It’s the first Tuesday of the month, and The Computer Guys & Gal are back with all the latest news from the world of technology. We’re sharing recommendations for Cool tech ideas for Santa’s Gift List and the Best and Worst stories of 2010.


  • John Gilroy WAMU Computer Guy; and Director of Business Development at SolutionsDevelopers
  • Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and Associate Dean for Research, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
  • Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.

Items Heard on Today’s Show

Holiday Gift Ideas for Techies

  1. Microsoft’s Kincet

  2. App Magnets

  3. Wrist Charger

  4. Duct Tape Wallet

  5. Think Geek e-t-shirt

  6. iPod wrist-strap

  7. Aquapac

  8. SmartPhone

  9. Nook Color

  10. Floor-cleaning Robot

  11. Xbox 360

  12. OnLive MicroConsole

  13. Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter

  14. Magic Wand remote control

  15. Peace of mind, data backup

  16. Make a child’s hospital stay more bearable

And a few less festive items

  1. Is Comcast a “toll-collecting, nuke-wielding hydra”?

  2. RIM getting more serious about design, acquires The Astonishing Tribe


  1. One Billion Dollars in Sales


  1. Should listeners connect to their bank from a coffee shop?

Reverse Mentorship

  1. Why Your Business Should Consider Reverse Mentorship

Competition in Holiday Sales

  1. Steve Wozniak predicts Android will beat the iPhone

  2. Tablets expected to give PC sales to take a “shellacking”

  3. Web 2.0: Google CEO Sees Android Phones Replacing Credit Cards

  4. How to Pick Your Next Computer

  5. Apple Ending XServe Sales

YouTube on Mobile

  1. YouTube Mobile Use Exploding

Washington Post Columnist Reviews New Post App

  1. Friend of the show Rob Pegoraro reviews Post App


  • 12:06:42

    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. Today is Dec. 7. It's a day that will live in infamy, and not just because it's the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II. Nope, today will live in infamy because Mac-enthusiast Bill Harlow will agree that Microsoft has actually done it, come up with the must-have Christmas gift.

  • 12:07:23

    MS. ALLISON DRUINAll right.

  • 12:07:23

    MR. JOHN GILROYExcellent, excellent. Thank you.

  • 12:07:25

    NNAMDIKindle-addicted Allison Druin admits the Nook Bookreader is cool, and it's so pretty, too. And John Gilroy, what does he do to be celebrated and remembered? Oh, yeah. Today, he's promised to be interesting and insightful.

  • 12:07:40

    GILROYFor a change.

  • 12:07:40

    NNAMDIMark your calendars for that. That's a first.

  • 12:07:43

    NNAMDIAnyway, with cold winds outside, we've got hot air inside with the Computer Guys & Gal, and you know our guests today. They are John Gilroy, he is director of business development at What the heck is that are you wearing on your nose?

  • 12:07:58

    GILROYThis is being festive. This is being festive, you know?

  • 12:08:02

    DRUINYou look like a...

  • 12:08:02

    NNAMDICould you describe for our listeners exactly what you are wearing?

  • 12:08:05

    GILROYWell, if you can imagine Bill Redlin as Santa Claus with a big beard and then me as Rudolph, that would be the correct image here of WAMU for the holidays.

  • 12:08:12

    MR. BILL HARLOWThe red nose wasn't the whiskey?

  • 12:08:14

    NNAMDIDoes the red nose...

  • 12:08:14

    HARLOWMost people think it's the whiskey, but it's...

  • 12:08:15

    DRUINI thought it was a clown, actually.

  • 12:08:18

    GILROYNo, no, no, no, no.

  • 12:08:19

    NNAMDIMake the red nose light up for me, please.

  • 12:08:22

    DRUINIt's got a little tech thing there, and it's flashing for him.

  • 12:08:24

    GILROYI think I need -- is it flashing (word?) ? I guess this is too high tech for me to get.

  • 12:08:25

    NNAMDIAnd it's light -- it's positively disgusting. Bill Harlow is a former math genius and now works on PCs and Macs with Mid-Atlantic Consulting. Bill, thank you for not wearing a false nose.

  • 12:08:38

    HARLOWI do what I can.

  • 12:08:40

    NNAMDIAllison Druin is associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland where she also directs the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Allison, thank you for being.

  • 12:08:52

    DRUINOh, thank you so much.

  • 12:08:53

    GILROYYou know, my New Year's resolution is to get a better title than that. I mean...

  • 12:08:56

    GILROYBut I'm going to beat that next year. And I'm going to just challenge -- I'm going to beat you in about 10 months. I want, really, a long title.

  • 12:09:00

    HARLOWYou should give him one.

  • 12:09:02

    NNAMDIOf course, you, too, can join this madfest (sic) at 800-433-8850. Or you can go to our website,, join the conversation there, send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or e-mail to Bill, many of us may not believe our ears when you hear it, when you say it, but you say Microsoft may be the star of this season's Christmas story. The reason, Kinect?

  • 12:09:30

    HARLOWYeah, it's a really cool device. So the Wii made motion control in video games popular, and Microsoft took it to the next level with their Kinect, which is basically this kind of ominous-looking HAL-like thing you stick under your TV. It's got several cameras and sensors. And it records your movements in three dimensional space, so to -- you don't have to hold these controllers. Your entire body moves, and it picks up on it. So you can dance, you can, you know, play sports, or as Allison, I'm sure, can tell us, you can even play with a tiger.

  • 12:09:58

    DRUINYeah, yeah, we -- okay, so it connects -- you should know that it connects you to your Xbox 360.

  • 12:10:03


  • 12:10:03

    DRUINAll right. This is, like, a big deal. All right? We have a Wii, but, of course, what did Ben do? Within 10 seconds, we had to have an Xbox. And so it doesn't have that many games yet. But, of course, my kids are totally in love with "Kinectimals," and you're teaching an animal with your whole body how to play dead, how to jump, how to run, twist around. You know, my kids are not totally into "Dance Central," but that's supposed to be the hot one. My 5 and 11-year-old are just not into that. But I'm trying out the "Your Shape" for the fitness nut in me. Okay? But it does come with "Kinect Adventures," which is sort of fun.

  • 12:10:43

    GILROYYou know, it has facial recognition, too. That's the amazing apart.

  • 12:10:46


  • 12:10:46

    GILROYI mean, Wii has all -- hits on all accounts.

  • 12:10:47

    HARLOWAnd voice control, too. You can actually control your games in your Xbox with it, too. What's cool, though, is it's not just for kids. A lot of hackers and programmers have actually taken their Kinects, they hook them up to their PC over USB, and they've done some really cool things. They made drivers, so they can actually read what's coming out. One individual actually took two Kinects and hooked them up at, like, 90-degree angles because it can actually record and, essentially, scan a 3D space. And you've got a 3D version of your space onscreen that you can rotate and analyze.

  • 12:11:15

    DRUINA lot of research is going to be influenced by this.

  • 12:11:17


  • 12:11:17

    DRUINIn fact, mark my words, next -- by next year, there's going to be published papers, scholarly papers on how to use Kinect.

  • 12:11:23

    HARLOWI can't wait.

  • 12:11:24

    DRUINI'm there. I'm ready. I'm ready to go.

  • 12:11:25

    GILROYFolks up at MIT are attacking it.

  • 12:11:28

    NNAMDIAnd it's spelled K-I-N-E-C-T, Kinect. You're joining the Computer Guys & Gal. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. What other uses do you see for the 3D technology in 2011 and 2012? For instance, will we soon be able to, "try on the clothing we buy online"?

  • 12:11:48

    DRUINOh, yeah, you'll be able to try on clothing. You'll be able to -- you know, the notion of menus that we have today are going to be a thing of the past. You're going to be -- just like on many of your cell phones, you do a little, you know, squeeze and tick and flick and all that. It's going to be a full-body interaction, and then the combination of the full bodies with multiple bodies because now you don't need a controller per person. Now you don't need, you know, to only be contained in one space. It's going to make things really, really different in the future.

  • 12:12:23

    HARLOWYou know, I used to study the future by watching a TV show called "The Jetsons."

  • 12:12:28

    HARLOWAnd "The Jetsons" had...

  • 12:12:28

    NNAMDIWhy am I not surprised?

  • 12:12:29

    HARLOWAnd "The Jetsons" had it wrong. They thought it was going to be a two-dimensional future. Well, guess what? It may be a three-dimensional future.

  • 12:12:34

    GILROYBut no flying cars.

  • 12:12:35

    DRUINNo flying cars yet. Yeah, I'm ready.

  • 12:12:37

    HARLOWWell, we don't know yet.

  • 12:12:37

    DRUINYeah, soon, too.

  • 12:12:38

    NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, speaking of shelling out cash for gifts this time of year, were you surprised to see more than a billion dollars spent on Cyber Monday?

  • 12:12:46

    GILROYWhat a number, you know? Geez, I'm going to start -- I'm bragging here, but I don't want to brag. But 10 years ago...

  • 12:12:52

    DRUINHe's going to brag.

  • 12:12:53

    GILROY...I did a spot with -- on C-SPAN with the secretary of commerce. And we talked about e-commerce and e-business and everything else, and who knew that a decade later -- that's a big number. I mean, $10 billion, that's a whole lot and huge.

  • 12:13:03

    HARLOWYou know, I would say this, I hate going to the mall, so I can see that being a very realistic number. Anything I could do to stay out of that space, I will do it.

  • 12:13:10

    NNAMDIAnd 10 years ago, our former computer guy, Tom, I thought, was the only person who used to do his shopping on Cyber Monday. By Cyber Monday, he was finished for the entire season.

  • 12:13:19

    HARLOWThat's right.

  • 12:13:19

    NNAMDINow, the entire world has joined him. Well, who knew? 800-433-8850 is the number to call. Bill, some say the Grinch this season is Comcast, but Comcast is pointing the finger at NetFlix and saying NetFlix is the real Grinch. What's going on?

  • 12:13:37

    HARLOWYeah, I think NetFlix is being naughty for stealing some of their eyeballs away from Comcast TV contents. So the deal is Comcast -- obviously, very popular, a lot of broadband subscribers use Comcast. And a company called Level 3 Communications, they signed a deal with NetFlix to help distribute content and, basically, you know, distribute the loads so that if people want to stream movies from NetFlix, they can get it efficiently without waiting, without buffering and in higher quality.

  • 12:14:03

    HARLOWWell, guess what? A lot of people use that, and Comcast is really concerned. They're claiming that this is putting a huge load on their network and that Level 3, rather, needs to pay more for this privilege. So the argument is going back and forth. You know, Level 3 is saying it's, you know, a net neutrality issue, that it's not like it is passing data through Comcast to go elsewhere, that Comcast subscribers specifically want this and requested it and that's coming to them. And this is how they have to deliver it. Why should they have to pay more? You know, it's possibly coincidence, but, you know, Comcast, they sell a lot of TV packages, too.

  • 12:14:35

    NNAMDIIf they would charge less...

  • 12:14:37

    NNAMDI...for their movies and TV packages, we might be...

  • 12:14:39

    GILROYIt's a fight over the pipes.

  • 12:14:40 a more competitive race.

  • 12:14:41

    GILROYI mean, it should have been predicted, but they're just viciously fighting over this. And it's a big dollar fight, and (sounds like) we'll have to see how it plays out this year.

  • 12:14:49

    NNAMDIWell, John Gilroy, these days, it seems everyone is going mobile, so we may need to remind everyone of basic advice about using public Wi-Fi in this day of iPads and smart apps. Should I just assume everything is secure? Or should I assume, on the other hand, that nothing is secure?

  • 12:15:04

    GILROYYeah, you know, we've talked about this many times. We've given all kinds of advice, and I just want to let the listeners know there's a guy here from Slate -- his name is Farhad Manjoo, and I thought Kojo Nnamdi was a strange name.

  • 12:15:15

    GILROYBut this guy's name is Farhad Manjoo.

  • 12:15:17

    NNAMDIWe will ignore that.

  • 12:15:18

    GILROYAnd he has a great little article, and he talks about, you know, some of the strengths and weaknesses of going into a coffee shop and using the wireless. And he has good guidelines there, and I think it's a great article for everyone to read if they're considering any kind of serious activity. If you're going to go to Starbucks and -- I don't know-- surf the Web or do something simple, it's one thing. But if you're going to go to a coffee shop like that and then maybe do some financial transactions or something serious, then you have to be wary. You have to be careful. The basic advice is, is if you have a VPN, it's probably going to be safe. If you're just relying on the coffee shop's login, then it's probably going to be risky. So you have to be careful. There's apps or new utilities out there now. I can sit in a coffee shop and tool around and see who Kojo's (unintelligible).

  • 12:15:58

    HARLOWYeah, you have no idea who's in there with you.

  • 12:16:00

    GILROYYeah, so it's a -- so, I think, you have to wary, and it's becoming everywhere. And, I think, what you have to do is be wary about that. And I think this guy Manjoo has really good advice, and I liked it a lot.

  • 12:16:10

    NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, helping to keep fear alive...

  • 12:16:12

    HARLOW(unintelligible) slogan.

  • 12:16:15

    NNAMDI...doing his part. Here is Liz in Woodbridge, Va. Liz, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:16:20

    LIZOh, good morning, Kojo. I have a kind of a backwards question, I guess. Don't know much about the games. My son has a Wii, and he has a PlayStation. But my question is, about 2004 -- I think it was -- someone gave us an EyeToy for the PlayStation, and it was fabulous. The kids loved it, but they never came out with a lot of games. And, to me, it seems very similar to this new Kinect thing 'cause it has no controllers. It just picks up your motion on the screen. I was just wondering if they could explain why Sony didn't get further with that, or why that didn't take off like the Wii and now the Kinect?

  • 12:17:01

    NNAMDIDo you remember the name of it, Liz? Or probably Bill Harlow probably knows.

  • 12:17:04

    LIZYeah, it was an EyeToy.

  • 12:17:06

    HARLOWYeah, the EyeToy...

  • 12:17:06

    LIZIt was called an EyeToy.

  • 12:17:07

    HARLOWIt was...

  • 12:17:08

    NNAMDIThe EyeToy.

  • 12:17:08

    HARLOWIt's just a USB camera, and it could only do so much. It was built to be pretty affordable. I think it was around 50 bucks. So I think that was the main thing. They did -- you know, they experimented with it. It didn't go anywhere. They just canned it, and it wasn't really until the Wii came out that motion control became the thing. So now, you know, with the Kinect, it really isn't just a camera. It has an infrared sensor. It actually -- I think it has two cameras to pick you up in three dimensions. It has autofocus and even a motor to, like, adjust to look at you, so it's pretty advanced stuff. I think, also, it helps that the Xbox 360 is a lot more powerful than the PlayStation 2 was, so it can process a lot of this better. So I think it's a combination of new technology and the fact that Nintendo showed how to do it that is catching on. And, hopefully, the stuff will be here to stay.

  • 12:17:51

    DRUINYeah, know -- and should know that Intel Play actually -- which no longer exists at this point -- but also had some games that used blue-screen kinds of devices for full-body motion as well, and this was in the '90s, the late '90s, early 2000. And so this is not startlingly new. I mean, this has been in the research labs, but basically the technology just hasn't been fast enough to make it a really compelling experience. So that's why that a lot of people didn't jump in.

  • 12:18:23


  • 12:18:24

    LIZYeah, and we really liked it. We were waiting for more, but it never came.

  • 12:18:28

    NNAMDIWell, keep waiting, Liz.

  • 12:18:31

    NNAMDI(word?) more is not coming. Thank you very much for your call, Liz. Have a happy holiday. We move on to Terrence in Laurel, Md. Terrence, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:18:44

    TERRENCEHi, Kojo. I bought a laptop for my son, and one of the dumb things I didn't do was buy the additional software for it, like Microsoft Office and stuff like that. I'm trying to find what's the best way to buy it? Or should I just pick the whole thing -- take the laptop back to the store and tell them install it? Or should I just buy him an Apple instead?

  • 12:19:06

    GILROYWell, I'll give you a legal answer.

  • 12:19:06


  • 12:19:09

    GILROYNow, legally, I think what you want to do is go into a big-box store and walk out with a box of Microsoft Office, which could be $500. I mean, it could be something like that. I think what most folks do in order to comply with the law is they're students or they sign up for a course or they become a student somehow and they get a student license. I think that's a way around it. But my official position is you have to comply with all the terms and agreements, you know, that Microsoft has.

  • 12:19:34

    HARLOWYeah, I think they have a home edition that's a little cheaper. That's probably the one to look at.

  • 12:19:37

    GILROYYeah, now, if you just want -- I imagine you could go on eBay and maybe get an old copy of Microsoft Office. I mean, you could get a legal licensed copy of that -- if you're just going to use it for, like, writing words, I mean, that -- I mean...

  • 12:19:49

    DRUINWell, did...

  • 12:19:49

    GILROY...probably, an old copy might do.

  • 12:19:50 buy this thing, Terrence, with, you know, with a particular organization that you can go back and say, well, how much more would I have to pay to just get this thing on there? Because -- I mean, it may be that because you bought it at that particular place, they would give you a break on it.

  • 12:20:07

    TERRENCEOh, okay then. Thank you very much.

  • 12:20:09

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. And we're glad that John Gilroy did not misinterpret you. I had to correct him. You bought a laptop for your son, not a lap dance.

  • 12:20:16

    NNAMDIWe're going to take a short...

  • 12:20:16

    GILROYOn that note, thank you.

  • 12:20:22

    NNAMDIWe are going to take a short -- that's what John thought. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, what we all have been waiting for, Allison Druin's suggestions for every single night of Hanukkah. 800-433-8850.

  • 12:20:34

    GILROYOh, just what I want.

  • 12:20:34

    DRUINJust wait and see.

  • 12:20:36

    NNAMDIOr you can go to our website, Join the Computer Guys & Gal conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:22:44

    NNAMDIIt's the Computer Guys & Gal with computer guy John Gilroy, director of business development at, Bill Harlow, a former Mac-Genius who now works on PCs and Macs with Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Allison Druin is associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, where she also directs the Human-Computer Interaction Lab -- titles that John Gilroy is apparently jealous of.

  • 12:23:08

    GILROYI'm very jealous of that.

  • 12:23:11

    NNAMDIWe promised you that we would share with you some of Allison's suggestions for the various nights of Hanukkah. The first night of Hanukkah has already passed, Allison. But, nevertheless, there are things that your husband apparently can't find you without spending real money.

  • 12:23:25

    DRUINYes, so true. Okay. So I get this nice little package the first night, and I open it up, and I'm thinking -- I'm waving it near, you know, my computer and Ben's like, no, no, no. It's got magnets in it.

  • 12:23:37

    DRUINAnd it -- and yes, sure enough, there are little magnets that look just like apps in there. And you, too, can create your own iPhone at 13 bucks, little iPhone app magnets -- really cool. Okay. Then you also have your wrist charger. So, you know, you're -- you wear your batteries on your wrist just like, you know, the heart kind of thing. Anyway -- but yes, you can -- it's just like -- it looks like a little watch, and you can just stick your iPhone or Nokia or Nintendo DSi...

  • 12:24:09

    NNAMDIAnd, John, you have to take off your brass knuckles in order to put it on (unintelligible).

  • 12:24:11

    DRUINYeah, exactly, exactly. Now, this one's for you, John -- a duct tape wallet.

  • 12:24:17

    GILROYThat's so cool. That'll be a move up for me.

  • 12:24:19

    DRUINAll right. And, you know -- so just when you think...

  • 12:24:21

    NNAMDII like the idea.

  • 12:24:22

    DRUIN...duct tape isn't cool, there's this wallet that's totally cool for geeks. It's (unintelligible)

  • 12:24:28

    NNAMDIThere it is?

  • 12:24:28

    DRUINIt is.

  • 12:24:29

    GILROYLook at that. (unintelligible)

  • 12:24:29

    HARLOWActually, this one looks different. This one is a Tyvek wallet, designed to look like an old dot matrix printout.

  • 12:24:33

    DRUINOh, I almost...

  • 12:24:34

    NNAMDIIt certainly does.

  • 12:24:34

    DRUINBut, you know, I almost thought about doing that one, too. But, you know -- and that one is -- is that worth 13 bucks? Yeah, that one is cheaper than the duct tape. The duct tape is 15 bucks.

  • 12:24:43

    NNAMDINobody's going to steal that. It just looks like pieces of paper...

  • 12:24:45


  • 12:24:46

    NNAMDI...that you shoved into your back pocket.

  • 12:24:47

    GILROYExactly. If I get mugged, the guy's going to hand it back.

  • 12:24:49

    GILROYWe need to get a picture of this online but...

  • 12:24:50

    NNAMDIThe guy might give you a buck, too, in addition to that.

  • 12:24:52

    GILROYA picture of your bottom line so we can see above. Wow.

  • 12:24:53

    DRUINOh, my goodness.

  • 12:24:54

    GILROYThat's a nerd wallet, baby.

  • 12:24:55

    DRUINYeah, all right. So one more.

  • 12:24:57


  • 12:24:57

    DRUINOne more, Kojo, okay?

  • 12:24:58


  • 12:24:58

    DRUINAnd, now, every year, since we've been on the air together, okay...

  • 12:25:01


  • 12:25:02

    DRUIN...we do your dumb ThinkGeek E t-shirt, okay?

  • 12:25:05


  • 12:25:05

    DRUINNow, this time, for all of you 007s in the audience, this time it is a spy camera t-shirt, okay? Yeah, it's 40 bucks -- a little bit pricey, okay? So you get the control box clicker in your pocket to take a picture, and then there's this -- the front of the t-shirt has got Bond, but he's holding a little camera. And, sure enough, that's where the camera is. And I could take a picture of you right now and go click, and that's it. It's very exciting. So I haven't gotten that one yet. But, John, you could always buy that for me.

  • 12:25:34

    GILROYOver my dead body.

  • 12:25:37

    NNAMDIAnd the aforementioned Ben, you should know, is Ben Bederson, who happens to be Allison Druin's husband and is a quite frequent guest on the Tech Tuesday broadcast also. Now, back to the telephones. Let's see what Jim in Silver Spring, Md. has to say. Jim, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:25:56

    JIMHi, Kojo. Thanks for having me on the air. And I certainly, certainly love this program. It's one of my favorite on your regular schedule. You know, I've...

  • 12:26:04

    NNAMDIGood to know we have a listener.

  • 12:26:09

    JIMI've been reading in a couple of articles lately that the Kinect has some interesting security concerns because of how it records, essentially, the inside of your room. And I've heard that there is even plans in the making for them to then take that information and translate it into selling you real time ads, which sound like an interesting idea. But I don't know if I want a bunch of cameras in my room for Microsoft to be reviewing.

  • 12:26:38

    HARLOWCan't imagine why not?

  • 12:26:39

    GILROYYeah, why not? What's the problem?

  • 12:26:41

    HARLOWBut, yeah, I heard that, too.

  • 12:26:43

    JIMSo something about Bill Gates seeing everything I can do in my room which just -- I don't know.

  • 12:26:47

    HARLOWI think they even said they could identify, like, the furniture and the color of the furniture and that sort of thing. But I'm not using this, and it's not employed yet. But I'd be keeping an eye on the end user license agreement if you have Kinect.

  • 12:26:56

    GILROYAnd if it identifies an Apple, a little shock comes out.

  • 12:26:59


  • 12:27:00


  • 12:27:01

    DRUINI really don't think there's anything for you to worry about unless you walk in to the NSA with the Kinect underneath your arm and start setting it up. Okay, I -- it's a one-way thing. Unless, you're getting online to do some back and forth stuff. But, right now, I don't think Bill Gates is really interested in your room, so don't worry about it.

  • 12:27:18

    NNAMDIAnd if you're just tuning in, it's the Kinect we're talking about. I am not worried because I've been through airport security, so they know everything about me.

  • 12:27:27

    NNAMDIJim, thank you very much for your call. Bill, the makers of BlackBerry don't want to be left out of the smart phone discussion, and they've just purchased a company called Astonishing Tribe to prove it, right?

  • 12:27:38

    HARLOWYes. I don't think, you know, RIM -- Research in Motion -- is out of the game yet. A lot of people have BlackBerries. A lot of people like them. But, you know, they're a little stodgy, you know, (unintelligible) get now, you know, with the iPhone and the Android being out there. So the Astonishing Tribe, they're a design group -- in case you couldn't tell from that name -- and they specialize in user interaction.

  • 12:27:56

    HARLOWSo, you know, looking -- going forward, I expect to see, and, hopefully, you know, the -- whether it's the BlackBerry PlayBook or future BlackBerry devices that they really, you know, try to make a device that's, you know, a little sexier, easier to use, you know, more oriented towards the consumer, you know, versus what they have now which, you know -- most BlackBerries, I still think of keyboard and simple menus and a pretty basic app screen. So, you know, not much to say now. But I like it because they said, you know what, we need to up the game when it comes to user interface, and we recognize that. We're going to work with a good team to do that.

  • 12:28:30

    NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, this season, will we see tablets, like the iPad, dominate over PCs, whether netbook, laptop or desktop?

  • 12:28:38

    GILROYWell, the pundits out there who are watching sales are trying to choose between the word shellacking and clobbering. I mean, these are the two big words who are trying to figure what's going to happen. What it looks like is a lot of these iPad purchasers are going to take market share from computers. And they're talking about two years from now, a 10 percent hit in the sale of personal computers. So it's a kind of interesting concept. No one would have thunk (sic) it.

  • 12:29:00

    GILROYI guess when I consider a device like that -- I think it's, like, a supplemental device rather than -- instead of device. And so I'd have maybe a desktop at home and a notebook computer or two and then maybe a supplemental device, like an iPad. But some people are saying, no, I don't need no stinking computer. Maybe they can get by with just that, but we'll have to see. But, you know, it really -- big game changer, way, way bigger than, I think, I ever thought it would be, but big huge game changer.

  • 12:29:24

    NNAMDIOn to the telephones again, the number is 800-433-8850, with your questions or comments. Here is Gabriel in Alexandria, Va. Gabriel, your turn. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:29:35

    GABRIELYeah, hi. This is a great show. I'm really happy to be able listen to it today.

  • 12:29:39

    NNAMDITwo listeners. Thank you.

  • 12:29:41

    GABRIELIn the past, like, when the PlayStation came out and the Xbox first came out, governments like those in Japan and EU, and even in the United States, were really concerned about potential security threats. Like, I heard something about people saying you could link a couple different Xboxes together and essentially create a super computer in the backlands of Afghanistan or something like that. Is there any type of export control type discussion or, you know, doomsday-type of prophecies with the new Kinect and all that? Because it is -- in that way you described the mapping the rooms and all that stuff, sounds like there might be very high-level applications for that type of technology in, you know, somebody's garage.

  • 12:30:20

    HARLOWYeah, I mean...

  • 12:30:21

    NNAMDIYou should know that the doomsday prophecy started when we discovered fire, okay?

  • 12:30:27

    NNAMDIThere'll always be a doomsday prophecy, but here is Bill Harlow.

  • 12:30:29

    HARLOWWell, I think in the case of what I heard was when the PS3 came out and, you know, Sony did not, you know, play this down because any -- in talk of this being the most powerful thing ever was, of course, good for sales. But at that -- you know, at the time when the PlayStation 3 came out, you could install Linux, and you could really run whatever you wanted on it. The Xbox is a lot more locked down. I don't think you're going to see most people really doing stuff like that with it.

  • 12:30:49

    HARLOWAnd, you know, with the Kinect, too, I think that it's not really a big issue. I mean, why would this be any different than having just, you know, webcams? I mean, you can buy almost any laptop these days, and they've got a camera built in to them. So, you know, if someone really wanted to hijack, you know, a camera, I think they would shoot for those rather than this exciting new device that plugs into a game console that's more locked down to begin with.

  • 12:31:10

    GILROYYeah, I think I can go through about 892 doomsday scenarios before that one. Yeah.

  • 12:31:13

    HARLOWYeah, before the Kinect comes up.

  • 12:31:14

    NNAMDIHey, Gabriel, thank you very much for your call. Allison Druin, can we move on to the, well, fourth or fifth night of Hanukkah?

  • 12:31:21

    GILROYWho's counting?

  • 12:31:22

    DRUINOkay. Sure. Okay. All right. So for all of you that have iPod Nanos, okay? iPod Nano's 6Gs -- the ones that are square -- you can make them into watches now. Isn't that cool?

  • 12:31:34

    HARLOWYeah, that's very cool.

  • 12:31:34

    DRUINYeah, all right.

  • 12:31:36

    DRUINIt's great.

  • 12:31:37

    GILROYThey're a bad idea.

  • 12:31:38

    DRUINOh, it's totally fun. You know, it's like you couldn't get smaller, you know?

  • 12:31:40

    GILROYTake an alarm clock and strap it to your wrist. You have a battery on one wrist, an alarm clock on the other. Wow, real nerd here.

  • 12:31:45

    DRUINBut all the cool things that you can do with your Nano, you can now have it on your wrist. It's totally cool. I love that one. Okay. You want another one?

  • 12:31:54

    HARLOWI'm waiting for the 42nd night of Hanukkah the way you're going.

  • 12:31:57

    GILROYYes. Give me 45, 47, bingo, I'll take 49.

  • 12:32:01

    NNAMDIYou'll be surprised before...

  • 12:32:02

    DRUINOh, you are so jealous you don't have eight nights of Christmas.

  • 12:32:05

    NNAMDIBefore we're over, we may get to the 49th. Here is Richard in Arlington, Va. Richard, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:32:14

    RICHARDHey, guys, thanks for having me on. You know, quick question, they -- you know, they have all these new motion games and systems coming out. And someone brought up the EyeToy, and I remember that day like -- when I was a kid, I wanted it so badly. And, now, I completely forgot about it until that guy just mentioned it. I'm just wondering, is this all going to be, like, a passing fad? I fear that if I get Kinect and, you know -- 'cause my friend wants Kinect. If I get Kinect, in a year, will Xbox come out with, like, the 720 or the PS3 be the PS4? Should I worry about that or...

  • 12:32:49

    DRUINIt better come out within the next year.

  • 12:32:49

    HARLOWYeah, really.

  • 12:32:51

    DRUINHere's the thing. New things are always going to come out. And so you either just jump on the train and grab it and know that it's going to be cheaper to upgrade, okay? Or you just wait until that so-called thing comes out that you can't stand it and have to buy it.

  • 12:33:08

    GILROYNow, on the other hand, people like Kojo still have his Tickle Me Elmo little collection at home...

  • 12:33:12

    NNAMDIThat's right.

  • 12:33:12

    GILROY...and doesn't want to move beyond that.

  • 12:33:13

    DRUINAnd it's very...

  • 12:33:13

    NNAMDIAnd proud of it.

  • 12:33:13

    DRUINIt's very good, yeah. The technology is just always going to change.

  • 12:33:16

    HARLOWPlus, all the Atari games are still fun. You know, they'd never go out of style, right? So if you're worried about technology...

  • 12:33:20

    GILROYFun is always in style.

  • 12:33:21

    HARLOW...just stick with old stuff.

  • 12:33:21

    DRUINI love Pac-Man, yeah.

  • 12:33:23

    NNAMDIWell, Richard, thank you very much for your call. Tell us a little bit, Bill Harlow, about OnLive MicroConsole -- one of the things that you think is cool around a holiday period, maybe as a good gift.

  • 12:33:33

    HARLOWYeah, I'll be honest. I don't know if it's going to be a long-term success, but when it first was announced, I thought, no way is this going to work. So the technology that OnLive has is essentially -- think of it as cloud gaming. They first released an app. You can install it on your computer, even a Mac or a low-end netbook, and you literally -- you sign up -- it's free to sign up now. You can try every game they carry. You can rent games or you can buy them, but you never download them. They actually run remotely on their -- in their data centers.

  • 12:33:59

    DRUINIt's in the cloud.

  • 12:34:01

    HARLOWIt's in the cloud.

  • 12:34:01


  • 12:34:02

    HARLOWAnd it's really cool. You basically -- you control it locally. The command is sent over the Internet, and then they stream back the video live as you're playing. So even if you have a netbook, you can play a high-end PC game, and it runs really well. So the MicroConsole is 100 bucks, comes with a controller, it gives you a download code for a free game. And you just hook it up to your TV, and you're off and running as long as you got fast broadband. And, again, I did not think this would work. I played with it. It's actually pretty amazing that it works at all. So I'd be very curious to see if it takes off and becomes sort of a Netflix streaming for games.

  • 12:34:31

    NNAMDIOnLive MicroConsole and, hopefully, that'll work for you. Here is Mona in Washington, D.C. Hi, Mona. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:34:39

    MONAHi, Kojo.

  • 12:34:40

    NNAMDIHey. It's my Mona. Go ahead, Mona.

  • 12:34:42

    MONAWhat do you think, it was somebody else?

  • 12:34:45

    NNAMDIThere might be more than one Mona listening to the broadcast, Mona...

  • 12:34:49

    MONANot like this.

  • 12:34:49


  • 12:34:50

    MONAI'm not calling you. First of all, I want to wish you all a merry Christmas, happy New Year and all those things.

  • 12:34:56

    NNAMDIHappy New Year to you, Mona.

  • 12:34:56

    HARLOWThank you.

  • 12:34:57

    DRUINMerry Christmas to you.

  • 12:34:57

    GILROYLet's not forget festivus.

  • 12:34:59

    NNAMDIMona is my home girl. Go ahead, Mona.

  • 12:35:01

    MONAWell, I've finally -- I'm a real PC person, all right?

  • 12:35:05


  • 12:35:05

    MONABut I've finally decided to break down and buy an iPad. And...

  • 12:35:09


  • 12:35:10

    MONA...I'm torn between -- I really -- you know, when it comes to technology, I'd like to get as much as possible, as big as possible. So I'm wondering, should I get a 32 or a 64 and whether or not I really need to get the 3G feature? And one of the things I really want to do with it, stick all my pictures off of my computers and to use it when I go to Europe for e-mail, instead of lugging my laptop.

  • 12:35:35

    NNAMDII use it when I travel instead of lugging my laptop. Everything else, Allison Druin can tell you.

  • 12:35:41


  • 12:35:42

    DRUINNo. I never am sorry when I go for more. To be honest with you, if you can afford it...

  • 12:35:47


  • 12:35:48, you know, in a few months, you're going to say, how did I live without this? So if you're one of those people more is better, then more is better and you should go for more. But iPad is awesome. It's a game changer, and you're going to see how much you can really do with it. It's amazing.

  • 12:36:04

    MONAWell, that's super. Should I get the 3G feature as well or just -- one of my friends said there's Wi-Fi all over the world everywhere you go now, that you really don't need to add the -- get the one with the 3G. Should I do that?

  • 12:36:16

    DRUINDo you know what's interesting, is that I don't have 3G, and I don't...

  • 12:36:19

    NNAMDISo do I.

  • 12:36:20

    DRUINYeah, and I don't miss it. So I don't know. It depends on your lifestyle. What do you think, Bill?

  • 12:36:25

    HARLOWWell, I think, like you said earlier, if you're curious and can afford it, you can do it because you don't need to get a contract to use the 3G. You can turn it on...

  • 12:36:31


  • 12:36:31 needed. So...

  • 12:36:32


  • 12:36:32

    HARLOW...if you really think, you know what, I might be in some place where I really want to, you know, check my e-mail or send something out, and there's no Wi-Fi, you're in a meadow, let's say, you know? It's nice to have that flexibility.

  • 12:36:41


  • 12:36:41

    NNAMDIAnd, as Allison says, more is better. So...

  • 12:36:45

    MONAYeah, well, I'm -- I think I was leaning -- I am going to get the 64. That's the biggest one, right?

  • 12:36:49

    DRUINYes. Yeah.

  • 12:36:50

    MONAAnd, you know, I was kind of torn between that and waiting for the BlackBerry tablet, but the BlackBerry tablet is smaller.

  • 12:36:55


  • 12:36:56

    MONAAnd, you know, my eyes are getting older, right, Kojo?

  • 12:36:58

    NNAMDIOh, yeah. Yeah.

  • 12:36:59


  • 12:37:00

    NNAMDIMona, happy holiday to you...

  • 12:37:01

    MONAThank you.

  • 12:37:01

    NNAMDI...your mom, Sheila and your husband and your entire family. You, too, can call us, 800-433-8850. It's the Computer Guys & Gal. You could also send us a tweet, @kojoshow. John Gilroy, speaking of moving around or going mobile, what is with the Woz -- Steve Wozniak making the prediction that Android will beat the iPhone?

  • 12:37:23

    GILROYI saw that press release pop up, and I figured he'd, you know, retreat from that one. And he sure did, but this is living proof of the fact that he fell in the dance competition. I mean, what sane person would look at the market and say, well, jeez, you know, my buddy Steve's phone is going to get beat up by Android. But, I think, what he's looking at is maybe market share...

  • 12:37:41


  • 12:37:41

    GILROY...but not necessarily profit.

  • 12:37:42

    DRUINYeah, yeah.

  • 12:37:42

    DRUINAnd if you look profit, who is the one with $53 billion in the bank? I mean -- and this is going to maintain. But then he would say -- it's always nice to see a founder of an idea, a company, can maybe cross over with later technology. But he's got a nice smile, and maybe he's not as smart as he used to be.

  • 12:37:58

    HARLOWLooks good in a feather boa.

  • 12:37:59

    GILROYIn a feather boa?

  • 12:38:01


  • 12:38:01

    GILROYNot the only one.

  • 12:38:02

    NNAMDITime to move on, Allison Druin, to the, I think, seventh night of Hanukkah is the one that fascinates me.

  • 12:38:09

    DRUINOh, the floor-cleaning robot?

  • 12:38:11

    NNAMDIOh, yes.

  • 12:38:11

    DRUINYes, mint. Okay. Here we go. So it's not as powerful or as automatic as the Roomba, you know, that we all know about, okay? But how many of you have wood floors with dust in places that you're sure you'll never find, okay? Well, it's a traveling swiffer, okay? It's a square thing, and it's intended for houses with hardwood floors or whatever. And it's awesome. It's amazing. I was watching all these videos, thinking, hmm, $250...

  • 12:38:37

    HARLOWWhy do you need this? You have kids.

  • 12:38:40

    GILROYSlave labor.

  • 12:38:41

    HARLOWThey're free.

  • 12:38:41

    GILROYYou got slave labor at home. Crack the whip.

  • 12:38:44

    DRUINWell, anyway, but you have to -- you can't program this thing to actually start on its own. And, actually, you have these little clogs that actually have to be replaced every once in a while. So it's not quite as automatic as it should be, but...

  • 12:38:58

    GILROYWell, it's never going to take off because they never used in the...

  • 12:38:59

    NNAMDIOh, (unintelligible).

  • 12:39:00

    GILROYThey never used it in "The Jetsons." So I think it's not going to work.

  • 12:39:03


  • 12:39:03

    HARLOWBut they had a robot maid, which is (unintelligible)...

  • 12:39:05

    GILROYYeah, so it's better.

  • 12:39:05

    DRUINA robot maid. It's closer. It's closer. But, anyway, I'm thinking Mint. Mint for next year, anyway.

  • 12:39:10

    NNAMDIA robot swiffer, ladies and gentlemen.

  • 12:39:12

    NNAMDIHere is Matt in Silver Spring, Md. Matt, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:39:18

    MATTHi. Thanks for taking my call. I serve as the IT support guy for my extended family who are located all throughout New England. And I was...

  • 12:39:26

    NNAMDIA non-paying position, I presume.

  • 12:39:30

    HARLOWYou have my condolences.

  • 12:39:31

    NNAMDIGo ahead. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:39:32

    MATTThank you. And I'm getting a little tired of trying to diagnose problems over the phone. I was wondering if you guys could recommend a good PC remote viewing software, like pcAnywhere or some sort of -- giving me that functionality where I could log in, literally see what they're seeing on their screen and be able to fix the problem for them.

  • 12:39:51

    GILROYYeah, I sure have seen a lot of them, used a lot of them...

  • 12:39:52


  • 12:39:53

    GILROY...and I think the best thing is a logical mind. I think it's just -- it's a lot of these issues have, you know, maybe 50 percent to do with technology and 50 percent to do with just logic and what steps exactly took place...

  • 12:40:05


  • 12:40:05

    GILROY...I mean...

  • 12:40:06

    DRUINMm hmm. Yep.

  • 12:40:06

    GILROYBecause a lot of the things are just -- you know, it's like, okay, if you want to run in administrative mode and then you want to load an anti-virus product, you can't use one account, you have to switch over to another. And that's something you really can't diagnose 'cause -- would you agree, Bill? I mean, you've done office troubleshooting, too.

  • 12:40:19

    HARLOWOh, yeah, I mean, there are some things where, like, you know what, I can, you know, even if I see the screen, there are some things you really have to be there to deal with. But they're -- you know, for the ones that aren't like that, the one I've been dealing with because I'm cheap is LogMeIn because they've got a free version, which is pretty basic. You know, make a free account, install the client on the computer you want to remotely view, and you can set it up so you can just, you know, log in anytime, gives the user on the other end a little pop-up just to let them know that they are being controlled at that point.

  • 12:40:43

    NNAMDIMatt, thank you very much for your call. We're going to take a short break. But before we do that, we're interested in hearing what was your best tech story of 2010, or for that matter your worst tech story of 2010, or maybe the worst tech story you're expecting in 2011. You can go to our website and tell us there, or call us at 800-433-8850, send us a tweet @kojoshow or an e-mail to It's the Computer Guys & Gal. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:43:07

    NNAMDIWe're hanging out with the Computer Guys & Gal for the last time this year. They'll be back next year -- not. Oh, they'll be back.

  • 12:43:14

    NNAMDIThey'll be back next year. Bill Harlow is a former Mac genius. He now works on PCs and Macs with Mid-Atlantic Consulting. Allison Druin is an associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She also directs the Human-Computer Interaction Lab there. And John Gilroy is director of business development at John Gilroy, however, has been apparently either experiencing or anticipating the humbling experience of reverse mentorship. How does that work?

  • 12:43:44

    GILROYI didn't want to bring up this topic, but I thought those other two would pick on me for it. You know what I mean?

  • 12:43:47

    NNAMDII knew it, but...

  • 12:43:48

    GILROYGeez. What is happening in the marketplace today is that there are a lot of old geezers who are in high-level positions, and they're hiring youngsters. And they want to sell their product or service, and they figure that maybe a good way to do it might be through some social networking or through some kind of social interface. And they don't know how to do it, and so what some companies are doing is they're having the lambs lead the lions.

  • 12:44:09

    GILROYThey're having the youngsters come in and lead the old geezers. And it's -- I guess if your objective in running a company is to increase sales and you do whatever it takes, then you'll do whatever it takes. And so keeping that in mind, what I'm going to do is I'm going to bend over backwards, and I'm going to mentor Bill.

  • 12:44:22

    HARLOWWait, wait, what?

  • 12:44:22

    GILROY(unintelligible) Thank you, John.

  • 12:44:24

    NNAMDIOkay, kid, I'll teach you algorithms...

  • 12:44:25

    HARLOWMerry Christmas.

  • 12:44:26 teach me how to use Twitter.

  • 12:44:27


  • 12:44:28

    GILROY...I guess old geezers like me can talk about profit margin and keeping customers happy. And they can talk about -- well, maybe one way to do it would be through ads on Twitter or using Twitter. I mean, it's a new world out there, and I think people my age have to either keep up with times or go get a house in the mountains and unplug.

  • 12:44:48

    HARLOWDoesn't sound like a bad idea, actually. (sounds like) Is that what you're feeling?

  • 12:44:50

    GILROYYou tell me this every month.

  • 12:44:51

    NNAMDII know where there's a house in the mountain cheap.

  • 12:44:53

    NNAMDIHere is Jody in Washington, D.C. Jody, you're on the air. Go ahead please.

  • 12:44:58

    JODYHi, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 12:45:00

    NNAMDIYou're welcome, Jody.

  • 12:45:01

    JODYI have a 68-year-old mother who is absolutely computer illiterate. And her computer she has now, the PC that has Windows 98.

  • 12:45:13


  • 12:45:13


  • 12:45:16

    JODYAnd she uses CompuServe. It came free with the computer when she bought it.

  • 12:45:19

    GILROYWow. Let's call the Smithsonian here.

  • 12:45:22

    JODYAnd so for Christmas -- and we've tried the netbook with the Verizon service, and she didn't like that. That was too small, and the service was a little too spotty. But for this year, I thought about getting her an iPad. She's been to the Apple store, and she likes the motion with the -- you know, opening and closing, the screen. She can do that. She just wants to do a little e-mail and Web browsing. So I thought the iPad would be great, but she's also definitely afraid of having any sort of Internet service provided by cable, provided by the phone company. So I thought the iPad with the MiFi might be a good option. So I'm wondering what I should consider if getting that as a gift, and are there any pros or cons to that for someone who's not very familiar with computers?

  • 12:46:11

    NNAMDIStarting with you, Allison Druin.

  • 12:46:13

    DRUINWell, absolutely, the iPod is exactly made for -- basically made for your mother. And it is -- it's -- you know, the screen is really good for folks that need larger space, and the interaction is wonderful. I would absolutely agree you've made the right choice for your mother. Bill, what do you think about MiFi?

  • 12:46:36

    HARLOWI guess I'd be curious about what the nervousness is about getting a conventional broadband through a cable company or through Verizon. I mean, the MiFi, I think, is going to be more expensive for what you get...

  • 12:46:45

    GILROYWhy don't you define it for our listeners? Maybe -- what exactly...

  • 12:46:47

    HARLOWWell, I mean, just a classic -- you know, you got your DSL line over the phone lines in your house, or you have, you know...

  • 12:46:50


  • 12:46:51

    HARLOW...cable and you've got a broadband modem. And you pay monthly, and they give you a little modem. And you -- they often give you one that has Wi-Fi built in these days. I know Verizon, you get, like, a DSL modem, and it's got Wi-Fi. Even on the bottom on the sticker, it tells you what the password and network name is, so you'll be off and running pretty quickly.

  • 12:47:05

    HARLOWThe MiFi is basically just a USB-powered device or battery-powered device that, you know, receives a signal from your cell provider and then converts that into a Wi-Fi network you can take with you. So it's convenient, but then it has its own issues -- like it's going to be pricier, it's going to be slower -- and if you're using it on battery, of course, it's going to wear down after a few hours faster than the iPod will.

  • 12:47:26


  • 12:47:26

    NNAMDIThe decision...

  • 12:47:27


  • 12:47:27 yours to make, Jody.

  • 12:47:29

    JODYYeah, I have some thinking to do. I think her concern with the Internet is that if it goes out, she won't know how to fix it. She won't know what cords go where.

  • 12:47:38


  • 12:47:38

    JODYAn so I'm thinking something that has the fewest amount of cords and requires the least setup would be best.

  • 12:47:45

    HARLOWOr maybe even just a 3G version if you're not averse to AT&T because then the cellular data is built into the iPad. And that's an option, too.

  • 12:47:52

    NNAMDIDo you and your mom live in the same city?

  • 12:47:55

    JODYWe don't. And so...

  • 12:47:56

    NNAMDIOh, I see it.

  • 12:47:56 the previous caller...

  • 12:47:58


  • 12:47:58

    JODY...I'm troubleshooting through the phone, and it gets...

  • 12:48:00

    GILROYOh, and it's tough.

  • 12:48:00

    DRUINOh, bless you.

  • 12:48:01

    JODY...a little frustrating.

  • 12:48:03

    NNAMDII hear you. Well, think carefully and make the best choice. I'm sure whatever you get, she will appreciate it.

  • 12:48:10

    JODYYes, I think so. Thank you so much.

  • 12:48:11

    NNAMDIJody, thank you very much for your call. We got an e-mail from a listener, who says, "At least 25 listeners e-mailed to say you don't need an MS Office Suite. They all recommended..." -- that is, we got 25 e-mails that said, "They all recommended, which has the same functionality, and it works with Microsoft file types. Best of all, it's free." What do you say to that, John Gilroy?

  • 12:48:36

    GILROYIn this case, free is a four-letter word. That's what I say.

  • 12:48:38

    HARLOWIt's okay. I mean, it works, if you're technical at all. You know...

  • 12:48:41

    GILROYI just kind of like the standard type technology...

  • 12:48:44


  • 12:48:44

    GILROY...for me because there's quirky things that happen, and there's no easy answers. If I have some quirky thing in Word, like putting a special character in there, I can get 100 different answers from 100 people.

  • 12:48:55

    HARLOWYeah, I mean, there's no harm in trying.

  • 12:48:58


  • 12:48:58

    HARLOWYou might like it.

  • 12:48:58

    GILROYCould be.

  • 12:48:59

    NNAMDIOn to Val in Baltimore, Md. Val, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:49:04

    VALOkay. Thanks for taking my call. I'm just wondering if you guys think if it's worth to pay $3,000 here in D.C. for A+ classes, computer certified technician.

  • 12:49:21

    GILROYOkay. Well, there's a place in Chicago called CompTIA, C-O-M-P-T-I-A, and they offer a whole wide range of courses. There's A+ for security, A+ for networks. There's all kinds of basic courses. And what you do is you take a multiple choice test at a center, and then you get this to mark in your resume.

  • 12:49:39

    GILROYNow, years ago, it was fairly prestigious to have one of those certificates. But, increasingly, I see fewer and fewer companies looking for people who have those specific certificates. And they want people who have been beat up and knocked around and failed and succeeded and are confused and figured out and can learn. And I think logic and the ability to learn is probably more valuable in today's workplace than A+ certifications.

  • 12:50:08

    GILROYNow, if you don't know anything about SSL or about security, then maybe an A+ security little test and certification, it may be just gets you comfortable with the terminology. And then you can go out and make mistakes and screw up and beat your head in the wall and call Bill at two o'clock in the morning and see what he has to say and then figure things out. But I think it's a -- I think it's just a basic -- it's not as valuable as it used to be, is the answer.

  • 12:50:33

    NNAMDIAllison says since you're talking about the University of Maryland, any money spent is well-spent.

  • 12:50:38

    DRUINI did not say anything.

  • 12:50:39

    NNAMDIShe did not say anything. She recused herself from this conversation.

  • 12:50:42

    DRUINI recused myself from the conversation.

  • 12:50:44

    NNAMDIWell, Val, good luck to you.

  • 12:50:46

    VALThank you.

  • 12:50:47

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We got this from Frank in Washington, D.C. "I received a very generous gift of an iPad for Hanukkah. I've resisted opening the box so far, and I'm wondering if I should return it, get store credit and wait until the new ones come out in the New Year. What do you think? When is the next one coming out?"

  • 12:51:07

    HARLOWWell, this is the first iPad, so, who knows? But let's say they follow the same plan, and they announce it in January. It's available in the spring. Then, you know, that's your -- I would guess that's the earliest timetable. So I'd just ask yourself this question. Do you like what it does now? If so, open it. If you -- if there's some things -- some gaps in the functionality that kind of bug you, yeah, maybe return it and then hold off and see what comes down the pipe.

  • 12:51:28

    NNAMDIOkay. John Gilroy, Web .20 (sic) -- Web 2.0. Google's CEO sees Android phones replacing credit cards.

  • 12:51:37

    GILROYYou got to give this guy Schmidt credit for, you know, rallying a sword and getting headlines and everything else. Now, I think several months ago, I talked about some initiatives in Africa where people were using phones to...

  • 12:51:46

    NNAMDIAnd that's what we encountered in Haiti three weeks ago when we were there, where people...

  • 12:51:48

    GILROYRight, and that's what people are using.

  • 12:51:50


  • 12:51:50

    GILROYAnd I think it may be in the future. But, you know, it's going to be only Android-type phones? I don't know if that's going to be the case. Now, it could be something in the future. I think, you know, in the United States here, we have banks. And there are places in the world that don't have brick-and-mortar banks. They just don't. Or a brick-and-mortar bank is two days away, walking. And...

  • 12:52:09

    NNAMDIExactly. People transfer money on their cell phones.

  • 12:52:11

    GILROYRight. And I think maybe in those particular environments, it may happen. And the Department of State has all kinds of programs that encourages that because it encourages entrepreneurial spirit. But I think in America here, where we have streets and sewers and brick-and-mortar banks, it's a much more difficult sell. But I think it's a nice headline, and I think Schmidt is good at getting headlines. Maybe it's going to happen sometime in the future, and will it be Google? And I don't know. But it's probably some kind of a change. I wonder if my grandkids are going to have folding money in their pockets or credit cards. They may just have the ubiquitous cell phone.

  • 12:52:42

    HARLOWThat's true.

  • 12:52:43

    GILROYAnd that's how they buy and sell everything. And I think that brings up, you know, 52 shows with Kojo, talking about the implications of that, but...

  • 12:52:50

    NNAMDIIt's all about convenience, baby. And speaking of convenience, Bill Harlow, talk about the NOOKcolor.

  • 12:52:57

    HARLOWYeah, so, you know, first of all, you know, people who say we never talk about, you know, things other than Kindle, here's the NOOKcolor. Stop bugging us.

  • 12:53:03

    HARLOWBut it's -- actually, I think it's pretty cool. The biggest flaw, I would say, is, you know, with the color backlit screen, battery life is not as good -- they're saying up to eight hours. But, you know, it's mainly a dedicated reader, like the Kindle. It has -- it runs on Android, so it's got some additional functionality like an iPad or something, but it's priced accordingly. It's, what, 250. So if you want something that's a good reader, and, you know, add some additional functionality, this is a pretty compelling product.

  • 12:53:25

    GILROYSo is a small NOOK a NOOKie?

  • 12:53:29

    NNAMDILet's hurry up to Russell in Columbia, Md.

  • 12:53:31

    GILROYJust asking.

  • 12:53:31

    NNAMDIRussell, help us out, please.

  • 12:53:32


  • 12:53:32

    NNAMDIYou're on the air. Go ahead, Russell.

  • 12:53:33

    HARLOWKeep it clean, keep it clean.

  • 12:53:35

    RUSSELLHowdy. I just wanted to -- I think it was John who was telling the reader who called in about getting Office, that it'd be $500 or he might need an educator license. And I just wanted to point out that Office has a home edition, which is only $120...

  • 12:53:49

    GILROYGood deal.

  • 12:53:50 most places, and it's for three computers. So you can put it on your kids' computers or your spouse's computer or your laptop with you.

  • 12:53:56

    GILROYGreat deal. Yeah.

  • 12:53:59

    RUSSELLAnd I had a quick Mac question, too. I know in Windows systems that I work on, older folks who have older eyes can adjust the dots per inch...

  • 12:54:08

    HARLOWMm hmm.

  • 12:54:08

    RUSSELL...for the monitor so they can see, you know, 120 percent, and everything on the screen is bigger for them. I tried to do this on a Mac with a terminal command, and it was a disaster. And will we -- is there some way to do that on a Mac? Or will we see some way to do that on a Mac?

  • 12:54:23

    HARLOWWell, the simplest thing you could do is just change the resolution to something lower, and that will make everything bigger.

  • 12:54:26

    RUSSELLMm hmm.

  • 12:54:26

    HARLOWAnd then if you go into system preferences, there's universal access for assistive -- you know, computer assistance. So you can do things like increase contrast, you know, you can invoke a zoom function, zooms in instantly and lets you scroll around. So you should play with that as well.

  • 12:54:40

    RUSSELLMm hmm. Okay.

  • 12:54:41

    NNAMDIAllan, (sic) thank you -- I mean, Russell, thank you very much for your call. We do move on to Allan on 495. Allan, your turn. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:54:48

    ALLANYeah, thank you for taking my call. I am fundamentally a contrarian, which comes from being raised by (word?) parents, who used to tell me that just because everyone else put their hands on hot stuff, it wasn't necessarily a good idea for me to do it. And I'm one of these people that actually does use webOS, the -- sorry -- OpenOffice. And the end result of it was that I am one of the few people who actually own a Palm Pre Plus. See, and I know that Palm has been bought by HP, but even though my practical sense says that buying two of these smartphones from Verizon for only $49 was a good move, I do have app envy. Any news on what's going to be happening with the HP purchase? And when can we stop feeling guilty that we have gone anti-consumerism and taken the high road?

  • 12:55:39

    HARLOWWell, I don't know for sure. I'm very curious to see what shakes out from that deal. I -- you know, when the Pre came out, I thought it was actually really cool, and I liked that it was an alternative to things like the iPhone. So I really don't know what's going to happen with that. I know that they're working on a new webOS. I would say just -- I mean, we need to see the first HP-branded product that runs webOS to see where they're headed.

  • 12:56:00

    GILROYOkay, I'm going to call the American Psychological Association, they're right downtown, and they can add that to their different types of syndromes -- app envy.

  • 12:56:07

    NNAMDIHey, Allan, thank you very much for your call. John Gilroy, Microsoft is aggressively heading into the cloud, Apple backing off.

  • 12:56:13

    GILROYYou know, it's interesting, this yin and yang here where Microsoft has interesting products for Christmas and what's Apple doing. Apple has made so much money in the other electronic devices, I think they're walking away from -- for corporate-type large systems. And the people like Microsoft are moving aggressively in that area. There's a facility outside of Chicago where Microsoft has all these containers and containers and containers full of hardware, setting up cloud computing. And I don't think they care about the brand. They want just X amount of power, X amount of cooling. And they don't care, it could be a Kojo computer, it could be HP, it could be an ALISON (sp?) computer.

  • 12:56:46

    GILROYThey just want a certain amount of -- and by the way, the other part of that equation is cooling, and so they want a lot of computer power and cooling. And they don't care that much. And Apple is moving away from that. Now, if you read some articles, people say, well, geez, you don't have to necessarily have a server that slides into a slot, a rack. But most the people I know would laugh at that. Most people really like rack-mounted servers. So it's -- they're just moving away from that concept, and why shouldn't they? They're making so much money elsewhere.

  • 12:57:11

    NNAMDIBefore we go, Bill Harlow, how can we make a child's hospital stay more bearable this holiday season?

  • 12:57:17

    HARLOWYes. So every year, there's this -- well, actually it's yearlong, but it's called Child's Play Charity, It's run by the guys who run a comic called Penny Arcade, and it started when they said, you know what, gamers are getting a bad rap. A lot of us, you know, are generous. We have big hearts. And this is devoted to kids who are stuck in the hospitals for whatever reason. So you can go to the website. You can pick a children's hospital or a hospital of your choice and then get redirected to an Amazon registry, where you can pick out a toy or a game or a book or something and just send it out. And they'll receive it, and they'll give it out to the kids. It makes their stay a lot better, gives them something sociable to do. You know, people -- kids come to visit, and if they actually can play games or do something, it actually gets people in there to see these kids, too, which is great.

  • 12:57:57

    NNAMDIWe didn't get a chance to talk about all of these suggestions that John, Allison and Bill had for your holiday shopping, but you'll definitely want to check out our list, just click on Computer Guys & Gal. Allison Druin is our computer gal. She's associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, where she also directs the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Happy holidays.

  • 12:58:19

    DRUINHappy holidays to you.

  • 12:58:20

    NNAMDIBill Harlow is a former math genius, who now works on PCs and Macs with Mid-Atlantic Consulting. Happy holidays.

  • 12:58:25

    HARLOWHappy holidays to you, too.

  • 12:58:26

    NNAMDIJohn Gilroy is director of business development at Happy holidays. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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