My short bio: I'm a columnist and TV science/tech guy. Tonight is the premiere of my new NOVA series, "Making Stuff!"

My Proof:

EDIT: That was a blast, youse all! Thanks for coming prepared and interested!

Comments: 179 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

raphus_cucullatus13 karma

Did you know an anagram of your name is Avoided Pug?

pogueman11 karma

I can honestly say I never realized that.

kolbygoodman11 karma

What's in your pockets right now?

pogueman13 karma

I've been carrying around the iPhone 5s Apple loaned me to review, but now I have to ship it back. My own iPhone 4s is due for replacement (yes, I'm on a 2-year contract just like everyone else), and I'm mulling what to replace it with!

wtl-ntt9 karma

How did you end up being the host of Nova?

pogueman12 karma

Wow, that is a WEIRD story!

They had this grant to make a miniseries about materials science. Yeah, THAT'S a great topic for a TV show! Everyone thought it'd be dry as dust.

So they hired this genius outside producer, Chris Schmidt, to come up with a concept. His idea: (a) have a host (NOVA doesn't usually have hosts). (b) Pick a non-scientist host, someone who's curious and funny and represents the viewer. (c) immerse him in extreme situations--hang gliding, swimming with sharks, pouring gold--to illustrate the science.

For a reason that mystifies and delights me to this day, he and the head of NOVA both thought of me simultaneously!

Trickish7 karma

Hi David!

Thanks for combining humor and tech. (and for the awesome song in your ted video).

  1. Why is a tech writer's website not mobile friendly? come on already...
  2. What do you find the most amazing/promising about emerging technologies?
  3. How do you pronounce your last name for goodness sake?

Keep up the awesome!

pogueman8 karma

  1. Trust me, I'm aware of how awful my site is. We're redesigning it as we speak!

  2. Wearable tech is very cool. So far, nobody's really figured out what to PUT into our wearable technology--but the fact that people are trying is very exciting!

  3. It rhymes with "vogue." Or "rogue."

untogethered6 karma

I'm now laughing to myself a little imagining that there is any other way people could pronounce your last name. Pog-you. Pog-you-ee.

Haven't you whippersnappers heard of the Pogues?!

pogueman3 karma

I also kind of like "Pogue-way," because that's how you pronounce the word segue, after all!

zwendkos6 karma

What are your 5 most-visited websites? SFW, of course :-)

pogueman12 karma

Cool question! I'm a hardcore Google Voice user, so that link is first on my bookmarks bar. (That's where I can read--yes, READ--my voicemails. And send and receive texts. From the laptop.)

I also tune daily into NY Times, Facebook, Techmeme, and my local town news site,

SnakeEys51 karma

How do you read your vm??

pogueman6 karma

Google Voice automatically converts your voicemails into text--which they can text you or email you. It's amazing.

zwendkos6 karma

What is an industry where tech hasn't yet made an impact but you think will be impacted by it soon?

pogueman12 karma

There are examples all around us! Just look at Nest, whose Internet-connected, intelligent thermostat shook up the thermostat business (which hadn't changed in 50 years)! Now they're introducing a smoke alarm that will have the same effect!

We have much farther to go with cars/traffic/transportation. With groceries. With customized clothing shopping online. We're at the Commodore 64 era with those!

zwendkos6 karma

In your opinion, which of these "big player" social networks will be the first to fail and why?

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Instagram
  4. Google +

pogueman10 karma

Well, Google+ seems to have a rarified audience of tech folks; I'm not sure it has a real chance at becoming, you know, Facebook.

And Instagram is awesome, but also an easily duplicated, easily incorporated feature; such photo sharing might eventually be built into other gadgets and networks. So basically, I'd say #4, #3, #2, and #1, in that order!

zwendkos5 karma

We are starting to see companies like T-Mobile make an effort to give consumers more power and choice - do you think big cable companies will ever see the light and do the same?

pogueman5 karma

Not for a long time. As much as we like to report how people are "cutting the cord," they're really not. Last year it was 1 million people... out of hundreds of millions of customers. So it will take many more years for the cord-cutting wave to make the cable companies start being nice!

That time will come eventually, though!

JailbreakRoot5 karma

Do you think the amount of smartphones hitting the market at the same time is overwhelming consumers or is the availability of different types of phones better for consumers?

pogueman8 karma

OH, man, no question: it's overwhelming consumers. ALL of tech is overwhelming consumers. It's too much, too fast. It's a firehose. Terrible for our pocketbooks, terrible for the environment when we throw this stuff away in 13 months.

Unfortunately, the entire industry is based on the Upgrade Cycle business model. Everyone has a vested interest in churning out new models every six months.

dasslerv4 karma

I loved your Making stuff Nova series! When's part two coming out? Also, what's your favorite album?

pogueman6 karma

Why thank you, dasslerv! What'd we say I would pay you--$5?

Tonight is "Making Stuff: Faster." It's the only episode I've seen finished, and it's phenomenal. Really.

Then a new one every Wednesday. Next week is "Wilder," then "Colder," then "Safer."

Album? Do they still make those?

zwendkos3 karma

Do you practice any methods of "disconnecting" from tech?

pogueman6 karma

Yep! It's called "evenings and weekends with my kids!"

I'll admit, though, that I'm absolutely never without the phone to check texts and emails--but I'm not one of these creeps who does it at mealtimes or when you're talking to me.

email_with_gloves_on3 karma

If I can find my copy of Hard Drive, will you sign it?

pogueman3 karma

Of course!

Aithrozort3 karma

Hey David! It's been ages since I talked to you or ran into you at a Macworld Expo or somesuch, but I'm vaguely curious if you remember this :)

(I know this is kind of a frivolous question and not really relevant to the present, I just still find it pretty cool that I got to hang out with you all those years ago before you were a NY Times columnist and TV host and I was just into your books. I've continued to follow your work in more recent years and I'm still a big fan.)

pogueman3 karma

HOLY COW!!! That is an OLLLLLLD picture! What, 16 years ago?

Great to hear from you!

pogueman3 karma

Thank you, Reddit! I'm gonna wrap it up now. Those were fantastic questions--you come prepared!--and this was excellent fun.

Hope you like "Making Stuff" tonight--9 ET on PBS!

raphus_cucullatus2 karma

What Kickstarter projects have you backed?

pogueman4 karma

I backed the Snuglet, which has changed my life...

raphus_cucullatus2 karma

When will the next NOVA episode air? The one after tonights episode?

pogueman3 karma

They're every Wednesday night, starting tonight! 4 episodes in all...

[deleted]2 karma


pogueman4 karma

Answer the phone and say "yes."

Very few people can plot the course of their lives. Almost nobody grows up to be an astronaut, like they thought as a kid. So answer the phone and say "yes" to every offer.

Kizzeface2 karma

Hi David,

How do we best enable young women, particularly those from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background, to participate in a tech economy? Thanks for doing this!

pogueman8 karma

Dang. I have no good answer!

I'm good at recommending cameras and stuff, though...

zwendkos2 karma

What's the biggest perk of being a NYT tech writer? What's the biggest downfall?

pogueman6 karma

The biggest perk, for sure, is the instant credibility. "Oh wow! The New York Times! I've heard of that!"

They're an amazing group to work with, dedicated and doing important work. I guess the only real downfall is being associated, in some people's minds, with the Man. The Liberal Elite. The Whitebread East Coast Establishment. I get that sometimes.

jjppoo2 karma


pogueman5 karma

I guess the expected answer would have something to do with privacy. You know: "Facebook" or "Google" or "Apple", because they're tracking us all and selling our data for Evil Purposes.

Truth is, I'm probably more relaxed than most about privacy. We get a lot of really cool, great tech for free in exchange for our data. There are cases where data should be private (your past, your medical history, etc.), but I'm really not bothered if Stop 'n' Shop wants to see what I bought.

zwendkos2 karma

There's a lot of hullabaloo these days about "privacy", but some of us (yourself included I believe), don't mind giving the information in order for a more "personalized" tech experience. Where should we draw the line? And why should those who are worried about privacy not be so much?

pogueman4 karma

Superb question!

For me (and I know there are MANY who disagree), the line is: "At what point does it matter?"

If it's just somebody KNOWING something about my life, I guess I don't see how it matters.

If that information gives them an unfair advantage, or puts me at a disadvantage, or otherwise MATTERS, then the line has been crossed. But I was born without the gene that senses the Creep Factor in its own right.

evabin2 karma

I loved the original "Making Stuff" NOVA specials and am excited for tonight's program. Was there anything cool that didn't make the final cut you'd like to tell the world about?

pogueman3 karma

Oh wow--there were, for some reason, SO MANY stories that we filmed for this season that didn't make the show!

We filmed a robotic, remote-controlled hummingbird that the military has developed. Astonishingly realistic--REAL hummingbirds actually attacked it!

Also a robot BEE, 1/30th the weight of a penny! It actually flies. You actually control it!

We had one disastrous trip to Austria to film a "Colder" story about how they're saving the melting glaciers by covering them with reflective blankets! But we landed during a 100-year-flood! Our site, our scientist, and our thermal camera were all trapped behind the floodwaters--and then we were hit by a whiteout blizzard. Unforgettable--and kind of hilarious, in a way.

Brohimian2 karma

Got my DVR set for tonight!

My question did you become a tech writer? What was your first review about?

pogueman3 karma

Ha! Funny story.

I was a musician in New York, making pocket change working for a computer user group. Finale, the sheet-music program, had just come out for $1000. I wanted it BAD. But I couldn't afford it.

So the editor of our newsletter said, "Why don't you ask them for a free copy, and you review it for our little publication?"

I did. And I was hooked!

megapenguinx2 karma

If you had a choice, would you prefer a smartwatch or smartglasses (ala Google Glass)?

pogueman5 karma

The watch, for sure.

I think Google Glass has some profound social problems to overcome. When you're talking to someone wearing them, you're acutely uncomfortable. You know they could be filming you. It puts them in this artificially elevated social position, and it's profoundly obnoxious.

Plus, they'll be banned everywhere: movie theaters, courtrooms, stores, restaurants, sports events--anywhere that it's uncool to hold a camera in front of your face now.

CannonBall71 karma

Hi David, I've been reading you since your days as "The Desktop Critic". (The most I remember of eight years of music lessons are the stacks of Macworld issues my teacher gave me, which I still have…)

As the author of my much-loved copy of "The Great Macintosh Easter Egg Hunt", I ask you: whatever happened to easter eggs? Was it Apple clamping down on them after Jobs returned, setting a trend for other companies? Or has software become so transient—almost disposable—that programmers seldom bother putting them in? Or maybe there's still plenty of them out there, never to be discovered because we're all on reddit instead. Thoughts?

pogueman2 karma

Wow, I have wondered that myself SO OFTEN! It's so sad, the decline of Easter eggs!

As it's been explained to me, the problem with an Easter egg is that, by definition, it's untested. It's not part of the spec for the software. It's a wild card. And these days, software is deadly serious business; the marketers-that-be don't dare risk anything so uncontrolled. Sad, really!

rchaber1 karma

What is your personal digital camera?

pogueman3 karma

The Sony RX100. Quite simply, the best pocket camera ever made. HUGE HUGE sensor, amazing f/1.8 lens.

Now there's a sequel, the RX100 mark 2, with a tilting screen and WiFi. Both are amazing.

joshwooding1 karma

When do you think Apple will come out with a TV?

pogueman2 karma

I'm not sure they will!

They usually don't tackle a new category unless they have something profoundly different to bring to it. And Steve Jobs isn't there anymore to decide what that should be...

But, of course, nobody really knows!

fprintf1 karma

I always fall asleep during your NOVA Making Stuff (smaller, lighter etc.) episodes, despite the fact that it is all super interesting. Is there anything you'd recommend so you can get my full viewership, and thus get full credit for my participation?

pogueman7 karma

Main thing is to watch tonight's premiere, "Making Stuff: FASTER."

It is one VERY pulse-pounding science show, if I may say so.

If you can't stay awake watching $100 million carbon-fiber sailboats capsize, or 83-mph bicycles spin out and crash, then there might not be much hope!

raphus_cucullatus1 karma

Did you watch Gravity? What did you think?

pogueman3 karma

Just saw it. In IMAX 3-D, the only way to go.

I thought it was one of the most technically amazing movies ever made. I mean, eye-popping.

I guess the characters and dialogue didn't grab me quite as much. But it didn't really matter!

margevicius1 karma

Hey David;

Ever make it back to Cleveland? Always on the lookout for transplants who made it elsewhere.

keep up the great work.

pogueman2 karma

Yep! My parents still live there, so I get back a couple times a year!

raphus_cucullatus1 karma

Are you friends with Neil DeGrasse Tyson? What's he like?

pogueman4 karma

I only just met him recently, at a conference.

He was VERY warm, gracious, expansive, complimentary. (I replaced him on "NOVA ScienceNow," so that makes it extra-garcious!)

He's also brilliant and articulate and a powerful speaker, but you knew that.

dino771 karma

Dou you see a future for Chromebooks? Will it kill PCs eventually?

pogueman3 karma

Yes! I think they're really catching on.

But no, they won't kill the PC. Nothing will kill the PC. In tech, new products generally add on--they don't replace. Things splinter. We'll just have more and more categories of things!

zwendkos1 karma

Can I re-do your website for you? It's not very becoming of a tech journalist :-) I sent you an email when you posted about this on your twitter account, but haven't heard back yet.

pogueman3 karma

I haven't had a chance to go through all the proposals yet, but I will -- soon!

zwendkos1 karma

What was the first tech product that made you think "wow!"?

pogueman5 karma

If you really mean FIRST...

It was the Whistle Switch. Maybe 1974. I was nine. You could make this high hissy sound, either with your mouth or with a provided squeezy toy, to turn an appliance on or off. (Kind of like the Clapper.)

To me, it was magic. I eventually McGuyvered my entire bedroom, using the Whistle Switch to start a Rube Goldberg sequence involving a record player, Erector set motor, lights coming on, clothes folding by was called "The Automatic Room," and it was my masterpiece.

alexrepty1 karma

  1. Are you planning on ever making a sequel to The World According to Twitter? I found it very entertaining to read.

  2. How would you feel about releasing an SDK for the AppleTV? What kind of apps would you most look forward to?

pogueman2 karma

  1. Yes, actually! This time, I think it should be an e-book. Maybe free, maybe $1. "The World According to Twitter" basically sank like a stone--nobody bought that book--even though, as you say, it's pretty awesome. I think people thought it was a book ABOUT Twitter. Or something!

  2. At the very least, Apple TV should get all the services that Roku does! How about Twitter feeds?

How about the top item each day from

saeranm1 karma

Any reason you stopped doing the videos you use to do for the NYT?

pogueman2 karma

Actually, I started doing them again a few months back! Here are the most 25 recent ones:

Originally, the Times wanted 60 seconds, max, so they could incorporate these videos into their other Web broadcasts. Nowadays, they've lifted that limit, so they're usually 2 minutes or so...

jozkaa1 karma

Hello David, are you going to be again participating on TED conference? I totally love it, Simplicity sells and 10 tips are my favourite :)


pogueman1 karma

You are so kind, good sir Jacob!

I LOVE speaking at TED. It's an experience like no other!

But you have to be invited,'s really up to them!

d1sgruntl3d1 karma

What's the best MacWorld column authored by you that someone today should read?

pogueman4 karma

I think this one is probably my best:

We actually acted it out a couple of years ago, with LeVar Burton starring as Steve Jobs! Here it is:

ken272381 karma

If you were to make a "Missing Manual" for something other then tech and software what would It be?

pogueman3 karma

Oh man--taxes. Relationships. Parenting. Wines. Cellphone companies. Health. (Not that there's nothing out there about health--it's that there's TOO MUCH! Somebody should just tell us what to do, reasonably, and be done with it!)

dunphyben1 karma

Quick! Name the first 3 things that come to your mind.

pogueman2 karma

Lunch. Sleep. Tonight.

wiggum4hire1 karma

What can I do to get my future kids interested in math/science?

pogueman3 karma

Predictable answer: Watch NOVA with them!

Better answer: Do it WITH THEM! Get one of those Home Science Projects books from the library, and build some stuff on a Saturday. Vinegar-baking soda volcano. Egg in the bottle. Food coloring exploding on milk. That kinda stuff. Anything that YOU seem passionate about has a good chance of igniting THEIR interest!

verttex1 karma

One website for the rest of your life. What would you pick?

pogueman3 karma

You could probably do a lot worse than Reddit!

i_want_to_lick_her1 karma

Have TED talks really gone downhill? Or are we just exposed to more of them, and there was always the same ratio of pop-sci to interesting science? There was always a performance element of course, but now it's just...

Agree, disagree? And what could be done to either improve their quality, or their public image?

pogueman1 karma

There are just as many great TED talks as there have ever been--but now there are so many TED conferences (TEDx, TEDglobal, etc), it's harder to come up with home runs every time!

In other words, if there are 25 truly astonishing speakers a year, they're now spread out over ten times as many conferences...

In other other words, I think your theory is correct. :)

dunphyben1 karma

You've done a lot of things in your career.

  1. How do you find the time for all of these things? Do you have a social life?
  2. Are you really doing them yourself, or do you have help (such as researchers for books, ghostwriters etc)

pogueman4 karma

I have an incredible assistant, Jan, who does all the bureaucratic stuff for me: billing, travel, ordering and returning products. She leaves me free to do the creative part, which is an insane luxury!

Otherwise, I'm just superproductive, I guess. I use macro software and text expanders extensively; I carry my Air around constantly so I'm always working in planes and taxis; I've never had writer's block a day in my life! I basically run from one deadline to the next, always keeping one step ahead of falling behind!

dasf3200 karma

Do you have any stories about your interactions with Steve Jobs? Would he ever complain about your reviews?

pogueman5 karma

OMG, all the time. Jobs would call me at home, often late in the evening, to scream at me for something I'd written. Or flatter me, if it's something he liked. I've never heard of any other CEO--or ANY executive--doing that!

Once he called after I posted this video:

I was sure he was going to rip my head off. But he said it was "fking hilarious" and asked for the original QuickTime file!

firsttimedadd0 karma

Did you ever get a copy of Windows 8.1 to review?

pogueman6 karma

Yes! Thanks for asking!

I find it astounding that Microsoft would not give reviewers a copy of Windows 8.1 in advance of the public release. In 13 years of writing for the Times, I can't ever remember that happening!

So I asked on Twitter, and a friendly stranger offered me access to his developer download! 15 minutes after I asked, I had my copy.

Twitter, man. Twitter.

4thekids0 karma

Is your educational background in journalism or technology?

pogueman6 karma


I was a music major. I spent ten years conducting and arranging musicals on Broadway, in fact.

My interest in tech probably stems from my interest in magic, which has been with me since I was tiny; seems like consumer tech is the closest thing we've got!

SnakeEys5-1 karma

Hey David, thanks for doing this AMA. Just wondering, I'm work for a tech company and I'm always reaching out to tech journalists. Ideally, what's the perfect pitch? Also, any way you can check us out? SimpliSafe

pogueman3 karma

Perfect PR pitch to a tech writer:

Email. Short. Illustrated. No tech jargon. Express some familiarity with what that writer WRITES about.