[00:00:14] Speaker A: Welcome to Examining, a technology focused podcast that dives deep.
And welcome to another episode of the Examining podcast. I'm Eric Christensen, and I am joined by Chris Hans. How is it going this afternoon, Chris? It's going good.
[00:00:42] Speaker B: How's everything with you?
[00:00:43] Speaker A: It's terrific. It's cold, it's getting colder. Winter is approaching, but we have very little snow for this time of the year, which is OD.
[00:00:51] Speaker B: I hear it's going to be a brown Christmas.
[00:00:54] Speaker A: Brown Christmas. What does that mean exactly? It could be so many things, could be chocolate.
[00:01:01] Speaker B: I guess it's just in my interpretation is that we're not going to have snow on the ground.
[00:01:09] Speaker A: Devastating. I guess I'll have lots more time to put up those Christmas lights.
I guess we can get.
You alerted me to something, which is a good idea. So I will be taking a brief. Well, I mean, this is our December episode, which is coming.
Or is it our November. No, our December episode. It's coming slightly later because of timing.
So we'll be back in the new year.
It's possible I might be taking a very slight hiatus due to a personal event, but we'll be back. I can explain more at another time if that's the case. We'll either have a rewind or maybe you and other Chris will join in and have a discussion without me, which is cool. And so stay tuned. But this is going to be our holiday kind of AI wrap up episode. We have kind of a bunch of chunks today, so I'll give people a heads up. We're going to talk about AI, and we've done AI heavy episodes, but for good reason. And there's some, I guess it's getting old news, but we're going to cover especially what other people have talked about. Other podcasts have discussed this, some of the open AI drama. You're going to talk about some AI panel stuff.
We might not get to the other articles. I think we will have to go to our I have a holiday organization kind of tirade because I've been all in on organizing things at my house. And then we have some holiday tech stocking stuffers focusing on useful gifts that are not outrageously expensive. So no new laptops for family, smaller stuff. So that's what we're going to be talking about today. So let's maybe kick off. Chris, do you want to kick off to the AI panel discussion that you were part of?
[00:02:59] Speaker B: Yeah, for sure. So we at Mount Royal University, we had a panel discussion on the use of AI in research, and we first started just outlining what does research mean in terms of our context? And we had pretty varied panel, but research can mean a lot of things to different people, especially in academia. So there is that kind of peer reviewed research studies and so on. But it could also be like, from my perspective, I was representing a little bit of not only being in academia, but also in business, and just talking about the use of artificial intelligence to do some of the research work for industry purposes.
Maybe it's some sort of project that you're working on. We had one representative that was kind of giving the student perspective.
And all in all, I think, again, I look at it from a context standpoint. One of the things I mentioned is that whether it's in academia or in business, it's really looking at how resourceful you are with the resources that you have. And so there's going to be tools, there's going to be different access in terms of research databases or even in terms of various studies and so on. We talked about the use of AI as part of research and work and what type of tools are going to be helpful. And I kind of just brought up for myself AI in my work and in a lot of it, I'm just kind of doing experimentation just to see what is possible. But I would describe it, it's a bit like a Swiss army knife. It can be versatile, but it's not always the best tool for the job.
I also brought up some of the big wins with AI. I mean, there could be efficiency, but then I think for AI, some of the Achilles heel for it is really the lack of human.
So, you know, some people may think that it's a trend, but I think it's probably more than just a trend.
It's a tool and the real investment and understanding and its potential and limits that the various technology can go and present.
So we also talked about, from a collaboration and competition kind of paradigm standpoint, and whether we saw AI as a collaborator that augments human capabilities in research, or if it's a competitive force and might replace human roles in research.
From my perspective, I see AI as I would almost describe it, as like a team player. It's not really a solo act. It just amplifies our strengths and compensates for our weaknesses, or it has the potential to.
It can't really replicate human creativity or ethical judgment. So it's a tool, it's not a replacement.
We can go and get some of the research tasks and delegate maybe, I don't know, maybe some of the data grunt work to AI, maybe data analysis and other aspects, and that might help us, free us for the real thinking job aspects.
We also brought up the issue of the quality. And so how does the AI impact the quality or the rigor? And the analogy that I used, the AI in terms of research, it's almost like if you're cooking, it's like the seasoning and cooking. If you use it right, it can enhance, if you overuse it, it can spoil the dish. So I think it has the potential for AI as a tool. You can probably go and use it and it probably shines in terms of data analysis, but I think it'll have struggles in terms of some of that creative interpretation. So it's a bit of a mixed bag. We touched on the ethical implications, and so in terms of integrating AI, approaching the various issues in our last episode, we talked about some of this in terms of some of the ethical implications from environmental impact, even how the information, the intellectual property that was used to go without anybody's permission to actually develop the large language models, I don't know. Again, it's something to kind of, even for myself, I think for the other panelists, we haven't come to a definitive sort of opinion on this, and it might change as well. But if you think about it, every technology that we're using, a lot of it is cloud based. So in essence, many of the environmental considerations are there anyways. So I think some of the intellectual property aspects are probably more so. But again, I think in terms of this is probably what's going to define a lot of the work going forward is actually looking at ethics and AI as being not just a feature, but it should be a foundation without it, without having some of that discussion, we're going to be building on sand. And so it's a matter of handling AI ethically and not just asking if we can, but if we should.
There was one other topic that we were going to cover, but we didn't get to it just because of time constraints, but it was about accessibility and inclusivity.
And so I think overall, while we didn't touch on it, but I guess my thoughts are that the potential is vast, but so is the gap that it can create. And bridging this gap, it isn't really optional, it's essential. So we do have to think about inclusivity. It's not just about being fair, it's smart. And so these diverse inputs are going to lead to stronger outputs.
[00:09:54] Speaker A: That's what I would think you had mentioned in the past, algorithms, they have a bias, right? Because if you train it on something that's Western centric. It doesn't mean the Western centric stuff is wrong, but it's just that perspective, right? You're not going to get perspectives that are global south, especially if you ask it conceptual questions or political questions. So they've kind of turned some of that off, which is interesting.
It's kind of the solution to that, as you've alluded to, is kind of like more input is better because the system, we have more examples.
And so I can certainly see from an accessibility and diverse answers set, it could be a problem, though, from an accessibility standpoint. I don't know anything about how somebody I'm talking about like a visual accessibility issue or something like that, like on a computer screen, how OpenAI works with those tools. It seems to me though, that the potential for those tools to assist people, it already does. Voice.
You can talk to it with voice, which is not uncommon. But what things can it do to assist people who have.
I don't have. What if you have a physical issue where you can't type very well or something? I mean, what if you have severe carpal. Know, Microsoft Research, I know I'm rambling here, has historically been really good for accessibility.
Microsoft devices, peripherals, I'm talking to MyOS keyboards and we'll talk about that later. They're actually a leader in some of that ergonomic stuff. Everyone's probably seen that Microsoft ergonomic keyboard that's been around forever. They still sell it. The thing is a tank. It's really nice.
One of their mottos in their accessibility department is that everybody gets a disability eventually. Some people just get there faster. And that's a really interesting way to think about it, because when they think about these things, they're not designing them just for one audience, they're designing them for a lot of people. And so I think about like, yeah, what if you have an injury on the job and then you work from home or something and it helps you write and helps you clean up because maybe you can't type for that long. I mean, there's so many potential accessibility benefits.
Email summarization, create your own GPT to template something. I mean, to me there's a lot of benefits potentially from an accessibility standpoint or language barrier or anything like.
[00:12:28] Speaker B: And one of the panelists, especially with some of the recent events in the mean, he put in some of that just to see what OpenaI or any of these AI writers, what they would put together. And it was clear it was very biased in terms of the Western perspective. And so, although it actually was interesting because there was some other information in terms of the Indigenization here in Canada and some studies that he then kind of went down a rabbit hole. So he probably wouldn't have read that otherwise. But again, this is where we have to kind of be critical of what is being generated.
And then I also think even just from an economic standpoint, that's why, one of the reasons why I look at whether it's chat, GPT or Bing AI, the fact that it's available in 169 countries, you don't have to pay for it even just from that aspect. I mean, it was interesting because we've been allowing our students in our business communication course to actually use these tools. And one of the comments so far, because we're getting feedback from students, those are the main tools that I've been using in class from an AI writing standpoint. And it was just really more so because of the availability and accessibility because then nobody had to pay for them. But one student comment that I noticed is maybe trying out other tools and showcasing them. But again, this is where you kind.
[00:14:10] Speaker A: Of have to, well, there's lots, and there's specialized AI tools that use the same language model to help with like semantic Scholar for doing research. I mean, that could have its own bias.
But again, there's something that's interesting to me about all of the discussions about AI. They overwhelmingly focus on the information, I'm going to call it, I don't know if this is a term information delivery aspect, meaning that they're like, oh, well, what kind of answers is it giving me? How biased are the answers?
It's funny because I never use it for that personally. I never say, can you please bring me back, blah, blah, blah. I personally find that to be tedious. Google Search is so good at this point.
Let me giving answers. When you type in a question, you can't do that with a typical database query where you put a question mark and it'll answer it and then give you the knowledge graph. In my opinion, the Google stuff is way better at that. Today. My wife has a battery that's called LR 44. It's one of those little circular batteries she needs for a child's toy.
Well, yeah, there's some differences between that and the 357 battery, but they can be used interchangeably. But I wanted to know what the differences are. So I typed in 357 versus LR 44 battery differences question mark, and it gave me like an answer chat GPT. I did it later just to see and it was so slow and it gave me so much irrelevant information.
It's good if it brings back, here's a list of sources and like a one sentence summary and you can go read it for yourself. Sure, it's terrible in my opinion, unless you really have the prompt right at actually doing the research for you. To me that's kind of the party trick stuff of these large language model. But to me the interesting thing is like, hey, I actually did my own work. I read this stuff. Or maybe you got it to help you summarize an article by uploading a PDF and then you did your own reading and then you took your own notes and then you wrote a paragraph and you're you, can you help me edit this paragraph? Like the copilot branding that Microsoft is using is a way more accurate description of what it like when people put in like what is the bias when it gives me back these answers, like give me a summary of history on X.
I don't even think to use it for that because it's so awful.
[00:16:38] Speaker B: Well, and I guess maybe just to clarify on that, it's not that they were going in there to ask about the bias, it was just to go and see what happened just by putting in a question like what's happening in this conflict, like who are the parties involved or whatever, and just to see what it would generate.
[00:16:59] Speaker A: Right.
Well, and I mean, I totally see the bias and I guess to me it's like the bias argument is interesting and I agree with it, but it's no different to me than the bias on the Internet or the bias of given. I mean, go to put in a Google search for your new site of whatever choice and then do media bias and you'll usually get a hit from all sides and a hit from media bias. Fact check. And they tell you if the source leads to the right or to the left or something like that. So everything has a bias. And computers aren't any less biased. Like you said, you hit the nail on the head. And whatever old, it depends what it's been trained on, right? I mean, if you only train it on one perspective, that's the whole world according to that AI, until it sees everything, right? And even if you did give it everything, it's not like everything is weighted. Every perspective is weighted equally.
And so to me those are true, and people should use their mental faculties. But that's not like a new challenge for us. To me, the challenge is more like, how does it change?
Is it my work or is it the robots?
[00:18:11] Speaker B: Yeah, totally.
[00:18:13] Speaker A: To me that's the more like, holy mackerel, I don't know, is this really mine? Do I have to co author it with Chat GPT? I mean, that's a good question. I don't know.
[00:18:21] Speaker B: I can't remember if I told you last time, but for my students throughout the semester I was going and they had the opportunity to practice with the various AI writers for the business communication course through workshop activities that we have. And it was kind of interesting to me. We had a test where they are going through the similar exercises, but now they're in a timed environment and they have to go and analyze the scenario, use some of theory that we have and come up with a strategy for addressing that scenario. And nobody asked me except for my last section, they're like, oh, is it going to be just like normal where you provide a PDF? And it never really crossed my mind. I mean, we talked about it, but then I had to clarify that with people because we have multiple sections, what we do is we provide them a.
[00:19:21] Speaker A: Hard copy of the test and we.
[00:19:24] Speaker B: Collect that test afterwards. And so that threw off Eric. It was really fascinating because so he.
[00:19:31] Speaker A: Assumed that he could use AI as long as he included the PDF of the prompts. But you actually did an in class exam.
[00:19:37] Speaker B: Well, yeah. So like what, I guess throughout the semester what we would do is just copy and paste the whole scenario and throw it into something like chat GPT. And now, because I'm not providing the file, the source material, they would have to go and physically type in the information. And so a lot of them, they had to kind of restrategize like are we going to go and use AI or not?
Because they don't have that ability to just copy and paste. And so many of them, they opted not to do that because then they would have to type it in. And it was funny, I had some, I observed some of them were spending like 510 minutes just typing, typing the whole thing verbatim into the AI writer.
And at that time it was kind of going slow too. So now you're like typing. And that shouldn't be how the whole process should have been. I'm going to have to probably adjust for it next semester. But you shouldn't go and copy everything that's in there because there's a lot of red herring information. So they should have picked like high level sort of bullet points and then frame that with the prompt that they want. And it was open book. And again, they could use prompts. They had access to everything from their textbook to the Internet.
But, yeah, just because of that one shift where they would have had to type themselves, many of them reconsidered the use of AI.
[00:21:11] Speaker A: Yeah. Because then it's like, it makes sense. There's a calculus here, right? Like, is it more trouble to edit this AI than it is just for me to know the answer? Yeah, that's what I think. Yeah.
[00:21:28] Speaker B: And just use your brain. Right.
But, yeah, I don't know. Again, I'm going to have to probably tweak it a little bit for next semester and maybe outline it right from the get go. But the idea shouldn't be that you should need to copy and paste and upload, like a huge document or whatever. It wasn't even a huge document, it was just one page. But you shouldn't have to upload it into an AI writer, and you should just go and put together your summary of what you're trying to achieve and include it as part of that prompt.
[00:22:03] Speaker A: Again, you've said this, and I appreciate that, which is like, it's when to use it, right?
It's interesting. You talked about different perspectives, too.
So if I'm summarizing something, I'll go through and take my own notes, and then I might put that document into chat PPT and ask it to summarize it, usually around a certain thing that I'm looking at. Don't summarize everything.
And it's often quite good. Very often. It doesn't rarely come up with irrelevant stuff. If I've uploaded a properly formatted document, like a PDF, like a journal article or something, especially if it's open access, I'm like, summarize this for me. Or even better, if it's HTML and it usually sticks exactly to what I've told it to do. And it usually provides a good, though I wouldn't say better. It's a different focus, and I'm like, oh, interesting. I never thought about it like that. That's another way to phrase what that person said. I'll combine a little bit of this with a little bit of mine, and then that's good to go. I mean, that's one of my favorite things, the summarization, the condensed, turn this into bullet points. Our podcast notes some of that.
Because there is a joy of writing, right? There's a joy in writing and putting things together in your own style, but it's the editing. Or give me a different way to phrase this paragraph. Maybe you just change one sentence out of all the things that change, but it's like, oh, I never thought about phrasing it that way. You probably could have come to that conclusion by thumbing through a dictionary thesaurus. This is a different way to do it, and it's kind of, to me, it's the next step. I remember when I got my first Mac, I had one years and years ago, but then I kind of stepped away for a bit, and when I got a Mac and I had spotlight and I could just spotlight and bring up the dictionary app and thesaurus things, that was like a game changer for me, just because it was, like, right there. And so this is almost like an automated version of that, in a way, except for a lot of pros.
I don't know really where I'm going with this. It's just kind of an interesting. Because it's a different perspective. Right. Yeah.
[00:24:12] Speaker B: Well, and it's funny, again, just some insights from my class, because I had another meeting afterwards because we received some grant funding from the provost office just to integrate artificial intelligence into the business communication course. And one thing that we found, again, it's knowing the limitations of these tools. So within the class, we're showing them different frameworks and how you should approach different situations. So one thing that I found, and actually, my colleagues have found this as well, that teach that same course, we give them a specific framework for handling bad news or negative messages. And so for that, it's almost like a bit of an equation, because some of the things that could be fatal errors is going and mentioning the news, the bad, negative situation, more than once within the message. It's kind of like if I use the old adage, it's like going and pouring salt on a wound. Right? And so the best practice is to go and say that message once, rip off that Band Aid once, you usually should position it in the middle.
[00:25:30] Speaker A: Good news, bad news, good news.
[00:25:32] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly. So positive, negative, positive, and you kind of sandwich it in the middle. And I'll tell you, the large language models right now, like chat, GPT, Bing, they don't do a very good job of going and using that model, unless maybe if you go and specify that this is how you want to do.
[00:25:51] Speaker A: It, if you made your own GPT and know I'm going to have good news, bad news, good news, and organize it this way, I'm sure you could do it. But again, it takes quite a bit of work to make your own GPT. I know I did it for qualitative data coding to do exactly what I wanted to do. And it took me probably an hour and a half to make the GPT, because I have this data and I wanted to see if I could get it to add a qualitative code to it and then organize it into themes just as a test.
And I was able to get it to do it very well, but it took me a long time to make a custom GPT.
[00:26:32] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly. And keep in mind, this is probably the worst it's ever going to be. It's pretty darn good for where it's at right now, so I would imagine it'll get better. But again, right now there are limitations. It might not be the best tool.
There still needs to be some domain knowledge and understanding, some of that nuance.
Again, I think it's just different kind of approaches and skill set that you're going to develop.
So I allowed my students, they had the option, it wasn't forced upon them. You could either use your brain or you could use your brain plus augmented with one of these AI writers. But in that kind of scenario, if they, and by the way, I had a process where they had to go and reflect and explain to me how they used it, what was effective, ineffective, and tie it back to our course content, which many of the students, they actually find that whole process too much is kind of the general comment.
I can't imagine that we're asking somebody to go and reflect and explain how they use it, but my analogy was like, okay, well, let's say you're in a math test. One person is just using their brain, the other person is using their brain in a calculator. What you're explaining to me is, how did you use that calculator?
And I want to make sure that you can understand how the calculations took place.
[00:28:06] Speaker A: Yeah, I agree.
I think that's a very practical way to go about it. I wish that more of the discussion was like that versus the kind of polarizing discussion that's happening, but I suppose that happens every time a new technology is introduced.
[00:28:24] Speaker B: Totally makes me think of.
[00:28:26] Speaker A: Sorry.
[00:28:27] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm sure this same discussion happened when Excel came in for accounting or finance or what have you.
[00:28:34] Speaker A: Right. The history of Excel and what it did to the accounting profession is really interesting. And there was a podcast interview about it that I think I had recommended on this at one point, this podcast, I don't know which episode, but you can Google it and find it. And he talked to an accountant who said that they used to have paper spreadsheets. They write everything out, and it was ridiculous. And they had so many erasers that they went through and they made like one mistake. And it's just really fascinating to hear the difference.
It also reminds me too of the moral panic that happens when new technologies are introduced and people just kind of misunderstand how they work. So I remember when Apple had iTunes, I think it was even before, was it before the iTunes store launched? It might have been. And you could put CDs into the Mac and then put them into iTunes and put them on your iPod. Right. Thousand songs in your pocket. And I think one of the marketing terms that they had was like, was it like Rip play, enjoy or something?
[00:29:44] Speaker B: That sounds about right.
[00:29:49] Speaker A: I don't remember what the marketing was called, but it was something like that. And people could all mad because they assumed it was like rip off like steel, right. And they're like, no, it's like to rip you. So the language also makes a big.
[00:30:07] Speaker B: Difference is what I'm trying to say. Totally, because basically saying just rip the files so that you can put them as part of your collection, your music collection.
[00:30:18] Speaker A: I think about that sometimes.
On another related AI note, there was a bunch of drama at OpenAI.
What was the range of dates? It was mid November. So it was the 17th. They have OpenAI announces the leadership transition.
Is that the firing notice?
[00:30:44] Speaker B: Yeah, that was the firing notice. Then I think it was within days.
Just after that, Nadella hired both of them and created a research department at Microsoft Research for AI.
And then somehow they were returned back to OpenAI.
[00:31:05] Speaker A: Yeah. So I mean, I've been listening to this week in tech. I would strongly encourage people to go listen to that. It was also discussed on Windows Weekly, which are part of the this week in tech, or the Twitt Podcast Network, which I am a premium subscriber to. I do recommend it. It is very good club Twit. It's a good podcast network for tech where they do things. It's more of like a variety panel style talk show podcast. But they talked about this saga. So OpenAI, and we have a couple of articles. We have the notice of Sam Altman's temporary firing from the OpenAI board notice. And then there's also a blog post from the Verge which kind of summarizes his return.
I have now failed to put in that link, so I will grab it as I'm talking. But basically what happened is on the 15 November, there was a public post that went out, a notice that said that Sam Altman had been basically removed from OpenAI.
So the board of OpenAI had let him go.
Like you said, Microsoft then offered to hire Sam Altman along. I guess there was also a protest. A bunch of the people that work at OpenAI said that they would go if Sam goes, and then Microsoft said they'd hire him and as well as all the other then, so it looked like he was going to go to Microsoft. There was a bunch of people who said that they would leave Openai if he was fired. And then suddenly he returned to OpenAi as CEO.
Satya Nadella was interviewed and said that they'd want to see. I put the link in the notes for you, Chris. Sorry, I put the wrong one in. They'd also want to see some leadership, like board structure changes. I think Satya Nadella's line when he was being interviewed on some broadcast radio or broadcast television, was that surprises or bad? And then he wanted to see governance changes.
So I've been going back and forth about this and my take, based on what? I mean, not just my take, but the best argument from what I've been listening to is that OpenAI is a really weird company, right? Because it's like a not for profit, but it has a for profit arm.
And the reason that was created, and I think its creation was one of the reasons why Elon Musk then pulled out as an investor, because he didn't want it to have a for profit arm. But the reason was, is because it turns out it's like really expensive to run this AI stuff. So they needed to make money. Otherwise they'd run out. They'd be fundraising indefinitely. So Sam Altman did that because he had that VC kind of experience.
And so he was the fundraiser, basically, and he has all these wacky ideas, know, phones and Johnny Ive and all this weird stuff to raise money. But the board is largely, I think the majority of them at the time, before the change, were from the nonprofit side. AnD those people are like academics, so they're researchers, right? And some of them, the take, I've heard Leo LaPorte talked about this. This was his theory, and this week in tech, is that there's always been this rift between the not for profit side and the for profit side and the not for profit people. He thinks, and I think this is an interesting argument, really believe that they're going to get to AGI, which is artificial general intelligence. So right now we have AIs that are specific or artificial narrow intelligence. So, like, Siri is narrow, even though it claims not to be even chat, GPT is narrow. There's AIs that do specific things. And then artificial general intelligence is like HaL 9000 from 2001 Space Odyssey or her the movie, Scarlett Johansson's character, the AI, can do anything. It's like a person, it's general. And so they really felt the not for profit side that this is Leo LaPorte's argument that they were going to get to artificial general intelligence. But that opens up a door for a lot of problems. Can be abused, could be devastating, right? Skynet, the Terminator, whatever you want to see, whatever doomsday scenario. And so they have this guy who's the CEO, who's basically tied to the for profit arm, and they could not rein him in.
And so they just said, this is a suicide mission, probably, but this is our only chance to rein this guy in because we don't want this company to be absorbed by some big tech. These people are trying to be altruists, and they basically let him go. And then they got basically removed from the board or resigned. Later on, I think the head scientist, I forget his name, later tweeted that the way they handled it was kind of a mistake. But basically, there's this tension in this very odly structured company. And Jason Snell, who's on MacBreak Weekly and also does the Upgrade podcast, noted that a lot of people on the tech have been like, this is terrible. How can a board do this? And he's like, this is a not for profit. A board on a not for profit is not thinking about profits and shareholders. They are not thinking about that. That is not what they do. So they don't care, in a sense, if this is a bad business decision, right, and spooks investors, which it will, because that's not how the company is set up. It's like a public library doesn't work like that. A public library board, they're not thinking in terms of profits, right? So he's like, that's why it comes off as so strange, even. It is strange, the scenario, but it's really weird for the tech press because they cover for profit almost exclusively. They don't understand how a not for profit works. That didn't really occur to me personally. I never thought of it like that. But it makes sense.
[00:37:25] Speaker B: Yeah, but I think at the same time, Eric, I've worked in not for profit before, and I don't know whether it's for profit or not for profit. One thing that I can say, the board is there to go and offer its expertise from a governance standpoint. And I mean, I look at the original announcement, if you look at that one line, which concluded, and this was the board which concluded that he, Sam Eltman, was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities, the board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading openai. So those were their words. And from mean, who knows? Who knows about, like, I don't want to be speculating or gossiping or what have you, right. But some of the, if you think about it, the conference took place, the demo, the developer day, where they announced the ability to go and create your own GPTS and the GPT store and so on, like the App store equivalent. And the amount of demand, as you probably have noticed during that time, there was times where it went down. And in fact, from my understanding, right now, you cannot get a chat GPT plus subscription right now.
[00:38:59] Speaker A: No, I know people who are trying to sign up and they're on a waitlist. Yeah.
[00:39:02] Speaker B: So they're on a waitlist. And so I think some of, like, if I was a board member, whether I'm for profit or not for profit, some of the things that I read online in terms of the news coverage was that apparently he was already talking about chat GPT five, looking to raise money and so on and so forth.
[00:39:21] Speaker A: Kind of put in the cart before the horse.
[00:39:22] Speaker B: Yeah, well, and by going and making some of these announcements now, you've brought it to a standstill. You haven't allocated the resources effectively, again, to put a whole bunch of people on waitlist now. And it's gone kind of slow. Right. And so I don't mean just from an operational standpoint, I mean, there was other speculation, some news coverage where it has achieved what that Agi side of things that you're talking about, where it's been able to go and calculate and do math calculations and stuff.
[00:40:01] Speaker A: But even that's not, I mean, I guess my point was, and I agree with you, I think he has kind of put the cart before the horse. It seems like he's kind of rushed a lot of stuff, he's made promises, it's slowing down. Like you said, he hasn't taken a beat to make sure that it's going to work. Implementation, I think you told me this is everything, right? Like you can have all these ideas and you can say stuff, but if you don't implement it properly, it doesn't really matter. And so I think that's a valid concern. It's interesting to me, though, that I think that their extra concern, I think what adds to that is that these academics, the research side, the altruistic not for profit arm, the major part really of Openai, those people, those researchers are really concerned about the dangers of AI, which is why they joined it. Right. I think that the linkage with Microsoft really upset a lot of them. That made it worse. And so the fact that they have a CEO who's kind of on the for profit focus really spooks them. And so they kind of panicked, it seems like. I'm not saying that they weren't right in their assessment, but it seems like the way they handled it because those arguments make sense to me. But then the 15th was a Friday, wasn't it? I think this.
[00:41:20] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean.
[00:41:20] Speaker A: OR Was it a Wednesday?
Let's see. No, it's a Wednesday. It was a Wednesday, but they did it end of day. Yeah.
[00:41:28] Speaker B: And then the firing, like the official announcement was on the 17th, right?
[00:41:33] Speaker A: Correct.
[00:41:34] Speaker B: Which was the Friday.
Honestly, Eric, I don't know if that's, I've ever seen anything happen this fast ever.
[00:41:41] Speaker A: Exactly. So my, it's like the weirdest thing. And like you said in a big tech history for a, you know, I see both sides of it. Okay. So on one hand, here's this guy, he's kind of gone rogue. He's promising things. I think Sam Altman's a smart guy. He's done some really interesting work. He does have a vision. But he's a VC kind of fundraiser kind of a person. Right. So I mean, that's where he made money. Y combinator, that's his whole background. So of course he's going to be like that. They hired someone like that. That's what you should expect. That doesn't mean that he shouldn't be punished for not informing them if that's the case. But then the board fires him on a Friday at the end of the day, just before the market closes.
So that shaved off billions of dollars in Microsoft valuation. That was not good. And then over the weekend, and I think Monday morning came and it was like not good. And so you don't do that again. They may be right, but timing is everything. And they really botch the timing because whether they like it or not, they are being supported basically because of Microsoft Azure and their Azure credits. So it's like you just wiped off a bunch of valuation of the hand that feeds you stupid. I mean, there's a different way to handle this. If they had issues, they could have raised it with Microsoft. They could have done a bunch of stuff. Right. And it's like. So they did it really dumb. And to me, it's, know, a lot of people actually at OpenaI seem to really like him. And so they're like, no, we're gone if this is the case. And so the board didn't even have confidence or labor behind mean. It's not easy to hire these people, these AI researchers, there's only so many. And they have a lot of really top people at OpenaI. So they've done it in a way where it's almost like a suicide mission.
And then Microsoft is like, oh, we'll hire everybody now. To me, that was also their response was a bit of a bluff because, and this is something I have heard again from Leo Laporte on this week in Tech. Again, he's a hero of mine, a podcaster, he has some really great insights. And one of the things he said is that these academics at OpenAI are researchers. They don't want to work for Microsoft research to find out how to make AI spreadsheets. They don't care about that at all. He's like, they're like hardcore academics, right? So they may have said they'll take off and Microsoft may have said that they're going to hire him, but he's there. But that's not what they want to know. They don't want to be working on Office copilot. Like, that's not interesting to somebody who's an academic. And that's a fair point. So they have a bluff. The board has a bluff. Microsoft has a bluff. The people say they're going to leave to follow Sam Altman. They have a bluff. It's like the good, the bad and the ugly where they, in the movie where there's three of them and they all have a gun pointed at each other. It's just like, what's going to go on here? And now the board is gone and he has returned. And I'm like, so what happened to Microsoft Steel? Are they okay with this? Did he just accept and then turn down.
[00:44:49] Speaker B: I have so many mean, even like, I mean, he, he tweeted about this, that he just wants whatever is good for OpenaI. And I mean, a lot of their strategy, like you say, like their market value tanked quite a bit just because of this whole announcement. Although I saw memes, even I shared one with you, it almost seemed like Satya was playing like 40 chess.
It seemed like a brilliant sniper move. It's like, okay, you're taking out Sam Altman and that other gentleman there was Greg Brockman, I believe, and now hired them and you're taking all the open AI staff. So now you basically have made your 49% into like 100% effectively. And in fact, actually, their stock started going up with all that announcement. Right?
[00:45:45] Speaker A: It's bananas. It's really weird. Yeah.
[00:45:48] Speaker B: I don't know.
It is interesting what's been happening. I mean, even I saw this, I shared this one comedy video with you where there was Ronnie Chang and he's like, I can't believe these employees that are going and signing a petition that they're going to quit. He's like, I never did that for Trevor Noah. Just let him go and he did everything for me. And so again, to get hundreds, I think, what was it? Like, 700 people signed that petition at the end.
[00:46:20] Speaker A: It was ridiculous.
[00:46:21] Speaker B: Yeah.
[00:46:22] Speaker A: It's incredible, really.
[00:46:25] Speaker B: In fact, maybe, who knows? They're possibly stronger than ever and who knows what's going to happen?
[00:46:34] Speaker A: Well, if a lot of people are standing behind the CEO and they like him, it's hard to argue that he may have over promised, but that doesn't mean that he's a bad CEO. I mean, they could rein him in and not fire him too well.
[00:46:50] Speaker B: And again, like Eric, who knows what's actually mean. When I read some of the coverage, I looked at this one line, one thing again, from a governance standpoint, if you're thinking you're starting talking about chat, GPT five, and you're trying to go and hit up VCs and raise money and so on, well, you can't do that unless you have board approval, whether it's for profit or not for profit. You can't start doing, having those kind of conversations until you get the green light from the board.
I wouldn't be surprised if that's what was happening again. Who knows? I mean, they'll watch probably like ten years from now, there'll be like a movie on this.
[00:47:31] Speaker A: It would be a really boring movie.
Oh, man. Yeah. So I don't, I don't know what to say. It's bananas. I think.
Mean, I've heard from multiple people that it doesn't really matter what way you look at it. Microsoft is the. Yeah, yeah. For.
[00:48:00] Speaker B: Yeah, I think that's enough for the drama. We can continue pushing forward then, and.
[00:48:06] Speaker A: Then we have some. Do you want to just, I mean, we have some other articles, but should we just move on to our organization and our tech stuff?
Sure, yeah, I think that's probably best. I have one here on Firefox, but it's from February, so it's old news already. I think that's better for a different day. All right, so I had an agenda item that sounds like I have an agenda. I guess in a way, I do. We run a podcast, right? So I can have all sorts of agendas, but really what I wanted to talk about is kind of holiday organization.
We're just organization in general. So we rebranded this podcast to kind of do deep dives. We've been doing these deep dives on technology, but you and I are more interested in technology and how it is useful day to day. We're not like every news article kind of a thing, right. We go in and talk about it, and we always kind of bring it back to productivity. That's kind of our stick. So outside of technology moving away, productivity and organization, you and I have talked about the productivity books when we were helping out educators. We've talked a lot about Cal Newport.
And so I've actually, a couple of times this year, fairly recently, I've kind of gone on these big. I just had this urge to organize things. I don't know if you've had that where you're. I mean, my house is always clean. It's always orderly. But sometimes after a while, you're like, I need to disassemble my system and put it back together better.
[00:49:37] Speaker B: Absolutely.
[00:49:38] Speaker A: So I do this usually when it starts to eat colder.
It's a real workout. So I do not have to work, do strength training because I'm squatting. I'm doing cable management.
My glutes are on fire now. They really hurt because I've just been, like, in prone positions doing all sorts of cleaning and cable management. So I wanted to talk about what I did. So essentially, earlier in the year, I tackled most of the kitchen and the living room. So we have some new furniture and new stuff, gaming controllers, video games. I have tons of video games and music and books. So magazines. We have a few hard copy magazine subscriptions. So I'm just organizing all that, the kitchen stuff, batteries, where we put. The big thing for me when I'm organizing, really, the takeaway is that everything should be together. Like, things that belong together should stay together. And so you have a consistent place. It's part of my overall theme, which is consolidating your life. So here's some examples of what I did. I have a bunch of cables. As tech people accumulate cables, I like to keep cables from getting tangled with each other, but I also like to label them because if I go to resell something, I like to include the original cable, if possible. So one of the tips that I have, we have tips for stocking stuffers, useful tech, or useful holiday stocking stuffers later. But I'll give one of them away. Now, which is these Velcro brand cable and loop ties. Now, there's other brands. You said you use a different brand, like an off brand.
[00:51:23] Speaker B: Well, now that I think about it, I believe I have, like, three M ties, but, like, the ones which are good showed me, which are basically, that's Velcro ones as well, right?
[00:51:34] Speaker A: I believe three M. Three M? Velcro.
[00:51:36] Speaker B: I think three M owns Velcro. They're the ones who created it, I believe. But I guess we could google it. But in any event, the ones that you showed me, the official Velcro ones, they're way wider than the ones that I have.
[00:51:52] Speaker A: Velcro is not owned by three M. Oh, it isn't? No. Velcro is different. Velcro is trade name Velcro Companies, formerly Velcro SA, whatever that is, privately held company, Hook and Loop fasteners and other products. They only have 2500 employees. I think it's Swiss. Electrical engineer George Demestral started the company.
I believe it's European, I think. Yeah, Swiss. And so they're their own thing.
I've used anchor. We have some tips that we're going to include. Anchor. I've used lots of Velcro ties, and I'm sure there's other brands that are just as good. I'm sure three M is actually really good as well. Velcro invented Velcro, so maybe they have some special sauce. I have noted that these Velcro ties, I'll put them on the screen. Even though our viewers are audio only, they're very thick. They come with a loop, so you kind of loop it together on one end of a cable, and so that it's always anchored. And then you kind of fold the cable in half, make like a loop with it, and then you tie the whole thing together. So I pinch them, I don't make a circle out of them.
And that way you can hang them up on hooks, do all sorts of stuff. So these cable ties are thicker, like width, not thicker in terms of thickness, but the width is bigger, and you can actually combine multiple of them together. I've used them to hold up like a little switch I have on my banister where I have lights coming down, like Christmas lights. I have hoses, things in my shop where I've had twelve gauge wire extension cords, which are really tough to fold. They have never expanded.
They hold it together amazingly well. So, I mean, I'm sure there's other ones that are just as good. I just continue to buy these because they work for me, Canadian. They're about 15, $16 for a loop of 25. They come in a loop and you just tear them off, which I love because you don't have to have the package. I hate packaging and I'll get to this later.
And so I've been using these and what I did is that I tie all my cables up. I have a box that I put them in. The cables are grouped together.
This is a tip. When you're organizing cables, don't just organize cables, label them and put them all loose. All the USB cables are in a mini freezer bag. All the apple related cables are in a different freezer bag. All of the miscellaneous weird cables are in one. I have audio related ones in another. So they're in a box in multiple bags. So it's like I need USB, open the box, go to the bag and all the USBs. So A to B, A to C to C, A to A, you name it. Right? So I have them all together and I also label them. Now I don't use a label gun because I find label maker guns. Maybe somebody out there knows of a label gun that works well. They always fall off for me and they don't really tie the way I like. So what I do is I get three M. I believe it's three M label tape. It's basically paper tape. And I just fold it around like a little wing and then I just write on it and it's just faster than having to print out. I don't find label makers.
[00:55:08] Speaker B: That's a good point.
[00:55:09] Speaker A: It's just not worth it. I think label makers like if you have a hardcore one or if you have a business or something, it makes sense. But for me I'm too lazy. So I tie the cables, I label them. Took me 2 hours. It was totally worth it. And I can now find all of the cables I have. So that was my first tirade. Now I don't want to go on and on. You've done cable management, so you know what I'm talking about.
[00:55:32] Speaker B: No, totally. I mean, it's funny even how you mentioned the whole thing about doing squats and engaging.
It's tough. I don't know.
You're in a squat position underneath your desk and doing all sorts of stuff. I don't know how that happens. But yeah, your legs are burning afterwards for sure.
[00:55:58] Speaker A: You do a better job of the cable management under the desk. In fairness, I have not tackled that where it's seamless. I am in a basement. They kind of hang down there's not that many, but they're all kind of hanging around. Yeah.
[00:56:10] Speaker B: Out of curiosity, like, your box. One thing that I've done is I've gotten something that I picked up a while ago, but I got clear see through plastic boxes.
So similar. And actually, the ones that I got, they're smaller than the one that you just put up on the screen. I got ones that were made for shoes.
They were like $2 each. And so, you know, even another thing that I've done beyond, like, you know how you said using, like, ziploc bags and so on. So I have a box for my apple stuff. So everything apple related is in that one clear box. And I can see it if there's some other kind know things even like, if I showed you some of the stuff, like, let's say pens, highlighters. So I have all that in one clear box, and then I put them all in a Ziploc bag so that.
[00:57:08] Speaker A: They'Re all grouped together and they don't dry out. Yeah, I mean, I have done a little bit of that.
That's a good syStem. I don't have enough cables. Like, they all fit into roughly a shoe slightly bigger than a shoebox sized, clear sterilite plastic container. So, like, everything cable I have is in there. I've gotten rid of a lot of cables over the years. I would put them into separate boxes if I had enough. I would do what you did. I don't have enough of them. And I do have a blue plastic bin, a rubbermaid, but not like more of a squat one, but bigger than that. Not like those huge ones, like a half size of the biggest one that has a bunch of miscellaneous office stuff, mementos. And I'm not really sure how to organize it or if I want to keep it yet. So for now, it's not perfect, but it's in a box, and it's not out. That being said, I do have. And I could maybe wheel it around. I have a IKEA cart, like a blue metal cart. And I have, like, at the bottom, I have a bunch of electronics. I have some keyboards, a bunch of stuff like that.
My office supplies are in, like, a desk organizer. I have all unused, ready to go notebooks, solid state storage, cue cards. A bunch of stuff is kind of on this cart. I have some little hand tools for working on electronics, like a mini screwdriver set, multi tool batteries, highlighters, my sketch materials, and stuff like that. So I kind of keep it in a cart because when I do a project, I like to wheel it around and it doesn't leave the basement. Now, another thing for labeling, I do label the cables. Another thing that I will say is critical for me, especially when you're working under a desk. And like I say, I don't have perfect cable management under my desk.
I could do a bit better than I'm doing now, but some of them hang down. And partly that's because this is a motorized standing desk. It is really tough unless you mount the power bar onto the desk somehow, which I could do, and have it underneath and have one thing plugged into the. That's a lot of effort. So for now, the cables kind of loose and they hang. I could do better, but for now it's good enough.
And also cables underneath Sometimes can fall out when they're on one of those bricks, like the apple bricks, they will fall out if they're working against gravity. So it's tricky to do. So I don't have the best cable management here, but I'm in a basement. There's no window behind my desk. It's not open. It's against the wall, so it doesn't matter. But the brick at the end of the cable. So the apple ones are self explanatory. Everything apple is obvious. But those big bricks at the end, what are they for? And you have ten of them plugged in somewhere. And what do they belong to? So do I label them with the label paper? I do not. And the reason is because they get hot and then these peel off, so the glue melts on those paper tape labels. So what I got is a tip from one of my favorite other podcasters, Andy Anatko, who's a Mac enthusiast, is that you get one of these pentel correction liquid, basically highlighter or whiteout, but it's a whiteout pen. Okay. And so it's an enameled pen. Prints with enamel plastic. And so what I do is that I label the bricks with this on the black. I just write on it. Xbox, Nintendo Switch, you don't have a lot of room. It's really rough to write on those things. So I usually keep it simple. And then, so the bricks themselves, I write right on them. And people might be horrified, but this stuff actually can scrape off pretty easy if you wanted to remove it. So that's my other labeling. I put labels and ties for the cables, but on the bricks themselves, so I don't have to take it all apart to trace it back. I write on them with this. And so that's the cable labeling. Yeah.
[01:01:11] Speaker B: I'll tell you on my mean, I don't have a desk that moves up and down, but it is. I've put it to the highest height wise. And then unfortunately, Ikea doesn't have this thing anymore. But I bought this.
It was made out of steel or metal or some type of metal. It was basically a tray that you could go and have where you could put it underneath. You could put it underneath, and unfortunately, I couldn't because I have a glass desktop. So what I did was I took that. If it was wooden, it would have been fine. I could have just screwed it right into the wood, which I might do in the future if I ever decide to get rid of this desk. But I took industrial strength Velcro, and Velcro, very smart. And then that wasn't enough, though, Eric, like, how you say, gravity is working against you. So in addition to that, what I did was I took those three M ties, and I took each one of the corners and basically strapped it to the top as well. And so I did that. And then my surge protector that I have so within it, and maybe you can take a look. I have one that's like a monster one. And so for that monster one, it actually right on the various outlets, you can put in various devices. So if it's a monitor, it labels it as a monitor and so on. And so that's how I have them kind of grouped together. And then all of the cables, I basically have tied it right into that tray. And then along the way, if it's leading up to my monitors, I've strapped them all together so they're all contained.
The only one that I have somewhat loose right now is just my podcasting one, because in case the microphone and stuff moves around. So I have a little bit of slack because I just don't want to have any issues that way. But, yeah, that was my solution. But, yeah, it's unfortunate because that metal tray is probably one of the best things that you could have just to conceal everything and put it all in place.
[01:03:28] Speaker A: So mine does have a wood top, and underneath it goes across the whole desk with things that it's tied to is actually a big net with straps. So that works pretty well. It's never come off.
I could probably put things through the monitor hole and tie it together a bit better. But again, because it goes up and down, I have to have some of those cables slack. There's no way, because otherwise it'll pull the whole thing apart. And also, I find that I have to disassemble it sometimes. So, like I have to take my Mac charger somewhere. I have to take it out of the system, so I don't want to Strap it in. And so it's never perfect unless if you have a sit down desk, I could do a much better job of it. And Jen has this. My wife has a sit down desk version of this. This is the IKEA Idassen motorized desk, which is all European and Canadian made. Amazingly European motor and everything. It's crazy steel from the Czech Republic. It's kind of a bananas setup. When I was looking at it, what was my other one that I was going to say? Yeah, everything related should go together. Oh, command hooks. I'm really good with a stud finder. I know what to do. I just put up new blinds in one of the bedrooms. So, yeah, I'm used to screwing, drilling holes into wood, and I'm relatively handy and I have lots of tools, but I try to avoid it if I can.
So hanging things up. People have heard of these three M command hooks. They're postit ultram postit notes. And because they're vertical on the wall, they don't pull off so easy. You have to be careful. You can take the tape off if you're not careful or take the paint off the wall. But in cabinets, this is wasted space. So I have some cabinets in the kitchen. So not all my cables are in my box. Some of them are in the kitchen, like the cables to charge the motion sensor lights, an anchor USB port. I have a charger. I put all the chargers I used to have in my bedroom and put them in the kitchen, just so I discourage myself from taking devices to bed. And so I have them all here. And so what I did is I have this spare cupboard where we just put random stuff. It's very organized, nice. And I have extra keys to things hanging up in there. And so I hung the cables. So hanging is a good way to make use of space without having to put things into a box, especially if you're going to grab them a lot. So I use tons of those hooks. They are kind of expensive, but they're just fantastic. And I use three M hooks everywhere. I hang my backpack up with it. The big thick ones. I have metal ones. I have ones for broom handles. So I have them everywhere. And I've never really had them break or come off, so pretty good. I went through all the receipts and manuals. Here's another thing. I did manuals for things I don't even own anymore, I had. So I went through all the hundreds of manuals, and I just recycled the ones I don't own. My manuals are organized in an accordion folder. So are all my receipts, financial information, health receipts, anything you need to claim. Accordion folder for manuals, accordion folder for all that stuff. Accordion folders are key for me. Sections for three sections per year for the receipts and stuff, depending on category. And then the manuals are divided into, like, electronics, kitchen tools, miscellaneous, all sorts of stuff like that. So those were all organized. So all the paper we accumulate is the point I'm getting to. I shredded a ton of stuff, old papers. Shredded it.
Another tip that I have for people is just, this is kind of repetitive, but it should be restated, which is consolidating all aspects of your life when possible. And just like getting rid of the sunk cost fallacy. So what do I mean about that? I'm terrible for having multiple notebooks going at the same time or having multiple note apps going at the same time. When I talked about the Zettel cast a note method, I was struggling with that.
So if you use multiple things, that's fine, but you have to have a way to put it back together. And so, shredding stuff. Yeah, work, personal notes, bunch of ideas, all goes in my notebook. I have a journal, that's paper, and I use an app. Regardless if I write it down or type it out, it all goes into that app. I may not keep the journals later, they may get digitized and shredded. There's just too much paper accumulating. I never go back and read this stuff. And so consolidating the things you have, consolidating the types of apps that you use, I've gone through and deleted a bunch of accounts to apps I don't use anymore. And just working with simple stuff and making it work for me. One of the problems with productivity gurus is that they tend to be tool collecTors. They always have a new tool that they want to talk about a new app, and it's like, well, just use what works for you and make it work the way you need it to. And so I've deleted a bunch of apps. I've digitized papers, all the stuff. So I shredded probably like, it feels like 100 pounds for the paper. It was unbelievable.
And then using stuff. So once you've organized it all and you can access it, then you can use it. And if it's still not being used, once you've organized it and made access better, because sometimes we don't get to what we want just because it's buried or forgot about. If it's still not getting used, then it gets turfed. Then for sure you don't need it. I don't have the time to do a packing party where I pack up my whole house and only keep the things that I unboxed. The minimalists prescribe that. I think that's too much for me. I can't handle that though. It is a good idea.
And the last thing is that when do you organize? So I typically kind of do a rough organization once a week. That's nothing like what I've described here. This is just tidying up, keeping on top of know things that I may want to donate. I just kind of keep a running catch all bin that I'll donate to the Salvation army or something because I don't like to throw things out if somebody else can use it. But I do a big organization like what I described twice a year, and it's extremely disruptive, which is why I only do it twice a year.
[01:09:15] Speaker B: So that's what I did the last.
[01:09:16] Speaker A: I did this yesterday. And so everything is organized.
I think there was one thing I was going to mention that I did that I didn't.
Oh, I took apart. I have a record player downstairs, like an LP. I have an amplifier for it. And I actually did all the rewiring to the amps, organized all the cables, and I had this old really high. Remember when Apple made good cables, like high quality cables that didn't break. I have an old Apple auxiliary audio cable, so like the three colors. So you could do video as well. But I just use the audio and it goes out to an audio Jack. I plug that into the amplifier and now I have my iPod docked in this old dock that I found. And I can actually play that through the record player with all my music. Nice. Because that iPod has a very high quality DAC. So it's very good sound quality at a high bit rate, better than Spotify. And so now all the stuff I want to use is out. It's all organized.
That's what I did. So there's some organizational tips.
I know that's a bit of a tirade, but I felt compelled to tell everybody, should we do our holiday stocking stuffers? Are you still okay for. Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, holiday stocking stuffers. I did mention the Velcro brand ties already. Did you want to do one?
We have a few. We can kind of tag team whatever.
[01:10:47] Speaker B: We have a few.
One. I was kind of like thinking about what is something that I use on a day to day basis and we've talked about this in the past, but one thing that I don't think I could do without is my Logitech MX vertical mouse. And so, especially, I'm spending a lot of time on a computer.
In fact, I take my mouse with me. I put it in my backpack, and one of my students commented, I don't know how they never noticed before, but I usually pull out my laptop, and then I have my mouse there as well. And I just find it's not a huge amount of weight, but it certainly saves a lot of tension on my wrist. And the reason why this happened is, at one point, I felt like I was getting, like, carpal tunnel just from spending so much time.
[01:11:41] Speaker A: Did you get it down in the wrist or in the fingers?
[01:11:44] Speaker B: I get it in my wrist area, so, like, right around here.
[01:11:47] Speaker A: So I got it in the inside in.
Okay, interesting. Yeah, yeah.
[01:11:55] Speaker B: So we'll include that in the show.
They've. Unfortunately, Logitech, they've increased the prices. I guess this is just with inflation, but in my opinion, it's one of the best mice out there.
[01:12:08] Speaker A: I think I would go with that next time I have an evoluant. It's a wired mouse, because I don't take it with me.
And evoluant does have wireless, but I don't think that they last very long, the battery life. So I think the MX vertical is probably better. But, yeah, I have the same way. I don't know which. I find the evolument is a little bit more vertical. The Logitech is a little bit more on angle. I had the Logitech vertical, and it was fine, but I think I didn't have enough padding under it because my wrist was a bit of an angle. Anchor also makes a very inexpensive vertical mouse. I don't know how good it is, so I would be willing to try a different brand. But just a vertical mouse that works for you makes a world of difference. I've had the evolument mouse at this desk. I bought this mouse in 2013.
So I've had it for ten years, and it's never had a problem. I don't game, but a vertical mouse is just better, in my opinion. It takes a while to get used to, because you kind of feel you have to raise the mouse and you're going to handshake it. So you're kind of moving your whole arm instead of the wrist, which is kind of the idea. But I do love it. So I am 100% agreement. I mean, it was one of I would say it was like Google Docs, life changing.
[01:13:26] Speaker B: Exactly.
[01:13:26] Speaker A: Google Docs is my standard for. My colleague has always mentioned this, like Google Docs. She mentioned once that Google Docs changed the way she worked and it's like I would agree and I would say from a hardware standpoint I'm in agreement with you. Vertical mouse is like a game changer.
You and I both recommend or use USB C to A adapters. So as people who don't know, USBA is the old style we're used to. There's actually many USBs. There's USBA which is the square USBs that we had for decades. There is the USB Type C which is the newer reversible one. Those are the most common now. But there was also a micro USB. USB B was like the side that would go into your printer like the printer cables or USB B. There was mini USB in addition to micro which is thicker. So there's been many iterations of USB but USBA and C are the most common especially if you have a thumb drive. So you and I both use adapters. I had a couple on my bag so I can plug in something that's USBA and it plugs into the USBC on my Mac because Macs don't or many ultrabooks don't have USBA anymore.
[01:14:41] Speaker B: Yeah, the one that you got I probably would have gone the anchor one but I got some other one. Just the price right now. Who knows, maybe it's on sale for a while but I like the fact that it has that led indicator on there to show that it's actually been engaged.
Sometimes anchor has like these few little things but they usually charge for it.
[01:15:07] Speaker A: They're expensive. I usually recommend that people do, I usually do recommend anchor products but I do recommend people wait to go on sale for them. And so right now on Amazon Canada they're 1399 for a two pack of USB 3.0 female to male adapter.
So they are really good. If you do want a different kind and you need a bit more length. I have another one. I have one of the Amazon basics.
It's actually a really Guccam cable. It's actually really quite good and it's the same idea except it has the square port that goes in and then it has a long cable and that goes to USBC. If you need a bit more length or maybe you need something a bit narrower to fit in between other devices and your computer there's a lack of space. That's also a good one. So I have both and I highly.
[01:15:57] Speaker B: Recommend them and I think that's a good point. I personally don't have that issue right now. But if you tried to go and plug in two of those USBC to a adapters, the smaller ones like these anchor together on let's say a MacBook I don't think it's possible. It might not be because they're so close together.
[01:16:18] Speaker A: Yeah, I think if you have two anchors together it works. But I have another USBC cable. So going into my Mac kind of as a part of the cable management I have an anchor USBA hub by the way, which has like doubled in price since I bought it even before the inflation. So I don't know what happened or what price I got it at but it basically has it. Hang on, let me count. So it's 123-4567 data, USB 3.1 ports and three charge only ports. So it's ten.
It's massive and it's this brick that plugs into the power bar and it has One cable coming out and it's a USB B if you can believe it. So it's USB B because that provides more power. USB B to C. I had to buy a special cable. So I plug one cable into my Mac and it connects to all the things in that power bank.
So that thing though that goes into my Mac is so thick that it's tough to get the adapter beside it. I think if I just had the adapter it would probably be okay. Also it's harder where the magnetic charging cable goes in the magsafe. That seems to be tighter. So it's not exactly perfect. So you have to fiddle with this stuff, unfortunately. But conversion cables are useful. What else do we have?
I recommend some analog stuff. So for notebooks I recommend field notes as a stocking stuffer because they are very high quality paper. They're staple bound, meaning that they lie totally flat. They have all sorts of additions. They're kind of expensive. They come in three packs. They're like pocket notebooks, but they're really, really good.
And with that, I also recommend pens. For years and years I recommended the Univall jetstream ballpoint pens, which I have many. They're excellent. But I have a new pen that I love. That's the best pen ever. It is called the pentel Energel. So it's a gel pen and I have a bunch of the plastic ones but I found that they make a metal aluminum one and this one's like a gray kind of a gunmetal color. And so they're refillable, and if you don't have a plastic pen, it's likely to last longer. So the refills are very inexpensive. And the pen is about twelve or $13 and it is just a beautiful, smooth, bolder ink and it doesn't bleed through on those nice notebooks I recommended. So I do that. If you really want to be fancy, you can use micron pens. I use them for web design when I'm sketching out wireframes and stuff. But micron pens are like a felt marker. They're for artists and I do a lot of sketching because I like to draw as well. So those are also recommended for those. It's kind of like a fine liner. They have a bunch of different thicknesses and colors and stuff. I just use black and red, but I recommend those as pens. I've tried all the pens, I've tried all the notebooks. I'm a bit of a, like I said, consolidate your life. I have unconsolidated my life so I can tell you what to stay away from. So I have basically stuck to those. I feel like I'm taking up all the air here.
[01:19:32] Speaker B: I think that's good. I like that.
I didn't know about these pentel.
[01:19:39] Speaker A: Do you want some? Please let me give some to you. Please. I bought so many, I don't need them all.
Next time I see you at work, I'm going to give you a handful because there's no way I'm going to use them in my lifetime.
[01:19:50] Speaker B: Sounds good.
[01:19:51] Speaker A: So I'm going to give you a bunch. It would be my pleasure. And do you want some uniball as well?
[01:19:57] Speaker B: If you have, I'm sure I'll give.
[01:19:59] Speaker A: You some and then you can report back. Because nothing would make me happier than to give away some of these pens because I have a bit of a pen anxiety where they're going to dry out by the time I use them. So I'd rather give them to somebody who uses them.
You might find this funny, Chris. I purchased a DVD burner drive, an external.
[01:20:20] Speaker B: Oh, wow.
[01:20:21] Speaker A: So in the days of physical media going out the door, I went and purchased an optical drive. And there's a couple of reasons why I did this. I do have a CD player in my car, so I don't purchase that many CDs anymore.
But often I can get CDs used at a store, record land near us, or I get them on sale and they're still much cheaper than a digital version. Or if I've bought the song on iTunes, I like to be able to burn a copy for the car. I do have Bluetooth in the car so I can connect my phone and play it. But Bluetooth audio is sketchy and it's not always very high quality. Sometimes I just want to put in a disc and I just want to play it. So I wanted to rip some CDs to my computer. I've done it enough and made enough data disk backups that I didn't want to borrow this from my work anymore. So I went and bought one interesting saga. I actually bought the really overpriced Apple super drive. I would say my experience, therE's nothing super about it. It would not rip any of the CDs that I had if they had a minor scratch. And perhaps that's just the unit that I had. So I returned it and I bought this one, which is my recommendation, which is called the Asus U M nine optical drive. So it's windows and Mac compatible. So if you or somebody you know needs an optical drive to burn disks to record things, put them on your computer, I highly recommend it. One of the cool features about this, this is not a Blu ray drive, but one of the cool features about it is that it actually does MDISC support. So M disks are archival quality disks and they say that they're good for like 1000 years versus like a decade for normal disks. So if you want to archive really important information, this optical drive will burn M disks. The only gripe I have about it is that it does come with two cords in the box and the cord is detachable. The Apple super drive cord is attached, so if it dies, it's toast.
It has a USB C and USBA cable. It comes with both.
My only gripe is that the cable that plugs into the unit is mini USB. Not micro, not type C, it's mini USB. And the only other thing I have that's mini USB is my Sony audio recorder that I had bought ten years ago that I still use and so I don't know why they use that. Maybe it's for power management. It is a more robust plug.
A mini USB is very good. But anyways, that's my only gripe.
Yeah, on audio it's an excellent drive and so I have it here on my desk plugged into my hub. Also the Apple super drive will not work even from a powered USB hub. It has to be plugged into the Mac directly and that's a security reason. And that also pissed me off. So I returned think yeah. What's your experience with yours? I don't know.
[01:23:39] Speaker B: I haven't used mine in a long time.
I still have it in the event that I ever need to. I mean, I have my spindle of CDs and DVDs that if I ever need to burn and stuff. But it's been so long now, everything's just kind of USB or you have those little flash drives, disk cards or whatever, right?
[01:24:07] Speaker A: Oh, SD cards.
[01:24:08] Speaker B: SD cards, yeah.
[01:24:09] Speaker A: SD cards are terrific. Yeah. So I agree. I mean, it is a bit niche, but it's a good niche.
I feel like I have more. I'll do one tech thing and then I have a non tech. Well, I'll do a non tech thing first. So I do have a book recommendation. You and I have talked about books over the years, and I would recommend this to you. I think you would like it. So Ryan Holiday, who is kind of a modern day philosopher, he kind of talks about the Stoics. I'm a big fan of the Stoics and the classics. I like to read that. I always, always have him. And Stephen Hanselman wrote a book called the Daily Stoics. So it's 366 entries on wisdom and preservance and the Art of Living. And it basically takes philosophy from Marcus Aurelius's meditations, which is a terrific book. Everybody should read Epictetus, Seneca, and then every day you can read a new entry. Yeah. Which is pretty cool.
[01:25:11] Speaker B: I think I told you about this. I just read a book recently just on Aurelius.
And it's interesting because really, the meditations, that's one of the only living books that's still around, right? Because a lot of them, these philosophers, never made it throughout all these years. So that's one for sure that we can at least refer to. But I think the older I get, I think the more I feel like I am a stoic.
[01:25:46] Speaker A: I love the Stoics. I mean, I'm not always perfect. Sometimes I fly off the handle or I get irritated. We all do.
And the Stoics are not about being perfect.
It's just about constant evaluation. So it's a really great book. I really like Brian Holiday's books in general.
He's written many books that are about really obstacles the way courage. He writes a book about courage.
Really worthwhile. I do recommend Marcus Aurelius. I think I actually have recommended meditations, maybe on this podcast. The Gregory Hayes translation is the best one. It's shorter, and it's a little bit easier to read. The funny thing about some of these old books is that the original translations are from, like the 19th century. So they themselves are old. They don't really make sense anymore. So newer translations are a little bit easier.
The last thing, I don't know if you use an ereader.
[01:26:47] Speaker B: No, I don't.
[01:26:49] Speaker A: I had one years and years ago. I had a Kobo touch when the first touch screens came out, and it was pretty good.
But over the years, I've noticed that as much as I like print, and sometimes I bought print books that I already own on audio or ebook, just because I want to have that. Whatever reason, I'm a bit of a collector or if it's a signed copy or something.
I have really enjoyed e reading just for use of the library. So because we're in Canada, you can't use Kindle with the library, we have to use Kobo. And the Kobo will take any ePub, not just Amazon formatted books. Though if you know what you're doing, you can put Amazon books on it.
So for the last few months, I've been using the Kobo Clara Two E, which is the Clara Two recycled version. It's a very high def screen.
I think it has 16 gigs of storage built in. So for audiobooks, that's just like a monster amount. I mean, I know some people say that they want to be able to put in an SD card and expand it. I don't know how many books you need to keep on your device at the same time. I mean, that'll hold like a ton of stuff. It's waterproof. I did buy a sleep cover for it.
I've bought books through Lean Pub, I have bought books that are DRM free, and I just didn't like reading them, especially if they're text heavy. So if it's not like a graphic novel or something, which I might would probably opt for print.
I kind of cycle between audio and print and ebooks. But over the years, a lot of times there's an ebook I was telling you about, the company of one, which I've always wanted to read by something Jarvis. It went on sale on the Kobo store for like a dollar 99.
Print book is $25, right? So it's like, wow. And especially if it's something I want to highlight, it ties into that service I talked about a while ago called Readwise, where it pulls all the highlights from all the services. Kindle, Kobo, whaTever, Twitter that bookmarks. And so a pocket.
So I've been using this ereader pretty consistently because I take transit to work. I can read it on the bus. It's very light. It's a bunch better for a one handed use on a bus, holding the railing and stuff like that. So I just transit taker. I don't drive my car to work, I don't want to pay for the parking. So just putting in my backpack downtime between classes. I just like I would read more if I read in all those spare moments. And it totally is true. I read all the time. I'm not on my phone as much, I'm just like I'd rather get through this book. And I like the progress bar because it kind of gamifies it. It makes me want to read more and more. And so I've been getting more into ereading and I really like it. There are better models that are faster that have physical page turn buttons. That matters to some people and I get it. It doesn't matter to me. So it's all touch screen.
[01:29:48] Speaker B: That is an interesting point though, Eric.
I have some students that have been complaining this semester about taking transit and having to spend like 3 hours just to attend my class and blah blah blah.
I don't know when I was younger, before I did get a car as well, but I decided, similar to you, just to cut down on parking and stuff like that. I would do a lot of my work while being in transit and I think maybe that might be something for people to consider. Like if they are having to go, maybe you can read, maybe there's other things, maybe you shouldn't be on the phone as much.
[01:30:28] Speaker A: Yeah, I agree. I love taking transit because I don't have to drive, I don't have to concentrate. I have a great respect for people who do transit driving and drive trains and buses. I mean like wow, talk about essential workers, right? And most of those people are super friendly generally. And so the fact that someone's taking me, I can see if you're on a bus, people might get car sick. It doesn't seem to bother me too much. If I was in the passenger side of my car my wife was driving, I would get car sick. SO I can't do it in a little car like that. It's better if I'm in a bus or like a larger vehicle for whatever reason.
But I also listen to Audible, so before I got the eReader, I have audible books, ebooks. It's kind of interesting. Someone asked me, they said well you're jumping between formats. And I was like yeah, that's true.
It really comes down to who I want to listen to and then for audio and then what the price is or what the book is for. So I'm reading a book called User Friendly, which is the history of UX design. And it's like I highlight a lot because it's like a professional interest. I may use it in some work. So highlighting an ebook and then having access to all the highlights in one place is a great research tool. It's way, way better for me than putting little plastic flags and having to flip through paper and carry all these books with me. It's just I can't.
Yeah. If Arnold Schwarzenegger is narrating the book, it's pretty good. So it's just so it kind of depends on what you want from the format. I've heard Audible is a terrible company for authors, so I feel kind of bad. Corey Doctro alerted me to that. So I do feel a little bit bad, but I don't have my subscription. I have a.
[01:32:15] Speaker B: Find, especially like we've talked about in the, like the books. The nice thing that I like about it is the fact that I can go and optimize my time when I'm doing various chores and so on. Right. So at least something's being absorbed. But yeah, I think you bring up a good point where if you want to make notes, it's not like I'm just going to go and stop doing my laundry, listening to this thing and then I'm going to start taking, you.
[01:32:41] Speaker A: Can put bookmark chapters in audible. There's a one press button where it's like, flag this, flag this, flag this. And I think it backs it up a few seconds from when you pushed it. Okay.
That's not quite the same because you still have to go listen to it again.
[01:32:56] Speaker B: Yeah.
[01:33:00] Speaker A: But that's it. That's the holiday breakdown. I feel like I took up a lot of air. No, that's good.
[01:33:06] Speaker B: I mean, I think hopefully listeners, if they're thinking about stuff, you still have some time, can grab some things that are hopefully useful.
[01:33:16] Speaker A: Thank you. To our listeners. First and foremost, for all the years listening to us, we hope you have a terrific winter holiday, Christmas, whatever it is that you celebrate.
Hopefully these gift guides and this episode will be useful to you.
[01:33:33] Speaker B: Absolutely.
[01:33:34] Speaker A: And so pleasure talking to you as always. And I will talk to you in the new year.
[01:33:39] Speaker B: Yeah, for sure.
[01:33:40] Speaker A: Thanks. Take care.