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.
Taking his strongest stance yet on so-called net neutrality, President Barack Obama endorses a free and open Internet and lays out a plan he wants the Federal Communications Commission to implement. Mobile payment systems duel for users as Apple Pay gets good reviews and a group of large retailers gets set to compete. And Twitter creates a new tool to report online harassment. The Computer Guys and Gal explain the technology behind the headlines.
- John Gilroy WAMU Computer Guy; Director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures
- Bill Harlow Hardware and Software Technician for MACs & PCs, Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.; and WAMU Guest Computer Guy
- Allison Druin WAMU's Computer Gal; Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and Professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland
- Brian Fung Technology Reporter, The Washington Post
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MR. KOJO NNAMDIYeah, that's it. They're here. From WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's the Computer Guys and Gal. John Gilroy is Director of Business Development for BLT Global Ventures. Why is somebody laughing when I say that? Are you still employed?
MR. JOHN GILROYAllison just found out why I'm still on the air.
MS. ALLISON DRUIN(laugh) I won't share that with anyone.
NNAMDII was wondering if you were still employed. Allison Druin, the aforementioned, is our Computer Gal and Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research. She is Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. We had the President of the University of Maryland on here yesterday. He ensures me that you are still employed.
DRUINOh, I'm so glad. I like him and I like you. (laugh)
NNAMDIWere it not for me, I don't know what you people would do for a living.
DRUIN(laugh) It's so true.
NNAMDIBill Harlow's our Computer Guy. He's also Hardware and Software Technician For MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated. Bill, still employed?
MR. BILL HARLOWI think so.
NNAMDIAt least before he walked in this door.
DRUIN(laugh) Before the door.
HARLOW(unintelligible) silence my phone, I think I was, yeah.
NNAMDIAfter this hour, we'll not be so sure. Before we hear more from the Computer Guys and Gal, President Obama made tech news yesterday when he issued a forceful statement of support for so-called net neutrality. The notion that all data should be treated the same on the internet so no company controls what you can see and no one can buy faster delivery of data to users.
NNAMDIHe says the internet has always been open, fair, and free with no gatekeepers or toll roads. And that tampering with those principles could end the internet as we know it. He urged the Federal Communication Commission to do everything it can to protect net neutrality for everyone. Here's some of what he said.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMAThey should make it clear that whether you use a computer, phone or tablet, internet providers have a legal obligation not to block or limit your access to a website. Cable companies can't decide which online stores you can shop at or which streaming services you can use. And they can't let any company pay for priority over its competitors. To put these protections in place, I'm asking the FCC to reclassify internet service under Title 2 of a law known as the Telecommunications Act.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMAIn plain English, I'm asking them to recognize that, for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.
NNAMDIPresident Obama speaking on so-called net neutrality. Joining us to explain the significance of the President's statement is Brian Fung, Technology Reporter at the Washington Post. He's talking with us from a studio at the Post. Brian, thank you for joining us.
MR. BRIAN FUNGThanks for having me.
NNAMDIBrian, the President wants to treat internet service providers like phone companies in the way they're regulated. Explain what it would mean to reclassify internet providers under the Telecommunications Act.
FUNGWell, currently, internet providers are lightly regulated under part of the Telecommunications Act known as Title One. And what the FCC could do, by reclassifying under what Obama said was Title 2, is regulate internet providers a little bit more heavily in saying, you can't block and you can't discriminate based on the types of traffic that are moving across an ISP's network. So, if you're watching a YouTube video or you're playing video games or you're listening to Spotify, that content must be treated equally, no matter where it's going or where it's coming from.
NNAMDIWhy did the President decide to make this statement now, and why is his unqualified support for net neutrality significant?
FUNGWell, the FCC is set to vote on its net neutrality rules by the end of the year. And there are actually some indications that the agency may not meet that deadline. But nevertheless, there is some, a lot of interest in getting new rules approved for net neutrality. And the FCC's old rules were importantly struck down, largely, by a federal court in January. So, we've currently been living under a state of no net neutrality regulation for the better part of a year. And the President obviously feels that the internet needs greater protections if it is to remain a free and open place.
NNAMDIThe telecom industry doesn't feel that way. It hates the idea of classifying broadband as a utility and subjecting it to regulation. Why is that?
FUNGWell, internet providers argue that they need flexibility in being able to develop new business models and test out new features. One way we've seen that happen in the last few months is, for example, T Mobile now offers a service that will discount any music service that partners with T Mobile from your data cap. Now, it's important to point out that the net neutrality rules that the FCC's considering may or may not apply to wireless carriers. And that's one big question moving forward as to, you know, whether or not broadband providers like Sprint and T Mobile will also be covered.
NNAMDIAnd you mentioned earlier that this is now in the hands of the FCC. And the timeline for making a decision. Can the President's endorsement of a completely open internet affect that timeline at all?
FUNGWell, it's important to remember that the FCC is an independent agency and that means that the President and the White House can't really do much to force an outcome at the FCC. The FCC's Chairman said that President Obama's statement will be considered just like the other nearly 4 million comments submitted by the American public. So, we will see where that takes us, as far as the FCC's decision.
NNAMDIOne quick more question. Or one more quick question. The FCC was looking a proposal that would have essentially split the internet into two parts, one part consisting of the relationship between an ISP and its customer. Another part about the relationship between the ISP and content companies such as Netflix. Is that still going to be under consideration?
FUNGWell, it certainly seems as though the balance is shifting more toward Title 2. Or that's where the attention is shifting. You know, legal analysts that I've spoken to, from both sides, say that this hybrid approach is legally unworkable and wouldn't be expected to survive a court challenge. So, it seems, you know, it seems as though the FCC may still be willing to consider a hybrid approach, and that may be where we end up. But at this point, it seems as though pressure is growing for a move to Title 2.
NNAMDIBrian Fung is a technology reporter at the Washington Post. Brian, thank you so much for joining us.
FUNGThanks again. It was my pleasure.
NNAMDIYou too can join the conversation. If you have opinions or questions about net neutrality, give us a call at 800-433-8850. Allison, I'll start with you. What's your reaction to President Obama's strong support for net neutrality and the idea that there should be no fast lanes for priority content on the internet?
DRUINI think it's about time he's actually stood up to have an opinion about it. I mean, this is something that people have been talking about for quite a while. In fact, actually, you know, four years ago, the BBC was actually doing surveys on net neutrality and, you know, with 28,000 people in 26 countries. And four out of five people said that the internet is a fundamental right. Yet, of course, if you ask people like Vint Cerf, who was the...
DRUIN...founder. Yeah, he is the founder of the internet, was the President of the Association For Computing Machinery, which is worldwide. You know, he says that actually, technology is an enabler of rights and not a human right. So, there are really smart people on both sides of this -- on this debate. Because many people say, well, what's wrong? We've got FedEx and UPS. You pay more, you get more. But then, a lot of people are saying, we do not trust the companies. We don't trust what that basic service will be, that they would be offering.
DRUINSo, I think that, honestly, I'm glad he opened up the conversation, because when almost four million people post comments to the FCC, something's gotta get talked about here.
NNAMDIWell, they're saying that FedEx and UPS is not like utilities. It's not like the...
DRUINThat's right. That's right.
NNAMDI...people who provide us with our electricity and with our water. And they feel, therefore, that the internet should be regulated in much the same way. What say you, Bill?
HARLOWWell, I'm glad you mentioned the distrust of these companies, because I think there are several issues. I mean, if you look at a map of the US and which ISP's control which areas, it's, I mean, it's Comcast on the coasts and Cox in a few other areas and a few other providers. But, most people where they live, they have, at best, two choices. A lot of times, you have the one choice. So, I tend not to trust a company when they don't have any competition. And I'm a little concerned when those companies also do things like dabble in other, in media.
HARLOWYou know, like Comcast does. And, you know, that's why I think it's important to discuss net neutrality, because you've got all these options you have as a consumer, you know, if you have a broadband connection. And the idea that the company providing that pipe to you also has its own competing services and might do things to shift you one way or the other, whether it's institute a cap so that you're inclined to use their bundled in services that don't count against that. Versus going with something like Netflix or Hulu. I think that that matters.
GILROYWell, two things. Number one, I don't these big companies have my best interests at heart.
HARLOWThey're not your friends, John?
GILROYYeah, yeah, that's a pretty obvious statement there. And I guess a better answer is, you know, on Saturday, I spent six hours with a bunch of graduate students in the Technology Management Program at Georgetown. And most of them work for pretty big companies. But you know, half of them are thinking about starting their own company. (laugh) So, I'm thinking a 28, 29 year old kid, maybe a person in town here, trying to -- and how about a level playing field, you know? The guy who started Facebook had a level playing field, didn't he?
GILROYWell, what about my kids here, my students coming out of school now? And I think that's, more than anything, is that, you know, let's level things out and let's not have all this asymmetric type access to speed. And so, that's my opinion. Sorry for being so serious.
DRUINI love when you're serious. Yes.
NNAMDISpeaking of people we don't trust. (laugh) But we got an email from Philip, who says net neutrality should be considered as one of the major rights of the terms of technological citizenship. And the social contract for the techno-scientific society. A lot of polysyllabic words there, but I think what he's saying is I agree with the President. Is that what he said?
DRUINYeah, I think so. And, I mean, basically, honestly, what is the internet? It's a pathway to all of our information today. And if it's not today's information, it's going to be tomorrow's information. And so, it's very scary if we don't know if that's gonna be tamped down on because you're not paying enough.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, this is the Computer Guys and Gal. 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. Bill Harlow is 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. You can call us at 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIWhether you want to talk about net neutrality or any of the other topics at hand, one of which is the idea of pulling out your smart phone rather than your credit card at the cash register to pay for your purchase has a lot of appeal. Customers like the ease. Some stores like the potential to cut out the fee they pay to Visa and Master Card. And advertisers like collecting evermore digital data on you, consumers. Apple Pay is the newest entrant in the field and it's getting a lot of buzz.
NNAMDIBut some big box stores that are designing their own mobile payment systems are trying to squash the competition. So, here's the question for you. Have you used Google Wallet or Apple Pay? Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Do you use your phone to pay for your tall, blonde roast at Starbucks? 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. Allison, kindly explain this mobile payment technology to us. Apple Pay uses near field communication. And an upcoming competitor, Current C, uses Q.R. codes instead. What the heck are those and how does each one work?
DRUINAll right. Well, basically, one should know that Current C, okay, Current, Capital C.
HARLOWIt's so cute.
DRUINI know. It's beyond cute. Actually, this is really interesting. This thing has not even been publicly launched yet. Okay. It is a standard by which almost 50 or more stores, you know, from Wal-Mart to Kmart, you know, The Gap, CVS, all want to basically have you come in and pay for your things that way. However, they're using Q.R. codes, which are actually sort of yesterday's technology. Okay. I mean -- and in fact, it's so yesterday's technology that someone's already hacked it. Okay.
DRUINWhich is amazing. So it's already getting bad reviews. It's not, you know, it's not as user friendly. But why are 50 stores all banning together to want to do this? Why? Because they want to cut out the credit card and what they're paying to the credit card companies.
NNAMDIThey make more money.
DRUINThat's right. You know, 2 to 4 percent of every purchase. That's millions and millions of dollars, billions, could be. Now, here comes Apple. And Apple says, no problem. We have encryption for your credit card. We don't want to know about your information. We are not going to track you and so on. And it's got a good user interface. You know, now you go to me, Allison Druin, I am so ready to get my iPhone 6 plus -- by the way I've chosen the plus -- and I'm still waiting for it. Apple, I can't…
DRUINI cannot believe I'm still waiting for my Apple 6. Anyway -- but partially because I don't want people tracking me, partially because the encryption's good, and because the user interface experience matters to me.
NNAMDIWell, John, Apple CEO Tim Cook's been bragging that Apple Pay is already a big hit, but it still doesn't compare to the number of people who pay for their Starbucks fix with their phone. What can Starbucks teach the rest of this field?
GILROYWell, I think Starbucks could teach them a lesson about loyalty and incentives and marketing. And there's plenty been written on this, but I think the important point here is that the reason why Starbucks tries to make it easy and has popularized it, is because they are vacuuming up as much marketing information as they possibly can. And I don't know if the people who get their double grandes in the morning or whatever they get -- if they realize what's going on.
GILROYAnd, you know, this whole thing of big data and big brother, they're just vacuuming up all this information, trying to figure out, oh, this guy named Kojo, he grabs a latte in the morning. And they're trying to figure out exactly how they can optimize -- again, big companies don't have my best interests at heart. I think you have to realize that. And by the way, Starbucks is the one who is the leader in that. And finally, Apple has to look at another competitor -- Starbucks -- and learn how to develop customer relationship systems and loyalty programs to use their product.
NNAMDIAnd, Bill, those of the cute name, CurrentC, the payment system that works from a consortium of stores, like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, already been hacked. How secure are mobile payments?
HARLOWWell, I mean, nothing's going to be 100 percent secure. I think the issue I have with CurrentC is -- and stepping aside from the usability issues -- is the fact that they don't want to even work with credit cards. That means you're using a debit card or you're tying your bank account to it, which to me is kind of terrifying. I mean, retailers get hacked all the time.
HARLOWSo the idea of using a payment like Apple Pay where it's tied to a credit card, so I'm using someone else's money should something go wrong, at least, you know, that's buying me some time. I like the fact that it is tied to a fingerprint. So, you know, you just pull out the phone. You don't even unlock it. Just put your finger on it and it pays. The credit card number is not even stored on the phone.
HARLOWThere's an encrypted bit that they store in this part of the phone called a secure element so that -- Apple is putting things in place to, I think, make it more secure. You're using a credit card and the authentication features are a lot stronger.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. Those of you who have called about your opinion or questions about net neutrality or anything else, stay on the line. But we still have a few lines open, so 800-433-8850. Or send email to email@example.com. Shoot us a tweet, @kojoshow using the #techtuesday. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's John Gilroy time. He is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures and the computer guy here. Allison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. And Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting Incorporated.
NNAMDITogether they are the computer guys and gal. And we've been taking your calls -- or we are taking your calls at 800-433-8850. We started off talking net neutrality and that's what Miles, in Arlington, Va. wants to discuss. Miles, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MILESThanks for having me. I spent about, gosh, 10 years studying the politics of the internet and how it's spread overseas. And I published a paper on the subject. And I just wanted to start by saying I'm not sure it's fair to describe Vint Cerf as the founder of the internet. He did a lot of important work early on.
HARLOWIt was Al Gore.
MILESBut, yeah, well, not so much. But, yeah, I appreciate that. But I think one sort of context that we have lost in the discussion about net neutrality is that this is a struggle that has been going on since the beginning of the internet's development, since its early years. In the late '70s two other competing forms of network were devised by the two international standards bodies, the CCITT and the ISO. And in both cases the same drive, the same motives on the part of national telecoms and big companies, like -- back in the day -- AT&T, was driving this pressure to sort of keep…
NNAMDISo you're saying this battle has been going on for 30 years or more?
MILESYes, sir. Yes, sir. Exactly. And so I think we're seeing sort of the latest attempts for the big telecom companies -- at least in this country -- to take a bite of that apple.
MILESI mean, the good news is that in both cases -- in actually every case that the basic internet technology has come up against one of these competitors that's dominated by a sort of non-neutral basic philosophy…
MILES…that that technology has won. That the users have chosen and have made that the internet technology work.
NNAMDISo far. So far that's the way it would appear anyway.
MILESSo far, so far. Well, and so I think one of the problems that we have with the net neutrality debate is that if that becomes -- if it -- if we lose it the U.S. then I think users in other countries will continue to use the internet technology.
NNAMDII'm glad you brought up the U.S., as opposed to the international community, because that's what Steve, in Bethesda, Md., wants to address. Miles, thank you for your call. Here's Steve. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVEThank you. And so the similar question -- can you hear me?
STEVESimilar question is, if the U.S. goes to net neutrality and other countries do not, what will the challenge be enforcement? The ITU and ITN are really good enforcement bodies, though the ITU, I understand, would love to get their fingers into this for taxing purposes.
NNAMDIFascinating question. Allison Druin?
DRUINHi, Steve. You know, I think that we have accept that U.S. is not only a thought leader in what can happen in terms of the future of the internet and the information, but has a responsibility to the rest of the world to not jump into things or not to change things so radically so that we then are not a part of the worldwide community and what we think about. So I think that, in fact, actually not enough worldwide discussion has been -- in this area there has been some major summits, some of it with the United Nations, some of it in other ways, but it's -- I think this a major, major thing that's got to have some further conversation.
NNAMDINot only further conversation, but since the U.S. has -- is indeed seen as the origins of the internet itself, then what happens in the U.S. is likely to affect what goes on in the rest of the world.
DRUINAbsolutely. No questions asked.
NNAMDIOn now to the other conversation we were having about the use of mobiles. Here is Jared, in Stafford, Va. Jarod, your turn.
JARODHi, Kojo. I just wanted to call in and let folks know that I'm using a mobile wallet on Android that was formerly called ISIS, but with the Middle East group going by that name they've changed the name to...
HARLOWYeah, bad choice.
JARODYeah, kind of a bad choice of names. So they've renamed to Softcard. But I've been using it for maybe a year now to pay, you know, at fast food restaurants, at pharmacies and many vending machines.
NNAMDIDo you use it by way of it being linked to a credit card?
JARODYes. Yeah, it linked to a credit card. And you can choose in the app when you go to pay which credit card you want to pay with.
NNAMDIAnd what some of the big companies are seeking to avoid is having to pay those credit card fees all together. Right, Allison?
DRUINOh, absolutely. And how is it authenticating you when you're using this?
JARODIt's using NFC.
NNAMDIUsing a what?
JARODIt's using the NFC capabilities in the phone. And then it stores the encrypted information on an encrypted portion of the SIM card.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. There is…
NNAMDI…news from Microsoft on three fronts, Office for tablets, two-factor authentication for Windows 10 and health trackers for your wrist. First, your tablet. If you do a lot of work on your tablet and you've been pining for Microsoft Office, you're in luck. Office is now free to use on the iPad. And the Android version is coming soon. But some features will still live behind a pay wall. Question for you, is how do you deal with documents and spreadsheets on your tablets?
NNAMDIDo you use the free version of Word and Excel for your iPad? 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You can shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill, what parts of Word and Excel will be free to use on a tablet and what will still require a subscription to Office 365?
HARLOWWell, I posted a link in the show notes that you guys should check out on Mac World, where they really break down what is and isn't supported. But essentially, light, basic editing, you can do that for free. The more advanced stuff, as far -- I think in some cases even changing the orientation of, like, a Word document you need to pony up. And the way Microsoft is setting this up is a subscription. So you sign up for Microsoft Office 365. And then you get access to all those things. But it's nice to be able to get the free version and if you need to do light editing or review a document you have that capability to do so in the mobile versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
DRUINYeah, but you've got a problem. Because with the paid-only features…
HARLOWThe problem is you're doing work on your tablet.
DRUINWell, besides that -- is that it doesn't -- you can't use track changes.
DRUINYou can't accept and reject the track changes.
HARLOWWell, of course not. They know that's a big important feature.
DRUINThat's a big important feature. You know. And then, like, if you want to give a presentation, oh, no, you can't use presenter view and see your notes while you're presenting.
DRUINSo those two minor things make it -- and I'm like…
HARLOWConsider it a test drive, then.
DRUINYeah, exactly. It's not necessarily -- I don't know if it's for primetime, but…
NNAMDIYou may have to go behind that pay wall. John, Microsoft is apparently moving also toward two-factor verification for its upcoming Windows 10, due out next year. How would that work? How would it improve security for us?
GILROYYou know, over the last 20 years we've seen Microsoft getting behind the curve and all of a sudden get on top of things. And what I see happening with Microsoft now is they're starting to figure things out. I was having lunch with a CIO of a company last week and I was asking about different projects he had. He said, well, we have this big project on Amazon Web Services and we're moving it to the Microsoft cloud. And I said, whoa, wait a minute here.
GILROYThis is man bites dog. He goes, yeah, we think it's better. It's more flexible and it has X, Y and Z. And so what I see is Microsoft, you know, they have a lot of money for research and development. And they're putting a lot of money into these new -- and by the way, I have heard software developers sitting around, having coffee, talking about Windows 10. It's like, well, did you hear about this?
GILROYAnd two-factor authentication on -- and it just drives -- with the early part of the show we talked about theft and thieving and fishing and everything like that. It's just that, jeez, all of a sudden, if you can accomplish some type of two-factor authentication it's going to reduce the risk of someone breaking into your company, stealing your identity and stealing your money. So I think it's -- I think Microsoft is back in the game, to coin a phrase.
NNAMDIWell, it's back in the game in more ways than one. It's back in the health game. It's also jumping into tech wearable's with its new wristband health and fitness tracker, called the -- well, Microsoft Band. What can it do and who's the competition?
GILROYI don't know who the competition with these fitness bands. I think -- someone has a new product and three weeks later someone has another product, then it's the Allison Band, then it's the Kojo Band. And it's just so -- this is a $200 fitness…
HARLOWI'll tell you what though. I'll tell you what makes it very un-Microsoft is it's very platform agnostic.
DRUINYes. I was thinking that.
HARLOWI mean you can use that with Windows, with IOS, with Android, which is, you know, that's really cool.
DRUINYeah, because Fit Bit is so -- it's totally closed. Most of these bands are totally closed. And I -- this is amazing that you could sent your messages off to -- in different places. You can actually send your information to My Fitness and run Keeper and all the other ones. That's great.
GILROYYou know, I was -- I meet people all the time. I was with this chief digital officer of a large organization. And we had an hour conversation. And he was wearing one of these and didn't mention it, which I think is really telling is that it's almost, well, you know, of course I have a horrible device on…
HARLOWHey, what's that on your wrist? Hey, why are you covering that up?
GILROYHe didn't brag about it or anything at all. So it's almost like, well, of course I have an iPhone. Of course I have a Microsoft -- really, a Microsoft product? And it's, you know, these last about four or five weeks and it competes with everyone and no one. And I'm sure something's going to come up and…
NNAMDII was about to say who's the competition? Everyone and no one? Should we be putting our band back together?
GILROYPick, you know, Health Care Informatics is going to have an event here in December. There's going to be 5,000 people going to show up, just to talk about mobile health care and mobile health devices. There's probably going to be five new, you know, five new devices introduced between now and mid-December.
HARLOWWell, yeah, it's a big market. Clearly people…
HARLOW…people want to get in on this. I mean, I happen to have a Fit Bit and I like it because it's almost like the dumb, low-end to -- I don't mean to insult it, but it's just I put it on, I forget about it. It's not on my wrist. It's not obvious.
HARLOWThe battery lasts a week. And the important thing for me is that after a few weeks I've kept wearing it and it's continued to be useful. I didn't toss it in a drawer and forget about it.
DRUINYeah. No, the problem with this one might be -- and of course I haven't gotten my hands it. And actually this is the first one that I actually would like to see. And…
HARLOWIt looks good.
DRUIN…to play with. The thing is it's big. And I actually -- I would like something that's big. Some people don't want it to be big.
GILROYWeight training, is that why?
DRUINYeah, a little bit of that.
NNAMDII would like to see how you look after wearing it for a few weeks so I'll know whether it's working or not.
DRUINWell, that's true. Yeah, exactly. Anyway -- but it's not waterproof. Now, given I don't swim and I'm not a swimmer, it's okay. But for a lot of swimmers that's not a good thing. And it is a little complex to set up, but of course I live with Ben Bederson and he can set up anything so I don't really have a problem.
HARLOWSo get yourself a Microsoft Band and Ben Bederson and you are all set.
DRUINYou are all set.
NNAMDIAnd of course, John Gilroy swims the English Chanel every weekend. So…
DRUINI know. So this is not for John, yeah.
NNAMDIOn to Steve, in Rockville, Md., talking about how we pay for stuff. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVEHi. Yes, I just wanted to talk for a moment about the Apple Pay and…
STEVE…since I've used it a couple of times at a Whole Foods. And it's quick and easy and it's amazing. And both times the person at the register said I was the first one they had seen using it. But why I -- the biggest appeal to me was the security. I've had to get new credit cards twice in the last year with the Target breach and then I got a new one sent to me after the Home Depot breach.
STEVEAnd I, you know, it really appealed to me the fact that they are not actually transmitting the credit card information to the retailers. I'm trusting Apple with it, but I'm trusting Apple already because they have it anyhow through iTunes.
STEVEAnd so I'm cutting out a few more people, it seems like.
NNAMDIYou have delivered yourself to Apple. Is that one of the opinions of this Bill Harlow?
HARLOWWell, I'm sure for Apple, but I think -- what I like about them is, you know, they're not a charity. They want your money, but I think -- I like a company that just -- we want to make really, really stuff that we think you'll want to buy and that's sort of how Apple Pay is. We can sell more iPhones if we make a payment system they'll actually want to use.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Steve. On the same topic is here, Craig, in Bethesda, Md. Craig, your turn.
CRAIGHi, there. I -- the previous caller that talked about ISIS Mobile Wallet and now Softcard…
CRAIG…kind of stole my thunder, but I've been using it for a while now. This all came out before the excitement of Apple Pay. But it's effectively the same thing except I put in a PIN rather than a fingerprint because I have an Android phone, a Samsung S4, so I don't take fingerprints yet. But I find it very convenient. I was just at Home Depot, used it a few minutes ago. And it's a little bit faster and easier than taking out my wallet -- not a lot faster, but a little bit faster than taking out my wallet. And it works. And I like the fact that it's encrypted.
NNAMDIUses the PIN, as opposed to the fingerprint. John, can't use his fingerprint. It's on display in too many police departments.
GILROYWell, you know, I think this is all well and good and I'll -- I'm going to drop a name again. A couple of months ago I was talking to this guy named Eugene Kaspersky. We're standing on a roof in Arlington. And we're talking about security. And I think this has to be tested and knocked around and kicked around a little a bit here. I think a lot of things are relatively new. And what's going to happen? I mean, give me six or seven months at least to make a statement before we see what the vulnerabilities are. And if a human designed it, I'm pretty sure a human can break it.
HARLOWI will say that Apple will make this happen. NFC's been around for quite a while. Google Wallet's been around for quite a while. As people pointed out ISIS/Softcard has been around for a while. But Apple Pay is the one that's making waves and that's -- and suddenly it's going to get a lot more popular. And I think that's when you'll see how it plays out for real.
NNAMDIThank you for your call, Craig. Back to net neutrality with Ron, in Washington, D.C. Ron, your turn.
RONHi. The reason I'm calling in is I think people really don't understand the fact that the commission adopted net neutrality for purposes of increasing competition. It's been a total failure. The underlying policy is bankrupt. The -- it should be…
NNAMDIWhy do you say it's been a total failure?
RONBecause there's no competition in the internet world. The internet delivery services are controlled basically by the six or seven top cable companies in America. There's no head-to-head competition. And with the upcoming merger of Time Warner and Comcast, it'll even go lower. Any economist looking at the marketplace would probably say it's oligopoly.
NNAMDIOkay. And so what do you think should be done?
RONI think we should -- the commission should go back and realize that its policy of trying to…
NNAMDISo you are all for regulation?
RONNo. I -- yes. I'm for making it -- going back and making it what it should have been, a common carrier. Absent competition the only way the public can get a fair deal in the marketplace is by regulating it as a common carrier. There's no other choice.
NNAMDIOkay. Thanks very much. That's what the president would like to do under Title II. And we're going to a short break. When we come back we'll continue our conversation with the computer guys and gal. If there's anything you want to talk about that you've heard us discuss so far, call us at 800-433-8850. We're going to talk about stealing personal data when we come back. So you may want to talk about that.
NNAMDIYou can send us email to email@example.com, shoot us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the #techtuesday, or go to our website, kojoshow.org, and ask a question or make comment there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComing up at 1:00, Section 60. Families of veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan find community in Arlington National Cemetery, today at 1:00 on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" on WAMU 88.5 and streaming at kojoshow.org.
NNAMDIWelcome back. Electronic privacy violations are becoming a fact of life in the Internet age, and new research suggests that it's time to teach your children those facts of digital life. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have come out with a new ranking of how Android apps grab personal data we don't realize we're giving away. And they say apps for kids are some of the most aggressive. So how closely do you check out the apps your kids use? Call us at 800-433-8850, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you know what personal information a game or other app demands before you use, 800-433-8850?
NNAMDIAllison, what did the researchers discover about how apps invade our privacy and make off with our personal data? And how can we tell if an app is going to mine our data?
MS ALLISON DRUINWell, these are great colleagues at Carnegie Mellon. And what they realized is that there is a gap between people's expectations of what the app is supposed to do and what it really does. And so they gave a grade based on that gap. So, for example, they think that Angry Birds, they gave a C to, okay? Because, well, why does Angry Birds need to know your location and not tell you, okay? Or why does -- or why do some of these things access your contact list and not tell you, or only tell you once and not tell you multiple times?
NNAMDIWell, I -- see, I kind of expected it from Angry Birds because, well, they're angry.
NNAMDII didn't really expect it. I didn't really expect it from Kids Bible.
DRUINNo, exactly. Or -- but, you know, but they give an A to Instagram, okay? And they give an A to Instagram, not because it doesn't, you know, want your location-based information, but because it makes a big deal about wanting it and a big deal about saying, "are you sure you want to give me this. Are you sure you're doing this?" and asks every time. So it's not just -- it's basically about how upfront you are. And that's important for not just kids but for all adults as well as kids because we have to, you know, if you're going to give your information away, you've got to know why. And, you know, you've got to know what is going to happen to it.
NNAMDIBible for Kids is on the naughty list -- the Holy Bible is on the naughty list?
DRUINI know. Isn't that terrible? Well, Drag Racing got a D, can you believe? Temple Run a B.
NNAMDILet's let Allis -- let Bill Harlow deal with the Drag Racing.
NNAMDIHe's the gamer here. John, another way people inadvertently give up their personal information is by clicking on phishing messages. Apple now has the dubious distinction of being the top target of phishers. Why is that and what are the phishers hoping to get from Apple users and others?
GILROYWell, for the audience, this is the P-H, P-H-I-S-H-I-N-G, phishing.
NNAMDIYep, that phishing, yes.
GILROYAnd what this means is, is I disguise myself as Kojo Nnamdi and I send an email to Bill and I say, "Hey, Bill, give me your old password there, buddy."
HARLOWSure thing. This link looks legitimate.
DRUINI wouldn't give my password to him even if it was him.
GILROYSo what's happening is, is that because people say, "Well, I'm using an Apple and Apple's just great and they never make mistakes." And they lower their guard. They kind of, they get lulled into thinking they're secure. And then, according to the Anti-phishing, P-H, Anti-phishing Work Group, 17 percent of all phishing attacks are aimed at Apple. And so you have someone -- well, this is a safe neighborhood, I...
HARLOWBig, juicy targets.
GILROY...yeah, I don't have to lock the doors...
GILROY...I don't have to lock the doors to my car. Oh, fine, bang, you're car's going to be just -- so I think even -- even if you have an Apple device and you know it's a -- I know, Tim Cook's a great guy and everything -- hey, you know, keep your eyes open and don't be stupid. There's good advice for all the listeners. Don't be stupid.
DRUINYou know what they're looking for? Apple IDs.
GILROYMm-hmm. That's the key.
DRUINApple IDs, because apple IDs unlock an awful lot of things, from, you know? And so, if they want to steal pornography, they can do it off your Apple ID and not somebody else -- not theirs, you know, things like that.
NNAMDIAllison, Home Depot released new details last week about the spring data breach that involved 50 million customers. The company says hackers stole a vendor's logon credentials to get into the system and install malware that took credit card data and email addresses. What's new about that method of hacking?
DRUINWell, partially because they -- they actually only targeted the self-checkout, okay? I mean, it's a little bit weird. But it's only the self-checkout. And they -- it's because of the way they were able to get in. But it was a very intelligent way that they were able to get in and actually grab things. So they stole not only 56 million credit or debit card information -- identification things, but 53 million email addresses as well. The sad thing is, this barely made a blip in the news. And partially, sadly enough, we're becoming numb to this. Now, part of it is that the companies realize this is the cost of doing business. So you are not responsible for any charges that you -- that might be made to your account that you didn't do.
DRUINThey're going to give a year of credit monitoring. They're -- already, Home Depot has given out $50 store gift cards to frequent shoppers and so on. They've learned from what happened with Target and they're actually being quite aggressive about this. But if you have gone to Home Depot, used the self-checkout between April and September, check and monitor what your behavior is in your account. Because that's possibly the best way you can see if there's anything that's a problem.
NNAMDIComplicating the formally simple decision between self-checkout and cashier checkout, you know have to worry about which one is more likely to be hacked. Here is Steve in Mount Airy, Md. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVEHi, how are you doing? I have a question about supercookies. This is something that came out just recently. But apparently Verizon is now appending information on to your -- when you're doing web surfing, that it actually identifies you to Verizon. So people that pay for this, vendors or whatever, can actually find information about you by (word?) Verizon to this.
NNAMDIDo you know anything about that, John Gilroy? Super cookie?
GILROYIt makes sense to me. I think a lot of people allow cookies to be placed on their machine willy-nilly, and they don't think about it. So I think what you should do is look in the mirror and take a look at the policy you have for your browsing, if you allow people to put cookies on. I mean, that's -- what vendors are doing is, let's say Allison is selling shoes. So Kojo goes to her site. She puts a cookie on Kojo's machine. And then Kojo goes to read about the Washington Redskins. She sees -- he sees an ad for Allison's shoes pop up. It's called remarketing. It's what Google does all the time. It's involving cookies.
GILROYMaybe they use this term super cookie for something beyond that. But it's simple, you know, you give someone permission to place the cookie in your machine, hey, it's their game from then on out.
HARLOWThese are pretty resilient though. And they actually can track you from device to device. So that's what they're going for. So you can be on your phone and they can go to a tablet then go to your PC.
GILROYIf you let them. If you permit them to put cookies in your machine. That's the key.
NNAMDIIf you permit them to put cookies, then that also means they can put those supercookies that track you from device to device.
GILROYVery fattening, very fattening.
HARLOWAnd the other problem, too, though, is if you turn off cookies completely in a web browser, I mean this is a dumb word from around here, but it does house a lot of information for a site you maybe go back to repeatedly. You know, things like your preferences and how the site's laid out.
GILROYLike your password.
HARLOWWell, no, but whether to remember you or not. You know, whether to format it a certain way and that sort of thing.
NNAMDII'm just looking at a piece from Craig Timberg of The Washington Post headlined, "Verizon, AT&T tracking their users with 'supercookies.'"
NNAMDI"Verizon and AT&T have been quietly tracking the Internet activity of more than 100 million cellular customers with what critics have dubbed 'supercookies,' markers so powerful that it's difficult for even savvy users to escape them, John. The technology has allowed the companies to monitor which sites their customers visit, cataloging their tastes and interests. Consumers cannot erase these supercookies or evade them by using browser settings...
NNAMDI...such as the 'private' or 'incognito' modes that are popular among users wary of corporate or government surveillance."
HARLOWBig data, big brother. I know some software developers that can work around that, believe me.
NNAMDIThank you for knowing them.
GILROYWell, we can -- we can bring them in the studio if you want.
GILROYAnd we're supposed to trust these guys with net neutrality apparently, huh?
HARLOWYeah, there having -- Verizon has my best interests at heart.
NNAMDIMichelle has been waiting for a long time. Michelle in Silver Spring, Md., thank you for waiting. You're now on the air. Go ahead, please.
MICHELLEHi, Kojo. Thank you so much for taking my call. I love your show. I am not a techie at all. But, you know, this whole thing with these Internet providers -- why isn't there something like a satellite dish or something? Is there anything so I can get away from files?
NNAMDIYou want to get away from Comcast and Verizon, correct?
MICHELLEYes. I want to get away from everybody.
NNAMDIYou want the government to provide your Internet service.
MICHELLEYeah, that sounds -- no, I don't know about that.
MICHELLEBut I mean, I vaguely remember from eons ago they came out with these satellite dish so that you could get around cable companies. I mean, I have no idea whether there's anything that can get me around -- get me away from, you know, Verizon...
NNAMDIYou mean your DirecTV satellite dish is what you're talking about here?
MICHELLEYes. Yeah, yeah. I mean, is there anything? Is there any way to get around this?
HARLOWI mean, you can sort of. But the problem with the satellite-based services is that there are technology limitations, too. So your download speeds can be okay. But the -- when I last even looked into this, the upload speeds were still tied to something as basic as using like a dial-up line. Because it, you know, it can receive but it can't send. So it's kind of like two technologies cobbled together.
HARLOWYou can also look at things like, well, like wireless mobile as well. But then again, you know, your carrier choices are going to be limited to the big ones like Verizon and AT&T. And then, you know, T-Mobile and Sprint exist and some of the other smaller virtual carriers, too. So, satellite could do it. But I don't know if you'll like it. You know, a mobile provider you can tolerate might be an alternative.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Michelle. And good luck to you. With the growing outcry over women being harassed online, particularly in the gaming world and on social media, Twitter is trying to come to the rescue. The social media site has teamed up with a nonprofit group called Women, Action and the Media to develop a tool to report harassment on Twitter. Question for you, have you been a victim of online harassment? What did you do about it, 800-433-8850? Allison, why did Twitter create this new tool and what's been the response to it?
DRUINWell, people have been very happy about this, partially because of, obviously, what's been going on with the harassment of women in general, having to do with gaming. But, you know, there's been a Pew report -- a recent Pew Research report that says, essentially, 70 percent of Internet users ages 18 to 24 have been harassed, all right? And we're talking, you know, over 60 percent of them on social net -- on social media, 22 percent on comments on websites, you know, where people are, you know, intentionally trying to embarrass people, calling people names and then 16 percent in terms of gaming.
DRUINBut the real news there is that women are actually disproportionately being stalked, being harassed. And so while men may have these issues, women disproportionately are. So, WAM, which is Women, Action and the Media, is actually working not only to develop the application, the new application that's a harassment reporting application on Twitter, but they're doing something else. They're monitoring what's being sent to Twitter and suggesting to Twitter what might be their next steps with these folks. So what you've got is almost an ombudsman type of relationship between a nonprofit group and a very powerful for-profit group, and that's exciting. That's really important.
GILROYYou know, I always dismiss this as, you know, just to walk away from it. But I know an attorney in town here, he's married to a woman who works for a trade association that took a stand on an issue. And just because he's married to her, he was attacked on social media. He had nothing to do with anything. And was attack on the woman? I mean, and I just can't believe this actually happens, but that's the point we're at in society now.
HARLOWOh, yeah, it definitely happens. But it, you're right about it, it's disproportionate. Like, you bring up gaming and this Gamergate thing that's made the news.
HARLOWAnd if a man brings it up, he'll get, you know, I've brought it up on Twitter and have gotten a few replies that last maybe 15 minutes, you know. The women in the industry, they'll get targeted for weeks on end.
DRUINAnd you know, only 40 percent of people do something about this.
HARLOWPart of that is the tools were so bad.
DRUINThat's exactly right.
HARLOWLike, I tried to report this on Twitter and you have to -- it is far easier to report copyright infringement than getting violent, sexist threats thrown at you.
DRUINI know, it's ridiculous. So basically, now this new tool actually gives -- asks people for the details. How are you being, you know -- how are you being harassed? When is it happening? By who do you think this is happening? And that's really, really important. So I'm very excited about this.
NNAMDIJohn, time for the app of the month. Yours is called Flight Tonight.
GILROYWell, let's say you know someone, first name of maybe Kojo. And he decides to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. (laugh) And has this -- he can fire up this app in...
NNAMDII'm not firing because I'm a high roller and the police might take my money after reading about that in the paper.
GILROYRight. And he'd fly to Las Vegas at the spur of the moment, you know, give those folks some money. So that's -- you know, actually I was looking for trips to Los Angeles, and I saw some cheap ones for like $330. And I just noticed that there are people who have relatives on the both coasts, and it's a nice way to, you know, maybe surprise your parents or -- think like a dad -- surprise your parents. Okay, everyone surprise your parents with a cheap trip. (laugh)
NNAMDIFlight Tonight is his favorite app. Allison, your favorite app this month is related to the holiday coming up in two weeks. What does the Thankful app do?
DRUINYeah. Basically it reminds you to be thankful. It's a -- it reminds you that each day you can think one thing and put it in your thankful log of what you're thankful for. And it turns out that, you know, actually studies say that actually, if you just think about -- if you think and reflect about being thankful, you actually have less stress and depression and you're actually have -- are more optimistic and energetic. So I am going to try this one, because I could use some optimism and energy, especially after all this bad news.
NNAMDIBill, your app of the month is a driving assistant called, Automatic.
HARLOWYeah, so it's two parts. One is a fairly expensive device you plug into the OBD-II port on your car, and then the app, which communicates with a Blue Tooth, works with GPS. And I've been using it for the better part of this year, and it's really cool. Because, for example, when I drive here, I can track the mileage. It gives me an estimate of the gas used. I can go back and look up a history on the computer and actually export it to a spreadsheet if I want. So really cool if you do a lot of traveling, especially for work.
NNAMDIBill Harlow, thankful for that. He's 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, director for business development for BLT Global Ventures. I'm thankful for all three of them. And thankful to you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComing up tomorrow on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," an arrest and an abduction case raises new concerns about GPS technologies and how law enforcement can use them. Then at 1:00, from D.C. to Ethiopia, Food Wednesday explores how local entrepreneurs are changing the ways they do business with farmers in East Africa. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," noon till 2:00 tomorrow on WAMU 88.5 and streaming at kojoshow.org.
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