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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The Mac Observer Co-founder Dave Hamilton
Dave Hamilton is the co-founder of The Mac Observer, publisher, and co-host of the legendary Mac Geek Gab (MGG) podcast, having done over 800 shows with our John Braun. He’s an Apple—and router—guru. Dave and I opened the show with an extensive discussion of Apple...
Sep. 21st, 2020
The Mac Observer Co-founder Dave Hamilton – BGM Interview
Dave Hamilton is the co-founder of The Mac Observer, publisher, and co-host of the legendary Mac Geek Gab (MGG) podcast, having done over 800 shows with our John Braun. He's an Apple—and router—guru.Dave and I opened the show with an extensive discussion of Apple succession planning. Who would replace CEO Tim Cook on an emergency basis? Who might succeed him when he retires? Who on the executive team is qualified? In segment II, Dave explained Wi-Fi 6 and its presence (and lack thereof) on various Apple products. That got us into new routers that support Wi-Fi 6. Finally, we looked at the ever-changing UI of Apple OSes, discoverability of features and the continuing need to remain practiced with each OS. As with his MGG, Dave is both informative and entertaining.
Sep. 14th, 2020
Ice Age Ecologist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill – BGM Interview
Dr. Jacquelyn Gill is an Associate Professor of Paleoecology and Plant Ecology, School of Biology, Ecology and Climate Change Institute, the University of Maine. Her research interests include: Paleoecology, community ecology, vegetation dynamics, extinction, climate change and biotic interactions. She received her Ph.D. in Paleoecology from the Univ. of Wisconsin.An outdoor life, science fiction, cave exploration and a professor who taught her how to ask questions about what she saw in the natural environment laid the foundation for Jacquelyn's interest in Nature and Ecology. She tells a remarkable, instructive story about how she got admitted to her Ph.D. program. Then we chatted about just what Paleoecology and Biogeography are as well as the effects of animal extinction, recovering extinct animals from DNA, ecological models, and recovery from bad ecological trends. Jacquelyn is spellbinding in her description of her work.
Sep. 8th, 2020
TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont (#13) – BGM Interview
Kelly Guimont is a long-time podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, the host of the Mac Observer's Daily Observations podcast, and a tech support guru.In her 13th appearance, Kelly and I chat about our favorite movies and TV shows of late. I open segment #1 with a rave review of the series Warrior Nun (Netflix). Kelly has seen all 10 episodes too, and also gives it a thumbs up. John then reviews the documentary series Still Standing. (Amazon). Kelly tells us, with enthusiasm, about Bill and Ted Face the Music (iTunes) and Lovecraft Country (HBO). In turn, John delves into a critical review of Upload (Netflix). And there's bonus material. Join us as we explore together what's great (and not so great) about these shows.
Sep. 2nd, 2020
TMO UK Associate Editor Charlotte Henry (#7) – BGM Interview
Charlotte is the Mac Observer’s UK Associate editor, based in London. A self described media junkie, she has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, and The Times, amongst others. She is also a book author.In this episode, Charlotte and I explore several streaming TV topics. We open with how Apple has built a coherent ecosystem that pleasantly entices customers to engage and stick with Apple TV+. Namely, strong content, theatrical releases such as Greyhound, services bundling, contingency bundling and quality content for kids. In part II, we explored research data from Reelgood that reveals how customers mix their streaming TV services. Reelgood published a fascinating, informative chart that we analyze. One upshot is that the newbies face an uphill battle. Charlotte knows her stuff, and it shows in this episode.
Aug. 24th, 2020
Astronomy Professor Dr. Emily Levesque – BGM Interview
Dr. Emily Levesque is a professor in the University of Washington’s astronomy department. Her research program is focused on improving our overall understanding of how massive stars evolve and die. She received her bachelors in physics from MIT and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Hawaii.Emily knew she wanted to be an astronomer from the moment she saw Halley's comet in the night sky as a child. As an undergraduate at MIT, she was already developing a technical interest in massive stars, the focus of her career. And so we explored massive stars in some detail: formation, evolution and the final fate for many: supernova. Is Betelgeuse, in our own stellar backyard, about to go supernova? Emily weighs in. We finished with a discussion of her new book The Last Stargazers.. It shares the tales and experiences of astronomical observing. And, finally, spiders and lasers.
Aug. 17th, 2020
Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers (#7) – BGM Interview
Josh Centers is the managing editor of TidBITS, as well as the author of many Take Control Books: Notes, Home Automation, Apple TV, co-author of Take Control of Preview. He also published Take Control of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. And he's recently joined The Prepared as an editor.In his seventh appearance on the show, Josh explored the new faetures of iOS 14 and what he likes most—as he prepares for his forthcoming Take Control book. The App Libraries feature was at the top of his list. In segment two, Josh and I discussed a major, impressive research article he recently wrote about the often contentious relationship between developers and Apple and its handling of the App Store. We finished with thoughts on a next gen Apple TV 4K.
Aug. 10th, 2020
Physics Professor Dr. Brad Marston – BGM Interview
Dr. Brad Marston is a professor of physics at Brown University and Associate Director of the Brown Theoretical Physics Center. A graduate of Caltech, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and did postdoctoral work at Cornell University. Brad is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and is also an Apple developer.Brad and I chatted about his computational and theoretical physics career. At Caltech, he attended physics classes taught by two of his heroes, the legendary physicists Dr. Richard Feynman and Dr. Kip Thorne. There, he developed his interest in quantum physics and computational models. Later, when he left Sun workstations behind, he adopted the UNIX-based Mac and Xcode as his tools of choice. That's what he used to build his visual climate model, GCM, already compiled for Apple Silicon. Tune in and geek out with me and this amazing physicist and Mac guru.
Aug. 3rd, 2020
H.S. Principal Dr. Amy Fast – BGM Interview
Amy Fast is a high school principal in the McMinnville School District in Oregon. She holds a Ed.D. degree. Previously, she's been an elementary teacher, instructional coach, and assistant principal. She is also an education commentator and author of the book, It’s the Mission, Not the Mandates.After a brief overview of Amy's career and a discussion of her book, we dug into the issues facing educators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We covered planning for remote vs. in-person classes, the technology of remote classes, teacher concerns about in-person class safety, funding for cleaning, effectiveness of remote teaching, mental health issues, and long-term changes to education in the post-pandemic era. Parents with schoolchildren and educators will find this interview enormously helpful.
Jul. 27th, 2020
IT Security Manager, NIST, Bob Gendler – BGM Interview
Bob Gendler is an IT Specialist in the Apple world and a Jamf guru. He holds a B.S. degree in Information Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is now part of the Mac Management team at NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Washington, D.C.From a very early age, Bob fell into the world of Apple starting with an Apple IIgs and, as a teenager, a Power Mac 6100. Quickly, as an undergraduate, his specialty became system administration, and, later, that served him well landing the job at NIST. Bob filled me in on his latest project, the "macOS Security Compliance Project," and the security problem the community faced with macOS. Basically, the new GitHub project leverages a library of scriptable actions which are mapped to compliance requirements in existing security guides or used to develop customized guidance. Bob nicely explains this crucial tool, his team, and who would benefit.
Jul. 20th, 2020
TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont (#12) – BGM Interview
Kelly Guimont is a long-time podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, the host of the Mac Observer's Daily Observations podcast, and a tech support guru.In her 12th appearance, Kelly and I chat about our favorite movies and TV shows of late. I open segment #1 with an extended review of the Tom Hanks movie Greyhound (Apple TV+). Next we turn to a Kelly favorite Black Monday (Showtime). I then talk about two favorite murder mystery TV shows Death in Paradise S9 (Amazon) and The Mentalist (Amazon). Kelly tells us about Romancing the Stone (DVD) and Billions (Showtime). Join us as we explore together what's great about these shows.
Jul. 13th, 2020
Physics Professor and Jazz Musician Dr. Stephon Alexander – BGM Interview
Dr. Stephon Alexander is a theoretical physicist specializing in cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity (String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity). He received his BSc from Haverford College and Ph.D. from Brown University. He also explores interconnections between music, physics, mathematics and technology though recordings, performance, teaching and public lectures.Stephon tells his story about growing up in the Bronx amidst a very diverse group of students. Encouraged by his parents and teachers, he showed great curiosity and intelligence. Still, as person of color, he faced many challenges as he worked towards his Ph.D. We chatted about the mind of the physicist, physics intuition, music, the role of mathematics, String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity as well as events before the Big Bang. If you are a young student, dreaming of becoming a physicist, this show is a must - full of inspiration and insights.
Jul. 6th, 2020
Partner, Many Tricks Software Rob Griffiths – BGM Interview
Rob Griffiths worked for Apple (1990-95), founded macosxhints.com in 2000, went on to write for Macworld Magazine, has done some podcasting, and is currently a partner at Many Tricks Software, makers of great Mac utilities such as Moom, Witch and Name Mangler.Rob recalled his early years with the T.I. Silent 700, Commodore PET, and Apple II. At Colorado State University, Rob realized programming was not for him and followed a business track. Later, after graduate school, he landed a job with Apple. We chatted about his career, moving on to great years at Macworld Magazine, and then his current partnership at Many Tricks Software. We then delved into WWDC 2020, challenges as an Apple developer, the transition of Macs to Apple Silicon, and the evolution of macOS as a partial touch-screen OS. Good stuff here!
Jun. 29th, 2020
Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg (#11) – BGM Interview
Michael Gartenberg spent three years as Apple’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to SVP Phil Schiller. He is currently a freelance writer and has become a regular guest here on Background Mode. This BGM Interview is his 11th appearance.We explored the WWDC 2020 Keynote in detail. We started with the production values and layout and how some elements of this new kind of presentation might show up in future events. Then we turned to the Mac on Apple Silicon transition and some of the considerations for users. Later, there was a healthy discussion of iOS 14, Scribble and then macOS 11 Big Sur's design language and how that differs from the nature of the Mac for UNIX users. Michael always delivers keen insights on how Apple markets its products and always helps us better understand the WWDC Keynote.
Jun. 23rd, 2020
Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford (#9) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her ninth 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/co-host of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show.In this episode, we spend the first segment clearing up some confusion about COVID-19. Mask theory of use, the value of lockdowns, how the U.S. is doing compared to Europe, how blood type affects the body's response, presymptomatic vs. asymptomatic, and what we know about how the virus survives on surfaces. In part II, we discussed how computer neural networks trained to learn like developing human brains also need something akin to sleep. Also, how dogs have a genetic desire to save their owner from trouble. And more. As always, Kiki is delightful as she makes science both fun and interesting.
Jun. 15th, 2020
TMO UK Associate Editor Charlotte Henry (#6) – TMO BGM Interview
Charlotte is the Mac Observer’s UK Associate editor, based in London. A self described media junkie, she has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, and The Times, amongst others. Her new book is: Not Buying It.In this episode, Charlotte and I dig deep into Apple TV+. We look at its current market share and growth potential based on a zero sum game, the possible addition of live sports, and a customer satisfaction survey. In passing, Charlotte believes that the naming conventions Apple has used for its Apple TV hardware and software have created a giant mess of customer confusion. We explored some new shows and also examined the character of Apple TV+ content compared to other streaming TV services.
Jun. 8th, 2020
Apple Industry Analyst Rene Ritchie – TMO BGM Interview
Rene Ritchie has been covering personal technology for over a decade. He currently hosts his own YouTube channel where he provides news analysis and insight on Apple and related technologies and culture. He also co-hosts MacBreak Weekly on the TWiT network and writes a column every Monday for iMore. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of iMore.Rene and I discussed an incredible range of Apple topics: the MBP's awful 720p FaceTime camera, the aging iMac design, the future of iMac Pro, the Butterfly keyboard, Rene's enthusiasm for Apple and the trustworthiness of the company. I also got to know Rene better as we chatted about growing up with Macs, his love of Apple Watch bands, Pokémon and years of studying martial arts. Rene finished with several tips for video podcasters.
Jun. 1st, 2020
Writer and Podcaster Antony Johnston – TMO BGM Interview
Antony Johnston is a New York Times bestselling writer and podcaster. The Charlize Theron movie Atomic Blonde is based on his graphic novel; his Brigitte Sharp thrillers are critically acclaimed; and Dead Space, his first videogame, redefined its genre. He also hosts a writer's podcast.Antony told me about how he transformed his career as graphics artist into successful graphic novels and video game scripting. Later, on his Mac, he delved into novel writing (with Scrivener), most notably the Brigitte Sharp thrillers. Antony recounted how his graphic novel The Coldest City came to be made into a theatrical movie, Atomic Blonde. And to top it all off, Antony told me about his podcast "Writing and Breathing," a show about "why, how, and what we write," in which he chats with fellow authors of all kinds.
May. 26th, 2020
Parallels Dir. of Sales Engineers Victor Fiss – TMO BGM Interview
Victor Fiss has had a distinguished career leading teams to implement, integrate, and manage enterprise wide systems. As Director of Sales Engineers, he oversees coordination of pre-sales and post-sales delivery for Parallels solutions. He is responsible for the team’s goals and initiatives with sales, product management, development, and worldwide customer support.Victor and I explored everything about Parallels Desktop on the Mac. What it is, how it works, supported OSes, support for Metal, external GPUs, games, working at home issues and support, macOS VM clients, adjustments at Parallels amidst COVID-19, embracing OS agnosticism, the Parallels Toolbox, the Remote Application Server, and a brief discussion of Parallels Desktop on ARM-based Macs. It's all right here.
May. 18th, 2020
TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont (#11) – TMO BGM Interview
Kelly Guimont is a long-time podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, the host of the Mac Observer's Daily Observations podcast, and a tech support guru.In her 11th appearance, Kelly and I chat about our favorite TV shows of the 1980s as well as some of our favorite, recent movies. I open segment #1 with a fond recollection by both us us for Miami Vice (Starz), then similar feelings about Hill Street Blues (Hulu). A Kelly favorite along with me was: Magnum P.I. (Amazon). In segment #2 we critiqued Knives Out (iTunes), Onward (Disney+), Saving Mr. Banks (Netflix) and superb scifi The Lost Room (Amazon). Join us as we explore together what's great about these shows.
May. 11th, 2020
Technical Columnist Chris Matyszczyk – TMO BGM Interview
Chris Matyszczyk is the President of creative consultancy Howard Raucous LLC. He advises corporations and individuals on content creation, advertising and marketing. For the last 13 years, he has also written the Technically Incorrect column first for CNET and now for ZDNet. He also writes the Absurdly Driven column at Inc.Chris has a witty, irreverent, playful writing style at times. Over the years, several of his articles have caught my attention for my Friday column, Particle Debris, and we chatted about them. Plus, I've always wanted to hear his career story and how he got started as a technical columnist. In this interview, you'll get a sense of Chris's wry humor, and he'll keep you laughing the whole show.