Kojo talks with author Colson Whitehead about his new novel "The Underground Railroad" and its resonance at this particular moment in history.
Let the games begin! Olympic athletes embrace social media. Fans perfect the art of ignoring Twitter spoilers in advance of evening rebroadcasts. Meanwhile, the video game industry confronts an ongoing problem in competitive gaming: sexist language and harassment. The Computer Guys and Gal are back to explore the latest news from the technology world.
- Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; ADVANCE Professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council & Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance, University of Maryland
- John Gilroy WAMU 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.
Computer Guys And Gal Picks
Some people are calling the 2012 London games the “social media Olympics.” The Computer Guys And Gal share suggestions for celebrating the Olympics from the office cubicle or living room couch. Plus, what the online gaming industry can and should do about sexist behavior.
Has social media ruined the Olympics, or is it NBC and its time delay?
Thank the wrong person or group and your Olympic dreams are over! An update on Rule 40, which severely limits athletes’ rights to market themselves during the Olympic Games.
Free is not so free when it comes to Olympics live-streaming.
Olympics sponsor BMW develops technology to help U.S. athletes improve their training and performance.
Olympic technology: The winners and losers.
Ever wonder how the score boards know when someone has won a race within 1 100th of a second? Pressure sensors in the pool! Technology that’s hiding in plain sight at the Olympics.
Simulated Olympic training, such as Australian cyclists who watch a screen that looks like a video game but actually is a “mile for mile, hill for hill recreation of the London Olympic road cycling course.”
In virtual play, sex harassment is all too real.
The ugly side of fighting games: Sexual harassment in competitive gaming.
The fighting game community rallied to include a gamer with cerebral palsy.
As security researcher Cody Brocious put it, “My Arduino can beat up your hotel room lock.”
What happens when David Pogue loses his iPhone? The world watches (and helps).
Forum trolling against terrorism. Internet “flame wars” may have higher stakes here.
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, the world's number one sporting event.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYes, they're back with a high-tech celebration of the 30th Olympiad. Some people are calling the 2012 London games the social media Olympics. Athletes from around the world are tweeting about their experiences and finding there can be huge consequences for thanking the wrong corporate sponsor. Journalists and fans are posting updates and Facebooking the results hours before they air on time-delay and primetime TV, creating a new kind of high-tech spoiler alert and all sorts of exciting technology that's news being rolled out behind the scenes.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe Computer Guys & Gal are back to celebrate the Olympics as experienced in the office cubicle or the living room couch. They are Allison Druin, WAMU computer gal. She's ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Allison, glad to be able to drag you away from your TV during these Olympics.
MS. ALLISON DRUINOh, it's so hard, but I'm happy to be here.
NNAMDIIt's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it...
NNAMDI...as is Bill Harlow. He is our computer guy and hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. Bill Harlow, thank you for joining us.
MR. BILL HARLOWYeah, a pleasure to be here as always.
NNAMDIAnd John Gilroy, participating in his 23rd Olympiad.
NNAMDIHe is director...
MR. JOHN GILROY(unintelligible).
NNAMDI...director of business development at ARMATURE Corp. John, good to have you here. It must be tiring. It must be.
GILROYEvery time my -- my Olympic event...
DRUINIt's tiring for us.
GILROY...is just walking up the steps. That's my Olympic event.
NNAMDIAll of these events over all of these years. Of course, you can join the conversation or the Olympiad by calling 800-433-8850, sending email to email@example.com, joining us by sending us a tweet, @kojoshow, with the #TechTuesday, or simply going to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. This hour, we're going to explore new high-tech frontiers in sport and competition, but we'll begin with slightly scarier news.
NNAMDIAccount hacking and identity theft are hazards of the modern Web. Every day, countless people find out that their accounts have been compromised in some way, usually due to a combination of user error and hacker cunning. But this weekend, the tech world has been abuzz about the experience of the tech journalist named Mat Honan. As he explains it, his entire digital profile was completely wiped out across all of his Apple devices, his iPhone, his MacBook, his iPad. Bill, what happened to Mat Honan?
HARLOWWell, can you guess what sort of high-tech attack they used to get into his accounts?
HARLOWSocial engineering, yeah.
NNAMDIGood old standby.
HARLOWSo once the hacker got some basic info, which was, I think, a billing address and last four digits of his credit card, which you could do a little poking around. In this case, he found that by social engineering Amazon. Then he went to this person's -- to Mat's iCloud account, found out the email address for that, called AppleCare and basically pestered them and said, OK, here's information I have to verify. I forgot. I can't get in. They reset the password.
HARLOWSo if you have an iCloud account, and let's say you have a brand-new retina MacBook Pro, a brand-new iPad, brand new iPhone, and you've set those up with iCloud, which means that they back up to iCloud.
HARLOWThey store your data on iCloud. There's also a Find My Mac, Find My iPhone, Find My iPad feature, so the idea is that if those ever get misplaced, you go online, you sign in with your iCloud info, and one of the options is you can lock those devices. You can remotely wipe them. So the idea is, you know, let's say you stole my iPad, which, of course, you would never do.
HARLOWBut -- and I realize...
NNAMDIMr. Gilroy would.
HARLOWAnd I'm thinking, wow, there's a lot of sensitive info on my iPad. I don't want that accessed. I could send a remote wipe command. Well, this happened in reverse. Mat had all his devices, the hacker got in and, just for fun, locked him out of his own devices. And to make matters worse, Mat was not very good about backing up his data, so he potentially lost a lot of stuff, a year's worth of photos of his daughter, all kinds of stuff.
GILROYNo. Mat knows people in high places. He knows people...
GILROY...in certain organizations that helped him out. But what about Joe Six-pack out there?
GILROYOr like David Pogue?
GILROYNow, he's the one who lost his device.
HARLOWBut he got his back.
NNAMDIHe got his back. We'll talk about David Pogue in a second, but back to the very beginning, the last four digits of your Social Security card?
HARLOWNo, no, of your credit card number.
NNAMDIOf your credit card number. I thought it was Social Security. Oh, but he was able to get those as a result of social engineering.
NNAMDIThat's how it works. Apple has won legions of fans for its various devices, but even its most ardent supporters have acknowledged that customer care can sometimes be, well, a little lacking. It's often very hard to get in touch with a real person, for example. And according to Mat Honan, the hackers who attacked him were only able to do so because of AppleCare.
HARLOWExactly. That's the tech support line. And, you know, it makes you wonder just what the policies are at a lot of other companies, too.
NNAMDIWho's working there?
HARLOWI mean, like, Microsoft is going cloud big time. You know, Google, they really depend on cloud services as well for all their customers. So, you know, it's sort of one of the things you want to kind of really think about as far as what are the best practices to secure yourself. I mean, how do you, you know, do you use the same Apple ID for your iTunes?
NNAMDISpeaking of best practices, this journalist who is more tech savvy than most of us, but apparently, in his piece, he acknowledges John Gilroy, that he made one big mistake. He allowed his various online accounts, his Gmail, his Apple ID, his Amazon ID to be linked together, so that a breach of one made the other vulnerable. I've seen this called daisy chaining. What does that mean?
GILROYSo this is the pride of Shaker Heights, Ohio, David Pogue, currently residing in New York. He's on a train somewhere, and someone snagged his phone. And he -- this is a little embarrassing. I mean, this is embarrassing for someone like him who's written about and talked about making backups and being careful. But he was a human being, and he just misplaced or something happened.
GILROYMaybe he was on the train. He got up to get something to drink or something, came back and didn't realize it was gone (unintelligible) Maryland. I mean, what a good connection to The Computer Guys & Gal here.
DRUINDid you take that phone, John?
GILROYWell, maybe we did just for the benefit of the show, get a little action here.
DRUINOh, that's not nice.
GILROYBut it was just the opposite of what Bill was talking about earlier, is that he used his inside connections, his people in high places...
GILROY...to help him locate...
HARLOWWell, Twitter -- actually, Twitter saved him.
GILROYYeah. And the policeman, too.
GILROYThe policeman actually, oh, yeah, I know who David Pogue is.
HARLOWYeah. It went from Twitter to the Gizmodo article, and then, I guess, one of the police officers was a fan of Gizmodo, saw the post and reached out.
NNAMDIIt's The Computer Guys & Gal. Are you wearing new glasses, John Gilroy?
GILROYYes. I found these at a thrift shop.
NNAMDII thought those were your Olympic special diving glasses.
GILROYNo. I'm like the NBA player. No, just like the NBA players, I wear these glasses just to be on camera.
NNAMDII just noticed that.
HARLOWIt's a radio show, John.
GILROYI don't care.
GILROYThe NBA guys don't care either.
NNAMDIYou can send us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the #TechTuesday, 800-433-8850. The 30th Olympic Games taking place in London five hours ahead of us, so NBC has decided to air prerecorded broadcasts of the games in prime time. But, judging by the ratings, it's a pretty popular way of doing things, but for anyone accustomed to getting their news over Twitter or Facebook or newspaper websites, it's created a big challenge -- how to avoid Olympic spoilers? Allison?
DRUINWell, you know, first of all, you got to decide what is your philosophy. Is it to now or live in Twitter speed, OK? And, honestly, there's a lot of people that are turning off their phone alerts. You know, you have a lot of those news feeds that are -- that show up on your phone. They're turning those off. People are avoiding their Twitter and Facebook streams as well because they're feeling like, wait a second, someone is going to tell me something I don't want to see or hear. And, yes, sadly enough, some people are even turning off radio. I don't want to tell you that, but...
HARLOWI don't do that.
DRUINBut here, hey, at WAMU, at least they...
NNAMDIWe have a policy.
DRUINThere's a policy. There is a spoiler policy that tells people, hey, we're going to tell you, here's a spoiler, turn it off before you whatever.
NNAMDIYou have the option of tuning out.
GILROYHere's the real spoiler, is that 67 percent of the people who knew the results, they still watched the event anyway 'cause they didn't care and...
GILROY...NBC is not losing money on this. I mean, this is kind of -- I don't know if this is marketing 101. I don't know if I'd teach it in my class, but it doesn't make sense, does it?
DRUINWell, but you see the thing is it's actually -- in some sense, it's giving a preview to what they can then see all the richness in front of them on the TV thing -- on the TV show. But it's -- but some people are very old fashioned, and they just, you know, they don't want to hear a thing. And some people feel it's, like, it's absolutely a crime not to let people in on this information. So what do you think, Bill?
HARLOWWell, I personally don't like having things spoiled. I mean, I know what you're saying, some people figure out, oh, wow, he got the gold. I'd like to see how he did it, but...
HARLOW...you know, but some of these things, you know, like, you know, in women's soccer, I like seeing the game, seeing them unfold. They've been very dramatic. And it's so weird 'cause everybody has time shifted. You know, you could sit at home and watch some primetime. Maybe you've got a TV at work where you can actually -- you have the luxury of watching things close to live. Maybe you're watching replays online. Maybe you tune out of everything, and still someone comes up to you and says, oh, wow, did you see that soccer match? I can't believe...
HARLOWAnd then it's all for not.
DRUINYeah. But then -- OK, but then you've got people like Guy Adams, that reporter from The Independent, OK? He's -- The Independent is a London newspaper, but he's based in L.A. And he's mad, and he's tweeting about how horrible it is, the six-hour time delay. And he gets so mad, he tweets the president of the NBC Olympics email address. And then, all of a sudden, he gets an -- he gets a Twitter note.
DRUINHello, your account's been suspended.
GILROYI think the next Olympics is going to be in Rio, which is the same time zone as New York City, so we won't have this argument in four years. Maybe in eight years when it's who knows where, but, speaking of the future ones, NBC, you know, they're -- they've signed contracts, I think, for the next four Olympics or something. I mean, they understand what's going on, and they're -- and they don't have to worry.
NNAMDIWell, it may not happen in the future, but we're having this argument right now. And we want to keep having this argument here for a while.
GILROYGet the listeners involved. See what they say.
NNAMDISo tell us what happened to Guy Adams.
DRUINWell, so, OK, so he ends up getting this, hello, your account has been suspended thing, OK? And then so he's outraged, and, you know, all the social media folks are outraged. It takes two days, and NBC realizes this is not good. They actually take back their complaint. So the next thing Guy Adams gets is a message, a Twitter email that says we've just received an update from the complainant retracting your original -- or their original request, therefore your account has been unsuspended. I like all that language.
DRUINSo -- and then, a few days later, their lawyers say we want to apologize for our part in the story, and so their lawyers are apologizing. And their lawyers -- Twitter has even said, we should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is and whether the business partner is a celebrity or friend or whatever. And, you know, they did make a few mistakes because that email address that they flagged this guy for...
NNAMDIWas a public email.
DRUINIt was a public email address. They got a little overaggressive on there, and so you've got to ask yourself, is this the social media Olympics, or is this the Big Brother Olympics? Because, over and over again, you're getting the feeling like this is Big Brother coming at you, cutting down the information. It's scary.
NNAMDIWell, can I share what Guy Adams tweeted? 'Cause I thought it was kind of funny myself.
DRUINGo for it.
NNAMDIHe said America's West Coast forced to watch Olympic ceremony on six-hour time delay, disgusting money-grabbing NBC.
NNAMDIThe man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what you think, and he provides...
NNAMDI...his email address and the like. Well, we're welcome -- we are here welcoming what you think by calling 800-433-8850. Are you an avid social media user and sports fan? How do you avoid social media spoilers? 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there.
NNAMDIJust before these games began, Allison, a Greek Olympic athlete was dismissed from her team for making disparaging remarks about African immigrants. But all athletes should apparently be careful about what they say on social media, especially after they win and then they start thanking everyone who helped them they feel to win. Explain, please.
DRUINWell, it turns out that if that organization or that person is not an official Olympic sponsor, guess what? They...
NNAMDIThey can't thank them.
DRUINYou can't thank them, or else you're going to be dismissed from the Olympics. It turns out that people are paying a...
NNAMDIWell, first, my mom who raised me. Uh oh. You're dismissed.
HARLOWDidn't sponsor exactly.
DRUINWell, it turns out that people are paying so much money to be a sponsor of the Olympics, and they're complaining that there's, you know, ambush marketing. You know, people can just sort of say these things, and they're getting that for free. And so if you say, hey, thank you, Coca-Cola, for giving me my sneakers for the last 30 years, if Coca-Cola isn't an official sponsor, you got a problem.
GILROYYou know, you pay your money, you take your chances. In the football season there's a certain event that takes place in January, February, and people can't call it the Super Bowl. They have to call it something else, and it's the same thing with this, I think. I mean, if you're going to go ahead and sign the piece of paper and commit to the Olympic rules, then you got to play by the rules. You have to...
NNAMDISame rules why John Gilroy can't tell you who manufactured his glasses because they made no contributions to this broadcast.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy is director of business development for Armature Corp. He joins us in studio with Bill Harlow, hardware and software technician for MAC and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Inc., and Allison Druin, advanced professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. We're going to take a short break. If you have called, stay on the line. We will get to your calls. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back the Computer Guys & Gal. John Gilroy is our computer guy and director of business development at Armature Corp. Allison Druin is our computer gal. She is advanced professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. And Bill Harlow, our computer guy, is a hardware and software technician for MAC and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Inc. Directly to the phone, here now is John in Leesburg, Va. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNHi, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call. I just have a comment to make regarding the current Olympic Games that are currently going on, and I am immigrant. I'm originally from Africa, and just to let you know, I was very disappointed on the day of the opening games of the Olympics.
JOHNAnd actually my son, who lives in the U.K., was taking part in the opening ceremony, so I was really anxious, you know, to watch it live. I sat behind the TV just waiting to find out what was going. Then I get a call from, you know, Africa, a so-called (unintelligible) that they were watching the, you know, the opening ceremonies live, and we have -- we were here, you know...
NNAMDISitting up in the so-called first world not being able to see a thing.
JOHNExactly. Exactly. And, you know, and we call ourselves, you know, the first world, and they are the third world. They had opportunity to watch it first before us. So, I mean, it's just, you know, it is great in terms of the free market economies that we say we want to show to the other parts of the world, and yet one company has a monopoly in terms of...
NNAMDIBecause NBC controls everything.
JOHNExactly. And it is a shame. I mean, it is really, really, really a shame.
HARLOWHey, John, NBC paid $1.18 billion for those rights, though. I mean, it is a free market, and they paid a billion dollars for the right to broadcast it. And they have a, you know, they have a right to make money off this, don't you think?
JOHNWell, I mean, you are right, but they should make it open -- if Fox also wants to bid, let Fox bid. If...
HARLOWI'm sure they did.
JOHN...CNN, if Bravo, let them all bid.
NNAMDIBelieve me, that's -- that's what you do. You bid, and somebody ultimately wins the bidding. But as Allison Druin pointed out earlier, you might want to take this a little more philosophically, John, because think of your brothers and sisters in Africa. This might be the old saying, and the last shall be first.
NNAMDIThey heard it actually before we did in the first world. Thank you for your call, John. We move on now to another John in Falls Church, Va. John 2, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNYes. Hi, Kojo. Thanks very much for taking my call. I have a comment about online streaming and the replays that NBC puts on their website. I've been watching the gymnastics competitions, and I've found that many of the events are not shown. I haven't been able to see the Americans qualify. They just don't put it up, and now their videos will have commercials every 10 minutes. And it seems like they're inserting them in a poor way because when the main feed comes back, it's often frozen.
JOHNThe picture will be frozen. You can hear them continue to talk, and then it will stop. And I just wish that I could -- they could either do it better, or I could just pay NBC $20 or whatever and then watch it without the commercials so that it wouldn't be interrupted. And I wonder if there's any comment.
NNAMDIAnd you're watching -- John, you're watching the online stream?
JOHNNot the online stream. I'm watching the event replays on nbcolympics.com.
DRUINOh, yeah. Yeah.
NNAMDIOK. Got you.
DRUINYeah. No. You know, what's interesting about this, they're also using flash video technology, and oh, my goodness. So here I am, I'm all excited. I'm going to sit on my exercise bicycle, and I'm going to use my iPad. I'm going to watch some of the video and realize I have to download an app onto my iPad. I mean, talk about #fail. I was so mad. So I'm sitting there for 15 minutes just downloading the flipping app before I could even watch video, and you're right. Some of that video is not so good quality.
HARLOWAnd the term flipping is appropriate for the gymnastics, I would say.
NNAMDICan you say flipping on public radio? I'm not sure.
GILROYNo, no, no, you can.
DRUINIt's wrong. It's wrong.
NNAMDIBut in order to get this app, it's my understanding that you have to verify to log on that you're a cable subscriber and that you subscribe to a cable package that includes NBC and MSNBC...
DRUINWell, yes, and...
HARLOWBrush your teeth in the morning.
DRUINSort of and yes. OK. The app is actually -- yeah. This is sort of -- it's free, but it's not free, OK? You can actually get the phone app free or any of those things free, but you have to, in order to actually...
NNAMDIAccess the stream.
DRUINIn order to actually to access the stream, then you have to tell them your user name and so on. And you can get this from your paid TV provider, but, like, I'm a total gymnastics freak, too. And so I'm all excited. I'm going to see Kerri Strug's journey and profiles and extras, and it doesn't strike me that this is going to end up making me have to go off to my cable provider and come back.
HARLOWDig up the password and all that fun stuff, too.
DRUINIt was, you know, so they need a better way of giving feedback before people get all excited they're going to get to see something, and then it's not there. So I totally agree with you, Sir John.
NNAMDIEven though, John, we're really enjoying the Olympics.
NNAMDIHere is Cassandra in Silver Spring, Md. Cassandra, your turn.
CASSANDRAThank you. I happen to agree with Guy Adams that NBC has a stranglehold on these Olympics, and I feel that in a world where we have a 24-hour news cycle, cable television cycle, what have you, why can't the Olympics be broadcast live from wherever they're being played in the world so that we can see these events in real time? I mean, I've gotten up for many an event at 4:00 in the morning in order to watch news as it happens, and I think that we -- the viewing public deserves to be able to see these events without having to wait six hours. And with respect to the...
NNAMDIWell, that's an interesting debate, Cassandra, because I guess why NBC is showing them in prime time is because a lot of people want to see them at their convenience. They don't want to get up at four o'clock in the morning in order to watch these events, so NBC has to make a choice between you, the Cassandras of the world, and others who say, I want to see these at my convenience.
HARLOWThese days, though, if you have a good cable package, they almost force you to have a digital video recorder anyway, right? So, you know, if it's on at 4:00 in the morning, how hard is it to go into the menu and say, OK, record that and I will watch it later? Granted, you know, there are 18 channels of NBC Olympic coverage across all their networks, so you'd fill that up pretty fast, but it would technically be possible.
DRUINBut there's -- you know, there's no reason why they couldn't actually have it live at an hour and then also have it in prime time. So, I mean, if it's at three o'clock in the morning, Eastern Time, why not do it three o'clock in the morning? What else are they showing at 3:00 in the morning anyway? I mean, really.
NNAMDICassandra, thank you very much for your call. What do you think should be done in the future, Cassandra?
CASSANDRAWell, I think, for one thing that we should welcome the presence of Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media who are getting the news out to people when it happens. I mean, choice is what it's all about in our free-flowing democracy, and I'm all for letting the young upstarts and social media let the news be known. And then people have another choice. They can either go look at the replay or go online. I just feel that we need to take some of the profit out of the Olympics for NBC and let the people prevail.
NNAMDIStop restricting people's choices, is what Cassandra says. Cassandra, thank you very much for your call. Moving on to another subject, though maybe not quite another subject for a second, Bill Harlow, why should hacking be an Olympic event?
GILROYCan you imagine that one?
NNAMDIIn addition to the story of Mat Honan, you flag two stories of hacker cunning which are simultaneously, on the one hand, impressive and, on the other, very scary. First, tell us how a hacker figured out how to open the door of 4 million hotel rooms.
HARLOWNow, granted, not all at once. That would be really amazing.
DRUINThat would be so cool.
GILROYThat would be a gold medal.
HARLOWSo, yeah, this security researcher believes he -- I believe he works for Mozilla. His name is Cody Brocious. And he bought this board -- anybody can buy them -- and they're really fun for people who are into electronics to develop on. It's called an Arduino, a little programmable board, and you can get, like, USB attachments, all kinds of things. Well, he configured one of those and spent a lot of time researching how a certain brand of key card locks in hotel rooms work, and this one was by a brand called Onity.
HARLOWAnd it has a little port in the bottom that they use to program and set them up, and each hotel has a unique key. He found a way to read the key out of the lock, which means that you can then go to any of these locks and then just feed it right back in, and you have access. And I guess about 4 million of these are out there in the wild, so, boom. He now has a little off-the-shelf parts collection he cobbled together.
HARLOWAnd he can hack into all these locks, and, to make matters worse, there's not an easy way to fix it. You can't just -- like, they're not connected. You can't just send a firmware update. You have to go to each one and physically replace it.
NNAMDIYou can go to his website, how-never-to-pay-for-your-hotel-stay-again.com.
GILROYWhat prison is he currently located at? I mean, this is illegal, isn't it?
DRUINHe's not working for Mozilla still, is he?
HARLOWI believe he is. I mean, he didn't go around, you know, saying, here, here's the tools to do this, but he said -- basically said, here's a security flaw, here is how to do it, and he presented it at -- I think it was at Black Hat, and it was kind of a big deal. And the other one was -- and I'm sorry about the naming.
NNAMDIThe world's most sinister power strip.
HARLOWYeah. It's called the Power Pwn, P-W-N, because we love using the word pwn. We use it for everything. So there's another competition that's Pwn to Own. So the Power Pwn from Pwny Express looks like...
HARLOWExactly. It looks like, you know, one of those, like, late '80s power strips that you toss in the closet in the office, but it works. It's a power strip. But it also has Wi-Fi built in. It has Ethernet built in, USB ports, and you can add a cellular dongle to it, so that, once it sneaks onto a network, you can then access it remotely and compromise systems, you know, very clever. It's a nice way to, like, have a little Trojan horse.
GILROYIt's a variation on a key logger...
GILROY...from years ago.
NNAMDIWell, speaking of hacking, here is Julie in University Park, Md. Julie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JULIEHi. Thanks for taking my call. I just, in hearing Mat's story, I thought, oh, that would be a nightmare to go though, and I was just wondering what would be the solution to stop a hacker from going to AppleCare? Would a verbal password be something that, when you call AppleCare, you'd have to give that to stop these hackers from getting into all your accounts and then either locking them down or wiping them out?
HARLOWWell, it's clear that, you know, there's not much you can do other than, like, you know, be...
NNAMDIExcept know everything there is to know about human psychology.
HARLOWExactly, and be very vocal to Apple about how this is absolutely not OK, and they need to review all the procedure and make sure this doesn't happen. I mean, the last four digits of your credit card, pretty easy to get. I mean, these are things that -- the last four digits are shown on almost every receipt that you ever use a credit card with because they figure, oh, it's only the last four. What could you do with that? So that information's available.
HARLOWI mean, not too hard to find someone's email address. I think that's part of it. Just get Apple to lock it down, and, like, what you're saying, as far as having a verbal password, just some other additional verification.
DRUINWell, we do that, in fact, actually in our University at College Park. We actually have to answer three security questions. Then if you, in quotes "forget your password," or you're locked out for some reason, you have to answer those questions exactly, or else you're not getting in.
HARLOWAnd Apple does that, too, online, but if you call AppleCare, apparently you don't need that. And that's where the issue is.
DRUINOh, see there's the problem.
GILROYHuman beings are the weak link.
HARLOWExactly, always will be.
JULIESo, again, we should voice our concerns to Apple about the situation.
DRUINAbsolutely. Absolutely. Mm hmm.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Julie.
NNAMDIYou, too, can call us at 800-433-8850. If you have comments or questions for our computer guys and gal, you can also send us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the hashtag #TechTuesday, or email to email@example.com. Back to the Olympics for a second, Allison. Before the Olympic opening ceremony, most people never would have associated the games with Tim Berners-Lee, one of the creators of the World Wide Web.
GILROYThe British guy, yeah.
NNAMDIBut the Olympic opening ceremony directed by Oscar winner, Danny Boyle, put him front and center during a very colorful -- some would say bizarre -- opening number. But who else, in your view, are the big winners and losers in terms of tech at the Olympics?
DRUINWell, OK. So the Olympic park's Wi-Fi system? Win. That's a real win. I mean they had 80,000 spectators and volunteers pumping out, you know, photos and tweets and so on. And, you know, and they did have 30 masts, you know, and so on, and it's considered to be one of the best Wi-Fi networks around. But, unfortunately, OK, leave the Olympic park and go and watch the bicycle race -- the bike races...
DRUINWell, you know, you're depending on the phone networks, and it turns out...
HARLOWWere they slammed?
DRUINOh, they were totally slammed, and so slammed that the TV commentators were having a hard time figuring out what was going on there because they didn't have secure data pads to get information, and so they were on the same slammed networks as the -- what to call it -- as all the rest of everybody else sending their look-at-me photos. OK?
DRUINAnd so, you know, that mobile technology, people are not remembering is really mobile. The Olympic -- you know, the Olympic stadium is not the only place you're going to be in. Hello. Also, speaking of mobile, Samsung -- the Samsung Galaxy smartphone, they're trying out mobile payments, OK?
DRUINWell, real life impacts technology, folks.
NNAMDIThis was supposed to be the cash-free Olympics.
DRUINOh, the cash-free Olympics. Well, instead, what happens, Great Britain's football team is playing, OK, and well, the entire Visa system just appeared to collapse, implode at one time, and so, guess what? The only way to pay for anything at that exact moment was cash. So...
DRUINI know it's hard to believe.
HARLOWIs that the green stuff in my wallet?
GILROYDid you say Great Britain football team? You're starting to act like Madonna now with all these British phrases.
DRUINOh, the U.K., the soccer.
DRUINIt's soccer. Anyway, but it's...
NNAMDIWe're going to ban you from this broadcast.
NNAMDIThe original football.
DRUINThe original football. The real football, OK?
GILROYNo. I know what the real football is.
DRUINYeah. So -- but, anyway -- but what is really interesting is that we can plan for all the, you know, the best scenarios in the world when it comes to technology. But, you know, after the Olympics are over, we still got to learn from what were the best lessons and the worst lessons that happened here because, guess what, in your company, or your organization, or your life, you should also plan to know that, you know, networks go down and how you're going to get your information.
NNAMDIOn to Nicole in Reston, Va. Nicole, your turn.
NICOLEHi. I just want to say thanks for taking my call.
NICOLEGoing back to the DVR comment, you know, I do have a DVR, and it's great. It's handy to be able to record things, but because NBC is holding it and broadcasting it in prime time, I'm now having to sift through hours and hours and hours worth of stuff to find, you know, the men's 100. You know, I'm looking at 90 second worth of racing that I had to fast forward 30 minutes to get to.
HARLOWNo. I agree with that too. I noticed the same thing with the guide data on my TiVo, which is, hey, look, there's fencing, and it's thrown in there with a bunch of other events in an eight-hour block.
HARLOWSo you have to record an entire eight-hour block, you know, which conveniently probably has eight hours of coverage interrupted with commercials, so good for NBC, but also good luck for you and your sore thumb from fast forwarding all the time.
NNAMDIAnd indeed, Nicole, I experienced that you can be fast forwarding, and as you pointed out, if the 100 meters only lasts 9.6 seconds, you fast forward and go right past it and not realize.
DRUINYeah. It's about information access, and that's actually something that people don't realize. You can have all the good technology in the world, but if you don't have really good knowledge organization, no one's going to get at your stuff.
HARLOWI'm looking for the first Olympics where everything is online, where we don't have to rely on TV anymore, because having the replays is pretty neat, and it's certainly a lot more convenient than going through an eight-hour block of data that may or may not have the race you were looking for.
NICOLEYeah. It's been really frustrating, and then, also, you only have so much space on your DVR, so you're recording eight-hours block at a time, and so, you know, if you're two days behind, well, then you lost out on what happened two days ago, so...
HARLOWFunny you mentioned that. A previous winter Olympics was when I decided I'm going to crack open my TiVo and put in a bigger hard drive, just for that reason.
NNAMDINicole, there's whole lot you missed. You've missed John Gilroy in the pole vault. Did you see that?
NNAMDIYou missed that completely.
DRUINOh, he was so good.
NNAMDISo did everybody else. Nicole, thank you very much for your call. But one thing you've noticed when you've been watching the games, Allison, is that you've been geeked by some of the technology that is kind of hiding in plain sight at the Olympics, sensors that drill down times to the hundredths of a second or camera banks that allow 3D imaging. What's getting you most geeked, if you will, at these games?
DRUINMost geeked. Most geeked. Well, you know, I started wondering, you know, how are they, you know, look…
NNAMDILike, touch that wall.
DRUINHow do they know 1/100th of a second that man won the gold medal?
NNAMDIHow did they know he touched the wall at 1/100th of a second?
DRUINExactly. Well it turns out that they have sensors on these walls that -- and now you have to have a certain amount of pressure on that sensor, OK, some 6.6 pounds or something.
GILROYI think Michael Phelps found out the hard way.
DRUINOh, yeah. Yeah. But so it's really -- it's fascinating. So sensors, smart video, so we're talking about 3D surround. So what we've got is you've got a bank of video cameras now surrounding a particular area, and you've got computer control of those cameras. And so it feels like, oh, my goodness, I can see everything at all angles. And now it depends on the producers. The producers of that video still have to be smart and still have to be artistic.
DRUINAnd so I've seen really bad use of some of these high tech techniques, and you just want to throttle them. You say, how much more technology can I give you, and you still mess it up? But now the interesting thing to me…
HARLOWSounds like a mom, doesn't it?
DRUINI know. It's so true. It's so true. The interesting thing to me are the runners, the races. And there's two laser beams, guys. I was wondering about this, OK.
NNAMDIThere's more than one.
DRUINYou know, there's more than one. Why? Because if I stick my hand out faster than Bill, is my body -- did my body get there sooner than his body? And so you have to have two lasers to be able to tell or two -- what they call photoelectronic cells, OK, that basically are these two lines of lasers that can tell when your body truly has gone across the finish line. So you don't see those tapes anymore, you know, of that they are, you know, running around with the winning tape.
GILROYWell, I love when they show that photo when they've already composited and masked out the background. You can immediately see where the runner's torso is in relation to other the runner, and, boom, you know that that person won by, like, 1/1000th of a second or whatever it was.
NNAMDIGeek heaven, ladies and gentlemen.
DRUINI love it. It's so wonderful.
NNAMDIIt's the Computer Guys & Gal. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll take your call at 800-433-8850 with your questions or comments. Send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to our website, kojoshow.org. Ask a question or make a comment there or send us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the #TechTuesday. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's the Computer Guys & Gal. Allison Druin is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council & Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Bill Harlow is a Hardware and Software Technician from Macs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. And John Gilroy is Director of Business Development at Armature Corp. We've got a bunch of emails about the Olympics. I'll try to read a few of them.
NNAMDIJohn says, "I work late every day, so I never get to watch anything live. I also don't avoid seeing the results before watching the event later. Even if I know who won, it's still great to watch. I was fairly certain Batman would defeat the villain, but I still went to see the new movie."
HARLOWAround 67 percent know the answer already.
HARLOWThat's a good observation.
NNAMDIGeorge's email, "I really don't care about spoiler alerts, but it seems like they get people about half a second to hit the mute button. Do they expect people to be waiting, watching with remote on hand?"
NNAMDIGabe tweets, "This carping is disingenuous. Tech allows us to watch everything live, nbcolympics.com." Michael emails, "NBC shows the Olympics live on iPhone, iPad, laptop. Why not show it live on TV, too?" And a comment on our website from Chad, "Getting the Reuters app has at least given me great pictures in real time, and I get notices on qualification rounds, as well as medal results. My gripe is that even if you get MSNBC, NBC, Bravo, you still can't see full coverage of track and field, but you can see basketball on two channels, soccer on two channels and boxing.
NNAMDI"But if you want to see shot put, triple jump or someone who is not a medal winner outside of the USA team, you're out of luck, no matter how much you pay for TV service." Those are just a bunch of the comments we've been getting on this issue. Turning to another for a second, Bill Harlow, and I always say for a second when I really mean for a much longer period of time.
NNAMDIOnline gaming, this is a rapidly evolving area with millions of highly passionate fans. But over the last few months, a number of news stories have brought attention to an ongoing problem within gaming, a culture that strikes many as overtly sexist and misogynistic. Apparently, this is prompting some interesting soul searching within the gaming industry. What are we talking about here?
HARLOWWell, we're -- I don't know who in the audience actually has played online games with the so-called general population, but, yeah, it can be a little hair-raising in there because, you know, the language gets very salty. And, you know, with competition, there's, you know, there's trash talk, and then there's just, you know, being a bigot. And a lot of that seems to be going on in online gaming.
HARLOWAnd with voice communication being pretty much the norm now -- and it's also surprising hearing how young some of these gamers are, saying some of these things. So, you know, just to back up for a second, I think part of it it that a lot of people who grew up playing games, they're adults. They're mature "adults" now, but they...
NNAMDIBut they bring that teenage boy persona back with them into the games.
HARLOWIn some cases, but in lots of cases, they've got kids now, and they realize, hey, you know this sort of behavior isn't OK. And it's one of those things, too, that when -- it's not just when you go out and buy a game for your kid for his Xbox that you look at the rating on the box as far as like, is this, you know, is this OK for this age bracket? But also, do I let my son or daughter play online with other people? That's another thing that I think needs to be discussed as well.
GILROYOne of the weaknesses of a virtual world is you don't get punched in the nose if you say the wrong thing.
HARLOWExactly. And then -- and it's also, you know, if you monitor your child online, you see them behaving this way, you'd want to pull them aside and say, that's not how we talk to other people. There are human beings on the other side of that headset, and you have no idea how old they are or what their background is.
HARLOWAnd some of this came about because of the fighting game community, which is, in many cases -- they have tournaments where it's all face to face, you and another player side by side with a joystick. And, you know, gaming is male-dominated, but there was one prominent female player, Miranda Pakozdi -- I apologize if I got that name wrong...
NNAMDISexual harassment and competitive gaming.
HARLOWYeah, by her coach, I believe, you know, just trying to, like, get a rise out of her. And this was an event that was a publicity stunt, too, so it was broadcast and streamed online. And it was this kind of -- if anybody saw this, it was pretty painful to see her kind of just shut down, like, in those video feeds. So it caused a lot of people to think about it and say, wait a minute, is this how we want this hobby that we've grown up with to be represented? This needs to mature with, you know, with we as people as we grow up.
NNAMDIIndeed. The parents at the table are nodding in agreement, John Gilroy, Allison Druin and yours truly.
NNAMDIWe move back to the telephones. Here now is Mary in Vienna, Va. Mary, you're on the air wanting to talk about, of course, kids. Go ahead, please.
MARYHi. Good afternoon. I have two kids, 16 and 20. They each have iPhones. One iPhone is nine months old. One iPhone was 11 months old. And in the past two weeks, we've had the problem where both phones broke. And the first time we went into the Verizon store, my son was with me, and the man said to us, don't tell me that this phone just broke. You have to tell me it fell because your warranty does not cover internal hardware damage.
MARYFortunately, my son had multiple cracks, so we could say that it fell. And then, even though we had this warranty, we had to pay $169 to get a refurbished iPhone which is working OK. And now my daughter has the same problem with no cracks on her phone. And, of course, I'm saying to myself, well, do I talk to -- do I teach my kids how to lie, whatever? We're going to get...
NNAMDIDo I take a hammer to this phone?
MARYSo we're going to deal with that this afternoon. But I'm wondering if you have heard of this issue and if you have any advice.
HARLOWWell, I mean, if the device isn't physically damaged in any obvious way, I mean, the warranty from Apple is one year, and you can, I think, extend it to two years if you buy AppleCare directly from Apple. And that covers, you know, hardware failure that isn't brought on by an instrument of abuse or accidental damage. So -- and that wouldn't cost you a penny to get that covered as long as it was determined it wasn't abused.
MARYWell, actually -- but that's not what happened because -- and I didn't mean to interrupt you.
MARYBut, first of all, we got the phone at a Verizon store.
MARYWe -- so how do you get AppleCare if you buy the phone at a Verizon store?
HARLOWWell, you can still go to Apple.
DRUINYou can go to an Apple Store.
HARLOWYou can go to any Apple Store. You can call the AppleCare number to deal with them directly to cover a defect in the product. What it sounds like happened with you guys is there might have been additional coverage from Verizon themselves to cover damage that was not brought on by any sort of actual defect but actual, you know, damage from dropping it or spilling stuff on it. And in those cases, there's usually a deductible, but it's still far cheaper than buying a new phone.
DRUINYeah, don't go to the Verizon store. Go to the Apple Store.
MARYGreat. So I'll just go to the Apple Store with the phone and then...
MARYOh. And then I could still -- we don't have the receipt or anything. What do we -- what do -- how can we prove?
HARLOWThey can usually tell from a serial number when it was purchased, and if you registered, especially, then it's a lot easier.
DRUINYeah. They'll be able to figure it out.
MARYOK. Well, listen, thank you so much.
NNAMDIYou're welcome. Thank you very much for your call. You, too, can call us at 800-433-8850 because the Computer Guys & Gal know all.
GILROYThank you for observing that.
NNAMDIHere is -- says the one who knows nothing.
NNAMDIHere is Nick in Baltimore, Md. Nick, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NICKHi. I'm calling about the landing on Mars by NASA. And a few minutes after they landed, they posted the video on YouTube. And I wonder if you guys had heard about the copyright takedown of that by another company saying, this is our video and that we can't take it down. And there was this whole big to-do about YouTube taking down NASA's videos that was being copyrighted by another company.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, have you heard about that?
GILROYI haven't read anything about that. I've been following that story from a different perspective about robot control...
GILROY...but I didn't hear that at all. Did you hear it, Bill?
HARLOWNo. I mean, I saw some of the footage and thought it was really cool. But as far as a takedown -- I mean, the way YouTube works, I think, is if they receive a complaint, they act on it. So it could be one of those cases where it was taken down. It'll be down for a while, and then they'll sort if out after the fact and maybe it'll go back up. But, unfortunately, I have not heard the details.
DRUINYeah. They -- you know, there's probably -- the company probably -- they -- YouTube is trying to be proactive with this kind of stuff...
DRUIN...because they don't want lawsuits. They don't want...
HARLOWBetter safe than sorry.
DRUINYeah. And so, unfortunately, there's more takedowns than should happen. But, again, it's arbitration, and then it gets -- and then usually it'll go back up.
NNAMDINick, keep listening. We're looking this up even as we speak, so we might have some information on it before the end of the broadcast. John Gilroy, I'm interested in the aspects of the landing that you were looking at.
GILROYWell, you know, everyone talks about robots and robot control and everything else, but what's fascinating about this whole Mars endeavor and electronics and the computer technology behind it is that there's a point in time when those NASA engineers, they had to put their feet up on the console and get out a Marlboro and smoke and watch and see what happened because it was controlled remotely. It was so far away, even if they wanted to control something -- so the machine took control of that landing.
JOHNAnd so the software took it -- and, by the way, it was -- I think it was open-source software that was crowd-sourced or something. And so human beings are at the point now where they're giving control to the machines. I think that's an interesting topic for the future shows. But I just -- I thought that was a fascinating shift. I don't think the -- I think, 100 years, they'll look back at the Mars mission here, and they'll say it was nice. But look what happened was this was the first point where humans gave control to the machines.
NNAMDIIt's a subject for a future edition of Tech Tuesday. Nick, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Kirk in Kensington, Md. Kirk, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KIRKHi, Kojo. Thanks for having me on. I wanted to point out that because the margins of victory in swimming are so tight, they have special technology that sends a signal to each of the starting blocks slightly delayed so that when they come out of the speaker on the block (unintelligible) it's all at the exact same millisecond.
HARLOWThat's really cool.
GILROYIt's great to know.
DRUINThat's very cool. I was wondering that, though, because it's so echoey in those venues in such. So, wow, that's really amazing, very cool.
NNAMDIOK. Thank you very much for telling us about that, Kirk.
NNAMDIAnd what we were discussing early in terms of the NASA landing, according to Mashable, Scripps Local News Service blocked the historic NASA video on spurious grounds for more than an hour. The company has a history of blocking NASA content via YouTube Content ID system, which allows copyright holders to automatically block content under the infamous 1999 law, the DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
DRUINOh, there you go.
NNAMDIBut they have since apparently apologized for doing that.
DRUINI knew it. No, there you go.
NNAMDISo that's what that's about.
HARLOWBut just for an hour.
NNAMDIOn to online gaming again. Here is Nasser in Dulles, Va. Nasser, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NASSERHey, Kojo. This is -- it's a first time call. I've been listening for a long time.
NASSEREveryday I come to work, I put you guys on. It's like, you know, I look forward to it every day. First time calling. But, I mean, back to online gaming and how people act, I mean, you know, a lot of people don't realize that gaming in general is a very, very young medium, you know, like film has been out here since like the 1930s, maybe even earlier if I remember. I mean, gaming really started hitting the main -- the mainstream here, like -- I suppose it's like not too long ago in the 2000s.
NASSERBut, I mean, you know, you started hearing more about these games. So, I mean, you know, once the games start to mature a little bit, you'll start to understand that, you know, there's -- it's more to just being, like, you know, some crazy guy online. And, you know, not only that, I've been gaming since all my life, so, I mean, you know, I'm not going to say I'm innocent of not saying some crazy things. But, I mean, that doesn't reflect me as being a bad person just because, you know, I'd -- like you guys said before...
NNAMDIBut are you saying that if gaming was around longer and there was an acceptable protocol that everybody understood, even you might not have said some of the more immature things that you've said?
NASSERWell, I mean, the way it's got to be done, it's got to be presented a little bit better to people, you know. I mean, it's still seen as a toy to a lot of people. So, I mean, once it start -- accepted -- like, you know, just recently it was accepted as an art form. So, I mean, hopefully, it will be seen more as an art form and how people will react to that. Like, you know, it's got to mature and take time.
NNAMDILet's hear what a gamer has to say about that. Bill Harlow.
HARLOWWell, I think I agree as far as the -- it's still being sort of a wild frontier in some ways, but at the same time I think we're sort to acknowledge that, you know, this sort of behavior online exists. There are tools that they add, like on Xbox Live, for example, where you can report another gamer who maybe is acting inappropriately. But the other thing, too, is, like, while that's going on in the game, it's, you know, important to realize, hey, this isn't OK.
HARLOWAnd if there's someone, you know, in your group who's acting that way, you know, kick them out. You have that capability as well. So I think there's going to be -- because it's not totally formalized yet, there needs to be some self-policing and some awareness from the gamers who are currently active.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Nasser. We are going to appoint John Gilroy and put him in charge of gaming.
HARLOWOh, that'll be good.
HARLOWI would pay money to see that.
GILROYWell, thank you. The game czar. I'll be the game czar.
DRUINThat scares me...
NNAMDIBefore we leave, before we run out of time completely, Allison Druin, one of things that fascinated me, one of your observations has to do with simulated with Olympic training, virtual cycling. Australian cyclists can be training on London cycling course even though it's thousands of miles of away.
DRUINYeah, Project Deja Vu. Look it up on the Internet. It's mile for mile, hill for hill. It's recreating the Olympic cycling course. They had cars driving the wrong way down one-way streets to get this footage. It was so cool. But, yeah, if you go cycle this thing digitally enough times, they actually believe that you're going to actually do better on the physical course itself. So it's a really, really wonderful new ways of Olympic training.
HARLOWAnd this happens in auto racing, too. I mean, a lot of people play virtually because you get to know the track so well, know where the braking points are, where the turns are, how to handle it. You don't get the Gs and the physical exertion obviously, but very important. It's part of the training.
NNAMDIBill Harlow, he is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. Bill, thank you very much.
NNAMDIAllison Druin is professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Allison, good to see you, always a pleasure.
DRUINOh, a pleasure.
NNAMDIAnd John Gilroy is director of business development at the Armature Corp. Every time he hears Allison say, so cool, he bangs his head against the table.
GILROYI am also a game czar.
DRUINSo cool, so cool, so cool.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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