Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
We’re seeing multiple lawsuits over cellphones, crazy competition in tablet computing, and another mysteriously lost iPhone. Get your questions answered, as we navigate the latest tech news with The Computer Guys & Gal.
- Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
- John Gilroy WAMU Resident Computer Guy; and Director of Business Development, Armature Corporation
- Allison Druin WAMU's Computer Gal; ADVANCE Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
Items Heard on Today’s Show
Changes at Apple
Steve Jobs steps down as CEO and Tim Cook steps up
Steve Jobs stepping down – will Apple get…better?
Other Companies Change
What’s New in Tablets
Allison’s Back to School Picks
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's the Computer Guys & Gal. Yes, they're here. And they'll help us understand the latest earthquake shaking up the tech world, from the impact of Apple losing Steve Jobs to which American football team thinks iPads are critical equipment for all players.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThey'll explain why Google seems to be everywhere these days and why now may or may not be the right time to buy that tablet computer you've been craving. And they've got a few gift ideas for honoring the seniors in your life this Grandparents Day, which may be a bit overshadowed this year since it falls on Sept. 11. You know our guests. They are here on the first Tuesday of every month, so no need to introduce them. Just let's go on with the show.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIGet on with the show. Okay, okay, John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corporation. Welcome, sir.
MR. JOHN GILROYGood morning.
NNAMDIIt's afternoon. But we would expect you not to know that.
GILROYI'm on top of things. It makes sense.
NNAMDIBill Harlow is a former Mac genius who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid Atlantic Consultant. Hi, Bill. How are you?
MR. BILL HARLOWGood afternoon.
GILROYHe got that one right, at least.
NNAMDIAnd -- he knows where he is and what time of day it is. Allison Druin is an ADVANCE professor and associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland because John Gilroy is extremely jealous...
GILROYI am jealous of that title.
NNAMDI..of the term ADVANCE professor, so, for that, a particular welcome to you, Allison Druin.
MS. ALLISON DRUINAnd a particular thank you, Kojo.
GILROYIt's the end of the show now after that title.
DRUINJealousy will get you nowhere, John.
NNAMDI...we still -- and we may not have time for John, but we still have time for you left to join the conversation. You can call us at 800-433-8850. You can use the Tech Tuesday hashtag. Join the conversation on Twitter. Let us know what you're thinking. Just send us a tweet using the Tech Tuesday hashtag. Or you can send email to email@example.com, or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there.
NNAMDISo Steve Jobs rocked the tech world by officially resigning as Apple's CEO. Some are worried Apple will rot -- oh, terrible pun. Others...
GILROYGet the hook.
GILROYGet the hook.
NNAMDIOkay. Forget I said that. Others are saying maybe not. Bill, what do you say? You're a former Apple genius.
HARLOWWell, yes, clearly, I am the most...
GILROYI'm thinking qualified...
DRUINYou genius, you.
HARLOWI'm the only person to discuss this.
HARLOWI mean, the reality is that you're not going to find another Steve Jobs. You're just not. And I don't think they're going to try. What they have is a really mature management team in place. They had a succession plan. They've had -- a lot of people there, including Tim Cook, who've been there basically since Jobs came back. So they've got a culture where they know what makes Apple Apple.
HARLOWAre they going to continue to shake up industry after industry after industry? I don't think so necessarily. But are they going to be a company that's releasing great products that are classic Apple products? I think they'll continue to do that.
GILROYYou know, just this morning, I was on the phone with a local company owner who was complaining about Apple and saying, these guys play hard ball. They're brutal. They're tough. They're this. But you get this image on TV, you know, he's a great lovable guy. But in…
HARLOWI don't know about that.
GILROYIn the business world, they're pretty tough.
HARLOWOh, they're tough.
GILROYI mean, they are really, really hard-nosed about so many things. Like, you talk about that school market if, let's say, you're for a local company trying to go in -- they got that school market, like, with lock and key. I mean, it's very tough. And they don't have reputation in other areas like generosity. I mean, he pulled back some. So he's not a perfect man like Kojo is, but he's had some weaknesses.
GILROYAnd maybe, you know, the backup quarterback can come in and accomplish things that the starter couldn't.
NNAMDII don't know. But, Bill, you pointed out that they have a culture there. But, Allison, it seems to me that I've never known of any place as driven by a cult of personality as Apple seemed to be, but maybe I'm wrong.
DRUINWell, it's very interesting because his story is very compelling.
DRUINI mean, let's face it. He started this thing in the garage, which we all -- you know, it's a very romantic story, and then he grew up basically going in and out of that company. And, you know, he even rejuvenated this company from almost resuscitation dead, you know?
HARLOWRight. And he's a great speaker, so I think that's why he's more in front of the camera. And I think that's what sort of built it up. I don't think that's necessarily what they were about. It's like he is the face because he's great at it, and he does have a lot of great ideas.
DRUINWell, he's been their user interface in some sense to the public.
HARLOWYeah, he's been a filter, too, to a degree.
DRUINYes. And, you know, it's -- for a company that's built on design and built on aesthetics, he was a great front man. And -- now, is he still going to be some voice in the wind there? Yeah, I can't imagine he's not going to be...
HARLOWHe's chairman now, so...
DRUINYeah, exactly. So I think that they're not -- he's not going to walk away completely.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy makes a specialty of raining on parades. John, might...
DRUINThat's so true.
NNAMDI...Apple be even better without Steve Jobs with them?
GILROYWell, wouldn't that be a surprise?
GILROYI don't possibly see how. I think when they write the history of American business in the 20th century, 21st century, whatever, they're going to have to say that he's one of the giants. I mean, what hasn't he done, you know?
NNAMDIBut I espied you reading an article by an author who says that there are at least five ways that Apple could improve without Steve Jobs.
GILROYYeah, and one of the ways is stop being so full of yourself.
GILROYI mean, maybe, you know...
DRUINYou know this well, John.
GILROYWell, maybe that's what -- that's part of, you know, that type of personality. You have that charisma, but also, you know, you have that drive. And you're sort of full of yourself. I mean, that's why he's so successful, but, you know, he's not very generous. He is full of himself. He's very vindictive. He had this little -- if you read the story about him and Dell, I mean, at one point Dell said they're worth more than Apple.
GILROYAnd he waited, and the company got worth more than Apple. And he sent email out to all the employees saying, now, we're worth more than Dell. I mean, he can be very...
HARLOWYeah, I guess, but you make it sound like he's an immature, you know, boy who just holds grudges and, you know, runs a company (unintelligible)...
GILROYWell, I think Michael Dell would probably think so.
HARLOWSure. But, you know, it's a cutthroat business. I mean, the reality is that they wouldn't be here now if they weren't run by mature management. I mean, this is a well-oiled machine. A lot of that, granted, is Tim Cook, but I also think Steve Jobs is recognizing needing a Tim Cook in the organization in the first place.
NNAMDIIt's a cutthroat business, and it's an accumulation business also, Bill, because other companies are experiencing earthquakes. Why is Google buying Motorola Mobility?
HARLOWWell, it's to prevent evil companies like Apple and Microsoft...
HARLOW...from aggressively using their patents against Google. I mean, one of the things that Motorola has, of course, you know, like any big company is a big patent portfolio. And Google lost out in some of the bidding on Nortel and Novell patents earlier in the year. But also, obviously, you know, they make a lot of really good Android phones, so, I think, that's what I'm focusing on personally.
HARLOWI really want them to take, you know, what they have now in Motorola, roll them into Google, make a really, really good best of breed Android-based device, a tablet phone.
GILROYWell, what's funny is that Google is essentially a software company. They're getting into the hardware business. HP is a hardware company, and they're getting into the software business, and all in the same month. I mean, August which was just so full of interesting stories in the tech world. It's just like, stop the world, I want to get off, OK.
HARLOWThe reinvention of tech companies.
GILROYSo HP is the biggest seller, and they're getting out of it. And Google is this big dog, and they're getting into the hardware business. Just, it's a very -- it's a fascinating time to just figure out where this company is going to be after -- especially HP spending all this money on (word?).
NNAMDIAmazon, meanwhile, Allison, is getting ready to launch a Kindle tablet. What's that all about?
DRUINI mean, again, this goes to -- Android has been a really great idea in terms of, oh, here we give you a great operating system for you all in an API to create your things. But it hasn't given the user the quality experience that they've wanted. And so now, essentially, Amazon has said, okay, we'll go that tablet route, but we're making a Kindle.
DRUINAnd so they are not saying, we are going to be all things to all people. They're saying, we're going to be a seven-inch tablet. We are your -- it's going to be all about getting your books, your movies and other media. And, you know, they own their -- they're going to own their own apps store. And it's going to be priced not at the normal, you know, tablet price.
DRUINIt's going to be priced at $250. So -- now, they say it's going to come out in November, folks, so in time for the holiday rush, but...
DRUINYeah, but we'll see how it goes. They're doing final testing now.
GILROYSo, basically, it's a Kindle first, and it happens to run on Android 'cause that's the way they felt they could do it best.
DRUINYeah, yeah, exactly.
NNAMDIOn to the telephone. The number is 800-433-8850. Or you can join the conversation on Twitter. Use the Tech Tuesday hashtag to let us know what you're thinking. Here is Jenny in Washington, D.C. Jenny, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JENNYHi. I'm partially-sighted, and I use ZoomText software to magnify font 10 or 12 times. It also speaks to me. And I've been forced to upgrade to Yahoo, or they will do it themselves by Sept. 19, I believe. And I'm not happy. It certainly offers some new features, but other things are worse. For example, the send button is not where it was before in its logical, easy-to-find place. It's way up, you know, up above, you know, above an ad.
JENNYAnd, clearly, Yahoo is not meeting current accessibility standards. And I'm wondering how I can hold them accountable for doing the right thing.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy can tell you that.
GILROYYeah, go out there with a big stick.
GILROYNo. I think the market just has to come to bear on this. And I don't know. I don't know how to influence a company like Yahoo.
HARLOWYeah, it does seem like -- it's not just Yahoo. A lot companies, they don't really exactly make accessibility a big feature, a big priority for them, so...
DRUINJenny, do you have a Mac or a PC?
JENNYI have a PC, and I use Windows XP.
DRUINWindows XP. And there's nothing on -- it's nothing native to that computer that you can use as opposed to ZoomText?
JENNYNo. I mean, there's JAWS, but that's for -- you know, there's no -- that's totally speech. I want to be able to use what little vision I have.
DRUINNo. Absolutely. No. The reason I ask is that if the big companies aren't going to do it for you, you're going to have to do it for yourself, so it's either going to be -- you certainly can complain like crazy to Yahoo. And, you know, just talking about it on air maybe will help a little bit. I'm sure they're following "The Kojo Show." Don't you think?
JENNYNo. No, I think not, actually, not. In fact, there are some links that they -- they choose which links that the reader -- that ZoomText will read. They read some, but not others. And...
JENNY...so no. No, they are not. They are not...
NNAMDIJenny, here's how we might be able to help because tomorrow we'll be talking about tech standards that are supposed to make reading on the Web much more accessible to everyone, whether you have a visual disability or whether you're a dyslexic. You may want to tune in tomorrow to see if we can provide some more information there, Jenny.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We move on to Francesca in Washington. Francesca, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
FRANCESCAYes. Hello. I am the proud owner of a desktop Mac, a few years old, and Expose has just started going crazy. I'm -- I've gone on to Mac forums, and one person has said you have to vacuum the keys or you vacuum the mouse. And I've tried all that. I've also heard I might need a new mouse, but I'm not so sure.
HARLOWWhat kind of mouse do you have, by the way?
HARLOWNo, the mouse. Is it that older Mighty Mouse with a little ball on top?
FRANCESCAWell, it's been replaced fairly recently. I would say within the last year.
FRANCESCAAnd it's not an older version. It's a newer version.
HARLOWWell, the reason I'm asking you is because, on a lot of their mice, the older -- older Mighty Mouse have this little squeeze-sensitive buttons on the side. They were often linked to Expose, and sometimes those would go haywire. Their -- the newer mice take gestures and allow you to do that, too. And a lot of people -- they don't realize this.
HARLOWBut it's very easy to set Expose and how it's invoked by, let's say, dragging the mouse cursor into one of the corners of the screen. And some people don't realize they've turned it on. And then, you know, they're moving the mouse around, and suddenly Expose is going crazy. So I would say...
FRANCESCAWell, I'm hardly touching the mouse, and it'll do it.
FRANCESCAI mean, I'm not even moving the mouse. But I'll just put my hand on it, and it...
HARLOWOne last thing to check is in system preferences. Just -- you can set Expose there, and you can actually turn it off and see if that makes a difference.
HARLOWYou can also tell it to assign that feature to, really, any button on the mouse or any key in the keyboard. So...
NNAMDIAnd, Francesca, good luck to you.
FRANCESCAOkay. Just preferences, and then I just turn it off.
HARLOWYep, system preferences. Exactly.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call.
FRANCESCAOkay. Thank you.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. You, too, can call us at 800-433-8850 if you have comments or questions for The Computer Guys & Gal. Or you can join the conversation on Twitter. Use the Tech Tuesday hashtag. Let us know what you're thinking. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with The Computer Guys & Gal. Computer gal Allison Druin is an ADVANCE professor and associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Computer guy Bill Harlow is a former Mac genius who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid Atlantic Consulting. And computer guy John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corporation.
NNAMDIYou can shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or let us know what you are thinking. Send us a tweet and use the Tech Tuesday hashtag. Or just call us, 800-433-8850. John Gilroy, Hewlett Packard has announced a major overhaul. It's getting out of the laptop and the PC hardware business. What's going on?
GILROYIs it -- I mean, a lot of it makes sense. I mean, they were competing in this little webOS, and they were getting beat up. And they realized that they'd have to...
HARLOWThey were getting beat up for, like, a month.
GILROYYeah, they'd have to, like, either put more money in or get out, and so they got out. But what they surprisingly did is they decided to get out of everything and pick up this company in England that's called Autonomy. And they handle what they call big data. When you have these big, big chunks of data, you've got to filter through and find information.
GILROYThat's what Autonomy -- so they're getting out of the hardware business, and other people are getting in. Like, China's selling more hardware than the United States is. And it's just it's something -- would have been very hard to predict years ago when Apple was about to go bankrupt. Would Steve Jobs swoop in and save the day? And would HP, which is the biggest seller -- and, just last year, if the listeners remember, they just paid $1 billion for Palm.
GILROYAnd so if I work for Kojo -- I go up to Kojo and go, give me $1 billion for Palm, then, a year later, go in -- I want to get away from this. It's just -- it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I don't see the long-term strategy here. Maybe you...
HARLOWWell, the -- I mean, the current CEO, Leo Apotheker, he's a -- he came from a, you know, software service, you know, industry, so maybe that's the way he's looking at it. I think the webOS acquisition was during Mark Hurd's reign there, so, you know, just -- he's coming in. He's got a different vision for how the company is going to work, and he must look at it and say, you know what? It's really hard to sell a huge volume of low-margin PCs.
HARLOWWe just don't even want to, you know, keep focusing on that. It's a dead end.
NNAMDIAnd HP is spinning off certain entities, including discontinuing its webOS. What will this mean in the business world, any impact on average folks like us?
HARLOWIt's tough to say. I mean, they're not -- their goal, I think, is to spin it off and make it its own entity, the personal systems group. So things, you know, like, you know, computers and eventually if they get back into, you know, continuing making tablets again, then, you know, maybe it just means they're -- what they're saying and whether there's a...
GILROYThey're going to be smaller and more agile.
HARLOWIt's going to be smaller and more agile, act more like a, you know, a lean mean company. So the answer is I don't know how it's going to affect us. We'll have to wait and see and see if they're serious about what they just said.
DRUINBut they're confusing the consumer. I mean, that's the problem, is that -- I mean, because right now, you know, there's a few good laptops out there that HP is selling. They, you know, first, they say tablets are going. And then they say, wait, hold on. We're going to get more of them.
HARLOWWell, it's even better, too, 'cause they said, we're going to beat the iPad. And then it comes out. Okay, we're done with this. And then they're blown out...
NNAMDIWell, they surprised everybody when they discontinued the tablet computer, dropping the price from $400 to $99.
HARLOWYeah, then everybody bought them.
NNAMDIYes. The price -- that price point was right, and so it took off.
DRUINYeah, of course, so, I mean -- so the problem is -- the basic problem is they're confusing everyone. Nobody knows what the heck's going on.
HARLOWExactly. Now, they're even saying they might make a few more of these tablets and sell them. So...
GILROYYeah, it's $300 to make them. They sell them for $99 to make up the loss in volume.
NNAMDIWell, we got a tweet from DeBlanz, (sp?) who is asking, "Is now really the best time to drop $500 on a tablet? Are they as reliable as my notebook?"
DRUINThat's an interesting question.
HARLOWI think reliability is pretty good. Fragility is a different story.
DRUINYeah, I mean, the reliability is excellent. In fact, tablets are, in terms of seniors and women, are extremely popular. In fact, they're saying that that's sort of the new consumer market for them. And it's similar to the way microwaves took off way back when, and -- because, basically, why? Essentially, what you're looking at is ease of use. All right. It's better on the eyes, so going back to the last caller.
DRUINAnd it's so much easier to carry, so, yeah. Now, the question is price point, price point, price point. But, you know...
GILROYThey found the price point. It's $99.
GILROYThat's the magic buck.
DRUINBut if you wait for the Kindle, the Kindle tablet is going to be $250, and, you know, we'll see. But -- and they actually may be around next year to talk about it. So it -- you know, it depends. So, altogether, I think, you know, tablets are making real headway. It's just a question of how -- you know, what your price point for where you want to get into it.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Do you have a tablet that is not an iPad? Which one do you have and why? 800-433-8850, or just use the Tech Tuesday hashtag and let us know what you're thinking on Twitter. iPads, John Gilroy, an NFL team, or several NFL teams, is recommending...
GILROYWhat's it -- they hand out shoulder pads and iPads these days? Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were in town here a few weeks back, they decided that the easiest way to have their youngsters learn the playbook is with iPads. And so they hand them out to everyone. I think they took them back, and then they cut the players. But it's an interesting concept. We don't have to worry about paper anymore in different versions of the truth.
GILROYYeah, in my world, it's the different version of the truth. Well, you know, there's one playbook, and everyone learns it. So I think it's, you know, I'm slowly -- I have a friend who's going to Sudan in two weeks, and he wants to get, like, five books. It's so much easier for him to put it on something like an iPad, and then she doesn't have to worry about taking them around.
HARLOWI have friends who are pilots. They have iPads on their thighs, you know, strapped in, and that's their in-flight computer. That's like their entire, you know, flight database. So, I mean, it's a great tool. It's whatever you want it to be.
DRUINThat's right. That's right.
NNAMDIWe got this email from Shanty. (sp?) "Can you tell me if the rumors are true? Will Sprint also be offering the iPhone? And will it be available in October? I sure hope so."
GILROYA definitive statement, finally.
GILROYWho knows? Apple's so secretive. Who knows?
HARLOWLet me point a finger in the wind here...
HARLOWYeah, I think so.
GILROYYou're inside the studio.
NNAMDIWell, our friend who emailed us earlier, who sent us a tweet earlier didn't want to drop $500 on a tablet. But $1,000 on the new MacBook Air, Allison?
DRUINWell, all right. So, you know, you're thinking about -- what's your back-to-school things to do, okay?
DRUINAnd I have to say it used to be -- I've been looking out at a sea of PCs or netbooks with my students. And I have to say I'm looking at an awful lot of Apple logos these days. And now the new MacBook Air is finally -- all right. So it's 1,000 bucks. Your parents have a lot of money. That's good. And -- but, you know, it's really getting there in terms of, you know, it's really finally got a bit more power than the Airs.
DRUINIt finally has, you know, five-plus hours before you've got to charge it. It's 2.3 pounds, which is awesome for the 11.6.
HARLOWYou say it's expensive, too. And, you know, $1,000 is some money. But nobody else can make them any cheaper. That's what I'm finding out.
DRUINNo. And the thing is $1,000 used to be the going rate for laptops.
DRUINSo -- but, on the other hand, you know, if you -- if you're going back to school and you want something that's, you know, a little bit more reasonable, the new HP Pavilion is -- you know, is also a pretty pick.
GILROYI saw the Toshiba Portege this morning, $995. Well, guess what? It sounds pretty close to the Mac prices.
GILROYThat means, all of a sudden, I was at -- if that's what -- now, this is a high-end Toshiba, but (unintelligible).
HARLOWRight. And a small compact computer. That's a high-end design, so you are going to pay a premium for that.
DRUINBut carrying it around just feels so good. Oh, my goodness. On my old body that's used to luggables, it's great.
NNAMDISpeaking of old body...
GILROYYou're not speaking to me, are you?
NNAMDI...we've got another suggestion for John Gilroy: the exercise desk.
GILROYAll right. That's what I need.
DRUINOh, my gosh. All right...
NNAMDIBut it doesn't dispense beer. But go ahead.
GILROYPositive and negative.
DRUINAll right. So, well, you know, only for $8,000, okay, you have -- you replace your desk chair with...
HARLOWAnd your car, apparently.
DRUINWell, that, too. With an elliptical, not quite bike seat, okay? And you get an adjustable height desk. You have to be -- by the way, I have to tell you, John, you have to be 5'4" to 6'9" to be able to use it. So I don't know if you're tall enough, John.
NNAMDIIf he's in that range.
DRUINIf he's in that range. But you...
HARLOWI hope you have one of those signs that say, you must be this tall to get on this desk.
DRUINBut you can burn up to 4k of calories a week. Isn't that amazing? Four thousand calories a week. And so it's a special kind of bike that you -- it allows you to go slow enough so that -- 'cause normal bikes, if you're going really fast, I don't think you're able to concentrate on what you're doing. But say you're doing a slow, little burn, that's pretty cool. So I'm getting close to that. But I don't have $8,000 to drop, John, do you?
NNAMDIDoes it pass muster with you, John Gilroy?
GILROYOh, dumbest idea I ever heard.
DRUINUntil next time, when I come up with the next idea.
NNAMDIIf it doesn't involve the dispensation of beer, it's always going to be...
DRUINIt's so true.
NNAMDIHere is Doug in Baltimore, Md. Doug, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DOUGYes. Hello. I had a question about -- I just got the new Mac mini, the newest -- the mid-level one. And I just cut the cord with all of my cable in order to use that as a home theater PC. And I've been kind of bouncing between Plex and Boxee, and I wanted to know if your panel knew anything about those programs and what's -- what the word is out there for HD PCs for people cutting the cord on cable.
HARLOWAs far as really cutting the cord, I mean, what you're talking about with Plex and Boxee is they're really -- to me, the good thing about those interface, if you have a lot of content, especially that you already own and maybe you have converted and store in that hard drive or on your network, to me, Plex seems like it's a little more, you know, for the person who wants to tinker and play around with it.
HARLOWBoxee still has a lot of control, but, to me, it's the social features and integration with that, I think, is more compelling. What's really frustrating is that, in any given week, it seems, the licenses for streaming content change. So you might have access to one thing, and then, you know, oh, Netflix is -- I'm having trouble getting Netflix working. Oh, wait, there's a new plug-in update. Now it works again.
HARLOWSo it's, you know, it's not quite perfect. That, to me, is the biggest thing. I think a lot of local content is the key with these devices, personally.
DOUGOkay. That -- you know, that helps. I've seen a lot of problems with Netflix already, just trying to run that, and then trying to install, like, Hulu Desktop on to them and everything else just to get what you need.
HARLOWNow, if you go outside of Plex or Boxee, then you can just, you know, run Netflix in a browser, like you normally would Hulu in a browser -- network is fine -- but it's not quite as elegant. So just keep that in mind, that it's -- you know, you might be the one manning the controls in the household. Put it that way.
NNAMDIDoug, thank you very much for your call. We had a caller who couldn't stay on the line. But Abdul (sp?) from Silver Spring indicated that he wants to work in computing, but he has no degree. He's about 40 years old. Is it a better investment to get Microsoft certification or to go get a degree, John?
GILROYWell, 10 years ago, I would have said Microsoft certification. But I'm increasingly more and more -- I think learning mobile programming and -- either that or security. I'm thinking more some kind of a degree of some sort from some place. I don't know where exactly, but I think it's -- the certificates are less and less valued in the business world that I see now. Now, 10 years ago, they were very valued, and I have a bunch of them.
GILROYYou just take a little test. But the certificate is not going to prove much. In fact, we were talking before the show about a 20-year-old friend of a friend of a friend who got a job at Microsoft because of his mobile programming skills, which he taught himself. A 40-year-old may not have that kind of a crowdsource around him to...
NNAMDIOur guest last week said learn mobile development or learn network engineering.
GILROYSecurity network engineering rather than just network engineering. Anyone can do the network engineering stuff, but virtualization, cloud, security and mobile, those are the two areas, I think, that jobs will be had.
DRUINAnd, of course, I'm a bit biased, Kojo, since I work for university. And I won't say which one, but, you know, I should say that there's a lot of complexity out there in terms of doing mobile programming and working in the cloud and so on. And at least getting a two-year degree in something in that area is probably a really much better way to go.
NNAMDII like it when our guest's ethical principles suddenly rise.
NNAMDIWe've been identifying her with the University of Maryland for years. Then she says, I won't say which university.
DRUINI know. But I like to say that.
HARLOW(unintelligible) somewhere in that title.
GILROYIt's the school with the funny uniforms.
DRUINAll right, all right. Don't go where that uniform thing is. That is so bizarre.
NNAMDIOh, yes. All we've been talking about.
DRUINBut anyway. Yes. Okay.
NNAMDIHere is Cyril (sp?) in Bowie, Md. Cyril, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CYRILOh, hi. As a PC guy trying to -- who wants to, you know, probably look into a Mac, what's the best publication to learn to use the Mac?
HARLOWOh, publication these days? I don't know if he's still updating them, but for the longest time, David Pogue got those "Missing Manuals," which are always excellent.
HARLOWYep, P-O-G-U-E. And, otherwise, I would say, honestly, just the best publication is the Web, and, specifically, Apple's website. They've got a whole section of tutorials and videos, where they, you know...
HARLOWYou know, here's, you know, switching to the Mac, here is, you know, instructions to the Mac. Here's what -- how to use the desktop. You know, here are the -- some of the fundamental key commands, that sort of thing. So, honestly, that's going to cover a lot more, I think, and a lot faster than sitting by and just reading a book.
NNAMDIOkay. Cyril, thank you very much for your call. Allison, have you yet mentioned the new HP Pavilion?
DRUINOkay, yes. I was sort of mentioning it before, but let me just go there, okay? So -- you know, so for one pound heavier than the new MacBook Air, it's about $550 cheaper, okay? And so...
HARLOWThat's an expensive pound.
DRUINYeah, that is a -- yeah. I mean, so this is $450. It is the -- you know, it's 11.6 inches, but it's 3.5 pounds, all right? But fast, fast, fast. It's using some new technology that combines the processor with a bunch of other things that I won't go into. But it is -- it's got nine-hour -- over nine hours of battery life, awesome, on one charge. It does have more slots than the MacBook Air.
DRUINAnd so, normally, you know, I'm not totally into PCs. But, you know -- and God knows what HP is doing in the future, but, right now, the HP Pavilion is a very nice bet.
HARLOWAt least till next month when they get out and sell for $99.
DRUINYeah, it's true. That's true.
NNAMDIAnd, John Gilroy, here's an indication of just how geeky Bill Harlow is.
NNAMDIHe is excited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of -- are you ready for this? -- the HP-12C, a calculator.
GILROYIsn't it 40 years? Didn't it come out in '71?
HARLOWI thought it was 30 years. I could be wrong. I mean, he must be a bigger...
NNAMDIJohn is an expert on all things old.
HARLOWClearly, he's a bigger geek than I am...
HARLOW...which is most important to acknowledge here. But, yeah, I mean, HP 15-C, scientific calculator, 12-C, financial calculator. I mean, these were like, you know, the heavyweights in the industry.
GILROYThe engineers had them in '70...
GILROY...way before I was born. But I cannot think what the engineers had around '71.
HARLOWYou know -- and I think people just like -- they appreciate the nostalgia of this, too. So the fact that bringing this out in the classic look, the compact size, you know, with, you know, more horsepower under them, I think, it's really cool. And I like that HP is acknowledging this part of their past before they spin it off into another group.
GILROYInto something else.
NNAMDIWell, so much for old things. Tell us about something new. A calculator mouse.
DRUINOkay. So this is, like, cheesy terrible, okay?
GILROYOh, that's a Kojo joke.
DRUINI know, I know. I had to put it there. All right. So it's a calculator, but it's also a wireless mouse that's -- that uses Bluetooth. And it's got a numeric keypad. And -- but, you know, the thing's got a little LCD panel, and you can, you know, use it as a calculator and so on. The only problem is you have to sort of stick your hands up in the air while you're using it because you may land on the keypad by mistake, and then have them on.
HARLOWI mean, that's cool, but I want an adding machine keyboard, personally. I want to take the spool out of the keyboard.
DRUINAll right. Yeah, so 60 bucks. It's cheesy. But it's a good celebration of geekiness, too.
GILROYI once worked in an office where they had manual adding machines.
NNAMDIOh, yeah. I've seen those. I've actually used those.
GILROYOn history books I've seen them.
NNAMDII've actually used them.
DRUINYou're such a liar.
NNAMDIHere -- back to work. Here's Greg in Northwest Washington. Greg, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
GREGHi, Kojo. Hey, guys. Enjoying the show. Listen, you know, you're talking about things that relate to where to invest, in education or training. Where is the technology going for the next leap? Are we going to see Google and Apple competing with Verizon and AT&T? I'll take your answer off the air. Thanks.
NNAMDIAbsolutely maybe, right?
GILROYMicrosoft owns Skype.
HARLOWWell, Google's funny, too, 'cause it seems like if they see some value in some technology, they're just going to buy it and get into it, you know, whether, you know, it's their own hosting or whatever. So I'd say with Google, you know, very good chance of them doing something crazy like that. In the case of Apple, probably not.
DRUINYeah, but, I mean, the bottom line is, is that they have enough weight these days to get into markets that a lot of people can't. They also are about, let me get it more information, because what's behind most of their purchases are very, very strategically thought out to think about these kinds of, hmm, okay, if I purchase this, then this is going to tell me about people's buying information.
DRUINIf I purchase this, this is going to tell me about how people are searching and so on. So it's -- so, yeah, I mean, I think Google is the 50,000-pound gorilla in the shop there. And Apple is not going anywhere any -- going away anytime soon. And, certainly, you know, the mobile companies are -- have to be players because that's going to be the engines that drive them.
GILROYHere's the fun fact. Twenty-five percent -- I heard this yesterday. Twenty-five percent of American homes don't have landlines anymore.
HARLOWSo what's -- if the landlines all go away, is Google going to be sitting there with their phone systems and Microsoft with Skype and connected to Facebook? Is...
NNAMDIWell, practically none of my friends who live in Europe have landlines anywhere -- anymore. They don't use them at all.
DRUINOh, no. Absolutely. It's so has-been.
NNAMDIBut, John Gilroy, why do you say that smartphones are the new crystal meth?
GILROYWell, they -- I think it isn't crystal meth, you know?
HARLOWIt's a little harsh.
DRUINA little harsh, a little harsh.
NNAMDIIs it that addictive?
GILROYPew, P-E-W, Pew did a survey, and they looked at people who have smartphones and people who have feature phones, and just one little fact that -- well, 64 percent of them used smartphones for music, only 12 percent of the feature phone. It seems that if you have a smartphone, you just think of all kinds of crazy things to use a smartphone for.
GILROYI was shopping for a stove with my wife over the weekend. I think I was the only one there who didn't have a smartphone plugging in the numbers to see what the competitive prices were.
HARLOWWell, it's not rocket science. If you have a device...
HARLOW...that can do something well, you're going to use it to do it. And I'm there all the time. If I'm comparison shopping in a real store, it's like, yeah, I'll look up and just make sure that, you know, the prices are somewhat in line before I take the plunge.
GILROYAnd, by the way, the experience was the store said they'd match the price if we found a cheaper price. I mean -- and so smartphones are getting to be so popular, it's a -- maybe it is addictive. And it seems like -- on the other hand, you'd -- few years ago, you'd think about people walking around, talking into phones. Now, you think about people with their head down, tweeting someone.
DRUINYou just hope that they don't actually trip and fall as they're doing price comparison shopping. But it's -- I mean, look, this is the platform for the 21st century. And the question is what form factor is it going to be? What is it -- you know, is it going to live in people's pockets? Is it going to be wearable? Is it going to -- you know, that's the next step.
NNAMDIWell, we've got to take a short break, which means that I have to abort the telephone caller who was about to say, you're not using your most important feature, your brain. 800-433-8850.
GILROYThey say it to me all the time.
NNAMDII'm Kojo Nnamdi.
HARLOWI've heard that since grade...
NNAMDIIt's The Computer Guys & Gal. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corporation. Bill Harlow is a former Mac genius who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid Atlantic Consulting. And Allison Druin is an ADVANCE professor and associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at a university she doesn't want us to mention.
DRUINNo, no, no.
DRUINUniversity of Maryland.
NNAMDI800-433-8850, and, Allison Druin, with National Grandparents Day coming up, you say tablets are the new microwave for seniors and for some women.
DRUINYeah, actually, there were -- they'd been doing these studies of tablet ownership among folks that are 55 and older. So it's gone up almost 20 percent between last fall and this summer. And for e-readers, for women, buying them climbed to almost 61 percent. It's amazing. So, essentially, we've got this niche in the market. And if you think about it, it's not just about better software, hardware.
DRUINIt's about -- it's filling a need that people haven't had. Women are consumers that are quite discerning, John, when it comes to: Is too heavy? Is it not going to be fast enough? I don't have time. I'm running to the next thing, either for my job or my kids. So, you know, so -- and it's the same thing with seniors. Hey, is it something that I'm going to hurt my back with?
DRUINIs it something that's good for my eyesight? And, you know, tablets are filling that niche and consumer.
NNAMDISpeaking of seniors, Diane from Bethesda, who identifies herself as a senior citizen with a new iPad, bought software to browse the Web on TV. It requires an HDMI cable. Does it have to a special Apple cable?
NNAMDIDiane says she can only find 10-foot cables, and she wants 15 feet.
HARLOWNope. It has to be just a high-quality cable. So, you know, for 15 feet, just make sure that, you know, it's thick enough that it can carry the signal effectively. And don't spend a lot of money. You can them online pretty cheap.
NNAMDIThat's what I thought. Here's Caleb in Silver Spring, Md. Caleb, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CALEBHi, good afternoon. I just wanted to get your opinion on Sprint's no comment stance about them getting the iPhone 5. I don't think it really makes much sense for them to deny the fact that they're obviously getting something that's very beneficial to them.
CALEBAnd with The Wall Street Journal confirming that they will actually be getting the phone, and so they're telling, you know, customers coming to stores, no comment, when there's news report of them installing the network repeaters in and around Apple stores. I just wanted to get your opinion. What do you think about that?
NNAMDIOh, fine. Please, Bill Harlow.
HARLOWI would guess that Apple said, don't say a word. And that's that. That's the story.
GILROYYes. That's it.
HARLOWYou shut your mouth, Sprint. If, indeed, they're working with them, that's what -- that's it. That's all there is to it.
DRUINYeah, they're probably under a gag order, a press gag order. You know, if it's true and all of these rumors are true, then the gag order says, you know, we're going to roll this out to the press the way we want to. Apple is a master at this. And they're not going to let Sprint screw it up.
GILROYAnd the executives have to sign a piece of paper, a little NDA, saying, okay, I'll shut up.
GILROYYou know, whether the little local folks are going to abide, but the executives are going to shut up.
DRUINYou know, and they could be in the middle of negotiation still, and they -- it may, you know, still fall apart. So that's also a possibility as well.
NNAMDICaleb, thank you for your call. We move on to Jamie in Alexandria, Va. Jamie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JAMIEHi. I have a question, not directly about computers but about other mobile devices.
JAMIEJust returned -- I just returned from a trip, and I lost all of my cords for my iPod, my BlackBerry, my husband's iPhone. And I'd like to know if anyone has used those charging pads or charging stations that can charge multiple devices.
HARLOWNot with phones, but with other things. And I find that they're convenient because you just rest the device on them, and they do work. But it seems like it takes a lot longer to charge, too.
HARLOWSo for someone like me, where, like, I just want it to be topped off quickly, it's not a solution. But if it fits your lifestyle, they're pretty neat.
DRUINYeah, actually, I find that if you're a type of person that is very consistent and you're going to put all of your stuff in one place in the night, overnight, it's an awesome way to go. But Bill is absolutely right. It does take longer. So you're going to have -- it's about your lifestyle.
GILROYAnd the idea would be to come home from work, put it on the pad, then get up in the morning, go to work the next day.
GILROYBut so many people have -- use them for alarm clocks. It's...
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Jamie. Tell us about Gmail Offline, Allison Druin.
DRUINNow, this is a seismatic shift. Microsoft, watch out, okay, because a lot of the reason people love their Outlook still is that I can go offline, do all of my email as I'm sitting on an airplane or in a, you know, non-wired area. And, sure enough, now Gmail is going -- it's going offline. And so, right now, there is a new Chrome app that will let you deal with your emails. It's also -- they're also doing Google Calendar and Docs offline.
DRUINNow, you can't edit those documents yet offline for the -- for docs and such, but for email you can. And so, now, it's only for Chrome right now, more browsers to come. But this is a very big I'm-going-to-come-and-bite-you Microsoft shift.
GILROYI've tried Google Calendar. I mean, it's a pain in the neck. I mean, I don't know. You know, I think they have to work on their user interface more than anything.
HARLOWI know it's not perfect but, I mean, I prefer that personally a lot more to using Exchange and Outlook. Our company uses it -- so disclosure there -- but we find it to be really neat. The offline, they actually tried that a while ago with Google Gears, and I've played with that.
HARLOWI really wanted it to work 'cause the idea was great. So I really hope that they go somewhere with this, it works on all browsers, and it works well.
DRUINYeah, I'm going to wait till it's on a number of other browsers before I go to it. But I have to say that's what's keeping me -- I mean, I have a Gmail account, but I'm still an Outlook user because I really need that offline time.
GILROYIt's a standard business tool.
NNAMDISpeaking of Outlook, here is Anne in McLean, Va. Anne, you're on the air, your turn.
ANNEHi. I have a Palm Centro now and getting ready to leap in via the iPhone when it comes out. But one thing no one can answer me is, how does it sync with Outlook? I love to have my calendar when I go to meetings and stuff like that. No one can answer how it syncs.
HARLOWI thought that it actually hooked in through iTunes on Windows. So if you just have, like, Outlook and you've got, you know, a standard personal email accounts versus, let's say, work-supplied, I think it just hooks in that way, your manual USB sync. If you do have an Exchange account through work, then they may be able to get your iPhone to talk directly to that Exchange server.
GILROYYeah, I think, that's what our listeners have to realize, that if you're just, you know, Joe Blow with your business out there and you have a single Outlook instance in your machines, it's going to be a lot different from working for Kojo Nnamdi Industries and...
HARLOWYeah, it won't be over the air necessarily.
GILROYYeah, and so you to be careful about that differentiation. But if you work for Kojo Nnamdi Industries and have a big Exchange server and a staff that can support you, it's a no-brainer. Individuals, it's a little trickier.
HARLOWYeah, you just have to make sure you're plugged in. Otherwise it's not going to be up-to-date.
DRUINYeah, but I actually have that set up. And it works fine for me.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Anne. We've all heard about the hacker group Anonymous. Now, Anonymous is threatening to kill Facebook. Could this really happen, John, at this point?
GILROYAnd they're denying it. That's why you got to believe it. Well...
NNAMDIEven luddites have heard about denial of services.
HARLOWIt will be the most productive day in U.S. history.
GILROYYeah, yeah, yeah. Well, the argument goes like this, is we're going to go after Kojo Nnamdi, so we're going to load up a whole bunch of servers who are going to attack him simultaneously. It's a deed, a distributed denial of service attack, and you go after them. The problem is if you go after Google or Microsoft or something -- they have redundant servers everywhere. I mean, they have servers in Ireland.
GILROYI mean, Microsoft has this big server (word?) outside of Chicago, where they have stacks and stacks, containers full of servers. It's one thing to beat up a fifth grader, another thing to beat up a pro-football player wearing a funny uniform.
HARLOWBut, man, if you do it, the bragging rights...
GILROYYeah, so I don't think that distributed denial service is going to attack something that big. And there's other attacks they're talking about, SQL Server attacks. But I don't see it.
NNAMDIWhat a RefRef attack?
GILROYI think this is a variation on the SQL Server attack where they find a weakness in SQL Server. The problem is that they may not be managing their big data with SQL Server because, a lot of times, big data uses different tools with all kinds of funny names.
DRUINHow would you explain what SQL is to people that don't really know what SQL is?
GILROYSQL is a database. That's all it is. It's a database that is out there. It's used for probably intermediate-sized companies.
GILROYNot small, not big, intermediate-sized.
DRUINSo why do people attack through the SQL servers?
HARLOWIt's usually effective because there's a patch that wasn't applied, and they know it. They know they can get in that way. It's just an entry point.
GILROYThere's a lot of Microsoft equipment out there, and there are some administrators that may not be fussy and detail-oriented, may not have patched something. And so there's tools that find out if your server is patched. If it is, okay, we got to -- we will inject the server and, bang, go after you. So it's -- the ubiquity of Microsoft allows for people to go after that weakness.
NNAMDIIn order to help our previous caller, Diane, who identified herself as a senior, Randall says, "To help out that caller, ADVANCED 2000 in Virginia has very long HDMI cables for $20 a pop."
NNAMDISounds like a pretty good deal to me. Here is Linda in Springfield, Va. Linda, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LINDAHi. I'm moving to a new computer that has Windows 7. My old computer had XP. And, ages ago, I learned that best practices was to partition my hard drive with the C drive for operating system and programs and the D drive for data, made backups easier and also restoring, especially if you have to do a clean install of Windows, which you pretty much have to do periodically.
LINDABut Windows 7 makes it really hard to do that, or at least makes it hard to move your user files. Do you recommend -- still recommend partitioning the hard drive, or should I just go the way Windows wants me to go and, you know, back up just the user, you know, the one C drive?
GILROYYou know, a geezer like me hates change. But what I see happening is that Windows 7 has got a pretty good reputation. I mean, that's one of those untold stories, is that of the questions that have come in the last year, two years in the Computer Guys show here, very few people complain about Windows 7. I don't think we've gotten one complaint about Windows 7. It's very reliable.
GILROYAnd now, the transition these days is not to back up with a separate hard drive. It's to back up through Carbonite or through an online service where, okay, I got my Windows 7 here. I can back up online or automatically back up all my photographs some place for free at night. So I think that it's changing.
GILROYAs far as C drive, I think that it's probably old-school-type advice that there may be some computer folks out there that may recommend it. But, increasingly, I see people moving more towards storing everything offline anyway. I work with people that say, well, if I lose my notebook computer, I'll just buy another one 'cause everything else is stored elsewhere, so why worry about it?
HARLOWWhen I went to Windows 7, I went lazy. I just went one partition and just to keep the maintenance simple, and it's been fine.
GILROYAnd it's got such a solid reputation. You don't hear people calling in and crying, oh, you know, reload my Windows 7. Well, you don't have to reload it. It seems to hold up fairly well, so it's...
HARLOWHaven't had any complaints there. I mean, any issues have been on, you know, user error. Put it that way.
NNAMDILinda, thank you very much for your call. And because of our ongoing preoccupation to not make you work too hard, John -- Bill Harlow will tell us now about Razer's innovative, new high-end gaming laptop.
HARLOWYeah, if that's what you want. Don't work. You got a game.
DRUINAnd it costs a lot.
HARLOWBecause, apparently, you can't do work in a gaming laptop, John. So Razer, they make high-end, relatively high-end performing -- performance mice and keyboards for gamers. That's their specialty. They don't make computers until now.
GILROYI get it. Genetically altered.
HARLOWYou wouldn't understand, John. You're too old. But -- so they have a new laptop they're coming out with called the Razer Blade. Get it? Get it?
GILROYAh, it's a Kojo Nnamdi joke. This is terrible.
NNAMDITwo bad puns today.
HARLOWSo -- but what I love is gaming laptops typically are, you know, brute strength, huge, luggable, no battery life. This thing is sleek, elegant. It's gorgeous. And it's got some innovations to it, too, that I -- I'd love to see Apple do stuff like this. They took a capacity of touch screens. So imagine, like, an iPhone embedded in your laptop, to the right of the keyboard. So you use that like a mouse, but it also displays information.
HARLOWThere are this dynamic keys, which are buttons with LCD screens in them right above that, that they can change and display information as well. So I can see that outside of gaming being really cool. Like, you're doing video editing. You maybe want -- you know, you could put anything in there, like email coming in, all kinds of stuff. It has a lot of potential.
HARLOWThe big downside of all this technology, though, is the price, $2800 for 17-inch model, which is basically the highest-end you're going to get as far as, you know, sleek, cool computers.
NNAMDIAnd for that, John Gilroy, you don't have to work too hard.
NNAMDIAnd we have an inquiring listener. Don in D.C., who emailed us to say, "I really want you to ask the University of Maryland professor..." You should know that she is an ADVANCE professor.
HARLOWYes, not just a professor.
NNAMDI"...how she likes the football team's new jersey."
HARLOWThere you go. Finally, we bring up the big pink elephant in the room here.
NNAMDI"And if she refuses, I want to know if she's an expert on tech issues, but not on Terp issues."
HARLOWA very bad pun.
GILROYIt's actually -- that's a good one. We like that guy.
DRUINYou're a Terp. Actually, the -- I believe that what they were wearing has to do with alumni. Armitech is one of our alumnis that made big in industry. And so we wanted to support alumni, and so that's what we got -- very high-tech uniforms. So...
NNAMDIAnd there are apparently 20-something different variations of uniforms that the Terps' football team will be putting into effect this season.
DRUINIt's fascinating. You know, all news is good news, so, hey, we're in the news.
HARLOWBut do you like it or not like it? Just commit here.
GILROYShe'll be committed.
NNAMDII suspect that some of them people will love and some of them people will hate.
NNAMDIAnd most times, people will only care whether the team wins or not, which they did this weekend.
GILROYBut they're getting a lot of publicity over it. So, hey, they're going to win because (unintelligible).
NNAMDIThe aforementioned Allison Druin is an aforementioned ADVANCE professor...
NNAMDI...and associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland.
HARLOWNot football studies.
NNAMDIAllison, always a pleasure to see you.
DRUINAlways a pleasure.
NNAMDIBill Harlow is former Mac genius who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting. Bill, always a pleasure.
HARLOWSame to you, sir.
NNAMDIAnd John Gilroy was here.
HARLOWNever a pleasure.
DRUINWe love you, John.
NNAMDIHe is director of business development at Armature Corporation. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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