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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Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford (#7)
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her seventh 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 of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and...
Apr. 10th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with KGW TV Anchor & Digital Trends Host Stephanie Stricklen
Stephanie Stricklen has been a career-long KGW TV Portland, OR News Anchor. She tells the story about how when she was younger, it wasn't her plan to be in front of a camera. "It just worked out that way." But the seeds were there. She became the EIC of her high school's newspaper and decided on print journalism as a career. In college, via internships, she discovered the "adrenalin inducing" experience of TV news. Stephanie has covered the Olympics for KGW, and that took her to Salt Lake City, Greece, Italy, China, Canada and Russia. A tech nerd and Apple fan, she's also into aviation and has flown with the Navy's Blue Angels. Today, she works with Digital Trends as a host and still anchors with KGW. Amidst all that? Raising a daughter with her husband.
Apr. 3rd, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Medical Epidemiologist Dr. Steven Lamm
Dr. Steven Lamm is a medical epidemiologist. He studies epidemics, diseases that occur much more frequently than would be expected, their causes and control. Dr. Lamm is the son of a professor, and that caused him to want to make his own unique contribution to society. He started with the idea that chemistry and biophysics would give him all he needed to know about disease at the molecular level. But the micro view didn't work. So he moved from the microscope to the macroscope as he was getting his M.D. degree. He's an expert in the mathematical analysis of risk assessment for various agents, like arsenic, in the environment. We had a wide-ranging chat about his research, but don't miss the part about his fascinating investment in Google Maps back in its infancy.
Mar. 27th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Microsoft Chief Creative Architect Ben Rudolph
Ben Rudolph is a Microsoft Chief Creative Architect. That means he's responsible for consumer, retail marketing. In Ben's words, "his team ... builds the experience that turns shoppers ... into fans of Microsoft. That involves everything about how the Microsoft brand shows up to consumers in the retail environment." That may not have been of interest to Apple fans just a few years ago, but the arrival of CEO Satya Nadella has changed all that. Ben and I chatted about his early career interest in being a physician and the path that led him, instead to Microsoft. Then we got into the Microsoft's Surface Studio that sent shock waves through the Apple community last year. We also discussed the refreshing new corporate mission of Microsoft under Mr. Nadella. This interview will take Apple fans where they've never gone before.
Mar. 20th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Interview with Astronomer & Science Communicator Dr. Phil Plait
Dr. Phil Plait is an astronomer and a very popular science communicator. His blog, Bad Astronomy, "covers the entire universe, from subatomic particles to the Big Bang itself, astronomy, space exploration, and the effect of politics on science." Like many young astronomers, Phil's interest in astronomy ignited when he first saw Saturn and its rings through a telescope. He earned his Ph.D. working on the study of supernovae with the Hubble Space Telescope. We chatted about his career, his enduring work in amateur astronomy with his telescope, his love for science communication, why people who don't believe in the Apollo moon landings are wrong, the study of a potentially dangerous asteroid or comet collision with Earth, how climate change is affecting us, and the recent discovery of a nearby solar system with Earth-like planets.
Mar. 13th, 2017
TMO Background Mode Encore: Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg
Michael Gartenberg is currently the analyst in residence for iMore.com. Before that, he spent three years as Apple's Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to Senior VP Phil Schiller. In his second appearance on Background Mode, we caught up on the latest news and things we couldn't get to last summer. Michael told me about the nuances of being an Apple marketing manager and Apple's different marketing groups. He explained how one just has to already know what to do as an Apple employee. Then he discussed his fondness for the iPhone SE and delved into its sales numbers and merits. Finally, we moved on Apple's October 2016 "Hello Again" event, explored the new MacBook Pro, computer touch philosophy and the Microsoft Surface Studio impact. Michael tells a joke.
Mar. 6th, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Six Colors Editor-in-Chief Jason Snell
Jason Snell is one of the best known Apple technical journalists. He's the Editor-in-Chief of the Apple focused website Six Colors, and he told me the intriguing story about how that name came to be. Previously he was Senior VP and editorial director at IDG, publishers of Macworld, PCWorld, and TechHive. Jason always knew he wanted to be a journalist, and he told me the story about, as a kid, standing on his back porch in a rainstorm and pretending to do a live TV weather report. In 1991, he created InterText, one of the first online fiction magazines. Today, Jason writes and podcasts about everything Apple. In our show, Jason shared his thoughts about many of the most timely and pressing topics related to Apple today: the Mac and iPad futures and the Apple TV.
Feb. 27th, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with CNET Senior Editor & TV Reviewer David Katzmaier
David Katzmaier is a CNET Senior Editor and TV reviewer, something he's been doing for most of his career. He started at a small review website in New York and, later, a friend went to CNET and brought David on board where he's been since about 2000. David is an expert on TV technology, and so we delved into the Retina effect, generic High Dynamic Range (HDR), Dolby Vision, 10-bit color, TV brightness levels, color gamuts, Hybrid Log Gamma, edge lighting (with light guides) vs. local dimming, the pros and cons of OLED vs. LCD, H.265 compression, 120 Hz refresh sample and hold, 4K streaming standards and the best time of year to buy a new TV. Phew! If you're into UHD/TV tech, you'll love this grand tour of today's state-of the-art.
Feb. 20th, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Open Source Developer & Former Apple Manager Jordan Hubbard
Jordan Hubbard, the co-founder of FreeBSD, spent a dozen years at Apple bringing coherence to the UNIX core of Mac OS X. Apple calls it macOS today, but in the early years, there were lots of rough spots integrating the partly FreeBSD core into a viable consumer Mac OS X. Jordan was also instrumental in modernizing Mac OS X with features like MacPorts, Launchd, Grand Central Dispatch and application sandboxing. Today, his work complete at Apple, Jordan is an open source developer. We talked about the early development of Mac OS X derived from NeXT and even the earliest BSD origins. Along the way, we also chatted about Jordan's childhood memories as an 8-year old being an electronics geek with Radio Shack as his Mecca. If you love macOS, don't miss this insightful historical tour.
Feb. 13th, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Astrophysicist Dr. Christine Corbett Moran
Dr. Christine C. Moran is an astrophysicist who specializes in computational astrophysics, high performance computing and big data visualization. She's interested in the gravitational force, which she's described as the most beautiful and mysterious of all of nature's fundamental forces. In her undergraduate life, she studied both physics and philosophy, great background for her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Zurich. Along the way, she's also worked for, notably, SpaceX and the M.I.T. Media Lab. She's also a Mac user and iOS app developer. We talked about her interest in gravity, computation, and hobbies: flying and martial arts (Kung Fu). Also, in November, 2016, she returned from the South Pole (radio) telescope where she did research on the Cosmic Microwave Background. Come take a cosmic journey with John and Christine as she tells her story.
Feb. 6th, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with with Tech Community Facilitator Jonathan Bernstein
Jonathan Bernstein is an attorney. He's an Apple product expert. He's worked for the Federal Election Commission. He's on the board of directors of the legendary Washington, D.C. Apple Pi Users Group. He's involved with the Silver Spring, Maryland Citizens Advisory Board where he's active in facilitating communication between citizens and local government. Oh, my. After Jonathan told me a little bit about his background, being the son of a rabbi father and pediatrician mother, it soon became clear where his roots of public service originated. Out of law school, he clerked for a judge in the U.S. Claims Court, and that eventually connected him to the FEC. We chatted about Jonathan's unique gift for bringing people together utilizing technology. He'll inspire you with collaboration methods you never realized were possible.
Jan. 30th, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Science Journalist and Author Maryn McKenna
Maryn McKenna is a science journalist and author. Her undergraduate degree was in 16th century theater and 20th century poetry. That led to a small theater company, but after a few years, she realized that a paying job would be a very good idea. When Maryn realized she really wanted to be a writer, she was off to graduate school and journalism. After graduation, she discovered that the only jobs in journalism were business related. That led to a career in investigative journalism and eventually, she landed with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the CDC. In time, Maryn became an expert on bioterrorism, the over use of antibiotics with both humans and animals, superbugs, food policy and the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service. (Yes, that's real.) Her stories, at times, were scary, so brace yourself.
Jan. 23rd, 2017
TMO Background Mode: Interview with 9News/KUSA TV Anchor/Reporter Kyle Clark
Kyle Clark is a 9News TV news anchor and reporter in Denver. His parents were both teachers and, early on, inspired him to learn and then explain to others. When Kyle was in grade school, his father gave him an Apple IIGS and encouraged him to learn about it. By and by, Kyle learned to use computers not as a pastime but as a tool. He majored in journalism and politics as an undergraduate, and, later, work at a small radio station convinced him he wanted to be in broadcasting. Today, in addition to being a Channel 9 news anchor, he's launched a 30 minute news analysis show called Next. His show brings understanding, context, and a sense of community to the news. Listen in to hear how he convinced his station to embrace his successful, Next idea.
Jan. 16th, 2017
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.
Jan. 9th, 2017
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.
Jan. 3rd, 2017
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.
Dec. 27th, 2016
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.
Dec. 19th, 2016
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!
Dec. 12th, 2016
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.
Dec. 5th, 2016
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.
Nov. 28th, 2016
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.