Guests: John C. Dvorak, Becky Worley, and Molly Wood
Recorded: May 17, 2009
Published: May 18, 2009
TWiT 195 •Previous episode – Next episode
This transcript is provided by our friends at Pods in Print
Leo Laporte Bandwidth for this WEEK in TECH is provided by AOL Radio at aol.com/podcasting.
This is TWiT, this WEEK in TECH, episode 195 for May 18, 2009: A Series Of Tube Tops
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Leo Laporte Hi, this is Leo Laporte. Before we begin the show, a program note; I had a great interview with Stephen Wolfram the creator of Wolfram Alpha on Saturday, right about when they were launching of the product. He talked about how Wolfram Alpha was created, what its point is, how it works. I think it was very interesting. It’s about a half hour interview and I decided to stick it at the end of this podcast. So, we are about to begin TWiT, I hope you’ll enjoy it and then stick around afterwards for a special half hour interview with Stephen Wolfram. Thanks.
This is TWiT episode 195 and we are gathered around on a very hot Petaluma afternoon in studio, everybody is sweltering, sweating. And I think this is going to mean a particularly interesting TWiT as people try to rush through the stories and get out of here or and/or take off their clothes. Starting with John C. Dvorak…
Becky Worley Already in a bikini….
John C. Dvorak Wouldn’t be something you really want to see.
Leo Laporte In a Speedo, he is doing the Borat.
John C. Dvorak You know the joke of it is, I am wearing Speedos.
Leo Laporte Underneath?
Becky Worley Wow!
Leo Laporte Underneath your pants? Go ahead let’s see.
Becky Worley Mayday! Wow!
Leo Laporte Oh they’re Speedo shoes. They’re Speedo shoes. That’s just a blatant rip off of what I’m wearing!
John C. Dvorak So you can say you saw Dvorak wearing Speedos. Now, those are – that’s some sort of [indiscernible].
Becky Worley Oh my god.
Leo Laporte These are Crocs.
John C. Dvorak Oh Crocs, these are like croc of Crocs. These are phoney.
Leo Laporte They are phoney Crocs. That’s what I’m saying, it’s a complete and utter rip off.
Becky Worley Wow!
John C. Dvorak Crocs are crap anyway. These rubber shoes are –
Leo Laporte Rubber shoes are rubber shoes. Mario Batali says you can put these in the dishwasher.
John C. Dvorak But you can say I was wearing Speedos.
Becky Worley I really thought you wanted me look down your pant leg. I was kind of horrified.
John C. Dvorak You were hoping. You were hoping.
Molly Wood I was pretty glad that the pant went up that way and not this way.
John C. Dvorak But it’s funny that – no, hey, I am not Steve Jobs, okay.
Leo Laporte You can tell the party’s already begun, to my left Becky Worley of ABC News; to my right, Molly Wood of CBS Interactive. We’ve got a distinguish party here.
Becky Worley You know what I was thinking about this on the way up? This is mixed-doubles.
Leo Laporte Mixed-doubles?
Molly Wood You’re right.
Becky Worley Not only is it mixed-doubles but it’s a really good pairing because Leo and I are both sort of perky, bright side of life kind of people and Molly has a great ability to rant, but stay very likable about it. And Dvorak is king of curmudgeon. So, really you could do perky with sort of curmudgeony either way, boy girl, girls on boys.
Leo Laporte It’s so interesting because in fact I have a list, a notebook that I do to prepare the shows and to put together the casting. You’re listed under perky.
Becky Worley I knew that.
Leo Laporte She’s listed under ran but nice and John is listed under...
John C. Dvorak You don’t have any of that in there, you’re just –
Becky Worley Look at that binder.
John C. Dvorak That’s just some binder you’ve pulled out.
Becky Worley That is so organised.
Leo Laporte Oh it’s upside down.
Becky Worley Oh! He has an algorithm for mixing and matching.
Leo Laporte I actually do.
Becky Worley [Indiscernible] right combination of rage and friendliness.
John C. Dvorak It’s called who can you get to come in.
Leo Laporte Not so it’s really very much of a – it is a cooking show, it’s a recipe. I always plan the show out very carefully. What? What was that?
Becky Worley I’m just laughing, sorry.
John C. Dvorak She’s worked with you too long.
Molly Wood That makes me feel actually even more guilty for how often I can’t – I say no.
John C. Dvorak So, let’s get to the news.
Leo Laporte You know what I do?
Becky Worley I want to, I want to.
Leo Laporte You know what I do? I build the show around you if you can’t show up. I change – then I know where I’m – you are the starting point.
Molly Wood Well, that’s helpful, I feel less guilty now.
Becky Worley John is impatient already.
John C. Dvorak Let’s go, come on.
Molly Wood Yeah, yeah, it is about a thousand degrees in here.
John C. Dvorak The people – they have me on the show – that these guys in this chat rooms to move things along.
Molly Wood Right. Well, what’s important?
Becky Worley You tell us.
John C. Dvorak Wolfram Alpha launches, this is the story.
Leo Laporte Wolfram Alpha, that’s the number one story. They started on Friday, today’s the weekend they launched. I talked to Stephen Wolfram yesterday, I had a good long interview with him. So, what do you think of Wolfram?
Molly Wood Winding it back out, because I’ve seen it, I get the general gist but going into the story, I had no idea what the heck was that about. So, somebody do the summation?
Leo Laporte Thumbnail: Stephen Wolfram is a physicist by training. He went to Caltech, got his Ph.D. in physics at Caltech at the age of 20. At the age of 22, won the MacArthur grant, the youngest recipient ever of the genius prize. He became very interested in computational physics and really became a computer wiz and believes that computers can be used to solve physics problems to discover new physical theorems. In fact he’s gone so far now, he’s written a science book; 1,200 page kind of manifesto about physics in which he says – I think that computational physics is the future and the idea is to write every possible program and you’ll find in every possible program you’ll learn all sorts of new things.
He created a program called Mathematica, it’s a $2,000 program. It’s used by mathematicians, mathematics students, very popular; it’s been around for 20 years.
John C. Dvorak Yeah.
Leo Laporte Have you used – do you know anything about Mathematica, John?
John C. Dvorak I think I may have been the first guy to plug it.
Leo Laporte You discovered it?
John C. Dvorak I think so. I think this was at InfoWorld or something.
Leo Laporte It was very innovative, still is. It’s a notebook format. You can – it’s free form, you write equations, it will graph them. It’s very – and it has its own symbolic language. And that’s kind of key because what he then did, and this was and this was five years ago, did it completely stealthfully, he said we’re going to try to create a computational engine for the Internet based on this symbolic language in Mathematica that will allow people to essentially compute anything, solve any problem by taking arbitrary data sets and asking question about those data sets.
He’s been doing this for five years. It only became public a few months ago. I asked him why stealth. He said because “I don’t [indiscernible] know if it will work or not.” He said it couldn’t even work until very recently, he didn’t have the computational power to make this happen. So, he went online this weekend, it looks on the surface of it and I think this is a problem for him, like Google. It looks like a search engine. But it ain’t a search engine, that’s not – you’re suppose to enter in – I’m not clear on how to use it.
Molly Wood Well, it’s a little bit baffling, yeah. There was –
Becky Worley Okay.
Molly Wood – kind of a great headline in PC World actually about it that just said, “I am not smart enough for Wolfram Alpha”. And that’s kind of how I feel.
John C. Dvorak Yeah, true.
Molly Wood Like for one thing, I can barely say it without saying “Wolthram Alphra.”
John C. Dvorak “Alphra”?
Leo Laporte Well it’s kind of hard to say.
John C. Dvorak You can’t say it.
Molly Wood Which is kind of annoying. So if they could change the name that would be super.
Becky Worley I’ve been saying Wolfgang Puck.
Molly Wood I am not smart enough for Wolfgang Puck. I went there and just tried to enter something and nothing happened.
Becky Worley Me too.
Molly Wood But mostly he has a few – there are suggestions on the side, like things to enter. And then if you enter all those –
John C. Dvorak You enter San Francisco you get a whole bunch of stuff.
Molly Wood So, is that even remotely useful?
Leo Laporte But that’s a trivial use of it!
John C. Dvorak No, I know but it’s a very handy use if you’re a talk show host.
Leo Laporte Yes, that’s true.
Molly Wood What it basically does is if you enter a query that it has the right kind of data set for, it spits out a report. I mean, you get graphs and you get stats and you get interpretations.
John C. Dvorak And you can make a PDF of it and put it in somebody’s binder, and the next thing you look like a genius.
Molly Wood Basically it’s just homework: done.
Leo Laporte He said – I asked him and he said, I said if – do you ever get any surprising results? He said oh, every time I use it I get unusual results. He said, for instance, if you put in a first name, one of the things you’ll see, it plots first names against when they were used. He said I can give you your life expectancy based on your first name statistically because Molly was only used in these years, and the chances are you’re a certain age. And so it has life expectancy information, it has – it’s combining databases, information databases in unusual ways. It uses Mathematica underlying, he says every query is converted to a symbolic mathematical query. It’s very heavy duty.
John C. Dvorak Anyway, so people should check it out.
Becky Worley It seems just from looking at it before the show –
John C. Dvorak But it’s not Google.
Becky Worley – totally non-sequitur, I mean, it just seems so random.
Molly Wood It is.
Becky Worley And you just have to wonder if expectations being high, people being confused...
John C. Dvorak Well I think the problem is that people immediately confuse it with Google, and they call it a search engine; it’s neither. It’s not to be – it’s not a competitor to Google, in fact they have a Google link on it and it’s not a search engine by any means.
Molly Wood Well, it’s very hard to classify.
John C. Dvorak It’s just something else.
Molly Wood And it’s a little bit hard to determine what you are going to get. What it is, is basically just wonderful information gathering and kind of extreme geekery. I don’t think that in terms of the rest of the world, they are going to be talking about Wolfram Alpha nearly as much as we are. And they’re are not going to be talking about it at all frigging impossible to say. But I think it is almost just like fun data mining, like, it’s fun! I put my name in: turns out there’s only 124,956 people alive today named Molly.
Leo Laporte Named Molly. Isn’t that cool?
Molly Wood Yeah, right. It’s just neat.
Becky Worley Yet another timesink.
Molly Wood Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.
Leo Laporte He said, the other thing he said it’s so –
Molly Wood It’s a needle in a rabbit hole, is what it is.
Leo Laporte There’s a learning curve and he said that as people use it they – he’s watched even over the last 48 hours and people have been asking better and better questions. He – so, I think that some of it is that. I asked him, “What is your goal for this in five to 10 years?” He said, “Eventually, I want this to be – you can ask a question and it will – anything that is computational, it will be able to solve. Just kind of a universal computational engine.”
Becky Worley Wasn’t that Ask Jeeves goal?
John C. Dvorak Well, no. Ask Jeeves’ was to do regular searches using the a standard language query.
Leo Laporte Right but it was still a search engine. So, the difference is Google or Ask Jeeves is only searching what somebody has already answered and put on the net.
Becky Worley Yes, but in his own FAQ he says –
Leo Laporte This creates new answers.
Becky Worley – you have to ask something that’s already known. He says that in his own FAQ.
Molly Wood But then he draws these relational –
John C. Dvorak Known doesn’t mean on the net.
Molly Wood Right, he draws these sort of relational connections, right? He makes relationships. What the engine does is make relationships between data and spit out other knowledge basically. Like it sort of adds to the body of knowledge about something that is already known, I guess.
Becky Worley Is this just worship of a guy who happens to be obscenely smart who is pandering to humanity?
John C. Dvorak When did she – she’s like the sceptical one here!
Becky Worley Oh, I’m supposed to be perky! I’m supposed to be perky.
Leo Laporte I think that’s exactly – that’s the question though. You look at something like this and either the guy is a crackpot or he’s a genius and we’re in – and I can’t figure out.
Molly Wood I think it’s the death of thought, this thing. Because really...
John C. Dvorak Oh, we’ve got two of them here.
Molly Wood …if you think about it, this is the kind of thing that means that in the future you don’t actually have to know anything yourself. You don’t have to do any of your own kind of drawing of relationships...
John C. Dvorak And why should you?
Molly Wood ...between the data in your head and the data that you’ve got. You just plug it all in here and then boom: it tells you things.
Leo Laporte Not at all. I don’t think it’s going to replace thought. In fact, I think the idea you think – most of the thought is asking the right query and then finding out interesting relationships. We’ll see. I don’t know. I –
Molly Wood I just like that you very seriously said, “I don’t think this is going to replace thought. I don’t know.”
Leo Laporte Hey, I listen to you and I pay attention to what you say.
Molly Wood That’s not going to happen.
Leo Laporte I have to say I just honor the guy because it takes a grandiose vision, which this clearly is, to make any progress. Unless you say “man can fly, and we’re going to figure out how” or “maybe it’s possible to make a machine in a website that can solve every problem”. You don’t try these things. So, I admire him. I mean it’s a gutsy thing to do.
Molly Wood In all honesty –
John C. Dvorak I just put in a query, I got an “I’m sorry Dave” message.
Leo Laporte Yes, they are really overburdened right now.
John C. Dvorak Then of course everyone that has been listening to us –
Leo Laporte Is going there.
Molly Wood In all honesty though I think that this is phenomenal. I think that search was the first great frontier in terms of breaking down all of – I mean all of the world’s information is accessible at our fingertips, and the categorization and the discovery of that information –
John C. Dvorak I think it’s a myth.
Molly Wood And then the relationships between all of those different data set are kind of the key to accessing any of this.
Leo Laporte Yes.
Molly Wood To having it, to making it accessible.
John C. Dvorak I think it’s a great myth.
Leo Laporte Well, it’s –
John C. Dvorak All of the world’s information is not at our fingertips.
Molly Wood It is now with Wolfram –
John C. Dvorak No, it’s just a bunch of – some information.
Leo Laporte More and more, more and more. And the compute – what’s changed is the – yes, that’s nice.
Becky Worley That is John slurping.
Leo Laporte And what’s changed is that computers give you the ability to process this. In the past, you could put everything online but who could find anything? Now you have the capability of finding it and then the next step is to make some sense out of it.
Molly Wood Parsing it.
Leo Laporte I think this is the next step and I think it makes perfect sense. It’s brilliant, I hope he succeeds. But meanwhile –
John C. Dvorak [Indiscernible] he’s already succeed.
Leo Laporte Meanwhile on Twitter.
Becky Worley Ha ha!
Molly Wood Thanks goodness.
Becky Worley Who would have thought that you’d need to get out of something else besides Twitter? Wow. Hot diggity.
John C. Dvorak Thank goodness, finally a topic that’s interesting: Twitter.
Leo Laporte I got nothing to say about Twitter. Netbook – we will all the Twitter stories. We have a new way of doing Twitter. I do all the Twitter stories at the very end of the show and I tell people, “We are going to do Twitter now.” You know somebody wrote a program to take Twitter out of TWiT?
Molly Wood It’s the Twitter ghetto.
Leo Laporte So, it analyzes the show. It’s a Python program. It analyzes the show, and if the word Twitter is in the sentence, it takes the sentence out. And it also can be used the other way, where you take everything but Twitter out. So, you get your choice.
Becky Worley Who are these people with this much time on their hands?
Molly Wood I know.
John C. Dvoraks I would like the guy who did that, I want to hear from him.
Leo Laporte He’s brilliant. Isn’t he?
John C. Dvorak Yes.
Leo Laporte Isn’t that great?
John C. Dvorak Yes, I want. I am serious I want that guy to get a hold of me. email@example.com
Leo Laporte Oh, he did because of you, you know that John. You created that need. There’s actually a lot of stories and we are going to get through them fast. Netbook demand dropped 26% in the first quarter. Remember, we were saying netbooks are the next big thing? Apparently not.
Becky Worley I think that the sales over Christmas were so insane.
John C. Dvorak [Slurping sound]
Molly Wood I am sorry I can’t think, what?
Becky Worley I know.
Leo Laporte Would you just put some Bourbon in his Slushie?
Molly Wood I know for god sake, man.
Leo Laporte For god sake, give him something else to slurp at.
Molly Wood Demand for that slurping sound has decreased 100% in the last 10 minutes.
John C. Dvorak Look it up on Wolfram.
Leo Laporte This is according MarketWatcher display search and they base this on display demand. 5.9 million netbooks shipped worldwide first quarter, down 26% from the 8 million in Q4. Now, there are two possibilities: one is they are too – even a netbook is too expensive in the modern economy. People can’t even afford those. Or, people got them and realized. Now, Molly Wood is using the Vivienne Tam Dell Mini right no.
Molly Wood Yes, the HP Mini.
Leo Laporte HP. I am sorry.
John C. Dvorak Can I see?
Molly Wood Yes.
John C. Dvorak Oh, it’s pretty.
Molly Wood Isn’t that nice?
Leo Laporte But I wonder if people are discovering –
Becky Worley [Indiscernible].
Leo Laporte I wonder people are discovering that they are not powerful enough. But you –
Molly Wood I don’t think that it’s about reacting to the netbooks themselves. I mean I think that you hit a market really well. They saw the price point, they jumped on it and then those that had need have been saturated with them –
Leo Laporte [Indiscernible] saturated.
Molly Wood And I think this is good news for hardware manufacturers.
John C. Dvorak You guys should have a look at this, it’s really pretty.
Leo Laporte Isn’t it beautiful?
Becky Worley It’s gorgeous.
Molly Wood I absolutely love it.
Becky Worley So, you just see the Acer story? Acer shipments of netbooks up 300%, profits down 30%.
Leo Laporte Well that’s a problem for Intel too, because the Atom is not a very profitable processor. Intel’s not so happy about all this.
Becky Worley So, I think –
Leo Laporte How come their profits are down – Acer’s profits are down?
Becky Worley I think there’s zero margin on these netbooks. And I think that they actually lost market share on some of their other books that have higher profit margin because they were selling netbooks.
Leo Laporte Did you see the Seashell? You are going to want one of these, Molly. It is going to replace your Vivienne Tam. This is the new Acer Eee PC.
Molly Wood If it’s pretty, I am in.
Leo Laporte It’s thin.
Molly Wood Have you been to della.com?
Leo Laporte Oh, let’s talk about Della.
Becky Worley Hello.
Leo Laporte It’s selling Dell computers to gals.
Becky Worley To the ladies.
Molly Wood Oh, so, now this is the kind of thing that frequently makes me angry. Actually, that redirected to WeddingChannel.com.
Becky Worley It’s actually Dell. You have to go through Dell’s website. It’s not della.com. Apologies.
Leo Laporte So, the idea – in fact, I love the headline. I can’t remember who said it. It’s “selling computers, 1959 style”. It’s really a lady’s – let me see if I can find this.
Becky Worley I think this is good because Molly…
John C. Dvorak I’m going to have to go dig up my old MicroTimes column. I wrote a series of columns in MicroTimes way back when discussing the likelihood of something like this actually emerging, and then I got a bunch of grey hate-mail.
Leo Laporte Well, you were right.
Molly Wood I actually – at one point I went very far in terms of building out the idea of an electronics store that would appeal to woman as opposed to the electronics stores we have now which make me want to die as soon as you walk in.
Leo Laporte Well, there are a lot of pictures of women on the front of it.
Molly Wood This is really pretty pandery. I am not going to lie.
John C. Dvorak Where is it?
Molly Wood Like, as the woman who bought the HP Mini Vivienne Tam edition laptop, this is a little too far.
John C. Dvorak Where is it?
Leo Laporte Google “Della” it’s the fourth one down.
Becky Worley Well, it’s interesting because I think that the perception is this is some sort of a site that looks like Massingale ad. Like, “if you need to feel fresh, here’s the nice pink…”
John C. Dvorak Oh, Google Della, sorry.
Becky Worley But it’s not that.
Molly Wood My computer is not so fresh feeling.
Becky Worley Yes, but it’s not that. And I think in some senses, this is a natural to slam it because it does feel like it is pandering to women. But on the other side of the coin –
Molly Wood It is kind of nice, it’s pretty.
Leo Laporte You are the one who bought the fricking Vivienne Tam.
Becky Worley It’s just packaged a little differently. It’s not –
Molly Wood Right.
Becky Worley – it’s not saying “because your purse is so heavy…”
Molly Wood But you know what it is doing?
Becky Worley It just shows pictures of women as opposed to dudes.
Molly Wood But it has products, tech tips and featured artists.
Becky Worley Featured artists, right.
Molly Wood It’s sort of like don’t mix the content up, right? Like I do, I actually really like that this is an attractive, nicely designed site that has products that are good-looking and reasonably priced. Or whatever, maybe powerful enough than…
John C. Dvorak Robyn Moreno: Author, Fashion Expert, Spokesperson.
Molly Wood That’s fine. But once you start – yes, like why do you have to throw in this weird little lifestyle stuff? Like I don’t – what’s “giving”? Like why is there is a link that says “giving” and then there is a featured artist.
Leo Laporte Because women want to give.
Molly Wood But just because I am a woman, doesn’t mean I want to give, it doesn’t mean I care about art. I like computers.
Molly Wood Give me a netbook!
Leo Laporte But you know – I mean – okay, then why did you get the Vivienne Tam edition?
Molly Wood Because it’s gorgeous. The fact is that if you do beautiful right, then you don’t have to pander to me. You just do gorgeous and then I’m in, you know?
Becky Worley I just would never pay more for it though, that’s the part –
Molly Wood Oh, I paid a lot more for it. It is very embarrassing.
John C. Dvorak You paid more?
Leo Laporte So –
Molly Wood Oh, there is a huge fashion tax on the Vivienne Tam.
John C. Dvorak Why don’t you just get a cheap-ass decal and put it on there.
Molly Wood I don’t know, I just – sometimes that happens.
Leo Laporte No, no, no, no, I think is exactly –
John C. Dvorak Look, like Leo’s TWiT.TV thing can we get a shot of that?
Leo Laporte No, I can’t get a shot of that.
Becky Worley But, you know, dudes will pay a lot more for Sony computer just because they respect the Sony name and it’s like Gucci to them.
John C. Dvorak What?
Becky Worley Yeah. Not you.
John C. Dvorak Okay, what planet are you from that anyone respects the Sony name?
Becky Worley Not you, I’m talking about your average Joe who thinks Sony is some sort of a high-end electronics brand. And they will buy a Sony laptop because it says Sony and it looks a little snazzier.
Leo Laporte Well, I’m going to posit this.
Molly Wood Don’t get me started on the people who will buy a Monster Cable for any reason whatsoever. That’s like no different than my Viv.
Leo Laporte But maybe what they are doing is they are saying, “Well, women want a more aesthetic site”. A less utilitarian, more aesthetic site. This is more aesthetic. It’s prettier.
Molly Wood I think that’s true. That’s okay.
Leo Laporte So, just as you bought a more aesthetic computer, you don’t want any less power. It’s the same computers.
Molly Wood But don’t mix the message with artists and giving.
Becky Worley I totally agree with that.
Leo Laporte Well, I don’t understand the featured artists and giving, I don’t understand that.
Molly Wood That’s ludicrous. That’s just waste of space. Just give me the computer, but give me it attractive, I’m totally fine with that.
John C. Dvorak I’m looking – it’s like a blog entry and it’s got one crummy comment.
Becky Worley Yeah, I know it’s terrible.
Molly Wood It’s marketing people gone haywire because really there’s nothing to do for marketing people. They have to justify their existence by creating crazy content along with their websites where they’re trying to sell crap
John C. Dvorak When somebody’s eating a cheese sandwich. That’s appropriate.
Leo Laporte It also seems a little odd –
Becky Worley Right, that’s what I’m saying, no I saw the cheese sandwich. Like what the ‘H’?
John C. Dvorak What does she eat if it’s not a cheese sandwich?
Becky Worley It’s for computers.
Leo Laporte It does seem a little odd if you look at della.com –
Becky Worley I don’t need a cheese sandwich as my entrée into learning about a netbook. Like I’m capable of learning about a netbook without a cheese sandwich.
John C. Dvorak I don’t know how this show’s already off the track.
Leo Laporte No, this is very newsworthy. I detect a little ambivalence on Dell’s part because they didn’t get della.com. They’ve hidden it. They buried it. The URL is content.dell.com/us/en/home/della.aspx. They’re a little ambivalent themselves. They’re waiting to hear what we say about it.
Molly Wood ‘Shall we have a website for women? Should we do this?’
Leo Laporte Find it. Try and find it.
Molly Wood It’s just a – we have a market in play/marketing ploy. We have a woman play. That’s how they talk, right? ‘We have a woman play’.
Unknown Speaker Right. Totally, it’s called Della. We’ve got Della Burke lined up to be our spokesperson.
Leo Laporte Do you think the Vivienne Tam edition sold well?
Molly Wood No.
Becky Worley Really? It didn’t?
Molly Wood I don’t know. I’ve never seen another one in the wild. But apparently recently I got some emails that said it showed up on Desperate Housewives which bummed me out.
Leo Laporte I think Veronica bought one too.
John C. Dvorak Why?
Molly Wood No, I don’t think so.
Leo Laporte No? somebody I know bought one.
John C. Dvorak So, why would the Desperate Housewives plug bum you out? Because you hate that show?
Molly Wood No, because that made me think, like ‘oh, now it’s totally mainsteam’. I had that moment. My favourite band just got huge and it’s like
Becky Worley Right, it’s like showing up at a party with somebody else wearing your dress.
John C. Dvorak Well that’s why you probably shouldn’t – never buy a Macintosh. They’re on every TV show.
Molly Wood I don’t, actually.
John C. Dvorak Or that Panasonic –
Leo Laporte She’s very anti-Macintosh, John. You should know that.
John C. Dvorak Is she?
Molly Wood I’m the only person in the world who switched back.
John C. Dvorak [Laughter] switched back…
Molly Wood I’m not making that up, I did.
Leo Laporte She’s an [indiscernible]
Becky Worley She wants to be a smoke [indiscernible]
John C. Dvorak Why?
Unknown Speaker I can’t stand it. I can't stand a computer that bosses me around. Where everything works fine as long as I do it exactly the way the computer wants me to do it. And Apple has laid out the rules for me to do it that way and if I wanted to do anything – any differently at all…
John C. Dvorak This is not a new situation, though.
Molly Wood Then I will lose my ever loving mind – well that’s why, I’m just saying that’s why.
Leo Laporte I’m going to give Molly Wood a reason to hate Apple in a second. Before I do I want to mention GoToMeeting.com/twit. GoToMeeting is that product from Citrix that we talk about all the time that makes your meetings more visual, more vital, more effective and you could try it free right now at GoToMeeting.com/twit – yeah everybody drink This is good. Aerate, drink, hydrate, take a walk.
Becky Worley Un-stick from the chair.
Leo Laporte John uses these ads as an opportunity to actually leave.
Molly Wood He’s leaving.
Leo Laporte We all have people we have to meet within our jobs, you know, and the last thing nowadays you want to do is get in the car and survive swine flu in the middle seat and taking your shoes off and all that stuff, so use GoToMeeting.
GoToMeeting means you can have a meeting, which is effective as a real life in person meeting. A sales presentation or product demos. You can collaborate, you could train. We use it on Maxwell’s House. He shows his screenshots that way. You could try it free right now and I think you’re going to really like this. This is GoToMeeting.com/twit. For $49 a month, all the meetings you want. Includes unlimited Voice over IP and phone teleconferencing. It is such a good deal and right now free. So there’s no reason not to try it.
GoToMeeting.com/twit. I’m a fan and I know you will be too. The folks at Citrix know what they are doing. Give them a try.
So, Molly Wood.
Molly Wood Yes, sir.
Leo Laporte Apple just released an update to os 10 that was 493 megabytes. 493 megabytes. It fixed 16,000 files. And here’s the funniest thing, it makes it run better – the hackintoshes are running better. They’re getting better battery life on the netbooks. I don’t think Apple intended that. But this…
John C. Dvorak I know about that, you know the funny thing about –
Leo Laporte You think they might have wanted people to do hackintoshes?
Unknown Speaker Well, the funny thing about Mac upgrades unlike Windows upgrades, is that every time they do want – well, not every time, but most of the time, the performance of the machine actually improves when you reboot it, it usually goes faster…
Molly Wood Temporarily
Leo Laporte They fix something.
John C.Dvorak They fix something and it goes better. With every Windows fixed the machine is visibly slower. Slower and slower…
Leo Laporte Now, John you got to –
Molly Wood What?
John C.Dvorak …and slower until they’re so slow that you have to upgrade.
Leo Laporte You got to say that Windows 7…
Molly Wood That doesn’t even make sense.
Leo Laporte …though it’s awesome. Have you been using Windows 7 yet?
John C.Dvorak No, I don’t use Windows 7. I don’t use anything that’s in beta anymore.
Leo Laporte Yeah, I don’t blame you. But this is not in beta, this is ready to, ready to – this is cooked, this rolled.
John C.Dvorak Yeah,that’s what they always say.
Becky Worley So, what’s your further beef with this Mac upgrade?
Leo Laporte The size of it.
Becky Worley So what?
Molly Wood That’s less than half – the 0.1 upgrade that I get from iTunes about every other frickin’ day.
Leo Laporte That’s another one. In fact –
Molly Wood That’s just how they roll, with the gigantic upgrades. Seriously like 8.1 update to iTunes will be 100 megs or more.
Becky Worley Isn’t there the presumption that Mac users are higher eschelon computer users who are obviously on high level broadband?
John C. Dvorak What? What?
Molly Wood Oh no.
Leo Laporte Well if you are on dial up, what do you do?
Molly Wood No, I don’t think so.
Leo Laporte Are you going to be able to download the half gigabyte update on dial up? I don’t think so.
Molly Wood I think that’s part of the weirdness of the Apple ethos right now actually. Is that they can’t quite the side they want to be. Because here they – because in the old days, right, the Mac was just like it’s super simple and that’s what you use, because it’s just easy and that’s – the Mac is the machine that people buy for their moms right now, because it’s just easy. It just works, like you don’t have to know that much about things. But then on the other hand you’ve got the terminal thing and people getting digging into the linux, the unix kernel and really getting command line on it. And so it’s got this bizarre, I think, identity crisis about whether it’s a geek machine.
Becky Worley If you’re paying 2000 bucks for a computer, you got broadband. You got monster broadband.
Leo Laporte I guess that might be true.
Molly Wood I don’t know, you think?
Becky Worley Definitely.
John C. Dvorak I think we need –
Leo Laporte Who has dial up? The question really is –
John C. Dvorak Well where’s Wolfram|Alpha when we need it?
Molly Wood Well, they might just have slow DSL.
John C. Dvorak Maybe it has the answer. Maybe somebody out there knows of some stats.
Molly Wood Or ask Comcast people.
Leo Laporte Nowadays if somebody has – there’s two groups that have dial up still. Either people who really are out of touch or don’t care anymore. In other words they have the choice but they say I can’t afford to spend $15 on high speed Internet I’m going to get AOL dial up. More likely though, it’s people who live in rural areas who have no choice right?
Becky Worley They’re contemplating that or satellite and they’re just saying it’s not worth it.
Leo Laporte Now they may have Macs. They could very legitimately have macintoshes.
John C. Dvorak Well then they are screwed.
Becky Worley I don’t think so. Because if you’re outside the broadband world, why are you going to spend big money unless it’s your second home?
Leo Laporte Uh, maybe.
Becky Worley Why are you going to spend big money on a computer if you’re outside of the broadband world. You’re not – what?
Leo Laporte You’re a Crackho. I’m sorry.
Molly Wood I’m buying that
Becky Worley dot com.
Leo Laporte Story number five. Crackho.com, the state of Alaska sent a cease and desist letter and made copyright claims against Houston based DJ Shu Latif. Shu Latif registered Crackho.com some years ago; 1998.
Molly Wood Genius.
Leo Laporte Yeah and she’s never really had a use for it until Sarah Palin ran for Vice President. She changed the – she changed crack – all she did was change Crackho.com to redirect to the official website of Sarah Palin.
Becky Worley She being this domain owner, not Sarah Palin?
Leo Laporte Shu Latif. No Sarah Palin had nothing to do with it. Now I don’t think it’s illegal to redirect a domain is it?
John C. Dvorak No, why it would be?
Molly Wood No, why it would be?
Leo Laporte Well the state of Alaska thinks it is. Alaska’s Attorney General Michael Barnhill sent a cease and desist letter to Latif. It also asserts that Crackho made illegal use of the official seal of the state of Alaska. ‘In fact the site looks just like our site!’
John C. Dvorak Well, maybe there’s something there.
Leo Laporte We can’t understand it. There is no site! It goes to Sarah Palin’s site.
John C. Dvorak Oh I see what you’re saying. Oh that’s funny.
Becky Worley That is classic
Molly Wood Confusion.
John C. Dvorak So, it’s doesn’t do – it’s just a complete – it’s a server level redirect. So, it just goes straight there. There’s no wait, click here –
Leo Laporte Well I don’t know. Let’s try it.
Molly Wood Well that’s the great thing about –
Leo Laporte Everyone go to crackho.com!
John C. Dvorak Oh now we can’t get there because all of these –
Molly Wood They took it down. She took down the redirect apparently.
Leo Laporte Oh shoot.
Molly Wood She did sort of – she backed down and now she just has an image of Sarah Palin and it links to the Sarah Palin website.
John C. Dvorak But that’s worse.
Molly Wood Which is actually potentially worse, but it’s not a copyrighted image.
Leo Laporte Well, if you saw the image you’d realise it’s the most insulting – I mean this is ugly.
Becky Worley Wow. She doesn’t have that many chins in real life.
Molly Wood Copyrights is such a blunt instrument. That seems like the safest thing to use against anybody. So I think if you’re a lawyer you just go ‘copyright’!
John C. Dvorak I wonder if Palin ever wore a Palin button? That’s an interesting question.
Leo Laporte So, there’s no way they can cease and desist this person. Why did this person –
Becky Worley No well they’re threatening them with legal fees basically. But I mean the interesting –
Molly Wood Yeah, yeah. She caved though.
John C. Dvorak Not necessarily, no, you just ignore it. You do it what Mark Percattle my sis-op does. He loves getting those letters. He puts them on the wall and he just saves it.
Leo Laporte That’s what Pirate Bay did. That worked for them, didn’t it?
John C. Dvorak Well, I mean Pirate Bay was a real target. Most of these cease and desists are just a bluff.
Leo Laporte Did you hear what Pirate Bay’s – the latest thing they did? They kind of…
Becky Worley This micro payments thing?
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Molly Wood Unreal.
Leo Laporte So, okay – so their fine was, what was it? 2.4 million, whatever. They said ‘okay, fine. What we’re going to do is we’re going to set up a micro payment site so that you can help pay our legal fees. But we recommend you pay such a low amount that it actually costs more for them to get the payment.’
Becky Worley And so the concept here is they’re depositing directly into the recipient’s account so that all of the banking fees are accrued by whomever is receiving Pirate Bays settlement.
Leo Laporte Yeah, they’re calling it a distributed denial of dollars attack. So they –
Molly Wood Wow. They’re devious.
Becky Worley They’re playing dirty pool.
Molly Wood They do. I like them.
Leo Laporte So they want to overload the lawyer who’s collecting the settlement with internet traffic, damaging their ability to provide services – oh, no I’m sorry that’s a DDo$ Attack. What they’re doing is they are – okay, so they are sending – they say – there’s a surcharge of two Swedish kroners for the account holder. So they suggest you send him one Swedish kroner. So that every time he gets a kroner it costs him two.
John C. Dvorak Right, so it costs him a whole one.
Leo Laporte He’s in the whole one.
Becky Worley But all the while the fee is being taken down by a penny…
John C. Dvorak Generally speaking, most of these systems do not do a negative accrual.
Leo Laporte Yeah, in the long time – in a long time.
John C. Dvorak They usually just zero out. I mean PayPal, you can give them two cents and you get nothing.
Leo Laporte Oh really? They zero out.
John C. Dvorak Yeah. If it’s less than their minimum.
Leo Laporte Yeah that make sense. It’s a great idea though.
Becky Worley I mean the great thing about this is it’s just deviousness.
John C. Dvorak Well it’s funny.
Leo Laporte Just messing with ya.
John C. Dvorak Those guys are troublemakers, take my word for it.
Leo Laporte ‘They’re gonna cause problems down the road!’
John C. Dvorak You heard it here first.
Leo Laporte ‘There’s gonna be a problem!’
John C. Dvorak There you go.
Becky Worley How is it that we have Somali Pirates and Pirate Bay all at the same time? Just pirates as a thing.
Leo Laporte Do you remember that the Somali Pirates are mad at Pirate Bay? They said ‘they are not pirates.’
Becky Worley No way!
Leo Laporte No I’m not kidding!
Molly Wood You are making that up.
John C. Dvorak No actually that’s a fact.
Becky Worley That is so good.
Leo Laporte They said ‘we are pirates. They’re just nerds.’
Becky Worley Who speaks for the Somali Pirates ?
Leo Laporte Apparently –
Molly Wood Yeah is there a spokesman?
John C. Dvorak That guy in New York, whatever it was – we haven’t heard much about him. The one guy that’s having the time of his life in aManhattan
Becky Worley Oh yeah! The bad tooth guy.
Molly Wood Oh right. The happiest – the happiest little pirate in the world. He’s like 18.
Leo Laporte ‘They’re not pirates. I am a pirate. They’re not pirates.’
Becky Worley Oh your accents are good.
Leo Laporte I don’t know what the Somali accent is. That’s – that’s –
John C. Dvorak That was a Bengalese accent.
Leo Laporte No this is a Bengalese accent.
John C. Dvorak Okay.
Becky Worley That’s the muppets.
Leo Laporte ‘I am not a pirate!’ Jammie – speaking of the IRAA, were we – yeah I guess we kind of were.
Becky Worley Sure.
Leo Laporte Jammie Thomas, you know that poor woman.
Becky Worley Jammy Jammie.
Molly Wood Jammy Jammie. I call her Jammy and I don’t care.
Leo Laporte Was ordered to pay – almost a quarter of a million dollars to the recording industry. Then the judge decided he made a mistake. He had been wrong about one of his instructions to the jury. The judge said I was listening to the recording industry, they set me up, it was wrong. So he said we are going to have to do this again, you guys go to a settlement conference, because we got to figure this out. The conference now has failed and the entire case we start over, it’s a reset next month. It is going to be litigated again. Again.
Molly Wood Yes, that’s not really a surprise. I mean they couldn’t – there was no way they were going to reach a settlement, because she…
Leo Laporte Yeah what’s she – just gonna pay them a dollar. Here’s a dollar.
Molly Wood …doesn’t have any money and they want a quarter of a million dollars.
Leo Laporte I’ll give you Swedish Krona’s.
Becky Worley Right.
Molly Wood Because she what – she made available like nine songs and they want $ 18 million and then you know…
Leo Laporte 200,000 dollars in damages.
Molly Wood 200,000 dollars. It’s ridiculous.
Becky Worley Okay so the last time I was on we talked about sort of the – this is their strategy, just to scare people. This has been their strategy all along. Obviously it doesn’t seem like it’s the continuing strategy.
So I have a question. Assuming that none of you guys steal music on a regular basis, why don’t you? John why don’t you – do you steal movies, music…
John C. Dvorak I listen to classical music mostly.
Leo Laporte You can’t steal that, they’re all dead.
John C. Dvorak I just turn it on the – I have a 24/7 FM feed in my house.
Leo Laporte I should tell you John considers Metallica classical music, just so you know.
Becky Worley Okay, so the music that you listen to, there’s no need to steal it, because you have everything you want?
John C. Dvorak I don’t really listen to – no. I play the radio, believe it or not. I am not like that type of person. I have an old –
Leo Laporte Do you listen to the Sunday morning opera on the – you do, don’t you?
John C. Dvorak No, you know what, the one I like they used to have, they changed it from Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon on the – our local classical station. They have this thing where they have this young prodigies that, they are like nine years old and that they have them play this ridiculous stuff, you go wow. Where do these kids come from?
Leo Laporte That’s cool I like that. I would listen to that
John C. Dvorak These kids are funny, they go up and do one liner’s with the people. It’s really an outstanding show. Can’t thin of the name of it though.
Leo Laporte Is it on –
Unknown Speaker No. So no I don’t steal music.
Becky Worley Why don’t you steal music, Molly?
Molly Wood I don’t know. I guess I don’t want – I’m not a stealer in general, and it’s cheap. It’s cheap enough now.
John C. Dvorak Because most music’s crap.
Becky Worley So you have an open vehicle. Leo?
Leo Laporte What?
Becky Worley Why don’t you steal music?
John C. Dvorak He does steal music.
Leo Laporte I steal music.
Becky Worley Okay, why do you steal it? I mean you’re –
Leo Laporte Well actually I – well here’s an example, Coldplay just offered album up for free, downloaded it immediately. Even though I’d be willing to pay for it. I buy a lot of music. Actually don’t – I haven’t stolen music in a while. But I stole it at the time.
Molly Wood You’re one of the people –
Becky Worley Well I think you are fair game because you give your content away.
Leo Laporte I will tell you – I if I go online to – and try to buy a song and I go everywhere and that song is not for sale, then I’m willing to download it, if they are not going be…
John C. Dvorak Where you are going to download from?
Leo Laporte Well that’s the problem, you can’t do it anymore. You know what, I will tell you my secret
Molly Wood See that’s honestly – I am too lazy to steal music. It’s too hard.
Leo Laporte I will tell you my secret.
Becky Worley It’s easy to get [indiscernible]
John C. Dvorak Hey he’s going to tell us his secret
Molly Wood Now there’s enough of a barrier entry. Right I got my little credit card there, I’m good to go.
Leo Laporte It’s so easy to buy. I don’t even use a credit card, I just click it right?
Becky Worley Yes.
Molly Wood Yeah. Well yeah it’s already, the info is already in there –
Leo Laporte iTunes you don’t even need –
Becky Worley What’s your secret? People are hanging on the edge of their seats.
John C. Dvorak What’s your secret?
Molly Wood Yes, what’s your secret?
Leo Laporte Newsgroups.
Molly Wood Oh yes.
Becky Worley Oh.
Leo Laporte Newsgroup – and here’s the problem, bit torrent you can be tracked. You really can be tracked. You’re basically making a connection with somebody.
John C. Dvorak Yeah. Everybody is tracking.
Leo Laporte And everybody knows your IP address. Newsgroups, especially if you use a site like Supernews or Easynews, they don’t keep their logs, there’s no way of tracking you. It’s a completely anonymous transaction. So you can download anything you want from those groups.
John C. Dvorak Why don’t you go to the IRC and do it?
Molly Wood I have a relative who get all his music and movies basically from newsgroups. He’s shameless.
John C. Dvorak I think if you are going to steal music, your best bet is the IRC even though it takes it forever, because you have to…
Leo Laporte That’s dangerous, because you don’t know where you’re getting all that.
Becky Worley That’s my point, is the reason why people aren’t stealing music is because they fear viruses, they fear spyware...
Leo Laporte And they’re right. They just found a Trojan horse in Windows – the Windows 7 beta. So if you download it from bit torrent, many people got a Trojan horse in there. Same thing happened with iWork, Apple’s iWork. That’s the only known Apple Troy Trojan.
John C. Dvorak Okay. What Trojan is associated with an MP3 file?
Leo Laporte You can’t put a Trojan in an MP3 file but often what they’ll do is they’ll make a zip or they’ll disguise it.
Molly Wood They’ll disguise them.
Becky Worley And most people don’t know to distinguish between an MP3 file and the other types.
Leo Laporte The default behaviour of windows is to hide the extension. So you download something.
John C. Dvorak When you get Windows the first thing you do is you go to the tab that turns that off. Immediately.
Leo Laporte I agree. It’s horrible
Becky Worley But 99% of people don’t. So –
John C. Dvorak No, they should. And if they don’t and they get Trojan, well you know what can I say?
Becky Worley What are the legal implications of the IRAA posting Trojans?
Leo Laporte Who’s at fault there? Microsoft’s at fault.
John C. Dvorak Yes I know they got the wrong –
Leo Laporte Their default setting is bad.
John C. Dvorak Yeah, it is.
Becky Worley I mean that’s come up a lot, that the IRAA and other companies have esentially posted Malware
John C. Dvorak Mmhmm.
Molly Wood On sharing sites and stuff.
John C. Dvorak I think that’s illegal.
Molly Wood I think it’s illegal and it keeps happening.
Leo Laporte It’s totally illegal.
Becky Worley I don’t see that that’s a problem
Molly Wood This has always been the argument for not the – sorry – what you were getting at a minute ago has always been the argument for cheap, available, easy to download, DRM free, high quality music online which it’s ludicrous that it has been resisted for so long and now it’s the argument for cheap, available, easy to download, DRM free, easy to obtain video content that the movie industry is continuing to miss.
Leo Laporte I bet you piracy has completely plummeted because it’s so easy to get music now.
Molly Wood I think so. I think it makes a huge difference.
Leo Laporte It’s so easy, it’s so inexpensive
John C. Dvorak I would take that bet.
Leo Laporte Really you think. I – no no. Well let’s find out, let’s ask Wolfram.
Molly Wood You think piracy is down?
Becky Worley Mmm.
Leo Laporte I think Piracy – music piracy is down and I would say that video piracy is way up, television and movie piracy is way up. But it’s so cheap and easy to get music now. Point of access is everything.
John C. Dvorak Still too expensive – a dollar’s too high.
Leo Laporte But you know what they found out – apparently because Apple started charging a $1.29 on you know on some songs, those songs are not selling well.
Molly Wood Yes because that’s – no, that’s annoying.
John C. Dvorak Way too much.
Leo Laporte It’s too much. It should be a nickel.
John C. Dvorak In my day you used to get an album for $1.29.
Leo Laporte For a nickel.
Becky Worley The only people who do that are people who have Sonos and want to keep their music for a long time and stream it round the house.
John C. Dvorak Most music is crap. That’s the problem.
Leo Laporte And that, by the way is argument for a subscription service like Rhapsody, Napster or the Zune store and I – you know I load up my Zune with music for 15 bucks a month. Actually it’s 5 bucks because I get 10 free songs. So in effect it’s 5 bucks a month and I can listen to anything and I would – I’ll be honest with you, most of the stuff that’s on my Zune I assume I would never buy.
Becky Worley And that’s this Microsoft Ad that’s going around right now with the certified financial plan I think.
Leo Laporte That’s $30,000 per iPod, yeah.
Becky Worley Which costs 30K.
Molly Wood Come on.
Leo Laporte How many of you have iPods where you have $30,000 worth of music on?
Molly Wood Right. 30,000 songs.
Becky Worley But how many songs have I bought 7 times in various ways? Like please.
Molly Wood I actually – I am a little bit tempted by the subscription model, because I do find digital media weirdly hard to keep track of.
Becky Worley Yes.
Leo Laporte Yes.
Molly Wood Like you lose it – like it’s on the –
Leo Laporte Like you lose stuff.
John C. Dvorak Yeah. Another reason to just give up on the whole thing.
Molly Wood And then Apple, by the way, doesn’t make it very easy to deal with your digital media, because if you’ve got it trapped on one iPod god forbid, you can’t sync it with another computer, it’s just a nightmare.
Becky Worley It’s the reason why getting an NAS drive is worth it. Because if you put all your stuff on a central drive – I haven’t lost any media since I did that.
Leo Laporte Most people end up having it hanging around and…
Molly Wood That’s a good idea
Leo Laporte …there’s little fragments of music on all sorts of places and I can’t get it all synced up and…
Molly Wood I just have music dump folders.
Leo Laporte Wait until the twins are a little bit older, because what’ll happen is they buy songs – because my kids buy songs I bought. It’s on different computers, it’s all over the place. If I – I would love to do an inventory of the music in the house and get it all together, but who has time for that?
Becky Worley Don’t you default it all to a central drive? That’s – every time I install iTunes on a new computer I do that.
Leo Laporte No. That’s too complicated.
Becky Worley You know my point about the whole IRAA thing and the virus is fear is an inhibitor to making decisions. So if you’re afraid of getting viruses, if you’re afraid of getting sued, you won’t download that kind of stuff.
Leo Laporte I agree.
John C. Dvorak I think that the person that’s liable –
Leo Laporte Most probably why they seed viruses into this stuff.
Becky Worley I just had to go back to that, because I don’t see what the difference is between that and say a honeypot.
Leo Laporte Right.
Becky Worley I don’t get it.
Leo Laporte Same thing
John C. Dvorak The only reason I suggest IRC, for one thing I don’t think there’s much of that going on, it’s because I’ve known a couple of IRC administrators and I ask them point blank about the music trading that goes on on some of these channels and I said, has anybody from the IRC…
Leo Laporte No.
John C. Dvorak …ever come around and asked for a log of IPs or anything from you ever? Answer’s never.
Becky Worley Right
Leo Laporte Yes.
Becky Worley It’s too arcane for them to actually pursue anyone.
John C. Dvorak It’s a little arcane.
Becky Worley Because if they were getting the media for it, they’d have to explain what IRC was and every person that they are trying to scare off would go ‘I don’t use that IRC so why – I don’t got to worry’.
Leo Laporte Same reason is it’s too arcane and then most people aren’t doing it and they’re not going to go after to go after those guys.
John C. Dvorak ‘The what?! The IRC?!’
Becky Worley ‘They come after me for money every year and in my paycheck!’
John C. Dvorak ‘Are those the ‘revenuers’? We got some bourbon we’re cooking in the back.’
Leo Laporte We do. Molly Wood brought me some really good – this is called…
Becky Worley Wow.
Leo Laporte …Bulleit Bourbon. Is that how you pronounce it? Bulleit? Bulleit Bourbon?
Molly Wood I don’t really know. I call it bullet, but I am not sure. I am sure I’ll be corrected.
John C. Dvorak ‘It’s pretty good!’
Leo Laporte Bulleit Bourbon.
Molly Wood Bulleit Bourbon.
Becky Worley Well, I’d taste it.
Leo Laporte Kentucky Straight Bourbon, well let’s open her up.
Becky Worley I taste it, I mean –
Molly Wood I will try it.
Becky Worley I don’t want to force anyone.
John C. Dvorak Sure you do.
Molly Wood I might dump this wine right into my smoothie cup, that’s not tacky, right?
John C.Dvorak You should have a couple of shots. Let’s bring out the shot glasses.
Leo Laporte Do we have shot glasses? I don’t think –
John C. Dvorak You better get shot glasses from now on.
Becky Worley You can pour a little on top of this.
John C. Dvorak The way things are going in this show, we need shot glasses.
Leo Laporte Do we have any…?
Molly Wood I’m dumping the wine.
Becky Worley John’s showing his speedo, Molly and I are scantily clad and we’ve got the bourbon open.
Leo Laporte Oh, man, there was a – oh, this –no, just drink it out of the bottle.
John C.Dvorak Ha ha! Drink it out of the bottle…
Molly Wood No, come on.
Leo Laporte Oh, come on, just, you know…
Becky Worley Like that?
Molly Wood Oh, you ruined it.
Leo Laporte Oh, my God, that’s good.
Becky Worley All right.
Molly Wood It’s nice, right?
Leo Laporte It’s very – you’ve had it?
Molly Wood Yes.
John C. Dvorak Oh brother.
Leo Laporte It’s very smooth.
Molly Wood Whiskey is a thing now.
Leo Laporte Well, before we get to that, no there are, there’s quite a few more, but I do want to mention Squarespace. Have you ever tried Squarespace? Anybody? Squarespace? There goes John.
John C. Dvorak I use Squarespace.
Leo Laporte Do you use Squarespace for your websites?
John C. Dvorak Ah, yes, I am developing….
And I can tell you, now we have, we’ve moved Dick DeBartolo over there, we’re moving our TWiT blog over there. Alex Lindsay is about to move everything from Pixel Corps over there. It’s just a really easy way to do a website, and because the hosting is using a very powerful virtual server technology, they can really add capacity as necessary; you just never run out of bandwidth. You can’t break a Squarespace site. E-Commerce, everything’s on there. I want you to try it free, two weeks free, no credit card needed, you just go and sign-up right now, squarespace.com/twit, squarespace.com/twit.
And if you decide to sign-up, use TWiT as the promo-code, and you’ll be able to get 10% off the Squarespace, already low price. I am very – these guys are brilliant programmers, this is kind of the next gen in web-design. squarespace.com/twit, try it free for 14 days, no commitment, no credit card, and by the way it imports from Wordpress, Blogger, Movable Type and TypePad and exports back out too, so you are never trapped. I think that’s really important.
John C. Dvorak Yes, that’s actually one of the good things.
Leo Laporte It’s kind of neat that they do that. I mean there are a lot of companies that are afraid to do that because they are afraid…
John C. Dvorak A lot of guys won’t do that. Yeah, they to lock you in and screw you.
Leo Laporte Yes, screw them. Not Squarespace; squarespace.com/twit. It used to be in radio, you couldn’t have – the FCC prohibited having any booze in the studio. Although you have – there were exceptions, because for instance, you traditionally do the thing when the CHP comes in and they breathalyse you, and you drink and the disc jockey gets drunker and drunker and they are testing you, and then they say now you’re at point one, now you’re at point two. You don’t remember that. We used to do that every year, it was just an excuse to get sloshed.
Molly Wood Who would remember that? You get drunker and drunker.
Becky Worley So Google failure.
Molly Wood Oh, yes.
Leo Laporte Google this week, you go and you do a search – what happened? Because that didn’t happen to me, but the Gmail and the searches –
Becky Worley 14%.
John C. Dvorak It was only parts of the country.
Becky Worley Gmail, Search, Docs, Voice.
Leo Laporte Jeez. Wow.
Becky Worley 14% of users lost connectivity with the old Goog.
Leo Laporte And why? They routed all the traffic to Asia.
Becky Worley [Indiscernible].
Molly Wood As you do.
Leo Laporte Somebody made a mistake.
Molly Wood Once again, pretty much just the cruel reminder that we shouldn’t be quite as dependent on the Goog as we are.
Becky Worley Boozy? Oh, yes.
Molly Wood And/or boozy.
Leo Laporte No, in fact it’s not the last, not the – I mean, very recently they had a configuration issue, what is going on with Google? Remember that? When you go to Google and it said you’re a spyware site, except that it said that to everybody.
Molly Wood Everybody, right.
Leo Laporte And again there was human error.
Molly Wood Which [indiscernible], and there was a big Gmail outage not that long before that, I think too.
Leo Laporte Is this stuff that hard?
Becky Worley Well, but when you have that much volume, I think it’s really tough to test this internally before you release your fixes, because how do you simulate that much volume?
John C. Dvorak The problem is Google is so secretive we don’t really know what – how this came about.
Leo Laporte It sounds like an engineer just –
John C. Dvorak And then they changed the story two or three times.
Leo Laporte Oh, did they?
John C. Dvorak Yes, as far as I can tell, they kind of soft peddled it after.
Leo Laporte That did that last time too, they said well we did it, oh, er, it was more like…
Becky Worley It just makes you realize again the dependency issue, it’s like how much redundancy do you need to have?
John C. Dvorak Well, that’s the Cloud. It’s just another Cloud, Cloud, Cloud problems.
Leo Laporte I love the Cloud. I love the Cloud; I think netbooks succeed because of the Cloud. All you really need is an opening to the Internet, and that’s all. And you got it, that’s the future.
Becky Worley But I think you have to in some way, mirror or create redundancies are separate systems that are local, I agree.
John C. Dvorak You’ve got to have local stuff.
Leo Laporte You know, once in a while, you are down, it just means that you should go out and get some fresh air, come on.
Becky Worley It depends on you industry.
John C. Dvorak She needs some fresh air anyway.
Molly Wood I don’t want to, I mean…
John C. Dvorak By the way, by the way, it’s officially hotter outside now than it is in here.
Leo Laporte See?
Molly Wood It is?
John C. Dvorak Yes, I just went out there.
Molly Wood You sure about that?
Leo Laporte See?
Molly Wood Really? ‘Cause it’s pretty hot in here.
Leo Laporte You thought it was bad here, it’s worse outside.
John C. Dvorak It’s really hot outside.
Molly Wood Wow!
Becky Worley Crazy hot.
Molly Wood That’s not okay.
John C. Dvorak It’s like a 100.
Becky Worley Looking forward to that.
John C. Dvorak I mean, it’s 94 in here, according to your little thing, in this room?
Leo Laporte Yes, yes, yes.
John C. Dvorak And it’s about a 101 outside.
Leo Laporte Well, good.
Molly Wood I think what happened though, the last –
Leo Laporte And they don’t have lemonade and bourbon outside.
Molly Wood The last time there was a big Google outage actually, I know someone who works at a company that relies on a lot of Google traffic, and they had significant monetary impact as a result of the Google outage.
Becky Worley Wow.
Leo Laporte I guess if you are running business on the Cloud that’s a problem.
Molly Wood So if you’re running business on the Cloud, if you are relying on searches, Google searches for most your traffic, which almost everybody is at this point.
Leo Laporte Oh, that’s a good point, that’s a good point.
Molly Wood And then if you’re relying on them for data, analytics data, these are pretty…
Becky Worley Google Voice.
Molly Wood It’s not just about not being able to send an email, which sucks, but it’s about….
Leo Laporte No, when Google’s down the Internet is down.
Molly Wood An actual monetary impact.
John C. Dvorak Google is the Internet.
Becky Worley Yes.
Molly Wood Google is the Internet.
Leo Laporte Is that a good thing?
John C. Dvorak No, of course not.
Molly Wood No. No, no-one should be “the internet”.
John C. Dvorak But it is; it’s a fact.
Leo Laporte What do you do?
Becky Worley Well, but, I think Yahoo! Saw their searches go up…
John C. Dvorak I think we should shut them down.
Becky Worley Yahoo! Saw their searches go up something like 19% during that time frame, and there was a lot of interesting chatter about how, “oh, I had to search on Yahoo! It was so awful.”
Molly Wood Oh, kill me.
Becky Worley And –
Molly Wood Seriously.
Leo Laporte Shoot me first.
John C. Dvorak It is awful.
Leo Laporte By the way, Wolfram Alpha says it’s 97 degrees outside.
Becky Worley I try to –
Leo Laporte That’s what it is, it’s a weather service!
John C. Dvorak How would Wolfram Alpha know it was 97?
Molly Wood It knows the weather, but I tried to search it for information on music piracy rates, nothing.
Becky Worley It’s because it’s –
Leo Laporte It’s not a search engine.
Molly Wood It was like “er...I don’t know what to do with your input.”
John C. Dvorak Three degrees warmer outside?
Leo Laporte It’s not a search engine.
Molly Wood Yes, but shouldn’t I be able to put in music piracy and get some data?
Leo Laporte It’s not a search – that’s a search engine metaphor.
Molly Wood That’s what I am saying though, when –
John C. Dvorak It’s not a search engine.
Molly Wood What would I say to it?
Leo Laporte You would say – I don’t know.
John C. Dvorak You can’t, it’s not just – it doesn’t…
Molly Wood That’s like a cute guy at a bar, like I’ve got nothing.
Becky Worley You are three of the smartest people I know, and the three of you cannot figure out how to describe this thing, and that’s cracks me up.
John C. Dvorak I’ll describe it: it’s the C.I.A. Factbook on steroids plus a calculator.
Leo Laporte Yes. A Graphing Calculator.
Molly Wood Well, that’s the best description I’ve heard.
Leo Laporte Here’s a story for you John, we talked about this when – the publishers, man they are just so conservative. They didn’t like the fact that the Kindle had Voice transcription that would speak your books out loud and they complained to Amazon, and Amazon, really within a week of the release of the Kindle 2, said all right, we’ll put a switch in. They’re starting to use it; Random House is now putting out books that – 40 titles, including titles from Toni Morrison and Stephen King, that you cannot text-to-speech on the Kindle.
John C. Dvorak They hate the blind.
Leo Laporte That’s it, I love it. It’s an anti blind thing.
Molly Wood Oh, the National Federation of the Blind had a huge demonstration.
Leo Laporte Good.
Molly Wood A huge demonstration against the Authors Guild and for accessibility and said that this is absolutely –
John C. Dvorak And they should definitely picket the Random House, seems to me.
Molly Wood Uh-huh.
Leo Laporte This is just another case of a company not getting it, it’s not a –
Molly Wood Oh, it’s ridiculous.
Becky Worley It’s stupid, it’s ridiculous, they also have so much control over all the flags that are on the books themselves and their connectivity to each individual Kindle that you could hypothetically, say to them I am blind, cut me some slack and they could open up your Kindle.
Leo Laporte Oh, really? Ah.
John C. Dvorak I think –
Becky Worley There’s no reason from the technology standpoint why they couldn’t do that.
Leo Laporte Sure, you’re right.
John C. Dvorak I wonder if there’s a flag where they could – if you wanted to, you’re the publisher you have it flagged so it reads in Chinese. That would be kind of cool, right?
Becky Worley Really, really, really fast.
Molly Wood I think, I think it’s shameful that Amazon caved on the text-to-speech feature issue and I think it’s shameful the way the publisher –
John C. Dvorak Amazon is just trying to get this thing out, so I think they have no choice.
Molly Wood I think that’s ridiculous.
Becky Worley Maybe that’s the issue, is maybe once they get enough market share they’ll just tell the publisher to beat it.
John C. Dvorak At some point Amazon is going to be wagging the dog, there’s no doubt about it, and the publishers know it.
Becky Worley Yes.
Leo Laporte You heard my conspiracy theory, the fact that they were able to flick that switch and –
John C. Dvorak And I believe you’re right.
Becky Worley Wait, I didn’t hear it, go back.
Leo Laporte Yes, if they were able to flip that switch – they were able to flip that switch within a week, right? It wasn’t that hard. They were ready for this, they knew immediately when they put this together, they said, the Authors Guild is going to get pissed off because of their Audiobook rights. Build in the switch, build in the capability, and let’s see what happens when this happens, when Random House or somebody starts flipping this switch, let’s see what kind of protests happens. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here.
And it’s very smart, Jeff Bezos is a smart fellow, he said, all right, fine, they don’t like it, we’ll build in the switch, let’s see what happens. And I think you’re going to see so many protests, it’s going to hurt the publishing companies, it’s going to weaken them and the next time Amazon says we’re going to add a feature, they’re think twice about contesting it.
Becky Worley What about paying an extra buck for Text-to-Speech enabled?
Leo Laporte I don’t want to pay anything for it, it sound like crap.
John C. Dvorak Yeah, it’s not true text-to-speech.
Becky Worley I know, but you’re not blind.
Molly Wood But if you are blind are you getting that audio?
John C. Dvorak You’d probably be buying the Audiobooks, but there’s some books that don’t have audio [indiscernible].
Molly Wood Some books don’t have audio versions.
Leo Laporte There is no question in my mind that if you have –
Molly Wood You should – but thin it is, but then that to me is legitimately offensive accessibility issue. Then that would be like, I am not paying a dollar extra for something that ought be, like it’s an accessibility thing, right? I mean I guess they already, there are already so many hoops that you have to jump through if you’re blind. You have to buy like screen reader software and you have to do this and that and the other thing and it’s like this is built in, it sounds kind of crappy just make it easy. Don’t charge me a buck for it.
Becky Worley I think it would be great for, basically –
Molly Wood I think it’s a good idea though.
Becky Worley And for reading blogs if you’re blind and you wanted somebody to read your blogs, this would be way better than having Jaws read you on Eudora Light which is what they have to do now.
Leo Laporte Exactly, it’s a fantastic solution. Amazon knows it’s in the right. They knew that the authors guild was stupid about this, the publishers were stupid and they said –
John C.Dvorak They’ve been stupid about a lot of stuff, they’ve been stupid about the Google stuff.
Leo Laporte Yeah exactly. The Google books service. All Amazon’s – did the right thing which is okay, you don’t like it, we’ll let you do that, see what happens.
Becky Worley It’s on you.
Leo Laporte It’s on you now.
Molly Wood That’s a good conspiracy theory, I like it.
Becky Worley I like it too.
John C. Dvorak It’s not really a – do you see the problem with – by the way I made a point of this recently. We have to be careful when we call something a conspiracy. A conspiracy means there is people conspiring.
Leo Laporte It’s not a conspiracy. It’s called a strategy.
John C. Dvorak It’s a strategy.
Leo Laporte Where’s the Bourbon?
Molly Wood A strategy theory.
Becky Worley Well, where do you think, it’s by me! Where else would it be?
John C. Dvorak Okay, this is a story worth talking about. Intel fined 1.5 billion.
Becky Worley Oh yeah.
Molly Wood Yeah.
Becky Worley I am surprised we didn’t lead with this, this is a monster.
John C. Dvorak This is a better…
Leo Laporte I will tell you what it’s not a monster. So this is the European Union and for nine years or something they have been going on, saying that Intel, which we all know Intel does, I mean this is Intel’s MO has been saying to companies, “we will give you a discount as long as you don’t buy any of those AMD parts.” Or “we will give you some marketing money but you better not have AMD on your parts list.” So Dell said that they, you notice Dell does not sell AMD computers? Why do you think?
John C. Dvorak Well I know the real reason.
Leo Laporte Why?
John C. Dvorak Michael Dell – in fact, I have the document at home because I was doing an expert witness thing and they gave –
Molly Wood This sounds a conspiracy theory.
Leo Laporte Oh that’s good.
John C. Dvorak It is not a conspiracy theory. He made testimony, they asked him specifically in one of these cases that way back when “what was the quid pro quo”. Because Dell came out and testified for Intel in the case, he was on the stand. And so the AMD guys got wind of what might have been going on, so they grilled Michael about what was the quid pro quo, and he says, “well I made a deal with Intel and they said I am always going to get the first shot at all their newest chips, but I can never use AMD chips.” And that’s it. “Is that all it was Mr. Dell?” “Yeah, it seemed like a good idea to me.”
Leo Laporte Well, Dell has no choice. So the EU, I think they proved the case. They – AMD was bitter and for years they have saying, please Intel is shutting us down. Intel’s using monopoly to do this. So they fine them, but here is the deal. It’s a huge fine. It’s 1.45 billion.
Molly Wood It’s bigger than the Microsoft fine.
Leo Laporte They were allowed to fine them up to 10% of the revenues they make per year from the European Union. They only fine them 4%. So essentially, this is the cost of doing business for Intel. This is less than a slap on their wrist. They are saying, we will tax you 4%. You go ahead, you do this anti-competitive stuff, you put AMD out of business, we’ll take 4%. It’s nothing! It’s nothing! They didn’t even take the 10% they could have taken.
Molly Wood It’s not like they’re giving it to AMD.
John C. Dvorak I know that’s the funny thing about it. I actually had a chat with AMD about that [indiscernible] didn’t get the money.
Molly Wood It’s not only that AMD gets it. And is there anything it has to attached to it? Is it just a fine? There is no sort of change in behavior clause
John C. Dvorak Oh, no. They have to change their behavior.
Molly Wood They do, okay.
Becky Worley But I mean so much of what Intel does is on that borderline, I mean just their advertising and their marketing partners; you know that intel jingle? I don’t if everybody knows this but it’s two seconds in an ad but they’ll will pay Dell or HP 25, 35% of their advertising funds just for the jingle.
John C.Dvorak And they make a co-op. It’s a co-op ad.
Leo Laporte And that’s part of the deal, we will give you the co-op money as long as we don’t have any problems with the supplier chain and there is no AMD, that’s how they do it. It’s basically, here’s how we give you bags of cash. It was the same business for the cable TV business. When we would go, when TechTV would go to a cable channel and say we would like you to carry TechTV, they would come with a little black bag with marketing dollars. It’s co-marketing money.
Becky Worley Now, is that per subscriber was how we did it there or was it just [indiscernible].
Leo Laporte I think it was just a flat, here is a million and a half bucks.
John C. Dvorak It was just bag money.
Leo Laporte It’s bag money. “Here’s a million and a half bucks. It’s “marketing money”, yeah, that’s the ticket.” And that’s the way people do business and I think this is what Intel does. They say, we’re going to push it as far as we can, when we get caught we will pay you the 4%, that’s the cost of doing business. We still get to keep 96%, and oh, by the way –
John C. Dvorak And it’s only for one shot. It’s not like they’re doing this every year. It’s not 1.45 a year.
Molly Wood Plus, what are the odds that they’re their actually going to pay? And they’re not going to pay, they’re just going to appeal it for the next 10 years and then they’ll end up paying, but it will be like a long time from now.
John C.Dvorak They’ll end up paying, they’ll pay.
Leo Laporte They will appeal and the reason they have to appeal is because they are also being sued in the U.S. or investigated in the U.S. for the same behavior. So, they have to pursue it.
Becky Worley Is this the cost of doing business, what, and I am just speaking sort of devil’s advocate sort of more from the free market perspective, what prevents AMD from doing this?
Leo Laporte They are not a monopoly.
Molly Wood They aren’t big enough.
John C.Dvorak You have to be a monopoly.
Leo Laporte The key to this, this only works, you have to have a dominant –
Molly Wood Like Apple engages in monopolistic power or monopolistic behavior all the time but they are so small that it doesn’t matter.
Leo Laporte Right.
Molly Wood They can’t win like that.
Leo Laporte And that’s the whole point of antitrust regulation is that you can do this unless you have such a dominant market position that it hurts competitiveness and innovation. And that’s what the EU was saying. This is bad for a competitive position, it is bad for innovation. And they are right and Intel’s going to get away with it, because essentially big deal, 1.5 billion no problem. We got it.
John C. Dvorak It’s about what it cost them –
Leo Laporte It’s marketing money.
Becky Worley Yeah.
Leo Laporte All right, we are going to take a break. Twitter – I just said that to see what John would do. Twitter! Now this is actually a relevant, a relevant story that are you are going to like about Twitter. I’m not kidding. Somebody told me I shouldn’t do teases in these shows because, and it’s true from my broadcast background, I’m used to teasing into commercials right? So you’ll stick around. He pointed out, well all I have to do is fast forward. You’re just making people fast forward.
John C. Dvorak You are making them fast – right, because especially if the tease is really good.
Leo Laporte Oh, I got to hear that story.
Becky Worley I like it.
Leo Laporte You girls take off your tops while I talk about –
Becky Worley Sexy time, hold on.
Leo Laporte Sexy time. While I talk about – oh my God they are doing it! While I talk about Audible Platinum. Ladies and gentlemen Audible is the audio books that we were talking about. Let me tell you there is nothing like an Audible book. You can listen to text to speech on the Kindle till you turn blue in the face. When you are listening to audio from Audible, you are listening to a performance. A great book read by somebody who is a pro, a real genius, a dramatization. I think it’s better than listening – than watching a movie. I feel like it’s, it’s a visual thing and my mind is much more effective than my brain is at creating – I can’t look because now she is doing something with her top.
Molly Wood And she is ripped, let me just say.
Leo Laporte You just really shouldn’t. I am just going to be, I – no it’s okay, go ahead. I am not looking. I have got a hand over…
Molly Wood You are really crazy hot.
Becky Worley Wow.
Leo Laporte And that’s with two T’s ladies and gentlemen.
Becky Worley I was having an unconscious moment.
Leo Laporte It’s okay, no please, don’t stop on my account. Audible.com, let’s just show that real quickly. This is the Audible website. You go to audible.com/twit2. You could sign up for the Platinum account that gives you two books a month. I do two books a month easily. You can see that once you start looking around at audible.com there is so much great stuff there that two books a month is almost not enough. I am going to recommend as we were talking about movies, I am going to recommend Angels and Demons. Before you go see the movie, listen – I say read, but in deference to people who don’t like it, I am going to say listen to Angels and Demons, Dan Brown’s prequel to the amazing Da Vinci Code. This is the way, will be as visual, as vivid as anything Tom Hanks could put on the screen. Or Ron, what’s his name Ron Howard or anything Becky Worley could do with her blouse. Angels and Demons – it’s not really a blouse.
Becky Worley No.
Leo Laporte It’s more like a tank top.
Becky Worley It is a tankini.
John C.Dvorak TWiT now stands for “This Week in Tube Tops”.
Becky Worley Sweet! Okay, straps are down. Just kidding.
Molly Wood Mayday, mayday.
Leo Laporte I moved to, I actually said I move to Petaluma for the tube tops. This is the place. If you like…
Molly Wood It is a thousand degrees here, who lives here? You. Well I am just saying, it’s really hot here.
Becky Worley Sweaty people.
Leo Laporte Wait a minute, you live in the East Bay, it gets hot in the East Bay.
Becky Worley Not like this!
Molly Wood Not like this! I just watched the temperature on the car thing just go steadily up as I drove here.
Becky Worley Zing!
Molly Wood 83 to like 192.
Leo Laporte It’s not normally this hot. In fact the reason I don’t have AC in here is because it doesn’t normally get that hot in Petaluma, but it is all of a sudden, I don’t understand.
Becky Worley I think it’s great, I love it.
Leo Laporte It’s global warming.
John C. Dvorak It’s nice, I like the weather and it’s good tomato growing weather.
Leo Laporte It’s good tomato growing weather. We get great strawberries, tomatoes and wine, because you know why, it’s cool at night. You get nice hot sunny days, nice cool evenings, makes a great wine. But I’m not going to talk about wine right now, I am talking about audible.com. Angels and Demons from Dan Brown, that’s our pick of the week, you get this book free when you go to audible.com/twit2. Wait a minute, what am I saying, you don’t just get this book free, you can get this book and the Da Vinci Code free, two books.
Molly Wood Wait! wait! There’s more!
Becky Worley But wait!
Leo Laporte But wait!
John C.Dvorak There’s more!
Becky Worley Set it and forget it!
Leo Laporte Are you getting this, camera guy?
Becky Worley By the way, there were three ShamWows by the door for you guys and I forgot…
Leo Laporte You forgot my ShamWow?
Becky Worley I totally blew it on your ShamWow.
John C. Dvorak I need a ShamWow
Leo Laporte Oh man, you loser.
John C.Dvorak You could’ve used one in here.
Becky Worley I know.
Leo Laporte You could mop up, think about all the sweat you could mop up with one ShamWow. They’re made in Germany, they make great stuff.
Molly Wood We are almost through the show, right?
Leo Laporte Angels – yes we are. Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code, read the whole oeuvre from Dan Brown right now by going to audible.com/twit2.It’s free, it’s great, you are going to love it. I am a big audible – do you want to hear a little Angels and Demons – you guys, you just relax, take it easy, take a little break, here’s a little Angels and Demons. We are going to have a little listening break while everybody just chills out.
It is Richard Poe’s narration and you I think it’s one thing Audible is missing is those sound effects.
John C. Dvorak We could probably a whole thing in, in dubbed up sound effects.
Becky Worley That would be great.
Leo Laporte It is kind of mystery –
Becky Worley Did it feel like masterpiece – what was it? Mystery Science Theater.
Leo Laporte Mystery Science Theater 3000 for audio books.
Becky Worley I like it
Molly Wood That could be cool. The publishers would probably hate it.
Leo Laporte It’s a whole new podcast – good.
audible.com/twit2, we thank them so much for their support of This Week in Tech.
So, did you, this was actually, this is actually going to be to your point John that Twitter is a nightmare. Somebody Twittered that Prop 8 had been overturned by the California Supreme Court and if you follow the link it turned out it was a link to a March 2008 article. It was a year old article that was in fact the Supreme Court decision that allowed Prop 8 to be put on the ballot. But everybody on Twitter didn’t read – or didn’t follow the article. They just re-tweeted and there was this storm on Twitter, yeah Prop 8’s been overturned. Prop 8 is the California proposition that made it illegal for – to gay marriage in California. Very controversial in California. It’s already been overturned in about eight states. It’s going to be overturned in California, there is no question about it. But this wasn’t the decision. And what it showed is that the people are fairly uncritical about the news they get on Twitter.
Becky Worley Well the scary thing is the genesis of the story looked like it came from the L.A. Times.
Molly Wood It came from the L.A. Times.
Becky Worley The tweet the original tweet itself.
Leo Laporte Yeah and the L.A. Times people admitted they screwed up.
Molly Wood Right. But it’s too late for them.
John C. Dvorak Are you telling me that professional journalists…
Becky Worley They made a mistake.
Molly Wood And that L.A. Times Twitter.
John C. Dvorak But what that doesn’t make any sense.
Molly Wood No, right? I am shocked.
John C. Dvorak They’re trained. Shocked
Becky Worley They have been to journalism school, John.
Molly Wood And also appalled.
John C. Dvorak I know what that’s like.
Leo Laporte So, maybe this isn’t an anti-Twitter story.
Becky Worley Ooh!
Molly Wood Ahah!
John C. Dvorak Exactly. If it wasn’t for these trained journalists we wouldn’t be having these issues.
Molly Wood It’s the same story as like the blogs repeated a story over and over – it’s a story about uncritical thinking.
Leo Laporte It’s an echo chamber and this is something we really got to train people in is thinking again.
John C. Dvorak Craigslist erotic ad concession.
Leo Laporte Craigslist says, yeah okay we won’t have erotic ads, which I am sorry about, but they have decided – what are they are going to have? Adult services instead.
Molly Wood What they have said is, we will totally have erotic ads, they’ll just be in a different part of the site. They’ll just have a different name.
Leo Laporte It’s not in any way a concession.
Molly Wood No, no. Well, actually the one big concession that they made and I am surprised about this and am interested to see how they implement it, because they have been saying for years there is absolutely no way that we can manually review all of the ads that we get. There’s just – that’s impossible for us. And so the big concession that they supposedly have made is we’ll have a new erotic services ghetto but we will have some people actually looking at these before they go up.
Becky Worley Every one.
Leo Laporte I manually review every one of these ads. It’s not hard to do.
Molly Wood That bourbon’s making you gross, dude.
John C. Dvorak Do you manually do it?
Leo Laporte Manually.
Becky Worley Manually and it’s not hard.
John C. Dvorak Well it’s a lot cheaper that way.
Molly Wood Oh Lord. Wow, can I get a third May Day? Third May Day.
Becky Worley Oh, May Day, May Day, May Day.
Molly Wood I need a rescue.
Becky Worley Do you guys remember the website that warned Johns of where stings were happening?
Leo Laporte Good.
Becky Worley And it would just be sort of a news group where they post on a Friday night saying don’t go to…
John C. Dvorak It’s a public service.
Leo Laporte Is that illegal?
John C. Dvorak No, shouldn’t be.
Becky Worley Well, that was the question. And they just knew where the stake-outs were, they posted online and people went to other corners and…
Molly Wood Like the anti-flush mob.
Becky Worley there is legality issues, but more of this is a cat and mouse issue of, well if not here then where?
Molly Wood A/ They’re going to have an adult services link section that looks like identical to the erotic services section. They say it’s going to be manually reviewed but they are still going to – I mean you’re just going to see the –
Leo Laporte What are they going to do? What does manual review mean?
Molly Wood You are just going to see the prostitution ads by the furniture section.
Becky Worley No it has to say massage.
Molly Wood Right. I mean if you look at the adult section, they basically just all say massage. Yeah, and this is what they said before.
John C. Dvorak So we’re looking at it now. First go to erotic services, let’s see how…
Becky Worley Like it’s his first time.
John C. Dvorak I am to please baby, CALL ME 24 HOURS, you know this is like you know – hot Latin mammy, you will love me. 27. She is in San Jose. Unforgettable Asian massage service. She is in [indiscernible].
Leo Laporte Wait a minute, now this is turning TWiT into a whole new thing.
John C. Dvorak Sexy Latina playmate. Charming and classy Asian CMTS.
Molly Wood They cost money now.
Leo Laporte Oh they didn’t cost before, they were free before?
Molly Wood You needed to put in a credit card number I think, but you didn’t have to pay and now they cost $10 and you can re-post for $5. But doesn’t that just make it more likely that they will be commercially – that they will be commercial enterprise type links instead of just some person who’s looking for the – and then.
Becky Worley [Laughter] John, don’t read it out loud.
John C. Dvorak No it’s just this picture. It’s just hilarious. This is under MILF special.
Molly Wood Oh Lord.
Becky Worley Wow. I think this is just total – and I hate to use this phrase, but it’s so appropriate; lip service, to the Craigslist killer issue. This is just lip service to the Craigslist killer issue. They had to do something in response to the negative press that they got. 99% of the people who hear this story go, ah, thank God, Craigslist is doing something so something like this will never happen again.
Leo Laporte Yeah, yeah. And then they never think about it again…
Becky Worley Business as usual.
Leo Laporte …it’s done, business as usual.
Molly Wood Do you think – really? Like do you think anybody believes that Craigslist is actually making a fundamental change?
Becky Worley 99% of the people who heard this story have never been on Craigslist.
John C. Dvorak They will be shortly.
Molly Wood Oh, I don’t know about that. Everybody’s on Craigslist.
Leo Laporte Becky is saying what every mainstream media person knows.
John C. Dvorak Craigslist is still not fully mainstream.
Becky Worley Yeah.
Leo Laporte No, but Becky is saying what every mainstream media person knows, which is you print the story, people read it, they’re done.
Becky Worley ‘Oh. Thank God’
Leo Laporte And it’s over.
Molly Wood It’s over.
Leo Laporte And it’s the best way to handle it. So any company in this situation should do the same thing.
Molly Wood And then says it’s half baked.
Becky Worley Unless MSNBC is –
Molly Wood I am just wondering if that press is going away. I think people are, I think Craigslist does not have the benefit of the doubt of the media anymore. And it does seem to be ongoing that story.
Leo Laporte But they do have a peace sign favicon, so I’m in –
Molly Wood That’s so nice.
Leo Laporte That’s so nice.
John C. Dvorak So corny. Yeah, they are so totally, yeah, nice…
Leo Laporte You don’t have to feel for Craig though, that it was ‘oh this Craigslist murderer.’ That’s not good. It’s not – I mean it is not his fault.
Becky Worley But again it’s just the sensationalism to prove my point, which is it’s a new thing to most people…
John C. Dvorak That’s the media doing it’s job.
Becky Worley …ergo it’s Craigslist that’s the problem.
John C. Dvorak What do they mean when they say 200 roses? Does anybody know what that means?
Leo Laporte Is that a special code, 200 roses?
Becky Worley Look, I am just down with 420 for the first time, so just –
Leo Laporte You didn’t know about 420?
Becky Worley I am so square.
Molly Wood I can’t believe you just admitted that. You know that we are on the air right now right?
Becky Worley I am so square.
Molly Wood That’s adorable. You and I are going out. We have got things to talk about.
Becky Worley I need help. I stick exclusively with alcohol. It’s so great, why try anything else?
Molly Wood Oh, I agree. In fact I don’t drink at all.
Leo Laporte I kind of like this story from Danger Mouse, which is the guys who of course who are a part of Gnarls Barkley, which has been huge, very successful. But Danger Mouse is a mash up DJ who did get in a little bit of trouble. I thought it was brilliant. They did something called the Grey Album. They took the Beatles White Album and they mixed together the Black Album from, it was a rap artist, it escaped me a moment ago but it was –
Becky Worley Jay-Z right?
Leo Laporte Jay-Z, that’s right.
Becky Worley Ha! I knew that!
Leo Laporte And it was a great – you’re hip, you’re witty, you’re cool. Two points. And it was really great mix. I mean to hear the Beatles’ White Album with Jay-Z, I mean it really was great. This guy is brilliant, Danger Mouse.
Molly Wood It’s like bourbon and lemonade.
Leo Laporte It’s like bourbon and lemonade. It’s something that just goes together and you might not have expected it, but when they hit, they hit. By the way it is hitting right now. So, this is the new album, it’s Dark Night of The Soul. It’s an album length piece of music by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and a host of guest vocalists, David Lynch photography inspired by the music. So, you buy this, what are you going to get, a blank CDR, because they can’t publish it. Because for legal reasons the CDR contains no music, use it as you will, due to an ongoing dispute with EMI over the Grey Album, Danger Mouse is unable to release the recorded music for Dark Knight of The Soul without fear of being sued.
John C. Dvorak Can you play us a clip?
Leo Laporte I can’t, it’s blank.
Becky Worley Let me listen.
Leo Laporte So, I love it, what they say is download this and put it on the blank CDR, because we can’t publish it. I think that’s kind of cool.
Becky Worley So –
Molly Wood It’s kind of like Prince and the symbol.
Leo Laporte It’s a symbol.
Becky Worley So, the distinction being they can put it online available for download without the same legal implications or is this just…
Molly Wood Marketing.
Leo Laporte They sneakily put it online I guess. Could be marketing.
Molly Wood They are just saying like if anybody does get into trouble, it is going to be you not us, which frankly I think is kind of sucky. I don’t appreciate that. Don’t put the burden of breaking the law on me.
Leo Laporte Would you like to – would you like to hear a little bit of this?
John C. Dvorak Yeah, if you can bring it up.
Leo Laporte Wait a minute, let me find it.
John C. Dvorak So, did you talk last week about the Duke Nukem story?
Leo Laporte No I didn’t, that’s a story for this week. Let’s talk about it.
Molly Wood Duke Nukem ForNever
Leo Laporte Duke Nukem’s gone, remember Duke Nukem Forever was going to be for the last eight or nine years the next version of Duke Nukem.
John C. Dvorak They could have let this slide for another 10 years, I don’t understand why they had to shut it down.
Leo Laporte It was –
Molly Wood They were paying people though, work on it.
Leo Laporte What were, John, what were the classic vaporware products? Because there were few of these, right?
John C. Dvorak Oh there’s quite a few. That’s actually something worth revisiting. I think we got to do a little research. But there’s a lot of it. I can’t think of it off-hand.
Leo Laporte Off the top of my head – too much bourbon, but I think that –
Molly Wood What about that movie phone that –
Leo Laporte No there’s some classic software, Lotus – didn’t Lotus have something that it never came out. There are a quite a few of these programs that were promised, never released, classic vaporware. And I think Duke Nukem Forever, partly because it was named Forever…
John C. Dvorak Yeah, it’s taking forever.
Leo Laporte …is the classic. 9 or 10 years since they promised it. A couple of years ago they started releasing trailers again, it was like ‘oh it’s still alive!’ 3D Realms has finally said it’s gone.
But here’s the interesting conspiracy theory. Two sites have been registered, two domain names saveduke and savedukenukem, registered before the announcement. And all of a sudden these sites are starting to release artwork, video, collateral that was created before Duke Nukem Forever.
John C. Dvorak Oh so the whole thing could be a marketing ploy.
Molly Wood Well no the studio was like a sub-studio, right. It was 3D Realms and then there was a –
Leo Laporte Well there’s always these deals. You have 3D Realms makes it and then you have a deal with Take-Two to release it.
Molly Wood To distribute it and release it.
Leo Laporte Take-Two said ‘we didn’t have any deal to give them money, we just had the distribution rights. So it wasn’t our fault, it wasn’t something we had to deal with.’ 3D Realms basically said, ‘10 years, it’s time to pull the plug on this thing, we’re not going to get a product out.’ But I wonder –and it’s not, I can’t take credit for this, it’s…
Molly Wood Well, you know people inside probably knew. People inside 3D Realms knew this was coming and they probably were trying to prepare a little grassroots campaign…
John C. Dvorak Oh that’s a good counter-theory. I like it.
Molly Wood …for when it happened. So they’re like ‘okay well this is going to happen but maybe we can’ – everybody’s got that idea now like ‘if I just go to the internet, the internet will save me.’ So, they probably thought we’ll just get our grass roots movement going now.
Leo Laporte I’ve got two mommies here.
Becky Worley Mommy.
Molly Wood Mommy.
Leo Laporte Two mommies and a mother.
Molly Wood Did you see that cute baby out there?
Leo Laporte There was a cute baby? Oh Malachi was out there. Isn’t he the sweetest baby? He’s one year old.
Molly Wood He’s such a love.
Leo Laporte How old is Eli?
John C. Dvorak One and a half.
Molly Wood He’s like 18 months, yes.
Leo Laporte So they’re the same age.
Molly Wood No Eli is two years and two months.
Leo Laporte Two years old. So he’s walking, talking.
Molly Wood Oh he’s a crazy man.
Leo Laporte Smoking dope, he’s ready. He’s out there.
Molly Wood Oh for sure. He knows all about four twenties.
Becky Worley He is so much cooler than Aunt Becky.
Molly Wood I am a super good mom.
Leo Laporte Let me introduce to my 14-year old, you’ll be very –
Molly Wood Anyway, you were saying.
Leo Laporte So, Facebook for a long time has pulled pictures of lactating, breastfeeding mothers. I mean, these aren’t sexy pictures. These are pictures moms put up on their own Facebook page, here’s my baby, I am breastfeeding, isn’t that cute? And Facebook is pulling them.
Molly Wood For a while.
Leo Laporte I think – for a long time, for a couple of years now. I love – TechCrunch…
John C. Dvorak I think that’s …..
Leo Laporte …have finally sat down and said wait a minute, you’re pulling pictures of breastfeeding moms but you’re leaving sites up that say the holocaust didn’t happen?
Molly Wood Right.
Leo Laporte That Jews are evil? You’re leaving these hate sites up. Facebook says well, they are not hate sites, it’s – this is a political point of view. There’s no justification. There’s no…
Becky Worley Their own terms of service say no hate. So, I don’t get it. This is just so obvious about [indiscernible].
John C. Dvorak I think we should boycott Facebook.
Molly Wood My whole –
Leo Laporte Thank you, I’d be glad to.
Molly Wood Here comes the plug. My whole buzz report this week actually was about these companies who are just engaged in this bizarre-o hypocrisy around censorship, because it turns out censorship is kind of hard to pull off without looking like an A-hole.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Molly Wood Because you find yourself backed into these weird double standards all the time.
Leo Laporte It opens a can of worms.
Molly Wood And they basically have said ‘well okay, breast, naked breasts are obscene’, which – bite me, but okay. And also we have to respect free speech. So then pretty soon you have, right, like breastfeeding band and –
Leo Laporte You can’t have it both ways/
Molly Wood …pro-holocaust sites or anti-holocaust…
Leo Laporte You cannot have it both ways..
John C. Dvorak I wonder if they would allow breastfeeding Nazis.
Leo Laporte That’s okay.
John C. Dvorak Must be.
Leo Laporte As long as they don’t believe the holocaust happened.
Molly Wood As long as there are no pictures of nipple. Oh God, nipple!
John C. Dvorak Oh!
Molly Wood ‘It’s going to ruin America.’
Leo Laporte Is it nipple or areola that they are concerned about?
Molly Wood Hard to say.
John C. Dvorak It depends.
Molly Wood Well I guess – I mean if there was a – you could – okay, never mind.
Leo Laporte What is it they’re pulling – so if you’re –
Molly Wood I’m not getting into the logistics.
Leo Laporte If you’re breastfeeding and you’re fully locked on, it’s okay?
Molly Wood If you can see the nipple, that’s what they’ll pull.
Becky Worley Okay so I was doing a story about hot moms clubs and I found this site on Facebook.
Leo Laporte Oh dear.
Molly Wood Come on.
Leo Laporte That’s on Facebook?
Becky Worley Now – this is on Facebook.
John C. Dvorak That girl’s got a fake front end.
Becky Worley This is a hot mom club. And this site is not about breastfeeding.
Leo Laporte And that’s allowed. That’s obviously allowed.
Molly Wood There’s no nipple. That’s fine. That’s not ruining America because of the no nipple.
Becky Worley You know, but…
John C. Dvorak She’s got a nice smile, that girl.
Becky Worley It’s large – her smile!
Molly Wood It’s waxy.
Becky Worley You know – personally, if people – I don’t see the need to do the pictures on the breastfeeding. But that’s just me, so of course, whatever, like –
Leo Laporte Wait a minute though, this is – I think it’s – look, this is my private page, right? Only my friends see this page and I have a new baby and I want to share a picture, a great picture of me with the baby – you guys both have babies. I’m in love with my baby.
Molly Wood Plus people get very serious about breastfeeding.
Leo Laporte Well that’s part of it.
Becky Worley There could be actually a picture that’s like here’s how to latch, right, like here, I am – it could be a tutorial and Facebook would be like oh no.
John C. Dvorak I think the kids can figure that out.
Molly Wood You’d be surprised.
Leo Laporte Oh no. In fact you know who we called for advice when we were having latching issues? Mimi, your wife. And Mimi was very helpful. My wife called John’s wife.
Molly Wood That’s a little John Dvorak trivia right there.
Becky Worley Yeah.
Molly Wood Wife named Mimi.
Becky Worley Mimi.
Leo Laporte Oh was that a secret?
Molly Wood Didn’t know that.
John C. Dvorak No.
Becky Worley Not like – I thnk –
Leo Laporte Mimi is great by the way. John’s –
John C. Dvorak Her email address is a secret.
Leo Laporte John’s wife is fantastic and she had – she was great. Jennifer talked to her for a long time. She said eventually, you’ll be able to walk on concrete with your nipples.
John C. Dvorak And my wife does that is another thing. Damndest thing you’ll ever see.
Leo Laporte It won’t hurt at all.
Molly Wood It’ll be okay.
Leo Laporte No, she was really –
Molly Wood Dodge two on them.
Leo Laporte It’s a whole other thing.
Molly Wood Bring it.
Leo Laporte Now Facebook would ban this show.
Molly Wood They would.
Becky Worley Yeah.
Molly Wood The whole conversation. But if I said the holocaust never happened and all Jews deserve to die, then that would be okay on Facebook.
Becky Worley But that’s on your –
Leo Laporte Did you see some of – and this is a Facebook fan page, this is a public page [referring to the ‘Hot Mom page], as opposed to a private page of my friends saying – and my family saying, look here’s my beautiful baby. I think this is appalling, I think Facebook has really overstepped.
John C. Dvorak But who is responsible?
Molly Wood So then here’s the question, right, because censorship is extremely tricky and you will find yourself in these scenarios, because it’s a really hard line to walk. So should Facebook go all the way censoring or should they not at all?
Because then they become MySpace and they’re totally terrible and one of the things people like about Facebook is it’s a nicer neighborhood than MySpace.
Leo Laporte Don’t they face a larger legal issue where you’re deciding whether you are a carrier or publisher?
John C. Dvorak I think there’s that, but the other thing is I think they should just back off. I mean, what is the point in the nipple – the controversy.
Becky Worley I agree.
Molly Wood Yeah. It has been years now, it’s two years in the coming the nipple thing but they still keep saying like no, no, no.
Leo Laporte It’s ridiculous.
John C. Dvorak But I’d like to know whose specifically is responsible, because there is a person –
Leo Laporte No there’s a team. In fact they’ve seen – we’ve seen this – pictures of this team. They are – I don’t know, it’s a large number of employees whose sole responsibility is combing through this material on Facebook and deciding what not to put there. Now a lot of these stuff on Facebook is drunk teenagers and frankly, as a parent of a teenager I think it’s not a bad idea for Facebook to say well we don’t want this stuff here. This is stuff that your employers might see. But – although I think again it’s private, it’s on your private page. But I can understand when they want to prevent that.
Molly Wood I think it’s the groups that are not appropriate.
Becky Worley Let’s take the whole Malcolm Gladwell approach and just say, if you had to look at the page for 10 seconds, wouldn’t you know that what was really bad and what was really good and what was…
Leo Laporte Yes, yes.
Becky Worley …marginal and you don’t want to make a [indiscernible].
Leo Laporte It’s not that hard.
Molly Wood But you know what, that’s the thing, right. Facebook – okay, for one thing the internet is global, Facebook is available all over the world and the blink approach to obscenity is very different in very different countries. I mean I think it becomes – I think the lesson is that censorship is way harder than you would think.
John C. Dvorak Yeah a Frenchman wouldn’t think the same way as a Southern Baptist.
Molly Wood Well – but, right. In France or in Germany there’s a distinctly different response to a nipple and to a holocaust.
Becky Worley But look, I work for a big company that has to make these decisions everyday about what’s appropriate for the bell curve, what’s appropriate. And that’s what you’re being paid for.
Molly Wood And they are not stupid as Facebook.
Becky Worley And you have to make some tough calls and you have to have a pair of stones and sometimes do it. Just make the right calls and then let the grey area stuff live in the grey area.
Leo Laporte So are we in agreement that they made the wrong call?
John C. Dvorak Yeah.
Molly Wood Yes.
Becky Worley Leave the breastfeeders alone and get rid of the Nazis.
John C. Dvorak I get this sense that this is some level of immaturity. I mean I am almost getting the sense this is like a 14-year old making a decision – ‘I don’t know that Jewish thing is – the whole lot of story is not in yet. Oh god no, there’s a breast! Oh! Oh! Oh!’
Molly Wood It’s that they’re making a decision for the –
John C. Dvorak While digging in their nose, by the way.
Molly Wood It’s that they are making the decisions for the 14-year old. Like the whole thing about the internet now is that child porn is the terror. That’s the things that is so scary. So, anything that might appear porny to a child has to go.
Becky Worley Can I bring up this whole cyber security, you put it in the links. I thought it was interesting that sexting, all of the initiatives that have been started about…
John C. Dvorak Oh the sexting thing is really going to get interesting.
Becky Worley ….cyber security. And I think that the point here, aside from getting into the obvious stuff about sexting.
Leo Laporte Let’s just say what the story is. So, there are two bills in front of the House of Representatives right now. One is against cyberbullying; it’s the Megan Meier Act that’s inspired by the fact that this teenage girl was kind of coerced into killing herself by an adult that lived next door. Cyberbullying, no question about it.
And the second bill, which has just recently been announced, which is more let’s support, let’s fund education about sexting So, it’s kind of a namby-pamby bill.
Becky Worley Right.
Leo Laporte So there are two bills. I mean one clearly is misguided. The idea of having something special about cyberbullying, it’s a very nebulous thing. I don’t want to shut you guys down, if you have a different opinion please tell me. But I’m of the opinion this is bogus, there’s no reason Congress should be legislating somehow against bullying that is online is different from bullying in public.
Becky Worley I think you need to step up to the 10,000 foot view and just see what it’s like for parents today. If you go online and search – I was researching a story about four months ago, before the text sexting story really hit, and you searched cyber security for parents, the rules that were out there, everywhere I looked, were from the days when we all had AOL accounts. It was so inappropriate. It was all about stranger danger…
Leo Laporte What a surprise!
Becky Worley …it had nothing to do with social networking…
Leo Laporte What a surprise! Yes, of course!
Becky Worley …with texting. It was totally network teens. And so I think what you have to recognize from the 10,000 foot view is that parents are having a major paradigm shift about what’s at stake online …
Leo Laporte And they have no idea what’s going on.
Becky Worley It’s not stranger danger.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Becky Worley That is a minimal concern and your kids know about that way more than you do. They know a Nigerian scam from any other solicitation.
Leo Laporte I never worry about my kids. Never worried about my kids.
Becky Worley It’s not stranger danger.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Becky Worley The issue at hand is all about the people you know and how the medium makes meanness so exaggerated and makes sexuality so exaggerated and so we are in a hypersexualized environment and the medium only exacerbates that. So, I think what you have to recognize is all these little attempts to legislate things are really just stabs as parents try and grasp the change. And so I try not to get too mired down in the little stuff and just recognize parents are…
Leo Laporte I think you are right.
Becky Worley …thinking in mind.
Leo Laporte I think you are right. But should Congress be involved in this?
Molly Wood Congress can’t stop itself really from taking out its tiny little knives every time they find out about something…
Leo Laporte It’s good for votes.
Molly Wood I mean it’s literally like…
Leo Laporte It’s good for votes.
Molly Wood …they find about it. They do something that sounds brilliant.
Becky Worley Legislating stupidity.
John C. Dvorak No, that’s – Leo is right. This is just showboating.
Leo Laporte Pandering. It’s pandering.
Molly Wood It’s. It’s all pandering.
John C. Dvorak And they are writing, they are essentially writing dead letter laws.
Leo Laporte They know they can’t.
Molly Wood And they know it.
John C. Dvorak These laws are going to be just – it’s the same like the laws against kissing a donkey in Omaha.
Molly Wood Yes.
John C. Dvorak I mean there are laws in the books that are crazy and they have never been taken off the books and they – it’s still illegal to kiss a donkey.
Molly Wood Vesitigial appendages.
Leo Laporte One last story and then we are going to go home, ladies and gentlemen.
John C. Dvorak No, you’ve got – no, one last story and then we talk about Twitter.
Becky Worley Wow! The tables have turned.
Leo Laporte This is –
John C. Dvorak That’s what he said.
Leo Laporte This is actually a wonderful story, it’s a victory story. How many of you have received calls saying your warranty is about to expire?
John C. Dvorak I always ask for the supervisor.
Molly Wood All the time!
Leo Laporte I did the same thing. I said, “please put me on your Do Not Call List.” That did not stop them, partly because it’s coming from a bunch – now, Becky – bunch of different people – you do this for ABC? You are the consumer reporter. Have you been covering this story?
Becky Worley I have just been looking into it recently because the calls have just gotten so, so intense every week.
Leo Laporte I get four or five a week now.
Molly Wood Oh, yes. Non-stop.
Becky Worley Are they coming from Canada. What are these area codes?
Leo Laporte I don’t know.
John C. Dvorak The area code’s are probably spoofed.
Molly Wood Probably.
Becky Worley Yes.
Molly Wood And they’re weird.
Leo Laporte And then the robo calls.
Molly Wood Right.
Leo Laporte They are not humans. They say your warranty is about to expire.
Becky Worley Warning.
Leo Laporte Warning.
Becky Worley This is the second call…
Leo Laporte Yes! It’s always the second call.
Becky Worley The factory warranty on your vehicle...
Molly Wood It is always the second call.
Becky Worley …is about to expire.
Molly Wood Or we have made multiple attempts to reach you.
Becky Worley Right. And my understanding is that the idea that you sign up for these aftermarket…
Leo Laporte No, no.
Becky Worley …warranties.
Leo Laporte It has nothing to do with anything. Has nothing to do with anything.
Molly Wood It’s just to harvest credit card numbers apparently.
Leo Laporte There is no warranty involved. People get this even if they don’t even have a car.
Molly Wood Yes.
Leo Laporte This is merely to get your credit card number. Now, some of them maybe legit but –
John C. Dvorak No.
Leo Laporte But I don’t think – most of them are not. It’s merely to get your credit card number. You will be charged. You will not receive anything. It’s a rip-off.
Molly Wood Apparently the seller has taken in more than $10 million as a result of the calls.
Becky Worley Wow.
Molly Wood 10 million.
Laporte So, here’s Dane’s call list. Dane just brought his phone into me. This is his call list. Are these all?
Dane Golden All from the same.
Leo Laporte He has been saving these.
Molly Wood You’re kidding me.
Leo Laporte 818416. That’s Toronto. 810 800 815 262 708 801. You have been saving these. Good for you. He has been save – this is dozens.
Molly Wood You should send those to Congress.
Leo Laporte Well – good news. Here’s the good news. The FTC filed complaints on Thursday against two companies, I am sure there is more, but two companies, engaged in this. Of course, it didn’t – nobody did anything until somebody called Charles Schumer.
Becky Worley Right. I love Chuck Schumer.
Molly Wood He had a holy fit. He is awesome.
Leo Laporte He was on Capitol Hill when they called his cell phone.
John C. Dvorak Doesn’t anybody but me find it disgusting that these guys unless it actually affects them directly…
Leo Laporte I am shocked! Shocked! To learn…
John C. Dvorak …that they don’t do anything?
Molly Wood I am sure some member of Congress had a sexting (sic) incident too. I mean this is all about literally what comes into their consciousness at any given moment…
Leo Laporte Yeah. I…
Becky Worley How do you think stories get on TV?
John C. Dvorak Why don’t we just take – and if there was no Congress, we’d be just as well off.
Leo Laporte Well, it’s true.
John C. Dvorak Just let the President do everything.
Leo Laporte Here’s why it’s an issue.
Molly Wood Chuck’s getting her done.
Leo Laporte Here’s why it’s an issue – because these guys are so out of touch. So, they are finally learning about stuff years after their constituency has been bitching and moaning about it.
Becky Worley Why hasn’t the FTC done anything?
Leo Laporte Well they are now.
Becky Worley Why isn’t any of the people who enforced the Do Not Call Registry done anything?
Leo Laporte That’s a good point because aren’t you legally if you say please put – I tried it, please place me on your Do Not Call List. The guy said, “Oh, yes, sir, fine.” And I immediately got another call the next day.
Becky Worley I think that they actually – some of these guys do actually provide these weak warranties that don’t work but they provide you paperwork so that…
John C. Dvorak No, no, we don’t know this. You are guessing.
Becky Worley No, I read one article from the New York Times which said…
John C. Dvorak Oh, the New York Times, I am sorry.
Becky Worley Oh, I love it when John calls into question the New York Times.
Leo Laporte Yes.
Molly Wood Wow, talk about a conspiracy theorist.
Leo Laporte FTC says as many as 1.8 million calls a day. They dial every number in a given area code which is why you are getting it on your cell phone. You know, normally, your cell phone is not listed and does not get marketing calls but they are just random calling, it has nothing to do with the fact that you have a car or not, let alone a warranty including many numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Once on the line, recipients were misled into believing they were extending their original vehicle warranty. The seller took more than $10 million as a result of these calls.
John C. Dvorak Oh, man, these guys have got a great scam.
Molly Wood Yes, this is a drop in the bucket too because it’s car warranties now and it will be something else tomorrow. It’ll be home insurance warranties because these are companies but anybody can robo-dial, right?
Leo Laporte It’s coming from 416 – that’s Toronto.
Molly Wood Yes.
Leo Laporte What do I do? Am I supposed to pursue them in Canada now? I mean it’s very difficult to pursue these guys internationally. Anyway, thank goodness, they are finally filing a complaint against two companies but I think you’re right – I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this by any means.
Becky Worley It’s so annoying.
Leo Laporte So, I proclaim victory but only a temporary victory.
John C. Dvorak There is no victory involved.
Leo Laporte There is no victory.
John C. Dvorak I think we should just disconnect all phones.
Leo Laporte I think we should just have more bourbon and lemonade and say, the hell with it. Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. Another TWiT is in the can. All right, now that we have got rid of Dvorak and Worley and Wood, I want to give you the full interview that we had with Stephen Wolfram. This interview was conducted on Saturday, May 16. It was right in the middle of the launch of Wolfram Alpha. We are very grateful to Stephen for giving us half an hour to talk to him. I think a fascinating interview but I’ll let you be the judge of that. So, we are just going to stick this at the end. If you are not interested in Stephen Wolfram and the story behind Wolfram Alpha, just you can stop your player now, otherwise here’s a little extra. It’s about a half-an-hour interview with Stephen Wolfram.
Hello, this is Leo.
Stephen Wolfram Hi, Stephen Wolfram here.
Leo Laporte Stephen, thank you so much for taking some time to talk to us – I’m sure this is a crazy day for you.
Stephen Wolfram A little bit. Yes.
Leo Laporte A celebratory day as well?
Stephen Wolfram Oh, it’s always exciting to see a new project launched out into the wild, yes but – and many things have gone very well.
Leo Laporte How long have you been working on Wolfram Alpha?
Stephen Wolfram Well, let’s see – I mean it’s a foundations I have sort of been laying for maybe 23 years or so but the actual final project is for the last four or five years.
Leo Laporte That’s a long time, and most of that in stealth mode. I mean this – the first we heard about it was just a few months ago.
Stephen Wolfram Yes, yes indeed. I wasn’t sure it was going to work until quite recently. So, I wasn’t going to start talking about it until I was really sure this was actually something that wasn’t completely crazy. I have been thinking about this for a long time and had been concluding several times that no, it’s too early, it’s the wrong decade to try and do this project. And I finally four or five years ago I thought okay, I am finally to the point where this project is not completely crazy to try doing, and then for a while there kept on being these issues that were like there’s this particular problem and there’s not going to be any way to solve this problem and then we finally found some way to solve it. And it is only probably in the last year or so that I have become convinced that yes, it is actually possible to sort of take a reasonable shot at sort of making all the world’s knowledge computable.
And that’s – so, I wasn’t about to tell people about it at the point where it was still appeared to be sort of completely crazy.
Leo Laporte What happened that made it possible? Was it the computational power? Was it the internet? I mean what is it that – what hit critical mass?
Stephen Wolfram Well, it’s only – there’s several things. The computational power is one thing. I mean you have to be able to sort of in web-type times, actually sort of do interesting computations and get back the result.
Another thing was sort of that there is the web and that there’s a way to deliver something like there’s two people with sort of a medium for doing that. Another is that sort of it becomes more obvious kind of just how much information there is in the world and what kind of thing it is like by just sort of looking around the web. I mean that ends up not seeing indicates what we do that – the raw web is not the primary sort of source of information and data that we have but it tells one a lot about sort of what is out there, what kinds of things are sort of available.
But for me the – actually the biggest things – there were two really big things which happened to be sort of my other two big life projects. One of them is Mathematica, the other one is my new kind of science. You know Mathematica is this you know broad language that gets used by lots of the world’s leading R&D folk and so on and lots of others. It’s this language that’s been developing for the last 23 years as sort of – as a channel symbolic language that let’s one represent all kinds of knowledge and sort of implement – sort of it – it contains sort of a huge collection of the world’s possible algorithms and that’s kind of the – that was kind of the layer that had to exist in order to make Wolfram Alpha possible. I mean without that layer you know if I’d been kind of trying to write it in some low level language or something like that.
It just – it would have been a completely inconceivable project and the other big thing was my work in science where both the – some content of sort of understanding the world in computational terms – but probably more important was the fact that I sort of discovered from studying kind of first things out in the computational universe and so on. I just discovered the sort of paradigmatic fact that even though there may be a great deal of sort of richness and complexity in the phenomena you see there can be sort of simple programs, simple frameworks that lie underneath those phenomena and that – that sort of realization is what brought me to the idea that okay, even though there is a huge amount of different kinds of knowledge and so on in the world, it’s conceivable that there are sort of frameworks underneath it that are simple enough that it’s conceivable and so that with finite resources to actually build something that – that sort of captures a decent – decent part of what might be computable about the world. I think actually over time I am probably going to understand that – I kind of have this meta-theory about people which is that people – people have at most one big idea so to speak and I’ve, you know Wolfram|Alpha is sort of my third big project and I kind of think there are more connections even than I yet realize between these projects because as I say – you know people have at most one big idea so – so for me all these three projects have to be – have to be the same idea on some level.
Leo Laporte In some way yes, well but what – it strikes me that looking at your history, at your biography that what has been key to this is your interdisciplinary approach. You started with physics, realized that computation was important, combined the two knowledge – the two knowledge bases together and you’ve produced Mathematica and as a result I think maybe you could say it’s all one idea but you’ve had to take these different approaches into it that…
Stephen Wolfram Yeah.
Leo Laporte …maybe you hadn’t synthesized before.
Stephen Wolfram Right, right – no it’s certainly true that – I mean one of the things that has made Wolfram Alpha sort of both possible and fun for me in a sense is that you know I happened to have worked on lots of different areas of – you know science and analysis of things and all sorts of other kinds of things and so kind of this idea of sort of collect the world’s computable knowledge and kind of – sort of put it together into something, that becomes the – I kind had some perspective on sort of what’s out there…
Leo Laporte Yes.
Stephen Wolfram …the fact that I have ended up for quite fortuitous reasons sometimes working in lots of different areas.
Leo Laporte You have said that – one of the most important things that came out of this computational approach to science is this notion of exploring the universe of possible programs.
Stephen Wolfram Yes.
Leo Laporte Can you – can you explain what that means?
Stephen Wolfram Yes, so I mean – what we’re used to – when we like create software or something is we say okay we want to achieve some peculiar objective with the software we write – you know let’s sit down as software engineers and kind of start…
Leo Laporte It’s purpose built.
Stephen Wolfram Yes right ,right. And I mean what I kind of got – got into realizing that it was – worth – worth doing is two to – sorry I have to…
Leo Laporte I hear Windows complaining – I’ll let you…
Stephen Wolfram Yes, yes, right now I – I just…
Leo Laporte It’s good to know that even a brilliant person like you can have trouble with Windows.
Stephen Wolfram Yes, yes – some, the misbehaving computers – that’s a…
Leo Laporte Can you fix that first, Stephen, and then we can worry about solving the problems of the world? Just get the computers working.
Stephen Wolfram This – so – so I mean but back to sort of the computational units…
Leo Laporte Yes.
Stephen Wolfram That’s a – so the typical program we build is something we specifically engineer for a particular purpose.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram So one question is if you think about all possible programs – just from programs that are just the shortest programs you just write down as – you know sort of a one line of code or it’s something you represent by just saying a typical kind of thing – I looked at were these things called cellular autometer where you just have a line of black and white cells…
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram You just a have a rule that says you know – a particular cell will be a color that’s determined by the configuration of cells on the line above it and so on.
Leo Laporte Right. Conway’s Game of Life, for instance.
Stephen Wolfram Yes that’s – that’s an example, that’s the – actually a bit more complicated in a lot of the things that I looked at. But one of the things that is interesting about programs that are that simple is that you can say, let me look at four possible programs of a particular kind and so then there’s the question what do all possible programs do – you know are they all – are most of them just completely stupid, uninteresting, or do some of them behave in really interesting ways. And there’s sort of big thing that I discovered now – I don’t know, 25 years ago or something now is a little bit more actually is that the – if you at look at sort of all possible programs, yes there are ones that are really uninteresting like – you know, start off with one black cell at the top and it just keeps on going – you know all the way down the page and nothing changes.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram But then you know a decent fraction of the time, some decent percentage of the time, what you get is some incredibility elaborate pattern. And so what’s interesting about that? Well, the first thing that I got really interested in was the elaborate patterns that you get look an awful lot like elaborate patterns that you see in nature. And so it’s kind of like we know that nature kind of has this secret that lets it make all this complicated stuff that we don’t seem to be able to emulate when we sort of do things with engineering.
But what this is kind of suggesting is that if nature is just sort of sampling the computational universe kind of arbitrarily, it’s easily going to run into these kind of programs that have this property, that even though you may start them off in a simple way and the programs may be very simple, the patterns the patterns they produce are really complicated.
Leo Laporte Now you have got to natural selection.
Stephen Wolfram Well, kind of. Actually we sort of see a different twist on natural selection because one of the things natural selection suggest is when we see all the complexity of organisms that exist today maybe what we are really seeing is kind of a frozen version of giant history book. We are seeing all the details of the organisms that exist today were the result of this thing that happened, you know, sometime in the cretaceous period.
This other thing that happened, and so on, and so on, and so on. All these kind of seemingly arbitrary kind of choice. It seems like we are kind of freezing a lot of work that was done making all these arbitrary choices, that’s kind of the typical view of natural selection. There’s an alternative view which says maybe a lot of complexity that we see in today’s organisms doesn’t come from that kind of frozen historical accident at all. Instead maybe what it comes from is just this fundamental fact about the ways that things get generated, that says that even many simple programs produce really complicated behavior. And the point being that if natural systems actually pick – happen to pick programs that have this feature that they produce complicated behavior, you will see really complicated behavior in the organisms, even though there was no sort of detailed historical accident or detailed kind of molding by the environment that went on.
One of the things that I have noticed is that if you look at different kinds of organisms, there’s the question of do you get, if you sample, I don’t know, one of my favorite examples is the mollusk shells of the world. Right, you look at the patterns on the mollusk shells of the world, and some of them are very simple, you know, you could imagine that they were produced by a simple program, just little stripes or spots or something, and then there are these really elaborate ones.
Another example would be dinosaurs, you know you have a lot of simple shapes and then you have the stegosaurus and so on. And the question is; did the stegosaurus, or did the complicated mollusk pattern get sort of molded by some elaborate series of events in the history of natural selection or is it just that out of the space of possible programs for making these organisms it just so happens that there are a few that sort of spontaneously produce this kind of complexity. I kind of suspect that it’s much more on the side of there just happen to be programs that produce this great complexity rather than that it’s sort of carefully molded by natural selection.
Leo Laporte How is it different from an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite numbers of typewriters? I mean – are you – are we able to express all the possibilities, all the possible computational programs?
Stephen Wolfram Yes I mean – you know this is the interesting thing that if you start from the very simplest ones, you can basically just go through. There’s – you know, I’ve, with cellular automata, I kind of numbered them from – there is a big block from 0 to 255 then there’s a bunch of other ones, and you know everyone of these kind of numbered programs – you just can go through an enumerate possible programs. And so for example you could ask the question or you can do this kind of enumeration for lots of kinds of things. I don’t know, you can enumerate possible axiom systems in mathematics. You could enumerate possible laws of physics. You could do all kinds of enumeration. The reason people generally hadn’t thought that that was worth doing is because when you do an enumeration, you might, with a computer, you might be able to study the first billion or the first trillion or something, but unless something interesting happens in the really small, really simple ones, you’re not – it’s probably not worthwhile to do this enumeration.
So, kind of one of the big discoveries of my science adventure has been that even among the really simply ones that you sort of get to quickly in one of these enumerations, there is a lot of rich, interesting stuff that may be just – that might be like what we see in nature and so on.
So, one of the consequences of this for technology is that means, that you can sort of find technology by just sort of enumerating possible programs and so on. I mean the analogy I like to use is there’s this computational universe out there of possible programs, possible algorithms and so on. And it’s kind of like when we go out into the material world and we are interested in finding – we look at different materials. We discover – magnetite, we discover liquid crystals, we discover I don’t know some type of resin or something. And at first, it just seems like, well this is a fun thing, you know it has some weird property and then later we realize, no actually there is a human purpose, there is a technological purpose for which this is really important. So then, you know, we go and, you know, pick up all the gallium in the world or something and we discover that it’s useful for, you know, some kind of display or something like that.
And so similarly in the computational universe we’ve got all these possible simple programs out there and sort of one of the questions is, so given one of these simple programs which has some very elaborate behavior perhaps – you know, is it useful for something? And that’s where we kind of go out and, in fact in the development of Mathematica and then the development of Wolfram|Alpha, this is a pretty common thing that we do, sometimes call it algorithm discovery. You just go out into the computational universe and you go searching through lots and lots of different possible algorithms, to find one that satisfies some particular objective that you’re trying to reach.
Leo Laporte So through human history, it’s really been serendipity, you’re saying you can do this in an intentional way?
Stephen Wolfram Yes, that’s right, I mean, so you might say, I mean, it’s always interesting to look at things that have emerged in human history in different areas and say why this one and not another one?
Leo Laporte Yes.
Stephen Wolfram Like for example, in chemistry, there are particular chemicals people have studied, in mathematics there are particular underlying axiom systems that people have studied; what’s special about these things? Are they special because they have some particular property or are they simply special because of the, sort of, the course of history? Actually one of the things I find most sort of ironic is – you were asking about – talking about natural selection earlier.
Leo Laporte Yes.
Stephen Wolfram People think of biology as the very accidental science. The one where what we have today is a result of a whole series of accidents.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram But they think of mathematics, for example, as the exact opposite. As a very non-accidental, completely sort of determined by higher principles kind of science.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram I actually think it’s the opposite way round.
Leo Laporte How interesting? So our understanding of the physical laws, of the mathematical theora really is – this is just what happened to happen.
Stephen Wolfram I think so. But I mean for example, in mathematics, you can just say, mathematics gets based on these axiom systems from people like Euclid and so on, on.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram And the question is, why do – the particular axiom systems which are the basis of our arithmetic or our logic or something like that, why did we look at these axiom systems and not other ones? And you know, we gave them names like arithmetic or logic or whatever else, and I thinks it’s basically purely Historical, in other words, I think that there are zillions of other axiom systems out there that we could have studied but the Babylonians happened to start studying arithmetic and geometry.
Leo Laporte Right. So Wolfram|Alpha is then an engine to kind of start making these connections in a different way to maybe open us up to different ways of looking at things.
Stephen Wolfram Well, I think that in a sense I view Wolfram|Alpha as being –
Leo Laporte Or is it just a historical engine?
Stephen Wolfram Well, okay, so I think it sort of at some level I view it almost at this – at the stage that’s today, which sort of I view as its beginning stage as being almost a prosaic kind of application of these types of ideas. I mean, I view the – I kind of think about it like when one discovered universal computing in 1936 or whatever, what were the – one might have imagined that there would be all sorts of very sort of high-minded consequences for mathematics, for artificial intelligence, whatever else, but in actuality, the first applications of – the idea of universal computing with things like databases and later word processors, and so on.
Until – similarly, now I view Wolfram|Alpha as being sort of an application of the paradigm of this kind of science, that you can make a lot from fairly small principles but I think there’s a lot more that one can do in the future. And, I mean, right now, Wolfram|Alpha is mostly making use of kind of old kind of science facts, it’s making use of the models and methods and so on, that have been developed in science and physics and financial analysis and lots of other areas over the course of a few – of the last few hundred years. What this kind of – what the ultimate sort of direction that one can go in is not just to say, here’s a question we have to ask which can answered by existing science and now Wolfram|Alpha can actually answer it quickly for you on the web type thing, but say here is a question that I have for which I have to sort of invent a new model, something that science has never produced for us, to go out and discover sort of a new algorithm. Now can we do this thing of going out and sort of, going and sampling this – mining the computational Universe to find something to sort of invent on the fly.
Leo Laporte Wow.
Stephen Wolfram Something that’s never been created before, that’s a future direction for Wolfram|Alpha. One of the challenges, one of the things I don’t yet know is are computers of today fast enough to make that particular direction – how far can we go in that direction in the next year or two years or something like that, and to what extent do we have to wait for the next wave of speed of computers to be really be able to do exciting things with that.
Leo Laporte This isn’t artificial intelligence though.
Stephen Wolfram No, it’s – well, it’s – I don’t know what you – it depends what you mean by that. I mean, the tradition of artificial intelligence has tended to be, let’s see what humans do and let’s make it bigger, faster, stronger.
Leo Laporte Let’s duplicate it, yeah.
Stephen Wolfram And what Wolfram|Alpha has done, so typically what that turns into is to say, let’s take processes of human reasoning and things like that and let’s see whether we can sort of automate those processes and so on. And so, like when you’re solving a physics problem you can say, what happens in the physics situation? Well let me reason through it, let me say, this pushes that and that pushes this, and so on and so on and so on, that’s what people used to do in the Middle Ages for example.
Leo Laporte Right, right.
Stephen Wolfram That was the mode of doing natural philosophy, is people would debate it and have sort of arguments about it and so on. And then what happened in science was, along came Newton and his friends and they said no, you can forget about all this human reasoning stuff for figuring out physics; let’s just blast our way through it using mathematical principles, and just get to the answer.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram And in a sense Wolfram|Alpha is sort of continuing that tradition of let’s just use mathematical computational algorithmic method to just sort of blast through to the answer. And so what we’re doing is essential a very non-human approach to blasting through to the answering of questions, we’re not doing something that’s – if you think of other kinds of technological things like, I don’t know, flying or something, you can fly like a bird or you can fly like an aeroplane. And aeroplanes have fairly little relation in detail to the operation of birds. And we’re taking more of the aeroplane sort of let’s just blast through to the result kind of approach, which is sort of a different branch from the kind of traditional thinking about artificial intelligence.
Leo Laporte Walk me through the process of – I’ll enter a query into Wolfram|Alpha, what happens then?
Stephen Wolfram Okay, so the first thing is we have to figure out what you’re talking about, so there’s sort of a linguistic analysis phase. So maybe there are words that you use and those words may be very ambiguous. So we have to have known, we have to sort of an a priori probability distribution for, given that we know where you’re from GOIP data, if you’re asking about a city, we can say there’s a certain weighting based on how far the city is from where you are, what the population of the city is, what’s the kind of “fame index”, as we call it for the city based on sort of crawls of the web that we’ve done and so on is. That sort of tells us what’s that entity that you’re talking about. Then there is sort of the question of trying to understand this kind of often very shortened, in fact it’s sometimes for us when it’s a very shortened input, that doesn’t have too many extra irrevalent words in it, we just want – just ask us the concept so to speak.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram And then the – the first problem is to sort of figure out what the input was, what is this – let’s do the analysis of the input. Then we turn that input into a sort of precise symbolic representation, where every kind of relation, every aspect of the computation is represented in a precise way. Then what we do is, is basically say, okay, this is a precise representation of what a person was talking about, now we have these things, we call them internally scanners, which are just these different sort of types of computations that can be run on different input.
Leo Laporte Wow.
Stephen Wolfram And that sort of precise representation of the input. And then you will get a bunch of results in what we call pods and those different pods will be the results from these different scanners and so on and they represent – and what’s happening there is we’re taking – well, as a practical matter a request comes in and it immediately gets parallelized across a bunch of different machines and these different pods are being returned by different machines. Of course, if you ask about it, today there’s a load balancing issue to do with all our multiple compute clusters and so on, that messing up some queries that have certain kinds of parallelizations. We just figured out, just before this call, I figured out – well, my team figured out basically how to fix this, so this will be fixed before our official launch here.
Leo Laporte Wow.
Stephen Wolfram But ignoring that little micro footnote, the basic idea is you’re kind of parallelizing the question and then you’re – okay, so then what has to happen is these computations get done, how do the computations get – well, I should say, the output from all these computations is a presentation. And so then sort of there’s the question of, given all these Computations that got done, how do we prioritize which things are important about the answers that are given and how do we then present those answers? And we have all sorts of algorithms and heuristics for deciding what are the right visual representations, what are the right tabular forms, what are the important pieces, what are the less important pieces? To try and get people sort of a good quick cognitive sense of what the important result is.
Leo Laporte That’s a huge amount of computation.
Stephen Wolfram And then another part of this is when the computations are getting done inside, there’s sort of two big pieces to that. One is what to compute and the other is sort of where to get the data from to sort of ground that computation? And so one big thing that we’ve done a lot of is data curation. We kind of take all these different sources of data and try and sort of combine them and correlate them and validate them and sort off put them through this largely automated pipeline. But it doesn’t completely automate it, it has sort of human domain experts also kind of in the loop trying to make sure that the data that we get in all these different domains is actually as good as it can be and consistent and so on.
So we have this sort of a – big amounts of data that are both static or kind of real time feeds and so on, of data. Then we have to combine that with the computations that you can do. And essentially these computations are kind of the fruits of the achievements of science and all these other areas of systematic knowledge that kind of, the – we’re kind of trying to encapsulate in what’s ultimately mathematical programs inside, sort of all of these different things that we’ve learnt how to compute in science and engineering and another areas. So I mean, inside Wolfram|Alpha, what is it? It’s 5 million lines of Mathematica code…
Leo Laporte It’s amazing.
Stephen Wolfram …and God knows how many terabytes of data and all kinds of real time feeds and these types of things. So that’s…
Leo Laporte Do you have a proprietary database? How is it structured?
Stephen Wolfram So I mean the kind of – the symbolic representations inside is – that’s all Mathematica code. And so it’s using Mathematica’s handling of data and so on.
Leo Laporte Right.
Stephen Wolfram At the underlying level we have some sort of traditional database, we’ve got lot mycical databases and a bunch of other kinds of things. But they’re sort of the – that’s the underpinning of what we’re doing and then sort of above that is, well we use this Mathematica database link and then build up from that.
Leo Laporte Have you in your own use of it seen any results that surprised you, any insights?
Stephen Wolfram Oh, hell yes. I mean all the time, I mean it’s, gosh I mean, basically every domain we put in and I’m trying to figure out how it should all work and so on and so on. I’ll be typing stuff in and I will always be surprised – and one particular area that’s just fun, is looking at people’s names. Like first name and so on. I had no idea how much structure was in the popularity of a name as a function of time.
Here’s a fun thing that I just was really surprised by. Given you can know like from birth record, you can know how many people named I don’t know, Stephen or something, were born in each year for the last 100 years or so. But then you can use kind of mortality data to figure out, so just how many will be surviving at this time and so on. And from that you can get kind of a distribution of what the expected ages of people will be. And it’s really bizarre because an awful lot of people, particularly with slightly unusual names, you can basically predict from their name roughly how old they are.
Leo Laporte Wow.
Stephen Wolfram That really surprised me. I was not expecting that. I just didn’t realize that was that that kind of quantitative-ness in that area. But that’s just one tiny example. I mean I‘m continually surprised by – I’ve just never seen a lot of this. I would – I’m sure at some level the data exists, because after all we’re getting it from somewhere. But the issue is to what extent can we get – when you actually see it presented in kind of a clear graphical or whatever way, I’m often really struck by sort of – you see a lot of things that you just would never have – have never noticed any other way.
Leo Laporte That must be gratifying, I mean in a way that proves that this is meaningful.
Stephen Wolfram I think so, to me at least. I mean I certainly use it all the time.
Leo Laporte Yeah. How – one problem of course is that people are going to say, well it’s google. I mean it’s not; it’s not a search engine.
Stephen Wolfram No, no. I mean it’s a really different idea I mean, you know…
Leo Laporte And then it’s never existed before so it’s difficult to explain to people.
Stephen Wolfram Right, right. Well I mean the kind of the way that I view it as you have a specific question, it’s something you might ask an expert, a scientist, an engineer, a medical person something like that. And it’s a specific question and it’s a question you can ask without having a whole essay to describe the question. Then that’s something that’s a serious candidates for Wolfram|Alpha to do something with.
And I think what will actually happen in practice is people will kind of, they’ll come up with particular patterns of questions that they – that come up in their lives for whatever reason, whether it’s things to do with dates or whether it’s things to do with computing tensile strength of beams or whether it’s to do with historical weather or who knows what. And they sort of remember these are patterns of things that I can readily do in Wolfram|Alpha. Just like with search and with the web, we remember there are particular kinds of things. Like you can look up a person’s name, that’s things people do. Or I remember the first time, it’s probably years ago when I realized that – when I saw some obscure error message from my computer that I could type in a fragment of that error message and that will be a useful thing to do and I kind of – maybe I’m just slow, but I hadn’t sort of realized immediately that that was a thing I could do and I remember, you know, there’s a definite moment when I realized that’s a thing it’s going to work.
But you know the difference in a sense between what’s happening in the web and web search and so on is this kind of – if somebody already asked a question and they wrote down the answer explicitly on the web, somebody else’s questions that sort of they gave an explicit form of the answer somewhere on the web then you can go search for it with a search engine. And a search engine will then give you a bunch of links that say ‘okay go read this page and that page and the other page to learn about the – sort of the answer that was given here’. And what we’re trying to do is to say, given this sort of corpus of knowledge that’s been accumulated by our civilization, is there a way to compute the answer to some specific questions that you immediately – you know that you yourself have. And if we can compute the answer, let’s generate a report that shows what the answer is. We’re not saying here’s a bunch of links to pages where people have written about this answer but sort of just here’s the answer hopefully presented in a clear way to the specific question that you have.
So, that’s kind of the thing we’re doing. And I think what will happen is that people will evolve from – I was looking just yesterday and today, I was looking at the query streams for Wolfram|Alpha and yeah there are a bunch of kind of search engine like queries which, for which Wolfram|Alpha is not especially suitable. But then there’s starting to be and I suspect that it’s going to develop even over the next few days and a week, there are starting to be these very specific, very sort of computational kinds of questions coming in that are really – that’s something Wolfram|Alpha can do and you are not going that by just sort of searching the web. And I suspect that, as people kind of get used to these kind of patterns of usage, that we’ll see this sort of increasing divergence between what people expect to type into Wolfram|Alpha and what they’ve become conditioned to type into a search engine for example.
Leo Laporte Right, right. We’re out of time but I want to ask one last question and you kind of touched on this, but what are your hopes for Wolfram|Alpha in the future, a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now?
Stephen Wolfram Well, so I mean our big goal is sort of to see how much of the knowledge that’s been accumulated in the world can really be made computable, can really be set up in such a way that anybody anywhere can just sort of type in a question and get a report of their answer produced. I think that the – that’s a big project and we‘re sort of – I’m trying to sort of ramp up the effort, we’re trying to figure out the right kind of ways to build a sort of appropriate business eco-system around it, so that we ramp up this effort and sort of set it up and get the – we’ve had just tremendous amounts of help and inputs from lots of experts and lots of people interested in lots of different fields, figuring out how to sort of structure that kind of network, that sort of community around the systems. Then there are also much more kind of in a sense, yet different intellectual ideas, like being able to sort of invent on the fly by searching the computational universe, these kinds of things.
So I think that my objective is sort of to get the existing corpus of human knowledge kind of committed to this computational form and then to sort of automate the process of discovering fundamentally new kinds of knowledge using these kinds of approaches to science and so on. So that’s the modest project.
Leo Laporte I can’t wait. It sounds amazing.
Stephen Wolfram Thanks.
Leo Laporte Stephen, thank you so much for taking some time and explaining this. I really really appreciate it.
Stephen Wolfram Okay good question, thanks a lot.
Leo Laporte Thank you take care.
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