On this last episode, we look back on 23 years of joyous, difficult and always informative conversation.
Microsoft unveils its new Windows 10 operating system, melding its touch-screen tiles with a classic, mouse-friendly format. Apple’s iOS 8 glitches and “bendgate” don’t slow sales of its bigger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. And Facebook dials back its insistence on real names for users after an outcry from the LGBT community — including drag queens. The Computer Guys and Gal explore the month’s tech news.
- Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research; Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance, University of Maryland
- John Gilroy WAMU Computer Guy; 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.
Apps Of The Month
Mechanical typewriters are not just for hipsters. Created by Tom Hanks, Hanx Writer recreates the experience of a manual typewriter, but with the ease and speed of an iPad.
The iPhone has one of the finest cameras out there, but many users with photographic ambition often fight to work around its automatic focus and metering. Manual puts all the advanced camera settings in your hands.
Not a true app, but an accessory to go with your camera app: the Promaster Selfie Stick to help you take better photos.
On Windows 10:
On iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:
On iOS 8 Encryption Keeps Law Enforcement Out:
On Data Security Breach:
Facebook’s policy on pseudonyms and the LBGT community:
On New Products and News:
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's The Computer Guys and Gal, you know that, you hear that great music.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYep, they're here, John Gilroy, Director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures. Allison Druin, Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland, Division of Research and Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. And Bill Harlow, Hardware and Software Technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. Together, they are known as The Computer Guys and Gal, and are here the first Tuesday of every month to talk about, what, John Gilroy? Anything you feel like?
MR. JOHN GILROYYeah, just about it.
MS. ALLISON DRUINHelp us, aah.
GILROYWe try to limit it to 200 topics.
NNAMDIMicrosoft unveiled its new Windows 10 operating system last week, this new system merging the best of the classic Windows 7 with some of the new Windows 8 tile navigation, and makes a quantum leap into the future, by passing -- bypassing a Windows 9 version and going straight to Windows 10. The new Windows 10 blends touch screen and mouse and keyboard navigation.
NNAMDIWhat do you think are the best features of each? Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Did you upgrade to Windows 8 when it came out? Are you likely to try the new Windows 10? For me, the answer is yes. What is it for you? You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow using the hashtag techtuesday. You can go to our website, kojoshow.org, join the conversation there. Allison Druin, first, the name, Microsoft decided to skip Windows 9 all together, call its new product Windows 10. Will the extra distance from the not-so-popular Windows 8 make any psychological difference to users?
DRUINWell it actually -- it's interesting, because we have OS10, and we have the notion of one operating system with the one and zero. They're really looking for bigger distance from 8, and you know, I mean, there was that really amusing joke that, you know, that joke blog that someone put out there that said, you know, on April Fool's, that they were just gonna skip right from 8 and go to 10...
GILROYYeah that was (unintelligible), yeah.
DRUIN...and go for it, and you know what? It happened. So jokes can happen. So I think it, you know -- they keep saying, well, it deserves two skips up because it's such a big change. I don't know about that.
GILROYMy theory is that Steve Ballmer absconded with Windows 9 when he left the company and we're gonna put -- WAMU's gonna put Allison on this -- bloodhound, Connecticut Avenue, and look for that Windows 9. Start off with Steve Ballmer, and maybe those basketball guys in L.A., that's what I think's going on. Steve Ballmer's fault.
NNAMDIAll I know is that every time I turn on my Windows 8, I expect a new surprise. Bill, describe how Windows 10 works. It tries to merge the familiarity of Windows 7, with the tiles that launch apps in Windows 8.
MR. BILL HARLOWSo what's kind of funny is that since Windows 8.0 came out, Microsoft has kind of tweaked that as well, so like the current version of Windows 8.1 is actually kind of closer to the way that Windows 10 is going to be, more desktop appropriate. So some people have actually previewed it, and -- you can download a tech preview for Microsoft if you're daring. You know, don't put it on a critical machine, obviously. But they say, yeah, it's probably closer to a Windows 8.2 and that the big jump in numbers is probably, you know, more psychological, more for marketing to say, hey, this is absolutely not Windows 8. Look, look how many numbers away it is from Windows 8. This is totally different.
GILROYLet me just jump in with some numbers here, this is from "Wired" magazine. Windows 7, 50 percent market share...
HARLOWI still use it.
GILROYWindows XP, 24 percent market share, Windows 8, 12 percent market share. They had to do something, didn't they?
HARLOWThey did, they did. But the thing that interests me that -- and I don't know if it's gonna work, but they're really going for a dynamic user interface, so the idea is that they want a Windows 10 branded product on all their -- all the devices that can run it, so anything from a phone to a tablet to a desktop PC, to -- it even showed like a picture that had an Xbox screen on it. So, I don't know if that's gonna work, but the idea that it can be responsive, depending on what sort of interface you have.
HARLOWAre you, you know, is it touch screen? Are you touching the screen? Is there a mouse and keyboard plugged in, you doing that conventionally? Is there a Kinect hooked up to it, as they showed with that Xbox screen? So it's a -- again, if they can do it, that's a big if in my mind, if they can do it, that's really impressive.
GILROYMy question for Allison here is, so they had Xbox 360, and then they came up with Xbox One. (unintelligible)
HARLOWNumbers mean nothing at Microsoft.
GILROYWhat's going on here, can you explain that?
DRUINWell, look, I mean, the adapted design actually is a critical part of what this Windows 10 is supposed to be. Now, you have to ask yourself, if you're designing for all these different foreign factors, what do you lose in that?
DRUINBecause when you don't design specifically for a foreign factor, you may lose things. On the other hand, and Bill wants to say something.
HARLOWI've got to jump in here because they're making claims about how you don't have to, you know, code for all these instances, all these environments, you can just, you know, the (word?) tools will magically streamline that. What you said earlier, I think you need to make a human choice here, in most cases. I can't imagine that you can just let software handle it for you.
DRUINI mean, I think there is something about how difficult it is to make different platforms work together, so if you've got one unified operating system, then you've got a better chance of making these things work together. On the other hand, there's so many differences between these platforms, I cannot believe that they are not actually changing things under the hood significantly so it's hard to say this is really just one operating system.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, not that you have conducted a poll, but you know these things because some analysts say Windows users, especially in the business world, long for the past, and their Windows 7 experience. What has been your experience?
GILROYIt's not the past, it's the current.
GILROYYou know, most of the software developers I know, you know...
HARLOWThey operate in the now.
GILROYYeah, the operating system is there, but it's mostly browser and browser dependability, response to design, getting into arguments about how to implement response to design, speed, Chrome, and so this operating system is there, and I think people, you know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, if Windows 7 works, and that's not really -- I don't think they scratch their head and worry about Windows 7, they worry more about what a website's gonna look like, and oh my goodness gracious, what about this new way to present things. That's the key, not -- the operating system's almost a passing thought.
NNAMDIWell I'll tell you what Windows 8 has made me do. You will now find fingerprints all over the screen of my monitor. Will desktop and laptop computers eventually have touch screens rather than a mouse?
HARLOWI hope not, and part of that is that I've got this weird pet peeve, and you know, I work in the design industry, and I remember I would want to wring people's necks if they would be like, can you change that, and poke at my screen. And now we're all expected to do that on purpose, which I find kind of ridiculous.
DRUINOh, but it is gonna switch. I mean, it's already there. We're growing up a generation of kids that...
HARLOWJust don't make it the primary interface.
HARLOWI do not, I don't want to do this all day with my...
HARLOW...arm in the air.
DRUINBut they don't use mice, nobody uses mice, and everybody is going back and forth between touch and so on. I mean, I do think that there are styluses, there are other things that people will end up using, but yeah, I mean, mice are the last century, sorry.
HARLOWSo in the touch screen future, we're all gonna have massive, massive shoulder muscles.
DRUINIt's so true.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy will have a punch screen.
GILROYYou know, if you really want to get a software developer mad at you, here's what you do. Just waltz over there, lean over, and touch that screen in front of them.
GILROYYou'll get a chair thrown at you immediately. I mean, that really, the whole touch screen with software developers -- you gotta wonder, who came up with that idea, you know? It's just not good.
DRUINNow, but you've got to think about Windows 10 and what they're saying about, that they're actually saying, oh, we've listened to our customers, this is a version that's being shaped by our customer feedback and so on, and I think that's actually one of the first messages that I've heard from them about customer feedback in a long time. Now, is it because they missed so horribly with the user interface on (word?) ? Is it because they're not getting people to upgrade to an operating system? There are many things.
DRUINI mean, I think that the real question is, how do you get people to upgrade? And look, I'm the worst person to upgrade, I wait.
GILROYNow here's the problem with feedback. You know, and Henry Ford said this, and we all know the quote, is that if you had just asked people what they wanted, they want a faster horse. And so that's the problem with these upgrades. Maybe, maybe the interface...
NNAMDINot all us of are contemporaries of Henry Ford, you know.
GILROYWent to high school with him.
DRUINThat's a very good point, thank you.
GILROYHe used to be on the basketball team with me in high school.
NNAMDIWell how does the micro move trying to be an operating system for all Windows devices, from computers to tablets to smartphones, with a tailored experience for each device, how does that compare with the Apple ecosystem? How important is an operating system that works across all of a company's devices?
HARLOWWell, I prefer the Apple method myself. I like the idea that, you know, this -- and they're pretty focused. They'll make something like an iPhone and it's designed to do very specific things, and they tailor the interface to do exclusively that. The -- and it's worked well, to make the devices things that are highly functional and easy to figure out, for the most part. Where Microsoft's trying to get around that is basically say, look, we want to make the job easier for our developers, that, you know, they can minimize the amount of work they put into coding the software, so it can run on the most devices. And there's value to that, it's just, again, I question how easy it is to pull that off.
NNAMDIYou were working on Windows 7, you think you'll make the leap to Windows 10?
HARLOWEventually. I have a Windows 8 home theatre PC and at the time I put it together, that was the OS that was easily available, and given I don't have to touch the interface that much, that's fine, but on my desktop PC, I expect I'll go to Windows 10 eventually.
NNAMDIHewlett Packard said yesterday it's going to split into two companies, one that sells personal computers and printers and one that sells business technology, like servers and data storage equipment. What does that say about, that split say about the future of personal computers and Windows software in the age of smartphones and cloud storage?
HARLOWWell, in the case of HP, we'll see because I don't think they have a great post-PC plan, but at the same time, with tablet sales kind of leveling off, you know, I don't know if that's necessarily going to be a huge issue. The jury's still out on that.
GILROYIn my world, the world of cloud, there's Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and there's like this little six year old that wants to play tackle with the big boys, HP, and they want to get in the game, and they're trying to get in the game, and what she thinks is that, well, finally, we're gonna just take off the handcuffs and release our team and go after this cloud business where they see a lot of profit, and so that's what HP is, and when I first saw the term HP Inc., I thought of "Monsters, Inc."
GILROYI don't know why, but the PCs and printers and I'm sure they have a legacy in there, and the most interesting thing about HP is that they want to come up with a logo so that it'll look the same upside down, HP, flip it upside down. So that's an important fact to know, Kojo.
NNAMDIWe've got an email from James in Arlington, who says...
NNAMDI..."I know it becomes a favorite pastime to rag on Windows 8 when consumers rejected the redesigned interface, but I was honestly surprised that it was such a big flop. I rather enjoyed the start page and the Metro app tiles layout that replaced the traditional start menu that's been around since the Windows 95 version at least. My question is this, has Windows arrived at the cultural point where it almost cannot be substantially revised in terms of its graphical layout, because people have become accustomed to it as the default standard for personal computing?
NNAMDISeems a lot like the old keyboards we still use, they were designed simply so that typewriter hammers wouldn't get stuck together, but are still alive and kicking well into the PC tablet age because people don't want to adapt to news formats." Allison?
DRUINThat is such a good point.
NNAMDIIt really is.
DRUINReally good point. But I'm gonna point the writer of that email to Google. If you looked at the Google search interface, since 19, you know, '99 to now, it is dramatically different, however, they make very incremental...
DRUIN...very, very solid, but very subtle changes. But absolutely for good reason, so when they were noticing that people were not going and clicking on maps and some of the other, you know, images, and so on, they actually tried to make it so that they would divert people's eyes over to a corner of the screen. They've tried many things, but they worked very hard not to be disruptive, but to actually be incremental and leverage...
GILROYI think one guy, his job is to figure out what color blue to use on the Google screen, and he worked it and worked it and worked it, he got so frustrated, and now he's at Twitter.
HARLOWI think that, but I think you made a great point. That's part of the reason why, you know, in addition to it being an overnight change from Window 7 to Windows 8, I think the other part of that is it also seemed like it was too much to do in one go because my biggest complaint isn't just that the interface is so different, it's that the modern, you know, touch screen-like interface houses some functionality. And then the classic desktop interface houses others. And you can't live entirely in one environment. You always have to hop between and that's really frustrating and confusing.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Richard, in D.C., who says, "For pity's sake, touch screen is for computers that are toys. I'm a scientist who does statistical programming. That's not going touch screen." Excuse me.
DRUINYou know, statistical programming -- yes, there are pieces of it. But when you actually image, when you do information visualization, and you want to zoom in on area, you want to explore something visually from what your data is telling you, you may want some of that. However, I'm not suggesting it's going to be forever for everyone. What I'm suggesting, it's going to be an ecosystem of input devices. But for many, many kids, they're starting with phones, they're starting with tablets, and they're not going to be the generation that says, oh, I'm dying for a mouse.
NNAMDIAnd finally, there's this on Windows 10, email from Monty. "Looking critically at the announcement for Windows 10 it looks suspiciously like Microsoft is attempting to produce an operating system that mimics Apples' OS 10 -- which first used to be called on this broadcast, OSX -- including the number. However, unless Microsoft starts from scratch, like Apple did when Steve Jobs returned, I doubt that Windows 10 will be as stable and robust as OS 10.
HARLOWI feel like Vista was Microsoft's OS 10 moment, though. They started from scratch there and that was -- and just like -- people forget this, but just like Apple's OS 10, initial days, that was clumsy, too. And it took a while to get to the point where it was a pretty good product, you know. In Microsoft's case, Windows 7, and in Apple's case, like, you know, OS 10.2 and later.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is our number. It's the computer guys and gal. You can also send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIThe computer guys and gal, surely you've heard of them. 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. John Gilroy is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures. And Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Incorporated. We take your calls at 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIApple finally released two bigger sized iPhones and customers pounced. The long-awaited iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are larger than earlier versions, have reportedly broken sales records with more than 20 million snapped up in less than three weeks. The bad news, glitches in the new iOS 8 operating system already required a fix. And Apple is still fighting Bend-gate rumors that the bigger phones are less sturdy. Do you have an iPhone 6? What do you like best about it or not?
NNAMDIGive us a call, 800-433-8850. And how do you like the new iOS 8 operating system? Shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet, @kojoshow. John, despite the operating system, glitches and the rumors about bending phones like Beckham, the iPhone 6…
HARLOWOh, come one.
NNAMDIThe iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are Apple's hottest phone rollout. What do the new phones offer beside a 4" or 5" screen?
GILROYBigger, better, buggier and bragging rights. That's the four B's.
GILROYBigging -- bigger, better, buggier, bragging rights. Yeah, and that's what it is. I think that's all it is. I mean, there are people who say, well, it's three-quarters of an inch larger and that's just enough difference. And I understand the little differences in there, but I think it's really bragging rights. I don't see any big leaps here. But the people who are involved in changing their phone every six months -- and by the way, I was at the mall getting a present for my wife last week. And I saw people lined up outside in the mall.
GILROYAnd almost getting in fist fights -- as we've read the press releases on -- over this little phone, which kind of amazes me.
HARLOWI've never lined up for a phone, I'm happy to say.
NNAMDIOh, your wife just called to say when will I be getting this present.
GILROYSo some of the more specific differences are, obviously, they're always getting faster, too. So faster, wireless radios. So…
HARLOWThat's not a (unintelligible).
GILROYSports 802.11ac, which is a Wi-Fi technology that can pump faster speeds over for your home network. It can do faster cellular data as well. Got a nifty new camera. They actually -- they beefed up the camera in some really nice ways.
HARLOWThe image stabilization, I think, is an option on the big one.
GILROYActually, it is on the big one, but the thing I like about both is the auto focus is super, super fast, especially noticeable on video.
NNAMDITalk about Bend-gate. Is there actually proof the phones bend if you sit down with one in your pocket?
GILROYYou know what? Anybody got an iPhone 6? We'll test it out right now.
HARLOWNo, no, no, no. Don't take Kojo's.
NNAMDIAllison's planning on getting and iPhone 6.
GILROYAbsolutely you can bend an iPhone. What Consumer Reports did in their testing video, showed that you can bend pretty much all the phones if you put enough pressure on them. And that the iPhone seemed to hold up pretty well compared to the competition. So…
HARLOWI went on YouTube and see if they can blend it, though.
GILROY"Will it bend?" is the new "Will it blend?" Yes.
HARLOWOh, I'm sorry. I got the word confused.
DRUINAll right. But, look…
NNAMDIAllison, you're planning to get the iPhone 6. What is its appeal for you?
GILROYIs it the malleability?
HARLOWA fashion, a fashionistas, that's what it is. It's fashion.
DRUINOh, no. No. All right. It's a few things. First of all…
GILROYGold, right? You're getting gold?
DRUIN…my -- I'm getting old. My…
GILROYGold, with a "G."
DRUINOh, gold. Yes, I'm getting old and gold. Anyway. All right. So here's the deal…
NNAMDIBen, I hope you've got deep pockets.
GILROYI'm not going to be able to walk out of here alive.
DRUINI've been walking around with a crack in my iPhone 5 screen for the last year. And I never got it fixed because of how expensive it was. So that's one reason. Two, I lose my phone all the time. Even though I'm trying to put it in pockets that I wear around my neck and I put it in my pocketbook.
DRUINI equate it to men need phones for their pockets and women need phones for their pocketbooks. Okay? And you try and find a phone in my pocketbook. So I actually had looked at an Android, because most of the Android phones are bigger. Right?
DRUINBut I just didn't like the UI, I didn't like the interface. So what -- this is the winning combination of larger -- Android-like larger, with an Apple UI. So -- and to me that's pretty cool. However, I'm going to wait to basically hold them and touch them. I need to be able to feel the weight and I need to be able to feel the size to be sure which size is perfect for me.
NNAMDIWell, back to Windows 7, with Ken, in Gaithersburg, Md. Ken, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KENYes. I have medical office with a couple of employees who are very used to using Windows 7. And I, of course, held off on getting Windows 8 and we never did. And as far as Windows 10, I'm going to hold back on the things, too, because I need something that my employees are not going to crazy trying to learn and screw around with all day and also something that will be compatible with my medical systems, which have very strict HIPAA requirements. So I'm going to wait and see.
NNAMDIHow is the learning curve for Windows 10 -- how difficult is that likely to be, Bill?
HARLOWFor a Windows 7 user it's going to be interesting because even though it's hybridized, the start menu is still a very different end functionality compared to -- in Windows 7. So that's a big one right there. I think, you know, if you're living in your -- in certain key applications all day, I think the learning curve is less of an issue, because at that point all you need to do is get into your software and off you go. But I think the compatibility and HIPAA requirements are a big one. I've been in a lot of medical offices or hospitals where they tend to run quite old OS's for that reason.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Ken. We move on to Stella, who wants to talk touch. Stella, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STELLAHi. Thank you for taking my call. What I'm wondering about and have had trouble with, when I went to Windows 8 is being a trained typist, lifting your hands up to use a keyboard screen is kind of ridiculous. It puts your hands at a bad angle, you have to relearn the actual ergonomics of touching the screen. I still use a keyboard, but in general, I don't see that problem being addressed. And if you use it, even as a tablet, then your view is reduced dramatically.
GILROYYou know, I've had this argument with my daughter. And she's a big proponent of Windows 8. But I think it's more of a consumer-type operating system than a production operating system like Stella has. And I think that's the key differentiator. If you have the hardware that works with Windows 8 and you're probably a consumer or light-user, it's probably fine. But a production user, I think they're going to run into all kinds of problems and headaches. And I think the simple manually lifting your hand and touching the screen, this can…
NNAMDISeems like somehow like poking your finder in somebody's eye.
HARLOWI find for me that searching is actually more important in Windows 8. So that, like, when I'm in the -- in a start menu I can keep my hand on the keyboard if I just quickly, like, type out what I'm looking for and it just seems to find it really quickly and I navigate that way. Because or mousing around, that still feels a little clumsy.
NNAMDIStella, thank you very much for your call. On the iPhone 6 we got a tweet from Austin, who says, "The iPhone 6 Plus is a letdown. I had a 5 S for over a year and it was flawless. I've had several crashes with 6 Plus in just under a week." Well, good luck with that, Austin. In a move toward greater privacy and personal data security, Apple and Google both say their new smartphone operating systems will use encryption that even the companies themselves cannot crack.
NNAMDIThat means they won't be able to hand over information from customers' phones to law enforcement anymore. FBI Chief James Comey blasting the move, saying it plays into the hands of criminals. We'd like to know what you think. What do you like or not like about encryption that keeps Apple or Google from tapping into your phone? Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Will the new phone security tie the hands of law enforcement and therefore empower criminals? 800-433-8850.
NNAMDISend email to email@example.com. Allison, this move toward encryption seems to be a reaction to the outcry over revelations of government spying on citizens and phone companies sometimes handing over information. How important is this move in the debate over digital privacy?
DRUINYou know, it's a very interesting move, okay. Because if you say to yourself, oh, my goodness, we're going to plug holes so that essentially, you know, government can't get in, well, then it's going to be harder for other people to get in, too -- for the bad guys to get in. But the real issue is, if you make a backdoor, doors are made to go through or be beaten down or key stolen or, you know, a target for hackers.
DRUINSo you do have to weigh these things. And I don't think that the privacy and security industry has come up with a real understanding of the balance between privacy and security and what is the -- what's the need. And I think it's a larger discussion and more -- actually more development in terms of technologies. But, yeah, I mean, these folks -- Apple, Google, many of the tech companies got burned really badly by the NSA thing. And I don't blame them.
HARLOWWell, you mentioned the backdoor thing. And that's the concern, too, is if they put in a known backdoor, yeah, you better believe everybody's going to try to get into that, not just the government. So you've got to plug those holes, lock those doors and, you know, when the government asks legally, then I guess that's when you hand over the keys, so to speak.
NNAMDIJohn, despite the outcry from law enforcement and the fact that Apple cannot access the data on a phone running this new iOS 8 operating system, one white-hat hacker has already managed to find the…
GILROYThat's exactly it.
NNAMDI…aforementioned holes and get in.
NNAMDISo what's safety measures should we take to keep hackers out?
GILROYWell, there's a book out called "Gray Hat Hacking." And one of the authors is a guy named Allen Harper. It's in its 15th year, by the way. And all kinds of authors contribute to it. I think if you're interested in seriously studying this, that's a good place to start because if a human designed the encryption, there's probably another human sitting somewhere who's going to figure it out. So I don't think -- I think there's specific ways and techniques to avoid that.
GILROYI think two-factor authentication is one. I think not doing things stupid on the internet is another. And if you listened to "The Diane Rehm Show," from earlier today, there's a guy named Alan Paller who gave very good steps on how to protect yourself, as well. But I think encryption -- I think some people look to encryption as just as a challenge. What are you doing on Thursday? Hey, yeah, me and Kojo are break -- okay.
GILROYWhat are you doing on Friday? Oh, yeah, we're going to go on a gaming convention. It'd be the same -- it would be a gaming convention, wouldn't it? That's how they view this, as a challenge.
NNAMDIIt's the computer guys and gal. We're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Facebook unwittingly sparked an uproar when it cracked down on people who create accounts using pseudonyms. Hundreds of drag queens were among those Facebook told to use their real names. Facebook later apologized to the LGBT community. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. How do accounts using pseudonyms affect the Facebook experience for everyone? Why is it so important to Facebook, Allison, that people use their real names? How does it affect the way Facebook sells and targets advertising?
DRUINWell, Facebook needs that information on real people because they're a data-driven company. They're selling our data. And they're selling it -- maybe not noticeably to us, but they're selling our data. And so you have many, many people from many walks of life that either, one, need to keep their identity a secret or have these identities that are stage names and it's safer for them to be identified in Facebook this way.
DRUINBut, you know, okay, so if you can't identify with drag queens, you might identify with human rights advocates that are in countries where there are -- they have to keep their identity secret. So what are you going to do? Facebook's forcing people -- bless you. Facebook is forcing people to actually…
DRUIN…people in these countries to go and identify themselves. So, I mean, honestly if I -- if my identity is a certain things, in terms of work, and it needs to be that, I don't see any reason why I should have to be made to change that.
GILROYI know a woman in…
NNAMDIThis is our computer guy, now known as John Gilroy.
GILROYYeah, I know a woman who's got a PhD in psychology, 20 years as a CIA profiler. And I've asked her, I said, "Well, tell me, Terry, do you have a LinkedIn profile?" She says, "Several."
GILROYAnd her picture is nowhere on the internet. And so I think there are people whose jobs have to be careful. And I do have several, you know, my Twitter handle is not my real name. So, I mean, it's pretty easy.
NNAMDIHow important is it?
HARLOWI think it's very important. I think it's also important that when you're given the ability to protect your name, and to suddenly have the rules change unexpectedly, that's kind of a problem, too. So that's a good way to lose some key users on your service as well.
DRUINWell, Facebook's terrible with transparency. I mean, could they had given anyone warning? I mean, that's ridiculous. I mean, granted, okay…
GILROYGranted they're listening and they're responding. That's something.
DRUINYeah, no. And actually the fact that they did listen and people did, you know, really come to the defense of a lot of different, you know, people, different walks of life, it was really important.
NNAMDIJohn, on beneficiary of frustration with Facebook is a new social network site called Ello. How does this ad-free site explain its mission and its popularity, as people -- as more people get fed up with Facebook?
GILROYYou know, it's just like the free-market economy. You know if a Wegmans moves into our neighborhood and all of a sudden the prices the giant -- they go down a little bit, don't they? I mean, it's interesting how this competition works. So Facebook encounters this problem with identity and there's a competition that a competitive site starts up, all of a sudden Facebook is very, very flexible when they're seeing they're going to lose a lot of people. So I think it's an indication of Facebook at least listening to their audience.
GILROYSo I think this is curious. I don't know where Ello's going, by the way. I think there was a lot of rush initially, but I don't know, to come up against Facebook, it's -- that's a leviathan.
DRUIN…I mean, Ello has basically said, sure, we welcome fake names. We also don't do ads. We also don't do data tracking. Except…
DRUIN…they do do data tracking because they do track you on location, language, time span and referring website. So, you know, so they're not completely the good guys with the white hats. So…
HARLOWGrey hat, maybe.
NNAMDIBut Ello has the dubious distinction now of being popular enough to be the target of an attack. Why did the site go down for half an hour last week?
DRUINBecause people want to get in there. They want information. And they also want to try it out. Like John said, it's a game.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Rosslyn, in Chevy Chase, who says, "Sometimes your guests seem to believe that the only people worth considering in the computer world were born after 2008. Those of us born during that long ago 20th century are using keyboards and mice and find it very difficult to use newer, tinier keyboards. I consider the mouse to be a great aid in using my computer. Moving a finger on a pad is frustrating and stress-inducing because the arrow never seems to go where I want it.
NNAMDI"I assure that I am not alone. So please, a bit of humility before your elders. By the way, I am among the dinosaurs who still love Windows XP and continue to use it." So there you go, all you born after 2008.
GILROYApparently, I'm like seven years old. I had no idea. I'm gonna send Rosslyn some flowers for that compliment. Thank you.
NNAMDIExactly. Here is Rosemary, in Alexandria, Va. Rosemary has a problem that Allison can relate to. Rosemary, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ROSEMARYYes. Thank you. As soon as I heard her say that, I thought I have to call. I have a 30-year-old son who loses his phone all the time.
NNAMDIBorn after 2008, no doubt. Go ahead, please.
ROSEMARYAnd, I mean, the nature of his work is he's outside, he's doing -- he's very active and it, you know, it doesn't stay in his pocket. And I was just -- I have not found a phone that has a fixture on it like many cameras. These small digital cameras have a little fixture on it that you can slip a cord through and you can, you know, tie it to you or put it on a -- something around your neck or whatever. And obviously, he doesn't want to carry a fanny pack, of course.
NNAMDIHe probably doesn't want you saying this on the air either, but go ahead.
ROSEMARYBut, is there any phone out there -- I mean, to me that's just a -- you can stick it in your pocket, but if it's tied to you, you're not going to lose it. And I actually used to be a basic-training commander in Army basic training. And when we first got new troops, we tied a cord to their rifle and their belt. And we called them dummy cords. But it's the same concept. You know, you just don't -- if it falls, you're not going to lose it.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy still has his phone number tied to his shoelaces. But go ahead, please.
DRUINOkay. There are a lot of ways to deal with this. And I've been trying to, myself. And one of the ways is that there are these pouches that you can buy that hang around your neck that are like lanyards. And you can put the phone into a pouch. So I have bought a few of them, trying to figure out which one is the right one for me to wear. But every single time...
GILROYNow, wait a minute. If you're a single guy and you walk up to a girl and try to talk to her and you're wearing one of those things, they're going to run.
HARLOWI've got some simpler, potentially...
GILROYYeah, socially acceptable, please.
HARLOW...generally guy-friendly advice here, which is, you know, a lot of trousers have pockets you can close. You could try that.
GILROYWell, that's something more acceptable.
HARLOWThat's one possibility. The other thing, too, is you can get cases that, you know, will happily have -- let you put a lanyard strap or other things through there, if you want a way to maybe secure it to a belt or something. I'm sure you could find an option that would work for you there.
NNAMDIRosemary, I hope we've helped.
GILROYOr you could wear it around your neck with pride.
GILROYAnd get the five-and-a-half-inch iPhone 6 Plus. I'll be single forever. And make, you know, and keep the clock app running at all times.
DRUINAre you kidding? That would (word?) girls.
NNAMDIRosemary, it seems that wearing it around the neck has John Gilroy two to one here. So your son may want to do that. I hear, frankly, that it's the next chick magnet.
GILROYOh, yeah, it's a chick magnet. I live with my mom and I have my phone around my neck. What do you think of me so far?
NNAMDIRosemary, once again, hopefully this conversation has in some way helped. If only it means that you'll never listen to John Gilroy again. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, it's more of the Computer Guys and Gal. Rosemary, again, once again, thank you for your call. You, too, can call us at 800-433-8850, to discuss any of the topics we have discussed so far or any that we'll be discussing right after this. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. The Computer Guys and Gal are with us. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. Allison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. And John Gilroy is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850.
NNAMDILest you ever be lulled into thinking your personal data is safe online, the nation's biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase says 76 million customers were exposed to a security breach last summer. The breach affected anyone who visited the company's website or used its mobile app. So give us a call. Have you been the victim of a security breach? Tell us what happened. 800-433-8850. If you have already called, stay on the line. We'll try to get to your calls. But if the lines are busy, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet @kojoshow using the #TechTuesday.
NNAMDIAllison, hackers apparently took customers' names, phone numbers, email addresses and the type of account that they had. But there's no evidence yet that they took actual account information. What is the lesson we should learn from this bank breach?
DRUINWell, the lesson is, is that it's just going to continue. This is not, you know, this is just in a long line of breaches. I mean you had the eBay breach, with 145 million accounts that were targeted. You had actual Target, which was 110 million. Look, you know, even at the universities, we've all had these things. Not 76 million, thank goodness, but it is part of life. What is curious to me about this data breach is about that they were interested in the client categories. They were looking at metadata. So what they were interested in was who's doing business where and what?
DRUINAnd so I think that that's actually the most curious that I've seen for a while, because the question is, that may not be something that gets used immediately. That may be something that gets used in combination with other information in the future. So you have to realize that, yes, you may get past one data breach and it may be -- and this information may be combined with other information.
HARLOWSo it's big data for hackers, basically.
DRUINIt really is, yes.
NNAMDIJohn, last week's news of more credit card breaches at big-box stores, this time at two grocery store chains in the west, it's calling attention to a common tool of choice for hackers. It's called a RAM scraper. How does it work and how can it be installed remotely on a credit card scanner at the checkout counter?
GILROYYou know, these seem to come in waves or in trends or something, where here you catch your viruses, and you got your Trojan horses, and now the scam of the month is a RAM scraper, where it can grab information from a person just innocently buying something at a Target or somewhere. I think both of these instances -- the bank and these large companies that are encountering this -- I think what the focus should be on is the ethics here of whether or not to reveal it. I'm sure there are software developers who are working for these companies and they're trying to question whether or not they should release information and how much information.
GILROYI would guess that there have been banks that have been compromised where they have not released information about metadata that was compromised and there's some that aren't. And I think this is a -- I teach in the Technology Management program at Georgetown, and there's a whole ethics course that you have to take before you can get the degree. In fact, every course has to have an ethics component to it. And it'd be a great show for Kojo, by the way, is what if Bill was working for a bank and something gets compromised. Do you want to release that information and lose your job, Bill? I mean, that's a tough one. So the answer is we don't really know the seriousness of a lot of these attacks.
NNAMDISpeaking of things coming in waves, we have waves of responses to the issue of losing cell phones and how not to do that. We got a tweet from Glen, who says, "While living in West Africa, I found people wore cell phones around their necks, often to show they had them as a status symbol. The same with USB drives. And we have several suggestions from callers. We'll start with Linda in Falls Church, Va. Linda, I think I like yours best. Go ahead, please.
LINDAIf you like mine best, you're in trouble.
NNAMDIJust tell us what it is.
LINDAI stick my cell phone in my bra. It helped women, not men. But who cares?
NNAMDIThat would be called a men magnet.
GILROYI gotta call my mom.
NNAMDIIt works and you never lose it?
LINDANever lose it. I guess, if you're flat-chested, I don't know.
NNAMDIThat would be another consideration. Linda, thank you very much for your call. We have another suggestion from Steve in Washington, D.C. Steve, your turn.
GILROYYou can't top that one, Steve.
STEVENo, I can't top that one. But I got tired when walking my hyperactive dog, when she went left and my phone would go right.
NNAMDIWhat a choice.
STEVEAnd I found something called a myBunjee.com. And it's a little lanyard that you hook to your belt. And it wraps around the smartphone. And when you drop it, it bounces back up into your hand. It's myBunjee.com.
NNAMDIBut in the case of Allison, she's already got a cracked iPhone. It sounds like myBunjee can result in another crack.
DRUINI know. If you're a little too short and that bungee cord goes down. But, you know, but you're right. You will get it back. At least you won't leave it on the ground.
NNAMDIWell, that's true. Steve...
STEVEWell, and so far, it bounces back before it's hit the ground.
STEVEIt also follows me when I'm talking in the car and I put it down next to me and I get up and I walk out and I worry that I've left it in the car. No, it bounced off the car, off the seat, and back to me.
GILROYThis is like a cartoon adventure here. You get hit in the head and...
STEVEI'm the only one I know weird enough to use it. But I guy the store's stock out whenever I find them.
DRUINGood for you.
NNAMDISteve, thank you for your call. Here's a suggestion from Craig in Gaithersburg, Md. Craig, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CRAIGHello everybody. I'm tempted to offer the athletic supporter as a way to cure your...
GILROYJust to counter Linda, huh?
CRAIG...your phone. But I won't do that. My favorite man pouch is the chalk bag, the climber's chalk bag. Before you put the chalk in it. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors, so you can pick the manliest one out there. They're soft inside and they have a cinch cord with a cord lock. It holds them securely. They've got belt hoops, they hook to belts. You can put them -- put a carabiner on it and clip it to anything. It's the best phone carrier I've found and it's undoubtedly very manly.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your suggestion. Allison has written down all of these. The next broadcast, we'll ask her if she's made a choice.
NNAMDIHave you ever stayed at a hotel and been frustrated by the spotty Wi-Fi service? Last week, the FCC fined the Marriott Hotel chain for blocking guest mobile hotspots to force them to pay for Wi-Fi at the hotel center -- at the hotel's convention center in Nashville. It was not inexpensive. What advice do you have for travelers who want to use Wi-Fi, Allison?
DRUINNo. I mean, I was happy to hear that. Because I'm one of these travelers all the time that I live off of my cell phone and my laptop. And, you know, there are sometimes it's just much more convenient to use, you know, to use my broadband and just be doing my email that way as opposed to depending on somebody else's Wi-Fi. But they actually jammed the broadband so that people had to use the Wi-Fi. And that's mean, especially if your Wi-Fi is slow and sluggish and you're paying 15 bucks a day for it. That's terrible.
HARLOWBut you know the hotel chain said that it was to protect customers from accidentally connecting to compromised Wi-Fi networks...
GILROYThat's a great line. I love that line.
DRUINOh, it's terrible.
HARLOW...and was in no way trying to exploit a captive audience to pay for their very expensive services.
DRUINOh, and I'm one of those people that have paid for those services. And I just -- it's diabolical and just offensive. So I'm glad they have to pay.
NNAMDIIn this case, the service could cost between $250 and $1,000 a pop. John, BlackBerry is taking another stab at viability with its new square-shaped Passport smartphone.
GILROYOh, no, please.
NNAMDIAre there enough people out there who still want a BlackBerry and its physical keyboard?
HARLOWFor those who were born before 2008, right John?
GILROYWell, believe me, there are people who are addicted to their BlackBerries. I mean, you know, the word CrackBerry was used years ago. But people are -- and some people just enjoy that -- the tactile feel of texting with that type of machine. So I think there's a small market for that. And I think in the federal government there are certain agencies that it is the preferred device. And the joke is, if you're in the airport in Chicago, you see someone with two cell phones, it's a govie, because one a cell phone and one's a BlackBerry. So I think there's a small, small market for that. I just --why doesn't this Canadian company just close up shop and leave? I never liked those guys to begin with. So that's my answer.
GILROYSquare phone, what a bunch of losers.
DRUINWell, how do you feel? Oh, my goodness. But, you know, the other thing, too, is that, let's remember that, you know, that everybody keeps making these distinctions between enterprise computing and person computing. But it's a lot about the personal computing market that seeps into our 24/7 work life. And so, if you're using and you feel more comfortable with a certain technology, many people are going and saying to their bosses, excuse me, I really need to use this as opposed to that. And that's why BlackBerry started ebbing away and, you know, and not having it. But, I don't know. What do you think about the thing?
HARLOWI haven't used one in person. I interacted with exactly one person who actually has a BlackBerry 10 device. But the reviews seem to indicate that this new BlackBerry Passport isn't a very good, modern smartphone. It also is not a great BlackBerry. Which, if it's not a great BlackBerry, you kind of missed the mark.
NNAMDIPanasonic, back in the game with a new Android camera phone with a serious lens and a compact point-and-shoot camera with a large sensor. Can they compete with the iPhone 6 and the other Android smartphone cameras out there?
HARLOWI don't think it's necessarily trying to. This product, I think, is definitely for a certain type of photographer -- someone who's like a serious hobbyist. But I think it's interesting because, you know, the iPhone and modern flagship Android phones have kind of destroyed the point-and-shoot camera market for the most part. For people who, you know, actually keep up with things, John. But what it did find -- a neat side effect is that a lot of the more fully-featured or more serious compact cameras have gotten a lot more interesting. So, you know, they've got a lot of manual controls. They've got great lenses. They've -- you know, you can totally customize them.
HARLOWThere are even some now that they've taken the micro four-thirds lens mounts and they've made them into very compact, pocketable cameras. So you've got something like this Panasonic DMC-CM1, which is a largish phone with a very beefy lens on it and there's like a really high-quality sensor -- you know, it's basically a camera first with a cell phone in it. And then they've also got that DMC-GM5, which is a really tiny camera that you can put some really high-quality lenses on and take really, really excellent photos with. So they're finding a niche where they're still portable -- not an iPhone, but it basically, hey, all the things the iPhone can't do -- that's what this does and it does it really, really well.
NNAMDIOn to our app of the month selections. John, you picked an iPad app that actor Tom Hanks created for people who love the sound and feel of a typewriter. Tell us about Hanx Writer for people born before 2008.
DRUINUh-oh. Watch out.
GILROYYou know, it's so funny. I was cleaning out the basement and my daughter saw this old manual typewriter I used in college back with Henry Ford. And it's just amazing, these hipsters are attracted to these things for some reason. And what Tom Hanks wanted to come up with was a little app that would mimic a regular mechanical typewriter. You get it for free, I think it's $2.99 for a font. And so I think there's something to be said for that feel. And maybe that's the same emotional feel that BlackBerry people have. And maybe people have this feel for the typewriter with the old, classic QWERTY keyboard. So that's my app of the month, Tom Hanks Hanx Writer.
NNAMDIAnd it has the same sound, it's my understanding as the old typewriter keyboards.
GILROYDrive other people crazy in the library. Drive other people in the planes crazy.
NNAMDIYou have to have finger weights -- you have to lift finger weights to practice to use those things. Bill, your app of the month is called Manual. It lets you set the aperture and shutter speed on your iPhone camera.
HARLOWYep. The iPhone camera takes great photos, does everything automatically. But if you want any control, you don't have it. So this exposes all these classic camera controls to you, so when you're framing a more artistic shot, you get exactly the photo you intended.
NNAMDIGood idea. Allison, your pick this month is a device for vain smartphone users, the Selfie Stick.
GILROYYou can stick it to your shoulder, huh?
DRUINYeah, it's not really an app. This is like the stick -- it's Promaster Selfie Stick, okay? So basically, you know how you can't really get your arm out far enough to get that perfect selfie? So this is a stick that lets you -- like it's a boom stick that lets you move your phone farther away, you can do those selfies. You can also do higher landscape views. So, you know, you can do some of the stuff that Bill's talking about with the fancy photography.
NNAMDIIt's also what you can use to read menus after your eyes start -- you hold it farther away with the Selfie Stick.
DRUINThere you go.
GILROYIf you did that in a crowd of people, they would really start running away.
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. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. And John Gilroy is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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