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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TMO Background Mode Interview with Former TUAW Editor Michael T. Rose
Victor Cajiao was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in the U.S. and became well known in the Apple world for several different podcasts. He’s an Apple tech geek as well as a musician (saxophone) and hobby photographer. Victor told me the story about how...
Nov. 27th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Former TUAW Editor Michael T. Rose
Michael T. Rose is currently a Principle Solution Engineer at Salesforce.com. But you may know him best as a writer, editor and podcaster at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) from 2006 until its untimely demise in 2014. He also hosts the Aftershow podcast with Kelly Guimont. Michael studied English at Carnegie Mellon University, but his first job after graduation (at P.ink America) took him down a technical path that endures today. Later, he worked for Entertainment Weekly as well as Life Magazines in New York where he also became interested in improvisational theater. He also does stand-up comedy in his spare time. At the Unofficial Apple Weblog, Michael worked with a notable group of writers who, along with him, are legendary. Listen in as Michael tells his unique story about his technical work, acting and writing.
Nov. 20th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Special Interview with Former Apple Executive and Tech Analyst Michael Gartenberg
Michael Gartenberg is a former Apple Senior Director of Product Marketing and reported directly to Phil Schiller. Currently, he's a technology analyst and has also been a frequent guest on Background Mode. In this special edition, I asked Michael about his thoughts on his new iPhone X. We covered all the bases: pricing, build quality, Face ID setup and use, the camera, the super-retina AMOLED display, inductive charging, the feel in the hand and balance, the new uses for the side button and battery life. If you've been on the fence about this new iPhone X from Apple, you'll want to hear Michael's thoughts about Apple's thinking and his own experiences with the "most impressive product Apple has ever done."
Nov. 13th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview With Mac Observer’s Editor-in-Chief Bryan Chaffin
Bryan Chaffin is the Editor-in-Chief of The Mac Observer. He was born and raised in Texas, and it was in Austin where he met Dave Hamilton. In 1997, Bryan was writing for a website named Webintosh. Later, Bryan bought a half-intest in the publication. Soon he realized he needed someone to run the business side of the website, so he sold his half to Dave Hamilton and they rebranded it as The Mac Observer, launching on December 28, 1998. We reminisced about how an invitation from Bryan led to my first article at the Mac Observer in October, 1999. In the second segment, we chatted about two of Bryan's notable, recent articles, iPhone encryption and Apple's tax situation. We finished with a discussion of Bryan's books, both technical and science fiction. Great stuff.
Nov. 6th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers
Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com. He was born and raised in Tennessee except for college years in Kentucky. He always thought he'd leave Tennessee someday and move to California, but it turned out that the people he ended up working with had come from California, so he stayed. Josh grew up loving Macworld, MacWeek and Macaddict, but his favorite was TheNet. Early on, he developed a sense that he'd someday write about tech for a living. In the second segment, we talked about some of the popular Apple topics, ordering an iPhone X at 0200 in the morning, the Mac mini, ARM processors for Macs, the coming Mac Pro, MacBook Pro keyboards, the Apple TV struggles, the Amazon Firestick and Kodi. We had a heck of a good time.
Oct. 30th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with GraphicConverter Creator Thorsten Lemke
Thorsten Lemke is the founder of Lemke Software and the creator of the Mac app called GraphicConverter. This app is now used by over 1.5 million customers worldwide. I asked Thorsten about his early years when he was learning Pascal and BASIC on his Commodore C64 and later Atari ST. Thorsten wasn't sure what he wanted to pursue in high school, but he knew it would be technical. Then, around 1992, with his new Mac, he had a need to convert photos and clipart between file formats. After a lot of file format research, the simple GraphicConverter app on Mac OS 7 was born as shareware. Little did Thorsten know at the time how this Mac app would grow into a major application today. Thorsten tells the amazing story of his career as an Apple developer.
Oct. 23rd, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Mystery Writer Elizabeth Craig
Elizabeth Craig is an accomplished mystery writer and novelist. Her works include the Southern Quilting Mysteries, Memphis Barbeque Mysteries, and Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries. Elizabeth grew up fascinated by the Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden mysteries as well as the works of Agatha Christie, especially Hercule Poirot. Later, she majored in English in college and just knew she would become a writer, but lamented that there weren't any courses that actually taught one how to write fiction. She learned on her own. We chatted about how she came to write, the art and craft of writing, and some of our favorite TV mystery shows. Elizabeth's career is inspiring, and today she teaches other fiction writers the basics at her blog. Even if you've never aspired to mystery writing, you'll want to hear her story.
Oct. 16th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Encore Interview with TMO Contributor Kelly Guimont
Kelly Guimont does TextExpander technical support for Smile Software. She's also a podcaster and a TMO Contributor. And she joins the TMO Daily Observations (TDO) Podcast with me on most Wednesdays. On a recent TDO episode, Kelly revealed that she holds her iPhone in a very special way with one hand. Just how she operates the iPhone in that mode and how she manages her apps created a very interesting follow-up discussion in this podcast. Kelly also shared her thoughts on the latest iTunes, version 12.7., that eliminated app support. (Apple has since mildly reversed course.) Kelly and I really let loose here, so don't miss the fun!
Oct. 9th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Encore Interview with Science Journalist Maryn McKenna
Maryn McKenna is a science journalist and author. In her previous appearance here, she described how she launched her career in investigative journalism and, eventually, she landed with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the CDC. In time, Maryn became an expert in the over-use of antibiotics with animals and humans, and that has led to her latest book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats. Maryn told me about how antibiotics fed to farm animals seemed like a really good idea in the 1950s. Later, bacteria became resistant to these antibiotics—with disastrous consequence for humans. Early on, Europe understood the scope of the problem, but the U.S. did not. This is a great (and scary) work of science investigative journalism.
Oct. 2nd, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with DigiDNA Co-leader Gregorio Zanon
Gregorio Zanon is a co-leader at DigiDNA, in Geneva, Switzerland. His company is the developer of the iMazing app for macOS and Windows that backs up an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and allows access to that data. Gregorio's career essentially began when started programming in BASIC on an Amiga at age 10. But he also had a love for classical music and learned to play the piano. That led to college, in London, where studied music and received his degree. Later, inspired by a technical music project, Gregorio got back into coding and so impressed DigiDNA that he was hired. We chatted about the evolution of the DigiDNA company, the iMazing app, how it works, its features and some of the developer challenges with this kind of software as iOS has evolved.
Sep. 25th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Red-Sweater Software Founder Daniel Jalkut
Daniel Jalkut is the founder of Red-Sweater Software. His company is most famous for the WordPress blog editing software, MarsEdit. Daniel holds a B.S. in Computer and Information Science from U.C. Santa Cruz. As a teenager, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but his evolving interest in computer science derived from his father who was a software compiler engineer. Daniel soon discovered, with his Timex Sinclair, that he had a knack with computers. In 1995, he went to work for Apple and started working with Mac OS 7.5 as a quality engineer. Later, he transitioned to Mac OS X, maintaining the Carbon APIs. Red-Sweater was born in 2000, and Daniel has been an indie developer since 2002. Tune in to hear how Daniel made it all happen.
Sep. 18th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with The Mac Observer’s Contributing Editor John Kheit
John Kheit is a New York attorney and a regular Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer. We share many common interests, including the 4K/UHD TV revolution, and have recently been comparing notes on that technology. So, for this edition of Background Mode, we just geeked out, chatted about his acquisition of an LG OLED 4K/UHD TV, compared OLED to the older Plasmas, covered LG's use of webOS 3, talked High Dynamic Range (HDR), did some comparisons to LCD TVs, and offered our thoughts about the future of TV, including 8K. We finished the show chatting about last week's Background Mode interview with Car and Driver magazine's Eddie Alterman and the future of autonomous cars.
Sep. 12th, 2017
TMO Background Mode – Special Apple Event Coverage with Michael Gartenberg
Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg and I got together to discuss Apple's September 12 event, "Let's Meet at Our Place." We traded thoughts on the new Apple Watch Series 3, the Apple TV 4K, the iPhone 8 series and the iPhone X. Michael's insights are, as always, amazing. Don't miss this special edition coverage.
Sep. 11th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Planetary Scientist Dr. Alan Stern
Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute. He's also the co-founder and chief scientist of World View, working with high altitude balloon research. He is perhaps most famous as the principle investigator for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Way back in grade school, Alan was interested in space exploration and wanted to be a part of the Star Trek future. He received his Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Colorado, and that launched his life-long interest in Kuiper Belt Objects and the Oort Cloud. He's a licensed pilot, was selected by NASA as a Payload Specialist, and has flown research missions in high performance jet aircraft. We talked about his career, the New Horizons mission design, Pluto discoveries (and planetary classification) and his latest research.
Sep. 5th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Car & Driver Magazine Editor-in-Chief Eddie Alterman
Eddie Alterman is the Editor-in-Chief of Car and Driver magazine. He fell in love with cars even earlier than most of us. His father was a car salesman in Detroit in the 1970s when cars weren't great, but it was still exciting. His dad would leave copies of Car and Driver magazine open on the dining room table for Eddie. It worked. Eddie imagined that all the editors who got to test cars were "living the best possible life." So Eddie designed his whole life around writing for a car magazine. It worked again. In the second segment we chatted about the romance of driving and also spent a lot of time discussing the technology and sociology of autonomous cars. Eddie had some great observations, based on his considerable experience, that will keep you pondering for months.
Aug. 28th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Encore #2: Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg
Michael Gartenberg spent three years as Apple's Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to Senior VP Phil Schiller. For his third appearance on Background Mode, we made a list of seven discussion items we both thought would be interesting. We got through two, but chatted about them in detail. The first was all about what's to be gained by Apple allocating about a billion dollars to create original TV content. In the second segment, we talked about Apple's struggles in the education market. Michael made some very interesting and very pointed observations. Don't miss this one!
Aug. 21st, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Bloomberg Consumer Tech Reporter Mark Gurman
Mark Gurman is the Consumer Technology Reporter for Bloomberg. As Mark recalls, there was never a time in his youth when he wasn't interested in technology. He told me that it was the iPod mini for his 10th birthday that wowed him. His love for the company that created the iPod made it feel very natural to get into reporting on Apple. In the second segment, we chatted about his seminal article in December 2016 on the state of the Mac, thoughts on the next Mac Pro, competition from Microsoft in the form of the Surface Laptop, how the Apple watch Series 3 may have LTE, how devious Apple has become in hiding its pre-release trademarks, prospects for an Apple robot and Apple's HomePod. Mark provided, as always, fascinating and insightful comments about Apple.
Aug. 14th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Colorado Charter School Academic Director Johanna Harth
Johana Harth is the Academic Director of a Colorado charter school. Over the last 12 years, she's gained enormous experience in how to match the curriculum needs of K-8 grade students with modern computer technology. Thanks to the technical influence of her father, and being very good at math, as a youth her plan was to become an engineer. She graduated from U.C. San Diego with a degree in industrial engineering. All was according to plan until some significant, serendipitous events changed her life. Just how she became the Academic Director of a charter school, and then became involved in computer technology is an amazing story. Johanna explained the school's migration from Macs to Chromebooks, when the students start with computers, how they use them and what they're taught about computers. It's a very, ahem, educational story.
Aug. 7th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Joy of Tech Co-founder Nitrozac
Nitrozac (Liza Schmalcel) is an accomplished artist and cartoonist. Along with her partner, Snaggy, she founded Geek Culture in 1997, and it continues to thrive. She's also the co-founder of the Joy of Tech webcomic. Nitrozac told me about growing up in northern Manitoba, Canada. She knew at a very early age that she wanted to become an artist, and she's been drawing non-stop ever since. After high school, she attended the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Nitrozac suffered for a bit with not very capable computers before she went on to photography and communication design. Eventually, she met Snaggy the team has been at the center of our geek culture for two decades. And now, she's graciously provided a new self-portrait for us. It's the Nitrozac mystique!
Jul. 31st, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Hyperledger Project’s Executive Director Brian Behlendorf
Brian Behlendorf is the Executive Director of the Hyperledger Project at the Linux Foundation. He's also the co-author of the Apache Web server, now under the Apache Software Foundation. Plus, he holds a seat on the board of the Mozilla Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Brian has been one of the leading proponents of the open source software movement. Brian's parents met at IBM, and so computers became a natural part of his early life: the TRS-80 (he learned BASIC and gaming), Mac IIc's at school, and later IBM PC Jr. He studied physics at Berkeley, but in so doing fell in love with the internet. In 1991, he started thinking about a better Web server than the original from NCSA, and Apache was born. We chat about Brian's distinguished career and current work.
Jul. 24th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Author, Photographer and Pilot Maria Langer
Maria Langer is legendary for the 85 books she's written about computers from 1991 to 2012. That was merely the middle part of her career. Maria started her career with a bachelor's degree in accounting from Hofstra University. After a few stints as a financial analyst and auditor, she decided to dump the 9-to-5 grind and delved into writing computer books. Basically, if you wanted to learn anything about computers in those days, you read her stuff. Around 2011, that came to an end, and so, inspired by a childhood ride, she started helicopter pilot lessons. Today, she owns her own helicopter and tour business, working out of both Arizona and Washington. Maria and I are both aviation enthusiasts, geeked out about aircraft in our chat, and Maria tells some interesting stories about flying choppers.