This week on my radio show/podcast Download This Show we did something a bit different. Online Porn producer & director Michelle Flynn and Adult Performer Lucie Bee talk about the push to make ethical adult entertainment and how technology has been changed by erotic content and how porn is changing with new digital innovations like VR and more.
The joke is that Steve Wozniak is the "Other Steve" in the history of Apple. But while Steve Jobs may have gotten all the attention for co-founding one of the most transformative companies of our time, Woz has crafted his own path that is inspiring, surprising and occasionally just odd.
And his unvarnished thoughts on Steve Jobs are gold.
Shot by David May & Mark Tadic
Edited by Marc Fennell
And if you want to hear a full unedited version of that discussion you can hear it in this episode of Download This Show
Sony released their new VR headset today at Paris Games Week. I take it for a spin. Much embarrassment ensues.
Just how close have we come to the apocalypse? A lot closer than you might imagine. Just between the years between 1950 and 1980 alone the United States experienced a recorded 32 accidents involving nuclear weapons. That is according to journalist Eric Schlosser, who has documented the many times we've come close to Code Red in his book Command And Control.
There was one nuclear weapons accident in 1961 over North Carolina where a B-52 bomber started to break apart mid-air because there was a fuel imbalance on the plane, and as it was breaking apart the fuselage started to spin. The centrifugal forces on the plane as it was breaking apart pulled a lanyard in the cockpit. And that was the lanyard that a crew member would pull if they were above the Soviet Union and about to bomb.
There were two hydrogen bombs on the plane and hydrogen bombs are dumb. They're machines. When that lanyard got pulled the bombs didn't know they were over North Carolina not over Moscow. One of the bombs went through all of its arming steps, and when it hit the ground there was a firing signal sent. There was only one switch inside the bomb that prevented a full-scale detonation. That would have been a bummer because John F Kennedy had just become President and they literally would have had to evacuate Washington D.C.
Now this particular switch the following year was found to be defective in many of our nuclear weapons. They would have unloaded the weapons from the airplane and realised that the weapons were fully armed because the switch hadn't worked. If one of the defective switches had been in that bomb... it sounds so corny but it would have changed the course of this world.
Again and again, you find examples of hundreds, if not a thousand or more, accidents involving nuclear weapons that could have ended very badly.
The direction which military history has gone since the end of the Cold War has been to very targeted kinds of warfare, drone warfare - and nobody's suggesting that drones are perfect, they're certainly not - but there's a much more surgical approach to modern warfare and in that sense nuclear weapons don't seem to necessarily fit that trend. Do you think nuclear weapons still have a role to play in keeping the world safe? Does the idea of mutually assured destruction still apply?
I think it's more complex. The threat to kill all the civilians of your enemy country is effective. But at the same time it's a psychological threat. And if you get a madman as a leade.r or if you have a group like ISIS or Al Qaeda, who believe that dying on behalf of the cause sends you to heaven, then threatening to kill doesn't have that impact. So in the 21st century nuclear weapons have no purpose whatsoever.
This summer was the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima; that was a really crude, inefficient, rudimentary nuclear weapon, and in an instant it killed 80,000 people and knocked down two thirds of the buildings in a big city.
We built, in the Cold War, nuclear weapons a thousand times more powerful than that. The nuclear weapons that Russia, the United States, China, France and Great Britain have are vastly more powerful than that. So I think everyone has to realise that we either work towards reducing the number of these things and eliminating them, or they're going to be catastrophes that make 9/11 - I was in New York City on 9/11, and I saw the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center - that will seem trivial compared to what's possible with these weapons.
Can you ever see a future where we are disarmed, or is it just too complicated, and politically and practically difficult?
I think it's within our power, if not to solve it 100 per cent, then to greatly reduce the danger, and the first step is for people to be aware. These nuclear weapons are out of sight, out of mind, literally. They're in silos underground, they're in submarines under the surface; there are these machines waiting to kill you. It's as simple as that. There are still 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world. They're wired up, they're ready to go and if one of them goes off it's going to be a catastrophe beyond description.
Behind Star Wars BB8 bot - I met the team from Sphero, the makers of the new R2D2.
Graham Burke is the co-founder of Village Roadshow. According to the Business Review Weekly he's estimated to be worth $153 million dollars.
Burke started working in cinemas in country Victoria at the age of 14. He has gone on to be instrumental in backing some of the most iconic movies; Mad Max, The Matrix and The LEGO Movie among them. He runs Movie World, and launched 2DAYFM.
He, as Village Roadshow, is also one of Australia’s biggest political donors. Since 1998, they’ve given close to AU$4 million to both the ALP and the LNP as they campaign for new piracy legislation, and personally lobbied politicians.
It appears to have worked. On September 1st a new code of practice will come into effect around Australia, meaning that if you get caught multiple times torrenting, your contact details will be handed over to copyright holders like this guy.
Are you prepared to sue people for piracy?
Yes, it’s wrong. [They have] been warned, notices issued, that they have been doing the wrong thing. Yes we will sue people.
Are you concerned about the blowback? Because back In the 90s when the record industry started sending out invoices and lawsuits to single parents and grandmothers there was a storm of terrible publicity. Are you prepared for that?
It was really just a couple of instances of a bad news day, where they picked up a couple of instances of a single pregnant mother…
But all it’s going to take it a couple of those and it’s a really bad company story.
Not if its seen in the context that it is theft, and they have been doing the wrong thing, and they’ve been sent appropriate notices, and they’ve been dealt with accordingly. We’re certainly not going to be seeking out single pregnant mothers.
Do you have a list of people who are considered appropriate?
Well the criteria will be a person who is pirating movies. We won’t necessarily know who they are, but if they’re pirating movies on a fairly large scale they’re clearly doing the wrong thing. It’s no different to the highways of Australia where we are pretty damn safe because drunken driving and high speed driving is kept somewhat under control. If there were no laws, if there were no regulations, we wouldn’t be safe out there. And if piracy isn’t addressed, there won’t be a Casablanca, there won’t be a Red Dog, and there won’t be a Gallipoli. There won’t be the business model that allows them to be made.
In the past year there’s been a large take up of Australians getting systems like VPNs (virtual private networks), and it largely took off because people wanted to access Netflix in the United States. I have a concern that with the rise of site blocking and this new code that it’s only going to shift more and more people to that environment. If more Australians are going in to the dark web, how do you go about dealing with that?
That’s why we’re going to put a big emphasis on getting people to do the right thing. I think if people are appealed to in the right way, they’ll react appropriately.
Korea was the country that got the worst epidemic of piracy first. Why? Because they were the first country with high speed internet. It got so bad in Korea that the entire home entertainment industry shut down. Everybody lost their jobs, it closed. It got so bad that the communications industry and the government worked together to address it, and a large part of what they did was a big campaign of be a good downloader, do the right thing. And the Korean results in combating piracy have been very impressive.
As part of that there are things that the content industry are going to have to do as well, and one of the other complaints is the amount of time it takes for Australians to get particular kinds of content. You’re in the movie business so we’ll focus on that: you released The Lego Movie, which was made here, but Australians had to wait months and months so you could align the release date around school holidays. And on the back of that you said Village Roadshow wasn’t going to do that again, but we are still waiting for certain kinds of content.
It’s a film that would have no audience if it wasn’t released in school holidays; if you released it in February nobody would go. So you wait until Easter.
In that gap when it was opened in the States and you knew you had to hold off until school holidays to release it, you must have known it was being downloaded in that gap. What was going through your head at that point?
I think The Lego Movie, as it turned out, it was much more than a kids movie. It was just a damn good movie. In retrospect, if we did it again, we would have gone day and date [release]. We didn’t realise how big a movie it was.
You also put on a screening of that film in parliament and it formed quite a key part of how you were lobbying the government. I want to talk about how politics works for you. Because famously Village Roadshow has given somewhere in the vicinity of $4 million.
Over the last ten or fifteen years, but yes, we are contributors. I think companies have a responsibility to their shareholders, they have a responsibility to their staff to provide them with security. And we also have a responsibility to be good citizens Part of that is contributing to charities and political parties to ensure vigorous and good government.
What does it get you? From an outside standpoint I have no idea how the conversation goes between, ‘we’ll give X amount to a political party’… does that give you buy-in when you want to call George Brandis?
I don’t believe it does.
You don’t think giving money to political parties means that they pay attention when they say; Graham Burke from Village Roadshow says he wants to have coffee?
I’d hope I’d get a coffee as a fairly significant employer of people in Australia. But not much beyond that, if the case is not good and strong and proper.
At the very least a choc-top. You’ve been the most influential public person in the campaign against piracy. When you’re going to talk to Steven Conroy or George Brandis or Malcolm Turnbull, how do you pitch?
Piracy is theft and if it’s not addressed there’ll be a whole lot of Australian people out of work, both in terms of the production sector, the distribution sector and the cinema sector. It’s wrong and there are laws in 34 European companies to site-block [sites that enable piracy such as The Pirate Bay] and it’s been very effective. That’s how I pitched it.
If someone was sitting in front of you who had uploaded a torrent, what would you like to say to them?
I’d say; are you aware that what you’re doing is theft? Are you aware that ultimately the final extension of it is that there’ll be a lot of people who lose their jobs, and the richness of the community will be impacted? Because films and TV series won’t get made; there won’t be a business model to get them made.
Increasingly one of the other film companies, E1 Entertainment, has been releasing films directly on to digital platforms. They did it with The Mule, and Infini. Is that something that you would like to replicate in time?
No. For significant feature films there’s got to be some window so that the revenue can be earned in the theatres before it goes to the home entertainment window, at which point you’re tapping a lower cost audience.
If you weren’t also in the theatre business do you think you’d still feel that way?
Totally. The cinema experience, firstly, is a significant part of the revenue chain, but secondly it sets up the respect, the image of the film, for people to want to rent, buy and own it. Cinema puts the film on the stage.
Can you imagine a time where this beautiful palace to cinema doesn’t exist anymore? When films are just going straight to people’s houses and that people have elaborate home cinemas?
People will always want to go out. I have DVDs at home of movies, and I leave them lying there go and see them in the cinema.
When you own a cinema it’s a lot easier.
For me it was a pretty exciting experience when video first came out. My daughters would be looking at videos at home – because we had them when other people didn’t – and then on Sunday they’d say, Dad we’re going down to Doncaster to go to the movies. And the movie they were going to see was one that they’d looked at on Friday night on video. People will want to go out, full stop.
Just lastly before I leave you: are you more of a popcorn person or a choc top person?
Neither. I’m a water person.
How Dance Dance Revolution inspired a love of robots and raps.
He is one of the world’s most popular DJ’s. And he can sing with robots. Porter Robinson was just an 11 year old kid in rural North Carolina until he discovered the game Dance Dance Revolution. It sparked a deep personal love of all things electronic. Robinson began tinkering with electronic music & was signed to a record label before he finished school. At just 23 years old he plays to crowds of literally thousands at the biggest music festivals around the world. His last album Worlds shot to the #1 on the iTunes Dance Chart. But Porter Robinson is different to other DJ’s belting out bangers. Robinson has bucked the trend to create music that exists in a virtual world constructed with synthetically voiced raps, odes to Space Invaders and yes, he sings duets with Robots. If you’ve ever thought that dance music is mindless Porter Robinson is the man that will change the way you think.
Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, PayPal, E-Commerce, Wikileaks, Anonymous even LolCats would not exist without this man. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee created the web and irrevocably changed the course of humanity. He's been speaking in Australia and gave his one and only broadcast interview to Download This Show.
And if you'd like to know more on the topic of Net Neutrality, here's a piece I made for Hungry Beast in 2011
Everyone is guilty of it but is using your mobile phone really an addiction? Some people say it is and are pushing for people to stop 'phubbing' and return to the real world.
We're all guilty of it. You're sitting around talking to friends and you pull out your phone to check your emails, or reply to texts only to realise that you don't know what happened in the conversation.
Phubbing is a mashup of the words phone and snubbing and many online are using it to describe people using their phones and ignoring others around them.
But there's a growing movement of people aiming to put their phones down and break the phubbing trend.
"We've all sort of been in that situation where you're in a cafe or bar, someone whips out their phone and they start ignoring you or they start snubbing you," says Alex Haigh the campaign leader of the stop phubbing movement.
There's now more than 37,000 people who have joined the stop phubbing movement and Mr Haigh says many people have contacted him online as they try to kick their mobile phone use.
"We've had some people get in contact and they might be phubbing at a funeral for example, or a bride phubbing a groom," says Mr Haigh. "I think the smartphones come in... in that they help you to fuel this digital identity."
"It all ties in to this online person that you've created and whether or not that matches up with you you are as an actual person, it varies from person to person."
And while many people might call phubbing an addiction the truth is it is currently not listed as an official disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM).
Dr Ben Williams, a senior lecturer in psychological science at Swinburne University of Technology, says phone addiction could potentially fall in the category of behavioural addictions like problem gambling.
"It comes down to whether or not the behaviour is causing you distress or to neglect other obligations that you have," says Dr Williams. "I think the difference between a problem with say smoking and a problem with say mobile phones is you don't have to smoke but most of us have to make phone calls."
Have you ever imagined yourself looking like a film star or perhaps a president? Well a new piece of software aims to help you become your favourite celebrity by replacing your face with theirs - but does it work?
Imagine being able to broadcast yourself to the internet but with someone else’s face? Face Substitution is an application that claims to offer just that.
Want to be Nic Cage? Sure! Want to be a terrfying pseudo-Rihanna? Okay! Want to be Bieber for a day? No problem!
Face Substitution can track your favourit celebrities face on yours as you’re skyping away. But is it very convincing?
The app maps your facial features and lighting from your webcam and currently has has 17 different faces for you to “wear” in full Silence of the Lambs mode from The Queen to stranger, more abstract masks like “Picasso”.
It's an unusual idea but is Face Substitution something you would ever use?
Selfies. footstagrams. babygrams. drinkstargams. They are the lifeblood of the social web. But now you can exponentially enhance your narcissism with a third dimension.
Seene is an app that wants to bring the third dimenson to your phone. Quite simply it lets you take photos in 3d.
The technology itself has been around for a very long time but they’re using the motion senseors inside the phone to help you map a shape.
You select the subject and rotate around it. Then Seene maps it into a 3d shape. It doesn't always work and when it doesnt you just get the stuff of childhood nightmares.
But the cool part is that that you can use the images Seene creates on any platform - mobile or desktop.
Just last week Seene was even named the UK’s most innovative mobile company by the Smart UK project.
Of all of the things Minority Report promised at least one thing is finally coming true: the ability to interact with your computer with the flick of a wrist.
Well that is the promise of a small device called Leap Motion. If you’ve ever played with a Microsoft Kinnect, think of Leap Motion as small one of those but attached to your computer.
The Leap Motion controller tracks your hands in 3D space and converts your movements into actions and gestures on screen. The tiny LEDs and infrared cameras tracking your movement can generate around 300 frames a second of data - almost 12 times as much detail as what you see on TV.
Certain kinds of lights directly above your desk can tend to freak it out but clearly it’s struck a chord because computer manufacturers are now starting to build Leap Motion straight into laptops.
There's also a steadily growing app store - mostly of games where you can stroke radioactive trees or play serial killer. You can also use it to read The New York Times and potentially even completely do away with the mouse and computer handsfree.
Why re-invent the wheel when you can re-invent the ball. That seems to be the thinking behind Sphero.
At $170 Sphero is halfway between Wall-E and your favourite pet. You control Sphero with your phone and can let it roll in water, change colour, and even impersonate Evel Knievel.
It may seem stupid, it may indeed even be stupid, but credit where credit is due there is a lot of innovation that’s driving this ball of stupidity.
Inside the sealed white shell is a tiny robot that uses a gyroscope to balance on two wheels. The robot drives up the side of its own shell creating forward and upward movements. Think of it like a Segway stuck inside of a ball. The trick is that it runs on gravity.
wires, or battery compartments. Instead Sphero has its own built-in batteries that are charged by passing energy through the shell itself.
The charging station is basically a copper coil, which generates an alternating electromagnetic field and Spehro converts that invisible field into electricity.
Where it really gets fun, apart from torturing your cats and toddlers, are the augmented reality games. Sphero uses your phones camera to overlay a game environment, with say zombies, to give you a unique game play experience. It's fun but gameplay can be challenging. After all you are trying to control a ball that has a tendancy to run into objects.
Virtual reality devices have been promised for many years, but until recently those VR devices were expensive and cumbersome. Now there's a flood of portable head mounted devices on the market that aim to bring virtual reality to the masses. The Feed's Marc Fennell looks at the portable devices that are changing virtual reality.