Category Archives: podcasts

Gearhead: Digital assistants, Nokia 3310, and superstar Mark Ronson


One of the big benefits of the Ars Technica UK office is that it's right next to Wired UK. It means that, aside from chastising Wired over its 9-out-of-10 LG G6 review, we can work together on projects that otherwise wouldn't be possible. The first of those projects, Kelly and Rowland's excellent political podcast UpVote, launched alongside Theresa May's call for a snap general election. The second, an all-new podcast devoted to the latest technological gear and gadgetry, launches today.

Gearhead, episode 1: Digital assistants. Download the raw MP3 file, add to iTunes, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The Gearhead podcast, hosted by myself, Wired product editor Jeremy White, and Wired senior editor Victoria Turk, is a monthly (maybe even more often!) deep dive into what's hot in tech. Gearhead isn't a news show—we won't be reading out the headlines—but rather wrangling over new tech purchases, nonsense announcements, and how tech fits into our daily lives.

Episode one is all about digital assistants. Amazon's Alexa—which lives in devices like the Echo and Echo Dot—was the talk of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, showing up in everything from smart fridges to wireless headphones. Since then, Alexa has found new homes inside the camera-based Echo Look, and the touchscreen-equipped Echo Show, as well as phones like the Huawei Mate 9 and HTC U11.

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Decrypted: The Expanse “It’s part of the equation now”

Enlarge / Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper

It's been a fun 13 weeks, but the second season of The Expanse has finally drawn to a close. Did it feel like a satisfying conclusion to you? Readers of the books will note we're still not quite at the end of Caliban's War, so there's plenty more to come from the protomolecule and the crew of the Rocinante.

We got neither the cliffhanger nor the reveal of what the protomolecule has been doing, both of which will presumably show up in season three. While I got over my canon shock about the differences between the books and the TV version some time ago, I think the different pacing of the stories between mediums continues to trip me up. At times it feels like we're rushing through the chain of events at a gallop, and yet we're still not at the end of book two yet.

The show remains compelling, so I'm not complaining on those grounds, but I do hope the powers that be at Syfy will stick with it long enough for us to get us as far as Babylon's Ashes or Persepolis Rising. That was a topic of conversation when Tech Culture Editor Annalee Newitz joined me on the podcast this week. And apologies that it's a little late.

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Decrypted: The Expanse: Just get to the point

Enlarge / Shawn Doyle as Sadavir Errinwright. (credit: Rafy/Syfy)

My my, wasn't that a lot of palace intrigue in this week's episode of The Expanse? With season two rapidly drawing to a close—just one episode left—Errinwright has finally made his play, as has Jules-Pierre Mao. I'll admit that I didn't think Errinwright had it in him. We got to see a much more human side to his character this week, followed by a lovely bait-and-switch by the writers. "Earth first" indeed.

With Bobbie Draper and Coytar in tow, Avasarala went to meet Mao on his orbital gin palace—spaceships look pretty good if you're a gazillionaire. Again, the show has done an effective job of visualizing the kinds of small details that the books can only tell you about, part of the world-building that keeps me so engaged. Will Mao's ultimatum work? After Errinwright's actions this week, I wouldn't bet on it. But who couldn't love the needling between Draper and Coytar?

The tone was quite different for the scenes with Naomi on the Weeping Somnambulist. With only enough air for 52 people and more than 100 refugees trying to get off Ganymede, it turned into quite a tear-jerker, particularly Champa's exhortation to his fellow belters to remember who they are and how they live (and die).

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