Kojo talks with author Colson Whitehead about his new novel "The Underground Railroad" and its resonance at this particular moment in history.
Your Facebook friends may be bots and your Twitter followers could be fake. The Computer Guys and Gal are here to help you figure out what’s real and what’s not in the world of technology. They’ll also explore why tablet sales are up and PC shipments are down, and why a year of abstinence from the Internet didn’t change much in one writer’s life.
- Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research; 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.
Microsoft Research’s Illumiroom, a project that uses a projector and a Kinect to make the wall and objects surrounding the TV into an extended display.
Allison Druin: 2013 Tech Gifts For Grads & Latest Gadget Trends
No need for your graduate to be home sick when going off to college, now there’s Facebook Home
Got money to burn? Send your grad to school with a new Nook tablet
Get ready for dorm life with a JBL Charge Speaker
When you want to sing in the shower, use the Moxie Bluetooth Shower Head
New Twitter music app will use what’s trending to recommend music
New mobile options that will soon be springing into the Pentagon
Ever have a problem with projecting something with limited wall space?
New Research: Computers that can identify you by your thoughts
Safe texting while walking? There could be an app for that
John Gilroy: Headline-Making Technology###
Do you want to wear computer equipment? 60 percent say yes
The good news: Kojo has eight friends on Facebook. The bad news: They’re all bots
40 percent of Americans own a tablet
When double-digit declines in growth gets respect
White House AP scam forces Twitter to do the “two step”
Bill Harlow: What’s Coming Up In Tech News
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. You know by that music. In the fast-paced world of technology even the companies that are household names can't rest on their success. They're always looking ahead to the next trend, the next market. Facebook knows mobile technology is where the action is. And it's already boosted advertising there.
MR. KOJO NNAMDINow it wants to be the very first thing you see when you turn on your phone, and Twitter isn't satisfied just to tell you which topics are trending. It wants to be a player in the music world by telling you which songs and artists are trending and what your friends are listening to. But not everyone is in expansion mode. Some people are cutting back on their digital consumption, saying it may not be good for their personal lives to be plugged in 24/7.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIToday's the first Tuesday of the month, and that, of course, means The Computer Guys & Gal are here talk about new products and new trends in the world of technology and who's got fake friends. Speaking of fake friends...
MR. JOHN GILROY(unintelligible), fess up, Kojo.
MS. ALLISON DRUINOh, John, you have no friends.
NNAMDI...a warm welcome to my friend, John Gilroy...
GILROYGreetings. And I'm not a fake friend. I'm a real friend, the only one he's got, unfortunately.
NNAMDI(unintelligible) computer guy and director of business development at Armature Corp. Bill Harlow is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. Hi, Bill.
MR. BILL HARLOWHello.
NNAMDIAnd Allison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Hi, Allison.
GILROYI love that title.
GILROYLonger, longer next month. This is great.
NNAMDICan you tell that's a fake friend?
DRUINHe's a jealous friend. He wants my titles.
NNAMDIThat's exactly how...
HARLOWWith fake friends like that, who needs fake enemies? That's all I have to say.
GILROYI'll be the Duke of Budweiser or something. What a title. Geez.
NNAMDIWe're talking about new products. Have you tried Facebook Home? How about Twitter music? Call and tell us what you think about them. Facebook Home, Twitter Music, 800-433-8850 if you tried them or if you're getting ready to try them. Allison, Facebook is making that play for the mobile market with that new Facebook Home. It's an instant entry point to your friends and their posts. How does it work, and how is it doing so far?
DRUINWell, it essentially replaces the lock screen, so in other words, you know, when you're -- when you -- when your nice little cellphone goes to sleep and you click the button to start it up, there it is. There's Facebook.
DRUINThere's your photos. There's your status updates. I mean, it basically -- it feels like it takes over your operating system.
DRUINYeah. I mean, it's...
GILROYIt does. Yes, it does.
HARLOWI mean, it actually does take over the operating system.
DRUINYeah, because essentially it's sort of like three levels deep before you can get to the apps and so on, so you can start seeing those pictures. You can chat from any app with the Facebook chat. You -- you know, you can get at your apps, and you can get the last apps you used and so on. By the way, it only works -- Facebook Home only works right now on Android. So, you know, anybody that's got the iPhones, like I do, you're going to have to...
HARLOWIt's free, right?
NNAMDIIt's also free, yeah.
DRUINIt's free, but it's -- you're going to have to wait for Android. It does work the best right now on HTC first, OK? Because essentially it's already downloaded onto that Android phone, and you can -- oh, you have one, John.
DRUINSince when are you on the bleeding edge? Oh, my gosh. Anyway, so -- but it's -- it is basically being hailed as the first step of Facebook taking over your entire cellphone.
NNAMDIHow many people...
GILROYI look forward to that.
NNAMDIHow many people are doing this? How many people are adopting or using this apperating system?
GILROYApperating, that's a good one.
DRUINOh, it's slowly being rolled out, OK? Because it's only -- you know, it's only -- it only works -- or it only -- it is only downloaded on one particular phone right now, but it is accessible by all the other Android phones. But it's quite popular so far, but it does have bugs. Watch out, OK? Just so that you know this is, you know, alpha-beta kind of stuff. So, you know, something locks up, just restart it. It -- there are bugs, OK?
NNAMDIThirty percent of total advertising sales now are coming from mobile, so Facebook wants to be firmly entrenched as a mobile company. But it's my understanding that of the maybe 1 billion Facebook users, there are only maybe 1 million have so far downloaded this.
DRUINYeah. I mean, again, what they're calling it -- you know, I don't know how you call it a soft launch with 1 million users already. But it's -- if you look at the context of Facebook, yes, this is a small group of people that are using this right now. But, actually, if this thing works as well as it seems to work, it could roll really big very quickly.
GILROYI just love that Facebook is trying to grab ad dollars in mobile devices by building this thing that runs on top of Google's operating system, which is also trying to grab advertising dollars in mobile.
DRUINOh, yeah. But, now, by the way, Google now is still on your Android phone. It's not -- it's just sort of to the side. So you can get at all of your apps and all of your normal stuff that you would. It's just slightly embedded in Facebook now.
NNAMDIAre you one of the 1 million? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Who have downloaded Facebook Home? How about Twitter Music? John, Twitter is working on new security measures after someone hacked The Associated Press' Twitter feed, reported an explosion at the White House, which caused the stock market to fall. How is Twitter going to prevent hacking? And what will this mean for Twitter users?
GILROYWell, people have been predicting this for a while, and it's more like that poem "Intimations of Immortality." Remember that poem, Bill? That's an intonation of what you're going to do because what...
GILROYThere are listeners who know what I'm referring to. It's a poem. Anyway...
GILROY…there's intimations here that Twitter is looking for people with that type of skill set, and they're probably going to make this transition. And what precipitated it was a venture down in the White House where someone scammed the AP. And the stock market had a huge dip. And so Twitter said, uh-oh, we've got to move aggressively on this. And so when we see hints and intimations that they're going to move this way, I will expect within the next 60 days, we'll see two factors like Google made the (word?) -- and I think Apple has two-factor too, doesn't, Bill?
HARLOWThey're getting there, yeah. I've got it on my iCloud account. It's -- when they recently had all those security issues, they pushed out email to a lot of subscribers, so worth doing.
GILROYYeah. And I think it's more and more concerned with a billion people. There's got to be bad operators in there somewhere, Facebook and Twitter, all over the world -- 200 million in Twitter.
NNAMDIWell, Twitter is thinking music, Allison. It's moving into the realm with a new feature that highlights songs and artists that are trending, tells users what their friends are listening to. My friends have terrible taste in music and...
GILROYDo you have any friends?
NNAMDIThat's another question. Why is Twitter interested in music?
DRUINWell, this is interesting. By the way, you can go to music.twitter.com, OK, to actually take a look at what's going on. They're interested because, obviously, the more time you spend wandering around Twitter, the better it is for everybody. But if you're like me, I don't follow any music artists. I actually don't even know what my friends -- my friends don't even tweet about music, OK? I'm a nerd. So I don't know how well this thing will work on someone like me.
DRUINBecause, for instance, you can get at suggested artists you might like, OK? And what it does is it analyzes the artist you follow on Twitter, but if I don't follow anyone on Twitter, I'm not sure what they're looking for. And then, of course, they're also, you know, there's got a now playing option, and you can take a look at who's -- who of your followers are tweeting about music. But none of my followers tweet about music. They tweet about nerd stuff. So I'm not sure, again, this is going to work for me. So it's, you know...
GILROYOff with their heads if this doesn't work for you.
DRUINI don't know.
NNAMDIAll of Allison Druin's friends and followers, you need to help her out with her music selection, OK?
GILROYWell, in the future -- she's the director of the future. And in the future, there may be no music because it doesn't have anything to do with Allison.
HARLOWI will start tweeting about music just for you, Allison.
DRUINOh, thank you.
HARLOWI have friends in a few bands. I'll make sure you guys hook up. How's that?
GILROYYes. What a match made in heaven.
NNAMDIAllison needs help. Are you following Twitter Music? Give us a call, 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIWe've also talked on this broadcast about employees' waiting or who want to use their own personal devices at and for work. The Pentagon has decided to end BlackBerry's monopoly there and approve the use of Samsung and Apple platforms. What does that mean for these companies and for federal workers? Free at last. Free at last.
DRUINFree at last. Well, you know, it's -- this is interesting. There are -- actually, the Pentagon suspects there's 600,000 smartphone users in the Pentagon, OK? That's a serious number of people. But what's actually more impactful is that when the Pentagon uses something, then law enforcement, finance organizations, they say, oh, that must be safe, so therefore we should use those things.
DRUINSo it's actually -- when the Pentagon says, this is what we can use, it actually does impact a number of industries. So, basically, Samsung now even has a government advisory board because they're getting really, really serious about this. And they've made their Galaxy, you know, what they believe is bulletproof. And, you know, and Apple has been quietly working on security for years. So they believe that they're moving to approve the Samsung and Apple products to -- for the Pentagon.
HARLOWI think Samsung is an interesting company, too, because they're far more likely than Apple to make a product specifically catered to, you know, that market. If they make certain requests saying, hey, you need, you know, remove certain features to make this, you know more suitable for our needs from a security standpoint, I think they're more likely to jump and ask how high.
NNAMDIBlackBerry can't be happy about this, John.
GILROYNo. In the DoD, they have a lot of servers that were used to handling BlackBerry, and the people were comfortable with it. And all of sudden, BlackBerry can't keep up. Now, what are they going to do? They're scrambling around. You take one little slice of the DoD -- let's take the VA, 400,000 employees, 197 hospitals. I mean, thousands and thousands of people -- these doctors walking around with portable devices.
GILROYThere's medical sensors that are out there. Now, it's going to grow by 500 percent in the next two years. I mean, they don't have a choice. They're going to have to adapt or get stomped on. And it's fascinating how the security implications of all these devices and more familiar with medical devices but in the military devices as well.
NNAMDIWe got a tweet from Glen who asks, "Is there anything in the works for a Facebook home-type app for LinkedIn or other services that you know of, Allison?"
DRUINNot yet. But, you know what, I'm almost certain that this one looks good enough so that people are going to start to replicate this. You know, it's going to take a little bit of time. Android -- it started on Android because, obviously, the operating system is open enough so that they can take hold of it and own it. So it would not surprise me at all if other companies start moving in that direction.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. We're moving on. True or false, do all the posts on your Facebook wall come from real people?
NNAMDIWould it surprise you to learn that bots are on the loose in social media? Give us a call, 800-433-8850 about those mysterious that seem to be advertising something or the other. John, when you post something on Facebook and then lots of people respond, makes you feel very popular. But what if those responses are in fact coming from bots masquerading as real people? Tell us how a group of Canadian researchers created an army of fake friends that can steal your personal information.
GILROYWell, up in Canada, it didn't snow for a couple days, and they decided to test out this theory of, let's see if they could develop some imaginary bots and see if they can influence or persuade people on Facebook. But they found out that are other people are already doing it. There are already best practices set up and everything else.
GILROYIn fact, our friends at Facebook say there are tens of millions of fake followers out there, and they're getting very sophisticated where they can go into systems. And they can break captchas, and they have different ways, techniques for going through these little, you know, word anagrams you have to decipher.
GILROYAnd so they've had a lot of success with it. So, you know, what's happening in the commercial world, people are saying, well, my brand can get impacted by the number of followers I have on Twitter, the number of followers I have on Facebook. And so it is a value. In fact, there's a TV station in town two years ago that was going to donate a dollar to charity for every Twitter follower that was there, so there's a financial value there.
GILROYAnd it's just fascinating. In fact, there's people -- there's companies now that will find out if you have fake followers or not. So you can -- in fact, you can go to the kojoshow.org and probably get a utility there you can run yourself in your Twitter feed and find out how many fake followers you have. And I have one.
NNAMDIThe market for fake Twitter followers is booming, and people are selling these fake Twitter followers. Here is Ambrose in Reston, Va. Ambrose, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
AMBROSEHi. Can you hear me OK?
NNAMDIYes, we can.
AMBROSEMine is a special case. I worked at the Terrorist Screening Center Development Office from 2005 to 2010 and was the -- had the only Mac Pro or the only Macintosh on that classified network, top secret. In 2009, I found that there was an incursion going on over my log-on, took me quite a while, but it involved two huge weaknesses with the Apple's OS X.
AMBROSEAnd that was Snow Leopard at the time, and it's ongoing. My report over my bosses head got me pushed out of the contract and attracted a most unwelcome attention to me that is playing itself out over the Internet, screwing up with my systems.
AMBROSEOne aspect of this unwelcome attention is that I've been signed up for services that -- such as Twitter or LinkedIn that I've never signed up for and interference with my Facebook account to where I don't even use Facebook anymore. Some...
NNAMDIWell, Ambrose, lots of us get a lot of requests. I certainly do from people who would like me to join up with LinkedIn. I get a lot of requests from Facebook, the sources of which I am not sure of. And now that John Gilroy is talking about bots there, it's entirely possible that that could be the case. So is that, John, something that could've been happening in Ambrose's case and he somehow connected it to his previous life?
GILROYWell, Ambrose is a very unique situation here. In the area here, there's this thing called the intelligence community, and no one wants to talk about it. But he was working on a project that's connected to that group. And he might have been targeted, and he's in a world of hurt. I don't know the way out of this one. I think the general listener out there, should you have best practices of -- you know, in LinkedIn, they say -- well, 10-year anniversary, by the way, for LinkedIn.
GILROYIf you know the person, and, you know, you've met him at an event or something, then you can link in. If you don't know them, a mystery person, you probably shouldn't do that. The problem is that some of these identities are pretty good, and he may have had his identity compromised and stolen. And his situation is going to be so unique. I would not take any of our advice. I would go to the people with the three-letter names, you know, the CIA and FBI, and ask them what to do because he's -- he could be in way over his head. This is serious stuff.
NNAMDIAmbrose, thank you very much for your call. Good luck to you. For the rest of us, how can we tell who's real and who's not when we get friend requests on Facebook or new followers on Twitter?
HARLOWWell, I guess I would say is don't stress over having too many followers. I mean, I only, you know, accept people that I actually know, I've communicated with in real life.
GILROYThat's probably a good practice, yeah.
HARLOWIf you know them in real life, accept them. If you don't, don't just pad your stats, so to speak.
DRUINNow, when I actually get a friend request, I'll go and take a look at their page and see.
DRUINAnd it's interesting 'cause ever once in a while, I'll say, oh, I actually do know this person, and it just didn't even occur to me. So -- but you absolutely should check out somebody before you accept a friend request.
NNAMDIHere is Brian in Alexandria, Va. Brian, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRIANHey, thanks, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I'm listening with amusement. I find all of this very amusing, all this talk about Facebook. I have a relative who was, like, super into it with the thousands of friends and kept telling me this and that and was trying to pressure me to getting a Facebook page for years. And I resisted and resisted but finally realized that for certain websites, if I wanted to do certain things, they had to do it through Facebook. And so I finally started a page.
BRIANAnd if there's other people out there like me who had no real interest in doing all of this with Facebook and friends and this and that, I just opened up a blank page. It has my name. It has my birth date on it. I have no pictures, no -- there's nothing on it. But it does now allow me to go -- like now, because I am on Facebook, I can go to so some of the -- leave, you know, messages on the sites that I wanted to do and other things...
BRIAN...that seem to only do it through Facebook. But literally, there's no picture and my picture's -- there's nothing on it.
NNAMDIExcept there is one thing: your birthday.
BRIANNo, I didn't I put my year.
GILROYIt is dangerous, yeah.
BRIANI have it clicked it, so it doesn't put my year. It just says, you know, name and number.
NNAMDIYeah, but why did you put the day? You're looking for...
BRIANWell, I thought you had to put that in there.
NNAMDIYou're looking for a lot of birthday requests, birthday gifts.
BRIANI thought that was required.
NNAMDIYeah. It might be required. It might be required. I'm not sure, Brian.
BRIANYeah. So they just have my name and a birthday. But I can't believe -- I'm still scratching my head why people would fill in all this stuff they want you to fill in. I'm just -- it boggles my mind that there are people out there. Obviously, I'm the minority. It seems like there's tons of people out there that do this.
BRIANBut again, I had this one relative who was super, super into it, and I've clicked on her page before and I scrolled through. And the stuff that she lists and tell, I literally scratched my head. I was like, why would she do this?
NNAMDIPeople like friends, Brian. A lot of people like to communicate with the friends that they know, and some people like to accumulate friends that they don't know. As Allison says, she checks out people first because there might actually be people who share your interests out there who may be able to share relevant information with you that you may not otherwise have, but to each his own. Brian, thank you for your call. We got a post on our Facebook page from Jessica, who says, "I'm mainly...
NNAMDIWait a minute.
DRUINIt's a bot.
NNAMDIIt's for Allison. "I mainly tweet about music and work in interactive, thus I could be considered a geek."
HARLOWYou have a new friend.
GILROYOh, yes. You finally got one friend, Allison.
DRUINAh. All right.
NNAMDI"Twitter would not do this if their metrics did not show music was a big area of interest."
DRUINYes. In fact -- actually, they have stats in looking at -- it's one of the most popular things. I'm useless. What can I tell you? But it is one of the most popular things people do talk about.
NNAMDIExcept in John Gilroy's case, poetry is his thing.
GILROYRight. Right. And the listener can call and identify that title if they like. Probably the most popular trending topic on Twitter normally is Twitter itself.
HARLOWIt was a Twitter haiku. That would fit 140 characters, right?
HARLOWYou can have your poetry.
NNAMDIWe've got to take a short break, where the most trending topic here is the Computer Guys & Gal.
NNAMDIIf you'd like to join the conversation with them...
DRUINI like that.
NNAMDI...call us, 800-433-8850. When we come back, we'll be talking about tablet sales. They're up. PC sales are down. What devices are you ready to see more or less of? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to The Computer Guys & Gal. The question for you, tablet sales are up. PC sales are down. What devices are you ready to see more or less of? Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the tagline tech -- using the #TechTuesday, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Who's here?
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, director of business development at Armature Corp., Allison Druin, chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research, co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland, and Bill Harlow, hardware and software technician for Macs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Inc. John, the Consumer Electronics Association says more Americans are using tablets than ever before. What are the numbers, and why are -- why is this significant?
GILROYYeah. Just over here in Arlington, they have interesting numbers. They say, of the Americans who are online, they qualify that, 40 percent of tablets -- and they're looking at 50 percent real soon. I mean, talk about, out of nowhere, just explodes, and I can understand why. I mean, battery life for tablets is huge. Tablets are easy to see. My wife and I -- I'm on a computer. She's on a tablet in the sunshine, and she can see stuff that I can't see. It's just it's the ambient light situations. It's -- where'd they come from and where are they going to go? I mean, it fascinating the growth in this world.
NNAMDISixty-eight percent of online U.S. adults plan to buy a tablet in the future. That's down from 78 percent that was (unintelligible) fourth quarter.
GILROYProbably getting saturated. That's why.
HARLOWFifty percent of people have them already.
GILROYHave them already, yeah. What are they going to do?
NNAMDIIt's the wave of the future. Allison, the Barnes & Noble Nook started as a proprietary book reader but has now become, first and foremost, itself a tablet with access to Google Play's large selection of software and apps. What's your review?
DRUINWell, this is interesting. It's just for -- just so you know -- this is just for the Nook HD and the Nook HD+, OK?
DRUINThe Nook. The Nook sorry, Nook. And it is -- and basically, what they realized is that the -- a closed system, as a book reader, for at least because they had full color and it was really a tablet at the end of the day, just -- they realized opening it up would make it more valuable. So, in fact, actually, the price tag for this thing is $60 cheaper than an iPad. They're going to load on Google Play, Gmail, Maps, Chrome, all preloaded with Google.
DRUINAnd I just for those of you that don't know what Google Play is, it's the equivalent of iTunes in the App Store put together for Android, OK, so you can get at music and movies and books and Android apps. So it's really -- they're looking for a full-featured experience, and that, for 270, is pretty good.
NNAMDIThat's what I'm saying. You're not missing a whole lot from any other tablet that you might probably last have.
HARLOWAnd it sounds like you'd probably download the Kindle app for that too which is kind of amazing.
DRUINWait, I mean, I have to say that the interface -- again, the interface on the Kindle is -- got a little bit more going for it. Again, that Kindle app lives on all different devices, and they did the right thing by being, you know, completely agnostic about putting that app on any device you have, whether it's your cellphone, your iPad, your Kindle, whatever it is.
DRUINBut Barnes & Noble realized they couldn't compete with the Amazon library. And so they really needed to open it up. The Amazon library is pretty amazing. It's pretty complete. So anyway, so that's why they're going with that. I think it's a good deal. You know, if you don't have another book reader or tablet, this is, maybe, a way to go.
NNAMDIStarted out as a book reader, now you can do just about anything else with it. John, malware attacks on Android phones are increasing at an alarming rate according to Bitdefender, a company that makes anti-virus software. What are some signs that your phone is infected with malware?
GILROYWe know, sounds like what we talked about seven, eight years ago with desktops. Now, it's finally there. And I think if you have an Android, you have to be susceptible to things. And what are the signs? I mean, the signs are pretty obvious. What happens is you have, you know, a brand new phone and you got bad battery life, and you do know the best practice for that. You get dropped calls, you get some strange bills, you get some spikes, new data plan. What's going on here?
GILROYAnd now there's whole worlds of AVG and avast! have got some free software that'll find malware on yours. I guess, it's just part of doing business, like if you drive a car, you got to have a seatbelt and airbag. If you're going to have a smartphone nowadays, you're going to have to either be ultra, ultra careful or get some anti-virus software for your machine.
GILROYSo I think that's just -- I think that's the start of it. I think the real input, the fact here is that we have a smartphone. You see a website. You're going to click on it much easier than with a desktop, and then you're going to open yourself up to all kinds of attacks that maybe Ambrose fell prey to here 15, 20 minutes ago with his Macintosh operating system.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Here now is Paul in Leesburg, Va. Paul, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Hi, Paul. Are you there?
PAULYes, I am.
NNAMDIGo right ahead, please.
PAULSo my question is actually on the last segment, although I...
NNAMDIIt's fine. Go ahead.
PAULI'm not much of a social media user, but I am on LinkedIn, and I'm one of those legacy people from way back in the day. Their policies used to have degrees of separation where you not only say, yes, I know this person, but how well do I know him. Is he a co-worker? Is he just an acquaintance? Recently, I've just been seeing connection requests.
PAULAnd I will admit that I haven't been keeping up on how LinkedIn does their business. Am I saying I'm best friends whoever with this person? Is it like Facebook where there's only one connection type now for LinkedIn? Are they still doing that granular thing?
GILROYYou know, LinkedIn is a business connection, and it's got nothing to do with friendship. It's got to do with business. And if someone has a request for you and they're in your business circle, I would think you want to accept it if you met them or know them. I mean, if it's a writer or someone you never met before, maybe someone from overseas, you may want to consider that, but there's no gradations that I've seen. In fact, I was on LinkedIn this morning and haven't seen -- they're changing all the time. I mean...
DRUINThey do have an endorsement feature...
GILROYWhich is separate from...
DRUIN...which is slightly different. So in other words, once you're linked with somebody, then you can say, I know John. He is the greatest at viruses, or I know Bill, and he -- and they're -- what they're doing is picking up keywords from your profile, and then they're asking people that are linked with you to endorse those things. And so I -- every once in a while, I'll go through and endorse a bunch of things just so that I feel like I'm connected to people. But -- so that's, I think, the way they're doing granularity these days.
PAULWorry was that before, if you said, yes, they're a co-worker and you wanted to change your mind, it was very difficult to change the type of connection. And I remember just seeing connection requests without seeing exactly. I mean, yeah, I know the guy. I have worked with him before or something, but I don't want to say I know him, I trust him, he's in my company, I recommend his business. I just want to say I know him, and I know -- I lost track of how to tell what kind of request it was. I wanted to make sure that they hadn't just changed how they do business.
GILROYYou know, I'm all over LinkedIn. I've never had any kind of request like that, so I think it's just either, you know, you want to connect or not, and there's no obligation to -- no obligation to endorse anyone either. I think what these endorsements for is for marketing purpose. They find out someone who specializes in that and they try to do direct advertising towards them. So, no, it's black or white, business contacts or no business contacts.
PAULAwesome. Thank you.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Paul. Here now is Ross in Washington, D.C. Ross, your turn.
ROSSHello. Thank you, Kojo. My question is a follow-up to a comment by one of your experts there about how when one receives a friend request, you should check out his or her Facebook page. But yet, it seems like there are a lot of people who do not do that. Now, when I hear that advice, I say, well, duh, of course, that's common sense. Why is it that so many people do not follow that common sense? I'm just confused.
HARLOWI wish I could answer that myself.
HARLOWI mean, a need to feel popular maybe? Just, you know, that's one other thing, padding stats. You see, oh, wow, you know, so and so's got 400 friends. I've only got 150. I'll add these people, you know? This, you know, person looks like, you know, he or she may have something in common, so why not? But, you know, I guess it's just disconnected. I look at Facebook as an extension of the real world. Some people may look at Facebook as its own world with its own rules.
GILROYWell, I think it's bragging rights, and I think it's nothing to do with technology, certainly to humans. And here you see people walking down the street with Kojo, with all these patches for NFL teams on. He's bragging about he's a fan of a certain team or something or other, and humans just want to brag, oh, I have 10,000 friends or something. I think it's just -- it's a matter of validating their existence, and then some people need big ego pumps like me. I mean, and some people don't. So I think that's what it is. I think it's just, you know, people want to brag.
NNAMDIRoss, we don't actually have psychology degrees here on the broadcast, but we do practice amateur psychology. That's...
GILROYThey should bring out someone out and ask that question. It'll be a good show.
NNAMDIThat's what we figure for the time being, Ross.
HARLOWI love when he called me an expert. That's funny.
NNAMDII think you've heard. Thanks for your call.
DRUINSpeak for yourself.
NNAMDIWe all -- we are indeed experts. Here's Dan in Frederick, Md. Dan, your turn.
DANHi. This is really interesting for a guy who's been in the technology business for well over 40 years, and then yet I still do it. I'm probably the most overpaid programmer in America.
DANBut all of this social media stuff, you know, I got a late start. I have a 16-year-old daughter, and I am so dumbfounded with why she feels a connection in this two-dimensional electronic fitful media when the real world is human interaction, looking at people's faces, seeing their expressions, hearing the tone of their voice. I mean, I got to confess, I had a Facebook page long enough to go see my friend's boat.
NNAMDIWell, not long ago, Allison Druin was a teenage girl.
GILROYYes, just a couple of years back.
DRUINOh, my gosh.
NNAMDIAnd she has girls. So, Allison, tell him a little bit about what teenage girls find in that world.
DRUINAll right. Well, here's the thing, I actually do a lot of research. I mean, you do with kids and technology...
NNAMDIThis is true.
DRUIN...and, yeah, besides having a teenage girl. The bottom line is today's kids see this as another form of social expression. This is about when you were a kid and you brought home a picture, your mom might've put it up on the refrigerator, OK? And that validated that it actually happened, that you were appreciated, and that the rest of the world could see it. This is a glorified refrigerator today, OK? This is what kids are -- this is the way kids are actually extending their physical experiences. I mean, my kid won't even pick up a phone and call someone. What?
DRUINYou have to text them, mommy. Why would you call them? I'm like, what? So...
NNAMDIIf you call them, they might answer.
DRUINYeah. So this -- and social media, you have to be aware of which social media environments they're in. So be careful with Snapchat. You know, that's the one that basically sends something in, then it disappears supposedly. And, you know, be careful with Instagram because the, you know, sharing a lot of pictures and so on. Facebook is, you know, for old fuddy-duddy sometimes. Some of the newer -- some of the "cooler kids" are not getting on Facebook interestingly enough because obviously their parents are following them.
DRUINNot following, friending them or insisting on friending them. So, I mean, the bottom line is it is social, it is recognition, and it does extend their physical world in ways that is very different from when we grew up.
NNAMDIDan, thank you very much for your call. You know, some people say that our addiction to the Internet and social media is affecting the quality of our lives. How do you think your life would be different if you unplugged? Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Bill Harlow, a year ago, a 26-year-old technology writer decided to unplug and give up the Internet for a year to see if it would make him, well, a better person. It's something we all wonder about. Would life be more relaxed and our personal relationships be stronger if we spent less time online? What did Paul Miller discover?
HARLOWWell, it's a common refrain, right, that this, you know, fast-paced, connected, you know, supposedly connected world is, you know, hurting our soul, somehow. So -- and he felt that too. I mean, there's a lot of compulsive behavior that can be enabled by being on the Internet all the time. So he went without for an entire year to find himself and find out what the effects would be. Would he be a better person? Would he be a more engaged person?
HARLOWAnd it turns out, initially, yeah. You know, probably the initial change is that pure shock to the system. He, you know, was talking with people in a way that they said he'd never talked before. He was really, you know, active and engaged, and he was taking time to slow down and appreciate life and, you know, smell the roses, so to speak. And then as time wore on, you know, he kind of fell into his habits.
HARLOWAnd, you know, when you think about it, it's not that shocking, that, you know, you are who you are, and, you know, something like this is really more about working on yourself than any sort of technology you're connected to. So it was a fascinating experiment. I thought it was a great article, especially as a journal of how he went through all this.
HARLOWAnd at the end of the day, you know, he was left with this feeling that Internet is just a technology. It is where the people are. It does have value, and he's going to get back on there. And is he going to be the new and improved Paul Miller? No. But maybe he'll -- maybe he can make a start. You know, if nothing else, he's gotten some clarity from this, hopefully.
NNAMDIPaul Miller joined us on this broadcast in the middle of his experiment with being unplugged. If you go into archives, that show aired on Dec. 18 of 2012, when Paul Miller was about seven or eight months into his unplugging phase. John, a team of British researchers asked the same question a different way. Does using more digital communication and social media make for stronger or for weaker personal relationships? What did they find?
GILROYWell, that's -- it was interesting. What they found is that, initially -- there's like a bell curve here -- initially an increased social context. But when you were too involved, it can actually impact the relationship with your wife, your spouse. And I guess I would -- I can see that happening. I mean, if I were making dinner and I was trying to have a conversation with my wife and she was worried about her Facebook friends or something or the other, I think it could happen.
GILROYI guess it's a matter of moderation. Is that the phrase that pays here, moderation? I think it's -- and moderation is probably beneficial. Maybe this is what Miller is finding out. Maybe the moderation is the key for him too.
NNAMDIDo we all need to unplug at some point or the other, Allison Druin?
DRUINIt's interesting. I -- in the summer when we go up to the Berkshires with my kids, I have the ability to even do "The Kojo Show" from up there. I mean, I am so...
NNAMDIThis I recall.
DRUIN...I am so connected. I mean, I told my husband I was not going to go and spend a month up in the Berkshires if I didn't have a high-speed Internet connection. So, you know, it is so much a part of the fabric of who I am with my very nerdy husband. So it is hard to believe. I mean, when he has a wonderful thing that happens to him at work, I'm the one that tweets about him to the rest of the world.
NNAMDIHe should be grateful.
DRUINYeah, yeah. So it's -- I think it depends on who you are. I mean, we met as co-workers and, you know, and became husband and wife. So it is something -- if you took it away from us, I think you would take...
NNAMDIYour relationship is wired.
DRUINYou would take apart...
DRUIN...our relationship a little bit. But on the other hand, there are days that I just go off the grid and enjoy it. And that's, I think, something -- you don't necessarily have to go off the grid for a year to detox, OK? You can go off for a day and realize, wow, that's a long enough period of time for me.
HARLOWYou know what I wish? I wish that -- the unplugging isn't about just being away. It's about being able to control the terms of your connectivity because...
DRUINThat's right. That's right.
HARLOW...everybody -- you are so connected -- I think it's so instantaneous it seems like any demands in your time happen whenever they're going to happen, and it's almost out of your hands.
DRUINWell, it's interesting because I was just in France, OK, at a conference where the Internet kept going down. I felt like I was in a Third World country. There's 3,400 people with very little Internet connection. I mean -- and these are all nerds. These are all people that care about human-computer interaction.
HARLOWMust have been a scary scene.
DRUINIt was not pretty, OK? It was really that...
GILROYIn any language.
DRUINAt one point, someone was tweeting about giving people messages to pass with the bicycle riders going by so that they would tweet them as -- in the outside world. But it was really something where you sit back and go, wow, I'm really not in control. And, in fact, actually, it sort of felt good because you just went, oh, well. Guess I'm going to turn to Bill and talk to him.
HARLOWIt's out of my hands now.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. We go -- got to go take some calls from the French Embassy. When we come back...
NNAMDI...we'll continue this conversation with the Computer Guys & Gal. Do you think it's important to unplug? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back with the Computer Guys & Gal and your phone calls at 800-433-8850. We're going to look at some innovations that are still on the drawing board. Bill Harlow, Microsoft Research is developing a projector that you can put on the coffee table that turns not just the television screen, but the entire wall behind it into the gaming surface.
GILROYEveryone should watch this at "Kojo Show." It's a great video.
HARLOWIt's -- it blew my mind.
GILROYIt's a great, great video, really fun.
HARLOWIt's called IllumiRoom, and they were demonstrating it...
HARLOW...in a gaming context. So keep in mind, this doesn't replace the TV. You have a conventional flat-panel TV, and then the projector is part of that. There's a connected sensor that's kind of analyzing the room, and what happens is all your interactions are expanded by the projector. So one example was a game had a kind of cartoony look, and there are these crazy explosions or whatever happening.
HARLOWAnd the projector actually made everything in the room look like it was cartoony as well. There were harsh black outlines like they were hand-drawn. Something would jump on the screen, and it made the bookshelves look like they were expanding and bowing and reacting to what was going on on screen, a sequence where you're turning around in the game world and there are these kind of particles and lights floating around the room, and you seem to float with it. Things fall out of the screen and appear to bounce on the floor.
GILROYIn almost 3-D manner. It's just -- it's fascinating.
HARLOWYeah. And it's all just a 2-D projection, but because of how fluid and how immediate it was, the illusion was incredible. That's what they call these. They call these illusions, and they demonstrate so many. If you want to burn a few minutes and have your mind blown, this is a great video.
DRUINSounds like drugs without the add-on.
NNAMDIGo to kojoshow.org.
GILROYIt's an amazing video.
NNAMDIAllison, you've pointed out another projection project in the works that could produce a clear image on an office cubicle or some other less-than-ideal surface.
DRUINYeah. This is some research that's going on in, believe it or not, Bombay, India, and by a grad student there that's just finishing up his Ph.D. And essentially it's the idea of how do we project in non-ideal environments, OK? Usually, there's not enough space or the walls are, you know, bumpy or have a different surface to it. So they've been developing this kind of system.
DRUINBut the most cool thing about this is that it's a smart system, so that if the presenter is -- moves in front of the image, and we all do this, the projector is going to sense the disruption and adapt to it and move the display. So it's really, really interesting work and you should take a look at it, the links on the site.
NNAMDIBill, Apple helped introduced high-resolution devices into the mainstream with the retina display on its iPad. Now, more phones and tablets are offering displays with high-pixel density. How are they boring the lessons of graphics processors from the gaming world?
HARLOWWell, you know, traditionally high-end computer games require a lot of horsepower to generate those 3-D worlds. We're getting to the point now, though, where, yeah, all our devices are high resolution. Apple is releasing very high-resolution laptops. We're going to have desktops like this I'm sure. And guess what, that takes a lot of graphics horsepower muscle. So what Intel has now are these CPUs with built-in graphical processing units on them. And they're going to be lower power.
HARLOWThey would be a great fit, I think, for a lot of these tablets and newer devices that are, you know, more robust than like a traditional iPad and Android tablet and really just push all those pixels on them so you're going to have a smooth experience. Even if you're not a gamer, you're going to want a screen that's going to be very highly quality. We can't discern the pixels.
HARLOWYou're going to have, you know, beautiful photos, really sharp texts. And also, you're going to want that to react smoothly to your inputs. So it's one of these things where, like, a lot of people don't care about these details, but they're going to benefit. I think this is something that in the future a lot of people are just going to have and take -- have these things and take it for granted hopefully.
GILROYTrickle down from gamers, again. Gamers are in the bleeding edge and they...
HARLOWYeah. We're the F1 racers of the tech world.
GILROYYou are, yeah. When that tire blows up, we're not going to use that tire.
DRUINOh. I like that.
HARLOWOf the consumer world, of the consumer world.
DRUINYeah, yeah. There you go.
NNAMDIHere is Doug in Washington, D.C. Hi, Doug.
DOUGHi. Good to be talking to everybody today. Thanks for taking my call. I wanted to touch on two quick things about Facebook and the recent discussion that was had before the break on disconnecting. I took the initiative to disconnect from the Internet for only one day. Actually two days, two separate times. Last year, I actually did a blog post to just document what I've found.
DOUGAnd I pretty much found that I think it's necessary. I think it helps with the interpersonal skills that are old fashion, if you will, meaning pre-Internet. I just think it's a really good idea. One person agreed with me who is looking for me that entire day on the Internet but couldn't pick up the phone or call so...
DOUGSo I found it to be quite interesting. But being a tech -- maybe being a systems engineer, using the net at least from dial-up days on -- not essentially on modems, I think it's -- I think is necessary especially with all that is being thrown to us on the Internet. Sometimes if I actually go take a restroom break I'm reaching for my phone because that is the time where many times, you know, we get a private break. But I think it's necessary, some of them.
NNAMDIOK. Thank you very much for your call, Doug. We move on, therefore, to Anna in Bethesda, Md. And the same issue, Anna. Go ahead, please.
ANNAHi, Kojo. Thank you so much. I also just wanted to touch upon the whole social media and disconnecting. And I love social media. I'm a young mother in Bethesda. And I find at the end of the day, you know, I don't have time to call every one of my good friends to catch up. But Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, all of them, they are great ways to kind of stay in touch when you don't have time. But on the flipside of that, you know, at the cost of even posting and getting away, you're still not connecting.
ANNASo at the end of the day, it's so much easier to turn on your computer, to turn on your TV but at what cost? So I think that is just important to -- and I'm curious what your panelists think about, you know, to disconnect and how it affects your relationships with your kids and your husband and when is the best time to put the computer down and whatnot.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Anna. Allison Druin has already spoken on that, but before she reiterates, here is Moshe (sp?) in Silver Spring, Md., on this issue. Moshe, your turn.
MOSHEHi. Thanks for taking my call. I just wanted to say on this subject of disconnecting from the Internet, as an Orthodox religious Jew, I disconnect from the Internet, don't use the computer or anything for 25 hours starting at sundown on Friday all over Saturday. And I have to say that I feel like it's a really great thing. I talk to people. I'm a student at University of Maryland, and I talk to people and they say, I emailed you on Saturday and you didn't respond.
MOSHEAnd I say, well, Saturday is the day that I don't use the Internet. And I've had people say to me, well, that sounds like it's a really great thing that you have a day to unwind, to relax, do not have to worry about all these things, to not -- just to disconnect. And I wish I could do that. And I also would really think that it's very important to have that one day of disconnecting.
NNAMDII'm glad you said you're a student of the University of Maryland because...
NNAMDI...we have a professor who may disagree with you. Allison.
GILROYKojo, a day of rest, a brand new idea, you know, brand new idea. No one's ever said that.
DRUINI have to tell you, Moshe, I -- and Anna. I consciously -- when I am in a place, I consciously think about whether or not I'm going to share this with anybody else. And there are many times when I'm with my kids, with my family that I say no, this is my time. And I don't share that. Or I decide that, you know, I'm only going to talk about the work stuff on Twitter and, you know, and sends -- and send one little post and the rest of it is off.
DRUINSo I do think that social media makes us more conscious about how much of our lives we should be sharing. Or we should be more conscious of this because we've got to think about what's private and what's not.
NNAMDIMoshe, thank you very much for your call. This email we've got from Josh in Adams Morgan, who needs some help, "I have some two new Windows 8 laptops and I need to move all our old data on to them. One crashed, so I'll be willing pull -- so I'll be pulling everything back from an online Carbonite backup. The other can either be done via Carbonite or directly. Any advice on using Carbonite or cables to transfer software?"
GILROYI never used Carbonite. I have no experience with it.
HARLOWI would say when it comes to software, just reinstall it. And the stuff you want to get is the data you've actually created. The software, you really need to reinstall it for it to work properly.
DRUINYeah. I absolutely agree.
NNAMDIThank you very much. Here is Lisa in Alexandria, Va. Lisa, your turn.
LISAKojo, thank you for taking my call. I love your show. I realized we're running out of time, so I'll try to truncate my question. Quick introduction, though. I was listening to the orthodox Jewish caller. I am not Orthodox, but I am Jewish. And I've always had a no electronics Friday night. And I've recently extended it personally through all of Saturday just to give myself my a break.
LISABut the question I wanted to ask you today is something that you guys haven't really touched on, or maybe you did. I tuned in late. You seemed to have touched on it only fleetingly, and I wanted to quickly address the issue of teenagers, Facebook, and Facebook addiction. I'd like to talk about my own daughter real quick who is 19...
NNAMDIYes, you got to be real quick 'cause we're running out of time.
LISAYes. A sophomore in college. She just recently deactivated her Facebook account. I have a child who is very gifted with ADD, and the Internet can be very pernicious. She does intellectual things. She reads all the times. She talks to her friends. She's a quiet person. So this has become an outlet. But people don't address the addictive quality of this. This is a brilliant kid whose grades no longer reflect it because she cannot stop. Can you address that real quick?
DRUINYeah. There is research being done on Internet addiction. There is even -- there was a recent article on the marshmallow theory for kids and the ability of not being able to not get near technology. But you should definitely take a look at what's out there on the Internet from some of the universities. They'll help you with some of these things.
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid, Lisa, that's about it. We are out of time. We were hoping to make enough time at the end of the broadcast for John Gilroy to recite the entire poem, "Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth.
GILROYI'll do "The Tables Turned" then. I can do "The Tables Turned" in 20 seconds.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy is the director of business development at Armature Corp. and a budding poet.
NNAMDIAllison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research. She is co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. And Bill Harlow is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. Together, they are the Computer Guys & Gal. Thank them for joining us. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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