Switchback: Talking Tech (Jan. 30)

Jan 30, 2015

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

Welcome! Take a load off, have some cocoa, and get ready for Hayley and us to talk about snow for the next hour. 

Also probably some tech, but mostly snow and being from the midwest. 

Hi Brian, are Hayley and Andrea really as geeky as they seem? If so, I think I'm in love...in a harmless crush (as opposed to creepy stalker) kinda way. Seriously, doesn't it seem like geeks/nerds have enjoyed a lot more mainstream sex appeal as society has become more tech driven?

So, this is awkward, but Brian isn't actually here today. I believe Hayley and I both self-identify as nerds -- not that we'd turn down geeks, but that we tend to get really into certain things. This includes the techno-geekery you all see here on the Post daily, but I also get super obsessed with planning long road trips and visiting small towns while Hayley is a history junkie.  

Oh, and we're both super off the market. Like getting married off the market. 

But I'd agree that geekery is seen as more generally attractive than the pocket protected past. 

So this was definitely Hayley and I enjoying a sudden snow fall here in DC like twenty minutes ago. 


You thought I was kidding about the snow talk, didn't you? 

Right? People here freak out about the forecast, and I'm all like:

Edit:For reasons unclear to me, my embed of the Snow song from White Christmas isn't showing up. Which is a tragedy.

Where is the 3D printer + drone combo that can deliver that cup of cocoa into my hand? That is the future I want to see.

This sounds like a future we can all agree on. 

Also, 3D-printed food is a real thing. But that Innovations Blog post about it missed a key opportunity to talk about Star Trek replicators. 

And here I thought I was pretty darn fast at home with consistent 20mbps up and down. But it turns out I live is some backwoods area that has barely heard of the interweb thingy. What exactly can I do with 25 that I can't do with 20?

From a consumer standpoint, the main answer is probably 4K video, which is gaining ground even if it's not that widely adopted at the moment. But streaming companies are picking it up more, so that's going to be a thing at some point.

Really, it's also probably about being able to future-proof the standard. Remember when you thought you'd never need 100 minutes of talk time on your cellphone? Technology evolves quickly and things that seem ridiculous to us one day seem completely inadequate the next.

 

How is planning going? Did you find awesome tech tools to use? And I feel bad for the Capital Weather Gang; their job must be so hard. Even with the best tech weather people have at their disposal, it still goes wrong. You can make a best guess, but it's never 100%. (I am hoping for a boom snowfall on Sunday night/Monday morning. 2 hour delay or closing please!!)

Oh, we're all on team hoping for a snowy Monday here at Switch HQ today. I know there's science involved in it, but I secretly really enjoy thinking of Capital Weather Gang as some sort of precipitation controlling wizards.

Just kidding, we all know Al Roker controls the weather. 

On the wedding planning front, I think I've mentioned these before, but I've like Thumbtack for finding vendors within my price range and Google Docs for keeping all of my business in order and editable by my partner and select members of the wedding party. 

Planning's going alright. I admit that I'm mostly still using Google Docs, and then...you know, e-mail. I'm in sort of a weird position, because all of my people live in different states, so we do a lot of group messaging to get any decisions made. 

I've been relying some on Wedding Wire (they're local!) for reviews and what not, but mostly it's been good ol'fashioned phone work. Guess I'm a traditionalist that way.

So you're saying there's a chance, then? Actually, I think "geek chic" became a thing when Silicon Valley IPO's became conversation topics. Like the old joke about how "he's taller when he sits on his wallet."

No chance. Sorry?

I think that's fair. I also think being a geek became much cooler when everyone started carrying super computers around in their pockets and realized that they needed to be nice to the only people who knew how to work them. Boom. Instant cachet.

 

I think the comic book movie renaissance is helping. 

Ooh, good point. Though I don't know which came first. 

It's smart to market to geeks and nerds, though, because we really love our things and will spend money on it. Even if we don't want to. I've made it pretty clear that I'm not a JJ Abrams fan, for example, but I'll go to those Star Wars movies and watch him likely destroy the things I love anyway. 

Ugh, I wish you hadn't brought up Abrams. I'm still upset about Trek. 

Have you read the Circle by Dave Eggers? I just started and its intriguing, but offputting. Its about an all powerful Internet company (like a combo of Apple/Google/Facebook) that creates very advanced tech such as SeeChange, a tiny inexpensive video camera that can be placed anywhere, see everything, and can be watched online in real time (and shared with whoever you want). So, you can watch: the waves at your favorite surf spot; your kid at school; or your elder parent at home. Cities can monitor crime. Activists can place cameras in places like Tiananmen Square + look for human rights violations. The cameras are so small no one will know if cameras are around or not. The goal is that everything that happens in the world will be seen. Creepy

I have read it -- and actually, I think Hayley has my copy on loan right now. Caveat: I'm a huge Eggers fan. But maybe because I am too deep into this topic area, I was a little underwhelmed by this particular book -- the implications were things that I have gamed out with privacy advocates in conversations for years. But my main concern with it was that I thought that the female lead was a little one note -- she almost seemed to be a parody of some of the most unflattering stereotypes of women of my particular generation. Given her lack of development, the "twist" ending was not much of a twist for me. I expected more, I guess. 

You know he works for Comcast now, right? The most evil company in the world controls our weather too.

I'm pretty sure I picked up that phrase from some little indie band that toured through my home town when I was in high school. AND THANKS TO THE MAGIC OF THE INTERNET, I CAN CONFIRM THAT. 

We have a 14-year-old, still perfectly good, but super-heavy TV, which if course resides in a great big TV chest-type piece of furniture. Thinking about redoing the family room and of course the centerpiece would have to be a new TV. So - what features do we look for? The room is not huge, about 19'x12', so a super-monster TV is not in the cards, but other than that - is a Smart TV essential? Is it worth spring for one of the curved-screen versions? I get overwhelmed just looking at the possibilities.

Don't get a curved screen. I mean, get a curved screen if you really want one, but I personally have never seen the point unless you're getting a television that's 60-inches or larger. 

As for smart TV or no, that depends a bit on what else you have in your home already. If you have a game console, streaming stick or TV box, it's probably not necessary. If you don't have a subscription to any streaming service, it's not necessary. Otherwise, it's kind of nice to have a built-in streaming service on your television. It's a fun perk.

It's also getting increasingly hard to find a television that isn't smart, so it may be a moot point.

Buying the right-sized TV is no science either, but people typically say viewing distance (in feet) times 4, aka, if you want to sit 12 feet from your TV, get a 48-inch screen. This varies for HD TVs -- I've heard multiply by 5 or by 6. You should also  adjust based on your ceiling heights. 

We have a SmartTV, but have not connected it to the Internet because I get antsy about having additional methods for my viewing behavior and personal data to be tracked -- potentially something to consider. 

I have a 1-year old Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T) that I don't need. What's the best way to sell it? It's in great condition, as I used an Otterbox Defender case for it. I've wiped it, etc. I've heard some websites are good. Some have told me to sell on Criagslist.

Depends. As with most things, all the options have their pros and cons. Just a few:

- Craigslist: Convenient to use, doesn't charge a listing fee. The downside is that you probably won't make quite as much money if it's just you.

- eBay: Also fairly easy, and will be upfront about how much you can probably expect for your phone. They'll also pay you something  if your phone doesn't sell.

- Gazelle: Really best for iPhones -- non-iPhone models tend to command a much lower price. 

Decide where the TV will be and where you will be sitting. Measure the distance between the two. Go to your TV store, along with your tape measure, and stand the same distance in front of various -sized TVs. Figure out which is best for you.

Wrote in a few weeks ago saying my bluetooth headphones were cutting out only when I walked across Freedom Plaza in downtown DC in the mornings, with the Marriott on my right and District Building on my left. Still happening. Not at night when I walk the other way. No problems walking down 13th Street from the metro. I hit the Plaza and they cut out. Some days are worse than others, too. Weird.

Hello again! I remember you. 

I actually tried this with my own bluetooth headset and didn't have any problems. But I'd still like to try and replicate your problem -- any more information on type of headphone, for example?

So I just purchased my first laptop in years, and noticed that you are given several options for purchasing Office with the new laptop. First, you can outright buy it for about $200, or buy it for a year at $70 a year. Why haven't I heard more about this? It seems like a decent deal for some people, especially if they're planning on using the new laptop for 3 years or less. (There are also monthly options, which could be even more enticing if you using Office sparingly.)

We did cover this when they first announced the subscription service -- hold on let me rummage through the archives -- here. 

It is a decent deal in some circumstances, though the costs will add up over time if you let them. I personally have some mixed feelings ab out the subscription vs. purchase model of software, but things are definitely moving toward subscriptions so I may have to get over it. 

See, this is your chance to modernize and streamline your room. You don't need the giant Grandma furniture for the TV, you don't need those racks of DVD's you never watch, you can create more floor space. And by the way, was it only a few years ago that homebuilders were charging thousands for "built-in TV shelves"? Now you couldn't fit the TV in the cavity even if you wanted to.

My parents actually still have a huge, composite-board clad television that's older than I am in their basement, which they use as a television stand for a small, newer television. It's kind of meta. I like it.

Headphones are LG's HBS-700, fully charged, connected to my iPad mini running iOS 8.13. The iPad is in an outside pocket of my cloth briefcase off my shoulder. No problems anywhere else. As I said, weird. Could it be due to lots of interference from other signals in the area, like the Marriott's WiFi and maybe satellite TV trucks that are always around?

Could be.... Maybe Marriott was secretly blocking you, too. 

(Just kidding, I'm not making that as a serious accusation.) 

I'd really love to know if anyone's been able to replicate that. It's weird to have a Bluetooth deadzone.

Some comedian did a bit about that years ago, something like: you know you're from the 'hood if you have a small TV that works on top of the big TV that doesn't work.

Ha! Well, my parents are from Bloomington, Minn., which is the most Pleasantville of  suburbs around and fits under no definition of "the 'hood" that ever existed ever.

But point taken. I think the big TV actually does still work, and it's also been in that position for so long that it essentially became furniture. 

 

Alright folks. We have to wrap a little early. But if you have lingering questions, send 'em over to next week's chat here.

Buh-bye! Have great weekends.

hurdy gurdy

In This Chat
Andrea Peterson
Hayley Tsukayama
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