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Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News
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Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News

Author: WIRED

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Inside the hottest personal tech stories of the week; mobile apps, gear, social networking, and entertainment.
20 Episodes
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Beauty product reviews on YouTube aren’t just about beauty products and internet capitalism. They’re a conduit for drama, loyalty politics, and “cancel” culture, as WIRED’s Emma Grey Ellis has learned throughout her reporting on some of YouTube’s biggest names. This week’s drama is centered around James Charles, a hugely popular 19-year-old beauty influencer and Tati Westbrook, an OG YouTube beauty guru and a mentor of James Charles. Coachella and hair vitamins were involved. Charles was cancelled (again). But as Ellis writes, “The real victims of cancel culture might be the rest of us, perpetually required to join the angry mob lest ye be taken for a collaborator.” We talk about this and more on this week’s Gadget Lab podcast. Show Notes: Read Emma’s story here. Read all about the WhatsApp vulnerability here. Read Casey Newton’s newsletter here on the White House’s call for supposedly politically biased social media content. Recommendations:Emma recommends the Canadian television series Schitt’s Creek, which is available on Netflix. Arielle recommends a Tamagotchi. Yes, that Tamagotchi. Lauren recommends Knock Down the House, also streaming on Netflix. Mike recommends this New York Times profile of Evan Dando, and has the audacity to recommend you listen to The Lemonheads. 
Developer conferences aren’t just a chance for tech companies to incentivize app makers and show off the latest tricks and tools in software. The events also present an opportunity for companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google to assure the public that they are on it when it comes to issues like privacy, openness, and also, privacy. And companies often use the giant keynote stage to show off futuristic demos involving augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and assistive technologies. How much of this is reality–not the virtual kind–and how much is simply lip service? The Gadget Lab team discusses on this week’s podcast. Recommendations: Arielle recommends checking out BTS, if you haven’t already. Lauren recommends Emily Dreyfuss’s compelling interview with Melinda Gates. Peter recommends this percussive therapy instrument, no really. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Peter Rubin is @provenself. Michael Calore is on vacation this week, but can be found at @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
The Making of Adam Savage

The Making of Adam Savage

2019-05-0300:52:28

You might know Adam Savage as the co-host of the television show MythBusters, as the editor of Tested.com, or as the host of countless web videos that show him building machines, sewing costumes for Comic-Con, and occasionally blowing something up in his San Francisco workshop. Now Savage is the host of a new television show, Savage Builds, coming to the Science and Discovery channels on June 12. Savage has also written a memoir about his life as a maker called Every Tool’s a Hammer. We bring Adam on the show to talk about his new book, his new show, why he hates homework, how the gig economy exposes the motives of late-stage capitalist entities, and so much more.Show notes: Find Adam Savage on book tour. See his new show starting June 12. Find Tested on YouTube and at Tested.com.Recommendations: Arielle recommends Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan. Mike recommends Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing. Lauren recommends Arielle’s story on the Helvetica Now typeface. Adam recommends The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Our guest Adam Savage is @donttrythis. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
What happens when your drop your phone and shatter the screen? Or when its battery starts to grow noticeably weaker? These common technological woes are things that you should be able to remedy yourself—just buy some parts, get some tools, and fix your device. But it’s not that simple. Gadget manufacturers have been increasingly restricting access to the parts, tools, and knowledge required for regular consumers to fix their broken tech. Instead, consumers have to turn to authorized repair technicians, and often pay a lot more, to get something fixed.Our guest this week, Nathan Proctor, is the national director of the Right to Repair Campaign for US PIRG. Proctor and his team advocate for state and federal legislation that secures consumer access to hardware repairs and software updates so they can handle these repairs themselves.Also this week, Peter Rubin tells us about what to expect from the new PlayStation console Sony plans to release next year, and we discuss the problems with early review units of the Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone.Show notes: Read Peter Rubin on the next PlayStation. Aarian Marshall outlines the problems with Lyft’s e-bikes. Nathan Proctor recently wrote about the Right to Repair movement in WIRED. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Our guests: Nathan Proctor is @nProctor and Peter Rubin is @provenself. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
Uber filed to go public this week. No big surprise there; everyone in the industry has been waiting months for the ride-hailing giant to hit the accelerator on its IPO. What did raise an eyebrow were the details the company divulged in its filing—from how it views the future of its business to what it considers its primary challenges in the marketplace.This week, we invite WIRED transportation reporter Aarian Marshall back onto the show to break down all of the revelations in Uber’s S1 filing. You can read her news story about the upcoming Uber IPO right here on WIRED.Also on this week’s pod, Mike, Lauren, and Arielle discuss the first photo of a black hole, the latest privacy concerns around Alexa devices, and some upcoming changes to Facebook’s News Feed. Show notes: Read Aarian on Uber. Read Lily Hay Newman on Alexa, Sophia Chen on the black hole pic, and Emily Dreyfuss and Issie Lapowsky on Facebook. Recommendations this week are Jumbo Privacy Assistant, 1bike1world, and the Criterion Channel. Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Our guest Aarian Marshall is @aarianmarshall. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
We’re confused about what exactly this hoped-for Targaryen Restoration is about, politically. And is Game of Thrones, like, good anymore? Laura Hudson and Spencer Ackerman preview the political and social themes fueling the forthcoming final season of Game of Thrones.
Reporting From Syria

Reporting From Syria

2019-04-0500:21:30

This week, we’re joined by a special guest: freelance war correspondent Kenneth R. Rosen. Ken is working on a series of stories for WIRED about the reconstruction efforts in Syria. The first of Ken’s stories, “The Body Pullers of Syria,” published earlier this week. We talk to Ken about how he does his job, the tools he uses to report the stories of the men and women rebuilding the war-torn cities, and the methods he uses to stay safe in the field.
Hormonal male contraception is not a new idea––in fact, researchers have been working on solutions for men the pill was invented for women. But early tests around male contraceptives were inconclusive, and as birth control pills exploded, interest in a male version of this waned. A new male contraceptive gel, one that reduces sperm count, could change that. It’s been in the works for more than a decade, WIRED’s Arielle Pardes reports this week, and it looks promising. Even if the gel eventually make its way to pharmacies, though, there may still be societal hurdles to overcome. And survey results are mixed, Arielle tells us on this week’s Gadget Lab podcast: Some men indicate they would be reluctant to use birth control, while others are for it. Also on this week’s pod, Mike, Lauren, and Arielle discuss all of the news announced at Apple’s services-focused event on Monday. You could say it was an unusual presentation, as far as Apple events go. But on the upside: Oprah was there. Show notes: You can read Arielle’s story about the clinical trials of the latest male contraceptive gel, called NES/T, here. Here’s everything that was announced during Monday’s Apple event. Lauren Goode and Peter Rubin also wrote a story about the real choice you make when you’re using Apple’s services. Recommendations: Arielle recommends the Day One journaling app. Lauren recommends Square’s Cash app for peer-to-peer payments. Mike recommends season 2 of the Broken Record podcast, particularly the episode with Questlove. Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
Game On at Google

Game On at Google

2019-03-2200:48:29

Google’s Project Stream, first unveiled last October, gave gamers a taste of what it would be like to stream heavy games directly from the cloud – from a Chrome browser, even. That effort has now evolved into something much, much more ambitious. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, Google formally announced Stadia. Stadia is Google’s bet on next-generation gaming: It exists entirely in the cloud, with a physical, WiFi-enabled controller that connects to whatever computer you’re playing on. WIRED’s Peter Rubin was at GDC this week for Google’s big reveal, and he joins the latest Gadget Lab episode to talk about how Stadia is supposed to work when it launches later this year. The Gadget Lab team also discuss how Google is taking aim at Microsoft’s and Amazon’s cloud gaming services, and tries to answer the most important question of all: Is streaming and capturing 4K games totally going to destroy our Google Drive subscriptions? Show notes: You can read Peter Rubin’s story on Stadia here. Lily Hay Newman’s story on Facebook’s latest security mess is here. Recommendations: Peter recommends Whole Foods 365 granola bars. Arielle recommends the latest Voyages issue of The New York Times Magazine. Lauren recommends reading WIRED’s stories this week about Apple’s hardware updates, specifically the iPad Mini review if you’re in the market for a tiny iPad. Mike recommends this recent New Yorker article about Shen Yun. 
“Should this exist?” is not typically a question that technologists ask themselves, Caterina Fake says. The Flickr cofounder-turned-investor says that most entrepreneurs and engineers will ask themselves, “Can this exist, could this exist, how can we gain the funding to make this exist? Those are the conversations we’ve been having for the past 15 to 20 years about technology.”But that narrative in tech is evolving, Fake tells WIRED on this week’s Gadget Lab podcast, from one of ideation, optimism, and changing the world, to a stark reality in which technology can do as much harm as good. The cracks are showing, and suddenly, Fake says, “People are asking, ‘Whoa, what have we done? Is this what we really wanted to build?’” That line of questioning was the genesis for her own podcast, “Should This Exist?”, a WaitWhat original series made in partnership with Quartz. Show notes: On this week’s show we also talked about the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash, Elizabeth Warren’s call to break up Big Tech, and Apple’s upcoming media-related event. Additional note: WIRED’s Gadget Lab team taped this podcast before news broke about a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, that was live-streamed on the internet. At the time of publication, at least 49 people were reported to have been killed. WIRED will continue to follow this story. Recommendations: Caterina recommends Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp. Arielle recommends the Death Clock extension for Chrome, which constantly reminds you of your mortality. Mike recommends Esther Perel’s podcast Where Should We Begin? Lauren recommends the new HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. 
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Comments (2)

Jeannie

the voices are too annoying to listen too. could not listen to these kids sounding like . . . kids. yuk!

Apr 29th
Reply

Jeannie

climate change? what a bunch of bs. this podcast is already boring me to death.

Apr 29th
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