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Background Mode Podcast

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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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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Assoc. Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Jud Brewer - TMO BGM Interview

Dr. Jud Brewer is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, as well as a research affiliate at MIT.

As an addiction psychiatrist, Dr. Jud has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety. He is the author of The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to smartphones to love, why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits.

In this sparkling and entertaining interview, I pepper Jud with questions about his chosen career, consciousness, mindfulness, reward-behavior, breaking bad habits and how to cope with the isolation and stress of our current pandemic. You should get into the habit of listening to Dr. Jud!