Solar energy projects are sweeping the region, from rooftop and community solar panels to large-scale farms. We'll talk about community solar programs, bigger solar projects and how these intersect with state legislation.
Amazon bets on video gaming as spectator sport, paying $1 billion for Twitch, a company that lets gamers live-stream the action on their screen and their commentary to fans who follow them. Apple reportedly plans to announce its next-generation phone and a debut smart watch this month. And students heading back to school have cool new tech gadgets to choose from: hologram keyboard, anyone? The Computer Guys and Gal are here.
- John Gilroy WAMU Computer Guy; Director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures
- Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
- Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research; Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance, University of Maryland
Apps of The Month
Somebody, an app by filmmaker and artist Miranda July that allows you to send a message to someone and have it personally delivered by a stranger. It’s less a traditional app and more a social experiment. If you’re in a valid hotspot, I imagine it can be pretty exciting. – Bill Harlow
iTunes U and a TED talks app: On the theme of back to school, two educational resources. The former bills itself as “the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content — right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.” With the latter, you can see the world’s great teachers! –Allison Druin
“Clink,” a happy hour finder. –John Gilroy
Tech In The News
It’s official: Apple has something to share on Sept. 9
What happens to your Facebook feed when you ‘like’ everything?
Wired’s Mat Honan decided to like everything presented in his feed for 48 hours. One interesting tidbit: The feed on his smartphone looked very different from his desktop feed—it was almost exclusively sponsored content and ads.
Back to school… with an eSports scholarship? Morris University in Chicago is offering scholarships to top-tier League of Legends players.
Amazon, not Google, bought gameplay streaming service Twitch for $970 million. Yup, gaming is a popular “spectator sport.”
Just what is Twitch? This video offers an overview
More gaming news
Goodwill targets retro gamers. North Carolina has this Grid concept store. It’s 6,000 ft2 of retro and modern gaming goodness in a clean, bright, and welcoming location.
“An awful week to care about video games”. This article covers a lot of the reprehensible behavior from gamers defending “their” medium, which included graphic threats targeting women, bomb scares and bogus 911 calls.
I’m inclined to agree with Leigh Alexander: Why target so-called “gamers” when the medium has gotten so mainstream?. “Gaming culture” has become irrelevant. It’s just a medium and it can, and should, be for everyone.
Tropes vs Women in Video Games: The latest video was at the center of a lot of the “gamer” backlash, and it’s worth watching, as is the whole series. It’s quite graphic, but through sheer volume really illustrates a lot of what’s wrong with “core” video games and their depiction of women.
How will you get your new iWatch delivered? Google will deliver it with a drone
Sad day for feds, sad day for citizens: the brilliant Todd Park is heading west
The world’s most connected man. (Kojo’s hero?)
Finally, a practical application for a 3D printer: The Army is developing them to print food. (Hey Allison, print me a cheeseburger!)
Step 1: China makes Apple products. Step 2: China bans gov purchase of Apple products.
From Kilobytes to Kilobots: swarming robots
Basketball beckons Billionaire Steve Ballmer. Will he throw chairs at basketball players?
Amazon is the latest tech company to try to promote their school products with scholarships to the best and brightest. These scholarships are not very much, but it could at least help with expenses for a semester. Kids have to apply by November; scholarships will be awarded for the 2015-2016 school year.
When we think about what to bring on that first day of school here’s a couple things I think that are new and happening.
CLASS I, a hologram keyboard. It’s pricey at $120, but it connects to both iOs and Android smartphones and tablets and can project on a flat opaque surface.
New watches. There are lots of rumors around special screens that are resistant to scratches. One of them: the rumored Apple iWatch safire screen. Another: Google’s Android Wear, which could have gesture control. Everything should unfold in September.
For those students having a killer time trying to wake up early again: For a pricey $100,this very cool wakeup light from Philips can play tracks from your iPhone while the light gets brighter and brighter.
School is not just about what we read, write, and add. It’s also about physical fitness as well. And the coolest new thing to hit the basketball court is the Nike LED Basketball court. NBA player Kobe Bryant hosted 30 players from China to train on a full-sized LED basketball court, which boasted projected graphics and motion tracking to help players learn with reactive graphics and drills.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYou know what that sound means. They are here. The Computer Guys and Gal. From WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. They are, in order of least importance, John Gilroy.
MR. JOHN GILROYThank you.
NNAMDIDirector for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures. Welcome.
GILROYWelcome to you.
NNAMDIBill Harlow, he is slightly more important. He is Hardware and Software Technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. Welcome Bill.
MR. BILL HARLOWThank you.
NNAMDIAnd Allison Druin, she has the longest title. Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland, Division of Research and Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. If long titles say importance, then you are the most important person I've ever met.
MS. ALLISON DRUINOh, you are too kind.
NNAMDIYou too can join this conversation. Call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. You can send us a tweet @kojoshow using the hashtag techtuesday. Or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, ask a question, make a comment there. Over the weekend, personal and intimate photos of Hollywood celebrities showed up on various websites, the result of hackers getting hold of embarrassing photos. The FBI is investigating, and some of the stars say they will be pursuing criminal prosecution of both the hackers and anyone who distributed the pictures.
NNAMDINo one knows yet exactly where the security breach occurred, but one possibility is that hackers got into personal iCloud storage accounts. The breach is raising new concerns about the security of cloud storage. It's also prompting a debate about whether this is a case of naïve expectations of privacy and security online, or one of criminal conduct by the hackers that's tantamount, according to some people, to sexual assault. Call us. 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIWhat do you store in the cloud and what do you purposely not store there? Do you think there's a way to make cloud storage more secure? 800-433-8850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. How could hackers get into someone's personal iCloud account or other online storage account, John?
GILROYWell, there's a fellow who lives in Reston named David Linthicum and he's about to publish his fourteenth book, and it's about the cloud. And he blogs a lot, and he says security in the cloud's just like security in the server down the hall. You know, you can be stupid or you can be smart. And you can use the encryption or not encryption. But I want to take and redirect it towards the person who is allowing their picture to be taken.
GILROYYou know, 40 years ago, not too far from here, there was a guy named Nixon who was recording people. They had no idea they were being recorded. You know? But if I'm standing in front of Kojo and we're at the zoo and he takes my picture, I assume it's going to be with a digital camera and I'm assuming that can be copied and sent anywhere instantly. I mean, isn't that the whole idea behind Instagram and Facebook? So, why would someone get a picture taken in a compromising position and not think that it's not going to be distributed instantly.
GILROYIt's in the front page of the Washington Post. That's what I think. So I think, I would not look at the cloud. I would look at the humans involved.
NNAMDIThere are people who say that's tantamount to blaming the victim, that people do things and they have a level of expectation of privacy.
NNAMDIIt's been just violated, Bill Harlow.
HARLOWWell, I would say, in this case, is assuming this was an iCloud hack, my understanding is that there's a brute force attack specifically on one of the services that Apple provides (unintelligible) my iPhone. And they since passed that, but there was a time where people could brute force and it wouldn't lock you out after too many failed attempts. Like most login screens will do. They will actually prevent this sort of thing. So, I think that was an oversight on their end. But as far as victim blaming, I think yeah, if you have a good password and you're taking these photos and storing it in the cloud.
HARLOWYeah, there's always a risk of a hack, but you expect that if you're taking decent measures that people won't get in. And in this case, it sounds like people were going out of their way to try to break in. And that's a little difference. But to get to your point, I will say that if you are taking these personal photos and you're sharing them with somebody, well, you have no idea what their security protocol is. Maybe they've got a stupid, simple password.
HARLOWAnd that's the problem. Anytime you're sharing any data with somebody, it's only as good as the least effective security measure with anybody in that group.
NNAMDIAllison, what are the lessons from this case of private photos being exposed by hackers? There's a growing backlash against what I called earlier blaming the victims, who are taking risky photos and storing them in the cloud in the first place. Some are calling this a form of sexual assault and saying that both the hackers and anyone who posts or views the photos online is a perpetrator. What advice do you have about cloud storage of personal data?
DRUINI think we all have to ask ourselves, what do we really own? And it's, it's confusing. Because we have a cell phone and we think, we take a picture and well, it lives in our cell phone. No, it doesn't live in our cell phone. And that's what's so confusing. That's why our kids are getting in trouble online. That's why we have problems with people not understanding when you post something on social media where it goes. It's that conception of, what do I own and what is private is actually still very, very confusing and is a moving target.
DRUINAnd that's why it's actually really important that we have to educate the public about what we own, how do we make things private, what is private? What is ultimately not able to be private because of our limitations, in terms of technology? And so, I think this opens up a much broader set of questions than, you know, it's your fault. It's his fault. I think it's the conception of what is technology today?
NNAMDI800-433-8850. What do you think? Lena Dunham tweeted, the people that stole these photos are not hackers. They're sex offenders. Remember, when you look at these pictures, you are violating these women again and again. It is not okay. What do you think? 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. I've been trying to share risky pictures of myself for years. Nobody wants to see them.
GILROYNo one will buy mine. I was in the lobby trying to sell them about 10 minutes ago. I didn't get any takers. People would pay me to take them out of the room.
NNAMDIYes, they erase mine.
GILROYI want to go back 40 years to a guy named Bill Cosby. He used to have these funny albums. People would listen to comedy albums back then. He had this one album where he'd say, yeah, I'm walking through a bad neighborhood with 10 dollar bills hanging out of my pocket.
NNAMDIHanging out of my back pocket.
GILROYAnd I would get attacked and he'd be surprised. I mean, let's take this now to 2014. So you take a digital picture of someone in a compromising position and you're shocked. Shocked, I say, that it gets out. I mean, come on now, you have to at least have, you know, average intelligence here in the digital age. Have to bring up to just normal responsibility. So I just want to talk about Bill Cosby, cause it was an awful funny album back then.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Mike in Baltimore who says Apple cannot seem to get any cloud service its ever had, over the decades, to be simple to use and easy to understand. Could you suggest the best source or website to simply explain how a normal human can use it correctly? For instance, no matter how I said it, pictures I keep removing will just never go away. Bill?
HARLOWWell, I think the big thing here is specifically the photo stream feature. So, the way that works is if you have that turned on and you're -- let's say you have all Apple, Windows too. So a PC, MAC, iPhone, iPad, if you have that on, you take a photo with your iPhone. Lock it up, it's on Wi-Fi. It'll put those in the cloud on an Apple's photostream. And then later on, when you go to your other device, it's there as well. You can have it automatically imported to your MAC or PC.
HARLOWSo, that's probably what you're seeing there. Is where you think that you removed something and it kind of shows up again, or in a different place. Cause it's not clear if it's in the photo stream or imported in the library. That sort of thing. As far as making simple sense of that. Well actually, just getting back to talking about privacy in the cloud. You can turn that off. So, if you want to use it just like an old school digital camera, you can turn that feature off. Take photos with your iPhone.
HARLOWThey're not on a computer until you take your USB cable, plug it in and import them into iPhoto. And that might be the safest way to do it, if you're concerned about that sort of thing.
NNAMDIConcerned? Here's David in McLean, Virginia. David, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DAVIDHi Kojo. Hi all.
DAVIDSo, I kind of wanted to say that it's not -- I've used social dating apps before, or location based data apps before, and there are some pictures on there that aren't exactly kosher. And you sort of disassociate yourself. You don't see pictures of faces in them, necessarily. I'm not saying to blame the victim here. I think it can be both. I think you have to have a moment where you say, okay, well, I'm going to try and take some precautionary measures so it's not embarrassing if these things were to get out.
DAVIDBut the people who did this are definitely criminal as well. It's about being smart. In the same sense, like, if you were to give your credit card information to a spam email, well, yes, the people who steal your money are criminals, but you were doing something stupid to let yourself get robbed.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. We got an email from Neil who says, even if I don't save any photos or documents in the cloud, I still have thousands of emails on my webmail accounts. This is a lot of personal information, and I think it qualifies as in the cloud. It certainly does qualify as being in the cloud, and it also is personal information. But we move on. Amazon said, last week, that it's buying a company called Twitch for close to one billion dollars. This lets you see what's important.
NNAMDIIt was able to get the Washington Post for 250 million for Twitch. Four times that much. Twitch lets people watch other people play video games. I'll repeat. Twitch lets people watch other people play video games. Gamers can live stream both their gaming screen and live commentary about why they're making certain moves. And their fans can follow them and watch them play. The popularity of gaming as a spectator sport is also reflected in huge tournaments that are packing arenas from Seattle to Seoul.
NNAMDIQuestion. Do you use Twitch or attend gaming tournaments? Give us a call. 800-433-8850. Do you think gaming should be a varsity sport at colleges and universities? Bill, gaming as a spectator sport is clearly becoming a huge business. Why is it so popular? And not just because you're a gamer.
HARLOWWell, I think it's like anything.
NNAMDIThey're following me.
HARLOWRemember when poker blew up and it was on every channel late at night? I mean, it's just -- if it's a hobby you're into that takes a certain degree of skill, it's competitive. It can be fun to watch, especially if you actively participate. So the great thing about Twitch is if it's a game you're into or a game you're curious about, you can see people, essentially almost like attending an open practice. Actually see the people compete. In many cases, chat with them, chat with people watching and share tips. Share strategies.
HARLOWLearn some things. You can actually see people trying out unfinished games, too. Maybe it's still in an alpha or beta state. And you're watching it being played and demoed while it's still in development. So, I think, all that stuff, it's a little different from sports in that way, but as far as being something that is popular, it makes perfect sense to me.
NNAMDIYou should see the people who show up to watch the players at the US Open practice.
NNAMDIBefore the game. How -- go ahead, John.
GILROYNo, we were in the lobby, and you were talking about Old Crow Medicine Show. And it's dawned on me. I think gamers generate more revenue than music does. I mean, more than the music business. Not quite as much as the movie business, but can you imagine that? I mean, who in your wildest dreams -- no one would have bet that, that of all the music venues in town and everything going with -- gamers generating more revenue than that. It's just, it's like...
NNAMDIHow does a company like Twitch make money, both for its most popular gamers and now for Amazon?
HARLOWWell, I can't -- I don't know what the breakdown is, but it's ad driven. So, if you watch a stream, it shows an ad first. And if you -- if you happen to -- if you need to reload the stream, you see that ad again. So some of that ad revenue goes to Twitch, some goes to the streamers. The more popular ones get a larger cut of that. You can also subscribe to individual channels if you want to back people who are streaming. And that is actually for the more popular ones, a career. And you can also subscribe to version of Twitch where you get to bypass ads, that sort of thing.
GILROYIf your marketing persona is a 25-year-old male...
GILROYIf you're selling, I guess, beer or cars, how else you gonna snag them?
HARLOWYeah, they're not watching TV.
HARLOWThey're on Twitch.
DRUINYou know, but, here. This is what this reminds me of. When I was a kid, there was something called ABC Wide World of Sports.
DRUINOkay? The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.
NNAMDICreated by (unintelligible) .
HARLOWWe all know what we're picturing right now. That one guy going down (unintelligible) .
DRUINRight. Exactly. And I have to tell you, I remember sitting there, actually with my husband, when we were dating, 20 years ago, and him saying, why would anyone want to sit here and watch sports? This is boring. I want to get up and do it. I want to make it happen. And I just thought it was so fascinating, because I'm never gonna get up on one of those, you know, mountains and fall down in the snow. Cause that's not what I'm gonna do, but I like watching it.
DRUINAnd I can understand why 55 million people are doing this, because you know what? This is the next generation of sports. I think it's wonderful.
NNAMDIAnd as a university executive, University of Maryland, listen up, because Robert Morris University, a private school in Chicago, is offering scholarships to video gamers, athletic scholarships, so the school can build a league of legends team. The scholarships will cover up to half of tuition, room and board, equal about oh, 20,000 dollars. Are the skills and teamwork necessary for video gaming worthy of varsity sports status? Bill?
HARLOWI think absolutely. I mean, that -- any online game, the best players, you live and die by how good your team is. It's not necessarily about, you know, how fast or skilled a player you are, but that is important. But the best teams, they always seem to be the ones who practice together, they know the ins and outs of the game together. And that's why they succeed.
DRUINOh, I think this is a brilliant, brilliant turn of events. I -- we have been, for years, thinking about how do you bring sports into the academic arena? And I think this is absolutely wonderful and I'm gonna start talking to my sports director about this.
HARLOWSo when are we gonna call you Coach Druin?
DRUINI'm ready. Oh my goodness, this is so exciting. I love it.
GILROYYou know, what's surprising is many of the innovations and hardware were driven by gamers. And so, when you see your little videos and your hand held, or, you know, a lot of these video innovations, especially, were by gamers trying to beat Bill. And so they're trying to come up with a faster video card and a water cooled one and faster...
HARLOWTo beat me, you just have to show up. That's the reality.
NNAMDIOn to Zachary in Hagerstown, Maryland, who would like to comment on this. Zachary, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ZACHARYHi Kojo. How are you doing today?
NNAMDII'm doing well.
ZACHARYSo, I wanted to talk about the value of the Twitch. And so when you look at these people who are using it, it's a lot of famous youtubers. So, cutiepie, who's the most subscribed youtuber, has over 30 million subscribers. And so when you look at these people who are using Twitch, it's people who have a large following. And so they can get these ads into these gamers who like to watch the others gamers react. It's kind of an experience with these famous people. So I think that's why many people like to watch these online games.
HARLOWThat is definitely true. There are personalities in there who are very popular, cutiepie being, you know, yeah, a huge success story on youtube. Although, his, I think, are less live. Those are more recorded and posted to youtube for later consumption. You know, the nice thing about Twitch, there's a live interaction, I think. And at that point, I think the scale gets interesting, because even if you just have a relatively unknown player who has a few friends and has people show up in the stream and they chat about it.
HARLOWThat's still something fun that you can do where you can kind of share this experience of playing the game and swapping ideas back and forth. I mean, I remember growing up, before any of this existed, just hanging out with a bunch of friends with a Sega Genesis. Or Playstation and playing a game together. And it's sort of the same thing. It's like, if you can't hang out on the same couch, you can do this.
NNAMDIWe'll be able to add to Allison's title, Director of Gaming Operations.
GILROYYes. She'll need two business cards.
DRUINI'm ready. I'm ready.
NNAMDIGotta take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the Computer Guys and Gal and you. Those of you who call 800-433-8850. When we come back, the new Apple iPhone that's supposed to be unbreakable. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with the Computer Guys and Gal. Allison Druin is Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and Co-Director of the The Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Bill Harlow is a Hardware and Software Technician For MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. And John Gilroy is Director of Business Development for BLT Global Ventures. Before we move on to our next topic, Ken in Potomac, Maryland wants to talk about photog -- people accessing the photographs of celebrities. Ken, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KENThank you, Kojo. I just briefly wanted to submit to you and the panel that, you know, I feel like with the rise of social media, and its impact on everybody's day to day life, these companies that profit from that have a responsibility to provide some measure of protection. So, I believe there is a correlation that's gone on for decades with different, you know, movie stars or politicians, who -- they're a public figure, but that doesn't mean that they're giving everybody permission to their -- to access them 24 hours/seven. And invade their privacy. And I think if companies are going to profit from that, then they have a responsibility that's inherent.
NNAMDIAnd you think the rest of us are now beginning to experience what those celebrities and public figures have been experiencing before?
KENYes. Exactly. So I think that it's, you know, as they say, the world's getting smaller and smaller. And I believe that so far, what I've heard in the discussion with the panel is absolutely correct. That we all need to do our part. But, I mean, look how frustrating it is for some movie stars that can't even go and get a cup of coffee. You know, some politicians who, you know, can't walk down the street. And now, every day people, you know, are being exposed to this same type of situations where they never meant to share it with everyone.
NNAMDIYeah, but for some reason or the other, those everyday people don't feel like celebrities when this happens to them. They just feel very badly, personally violated at this point. But you are right. That can give some of us an understanding of how celebrities feel sometimes.
DRUINIt's also confusing, too, when you're on social media and there's -- and you go to a site to read something. It's confusing as to -- there's boxes on the bottom. And sometimes these are, you know, promoted kinds of things that are ads. And if you click on the wrong things, you could end up seeing things you don't want to see. Because you didn't realize what was there. So you have to be very careful about what you're clicking on that's promoted content.
HARLOWYeah, there are ads that blended to look like additional articles.
DRUINExactly. Exactly. So, you yourself, as a reader and user of social media have to be careful too.
NNAMDILabor Day is over. September's here, and that means it must be time for another big announcement from Apple. The tech giant planning a news conference on September 9th. The buzz is that Apple will unveil two larger iPhones to compete with Samsung and a long awaited smart watch. Does a bigger iPhone appeal to you? Give us a call. 800-433-8850. And here's the kicker. Would you pay more for a screen made from a material that would not scratch, would not crack as easily?
NNAMDIShoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. John, what do we know about the size of the two new iPhone models Apple is expected to unveil next week?
GILROYWell, to tell you the truth, you know, Apple's been successful at being secretive about this.
GILROYI mean, no one really, really knows. It's like, it's like when guessing, what did Kojo have for dinner last night? Well, I think he, I think he may have had pasta. No, everyone's trying to surmise and guess here and try to read the entrails of birds and trying to guess. But they've had that ship locked down. I mean, they're building a big, circular headquarters there out in California now. But this current ship is locked down, and all we know is that something's going to come up. Maybe bigger. I don't know what it is. We got until -- how many more days, about...
NNAMDIWell, let's end the uninformed speculation. Allison, there's...
GILROYIt's all uninformed.
NNAMDIWell, we're uninformed. Allison, there's also, apparently, some good news for those people who shall remain nameless, who like to slam dunk their iPhones, with cracked iPhone screens.
GILROYWe don't talk about that.
DRUINAll right. So I lost my screen within a day or two of getting it, but anyway. Yeah, so...
NNAMDIScreens on the more expensive new iPhone models will reportedly be made of synthetic sapphire, which doesn't crack or scratch as easily as glass.
DRUINYeah, it's so amazing.
NNAMDIMade for Allison.
DRUINI was -- made for me, because I'm still walking around with my cracked glass from my iPhone 5, but I was seeing people demonstrating with sandpaper, how it does not scratch. And I thought, that is for me. And so it's not just for the more expensive iPhones. They're also gonna be using this in the, what they believe will be an announced Apple iWatch of some sort.
DRUINYeah. And I have to tell you, how many watch faces have you ever had that were all scratched up too? So, I think this is, you know, it's not a minimal upgrade here. This is a great thing, especially for klutzes, like me.
GILROYA klutz special.
NNAMDIPretty sure somebody's working on a new type of sandpaper that ripped. Apple is also rumored to be launching a smart watch. What do you think it will do?
DRUINWell, it, again, will connect with -- it will connect with their, the iPhone, okay? But mostly, they've been doing a lot of research in looking at what are people actually using over and over again, on their phone. Why do they constantly take their phone out? So, it's going to be in appointments, in texts, weather, time, voice control. That kind of thing.
HARLOWI'm actually more excited about the watch, not that I necessarily want an iWatch. Just because every day, there are rumors leaking out showing purported back panel for the new iPhone and, you know, 4.7 inch size, or 5.5 inch size or whatever. But we don't know anything about the watch. And I'm really curious to see what's going to happen. I have a feeling it will be something pretty cool, because it seems like they're really locking this one down. Like maybe they conclude, okay, whatever, they'll find out the size of the new iPhone, no big deal.
HARLOWBut they might have something secret going on in their skunkworks that's gonna be pretty cool. And one of things I am actually big on is seeing if they release something I'd want to wear. Cause...
NNAMDIBecause he doesn't wear a watch, so we'll know if this is successful.
HARLOWYeah, if you see one on me.
NNAMDIIf Bill shows up here in a watch.
HARLOWSo, if you've looked at any smart watch that's being sold out there now to the mass market, they all look terrible.
DRUINYeah, it's true. I want it to look good, please. Okay?
GILROYYou know, I've said this before. I used to work with a guy who was 25-years-old, and he wore a watch. And it didn't work. It was just a decoration. It was expensive.
HARLOWJust a bracelet.
GILROYYeah, that's all.
DRUINBut you do have to think about when you're creating something that's physical, you have to think about the size and the design and the display. And then, eventually, the software interface, and that's, that's really important.
NNAMDIJohn, if someone in your family is using a smart watch or a fitness tracker, you need to be aware of potential security risks. How can some wearable gadgets open us up to possible data breaches and what steps has Apple taken to prevent that?
GILROYWell, I think the listeners should tune in. You know, Semantic did a study that looked at 100 top health apps on the app store and saw some problems with all of them. And different types of problems. And if you read what -- about the study, they talk about three fourths of Americans wear these little FitBits, these little devices to moderate their physical activity. Which I just -- astonishes me. I can't believe that anyone even wearing one of these things, but they do.
GILROYThe point is that when you have -- I just had one thrown at me.
DRUINFrom Bill, not me.
GILROYFrom Bill. No, she threw her phone at me. That's how it broke the last time. But a lot of people wear them. And so, they seem innocuous, but who owns this information? The first level of security is just the device itself. The second transforming may be to your telephone and the third is sitting in the cloud. And who owns this information? I don't think they really know. There's been such a forced innovation on creating devices that are profitable and stylish and that people like and don't like.
GILROYAnd they go in and out of fashion that they haven't worried about security. And, you know, is this tracking you, by the way, Bill? Is this...
HARLOWNot where I go, just how far I go.
GILROYYou don't know that.
DRUINBut you know, this is...
HARLOWThere's no GPS in this one.
DRUINThis is an important point, though.
HARLOWNow my run keeping app, yes, they know where I'm going.
DRUINOh yes, that's true. No, but it's an important point. Is that people are calling it your quantified self. Okay? That, in other words, we're keeping data on ourselves. We're keeping big data on ourselves. And the more quantifying -- quantified data that we create on ourselves, the more there's a market for, you know, for different kinds of things to -- that will track these things. And the more openness to security.
GILROYWell, someone like Kojo Nnamdi can start up Kojo Industries and take all that data and sell it back to you. I mean, I'm sure that's what people are thinking. Well, it's free. I'm just gonna absorb it and say, would you like to have your health report there, Mr. Bill? We'll take and send it back to you for 50 bucks. I mean, this is the concern of all this data you're generating and creating. I mean, who owns it? And who's gonna take advantage of it?
NNAMDIOn to the phones again. Here is Christina in Alexandria, Virginia, speaking of gaming. Christina, your turn.
CHRISTINAHi. I just kind of wanted to comment on the fact that these colleges are now starting to offer scholarships for e-sports. I think it's great.
CHRISTINAWell, it's really like kind of a huge culture that's been growing steadily since like, you know, you all mentioned everyone kind of sits in their living room, sitting around watching people play video games. Well now, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people can get together and watch other people play video games digitally. Through Twitch, through youtube, any kind of online streams. And major game companies are now kind of taking advantage of that as well. And actually putting together professional teams of gamers that people can watch play games.
NNAMDIIndeed. We got a tweet from someone who says, I tried to be a competitive gamer back several years ago. It's now cool to see the world playing League of Legend on Twitch. Bill, are you a competitive gamer?
HARLOWNo. No. No. I'm terrible. And I'll be honest. Like, the type of games these, they're called MOBAs. I think it's Multiplayer Online Battle Arena is what it stands for. They just don't appeal to me, personally. But it's still neat to watch, because -- especially just the sheer spectacle of the big Dota 2 tournament called the International. That is a juggernaut. 11 million dollar prize purse, I believe, in that tournament. So that alone makes it worth watching to me.
HARLOWAnd I get to -- they actually had a newbie stream this year. So, someone like me doesn't play, I can actually have some idea of what's actually going on there, because it looks pretty confusing. There are so many characters onscreen at once.
DRUINBut you know, it's about teaching people more about the strategies, about the innovation, and this is great in terms of problem solving.
HARLOWAnd being a good teammate, too.
NNAMDIThank you for your call, Christina. On to Timothy in Fairfax, Virginia. Timothy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TIMOTHYHi Kojo and guests. I just wanted to say that I actually run Pokemon card game and video game tournaments in Fairfax.
TIMOTHYAnd some of the larger tournaments use Twitch to show how games are played. So as the games are being played, they're shown on Twitch for anyone that wants to watch. And one of the benefits to watching games -- there was the comment about why would you want to just watch when you can play. Some people watch to learn how to play.
TIMOTHYSo they can see new strategies that they may not know or what really good players are doing when they play. And maybe those people watching can integrate those moves and plays into the way they view the game.
NNAMDIYeah. Well, apparently, the watching of the games is a big thing. Do people pay to watch your illegal poker games in your basement?
GILROYNo. I'm just thinking. The only times I ever watched. When I used to live in Central America, people would sit around and play chess and you'd watch them and learn different techniques for chess.
GILROYI mean, this is one...
HARLOWVery similar to that, I think, in a lot of ways.
GILROYAnd I guess in New York, they have parks where people do that, too.
NNAMDIWhen he was known as Juan Gilroy.
GILROYYeah, Juanito Gilroyo.
DRUINBut it is also about modeling -- modeling behavior and also having mentors. So, I mean, we always complain about how few women there are in gaming. Well, if we have women up there that are competing and actually people -- 50 million people see this, maybe, just maybe there'll be more women that actually do this.
NNAMDIThe White House confirmed this week that the nation's Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, is decamping for Silicon Valley. He's leaving his current post, but will continue to be a tech advisor and recruiter for the President. Todd Park joined us on the show last year from the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Data Palooza. John, what's the significance of his departure for Washington?
GILROYThis guy, this guy is so smart, he's needs a wheel barrel carrying all his brains. I mean, this guy is one of the most brilliant guys I ever met. He is really smart. And he came in, and he did great things. He helped everybody. This is like the most selfless. He's a wonderful guy and he's gonna go back to California and still be part of the government by recruiting. But this was, you know, a young guy. Brilliant, self-made millionaire.
GILROYDecided to come to D.C. to help things out and he did. It's just it's real sad. And I think he was a good person for all the federal employees to look up to and go, well geez, you know, he's made some progress in some of these areas. And it's gonna be interesting to see who they replace him with. But Todd (unintelligible) impressive Healthcare IT, the datapalooza. And I'm sure a lot of his effect is gonna be seen for many, many years. So, it's bad for everyone. Bad for govies, bad for the citizens, but let's hope he can recruit some talent out there that can come in and shake things up and accomplish some things.
DRUINBut it's a very...
NNAMDIAnd we know what Todd is doing every first Tuesday of the month from noon to one, so good luck Todd.
DRUINBut it's -- I think he's got a great title that somebody else might be able to apply for. So if anybody needs a cheap technology officer, I mean, I could...
GILROYOh, we have a candidate right here in Allison.
GILROYYou can add that to your title.
HARLOWAre you gonna moonlight -- yeah, exactly. Add more syllables?
GILROYIt's gonna be like an accordion business card. Oh yeah. This -- Director of the Future, Gamer, Chief Gamer, Vice-President of Gaming, Chief Technology Officer of the United States.
NNAMDISteve Ballmer already stepped down as Microsoft's CEO. Now he's leaving the company's board as well to spend more time with his favorite basketball team, the L.A. Clippers. Which he also happens to own, for two billion dollars. What does that mean for the future of Microsoft and for its new CEO, Satya Nadella?
GILROYI think he's gonna change the name from the Clippers to the Chair Throwers. It's gonna be the Los Angeles Chair Throwers. People in the community are very familiar with the temper of this guy named Ballmer. And this guy has a strange reputation at Microsoft, and I know some of the higher level people have told me stories about him. He's quite the character. Hey, he earned a living by making a big impact in operating systems. And the world done changed. It changed around. Now, it's all about the cloud.
GILROYAnd having two CEOs in that board, this is having two big dogs and they're gonna be circling each other and growling. So you wanna have one big dog in all of Los Angeles throwing chairs and one guy who can at least maybe play the game...
NNAMDISo you're saying when the Dallas Mavericks are playing, with owner Mark Cuban...
GILROYThe Los Angeles Chair Throwers.
NNAMDI...are playing the L.A. Clippers with Steve Ballmer, the action between the owners might be more exciting than the action on the court?
GILROYWell, one guy talks a lot. One guy throws chairs. This is gonna be important than the basketball game itself.
NNAMDILet's see what Cassandra...
HARLOWI might tune in.
GILROYForget about the gamers, I want to see these two guys.
NNAMDIWhat has Cassandra in Finksburg, Maryland want to talk about? Cassandra, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CASSANDRAHi, Kojo. I just wanted to say I love your show. I was actually calling because somebody recently recommended a book to me called "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline. I don't know if anybody's heard of it. But it's fantastic. But anyway, the whole plot of the book is that there's this immersive reality called, I think, Oasis, that's taken over and everybody kind of goes to that instead of, you know, real world interaction, which is not what I want to talk about. But this Oasis reality, the creator of it dies without an heir and he leaves this like huge plot of like going to the immersive reality and finding like certain things that essentially when you win -- if you win the game, you get his entire corporation now.
CASSANDRAThe reason you're show's reminding me of this, which is because they actually have like this other like huge like Internet corporation trying to win this game. And so they have floors upon floors of professional gamers and just like also people who understand the content really well. And all of this is going towards trying to take over like this multi-million dollar immersive reality game. But it's really interesting because I think that like building up a society where we encourage people to, you know, get better and better at gaming, what have you, kind of leads to that interesting plot that he was looking at as far as, you know, having like professional gamers working in more of like a corporate atmosphere to take care of other competitors.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much. We got an email from A. J. who says, "We took our 7- and 10-year-olds to the Pokemon World Championship in D.C. a couple of weekends ago and had a great time. I was expecting to be hit over the head with product pitches, but instead found more playing, both card and video, than pitches. My 10-year-old is on the autism spectrum, very high functioning, but can get overwhelmed in some social situations. He loves watching other gamers' videos, but rarely watches to learn specific skills or moves. It finally dawned on me he's watching as a social outlet. I believe he has gained conversation skills by watching the videos.
NNAMDIHe and his friends have long, passionate conversations about the videos they watch. I will never forget Dr. Druin speaking to -- " who the heck is that? "I will never forget Dr. Druin speaking to University of Maryland grad students about TV and social interaction. She said watching TV did not need to be a solo activity and that shared program watching can be a great conversation starter. We try to keep our watching a group activity, but I see it as an important teaching tool in our house." Taught to them by Dr. Allison Druin.
GILROYWow, pretty fancy, huh?
NNAMDIShe is useful after all.
HARLOWShe's just Dr. Druin then. It must have been so long ago.
GILROYI thought she made up all those titles.
DRUINAh, go figure.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, the lady with the title, The Computer Gal, and the Computer Guys will be with us. And we're hoping you join the conversation. Call us at 800-433-8850. Or send email to email@example.com. Shoot us a tweet @kojoshow using the hashtag TechTuesday. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComputer Guys and Gal are with us. John Gilroy is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. And Allison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. A lot of schools started last week. Some are starting up the school year today. That means back-to-school shopping not only for clothes and locker or dorm-room fixtures, but for tech gadgets. What's your must-have tech device for the new school year? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NNAMDIAllison, a lot of tech companies are trying to win over college-bound students with special offers and even financial assistance. Amazon is offering 50 merit scholarships to help with tuition and textbooks, which you have to buy from Amazon of course. What's the strategy here?
DRUINWell, it's actually something that's been used for many, you know for many decades in -- with technology companies that -- where they want to, you know, to appeal to college crowds, so that obviously they grow up thinking, using and when they leave colleges, they're going to use these technologies. Now with Amazon, it's very -- it's actually one of the first times that we've seen actually 50 full-time undergrad scholarships. Now these are not -- these are only $5,000 a piece. This is -- and let me just remind you that college tuition costs a lot more than that -- but it is actually, I hope, what will be a wave of the future.
DRUINSo folks, if you have kids, apply by November so that by next year -- by next September, you potentially could get a scholarship. And they're looking for what they say, extraordinary ability in leadership and innovative thinking. So they're going to look at GPA, community work and leadership experience.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones again. Here, now, is Theo in Chantilly, Va. Theo, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Hi, Theo, are you there? Oh, maybe that was my fault, not clicking on Theo. Theo, you are now clicked on. You're there.
THEOThank you. And I just, thanks for having me on.
THEOI just wanted to make a comment from, you know, the topic where...
THEO...gamers are getting scholarships for their skills. I think it's really great that, you know, you have your big sports stars that are -- get scholarships for playing football and basketball. And there's a, you know, a community of people that, you know, maybe they don't have physical, you know, attributes to compete at that level. But they're very great at, you know, gaming and the teamwork that they're doing there. And I think it's really nice that they're getting some recognition for those skills.
NNAMDIThere seems to be a unanimous view that this is a good thing, Theo. So thank you for sharing that with us. Okay, now, Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a little Bluetooth laser device that projects a holographic keyboard onto a table. You can use it to type on any smartphone or tablet. How does it work and who's a good candidate to get one, Allison?
DRUINOh, it's really amazing.
GILROYIt's like from "Star Trek," is what it sounds like.
DRUINIt actually, a few years ago, there was a TED Talk, that actually -- that showed this in more of a demonstration form. I think this came out of the MIT Media Lab. But now, there it is. It's a small little device. It's not big. Of course, it costs $120, so let me remind you of this. But if you're wandering around and you need a keyboard, and you only need to pull it out every once in a while, this is an amazing device. Because it basically looks like a little laser. And you can type. And you type on a surface. Now, you have to have a flat surface, folks, because it's going to drive your hands crazy and the sensors crazy. But it is a beautiful device.
HARLOWEarly prototypes are real glitchy. Their -- eight years ago they had early prototypes of these things and they kind of -- kind of mostly worked. I think they've overcome them now, though.
DRUINYeah. Now this connects up to iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It's called Class I. And it's basically a tiny projector and it's -- that's projecting a keyboard on surfaces.
NNAMDIOkay. For Bill Harlow and other students who have trouble getting up in the morning, Phillips has a wake-up light that might help. Allison?
DRUINYes. This is so -- this is cute. Again, it's a little pricey, a hundred bucks. But essentially what happens is, when you set the time, it's -- the light slowly gets brighter and brighter. And you can -- and it plays tracks from your iPhone and you get wake-up -- and you also get various different wake-up sounds and so on. And it's -- it eases you into reality is what it -- they say.
NNAMDIWill that work for you, Bill?
HARLOWNo, I need something a bit more jarring. Actually, believe it or now, if I wear my Fitbit on the wristband, that works really well. It's just a small vibration motor on my wrist. But for some reason, that wakes me up.
DRUINOh, that's scary.
GILROYMy father once woke me with a belt.
DRUINYou know, this is too much information.
GILROYThat's what woke me up. It was on the legs.
GILROYIt was on the legs so I thought it was fair.
HARLOWWas it a Bluetooth belt?
GILROYNo, it was on the legs.
HARLOWCan you get one for iPhone?
NNAMDIWe got an email from E. J. about the hacked photos, who says, "When the dust settles on the celeb leaks, I believe the leak will not be from a single source, but multiple sources who trade illicit photos on the Deep Web, the portion of the Web not indexed by search engines, for Bitcoin. Much like illegal art is traded on the black market for the consumption and enjoyment of those who participate in that culture." What do you say, John?
GILROYThe Deep Web, huh?
NNAMDIIt's impossible, huh?
GILROYYou know, I'm in the Cloud -- I'm a Cloud guy now. You know, I think it's up to the people taking the pictures. Hey, you're all grown up. You know what's going on. And you're responsible.
NNAMDIHere is a post from Shelly, who says, "I would pay good money to have a waterproof phone. The scratch-proof screen is quite welcome. But it is so easy for water to seep under the screen and damage the entire phone." Does that mean that after we get the slam-dunk-proof phone, we're still going to need the waterproof phone?
GILROYPut it in a zip-lock bag.
DRUINBut you -- no, actually...
HARLOWSamsung has one now, actually.
DRUINYeah, he's not too far off. Actually there are pouches that you can carry your iPhone with. And I actually have gotten to the point where I do carry my iPhone in a -- hanging around my neck a lot of the time. And they do have these waterproof pouches. And it works really well.
HARLOWYeah, Samsung, I think, is the only one that really sells one that -- out of the box, you can make it water-resistant, waterproof and seal up the ports.
GILROYAnd, ladies and gentlemen, Allison's pouch is like from the discos in 1976 (unintelligible) ...
HARLOWThe Studio 54 -- exactly.
GILROYIsn't it? It is.
DRUINAll right. Well, I'm also -- I just purchased one that's black leather, because I'm thinking it's a little to ostentatious. Anyway.
NNAMDIHere's Ellen in Takoma Park, Md. Ellen, your turn.
ELLENHi, yes. Hi, Kojo. I was listening intently, because you're talking about electronics that students can purchase. But in Montgomery County, my third grader is being given a Chrome notebook. And what's not being told to the parents is, what are the privacy issues, the email addresses that they're creating? How are they going to purge the data? What are they collecting on my child and everyone else's? And so I think that -- and we're not even teaching them how to type correctly, so they're going to be peckers. Any thoughts on that from the panel?
NNAMDIWell, as a pecker myself, don't knock it. But go ahead, Allison.
DRUINYeah. You're school should absolutely be telling you what their data plan is and their plan for privacy. I would not be too concerned, to be perfectly honest with you, with what's going to go on those Chromebooks, because essentially they're -- it's just going to be their -- the kid's assignments. It's not going to be -- in fact, actually that's why Montgomery County is giving out these machines as opposed to having people purchase their own. Because no personal information is supposed to be on those things. It's only supposed to be their work and so on. I don't know how well it's going to work, and that's the problem.
NNAMDIAnd good luck to you, Ellen. Thank you for calling.
NNAMDITime for our app of the month. John Gilroy, your app is for a targeted audience -- anyone looking for Happy Hour options in Dupont Circle.
GILROYRight. Right. It's great. I was having lunch -- I was having...
NNAMDIIt's called -- it's called Clink.
GILROYI was having lunch with Dr. Pablo Molina last week. And I said, there must be some fun stuff going on here or something. And I found this little app called Clink where, you know, you're downtown, there's a snowstorm or something and you're looking for some whiskey bar or something, just fire it up and it tells you where the good places are. What a fun little app.
NNAMDIJuan and Pablo, both telling you that you should get Clunk. Allison, you're favorite app this month is educational, for those of us who'd like to be lifelong learners.
DRUINYes. It's iTunes U. Essentially it's -- it got me thinking that there is -- you can get an app that essentially gives you access to all this free courseware from various different universities. I have to say that University of Maryland is not on iTunes U, so I am...
DRUIN...so I am not promoting something my own university's on, so I have to tell you. But, you know, it's got courses from around the world -- Australia, Japan, Norway, MIT's there, Chicago Institute of Art, Berkeley, GW, so on. It's just another way of getting information out to people and I think it's wonderful.
GILROYThey're shaming the people in College Park. That's what it sounds like.
DRUINYes, it's for sure.
NNAMDIBill, your app of the month involves both technology and strangers.
NNAMDIHow does the Somebody app work?
HARLOWSo it's a social experiment masquerading as an app. And it's by Miranda July, a filmmaker and artist, and a team of designers. And the idea behind it is that, if you want to send someone a message, you use this app. And if they're within a hotspot area, another app user who is a stranger to this person, will personally go over there and deliver the message. So it's kind of like, you know -- it's kind of an exciting little way to interact. People have a surprise in your life. And I don't think there's anything going on around here. But you can set up your own hotspot. So if that's something you want to do, maybe at the University of Maryland, and play around with this, it might be kind of fun.
DRUINYeah. A good experiment.
GILROYDo you want someone like me waltzing up to you going, hi.
DRUINNo. I really don't.
HARLOWYou've got a voice made for radio, John. So, yes.
GILROYWow. Talk about getting the police called immediately.
NNAMDIYou need to understand, most people are not like you.
DRUINThat's a good point.
NNAMDIHere's Bruce in Marysville, Va. Bruce, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRUCEYes. You had mentioned equipment or technology for going back to school.
BRUCEWell, about two weeks ago, I took my son to college for the first time. Spent $2,000 on a MacBook Pro. And I come to find out, there's not a lock available to secure this thing. Is there anything available in the market?
HARLOWYeah, there's no -- what's it called, the Kensington Security Slot -- there's not one built into that. So you'd have to use something that I guess would adhere to the shell. There -- I seem to remember there were some other ones too that actually plug it in and secure into ports. But I'm just -- the names are escaping me. But I think if you Google, like, MacBook Pro retina security locks, you'll probably find some stuff out there that's a little outside the box.
BRUCEOkay. Yeah, we ran around quite a bit and never found anything.
NNAMDIHey, thanks, Bruce. And good luck to you. We move on now to Yvonne in Washington, D.C. Yvonne, your turn.
YVONNEYes. I have a question for your panelists. Our son has a Samsung Chrome for school. And we are trying to figure how to prevent or disable video streaming while he's on the laptop. We can't seem to find how to do that.
NNAMDIWhy do you want to do that?
YVONNEWell, because, you know, he does all his homework -- everything is done online at school. And they have a page where they go up, they get their homework and they do it on the laptop. But in between doing the work, he's on the -- he's playing videos.
NNAMDIOkay. Bill Harlow.
HARLOWWell, I'm not aware of a way to disable video wholesale. It might be more effective to figure out what sites he's going to, if it's like YouTube or Twitch. Various...
YVONNEYouTube, I think.
HARLOWSo it might be easier to just try to block YouTube. In your case, it might be worth looking at something like OpenDNS.com. It's -- you need to know a little bit about how to tweak either the Chromebook or your router. But if you...
HARLOW...but if you plugged it in and sign up, you can actually set up filtering at a household level.
GILROYIf she has permissions to do that. I don't know if the schools assign Chrome...
DRUINBut doesn't he need that for -- sometimes doesn't he need that to do research? So I would be careful about blocking too many things that he might need for school.
YVONNEYeah. I mean, that's a challenge as well. But I think mostly he's just going on, playing video games.
HARLOWAnd it might be what times of day he's doing that, too, as well.
DRUINSo maybe it's a time -- or where do you place this -- where do you place his...
NNAMDIYou only have about 40 seconds.
DRUINOkay. Put him in the -- put him in the living room, so you can watch him. And then you can just zap him every time he does something.
GILROYThe quick answer. Wow.
NNAMDIMore than anything else, Yvonne, good luck with that. Bill Harlow, he's a hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
HARLOWAnd I don't condone zapping.
GILROYGet a belt.
NNAMDIAllison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. And John Gilroy is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures.
NNAMDIThank you all for joining us. And thank you all, for tolerating us. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
The latest on the fight for D.C. statehood, the political fallout from Maryland's Speaker of the House race, and a remembrance of Sterling Tucker.
Can we separate the art from a tortured artist?
D.C., Maryland and Virginia continue to place more and more restrictions around purchasing tobacco products, like increasing the taxes and raising the minimum purchasing age. How do these new restrictions affect smokers? And how successful are they at curbing youth smoking?