What's Tech?

A weekly Technology, News and Tech News podcast featuring and
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Mark All
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When I started at The Verge in 2014, I needed an excuse to learn about technology. My background was in covering video games, television, and pop culture, and I lacked the basic cognitive functions to hold a phone above my head without dropping it on my face. So I launched a podcast called What’s Tech. For two years, the show was an opportunity to learn the fundamentals about the technology that supports everyday life. Free to ask silly, obvious, and embarrassing questions, I learned a ton. I hope you did, too. After all, my favorite takeaway from the podcast was that I wasn’t alone. We often take tech for granted, like a magical apparatus that does everything we need, not a massive collection of moving parts designed and programmed by women and men with their own dreams, ambitions, and motives. Technology is immensely confusing, but understanding how it functions and who creates it is a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit. I sincerely hope that through this show, tech became more accessible and less mysterious, without losing its fun and that special power to fascinate us. Recently, I took on more responsibilities with our Culture team. I’d love for you to check out our work. Right now, I want to give the section and its writers the time and support they deserve. But to focus on Culture, I need to let What’s Tech go on indefinite hiatus. I won’t go so far as to say the show’s done forever. We’ll leave the RSS feed open, and hopefully we’ll have something new to take the show’s place in the coming months. Which is to say, I’d encourage you to stay subscribed. Now for the final episode. For my guest, I invited my buddy Ross Miller, with whom I co-launched The Verge’s TLDR section. We talk about life on the internet. And also, breakfast. I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Snapchat Spectacles, the mysterious and incredibly hyped hardware from Snap, Inc., have arrived. Vending machines for the video camera sunglasses are springing up around the country, first in California and Oklahoma, and who knows where else next. Verge senior reporter Bryan Bishop joined me this week to talk about his experience hunting down Spectacles and whether we’re all going to feel like olds wearing them. Also, what’s the deal with this circular video format? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the early 2000s, the digital photography revolution made it possible for miniaturized camera hardware and image sensors to be packed into cell phones without adding a significant amount of weight. Then the iPhone was announced. As the smartphone war began, the camera became an important part of the ongoing spec race. Competitors tried to beat Apple in making an excellent camera (and app) that was easy to use — and it took until this year for that to start happening. Now, two-thirds of adults in the US own a smartphone. The average smartphone user takes at least 150 photos per month. Instagram has half a billion monthly users. Even if it’s just selfies or pictures of lunch — nothing has familiarized people with photography like smartphone cameras. It’s now a part of our everyday lives. I joined Chris on this week’s What’s Tech to talk about my first camera phones, why the newest smartphones have such equally excellent shooters, and where it all goes from here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Over the past couple years web security has become a staple of the nightly news. The stories usually hinge on government leaks, foreign hackers, or web encryption. There’s menacing subtext that practically everything put online is vulnerable to “cyber attacks.” Though one might wonder what steps are being taken to protect not just the government and giant corporations, but you, the individual. What keeps you safe when you stumble your way into a Wikipedia hole or click a strange link sent from a friend? To find out, I invited my colleague Russell Brandom to talk about web security, and particularly HTTPS. As Russell explains, while your information isn’t necessarily less vulnerable, websites themselves are becoming safer. This is a dense topic, but fortunately Russell brought a helpful metaphor. It involves pie. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Our most sacred and special task as human beings is to document our own existence with a single-minded dedication. That's why we have massive iCloud photo libraries, 15GB of video of that really cool Springsteen concert on our phones, Instagram accounts for ourselves, our pets, and our alter egos, and dusty yearbooks stacked up in our closets. The latest in this personal digital archive: personal GIFs. Apps like Boomerang, Motion Stills, Giphy, DSCO, and more help us make GIFs and other short, looping videos of life's most precious moments. And of course, of life's most 'grammable sammies. The Verge tech reporter and gadget blog queen Ashley Carman joined me (Kaitlyn Tiffany, your friendly Chris Plante stand-in) in the single-stall What's Tech recording booth this week to compare sweat mustaches and GIF-creation techniques. We had a nice conversation about art, technology, ourselves, and the utility of acronyms. If you tune in, you'll also learn a little something about the future of keepsakes! It's a good, emotional time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Here at The Verge, we love Halloween and everything about it. Horror movies, non-horror seasonal movies, seasonal beverages, seasonal bots, this Pumpkin Guy, horrifying makeup tutorials, poop-shaped candy — bring it on. In particular, we love to be scared. It gives us a sweet little adrenaline burst to get us across the daunting dark tundra of November to April. This Hallo-season, senior entertainment reporter Bryan Bishop has embarked on a journey to find the most immersive, creative, and high-tech scares in all of Los Angeles. In a new series called "The Future of Fear," he's taking us all where we're too East Coast or too chicken to go. These aren't your grandma's haunted houses (although Bryan and I will both stan for the original Haunted Mansion at Disney World, may it live forever). I love Halloween so much I, Kaitlyn Tiffany took over the seat usually warmed by your friendly neighborhood What's Tech host Chris Plante. You can't tell from the audio, but I wore a blazer to the recording because I take Halloween very seriously! Bryan told me about all the terrible things he's subjected himself to this fall, and it was delightful even while it shook me to my core. Basically, it's a haunted house of a podcast and don't listen to it before bed. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Samsung has officially recalled the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide, after more than 90 of the large smartphones in the US overheated due to defective batteries. Overheating is, in this case, an understatement, as some owners have claimed their smartphones outright exploded. Exploding lithium-ion batteries actually aren’t so uncommon. As my colleagues Angela Chen and Lauren Goode noted earlier this month, there are many ways for a lithium-ion battery to become dangerous, and they aren’t limited to any one smartphone or electronic device. “An exploding phone seems like a freak accident,” write Chen and Goode, “but the same chemical properties that make batteries work also make them likely to catch fire.” To learn more about the lithium-ion batteries, I invited The Verge’s science reporter Angela Chen to the show. We talk about how manufacturers are pushing the battery to its limit, and what alternatives we may see in the future. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I didn’t take many selfies until I downloaded Snapchat. But like so many people I’ve fallen in love with lenses, the optional tools that make my face look like a dog or an emoji or an advertisement for junk food. Now, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t mug into my front-facing camera. The magic of lenses is how they erase the perception of the selfie as an act of narcissism — an insipid criticism that comes from a certain clump of people who feel the need to bash people for showing a fleck of confidence. Why didn’t I take selfies? I was too embarrassed. Anyway! I digress! I’m clearly fascinated by the popularity and power of lenses, so I invited my friend and colleague Ashley Carman to the show. We talk about the potential of the lens, and the possible future of a would-be gimmick that has birthed a broader pop culture trend. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Late last month, news broke of the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Orbiting the closest star to our Solar System, there’s a lot to love about Proxima b since it shares a few key traits with our own home planet. But before we start making intergalactic vacation plans, let’s pump the space-brakes: half the planet is locked in darkness, it’s pelted by radiation from close proximity to its sun, and the rock is 25 trillion miles away. Our current best option for sending a probe there involves a laser-propelled space-sail, which would reduce travel time from tens of thousands of years to 20. Which is to say, while potentially astonishing, even the best case scenario seems like a long-shot for our lifetime. To explain Proxima Centauri b, I invited my friend and colleague Loren Grush onto the show. This is, I think, the first episode in which we don’t talk about the Nic Cage film Knowing, so just keep that in mind. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The first trailer for No Man’s Sky, published in December 2013, promised a universe with enough planets, creatures, and vegetation that it could not be fully explored by one player in a lifetime. The hype was immediate, and it only continued to build with each month between the game’s announcement and its release this summer. This, some fans speculate, could be a game that lasts forever. My buddy Austin Walker concisely dismantled that logic at Vice before the game’s release, but No Man’s Sky has nonetheless attracted a good deal of controversy. To explain the game, and the community’s reaction, I invited my colleague Andrew Webster to the show. Andrew wrote a great series on his time in the game that I encourage you to enjoy along with the podcast. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Imagine if grocery shopping was just another online subscription service, like Netflix or Spotify. You complete a survey, sharing your likes and dislikes, and the platform sends, week after week, precisely measured portions of proteins, veggies, fruits, oils, and spices required to make dinner and the necessary recipes to alchemize these ingredients into Food Network-level dinners. My friend and colleague Kaitlyn Tiffany lived this modern spin on the home cook life this past spring, after she volunteered to review the many "fresh box" food delivery programs currently available. Plated, PeachDish, Blue Apron, Purple Carrot, Hello Fresh: a neighbor has probably tried to convince you to adopt one of the platforms, claiming the over-packaged nourishment saves precious hours each week. But are the services all they cracked out to be? Or is the future life in our home pleasure prisons, never leaving, always waiting for deliveries? Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A new round of video game consoles has began last week with the release of Microsoft’s One S. The slim, white hardware is a minor upgrade to the original Xbox One, and the predecessor to next year’s flashier upgrade, codenamed Project Scorpio. Next month, Sony is expected to announce its own update for the PlayStation 4, codenamed Neo. If it feels a little early in a generation of consoles to be talking about dropping cash on the next great thing, you’re right. But these consoles don’t follow the traditional cycle of new video game hardware, which last around seven years. They’re more iterative. Microsoft’s hardware is built around backwards compatibility with Xbox One, and its expected that PlayStation Neo will play PlayStation 4 games. The new era of game consoles is closer to smartphones: a variety of annually updated hardware with a variety of features that shares same large, ongoing collection of apps. To talk about the ways these new game consoles are similar and different from the hardware of the past, I invited my friend and colleague Megan Farokhamnesh to the show. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listenon Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I had never heard of Nextdoor when I lived in New York City. Social media services catering to individual neighborhoods weren’t useful in an apartment building where most tenants lasted a year, and longtime residents kept to themselves. In my first year in Texas, however, I’ve regularly relied on Nextdoor, along with my neighborhood’s private Facebook group and the handful of sites that provide hyper-local support. I’m not the first to say local online forums are the bulletin boards and community papers of our times. They allow neighbors to promote garage sales, find babysitters, or request help to find a lost dog. They’re far from perfect, but in my experience they have helped lower the barrier between me and my community. To talk about online neighborhood groups, I invited my colleague Ben Popper to the show. Popper is our business editor and has covered Nextdoor a few times, but he’s also a member of his own share of local online communities. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, orsubscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
For 72 episodes, What’s Tech has invited guests to explain technology and its cultural periphery — from drones and fan fiction to ASMR and biohacking. We were bound to make a podcast about podcasts eventually. This was inevitable. For this momentous occasion, our guest is Alex Goldman, co-host of one of my favorite podcasts, Reply All. After you listen, visit Reply All’s publisher Gimlet Media, which is responsible for a number of the best examples of the podcasting form. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Pokémon Go had a week unlike any video game I’ve covered in my career. Here’s a collection of the posts we penned last week, ranging from players finding dead bodies to Craigslist entrepreneurs selling pre-played accounts. My friend and former boss Chris Grant wrote about the staggering demand for coverage at our sister-site Polygon. In "Some thoughts on Nintendo’s big week," Grant contextualized the game within Nintendo’s unusual year. And he noted how Pokémon Go inspired the most popular posts not simply on the video game outlet, but across Vox Media, from The Verge to Racked to Vox.com. But why? And how? And when will this moment pass, or has it already? I invited our Games Editor and Pokémon expert Andrew Webster onto the show to provide background on the phenomenon, and speculate as to what its future might look like. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As a teenager, my only interaction with the world of webcomics was Achewood. Launched in 2001 and published sporadically ever since, Achewood is like Seinfeld crossed with Adult Swim. It felt for me in the early 2000s like this lone, weird thing. A few years later, around when I got my first writing gig, I realized how much bigger webcomics were than the stories of Téodor and Cornelius. I inevitably came across Penny Arcade and the rush of video game-inspired webcomics its inspired. And after that, I found people on Twitter and Tumblr and other platforms, all of whom created beautiful, weird, powerful art. It took me awhile to get into webcomics, but the gradual epiphany is one of the internet’s great pleasure. You look at one star in the sky, and as your eyes adapt to the darkness, you discover this dot is part of a crowded constellation. This week, I invited my friend, colleague, and webcomic artist Dami Lee to talk about the format. Webcomics literally changed the direction of her life. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
"Is The Bachelor tech?" You might ask this question while listening to this week’s episode of What’s Tech, a podcast that provides introductory explainers into the many pockets of technology and the culture around them. I believe the answer is yes. The Bachelor series has aired for over 14 years and spun-off numerous programs, totaling over 35 seasons, but its most recent surge of critical significance stems from the rise of social media. Who watches The Bachelor and how they watch it have changed dramatically since the first episode has aired. Credit belongs to an expanding ecosystem of critics, fans, and former participants that meet any given Monday. To explain, I invited my colleague Kaitlyn Tiffany to the show. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
My entire body clenches when I hear the word doxxing. Each time I write something that, for whatever reason, upsets a corner of the internet, I wonder if my personal information — phone numbers, address, social security number, credit card information — will be made public, or doxxed. And if it is made public, then how will it be used? Even though our identities on the internet are more public than ever, we are still individually afforded a certain amount of privacy. Our passwords, our forum names, our Google habits: these are, for most of us, secret. And because they are secret, people on the internet can threaten their reveal as a form of harassment. That’s the sticky core of doxxing; the erasure of one’s sense of privacy, and with it, safety. This method of publishing personal information has become more mainstream, alongside the ubiquity of the internet. So, to spread awareness, I invited my colleague and security expert Russell Brandom to discuss the origins of doxxing, how it has evolved, and why people use doxxing today. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I was a teenager in the days of Napster and LimeWire, when illegal files flowed through the internet like free hamburgers through a freshman dormitory orientation session. I didn't understand the legality of file sharing, let alone the technical explanation of how it worked. Peer-to-peer file distribution has changed over the years. Though I feel more savvy to the legal issues, I am no less dumbfounded by how it all works. That’s why I invited my colleague Ashley Carman onto this week’s show. She provides a brief history of file sharing, then explains how torrenting works in the present. Is it legal? Who does it hurt? Why do people use it? We have answers to all that and more. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
For longer than I would like to admit, I thought Raspberry Pi was a dessert. I'm not proud of that. Fortunately, I eventually learned what Raspberry Pi actually is, and though it's not nearly as tasty, it's just as exciting: an affordable, customizable computer the size of a credit card. Raspberry Pi has changed how thousands of people tinker with and learn about computers. People have used the hardware to create Game Boy emulators and synthesizers, tiny cameras and jukeboxes. To learn more about Raspberry Pi and how the hardware is changing computer education, I invited my pal and colleague, The Verge video director Miriam Nielsen, to the show. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Whether or not you've used a video game emulator yourself — and if you have, it's okay, I'm not gonna snitch — it's impossible to deny their prevalence. Since the age of modern computing, people have figured out how to use code to mimic game consoles like NES and Genesis in order to play them on everything from laptops to smartwatches. Sometimes it's a near-perfect recreation of a childhood memory. Sometimes it's a virtual reality "remix" of a popular cartoon fighter (blatant self-promotion) or something indescribably trippy. In either case, it's probably something the game's developer and publisher are pretty mad about. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Graphics cards! So hot right now. Whether it's the slow realization that jumping on board with the 2016 VR revolution requires a tricked-out gaming rig you'd never previously have dreamed of stashing under your desk, or the blitz of hype surrounding Nvidia's latest 1000-series GPUs, there's more reason to get excited about PC gaming hardware than there has been in years. But what is a graphics card? Do you really need one, and which one do you need? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Share on Facebook Tweet Share Pin Drake is a former child actor, current pop star, and the secular god of memes — even if he denounces that last label. Born Aubrey Drake Graham, the Canadian celebrity has been inescapable, not just for fans of music, but enthusiasts of technology. That's because Drake is a meeting point of the two. To talk about Drake's give-take relationship with technology — specifically social media — I invited my friend and colleague Jamieson Cox onto this week's episode of What's Tech. Jamieson is one of my favorite music critics, and as an added bonus, shares the same hometown as Drake, and nearly the same birthday. None of this is relevant, but this is my post, gosh dang it, and I'll include what I want. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud or Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A couple weeks ago, my friend and colleague Bryan Bishop visited Las Vegas for a flashy conference called CinemaCon, where movie studios and theater owners discuss the future of the film industry — a future that isn't as predictable as it used to be. Many theater owners worry that in the age of streaming, the cineplex will become less relevant. The message from studios, however, was clear: theater owners have nothing to fear, because studios still believe big, communal screens are the true home of movies. Of course, that's not entirely true. Over the past decade, more and more movies have been released directly to VOD, or video-on-demand. VOD is a large umbrella of a format, covering everything from online streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon, to the On Demand section on your cable box. The format has grown dramatically, over the years, in terms of users, but also in terms of reach and power. Movies transition from theaters to home viewing formats faster than ever. And Sean Parker, known for his involvement in Napster and Facebook, is pitching a service called the Screening Room that would allow people with a $150 set-top box to stream movies that are currently in theaters for a $50 flat fee. So, James Cameron may have been sincere when took the stage at this event to allay concerns about threats to the relevancy of the traditional movie theater. But studios are not so quietly trying to glean their best options from a murky future. To provide us some context and prediction, I invited Bryan onto this week's episode of What's Tech. Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on SoundCloud, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories on the The Verge Dot Com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Podcast Details

Created by
Vox Media Podcast Network
Podcast Status
Hiatus/Finished
Started
Feb 12th, 2015
Latest Episode
Dec 6th, 2016
Release Period
Weekly
Episodes
88
Avg. Episode Length
24 minutes
Explicit
No
Order
Episodic
Language
English

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