December 31, 2016 — Stephen Baker and Derek Kessler

On this week’s all-star episode, we feature noted industry analyst Stephen Baker, Vice President for Industry Analysis at the NPD Group. He begins the conversation discussing the success of 4K (Ultra HD) TV sets during the holiday quarter. What about the advanced picture technologies, such as HDR, and what about the dearth of 4K content? The discussion will also focus on whether Samsung was hurt at all, in holiday sales, by the exploding batteries scandal that forced the company to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 phablet. You’ll also hear some positive news about Mac sales for the holiday quarter despite the controversy over the Late 2016 MacBook Pro.

You’ll also hear from Derek Kessler, managing editor of Mobile Nations, a web portal that runs several popular tech sites. The discussion begins with the success of 4K TVs, and whether or not Samsung customers were dissuaded by the failure of the Galaxy Note 7. There will also be a preview of the expected hot ticket items at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, which include VR gear. Is virtual reality poised to come into its own? What about the connected home — the Internet of Things — and can security issues derail its success? Gene and Derek will also talk about smartwatches. and the recent failure of Pebble, a pioneer in the market. Its assets were recently purchased by Fitbit. So are smartwatches now stillborn, or is there hope that the Apple Watch can help move the market to the point where such products become must-haves?

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December 24, 2016 — Kirk McElhearn and Dr. Timothy Summers

Outspoken columnist and podcaster Kirk McElhearn, also known as Macworld’s “iTunes Guy,” returns to talk about a variety of tech issues. A discussion about the future of diesel cars in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal turns to autonomous driving, as Gene wonders when he’ll be too old to drive for himself. From there the discussion veers to the use of robots in fast food restaurants and supermarkets before it settles on Apple’s late-shipping AirPods. These wireless in-ear headphones have become as controversial as Apple’s MacBook Pro. Kirk provides a first take, describing the setup process and his impressions of their sound quality.

You’ll also hear from ethical hacker Dr. Timothy Summers, President of Summers & Company, a cyber strategy and organizational design consulting firm, on a wide range of subjects. He’ll start with extensive background information on the presumed Russian hack of the DNC and Democratic politicians. How was it determined that the Russians were responsible, and not the Chinese or the alleged “400 pound man in his basement”? You’ll also hear about yet another reported hack on Yahoo, involving an estimated one billion accounts. And there’s a real shocker: Is it possible for a hacker to easily “clone” your car’s key fob, to take control of the vehicle or steal it? Dr. Summers explains how it can be done on many makes and models with a device that costs a mere $30, and the best ways to protect yourself.

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December 17, 2016 — Kirk McElhearn and Bryan Chaffin

We feature columnist and podcaster  Kirk McElhearn, also known as Macworld’s “iTunes Guy.” During this session, Kirk remains in”rant mode,” as he discusses the ongoing controversy over the battery life of the Late 2016 MacBook Pro, and why Apple chose to remove the “time remaining” display in the macOS Sierra 10.12.2 update. Kirk also explains why he’s keeping his Macs longer than ever nowadays before selling them off. The discussion covers Amazon’s first attempts to deliver merchandise to customers via drones.

You’ll also hear from commentator Bryan Chaffin, co-founder and co-publisher of The Mac Observer, who is in “cranky mode” this time out. He is concerned over the fact that Apple, despite all its resources, appears to be delivering fewer and fewer new products, far less in 2016 than in 2015. And what about the new MacBook Pro. Does it truly deserve the “pro” label? Bryan wonders whether Apple’s chief designer, Sir Jonathan Ive, needs an “editor” to help eliminate some of the excesses in his designs, such as the apparent obsession with slim and light in place of more important features. What about Apple’s decision to stop making displays, and reports that the AirPort line of Wi-Fi routers will also be discontinued? Bryan also talks about the revelation about yet another data breach at Yahoo, this time impacting over one billion accounts.

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December 10, 2016 — Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus and Jeff Gamet

We feature long-time author Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus, who focuses the conversation to some degree on the controversial Late 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. He also mentions a few of his favorite gadgets for the holiday season. But perhaps the most interesting part of the discussion is when Gene and Bob speak of the time they almost met a member of the Beatles. There’s also a short discussion about the reported resurgence of vinyl records, and Gene’s curious problem with his AT&T wireless account, where voices on the other end of the connection sounded as if they had slowed down to half speed.

You’ll also hear from commentator Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer. The interview begins with a semi-technical discussion of time travel, based on the concepts from sci-fi and comic books. So what might happen if one travels back through time, and makes a very minor change that can foul up the timeline in the future? The discussion moves to several topics, including the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Is Apple falling behind the technology curve with its new notebook, which some claim is not really a “pro” machine? Jeff also offers an update on the latest scuttlebutt about the Apple Car, which appears to be focusing more and more on self-driving technology rather than a motor vehicle with an Apple logo on it.

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December 3, 2016 — John Martellaro and Kirk McElhearn

We feature commentator John Martellaro, Senior Editor, Analysis & Reviews for The Mac Observer. His bill of fare includes the “tribal warfare” that often surrounds the Apple ecosystem, the difficulties in “extracting truth” from Apple, along with how the company has been blindsided by such products as the Microsoft Surface Stereo all-in-one desktop and HP’s Z2 Mini Workstation; the latter is designed to compete as a higher-end alternative to the Mac mini. John will also focus on Apple’s mistakes in releasing a fourth-generation Apple TV set-top box without such key features as 4K and HDR support, coming at a time when 4K TVs are really taking off.

You’ll also hear from outspoken columnist and podcaster Kirk McElhearn, also known as Macworld’s “iTunes Guy.” Gene and Kirk begin the discussion covering the so-called resurgence of vinyl, and Gene’s personal experiences listening to some of the most famous recordings on the cheap record player his parents bought him. The two also provide a no-nonsense look at the real differences between analog and digital. Kirk moves into rant mode as he complains about the delays in shipping the Late 2016 MacBook Pro and the fact that, except for a brief period, the LG 5K display that was supposed to accompany Apple’s upgraded notebooks was not available to order. Kirk calls it “bait and switch.”

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