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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Ice Age Ecologist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill
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...
Apr. 27th, 2020
NASA Aerospace Engineer Dr. Craig Hunter – TMO BGM Interview
Dr. Craig Hunter is an aerospace engineer at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia with research experience in experimental, theoretical, and computational fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, and aeroacoustics. He has developed technology-enabling software tools and analysis methods for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation, aerodynamic design, and jet noise prediction.In 2008, Craig founded Hunter Research and Technology to create innovative and compelling apps for the fledgling Apple iPhone, namely Theodolite, Pro Compass and Nav Camera.Craig is an expert pressing high-end Macs into service for scientific computations. We chatted about his Ph.D work, work at NASA in CFD and jet engine noise simulations, his recent computational review of a US$31,000 2019 Mac Pro, and his iOS app side-business and how that market has changed over the years. Heady stuff.
Apr. 20th, 2020
Programmer, Author, Podcaster Rosemary Orchard – TMO BGM Interview
Rosemary Orchard describes herself as a geek, nerd, and programmer. She works full time as a developer of web applications, but her real loves are automation and productivity. She's also a book author and podcaster.Rosemary told me the story about how she started with computers and programming. After a bad experience with a Toshiba notebook and Windows Vista, she bought a MacBook Air for her university work—and loved it. At this point, she was still pursing human languages, but in time gravitated towards, instead, creating computer software that would make peoples lives easier. And she never looked back. We talked about her Web app development, her books (one on Shortcuts) and finished with how she learned to podcast. Today she does two. You'll enjoy hearing how Rosemary's career has developed.
Apr. 13th, 2020
Novelist Christopher Moore – TMO BGM Interview
Christopher Moore is the author of 17 novels, including Lamb, Coyote Blue, The Serpent of Venice, The Stupidest Angel, and NOIR. Chris published his first novel, Practical Demonkeeping in 1992, and his latest novel, Shakespeare For Squirrels, will be released on May 12th.We chatted at length about how Chris came to be a very successful novelist. I asked about the influence of author Harlan Ellison as well as his favorite and best selling novels. We explored his writing technique as we delved into two of my own favorite novels, The Stupidest Angel and NOIR. ( He writes on his Mac and uses Scrivener to outline and MS Word to compose. ) If you love Chris's work, you'll be entranced by his charming anecdotes in this stellar interview.
Apr. 6th, 2020
Writer and Raconteur Bob ‘Dr. Mac’ LeVitus (#2) – TMO BGM Interview
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.In this episode, Bob and I focus on the practice of working from home. We covered work strategies and techniques, workspace and hours, software vs. paper tools, clothing and eating, task management, multitasking vs. single focus and more. We delved into microphones and cameras for a Mac as well as some video conferencing apps and touched on the notion of spending time learning unfamiliar but essential internet technologies. We closed with a discussion of music to work by and a great library app called Libby.
Mar. 30th, 2020
TMO UK Associate Editor Charlotte Henry (#5) – TMO BGM Interview
Charlotte Henry is a London-based technical journalist. A self-described media junkie, she writes about Apple — and now for the Mac Observer as well as our UK Associate Editor. She has also written for City A.M., Computer Business Review, the Independent on Sunday and CapX. Her new book is: Not Buying It.In this episode, Charlotte and I discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the TV entertainment and streaming industry. We look at the diversion of theatrical releases to streaming, whether indoor theaters will ever return to normal, possible changes to production methods, throttling of streaming speeds, a possible return to more feel-good movies, the impact on binge watching, series vs. movie watching during lock-down, and Charlotte's reaction to Disney+. Plus, John reveals a very personal secret!
Mar. 23rd, 2020
TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont (#10) – 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 10th appearance, Kelly and I chat about our favorite streaming TV shows of late. I open segment #1 with a critique of Amazing Stories: "The Cellar" (Apple TV+), then rave reviews for a shared favorite, Star Trek: Picard and a Kelly favorite: Westworld S3 (HBO). In segment #2: Kelly: The Expanse (Amazon), Wynonna Earp (SyFy). John: Outlander (S3) (Netflix) and Night on Earth (Netflix). Join us as we explore together what's great (and not great) about these shows.
Mar. 17th, 2020
Musician and Programmer John Nastos – TMO BGM Interview
John Nastos is a multi-instrumentalist, music composer and improvisor, saxophonist, an iOS app developer, book author and is currently on faculty at Portland State University as a Jazz Saxophone Instructor.John is one of those special people who is an accomplished jazz musician, iOS developer and author. He tells a fascinating story about how he got started as a jazz musician and the people who mentored him. Along the way, he also fondly adopted the Mac, and that stood him well when it came time to develop some very popular, technical music apps that had never existed before. As an instructor, John teaches his students the principles behind music improvisation. His first book, The Mechanism lays out those core concepts. John is a gifted speaker and educator, so don't miss this show.
Mar. 9th, 2020
Founding Director, End Climate Silence Dr. Genevieve Guenther — TMO BGM Interview
Dr. Genevieve Guenther is a scholar and author. She is affiliate faculty at the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School in New York and the founder and director of End Climate Silence, an activist organization helping the news media cover the climate crisis.How should climate scientists use effective language skills and storytelling to convey scientific research? How can they speak effectively to both fellow scientists and the lay public? How can they avoid what's called semantic ambiguity so that their choice of words isn't twisted by deniers? How can the media learn to couch severe climate change events in proper science context while not appearing unduly biased? Dr. Genevieve Guenther chats with me on all this and more in a most engaging and informative discusion.
Mar. 2nd, 2020
PCMag Lead Mobile Analyst Sascha Segan – TMO Background Mode Interview
Sascha Segan is PCMag.com's Lead Mobile Analyst. He has reviewed more than 1,100 smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 15 years with PCMag. Sascha is also a multiple award-winning travel writer.We chatted about how he got started in computing, and it was a familiar story. "...published the high school newspaper, literary magazine and foreign language magazine on an SE/30." Along the way, Sascha discovered that he loved helping people and showing them how tech works. We talked about the future of foldable smartphones, how the butterfly MBP keyboard drove him to Windows, a (presumed) Apple iPhone/iPad event on March 31, and what's in store for the 5G iPhone 12. Sascha understands 5G and phones deeply, and so this was a very informative show.
Feb. 24th, 2020
TMO Editor-in-Chief Bryan Chaffin (#2) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Bryan Chaffin is the co-founder and Executive Vice President of The Mac Observer. He is also our Editor-in-Chief. He's been working lately as co-author of a new edition of iPad For Dummies, and so I enlisted him to discuss the future of the iPad.We chatted about how the iPad has made enormous gains in CPU and graphics power over the last 10 years. But iOS and then iPadOS not so much. In the early days Apple wasn't quite sure where the iPad would go, and that's perhaps a factor in its development. We examined how multi-tasking has been implemented, the prospects for larger displays, home screen operations, consumption vs. productivity, the stagnation of sales, and whether there needs to be a new product between the iPad and Mac. Bryan resurrects the notorious concept of the ::gasp:: toaster-fridge. There's much more.
Feb. 17th, 2020
TMO Contributor John Kheit (#4) – TMO Background Mode Interview
John Kheit is a New York attorney and a regular contributor to The Mac Observer. We share many common interests, including the 4K/UHD/HDR TV revolution, 8K TV and displays, Wi-Fi/5G technologies and the state of Apple.In this special edition, I interview John about his new 2019 Mac Pro. I asked John about the configuration he ordered, what substitutions he made (graphics card), his add-on SSD, and whether he bought the Pro Display XDR. John shared lots of technical tidbits: a changed initial order, his total outlay, details of the T2 security chip, the various kinds (layer configurations) of SSDs, his display setup and observations about the cooling system. If you're planning to purchase a new Mac Pro, this conversation is essential listening.
Feb. 10th, 2020
TMO UK Associate Editor Charlotte Henry (#4) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Charlotte Henry is a London-based technical journalist. A self-described media junkie, she writes about Apple — and now for the Mac Observer as well as our UK Associate Editor. She has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, the Independent on Sunday and CapX. Her new book is: Not Buying It.In this special episode, Charlotte and I discuss the various streaming TV services: Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, CBS All Access, Britbox, Peacock, and Quibi. We chat about our favorite shows, our experiences viewing, the pricing, and the prospects of success for the new guys on the block. Charlotte loves The Bold Type (Netflix). John waxes poetic about The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Picard.
Feb. 3rd, 2020
Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford (#8) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her eighth 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 entire first segment discussing the coronavirus. Kiki fills us in on the details you don't hear about on the nightly news. In segment #2, Kiki tells us the real reason why people under stress get grey hair, how Mars used to have surface water, how the Earth's sea level is rising faster than expected, and how zebra strips seem to provide good protection against biting insects. As always, Kiki makes science fun and interesting.
Jan. 27th, 2020
Eclectic Light Company Founder Dr. Howard Oakley – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Howard Oakley is currently a developer of Mac software and is the founder of The Eclectic Light Company. Howard started life keenly interested in medicine, attended Oxford, and spent most of his career with the British Royal Navy as a doctor, ascending to the rank of Surgeon Commander. Along the way, he became heavily involved with computers and programming. His first encounter with a Mac SE and MPW hooked him for life.We chatted about his life and times as a navy physician, his parallel evolution as a Mac developer, his amazing blog, The Eclectic Light Company, his writing for Mac Format, and some of his amazing free software: Aquiline Check, Consolation and SilentKnight, tools he wanted for himself. Howard delves into security issues, like XProtect, in a way that few other developers do.
Jan. 20th, 2020
TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont (#9) – TMO Background Mode 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 9th appearance, Kelly and I chat about our favorite TV shows and movies of late. We open in segment #1 with a shared favorite: The Mandalorian (Disney+). In segment #2: Kelly: Dr. Who (BBC), The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Disney+). John: Star Trek: Discovery (S2) (CBS), Virgin River (Netflix) and Downton Abbey - the movie (iTunes). Also: some honorable mentions. Join us as we explore together what's great about these shows.
Jan. 13th, 2020
Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers (#6) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com and has published many 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 iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.In his sixth appearance on the show, Josh and I explored what's in store for Apple in 2020. We started by looking at the iMac Pro and its possible fate. Then we turned to the mythical xMac, and continued with the MacBook Pro line. In part II of the show, we took a look at the HomePod. Is it a dead product? Then we looked at iPhone (2020) 5G wrinkles. We finished by wondering what new thing Apple might do in 2020.
Dec. 23rd, 2019
Cosmologist Dr. Andrew Friedman (#2) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Andrew Friedman is an astronomer, cosmologist, and data scientist. He's currently an NSF funded Assistant Research Scientist at the University of California at San Diego Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences. He is also a Research Affiliate in the MIT Program in Science, Technology and Society. He holds a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Harvard.We chatted about the apparent, seemingly contrived conflict between science and religion. We explored some of the sources of this conflict and how, with a good perspective, they are not really at odds. We looked at faith, both in science and religion, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, proof of God's existence, varying views about what God is, approaching the subject with humility, and how the Bible cannot really serve as a science textbook. Join us as we get our theology hats on.
Dec. 16th, 2019
Smile TextExpander Evangelist Jeff Gamet – TMO Background Mode Interview
Jeff Gamet the former managing editor of The Mac Observer, a position he held for 13 years. He's also a book author and noted podcaster. About a year ago, Jeff left TMO to become the Smile TextExpander Evangelist.With a year at his new job under his belt, I asked Jeff about his accomplishments, challenges, and ongoing change in perspective being an evangelist for a major software company. We chatted about being deep on macOS, the TextExpander transition to macOS Catalina, the change being heavily involved in Apple developer relations and the change in work habits, especially being no longer immersed in every Apple product and service. We also chatted about his new 16-inch MacBook Pro at some length. Jeff was as he always is: charming and warm.
Dec. 9th, 2019
TMO UK Associate Editor Charlotte Henry (#3) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Charlotte Henry is a London-based technical journalist. A self described media junkie, she writes about Apple - and now for the Mac Observer as well as our UK Associate Editor. She has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, the Independent on Sunday and CapX. Her new book is: Not Buying It.In this special holiday edition of BGM, Charlotte and I chat about our favorite Christmas movies and what makes them so great for us. There are also some honorable mentions. We finish with a diagnosis of Apple TV+ The Morning Show.
Dec. 3rd, 2019
Wall Street Journal Special Writer Gregory Zuckerman – TMO Background Mode Interview
Gregory Zuckerman is a Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal, a 23-year veteran of the paper and a three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb award—the highest honor in business journalism. At the Journal, Greg writes about big financial firms, personalities and trades, as well as hedge funds, the energy revolution and more. Greg is the author of The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched a Quant Revolution, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.Greg told me the surprising tale about how he got started covering business issues and how he finally landed at the WSJ. He told me how he develops his contacts and works with them to develop breaking stories. We talked about his award winning work and what kind of effort that takes. We finished with his latest book describing how Jim Simons and his team of physicist-analysts changed investing forever—and got rich in the process.