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What's Tech?

Updated 9 days ago

Arts
Society & Culture
Technology
Tech News
Read more

Enjoy the archives of this retired, award-winning series from Christopher Thomas Plante and The Verge that explained technology bit by bit. The series finale aired December 6th, 2016, shortly before Chris re-joined Polygon as its executive editor. For more on what’s happening now (and next) in technology and gadgets, listen and subscribe to The Vergecast.

Read more

Enjoy the archives of this retired, award-winning series from Christopher Thomas Plante and The Verge that explained technology bit by bit. The series finale aired December 6th, 2016, shortly before Chris re-joined Polygon as its executive editor. For more on what’s happening now (and next) in technology and gadgets, listen and subscribe to The Vergecast.

iTunes Ratings

416 Ratings
Average Ratings
380
23
5
0
8

Same

By Poopenflaggen - Sep 22 2016
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Listening to this at half is exactly how I picture these two drunk.

Marvelously Human explorations of modern tech

By SpencerAlger - Jun 16 2016
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Love Chris's style, and his guests are always charming. Big recommend. Will buy again!

iTunes Ratings

416 Ratings
Average Ratings
380
23
5
0
8

Same

By Poopenflaggen - Sep 22 2016
Read more
Listening to this at half is exactly how I picture these two drunk.

Marvelously Human explorations of modern tech

By SpencerAlger - Jun 16 2016
Read more
Love Chris's style, and his guests are always charming. Big recommend. Will buy again!
Cover image of What's Tech?

What's Tech?

Updated 9 days ago

Read more

Enjoy the archives of this retired, award-winning series from Christopher Thomas Plante and The Verge that explained technology bit by bit. The series finale aired December 6th, 2016, shortly before Chris re-joined Polygon as its executive editor. For more on what’s happening now (and next) in technology and gadgets, listen and subscribe to The Vergecast.

Rank #1: What is Bitcoin?

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Will Bitcoin make me rich? That was my first question about Bitcoin when I heard the term years ago. I didn’t know a thing about cryptocurrency, or why or how a Bitcoin might be used, but it sounded like an internet gold rush. I never invested in Bitcoin, and that may have been the right decision. But sometimes I think of the life that could have been.
This week, I invited my brilliant pal Russell Brandom to explain Bitcoin. He has a skill for making complex things like this digestible, and he delivers yet again explaining the numbers behind the madness.
Jul 07 2015
32 mins
Play

Rank #2: Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal: which service is right for you?

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I've used Spotify for a few years, but I'm curious if I should make a switch to one of the dozen and change alternate music streaming services. Apple Music has free concerts, I'm told, and Tidal has better audio quality. But every time I consider shifting my subscription, I feel overwhelmed by the details.
I invited The Verge's Micah Singleton onto today's episode to share the history of music streaming services, and direct me on where to spend my money. I also want to hear his story about interviewing Jay Z. Okay, I mostly just want to hear that story.
Jan 26 2016
19 mins
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Rank #3: What is an internet router?

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When I joined The Verge, many of my peers from the video games press congratulated me on a lifetime of writing about internet routers. I laughed at their silly joke. How much, I thought, is there to really say about an internet router?
If only my naive self of 2014 had known the truth, that routers evoke a passion among the citizens of the internet like few pieces of technology. I thought people cared about console wars, then I witnessed a debate about the benefits of Netgear's Nighthawk line.
Frankly, I get it now. As my internet connection speed has increased in the past half-decade, having an internet router that allows my Wi-Fi to make the most of said speed seems obvious. What isn't always obvious is knowing which router to buy.
I've invited my pal Dan Seifert to explain internet routers and provide some guidance. I recommend you listen to this episode before visiting the in-laws this holiday, so you can give them the gift that keeps giving: a router that doesn't suck.
Dec 08 2015
27 mins
Play

Rank #4: What is Windows 10?

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Last week, I wrote about Microsoft's plan to bring Xbox One and Windows 10 closer together. I've been wondering what this future might look like. I know a good deal about Microsoft's video game consoles, but Windows remains a bit of a mystery.
I switched to Apple laptops in high school, and only recently welcomed a Windows PC into my home exclusively for gaming. But more and more, I'm tempted to switch back to Windows for my work computer. It seems less fussy, prone to viruses, and bland than it did in the early 2000s.
For this week's episode, I invited The Verge's Tom Warren to explain the history of Windows and what makes Windows 10 unique.
Dec 15 2015
28 mins
Play

Rank #5: The What’s Tech series finale

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When I started at The Verge in 2014, I needed an excuse to learn about technology. My background was in covering video games, television, and pop culture, and I lacked the basic cognitive functions to hold a phone above my head without dropping it on my face. So I launched a podcast called What’s Tech.
For two years, the show was an opportunity to learn the fundamentals about the technology that supports everyday life. Free to ask silly, obvious, and embarrassing questions, I learned a ton. I hope you did, too. After all, my favorite takeaway from the podcast was that I wasn’t alone. We often take tech for granted, like a magical apparatus that does everything we need, not a massive collection of moving parts designed and programmed by women and men with their own dreams, ambitions, and motives. Technology is immensely confusing, but understanding how it functions and who creates it is a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit.
I sincerely hope that through this show, tech became more accessible and less mysterious, without losing its fun and that special power to fascinate us.
Recently, I took on more responsibilities with our Culture team. I’d love for you to check out our work. Right now, I want to give the section and its writers the time and support they deserve. But to focus on Culture, I need to let What’s Tech go on indefinite hiatus. I won’t go so far as to say the show’s done forever. We’ll leave the RSS feed open, and hopefully we’ll have something new to take the show’s place in the coming months. Which is to say, I’d encourage you to stay subscribed.
Now for the final episode. For my guest, I invited my buddy Ross Miller, with whom I co-launched The Verge’s TLDR section. We talk about life on the internet. And also, breakfast. I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening.
Dec 06 2016
22 mins
Play

Rank #6: What is high-tech coffee?

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Every day I practice the same routine: I hop out of bed, take a shower, get dressed, and drink a cup of coffee. The process is so repetitive, it's become this uninspired dance I do with my eyes half closed. I never stop and consider how I could make these moments I repeat every day even a little better.
That needs to change. So, I've invited The Verge's William Savona to tell me about how he improved his morning (and afternoon, and possibly evening) cup of coffee. Brewing coffee can be quite technological. Savona explains the origins of crafting the perfect cup, and what futuristic tech allows for him to fill his mug every day.
May 12 2015
23 mins
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Rank #7: What is the singularity?

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If only new episodes of What's Tech appeared on Mondays, we could have run this week's explanation of the Singularity on 4/20. That would have been appropriate. This is, after all, the strangest thing we've recorded — and our pilot involved a man almost crashing a drone into a woman and her child.
This week, I invited The Verge's video, binaural audio, and singularity expert Ryan Manning to discuss a possible future in which a technological singularity occurs. Will we achieve a higher form of consciousness? Or will artificial intelligence view humanity as a bump on its infinite road of self-improvement?
Apr 21 2015
20 mins
Play

Rank #8: What are drones?

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The Verge's Business Editor and drone expert Ben Popper explains drones, the flying unmanned aerial devices flying over battlefields, metropolises, and Popper's own backyard.
Feb 12 2015
19 mins
Play

Rank #9: How HTTPS is slowly but surely making the internet safer

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Over the past couple years web security has become a staple of the nightly news. The stories usually hinge on government leaks, foreign hackers, or web encryption. There’s menacing subtext that practically everything put online is vulnerable to “cyber attacks.” Though one might wonder what steps are being taken to protect not just the government and giant corporations, but you, the individual. What keeps you safe when you stumble your way into a Wikipedia hole or click a strange link sent from a friend?

To find out, I invited my colleague Russell Brandom to talk about web security, and particularly HTTPS. As Russell explains, while your information isn’t necessarily less vulnerable, websites themselves are becoming safer. This is a dense topic, but fortunately Russell brought a helpful metaphor. It involves pie.

Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com.
Oct 19 2016
29 mins
Play

Rank #10: How smartphone cameras took over the world

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In the early 2000s, the digital photography revolution made it possible for miniaturized camera hardware and image sensors to be packed into cell phones without adding a significant amount of weight. Then the iPhone was announced. As the smartphone war began, the camera became an important part of the ongoing spec race. Competitors tried to beat Apple in making an excellent camera (and app) that was easy to use — and it took until this year for that to start happening.

Now, two-thirds of adults in the US own a smartphone. The average smartphone user takes at least 150 photos per month. Instagram has half a billion monthly users. Even if it’s just selfies or pictures of lunch — nothing has familiarized people with photography like smartphone cameras. It’s now a part of our everyday lives.

I joined Chris on this week’s What’s Tech to talk about my first camera phones, why the newest smartphones have such equally excellent shooters, and where it all goes from here.
Oct 25 2016
23 mins
Play

Rank #11: What is Fallout?

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On a recent Sunday afternoon, you may have noticed Brutus — Fox's NFL mascot — wearing a new set of protective armor. This costume wasn't promoting a nonprofit initiative meant to distract from professional football's abundance of PR debacles, nor was it celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas. It was an ad for a video game: Fallout 4.
As your pupils dilated and the molten cheese dribbled from your pizza roll, you likely found yourself in one of two camps: the camp that recognizes the Fallout brand and feels the sudden, stinging pang to buy this video game; or the camp more or less unfamiliar with the brand, but probably hears it referenced in sentences like, "You know, I haven't seen my girlfriend since she bought Fallout 4," or, "My husband doesn't sleep, and I blame Fallout 4."
In either case, you probably slurped the string of cheese-like substance back to your lips, saving your favorite sports jersey from a trip to the dry cleaner, and found yourself in need of more information, not just about Fallout 4 but the rest of the franchise and other games like it. That's why I've invited my lactose-intolerant friend, Product Hunt Editorial Director Russ Frushtick for this week's episode of What's Tech? I know Russ Frushtick, and let me tell you, Russ Frushtick knows Fallout 4.
Dec 01 2015
19 mins
Play

Rank #12: Bonus: What is Verge ESP?

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We're taking this week off because Chris is deep in the throes of E3. We'll be back with a brand new episode next Tuesday/ But today, we have a special bonus!
Verge ESP is a brand new podcast from the Verge where Emily Yoshida and Elizabeth Lopatto find the place where entertainment and science meet. Every two weeks, they discuss the news and interview important people from the worlds of science and entertainment.
If you want to hear more of Verge ESP, be sure to subscribe.
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/verge-esp/id999108706
SoundCloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/vergeesp
RSS: http://feeds.podtrac.com/0v0iJdmvtGTS
Jun 17 2015
58 mins
Play

Rank #13: What is the Marvel Universe?

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If you watched Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend, you're in good company. The film had one of the strongest openings of all time. As the credits rolled, though, I wondered about the sustainability of this behemoth franchise.
I invited The Verge's Kwame Opam to explain the rise of the Marvel film universe, and where its characters — which span a variety of multimedia — will go in the next decade, with or without the actors who play them.
May 05 2015
22 mins
Play

Rank #14: What is Twitter?

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While traveling from New York City to my new home in Austin, I downloaded Twitter onto my phone. I have a sordid history with the social media platform, particularly when its stream of opinions is accessible all day, every day. But I wanted something to distract me on the long road trips, and help pass the time in an unfurnished house. Twitter is nothing if not a competent distraction.
At first, the app did its job, keeping me updated on current events and interesting stories. Eventually, though, it once again tapped into an inner depression. For me, this happens every time I let the app become an addiction. I deleted Twitter again. It wasn't the first time, certainly won't be the last.
How Twitter came to be is almost as interesting to me as the platform itself. To learn more about my frienemy, I invited The Verge's Silicon Valley Editor Casey Newton to explain the platform's origin and speculate on its future. Newton understands social media better than anyone I know — his Snapchat game is strong — and his analysis of Twitter is illuminating as it is accessible.
May 19 2015
24 mins
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Rank #15: What is net neutrality?

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The Verge's Editor-in-Chief explains net neutrality. The recent historic vote by the FCC in favor of net neutrality will have a decisive impact on the future of the internet. But when did the pursuit of net neutrality began? And what exactly is it?
Portions of this episode are excerpted from the State of the Net conference. http://www.stateofthenet.org
Mar 03 2015
19 mins
Play

Rank #16: Why smartphone batteries explode, and why they may get worse

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Samsung has officially recalled the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide, after more than 90 of the large smartphones in the US overheated due to defective batteries. Overheating is, in this case, an understatement, as some owners have claimed their smartphones outright exploded. Exploding lithium-ion batteries actually aren’t so uncommon. As my colleagues Angela Chen and Lauren Goode noted earlier this month, there are many ways for a lithium-ion battery to become dangerous, and they aren’t limited to any one smartphone or electronic device.

“An exploding phone seems like a freak accident,” write Chen and Goode, “but the same chemical properties that make batteries work also make them likely to catch fire.”

To learn more about the lithium-ion batteries, I invited The Verge’s science reporter Angela Chen to the show. We talk about how manufacturers are pushing the battery to its limit, and what alternatives we may see in the future.

Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com.
Sep 20 2016
16 mins
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Rank #17: What is a hoverboard?

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The Verge tested Lexus' hoverboard in August. Thanks to science and a considerable promotional budget, the car maker's hoverboard actually hovered above the earth — as its name suggested. The experience was the culmination of a shared pop culture dream dating back to Michael J. Fox's faithful special effects-aided ride in Back to the Future Part II. It felt perversely historic.
Somehow, only a couple months later, the creation of an actual working hoverboard has been overshadowed by a trendy namesake that doesn't hover at all — though on occasion, it has been reported to burst into flames.
Maybe you are so enticed by the modern hoverboard, which looks like a miniature Segway without hand supports, that you're considering buying one in the new year. Or maybe you find the rideable and its misnomer dumbfounding, and a dangerous nuisance that impedes your morning commute. Whatever either case, I've invited The Verge's Sean O'Kane to tell us about the history of the hoverboard, and speculate on whether it will capture the public's interest for decades like its predecessor of the same name.
Dec 29 2015
30 mins
Play

Rank #18: What are selfies?

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The selfie gets a bad wrap. Labeled shallow and self-centered by its critics, self-portraiture has a rich history, dating back to humanity’s earliest works of art. What changed between artists painting themselves last century, and people snapping photos of themselves today?
I invited The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern to explain the selfie. Stern and I bonded at CES over our mutual love of the selfie stick — something we discuss late in the episode. Sadly, right after recording the episode, Disney announced a blow to the future of the greatest photo-snapping accessory. This one’s for you, selfie stick. You will be missed.
Jun 30 2015
17 mins
Play

Rank #19: What are smartwatches?

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The Verge's smartwatch expert Dan Seifert explains smartwatches. People have been clamoring for something like the smartwatch since the days of Dick Tracy, but will the new crop of smartwatches meet our futuristic expectations?
Feb 12 2015
15 mins
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Rank #20: A simple explanation of No Man’s Sky and its internet-fueled controversy

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The first trailer for No Man’s Sky, published in December 2013, promised a universe with enough planets, creatures, and vegetation that it could not be fully explored by one player in a lifetime. The hype was immediate, and it only continued to build with each month between the game’s announcement and its release this summer. This, some fans speculate, could be a game that lasts forever.

My buddy Austin Walker concisely dismantled that logic at Vice before the game’s release, but No Man’s Sky has nonetheless attracted a good deal of controversy. To explain the game, and the community’s reaction, I invited my colleague Andrew Webster to the show. Andrew wrote a great series on his time in the game that I encourage you to enjoy along with the podcast.

Subscribe to What's Tech on iTunes, listen on Spotify, or subscribe via RSS. And be sure to follow us on Twitter. You can also find the entire collection of What's Tech stories right here on the The Verge Dot Com.
Aug 25 2016
16 mins
Play

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