This Week in Tech 609
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech. I have a huge show for you! Christina Warren is here from Gizmodo, we've got Harry McCracken, the Technologizer from Fast Company. Iain Thomson from the Register, we're going to talk about Apple's amazing admission of failure earlier this week. Why you might be cautious about an IRS notice if you get one in the email. And Jeff Bezos, and why he's selling a billion dollars' worth of Amazon stock. It's all coming up next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 609, recorded Sunday, April 9, 2017.
Strippers, JFK, and Stalin
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. Stand back, this is a panel on fire today! Especially you, Christina Warren. You are ready to go. Senior writer at Gizmodo, one of our favorite people in the world, Film_girl on the Twitter. Nice to see you, Christina.
Christina Warren: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Leo: Anything new in your life?
Christina: Same old same old.
Leo: If anything comes to you, let me know.
Christina: I will.
Leo: Also here from theregister.co.uk, Iain Thomson. This is three of my favorite people on this panel. This is going to be so much fun!
Iain Thomson: Well, Harry tweets about this today. One of your tweets was "off to panel!"
Harry McCracken: It's better than that than Oh my god, can I skip this week?
Leo: And from Fast Company, Harry McCracken is here! There's a contingent. Is Dvorak on? I'm going to skip it. The rest of you, here we go. What a good show. What a weird week in the news. I don't know where to start, but I'm going to start with Tuesday in Apple. A really interesting thing. I think unprecedented. Apple brought in five bloggers. No Wall street Journal, no New York Times, no Gizmodo, they brought in John Gruber from Daring Fireball, one of the most popular Apple blogs. They bought in Winifred from Axios.
Christina: She's the best.
Leo: From Mashable, Lance Eulenoff. Former boss. Christina. John Petekowski. He's now at Buzzfeed. From Tech Crunch, Matthew Panzarina. That's basically five blogs. Well known big blogs.
Christina: I don't think the distinction at this point between blog and traditional stuff matters as much as it once did.
Leo: Until recently it would have been the Wall Street Journal in there. And what was really, they brought them all to the design lab, they had stuff covered in black cloth, so I'm sure they thought they were going to see something today. No. Phil Schiller was there. Craig Federigi. He's in charge of software engineering, and John Turnas who is vice President of hardware engineering. So you got some, no Tim Cook, and no Johnny Ive, but you've got the people in charge of it. All these pictures are not from the journalists but from Apple. They did not allow the journalists to take pictures. We also don't know what ground rules there were. Were there some off the record things?
Iain: They were preaching to Verge on this one. There are a lot of camp follower stuff on there.
Leo: Certainly Gruger. But Matthew Panzarino is one of those...
Iain: I haven't seen that many Daring fireballs sink into Apple in the way it deserves.
Leo: I overstated on Tuesday. I said he was the Fox news of Cupertino. That's mean. But he's not quite... he's a good journalist. He's always accurate.
Christina: He's very accurate. He's always been a fan, but he will call it like it is. When there's a problem, he will admit that there's a problem, which is why he chose him. I would say of the five, he's been the most outwardly critical of the Mac strategy.
Leo: that's what this was about. The unprecedented part was the very first thing they say is, we blew it. The trash can Mac, the Mac Pro that lots of people never updated, the "update" they announced was they'll make the high end version. In effect, cutting a thousand dollars off the high end version! They said we blew it. It wasn't designed in a way that we can upgrade it. Of course Phil Schiller starts with the Mac is doing really well, we're really proud. But really, the takeaway is when we designed... he was the guy who said can't innovate my ass.
Iain: We didn't eat those words over the following week. I don't know if we can say this on air, but he was trying to polish a turd.
Leo: It was quite highly polished, that particular turd.
Iain: They put a lot of elbow work into it, but it didn't quite work, did it? That's why they've now had to say sorry. Didn't quite work out this time.
Leo: This is something new we got from Matthew, the transcript of this. We have the full transcript, which is nice. The most important statement was when we designed the mac pro the trashcan Mac, we thought that the future was going to have dual graphic cards, for instance. We didn't make it in such a way that we could reasonably upgrade it for Pros.
Christina: They didn't see USBC coming. They didn't explicitly talk about it, but the big thing I took from that was when they designed it they were thinking the GP would be the most important part. The thunderbolt would be the new bus. They didn't perceive in a matter of four years that the next big IO advancement would be coming through USBC.
Leo: It's funny because Apple was part of the team that developed USBC. Certainly somebody on the campus knew all about USBC. The Mac team has USBC everywhere now.
Iain: It's a fundamental problem Apple has with buses, they can't decide what technology they want to use for the last couple of years. As a result we've got 17 different dongles they have to carry around in a bag with them just to make the bloody things work.
Leo: Craig Federigi says "I think it's fair to say part of why we're talking today is that the Mac Pro, we want to do something bold and different. In retrospect, it didn't well suit some of the people we were trying to reach. It's good for some, it's an amazingly quiet machine. It's a beautiful machine, but it doesn't address the full range of customers we want to reach with the Mac Pro." Turnas says one of the foundations was dual GPU, and for certain, blah blah blah. The way the system is architected, it doesn't lend itself to significant configuration. Somebody might want a different combination of GPUs. That's when we realized we had to take a step back and rearchetype what we're doing and build something that enables us to do those quick regular updates, keep it current, keep it... at that point they said we are working on a new Mac Pro, it will not be available this year. They didn't say when it will be available. I saw a story repeated by Mac rumors from a blog that said he talked to a number of people and it may not be until 2019. The reason he thinks that is the Apple people told him they started working on the new design a few weeks ago. It's not unreasonable to say it might take them as long as two years. Certainly over a year to make a new...
Iain: They've dropped the ball on this sector for so long now, they're playing catch up constantly.
Leo: They had the cheese grader mac, which was perfect.
Iain: Now Microsoft is eating their lunch with designers.
Leo: I'm going to say in my opinion, I have the surface studio, a lot of designers would look at this and say that's what I wanted a Mac to be. Touch screen, Apple said no touch screen ever at this meeting. They said we will continue to update the iMac, there will be a pro ish iMac later this year, we are going to make new Mac minis. Not this year, but sometime, which makes it to me a vapor wear announcement, there will be a new MacPro. It seems to me this is to staunch the bleeding. I don't know why a pro would do this. I guess I won't make the shift to Windows this year and I'll survive until the next Mac Pro comes out.
Christina: Some pros might do.
Leo: You'd have to be very devoted to Macintosh.
Christina: Some people are. If you are looking at your budget and you don't have to make a hardware decision right now, if you think you can make that decision a year from now or if you think the new iMac might be able to fill the gaps, that might be useful. But you're right. It's hoping that the pros who are eying professional Windows desktops are going to be convinced to not do that because they know something new is coming. Whether that works or not, I don't know, but that's obviously what they're hoping is they'll be able to prevent people from making those decisions.
Harry: Up until the time they made this announcement, it was going to be reminiscent of almost 20 years ago when the Mac was really bottoming out and there were all these intensely loyal Mac users who were trying to decide whether to move to Windows, which seemed to be the only option at that point, and some of them did it fairly quickly, and a lot held on. The ones who held on eventually were rewarded because the Mac came back, but we saw all this conversation on the web, until they made this announcement that there would never be another really powerful Mac. People who want expandability and a lot of horse power, so you know. They kicked the can down the road a little bit because it's entirely possible that when they do the new Mac Pro, people will grumble about that too.
Iain: The Mac came back because Steve Jobs came back and he had the balls to sit down and do, and say this is how it needs to be done.
Leo: The famous quadrant. He said there's pro and consumer, desktop and mobile. We are going to make four products, one in each quadrant. This is a very different Apple. This is not Steve Jobs' Apple. For Apple to say we screwed up with our top of the line product and we haven't updated in three years and we're never going to update, this is Thomas Holworder writing in OS news, he's says... I don't think he's making it up...
Christina: I don't think he's making it up, I just think his sources aren't as good as me.
Leo: Take it with a grain of salt. 2019, although I will point out if Apple thought it would come out in 2018, they would say 2018. They said not this year.
Harry: They'd rather pleasantly surprise people than disappoint them.
Leo: Or they'd rather keep these people strung along as long as possible. He says what made Apple do a 180? Well after the announcement of the new MacBook Pro, the refurbished old MacBook pro went through the roof. By the way, I did that. I had a touch bar, hate the touch bar, ended up trading it in for the touch bar less, the lower end model, which I'm in love with. Which is a great classic Macintosh laptop. After the initial reviews came out, they shot up higher, this response to the new MacBook pro with touch bar took Apple completely by surprise. Combine with the problems surrounding 5K display, remember Apple is implied, we're not going to make displays any more, we'll let LG do it, but that LG display broke the Internet, because if it was anywhere near your router, your router would stop working, and the constant negativity from professional Apple users, the company, decided to double down on professional users. As a result, we'll be getting a new Mac Pro and an iMac pro, IMac Pro this year, new Mac Pro not this year. And in addition, I don't know if this is true, but this will be another big retrenchment from Apple, they're exploring additional retina pro models without the touch bar. And maybe hooking up an iPad pro to a Mac Pro to use it like a syntique.
Harry: Which you can do now.
Leo: Not very well.
Christina: I wonder though. To me, when I think about when Apple started to lose the pro market, they still have a lot of it, when there was the shift, when they gained things in the late 90's with Steve Jobs coming back, you could also add on the creation of the final cut, and professional software apps that they made. When Apple released final cut 10, was it 2011? That was a big switch away from how video professionals have been using software. It wasn't a positive one. The Industry reactions were quite negative.
Leo: We replaced all our MacPro cheese graders with dell workstations and Adobe Premier.
Christina: You're not alone. Many shops do that. I was at NAB both the year it was announced and the subsequent years after it had happened, and seeing the shift anecdotally on the floor, seeing places that had gone from supporting Final Cut to Premier based things, was extraordinary. i wonder how much of this is tied together, where you in addition not making the right sort of professional computer with the trashcan MacPro, and it not being sensible or future proof in thew ay it would have anticipated. They overemphasized, and it turns out there were different connectivity standards and different sorts of things that were more important.
Leo: I guess mistakes can happen.
Christina: Without a doubt. I wonder if it was a combination of that design decision and also the switch in software where you had fundamental and a hugely big change in Final cut 10, and I think the Final Cut ten has come around. The Final Cut ten that is available now had been released six years ago, you wouldn't have seen the switch that happened. But when you did see that big Industry shift, which incidentally was the same thing that had happened when the first final cut came out, and Premier systems to using Final Cut, when you have that kind of shift, with a lot of professionals being like we're now adobe people, and Adobe is now the software service model. Adobe software is going to work the same as PCs on Mac. I wonder how much that has to do with the feeling among professionals that Apple is less relevant. I wonder how much of it is that they're ignoring things on the software side because they made wrong bets there in addition to making some wrong calculations when it came to on the Mac Pro side some of the design consideration.
Leo: Schiller did want to reassure pros about software. He said I want to reiterate how commitment, both Final Cut 10 and Logic 10, there are teams in these software products that are completely dedicated to delivering great software. No foot off the gas. This meeting today is to reassure us.
Harry: They're having an existential crisis in a lot of cases.
Leo: Is it enough.
Harry: Again, I think it's kicking the can down the road. Eventually these machines will come out. They're not going to please everybody.
Leo: How hard is it if you shifted to Windows this year to go back to Mac if they come out with a great Mac Pro at the end of 2018? You could shift back? Right or wrong? Our editors did not have a hard time moving from Final Cut 2 to Premier. Not that we do the kind of editing... it's not complicated.
Iain: Once people shift...
Leo: As long as Windows continues to serve that audience, you're not going to shift even if you see a sexy hot looking Mac Pro.
Iain: But one point in Apple's favor is Windows 10 is such a dog of an operating system. I'm not a fan.
Leo: On Tuesday the creator's update comes out. Microsoft named that the creator's update. Not that there's anything particularly creative. It's got 3D paint, that's all. But there's no secret that Microsoft sees this as an opportunity. You don't see the Surface studio without having Apple...
Iain: I was at the studio launch in New York, and we know what designers want,...
Leo: You don't feel like they're hitting the mark with the Windows 10 stuff?
Iain: Personally, Windows 10 consumer is a dog. Windows 10 professional...
Leo: The days of default computer you should buy being a Windows PC are long gone. Get a Chrome book. For 90% of what you do, you'd be fine. Even if you do, there's no compelling reason to prefer Windows over Mac or Linux.
Iain: Chromebooks have a couple of key weaknesses. Lousy gaming PCs.
Leo: Gaming is the only reason to get Windows.
Christina: You can't print with them.
Leo: You can print great. Google print. All the modern printers will print just fine with a Chromebook.
Christina: I still have issues. You can't scan with them. You can print with them.
Leo: I have an Epson printer that scans to Google cloud, which is usually what I want, because if I'm scanning it's because I'm going to share a document with somebody usually. So I scan it to Google cloud, and I have access to it. I can use a Chrome book for 90% of what I do.
Iain: This is my travel machine.
Leo: Larry is using an iPad. He's a very heterogeneous bunch.
Iain: Instead of at the Office, I'll have a jewel boot system.
Leo: I would submit Windows 10 is fine for most people. There's another issue. Microsoft is now putting ads not only in the startup menu, but everywhere. This new creator's update has a new ad unit. Most of the time, the ads are for Microsoft products. But not always, it pops up for Dropbox. In the middle of your computing, you can turn that off, and it's not obvious.
Iain: I want a computer, an operating system that allows me to do something. I don't want pop up messages going this would be faster if you did this.
Leo: I am very happy with Linux. This is the year of Linux on the desktop.
Christina: Leo, no one has ever said that and meant it.
Leo: I mean it. I think Linux is quite mature. Linux works with almost all modern PC hardware. I thought I'm never going to get Linux on this HP Spector 13 or the copper one. I put Linux on it so it works great. It was easy to install all the hardware works. Linux is very mature now. The desktops are elegant. What's missing is Adobe.
Christina: Which you could do in the cloud for the cloud based stuff. I'm not arguing that Linux isn't worthy. What I'm arguing is anybody normal...
Leo: She should buy a Chromebook. And by the way, she would be using Linux if she did.
Christina: Of course, but in terms of Linux on the desktop we don't mean chrome books.
Leo: Somebody like your Mom should buy a Chromebook. What does Mom do that she would need a desktop operating system?
Iain: My mum plays bridge with complete strangers online, which... she's also spent two years learning how to use Windows 7 with frequent...
Leo: Do you know how many calls I get on the radio show? I got a call today. Woman says I'm savvy, I'm suspicious, but there was a popup that says call this number, you've got a problem with your computer. She got a guy in India who took control of her computer and changed the password. This happens all the time, but it doesn't happen on a Chromebook. I think it's irresponsible to tell people to buy Windows.
Iain: It'll do pretty much everything you need within reason.
Harry: It's hard to screw up.
Iain: Without good internet connection, it's of limited use.
Leo: But who doesn't have good internet connection nowadays? What are they using their computer for?
Iain: You used to be able to use a computer without an Internet connection.
Leo: It's a calculator! What are you using a computer for that if you don't have Internet?
Iain: I could cheerfully play Civilization for 12 hours straight.
Leo: Comes back to gaming.
Christina: Or sometimes you're in a situation where you're out and trying to work on a document and you don't have Internet connection, and you have to deal with the offline stuff and how is that going to sync.
Leo: When is the last time you did...
Christina: last time I was trying to use a Chromebook. I was trying to use it in the field, and make it work once I connected, but I had to use a hotspot. For me, as a work machine I could never use it. There are instances where I might be in a cab and I'm working on a story and I might need to work on it. I can't trust that it's going to store the stuff I need and update it. For most people, these are edge cases. I'm not saying for most people, these wouldn't be fine.
Leo: If all you're doing is hanging out on Facebook and reading your email...
Christina: Of course.
Leo: I think you're brave to be using an iPad Pro as your primary computer. How is that working out?
Harry: Just fine. I've been using various iPads for five years.
Leo: And everything you want to do, you can do.
Harry: 95%. Sometimes it's just different, you don't do things the same way you would on a Mac or a PC. You have to rethink it.
Leo: Here's my take on this Apple briefing. If you'll look at the ads Apple is running right now, it's all about using an iPad Pro instead of a PC. I really think this is a holding-- it's like anything you do on a computer you can do on an iPad. I think this is a holding action on Apple. They plan in two years to start phasing Mac OS out. They want to move everybody to iOS.
Harry: I don't know about that, but it does seem pretty likely that when the iPad first came out they thought there would be a more rapid move to new wave computing devices...
Leo: you know, there's a great article. Neil Seidbarg of Avalon says if you take out the iPad mini sales, which have plummeted, I bet sales are not bad. Unit sales are better than Mac sales. It's not bad. That red is the Mac Mini. It's not as depressed as it looks. I think you're going to see a big bump. They just announced a $329 iPad. A lot of people... When I say Chromebook, iPad would also be a good choice for those people. At $329, the next quarter, you're going to see iPad sales resurge. There are a lot of iPads, what they didn't anticipate was that an iPad would be good for 4/5 years.
Christina: That's it right there. Exactly. That's what they didn't anticipate. I look back at something I wrote a couple years ago on the fifth anniversary of the iPad and whether we were all wrong or not, because at that point two years ago, we hadn't seen the resurgence of the iPad Pro. The iPad is like seven years old this week. I think you're right. You have these couple of years of tremendous growth and Apple and everybody else anticipated this is going to be the new iPhone, and what happened was everybody had an iPad and realized I don't need it for four years or so. I'm going to buy my Mom the new one, the $329 iPad for her birthday. So if Mom is watching, in August you'll be getting a new iPad. But this will be the third iPad I bought her. I bought her the iPad 3G, and i got her the iPad 4 with LTE. That was 2012, so this will be the first time in five years, and she uses her iPad more than she uses her MacBook. But the reason I have it--
Leo: All of Apple's revenue comes from the iPhone. We acknowledge that. I think that they really do want to replace Mac OS with iOS. As soon as iOS is capable as a PC or Mac OS. That's why they're not doing touch on the Mac. We got a memo form Imagination, the company that made the GPUs for the iPhone. It's like Arm, right? They're a chip company.
Iain: All they've got now is... it seems to becoming an intellectual property harvesting group.
Leo: Imagination put out a note, because they had to let the stockholders know. They're a publicly traded company. The stock went down 60%. Apple has told them in a couple years, they're not going to be using their designs any more. Imagination said that we don't think they can do that. There's no way they could clean room a GPU that could plug in replacement what we're giving them. In any event... of course they can. They've been hiring GPU and chip designers for years.
Iain: Plus they're willing to fight this out in a court. Apple lawyers sit in a darkened room somewhere in Cupertino sharpening their teeth with the bones of their enemies.
Leo: But more to the point, this is the kind of thing a company does, A, when it wants to own everything. It's going to buy Toshiba's brand of production. It wants to own all the hardware as Samsung does by the way, which is why Samsung is the biggest threat to Apple. Not only do they want to own all the hardware manufacturer, this is a step towards making the iPad and iPhone as powerful as a PC.
Leo: I fully think that Apple will end this now, this meeting that Apple gave this week is merely a holding action. What was missing, and I know that Matthew and Ena and everybody else knows this, is the admission that Apple is ultimately a computing... they denied it, they said we love the Mac. Just like Apple 2 forever. Right after the Mac came out.
Iain: In a larger perspective that is going to hurt them a bit.
Leo: Higher price.
Iain: They make crazy bank on the MacBook pros.
Leo: They made it too good. People don't need new ones as fast.
Harry: My bet is the Mac will be out around a lot longer than you expect, Leo. It's going to be a long time before people do desktop publishing. A lot of people doing video editing and pushing things the same way they have.
Leo: I don't deny there's a market, the question is if that market is big enough for Apple to bother with.
Christina: How do you build an iPad house, honestly. Until you have X code running on IOS, which we're a ways away from.
Leo: Are we?
Christina: I think we are. I think they could technically do it. We haven't seen a Moogle first ID from anyone. We have not seen this from Google or Microsoft either. So, until we can really see...
Leo: So if Apple announces X code for the iPad in June at WWC, will you then say that's it?
Christina: I'm not going to say that's it. I think it's more nuanced than that. I think it's got a longer life than that. But is that more on the term? Sure. A, it's a high merchant product. Even though the average consumer would love to move a lot of people to the iPad, there are people, and it's not insignificant, the fact that they still sell five million macs a quarter. There are high margins that rely on Mac OS, and I don't foresee them being able to... it's a ways off before they can replace that.
Iain: In the meantime, Google is merging Android apps into the... it doesn't work particularly well at the moment...
Christina: No, it doesn't. But again, Google doesn't have an IDE on Chrome OS. So you're not wrong, but for both of these, until you get to the point where you can develop your applications on these alternative operating systems, the desktop is not going to go away.
Leo: In fact, they pointed to that at that meeting, they said the largest group of pro users are developers using Xcode. Xcode downloads are growing fast. I hope you're right, because I love Mac OS. I'd like to keep using Mac OS. I'm very happy with Linux, it is the year of Linux on a desktop.
Iain: Every year.
Christina: 20 years, Leo.
Leo: I'm amazed.
Harry: My primary complaint about the iPad Pro is that the keycaps wear off.
Leo: Give me your keyboard. I got to show people.
Harry: It's kind of embarrassing.
Leo: It's not embarrassing. This is how much he types. The E is rubbed off. I don't even know what these letters are.
Harry: They start to wear off in a few weeks. I'm amazed this is still true a year and a half after this thing first shipped.
Leo: The A and S and E are worn off. I typically think the T is the second most used character. You just aren't using definite articles as much as you ought to. Wow. That is wild. Harry McCracken is here. He's from fast Company. I'm still calling him the Technologizer. He's @harrymccracken on Twitter. And on Mastadon.
Harry: On Mastadon I'm Harry McCracken. I should get Technologizer.
Leo: I think you should. You still can. That's the beauty of Mastadon. No name is safe. Christina Warren is here. @film_girl from Gizmodo. Great to have you, and Iain Thomson from theregister.co.uk. He still visits us in Petaluma, even though they can't get cream in a can.
Iain: I know the British food show has shut down.
Leo: Sad. Your PG tips must come from elsewhere now. Lately, Yorkshire Gold is my new...
Iain: I was born in Yorkshire, so I should prefer Yorkshire Gold, but I've been with PG for too long. It's the tea equivalent of a beer.
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Iain: We've been blacklisted by Apple for ten years, so... admittedly.
Leo: What does the Register do? Headlines like what?
Iain: Dead Steve Jobs is still a crook judge rules?
Leo: I want to wangle an invitation. It'll be later this year that they'll open up the new campus. People are moving in already this month.
Harry: There are rumors they might invite journalists in April, although that seems unlikely.
Iain: Have they actually finished that? That's where they're going to be all their events from now is that custom built....
Leo: Beautiful theatre. Most of it is underground, so if the journalists do anything wrong... They have the world's largest dome, carbon fiber lid on that. It's beautiful.
Iain: You know companies are in trouble when they start spending that much money on their headquarters.
Leo: Always. It's like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It's inevitably a sign that the company has peaked when they build the massive headquarters. Although, Apple Facebook and Google are all doing massive new headquarters. UBS, which is a bank company, investment company. They have analysts. They have released a research note, saying Apple has more than a thousand engineers working on augmented reality and it is real. And Robert Scoble might be right. It doesn't say that in the note. It may appear on the new tenth anniversary iPhone. Remember they hired Prime Sense, which made the Connect Sensor Matteo, which lets you look at products in overlay colors and finishes. Real Face, which is Face Recognition, another Israeli company. Apple, in the dark behind the scenes, may be working hard on AR, but you got to think companies like Google and Microsoft, which have been doing this for a long time also are working on it. Will Apple beat them to the punch?
Christina: Do they have to?
Leo: No. That's a good question. Do they have to? Hololens is delayed. It's a development kit now, but it won't be out till 2019, Microsoft says.
Christina: Right. Oculus has mostly been gaming. It hasn't been the success. If we're honest, Apple has never been the first in the market, it's just that they're the best. I guess my question for you guys, does it matter? Do they need to beat them?
Iain: One of the things that really encouraged me about this article is that they're going for AR, rather than VR.
Iain: I think VR is a really big dead end. Most of the money, most of the software is going to be focused on AR. AR is a few key locations until they work out the movement and deal. With AR, you can get useful stuff going. You've got a great selection, you can personalize it. It's going to be tricky, but I think Apple is playing catch up on this. They're willing to throw large amounts of money. They're not the first to do stuff, but they're the best at doing it.
Leo: Are they still?
Iain: This is the problem. They used to be. Given the last couple of years, I have my doubts, but at the same time. Microsoft is doing well with Hololens but isn't selling particularly well. It's expensive.
Leo: It's a 3500 dollar developer kit.
Harry: Microsoft has been doing it in public. Apple has been speaking up until the time they talked about their Mac Pro for two years from now. They usually don't do stuff in public, they do it behind the scenes. You've really seen this developer kit, they've been more likely to put off talking about anything until they had something spectacular, which Microsoft doesn't do. Microsoft does something that doesn't transcend, but is interesting. I would also be cautious about thinking Apple having a thousand people means that much.
Leo: They probably had a thousand people on their Titan project.
Harry: Exactly. A year ago we thought they were planning on doing something incredible with cars because they had hired vast numbers of people, and now the conventional thinking is they're not planning on doing anything with cars in the short term.
Leo: Apple used to be knocked for not doing R and D for having too small a fraction of their budget devoted to R and D. Clearly they need to find the next thing. The iPhone is hard to think what you would do to make a better phone period. They've been scooped a little bit. Samsung, Galaxy S8, and the LG S6 are bezzleless. I think Apple will do Bezzle less. All future phones will be Bezzle less. Why didn't they do that before? Do they not make screens big enough.
Iain: It takes a certain amount of investment into the screen technology themselves. People were slightly concerned there was a cost factor as well.
Leo: I ordered an S8, which is a 5.7 inch screen, and it's roughly the same size as the iPhone 7Plus, which is a 5.5 inch screen.
Hilary: It's smaller. It's taller and thinner.
Leo: LG and Samsung are both doing a 2 by 1. I think people will get used to it quickly. Right now it's striking, you're getting a very tall display.
Leo: The desire is some people say the 7 plus is too wide to use for one handed operation.
Harry: Both of the Galaxies fit really well.
Leo: Have you played with them? Did you go to New York?
Harry: I didn't go to New York, but I wrote about them, and got a little hands-on with both of them.
Leo: I'm excited. I ordered one, I won't get it until a week from Friday. But I'm excited. I think this might be a very nice...
Iain: I feel in the minority on this one. One handed use is cute, but I like...
Leo: I don't mind two handed.
Iain: I was having a problem with the wife because she got her iPhone six S and she has tiny little hands anyway so it makes sense.
Leo: Women and smaller people, it probably is an important thing. I don't know.
Iain: It also depends on your hand size, and for the record, massive.
Leo: I like big phones. I cannot lie. It's the computer I use more than any other computer, so anyway. You only had a little time with it?
Harry: I went to Samsung's briefing.
Leo: Nice. Face Recognition, which we now know you can fool with a picture.
Harry: the other cool thing is Bixby. They had this very ambitious assistant that is not just your voice control.
Leo: No one has tried it yet because it won't be available until they ship the phone.
Harry: It's super ambitious...
Iain: What did they say about it? We've had details about this thing. It is meant to be the second coming of phone Christ, but...
Leo: It's interesting it has a dedicated hardware button. This is Samsung saying this is not the voice assistant you want. Press the button, and Bixby will appear. Although somebody has already shown how you can remap that button.
Harry: It's yet another example of basing your device on somebody else's operating system, that Google will do anything in its power to get you to use the assistant at the same time Samsung is saying use Bixby instead.
Leo: You can't really take the Google stuff out of Android. Nobody wants that phone, so what Samsung does and everybody else does, is they duplicate. They have the same... which I hate. On the other hand, my daughter used iPhones her whole life, she broke it, so I gave her an old Android device, the Galaxy S7, and she broke that, so now she has an iPhone SE, and she misses Android. It surprised me.
Christina: She didn't miss the blue bubbles? Because when I talk to people, it's the iMessage thing. I'll own this, I'm a terrible classist when it comes to this, but when I'm texting someone and it goes from blue to green, I'm like... one of my good friends, Sarah is a green bubble person, and every time, I'm like, your husband is a doctor. What are you doing?
Leo: I do have to say, messages, the only thing missing from Messages is cross platform. You can use Messages on the desktop, that's key for me. You can do all these stickers and animated gifs and the fireworks and all that stuff, and I would love to see this in a cross platform. If there were an Android version of messages, done. It's interesting, Apple is never going to do that, and Google seems to not understand what messaging is at all. It can't come up with anything.
Christina: They can come up with things, Leo, they just have six different apps for it. That's all.
Leo: They're pushing this new rich communications services, RCS over MMS and SMS. They're hoping the carriers will adopt it. Overseas some have.
Iain: At a time when everyone with half a brain is moving to Signal. They've mucked around with messaging the last two years, it's been driving users insane. Nobody likes the system they have set up, and now we're all getting smart to the fact that...
Leo: In a way, Google has opened the door to that, because Android will let you use Signal as your SMS app. So we won't send an encrypted SMS, but you still only have to use one app. You can put it in your doc and use it all the time. I'm a Google Fi, which means all my messages come from Hangouts, which means i have to use Hangouts. Seems to be... they're moving it to the business side. So it's designed for G suite users.
Christina: Isn't that deprecating it for the consumer, ultimately?
Iain: Messaging is one of the most important apps...
Leo: Google assist won't do SMS and it should! Aloe, if it did SMS, they'd be done. I don't understand what's wrong with them. One thing Google is doing right, and I'm very impressed with, is YouTube. YouTube just topped one billion hours of video a day. That means it's well on its way to beating television viewing. Now, look here's the graph from the Wall Street Journal. TV is flat, the red line goes up. The thing is, millennials, people under 25 don't watch TV. I look at my son, it's all YouTube. So Google released this week YouTube TV. You can use it, Christina, you're in New York.
Christina: I did a one month trial.
Leo: I may end up keeping it for a couple of reasons. It is limited. These are the live channels in san Francisco. I have Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, and CW. You've got a lot of sports, ESPN 1 and 2. Here in the bay area fox sports 1 and 2. NBC, sports bay area, that's where you'll see the Giants baseball. Sports California. There's a lot of sports. They have two of the news, they have Fox and NBC. They don't have CNN. That's a Viacom issue.
Christina: They don't have Viacom or time warner, and it's a huge problem.
Leo: It is a problem! They have Bravo. They have A and E.
Christina: They have NBC, Fox, Disney, and ANC is coming. Viacom is paying all these deals. They pulled out of being part of... Hulu partner? Right now they are, but it's not clear if they are going to be part of Hulu Live. Originally they announced that they were going to be, and now it's not clear.
Leo: They're just conflicted. They don't know what the hell...
Christina: Viacom is not happy with any of these bundles. The Turner thing is interesting because they're in the process of getting AT&T acquiring Time Warner.
Leo: If they go to AT&T it'll be on DirectTV now.
Christina: It is on DirecTV now. It's on Sling. It's not on Google. YouTube TV is the one service that doesn't have any of the Turner properties, which is a problem, because TnT, CBS, and Cartoon Network are all popular cable networks.
Leo: For us old folks, we like Turner Classic Movies.
Christina: Us younger folks like it too.
Leo: I was wondering, Christina. Thank you for being here. You explained this. Nevertheless, I am so impressed with YouTube TV. It has unlimited DVR: best user interface of any of these, including your cable company. If you look at the live TV grid and you hover your mouse over, you can see what is playing in real time. If you want to DVR something, it's one tap, and it records all of them. Unlimited DVR storage, they never run out.
Harry: They do wipe out individual recording after nine months.
Christina: Nine months is decent. There's six user profiles you can have in your family, and up to three concurrent streams at once. Three streams at once is good. Playstation view will let you do five, but they will limit what types of devices you can use. DirecTV lets you do two, Sling lets you do two, it depends. Hulu hasn't been clear what their live product will be. Three at once for most families is fine. Then six profiles is really good. You're right, Harry, only nine months on the DVR, but for most shows that's fine. I think the way their DVR is set up right now it will record all of your... if you have a show that you have to record Bob's Burgers, it will record not just when Bob's Burgers is airing on Fox, but also if it were airing in syndication on your local channels.
Leo: I've seen some 720 P. Playback speed is 480 P. It's not clear what the maximum... have you seen 1080 p? I don't think so.
Christina: I've seen 1080 a couple places. For some live stuff I have. I will say this though. When it comes to playback, that's been my big issue when I viewed any of their services has been the ring. When you're trying to watch things live. Swing TV is notorious for this. Swing TV has a great product, even though 2.5 years after it came out, if I'm trying to watch the Walking Dead on a Sunday or whatever, there's mad buffering and it's not great quality.
Leo: I'm looking at National Geographic's Nature. That should be 720 It's 480. It's probably fine on an iPad or a phone. The reason I might consider keeping this is more for the Mobile, because I had TV at home.
Christina: Right now it's not great on TV.
Leo: I wouldn't want to watch this quality on a big screen TV.
Harry: They don't have any smart TV deals yet.
Leo: It's on iOS and Android, but you're saying the YouTube app on my Roku is not going to have the YouTube TV.
Christina: Airplay doesn't work. Chrome cast works fine, but only Chrome cast. I have a TV that has the cast protocol built in, but it's not chromecast built in. You need to have the Chromecast enabled TV, or a physical Chromecast. I assume because of the DRM. I haven't been able to get clarification from YouTube on that. I reached out. I have a TV with the cast protocol, it'll work with any of my other cast compatible apps. It doesn't work with YouTube TV. That's a huge problem, because right now the only way you can watch from the big screen is to connect a computer to your TV physically or to have a Chrome cast. That puts them at a disadvantage because the competitors sling view direct TV now all have apps at least on Roku, at least full support airplay. To me...
Leo: This could change. This has just been launched and it's only in five cities, so it's not even available for most people watching. You've got to be in the US in those five cities.
Christina: That's more me saying.
Leo: You should know.
Christina: You should know, if you're trying to sign up for it right now, it is still in the early stages. Also, if you're trying to sign up for it right now, AMC, all those channels, will be coming. They're not there yet. So if you really care about watching stuff on AMC, IFC, Sundance, whatever, you should wait until they launch, this will be soon.
Leo: As long as we're talking about negatives, this doesn't include YouTube Red. Although you will see YouTube content mixed in with your standard TV content.
Christina: Which is the right thing to do.
Leo: This is for millennials who never had a cable subscription.
Harry: This is what YouTube is saying. This is for people who love Youtube and want a little more at a relatively low price--$35 a month.
Leo: With all those caveats and negatives, I'm very impressed. For millennials, this is a big play, and if I were a cable company, I wouldn't have been worried about DirecTV Now, or Playstation, but I would worry about this.
Harry: The other thing they did nicely is search is incredibly rudimentary. It's not perfect, you can go in and search for a show, an episode name, a person, a concept. Like "superheroes," you'll get superhero shows.
Leo: Can I just say Marvel versus DC? There's Marvel. There's only one, no there we go.
Harry: It's not perfect, but it's way ahead of anybody else.
Leo: This is where the other over the top solutions are falling down. This is a clean interface, it's easy to use, and it's going to appeal to younger people watching YouTube all the time.
Iain: They've been carrying YouTube for so long, it's been a cash suck out of the company, but in the last year, 18 months, they seem to have worked out. WE can make some serious bank on this, and get the next generation of people who grew up watching stuff on the computer rather than on the TV.
Leo: I'm pretty excited about this.
Christina: It's a good product. Harry, did you get to see the Hulu Live preview?
Harry: No, that's the one that I don't have any hands on experience with.
Christina: Ok. I got to see the stage. It was a demo but I got to see a stage demo at CES. And I have to say, that is probably of all of them, the most impressive one if they can bring it to market the way that I saw it. I think the Hulu model is the best one I've seen.
Leo: Tell us about that model. What is the model?
Christina: So, it's very similar to what you see with YouTube TV. The difference is it's kind of this perfect combination between on demand programming of Hulu. So, you know, the big advantage of Hulu I think is that they have this huge catalog of show, both originals and older content. And it's the merger of that and live TV. And so the one thing that I would say—
Leo: That is a huge advantage.
Christina: And so the one thing I would say that YouTube TV doesn't have as much- -and I think that YouTube TV is a great start. The one thing I would say is that you have some of the legacy content that might be available, depending on licensing deals, if you like FOX of NBC or whatever where you can watch older shows, but you don't have this whole catalog of other shows and stuff that Hulu has. And I think that for a lot of millennials and for a lot of TV viewers, it's when you kind of want a holistic television experience, you are intrigued by having the live stuff, especially with sports. But a lot of stuff comes down to original content or just the fact that I want to binge watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I want to watch those other things. So, I think that if Hulu can bring to market what I was shown at CES, that's to me is the most compelling I've seen. But I think that of the ones that are on the market right now, I think that YouTube TV is a really, really, good first effort.
Leo: When is Hulu TV coming?
Christina: They say later this year. I don't have any insight in the situation on this. My gut tells me that we should expect some sort of announcement in May at the new fronts. But who know? I mean, all they told me when I spoke to them in January was later this year and I tried to push. I tried to say, "Well, does that mean September? Does that mean earlier?" And they made it seem like it would be earlier than fall. But I don't know. You know, the fact that Comcast is doing the Xfinity mobile service, Verizon is rumored to be doing their online only service, now you have YouTube TV, you have all these others, it would obviously behoove them to move sooner rather than later. But, who knows?
Leo: Yea, and you know, you could probably get away with a few more months. I mean, I think this is going to shake. This hasn't shaken out yet. It's weird though. We are moving very quickly now toward an over the top internet IPTV only world. And I think that we can't move fast enough. I mean, really, what's stymied it --and frankly, the one thing I worry about with Hulu TV, Hulu's been so troubled for so long because the founders and its partners couldn't agree on what it should be. Is it ad free service? Does it have ads? Subscription? What is it? Shows are going to be? And interestingly enough, Hulu TV doesn't have any Viacom shows either. So, it's like these guys are just shooting themselves in the foot constantly. Very interesting. You mentioned Comcast is getting into the phone business. I think that's interesting. Cell phone business.
Iain: Absolutely hilarity in the office. Even Comcast, lousy representation of customer service—oh, let's take on mobile phones, now.
Leo: Wait a minute. The only companies that people hate worse than Comcast are Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, right?
Iain: I don't know. Comcast is certainly for our readership. Comcast—there's a special place in hell for them.
Leo: It's an evil empire. So, the deal is going to be that you're going to have—it's going to be called Xfinity Mobile. They're going to get cellular connectivity through Verizon. So, they're a Verizon MVNO. But, it's really interesting. And I knew this was happening as soon as Comcast announced, "Oh, by the way, anybody who gets our Xfinity Wi-Fi router will be just helping the neighborhood out a little bit by offering a free online hotspot." And if you go downtown in Petaluma, let alone San Francisco or New York, you'll see Xfinity hotspots everywhere.
Iain: Yea, everyone is sucking everyone else's data and Comcast doesn't have to pay for it. There's an evil genius in there.
Leo: In fact, Xfinity Mobile is going to use that whenever possible. It was clear they were going to build a mobile service around it, I thought. I thought, "Well, that's clearly what they're up to."
Leo: I worry because the reliability on the Xfinity Mobile is not great, right? Because sometimes it will join an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot and get no connectivity for some reason. In fact, I ended up telling my phone, "Whatever you do, do not join Xfinity hotspots." So, they have, they claim 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots.
Iain: Yea, Comcast claims they're a customer service company as well.
Leo: Xfinity Mobile will launch mid-year, available only if you have a Comcast internet or television. But you could have—so, this is an interesting play. I could have Comcast internet, YouTube TV or Hulu TV, and Comcast Mobile phone service and then everything would suck.
Christina: (Laughing) Yea.
Leo: It's a new trifecta.
Iain: Wait until the net neutrality rules get trashed and then you're going to see quite how much they're going to leverage this in terms of bandwidth.
Leo: How so?
Christina: So, you mean next week.
Leo: Ajit Pai has already said, "We're trashing those." Just as they trashed the ISP privacy rules. Oh, I bet I can get you started.
Iain: I think you probably can. I could rant and rage about this.
Leo: So, why would net neutrality rules being abandoned, why would that help Xfinity in this? What will Xfinity do immediately after that?
Iain: Well, because that way they could bring down the amount they can prioritize their own traffic. They can downgrade everyone else's traffic.
Leo: So, if you're an Xfinity Mobile customer, you'll get unlimited Xfinity stuff.
Iain: Well, you'll get—well, no, this is Comcast we're talking about. You'll get a slightly better service than the competition. And even then, with grudging technical support.
Leo: Well, actually AT&T's already taken advantage of that. If you use DirecTV Now, you don't have to pay. There's no data cost for that.
Christina: They have zero rating.
Leo: Yea, they're zero rated.
Iain: Remember how they went after Roku when they tried this the last time? How they've gone after other 3rd party providers. And yea, I mean, you're right, Christina. Once those rules go out the window this week, then basically a lot of Americans are going to discover, oh, things weren't so bad after all.
Leo: I don't think this is a very compelling service. Besides the problem with Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots being unreliable, they're going to charge $65-dollars a line.
Iain: I know.
Christina: Which is cheaper than what you pay for some of the—I mean, it's not cheaper than T-Mobile but it's cheaper than say, Verizon.
Leo: Yea, Verizon's like $80-dollars.
Christina: Right, which if you're getting Verizon cell phone service when you're not on a network is, I think that's acceptable.
Leo: That might be a good reason. If you like Verizon a lot, this might be a cheaper way to get Verizon quality data.
Iain: I haven't met that many people that like Verizon a lot. And with T-Mobile—
Leo: Their connectivity's good.
Christina: Yea, they have great service. It's just very expensive.
Iain: You've got Project Fi, you've got T-Mobile. For the vast majority of Americans, there are much cheaper options out there. And I think the only place this is going to get any play, is in the very last numbers—
Leo: There's some people who are very price sensitive, they're performance sensitive. So, they want—
Christina: Right, for parts of the country.
Leo: I mean a lot of people are willing to pay $20-bucks more a month for very good data connectivity. I would.
Christina: And I would just say too, I mean, I obviously live in New York and I spend a lot of time on the coast, so I'm in a unique position where most—
Leo: And Verizon is a New York company.
Christina: Yes. But also, I can get good service from AT&T or from T-Mobile. And I suppose I could even get good service from Sprint, although I wouldn't want to risk it. But, there are parts of the country where I've been, where genuinely, you don't get good connectivity from the other places, where Verizon is just kind of—especially in more rural areas, it is there. So, you know, for some places—
Leo: Everybody's bad in the rural areas. Nobody's really good in rural areas.
Christina: Yea, I would agree with that. But, I would say that that's where at least still, at least my experience there is better support from AT&T and Verizon, those two tend to still be best.
Iain: But why carry on paying over the money for a service that you might use once or twice a year when you can just buy a pay-as-you-go SIM, take that phone with you and transfer your calls through it and carry on paying the lower rate 10 months of the year. This seems to me what AT&T and Verizon are banking on.
Christina: I mean, I guess I'm not seeing—I'm saying that I wouldn't be the target for this. It would be more if you live in one of those areas and Comcast happens to be your ISP. Comcast happens to be your ISP, you happen to live in this area and now you're going to get better—like, Cricket is going to be terrible but you can get, you can pay and get your better phone service. I don't know.
Leo: The funny thing is Comcast says they will not zero rate their own stuff (laughing).
Christina: Oh, yea, because they want to charge you through the nose. Comcast is very famous for having the gigabit limits and how much data you can use. So, yea, they're like, "No, no, no. HBO will count towards everything."
Harry: Seems like this is a good way for Comcast, when they're signing up new people, to try to sign them up, not just for a Triple Play but a Quadruple Play.
Leo: It's a Quadruple Play.
Christina: Yep. That's exactly right.
Leo: That's the only really flight here.
Harry: Yea. Which now makes sense. I mean, they could have attempted to do something to raise more eyebrows and get more people to consider switching if they have just one more thing, checklist item when they're signing you up.
Leo: Spring has an Unlimited Data pricing of $50-dollars a month for a line. So, that's cheaper. T-Mobile's unlimited plan is $70-dollars a month. So that's a little bit more. Verizon and AT&T, I didn't know this, is $90-dollars, but that includes HBO (laughing). What?
Iain: This is why you need proper competition in the telecom market.
Leo: We have four companies. Why is that not competition?
Iain: Oh, a whole four companies.
Leo: That's competition. It should be enough competition.
Iain: If you were to go to London and get a mobile provider, you've got a choice between seven or eight different companies, and they're all driving the price down.
Harry: They'll probably go to London before too long.
Christina: And I hate to tell you this, but this is competition. Because before, 6 weeks ago, we didn't have any unlimited services (laughing).
Leo: Right, because T-Mobile threw down the gauntlet, every other company said, "All right. I guess we've got to do this. This is what people want." For years they said, "This isn't what people want." And then Ralph what's his name—you don't want unlimited. Why would you want that?
Iain: Well, yea, but I mean Comcast used to do the same thing. "Well, people are happy with the inside speeds they've got. They don't really want fiber." And the minute Google Fi starts rolling out, well, at least maybe some people do in limited areas, coincidentally the ones that Google's going into, but you know. And it's just shameless.
Leo: I wonder what's going to happen. Fr. Robert's in the chatroom and he always—there's the favorite T-Mobile plan for geeks. But only geeks know about it because it's on the pay-as-you-go page on the very bottom, in really tiny print, but $30-dollars a month for unlimited data but you only get 100 minutes of phone. But we don't want to talk to anybody anyway. So, that is a good deal. And it's part of the binge on plan. I mean, so if you're really data conscience, there are choices out there.
Harry: T-Mobile didn't exist. Or if John Legere was not the CEO, we'd be way worse off than we are. Almost all the innovation has either come from T-Mobile or been in response to T-Mobile.
Harry: And Sprint is just trying to be more T-Mobile than T-Mobile.
Christina: Well, Sprint just now rather than buying T-Mobile just wants T-Mobile to buy them. Like that's the funny thing. Like a year ago SoftBank was trying to buy T-Mobile and now a year later, they're like, "Please buy us. Please buy us."
Harry: And I really am worried about that because AT&T and Verizon are on their toes.
Iain: We need the competition. We need—
Harry: If we end up with a T-Mobile Sprint, I can't imagine that is good for competition.
Iain: No. No, I mean this is—T-Mobile really shook the game up in a way that it needed to be done because they were blocked from their last takeover and they're like, "All right. We've got two choices. We can either just hang around and try to get acquired or acquire someone else, or we can really kick some bottom in this market." And that's exactly what they did. And John Legere is the perfect person to do it because he's crazy as—well, I can't say exactly how crazy he is.
Leo: A bed bug is how we say it in the States. I don't know how you say it in—
Iain: Yea, yea. It's slightly worse. We're slightly less broadcastable (laughing).
Leo: Let's talk about Pepsi and Kendall Jenner when we come back. But first, first a word from your sponsor. I want to give a plug, because we have been nominated, one of our shows has been nominated for a Webby Award. I think this is the first time the Webbies have done podcasts. We are nominated in the People's Choice section for a Triangulation episode in which I interviewed Snowden's lawyer, and Karsten Bondy's roommate. So, Karsten, if we get the award, you're going to have to come up on stage with me and explain how we got that interview. Anyway, we'd appreciate your vote. If you got to twit.to/webbies2017 you can cast your vote. You do have to log in. I think that's how they're trying to reduce the multiple vote situation but you can do it with Facebook and Twitter as well as your own email address. Or a spoof email address if you want to do that. We had a great week this week. A lot of fun and I think we've made a little movie for you to watch that's synopsizes some of the hilarity that ensued. Watch.
Narrator: Previously, on TWiT.
Male Computer Voice: When using the word awkward in a sentence, the enhanced male and female Siri voices say the word normally. When using the word by itself, though, it's well. Awkward.
Narrator: This Week in Google.
Mike Elgan: YouTube TV was announced about a month ago and it has launched today in 5 American cities.
Leo: You know, when Steve Jobs said, "I've licked TV," this is what I would have imagined Apple would have done.
Mike: This is what he would have licked. I think one of the things it's going to do is finally turn phones into a legitimate and wide-spread medium for live TV.
Narrator: MacBreak Weekly.
Leo: Apple has updated the Mac Pro (laughing). They had a journalist come to Cupertino and had a round table where they explained why this is the best they can do right now.
Alex Lindsay: I think that they were going in one direction and realized that that one direction might have been wrong.
Leo: So, you're saying if you started today, it would take you to next year to come up with a redesigned Mac Pro?
Leo: I call BS. I don't buy any of this. They're just trying to keep those people who were about to leave the fold in suspended animation for another year.
Narrator: TWiT. It's like Tech TV without the overpriced cable bill.
Leo: (Laughing). Megan Morrone has a look at the week ahead.
Megan Morrone: Here's a look at the week ahead. Windows 10 Creators Edition will begin to roll out to users this week on April 11th as a free update. Also, on April 11th, AMD will start shipping the Ryzen 5 desktop processors, which they will sell for less than $250-dollars. Benchmarks of the chips have already leaked online so if you are an eager gamer or creator, you can take a look right now. And April 12th is the World Space Party also known as Yuri's Night, named after Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space on April 12th, 1961. Then on April 14th, the new FAA airspace restrictions against drones go into effect, officially banning them from unauthorized operations over 133 military facilities. And in the United States this week on April 15th, it's Tax Day, which falls on a Saturday this year. As the deadline approaches, so do the scammers. Remember that the IRS will not email you asking you for your social security number. Rest assured, they already know it. Those are just some of the stories that Jason Howell and I will be following this week on Tech News Today.
Leo: Actually, I've got a great story about the IRS. Apparently, they had a system called FASFA, that was used by lots of people, millions of people to figure out what kind of financial aid they could get for college. The IRS knew that that had been compromised or was compromisable—oh, stop it. That was compromisable in October but they said, "Well, so many people use it. It's such a convenience. We're just going to keep it running for a while." What? They finally shut it down in February after they witnessed a pattern of fraudulent activity. What a shock. Actually, they shut it down in March. What a shock. And now they're emailing 100,000 people saying, "Yea." So, the deal was, you could go on this site, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it would retrieve your tax information for you. So, hackers just said, "Oh, good." And would just start putting in names and get their tax records. Now, get ready, because at least 100,000 people started the application, used the data retrieval tool and didn't finish it. And the IRS thinks, hmm, maybe those were hackers. So, they're alerting all of those people saying, "Eh, your data might have been compromised." And what should you do? Well, you might want to check to see if somebody else claimed your refund before you did. Oh, and I imagine the IRS will cut through that red tape real quick. Like, "Yea, no problem. We'll give you the refund."
Iain: The IRS has a record of being very, very poor.
Iain: Yea, but it's the logical place.
Leo: That's where the money is.
Iain: Yea, why you rob banks? Because that's where the money is. Same with the IRS.
Leo: It's ridiculous.
Iain: They've had this. They've had the PIN number scandal last year. I mean, they really are just playing in the dark here.
Leo: Well, the good news is President Trump is apparently going to reduce their budget. So, they'll get better.
Iain: No, no, they'll get bigly better.
Leo: Bigly. Wow. So, anyway, 15 million people use that system to figure out what financial aid they can get and even though they knew it could be abused, they kept it online for an extra 6 months to make sure hackers got the opportunity they needed. It's kind of the hacker scholarship fund is what that is. So, yea, be careful. This is when people take advantage of you.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by FreshBooks. When it comes tax time, if you signed up, if you heard our ads a year ago and signed up for FreshBooks, you're sitting pretty. If you haven't signed up yet, you may want to think about it for next year's tax time. What is FreshBooks? It's the online, ridiculously easy to use, online accounting software, used now by 10 million small business owners. I was one of their first customers back in 2004. I used it because I hated invoicing. If you're a freelancer, you have to send out invoices, it's the worst thing ever.
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Leo: That's the problem, right? So if you don't send an invoice, it turns out, I learned, you don't get paid. Well, if you use FreshBooks, A, it's easy to create the invoice, 30-seconds or less and it's a professional looking invoice. And this is the thing I like the most, on average, FreshBooks users get paid 11 days faster. You're going to get paid faster because when your client gets that invoice, there's a pay me button on it. You can let your clients pay online via credit card. There's no setup required. Your customer can pay straight from the invoice. It turns out, clients hate paperwork as much as you do. They put off paying the bills as much as you put off sending the bills. If they can pay faster they will. It's good for everyone. You can always see with FreshBooks Dashboard which invoices have been sent, which ones have been paid, even which ones have been viewed. So, no more excuses. "I didn't get your invoice." Yes, you did. Yes, you did. You can send auto payment reminders. You can set automatic late fees. FreshBooks lets you track billing for time and hours. It will automatically put it right in the invoice. You can easy set it up by specific project as well as by client. Track your time down to the minute on their app or on their website. You can manage team time sheets this way and it is so easy. The best part is this new dashboard. They just redesigned it. It tells you if you're making money or not, something a lot of small businesses—I didn't know. Am I making money? When you add in all the invoices plus what I got paid, what I didn't get paid, what my expenses were, did I make money this year? You'll know. And when it comes to tax time, all the reports your accountant needs, like sales tax summary and profit and loss are available. You don't have to be an accountant to use this. Really straight forward. It's kind of like behind the scenes accounting. It does it all for you. It integrates with many of the apps you probably use like Shopify and Stripe and Gusto, Acuity Scheduling, all the expensing with Concur and Exspensify. It's just sweet. Ensure a smooth tax season next year anyway. And, by the way, save on average, 192 hours a year with FreshBooks. You can try it free right now. FreshBooks.com/twit. Just put This Week in Tech in the How Did You Hear About Us section. This Week in Tech. FreshBooks.com/twit. And we thank them for their support.
Leo: I didn't know about Yuri's night. That's kind of cool to celebrate.
Iain: Yea, and we've got the March for Science on April 22nd.
Leo: What's that? The March for Science?
Iain: Scientists around the country are going to be marching to protect scientists' independence.
Leo: Let's protect science. I think that's a good thing.
Iain: Yea, you know, it's got us a fair way of viewing this now, thanks to it. So, you know.
Leo: I always make that point. People say, "Technology isn't science." It's applied science. If we didn't have science, we wouldn't have technology.
Iain: Exactly. I mean when the electron was discovered, it was totally useless. But it didn't take a while until we put it into electronics.
Leo: And it took a little bit longer for Pepsi to make the Kendall Jenner ad.
Christina: This is my favorite story of the week.
Leo: This is your favorite story of the week? Why don't you tell it then.
Christina: (Laughing) ok, where to even start. So, Pepsi thought that they had this great "woke" ad starring Kendall Jenner. It just backfired in the most spectacular way that an advertisement could ever backfire, I guess.
Leo: We can run through the ad a little bit.
Iain: It's painfully cringe worthy.
Christina: It's still cringe worthy. Be part of the conversation. Pepsi everywhere.
Leo: Yea, that's the protest. It's not—so Kendall Jenner, it starts off with a guy playing fiddle on the roof. I don't know why. He'll appear—
Christina: It's a cello.
Leo: It's a cello. He'll appear later in the thing. This is the protest which is the mildest, all white protest you've ever—oh, wait, wait. There's mixed race. And the signs say, "Join the Conversation" and peace sings. And that's because Pepsi didn't want to be controversial.
Christina: Right, because every protest says, "Join the Conversation."
Leo: Join the conversation. And there's Kendall, modeling a metal bikini shirt or something. I don't know what the hell, or dress. And then they have a woman in a hijab, she was drawing something.
Christina: She's a photographer. She's trying to find a perfect shot. And she suddenly then sees the protest outdoors, and says, "You know what? I'm going to take photos of the protest."
Leo: Ironically, so does the cellist who has been drinking Pepsi. Coincidence? I think not.
Christina: Coincidence? Everyone's drinking Pepsi.
Leo: Everybody is, including everybody. Including Kendall Jenner. So Kendall—oh, this photographer's very upset. She just can't get the right shot. Yea, yea.
Christina: Yep. And now she's moved. She's going to join the protest. Maybe I'm going to grab my camera and get this great shot.
Leo: Good. And she's taking pictures and there's the guy with the cello.
Christina: She's taking pictures.
Leo: Here's a drummer. We don't know why a drummer's there.
Christina: Note the Pepsi blue. Note the Pepsi blue on the cello case.
Leo: Ah. Here's some happy people dancing. See, all the people are getting together.
Leo: Joining the conversation. Kendall—
Christina: And all of a sudden, Kendall's made aware. Look. She hears noises.
Leo: Who is Kendall Jenner? Is she famous?
Christina: She's very famous.
Leo: She's famous for being famous, one of those, right?
Christina: Well, she's famous because her older sister is famous.
Harry: You start being related to the famous.
Leo: So, she takes off her blonde wig, see? Wipes off her lipstick.
Christina: Takes off the blonde wig and wipes off the lipstick.
Leo: And joins the conversation.
Iain: She smeared it on the side of her cheek.
Leo: Yea, they fixed that afterwards.
Christina: Now she goes, "I'm going to join the conversation and be part of this." And amazingly, now, I've been to a lot of protests. I don't know about you guys. I have never seen—
Leo: A washtub full of Pepsi and ice?
Christina: No, never.
Christina: And then all of a sudden, and here's the shot.
Leo: Here's the money shot. Kendall gives a police officer a Pepsi.
Christina: And all of a sudden, that's the shot.
Leo: I've got the shot.
Christina: That's it. He's smiling and everybody cheers. And you know what? We are now all united.
Iain: If you try that in a London protest, you'll be picking your teeth off of the pavement within seconds.
Christina: You try that in New York, you're going to get tazed.
Leo: So, look, first of all, there's not been a soda pop commercial ever that wasn't stupid and insipid, right?
Christina: Right. You're dead on. Absolutely.
Leo: So, this is nothing new.
Christina: Well, this is a different type of stupid and insipid.
Leo: How so?
Christina: This is trying—as I said, this is trying to be woke. What's amazing about this is the most of the time there's at least a little bit of self-awareness. It's a popstar, it's a model.
Leo: I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
Leo: I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. Now that's an example of using kind of hippies and Earth Day to sell soda pop.
Iain: What they were doing here was taking iconography from Ferguson, from a bunch of other protests.
Leo: See, I'm having a hard time being offended by this ad. It's stupid, as all ads are.
Harry: Defensibly stupid.
Christina: Well, it's offensive to say—ok, when police brutality is a very real thing and when protesters in the United States and around the world are actually facing off and are at risk.
Iain: And are getting killed.
Christina: And are getting killed, exactly. When people are getting tazed, when we have that iconic photograph last year of the woman in the dress who was being handcuffed for simply walking up to the cops. When you have that sort of iconic imagery, this is actually happening. And instead, you say, "Well the way we can bring us all together, is to hand someone a soda." To me, that's offensive on a different level. And it's not even offensive so much. It's tone deaf. And to think that this is something that would relate to a millennial audience, to relate to Kendall Jenner's demographic, people would be applauding this and instead it just comes across as just so tone deaf and so completely out of touch.
Leo: So, Pepsi pulled it right away. They got a lot of airplay.
Harry: At first, they said it was a serious statement and Kendall said she was proud to be part of this meaningful thing.
Christina: And there's backlash.
Harry: The low point was when they didn't figure out that the people thought it was stupid were right.
Iain: Oh, the classic tweet from Martin Luther King's daughter who tweets out a picture of the police holding him back going, "Damn. If only dad had had a Pepsi."
Christina: That was a low point. Also, a low point to me was when they did finally pull the ad. They apologized for the ad. But then they apologized to Kendall Jenner for "putting her in this position." Because, really, this is what this is about. It's not about, you know—
Leo: I have to say, so my take on this which I got a lot of heat for on Twitter, what a surprise, on Wednesday was, well, this is a stupid advertisement. If you started protesting every stupid advertisement, you'd never end. And, in fact, that this is a, in my opinion, this is a very predictable Twitter outrage protest, not a real protest, but just a bunch of people tweeting 140 characters of outrage. And why the media pays any attention to outrage on Twitter anymore is beyond me. And, well, maybe it's stupid and dumb, but tell me a soda ad that's not stupid and dumb. It's not overtly racist. It's not overtly—
Iain: I wouldn't say that. It's massively distasteful, but.
Leo: Is it massively distasteful?
Christina: Yes, it's massively distasteful, yes.
Iain: I mean if you been to protests and you've seen the kind of violence that goes on, on both sides of the equation there, the idea that getting a can of—
Leo: So, making light of a protest is the bad thing here?
Christina: Well, it's not even—to me, the offensive part isn't just that they're making light of the protest, it's that they're fundamentally misunderstanding what a protest is by trying to piggyback on a movement.
Leo: There was a—no, they didn't piggyback on a movement. The movement was Join the Conversation. They didn't say—now, if they had signs that said Black Lives Matter, I'd be upset.
Christina: But the whole point of this is, that the only reason we are talking about protesting, the only reason this is even in the lexicon is because of the resistance, because of Black Lives Matter, it's because of the protests that have been happening over the last few years. That's the reason that it's even relevant to this demographic that they're trying to go over. So, to me, they're absolutely taking iconography and they're taking current events. They're trying to piggyback on those thing and pretending to be woke, pretending to be aware of what's happening, and rather than actually making a statement about any source that is supporting of things, they are making the most innocuous and—
Leo: As every ad ever.
Harry: As they ultimately have to be.
Iain: Honestly, I wish more ads were called out on it. But this was a particularly egregious example.
Leo: I just feel like there's so much more to be worried about in this world than a stupid Pepsi ad.
Christina: Well, you're not wrong. Of course there's more to be worried about. But that doesn't mean that when we see this sort of thing and when it's being touted and being bragged about and everybody who's involved with it is spreading, "Oh, look at this wonderful message of hope and unity." Well, it's not a message about hope and unity. You got it wrong.
Leo: Nobody's saying, "Look at this wonderful." Pepsi's saying it, but nobody at home watching this thinks, "Oh, thank God, the world's a better place now. I can go home and stop worrying." Nobody's saying that. It's a dumb freaking ad. It doesn't make me feel any better about the world than it does a dog catching Fritos on his nose. It's just stupid like all ads are. I don't understand. Ok, I'm an ignorant, old, white man. I don't get the upset.
Iain: I think one of the problems was that they actually came in, they introduced this ad and they splurged it, major style on social media with this is an important statement. This is how we should mend the nation.
Leo: Ok, and I missed that.
Iain: And it backfired massively.
Leo: If you do that, then you do deserve all the Twitter outrage you can get.
Christina: That's exactly what—
Leo: That I understand. If they just ran it on TV and didn't try to do a social media.
Christina: Leo. Leo, why did they get Kendall Jenner to be part of this?
Leo: I have no idea.
Christina: Because they—
Leo: See, that doesn't move me either.
Christina: Ok, well, because it wouldn't move you but she has a huge following on social media. She's hugely relevant with this certain demographic and certain audience. The fact is they—this was a very calculated ad as Iain was saying, to go after a certain thing and to show us, "Oh, look at how evolved we are." Or, "Look at how enlightened we are." And then they got it wrong. And that's why everyone responded, after the big social media push, the response was "No."
Leo: All right. I didn't-- I missed that part where they were doing that. And that's reprehensible. I don't think that making it—now, here's Saturday Night Live's take on this. Do you have my audio?
Iain: Oh, I haven't seen this one yet.
Leo: Yea. Ok. It starts with some people with Pepsi. It starts, actually, with the filming of the Love March.
Male Actor 1: Ok, that's rehearsal. Let's be ready to roll in 5. How's it going, Mr. Director?
Male Actor 2: Good, good. I'm really excited.
Male Actor 1: Well, you should be. Writing and directing a commercial for Pepsi doesn't get much bigger than that.
Male Actor 2: Oh, hey, this is my sister. I've got to get this real quick. Carrie, hey. Sorry, I can't super talk right now. I'm on the set of this huge Pepsi commercial I'm doing. I know, right? It was like completely my idea and now they're doing it. It's great. Yea, I mean, so well, it's a homage to the resistance. There's this huge protest in the street, reminiscent of Black Lives Matter. And so, everybody's marching, right?
Leo: If there was a guy that says all this, I would be upset.
Male Actor 2: And it's going to go bad. And there's just like a stand-off. And then Kendall Jenner walks in and she walks up to one of the police officers and she hands him a Pepsi and then that Pepsi brings everybody together. Isn't that like the best ad ever?
Leo: His face is falling as his sister reads him the riot act. Apparently, that's your brother, Christina.
Christina: (Laughing) Yea.
Male Actor 2: Are you sure it's tone deaf?
Male Actor 1: All right, guys, 3 minutes away. 3 minutes.
Leo: "Are you sure it's tone deaf," he says.
Male Actor 2: You don't get it. Is Doug there? Can you put him on? Hey, I just wanted to run this Pepsi commercial by you that I'm doing, make sure that you're loving it as much as I am. The whole thing is sort of a homage to resistance, Black Lives Matter. So, everybody's marching and then Kendall Jenner comes up to a police officer and gives him a Pepsi and everybody celebrates. People of every single culture come together. Uh huh.
Leo: (Laughing). Even the brother-in law.
Male Actor 2: No, we're celebrating these cultures.
Leo: You've got some break dancers.
Male Actor 2: It's also celebrating Asian culture.
Iain: Yea, an Asian cellist.
Leo: There's the cellist. Because, as you know, all Asians are great musicians.
Iain: And mathematicians, of course.
Harry: I can't believe SNL put this together so quickly, too.
Leo: This is very well done. Yea, there's the girl in the hajib.
Male Actor 2: Could be bad?
Male Actor 1: All right, people, 60 seconds to we roll on this man's singular vision.
Male Actor 2: Hey, man, could you put a neighbor on the phone?
Leo: (Laughing) the poor guy, he's just trying to get some affirmation. I'm sure it goes on to more of the same.
Iain: The problem is that somebody actually did have that discussion.
Leo: I think now—ok, I've been woke. I've been woke. Saturday Night Live woke me and Christina Warren and all right. I get it.
Harry: Pepsi drank its own Kool-Aid so to speak.
Iain: Yea. Touché.
Christina: It's so funny because I genuinely think that his first explanation in that SNL sketch where they talk about this thing—
Leo: It's probably exactly the conversation.
Christina: That's exactly what happened in the meeting. And, unfortunately, there wasn't anybody who was able to on the outside of whatever agency they used to day, "Uh, you guys, maybe this isn't a great idea."
Leo: Or—ok, you want a conspiracy theory? Or, they said, "Wait until they see this on Twitter. Just imagine the talk, the conversation. Maybe Leo will even play the ad on TWiT."
Iain: No such thing as bad publicity, eh? Yea.
Christina: I would agree with that conspiracy theory again, if they hadn't had to apologize to Kendell Jenner, which is my favorite part because I love to imagine that Kristian or her mother, her "mom-ager," I love to imagine that Kristian read the riot act to the Pepsi executives who then had the fear of God put into them. And so, they were ok with the Twitter backlash. It was the Kardashian backlash. They were like, "Oh, no, we cannot take Kris Jenner coming after us."
Leo: Am I wrong, though? I really feel like—look, I'm not one of those people who say, "Oh, all this political correctness." I understand that that is code saying, I want to be able to be as racist and defensive as I want. And why are you saying that I'm offensive? So, I understand that. But, I don't—I think you can also go too far the other way, micro-aggressions and Twitter outrage. And sometimes I worry that—you know, before the show, I was celebrating Tom Leher's birthday, right? And he had a great song called The Vatican Rag, in which—it's funny. It's as if the Vatican Liturgy were set to ragtime music. It's not offensive. But immediately somebody said, "This is Palm Sunday. How dare you air that?" And I do feel like we live in a world where a lot of this stuff—and maybe, again, this is just me being an old guy.
Iain: No, honestly—
Leo: You're old too. You don't get to say.
Iain: Well, thanks very much, Leo. But no, I used a match for a story where I basically said Microsoft takes its service out behind the shed and shoots it. And I got outrage from some people saying how dare you use a gun metaphor.
Leo: You didn't even give me a trigger warning, right?
Iain: Well, also, trigger warning? If you're a victim of a fire arms incident, how does that work exactly?
Leo: Well, I want to be sensitive. I really do want to be sensitive. But at the same time, I don't want to—I think we can be over sensitive and walk on egg shells and that doesn't help the conversation either.
Harry: Pepsi's in the arena. They put this thing out wanting to get a reaction and so it's not wrong to react to it, even if it's diametrically opposed to what they wanted.
Christina: Also, I think that at least, I mean, maybe I saw different parts than you did, Leo, but most of the reaction I saw was obviously was making fun of how tone deaf it was. It wasn't an outrage of how dare Pepsi be—it wasn't going over the top of being overly vilified. It was just acknowledgment, kind of like the SNL thing was acknowledgement of what a dumb, stupid ad this was and how completely off base this was. I didn't see a lot of serious—I mean there were obviously some serious critiques of what was wrong with it, but most of it seemed to kind of almost be gasping at how—exactly. That was the reaction. And my reaction and why I love this story so much was like how does this ever get, how do you ever think that this is going to be something that will play well? And in what universe do you think this is a good idea? Not, how dare they do this insensitive thing. It's more—I think most of the reaction was what were they thinking.
Leo: I agree with what were they thinking. Yea, I agree with that. And I've spent my time in protests. We don't apparently have the violent protests you have in the UK.
Iain: Well, ok, you tend to shoot people here more than in the UK protests. But on the other hand, going up against, it's a quick death rather than if you get a couple of Metropolitan Police people dragging you out.
Leo: They sent the attack squad out a few times.
Iain: Well, when you've had to—an awful lot of people die in police custody in the UK. It used to be the old joke of how many policemen does it take to break a light bulb? It's none. It fell down the stairs by itself. So, you know, we rough our people up a bit though whereas over here, yea.
Leo: All right. I'm going to take a break and we'll do a good news segment when we come back. Happy stuff. Really, happy stuff.
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Leo: I do have to say that I've never liked—all the ads we do, there's no Kendall Jenner in our ads, right? All the ads we do and of course we wouldn't be good for Pepsi, would we? Are about features and benefits. In every single case, that's what we try to do and when I tell our advertisers, "Look, we're going to make it into an introduction and I need to tell my audience, this is what it is. This is how it works. This is what you get. And here's how you can try it." And that to me is a much more ethical relationship between an advertiser and a prospective customer than—but it doesn't work for like a soda. What's the feature benefit from Pepsi? Well, it's sweet. It's got a lot of sugar in it. It's carbonated. It's fizzy. They have to do things like that. And it makes the world a better place. Because it doesn't. It just rots your teeth and your stomach lining. And it makes you fat. But they can't tell people that (laughing).
Iain: So, anybody who puts that stuff in whiskey needs to be shot.
Leo: Good news. Jeff Bezos' selling $1-billion dollars of Amazon stock a year. Why? To fund Blue Origin, his civilian space venture. Jeff is now the richest—is he the richest? The second richest.
Iain: The second richest.
Leo: Man in the world after Warren Buffett.
Christina: No, after Bill Gates.
Leo: After Bill Gates. Bill is the richest?
Iain: Yea, Warren slid down.
Christina: Yea, Warren slid down. Bill's still number one.
Leo: Bill has, well, Jeff has a $45-billion-dollar net worth.
Christina: And it's gone up significantly. I can't remember the exact amount but it's gone up a huge amount in the last year. Like he's really increased his net worth.
Leo: Now, Blue Origin is not like Space X. Space X seems like, you know, Elon wants to colonize Mars, capture asteroids. Jeff is just trying to get together 11 minute rides in space (laughing).
Iain: Well, you see, this is the difference in business plan. Yea, I mean Jeff, we know so well, we launched our rocket first. Yea, you sent it straight up, hovered it, and it's straight down again. You did not do a full orbital delivery, turn the thing around, and reburn it, get it back down.
Leo: And by the way, kudos to Space X who for the first time has reused one of those last week. And that was really cool, cool, cool.
Iain: But at the same time, Blue Origin has got into the deal of making engines. I think they announced it this week. They're going to be making engines for the United Launch Alliance who are Space X's main competitor and have been relying on Russian engines up until now. So, he needs to really expand his rocketry business so he can meat ULA's demands and he wants to adapt the New Shepard Spacecraft with a 2nd stage so it can actually deliver something useful into orbit rather than just thrill seekers with too much money.
Leo: So, the first, the beginning of this is the amusement park ride basically.
Leo: But there's a long-term strategy that is more useful.
Iain: I mean, his initial funding proposition was you send people up above the, I think it's the 73-mile limit which officially makes them astronauts. They hover there for a few minutes, float around.
Leo: Who would do that?
Iain: Yea, but I mean then they'll come down and say, "I'm an astronaut." It's like, no you're not. Revisit in there. And if you want to go experience zero G, there's vomit comets all around California.
Leo: That's not real zero G, that's just your—
Iain: It's exactly the same G that you get at the International Space Station.
Leo: Yea, but I want to be in space. I want to be 11 miles above the earth.
Iain: Well, yea, there is that. You get the view.
Iain: But you know, long-term he wants to develop Blue Origins into an orbital delivery service.
Leo: Ok, that's fair.
Iain: And the ULA contract and putting a 2nd stage on the New Shepard will do that. But that requires a lot of money.
Harry: It's like Amazon starting out selling books.
Leo: Yea, I would never sell Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos short. Both of them are—we're very lucky to live in a time when these guys are around. By the way, I underestimated Bezos' net worth by a little bit. He's $75-billion-dollars.
Harry: According to Forbes.
Leo: $78-billion-dollars. What's Bill worth?
Iain: I think he's $84 now, isn't he?
Leo: Holy cow. That's unimaginable wealth. With credit to Bill, who's donating that all to charity, right? Mark Zuckerberg's going to do 90% or something like that?
Iain: Well, he's putting it into a family foundation which isn't necessarily a charity. It's kind of different in a really good way.
Leo: He's not exactly buying 8-foot pictures of himself to hang in the lobby.
Iain: No, but he's buying the 4 houses around his house in San Francisco because he likes his privacy.
Leo: Wait a minute. Is the Foundation buying those houses?
Iain: No, no, he bought them beforehand. But the Foundation isn't technically a charity. It is actually—
Leo: Right, it's not a non-profit.
Iain: It's something slightly different.
Leo: Yea. Well, we'll see. If he wants to run for president, he better get his charity. No, never mind. That doesn't matter, does it? Jeff Bezos, good man. So, that's one happy story. I promised you some happy stories here. This is always hard (laughing).
Iain: I was going to say that Bezos actually, when he was speaking at this space conference, he's really getting the butch, Blue Origin leather jacket thing down and he's got some swagger into him which is nice to see.
Leo: He's starting to look like a character out of Westworld? Is that what you're saying?
Iain: Well. We're not that far away.
Leo: Facebook, Mozilla and Craig Newmark of Craigslist have launched a $14—this is the other good news I think. I don't know. Maybe not. I bet you can piss on this one, too. You're good at that.
Iain: I see.
Leo: $14-million-dollar fund to support news integrity. What do you have against news integrity?
Iain: I have nothing at all against news integrity. I've got a—this is, ok. Craig Newmark has put a fat chunk of his own—
Leo: He's quite the philanthropist.
Iain: The donation from Facebook? I mean Zuckerberg could find that in the back of his sofa.
Leo: Well, maybe they will. By the way, our own Jeff Jarvis is one of the people who will be involved. CUNY Graduate School of Journalism will administer the project. They also have donations from Ford Foundation, the Democracy Fund, The Tow Foundation, AppNexus, Betaworks. So, there's a lot of money. What are they going to do, though?
Harry: Unclear so far.
Leo: Well, we'll ask Jeff on Wednesday when he comes in. They're funding projects I guess.
Iain: We need this kind of stuff but at the same time, for Facebook to turn around in three years and say, "We want to be the front page of the internet," and then when it gets swamped out with fake rubbish from all over the world, they'll say, "Oh, well. We're just a media platform and it's not our responsibility." And then to just chunk such a paltry amount of money into it. Have I pissed on it enough?
Leo: Yes, thank you very much. I knew you would.
Harry: Personally though, I like the idea. I don't want Facebook being responsible all by itself in trying to solve this problem. I like the idea of other organizations and smart people in the game.
Iain: Teach critical thinking in school. When I was in school we had a module called Media Studies where you looked at how media companies got there and how program makers and film makers got their message across. And you only studied it for a year. But it allowed you to actually look and say, "Ah, so that's what they're trying to do there. And that's using the raised fist icon so that shows protest." And you know, just teach kids some media savvy and we could solve a lot of these problems.
Christina: I don't think it's the kids who are the—
Iain: Well, yes, the grandparents as well.
Leo: It's old people like me.
Iain: Oh, come on, you're not old.
Leo: (Laughing). Google's starting to do this, right? With search results they're starting to tag some search results as less than suspicious. Give me something I can—search for Obama birth certificate. And there are a number of stories, but they do say, and I think this might be part of this new thing. This is the Snopes article, but it says, "Claim, Claimed By, Fact Checked, False," in the search result. So, I guess that's what we're going to start to see. What else can I—how about—
Iain: The first two links that you get on that are WMD which is about as reliable as a chocolate teapot.
Leo: How about 911 conspiracy. Would that be a good—
Iain: Well, we all know about this.
Leo: Maybe if I write 911 inside job.
Leo: That would probably turn up some. See, I don't know when Google is doing this.
Christina: Well, they're supposed to be doing this in the news results, not so much the search results.
Leo: Ah, let's go to news.
Christina: It's supposed to be coming up in the Google News thing is where it's supposed to be coming up.
Leo: It's not coming in here either. Here's Vice. Testing out Google's New Fact Checker. Maybe Vice figured out how to use it.
Christina: The problem is, is that the way that fact checking happens, a lot of it, the onus is on the fact checking organization so it's onus on Snopes and places like that to update the way the schema.org work.
Leo: Ok. Ok, so that's why I saw it on a Snopes result, not on the fake news results. That's why I'm seeing it on the Politifact result, not on the fake news sources. That is of limited value.
Leo: This is almost like the knowledge graft little box with the synopsis.
Harry: If you're reading Snopes and Politifact anyway, you're not going to be duped probably.
Iain: I mean it's—and already, if you go onto something like Reddit, The Donald, they're already saying well Snopes is clearly of a democratic source funded misinformation campaign. It's a never ending thing. And this just struck me very much as a PR move. Chuck a little bit of money at it and hope it goes away. Because people can be desperately embarrassed about it.
Leo: I'm only seeing it because Snopes is the number 1 results for a search for dumbest group of voters. So, this might be buried as it was with some of the other searches, Claim, Claimed By, Fact check and then False. So, yea. That's not going to change.
Harry: Maybe it's just the first step though. And you can certainly understand why they went to – instead of Google deciding what's true, they went to Snopes.
Leo: And they had a problem with that, didn't they? They had a problem with the Google Home saying some horrific things because—
Christina: They were using Knowledge Graft stuff.
Harry: There is some value in making this a little bit easier to find because there are people who will not click through but if they see it right there on the page. Just the same way with movie listings. You might not click through it in Fandango, but if there are movie listings in the results, you're more likely to find them valuable.
Iain: And some people are just like, "Ah, we live in a post fact society. Don't worry about it." You know, that's what drives me absolutely insane. You know, there are such things as facts. We should recognize that.
Leo: Right. Right. Here's opinion. Sometimes people can inflate opinion with facts. My opinion is factual however. Ev Williams the founder of Twitter is selling, what, 30% of his stock. What does that mean?
Iain: Well, he put out a Medium post where he was just like, "Nothing to panic about here. Everything's fine. It's just me and my wife need to make more political and philanthropic contributions and we've got--"
Leo: Personal reasons.
Iain: The venture capital thing so still have confidence in Twitter even though they pushed me off the board and made me sidelined completely. But I just need to sell off some stock right now. And he sold like $4-million of it this week I think.
Leo: $4-million-dollars which it's a shame he sold it now instead of earlier because it's dropped 15% over the last 3 months.
Iain: Remember when it was $70 bucks a share?
Leo: So does he (laughing).
Iain: Yea, exactly.
Leo: So, apparently investors are not spooked by this any more than they are spooked just by the fact that Twitter sucks.
Iain: I think they've got enough on their plate.
Leo: Yea. Williams will stay on the board and he says, "That's it. I'm not selling anymore." It only hit the stock about 1% following the news, so, that's not a big deal. I think what investors want to hear is somebody's willing to buy Twitter.
Iain: Or that they can find a way to turn a profit because I mean, Ev Williams—
Leo: Why can't they turn a profit? Everybody—I mean, this is good stuff. They should be making money. There's no reason. Everybody uses Twitter, right? Everybody I know. Now we're all using Mastodon.
Christina: Are we?
Leo: I am.
Harry: As of this show, I am.
Leo: So, Mastodon has gotten a lot of press, mostly because it figured out a way to make a new social look like Tweet Deck.
Christina: Right, that's exactly it.
Leo: But, you know, user interface is important. Mastodon has some nice things. For instance, I really like this feature which is you can say on a post, "I want to hide the content." And what people are doing that a lot with, which is great, is political stuff, not just like NSF. Here's a Mastodoner, a Tooter as we call them. Welkie apparently is posting—she must know that I'm fasting because she's posting recipes and she says, "This is sensitive content. (laughing)" And here's her mac and cheese recipe and pictures. That's sensitive content for me. I don't want to—hide that. I don't want to see that. Oh, man. So, Mastodon's kind of interesting. I've been playing with it. I tell you, like all news social networks, it's best when it's fresh, like right out of the oven because first of all, only geeks use it.
Harry: Google + was so good for the first week.
Leo: Yea, exactly. Actually Google + is good again because everybody left. So anybody that's still using Google +-- and so the quality has gone up on Google +.
Iain: Yea. But I mean, Twitter used to be great and it used to be this fantastic place for information.
Christina: I love Twitter.
Iain: Yea, it's a firehose of information but they're going to start fussing around with it and they already added the ability to spam people and now we've got the Twitter Lite platform coming out.
Leo: Twitter Lite seems like a good thing. This is for mobile phone users who don't want to dedicate data.
Iain: I think this is basically their way to get into the developing world.
Christina: Exactly. This is for India.
Iain: Yea. Exactly.
Leo: Well, that makes sense. That's a good thing.
Iain: But then they'll start to muck around with the newsfeed and add things you may have missed and things you might like and it's just—
Leo: Yea, I kind of wish I could turn that thing off because every time I look at my Twitter feed—
Christina: Use Tweetbot.
Leo: Tweetbot doesn't do that.
Christina: It doesn't because they don't have access to those things in the API. So the 3rd party clients don't have any of that stuff. Now, the downside is we can't do like group DMs and some other things.
Leo: Yea, I like some of the web only features. Does TweetDeck which is from Twitter, TweetDeck doesn't do that either.
Christina: No, they're usually behind. They have mostly official Twitter API support but because it was always a separate team, a lot of their things are—you'll see that it will take time for them to get support for certain things and also TweetDeck has a slightly different user base. They understand that most of the people who use TweetDeck are professional users who are using Twitter in a business capacity and not individuals, which is why—
Leo: Actually, I love TweetDeck because I can do scheduled tweets which you don't have to pay for.
Christina: Right, which is useful for you because you're using it in a business context as opposed to individual users who are never going to schedule a tweet, so TweetDeck's a slightly different product.
Leo: I can have a column just for the president which I find very useful because I like to keep track of what he's up to.
Iain: I get an alert every time Trump tweets as well as about 10 other people.
Leo: Do you?
Leo: You need to because you're covering it, right?
Iain: I've got Trump, a couple of CEOs and about 5-10 security people who I follow. Every time they tweet I get an update on it. Because it's—they're thing I should know about when they say these things.
Christina: Kanye West is the only person I get tweet alerts for but we have a—I do, I do. He hasn't been tweeting lately.
Leo: Only because he's so fascinating when he tweets. He's very odd.
Christina: Exactly. And honestly, I broke a story that way when it turned out he had the pirate bait tab open and something that he did a year ago. That was really funny. But, no, we have a slack bot that's set up any time Trump tweets in Slack it alerts us.
Leo: Well, then you probably already know that Jay-Z has pulled all of his cuts from Apple Music.
Christina: It's back.
Christina: It's back.
Leo: Oh, I thought I had a scoop and you already—you beat me. Is that because you watch Twitter?
Christina: Yea. And it happened on Friday but yea, no, Reasonable Doubt and the Blueprint are still not on Apple Music but they haven't been on there in a while.
Leo: How do I get this auto-play video to stop? Stop! Stop! You know what's interesting? Google used to have a setting that turned it off and then they disabled the setting that turned it off. There is a Chrome extension that turns it off.
Christina: Yea, I got it.
Leo: But then it breaks everything else.
Christina: Yea, I have one called Disable HTML-5 Auto Play. That's the one that I have.
Leo: Yea, that's the one that I use. But then, it's such a pain in the butt to get stuff to play, right, because it's disabled all play. So, then you have to turn it off, refresh the page and by that time I've lost interest. So, why did Jay—what was going on? Was this an accident?
Christina: I think it was. It looked at first that it might have been a broader thing because it wasn't on Spotify either, or Apple Music but then it came back. It was like a 24-hour thing. So, I'm not sure. It might have even been, like maybe a deal expired or something.
Leo: Oh, ok.
Christina: His Blueprint series of albums, and there are three of them, are not on Apple Music and his debut album Reasonable Doubt is not on Apple Music but all of his other stuff is there.
Leo: Would he be, would he face scrutiny, any competitive scrutiny because he owns, you know, Title? No.
Christina: No, because he also owns his masters so he doesn't want to—
Leo: He can do whatever he wants.
Christina: Absolutely. I mean, it would be up to—and I think that's kind of the problem is that he owns the masters for Reasonable Doubt and the Blueprint. I don't think he owns all of the stuff for some of the other albums. But no, if he wants to have—and also, if any artist wants to choose, like we only want it on this service or that service, then that's their choice. Do it. They have to understand that by making those decisions they're going to—people who want to listen to your music, they will find ways to listen to your music and it probably doesn't mean subscribing to Title.
Leo: All right. Let's take a break. We'll talk hacking next. Christina Warren's here. She's a senior editor at Gizmodo. Oh, senior writer at Gizmodo. You don't edit. You write.
Christina: I do edit. I edit some but I write mostly.
Leo: Oh, ok. Writing is like the—editing—don't tell an editor this, but writing. You guys are writers. Writing is the real work. Editing is like—you used to be an editor, Harry.
Harry: I do some editing, too.
Iain: I used to be a full-time editor. I've now gone back to writing.
Leo: Do you prefer to write?
Iain: Oh, yes. It's much more fun. You can actually get out there and do stuff rather than just reading through other people's stuff.
Leo: You know what we do need, though? Not for your guys' stuff because you write perfect prose. We need to bring copy editors back. The web is littered with bad grammar, misspelling. Not Fast Company, because you kept your editors.
Harry: We have actually copy editors, copy editing stuff for the web which I think is pretty unusual these days.
Iain: Yea, we have one.
Leo: I would guess it's pretty unusual.
Harry: They have saved my bacon many times.
Leo: There's a lot, you know, just typos even.
Iain: Yea, we have one in the US, two in the UK.
Leo: You can always tell when somebody filed facts and—you know what you can tell is when they edited it and then they forgot to take out the extra word. Like, they only edit—so it's like two sentences mushed together.
Christina: I get DMs. I literally, I'll tweet out a story and I'll get like 4 DMs, like, "You misspelled this word here." I'm like—
Leo: So, you have got editors. On Twitter.
Christina: Exactly. Exactly. Or, my mom sometimes, which she was in a former life a copy editor. Sometimes she'll send me a list of notes. Here are all the problems with this. I'm like, thanks, mom.
Harry: My dad used to do that to me.
Leo: I like it. I will do that to my kids, too, just to keep it going. Actually, my kids used to mock me for using punctuation in text messages.
Iain: Apparently, some people think it's very rude to end a social media message with a full stop. No, it's called punctuation. We do it.
Leo: Yea, punctuation.
Iain: And stop overusing semicolons as well.
Leo: Somebody tooted, not tweeted, but tooted that one of the best things about Mastodon is people know the difference between Y-O-U-R and Y-O-U-‘-R-E. That's something I'm looking for in a social network (laughing).
Iain: No, that's a deal breaker.
Leo: I agree.
Leo: But I think so many programmers and hard core geeks don't spell well, that you kind of get used to it. Like if you look at Reddit.
Iain: Yea, I know, but it doesn't mean you give up the fight, you know. There are rules for a reason which make it easier for everyone to read everything.
Christina: Also, I can overlook a misspelling. But if you can't tell the difference between your and you're, I'm out. I'm out.
Leo: Wow. You guys are harsh. Did you see the story about the Oxford comma that solved a—you know, that saved a company a lawsuit?
Christina: Yes, I loved that.
Iain: That was brilliant.
Harry: There's nothing an extra comma can't do.
Leo: So, this was a $10-million-dollar lawsuit. A Maine company, let's see if I can find the—yea, here's the New York Times article.
Christina: It was the Times article, yea.
Leo: A Maine company was being sued for $10-million-dollars, a dairy company in Portland. Three truck drivers sued the Oakhurst Dairy, seeking more than 4 years' worth of overtime pay because Maine law requires workers to be paid one and a half times the normal rate after 40 hours. But it carves out some exemptions. And here's the exemption. The overtime rules don't apply to the canning, comma, processing, comma, preserving, comma, freezing, comma, drying, comma, marketing, comma, storing, comma, packing for shipment or distribution of. There's a missing comma, the Oxford comma. Did the law intend to exempt distribution of the 3 categories that follow or does it mean to exempt packing for the shipping or distribution of them? Well, the court decided the missing comma was germane and in a 29-page decision, they said what? Who won? The company or the drivers?
Christina: The drivers.
Leo: The drivers won.
Christina: They ruled in favor of the Oxford comma.
Leo: The drivers' lawyer said, "That comma would have sunk our ship." Is it sunk or sunken (laughing)? So, the Oxford comma for those who don't know, sometimes called the Harvard comma.
Harry: Serial comma.
Leo: Serial comma.
Harry: That's what I get.
Iain: It's Oxford. We gave you the language.
Leo: Cambridge. It's in a series, do you put a comma before the and or the or in this case, or do you leave it out? And I always prefer to use the comma, the Harvard, Oxford, serial comma. Are you all serial comma folks?
Harry: When I worked at Time we did not use it and I really gnashed my teeth every time and at Fast Company we do. And it was such a huge relief.
Leo: It's a standard, though. Every publication has its own.
Harry: I think they still use it.
Christina: Mashable did not and I was like you, Harry. I hated not having to use it. And then Gizmodo does and so I was really relieved to go back to it but it also took me a little while to get used to writing with it again, so, I was really relieved to go back to using the Oxford comma.
Harry: In my brain, I always wrote with it.
Leo: I have to say, I am always guided, as I am in all things, by Strunk & White, which says, in a series of there or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last. Red, comma, white, comma and blue, as opposed to red, comma, white.
Harry: It never hurts and sometimes it helps. Like, I don't see why anybody would not.
Leo: Why wouldn't you use it?
Christina: Exactly. It's just an extra character.
Leo: There's a great book called Eats, Shoots & Leaves (laughing).
Iain: Oh, that's a fantastic book. Highly recommend it. People of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your own reasonable sense that things are not going great.
Christina: You know, there are two versions of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. There's the British version which is better I think and then there's the American version.
Iain: Oh, I didn't know they did another version.
Christina: They did. They did. When it came out in America, they altered it a little bit, which I didn't find out until I ordered a copy of the internet and then it turned out to be a British one. And then I got one at a bookstore and was like, "Oh, this is slightly different."
Iain: Thank goodness you said that, because when you said there were two versions of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, I thought you were going to tell a joke about the panda and the prostitute.
Harry: And the other thing is, is the reference to the strippers, comma, JFK and Stalin.
Leo: So, it could have been strippers, JFK and Stalin individually or that JFK and Stalin are strippers.
Harry: They're the strippers. They aren't.
Leo: Well, I think we made a strong argument for the serial comma. How do you guys feel about 2 spaces after a period?
Iain: Absolutely not.
Christina: No, never.
Christina: That's gross.
Leo: Wow. I had no idea your feelings ran so high.
Harry: That's clear cut.
Iain: Yea, that's taking a hammer to somebody's—
Leo: Wait a minute. Why is that clear cut?
Iain: Why would you put two spaces?
Harry: Because your computer takes care of your typography.
Leo: Because I always did but I learned with a typewriter, obviously older than you guys.
Iain: My first copy was written on a typewriter.
Leo: You'd hit a period and you'd go space, space and you start the next sentence.
Harry: Because your typewriter couldn't do with typography.
Leo: It was fixed space. It was mono spaced. Isn't that interesting? So, on computers, you should not.
Leo: Unless you're on monospace.
Harry: If you're using a typewriter, use all the spaces you want.
Leo: Ok (laughing). So, I don't know how I find out which one is the British version and which one's not. I'm going to definitely buy the British version.
Iain: Lynne Truss is just a gem. She really is.
Leo: She was a copy editor.
Iain: Now she's a national treasure.
Leo: A national treasure? Wow.
Iain: On the par—not quite on the par with David Attenborough but getting close.
Leo: Oh, man—ok, one last plug and then we'll do an ad and then we'll finish up. BBC Planet 2. I have it at home on UHD Blu-Ray with a HDR set. It is the best thing I've ever seen. If you have a 4K set, and you have HDR, it's not expensive.
Christina: I'll get it.
Leo: Get the Blu-Ray. And my Blu-Ray UHD player is my Xbox One S.
Leo: It looks—Christina, you will, you'll just sit and watch it over and over again.
Christina: Ok, because I watched it on like pirated BBC when it came out.
Leo: Not the same. Well, you can get it now on Amazon for $2.99.
Christina: Ok, I'll buy it.
Leo: Buy the Blu-Ray. It's one argument ever for physical media.
Christina: Got it.
Leo: Otherwise, stream everything. But that is the argument for physical media. It is just spectacular.
Iain: Oh, and you heard about the—
Leo: The reason I mention it, is David Attenborough narrates it.
Leo: What's the HMS David Attenborough?
Iain: You remember the Boaty McBoatface thing?
Iain: Well, they couldn't name the ship Boaty McBoatface because it would just be an enormous embarrassment. So, they called it the HMS David Attenborough.
Iain: Because who doesn't love David Attenborough?
Leo: Everybody does.
Iain: And then called the submersible Boaty McBoatface which had its first trip this week.
Leo: Ah, Boaty McBoatface sails.
Iain: Yep. Well, goes under the water, but yes.
Leo: Sinks intentionally.
Iain: It did sink intentionally but then it came back up.
Leo: Attenborough, believe it or not, is 90-years-old.
Iain: And still going strong.
Leo: The best narrator in the business.
Iain: With last year's Celebrity Dance, I was just like, "Please let this get him through. Please let it get him through." You know, because he's—you can't watch a nature documentary and not hear his voice in the back of your head.
Leo: The dickie bird rides on the back of the hippopotamus on his way to better times.
Iain: You should watch him getting—a female gorilla getting amorous with him in the 1970s. It's this marvelous thing where he's with the gorilla and she's getting sort of kind of touchy feely with him. And he's like, "Oh, this is terribly flattering, but no, get me out of here."
Leo: Oh, I have seen that clip.
Leo: In fact, we have it right here. I could play it for you. David Attenborough meets the gorillas.
Iain: Now, I've had some rough dates but I have to say, this would be drawing the line.
David Attenborough: There's one ape, however, that spends nearly all its time on the ground. It lives here, 10,000 feet up, on the flanks of the volcanoes of Central America on the borders of Rwanda and Zaire. It's the biggest of all the apes, the shyest, one of the rarest, and until recently, one of the least known. The gorilla.
Leo: Oh, wait a minute. That's not what we wanted (laughing). Oh, YouTube. I hate you.
David; If you appeared close to them and took them by surprise, then they would almost certainly charge.
Leo: (Laughing) Damn it, YouTube.
Christina: We've been RIPRolled.
Leo: We been RIPRolled or something. We've been Attenborough rolled. I should have noticed the post of this was from Mr. Coolio Iglesias. That might have been the giveaway. How about if we go to the baby—is this the one from BBC Earth?
Iain: It's the female mother I think who starts playing with him, grooming him in a rather intimate area.
Leo: It's been banned. Apparently, Karsten doesn't want me to play it.
Leo: (Laughing) All right. Ok. We'll leave this as an exercise for the listener at a later date. Just remember, always use the serial comma.
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Leo: We have-- this has been a far-ranging conversation. We got gorillas in. We're going to talk about hackers. The Shadow Brokers. Remember these guys? They had a fairy large trove of NSA exploits and they offered them for sale. They wanted $7-million-dollars. They got one offer for $9,000-dollars (laughing). So they have dumped them on the internet. And this was a busy Sunday because a lot of security researchers have a lot of files to go through. So far, the reaction on Twitter is—some of this is pretty old like dating back to the 1990s. Mostly LINUX. The mock monster on Twitter, @osxreverser, tweets, "While files are old, there's a lot of interesting stuff on Equation Group files." The Equation Group is what the NSA group that develops this stuff is called. "What they were looking at, methods, etc. Very cool. Might not be interesting to young minds but it's gold for 90s old farts," says @osxreverser. Actually, probably the most salient tweet is from Edward Snowden, who says, "A quick review of the #ShadowBrokers leak of top secret NSA tools reveals that it's nowhere near the full ibrary." And he ought to know. "But there's still so much here that the NSA should be able to instantly identify where it came from and how they lost it. If they can't, it's a scandal."
Iain: Yea, but they're not going to tell us if they do.
Leo: But, you may remember that the Shadow Brokers came to light last August when they posted samples of the exploit code and after the leak, the FBI arrested a former NSA contractor named Harold Martin.
Iain: Yea, it's unclear as to whether or not he was actually responsible for that because they guy comes across in the trial as a bit of a hoarder who basically wanted all this stuff.
Leo: Hoarder? He had 50 terabytes worth of data over two decades (laughing).
Iain: I was being polite.
Leo: 50 terabytes. He worked both for the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Apparently, he's still a prime suspect for the big Shadow Brokers case.
Iain: It's entirely possible. You know, if you take this stuff out the building and if hoard vulnerabilities in this way—
Leo: Somebody might get your stuff and then the reverse.
Iain: I mean, it's kind of—I was at DEFCON last year and they got a guy there from one of these Washington think tanks saying, "You know, they're probably not holding more than a couple of dozen of vulnerabilities. 90% of them can get pushed to the vendors." And then something like this comes out. And you're like, "No, they're holding on to anything."
Leo: Apparently, a lot of these were highly targeted. There was an attack against a PDP11. There was only 10 of them in the country or something, which means that there's not much to worry about for you and me, unless you're the target of an NSA attack.
Iain: I'm going to say, though, if you're the target of an NSA investigation, there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Leo: It's over.
Leo: Apparently, the Shadow Brokers are fans of President Trump because they say, "We're releasing this because Trump has failed us." I think that might be disinformation.
Iain: I've heard one thing. I haven't checked it out on the Medium post, but apparently, the Medium post is 911 pages, light sentences long. But I haven't actually—
Leo: Oh, that's interesting.
Iain: I haven't worked it out.
Leo: Now that's a conspiracy theory.
Iain: It was something I saw on Twitter.
Leo: I could find out. You just cut and paste this into e.max and I can let you know.
Iain: Yea, I just had things to do this weekend.
Leo: This is a big political manifesto.
Iain: It's very badly written as well.
Leo: Oh, well they may not be English speaking. Or they need copy editors.
Iain: Or they just may not want to look English speaking.
Iain: Once you go down the rabbit hole on these things, you can just, you know.
Leo: So, they say our auction was an apparent failure. But consider this our formal protest. And then posts the password for the files, the Equation Group files. And they say, "If you want to send a donation, here's our bitcoin address. We'll be glad to take it." I just want to highlight that because I can (laughing). Medium. Don't you love it? Why are you looking at videos of kittens?
Iain: It just popped up on my feed.
Leo: Oh, sure. Sure, it did. Hackers breached the Dallas warning sirens.
Iain: Oh, this is hilarious.
Leo: On Friday, and woke the city up. 156 of the emergency sirens sounded in the early morning hours, lasted until 1:20 AM Saturday, creating, according to The New York Times, a sense of fear and confusion, jarring residents awake and flooding 911 with thousands of calls. These are the sirens that are used for tornadoes, for bombs.
Iain: Like the ones we've got in San Francisco.
Leo: Yea. All of the tornado sirens went off and they didn't just go off for a little bit. They went off for a couple of hours. That's annoying. In the middle of the night.
Iain: I know, but part of me was just like, ok. Yes. It's annoying. It's anti-social. It's a real pain in the backside if you're trying to sleep at that time of night, but it's kind of a cool hack.
Leo: It's a cool hack. The mayor of Dallas—
Iain: I don't condone it any way, shape, or form, but.
Leo: The mayor of Dallas said, "We will work to identify and prosecute those responsible." I'm losing some confidence because he posted this on his Facebook page (laughing). That's where I'd post important announcements. So, I guess they did it for an hour and a half. I mean, a minute and a half, 90 seconds. Really loud. And then they did it about 15 times.
Harry: At first they weren't sure that it wasn't something actually happening.
Leo: Well, right? You would assume that, right? So, emergency workers unplugged it (laughing).
Iain: Try turning it off and turning it on again, basically, yea.
Leo: We don't know how it was hacked. Dallas has reached out to the FCC. Oh, that will help.
Leo: And they are taking steps to prevent hackers from setting off the entire system again. If only they could figure out how they did it in the first place.
Iain: A lot of these systems are very antiquated as well. And the same with the 911 system.
Leo: Yea, it's actually surprising this hasn't happened before, to be honest with you.
Iain: I don't know. When I first came here, the San Francisco ones used to really freak me out because every Tuesday at 12, they fire off. And I said to my co-workers, "Well supposing the Russians actually launched, coincide with this?" They're always like, "Oh, it's midday. No need to worry about it."
Leo: We used to call it the noon whistle when I was there. It's the noon whistle. So, you've heard of DDoS? Distributed Denial of Service attack? There's a new attack. It's called PDoS.
Iain: Well, it used to be called bricking things.
Leo: Yea, permanent denial of service. Apparently, so a company called Radware created a honey pot of attackable IOT devices. You know, ones with hard wired passwords, things like that. And they were attacked 2,2250 times by malware. They dubbed it BrickerBot 1 and 2, which wasn't designed to take over the IOT devices, but instead to brick them. Erase all the data files, corrupt storage, and then sever the internet connection. Turn your internet connected camera, refrigerator, microwave oven into a brick.
Iain: Yea, basically it took tools that the Mirai botnet had taken and adapted them and turned them into something that would kill your device rather than turning it an interbot.
Leo: We should point out that while that's cool, it's still illegal. It's still hacking.
Iain: It's highly illegal but it does—I think it will have one really beneficial effect. If this kind of stuff spreads, IOT manufactures are going to have to get so much better than they already are at locking down their devices and securing them, because that is a huge leak.
Leo: It's one thing if my cheap router is used to attack the PlayStation Network. It's another thing if it stops working entirely. Now, I'm mad.
Iain: Yea, but I mean this is why I don't have Internet of Things things in the house. Because why rely on a 3rd part which could do down? And why rely on devices with such lamentably bad security? There is no excuse for putting this—when you look at some of the stuff out there. At DEFCON last year, they tested 12 Bluetooth door locks. 9 of them were encrypting passwords, sending passwords to and from the door in plain text. So, all you had to do is have a receiver to pick it up.
Harry: How could that be?
Iain: It was just really bad.
Harry: It's kind of jaw dropping.
Iain: It's really poor.
Leo: Horrifically bad.
Iain: Of the 3 that did encrypt their stream, one was so poorly made the guy opened it with a screwdriver. So, you know, you can't win on this. Either the mechanics are gone.
Leo: There is a—I doubt this will get passed, but there is a bill up in the California State Legislature to actually make it illegal to you know, to compel IOT security. It's SB-327 Information Privacy: Connected Devices. It calls for device manufacturers to secure their devices, protect the information they collect or store, indicate when they're collecting it. So, it's privacy as well. And get user approval before doing so and be proactive in informing users of security updates. Unfortunately, there's no punishment specified.
Leo: And I doubt this will pass, but hey, good for them for trying.
Iain: Yea. It's—
Leo: The thing is, if California, if one state, especially a state that's as big as California passes something like this, it has a huge impact globally. Because if you're a company that sells IOT devices, you don't want to leave California out of your—
Iain: Yea, if they enforce it. That's the big thing. At the moment, they're just talking a mean game.
Leo: Right. Oh, I could go on and on. We're embracing ourselves. Tuesday, Windows 10 will start to get a creator's update. It will be rolled out over a period of time, maybe money months as it has been in the past. Microsoft won't offer it to you if they don't think your machine can handle it. If it's anything like last year's anniversary update, my recommendation would be to wait until you hear the howls of pain subside.
Iain: Oh, they're going to be dribbling it out very slowly because they learned from that experience.
Leo: I mean last time they did this, the anniversary update, they bricked a goodly number of webcams. Not bricked them, but made them unusable.
Iain: The new update already has.
Leo: Oh, really?
Iain: Yea, if you—someone did an article about this last week. He downloaded the Developer Preview and it bricked his webcam.
Leo: Wow. Made it stopped working. And if you plugged in a Kindle after the Anniversary Update, it would crash your machine (laughing). You know, it's tested against millions of people. There's millions of people in the insider program doing the beta test. Maybe your friend's problem will keep it from happening to everybody else. Maybe Microsoft will fix it. And finally, we'll end up with Project Scorpio. Are you all excited? The new Xbox comes out later this year. Microsoft gave exclusive access to a prerelease version to Digital Foundry. And they're fairly well known I gather in Europe as a company that not only analyzes hardware from a deep, geeky perspective, but has been critical in the past of games that can't live up to the 4K standard. They say they were able to, on this 6-teraflop system, that's a mighty system, they were able to run 4K at 60p with room to spare. So, that's good. The GPU is a massive GPU with how many different pipelines? It was like 43 pipelines. 12 gigs of DDR5 RAM. A custom 8 core CPU similar to the one on the Xbox One S but obviously a heftier—and it's vapor cooled which is a good thing I guess. So, here's the final specs. 40 customized compute units in the GPU, each running 1.172Ghz. That's pretty impressive. Nice hardware.
Iain: Yea, all they need now is the games to run it on. Or to run on it, sorry.
Leo: You know, it will run the older games, too, I think, right? It's not going to be incompatible.
Iain: I don't think it's incompatible but there's not a massive amount of really great—really, really great—
Leo: You're not an Xbox fan?
Iain: I've been an old console fan full stop. You know, I don't like buying the bottom—
Leo: What's your game?
Iain: Oh, I'm trashed on games so give me a good game of Civ 2
Leo: Civ 2, not 5?
Iain: No, no.
Leo: You don't like the modern stuff?
Iain: No, it just got two on the backside with all of these sort of fancy graphics and overlays. Just give me a nice, simple game of Civ 2 and 10 hours free and I could quite cheerfully bumble through that.
Leo: Do you like—how do we all feel about AOL and Yahoo's new name, Oath?
Harry: Oh, boy.
Iain: Let them die.
Christina: I mean, it's better than Tronk I guess.
Iain: Yea, true.
Leo: Yea, it is better than Tronk. Thank you, Tronk for making something actually arguable worse.
Harry: Consumers will never have to think about Oath again. It will be a B to B brand at least.
Leo: Well, but Flickr will be Oath. Yahoo Mail will be Oath Mail. When you do a Yahoo search, you'll be Oathing it.
Iain: I will admit, dealing with Yahoo, I have uttered oaths but that's not the same thing.
Leo: Oath. The thing that galls me is that they probably spent a million dollars on some brand company to get that name.
Christina: Oh, at least.
Leo: Like, who thinks that's a good name?
Iain: And the other big thing about it is—
Leo: It sounds like you're lisping.
Iain: And also, Mayer will be out. She'll trigger her golden parachute and swan off to another company.
Leo: Good for her.
Christina: She's going to be a VC, isn't she?
Leo: She's going to be a VC.
Christina: She's going to be a VC, isn't she?
Iain: Oh, yea. I would also.
Christina: Yea, yea.
Leo: That's where the money is. It's Oath, O-A-T-H, not Oaf, O-A-F. Though Oaf might be better.
Leo: Oof (laughing). All right, that's it. I'm calling it Oof from now on. Oof. Oof. Christina, it's always a pleasure. I wish you could have been in the studio with us.
Christina: Same, same. But I have to visit you guys at some point, next time I'm out there, for sure.
Leo: Senior writer at Gizmodo, @film_girl read her writing. She does great work. Always has. It's really a pleasure. Thank you, Christina.
Christina: Thanks for having me.
Leo: Yea. Iain Thomson. Spells it funny, no P. And there's an extra I in there.
Iain: I blame the parents.
Leo: It's all their fault. I-A-I-N-T-H-O-M-A-S-O-N on the Twitter. You'll catch him at theregister.co.uk and as often as we can get him in here.
Iain: It's always good fun.
Leo: Thanks for coming up. Enjoy our Soylent.
Iain: Yea, my first ever Soylent. I have to say, the aftertaste—
Leo: Did you like it, Harry?
Harry: I'm going to take the rest of it home with me.
Leo: (Laughing) I think you can use it to fertilize plants. I understand it's very nutritious.
Harry: I'm going to see if my cats like it.
Iain: Oh, that's a good one. I'll try it on Boo, yea.
Leo: Although, didn't they have problems with diarrhea in other versions? I'd hate to give that to the cats.
Iain: So would I.
Leo: Harry McCracken, he's the Technologizer. You'll find his work at Fastcompany.com Always a pleasure. Marie is here too. Hi, Marie. Your lovely wife and follow Harry on Instagram because he's always posting interesting pictures, very interesting stuff. I want to thank all of you for being here. We do This Week in Tech every Sunday, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern, 2200 UTC. If you want to watch live, we're on YouTube Live now which is great. YouTube.com/twit. We're on Twitch.tv, UStream.com and of course on our own website, twit.com/live. And if you do watch live, please join us in the chatroom at irc.twit.tv Always nice to have our lovely chatters here. You could join us in the studio, too. We have an open studio for most of the shows we do and all you have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll put an extremely uncomfortable chair out for you. Right? Am I wrong? I make you sit there for hours. No one's sitting in the bad chairs I noticed. You all got the good chairs. What else? Don't forget to vote for the Webbys. twit.to/webbys2017. I appreciate that. And I thank you for being here. You can get this show anywhere you get podcasts. Just search for TWiT and subscribe, will you? Thanks for joining us. We'll see you later. Another TWiT is in the can! Bye-bye.