DAVID POGUE – 9/4/14

The witty, irrepressible technology expert, David Pogue, addressed the Y’s Men at their initial Meeting of the 2014/2015 season.

David advised the Y’s Men that after thirteen years with the New York Times, he was lured into visiting the Sunny Vale California Yahoo headquarters with the Yahoo intention of offering him a new job with Yahoo.  Once there he was introduced to employees brimming with energy that convinced him that he would be given a free hand to do whatever he wanted to do with Yahoo financing behind him.

David found the offer irresistible.  He took the job and founded an information center called “Yahoo Tech” that offers consumer updates on tech related subjects.  These updates are published in ordinary and often humorous language that addresses information that consumers are interested in rather than giving the technical specifications commonly present in other technical focused articles, or reports.  To help him with this enterprise he hired ten carefully selected writers from places like the New York Times and Washington Post.

Yahoo Tech reports on such things as the likelihood that the soon to be released iPhone 6 is probably going to be bigger in size and that there is a good chance that there will be a release of an iWatch to join the Apple product line.  It also reported that mobile technology is the hot topic at this time.  People, especially young people, seldom talk on their mobile phones.  They text, tweet, or use the over one million applications available for the iPhone or for Android phones.  He gave examples of the varied subjects covered by these applications, or apps as they are commonly called, by showing and demonstrating an ocarina app that allowed the user to play music on their phone and showed a video of college students playing a rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” using the ocarina app.  Other examples included: a subway app that showed where the nearest subway is located, how to get there and the number of steps it would take to arrive there; a tweet app that shows you who is tweeting and what their tweets say; a facial recognition app that gives you the name of the person focused on as well as their contact information; and an app called Word Lens that instantly translates Spanish text into English or vice-versa and that is also available to use with French, German or Italian.  Other examples were such things as a Swine Flu app that allows the user to track the progress of a disease as well as apps accessing remote cameras or computers, or controlling thermostats remotely. 

Another trend pointed out by David is the growth of what he calls Web 2.0.  This is Web Site material that is controlled by the users such as Facebook, Craigslist and Wikipedia. 

And additionally, there is the surge in World 2.0, which involves consumers interacting with each other rather than going to brands or a store.  Examples of this include Air B&B sites where consumers rent houses or rooms from each other rather than going to hotels or motels; Task Rabbit, which allows people to bid on what they will charge to perform tasks that you need to have done; Uber and Uber X that allows people to hire professional or private autos that are near them rather than waiting for a taxicab, which would charge more for the service; and Parking Panda that allows you to park in someone’s driveway or garage for a modest fee.

David pointed out that many of these innovations were born during the recent recession when there was both a need to make some additional money as well as the need to spend less for services.  He also pointed out that insurance and liability issues remain unclear in many of these app catered services.

Not all tech innovations are meeting with success.  David identified wearable technology as either failed or is likely to fail.  Google glasses, while technically proficient have not met social needs.  They are too expensive ($1500) and have been banned from many public places such as theaters and court houses because of their recording capabilities and ability to transmit visual images.  Smart watches tend to be bulky and have proven awkward to use although Apple may improve the bulk problem.  One successful wearable technology is the activity band.  This allows the wearer to trace vital functions while both awake and asleep and even allow for tracking the vital functions of others wearing an activity band.

Further trends include Autonomous Age development with the creation and perfection of things like the self-driving car and the more dubious success of drone delivered goods.

On a broader front, David sees the decline of anything that works with a cord, or doesn’t provide instant information.  Things like recording devices such as voice mail, or television recording devices, or even email are doomed.  The new generation demands instant access.  Why email when you can text or tweet?  Movies and videos must be able to be streamed on demand to phones, tablets, or computers.  And all devices in the future must be wireless and mobile.

Questions and Answers

Q.  What happened to Privacy?

A.  It is going the way of the Dodo Bird.  We exchange data for services and younger people are very comfortable with that exchange.

Q.  Does your Job at Yahoo still allow you to do other things?

A.  Yes.  I am still writing books and have four new ones coming out shortly.  I still appear on Nova and do CBS morning shows.  Yahoo allows me great flexibility.

Q.  Are password managers like Dashlane still desirable in your estimation?

A.  Definitely.  They are the only way to provide good password protection without going mad.

Q.  What is the role of plagiarizing software for students?

A.  There is also anti-plagiarizing software.  It is a war between the students who want to plagiarize and the teachers who want to catch them at it.

Q Isn’t ultra-high definition television a scam?

A.  It is.  Content providers to televisions are not about to waste band width on providing more pixels to sets.  You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference even if they would do it.