This Week in Tech 622
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech. Great show ahead for you! Brianna Wu, Baratunde Thurston, Larry Magid, Oh my goodness. We're going to talk about the new model 3 that came out on Friday. Will the iPhone not have a fingerprint reader? That's what the rumors are saying. And I'm going to show you my favorite gadget. Brianna says it's ugly but I love it. It's all coming up next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, Episode number 622, recorded Sunday, July 9, 2017.
Running for Human
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we get together with the best minds in technology journalism and talk about what's going on. Today, we start with Larry Magid, CBS radio news, ConnectSafely.org, safekids.com. It's nice to see you.
Larry Magid: Hi, camera.
Leo: He's got his Tesla order..
Larry: My Vin is showing? Thank you, your reservation is confirmed.
Leo: Once you get your Vin, that means they're ready to start making them.
Larry: I was nervous, until a minute ago. The email came from Teslamotors.com.
Leo: They used to be tesla.com.
Larry: I was looking for the wrong email.
Leo: I thought he dreamed it.
Larry: My pinto for the rest of my life.
Leo: Also with us, running for Congress in the Massachusetts eighth district, right Brianna Wu? Eigth district, email@example.com. He's a game developer, and I did not know this, but in a former life, an investigative reporter.
Larry: Good for you.
Brianna Wu: That's what I did. I have to tell you, your listeners and viewers on this show are amazing. Every time I come on, they are amazing. Some of the smartest conversations I have after I leave. It's amazing.
Leo: I have this philosophy, which is if you treat your audience as intelligent, which television is famous for not doing, that you get an intelligent audience. I don't know why. It's crazy talk. Anyway, wonderful to have you. Part of the way I do that is having people like you, Brianna on. So thank you for being here, And speaking of smarty pants, here's Mr. Baratunde Thurston. Futurist comedian, activist. Notice we put the Harvard comma in your lower third. Just for you.
Baratunde Thurston: I'm a fan of that. I was taught to type that way well before I had heard of Harvard, and in another way, I trust them less.
Leo: It's funny. People call it the Oxford comma, so there's some dispute.
Baratunde: It's the elitist comma.
Leo: Since you are a Harvard man, maybe you can help me with this. Should you use a Harvard comma with an ampersand?
Baratunde: I think you should.
Leo: Just checking. See? He earned that degree. Baratunde is doing something new, we're going to talk about that in a little bit, but we're glad to have all three of you to talk about the week's tech news. I guess that was one big story our studio audience reminded me that on Friday, Elon Musk tweeted the first number one Model 3. Which is a big deal! This is the first relatively affordable Tesla.
Larry: Although you know you're going to have to pay an extra five thousand dollars for the software if you want...
Leo: You don't get auto pilot.
Larry: You get that too?
Leo: I'll tell you what Elon does that's really interesting. He's actually... you have to be to do this. I will give him full marks for being the amazing visionary, the Tony Stark of our generation. I think that's fair. He's Ironman. But he's also, and I think you have to be a brilliant marketer. So a lot of the features you'll find on your new car, Larry, first of all costs money. But the truth is, a Tesla is an electric GoKart. And then they put on it the stuff that makes you want it bad. Like the bio weapon defense mode. It even has the bio hazard, you know that weird logo on it? It costs money. It's some super filter. It's probably just a HEPA filter. But Elon is brilliant. He calls it the bio weapon defense mode, and puts a bio weapon logo on it. You pay thousands more for it.
Larry: What are you protected from?
Leo: Bio weapons. If the screen says "anthrax ahead," I'll be ready.
Larry: I could have used that car at Berkley. Yeah. That's right. Tear gas. So my auto pilot is going to cost me five grand.
Leo: They tout the auto pilot. To be fair, you' re not just paying for software but for additional hardware. You have to have radar and LIDAR. You mean hardware is in it?
Larry: I think the car is hardware equipped up to autonomy.
Leo: Maybe. I don't know.
Larry: They say every Tesla is being built...
Leo: You have what they call hardware platforms too.
Larry: You're unlocking the hardware.
Leo: It does seem a little expensive.
Larry: So you're paying to lock the hardware that's already there.
Baratunde: The car is a platform, and you get to pay to access its features.
Leo: You said it better than I did, but that's exactly what I was saying.
Larry: So can I get a third party app?
Leo: No. Although we've learned from Hackers who have hacked the Tesla that it is running Ubuntu Linux.
Brianna: That's interesting. I have friends of mine who have worked for Tesla before, and what I hear about the culture there is it's great when Elon can concentrate on your area of the company and then is radio silence if he's concentrating on something else. So, I don't know. But I think because the Model 3 is so much of the future of Tesla is riding on this car, I knew it was going to be big when people I knew weren't millionaires, people that do reasonably well in their career, when they were lining up to buy this car, so I think it's going to be a smash success.
Leo: Since you brought up this, that you have a friend who worked there, there have been claims that Tesla too, has this endemic harassment problem that seems to be very common in Silicon Valley. Did your friend talk about or know about any of this?
Brianna: She has not mentioned anything about it. But she also left it a few years ago. I'll ask her next time we hang out, but no.
Larry: I have a friend who mentioned the New York Times article as one of the people who had sexually harassed, so if I run into you, what do I say to them?
Leo: Are you talking about Mark Kenner?
Larry: I'm not going to name names.
Leo: Same problem. Mark is... we talked about this last week, in fact, we had Katy Benner, the author of the Times article on. Credit to Reid Albergotty, actually credit going back to Susan Fowler. It's clear that harassment is pervasive throughout the world. Wherever men go, there goes harassment, and we all need to do better, so I don't think Silicon Valley is unique in this respect, what's surprising is that you expect better of the people we all know who pay lip service to forward progressive thinking. So... of course Dave McClure after this article immediately pled Mea culpa. He said I'm a creep. Literally in his medium post, and has stepped down. Some said his apology didn't go far enough. At least he acknowledged it. Chris Saka who was also named has not yet copped to it, but Mark Cantor, most of all sort of did. I have more work to do... who doesn't?
Baratunde: Just like a Tesla. We all need more firmware updates.
Leo: I like Mark, and I know Mark. He has denied it again and again. Maybe rightly so. I don't know. We don't know.
Brianna: I would say this. If it were my friend, something I've realized for me as a white person, when I see people who may not be doing their part for people of color, I have a responsibility to speak up, because there is less risk for me as a white person. I think if you're a dude in tech, I would personally appreciate if you would speak up and pull your friends aside and talk to them about this.
Larry: When I see somebody acting out...
Brianna: You're not going to see it the same way that we are. It's such a touch... It's so tough. One thing I would like to see, is more of a culture where people can make mistakes and have a second chance. I know for me, I would hope today in 2017, I'm a better ally to groups that I'm not a part of than I was in 2010. I think all of us are waking up and realizing things need to change, and if someone comes forward and says, "I made a mistake, I need to do better," my strongest inclination is to give them the benefit of the doubt that they want to change. Give them a second chance. Maybe not a third chance, but give everybody a chance to make their mistakes right.
Baratunde: I would add onto that. Maybe also give them that nudge. Part of why people were upset with Dave was the Christina Yo wrote about it, I think it's in our show notes, about these levels of inappropriateness, and when male sexual aggressive all scales of it get lumped under inappropriate, anything from aggressive language to physical aggressive pursuit that is unsolicited and resisted, all of those aren't equally inappropriate. So we need a better language and a better scale, and better reporting mechanisms within any organization, whether it's non-profit or a company. Brianna brought it up, it's always useful to flip the switch, but I will second her notion about... I will see racism more easily every time, because everything is racist, but there is a handoff in a battle for justice on the racial side, OK, White people you have things to do, to help move this forward that I would never be able to do. I think as men, there are layers to the sexism in our society that if men aren't talking to other men about it, it just won't move as quickly and as deeply as it needs to. So we need to have some uncomfortable conversations as men with other men about the culture we've been brought up in, and about challenging each other, our language, our behavior, and in the aftermath of an incident like this, for those of us who have access to the name, especially the ones not named, bringing it up before, there's even further incidents to be repeated on top of that.
Larry: It's funny you mention the range of inappropriate material. You know a couple weeks ago, some media outlets made a big deal about the fact that Donald Trump had an Irish female reporter in the oval office and he kind of flirted with her. He said "nice smile." On the scale of things Donald Trump has done in terms of harassing women, that's way on the innocent side, yet they made a big deal about it. I'm thinking let's think back to grab your... can you say the "P" word on TWiT?
Leo: I don't think you need to.
Larry: I think we need to put everything in context.
Brianna: I would push back on you a little bit on that. Put yourself in that woman's shoes. She's worked her entire career. If you're a woman journalist, talk to your friends that work that. They're constantly faced with being treated as sex objects and not professionals. And here she is in a big moment of her career. She's being treated as a sex object and not a professional, so I understand what you're saying about the seriousness of that, but we need a culture where men are aware of that. I'm sure it was professionally embarrassing for her.
Leo: That's part of the problem, isn't it? As aware as we ought to be, of how things that sound, many guys would say that's saying something nice, how is that... and we need to get more aware of how that can be patronizing and problematic.
Baratunde: We all grow up in the same perverse stew with all the vices baked in. what's fascinating about what's happening now is that we are having this conversation, there is clearly a wave, and it's not just men's behavior that is less acceptable, it's women feeling increasingly comfortable stepping up. This would not have happened to this degree in the 50's, in the 70's, or even the 90's. Or even the earlier part of the 2000's, so you can have a Susan Fowler, and a Christine Yo, and these are all from personal websites, in the New York Times, on blogs, in video. There's something... the culture is shifting and we all have to catch up and stay relevant. I think for this show and shows like it, if you're in technology, you're really proud of being on the cutting edge. You're an early adopter. I think that early adoption extends past the latest operating system and the latest Tesla model to the latest social interaction firmware and the latest on human rights operating system, and the latest inter human respect protocols that we realize we now have to update our stuff as well. Look at our meatware, not just ourselves.
Brianna: If I could add one thing to this, I think it is so easy to go after someone on Twitter and blast them and attack them. I do think holding people accountable is very useful, but something I try to do is rather than attacking other people on this subject, I try to ask myself what do I need to do better? It's so much easier to change yourself than other people. The last game my studio put out, we had no characters that were people of color. We had a very small staff of five people, but none of those were POC that were on our engineering team. For me as a leader, I have to hold myself accountable and know that going forward I have to make different hiring decisions. I wish all of us would take more of a look at ourselves about what we need to change, rather than constantly directing it towards others, because I think it leads to this, leads to everybody attacking everybody all the time.
Larry: It's also interesting to think that Silicon Valley, which thinks of itself as a very progressive area really has a lot of work to do, and it cannot put itself in a superior position. We can't sit here and complain about how people are acting in the hinterland.
Leo: If there is a bright side to this, that is it. We really, I shouldn't say "we," but Silicon Valley definitely thinks it's better than everybody else.
Larry: It also thinks it's more diverse, and yes, it's true. You can see people of different ethnicities around, but if you look at the power structure of Silicon Valley, it's pretty un-diverse.
Leo: It's good to remember that. I think technologists, particularly in Silicon Valley, we think we're smarter than everybody else, we're more sensitive, we're more enlightened, and it's probably a good message that we're just as flawed as everyone else.
Baratunde: Silicon Valley is made of people, just like Soylent Green.
Leo: But there's a lesson there. The lesson is, I think technocrats are eying public office. We've talked about this before with Mark Zuckerberg, I know Jason Calacanis wants to run for mayor of San Francisco... I heard about this woman named Briana Wu who wants to be a Congress person. I think people like Zuckerberg think they, because they are technologists and entrepreneurs because they're so vastly successful would bring a skill set to politics that doesn't exist right now. It's very dismissive. I know better, I can do a better job.
Larry: When is the last time a billionaire ran for President?
Leo: I don't think he's a billionaire.
Larry: He claims to be. he thinks he's really smart because he ran a successful business. He thinks the skill set in running his real estate empire somehow applies to America. Mark Zuckerberg is different than him, but not necessarily more qualified in some ways.
Brianna: It's a completely different skill set. If I'm running a business and I get 5% margin, I'm going to be a multi-millionaire. If you're running for office, you have to get 51% of the vote, it's a completely different game. I agree with you, Leo. I'm among those who are terrified of the idea of him running for office. I think it's a massive conflict of interest. I can think of very few people who would be worse in that role.
Leo: Is it a conflict of interest because he could use the vast power of Facebook to promote his candidacy?
Brianna: Absolutely. Or he has such massive control over news. There was a Bond movie over this very subject.
Leo: Is he a bond villain?
Brianna: I think he could be.
Leo: Does he have a volcano anywhere? We need to know. I'll lend him my doctor Evil chair, if he wants. You know what? He does. He is building a fence around it. You also understand why he thinks he would be better at this job. But this is a common misconception. You often hear I have to balance my checkbook, why can't the Government balance its checkbook? It's a fundamental misunderstanding of how Government works, right?
Brianna: Yeah. My read of him moving more into the political realm is more like him trying to rehabilitate his image. There's a trend of when the 1% of the 1% amass a certain amount of money, they take great pains to rise their standing in public opinion. I think that I read it as him trying to raise his profile to be seen as a nice guy so Facebook can accomplish more political goals.
Baratunde: he's not running for President; Mark Zuckerberg is running for human. He just wants us to think of him as a human, just like you. I just bring my security detail and a group of people on laptops to a small Midwestern town and impose myself on a family, just like humans do. It's human, right?
Leo: He's like a droid. He's like data saying, "No. I am human."
Larry: I think we're being a little unfair.
Baratunde: Of course we are. There's humor in unfairness. But to be fair, there is, I read someone's account that his movements about the heartland and swing states was less about him running for President than it was trying to reconnect with the user and reconnect with the people and having been blindsided by the election results and knowing that his platform played a result in spreading the misinformation and propaganda around that, he wanted to get back out there and see what's really going on, and he wants his platform to be in the middle of every possible interaction that we have, whether it's you and your family you and your politician, you and your neighbor. Facebook wants to be that human to human interface that we cannot connect without.
Larry: he lives in a bubble inside a bubble. He lives in Silicon Valley, that's bubble enough, he's living at Facebook, that's a bubble, and is CEO and a multi billionaire, even more of a bubble. Anything that any of these guys can do to find out about the real world is probably extremely useful, I give him credit for that.
Leo: I don't know if it's related, but did you hear the story about Mark Zuckerberg and his security detail in San Francisco? Apparently there's a transient who has been harassing Zuckerberg's security detail, and he's been doing it over and over again. You know about harassment, I know, Brianna. On June 14, he was arrested for driving his car towards... Zuckerberg has 16 former Oakland cops surrounding his home in Delores Heights. He drove the car towards him and swerved off at the last minute, he's been jailed before, but they won't let the security detail testify, according to Materiam Ross, because they're former Oakland cops with troubled records. They're afraid of putting them on the stand. There's nothing to say there, just... It's a weird story, it's not really a tech story. Apparently Facebook is considering a one billion pound offer to buy a soccer team. Football club. This is coming from the Sun, so consider the source. Zuckerberg wants to buy a soccer team. Last season's premier runners up. When you have that much money, it's like me saying let's go down to the corner and get a pizza. Today I'd like a soccer club, do you know any we could buy? Let's take a break. There's lots more to talk about, including remember when we were talking about the Nokia 3310 phone? Lovely phone. According to Tech crunch you can buy a special edition commemorating President Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin. I think that's lovely. It's called the caviar. It's $2500. The 3310 is the Nokia phone that brings back the great candy bar style and design. 149,000 Rubles.
Larry: What does that come to in dollars?
Leo: 2500. Look at that. That's pretty.
Larry: That's disgusting.
Leo: That will be valuable someday.
Baratunde: For the people listening on taped delay, we were just assaulted visually by the image of a candy bar phone, with a fake wood panel skill and gold commemorative coin embossed with two tyrannical despot profiles of Putin and Trump. G 20, Germany 2017. It's the Caviar phone, if you want to make your day a little worse or a little more ridiculous, you should Google it and see what I was just forced to see without opting into the experience. This is tremendous. This is horrible.
Leo: I've just been handed this by John Selina who is of course an expert on Pink Floyd, the lyrics of Money go "Money get away, get a good job with more pay, and you're OK. It's a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash, new car, caviar, four star daydream, think I'll buy me a football team." So we now know where Mark Zuckerberg got that idea. It's written! Get the phone, get the team, you're done.
Brianna: Can we talk before the show about career ending mistakes? I'm just imagining if I bought one of these, and people saw me with it.
Leo: I desperately want this phone.
Baratunde: What if people thought you did this ironically?
Leo: I would love to whip this phone out at my next meeting and say "Wait a minute, I got to take a call."
Baratunde: Here's the deal with this phone, it doesn't look like you can tweet with it, so this is the hpone the President should use. It's just got a number bad, there's no keyboard.
Leo: The 3310 does have Internet, but yeah. You'd have to type your tweets on the number pad.
Baratunde: You'd have to do T9. That's a bot someone should create. Trump T9 tweets.
Leo: Might explain covfefe. I don't know. Let's take a break, we'll come back with more. I want to talk about what Baratunde is up to at Medium, because that's starting soon, and something you're going to be interested in, and we'll make a phone time, we'll do fundraising for Briannna Wu. Phone time. That's what they call it, phone time? When you call to make... call time.
Brianna: You get lists of people that have traditionally donated to Democrats before, and you call them, and it's terrible. I hate anyone who works in technology, I hate talking on the phone, so I made a career mistake doing this.
Leo: It's what you do. That's the problem with all of this, one of the things that is wrong with politics in this country, is your job is now fundraising. He has a song, which he sang for Terry Grossz, that he sings during Call Time. Senator Al Franken does the lyrics. It was on Freshair. It' sactually pretty funny. Our show to you today brought to you by Legal Zoom. Legal Zoom is not a law firm, but it's actually something better. When I started TWiT many years ago, I called my friend, Kevin Rose, and said what do I do? He said you want to make an LLC and go to Legal Zoom. It's cheap and easy and you'll be protected. We are still Legalzoom LLC. Legal zoom lets you do the legal work you need to build a business, to protect your family with a will. A lot of this stuff you can do yourself, online, at legalzoom.com. It's really important. I'm learning this that you've got to cross the T's, and dot the i's. One little slip up with a contractor or a misunderstanding can set you back. Legal Zoom is the way to start your business, but it goes beyond Business formation. They have a network of independent attorney who can help you answer those day to day legal questions at a fixed rate. No more $3550 an hour bills. You know what you're paying. I have a cheap lawyer. Things like trademarks and unemployment law, and lease agreements can get very complicated. Don't waste your time trying to warp your head around all the fine print. Use Legal Zoom and focus on your business.,. That's why you got in business, to do the thing you love. You can get legal `help without being billed by the hour. Legal Zoom is not a law firm`, but they will help connect you with attorneys almost every state. Go to legalzoom.com today, and if you use the offer code TWiT in the referral box, you get additional savings. Legalzoom.com. I'm forever grateful we did Legal Zoom. We did our trademarks for them. It's a really great way. I think Lisa did her will. It's nice when you get your will. They send you this box of materials. It makes it very easy to do.
Brianna: I am 90% sure we set up our game studio through them too. The LLC stuff is standard, it's great.
Leo: At the time, they didn't have this referral service which was great, because I wasn't sure what state to do it in. Did you have to deal with this, Brianna? I ended up doing Delaware. It isn't the cheapest, because you still pay business taxes in California, so it doesn't save me any money. I don't know why I did it, but I did. I think I know why. Somebody said if you're ever going to go out and look for Venture Funding, they like it if you're in Delaware.
Larry: I did my non-profit network, and I was able to get it instantly.
Leo: Yeah. It's awesome. I'll tell you. All right. Let's move on. Let's talk about tech. What do you? Rumors? Should we talk about rumors? Apple has rumored that they're not going to do a fingerprint reader on the next iPhone. This quote comes not just from Ming Chi Quo, but from a famous Apple rumor monger, he's an analyst for KGI securities and is in touch with the supply chain in China. He said because you're going to do an edge to edge OLED screen, at least on top of the line, iPhone, they're not going to do a fingerprint reader on it. There were rumors they were going to try to do it through the screen, apparently according to... we've got Mark German who is the king of Apple rumors saying it as well on his Bloomberg technology reporting, they're going to do Face recognition and iris recognition.
Brianna: I have a lot of developer questions about this subject. If you watch the WWDC this year, the state of the union, with the AR kit, they premiered a lot of stuff, but all these sensors. Which only exists on the iPhone Plus, and a lot of the tricks that they used were only on those phones with those depth sensors. I can see them doing this, but it seems touch ID took so long to get to the Mac for Apple pay. I think they're going to have to get the depth sensor technology in there for faces, because it's so vulnerable to holding a picture up to the camera.
Leo: That's what Microsoft does with Hello. This is a Hello, this is a Surface Studio. When I login, I can do it with a face, it does a good job, but because they're using not just 2D measurements, but also 3D sensing, it's like a connect camera in here. It's supposedly more reliable, and won't be fooled by things like a picture of me.
Baratunde: But what if you need to unlock your phone in the dark?
Leo: That's a good question. I guess you'd have to use the password.
Larry: Hello doesn't work a whole lot of the time.
Leo: All the Microsoft stuff I've used is pretty quick.
Larry: I just type in my PIN.
Leo: You wear glasses though. It's possible to over train. You are the hot tech journalist in glasses. Have you let your hair down, Harry?
Baratunde: Is this supposed to be more secure than what Samsung did with face recognition, because I know you can fool that, and the Iris scan, I met some people who fooled it. They just printed out a picture of your eye, put it on a golf ball, and unlocked the phone.
Larry: Why can't they make you blink or something? I've seen some technology where you have to blink, you have to show you're a moving object.
Leo: Some of the software does it. There's a great video of them doing this crack. They took a picture of a guy, not even that much of a close up picture with a point and shoot camera and were able to use that picture from a distance to create an image of his iris which they bent around something, and it fooled the Samsung. You always think of Iris scanning as being the best way to do this, I don't know. This would be a bit of a shock. Apple's not great at that kind of thing. Remember Apple did the same thing with the headphone jack. A year ago we'd say they'll never get rid of the headphone jack.
Brianna: I think the security fact is there's no method of authentication that is 100% secure. Not password, not fingerprint, not anything. This is going to be just as fallible, this is why Apple requires you to periodically enter in your real password when you're doing things like changing the system or anything really critical. I don't have any huge objection to it, it just seems a little shocking considering all the work they did to get Apple pay up to a standard. If Apple pay and secure enclave were to give facial recognition, that's great. I just think they'd have to for the dark problem, they'd have to have something like the connect sensor in there, it can sense in the dark because it's shooting IR beams. It's going to be tough to solve.
Baratunde: This is connected to another story that was in the rundown. If this were Google doing this, I'd be more freaked out, or Facebook, because they'd like to capture as much media information biometric data as possible, and horde it and store it and sell it, but Apple doesn't have that business. If there is a company that is going to be taking 3D scans of my face and I had to choose Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Google, I would choose the least of the four evils with respect to privacy, which I think is Apple in this case.
Leo: There's always this impression that Apple protects your privacy better, but I also hear again and again, and even security experts saying I would never use an Android phone. If you want to be secure, use an iPhone. Do you all agree with that?
Larry: I hear it, but I don't agree. I think everything has a risk, and Androids have risk. There are probably somewhat more risks on Android than there are on iOS. But I don't know. If there is, I'm willing to take it because I use an Android phone.
Leo: No one would say that IOS is flawless or without malware or hacking. I'm not convinced that Apple... I agree with you Baratunde. Apple is not collecting information in the same way because Google makes its money through advertising, apple makes its money through selling hardware. So their business models are different.
Baratunde: Apple makes its money through selling a way of life. That's how Apple makes its money.
Larry: Are we talking security or privacy.
Leo: There's two things. I brought up both.
Larry: The Apple store is a little better at vetting apps than the Google store is. You're more likely to get an insecure app coming onto the Android platform than the IOS.
Leo: I'll raise that point that it's not free of apps.
Larry: AT the end of the day, there's no perfect security. At the end of the day we're all responsible for our own security. Making sure you vet the apps you use, making sure you don't download rogue apps. How many times have you looked for an app and you type in the name of a product and you get another company's app that comes up in search and blindly install it? You could have a rogue app because you were not quite careful enough of what you downloaded. We're still responsible for our behavior.
Brianna: I want to do a legal solution on that. We've got to have a consumer bill of rights when it comes to privacy. We're having companies with predatory practices that take advantage of normal people. As far as the question, iPhone or Android, both are fine operating systems. To me, it's the update issue. Android does not update their operating system frequently enough for me to have confidence.
Larry: The handhelds don't. I have a Pixel phone, it's up to date because it's a Google phone.
Brianna: And I have the Nexus 6P for my second phone. But it's the trust of the people... for me, I look at John Podesta who caused a lot of problems by clicking links, I'm cognizant of that. I think ultimately the answer is we've got to pass protections for consumers. We make sure our drugs, buildings, drones are safe. I think we need to make sure our software can't suck up massive amounts of information about you.
Larry: The technologist who wants to be a legislator, how do you as a legislator keep up with the technology? Congress isn't particularly good at keeping up with technology. There are laws that are agnostic when it comes to technology, so you don't wind up putting the technologists into a box.
Brianna: That's a great question. The way I want to do it is I want to say if you are holding massive amounts of data, you are liable for keeping that data safe. That doesn't mean you can't ever be hacked, but if you are not following the best practices of information security, you can end up in court.
Larry: Congress can say that, but it can't tell them how to make it safe.
Brianna: I think we've got to make external boards that look at that and update it. The we just had a political operation that let out a huge database of voter information out there. They through it on a server with plain text and not even a password. That is massively reckless. They should end up in Court. Someone who happens to get hacked when they're following best practices, you're good. Until there is a legal consequence for this, it's expensive to do information security right.
Leo: So that's two different things. There should be legal consequences for not doing it right and letting stuff out, but I think I also agree with Larry. I wouldn't want Government to proscribe how to do it right or even to say you have to do it right. It strikes me that what Congress should do is make penalties for doing it wrong. Do you understand the distinction I'm making?
Baratunde: As a non-legislator, can I weigh in? Totally uninformed, but theoretically possible: I think the way the lines are being drawn, I would add that there needs to be some regulatory or legislative, basically, the people need to say what belongs to whom. The biggest problems with privacy and security around our private information is that it is not seen as our information. It is now intellectual property of Facebook, intellectual property of Google, and my browser history and my search history, my location history, my message history... doesn't belong to me. It can be shut off at any moment, even though there's a huge chunk of my identity and my value tied up in these services. I don't have any recourse. If they lose it. The property line seems to me to be drawn in the wrong place, whereas if we're talking about my clothes or my home that I'm legally leasing, if someone damaged it or caused it to be damaged, they would have some sort of liability. But their view of me is considered to be theirs as opposed to me.
Brianna: I completely agree with that, although I think it's a very tricky legal question to solve. What I want to do is to put an external port. If you look at standards like H264, that standard is decided by some engineers on a board that look at it and make decisions. I think with that same way, if we can get people that weren't politicians and it's not politicized that's making a set of best standards, the same way electrical engineers come through and update the electrical code for the building we're all sitting in, I think that's the way to do it. So keep it with experts, and don't keep it in politician's hands.
Baratunde: We used to have something like that in Congress.
Leo: They fired them all.
Baratunde: The office of technology assessment was designed to be exactly what you described, so as part of your platform to bring that back?
Baratunde: You have my illegitimate vote from New York.
Leo: I'll vote twice for you. I actually have some selfish reasons. We want to have a pipeline into Congress with you, so please get elected!
Brianna: I will take your call any time.
Leo: I think for everybody in the US and any country watching this, if you're watching this, you're a tech enthusiast, this is an important thing for us to be aware of. We need to have people in Government who understand this and are aware of it.
Larry: You bring up an important quote when you say any country. As you know, I work in Internet safety field. One of the complexities of that, if you look at Facebook and Google, they're based here in the United States, they have hundreds of millions of customers over the world, and to create a regulatory environment in a global marketplace is incredibly difficult. I'm not suggesting Government has no role, I agree Government does have a role to regulate, but when you start regulating the Europeans are doing this data regulation policy, which will have a huge impact on Silicon Valley, even though these companies are located thousands of miles away from Europe. Whether you're the US or any other Government, you have to really think through how your regulations are going to affect things and how do these companies deal with these multiple jurisdictions. States, countries, it's complicated. I'm just saying that it's not as easy as regulating electrical panels.
Baratunde: I think if you asked Zuckerberg in his heart of hearts if you could get him to take some controlled substance and be honest, he would want Facebook to be that global Government. It has more citizens than any nationally bound city state or nation state that we have. Who better to be able to understand global implications and consequences than a global platform like that? I think if you are the biggest, baddest, and most well-armed and well-funded Government, I'm of course speaking of Canada now, then you still don't hold a candle to the reach and influence and sheer connectivity of a pseudo government like Facebook. They could flip a switch, update Facebook, and there could be a Facebook Government.
Larry: Frightening thought.
Leo: Every science fiction novel I know of talks about corporate Governance and the multi nationals are ultimately going to be the...You don't have to stretch too hard or imagine though. It's really true that minus the nuclear weapons, Facebook is in many ways an international power. Of course nuclear weapons make a big difference.
Brianna: In some ways, I feel like tanks and weapons are a less relevant way to influence things today, make cyber warfare, information warfare. All this stuff is all the more relevant. Something I feel strongly about is when we think about serving our country, we think about somebody in a uniform with a gun. That's a fine thing to do, but it's not the only way to solve problems. I do think that we need people that care about technology that understand technology to step up and help improve this policy. Maybe that's run for office yourself, maybe that's finding a candidate that gets it. But we are the ones that understand this, and our current leadership just doesn't.
Leo: I was very saddened by, and I'm sure you all read the Medium post by the guy who was working in... J18? The Government organization designed to streamline Government who finally decided to resign... 18F.
Baratunde: It's part of the US digital service. But I didn't see about this resignation, and I loved what those folks were doing under Obama for sure, and there's still good people deployed in all the agencies doing good work to make Government more effective.
Leo: Noah Cunen who was the infrastructure director... he had written a blog post in November after the election, "Why I'm staying at 18F." He wrote a blog post this week, "Why I'm not staying at 18F." What happened between election and inauguration day, he said the people with the matches are inside the house. He was... it's a sad and scary post because he feels like the issue is not merely that President Trump is unfit, but he is asking for personal loyalty to him of people in Government, and he says this is a significant issue. I gather that he feels lkke it's not going well at 18F. Giving positions of power to people based on favoritism or nepotism or how easily they can be controlled from above is a dangerous norm for our Democracy. The White House's complete disregard of merit and Trump's fetish with personal loyalty is becoming systemic and is getting worse, and he feels like it's getting... this is the thing that scares me. You don't want to chase the smart people, the effective people out. Noah was one of the smart people. The thing is, the timing is extremely bad, because we are more than ever, and I'm concerned about this, faced with cyber warfare from other national Governments, other countries, nation states in an unprecedented way, we're seeing hacking, we're seeing attacks, we're seeing probing of the power grid of nuclear facilities. This is wide spread, everybody knows it's happening. Now more than ever, we need a plan as a country and a way forward to this.
Brianna: Can I tell you a story that isn't being covered at all? here in Boston we have Merk, which is one of the biggest pharmaceutical giants in the planet. They have been shut down since June here in Boston. Their huge facility here, one of the biggest employers in Massachusetts because they were hit by ransomware attack, and every employee there is on paid vacation. You can drive to their parking lot and nobody is there. This is such an unbelievably huge issue. The committee I help to serve on is the science and technology subcommittee. As best as I can tell, they have no plans for this, they are not addressing this in a realistic way. It's like you said, it's utterly terrifying. Here in Boston, we have two nuclear power plants that are in the kill range of Boston, so when I read stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post about these plants being under attack, that is a 10/10 crisis, as far as I'm concerned. It is so frustrating to me that people in both parties have gotten to a point where we're more interested in screaming at each other than keeping the American people safe. This has to be addressed, there are no other options.
Larry: If a guy with a six shooter walks into a savings and Loan office and has a bank robbery, that's a huge deal. The FBI gets involved. You're telling me an entire company has been shut down. What if somebody got in there with a gun and shut it down. This is a very frightening thought that they shut down a company the size of Merk without having to come to this country, let alone show up in their parking lot.
Baratunde: The other side of that distributed network called the Internet. The edge of the sword, starting to be felt whether it's propaganda disinfo or cyber attacks. There's something worth attacking. Multi-billion dollar activities depend on this activity in a way they didn't when it was a darker project.
Leo: Here's a picture from DLA piper which is a multi-national law form. Attention DLAs (this is on a white board as you walk in the door.) All network services are down. DO NOT turn on your computers. Please remove all laptops from docking stations, and keep turned off. NO EXCEPTIONS. You can imagine the IT department in these companies and watching it spread through their network.
Larry: But I love the use of a White board. Technology that was...
Leo: That's the only thing they can use. You can't even print it.
Baratunde: This is like Mr. Robot playing out in real life.
Leo: That's what scares me. It's believed that Petcha, the security experts, say that Petcha is probably Russian, but Wannacry, the same experts believe, came out of North Korea. Two states alone with significant hacking capabilities, not much love for the United States, great interest in disrupting the US are attacking us right now. Actively attacking us, and have been for months, and we have no coherent plan. We have Rudi Giuliani.
Baratunde: It's not funny at all, but the level of disruption that a lot of celebrated... that shook the core of the media Industry is also effecting finances and security. For Brianna being on, I'm thinking more about politics, but it re-sorts the list. This is a way of viewing North Korea, you're a laughing stock, and now you get respect. You're Russia, your economy is 1/20 the size it used to be... you have a lot of people, but the way that you force yourself back to a seat at the table is through this. This is a power up in a video game. You've leveled up.
Leo: This is, so we saw it in the 80's, 90's, and 2000's, that the short term thinking for privately held companies at the publicly held companies became the mode, you want to have great quarterly results, and you do no planning for the future. This has also entered Government. Every person in Congress is concerned about the primary and getting through the primary and getting through the election. What's going to happen in the next year and a half, not what's going to happen in the next five or ten years. The long term stability of the country. I think in the same way this killed the financial markets, and it became a problem with the economy, it's about to become a massive problem for Government.
Larry: It's a huge problem for health care, right? You have this whole Industry that has no idea what their future is, because one party has one plan, and the other party has to repeal that plan, and even if the Republicans are successful in doing that, eventually the Democrats are going to come back in and re-instate some other plan, and how do you run an Industry without any level of long term planning, knowing every four years it's going to flip around?
Brianna: I think that's the beauty of the plan I was talking about earlier. Of making, creating legal consequences if these safeguards aren't in place, because clearly the financial motive, you're not going to spend that money. Talk to engineers. Engineers will tell you if asked to improve security at their offices, and their bosses don't want to spend the money. We have to create an environment where it's worth it in the private Industry for them to keep that safe. I want Americans to lead the World in information security. But go over to the Military side. I was talking to a military engineer just last week. There's a six mile set of power cables here in the United States. If that were taken down, power to a good part of the United states would vanish. That could be taken down with a cyber attack.
Leo: More is concerning, it looks like the Russians have been testing technologies to do this in the Ukraine.
Brianna: And also targeting socially the safety engineers who control the systems, like going after them socially to try and blackmail them, which is another kind of cyber warfare. We have to create incentives for private Industry to do the right thing, but on the Government side, what really concerns me is the more I ask questions about how this code is reviewed for X or Y system, there's not a great answer there. We have got to mandate if you're not going to use open source technology that if you do undergo code review, so we can make sure these systems are working. The answer is right now we don't know.
Larry: Did Megan Smith get replaced?
Leo: No one knows what's going on.
Baratunde: I'm pretty sure Jared Kushner has taken all the positions at this point.
Larry: But Megan actually knew something about technology...
Leo: I'm trying to remember. I think it was Cee Jin Ping, the guy in charge in China, who said specifically that one of the reasons we're succeeding is that we have a long-term plan, and the US is failing because they've not been planning for the future. We've been planning for short-term goals. That is no way to run a country. You can maybe get away with running a company that way, but I don't know if you can run a country that way.
Baratunde: Not for long. That's the definition of short term is that it doesn't work for the long term.
Leo: Yea. I'm going to try to find this quote.
Larry: Well, the thing is, people's lives are at stake. When you think about it, again, not to overdue the insured thing, but if you're planning your life, you want some assurances that this insurance policy that you're paying for is going to be there for you two years, three years, four years down the road. And that Medicare is going to be there for you if you're planning on having Medicare. I don't know how anybody in America has any kind of long term sense of a surety given the fact that we have no idea what's going to be happening year to year.
Leo: Yea. It's something we've built in, unfortunately we built in to our economic system with quarterly reports and stock market results. And now we have apparently built that into our government system with the way the elections work and funding works and now I'm very worried that this is—
Baratunde: Yea, we've got to get more optimistic, guys. I'm feeling really bummed out.
Leo: Are you depressed, Baratunde? It's your fault.
Baratunde: Here's what I'm going to do. Here's what I'm going to do.
Leo: What are you going to do?
Baratunde: I'm going to remind us that our form of government in this nation at least is distributed and we have 50 states. We have 50 laboratories. You can say broad things about the health insurance market, but it's different in every state. California's outcome is very different from Texas and when it comes to cyber security, it's not—the government's never going to do it all, anyway, especially because the internet's not a government tool. It's not like the interstate highway system which is kind of managed by government. It's we have personal responsibility. The companies and platforms have major responsibility. Brianna's going to get in there. We're going to clone here and AI—we'll have AI Congress powered by Brianna Wu, like she's got the seed, the initial kernel for the new artificial intelligence in Congress to get the good laws. But in the meantime, like Massachusetts will be a little better. And, yea, we'll do it. We'll have to do it because we don't have another choice and we can't just be like sad and depressed about it.
Larry: I agree. And it's why people should be running for school board and city council and dog catcher or whatever other positions are available in their community and not just worrying about the president or even Congress. I mean we—
Baratunde: And look, there will be, whether the government does quote unquote the right thing or not, there will eventually be a catastrophic loss on the financial front by a company. And then all of these prices will get paid. And it will be on the backs of all these incremental failures, loss of credit card data, loss of social security card. You didn't hash your passwords and then you lost this database. And then some major thing is going to happen in the form of death most likely or serious property damage or something and folks are going to be like, "Oh, we could have." When it comes out that you could have done something that you didn't do, and it was this marginal cost that you wouldn't expend, that will be the market incentive, sadly, that will get—
Larry: This is supposed to be optimistic? I thought you were going to be optimistic?
Leo: It's going to take a catastrophe but we'll get through this (laughing). I have a feeling that what we're hearing is beginning of Bartunde's, his launch of his exclusive column in Medium. It's called Active Citizenship. When is that going to start?
Baratunde: It's started. June was my first month. I started with a double header piece about why everyone should go to jail, preferably as a visitor, not as a sort of enrollee or a detainee. And this was specific to Riker's Island Jail in New York City but there's general takeaways to be applied to any prison or jail anywhere in the world, but things being done in our name kind of in shadows that we silently cosign on. But I also, I did a huge data detox a few months back and I've been sitting on that and kind of the things I've learned trying to have better data hygiene and then privacy hygiene. Super difficult, super challenging, like asking individual users to just be better. It's kind of like saying just say no. It's not the most effective thing for most people. So, yea, I'll be writing about citizenship and all its forms, some digital, some IRL and some hybrid in between. But it's kicked off. I'll be writing it until the end of the year.
Leo: And it is part of something pretty cool which is the new paid—don't show my credit card number. Thank you. Too late. That's ok. I'll be cancelling that credit card now, but I was just about to pay for the new paid version of Medium which is pretty exciting. So, you remember, Evan Williams said, "We're going to reinvent Medium. We're not going to have ads on it anymore. We're going to have memberships." $5-dollars a month that I just paid and I encourage others to do so, so you can see. So, your stuff is available only as a member exclusive.
Baratunde: That's correct.
Leo: I think that's smart. I think that's smart.
Baratunde: Yea, it's a new model.
Leo: Smart, not of you, smart of Ev Williams and Medium because I tell you what. I will pay $5 bucks a month just to read you.
Baratunde: Aw, thanks, Leo.
Baratunde: It's a worthy experiment on their part. I'm glad that their actually putting money and sort of decisions where their mouths have been. We've seen, you know, the ad model dominates every form of media right now and so, it's good for them I think to at least try something else because the incentives that online ads create in terms of click-bait and headline writing and fake news, all the stuff we've seen, is pretty clear. So, what would happen if you tried this radical notion of directly paying for access to information. Not everything should go that way, but it's—
Leo: One of the things I love about new media is how we're trying all sorts of different ways, figuring out new ways of making this work. Because media's important. Journalism is important. Voice are disparate, are important. Your voice is important, Baratunde. And so, I think it is important we figure out ways to make this work. Now, if I can just figure out a way to cancel my credit card while I'm doing this show (laughing), I'll be fine.
Brianna: Oh, no.
Leo: That's not going to happen. Go ahead. Buy some shoes for yourself.
Brianna: Can I say something about Medium before we move on?
Brianna: I think it's really important to recognize companies that do good things and there are companies, like woman in tech talk. Don't go work there. Stay away from these people. Medium is consistently—I hear good things from that company from people that work there and I love it that they're sponsoring networking events for women during WWDC every single year. They didn't do it this year for some reason, but in previous years, it's been some of the best networking I've done. And I just—everyone I've talked to at that company is awesome. So, that is a company I feel very comfortable about giving $5-dollars a month to.
Leo: You know, we needed—this is good. We need to do this more often. We talk enough about companies that are badly run and sexist and harassing. Let's honor companies that are well run, treat their employees well. That is great. I like that, Brianna. Again, you've broken new ground. I think that's a really good idea. If we find a company that is internally well run, that its employees are treated with dignity, that it hires a diverse workforce, let everybody know and let's patronize those companies.
Baratunde: And Oscars for decency.
Leo: I like it. I like it. I'll tell you, one company I think runs that way, I think pretty well runs that way. By the way, it just pisses me off because I complain all the time about how when you enter passwords and credit card numbers, they just show the dots and you can never know if you did it right. Medium must have listened. So, they showed my credit card number in its entirety.
Leo: Why didn't you use dots (laughing)? The one time, one time. Why would you use dots? Who's looking when you're typing in your credit card? No one's looking. Everyone was looking.
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Larry: You know, if I had that mattress, I got a sleep score last night of 78.
Leo: You need a better sleep score. You need a better sleep car.
Larry: So, they've created this app and this device, you stick it under any mattress, including the Casper, right? And it analyzes my sleep. And last night I only got a 78.
Leo: That's pathetic, Larry. Can I have a Casper sent to you? It comes in a very compact box.
Larry: Yea, I can put my sensor under there, and if my sleep score goes up to 90—
Leo: You'll know. You've got the metrics. Free shipping. By the way, it's the kind of thing they did. They really did test it. Free shipping. Free returns. Not only in the US and Canada, but they just added the UK. So, I know there will be many listeners in Great Britain, in the UK who are saying, "Oh, I want a Casper. But it's annoying. You do these ads. I can't buy one." Now you can buy one. Considering we spend a third of our lives on a mattress, you've got to get a better night's sleep. Get a better sleep score right now with Casper.
Brianna: I have a Casper bed for my dog, Rocket. So, I want to like--
Leo: They do. They have dog beds. I know.
Brianna: They do. I want to see what my dog's sleep score is.
Leo: See what Rocket's sleep score is.
Brianna: It's got to be high.
Leo: (Laughing) Actually, dogs and cats have a very high sleep score.
Baratunde: That's all they do. That's their profession.
Leo: It's pretty much their job.
Baratunde: I have a Casper Mattress as well.
Leo: Do you?
Baratunde: Yea, to segue us into another story in the line-up—
Leo: Hold on. Let me finish the ad.
Baratunde: Oh, you're not done. I'm so sorry.
Leo: I'm not done yet. I've just got to give out the address. Casper.com/twit. And a reminder that if you use the promo code TWiT you get $50-dollars towards any mattress purchase. Casper. I know, it felt like I had done the ad, but I wasn't quite done. Casper.com/twit. Use the promo code TWiT. Some terms and conditions apply and you can read about them. Look at that. What is the—I love the numbers on the front page. Go to casper.com/twit. They're counting up dreams, nights, sheep counted.
Leo: Go ahead, Baratunde. What's the segue?
Baratunde: This try before you buy model of ecommerce that Amazon is also pushing more aggressively too with their Amazon Wardrobe.
Leo: Did you see that? I thought that was very interesting.
Baratunde: And all these other companies, they don't even charge you until you return. So, the basic idea being you get, whether it's for children's clothes or men's fashion or women's fashion, you get a box of clothes and you can try on a bunch of them and send them back, and then you get charged based on what you keep rather than the sort of assumption that you probably won't return, so you're overpaying for things you don't actually need.
Leo: So, there are other companies that do this, but Amazon's doing something interesting. The more you buy, the less you pay.
Larry: Yea, you get a discount.
Leo: So, that's smart. Plus, they're Amazon. Now, I have to tell you. This jacket that I'm wearing, I got in a box. I got it from Bombfell which is a sponsor. They're one of the companies that does this. I love this jacket. And I love that method because I don't want to go shopping. I hate to shop for clothing. I don't mind shopping for computers, memory chips. I'll shop at any hardware store in the country as long as you want. But they have—I went shopping with my wife the other day. In stores where women buy clothes, they have a chair. They have the husband chair.
Larry: Male chair.
Leo: Am I wrong?
Brianna: They do.
Leo: And there's actually an Instagram account that features men sleeping in those chairs (laughing).
Larry: What's their sleep score?
Leo: At malls, looking bored, looking depressed, looking tired. So, yea, do yourself a favor.
Brianna: I don't understand why you would bring your husband along on that trip. I would never do that. I would never do that.
Larry: I never buy clothes in a store because part of it is I have an odd inseam. Like, it's 29 and it's impossible to find a 29 inseam. There are only even numbers in stores. Plus, when I go to Costco, they only have extra-large because they sell food in extra-large containers, so, they have clothes in extra-large as well. And so it's so much easier to buy it online.
Leo: Here's the—it's Instagram. It's Miserabl_Men. Miserable underscore Men. And it's just pictures of guys like waiting, waiting for their wives, just—this is how common this is. You can do a whole Instagram feed of men waiting for their gals. I'm so tired. I'm so bored.
Brianna: Oh, no.
Larry: The worst thing is the women are getting these great clothes and these men look horrible.
Leo: (Laughing) I know. That's what I'm saying.
Baratunde: Yea, what's stopping you from living a better life?
Leo: By the way, look at this guy. Not only is he relaxing, his belt is unbuckled.
Baratunde: I don't think we can blame that on his wife shopping. I think something else is going on.
Leo: That might be another matter entirely. So, to get back to your point, Baratunde, I think Amazon really—Amazon is about to eat the world in commerce, don't you think?
Baratunde: They would love for every dollar you spend to pass through them it seems.
Leo: That's what Ben Thompson said on Stratechery, that Amazon, ostensibly Amazon's mission statement is to be the most customer centric company in the world. Ben said, "No. They're mission statement is to get a piece of every economic transaction that occurs." And well on their way. They make it easy. I just got the—by the way, I am now convinced the best gadget of the year, the Echo Show.
Larry: Oh, I haven't gotten that yet.
Baratunde: Wait, is that the camera?
Leo: No, that's the Look. That's the one that ties into this Amazon Prime Wardrobe, where it takes a picture of your clothes. And by the way, that's brilliant marketing.
Baratunde: What's the Echo Show?
Leo: The Echo Show's the one with the screen.
Baratunde: Oh, right.
Leo: It's a screen, camera, microphone. It's just, it's a regular Echo.
Baratunde: A tablet, basically.
Leo: But adding the screen, you can make video calls. My mom and I, I've been dropping in on my mom. And that's really fun. You never know what you're going to see (laughing). No, no, she loves it. In fact, I woke her up from her nap the other day. I said, "Mom. Mom." Because you say, "Drop in on Mom's Show," or whatever you named it. And then it makes a little bleep on her show and then you can talk to her. "Mom? Mom?"
Brianna: Yea, but she has to accept the call.
Leo: No, well you don't have to. You can turn that feature off. She's decided to let me do that.
Brianna: Oh, that's scary. Yea.
Leo: But you don't have to have that turned on.
Baratunde: One of my friends—so, I had an Echo in my home. My girlfriend didn't like to visit when that thing was around.
Leo: Oh, that's a reason to get rid of it.
Baratunde: For some reason, she didn't like the idea of a constantly listening microphone just on the table, under the TV. So, it's at an office that I use. And a friend of mine called me just in the middle of the day and the Echo was like, "You've got a call." So, then I rang him. It's this very strange—we've gotten so used to managing our communications, right? We want to—if someone calls, like there must be an emergency. Someone died or there's been an attack. You text and you set these things up. So, to just have a device that's not even a phone ring, and there's another person and they're in their living room and you're in your like conference room or living room, it's this—I don't know. It's kind of beautiful, kind of weird. I haven't decided how much. Am I creeped out by it or am I kind of thrilled by the sort of spontaneity of just like, "Hey, let's ring up Zane in his living room." And he's like, his kids are running around. His parents-in-law are popping over. He's like, "Now is not a good time." I'm like, "You answered your Echo, dude." So, I don't know. Does the Look have the same interruption but just with pictures?
Leo: The Show has the same. It's even worse because it doesn't have to pick up.
Baratunde: I'm sorry, the Show.
Leo: It just starts. He gets to say who he can let have that happen, but you know, because it's an intercom.
Baratunde: But for anywhere in the world.
Leo: For any other Echo in the world.
Leo: I can't wait. Drop in on Baratunde. Baratunde, this is your conscience speaking.
Baratunde: I can see that being a lot of fun. It's like the new party line. You can link up a—can you do more than? Is it just one to one or can you build like a bridge and have more?
Leo: Well, no, that would be fun. Good idea.
Baratunde: Could you do house parties? Could you do listing parties of virtual family reunions?
Leo: Yea, wouldn't that be cool? That's a great idea.
Larry: My kids would kill me if I gave them one of these.
Leo: My son did. So, Michael has—so, because of this, I replaced a black cylinder with this new Echo Show. So, I put the black cylinder in Michael's room. And now I can say to my Echo, "Drop in on Michael." And then I say, "Michael, wake up." Did that once. It's now muted (laughing).
Brianna: I have to ask though, I mean the looks of it though, it looks like something that was designed on a PlayStation One. It's that polygonal and blocky.
Leo: I know. A lot of people think it's ugly. I love it. It fits right on my desk. I can do things like show my front door. Show my backyard because it's got a screen now. Video calls. $230 bucks is one of the negatives. Get the white one, then it doesn't look—I don't know. Here it comes. We're bringing it in. It's unplugged so it won't do anything. It's kind of ugly. I don't know.
Baratunde: It's like a router.
Larry: So, to see your backyard, you have to have a camera in your backyard.
Leo: My mom wasn't sure about that. She said, "Oh, can I see my backyard with this?" I said, "Do you have a camera in your backyard?" She said, "No." I said, "Well, no, you need a camera."
Larry: Does it have to be an Amazon camera or can –
Leo: No, it can be any camera. So, it works with Nest. It works with Ring. I can see the Ring Video Doorbell on my front door. I can see Nest cameras in the house. Actually, that was another thing. My wife did veto the Nest. I had Nest IQ cameras all over the house. And she said, "No more. No cameras in the house." So, it's behind me. It's right over here. Oh, no, up there. We put it back there.
Larry: I'm going to mess with my dog right now. I can go call my dog.
Leo: Yea, see, you can do it on your phone, right? Now you have this device. I just think it's like—this is going to replace the desk phone in offices all over the country. And so, I don't think that that's—Brianna, do you think that's horrible? That you wouldn't want that on your desk?
Brianna: I think it looks a lot better in white. It looks a lot better in white.
Leo: Yea, don't get the black one.
Brianna: I would consider that.
Larry: You can't call a landline or a cell phone. You have to call another Echo.
Leo: No, although I have to think they're working on that because Google Home is going to do that.
Baratunde: IP. Everything's IP now anyways so it shouldn't matter.
Leo: Our friend, Mike Elgin, will be on the show next week, wrote a really good article in which he said, "Just in the same way that the cable companies are going from being television companies to internet companies, that's going to happen to the phone companies too." It's all about data. Why do you need a phone company? It's just data.
Baratunde: Yea, it's a data company. Yea.
Leo: So, phone companies just like cable companies have to face this reality. We're now going to become an internet service provider. That's our new business.
Larry: Well, AT&T. That's what they did.
Leo: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, that's ultimately all they'll be is data companies. I'm sure they're thinking that with 5G and so forth.
Larry: Remember when you used to have to pay for phone calls on your cell phone, you paid by the minute? They give away phones. They give away texts. They charge for data.
Leo: I know. Right. It's all about the data.
Larry: It's all about the data.
Leo: And as you point out, Baratunde, how is this or a Google Home, how is it different? It's not. It's just all data.
Baratunde: Yea, it's a connected IP device. You can do anything you want on that connection.
Leo: And better, frankly.
Baratunde: Right? The Caviar Phone still wins out in my book.
Leo: There's a good reason to have a phone.
Larry: Caviar Phone (laughing).
Leo: In Soviet Union, phone calls you, yea. Echo calls you.
Larry: If only you could actually hear what the two of them said to each other on that phone, right? If you could actually get a—
Leo: I don't know how you would do that.
Larry: I don't know.
Leo: Amazon Prime is on pace to become more popular than cable TV. What a surprise.
Larry: You know, their video is getting better and better. I actually am finding myself watching Prime Video more than I used to.
Leo: Here's the graph.
Leo: This is from Recode. This is the top bar, pay TV households, which is, which was flat until 2014 and then oddly started to plummet as people started to cut the cable, cut the cord. Here is Amazon Prime households. Now, this is an estimate because Amazon doesn't give the number but it's just a matter of maybe a year before those two lines cross, isn't it?
Baratunde: And think about—think about the dollars behind each of those curves. So, the cable household is paying, I don't know, an average of $120 a month probably or something maybe for cable. And the opportunity to extract more money from them is limited just by what that cable company offers, maybe an occasional pay-per-view fight. Maybe you get someone to upgrade their package. Maybe you add phone service or internet service, but there are these step functions. There's not a lot of micro-purchasing or incremental kind of revenue being added whereas Amazon Prime, which is what, $100 bucks a year? And then the purpose of Prime is to get you to spend more dollars. Like the more you spend, the more you get out of that. So, the return on that $100 is way higher to Amazon than the return on the $100 that goes to Comcast or Charter or whoever. They're already winning. If you just think about how much money they're sucking out of the houses that are Prime members, versus how much money a cable company is sucking out of houses who are subscribers.
Leo: And this ties back to the Echo, because the Echo really is just a device for ordering stuff on Amazon Prime, right?
Baratunde: These are Trojan horses. Prime is a Trojan horse to take your money.
Leo: And interesting because Jeff Bezos has trained millions of people to say the word A-L-E-X-A hundreds of times, or dozens of times a day. That is a brand.
Larry: Thank you for not saying the word.
Leo: No, I won't say. I say Echo all the time because I don't want to say the A word. But think about that. That is a powerful brand name he's created just by repetition. I imagine they'll use that in some interesting way. This guy—it's hard to imagine. This guy is you know, another Tony Stark.
Baratunde: Yea, and just to be clear with that Prime number. So, you pay $99 for Prime. You get like expedited shipping on other stuff you buy from Amazon. You also get their video service.
Leo: And music.
Baratunde: You also get music.
Leo: You get books.
Baratunde: Maybe storage now I think is thrown in actually for Prime users.
Leo: Photo storage, unlimited photo storage.
Baratunde: And you get discounts on all kind of other stuff in Amazon. So, it's not like a video versus video service. It's like how do I take your money versus how do I take your money.
Larry: Well, what you do is you get in the habit of using Amazon for every purchase and not even shopping around.
Baratunde: Which makes them the one company, the one retailer of them all.
Larry: I did an analysis. So, one year I had to pay sales tax back before Amazon charged California Sales Tax. I had to actually estimate how much I had spent on Amazon. So, I went online and I looked for the orders. And I was shocked at how much money I had spent that year. And there's no way, there's nowhere in the world except maybe the Toyota dealer that I bought my car from and then, it's only every few years, right, that I've spend anywhere near that amount of money from a merchant.
Baratunde: From one company.
Larry: It's incredible.
Leo: Get ready. Want some more numbers? Here's some more numbers. Go ahead, Brianna, yea.
Brianna: No, I was just going to say, don't you think though Amazon like—I have cut the cord on everything. I don't own a phone, like a traditional phone. Don't you think Amazon as far as their video service is the worst out there of any of them? Because they're—
Leo: Worst how? Quality or content? Worst how?
Brianna: Yea, the quality of the original content. Like they had an exclusive deal to get 24 on there and I really like that but it's like I just—if I weren't already subscribing to it because of free shipping and stuff like that, I would never do it because I don't think the original content is there.
Leo: I think Netflix is the winner for original content but I have to say, there are some really good shows. I mean Transparent.
Baratunde: Yea, Transparent's probably their—in my own video usage, Transparent is kind of why I get excited about Amazon. I feel like they also had the Man in the High Castle.
Leo: Yea, that was ok.
Baratunde: And then I use them for—they let you add on STARZ and I'm in love with this show called Power and I go to them for that. And occasionally I'll just see what they have that comes with Prime so I don't have to pay for it on another—
Leo: But you're right. A lot of the TV shows are not quite up to the Netflix or HBO standard. I've been watching I Love Dick.
Larry: Yea, I've been watching that.
Leo: I don't know. I'm not sure that's for me. But you know, the other thing Amazon is doing is movies and remember, Manchester by the Sea? They put up the money for that. I think they've got a couple of new movies. That's kind of interesting. I don't know.
Larry: I actually think that Amazon has got some pretty decent programming. I mean, not everything, but I think they've got some good. I loved Alpha House when it was on the air.
Baratunde: Oh yea, that was great.
Leo: John Goodman as the Congressman,
Larry: Yea, you have to watch that before you go to Washington
Baratunde: Yea you do.
Leo: Are you going to share a house with John Goodman when you move up there, Brianna?
Baratunde: Everybody does.
Brianna: That would be great. That would be great. Oh, my God.
Leo: Apparently, I didn't know this but I learned that from the show that a lot of members of Congress can't afford, don't want to buy houses in Washington or can't afford to rent them. So, they all live together. And there was a liberal house.
Larry: Chuck Schumer had to live in a house with a bunch of guys.
Leo: But the funny thing about the show is it's a Republican house, right?
Larry: Right, in the show it's a Republican house.
Leo: They're all conservatives.
Brianna: That sounds like a great reality show.
Larry: Oh, it's very funny. Even watch Michael Moore's Where to Invade on Amazon Prime.
Leo: There's a lot of free movies and stuff. You're right, it's not Netflix.
Baratunde: It's nowhere near Netflix.
Leo: But that doesn't have to be. That's a small portion of what Amazon Prime is about. I mean, really, mostly it's about 2-day free shipping, right?
Leo: Anyway, I was going to give you some numbers of Amazon Prime. So, as you might predict, Amazon Prime doesn't do all that well in lower income people. It's the lowest among households that make less than $41,000 a year. But in households that make more than $112,000 a year, presumably very valuable households to Amazon, 82% are Amazon Prime members.
Larry: Is that right? It seems incredible.
Baratunde: It's like how you know you have money.
Leo: Yea. Well, you don't have Prime. Obviously, yea. But what that shows you, if you're thinking about it, Amazon's business and I know Jeff Bezos doesn't spend a waking moment not thinking about the business, is all the growth is going to happen at the other end and isn't Amazon now in a war versus Walmart?
Larry: Walmart, yea. They bought Jet, didn't they, Walmart? Did Walmart buy Jet?
Leo: Yea, Walmart bought Jet. Somebody had to. Amazon bought Whole Foods. That will tell you something.
Leo: So, this article is presuming that at some point, Amazon's going to reach out in some way, because there's no growth. There's very little growth possible in the upper income sector.
Larry: Well, there will be after they get their tax cuts, they'll have money to spend.
Leo: (Laughing) A lot more of us in the 1% soon. Anyway, it's clearly a success. Amazon is on a tear.
Larry: Are they going to lower the prices at Whole Foods? That would be great.
Leo: Look at that. There you go. NPR, Amazon lowers Prime membership rate for low -income customers. So, they're already doing it.
Larry: How do you prove you're low income?
Leo: So, I have to give Amazon my tax returns every year. I don't know. Prime Day is—
Baratunde: Oh, if you actually are receiving government assistance.
Leo: Prime Day starts tomorrow night at 6:00 PM Pacific. Yea. I have never participated in Prime Day. This is the 3rd one. But this is, again, brilliant marketing.
Baratunde: Is this like their own Black Friday in July?
Larry: And be careful, by the way. There are a lot of deals that are not great on Prime Day. I actually looked last year and shop critically when you're doing it if you're doing it.
Brianna: You know who does a really good round-up is Jackie over at Wire Cutter which was just acquired by the Times. They always kind of suss out and find out the ones that are good. So, that's where I go by.
Leo: There you go. Amazon Prime Day 2017, what to expect and how to find the best deals. Adam Burakowski writing this one for The Wire Cutter.
Baratunde: I literally spent time on that site. This is one of my favorite sites on the internet, and they have a home section now. And I think I just read everything. I just, like I skimmed over. Like, maybe I need emergency solar powered flashlights with AM/FM radios. There's choices and they write so well about it that I made me like respect. Like, gosh, I should probably consider one of those things. So, The Wire Cutter's my new internet fiction.
Larry: I learned a lesson about discount shopping. I was at—I've never actually gone to the Good Will in Palo Alto. I go there a lot of times to donate, but this time I actually went shopping there. It turned out that there were several items I looked at, and I went online to check them. New versions of them were cheaper on Amazon then the used ones were at Good Will, which tells you, you have to be a critical shopper.
Leo: Here's the tally from Wire Cutter from last year's Prime Day. Of 7,950 deals, only 64 were good deals.
Larry: Wow, see?
Leo: So, your instincts, Larry—
Baratunde: So, basically, it's a big lie.
Leo: It's a lie.
Baratunde: Like percentage wise speaking, it rounds up to 100% BS. Prime Day is 100% BS.
Larry: It's like shopping at Costco. You assume everything is cheap, but it isn't. You have to look.
Leo: Right. Right. Yea.
Baratunde: That's what our economy's built on, folks. Ok, great.
Leo: Lies, lies and more lies. All right, let's take a break. Baratunde Thurston is here. It's always great to have you. Look for his new regular column on Medium. You can just use my credit card number to sign up and that way—
Baratunde: Put a subsidy. Thank you.
Leo: Yea. The first 100 people that use my credit card number, you're in. And the rest of you, well, you snooze, you lose (laughing). That's Brianna Wu. You know what? I should give you a little contribution too. Let's just pretend this is one of your phone days and we should—can I contribute at briannawu2018.com? Because I'd sure like to.
Brianna: You can go to supportbrianna.com and it's all right there and yea. I super appreciate it. The thing is, it's not enough to tweet about this. It's not enough to Facebook about it. We've got to take actions. So, pick one of three things. Either run for office, either donate time to somebody that's doing things you like, or donate money to somebody that's doing things you like. We can't just talk about this. We've got to take action.
Leo: And you do not have to be a resident of the Massachusetts district to donate to the campaign, but alas, you do to have to vote for Brianna. When is the primary?
Brianna: It's next year. They haven't had it set yet, because the guy I'm running against doesn't usually have challengers. He's just automatically voted in, so—
Leo: What? We need to have a primary? What (laughing)?
Baratunde: He's got the auto-update feature on.
Larry: Are millions of people coming down from Canada to vote for you? Is that going to happen?
Brianna: I don't think—I can't endorse that.
Leo: That is not allowed. No, Brianna is not encouraging that.
Larry: Yea, I know.
Leo: But you may donate.
Brianna: I would appreciate that. I promise you, I will have the EFF on speed dial. I will really try to turn a lot of these polices around. And just something I have to tell people, this isn't like a boil the ocean solution. There are only 8 people that control the votes in the science and technology sub-committee. Getting 8 people that know what they're talking about is not an insurmountable goal. So, you know, if your congressperson sucks, consider running for office yourself and serve on that committee with me. It will be great. We'll have a good time.
Leo: And I see that this donation page has something that's called Fast Action. Is this something that makes it easy for you to participate and donate to other members of Congress, or?
Brianna: I would assume so. It's probably linked with other lists.
Leo: So, you don't know.
Brianna: No, I've never donated to myself through that.
Leo: (Laughing) That would be dumb.
Baratunde: Maybe you should.
Brianna: Yea, maybe I should.
Baratunde: You've got to walk yourself through your user's path, you know.
Brianna: That's right. That's right.
Leo: Just a buck. That's all it takes. Also, Larry Magid is here. And Larry is, of course, at his own website, Larry Magid.
Larry: Well, larrysworld.com and connectsafetly.org as well.
Leo: And then connectsafely.org and safekids.com. You've got something coming up. Why don't you—here's your chance to plug that.
Larry: Oh, well, it's not really coming up. Meaning the—
Leo: You said you wanted to mention something.
Larry: Yea, well, I just—so, we've all heard about Donald Trump's cyber bullying. Everybody here's heard about it, right? Is that a touch screen?
Leo: Yes, it is.
Larry: And you know, the fact that I think that whatever you think of Donald Trump, and I bet there are people in our audience who like them for his polices. And that's a legitimate thing to be. But that doesn't mean you have to support his behavior. And so, the point of this article and podcast is to examine what happens if you are a Trump supporter, you admire his policies but you do not admire the way in which he treats women, the way in which he demeaned his opponents during the campaign. How do you talk to your children? How do you explain that the most powerful person in the world, who our family may have voted for, is acting badly and we don't want you to act that way? So, I sort of explored that with some of the leading experts on cyber bullying in the world. People like Patti Agatston, head of the International Bullying Prevention Association and Justin Patchin who runs the Cyberbullying Research Center and Rosalind Wiseman who wrote the book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls and really exploring how you talk to your children. And it's kind of a fascinating set of advice that shows up in both the column and the podcast, that you can separate out his behavior from his policies. And I know a lot of people don't agree with his policies and that's fine too. And I also make the point that liberals have to be careful not to fall into the same trap. So, I was aghast that many of my Facebook friends made fun of Chris Christy last week for being on the beach. And they were absolutely right to criticize the fact that he was on a public beach that was closed to the rest of the state. But then they started with fat shaming and fat jokes. And I think that is very annoying. You can criticize Christy. You can criticize Trump. You can criticize anybody, but stick to the issues and not start demeaning them as human beings and their physical characteristics. So, that's kind of some of the things. You know, I think we need a more civil society regardless of the political realm which probably needs to be shaken up as well. But I say, Brianna, when you get to Congress, treat everybody nicely, even your opponants.
Brianna: I try to. One of the beautiful things about running is I talk to Trump supporters every single day when I do campaign events. And it's really—and you see them as people, right? You hear about why they voted that way and I don't agree with it. But there's a real economic desperation there that I understand. So, I think you're dead on. And it makes me really uncomfortable when even—and I'm a feminist. When feminists are attacking them for their physical characteristics, I'm deeply uncomfortable with that. So, I completely agree with everything you said.
Leo: There are some fine Chris Christy memes out there that don't entirely cover fat shaming.
Baratunde: So, a couple of quick notes. Brianna, I just gave you some money. Please spend it wisely.
Brianna: Oh, thank you. Thank you.
Baratunde: And Larry, you have experts on cyberbullying on. When can we expect Melania Trump to join you on your show?
Larry: So, I sent her a letter. I wrote a column.
Leo: That is her issue.
Larry: Yea, I wrote her a column right after the inauguration saying help. And I gave her some advice. And then I mailed her a copy of Connect Safely: Parent's Guide to Cyberbullying. We don't have a spouse's guide to cyberbullying but we have a parent's guide. And she's a parent. And you know, she never got back to me. Not even a form letter.
Leo: She's busy.
Larry: So, she hasn't responded.
Baratunde: She's probably very busy, you know, implementing her own policies.
Larry: Anytime she needs some advice, I'm happy to give it to her.
Baratunde: Flat rate.
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Leo: I love this panel. I think you guys should just move in and we'll just stay here for the whole next five years or whatever. No, because, Brianna, you probably, we won't be able to have you on. Well, I think we can have you on when you're a member of Congress. Why not?
Brianna: Yea, there's no law against it, so.
Baratunde: Have you ever had an elected official on TWiT, Leo?
Leo: Yea, we have from time to time. There was a guy running for Lieutenant Governor of California. Didn't realize that TWiT was just this podcast thing. He stopped by and sometimes we get people confused about whether they can use this to garner votes, but yea. And I have to say, I think it's important to get politicians talking to audiences that are interested in technology.
Baratunde: Unleash the chatroom on them. That'd be a great education.
Leo: I wouldn't want to do that to anybody.
Larry: You know, the funny thing is—so, I've been a tech writer as you know, Leo, for more than 30 years. And when I first started, I remember telling somebody, "I've got good news and bad news." He said, "What's the good news?" "The good news is I just got a column in the LA Times," back when newspapers really mattered and they may matter again. "Hey, what's the bad news?" "Now I've got to write about computers." And it has become so much fun the last few years now that technology and policy are so connected that we're no longer just talking about gadgets. We're talking about things that really—not that I think gadgets don't matter, but we're talking about things that really matter to people. And that's why I think, Brianna, your candidacy is so important, the fact that there really is a nexus between technology and how our lives are going to go forward and it's time for government to pay attention to it. And it's just so—I don't know. It's amazing to me how much time we spent today talking about policy.
Leo: It's great. I'm glad we did.
Larry: And how much time I end up writing about it.
Brianna: Yea, no, it's great. I just want to say, I can 100% endorse any politician coming on this show. I've had—actually, your listeners have reached out to me about various levels of policy and I've been able to like show them legislation we're thinking about. And they've given input on it because of their expertise in cybersecurity or different areas. And it's gotten to be better because of that. I mean, you have an amazing audience. So, it's for me as a politician, it's well worth my time to come here.
Leo: That's encouraging to me because I think there was for a while amongst tech fans, this kind of—it was kind of fashionable to say, "Oh, government doesn't work. Forget it. They'll never understand. They're just dummies. I'm not going to vote. I'm not going to participate because it's meaningless." And it makes me sad, because I'll tell you what. If you don't, then you don't get to complain. So, I'm really glad to hear that people who watch this show are contacting you and are getting involved. I think we all have to.
Larry: Although, I get hate mail from some readers and listeners who get angry at me when I get into political subjects.
Leo: You get that too? That's fine. I understand that. You know, I think sometimes talking about these hot button topics, you're going to get that. I think that shouldn't deter us from talking about them. Not to the exclusion of the Samsung Note 7 returning or the Bixby button. Anybody want to talk about a gadget? Any gadget? I'll take any. Actually, as long as we're talking, we should talk about July 12th which is a day of protest.
Baratunde: A day that shall live in infamy.
Leo: We've done this before, right, Baratunde? You've been involved in previous boycotts and internet activism.
Baratunde: Put this black badge on your site.
Leo: Remember that?
Baratunde: It's a black arm band for internet thing. This is about net neutrality and we have a new FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai who is against some of the rules established back in 2015 that would make sure that the internet remained a relatively fair place as far as treating a bit like a bit like a bit. So, the FCC doesn't have to listen to anybody. They have the votes to go which way the commissioner wants. But, a strong public showing by people and many companies have signed on including Google and Facebook, to say, "We would prefer a fair internet to one that can be totally bought and sold to the extent that you have preferential treatment, priority access and create this at minimum 2-tiered internet of like the fast land and then the crap lane." So, yea.
Leo: So, can we go to this well too often? Because remember when we did this last year for SOPA. There was Internet Freedom Day. It seems like we've done this a few times. It's been successful. In fact, the whole issue of net neutrality probably wouldn't even exist if the previous chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, hadn't been slammed by millions of comments, telling him he should use Title 2 and assert the right of the FCC to enforce net neutrality. That's what's at stake today, the reversal of that existing FCC policy to support net neutrality. And the comments begin once again. Now, there was—the history of this is a little checkered. Remember, the opened for comments, and then they were slammed by people commenting and then they said, "Oh, this is a DDoS attack." And they shut the comments down, never offering—the FCC never offered any evidence that it was in fact a DDoS attack. The DDoS was a lot of people having an opinion about it.
Larry: Didn't John Oliver have something to do with this?
Leo: John Oliver created a website, something the FCC, screw the FCC? F the FCC, something like that. So, I guess July 12th is the Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. A lot of companies, even Netflix, which for a while said, "Oh, we don't net neutrality anymore. We already won."
Larry: One thing that's interesting is that I actually interviewed Evan Greer who's kind of the spokesperson for this campaign. And she was saying that a lot of companies are not going to go dark. They're just going to encourage you to take some action.
Leo: SOPA Day, we thought about going dark. Reddit went dark. A lot of sites went dark. We went black and white because—
Baratunde: Oh, monochrome, yea.
Leo: Monochrome, and I think that that was—my decision to do that was more because I felt like we needed to cover the day and we needed to talk about it on that day, but you tuned in and you saw black and white video, I think it would remind you that something was going on, right? I don't know what we're going to do on July 12th. I guess, maybe we'll do that again.
Larry: I like the idea of giving people a tool to weigh in, donate or do some action as opposed to simply going dark. I think that's like a clever tactic.
Baratunde: Yea, and I think we're in a season of heightened political action and there's a case, a new twist to be made on this case. Someone who is hyper-politically active with this group, I'm trying to get their name, media mobilizing project, said freedom of speech doesn't mean much without the freedom to be heard. And I think that if you look at anything from all sides, left or right. The Tea Party, Occupied, Black Lives Matter, Women's March, Truth March, Science March, other abstract ideas that apparently need defending in these current times march, that those new ways of organizing and distributing power essentially is because we all have a right to connect to each other and we're not relegated to a crap lane on the internet. So, if you care about any of those things in addition to a more sound technical infrastructure, you should be in support of net neutrality.
Larry: Well, you know what I don't understand? Maybe somebody in the chatroom can help me out. I don't understand who benefits from dropping network neutrality other than the big internet service providers.
Brianna: That's it.
Larry: I mean usually—I mean is there anybody?
Leo: So, this is interesting because—
Baratunde: There's a case to be made where if from a cost-savings perspective, and we've been spending a lot of time talking about Amazon deals and how they're not really deals but if you get a cell phone and it has an allowance of 2GB a month of data, but YouTube is thrown in for free or that provider's preferred music plan is thrown in for free, you can argue that consumers benefit. And I think that's the twisted way of painting this picture, is that by sort of determining winners and losers at this high corporate level, you can offer that for free. But it's at a great disservice to the potential new voices and new platforms.
Leo: All right, I think there are legitimate, I have to say this, there are legitimate people, intelligent people who are in favor of dropping Title 2 regulation for a variety of reasons. There are intelligent people who say the government, including the FCC, should in no way govern the internet. And I have to agree with that, but I would point out that that's not what we're asking the FCC to do. We're not asking them to regulate the internet. We're asking them to regulate companies that bring the internet to millions of consumers who have already shown that they would like to choose winners and losers on the internet. What we're trying to say, I think it's appropriate for government to regulate that.
Larry: And it's practically a monopoly. It's a duopoly at best.
Leo: Well, thanks to the FCC, I've got to point out, that that's part of what the FCC did. History of government intervention in the internet is not all kittens and puppies. I just, I don't want—as somebody who makes his living bringing content over the internet to people, it's really important to me that Comcast not come to you and say, "Hey, TWiT's going to cost you but Netflix is not. So, which would you like to watch tonight?" I don't think they should get to choose winners and losers. Now, it's up to Congress.
Brianna: I think that this is one of these—I think this is one of these great issues that it's not really a partisan issue. I mean I know a lot of libertarians that feel just as strongly about net neutrality as I do. And you know, one of the things I just think is so interesting is that engineers I talk to that work in tech, we all understand the dangers that are here. You have free dispersal of information. So, I think the only—I think there are some fringe people that have a different opinion but I think generally speaking, people advocating for this are the big telecom companies which have huge lobbying firms in Washington DC. Al Franken, his last book, we were talking about that earlier, Leo. He talks about working with Comcast and how they came and testified in front of Congress with the NBC Universal deal and completely reneged on what they said they were going to do. So, you know, I just think there's every single reason to be skeptical that these giant telecom companies are going to treat this correctly. So, I'm 100% in favor of it.
Leo: I guess I have to, I should have booked somebody who is against net neutrality (laughing) because I'm not doing a very good job arguing the case. But I think there are legitimate, intelligent people who are in favor of at least overturning these FCC rulings.
Larry: One argument of it is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I mean net neutrality wasn't on the books until about a year ago and—
Leo: Not even that long. I don't think it really—I mean, when did it become?
Larry: Relatively. I think it became effective this January. But the point is that we had no net neutrality codified by Congress or the FCC, and things weren't horrible but I see even with net neutrality, I'm seeing all these AT&T deals with what do they call their—with DirecTV, T-Mobile and—there are deals going on anyway, despite network neutrality. So, you may actually still get your free Netflix, given the current. I'm not exactly sure how they do it, but there are ways around net neutrality even under the current FCC rule.
Leo: Yea. Jawbone is shutting down. I thought this was a great company. They started by making Bluetooth speakers. They pretty much created that category. Remember the Jam Box, what a great Bluetooth speaker that was. That was a huge hit. But they were of course immediately faced competition from China and elsewhere and they really couldn't in any way own the Bluetooth speaker market, so they looked for a new, for green fields they could try own. And they went into the fitness device. Remember, they created the, what was it, the Up, Jawbone Up? The Up Band. Had some problems. One of them had nickel in it which called allergies and they had to recall all of them. And so, they were at one point valued as high as $3-billion dollars. They've thrown in the towel. They're liquidating their assets and its founder, Hosain Rohman, is starring a new company called Jawbone Health Hub which will work on medical software and hardware. I don't know if it will have a consumer facing product or not. They have raised money. But you know, they have litigation going on with Fitbit. That will be taken over by—I think some people bought the remaining assets of Jawbone.
Brianna: I think they've always reminded me a lot of Palm. You know, Palm had such a strong early product in that category, but as time went on, they were just unable to innovate. They were unable to bring it to the next level. And you know, I owned their early products just like everyone else did. I think that you know, the Beats X Headphones. Those came out. They're really great, very easy to use.
Leo: That's right. They did that speaker. They did Jawbone Bluetooth. You're right. Bluetooth headsets. You're right.
Brianna: Absolutely. And I just think they never innovated.
Leo: Yea, but it just became—I think this is going to be a problem for a lot of companies, that you can't enter a market, create a market, and then hold that market because Chinese cloners and others will come along and unless you have some secret sauce, you're going to face terrific competition.
Larry: I mean, how's TiVo doing? I mean that was an example. They owned the market of digital recorders for a while, right? And now they're commodities and every cable operator offers one. And these are companies, you know what they say about pioneers having arrows in their back. You have to give them credit. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for having been pioneers. But at the end of the day, it's a competitive landscape and they just don't own their market.
Leo: One way you protect that, of course, with patents. And there's a big battle going on right now between Apple and Qualcomm. And the more I learn about this, the more I'm kind of on the side of Qualcomm believe it or not.
Leo: Yea. So, here's—and you can argue. Tell me why I'm wrong here. Kind of starting to think this way. Qualcomm did create a huge number of innovations. They invented CDMA. They made CDMA radios. That's where they made their big bucks. Of course, CDMA is being phased out now. But nevertheless, anybody who makes a cell phone must license technology from Qualcomm. You just have to. They own so many patents in that area and rightly. They're not a patent troll. They invented so many technologies that are used in cell phones. Apple was paying them a lot of money. I'm told it ended up being a few dollars per handset. That's what Samsung pays and others. But at some point, Apple decided, "We don't want to pay anymore." And so, they're suing Qualcomm for a billion dollars and stopped paying the license fees. Qualcomm has countersued saying, "We want our license fees." This is of course patent law and so this is complicated. But there is a lot of—here's Qualcomm's little poster, infographic that Qualcomm made on some of the patents. And what Qualcomm's latest blow in this is to go to the ITC, the US International Trade Commission and say, "Apple. We want you to rule that Apple cannot import any iPhones using the Intel chips." Apple last year in the iPhone 7 replaced the Qualcomm chip in some of their phones, not all of them, with Intel radios. The Intel radios for LTE, they didn't work as well. And Apple—this is another thing Qualcomm is suing over. Apple slowed down the Qualcomm radios because they wanted them to be the same. They wanted every iPhone to be the same. So, I have an Intel radio in my iPhone because I got it from T-Mobile. Was it AT&T and T-Mobile have the Intel chips because they're GSM? And Apple slowed down the Verizon and Sprint phones so that they would all be equally slow which Qualcomm was mad about. Our technology is better but Apple's making it limp. And so, they've asked the ITC to block, to ban all Intel based iPhones from the United States. Go ahead, Brianna, and then Baratunde.
Brianna: Yea, my husband, he is head of IP for a major company on the NASDAQ, right? So, we talk about intellectual property a lot at our house. I definitely agree with you that Qualcomm has an awesome case here and they did invent the core technology there. But the way that this was negotiated originally with the iPhone, it's not that they're paying the standard fee for these core technologies. It's that they're getting a certain percentage of every single iPhone sale period. And Apple isn't saying, "We don't want to pay anything for your patents." They are saying, "We want to bring you back to the table and pay your standard fee." Something we talk about a lot and intellectual property is reasonable licensing rate for core technologies like CDMA. So, I think that this is one of these situations where I think both people are right. Qualcomm did a lot of innovation there. But the reason people buy iPhones today, or at least this is Apple's argument, has more to do with the screen technology, the responsiveness of it, Touch ID, you know, the camera, those core features. And Apple's argument is you know, that CDMA technology inside of it, the speed of it, that's not why people are buying phones. So, think that's a believable argument.
Leo: Here's the counter-argument. If they're not buying phones for that, take that out of your phone and see if they buy your phone.
Brianna: Exactly. Right. Yea, right.
Leo: They won't.
Leo: You might say they're not buying the phones because of that, but if you take it out, they ain't buying the phone. That sounds to me like those are critical technologies.
Brianna: Sure. And I'm not saying I believe that. I'm saying that's Apple argument. I would say this. For core technologies, I do think we need to make sure that people don't like set the fees so high that consumers end up paying unreasonable fees to basically pay for these patents. So, we need reasonable licensing rates for core technologies.
Leo: Yea, so isn't it FRAND, fair and reasonable—I can't remember what FRAND stands for but I don't know how many of these are FRAND patents. At least 6 certs are not FRAND. They're not essential but Apple uses them and as a result, Apple should pay for them. If you're going to use them, pay for them. I don't know.
Baratunde: The problem is that Apple doesn't want to pay a percentage of these phone sales. Too much cash is going out as a percentage. They could just lower the price of the iPhone and effectively pay Qualcomm less money. We would all be happier. So, that's one tact.
Leo: Yea, but how price sensitive are Apple Phone buyers? They would pay whatever Apple charges, right?
Brianna: Yea, yea.
Baratunde: Just trying to think outside the box here and help Apple out and help resolve this. I'm a mediator in this corporate financial—this ledger battle between corporations.
Leo: Thank you. Peace in our time. I think it's about time. Anyway, yea, so, good. I think obviously we need to have more of a conversation about this. I feel like, I mean Qualcomm's taking the nuclear option. If you ban half the iPhones that are coming into the country, that's going to be a big issue. And it's not going to make Qualcomm any friends among the public either.
Baratunde: And probably, yea. They're attached to a gravy train. iPhone is a runaway hit. They want to keep that as high as possible. They want as much money as possible. Apple wants to pay as little as possible. And like all sound business people, they're taking it to court. That's just what you do.
Leo: Just take it to court.
Brianna: It's just business.
Leo: Hey, let's take a little break and we're going to wrap things up because we're on the two-hour mark and you know, it's funny. This show is getting longer (laughing) but bladders aren't getting any bigger so, I think it really would probably be a good time to take a little break right here and anybody who wants to run off, can, while we talk a little bit about The TrackR.
Leo: A coin sized tracking device that I love. I just got the new TrackR. You have one?
Larry: My wife's got my keys. Where's my keys?
Leo: Where's my keys? It pairs to your phone. This was, I think, the first Bluetooth tracking device. They were a big Kickstarter, remember? They've gotten so much better. We saw the TrackR Bravo come out. I think it was last year, about the size of a quarter, weighs less, anodized aluminum, replaceable battery. We just got the new TrackR Pixel. John, will you bring me my keys? It's on my desk because I've got the TrackR Pixel attached to it. This is awesome because the Pixel has—first of all it's the lightest Bluetooth tracking device on the market. It's even smaller, even lighter and, I love this, they put LEDs on it. So, you know, a lot of times when you lose the keys, it's because they're under the sofa or they're in a cushion. Now, you can get the LEDs to light up and it makes it even easier to find. Look how little this TrackR Pixel is. It's teeny-weeny. And like all the TrackRs, it has a button on it so you can press the button and that will call your phone. They've got 2-way separation alerts. So, if you leave your phone behind, the TrackR screams at you. But if you leave the TrackR behind, the phone will let you know. The TrackR App on your phone shows where your TrackRs are. You can have up to ten TrackRs paired to a phone. And, now you can have TrackRs pair to multiple phones. So that means you can have everybody in the family help you look for your keys. If you misplace an item that has a TrackR Pixel attached, you just trigger the Pixel and a 90-decibel alert and powerful LED lights will light up and you will find that device.
Larry: So, my TrackR is somewhere near the Mystic Theatre.
Leo: That's nearby. They Mystic is where the old place was. You better tell your wife we moved.
Larry: She's got my keys.
Leo: So, the TrackR is great but it also has one feature that no other tracking device has, the global GPS network. So, the problem is, if your wife left those keys at The Mystic and then drove off, they're be no TrackR, no phone tracking those keys. But here's the beauty part. Somebody walks by that theatre that's got the TrackR and there's 4.5-million TrackR customers out there. Their phone will see your TrackR and ping your phone.
Larry: That explains why even though my TrackRs connected to my phone, it's still tracking.
Leo: That's how you know.
Larry: Because of somebody else.
Leo: Because somebody else saw it. That's cool.
Larry: That is so sweet. This is kind of brilliant. 4.5-million TrackRs out there. Look at the map. They're all over the world. Ok, don't lose your keys in Siberia or Greenland. But, other than that, you're covered. Actually there's even a few in Greenland I see (laughing).
Brianna: I have to tell you, I love TrackR so much and I've used some of the ones from other competitors and what I hate about them is it's so bad for the environment. Because you spend like $100-dollars on four of them—
Leo: You have to throw them out.
Brianna: And when a year goes by, you have to throw it out.
Leo: It's nuts.
Brianna: And it's so ridiculous because you know, the competitor's product is ok, but it's so expensive because if you have a lot of these you're going to end up paying like $200-dollars a year for it.
Leo: So, all the TrackRs, you can open them up, even this new one. You can open it up. Put in a new battery. So, it's good to go. And, you're right, Brianna. That is a really big differentiator and I really like that about TrackR. Save the environment and your keys (laughing) at the same time. We got a good deal for you. If you go to thetrackr.com and use the promo code TWiT, load up your shopping basket and then that promo code will take 20% off any order. T-H-E-T-R-A-C-K-E-R actually, the website's harder to find than your keys. T-H-E-T-R-A-C-K-R.com.
Larry: You know, they're working on a wallet that's going to have TrackR embedded in the wallet.
Leo: Are they?
Leo: That's great.
Larry: You can still put a TrackR in your wallet, but it's actually going to be embedded.
Leo: Yea, that would even be better, yea. TheTrackR.com, don't forget the promo code TWiT. You'll save 20% and I love this new TrackR Pixel. It's so cool.
Leo: We have had so much fun. You guys are just dynamite. Oops, it lit up. I made it light up. I forgot to do that.
Larry: You can also ping your phone from your TrackR.
Leo: Yea. Right. You guys are so great. Baratunde Thurston, always a pleasure to have you on the show. You're muted right now so—
Baratunde: Oh, am I?
Leo: No, you're ok. Just came back. Ok.
Baratunde: Ok. It would be hard for me to be here without my old TWiT compatriot Nick Bilton and so, during the break, Nick actually sent me a message. He says hello to everyone. And I would be a bad friend if I didn't tell you his book American Kingpin is great. So, I'll use the balance of my time to promote Nick, tell you to give money to Brianna, and check out connectsafely.org as Larry's trying to make the world a safer place.
Larry: Wow, what a guy.
Leo: First time anybody's ever plugged everybody else (laughing) instead of himself. American Kingpin is the story behind the silk road and how they caught, how the FBI caught Ross Ulbricht and it is—Nick is a great writer. His Twitter book was incredible. But this one, you can't put it down. We've got Nick coming in on Triangulation in the next couple of weeks I think. We had him scheduled and he couldn't do it but we've rescheduled and he will be on in the next couple of weeks to join us and talk about his new book. Yea, Nick's a great writer.
Brianna: I bought that book after I came on last time and I swear this is true. The next day, I sat down and I had meetings and I just read the book straight through it because it was that addictive. I've read it four times it's so good.
Brianna: It is a really—it is—
Leo: Are you guys in competition for the best plug? Is that what's going on?
Baratunde: It's a page turner.
Brianna: I love this book. I love this book. It would be a fine work of fiction, and the fact that it's all true makes it just an amazing work of journalism. It's stunning.
Leo: I think you should put that on the back, Nick. An amazing work of journalism, Brianna Wu. Brianna, good luck with your campaign. We're going to have you on many more times before the primary but I still want to make sure everybody knows to support Brianna Wu. Supportbrianna.com and to visit her website, briannawu2018.com. We clearly need somebody like you in Congress and you know what? Your message is important. Get involved. Run. Vote. Participate because if we don't, then we have no reason to complain.
Brianna: Absolutely. You know, and unlike other politicians, if you send a tweet to me, I'll actually talk to you. Like it won't be one of my staff. You can actually talk to me, so, feel free to reach out to me.
Leo: Tell us about this American flag behind you. That's very cool. I really like that.
Brianna: You know, I got it from—I honesty got it from Amazon. And I was looking for a few backdrops, something that just wasn't generic American flag. And I just loved it. I thought it symbolized like where we kind of are as a country and yea.
Leo: Well, it's on Amazon folks (laughing).
Larry: People are buying it already.
Leo: What isn't, right? Of course, we always want to thank Larry Magid for making the trip here. You see him on CBS Radio. You visit his website larrysworld.com and don't forget, connectsafely.org and great articles there. Lots of information and I've used the—I don't know if it's the Safer Kids or the Connect Safely, you have the internet contract.
Larry: Yea, that's on safekids.com.
Leo: Safekids.com. That is a really useful tool for any parent who has kids that are starting to venture out onto the Internet, especially I think teens and pre-teens.
Larry: Yea, one of the things that I think makes us a little different from some of the internet safety groups is that we really respect kids, respect their rights but sometimes we all need a little help.
Leo: And respect the internet.
Larry: And respect the internet, absolutely. Also, freedom of speech. We can protect our children without having to sanitize the internet. The internet can still be there for everybody.
Leo: Yea, well done. It's a great site.
Larry: Thank you.
Leo: Thank you everybody for joining us. We had a great studio audience. You guys, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it. It makes a lot more fun for us to know that there are actually six people listening (laughing). If you want to be in the studio audience, we love having an open studio, all you have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll arrange—first of all, we'll send you directions to our hidden location and then we'll arrange a chair so you have somewhere to sit. If you can't be here in person, you can always watch live. We stream everything we do at our website TWiT.tv/live or YouTube.com/TWit or UStream.com/leolaporte or Twitch.tv/TWiT if you want to watch live. I encourage you to join us in the chatroom at IRC.twit.tv. The chatroom's always full of great and interesting people who keep us honest and offer often opposing viewpoints which we welcome. IRC.twit.tv. Now, most of you don't participate live because you've got a life. So, for those of you with lives, just remember twit.tv the website had downloadable on demand versions of everything we do including this show, audio and video and of course, you probably have a program or a map that you use to get podcasts. Use that and subscribe because you want to get every single episode. Thank you so much for being here and we'll see you next time. Next Sunday. What time is it? 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern, 2200 UTC. I did the math in my head all by myself. Thanks for joining us! We'll see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye.