A 16-car derailment in Northeast D.C. reignites a debate over freight routes in well-populated areas.
The candidates have made their pitches, now the people will decide: Who will win the battle for tablet computer supremacy? Will Windows 8 prove to be a revelation or a train wreck? The Computer Guys and Gal discuss the latest developments in consumer tech. Plus, after Superstorm Sandy plunges websites and virtual marketplaces into darkness, we explore how news and Tweets echoed around the Web.
- 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
Forgot where you vote? Looking for election news? Public opinion and reactions? Googles’s got election coverage at this site.
A new University of Maryland study highlights the politics of photos on Pinterest
Also from the “Land of Tweets:” The Prezo-Meter, which compares the tone of your Tweets to the candidates’ messages.
From a Kojo listener: “I got a message from FourSquare telling me I was ousted as Mayor of some place I haven’t been a few years ago when I was playing with it. This got me to the idea of having campaign volunteers go around to polling places in the weeks leading up to an election, becoming “Mayor” of the location and putting some campaign slogan or something on their page so anyone who checks in while waiting in the LONG lines will see it. I figure this should violate the laws about how close to the polling place candidates can have signs posted but the law might not cover it.”
I did check out Foursquare and, no shock, they can connect to the IVoted app.
Find your polling place, get information about what will be on your ballot and see people voting in real-time
Apple’s new iMacs and Mac mini feature Fusion Drive
Ethiopian kids take initiative and “hack” tablet PC’s
Google adds AMBER alerts to Maps and Search as part of their Public Alerts platform
Photographer Dean Holland leaves his DSLR at home and tries taking high quality photos during his trip to Vietnam
Kojo can now drive his expensive Mini with an expensive Mini in the backseat
McDonald’s: billions and billions of mobile phones
Hire hackers? No way … yes way
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 in the house. Yes, indeed, that rousing patriotic sound can mean only one thing. They are here. The Computer Guys & Gal here to talk about the one thing that is on every one's mind today: making a decision. Should I buy an iPad Mini or a Microsoft Surface?
MR. JOHN GILROYWhat do the polls show?
NNAMDIWait. What? Is something else going on today? Oh. Yes. The election. Well, The Computer Guys & Gal actually do have some high-tech recommendations for watching election returns and some interesting insights about how our politics track with our social media diet, but what they really know is tech. So this hour, we're exploring how Superstorm Sandy affected websites and web-based businesses and whether Windows 8 is a game changer or a muddled mishmash.
NNAMDIAllison Druin joins us in studio. She is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Welcome, Allison.
NNAMDIThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIHave you voted yet?
MS. ALLISON DRUINAbsolutely. And I have my sticker to prove it.
NNAMDIWell, I don't know. Some people managed to purloin those stickers without actually...
GILROYOh. We know her trick.
DRUINThat would be so terrible. Oh, that's horrible.
GILROYWe know her trick. She's too young to vote, I imagine.
MR. BILL HARLOWImposter.
DRUINOh, yeah, right. I wish.
NNAMDIThat's a different kind of vote -- fraud entirely. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid Atlantic Consulting, Incorp. He's always early and on time, so I don't even have to ask if you've voted already today.
HARLOWI voted for this theme song to be the new American anthem, actually.
GILROYThat's what we voted for.
NNAMDIHe was probably lined up at 5 o'clock this morning. Is this a new iPad store opening here? And John Gilroy is director of business development at ARMATURE Corporation, who I don't think is permitted to vote.
GILROYI'm not. I stole the sticker from Bill, OK?
DRUINThey seem to be (unintelligible).
GILROYThat's the truth.
NNAMDIAnd that's the reason he's not permitted to vote, that stealing habit.
GILROYI get accused of stealing it.
NNAMDITogether, they are The Computer Guys & Gal, and we'd like to know, will you be using online news sources and social media platforms to follow the election results tonight? Call us, 800-433-8850. WAMU has built its own online tools for election 2012. If you still have not voted, you can log on to wamu.org/elections and check out our online voter guide, just post your address, and it will give you a breakdown of all the races on your ballot and allow you to compare where the candidates stand.
NNAMDIWe've also built a custom map of all tweets that come in using the #wamuvote. You can check it out at wamu.org/votermap. Allison, how will you be following the election tonight?
DRUINOh, I actually don't watch TV anymore for any -- I didn't even watch TV for the debates. I follow...
GILROYShe's under 18. It's so true.
DRUINI follow things on Twitter. I love to go up on Google, on the politics at -- election coverage. I -- there is just so much. There's even the Prez-o-meter. I mean, I'm telling you there's so much stuff out there. It's awesome. So I tend to take it in through social media because -- I don't know. I feel like I get more out of that.
NNAMDIFor those people who don't know, what is the Prez-o-meter? Call me those people.
DRUINOh. Actually, I'd just like the name of it, but, anyway, it's actually a website that was launched by SwiftKey. You can submit your Twitter handle to them, and they're going to compare your tweets and sort of who you follow. And then they're going to suggest if you talk more like Mitt Romney at 57 percent of the time or if you talk more like Obama at 24 percent of the time and so on. So it's a little bit of...
GILROYIt's a scientific tool, isn't it?
DRUINYeah. It's a little bit of a tool to play with.
DRUINYeah. Actually, the thing I like in terms of the tweets has been to see the -- there's -- actually up on Twitter, they've been analyzing people's reactions to the candidates' tweets. And what's really been interesting is to see how, you know, a tweet about, you know, from Obama that says no, you know, no family should, you know, have -- what was it? No family should have to step aside from a college acceptance letter because they don't have one or -- and Mitt Romney talking about on this somber day, America is united under -- and so on and so forth, OK?
DRUINWell, each one of these are analyzed to see how many people retweeted, how many people responded to it, how many people actually took pieces of it or referred to it and so on, and then it shows actually those what they call the engagement factor. And right now, it's not a shock, Obama's tweets are actually more engaged with their -- his followers than Romney at the moment. But it actually has been switching back and forth, which is really fascinating.
NNAMDIWhat of the results show ultimately today that 50 percent of the electorate showed up at the polls, yet 67 percent retweeted Obama's and Romney's tweets?
DRUINI know. I know.
NNAMDIMore people are engaged in social media than are actually showing up...
NNAMDI...at the polls.
GILROYTweet box everywhere.
DRUINIt's amazing. Well, like, and then there's Lady Gaga who tells on her Facebook page, OK, to 53 million friends, OK? She says go out and vote, all right? Are 53 million people going to vote?
NNAMDII'm not sure at all.
HARLOWCan they vote via Twitter because then it will be all over that.
DRUINYeah. I don't know. So...
NNAMDI800-433-8850. The old telephone is what you can call us to tell us how you'll be using online news sources and social media platforms to follow the elections tonight. Sadat (sp?) in Washington, D.C., has what I think some people may find to be a predictable response. Sadat, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SADATHi. I just wanted to let you guys know that I was going to go watch the election on "Colbert" and Jon Stewart on "Comedy Central" because it's not been done before, and those guys are a lot, you know, more interesting than the 24-hour news cycle, anyway. So...
NNAMDIWell, you know that "The Daily Show" and "Colbert" will be starting their broadcasts live tonight at the usual time at 11...
NNAMDI...p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Long before that, at 7 p.m., you can tune in right here to WAMU 88.5....
GILROY(unintelligible). All we knew that was coming.
NNAMDIWe'll be doing it...
NNAMDI...and yours truly gets to host it. So, Sadat, before you check out "Colbert" and Jon Stewart, you can check us out, but thank you very much. I knew somebody would say it because so many young people get their primary source of news from those. While we're -- were on the topic of maps and the map that we built here at WAMU, Bill, you have flagged and Allison too have flagged interesting interactive maps created by Google. I'll start with you, Allison.
DRUINOK. Basically, Google has a number of interactive maps on politics and election coverage, but the funny thing is, is that some of these maps that I actually found really interesting were having to do with the storm that was just last week because those interactive maps actually were amazing because they actually could let you know where in real time because people were putting up information as fast as they could, you know, of essentially places where people are stopped, places where you can't go, flooding and so on.
DRUINSo -- and yet -- and for the politics, OK, also on Google, they have a lot of different kinds of things. You can see how much people spent on the election. You can see the kinds of, again, where people voting and so on. So, you know, if you're one of these research geeks, like I am, there is so much to piece together from these maps.
NNAMDIBill, you're interested in something that was completely different, new frontiers in data visualization.
HARLOWYes. So it basically is revolving around the various content echo systems for, you know, the big players -- Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft. And what I thought was nice about this was -- and by the way, this is not scientific. They were basing it on strictly what countries have a presence from these companies, not necessarily, you know, how engaged the population is and, you know, accessing, downloading and buying this content.
HARLOWBut, you know, in the U.S., we think of online music as Apple. I mean, iTunes is the juggernaut, but you look on the world stage and there are huge gaps. I mean, the vast majority of people around the world do not have access to iTunes content. So there are still, you know, other players, maybe the traditionally good old walking down to the store and picking up something with your hands, you know, a CD. You know, remember those things?
HARLOWHistory books, whatever. And actually, books are interesting too because Amazon's presence in e-book retailing much more successful. They are almost everywhere, really, really, really good penetration in various markets. And the other thing that I find nice too is because apps aren't really that controlled yet, I mean, yeah, we've got the walled gardens, like Google Play and, of course, Apple.store.
HARLOWBut pretty easy for just about anybody to go in there and buy an app. They're not controlled by, you know, other companies who limit where you can and can't buy and use this stuff.
GILROYYou know, there's a billion people on Facebook. What people don't realize is 60 percent are outside the United States.
GILROYSo I think people aren't even considering that as a valid marketplace.
NNAMDIThe Amazon access aspect of it is what really intrigued me at that point because I thought it would be more music, but no, books apparently.
HARLOWIt makes sense.
DRUINIt's all about books, guys.
HARLOWYeah. I mean, good thing about books is there aren't these general regional controls over that kind of content, right? So it's much more accessible.
DRUINWell, because the other thing too is Kindle did it right a long time ago. They gave away their app, their application so that you could use it on all different forms of technology.
HARLOWThey gave away cellular data too to buy the books so...
DRUINThat's right. That's right.
HARLOW...you don't even need a computer. Anybody with a Kindle could access the content.
DRUINNo. It's -- the tool drove the books.
NNAMDI...there's a different campaign being waged even as we speak, pitting two well-financed contenders against each other and a battle being waged both in...
HARLOWBill versus John.
NNAMDI...the news and overpaid advertising. We're talking, of course, about the battle for supremacy in the tablet computer space. This holiday season, consumers will choose between the iPad and the new iPad Mini, an array of Android devices and the new Microsoft Surface. How will they vote with their wallets, Bill?
HARLOWI have no idea how they're going to vote. I mean, the safe answer is the iPad is going to sell well, same with the mini, and it's one of those things was announced as kind of like, OK, but having handled one, I get it. I mean, the form factor is just about perfect. The only knock against it in my opinion is that I wish it was a bit cheaper, and I wish it was a retina screen. I'm so spoiled by the retina iPad that like the mini form factor with that would be perfect but...
GILROYYou're a card-carrying retina snub. Is that what you're saying?
HARLOWI -- exactly. I have the card right here. I'll show it to you. It's beautiful, and actually, you can't see the pixels on the card. It's so nice.
DRUINSo are you actually going to buy one of these things?
HARLOWNot until it's retina. I mean, I think it's cool.
NNAMDINo. Not until it's retina because he's a snub.
DRUINHe's really a snub, OK.
HARLOWAnd, you know, Apple, they're smart. They know -- OK. We'll get some people now, and then once they're used to their non-retina ones, we'll release the retina one, which will be good for me, not so great for people who bought the non-retina one. Now so people are buying them. I think, you know, some people are saying this could be the real iPad because the form factor is so right. And this is what Amazon figured out a long time ago as far as form factor goes with the Kindle. I mean, that size and weight was just about perfect. Now, the Surface is neat too, but to me, it's one of those things where like generally for the average person why would you buy this versus, say, an iPad. I don't have an answer for that.
GILROYI don't know much about the technology, but Apple has got this perfect marketing pitch where, well, Allison has got to decide which iPad she's going to get, not whether she's going to get...
GILROYIt's like you're in a Ford dealer. Which Ford do you want? That's exactly what they want, and they have all these models. One is for 329. One is for 529, and one is for 999.
HARLOWWell, Tim Cook even said they're not concerned about cannibalizing sales from themselves.
DRUINYeah. That's true.
GILROYSo which apps -- Kojo, I almost said which Apple you're going to buy this Christmas.
NNAMDIWell, I forgot John Gilroy's pertinent comment on the iPad Mini. Care to repeat it, John?
GILROYWhat comment was that? Was it very profound?
NNAMDIAbout somebody who could drive his expensive...
GILROYOh, yes. That's what I said. Oh, yes. Now, Kojo Nnamdi can drive his expensive mini with an expensive mini in the backseat.
HARLOWIn the dashboard.
GILROYOh. Excuse me. In the dashboard.
HARLOWNot in the dashboard.
NNAMDIGem, you're on the air. Please, go ahead.
DRUINPlease help us here. Please.
NNAMDIGem, your turn.
GEMOh, hi, guys. I have a question about just as you were talking about. In between the barrage of campaign ads, I saw a commercial for this yoga computer that's a laptop, and it spins around, and it's also a tablet. And I was wondering it looks so unbelievably awesome, but I'm kind of a Mac person.
GEMAnd I was wondering, do you think this is the future of a laptop and the tablet? Because tablets are great, but they're not great if you want to write a lot. And that seems so perfect. Do you think Mac would ever build this type because...
NNAMDIYou've had your first experience with the Surface, right?
GEMYeah. The Mac model seems to be making you buy as many products as possible. So I'm wondering, do you think they would ever go that route, and I should just switch over? Because this yoga thing looks totally a no-brainer, a laptop and a tablet in one.
HARLOWWell, they made some of those in the past and are always bulky. And I think -- I haven't seen the one you're talking about. I've seen the one from Dell, which looks pretty neat too. And the nice thing is the tablets have gotten so compact now that you're not, you know, paying a weight penalty. But, I guess, when I see some of the nice keyboards that you can get for the iPad and you can buy -- with the Surface when you buy that, you can pay another 130 bucks or so to get a full keyboard or a touch covered keyboard.
HARLOWAnd, I guess, the way I look at it is if there are good keyboards available out there, I'd rather have it easily detachable. I don't wanna carry that full-time necessarily.
DRUINActually, let me jump in say that I actually had a whole lab of those kinds of -- I think it was a Toshiba brand back. It was almost...
HARLOWI remember those. Those are really cool.
DRUINYeah, about seven years ago and they were so amazing. We used them so much, except they broke a lot, OK?
DRUINAnd so you need to be careful to understand where is the pressure point on this thing and can and is there, you know, have they figured out how not to make these things so breakable because I actually tend to agree with Bill. If you can just detach the keyboard and then carry around something lighter and then add the keyboard when you need it, it may be a safer bet because, I tell you, I was fixing those things all the time.
NNAMDIAnd, John, this email we got from Ed, I suspect, is for you. Ed says, "Now that desktop computers are good for a number of years, it seems Apple, Samsung and other hardware makers now need us to buy their gadgets every year or two. My iPad 1 is less than three years old and is considered a doorstop." Well, not mine yet, anyway. "How long before consumers get upgrade fatigue or a company starts making phones and tablets with a longer, useful lifespan?"
GILROYI think it's -- maybe with this new product that's -- we displayed. It's just that how many times you wanna, you know, we talked about last month in here, the Pavlovian-response. The bell rings, you buy an Apple product. The bell rings, an Apple product. At one point in time, how much money can you spent at all these?
GILROYI mean, it's just -- it's like, if you really, you know, if you really watch your pennies and carefully and shop and buy a notebook computer and spend $800 and just randomly $500 for this, $600 for that, $999 for immediate, it just seems crazy. I think (unintelligible)
NNAMDII still have my iPad 1, and it's 2 1/2 years old, and it's a doorstop after 2 1/2 years.
GILROYStock went down on Apple when they released this.
DRUINI know. It's, you know, what's interesting is that for as long as I've been doing research on technology, it -- the magic number is three. Three years...
DRUIN...and guess what, it's prehistoric. You've got to upgrade. Either you've got -- because the software isn't upgradable or...
GILROYNot with phones, though. It's three months with phones.
DRUINYeah. All right. That's the point. But, anyway, but it's -- but definitely with the laptops and the iPads and so on, so, yeah, it's three years, folks.
HARLOWYou can't win though. I mean, how many times have you seen various technology pundits talk about, you know, Apple isn't releasing another, you know, iPhone until a year later? Everybody's eating their lunch. You got to release one sooner. So, you know, this year, what, six, eight months apart, we've got an iPad Retina and an iPad 4th generation Retina, which is twice as fast. So, I mean, yeah, we want technology to advance, but conveniently, we want it to, you know, advance on our schedule so we can feel good about the money we spent.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. What do you think about planned obsolescence? How do you deal with it? 800-433-8850. It's the Computer Guys & Gal. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDI...for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corporation, and 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. John, Microsoft actually unveiled two major products for the holiday season.
NNAMDIThe more significant is probably Windows 8, its new operating system, which is trying to bridge mobile with traditional computing. The early reviews are in. What are they?
GILROYThat's what they are. I mean, I used all four of my brain cells to try to understand this. And I got a little chart, I got a spreadsheet and said, OK, Windows 8, desktop, Windows 8 regular, then Windows RT. It's cheaper than Windows 8 Pro, which is there from Surface...
HARLOWWhy do they do that?
GILROY...which is -- I'm -- I am so confused, and my company's a Microsoft partner, and I want to understand this. I want to embrace this. I just -- I'm reading all this subtle differences. And used to be it's $119, now, 39.99. And I'm thinking -- and then I read press releases from Ballmer and he's saying, our future is gonna be the Xbox. Maybe they're trying to confuse all their -- the folks.
GILROYI think the bottom line is this, I think they missed the boat and they're trying to catch up to the boat, and it's a mishmash of everything else. The only strength I see in the Windows 8 is for mobile devices. The people in the intelligence community around here tell me it's very, very strong for security.
HARLOWYeah. I mean, technologically, it looks like it's pretty sleek. But as far as the UI goes, I don't know why they think they can somehow force a touch-automized interface for your start screen into a desktop operating system.
GILROYYeah. It's a good product and good secure characteristics. But it's so -- their marketing is just pretty strong, but it's just -- it's this muddled picture of the...
NNAMDIWhat's the idea behind combining...
DRUINBut here's the problem, in fact, actually, that's -- the real problem is that the marketing reflects the user interface, which is that what they're doing is they're saying, ah, let's take the best pieces of touch and of desktop, and then let's try and merge it together. But they really haven't merged it together and it confused users.
GILROYBut they used the same word to describe it.
HARLOWRight. They've glued it, add it together and you can see the seams.
DRUINWell said, Bill.
NNAMDIWell, two months ago, Apple found itself in a somewhat unfamiliar position, Bill, when it's new mobile operating system and specifically, its new mapping app was widely panned this month. The company announced a major shakeup in its senior ranks. What's going on?
HARLOWSo the big news here is Scott Forstall, who basically is iOS, I mean...
GILROYHe is the big dog.
HARLOWYeah. I mean, as long as iOS has existed, he's been running the show, and it's been widely successful. And there's a lot of speculation here. I don't know personally what the real story is, but it seems to be that he was shown the door, and it may have been over a number of things. Supposedly, he wouldn't publicly apologize for the Maps fiasco. Apparently, he -- there was some sort of power grab going on or it rubbed people the wrong way for whatever reason. So he'll be leaving the company next year. He's gonna be an advisor.
HARLOWIn the meantime, on top of this, Maps and Siri -- and Siri, by the way, is another product that people kind of like, yeah, this is a little kind of half-baked, you've got to finish this, guys, and even Apple calls it the beta. So Maps and Siri fall under Eddy Cue, who also runs various, you know, App Store, iTunes Store, other things, so all those online services fall under -- on his regime. Jony Ive now handles all of the human interface design as well as industrial design. So basically, anything that involves design is in his domain.
HARLOWAnd Bob Mansfield, who basically was in charge of Mac hardware, now handles like just technology, you know, just, you know, big important, you know, technology, so wireless technologies, semiconductors, things at a higher level. And what Apple is basically saying is that I guess there might have been, you know, there might have been some factions of people working together and they're trying to consolidate that, get people actually talking, working together and making everything work more seamlessly as one unit.
NNAMDISo you're saying all it would have taken to get this guy's job is to be willing to apologize for the Maps, that's it?
HARLOWOh, yeah, that's it. I mean, you don't have to be on a program. You don't need technical knowledge. You don't need experience.
NNAMDIWell, in that case, here's my public apology. I'm really sorry about it.
HARLOWIt's that easy, but there may be an ego involved here, possibly...
HARLOW...somewhere, I don't know, hidden somewhere.
NNAMDIOnto Robert in Washington, D.C. Robert, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ROBERTGood afternoon after -- or good Election Day to everyone.
NNAMDIGood Election Day back to you.
ROBERTTwo-part question, sitting around technology. It seems that there's been explosion -- or doesn't seem to be -- there has been an explosion in personalized media, personalized news, personalized entertainment that some may say is kind of reinforcing our own personal bias because we're not being exposed to other points of view and other angles.
ROBERTI wanted to know, one, your general thoughts, whether you think that is a true statement, and two, if you've come across any apps or applications or platforms that are trying to counteract that and expand the conversation with different viewpoints for individuals.
NNAMDISome have called this the filter bubble. Anybody trying to correct it or reverse it?
DRUINWell, one thing I can say is that all the research does point to exactly what you've said, OK, which is that like people follow like people, and in fact, it is an echo chamber. So the question is how do you get people to notice other people? With LinkedIn recently, they've been doing endorsements, if you will. And so having -- John's waving his hands wildly. Endorse me.
GILROYEndorse me, please, everybody.
DRUINBut that's, you know, one more way of saying this is a, you know, this person know what they're talking about whether or not you believe it or not. And so, you know, so it's a question of how do you get diversity in thought, and that's actually a really big area of research right now in social networks.
HARLOWI agree with that wholeheartedly. I mean, I have to consciously think about that with the media I follow and go out of my way to, you know, find what I consider, you know, intelligent thoughts I disagree with and actually try to look at things from the other angle. And the other thing I wondered too is it's so easy online to just instantly hook up with people who think like you, whereas in real life, you interact with people with all kinds of different ideas.
HARLOWAnd, you know, in some ways, maybe just get back to dealing with, you know, people on an individual level, you know, people we don't necessarily have the ability to pick and choose.
NNAMDIRobert, what do you do? How do you navigate so that you're not locked in a bubble all the time?
ROBERTYou know, that's a great question. I don't have a great answer. I think I'd probably have three or four websites that I try to surf back and forth between and not just stuck on CNN or New York Times or whatever it may be. So I try to bounce around. Same thing when I'm at home watching the news channels. I've got my favorites that I kind cycle through. And when I get agitated enough by one, I switch to the other, and outside of that, just trying to keep a conscious mental eye on that and...
ROBERT...continue to expand who I speak to and points of view that I analyze.
NNAMDIAnd I guess for the time being, that's the best that we can offer to deal with that situation. Thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Sean in Fairfax, Va. Sean, your turn.
SEANYeah. Thank you, Kojo. I had a question about -- I just bought a Samsung S III. And I was sitting in an office for a doctor's appointment, and it has an article in there about using Google Wallet as alternative to purchasing thing. And there was another app also in there, and I actually tried to download it on my AT&T phone, and it happens to be blocked. You can't download it.
SEANThen I found out, doing some research, that AT&T and Verizon are pushing this, I guess it's called Isis app, which I tried to download and it's not compatible with my phone. So I just was curious if your guests have any knowledge of being pushed to a specific app depending on what...
NNAMDIWhat device you're using.
NNAMDIYeah. It happens a lot.
HARLOWI mean, it happens a lot and that's one thing I do like about Apple, you know, outside of technology themselves, and it got so much clout that they get away with not having to play these games, right? I mean, for the longest time, phones were carrier driven. And I guess maybe the answer in some cases is, you know, the best Android devices are the ones that are like the flagship Google-branded device, you know, like, you know, the various Nexus devices.
HARLOWThe ones that you pay big money for them to be unlocked but they're not subsidized by the carriers, which means the carriers aren't forcing their technology down your throat.
GILROYYou know, like $199 Nexus 7, something like that? Cheap and...
HARLOWWell, that's a tablet. But, yeah, that'd be a good example.
NNAMDIShawn, thank you very much for you call. Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across the entire Northeast, and it also took a major toll on Internet companies in the storm's path whether it was their offices or their service. Allison, wasn't the Internet supposed to usher in a new era where old-fashioned things like physical offices and brick and mortar structures didn't really matter?
DRUINYeah. Actually. Now, it seems like every time we have a weather event, if you will, that the physical -- the physicality of who we are...
HARLOWSandy deserves more than air quotes, Allison.
DRUINIt's great. It's great. Anyway, no, I mean, the real problem is, is that people need to tell people about what's going with them physically. And, I mean, we still got, you know, millions of people that are dealing with the storm from last week in the New York-New Jersey area. And it's been fascinating. There was -- on Instagram, at one point, there were 10 photos being put up per second during the storm. And this is about bringing the physicality of the world to the rest of the world.
DRUINOK. And so someone decided that this was so incredible that they combined Instagram with the hurricane and created actually a website called Instacane, #Instacane. And they put up all the #Sandy and hurricane images there. And you can see it's, you know, people used to think those day-in-a-life books were amazing, this is what's happening is that the Internet is now becoming, in some sense, a reflective mirror. But you have to be careful.
GILROYThe tech folks up in Manhattan are called the Silicon Alley. And if they didn't have backups in Chicago and L.A., they deserve to get fried. I mean, of all the people in the world, 9/11 and start up in New York City, and a lot of people up there weren't involving start ups, but DR, Disaster Recovery, I blame them 100 percent if they didn't have that.
HARLOWOh, I was just thinking about a blog post from -- or several blog posts from Squarespace who are hosting in New York. And this is really cool too 'cause you're talking about, you know, photos of the storm. This is photos of their recovery from the storm. So...
HARLOW...you know, just basically a live photographic coverage of their attempts to shuttle in gasoline for the generators, bail out the data center, run the bucket brigade, constant updates about the status, you know, when they expect to lose power, and it was pretty incredible. They went to great lengths to keep that up. Obviously, they didn't have a back up on other areas. Maybe they're not there yet. Sorry, John.
DRUINBut you have to be careful though...
GILROYNot good enough.
DRUIN...with a lot of these things because it's too easy to fake images, OK? There's actually a whole site that actually we can put up on the -- on our website here that actually has nothing but fake images. And so it's actually called istwitterwrong.tumblr.com. And so essentially, it's a Tumblr page about all the images that are wrong, that are actually fake. And these can be real photos that are taken in the past, photos that were photoshopped or both, you know, past photos that were photoshopped. So...
HARLOWYeah. I think the vertex -- we had a recent article called, like, shopped or not, just about that, but before the dawn of Photoshop, before it was so easy to digitally manipulate, you know, stuff that was done by hand or in the lab or even in camera in some case. But that was pretty cool.
NNAMDIOn to Charlie who is in Dulles, Va. Charlie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHARLIEHey, Kojo, love your show. I just wanna call in a fun tech tip that relates to the election for all your listeners who might be kind of like me, really frustrated, fed up with all of the election nastiness that we're faced continually with all these ads and, you know, various outrageous stretches of the truth. Well, I decided I would make an outlet for people so they don't necessarily have to scream and yell and embarrass themselves in front of their coworkers, their neighbors or whoever.
NNAMDIToo late for that. But go ahead.
HARLOWI'll just shout into a pillow. Works for me.
GILROYDid you invite -- did you invent the Facebook?
NNAMDIGo ahead, please, Charlie.
CHARLIEOh. So I made this playing with dynamic HTML, the new HTML stuff so you -- from your phone, from your anywhere browser. You can go them to sendthemtothemoon.com. And it's a bipartisan -- it's non-partisan. You can pick and choose directly from the homepage if you wanna send President Obama to the moon or you wanna send Mitt Romney to the moon. But either way, you'll feel better. They pop up deeply around in space. They make some silly excuses that are, you know, they're not real, they're just silly stuffs.
CHARLIEAnd you have the opportunity to hit the send button that launches them off into space against their product stations. But there's no -- there's nothing mean or nasty about.
NNAMDISendthemtothemoon.com. It should have a visual of Jackie Gleason from "The Honeymooners."
DRUINI was just -- yeah, there you go.
HARLOWThat's a classic, yeah. One more time.
NNAMDITo the moon, Alice.
GILROYOne more time.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Charlie. John, now comes the part of the show where you politely demand that young people get off your lawn.
NNAMDIJohn, are young people spoiled by their parent's willingness to buy them smartphones?
GILROYWell, I wanna do a survey at wamu.org on this. I read a funny, funny statistic that I was shocked. Shocked I say. National -- they did a study, printed New York -- The L.A. Times, 40 percent of teenagers have smartphones. I was stunned at that. I was just shocked to that. This is people in Oklahoma and Texas and New York City and Chevy Chase. I just think that's a -- I think that's a big number. That's an expensive old toy for them to have. I just thought, I guess I'm too old-fashioned to even believe it.
GILROYBut the numbers are there. I think if you just walk around the street, there's high school a block from here. I bet that's 80 of people with smartphones in high around the corner here, huh?
HARLOWWhat percentage of your kids have smartphones?
NNAMDINot that they...
HARLOWZero. What about shoes and clothes that fit?
GILROYNothing. Let them go buy themselves.
DRUINNo, I'm surprised that that number's not higher. I mean...
GILROYAre you kidding? I just...
DRUINI mean, really.
GILROYIt just seems high.
NNAMDIForty percent of kids have smartphones.
DRUINWell, that's because they start with iPod Touches, and then they get used to having that smartphone ability.
GILROYSee, I thought 40 percent of kids drink in the weekends. Forty percent of kids go to sporting events. But 40 percent of kids -- I wish to have some of the listeners call in and say, oh, yeah, that's a low number. It should be 99 percent. It just seems like a luxury, doesn't it?
HARLOWNow how many kids have phones too? I mean, these days, you know, everybody have all these activities...
HARLOW...and I'm sure they wanna be in touch with or their parents wanna be in touch with them, not the reverse.
GILROYWe just hit 1 billion cellphones in the world, just hit two weeks ago.
HARLOWSo I'm sure it's gonna get to a point where, like, you can't buy a non-smartphone. I mean, smartphones are the new phones. So, going forward, that's what everybody is gonna have.
NNAMDIHave that computer in your pocket. 800-433-8850. We're gonna take a short break, and when we come back, we'll see what else we can do to shock John Gilroy. 800-433-8850.
NNAMDII'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. The Computer Guys & Gal are still with us. As we went to the break, you may have noticed the music we played in the spirit of Election Day and old and new technology. We turned to the good folks at the National Jukebox for some inspirational marches by John Philip Sousa. It's a very cool project from the Library of Congress. The National Jukebox streams historical recordings from the earliest days of recorded music before 1925.
GILROYI remember being in high school in those years.
NNAMDIOK. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. What happens when a professional artist leaves his DSLR at home and tries to shoot his entire vacation on his smartphone? Bill, photographer Dean Holland left his at home and tries taking high-quality photos during his trip to Vietnam. How did that turn out?
HARLOWWell, first of all, this was a sort of a second honeymoon. So that's the real reason he left all of his gear at home...
GILROYHe was smart.
HARLOW…'cause if anybody knows serious photography, you know that -- you know, three-hour packing event as you pick which lenses you're going to take with you...
HARLOW...because you never -- oh, maybe I'll need the reach of this one, or maybe -- so whatever. He just took his iPhone. And some of this isn't that shocking. It's -- you know, a good photographer, good artist. It's about talent. It's about the eye. It's about being able to see things, ways of seeing that people may not, your own unique viewpoint. So what he found is that, you know, the iPhone sensor is pretty decent, and you can capture some really beautiful images.
HARLOWAnd the thing he -- things he loved about it were he didn't -- he couldn't rely on different lenses or zoom or what have you. He had to sit there and really, like, use his feet or imagine things in new ways. He kind of spent more time composing the scene and less time messing with his equipments. And he had to connect a device, hit a device with a process and all these apps, and he was loving the fact that he could actually manipulate the photos right there on the device and not wait till he exported them and then did something.
HARLOWYou know, there were limitations, obviously. There's no iPhone with like a zoom lens. All these phones and cameras, they have small sensors that equal noisy images and low light, less responsiveness. But the bottom line is, you know, he really enjoyed it. And it's a -- it was a new way to take photos for him.
NNAMDITook him back to composition 101.
HARLOWExactly, exactly. Exercise his old muscles that were getting a bit fatigued or...
GILROYThat's why he did it, the old school.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Here is Ken in Alexandria, Va., who would like to comment, I think, on design obsolescence. Hi, Ken. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KENThank you, Kojo. I really enjoy your show. Just one quick comment on obsolescence. It's -- it really doesn't bother me personally mainly because the software got, generally, of its nature, so advanced from where I am that I just don't really worry about the next versions -- two or three versions anyway. It's only when the software doesn't work that I get hooked into that, and then I'm forced to buy something new.
KENBut what I think is even more important is this problem of privacy and the privacy statements that are almost unreadable and the fact that Bit -- well, there's a study by Bit9 that surveyed 100,000 apps and said 72 percent of them, of Android apps, access at least one high-risk permission. And, you know, I just feel...
NNAMDIAccess at least one high-risk permission?
KENThat's right, like your contacts list, your...
NNAMDIOK, got it. OK.
KEN...email or your…
KENYeah, location. And I just think it's totally out of control, and no one seems to be really worried about it. I may be wrong about that. There's probably organizations that do try to correct things, but this lack of privacy is just totally out of whack, and it really bothers me.
NNAMDIAnd it's a topic we discuss quite a bit here, not that the privacy agreements are necessarily unreadable. It's just how much time do you have on your hands...
NNAMDI...to actually complete reading one. But I think that's a problem that we will continue to hear about and try to figure out even as the Congress of the United States tries to get into that conversation and figure it out. We got a tweet from Levi, who says, "Can your guests discuss tablets specifically for kids: Nabi 2, Meep!, InnoTab, Tabeo, Kurio, et cetera?" Also from Levi: "What about phone-tablet hybrids, phablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2?" Bill.
HARLOWWell, as far as the phablets go, I mean, they're just not for me. I mean, I'm not saying they have no value, but for -- I like the pocketability of like a phone-sized device. I like the big screen of a proper-sized tablet, you know, like, you know, eight, 10 inches, somewhere in that range.
HARLOWSo there are people who love them, and they like having the one device that's always with them and gives them a gorgeous big screen for things like, you know, watching video, taking notes, using mapping apps on them. And, you know, some of them come with a stylus, so, you know, it actually makes drawing on them useful.
NNAMDIBut as a phone, it does seem somewhat unwieldy.
HARLOWYeah. I mean, holding, you know, a pad of paper-sized device to your ear looks a little funny. But, you know, it's not -- it's a device. It's not fashion. So, I mean, they work just fine as phones. The nice thing is some of these are big enough that you can cram a big battery in them, too, and you get some pretty decent life out of them.
DRUINWell, you boys, you know, like to stick your phones in your pockets. You know, I noticed that. And we girls put them in the pocketbook, so it's not such a big deal. But wasn't...
HARLOWSo you want a 10-inch phone, is what you're saying.
DRUINYeah, I want a big one. No, the question is -- the question was about kids, though, correct?
NNAMDIKids -- tablets specifically for kids: Nabi 2, Meep!, InnoTab, Tabeo, Kurio.
DRUINRight, because I've been playing around with tablets for kids, and we've been looking at these in the lab. What we found is that, to be honest with you, the kids want what the adults want. They want the power of the iPad and the simplicity of the iPad. Now some of these new Android tablets seem to have some of that simplicity, but not the power. Some that have the power are really complex.
DRUINThe actual kids' tablets tend to be very limited and, ooh, this is, you know, this is a -- saves space, but then it does limit you in terms of the content and the richness of your experience. So I think what you have to do is decide how much do you wanna share that experience with your kid. How much do you want to talk about appropriate information and not appropriate information?
DRUINYou know, if you want to really save space, then, yeah, go and buy one of these kid tablets. That's gonna -- that'll get you so far, but they'll come back at you next Christmas or Hanukkah and ask for the iPad or for an Android tablet. So just be careful.
NNAMDII have two calls on maps. I'm gonna go to Ivan first and then Lisa. Ivan, you are on the air. Go ahead, please. Ivan in Bethesda. Hi, Ivan. Are you there?
IVANYes. Can you hear me?
NNAMDIYes, we can.
IVANYou caught me just as I was about to go in to vote. Good timing. I just wanted to make a comment that -- on the previous comment that the maps app for the iPhone was a disaster.
IVANI've been using it ever since I've got my new iPhone and I absolutely love it. And what I loved about it is -- I mean, it's been accurate for my use. I understand there have been some issues. But, you know, for my use in this Washington area, it's been perfect. But it also gives you voice direction, so you don't have the hold the phone in your hand and look at the map as you did with Google Map application. And it's a much safer and more convenient way to use the map application without having to buy one.
NNAMDIWell, Ivan, hang on for a second before you go vote because Lisa would like to weigh in on this issue also with a slightly different perspective. Lisa, your turn.
LISAI have had an iPhone for about five months, six months, and I like it although I was almost an Android user. I have to say that I don't know an iPhone user alive who thinks this app is good. And I think it's a disaster. And I'm really angry about it. And I just was trying to do it off Google the other day when I was canvassing for Obama. It was a nightmare. So I just -- I tried to tweet today, give us back our Google Map. And I just like to know if they're gonna cave in and what we can do to...
NNAMDIWell, Lisa, a small correction. You said you didn't know anyone who thought that app was good, but we just introduced you to Ivan so you...
GILROYYeah. And he's a great guy too.
HARLOWAnd I'm another one, too, so...
NNAMDISo you now know one person...
LISAIvan. That's an I for Ivan. He's like -- he's the only one I've heard of. I don't know...
NNAMDIHere comes number two.
HARLOWI'm Bill. I like it too. I mean, I think the biggest thing that -- so you know two of us now. But...
GILROYCalling in to meet Lisa.
HARLOWYeah, the biggest thing is like you had no choice no matter, right? You had this great data and it was a regression in a lot of cases. And, you know, I'm with Ivan in that. For my use, it's been great. Obviously, for your use, it's been a nightmare. The best thing I can say is definitely, you know, harass -- Apple harassed Google.
HARLOWWord is that Google is working on their own Google-branded maps app at some point 'cause yeah, you can use the Web-based version, but it's a lot more cumbersome than having that really responsive app you had before. And the other thing, too, is look for other options. There are tons of mapping apps in the apps store.
HARLOWAnd, you know, because of the public black eye Apple got over this, you go to the app store on your phone, they'll even point you to the intersection, you know, mapping apps for your iPhone because they want you to get something that doesn't work better for you so there's stuff like Ways, there is Yahoo Maps, MapQuest. There all kinds in there. I definitely would say -- I think they're all free. So download them and try them out.
NNAMDILisa, Ivan, thank you both for joining us. We got an email from Cathy in Egypt, who said, "I installed iOS 6 on my iPhone without thinking about the problems with it. Now, they want me to install it on my iPad. Should I?
HARLOWIf you're having problems on the iPhone, no. If you're not having problems on the iPhone, go for it.
DRUINOh, don't do it. Don't do it yet.
NNAMDIOK. On now to Salil (sp?) in Arlington, Va. Salil, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SALILHi, Kojo. Can you hear me OK?
NNAMDIYes, we can.
SALILAll right. I wanted to get back to an earlier topic you guys were talking about with Microsoft Windows 8 and how most of your panel thought that it is kind of neither here nor there, that it's sort of optimized for touch but, you know, on a desktop environment, it doesn't really make a lot of sense.
SALILAnd I think that this is actually more a factor of where the hardware is going. It just so happens I got an email alert for a price drop on a -- on 22-inch touch screen monitors. And this is not something that's actually been, you know, a common consumer device up till now.
SALILAnd I wonder how much of this is being driven like -- or how much this is actually Microsoft's foresight in seeing where the market is going. And since touch is such a common thing on phones and on tablets that maybe they're actually trying to peer dimly, you know, into the future and see if this is gonna come into the desktop computing realm too.
NNAMDIAnd we got this from Craig, Salil. "I'm listening to your show, and I'm a little disappointed. Your guests' opinion is off-based. I upgraded to Windows 8, and it takes less than 15 minutes to figure out. It's different, but it's not as confusing as the experts make it out to be." You know about Human-Computer Interaction Lab, Allison Druin?
DRUINI've heard a few things about HDI. Here is the thing. With these kinds of applications, you know, look, Microsoft had to be hit over the head to figure out that they had to deal with the touch. Now, the question is, should they have tried to create an application that's everything to everybody, to all, you know, that was essentially, you know, they had no religion. Here, use this across all devices. Most rules of thumb having to do with human-computer interaction says -- say, think about context and make the best possible application for a particular context, for a particular...
HARLOWYeah, you lose that with that. And that's -- I mean, it's not that like I would install Windows 8 and I'd get used to it. I'd probably grow to like it. But, you know, I haven't installed it in anything more than, you know, just on a second drive to play around with because, you know, I'm a very happy with Windows 7. I really like it. I don't need a new UI for my needs there.
HARLOWAnd for people who, you know, are just, you know, getting by with the basic, understanding of how to use, you know, Windows or Mac OS in their current form, you know, putting your mouse, keyboard, having this thrown on there as another layer, you know, without any consistency and with responsiveness -- responses to your interactions that are very different of what you're expecting, I mean, that's a huge learning curve.
GILROYAnd Windows 7 is so solid. It's like a piece of granite. I mean, what would motivate me to move out of it? Maybe a touch screen.
GILROYBut look how solid Windows 7 is compared to other iterations of Windows that we've all seen.
HARLOWNow, really quickly, just to get back to, you know, Windows 8 on things like, you know, touch panels, like that 22-inch, I don't think that makes a lot of sense in a desktop for anything more than like a kiosk environment, having played with, you know, desktop touch panels. You're not gonna use that for everything. Your arm is going to fall off by the end of the day.
HARLOWBut they have these new surface devices in the pipeline that are going to be full PCs, you know, an Intel processor, much more power, bigger and bulkier. And those are going to be essentially PCs with the surface body and touch screen. There's more use there, I think.
DRUINYeah. You do point out something important, which is that, what is the surface that is touchable, OK? And you have to decide, is it -- do you have to keep raising your hand to touch it? If you do, there is fatigue, and that's a problem.
DRUINBut if your whole surface, your tabletop is touchable, if it's something small that you're carrying around -- so it really depends on context and device.
NNAMDIContext, Salil, context. Thank you very much. John Gilroy, get your hands off me. John...
NNAMDI...nobody likes dealing with tech support when our computer is infected with a virus and we find ourselves stuck on a customer support line. But now a new report indicates that we should be careful about scammers posing as tech support.
GILROYWhat a wonderful scam. You gotta admit, these Russians come up with any idea...
HARLOWI'm not trying to use that word, but let's go with that.
DRUINHow do you know they're Russian? Not really.
GILROYOk, they're not. No, so what they would do is they'd called up Kojo in the evening, and they would have some kind of software that's sniffing his machine, find out maybe some details about it and say, well, Kojo, this is Bill from Microsoft calling. We're just checking on your update. Did it install OK? Well, in order to just -- they may get your credit card information or other information from you. And it's just -- it's a wonderful scam. People have done impressions of Microsoft, Symantec, Dell, all kinds of people.
GILROYI think you have to be wary of that. I think you think you have be wary about people calling you. But increasingly, I see people in the Twitter world who are -- that are susceptible to scams too.
GILROYI saw -- I was scammed last week by someone who wanted me to respond to something. And I clicked on it, and my system said, dot RU. And I said, no way. And nothing is going wrong to Russia.
NNAMDIAnd would you stop referring to it as a wonderful scam?
GILROYIt's a good scam. I tell you what, you know, if you wanna scam someone of money, call him up and say, hey, this is Bill from Microsoft. And we hear your problems of the computer. Oh, yeah, I do.
HARLOWAnd certainly, you call them. They don't call you. That's the takedown point here.
GILROYThat's the thing.
NNAMDIIf the tech support calls you, the best thing they could sell you is a device to relieve your heart attack. Tech support actually called me.
GILROYThey called me. Great. You won the lottery. I'll gladly give you my credit number.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp., Bill Harlow is hardware and software technician at -- for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Inc., and Allison Druin is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Together, they are the Computer Guys and Gal. And if three people could run for president and occupy the office altogether...
DRUINWoo-hoo, it'd be us.
NNAMDI...it wouldn't be these three. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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