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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ranting and Raving About the New Apple and Google Hardware

Yep, it's still product announcement season. This week, Google officially unveiled its new Pixel phones and Apple showed off new MacBook Pro models. Both device families sport substantial upgrades over their previous designs—though in the MacBook's case, many of its "new" features are just ones that Apple has omitted from its most recent laptops. All of these devices have received their biggest updates in years, so naturally we have some nitpicks.

This week on Gadget Lab, we bring on WIRED products writer Brenda Stolyar and WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu to rant and/or rave about the features on Apple's and Google's new devices.

Show Notes

Read Lauren’s story about Apple’s return to its old MacBook style. Read Parker Hall’s story about all the MacBook’s new (old) ports here. Dive deeper into Apple’s new M1 chips. Deets about Google’s new Pixel phones. Everything Apple announced this week. 

Also read Julian’s review of the Evolve Hadean electric skateboard.


Brenda recommends The Bold Type on Hulu. Julian recommends trying out an electric skateboard. Lauren recommends Kneipp bath salts. (No, you don’t smoke them.) Mike recommends the Curious Creatures podcast.

Brenda Stolyar can be found on Twitter @BStoly. Julian Chokkattu is @JulianChokkattu. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.


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Michael Calore: Lauren.

Lauren Goode: Mike.

MC: Lauren, how much do you love the MacBook's Touch Bar?

LG: This is a trick question?

MC: Yes.

LG: I'm touched you would ask, but I very rarely used it.

MC: OK. Well, we're going to talk about that feature and many more things that we both love and don't love on this week's show.

LG: Sounds like a touchy subject.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays.]

MC: Hi everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I am Michael Calore, a senior editor at WIRED.

LG: And I'm Lauren Goode, I'm a senior writer at WIRED.

MC: We are also joined this week by WIRED product reviewer and writer, Brenda Stolyar. Hello, Brenda. Welcome back to the show.

Brenda Stolyar: Hello. Thank you for inviting me back.

MC: Of course, anytime. And we also have on the show, WIRED reviews editor and I don't know, honorary third host Julian Chokkattu. Hi, Julian.

Julian Chokkattu: Hello. Thank you for having me.

MC: Today we are talking about, you guessed it, more product announcements. Both Apple and Google had big virtual tech presentations this week to show off their flashy new hardware. Apple revealed some new, yet rather familiar MacBooks. And the following day, Google unveiled its newly redesigned Pixel phones. There's been a whole bunch of these product events in the past month as regular listeners of this show will know. So this time, we're going to do things a little differently. It's a rants and raves show. We'll go around the horn and each person will talk about one specific feature of these two new devices that we either love or we think are the worst things ever made.

LG: We're not being at all hyperbolic here.

MC: I'd like to start on a positive note, but Brenda, the MacBook now has a notch. What?

BS: Yes it does. And it is actually one thing I will say I think I love about it. A lot of people were very quick to judge the notch without actually taking into account that it gives you more screen real estate essentially. So the menu bar that would sit lower on previous versions, now sits higher thanks to the notch. And there's also slimmer bezels on the top and the sides. And so technically you get a 14.2-inch screen and a 16.2-inch screen on the 14-inch and the 16-inch model.

And so yeah, I'm here for it. I'm not saying that I'm speaking from experience because I'm not speaking from experience, but with my experience on other MacBooks, my eye level doesn't even really focus on the top of the MacBook Pro, it's generally beneath that. So I really don't think people are even going to notice it all that much after using it for a while. So I really don't think it's that big of a deal. Another thing I really love about it is the 1080p camera. I feel like we've all been waiting for this on a MacBook for a while now, especially because other brands like Microsoft and Dell and Lenovo this year have already come out with 1080p laptop cameras, especially in our still pandemic times. So it's nice to see it finally make its way from the iMac to the MacBook.

MC: Do we need 1080p on a webcam? I'm kind of happy with the lower resolution?

LG: No. I'm super resentful that as I'm getting older, all of the cameras are just getting better. It should be getting worse.

BS: I agree. I think I was actually saying this earlier on one of our other meetings, that on days when my skin is not very nice to me, it gives me anxiety to not have makeup on and to let my coworkers just see me in rare form. But I think similar to how people compare, say a 60-Hz refresh rate to a 120-Hz refresh rate. Once you go to the next level, you can't really go back. So I do find myself staring at the screen with a 720p camera, and I'm like, "this literally looks like something from the early two thousands." So it's definitely necessary. But I will say yes, the timing when we're all home and not really ready all the time, is ironic.

MC: Julian, what thoughts do you have about the new MacBook Pro?

JC: Ports is … Like, hello? There's now, what? Several ports, there's three USB-C, Thunderbolt 4, there's one HDMI, there's an SD card slot, which is like, what? What is happening over there? And a high quality 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. So it just feels like a gigantic slap in the face if you bought a MacBook in the past five years, because it's like, they're pretty much saying, "We were wrong. We clearly should have kept all of those ports in." And I really feel bad for anyone that bought a MacBook this year or last year because you know, the M1s came out, but now it's like, well, this is so much better, because I'm totally ready to not use dongles and carry all of that stuff around. This is just so much better.

And it does suck though, that they sort of lead with this sort of port strategy on the super expensive model. I feel if they did this last year with a completely new chip, I feel that would've tied it all really well and had a much better start to that and actually differentiated the M1 MacBook a lot more than the previous gens. But, I guess I can only wish so much.

MC: Yeah. And we should note that we will have more to say about the performance of the machines once we actually get a chance to write the review. Those are coming, this podcast is being recorded in between the time that the product was announced and the product is actually reviewed. So we'll have more to say about that actual chip later, but for now, Lauren, how do you feel about the ports?

LG: OK. So my rave is specifically the SD card port, which I think a lot of podcasters might also appreciate, because right now I'm recording into a Zoom H6 handheld recorder. A lot of people use this and those still take SD cards, standard SD cards. And so every week when we tape the podcast and we've been doing it remotely for a long time now because of the pandemic. I would take the SD card out and then I would look for the right dongle and then I'd plug the dongle into the two USBC ports and this MacBook quote, unquote Pro. And then sometimes I'd put the dongle in upside down and I have to switch positions. And then sometimes I put the SD card in and it's not recognized right away. It's just super irritating. There have been times when I've been somewhere else, not had the dongle, had a full podcast recorded onto an SD card on the Zoom and the like, "Holy crap, I have no way to transfer this file right now because the Zoom itself is not Wi-Fi connected."

So yeah, I mean … And that's not even to talk about the photographers who still record things or videographers who still record things to SD cards and then have to use a dongle to get it onto a machine, to edit the imagery. We needed the SD card port back. My only gripe is that it's now on these super, super expensive machines and not on every MacBook.

MC: Yeah.

LG: So, that's my rave. Yay for the SD card port. It's a bit of a rant too, because I'm still angry that it was taken away, but Apple taketh away and Apple giveth back and expects a lot of credit for it. OK. My rant, my actual rant. It has nothing to do with the MacBook. Also, at this event earlier this week, Apple announced that there is a Siri-only version of Apple Music. Now on the one hand, it's only $5 a month, which is a pretty great deal. If you're looking to subscribe to a streaming music service that has millions and billions and millions of tracks, just like every other streaming music service, Spotify and all the rest. On the other hand, who the hell wants to use Siri and Siri only to search for music and playlists?

MC: So to be clear, you cannot type the name of an artist or a song if you have this plan, right?

LG: This is my understanding of it. I've read about it on the internet. I have not yet used it, never trust anything on the internet kids. This is the way it was presented. It's voice-only music control. I mean, it's … yes. So you can get full access to this music service for $5 a month. That's a pretty good deal. Also, you are helping Apple make the completely incompetent Siri slightly better, because over time you're just helping to build up their voice library. And these are supposedly all … It's anonymous. Right? But I can't even imagine … I mean, I just, you can be like, "Hey Siri, play Dinner Party playlist" or "Hey Siri, play In The Mood playlist." And she's going to be like, "I'm sorry, I cannot find that. Would you like me to search the web for that?" How is this actually going to work?

MC: Yeah, right? You ask for Black Sabbath and it plays Black Mountain.

LG: Yeah.

MC: I have that problem all the time.

LG: You know, "Hey Siri play Sweet Home Alabama." "Would you like to hear Alabama Shakes?" I can't wait to see how this goes. So, yeah. That's my preliminary rant. That's my preliminary rant of not having tried the thing yet, but just thinking it sounds really ridiculous.

JC: It's just a way for Apple to get even more money, because you're going to get frustrated when Siri plays the wrong song, and then you're going to pick up your iPhone and then realize that you can't use it to control your music plan. And then you'll throw your iPhone against the wall, it'll break. And then you have to go to the Apple store for a new iPhone. Rinse and repeat.

LG: I'm sorry, Julian. I didn't understand that. Would you like me to search the web for what you just said?

MC: Well, we do have to move on, but I have one parting thought.

LG: Tell us your rant.

MC: It's more of a rave.


MC: I am very happy to see the Touch Bar being apparently phased out of Apple's laptop hardware line.

LG: We're going to assume that everyone knows what the touch bar is who's listening. But, very quickly tell us what the Touch Bar was.

MC: It's a frustratingly inadequate strip of touch screen that runs across the top of the keyboard, that replaced the very useful line of function keys and escape key and power key that used to be at the top of the Apple keyboard. Apple made this move, what, five years ago? Something like that.

LG: Mm-hmm.

MC: Put this strip up there. And the idea was, the developers who made applications like Adobe, for example, or Ableton Live or something like that, could put a context sensitive control panel there. So it would give sort of touch screen style interactions to desktop applications. Developers sort of used it, most did not. So then it just ended up feeling like your computer was missing a row of keys that you used to use all the time. And instead, here's this thing that you accidentally touch and accidentally launch things that you don't want to launch while you're typing. So good riddance. I say, "Touch Bar, wish we never knew you."

JC: Just to point out, there is one last MacBook that Apple is selling with the Touch Bars. The MacBook Pro from last year, with the M1s. So avoid it, if you can.

MC: Yeah. And maybe the next ones won't have it. Maybe they will. We don't know. They didn't definitively say that it's going away. They just showed a computer without it on it. So …

BS: With the MacBook Air M1 from 2020, I think the most underrated feature was that they added those function keys to the top. And that's what they've implemented into the MacBook Pro of 2021. And I loved it on the MacBook Air. It's just a lot more intuitive. So it sounds like a lovely idea.

LG: But this is all, I mean … We are all suffering from Stockholm syndrome, right? Because listen to us, we're like, "I love that this keyboard has a row of function keys. Did you know it has a row of function keys?" You don't say right? "Oh my God, there is a port. I got to tell you, there's a port in this laptop that I find incredibly useful for my profession as a professional. This is incredible. This is innovation." It's like, are you fucking kidding me?"

They took all this stuff away from us over the past five years. And the keyboard … Don't even get me started on the keyboard right now. There is a piece of something stuck under my caps lock key. It's literally, as we tape this, it is driving me crazy, this damn keyboard, but now we're finally, we are finally returning to functional MacBook Pros. Hallelujah. We haven't even talked about the chips, but that's a whole other thing. Anyway, guys, anytime you want to be brought back to reality, come to me. I'll Slack with you, I'll tape the podcast with you, we'll make it real guys. We'll make it real.

MC: Nice. Thanks, love the passion. All right, well look, we have to take a break, but when we come back, we're going to talk about the Pixel.

OK. Welcome back to round two. Apple's mega commercial may have been flashier, but Google also had some news to share this week. Julian, you have had your hands on the new Pixel 6 models for a few days now. Your formal review is not written yet, but we learned a lot about these phones earlier this year. So now that you actually have the phones in front of you, what can you tell us about them?

JC: Well, I can't …

MC: As, I say this, I realize that … Are we allowed to say that you have the phones in front of you?

JC: Yes. They're a little more lenient. I can say that there is a review embargo on Monday, so we can expect our review on WIRED.com on Monday. But I mean, I can't actually talk, I suppose much about the actual features or my thoughts on them, but generally as an overview, the are two phones, Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. They're both using Google's first ever custom Tensor chip, which we sort of got a preview of earlier this year in August, but it's a pretty big deal because that chip is meant to run complex machine learning algorithms. So instead of a traditional CPU and GPU, this is a TPU, a tense or processing unit, which is sort of the term that they are pulling from their chips that they use for their cloud computing services. So basically, any and every existing machine learning function or task that's available on an existing pixel phone, whether it's something like portrait mode in the camera to the recording app that sort of is using ML to understand your speech, everything is just going to get a lot better.

And there's a couple of new features that they're adding that are also utilizing all of that power that they're getting from being able to run all of these powerful machine learning tasks on this device. So one of the new features is assistant ]voice typing, which is pretty much voice dictation, but it's using that new Tensor chip to understand everything you're saying incredibly fast and also it'll understand punctuation, it'll … If you're saying … One of the examples that they said was, "if you say the word Katherine, and if you're intending to use the Katherine spelled with a K, if you just sort of tap the word that shows up in one of the prompts on the keyboard, it'll learn that. And then the next time you say Catherine, it'll use that form of the word." So it sort of is always understanding and that's just one of the most exciting parts of these phones, is that everything you do on it is going to be sort of just evolving over time and being expertly tailored for your own experience.

LG: Brenda, based on what you've seen of the Pixel 6 so far, what are your rants and raves for it?

BS: OK. So I'm going to say my rave is the design. I think for me, it's been one of the most refreshing designs I've seen this year, rather than building on an existing design. They scrapped it and they just started fresh, which is nice to see in general because I feel like we don't really see that much with phone manufacturers. I won't name specific ones, but so that was nice. I'd say that's definitely a rave, also I think the software features like Real Tone and then also Magic Eraser, are really cool specifically Magic Eraser. I am not good with photo editing. I just don't have the patience for it. Something like this feels very foolproof. And then also with Real Tone, I can only really say that I might have seen sample images from someone I will not mention compared to a phone. I will not say. And the results may or may not be very obvious between the two.

MC: What does Real Tone do?

JC: So Real Tone it's pretty much … They collaborated with a lot of filmmakers and photographers and creative artists to specifically people of color or people who are not people of color, but pretty much anyone who has colored people of color in film or art in general. And so they've worked with this wide group of collaborators and they tried to make it so that anytime you take a picture with a Pixel, the color tones you're getting for skin tones are very accurate, whether it's with correcting exposure. For example, there's a lot of examples where people of color or darker skin people, specifically at night when you're taking a selfie or just generally taking a picture with the main camera, you might be very dark and very hard to see that's a normal experience that some other people don't experience.

So it's just one of those things that they've actually tried to curate that experience and make it more natural looking and just give you a photograph that actually looks like you. And I can't say much, but that is arguably my most favorite camera feature because I mean, I think I could say speak for everyone that it's just very nice to be able to be represented as yourself in a picture that you took of yourself.

And especially when you compare it to some other cameras, it's one of those things that's in the back of your mind subconsciously you don't think of it because you just think, "OK, I took a photo, I'm dark skinned. Of course, I'm not going to be that visible in this photo because it's night." But then you see what they can do. And then you're like … You kind of feel a little emotional about it because you kind of feel for a lot of people that have just sort of let this be the norm for a long time and just not really questioned it because they haven't really experienced anything else before. So to be able see something like that change and look at a photo and actually see yourself is very, very nice.

MC: Nice.

BS: I do want to say though, to Lauren's point about giving a company credit for doing something that should have been done, I probably should also say that this should have been done so much longer ago, not in 2021. So it's great that it's a feature I will rave about it, but I also think it should have come much sooner. So just want to point that one out, is that it shouldn't have taken until 2021 to come out with such a necessary feature.

LG: Mm-hmm.

MC: Lauren, how do you feel about this Pixel?

LG: Like Julian. Not like I can say all that much at the moment, but I will say that Android 12 so far is pretty impressive. I've had the opportunity to try Android 12 on one device while I'm using Android 11 on another device. And to me, the differences are pretty notable and Android 12 is just … It's fun. It's more colorful. It feels more fluid. The icons are larger. Mike you described it earlier as cartoonish. I agree with that, but I like it at the same time. There's something about it. It must be that way.

MC: It's like a grown up cartoonish.

LG: Yeah. Yeah.

MC: It's not like a kiddie cartoonish.

LG: You know when you do that thing where you try to make your phones interface intentionally unappealing, so you're not checking it as much? You go gray scale or you put it in some sort of do not disturb mode. I've been using this a lot in iOS 15, the focus modes that are available. This is the opposite of that. Android 12 is just pure candy. You just look at it and you just want to touch it and play with it. And particularly on the Pixel 6. So I think, yeah, that's been pretty cool so far. And my rant, I'll just be quick about this. I have it on good authority that the in-display fingerprint sensor in the Pixel 6, may or may not be that great.

MC: Oh boy. So they got rid of the physical fingerprint reader?

LG: Yeah. There's no fingerprint sensor on the external body of the phone. It also does not have any type of face ID or face unlock.

MC: OK. This sounds absolutely maddening, because I have a Pixel 4 XL, which does have Face Unlock and does not have a fingerprint reader. And of course, I've been wearing a mask ever since the day I got the phone. So Face Unlock has just been a nightmare for me for the last couple of years. And I was so looking forward to getting rid of this phone and getting a new Pixel so that I could go back to a fingerprint sensor, because Google went back to the fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 5 series. And now, if I want to get a 6, it's the crappy one and not the good one that I have to deal with. And there's no face unlock. So it's like, "I can't win unless I buy last year's phone."

LG: Yes. And we should say too, wait for Julian's review, for the full review where he will determine how good the fingerprint sets really is. But yeah, your concerns are valid, Mike.

MC: Yeah.

LG: And I mean, yeah. Face ID or face unlock has been pretty frustrating while we're all wearing masks. And we don't know if that's really going to change all that much in certain parts of our society for a long time. So masks may be here to stay for a while and I'm fine with that. But it is annoying to unlock your phone with your face. So it's good in that. It's nice to have some kind of tactile option where you can just put your finger to the phone and unlock it. The in-display stuff has a ways to go, I think.

JC: Yeah. Let's just say I'll take a fingerprint sensor over face unlock during the pandemic any day, just because I just hate … Apple tried to do some stuff where they brought up the pin code when your mask is on. It never really works for me. I don't get it. It's just very frustrating. And I know there's this weird Apple Watch integration that I don't really want to figure out how to do. It's probably my job to do that. But whatever. Yeah. I will take a fingerprint sensor any day.

MC: Works for my white friends, the Apple mask recognition thing.

LG: Oh, oh, That's interesting.

JC: Maybe they need some real tone.

MC: Yeah. Maybe they need some real tone on the iPhone.

LG: Yeah. For real. Mike, what are your rants and raves around this?

MC: All right. Well, the only thing that I have is sort of a concern and I want to put this to the panel because you all have seen the phone a couple of times now. And as we said, we have them inhouse. I look at the design and I feel like, "OK, that is a phone," the Pixel 6, I'm talking about. "That is a phone that needs to have a case." Am I right? Or am I wrong?

JC: I would say, no. Yes, have a case because please don't break your phone. But … And it is glass on both sides, so unlike the Pixel 5 which had a resin on the back, it actually will shatter on both sides. But from a perspective of someone who doesn't like cases and you don't want to have a case, they designed it so that, that camera bump will never rock. So like how on the iPhone, for example, one of the sides has the camera bump. And so when you put it on a flat surface and you're tapping on one corner of the iPhone, it'll rock. And a lot of phones do that. So they designed it so that it'll never rock.

I have felt a little worried at times. I suppose and I feel like I can say this because this includes the hands-on part of things. But I was a little worried sometimes when you're putting it on surfaces, that glass is making such huge contact with different surfaces. But that would happen anyway, if you put a case on it as well. So I don't think you need a case. I don't think it's meant to have a case, but it is just another one of those added protections. But yeah, no, I don't, I don't think you need a case.

LG: I do think this Pixel 6 is a lot more elegant-feeling than earlier versions of the Pixel. I've been calling it, the Samsungification of the Pixel phone. It's flashy. It's glass. It's shiny that the camera module on the back pops out quite a bit, so I could see why you might think you need a case. And I have seen a case on the Pixel 6 and it looks pretty cool the way that it just kind of fits around the strange camera module on the back.

MC: All right. Well, I will consider my fears assuaged, although you just gave me new fear when you said, "Samsungification."

JC: I think Brenda touched on this earlier, but I do like it when a phone tries to be very different. I maybe it's because I review phones and all of them look very boring over time, but it's very nice to be able to get something that you can tell from the end of the hallway or the end of the subway car, that like, "Hey, that person's got a Pixel." That's something I do fun, because I'm lame. I look at other people's phones and I'm like to my partner, "That's a Huawei," or "that's a OnePlus," and my partner's like, "I do not care." But for me, it's great. It's a lot of fun. So I'm looking forward to seeing … Hopefully, if they get people to convince people to buy it, finding all the Pixels on all the subways and pointing them out.

LG: Julian, I do that too. And I was recently out to dinner in Silicon Valley and I saw someone with a Samsung Galaxy Fold and I said, "Excuse me, sir, is that a Samsung Galaxy Fold?" And he said, "Yeah." And I said, "Is it the 3?" And he said, "No, it's the Fold 2." And I said, "Oh, really? What inspired you to buy the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2?" And he went through all of its features and I'm just … I know the features but listening and I'm like, "Uh-huh, uh-huh," and he's like, "Oh, and you can do this and look at what you do with that when you unfold it, the app goes to full screen and then you can do this." And I stopped him and I said, "Do you work for Samsung?" And he said, "Yep." And I was like, "OK, thank you very much."

JC: Oh God.

LG: I was so excited. I thought I saw a Samsung Galaxy Fold in the wild. But I mean, it wasn't the wild, it was just at dinner, but it was a Samsung employee.

JC: If it helps, I saw a delivery driver with a Fold, which I thought was amazing.

LG: Oh, did you have the opportunity to ask him or her why?

JC: See I'm shy. I don't talk to people when I to. So …

MC: Fair enough. All right, well we got to wrap this up and so let's take a quick break. And when we come back, we will do our recommendations.


MC: All right, welcome back. This is the final segment of the show where we all tell our listeners the things that they might enjoy. Brenda, what is your recommendation?

BS: OK. So I know I recommended a show on the last podcast episode I was on, but I'm going to recommend another show because all I do with my free time is watch TV. This time, it is a show called The Bold Type. It's so bad, it's good. But it's on … It was originally on Freeform, it's not on anymore, but you can find it on Hulu. And it's basically about these three women who work at a glossy magazine that may or may not be based on Cosmo. And it's just so unrealistic watching as a journalist because the assignments that they get, the workload or lack thereof that they get, the amount of time they have to spend just talking in the office and going on these random adventures is just very funny and comical. So it's also just a good, I don't know. It's a good show to zone out to. So, if you need a happy show, this is the one.

MC: So it's sort of the Cosmo of TV shows.

BS: 100 percent. I think Joanna Coles is also an executive producer on it. She makes a little bit of a guest appearance, but I won't give away much, but yes, a hundred percent.

MC: Nice.

LG: Sounds a little bit like Younger, Brenda. Which you and I have both admitted, we secretly love.

BS: Same vibe and tone. So yes.

MC: The Bold Type, going on the list. Julian, what is your recommendation?

JC: I am going to broadly sort of recommend electric skateboards. I tested an electric skateboard. The review is up to day, I think on WIRED.com. I tested the one from Evolve. It's called a Hadean. It is also way too much money for a skateboard. It's close to $3,000, which is insane, but this is the top-end of top-end electric skateboards. I'm a newbie. I literally haven't ridden a skateboard before, and this is my foray into this entire category. I'm starting at the top, for some bizarre reason, but there are a lot of other much cheaper electric skateboards that you can get. But I feel like this experience with this first one has sort of opened up something. And now I feel like I'm getting this itch to just hop on a board and go down the street.

So now I feel like I'm going to start pulling another electric skateboards and start testing other ones. So I will say though, I fell on my first ride and I hurt my chest for two weeks. It took two weeks, but I literally had PTSD. The skateboard was just by the door for two weeks and just staring at me and I would just leave the house. And I was like, "I should take the skateboard." And I'm like, "walking is great." And so I walked. But then I've kind of mastered the courage after the pain went away. And I bet very slowly and that's something I have to sort of stress; Take it very slow, wear helmets and protective gear, don't go 15 miles an hour on your first ride, learn to balance. Yes, Brenda, I'm dumb. And yeah. But once you do all that, then enjoy it.

BS: I was just going to say that only Julian would review a skateboard while in the process of learning to ride a skateboard for the first time ever. So he doesn't give himself enough credit because he learned how to ride one in probably record time. So that's why I rolled my eyes.

MC: Wow. So I have a love, hate relationship with electric skateboards or as I call them, "internet skateboards." Just because I grew up from … I don't know, 12, 11, 12 years old skating, actual, real skateboards. And when those things started showing up, I was just pointing at them saying, "no." Boosted came out with the first one that I wrote on and I called it a "wrong board" in the review. Anyway, I've come around on them just because they get people out of cars and into the bike lanes and they're fun. So who am I to tell people that they can't go out and have fun on an internet skateboard? As long as they don't hurt themselves.

JC: Yes. I agree.

MC: All right. Well thank you for agreeing with me. Lauren, what's your recommendation?

LG: My recommendation, maybe it'll help Julian since it sounds like you got pretty banged up on that skateboard. It's a brand of bath salts made by Kneipp, which is a German brand. It's spelled K-N-E-I-P-P. I was calling it "neep". That is incorrect. A friend who speaks German, told me it's "k-nayp." But they're incredible bath salts. This friend who speaks German, gave them to me recently and I've been using the Relaxing Lavender bath oil and the Dream Away valerian & hops bath oil. And there's also a really good relaxation Lemon Bomb mineral bath salts. And pretty much you just can't go wrong with any of these, there's one with arnica with all of these bath salts and oils. So I recommend checking out Kneipp.

MC: So are these the bath salts that you smoke or do you crush them up and snort them?

LG: So it's funny. I didn't know that bath salts were also code name for crazy drugs that you smoke and … No, these are bath salts that you … There's a tub of running water somewhere and you put them in there and they fizz a little bit and they make you feel good. And maybe they're placebos, maybe not. I don't know. But just put them in the bathtub, you don't smoke them.

JC: OK. I don't have any scientific backing, but I will anecdotally say that I did have some other pain from a while ago and I did take a bath salt bath and it was great. It fixed me up right away the next day, so.

LG: Well, Julian, I'm going to send you some Kneipp. Especially now that I'm apparently, I'm an influencer, I'm recommending bath salt. Maybe they'll send me some and then I'll send them to you. Mike, what is your recommendation?

MC: I want to recommend a new podcast. It's called Curious Creatures. And it is called that because the two hosts are Lol Tolhurst, from The Cure and Budgie, from The Creatures, also from Siouxsie and the Banshees. Two sort of punk, post-punk icons from 70s and 80s. And it's an interview podcast where they interview guests every week, it's brand new. So the only guests so far have been James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem and the guy who is the original bass player in The Cure. They also answer listener questions. And there's a lot of shows like this, but I want to recommend this one because, first of all, Lol and Budgie are really funny, really charming British gentleman and their way of speaking and their way of telling stories is just … I could just listen to it for hours and I love it.

And the questions that come in from the audience are pretty good and they do a really good job of answering them. It's actually, it's my favorite part of the show, more so than the actual interviews, although the interviews are also good. Anyway, if you like sort of alternative music, I guess you could call it. The music of the darker stuff from the 80s and from the 70s, then you will like this show because they talk a lot about that era. If you just like interview podcasts about musicians by musicians, then it's a good one. Curious Creatures.

LG: All right. I can't promise I'm going to check it out. But as always, I love how you recommend the most obscure music podcasts.

MC: OK. Literally, a hundred albums sold between these two guys.

LG: OK, yes. You're right. The cure is not obscure

MC: This is not obscure music.

LG: No, you're absolutely right.

MC: Thank you. I appreciate it. OK. All right. Thanks everybody for joining us. Thank you, Brenda. Thank you, Julian.

JC: Thank you for having us.

BS: Yeah. Thanks for having us.

LG: Awesome as always guys.

MC: And thank you all for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes. This show is produced by the excellent Boone Ashworth goodbye. We will be back next week.

[Gadget Lab outro theme music plays.]

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