Switchback: Talking Tech (Nov. 14)

Nov 14, 2014

The team from The Switch discussed everything from the latest political tech news to the gadgets you’re eyeing.

Hi all, let's get this started.

What happened to this story from yesterday? It's gone now. 

So, we're having some technical difficulties over here today. 

The IT crowd here is working on it. 

This article: "Sony courts cord-cutters with its own cable-like service" on the WaPo Tech page yields Page Not Found :(

Don't be sad! You're talking to the author RIGHT NOW. What would you like to know?

Whew! Looks like we're having some technical hiccups here, too. Thanks for sticking with us.


I refused to ignore this post. 

testing - please ignore

All of the chat upvotes, coming right to you. (For those who don't get the reference...

"I'll put this over here, with the rest of the fire."

Oh! I want to know if any cable or cable-like companies will carry my National's games? Lack of local sports is what prevents me from pursuing alternatives to Fios.

I hope this answer doesn't make you sad again.

In Sony's case, PlayStation Vue will carry -- per the press release -- "FOX Sports' national and regional programming services - FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, BTN, Fox's regional sports networks, including YES Network and Prime Ticket. The agreement also covers Fox's owned and operated television stations."

I admit to you that I don't know what channels carry Nationals games, because I am forever loyal to my hometown team no matter how difficult that is. But if it's on one of those channels, that would be good, right?

We can land spacecraft 300 million miles away...Houston we have a problem here?

To be fair, *other* people are landing spacecraft, just as other people are undoubtedly working really hard right now to fix the site problems.

 Me? I tripped getting out of bed this morning. Over my cat.


To be fair, Hayley's cat is pretty wily. 

He's fine, by the way. Just in case anyone was worried.

This is probably very blase to you guys at this point, but I've gotten very mixed answers when I ask among friends: Any opinion on iPhone6 vs. 5 for those of us with lady-sized hands? Yes, I am still hanging onto my old 4s and finally making the upgrade but I'm honestly nervous that I'll either strain a thumb muscle in my daily one-handed use of the 6 or just get unnecessarily frustrated by it, so I'm seriously considering just going up to the 5. Do the perks of the 6 outweigh the size? Is the size difference between a 5 and a 6 negligible in terms of actual use? I'm keeping cost differences out of the equation. Thanks!

As with so many tech questions, this comes down to personal preference. But I'd say that 6 isn't a thumb-straining nightmare for those who love smaller phones. (The 6 Plus on the other hand...)

My recommendation would be, really, to go to the store before you buy anything and try it out. That's really the best advice I can give you. The difference between a 5 and a 6 aren't negligible, but not as drastic as you may think.   

So, I have a Galaxy S4 and an iPhone 4. (I know, I'm behind the times.) I have zero problems handling the Galaxy, which is significantly larger despite my tiny lady fingers. In fact, I prefer the S4. But Hayley is right, you should just go check things out on your own... it's the only way to actually find out if you like it. 

We should start keeping tabs on celebrities who come out in favor of or against Title II. Mark Cuban is firmly in the AGAINST camp. Whichever side gathers the most celebrities wins? Much cooler than form letters.

I'm actually very pro this idea -- and also decided to steal part of it and try to do a Q&A with Mark Cuban on the topic. So thanks!

Isn't YouTube basically already a streaming service? Why do they need to launch a new product around something that their users are effectively already doing?

Good question. But I think the answer is "to make (more) money." 

Good morning! I am trying to figure out why cell phone plans keep getting more and more and more expensive. I am a current Verizon customer (and am supposed to get a corporate discount), but apparently the only programs available with them or AT&T top $80 a month! Am I missing something here, since I was always told that when the technology advanced, the prices would go down? I know there was a special lower cost program a few months ago, but I managed to get to the Verizon store two (!) days after it was ended....

Data costs, basically drive up the price of plans. And we apparently have a bottomless appetite for it. 

So the best way to get a cheaper plan is to cut back on the data -- the only trick then is to make sure you don't get hit with overages. 

Does Andrea Peterson ever get confused with Adrian Peterson? It's a good thing you're not a baby sitter.

Yes. It's not ideal. In a previous career I was once publicly introduced as Adrian Peterson, although that was years before the current business. 

On the flip side, I'll bet your name doesn't get snagged by spell check. My spell check name is Harley Tsunami. 

Can we commission an artist to draw you as Harley Tsunami? I... want that to exist. 

To be fair, this landing looks like it was kind of a disaster and the mission won't produce much (if any) actual science. That won't stop IFLS from posting artist renditions though.

Things haven't been going... ideally for them. Especially with shirtstorm. 

That's nothing. I used to work with a guy named Adnan Hisler.

So you had completely different career than you do now just two years ago? Or different employer? The wouldn't think the Post hires people with just two years experience.

I had a completely different career five years ago. I know I look young, but I'm not that young -- plus I started early. 

The Nats are on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, so that Fox tie-in with Sony is no help. Back to being Sad.

Oh, boo. Sorry. Do you like otters? Will this help?

It's all about turtles, Hayley. 

Pretty sure I win: 

(From here.)

COME ON! You would change your last name. Wouldn't you?

How did that happen already? (I mean, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but Starbucks put out the red cups and that's the official start of holiday season.) So, what are going to be the hot tech gifts this year?

Good questions all around! The Peet's on the corner has started playing holiday music, which I object to. (I like Christmas music, just in its proper place. December.)

On the gift front, it actually hasn't been a banner year for tech gifts. A lot of things got faster or thinner, but nothing to earth-shattering. As a result, most of the analysts I've talked to say smartphones will be the hot gift this year, with a small by vocal minority in favor of wearables.


(Sorry, the chat was publishing blank answers for me.)

I made that up. Ha!

People do that? They lie, on the Internet!?

What do you think of it? Should we be offended? Is it a case of a geeky scientist guy doing a geeky scientist type thing? Or is it misogyny at its worst? I honestly can't decide, although I think I lean towards maybe people are overreacting a bit ... and that his supervisor really should have taken him aside at some point and explained that this is not appropriate work attire.

Geeky scientist things are shirts covered in planets, not scantily-clad ladies, I think? If nothing else, probably says something about the work environment that no one did take him aside before he was already being broadcast worldwide...

My sister went to college with a guy with the last name of Hitler. Supposedly, his family was one of the only ones to not change. He's now married, with kids, and his wife took his last name! A bunch of Hitler's are running around in Ohio.

When I did speech team in high school (yes, because I'm cool), there was a girl whose last name was Hitler. There was always a big pause before the announcers read her name. 

Hello, I would like to know how net neutrality might impact this sloth's ability to eat vegetables while lying on his back. Please and thank you. 

Well, obviously net neutrality might impact the ability of a user to both upload and watch a video of said adorable sloth activity on the Internet. 

I was always told that when the technology advanced, the prices would go down? Uber share economy idea. When friction goes down service goes up. The basic idea behind the cheap flight. Price is information and consumers want two things. They want the planes to keep going up and prices to keep coming down.

Well I don't know anything about oil but in tech the prices of some things are going down -- it just doesn't get passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices. 

Instead, you get (for example) cellphones with more power at roughly the same price as their predecessors. They're just cramming more tech into devices, basically. 

So sad that I don't have a baby otter to tickle...

Oh darn. I don't know what to do!

Is Brian a Funguy?

Okay, I admit I've sort of mocked you guys for the gifs, imagining that someone required you to post at least one each in every chat. However, I loved the Moss one. Am starting fresh.

We love us some gifs here. Although there is a fierce pronunciation debate. 

I do know a family whose last name is Fuhrer. Once you hear it a couple of times, you just forget about it. It's like people whose last name is a word - Water or whatever. You don't think of water every time you hear their name.

Annnnnd I'm thirsty. 

He's a business owner who happens to be famous because he owns an NBA team. Big business will be against the idea. But I still think it's important to highly value the opinions of people based solely on how many people know who they are.

Have you guys seen it? What do you think?

I am a bad nerd and have not yet seen it. 

Just a tiny bit out of your usual wheelhouse, but maybe not too much... I am severely hard-of-hearing and cannot use any phones at all normally. However, I can use landline phones that are hooked up to a caption service, where a third party types what the other person is saying, I read it on my iPad, and then I speak into my phone in response. Not perfect, but it works. I have resisted getting a cell phone because prior to using these caption services, it seemed like a huge waste of money. However, now I'm reconsidering the idea, but obviously want to get the cheapest plan possible, mostly covering text and data rather than incoming voice, and the screen size and quality is tremendously important. To be useful, the screen needs to be readable in bright light, unlike my iPad. So - what phone do I need?

Good, tough question. I've done just a little bit of reporting on this, so I don't have a great answer for you. There are some cellphone apps that work with the telecommunications relay system, but I don't know specifically of any cellphones that are ideal for the deaf and hard of hearing. 

The Hearing Loss Association of America does have some information on cellphones here, which you may find helpful/

This is gif-baiting now. I wonder if Hayley feels we should all just deal with it?

This is sort of like sunglasses? 

There used to be a "deal with it" version of this gif, but it mysteriously disappeared. *cough*

Alright, that's it guys. Until next week! 

In This Chat
Brian Fung
Andrea Peterson
Nancy Scola
Recent Chats
  • Next: