Experts call ISIS the best-funded non-state terrorist organization the U.S. has ever confronted. We explore how ISIS fills its coffers and how the international community is trying to shut off the funding pipeline.
Apple aims to hook into your car dashboard, as states around the country move to clamp down on distracted driving. The Computer Guys and Gal return for a fresh look at what’s new in the world of tech.
- Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
- 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 Director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures, a cloud-based systems integration company with a focus on Salesforce
Apps Of The Month
ToiletFinder is the biggest database in the world for finding public restrooms. It’s logged 6 million toilets, all reported by crowdsourcing.
Can I Stream.it tells you what content is available to watch, rent or buy, and from whom. This site helps you quickly find out where to go to watch what you want.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYeah, you know what that music means. They're here. From 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 and Gal. There's drama unfolding in the world of virtual money. The mysterious bitcoin had a bumpy month. An exchange where people trade bitcoin filed for bankruptcy after losing people coin, while a magazine purported to identify bitcoin's unknown founder. In the end, it just seems to add more mystery to the currency that's struggling to be taken seriously.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIDo you own bitcoins or any other virtual currency? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Would you trust a non-traditional currency, like bitcoin? You can also send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us a tweet @kojoshow, using the hashtag TechTuesday because, as we said earlier, they are here. Allison Druin, WAMU computer gal is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research. She is also co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Allison, welcome.
MS. ALLISON DRUINThank you. Welcome to you.
NNAMDIAnd John Gilroy, always jealous of Allison's title, is now...
MR. JOHN GILROYI want to be the director of the future. I do.
MR. JOHN GILROY...he's now director of business development for BLT Global Ventures. That's a cloud-based systems integration company and not a sandwich.
NNAMDIBLT Global Ventures, John Gilroy, welcome.
NNAMDIBill Harlow is hardware and software technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Incorporated, a title he is very happy with.
MR. BILL HARLOWIt might not...
NNAMDIBill Harlow, thank you for joining us.
HARLOWAnd thank you, sir.
NNAMDIBill, what's going on with bitcoin, the virtual currency that a lot of us still don't quite understand? A bitcoin exchange in Tokyo called Mt. Gox declared bankruptcy and said it lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the currency. How does a bitcoin exchange work?
HARLOWWell, basically it -- you've got this virtual coin that you can exchange money or services for, or you could mine. Mining is basically you set up a computer and you let it do work. There are a lot of -- there's a lot of accounting that goes on to make sure that bitcoins are legit -- that everything gets written down in the ledger, so to speak. And you get rewarded, either with bitcoins or with fees for that. So people have amassed them. They've gotten a lot of potential money there, if they have a lot of bitcoins. And Mt. Gox was one of the exchanges you'd go through to actual store bitcoins, exchange them for money.
HARLOWThey had a ton of customers' bitcoins stored there as well as some of their own. And about half a billion dollars worth have gone missing. They claim -- their CEO claims that there was a bug in the software that actually would issue payouts when it thought that there was a transaction that failed, when in fact it had gone through. So it'd repeatedly issue more and more bitcoins and now it's a bit of a mess. So some people think, is it a bug? Is it complete incompetence? Is it fraud? Were they hacked? And a lot of questions are still out there.
NNAMDIBecause people want to know, how do you lose $800,000 bitcoins?
HARLOWDon't look at me; I don't touch the stuff.
GILROYWe are looking at you, Bill.
DRUINBut, you know, what's interesting about bitcoins, okay, is that the reason a lot of people use it is that you can be anonymous in your payments with bitcoins. Okay, you don't have to use a real name to actually exchange money for bitcoins. And so many more vendors are agreeing to use it. But you know what's a little scary is, if you can't trace the person because there's fake names going on, it makes actually oversight of this stuff a lot harder. And so that's part of the confusion that's going on, is this -- is this anonymousness of everybody.
NNAMDIThe 64-million bitcoin question, of course, did John Gilroy have his retirement funds all in bitcoins?
HARLOWThat's a high-risk investment.
GILROYI was just thinking if, after the show, Kojo and I waltzed over to the Calvert Woodley store across the street here, and tried to pay in...
NNAMDIOur second home.
GILROY-- your second home -- and tried to pay with bitcoin, they would bounce us right out in the street. You know, it's a -- it's an unusual new way of paying for things. And I don't have a problem with, if I write someone a check, that they know what it is. I mean, what's the value of being anonymous? I mean what kind of drug deals are going on here, Bill?
DRUINWhat's a check? Come on, really. I mean, no one uses checks.
GILROYWhat exactly are you talking -- I mean there's no value to anonymous that I can see. But I think this is a value to someone. And obviously I don't think it's the whole-hearted, wholesome individuals that worry about being anonymous with large transactions.
HARLOWAlthough you do see some companies, like Overstock.com, are willing to accept bitcoins now, which is kind of interesting. I'm not sure -- I guess, are they speculating? They think they amass enough of these, maybe they'll appreciate in value? It's kind of weird to me. It's a weird time to be in with this digital currency.
GILROYAnd the only strong argument I can see is that, well, you know, Kojo buys stuff on Amazon, he buys stuff on eBay. There's no, you know, dollar bill coming out of his pocket, so why not make the transition to the next type of transaction? You know, just not enough regulation, of course. And I guess I flipped out on security.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Would you trust a non-traditional currency like bitcoin? In another bizarre story, Newsweek magazine, with a new owner, new look, purportedly outed the mysterious founder of bitcoin, sending reporters on a car chase through Los Angeles to catch up with him. But he says: You've got the wrong guy. I've never heard of bitcoin until my son told me that you were calling him up. Why is there such interest in the secretive bitcoin founder?
HARLOWI think part of it's, for the longest time, they thought that -- what's his name, Satoshi Nakamoto -- thought that the...
HARLOW...I think people thought that was a pseudonym. And now, apparently, that's the guys real name. And they want to know who is the shadowy figure behind this digital currency. And I think it's interesting because Newsweek's sticking by the story and, you know, I read it. It's fascinating. And the fact that he's denying that that's actually him.
NNAMDIHe got a free lunch out of it, didn't he?
HARLOWYeah, he got a free lunch, if nothing else. And he claims some of it was mistranslated too and that he is not, in fact, the man they're looking for. So I don't know. The whole story is fascinating to me because bitcoin has such a value among the people who are in to it, and there are so many unknowns.
NNAMDIAnd suppose this is just a very private individual whose name has been outed and he's now been transformed into a public figure against his own will? Who do we sue?
DRUINAh, well, that's exactly right. It's the who. It's the what. It's the how.
DRUINAnyway, no. I mean the problem is, is that this is -- there's too many question marks here having to do with bitcoin.
NNAMDIWhat does it all mean, therefore, for the future of bitcoin? Will paper money eventually become obsolete, replaced by virtual currency we spend and trade online?
DRUINWell, look at, you know, PayPal. People swear by PayPal. Okay? And, you know, and they would much prefer to use PayPal rather than credit cards, because of the people fearing credit card information being taken and so on. So, you know, who knows if any of this virtual -- if virtualness is good for our health or not?
NNAMDIWhat do you say, John Gilroy?
GILROYI say in the next 10, 15 years, we're going to go into stores and there's not going to be cash registers with little sections for that. I think it's going to be Smartphone based. And I think what's going to happen is, the current generation is going to have to really get good with encryption. And I agree with this guy, Snowden, when he talked about, look, encryption is going to work. And I think this is just a little baby-toe in the water to try to see what works. And maybe it'll be the Kojocoin. Who knows what's going to happen? It could be the Kojocoin that's going to work.
GILROYBut, I think they're going to make mistakes with this. But inevitably, you know, the first cars that were out there were electric cars. Then they went to gasoline, and then back and forth and they figured it out. And I think this is just a baby step in the whole world of high finance.
NNAMDII go to grocery stores in third world where you can buy your groceries with your -- with your Smartphone. So that's...
GILROYAnd it's yeah...
NNAMDI...that's definitely a wave of the future. It is the Computer Guys and Gal. They join us in studio. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Americans clearly love our Smartphone. We seem to spend all day tweeting, texting, checking email on our precious devices. So you may be surprised to learn that the old fashioned television still claims more of our time. A new study says adults spend five times longer watching television each day than we do using a cell phone. That study is showing that TV and radio are the top two...
NNAMDI...are the top two digital activities that claim our time. Is that true for you? Which digital device do you spend the most time on? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Allison, this new report from Nielsen says American adults spend 11 hours a day on electronic media. What do the numbers show about which devices we're using?
DRUINWell, it turns out that actually, after TV and radio, the next device is mobile. Okay? It's not sitting behind your computer, it's mobile. And what's even more interesting to me, being that I am a feminist at heart, is that women win on time spent using mobile. And, in fact, it turns out that in terms of mobile phones, it's by an hour and a half more per the time that they were measuring, that women are actually spending more time, and five hours more when women are using tablets versus when men are using tablets.
NNAMDIDoesn't that underscore a stereotype, that you talk more?
DRUINOh, no. It -- you know what it underscores? It's a stereotype of, well, more women have to be doing more of the chores in the family, more of the running between work and home, and so, guess what? They're doing their work on the run. They're using their mobile devices. So that's my theory.
NNAMDII was wrong, I guess.
DRUINThat's my theory. That's my theory. And I'm sticking to it.
GILROYBut fiber -- I'd like list who's calling and say, yeah, I spend five hours a day on television. I mean, I don't even know anyone...
NNAMDIA lot of people turn on their television sets when they get up in the morning and watch them or keep them in the background. It doesn't -- you don't actually have to be looking at the things.
NNAMDIFor two hours before they go to work...
HARLOWPut on the news while you're folding laundry, whatever.
NNAMDITurn them on when they get home in the evening.
DRUINYeah, but what's TV, really? What are we defining as TV? That's the problem, because are we talking on-demand TV? Are we talking about, you know, the TV that happens, you know, broadcasted? It's very different now.
NNAMDIBut what does this say about the power of old media over new? The fact that we're spending five hours a day watching television and listening to the radio close to three hours a day, what does that say about old media versus new?
GILROYWell, in the advertising community and the world that I know a little bit of, what's exploding is mobile advertising on handheld devices. And TV advertising and radio seems to be holding its own if you look at the projections for the next few years. And I think what you have to do, from my marketing perspective, is you have to spread your bet and you have to, you know -- I think if people are watching TV, what it means is that the TV companies out there are making money and selling ads. And believe it or not, this is a surprise, is that radio is very, very strong.
GILROYAnd I've heard many, many people -- in fact, I know kids in their 20s that listen to Kojo Nnamdi when they time shift, because they want to hear what he had to say and they're off at work. So it's fascinating the way things are changing.
DRUINYeah, but you know what I want to know? I want to know what it was like two years ago. What were the numbers two years ago? Has TV gone down that much, or is it staying the same? That's, to me, the more interesting numbers is how -- where's the transition?
HARLOWAnd your Smartphone's the transition.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Which digital device do you spend most time on? Give us a call or send us an email to email@example.com. You can sent us a tweet @kojoshow using the hashtag TechTuesday. John, we may watch a lot of TV, but if push comes to shove, we'd give it up faster than we'd part with our Internet or with our cell phones for that matter. According to a Pew Research Center study, which devices are we least willing to give up and which ones do we value the most?
GILROYYeah, this is another fun study, you know? They'd give up their cell phone, television, email, landline -- of course landline telephone -- and social media, and not give up the Internet. You know, I was talking to a 30-year-old guy the other day and I -- and he laughed when I said the word landline. He said, he sees those on TV. I just one on TV once, but he's never -- no one ever has landlines anymore. So, yeah, Internet's -- that's the number one, that's the go-to move.
NNAMDIOnly 17 percent of people said they wouldn't want to give up their landlines, or that would be their least favorite thing to do.
HARLOWGave mine up years ago.
NNAMDIHere is Mark in Rockville, Md. Mark, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARKHey, Kojo. Can you hear me okay?
NNAMDISo far. Yes.
MARKOkay. Good. So here's my answer to your question about which media, for your information, I'd be willing to give up. First, oh, I'm sorry -- which I listen to or view most. And I guess it's TV. I do a lot of the news broadcasts on Sundays and during the weekdays. And, while I'm in the car, I listen to the radio. It's predominantly WAMU.
MARKSo, there's the answer. But I have another question, if you don't mind.
MARKAll right. So the engine that really is the facilitator of things -- technology, communication medium -- what factor is an example of that. So I'm going to ask you and your panel, what is the next big thing that's going to be facilitated by the engine?
NNAMDIStarting with you, Bill Harlow. What's the next big thing that's going to be facilitated by Internet connectivity?
HARLOWYou think wearables, John?
GILROYI was picking on Allison before the show, because she's -- can go to the big wearables conference last week. She can combine fashion and digital stuff. . I mean, wearables is going to be explosive. I have students who are going out to this conference. And it's between smart watches and glasses. I mean, casually I see smart watches being -- just exploding everywhere.
HARLOWSo if we distill that down, it's basically just, you know, various devices with this internet baked in all communicating with each other.
DRUINWell, it's the internet of things. That's what people have been talking about for a while, which is, you know, how -- what's your landscape and where's the internet, you know, basically baked in, as you're talking about. Or where is it -- where are the sensors that can trigger things distributively. So you can -- you know, you can be in your car, sir, and you can be making sure that your heat goes up by the time you get home because you can do this with your cell phone.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones again. Curt in Rockville, Md. wants us to return to the topic of Bitcoins. Curt, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CURTHi, Kojo. I was wondering where -- I don't understand where they have come from. Did they just appear out of nowhere and then had value? And if they're created, who creates them and what's to stop them from creating more to get more...
NNAMDII'll turn you on to our gamer where all things originate.
HARLOWI mean, yeah, they did sort of just come out of the ether. They were...
DRUINFive years ago.
HARLOWFive years ago, is that how long it was?
HARLOW2009, thank you. And there -- it's interesting because it's really speculative. And they are maintaining kind of a baseline for how many coins they issue. Again, it's based on this so-called mining task and that takes a certain amount of time. That's why people buy really expensive gaming video cards that happen to be really good at being repurposed for the task of mining because it's just a lot of work, a lot of number crunching to pull this off.
HARLOWSo the words come slowly. They kind of trickle out. And there are already plans in place to, I think, what, is it 2017 when they're going to have the rewards that you get for mining? And then beyond that you'll only get monetary awards? So they're trying to limit the amount of Bitcoins out there. But, again, a lot of it is kind of coming from nowhere so to speak and it's sort of arbitrary and it's speculative.
DRUINNow there is a million -- there were a million customers that were affected -- at least a million customers that were affected by this Mt. Gox exchange, you know...
NNAMDII should mention Mt. Gox started as a market for trading cards used in (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIAnd it diversified in 2010 into an exchange for Bitcoin which was, at the time, a little known virtual currency launched, as they said, in 2009. It rapidly became the dominant Bitcoin exchange due to a lack of competitors. And the site had 1 million customers as of December, 2013.
DRUINYeah, and, I mean, now there are other exchanges out there. And will these other exchanges survive when -- you know, when the biggest one goes under? That's a good question.
GILROYWell, some people argue that it's a good thing that Mt. Gox happened because then the higher level, the more sophisticated exchanges, the more open exchanges are going to prosper because they're going to say, look we didn’t' do it like the bad guys did. We adhered to all the rules that the United States government has for financial transactions.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, the computer guys and gal will stay be here. You can join their conversation by calling 800-433-8850 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. The computer guys and gal are here. John Gilroy is director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures . That's a cloud-based systems integration company. 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. And Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
NNAMDIWe invite your calls at 800-433-8850. Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker hiding out in Russia spoke via Skype at the South by Southwest Music Film and Technology conference in Austin, Texas yesterday with an image of the constitution as his backdrop. He insisted we need more and better encryption in our electronic communication in order to protect our privacy. Give us a call, do you agree that more encryption is a good antidote to government surveillance, 800-433-8850? John Gilroy, what did Snowden say at South by Southwest yesterday?
GILROYI liked the way he's described as a scruffy crowd.
DRUINA crowd of 3,000.
GILROYScruffy -- of 3,000 scruffy folks. Yeah, he did it in a Google hangout which is really kind of trendy. And, you know, I think people are underwhelmed. What I've read is that people were walking out by the end of the hour so he couldn't hold someone's attention like Kojo Nnamdi can.
NNAMDIWell, it had to get through seven servers for them to hear it. And it's my understanding that the audio was not that great.
DRUINThe audio was not good.
GILROYIt's kind of like working with a translator. You say something and you have to pause and then there's a gap in there. Well, he said what we talked about earlier. He said, you know, the importance of learning more and more about encryption. Now I've taken several certifications for encryption but I'm just a baby at it. I think it's going to be almost like Algebra 101 in schools in the next few years to know about encryption.
HARLOWWe referred to -- you've heard of the Glen Greenwall test, right, and basically it has to be easy enough for him to use, the reporter that I worked with to make it viable. And right now you need to be kind of an expert to pull it off.
DRUINYeah, but you know, it was interesting because he took the tack that tech companies need to take the lead in protecting privacy, okay. It wasn't saying that let's teach government. It was, you know what? Government takes too long. Laws are slow, you know, but tools can restrain fast. And, look, what to me was most interesting is he wasn't speaking to a privacy conference. He was talking to South by Southwest. This is like she-she cool, hip happening. This is where Twitter emerged. This is entertainment, music. I mean...
HARLOWIt sounds like me.
NNAMDIWhy choose that audience, do you think?
DRUINWell, I think that audience chose Snowden, okay. I believe that audience said, what is hot and what is important and what is cutting edge sadly? Security and privacy. And -- I mean, because they had other companies coming out, talking about that as well. And, you know, that's where the rock stars are right now. And, look, to have 3,000 people show up, I mean, generally you have President Barack Obama shows up for 6,000. So, I mean, that's a big deal. Now, Snowden hasn't publicly done something like this before as broadly, so this was also a big deal.
NNAMDIAlso there and Bill, you mentioned Glen Greenwall. He was one of the speakers there. WikiLeaks found Julian Assange spoke by remote from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. These are rock stars of this movement so to speak. What's new in this debate, John Gilroy, over government surveillance and online security?
GILROYYou know, I think what's new is what Allison just said, the stage has shifted. Two weeks ago there was the RSA conference. And I was speaking to someone from a large company and they were out there. And they said increasingly people are starting to wear suits and ties at the RSA conference. And when I heard that I immediately thought that game shifter -- the security conference now is going to be South by Southwest. I think that's the big switch and changes is people actually going down to the consumer level.
GILROYI think that's the transition with Southwest. More the consumer level rather than the sophisticated RSA conference. And there was a black hat conference at fall DRSA conference but no news -- no big news, no Snowden speaking, no nothing. And this is where he chooses to speak. And I'm sure he wanted to be heard though. So I think the switch to more consumer based or end users rather than the corporate type of encryption.
NNAMDIBill Harlow, does this respond to a public concern in the wake of Snowden's revelation about all of our own privacy?
HARLOWI think it could, sure. I mean, we're already concerned enough with the privacy we're willing to give away to, you know, companies like Facebook. And at least then it's somewhat willingly, even though we maybe don't read the terms of service as deeply as we should. But then when it was revealed that there was a lot of data being gathered without our knowledge or implied consent, that became a bigger issue.
HARLOWAnd I sure like what you brought up as far as is this a new normal? We can just become comfortable with this environment.
DRUINWell, I mean, and look, there's a great TED Talk by Christopher -- and I can't say his last name very well (word?) something. He is from the -- wait, the American Civil Liberties Union, okay. And he gave a Ted talk that in the past few days as now -- I mean, over 100,000 additional people watched in comparison to, you know, the, you know, 180,000 people that were already listening and watching it. And he spoke about that governments are buying technology with the capacity to break into computers, steal documents, the whole nine yards.
DRUINAnd so people are caring. People are wondering what's going on here, you know, how do we stay safe or do we just ignore it because this is what's going to be?
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Back to bitcoins with Steve in Mexico City, Mexico. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVEHey, Kojo. I love your guests. It's been a long time since I last spoke with you, Kojo. I was on The Shelly Tromberg Show there. It must've been, I don't know, 20 -- 20 some odd years ago.
NNAMDIWell, and does remember Shelly Tromberg, yes.
STEVEYes, right. Listen, getting back to the bitcoin business, the question was why would they have value? The bitcoin has value because the founders, whoever they are -- that organization, however it's organized -- I have no stock in them, I don't know anything about them -- have pledged that they will limit the number of bitcoins that'll be created overtime.
STEVEJust as an example of how our own government's handled this particular problem, when the Federal Reserve -- which is neither Federal nor Reserve by the way -- when the Federal Reserve was created in 1912, you had a dollar worth $1. Today that same dollar is worth two pennies. So the governors walked off with 98 percent of the purchasing power of the dollar between 1912 and today.
NNAMDI...by printing too much money.
NNAMDI...by printing too much money. And your point is that the limited issue of Bitcoins is what's going to retain and increase its value.
STEVEYes. Because when you have $100 in the economy and 100 widgets for sale, the price is $1 per widget. If you print more money -- just say you have $200 -- and the price per widget is $2. The value of the widget is unchanged. Whatever you use the widget for, it's still the same. It's the purchasing power of the medium exchange that's...
NNAMDIAnd as a result of this, Steve, you think the bitcoin will not only sustain, but increase in value.
STEVEWell, it'll have to because of the way the market operates. I mean, if people have...
STEVE...if people aren't -- they all consumer bitcoin -- one final point. On the word inflation, this is critical, inflation is any increase in supply of money or credit or both. The result of inflation is price rise. You don't fight inflation. You do it or you don't do it. And the federal government just increases the currency rather than increase taxes. That's the reason for problems we have today.
NNAMDISteve, thank you very much for your call. When John Gilroy's appointed to the Federal Reserve Board, this is something that he'll be keeping in mind because we'll be...
DRUINI'll be moving to Mexico then.
NNAMDI...optioning his name. Here is Ebony in Tyson's Corner, Va. Ebony, did Paul answer your -- did our caller Steve answer your question?
EBONYSomewhat. I mean, I guess I just wanted to ask, you know, is it a fair assessment to say that bitcoin is just a black market currency? Is that a fair assessment?
NNAMDII haven't heard the term black market associated with it, Allison Druin.
DRUINNo, I haven't actually heard that but I do -- you do have a good point. I mean, it is the Wild West here in terms of government oversight. And this is part of -- you know, look, this is what you get. You either get the wild west and no government oversight or you get a lot of government oversight and how much value do you get for your currency?
GILROYI think the purist out there won't call it currency. They might call it a payment system. I don't think it has enough gravitas to be a currency yet. But I just think it's a test. So currency, not yet.
NNAMDIYou mentioned PayPal. Paul in Bethesda, Md. was offered another option. Paul, you're turn.
PAULYeah, it sort of segues off of Ebony's question which is, I read an article last week that sort of basically labeled bitcoin for folks that are up to no good, meaning (unintelligible) government. Call it a payment system, call it a currency, whatever you want. So last night I was on Overstock and I bought a bedroom set for about $5,000. And when I went to go check out, you know, you have your Visa and MasterCard, PayPal and then I saw my other option was bitcoin.
DRUINYeah, that's exactly...
PAULAnd my first thought was, wow, it's really here, because I always sort of -- I think of Silk Road and I think of, you know, other ways of sort of not using it for good purposes, if you will. And I was shocked to see it there. So my question is, you know, is it a fad or is it here to stay? Well, I guess John you just said it's a test. Is it here to stay and is it going to be eventually used as a payment system like a PayPal or it's -- is it for people that are up to no good that want to hide from the government to do things that are sort of not legal, if you will?
GILROYYou know, I was just connecting with our caller from Mexico City. Now there are a lot of people in this area who earn money and send it to Mexico and all through Latin America and different areas of the world. And this is a way to avoid some of the fees involved in sending -- and I've hears some stories about people sending money overseas. And just -- I mean, these folks are breaking their backs and taking and sending $10 to Bolivia and getting charged 2 bucks.
GILROYAnd so maybe this is another argument that not all countries take Visa and MasterCard, the 60 countries that don't. So there's some arguments there. I just don't think they're strong. And this anonymous thing gets me a little jumpy.
NNAMDIPaul, thank you very much for your call. Software is in the news this month. In April Microsoft will stop supporting its Windows XP, which means you're on your own if something goes wrong. And Apple issued software fixes for its operating system, one of which keeps hackers from detecting your keystrokes. Do you still use Windows XP? Are you going to upgrade to Windows 8.l? Give us a call. Let us know, 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIJohn, let's talk about software. People often wonder whether to update when something new comes out or to wait and let other people be he guinea pigs. With technical support and upgrades for Windows XP coming to an end, what advice do you have for PC users who are wondering, is it time for a change?
GILROYOld geysers like me think of an operating system and a hard drive and they have it in their desk at home -- their office at home. I think what's going to happen is the operating systems are going to go bye-bye and it's going to be software as a service like parts, like sales force. People using Gmail and sales force and the concept of operating systems is getting less and less important. Now XP's going to be around a while and...
HARLOWThat's a shame.
GILROYIt's a shame, but people aren't giving up. And look how many illegal copies of XP are out. It's considered to be 35 percent illegal copies of XP still floating around. So they've been around about -- but I think the big transition from the old way of doing things to the new way of doing things is going to be -- you're not going to buy any machine that's going to have an operating system to install. It's going to be part of the software-based system that you access everything online, like Gmail and Sales Force.
NNAMDIWhat do you say, Allison?
DRUINYou know, I think that -- here we go. You need glue between the different components of what you're using, okay. So you have -- you know, you have different apps and you have -- there are different pieces of software. But there is something that makes these things run.
NNAMDIIt's called an operating system.
DRUINThat's right, it's the operating system. And so what is usually the glue needed for these days? Well, a lot of security updates, a lot of making things work faster. A lot -- I mean, I always believed that there is going to be glue. It's probably going to become less and less transparent to people that there is the operating issue.
HARLOWRight. We may not care about it. We might just go out and buy a product. It isn't OS, but it's embedded. You don't really deal with it. It's simply there are all these features and ports. It's got WiFi and it just works.
GILROYThe four-letter word is D-A-A-S, Desktop as a Service. And I see that's what's coming down. Well, you don't have to worry about those updates. The system will take care of it which is...
HARLOWExcept for the poor guys living in rural parts of America and still have dial-up, but other than that it'll be great.
NNAMDIBill, Apple had a rough time last month when it came to security flaws in its new operating system. What happened? Who was affected? What should iPhone and iPad users do to protect ourselves?
HARLOWSo the big one was what was known as -- it had to do with SSL. And if you ever go and shop on Amazon, for example, you might see a little padlock in the location bar. And in that case things are encrypted. There's a certificate that is passed between you and Amazon and it's legit. And you can now safely trust that person and send your data and you're sharing the key.
HARLOWNow in the case of this bug, it would leave itself exposed for the call-the-man-in-the-middle attacks where you could essentially fake that that certificate's legit and not be who you say you are. So Apple patched it for the iPhone and iPad within a few days. And there's been yet another IOS update 7.1 which includes that as well as other features and a lot of tweaks to the way it works.
HARLOWSo basically if you have one of those devices and you see that little number in your settings app, that means there's an update available, plug in your phone so it's got power, plug in your iPad so it's got power. And let that run and let it do its thing. And if you're running MAC OS 10.9 Maverick, it's the same deal going to the app store and check for software updates.
NNAMDIOn therefore to Paul in Silver Spring, Md. Paul, your turn.
PAULHello, everyone. I am a long term XP user and I just haven't migrated because there really wasn't anything I thought was not buggy. What would be the panel's recommendations on what I should move to? Should I jump all the way up to 8 point whatever or something sooner?
HARLOWWell, let's go back to Mexico City, siete. I think Windows 7 is for you, you know. I'm not too thrilled with Windows 8 and 8.1 is not charming me either.
HARLOWI'll back that up.
GILROYI think 7 is the answer. That's it. Windows 7.
NNAMDIPaul, I'll have you know that I jumped from XP to 8.1, but then I know absolutely nothing.
HARLOWOh, how do you like it, Kojo? I'm just curious.
NNAMDIIt's working for me so far.
HARLOWYeah, it works great. It's just I find the user interface to be really, really clumsy.
NNAMDIYes. It is kind of clumsy.
PAULWell, you all know what the best software is.
PAULThe one you know how to use.
DRUINOh, good one.
NNAMDIAnd on that we'll go to a break. Thank you very much for your call, Paul. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You can also send email to email@example.com or send us a tweet @kojoshow using the hashtag TechTuesday. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We were muttering among ourselves here with the computer…
GILROYMutter among yourselves.
NNAMDI…with the computer guys and gal. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician from Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. 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. And John Gilroy's director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures, a cloud-based systems integration company.
NNAMDII'd like to go straight to the telephones and June, in Fairfax, Va. June, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JUNEHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I had a question. I read somewhere that a lot of the ATM machines are operating on XP software. And I was wondering if you knew if there was a plan to update that or is that…
NNAMDIThat scurrying sound you hear is our computer guys…
GILROYScratching their heads.
NNAMDI…heading to their ATMs.
GILROYWhat's an ATM? That I don't know. That's a bit of proprietary information. Who would even know that? I don't know. I don't even know what OS it uses.
HARLOWI think a lot of them, yeah, they do use some form of embedded Windows in many cases. And I think I might have even seen one years ago, that blue screen. That's how I kind of knew. It's not the same as what you would install on your computer. It's something different entirely, but that said, I don't know what Microsoft's plans are to keep those up to date and patch. And I would think that if you're running an ATM you kind of want to keep those as up to date and patched up and secure as possible.
DRUINYeah, they may be running a version of that, but it's probably a special version that has security and different kinds of things embedded in there so that it's not the kind of thing that you're using right now.
NNAMDINow, June, if we were not supposed to be using our ATMs past June you would be notified of that very well in advance.
JUNELet's hope so. Thank you.
NNAMDIBy the way, what's your PIN number? No. Thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIAllison, Apple is working closely with several auto makers to create a system that lets you operate your iPhone from the touchscreen on the car dashboard. How will it work? Which cars will have it?
GILROYBad, bad, bad.
DRUINWell, now this goes to my obsession with the fact that I hate the interface on the software in my car.
HARLOWI didn't even bring this up. I want to know about this because I know you're probably dying for a change.
DRUINI have suffered. I even threatened my car dealer with the lemon law.
HARLOWWhoa, with a machine gun? With the lemon law?
DRUINWith the lemon law -- that this software was so bad that it would, like…
GILROYWhat software is this?
DRUINIt was rebooting -- my Ford Explorer's software was rebooting the whole car. Anyway, going back to -- so…
HARLOWI'm getting out of this studio.
DRUINI get all excited when I see CarPlay, all right? And it is actually -- you just plug in your iPhone -- it's got to be 5 Series -- into the normal little jacks they have there. And what happens is it will stream pieces of your iPhone's information into the screen of certain car manufacturers' cars. Now, of course, aren't they the upscale ones that work first? So for 2014 models you've got Volvo and Ferraris and Mercedes. You know the average person's going to be able to get that.
DRUINBut in the future, Ford, Chevy, Nissan, Mitsubishi, they've all signed up. And so what are the kinds of things that you would do in that screen? Phone calls, maps, music, even messages, via Siri listening and you can dictate. So it's an interesting concept. But you know what the problem is? So it locks you into an Apple iPhone series for a car. So can you imagine? Oh, I'm sorry I can't get that kind car because it doesn't go with my iPhone. I mean, really?
HARLOWYou know what? I'd put up with that. I would. Because the lock-ins you'd see with a lot of the built-in -- especially with navigation systems in the past, it's like, okay, I have to pay three times the market value for a nav system from whoever built the car. And then they may or may not update the maps with time and you're stuck with that. So the idea of like, okay, I'm locked into a really smartphone platform with a ton of apps available and a lot of flexibility and a history of issuing updates. I'm more inclined to go that route.
GILROYKojo, did you say put down the phone and drive? Did you say that?
NNAMDII was about to say, Allison, Apple's CarPlay comes at a time when states, including the one you live in…
NNAMDI…Maryland, are trying to crackdown on distracted driving.
GILROYYes. Right there. Exhibit A.
NNAMDIWill this help or will this hurt that effort?
DRUINOh, I think it's going to help.
HARLOWI think it'll help, yeah.
DRUINBecause, I mean, right now, I'm like Bill. I don't like the interface of my maps on my display in my car. And so I am using my iPhone, which is like, you know, strapped to the side of the dashboard so that I can listen to what it's saying, yeah.
HARLOWHere's what I use my iPhone for in my car. I pop it into a little dock and it is my GPS and effectively my radio.
HARLOWThose are things you've had in your car for quite a while.
GILROYWhat you're supposed to do is throw your phone at those guys who cut you off. That's what the phone's for.
DRUINOh, I knew it was something.
NNAMDIOkay. Let's take a look at some tech innovations. Stop throwing phones at people. Tech innovations that affect everyday life, from coffee to crosswalks. Question for you, do you make coffee in a single-cup machine? Would you buy a coffeemaker that only worked with its own brand of pods?
HARLOWThis is important, very important.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Bill, coffeemakers that use pods to make a single cup of coffee are ubiquitous, but now one company, Keurig, is trying to shut out competition for the pods. The company says its next gen coffeemakers will only use Keurig-branded pods. Not the cheaper ones made by competitors. Does this mean that your morning java just got more expensive?
HARLOWI've got to imagine within reason. I'm sure they're not doing it for you. So, yeah, it might go up in price a little bit. But it sort of reminds of when you started seeing chips embedded in ink cartridges for your ink jet printer. And now those things are worth more than bitcoin.
GILROYThey really are.
HARLOWI mean $15 for a few milliliters of ink. So my take on this is, well, it's a good reason to stop drinking K cups. I'm not a fan of the coffee in general. So switch to something else, in my opinion. But it's bizarre to me that you'd something as mundane as make a cup in the morning and now you're worried about DRM in the kitchen.
GILROYDigital rights management in the kitchen.
NNAMDIWhat do you say, John?
GILROYJust get a pour over. Bill, could come over to your house and pour that coffee over, a little (word?) coffee.
GILROYYeah, that's the way to go.
NNAMDIAllison, London, the city, is testing a new crosswalk system that would put cameras on traffic lights and that would result in keeping the walk signal on longer if there are lots of people crossing the street. Will this ultimately keep pedestrians safer?
DRUINWell, maybe. I mean they're calling it a smart crossing system. So lots more people standing there and the system figures it out from a video camera. And then it slows things down. The only thing is is what happens if there's -- I don't know. I drive around in New York City. And I see mobs and mobs of people constantly going. What's that going to do to traffic? I don't know.
DRUINAnd they are talking about their next generation is going to look at cyclist detection. And I've got to tell you that would be really useful because those cyclists can run over cars and pedestrians at the same time.
NNAMDIDo you ever race across the street before the walk light ends? Can technology help make crosswalks safer? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Can it recognize an inebriated person? I'm not going to name…
HARLOWWatch it. Watch it.
NNAMDITrying to make it across the street and slow down.
HARLOWWell, all my information about London comes from watching the TV show, "Sherlock." And those guys just running through traffic all the time. So what are they going to do with these guys running, chasing bad guys through traffic?
NNAMDIHere now is Ismail, in Germantown, Md. Ismail, your turn.
ISMAILYes. Good afternoon. And thank you for taking my call. My question is about the security, about the government intrusion on people's online activity. I believe there are many people like me who on some primeval level we believe that this is wrong, but on the other hand we're very ambivalent as to taking action. I'm trying to settle this conflict.
ISMAILBecause on the one hand, yes, I'm not very happy about government seeing what I'm doing, and there is no implied privacy anymore every time I approach my computer or even my phone. What can be more intimate than a cell phone, right? On the other hand, we think -- many people like me whom I've spoken to, we think if this is going to prevent a major grotesque terrorist act, maybe they should be doing it. And I believe people like me should be convinced to no longer be ambivalent and to sort of have a clearer understanding of why this is wrong that the government is spying on us.
DRUINWell, this goes to public discussion of this. Okay. And the problem is, until a few years ago or even until Snowden outed the government, very little public discourse really happened about this. And people didn't question, oh, the government's always doing something good for me. Or if they did, it was in small spurts.
DRUINThis is the longest period of time that I can remember, at least since I've been an adult, that people are actually saying, let's have a discussion about this. Is the convenience worth it? Is the safety worth it? Or are we living in a police state? There's a lot of extreme ideas going on here.
NNAMDIThere are those who argue, Ismail, that if you were, for instance, demonstrating against a pipeline that the government is interested in building, and the government also knew something private about you that you did not want disclosed, such as an illness you may be suffering from that you did not want your employer to know. Would it be okay for the government to try to get you to desist by having an agent come to your home and say if you continue doing this, we'll tell your employer what we know about your health?
ISMAILNo. I absolutely do not try to make an argument and justify the government's actions. What I'm trying to say is -- I lost my train of thought. But what I'm trying to say is…
NNAMDIThis is the future, huh?
ISMAILExactly. Maybe somebody's influencing my thoughts. What I'm trying to say, there are way too many people like us. I mean I'm a single gay man and I have a very lively social life. And of course I don't want people getting into my phone. Of course I don't want the implied right that this is okay. But on the other hand, I know I'm not doing anything illegal.
ISMAILAnd if the U.S. government doesn't do it -- let's be honest -- many of these Google people came from Russia. Russia is a very talented country. Sooner or later they're going to catch up. And the Russian intelligence is going to be doing it, the Chinese…
NNAMDIWell, I think that underscores the point that Allison was making earlier. And that is that's why people feel we need to be having a national dialogue about this because you are openly gay. Were you not openly gay and you were not interested in having people know that, that would be something that somebody who's spying on you could reveal and you may not like it, but I guess that's why we're either going to or not going to have the dialogue, Allison.
DRUINYeah. No, absolutely. And I applaud you for raising the issue. And, please, continue to keep talking about it because it's really important for people to understand what's going on out there.
NNAMDIIshmael, thank you very much for your call. John, in the digital world of huge deals for new apps, maybe it's no surprise that an Irish company that makes a hugely popular mobile game is going public. The company behind the game Candy Crush wants to sell shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Ninety-three million people reportedly play Candy Crush every day. Ninety-three million people.
GILROYIt's amazing, isn't it?
DRUINAnd they're all on Facebook.
NNAMDIWhat happens to shareholders when the game gets stale and people move on?
GILROYWell, let's talk about speculating in bitcoin and speculating in stocks. I mean in 2012 these folks didn't make anything. And like a typical game company they've got one product. And they're making a lot of money with that one product. And they made $568 million in profit on 1.8 billion in sales. I mean, that's a pretty healthy margin there. And I don't know what's going to happen in the next year.
GILROYI'm very worried. It's almost like a boom and bust cycle for so many different -- you know, 100 years ago you used to boom-bust with all kinds of different metals and manufacturing. And I think this is a boom-bust. I would be very wary of investing in it.
HARLOWLikewise. Remember Zynga?
GILROYThat's similar what happened, but $568. I mean so what happens is people are in this game and they generate revenue from people wanting to complete games. And I just can't believe would spend that kind of money. But what's this like $17 a month people spend on that.
NNAMDIIf they go public on the New York Stock Exchange, Allison Druin, will you start playing?
GILROYKojo, 70 percent are mobile users. So the people sitting at the bus stop, waiting for the bus, they could be playing the Irish game and give them money.
DRUINI don't do it, sorry. Forget it.
NNAMDIOkay. Allison, your favorite app this month? We have gone to the app of the month feature of this broadcast, starting with Allison, is a crowd-source tool for people in need of a restroom to go to.
DRUINIt's called Toilet Finder.
NNAMDIAnd so we have come to the end of today's broadcast.
HARLOWNews of the hour. News and weather coming up in two minutes.
GILROYWe all joke, but when this broadcast is over everybody's going to be downloading this.
NNAMDIHow does this work, Allison Druin?
DRUINOkay. All right. It's crowd sourcing, for toilets. People post about toilets.
GILROYAre there ratings?
DRUINThere are ratings.
GILROYOh, okay. I'm in. I'm in.
DRUINThey're called squats. Okay. And there are profiles, which mean meet your…
HARLOWThis makes perfect sense.
DRUINMeet your janitor. It's hysterical. Anyway, there are top sitters, there are…
GILROYNow, we're not going to go this way. Bill, what's your favorite app of the month there, buddy boy?
GILROYSo let's clean this up.
NNAMDI…app of the month is for anyone who likes to stream movies and TV shows.
NNAMDIBut has trouble figuring out what's available where.
NNAMDIHopefully, you won't be watching your movie on a toilet someplace, but go ahead.
HARLOWBut if you have an iPad -- I'm just saying.
GILROYThere you go. Play Candy Crush, do whatever you want.
HARLOWSo CanIStream.IT is a great website.
NNAMDII went to that website this morning.
GILROYYou found like Candy Crush friendly toilets in D.C.
HARLOWSo if you've got various services you subscribe to like, you know, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, whatever, instead of going to each website and saying, do you have it? Nope. Do you have it? Nope. Do you have it? Nope. You go to this website, put in the title, it shows you who can stream it, who's renting it and who has it for sale. So one-stop shopping and you go right to the source.
NNAMDII put in a 1963 movie that they said only available by DVD, pal. (unintelligible).
GILROYBlack and white.
NNAMDIDo you have an app of the month, John Gilroy? I'm afraid to ask after Allison.
GILROYThe person I talked to -- I refer to this indirectly, he's the CIO of a company called HP. And he was at the (unintelligible) Conference, a telephone conference with him, and he told me about some of modules involved in creating some of these apps and I got freaked out. And I said, unh-unh, I'm staying away from lots of these apps. I'm just getting worried. So I guess you get involved in the security aspect of some of these apps and you're kind of scared. So I'm scared this month. No app for me, thank you.
HARLOWAll right. (unintelligible)
NNAMDII would recommend Allison's favorite app for you.
GILROYYes. Candy Crush Toilet Finder.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy is director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures, that's a cloud-based systems integration company. Hopefully, he'll not be back. Allison Druin is…
GILROYI hear that every month.
NNAMDI…chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research.
GILROYCall her for a good toilet.
NNAMDICo-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. She's got to go. Bill Harlow…
GILROYThat's two out of three.
NNAMDIBill Harlow is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. Just me and you, Bill.
GILROY(unintelligible) computer guys.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
The Red Cross response to HurricaneS Sandy and Isaac are in the spotlight this week after an investigation by Pro Publica and NPR revealed failures by the organization in multiple areas, as well as a pattern of diverting resources for PR purposes.
It's a chapter of D.C.'s cultural history that's the subject of on onslaught of new documentary projects: the punk movement that took root in our area during the 1980s and 1990s. But this new wave of nostalgia has provoked tough questions too: is it overkill? Where did the creative and activist energy that fueled the art go? We ponder the past and the future of punk music in the Washington area.