Monthly Archives: July 2015

Sleepaway Camp for a 38-Year-Old Computer

When did you get rid of your last computer or cell phone? It was probably pretty recently—we replace our technology all the time. But it’s not this way for everyone: A contingent of diehard retro computing enthusiasts are still programming, hacking, tinkering with, and playing games on the Apple II, a 38-year-old computer originally released in 1977.

And every July, about 70 of these diehards head to Rockhurst University in Kansas City for KansasFest, a conference dedicated exclusively to all things Apple II. More accurately, it’s kind of like a sleepaway camp. For six days, the 70-or-so attendees will eat together, sleep in the same dorm, chug mountain dew to stay awake, and hack away at these things.

I visited KFest, as it’s affectionately known, to see why anyone would ever want to keep using a computer that’s coming up on its 40th anniversary.

Meet Motherboard

For the last six months or so, you’ve been listening to us talk at you about simulated universes and head transplants and transhumanism and all sorts of topics (and we thank you very much for that). But we haven’t really told you all that much about ourselves.

This week on Radio Motherboard, there is no guest, there is no topic, and there are no real rules. Instead, we bring through a whole bunch of Motherboard staffers (as in, whoever was available at the time) to learn what exactly it is they do around these parts. Along the way we talk about filming documentaries, corgis and professional wrestling, digital journalism, and, of course, encryption and security.

I’ve also heard back from our Editor-in-Chief Derek Mead, who shamefully informed me that those Vultures over at New York Magazine pulled off a 9-8 victory over the Vice softball team in a heartbreaker. This will all make sense later, I promise.

What Have We Learned from the Ebola Outbreak?

It’s now been just over a year and a half of the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. We’ve dabbled in vaccines, but the best prevention method is still abstaining from contact with symptomatic patients, and the best treatment is still basically hydration. We’ve figured out that Ebola survivors seem at least temporarily immune, making them ideal health workers, but we still haven’t perfected treatment protocols and caretakers are still dying from the disease.

This week on Radio Motherboard, we spoke to Kayla Ruble, who covered the outbreak in Liberia for Vice News, and who says we’ve learned that the most effective way to fight Ebola is to be aggressive with the most basic tactics: public awareness, basic sanitation, and working with the local culture instead of against it. We also talked to Mahad Ibrahim, who consulted with the Liberia Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in order to organize information coming out of the outbreak. He says we’ve learned that computers and mobile phones simply don’t work the way they’re intended in a crisis, and it’s better to have local health workers and volunteers take down notes on paper and digitize it later.

We also spoke to Decontee Davis, who contracted the virus almost exactly a year ago. She’s the woman who didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her fiancé before he died a few wards over. “People are still afraid. Even me, I am afraid,” she said. “If there is a single case, Liberia is still [in] outbreak. Right now, we have up to four cases. People are still afraid.”

“I will be happy when Liberia is completely Ebola free.”

Gawker vs Hulk Hogan

In October 2012, the gossip site Gawker published an edited video of Hulk Hogan having sex. In response, the former pro-wrestler sued the company. It’s now going to court in a case that could have wide-ranging consequences for the First Amendment. Radio Motherboard talks to Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker, and Maria Bustillos, a reporter covering the case.

AMERICA VOTES

On this most American of holidays, it’s a good time to take a look at how we select the people who run this ol’ country many of you call home. Like everything else, social media and technology are playing a huge role in campaign strategy.

Much was made of President Obama’s digital campaign, and for good reason: He lapped Mitt Romney in reaching people online with the help of his CTO, Harper Reed. Reed and Dylan Richard, the Director of Engineering for Obama’s campaign, joined us this week to talk about what they did on the campaign and about what has changed over the last four years. Are you going to be spammed on Snapchat by Marco Rubio? Hit up on WhatsApp by Hillary Clinton? Probably yes! And can Reddit turn its Bernie Sanders love into something resembling real political momentum?