We Get Real AF

Ep 94: Tech Talk with Vanessa & Sue (Microsoft Cloud PCs, Zoom Privacy Lawsuit Settlement, Rain Drones in Dubai, and Blizzard Entertainment's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit)

September 13, 2021 Vanessa Alava & Sue Robinson Season 2 Episode 94
We Get Real AF
Ep 94: Tech Talk with Vanessa & Sue (Microsoft Cloud PCs, Zoom Privacy Lawsuit Settlement, Rain Drones in Dubai, and Blizzard Entertainment's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit)
Show Notes Transcript

Sue and Vanessa round up some recent attention-grabbing headlines in the world of science and tech.

Referenced:

https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/2/22605800/microsoft-windows-365-cloud-pc-streaming-html5

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/01/1023468165/zoom-agrees-to-settle-a-privacy-lawsuit-for-85-million

https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/online-safety-basics/

https://www.businessinsider.com/drone-technology-research-temperature-middle-east-weather-engineering-emirates-meteorology-2021-7

https://www.theverge.com/2021/7/30/22602655/activision-blizzard-employees-accusations-allegations-lawsuit

https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/3/22607356/blizzard-president-leaving-harassment-protest-brack


We Get Real AF Podcast Credits:

Producers & Hosts: Vanessa Alava & Sue Robinson

Vanessa Alava

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Sue Robinson

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Audio Producer/Editor: Sam Mclean  

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Technical Director: Mitchell Machado

LinkedIn Reset Gaming

Audio Music Track Title: Beatles Unite

Artist: Rachel K. Collier

YouTube Channel Instagram Website

Intro Voice-Over Artist: Veronica Horta

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Cover Artwork Photo Credit: Alice Moore 

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Sue Robinson  

Welcome back to we get real af everybody I am Sue Robinson.

 

Vanessa Alava  

And I'm Vanessa Alava. Be sure to check us out on social media @we get real AF across all social platforms. And be sure to subscribe rate and comment on the show.

 

Sue Robinson  

Every week Vanessa and I are doing this we like to just go through what's going on in the world of technology in the news. and also in science on to so many interesting things happening out there. Some are really way out and super futuristic, and others are practical and affect our everyday lives. Today, we have each selected a few topics that we wanted to tell you about. And then just sort of bounce our ideas off of each other. Vanessa, do you want to take it away with your first tech topic of the week?

 

Vanessa Alava  

Sure. I think this is pretty relevant as we are all kind of navigating this hybrid model of working remotely now and potentially going back into the office. But Microsoft announced that it's ready to rent windows 365, cloud PCs, and it starts for as little as $20 per month. But I think that this is really going to give especially maybe not so much like these large large businesses, but medium sized to small businesses, the opportunity to potentially address security issues, people will be able to log in to their desktop, per se, and use all of the things that they would at their desk at at their physical location in the office. And I know for a fact, you know, larger organizations do have what they call these intranets, where you do login and you have a password, and everything is saved and you get to kind of just pop in and out and nothing is tampered with, if you will. So this could be an option for Hey, we're gonna give you a stipend for equipment use of your personal equipment. But this is going to be a login, where you go in, you're able to see the server, you're able to access all of our files, but you're going in and out with a login and password increase security it’s very affordable. So it definitely caters to this new business model of hybrid working. What do you think, Sue?

 

Sue Robinson  

I think it sounds really intriguing. And makes me think of it sounds to me, if I'm understanding it correctly, like sort of an extension of the virtual proxy network, the VPN, that we're all using any way to log into our company servers, and we know, have varying levels of security on them. But you're taking your, your own personal PC, and connecting it to a cloud based PC, which is then connecting to all those things. So maybe that adds another layer of Yeah, to your point, security.

 

 

Sue Robinson  

really interesting. And yeah, I think we're gonna be hybrid for for the foreseeable future, potentially remote, depending on how this delta variant goes. So

 

Vanessa Alava  

Exactly. definitely check it out. They have varying levels of subscription. But this is for, you know, enterprise business use.

 

Sue Robinson  

Yeah, for sure. Well, moving on, and the topic of working remotely. And you know, we've all been on so many zoom meetings over the past year and a half. And you guys may have heard that zoom was ordered by a judge to pay a settlement for not securing all the virtual meetings that we were in, in in 2020. There were incidences where hackers got in where pornography showed up during a zoom meeting or other kinds of information was extracted from that meeting. And so, zoom has reached an $85 million settlement lawsuit, which for individuals affected if you were part of that class action suit, ends up being about 25-15 to $25 per person, I think they're calling it zoom bombing, I guess is the term for actually getting hacked. during your zoom meeting, we had two episodes back in 2020 with Rebecca Herold, the privacy professor, they were episodes number 23 and 24. And I really advise you all to go back and listen to those because she had just great practical advice about if you are as we expect, we will continue to be meeting with people remotely. There are things that a lot of folks just don't think about like and thank goodness for these virtual backdrops like you see Vanessa and I have here right now if you're watching us on YouTube or on Twitch right now, but previously people you know could look through your camera and see what's around you in your room. They could Actually geolocate you through your computer, so it's just so important to continue to be vigilant. And, and really, really mindful that when you're in these meetings or in these presentations or on your, you're on a platform like we are right now, just be aware that somebody could be watching.

 

Vanessa Alava  

Absolutely. And I just want acknowledge zoom is a great platform. Yeah, we use it for our, you know, recording of our podcast. And, on Twitch live it’s a great resource, and no one could have anticipated obviously, what happened last year, and the influx of people that were going to start utilizing zoom. So it was only a matter of time before, again, we always talking about the tech for good. And the the users are the ones that sometimes, , cause, you know, havoc here, but it was only a matter of time before those types of things happen. And hackers are out there, and they're gonna try to, get attention. So, honestly, $85,000,000, $20 a person's kind of like a drop in the bucket for for Zoom, I think, especially after a year, like last year where so many relied on their service. So I think they did the right thing. And they're acknowledging it. And you know, I don't feel like it's Zoom Shame on you. It's like, there's only a matter of time people, especially in technology, I think, at some point in time or another, you're going to be a victim to this type of thing.

 

Sue Robinson  

Yeah, you just have to be really mindful. And I actually would love to have on our podcast, a white hat, I think they call them white hat hackers, people who are ethical hackers, right? Who actually, you know, the government works with and companies work with who try to get ahead of the real hackers to try to figure out what the vulnerabilities are in your system. That is such an interesting world. I think so if y'all know anybody?

 

Vanessa Alava  

Yeah, I would actually take that a step further. Because I think it's super interesting real hackers that were doing it for not great intentions before who are now on the good side, like them about motives and why and ask them about that, that transition to the good side, from the dark side, you know, like that would be really interesting to me. So if you're, you're a hacker out there, and you've had a change of heart. We'd like to, we'd love to chat with you. 

 

Sue Robinson  

But we may be a little paranoid about how we how we go about doing that. Right, what platform we're using. But anyway, yes, it's a very interesting sphere. And it's, as long as we continue to rely more and more on our technology, we're going to be hacked. And we're going to have to, you know, stay ahead of the bad intent.

 

Vanessa Alava  

Yeah, absolutely. I don't know, Sue. Mine is like a pretty in depth talk. let's tap into, a couple of the others that you have. before we get into this one, because I think this one's going to take up the rest of the of the show.

 

Sue Robinson  

Okay, sounds good. So on a similar vein about being hacked. And, the nefarious side of what can happen when you're interacting with anybody through the web, just a heads up to those of you who do Facebook games, or social media games for who use those apps where they take a picture of your face, and then they they app can change that into a cartoon or a painting, those things are really fun to do. I know, especially probably our kids find those things to be entertaining, and they use them on social media. But those kinds of quizzes, and apps can actually make you really vulnerable to hackers, because a lot of times the social media quizzes will say things like what high school did you go to, or they use stuff that is frequently used as pass phrases by people as well. And regarding the apps that take people's pictures, and then morph them into something else. There's no control or really knowing whether that company that created the app, Where were your pictures then going? So especially when they're free apps, I think the watchword here is that anytime you download something for free, you are not the customer, you are the product. And just keep that in mind.

 

Vanessa Alava  

Yeah, I mean, they're testing their product out on you, right? So it's really interesting. And the thing one, the one that comes to mind the most is Snapchat, right? Like you have a picture of yourself, you're playing with filters. And, you know, my question is with those types of apps and this is just hypothetical, but it's live at the time that you're doing it. So is that being potentially recorded without you knowing not even intentionally by Snapchat, but by a hacker that’s in Snapchat, I mean, all these other dark places of the internet exist. We have to acknowledge so to Sue's point, be very, very careful and I guess I want to take it a step further games and quizzes, you know, that that are out there that are free and a lot of people play like the Candy Crush and all of that, and they're on it for hours at a time. Right? So what is it doing in the background of your device while you're playing? Like, what type of information Is it extracting during that time? Even if it's not, taking a picture of you, per se, or asking for a password, if it's on, and you're on it for that amount of time. What other information is it extracting?

 

Sue Robinson  

Yeah, yeah, I think that's those are all really fair questions and things that we need to think about. And we always like to remind people to be really conscientious about minding your privacy settings on all your devices. And so we will link in this episode on our show notes of the podcast, a really helpful guide for e commerce sites, email and voice communication, health apps, foods, delivery services, and mobile and location services, privacy settings, tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance, it's really helpful. And you can go to their website at stay safe online.ORG, but it's probably worth taking a moment to go back from time to time and check out your privacy settings on all those sites.

 

Vanessa Alava  

Yeah, I think that's so important to really hone in on Sue, because, as we've articulated with other, episodes of the we get real af podcast, that sometimes we just download these apps. And that's it, we just start using them versus going into the settings in the privacy settings of that specific app. So just know that you have that freedom to go in there and say, Yes, I allow this or no, I don't allow that. And Apple has also come out with a recent update that helps do that. But I would just go in that extra step into certain apps as you download them or from time to time just in case things have changed. and adjust those settings specifically for for the app that you're utilizing the most or if you're not utilizing the apps anymore, just delete them off your phone.

 

Sue Robinson  

Yeah, that was one of the top tips that Rebecca Harold, the privacy Professor gave us in those episodes in which we spoke with her on this podcast, do don't use the app, delete it, because it's still gathering information even if it's inactive. Exactly. All right, moving on to college textbooks. So I have three daughters who have graduated from college. And I can attest as a mom, and anybody who's a recent college grad, or remembers being in college knows how freaking expensive textbooks are. And so Pearson is one of the textbook publishers and they have decided that they are going to take a page from the Netflix business model. And they're actually going to start offering this fall a subscription service to their textbooks. And I think it's like $69 a month or something like that you can you can look it up. It's the article I found was on the Verge and Pearson is PERS and it's one of the textbook, printers, publishers. But I love that because college textbooks can be hundreds of dollars per course, and you use it and then you can either try to resell it, or if you're in Greek life, I know, sororities and fraternities have libraries and times of those textbooks, but it's a big expense. I love the idea of having a Netflix style subscription service.

 

Vanessa Alava  

I do too. we know how expensive these books can be. And having a subscription service to use the books for the amount of time that you're in advanced education or, you know, season of your life makes complete sense, especially if they give you access within your account to to highlight and cut pieces to put in like a separate note or Word document. I think that just makes complete sense. I personally, we talked about Kindles and you know, reading devices, one of the last times we had these conversations, I do like a tangible book to read. But when it comes to like school and using it only to gather information to learn and extract pieces that you want to remain in your brain, I think a digital copy where you can rent it versus paying sometimes $300 or more for one book. And even if you're renting it for that amount of time, like that's a lot of money, and you only get a certain portion of that back in the rebate when you're exchanging it. So this makes complete sense. And I'm surprised that it’s actually has taken this long for this type of thing to be to be a thing, right? Yeah,

 

Sue Robinson  

yeah. And it might be more environmentally friendly to more sustainable than publishing paper books. I don't know. But I thought it was pretty intriguing. And yes, everything is going digital, including our clunky huge, massive college textbooks. So Alright, I got one more and then we'll hop on to Vanessa's last one but I think this is super interesting. And this really relates to the use of drones in Dubai, to make it rain. So the average temperature the summer in Dubai is like in the 120s. I believe it's incredibly hot place. However, it is also a place that has a cloud cover that makes it suitable for using combat style drones to shoot electricity into the cloud cover. And what that does is it causes water droplets to condense. And when they condense enough, they drop and it rains. So we're using drones to create rain. And I think that that's super cool. The only thing that is questionable about it is that it doesn't actually generate new rain, it just draws moisture from the cloud cover over the United Arab Emirates to the Dubai region. So where it rains in Dubai, you're taking water droplets from your neighbors. So anyway, but it's kind of an interesting technology, what do you think

 

Vanessa Alava  

that just sounds like something out of a movie. This past weekend, we were watching some really old, medieval like movies with my daughter on Disney plus. And this just reminds me of like, you know, a tower evil witch, you know, cloud storming above lightning bolt, and then like a portal opens. But that's the that's insane. And, you know, obviously when we're using it for good. there always seems like there's like a caveat, right? Like, you're doing this, and it's gonna help this but you're also taking away from something that's naturally supposed to be happening over here. but I do think that in the sake of like, just talking about the technology and the the brainpower that goes into creating something like that, I think it's fascinating.

 

Sue Robinson  

And what's really interesting, and I didn't know this is that it was first this, this concept, it's called cloud seeding was actually first her formed in 1923. in Dayton, Ohio, and a professor, a college professor flew into the clouds with an airplane and use various chemical compounds to create the precipitation, but now we're using electricity shot out of drones. And so, you know, there's hope. I think what Dubai is trying to do next is target the cloud cover over places where they can collect the water basically, like ditches basically, so so that they'll have you know, so they'll have the capability not only to attract the rain, but to have it not evaporate right away. But of course, it's you know, part of this larger conversation about climate change, and how we're going to address that going forward, especially in parts of the United Arab Emirates, where some climatologist say the terrain will not be inhabitable by the 2050s, just because it's so dry and so hot. So anyway, if you're interested in that there's a website called interesting engineering that I found that talks a little bit about that. And I think if you just Google drone, rain and Dubai, you'll pull up so article solar.

 

Vanessa Alava  

So another thing that's coming into my brain is like, how is that eventually? Because if this is just the start of experimentation with this type of thing, when you're sending electricity up into the sky, is that or will that eventually interrupt Other types of digital connections and satellite connections? Because you're shooting electricity up into the sky? Right, like everything else revolves around the satellites that are orbiting, you know, so like, if you're shooting something up, and I understand power and like, reach, right, but it just seems like it would it would make something glitch at some point in time, right?

 

Sue Robinson  

Maybe? I mean, there's a lot going on up there. I think we know, I think that like the satellites are higher. And theoretically, my understanding is that these drones are playing around sort of in the cloud cover, maybe zapping laterally. but you're right, it's it's creating a lot more electrical activity while it's going on in that exactly. area. And so, who knows, I'm sure well, we'll have an update for that when

 

Vanessa Alava  

that signals like other signals going back and forth, every I mean, our phones are sending signals our computerized signals. So I mean, yes, I understand the the satellites are out in space, however, all these other signals that are kind of, you know, in the sky, being zapped by electrical, I don't know, either. Anyway, that's where my head's at. Very interesting, though. Um, very cool. technology. So yeah, we'll have to keep an eye on that. Absolutely. All right. Something I just think that's really relevant. And you know, I know that some of our audience, may or may not have heard of this organization, and in the world of Esports, but Blizzard Activision has been in the news as of late regarding some sexual harassment allegations and several employees have come forward. the President J. Ellen Brock has resigned and he's passing the torch to a couple of other leadership, individuals that he feels are really going to take Blizzard down a better path and realize its full potential. And we're talking about Jen O'Neill and Mike Ybarra., the allegations, Sue, I don't know if you've read about it, but they've been, like severe. And in the spirit of our podcast, and just talking about it, about the things that we do and empowering women, this has been going on for a very long time at this organization. partners that have realized this for a very long time have actually cut ties and have tried to guide Blizzard in the direction of, hey, you did this, we're gonna slap you on the hand, you should donate money to these causes, supporting women and all of that. But you know, we're at a level now with the the type of damage they've done, that they just need a rebrand completely. And we're talking about not only people that worked for them, but people who have interacted with them at different events that have been treated poorly. The things that these people feel entitled to tell women or to touch them in, in, in social settings. I I'm just, I'm appalled. I am shocked. And I'm saddened as well. Because as human beings like How dare you, you know,

 

Sue Robinson  

I'm shocked. And at the same time, I'm not shocked. And here's why. if you look at a lot of the gaming industry, and how women are portrayed, and the characters that are animated, is it really shocking and surprising that men in that industry, and it is largely a male dominated industry, with objectify women in the real world? I mean, and I just say that because I have, you know, so many of those. I mean, it's it's basically an industry where you have, and I'm not saying right or wrong, but it's, it's a lot of work games, and it's a lot of very sexualized, feminine bodies, female bodies who, right, so you know, that I mean, to me, those two things are probably related in some way. It doesn't justify it in any way. But I think it's, it's a moment to take a step back and think about how female characters are portrayed, and how women and femininity are portrayed in the gaming industry. 

 

Vanessa Alava  

Oh, 100%. I think that that definitely is a piece of it. And we always talk about creators and the diversity of your team and how important that is, because the content that you create is influenced by the individuals creating it. So absolutely, I think that's a piece of it. And it's been a long time, right? We've experienced this not only in gaming, but in films and how women are portrayed, I guess in my brain, when I say I'm shocked is when you're creating this fantastical world, there's like a there's a layer that this is a fake, quote unquote, world. And I'm not saying it's right, but, I guess I'm trying to make the comparison between something that is not real in a world you're engaging with versus a real human being, and feeling like you can touch that human being in areas that are very private, or literally talking and belittling them in, in sexual tone. I just think that there's like, there's this third layer here, where it's like, okay, you have a screen, you're interacting with this world versus in person touching them, or telling someone face to face, I think that is just that it's appalling and horrible. there's no filter there's no hiding behind it. I'm just shocked at the sheer like, gall of doing that to a human being, you know?

 

Sue Robinson  

Well, if you think about it, if you took it and again, take it out of the sex realm and put it into like if there were games being played that were very racially stereotypical. And that that were offensive, which you know, that that again, stereotyped in a negative, an exploitative way, somebody of a different race. Would you be surprised to find out at a conference that the person who creates those games is a racist and behaves in a racist way to you know what I mean? 

 

Sue Robinson  

But it doesn't make any of it right? It just No, it just says this is an industry that has a mindset, that to your point needs to have more diverse voices in it saying, Oh, we need to think in a more updated way, guys, we need to create games and environments that don't rely on hyper sexualization and diminished demeaning of women in order to be entertaining. Because if that's what you find entertaining, then that is going to carry over into the rest of your life. And it's going to carry over into conferences, and it's just going to carry over into how you treat co workers who fit into that stereotype that you have in your head. And it's going to create problems. So I am not, I'm shocked, but I'm not shocked. This is my take.

 

Vanessa Alava  

Yeah, no, and I understand your feelings, I understand your feelings of it being like a surprise, just because of how egregious, you know, the allegations are, but also saying, well look at the pattern, you know, and yeah, that is on that side of it. It's not as surprising. To take this a step further, we obviously have the sexual harassment, but it's also you know, the the commentary that has been exchanged between employees that have that now, you know, been brought to light. And whether that be partners or other employees, that are women have been almost just questioning their intelligence. And like, you know, going back to women don't know anything about technology or gaming, or, you know, what do you know about X, Y, and Z. And it has been very blatant, it has been very blatant, but demeaning the intelligence of women in this space, which is, again, like, how dare you, you know, and one of them particularly. And I'm not going to name names and all that you can read that the articles yourself. However, one of them particularly was a woman who dated someone who worked for Blizzard and entertainment as well, or Activision. And they were both in the same role, and he got hired around the same time, he was getting paid more than she was. So again, you're seeing that inequity of of gender again, and that that gap that we need to close somehow some way, even though we're having these conversations are being really, really vocal and loud about them, we need to connect the dots 100, what is it going to take?

 

Sue Robinson  

Well, I think one thing is going to take, and this is such a strong case for having a diverse industry, right? If you have a bunch of, and I'm not gonna say that, please hear me. I'm not saying that every every male in the gaming industry is a sexist guy, or is a nerd or, you know, it's easy to stereotype both directions, right? And we don't want to do that. However, what we can say is that when you have an environment where it's pretty much a concentration of one type of person, then you're creating an echo chamber for that type of person. And then the behaviors and the mentalities and the perspectives are strengthened within that echo chamber. So what you need to do, one of the the solutions is to increase the diversity of the people in that space so that it is no longer an echo chamber so that you get the perspective of the person who's being objectified, who's being hyper sexualized, and you go, oh, okay, whoo, you hadn't thought about that before. Because again, I was in an echo chamber before. So more diversity in the gaming industry, I think is an important place to start and a shout out to all the women who are breaking into into that world. Because it's not easy to be in that first Vanguard.

 

Vanessa Alava  

And shout out to the women that have been there have been like, so objectified that have been dealing with this type of behavior, because it's not right. And you know, it takes a lot of guts, and it takes a lot of bravery to come out and speak against the greater the greater majority in the room. And just the fact that we are the minority. And it's been it's really, really hard to do that. The culture here has been described, that's, we've talked about bro culture, but it was like a frat house. And if you have that stigma of, you know, old school frat houses, that is not positive in any which way. So, you know, it's, I'm happy that it's been brought to light, I really do hope that Blizzard takes the actions and steps to do the right thing to empower their employees to diversify the voices to empower women and right this really big wrong. I mean, you take this, this is an opportunity area, this is an opportunity moment. So So take it and do something really big and great with it. Because I do think that there's light on the other side, you know, you can take this moment and really Start from the ground up. Who do we need to remove from the situation? Who do we need to bring into the situation?

 

Sue Robinson  

Exactly. And again, to all the folks who are out there, who are gamers who are developers, who are not part of the problem, you know, we just want to acknowledge you as well, because we know you're out there. And you can be part of the solution by advocating.

 

Vanessa Alava  

And I want to thank personally, all the people that I know that are in this industry, that are men, that are wonderful human beings that are, you know, so inclusive, and open minded and just have great energy and spirit. And we need more of those those men out there within this industry, because and I know that firsthand, Sue, you know them firsthand. We have mutual friends. And we need we need those people to shine and to call out the other bad behavior and bring more women up and lift them up into this into this conversation and to empower them. So I just want to thank thank the people that I know because they're wonderful to hear. Yes,

 

Sue Robinson  

yeah, absolutely. All right. we thank everybody for joining us. As always, if you have suggestions for topics that you'd like to have us cover, if you have thoughts about this episode, please reach out to us. You can reach out to us at we get really [email protected] or you can go to our website and leave a comment. Also, we have a new company, Mic drop creative. That's MIC, Drop creative. And you can check out what we're doing there as well and get in touch with us through that website. But otherwise, we look forward to chatting with everyone next week.

 

Vanessa Alava 

Yes. Thank you so much for joining us.