Join The Mac Observer's John Martellaro every week for fascinating interviews with tech industry pros and luminaries. It's more than a show about what they do; it's about who they are.
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TMO Background Mode Interview #4 with Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers
Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com and has published several Take Control (TC) books. He’s the author of Take Control of Apple TV and Take Control of Home Automation. He’s been writing the Take Control books for iOS since version 8, and his...
Mar. 18th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview #4 with Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers
Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com and has published several Take Control (TC) books. He's the author of Take Control of Apple TV and Take Control of Home Automation. He's been writing the Take Control books for iOS since version 8, and his latest book is Take Control of iOS 12.Josh is a great guest and very knowledgeable about Apple, so I invited him to return to Background Mode for the fourth time. In this show, we first discussed the technology and viability of foldable smartphones. Will Apple develop a foldable iPhone or iPad? Or not at all? In the second segment we took a close look at Apple's new original TV content and service. We pondered pricing, if not free, and how the March 25 "It's show time" event might play out.
Mar. 11th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Special Edition Chat #5 with Kelly Guimont
Kelly Guimont is a long-time pro podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, host of the Mac Observer's Daily Observations podcast, a tech support guru, and a Founding Volunteer of App Camp for Girls.Kelly first appeared here in December, 2015 to tell her career story and has returned several times for interesting technical discussions. In this encore special edition, we chat about our favorite TV shows of late. John: Star Trek: Discovery, Saving Hope, and Being Erica. Kelly: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Doc Martin, and Wynonna Earp. Join us as we explore together what makes these shows so cool.
Mar. 4th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with TMO Podcaster and Journalist John Braun
John Braun is a software engineer, multiple patent holder, a Mac Observer Contributor and co-host of the Mac Observer's podcast Mac Geek Gab (MGG). That podcast launched in 2005, and John has co-hosted 750 episodes to date.We chatted about John's early interest in computers and science, influenced in part by his father, an engineering manager. John started off partial to chemistry, but later specialized in computers. He holds aa B.S. in Computer Engineering and an M.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.John told me about early work with computer bulletin boards, his career at Pitney Bowes, how he got to know Dave Hamilton and then joined the Mac Observer, how he prepares for the weekly podcast, and all about his two current Macs and why he loves them.
Feb. 26th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with Houston Chronicle Technology Editor Dwight Silverman
Dwight Silverman is the technology editor for the Houston Chronicle. He manages the TechBurger website, and writes about personal technology for HoustonChronicle.com, Chron.com and the print edition.Previously, he was the senior web producer for premium products, managing HoustonChronicle.com, the Chronicle's iPad app and E-edition. He also worked as the social media manager and technology blogger for the Houston Chronicle and Chron.com.We chatted about becoming a technology journalist in the early days, his work at various newspapers, dealing with unusual writing assignments, how he fell into the Apple/Mac sphere, writing books about the Mac, and his evolution at the Houston Chronicle. We closed with a discussion of te streaming video business and how Apple will break into the business now dominated by Netflix and Amazon.
Feb. 18th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Encore #6 Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her sixth appearance on Background Mode. Kiki is a neurophysiologist with a B.S. in conservation biology and a Ph.D. avian neurophysiology from the University of California. She's a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show.In this episode, we chat about the science of rising sea levels, neural networks and vocoder technology trained to recognize brain patterns related to listening to human speech, how learning two human languages in childhood positively affects the brain, rebooting the human immune system, whether intelligence is sexy, and the colonization of Mars and whether it will be commercially exploited or preserved by all nations like the Earth's Antarctic. Dr. Kiki is always a delight to listen to and learn from.
Feb. 11th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with Princeton Theoretical Physicist Dr. Paul Steinhardt
Paul Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University, where he is on the faculty of both the departments of Physics and of Astrophysical Sciences. He co-founded the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science and is currently the Director of that prestigious research institution.He has a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard, and his research interests include cosmology, inflation theory, dark matter and specialized solids, including QuasiCrystals.We chatted about the early influences of his father and, later, Dr. Richard Feynman when he was an undergraduate at Caltech. Then we chatted about cosmic inflation, the Multiverse, Dark Matter, and finally QuasiCrystals, the subject of his latest book. Dr. Steinhardt is a preeminent physicist working at the limits of human knowledge. Come listen and enjoy.
Feb. 4th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with Science Writer & Skeptic Dr. Michael Shermer
Michael is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine, a former monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101.He is also a noted science writer and the author of New York Times bestsellers Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain, Why Darwin Matters, and The Science of Good and Evil. His newest book is: Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality & Utopia. We chatted about Michael's early religious views, interest in psychology, his doctoral work, and his path to becoming a professional skeptic. He explained the logical traps people fall into (motivated reasoning) as we turned to climate change, human fantasies about ghosts and psychics, the founding of Skeptic Magazine and the influence of Dr. Carl Sagan. Really good stuff here.
Jan. 28th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with Veteran Technology Reporter John Markoff
John is a former New York Times reporter reporting nationally on science and computing. He's been an adjunct faculty member of the Stanford Graduate Program on Journalism. In 2013 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.John has published several books on the computer industry. Currently he's a Research Affiliate at the Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences researching a biography of Stewart Brand, the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog.We talked about his early days of computing at InfoWorld and Byte, as well as the Kevin Mitnick affair. We also talked about the current breed of young journalists and the importance of community newspapers. We delved into a mutually favorite topic: the problem with personal robots: cost vs. capability vs. expectations.Don't miss this wide-ranging discussion with John.
Jan. 21st, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with the CIO of CoSN Susan Bearden
Susan is the Chief Innovation Officer for the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) in Washington D.C. From 2016 to 2017 she was a Senior Education Pioneers Fellow for the U.S. Department of Education. She also participates in the EdTechChat Radio podcast for the BAM Radio Network.After a discussion about Susan's fascinating career progression from musician to IT specialist to Education Technology specialist, we launched into a discussion of "digital citizenship," also the title of her book. It basically encompasses how to be a smart, informed, ethical user of the internet. The book is aimed a both teachers and parents. Things like cyberbullying and internet safety are covered. Later we got into a discussion of tools for education, including AI. We finish with Susan's amazing perspective on whether robots will ever replace teachers in the classroom.
Jan. 14th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with TMO Contributor Andrew Orr
Andrew is a Contributing Editor at The Mac Observer assigned to the morning news desk. He is also a science and nature lover, with a special interest in botany, as well as an amateur nature photographer.I asked Andrew about growing up in Michigan and his early interest in writing. He also started using computers when he was young and recalled how had to eradicate a virus from an Windows XP PC at age 13. Later he studied computer security at Bay de Noc Community College, and he attributes his technical writing success to the combination of his writing skill, interest in science, and experience with computers. Andrew told me how he was discovered by The Mac Observer and the tools he uses to collect and report the news each morning.
Jan. 7th, 2019
TMO Background Mode Interview with Journalist & TMO Contributor Charlotte Henry
Charlotte is a London-based technical journalist. She writes about Apple — and is now The Mac Observer's newest regular contributor. She has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, The Independent on Sunday and CapX. Her first book, Not Buying It, will be published in June.I asked Charlotte how she got started in technical journalism. The first factor derived from the fact, that, as a youth, there were always new technical gadgets showing up in her home. The second was via her early interest in music creation on a Mac during her college years. We chatted about her first news blog and then meeting Jeff Gamet on the British Tech Network. Finally Charlotte shared some of her personal interests when she's not writing: music, soccer and mystery novels.
Dec. 31st, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with Astrophysicist Dr. Jill Tarter
Jill is a Ph.D. astrophysicist known for her work in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. She's the former director of the Center for SETI Research (2000-2012) and Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy at USC until 2014. Currently, she's Chair Emeritus for SETI Research at the SETI Institute.I asked Jill about how she got started with computers as well as astrophysics, her Ph.D. work and how she became involved with SETI. Then we delved into some of the broader issues of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the Drake equation, searching for ET technosignatures, searching with the right technologies, and what the social perspectives might be of an advanced, spacefaring civilization that survived its aggressive phase. Jill is an expert on SETI, and you'll enjoy her awesome insights.
Dec. 17th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with CNET Journalist Shara Tibken
Shara Tibken is a senior reporter/journalist for CNET News, focused on Samsung and Apple. She previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal.She grew up on a farm in Iowa, where her mother was a teacher, and Shara became an avid book reader. That led to a desire to be a writer, meet people and learn new things. We chatted about her progression from Simpson College to interning for a small newspaper in North Dakota to landing a job with Dow Jones Newswires/WSJ and finally CNET in 2012. We talked about her recent investigation of rural broadband issues in Iowa, which is terrific, as well as future 5G smartphones, Samsung's development of foldable smartphones, Samsung mimicking Apple and more. Shara gets into interesting technical detail on all these topics.
Dec. 10th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Special Edition #5 With Former Apple Executive Michael Gartenberg
Michael Gartenberg spent three years as Apple's Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to Senior VP Phil Schiller. In his fifth encore appearance on Background Mode, Michael and I chat about Apple's 2018 fall lineup of products. We talked about the Apple AirPower, still MIA. We examined the new 2018 MacBook Air and how the 2015 McBook was supposed to be the MBA successor—and failed. We looked at the new iPad Pros and how they may have broken through a computational barrier that will allow new capabilities. Finally, we looked at Apple's 2018 iPhone product strategy as well as the corporate decision to suppress unit sales numbers. Michael is well versed in Apple marketing strategies and is always a delight to have on the show.
Dec. 3rd, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with Smile Software Evangelist Jeff Gamet
Jeff Gamet is the former Managing Editor of The Mac Observer (TMO), a position he held for 13 years. He's also a book author and noted podcaster. Recently, he left TMO to become the Smile Software TextExpander Evangelist.I asked Jeff to tell the TextExpander story, what it does, why it's essential, and how to get it. Then we chatted at length about his job transition process. That meant new tools, new logins, a new daily routine, a new team and new boss. I asked Jeff about the biggest challenge he faced as well as how what he learned at TMO carried over to his new job. I also asked Jeff how he felt about the change in his "voice" and change in public profile. We closed with some things Jeff will be doing in his new position at Smile.
Nov. 26th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with Science Fiction Author Darren Beyer
Darren Beyer is a former NASA Space Shuttle engineer at Kennedy Space Center who worked on launching and recovering more than a dozen missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope. He also conducted astronaut training and had the honor of working onboard every Space Shuttle orbiter except Challenger. In late 1998, he left NASA to become an entrepreneur, and, lately, an author.The first result was the Anghazi series of novels, Casimir Bridge, released in 2016 to rave reviews thanks largely to his commitment to putting the science back in science fiction. The second installment, Pathogen Protocol was released in October, 2018. We chatted about Darren's early life inspirations, his NASA career, an interesting experience with an astronaut, his scientific approach to SciFi writing, and how private industry may well send manned missions to Mars before NASA.
Nov. 19th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with Climate Scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe
Dr. Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is the director of the Climate Science Center. She is also the CEO of the consulting firm ATMOS Research and Consulting. She received her undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and a masters and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We started from basics in this chat and defined how science works via observation. Then we delved into the process of climate change research, successful computer models, the significant findings of climate science and whether some changes are exponential rather than linear. Finally, Dr. Hayhoe filled us in on some great resources for further reading.
Nov. 12th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with Planetary Scientist Dr. Pascal Lee, Part II
This is Part II. Dr. Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist with the SETI Institute. He's also Chairman of the Mars Institute, and Director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center. His research includes the history of water on Mars and planning future human exploration of Mars. Pascal has a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Space Sciences from Cornell University.In Part I, we chatted about his background and how he became a planetary scientist. We had just started discussing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), when an internet outage stopped us cold. So I invited Pascal to return for Part II and discuss his analysis of the Drake Equation and its implications for the existence of other advanced, intelligent life in our galaxy.
Nov. 5th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Encore #2 Interview with Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers
Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com and has published several Take Control (TC) books. He's the author of Take Control of Apple TV and Take Control of Home Automation. He's been writing the Take Control books for iOS since version 8, and his latest book is Take Control of iOS 12. I invited Josh to return to Background Mode to chat about this latest iOS version that has many new features. After a brief story about how Josh got started in his tech writing career, we had a very interesting chat about the creation and editing process of the TC books. We moved on to a discussion of the new 2018 iPhones. After the break, we dug into the details iOS 12. Finally, we finished with a cool story about his latest 4K TV adventure.
Oct. 29th, 2018
TMO Background Mode Interview with Indiana University Astronomer Dr. Catherine Pilachowski
Dr. Catherine Pilachowski is a professor of astronomy at Indiana University in Bloomington. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Hawaii. Her principal research interests include the evolution of stars and the chemical history of the Milky Way Galaxy from studies of chemical composition of star clusters. "Caty" got excited about astronomy as a youth reading the books of Asimov, Hoyle and Gamow. She told me about her serendipitous decision to attend graduate school in Hawaii where some very large telescopes were being built on Mauna Kea and how that ultimately led her to her current faculty position. We then chatted about her star cluster research and ended with some great tips for students who want to pursue a career in astronomy.