A trio of major newspapers made news last week after hackers in China allegedly attacked their systems, possibly in retaliation for their reporting on Chinese leaders. BlackBerry unveiled two new smart phones, but some say it’s too little too late for the mobile phone pioneer. And the FCC wants to build free nationwide Wi-Fi networks, which could mean free cell phone calls via the Internet. The Computers Guys and Gal are back to explore these tech stories and more.


  • Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; ADVANCE Professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council & Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance, University of Maryland
  • John Gilroy WAMU Computer Guy; and Director of Business Development, Armature Corporation
  • Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.

Computer Guys And Gal Picks

The Computer Guys and Gal select the best Valentine’s Day gifts for the techie in your life and ways to observe National American Heart Month. Plus, the gadget headlines that are breaking and making our hearts this month.

Allison Druin

  1. A must-have for the commuter or road tripper, the inverter can power three devices at once

  2. Design-A-Skin for cell phones, laptops and more

  3. Bluetooth Wireless Mobile Speaker

  4. ILuv Ref Headphones: Plug these headphones into your smartphone to enjoy hands-free conversation, or play your favorite track.

  5. GPS FOR THE SOUL: Free iPhone app

  6. Heart Rate Monitor by Azumio Free, named the best Health & Fitness app on Mobile Premier Awards.

  7. Have a Heart Swarovski USB key necklace

  8. Is China hacking our websites?

  9. Your Twitter account may be hacked

  10. Amazon last week experienced an outage of its main Amazon.com homepage that lasted for nearly one hour

  11. Facebook privacy in the news with facial recognition. To opt out of this feature, follow these steps:

a. Click the wrench icon at the top right of Facebook, select Account Settings, and then click on click Timeline and Tagging.
b. At the bottom, locate the setting that says “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?” and click Edit on the far right.
c. Select your preference from the drop-down menu: Friends or No One.
d. If at step three you do not see an Edit Settings option, you will likely see “(this is not yet available to you).” This simply means Facebook has yet to roll out the feature to your account, and you’ll need to wait for it to do so before you can change your privacy settings for it.

John Gilroy

  1. Kojo to organize a field trip to the Smithsonian to view a desktop computer: Tyrannosaurus Rex

  2. Google declares “war” on the password

  3. Teens say Apple has jumped the shark
  4. Blackberry attempts to make it cool in the enterprise
  5. Vint Cerf makes sartorial statement, “Your shirt shouldn’t have Internet access.”

  6. STEM, Capitol Hill and Allison Druin, Director of the Future

  7. Will Skynet start in China?

  8. Facebook Graph from a security perspective

  9. Squeeze play: Apple & Google have 90 percent of the smart phone market

Bill Harlow

  1. The year of the snake? The New York Times was the target of Chinese cyber attacks over a four month period. The Wall Street Journal was also attackedAs was the Washington Post.

  2. Erich Schmidt’s new book discusses the potential threat that is modern China, pointing out how it’s in a position to play more fast-and-loose with its digital espionage.

  3. What will happen to the software that helped with Obama’s reelection?

  4. The new Blackberry! Does it matter?

  5. Robohand: Is the future open source prosthetics?

  6. Netbooks were supposed to be all the rage a few years ago. Incredibly cheap, small, portable, anyone could afford a laptop. The reality, of course, is that netbooks were often too underpowered to do most things well


  • 12:06:44

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIYou know what that music means. From WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world and with The Computer Guys & Gal. Yes, they're here. Three big newspapers made headlines last week, saying hackers in China invaded their networks and took reporters' passwords, possibly in retaliation for reporting on China's political leaders.

  • 12:07:11

    MR. KOJO NNAMDITwitter says it was hacked too and warned some users they need to change their passwords. While these folks try to figure out new security measures, mobile phone pioneer BlackBerry is trying to figure out how to stay afloat. The company unveiled two new mobile phones and a new operating system last week and got good reviews, but skeptics say it may be too little too late. And new plans at the FCC call for powerful free Wi-Fi networks across the country that would boost Internet access.

  • 12:07:45

    MR. KOJO NNAMDISounds like a great idea, unless you're a Verizon or AT&T. The free networks could mean free phone calls via Wi-Fi and the Internet. As I mentioned, they are here, The Computer Guys & Gal. Allison Druin is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Happy New Year, Allison.

  • 12:08:10

    MS. ALLISON DRUINHappy New Year to you too, Kojo.

  • 12:08:12

    NNAMDIIt may seem a little late to some people, but I was not here last month.

  • 12:08:14

    DRUINWe missed you, Kojo.

  • 12:08:17

    NNAMDIHappy New Year to Bill Harlow. He is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Inc. Hey, Bill. Good to see you again.

  • 12:08:26

    MR. BILL HARLOWHappy New Year to you. Always a Happy New Year with you around.

  • 12:08:28

    NNAMDIWell, hi, John Gilroy.

  • 12:08:31

    MR. JOHN GILROYWell...

  • 12:08:32

    DRUINIt says it all. There you go right there.

  • 12:08:34

    NNAMDIJohn Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp. He's, well, here.

  • 12:08:41

    GILROYThe $20 bill didn't work before the show. You know, it's going to be a 40 next month.

  • 12:08:45

    DRUINYeah, really.

  • 12:08:45

    NNAMDIExactly right. We need to increase your bribery efforts but always...

  • 12:08:48


  • 12:08:49

    NNAMDIAlways a pleasure to see you. And those of you who'd like to join the conversation can call 800-433-8850. Allison, I'll start with you. Computer hacking in the news last week. This time, the targets, three of the country's premier newspapers, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the suspected hackers were in China. What were the hackers looking for, and did they do any damage?

  • 12:09:14

    DRUINWell, that's what people are trying to figure out. That's the problem. They suspect that emails and contact lists and files of journalists were pulled. And what they're looking for is obviously information that they can preview on what people might be saying here in the United States. Now, was this a government thing happening, was this a private thing, people suspect that this might have to do with the government, but they're still trying to figure it out.

  • 12:09:45

    DRUINIt is actually quite sophisticated in terms of the kinds of things they were doing, so it actually did take a while for people to figure out what was going on. It was not a traditional, you know, denial of service attack and so on. It was something quite sophisticated. And they're worried that this could have been going on for many years, so it's...

  • 12:10:04

    NNAMDIIn a world where a lot...

  • 12:10:06


  • 12:10:06

    NNAMDI...of news agencies are no longer carrying foreign bureaus and reporting on stuff that goes on overseas, these three newspapers are still reporting on foreign affairs in general and on China in particular...

  • 12:10:17


  • 12:10:17

    NNAMDI...and so I guess the speculation, Bill Harlow, is that there were people either with the government or not in China who want to see exactly what these newspapers know and what they're likely to be looking for next.

  • 12:10:28

    HARLOWWell, it wasn't just, you know, poking around for fun because what's interesting is that they weren't going after things like customer data, credit card numbers, anything like that. They ignored all that. They're going right for, OK, who wrote these stories, maybe we can poke around, try to find sources...

  • 12:10:40

    DRUINThat's right. That's right.

  • 12:10:40

    HARLOW...and get to the bottom of it. And it seemed pretty coordinated. It seemed pretty focused, and it was ongoing. So people were thinking it's something that was -- I mean we don't know, but something sanctioned by possibly the government, more than just rouge hackers.

  • 12:10:53

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. What do you think the U.S. can or should do about hackers in China?

  • 12:10:59

    GILROYYou know, we have an interesting sequence here. It's like, you know, you're in the neighborhood, and you're basement floods. You don't tell your neighbor. You likely say, oh, my basement kind of flooded, and you're neighbor goes, oh, yeah. And Allison says mine did too, and Kojo says mine did too. It's like, well, The New York Times messed up, and then The Post as well, we kind of, you know, are kind of hacked.

  • 12:11:15

    GILROYAnd then Twitter goes, oh, by the way, we had 250,000 hacks as well, and so everyone is kind of admitting to this. And I think that, you know, when we look back at this era, we'll look back at 2012 and say that was the year the passwords broke. I mean people...

  • 12:11:28

    DRUINYeah, but...

  • 12:11:28

    GILROY...are moving away from that, thinking more about enhanced security.

  • 12:11:32

    DRUINNow, but Twitter was -- people suspect Twitter was a separate kind of thing because that is where they really actually hacked passwords and the traditional kinds of things. So while I agree with you, John, this may be the year of the hacking. We have to do -- we do have to separate like who's doing the hacking here, and they actually think because it was a different kind of bit of information they were going after, the Twitter account hacking is just more of the traditional kind of hack versus the...

  • 12:12:03

    GILROYYeah, I'm talking about just releasing information.

  • 12:12:04

    DRUINYeah, yeah.

  • 12:12:04

    NNAMDIWhat's the danger of anyone with a Twitter account? How do you know if your account was affected?

  • 12:12:10

    DRUINWell, you're actually sent an email. I feel sort of out of it. I was not sent this email. I was not hacked. But...

  • 12:12:16

    HARLOWLet's see what we can do.

  • 12:12:16

    NNAMDIDoes this mean you're not important?

  • 12:12:18

    GILROYIt was early...

  • 12:12:18

    DRUINI'm not important. I was...

  • 12:12:19

    GILROYIt was early adopters and the shakers, movers and shakers...

  • 12:12:23


  • 12:12:23

    GILROY...like Obama and Justin Bieber? Bieber?

  • 12:12:25

    DRUINBieber, yeah, you're good. You're good.

  • 12:12:27

    HARLOWThose two -- yeah. Obama and Bieber in the same sentence, perfect.

  • 12:12:29

    DRUINYeah, yeah, it's good. It's good. But here's the thing, OK, even if you weren't hacked, it's probably a good idea to change your password anyway because at the end of the day, yes, they think 250,000, you know, million or 250,000 users were, you know, were actually hacked but -- and they did -- and Twitter did a great job of, you know, sending email to everyone and freaking everybody out. But you really do have to think, well, maybe they didn't catch all of it, maybe you might be...

  • 12:12:57


  • 12:12:57

    DRUIN...one of those people.

  • 12:12:58

    GILROYAnd now, the rumors in industry are that Twitter is going to look at two-factor authentication because people like John Kerry who's going to start tweeting from the State Department...

  • 12:13:05

    DRUINThat's right. That's right.

  • 12:13:05

    GILROY...what happens when they start tweeting some malicious things. I mean, bad things can happen.

  • 12:13:09

    NNAMDIWell, just forget about government for a second and think about corporate America because, Bill Harlow, according to The Wall Street Journal a forthcoming book by Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Google ideas director Jared Cohen blast China, calling it the world's most sophisticated and prolific hacker of foreign companies. What does that mean for corporate America?

  • 12:13:28

    HARLOWWell, I haven't seen the book yet, so I don't know, you know, what they're basing those assertions on but perhaps they're basing on these recent hacking attempts at various newspapers. And also, you know, Google did have some quite a battle on their hands, and they're trying to, you know, make headway into China, dealing with things like search and content filtering and that sort of thing.

  • 12:13:44

    HARLOWAnd it also seems like what they're suggesting is that they're willing to play a little more fast and loose with the rules of cyber attacking, although I'm not sure that there's any formal cyber warfare rulebook in play. I mean the U.S. is part of it too. Stuxnet, which was a story a while ago, you know, traced back to us, and it's like we're coordinating against Iran, so.

  • 12:14:03

    NNAMDIWell, I guess I'll have to be the self-appointed spokesperson for the government of China here. What do we know or what have investigated about hacking that originates in the U.S. intended for China? Do you know anything about this at all?

  • 12:14:16

    GILROYWell, first of all, what I do know is that there's 564 million users in China, 42 percent of the Internet now, and we maybe overtaken by China pretty soon. And they may be the diamond force, maybe Skynet will pop up in China, instead of somewhere in California. Well, what's happened is there are statements that are made by officials that we may or may not invest in a preemptive strike, and all of a sudden, the Pentagon hires 4,000 -- or tried to hire 4,000 hackers. So I think they're -- I don't know where you're going to find them. They might have to go to China to find them.

  • 12:14:51

    GILROYThey're not going to be able to find them. But there's just hints and intimations of what's going to happen with the federal government, and we don't really know because that world is a very, very tightlipped world. And I know people in those 16 agencies and the intelligence community, the I.C., and they ain't talking.

  • 12:15:03

    NNAMDIHere is Sheila in Annapolis, Md. Sheila is talking. Sheila, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:15:08

    SHEILAHi, Kojo. How are you?

  • 12:15:10

    NNAMDII'm well.

  • 12:15:11

    SHEILAI got -- my Yahoo account got hacked into this past week, which, OK, that's all right. That happened. But the weird thing that happened along with it was I had moved in this past September, and before I did my move, I went to an online moving company and solicited bids from movers.

  • 12:15:28

    SHEILAAnd when my email got hacked last week, I started getting phone calls and emails from moving companies about my upcoming move in February with the same information that had been provided from move in September, which causes me great concern because apparently they didn't just send out a bunch of emails. They mined my information and reused it. So I'm curious about what other possibilities this might have for other accounts that might have been mined...

  • 12:15:54

    NNAMDIYeah, that should cause you some concern. Any suggestions, Bill Harlow?

  • 12:15:57

    HARLOWI think it's old-fashioned marketing. I don't think it's got to do with hackers. I think they just took information and sold. There might have been...

  • 12:16:01


  • 12:16:01

    HARLOW...and checkbox on it that says, by completing this form, you agree to allow us to use this for -- and there's all kinds of checkboxes that people check automatically. So I think this is just garden-variety marketing.

  • 12:16:12

    GILROYYeah. Which, unfortunately, you know, that happens all the time. Just a reminder, when talking about this and talking about Twitter, if you haven't don't so, take a moment and maybe retire old passwords and also double-check and see am I using the same basic password everywhere or do my online accounts have unique passwords.

  • 12:16:27

    NNAMDIWhat makes you so sure that you were hacked, Sheila?

  • 12:16:31

    SHEILABecause a bunch of people got emails from me that I did not send and got a lot of responses from them.

  • 12:16:34


  • 12:16:36

    DRUINYeah. And, you know, the timing may be that, you know, you may have -- you might have checked something a while ago, but because you might have been hacked, it might have been reused again. So it might have been resent because you had cookies and such, so there's a bunch of different ways that that could have actually happened. But just, you know, try and clean up your Internet path, and you should be OK.

  • 12:16:56

    SHEILAAll right. Thank you, guys.

  • 12:16:57

    NNAMDISheila, thank you very much for your call. You, too, can call us at 800-433-8850, or you can send email to Kojo@wamu.org, send us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the #TechTuesday, or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. John Gilroy, we all know we should change our passwords from time to time, but what if we didn't need a password at all? Google is apparently exploring ways to get rid of passwords and replace them with some sort of encrypted card that you could use almost like a car key to get into your devices. How likely is a password-free future?

  • 12:17:33

    GILROYWell, you know, if you look around -- and there's a company called Wave Systems in Pennsylvania, and they're working with hardware encryption on desktop computers. I know you're going to say that desktop computers are all dead. We know that. There's another company in town here called Koolspan with a K, and they're working on SD cards for phones. And so what they want to be able to do is hardware encryption.

  • 12:17:54

    GILROYI think that might be a solution for some people who are listening. But what Google is starting to say is that, look, you know, one way to prevent some of this hacking that was well publicized in the last year is with two-factor authentication. So Kojo goes to get his mail, Gmail, and they send him a number through his mobile phone. And then his mobile phone doesn't have enough battery, and he can't get -- no, mobile phone gives him the number, and he goes online, especially (unintelligible) computers.

  • 12:18:15

    GILROYSo I think that's -- it's a step, but I think what's going to happen is this hacking is not going to go away. Maybe the next few years, we'll see more and more of it, and more people are going to be looking at hardware encryption devices. And there are transactions that are done through telephones that people may have to have special (unintelligible) cards, so I think it's going to change.

  • 12:18:32

    NNAMDIWell, we've got a tweet from Jeffrey who says: "Why isn't biometrics authentication more prevalent? Wouldn't that solve a lot of problems?"

  • 12:18:40

    HARLOWI haven't used it in a while, but in the times I have, I've been pretty unimpressed with it. It seemed notoriously unreliable. We explored this with a company I worked with a few years ago, and I remember one of the things we dealt with was, well, we better have a backup for when the biometrics don't work because they don't scan reliably. So it's not perfect. But I do think, you know, it's something you can't lose, like your fingers, you know, pretty handy.

  • 12:18:57

    DRUINBut that's sort of like natural language processing. It's a technology that's been coming for way too long, and, unfortunately, because we need real accuracy when it comes to protection like this, it doesn't. You need multiple ways to authenticate yourself. And so, you know, the fingerprint thing, I'm waiting for because, boy, I hate remembering passwords.

  • 12:19:18

    HARLOWHey, I watch Mission Impossible. It should be here now.

  • 12:19:19


  • 12:19:20

    GILROYIt's what you have and what you know.

  • 12:19:21

    NNAMDIHere's Miguel in McLean, Va. Miguel, you're on with The Computer Guys & Gal. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:19:27

    MIGUELYes. Hi. Good afternoon. Thanks for taking my call. Just a quick question. Somebody had mentioned about cleaning their Internet path just a few minutes ago. What I do, I use -- basically, what I do is I just reset my Safari, and I just clear every -- all the history every time I use my computer. Is that appropriate?

  • 12:19:46


  • 12:19:46


  • 12:19:47

    DRUINYeah. That's a great way to do it.

  • 12:19:49

    GILROYYeah. You can still behave in a not very wise manner on the Internet no matter...

  • 12:19:55


  • 12:19:55

    GILROY...how scrupulous you are about cookies. You can still go to websites and give them credit information, or you can get spoofed by phishing -- spear-phishing attacks. So that's a step, and it's a good step. But what if one of your colleagues sends you a link to -- this is a funny site. Go here. It's maybe your wife or someone -- your sister or brother.

  • 12:20:13

    GILROYYou're going to can say, well, I'm going to -- and you're going to click on that, and you may get -- most just go that way. And that's an example of, you know, social engineering and spear-phishing. So I think it's a good step and just a step, though.

  • 12:20:22

    HARLOWAnd just one step in many things you can do.

  • 12:20:23


  • 12:20:24

    NNAMDIMiguel, thank you very much for call. We're going to a short break. When we come back, you can still call us at 800-433-8850 with your questions or comments for The Computer Guys & Gal. We'll be talking about BlackBerry, so you may want to call about that. Do you still use a BlackBerry? What do you like best or least about it? Are you tempted to try the new one that we'll be talking about? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:22:30

    NNAMDIWelcome back. The Computer Guys & Gal are here. Allison Druin is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp., and Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting.

  • 12:22:52

    NNAMDIThe once ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone got a big makeover last week with the introduction of two new models, the Q10 and the Z10. They come with a new operating system and a name change for the company that makes them. First, the phones: One has a physical keyboard, and one doesn't. What's new about the way these two phones work, John Gilroy?

  • 12:23:15

    GILROYI think what's new is they're trying to come off against two giants, and I don't think they're going to make it. The only way this company is going to survive is if they go to their installed base. There are infrastructures out there. There's a lot of systems engineers out there who are familiar with BlackBerry and their infrastructure is set-up already. Now, if they can go back to those folks and try to get to get a toehold, maybe four to 5 percent market.

  • 12:23:38

    GILROYNow, with these specific models, I think they're going to be released here in the next couple of weeks. The one -- some people still like physical keyboard, and that's old school. I've learned that many times. I've seen good things and bad things. I'd have to see how they compare with others in the market before making any choice.

  • 12:23:52

    HARLOWIt seems like it's to keep existing customers. If you're, you know, if you don't have a BlackBerry now, is this going to go and get you to buy one instead of the other? I think for most people, the answer is probably no.

  • 12:24:00

    GILROYIt's a shot at just retaining their existing small percentage of business.

  • 12:24:03

    HARLOWTrying to stay relevant.

  • 12:24:04


  • 12:24:05

    NNAMDITheir new operating system called the BB10 is clearly aimed at business users. It lets them separate their phone into two halves with business email, documents and security on one half, personal data and apps in the other. You think that'll make a whole lot of difference, Allison?

  • 12:24:20

    DRUINYou know, it's interesting because it used to be that we wanted to separate our lives like that, OK, and really that we want to keep, you know, two email accounts, oh, that's the computer for the kids and so on. It seems like our worlds are becoming much more integrated. And so it's a little surprising that that model -- it's a sort of a last-century kind of model of, yes, here's for business, and here's for pleasure.

  • 12:24:49

    HARLOWBut look at laptop users.

  • 12:24:50


  • 12:24:51

    HARLOWThere used to be a time where you keep separate things. And now everybody's like, I just want the one thing. Like, I used to have a work phone and a normal phone. Then the iPhone came out. It's like, I just want to consolidate it. I want one laptop. I want one phone.

  • 12:24:59

    GILROYI have to humbly disagree with Dr. Druin.

  • 12:25:02

    DRUINYeah, yeah. You're not humble. Forget it.

  • 12:25:02

    GILROYI mean, there's a word called MDM, mobile device management. And what people want to be able to do is they say, Bill, you want to work for us? Sure, you could bring your phone. However, we have to retain the right to do remote wipe of the company information. You can keep your phone because people have an emotional attachment to their devices. And so this is where I see MDM moving is being able to remote wipe and...

  • 12:25:21

    HARLOWTargeted remote wipe...

  • 12:25:22

    GILROYYeah, target and allowing...

  • 12:25:23

    HARLOW...which should be great.

  • 12:25:24

    GILROYSo Bill shows up, or he quits. So then what? I mean, we had an incident with people tweeting during a session where they were getting fired. And so I think remote wipe is important. And I think it's going to be -- this whole idea of mobile device management is going to be big, big, big.

  • 12:25:37

    DRUINYeah. But I think it's going to be for a certain segment in the population, which I know you deal with a lot, John. And I...

  • 12:25:41

    HARLOWRight. I'll say this: The IT managers want that. The users don't -- they just want it to work.

  • 12:25:45


  • 12:25:46

    GILROYSo it can work. It just has to be controlled.

  • 12:25:48

    NNAMDIHere's Michelle in Fort Washington, Md. Michelle, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:25:53

    MICHELLEHi. You asked earlier about our favorite features of the BlackBerry.

  • 12:25:56

    NNAMDII certainly did.

  • 12:25:57

    MICHELLEMy absolute favorite feature was the LED notification light. That way, I didn't have to keep picking it up to check and see if got a text message or email that I was waiting for. I could just glance at it and see if there was a notification light.

  • 12:26:10

    NNAMDIWell, I suspect that you will still have that feature on the new BlackBerry. But I can't say for sure. But do you still own a BlackBerry?

  • 12:26:18

    MICHELLENo. Actually, my husband bought me an iPhone, and it sat on my nightstand for about four months because my BlackBerry worked. And I don't like switching devices if the old one works.

  • 12:26:28


  • 12:26:29

    MICHELLEBut finally, I joined the 21st century, and I started using my iPhone. And I love it, but I miss my red notification light.

  • 12:26:36

    HARLOWYou know what's funny? And I'm not saying this is your solution, but you can go actually into the assistive features on the iPhone, and you can -- I think there's an option for people who are deaf. We can actually make it blink the flash when you get an alert, not quite the same thing, and it's a little overkill. But, you know, you're free to play with it.

  • 12:26:51

    NNAMDIIf you miss your blink that much, Michelle...

  • 12:26:53

    NNAMDI...that's something you can do.

  • 12:26:55

    HARLOWLight up the room.

  • 12:26:56

    NNAMDIBill, I've read that BlackBerry has less than 5 percent of the smartphone market right now. Will the new BlackBerries make any kind of dent? Well, you said no. They're probably not going to make a dent in the dominance of the iPhones and Androids.

  • 12:27:10

    DRUINWell, it's, you know, I think it depends also on the software that they're compatible with.

  • 12:27:14


  • 12:27:15

    DRUINAnd that's the bit real thing. It's just like the e-readers, OK, the e-book readers. The e-book readers that are winning are the ones that have content. And I think the biggest problem with the BlackBerry has been that it hasn't had a real toehold in the content world as well as the tools itself.

  • 12:27:32

    NNAMDIWell, with the unveiling of these new phones, the company formerly known as Research in Motion dropped that name and is now calling itself BlackBerry.

  • 12:27:41

    HARLOWWhat we've been calling them for years.

  • 12:27:42


  • 12:27:43

    NNAMDIWell, I see that that mutes my next point, and that is analysts say that that move clearly links the company's future to its mobile phones. Is that a good thing?

  • 12:27:53

    HARLOWI mean, I think it is, but what else do they make? I mean...

  • 12:27:55

    GILROYYeah. It's not like they make 40 things. Yeah.

  • 12:27:55

    HARLOW...they have been BlackBerry. Well, the Playbook, but that doesn't count.

  • 12:27:59

    GILROYYeah. I think the listeners should know that last year, 700 million smartphones were sold. Right here today, 92 percent of the market is accounted for by Android and iOS, and then there's half a dozen small ones like a little company like Microsoft and then -- and they're fighting for this little 7, 8 percent of the market share.

  • 12:28:15

    GILROYSo it's really an amazing disproportionate share and they're in this little area. And I think just because BlackBerries were very popular in Capitol Hill, I think that's why listeners -- that resonates with our listeners where maybe in Chicago or L.A. they wouldn't.

  • 12:28:26

    NNAMDIBut they had a Super Bowl commercial.

  • 12:28:30


  • 12:28:30

    NNAMDIIt said 30 seconds isn't enough to tell you all the things a BlackBerry can do...

  • 12:28:35

    HARLOWI mean, it may not be enough.

  • 12:28:36

    NNAMDI...so -- that show you they few things it cannot do.

  • 12:28:38

    HARLOWI mean, I'd like to see them come back. I mean, these are the guys who, I mean, I think the reason why we're all gung ho about email in our pockets is because of them, you know?

  • 12:28:44

    GILROYYou're right.

  • 12:28:44

    HARLOWI'd love to see them come back, but I just don't know if it's realistically feasible.

  • 12:28:48

    NNAMDIBut they had a Super Bowl commercial.

  • 12:28:50

    GILROYYes. Don't you -- $4 million they paid to tell you all...

  • 12:28:53

    HARLOWSo now you're saying that they had a Super Bowl ad, and they're broke. Is that what you're saying?

  • 12:28:58

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. While all eyes were on BlackBerry, well, a few maybe, last week, some people are saying the iPhone has an image problem of its own, that teenagers don't think it's that cool anymore. Is that true, Bill Harlow?

  • 12:29:14

    HARLOWYou ask me like I'm a teen.

  • 12:29:14

    NNAMDISpeaking for teenagers.

  • 12:29:17

    HARLOWJust because I act like one doesn't mean I am a teenager. There's a difference. I'm actually...

  • 12:29:20

    DRUINYou're the one that's closest in age.

  • 12:29:21

    HARLOWAll right. All right.

  • 12:29:22

    NNAMDII was confused. I'm so sorry.

  • 12:29:23

    HARLOWI mean, I honestly don't know, but I haven't gone asking. But I look around. It seems like everybody has an iPhone or, you know, one of the later Android phones. I guess what I would say, too, is I think Apple is, you know, perceived as cool, but they don't try to make things that are cool. They try make things that are good, and if they happen to be perceived as cool, great.

  • 12:29:38

    HARLOWBut a lot of tech writers, too, make this assumption that the new thing is going to be better because it's different, and I don't think that'll -- you know, a company shouldn't behave that way. Like, it's not an entertainment thing. We shouldn't -- if I'm bored because the iPhone isn't new, what matters is if it's still good and usable and popular in that sense.

  • 12:29:53

    GILROYI was speaking with Susie Adams, who's the chief technology officer of Microsoft Federal Division, and she has a Windows phone. She walked in a Starbucks, and all the youngsters, whoa, look at cool-looking phone. It's so different.

  • 12:30:02

    HARLOWYeah, something different. Yeah.

  • 12:30:03

    GILROYI think that's why because it's different. Now, for old geezers, let's say, like me, are walking around with an iPhone, well, we don't want what the geezers have, but something new and different kind of a fun color. I think that's just the novelty of something different, like the Surface or the Microsoft phone.

  • 12:30:14

    NNAMDIThis from CNET, "Teens have decided that Apple is, like, so over. If you want to be a veritable..."

  • 12:30:19

    GILROYSo over.

  • 12:30:19

    NNAMDI"...cooleratus, you want to be seen with a Samsung Galaxy phone in your hand or a Microsoft Surface laptoppy tablet stuck under your arm. Buzz Marketing's Tina Wells telling Forbes, "Teens are telling us Apple is done. Apple has a great job..."

  • 12:30:33

    HARLOWWhen it's done, it's done. Yeah. Hold that money in the bank. They're done.

  • 12:30:34

    NNAMDI"Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X and older, but I don't think they are connecting with Millennial kids." We'll soon find out from your kids, won't we?

  • 12:30:43


  • 12:30:43

    GILROYYes, yes. We'll find out who's the nerd in your house, oh.

  • 12:30:45

    DRUINYeah. Well, I have to say that when you do research with kids, you hear the most surprising things. But what we're -- what we've been finding is that if you don't actually show them brand and you just show them features, it's the same stuff they've always wanted. It's not like they -- it's not like things change, but it's a lot about buzz viral marketing.

  • 12:31:09

    DRUINAnd so you got to play with that, and you got to wonder about what do we do. But, actually, 99 percent of all the stuff that has -- for kids, educational apps, it's all sitting on the iPhone right now. It's -- most of the -- now, they're slowly migrating to the Android, but the apps developers…

  • 12:31:27

    HARLOWFirst, we they have to put in the malware in the app store.

  • 12:31:30

    DRUINYeah, exactly.

  • 12:31:32

    NNAMDIIf you want to be ahead of the curve, you want to know what's happening, check with John Gilroy...

  • 12:31:35

    GILROYThat's it. Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Finally, 22 years for that.

  • 12:31:39

    DRUINYou scare me.

  • 12:31:39

    NNAMDIHere's Birgid (sp?) in Woodbridge, Va. Birgid, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:31:46

    BIRGIDHi. Thanks so much for taking my call. I just wanted to make a couple points. I own my own business as well, and I worked with the BlackBerry for a long time. And I love it. I miss it. I did switch over and graduated to the 21st century, as they say, with an iPhone, but I can't stand the virtual keyboard. It just drives me insane.

  • 12:32:06

    BIRGIDAnd I go back, and I keep trying to correct things. And it's just crazy. Even with autocorrect, you can't even do that 'cause it creates words that you might not even want. And then the other part that I really miss is being able to call from texting. You can't do that, not from an iPhone either, which I really miss that feature.

  • 12:32:27

    HARLOWYou can actually. Actually, just to back up for a second...

  • 12:32:29

    BIRGIDYou can?

  • 12:32:29

    HARLOWYeah. You just scroll to the very top, and there'll be like a contact button. So you can go right in there.

  • 12:32:33

    BIRGIDOh yeah, yeah. I've done that, but it's, like, hard to get it to work. I don't know if there's something wrong with my fingers.

  • 12:32:39

    NNAMDINo. I do it all the time.

  • 12:32:40

    DRUINYeah. I do it all the time as well.

  • 12:32:42

    BIRGIDYeah. To me, it was just a lot -- from the BlackBerry. And then the other thing I wanted to go back to what you guys talked about earlier with regard to separating personal and business. I don't want my business anywhere near my personal life, and I -- and it is totally a struggle to try to keep those things separate.

  • 12:32:56


  • 12:32:57

    BIRGIDSo I do have a separate computer and all that kind of stuff.

  • 12:33:01

    HARLOWWould you go back to carrying two phones, you think?

  • 12:33:03

    BIRGIDNo, that I don't do.

  • 12:33:05

    DRUINAh, there you go.

  • 12:33:05

    BIRGIDThat part I don't do. No, I wouldn't do that.

  • 12:33:07

    HARLOWThat's where MDM fits.

  • 12:33:08


  • 12:33:09

    BIRGIDYeah, yeah, that's true. That's true, but I do have two different computers.

  • 12:33:12

    DRUINNow, there are, you know, little keyboards for your cellphone, but I don't know if you want to carry it around for -- because it is an extra thing.

  • 12:33:21

    GILROYThat would be nerdy.

  • 12:33:22

    NNAMDIIt's not the most convenient thing in the whole world.

  • 12:33:24

    DRUINYeah. It's -- you can hang it around your neck.

  • 12:33:26

    HARLOWYou got to be cool or functional, you know, John.

  • 12:33:28

    NNAMDIBirgid, thank you for sharing with us. Let's hear from Uzoh (sp?) in Odenton, Md. Hi, Uzoh.

  • 12:33:34

    UZOHHi, Mr. Kojo. My comment is about the BlackBerry.

  • 12:33:40


  • 12:33:41

    UZOHIf you judge BlackBerry by U.S. market, yes, it's old, it had lost market.

  • 12:33:46


  • 12:33:47

    UZOHBut if you judge BlackBerry worldwide, it's still very major because in most developing countries -- Africa, Asia, Latin America -- it's number one because of the BB version. It's free. It's cheap for them to use. A lot of people love it. It has a huge market in those places. And you can ask people. They will tell you that's the way it is. For U.S., yes, but worldwide, still a major market. And I wish they will concentrate on those other places where they make lot money.

  • 12:34:13

    HARLOWWell, Uzoh, your dispute is with Strategy Analytics, not with us. I mean, that's where I got the numbers from. So I don't know. I mean...

  • 12:34:20

    NNAMDIWell, Uzoh is making the point that like the Computer Guys and Gal, BlackBerry is global. It's not just in the United States.

  • 12:34:27

    DRUINAnd it makes sense. And, you know, and it's true, we actually do talk very U.S.-centric on this program. So it's...

  • 12:34:34

    GILROYOf course, this is the United States. Why not?

  • 12:34:35

    DRUINOh, please, go somewhere, John, speak somewhere.

  • 12:34:37

    GILROYAnd BlackBerries from Canada, those -- we don't want those Canadians down here.

  • 12:34:41

    HARLOWI'm an American. I don't need to think about anybody else.

  • 12:34:42


  • 12:34:42

    DRUINOh, help me.

  • 12:34:43

    GILROYThose Canadians are amassing at the border as we speak.

  • 12:34:45

    DRUINI agree with the caller. Just be quiet, you two.

  • 12:34:49

    HARLOWI agree, too.

  • 12:34:49

    NNAMDIPlease don't hack in and cut this show off, will you, wherever you are.

  • 12:34:54

    NNAMDIHere is Dennis in Bethesda, Md. Dennis, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:34:58

    DENNISHi, Kojo and guys and gal. You know, I use the BlackBerry, and I've used the iPhone, iPad. My wife and all the kids use the iPhone and switched too. But I tell you, I really was impressed by the new BlackBerry. And I think what I always find particularly frustrating with the iPhone and the iPad and so on is that I always run up into things I can't do easily in that it's not a computer.

  • 12:35:24

    DENNISAnd I think what interests me -- and I'll be really interested to see the new device if it delivers -- is how they talk about mobile computing as opposed to just being a mobile device. And, you know, because as a business, you look at the security issues, and I think that's why a lot of businesses might go back to BlackBerry, and also, you know, how well it does in terms of editing and working with documents and stuff like that in the whole mobile computing realm.

  • 12:35:52

    NNAMDICare to address that, Bill Harlow?

  • 12:35:52

    HARLOWWell, I'd guess it's one of the things where they talk about mobile computing, but to me, this all sounds like marketing until I get my hands on one and play with it. I mean, there are a lot of apps you can get for Androids and for iPhones that can edit documents now, whether, it's, you know, something like, you know, Google Docs or using something like Documents To Go or Apple's Pages or Keynote, for example, on iOS. There are a lot of ways you can do that.

  • 12:36:12

    HARLOWI kind of get the impression that if you need a full-on computer, I think for a lot of people, how you define that's going to be different. But for me, I could do most of my -- I could, you know, prep for the show on my -- on just my iPad. I'm more comfortable on my computer. I can do more on my computer. If I want to do much more involve, let's say a PowerPoint presentation...

  • 12:36:28

    NNAMDINow, allow me to interrupt for a second. John Gilroy, you heard that?

  • 12:36:31


  • 12:36:31

    NNAMDIHe preps for the show.

  • 12:36:33

    GILROYHe's the only one ever.

  • 12:36:34

    NNAMDIWell, Allison preps, too. There's only one (unintelligible).

  • 12:36:36

    HARLOWI prep for the show, wink, wink, typed from my iPad.

  • 12:36:39

    HARLOWBut so, I guess, you have to look at how you define doing real computing and then decide. I -- 'cause, generally, when people say that, they usually mean they need a full-on computer like full-on Windows or Mac laptop or desktop.

  • 12:36:52

    NNAMDIWhich is what you're talking about, Dennis?

  • 12:36:54

    DENNISWell, exactly. I think, you know, 'cause I do a lot of work with different users and especially executives and so on, and their needs are just very different. So you try to customize what it is they're trying to do. But I think, you know, for people who really work with documents and they, you know, are traveling a lot, so they want a small, one single device, and they're going to be doing kind of editing stuff. You know, although you can do all those different apps -- I've tried all of those different apps, and you can do it, but, boy, it is -- it feels like -- it's painful in terms of doing it quickly.

  • 12:37:26

    NNAMDISo you're going to stick with the new BlackBerry. Dennis, thank you for your call. The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to create strong and far reaching new Wi-Fi networks around the country that people would be able to use for free. That could mean you'd be able to make free cellphone calls via Wi-Fi and the Internet. I guess companies like Verizon Wireless and AT&T are nervous about this, but tech giants like Google seem to think it sounds great. What do you say, Allison?

  • 12:37:55

    DRUINWell, it's a question of free versus quality, OK, and that's the critical thing. Look, I was just at a business meeting in San Diego this weekend, and I can't tell you how many times our wireless network went down. And, you know, oh, at first, it was the wireless carrier, then it was the router inside the hotel and so on. I have to tell you, when you are depending on wireless, sometimes depending on the free and what is so-called ubiquitous in there and it's not there, you go absolutely crazy.

  • 12:38:30

    DRUINIn fact, we actually had to end part of our meeting early because we gave up because we needed the computer. So I think it goes back to if we can see that free is dependable and is strong, I think it's exciting because it's not just wireless versus the -- wireless carriers versus the behemoth computer companies, it's wireless carriers versus innovation, I mean, because if we have free and open and a strong good network, like, you know, let's face it, create a new grid. It's not an electrical grid.

  • 12:39:02

    DRUINIt's a real grid of interactivity then we've got an exciting possibility to create even stronger innovation, new kinds of applications that depend on, you know, live streaming and lots of data and so on. So I think it's -- it could be very exciting but.

  • 12:39:21

    NNAMDIWell, I use the word free. There's another word in here, a key word, super. The Washington Post says, "The federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi networks across the nation. So powerful, so broad and rich that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month." What do you say, Bill Harlow?

  • 12:39:39

    HARLOWIt sounds great on paper.

  • 12:39:41

    HARLOWWell, but just what Allison was saying -- and I'm thinking about places I've been where there's been for pay a supposedly ubiquitous Wi-Fi, and it gets saturated so quickly, and you can't do anything. I'm trying to imagine what, like, a widespread public network, like, that would actually feel like in use.

  • 12:39:54

    GILROYYeah. Cecilia Kang wrote this article, and everyone is talking about it. There's a lot of buzz and talk and all. Everyone seems to be talking about. You know, if you try to understand what they're doing is all the FCC is doing is saying, OK, we're thinking about marking off an area in Kojo's backyard where we could grow something and that -- something's got to go in there, and you put plants and tomatoes and grow it and weed it and water it and everything else.

  • 12:40:14

    GILROYAll they're saying is we're thinking about doing this. There's going to be a cost involved. The free is somewhere down the road. I mean, if Arlington County decides to -- let's say if they're going to pay for wireless access for everyone in the county, that's one thing or someone's going to have to pay for it. It's just that there's cost here.

  • 12:40:28

    GILROYAnd it'll benefit someone like Google if the government pays for it because, well, look it here. They're an ad-based model. AT&T and Verizon, they have a different model for being paid. So this is battle of the giants. I'm going to love to see this fight in the next four or five years.

  • 12:40:40


  • 12:40:40

    NNAMDIWell, there's a question also in the form of an email from Don about how. Don says, "I use an iPhone, and my wife both -- and my wife uses both an iPhone and an iPad. We have no trouble going online at the gym, Starbucks, Safeway, at the mall. Wherever there's Wi-Fi, there's access. The spectrum is always there. It's just a question of providing access to it. What will the FCC be able to add to this, more Wi-Fi access sites?"

  • 12:41:02

    DRUINThat person is living in a lovely world is all I can tell you, OK?

  • 12:41:07

    NNAMDIVery few of us don't have it.

  • 12:41:07

    HARLOWI want to go there.

  • 12:41:08

    DRUINI want to live wherever that person's living. I mean, honestly, it's still, even in the best of areas, it's still spotty sometimes. And, you know, and most people don't have the ability to go anywhere where there's wireless. And I think it's about, you know, are we going to create this -- the new electrical grid of the Internet that really is something that our whole infrastructure can depend on? If we do, then it's got to be bulletproof, and that's harder than it seems.

  • 12:41:37

    NNAMDIWell, Don, before we take a break, could you send us the address of your gym, your Starbucks, your Safeway and the mall you frequent?

  • 12:41:43

    HARLOWI think it's time for a move.

  • 12:41:44

    DRUINI'm ready.

  • 12:41:44

    NNAMDIWe all want that kind of access. Going to take a short break.

  • 12:41:46

    GILROYIt sounds like Chevy Chase to me.

  • 12:41:48

    NNAMDIWhen we come back, we'll continue this conversation with the Computer Guys and Gal. If you'd like to join the conversation, the lines are busy, so shoot us an email to kojo@wamu.org or send us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the #TechTuesday. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:43:40

    NNAMDIWelcome back to The Computer Guys and Gal. They're looking forward to driverless cars or maybe not so much. Bill Harlow is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid Atlantic Consulting. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp. And Allison Druin is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. John Gilroy, Intel says it's going to stop making motherboards for personal computers. Does that mean desktop computers are becoming dinosaurs?

  • 12:44:15

    GILROYWell, it sure seems like it. You know, just let me tell the audience a secret here.

  • 12:44:19

    DRUINYou just realized here? Oh, my God.

  • 12:44:21

    GILROYYou know, 22 years ago, I called the station. I said, you should have a computer show on the air, and they said, we don't even have any desktop computers here. Now, 22 years later, I'm thinking if you call the station now, they're going to say, well, we don't have any desktop computers. We have tablets. We have notebooks. We have servers. It's just -- it sounds like a strange circle here, but this is like Ford not making automobiles, you know?

  • 12:44:38

    GILROYIt's just -- it seems, for my little brain, Intel I associate with chips and computers, and they're getting away from it. And maybe they'll be making devices that'll work on the robots and the cars, the wireless devices. It's just -- it's shocking to see desktop computers going away.

  • 12:44:52

    NNAMDIAre you still loyal to your desktop computer? Get in touch with us at 800-433-8850 or send us an email, as Wendy did, to kojo@wamu.org. Wendy says, "I work from home, and I use a desktop. I hope it doesn't go away. For the kind of work I do, I need a desktop." Say it ain't so, Bill.

  • 12:45:12

    HARLOWWell, I'll say this, too. I mean, if you want power, there's always a place for a desktop because you can only put so much power and generate so much heat inside a tiny form factor. But for a lot of people, you can certainly get a laptop, a top-of-the-line laptop, hook it up to your monitor, put it on your desk, and it's a desktop.

  • 12:45:26

    GILROYNow, that's what I see. That's what I see. Two monitors, three monitors, all kinds of monitors.

  • 12:45:30

    HARLOWOh, yeah. And you can do that with a lot of the most powerful ones. You can run multiple monitors, go nuts, have your own little war room there.

  • 12:45:35

    NNAMDIWhat's your prediction, Allison?

  • 12:45:37

    DRUINI agree with Bill. I'm sorry, John.

  • 12:45:40

    NNAMDIWell, ladies and gentlemen, we enjoyed these last 22 years.

  • 12:45:44

    GILROYIntel is no more. No, I was talking about Myers. I mean, they're such different devices.

  • 12:45:46

    DRUINBut Intel has been doing -- see, what you don't realize is that Intel research has been creating chips and sensors and actuators for years and years and years and, in fact, knowing that they were going to -- they were going to get out of this business eventually. So they're -- this is not like, oh, feel sorry for Intel. It's going to go down. It's not. They're making enormous amounts of infrastructure for computing devices...

  • 12:46:11


  • 12:46:12

    DRUIN...but they're not -- it's just not...

  • 12:46:13

    HARLOWController chips aren't going away. CPUs aren't going away.

  • 12:46:14

    DRUINNo, no. It's, in fact, actually -- in everything we have is computing. I mean, in your hotel card key is a computer now. So it's absolutely -- I wouldn't worry about them, John.

  • 12:46:26

    NNAMDINetbooks are going away. Netbooks are about to become extinct, aren't they, Bill? Only two brands are left...

  • 12:46:31

    DRUINOh, please.

  • 12:46:32

    NNAMDI…Asus and Acer. Both...

  • 12:46:33

    GILROYHe's crying. Give him a tissue. Give him a tissue.

  • 12:46:35

    DRUINOh, man, pity party.

  • 12:46:36

    NNAMDIBoth will stop making netbooks this spring.

  • 12:46:37

    GILROYGive him a tissue.

  • 12:46:39

    NNAMDIWhat killed off the netbook industry, and, well, does anybody care?

  • 12:46:42

    HARLOWWell, I think that a lot...

  • 12:46:43

    GILROYThat's the real question, Kojo.

  • 12:46:44

    HARLOWFirst of all, I know a lot of people did, and I'm not knocking them. But I personally never cared. The idea of basically a hobbled, cheap laptop never appealed to me. I think what happened is things like the iPad, especially on the low end, in that price range, said, hey, you're going to spend that much money on something, it should at least be good at something. So it doesn't do everything, but it's great for email, great for Web, great for a lot of the apps you want to run.

  • 12:47:05

    HARLOWAnd then the ultrabooks, the MacBook Air and the Windows ultrabooks, on the high end, if you want something that is very portable, really, really light and tiny but still really functional, you know, that's where you're going to look. So I think they're getting squeezed by both sides...

  • 12:47:17

    DRUINYeah, but wait a second. What about the Kindle?

  • 12:47:20

    HARLOWNo, no, no, no, no. Netbooks, not e-readers.

  • 12:47:22

    DRUINOh. Oh, oh. Netbooks, netbooks. Sorry. OK.

  • 12:47:23

    HARLOWYeah. So you got the Google Chrome books...

  • 12:47:26

    DRUINOh, OK. I see what you're saying. Yeah.

  • 12:47:26

    HARLOW...out there, and that's what I'm thinking of, and those are even more limited. So, you know, I think those are basically -- I've got 200 bucks. What can I legally acquire that's technically a computer? And that's what that's going to do.

  • 12:47:34

    DRUINOh, OK.

  • 12:47:34

    GILROYLegally? Hmm.

  • 12:47:35

    HARLOWIt's legally.

  • 12:47:35

    NNAMDIIf netbooks are going extinct, how come John Gilroy doesn't have one?

  • 12:47:41

    DRUINWell, but that's obvious, Kojo, really.

  • 12:47:43

    NNAMDI'Cause everything he owns is going extinct. Let's go to where people have been waiting for us for a while. Kenneth in Columbia, Md., thank you for waiting. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:47:52

    KENNETHHi. Thanks for taking my call. I have kind of an esoteric question, but I think it really is an important question. I've been trying to find the answer to this for years. Whenever you hear a news article that passwords have been hacked on Google or Facebook, et cetera, do we know if those passwords are hashed passwords, or are they encrypted passwords?

  • 12:48:23

    KENNETHBecause the big difference is if they're encrypted passwords, there's the possibility that the key that can decrypt the password can be acquired, and therefore all of those passwords that they stole, all of those encrypted passwords they stole can be decrypted in one fell swoop. But if the passwords are hashed, it's impossible to reverse that unless you have a weak password, you know, where you can guess the hash and then compute it and see if you guess right.

  • 12:49:00

    NNAMDIBill Harlow, what does hash mean?

  • 12:49:02

    HARLOWIt's just a way of basically abstracting the password away so that you can't go in there and see what the original was. I mean...

  • 12:49:07


  • 12:49:08

    HARLOW...the source knows, but, you know, people who get the passwords don't. I mean, I guess the way I look at it is there are going to be some weak passwords in there. And part of -- so I think the hash isn't perfect. I mean, it's human nature to go with what -- for most people, when I'm making a password, oh, they require this. I'm going to make this as simple as possible, and I'm going to tend to follow a pattern.

  • 12:49:25

    HARLOWSo I think there are going to be ways around that, too. I think once a password database is acquired, all bets are off anyway. You just -- I don't think it really matters at that point. You just go ahead and assume it's out there, and it's time to go back in there and update your passwords, change them.

  • 12:49:40

    GILROYAnd there are ways with phishing and social engineering to get someone's password. This morning I was reading a blog. I decided to click the like on Facebook. And it said, put your username and password for Facebook, and we'll indicate that you like this particular blog. And what's to prevent someone from setting Kojo up that way? And he sees a message and he thinks it's connecting to a valid social media site like Facebook, and, actually, it's Bill phishing his password. So I think passwords are garnered that way and don't worry about, you know, encrypting and hashing.

  • 12:50:09

    DRUINBut, Kenneth, are you asking, is it easier to hack hashtag -- hash one versus the other kind that you just talked about?

  • 12:50:18

    NNAMDIThe encrypted kind?

  • 12:50:18

    KENNETHNo, I'm just...

  • 12:50:18

    DRUINThe encrypted kind?

  • 12:50:19

    KENNETH...trying to find out what -- if there is an official statement by Google or Facebook as to whether they're hashing our passwords or they're encrypting them because my password is 15 characters. They're never going to guess my password with, you know, just raw...

  • 12:50:37

    HARLOWWith the raw hash, you're probably right, but most people don't do that. I mean...

  • 12:50:41

    DRUINThey're not going to tell you, my friend.

  • 12:50:44

    HARLOWGenerally not...

  • 12:50:45

    DRUINThat's unfortunate.

  • 12:50:46

    KENNETHI think we should require the companies to define how they're protecting these passwords because it does matter of how they're being protected.

  • 12:50:54

    DRUINOh, I agree with you. I agree with you 100 percent. However, they can't tell you too much or else then the bad guys are going to come in...

  • 12:51:02

    HARLOWThey'll know where to start.

  • 12:51:03

    DRUINThey'll know where to start. So, yeah, so that's...

  • 12:51:05

    NNAMDIAnd then there is this, Kenneth. We got an email from Cedric in Washington, who says, "With the advancement of AI technology, do you see the development of computers which can completely automate the hacking process?"

  • 12:51:17

    HARLOWYeah. I mean, that happens now usually requires...

  • 12:51:19

    NNAMDIYeah, I think so.

  • 12:51:19

    HARLOW...banks' super computers. I mean, right now...

  • 12:51:21

    DRUINIt's really happening.

  • 12:51:22

    HARLOW...you have encryption that's strong enough that requires a lot of horsepower. But, you know, computers get more powerful. We define ways to network everything together to compute this all at once, so it's happening now.

  • 12:51:34

    NNAMDIKenneth, thank you very much for your call. In nine days time, Allison Druin, it will be gift giving time of the year...

  • 12:51:39

    DRUINOf course, my favorite time of the year.

  • 12:51:41

    NNAMDI…Valentine's Day next Thursday. What gift shopping advice do you have for a sweetheart who swoons over tech gadgets?

  • 12:51:48

    DRUINOh, all different things. OK. So if you like coffee cups in your car, I love this one. OK? This is the gadget charger, all right. And it's on the WAMU website, so you'll be able to see and click on it. And you can go there. But it's great. It looks like a coffee cup, but on -- except on the top of the coffee cup, there's actually three plugs, and two for AC outlets and one for USB port. And it's just really simple. It's a really nice way to do something. And it's only 50 bucks, and you can actually be powering yourself up as opposed to drinking coffee.

  • 12:52:19

    HARLOWIs there coffee in it?

  • 12:52:20

    NNAMDII was about to say...

  • 12:52:21

    HARLOWIs there coffee in it?

  • 12:52:22


  • 12:52:22

    HARLOWI'm not interested.

  • 12:52:23

    GILROYNo, me either.

  • 12:52:24

    DRUINNot interested.

  • 12:52:24

    NNAMDIDoes it keep your coffee warm?

  • 12:52:26

    GILROYNow, that's the question to ask on a day like this.

  • 12:52:28

    DRUINNo, no. Now, OK, then the other thing, too, is that people like to listen to things a lot. And I -- if you're like me, I hate ear buds, OK, so there's...

  • 12:52:37

    NNAMDIKeep dropping out.

  • 12:52:38

    DRUINYeah. Just -- they don't feel good after a while. So there's the Sony Bluetooth Wireless Mobile Speaker, which is totally cool. It's this little pink egg, OK. It fits in your hand. So if you want to share sort of music together, that's fun. And then there's these really fun retro headphones because I hate ear buds. They're from the company iLuv, I-L-U-V, and they're called ReF headphones. And you can get very cool fashionista pink one -- no, red ones. So that's good.

  • 12:53:06

    NNAMDIWhat color are you going to get, John?

  • 12:53:07

    GILROYPink. Definitely pink.

  • 12:53:09

    DRUINWell, they can -- they do have blue, yellow and green. I like those, too.

  • 12:53:12

    GILROYWell, thank goodness, match my outfits.

  • 12:53:14

    HARLOWNo plaid, huh?

  • 12:53:15

    DRUINBut, you know, I have to tell you, there is the heart USB key, OK, with crystals in it, all right? So now that's a little bit...

  • 12:53:21

    GILROYWhere the crystals from, Allison?

  • 12:53:22

    DRUINOh, no. It means I had to say what the name is. It was Swarovski. Is that it? Yay. All right.

  • 12:53:29

    DRUINI don't buy crystals with that. Anyway, but it's got crystals in it. And, yes, you can hang your USB key around your neck in a heart-chained USB key.

  • 12:53:38

    GILROYI like PhDs telling me I should buy stuff because we got crystals in it, and it's good.

  • 12:53:41

    GILROYYou have a PhD, Allison. You can't tell people to buy something 'cause it's a cute color.

  • 12:53:45

    DRUINCome on, it's cool. Actually, I have to tell you, how many times have you been looking for a USB key? If it's hanging around my neck, I'd have it anyway. So, yeah, those are the kinds of fun, little things.

  • 12:53:54

    NNAMDIWait a minute, photo skins for cellphones.

  • 12:53:55

    DRUINOh, photo skins. Yes, yes. So, you know, the newest thing now is, you know, you got to personalize your iPad...

  • 12:54:03

    HARLOWOh, yeah.

  • 12:54:04

    DRUIN...or your cellphone and so on. And so you go to this site, and you give them a picture. And then they'll -- and you tell them what, you know, if your -- what form factor your cellphone is or what kind of laptop or iPad or whatever. And depending on what you have, they'll just send you something a couple days in...

  • 12:54:21

    HARLOWBut if I put a skin on it, there's no room for the crystals.

  • 12:54:24

    DRUINNo, the crystals would have to hang around your neck, my friend. Come on.

  • 12:54:26

    HARLOWYeah. This is fashion statement here.

  • 12:54:29

    DRUINYeah. So, anyway, so none of these are expensive stuff. I didn't look for the expensive this year 'cause I'm a little broke, so there.

  • 12:54:34

    NNAMDIWell, I'm glad you can get the skins through our...

  • 12:54:35

    HARLOWOr Ben's a little broke.

  • 12:54:37

    NNAMDIWhen I see Bill, I'll say, Bill, that was your cellphone I saw with that guy walking down the street.

  • 12:54:41

    DRUINYeah. Exactly. It's great.

  • 12:54:43

    NNAMDIJust by way of correction here, we got an email from Chip, who said, "The FCC never said the Wi-Fi networks would be free."

  • 12:54:50

    GILROYI never said...

  • 12:54:50

    NNAMDI"The Washington Post reporter added that component feloniously. The story is wrong on that count, just like Wi-Fi hot spots today. Unlicensed does not necessarily mean free."

  • 12:55:00

    HARLOWGood point.

  • 12:55:01

    NNAMDI"It would be up to the service."

  • 12:55:03

    HARLOWWe're just projecting what we want.

  • 12:55:04

    GILROYThey're staking out a garden with someone...

  • 12:55:05

    DRUINThat would be like an airport hot spot kind of thing, yeah.

  • 12:55:09

    NNAMDIOn to Diane in Washington, D.C. Diane, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:55:13

    DIANEHi. Thanks for taking my call. I was just wanting to kind of circle back around to talking about RIM for a little bit.

  • 12:55:20

    HARLOWBlackBerry. They're called BlackBerry now.

  • 12:55:21

    DIANEBlackBerry. I'm sorry. I stand corrected.

  • 12:55:22

    GILROYWhat's RIM?

  • 12:55:24

    NNAMDIThank you.

  • 12:55:25

    DIANEAbout BlackBerry, formally known as RIM...

  • 12:55:29

    DIANE...because I lived here for a long time. I'm from D.C. And I remember during 9/11, my husband used to work on the Hill, and BlackBerries were just taking off then in 2001. And the cellphone networks were totally jammed here as you know on 9/11. And the only things that were working were the BlackBerries because of the satellites that they were on.

  • 12:55:47

    DIANEAnd even to this day, you know, coming off the Hill -- he doesn't work there anymore -- he has a hard time letting go of his BlackBerry. And I know the U.S. government is still a major purchaser of BlackBerry devices. And I'm wondering whether or not, because they work on a different technology, that that's going to maybe save them a little bit. I don't know. I'd like to hear comments on that.

  • 12:56:07

    HARLOWI could be wrong about this, but I thought that they weren't necessarily satellite-based. I think initially when they were -- like, way back when BlackBerries were out there, they were more like two-way pagers. I know those were satellite-based. I had one for another company at that time. I think it was Skytel. But I think these days, they're all just cellphones. So if a cell network went down, then modern BlackBerries would be affected as well.

  • 12:56:28

    NNAMDIDiane, thank you very much for your call. We got an email from Eric, which I suspect Allison will decline to answer, "What's the best way to manage multiple online passwords? There are so many..."

  • 12:56:40

    NNAMDI"There are so many different online accounts now that I find it very difficult to generate independent and strong passwords for each. Do you have any techniques or programs that conveniently manage multiple passwords safely and securely?" Bill.

  • 12:56:53

    HARLOWWell, I'll tell you, there's last passwords I have not used on a regular basis. The one I use is a program -- it's a for-pay program called 1Password, the number one and then password. And they'll make it for Mac, Windows, iOS -- don't know off hand if they make an Android one. And you can sync your -- you could put your password -- well, it's an encrypted file.

  • 12:57:10

    HARLOWYou could put that in drop box if you want, so it's across all devices. And then it has a way for you to very quickly generate strong passwords and also a way to very easily enter them on various websites. And when you go in and you create a new account, it even goes ahead and says, do you want me to save this for future reference? So pretty handy.

  • 12:57:26

    GILROYYeah. That's -- it's a good (unintelligible).

  • 12:57:28

    NNAMDIEither that or have the kind of memory that can cause you to be a counter in a Las Vegas casino.

  • 12:57:32

    HARLOWExactly. That's actually the best way to do it.

  • 12:57:34

    NNAMDIThat's the best way to do it, and...

  • 12:57:36

    HARLOWI recommend it wholeheartedly.

  • 12:57:36

    NNAMDI...and get your knees broken at the same time.

  • 12:57:40

    NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid that's all the time we have with The Computer Guys & Gal. They'll be back next month. John Gilroy is director of business development at Armature Corp., Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, and Allison Druin is ADVANCE professor of the STEM Senior Women's Council and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Thank you all for being here. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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