But I don't know if Silicon Valley can solve that problem. Do you think it can, Om?
Om: What do you mean by solve that problem?
Leo: Can it act in a way... if automation causes people to lose jobs, and automation is part of the business of robotics and artificial intelligence, are you saying not to do it? How do you adjust what you're doing to protect people. I think it would be wonderful to protect those jobs.
Om: Look at what Stacey just said. You are essentially helping retrain the current workforce for a new future. Out of 50,000 people maybe 20,000 people will have a job and 35,000 people won't. But it's still better than 50,000 people not having a job. I'm not against the idea of technology, I love all the progress we make. What I'm also trying to figure out is what more can we do to start bringing people along as we grow into this future. Can we figure out new jobs? Can we figure out new opportunities? Can we figure out how to re-train the workforces of the Industrial era for this new time frame? Can we afford to give up on 3 to 4 generations of people before people become part of the workforce all over again. The answer to that, can we? Yes. That is a very fearful future. I fear for so many people who are going to be left without jobs, and what are we going to do to them? How will we take care of the society. I think it's important to figure out, even a little bit of effort is more than no effort. That's what this whole piece was about.
Leo: Now we're heading towards a future, just as Industrialization cost people jobs, we're post Industrial America. The solution is not to re-create the steel Industry in the United States, and there are tough challenges. Automation is one of them, that's not going to turn around and stop. I agree we need to consider it, but I don't know if Silicon Valley has the...
Stacey: Outside of solving social issues and inequality, there's also a part of Om's thing, or maybe it's me adding to it, think about how your products perpetuate inequality, or help people avoid interacting. Filter bubbles is a very simple example. Another is when you're starting to use algorithms to map out home, where does that take people? This was part of the weapons of mass destruction. We put so much faith in technology that maybe we shouldn't.
Leo: I'm saying it doesn't matter, because it's going to happen. We're on this road. It's not going to suddenly let's grow flowers and cut soles off of our shoes. It's not going to happen. So let's talk about the filter bubble, Om, you talk about this in your piece, Facebook as a company makes these bubble blunders again and again. But what is Facebook to do, Facebook right now optimizes its algorithm to improve reader engagement. Period. And it works. You can see the numbers. Is it Facebook's job to change how human beings work? Because...
Om: What do you mean by that?
Leo: It's Facebook's responsibility to make... TV has grappled with this for years. Do you give people what they want and get increasing ratings, or do you say well with a spoonful of sugar we're going to make the medicine go down, and we're going to beef up our news operations even though nobody watches them, because we have a societal obligation. Is Facebook supposed to do the same thing?
Om: That's a pretty logical argument, to be honest. I think you get spam in your inbox, do you not get mad with Google for sending you spam, and don't you think it's their problem to fix the spam problem? Fake news is the equivalent of spam on a media centric platform like Facebook.
Leo: But Facebook is a business designed to optimize for profit.
Om: So is Gmail optimize around delivering more email to you. The more spam email you get, the more you're going to stain the inbox. They're going to have to figure out a new business model around that. As a platform, which is based on the media platform for the planet, it is important for them to make sure there is no fake news platform origin stories popping on to the system. It's just like spam. They are preventing us from using...
Leo: To extend your analogy, some spam is obviously spam. If the word "v1agra" is in it spelled with a 1, I know it's spam. The problem is, and Facebook has this problem, there's some email that is debatable. There's some fake news that is debatable. Let's say an atheist decides anything about God is patently fake, because there is no God, so I'm going to eliminate all God stories from Facebook. that's an extreme example.
Om: that is an extreme example to prove your case. I'm talking about Mrs. Clinton killed a child and is responsible for so many murders.
Leo: Some fake news we can all agree on.
Om: Fake stories coming from Macedonia from a Macedonian website. How the hell is that not spam? That's the problem.
Leo: Like I say with spam there's a gray area. You're saying let's just do the obvious.
Om: The obvious stuff is a bigger problem than the non-obvious stuff.
Leo: I disagree. The pope endorses Donald Trump blatantly fake, provably wrong, not an important thing. The conspiracy theory that a pizza parlor in Washington DC is a child porn ring, or that the President is a Kenyan born non-American citizen, those things have a life of their own regardless of Facebook, has nothing to do with Facebook, because people want to believe them, people do believe them. Is it Facebook's job to say no, that's not true?
Stacey: A lot of people see that and think about it. The number of things you see, it's flying by you read it, it becomes part of your consciousness, you don't even think about it. On Facebook that happens a lot. "Oh, I saw that somewhere." There's a child porn ring staffed by...
Leo: I understand the mechanism, but is it Facebook's obligation? There's lots of people who would argue it's true.
Stacey: It's not true. And it causes detriment.
Leo: This is the problem with conspiracy theories is it's very hard to prove them not true. It's hard to prove the negative. It's provable that the pope didn't endorse Donald Trump, just ask the pope. It is much more difficult to prove these other things. That's why they live on their conspiracy theories, and I don't know if I want Facebook to get in the job of censorship at that point.
Stacey: But we've talked about this. We've talked about having the back for readers. Also labeling that something may be spam.
Leo: I understand, give the reader more information. I'm OK with that. But Om, would you want them to block birther stories or 9/11 conspiracy stories?
Om: It depends on where they're coming from. If they're coming from some website in Eastern Europe or some other country like that, they should be blocking. If those stories are on any of the archive websites, it's debatable whether they're right or wrong.
Leo: This is tricky. I think you have one group, this is more polarizing, denying the truth of another group saying it's obviously not true, and the other group saying it obviously is true. Show me where it's not true, and it becomes difficult for Facebook to say we've decided this is true and this is not true. I don't want Facebook to be in that business.
Stacey: Facebook is already in that business. They already block things like the napalm kid story? They used to block pictures of women breastfeeding.
Leo: If you're a social network, you're in the business of letting people share the stuff they care about. True or not.
Om: can I just say one thing? Facebook is hardly a social network any more. The only thing you can't do to share that is social stuff. All you share is stupid news stories and fight with each other on politics.
Leo: Then we should all just abandon Facebook. But I got to point out, 1.75 billion monthly active users, they're not going to miss you, Stacey.
Stacey: I know they're not missing me. I don't miss them either.
Leo: They're optimizing for profit. As every business does.
Om: And there's nothing wrong with optimizing for profit. They can't run away from their responsibility. They can do censorship in China. They have the systems to block media they don't like in China. To say they don't have the system set up to block Fake news?
Leo: They can block real news in China. I was in China in 2009 watching CNN they do this story about the Weeger rebellion, CNN goes black for 3.5 minutes. That's it. Nothing is there. Then it comes back on. I bet people in China are used to that. It's not a good thing.
Om: Can we talk about some fun stuff?
Leo: yeah, we're going to take a break. This is important stuff, though. I'm glad, I'm pushing back because I think it's important to have the full conversations.
Om: Absolutely! I just want to talk about fun stuff.
Leo: Why do you think I'm in this business? I started political talk radio! Why do youthink I'm here now? It's the last thing I want to do. I don't want to talk about this stuff. Let's talk about smart phones. Let's talk about virtual reality head gear. Let's talk about our sponsor. I get optimized for profit too, you know. These Christmas decorations aren't cheap. My hipster Grandpa sweater, that costs money. You know what the great sadness of my life is? My wife is allergic to cashmere. How can that be?
Stacey: Cashmere bunnies?
Leo: Goat. They don't kill the goat. They run through bushes and the bushes capture fuzz, excess fuzz as the goat runs through the bush.
Om: That's not the case.
Leo: That's absolutely the case!
Stacey: What kind of artisanal farming...?
Om: They just kind of shave the goats...
Leo: Not the good cashmere.
Om: Really? I think you should look it up.
Leo: See these goats? They run through the bushes and little fuzz balls come off of them and they're harvested and made into the finest cashmere in the world. Oh wait a minute, here they are shearing a cashmere goat.
Stacey: Who's your sponsor?
Leo: Not cashmere, I can tell you that right now. You should know, it's from cashmere in India.
Om: No, it's from Mongolia.
Leo: Oh. I thought it was from the cashmere region of India. The ones from Mongolia are the ones where the goats run through bushes, I'm pretty sure.
Om: There are no bushes. This is the first tech show without any tech.
Leo: It's coming. WE talked about Facebook, that's tech. We talked about the responsibility of silicon Valley. Our show to you today brought to you by Freshbooks.com. I had somebody ask me the other day for a better way to invoice his clients, if you're a freelancer or a small business, you've got to know about Freshbooks. This is the solution I used for years. But it's so much more than invoicing now. The new Freshbooks is cloud accounting. The new Freshbooks dashboard tells you things that so many small businesses don't know. If you're a freelancer, could you tell me right off the bat if you were profitable this year? Can you tell me what your expenses were? who owes you money? If you had Freshbooks you could. Go right to the front page, and you'd know. Re-designed from the ground up and built just for the way you work. Most accounting systems you have to bend your mind around to work with them. Not Freshbooks, they work the way you work, so you'll be more productive, more organized, and you'll get paid more quickly. Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds, no formatting, no formulas, just clean, professional looking invoices with your logo, your color scheme. It reflects your brand, by the way, when you send the client an invoice, you'll know on the dashboard if they've seen it or not. So they can't say I didn't get your invoice, yes you did. You read it. Set up online payments through them with a couple of clicks you get paid according to Freshbooks research, up to four days faster. There's also a super handy deposit feature, so you get invoiced for expenses and payments upfront when you're kicking off a project so you don't have to do it up front. Right now a 30 day unrestricted free trial just by going to freshbooks.com/twit, enter This Week in Tech on the form where they ask you how you heard about us. Start your 30 day free trial today. Freshbooks saved my life when I was going to Canada one week a month and I had to invoice them to do expenses. Freshbooks.com/twit. Om Malik is here from om.co and pi.co, he's @Om, the best Twitter handle ever. He's also joined by Stacey or Gigastacey as she's known on Twitter because she worked at Giga Om for many years. Also now host of the IOT podcast. Stacey, isn't it going to be an IOT Christmas, Stacey?
Stacey: At my house? Or in general?
Stacey: I hope I do. I kind of doubt it.
Leo: At the same time, there's a lot of security people who wish it wouldn't be.
Stacey: The newer devices from credible people credible vendors, are much more secure.
Leo: Do not buy those cheap Chinese DVRs and cameras.
Stacey: Everyone should buy a router for Christmas this year. A router that is over the air upgradable, modern one that doesn't have your passwords hardcoded. The new Belkin Linxus routers are OK that way. I believe the new dealings are, but I haven't confirmed that.
Leo: WE like the Eero and they're a sponsor. They didn't buy an ad today. They're an example of a router that is regularly updated. They do everything right. Google is doing the smart thing now.
Stacey: On Hub. Net Gear. I think wire cutter just said that is the best mesh networking router out there, of the ones they had tried.
Om: You said that?
Stacey: I didn't do that particular review for the Wire Cutter.
Leo: Do you write for the Wire Cutter too?
Stacey: I used to. They are so good with their reviews. It's a very constrained process. It makes a great review, but there's a lot to do.
Leo: As it should be. They were just bought by the New York Times, by the way.
Om: I have a question for you on the routers. I have the Apple router...
Leo: Now abandoned.
Om: Is that a bad one to have?
Leo: No, it's not. One of the things about the Apple router, besides the fact that they're over-priced, $200, is Apple did keep them up to date. They did avoid a lot of security pit falls that others fall in to, like WPS, which is that push button, which is terrible, flawed. Apple doesn't do that. I think any router that is more than a couple years old should be replaced. They wear, out, the technology changes, and there are much better choices out there. You're in an apartment, right? So one router probably gets to every corner of the place. You can keep using the Apple router if it works for you.
Stacey: We'll see if they tell us how long. I guess the question is how long will they keep updating their router software.
Leo: They have not announced anything. But Recoder City... Mark German had the story on Bloomberg that the entire team had been transferred to Apple TV, so that there is nobody working on it, or there is that skeleton to it.
Stacey: Maybe TV becomes a router.
Leo: I think it's pretty clear looking at things like that, people moving on, that Apple is re-focusing on a smaller number of products. They've already said they are not going to do any more displays, and have pushed you to LG, if you're going to buy a display. I feel like Apple is in the process right now of focusing on a fewer number of products, as they would say in the financial press, put more wood behind our arrows.
Leo: If I put that in an article, you would blue pencil that right out, right Stacey?
Stacey: I'd be like really? No pencils. How long has it been since you've edited anything?
Leo: Should I do blue or red? I don't like that word. Let's put this in here. I can do that?
Stacey: I can do that.
Leo: I can choose. I'll make it smaller, I'll make it bluer.
Stacey: Does that transfer? That would be really exciting technology right there.
Leo: This is the Surface Pro. I'm looking at a website, a real live website. If I double tap my pencil, it turns it into an image which I can then annotate. I can save that out and send it to Matthew and say Matthew, I don't like this head.
Stacey: Then he would hate you.
Leo: I go TK. I don't know what any of those things mean. What were we talking about? End of the day, Apple? I do think that the new mesh routers are better, but they're really for solving the problem of congestion. You don't have any trouble with your wifi, Om, right?
Om: None at all.
Leo: The Apple router is still perfectly secure.
Om: This is like one of those the tall ones with storage and everything.
Leo: You have the one with a hard drive built in.
Om: Yeah. The question I wanted to ask the two of you is I'm trying to figure out what is the best way to protect your personal information in a sense. VPN and encryption and all that stuff. Especially for somebody like me who travels a bunch. What's the right way to do this? Without adding too much overhead in terms of slowing down the machine and stuff?
Stacey: Any time you go back into the country, they can take your stuff.
Leo: Obviously, encryption is your friend, right? In fact, notice since the election, downloads of Signal, the encrypted messenger from open systems has quadrupled. Clearly there are people. It may be related to the passage of the investigatory powers act in the UK. That may have been a precipitating factor too. I don't feel like here in the United States we have any more of an issue with privacy that we've always had.
Om: I'm talking about these...
Leo: Traveling is another issue.
Stacey: Are you talking about people... hackers getting to your data?
Leo: Here's what I would do. There's a little device called the tiny hardware firewall. You can buy it, it's not very expensive. It fits on your keychain. It's a USB key. What this is is a built in VPN and Tour. They actually have bigger devices too. You could put this in your laptop bag whenever you're in an open WiFi access point, you plug this into the VP port. It picks up the WiFi signal from the coffee shop, passes it through a VPN to your computer. Your computer is now on a VPN the whole time you're using it in a coffee shop, which is more secure. This also has optional malware blocking and ad blocking, if you want to turn that on as well. Basically it's like a filtration system. I have one of them here. This is the same people, tiny hardware firewall that come and do... this is a router. This is a portable router. It has the Wifi and the ethernet. The safest thing to do would be to turn off the wifi in your laptop entirely. So that you're not on a tech surface at all. Put this on your laptop, have it et the wifi signal, and then go into your laptop via ethernet. Then your laptop is truly not an attack surface. Want to use anything that's going out of your laptop is going through VPN, I don't know if you want an anonomizer or not. As we know, the FBI has cracked Tour, and tour may not be anonomizing. But it's better than nothing. You probably want to use encryption on your email, and that means GPG. Do you use PGP or GPG?
Om: I use GPG.
Leo: That means you have to use an email client that supports GPG. Apple's mail does. If you go to GPG tools.org, there's one for Mac. It doesn't currently work with the Sierra version of mail, but it does with the other clients, including Thunderbird. If you're on Windows you go to GPG for Win. That will also install easily. If you do this...
Om: That would be hard.
Leo: It would be hard?
Om: I would have to buy...
Leo: Don't do that. I wouldn't recommend it. Now your email is encrypted. Otherwise it's a postcard. It's encrypted, your web browsing is encrypted. If you don't have your Wifi turn on your laptop an attack would have physical access to your hardware. They don't have that, right? Don't let them have that. I wouldn't carry around a Smartphone with you. Or if you do carry around a Smartphone that is not connected to any of your accounts. Look at the latest story on Android. There is a real problem. They call it Gouligan.
Om: I heard that story. It was scary.
Leo: It's a little scary. Millions of accounts being compromised and thousands more every day as we speak. 86 apps, the problem is you notice it says third party app store. One way to avoid this is to not go anywhere but Google's Play store. Nevertheless, stuff has snuck into Google's play store in the past. This takes advantage of a flaw in earlier versions of Android. That's the other thing is make sure you use the latest versions of Android. This affects versions four and five through lollipop. IF you're using marshmallow or...
Stacey: A lot of the carriers, have they converted to Lollipop?
Leo: A lot of these cheap phones you buy a phone for $40 and it's not going to be updated. The carrier is not going to be updated, the manufacturer is not going to update it. You're going to be using whatever version it came with. That's why so many people are vulnerable is the vast majority of Android devices are running old versions of Android.
Stacey: Is it OK then that we have bifurcated people like folks who could pay for security?
Leo: Isn't that interesting?
Stacey: Because we basically just told people pay up dude.
Leo: The people who are most vulnerable are the ones who are getting attacked.
Stacey: AS is often the case.
Leo: I think I'm not wrong that in a lot of countries where there isn't a great banking infrastructure, the Smartphone is the bank. You're very vulnerable.
Stacey: I don't know what security measures are in place for that sort of thing and Pesa.
Om: I think we should just take control of Android.
Leo: That's what they're trying to do with Pixel. It's an 800 dollar phone.
Om: No more Android open source. Bring it back.
Leo: Maybe that's the solution. It's not that iPhone doesn't have problems, but they have far fewer problems than IOS.
Om: There is one place where you can fight them.
Stacey: They own the whole infrastructure. That's the benefit they have.
Om: Don't bring it up. He's going to lose us.
Leo: You have a low opinion of me, don't you?
Om: You and Mac do not get along.
Leo: I like Apple! I'm not complaining about Apple! I love Apple.
Om: We rant about Apple so, I just want to have a happy time with you.
Leo: You know what? I'm mad at Apple because I love Apple so much. Isn't it the case, you always hurt the one you love? I heard that in a song once.
Om: You listen to a lot of country music.
Stacey: I just bought tickets to go see Willie Nelson benefit. I'm excited.
Om: That's not country music. That is folk music.
Leo: That is the people's music.
Stacey: It is awesome. I'm so pumped. Ok.
Leo: I have been in Willie Nelson's bus.
Stacey: Were you smoking weed?
Leo: If you get in the bus it doesn't matter if you're smoking weed or not, you just breathe and you're smoking weed. I literally—they opened the door to the bus and smoke pours out. And I got in and he gave me a bottle of Old Whiskey River and a red bandana. And I even held his guitar which apparently was bad etiquette but I did it anyway.
Om: How long ago was this?
Leo: A hundred years ago. It was, he was a guest on Tech TV actually, so it would have been on the, what did you call it, the best Screen Savers?
Stacey: No, the Real Screen Savers.
Leo: The Real Screen Savers.
Om: It's just the New Screen Savers. Why do you call it The New Screen Savers?
Leo: Because it's new. So we—by the way, we don't have to call it the New Screen Savers. We have the trademark.
Om: It's called the New Real Screen Savers.
Leo: The new but it was real but now it's the fake. Yea. So—
Om: I'm going to come on that show. That is my dream show.
Leo: Come on that show. Book Om on the Fake Screen Savers, would you (laughing)? You are more than welcome. Anytime. We would love that. TalkTalk and Post Office customers were hit by the Mirai—we thought this was over. Mirai is a worm that attacks routers. Deutsche Telekom, 900,000 customers with the Mirai worm. Post Office is the British ISP, TalkTalk another British ISP, hit by the Mirai worm because their routers were not patched.
Stacey: Well, actually that's not quite—with the Deutsche Telekom, they actually saw that folks were using Mirai and tried to patch it and when they did the attempted patch the did it all at once and they bricked a bunch of devices because it was inexpertly applied.
Leo: No, no.
Stacey: So they were trying.
Leo: It was a worldwide attack on selected remote management ports of DSL routers. There are 20 million Deutsche Telecom customer in Germany. A mere 900,000 got Mirai. But they now have out another patch out that works and advise users to reboot to clear the virus. Was this after this story that they did the patch or is this—
Stacey: No, this was the original story. We talked about it on our show earlier this week.
Leo: On the Real Stacey on IOT.
Stacey: The Real Stacey.
Om: It's true. The Real Stacey on IOT podcast. So you know, I think there has got to be a rule against the companies that don't, who don't do this properly, security. I think if your job is to provide internet access or banking, if they are unable to provide protection and encryption of data, they should be heavily penalized for it.
Stacey: Ok, so here's an interesting thought, Om. Because I had dude—ok, so there's the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group, actually put out a report last week talking about this and part of it was the role of ISPs. So the challenge they face with securing their routers, we can argue about this, that would be fun, is that if they block these attacks what happens is, or if they block, you know, certain—whenever they block anything or close off a port on a router they get a technical support call.
Leo: Oh, yea, it's hugely expensive for the big ISPs.
Stacey: So there like, ah, it costs a lot of money. Now the downside now is people are like, with Mirai, X number of their routers might be compromised easily so then they're like, "Is it more expensive to do it this way or that way?"
Leo: Right. Right. Well for a long time—
Om: Well shouldn't they be like proactively looking to block these things even before the attacks arise? In a sense part of their, you know, OP EX should be devoted entirely to fixing the problems before they—it's not like, very much like the medical system where we have you know, oh, you can go to the hospital after you've fallen sick. It's the same thing. It's like when we try to close the door after the frigging horse has you know, bolted, like why would you do that? Like why not try and you know, provide ways to not cause problems already? And I think that's what I mean is like if your job is to manage people's identity, people's internet access, people's banking, you should be like on the ultra-edge of preventing these attacks.
Leo: If only that were true. Yea, yea.
Stacey: I think they're coming into—like I expect most ISPs—oh, go ahead.
Om: No, go for it.
Leo: I like the word, by the way, and I know you said proactive but I thought you said broactive. And I think they should be broactive.
Om: What does that even mean?
Stacey: I'm like sitting here and like did they come and like punch you in the arm when they hand you a new router?
Stacey: Alright, bro, you're ready now.
Leo: Nice work, bro, you've got a new router.
Stacey: I was going to say—
Leo: Sorry, go ahead, please.
Stacey: That they were, they are looking at doing new routers but it's a pain to do customer premise equipment. You know, replacing millions of pieces of equipment in people's houses is arduous and you're always going to get these people who are like, "I like this. It works just fine." So—
Leo: Comcast very famously, you know, internet service providers hate it when you have an email server running at home and they're often put there by malware to send out spam. It was a big problem for years. And the solution was very simple which was merely to block port 25, the SMTP port. And Comcast resisted for years because they said, and you know, when you have millions of customer this makes sense, that they would get millions of phone calls. It would cost them millions of dollars if they did it. They eventually did it though. And this is the point they had to. And I think that you're going to get resistance from these companies saying, "Well, that's expensive." But I think you're right, Om, is hold their feet to the fire saying, "You have a responsibility if you're making equipment that's on the network, to preserve the network." Isn't that what Ma Bell used to say right before the Carter decision, Ma Bell said, "Well you can't just put any old equipment on the network because we've got to preserve the network integrity." Of course they lost that case.
Stacey: That's what any ISP, or any cellular provider says about their network, too.
Leo: Yea. Apple says, Appel tried to tell the Library of Congress it would be illegal to jailbreak an iPhone because that would make hackers have access to the cell towers.
Om: Oh, see, there you go again.
Leo: (Laughing) Alright, no, no, no. Here's some good news. JD Power released a new study today saying that the AirPort Extreme has number 1, number 1 customer satisfaction.
Om: That's why they shut it down.
Leo: That's why they, that's why they shut it down, baby.
Stacey: It's easy and now all these other companies are coming in and they're trying to do exactly that. I mean if you install—
Leo: Ask this question in a couple of years and I think eero, and Luma and Orbi and all these, OnHub, these are going to be the future I think.
Stacey: Because, yes, they're so much easier to set up and manipulate and deal with.
Leo: It's a little weird—
Stacey: Did you know?
Leo: In fact I asked eero about this because in order to use the eero router you have to create the eero account, either tied to your cell phone or your email. And I said, "Why do I have to do that?" That means you've now associated all the traffic on this router with me personally. And they said, "Well, yea, we'll protect your privacy, etcetera, etcetera, but the reason we do that is so we can update it for security. Having an account allows us to, you know, improve your router, specifically your router."
Stacey: And the other thing—
Leo: At the same time in the past, my Asus router didn't know who I was, right?
Stacey: Well, but your ISP knew who you were and the IP address is—we could still continue those arguments.
Leo: I always say that when people complain about Google knowing too much about us. Forget Google, what about your ISP? At least Google was a publicly held company and people are paying attention to it. Nobody cares. Your ISP can do anything it wants. In fact, if you're in England, your ISP is mandated to keep track of everything you do. And offer it at any time to any British authority including the Food Safety Authorities. Hmm.
Stacey: I was going to say, there is a pro side to eero having your account. Nick Weaver, the CEO of eero, he had told me originally that when they made the, when they started deploying their beta units, people kept putting in terrible passwords, like password123.
Stacey: And so he changed the whole system. He was like, "Screw it. We're going to do this like double op or two factor of a sort." So now you have to ask when you log into your account, you got to know your email address or your phone number and then you get an email or a text and you enter that code and then you can log on. So they're really trying. They're using that to make things more secure.
Leo: I think so. He told me the same thing and convinced me of the value of doing that. Here are the authorities allowed to access without warrant in the UK, your internet connection records, like every site you visited over the last year. Of course the Police Forces of London, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the British Transport Police, the Secret Intelligence Service, GCHQ, of course the Ministry of Defense, but the Department of Health?
Stacey: Oh, the Gambling Commission.
Leo: The Gambling Commission.
Stacey: Think of the lottery ads you could get.
Leo: I mean look at this list. It goes on and on and on. The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. The Information Commissioner. I don't even know who that is. The Ombudsman, Police Ombudsman for Norther Ireland. The Scottish Ambulance Service Board (laughing). But the best one is the Food Standards Agency I think, you know. Are you violating food standards? Well, let's check your, let's check your surf history just to make sure. Anyway, that was good news. JD Powers says you've got the best router. You should be happy, Om.
Stacey: Woo hoo.
Om: I don't have to buy a new one. I'm happy about that.
Leo: I think it's—ok.
Stacey: You'll be fine.
Leo: It's Stockholm Syndrome. Anybody who paid $200-dollars for an Apple router is going to think it's the best router.
Om: I didn't say that. I just asked you what should I do.
Leo: Are you getting any iCloud Calendar spam?
Om: Oh yea.
Leo: Oh yea. Like offers to buy Ray-Ban sunglasses.
Leo: Yea. Showing up in your calendar, this is—Apple's acknowledged the problem. They're saying, "We're sorry some of our users are receiving spam calendar invitations." Some of our users? I think everybody. "We're actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam." What they're not doing is changing the mechanism that allows any rando to put in a calendar event in your calendar.
Om: I think it's just like one of the things that you need to learn decode what Apple says and what Apple means. Some mean a lot of people are getting this spam.
Leo: (Laughing) That's the word. Some.
Om: I mean you know it's like the only challenge I have with Apple is that none of the Apple bloggers call them out on things.
Leo: Yea, that's what I'm trying to do, Om. I'm just trying to be honest.
Om: Yea, but there is like calling them out and disliking them.
Leo: I don't dislike them. I love Apple.
Om: Wow. That's like granny apple's or—
Leo: No, I love—you know what? I bought a Mac in the first hundred days. I went to Macy's and I charged it for $2,500-dollars and I've owned every Mac since. I even bought that silly Mac with the OLED Touch Bar on it. That's how much I love it.
Om: You want to get rid of it? I'll buy it from you.
Leo: You know, you just—well, no, I'm going to keep using it but the OLED Touch Bar, that's kind of goofy. I like the fingerprint thing, the Touch ID's good.
Om: Well I thought if you hated it, I could take it from you.
Leo: I don't hate it. I love it. It's my new laptop. See?
Om: No new Surface for you?
Leo: What do you think this is?
Leo: What do you think this is?
Om: From a laptop standpoint.
Leo: Oh, no, I have the old Surface Book. I think that's fine. I'm not a Windows fan either. You know, Om, I think you probably don't understand. I hate technology. That's why I got in this business. Yea.
Om: Oh, you're like the real natural born curmudgeon.
Leo: I am. I didn't used to be but then I started working with John C. Dvorak and he rubbed off.
Leo: It's his fault.
Om: I forgive you.
Leo: I blame him. No, you know I used to be way too positive about technology. But ultimately, here's the truth. My job is not to cheerlead for any technology or technology company but to cheerlead for users. I'm a user. I want to represent users' interests and if something's not working for people then we can do better, right?
Om: You and Stacey both.
Leo: Right? We're for the user, right?
Stacey: Right. Well, consumer, yes.
Leo: Yea, consumers.
Om: You are for the people, not the user or the consumer. Those are negative terms.
Leo: He's not any kind of user.
Stacey: Like if you spend a hundred to a couple thousand dollars on something, it should work and it should not—
Leo: Yes, thank you.
Om: That is called IOT, the entire ecosystem. You buy things and then keep buying them.
Leo: They never work.
Stacey: So I have a couple things that work but yea, you're right. I took someone to task, I took August to task this week on the show because I was so frustrated with some things they've done, so.
Leo: What is August?
Stacey: The lock, connected locks.
Leo: How come they're—we've run out of names so now I've got the June Oven and the August Lock? Am I going to have the July router and the September Laptop?
Om: There is a company called July Systems. They make networking equipment for the telephones.
Stacey: So there you go, routers.
Leo: You see?
Stacey: It's possible.
Leo: It's possible. Let's take a break.
Stacey: I mean if the domain's available.
Leo: Om, I'm going to try to cheer up. I love this. And I'm not a Windows fan but I love the Surface Studio, just because I like being able to touch this stuff. It's so awesome. Yea, make it big and small and twist it.
Om: You should get someone to bring you some more wine and get you in the holiday cheer mood.
Leo: I'm in the holiday spirit. I am. This is my Christmas gift to myself. Our show today—
Om: To yourself?
Leo: Well, yea, who else? I don't give gifts to other people. I give them to me.
Stacey: Wait a second. What have I been doing on this show?
Stacey: Dang it.
Leo: No, I'm teasing. Your gift is in the mail, Stacey.
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Leo: Stacey is here. Stacey Higginbotham of staceyoniot.com and the IOT podcast and her little puppy.
Stacey: Oh, I was going to say, can you hear her?
Om: That is a new puppy?
Stacey: It's the same puppy. Well, it's a different puppy. You've known two puppies.
Stacey: This one barks a lot and is annoying.
Leo: The other one just barked a lot?
Leo: Ok (laughing). Also here, Om Malik. These two used to work together as you probably figured this out at Gigaom. Om is at om.co and his interviews are pi.co, P-I.C-O. And he's on the Twitter @om. Did you get the AirPods yet Om? I see you're wearing the wired headphones. You want to have the wires?
Om: I think I'm ok without the AirPods.
Leo: Rene Ritchie was in the studio—
Stacey: No one has them, right?
Leo: Well, only reviewers. Rene was in the studio. He had them and I played with them but those are the pre-release, right? I don't know if this is a true story or not, but somebody emailed—according to somebody, and they can't really verify that this is a real email, passed along to 9to5Mac, I'm sorry, Mac Rumors, he sent an email to Tim Cook saying, "Give us a release date. I really bought into the wireless vision you painted, Tim, now I'm stuck waiting with my EarPods but can't charge my 7 at the same time which I need to do at work. Let us know if it's a month of six months because if it is, I'll just buy some other wireless headphones." To which Tim Cook responded, "Thanks for your note. Sorry for the delay. we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks." This was November 30th.
Om: That's such a great non-answer. He's so good.
Leo: Could be a hundred weeks.
Om: Right. It makes you feel so good that I got the email and it's coming but it's such a non-answer.
Stacey: Yea, but when. I don't know. But how nice that he emailed me.
Leo: Yea. Well Steve Jobs used to do that, right? Middle of the night emails?
Leo: I think—
Om: He had a bot.
Leo: Well, Tim has a posse. I mean every major executive these days has an Office of the Executive that includes a bunch of people whose sole job is to send these canned responses to email, right? I even have that. I have about 15 people answer my email.
Om: Whoa, you must be doing really well.
Om: Oh, we need to have a talk, my friend.
Leo: No, in fact I found a new method. I ignore all emails.
Stacey: It's true. He's never responded to one of mine. And I've only sent him 2 in the entire six months I've known him.
Leo: I should respond. I'm sorry. I found yours the other day. I was searching for something and I saw one from you and I said, "Oh. Stacey sent me an email 4 weeks ago." I told you that. I said it was a very nice email. I appreciate it.
Stacey: It was a nice email.
Leo: I will red pencil it and send it back to you.
Om: See if you answered more emails you would not be sitting in the studio by yourself.
Leo: Who would have time? No, no, that's not it. I wouldn't have time to sit in the studio by myself. I'd be busy answering email. What do you mean, by myself? You're here in virtual reality.
Om: No. Can you smell my nice cologne?
Leo: No, what kind of cologne are you wearing?
Om: That doesn't matter since you can't smell it.
Leo: Frankly, mainly the reason we don't have people in the studio is so I don't have to smell them.
Stacey: I smell delicious. I don't know what you're talking about.
Om: It's the other way around, like you know—
Leo: No, I don't smell at all.
Om: You must be sweating under that sweater.
Leo: No smell. I use products that have no smell.
Om: You put the sweat in the sweater, man.
Leo: (Laughing). Are you wearing perfume, Stacey?
Stacey: No, no, but I cooked. I spent 3 hours cooking a beef kind of stew thing with bacon and wine and deglazing and onions.
Om: Oh God.
Stacey: So I smell like deliciousness but probably not like—
Leo: No, you don't smell like deliciousness. You smell like old sofa cushions. You think you smell like deliciousness.
Stacey: Everything in my house smells like this right now.
Leo: Yea. When I—every time I barbeque, my hair gets smoked and then I smell like that for days. I hate it.
Stacey: Ok, barbeque smoke is totally different than bacon (laughing). I smell like bacon.
Leo: Bacon's pretty good.
Om: Stacey, you and I are not getting invited back to the show.
Leo: No, I love you guys. No, if I could, in fact I would fire everybody else and it would just be you two every week.
Om: Talking about food.
Stacey: Now you might get your wish.
Om: You lost all of your audience right now.
Leo: No, no. They love you. Except for that one guy who says, "Who is this Om guy? He seems to know nothing."
Om: There's a lot of people like that.
Leo: They don't know how deep the Om river is.
Om: Really? Is it?
Leo: Yea, you're the Marianas Trench of tech journalists.
Om: Ok. Can we talk about tech please?
Stacey: Hey let's talk about net neutrality.
Om: Yes, Stacey, why don't you talk about net neutrality.
Stacey: I want to talk about net neutrality.
Leo: All right. So, this is a good one. I really enjoyed this article. The FCC came up with the opinion that AT&T and their new DirecTV Now violates net neutrality because of course AT&T says, "We're not going to charge you for bandwidth you use when you watch DirecTV Now as an AT&T customer." Zero rating right? But there's a little problem. Like the FCC is the ultimate lame duck agency at this point. In a few weeks, January 20th, the new president will get to nominate a new Chairman of the FCC. In fact Congress has already said that to the FCC, "Don't do anything."
Stacey: The FCC is already—yes, they stopped, they stopped doing—
Leo: They stopped doing stuff. This must be like a leftover.
Stacey: Well, yes. This is something—I mean, Tom Wheeler is banking big on net neutrality being his—actually protecting consumers' rights, which he's done a really good job of—
Leo: He is not the dingo that we thought he was.
Stacey: He is not. So yea, this is so frustrating because this is what everyone said is going to happen when we allow zero rating. This is not a surprise to anyone.
Leo: Yea. Yea.
Stacey: And oh, look, it's happening. And AT&T and Verizon by ignoring T-Mobile and not going after the first move or the weakest one—
Leo: Because T-Mobile started this with their Binge On Program.
Stacey: They did. Binge On and zero rating for Spotify and some things which everyone's like, "Hey, free Spotify." We're like, "No."
Leo: This is why it's so hard. Zero rating is so hard because customers love it.
Leo: What they don't understand, and I feel like I'm preaching at them when I say this, is it's not good for you (laughing). You shouldn't—I know you're not paying anything for listening to Spotify but the problem is the next hot, new, exciting music service is disadvantaged. You won't listen to them because they cost you bandwidth. So in effect, you're telling John Ledger and T-Mobile, you guys get to pick who the winners are. And we don't want T-Mobile to pick who the winners are. We don't want AT&T to pick who the winners are. We want the market and consumers pick who the winners are. Did I describe that accurately?
Stacey: You were so good. I'm so glad I didn't have to do that because I would have just gone on and one.
Leo: Part of the problem is the term net neutrality is terrible.
Leo: And I wish we could come up with a better name. I keep thinking maybe net discrimination or bandwidth discrimination.
Om: Network freedom.
Leo: Well it's for freedom but it's against discrimination.
Stacey: It's—yea. But discrimination, they got that, they took advantage of that word because discrimination in the FCC sense now means a lot of crazy things. But, on this story, so AT&T with DirecTV, that's their own service. So they're basically like, "Ooo! You belong to us." And that's why the FCC went after them. So with T-Mobile, T-Mobile wasn't being as egregious in doing—
Leo: Well it's worse, it's worse than AT&T, yea.
Stacey: It is way worse.
Leo: But it's not really worse because ultimately the whole problem is picking winners, whether it's you or somebody else. And we don't know what deals T-Mobile's making with these companies to get zero rated. Zero rating is, by the way, another terrible phrase. These phrases are chosen to obfuscate the problem.
Stacey: Hmm mmm. Because the people in their marketing departments are great. AT&T Sponsored Data. So, with this, I'm just so sad because AT&T, even if the FCC does go, even if the FCC had the ability to go after them, which I don't think given the people that are in Trump's transition team that's going to happen, AT&T and Verizon will fight like hell to make sure this goes through. And they fight the long game. I mean the fact that we're still talking about net neutrality, how long, Om, has it been since we've been doing net neutrality, like 2008, 2009? I mean before 2005 the term was invented.
Om: I mean I think about this since day one and it's so nice to see two other people talk about stuff that you know, made my head explode.
Leo: I just signed up for the free trial of DirecTV Now and it's supposed to be a free 7-day trial, but—I wish I could show you. Maybe I've hustled through this. Oh, yea, here we go. So, this is supposed to be free and it's very confusing. Lock it in. Pay $35-dollars every month. No, wait a minute. I don't want to—should I press the continue button or no? What am I paying for? Add to plan? But I don't—it's supposed to be free. Ok, continue. Prepay, we'll hook you up. No, what? It's supposed to be free. Oh, wait a minute, this is free, prepay 3 months today. It's free, right? Credit card? I'm not giving you a—what the hell? So this is, by the way, in case you think, "Oh, no. AT&T's nice. They wouldn't screw anybody.
Stacey: No one thinks that.
Leo: I can't continue without giving them a credit card.
Stacey: So, that's pretty common on free trials.
Leo: Total due—wait a minute. Wait a minute. Total due today, $105-dollars? That's common on free trials?
Stacey: Oh, that is not. That is not.
Leo: Total due today? $105-dollars? That's—wait a minute. It's time. It's time for me to make this big and to use my Telestrator, total due today, $105-dollars, due today. That's not free.
Stacey: Scroll down. I want to see there T&C because AT&T has the best.
Leo: Oh, you are weird if you want to see that. Well, ok, all right.
Stacey: No, because that's when they're telling what you're paying for.
Leo: Compatible device and browser required. Residential customers only. Available in the US only. Excludes Puerto Rico and U.S.—
Stacey: No, ok, so the free trial part.
Leo: New subscribers only. Cancel before end of trial or it automatically renews monthly at the rate in effect at sign-up, minimum $35-dollars a month is charged to your payment method on file until you cancel. View, modify or cancel at any time at DirecTV Now. Once cancelled you can go to DirecTV, blah, blah, blah. But ok, but, but, but, but, total due today. This is not free. $105-dollars? How did it get to that?
Stacey: Yea, where did that come from?
Leo: Your 7 free days will be added to the end of your free—wait a minute. Your 7 days will be added to the end of your prepaid period. You'll be charged $105-dollars today and your regular monthly payments of $35-dollars a month will start on March 11. That's not free.
Om: That's what they count on.
Stacey: That's AT&T. I love them. There you go.
Leo: We just need your info. Give us your info. Info. I want your info.
Om: I saw the same thing with Adobe Creative Suite subscription, exactly the same thing. I got so frustrated I just canceled. I'm going to go with you know, programs I can buy now.
Leo: Grr (laughing). Well, I wanted to try it for a week just so I could demonstrate it tomorrow on IOS Today and all of that but I guess not. And how do you fight customers who say, "Well wait a minute. It doesn't cost against my bandwidth. Isn't that a good thing? What's wrong with that?"
Stacey: You just have to explain. I mean, that's the thing. It's like explaining that sugar is going to like rot your teeth. I mean it's exactly like, but I want it.
Leo: But it's sugar. It's sweet.
Stacey: Right. It's wonderful.
Om: You believe that.
Leo: I'll go to the dentist later. By the way, somebody in the chatroom just got me. He said, "But, Leo, they're just optimizing for profit." (Laughing).
Om: Actually whoever that person is, hats off.
Leo: All right. You win (laughing). That's their job. They're just optimizing for profit.
Stacey: This is—
Leo: Go ahead. We're going to take a little break but let's talk some more about his because I have a feeling we're not done.
Leo: But I do want to talk about a free deal that really is a free deal and is really awesome. It's from Audible.com. We love audio books. I love audio books and I've been an Audible subscriber since the year 2000. That's when I first subscribed to Audible because I had the commute from heck. 20-hours minimum a week on the road which meant I got to read a lot of books. It's awesome. Is that right? No, no. From 10-20 hours, on the worst day it was a 2-hour commute each way, all the way to San Francisco. So, here's the deal. If you go right now to Audible.com/twit2, you can try it free for 30-days, get 2 books free and keep them, even if you pay nothing. You'll be signing up for the Platinum—and I want to, here's the fine print. You'll be signing up for the Platinum account, that's their subscription that gives you 2 books a month. You also get the daily digest of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. But if you cancel in the first 30-days you'll pay nothing and the books are yours forever. So that's how this works with your 2 free books. I want you to go to Audible.com and just check out all of the stuff. So many great books. Trevor Noah's newest just came out, of course the host of The Daily Show, Born a Crime. If you're a fan of Science Fiction, the Peter Hamilton Fallen Dragon which is one we recommend you start with, 26 hours. You get that for free. I listen to a lot of rock music, like I've got Bruce Springsteen's book on pre-order. That comes out in a week or two. You can get that for free. Just there's so much great stuff on here. Mr. Robot. This is the creator of Mr. Robot. This is actually an interesting book. It's a tie-in for Mr. Robot. It's Elliot's journal. And it's written by Sam Esmail who created the show and Courtney Looney who helps write it. So it's kind of the story behind Season 2 and what's to come. I think this is an interesting way to do a tie-in. It's not a novelization. It's the journal. You know who else's journal is on Audible that is just, it's going crazy? Princess Leah, her journal.
Stacey: Oh, Carrie Fiscer's?
Leo: Carrie Fisher's journal. People are going crazy because Carrie blows the lid off her relationship with Harrison Ford back when they were making the move. These are her diaries from when she was making the 1st Star Wars movie. And of course, Carrie Fisher is in it. I love her. I've been hearing interviews with her and she's just great. So—
Stacey: She is phenomenal.
Leo: Here's the chance to get 2 books free if you go to Audible.com/twit and the number 2. Audible.com/twit and the number 2, lots of great books on here. That's the hardest part is to pick a book. But once you do—oh, there's a new Neil Gaiman. Oh, I love Neil Gaiman. Oh, and he reads it. Oh, boy. Actually it's not new. It came out in May. The View from the Cheap Seats.
Stacey: Oh, that's his essays.
Leo: Yea, it's nonfiction. But listen to his voice.
Neil Gaiman: Some things I believe. I believe that in the battle between guns and ideas, ideas will eventually win.
Leo: He is the best narrator for an author I've ever heard. He's just—it's a great performance. In fact, listen to his other books, like he narrates Neverwhere which is just so beautiful, such a—oh, John Quincy Adams. There's a new biography. I listen to a lot of biographies, too. Anyway, pick 2 books and enjoy. Do Travel Writers Go to Hell. Maybe. Maybe. This is the one I've got on my wish list. Millennium: From Religion to Revolution: How Civilization Has Changed over a Thousand Years. Ian Mortimer is a great historian and popularizer and I'm very excited about this. This is in my wish list for next, when I next get credits. But you could get it right now. The nice thing about Audible is you download it and it's yours immediately. You can even stream it on a Chromebook. They have apps for the iPhone, for Android, for Windows Phone, for Windows. Just fabulous. Audible.com/twit2. We thank them for their support.
Leo: And by the way, AT&T, if you want to advertise on TWiT, I'll be much nicer to you. No. No. No.
Stacey: I might not.
Leo: I won't (laughing). No, I won't. The truth is we wouldn't accept the advertising. This happens a lot by the way. People come and say, "We want to buy ads." And we'll say, "Well, did you hear what Leo said about you three shows ago?" (laughing). And then we never hear from them again. Let's see. Google AI reads retinas to prevent blindness in diabetics. I think Google's starting to leak out on an almost like weekly basis new information from its artificial intelligence research, just to kind of say, "See what we can do now?" So the latest is an AI that can detect and identify and diagnose diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy which is a big cause of blindness among adults, using deep learning. So it looks at retinal photos, normal and abnormal, learns what abnormal looks like and now can classify it. Pretty cool.
Stacey: We're going to see a lot more of that.
Leo: It's just the beginning I think, isn't it?
Stacey: I mean you can, there's the Parkinson's test for how your voice sounds. There's this. There's—I feel like there's one for macular degeneration or maybe it's cataracts.
Leo: Cataracts for sure, yea. Yea.
Stacey: So, I love it. I think it does bring up some interesting, like how soon would you tell someone if you see that they're in this group? It's kind of like the BR, I don't know how, the BRCA testing.
Leo: Oh, yea, yea. The breast cancer gene.
Stacey: So, like we're not there yet but it brings up all these interesting like—
Leo: If the test is accurate. Or even 90% accurate I think you have a—you have to tell them.
Stacey: So what it it's 90% accurate, you tell them, but like now this person has to go find a doctor. They have—
Leo: They have to decide if they want a double mastectomy because they're at high risk for breast cancer.
Stacey: Oh, we're talking about breast cancer.
Leo: Is that the BRCA? What is the BRCA gene?
Stacey: It is. It is. Sorry. I thought, I was thinking about something like retinal-- I cannot say the words.
Om: Like take a step back and say what is, how are we going to train people to think about medicine which has been so far prescriptive, not preventative?
Om: I think that's the bigger challenge we have.
Om: Form a social standpoint it's like how do we make people, healthcare system and all these other issues including how people pay for medicine and medical care, to come to terms with the predictive nature of our technologies as they go forward. And I think that is—again, part of my whole conversation about technologies having empathy is understanding that aspect of it, like I mean it might be good for people who can afford to go and get treatment and what if you don't have any ability to pay for treatment? Are you sentenced to death in that sense and how do you live with something like that? And I think the ethics around these issues are pretty important to discuss and talk about. And I think most technology companies need to start doing that as well, especially Google. In my opinion they need to take some time around these issues.
Stacey: Yes, and even if it's not a death sentence per se, if your phone says, "Hey, you might have Parkinson's" and you don't have insurance or you can't afford a doctor's appointment, just even getting a sense like, you know, even getting an ok there becomes like to see if you're ok, is expensive and prohibitive. Or it usually takes—I know to go into my doctor, it takes me sometimes—like my neurologist has like a 6-week waiting list, right? And so thinking about living with your phone saying you might have something wrong with you for a long period of time, I mean even a doctor doesn't call you on the phone and tell you negative test results usually. They make you come in and they give you a lot of information. I don't know. It just—I can see this going very bad, very poorly.
Om: Leo, what do you think?
Leo: Well I think there's two different issues. There's the—I love what you said which is it is completely rethinking how we think about medicine. Although there's always been preventative medicine and the best medical treatment is kind of holistic and proactive as opposed to treating an illness, right? And I think many you know, even some enlightened health insurers, particularly the HMOs are starting to think that way although the economics of health insurance, it turns out, discourages that. Paul Krugman in his book, The Conscience of a Liberal, talks about the fact that health insurers don't think long term because people move around a lot. So they don't like to insure proactive diagnostics because you're going to find a problem that they're not going to have to pay for in many cases. So why pay for the proactive treatment if they're not going to have to pay for the reactive treatment when you get the heart attack? And so that's why modern health insurance isn't doing a very good job in terms of that. But I think medicine in general and doctors understand the real value of kind of finding problems before they occur and treating for them. That's not—there's no, that's nothing new, is it? On the other hand, we do—and boy, that's a really good example, we were talking about income inequality, you could talk about that in many ways besides just money and that's a very good example of an inequality that's created by information and the ability to do something about it.
Om: I think the information is a lot like, the inequality is based on data and information and some people will have more information if you can afford it, right? Just like me. I'm asking you how to secure my computer system and my phones when there are people whose phones are being hijacked my malware. So I think the disparity in the society is also starting to reflect in our technology products in that way as well.
Leo: Well I do hope that, you know, we get better at—you know I'm all for genetic testing and things like that. There's an ethical issue but I don't—you know, this BRCA2 is a good example where, and it's used primarily because the response is so dramatic, right?
Leo: And so if it were merely, "You should start taking Vitamin C," you would to, "Yea, well whatever. I'm going to do that." But if it's a double mastectomy, that's so dramatic that then, well now we've got a question about whether we should diagnose that or not.
Om: I mean these are tough issues to deal with.
Leo: Yes. And technology puts us in the position of having to deal with them but only humans can deal with it. These are ethical issues.
Stacey: Well and technology will help us refine things and make it better too. So the more data we have from patients and we have the compute capability to analyze this in a way that we've never had before and a way to do it really cheaply and quickly. So it's possible we'll get to a point where soon we can be like, "Oh, you have BRCA1 and you have this other crazy gene up here. In 88% of the cases we have this, that merits a double mastectomy." So I want us to be cautious and I want us to think about how we, because we don't often talk about this, but how do you deliver that data? What are the next steps from—because that's where technology falls short. We don't think about anything beyond like, "Oh, we can do this." And we need to think beyond that. And I—with genetic testing it becomes really scary. With health testing it has the potential to be incredibly accurate but also incredibly disruptive if you tell someone that and you know, we don't have data sharing and privacy mechanisms in place really for this either.
Leo: This happens, all this technology stuff is happening so fast that it's taking a lot longer for human institutions to adjust. I mean that's just really kind of the story in a nutshell of the last few years. And it will be the story for the next decade and maybe forever. Technology moves faster than our human institutions can adjust to it. And there's lots of disruption as a result of it. And we are in a—we are easily in the most disruptive era in humanity right now.
Stacey: I feel like we have a less sympathetic and a less reflective culture too right now. As we have a ver consumeristic culture, there's a lot of people who don't think about, to circle back to Om, you know, they're not thinking about the repercussions about what they do. And I don't know—
Leo: I would argue the opposite.
Leo: I think human history if you look at it is pretty bleak and pretty grim. I just finished a book, 300 Years of Romanov Czars. Those people were nasty (laughing). And they really subjugated millions of Russian people in the most horrible way possible. And I think we are—the fact that we even have these discussions is a massive improvement over years gone by. I admit we're not perfect. We've got a long way to go but I think that we're maybe more perfect than we've ever been. I know—look, I'm the one that's always saying, "The sleazy side of the internet and dystopian" and all that stuff, but really, from a historical perspective, don't you think we're better off than we've ever been before?
Stacey: I think we take for granted because we're not physically beating people or taking them out like Stalin did and shooting them that we're in a better place.
Leo: Well I think that's a step forward.
Stacey: Yes. That is true. I'm not going to argue that. But I think the understanding of what people can do with your data and how you can subjugate people through pricing, through access to information, through all of this, it's so much more subtle but it's still, it's still a problem. It's still a problem.
Leo: Oh, I agree. But I mean look at for instance woman's rights. It's far from perfect. You know, women still are mistreated in some parts of the globe horribly. But I think—
Om: You mean North America.
Leo: Yea, in North America. But I think there's, progress has been made and you can even say globally. Admittedly there are some places where it's not very good at all but globally there has been progress. I think—which is not to say A. We shouldn't work on being better. We've got a long way to go. But it's also say, we shouldn't say B. Well, it's so terrible—we are making progress. We have to acknowledge, we are making progress. I think we're generally—maybe I'm wrong. Are we not generally making progress in the world? It's not evenly distributed, I understand.
Stacey: I would say that we're acknowledging things that happen better. But like—
Leo: That's a step.
Stacey: Oh, but we have so far to—I mean like—
Leo: We're not perfect.
Stacey: You want to talk like—yes.
Leo: We've got a long way to go. I admit that. We've got a long way to go. But we're—you know, in race relations we've got a long way to go. Of course we don't have slaves anymore at least in the US.
Stacey: We have a long way to go. Actually, no. I'm sorry.
Leo: It's better than it was though, right?
Stacey: It is not.
Leo: Oh, ok. See I'm trying to cheer Om out.
Stacey: I'm going to say no because one out of every 4 women are sexually assaulted.
Leo: I know. I know it's terrible. That's not acceptable.
Stacey: And there's still, we still have to deal—I mean we're not property anymore. We have the right to vote, so some of us, but no. And I'm not going to accept that—I can accept that there's progress but I can't accept that we should stop and it feels like your argument here is—
Leo: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We've got a long way to go. We shouldn't stop.
Stacey: And I'm just talking, I mean, not just women but technology and looking at, and asking these questions because I feel like we really aren't asking these questions and we have to. Because otherwise, what are we—we're going to live in like Margaret Atwood's Orcs and Crake world or God help us something even worse.
Leo: Right. All right. I will stand corrected. We got some more news, acquisitions, sales and goodbye to a company that did change technology in many ways but we'll get to that in a moment. First a word for the holidays.
Leo: You see all these decorations? You know what that means? Don't go to the Post Office, whatever you do. That's what it means to me. I don't know about you. The lines are long. There's people with boxes on boxes on boxes. You're going to go there to buy stamps? You're crazy. Why do that when you can do everything you do at the post office online from the comfort and convenience of your own non-crowded desk at Stamps.com. Stamps.com is how we do mailing. If you are in the—maybe you sell on Etsy or eBay or maybe you send out invoices or maybe you send out brochures. If you do mailing of any kind, professionalize your operation with Stamps.com. It will save you money. It will save you time. It will save you the hassle of going to the post office in the holiday season. Open a Stamps.com account with our special offer and you'll also get some goodies. Go to Stamps.com, click the microphone and enter the offer code TWiT. You're going to get a digital scale. You have to pay postage on that which is $5-bucks but to make up for it they give you a $5-dollar supply kit and just because they're nice, people, $55-dollars in free postage. Yea. Now you can't use it all at once. You have to spread it out. But believe me, that's a big savings. And of course a month to try Stamps.com. You plug the digital scale into the USB port on your computer, you login to your account. Now you can print postage at the top of the page with your computer, your printer. You don't need a postage meter. You can print on plain paper. You can literally print it on the envelope. It will print the return address. It will print your company logo. You can—they have little stickers that make it stamps, like stamps, print stamps out. You can print on the package label. You place your package, your letter on the scale, it will suggest how to save money. It will say, "Well, that looks like it would be good for media mail. Is it a book?" Yes. "Oh, well we'll save you some money on that." It tells you all the options including certified mail, shows you the cost for each, you pick the one that's right for you. You print the label to your printer. You attach it to your package and then you don't even get up to mail it. The postman comes to you. Get the exact postage the instant that you need it. You don't overpay. Have you ever done that? Put extra stamps on because you don't know how much it weighs or heaven forfend, put too little postage on, then the recipient has to pay postage due? Oh. At Stamps.com there are special discounts you can't get at the post office. They fill out the paperwork for you if you've got, you know, international mailing. They do it all right from the website. They can pick up your address book from a lot of different websites or from the common applications you use on your computer. I could go on and on. Really, but you've got to try this. It's free for the next 4-weeks if you go to Stamps.com, click the microphone, use the promo code TWiT and you'll also get all those other benefits. It's great. I love it. We use it. Stamps.com.
Leo: We had a very good week this week on TWiT. Lots of fun talking about tech and here's a little, a little mini movie showing you some of the things you might have missed. Watch.
Narrator: Previously, on TWiT.
Phil Yip: And down low for art. So, it's like all business up high and a party down low.
Leo: It's the mullet of personal computers. Business on the top and party on the back.
Narrator: Android App Arena.
Jason Howell: In case you haven't heard by now, virtual reality is apparently the next big thing, or at least that's what a lot of people in the tech industry think. Personally, I'm pretty hyped about VR. So then let's dive into a few great VR puzzle games for Daydream in this week's roundup.
Narrator: Windows Weekly.
Leo: And you probably noticed that I have something rather massive sitting in front of me.
Mary Jo Foley: Look at that.
Paul Thurrott: It's the new iPad Pro. Oh, wait.
Leo: You know, it's so funny. This is the Surface Studio which came out Monday. It's hard not to love this.
Narrator: Security Now.
Steve Gibson: You hacked all data encrypted so that was the message on the San Francisco Muni. As a consequence of this hack, gave, which actually was a crypto-ware attack, gave passengers free rides all day Saturday, because the entire fare processing system was down.
Narrator: TWiT. Broadcasting from the capitol of the free world, Petaluma, California.
Leo: A great week ahead. Megan Morrone, what's coming up?
Megan Morrone: Thanks, Leo. Here's a look at just a few of the stories we'll be watching in the week ahead. Google WiFi ships this week on December 5. It's a $130-dollar mesh router that Jason is getting to blanket his house with Wi-Fi because we all want that really. The Oculus Touch Motion controllers also ship this week on December 6th and you will be able to get your hands on, get it, get your hands on, 50 different games and apps that work with Oculus Touch in the Oculus Store. And this is Computer Science Education Week which means it's time again for the hour of code. That's the time when anyone all over the world can use the Hour of Code tutorials to help anybody from age 4 – 104 learn to code. Among the many events, Apple will host Hour of Code workshops at nearly all of its stores from December 5 to December 11th. TechCrunch Disrupt is happening in London, so we're bound to hear a smattering of startup news. And finally, according to Wikipedia, December 5 is Day of the Ninja. You are hereby encouraged to dress like a ninja, engage in ninja related activities and spread ninja information online. This of course serves as a virtual counterpoint to Talk Like a Pirate Day. Jason Howell and I weill cover all of this and a whole lot more all week on Tech News Today, each and every week day at 4:00 PM Pacific. That is a look at the week ahead. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: Thank you, Megan. Catch Megan and Jason Monday through Friday on Tech News Today at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern, 2400 UTC. And Megan will be with us tomorrow for IOS Today. That's going to be a lot of fun. We're talking tech. Stacey's here, Stacey Higginbotham from TWiG, she's on This Week in Google every Wednesday. The IOT podcast with Kevin Tofel. She's @gigastacey on Twitter. Om Malik is here, the legend, the legend at om.co and pi.com or should I say pi.com.
Leo: Thank you. P-I.C-O. pi.co is a different site. That's a sad thing to see Pebble, which was the most successful Kickstarter of its time. They raised $10-million dollars in 2012 for the Pebble Watch. They were asking for $100,000. Then they came back to the well. They asked for $500,000 for the Pebble Time. Snaked $20-million dollars. It's an amazing success story. And at one point, they were offered—what was it? $740-million dollars?
Stacey: Yea, I think it was 750 maybe?
Leo: They turned it down. And then a little later on somebody came along and offered them, you know, $70-milllion. They turned it down. Now Fitbit is apparently acquiring Pebble and it's thought to be for somewhere around $40-million dollars, a lot less. In fact, one of the reasons it's so less is Pebble has a huge amount of debt. The Pebble—this is from, of course, Jessica Lessin and Reed Albergotti at The Information. The Pebble brand will be phased out after the deal. Fitbit gets Pebble's intellectual property, its operating system. And it's kind of a sad end to a real high flyer. What happened?
Stacey: Om, you want to opine?
Om: Because we are investors in Fitbit, I will politely excuse myself.
Leo: Well that was very polite.
Stacey: That was lovely.
Leo: How about you, Stacey? Are you an investor in Fitbit?
Stacey: I am not an investor. I did—you know what? I did order a Pebble off of a Kickstarter.
Leo: I ordered the first one and the second one. I did both of them.
Stacey: I had the first one and I did the Pebble Core which still hasn't shipped so I'm like, oh. But it's not supposed to ship until January.
Leo: I don't think you're getting it.
Stacey: Hush your mouth. Hush your mouth.
Leo: I don't think you're getting it. I gave my Pebble Time away. It was nice. You know the problem is the category is I think smart watches are not—at the same time that that happened, Motorola said, "Yea, we're not going to make another Moto 360, the Android Wear watch." I like that one. The round one I'm wearing one right now. It's ironic because I often say, well, Apple Watch is kind of a flop too. But Apple Watch sells pretty well. In fact, Rene Ritchie said, "You know, you're a hypocrite." No, he didn't say that but he pointed out that Apple Watches outsold the Amazon Echo by 300% and we all say the Echo is the next big thing and the Apple Watch is a flop.
Stacey: I have never said the Apple Watch is a flop.
Leo: I say it.
Stacey: I was going to say that it feels like, it would be terrible to be a startup. It would be terrible to be the CEO of a startup in Silicon Valley because you know, this idea that you can change the world with hardware is right now just so hot and it feels like, just dumb. I mean even Fitbit, you know, when they went public, everyone was like—and look at GoPro. You've got this product. People don't replace it all the time. It's—
Leo: GoPro, there's another example. Yea, they had a terrible quarter.
Stacey: They laid off, what, 200 people I think? 15%?
Leo: 15%. They lost millions of dollars. And frankly, is that because of competition? Is it because we don't need a GoPro because I've got a smartphone?
Stacey: No it's because you can buy a GoPro and it lasts for a long time and you don't need multiple.
Leo: You don't need another one.
Stacey: It's a good product. Poor thing, you know. And—
Leo: Somebody said GoPro is a media company. That really they're success was the GoPro YouTube channel and the GoPro Extreme Videos and they really should have saw themselves as a media company, not as a hardware company.
Stacey: That sounds like something Om would say.
Leo: Did you say that? He's looking really nice now with the dark background and the lighting. I like it. The sun has gone down in San Francisco. You're looking better and better. I love that.
Stacey: You look so good in the dark, Om (laughing).
Om: Just don't show your face.
Leo: Casey Neistat who created a very successful YouTube Channel, 5.8 million subscribers and an app that was a high flyer at first, a million downloads, but then it really didn't go anywhere, called Beme, has been acquired by CNN. Actually, I mean you can't acquire a person these days, so they acquired Beme but he came along with it, I guess.
Leo: I really think he's a talented guy and it's interesting. CNN showing that they need to somehow figure out a strategy in the new world.
Stacey: So you think that buying this company or getting him is going to be their strategy?
Leo: Historically that's never worked, has it?
Stacey: That's not a great strategy, but ok.
Leo: It's better than nothing. What else are you going to do if you're CNN? What do you do?
Stacey: I report. I don't know. Snapchat channels.
Leo: That's the other thing they did. Snapchat channels. Anybody going to run out and buy some Snapchat Spectacles?
Stacey: You know, if the vending machine lands in Austin, I would buy them.
Leo: I would get in line. Christina Warren—
Om: I stood in the line in New York.
Leo: You did?
Om: It was just so long I was like you know what? I don't need it that badly.
Leo: Christina Warren wrote a very funny piece about how dirty she felt waiting in line for 5 hours for the Snapchat Spectacles, probably the same line you did. I don't know.
Om: I didn't see her.
Leo: The Hellscape of Waiting 5 Hours in Line for Spectacles. And she starts it with the best lead ever, which I can't read out loud because it is profane, "I am such an a-hole. This is the only conclusion I could come to after waiting five hours in line for two pairs of Snap Inc.'s new Spectacles, sunglasses with a camera attached in New York City on Thursday." Did you wait on Thursday? Was it this recently?
Om: Yea, last week.
Leo: That's it. So maybe you saw Christina in line there.
Om: That was the worst idea ever for me.
Leo: There a was a popup store on 5th Avenue.
Om: Sorry, sorry.
Leo: It was right down the—you're getting tired. We're going to go to bed soon. Don't worry. It's on 5th Avenue. It's just down the street from Trump Tower (laughing). That wasn't political at all.
Stacey: No, I'm just like, gosh, you've got to contend with like tech nerds and hipsters and Secret Service and ah!
Leo: Christina writes, "A lot of tech reporters braved the line last week, but I honestly couldn't be bothered. "There is no way I'm going to wait hours in line for some stupid glasses," is something I may have actually said out loud. But I am a liar and an a-hole. In spite of my own thoughts about the, spectacle of Spectacles, when I found myself near the pop-up on Thursday, I couldn't help but try my luck."
Om: Now I went the week before and it was a massive line and yea, I couldn't do it.
Leo: You know what? I have to read the whole damn article to find out if she ever got any. I guess she did.
Stacey: She said she got 2 pairs.
Leo: "Finally, at 9:52, I was next. The minion vending machine itself is actually pretty cool, as you can preview what the glasses will look like on your face. Then you select your color, swipe your credit card, grab your stuff, and go. At 9:55, I finally emerged from the store with two pairs of Spectacles." Oh my God. Would you wear those in public?
Stacey: No. I think it's good that they're like utterly ridiculous. Although I'm sure people will wear them in public and take pictures and they're better than Google Glass so.
Leo: It's the IKEA effect, right? Hasn't somebody observed that because you assembled and with great pain, your own furniture, you love it more? If you wait 5 hours in line for Spectacles you're going to love them.
Stacey: That's like paying $200-dollars for the AirPort Router.
Stacey: You're going to justify the hell out of it.
Leo: Joanna Stern says, "Wearing a Camera Is Cool and Creepy."
Stacey: She did a great article actually talking about the rules of, or the social contract that we should have around these things. So—
Om: I like those. A friend of mine got those and I thought they were pretty fun.
Leo: Can you only send to Snapchat?
Om: Yea, your own account.
Leo: I think that's good. And you can't save the video? Oh, you must be able to because I've seen people's.
Om: Yea, you can save it to Snapchat Stories.
Leo: Yea, yea. So she says, "Here are the rules, the camera wearer's code," She's proposing. "We will record fun, out-of-the-box experiences. First-person video is the new selfie." By the way, I saw an ad this morning on NFL Football, encouraging you to use Facebook Live. Facebook's dying for you to use Facebook Live.
Om: They're paying so much money to the NFL.
Leo: Millions of dollars to get you to stream Facebook Live.
Om: And yet nobody wants to use it.
Leo: Maybe these Spectacles. "We will record face-to-face interactions with permission." Permission. "We will record interesting places without annoying our peers." It doesn't have to be your peers. It could be your betters or your lessors. Doesn't have to be your peers. "We will not record in private areas." No sneaking into the bathroom, the locker room, the courthouse. Well, airport security. You have the right to record airport security. I think you should.
Om: I am definitely pretty sure all those things she's talking about are going to happen.
Leo: Pretty sure they are. Pretty sure.
Stacey: Well I remember—oh. I was going to say, Om has—remember when you had the narrative camera and it was a little camera and it took—
Leo: Yea, I have that too.
Stacey: I hated what people would walk up to you with that thing on them and I loathed it. I hated the idea.
Leo: Because it goes everywhere with you and it takes a picture every 30 seconds.
Leo: Even in the gym locker room.
Stacey: No, I just didn't like talking to Om with like the little camera.
Om: By the way, Om, I noticed you're not wearing it now. Is it because, like me, those pictures were terrible?
Om: Because the company is no longer in business.
Leo: Is Narrative gone?
Stacey: Yes. Yes.
Leo: Oh, I didn't know that.
Stacey: They changed their name, didn't they? And then they went out of business.
Leo: There was always pictures of people's bellies. I mean it was like—it's not a good angle.
Om: There were issues.
Leo: There were issues.
Om: But we fixed most of them. I was an investor in that, so.
Leo: Oh, sorry. You can recuse yourself then.
Om: No, I just—you're hating on it. Please feel free.
Leo: Well, I got it. I bought it.
Stacey: I was hating on it for the permission-less photographing of people. Like there is—
Om: You could take it off and put it on the stuff, on the table and it would stop recording and I think—
Leo: So I didn't know they went out of—on November 1st. They're going to keep running the service, but they're transferring the operations to a new company. Did somebody buy them?
Om: I don't know.
Leo: We're happy and proud to make as our very first announcement that the Narrative Service will not shut down today (laughing). That's not a good start. She also says, "These are the final two rules. We will not share footage if people don't want it to be shared." She says, "I did it. I recorded a video of my sister sleeping and drooling. The glasses were on. It was so easy to press the button. I thought it was funny. She didn't. Not even with a sleep emoji and pretty filter I added in the Snapchat app." Oh, now I want a pair. I want to take pictures of people sleeping and drooling. "We will not record everything you do. Don't record everything. Be selective." Fair enough. All right, your dog says it's time to go.
Stacey: Hey, sorry.
Om: Before you go, what was the name of the VPN service you were, they key?
Om: Tiny Hardware Firewall. Are you sure these are good people?
Stacey: Are they Russian?
Leo: They're from Washington D.C. How bad could they be?
Om: Ok. I just—I want to make sure. I mean Wi-Fi concerns me.
Leo: You know what? You can make your own. All you need is—I mean this is, some Chinese company makes these and then they put software on them. The idea—here's why I like it. Because you can run a VPN. You can run VPN software. You don't need to do anything in particular but I like it for two reasons. One, it's automatic. Everything you do on the internet goes through this thing, right? And it's an impermeable barrier against the outside world. Two, if you want, not with the little thumb drive one but with this, you can turn off Wi-Fi on your computer and that we know is, even if you're not tied to an access point, if you're just sitting there, is a tack service. So it's a good rule of hygiene to not have Wi-Fi on in public. Like if you were going to DEFCON, the big hacker conference, you wouldn't even bring your own phone and computer, but if you did, you'd turn off Wi-Fi for sure. And Bluetooth. So, no this is—the company that does these has been around forever. I can't remember.
Stacey: PC Mag likes it.
Leo: Yea, yea. Oh, I love them. And I've been using them. And I trust them. And they're a Washington D.C. based company. I wish I could remember their name that's been doing this kind of thing for a long time.
Om: Wi-Fi Consulting Inc.
Leo: That's it. Wi-Fi Consulting Inc. That's them.
Om: I'm on the page. I'm about to buy it. That's all. I just wanted to ask you.
Leo: So there's—if you—I would get the one that has Ethernet built in so that way you can really protect yourself. But I have to say, I always carry the little thumb drive in my briefcase or my pocket because it's so easy to use. And they're not expensive and they include, the used to, I think they still do, yea. They're $91-bucks but you get a, they include a year of VPN service. Or you can just buy the hardware if you want. $30-dollars for the thumb drive, $35-dollars for the one with the Ethernet port. So they're very inexpensive.
Stacey: Well they're saying that it depends on your connectivity, but it says, "With the VPN active, it maxes out at8 to 10 megabits per second."
Leo: Well that's true of any—you know, this is always an issue with VPNs and TORs, the more stuff you put in between you and the outside world, the slower it's going to be. But in my experience, I've used VPNs in a variety of situations. This is the least slowdown I've experienced. 8 megabits is good. You're not going to stream Netflix on this thing. You shouldn't.
Stacey: The Ethernet one runs at 92 megabits per second with the VPN off according to this. This is a—
Leo: Right. It's not the device that's slowing you down, it's the Virtual Private Network. It's going through all these servers. You know, it's routing your traffic through servers that slows you down.
Om: I'm going to buy the little, the new tiny Napoleon.
Leo: Get the little Napoleon. It's so cute.
Om: It's so cute.
Leo: It's so cute.
Om: It looks just like a Napoleon.
Leo: (Laughing) I love you, Om. I wish you would come by my house and just, I don't know, play with my router. I don't know, anything. Just visit.
Om: Oh wow. Is that in invitation?
Leo: That's an invitation. Come visit my hub. Om Malik, you can visit him, om.co, that's his website. P-I.C-O, pi.com is where he does great interviews, really good stuff. I'm glad you're still doing some journalism. And of course he's an investor and pretty much beloved among everybody in Silicon Valley. No one has a bad thing ever to say about Om Malik. That's why we like having you on. Thank you.
Om: Except for that guy in the—
Leo: Oh, he doesn't know anything. He's some guy. Just some guy (laughing). Look, there's nobody in the world who can come on this show and at least one person in the chatroom would say, "Ah, he's not all that." That's just what they do.
Om: I love the chatroom though.
Leo: I know.
Om: They're so good.
Leo: You know what? This is the thing. If you open yourself to public comment, don't be surprised when the public comments.
Om: Exactly. Pretty much.
Leo: And everybody's got an opinion and you know, that's the way life is. That's fine. Stacey. Everybody loves Stacey. I've never heard one bad word said about Stacey Higginbotham except that it's hard to say her name. IOTpodcast.com, @gigastacey and all of that. We'll see you Wednesday? You're going to be on TWiT Wednesday?
Stacey: I am.
Leo: Yay! We missed you last week.
Stacey: I have stuff.
Leo: We missed you last week. Thank you everybody for being here. We do TWiT every Sunday, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern Time, 2300 UTC if you want to watch live. Be in the chatroom. IRC.twit.tv. We have rules. It's not that we don't have rules, but we also encourage people to talk. You can talk. Talk amongst yourselves. We got rules. No hate speech. No ad hominem attacks. No Latin. But other than that—
Om: It's all good.
Leo: It's all good. It's all good.
Om: Thank you, Leo.
Leo: Thank you, Om.
Stacey: Thank you.
Leo: Thank you, Stacey.
Stacey: Bye, Om.
Om: Bye, Stacey.
Stacey: Bye, Leo. Bye, y'all. Thanks.
Leo: Bye. If you want to join us in the studio, and we had a great studio audience. Very nice to have you all from all over the place. From Texas to Maine, from Cincinnati to Hawaii, all over, and New York too. If you want to be in the studio with us, just email email@example.com. We'll put a chair out for you. And of course you can get every show on demand after the fact at our website, twit.tv or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe, that way you won't miss an episode. It's always interesting. It's always different. We have different panelists every week because I love having the different vibe every week. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can.