It's open season for federal employees as well as many privately-employed people to change their health plan selection for next year. We speak with experts for tips and will take your questions about how to make the right choice for you and your family.
Malware attacks Apple computers. Google ventures into personal cloud computing. And researchers claim alcohol can enhance computer users’ “working memory capacity.” The Computer Guys & Gal are back to explore the latest tech news and take your questions.
- Allison Druin Associate Dean for Research, University of Maryland's iSchool; Co-Director, Future of Information Alliance
- John Gilroy WAMU Resident Computer Guy; and Director of Business Development, Armature Corporation
- Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
May Fun And Games
The recovery of the source code to Jordan Mechner’s classic Prince of Persia:
Long-time gamers may remember Jordan Mechner’s original Prince of Persia game for the Apple II home computer. The missing source code for the game was recently discovered when Jordan’s father was cleaning out a closet. Luckily, classic computer collector Tony Diaz and software archivist Jason Scott were equipped to help restore the data from the old floppy disks.
Donkey Kong is ready for his close-up in Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph:”
Disney’s upcoming movie is about the titular Ralph, who’s job is to be the villain in a classic fictitious arcade game called Fix-It Felix. Ralph dreams of being the hero, so he travels looking for a more meaningful existence in a different game. Expect lots of video game character cameos in this one. Opens in November.
Summer is coming and you’ll have time to try out the first crop of iBooks!
Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography – integrated video training, free lifetime updates, and classroom-style support. $8.99.
Nancy Duarte’s “Resonate” Published Interactive Business Book – integrates video and interactive experiences to teach how to make presentations. $17.99.
Something new that’s old for your laptop or mobile – The Can!
You can attach The Can to a laptop or Smartphone, and then talk with family, friends and colleagues through an aluminum can sourced from real food products. The Can features what the team jokingly calls “can-over-IP technology,” which basically boils down to a microphone and speaker stuffed inside the can’s empty chamber. The device comes in two basic flavors: tomato paste and creamed corn. The team uses tomato paste cans to make The Can Mini, and creamed corn cans to make a larger device, The Can Club Community. The Can Mini attaches to mobile devices through the headphone jack, while the larger can attaches to computers via USB. This was a KickStarter Project that was funded and back by crowdsourcing!
Get your head in the clouds – Now there’s Google Drive
Could it be the next dropbox? Lets you put your digital stuff in the cloud and access things from any device. It’s also integrated into what used to be called Google Docs, which makes Google Drive a hybrid between a cloud storage service and a cloud computing platform. creates a folder on your machine’s hard drive called Google Drive, and any files that you store in that folder are automatically synced to Google’s server. It’s a 1/4 the price of dropbox, but there’s privacy issues! Beware.
Other Items Heard On Today’s Show
Oracle’s Link For Updating Java
Can Having A Few Drinks Make You Clever?
The New Modality: Tablet And Cloud?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world and with The Computer Guys & Gal. They're here. It's not exactly a rousing May Day anthem. But you hear it, and you know what it means.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe Computer Guys & Gal are here to ponder how companies and individuals adapt to the fast changing tech world. Remember when Apple products enjoyed the aura of invincibility and security? Well, last month, 600,000 Mac computers were infected with a malware program called the Flashback Trojan. So now that the aura is fading, what will Apple do to respond?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIRemember when occupy protesters used Twitter and social media to organize? Well, some protesters are having their tweets used against them in court. So today's May Day protesters are using social tools that let them stay anonymous. Remember when we could rely on our Computer Guys & Gal to highlight the important news from the tech world? Well, John Gilroy flagged an academic study that claims drinking beer improves your critical thinking skills.
MR. JOHN GILROYIf you're writing code, you have to have critical thinking skills.
MR. BILL HARLOWHey, you and I came prepared today. That's all.
MS. ALLISON DRUINOh.
NNAMDIYou be the judge. In all seriousness, The Computer Guys & Gal are here to talk about the tech news that matters most. Allison Druin is associate dean for research at the University of Maryland's iSchool and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance. Allison Druin, thank you so much for joining us.
NNAMDIThe other two don't matter. (unintelligible)...
GILROYSounds about right.
GILROYShe's the director of the future. The whole future's in her hands.
HARLOWWhat are you now, Allison? What are you going to be?
GILROYYou know, new title night. What's the new title? We'll preview the new title.
NNAMDIThat's why they don't matter.
NNAMDIThey don't recognize Allison's significant accomplishment.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy has managed to make it up to director of business development at Armature Corp. And Bill Harlow has clambered up the ladder to hardware and software technician...
NNAMDI...for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. Bill, thank you for joining us.
HARLOWWith that welcome, how could I not (word?) ?
NNAMDIWell, John is here.
DRUINThere's no question.
NNAMDII guess, in honor of May Day and in honor of the spirit of protesting, we should start with a case of protesters, judges and the question of who owns a tweet. The Occupy Wall Street movement used social media like Twitter very effectively to mobilize people. But some of those tweets are getting protesters in trouble. Last month, a criminal court judge ruled that an Occupy Wall Street protester did not have legal standing to prevent prosecutors from getting his Twitter postings or for, more specifically, issuing a subpoena from Twitter. Who owns my tweets?
HARLOWWell, it ain't you, Kojo.
GILROYThat's right, Kojo. It ain't you, Kojo. Well, at least in round one here...
GILROY...round one, the judge says, no. You don't own those tweets. And the lawyers here are enjoying themselves going back and forth on this. I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on the radio.
GILROYAnd they're going back and forth on who owns what. And one argument is that, well, if you're going to broadcast to a public media like putting something on The Washington Post, then it belongs to the public. But if you're going to broadcast to a specific group of people -- let's say private tweets -- then you don't own it.
GILROYAnd it's just -- it's like in the early days of email, back when I started doing this radio stuff, is that people need to know who they email and how to access it. And then the lawyers had to figure out the rules, and they're figuring out the rules now on Twitter. And I don't think it looks good for privacy. I think they're going to own anything you put up on a public panel.
NNAMDIWell, Allison tweeted that she was going to be enjoying herself on the show today. We know that's a falsehood.
GILROYA falsehood, you should be sued.
NNAMDICan she now be prosecuted and sued?
DRUINSue me. Sue me.
NNAMDIBut, Allison, now they're using a new tool to anonymously organize. Tell us about Vibe.
DRUINYeah. Vibe is actually -- it's free. You can download it for the iPhone or the Android phones. And what's special about Vibe is that it doesn't make you log in. OK? And so you can be anonymous. And it was actually created by somebody that was a part of the protest movement's understanding the needs of protesters and...
HARLOWDon't give his name. He wants to be anonymous.
DRUINI'm not. I'm not going to give his name. But, actually, what's interesting is he doesn't even use hashtags in Vibe -- oh, you can, but you don't have to. And you can actually use a location filter.
DRUINAnd so, in other words, you can say only broadcast this within, you know, this one-mile area or this half-a-mile area, and which is -- again, unless you were a part of the protest movement, you wouldn't realize how important that is because, essentially, what they're doing today in a lot of different large cities around the country is that they're actually projecting these microblogging tweets and Vibe messages on large screens. And so you don't actually -- maybe you don't actually want your message to go out to five different screens in five different cities.
NNAMDIMakes sense. In John Gilroy's case, it just goes to the end of the bar, even as we speak.
GILROYAnother beer, please.
NNAMDIEven as we speak, a filmmaker is using the power of flash mobs and connected technology to make a May Day movie. Tell us about call2create.org.
DRUINYeah. There's actually -- so, you know, besides microblogging, people are saying, hey, we've got to give messages visually. And so there are -- people have heard of meet-ups where people put on Facebook messages that say, hey, come meet up at this particular time, let's go here, let's do this. Well...
NNAMDIHave a snowball fight.
DRUINYeah, exactly. But for this meet-up, it's actually a flash mob filmmaking experience where people are saying that in two hours we're going to make a video about what's going on in the social protest movement and really -- some really nice stuff. Actually, Zachary Adam Green is from Plankhead, is actually organizing this.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 if you have questions or comments for The Computer Guys & Gal. You can go to our website, kojoshow.org, send us a tweet at #TechTuesday, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For years, Apple has basked in the aura of security. Mac owners were free from the sorts of viruses and malware that always burdened PC owners. But last month, we learned that more than 600,000 Mac computers were infected with a malware program called the Flashback Trojan, half of them in the United States. What do we know, and why is it a big deal?
GILROYWell, it's a big deal because it seems to be one of the first times when it actually got into -- the (word?) got onto real users' Macs. And it's -- you know, first, just to back up, I mean, a lot of people believe that Macs are more secure. And it seems like they still are. I mean, this was a pretty unique situation. I don't think it will be the last, but it's not nearly as prevalent as it is on the Windows platform.
GILROYThat said, the Macs were never invulnerable to this. And you shouldn't go through computing thinking that way. So the way this started was there is a -- the Java language can run on computers. It's very popular because there are certain programs and some features and websites that require this. But, of course, since they can execute code, if you don't keep it patched and up-to-date, there could be security holes.
GILROYThe problem is Apple's responsible for updating this themselves, even though Oracle now owns Java and they're the ones releasing the patches. So Apple took their sweet time getting this updated and patched. I mean, it was fixed in February, and it took Apple until April, until after this happened, to fix it. So I think it's important to keep up on Java if you're going to run it. Some people never run it, and therefore they should turn it off on their computers.
GILROYIf you have Lion installed, it -- Java is not installed by default. So I sent a link into WAMU. You can check it out there. Oracle now gives you a place to download the updated Java. It will keep itself updated. So going forward, you can keep yourself a little more protected.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. Bill, remember when a TV was just a TV that picked up signals over the airwaves? Well, today, many TVs are able to access content over the Web. And speaking of malware, some researchers think they've detected vulnerabilities that can make your TV victim to malware attacks.
HARLOWWell, yeah, a lot of new TVs these days, you see they've got Pandora and Netflix capabilities. That means they're online. They've got some computing power in them. If you can execute code on it and execute remotely, you could potentially compromise the device. A lot of things that we have today are effectively computers online in our homes. So I don't think you're going to have to install antivirus software in your TV tomorrow.
GILROYOn your TV.
HARLOWI can't imagine that being -- that's entertainment right there. Kids gather round. We're going to pop in a flick as soon as I install these patches, and two hours later, you can start. But...
HARLOW...researcher Luigi Auriemma discovered this when he was just fooling around with a Samsung TV, and he was trying to remotely put a message on to like, you know, tweak his brother a bit. And it ended up taking the TV down for several days accidentally. And that's when he realized, wow, you know, you can actually execute arbitrary code in this potentially. And the vector is there for putting malware on this device.
NNAMDIAmerica will not allow its TVs to be taken down for a few days.
GILROYIf there's one thing we will fight for, it's our TVs.
HARLOWFolks will start committing suicide all over town when they heard couple of days without TV.
NNAMDIHere is Bill in Rockville, Md. Bill, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BILLHi. I just had a question about the Mac virus, I guess.
BILLMy understanding was that Macs are -- or seem to be more secure because they are a closed source code. Does the fact that this one virus got through mean that someone out there has the code for the iOS and, like, would disseminate it or would viruses become more prevalent because this one got through?
HARLOWI mean, I guess, someone could build off it. But, you know, a lot of viruses, you know, people just sit there, and they just hammer away at software, trying to, you know, find the little holes. You know, it's starts with maybe just finding one little thing that you were able to pull off that caused something to crash. And then you say, oh, I caused it to crash. Well, let's build off of this. If I caused it to crash, maybe I can get it to let me sneak in while it's in that crashed state.
HARLOWSo I don't think that's the reason. And the other thing, too, is, just in general as far as Internet security goes, a lot of researchers, a lot of security experts say that things like Java and Flash, if you're going to install those, those do make your browsing experience a little less secure. And it is very important to keep those technologies up-to-date, same with PDF for that matter, too. Anything extra that you're putting on a computer, you know, increases risk.
GILROYYeah, it took decades, but I think they've finally figured out how to put malicious code into a PDF's code file. So it's -- nothing is invulnerable.
NNAMDIBill, thank you very much for your call. Researchers at the University of Illinois, led by psychology professor Jennifer Wiley, believe that imbibing enhances our working memory capacity. Apparently by becoming tipsy, we become -- I don't even know why I'm saying this.
GILROYYou don't know either.
DRUINThere's a good question.
NNAMDIApparently by becoming tipsy, we become more adept at devising novel solutions to problems. In a series of attention intensive trials, inebriated participants solved 40 percent more questions than the sober control. Obviously, there was no question like walk a straight line.
NNAMDIThe inebriated participants solved 40 percent more questions than the sober control group and did so more quickly. Why am I handing this off to John Gilroy?
GILROYWell, you know, in the world of computing, you constantly come up with creative new ways to solve problems.
GILROYAnd there's a book that came out by this guy in (unintelligible) and talked about creativity. And what he found was, you know, be creative by working 18-hour days, be creative by going outside, taking a hot shower, walking around and doing something different.
GILROYListen. And he'd be a great guest, by the way, to have on. And so you're constantly looking for creative ways 'cause I don't think in the next five or 10 years America is going to survive unless they really figure out how to be creative and how to, you know, use things in a new way. And, hey, you know, I think there's a lot of creative ways to learn from the study.
NNAMDIIndividuals who were brought to a blood alcohol content of approximately .075 and, after reaching that level, completed a battery of what are known as RAT items, which is -- what is RAT? Remote associates test is what RAT means. They were more likely to perceive their solutions as a result of a sudden insight. Allison Druin, what do you make of this?
DRUINWell, it turns out, of course, you know, I'm looking at different studies than John Gilroy does.
DRUINYou know, I don't know why (unintelligible)...
GILROYThat's the kind of the stuff she does as the director of the future.
HARLOWJohn is a little self-selecting here.
DRUINOK. But I was actually looking a study this week that shows that if you struggle to learn something, you're actually more likely to retain it. So...
HARLOWTrue academic fashion, two sides of the story.
GILROYSo, basically, no pain, no gain when it comes to learning.
DRUINNo pain, no gain. So maybe these drunkards are...
DRUIN...in pain and trying to struggle to remember something, and, actually, it's showing the same results from this other study.
HARLOWNow, with these -- you call them drunkards...
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy will say drunk and less tense.
HARLOWWere they timed, however? That's the other thing I'd like to find out. Like, oh, yeah, they finished it, but it took them six hours longer.
NNAMDII don't know, but that's what the study apparently says. If you have an opinion on this study, maybe you have read it, maybe you have co-authored it, 800...
HARLOWOr you can't remember if you read it.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 if you'd like to join the conversation. For a while now, it has felt like the e-book market was really dominated by two platforms, Amazon's Kindle and the Apple iPad. But yesterday saw big news, Allison, for Barnes & Noble and its NOOK reader. Microsoft has agreed to invest $300 million. What do you think?
DRUINWow, well, you know, Microsoft is looking to get back into the waters, to get back into those e-book waters. They missed it. All right? They missed -- they also missed the tablet waters. So combine missing the tablet and the e-book reader. All right? They're saying, OK, what acquisition can we go after? Well, the NOOK is a good platform, some good hardware and has -- they have some of the same sort of research philosophies.
DRUINNow, combine that with Windows 8 coming out, where Windows 8 wants to be compatible -- wants to be. They hope it's going to be compatible to computers, mobile and tablets. So if you think about what the NOOK of the future could be, they could be combining Xbox, they could be adding Office, they could be -- you know, and then, who knows, they actually have a few books available through Barnes & Noble.
DRUINBut, now, let's compare that to Kindle, OK? Kindle, not the best hardware. In fact, actually, it's -- it definitely struggles against the NOOK. But the content is king. I mean, and they made a bet that was really smart a while ago, which was to say, we're going to have this Kindle app on everything. We're agnostic. And so, absolutely, so when I go to -- I'm sitting there on my iPad, and I'm reading. What am I reading on? I'm reading on my Kindle application, so...
GILROYI think that the reason for this was e-textbooks. You know, if you look at NOOK, they're positioned 135 college bookstores, and college students are going to say, well, should I spend $130 for a textbook, or do I want to have something -- let's see, I just bought a book yesterday for $85, believe it or not, piece of paper book, and that's -- these textbooks are expensive as the director of the future can attest.
GILROYAnd, you know, and had Kojo bought some stock last Friday, he'd be sitting pretty today. But, no, he didn't want to buy that Barnes & Noble stuff last week. But bumping, like, 67 percent bump. I mean...
HARLOWThat's pretty good. I mean, $300 million, that's a pretty good bet. That could be a low number if this -- you know, if this succeeds for Microsoft and for Barnes & Noble.
GILROYAnd for Microsoft, that's chump change.
GILROY$300 million. Oh, you know?
DRUINBut they're really also going after Apple. Now, remember, Apple put this all on the map, OK? They said -- first they said, iPad, we're going -- you know, we're going to kill the tablet market. They did. And then they went after the textbook market, and the iBooks are so big and so important now because why? They're making these author -- these authoring environment.
HARLOWReally good tools, too.
HARLOWReally good tools.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, you'll hear more of the Computer Guys & Gal. If you have called, stay on the line. We'll get to your calls. The number is 800-433-8850, or you can send us a tweet at #TechTuesday or email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's the Computer Guys & Gal. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp. He just paid $85 for a copy of "DOS for Dummies."
NNAMDIAllison Druin is associate dean for research at the University of Maryland's iSchool and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance, and Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. Together, they are the Computer Guys & Gal. Back to the telephones, here now is Alex in Arlington, Va. Alex, your turn.
ALEXHi. Good morning, everyone. Kojo, I love your show. Just a couple quick comments. One, in regards to the beer making you (unintelligible) things.
ALEXGoing through school, we had a really influential CompSci professor who would tell us to actually drink a beer to -- before getting into any coding. And he would swear up and down that this ensured that you would write your optimal code because if nothing else, it would allow you to focus a little bit more on what you were staring out on the screen versus coming up with tons and tons of extraneous (word?) that...
NNAMDIWell, you should know that the study showed, Alex, that it apparently improves your lateral thinking, which means, you know, shifting the way you think.
HARLOWLateral movement, too.
GILROYYeah, sliding all over your bar stool.
NNAMDIAlex, please go ahead.
ALEXAnd the only other comment was in regards to Apple. We -- inside the security community, I think it's kind of been common knowledge that Apple has had numerous vulnerabilities that they've been pretty slow to fix. And in regards to other caller's comments regarding whether this is the Apple source code, you know, it's specifically Java that was at fault this time. But it's Apple's fault for forcing users to use it on updates versus being able to update Java themselves. If you go to the Oracle website, if you select Mac as your or OS X as your operating system, it tells you to go to Apple.
NNAMDIYeah, well, we got an email from Robert, who says, "Macs are less secure because of the time delay that Apple has for deploying security patches to users. Their response time can be months. Your guest mentioned this, but another example is the DigiNotar CA certificate revocation. Microsoft and Firefox had the certificate in their browser revoked after a matter of days. Apple didn't have a patch into Safari until a month later." Underscored the point you were making earlier, Bill.
HARLOWYep. You got to be quick about this stuff.
NNAMDIYes, indeed. And speaking of being quick about things, here is a tweet we got from @ (word?), "Can a DVD player recorder be hacked? My wife told me that someone deleted saved shows on the DVD."
HARLOWI guess it depends on whether this particular player had any...
HARLOW...Internet capabilities. I mean, sure, like my -- well, you said TiVo. I mean, you could hack a TiVo. It runs a former Linux on there, and it's got effectively a mini Web browser, a Web server built in as well. So if it's a connected device, it could technically be hacked. Whether it will be, that's another matter entirely.
DRUINI bet you it's a kid that got in there and deleted something (unintelligible).
HARLOWMore than likely, yeah.
NNAMDIThe Obama administration has brought price-fixing charges against several big publishers of e-books. Three of those publishers have decided to settle, but Apple and two other big publishers say they want to go to court. The Department of Justice was examining exactly how the big publishing houses came to decide to change the pricing of e-books a few years ago. Any speculation on where this is likely to go?
HARLOWIt'll be expensive, whatever it is. But I'm sure Apple can afford it.
DRUINWell, I mean, it's a little bit of a gray area, OK, because what these publishers in Apple did was say, we're not necessarily going to set the price. We're going to say that here's the price we want you, Apple, to sell it at, but we're going to agree that we're not going to let anybody else sell it for less. So it's this little -- it's a slippery slope. And I think the justice department, you know, has some merit in going after them. But hopefully it'll scare them into doing the right thing, and they'll be fine, you know.
NNAMDIAny other comments on that? If not, then we go back to the telephones and Richard in Rockville, Md. Richard, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RICHARDThanks for taking my call. We use FaceTime a great deal. And often, we start a call, it goes through. Video is fine, the audio cuts out unexpectedly. When that happens, we go to Skype, it works perfectly. Apparently, there are two long threads in the Apple support community webpage, and a lot of people have this problem. It seems independent of whether you use Snow Leopard or Lion operating system. I wonder if the bright people on your panel have any thoughts about this.
HARLOWI wish I could give you an easy answer to this one, but in my experience with FaceTime on the Mac especially -- on my iPhone and the iPad, it seems to work really, really well. On the Mac, sometimes, it acts a little wonky, and I'm not sure if it's just a networking issue. In my case, it doesn't seem to be anything I can really trace down to rhyme or reason. I just know that when I replaced my old router with a new one, the problem at that point went away.
HARLOWSo it very much could just be a simple networking issue. There's a lot of automatic stuff that FaceTime tries to do in the background. So if you have an older router, it's possible that a newer one that supports these more modern kind of plug-and-play technologies, it might make it a little more seamless sort of an experience. It could also be that Skype is just, in handling that aspect of the networking, a bit better.
RICHARDOh, well, that's a good tip. I'll see if I can update my modem. Thank you very much for your help.
NNAMDIRichard, thank you very much especially for referring to our panelists as bright people.
HARLOWI do appreciate that.
GILROYThat's the next hour.
NNAMDIThank you very much.
HARLOWSo thanks to my lateral thinking, if you what I mean.
GILROYYes. I'll drink to that.
NNAMDIAllison, back to the issue of publishing e-books. A lot of academic publishers have also begun publishing textbooks in the e-book format. Are they covered by these charges the Obama administration is bringing?
DRUINWell, actually, here's the thing. Some of the big publishers, OK, are in on this, and some aren't. There's a lot of authors now that are publishing that are not part of the big five that are -- that were named in that case. So -- but, for example, you know, you do have McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin that have said that they're going to make textbooks available to students for no more than, you know, $14.99, and in some cases cheaper.
DRUINBut just to remember, OK, this may not be the exact instance of what they're talking about in terms of the price fixing for the claim. I should also point out that, you know, right now, in terms of the iBooks, they're really focused on the K-12 crowd in terms of the textbooks, whereas the other -- whereas other publishers are getting more into the higher ed. And that's why Microsoft was getting into -- and Microsoft was getting into the NOOK.
NNAMDIWell, this email we got from Joe in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., who says, "One thing that has not been mentioned is that e-book licenses typically expire after a year or on release of the next iteration. What happens to the people who keep math and science texts as reference material well into their professional careers? They have to buy traditional books or lose their reference." I guess that's correct, isn't it, Alice?
DRUINWell, interesting -- you know, it depends on what those licenses say. I mean, is it for licensing to use, licensing to distribute, licensing to share? I mean, so I think it's -- it totally depends. So I wouldn't go out and have to buy a paper book for every e-book license you have. It may just very well be just updated. You can get automatic updates for life for some of these things. Like, you buy -- what is it? A free lifetime updates for Tony Northrup's book on "How to Create Stunning Digital Photography." And so every time you get an update, you're going to automatically change that license, so don't panic yet.
NNAMDIWell, it's the Computer Guys & Gal. In case you're just joining us, you can call us at 800-433-8850, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember when we stored all our files and information on a hard drive? Now, Google has joined the personal cloud movement, taking on companies like Dropbox, SugarSync and Microsoft SkyDrive, and unveiling Google Drive. Are we seeing now the future of the personal cloud here, John Gilroy?
GILROYWell, it sure seems like it. And, you know, if you take a look at the articles that compare -- I think Bill Harlow and I can (unintelligible) compare the licenses. And, again, we're not lawyers in this room here, but it sure likes the license are fairly similar between most of these services.
HARLOWYeah, they are. And it sounds like, out of necessity to successfully make these products work, they kind of have to have some pretty open access to your data. And they mention that in their privacy policies and licenses saying, look, we have -- we need to be able to move the stuff around, possibly move it to public areas, so just be aware of that. I mean, the thing about the cloud, though, is, you know, if it's really sensitive data, are you comfortable putting it there? That's what it boils down to.
GILROYAnd what do you want to have Google have access to? Do you...
GILROYWho do you trust?
NNAMDIIf I upload my own private data onto a Google service, do I own it or does Google?
GILROYThey all seem to be pretty good about that, about saying, look, we don't own the data. It's your data. But we need to be able to move around and have some permissions to do things with it, so...
DRUINBut you got to remember, there's a little bit of a difference between the sharing of the files, OK, versus the storage in the cloud. And so people are getting that a little bit confused, too, because, you know, lot of people say, oh, I left you something on Dropbox, OK, or I left you and so -- and then they give you a link. And then you go click on it, and it -- and you can get an access to somebody's file.
DRUINThat's a little bit different from actually, you know, buying storage, OK, or getting some free storage from one of these cloud providers. And now Google decides they're going to come in, you know, late in the game. And what are they going to do? They're going to undercut the big one, OK, which is Dropbox, by charging a quarter of the price.
GILROYAnd I don't think Google is doing this out of the goodness of their heart.
HARLOWOh, they're not?
GILROYThey're going to mine this data, and if Kojo happens to be interested in, let's say, the New York Giants, they're going to send him information on New York Giants' jerseys or something.
HARLOWYeah, I don't know if they have these dark designs on my data, but at the same time, like, I'd rather put it some place where the company is in business of doing this for a living versus, yeah, we'll just hack it on, and, by the way, we're in the business of also, like, mining data and sending out ads.
DRUINWell, the interesting thing is a lot of people are interested in Google Drive because they're already on Google products. So this is -- I mean, they're using the Microsoft strategy here, folks. OK? This is, you know, post, you know, post-Microsoft. And they're saying, hey, you're already on Google Docs. You're already on Google Calendar. So, here, it's easy. Here's an extra folder, and there's Google Drive.
NNAMDIHow about these other services, like Dropbox, SugarSync and like that -- SkyDrive, what about them?
HARLOWVery, very similar wording, although a couple things stand out. I think in Apple's iCloud, for example, they state that they have the right to, you know, if there's, like, you know, any sort of copyright infringement going on, they have the right to remove that data. So, by and large, I'd say, my perception is -- about putting something on Dropbox and it's really, really private, it's not going on Dropbox. You know, I -- treat anything you put online as potentially vulnerable.
NNAMDIWell, John Gilroy, last month we had some callers who asked about buying a tablet computer and whether they would need a desktop to which to anchor it. Now, with the advent of the cloud, it appears that we have seen the future of computing here.
GILROYYou know, I think the transition is beginning right now. I think what's going to happen in the next five years, these tablets are going to get better and better, and they're going to get easier and easier to link to other services. And I think there may be keyboards and disk drives and screens at the office, and I think people are going to increasingly move to a different way of producing information. Now, is it going to be post-PC? Maybe not. But I can't see software developers that I know developing code on anything but a keyboard. It's just too detail oriented, and it's too intense.
DRUINYeah. But you can plug those keyboards in now, so it can be happening. So watch out, John.
NNAMDIHere's Jordan in Baltimore, Md. Jordan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JORDANHi. Good afternoon, everyone. Kojo, I have a 73-inch Mitsubishi TV and -- yeah, it's Internet-compatible with 3-D and pretty much everything. So I went to Best Buy and got myself a Google box. It's called Logitech Revue. And it comes with a wireless keyboard. So I pretty much use my TV like my laptop or computer. I pretty much don't even need a PC or laptop anymore. So I use my TV for everything. But my question yet it this, how safe is the Google box, especially if there's a virus attack? Will it attack just my TV, or would it attack my box -- the Google box, which is the Logitech?
GILROYWell, I think it's going to be safer than using a conventional computer in that regard. And the only vector I would see for any danger would be the Google device itself, the Revue. I'm not even aware of any active malware out there. You know, we're all speaking hypotheticals at this point. So, in the grand scheme of things, you know, it's not a bad way to browse. If you like doing that and you like sitting back in the couch and browsing the Web in that manner, then, you know, it sounds like a pretty good fit for you.
GILROYBut I wouldn't be too concerned about security yet, just kind of, you know, keep reading up. As these products, you know, get more developed, if they get more popular, if the services get built into more and more TVs. That's when you're going to sort of want to pay attention. Right now, it's still, I think, way under the radar.
HARLOWSeventy-three inch. I'd like to see the Baltimore Ravens on that set. Seventy-three inches, wow.
NNAMDII was about to say 73 inches, Jordan is speaking not only for himself but for all of the dozens of other people who are watching (unintelligible).
GILROYYeah, we're going to come up to your house and watch a game there in the fall. Wow.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. 800-433-8850 is the number if you'd like to call. You can send email to email@example.com. Simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, which is what Nicholas did. Nicholas posted on our website, "Who wants to touch on Facebook's big lifesaving announcement, which ended up being the ability to share your organ donor status?" Facebook announced today that it would include whether people are organ donors on their timeline and on their About pages. What do you think?
GILROYEarth shattering is what I say. Stop the presses. Call The Washington Post. I'll hold the front page.
DRUINWell, this is about how much information are you really going to share with the world. Is it TMI, too much information? Or is this, you know, or is this something really good to promote, you know, good causes? And, you know, it depends. It depends on your point of view.
NNAMDII guess it could also be about being a good citizen if people want to do that.
DRUINThat's exactly right. That's exactly right. And good -- it's wonderful to hear that Facebook actually may promote good citizenship (unintelligible).
HARLOWI guess the real question is, what is -- does Facebook own my kidneys?
HARLOWAnd that's a conversation...
NNAMDINow, the real question is you don't want any part of John...
DRUINThat is TMI.
NNAMDIDon't want any part of Gilroy's liver, that's for sure.
NNAMDIWikimania -- as our resident Computer Guys & Gal social secretary, Bill, you can always be relied on…
HARLOWClear your calendars, folks.
NNAMDI...geeky events and openings taking place around Washington. And you're particularly excited about something called Wikimania 2012.
HARLOWWell, I'm not saying I'm catching the Wikimania exactly, but I think it's worth bringing up.
NNAMDIWhat is it?
HARLOWSo it's -- every year, Wikipedia has a big conference. And this year, it's at George Washington University in D.C., July 12 through 15. So if you're active in the Wikipedia community, you know, sign up now and go and meet other like-minded people and discuss Wikipedia. I mean, as much as we like to make fun of Wikimania, it is a very active community. I think it is an important thing to have on the Web. So there it is.
NNAMDIWe've got to take a...
GILROYA lot of excitement there, I'll tell you that much.
NNAMDII was about to say we got to take a short break to wake up John and Allison now.
NNAMDIIt's very exciting.
NNAMDIAs we will be when we return, 800-433-8850. We're going to be taking a short break. When we come back, it's the Computer Guys & Gal and you. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to the Computer Guys & Gal. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp. And Allison Druin is associate dean for research at the University of Maryland's iSchool and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance. John Gilroy, 33 percent of American households owns some Apple product.
NNAMDIAnd last quarter, the iPhone accounted for 59 percent of smartphone sales. We know the reasons why they're beginning to assert true market dominance across different products, but we don't know what that could end up meaning. You flagged an interesting article that warns of the rise of a total Apple monopoly.
GILROYWell, it sure looks like it. It's like, you know, it's like having the New England Patriots win 10 Super Bowls in a row or something like that. You know, I mean, it's just incredible. If you look at last quarter, they brought in almost $40 billion in revenue. At the same time, AT&T was making a bid on T-Mobile for about $40 million -- I mean, billion dollars. I mean, that's just -- these numbers are just crazy numbers. If you went up to an MBA program and started talking these numbers in the classroom, I'd think they'd think you were on drugs or something.
GILROYIt's just -- the numbers are just really hard to believe. And I think what happens is that, you know, Microsoft had a monopoly for a while, and then now Apple seems to be moving that direction. I think it's going to ebb and flow in this general direction. But, you know, these numbers are just incredible. And one point in time, it's going to even out, and things are going to establish themselves, I think.
HARLOWI mean, it can only -- how much farther can they grow? I mean, at least right now with the iPad, tablets are still relatively new. It's effectively a new market, you know, as far as iPad-style tablets go. And, you know, for the foreseeable future, they can -- you know, if they play their cards right, they can still really maintain dominance and increase sales of iPads to people who don't have anything yet.
NNAMDIAllison, Apple is making a big play to get the iPad in more hands, especially in schools. And part of that push involves releasing more content through platforms like iBooks. What distinguishes iBooks from e-books?
DRUINWell, the iBooks have this -- they've created a tool for authors to really author these books, but to give them more interactive control. So, in other words, you're going to see integrated video, more interactive experiences and, in a way, more of a classroom-style approach to presenting some of the information with options. So it's actually better for authors. I don't know, to be honest with you, if some of the teaching style is so great right now, but this is what -- this will evolve. It's only in its infancy.
NNAMDIGot an -- a question -- a tweet from @cni.org. "In light of the latest news about Microsoft and Barnes & Noble, what e-reader would Tech Tuesday folks recommend purchasing now?"
DRUINOh, that is a very good question. I have to say -- I can only tell you what I'm using because I really -- I think, right now, it's a toss-up. It depends on if you care deeply about the hardware you're holding, if you care about the extensibility of being able to read across all different platforms. You know, Kindle is the way to go when it comes to the software because then you can read on iPads, on your cellphones, on all different platforms.
DRUINOn the other hand, you know, the iPad, the physicality of the iPad is actually something that people really like and that -- and the screen, that new Retina screen is quite amazing. On the other hand, if you're really looking for something light, the NOOK has always been a better e-book reader physically than the physical Kindle. So it really depends on what you care about most in terms of your reading experience.
NNAMDINext week on Tech Tuesday, we'll be talking with David Pogue of The New York Times about this very topic: e-readers. He's the tech reviewer and best-selling e-book author, so you'll want to joint us for that conversation. Bill Harlow, is it possible for Congress to pass an Internet law that does not antagonize the net routes? Remember when cyber war sounded like something from a sci-fi novel?
NNAMDIWell, Congress has drafted new legislation to fight cyber threats, but some people worry that they're just creating new licenses for government data snooping. What is CISPA? And here's a comment -- a tweet that we got from (word?) : "With regard to cloud and pseudo-anonymous services like Vibe, can you comment on how CISPA will threaten user privacy?"
HARLOWWell, the threat is basically that two things that stand out to, you know, people who are antagonized on the net. One is that the term cyber threat seems a little vague, and they want to, you know, really tighten it up and say, explicitly, what do you mean by cyber threat? Because, you know, there could be room for interpretation and therefore abuse in that scenario. And the second thing is that it absolves a lot of companies from privacy issues because they won't be penalized for sharing your private data if the government requests it due to a potential cyber threat.
HARLOWSo, yeah, if your data's on the cloud and CISPA passes and there's a cyber threat and your data happens to be part of it, I guess it could be compromised. And I think that's the thing we want -- people who are against this, they want to see things more explicit, and they want to see more oversight.
NNAMDIOn to Kevin in Bethesda, Md. Kevin, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KEVINThanks, Kojo. I wanted to go back to what your guests were saying about the security of online data and services like Google Cloud maybe snooping through it to provide advertising.
KEVINI was wondering if they're aware of a service called SpiderOak and their -- what they call their zero-knowledge policy. And what they do and, I think, what some other companies are starting to do is actually encrypt your data when it's in the cloud so that they can't access it. It doesn't matter if they want to serve you advertising or if they get a subpoena for something. They can't actually see what the data is that they're storing. And I was wondering if your guests could comment on that.
GILROYWhat's the business model? What's the charge, I guess the first question is, huh?
HARLOWKevin, you there?
GILROYWhat -- so what -- they must charge a lot more than Google charges.
KEVINThey charge similar to Dropbox right now.
DRUINSo it's four times as much as Google.
DRUINBut, I mean, it's very interesting because the first models of these cloud storage areas, there were mostly -- people were encrypting the information.
DRUINIt's now -- it's been in the second generation of these storage areas that -- in the cloud -- that they're not encrypting, so it's -- it depends.
HARLOWAnd, you know, it'll be interesting to see what the law does with encryption in general. I mean, there's been some speculation that Apple, with a lot of the data that they store that's encrypted, that they've got a master key that could get, you know, could get into that. I mean, that's the thing, is you only need to know the key to decrypt the stuff. So it's true that, yeah, the stuff in SpiderOak service, they may not be able to see it, but perhaps legally, with time, they could be compelled to decrypt that for you or require the user to decrypt it. I think a lot of that is going to shake out as the law moves on.
NNAMDIAnd, Kevin, that's called SpiderOak service?
KEVINYeah. And I've only just started using them, so I don't...
KEVIN...really have anything good or bad to say about them, but I just sort of found it interesting. And I think, you know, with the exception of -- if you're committing horrible felonies online, if you're just basically trying to protect your basic data, I imagine they're not going to jump through those crazy hoops to do what it might take to actually decrypt that, and you would have your basic privacy intact. It seems to be my impression.
NNAMDIOK, Kevin. Thank you for calling and for bringing that up. John Gilroy, what's behind the interest in Pinterest? Facebook and Twitter are the undisputable titans of the social networking space. But just below those two top slots, a newcomer has taken over third place. According to a company called Experian Marketing Services, in January and February, Pinterest vaulted ahead of LinkedIn and Google Plus. What's behind this growth?
GILROYAs I told Allison before the show, I have no interest in Pinterest. I just...
DRUINOh, he just likes rhyming things.
HARLOWI'm not going to clap for that one.
GILROYIn the United States, it projects out to be 83 percent women, a lot of people with hobbies. I guess you go on there, and then talk about your hobbies and...
HARLOWYeah, the nerve of those people talking about their hobbies on Pinterest. How dare they?
DRUINYeah, so that's 83 percent...
GILROYThis isn't a business application.
HARLOWThat's not what the Internet is for.
GILROYNo, this isn't a business application. This is about hobbies. This is about sharing stuff. And you just...
DRUINWrong. Wrong. You're so wrong.
NNAMDII beg to differ. We have a Pinterest page on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" that our producer Taylor Burnie runs, so...
HARLOWJohn, do you lie awake at night just concerned that someone online is having fun?
GILROYNo fun allowed, and that's for sure.
GILROYI mean, what's Pinterest? I mean, not with -- now, I use LinkedIn all the time. They're more popular than LinkedIn. They've come from nowhere, from, like, in the last year-and-a-half, the fastest growing.
NNAMDI'Cause the word probably got out that you were on LinkedIn.
GILROYThat's why. They switched.
DRUINAll right. But you should think of Pinterest, in some sense, as a micro visual blogging site, OK? And so what's really nice about it, it's -- really, there's a lot of low -- it's just low overhead. You can put up images. And, in fact, people are doing some pretty creative things, so -- OK. The governor's office, OK, state of Maryland, they have a Pinterest business pitch, business plan pitch, OK, through Pinterest. So pitch your business plan to the governor's office, OK, on Pinterest.
GILROYWhy don't you put a billboard in North Dakota? I mean, it just -- I mean, Pinterest is...
DRUINWell, because I can't afford a billboard. But Pinterest is low-hanging fruit. And, yes, 83 percent women are using it. What do you want to say about that, John?
GILROYI'm pro-women, but I'm not going to talk about, you know, American doll collections or whatever goes on there.
DRUINOh, my gosh. I just...
GILROYHow's that for a sexist statement? That a sexist statement.
DRUINOh, my gosh. Can I pour water on him? What's wrong with him?
GILROYBoy, we're going to get in big trouble with that one.
HARLOWKojo, save us.
NNAMDIWell, I'm going to just turn to Julie in Annapolis, Md. See if John Gilroy can save himself.
GILROYOh, I'm in big trouble now.
NNAMDIJulie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JULIEOh, thanks. This question's actually for Bill Harlow. I have a MacBook, iPhone and iPad. And at home, I only use DSL because I'm cheap, and I don't -- I use the other things all the time all over the place. I don't need a really, you know, fast or robust kind of Internet connection. But you were talking about security and getting the latest downloads and all that sort of stuff. Is the quality of what I'm downloading bad because it takes three hours instead of five minutes to actually put it on my MacBook or on my iPhone or iPad?
HARLOWNo. Once it's downloaded and the system verifies that the data is good, it's fine. I do notice with some flaky connections, you know, you run the risk of being in, you know, at two hours and 53 minutes and having the data just stop and you have to re-download the whole thing from scratch. So that's inconvenience.
HARLOWAnd the updates are only getting bigger, it seems, too, which is the other problem. So I think you might want to look into upgrading in the future 'cause at some point you're going to need a faster connection. And at least -- like, I've got an iPad 4 -- iPad 4G, rather. And that's really fast. But if I were to use that to download updates to my computer, I would run to that data cap immediately, so just something to think about.
DRUINYeah, that's true. That's true.
NNAMDIJulie, thank you very much for your call. You, too, can call us, 800-433-8850, email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We got this email from Jeff in Burtonsville. "I use Gmail and Sprint, and it's time to upgrade my smartphone. I love the Android, but I'm considering the iPhone 4S. How compatible would the iPhone be with all my Gmail and Google apps? I love to use Google Maps for my GPS navigation in my car." Well, a man named Ben Bederson was recently tweeting.
NNAMDIA man named Ben Bederson was...
GILROYIs he out of jail?
NNAMDIA man named Ben Bederson was recently tweeting about his experience with iPhone, Android and Windows phone. He said the iPhone was great, but the mapping applications are better on Android. Do you know anything about this, Allison, or is he tweeting without your permission?
DRUINActually, he was tweeting right next to me since he's my husband. But anyway, yeah, in fact...
NNAMDIOh, that Ben Bederson. OK.
DRUINThat Ben Bederson.
DRUINYes. Actually, that computer science professor that does all this research on mobile...
HARLOWBut is he a computer guy?
HARLOWDoes he have that title? Exactly.
DRUINWell, actually, he is my computer guy. So, anyway, in terms of -- he has, like, five different flavors of phones, OK? And the guy switches periodically between all of them just because he has to do this for work. But, anyway, and I have to tell you that I really don't see a difference between the mapping on the iPhone and the Androids.
DRUINBut I think the form factor on the iPhone is much better on -- than the Androids. He's passing me the phone in the car, and I can't tell you how many times I stuck my finger in the wrong place on these Android phones because there's no safe spot around the thing so that it really makes a difference. Yeah.
HARLOWAnd just as a counterpoint, if you own an Android phone, you're going to learn to get around that pretty quickly. And the second thing is the nice thing about the Android phones is that you have a choice of bigger screens. So if you're doing a lot of navigation, having, like, a five-inch screen on the phone...
DRUINOK. The bigger screen is cool. I agree. I totally agree.
HARLOWThat and the map apps on most Android phones these days, they have navigation for free. On the iPhone, the map is a really simple map, and if you want a nav system, you have to pay for that app.
DRUINBut I do agree with Ben, though. The Windows Mobile is actually -- that new interface is really nice, and you should actually take a look at it. It's a little bit hard to start to get used to 'cause there's no swiping, but it's really a very nice interface.
NNAMDIProducer Brendan Sweeney has had both, and he said the maps are definitely better on the iPhone.
GILROYAnd if you follow Ben on Twitter, he has (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIOn Android. I'm sorry. The maps are definitely better on Android, just like Ben said.
GILROYBen has insights with -- he test out drive, and he has some insights on that. So his Twitter is -- Twitter handle is pretty easy to follow. What's his Twitter handle?
GILROY@bederson. I don't know.
NNAMDIHe just got 20,000 more followers.
HARLOWDon't ask me. I'm not married to him.
DRUINHe'll be so excited to have a follower. Yeah.
NNAMDIWe're running out of time quickly, John. But in 1999, Al Gore famously -- or infamously -- laid claim to creating the Internet. But even though he's been mocked for this claim, which has been taken slightly out of context, it turns out that the folks at the Internet Society seem to agree. They've named him to the first class of the Internet Hall of Fame, along with other heavy hitters like Vint Cerf and Linus Torvalds.
GILROYI think Tim Berners-Lee and Phil Zimmerman and Vint Cerf are the ones that should be in there. For some reason, they've included him in there. So I was all wrong, you know? The fact is the Internet is a bunch of tubes, and Al Gore invented it, so I'll go along with the game.
HARLOWWell, you've got to admit, he was a steward of getting this pushed forward, if nothing else.
DRUINYou know, the thing is you can invent things, but if people don't know about it, they can't do anything about it. And Al Gore helped people to know about the Internet.
NNAMDIHey, Bill. Gizmodo (sp?) said that there was one glaring omission on this list: Matt Drudge, who did more than probably anyone else to push our political conversations online.
DRUINThere you go.
GILROYWhat's that got to do with inventing the Internet? Anyway...
NNAMDIThink Matt Drudge should be on there?
DRUINHow about you, Kojo? What do you think?
NNAMDINo, I was thinking John Gilroy, as a matter of fact.
GILROYYes. That's an excellent choice.
DRUINThis scares me, but 83 percent of the women in this world would not want him. Anyway, sorry...
NNAMDIOh, I'm sorry. I meant the Hall of Shame.
DRUINThat's right. Thank you.
GILROYHall of Shame. I'm going to be the president.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy in the Hall of Shame. He's the director of business development at Armature Corp. and proud to be there.
NNAMDIBill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid Atlantic Consulting, Incorporated. And Allison Druin is associate dean for research at the University of Maryland's iSchool, co-director of the Future of Information Alliance. That's at least until next month when she'll get an even longer title.
GILROYReally, director of the future for all the planets in the universe.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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