This Week in Tech 608
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! We've got a great panel for you. Brianna Wu, she's running for Congress and is a game developer. Erin Griffith, from Fortune.com, and Larry Magid from CBS radio. We're going to talk about the latest tech news. New emojis are here, the Samsung galaxy S8 is here, and yes. Congress decided you don't need privacy on the Internet. It's all coming up next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 608, recorded Sunday, April 2, 2017
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we talk about technology. Larry Magid is in the studio with me from CBS radio. Good to see you, Larry. Saferkids.org.
Larry Magid: Safekids.com. You were close.
Leo: How many years have I said that wrong now?
Larry: Just go to connectsafely.org. That's the nonprofit.
Leo: It's on the screen if I would just look. It's nice to have you in studio, usually you're on Skype.
Larry: It's great to come to Petaluma. It's unfortunate that there's huge traffic, even on Sunday to get here.
Leo: Especially on Sunday, people come up here for vacation.
Larry: It's lovely to see you, nice new studio.
Leo: Thank you for coming up. I appreciate it. Also, back from fortune.com, where she's a senior writer. It's Erin Griffith. Great to see you and your bike!
Erin Griffith: Hello.
Leo: Back from Thailand, and she says she's still a little Zen.
Erin: Yes. I'm actually going out to San Francisco next week to meet with a bunch of venture capitalists and tech startups. I'm sure after that, it will be enough to wipe away any vacation Zen.
Leo: You get all the stress that they're under. Besides reporting at Fortune, where she's been for several years, Erin also does the term sheet daily newsletter for people who are investors.
Erin: That web view clearly has a bug in it. Generally people don't read it online, that's a thing we don't advertise to. It used to look worse, it had no line breaks. Read it in your inbox.
Leo: That's supposed to be a comment, I don't know why we're seeing that. Breanna Wu would pick that right up. She's a developer. She's a candidate for Congress in the Massachusetts 8th?
Brianna Wu: It's the eighth district for Massachusetts. Our tech policy in the United States is so bad, that I think we need developers and engineers making policies, so I threw my hat into the ring. I'm very excited about it.
Leo: I love that idea. I hope more people do it. This is for 2018.
Brianna: It is for 2018. I'm so excited. In a few weeks, we're going to be starting an initiative where I'm going to recruit other Silicon Valley engineers to run alongside me. Especially Republicans. We need the Silicon Six to take over the tech sub committee in Congress. Write some sane policy, because it's terrible right now.
Leo: Let's talk about that. Didn't Donald Trump say... they have not fully staffed the office of technology in the white house, I think? They're getting no information.
Larry: Who took over Meghan Smith's job? Do we have a CTO?
Leo: We're missing half the Cabinet positions. I don't know what's going on. It's really clear when you hear members of Congress talk about technology. Some understand. Ron Widen understands. There are some members of Congress who are pretty savvy. For better or for worse, Alissa, who is fairly tech savvy, although some of his policies I don't agree with. A lot of them, it's like they've never used a computer.
Larry: I thought there were two political parties when it comes to tech. The clued in and the clueless.
Larry: They both have "Rs" and "Ds" next to their names.
Brianna: It isn't right versus left, it's informed versus uninformed. As we started looking into this policy, cyber security is a national security issue. It's nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. We are massively vulnerable because the people making those policies don't understand it. I think it's very patriotic for people who have a passion for making better policies to step up and do public service.
Leo: That CTO position is a senate confirmed official position. I don't know if there's been anybody nominated to fill it.
Larry: Register in your district, and I'll vote for you.
Leo: It's OK to do that now. Brianna is also a developer and a gamer and a giant space cat.com is her company, Boston Independent game studio. I guess we might as well start with the political. Apologies to those who say I want to hear about the new Samsung Galaxy S8. We'll get to that. I do think it's important. I'm hearing a lot of talk from normal people about this as well. Congress, the house and the Senate along party lines approved a new bill that among other effects overturns a privacy regulation. The FCC implemented in October of last year that prevented ISPs from selling your information to marketers. Should point out that this is a very new rule, so it's not like we're taking a big step backwards, it's how it was last year. ISPs also include telecommunications companies, things like Verizon, Sprint, T Mobile, and AT&T. They're your ISP on your phone. There's some concern that ISPs-- this bill does more. Brianna, we'll let you explain. This bill prevents the FCC from making any regulations of this kind in the future.
Brianna: That's exactly it. It's a really disturbing bill. The strongest arguments for it is that Facebook and Google kind of have a duopoly on using your information to market products to you and their argument was that they wanted Verizon and other Internet service providers in the mix being able to get this information. The thing is, if I choose not to use Facebook, I can opt out of that. I can't opt out of using Internet service provider. It's a really big violation of privacy. I can't be the only engineer that started looking at VPNs this week. It's disturbing to find out things in VPN are not protected.
Leo: Some people are overly concerned, and this is fostered a little bit by the tech community. The guy who created cards against humanity said I'm buying Congress's search history and I'm going to publish it. This was never on the table that you could go to an ISP and say I want Larry Magid's search history. They're not selling individual information.
Larry: Part of what they want to be able to do, and what Facebook and Google already do is target ads. For example, if I get an ad that is aimed at people in Palo Alto that are interested in technology, it's that they've aimed it to me. Somebody bought my demographic. To repeat what you said, not only are Facebook and Google voluntary, you don't have to use either of those, but it's almost like the difference between a store having a camera in store, versus a city having a drone following you.
Leo: Your ISB is everywhere you go.
Larry: They see what time I go to bed, because I use my IOT system to turn the lights off at night. They're going to be able to see what's going on literally. This is scary. I'm about to put something in under my bed which will measure my sleeping pattern. You can't get much more intimate--
Leo: But who wants that?
Larry: The point is nobody should have that information. They can start marketing sleeping medication to me.
Leo: But that's not on the table. That is not the kind of information ISPs plan to sell. If they were to do that, then I think you would see some action. What is mostly-- by the way, they can also see when you're going to Google and Facebook, but they can't see what you're doing with Google and Facebook. Google has been pushing for HT to be everywhere, as has the EFF. Google said we'll rank you higher in search results if you are a secure site. Now maybe it makes more sense. We did that with TWiT.tv. I was worried somebody was going to.. you don't even have a login, what are you going to steal? But that prevents the Internet service provider from seeing what you're doing on that site. They can see that you've gone to Google or Facebook or TWiT, but they can't see what you do on that site.
Larry: If you go to larrysworld.com, one of the things you'll see is an interview with Mignon Clybourn of the FCC, who is a Democrat. She's a commissioner. I also have a side bar on there, which is how to protect yourself. Using encryption is one, a browser is another.
Leo: I'm not sure I'd use a VPN all the time. Doesn't it slow you down, Brianna?
Brianna: It does. There are amazing pieces... we all love Tour, but you're locked into a very specific version of Firefox that has vulnerabilities, it's a way to look at it. A way to make you more unsafe in some ways. I do have to agree with you. Some of the rhetoric around this has been overheated. I think what really frustrates me is the pattern. Now they're going to be collecting this information, and some ways I'm less concerned about Verizon having this information to market to me. I'm more concerned about them not storing it properly, not using proper information, and then people for nefarious purposes obtaining that. That's what I'm worried about, because that could be tremendously damaging to ordinary Americans, and it's another thing that we're losing to our privacy.
Leo: I also think that even though this doesn't change the rules that much, given that's how it was in September 2016, but it is more than that a signal to these ISPs that Congress and the Government doesn't care what they do. In a way, it's permission. Verizon got in trouble for the Super cookie that they put on everybody's browser. Verizon was identifying you uniquely to every site you visited, and the site could then go to Verizon and say who is that. Verizon got in trouble, they got a judgment against them. A swap on the wrist, 1.7 million dollar fine, and they were prevented from doing that. That ended the super cookie, but that's not going to ever happen again. I think Verizon is going to say it's open season now on our customers. The other thing that bothers me is it feels like the telecommunications Industry is the number one donor to Congress, by far. Individual Congress person, they're still pretty cheap. A few thousand dollar contribution, and you got that vote! They don't care about consumers.
Erin: What I think is noteworthy about this, I agree with Brianna, some of the rhetoric has been a little bit overblown. Some of the headlines I've been reading, people are melting down. They sold you out! But I think it's important that people are finally getting freaked out about their data, because every time there's a new retailer that gets hacked, or Yahoo gets hacked, people maybe change their passwords, but they don't change their behaviors, or think that much about their own personal privacy. They don't push companies to be more secure. It's kind of one of those people shrug and say we're all vulnerable and we can't protect ourselves, and that's how it goes. The fact that people are starting to pay closer attention to this and realize that they need to take action is good. So.
Larry: If this is a valuable resource to the ISPS and they start warehousing this data, it makes it all the more vulnerable to hackers, and also Governments. I use Governments with an s in the end. Plural. Getting access to this data of ours. It's more than commercial privacy. It's safety, security, and protection against Government intrusion that concerns me about this. And also, it's the net neutrality debate. It's true that this law didn't change anything on day one, but what's the point in going in there and killing this particular regulation? Who benefits, besides AT&T and Verizon?
Leo: Let me make the argument that the Congressmen and women who voted against it, voted for it, argue. Brianna, you mentioned one argument, an argument Verizon has brought up, it levels the playing field. I think we've shot that one down. The other argument, which is a philosophical argument, is that the Government shouldn't be regulating the Internet at all, that the free market should control. If you had the choice of an ISP who promised not to do this, most people would choose that. My ISP at home is Comcast, I can't get Sonnet Net at home. Most people in this country don't have that kind of choice. From a purely philosophical point of view, I'm not sure that I disagree that Government regulation of the Internet is fraught with peril, and if we could get a free market and real competition going, that would be preferable.
Brianna: It's difficult to do. I do believe the Government has a role to play in facilitating this. one of the reasons we're hesitant to do this is because Congress is so inept.
Leo: They don't understand the Internet, they shouldn't be regulating the Internet.
Larry: They're not regulating the Internet. They're regulating the duopoly that is running wires to your house. Comcast and AT&T are the only two providers... the only providers I can get. I can't go through the yellow pages and go I'm going to get this ISP.
Brianna: I would add this. Particularly with Infosec, this is not the kind of problem that the marketplace can solve. Neither the seller nor the buyer is interested in spending the money. Consumers, as tech people we can believe there will be a magical future where ordinary people care about VPNs and stuff, it's not pragmatic. For a company like Verizon, it's to their economic benefit to collect as much data as possible. So the only safeguard I can see on privacy is Government regulation, and it's exactly like you said, Leo. These Congress people, their votes are being bought for a pittance. If I'm elected, I'm not going to take money from these people. I couldn't do it ethically, and I think they shouldn't take money either.
Leo: That was a very brief candidacy of Larry-- Lessig. His very brief candidacy, he got out of the race too early, his whole plan which is crazy, Larry is a constitutional lawyer. He created the Creative Commons, for a long time he was fighting against ERM, but he realized none of this is going to ever work until we get money out of Congress. his whole plan was to run for President, get elected, reform campaign finance, so that there's no private money at all in campaigns, and then resign and let the other guy run the country. I wish Larry had won, but he didn't stand a chance. Here's a full page ad, the fightforthefuture.org, which is one of many. This is a group that started with the SOPA debates, keepournetfree.org, dear mister President, you just got spied on. Don't subject us all to the same bull hockey, here's your chance to prove if you're with the money or with the people. Is that the choice Congress made, Erin?
Erin: Sorry. I'm really stuck on the big league.
Leo: He's always been saying big league, but it sounds like bigly. Yeah.
Erin: I think part of this is that this requires Congress standing up to these companies and saying you're a utility. I'm sorry, but that's what you are, that's what you have to be treated as investors. That's the obligation that you have to your customers. They do not want to be utilities because that is not a great business. Low margin, low growth business to be in. Until that happens, they're going to be pushing more and more into data and content business.
Leo: We're going to have that in the next couple of weeks on TWiT. Title II will be one of the top stories because the new chairman of the FCC has already said that Title II was the way the FCC regulated net neutrality. The President has also already said he is not in favor of net neutrality. This will be thrown out soon. I'm not sure if the President has to do it, if Congress has to do it. There's consensus that this regulating ISPs as utilities is not going to work. That was the only mechanism that the FCC had to regulate net neutrality. Net neutrality is out the window. I think it's safe to say over the next few months, all regulations protecting consumers on the Internet are gone. Is it a hair and fire moment. I hear a lot of people saying I'm going to use a VPN.
Larry: I don't think the VPN is a solution. I think it's an option. I use it when I'm overseas. I use it when I'm in Russia, I use it when I'm in China. I hope I don't have to add...
Leo: But Netflix won't let you watch Netflix on a VPN. Bank probably won't let you login on a VPN.
Larry: When you're in Turkey and you want to watch YouTube, I needed an ISP when I"m in Russia, and I know for a fact that they spy on foreign visitors. I use a VPN. But the point is we shouldn't have to do that. The point that Brianna made is that we shouldn't have to resort to extraordinary means to protect our privacy.
Leo: Should we write our members of Congress, Brianna? Is that effective?
Brianna: I think you should. I hope people run for office alongside me. I think net neutrality, without it we don't live in a free society. We've seen the way this administration talks about Internet issues, and they clearly do not understand the basics. I think it's a very serious situation, and that's a lot of why I'm running for office. It's not right versus left, it's informed versus uninformed. I'd think you be hard pressed to find a journalist who doesn't believe in net neutrality.
Larry: Brianna, I also think it's regulation versus non regulation. Certain things you don't want Congress to regulate, like content. We don't want Congress regulating speech, but there's a difference between enforcing privacy regulations which the Federal trade commission does anyway, and other things like Net neutrality. It's not the same thing as controlling the Internet. Not controlling what you and I can say over the Internet. We need to be smart over what we regulate and not have this attitude regulation good or bad. There's more nuance than that.
Leo: There's a TWiTCH broadcaster in Germany that has required him to sign up for a broadcast TV license because he's a broadcaster. That's the kind of regulation that would scare the hell out of me. I don't want the FCC to start regulating podcasting. I think that you can overreach as well. I remember we talked to John Perry Barlow when the EFF was debating how it wanted to protect net neutrality. The board agreed that net neutrality needed to be protected, but a good number of the board members didn't believe Government interference isn't the right way to do this. I don't know what the right way to do this is. We fetishize free markets in this country, and I don't think that's necessarily bad, but there's some things free markets don't do well. That's why we have anti-trust rules. Free markets tend to run into monopolies, and as soon as something is a monopoly, there's no free market.
Larry: It's why we have a healthcare policy, because free markets haven't done a good job in keeping healthcare.
Leo: It's legitimate to say there's a role for us as a society to limit what these businesses can do. But there's also room for debate as far as how far we want to go in that. There are risks involved in Government regulation of the Internet.
Brianna: If I can say one last thing. I completely agree with you, but it's really important to look at policy. Do you guys remember the Morai bot last year which took down a huge amount of the Internet on the coast? The republicans on the technology sub-committee in Congress that I'm working with. Marsha Raper blamed the Botnet on SOPA. Gizmodo had the headline that this is the kind of idiot that's in charge of regulating the Internet. And it's beyond fair. I agree with you, Leo. We can have a reasonable conversation about that, but the more my campaign gets down and studies the sausage being made by the sub-committee, it's stunning to me. It's not the conversation that they're having. It's a free for all give away with the people who donate to their campaigns. It's disturbing and has huge cyber security consequences for this country.
Leo: I think that there's a good chance that the technocrats in Silicon Valley are going to look at Trump's election and say I could run. I think Mark Zuckerberg may run. I'm not sure I want Mark Zuckerberg...
Erin: He's the worst choice out of any prominent tech person. Trump taught us that people want authenticity, and Mark Zuckerberg's campaign would be him going around and stiffly shaking hands. Almost like cosplaying like a politician. People wouldn't relate to that or find it inspiring. If that's what he's going for...
Leo: I'm sure Jeff Bezos is considering it and Mark Zuckerberg is considering it. I don't think Silicon Valley, I agree with you Brianna. We want people to understand technology, but I don't think technologists are the right people to run the Government either. I think there's a technocratic point of view of we know how things run and we're going to fix this all, and I'm not sure that's right either. Politics is a lot of art. A lot of compromise and a lot of negotiation. Technologists are not noted for this.
Larry: I'm not sure we need to have a technocrat as president. For Congress to understand the more nuanced and subtle issues of what's going on in the technology world would be helpful.
Brianna: We talk a lot about diversity. I don't think we talk a lot about diversity background. Right now, over 40% of Congress is comprised of lawyers. I work with plenty of lawyers in my career. Having Congress so hyper sampled from that Group it gets sub optimal outcomes. It's not just that I want technologists running for Congress, I want Georgia Dow. She'd be a great Congress woman if she weren't Canadian. a therapy background. I want more academics. I want more people with different perspectives representing themselves in Government. I think clearly the system we have right now isn't working.
Leo: I like that, Brianna. That is a great goal. Let's make it more diverse. More voices. That's always going to be better. More voices heard from. I completely agree with you on that. Let's take a break. We've got a great panel. Brianna Wu is here. spacecatgal on Twitter. Don't forget her website, Brianna Wu 2018.com. If you're in the Massachusetts 8th, Brianna Wu is the gal for you! Could you use that?
Brianna: As our campaign slogan? I like that.
Leo: Erin Griffith is also here. She's at fortune.com. Sorry, Erin. You're not related to Andy Griffith. Are you married... are you related to Andy Griffith?
Erin: I don't think so. Although growing up my Dad had a lot f paraphernalia from that show. I don't think there's any relation.
Leo; I bet it wasn't even his real name. He always played the country guy, but he was from Brooklyn. He was from New York. That's called being a good actor. He is Andy Samuel Griffith, he was born in North Carolina. I take it all back. I apologize, but he's not Erin's husband. Also... Erin's husband is in the background right now trying to figure out how to solve a Rubik's cube.
Erin: Matt, have you solved the Rubik's cube? He said not yet.
Leo: He has to sit quietly... And Erin is frozen. Also with us in studio is Larry Magid of CBS radio and connectsafely.org.
Larry: You got it right!
Leo: Our show to you today brought to you by Carbonite online backup. Ransomware, what was the number I heard? Ransomware in 2016 was a billion dollar business. The costs in terms of data and time lost, tens of billions of dollars last year. I was talking to somebody who was on the board with a federal bank, and he told me the federal bank was saving bitcoins because a lot of private businesses are doing this now. They want to have bitcoins ready to buy the... this is the worst strategy I have ever heard. Don't stock up on Bitcoin, get Carbonite, get a good backup. Backing up is easy. I credit Peter Crogue, my friend the photographer with 3-2-1 backup. You want three copies of everything. If you delete the original, that's one copy. Two different media, so you're not tied to DVDs or USB. One should be offsite. If your backups are sitting in a closet somewhere and the building burns down, can you rebuild your data? Your customer list and your supplier list? Can you pay your taxes? You can't do any of that. It's all on computers. Back it up with Carbonite. They've got great plans for small and medium businesses, and homes as well. If you want to read more about using Carbonite for Ransomware mitigation, go to the Carbonite office. site. Take a look at resources, they've got a bunch of pages about ransomware. How to mitigate it, prevent in the first place. It's a really useful, it's all free at carbonite.com. Free trial, no credit card required. If you do the free trial, use the offer code TWiT. That way they'll know you heard about it here, and you'll get two free bonus months if you decide to buy. You've got to back it up. Protect business data right now at Carbonite.com/twit. Get two months free.
Brianna: What I appreciate about Carbonite is like a lot of technical people, my son is less technical than I am. I love it because I set it up on his computer, and it solves all the problems. For me I can use Superduper and make a mirror copy of my hard drive, but Frank isn't about that. It's an amazing product for people who don't want to mess with it.
Leo: That's right. I know our audience says I've gut Jungle nets set up, but they're geeks. I guarantee you, in your family, there's somebody who doesn't know what backup is, who is stocking up on bitcoins. Do them a favor and tell them about Carbonite. That was a Government institution that was doing this.
Larry: Where do they keep their bitcoin?
Leo: In their wallet. Crazy. Erin is unfrozen. Now she's silent. Silent as the day is long.
Erin: Can you hear me?
Leo: Now I hear you. Everybody is back. Hello everybody. Let's talk about shiny objects. I know that's why you tune into this show. You don't want to hear about politics, you don't want to hear about... let's talk about the Galaxy S. exploding phone from Samsung. Samsung had an event on Wednesday in New York City. I don't know if anybody went, showing off the new S8. You didn't go, Erin?
Erin: I shouldn't be saying this in the context of this podcast, but I don't really cover gadgets.
Leo: I resisted covering gadgets for years. I wanted to talk about computing and technology and anytime I went anywhere, people said, "Yeah, but what about the new phone?" All people care about is shiny gadgets.
Erin: Those stories get more traffic than my thoughtful analysis of the latest M and A transactions.
Leo: It's crazy! So I ordered the S8 plus, because that's my job. You know what happened is in the process I fell in love with gadgets too, and now I always have a new phone every five minutes. This is going to be the precursor of what we're going to see a lot in the coming years, which are essentially phones with minimal bezels. Even Apple with its next generation iPhone will get rid of the physical home button and spread that screen almost all the way to the edge, top bottom left and right. The Galaxy have gone all the way around left to right. I actually like... they're calling it the infinity display. Which is pretty funny. I don't like the curvature. That edge is wasted. They put stuff on there, but I never use it.
Brianna: I buy--I have to with my job-- I buy...
Leo: do they do mobile games?
Brianna: We've worked hard at doing Android games. I was sad when they announced this phone and I was going to buy it and I was like I'm running for Congress, I don't have to buy this phone.
Leo: You do what the President does, and buy an S3.
Brianna: I'm a little worried about the little battery side of it, they are very conservative with batteries. I have to say, the curved display, the Samsung Galaxy Edge is a more beautiful phone, but what people don't understand is when you're actually using it, it picks up glare. It's very awkward.
Leo: It looks pretty, but it's not practical. I was excited because they're making two models. The S8 is 5.8 inches. The S8 plus is 6.2 inches, but because they got rid of the bezzle, I checked the measurements, the S8 plus is the same physical size as the iPhone 7Plus, which is a 5.5 inch screen, because you don't have all this wasted space. It is weirdly tall. They're doing these tall phones, so you can use one hand, and I actually couldn't do the Apple Seven Plus with one hand. These are narrower, taller phones. I don't know. They're getting rid of the fingerprint reader on the front, they're going to put that on the back next to the camera. The Pixel has it in the right spot, but Samsung is going to put it up right next to the camera. They'll have a capacity button. Although, there's an option, there's something physical under the screen, so you press the screen really hard. That's dopey. I'll turn that off right away, apparently you can. One more thing that is a little controversial, they added the Iris scanning, which is very secure. I had this in the Note 7. I had that for about a week, before I had to... it was a little slow. It's as accurate as a fingerprint reader, because your irises are as unique as your fingerprint, maybe even more so. They're going to have the fingerprint. They're also going to have face recognition. All the videos we've seen, it's instant. Boom. Unfortunately, somebody at the show on Wednesday took a picture of themselves with their phone, and then was able to unlock the S8 with a picture of themselves. It's not the most secure.... it's not secure at all.
Larry: I thought they were supposed to look for movement...
Leo: There's some apps that do this. My banking app uses face recognition, but they say in the process, this is a Windows machine. If it's a Windows hello face recognition machine, they don't have a regular camera, they have a depth sensing camera. That can tell if you're a human, and the way these face recognitions work, they measure pupil distance and length of the nose, but they can now measure the depth of the eyes, how big your mouth is. That's more accurate and probably less easily spoofed.
Larry: But you still have to have a password as a backup.
Leo: Samsung says if you're going to use Samsung pay, you should use fingerprint or Iris to be extra sure.
Brianna: My question is touch. This is infamously the issue with Samsung phones. What I found really frustrating is Apple has stolen so many designs from Samsung, I want to see reachability where you double tap and stay on the screen. I use it all the time.
Leo: I turned that off, because it confused me. People call me, and say I don't know what happened. Apple does that all the time, they add features that people forget about or never use. You use that, huh? It drives me crazy. On my iPhone, I want to press and hold the icon to erase it, to get it to go jiggle jiggle. It never jiggles. You have to do it just right to get the jiggle. I hate that. I'm starting to sound like Regis Filbit.
Brianna: I like the 3D touch where you can use the cursor. My iPhone six plus is what I do on my email.
Brianna: When you're running for office you spend so much time out there going to churches and different events. I have a standard MacBook 12 inch. I bring it with me, but I do most of my work on my iPhone these days. It's just reality.
Leo: You have to start your campaign years early.
Brianna: I do. I have a lot of work to do. Even Barack Obama did not win his first time out of the gate. If I lose in 2018, I'll be knocking on my opponent's door again in 2020.
Leo: You promise that? That's great. I'm impressed.
Brianna: It's fun. People don't know this. Running for office is so much fun. You get to talk to people all day long, you hear their stories, you hear about their hopes and dreams. You learn about their families.
Leo: That's the difference between you and me. You actually like people. I don't really like people. The city of Petaluma had a technology committee, which was political. I served briefly on that, a month or two, before I went absolutely bonkers with the pace of Government, which is snail like. I understand why that's a good thing. You do not want an efficient fast government. Then you have no time to stop them, but it was frustrating for me, I think if these Silicon Valley people end up running for office, I think President Trump is starting to get a little this is not what I thought it was.
Erin: That happened on day two.
Leo: Somebody like Barack Obama was well suited to it. He grew up in that environment. You can see the presidents who like process and don't mind sitting for hours and talking. Then somebody like Trump who has been running a family business, gets in there and it's got to be frustrating where he can't just say pass that bill.
Larry: Tillerson at least worked for a public company...
Leo: Even Rex Tillerson is struggling.
Larry: The idea of him being a CEO of a family company does not prepare you to run a Government where you have constituents.
Erin: I would even say in the real estate industry, which is in a very different way than any other Industry, and treats its customers in a different way than any other Industry is very specific.
Leo: If you're in real estate and you say that's a 700 story building... but it's really a 52 story building, that's OK. It's acceptable. It's called salesmanship, and he's clearly a great salesman. But it's different when you're president of the United states and you say there were 80 million people at my inauguration. You can't say that. You have to start hewing the line closer to fact.
Erin: I think we're starting to learn when he's happy.
Leo: That is part of the job, is salesmanship. Let's not forget. Essentially, you're selling an agenda. You have to lead.
Brianna: My view of politics is a little bit different, because the Presidents who address the entire nation, I'm finding local politics is a lot more... talking to people that need very specific things allocated in the budget for their business to survive. I'll give you an example. There's a company in District 8 that's looking for vehicle to vehicle communications. Vehicles talk to each other, so you're getting information. That will have a regulatory apparatus, making it free to do that. I do agree, as an engineer it's going to be frustrating in some ways, but I also think that this last election has made a lot of people realize that maybe it's time to get involved there. I think every day about how I can't let this change me. The biggest tragedy wouldn't be losing a race, it would be letting the process change me. If I do it for two years and can't walk away with a clean conscience, I won't run again.
Larry: If Donald Trump is inspiring people like you and people all over the country to get involved in politics, maybe he really is making America Great.
Leo: I'm a hippie. I remember the 60's.
Larry: I do. I'm on Nixon and Trump's enemies list, both.
Leo: That's another story. I'm on Tim Cook's enemies list. It's always the case that the pendulum swings. When it swings one way, it activates the people on the other side to participate. If we see more participation and diversity, Brianna, kick my ass if I change to somebody else.
Brianna: I'm not joking at all.
Leo: You want people around you who are going to hold you to a standard. That's awesome. I've always said behind every member of Congress is a good man.
Larry: Hopefully Brianna knows how to use Twitter responsibly.
Brianna: I do. It's a little hard, because I'm a fiery feminist.
Leo: You got in a little bit of trouble, we all know.
Brianna: I did. I was saying something this weekend about asking people not to make fun of Christians, and I got in a lot of hot water from the progressives. It's difficult to walk that balance.
Leo: I like it. Do you find after Gamergate that you are more careful about what you say in public?
Brianna: No. I try to be very genuine. It's really hard for anyone to be their honest self with the public. I was very careful to not let gamergate change me. It matured me quite a bit. I still say what I think and what I feel. I think that's very important.
Leo: I think that's brave of you, because a lot of people who have been hit with horrible attacks that you got would choose to hide. I've been tempted to get out of the public eye. You are going in the exact opposite direction because of your convictions. I think that's awesome.
Brianna: I could turn the camera 90 degrees, and you could see a smashed window on my house where somebody threw a rock through my front window. I can't hide my address. Some people shut down, for me it made me fearless. There's little that scares me after Gamergate.
Leo: I'm so impressed. Bravo. Moving on. Let's take a little break. There's more to talk about in every area of technology. I'll let you guys have the run down, if you feel like there's something we should talk about, you pick. Twitter is retiring the egg. Breaking news. They're not going to solve the abuse problems, but the new anonymous icon on Twitter is no longer an egg, it's an egg shaped human.
Brianna: They put a blog with design decisions about that. Go back to the picture. They deliberately designed it so it doesn't look like a man or a woman. They put a lot of thought into that. I appreciate iconography and anyone that puts a lot of thought into that iconography. It's hard to not feel like Twitter is attacking the wrong problem.
Erin: The problem is so complicated for them to solve. I'm not saying that they've done a great job at attempting it, but I feel like until they have satisfied everyone, any change that they make is going to get that exact same reaction. Laughter, anger, making fun of them, and also why haven't you fixed the bullying problem? I don't know if they can win. They have such core users that expect the product to stay the same and be working the same way. I feel like it's going to be hard for them to expand and change the product in any way to appeal to a wider audience, which is what they're trying to do. Also, pleasing their core audience that doesn't want them to change anything.
Leo: Come around a little bit on Twitter. They seem to have done a better job of suspending accounts. It used to take me a long time to get accounts suspended. They respond a lot faster than they used to.
Brianna: They do. Twitter doesn't get the credit they deserve here. I've talked to them so often over the past few years. You have teams of people there working their butts off to solve this problem, and it's exactly like you said. It doesn't matter what they do, they get critiqued on it. The iconographer who designed that egg had nothing to do with Twitter's harassment department. Their work is going to get blasted. So Twitter is moving faster, they're making good decisions. It's getting better, and I do think that they're held to a double standard, versus somewhere like Reddit, where if you're getting docks from Reddit, there's no oversight with that. I wish people would give them credit for the work they're doing.
Erin: Unrelated to what they're doing with harassment, part of Twitter's problem is that they were too beholden to their core users and too scared to make any changes or to improve the product and make it accessible to outsiders because people would freak out and they'd say let's keep the product as it is. Whereas if you look at other social networks like Facebook that are constantly rolling things out and ignoring when users push back and complain and that is how they've been able to attract a bigger audience along the way. They're afraid to change anything because their core users will become angry and that's why the product is confusing and looks a little dated compared to some of their contemporaries.
Larry: Part of my work with Connectsafely.org, the people who have been victimized by some of this harassment, they take it very seriously. They have a staff of people who work hard to up the game when it comes to bullying and harassment. There's pushback from the engineers, and marketing people in the company, but what people don't realize is when companies are dealing with these issues is what appears to be a good move from the standpoint of protection brings up issues when it comes to free speech.
Leo: It's pretty clear if people are forced to use their real identities that it wouldn't fix this entirely, but it would mitigate a lot of the problems. Facebook doesn't have the problems, even Google Plus still remains a little better. You disagree?
Erin: I don't think that the real names makes much of a difference. If you look at Facebook live videos, the kinds of comments that people are willing to make with their real names and photos attached can be just as horrific and harassing as what you can find on Twitter. The problem is you can't make... it Facebook decides to delete your account or take action against you you can't easily make a new profile like you can on Twitter.
Brianna: I have to agree with you, Erin. The academic research backs that up. We think anonymity is a big predictor of this. Signs show that it's not. I also think we tend to talk about it from an American centric viewpoint. If you're locking in people's identities, think about situations like in Egypt where Twitter played a big part in the uprising against the Government. Engineering is all about trade offs, and every time we talk about one of these policies, there's a trade off about it.
Leo: I've always been coming from the point of view that there is the free speech argument and the free speech wing of the free speech party, it always struck me that 4Chan, Reddit, and Twitter, really became cess pools because of the anonymity, and their dogmatic support for free speech, but it's not reflected in the numbers.
Brianna: The science shows it's not. The really big problem nowadays is bots. Twitter is overrun with bots from Russia. We are seeing very deliberate social manipulation. There are great articles out there on how they do this on Reddit as well, but there's... nowadays you can write bots with these talking points which are simplistic and have them going, and flood people's conversations and make it seem like there's public pressure for something when there's not.
Leo: You think bots are a bigger problem than trolls. Interesting. 1,000 Russian bots making fake news during the campaign.
Larry: It's having a huge impact on politics in this country right now.
Leo: This takes us to Dana Voigt's very interesting piece in back channel on medium about fake news. I think we can talk about this when we come back. That's my vote. Our show to you today brought to you by Wordpress. Did you know that Wordpress runs 20% of all the websites in the world? For years, that was my blogging platform. I've been setting up my blog once again on Wordpress. I'm doing something differently. I thought I'd try wordpress.com, which is their hosted version of Wordpress. There are some real advantages to that. For one thing, wordpress.com keeps your site up to date, it does all the updates, all the security patches, so you're always secure. They offer a huge selection of plugins and themes and all the tools you need. It's a community of wordpress.com. You're joining a global community, which drives traffic to your site because you're apart of it. If you're a complete novice, and you have no experience building a website, Wordpress can guide you through the process. It is easy as pie. Hundreds of customizable themes, you can make it your own. They have built in search engine optimization. Social sharing. If you want to support the AMP platform so your pages load super fast on mobile, it's a check box. HTTP, let's encrypt. They do everything, which I really like. They have a publicize feature which automatically shares posts to social media networks. You can share previously published posts as well, so you get lots of nice social sharing features. Of course your visitors have share buttons as well. It's got great support. 24/7 you're in great company. Answers to your questions to get you back to your site up and running. I feel like I'm coming home when I come to wordpress.com, and no longer do I have to worry about keeping my plugins up to date, it's all done for me. It is so much fun. I'll be rolling out my new Wordpress site very soon. I'll let you know about it when I do. You can get started today, and believe me, I took advantage of this. With 15% off every new plan purchase when you go to wordpress.com/twit. Create your website and find the membership plan that's right for you and save 15% right off the top at wordpress.com/twit. I have been with these guys forever. I know Matt well, I know the team well. it's a great company. It makes me so happy to welcome them back to the TWiT podcast network. 27% of the Internet! Isn't that amazing? OK. Even big publications. Recode runs on it? I like doing ads for companies people like. When I do that Trust ad, just kidding. One more thing about Twitter. They did now say that the @ reply is not going to be counted in the 140 characters. Why are you laughing?
Erin: People freaked out on this in the same way they do with every Twitter product update.
Leo: You can't make any changes, Twitter. You can't. Remember the Twitter canoe? Where you had...
Erin: Did you see the super canoes that people were creating? Adding hundreds of @ replies and saying "hi."
Leo: Is Twitter going to do anything about that?
Erin: I would hope. That seems like a bug. You can only add 7 people...?
Leo: That's hysterical. A super canoe.
Erin: You couldn't really tell on mobile updates if it's a direct message or if someone is responding to you publicly. You really have to be looking closely and I get, I have open DMs. I get a lot of spam sent there and I couldn't tell if someone is trying to give me a news tip or if it's just some random teenager trying to mess with me.
Leo: That's brave, open DMs. But I guess you have to because that's how you get tips, right?
Erin: Yea. I'm very disorganized with my contacts so that's the easiest way to get in touch with people I'm trying to report on.
Leo: So a canoe was when you'd hit @reply, @reply, @reply, @reply, you know, you have a lot of names. But now that they don't count against the 140 characters, there's no limit to how many names. So a pseudo canoe could have hundreds of ads. Wow.
Erin: The ads are cut off at a certain point, but I saw some floating through mine that were gigantic.
Brianna: I was happy to see them do it. I mean—
Erin: It was spam.
Brianna: It is but they also have a neat conversation feature which they finally added that. So, I was added to the super canoes. Just click a button and it's gone. I'm happy to see them addressing the poor stability issue with Twitter because it's just impenetrable for normal people. And I just think this is another thing that puts the replies to any tweet right underneath it and I think it's a big step up.
Leo: Yea, that was one of the reasons it was impenetrable was because with only 140 characters, you really had to make it super succinct. And I'm not a—I mean, I've been on Twitter since 2006 and I still felt like sometimes I was having a stroke when I was reading Twitter. I don't understand this word salad. I don't understand what I'm reading.
Larry: And I've gotten in trouble trying to take something complicated and say it in 140 characters and wind up embarrassing myself.
Erin: Your first mistake is trying to say something complicated.
Leo: I find it a great discipline, though, to take something—I write it long and then I play with it. And I think there is a certain skill to making a coherent. And I always attempt to be coherent. Like if context—I mean, I try to make my responses like you could read them and understand them, not like you were having a stroke and what is this word salad?
Larry: I think it works really well for Donald Trump because I think he thinks in those very short—but some of us are a little more complicated.
Leo: Bigly. Bigly.
Erin: He has a natural talent for it that is for sure.
Leo: If there was ever a person made for Twitter, it's the President. That's for sure.
Erin: But actually, that's why Twitter is wise to be rolling out, aggressively rolling out features that make the product more useable for the everyday person because right now, people want to be on Twitter more than ever to see what's going on and try to be following the day to day news which actually changes by the hour. So, it makes sense. Hopefully, I don't think this was reflected in their year-end numbers but hopefully next quarter it will lead to a boost in users or at least in engagement for them.
Leo: Yea, every quarter they add 1%. It's a tiny growth and the stock market at some point is going to start punishing at some point. Last year, it's going to start punishing them for this very anemic growth.
Brianna: I think Twitter Moments, I've been really—
Leo: You like that?
Brianna: I love Twitter Moments because when I'm bored, I mean, I have the Times on my phone. I have Washington Post but your Twitter excels at this kind of live moments of very specific hashtags and—
Leo: I stopped clicking on it because it was so useless. But, you're right. Of late, I noticed they've actually been pretty good.
Erin: I had coffee with someone from Twitter's PR team last week and that was one thing that they were like, "I think you'd be surprised." Like Moments, people kind of talked about, or people kind of criticized the feature but he was like people are really, really using it. And they're seeing that in their numbers, so that's good. That's great. I don't use it as much but clearly people are.
Leo: Yea. I'm going to start doing it more. It's got pictures of dogs and babies. How could you not love that? I mean, that's good stuff. Actually, you know why Twitter Moments is going to succeed? Because there's no politics.
Brianna: They have politics.
Leo: Some. But when I go to my Facebook feed, it's all politics. This is like, here's some happy stuff here. We need just kind of some—it's like Reader's Digest, lightweight kind of jokey, fun stuff. I like that. All right. Danah Boyd. Let's talk a little bit about—oh, by the way, I did want to show this. This is a—just in case, for those of you who say Twitter, they don't change, that egg is only fairly recent. I don't remember this. In the earliest days of Twitter, that was the unknown, some guy with an umbrella and a briefcase.
Erin: That's very ominous.
Brianna: That looks like a killer from a horror movie.
Leo: I know. It's Freddy Kruger coming for you. That was back when it was TWTTR though. I think that's—then it was the emoticon, the 0_0 emoticon. Then it was a bird. I don't remember it being the bird. It was the bird for a year. Then the egg started in 2010 and there was a new svelte egg which rolled out in 2014. No, it's a little thinner, too, though. It lost some weight. Anyway, Dana Boyd. Let's talk about her article. She's saying the fake news problem is more nuanced and complicated than people recognize. We should first mention who Danah Boyd is. She's at Microsoft Research. For years though, she was the queen of social media scholarship, studying young people and how young people used Snapchat and—
Larry: My Space is where she started out.
Leo: My Space.
Larry: Yea, she was working on researching My Space.
Leo: She says, Google—this is an article she just published in Backchannel. Google and Facebook can't just make fake news disappear. It's too big and messy to solve with algorithms or editors because, this is the most important part, the problem is us.
Larry: And by the way, it goes way back. The term fake news entered our vocabulary sometime this fall. But we've had urban myths. We've had urban legend. We've had—remember the story about how the post office was going to charge 5 cents per email.
Leo: Oh, yea. Bill Gates was going to give you money.
Larry: Right. And then Mark Zuckerberg wanted me to pay him 6 bucks a year for a private account. So long before the word fake news came out, I've been writing about these urban myths. And some of the times they'd make up Congress people, this email scam, the 5 cent email, there was a Congress person you had to write to. He didn't exist. So there's nothing new about these faking—
Leo: There's a little difference.
Larry: Oh, it changes, absolutely.
Leo: And also the people who created those fake news stories did it for the walls, not for money or for political gain.
Leo: They were just messing you.
Larry: The difference is that people would fall for it and spread it. And that's—
Leo: That's what hasn't changed.
Larry: Yea, that hasn't changed, right.
Erin: And those stories are easily debunked by Snopes or any kind of fact checking website but what she seems to be talking about is ones where they just really twist the context around or kind of change the framing of the story in a way that there's at least a shred of something true in there. So it can't be completely debunked but it's just the interpretation of it and that's what will be really hard for editors or algorithms to police.
Brianna: I think there's a- there's a tendency I've noticed in the tech industry that male engineers tend to really believe in technical solutions to social problems. And a lot of these are human problems that can only be solved through curation. But I think anyone who's talking about the fake news subject, and they're not talking about themselves, I think they're really going in the wrong direction. I am vulnerable to this, right? Like a story comes across my feed and it has some sex and some scandal, like you know, I want to click on it, right? I want to believe it. And we have to take responsibility in ourselves to kind of take a step back. So what I've tried to do is, you know, especially because running for office, I talk to conservatives every single day. And you know, I do make it a point to read reputable, conservative news sources now. And I will not click on links form certain publications like Raw Story just because it's—it may be sensational, but it's not quality journalism. So I think that all of us have to realize that social media really exacerbates the most instinctual parts of our personality. It really taps into that. And we're really getting into this world now where people are not subjected to viewpoints on the other side. And it's not healthy for me, and it's not healthy for anyone.
Larry: But I think this notion of sharing—I mean, one of the things that I've been harping on is that you don't share a story until you vet a story. It doesn't mean you have to know for absolute certain that there's no inaccuracies in the story. But if I'm going to even like something, I want to know that there's some credibility behind it. And you're absolutely right. It is much more subtle than pure fakeness because people tend to get opinion and fact mixed up or they tend to have some fact and some fiction. So it's harder to kind of say. And that's one of the things Facebook is struggling with and why they're calling it now disputed versus fake because it's hard sometimes to know if this is completely fake versus--
Leo: But almost anything is disputed. If you say something that I disagree with, factual or not, I might dispute it. Disputed is about namby-pamby as a description of it that I can find.
Larry: I can watch MSNBC and FOX News and—
Leo: I dispute that.
Larry: Let them opine all they want. But when they start saying things that are factually true.
Leo: Well, this is the problem and this is what Boyd said, is that you can't even define fake news, let alone—she also coined the terms, I think she coined it, solutionism to describe what you were just talking about, Brianna, which is—and I don't think it's just men engineers. I'm not sure why you said men engineers. Do women engineers not do this? Most technologists thing there's a technological solution to everything, right? Is it mostly men?
Brianna: In my experience in talking to Facebook and Twitter and you know, other companies, Medium, it is my tendency. I've seen that male engineers generally tend to believe in technological fixes. I think generally speaking, the women engineers I've met believe more in curation.
Leo: You know what this reminds me of? Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Because one of his tenets, and I only know this because I interviewed him 38 years ago, whenever, was that if you sit down and have a conversation about a problem in your life with a guy, the guy will tend to fix it. They'll say, "Well, what you need to do is this, this and this." And a woman will listen and emphasize. So maybe that's just an example of that.
Larry: My wife and I used to get in fights. Whenever the kids would cry, I would show up with a Band-Aid, she shows up with a couple of arms and hugs.
Leo: With hugs.
Larry: So, it's funny. I mentioned earlier that I'm working on this parent and teacher's guide to literacy. And on Wednesday I will be interviewing Mark Brackett and Robin, I can't remember her last name, who run these Yale Centers for Emotional Intelligence. And this was a suggestion of a friend of mine who said, "You need to think about emotional intelligence and social emotional learning as part as the battle against fake news."
Leo: That's interesting.
Larry: Because why is it successful? It's successful because it stimulates some kind of an emotional response.
Leo: So is it some sort of introspective understanding of yourself?
Larry: Yourself and what motivates people to react. And it's not whether a story is true or not, it's how a story affects you.
Leo: It's propaganda to some degree.
Larry: My initial reaction as mister fix-it was to think, "Oh, it's all about illiteracy." And then it really went off in my head. It's also about emotional intelligence, how we respond. And if you look at the success with any demagogue, and I won't mention names, but we know one particular one, what they're good at is getting people riled up. And whether they're using truth to rile them up and sometimes that work, or mixing truth and fiction, it's all about getting that emotional response. So we have to think that through.
Brianna: I really—it falls into epistemic closure, a psychological phenomena where you have something, it feeds into your belief system and it confirms it. We're all susceptible to that. But I think it's really more—say, if I go make a tweet tonight and I tweet a really thoughtful New York Times article on budget negotiations, that's not going to get as much feedback as if I talk about some sexist scandal in the technology industry. And it's just like the very modern social media really rewards us going to what my friend Georgia Dow calls the loudest argument. The human mind is attracted to the extreme of any argument. You know, it's why we see movies like going more violent or more sexy or more explosions. We always want to go further. And I think social media just amplifies some of the worst tendencies in human behavior.
Erin: So, did I read—I just kind of skimmed because I was short on time, but it sounds like Danah has a very depressing conclusion which is that it can't be fixed. Did I miss something?
Leo: No, I think that's exactly it (laughing). She says, "The puzzles made visible through fake news are hard. They are socially and culturally hard. They force us to contend with construct knowledge and ideas, communicate with others and construct a society. They are also deeply messy, revealing divisions and fractures in beliefs and attitudes. And that means that they're not technically easy to build or implement. If we want technical solutions to complex socio-technical issues, we can't simply throw it over the wall and tell companies to fix the broken parts of society that they made visible and helped magnify." I really like that. It's not that these companies invented fake news, they just made it visible and help magnify it. "We need to work together and build coalitions of groups who do not share the same political and social ideals to address the issues that we can all agree are broken." I don't know if we have any, much agreement these days anymore in what's broken. "Otherwise, all we're going to do is try to wage a cultural war with companies as the intermediary and referee. And that sounds like a dreadful idea." I completely agree with her. She articulated something I thought for a long time but wasn't able to articulate as clearly or as well. So, I was very grateful for this article. I think that's exactly right. But you're right, Erin. It doesn't solve it, does it?
Erin: No. No, it makes me think back to what I feel like maybe was a the heart of why Facebook was so reticent to take responsibility for the fake news problem which was the accusations that they were suppressing conservative news outlets. And they had that I guess coalition of conservative voices that came and basically complained. And then Zuckerberg said, "Don't worry. We're going to make it better." But I sort of wish that that had happened with both sides present or at least people from kind of from all the stakeholders because maybe that would have led to Facebook taking more responsibility for this earlier and working on the problem before the election.
Leo: Let me through a theory at you and see what you guys think of this. You know, until recently, media was controlled by a small group of people. And you and I—
Larry: The good old days.
Leo: The good old days. And there was kind of a lid placed on the power of media. We've seen it and I think some of this is in reaction, believe it or not, to World War II and that season where media was really used effectively to manipulate a large audience and to really have horrific effects. And I think that the media people grew up in that era, the Edward R. Murrows of the world who really understood the dangerous power, particularly television, had. And kept a lid on it. They were very careful about it. Then what happened when we got into the internet we all got access to media. We got access to Twitter and to Facebook and to YouTube. And everybody was creating media without any of this knowledge or understanding of the risks that media brings. And so what we've really created in Facebook and Twitter particularly, YouTube somewhat, is the megaphone for emotional, you know, anger and feelings and strife. And these have become really well tuned megaphones for our feelings. And as a result, yea, sure, there's a lot of intellectual but nobody reads that crap. It's all about, as you pointed out, Brianna, the stuff that gets you going. And so we've in effect, and I think this is what happened with the internet, it's sad to say—I was really excited about the internet at first because I thought, "This is going to give everybody a voice. It's the ultimate democratizing medium." But what I forgot was that the kind of voice it gave people ultimately could be very destructive because it's so emotional.
Larry: You know, it's interesting. As you know, I work with CBS News and I am very proud to be associated with this company which dates back to Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite.
Leo: Edward R. Murrow, The Tiffany Network.
Larry: But you know, it's when—
Leo: Donny Moore.
Larry: Well, yes and no. There is a very, very strong premium. I'm sure this is true at Fortune and all the media companies, a very strong premium on accuracy. I mean, you'll be fired for knowingly lying or reckless disregard for the truth and an error, a mistake, is extremely embarrassing.
Larry: And if you make too many of those, you get fired for that as well. And so, there is a culture of trying to be accurate I think in mainstream media.
Leo: And it's being buried.
Larry: It's being buried and it's also being ridiculed and it's being denied. I mean when Trump goes around calling us and I put all of us—
Leo: I do want to say one thing. It's a mistake to blame Trump for this. Maybe this is—
Larry: Well, articulating it.
Leo: I think this is the consequence perhaps, at least short-term, right now. But I don't want to blame him for this. He is the beneficiary of something that has been brewing for a long time. And it won't just be Donald Trump. This is going to be all over everywhere. It's Gamergate. It's all the harassment that happens on these sites. It's the bullying. It's the live streaming video of people being tortured on Facebook. That's what we're getting. And I don't think you can say it's the Republicans or Donald J. Trump. It is the society we have created with our technology.
Larry: I am saying thought that journalism—to me, the entire profession of journalism.
Leo: Journalism's dead.
Larry: Well, I don't know. I'm going to keep practicing it as long as they'll let me.
Leo: Well, me too. Don't you see we're in the elephant's graveyard? Go ahead, I'm sorry. Brianna, go ahead.
Brianna: No, no, no. I was just going to say I do think that the left falls into this. That there are some extreme right-wing outlets like Breitbart that don't take accuracy very seriously. I've been the subject of plenty of bad articles by these sites. And you know, so you pick on them. But the left absolutely has this problem. I can tell you as an absolute fact, being progressive and running for office, anything I say that's this much moderate or gives a little bit of credence to the other side, I get attacked about that. And it is an entire society that's really pushing this to the extremes. I do have one very concrete suggestion, that I think would make this better. What I would like to see Facebook and Twitter and other social networks do, is to rate the quality of certain sites and stories when they come out. Generally speaking, if something comes from The Wall Street Journal, I may not like their economic conclusions, but it's going to be well researched. And I would like to see that story come with a ribbon or some sort of marker that indicates that it's quality content. So, I would like to see information from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, those kinds of quality news sources. I'd like to see them elevated in social media. And I would like to see on the left and the right. Some of these sites that play into our internal biases, an epistemic closure. I would like to see them not get that. So, it just kind of gives people a baseline.
Leo: The thing that I fear, though, is that we at this point, have gotten so polarized that we aren't even hearing each other. And so, the people that are reading The Washington Post and The New York Times are one group of people. But that's one group and they're not hearing the other group and the other group's not hearing them. And I don't think there is a conversation going on at all anymore. It's just a bunch of people shouting.
Larry: And I think that's one of the problems with the internet. You know, back in the day, and I don't want to go back to the good old days, but back in the days when we had three television networks and every city had two newspapers, we had a very set number of people giving us facts and we shared facts.
Leo: It was in some respects a battle. It was William Randolph Hurst to create a war against Spain out of thin air.
Larry: That's right.
Leo: So, it wasn't always positive.
Larry: And you're absolutely right. And newspapers were politically biased. People would take the democratic paper, the republican paper.
Leo: So even then there was that polarization.
Larry: But we pretty much most of the time agreed upon the facts, most of the time. Not all of the time. Now, you're absolutely right. The New York Times breaks a story and I read it and say, "Wow. This is amazing. This is important stuff." And the other people are either ignoring it or considering it fake.
Leo: Right, it's fake news.
Larry: It's fake news.
Leo: I think that whoever said it got a lot of grief. But we are in a post-fact era.
Leo: In many respects. Erin, I'm sorry.
Erin: Brianna, I really like your suggestion for adding a marker to stories that are trusted and of quality. And the reason I think that Facebook hasn't done that yet is because there's this fear—it's kind of like the net neutrality argument. There's this fear that there's no room for a company like Business Insider or Engadget or any sort of new blog to kind of come up and become trusted because the Journal and The New York Times and all of the old institutions will just hold on to their power. And Facebook wants to be seen as neutral. I'm really curious to see if that will change, but I think there would be a lot of pushback when that starts.
Larry: I agree.
Brianna: It's a very difficult problem to solve and you have to say this all the time. Engineering is all about compromises. If you do one thing it's going to have trade-offs. And our system now is clearly not working. Like, something's got to change.
Leo: I don't know what the answer is though. I mean, I really don't. I feel like this is we've made our bed.
Larry: You're an example of someone who created his own successful media company. And that wouldn't have been possible 20 years ago.
Leo: Exactly. That's why I celebrate this.
Larry: And I would hate to see you not get the badge because you don't have 40 years of—
Leo: Yea, I benefitted greatly from the democratization of media.
Larry: Yea, exactly.
Leo: I couldn't work in mainstream media anymore, so I created my own thing. But I still fear that the side effects that we've created are terrifying. And I don't know what the answer is to it. But on that note, pause. I do have—and by the way, this is an example of how the internet is so great, Gollum in the chatroom did an interesting observation. We were showing the anonymous icons of Twitter, right? And this was in the early days. And we couldn't really figure out, is this guy carrying an umbrella and a suitcase? What is that? Gollum figured it out. It's Michael Douglas from Falling Down carrying a shotgun. Is that not the same? It's a little changed but not much.
Leo: The internet. Isn't it amazing?
Erin: Oh, my.
Leo: See, this is why we—(laughing). I doubt the Twitter guys even knew what they were up to but somebody in there did. Somebody was subversive. Some designer said, "I have an idea." (laughing). Thank you, Gollum, for catching that. We had a great week this week on TWiT. Lots of fun. I wasn't here but I understand good things happened. That's why we made this small movie to brief me on what I missed last week.
Narrator: Previously, on TWiT.
Dick DeBartolo: The company is Digi-Vina. I don't know if you remember this. Make your record by using all the old plastic bottles at your house.
Leo: I love this idea.
Dick: You could be the first podcast available on vinyl.
Narrator: Security Now.
Steve Gibson: Tavis Ormandy, our favorite security researcher, tweeted shortly after toweling himself off, "I had an epiphany in the shower and realized how to get code execution in LastPass." This is apparently very sophisticated but also it's going to require some reengineering.
Narrator: The New Screen Savers.
Jason Howell: I'm about to hop on Galactic Attack. It's a converted Kong roller coaster that's fitted with Samsung Gear VR into the action, mixed reality experience. Yea, we're in space and we're about to die. Wow, this is really weird.
Narrator: TWiT. Technology for your eyes and ear holes.
Leo: Digi-Vina is an April Fools gag. I can't leave you hanging like this. There's no such thing. It was believable, wasn't it? Yea, you take your old bottles and turn them into—
Larry: I love the idea of a podcast on vinyl. You just send a new one out every day.
Leo: I'm going to do that. I'm finding a way to do that. Jason Howell, what's ahead this week?
Jason: Here's a look at just a few of the stories that we'll be watching in the week ahead. On Monday, April 3rd, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will suspend expedited processing of H-1B petitions for up to 6 months which could have a dramatic effect on the hiring practices of technology companies throughout the year. On Wednesday, April 5th, Huawei is launching it's, well, worst kept secret, the Honor 8 Pro. A Russian Huawei site inadvertently spilled the beans on the 5.7" premium specked Android device. But we still don't know price or whether it will be released in the U.S. like the Honor 8 was last year, which, by the way, I loved in the $400-dollar range. And on Thursday, April 6th, the U.K. gets its long overdue release of the Google Home Assistant as well as the Google Wi-Fi Router. Each device runs $129 euros with a two-pack of the Google Wi-Fi running $229 euros. That's a look at a few of the things we'll be tracking in the coming week. Join Megan Morrone and me on Tech News Today every weekday at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern on TWiT.tv.
Leo: Thank you, Jason.
Larry: Why is he quoting euros for the U.K. price? Don't the use pounds in the U.K.?
Leo: I guess the Brexit memo didn't come out for Jason (laughing). I don't know. Doesn't everybody think in euros? I do. Our show today brought to you by those great folks at ZipRecruiter. If you're the person that has to do the hiring in your company, and you are if you're the sole proprietor, you know this is the thing you least like to do in your business, is find the right employee. And yet, it probably is your single most important job, right? The right hire can change your company for the best, really make a difference. The wrong hire can bring your company to its knees. So you—let's assume, and I think it's a safe assumption, somewhere out there is just the right person for the job you want to fill. How do you reach that person? Which job board is that person looking at? When do they look at it? With ZipRecruiter, you don't have to worry about that. Now you'll post to 200 plus job boards with one click of the mouse at ZipRecruiter.com and I love this. You're going to get—not only are you going to get your message out to all those job boards and Twitter and Facebook, but you're also going to get all the resumes preformatted by ZipRecruiter so they're easy to read, all the applicants filter into the ZipRecruiter interface. No more calls to your phone or emails to your inbox. You can go right to the interface. You can have screening questions for them, multiple choice, yes, no, even essay questions that help you narrow it down, screen out the people that aren't right, rank the rest and hire the right person fast. This is the most efficient way to do the toughest but most important job in your business. You're going to love ZipRecruiter. Used by Fortune 100 companies, thousands of small and medium businesses, over a million companies including TWiT, use ZipRecruiter to fill those positions. You should try it free. Go to ZipRecruiter.com/twit right now and have a free trial. ZipRecruiter.com/twit. And we thank ZipRecruiter for making our podcast possible.
Brianna: That is the hardest job for any business owner.
Leo: Yes, it is.
Brianna: Because finding good people, that is all you do. And the team lives or dies based on how you hire.
Leo: How old is Spacekatgal? How long have you been doing that?
Brianna: Well, my studio's been around since 2010. Like we saw the percentage of women gamers just exploding so I was all in. I was like it's time to launch my own game studio.
Leo: And how many people work for you?
Brianna: Well, it depends. Game development is when you—depending on where you are in the process, you bring people in and then you let them go when the job is done. That's very sad about the game industry. So, depending on where you are you may have 5 people working for us or 15.
Leo: So you're always going up and down, and yea, you understand. You're a small business too. We have 25 employees. And boy, you know, I shouldn't talk about this in public, but the worst thing in business is having to fire somebody.
Larry: Oh, I hate it.
Brianna: It's so bad.
Leo: It is the worst thin.
Brianna: So bad.
Leo: It's miserable. And you feel terrible. And you know—I mean you're not insensitive to what's happening. It's terrible. I've been fired. I don't like to do that. But at the same time, you have to sometimes. That's why hiring's important because—right? You don't want to hire somebody you're going to have to fire.
Larry: And it's also a very expensive mistake when you hire the wrong person. I know that well unfortunately.
Leo: Again, I could go on and on because I've had employees that have cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is not a good thing.
Leo: Yea, yea. Anyway, I don't know why we got into that. By the way, Brianna does a very good podcast on Relay.FM that everybody should be listening to. I hope people know about Brianna's show. It's called Disruption. Tell us what it's about.
Brianna: Well, I tell you, that's the one—I did that one with Georgia and it's more of a social show. Like we look at how technology is effecting people and we have different perspectives. The show I'm really proud of is called Rocket on Relay.FM.
Leo: Oh, man, my wife loves that show by the way. She is a huge Rocket fan.
Brianna: I love your wife. She's awesome. Everyone should follow her on Twitter. No, Rocket is a great show because it's all women. It's me, it's Christina Warren, who has so much talent.
Leo: Love her.
Brianna: Like every single week I do a show with Christina, I leave and I'm just jealous of how much talent and intellect she has. She's amazing. And we do it with Simone de Rochefort who's a video content producer at Polygon. She's younger and just super enthusiastic and makes the show super weird and uncomfortable. But what I love about the show is we talk so much about women and tech issues, Rocket is a show where it's just women talking about technology, and bringing our perspective to it. And we don't talk about politics a lot. And there's nothing else like it in the tech world.
Leo: Yea. Lisa loves it. She's always saying, "You've got to listen to Rocket." I say, "That's for women. I'm a guy." No, no, I don't listen to any podcasts. I don't have time. I'm too busy making them. But I will listen to Rocket because I love all three of you and I think that's—what a great idea for a show. At Replay, I'm sorry, Relay—I always get this wrong. Relay.FM R-E-L-A-Y.FM. I think it's psychological. I don't want to promote Mike Hurley at all (laughing). At all. He's too darn good.
Leo: He's got too many shows I wish I had. And of course with us, Erin Griffith. She writes for Fortune at Fortune.com and don't forget her daily newsletter if you're an investor, a must read. Where can they find that?
Erin: The Term Sheet. You can go to Fortune.com/gettermsheet and sign up for it there and it's a daily listing of every single M & A Transaction that happened in the last 24 hours.
Erin: And also my commentary.
Larry: You're busy.
Leo: Any big mergers and acquisitions in the last week that people maybe missed the big story?
Erin: Well, let's see. Toshiba is selling its chip—
Leo: Yea, we're hearing rumors that Apple might be looking at Toshiba, right?
Erin: That would be interesting. There's SoftBank is just throwing money away faster than it can light it on fire. They're trying to invest in WeWork. They may be going to give $6-billion dollars to Didi which would be the largest venture capital investment of all times.
Leo: That's the Uber of China, right?
Leo: Didi. Actually, this Toshiba thing is interesting because it's not just Apple, but Google and Amazon apparently also looking at this. Why would these companies want to make their own flash RAM? What would be the advantage to that? I could see Apple. They could probably sell more flash memory than anybody in the world, right?
Larry: Well, and they could improve the quality theoretically and cut down the cost.
Leo: But Google's not known as a manufacturing company. They didn't even make the Pixel. I mean they designed the Pixel but—
Larry: LG built the phone.
Erin: They owned Motorola and did very badly and lost a lot of money on that so they don't want hardware.
Leo: And Amazon is not—I mean, I guess Amazon because they make a lot of tablets. I don't know. It seems like Apple would be the most logical of them.
Brianna: They bought that Israeli company a few years ago, the specialized technology. I bet it's more about the patents if I had to guess.
Leo: Ah, it's always about the patents these days. Yea. Apple though, I have to say, has learned a lesson. They want to make everything that the sell, right?
Larry: They want to control the entire ecosystem.
Leo: Control it from beginning to end.
Erin: And they've also become a lot more acquisitive under Tim Cook. You know, they used to really never acquire companies and now it seems like they're snapping up lots of little ones and also not scared to do some big deals.
Leo: Remember Andy Rubin? He's the guy that created Android, sold the company to Google. Did pretty well. Then left. Actually, what it is, first he went to robots and then he left Google. He's been working on a phone. They call it Essential. And guess who leaked out that the Essential will be an Android phone? Eric Schmidt of all people, former Google CEO. He tweeted, "Yea, it's an Android phone." I don't know what Eric's interest is in all this, but it's another one of these bezel-less, you know, very thin framed phones.
Erin: Surely that's not an accidental leak.
Erin: Like anything that he's tweeted, that he's revealing has been vetted by the lawyers and the PR team of both sides involved. Like probably he wanted to quell any possible rumors that Andy Rubin is working on a new competitor to Android that he'll sell to Amazon or whoever wants a new operating system.
Larry: When are we going to get to the point where we really don't care about a new phone? Will that ever happen?
Leo: I think I got to that point a few years ago. I totally said, "I don't want to buy any more phones." She said, "You have buy every new phone that comes out. You have to."
Larry: Well, you do. But I mean—
Leo: The average Joe doesn't care.
Larry: The average Joe—I haven't bought a television set now in 6 years, right? I probably should buy an ultra-high definition TV set at some point.
Leo: It's your fault that Sony and Samsung, they're going out of business. They're losing money. You've got to buy a TV every few years. That's your job.
Larry: You know, phones I don't know. I just—I find that even and I review phones.
Leo: It's boring. It's boring. I admit it. It's boring.
Larry: We sit there. We obsess over the size of the bezel.
Leo: You know what's more boring than phones? Tablets.
Larry: You know, I have to tell you, Google this. Google my name and the word iPad underwhelming and you will see that in 2010 I declared the iPad as underwhelming and I was initially wrong in terms of market share. See that? The iPad is Underwhelming.
Leo: You know what's so funny? Because you were not alone. A lot of people said this. And I took great pride in the fact that I said that this is—on the day, I remember sitting out front of Yerba Buena Center on the day that Steve Jobs—yea, you came over and talked. We were sitting in lawn chairs. And I remember vividly saying, "This is the product Steve Jobs was born to make. This is what he made Apple for. This is going to revolutionize computing." And I was right for a moment. And I was wrong in the long run and you were right in the long run.
Larry: I was right in the long run but wrong in the moment. The sales were phenomenal and I was almost ready to write a retraction. And then you know, eventually the sales started to dwindle.
Leo: You know, John C. Dvorak said, "Nobody wants to buy a mouse." Someday he'll be right.
Larry: Part of the reason is the phones are bigger and the laptops are lighter. So.
Brianna: Apple deserves a lot of responsibility here. You know, Leo, look at the machine in front of you. That's the Microsoft Surface Studio.
Leo: It's awesome.
Brianna: It's sexy. I want one of those so badly. The reason I want it is because it has professional Photo Shop and Illustrator and Premier and Apple has really aggregated any kind of responsibility, leaving the pro-app market on the iPad. And you know, like there's a point where pages and numbers and spreadsheets, it just doesn't cut it for pro users. And I think they had a really great product with the iPad Pro but they have not developed the software ecosystem around it. I think it's 100%--
Leo: Why not? What's going on at Apple? Why haven't they kept this leadership?
Larry: I think on the PC side. I mean, I'm for the first time ever carrying around a Windows laptop, a Hewlett-Packard, right? I can do this with it. I can do this with it.
Leo: I know. Just like phones and boring and tablets are boring, it turns out the most exciting category right now is laptops.
Larry: And Windows.
Leo: And Windows machines.
Larry: That's the irony of it. We just about declared Microsoft dead. I remember when I was at—Walt Mossberg Kara Swisher used to run this conference called All Things D. Now it's called Code. And I remember when—I can't remember who it was. I think they talked about the most important companies in the industry and it was Apple, Amazon and Google and Microsoft wasn't on the list.
Leo: Right. I remember that.
Larry: Microsoft has its mojo back. It's back on the list.
Brianna: They're doing good work. The HoloLens, I think you have to say this. So much of the work that I've seen done on HoloLens, it's really worth knowing. There are a lot of women engineers on that team. And I think it's just one of the best run companies, project teams that I've seen at Microsoft. It's an amazing product. It's got a long way to go but at GSX Game Studio, we've got Oculus, VIVE, Gear VR. We've looked at all of it. And I feel strongly, Microsoft has the best product in that space by a wide margin.
Leo: Is it because it's the best product or because they went for AR and all the rest are VR?
Brianna: That's it. That's it. Yep.
Leo: And by the way, that's interesting to hear from a game developer because VR is a great gaming platform.
Larry: So is AR.
Leo: Yea, not as great. I think AR has more potential in a lot of other realms as well. When you're gaming, I think you want immersive. I don't think it's a problem you can't see the world around you.
Larry: Well, what's the one that everyone's playing, the Nintendo?
Leo: Pokémon Go.
Larry: Pokémon is an AR game.
Leo: Yea, it's quasi-AR.
Larry: But it's AR. Poor man's AR.
Leo: Somebody made the case, though, because everyone's waiting for Apple to drop the other shoe on AR. And somebody made the case that Pokémon Go was, even though it's not really AR, it was very important in getting people accustomed to the idea that they could see the street through their phone and there be a Pokémon on it. That's a first step on getting a customer used to this idea. So here's the question. Apple, you know, they're making so much money on the iPhone. It's understandable that they might let computing slip a little bit and focus on mobile. But everybody's saying Apple's putting all this money into AR. Some say this year. I think the general consensus is next year Apple will have a product, an augmented reality product. Can they make that magic happen one more time?
Brianna: Leo, you've got let me say this. People don't talk about this issue with Apple developing an AR product and that is think about how extremely weak Apple's 3D technologies are. If you go into the iPhone SDK and you look at the things they have, 3D is baby talk in game developer terms.
Brianna: Everybody out there is doing serious 3D work in the iPad. I mean look at Vainglory. Probably the most gorgeous game on iPad that's made with proprietary engine. Most people have—like my studio goes to Unreel because Apple's tools are unsatisfactory. And look at their big gambit with Metal. Metal is a great technology. But where's the software actually using it? It doesn't exist. So in the mean time they've got this technology belt from the open GL Player which is very thick and inefficient. We see a 25% decrease in frame rate in using the exact same software on a Mac and then that same Mac running Windows will have a 25% better frame rate because Apple's implementation of it is that poor.
Leo: Is that because Apple put all in on OpenGL when the rest of the world was going to DirectX? And it turned out OpenGL sucked.
Brianna: I think that's a lot of it.
Leo: That's just a bad choice. That's like Spring choosing WiMAX instead of LTE. That's a bad choice, the kind of choice that haunts a company for years. But it's not—it's just a mistake.
Brianna: So if they're going to bringing this product out, they're going to have to really get serious about 3D technologies.
Brianna: I don't like—they blindsided us with Swift. Nobody saw that coming so maybe they have a group of people that are working to really buildup Apple's 3D technologies but as somebody who ships mobile games on Apple devices, there's a reason we use an Unreel engine, because Apple's tech doesn't cut it.
Leo: Everybody uses Unreel engine.
Leo: Or does Unity have good 3D support?
Brianna: It's solid. It's not as advanced.
Leo: It's cross-platform which is nice.
Brianna: It's cross—platform. The reason they've gotten a lot of adoption is it's simpler and they've done a really good job at reaching out to Universities so I a lot of students know how to use it. But you know, we prefer Unreel because it's better.
Leo: Well, maybe Apple also suffered—this is interesting. Somebody in the chatroom is suggesting that Apple didn't have an engine because you don't game so much on a Macintosh. And so there was no pressure on them to create something good and that ended up hurting the tablet as well, iOS as well, because they didn't have to develop these technologies.
Larry: Didn't they claim that iOS was one of the most popular gaming platforms in the world?
Brianna: It is.
Leo: Casual games.
Larry: Casual gaming.
Brianna: But it is the most popular gaming platform in the world.
Leo: That's right. You develop for it exclusively, right?
Brianna: That's true. 40% of the profits are in streaming or mobile devices. But this hurts Apple in the long term. Look at the Apple TV. I think it's really hard to look at that product and not see it as a failure because the apps on it do not make money for developers. And you know, it's just not a great place for developers to go unless their porting iPhone games over to it. So, Apple's weak leadership in this area is really coming back to haunt them.
Leo: Interesting. No, I have to point out, Android's no better.
Brianna: That's true. That's true. You don't have to sell me. It's a real thing.
Leo: So, how about the Nintendo Switch? There's a mobile platform for 3D.
Leo: I bet that's a pretty good platform.
Brianna: We're looking at it. It's really exciting. I'm not convinced it doesn't have a fundamental hardware issue with like the Bluetooth controller but the Tegra processor underneath it, like it's a very solid product from Nintendo. And I'm really looking forward to getting one.
Leo: This is Vainglory. You mentioned this. So, you think this is the best—I can't even see it.
Brianna: It's beautiful.
Leo: It really is amazing. And what engine is this using? Is this—
Brianna: That's a proprietary engine that they wrote themselves, so look at it. Like the particle effects. There's really not great tools in Apple's SDK for us to do things like that.
Leo: Interesting. I had no—this is why I love getting developers on. You see it a completely different way than end users do. We don't know what's under the hood. We don't know if this is good or bad.
Brianna: It's difficult stuff, yea.
Larry: I'm looking forward to you making speeches from the floor of Congress with these technical, you know—
Leo: (Laughing) That would be awesome.
Larry: You'll have your own CSPAN channel.
Leo: Resolved: OpenGL shall no longer be used on any platform. The ayes have it.
Brianna: I would pass that bill in a flash. It would be good for the world. I would do that.
Larry: Yea, I'll vote for that.
Leo: It's finally on its last legs. You saw that FedEx is offering people a $5-dollar rebate if they turn on Flash in their browser because Flash is now disabled in Chrome and Firefox but unfortunately I guess that FedEx can't figure out how to get a developer to not use Flash. So, they're so Flash dependent, they're offering you a $5-buck rebate to turn it back on.
Brianna: Oh, that's sad.
Larr: I had to turn it back on just yesterday because I was watching some video I needed to watch.
Leo: There are 69 new emojis and we've got them for you here, including, I think, one we're going to take a little bit of for. This is the Unicode Committee. There's an emoji committee. We talked to one of the members of the committee when he was out here in San Francisco. Many of these have been launched now on iOS 10.3. And one of them is a milkshake. And I have to give credit to our own Tonja Hall who talked to the guy when he was visiting us and said, "Why is there not a milkshake emoji? There's pizza. There's hotdogs. There's hamburgers now." And there is now a milkshake emoji so I think we have to thank our own Tonja Hall for making that happen. There's a bearded person. Not a bearded man, that's a bearded person. Now, this is an interesting choice. This breastfeeding one was a little controversial. By the way, remember, when you see an emoji, there is kind of a reference design but every platform, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, all have their own design. But this was a controversial one because—this is, by the way, weird. Originally the breastfeeding emoji didn't have a head because they didn't want to say it was a man or a woman. They wanted to be gender neutral on the breastfeeding emoji.
Leo: Men can breastfeed I was told. Didn't know that. Not all men, a small percentage. But it was so creepy to have an emoji, a breastfeeding emoji with no head, it was totally out of a horror film. I guess they decided, well, ok, we'll give you it a head. But I bet you there's a man and a woman. I bet you.
Larry: Now, does Congress have to approve these emojis?
Brianna: Oh, God, I hope not.
Leo: Just the Unicode Consortium.
Larry: That's a relief.
Brianna: I feel very strongly that the peach, the double rounded peach emoji needs to be part our—
Leo: I was really disappointed that they took some of the rounding out of the peach.
Brianna: Yea, it's very sad.
Leo: We need an eggplant, we need a peach. Otherwise, how are we going to use, you know, sexy emoji. That's very important (laughing). Print that up, Brianna. These are some of the other new emojis. There's an elf. There's a genie. There's a vampire.
Leo: Nice. There's a fairy.
Larry: A male fairy and a female fairy.
Leo: Of course. Fairies come in all kinds. Merperons. I've never seen a male mermaid, but I've always hoped to see one. There's a climber. Person in lotus position.
Larry: That looks like the breastfeeding woman, doesn't it?
Leo: Yea, it's the same one. There's only one woman.
Brianna: She gets around.
Leo: She gets around.
Leo: Sled. Oh, this is for our friends in Canada, a curling stone. Now wait a minute. That's a little, I think—
Erin: Seems like a rare use case.
Leo: We did a whole show dedicated to this. We did. We spent a long time on the emojis, the most used, the least used.
Larry: I'm thinking a weekly show every week.
Leo: Oh, emoji week.
Larry: Yea, emoji week.
Leo: Emojis this Week. This Week in Hedgehog Emoji. All the things you can do. T-Rex. Love that. There are in total, how many, Karston? 50 new emojis? 59 new emojis.
Larry: 59 new emojis.
Leo: Cricket. That's interesting. Giraffe. So these have been brewing for a long time.
Leo: Zebra. Ok, this could really extend the show for a long time.
Larry: Sandwich, that's what I like.
Leo: Sandwich. 69. There's 69 new emojis. Takeout box.
Larry: But it's a Chinese takeout box, right?
Leo: One reference design, yes. But you know, even the milkshake, by the way, isn't a milkshake, see? It's a cup with straw. So, you can determine what else is in there. And maybe that looks like, say, a McDonald's cup but you know, Twitter gets to do something different. That's just the reference design.
Brianna: I want a developer emoji. I want a man and a woman developer with coffee cups just piled up all over the desk.
Leo: And their head on the desk, right?
Brianna: Yea, that would be great.
Leo: And they should be wearing carpal tunnel braces.
Brianna: That would be very accurate.
Leo: (Laughing) Yes, to make it real. Hey, congratulation to Andy Baio. What a saga this is. Any Baio founded a site many years ago. We all used it on the early days of the internet call upcoming.org. Remember? This was the first kind of event site on the internet. Two years after it was founded in the yearly 2000s, Yahoo bought it, which of course, is the beginning of the end for many a great site. In 2013, Yahoo shut upcoming.org down. But, that's not the end of the saga. Then, Andy Baio created a Kickstarter campaign to buy it back and revive upcoming.com. He raised $30,000-dollars in 90 minutes, $100,000-dollars total. 4 years later, Upcoming.com is back. Not only that, he restored the archives. So you can—It's actually Upcoming.org. So you can see things we did back in the 2000s.
Larry: Cool. You know what he paid Yahoo for it?
Larry: Hopefully not a lot. No, I don't know.
Leo: No, nothing.
Larry: Oh, good.
Leo: What would Yahoo want? A quarter. Yea, I don't think he—I don't know. That's a good question.
Erin: I hate to tell him that he has some new competition in the intervening 15 years.
Leo: Oh, no.
Erin: There are a lot of new event sites that have sprung up to take his place. I hope he has some new features.
Leo: There's Eventbrite and yea, there are a lot of them. Upcoming, I will use Upcoming just because that was the original.
Larry: It just looks a little like an old site.
Leo: It does, doesn't it?
Larry: It's ok.
Leo: It's kind of like Delicious, another site that Yahoo practically could.
Larry: It's probably a lot faster.
Leo: Palmer Lucky is leaving Oculus. What do you think of this? What do you make of this? Palmer Lucky was the teenager who dreamed of VR.
Erin: I think the VR people have to be celebrating this. I mean, they've been trying to distance themselves from him for quite some time. You know, when it came up that he was the one that was behind all of these crass memes and not to mention their lawsuit that they've been dealing with, with ZeniMax. He's at the center of it. They're very terse. We wish him the best.
Leo: Bye-bye (laughing).
Erin: The why behind it I think was telling if you read between the lines.
Leo: I've got to tell you, I've got to tell you, he got $2-billion dollars when Facebook bought Oculus.
Erin: Well, he personally didn't get that but he did get a lot of money.
Larry: I think he can live on that for a while.
Leo: He got a lot of it I would guess. Enough that he probably doesn't have to work. If I were Palmer Lucky I would take it a little easy by now.
Brianna: I think it's tempting to look at this story like the social disaster story. And certainly the stuff he did was, it didn't look good. But I think the bigger issue here is Oculus' launch was really blown in a way that really jeopardizes the long-term health of that company. And I say that as someone who develops VR.
Leo: I agree.
Brianna: Oculus Touch is the best product on the market for interfacing in VR. It didn't launch with it. It launched after the fact. You have games like Robo Recall which are exceptional on the system which have not gotten any attention. At all. So, you look at this with just problems recruiting developers, problems with really getting a solid DEV kit out there to people. Problems with really getting a marketplace. Problems with attracting a user base. And it just needs a new direction. So, I'm happy to put all my social differences with him aside and say, "Someone's got to take responsibility to this blown launch with this very important product." And I clearly think there's new leadership needed there.
Leo: What's the best game on VR, whether it's VIVE or Oculus?
Brianna: Robo Recall is excellent.
Brianna: Yea. You're dodging, you're shooting bullets. You grab robots and throw them into teleporters. It's really amazing.
Leo: I'll have to try it. That's an Epic game.
Brianna: It is. It's made with an Unreel engine.
Leo: Interesting. Do you do a lot, do you spend a lot of time in the, what do we call it, in the hood, in the visor (laughing)?
Brianna: I do. I do. We have an entire room at my studio that's dedicated to it. I have a really cool tech demo that we've been working on that I'm putting aside to go run for Congress. It's really sad because I think it's some really fun technology but I'm just not going to feel great about developing distractions the next few years.
Leo: Yea, I know Georgia and Anthony are huge—they have a dedicated VR room in their house.
Brianna: They do. They're talking about buying a new house.
Leo: They're going to buy a new house for VR room, to have another VR. Because they—right now, she plays downstairs against him. He's upstairs. Crazy. Crazy. I'm not sold on VR. I'm much more excited about AR.
Larry: I'm not either.
Brianna: I agree.
Larry: I'm not willing to invest in a high-end VR system and the room it takes in the house. And so, I've got the Oculus VR and I've got a few other devices, but they're all fun. But after a while, I kind of move on.
Leo: I have a game room that has VIVE setup, you know, it has the sensors nailed to the wall and everything, but we don't do it that often.
Brianna: I don't either. I think it's—I think that we haven't seen the use case proven for it yet. So, there it is.
Leo: Right. I agree. Let's take a break. When we come back, it was April Fool's Day yesterday. I'm going to let each of you pick your favorite—I hate April Fool's Day. This show, the day after April Fool's is so hard to do because is George Takei running for Congress or not? I don't know. Because everybody, everything you read, you have to filter. Did Apple buy Tesla? I don't know. Anyway, we're going to take a break and come back. Did Google buy Spotify? Your favorite April Fool's jokes when we return.
Leo: This is no joke. Stamps.com. If you are in the business where you mail stuff, and you are still going to the post office to get stamps, to buy stamps, or worse, you have a postage meter that you bring to the post office—it looks like it's a nuclear containment vessel. It weighs about 40 pounds. You bring it to the post office to get postage put on it and you're buying special ink. You're crazy. That's not the 21st century. Stamps.com, my friends, use your computer, your printer to print real U.S. postage as needed and it does so much more. It really does actually solve your fulfillment problem. In fact, you can do anything you do at the post office, including mail stuff, from your desk with Stamps.com. No equipment to lease, no long-term commitments. They'll even send you a digital scale, a USB scale that calculates exactly the right postage. No more guessing. Still, when I buy stuff on Etsy or eBay I will get—sometimes I will get a brown paper wrapped package in twice and it's kind of lumpy and funny shaped. And then there's about 20 extra stamps stuck on it because I know, they didn't want—you know, they weren't sure. Stamps.com, you print out the label right for the packaging. It even fills out the forms you need, the customs forms, the express mail forms. You get discounts you can't get at the post office because, by the way, the post office loves Stamps.com. They want you to use Stamps.com so they give you discounts you can't get anywhere else. It is awesome. And right now, you can try it free. In fact, it's a great deal, a 4-week trial, plus $55-dollars in free postage coupons you can use over the first few months of your account. Plus, the digital scale. A great deal. Stamps.com. You've got to try it. If you're doing mailing at all, go to Stamps.com, click the upper right hand corner. There's a microphone up there and enter TWiT as the offer code. This is $110-dollar bonus value and a free trial of Stamps.com. We use it like crazy. It's the only way to do mailing. It makes you look professional. You can put right on the envelope your logo and everything. Stamps.com.
Leo: All right, there were some good April Fool's pranks. There were also some bad ones. I'm pretty sure George Takei is not running for Congress, but Brianna Wu is.
Brianna: Yes, that's right.
Leo: Although, you said you would vote for him. I would. Sure.
Brianna: Of course, I would. What I thought was really interesting, the reason I fell for this and even retweeted this is he ran for—he was thinking about running back in the 70s. He ultimately had to pull his candidacy because Star Trek was still on the air and because of equal time laws, they would have had to have the other person a ton of time on the air as well. So, I completely fell for this and I am vulnerable and people called me on it. I would love to see him run.
Leo: I'll confess. When I first read it, I forgot it was April Fool's Day. I did believe it. And I was thrilled. I didn't retweet it. Thank God. I didn't fall. But I was thrilled. I thought, "I love George." Who doesn't love George Takei? You know, he's openly gay. He's funny, smart. He understands technology and he's very political and I would just love it if he would run. So, George, maybe you should run. No equal time problems these days. But it was an April Fool's joke. What else? What was your favorite, Larry?
Larry: Google Cloud. Google Wind where they were going to be up to. Use the cloud to forget clouds and actually use windmills to clear the sky. But I have to say, I put on Facebook that yesterday, I called it fake news day. It's a day when it's ok.
Leo: It's ok to get it out of your system.
Larry: One day a year.
Leo: Do it now. This is the get wind. This is Google Netherlands. One of the problems with Google is they have every Google division across the world does their own April Fool's joke.
Leo: In fact, at some point I feel like Google's spending more time on April Fool's jokes than figuring out what messaging program we're going to use. They need to spend a little time, more on the messaging mess-up there, Google.
Brianna: That's a sick bird.
Leo: Brianna, did you have a favorite April Fool's joke from the tech community?
Brianna: It was George Takei. Like I said, I kind of closed my browser and said, "You know, this is not a good day for me to be here, so."
Leo: We should make this the new thing. This is the day you disconnect, is April Fool's Day. No screen day. How about you, Erin Griffith? Your favorite April Fool's?
Erin: I actually fell for the George Takei thing because I only got the Nuzzle push notification to the original article and all the tweets around it, it was still so early that everyone was saying, "Oh my God! Yes! This is so awesome!" And then obviously later it was disproven. But I never got a second push notification telling me that.
Leo: It's the perfect fake news story because we all want to believe it, right?
Larry: That's what fake news is, right? It reinforces our bias, what we want.
Erin: But it also wasn't like a piece of news that I feel obligated to cover which is what I find so infuriating about this. Is when you get something that actually looks like a real press release from the company, everything about it seems legit, and then you still have to kind of ask yourself, "Oh, wait. No, this is probably not real and I won't cover it." I'm so glad it was on a Saturday this year.
Leo: We all say Google Gnome which is the outdoor version of Google Home. That was a very funny video. I have to say though, I want to give props to Snapchat because they did a very subtle and a very good—this was the Snapchat filter yesterday. It took your Snapchat picture and made it look like it was on Instagram. And note the likes from my_mom (laughing).
Erin: So good.
Leo: Now that's my kind of April Fool's joke, right? Snapchat's Instagram filter. Of course, they're—
Erin: On one level you want to say, "No, don't let—don't ever let Facebook see that you've gotten to them." Or that they're copying has actually gotten to you and that you care. But on the other hand, it's now so blatant and lame that I appreciate the cloud.
Leo: I do too. I think it's so awesome.
Larry: I once wrote an April Fool's column about buying insurance, predicting that Steve Jobs was going to launch a health insurance company, just for iPhone users. And the theory being—
Leo: That's believable.
Larry: And actually I got so much mail from people who believed it that—very angry at the fact that Apple is entering the healthcare field.
Leo: Did anybody watch Will Arnett on Netflix Live, their new live stream?
Brianna: I heard about it. It was supposedly very funny.
Leo: Yea. Is it over? Can I watch it on Netflix now because it was a joke obviously. There's no Netflix Live Stream. And apparently he was just narrating a live stream of life's biggest thrills including toasters toasting, grass growing and fans blowing. And on that note, ladies and gentlemen, I think we should call it a day.
Leo: Larry Magid, always a pleasure to have you, in studio even better. We're going to give you a plug for connectsafely.org.
Larry: Thank you.
Leo: Safekids.com. Anything else you want to plug?
Leo: Oh, that's your website.
Larry: That's my personal website. But, yea.
Leo: And I use that when we—you know, we have a 14-year-old. When we wanted a contract for internet, you know, you bet I went right to connectsafely.org.
Larry: Thank you. On connectsafely.org we took a swipe at the Congressional privacy vote that happened the other day. And I do suggest you listen to the podcast with Mignon from the Federal Communications--
Leo: That's a great get, because she's a commissioner.
Larry: She was good.
Leo: I thought—I always liked her a lot. I hope she—I doubt she'll stay on the Commission, although weirdly, you have to appoint an equal number of democrats and republicans, so.
Larry: Right, but right now the chair is a republican.
Leo: Is a republican, yea. As is always the case, it's the party in power.
Larry: That's right.
Leo: Speaking of podcasts, Brianna Wu has a couple of great ones. We've got to highly recommend. You go to Relay.fm and check out—what's the one that I should be watching?
Brianna: Rocket is awesome. And you're a Georgia Dow Fan.
Leo: I confess a soft spot for Georgia, too, so.
Brianna: Who doesn't like Georgia? She's awesome.
Leo: You've got time for two, come on.
Larry: I get along fine. I could listen to her podcast.
Leo: And BriannaWu2018.com, especially if you're in the Massachusetts state, you're going to be able to vote for her.
Brianna: That's true.
Leo: There's a primary first, right?
Brianna: There's a primary. I'm trying to primary Stephen Lynch. I'm not really a big fan of his but you know, any of your listeners, for real, you know, if you want better tech policy, go to supportbrianna.com. I'm trying to not get in the pocket of corporate money as I'm doing this and email—what I want to do is make technologists the really next sought after demographic with political movements. Donate to candidates that have good tech policy and you will see tech policy improve, I can guarantee you.
Leo: And when is the date for the primary?
Brianna: It's next year, so I believe it's in October. So, I've got about a year and a half to go and shake about 30,000 hands.
Leo: Wow. And yet, I'm going to go over and donate because I like the idea of small donors supporting a very important candidacy. Bring some sense into Congress.
Larry: Bernie Sanders.
Leo: Good luck to you, Brianna. That's great. It was great having you on. I've been trying to get you on for ages. But it was all in my head because all I had to do is email you (laughing). So, thanks for joining us. Every day I would think, "I've got to get Brianna on. I love Brianna." I also love Erin Griffith. Always great to see you.
Erin: Likewise, thanks for having me.
Leo: Thank you, Erin, for joining us after your vacation. I hope your Zen state is still intact.
Larry: And bring that Zen state to Silicon Valley. We live her.
Leo: We could use it.
Larry: We could use it.
Erin: Oh, God!
Erin: Yes. Fortune.com/unicorntears will direct you to my author page. Fortune.com/gettermsheet will direct you to the signup page for my daily newsletter on deals and deal makers.
Leo: And, by the way, unicorn tears is not an April Fool's joke. It's actually the URL which is the best.
Erin: That is what my editor gave me.
Leo: And how's Larry doing on the Rubik's Cube?
Erin: He dropped this off earlier.
Leo: Oh, nice.
Erin: And it's complete.
Leo: Solid colors all the way around. He solved it in under 2 hours.
Erin: I think we can thank a YouTube video or 2 for that.
Leo: Nice. Very nice. Thanks to all of you for being here. A great studio audience. Nice to have you. You can email email@example.com. We'll be glad to get a chair out for you. Usually there is somebody who's really excited about the show and then 3 or 4 family members who are bored to tears. And you're all welcome (laughing). Is it over, Dad? Is it over? It's almost over, isn't it? You can also join us on the live stream. We're live everywhere now, including YouTube.com/twit, Twitch.tv—don't tell Germany. Twitch.tv/twit, UStream.com/leolaporte and twit.tv/live, to really confuse the issue. If you're live, do join us in the chatroom at irc.twit.tv. We love having the kids in the back of the class throw spitballs at us, digital spitballs, but spitballs none the less.
Larry: Yea, someone took a couple of shots at me. It's ok. Somebody said thank you.
Leo: No, it's great. And of course, if you can't watch live you can always watch on demand. All of our shows are available on the marvelous thing we call the internet. Twit.tv or your favorite pod catchers. Subscribe and get every episode. Thank you so much for being here! We'll see you next week. Another TWiT is in the can. Bye.