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February 17, 2018: Each week, Gene speaks directly to the industry’s movers and shakers, including corporate leaders, industry analysts, and regular panels that feature the most respected journalists who cover personal technology.

This week’s guests include commentator John Martellaro, Senior Editor, Analysis & Reviews for The Mac Observer. John’s talking points include the HomePod, and whether some of the critical reviewers, including Consumer Reports magazine, were expecting too much from it. He also brings up a possible sensitivity with nearby objects, where the presence of a salt shaker close to a HomePod seriously hurt sound quality. The discussion moves to 4K/UHD TV, which John says has finally come of age. In a slightly technical discussion, John explains how the expensive iMac Pro can exploit up to 18 cores and whether any of that holds any value for the typical Mac or PC user. There’s also a discussion about a blogger’s curious and overwrought reaction to a pair of visits to an Apple Store that, after some delays, had a favorable result. And why is Apple’s complex product lineup “perfect?”

You’ll also hear from Josh Centers, Managing Editor for TidBITS, and author of “Take Control of Apple TV” and other titles, who explains how he got an Apple TV 4K at a big discount, and why he’s becoming disenchanted with the product and why he likes Google Chromecast  more and more. In turn, Gene reminds listeners that his VIZIO TV has an embedded Chomecast system known as SmartCast, and why he hasn’t used his Apple TV, an older model, in over two months. And what about the HomePod and the so-called scandal involving white rings being left on oiled or waxed wood surfaces by its silicone base? Should Apple have explained this limitation earlier? What about reports that the Sonos One leaves white traces from its silicone feet? Josh also explains why he’s about to give up on Apple Music.

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Download NOW PLAYING! February 10, 2018 — Kirk McElhearn and Rob Pegoraro

This week’s guests include commentator and podcaster Kirk McElhearn. This week he focuses his discussion on reports that Apple has lost the services of a showrunner, Bryan Fuller, for its planned “Amazing Stories” reboot and whether that was due to taking an approach that’s too restrained, too family friendly. Kirk and Gene agree about a possible way Apple will distribute these new shows. They also talk about the potential value of ad blockers, or lack thereof,, which remove the ads from a site your viewing The discussion moves to Kirk’s concerns about the HomePod, not about its sound quality but whether Siri will be able to understand complicated requests to play music.

You’ll also hear from columnist Rob Pegoraro, who writes for USA Today, Yahoo Finance, Wirecutter and other publications. He discusses in detail his trip to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, the most powerful rocket ship the company has developed so far. Rob will also explain what happened when he got lost. He briefly talks about his expectations for Apple’s smart speaker, the HomePod before discussing unexpected privacy issues involving an activity-tracking social network known as Strava, and the downsides of publicly revealing the location of its users, especially if that location is a secret U.S. military base. The privacy of connected cars is also discussed, particularly concerns about all that driving data a car collects, which can be used by insurance company, with a plugin receiver, to track your driving record. Gene and Rob also discuss whether car makers should make it easy for you to erase your data when you trade in the vehicle or its totaled.


Download February 3, 2018 — Jarrod Suffecool and Joe Kissell

This week’s guests include Jarrod Suffecool, Intelligence Team Lead for Binary Defense, who takes us on a fascinating journey through the Dark Web (darknet). You’ll learn about the unsavory activities that include “crime-as-a-service” — professional hacking kits and criminal services (created or offered by skilled hackers) that anyone can buy or rent online, and they’re often very inexpensive. This makes it easier for less skilled criminals to pull off sophisticated attacks and scams, and we’ll see a lot of this by tax fraud rings over the next two months. You’ll also learn about Tor, the browser used to access Dark Web. Binary Defense Systems specializes in monitoring and infiltrating criminal marketplaces on the Dark Web to protect businesses and uncover evidence of crimes.

You’ll also hear from author/publisher Joe Kissell, of Take Control Books. Joe talks about some of the problems he’s encountered with macOS High Sierra, and about the decline in the quality of Apple’s operating systems. What about reports that Apple is cutting back on planned features for iOS 12 to emphasize reliability? Also discussed: The apparent failure of Apple’s “underpromise and overdeliver” policy by postponing features in new products that aren’t ready for prime time, including the delays in expanding support for the APFS file system to Fusion drives and Time Machine. What about the complexities and reliability problems of iCloud, which is a cornerstone of Apple’s services? Joe mentions that he’s had to backup and restore his new Mac after owning it for less than a month, and Gene talks about the very worst Mac he ever owned, one that required constant repairs from Apple in the short time he owned it.


Download January 27, 2018 — Adam Engst and Jonny Evans

This week’s guests include writer/editor Adam Engst, of TidBITS, who delivers an update on the CPU bug and Apple’s ongoing fixes to “mitigate,” but not eliminate the problem. Adam briefly explains the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, as Gene briefly banters about the connection of the latter name to one of the James Bond villains. There’s a brief discussion of CES, which involved the usual presentation of gadgets that most people will forget soon, or will never actually go on sale. And what about the DNS Attack, malware that was recently discovered on the Mac platform? What does it do? Also discussed: Apple’s HomePod, which is now available to order, as Gene mentions how TV makers have licensed such technologies as Roku, Amazon and Google Chromecast to replace their usual clunky interfaces.

You’ll also hear from outspoken columnist Jonny Evans, Computerworld’s “Apple Holic,” who talks about reports of an “iPhone addiction,” in which people supposedly pay too much attention to their smartphones. Gene mentions the well-known phenomenon of lines and lines of people walking about looking down at their mobile gear. Apple’s CarPlay is briefly mentioned, along with the 2018 CES in which, again, many of the announcements involved gadgets that will never see the light of day. Jonny brings up privacy in connection with Amazon’s Alexa, about the world’s largest online retailer’s interface turning up on some TV sets. After Gene lists the connection cables he needs for his TV and his iMac, Jonny makes a strong pitch for “cable free,” in which all your gear can be connected without the need for wires and endless wire clutter.


Download January 20, 2018 — Peter Cohen and Jeff Gamet

This week’s guests include commentator and podcaster Peter Cohen, who discusses the CPU bug, involving malware dubbed Meltdown an Spectre, and why was Apple blamed by some for a problem that’s existed with CPUs throughout the computing industry since 1997? Peter provides a full explanation of the problem and how it’s triggered. There’s also a discussion about the dispute over iPhone X sales, whether sales were high or disappointing. Gene and Peter also talk about the recent announcement from Apple about its five-year plan partly based on the U.S. tax cut, where Apple plans to repatriate billions of dollars of its overseas hoard and use some of it for new hires, employee stock awards, a second corporate headquarters, new data centers and, as expected, stock buybacks and dividends.

You’ll also hear from tech journalist Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer. Jeff discusses a possible Skype alternative known as Discord, and mentions the announcement that Microsoft has unified the Office code base that may, at some time in the future, mean feature parity of both the Mac and Windows versions. In discussing the Apple TV 4K, Jeff mentions a problem with a recent update for one of the HDR protocols, Dolby Vision. The discussion moves to the amazing performances of character actors and how they enhance a movie or TV show, which includes brief discussions of the duo’s favorite shows. Jeff offers his opinion about Apple’s promised investments as the result of the tax cut. There’s also a brief exchange on whether or not Apple ever plans to update the Mac mini, which hasn’t been changed since 2014.


Download January 13, 2018 — Josh Centers and Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus

This week’s guests include tech journalist Josh Centers, Managing Editor for TidBITS, and author of “Take Control of Apple TV” and other titles. Josh talks at length about the notorious CPU bug and how it’s impacted the computing world. Gene brings up reports that older Windows PCs will evidently suffer from performance reductions, and Josh mentions cloud services, such as gaming systems, which are heavily impacted. There’s a brief discussion of 4K TVs which moves into the Apple TV 4K. Has Apple’s set-top streaming box realized its potential, or has it become less useful with the growth of smart TVs that offer their own streaming channels without needing outside gear? Josh mentions the TCL televisions that come with Roku technology built in. There’s also a CES 2018 update and some of the most interesting new gadgets.

You’ll also hear from prolific author Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus, who summarizes his joint tests of an iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus. He carried around one of them in each pocket for weeks, and tested the cameras to see which he preferred and why. Which one did he decide to keep? What about the CPU bug and its impact, and about the misleading impression created by some members of the media that it was just an Apple problem and not one that affected billions of devices? Gene and Bob also talk about Apple’s iMac Pro workstation, which can cost over $13,000 when fully maxed out. Will Apple keep its promise to release a newly-designed Mac Pro that will be both modular and upgradeable? Or will the company just stick with the new iMac? Gene explains why he suspects one of Apples new display will offer 8K to better support movie editing.


Download January 6, 2018 — Kirk McElhearn and Jeff Gamet

We feature podcaster and commentator Kirk McElhearn. The main focus is the revelation that CPU chips from Intel, AMD and other manufacturers have serious security flaws that may have existed as far back as 1997. This week Apple announced that recent iOS and macOS updates have contained “mitigations” for the Meltdown bug, and that it plans to introduce fixes for the Spectre bug that impacts browsers. The session also covers Apple’s Throttlegate scandal, and what the company should have done to better inform customers of how it was reducing performance on iPhones with deteriorating batteries. Gene and Kirk also talk about remastered and remixed classic recordings such as the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Kirk believes that the best version is the original mono recording from 1967.

In a special encore presentation, you’ll also hear from tech journalist Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer. As the segment begins, Jeff complains that his copy of Skype 7 for the Mac was upgraded to Skype 8 without his approval, and he doesn’t like the all-new interface. In an extended discussion of net neutrality, Gene points out that more and more cable companies are embedding Netflix into their set-top boxes, perhaps as a move to help reduce cord cutting. As the pair move into pop culture mode, Gene mentions the latest reported move by Apple to add original TV content, with a direct-to-series order for a new sci-fi series from producer Ronald D. Moore, whose previous shows include Battlestar Galactica. Jeff explains in great detail why the fabled Star Wars lightsaber would be impossible to use in a real world setting. Gene suggests that the DC Comics super heroes on TV are better than their movie counterparts. And what about having different actors portray such characters as the Flash and Superman?


Download December 30, 2017 — Dr. Eric Cole and Peter Cohen

We feature cybersecurity expert Dr. Eric Cole, Ph.D., who served as Cybersecurity Commissioner for President Obama, the personal cybersecurity advisor for Bill Gates and his family, is a former Senior Vice President at McAfee, and was the Chief Scientist at Lockheed Martin, where he specialized in secure network design advising the Dept. of Defense, the FBI, and the Dept. of Homeland Security. A leading expert on cybersecurity, Dr. Cole will discuss consumer protection, major corporate hacks, such as the large-scale intrusion into Equifax that impacted tens of millions of people, and cybersecurity best practices. Dr. Eric Cole’s newest book is “Online Danger: How to protect yourself and your loved ones from the evil side of the internet.”

You’ll also hear from outspoken commentator and podcaster Peter Cohen, who has a lot to say about the recent revelation that Apple deliberately throttles iPhone performance when the battery is deteriorated. Confronted with class-action lawsuits, Apple has not only apologized for not informing customers in advance of what it was doing, but is offering to replace batteries on the affected models for $29 beginning in late January of 2018, and release an iOS update that will allow you to check battery health. The difficulty in improving battery technology to make them hold a charge longer and handle more charging cycles is also discussed. Gene brings up the Apple TV 4K, and whether smart TV sets, such as the 2017 VIZIO M-Series display that he’s reviewing, which contains Google Chromecast, lessens the need for a separate streaming box.


Download December 23, 2017 — Kirk McElhearn and Bryan Chaffin

On this week’s all-star episode, we feature outspoken commentator/podcaster Kirk McElhearn. Front and center is the ruckus over reports that Apple was deliberately throttling performance of older iPhones. Even though Apple admitted to the practice, claiming it was only done to allow units with deteriorating batteries to function properly, several class action lawsuits have already been filed against the company. Kirk gives you his unvarnished opinion of the practice; does Apple deserve to lose those cases? The discussion also focuses on Apple in 2017, and the costly iMac Pro all-in-one computer, which is now shipping.

You’ll also hear from tech publisher/editor Bryan Chaffin, co-founder and co-publisher of The Mac Observer, who also offers his opinion on Apple’s actions over what Gene calls “Throttlegate.” What about previous so-called Apple scandals, such as “Antennagate,” where connectivity would sharply decline on an iPhone 4 if you held it the “wrong way,” and “Bendgate,” where some users reported that the iPhone 6 Plus would bend when placed in the rear pockets of their pants? Gene and Bryan also talk about the value of Apple TV. In offering a brief report on the Vizio M-Series TV he’s reviewing, which comes with Google Chromecast built in, Gene wonders about the future prospects for Apple’s streamer. In pop culture mode, the duo talk about Apple’s reported billion dollar move into TV production, which includes a new sci-fi show produced by Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame. And does Tom Cruise really do most or all of those death-defying stunts in his movies?


Check out the Show Archives for earlier episodes.