This Week in Tech 955 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

0:00:00 - Jason Howell
Coming up next on twit. This week in tech, I'm Jason Howell filling in for Leo LaPorte, who will return next week, so it's just one last time without Leo at the helm. We've got what actually is a pretty cool CNET reunion of sorts Tim Stephens, rich de Miro, a brahra he tea. I should mention Benito behind the board, also from CNET. We've got a lot of really cool stuff to talk about chat, gpt's One year birthday and my. Have we come so far in a single year when it comes to generative AI, apple's name drop feature and why it's not quite as controversial as people online seem to be making it out to be. Black Friday, cyber Monday, record sales. Where's the recession that everybody has been talking about? Tim Stephens breaks apart pinball machines and it kind of gives me a little bit of a panic attack and kiss says farewell by saying Hello to virtual avatars. That and so much more. Coming up next on this week in tech I. Podcasts you love from people you trust. This is twit.

This is twit this week in tech, episode 956, recorded Sunday, december 3rd 2023. A giant rolling brick. This episode of this week in tech is brought to you by zip recruiter. Good news If you're hiring, you've got help, zip recruiter. Zip recruiter works for you to find great candidates fast. It's smart technology, identifies qualified candidates for you and you can invite your top choices to apply. Try it for free at zip recruiter.

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It's time for twit this week in tech. And and one more week without Leo. I promise he returns this next week. In fact, I think he's already done with his week of no technology, but he's not back here. That's why you get me, jason howl, sitting in for Leo.

I don't get the opportunity to sit in on this week in tech very often, so I am very much looking forward to today's episode. Thank you for welcoming me into your podcast this week. Anyways, I am joined by a pretty awesome cast and when I started like booking this episode, it became clear what I needed to do pretty quickly, because everybody that's on the show I either works or has worked at CNET, including myself. I was there five years, and so was Tim Stevens, who is no longer with CNET now, of course, been been gone from Steven, from CNET for quite a while. But Tim Stevens dot substackcom. How you doing, tim? I'm doing great. Just how are you? I'm doing awesome. I'm so happy to have you on here. The nicest guy in tech. I do you ever get sick of hearing that, because I know that's like followed you around since?

0:03:44 - Tim Stevens
what was it a?

0:03:45 - Jason Howell
Forbes article or something like that, I think it was fortunate actually quite a lot.

0:03:49 - Tim Stevens
So, no, I feel very fortunate actually not to be too to puny there, but but no, I it was a great honor actually to be told that and I'm very happy to that. That's continued. I hope to live up to that. I try to you.

0:04:00 - Jason Howell
You always do. You're one of my favorites. I appreciate you being here, tim. It's really great to have you. Also joining me is our brah al-heeti, who actually works for CNET right now as a video host and producer and Just all around awesome person. A brah, it's really great to have you here today, thank you.

0:04:17 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Oh, great to be here. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be on with with Tim and to talk to rich for the first time and and to be on with you as well.

0:04:25 - Jason Howell
Yeah, yeah. Well, we, micah Sargent and I, have been doing tech news weekly for years and we started inviting you on to that show, and every time we invited you on like after the show, like Mike and I Would have our conversations about post-show and be like man, I love a brah, she is awesome, and so you know. We started to kind of figure out how we can get you more integrated, and so I love seeing that you're on this week in tech, so it's great to have you part of this family too.

0:04:51 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I'm very touched by that. I love you both so much. Thank you for having me.

0:04:54 - Jason Howell
Thank you for being here and, of course, you did allude to our final guest, which is rich. Demiro is so great to see you, rich. It's been a while.

0:05:02 - Rich DeMuro
Hey, thanks for having me, jason, good to see you as well.

0:05:05 - Jason Howell
That's right. Tech reporter at KTLA morning news. Host of rich on tech radio show now rich on tech radio show. Once upon a time that was that was Leo's radio show, right, and then that now has the new name and and everything. I was like I and it's been going great.

0:05:23 - Rich DeMuro
It's been almost a year which I cannot leave, but the the listeners have been great. You know a lot of them have welcomed me with open arms. I get a lot of comparisons to Leo every single week.

0:05:36 - Jason Howell
He did the show for a very long time, yeah.

0:05:39 - Rich DeMuro
Yes, for a very long time. So I understand that, but it's been a lot of fun and, honestly, I never did radio before and it is Incredibly fun. It really truly is very different from TV.

0:05:50 - Jason Howell
Oh, for sure, for sure. It's got to also be a challenge knowing that every time you sit down to do that show you are going to get a host of questions at least I'm assuming you're gonna get a host of questions about technology that you don't necessarily have a lot of insight into what those questions are Prior to doing the show.

0:06:08 - Rich DeMuro
Right, because it's all done live, yeah yeah, I mean it's it's live callers and, honestly, doing the show has been so much fun because if I get stumped on something I am so excited to try to like go home and figure it out. I'm like now I need to know exactly how this is done or why this is happening to people, and so it's kind of like expanded you know my Technology, because I'm just hearing stuff that like I wouldn't typically think about, like never thought about that kind of problem.

0:06:36 - Jason Howell
Yeah, I could see. I could see the Thinking about putting myself in that situation would be uncomfortable. It's like, oh what? What about all the things that I don't know? Like I would hate to be put in a position where somebody asked me a question, I don't have an answer for them. But then it's an opportunity to really kind of broaden your knowledge about all these things and, yeah, become even more expert than you already are.

0:06:56 - Rich DeMuro
I Made the decision early on to not feel stupid when I don't know an answer, because, yeah, I've always explained this to people in the past. Tech people do not have the answer to everything. Tech people just know how to find the answer.

There is the difference between someone that really loves technology is that they will dive in and figure out how something works, and I think that's the big difference is that I'm not trying to pretend that I have every answer in the entire world I don't, but I will take that journey with you to find the answer and I'll figure out how to do it. I love it.

0:07:28 - Jason Howell
I love it and definitely mirrors my experience with podcasting. There was a long time where I thought, if I'm gonna be on podcast, I should really know everything about the thing that I'm talking about, which, of course, is kind of impossible to know everything about everything. At a certain point I had to kind of make Make friends with the idea that, like you know what, there's a lot that I don't know, that I won't know, and it's actually For me the better approach to just like go on that journey to discover the thing I don't know and learn more about it with the people who are listening and watching. So and yeah yeah, that's great.

Well, it's great to have you here, rich, it's great to have all three of you here, and we have some really cool stuff to talk about this week. Why don't we start by Wishing chat GPT a happy birthday? It turned one still wearing diapers, but it turned one. I think it was on Thursday, yeah, the 30th of November. Can you believe how far we've come with this stuff in a single year? Like that is really kind of crazy. This has been a really crazy year for technology and chat GPT really. You know what? Whether people love or hate, it really kind of seems to be the poster child for this current wave of the technology paradigm shifting. What do you? What has been? I don't know, tim, let's start. Start with you. What has been your experience with some of these tools and have you been working with chat GPT and do you think, you know, do you think all this energy around it is is worthy of it?

0:08:58 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, it's pretty remarkable how far we've come in just this year and the the impact that that chat, gpt and other you know Especially language model technologies have had on so many different economies in the world in just that year. You know the number of companies that have been upended, the number of you know hiring freezes and and you know layoffs that have been announced as people are trying to really leverage these sorts of models in their businesses. It's pretty remarkable that we're only 12 months in. But yeah, as far as you know, on the daily basis that kind of thing. I mean I'm using the search plugins and that kind of thing more as a just to see how they're evolving.

But for my business, the only time that I've really Used AI myself, you know as a freelance writer is to help me sometimes when it comes to research. I don't really trust these models to provide any information that I ever want to write, but I do trust them to help me find sources for information. So kind of like going to the librarian and asking you know what sort of things should I be reading if I want to learn about this technology or that technology? I found some interesting academic journals and that kind of thing through chat, gpt and through other services like that that I probably Wouldn't have been able to find as easily without them. So that kind of thing is useful, but but we're still, I think, a really long way for me to be able to rely on those services to actually, you know, and generate any actual content that I would feel comfortable including in any way or even providing me any information that I would feel comfortable using, without doing, you know, my own fact-checking and that kind of thing.

0:10:21 - Jason Howell
Yeah, the fact-checking is essential as, as we know, these things do not spit out Absolute facts, although they're very convinced that what they're spitting out is correct, or or they probably aren't even convinced of anything because they're not human beings. They're spitting out the next real, the next word that they think is the right word, based on you know, the information that's been fed into them, and you do have to scrutinize that. A bra has had these tools Kind of made their way into any part of your process in doing what you do professionally or even personally. I mean, these things can be used for everything.

0:10:57 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I Feel like I'm being stubborn just because I'm like you know, I'm intrigued but cautious about this technology, and so I haven't necessarily felt compelled to use it in my everyday life. I've I've played with it just to understand it, but I haven't used it for anything. Actually, you know, that could be helpful to me. Just yet I don't know how long I'll be able to hold off, just because it's gonna be everywhere. And I feel like it's kind of turned into this meme where every tech company, every time they have an event, it's count how many times they say AI, because it's all anyone's thinking about, so it's not going anywhere. So I'm kind of figuring out what my relationship with these kinds of platforms should look like.

0:11:36 - Jason Howell
Mm-hmm, what about you rich? I'm super curious, yeah.

0:11:41 - Rich DeMuro
I have gone a hundred percent full in. I pay the 20 bucks a month for chat GBT. I've got a tab open on my computer at all times with multiple chat GBTs. I've built my own, actually did something kind of cool, so I took all of the transcripts from my radio show and I I programmed them into a GPT and so I can ask my own GPT what I've said about a topic. I mean it's, it's literally like my brain on a computer. Now, it's not very good right now, like they're definitely having some, you know, like sometimes it'll get the answer right and other times it just won't even come up with the answer. Same question, right, so it's not there just yet.

But, um, you know, when it comes to professional and personal like, I am using this like for everything For my professional world. I mean, I get an interview, I transcribe it using AI. I'll have AI kind of pick out the, the highlights as my notes for that interview forever, in addition to what's in my brain. I don't use it to write things, obviously, because that's, you know, that's kind of like I can't really trust it to do that. But headlines, instagram captions, pretty much anything. Where I want a creative partner on something, I will pull it, and you know you can't necessarily use what it comes up with immediately, yeah, but it just it gets. It's almost like this, just creative friend. It's like a writer's room at, like a TV show. You know, it's like you have a bunch of people saying stuff and it's just giving you all this stuff all the time. You're like, huh, okay, that's interesting. And so I've got it on my phone, I've got the app. I it's just great. I really am so impressed with the Variety of things I find to do with it.

0:13:17 - Jason Howell
You know, travel and shopping and ideas, just everything and the more you use it, are you finding your? You're developing different skills around how to use it more effectively, how to trust what you're actually getting or what, what deserves more scrutiny and everything. Like I, like I remember Kind of throughout this year it feels like longer because so much has happened in a year around you know, generative AI and everything. But I remember in the beginning hearing about it and feeling like the mountain was too steep for me to get involved, like I, like I had some hesitation initially in Actually using the tools. It's like I don't want God, am I, am I really, you know, going to learn this new thing?

You know, it may be a little bit of self doubt or whatever, but then once I started actually using it and interacting with it, I started to realize oh well, wait a minute, this isn't really that difficult, but it does require a certain skill set, not a, not really a syntax necessarily, but a certain way of thinking about how I communicate with this computer, with this algorithm, in order to get the things that I want. And so I guess it is a certain type of syntax, but I certainly recognize, you know, as with everything, I suppose the more I use it, the more I understand about it, the easier it becomes. And then at a certain point it's like the playing field starts to open up and I was like, wait a minute, now that I kind of understand how to do it with these very like few, minimal things. Now that's when the imagination starts happening. It's like wait a minute, I could use it for so many other Things. I just have to figure out how to ask the right question. You know, the English is the programming language.

0:14:54 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, that is a tricky part. I think the syntax is and I don't have a very good like idea of like okay, let me. So I have a couple of things I will ask as like basis. But I think the other beauty of it is the back and forth. So, for instance, you know, my company sent me like hey, here's all the changes to your 401k next year, and it's like 37 pages. I take that PDF, I just threw it into chat GBT. I said, hey, what are the main things I need to know here? And then it was like you know, you can just go back and forth and what's changed from last year or what's different or is there any red flags here? I mean, it's just you're almost just asking, kind of like the smartest person that you know, using their base of knowledge, like they've seen a bunch of these PDFs floating around the internet that they've somehow scanned and kind of categorized.

0:15:39 - Jason Howell
But I think when you take it to that next level, like you're talking, when you do have the exact way to ask things I have not gotten to that level, but that is a skill for sure- yeah, I don't know that I'm necessarily at that, that that level, either, but it's certainly something that I understand more the importance or kind of what you might be able to do, as as those skills you know progress and improve over time.

Yeah, one year, imagine Imagine what we'll see in five. It's really kind of remarkable kind of how quickly this has taken over the other things we were getting excited about, or some people were getting excited about things like you know, the metaverse and, of course, crypto and everything. Does this feel different to you, tim? Like where do you stand? Like you're not relying on these services necessarily right now. So I'm actually really curious for both you and a bra. To a certain degree, that means that you're a bit removed from kind of the the hypey Quality of these tools, because once you start using them, in my experience, you can get really excited about the possibilities. Do you believe that this kind of moment with generative AI, a year in From the birth of open AI, is different than what we've seen in other hype cycles around things like, you know, crypto and blockchain and that sort of stuff?

0:17:01 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, I definitely think so, and I think the main reason is that, you know, with crypto or with the metaverse or with All of the technologies like that, there has to be a big Period of explaining why this is beneficial for you, and in a lot of cases that's still happening. You know, I would still need to explain to a layperson why they should care about crypto and the honest answer is they probably shouldn't, they don't really need to. Same thing with the metaverse. The metaverse is not really changing anyone's life yet. It's more about if you adopt this technology. Maybe down the road it'll change your life, but right now it's never really doing much for anybody and from you know a serious productivity standpoint. So when we talk about you know, large language models and things like that and we talk about with the sort of Services that Rich was talking about or that I've been using for research and I forget to mention I've also used them for generating, like simple legal contracts and things like that. That's a Really tangible Immediate benefit that I could have right now and it doesn't take more than five minutes to show somebody. Here's how you use this thing and they can immediately kind of get it, whereas those other technologies require explanation, they require some nuance and ultimately, they often require some sort of financial investment, whereas chat, gbt is free to go play with anyway. So I think it's a lot easier for people to understand, but I think it's also easy for people to then make that leap that.

You know, this is so great and it kind of came out of nowhere in the eyes of most people, and so therefore, the expectation is that, well, if it went from zero to one hundred in twelve months, you know what's it going to be like in another twelve months, and for sure I think we should expect, you know, continued levels of improvement, things getting more and more interesting and exciting.

But ultimately, as we've seen with AI learning for Since the inception, since you know, back in the days of list programming and things like that, it's really easy to get to that impressive point.

But to go from impressive to bulletproof is a massive task, and that's kind of where we're at right now, which is kind of, I think, what you're saying rich, where it's really really good but it's not quite reliable to the point where you can kind of depend on it, where you would really want to run your life on it, that that kind of thing, but it is really Impressive and you can absolutely see that potential and you can also see the the kind of the negative implications as well. I mean the fact that the the sag strikes this year, that AI was to major topic In those discussions back and forth. It's pretty amazing because if that had happened 12 months ago, 24 months ago, I don't think that would have been even on anybody's radar, and that to me, I think, speaks to just how how widespread the understanding of this is Versus something like cryptos and tokens and things like that.

0:19:28 - Jason Howell
Yeah, they are. They are very different. The cryptos that you know, the, the block chains, all that stuff is. It's obvious, that's that some people have had such a deep understanding of it that they can kind of conceptualize what that can lead to. Yet the everyday person of which, by the way, I include myself as well like I love technology, I do technology podcast, but am I hard on like an everyday technology user to a certain degree, and when I look at what these AI Tools are capable of, it's really easy for me to look into it and go, okay, I can.

I can list off 10 ways right now off the top of my head that I could use these things to make my work a little bit easier, to take the pressure off of, you know, finding, finding the, the perfect gift for someone when I'm totally out of ideas or any number of things. It's easy for me to draw a connection between those tools to To something in my life, and I think that what that was a challenge, largely when we're talking about crypto and blockchain and everything. Sure, you're telling me it's a really big deal, but I have a hard time conceptualizing that and really understanding that. But I can hear and that makes it feel like a bigger deal to me. What do you think about that? A bra Like between the differences between some of these past hypes and where we're at right now. Does that have you feeling any any difference about where, where AI is headed?

0:20:55 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, I fully agree with what Tim said, because it feels like I've been thinking a lot about what this shift that we've seen with meta, for example, with talking about the metaverse, for the longest time.

They were touting it as where we all wanted to be and we didn't understand why, and we still don't fully understand why, especially when we we are already. You know, the screen fatigue is zoom fatigue, all of it's so real. So why would I want to be in a virtual world with people? And so I think, with with generative AI, it's, it's clear. It's not only clear what the benefit is, but it's also so accessible and it's, I mean, I think, the closest thing that I could think of. And this isn't a direct parallel, but think of the way social media changed the world, where you can create a free account and you can interact with people in a whole new way, and that was, that was, a very strong, sudden shift. And this is a very strong, sudden shift that is accessible and meaningful and We'll only continue to shape the ways that we act and and interact with each other.

0:21:53 - Jason Howell
Yeah, yeah indeed. Well, we're talking all about chat, gpt, and of course that is an open AI product and it's kind of hard to not Jump right into, you know. So there's some of the craziness that we were all following just a couple of weeks ago, that one weekend, man, that was. That was a crazy weekend when Sam Altman was, you know, fired from open AI, then hired at Microsoft and now back at open AI, which none of that is really news. As of the past week although late this week it was was kind of like the official Altman is back announcement and Altman, you know, sam Altman making kind of comments Publicly about how that all went down. Kind of the changes of the board there's a new board now Brett Taylor, larry Summers, the only surviving board member that remains. There is Coro CEO, adam D'Angelo, and then Microsoft now has a non voting observer role in the board and so that you know, imagine that means that there's, you know they're had the ability to avoid some additional regulatory scrutiny and in the regards to that, but they say they're commissioning an independent investigation to take a look into the events that took place.

My question for anyone who chooses to take it and run with it is is the impact of this event and and the the impact that this has on the board. We have this basically, for the most part, a new board, with Microsoft kind of in more of a Position of influence than they already were. They were pretty influential, I'd say, to open AI already. They're now kind of more closely intertwined. What, what do we what? How do we feel about what this means for open AI going forward? I know Sam Altman has also made some comments, like you know, we're, we're bigger and better than ever typical CEO speak, but but I think he really means it when it comes to this event being kind of a super charge power for him and Likely his vision for what the company needs to be. And now, with this new board in place, what do you all think as far as what we can expect from open AI moving forward, considering all this craziness?

0:24:11 - Tim Stevens
It's really hard to know. I mean, I think you know the big tensions, at least reportedly, were to do with profit and and the you know, the safety of these technologies and are we moving too quickly and things like that? That's, that's my understanding of why a lot of this came down as it did and ultimately my understanding is that it was the board's role to kind of pump the brakes on things, and so it is pretty clear that their attempt at pumping the brakes in a rather dramatic way was completely Overturned, and so that makes me a little bit concerned about you know who is who's watching the watchmen?

not exactly, but I mean, you know who's gonna make sure that this technology is safe? Because it was ultimately the board's Role to ignore profits and to ensure that this technology is being deployed in in a way that we can all be comfortable with. With that out of the picture now and with Microsoft stepping in as well. You know Microsoft's. I don't believe that Microsoft is evil in any way, but certainly they are a corporation and they want to make money, and so is that now the interest of the board? Is that now the prime directive of the board? That's? That's my big question that I haven't found a good answer to. Maybe, obviously, I'll have heard more on that front, but that's what I'm thinking of right now. That's what I'm a little bit worried about as we come out of this. Yeah, really see no way this hasn't emboldened.

0:25:22 - Abrar Al-Heeti
You know, Sam Altman and and the employees who were so vocal about you know how against this they were. So it's kind of like they have this, this extra fire lit under them to just kind of keep pushing for whatever's coming next. I don't know, but I don't know what that is.

0:25:37 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It really solidified the fact that Sam Altman is is chat, gbt is open AI and no matter what, whether that company I mean, I think it shows me two things. Number one that company is Almost like it was very fragile as an organization for this to happen. So that's that's concerning Especially for a company that has probably the most important product of the past five years, and so that's interesting. But it just goes to show that Sam is the superstar here.

He is the, the foundation of this technology, he's the visionary, and you know we're starting to see this more and more in tech, where it's like these sort of like outspoken individuals Not that he's outspoken, but it's like the it used to be. You know, a technology company like Microsoft, you know maybe a new Bill Gates, right, and it's like that's it and it's just it's becoming more and more where, like, these tech superstars are the superstars themselves and the tech is kind of Intertwined with them. And that's what we're seeing happen here with him, and you know, if he would have left that company and started his own thing, it would have really had some major implications. So I think they kind of really saved a bad thing from happening by having him back at that company.

0:26:56 - Jason Howell
Yeah, even if he had left and gone to work for Microsoft, which was, you know, for a first, a short moment in time, the thing that was happening.

It's just kind of crazy to me that the announcement was made and yet things still kind of ended up reverting Back to normal, because in the moment it seemed pretty real and I remember everybody you know hit in Twitter and everything basically saying Sasha is a genius, which he is, he's a very, very smart man. But I think in the end there was a New Yorker piece that I read that Really shed some light on the fact that the board Well, that Sasha really didn't want any of this to happen. And bringing Altman and the avalanche of employees from open AI that were willing which was like most of them, that were willing to follow him over there as much on the outside as that may have Seemed like a big, a huge, huge win for Microsoft, would have been an insane challenge for them to pull that off quickly. Sacha really you know, according to this piece, really wanted to kind of keep things the way they were for his interaction with the company.

0:28:03 - Rich DeMuro
Let's be honest he was protecting a major investment through this company. Absolutely, and he did not want to look silly if it did not work out, and so I don't think Sam Altman would have survived at Microsoft. There's just no way.

0:28:15 - Jason Howell
I wondered how that would go to Completely agree.

0:28:18 - Rich DeMuro
And all these employees, like they're going to absorb 700 employees or whatever you know. However, I mean it, just all of it was to sort of, you know, they were probably trying to figure out what they were going to do to save open AI as a company and keep it with Sam in place, and I think that was just kind of the stop gap, like, hey, everything's gonna be fine, we're going to absorb all this. But they knew what they were really, what the goal was, which was to, you know, steer the board in their direction and, you know, make everything okay again.

0:28:46 - Jason Howell
Yeah, so, yeah, so super interesting kind of developments over time. There was also the mention of Q star, which is, you know, some people were saying, possibly a some sort of a breakthrough towards artificial general intelligence, if you believe that's a possibility. It had been leaked as a part of potentially a part of the reason for Altman's ouster, but I guess it's since been debunked. In fact, altman acknowledged the existence of Q stars, calling it an unfortunate leak. That was in an interview just this last week. So apparently not that exactly, but I think that I think it's going to be really interesting to get a clearer sense of exactly why, if we will ever know I mean, maybe we won't ever know exactly why he was he was fired in such an unprecedented way, but I can't imagine we won't get you know, get the story at some point. It's just too big, the implications are too big to not get that eventually.

0:29:52 - Abrar Al-Heeti
We'll have to wait for the showtime special in 20 years, I think.

0:29:55 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah right, the Isaacson book, the showtime show it's all human actors in the showtime show?

0:30:04 - Tim Stevens
No, yeah.

0:30:05 - Jason Howell
Well, that's the thing, Like you know now. Now, Hollywood, by that point, you're just firing up a machine and telling it this is the movie I want. It just makes it right. Yeah, it's totally.

0:30:15 - Tim Stevens
And you won't even have to worry about getting actors that kind of look like the people, because you can just have a generated movie that looks exactly like the people because it's been fed images of the actual people. There we go. Raise some interesting rights questions, but but should make for some interesting filmmaking.

0:30:29 - Jason Howell
Yeah, yeah, I'm both curious and terrified, because there's a part of me that's like you know what, like I want to see a motion picture that's created in this way. I'd be super curious to see what that would turn into. But I also don't want the current you know the art that is filmmaking and the way it is right now to go completely away because of that technology. So I don't know what I want. When it comes to that, I'm intrigued. It actually reminds me. Yeah, I do.

0:31:00 - Tim Stevens
I think we've all seen, you know, the TikTok shorts and things like that of the, you know, like the Star Wars in the Middle Ages and things like that and all the amazing concepts and they make for great, you know, 30 to 90 second clips, but the idea of something like that being drawn out to two and a half hours right now doesn't really seem feasible.

But honestly, you know, I think that the overall aesthetic of AI, the way that images shift and the kind of kind of almost mind altering appearance of one of these things, I wouldn't be surprised if that becomes kind of an almost an aesthetic that even some filmmakers try to replicate, because it is an interesting visual effect and it's the kind of thing that you could see people resonating with and wanting to capitalize on, even if they're creating films by hand. So I'm interested to see what filmmakers do with this technology going forward, even if they are still, you know, holding the reins and making sure that the ultimate product is what they want. These tools, I think, could really result in some interesting filmmaking going forward and then in the real near future. Yeah.

0:31:54 - Jason Howell
Well, we're already starting to see some real progress in this front, tangentially related, but definitely related to what you were just talking about.

I have it a little bit later in the run, we'll talk about it right now Pica 1.0, which is a video generation, ai generation system that launched after six months in beta and basically it's all about creating high quality video out of text. And there is actually a video if you scroll down. I can't remember if that article, the TechCrunch article, has some video, but anyways, the clips that are coming out of this thing, you know they're like three to six second clips that it's possible to create with this, and I mean, in some ways they you know, certain clips end up kind of rivaling, at least to some degree, what you could expect to see from like a Pixar cartoon or something along those lines. And then I did, benito, put down below that article a little Twitter thread. Yeah, that's from the TechCrunch article. I think that's direct from Pica Labs, and TechCrunch, I think, does some weird kind of dithering, so it doesn't look. I was going to say because it.

0:33:05 - Rich DeMuro
they did not look very good from what I saw, but I saw a whole bunch of people tweeting them and the tweets were pretty clear, but the ones that were embedded in that TechCrunch article I was like, yeah, this is the future. It is not very good.

No, it's like it almost. It just looked like a really bad, like animation or something. So I but I do. I do think this, this idea of creation with video, is the next frontier, and we've seen the pictures that Dolly and a stable diffusion all these different services are creating. So video is kind of like that holy grail and if you can make a, you know. I mean, we're going to see a whole bunch of short form content that just relies on this and it's going to get better and better and it's going to, it's going to inform a whole nother generation of people with these TikTok videos and stuff. So, just like we have the AI voice, we have AI pictures, and now it's just going to be video too. Yeah, yeah.

0:34:00 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Or better or for worse. Yeah, and a lot of social media sites. I think I believe YouTube shorts and TikTok have disclaimers on videos that are used with generative AI, because it's just going to keep popping up in things and it's as it gets better. It's going to be harder to tell what you know used AI and what didn't.

0:34:19 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, but I'm sure you've been in the in the you know edit situation, where you're you need a clip of something. You know, Like you're editing something I need I need a video of someone just putting something in the mailbox, you know, obviously very dated something that you would need, but you know what I mean. But you know, and you're just like, where do I get that clip from? And it's just, you know, you type it into a, into a generator, and you get that clip and it may be part of a bigger video that you're doing, but it's, you know, it's just one of these things that we're going to take it for granted a year or two from now that you can just do that. And it's pretty wild. How do you say this, Pica, or?

0:34:56 - Jason Howell
Pica? I don't. I honestly I don't know. I've been saying Pica, but it could be Pica, yeah. But I mean, look at the video that's generated here Now. Granted, this is their promotional video, they're going to pull out the best of the best. But I mean, if these things were conceptualized, text to image, or even if it was just. You know, in some cases they talk about how you could like draw an outline and turn that into an actual animated image. But this is pretty, pretty remarkable stuff.

0:35:23 - Rich DeMuro
It looks pretty incredible.

0:35:25 - Jason Howell
And this is where my mind starts going going bonkers about this stuff is to think that, you know, touching back on our very first story, to think that one year ago, the generative AI kind of movement as we've come to know it in you know, 365 days, began with chat, gpt, and I'm just I'm floored at the progress that we've seen in real time in 365 days to where we are now using these tools. Well, I'm not using these tools to do this, but someone is using these tools to create pretty darn convincing video from text that looks like that A year in it. Just it blows me away where we're at and where we're going. I don't know, maybe maybe I'm too too hyped about this stuff, but the more I see, the more interested and intrigued I am to see where it leads. That's right.

0:36:15 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I just want to keep my job, that's all. Well, yeah.

0:36:19 - Jason Howell
I mean, that is the real big concern, right, because the more we see examples of this, the easier it is to, you know, consider like okay, well, what does it actually mean? Like okay, great, we've got this animated video, but that used to require a certain set of skills. That, at least for people who don't have those skills, they don't necessarily have to hire it out anymore, maybe that is good enough, but would those people have paid for that? I don't know A lot, really undetermined right now, about what the impact of all of this is, and it's interesting to watch.

Yes, both can be true, yes, both are true for me. But, yeah, interesting stuff. All right, let's take a break and then we'll get back into more. I don't want to spend the whole show on AI. It's kind of hard because the news, the flood of news, so frequently involves AI. But Amazon, how to big announce when we can talk about that, and then we can get into a little block that I have in here that's touching on some of the stories that each of y'all have some involvement with, because this is a cool little block that we have together. That kind of came together during the setup of the show. So it's really great to have all three of you Tim Stevens, abraha Hiti, rich DeMiro y'all are great and I just really appreciate you being here with me today while I'm sitting in for Leo.

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I thank them for their support of this week in tech. All right, one more, at least in the top of the fold AI stories. I'm sure there's other stuff throughout here, but then we can kind of take a reprieve from AI for a little bit. But I do think that it's important to mention that Amazon held an event this week. It was the re-invent conference in Las Vegas.

Really AI focused, new AI chips, as all these companies seem to be doing right now, which is interesting for other companies like Intel and others that are used to providing these chips Amazon creating its own AI chips for faster, better performance, energy efficiency, all that kind of stuff but they also introduced their own chatbot Design for Business. They're calling it Amazon Q, and I've already spent my time on a couple of other shows over the last week ridiculing this constant need for big tech to pick the letter Q as their one letter name for their products. I don't know why that letter. I mean I know why because it's basically based on question, but still, it just seems like a weird letter to choose in this year. But anyways, all about customizing these chatbots for your business, which is similar to rich.

Earlier, you were talking about setting up your GPTs for very specific experiences and very specific purposes. This is kind of the same thing here, but intended for business to do that feed in all of your business documentation to create a very specific chatbot for just what you offer. Now you have it. I'm assuming, rich, that you've not played around with Q yet, but you have done with the GPTs. Do you think that this is a good approach for business. Do you think we're going to see a lot of this in the next coming year or two, as businesses kind of learn why this might be beneficial for users to interact with?

0:42:06 - Rich DeMuro
Oh yeah, I mean I think this is the only business in the next couple of years with companies, because, like Amazon's trying to do, you can have your employee handbook something as simple as your employee handbook online and ask questions, say which days do I get off this year? Where do I sign up for this? Where do I go for that? But then, when it comes to insights into the actual company, I think that's what Amazon is really trying to do here is have you feed in all of your data and then a salesperson can ask hey, what was our third quarter like this year compared to last year? Stuff that you can do today, but it takes a lot of skill, takes a lot of spreadsheets, takes a lot of know-how, and this is going to just erase those boundaries.

What you were talking about earlier, jason, is, when it comes to these jobs and the boundary to entry is just going to be so low, the barrier to entry it's just going to open up an entirely new realm for people. These prompts that people know how to ask. I know how to ask better questions to the GPT than you. It's like you come in with that skill set, like you come from another company and you're like, hey, this kid knows what he's doing. He knows how to ask these questions in the right way to get the right answers that can help us improve our business. I think there's a lot here. Amazon, obviously, with their AWS. They have an in with a lot of companies, so they've got that sales lead. I think that's why they're doing this, because it's an easy add-on for companies that already do business with AWS.

0:43:40 - Jason Howell
Yeah, yeah, indeed, I think you're absolutely right. The AWS connection is key here.

0:43:50 - Rich DeMuro
The other side is that trust thing. That's the main thing is that if you're a CEO and you have certain access to stuff at this GPT that an entry-level person should not, or a different department, that could be the troubling area of this. We already know how these things hallucinate. There's got to be very clear boundaries between the data that these GPTs have access to and who they give this access to. I think that's all. Part of what we're learning right now is that I don't know if everyone has the answer to all that stuff just yet. Yeah, I think companies are probably very hesitant.

0:44:24 - Jason Howell
Yeah, the platformer actually got a hold of some documents, some leaked documents. Just a few days after this, amazon Q was announced that, really calling the question its ability to be accurate, also calling into question some privacy issues leaking confidential data, severe, it said, inaccuracies of output that was reported. Amazon, of course, is pushing back on that, saying it has not leaked confidential information, but the internal documents said Amazon Q can hallucinate and return harmful or inappropriate responses. For example, amazon Q might return out-of-date security information that could put customer accounts at risk. That trust element super critical, although there's a lot of people who are using AWS for their business that already have a level of trust enough to use AWS for their business. But this is a different story.

0:45:23 - Rich DeMuro
Aws is a cloud storage depot. It doesn't have this little gremlin in there that's just going through all the data and then coming up with a GPT to interact with that data. That is a whole different realm. I think that companies want this, but Amazon, there's not too many stumbles you can take with this, because you only get one chance. This is an area that people want, but we don't know what the implications are. The employees access and what if it gets hacked. I mean, there's so many ramifications of having that much data at a GPT disposal.

0:46:05 - Jason Howell
A GPT or a Q or whatever it is. They're all getting into this customized, specific chatbot, specific to a purpose. You'll see a lot more of them and I'm sure we'll have a lot of similar questions about its ability to keep things confidential and to keep being accurate in its output, as we see here. Is Amazon a little late to the party? I mean, I realize it's only been a year. Touching back on chat GPT one year later, but Amazon, I don't know. It feels like maybe they're maybe a little late, but it probably doesn't matter because at the end of the day, it's all about the people who are really all in on the AWS platform.

0:46:46 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, I still feel like it's pretty early days for this technology and I don't think there's really a need to be on the bleeding edge, especially if, as Rich mentioned, someone's going to stumble at some point, and I don't think anybody wants to be that company that stumbles. So I still think there's a lot of greenfield opportunities for this kind of technology within large corporations and I hope that the reason that they're late is because they are taking their time and making sure that this stuff is safe, is not just that they're lagging behind and now they're trying to catch up desperately. But of course, only time will tell. On that front, yes indeed.

0:47:16 - Abrar Al-Heeti
About the fact that we haven't really heard from Apple in terms of what it wants from AI right. So there's still a lot of room for those big tech players to get their piece of the pie.

0:47:25 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, yeah. Well, how about the other side of this? What about Google? The fact that they are late to this game because they want to be late?

If you look at what ChatGbt and all these services have done to Google's search business, it is literally anti to everything that makes Google money to get these answers on a page instantly without clicking and, of course, clicking ads at the top of your feet. I mean, Google's entire business is to get you to click the top two or three links before you find your information and make money off of that right. And so they knew early on. When they saw this because Google has been doing AI for 10 years now they knew that this was not something they wanted to come out with unless they were forced to do it. And now we're.

I mean, look, they already dismantled their assistant team because they're like, yeah, we don't need you guys anymore, Because you know that the, the GPT's of the world, are going to take this over. And you know they've got Bard, which is just a tiptoe, They've got the generative stuff. But Google knows they need to make a move that is going to not ruin their entire bread and butter, which is, you know, the $70 billion they make from search ads or whatever it is, and you know they're in a very precarious position here.

0:48:37 - Tim Stevens
What I would like to know is if Google is aware of what they're doing to all the other results that aren't paying, because ultimately, you know, if their generative AI is able to extract all the information that you need from a buying list or something, or a buyer's guide, a holiday gift guide, that kind of thing that's ultimately depriving that, that editorial site of revenue that would be used to ultimately keep that site alive. And so if Google, if Google's AI agents, are good enough to prevent someone from clicking on that article, ultimately that'll drive that company out of business and that'll mean that Google search results themselves will begin to dry up. And I haven't really heard a lot of discussions about what Google hopes to do about that kind of situation. That, to me, is disconcerting as well. Certainly, they need to make sure that their ad revenues survive, but they also need to make sure that the internet survives, and certainly, you know, this technology has the potential to really upend things in a pretty catastrophic way.

0:49:28 - Rich DeMuro
That is such a great point Because right now, we're feeding all the stuff from traditional industries into these search engines you know the search engines and now the, the GPT's of the world. And so, like you said, Tim, when the, when that new, fresh data starts drying up and all these buyers you know all these people like Wirecutter, and all these companies doing this research and reviews and stuff when that stops happening, now where does the, the, you know part of the world, get their information? And it's a very, very scary thought when, when there's just no more I guess there's no more buffet for them to feast on.

0:50:03 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, there is, as I've seen anyway, no plans for OpenAI or any other company to share any of their revenue back with the. You know the sources of their language models. They've all been built on data that's been provided on the internet by, in large part, corporations or, you know, for profit entities that made money from ad revenue or other sources, which will ultimately dry up, and so you know what's the plan forward. I haven't seen anything there. You know, AI is only as good as what you teach it, and if the original content that's going into these models is dead, then then how will these things continue to evolve? That's what I'm wondering.

0:50:37 - Jason Howell
They'll feed off the output of all the other AI's. It'll just be one giant feedback loop.

0:50:43 - Rich DeMuro
It's like that meme where they make it, make it more, you know like the first. The first answer will be like the pizza eating the earth. You know what I mean. Like you're like wait a second. That's not what I meant.

0:50:57 - Jason Howell
Oh boy, the future looks dim right now. Yeah, yeah, it looks not so good. All right, let's get out of the AI waters for a little bit. Let's talk about the cyber truck. I think we got to talk about the cyber truck because this was, I mean, this was kind of a big week for the cyber truck. Say what you will about the cyber truck, but it's actually happening and I know over the last couple of years, people have been, like you know, wondering, slash, doubting, like are we ever going to see the Tesla cyber truck? Apparently, there was a delivery event that was live streamed earlier this week. Select customers you know people like I don't know Alexis Ohanian, so you know big, big nameers, I imagine to get the press got theirs. I guess it's been six years since the first tweet of the cyber truck happened and, tim, you wrote all about the cyber truck. You said don't hate the cyber truck, hate the game.

0:51:52 - Tim Stevens
It's also about it. There's been a lot of backlash about the cyber truck and certainly I've been, you know, responsible for some of that myself, because it's hard to not be disappointed by how long this took. I mean, it was promised it was launched in 2019. I was at the event there where they rolled the thing out and where they you know famously through the giant steel ball at the glass and broke the window. You know I was there and the initial promise was a $40,000 truck that will do 250 miles of range, or a I think it was what's the. The high end was going to be $69,000 for the 500 mile range truck and what we instead got was a 250 mile truck for $61,000 on the low end. That's the cheapest one. Or, if you want an all wheel drive cyber beast, you're going to be spending $100,000 and none of them are going to go 500 miles of range. The only way that you're going to get close to that is if you pay extra for an additional battery pack that will fit in the trunk of the truck and that will ultimately decrease your cargo space and make this this truck. That's already, I think. Knocking on 7,000 pounds will make it even heavier, so substantially more expensive at least 50% more expensive than was anticipated, with less range than was promised, and of course it's it's wildly late. It's also the build quality of those initial cars is, as expected, not very good from what we've seen so far, and it's hard not to be disappointed.

But ultimately, you know, my reaction to this isn't so much about the state of the truck. We all knew it was not going to be as good as what Musk promised four years ago. The fact is, you know, tesla's still going to sell everyone these things that they can make. Tesla is ultimately going to make a lot of money on this thing, and to me it's pretty disappointing that that ultimately, there's going to be no accountability for those missed dates, that those filled promises.

Now this will just be another success story for Tesla down the road that will ultimately just encourage you on Musk to continue on making bombastic promises that prove to be completely false and no one's ever going to be held accountable for, which is a little bit unfortunate to me, and I also think it's a bit of a bummer that this is basically a giant rolling brick with no kind of creature comforts involved or no sensibilities when it comes to actually working as a truck and none of the tests we've seen so far have been focused on hauling cargo, towing things, going off road, any of that stuff. It's all been about how quickly can it go down a quarter mile? Is it faster than the hummer Stuff like that? And that to me is a little bit boring.

0:54:15 - Jason Howell
Yeah, I mean, if it's a truck, compared against things I want to do with the truck, that makes a lot of sense. I like that. You call it a giant rolling brick. That's my new favorite way of referring to the cyber truck. Abraar is the cyber truck in your future. Do you have any like? What are your thoughts?

0:54:32 - Abrar Al-Heeti
on this. I actually got one in the driveway right now.

0:54:35 - Jason Howell
Oh, you were one of the people.

0:54:37 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Well, that's the lead. Right there we buried it. Goodbye Bart. This is my new way of getting around to the obvious seconds to Bart yeah. Obviously no, it's fascinating to it. To you know, watch the social media storm as all of this unravels and it's I don't know. I mean, I'm not a car person. I could just tell you I think it's ugly and that's the insight that I can give you today. That's all I can contribute.

0:55:04 - Jason Howell
That's about most of what I could contribute to. Every time I look at it, I keep waiting for there to be some sort of like refinement of something. I'm not sure what it is, but to my eyes it just never looks right. What do you think, rich?

0:55:19 - Rich DeMuro
Oh, I don't know. I really I'm trying to collect my thoughts on this cyber truck. Tim painted a pretty grim future for this thing.

But I live in Los Angeles, I think that you know, and Alexis lives here. I believe I think you know one of the first buyers. I think he's here in LA, and so I just see this as a car that is a showpiece for eccentricity and people will get it because it looks different, it's unique, it looks like something out of a sci fi, you know, movie, and I think that's where it ends. I think that with Tesla, they have used a lot of the knowledge they gain from building the millions of Teslas out there and that enabled them to make this platform.

Yes, it's not as good as we had hoped with the mileage and the price and all of that stuff, but I think this just goes to show. I don't know. Again, I'm like I just don't really understand, like, the reasoning behind this thing. Like what is it? Just for fun, you know, like you said, we're not really promoting, like nobody's getting this to tow their boat, you know, or to like actually work or anything like that with a pickup in the back. So it's interesting, but I think that to me it's not that exciting.

0:56:39 - Jason Howell
Tim, in your piece that you just that you published today about this, you linked to the your first I think it's your first write up from four years ago. We've kind of, you know, got got some interesting. You know some more information about this. You mentioned that you were swept up in the hype of the moment. What excited you about the Cybertruck back then, and and I'm assuming that that your current state of kind of view on the Cybertruck is because they didn't live up to that what do we not have here that it seemed, at least at the time, that they were going to deliver on?

0:57:18 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, I mean we had to remember this was 2019. This was years before even the Rivian R1T came out. The F-150 Lightning didn't exist. There really was no electric trucks on the market at all, so this was a completely novel product at the time. So the fact that it was an EV with any semblance of the productivity of a truck was promising just from the beginning. And then the idea that it would be priced less than $40,000, which was about the same price as a base F-150 at the time and due to 250 miles of range, which is quite good, that made it a really, really compelling product, and that's why I think we saw so many of those initial pre-orders come out, because this is going to be, you know, on par with the price of a base F-150, effectively for this wild looking, high performance all electric truck. And so, even though I thought it was pretty ugly at the time, even I was very excited by the potential and I genuinely really wanted one. But fast forward, four years now it costs, you know, $70,000.

Instead, now that we have the F-150 Lightning on the market and, you know, doing reasonably well, at least from a standpoint, and having the F-150, that is a product that is designed from the outset to be a practical, usable thing that they've put a lot of thought into. How can we make a truck that is the kind of thing that can go to a job site, that can power a job site, that can keep a contractor from having to rent a generator, for example? They can just use their truck to power the job site, they can charge tools in the front because they're driving to that job site, stuff like that. A lot of smarts went into the F-150 that are based on 100 years of making trucks for people that want to get actual work done, and I also respect that whereas the sovereign truck is basically, like I said, jason, it's a big toy, and so it's basically a big, a big ugly sports car, and so you know if you want a sports car.

if you want a sports car, why do you want something that is that ponderously large? If you want something that goes quick, fine, buy a sports car. Buy a model less plaid. Buy something like that that is more optimized for doing that kind of thing. Why do you need to make a 7000 pound car go zero to 16, 2.9 seconds?

It's ultimately because they can, and there is this kind of growing segment within the truck industry is kind of taken over the truck industry of creating these massively, unnecessarily large chrome plated, incredibly overpriced luxury trucks that are absolutely far bigger than are needed and ultimately, you know again, you can drop parallel to sports cars.

The sports cars are faster than you need it and that kind of thing. But when you're talking about a really large truck that is unnecessarily large, you're talking about actually creating safety issues for everybody else on the road, whereas a little sports car if you screw up in your sports car you might go crash in a ditch, you might hurt yourself. If you crash in the 7000 pound cyber truck, you're probably going to create some real damage for a lot of folks around you too. And that's a little bit what I'm kind of getting into instead of just becoming you know, instead of just being a demonstration of your, your hubris, your ego, now you're actually being a bit of a public menace, potentially, and I'm curious to see what you can say the same thing about driving an escalator suburban or any of these.

1:00:19 - Rich DeMuro
I mean they're you know, and I think for the occupant inside, and I'm not sure what the safety rating is of the cyber truck, but I'm sure you know Tesla's generally are very safe in crashes. But I think there's a bigger thing happening in America with this obsession with cars that we don't need and size that we don't need. And when I saw the, I actually had a similar reaction to the electric Hummer. When I saw that, I'm like what is the purpose of this? Like the Hummer brand at some point when gas was 99 cents was you know the car to have, and here in Los Angeles it was everywhere. And now if you see one, if someone you know purchased one and whatever they still have it, it's like you see that as like wait seriously.

And with the electric, I'm just like I didn't really understand that change Like that. To me that just meant like excess and all of a sudden now you're bringing an electric brand. Like I feel like companies should be smarter than this and maybe it's just what people want. But to me it just seems weird that you would bring that Hummer brand to an EV and it just means to me that people just want it to show off. Hey, I have a Hummer and it's electric and cool. It's got a moon's moon foot in the you know whatever they had, like that secret moon stamp in the wheel, well or something. I don't remember what they told me about that. Anyway, I love seeing those giant trucks. So, tim, the ones you were talking about, it's like the you know the American edition or all. It's just like. It's literally like a hundred $200,000 truck that is going down the freeway and it's just like this has never seen a speck of dirt in like an actual like truck area. It's just like you have this giant truck because it's again excess.

1:02:02 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, where I live out in the country I see, you know trucks are probably the majority of the cars that I see on the road and the substantial percentage of those are HD trucks. You know the 2,500, 3,500, that kind of thing and, yeah, it's mostly just dudes commuting to work.

1:02:16 - Jason Howell
Right, it's a commute vehicle. This is just a really big one and it matches my personality. You know something like that, yeah.

1:02:22 - Rich DeMuro
That's what. That's what a lot of I mean. But sports cars are the same way. I mean, come on, it's like there's cars have this thing where it's just like it's not just a way to get around. If it was, we'd all be driving a little tiny smart car. Cars are an extension of someone's personality and in America especially, people like different things and they like stuff that they think reflects them, and it's just how it is, and I guess these companies definitely play to that and that's what the Cybertruck is doing.

1:02:49 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, and I totally appreciate that, and I think that those are really trucks should reflect your personality. Otherwise it would be a pretty boring place. But at the end of the day, my concern is when it becomes a safety issue. And when we look at these 2,500 trucks and things like that, the sight lines in them are really, really bad. I had the Silverado 2,500 HD not that long ago and the hood line is basically at my chin level when you stand. You know when I stood next to it and that is incredibly tall on a truck that has no need to be that tall, because if you pop the hood on it, the engine is sitting a good six inches below the hood and there's a hood scoop on the front that you think, oh well, that hood scoop there is. You know, making sure that the engine stays cool. I actually know the hood scoop is completely blocked off. It's just there for looks. So there's absolutely no need for that truck to be as big as it is. It's just. It's just. Therefore, you know, explaining effectively the ego of the owner and that's unfortunate.

I remember a long time ago, when PCs were first going mainstream, walmart did a study and they found that people would pay more for a larger PC.

So there was a while there that Walmart was selling these really big PC cases and then you'd open them up and there'd be nothing inside of them and that's what that's. All that I can remember is that kind of thing. When I look at these 2500 trucks and HTT trucks that are just wearing all this egregious extra bodywork just to make them look big and much and tough, when in reality they're really not that much more capable than a much smaller, much more affordable truck. So when we get to the point where the size, the, you know, the expression of your character is becoming a bit of a risk to those around you, I think at that point there has to be something, something done. I don't think you know someone driving a Porsche. Yeah, maybe outrageously quick, but the shape of that Porsche is not necessarily causing a risk to anybody else around them, and that's what I'm concerned about here, so, really, that's a really great point.

1:04:30 - Jason Howell
It really and especially going back to your, your comment or your label as a like a, an oversized brick or however you put that like you're just the density and the mass of that giant brick moving down the road. If something happens, you know that that's going to create a different type of damage than the standard vehicle that might get into an accident. That's a really important thing to know for sure. Okay, well, that is fascinating. We do have stories that you put in here, rich and Abraar. We're going to get to that in those in a second. Let's take a quick break and thank the sponsor of this episode of this week, this weekend tech. This episode is brought to you by stampscom, and you know stampscom is excellent. It also happens to be a really great time right now for stampscom because you know it's it's the holidays, right. This would be a really wonderful way if there's someone in your life that's dealing with a lot of postage, shipping a lot of things from home.

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All right, so, rich, let's talk about your story that you put in, that you actually wrote about earlier this week, and that I am not on Apple devices. I mean, I've got a MacBook, my computing is Apple, but my mobile is Pixel, so I have not had any interaction with Apple's new name drop feature. Apparently, a lot of people a lot of, like a sheriff's offices and everything on Twitter were like putting out big warnings about this new name drop feature for the iPhone. Tell us a little bit about about what that actually means, and was it at all warranted? What do we know?

1:08:32 - Rich DeMuro
Last weekend actually a week ago today, on a Sunday and I woke up and all of a sudden, I get all these emails from people saying hey, Rich, is there any truth to this? And you know, it's like a Facebook warning that you see, and anytime I see tech news distributed on Facebook as a warning- I'm pretty sure that it's like there's something wrong with the advice, yeah.

And so I kind of looked through it and I'm like, well, I know about this feature, but I haven't really used it. But let me just see if it's working the way they say it's working. And it's coming from sheriff's departments saying that if your phone is near someone else's iPhone, you know they can steal your contact information. And I was like, oh, I don't think that's how it works, but let me test it. So I grabbed my wife's iPhone. I'm like putting these phones together, seeing if this happens the way they say it does and it doesn't. And so I'm like, all right.

And so the warning was that this name drop feature is an extension of airdrop. It's on by default in iOS 17. And if a stranger got near your phone, they would steal your email, your phone number, whatever right. And they said make sure you turn this feature off and, more importantly, turn it off on your kid's smartphone, because you know they're at risk as well. Your kid is probably smarter than you, by the way, so it would be less apt to happen to them. Long story short, the only way this feature works is if two phones are placed really close together. It activates the feature which does a vibration and a bubble up on your home screen. Your phone has to be unlocked for it to happen and the short to for the sharing to happen and you have to press a share button and you choose what information is shared. So none of this is happening automatically, none of it's happening without people sort of realizing that it's happening. But by then the damage was done and you know it came out to be pretty much fake news.

1:10:14 - Jason Howell
So it's on by default, but you do have to turn it off. But the only way that any sort of transfer of anything can happen is you have to basically confirm it.

1:10:22 - Rich DeMuro
Essentially, which, well, and your phone? You have to. Now your phone there's, see, there's a weird, there's a little, there is a little nuance to the way it would activate, and so with the newest iPhones, they haven't always on display. Some of them do and some don't, and so your phone has to be either lit up, if it's an always on, you know like kind of like. There's different levels of like your phone, your iPhone being kind of on right, there is it, the screen is lit, but it's still locked, or your screen is completely dark and it's locked, but for it to activate, for this feature to even trigger, both phones have to be in a state where they have sort of been moved and like active.

So it's, it's a weird little nuance, but again something is happening without your phone physically being unlocked and also you pressing share. So it's just one of these things that I think it was an easy win on social media, because it looked like these sheriff's departments were were being very smart in helping people, when in reality they were just scaring people into turning off this feature that no one even knew about or cared about. It's not like everyone's even using this feature to exchange phone numbers. So the whole story is just so weird, but it's like it was. It was basically people trying to have an easy win on social media by helping people that turn out to be just completely fake and false.

1:11:39 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, it's funny because actually, like just a couple weeks ago, I was shooting a video, so I had my personal phone and then I had a work phone to shoot with and I was carrying them and this name drop feature kept getting activated and I was like this is so annoying. There has to be a trend. So there's no warning at this point. I just thought it was annoying. So I did a video on how to turn it off. Fast forward to this week or last week, when it's all these, like you know, security threats, and I'm like it's just an annoying feature. It's not, don't worry about it, but if you want to turn it off, turn it off, you know. So it's kind of funny to see how it's exploded.

1:12:08 - Jason Howell
Yeah, and I think the intention, the idea behind it, like I can, I can kind of get behind right, like how many times have I been with someone? And it's like, hey, can I get your contact info? Yeah, sure, I'll go ahead and call you on my phone and then I'll hang up and then you go into your call roll and you find my my call that I hung up on and then you add my contact. It's like this whole kind of like convoluted, like hacky way of of doing it with little effort, even though there's there's a decent amount of effort there. It's, it's a little convoluted.

1:12:37 - Rich DeMuro
There's. There's no easy way when you want to exchange your phone number with someone. Like everyone has a different way. Some people will, you know, email themselves. Some people will do what you're saying, which is call. Some people will text. I mean, they're. So Apple, when they actually released this feature at WWDC this year, I was in the audience and people were clapping, like people were so excited at this idea and everyone completely forgot about it. Because, in reality, I mean, if you say, oh, let me bump my phone up to yours, like, unless everyone is up to speed with, like every new iOS feature, people are gonna be like no, and like I mean, yes, I get, iphone is very prevalent, but there's Android out there, there's people that aren't on the latest software, and it's again. I think 99% of people forgot about this, and then the only way they discover it is like you did, where you put your phone next to another one. You're like why is this doing this? How can I turn this off?

1:13:28 - Jason Howell
It's annoying, right, and at that point, you're discovering it, but without any actual context, like it doesn't even like tell you a bra, like when that happens, like this is what this is useful for.

1:13:37 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, it'll like, it'll do that little glitch and then it'll ask if you want to. You know, name drop? I literally don't. It would never occur to me. I mean, again, I think it would be convenient, but it's not ever something that crosses my mind, and I think you're right in terms of people forgetting about it just because there were a lot of iOS 17 updates and we're not going to keep tabs on all of them, and I feel like you know, when it comes to those updates, I remember once I was trying to use the check in feature, which is, I think, a feature that is actually useful, where you know your loved ones can make sure you get home on time, and everyone was like, I don't even know what iOS 17 is, and you're like, oh, okay, I need to remember that not everyone really cares about these features.

1:14:14 - Jason Howell
So it's interesting, as I'm thinking through this, because we were talking in pre show about you have a Samsung phone and actually this will kind of veer into the story that you added. But you have a Samsung phone, right, and I know because I've used a lot of Samsung phones over the years. I've never really had a Samsung phone as my like, personal like always go to phone. But I have had a lot of experience with Samsung phones to know that, like sometimes with features like this, if Samsung were to have a name drop and who knows, maybe they do Well, they will next year. Yeah, fair, fair point. But if they did, I think the Samsung way often, at least in the past, I don't know if it's still like this would be to give you some sort of like, a little helpful like pop out thing like this is name drop, it is useful, but blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Do you want to keep it on? Or basically to give you these kind of like.

Some people would call it intrusive, other people at least. In the case of this, that might actually be helpful, a little bit of extra context. So it's it's kind of like stuck at you. There is no perfect path to please everybody, because on one hand, you're telling me everything as as it happens on my phone and it's annoying, quit talking to me. And the other hand, it's oh, here's it, here's a feature that I didn't know existed. Thank you, now I understand it. Now I'll use it. And I can also understand from Apple's perspective, because Apple's all about ecosystem and getting everybody. You know these features, in order for them to be truly useful, you kind of have to have them on the majority of the phones, right? Because then it will actually work when you try and do it. So I can understand kind of where they were coming from, but I don't know what. What are your thoughts from a from a Samsung perspective? Am I, am I at all near like how Samsung does things nowadays as far as warnings like that are concerned?

1:15:59 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, no, absolutely. I really think it's damned if you do, damned if you don't, kind of mentality. But I, I, I, my personal phone was a Samsung phone for for about 10 years and then it switched to an iPhone last year, but I still have a Samsung phone that I use for work, so I'm still, you know, kind of entrenched in that ecosystem. But but I think you're right in terms of you know there's only unless you're sitting there watching the developers conference or you are entrenched in the world of tech, how are you going to find out about these features? How are you going to know to go into your settings to do this thing? Or if you come across a video that tells you about this hack, you know. But I think if you do want something to be more widespread, if you want something to catch on, then it does have to automatically be enforced.

There was something that was I think it was called energy saver for iPhone last year, which I don't know if I got that title right. It's been a minute, but it was a feature. It is a feature where, when you plug in your iPhone, sometimes it'll tell you it will finish charging later on and that's, you know, depending on when it's the best time to charge and electricity use. There are lots of things that go into that, but I remember people were really upset about that because they just wanted their iPhones to charge and there's an easy toggle that you can hit to turn that off. But it was on by default and I think Apple thought hey, this is a really helpful thing, we're just here to help you. And people didn't feel that way. So it's hard to gauge what people actually want you to automatically roll out and what they would rather opt into themselves, and so you kind of learn by trial and error.

1:17:22 - Jason Howell
Yeah, yeah, you can't. You can't aim to please everybody. It's just not going to work. Yeah, that's right, that's right. You, you were on Samsung now or on iPhone, which is the perfect segue. So you put in a story that you wrote not too long ago. About one year ago, probably about the time the chat GPT was born you made the official switch from Samsung for being an Android user using Samsung to using the iPhone, and, you know, checking in on it one year later. How, how has that been going for you? What were your reasons for switching and what are you thinking?

1:18:01 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, my iPhone and I are very happy together. We're happy to ring in this one year anniversary. So the reason I switched was very petty, and I will acknowledge that, and the reason was I was just tired of being harassed for turning tech screen and ruining group chats and not being able to do FaceTime calls, even though I am fully aware that WhatsApp exists and Skype exists. I, you know, I tried to defend myself for as long as I could, but at a certain point you realize it would make communication easier if people actually wanted to reply to your texts. And again, it's petty, there's no other explanation for it.

But since I've switched I actually have noticed a difference in being included in group chats and people not having to scold whoever turned it green, and being able to hop on impromptu FaceTime calls and AirDrop has been a game changer. That is really useful for me because I use a Mac for work and so you know shooting videos on my phone and then AirDropping them. It just makes it all a lot more seamless. So it's it's been a good journey. I will always have a place in my heart for Android phones. Again, I still use them on the side for work, but in terms of communication and just because everyone else has an iPhone. It's why I caved and it's a really sad reason, but you know it is what it is.

1:19:17 - Jason Howell
It is what it is and I don't think that you're alone. I think that you know the messaging aspect has, has brought a lot of people or opened up a lot of Android users into that. I mean, I fight, I fight it on my Android phone constantly If I'm, if I end up in a group group messaging you know a group, a group where I'm messaging other people that are on iPhone yeah, like I have, I have the weirdest, you know, the low res images thing. Is it just like it's almost like it knows that it's a group message with other iPhones because the SIM gets confused and so I'll send a message and it won't complete sending until I restart the phone? Things like that. That just over time, again and again, it gets really, really annoying and exhausting. It's almost like it beats you down and you're like okay, fine, I relent.

1:20:05 - Abrar Al-Heeti
But yeah, I forgot about that element where I would run into the issue if there was. If there were, you know, if there's more than one person in the group and at some point, when I messaged enough times back and forth, it would just stop sending my texts and I would just have to wait until it decided to, you know, participate again. That's. I'm completely proud about that. Thank you for reminding me. But yeah, the low, low rose images and videos the videos looked like videos that I had sent back in like 2008 on my like LG NB three and it's just like. It's like tiny on the screen, it's grainy. But hey, you know Apple is adopting RCS, so hopefully that gets better.

1:20:41 - Jason Howell
Yeah, so we've got Apple adopting RCS, which we've talked about in previous shows. We actually do have some RCS news, some actual this week news. Google announced a new milestone more than one billion monthly active users use RCS and Google messages. Now, of course, google messages is kind of Google's default messaging, like text messaging app for Android. So if you're getting an Android device that has Google suite of apps and services, is GMS certified, then it is probably going to have Google messages as its default. So one billion active users actually isn't that surprising. But what that ultimately means is that all of those users or the majority of them with a current version of Android messages or Google messages is RCS supported, so has the ability to communicate with each other via RCS, but so that's good.

1:21:38 - Rich DeMuro
This entire conversation is just so draining, I'll be honest.

It's so draining because consumers are in the crosshairs here and, yeah a bar, you have fallen into the trap of Apple, which is exactly what they want you to do, which was to give up and to switch because it just became so frustrating, and you are representative of so many people out there that begrudgingly give up their Android phones with great features and you know a lot of choice and go over to Apple because it's just simple and you're able to message which should be a fundamental human right on a smartphone to have your messages work the same way across every phone.

Now I understand that they've adopted RCS and things will get better, but the fact that we have had to live with this long national nightmare for so long and to really just make this divide between, like everyday people in sports clubs and children's family groups of school kids you know your family, whatever family members my brother and I made the decision a long time ago to switch to Telegram with our family members. We have a lot of people in my family and we literally just sat everyone down during like a holiday and said you're all downloading Telegram. They said why we have this app, this messages app. I said no, that you don't understand. Like we want to be able to use whatever phone we want and at the time he was Android, I might have been as well, but you know, it's just one of these.

Anyway, the experience has been amazing where the photos work, the videos work, the reactions work, everything works the same and it should always be that way. I just find this so sad that, like this, this messaging thing has become such a huge deal in the work and basically America really it's not really a world, but it's just, it's just. I hear this over and over and I just it's like it's tiresome, because I just feel like Apple executives are just sitting there, just like you know, just like yep, this is exactly what we sort of engineered and we love it. And, by the way, I'm reading your article about the removing the thing from the image. There's a great app called Touch Retouch, which is a. I mean, I know that Apple, google now has the magic racer on all the phones, so you don't really need that as much. But anyway, touch Retouch is a great app If you just want to remove something from a photo quickly, and it works great.

1:23:58 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Okay, I will definitely keep that in mind. Thank you, yeah, because that is a super handy feature. Yeah.

1:24:03 - Rich DeMuro
I'm done going off.

1:24:04 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I didn't know, but the thing is, the pettiness will continue. Likely because, even you know, when Apple adopts RCS, we will probably still see different colored bubbles if somebody is on an Android phone. And so, like they have no intention, it seems to you know, get rid of the bullying that happens with something that's really not. That shouldn't be that important, you know, right, right.

1:24:28 - Rich DeMuro
And it is Apple, they will find some way to make a frustrating little change that is just frustrating enough, where you're like, oh, this is good, but it's still not great. But hopefully I do have hope that because they are adopting the standard, if you are an Android user on RCS and you text an iPhone it and you send a big picture or a video, it will show up on the other end just the same. The typing indicators will be there. So, like 99% of it will be great. I still think that group messaging aspect is not going to be that great because I think there's still going to be a delineation between the iMessage users and the RCS users. I'm not sure that I've read anywhere that the group messaging on iMessage is going to include the RCS, like I'm not sure that's going to be blended in.

1:25:13 - Jason Howell
So we'll have to see how that works and that'll be a really big consideration, because that, I think that's one of the things that I run into most these days is that and is the resolution of the images. The Android messaging VP is it? Senaz Ahari told the Verge some of the features that we won't likely expect to come to for RCS conversations between Android and iPhone, based on where the standard spec is right now, things that we won't expect, of course. No end to end encryption, which we've all kind of realized that at this point that will be not there because it's not part of the standard spec. Threaded replies read receipts. I thought that one was a little weird Wait a minute read receipts.

1:26:01 - Rich DeMuro
I thought that was part of the protocol?

1:26:04 - Jason Howell
Yeah, that's a really weird one.

1:26:05 - Abrar Al-Heeti
And then I was also disappointed by that not to be baked in. Yeah, like all the videos, the high res images and videos. Is that all we're getting? Like that doesn't? That's not worth it.

1:26:16 - Jason Howell
So I mean it goes back to what you were saying, rich, where it's like half of like, okay, fine, we'll give you RCS, but we're not. We're not going to give you any more of RCS that we absolutely have to, and I think, at the end of the day, what that means is, hopefully the actual standard RCS spec and I know Google's working hard to make this happen can be improved so that it includes some of these things, because then they would appear there. How do you stand on this, tim? Because you are you are an Android user, correct.

1:26:47 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, android 3 and 3, you know I used to do the iPhone reviews every year at Engage and I did that. I've seen it for a little while too, and every year I think, oh, this will be the year that I go to iPhone, and they never really stuck. I always went back to Android. So yeah, I've never felt that pure pressure. I don't know if I have more accepting friends or maybe I'm just not on as many text lists as y'all are, but I've never really felt that pressure. So I really can't relate honestly. That feels honestly really tragic and awful that someone would drive you from the, your platform of choice, to another one.

But yeah, I hope that this RCS stuff helps and help that. But with Apple, you know, open the gate a little bit, it'll help to ease the tension, but it doesn't sound like it's going to and that's really disappointing. But again, it's not something that I can honestly relate to. So I listened with eager interest. But I'm very happy on Android that you know I don't upgrade every year. I've got the 23 Ultra at this point, which upgraded from the 22 just because I wanted a better battery life and has been really spectacular in that regard. But yeah, I'm not really looking to jump ship. I'm not really wholly ingrained or in love with what Samsung's doing, but the hardware's good and I'm happy.

1:27:51 - Jason Howell
Yeah. I salute you.

We salute you. Yeah, I'll be really curious to see, kind of when, when Apple finally announces, kind of like how they're going to approach this. I don't think that it gets rid of the green bubble. I think that has to stick around because there are, there is a delineation between the services that Apple offers versus even with RCS. You know there's differences there and you know those colors. They exist for a reason. They're not just there for ridicule, even though you know some people take it there. They really do exist. To assure you, if you're using iMessage, that there's a certain feature set that's active right now that you can expect, and you know some of those are really important to know, like end end encryption. So I don't think that's going anywhere.

But I do not want to talk about Musk and Pizza Gate. I really don't. Do we have to talk about it? No, okay, yay, moving on that's. I'm down with that. We don't have to do that. It's just not fun. Let's see here real quick before a break in Apple related, I suppose, apple Card. Okay, again, I'm not an Apple user, so I haven't used the Apple card, but apparently Apple is pulling out of its partnership with Goldman Sachs, which is its credit card partnership, and so that's going away. I don't know what they replace it with. I haven't seen any news as far as what that means for the Apple card itself.

1:29:22 - Rich DeMuro
It's not happening for number one. I don't know if it's confirmed, but they said it was like 12 to 15 months before this is changing. I think the big question for consumers is really, like you know, is the Apple card going to continue which I think the answer is yes and what company is going to buy this business? You know there's a. I think there's no shortage of financial companies out there that are willing to take the leap with Apple, and Goldman was a was an odd choice to begin with, I think they were. They were kind of like the back in the day when the iPhone launched. Remember it was on like what was the brand? Was it AT&T or is a singular? Back then.

Whatever, it was like they just, you know, basically said we will let you do whatever you want with this phone, we will just give you that line. And I think that's what Apple tried to do with this card was they wanted to find a partner that would say look, we're going to rewrite all the rules of a credit card and you know, can you? Will you come along this journey with us? And clearly it didn't work out, for I'm not sure why, but there will be another card, you know company, that will just scoop this up and maybe there'll be some changes to the way the card works, but otherwise, maybe they'll be smarter and it'll just work out better.

1:30:32 - Jason Howell
Bloomberg saying Chase Bank would be an ideal replacement. But I don't know if that's just an opinion piece or whatever.

1:30:39 - Rich DeMuro
But so now I think that was German today said that I think the the bank that's going to take it is that synchronicity, or synchronicity the one that does all. Like the store cards, you know, like the gaps in the, you know the Macy's card, like, when you get all these cards at the store they sign up for 20% off because they they feel so much of that. And it just feels like that bank would be like, yes, we will take this business, we will let you do things the way you want to do it. But I don't know, who knows what, do I know I don't have the Apple card. Yeah, yeah.

1:31:09 - Jason Howell
Well, I don't either. This is anyone here. I know you're only a year on the iPhone, but did it was your?

1:31:17 - Rich DeMuro
Not push you yet to get that Notifications all the time.

1:31:21 - Jason Howell
2% cashback I've been pretty impressed, actually, I got the iPhone and immediately I got the card Right, yeah, okay. Well, they still have the the room to win you over. As far as that's concerned, it'll just be with a different bank, I think.

1:31:35 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah exactly. See how long it takes for me to pay.

1:31:40 - Rich DeMuro
So let's send you a send you an RCS once that's available. Oh yeah, perfect, See if you actually get it.

1:31:46 - Jason Howell
That's right All right, I'm going to take a quick break, thank the sponsor. When we come back let's talk a little bit about kind of like the year end kind of replays and stuff and maybe check in on on our Cyber Monday, black Friday, kind of histories here and in the past couple of days, see where that, see how that fares. So let's take a break and then we'll talk about that stuff. We want to thank ExpressVPN for bringing you this episode of this week in tech. I'm a huge fan of ExpressVPN. They are fantastic. It's really. It's the VPN that you can have running all the time if you like, and you just don't notice a difference. Like I've used VPNs in the past, where you know you're using a VPN, everything slows to a crawl. That's not the case with ExpressVPN. And you know it is the holiday season. As you're pounding down your potatoes and gravy, don't forget to throw in a little bit of butter in there too.

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Okay, so let's see here. So I'm a Spotify user and I'm sure I got this somewhere, but so basically, it's the end of the season, it's the end of the year, which means it's the holiday season, which means often about this time we get these little end of year wrap ups that show us what you've been listening to all year, break it out down and just like data that you can look at and go oh wow, I'm within the top whatever percent of Taylor Swift listeners. I threw that in there for you, abra.

1:35:17 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Thank you I figured.

1:35:20 - Jason Howell
Spotify Wrapped is what it's called, and I have not looked for mine because I realized like my Spotify account is synced in our car for everyone that gets in our car, so mine would be completely useless to me because it wouldn't be a representation of any of the things that I'm listening to. It would be a conglomerate of everything in our family and that's just. Let's just say there's a lot that we all listen to that I would choose not to listen to if I really had the ability to do that. But anyways, any interesting insights from your Spotify Wrapped up bar.

1:35:54 - Abrar Al-Heeti
So I am one of five people who uses YouTube music, and four, oh, okay, six, I'm another one, oh, hey, hey.

And the reason I do that is because I already pay for YouTube premium, because I can't stand the ads and I like being able to download before flight and keeping my lock screen on if I'm listening to something, and then you get YouTube music for free. So why pay for another streaming service? To nobody's shock who knows me, taylor Swift was obviously my number one artist, but I was apparently in the top 0.3% of listeners, which is impressive, except for the fact that no one uses YouTube music. So my question is how statistically significant is the stat if no one else is on this platform? But it did tell me I listened more than 39%, more than 39 times what the average listener tunes into Taylor Swift songs for. So, yeah, I think I need a life, but I'm proud, so I'm enjoying her apparently taking over all the streaming services, because for Apple Music she was highlighted. For Spotify she was highlighted. It's the year of Taylor and we're just living in it. Really.

1:37:03 - Jason Howell
It has been a big year for Taylor Swift for sure, and in so many different reasons, so I'm not surprised at all. It kind of doesn't matter how many people are on the platform, because there are a lot of people on all these platforms, and to be in the top, whatever percent, that's a big deal. So I think that's something.

1:37:21 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Thank you, I'm going to claim it. I'm just going to hold on to it. There you go, claim it.

1:37:25 - Jason Howell
Yeah, I was with YouTube music for a long time and eventually I know, eventually I just got really annoyed with it for a number of reasons. At this point I'm removed enough that it's hard for me to remember exactly what annoyed me about it, but the organization of things I don't know. At a certain point I relented and went to Spotify. But, tim, you're still with YouTube music. Did you get this report? Are any any interesting nuggets for you? Mayo?

1:37:53 - Tim Stevens
I'm actually just trying to pull it up now because I don't think I should look to. Yes, I've been on YouTube music for quite a while now. I actually get to the point on Spotify where I had enough songs that I'd added to my personal libraries and playlists that Spotify said no more. And that was like I hit the ceiling and there was no warning that I was getting to that ceiling and there were no tools available to let me go through and, like you know, mass delete songs from earlier playlist or that kind of thing, and it's this kind of unwritten cap that not a lot of people get to.

But when you do get to it, suddenly Spotify becomes unusable for you because you can't save favorites anymore, you can't do any of that stuff, you can't add downloads, you can't do anything, and so I had to basically go through manually delete things, and it just got to be such a headache that I said no, I'm done. So I switched over to YouTube music, probably four or five years ago. And yeah, same with you, brian, I'm on. It's great to have YouTube, brad or Plus or whatever they call it these days to be able to get commercial free and download and things like that too, which is great.

So look at my recap now and it is actually pretty underwhelming because I have this playlist of ambient trip hop that I listened to when I write for the Brazil and Kruger and Dorfmeister and that kind of stuff from the late 90s and I've listened to that playlist consistently since the late 90s. I guess it's just kind of my go-ahead-and-get-to-work playlist and so that always dominates everything all the time and it's a little bit disappointing because it doesn't include any of the other stuff that I've been listening to through the course of the year and that's a little bit unfortunate. So no major surprises from my recap, I'm sorry to say.

1:39:29 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I saw someone on TikTok who had the sound of a fan was their number one. It's like that's what they play in the background, so it reminds me it reminds me too.

1:39:38 - Rich DeMuro
I am in that same boat with you, Tim. I listened to a band I listened to basically like sort of like house instrumental or focused music a lot, and so of course that always dominates, like what they're trying to serve up. But I do have a tip if you're a Spotify user, you can go to the playlist and those three little dots and I just learned about this you could say exclude from your taste profile. Oh nice. So if you're listening to a playlist, over and over.

You know, like your kid's bop or something like that. You just exclude it and it will not take that into consideration, and so it really does help. I did that with all my kind of instrumental stuff. I don't know. Youtube music may have that similar feature. I'm not sure. Yeah, I don't know, but I also.

My other thing is that I wish and Tim, you're kind of alluded to this these music services. They need a master reset button where you can just say you know what? I listened to Taylor Swift, I loved her for three years, and now I want to start fresh and just go into settings and just boom, everything starts fresh. Like you just signed up, because why should you have to switch services if you listen to something a lot that you didn't like? Or you made all these playlists Like, just give me a reset button, which I don't understand.

What the reasoning is behind that. Maybe they want to keep you in that stickiness of like you know you have this stuff that you've built up for many years, I don't know. Anyway, I just started using Spotify probably six or eight months ago, and I will say I was using Apple music before that, because I have that bundled with my Apple One and I have YouTube music bundled with my YouTube and neither of those work for me, because YouTube doesn't work in my car and the Apple music I really it's like Spotify is infinitely better and I didn't realize that to the extent until I switched to it. Sadly, because I get Apple music kind of for free with my bundle.

1:41:26 - Jason Howell
Right. I mean one of the best things about the YouTube music thing is that ad-free YouTube that goes along with it. And that was a big loss for me when we moved to Spotify suddenly having ads on YouTube and I never had ads on YouTube and then to suddenly be presented with not just ads on YouTube, I mean they are everywhere they are. It's a lot.

1:41:53 - Rich DeMuro
It's a lot, it's a lot of bad. I don't I only. I mean cause I've been a subscriber of Red since day one and or what you know back. I think it was called YouTube Red when it started. Yeah, right Now it's premium, I think.

1:42:05 - Jason Howell
But you don't realize like ads are insane.

1:42:09 - Rich DeMuro
I mean, it's like even in the scrolling list of stuff, like if there's ads. And my kids I only know because my kids log out of their YouTube because they want to watch stuff that I don't allow them to. So they just log out and I'm like why are you watching this with ads? They're like oh, no reason.

1:42:27 - Jason Howell
And you're in, you caught on to it. Good for you.

1:42:34 - Rich DeMuro
That's also, kids are smart, so yes, they have found a way around every single parental control I have instituted in this home. It's really, it's pretty wild. Actually. It's actually given me a lot of fodder for like social media and stories.

1:42:48 - Jason Howell
Yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure, and thank you for the tip on the taste profile. I had no idea about this was actually I mean, this was earlier this year that they integrated that feature into Spotify. It's that completely was not on my radar at all. I'll totally use that Cause my profile is just damaged, like it is just completely warped.

1:43:12 - Rich DeMuro
That's what I'm saying. You need the reset button so you can just start, cause, like so many of us started this stuff and we didn't like think about it, like the implications of listening to Tycho every morning, you know. Or like instrumental, and like that, all of a sudden all your recommendations are like house trance music and you're like wait, I don't want this right now.

1:43:28 - Jason Howell
I like that and I like it for a very specific thing. I like white noise when I sleep, you know. That doesn't mean that I want to. You know, just because I listened to eight hours of white noise doesn't mean all I want to listen to are. You know all different types of noise.

1:43:41 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, or every now, and then you go down this like nostalgic rabbit hole where you listen to, like you know it was, like you know these, these buffs that just like take you back, and then you're like I don't want this popping up when I want to listen to today Music that I want to listen to today, yeah.

1:43:55 - Jason Howell
It's almost like you need an incognito mode for your Spotify Right, which I think I believe it is right. I wouldn't be surprised. I know that YouTube has something like that. You know, for the same reason, because you don't want it to, like you know, spin off your, your algorithm in a completely different direction, Exactly.

1:44:13 - Rich DeMuro
So yeah. I wouldn't be surprised. I think it keeps it from your friends, I think because it shares by default, maybe to your friends, like you know, but maybe I don't think there's one that keeps it from your like actual taste profile for that set amount of time.

1:44:27 - Abrar Al-Heeti
But it would be a great idea, you know just yeah, that at least prevents it from showing up in your unwrapped, so at least no one ever has to know.

1:44:35 - Jason Howell
Yeah, there you go. You can share your unwrapped if you want, exactly.

1:44:41 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Well, and it's funny because I saw these tweets that were, like you know, Apple Music feels like this is the Apple Music version of Green Bubbles where, like you know, everyone's on Spotify and if you're not, then you're the Green Bubble, Like you're the outsider. So a little bit of karma for Apple, I guess.

1:44:56 - Jason Howell
Yeah, techcrunch wrote about the Apple Music replay and basically said it's no match for Spotify's round. Everybody's like trying to replicate this, the Spotify roundup thing, and apparently Spotify just does it better for something. I don't know if that's because they've been doing it longer or whatever the case may be, but people like data about this sort of stuff, so they are surprising.

1:45:19 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, not surprising. Like it's like all my days, as long as I can share it on social media and it makes me look cool. Take all my data, yeah.

1:45:25 - Jason Howell
It's a good, it's a fine trade off. Careful what you wish for, I know right.

1:45:30 - Rich DeMuro
These tech companies believe me.

1:45:33 - Jason Howell
Where that goes. You don't want to know where that goes, where that leads, no good. And then there's Plex, which this wasn't really an end of year thing, but I felt like it kind of fit into this category. They have a Discover Together feature that apparently they just started rolling out. So it's not a year in review, it's more like a weekly thing where it takes a look at, like you know, sharing with your friends on Plex, what each of you have been watching.

The only problem is apparently this is, I think it's opted in by default and some people are saying that friends, questionable viewing habits are appearing in these emails and they had no idea Because, I mean, it's their own server, it's a Plex server, it's their own media content. Plex says what did Plex say? They said if it's indexed on IMDB, then yes, it might appear there, which for certain you know risque content apparently is actually the case. So just saying, if you're using Plex, you might want to. You know. Well, I think Plex should have done a better job of communicating this, to be honest, because this is the sort of thing that you know as a customer is going to turn people off on a service like this, because it kind of breaks, that barrier of trust.

1:47:02 - Abrar Al-Heeti
But you know, Well, yeah, we were talking earlier about, you know, tech companies rolling out features. You know having a name drop feature added to your phone is different than having your watch history broadcast to all your friends. Like, there are certain things where you're like maybe we should give people a heads up or ask them to opt in to something that's this major.

1:47:21 - Jason Howell
Yeah, yeah, indeed, indeed. So Plex getting a little bit of heat for that, and I think it's probably warranted. Probably should have been an opt in instead of an opt out. What else do we got? Oh, ok, so Black Friday, cyber Monday I don't think on last Sunday's show, even though it was after Black Friday, I'm not sure that everybody on that panel actually talked very much about Black Friday and then we had, of course, cyber Monday.

Apparently, there were records this time around. Black Friday, buying hit a record 9.8 billion in the US, 70.9 billion dollars globally. And then Cyber Monday. Let's see here, according to Adobe Analytics, like 12.4 billion, yeah, 12.4 billion dollars, growing 9.6% over the previous year. So, yeah, black Friday, cyber Monday that train is rolling right now. What does that say about? If we had to look at what that says about the economy right now, because I feel like there's a lot of apprehension right now about where we're heading on the economic front. Is there a recession looming? Yeah, shopping trends here do not seem to point to the fact that people are overly concerned. They're willing to spend record amounts of money ahead of the holidays. That seems a little kind of counter to me, I don't know. Would you agree?

1:48:56 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I've been trying to understand why that is too, because that's all we've been hearing is this looming recession and honestly, I feel like the deals this time around weren't that great. I mean, they were okay, but I feel like I didn't really, like I never saw anything that was like that great of a deal. Even on Cyber Monday on Amazon. I saw things that were like maybe 20% off, Like I don't know, it just wasn't as big or maybe just what I was looking for. But I do wanna look into more of why that is. There must be some sort of psychological explanation for what leads people to. Maybe it's, and maybe it's this idea of okay, well, if I wanna buy something and I need it, I need to get it at a discount, so I need to buy it now. And because there's a looming recession, because I need to be more careful with my money, and so maybe it's the idea of stocking up now and then not purchasing as much throughout the rest of the year. That's the only thing that I could potentially think of. Yeah.

1:49:47 - Rich DeMuro
Where's this looming recession? Because I have not seen any indicators of it in Los Angeles whatsoever. Every restaurant I go to is completely packed. Every event. Taylor Swift sold out nine nights here in LA, every concert. We just went on Friday night to another concert.

I mean, it's just we keep hearing about this but in reality I'm not seeing.

Prices just keep going up and up and people keep seeming to pay these prices. I think when it comes to Cyber Monday and Black Friday, people do buy stuff and I think those are shopping events and you know that your stuff is going to be the cheapest on that day. Whether it is or not, it's a great day to buy. And so maybe, on the flip side, and just kinda thinking about if there is a recession looming or if there is people pulling back on stuff, maybe they did just choose to shop on those days because they knew they were a better deal. So maybe we don't have the numbers for last Friday and the Friday before and the Friday before that and maybe they've been horrible, but because it's Cyber Monday and Black Friday, the numbers are up. But this is all very confusing to me as well, because all I hear about is this horrible recession and this and that, and yet somehow it seems like people just continue to spend and I don't know where it's all coming from.

1:50:56 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Well, and it's interesting too, because we were trapped inside for two and a half years with lockdowns, and then we got out, and so we're like we're ready to spend the money, we're ready to go to the concerts, we're ready to go to the events, and then we're also being told about this looming recession. So it's just kind of trying to balance those things out. And then the other piece of the puzzle here is Black Friday is no longer just a one-time event, right? So Amazon has these deals all the time. They're prime day deals, and then they're fall prime day deals, and then, when they do something, target does something, and when they do something, best Buy does something and Walmart. So these companies are constantly having these sales throughout the year. So, therefore, Black Friday becomes less of a big deal, cyber Monday becomes less of a big deal, but we're still spending the money then because we're I mean, we're kind of it's ingrained in our minds, right?

1:51:42 - Jason Howell
So true, yeah, we were talking about this a little bit on this. We can Google last Wednesday and how you know the the old. Well, I say old school, but it wasn't really that long ago when the Black Friday experience was getting a circular in the mail that teases a 4 am or a 5 am opening of a particular brick and mortar store. Going there and bum rushing through the door against hundreds of other people trying to get that TV that is 80% discounted. And the experience now is very different. Right, like you don't go on Amazon on Black Friday and find an 80% discounted TV, but you find a lot of 20% off things. And yeah, I don't know what that even alludes to. I don't know the question around that.

It's interesting how things have shifted, that the definition of Black Friday no longer is doorbusters, it's just everybody has a sale and then at the end of the day, as a consumer, we have to do our homework or at least hopefully you are doing your homework to see like is that actually a sale? I use camel, camel, camel on a Black Friday to go on Amazon. If I find something on Amazon, I'll put that link in a camel, camel, camel to see like all right. So for over the last two years, what has been the pricing history of this thing via Amazon? And sometimes that'll really save you and be like, oh, this is the price it always is. So they did the thing where they like jacked the price and then it's discounted 20% to get it back down to that point. Just have to be a smarter, I guess, consumer, using the tools that you have.

1:53:21 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, and not to quote to talk again because this is my source of information these days. But there was a video I saw. Promise, I'm a real journalist. There was a video I saw where somebody was at Target and they removed the Black Friday tags from each item and behind that price tag was another sale tag with the exact same price and they did it over. Oh my goodness.

So it's just like you do a little bit of digging and you find it, and I feel like that's the modern day equivalent of those doorbusters. Because, yes, doorbusters were a thing where you could get like a $200 TV or whatever crazy number, but there would be like four of them and you'd have to camp out to get it. And then this is kind of like the equivalent, where it's like, okay, you're not getting that, but you are getting situations where you're not getting the deal that you thought you were getting.

1:54:03 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, and the whole point of the doorbuster was to get you in for the TV. That was $199. The first 10 people would get that and now you're in the store at 4am and you go well, I'll get this TV over here. That's $500 or $300, whatever. I mean it was all part of just getting you into that store.

One thing that I find I know Camel Camel Camel is great for Amazon. The thing that I really find is that honey drop list, like that paypal honey thing, you know whatever. I just you know everything I just add to that list and like when I get that alert from Honey that says, like this price dropped. It's like they're pretty good at like finding when it drops and it may or may not be over Black Friday, cyber Monday, but like there are sales from time to time. But I find like the way I shop and consume is like I'm almost always waiting for like some sort of alert that my price went down, because I'm just like refuse to just pay the going rate, like this thing is being sold for like every day, you know, yeah, so anyway, just.

1:54:59 - Jason Howell
I haven't used that tool that way. I'll have to take a look. So basically, you're going in there and you're saying these are the things that I'm looking for and what you said like a price barrier to say anything below this price I'm interested in or Not even Well it does.

1:55:12 - Rich DeMuro
You can add things to your honey list or if you add anything to your Amazon list, it will follow those items as well. So it can do that. But it can do a cross a variety of stores and, quite honestly, like Amazon is always the leader when it comes to like the price drops most of the time. But you know the targets of the world and the Walmart's of the world they sort of follow. I mean, everyone is like in line. You know it's like if you can't get it there, you get it there. But now Google is doing, you know, with Chrome they're really getting aggressive into these price alerts too. I've noticed, with the that little alert button at the top of the address bar, when you go to a page of a product, it'll now pop up and it'll say do you want us to track the price of that product?

1:55:55 - Jason Howell
So clearly.

1:55:57 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, it's like, it's just it's not like perfect, like sometimes it's very prominent, other times it's not. But if you go to like a Best Buy page, it should pop up and you'll see like a little Next to the share icon in Chrome it'll show you like a price tracking icon and of course I think Google's end game is to get you to track these prices. But they also will get a little cut of that affiliate. You know, transaction, but that's the whole name of the game of everything these days, right, right?

1:56:24 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, there's a similar service in Edge as well.

That'll also give you price tracking, which I should find to be quite accurate and quite useful during Black Friday.

It also will plug in coupon codes for you automatically, so it's got kind of a bit of a coupon code tracker built in there too, which is nice, so I found that pretty useful.

I thought the most interesting thing coming out of Black Friday was how foot traffic had increased a little bit. But I was watching stuff on TikTok too and I saw a lot of recaps of people walking through Best Buy on Black Friday morning and the storage is being basically empty, which I thought was fascinating. I guess foot traffic was up a couple of percentage points over the year before, but it's still way down from pre-pandemic levels, so probably talking 15 to 20% down over its peaks in 2018, 2019, something like that. So it's interesting to see how that trend has shifted online. I mean, I think it's a pretty predictable and understandable thing, but it is interesting, you know, when we were thinking about those doorbuster deals that you both were referencing and the idea that those things are now relics of the past, and just how kind of sleepy it was on Black Friday morning and all these former major retailers.

1:57:34 - Jason Howell
Yeah, indeed, before we move on and take a break, did any of you get anything you're particularly happy about? That's just for you. I mean, I mentioned on this week in Google on Wednesday that I got a dish trainer and I got mocked.

1:57:50 - Abrar Al-Heeti
No, it's the little things honestly, I bought soap.

1:57:53 - Rich DeMuro
So I bought like 15 bars of soap because they were on sale on that day.

1:57:59 - Jason Howell
There we go. All right, dish trainers and soap it's become.

1:58:03 - Rich DeMuro
That's how boring it's become Back in the day, with I mean at Best Buy. Remember they used to do like the doorbusters, with like an SD card or something you know.

1:58:11 - Tim Stevens
It wasn't even micro SD, it was literally like an SD card for like the best price of the year, or Compact Flash even before that yes, I bought some pinball accessories that I've been waiting to buy, like you're saying, a bra, the same kind of thing, basically waiting for the right time. And yeah, I knew I needed a whole list of things and I knew there was going to be a sale, so I just kept a big old list. And then when the Black Friday slash, cyber Monday coupon code came through my inbox and I just went and pulled the triggers Perfect. That was probably my most exciting thing.

1:58:38 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I think no, you definitely beat them. It's a low bar. Hey, it's a really nice dish trainer. I believe it. I got a Kindle because I didn't have one before. I don't know how I've held off for this long, but I've been. I've been really loving it. It's been fun, it's great, take it on the train. It's easy lightweight. So I have now entered the year 22, like 2005, at this point I don't know what it is?

1:59:02 - Rich DeMuro
I don't know how far behind I am but it still have micro USB, If you're not. If it has USB-C, you're ahead of the code.

1:59:09 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I think it's USB-C. I haven't charged it yet, but if it is a micro USB I will throw it out the window.

1:59:13 - Rich DeMuro
They switched, I think like last year or the year before, but it was like it took a while for the for Amazon to like switch to anything but micro USB for the Kindle. It was so frustrating, it's really annoying.

1:59:26 - Jason Howell
All right, at least one of us got some technology on Black Friday, or.

1:59:29 - Abrar Al-Heeti

1:59:30 - Jason Howell
Monday. So thank you for pulling that one through. Let's take a quick break. And then, tim, you mentioned pinball. I really want to talk to you about this after the break. We'll talk about a little bit about pinball, because I learned something new about you today. I don't know how I overlooked this over the years, but apparently you renovate and restore pinball machines and I'm just I'm floored by how much work and effort that takes. So let's talk about that after the break. But first let's take a moment to thank the sponsor of this episode of this Week in Tech, brought to you by Lookout.

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2:01:52 - TWiT Promo
Pick of the week. It is a really cool game that is set in 16th century Bavaria. And you are a? Yes, jeff, it is related to the dawn of the printing press. You'd love it, jeff.

2:02:10 - Jason Howell
You can report back on its historical accuracy.

2:02:13 - TWiT Promo
I want to get on stage and bring the musical so I can say exactly how everything in the musical is wrong. I think I would go over really well. I think so too. Previously on Twitter, iOS today.

2:02:24 - Rich DeMuro
Apparently on. Facebook people were suggesting that Name Drop was incredibly dangerous.

2:02:31 - TWiT Promo
Both people have to agree to share their information, and then a little animation pops up and ta-da, it will then, at that point, share your contact information, but it doesn't just magically do it when you touch two phones together. This is not the privacy threat that people are reporting that it is this Week in Space.

2:02:51 - TWiT Promo
We're joined by Dr George Neal. You are a spaceman. Not many people get to say that.

2:02:56 - Tim Stevens
Full experience was an incredible one. After lift off, you're pushed back into your seat. Photographs and videos just do not do it justice. Just an incredible view this week in Google.

2:03:09 - TWiT Promo
Adobe's $20 billion purchase of Figma with harm innovation. Uk regulators provisionally find a merger can bring a better product to the masses. I don't see anything wrong with that and again, I think it's one of those lines of well, we can't beat them, let's buy them.

2:03:26 - TWiT Promo
Well, but that's, I think you've just made the answer. Yeah, exactly yeah.

2:03:30 - TWiT Promo
But at the same time Figma's like sure to it, our, our, our rounding number is here Of course.

2:03:39 - Jason Howell
Yeah, cash in, cash in. Let's see here. First of all I just want to say Tim Stevens, abraharahiti, rich D'Amiro, thank you so much for doing this. It's been a lot of fun hanging out with you guys and it's been a nice little like CNET past and present reunion of sorts. So it's been fun talking tech with you guys.

Tim, I came across I think it was a threads post of yours as we were kind of leading up to today of what is it? The Williams Comet pinball machine? And then I realized in that moment, like wait a minute, this is an aspect of Tim Stevens that I was not aware of, so I don't know how I missed it over the last couple of years. But you renovate old pinball machines and, as I started kind of looking through pictures, and then you shared a cool article, you wrote a very detailed article. You wrote about the experience of rebuilding one machine. I am just so impressed Not not just that you do this, but anybody does this because this looks as as rewarding as it probably is. It looks like a total nightmare to me, like like a stress ball. Like I, I would pop one of these things open and in 10 minutes, be completely lost and never be able to get it back together again. So I'm impressed that you can even pull that off. Tell us a little bit about what that's like, my goodness.

2:04:56 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, yeah, these are incredibly complicated machines. You know, pinball machines were hugely popular for, you know, decades and decades, and then they very quickly got wiped off the face of the planet in the late 80s and early 90s as arcade machines, video games, came in because, and largely because, these pinball machines were so incredibly difficult to keep alive that all these arcade operators were very happy to go to a solid state video game machine and get all those stupid pinball machines out of their lives. So that's what almost killed pinball tables. But yeah, it's. It's this hobby that my wife and I have that we've gotten into, where we take old, unloved, really tired and abused pinball machines and strip them down and polish them and bring them back to life.

That's the one that you're playing now is the, the space shuttle machine that we are just about finished with. We're doing some final work with paint matching on that to get it ready to go and then that will be up for sale probably pretty soon. But yeah, we take these unloved machines that are covered in dust the comment that I was working on today. Literally I spent about half an hour this morning sucking up cobwebs and in all sorts of nastiness out of that thing to get it ready to be torn down, and then we will basically take off the playfield, strip all the components off of that, sand that down, put on a new playfield and then we polish up all the components. We will repaint the cabinets, and that's what in particular, needs a lot of of CPU work as well. All the circuit boards have to come out. I'm going to pull a lot of components off of that too, but as you can see in that picture there, look at that.

2:06:19 - Jason Howell
Look at that. That is like a nightmare.

2:06:24 - Tim Stevens
Everything's hardwired on a pinball machine. There's no real quick disconnects to make it easy. And so on that table that high speed table that we refurbished we did a full playfield swap, which means the plank of wood that everything's attached to we actually put a new one in, and since everything attaches to that plank of wood, everything has to come off, and that meant desoldering every single one of the hundreds of components that are in there. So I had to label every single connector on there and then desolder them all by hand and then put the new playfield on and solder everything back up again. It took us just about a full year to do that. So that project is working, you know, nights and weekends and that kind of kind of, kind of casually.

2:07:00 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I aspire for that level of patience and commitment. That is a name 100%.

2:07:03 - Tim Stevens
You took the words right out of my mouth bro, it's trying to to like this, this kind of weird co-op strategy game for my wife and I were. You know, we enjoyed playing through games like the witness together and things like that. So when we kind of dove into this, it's it's this massive exercise of troubles shooting. You know, why is this bulb not coming on? Okay, let's go trace the wire, and then you trace the wire back up to the board and then is the wire working? Is the wire is working? Then there's something wrong on the board.

And if there's something wrong on the board, then is it this chip, Is it this transistor? And so it's just that times, times a million, basically, and on top of that there's aspects of woodworking and painting and refurbishing, and so if you get sick of soldering one day, you can send something down and paint it instead, or or do any number of things. And it's just a massive puzzle basically to figure out. And and we found it to be yeah, it's kind of a nice way, even though it's a bit of technology. It's actually a good way to disconnect from everything, because everything is very tangible, Everything is right in front of you, and it's it's a great way to to kind of get away from everything for a couple of hours.

2:08:01 - Jason Howell
Great way to get away from everything for a couple of hours and and I think I'm probably correct in saying like a really cool, like way to bond with your partner, Like you're both like focused effort on this one really like complex piece of machinery together, Like what a what a cool project to do together.

2:08:23 - Tim Stevens
I'm so into this yeah, it's, it's been, it's been really great. She she thought I was absolutely insane when I started to to work on my first table and then she said well, I'll help you out and do the bulbs. That was what she was going to help me out, because one of the big things that you do if you're bringing a table back to life is you replace the old incandescent bulbs with new LED bulbs which are cooler, more efficient. You know all the good stuff that come along with LEDs. So she got into you know researching what's the ideal color temperature for all these LEDs and she got totally into that and then it just went all way down the open there.

2:08:55 - Abrar Al-Heeti
That's like a real act of love, right there I know right, You're interested in this thing 100%. I'm going to do the research. I love that.

2:09:04 - Jason Howell
Five years ago. Did either of you think this is going to be our part time? You know our off time hobby together is rebuilding pinball machines. Like what? How are you inspired to do that in the beginning?

2:09:16 - Tim Stevens
No, it definitely was not meant to be hobby Basically. We refreshed our garage and we turned it from kind of a scary dark and did you place into a nice place that we actually wanted to do work in. We, you know, to drive on paint and turn into a nice place because we both like working on cars and she has her wood shop out there. And the cherry on top for me was going to be to get this high speed pinball table, which was always my favorite table as a kid.

I never had the money to play it, but I was watched, all the other kids who played, and I finally had the opportunity now I had the perfect corner in my garage said I was going to get this, this table, and I got it and put it in the corner and loved it. And then I immediately realized that I had room for a second pinball table next to it and we decided that the table we wanted was was Star Trek, the next generation. We both love Star Trek, the next generation and this is a really great pinball table. But it's also very valuable pinball table and it was older more than I wanted to spend. So I found a very tired, very cheap one and I said I'm going to buy this beat up old table and I'm going to bring it back to life and my wife thought I was absolutely insane. But it turned out to be the the kind of the beginning of this, this, this great hobby for the two of us.

2:10:19 - Jason Howell
Well, I'm deeply respect what you're doing here and God that'll keep you busy for a while. That table full of of of wires going all over the place, like you know what it reminds me of it makes me realize like before we just my wife and I just upgraded to a laser printer not too long ago because the previous printer that we had was an inkjet. And you know we we got it because it was a well rated inkjet. Well, sure enough, somewhere along the line it started acting weird, as all inkjet printers seem to do, and I didn't want to just, you know, do the lazy thing of like throw it away or give it away or whatever. I wanted to like open it up and like see, like okay, there's got to be a deeper way to clean these things so that we can get some more life out of this Cause it just it breaks my heart to think that I'm buying this gigantic mass of technology and I'm going to use it for four years and then it's going to end up in a landfill, like. I'm just not okay with that. And so I broke it open and, you know, found some tutorials online, some videos and everything, and it was. It seemed to me that it was way more complicated and difficult for me than it probably would be for other technology minded people. But I was able to figure it out Flash forward.

Another like maybe nine months and the printer's doing the same thing again, and so I ended up popping that sucker open and trying to like piece it back together, which was maybe like I don't know seven wires total, you know, and like a little ribbon and stuff like that. Like it was pretty obvious where things go was so hard for me and maybe it's just how my brain works. So then I look at this table with like literal hundreds of connections on all this wire going everywhere. I was like that does not work for my brain. I could not do that. I'm pretty certain I could not do that. Maybe I could do it if I was there with someone doing it, but by myself you could definitely do it.

2:12:10 - Tim Stevens
Yeah, I mean, I knew nothing at all about this. I just jumped in and so, you know, I didn't know how to read a multimeter. Before that, I really knew very basic soldering, but now, you know, I'm pretty proficient at doing that kind of thing. I can read a wiring diagram, which is really, really important as you're doing this kind of thing. And yeah, it's just stuff that we picked up along the way. It's just kind of a non-passionate rush, but yeah, we felt the same way. I mean, it feels really good to take something that is absolutely awful and ugly and full of dirt and bugs and cobwebs and at the you know, a couple of months later or a year later in some cases, you had this beautiful, shiny pinball table that looks as good as new and then you can get to play it, which is the best part. You know, at the end you had this cool thing that we could play for a while and then send it off to a new home, hopefully.

2:12:54 - Jason Howell
Yeah Well, really cool stuff. I love the things that you do in your off time. One of the things that you do One of the things yeah, exactly, exactly. And then finally, before we wrap things up, any Kiss fans here? Anyone into that old, the aging, 50 years ago Kiss band?

2:13:13 - Tim Stevens
No, apparently not, you know, the first pinball table I ever played was a Kiss pinball table.

2:13:16 - Jason Howell
Oh, okay, well, there we go.

2:13:17 - Tim Stevens
Moving here, but no, I can't say, as I'm a big Kiss fan.

2:13:21 - Jason Howell
I mean, I appreciate some of their music, but I wouldn't say that I'm a die hard Kiss fan. Anyways, why am I talking about Kiss? Well, they, on Saturday night, that was just yesterday, had their final performance of their end of the road farewell tour. This was in New York City's Madison Square Garden. So apparently Kiss is no longer.

Why are we talking about this on a technology show? Because Kiss is going to be immortalized as they become digital avatars and basically they, the avatars, are created by George Lucas's special effects company, of course, a pop house, entertainment group, a group, a collective that was responsible for Abba's virtual concert, which I checked the prices on, this virtual concert and they're like that is a pricey thing. That happens. You know that that is going all the time and I don't know if Kiss's virtual show is going to be a touring show or if it's going to be a fixture. But it's just interesting to me that we're at the point to where, you know, even when a band members age out, they can create an enduring experience of their show that's based on them. And I don't know if you, benito, have had the link to the Abba virtual concert, but there's a, there's a video in there, a video player in there. If you play on this and then just you know, imagine that it's Kiss but it's also Abba, like this is.

This was the first time that, like, I watched a video like this and I was like, okay, I've heard about virtual avatars doing you know shows, like during someone's show they bring up you know like Michael Jackson or something like that. It always sounded really cheesy to me. It still kind of does. But if you're in an environment like this, where it's really set up for that experience, I can see this actually being really cool. Like this would be a really interesting way to you know, keep, keep the dream alive, keep the kiss alive. What do you all think? What do you all think? Is this cheese or cool?

2:15:17 - Abrar Al-Heeti
You know, obviously your first reaction, my first reaction is to think why would I want this? But then I think about myself and the fact that I go to these like Taylor Swift nights where they just play her music. And I remember the first time I told, like my sister, that I was going to one of these, she was like so you got dressed up, went somewhere we're really excited about it, Took all these pictures, posted them on social media and Taylor wasn't even there, Like. And so when I went to the actual Taylor Swift concert, she was like, will Taylor actually be there this time? Because she sees how excited I get for things where it's like the artist isn't actually even there.

So imagine if there's this virtual projection of the artist that you love and know and like. You see this with the Taylor Swift concert movie, for example like people are in the theater, like dancing and having a good time and that's just like a normal movie theater screen. So if it's something immersive like this, of course nothing will replace being able to see the person live on stage, but not everyone has an opportunity and as artists get older and they can't do that, then this could be, you know, a logical replacement for that.

2:16:12 - Tim Stevens
Well, when I totally agree, sorry, tim go, I think. Hey, yeah, sorry about that. I also think it's probably, if in some ways, a less depressing thing than seeing, you know, the same band that's been on tour for 30 years and just getting progressively slower and maybe a little bit more off tune each time. To see a band in their prime, even in a digital way, might be a more satisfying thing to do, and you know there are a lot of bands that I listened to that I'll never had the chance to ever see live, and so it would be interesting to be able to, to have that experience, even if it were virtual experience. But yeah, I'm not sure that that it should cost as much as a real experience, and so, yeah, so I think I agree with you there, jason. I'm surprised at how much these things cost.

2:16:49 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, I think that was going to be my comment is the it's cool and I think it's it's kind of fun, but there's got to be a limit for me for the price that I'm willing to pay. And I think, with the Taylor Swift thing, like, we saw that movie and it was very popular, but the price point was very good for a lot of people and it's it's local, it's easy. So I do see this as like really fun and like why not? Like you can see a lot of different, it's like another form of entertainment and so it is kind of cool. But I think the prices of concert tickets are very expensive. These should be like a fraction of the price, you know, and then you make it up on the beer price, I guess.

2:17:29 - Jason Howell
Yeah, there you go. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, the price is really really high for the ABA experience. I think it was something like in the 150 range or something and I don't know. But then, at the same time, if you're in a room like that video, they're obviously in an auditorium that is designed for that, so there's a whole light show that's surrounding them. It's very, it's a very immersive environment. I think also, in that situation, you need a room full of people, because if it's just like 10 of you there, maybe not nearly as exciting, you know.

2:18:05 - Rich DeMuro
I think on a similar side to this, I tested a like a virtual concert experience, like a, but it wasn't really a concert. It was like one person performing almost like a private show for you, like in VR, like it was gosh I'm trying to remember the artist's name, but it was really interesting because it was. It was very well done, super high production value, azar Larson, and it's this company called Amaze VR and it was really impressive. I mean, just sitting there was like a 15, 20 minute show, but it was like almost like it made me realize that that will be another form of entertainment where you will pay, you know, 20 bucks to watch a VR concert that is for you, it seems personalized for you, and, of course, you'll be able to watch concerts that are also in VR.

So I think there's just so much entertainment just continues to evolve. And there are, you know, being in that concert hall with you know, when I went to Sea Taylor Swift, it was like 70,000 people and you know we're so high up and like, what are you doing? 99% of the time you're looking at that screen that has them on your watching TV inside a shared venue, yeah, and, unless you're in front row, second row, whatever. That's kind of the concert going experience these days. So I think that there's a lot of play, a lot at play here and a lot of potential for technology to change the way we see entertainment, but also not get rid of the traditional concert, but just you know, different ways of experiencing that.

2:19:32 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Yeah, and those conversations have really ramped up post lockdowns, because there was a virtual concert and I think it's a very generous term, but somebody at CES, during that one year that we were all locked down is 2021 had a virtual concert experience that I attended and it was a very they tried. You're just like on your computer and it's like there's little dots everywhere, and then like the performers on this little screen on your computer, it is just it was trying too hard, I think, and I was like I don't know why I would ever want this. If you're watching in VR, that sounds a lot cooler. But I think there have been all these conversations about what does that concert going experience look like, with this obvious shift that we've had in terms of how we work and how we communicate with people, when we've realized that sometimes we just want to stay home?

2:20:15 - Tim Stevens
Yep, I think most of the time I would like to stay home.

2:20:22 - Jason Howell
Except when you are invited as a guest on this week in tech.

2:20:31 - Rich DeMuro
Not leaving home. It's the best guest ever. Why we're?

2:20:34 - Abrar Al-Heeti
here yeah.

2:20:35 - Jason Howell
Yeah Well, next time we'll have to have the three of you in the studio and you will leave home. No, no, no, it's okay, we can always do this long distance. It's fine too For you, jason. Thank you, I'm honored Seriously. Thank you to all of you for being on today. Abarra Hitti with CNET. It's just a real pleasure to be able to do this show with you now, not just TNW but Twitch, so thank you, it's been a lot of fun. Appreciate you.

2:21:02 - Abrar Al-Heeti
Thank you for having me Always such a pleasure.

2:21:04 - Jason Howell
Yeah, and people can find the videos that you produced. You also write articles, so you do a little bit of both for CNET, right?

2:21:11 - Abrar Al-Heeti
I do so. Yeah, I'm on CNET's website, cnet socials. You'll see my face everywhere. Follow along, hopefully you'll find it useful.

2:21:18 - Jason Howell
Yes, indeed. Well, I do. Thank you, abarra, we'll see you soon. Thank you, and Tim Stevens. Tim Stevens, substackcom doing the independent thing. Tim, it's a pleasure I always get to. I always enjoy getting the chance to catch up with you, so thank you for hanging out today. Yeah, thanks very much for having me. Yeah, absolutely, we'll have you back again soon and I'm sure you'll tell us about the Cybertruck once you get your own. Maybe you won't get your own, but you haven't driven it one yet, right?

2:21:44 - Tim Stevens
I've not. I've been driven in one, but I've not had a chance to go in one yet.

2:21:46 - Jason Howell
Okay, so you've been inside it. Was it at least comfortable on the inside?

2:21:51 - Tim Stevens
It was fine. Yeah, I mean it certainly wasn't up there with like a Lariat trim F-150 or anything like that, but it was rooming spacious anyway.

2:21:58 - Jason Howell
Okay, well, at least there's that then. All right. Thank you, Tim and Rich, demiro, ktla, of course, morning News and Rich on Tech, rich on Tech TV. Rich, thank you so much. Always fun hanging out with you. Occasionally I get to run into you in real life at a Google event, which happened earlier this year, but this is second to that, so thank you.

2:22:19 - Rich DeMuro
That's right. Thank you for having me and find my podcast. The radio show is Rich on Tech, but that's also the name of the podcast, so subscribe and see what all the fun is on that show.

2:22:31 - Jason Howell
That's it, and that's at richontechtv.

2:22:35 - Rich DeMuro
Yeah, or just search in your favorite, you know audio app. That's what I say nowadays. That's a lot. I mean you can find the direct link. But let's be honest, whatever you use, I've been using Spotify for podcasts and I think it's actually been pretty good there you go.

2:22:48 - Jason Howell
Wherever you are there, you are, just use that. All right, thank you, rich, appreciate it. Thank you to Benito. Thank you to John Slanina here in the studio for helping us do this show today. Thank you to Leo for allowing me to sit in his chair, although I'm not actually in the Dr Evil chair. I find that chair to be just a little too big and spacious, so I'm in a normal chair, but nonetheless, I'm in the center of the table hosting an episode of TWIT and I can't thank Leo and Lisa enough for the opportunity to do that. And thank you for allowing me to kind of sit in his place, leo.

We'll be back for next week's episode of TWIT. In the meantime, if you want to find all of our past episodes, all the information about what we do here on this show, just go to twittv, slash twit and you'll have your information right there. We record every Sunday, starting at 2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern, 2200 UTC. And, yeah, everything you need to know is there. Don't forget we also have a club called Club TWIT. This is a way for you to subscribe to the content that we do directly and right now, podcast advertising. It's in a really challenging place right now, and so we are just incredibly thankful to have the club as an opportunity and, for those of you who are willing to pay a monthly fee for our content, get all of our shows with no ads, get extra content, extra shows that don't exist outside of the club, as well as access to our Discord, which is just a whole lot of fun. All that for $7 a month. Twittv slash club twit is where you can go for that, and you're supporting us directly, and we really, really, really thank you when you do that.

But, as for me, find me at raygunfun. That's my shortened URL for the direct link to all the things that I have going on online. It's just easier than telling you all the different places. I am Raygunfun and Tech News Weekly as well, every Thursday with Micah Sargent, and AI Inside Every Thursday in the club with Jeff Jarvis. But that's it. I'm going to end the show right now. Thank you so much for watching and listening to this week in Tech. Another twit is in the can. Bye, everybody.

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