This Week in Tech 619
Jason Calacanis: Hey everybody, it's Jason Calacanis. Sitting in for Leo Laporte on This Week in Tech! My guests today: Brian Albee, Dave Matthews, and Peter Rojas. We talk about Amazon buying Whole Foods, Twitter, Facebook and Trump. All the exciting news out of E3! It's an amazing episode, coming up next.
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Jason: Hey everybody, we've got an amazing This Week in Tech for you. Episode number 619, recorded Sunday, June 18, 2017.
Honey, I Shrunk the Panel
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Jason: Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of This Week in Tech, I am your guest host sitting in for Leo Laporte, I'm Jason Calacanis. You can follow me on Twitter @Jason. To my right, the one the only my partner from Weblogs inc, and now the CEO of Clipisodes. Brian Alvey, welcome to the program.
Brian Alvey: Thanks.
Jason: To my left, the greatest gadget inventor of all time, who burned through over 100 million dollars,
Dave Matthews: 205.
Jason: Building the Q cat, Dave Mathews, the founder of New Air and the Gadget Guide. Dave, we're going to get into it, but when you did see Amazon release the wand, your vision for the Q cat, which you burned basically 200 million dollars on, and now you see Jeff Bezos release the 2.0 version, and Amazon becomes the most valuable company in the world. Did you sleep last week?
Dave: Barely. Tossing and turning, and all I could think about was ordering Whole Foods through my Alexa.
Jason: Exactly. We'll get into it. With us, to the left the one and only, Peter Rojas, founder of Gizmodo. Engadget, Gadget, and now A Venture capitalist. he has sold out two of the four people at this table have sold out and are now making investments, and here it is, if you are watching instead of listening, here it is the Q cat. Of course, Leo Laporte has one of these in his museum of failed startups. When you see it, do you still have PTSD? How many years of therapy does it take, Dave, to recover from a 200 million dollar lawsuit?
Dave: A lot of people pay money for MBAs, I just do startups. We also gave 300 million employees MBAs too.
Jason: What I love about you, is you take in stride. And you're not bitter.
Dave: You gave me points with it when we launched.
Jason: I did. It's something that you can be proud of. It is one of those things, being ahead of the curve. This week there was huge news, we woke up this week to find out that Jeff Bezos and Amazon had bought Whole Foods for over 13 billion dollars. We were wondering if he was dabbling in retail, they opened a bookstore, a cashier less store, called...
Dave: The Go Store, which is just cameras, you grab things off the shelf, so you don't need to scan barcodes even.
Jason: Is this the store, or is this the takeover business? Peter, when you saw this announcement, what did you think?
Peter Rojas: It was a bold move. Right? Like you said, we see Amazon make these sort of tentative steps into retail, and I think a lot of us thought the point would be to roll out these Amazon stores the bookstores, and do this at a slower pace. They've dived right in with Whole Foods. I think on the speculation, and I tend to agree with, this gives them a big footprint for being able to do groceries for doing the rollout, but also to be able to do...
Jason: Now they have hundreds of stores. I don't know what percentage of the population lives within driving distance of a Whole Foods...
Peter: There's 441 Whole Foods in the US and abroad. It's mainly in the US, but these are mainly in affluent neighborhoods, but it's also a valuable real estate in itself. If they want to launch 431 logistic centers...
Jason: It would take forever.
Peter: So they're diving right in.
Jason: Brian, when you look at this and you see Instacart, which is an extremely popular in the bay area, and other places, Instacart has a multi-year deal, Instacart is loved. They seem to have figured something out. It was terrible in the beginning, they got everything wrong, over time the shoppers have gotten better. Is this the end of Instacart? Is there any way Instacart comes out of this ahead in your mind?
Brian: Absolutely. Because, if you look at Florida, Universal Studios had a deal with Marvel. Marvel's Island adventure. Then Disney goes and buys Marvel, but they can't put Marvel rides in Disney world. So you go to Disney World in Florida, and you can do everything but Avengers, Iron Man, Superhero stuff. You have to go to Universal for that. Because they have a multi-year deal. So that's a weird situation, right? But then it gives them an opportunity to go to everybody who isn't Amazon and Whole Foods and lock them all up. I think that lights a fire under everybody else to start working on Instacart. Let's say Whole Foods ends up 50% of the market. The other 50% is Instacart.
Jason: I think Instacart just got twice as valuable. Now somebody has to buy them. Target, Wall Mart. What do you think, Dave?
Dave: This is a classic All Ships rise with the tide. For a while, I was the in house inventor at Radio shack. There were some rumors that Amazon would use Radio shack stores while they were going through Bankruptcy as Distribution centers. Now, if you think about what Whole Foods stores are like today, they're congested, they're packed with Merchandise, packed with Product, so I think this is going to be part of Amazon's Fresh Program. Not going to have anything to do with the other supply chain stuff. So you'll still be looking forward to your drones and in your next package down your...
Jason: Radio Shack. It's interesting that you mentioned that. So you worked at Radio Shack. Was that also a company you killed? Did you drive that one also into the ground?
Dave: I left in 2004.
Jason: Are there still Radio Shacks? What do they do at Radio shack now?
Dave: They sell Sprint Phones now.
Jason: So basically they're just a place of cell phones. They make them into hack-a-day hacker makers spaces. Isn't that your plan?
Dave: So I was tutorial team on Make Magazine as well. I brought Make and Radio Shack together, but at the time, there were no kits. Ardrino was still lab stuff, and we finally got maker kits inside the stores. But by then it was too late.
Jason: This experiential retail seems to be the thing people want to do, and they just missed that time and time again.
Dave: A great example, the Little Bit store in Manhattan.. Little Bits are magnetic computers that you stick the modules together. It's great for kids, because you can clip these together, and because of the polarity of the magnets, you can never put voltage in the wrong way. So they've created an experiential store in New York, so you can go in and have birthday parties and Field trips at the store and learn how to program a very rudimentary...
Jason: So when you see the wand, we were joking before that the wand is, so you were playing with it. Here it is. And it is, it is unbelievable to hold the wand here. When did you release the 1.0 of the Cue cap?
Dave: The Cue cap you're looking at now is the PS2 Wedge. Back in the day, there were PS2 connectors. We started inventing this in 1997. So 20 years ago...
Jason: The device is essentially the same size, and it's got a bar code reader on the top. Same weight. What's the difference?
Dave: This one uses a camera, this uses an optical sensor. It's like what the Mouse would use. When we invented this, the optical mouse wasn't invented yet, so we had to create a lot of new technologies. Cloud computing wasn't around. We bought Dell boxes and wrapped them up in server banks. We had to build their own cloud.
Jason: Obviously not Wireless.
Dave: Not... we partnered with Cross, it has never been seen before.
Jason: Cross Pen...
Dave: On one end is a pen, there's a ruby tipped roller scanner. You can scan. We also have the Key FOB as well. What was really clever about these is that they modulated their tips, the light just like an IR protocol to send the data down.
Jason: What is this device, the Amazon Wand for? You were playing with it, what is the use case?
Dave: I put up an Instagram video, if you guys look @GDDM, you can see. The button on it, and it's not connected to the Wi-fi here, but it has a decent speaker in it, surprisingly, and you can push the button...
Jason: Yes, I'll order caviar, the most expensive you have...
Dave: Unfortunately for Jason, but fortunately for my bank account, that will not go through because there's no Wi-fi connected.
Jason: Alexis, order 20 pounds of Foi Gras.
Dave: I've just been hacked, because she said we'll restore the connection and put the order through.
Jason: When you go to the bathroom, we're going to order a bunch of embarrassing products.
Dave: You had to touch the optical surface. In the scanner, you had to touch a few inches away...
Jason: What is it?
Dave: It's $20, but it's subsidized with your first order. It's sold out now immediately.
Jason: What does that cost to make, you think, Peter?
Peter: Very little at this point. You can buy these Wi-fi chips. I would say they probably break even on them. They probably cost $15/$20 bucks, but they think they're going to sell enough extra stuff by having this in people's homes.
Jason: Are you going to get this combination of the Wand and Wall Mart Instacart? We assume they'll keep the Instacart relationship and in other markets where they don't have Instacart, they'll make their own Amazon Fresh delivery. Do you think that this is going to be the standard for all Homes in the United States in whatever cities, that you'll never go to a grocery store unless you really want to?
Peter: I think that as someone who has been an Instacart user since it was first introduced in New York, when I lived in new York, there was a convenience factor that was hard to overlook. There are some things you miss by not going to a grocery store, in fact grocers are starting to notice that it's hard to upsell you when you have a list of things you order all the time.
Jason: But that's their problem not..
Peter: Exactly. But you can imagine if you are trying to introduce a new food brand right now, you have a real challenge, because one of the ways that grocery stores tried to promote new products.
Jason: When you say the end case...
Peter: The end of the aisle. Companies pay to rent that space to promote their new product.
Jason: Which is why sometimes you'll go to the grocery store and you'll see your coffee brand in the coffee aisle and also in the end cafe.
Peter: It's a source of revenue that grocery stores will have to forgo because it's less valuable real estate. If most the people walking down your aisles are Instacart shoppers, it's not as valuable.
Jason: Brian, you live in the East Bay. Do you have Instacart?
Brian: No. I have a family and we load up the car and we bring it home. But there are buildings in San Francisco.
Jason: When you hear that he goes to the grocery store, do you feel pity for Brian? I feel bad for you.
Brian: Gets me away from the pets. In San Francisco they have a selling point, one of the deals with Safeway, while you're at work, you put in your order, and it's not through an Instacart or Amazon, and they will come and they have a key to your apartment, they will unload it all into your cabinets and your refrigerator and your freezer.
Peter: Apartment buildings are being designed to take in groceries. They have special rooms that are cooled. The apartments designed with containers adjacent to the front door. But also because of Amazon, Apartment buildings are having to redesign their mail rooms to accommodate...
Dave: Just like the Amazon Wand is my 20 year old invention, my apartment in San Francisco from 1929 had an icebox. It was a box that you would put ice in, and it had two doors. One on the outside where the milk man would come and put the milk in, and load it up with a brick of ice, and the other door was on the inside of the house to help me retrieve that milk.
Peter: Security, half the posts are people complaining about their Amazon packages being stolen.
Jason: How do these people not have Ring doorbell or drop in...
Peter: Ring is now one of the biggest advertisers.. I just had one installed last week. I had cameras before, but I figured it was simpler to have one.
Jason: How many cameras does everybody in here have in their homes right now?
Peter: I have 8 or 9.
Dave: I did Sling Box, so I would put cameras everywhere. I have cameras scattered.
Jason: I'm not talking about your work for the CIA. I'm talking strictly about your home before.
Brian: My old house six, the new one we haven't put them in yet.
Jason: I think I'm up to six or seven now. Everywhere on the property because the doors all have it. Does anybody here worry with all of these cameras and microphones about privacy and these things being hacked?
Dave: That's the worst thing about Google Home and the upcoming Apple terribly named voice box. You literally have NSA front doors that are sitting in your living rooms. You're trusting that that wake up word means no data is being sent, but as soon as there's a compromise, all that data, that voice data goes to the cloud.
Jason: Peter, what are the chances that Amazon Echos or Google Homes have not been compromised right now by hackers and or Governments?
Peter: I think it's unlikely that either has been compromised. I think Amazon and Google have strong network security. I think if you have a random webcam that you purchase on Amazon from a Chinese OEM for 40 bucks, I think the odds are strong...
Jason: 100% chance it's capable of being hacked.
Peter: Absolutely. There's now boxes you can connect to at your network at home, which will monitor the traffic from those devices and they'll see if there's a lot of traffic going to some outbound server in China.
Jason: Brian, what are your thoughts on privacy visa vis these new devices?
Brian: Nikki and I disagreed about this at our old house about inside versus outside cameras. She's firmly against the inside one. And I'm like what about babysitters and nannies and stuff like that? Don't you want to know? She's like, I don't want to be spied on. Because the people who install them, I just don't trust any of them. So we ended up with all outdoor cameras, nothing on the inside. Every now and then we'll be like damn I wish we could roll back in the argument we were just having and show you what you said.
Peter: I have won arguments that way.
Jason: Spousal discovery. I don't think that's a productive thing here as we celebrate Father's Day.
Dave: It's not.
Jason: When we get back from this very brief pause, we are going to talk about Apple's new Siri device and if anybody here is going to pay $349 for a device that's $50 everywhere else. When we get back, on TWiT.
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Jason: Hey everybody, welcome back to This Week in Tech, I am your guest host, Jason Calacanis. You can buy my book on Amazon super plug, angel. Go buy the book. They paid me a ton of money to write it and I'm totally scared they're not going to... Brian, you helped me. You're my writing coach. It's how to make money angel investing.
Brian: It's 1/1000 the cost of your MBA.
Jason: Hey, uh, Apple released finally, a at home smart speaker. Is that the category? Smart speakers. Digital assistant.
Peter: I wanted to call them cloud speakers because they're connected to the cloud, but it never caught on.
Jason: Listen, instead of calling it a wand, technology, you're great at. Branding, let's leave it to Peter Rojas. He came up with Engadget as well. Apple, which was ahead of everybody with Siri, finally announces at the WWDC that they're going to have a speaker that you can talk to at Siri, why did it take them so long, Peter, and why does Siri seem to me to be so far behind Alexa? It just doesn't work as well. When I use my iPhone Siri is constantly sending me to the Web, and Alexa answers my questions.
Peter: So they acquired Siri, it was a product that was earlier along, and Amazon continued to invest in their voice based assistance and their AI. Apple became a little bit complacent, and at the same time, Google recognized that this was going to be an important area, and has invested a tremendous amount of resources buying talent and making strategic investments. I think Apple has a lot of stuff going on, and I think Siri fell by the wayside. Now they're starting to catch up. With the Home pod, it's not going to come up till later this year.
Jason: Home Pod?
Jason: Terrible name.
Brian: Steve Jobs would not have let this go through, just like the iPad 3.
Dave: The hardware of the iPad 3 was terrible hardware that Steve would never have let ship. I don't think he would have let them name this as well.
Jason: He would have said who came up with that name? And then he would have said, who wants that person's job? What was their iCloud before iCloud? It was Mobile Me? How is Mobile Me supposed to work and they explain? And he goes why the F doesn't work like that? That's got to be in the Steve Jobs 2.0 movie. Why is it so expensive? I know Apple has a premium, but this seems wildly disproportionately priced compared to Amazon.
Peter: It's a higher quality speaker than you're going to get from the Echo or from the Google Home.
Jason: Better than a Sonos?
Dave: The Press was there listening to the Sonos play 3. And the Amazon Echo sounded like AM radio. Apple speaker, there's a 4 inch driver mounted center leaf or base, and then seven tweeters around it, and it listens to its own heartbeat. It tunes to the space.
Jason: You mean if it's on a bookshelf and it hits the wall, it knows don't send so much sound that way.
Peter: Sonos does that as well, but you have to run it yourself.
Brian: You have to walk around the room with the app on, and you go to every corner...
Jason: I don't really have the time for it. Does it really make that big of a difference?
Dave: There's been receivers for many years that would put a microphone in the middle of your room and it would tune your whole home theatre, so it does make sense, but what I found with the True Play, it's from Sonos, these are all licensed technologies that someone has been working on in the sound space for years, but I found I lost base that I had before, so I don't use True Play for that matter at all.
Jason: So the reason it's expensive is it's really beautiful.
Dave: And they have the M 8 chip in it, which is the same chip that runs the iPhone 6.
Jason: That costs serious bank. So it's basically an iPhone inside there.
Dave: It's like the Apple TV. The largest generation Apple TV is essentially an iPhone as well with memory and processing power.
Peter: I think they will have a cheaper version down the line. I think they want to position this first as expectations around what it's going to be. I think this is one of the mistakes they made with Siri. When they introduced Siri they positioned it as this all knowing asisstant that could answer your queries, and it turned out it wasn't that. It was really good at a narrow set of tasks. With the Home pod what they're trying to do is reposition it as something for playing music first.
Jason: it's a Sonos killer in their mind.
Peter: It's positioned as a Sonos killer, and Sonos is worried. As they should be.
Jason: They knew this was coming at some point.
Peter: Yeah, and I think the stuff that Apple has done around airplay in the past sort of hinted something like this was in the works.
Jason: But they also seemed to play nice with Sonos in that they let Sonos be in the store, you used to be able to buy Sonos in the store. So now that this is out, is their policy to kick Sonos out of the store?
Peter: I don't think so. It's happened here and there. I think FitBits were originally sold in the store.
Dave: Fire TV, Amazon had a big battle, and at the latest announcement, they said you could now watch Amazon video on Apple TVs now.
Jason: This is interesting too. I talked to somebody from... I talked to an interested party, and they said Apple was demanding Amazon pay them to put them on the Apple TV. Amazon said we are not going to pay you for the privilege of being on there, and they held their ground. Do you think people are paying to be on the Apple tV? People pay to be in the stores. Essentially by having to give a massive margin to Apple. That's what people don't know. Apple negotiates with each of those people and makes them pay a high margin. Is that your understanding?
Peter: It depends. Apple and HBO for example have some sort of arrangement that gives Apple a slice of recurring revenue. That wouldn't surprise me. I had heard something similar around Amazon. There's not a good model, it doesn't establish a good precedent for Amazon.
Jason: It was dumb for Amazon, because when I have Apple TV and Amazon Prime, and all of a sudden when Amazon has Transparent and some other good shows, and there was some good stuff on Amazon. I found myself looking at the Samsung smart hub, and my family now don't turn on the Apple TV, they use the Samsung one, because they got used to it.
Peter: Same with my LG. That's the challenge for a lot of these connected devices. All of them have the same services on them at some point, so if you don't play, if Apple blocks popular services from being on their device, it makes people not want to use it.
Jason: They overplayed their hand.
Dave: If you're asking customers to change inputs, forget about it.
Brian: It gets really complicated. We find we're paying for Showtime three different ways. We're paying through the Comcast cable we have, we're paying for Showtime, because it's something we wanted to watch, and if you buy Hulu separately, it's ala carte stuff. It's out of control and really complicated. I love Showtime.
Jason: We have Hulu Premium, I have YouTube Red, I have Direct TV over the top, Direct TV now, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. I have six services. DirectTV was costing me $200 a month to have all the channels.
Dave: It's a lot of TV. How much do you get? Direct TV generally you get rain fade. I have DirectTV and I'm watching a show and the pinwheel shows up.
Brian: People take pictures of that and put it on Twitter and offer to sell you a print. It's gorgeous, these patterns, but it's not the show you wanted to watch.
Jason: Speaking of Amazon, this MNA trend, mergers in acquisitions is in my mind just the beginning. We are entering an era of big MNA that we haven't seen since Time Warner, AOL. I think these are going to start becoming not just ten billion dollar acquisitions but I think we're going to see some 25, 50 billion dollar acquisitions. As companies like Amazon and Apple start to trend towards trillion dollar valuation, one of those rumors is that Amazon wants to buy slack for 9 billion dollars and that Slack is going to raise 500 million at 5 billion. That seems likely to me. Slack has had a billion dollar run right now. Who is uninstalling Slack? Once you have it integrated...
Peter: That's the beauty of Enterprise SAS businesses. Once you get in there it's really hard to switch.
Jason: Slack specifically has that massive integration where people are putting their Trello or their schedule. It's a new inbox, so many things connected. Why does Amazon, if they are interested, Peter, why would they do this?
Peter: First of all, they have AWS. They have a very strong tie in to enterprise.
Jason: They also have developers!
Peter: But they also have Chime, which is video conferencing, they also have an email service, which people are not aware of. They have an outlook type competitor, unless I'm completely making that up. There is a stealth enterprise strategy at Amazon, where they feel like they need to be competitive, they need to have a service offering in this area. Amazon views everyone as its competitor. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix. It's insane, but if you're Jeff Bezos, you see.... you don't want to have any point of weakness in your company, which is crazy, but if you think from his perspective, he basically has to play offense with every single market.
Jason: Brian, why do you think they'd spend nine billion on this?
Brian: Because they are the everything store. They are fourth or fifth in terms of the race to a trillion. Apple is 730 million...
Jason: Amazon is the top now. They are at 980, Amazon's market cap is 466 billion. Apple is 730. Amazon is ahead because they have all that cash. If you take Apple's cash out...
Brian: They're fourth/fifth on the list. There's nothing they can't do. You look at something like Facebook in the mix, they're number four out of the five, and you say could Google build a Facebook killer? And no. They tried with Google Plus. Can Apple build a Facebook killer? They tried that, they failed. Could Amazon? You have to stop and go, I don't know. Maybe they could. There's nothing that you can be certain that Amazon can't do. They can kind of do anything.
Jason: Apple also has that massive iPhone franchise which to me feels like it's reaching the peak. iPhone 8 will be slightly better, but they really haven't established a huge second money printing machine. Is that a risk factor?
Dave: So the Apple TV was supposed to be this, and the watch. But AR kit will be interesting. They didn't talk about hardware for it, but they did have the Oculus plugged into an iMac, and they have the 16 core iMac that was announced.
Jason: This to me seems like the stupidest misread of their most passionate users. The most passionate users are going crazy that they can't put in the latest N video card and swap out ram easily. So what do they do? Instead of giving them an iMac tower, you could give them a super fancy iMac tower that was two towers ago. Instead of doing that, they make an iMac that is five thousand dollars where you can't change anything.
Dave: They say that no one is building computers any more. Remember the last computer they innovated with looked like a trashcan.
Jason: It was beautiful, but it was a mistake. Because you couldn't swap the stuff out. Peter, why did they make the iMac Pro? I'm hearing creatives now want to move on and are buying Windows machines for this reason. If software is all cloud based, what's the difference between using Premier or Photoshop or whatever you use as a creative on Mac or PC?
Peter: I think for now having a local GPU makes a difference.
Jason: My point is, is the Mac version any different from the Windows version? Could you move over pretty easily?
Peter: I think some developers are moving over and finding the things they want to do having the flexibility to put in a 1080 TI into their machine.
Jason: Is it $2000 that TI?
Peter: I paid $700 for it. Worth every penny.
Jason: What does it allow you to do? The resolution of the frame rate?
Peter: I can run The Witcher Three at 4K, 60 frames per second. It looks amazing.
Jason: And you can swap out your monitor. You can disconnect the investment in the monitor from the investment in the computer.
Peter: I built my own PC because I wanted to do VR, right? Building you're going to always pay less than buying.
Jason: What do you get from the iMac pro for $5000 what would it cost?
Brian: They market it that you're saving because the screen is built in, instead of a $5000 Delta.
Peter: If you were to go in and buy a super high quality 5K display, which is what the iMac Pro comes with, you probably, that would probably cost $5000, $1500 on its own.
Jason: I have the LG. It's gorgeous.
Peter: How much was that?
Jason: 6 or 700.
Peter: The 5K one?
Jason: I don't have the 5K one.
Peter: I do think that there is a certain class of developer that needs something that feels future proof. So next year, when video comes out with a new card, I can just swap in the next one. Certainly, I would never consider buying a high end machine that I couldn't swap out new components when they're available.
Jason: OK. Let's talk a little about the chances of these AR glasses. Brian, I know you have Oculus Envive, right?
Brian: Just about.
Jason: Just about. Kids love it, right?
Jason: What do you think the chances are that Apple comes out with these AR glasses in the next year or two? They have a VR kit, people are doing iPad videos now.
Brian: Enable the software, let people get in there and start building the apps... I think they have to do it. I don't think they're near it. If they tease the software but don't talk about a product, then it's not coming any time soon. I think it's on their roadmap. It could be a great thing for them by the time VR has hit their net, but I was seriously just listing out different products today. I have an Apple laptop, I don't want to upgrade it. I would seriously consider Windows or some other alternative.
Brian: I was lumping in the home pod with Siri, which is not exciting. You have to train Siri to do things, you have to think through what am I going to tell Siri to send an email or text right now? I've never had to feel that way with Alexa, and I lump it in with maps and the watch. It's not an exciting product. The AR, maybe that's the thing that comes out next, OK. They didn't do a TV or a car or this, maybe AR is the next big thing, so I'm excited for them, but I'm holding my breath.
Jason: When is the Hololens going to become a consumer product? Are they on the second developer kit or the first?
Peter: The first. They killed the second one.
Jason: They killed the second one.
Peter: They're still focused on the enterprise market for this. I think it makes a lot of sense, I think they're conceding that they're not going to win a consumer because they don't have mobile. Not anymore.
Jason: What's the enterprise AR plan?
Peter: There's Industrial, which is you work in a factory or you're doing repairs or something like that, you can actually have a schematic of the thing you're working on. And they can walk you step by step. Tweak this and in real time tell you don't cross the wires. Medical is another. Surgeons are starting to use AR to be able to, if they're doing labroscopy and surgery inside the body, they'll have a better idea of what they're doing. I think anything related to building, architecture, being able to walk into a building site and see exactly...
Jason: So construction or interior decorating. You'll see what you're supposed to do.
Peter: Let's say you need to repair a building. You can walk around and see what's behind those walls.
Jason: It would be fascinating, when you think about surgery, if you were a medic in the field or you were in some region that didn't have a hospital close to you and somebody needs to have their appendix taken out, a local doctor who has never done it can put these glasses on, and if they know how to use basic surgical techniques, they could walk through an obscure thing. Or like Alien Covenent where she takes out the...
Brian: I think you're an optimist. You're like an Uber driver, the ones that really know where they're going, and the ones that circle the block a few times. I don't want those ones doing my surgery, I want one of these.
Jason: Spoiler alert, in Aliens, the Aliens win. I think the Aliens kill the humans.
Dave: I saw PTSD AR embodiment. It could be medical mental as well.
Jason: When we get back from this commercial break, we'll talk about Twitter's new redesign, and if anybody cares, as well as the fact that they took my snowflake feature and incorporated it into Twitter.
Leo: We'll be back with a TWiT show in just a minute, but I had to come back and tell you about my vacation. No. Leo Laporte here, it's not about my vacation, but I really am thrilled that before I left on vacation, I got my wordpress.com blog going and I'm posting pictures there. I've got a sway up there that I've imbedded. I forgot how much I love Wordpress. I started blogging in the early 2000s. I went to Wordpress at the beginning of WordPress, when it was just getting started. I hosted it myself for years, almost a decade, so I know Wordpress inside and out. Now I'm on Wordpress.com, which I have to say is fantastic. Because they host it for you, they do all the updates, all the security, they've got two factor, https, all the plugins. Amazing range of templates! When I hosted it myself, I was the support guy, now they have these great support people, and they're helpful and fast. If I have a question, like I'm looking for a slideshow on the front, and in an hour, I got a great answer. You're going to love it, if you haven't set up a Wordpress site in a while, try it. If you don't have a website, get going. Today, every business, it's like not having a phone if you don't have a website, but if you're an individual, remember. If you don't put yourself out on the web, then other people control your reputation. If you don't post anything, than what everybody else posts about you becomes fact. Even I tell teenagers this, you need a website. Put your best stuff up there, put your best pictures, your essays, your awards. Pretty soon it's a lot of fun. Wordpress.com makes it easy. Wordpress.com is a community! I have half a million followers now. Thank you wordpress.com, every time I post something new, they hear about it. I never had so much engagement on my blog. I slowed down on blogging, as you probably know. I'm getting all this encouragement now, I'm blogging, and I love it. Find out why WordPress powers 27% of all the websites in the world. More websites run on Wordpress than any other platform, and do it the easy way at wordpress.com. Get started today, 15% off any plan purchase, they have plans for everyone. Go to Wordpress.com/twit, create your website, find the membership plan that's right for you, and save 15% on your new plan purchase. wordpress.com/twit. I love you Wordpress, by the way, my blog, go check it out. I've got pictures up there. Leolaporte.com, and wordpress.com/twit for 15% off your brand new website. Thank you, WordPress, now on we go with the show.
Jason: Thank you WordPress, thanks Matt Monwag for making an incredible content management system. Twitter redesigned this week. It looks fresh, it looks clean, but not much has changed. Does anybody care?
Brian: I was telling my kids in the car, explaining people's frustrations with Twitter because they know I use Twitter, and I said if you ask everybody what are the two top things you want to fix on Twitter, number one is harassment, number two is edit my tweets. Every time they come out with a new feature or redesign, it's like thanks. The iPhone mobile app now looks like the Android ones, they've standardized it a bit. They've cleaned it up across all of them. I'll tell you the weird thing is the lists are out of order, so I constantly add people to private lists of stuff I'm looking at, and it's in a different order.
Jason: But you get to the iPhone quicker. Slide to the left, list is right there. It takes two clicks instead of seven clicks.
Brian: When I explained to them how frustrating Twitter is to the users, my middle kid goes this is just like Pokemon Go. Everything we ask them to do they don't do. They take years, and they give you a thing and it wasn't what you wanted, and then they cut off the third party apps that show you where the Pokemon are. That is Twitter. That's exactly what Twitter did. Their Twitter is Pokemon Go.
Jason: Peter, you use Twitter every day. Do you care?
Peter: I went back to Tweet bot. I use Tweet Bot, it feels more power user.
Jason: Any specific feature you love?
Peter: I think that I find the UI to be more intuitive and less cluttered.
Jason: Wasn't that the strength of Twitter is that they let a thousand different flowers bloom?
Peter: Twitter is a path not taken. This is maybe seven years ago, but this is a path that is an essentially metered API business and advertising business. But if they're going to be an ad business, they have to kill the third party developer ecosystem, so they can control where are the ads are served. With third party clients, like Tweet deck, remember there was a third party that was acquiring these third party clients, they had an offer to buy Tweet deck, Twitter realized that Tweet deck got so much traffic that they couldn't do it. They were going to basically take these third party clients and introduce their own Twitter like protocol. Because Twitter was going down all the time, so they were going to say here's a backup Twitter, you can still get our messages as long as you're on one of these clients, trying to ween people away from Twitter entirely. It was kind of gangster. Didn't work, but...
Jason: Is there a way for somebody to create a Twitter 2.0, because Twitter can't seem to get out of their way.
Jason: Why not?
Peter: I think people are too entrenched. Are you a mastadon? I create an account, I set up my own instance, it's an open source version of Twitter where people can set up their own server.
Jason: Like having Minecraft servers.
Peter: It's an open standard, nobody can control it, the difference is they can decide their own rules for what they accept in terms of speech and federating to other instances. It's gotten a bit of traction. It's got maybe 4 or 5 hundred thousand users, but it isn't growing that quickly. It has some of the nice things about early days of Twitter, developers can create their own experiences around it and things like that.
Jason: I would love to see someone create a B corporation, a non-profit, not a marauding company to create a clone of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Literal clones that had ads to support them, but were made to be privacy first and consumer first, and literally just copy Facebook, because Facebook has no problem copying everybody else, right?
Dave: Sounds like a problem for Rocket internet.
Jason: Yeah. But more for people who want to have control of their data over time, and maybe not have an ad based experience. If Apple had their own social network, what would it be like? They wouldn't be...
Dave: Barely useable.
Peter: Remember app.net? They had the wrong model, they shouldn't have charged the users, they should have charged the developers, and for the first ten thousand, fifty thousand calls to the API, free, after that, you pay. But you want to put ads on your client, you don't, whatever you want to do. If Twitter had taken that strategy, we're not going to be an ad platform. Competing with Facebook and Google at their scale unless you're at that scale is difficult. They own the online ad businesses. But if you had said we're going to be this infrastructure play so to speak and developers can pay us by the pound for calls, I think Twitter would have had a much more defensible and successful business.
Jason: Last August I wrote a blog post for Recode on evolving Twitter on recode.com, I wrote this because Jack was getting ready for a debate between Leslie Jones, the hilarious woman from SNL and Ghost busters, and Ghostbusters was horrible, so Milo Yiannapolus, who is the big troll from the right starts telling her she's horrible and calls her inappropriate names, and Jack gets into the middle of it. Even though Twitter has all these tools to block people. I said why don't they, if somebody has a lot of complaints or they say something vulgar, you would know if they say one of the inappropriate words, and you'd know if they got warnings out. Why don't you just blur those tweets out by default and say click here to see the rest of the comments, they may include inappropriate things. Then people can turn that off in their settings if they want the unfiltered or they're part of the free speech camp as opposed to the snowflake, free speech, please don't hurt me with your words camp. Sure enough, I don't know if you guys noticed, have you started to notice that replies are blurred out exactly as I described? I asked somebody on Twitter to design it and if somebody says something that's a little bit charged, like the word idiot, it seems to be blurring those responses.
Brian: I've seen it when you click into photos and things like that, it's really weird because it's poorly implemented, but you'll see on your phone a full screen hardcore porn photo, and at the bottom, it won't show you the text of the tweet, so I'm seeing the whole thing here, but you're not going to show me the link?
Jason: Right, they show the image but not the content. If you read Trump's tweets, there's a new thing that's occurred. Because Trump gets so much activity with his tweets and everybody reads them, you can hijack his tweets with stuff underneath them. I put is Trump going to get impeached, yes or no. Now you can do replies and surveys.
Brian: if two verified people are having a conversation under a particular post, that ranks at the top.
Jason: They should have one that instead of verified it's infamous. Don't you think that for you and Milo...?
Dave: I'd love to be categorized with him. Thanks for that. But Trump is the best thing that happened to Twitter.
Peter: I don't know if Twitter feels that.
Dave: Twitter is losing relevance. There's only us people at the table tweeting at the table.
Jason: Let me ask this question. There was a movement, Ellen Pao from Reddit, that didn't last too long, now she's with Capor Capital, she's a partner over there, but previously she had done a sexual harassment lawsuit and she lost, but it seems like she experienced significant harassment, but she lost the case. I don't think she... she may have lost the case, but clearly she was harassed in my mind. I'll put that out there. I think in that way she is vindicated. She wrote a whole blog post about how they should delete Trump's account. Do you guys think Trump's account should be deleted if he is harassing other people? He clearly has over his life, harassed people. That is no different than Milo Yiannapolis, when you call somebody a pig, or do you think that banning the President creates chaos? What are your thoughts?
Brian: I don't think they can. Would you ban your biggest user from your service?
Peter: Facebook has this thing where there was that photo from Vietnam and they delete it saying it's child pornography and someone said there's a newsworthiness to this that transcends other terms of service concerns about the content. I think that was maybe the best argument around Donald Trump, even though he pushes some boundaries, things that might not be allowed for a more anonymous user maybe don't apply in this case, because there's a newsworthiness to the content.
Dave: But because he's tweeting so much, we're going to add Twitter to the public archives, because otherwise he would delete tweets.
Peter: There are laws around governmental records and intentions and things like that.
Jason: I want to point out that we did get 57 minutes into the program before saying Trump. We deserve a golf clap for that. It was a pretty big accomplishment. Here is the undercurrent I was hearing amongst Industry people. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I'm going to float for you what was floated for me. Group discussion amongst people who are extremely respected. Yes, the chat room can take a drink, we did mention Trump, and I mentioned inside connections and information.
Brian: Did you hear about this in your Tesla?
Jason: I was actually on a phone call in my Tesla, drink. I was in the Model S, not the X. I was in Serial Number one. Now the chatroom can all drink, they're just plastered, they all collapse. Here's the craziest theory ever. We all saw Zuckerberg going out and saying I'm going to meet everybody in 50 states, and he shows up at people's houses. Why is he doing this, he's got a company to run, is he running for President or whatever? I said I don't think he's running. I mean he might run for some office, of course. He talked about it secretly with Mark Andreesen. It came out in a lawsuit or a shareholder lawsuit because he wanted to take 2 years off for something and Mark Andreesen was trying to figure out how to finagle that with his board. But, it turns out there was this company, the Analytica Company.
Dave: Cambridge Analytics.
Jason: That has spent a large—it's very well known that a large amount of money went into that company to buy ads on Facebook. As somebody pointed out, Facebook verifies every ad. If you want to place an ad, there's somebody who looks at the ad. They will never, as this person pointed out to me, ever allow you to put an affiliate link in there. It's against their terms of service. If you put too much text, I've seen this happen, on an image, they don't let you put text on images because they can't read it. It's baked in so therefore they don't let you do that. So, there's like massive filters. I've seen maybe 10-20% of the ads we do at launch, the ads or whatever get kicked back. Ok, so they're verifying the ads. Trump's buying the ads. Now, this is where the theory gets interesting. They know that they're doing ads that are targeted to the people not to get people to vote for Trump. They know they're not going to get people to vote for Trump. It's very hard to get people to switch. But there was a group of people who came out to vote for Obama, who hadn't previously voted in an election, right? There was massive turnout. Obama had the best turnout ever. Those people were targeted.
Jason: This is known. So, they used Facebook to target those people. Those people are African-American in some cases and in these specific states. So, there was a big controversy that Facebook was allowing targeting people by race.
Jason: And the color of their skin. So, now you have Zuckerberg potentially having to explain how he allowed the platform let fake news—now you ad fake news to it. A lot of these ads were fake news. So, they were putting fake news on to get people to not vote for Hillary who were from certain demographics. Ok, this is a really bad picture. Now, there's an investigation occurring. The investigation is going to be asked during discovery. Facebook has not released the ads that they approved. The ads are going to come out. What do the ads say? Nobody knows except for Facebook and the people who did it. Then you add another layer and this is where it becomes totally insane. What if the Russians were stealing the names of these people and broke into the voter registration logs. There is a rumor that's still going around that the way the Russians were able to help were that they had the list of the voters. They had the democrat's list of the voters because they hacked the DNC, right?
Peter: And they're—yea, and that's why they're trying to get into local voting servers.
Jason: So, they weren't trying to switch the technology in the voting, but they were able to hack in and get a list of voters. They got the list of voters. They got them to Cambridge.
Jason: Cambridge Analytica. They got Facebook to run fake news ads in this theory. Facebook approved the ads. Facebook got people to not show up. And it's all going to come out because of the crazy investigation going on now.
Peter: And Mueller, you know, he's interviewing what's his name, Pasquale—like the digital director. I can't remember his last name. Is Pasquale or something like that.
Jason: And here's where it gets totally crazy.
Brian: Yea, you said you were going to lay a conspiracy theory on us. I'm waiting for that.
Jason: Well, no, this last piece of what did Facebook know. So, if you're Zuckerberg, you know this is all coming out. So, how bad is it for Zuckerberg if it comes out that the Russians stole lists, targeted people, and Facebook was the tool in which fake news was approved by them to change it if it was in fact hacked and then, they made a reported $100-$200 million dollars off these ads. So, Facebook profited and it could be Russian money. That's the piece that's the conspiracy.
Peter: I don't think Facebook can be held responsible for this.
Brian: It's what they're built to do. It's like you're using Facebook to do what Facebook is built to do and I think there's actually probably more sinister, crazy stuff going on at Facebook. They're listening to our phones. All these other things that can be even bigger than that.
Dave: Well, they are, in the Messenger App, using location services. They're putting iBeacons in. They're mailing them out to restaurants to put in their store. These restauranteurs have no idea what an iBeacon is.
Brian: Plug it in.
Jason: What are you—what is Facebook doing now?
Brian: This sounds good.
Dave: They're putting beacons, Bluetooth beacons. We talked about this on the show before. The reason why the Facebook app and the Messenger app are separated, because people had push notifications turned off on the Facebook app.
Jason: For Facebook, so, they got a second swing at the bat.
Dave: Second swing. And then they put in the iBeacon technology in that. So, I've literally had friends walk out of stores and those ads start showing up.
Dave: So, this micro-targeting Minority Report is happening on your phone.
Peter: Well, it's also about closing the loop on click attribution, right? So, if you click on an ad—
Jason: And you went to the store.
Jason: They can charge you twice as much. They can probably charge you again. They could probably charge you once for the click and once if the person comes to the store. So, you get paid by visit instead of pay by click. The other piece of this is, Zuckerberg's initial reaction to that fake news or anything could sway an election was that's preposterous. And then he quickly fell back on that. Because he can't say that—
Brian: In your deck for the advertisers, you're like, "We can sway elections." And then publicly you're like, "Well, I don't think we can sway the election."
Peter: So, I can play Jason's game also. So, I was at a very exclusive event a few weeks after—
Jason: Here we go. Drink.
Peter: Cheryl Sandberg was there speaking.
Jason: In a Tesla.
Peter: She rode in on a Tesla.
Jason: Did I drop you off in my Tesla?
Peter: Yea. And so, and people were asking her, "What the f***?" Oh, I'm sorry.
Jason: Oh. Oh.
Peter: But people actually did say that. I know, I know. I'm sorry. I apologize.
Jason: Frack, frack.
Peter: I usually don't swear that much. But people did actually say that to her. They were like—people were angry.
Jason: At her.
Peter: At her.
Jason: That's my point about Zuckerberg being on the road. It's a redemption ploy.
Peter: People said, "If you have all this data, if Facebook's so good at data, how did you let this happen? How did you not see this?" And she said, "We were blind to it." And she said, "We all thought Hillary was going to win. So, we didn't take this problem seriously."
Jason: Ah, so, that's the reason.
Jason: So, it's not that they didn't see it. They said, "Well this is getting real interested."
Peter: They said, "Well, we're getting paid. It doesn't matter."
Jason: It doesn't matter. They never in their minds said, "We take $200-million dollars. They were targeting people with fake news. Who cares? We just got the money." Which makes total sense when you think about it. Facebook is a money grab.
Peter: But not to get too far off field, but a lot of people's behavior is best explained—I mean, why did Comey do what he did? He thought Hillary was going to win. So, he thought, "You know what? Hillary's going to win. I need to preserve the reputation of the FBI because this is going to come out that I withheld information." And same thing with Obama.
Jason: This goes back to our inability to poll. So, the polls couldn't pick up on this because the people would not say that we're going to vote for Trump.
Peter: You know, actually if you read Nate Silver, the polls were actually pretty accurate and shows that Hillary won by about the margin she was expected to win by. What they couldn't pick up on was some of the slight stuff in the swing states.
Jason: Ah. It was just too, the signal was too minute.
Peter: Well, and it's also harder to poll these smaller, harder to poll the states. There was not necessarily a lot of good polling in swing states.
Jason: What are the chances, knowing what we know, because I want to keep this tech based and not make it a political show, but knowing what we know about hacking, what are the chances that other countries, Dave, know much more than we do about what occurred in—you know, we have all these other countries, are able to spy just as well as we are. And perhaps even better because they have access, I guess, to the European side of the Trans-Atlantic cables and satellites and whatever. What are the chances are that one of those foreign countries, Germany comes to mind or the French, that they have information that would be, that was hacked or that would be pertinent?
Dave: Yea, so, this is just like the TOR networks, the Onion Router. It's supposedly secure.
Jason: But it was designed by the FBI or the CIA?
Dave: It was designed by nerds.
Dave: But then the CIA and NSA created the endpoints. And if you control the endpoints, if you're that fiber link, if you're that connection going to the real world, then you can monitor all the traffic going in and out of the TOR. That's why everything is vulnerable. Look at Visio TVs. They had software that was running on the TV to show which programs you're watching. They're not just TV shows over the air, but streaming services you were watching as well. So, anything with an internet connectivity now has the ability for a two-way communication back to the server. Think about all the webcam takeovers that have happened as well. So, the IOT backlash that we're going to see is going to be pretty interesting in the next few years.
Jason: What should we do, Peter, about specifically voting? Because we now know the Russians were specifically trying to hack into specific machines and or locations. Is this correct? And what should we do as a country in terms of thinking about voting? Because we do have this wonderful, you know, because we're a United States of America and we're 50 states, I guess every state has their own and then even locations have their own processes. So, it's kind of hard to hack the whole thing. There's no central point of failure. What should we do?
Peter: Well, so, I think that we need to make sure that we have paper backups, paper ballots, right, so we can actually do a hand, manual recount of votes. And I think we should also make sure that the companies that are producing these voting machines, that they have software that we can understand and can be auditable. I would put someone like Bruce Schneier in charge. I would create an electoral—it's not going to happen in this administration.
Jason: Who's that?
Peter: He's one of the best security experts in the world. I would—
Jason: Oh, he's the guy who has the website, that denial of service attack?
Peter: And so, I would take a guy like that. I would say, "You know what? You're in charge of a blue-ribbon commission and set up best practices. Make sure that we solve this problem." It is, since it's a state by state and locality by locality thing, it's tough for the federal government to mandate. Each state is frankly in charge of its own elections. There isn't—I mean even though there's a Federal Election Commission, it's not in charge of mandating how each individual state conducts its votes. That's why we have all these different machines and all these different ways of voting.
Dave: A few years ago, I went to Estonia in my Uber drone and—ok, I flew in a real plane.
Jason: You flew on a real plane. You're talking about the flying cars that are coming.
Dave: Yea, but in Estonia—
Jason: Let's talk about that in a minute here.
Dave: They've gone to a chip based system for everything. It's one ID. It's your ATM. It's your taxes. It's your water bill, you're driver's license.
Jason: So, like the new chip in our credit cards.
Dave: In your credit cards. So, it's a very similar technology, challenge and response. Russia, which Estonia used to be a block country from Russia, Russia DDOSed the country and shut down that system. So, think about this. Now you can't get money out of the ATM. You can't pay your taxes. So, they had to literally cut their ties to the internet for a whole country. So, as much as I want the future to be this state of challenge and responses and keys and encryption, Peter's right. Paper back up.
Brian: You mentioned, right, a fail whale on election day. Sorry, we don't know who won.
Peter: Sooner or later, we're going to have a presidential election that—
Jason: Goes down.
Peter: Well, there's going to be something that happens, whether it's some credible instance of hacking or some sort of technical failure or something that happens to cause the legitimacy of the election into question. It calls the legitimacy into question. That might not be the next election, but sooner or later, it's going to happen and it's going to be a huge issue. So, it's better to get out of it now and we're not doing anything about it. In fact, you know, Trump doesn't even want to talk about there being any sort of issue with the last election because he's worried that it calls the legitimacy of his victory into question.
Jason: Right. It's particularly challenging.
Peter: Yea, and so he's not going to address it.
Jason: But I just want to put in my vote for next election. Vote for Bloomberg and Sandberg. Ok, go ahead. I voted for 2020.
Brian: I think it's going to be a race to see whether our elections turn into like a block chain based election or voting on Facebook. So, those two things are—like which of those are going to happen first, right?
Jason: Yea. All right, when we get back, Facebook is now, has an emergency check-in service that's a little bit controversial. When we get back on This Week in Tech.
Leo: May I step in for a moment just to mention a brand that's very closely associated with me because they've been an advertiser for a very, very long time. In fact, I think they've been with the radio show since the beginning which is like more than 10 years. Carbonite.com. I just talked today to Carbonite's founder, David Friend. Love David. He's now an old friend. And it just reminds me how deeply the engineers at Carbonite understand cloud backup. Not only have they been doing it longer, they have a deep understanding to the point where they're writing their own software for writing to the disc. This is a really sophisticated operation. But I don't say that very often because really, the thing that's great about Carbonite is you don't have to worry about it. All that sophistication is hidden. It is easy. Go to Carbonite.com. They've got plans for home and office. What it is, is automatic cloud backup. Backup to their servers and it's for emergencies. It's for you know, if your business burns down. Imagine what would happen if all your backups, all your computers burned. You would be out of business. So many of you don't back up and I know that the ones who do back up because they lost data. You don't have to lose data to become a backup fanatic. And Carbonite does it right. You pay once a year, flat rate. It's easy. It's very affordable. And it's one of those things you set and forget it. And they just take care of the rest. And by the way, they've got plans for all different kinds of people, all different kinds of business, for Mac, for PC, for home, for office. Their business solutions range from everything from just software you run on one PC to software that supports servers, to their E-Vault, their hardware on premises hardware backup that then backups to Carbonite. That's actually a great solution. And if you're worried about ransomware, Carbonite is the solution. You don't have to worry about WannaCry and ransomware because Carbonite keeps you safe. You've got to try it today. Go to Carbonite.com. You can try it free. There's no credit card required. It really is free. But, I have one request. Use the offer code TWiT, T-W-I-T. That way they'll know you heard it here. Helps us and it helps you too because you get 2 months free if you decide to buy. You've got to back it up to get it back. Get the best. Carbonite.com. Automatic, continuous cloud backup. Put your data in the cloud where it's safe no matter what happens. Carbonite.com. Just don't forget to use the offer code TWiT. Now we go back to the show. Thank you, guys.
Jason: Yes, welcome back to This Week in Tech. I am your guest host. Leo Laporte is on a beach somewhere drinking a Pina colada I hope. Thanks, Leo, for allowing me to do this. It's always an honor and a privilege to be here in Petaluma with Peter Rojas, Dave Matthews and Brian Alvey. This week we saw—and a very professional crew I might add. It's really—behind the scenes here is really tight. AV, everything, a very tight production. This week, back to Facebook, if you were in the location, as I understand it of a tragedy like we had this skyscraper fire in London. I'm not sure of the name of the—
Jason: Grenfell. This horrible tragedy which seems like it could have been avoided. But putting that aside, if you were in the vicinity, Facebook then says, "Hey, please check in." On top of that, if you don't check in, and you're in the area, and people were saying that they were way far out of the Grenfell area. Like they might have been nowhere near it, a mile away, whatever. 58 people have died. Wow. According to the chatroom here. That's just horrific.
Peter: It's probably going to go up.
Jason: Well, because they haven't been able to get into the building? Is that my understanding? They're still going through it?
Peter: They have to verify, yep. And there are people who are still missing.
Jason: How do we not have the technology to stop these kinds of things. Anyway, let's put that aside for a second. Facebook, I mean it's nice that Facebook wants to make sure that everyone's ok. But here's the thing that people are criticizing them for. As Facebook is apt to do, you have no choice but to check in or you are listed as not accounted for. Brian, what do you think of this approach that if you were not accounted for, your unaccounted for? It seems like unnecessarily forcing people to use Facebook. It seems heavy-handed. And it also seems like you're—well, it seems overreaching in a way. What is the intent?
Brian: I don't know what their intent is. We own the planet and everybody's on our service. Therefore, it's the universal check in. So, there's that. I don't like that it's opt out versus opt in. And you haven't told me yet why they say that this is the reason they're doing it, but I would think that they would say, "Well, if you died in the fire, you wouldn't be able to check in, therefore we have to list you as missing. But if you're safe, then you can totally check in. So, let's make it this way." So, the people that survive something aren't in some problem can actually use the product because obviously you can use your phone.
Jason: This reminds me of how the group functionality worked. When they first started Groups, you could add anybody to a group. So, the second they started the group.
Brian: You hear all the chatter.
Jason: They put myself, Mike Arrington and Mark Zuckerberg in a fake group called Man-Boy which was like a pedophile group. And they all had like pedophile group. And they put a bunch of us in there. And then it then it became a TechCrunch story. Is this them overreaching again, Peter? Is this how you would design the product or do you think they have a case to be made? If you think there's a case to be made that hey, listen, these kinds of tragedies occur very infrequently. It's in everybody's best interest for everybody to check in.
Peter: So, I am by no means a Facebook apologist. I closed my Facebook account 7 years ago.
Jason: I know. Crazy.
Peter: But I think that it's something where there isn't necessarily—it's sort of a damned if they do, damned if they don't, right?
Peter: If it's opt in—if somebody has to have the foresight to opt in to something like this and then when there's an emergency then it will only alert them as missing if they don't happen to check in, this thing doesn't really work because then you don't know who has already opted in and who hasn't. I would say that also Facebook, again, these sorts of disasters or emergencies are so infrequent that it's not necessarily going to do very much to raise their engagement numbers overall. At least I should hope that there aren't enough of these emergencies and disasters. And certainly, Facebook is not lacking for engaged users at this point anyway. So, I don't want to take a too cynical of an approach to it. They don't have to offer any sort of service like this at all.
Jason: Right, so, maybe it's just based on their past behavior. You kind of always think they're overreaching and making these things just a little too aggressive.
Peter: Totally. But in this case, I don't want to overthink it.
Brian: I like Peter's point, which is that this is a thing in your app that you're seeing, some piece of news, something in your newsfeed that you can't run ads against.
Jason: Right, if you run ads against, it will look really bad.
Brian: Why are they?
Dave: But they also just added a feature where you'll be able to donate to the Red Cross or—
Jason: Now, this is very interesting, yes. So, they'll attach to a tragedy—and this would include terrorism, I would take it, or a tsunami or a fire or an earthquake.
Dave: When you check in that you're safe from a nearby disaster, you'll have the option to share and donate to a registered non-profit related to the incident.
Jason: Who picks the non-profit? Because that would be like very controversial. Something happens in Haiti, remember, there were a bunch of people in Haiti that set up a bunch of their own non-profits and then they were hiring all of their—it was a big controversy. One of the musicians, I can't remember.
Peter: Mike Lejohn?
Jason: I don't want to say because I don't know the details. I can't remember the details.
Peter: Actually, I'm not sure.
Jason: If Wyclef did embezzle money, shame on you. And if you didn't, we apologize. Somebody was involved in some shenanigans in taking money for Haiti and then hiring their family and whatnot. But in this case, who would get to pick? Does it mention, Dave, if there was a tragedy, their picking the Red Cross or they're picking America for Haiti or something?
Dave: Dave, yea it just says that in the coming weeks it will be—to prevent people from abusing this feature, Facebook spokesperson said that a team of human moderators would interview, or review each fundraiser.
Peter: Well, this is a big issue with GoFundMe, right? Where there was this UPS shooting in San Francisco a few days ago.
Jason: Oh, my God. Yes, I saw that.
Peter: And people are setting up fake GoFundMe campaigns supposedly to benefit the families of the victims.
Brian: So, I know the woman who runs GoFraudMe, so if you follow @GoFraudMe on Twitter or she's on Facebook too. Adrian, I think. I hope I got that right. But and she's Facebook friends with friends of mine, journalist people, it's fantastic. So, she started out with, there was a GoFundMe and she kept bringing it to their attention, bringing it to their attention, please, can you take this off? It's a scam. You know, this happens all the time. There's an accident on the highway. Somebody's mom dies. Take the picture. Stick it on a GoFundMe and collect 3 grand from all the elementary schools and all the friends and churches nearby and then take the money and leave.
Brian: So, there's so much of that. It's a big piece of—
Jason: And they don't verify this?
Brian: I don't know what they do.
Jason: Yea. Don't they need to know your bank account, get your driver's license?
Brian: No other service has this reputation that they have and no other service has a GoFraudMe.
Peter: GoFundMe is a pretty low bar.
Jason: Easy going.
Peter: I mean, that's how they've grown, right, is they've had a low bar and if they had really high standards, the service wouldn't be as successful as it is.
Jason: All right, let's take a final break and let's see what happened this week. There was so much that happened on the TWiT Network. Let's see what happened on the TWiT Network.
Narrator: Previously, on TWiT.
Father Robert Ballecer: Bryan, one of the things that we have to watch out for because we're geeks, is exposure. This is the Winterial POP UP tent. Unclip it and then you just go, "Oh, I want a house."
Bryan Burnett: Boom.
Fr. Robert: Boom. And that's what you go.
Narrator: This Week in Law.
J. Michael Keyes: Kiss and frankly a variety of rock bands over the last several decades have used the devil horn sign. I guess some debate whether the thumb should be out or not. Gene Simmons has filed a trademark application to trademark that, claiming that he came up with it on his own.
Andrew Torrez: I think the court can take judicial notice of the fact that Ronnie James Dio invented the devil horns. I think there's prior art here.
Narrator: This Week in Enterprise Tech.
Lou Maresca: This is actually an interesting one and a bit scary for any person who wears or needs modern day medical devices. After reviewing 7 pacemaker products from 4 different vendors, they were able to find 10 security vulnerabilities that most of them shared and then also found that from the components that they're actually made up of included 8,600 security flaws.
Brian Chee: They're concentrating on the medicine, which, God bless them, that's what they really should be. But they really and truly need to bring in security specialist as part of the design process.
Narrator: TWiT. Making the world safe from technology.
Jason: And what an amazing week it was on the TWiT Network. Let's see what's going to happen next week.
Megan Morrone: It's been a few weeks since the One Plus 5 was announced and this week we will hear more details about the Android phone with the Snapdragon 835 processor and a rumored duel camera setup on the back if the leaks are to be believed. If you are a heavy user of Facebook Groups, you might be interested in the first ever Facebook Community Summit on June 22nd and 23rd in Chicago. Admins will gather and share in real life, hopefully giving each other a lot of thumbs up with their actual thumbs. And finally, this week, more than 26,000 screaming fans will also get to interact in real live with their favorite YouTube creators at VidCon, one of the largest conferences for people who love online video. Those are just some of the stories that Jason Howell and myself will be covering this week on Tech News Today, every Monday through Friday at 4:00 PM Pacific. See you there.
Jason: Wow. It's going to be an exciting week. I cannot wait to see what's happening at VidCon with all the YouTube stars. It's a little bit of madness over at YouTube right now because a lot of the stars, I was watching one of them who's super critical of YouTube right now because they keep turning off monetization on his ads.
Jason: He's the guy who starts every video with, "You beautiful bastards. Hello, you beautiful bastards."
Brian: Is that Philip DeFranco?
Jason: Philip DeFranco.
Brian: Oh, look at that.
Jason: There you go.
Dave: You're a millennial now.
Jason: Philip DeFranco. How are you doing, you beautiful bastards? Anyway, Philip DeFranco is like really going ham and he's basically—that's hard as you can imagine. And he is really upset because they keep turning off, every time he talks about the news, they turn off monetization because they don't want to have ads on news stories like the fire we were talking about or you know, just any news story. They don't trust this. But then CNN, he pointed out, had tons of ads on there. So, obviously, they have a double standard. And he is actually now going with the Patreon kind of route of—I think he's doing it direct where people pay him directly and then he's doing videos off of YouTube. Everybody seems to be a little bit upset about it.
Dave: It seems that a couple of years ago this came through as well, right?
Jason: It's the—yea, it just seems that at a certain point you get too big for YouTube. But YouTube specifically now has had to say—yea, I think we've got a show title, You Beautiful Bastards. Specifically, now YouTube is turning off the monetization on a lot of ads. I think it's even after 10,000. It's just a harder game to play.
Dave: Didn't you do a blog post on this?
Jason: Years ago I was like—well, I just said to myself I don't, I mean they're asserting too much control over it to make it worth anybody's time. Also, this week, E3. Or wait. E3 is next week or—
Peter: No, it just happened.
Jason: It just happened. And now, E3—I went to the first one years and years and years ago when they launched the first PlayStation.
Dave: It's the gaming show, by the way.
Jason: It's the gaming show, E3. My understanding is it used to be only trade. Then it became trade but everyone kind of snuck in. And then they said, "No, we're going back to trade." And then this year they said, "Let's make it Comic-Con." Is that right? They let 15,000 people in one day or something?
Peter: I think they're opening it back. I actually went the one year where they split it up and put it in like a hanger in Santa Monica and made it really small.
Jason: They made it a trade show. I remember that.
Peter: It was pretty bad.
Jason: It was terrible.
Peter: But there's still—you know, what's great is that it's still an event where the big players make big announcements. I mean I thought the announcement of the Xbox One X which the name I don't necessarily love.
Dave: They want to keep that brand of Xbox One.
Peter: No, hey, I get that. It's a little clunky.
Dave: Is it cost reduced?
Peter: So, they dropped the price on the Xbox One S I believe, or the original Xbox One, whichever it is. But the Xbox One X is what was called Project Scorpio. And so, this will be their high end, 4K ready box which I think is going to launch in November for $500 bucks.
Jason: This is the new Xbox.
Peter: The new one that's going to—yea. And so, it will be backwards compatible so you can play Xbox One, I think even Xbox 360.
Jason: What are they calling it again?
Peter: Xbox One X. I know.
Jason: So, it was Xbox One now it's Xbox One X.
Jason: Xbox still the best-selling console, right?
Peter: So, actually the PlayStation 4 was beating the Xbox One in this generation.
Jason: Do young people still want these devices or do you think it's going to go back to PC based games because of the headsets? Or do you think that they're going to—the headsets will actually win with the consoles?
Peter: So, obviously the PS4 has PlayStation VR and then Microsoft actually said very little about VR at this, in relation to the Xbox One X. But, they do have, Microsoft is introducing, or Microsoft's OEM partners are introducing VR headsets later this year, like Lenovo and I think Acer has one.
Jason: So, third parties will put—
Peter: They haven't confirmed but the speculation is that these 3rd party headsets—
Jason: Do people want that? Do the console people want that or do they just want to play like the most amazing, what is it, Overcast I'm always playing or whatever that one is.
Peter: There's Overwatch.
Jason: Overwatch. Not Cast. For some reason—Overwatch. Overwatch is the big one. Do they really want VR or do they just want the next Overwatch?
Peter: I think it's both. I mean different gamers want different things. I mean I think gaming is so big now but it's hard to cast everyone, paint everyone with on brush. I tend to be more VR focused in my gaming but there's certainly, like I was saying earlier, there's certain games that you can play in 4K which just look amazing and if Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn't come out for PC, I'll definitely buy an Xbox One X to play it in 4K.
Dave: The PS4 VR is pretty amazing and the controller shows up in the space, glowing. You don't see your hands but they really did a nice job with the integration of game play with the VR, better than any other experience I think.
Peter: Skyrim for VR which is coming.
Jason: I am particularly excited because celebrating the 20th anniversary of Age of Empires, which was a game that I loved in my 20s. We used to play it like crazy. The real-time strategy game, Age of Empires is coming back. They've remastered it and supposedly Bill Gates had something to do with it. In a Reddit AMA he said, "Hey, we've got to bring this back. People love it." So, they're doing the Age of Empires as a definitive edition and they remastered all the visuals in 4K. And they did this incredible video where they show the original game and then they show this incredible 4K where you can zoom in and it is, it looks just amazing compared to where it was at. But is this going to be a trend you think, of like some of these games are going to come back? In the same we have, they had to do Ghostbusters again, they've got to reboot everything. Now are they going to reboot every video game, Brian?
Brian: Of course, they are. It's no different than, you know, well, you said Ghostbusters but no, they'll bring everything back. Why not, right? If you now have the money to buy all that stuff you couldn't buy when you were a kid and they can charge you a fortune for it and you can buy a rig for it, you know, go to town.
Jason: Interesting. I'm wondering at what age—Peter, we both have kids. And you have kids a little bit older.
Brian: Both of my kids are doing—both of my sons do Overwatch and VR. And they split between the two and they fight over the one PC we have.
Jason: What age is the right age to introduce kids to video games and then what are the rules? So, what are you thinking about for your boys, Peter? Are they allowed to play games?
Peter: A little bit.
Jason: Ok, and well, how do you approach that, because I have kids who are playing Minecraft at home for 10 hours a day, right? They're contemporary.
Peter: So, I've convinced my kids, they're 4 and 8, that it's more fun to watch me play than to play themselves. I'm not kidding. It's amazing.
Jason: Oh, ok. It's incredibly sinister. Wow. So unbelievable!
Peter: They're like, "Can we play Legend of Zelda?" I'm like, "Yea." So, they sit and watch me play Legend of Zelda.
Brian: If they'll watch people on YouTube play for 10 hours, they might as well watch dad.
Jason: This is inspired.
Peter: No, they're giving me tips. They're like, "Go to that shrine," and stuff like that, so.
Jason: Parker, I'm going to—I'm speaking to one of the young people whose name is Parker and I'm going to introduce my daughter and let her know that eating ice cream is better when she watches me eat ice cream. Much better experience to watch me eat ice cream than to have her actually eat the ice cream. Brian, what is your approach to video games with your kids now? Because we all grew up in the Atari generation and our parents didn't know what to think. It was kind of like voodoo to them. They were a little concerned. Are you concerned about and how do you manage the number of hours? Because this stuff is designed now—when we played it they just barely got the games out and they barely worked. But now they're designed to be addictive. They've added gamification to a level that's different then just can you get to the top of Donkey Kong or it's addicting with the badges and the gold and the coins and all this stuff. How do you handle it?
Brian: Sure. So, we have a strict rule in our house is that you can't play video games or watch YouTube while you sleep or when you shower or when you're swimming in the pool. Other than that, 24 hours a day.
Jason: Got it. So, if there's water involved.
Brian: That's it. We really don't limit them much. We want them to eat with us and not be in a game.
Jason: Ok, so, when they're eating they can't game.
Brian: I don't have any concern with them building stuff in Minecraft, what they're downloading, showing each other stuff, working together on things.
Dave: It sounds to me, Brian, that there's a water problem in your technology.
Jason: Yea, did someone drop the Vive in the pool? Are you telling me someone took the Oculus Rift in the pool?
Brian: I think the kids are figuring out, there's got to be a way we can play while we're swimming.
Jason: Yea, I think they thought when you go the Oculus Rift, they said Oculus Skiff and they thought—dad joke. Sorry about that.
Brian: We don't stop them. I mean, you know.
Jason: What about having the devices be monitor out in a family room as opposed to privately using devices? Because there's another thing I'm a little bit concerned with, with the devices at school because in my daughter's last school, kids were in the playground. They would let grades K through 6 or maybe even 8, or K through 6 would have recess together. And you thought, well, this is crazy because whatever the 5 and 6-year-olds are looking on their phones because—or the 5th and 6th graders on their phones, which they're starting to get phones. Oh, my God, they're going to start showing things on their phones, and phone is open to everything.
Brian: So, we lucked out which is that we only have the one like, you know, Alienware VR ready Vive PC in the house. So, they fight over that. Each kid has like a $2,000-dollar Mac. They hate me because we only have one Windows machine in the house, right? So, they fight over it. But, it's in a central room and it happens to be a screen and we can see what they're looking at all day long.
Jason: Got it.
Brian: So, that's actually—I never thought about it. We never designed it that way. But they're forced to sit at a card table in like our living room.
Jason: What about phones and stuff like that? I was talking to one parent who said they have an app on the phone that everything on the phone is recorded.
Brian: Yea, we haven't done that yet.
Jason: Peter, what are your thoughts when you introduce the phone to the mix? Are you going to be trust but verify or verify and don't worry about trust?
Peter: I'm not sure yet. I mean—
Jason: Because your kids are going to Google this video.
Peter: My older son has, you know, his YouTube videos turn out quite well.
Jason: Yea, I know, he's got some cooking videos.
Peter: Yea. And I mean, he's in a school that doesn't allow any sort of screens or devices at all, at the school but they also strongly discourage it at home as well. And it's actually kind of nice. So, the kids are not—it's not a big part of their lives. Obviously, they see them. They watch me play video games sometimes and things like that. But, I'm not sure when I'm going to introduce phone. I have an 8-year-old, the oldest one.
Jason: He's got to be talking about them.
Peter: You know, he's really not that focused on it, to be honest. I don't think— I think that we think that they're obsessed with it because we're obsessed with them, but at least for my kids, they're not—they don't spend a lot of time like demanding a phone or arguing about a phone, getting a phone.
Jason: Dave, I would ask you about your kids, but you would have to be able to—
Dave: Find someone to love me.
Jason: Exactly. I know you're single.
Dave: I know where you were going with that. Well put.
Jason: I was just, you know—I don't want to make you feel bad.
Dave: No, but when I have children—I do want children, but when I do they'll have full Google contacts, retinal VR, maybe the Matrix plug in the back.
Jason: So, you'll let them have the wet wear brain computer?
Dave: Yea, I'll do that.
Brian: The Elon Musk mesh.
Jason: I mean that's going to be the real discussion is your kids are going to come and say, "Hey, can I get that like AirPods?" Can I implant this into my brain?
Dave: Just like in 2006 the NSA had the forked fiber, the closet in the room where all the fiber was cloned. I have that same cyber clone too.
Jason: All right. We'll have some closing thoughts when we get back on This Week in Tech.
Leo: May I interrupt one more time? You guys feel like you're a little—you're needing a snack. Can I just say it? A little and we're going to—John, bring in the Naturebox. Naturebox. Everybody gets a snack. This is the best part about TWiT is the Naturebox snack time. What do you do when you need a snack but all you can find is junk food? You know, you go back and you've got the vending machine with ten-year-old candy bars in there and you know, you know you're going to buy it and you're going to eat it and you're going to feel terrible in about ten minutes. Self-control isn't going to do it. You need Naturebox. Start snacking healthy. When you're given the choice, and we give our staff Naturebox. When you're given the choice, Naturebox snacks, they taste great. You want them. But they're also better for you. Created with high quality ingredients. They're free from artificial colors and flavors and sweetening. And they're so delicious. Big Island Pineapple, always one of our favorites. It's just the best dried pineapple and that's all it is. Chewy, satisfying, flavorful. You open the bad and you feel like you're on the islands. It's—oh, man, and all the bags by the way, they're nice sized. Cranberry Almond Bites. Oh, you may want to eat the whole thing there. Oh, you know what Sara Lang used to love? She ate us out of the Whole Wheat Raspberry Figgy Bars. There were never any left (laughing). Naturebox recently made their service better because you asked for it. Now you can order as much as you want, as often as you want. Great for your business and there's no minimum purchase and you can cancel anytime. So, it's a service that really is for you. It really serves you. Go to Naturebox.com/twit. Naturebox.com/twit. Check out the snack catalog. There are 100 snacks to choose from and more all the time. And if at any time you don't like the snack, they will replace it for you absolutely free. But, so, be adventurous. They've got sweet, savory, spicy and so many delicious snacks, you'll never get bored. Naturebox. And new snacks every month based completely on your feedback, customer feedback. So, you tell them what you like. If they don't have it, they'll get it. Right now, you're going to save even more because we're giving you 50% off your first order. Half-off when you go to Naturebox.com/twit. Don't let these guys in the studio have all the fun. You should have some Naturebox at home or at the office. Naturebox.com/twit. Your kids will love it too, by the way. And get 50% off your first order. Naturebox.com/twit. We thank them so much for their support of This Week in Tech. Now, let's wrap things up with our great roundtable. Thanks, guys.
Jason: Hey everybody. Welcome back to This Week in Tech. Honey, we shrunk the panel (laughing). We're all going swimming right now in the deep end of the pool and we're trying to keep up with our microphones. Hey everybody. We've got Naturebox here. Going to pass out a little Naturebox. If anybody wants—hey, I'm trying to pass out some Naturebox. Leo had no idea that when he got the—
Dave: Moving table (laughing).
Jason: The moving table, it would be used in this fashion. Oh, my God. Oh! We're falling. The table's going away. No, we'll adjust the table. If you're listening, you can't get the joke because we're—Leo installed a table that you can go up and down. I think we have a name for the show. Show title, Honey, We Shrunk the Panel. Here we go. Naturebox being given out here. Let's pass along some Naturebox to everybody. Hey, I'll give one to the audience. Somebody over there catch. It's coming. Oh, Naturebox. Thank you for sponsoring TWiT.
Brian: That's a new challenge for the audience.
Jason: Yea, absolutely.
Brian: IOT hack this table during the show.
Jason: All right, here we go. If anybody from Def Con is listening, if you figure out how to hack this table I will send you—
Brian: We will give you a Crunchy Barbeque Twists.
Jason: We will send you a year of Naturebox. The first hacker to move the table (laughing). I don't think the table's IP enabled.
Dave: It's Internet of Table. It's IOT.
Jason: Internet of Table.
Peter: It's connected to a server in China right now, so.
Jason: All right, as we wrap up here, I'm going to ask my panel what is their favorite gadget, app, service or generally startup that they've engaged with in the past 6 months. Again, your favorite app, your favorite service, favorite website. Any of those things, your favorite new technology, gadget, hardware, service, software, any of those items. Can't pick something that, yea. But you can't pick NewAir, ok Dave? Just letting you know. I mean I know NewAir's doing wonderfully, but what is your favorite new thing? Like Oprah's favorite new things. Peter, you seem ready. And it can be two or three.
Peter: So, you know, I have a Vive headset. I play a lot of VR. And a couple of games I'm really excited about, Star Trek Bridge Crew which is—
Jason: Ok, we're playing this later, right?
Peter: The 4 of us could play. It's a collaborative, cooperative game. You play the bridge crew of a Star Fleet vessel. And one person plays captain and one person plays helmsman.
Jason: I could be Kirk?
Peter: Yea, you can play the old school Enterprise or you can play- and it's great. You go on these missions and you have to coordinate, right? You have to work together. I mean engineering has to make sure that they move power from the shields to the engines and things like that. Or make sure that—
Jason: I'm giving it all I can, Peter.
Peter: It's a lot of fun.
Jason: Is it?
Peter: It's a lot of fun.
Jason: And adults are playing this?
Peter: Yea. Oh, yea.
Jason: When your wife sees you and Peter, you and Ryan playing this—
Peter: Full costume.
Jason: You're in a full costume (laughing). No, seriously. If your wife comes in and sees you playing this, like what's the discussion? Does she tell you, you have a time limit with an egg timer?
Peter: So, I'm wearing this headset, sitting there. And the last time I was playing I was tactical.
Jason: He's dead, Jim.
Peter: Permission to fire photon torpedoes, Captain.
Jason: Damn it, Jim. I'm a doctor.
Peter: Target destroyed, Captain. We take it very seriously.
Jason: So, does she laugh at you?
Peter: She's very cross.
Jason: Yea, I can tell that this is like—I mean it's one thing to drink beer all day and watch like back-to-back football games. It's a whole other thing to be in a Star Fleet battle when your kids need to like do their math homework.
Peter: Yea, no, I usually play after they go to bed. So, I don't have that level of guilt. But you do really feel like you're in the same—I mean, I'll be sitting here and the captain will be like behind, and you look back and you see the other player. You see an avatar of the other person. And it maps your hand movements and stuff like that. It's very immersive.
Jason: Can you play Ensign Crusher? Is there an Ensign in this? Can we add a 5th? I feel like we're getting the short end of the stick.
Peter: It's just 4 right now.
Jason: We've got to get Will Wheaton in there. In fact, I think Will Wheaton should just basically, they should just pay him specifically to play VR for 12 hours a day.
Peter: I would watch him. If he played it on Twitch, I would watch him.
Jason: No, seriously. Like, what are we—I mean, I think we could get Will Wheaton for what, like $20, $50-bucks an hour. We will say, "We will pay you."
Peter: I think he's more expensive than that.
Jason: If I made the software, I would literally pay Will Wheaton to be there. They should pay the cast members for like a VIP experience.
Peter: They did a promo video where they got, I think they got LeVar Burton and I can't remember who else.
Jason: He's available.
Peter: But I think they got members of the crew—
Jason: I think he's doing, LeVar Burton I think is doing voice mail messages right now. He'll do VR>
Peter: He's doing a Reading Rainbow.
Brian: He has a Reading Rainbow Kickstarter.
Jason: Yea. No, I like him, LeVar. He's cool. But this is actually very interesting. Think about it. People do celebrity appearances. That's a big Star Trek thing. We were just talking about—what's the parody film?
Brian: Galaxy Quest.
Jason: Oh, my God. Galaxy Quest is incredible.
Brian: I watched it a week ago.
Jason: I've seen that film like three or four times. It gets better every time.
Brian: It's so good.
Jason: But, they could literally do a VR where you go and play with—what would those Trekkies pay to literally be there with Will Wheaton, LeVar Burton.
Peter: Oh, people would pay, totally.
Jason: But what would they pay?
Dave: I think the answer is anything.
Jason: I think they would pay $1,000 to play for 2 hours with them. You don't need to have everybody play. You just get like 2 or 3 people. You record it.
Dave: Syndicate it, yea.
Jason: It's like these guys who wrote a Rock and Roll camp. You know what a Rock and Roll Camp is? Guys like whatever people in like whatever hair metal, you pay like $5,000-dollars to play with them.
Brian: You get to play with the 3rd bass player from Styx or whatever.
Brian: Not even like the original band.
Jason: In related news, I'm going on tour with the original members of Dire Straits this summer. What is your favorite gadget?
Dave: So, it's to be determined whether I'll use this or not. But I got a—
Jason: He's holding up the Amazon Wand.
Dave: The Amazon Wand. We'll see if that's good. I'm going to be testing that. I'll be talking about it on my social media channels. But, personally, I got a Boosted Board which is a skateboard—
Jason: Explain what it is to people who don't know.
Dave: The version 2 of the skateboard came out. I have a Tesla dream but not a wallet that will support that. Or three Teslas. How many do you have now, Jason? 3?
Jason: Let's not talk about it. I mean I'm going to run for mayor at mayorjason.com and I've got to be a man of the people.
Dave: So, the Boosted Board's cool.
Jason: It's not helping with 3 Teslas.
Dave: There's a handheld controller that's Bluetooth and you can set this thing for 12 miles an hour to 22 miles an hour for about 6 miles.
Jason: This is how, and correct me if I'm wrong, but this is how rich developers in San Francisco wind up in the ER.
Dave: Yea, that's exactly right.
Jason: This is how they break their elbows.
Dave: It does have brakes on it. The brakes are—
Jason: The brakes stop the board but you go flying.
Dave: Yea, you go flying, right. So, there's this thing called inertia and it's a longboard with a relatively low center of gravity. But you will die.
Jason: It is true. I met the founder. I passed on investing on this thing, but the way it works, the Boosted Board, is you have a hand controller that looks like those old RC controllers, the radio controllers. And that's how you pick your speed.
Dave: That's right.
Jason: And I am seeing more and more of them in the city. They have a battery pack underneath them. And it goes what, 15 miles per hour?
Dave: Up to 22 on the new version. Wat's amazing about this—
Jason: Wait a second. 22 miles an hour.
Dave: It's scary but it's so fun.
Jason: On a bicycle, how fast—if you're pedaling fast on level ground, how fast does a bicycle go?
Dave: Your bikes have 26" wheels, or 27" wheels.
Jason: And this thing has—
Dave: Has just like 2" wheels. So, the big thing is with all the potholes around the city—and you watch Casey Neistat and the other YouTubers, he's going around New York without a helmet, dodging potholes and taxicabs while filming.
Jason: Listen. This is a message to Casey. Casey, you know I love you. You have great hair. I will not debate it. That guy's got great hair. You have great hair, too.
Dave: Thank you.
Jason: Put a helmet on. I know you've got great hair. Put a helmet on. I mean if I had that hair, I probably wouldn't wear a helmet as well, but for safety, we don't want Casey Neistat missing episodes. What is that thing—I mean, embarrass yourself even more. You're an adult with an electric skateboard. How much did you pay for this? Is this over $1,000 dollars?
Dave: Yea, it's $1,500 bucks.
Jason: You paid $1,500 for a skateboard?
Dave: A few years ago I built a skateboard for my 43rd birthday. So, I'm like, "Well, that's a couple three years ago." I had to push it. And I wanted to get around the city in a new way. I quit riding Vespa's, so.
Jason: Yea, stop with the Vespa's. Vespa's are safe.
Dave: Yea, I would rebuild Vespa's, crash and bring them back to life. And I wanted to try the skateboard, so. But my favorite thing for learning and education is EZ-Robot. And if you think about Arduino, Raspberry Pi, these platforms, you can put sensors on them. You can make robots. So, the website is EZ-Robot.com and my buddy DJ made this product which is essentially the Uber—are you going to the website? Oh, you did pull it up. So, EZ-Robot lets you do programming, logic, camera detection, machine learning, scripting. And for $200-bucks—there's DJ. For $200-bucks you get this platform where everything's in the box and the servos won't burn out. If you would try to piece this together on your own, you'd have a hodgepodge of systems and these guys have nailed it with education and STEM and Steam.
Jason: Brian, what do you got?
Brian: Well, I have simple gadget needs. We have that Vive, we have—you know, I like my phone. We don't have a lot of stuff, the Apple TV, right?
Jason: No new apps, nothing.
Brian: Yea, so apps, yea.
Jason: Any business offer?
Brian: I live in Slack. I guess if I had to pick a technology, React Native. So, you know, all for decades they've said that you just program it in Java. It's going to run everywhere and it doesn't, right? React Native actually does. So, I'm having a lot of fun being a developer again after retiring from that, you know, years and years ago. So, React Native.
Jason: Kevin Rose has a new fasting app that he has which is called Zero, and it allows you to pick a fast—people are saying, "Hey, fasting is probably how humans biology worked originally." One of the reasons we're all getting so God damned fat is because we don't fast. And there's like three or four different types of fasting. One is Circadian which is, I think means something about those bugs in those parks.
Brian: Yea, you eat crickets.
Jason: Right, crickets or something. Circadian means I think you go to bed. Circadian. I'm sorry. I didn't go to graduate school, Peter. But Circadian, Circadian, I don't know. Whatever this is—I don't know. Cubic Zirconia, the Zirconia fasting is when you go to bed, when the sunset goes down, you stop eating and when the sun comes up, you can eat again. And it's just this simple app. It's free. He's not monetizing it yet. But it works really well. And there's your other title. I didn't go to graduate school, Peter.
Brian: But that is why they call it breakfast because you're breaking the fast.
Jason: Correct. Thanks, Brian. And then he's doing another, he's doing another—one of the things, I just had Kevin on my podcast and he's doing a app for mediation called Oak. But if you type into Facebook Groups, you just search for Oak Meditation App, he's doing a Group where you can watch him build the app and learn how much it costs. To your point, Brian, React Native, is like building websites, but you can make one code base that works on Android, the web, and iOS.
Brian: It's in CSS and Java Script and then you get an Android and an iOS.
Jason: But it feels snappy like an app.
Brian: It's really, really good.
Jason: Is Apple going to let you into the App Store with it or are they going to be persnickety?
Brian: No, so we've already done it. I have friends who've done it. So, you're in the app store, but even better than that, it's a Java Script bundle that runs the whole thing. And you can circumvent the App Store. So, not only—
Jason: What do you mean?
Brian: What I mean is, not only while you're developing can you see it faster on a simulator and stuff like that, which is way faster than doing—but once you get into the App Store, you put a major version in there, you make a bunch of changes that aren't native code, you can push them all day long without Apple's approval because Apple's cool with it.
Dave: So, the dip changes.
Brian: Right. So, what happens is the app fires up and says—it's like checking a CDN. Here's a new Java Script bundle and you can set it on wake or on first load or on sign in.
Jason: And they don't mind that?
Brian: No, it will download. So, that's how your newsfeed can go to all the advertisers on the left. Now they're on the right. You don't have to worry that people 2 versions back are seeing them on the left.
Jason: So, this is Apple's original position on the App Store was that they don't want you making changes that they don't check. So, how does that change it? Does that mean people doing React have an advantage now?
Brian: And so, I do. I think people at React do have an advantage because of this code functionality. But, if you think about it, it's design changes. It's not fundamental, it doesn't change how the app works.
Brian: Right? But it changes how it looks.
Jason: Which is kind of how the app works. Kind of feels like we're splitting hairs. I don't want to get you in trouble, but—
Brian: In a newsfeed, a webpage, you can change it all day long. Think about it like that.
Jason: Interesting. It's interesting because they want to have control over apps and it's one of the reasons things work so smoothly on Apple and on Android you have all these copycat apps and chaos and security issues in the App Store.
Peter: But it shouldn't introduce any security issues or any malicious code issues. I think that's why they allow it.
Jason: And they're certainly tightening the noose a bit over at Apple with the extra ware. Like, the asking, the incessant begging for reviews which is so annoying. There should be a global setting that says, "Do not ask me for reviews." I don't care about your review issue for your apps.
Brian: If you ask automatically zero stars.
Jason: Waze is like—I love Waze. Saves so much time! But Waze is like, "Did you know that our rank is—you can help spread the word." I'm like I'm not here to spread the word about your app. I don't want to go to ratings. I don't care. All right, listen. It's been an amazing episode of This Week in Tech, if I do say so myself. Do I pick the actual name, or are you guys going to pick the name? In the chatroom, give us suggestions for names right now. And—what's that? At the end of the show I'll do that and we'll wrap up now. I'll thank Peter Rojas. Peter, if people want to pitch you on an app and get your money as a venture capitalist, they should just call your mobile phone which is 415—no, what is the best way?
Peter: I have a 212 cell number.
Jason: You're still rocking 212? Wow, I'm thinking about getting my 718 number just to F with people.
Dave: I have every area code. I have Dallas, Boston, New York,
Jason: I was looking at premium numbers. Like wouldn't it be baller to have like, you know, whatever, 212, whatever, 415, 555-1212 or something. Or 1000. What would those cost?
Dave: Those are expensive, aren't they?
Jason: Take a guess.
Brian: Eighty grand.
Jason: No, not that much. I didn't see any eighty grand ones. It was $500-dollars to about $10,000 dollars was the range for—and I think the $10,000 ones were like the 1000s, like you know, 456-1000.
Brian: Like the car service in New York. 666-6666.
Jason: That one I don't know.
Brian: Carmel. They paid a lot of money for that.
Dave: Wozniak has all these numbers. He's been collecting phone numbers for decades. And he can't use them because they're such easy numbers that when kids pick up the phone—there used to be dial tones by the way. There used to be this thing you would pick up and—
Jason: Wozniak collects premium phone numbers.
Dave: Phone numbers. He's been doing it—
Peter: Because he's a phone freak. He's a freaker back in the day. That's how he got started.
Jason: Interesting you mention that. My first experience with computers, you'll remember this, Brian, when we were at Xaverian, War Dialer. And Sprint used to allow you—Sprint had one number. You'd call the number. Then you would dial the number you wanted to dial. It would give you a different sounding dial tone. Then you would put in a 5-digit code or a 6-digit code. And what the War Dialer did is it would just guess numbers. And you'd wake up in the morning with 5 new numbers.
Dave: For bridging?
Jason: To get a phone call. So, then, we started at our school—
Peter: You were driving for BBSs?
Jason: Well, we just got free phone numbers. We could get free usage of phones. And the idea was then we could call California BBSs for a dollar a minute. We started doing that. And then at school I started telling people to do this and we started using the phone at Xaverian to do it but then I started getting paranoid that people were watching us or there might be the FBI or CIA because I heard people got busted in Queens. So, we stopped doing it.
Brian: A little bit like proxies and that sort of thing. Like people would do today, you know?
Peter: Oh, I see. I gotcha.
Brian: I want to balance out that.
Jason: Basically, this is how crazy it was, Sprint would allow you, you would get a code in your office for Sprint. Like if you were a traveling salesperson. And they just say, "Use this 6-digit code. Dial Sprint. Dial the 6-digit code then dial whatever phone number you want."
Peter: Yea, that's how you used to do—if you travel a lot, that's how you did long distance. You went up to a pay phone and you dialed their 800 number.
Jason: Then you had your 6-digit code. So, you could get them. It was crazy. It was nutty. I can't believe I didn't get caught.
Peter: Because you'd be in jail right now.
Jason: Well, I can talk about it. Statue's got to be up, right? I mean, I don't know. Maybe we'll have guys waiting for us after this. Gadget Guy, Dave Matthews. Everybody check out NewAer and follow @GGDM.
Dave: That's it.
Jason: Follow @DDGM on Twitter.
Dave: Twitter, Instagram.
Dave: All the fun services.
Jason: And listen. I'm going to go back to Burning Man this year.
Dave: Cool. I'll be there.
Jason: I ran into you at Burning Man.
Dave: Oh, it was lovely.
Jason: You had a—
Dave: Boeing 747 that we turned into one of the largest art pieces at Burning Man.
Jason: And when he says he had a Boeing 747, what I mean by that is he had cut the first half of a jet.
Dave: Yea, we bought the whole plane in the Mojavi. And it's at bigimagination.org if you want to check this out. We're raising funds right now because it's really expensive it turns out to bring a non-flying fuselage to La Playa. And we've got benefactors that are coming in to help match us dollar for dollar.
Jason: You did this one time. When you get the plane there, then you outfit it with LEDs.
Dave: Yep. 24,700 LEDs that I had a team.
Jason: Here it is. Look at this.
Dave: This is the 747 in the Mojavi. This is my scaled composite.
Jason: How old is that plane? From the 60s or something?
Jason: It's a decommissioned plane.
Dave: We cut it apart here. We're cutting the wing off in this photo. It will be 1st story views to look out amongst the playa. But when you're in the upper deck, that will be ultimately a convertible in that bubble and from that convertible-
Jason: This is the one I saw.
Dave: A three-story view. Yea, you saw the first portion of the plane. So, this is a 5-year project.
Jason: Yea, I was in the cockpit.
Dave: Yep. We had the Smile High Club in the cockpit. And the whole idea with this is we wanted to build the largest moving art piece, that we could bring everyone together. Because Burning Man has what's called radical inclusion. Anyone can do anything. When we built art cars before, and a car that I did with some of my crew, Charlie the Art Car which made its way to a Quiznos commercial you might have seen making fun of Burning Man. We had to push people away. And we thought with the art plane we could have a fuselage that—
Jason: You could get a lot of people.
Dave: As many people, yea.
Jason: And there were a good number of people inside of it.
Dave: So, every year we're bringing back more of the plane. So, we'll have the full plane there in 4 years.
Jason: So, what's it like to be able to have millions of dollars that you can put into a pile of—and then just burn. I mean, who underwrites the buying of a plane? How much did this cost? Be honest.
Dave: So, it's a multi-million dollar project. But we have benefactors and investors behind it. I'm labor so I can give away my—
Jason: Ok, so it's not your money.
Dave: Not my money.
Jason: Not your money. But let's just—suffice it to say, some billionaire thought that this would be cool and gave you guys millions of dollars.
Dave: No. We beg, borrow, plead. We raised $79,000-dollars on Indigogo last year to help fund the moving of it.
Brian: The plane's stolen. He can't say that.
Dave: The plane we bought for aluminum value because no engines are on the plane. So, it's like a Hollywood plane where they might shoot a set in.
Jason: Where's the plane now?
Dave: So, we bring it to Gerlach which is the community outside Burning Man and it sits there. So, we have to do rolling road closures because it blocks 3 lanes of traffic.
Jason: Well, given all the serious problems we have in society, I'm glad that you're putting the—
Dave: It's a non-profit. We're doing this to show people—
Jason: (Laughing) You don't say? Art has a specific value. Art has a value in the world. I just don't think it's a couple million dollars, but ok. Listen, there's some guy who will wrap a huge building in orange cloth. I thought that was cool too. It's all right. Hey, listen. Who am I to criticize it? I mean I'm going to criticize it, but—
Dave: I curate the art program on the plane. So, if you're an artist and you want to put your works inside of this space, we have a digital interactive space with the latest technology in the dustiest environment in the world so we can—
Jason: It's crazy. And Brian Alvey, thanks again for coming. You can follow Brian Alvey @brianalvey on the Twitter. And blocked by Trump yet or no?
Jason: Not blocked. I got blocked by Eric Trump this week.
Peter: Oh, congratulations.
Jason: Yea. I'm working on the trifecta. Ivanka's still following and Donald Trump Junior's still following. But I'll get them. I'll get there. I think I've been working on just posting all the pictures of them killing like big cats and elephants and you know, murdering like endangered species or whatever else these maniacs are doing. So, that got me one, one ban. So, I'll get a couple more. And of course, Clipisode. Is it in the App Store or can they sign up on the website to get an email?
Brian: It's in beta, yea.
Jason: Got it. Ok. So look for Clipisode, C-L-I-P-I-S-O-D-E
Jason: I'm Jason Calacanis and—
Brian: You have a book, right?
Jason: I have a book, angelthebook.com. Just type Calacanis Angel into Amazon. I read the audio book if you're into Audible. Go ahead and download it and write a great review. If you don't like it, email brian@clipisode and he's responsible. If you do like it, please write a 5-star review so I can write another book. But, it's been great to be here. Thanks again to Leo for trusting me with the desk. I promise we'll—
Dave: Yea, I pushed the button down.
Jason: And figure out how we're going to pay for this motor that we burned out. But we'll take a collection on GoFundMe. Or you can start a collection on GoFundMe right now and take the money. I'm going to start a GoFundMe right now for an art car. I'm going to start a GoFundme for a million dollars to not bring a plane. Then I'll just collect the million dollars! We'll see you all next week on This Week in Tech. Bye-bye.