TMO Background Mode Interview with Georgia Tech Roboticist Dr. Ayanna Howard

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Ayanna Howard is a professor of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s also in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Ayanna received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. I asked Ayanna how she became inspired by robot technology. Like many of us, it was via science fiction on TV. In graduate school, robotics was still immature, so she wisely elected to pursue electrical engineering. Her first job was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) working on vision, fuzzy logic, and neural network methodologies. Today, she leads her students in the areas of assistive robots in the home, therapy gaming apps and remote robotic exploration of extreme environments. Our discussion covered the whole field of robotics, so tune in and hear all about the state-of-the-art from an accomplished roboticist.

TMO Background Mode Interview with IDA Astronomer Dr. John Barentine

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. John Barentine on Background Mode.

Dr. John C. Barentine is an astronomer, historian, author and science communicator. He is currently the Director of Conservation for the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in Tucson, Arizona. He earned his master’s degree in physics at Colorado State University and his Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout his career, he’s been involved in education efforts to help increase the public understanding of science. We started with a brief segment on his early career as a observing specialist at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. In the second segment, we chatted about his work at the IDA in Tucson, the organization, its goals, and why it’s so important for all of us who live on planet Earth to be able to look up on a clear night and see stars.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Freelance Tech Journalist Rob Pegoraro

· · Background Mode Podcast

Rob Pegoraro is a freelance technical journalist who writes about interesting problems and possibilities in consumer technology. Previously, he was a technical columnist for the Washington Post from 1999 to 2011. Lately he has written for Yahoo Finance, USA Today and The Wirecutter. Rob graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1993 with a degree in international relations without taking a single course in journalism or computer science. But along the way he discovered his real talent: learning new things about computer tech and then explaining it to readers. Rob told me how his time with the Washington Post was both rewarding but also prepared him for a better family life as a freelancer. We chatted about Google I/O 2018, the Android platform, his writings about the FTC, the GDPR, 8KTV, and his recent DIY update of his 2009 iMac.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Mobile Nations Editor Russell Holly

· · Background Mode Podcast

Russell Holly on Background Mode.

Russell Holly is a Contributing and Managing Editor at Android Central, under the Mobile Nations umbrella. Formerly, he was with geek.com. Over the years Russell has become an Android expert with focus on mobility, smartphones, tablets … and iOS as well. He also writes about Virtual and Augmented Reality. I took the opportunity to ask Russell about the security aspects of Android, and he had some unexpected answers that will be of interest to Apple-centric listeners. (Get the scoop on Android from a genuine expert.) We also discussed Android’s “notch envy.” Moving on to Chrome OS, Russell explained what Google is doing with Android app integration and how that fits in with Google’s education initiatives. We finished with a revealing discussion of Virtual Reality and the future of Oculus Rift and the less expensive, stand alone Oculus Go.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Music Composer John Lunn

· · Background Mode Podcast

John Lunn on Background Mode

John Lunn is a classically trained music composer in London. He’s probably best known for scoring the TV drama Downton Abbey — for which he received two Primetime Emmy awards. His recent work includes the scoring of the feature film Electricity and the hit TV shows: The Grantchester Mysteries, Shetland, and The White Queen—for which he received a Primetime Emmy nomination. John and I chatted about how he always wanted to be a music composer and the journey that made his dream a reality. I asked him about the various mechanics of scoring a TV show, his tools (Mac, Logic Pro), the production process, and how the music is keyed to the scene to produce desired emotions. I played sound snippets and he explained the instruments. If you love his music and the TV shows he’s scored, this is show is essential listening.

TMO Background Mode Special Edition #4 With Former Apple Executive Michael Gartenberg

· · Background Mode Podcast

Michael Gartenberg

Michael Gartenberg spent three years as Apple’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to Senior VP Phil Schiller. In his fourth encore appearance on Background Mode, Michael and I chat about expectations for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) to be held June 4-8, 2018. We delved into potential improvements to HomePod, the state-of-the-art of Siri, the competition with Amazon’s Alexa, possible changes to iOS and watchOS, the state of the Mac, the much anticipated Mac Pro, what we’d like from macOS 10.14, Apple’s recent issue with premature product announcements, and the MacBook evolution (and its keyboard). We also discussed Apple’s discontinuation of AirPort products, and why that’s something Apple may or may not need to be involved with anymore.

TMO Background Mode Encore #4 Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Kiki Sanford

Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist, a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. This is her fourth appearance here. In this episode, we chat about some some very interesting recent topics on TWIS. 1) Researchers showed that mini human brains implanted into mouse brains survived and functionally integrated into the host tissue. 2) Magnetoreception in birds is possible thanks to a protein in their eyes. They may actually have a heads-up display in their eyes for the Earth’s magnetic field. 3) Amazon’s announcement of its Vesta family robot project. 4) A new, non-invasive patch is being developed to allow diabetics to monitor their gluscose levels. Kiki has a special way of inspiring us to learn about science, so don’t miss BGM’s most popular guest.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Astrophysicist Dr. Brian Keating

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Brian Keating on Background Mode.

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) that sought to unravel one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Big Bang. He is also the author of over 100 scientific publications. We chatted about his early years at age 12 in New York and the spark that ignited his interest in astrophysics. And then we got very geeky on cosmology. Brian recently published a terrific, courageous book about his team’s research, some life lessons, the challenges of scientific research, and he makes some valuable suggestions concerning changes to the Nobel Prize award process. After listening to our chat, you’ll want to read his excellent book.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Gravitational Wave Astrophysicist Dr. Chiara Mingarelli

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Chiara Mingarelli

Dr. Chiara Mingarelli is an astrophysicist currently working at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics where she’s a Flatiron Fellow. Chiara received her Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2014, and her specialty is the study of gravitational waves: ripples in spacetime born of a cataclysmic collision of distant, super-massive objects. She’s been a Marie Curie International Fellow at Cal Tech and has worked at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. We chatted about her early years, how she was inspired by the night skies of her hometown in Canada and her early years studying mathematics and physics. There were definitely some challenges in her early career, but her mathematician father nurtured her through. If you’re curious about gravitational waves and Pulsars, this is the show for you.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Ruby Receptionists CTO Katharine Nester

· · Background Mode Podcast

Katharine Nester on Background Mode.

Katharine Nester is the CTO and Chief Product Officer for Ruby Receptionists, a virtual receptionist service. She owes early influence to her father, a computer engineer, and that led to her B.S. degree in computer science from the Univ. of Calif. at Berkeley. Her first job was as a Hewlett Packard software engineer. Katharine is an active member of Portland’s growing tech community where she advocates for more inclusive environments to support women and minorities in the field and is a benefactor of App Camp for Girls. We chatted about the founding of Ruby Receptionists, early technical decisions that were made and how it operates. Katharine tells a great story about her personal career arc as well as what it’s like to be the CTO of a company that supports 7,600 other companies.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Tidbits Security Editor Rich Mogull

· · Background Mode Podcast

Rich Mogull on Background Mode.

Rich Mogull has twenty years experience in information security, physical security, and risk management. He specializes in data security, application security, emerging security technologies, and security management. Prior to founding Securosis, Rich was a Research Vice President at Gartner on the security team where he also served as research co-chair for the Gartner Security Summit. Currently, he is the security editor at Tidbits. We chatted about Rich’s career, then delved into some security issues of interest to Apple customers: the relative security of macOS vs. Windows 10, the security of iOS, whether AES-256 encryption is still “good enough,” iCloud security, and the technical feasibility of an unhackable backdoor into our iPhones for law enforcement. If you’re interested in all things security, this is the show for you.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Kelly Guimont and Jeff Gamet - Everything 4K/UHD TV

· · Background Mode Podcast

In this very special edition of Background Mode, The Mac Observer’s Kelly Guimont and Jeff Gamet joined me to continue a previous discussion we’d been having about 4K/UHD television. It all started when I published an article, an adventure actually, about my project to get all my home video components working together to achieve 4K/UHD and Dolby Vision. One TMO Daily Observations podcast wasn’t enough to answer all the questions, and so we just kept on chatting, laughing and recording. Herein is most everything you need to know about setting up a 4K/UHD TV system with advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR), especially Dolby Vision.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Apple World Today's News Editor Dennis Sellers

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dennis Sellers

Dennis Sellers is a seasoned journalist, reporter and news editor. He knew at a very early age that he wanted to become a journalist and that led to his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Tennessee. He worked in the newspaper business for over 20 years, wrote freelance while he taught, earned his Master’s degree, signed on with MacCentral in the 1990s. After MacCentral was assimilated, he launched Macsimum News, an online newspaper covering the Mac industry and Apple news. In 2015, he joined Apple World Today as news editor. Dennis and I chatted about the state of Apple, hopes for macOS, his experience with his HomePod, Apple and education and what Apple might reveal at WWDC in June. He also explained the interesting domain his website uses.

TMO Background Mode Encore Interview with Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers

· · Background Mode Podcast

Josh Centers

Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com and has published several Take Control Books. His latest book is “Take Control of Apple Home Automation.” And so, I invited him to make a return appearance on Background Mode to chat about that very subject. The book is a complete guide and starts from the very beginning of the design and wiring process and the use of various hubs. Josh clearly explained how to use Apple’s HomeKit home automation platform to control smart devices in the home, such as lights, outlets, thermostats, and more. And he’s very frank about various myths surrounding home automation. We also chatted about beginner security concerns as well as the ability to maintain control and terminate any service if necessary. If you have an interest in home automation, this show is must listening.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Take Control Books Publisher Joe Kissell

· · Background Mode Podcast

Joe Kissell on Background Mode.

Joe Kissell is a writer and author with over 60 technical books to his credit. He’s a contributing editor with Tidbits, and recently became the owner and publisher of the Take Control series of eBooks. Early in his career, Joe had a strong interest in language and holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics. Along the way, however, he also got very technical with computers, and that landed him a job as a product manager with Nisus. Subsequently, Joe was a software developer for Kensington. In 2017, he accepted an offer from Adam Engst to acquire Take Control Books. Joe and his wife run that business—currently using a brand new iMac Pro. When not editing, Joe pursues T’ai Chi, cooking, walking and travel. Joe tells his career story, chock full of technical serendipity, with awesome charm.

TMO Background Mode Interview with VP of Marketing for Mayfield Robotics Chris Matthews

· · Background Mode Podcast

Chris Matthews on Background Mode.

Chris Matthews is the VP of Marketing for Mayfield Robotics. They make the companion robot called Kuri that was recently shown to our Jeff Gamet at CES 2018. Having been a very interested observer of emerging robot technology, I invited Chris to be on the show. We talked about how Mayfield Robotics was formed, the founders, how the company got its name, the human and engineering design principles behind Kuri, what mistakes were avoided, how Kuri protects family privacy and security, the nuances of Kuri’s physical design, how Kuri communicates with the family, its processing power, the price and the shipping status. Kuri is probably going to be my first family robot, so tune-in as Chris explains how Kuri works in fascinating detail. You may want one too.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Axios Energy & Climate Reporter Amy Harder

· · Background Mode Podcast

Amy Harder on Background Mode.

Amy Harder covers energy and climate change for Axios. She writes a weekly column called the Harder Line that reports on trends, has exclusive scoops and analyzes the news driving the debate about energy and climate. Her coverage includes congressional legislation, regulations, lobbying, and international policy actions affecting the United States. Amy holds a B.A. in Journalism with honors. In our interview, I asked Amy about some of the most important issues of her coverage: what is “clean coal,” how does global warming affect climate, do all conservatives deny global warming, what is a good website for scientific information, what is her workday like, and what could scientists do to better to communicate with the public? Come meet and listen to the reporter who has a terrific grasp of these important topics.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Legislative Counsel for the EFF Ernesto Falcon

· · Background Mode Podcast

Ernesto Falcon on Background Mode.

Ernesto Falcon is Legislative Counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). His primary focus is on intellectual property and open internet issues. Ernesto and I chatted about the key issues surrounding net neutrality, the stakes for business and consumers, how the FCC’s recent ruling might be combatted, ongoing legal efforts to restore net neutrality, the key players, potential legislation, and what consumers can do to help. But before we got into all that, Ernesto talked about how he became an attorney and his experiences leading up to joining the EFF. For example, during his tenure, Public Knowledge and the EFF scored a major victory for consumers by rallying the Internet community to defeat the SOPA act. Ernesto fills in a lot of important details in the fight for net neutrality that you’ll want to hear.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Architosh Founder & EIC Anthony Frausto-Robledo

· · Background Mode Podcast

Anthony Frausto-Robledo on Background Mode.

Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP is a practicing architect and the founder and editor of the award-winning Architosh.com website. Educated in Boston, he has been an architectural professional for over 30 years and was a senior designer with the distinguished Boston architectural firm Koetter Kim & Associates before launching his web consultancy, BritasMedia. Anthony and I chatted about Apple’s ups and downs with technical professionals, his creation of architosh.com, the state of architecture app support on the Mac, what kind of system the pros need, and what might be in store for the 2018 Mac Pro. Even if you’re not a architect, you’ll find Anthony’s perspectives interesting and informed.