The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast

Join 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 with Innovation Fellow for the TechCongress Dr. Chris Soghoian 4:15 PM Jan. 16th, 2017

Dr. Chris Soghoian is an expert on the technology and politics of privacy. Most recently he’s been the Principal Technologist with the ACLU. In 2017,...

Podcast Archives

  1. Jan. 16th, 2017
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Innovation Fellow for the TechCongress Dr. Chris Soghoian

    Dr. Chris Soghoian is an expert on the technology and politics of privacy. Most recently he's been the Principal Technologist with the ACLU. In 2017, he's one of three Innovation Fellows for the TechCongress where he'll assist in federal policymaking. Chris earned his Ph.D. with a research focus on the role internet and telephone companies play in enabling government surveillance, and he's also known for his work with the FTC and the Do Not Track initiative. Chris started life as a tech geek, and computers were always a part of his life. That led to an undergraduate degree in computer science. Then he interned at Apple and IBM. But a significant event changed his direction in life, and he gained a newfound appreciation for attorneys. Chris makes some interesting observations about today's assaults on our privacy.

  2. Jan. 9th, 2017
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Producer Rod Roddenberry

    Rod Roddenberry is a media producer. The son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, he's following in his father's footsteps. It all started when Steve Jobs gave Gene Roddenberry an original Macintosh in 1984, and the young Rod started experimenting with MacPaint. Ever since then, Rod has been an Apple enthusiast. Today, Rod is carrying on his father's work as a producer, the chief executive of Roddenberry Entertainment and the founder of the Roddenberry Foundation. And he's currently working with the CBS All Access Star Trek: Discovery. Rod's foundation funds small grants focused on early-stage unconventional ideas that can disrupt and serve the greater good for mankind. Rod and I chatted about all this plus his passion for preserving the Earth's oceans.  We covered a lot of ground in this fascinating interview. You won't want to miss it.

  3. Jan. 3rd, 2017
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with EdTech Specialist Phil Shapiro

    Phil Shapiro is an EdTech specialist, a strong supporter of public libraries, children's education, and the technology of learning. Currently he's the "public geek" at the Tacoma Park, Maryland public library. The child of a UNICEF employee, Phil originally thought that the law might be a good tool to achieve social change, but not so much as he reached adulthood. Having finished law school, he turned his attention to his real passion, journalism and education as a better means of social change. A chance magazine article inspired him to pursue the synthesis of modern computer technology and learning. That evolved into a life-long career in the development of software for education, teaching teachers about tech, support of school Macs for students and the Virginia MUG. If you're into EdTech, this is a must episode.

  4. Dec. 27th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with the Editor of IPWatchdog Gene Quinn

    Gene Quinn is a patent attorney and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Today he lectures, writes and helps aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents prepare themselves to pass the patent bar exam. In college, however, Gene's interest was engineering. An important meeting with a Rutgers professor changed his life, and he graduated with a E.E. degree. Later, with new interests and confidence, he moved into the law. Gene goes into considerable detail about his career progression, having plans, and keeping options open. His first job after his law degree was in litigation, but soon his engineering experience led him into patent law. This is a powerful story about turning your skills and passion into a career when confronted with challenges. Plus, we talk about PCs in law, his current love for Macs and his experiment with the notorious Zune.

  5. Dec. 19th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Scrivener Creator Keith Blount

    Keith Blount is the founder of the renowned writing app Scrivener. It's designed for long-form text such as a thesis or novel. Think of it as a 3-ring binder and corkboard for the author. But Keith didn't start life as a programmer. In college he studied history and literature. Later he became a school teacher. Interested in writing, however, he discovered that standard word processors didn't have the facility he wanted for stitching together non-linear work. So he spent six months of evenings teaching himself Objective-C and Xcode. The first major release of Scrivener in 2007 was a huge hit. Today, Scrivener has sold over 500,000 copies and is available for Mac, Windows and iOS. Have you wondered how he named his company? You'll just have to tune in!

  6. Dec. 12th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Attorney & Mac Power Users Co-Host Katie Floyd

    Katie Floyd is an attorney by day. By night, she's the co-founder and co-host of the Mac Power Users podcast. Katie tells the story of her original passion to be a journalist. She edited the high school yearbook and newspaper on a Mac and, later, majored in journalism in college. Then, in a magical turn of events, she took a political science class from an attorney. It was an both terrifying and exhilarating. September 11, 2001 happened just after graduation, and Katie decided that she wanted to do more. That led eventually to law school. We cover a lot of ground, including her new law firm, the creation of her MPU podcast with David Sparks and a discussion of her new 2016 MacBook Pro. Join me and Katie to hear her inspirational journey.

  7. Dec. 5th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Co-Founder of Brydge Technologies Nicholas Smith

    Brydge Technologies makes outstanding aluminum, color matched keyboards for most iPads. Co-founder Nicholas Smith took over the original, failing company founded on Kickstarter and breathed new life into it. That was in the form of an outstanding customer relationship and order fulfillment systems. In this episode I chat with Nick about how he turned the product around, moved his company, with 15 people, from SIngapore to Park City, Utah (more consumer focus), decided not to use Apple's Smart Connector and flourished in a market that now embraces iPads with keyboards. Nick also talks about what prepared him for this kind of venture, his turn-around artistry, and his vision for keyboards on our beloved iPads. He also provides a glimpse of his next new keyboard project. Bonus: we talk about skiing.

  8. Nov. 28th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with DynAgility CTO Chuck Shotton

    Chuck Shotton may be the CTO of DynAgility today, but he's legendary in the Apple community for having created the original web server for the Mac back in 1992. That was when technical pros were working with the private Internet, years before it went public. The equally legendary Peter Lewis delivered an FTP server, so Chuck took a week and put together a free web server, MacHTTP 0.1 for System 7. Quickly, he had a maling list near 100,000. In 1993, more refined, MacHTTP became shareware, and Chuck's mailbox was overflowing with money, more than his day job. Join me and listen as Chuck tells the awesome story of his career, MacHTTP, and his decision to release a brand new version for macOS Sierra! A student's dream come true.

  9. Nov. 21st, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with the Founder of olloclip Patrick O’Neil

    Patrick O'Neil grew up in a family of photographers, and so designing a portable, add-on lens set for the iPhone was a natural thing to do. It all started as a Kickstarter project over five years ago at his kitchen table. Immediately successful with the iPhone 4, Patrick, along with his partner, was able to launch the olloclip company and has built these amazing lens kits ever since. The olloclip lens system is designed to have different creative options in your pocket: macro, fisheye, wide-angle or telephoto. We talked about the optics and engineering of these lenses, the mobility emphasis, keeping up with Apple's changes, and how the product has evolved. Here's Patrick's story: from kitchen table to a company with almost 50 people readying the new lenses for the iPhone 7 and (joy!) the 7 Plus.

  10. Nov. 14th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Creator & Host of The MacCast Podcast Adam Christianson

    Adam Christianson is the creator and host of the acclaimed MacCast podcast. Adam is also the very awesome webmaster for The Mac Observer. However, Adam didn't start out in high tech. At an early age, he wanted to become a cartoonist, inspired by Garfield's creator Jim Davis. In high school, somewhat wiser, he transitioned to graphic design. Later, Adam attended Cal Poly which has a fabulous art and graphics design program. Early in his career, Adam gained experience in eCommerce and web mastering with Upper Deck, Corp. learning HTML, Perl, CGI forms, Visual BASIC and C#. However, by 2004, he'd discovered that his true love was tech talk and podcasting, and The MacCast was born. Adam was able to use his career skills to follow his dream, and he's still living it today.

  11. Nov. 7th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford

    Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist with a Ph.D from U.C. Davis. She's a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science podcast and radio show. She grew up in the country, and that ignited her interest in wildlife preservation. Early in her career, she obtained her B.S. degree in conservation biology, a field that covers animals, their environment and how humans impact them. Finding post-doctoral research unappealing, she shifted to her current role as a brilliant science communicator. We chatted about her prior research into the brains of small birds, how they store memories, and how they navigate during migration. We also delved into neuro-gaming as well as the perils of being exposed to sophisticated AI agents. After hearing this show, you'll want to become a scientist too!

  12. Oct. 31st, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Serial Entrepreneur Mark Fuccio

    Mark Fuccio has had a distinguished career in tech. He started with an B.S. in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. After graduation, he joined Philips Labs in Briarcliff, NY. He's been a marketing manager at Silicon Graphics, Inc. and a senior director at Drobo, Inc. for Products and Markets. We chatted about the evolution of Unix workstations, the early days of Unix GUIs, how CPU and GPU technology advanced, how Apple moved to (BSD) Unix and Intel and turned the tables on the workstation industry (along with Microsoft). We also chatted about the philosophy of marketing as well as technical issues related to storage—and how Drobo solved those problems. Mark tells the story about a career in which he followed his vision, worked with startups, and created his own path to this day. Geekfest!

  13. Oct. 24th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Author and Podcaster David Sparks

    David Sparks is a business attorney, Macworld author, podcaster and all around Apple product expert. He's one of those people who started on one path—an aerospace engineering student—then changed gears to become a law student at Pepperdine University. David tells the story of his law school years and how people often think of law school as more onerous than it really is. His original plan was to be a prosecutor, but then he found that business law for small companies was much more satisfying. We chatted about his interest in all things Mac and the dawn of his Mac Power Users podcast with Katie Floyd in 2009. Today, David is a popular speaker and a fixture in the Mac Community with 346 podcasts and several books. Come take a career journey with me and David.

  14. Oct. 17th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Developer Community Manager Chuq Von Rospach

    Chuq Von Rospach worked for Apple for nearly 20 years, starting in 1989. In the mid-1980s, he landed first at Sun Microsystems and worked on the launch of early Sun workstations. Thanks to that work, and his boss going over to Apple, Chuq followed. At Apple, they developed Apple's first paid technical support organization for Apple's A/UX (Unix) system for the Motorola 68K Macs. Chuq has great stories to tell about Apple's ill-fated but legendary Network Server, Mac executive Jean-Louis Gassée, the disastrous Apple CEO Michael Spindler, the failed attempt to sell Apple to Sun in 1996, the acquisition of NeXT and return of Steve Jobs. You want Apple stories? Chuq has 'em!

  15. Oct. 10th, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Writer and Raconteur Bob ‘Dr. Mac’ LeVitus

    Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus is a writer, book author and raconteur. He writes for the Houston Chronicle and The Mac Observer, and he specializes in the "Dummies" books about Apple products like the Mac, the iPad and iPhone. But Bob wasn't always a writer. Early on, he wanted to work in a recording studio and it just so happened, in high school, he had a good friend, Jermaine Jackson. That resulted in Bob touring with the Jackson 5. Later, he became a roadie with Shaun Cassidy. (Bob tells a secret.) Bob's also worked in advertising, a story in itself, and also as the official evangelist for Power Computing in the 1990s. Speaking of Apple, he said "We were their worst nightmare." Does Bob know how to tell stories? Oh, yes.

  16. Oct. 3rd, 2016
    The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast
    TMO Background Mode: Interview with Allegis Capital Partner Jean-Louis Gassée

    Jean-Louis Gassée is currently a V.C. partner with Allegis Capital. He's best known, however, for taking over the Macintosh division in 1985, his startup of Be Inc. and his highly respected Monday Note, a technical commentary. Jean-Louis tells the story about how, as a precocious youth in Paris he built crystal AM radios and vacuum tubes. Later, after some "interesting jobs," he joined Hewlett-Packard (France) in 1968 to launch HP's first desktop computer, the 9100A. Jean-Louis's success as an electronics geek eventually led to a job at Data General then the lead executive job for Apple France. Jean-Louis then came to the U.S., and his time in Cupertino is legendary. Join me as this computer pioneer chats about Apple and Macs, past and present.