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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Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg (#11)
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...
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.
Nov. 25th, 2019
Fermilab Cosmologist Dr. Dan Hooper – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Dan Hooper is a Senior Scientist and the Head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He is also a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin.Dan told me about how his early aspirations as a youth were actually in music. It wasn't until he took a class as an undergraduate in Relativity that the astrophysics bug bit him. Hard. Dan explained how he landed a post-doc position at Oxford and how he was later hired at Fermilab. Later, we chatted about his interest in the interface between particle physics and cosmology, Dark Matter and what neutrinos can tell us about the early universe. We finished with an overview of his new astrophysics book that explores the mysteries of the origin of the universe.
Nov. 18th, 2019
Former Apple Director of Federal Sales David Sobotta – TMO Background Mode Interview
David Sobotta joined Apple in 1984. His career there lasted until July 2004. During that time David went from being an entry-level sales representative based in Halifax, Nova Scotia covering Atlantic Canada to the Reston, Virginia, based director of Apple’s federal sales group. He has gained an intimate knowledge of Apple, its culture and the leadership of Steve Jobs.David tells a story that started with the Apple II, learning the technology, going to work for a mini computer shop in Canada, growing the business so much that he got to know the Apple rep and then the serious attention of Apple. David evolved through business and then education, working with resellers, and eventually rose to the position of Apple Director of Federal Sales. We also chatted about Apple's brief foray into selling supercomputers in 2004.
Nov. 11th, 2019
Tech Columnist and Author Mike Elgan – TMO Background Mode Interview
Mike Elgan writes a popular weekly column for Computerworld, contributes news analysis pieces for Fast Company and SecurityIntelligence and also writes special features, columns, and think pieces for a variety of publications.Mike tells a career story that started in newspaper publishing with QuarkXPress. Soon, he realized that what he loved was not covering local politics but rather the technology of the Mac, networking and printing. That launched his career writing about computer tech. In the 2nd segment we chatted about some of our favorite topics: dealing with information overload, Apple's amazing U1 chip, Augmented Reality glasses replacing iPhones, and cars that sense driver emotions. Mike has an amazing vision of our tech future. Join us.
Nov. 4th, 2019
TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont (#8) – 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, 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 many times for interesting discussions. In her 8th appearance, we chat about our favorite TV shows of late. Kelly: Fleabag (Amazon), The Politician (Netflix), and Billions (Showtime). John: Madam Secretary (CBS), Toy Story 4 (Pixar) and Victoria S3 (PBS). Join us as we explore together what's great about these shows.
Oct. 28th, 2019
GRUBBRR CEO Bhavin Asher – TMO Background Mode Interview
Bhavin Asher is a technologist and entrepreneur. After graduating college with a computer science degree, he went to work for IBM. Later, Bhavin transitioned to a position at Deloitte as a CRM Strategy Consultant. Deloitte provided a learning environment to understand how successful businesses leverage technology to scale and grow. Most recently, he was a Director and Solutions Architect at Salesforce. Today, Bhavin is the founder and CEO of GRUBBRR.Bhavin tells a career story that well prepared him to launch his own business. GRUBBRR is a full-service kiosk order and sales system for, to name a few, restaurants, fast-casual restaurants, cafes, bars, coffee shops, and bakeries. If you've ever waited an eternity for your food order or check, you'll want to hear how GRUBBRR has re-engineered the whole process for the digital age—including great GUI displays, AI and Apple Watch support. Welcome to tomorrow.
Oct. 21st, 2019
Former Apple Engineering Director Don Melton – TMO Background Mode Interview
Don Melton is probably best known as the person who started the Safari and WebKit projects at Apple and his rise to Apple Engineering Director of Internet Technologies. These days he's an aspiring writer, podcaster and recovering programmer.Don walks us through his early career starting with his aspiration to become a comic strip or comic book artist. His artistic talent led to a newspaper job which led to information graphics which led to work with Macs. His tinkering with the Mac revealed that he had a special talent for programming, and that ultimately led to his job at Netscape developing the Navigator browser. Later, a relationship with Andy Hertzfeld and Bud Tribble led to his job at Apple in 2001, chartered by Scott Forstall, to write a web browser. Don tells a fascinating story about the development of Safari for Mac OS X and the race to replace Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Oct. 14th, 2019
Productivity Coach Brittany Smith – TMO Background Mode Interview
Brittany Smith is a productivity coach who provides a variety of consulting services through her business, Devise and Conquer, that includes ADD/ADHD coaching, technology coaching, productivity consulting, and more. She is a self-designated “well-rounded geek.” She holds an M.S. degree in Cognitive Neuroscience.In our chat, Brittany told me about her adventures with homemade videos, with a PC, as a youth. Her father was a podiatrist and her mother was a programmer, so there were always computers in the house. But the Vista version of Windows drove her into the arms of the Mac. In the second half of the show we delved into just what cognitive neuroscience is, her productivity and Apple tech coaching. Along the way we chatted about the influence of Star Trek (and Disneyland) on her career. Brittany sparkles in this interview.
Oct. 7th, 2019
Astrophysicist Dr. Brian Keating (#2) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Brian Keating is an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. His specialty is cosmology, and he is the father of the original BICEP project (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization). Last year, Brian published a terrific, courageous book about his team's research, some life lessons, and the challenges of scientific research: Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor. It's now out in paperback.This time, we expanded on the discussion in his book about his quest for the Nobel prize. At the core: what the polarization of the cosmic background radiation tells us about the Big Bang. We also delved into the theory of the multiverse and its relationship to the anthropic principle. Finally, find out how you could win a piece of a 4.5 billion year old asteroid.
Sep. 30th, 2019
NASA Chair, Lib. of Congress Dr. Susan Schneider – TMO Background Mode Interview
Dr. Susan Schneider is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at The University of Connecticut. She writes about issues in philosophy, AI, cognitive science and astrobiology. Within philosophy, she works on both the computational nature of the brain and the metaphysical nature of the mind. The topics she has written about most recently include radical brain enhancement, machine intelligence, consciousness, and the nature of persons. Her new book is Artificial You - AI And The Future Of Your Mind. In our chat we covered many of the major issues of AI: the computational nature of the mind, consciousness, the question of whether consciousness is restricted to humans, extraterrestrial post-biological intelligence, AI implants in humans, and the ethical and cybersecurity issues of AI. Susan talks to AI issues you may have never thought about before. Join me in this awesome 30 minute virtual seminar on AI.
Sep. 24th, 2019
Thriller Novelist Carter Wilson – TMO Background Mode Interview
Carter Wilson is the USA Today and #1 Denver Post bestselling author of six critically acclaimed, standalone psychological thrillers, as well as numerous short stories. He is an ITW Thriller Award finalist, a three-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and his novels have received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. His latest novel, The Dead Girl in 2A, was released in July 2019.Carter didn't plan to become a novelist. It was really quite by accident. He got his bachelor's degree from Cornell and planned to work in hotel services. Then, on a spring day in 2003, an exercise to ward off boredom during a continuing-education class evolved into a 400-page manuscript. Since that day, Carter has been constantly writing. We chatted about the craft of thrillers, his writing technique, killing off characters, and how he plans his storylines. It's been an amazing journey.
Sep. 16th, 2019
Journalist & TMO Contributor Charlotte Henry (#2) – TMO Background Mode Interview
Charlotte is a London-based technical journalist. A self described media junkie, she writes about Apple—and now for the Mac Observer as well. She has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, and the Independent on Sunday. Her new book is: Not Buying It.In this special edition of BGM, Charlotte chats about her reactions to Apple's September 10 iPhone event. She noted how Apple is in a new balancing act, promoting hardware to sell services—and vice versa. Charlotte told me about how pleased she is with the new iPad and plans to buy one. Then we took a closer look at the value proposition comparing the iPhone Xr to the iPhone 11. Charlotte also filled us in on her experience watching the event in the Apple London flagship store.