Recorded: November 8, 2009
Published: November 9, 2009
TWiT 220 •Previous episode – Next episode
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This is TWiT, this WEEK in TECH. Episode 220 for November 9, 2009, Buffet Neutrality.
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Leo Laporte This is TWiT, this WEEK in TECH, the show that covers the tech news of the week in a unique, idiosyncratic, sometimes bizarre fashion. I’m Leo Laporte and joining us in studio today for his first TWiT ever, we have the lovely and talented Mark Milian, from The Los Angeles Times, a youngster just graduated from college. So he’s going to give us the youth prospective. Isn’t that – do you hate being in that youth ghetto?
Mark Milian No, it’s actually a pretty fun role.
Leo Laporte Really, you don’t mind?
Mark Milian Not at all, especially since I look like I’m 13. It works out well for me.
Leo Laporte I was given him a hard time. Well, it’s nice to have you Mark, I really appreciate your coming in. And Mark actually does really excellent coverage for The LA Times and I have to say in some ways I think that having a young guy, is probably de rigueur wouldn’t you say these days? I mean…
I hope so.
Leo Laporte The old farts aren’t really capable of covering these stories, or are they? I don’t know. Anyway welcome it’s good to have you in studio.
Mark Milian I’m really happy to be here.
Leo Laporte We’ll find some young stuff for you to cover, the youth beat. How about those Neopets, those are hot aren’t they? Also here, there is the chuckle of Frank Barnako. Good to see you Frank, somebody a little close of my age.
Frank Barnako Hi, I saw some Chia Pets in the store this weekend; they’re coming back.
Leo Laporte Are they? Really.
Frank Barnako I also saw Snuggies at Costco.
Leo Laporte Oh how funny. Yeah, the Snuggies – now they have pet Snuggies.
Frank Barnako Yeah, and they’re retail boxes; 19.95 at Costco all lined up suitable for framing or giving away.
Leo Laporte What is this story? Why, why, why, I don’t understand that one at all. barnako.com for Frank’s blog; long time observer of the scene with MarketWatch and elsewhere. Also here Mr. Tom Merritt from Buzz Out Loud, Cnet’s Week Daily, a show about tech news.
Tom Merritt I’m neither young nor at old media.
Leo Laporte You’re kind of in between.
Tom Merritt Yeah, I’m just sitting on the fence, pick a side why don’t you?
Leo Laporte One of the other. Tom and Roger Chang, my other cohort from Tech TV, another one of my cohorts from Tech TV do a great show called East meets West every Sunday right after TWiT, on the TWiT network. So you watch them do that show right after this show, which we do live every Sunday at 3 pm Pacific, 11pm UTC I guess you don’t do pm. 23:00 hundred UTC at live.twit.tv. So I think one of the big stories, there are a bunch of big stories, one of the big stories of the week of course, the success of the Droid phone and an interesting number of geeks embracing the Droid phone. In fact I’m ashamed to admit that after reading all these positive posts, even from people like Dave Winer, my friend Andy Ihnatko in The Chicago Sun-Times, I actually just ordered a Droid phone.
Tom Merritt I got very close to it.
Leo Laporte Tom, did you?
Tom Merritt Yeah, I don’t want to get out of my – I don’t wanted to pay for two contracts right now. That’s the only thing stopping me, because I am attracted to the Droid and I want to try it out over a few months, rather than just pick it up and go ‘yeah, they keyboard’s kinda weird…’
Leo Laporte Yeah you can’t review it in a week.
Tom Merritt Yeah, exactly.
Leo Laporte You can’t review it in a week. You just can’t.
Tom Merritt Because I know the network is going to be great here. Because I use the Verizon MiFi my file all the time to get data onto my iPhone.
Leo Laporte Well, and there’s some really nice features which I want to talk about in a bit. But before I do that, I do also want to welcome – he is just joining us now, Mr. Wil Harris from ChannelFlip.
Wil Harris Result.
Leo Laporte Yay! Were you having trouble?
Wil Harris Finally. Well you know for all the billions being pumped into Skype this week, it still seems pretty hard to get a reliable connection [indiscernible] (05:03)
Leo Laporte I thought the internet might be down in England.
Wil Harris Yeah, well you know that happens sometimes; you get some leaves on the lines, the tubes get clogged, but no. Made it finally. So, lovely to be here.
Leo Laporte Good to have you on the show; welcome. Let’s see if I can get a shot of you; yeah. There he is in all his glory. So we were talking about the Droid. The Droid will not – is a CDMA phone on Verizon here in the states, but I saw that O2 Germany is going to sell it as the Milestone in Germany. So I presume O2 in Britain will sell it as well.
Wil Harris Well maybe, but I guess – I mean we don’t have any CDMA networks over here.
Leo Laporte No, no I’m saying to have a GSM version called the Milestone.
Wil Harris They have a GSM version?
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Wil Harris Well, O2 is kind of odd because they’ve kind of put themselves out as the smartphone network. They were the first network over here to have the iPhone, because iPhone just gone multi-network now. And they were – they’re the only company still to have the Pre. So I guess if they get the Droid it will be a kind of three for three.
Leo Laporte Is O2 Germany – I mean, if they have it does that mean O2 England will have it or is it…?
Wil Harris Yeah, usually.
Tom Merritt Shouldn’t it be the ‘Meterstone’ not the Milestone?
Leo Laporte The ‘Kilometerstone’.
Tom Merritt ‘Kilometerstone’, right.
Leo Laporte Yeah, what does a milestone mean in Germany, it means nothing. ‘De Milleshtone.’
Tom Merritt Because Droid is so confusing…
Leo Laporte Yeah, right.
Tom Merritt I don’t get why they changed the name unless there is some copyright thing there.
Leo Laporte How much do you think Lucas is making off of Droid? Every ad says, Droid is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. used with – all rights reserved, used with permission.
Wil Harris But I can’t believe that Apple hasn’t done the obvious thing which is ‘This isn’t the Droid you’re looking for.’
Tom Merritt Too obvious I guess.
Leo Laporte Is it too obvious? I don’t know that’s pretty good.
Tom Merritt They are not reacting to the Droid because that would legitimize it. They can react to the PC because that’s – it’s well known that the PC is dominant, right. But if you react to the Droid doesn’t that legitimize the Droid as the competition?
Leo Laporte Here is the interesting thing with the Droid; right at the time when you start to think, ‘oh! I really like this in – oh boy, that two year thing.’ Verizon raises its early termination fee from 175 bucks to 350 bucks. So I mean, didn’t they loose a lawsuit in California over this early termination fee? Mark you must have covered that – what…
Mark Milian That gives us a good idea that how much they’re actually subsidizing this phone. They’re probably…
Leo Laporte That’s what they’re saying, they’re saying ‘well it costs us so much.’
Mark Milian Right.
Leo Laporte We have to charge you.
Mark Milian I don’t know if that’s just bad business, I’m not sure if that’s even fair practice.
Leo Laporte I think it’s bad business. It seems – what other business – if you leave your drycleaner after – I want to go across the street to the other drycleaner. Well, I’m going to have to charge you an early termination fee because I give you a bag. I don’t know of any other business where they charge you to quit. It seems like that should be illegal.
Tom Merritt [ph] Well, it gets – you have a contract. (08:02)
Mark Milian It’s one of those businesses with very little competition.
Leo Laporte Yeah, no kidding. That’s called – that’s how monopolies act. You’re saying Tom, you want to defend them go ahead.
Tom Merritt Well, yeah if there is a defense for them, it’s that you have a contract, right? It’s there – and that’s why there is a termination fee because they counted on a certain amount of revenue from you.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Tom Merritt And if you want to get out of the contrac…
Leo Laporte Yeah; you were supposed to make us rich, damn it!
Tom Merritt We gave you that phone, that $500 phone, for $200 because we’re going to make $600 off you. So…
Leo Laporte Well, wait a minute though, let’s look at this really though. I mean, let’s be honest. The Droid, your plan is going to be about, the plan I signed up for was 100 bucks a month, that’s including not even unlimited texting. If you want unlimited texting, a little – even a little bit more. And so that means every month I give them 100 bucks over the two year period of the contract; that’s 2,400 bucks plus the 200 I gave them for the phone, so they make 2,600 bucks on a $600 phone and ok, so maybe their services are costing them something, but there is some good profit in there, it’s not like they are not making money every month off of me. They want another 350 bucks?
Tom Merritt You sign the contract.
Mark Milian You also sign the contract when you…
Tom Merritt Is this your signature Mr. Laporte?
Leo Laporte Yes, it’s my signature!
Mark Milian You also sign the contract when you sign up for Facebook. That doesn’t mean they can slip in there things like they own your content.
Leo Laporte Right. I mean…
Tom Merritt It does mean they can do that, unfortunately.
Leo Laporte What is that Frank?
Frank Barnako Leo, I just wonder about the marketing of the Droid phone. It seems like from the ads I am seeing, it is all aimed at folks who already have the iPhone. And isn’t that a smaller market that’s available that the Droid you go after than bigger market; new people who are trading in all sorts of phones, not just iPhones. I mean, these ads are very specific to people who have iPhones who understand that the – the iPhone is limited in running a number of apps at the same time.
Leo Laporte Well and they are not just advertising on the fact that it’s a smartphone Frank, you’ve seen the – they’re going right after AT&T, in fact AT&T sued them, on these coverage map ads and that has not slowed Verizon down. Gizmodo announced today that there are three new Verizon ads that attack AT&T on the coverage. So it is not just – it’s not just going after the iPhone, it’s going after AT&T. And you’re right, I mean, what about Sprint users, what about T-Mobile users. I guess in a way if you say, ‘hey our coverage is better,’ that’s something everybody benefits from.
Mark Milian I think that’s actually Verizon’s best defense against AT&T and the iPhone.
Leo Laporte Yes. Everybody wants to be at Verizon.
Mark Milian Right. And everybody who’s already on AT&T just basically says, the service is terrible.
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt Yeah, it could be going after the people who are in the middle too, right. And I’m off contact, I’m ready to switch, I’m thinking about the iPhone but then I see this commercial and ‘oh wow, that coverage looks pretty awful, maybe I won’t get the iPhone. This Droid thing…’ That might be what they’re thinking, is let’s try to get those people – the switchers to pick the Droid from the get go.
Leo Laporte You know what I think is really going on Frank is that Verizon is still stung by the fact that they turned down the iPhone.
Frank Barnako Well all the talk about the Droid has made me look up and find out when my contract for the iPhone expires. Because the operating system and especially that GPS – that free GPS product looks – makes the Droid very attractive, just in the basic – just on the base of its basic applications and capacities.
Leo Laporte Have you used the GPS, Mark?
Mark Milian Oh! I used it to get here.
Leo Laporte You did?
Mark Milian Yeah. It’s…
Leo Laporte Now here’s something they said, now tell me did this happen, because Jon Belmont told me that this happened that when he got to – it says ‘You have arrived at your destination’, it pops up the street view of…
Mark Milian It does.
Leo Laporte So you see that you are here.
Mark Milian Yes.
Leo Laporte That’s pretty cool.
Mark Milian I’m really hoping that because Google said that they submitted this to the iPhone app store that they’ll have this free version built into Google apps…
Leo Laporte Oh! Yeah like Apple is going to allow that.
Frank Barnako Oh boy, [ph] wouldn’t we like that? (11:57)
Mark Milian We’ll see what happens. I really hope so. Apple has a clear reason not to though, especially with what is it Garmin is selling, their…?
Leo Laporte Right; 99 bucks. 99 bucks and it sucks! People are saying it’s terrible.
Tom Merritt Hey Steve Jobs, this is Tom, Tom on the phone. About that Google Maps app, you’re not going to let that through, right?
Leo Laporte No, no.
Wil Harris I think what’s really interesting in looking at the amount of coverage that the Droid has got is that it really highlights just how pretty much rubbish everything else is on the Smartphone market. Because I think there’s – sort of you know, the iPhone Killer has been sort of touted for a long time, the Droid is a good phone. But I recently had some terrible experiences looking at phones like, there’s a new Samsung Tocco phone and the new LG phone and they are all touchscreen phones but they are all absolutely terrible. And I think what are the reasons certainly I see that the Droid is pretty successful is that it’s an iPhone – it’s a touchscreen phone that isn’t a complete disaster. Because I have to say there are very, very few of them around.
Mark Milian You are right there is so little competition. I’ve posted a review of the Droid and said it’s the second best if not the best Smartphone on the market.
Leo Laporte Oh. Now see I have noticed everybody is saying second best, why do you say ‘if not the best.’ What is it that it makes better for you?
Mark Milian I mean Verizon’s network. Just from –
Leo Laporte Just the network?
Mark Milian Right. And everybody says the iPhone is the best personal computer I’ve ever owned, but not the best phone.
Leo Laporte Oh interesting. I wouldn’t say it’s the best personal computer but…
Tom Merritt I definitely use it more as a hand-held computer than I do use it as a phone. I’ll give you that.
Leo Laporte Yeah I mean I think what really is compelling about the iPhone is the apps and the way you can use the apps depending on what you want to do. Not obviously turn by turn but things like just – when I travel, the ability to kind of blog and post and keep in touch with people, find restaurants; it’s great for travel.
Frank Barnako We were coming home today from State College, as I mentioned Leo earlier, we were coming home from State College and listening to the broadcast of the Redskins’ game all the way from State College. I turn to wife and said ‘do you love the ApplePod now?’ That’s what she calls it.
Leo Laporte Yeah. The ‘ApplePod?’
Frank Barnako As we are listening to streaming radio and she says this is great and I said well you know it’s all part of the monthly package. It’s not data, it’s just stuff and just that one app almost sold her on her own.
Leo Laporte But try and use a Droid out of the U.S., try to use it when you travel and you are going to have another thing coming. That’s a negative of Verizon. It’s CDMA; it’s not going to work anywhere.
Mark Milian That’s true you have nowhere to go.
Leo Laporte It’s not a travel phone. But somebody is telling me that Orange will have the Droid in the U.K. So is that attractive, is that good?
Wil Harris Well it doesn’t – although I might get kind of flamed for saying this, tere isn’t really vast amount of difference between the networks in the U.K. because in the U.S. I guess the coverage is the major differentiator.
Leo Laporte You’re just a little – a tiny little island.
Wil Harris Whereas Britain’s so small, it’s like pretty much every network has…
Leo Laporte You put up one antenna, it’s the whole…yeah, I mean come on.
Wil Harris Yeah, you know most of the networks in Britain have pretty much a 100% coverage. And it will go up and down, I mean O2 in particularly has slightly suffered from the same thing that AT&T has suffered from in past kind of years which is that the popularity of the iPhone has led to dreadful 3D coverage in certain places. I mean there are areas in the center of London where the 3G coverage for the iPhone is just appalling, which I kind of feel is like – you know, I hear that the same is true in San Francisco. That it’s not so great.
Frank Barnako Yeah, it’s pretty much the same.
Tom Merritt And it’s because of the 3G. It’s not that the coverage is bad in San Francisco. Coverage if you look at that little blue map is actually very good but the cells get overloaded because too many people are using them.
Wil Harris Well there’s too many people in central London just accessing iPhones non-stop, it’s unbelievable
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Wil Harris And so it would be interesting to see…
Tom Merritt I think that Verizon still might get the iPhone here.
Leo Laporte Well the rumor, and as long as you mention that, there is a rumor out they are going to have the iPhone Q3.
Tom Merritt One thing I have noticed about these new commercials that Frank was mentioning, none of them have the Droid in them. They all plug a different phone. There is one that has that Droid Eris, the $99 version but they are really positioning themselves as ‘we are not better than the iPhone, we are better than AT&T, because we have the better coverage’ – which they have the map in all those ads – ‘but we also have all these amazing phones.’ And granted, the phones aren’t really that amazing but they are trying to come off as ‘look at all the phones we have, look at the better coverage, why would you ever pick AT&T?’ And getting the iPhone would fit right into that. If they could come out next year sometime maybe in the summer and say and we have the latest iPhone, now Verizon is the only place to go. You want the Droid from Google Android, you want the iPhone, whatever you want we have got it.
Leo Laporte Let me play a little bit of this; this is the stealth commercial. I love this stealth. Did you see this stealth commercial? I didn’t realize it was a Droid ad. Is it a Droid ad?
Tom Merritt Yeah it is.
Leo Laporte Because I thought, oh, this is the new sci-fi channel or something.
Tom Merritt Yeah right. It looks like a movie or something.
Leo Laporte So stealth planes fly in over – all over the U.S. they drop some sort of payload.
Mark Milian Alien invasion!
Leo Laporte It looks like an alien invasion. That’s what I thought, and you know the first time I saw this ad I didn’t identify it. It just said, coming soon or something.
Tom Merritt [ph] Must be V (17:47)
Leo Laporte It’s [ph] V; (17:47) that’s what I thought; it was an ad for [ph] V. (17:50)
Tom Merritt The new ones are all Christmas oriented or holiday.
Leo Laporte Yeah; they’re the coverage map ones. I thought this is one of the best produced ads I have ever seen. I mean it just blew me away and then the little capsule opens and then that’s all I saw then there is an eye and it’s says drop date 11/6/09. Oh there it says Verizon, I missed that part right at the very, very end. So that’s the Eris or is that the Droid? That was the droid.
Tom Merritt I think it was – both drop on the 6th, so…
Mark Milian Yeah, they’re part of the same line – product line.
Leo Laporte Okay.
Mark Milian You are right that those are some of the best-produced commercials – unnecessarily so.
Leo Laporte [indiscernible] (18:24) Totally over the top!
Mark Milian Totally.
Tom Merritt I think that that marketing that they are doing with this is just so stupid though because they are making it seem like this ominous dark device and, I mean there is a lot of a people who are scared of Google already having too much information in there and they are making this out to be this, like, ‘rise of the robots give all your information, this will be your personal robot’.
Leo Laporte We talked about this in This Week in Google yesterday for the first time I can remember in a long time Google had an ad for the Droid on its front page on November 6th. So you go to Google’s front page and you see – get the Droid and it points to a Google landing page first, but I thought that was wild…
Frank Barnako Antitrust –
Wil Harris It wasn’t as good as the ad for Elmo, though, right?
Leo Laporte Yeah, there was also an ad for Elmo. Did you get that in the U.K. too?
Wil Harris Yeah, it was fantastic.
Leo Laporte For the last…
‘Google is my friend!’
Leo Laporte They are still doing this, they are still doing it. They are – if you go to google.com which nobody does I know anymore, but if you go to google.com today you will get Elmo. They have doing this for all week. I have never seen such a crazy thing.
Tom Merritt [ph] It’s their 40th anniversary (19:32).
Frank Barnako I bet there is a website for [indiscernible] (19:33).
Leo Laporte All the Google cartoons?
Frank Barnako Little cartoons and so forth.
Leo Laporte Is there?
Frank Barnako And – I would think there must be somewhere going years back because they have been creative for years back with just the homepage and those illustrations.
Leo Laporte There is another…
Frank Barnako Google that.
Leo Laporte Here’s one of the, you want to see the Christmas ones, which ones do you like, Tom. The Misfit Toys, Blue Christmas or Elves?
Tom Merritt The elves one’s pretty good. The Misfit Toys is very nostalgic if you like that Rankin/Bass stuff. So one of those two would be my –
Leo Laporte They should have Burl Ives.
Tom Merritt Yeah.
Leo Laporte Yeah. [Advertisement] (20:11). It’s an iPhone and then they show the 3G coverage, the World of Misfit Toys. [Advertisement] (20:11). So now it’s not just the Droid that they are advertising. But isn’t this what they were getting sued over, is this coverage map thing?
Mark Milian I think the AT&T might have a legitimate complaint there too because it’s 3G coverage and not everybody really understands what that means.
Leo Laporte It’s not phone coverage.
Mark Milian …And they think ‘I can’t get calls in the middle of Montana?’ which you may not be able to but every Verizon CDMA tower is 3G, not every AT&T tower is 3G.
Tom Merritt You know what if this was reversed right and if AT&T came out with a map that had 3G and EDGE and they compared it to Verizon’s map of just 3G and it looked better for AT&T, Verizon would sue AT&T for not having a comparable map. So, what Verizon is doing is technically the exactly right thing which is 3G versus 3G, it’s apples to apples.
Leo Laporte AT&T says it is being, these ads are causing it to lose “incalculable market share”. That actually doesn’t mean a lot, it just means ‘we can’t figure it out’.
Wil Harris By the way, if you go to google.com/logos…
Leo Laporte Oh, there – Google has it.
Wil Harris [Indiscernible] (21:48) this has all their previous Googles.
Leo Laporte Google has it, of course Google would have it. Did they – remember they had the crop circles once that nobody could – nobody could explain and – oh yeah, look at all of them. Wow. And this is including stuff that you don’t see in the…
Wil Harris Yeah, it’s all the foreign ones, that in the U.S. you wouldn’t see.
Leo Laporte Day of the Dead, Mexico was November 2nd, we didn’t see that one. The Halloween candy one was good. This is great. It goes back in time a long way – Rampo Edogawa’s birthday.
Tom Merritt Of course.
Leo Laporte I think that’s an important holiday…
Tom Merritt We can all celebrate it.
Leo Laporte …It is in Japan. So let me play – I got to play the elf one, I mean as long as we are playing ads. They are not paying me for this by the way folks, this is…[advertisement] (22:27). So every elf, okay let me explain this for people listening – gosh it’s creepy! Oh my God, is that a creepy still! Okay, so the elves, particularly creepy looking elves are loading up presents and they are checking off names and each one as they put the phone (I didn’t know Santa made cell phones) but as they put the phone in the pack it shows the coverage map and of course it’s the Verizon wireless 3G coverage map which is spreading like blood all over – uh oh! He got AT&T. [advertisement] (23:01). Hmmm. Yeah, I might be a little peeved if I were AT&T on that one.
Frank Barnako Doesn’t this also give you some hint on how big the cell phone market must be, all the money spend for those ads, those are incredible.
Leo Laporte AT&T argues it’s customers can “fully use –“ this exactly what you said, “fully use their wireless devices out side of a 3G coverage area and [ph] undisputably (23:35) we have coverage in areas depicted by white or blank spaces in the maps using Verizon’s advertisement”. They say the maps they are using are wrong. So they asked for a temporary restraining order, I haven’t received it so I’m going to keep running those ads. Interesting, I guess the ads are running, have you seen them on TV?
Tom Merritt I haven’t, I have only seen them on Gizmodo.
Leo Laporte Thank goodness for the web.
Wil Harris It’s kind of a weird thing isn’t it, I mean most people – I tend to think – I tend to feel like most of the ads that I see that people talk about are ads that I have seen on the web not actually on TV. I mean when was the last time you saw an ad on TV that was kind of so controversial that you wanted to talk about it.
Leo Laporte It doesn’t, you don’t even, you can spend all the money on making the ad, put it on YouTube and you never need to make an ad buy. Wait a minute –
Tom Merritt Yeah, if it’s good enough it catches on [indiscernible] (24:26)
Wil Harris Well that’s what GoDaddy does all the time, right? With those kind of ‘Too hot for TV’ ads.
Leo Laporte Yeah. GoDaddy’s very smart that way.
Wil Harris [ph] Because they can’t just [Indiscernible] (24:31) pretend they were going to put it on TV and just put on the website.
Leo Laporte I hope Audible never thinks of this.
Tom Merritt Although there was that study recently that said people actually watch a whole lot more ads on their DVRs and their TiVos than they expected.
Leo Laporte They don’t whiz through them?
Tom Merritt Yeah – not nearly – I mean some people do obviously but not nearly in the numbers that was feared at one point.
Leo Laporte Yikes, yikes. Okay, let’s take a break. I want to come back I have a, I went to a salon that was sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation over a couple of days ago. John Perry Barlow had it, but all the EFF board was there. And they were asking for help from the community in solving what to them is an intractable issue. Barlow said even that the board – the EFF board was like struggling with this to the point where there almost in fist fights over what to do about Net Neutrality.
So I’d like to – maybe ask all you great big brains in a moment what you think but before we do that I do want to welcome a brand new sponsor not only to this show but to the entire TWiT network. You sound unhappy Frank, are you okay?
Frank Barnako No I am fine. I was just sitting back.
Leo Laporte ‘Oh, another ad …’
Tom Merritt ‘Ad time!’
Frank Barnako [Indiscernible] (25:46)
Mark Milian [Indiscernible] (25:48).
Leo Laporte He is going [ph] ‘bip bip bip (25:52) – where do I – how do I skip this part?’ No, don’t’ skip this part. This is – I am really excited, I have been – it’s funny. We were supposed to talk about this last week and there was a delay, its’ been really hard for me as some of you know I got a new car about a week ago. And I haven’t – I’ve been having to bite my tongue. I actually – I had to bite my tongue. I got a Mustang and it wasn’t that I couldn’t talk about the Mustang or about Ford, it was that I couldn’t talk about what was in the car and that’s the advertiser. It’s Ford SYNC, you might – I saw this first at CES a few years ago, Microsoft’s Sync stuff.
And now that I have it in my car, let me tell you this stuff is great, its handsfree calling – some of this stuff you may have already seen in other – other systems, you press the button on the steering wheel, it goes [ph] ‘bing’ (26:48) - and you say ‘Phone, call Jennifer at home’ very – by the way very good voice recognition. You never have to take your eyes off the road, or your hands off the wheel to do any of this.
But you can also do things like play Barenaked Ladies, you can tell it what songs to play is – if you’re listening to a song on your iPod, you could say ‘Play similar songs’ or ‘Next’, you can get turn by turn directions even if you don’t have a GPS. This is kind of cool. You get serious mobile traffic information. It’s got – every 5,000 miles, I have it set send a vehicle health report to my phone and put it up on the web and I know exactly the status of about – I think is about 10 different engine systems.It’s got 911 assist: if the air bags deploy, it calls 911, plays a recorded message, it gives me a chance to override it of course or to talk to 911 but if I am incapacitated it makes the call and uses the GPS to tell 911 where I am. You get news, you get sports, you get weather. It knows your route so if you’re on a route and you want traffic reports it tells you where the traffic is on your route as you’re going. I mean this thing is so cool.
I got in the car and said ‘Where is the CD changer’, they said ‘Well, just put the CD in’. So I put a CD in, it goes to CDDB, gets the name and information about the CD and then rips it to the internal hard drive, you can put 2,400 songs on – they call the Jukebox. So you don’t need a CD changer. Take the CD out and you’re done. You don’t need to bring it in the car anymore.
I can go on and on, there are so many cool features to this, you can, say ‘Play the New York Times front-page’, it’ll read you the news. If you have a – phone that can handle it, this is a new feature of Bluetooth, it will read text messages as they come into you and you can send them. I can send – I can say, ‘Hey, text Mark that we’re looking for him on Sunday at 3 at the TWiT cottage and it would transcribe and send it!
Mark Milian That’s awesome.
Leo Laporte It’s a pretty smart car, I have to say I feel like I am in the – I am in, I am talking KITT in the – what was the name of that show …
Mark Milian Knight Rider!
Tom Merritt Knight Rider!
Leo Laporte I feel like David Hasselhoff: ‘KITT?’, ‘Yes?’ It doesn’t talk back. Well it kind of – wait a minute, it does talk back to you in a female voice. It’s very cool. So I want you to take a look, here’s what – here is how this works. You can go right now to syncmyridepodcast.com and find out all the details and enter to win one of fifteen free Nano’s or fifteen free Zune’s through December 8th.
Actually you can do that at syncmyridepodcast.com or use Twitter if you use the hashtag pound syncmyridepodcast and it will automatically be entered. So if you’re on Twitter right now just send a tweet saying ‘I am listening This WEEK in TECH talk about Ford Sync’ and the hashtag pound syncmyridepodcast and you’ll be entered to win one of fifteen free Nano’s or fifteen free Zunes now through December 8th.
And next time you’re at a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury dealer, go check out SYNC. Oh my God. I love it and I paid for the Mustang, [ph] Mike Arrington (29:55), I paid for with my own money. Didn’t even get a discount! Screw You! Screw You! Oh let me tell you, next time, Tom, you come up here I will take you for a ride. This thing is so fun.
Tom Merritt What color is the Mustang?
Leo Laporte It’s a little embarrassing.
Tom Merritt No, I am sorry, I didn’t know.
Frank Barnako What is it, silver like everything else in the world?
Leo Laporte No it’s bright red.
Frank Barnako It’s not pink?
Leo Laporte It’s bright red.
Frank Barnako All right!
Tom Merritt Bright red, oh no that’s – yeah. I know why you think that’s embarrassing. That’s fine.
Leo Laporte They said – my wife said ‘What color, just tell me it’s not red’, I said ‘Well come out’ …
Tom Merritt [ph] That’s very red (30:28).
Leo Laporte She’s a little mad that I bought this but then I took her for ride in it and she kind of, she said ‘Wow!’ And then I let her drive it and now she doesn’t mind. She loves – it’s 2010 Mustang. This is not the ad – by the way this is not an ad for Mustangs. I am just telling you I love the 2010 Mustang, it is fun, I have never had a muscle car, so I’m having a blast.
Tom Merritt Just don’t speed, because they pull over the red cars first.
Leo Laporte That’s what somebody told me but I am a very careful driver.
Tom Merritt That’s true.
Leo Laporte But we live – the area we live in is perfect for something like this, there’s twisty roads out to the ocean, there’s a lot of country roads, it’s really fun I mean handling on this thing, I’m really having a blast.
Tom Merritt It’s beautiful out here.
Leo Laporte Isn’t it nice?
Tom Merritt Yeah, sunny –
Leo Laporte Where in LA do you live?
Tom Merritt I am right in the city, I’m in Silver Lake.
Frank Barnako But you went to school in Maryland?
Mark Milian Right.
Leo Laporte Another lovely countrified area, right?
Mark Milian Not so much; 15 minutes from DC. Not so much.
Leo Laporte So this net neutrality thing, there’s so many stories, and this one is really not a story, not a breaking story, we mentioned last week that there is a bill in the House and a bill in the Senate, Hands Off The Internet. But there’s also FCC regulations which are something Obama promised to keep the cellphone and the phone companies and the cable companies, all these companies from kind of managing the internet. And now we get this story, which is a little bit of a shocker, so close to this, that Comcast, the second largest U.S. cable television and internet communications provider has installed a new traffic throttling scheme that is now working in all markets. If you are a Comcast sustomer, you are being throttled.
Remember Comcast got in trouble with the FCC, in fact, got fined by the FCC for blocking BitTorrent traffic, and in fact disconnecting BitTorrent connections. The FCC said you can’t do that. And as – I guess it’s part of the deal, Comcast has to tell the FCC what it’s up to. They’ve put in new hardware and software technology at their regional network routers to implement a two-tier packet queuing system.
There are tow trigger conditions. The first throttling condition, I’m reading this article Robert Munro writing for The Enquirer, the first condition – and you know I’ve thought this is going on for a long time to be honest with you. If you use more than 70% of your maximum downstream or upstream bandwidth for more than 15 minutes [ph] bzzzzsheww; (32:52) it slows down. This – I think it’s been doing this for a while, I’ve noticed. It seems to know how much bandwidth I’m using and it slows me down.
The second trigger is tripped when the cable modem termination system you are hooked up to, that is your head end, gets congested and they blame you – it’s your fault. And either you’ll get throttled for at least 15 minutes or until your average bandwidth utilization drops below 50% for 15 minutes.
Tom Merritt So this is a – by throttling they take you from – I can’t remember what the acronyms are, but like best-effort preferred, down to best-effort or something like that.
Leo Laporte Yeah, there are two ways you could be, you could be priority best-effort, that's default.
Tom Merritt Priority, that’s it.
Leo Laporte And then the lower priority is best-effort.
Frank Barnako Well, Leo, this just sounds like what the FCC would allow; reasonable network management, and there is the – there is the hole.
Leo Laporte They are not looking at particular protocols. They are not saying oh, he’s using Skype or BitTorrent. They are just saying, he’s a bandwidth hog. So you don’t think this is a problem? Frank, what do you think?
Frank Barnako You talking to me?
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Frank Barnako I certainly – yes, I certainly think it’s a problem. This phrase of ‘reasonable management’ and then watching what you are doing. If you are going to give me access to internet, let me do what I want to do and let me go to those websites, and let me use it the way I want. Now, I have no quarrel, in fact I have – I buy a tiered service, I have no issues with tiered services.
Leo Laporte Yeah, I don’t mind paying more if I want more.
Frank Barnako Yeah, and that’s fine with me and that I think should qualify as reasonable network management opportunities for the ISPs.
Leo Laporte And revenue opportunity.
Frank Barnako But slowing me down in the middle of what I’m doing, presumably within the constraints of that tier because that’s the – that’s the pipe you’ve let me lease for the moment – leave me alone.
Leo Laporte Yeah, I’m with you on that because I bought whatever I bought; I bought 15 megabits down and one megabit up. I should get that. I should be able to use that full time, right? That’s what I bought.
Tom Merritt Well I think that’s the key here, right, is that they tell you in advance, all right you are getting 16 megabits per second, but you only get to use 70% of that. So it shouldn’t be called 16 megabits per second, right?
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt And they should tell you upfront, and if you go over 70% for 15 minutes you are going to get – you are going to get throttled, you may not notice, you may, it depends on what you are doing, but that – that should be upfront. And these things aren’t upfront. They are in FCC filings, but they are not in your user agreement. They don’t say, 16 megabits per second actually means 10, 12 megabits per second all the time and it’s only 16 as long as you are not doing it for more than 15 minutes.
Leo Laporte So here is my question – this now leads to the net-neutrality. Which is worse; having the government regulate the internet or letting these guys decide what to do? They’re both bad, right? And this is the – this is the battle that the EFF is having even at the Board level is, well, gosh we don’t really want to say well come on help us FCC, because boy, that’s a slippery slope. And yet at the same time who trusts the phone companies or the internet service providers to do this right? So I’m just curious what you guys think; what is the solution to this. Anybody? [ph] Bueller (36:13)?
Tom Merritt Competition. I think – I think the solution is to get in there and encourage more choices because all of the arguments about not regulating say, ‘well, if you don’t like the ISP you have, you move to another.’ The problem is most people in the United States don’t have another or at least not another viable place to go.
Leo Laporte That’s exactly right. That's exactly the problem, isn’t it?
Mark Milian I totally agree with Tom though that they should certainly be more upfront about it. They should offer like a little utility you can download that tells you this is how much you’ve used and this is when we are going to cut you off. If that’s going to be their policy, they should certainly be upfront about it so people can decide, well I don’t really like this policy and I’m going to hop to a different carrier…
Leo Laporte Yeah, but then who…
Wil Harris Well I think that’s exactly it, though, isn’t it? They want to make sure you’re – it’s as obvious as possible…
Leo Laporte Right.
Wil Harris They want to be able to offer unlimited Internet, but sort of restrained, keep the right to shut you down when they’re not too happy about it. I mean over here, we’ve had massive problems with companies advertising unlimited Internet…
Leo Laporte Right.
Wil Harris Wherein the small print is unlimited is less than 5 gigabytes. And like well, how can you possibly say it is unlimited? Just say 5 gigabytes.
Leo Laporte Yes. Well, that just happened to me.
Wil Harris But I it sounds better, right.
Leo Laporte I just bought the Droid and it says, oh, for 30 bucks, unlimited Internet.
Tom Merritt Yes, as long as you don’t go over 5 gigabytes.
Leo Laporte Well, how can they call it – how do they even get away with calling it unlimited?
Tom Merritt I have no idea.
Frank Bernanko And as long as you don’t tether…
Wil Harris Yes, [indiscernible] (37:39) the answer.
Leo Laporte Don’t use it and it’s unlimited!
Tom Merritt Don’t use exchange…
Wil Harris It was that – legally over here, anyway, because there was a big stink about this. You can call it unlimited if for 90% of the users, they won’t notice any caps. So if 90% of the user base won’t encounter any caps, you can call it unlimited.
Leo Laporte Who the heck? That’s a Bill…
Wil Harris And that was the legal passage…
Leo Laporte That’s a Bill Clinton type of waffle. Who the hell wrote that regulation?
Wil Harris No kidding. That’s syrup. “I did not go over 5 gigabytes with that data.”
Leo Laporte I think you just fell off your couch there, Wil.
Wil Harris I get – you know, I wonder if this has any precedent in buffet law and stay with me…
Leo Laporte Oh yes, “all you can eat,” “all you can eat…”
Tom Merritt Those “all you can eat” buffets have been in court before for saying, we can call it “all you can eat” as long as most people will be able to eat “all you can eat,” but we can stop people if they’re abusing it and eating too much.
Leo Laporte It’s the potato salad exemption. Of course, Tom.
Tom Merritt It might be.
Leo Laporte I think you are absolutely right. There’s case law.
Tom Merritt Yes.
Leo Laporte From Perry Boy’s Smorgee. I used to eat at Perry Boy’s Smorgee. You don’t know how long that stuff’s been sitting there though, you know that’s the problem.
Tom Merritt I can’t remember the name of the one in Illinois that I grew up going to. But they, yes. That stuff, that was there all day under that pot. You don’t want to eat there after 2 o’clock.
Leo Laporte Yes, exactly. Well, so you…
Frank Barnako Well, I’m a huge fan of private companies and Tom’s idea that competition will rule or may well be the solution.
Leo Laporte It’s, I mean, yes, who wants the FCC to regulate the Internet? That’s a terrible idea.
Frank Barnako At the same time I’m imagining the EULAs, the user agreements that will come with these tiers of service. And I know they will hide the salami somewhere.
Leo Laporte Speaking of hiding the salami, they’re telling me it was the old country buffet, Tom, is that – does that ring a bell?
Tom Merritt That’s – I know the old country buffet. But that wasn’t the one that I went to, there was a different one. It began with a “D” I think or something. Anyway.
Leo Laporte Golden Skillet.
Tom Merritt Who – no, I don’t know.
Leo Laporte Golden Corral?
Tom Merritt Golden Corral?
Leo Laporte Corral?
Tom Merritt Yes.
Mark Milian These are all good buffet places, though. I mean I know we’re supposed to be talking about net neutrality. But good buffet recommendation is very valuable. And it does metaphorically relate to net neutrality. Do you want the FCC coming in and telling you how much potato salad you can take?
Leo Laporte Exactly! Exactly! There’s a – this is a – now talk about a rat hole. There’s a Chinese restaurant in town which has an ‘all you can eat’ buffet and I have a feeling they are not very well, because they recently put out a poster that said, we also have Mexican, Chinese, French, Italian anything you want, we got it.
Tom Merritt Ponderosa!
Leo Laporte Ponderosa!
Tom Merritt Thank you Jay Toshiba, that was the one.
Leo Laporte And then Dr. Mario says, Ponderosa is terrible.
Tom Merritt Yes, it is.
Leo Laporte But do they hide the salami? So are we all in agreement that the – I mean last week, I really went up on a podium there and said savetheinternet.com, go there, let your Congress member know what they – what because these laws that John McCain was sponsoring, and then the one in the House that said, there shall be no regulation in the Internet really worried me. But at the same time, maybe that is the right answer. But how do you encourage competition? I mean right now, even though there is no law requiring it, every cable company in the U.S. has a monopoly. There’s one and only one. And there’s usually only one telco. So that means basically in most regions, there’s two companies competing for your Internet dollar.
Wil Harris So I mean how does it work compared to utilities like water? Like who guarantees that if you pay your water bill, you get water?
Leo Laporte It’s the same thing, it’s…
Wil Harris You don’t get like ten bottles?
Leo Laporte It’s a municipal monopoly, basically. The local municipalities in effect – it’s not by law, but in effect, pick an incumbent cable company, they pick an incumbent water company, and that’s the water. That’s the – if it’s not publicly run, that’s the water. It’s certainly true of cable. Now the phone company, I don’t know, that goes back to AT&T’s break up, I mean that was when the courts decided that AT&T should be divided into regional Bells.
Tom Merritt Which they’ve slowly re-compiled.
Leo Laporte Yes. I mean we used to be Pacific Bell. Then we were Southwest Bell, when they united with Southwestern Bell. Then AT&T, and now, yes, Now it’s AT&T, here in California, so.
Tom Merritt Yes, I mean, I am – I’ve been a big attacker of the crazy attacks on the FCC policy here. And I – because I don’t like it when people use fudd to defend their point.
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt And there’s been a lot of ridiculous things said about what the FCC wants to do and the effects that it will have, it will ruin poor people, it will allow a fairness doctrine to go to place, none of that is true. But at the same time I’m very concerned the language that the FCC will use…
Leo Laporte Do you really want to…
Tom Merritt And whether the FCC is the right organization to do this?
Leo Laporte Do you really want to give them the power to say what’s okay on the Internet?
Tom Merritt If it is kept very strictly to the ability to say, look, you can’t as Comcast degrade all the videos that come across your Internet connection except for Comcast sports network E&G 4 because you own those, then yes, I’m for that.
Leo Laporte Yes.
Tom Merritt I think that should be a policy, maybe a law. I think there should be some way of guaranteeing that. But what’s the best way to go about that is what’s being debated. And I’m not sure I know the answer. I mean at this point, having the FCC do a very limited policy seems to be the best compromise.
Leo Laporte It’s very difficult. I can see the EFF’s difficulty here. It’s really two – collision of two different – of two strongly held beliefs. But I’m with you, Tom.
Wil Harris It’s a Hobson’s choice as well, isn’t it?
Leo Laporte It is a Hobson’s choice.
Wil Harris Because you don’t really feel like there’s a great outcome either way.
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt There’s not the – I think the ideal solution would be to have increased competition, but the barrier to entry is just so massively high, how is a company going to lay all the pipes and the all the wires?
Leo Laporte I think wireless might be the solution.
Frank Barnako Leo, maybe it shouldn’t be the FCC.
Tom Merritt It could be the British [indiscernible] (44:09) as well.
Leo Laporte Who should it be? Congress?
Tom Merritt May be…well, who runs – let’s try Department of Commerce, which right now oversees ICANN, right?
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt So is there a possible way – if the Department of Commerce has already got there – is already working with the internet, is already involved with the Internet, isn’t that a way to have a government agency – I know we’re on that issue again – but a government agency try to handle neutrality, rather than the FCC, which can begin talking about decency and what you can and cannot do. But Department of Commerce might be at thought, they’re already there with ICANN.
Leo Laporte Yeah, you’re right [indiscernible] (45:51) FTC, yeah.
Wil Harris I have to say that if – I think most people sort of on the [indiscernible] (44:57) seem to be agreeing that if in an ideal world you could have more competition, that would lead to a degree of self-regulation. But actually I think wireless is one of the great hopes for this. Because you have to imagine that 3G speeds are fine for 90% of the people or [indiscernible] (45:16) maybe for 60% of the people around who just want email and Internet and really standard kind of stuff. And actually the provision of sort of WiMAX and 4G services in the next five years could massively change the way that we think about Internet connections and their utility, because if we get to a stage where the cable is not necessary, then that certainly opens up a whole ream of competition options.
Frank Bernanko I’ve got two issues with that, because I’ve been in that same place where I thought, [indiscernible] (45:48) WiMAX is going to save us or LTE or one of those. But the things that hold me up are, it always seems like wireless doesn’t perform as well as wired. No matter what protocol you’re talking about, there’s always something that’s not quite there, service is a little irregular, whatever. Maybe that will get worked out, because every wireless protocol gets better than the last. But the other side of it is, will we end up with the same issue with wireless, where, okay you have slow DSL, fast cable or fiber and a wireless provider. I mean is it going to give us enough competition, I guess is what I am asking.
Tom Merritt The majority of people are wireless now anyway. I haven’t hooked up my computer to an Ethernet cable in forever. So I’m going over Wi-Fi at the very least. And 3G, you’d be surprised how fast it is when the –
Leo Laporte Wait till you see 4G, the new 4G.
Tom Merritt They’re rolling it out next year…
Leo Laporte Yeah, Sprint’s doing in a few cities, right?
Tom Merritt Verizon is rolling it out next year, in a limited rollout.
Leo Laporte And that’s going to be as fast as your cable. Maybe that’s a solution.
Tom Merritt And you’re right, for most people Wi-Fi is going to be fine. I mean I end up going with wired for reliability when I’m uploading video or streaming video or doing…
Leo Laporte Well we asked people who are Skyping with us to go wired, all you guys are wired, because Wi-Fi drops every once in a while. So for some things like watching video. Are you on Wi-Fi? I can tell by the way, you’re dropping out all the time, Wil. I can tell. You’re killing me, you’re killing me.
So [indiscernible] (47:17) I’m sorry you got booted for pasting the response from your member of Congress to writing. I asked him – he wrote to them about the net neutrality issue, and his Congress member who is named – let’s see, Levin, I think.
Yes, Senator Carl Levin, wrote: “thank you for contacting me regarding Internet regulation and network neutrality. I appreciate hearing your views on this matter. The Internet has become an indispensable tool, the spirit of innovation, provides virtually unlimited access to information and commerce and increased communication through websites, email and blogs. It has become increasingly difficult to imagine life without the Internet as we know it, a system that is open and unrestricted.” That’s good. Like that so far, Carl.
But let me read on. He says “earlier this year, legislation was introduced to maintain the longstanding regulations that protect against discriminatory network practices. Ed Markey introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009.” Markey’s smart.
“This bill would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to establish a national broadband Internet policy, including parental control features” – Ah! – “aspects of access, consumer choice competition, contact, discriminatory – the bill would direct the FCC” – now this is one of the issues. The FCC, some say, does not even have standing to do these regulations. So “this bill would direct the FCC to protect the Internet. To establish net neutrality rules. To codify and supplement existing Internet openness principles while maintaining the ability of ISPs to engage in a reasonable network management” – oh man. You’re seeing the sausage being made now, kids.
“Among other things, the proposed draft rules will prohibit Internet access providers from preventing its users for sending and receiving unlawful content over the Internet.” Of course, who decides whether it’s lawful, right?
“Prohibit Internet access providers from preventing users from connecting lawful devices and will require ISPs to treat lawful content applications and services in a non-discriminative manner.” What do you think? I mean I have to say…
Tom Merritt Senator Stevens lives.
Leo Laporte Yeah. Markey’s smart, though. Markey’s one of the few guys who I think really gets the Internet. But boy, I tell you. Every time I hear this idea of regulation, I get nervous. By the way…
Tom Merritt Well I hear…
Leo Laporte Go ahead.
Tom Merritt Sorry, Leo. These are the four principles that the FCC is using now…
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt …proposing – making a permanent policy. Entitlement to access the lawful Internet content of your choice. Entitlement to run applications and new services of your choice subject to the needs of law enforcement Entitlement to connect your choice of legal devices that do not harm the network, an entitlement to competition among network providers, application and service providers and content providers...
Leo Laporte Those seem fairly uncontroversial.
Tom Merritt ...as written. I think everybody is freaked out about what do they do next after that?
Leo Laporte It’s the camel’s nose in the tent.
Frank Bernanko I know that camel.
Tom Merritt I don’t think the FCC has nowhere else – anywhere else to go from there. I mean they’re not like this all seeing government organization that can do everything. Like when they probed into the – into Apple not approving Google Voice on the iPhone, I don’t really think they had the authority to do anything…
Leo Laporte They were just asking.
Tom Merritt Just curious.
Leo Laporte Here’s an interesting article somebody in the chat room has sent me. ‘Want 50 megabit internet in your town? Threaten to roll out your own.’ So…
Tom Merritt This was up in Minnesota, right?
Leo Laporte Monticello, Minnesota, TDS which is a regional telco is offering 50 megabit service over fiber optic cable. So they don’t have FioS but they can get this service from $50 a month for 50 megabits. So they’re – I don’t know if they’re a regional Bell or if they’re some sort of subsidiary, I’m not sure what they…
Tom Merritt Local telco or something? Yeah.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Tom Merritt But the idea was, they weren’t offering anything good. The city went and said, well we’re going to build our own fiber network, and the telco got upset…
Leo Laporte Oh.
Tom Merritt …sued them, said you don’t have – the government should not be allowed to build a telco network because that’s anti-competitive.
Leo Laporte Right.
Tom Merritt They went to court, dragged them through court long enough that they could get their actual fiber network up and running. The town won the court case, but by the time they got out of court…
Leo Laporte It was too late!
Tom Merritt …the telco had their own product out there.
Leo Laporte So the city probably will just say, okay, well, never mind. Right?
Tom Merritt Probably. At this point, they got the effect of what they wanted, which was, 50 megabit per second fiber.
Leo Laporte I see. Well that’s fascinating. Yeah, they won in the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Wil Harris Interestingly, I’ve beeen informed by a chap called Ross on my Twitter feed that it’s not a Hobson’s Choice, it’s a Morton’s Fork. Hobson’s Choice is two unpleasant decisions which lead to two equally bad but different outcomes.
Leo Laporte Okay.
Wil Harris Whereas Morton’s Fork is a choice between two unpleasant alternatives that lead to the same unpleasant conclusion, which is the exact opposite of the Buridan’s Ass, apparently.
Leo Laporte Who’s ass? Buridan’s Ass?
Wil Harris Buridan’s Ass, which is the paradox that if you put an ass between two equally sized bales of hay, it will starve to death because it can’t make a rational decision to do either.
Leo Laporte Fascinating. Who makes this crap up? It’s obviously a Brit, right? I mean who else?
Wil Harris In Horton’s Fork – the expression originates from a policy of tax collection devised by John Morton, Lord Chancellor of England in 1487, under the rule of Henry VII.
Tom Merritt Oh, it wasn’t Morton’s Fisherman then. Okay.
Leo Laporte Morton’s of Gloucester. Let’s take a break and just collect our thoughts about Buridan’s Ass, Morton’s Fork and Hobson’s Choice. What is it? Buriden?
Wil Harris Buridan’s Ass…
Leo Laporte How do you spell that? B-U-R-R-O…?
Wil Harris No, B-U-R-I-D-A-N.
Mark Milian Do we have an episode title?
Leo Laporte I think so. Buridan’s Ass, ladies and gentlemen.
Tom Merritt I think picking the episode title is a Buridan’s Ass.
Leo Laporte It’s going to get harder and harder, is what it’s going to get. All right, let’s take a break. We’re going to talk about Audible dot com, come back with more of our great panel. Mr. Wil Harris from the U.K. providing us with a little education here. Tom Merritt of Buzz Out Loud at CNET, always glad to have Tom on, he’ll be on again in a little bit with Roger Chang for East Meets West. Frank Barnako of Marketwatch fame and Barnako.com. And in the studio with me, Mark Milian, who is from the LA Times, the world’s youngest reporter. You are literally a cub reporter. You’re like Jimmy Olsen.
Mark Milian Yeah, it’s not as bad though as the connotation carries with that.
Leo Laporte No, I think it’s good. I think the LA Times said, if you’re going to cover social media and technology, you better get somebody under 30 to do it.
Mark Milian Right.
Leo Laporte Makes sense to me. The show brought to you by our good friends at Audible.com, A-U-D-I-B-L-E dot com. We were talking about The Copper Bracelet, that’s still available for TWiT listeners for $9.95, but I’m going to tell you how you can get any book free. But The Copper Bracelet deal, by the way, is – if you’re a member or not, doesn’t matter. Here’s for folks who are not yet members of Audible. I don’t know how you could possibly have managed not to become a member of Audible.com. But you’ve got to join Audible.com. A-U-D-I-B-L-E dot com. It’s the place to go to get your audiobooks. If you commute, if you go to the gym, if you spend any time in the day when you just can’t hold a book, because you’re busy, your arms, your hands are busy, Audible is such a wonderful solution.
I tell you, for years, Audible saved me. It allowed to listen to great literature. I’ve read hundreds of books on Audible when I had to commute. And you know, I still do! Because Audible is the most – to me, wonderful kind of entertainment.
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Have you been seeing the promos for this movie, The Men Who Stare At Goats? I cannot wait to see this. It might be a terrible movie, I don’t know, I just – it looks hysterical. It’s based on a novel by John Ronson. A Brit, I believe. Britain’s funniest and most insightful satirist reveals extraordinary military secrets at the core of Bush’s War on Terror. Have you ever read this, Wil Harris?
Wil Harris I haven’t.
Leo Laporte Do you know who Jon Ronson? Does this ring a bell, Jon Ronson?
Wil Harris I’m not educated enough to know this stuff.
Leo Laporte Let me play a little bit of this here. Oh, it’s got music. This must be the beginning.
[Trance / smooth techno music plays. Leo beatboxes along.]
Okay, we’ll have to skip that. That’s – they’ve obviously – they linked the wrong sound file.
Wil Harris It doesn’t sound very British.
Tom Merritt Do I need to put my glow stick away now?
Leo Laporte I think so. It was like being in a rave, wasn’t it? “In 1979, a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted military practice, and indeed, the laws of physics, they believe that a soldier” – this is true, by the way, this is not fiction. I mean the book is funny, but it’s true – “they believed a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them.” This is not a joke. The Men Who Stare At Goats, Jon Ronson.
But this is just one of many, many books you can get at Audible.com. That’s the thing about Audible, before I see a movie, I always listen to the book, because it’s like a movie in your head. Get two books free, go to Audible.com/twit2, and yes, The Copper Bracelet, still a great deal at Audible for $9.95. Audible.com/twit2. Please give them a try.
And by the way, works great with the Ford Sync, it’s so cool, I have the books on my iPhone, and I’ve linked the iPhone up with a Ford Sync, and – by Bluetooth. So when I get in the car, it starts the book, when I get out of the car it stops the book, and the next time I get in the car it picks it up where I left off. It’s like – spooky. Audible.com/twit2, we thank them for their support of This Week in Tech.
It’s so cool I have the books on my iPhone and I have linked the iPhone up with the Ford SYNC by Bluetooth, so when I get in the car it starts the book, when I get out of the car it stops the book. The next time I get in the car it picks it up where left off, it’s like space bookie. audible.com/twit2, we thank them for their support of This Week in Tech. So Skype, we were talking about Sype earlier. Skype, this has been a crazy story. eBay bought Skype for $3 billion but oops we left out one little piece you will only buy user – bought the user interface and the program and the name, in fact the intellectual property the way Skype works, you didn’t buy that. You didn’t get that.
Mark Milian Oh yeah.
Leo Laporte Oh yeah, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis must be the smartest guys in the world or eBay must have been the dumbest company in the world, because they kept it.
Tom Merritt Well, eBay had the license to it for a while but then they failed to renew it or something.
Leo Laporte That’s even dumber.
Wil Harris Yeah. You want to buy it. If you are paying a few billion for something you want to actually get what runs it, right?
Leo Laporte Like me buying the Mustang and I didn’t get the engine.
Tom Merritt You paid to license the engine and forgot to renew it.
Leo Laporte Oh I forgot the license – renew the license – oh we are going to take the engine now. You could keep the car, it’s pretty, it’s red.
Frank Barnako You are sure there was a lawyer in the room.
Leo Laporte Well eBay didn’t have a lawyer apparently. Anyway as Zennstrom and Friis sold or I am sorry Skype was sold by eBay 65% of it to an investment firm and then their – the lawsuit start flying. Actually it was a consortium of investors and one of the consortium – one of the groups had inside information from the eBay Board and eBay Chairman, I mean Skype Board and the Skype Chairman, you can see why I am getting confused.
Wil Harris Well I think a lot the problem was that the big in – one of the big investors in the consortium was Index Ventures.
Leo Laporte Right.
Wil Harris And Index had just appointed a new venture capitalist who was the chap that ran Joost for them…
Leo Laporte The Joost guy.
Wil Harris The Joost guy who the Skype founders had accused of massively defrauding Joost basically, and who was sacked.
Leo Laporte And then he goes on and says I am going to – I am going to buy Skype.
Wil Harris Yeah. So after being sacked from Joost by these two guys he then goes and joins the Board of Index Ventures and starts making – a part of this bid from Skype, so as part of this deal. He has had to bugger off.
Leo Laporte So now okay the lawsuits are flying on Friday, I am going to have to get you to explain this well, because I don’t – it’s beyond my – you were – weren’t you studying to be a solicitor?
Wil Harris Yeah, no, I technically could this stuff, it’s felt like I was, you know.
Leo Laporte You actually passed.
Wil Harris Allegedly.
Leo Laporte So this guy could be in the court but instead he is here, sorry. So the settlement according to this gives Skype ownership of critical software that had been licensed from Zennstrom and Friis, so – and it effectively ends their litigation. Those investors pulled out, Zennstrom and Friis get 14% in Skype and they agree to make a significant capital investment in it. Some of that billion that eBay gave them I guess, gets folded back in. so is Skype safe now, is everything okay? There was even a rumor that they were going to open source but then it turns out they are open sourcing the stuff, the red car; they’re keeping the engine closed source.
Wil Harris Well they’re using the engine to power the new car, right?
Tom Merritt So yeah, it sounds like it’s safe, it sounds like the new company will have the intellectual property and needs to operate Skype and I hopefully think that they license it better than eBay did and they will be a company that will be able to pursue Skype for itself rather than some sort of weird add-in for auctions.
Leo Laporte Crazy man. So tell me then what about the open source thing, well is that you are saying that – I don’t understand it. I am sorry. It’s too complicated.
Wil Harris I think issues that the – you know that guys that wrote Skype they did, Zennstrom and Friis, they basically created one core bit of technology which was this peer to peer.
Leo Laporte That we are using right now that works really well
Wil Harris That we are using right now. And they used that to power different things so that had Kazaa first and they used it for that, and then that got ditched and they used it for Skype, and then that got ditched and they used it for Joost.
Leo Laporte They used it for Joost, that’s right, yeah.
Wil Harris And they are using it for their new music service. So they’ve basically come up with one kind of technology and then used it to power four different startups worth collectively billions of dollars.
Leo Laporte These guys are smart.
Wil Harris Which is genius isn’t it? Absolutely genius.
Leo Laporte They are brilliant and now they get that so and they sell for three billion presumably they get to cut keep a lot of that, I am sure, they are investors, but I am sure they get a billion out of it or some. And now they get to buyback in and I mean they got to be living out on an island somewhere.
Wil Harris Yeah, so they sell it for three billion they have pocketed a chunk of it, it gets sold back and then in exchange – they did this clever deal where they didn’t sell the technology. But now they get 14% back again. So they are now another few hundred million in.
Leo Laporte All right. Does all this reflect badly at all on Meg Whitman.
Mark Milian Yes, she is kind of run Governor here and she was a part of this deal.
Leo Laporte She made the deal!
Wil Harris She looks like complete nincompoop doesn’t she really?
Leo Laporte Yeah. I mean I don’t know how much she had to do with the terms, but anybody, whoever was – oversaw that purchase obviously was not paying close attention.
Mark Milian She was CEO at the time, right?
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Mark Milian She definitely her pen to the paper.
Leo Laporte So Jerry Brown or whoever she ends up running against has a little bit of ammunition.
Mark Milian That would be a super entertaining TV-ad.
Leo Laporte But how can he explain it though? You know what is he going to say ‘well let me explain what happened under Meg Whitman’s…’ Can you see the hit ad? ‘Meg Whitman bought Skype, but left out the engine. Is she competent to rule California?’
Tom Merritt ‘She might buy Arizona but forget to license Phoenix!’
Leo Laporte ‘Do we really want Meg Whitman in the White House’, no I am sorry, I am confusing. All right now you really want to have your mind blown. This is in the New York Times, so it’s got to be true. You know the Hadron Collider, that – remember this is the thing…
Wil Harris [A drawn out intake of breath]
Leo Laporte Oh, you know where I am going with this, don’t you?
Wil Harris This is amazing; this is amazing.
Leo Laporte So this thing is – they are building it outside Geneva it’s basically a ginormous underground race track for subatomic particles, and they are really investigating the origins of the universe, the big band and they are looking for a very illusive particle that nobody has observed but has been hypothesized to exist called the Higgs Boson. And they are hoping they can prove the Higgs Boson with the supercollider, but man it’s been tough. I mean they were going to start last year and they had power problems or something. Just recently they had to shut the whole thing down; it was warming up and a bird dropped a baguette into it.
Mark Milian I love this.
Leo Laporte A bird dropped –I mean, come on. This thing must be very fragile. I thought it was underground. How could a bird…?
Tom Merritt Yes, well what I read, it was not running at the time. But a bird dropped a baguette on some vent or something and if it had been running it would have overheated and they would have had to shut it down.
Leo Laporte This is the equivalent of Luke Skywalker dropping a bomb in the Death Star right in the vent.
Tom Merritt How do you design something that a baguette can take out?
Leo Laporte The same guy – see, in the future, the same guy is going to design the Death Star. Well okay now but this is where it starts to get weird.
Tom Merritt The bird turned off its targeting system.
Leo Laporte Yeah, right exactly. He just went in; he used the force. I am going in. So, two very, very well known physicists, one of whom basically is credited with string theory. Holger Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto have written a paper called – for instance there actually is a series of papers, but one of them was called, Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal, or Search for Future Influence From LHC. Now you do the Sword and Laser podcast, Tom; this is worthy of the finest science fiction.
Tom Merritt Oh, yeah.
Leo Laporte They think the reason all of these things that have been happening to the LHC is because the Higgs Boson does not want to be discovered.
Tom Merritt That’s – it’s brilliant, isn’t it? Because the only way to do disprove it is to discover the Higgs Boson.
Leo Laporte Which you can’t.
Tom Merritt It might not happen. They think –
Leo Laporte Wouldn’t it be interesting if like – of course if they get this thing online tomorrow, then this paper is stupid, or is it?
Tom Merritt If – well, not just get it online, but have the collision and have the data and process it and discover evidence of the Higgs Boson; all that stuff has to happen. But, I mean, legitimately, it’s a theory, right? It’s something they can defend; they have got a peer reviewed article coming out about it. So, who is to say they are wrong? There’s weirder stuff in quantum mechanics, there’s you know – if you read any of the Richard Feynman stuff in quantum electrodynamics, you balance the equations by having electrons go back in time. So maybe, maybe the Higgs Boson just doesn’t want to found.
Leo Laporte In an email…
Tom Merritt And if you can’t find it, does that prove that it exist?
Leo Laporte Maybe. In an email Dr. Nielsen says it must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck.
Tom Merritt Well you can’t say it hasn’t had worse luck.
Leo Laporte He goes on – in an unpublished essay, he goes on to say, one could almost say we have a model for God and that God rather hates Higgs particles and attempts to avoid them. Have these guys got off the deep end or is this brilliant physics?
Mark Milian Both.
Frank Barnako Sounds very like job security.
Mark Milian When you come to that conclusion you should probably stop now.
Frank Barnako These guys will never be out of a job.
Leo Laporte I just like it. They have proposed a test – they want CERN, which is the other big physics operation, right. CERN is doing its own particle physics, right. They want CERN to engage in a game of chance, a card drawing exercise using perhaps a random number generator in order to discern bad luck from the future. If the outcome is sufficiently unlikely, say drawing one spade in a deck with 100 million hearts, the machine would either not run at all or only at low energies unlikely to find the Higgs. This is nuts.
Tom Merritt How does the card game work, again?
Leo Laporte I don’t know
Mark Milian It’s an episode of Scam School. I think.
Leo Laporte I think the idea is that they try to do something that would have a certain statistical probability and if something very improbable, almost infinitely improbable happens, then we know the future is fiddling with the present.
Tom Merritt But wouldn’t you have to tie the card drawing into the process of finding the Higgs particle somehow?
Leo Laporte I don’t know, I don’t know. The cat is both dead and alive. That’s all I can say.
Tom Merritt The Infinite Improbability Drive.
Leo Laporte Exactly. But The New York Times is saying these guys are respectable. They are not being laughed out of the academy for this. Einstein once wrote, for those of us who believe in physics, the separation between past, present and future, is merely an illusion.
Tom Merritt Yes, if they’ve got the math to back it up, I don’t have the chops to go and find out. But you can prove crazy stuffs like this with good, like Kung Fu.
Leo Laporte It’s craziness. Craziness, I love it though. And the Times ends with the story from Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan. Have you read that at Sword and Laser, that would be a good one to read?
Tom Merritt Yeah, we haven’t read that one yet.
Leo Laporte The theory being that the entire – all of human history is really just to help an alien get a small piece of metal the size of a beer can opener to his spaceship on Saturn’s moon so he can gp home. It all leads – it’s like the mice, it’s like 42, it’s like Douglas Adams.
Wil Harris It makes me feel like that scene in The Hitch Hiker's Guide where it’s like you know, ‘you have been rescued from certain death at an improbability level of two to the power of 260,199 to one against and falling.’
Leo Laporte Douglas Adams was right.
Wil Harris Bizarre.
Leo Laporte Very funny stuff, well.
Tom Merritt He predicted the PDA, I mean…
Leo Laporte That’s true. Did you see The Beatles – I was all excited. Beatles, you could buy an MP3 of The Beatles tunes on USB key. Not anymore.
Tom Merritt It is a week of freaky stories.
Leo Laporte This is a week of freaky story. Come on these guys, believe me. Judge John Walter of the U. S. District Court for Central District of California issues a temporary restraining order against a company called BlueBeat. Capitol Records which owns the rights to The Beatles recordings said, these guys can’t release this. The guys claim well, we’ve remixed it. It’s not really The Beatles music that we are releasing on here. It is a psycho-acoustic simulation. There’s no Higgs Bosons involved in this one. That’s the craziest defense ever.
Frank Barnako This guy, Hank Risan at BlueBeat, he’s been talking like this weirdly, since 2007. He wrote a piece back on Huffington Post that is almost authentic technological gibberish to quote Mel Brooks. He goes on – at that point, just two years ago he was concerned that streaming was the source of all piracy, and says he had invented some kind of possible streaming copyright protection which Microsoft broke.
Leo Laporte Oh boy.
Frank Barnako And so when he received a letter from the RIA it wasn’t his fault, it was Microsoft’s. He is way out there. There is one thought – one school of thought that this is all a publicity stunt for whatever he is going to do next.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Frank Barnako It’s –
Leo Laporte Well, I think he is going to invent cold fusion, I believe, as his next project.
Frank Barnako Maybe that –
Tom Merritt I heard a conspiracy theory that he was going to win in court with this defense and then be the only person who could sell a DRM that could stop psycho-acoustical simulations.
Leo Laporte Now that’s some money in there. There is got to be some money in that. All right, I want to – oh, boy, there is so much weird stuff, the woman who is going to broadcast her child’s birth live on the Internet; 23 year old Minnesota teacher. She has been blogging about her pregnancy on the social network. MomsLikeMe.com, will live broadcast the birth of her child online on MomsLikeMe.com.
Mark Milian Do not want.
Leo Laporte Do not watch. Do not want.
Tom Merritt Isn’t this old? Didn’t somebody do this like when we were on the screensavers in 1999, wasn’t it a big deal?
Leo Laporte It feels like that, yeah. But maybe – I don’t know. You know you have too much – you can watch every stage of the life cycle on the Internet now. There’s nothing that’s not – there’s nothing private. Are you guys excited about Call of Duty, what is it 5, Modern Warfare 2?
Wil Harris Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2
Leo Laporte Is it 4 or 5?
Wil Harris Well, technically it’s –
Leo Laporte It’s 4, part 2.
Mark Milian Changed the naming system.
Wil Harris It’s 4, part 2.
Leo Laporte It’s 4, part 2, yeah.
Wil Harris Yeah.
Leo Laporte Because Call of Duty 4 was Modern Warfare 1, so this would be 4, part 2.
Wil Harris It’s amazing. I saw it in my – it doesn’t come out till Tuesday, right?
Leo Laporte Tuesday, yup.
Wil Harris My local Game store had it running yesterday when I went in and I had a bit of a game on it. And it was absolutely immense.
Leo Laporte They’re using the same numbering scheme Windows 7 is using. It’s like –
Wil Harris Yeah.
Leo Laporte Make up a number, any number.
Wil Harris Call of Duty XP. It really seemed like they’d pushed the graphics to just like a new level. But…
Leo Laporte People are very excited. This has taken over from –
Wil Harris But it does have a terrible twist in the tale.
Leo Laporte Oh, it does?
Wil Harris Which not many people have picked up on yet but which is going to become a massive, massive news item next week.
Leo Laporte Oh, we have a scoop, ladies and gentlemen, right here. You are hearing it here first from Wil Harris. What is that, Wil?
Wil Harris Well, I don’t want to spoil it for anybody. So I won’t. But in very broad terms, the game is rated 18 and it’s the first Call of Duty games being rated 18. And it’s rated 18 for one particular scene in the game, which appears relatively early on.
Leo Laporte Is this in the mall?
Tom Merritt Bow chick a bow wow.
Leo Laporte It’s that, really? Is it that?
Tom Merritt I haven’t heard about this.
Wil Harris Particularly, in the light of what happened last week in the U.S. in the military base shootings, it’s going to be very controversial.
Leo Laporte Oh, that’s going to be very controversial if they do – that’s bad timing.
Wil Harris Yeah, very bad.
Leo Laporte Bad timing.
Wil Harris But it’s one those of things where you just think like after all the work that people have put into kind of make computer games kind of more socially acceptable and less kind of controversial, this is going to probably set us back like a decade or so, but.
Leo Laporte Oh, bad news, the woman had the baby already. You missed it.
Tom Merritt I am sure we can stream it on demand, right?
Mark Milian YouTube would not leave that online.
Leo Laporte Oh shoot. Oh, rats.
Tom Merritt Think of the kid too, right.
Leo Laporte Oh, yeah. Like he is going to grow up and there is going to be videos, home videos of him as a baby.
Wil Harris Ah, grim
Tom Merritt Pirated videos.
Leo Laporte Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is expected to be even bigger than Grand Theft Auto IV. Now the most successful movie of all time, the record for a movie release in the first weekend was The Dark Knight, 155 million. Take a guess, kids, on what they are saying Call of Duty is going to rack up in the first week of its release.
Wil Harris 500.
Leo Laporte You are right, very good.
Wil Harris Oh, result.
Leo Laporte You didn’t know ahead of time, you just made that up?
Wil Harris No, I just guessed it!
Leo Laporte You’re good.
Tom Merritt That was good.
Leo Laporte $0.5 billion in the first week, which would make it, if it happens, the biggest entertainment title launch of all time, $0.5 billion. No wonder they’re trying to write these games like crazy. PCs, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, it will be $60, goes on sale in the U.S. Midnight, Monday night, Tuesday morning.
Mark Milian The franchise is huge, it came out of nowhere.
Leo Laporte It is huge. Do you play it?
Mark Milian I played a little bit of the older Call of Duty.
Leo Laporte My son loves it.
Mark Milian It’s been around since the original PlayStation as far as I know. But Halo – it’s taken over Halo.
Leo Laporte Beat Halo, beat GTA, I mean this is the game. Nobody plays anything else.
Mark Milian Madden.
Leo Laporte Oh, you are a sports guy. Ah, you see, that’s different.
Mark Milian I think those are the two –
Leo Laporte That’s a genre of its own.
Mark Milian Right.
Frank Barnako Well, you know there were huge expectations for Grand Theft Auto the last time, the last issue. And it didn’t make those.
Leo Laporte Right.
Frank Barnako I wonder if that’s –
Leo Laporte So it could be – they could be wishful thinking at this point that they need the dough.
Frank Barnako Look at the economy, look at the sales for GameStop and look for the sales of video game anchors, they have not had good quarters, they’re finding weak demand locally by consumers.
Leo Laporte It’s really been down this year.
Frank Barnako I’d bet against a 5 – that number just sounds outrageous.
Leo Laporte We will be talking about it next week. It does sound outrageous, doesn’t it? It sure would be welcome to the game stores, the game manufacturers, the PCs and all of these people would be very happy.
Mark Milian I think the retailers need it most.
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Mark Milian They are banking on this huge. I have seen a lot of commercials for this.
Leo Laporte I know people just – I mean Paul Thurrott – what is, there must be something about this game because – it’s got to be highly addictive. Because I mean, it’s just a first person shooter as far as I can see but there must be something –
Mark Milian Those are some of the most addictive though. The online components especially with the heavy focus on voice chat, it’s like this is like –
Leo Laporte Right.
Mark Milian It brings gaming and social together. And this is how a lot of people spend their evenings. Just go home and talking to their clan and shooting up terrorists.
Leo Laporte Which makes it even more painful if ACTA becomes law. And we’re going to talk about that in just a moment. You might be banned from the Internet for life. Wouldn’t that be – that would be like – that’s draconian but if you are a Call of Duty fan, that’s like really bad.
Mark Milian Huge.
Leo Laporte Yeah, ‘I got to shoot against myself the rest of my life, what is the story there?’ I want to talk about that in a second but first I want to remind my friends about GoToMyPC. This is a great product we have talked about before. The folks at Citrix know remote access, they know how to do it so well. And if you’re spending time going back and forth to work, coming in early to get stuff done or staying late, you’re ruining your life, you’re ruining your family life. You’re sitting in traffic for no reason. Well, you could be listening to audible books but that’s another matter. Why don’t you – I’ll tell you, why don’t you take one day a week and work from home. You’d save 20% on your gas bill, 20% of the wear and tear in your car, 20% of the stress, and that’s the kind of thing GoToMyPC can do for you. You can have it installed on your work computer now. You can have it installed on any computer. Just go to gotomypc.com/twit. We put in on the, I think we put it on the TriCaster now. So I can remotely access the TriCaster if it should go down.
If you go to gotomypc.com/twit, you can try it free for 30 days. The installation will take you a couple of minutes. You will be up and running and ready to go and then wherever you are, at home, on the road, in an internet café, you have secure 128 bit access to your computer and you can use it just like you’re there. Full screen, run any program, access any network resource, drag and drop files from your office to your remote computer, send and receive email just like you’re there. Fast, real time, no wonder it keeps winning every year best remote access rewards from every major publisher. I mean this is the best. I want you to try free right now, gotomypc/com/twit, find out how easy it is to do remote access from the great folks at Citrix.
So you’ve heard about ACTA? Have you guys been following this one?
Tom Merritt Oh, yeah.
Leo Laporte This is a story. I was at the EFF thing as I mentioned on Tuesday, and they said that –I think it was CDT, the Center for Democracy & Technology and EPIC, I hope I’m not getting this wrong, but two of the big fighting for freedom on the Internet organizations agreed, signed an NDA so that they could see what the ACTA treaty, the anti-counterfeit treaty, contained. EFF said ‘we are not going to sign an NDA. If we find out something, we want to be able to tell people.’ Fortunately it’s kind of leaked out.
This is a treaty that – essentially big content in the U.S. Movies, TV, record industry are promoting worldwide. They know they can’t get this through Congress, so what they do is they make this a treaty that the U.S. agrees to and then the Congress has to ratify it and bingo, you got a law without ever going to a debate or going to the America people. It’s just the law by default.
Tom Merritt They can’t even get it through a worldwide public treaty like WIPO. It was part of those discussions at one point and it got blown away by public opinion. So they went and turned it into the secret thing in South Korea that nobody is allowed to know anything about because they know if people hear about it, they will get truly upset.
Leo Laporte Well, they’re going to hear about it right now from us.
Mark Milian This is absurd. There is even less support for this in other countries than there is in the government here.
Leo Laporte Well, this is that big – the boycott we did in New Zealand that everybody was saying, and I interviewed them and stuff. This is kind of part of it. They have tried this in Australia. France tried to pass something. They have dumbed it down a little bit. They’ve tried to get it through in Canada.
Mark Milian The RIAA is just looking for any absurd way to pass this overarching legislation without using the actual government.
Tom Merritt So what it does is it says any country that signs on to this treaty, and there’re a ton of countries that will sign on allegedly…
Leo Laporte Just because they want to be part of World Trade.
Tom Merritt They have a three strikes law, right?
Leo Laporte Yes; that’s what appalling about this. So here’s the deal. If you’re accused by one of the big content companies of piracy, accused, not convicted, merely accused three times; by law, your Internet service provider is supposed to pull the plug on you and say sorry you’re offline and circulate your name to all the other ISPs so they will no longer provide you with service, effectively banning you from the Internet for life without due process, without any right to appeal. You’re done. It just seems appalling. It seems anti-democratic. It’s seems just awful.
Mark Milian This is not going to get anywhere.
Leo Laporte Oh, but it might.
Tom Merritt No, well it couldn’t get anywhere in public. So they have gone and they have taken it private…
Leo Laporte Exactly, it’s secret.
Tom Merritt …and only this leak is actually getting some attention on it and it may not get anywhere now, but it’s frightening to think that they almost slipped it in because it looked like the treaty was going to pass as written. And it’s being tacked on to this other major treaty about counterfeiting, right, which is necessary. You want to have a treaty that everyone signs on to in the world and says we are going to work together to prevent counterfeiting of money and counterfeiting of goods and services and all of that.
But they are trying to slip this in as sort of an addendum to say ‘oh, well this is counterfeiting too, it’s counterfeiting your digital property.’ And what we were doing in effect is the world is saying we value the business model, of music and television and film, above anything else in the world because counterfeiting of money isn’t punished in the same level that being accused of trading some digital intellectual property is.
Leo Laporte It’s just appalling. The leaked document – now again the leaked document is not ratified, is not official, but this is just what they are trying to – they were trying to sneak through. I hope now with the sunshine that is coming out that maybe people will do something about this, but among other things it has a provision that forces Internet service providers to provide information about suspected copyright holders without a warrant. It forces – and by the way this would tie right into that Comcast thing because now all of a sudden these things are unlawful; you know, using BitTorrent becomes unlawful.
It also affects the border measures. And we’ve talked about ACTA before in terms of the border patrol. Customs or – I don’t even know if it’s customs, it’s like customs searching your laptop, not for child porn but for that song that you stole. Ex-officio searches of laptops, MP3 players players and cell phones for illegally downloaded or ripped music and movies.
Tom Merritt What, you have to show a receipt for every song on your phone?
Leo Laporte Yeah, I don’t know how they know. This is another one to write to your member of Congress or go to eff.org/action. They will help you write a letter and email to your relevant member of Congress. I mean it’s just…
Wil Harris There’s an interesting one that’s going through over here, I guess simultaneously, which is that the government has announced a similar kind of three strikes rule to take place from 2011 where if you are, quote, “caught” file sharing copyrighted material, you’ll get two warning letters and then you will be disconnected but they will apparently have a right of appeal. But it seems very wooly at the moment.
Leo Laporte Yeah, I think that’s what happened at France...
Wil Harris They have said that they are going to introduce these measures if there is not a 70% reduction in online file sharing by 2011. I was like well how on earth you are you going to measure that?
Leo Laporte Well I mean this just kind of begs for civil disobedience of some kind.
Tom Merritt File sharing is on the decline anyway. All the studies show that people are streaming more often than they are sharing files. So, they don’t need to try to discourage file sharing because file sharing isn’t the way people are going about these sorts of things anymore.
Leo Laporte Kudos to Michael Geist who is a Canadian professor, law professor who has really got a great blog; g-e-i-s-t if you Google Michael Geist you will find it. He was the one who leaked the provisions of this ACTA Treaty and he has been really arguing for public disclosure and I think that’s really the key to this. If this stuff goes through in secrecy then nobody has a chance to weigh in on it. And of course that’s what they want because they don’t want – they realize that people would be appalled.
Frank Barnako It just sounds incredible that the United States could be involved in such a thing. You alluded to it a minute ago, it sounds like let’s call it a global earmark on behalf of the content creators and the big media company and the companies in the U.S. What is it that is so important to the U.S. that they would slip something so antidemocratic, unfair, restrictive, contrary to freedom and history; it’s a big global earmark.
Leo Laporte Yeah, it’s shocking. I guess again, eff.org/action, this is one where you might want to write to your member of the Congress and say at least make this treaty public before you ratify it. Let us weigh in on this one because it’s just – it’s appalling. It’s shocking and if you want to play Call of Duty, you better vote for this,okay. That’s all I am saying.
Tom Merritt We are not, and I don’t think any of us are saying…
Leo Laporte We are not promoting piracy.
Tom Merritt We are not saying that you should go out and have the right to pirate. We’ve saying you should have to go in front of a court or some sort of impartial, what is it called, arbitration to prove allegations against you that you actually did infringe some copyright and then, even then I think you should just be fined. I don’t think getting your internet cut off is the solution. You don’t cut off people’s power and water and the internet may not be exactly at that same level yet but it is getting close.
Leo Laporte It’s very similar to that.
Mark Milian It seems like the RIAA just doesn’t really like this court system anymore. It hasn’t bean working out as well for them.
Leo Laporte Yeah, yeh.
Mark Milian And they’re like, ‘we could do this better; just ban them from the internet.’
Leo Laporte Just ban them. Just knock him off the – who needs the – that’s the problem, I think that the people who are promulgating this are old farts who don’t understand that putting somebody off the internet really is cutting off America at the knees. It’s cutting off our economy, it’s just appalling, I mean, that these guys have so much power.
Mark Milian It’s like taking someone’s telephone away or – it’s absurd.
Leo Laporte Worse. Hey, let’s talk about Zynga and Rapidup but I think this is an interesting story. The Times kind of missed the story, didn’t they?
Mark Milian The New York Times.
Leo Laporte Yes. Not the LA Times, they got the story.
Mark Milian Not the LA Times.
Leo Laporte The New York Times missed the story. Tell us what the story is Mark.
Mark Milian So, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has been following this issue with Zynga which is game company that does Mafia Wars and…
Leo Laporte We talked about it before and if fact I told everybody I was going jonesing on Farmville.
Mark Milian Big on Farmville.
Leo Laporte Yes. Giving up on the Farmville because was getting nothing done. They are very addictive casual games on your Facebook.
Mark Milian I used to play Mafia Wars but I realized I was killing so much time.
Leo Laporte Exactly, exactly.
Mark Milian I managed to avoid Farmville.
Leo Laporte But they make money on this. This is very clever; they make money in a couple of ways. And people are estimating that Zynga makes as much as 150 to 250 million a year.
Mark Milian And they are gearing up for that IPO, they want to go public.
Leo Laporte And the way they make money, a couple of ways is buying virtual goods with real money, but the thing that Facebook is getting – finally shutting down and the thing that Mike Arrington was so upset about was the scams.
Mark Milian He exposed them for running these ads which would basically point you to other sites that you would sign – they would ask you to just like sign up or subscribe to something and they say you can cancel it at anytime.
Leo Laporte I fell into this.
Mark Milian It’s the worst idea. This has actually been around for a while. I remember this like 5 or 6 years ago, for I think it was AllAdvantage, do you remember that? Something like that. So they are asking people to sign up for these throwaway subscriptions that nobody wants. And people’s cards are getting billed and they had no idea.
Leo Laporte So I’m playing Farmville and I want to buy some territory or something, I want to expand. And you need a lot of money to do it. And I am not going to give them real money. So it says but we will give you free money if you just click these links. And then you are clicking and clicking and clicking. They give you a quiz and then they say, oh, you want to know what your IQ is, or you want to know how you did on the quiz? Give us your cell phone; this is where a red flag went up for me, give us cell phone number and we’ll text you the answer.
And then by doing that – and then they – then you give them the cell phone number and then you agree to something, you are actually signing up for a subscription for something. A monthly subscription that’s going to cost you $10 a month.
Mark Milian They charge it to your phone bill.
Leo Laporte They just charge you through your bill. So Zynga…
Tom Merritt At least they asked for your cell phone number, unlike Storm8 which was just out there taking it in the apps.
Leo Laporte Oh man. So Zynga does actually own one of these companies. But Zynga says they are going to remove all offer advertisers from their game, thanks to attention from TechCrunch but also from Facebook which says we are going to ban this stuff. And we’ll see what happens.
Mark Milian Their CEO got thrown out.
Leo Laporte Pincus got thrown out?
Mark Milian No, no, no the old CEO.
Leo Laporte Oh, the old one.
Mark Milian Did you see the video, Arrington – arguing, he put it on his TechCrunch for us, it was actually pretty entertaining. He is just basically calling Zynga out.
Leo Laporte Does he say ‘screw you Mark Pinkus?’
Wil Harris I think that wasn’t Zynga, right. That was the company Offerpal.
Leo Laporte Offerpal.
Wil Harris That was providing those ads to Zynga. They act as like the kind of broker for the kind of scammy advertisers to the games companies.
Leo Laporte But Zynga owns or is an investor in the DoubleDing which is very similar – DoubleDing.
Wil Harris Sounds like something else entirely inappropriate doesn’t it?
Leo Laporte DoubleDing me baby – which is a similar offer provider like Offerpal. So I don’t know.
Tom Merritt Who would have thought that these would be the companies making the news?
Leo Laporte DoubleDing.
Tom Merritt DoubleDing, Offerpal, Zynga.
Leo Laporte I would. This is the kind of baby talk we’ve been doing for the last 20 – 15 years or something.
Mark Milian The hilarious follow-up on that Zynga thing was on Fake Steve Jobs calling out the New York Times for doing a piece on game company, Zynga makes money out of blah blah blah, not even mentioning this whole controversy between Zynga and TechCrunch that Facebook has addressed, Zynga has addressed, it’s on TechCrunch. Every other blog post.
Leo Laporte Mike called it ‘Scamville, The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell.’ I love it. Mike never one to miss an opportunity. The sound, I think, on the video is not so hot, so I won’t play it but you can go to his article and that came out on Halloween and read all about it. Anyways, it sounds like a little bit of progress but folks do as I did; take the pledge, no more Farmville.
Mark Milian You have stopped playing completely?
Leo Laporte I erased it because I couldn’t – every time I went to Facebook, I had to harvest my artichokes. And then I’d plant more artichokes! And I couldn’t – it was like…
Mark Milian There’s no end.
Leo Laporte There is no end! They keep pulling me in. So finally I just erased the damn thing. All right kids hey thank you so much being here, Frank Barnako.
Frank Barnako Thank you.
Leo Laporte Really appreciate the blog. It’s barnako.com and Frank we just really appreciate having you on, we will have you back soon.
Frank Barnako Great.
Leo Laporte Mr. Tom Merritt, you stick around. We are not done with you.
Tom Merritt Ain’t going anywhere.
Leo Laporte East Meets West is coming up soon. Tom is also of course the host of Buzz Out Loud at bol.cnet.com. What else are you doing these days? Anything else to plug?
Tom Merritt Yeah, I do the Real Deal. It’s a live call-in every Thursday at 4 p.m. Eastern.
Leo Laporte I love that. You do that with Brian, right?
Tom Merritt I do, actually I do that with Rafe Needleman now.
Leo Laporte Rafe, oh cool.
Tom Merritt And I do some how to and the top five videos and a few other things here and there over at Cnet.
Leo Laporte Ralph used to live with my wife.
Tom Merritt Yes, I know.
Leo Laporte Oh you know.
Tom Merritt Because you are quite proud of that apparently. This is the second or third time you’ve mentioned it.
Leo Laporte That’s my only connection to Rafe Needleman. He used to live with my wife. Well, good, stick around Tom. We are going to get to East Meets West in a bit. Wil Harris, you are the best, thank you for staying up late in the U.K. with us.
Wil Harris An absolute pleasure as always.
Leo Laporte Channelflip.com anything else to mention? You are doing great stuff with that.
Wil Harris twitter.com/wilharris.
Leo Laporte Oh yeah everybody, Wil Harris and Tom is acedtect.
Tom Merritt If you go to twitter.com/tommerritt, you can find my real Twitter ID.
Leo Laporte Oh that’s smart.
Tom Merritt I will make you work for it, sorry.
Leo Laporte That’s smart. Are you verified?
Tom Merritt No, I am not verified.
Leo Laporte Neither am I.
Tom Merritt Not big enough.
Leo Laporte Yeah, we don’t count. We are not Ashton Kutcher. Wil Harris, thank you so much. Thank you also Mark Milian from the Los Angeles Times.
Mark Milian Thank you, so happy to be here.
Leo Laporte Good to have you. Tell everybody in the newsroom hello from me.
Mark Milian Will do. So at latimes.com/tech and my personal blog, heyniceblog.com.
Leo Laporte Hey nice blog.
Mark Milian It was actually myfullname.com but I realized nobody knows how to spell it.
Leo Laporte That’s good. You know who owns hey.com?
Mark Milian I don’t.
Leo Laporte Dane Golden, our VP [ph] programming (1:36:16), has hey.com.
Mark Milian No way! That’s insane.
Leo Laporte Yeah! Isn’t that a great URL?
Wil Harris Surely he’s a millionaire by now then. What’s he still doing working for you?
Leo Laporte Obviously, he must – just do it for the love of it, I guess because it sure ain’t what I am paying him. I can tell you that right now.
Mark Milian He hasn’t blogged since last year though.
Leo Laporte Actually, it says service temporarily unavailable. He’s going to redesign it. He’s going to do a SquareSpace redesign, www.hey.com, I think we brought it down.
Mark Milian With the TWiT effect, yeah. It came on for a second and then…
Leo Laporte We killed it. Dane, you want to spend some of those millions you got for the URL on servers. We’ll move him over to our servers.
Hey, I want to ask a favor of everybody if you don’t mind podcast awards time again and we have been nominated at podcastawards.com in the people’s choice section, I’d love it if you vote for us. Many other TWiT other shows are also nominated in the categories of comedy, food and drink. I don’t think religion and inspiration. I could be wrong, technology and science. Please vote for your, vote your conscience, vote for your favorite at podcastawards.com. We can’t sweep them but we would like to have a few of them.
Wil Harris Leo, can I ask for one more favor?
Leo Laporte Yeah.
Wil Harris Where can I find the new TWiT videos?
Leo Laporte Well, they are still working on them. We will get them out there. I think the latest I have heard is November 16th. If you have a Roku Box, look for an update on Roku. We are doing video, we are doing video of this show and we are going to start putting them on iTunes very soon and on twit.tv very soon. TWiT video is hard, as you know Wil. God, it’s hard.
Wil Harris It is hard.
Leo Laporte It is hard. It is very difficult.
Frank Barnako Why is video so hard?
Leo Laporte Why is video hard? It’s harder than the Higgs Boson.
Wil Harris You get the TriCasters little bird, drops the baguette in the TriCaster.
Leo Laporte I think that what happened.
Tom Merritt That’s exactly what happened.
Leo Laporte I think it’s exactly what happened. Hey if we like conjured up a Higgs Boson, if we tried to make like a Higgs Boson here would this show be deleted from the future?
Wil Harris There are many reasons that this show may be deleted from the future Leo, but I don’t think that’s one of them.
Leo Laporte Well I thank [audio gap] you (1:38:24) for joining us on the TWiT network, we really appreciate it and don’t forget to use the tag, the hash tag, #syncmyridepodcast to enter in that contest. I see hundreds of people have already done so on Twitter, so that’s nice. Thank you very much. I am Leo Laporte. Thank you for being here, we will see you next time; another TWiT is in the can.
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