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 Writer and Raconteur Bob 'Dr. Mac' LeVitus
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her sixth 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...
Oct. 10th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Writer and Raconteur Bob ‘Dr. Mac’ LeVitus
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. But Bob wasn't always a writer. Early on, he wanted to work in a recording studio and it just so happened, in high school, he had a good friend, Jermaine Jackson. That resulted in Bob touring with the Jackson 5. Later, he became a roadie with Shaun Cassidy. (Bob tells a secret.) Bob's also worked in advertising, a story in itself, and also as the official evangelist for Power Computing in the 1990s. Speaking of Apple, he said "We were their worst nightmare." Does Bob know how to tell stories? Oh, yes.
Oct. 3rd, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Allegis Capital Partner Jean-Louis Gassée
Jean-Louis Gassée is currently a V.C. partner with Allegis Capital. He's best known, however, for taking over the Macintosh division in 1985, his startup of Be Inc. and his highly respected Monday Note, a technical commentary. Jean-Louis tells the story about how, as a precocious youth in Paris he built crystal AM radios and vacuum tubes. Later, after some "interesting jobs," he joined Hewlett-Packard (France) in 1968 to launch HP's first desktop computer, the 9100A. Jean-Louis's success as an electronics geek eventually led to a job at Data General then the lead executive job for Apple France. Jean-Louis then came to the U.S., and his time in Cupertino is legendary. Join me as this computer pioneer chats about Apple and Macs, past and present.
Sep. 26th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Founder & President of Bombich Software, Mike Bombich
Mike Bombich is the founder and president of Bombich Software, the developer of Carbon Copy Cloner. It's a backup app for the Mac that has saved the day for many users. He started his career at Bowling Green State University studying aquatic ecology. But he also took computer science classes thinking that one day he would do scientific simulations of ecological systems. Soon, Mike discovered that he had a strong interest the software development process itself. Later, Mike worked for a tech support organization and discovered the real need for software that could back up the new Mac OS X launched in 2001. He created CCC. That got the attention of Apple and landed him a job working on technical solutions for professionals. Mike tells the story about how this app changed his life.
Sep. 19th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with MyMac Founder and Publisher Tim Robertson
Tim Robertson is the founder and publisher of MyMac. He's one of the pioneers in our business. Tim tells the story about how, in 1995, he was more or less a jock, but realized that his daughter was going to need to know about computers. After some research, he bought an Apple Performa 410. Learning how to use this computer, and wanting to be a writer, launched Tim into a lifelong love affair with Apple and publishing. Like many, he started writing about what he learned. But at that time, one had to create digital publications with Doc Maker, downloadable from a BBS. Soon thereafter, he was on the internet with the now legendary Mymac.com and a team of contributors. Come listen as we chat about the remarkable evolution of Tim's publishing career.
Sep. 12th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Kanopi Studios WordPress Developer Julie Kuehl
Julie Kuehl is an expert WordPress developer for Kanopi Studios. But there's much more. She built her first website in 1994. She's studied economics, statistics and web design. She's written for publications like MyMac, Tech Lounge and The Mac Observer. She's a popular speaker at conferences. She hosts the SciFi Tech Talk podcast. She's into cars (Mustang), motorcycles (Harley-Davidson) and holds several black belts in Karate, primarily Soto Kan. She's taught Martial Arts to police officers in Japan and learned Japanese in the process. Join me and Julie as we geek out and trade stories on our Martial Arts experiences, our first exposure to Unix and web servers in the 1990s, our car loves (more stories: Corvettes, Route 66), SciFi, and her own SciFi podcast. I was wowed. You will be too.
Sep. 6th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Thriller Novelist & Entrepreneur Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn is a best-selling thriller novelist. She's published over 20 books and sold over 450,000 copies in 74 countries and five languages. She's most famous for her ARKANE series described by readers as 'Dan Brown meets Lara Croft.' Joanna is also an entrepreneur who teaches writers how to hone their craft. I interviewed Joanna about her past which includes a Master's degree in Theology from Oxford. Joanna spent years working on computer code before she realized that she wanted to write fiction. And she's a self-admitted techie, using a Mac and Scrivener. Today, Joanna leverages her background in theology and psychology plus extensive travel to write her thrillers. We talked about the craft of writing fiction and finished up with whether AI agents will ever put us both out of work.
Aug. 29th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Omni Group Software Engineer Liz Marley
Liz Marley is a software engineer for the Omni Group. Early in life, there never was a time when Liz didn't have computers. At age four, she started with her dad's Apple IIGS, and she was encouraged to use it freely. Later, she majored in Computer Science at Harvey Mudd college and soon thereafter landed a job as a software tester. Over the years, her career has taken a series of interesting twists. From software coding to testing to being a product manager and then back to coding. In fact, her work with App Camp For Girls led her to a remarkable career decision and turn of events at the Omni Group. This is must listening for everyone interested in computer programming as a career.
Aug. 22nd, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Electronic Frontier Foundation Executive Director Cindy Cohn
Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Founded in 1990, the EFF is a nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. The EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism and technology development. It has won some important court cases that preserve our rights online, including the use of encryption. (Which wasn't always a given.) Cindy and I talked at length about her career, notable cases she fought and the work of the EFF, especially in the Apple vs. FBI conflict last spring. Cindy starts with notion that "privacy is fundamental to human dignity and... we can't have a free society unless people have a private space." Even if that means law enforcement has to work a little harder. Cindy explains it all.
Aug. 15th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Managing Editor of the Backblaze Blog Peter Cohen
Peter Cohen is the managing editor of the Backblaze blog. Previously, he's written for Macworld, The Loop and iMore. Peter talked about how, as a kid, he had a TI-99/4A with bit-mapped graphics. He drew images on graph paper, converted the patterns to Hexadecimal codes and wrote to the display with Basic. The result was color graphics of spaceships shooting at each other. When he first saw the 1984 Macintosh with MacPaint, "it was like the top of my head blew off." In the second segment, Peter and I chat about how Tim Cook is doing, Apple and its desktop Macs, whether the iPad Pros can replace the Mac and robotics. Peter is very much tuned in and speaks with wisdom on all these subjects. You'll want to tune in too.
Aug. 8th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Former Apple Sr. Manager & Entrepreneur Dan Burcaw
Dan Burcaw is a former Apple Senior Manager and founder of several notable businesses. In 1999, Dan was the co-founder and CTO of Terra Soft Solutions, developers of the legendary Yellow Dog Linux. That Linux, running on PowerPC was well received by the U.S. Government, businesses and the U.S. Navy. Later, after graduating from college, he worked for Apple as a Senior Manager in retail. In 2008, he founded Double Encore in Denver, a company that specialized in producing iOS apps for clients such as The PGA Tour and Turner Broadcasting. Most recently, Dan was a Senior Director, Product Management at Oracle where he led efforts to build a mobile app marketing capability. Dan is currently working on his next big, secret project. Come listen as Dan describes his fascinating career arc.
Aug. 1st, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with SCC Director of Mobile App Development Tim DeBenedictis
Tim DeBenedictis is the co-developer of the astronomy sky charting app SkySafari. He's now the Director of Mobile Application Development at Simulation Curriculum Corp. Tim was first inspired by the sky as a youth going on camping trips and being able to see the stars at night, something city dwellers seldom see. His dad was an avid bird watcher and always had a birding scope on the trips. One night, they pointed the scope at Jupiter and its moons. Tim described it as captivating and launched his interest in amateur astronomy. Later, that led to being a planetary science major at M.I.T. where he developed an extensive C++ code base for celestial mechanics. Years later, with that expertise, he co-developed SkySafari for the Mac, iOS and Android. Come take a grand celestial tour with us.
Jul. 25th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview With Ken Ray, Host and Producer of ‘Mac OS Ken’
Ken Ray is the host and producer of several notable podcasts, including the Mac OS Ken shows. It's not surprising that Ken started out in radio broadcasting. Early on, he was a behind the scenes person at a small radio station in Boston. There, he became operations director and learned a lot about radio tech without the on-air disc jockey pressure. He learned the station's digital editing suite, and that led to producing some commercials and radio shows. Later, at ZDTV radio, he had the opportunity to interview some high-profile people: Jesse Jackson and Ray Kurzweil. It's not hard to see how, after he fell into the world of Apple, he brought all his skills to bear into a whole suite of modern-day podcasts, including work with Rod Roddenberry, Gene's son.
Jul. 18th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with Rogue Amoeba Software Co-founder Paul Kafasis
Paul Kafasis is the co-founder and CEO of Rogue Amoeba Software. His company specializes in stellar audio products for the Mac such as Audio Hijack, Loopback, Piezo and more. His early work with colleagues (2001) was with MacAmp, an MP3 player. That led to the founding of Rogue Amoeba in 2002 and Audio Hijack 1.0. Paul and his co-founders realized that audio was emerging as an important niche where his team had special talent. Paul starts off with the story about how they chose such a memorable name for the company and then explains the evolution of Audio Hijack, then the pro version, and now Audio Hijack 3. We chat about challenges for the Mac developer and why an app like this, and its siblings, are not found in the Mac App Store.
Jul. 11th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview with TLA Systems Founder James Thomson
James Thomson is the founder of TLA Systems, famous for the apps Drag Thing and PCalc. He tells the story of growing up in the 1980s in Scotland when the personal computer was on the rise. The 1982 movie Tron captured his imagination and inspired him to buy a Commodore 64. At age 12, his school got its first PC, but no one knew what to do with it! James and just three other students became the "Guardians of the Computer." Later, his first Mac was at the university in 1990, and he spent a year learning it inside out. The original PCalc, written in Pascal, launched his career as a Mac programmer. Later James worked for Apple in Cork, Ireland. James chats about his development as an indie Apple developer with a host of charming stories.
Jul. 5th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Former Apple Sr. Director of Product Marketing Michael Gartenberg
Michael Gartenberg is currently the analyst in residence for iMore.com. However, before that, he spent three years as Apple's Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to SVP Phil Schiller. Michael tells the story about how he got his gig with Apple. After years of working at various tech industry research firms, he was always on the periphery of Apple and working with Apple executives, especially Greg "Joz" Joswiak and Phil Schiller. Then, one day in 2013, he got phone call from Joz, and it didn't sound like it was going to be a schmooze session. Michael was alarmed. What could he have done wrong? But Joz wanted to invite Michael to Cupertino for an interview. Listen as Michael tells me how he got hired and what he did at Apple for three years.
Jun. 27th, 2016
TMO Background Mode: Interview With Symply Co-founder and President Alex Grossman
Alex Grossman is the co-founder and president of Symply, Inc. His new company makes high-performance storage devices for content creators. I asked Alex about his start in storage technology, and it goes back to his EE degree in college and his first job with the Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). Early on, he developed a passion to build great hardware and understand how data got stored. Years later, Alex ended up at Apple focusing on the small and medium business needs for easy to manage mass storage. He tells a great story about Apple giving him the go ahead to change the world with Xserve RAID. Today, Alex carries his years of experience with elegant, easy to manage storage into his new company, Symply, Inc. Alex told me one amazing story after another.